Remark 1. On the second particular in the stating.
Here my friends they have unjustly left out of the stating every idea of my concessions, which neither they nor the church have as yet candidly enough attended to, so as to allow me any abatement at all for: Which whether they are sufficient to settle upon or not, yet absolutely alter the view of the matter: For if taken, and they weigh just as much if they are not taken, they absolutely reduce the matter, from openly and avowedly, to a secret maintenance of the doctrine only; for only this cause in my concessions, viz. Offering to promise to say no more about it, plainly manifest (as I have often said) that I have no desire to propagate the doctrine, that I am willing (in case of settlement) to give over my own judgment for their's as much as possible, and to put them under every possible advantage to condemn the doctrine, while I voluntarily divest myself of all possible means of defending it, by promising never to say any more about it. Hence the second point ought to have been stated thus, viz.
Whether, though Polygamy be considered as contrary to the will of God, it ought to be deemed heretical and censorable, for professor only to think it lawful, without ever designing or endeavoring to propagate it, suggesting, or wishing a present or future practice of it, and holy content with the laws customs and fashions of my country: And therefore they have in this, doubtless been wrong, if not uncandid.
Remark 2. On the first reason from the law of nature.
It has been proved, that although the marriage institution was made single, yet as other single injunctions and institutions were meant to be complicate, so also was that of marriage. See Plea II. see also the answer to the second objection.
With regard to God's creating but one woman for one man, there are weighty reasons to be given for that; such as these, viz. Women not being so stable as men; and therefore the covenant would not have been on so good of footing, if he had made more women than one. And the covenant being made with their first parents, it should seem they were made with special reference to it, and not for mighty swift population, which when their trial was over was soon carried on with Polygamy.
Moreover, God is plainly told us his designs relative to the covenant, but has never once said that single marriage was his design, nor told us to look to Adam and Eve for pattern of it. Neither is there any certainty that God wanted the earth to populate fast from the beginning; but it is certain that God, if he chose, could have made them populate twenty times so fast as they did, whether he had allowed them to live in Polygamy or not.
Remark 3. On the second reason from the law of nature.
What propriety is there in drawing this conclusion, that that this is a time, if ever, for God to show his approbation of, and make provisions for Polygamy; when it was his professed design to divest the world of its inhabitants, and saved those eight persons, because they happen to belong to the family of Noah, who was righteous? May we not more fully conclude, that Polygamy was early practiced, and in after generations evidently owned and blessed by God, that it was both included as lawful in the original institution, and well enough established, even before the days of Noah? Or what evidences are there that it was God's design, either in the beginning or after the flood, that man should populate so very swift? There are therefore no arguments against Polygamy.
Remark 4. On the third reason from the law of nature.
How could they prove the sexes, as they have asserted, to be nearly equal, and that of men to be rather the greatest, I cannot devise; neither they nor we have any medium whereby it is possible to know the exactness, that computations of various authors being very different, and even contradictory; be that as it may, if they can prove that at all times and places there ever has been, and ever will be more effective men than women, or even an equality, then I will forever give up the doctrine of Polygamy, as contrary to reason; but if in any state or kingdom, there should be, at any time, more effective females than males, I must believe from Scripture and reason that Polygamy would be reasonable, lawful and right in the eyes of God, under proper regulations, there being no more moral evil in double than single marriage.
Remark 5. On the revealed will of God, &c.
It is a matter of astonishment, that this counsel should think that the revealed will of God was so very plain against Polygamy, when there is not a single text express against it in all the Bible; or that that text in Gen ii, 24, limited one man to one woman, when we find God, both as God and lawgiver, evidently approving of Polygamy, in a variety of instances, and even among is chosen people, - - - a divine institution, they say, which has never been repealed, altered or changed. It is true, is it not; but if we consider God (as we ought) by his own apparent, approving conduct, to be the explainer of the marriage institution he had made, we must certainly conclude, that he concluded Polygamy (as lawful under certain circumstances and regulations) in the original marriage institution: If he did not, he surely altered it, or (it should seem as though) he as Lawgiver did act inconsistent in an apparent approbation of it. This original institution, they say, was referred to, by our blessed Savior, with approbation, and Mat. xix 4,5. It was indeed referred to, by our Savior; but it is evident, not with a design to either approve or disapprove, only as it is certain he always approved all God's laws, he no doubt approved it therefore; but never told us whether it included Polygamy or not, that being a point already settled in his view; but it was certain from the 3rd verse of the same chapter, that he referred to it, in order to argue the inconsistency and unreasonableness of putting away a wife, except for the cause of fornication. And they say, the same original institution, was quoted by the apostle, Eph. v 31. which was referred to as an emblem of the union that subsists between Christ and the church. Very true, and so the prophets referred to the same marriage institution, as a fit emblem of the covenant union between God and his people Israel; and at the same time, believe and practice Polygamy, from the same original institution. And they say, that the church is one, and he called his wife, his spouse, his bride. True indeed, and so was God's people Israel. Jeremiah iii former part of the 14th first, Turn, oh backsliding children, saith the Lord, for I am married unto you, &c. And I grant they were once in union in both cases; and also they are one in double marriage as well as single; and we know that Israel, God's people, did, and Christ church, at present do consist of many individuals; and is therefore no conclusive argument against Polygamy; but rather shows the reasonableness of it: for if Christ's church, which consist of many, can be so united, by the covenant of grace, as to be one, which the Apostle expressly says is a mystery, and the same analogous union subsists in the original marriage institution, then no doubt but it included from the very first, the doctrine of Polygamy, by virtue of its making how many so ever there were joined in it, all one flesh. And thus the emblem seems to be just, Christ the head is one is singularity , and his church are one in plurality: And to the husband is one in singularity, and, in double marriage, the wives are one in plurality.
They say, moreover, the doctrine of Polygamy is virtually, if not expressly forbidden and those texts, Livit. xviii. 18. This is already answered in the answer to the 3d objection. And in Mat ii. 14,15. --- Matt xix 9. This has been answered in the answer to the first objection. 1 Cor vii 2,3,4 This is the answer to the 6th objection. 1 Timothy iii 2 - 12. Titus i. 6. And as they say, many more; but I doubt of any. In these last seems to be held up to view, that a bishop and a deacon should have at least one life, that they might not be tempted astray; and that by their having families well governed, it might thence appear that they were capable of keeping good order: But it does not appear that they were forbidden to have more wives than one; but allowing they were, then it would be an argument that others were not, (can't make out the word) would be improper so to speak; but thus, if it is not lawful for men in general to have more wives than one: Much less may a bishop or a deacon. In either case, it does not, nor can not mean anything against Polygamy.
Now, why the gentleman should say, these texts, in our opinion, need no comment, and notwithstanding all that has been said to invalidate their evidence, stand in full force against the doctrine of Polygamy, or even though nothing had been said against them, must appear very strange to every candid person; for it is plain, that whether they really are against Polygamy are not, they are not express and plain against it, and therefore need explanation and comment; and that whether anything had been urged against them are not. How do they mean to be understood? That there was really no force in what was advanced against them? Surely no; for that would be to act beneath the gentleman: Or do they mean that we should put our trust absolutely in their opinions of them, and make them cannonical in the case? This is the likeliest, which yet remains uncertain; but let the candid judge.
Remark 6. And now they proceed to an artful, find fabricated argument, covered with plausibility enough. They say why Polygamy should be tolerated, under the Old Testament dispensation, it is as easy to be accounted for, as that a man should put away his wife. But they leave out of the account a fact, that in reason and justice belonged to it. vis. That Jesus Christ condemned the toleration of putting away a wife in express words; but never said anything against Polygamy, though he sundry times had the subject of marriage in hand; nor is there a single text against it, express to be sure, it in all the Bible. They go on and say, or that Abraham, Jacob and David should be guilty of lying, and yet never be particularly reproved for it. They did not hear observe, that lying is expressly forbidden in Scripture; but Polygamy is nowhere forbidden, expressly to be sure. They go on the same sophistical way of arguing, and say, it would be very unfair, in our opinion, to maintain that lying and deception were lawful, under certain circumstances, and produce the examples of those good men to support it; for the examples of good men were never designed for our imitation, any further than theirs were agreeable to the word of God. True, surely, but then they have got to prove that Polygamy is contrary to the Scripture as lying and deception, which are plainly and expressly forbidden. They have surely forgot, that God has evidently owned and blessed Polygamy, both as God and Law Giver; and that it therefore not being contrary to Scripture, the examples of good men are to be followed in Polygamy; or at least may be followed under proper regulations.
Remark 7. And now they raise a duplicate sophistical argument against Polygamy. First, they introduce the imaginary sad consequences of Polygamy, as introducing irregularly and confusion into families and societies, and end the subject with the same. And Secondly, in the midst of the subject, consider Polygamy as a just punishment to those who give an unbridled reign to their lusts.
The second and middle argument I shall consider first. And here they cite Proverbs v. xviii. to prove against Polygamy, which is no way to their purpose; because the wife of the youth that Solomon so earnestly advises his son to be always ravished with, is apparently a fit emblem for wisdom, understanding and discretion, which meant religion and virtue; and this he put presses him to get, keep, seek after, and be governed by, in a variety of places besides this fifth chapter. And to this, that we have no account of Solomon's repentance for Polygamy, or any man else's, anywhere in the Bible. And as to Polygamy being a punishment to unbridled lusts, it remains to prove that all who live in Polygamy do give the unbridled reign to lust. For first, all are not obligated to live in Polygamy; and there is naturally as much odds in the inclinations and abilities to perform the conjugal duties, as there is in eating, drinking, and the like: – – – Hence, it may often happen that those who live in Polygamy, by their own choice, may give no more rein their lusts than those who live in single marriage: And therefore a man's having a plurality of wives is, under the circumstances, no more a demonstration of unbridled lust, then a man's having a plurality of farms, houses, and ritches of any kind, is a demonstration that he is a worldling, covetous, and wicked, &c. And, second, all those who give an unbridled rein to lust, though they live in single marriage, both deserve and naturally receive punishment thereby: It is however evident from Scripture, that marriage is a natural and lawful remedy against the unbridled reign of lust, that is against fornication; and if in general, men need one wife to keep them chaste, some men may as much need two, three, or more, for the same purpose. And since God has nowhere forbid, not reason neither, unless where there is a deficiency of females; there remains no conclusive argument against Polygamy.
But to return to the first and last part of their duplicate argument, drawn from the supposed bad effects of Polygamy in family and society. And;
1st. If to have more wives than one is dangerous and destructive to families; because, in this elapsed state, it may probably prove the occasion of quarrels between those women, the same reason will hold, why a man should have no more children than one, because they may quarrel, as Adams children did, and kill one another. But if we pursue the same matter and say, that to have more wives than one at a time enlarges families, and therefore renders them more difficult to govern, and more apt to raise feuds, which, though true, is as much against many children, as many wives, and equally against all manner of larger communities or governments; if it forbids in one case, it equally forbids in all; and thus is subversive of all manner of government, rendering it necessary for everyone to be by himself, lest he should occasion some difficulty; or, at the least, if societies and governments cannot be avoided, that they should be as small as possible: The absurdity of which will ever appear, the truth of the matter is doubtless this, that the marriage institution was designed by God, as a fundamental necessary regulation of society, and a proper epitome of civil government; and that these, of all others, should be some larger, some less, as we see in a variety, even where single marriages only are tolerated; and that lesser families are not always free from feuds, and under the best government; the reverse; and of all others. Yet they bring the sad divisions in the family of Jacob, which, they say, invoked his race in bondage and slavery. It is true, they did; but in order to gain the argument, they have got to prove, that if Jacob had ever had but one wife, and the same number of children, that either the same scene, or some other as bad, might not have taken place; when it is certain that we are all of light by nature, and therefore the children of one woman are as bad as children of two or three. And the same may be said of what they call the tragical scenes of rebellion and murder in the family of David.
And thus they have prepared themselves to give the church their nicely fabricated, plausible, sophistical, and consequently uncandid and unjust advice; and that not without some very high reflections. And now it is a wonder if the church is misled by it to condemn me unjustly, as undoubtedly they have done?