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he bestowed as great blessings upon the children of his polygamous wives as upon the children of Leah, nay, the blessing of Joseph the son of Rachel, is greater than that pronounced upon any one of the rest. Moreover, when Reuben, Jacob's oldest son, by transgression lost his birthright, instead of the birthright falling to Simeon, the next oldest son, we are informed that it was given unto the sons of Joseph.†
We learn from the description given of the New Jerusalem that there will be twelve gates in the wall surrounding the holy city, and on these gates will be written the names of the twelve sons of Jacob, born of his four wives. We have already quoted the words of Jesus, showing that polygamous Abraham, Jacob, and the prophets will be in the kingdom of God, and will doubtless have their abode in this New Jerusalem, so that it appears that if our modern friends, who so bitterly oppose the practice of the saints in having a plurality of wives, ever go to heaven, gain an admittance into the "heavenly city," it will be by passing through a gate upon which is written the name of a polygamous child, only to be ushered into the presence of such notorious polygamists as Abraham, Jacob and many of the old prophets. It appears to the writer that modern Christians must either learn to tolerate polygamy or give up for ever the glorious hope of resting in “Abraham's bosom"-a hope which has ever given a silvery lining to the clouds which hang about the deathbed of the dying Christian. But the indignant unbeliever in the rightfulness of a plurality of wives, rather than associate with polygamists, may prefer to pluck off his crown, lay aside the golden harp of many strings, give up the pleasure of walking the gold-paved streets of the holy city whose "builder and maker is God," and take up his abode outside, where the whoremonger, the liar and hypocrite dwell, and where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Surely he must do this or make up his mind to honor those who have believed in and practiced plurality of wives—more properly celestial marriage.
Right here it might be as well to mention the fact that *See Genesis XLIX, 22-26; also, Deuteronomy XXXIII: 13-18. +1 Chronicles V: 1, 2.
according to the genealogies given by Matthew and Luke, so far as the earthly parentage of Jesus is concerned, he came of a polygamous lineage, some of his progenitors being polygamous children, and many of them practiced that form of marriage. Surely some other line of descent would have been chosen for the Son of God if polygamy were sinful.
In the laws given to ancient Israel--and God was their law-giver-we find several, which more than foreshadow the permission to practice plurality of wives. Here is one in Exodus which regulates the practice by forbidding the husband to diminish the food of the first wife, her raiment, or her duty of marriage when he takes him another wife: "If he take him another wife, her food (i. l., of the first wife), her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish."*
Again, we find a law regulating inheritances in families:
If a man have two wives, one beloved and another hated, and they bave borde him children, both the loved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated: then it shall be, that when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved first-born before the son of the hated, which is indeed the first-born: but he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the first-born, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath; for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the first born is his." +
It may be claimed that this law relates to cases of a man having two wives in succession, and that is true; but it also relates to the case of a man having two wives simultaneously, and this idea is more forcible when we remember that Israel was a polygamous nation; and this is where the force comes in as an argument concerning plural marriage: both women are regarded as wives—their rights and the rights of their children are considered equal; and if the second wife, even though she be hated, should bear the first son, that son must not be defrauded of his birthright, he must inherit a double portion of his father's possessions. This construction is not strained, it is natural, and proves that God intended to provide for the rights of the polygamous wife, as well as to pro.
*Ex. XXI: 7-12.
tect the first wife in hers. This careful legislation gives us another instance of God's approval of polygamy.
We quote another law:
"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 unto him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her, and it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of the brother, which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel."*
How eminently unjust this law would be if God regarded polygamy as sinful, and prohibited its practice! Under such circumstances a young man would be liable to have forced upon him his brother's wife, and would be debarred from making any choice of a wife for himself. But there is no provision in the law which exempted a man who already had a wife from taking his deceased brother's wife-it is as binding on those already married as upon the single, and would occasionally enforce the practice of polygamy. Those who refused to comply with the requirements of this law were disgraced before all Israel by the wife of the deceased brother, before all the Elders, loosing the latchet of his shoes, and spitting in his face, and forever after “his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed."+
Is it possible that God was such an imperfect legislator that he enacted laws for his people, which, if obeyed, would enforce upon them the practice of that which was sinful, that which would destroy the purity of the family, and undermine the prosperity of the state? Yet such must be our conclusions if we adopt the opinions of the modern religionist, and moralist, who persist in saying that a plurality of wives, even though practiced under divine direction, and hedged about with all the restraining influences of religion, will result in these calamities to society. Need I comment on this presumption in poor, weak, short-sighted man, or exclaim how consummate is that egotism that will call in question the wisdom of the great Jehovah's laws?
The following is a summary of reasons we have for be-
lieving that God approved of a plurality of wives as practiced by the ancient patriarchs, and many of the leaders and prophets of Israel, and that in this sense polygamy is justifiable from a biblical standpoint:"
First.—When a polygamous wife deserted the family of which she was a member, the Lord sent an angel to bid her return to that family, and promised to make her seed a great nation.
Second.--The Lord heard and answered the prayers of polygamous wives, blessing their marriage by granting them children; and, in the case of Rachel, the second wife of Jacob, performing what men call a "miracle" -making the barren fruitful-in attestation of his approval of her polygamous marriage with Jacob
Third.—The men who practiced plural marriage by no means forfeited the peculiar blessings promised to them before they were polygamists; on the contrary, the promises were renewed to them, and greater blessings added-God continuing to be their friend, and revealing himself and his purposes to them.
Fourth.-God himself gave unto David a plurality of wives, tbus becoming a party to the evil, if polygamy be sinful.
Fiflh.-God owned and blessed the issue of polygamous marriagesmaking a marked contrast between them and illegitimate children.
Sixth.-So far as the earthly parentage of Jesus is concerned, he came of a polygamous lineage, which certainly would not have occurred had polygamy been unlawful and the issue spurious.
Seventh.-The Lord gave unto ancient Israel a number of laws under which polygamy was not only permitted, but in some instances made obligatory.
The force of the cases here cited does not depend upon technical translations of particular passages of scripture, they sweep through the whole history of Israel, and are interwoven in the legislation of the Hebrew race.
ation of the Hebrew race.* And while all this may not justify men now—without further commandment from God-in marrying a plurality of wives, what is here set forth does establish the fact that God did approve of a plurality of wives as practiced by his ancient servants, and presents an array of testimony so strong that not even the authoritative voice of Rome can strike down its force; nor the
*After this article was written, it occurred to me that in order that no question might arise between Doctor Reiner and myself about the proper translation of passages quoted, I had better quote from the Roman Catholic English translation of the scriptures, but on comparing the texts in that version of the scriptures with the King James' translation, the one commonly used by us, the difference was so slight and immaterial that I judged it to be unnecessaay to make the change.
odium that may attach to some of the coarse utterances of Martin Luther and his associates on the subject, affect the fact of God's approval of that form of marriage. And that which he approves, and so strikingly approves, must be not only not bad, but positively good, pure, and holy. Therefore I conclude, that since God did approve of the plural marriage custom of the ancient patriarchs, prophets, and kings of Israel, it is not at all to be wondered at that in the dispensation of the fullness of times, in which he has promised a restitution of all things, that God should again establish that system of marriage. And the fact of God's approval of plural marriage in ancient times, is a complete defense of the righteousness of the marriage system introduced by revelation through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Monarch of every human being, I.
Destiny shapes itself beneath my hand.
I pave the way for crime's debasing brand.
I govern all below and all above.
That hour your hope is lost or fortune's made.
And woe to him who hesitates, afraid!
And in the other want, hate, and disgrace;
John D. UNDERWOOD.