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not only "until death” ends the contract, but for time and for all eternity; so that those entering into the holy state of matrimony under this law of God, with the engagement sealed and ratified by the authority of the holy priesthood, which has the power to “bind on earth and in heaven; to loose on earth and in heaven"-might have claims upon each other in and after the resurrection; and that relationship which has contributed so much to their happiness and refinement here in this life, might continue throughout the countless ages of eternity to minister to their exaltation and glory.
Relative to the servants of God in ancient times being justified in having a plurality of wives, he was informed that it was because they had received them by commandment from God, and in nothing had they sinned except wherein they had acted outside the commandments of the Lord. "God commanded Abraham,” says the revelation, “and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law, and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises. Was Abraham, therefore, under condemnation? Verily I say unto you, nay; for I the Lord commanded it.
David also received many wives and concubines, as also Solomon and Moses my servants; as also many others of my servants, from the beginning of the creation until this time, and in nothing did they sin, save those things which they received not of me. Subsequently Joseph Smith received a commandment from the Lord to introduce that order of marriage into the church, and on the strength of that revelation, and not by reason of anything that is written in the old Jewish scriptures, the Latter-day Saints practiced plural marriage.
But the question, "Is polygamy justifiable from a biblical standpoint,” still remains. The answer is, no; not in the sense that what is written of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and others now authorizes any one to take a plurality of wives without further commandment and authority from God to do so. But if the question be changed somewhat, and made to read: "Does what is written in the Bible concerning Abraham, *Doc. & Cov., Sec. CXXXII.
Jacob, David, and other men of God having a plurality of wives justify us in believing that God approved that form of marriage, and that it is therefore righteous ?—then the answer is, yes; most emphatically it does. And the fact that it does, very much strengthened the faith of the Latterday Saints in the revelation that Joseph Smith announced to the church on that subject. For example, they read of faithful Abraham taking Hagar, the handmaid of his wife Sarah, to wife; and when trouble arose in the family and Hagar departed from her husband's household, an angel of the Lord met her and commanded her to return.* Which, if plural marriage were sinful, the angel would not have done, but would rather have encouraged her in her flight from that which was evil.
Nowhere do we find the Lord reproving Abraham for taking Hagar to wife; on the contrary, when the Lord appeared to him some time after the birth of Ishmael, he promised him a son by his wife Sarah, through whom all the seed of Abraham was to be blessed. And when Abraham prayed for the welfare of Ishmael the Lord promised to bless him also, saying: “And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee; Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.”+ Subsequently, when about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, the Lord again visits Abraham, renews the promise that Sarah shall yet have a son, calls Abraham his friend, and reveals unto him his intentions of destroying the cities of the plain; and then Abraham successfully pleads for the righteous within the cities. In all this there appears no displeasure towards Abraham for marrying more wives than one.
The history of Jacob furnishes still more striking proofs of God's approval of plural marriage. The story of his marrying the two daughters of Laban, Leah and Rachel, is too well known to need repeating. But when Rachel realized her barrenness she gave her handmaid, Bilhah, to be her husband's wife, and she bore Jacob a son. “And Rachel said, 'God hath judged me, and hath heard my voice, and hath given me a son.'"I Then, when Leah saw that she had *Genesis XVI: 9. Genesis XVII: 20. Genesis XXX: 6.
left off bearing children, she took Zilpah, her maid, and gave her to Jacob to wife; and the sacred writer adds: "And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived and bear unto Jacob a fifth son. And Leah said: God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband."*
Again: “And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened unto her, and opened her womb, and she conceived and bear a son; and said: God hath taken away my reproach."+ If plurality of wives were wrong in the sight of God, would he bless in so remarkable a manner those who practiced it? Would he hear the prayers of those polygamous wives, and answer them with blessings—take away the reproach of the barren Rachel, the second wife of Jacob, and make her fruitful, and give more children unto Leah as her “hire" for giving her husband another wife when he already had three?
If a plurality of wives, I mean, of course, as practiced by Abraham, Jacob, and the prophets, is a sin at all, it must be adultery-it can be classed as no other.
"Now the works of the flesh are manisest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness,
and such like, of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in times past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
The adulterer, then, cannot inherit the kingdom of God; but we find the following coming from the lips of Jesus concerning Abraham, Jacob, and the prophets: “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth when ye shall see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out." Again: “And I say unto you that many shall come from the east and the west and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."!! We are driven to the conclusion by this testimony that polygamy is not adultery, for were it so considered, then Abraham, Jacob and the prophets who practiced it would not be allowed an inheritance in the kingdom of heaven; and if polygamy is not adultery then it cannot be classed as a sin at all.
*Genesis XXX: 17. 18. Genesis XXX: 22, 23. Gal. V: 19, 21. SLuke XIII: 28. Matthew VIII: 11.
David, the king of Israel, and a "man whose heart," we are informed, "was perfect before the Lord,” had a plurality of wives. His first wife was the daughter of Saul; but while fleeing as a fugitive before the king of Israel, he married Abigail, the widow of Nabal, and also Ahinoam, of Jezrell, "and they were both of them his wives."* Yet notwithstanding David practiced a principle which the Christians of today denounce as evil, we are taught by the Scripture that “David did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite."+ If David did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah's wife, he must have done that which was right in the eyes of the Lord when he took Abigail and Ahinoam to be his wives; hence a plurality of wives, as David practiced it, must be right in the sight of God. David's great sin in the case of Uriah's wife also throws some light on the subject in hand. The circumstance is well known-David committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, and then had her husband placed in the front of the battle where he was murdered. For this crime the Lord sent Nathan, the prophet, to reprove David. In the course of that reproof Nathan said:
“Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; and I gave unto thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things."
From this we learn that the Lord not only gave David the kingdom of Israel and Judah, but also delivered him out of the hands of Saul, and gave unto him his master's wives into his bosom, and intimates that if this was not enough he would have given unto him more wives. If polygamy were sinful, was it not wrong for the Lord to give unto David the widows of Saul into his bosom when he already had several wives? If for a man to have a plurality of wives is sinful, then in this instance, at least, the Lord was a party to the wrong. And the Christians of today who, in the face of the *I Samuel XXV: 42, 43. +1 Kings XV: 5. 11 Samuel XII: 7, 8,
truth just pointed out, will still insist on the sinfulness of polygamy-virtually accuse God of being a party to the evil.
The child which was the fruit of David's adulterous connection with Bathsheba was smitten by the Lord with death; and all David's fasting and praying was of no avail to save it.* After the same woman became the polygamous wife of David, she bore unto him another son—they called his name Solomon, "and the Lord loved him."| When King David waxed old and usurpers were laying their plans to secure the throne of Israel to themselves, instead of Nathan the prophet coming with a severe reproof from the Lord, we find him uniting with Zadock the priest in an effort to place this polygamous child Solomon on the throne of his father David, and they were successful, Solomon became king. I
The Lord appears to sanction his appointment also, for no sooner is Solomon made king than the Lord appears to him and promises to grant whatever he might desire; and when Solomon prayed for wisdom, the Lord promised to bestow it upon him in rich abundance, together with long life, honor and great riches. Solomon was also chosen to build a temple to the Lord.ft And when it was dedicated the glory of God filled the house in attestation of Divine acceptance. 11 The Lord also appeared unto Solomon and gave him an assurance that the temple was accepted. S$
What a contrast between the child begotten in adultery and the one born in polygamy! The one is smitten of the Lord with death in his infancy, the other is "loved of the Lord,” exalted to the throne of his father David, chosen to build a temple to God, who gives most positive and public proofs of his acceptance of it, and also reveals himself unto him, warning and encouraging him. Surely in all this the Lord God has stamped adultery with unmistakable marks of his displeasure, while, on the other hand, he has set his seal of approval on polygamy.
Neither is the case of Solomon the only instance where God acknowledges and blesses the children born in polygamy. When Jacob, just previous to his death, blessed his children,
*II Samuel: XII. II Samuel XII: 24. I Kings I: 13. SI Kings: III. #11 Kings V: 5. 911 Kings VIII: 10, 11. SSI Kings IX: 1-3.