The Seer/Volume 1/Number 4/Celestial Marriage
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Volume 1, Number 4, Celestial Marriage
|The Seer, Vol. 1, No. 4, April 1853|
Having proved the eternity of the marriage Covenant, and illustrated the design of this divine ordinance, it may not be improper to carefully examine some of the results which necessarily flow from this sacred institution. All who admit the eternal union of husband and wife are obliged to admit as a necessary consequence a plurality of wives; for there are circumstances wherein this could not be easily avoided: for instance, Mr. A marries Miss B for time and for all eternity; in process of time his wife B dies, leaving several children. The widower, Mr. A again marries Miss C. Question—How will his wife C obtain a husband for all eternity? It is evident that she must remain single, without a husband, in a future state, or else be married to Mr. A for eternity as well as time. If she choose the latter, then Mr. A would have two wives in the morning of the resurrection. Again, Mr. A may be unfortunate by having his wife C taken from him by death; if he marry the third time, he would then have three in eternity; and so on. Also again, Mr. A may die before his wife B; his widow marries a young man C for this life only, as she is already bound to her deceased husband for eternity. Question—When Mr. A claims his wife in the resurrection, what will Mr. C do for a wife? Answer—He must ether do without one, or else be married to a second one in this life; in the latter case, he would have tow living in this life at the same time. Therefore, if marriage for eternity be a divine institution, as we have abundantly proved it to be, then the plurality of wives is a divine institution also; for the latter necessarily grows out of the circumstance arising in relation to the former.
Another instance may be mentioned; it is often the case that there are many females who never had the offer of marriage from young men in whom they could place confidence to entrust themselves for all eternity. Question—Must these females remain without husbands in the eternal worlds? Would it not be far better for each of them to be connected in marriage with a faithful man, like Abraham, though he may already be a married man, than to remain in a single state to all eternity? Would it not be far greaterhappiness for her to be the second, or third, or fourth wife, and thus be placed in a condition to raise up an endless posterity, and enjoy with her husband all the glory and honor of his increasing kingdoms, than to remain as an angel or servant, without posterity, for ever and ever?
And again, there are many widows, whose husbands die without embracing the gospel; these widows may never have the offer of marriage by single men. Shall they be left unprovided for in the eternal covenant of marriage? Would it not be a blessing for them to be placed at the head of a numerous offspring, by whom they would eternally be respected and reverenced in connection with their husbands? What faithful, virtuous woman would not prefer to stand as the sixth or seventh wife of a good and faithful man, rather than to have no husband at all throughout the endless ages of eternity?
When nation rises against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and the sword devours from one end o the earth to the other, as the prophets have predicted should be the case in the last days, many millions of fathers and brothers will fall upon the battle field, while mothers, and daughters, and widows, will be left to mourn the loss. What will become of these females? Answer—The gospel will be preached to many of them, and they will flee out from among the nations, and be gathered with the Saints to Zion. Under these circumstances, the number of females will far exceed the number of males. How are the overplus females to obtain husbands for eternity? We will answer this question in the words of Isaiah, “In the day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name to take away our reproach.”—Isaiah iv, 1. This we see that the reproach of having no husband will be far greater than the reproach of seven women having one husband; indeed the latter will be no reproach at all; it will be the only means of taking away their reproach; being a divine institution, it will be sought after with eagerness, even at the expense of eating their own bread and wearing their own apparel.
The Apostle Paul says, “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man in the Lord.”—1 Cor. xi, 11. If, indeed, it be true doctrine that in the Lord the man is not without the woman, nor the woman without the man, then it is of the utmost importance that each should secure a companion in the Lord, that is, be joined together by the authority of God as one flesh, not only for this life, but for that which is to come. No man can be “in the Lord,” in the full sense of this passage, that is, he cannot enter into all the fullness of his glory, “without the woman.” And no woman can be “in the Lord,” or in the enjoyment of a fullness, “without the man.” This divine institution being properly taught and understood, it will be considered a reproach for any man or woman to remain in a single state, and not comply with the ordinance of God, by which they can legally in their immortal state “multiply and replenish” the New Earth with an immortal offspring. In order that this reproach may be taken away, “seven women shall take hold of one man.” They will understand that without a husband, they never can fulfil that great command which was given to immortal beings; they will learn that if they do not place themselves in a condition to obey it, they must suffer the penalties thereof, and arise no higher than the angels whom Paul informs us the Saints will judge. The calamities of war will be so great in that day, that the females will be for more numerous than the males; hence, the Lord says, “I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.”—Isaiah xiii, 12. In that day the long established custom of the male’s first making the proposition ofmarriage to the female, will, in some measure, be reversed. Instead of a man’s seeking to obtain the consent of seven women to become his wives, they will importune him to grant them that privilege; and for fear that he will object on account of the expense of so large a family, they will promise to “eat their own bread and wear their own apparel,” if they can “only be called by his name to take away their reproach.” And to show that the Lord sanctions that order of things and bestows great blessings upon the people where it shall be practised, Isaiah, in the following verses, says, “In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy.”—Isaiah iv, 2,3. And in the fifth verse, he informs us that “The Lord will create upon every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and a smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night.” “The branch of the Lord,” which is to be so “beautiful and glorious,” having upon all its dwelling places and assemblies, a cloud by day and a fire by night, is the very people where seven women are to be united to one man, and to be called by his name to take away their reproach.
It will not only be a reproach for a woman to be without a husband among the people of God, but it will also be an affliction for a married woman to be barren; for the Lord has commanded the male and female to multiply; it will be a cause of sorrow not to fulfil this command: this was the case in ancient times. When Leah, on of Jacob’s wives, had borne to him four sons, “she left bearing.” “And when Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah, her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife.” And after this, she called upon the Lord, “and God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived and bare Jacob the fifth son. And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband.”—Genesis xxx, 9, 17, 18. Here it will be seen, that God hearkened to Leah and gave her a fifth son, and the reason assigned for this blessing was, “Because she had given her maiden to her husband.” This was a n act which pleased the Lord, and, therefore, He hearkened to her prayer.
But why was the Lord pleased with this order of things? Because He is no respecter of persons; and Zilpah, no doubt, was just as worthy of a husband and posterity, as Leah. And, although Rachel had given Bilhah to Jacob for a wife, yet it seems for some reason, that Leah delayed following the example of her younger sister, and, therefore, she was barren, but when she became willing to give Zilpah to Jacob, the Lord blessed her for the act, and heard her prayers, and gave her another son. Both Bilhah and Zilpah would probably have failed in getting husbands for eternity, if Rachel and Leah had not given them to Jacob. There may be many similar circumstances in the last days wherein females would fail of entering into the eternal covenant of marriage where they not given to a man already having a family.
Can a woman have more than one husband at the same time? No: such a principle was never sanctioned by Scripture. The object of marriage is to multiply the species, according to the command of God. A woman with one husband can fulfil this command, with greater facilities, than if she had a plurality; indeed, this would, in all probability, frustrate the great design of marriage, and prevent her from raising up a family. As a plurality of husbands would not facilitate the increase of posterity, such a principle never was tolerated in Scripture. But a plurality of wives would be the means of greatly increasing a family, and ofthus fulfilling the command, not only to a far greater extent on the part of the husband, but also on the part of the females who otherwise might have been under the necessity of remaining single forever. As instances of the great increase arising from a plurality of wives, we will mention several of the Judges of Israel; one of whom had thirty sons; another had thirty sons and thirty daughters; another had forty sons; (the number of daughters is not mentioned;) another mighty man of God, namely Gideon, had seventy-two sons; (the number of daughters is not known.) (See Judges viii, 30, 31; also ix, 5; and x, 3, 4; and xii, 8, 9—14.) Among all the people of Israel, the Lord chose Gideon, a man having many wives and children, to redeem His people from bondage. To this Polygamist He sent His angel, and showed him great signs and wonders, and gave him many revelations how to deliver Israel.
The Psalmist says, “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is His reward. Happy is the man that hat his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” (Ps. cxxvii, 3—5.) The reward which God bestows upon His people is children. The Lord’s heritage is children: hence the great anxiety of holy men and holy women in ancient times to increase their children. And hence the Psalmist predicted, concerning the redeemed of the Lord that should be gathered “out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south,” that after they should wander in the wilderness, in a “solitary way” where they should be permitted to “prepare a city for habitation,” the Lord would greatly bless the poor man “and make him famil[i]es like a flock.” —(See Psalm cvii., 2—7, 35—43.) Instead of the righteous, in that day, being sorrowful to behold a poor man having “families like a flock,” the Psalmist exclaims, “The righteous shall see it, and rejoice; and all iniquity shall stop her mouth. Whoso is wise and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving kindness of the Lord.” Those who are not righteous and are not wise, and will not observe what the Psalmist says, will no doubt think that a strange thing is happened in the land, when they hear of a poor man’s having “families like a flock.” The wicked will, no doubt, open their mouths and cry Polygamy! Polygamy!! With a view to frustrate the fulfilment of the prophecies; but they will find, before they get through, that they are fighting against God, and against His purposes, and against His divine institutions, and against the fulfilment of the prophets. They will soon find that “iniquity will stop her mouth,” and that the Lord is, indeed, in the midst of His people, and that “he will rebuke strong nations afar off,” and send forth His laws from Zion to govern all people. Then shall they know that when the Lord gives a man “families like a flock,” He intends it as a blessing and not as a curse; for “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord,” and happy are they who, through the everlasting covenant of marriage, obtain this great reward.
At a certain time Peter said to Jesus, “Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundred fold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.”—(Mark x., 28, 29, 30.) To receive “now in this time” an hundred fold of houses and lands—an hundred fold of wives—an hundred fold of children, &c., is certainly a great temporal reward. A man that leaves one wife for the gospel’s sake, receives a hundred wives inreturn for his sacrifice: a man that leaves three or four children for the kingdom of God’s sake, receives three or four hundred children as a reward “now in this time.” But how does he get his hundred fathers and mothers? These would naturally come along as he obtained his hundred fold of wives: for the parents of each of the hundred wives, he would lawfully claim as father and mother. And the brothers and sisters of each of his wives he would naturally claim as his brothers and sisters. “An hundred fold of houses and lands” would be as necessary as any other part of these promises of our Saviour; for they certainly would be needed to comfortably support an hundred fold of wives and children. Well did the Psalmist say that “Children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Well did he say that the Lord should make for the poor man, “families like a flock;” an hundred fold of families, dwelling in a hundred houses, certainly would have very much the appearance of a “flock.”
A plurality of wives was not only sanctioned of the Lord among Israel, but in certain cases it seems to have been absolutely necessary. The Scripture says: “If brethren dwell together, and one of them die and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother unto her. And it shall be, that the first-born which she beareth, shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.”—(Duet. xxv., 5, 6.) If the brother of the deceased was already married, it did not relieve him from the responsibility of the law; he was required to marry the widow of his brother, in order to raise up seed to him, “that his name be not put out of Israel.” Here then, is a case where a man would be obliged to come out in open rebellion against the law, or else have a plurality of wives living at the same time. Now take the case of seven brethren; let them all marry. If six of the brothers died without children, the seventh would be obliged by this law to marry the six widows; hence, he would have seven wives living here in this life, or otherwise be a transgressor of the law. If the surviving brother have no previous wife at the time he marries his brother’s widow, (as the first-born must not be considered as his seed, but must take the name of his deceased brother,) and if the brother’s widow fail to have children, or, at least, have but one, what will the living brother do for children to bear up his own name in Israel? Shall he, who married his brother’s widow for the sake of building up the name and house of the dead, be left childless, and have his own name blotted out from under Heaven? No, verily no; he would be under the necessity of marrying another wife, besides his brother’s widow, in order that his own house and his own name might be perpetuated among the tribes of Israel.
The continuation of the name and posterity of a righteous man was considered a great blessing; hence David exclaims before the Lord, saying: “The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee.”—(Psalm cii., 28.) To have the chain of posterity broken by death was considered a great calamity, therefore the Lord made strict provisions for such cases. If the deceased had no brother living, it then fell upon the nearest kinsman to marry his widow. We have an example of this given in the book of Ruth: her husband being dead, and having no child, nor any brother to marry his widow, Boaz, his uncle, one of the brothers of his father, took Ruth for his wife, “to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place.”—(Ruth iv., 10.) ThusBoaz and Ruth became the great-grandparents of David.
This order of things did not originate with the law of Moses; it was in existence in the days of the patriarchs, long before Moses was born. Judah had three sons, namely, Er, Onan, and Shelah. Er, having married Tamar, died because of his wickedness, without a child. “And Judah said unto Onan, go in unto thy brother’s wife and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. And Onan knew that the seed should not be his,” and though he married her, he refused to “give seed to his brother. And the thing that he did displeased the Lord; wherefore he slew him also.”—(Gen. xxxviii., 6, 10.) Shelah being too young to marry, Judah required Tamar to “remain a widow at her father’s house until Shelah was grown.” Thus we see that before the law of Moses was given, the patriarchs understood and practised the law which required the brother of the deceased to marry his widow, for the purpose of continuing the name of the dead. This law as we have seen necessarily includes a plurality of wives.
In a nation as numerous as Israel there would naturally be many thousands of instances throughout all their generations where husbands would die without children; and there also would be many thousands of instances where the living brother or next kinsman, though already married, would be required by the law to marry the widow. It must be remembered that this order of things was in full force, and all Israel were required to observe it, at the time our Saviour and his apostles went forth preaching among that nation. Question—Was there anything connected with the Gospel and teachings of Christ or his apostles, intended to abolish the law in relation to the widow of the dead? When our Saviour and his servants went forth through all the cities of Israel, preaching, baptizing, and introducing into the Church all who would receive their testimony, is it at all likely that they condemned those who had married a plurality of wives in obedience to the law? What would they naturally have said to a man who had married half a dozen widows of his brothers who had died childless? Would they have condemned him for keeping the law? Would they have refused him entrance into the Christian Church, because he had been faithful to the law? Would they have required him to put away the widows of the dead, whom the law had compelled him to marry? If he had not kept the law, would he not have been condemned by the law? Hear what the penalty of disobedience is, “Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, amen.”—(Duet. xxvii, 26.) A man, then, was bound under a heavy curse to marry all the widows of his deceased brothers who died childless. Must he, therefore, be a cast-away for doing his duty? Must he be kept without the pale of the Christian Church, unless he put away all his wives but one? Such an idea is preposterous. On the other hand, if Jesus and his servants had found a man in all Israel who had refused to obey this law—who would not marry the widows of his dead brothers, they would have reproved him as a transgressor; they would have told him that he was under a curse for neglecting to obey the law; they would have warned him to repent; and it is very doubtful whether they would have received him into the Christian Church, unless he first manifested his repentance by observing the law, and marrying the widows, as required.
And again, we ask, was it not just as necessary for Israel, under the Christian dispensation to observe this law, and perpetuate the name of the dead; as under the Patriarchal and Mosaic dispensations? Why was it necessary that the name of the dead should be held so sacred, until Christ came, and then be entirely neglected and forgotten? Some may say that when Christ came, “old things were done away and all things became new.” But who does not know that this had reference only to the law of carnal commandments and ordinances which Christ came to fulfil? Who does not know that there were many commandments and laws which were connected with the law of ordinances, which were continued under the gospel? The ten commandments were not done away in Christ. Prayer which was practised under the law, was also necessary under the gospel. The law against adultery was not abolished by the gospel. The gospel did not abolish the law against stealing, against killing, against taking the name of the Lord in vain, against false witnesses, against drunkenness, or against any other abominations. Christ did not do away the law of doing good to one’s neighbour, the law of uprightness and honesty which should characterize their dealings one withanother. Christ, by introducing the Gospel, never intended to abolish the law practised among Israel in helping the poor, the needy, the fatherless, and the widow. Hence there were hundreds of commands and laws under the Patriarchal and Mosaic dispensations which Christ did not come to do away. What was moral, and good, and righteous before Christ came was equally so after he came, unless we can find some evidence to the contrary. If it was a good, moral, and righteous act, before Christ to remember the dead who left no posterity, it was equally so after Christ, unless we can find something in Christ’s doctrine abolishing the law of marriage in behalf of the dead. What is there in the gospel that conflicts with the idea of the widows of several brothers that are dead, marrying the only surviving brother, and the firstborn of each being called after the name of the dead, that his name and lineage might be perpetuated to future generations? Why should it be thought so very important to continue the names and lineages of the millions of Israel for thousands of years, and then all at once abolish the law established for this purpose?
There were thousands of Israelites, who, if they lived up to their law, must have had a plurality of wives when the gospel was first introduced among them. And as the Apostles were commanded to preach the gospel to every creature, they must have preached it to these thousands of Polygamists. How could they become members of the Church of Christ? If plurality of wives was not tolerated in the Christian Church, it is evident that these Jewish Polygamists would have to break up their families, and each give a bill of divorcement unto all his wives but one: but the Gospel forbids the giving of a bill of divorce, only in the case of adultery. The Gospel says “what God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” A man then, who had married several widows of his deceased brothers according to the law, (being under a heavy curse if he refused,) would have no right to put them asunder or give them a bill of divorce. What must he do? According to the views of modern Christendom he could not enter the Christian Church with a plurality of wives, and according to the gospel he would have no right to divorce them. Therefore, he would be without hope; no possible way for him to be saved. Who so destitute of common sense as to believe, for one moment, such absurdities? Thousands of the Israelites, then, were compelled, through fear of the curse of disobedience, to marry a plurality of wives, and these thousands of Polygamists were compelled by the gospel not to divorce their wives only for the sin of adultery. Therefore either the Christian Church must have tolerated Polygamy, or else they must have been under the necessity of unlawfully divorcing that which God had joined together, or else they must have considered that all such, because of their faithfulness to the law in behalf of the dead, had place themselves beyond the reach of Gospel mercy. Here are three alternatives; which will the Christian choose? To choose either of the latter two would be, not only unscriptural, but sinful in the highest degree. The first alternative alone remains, namely to tolerate the plurality system as a divine institution; to admit Jewish Polygamists into the Christian Church, with all their wives, through their faith and obedience to the gospel.