Under the following HEADS, viz.

  • With many other INCIDENTAL MATTERS;


An Examination of the Principles and Tendency of  Stat. 26 Gf.o. II. c. 33. COMMONLY CALLED The Marriage Act

What in me is dark

Illumine, what is low raise and support;—

That, to the height of this great argument,

I may assert Eternal Providence,

And justify the ways of God to Men.



Preface to the Second Edition

Notwithstanding the disadvantages under which this work has laboured, a second edition has long been called for, and now makes its appearance, in as expeditious a manner as the necessary delay of printing would permit.

The author would therefore fain hope, that the book has made its way by dint of that intrinsic truth which it contains, the point of that intrinsic truth which it contains, the importance of the subjects treated, the important ends proposed, and that conformity to the oracles of God, which it professedly makes the basis of its contents.

A work which militates against the receive notions, long customs, and inveterate prejudices of mankind, can expect but little quarter from the world in general, and, of course, but little of that fort of candor, which is shewn to performances of authors who write on the popular fide of a question. This was fully experienced at the Reformation, when Luther, and others, published against the ridiculous fopperies and gross villainies of Popery, they had volumes written against them, in which they were represented in every odios light imaginable. The were “heretics–antichrists–factors for the “devil” –and , in short, all that was bad; — but the abuse of their adversaries had one good effect — it proved how much at a lass there were for fair argument, grounded on scripture-evidence, and how little able they were to meet their opponents with the weapons of a spiritual warfare. (2 Corinthians 10:4) Seldom does abuse serve any better purpose in controversy, than to created a very strong presumption, that those who give it have nothing better on their side, and therefore are in the wrong, and that those who receive it are, therefore, in the right.

With regard to the article of abuse of an author, if it be of the personal kind, let him set it down as so much gained; if it lights upon his book, let the book answer for itself, and if it cannot do this, let him set down the abuse which it meets with, as what it deserves.

Another expedient, which some critics have used to depreciate a work, is, to separate some given subject from the rest, destroy its connection with the main argument, and then,  by selecting, in like manner, detached sentences or paragraphs, make these appear to their readers in a light not only different from from the author’s intention, but diametrically opposite to his whole meaning,

Owing to this it has been, that the subject of polygamy has been selected, and the indiscriminate practice of it said to be recommended by the author of Thelyphthora. To guard against this, in the plain and express manner which he has done ( vol 2, p. 174-177, 288, and n. And 335, n.) he is sorry to find was to little purpose: these passages were overlooked, whether intentionally or not, is to be left to those who best know.  However, let the whole that the author has written on the subject be taken fairly and candidly together, and it will appear, that nothing more is said, than is warranted by scripture, nature, and reason. And to prove that the indiscriminate prohibition of it in all cases, however circumstanced — which is no where warranted by the law of God — is one source of public prostitution — which, Montesquieu truly says, “may be looked upon as the greatest of misfortunes in a popular state.”

I know no book, the Bible itself not excepted, which may not be abused by partial quotation; — and by that which is one consequence of it, misrepresentation. — We may prove atheism on David, as having said, “There is no god;” –a recommendation of drunkenness from Psalm 104:15 where he says, “ Wine maketh glad the heart of man;” — or we may suppose, that the prophet Isaiah, and the apostle Paul, meant to encourage the licentiousness of a Scavoir vivre[1] club — by saying — Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. (Isaiah 22:13, I Corinthians 15:32)

Something like the disingenuousness which would attend such proofs as there, has attended the misrepresentation of the author’s treated polygamy. — he has maintained its forming a part of the divine plan, which was so evidently calculated for the preservation of the female sex from desertion and prostitution –but by a part only of what is said on the subject being taken, and placed in another point of view, he is accused of recommending polygamy as an indiscriminate practice, to the subversion of the peace and domestic happiness of every family in the kingdom — and idea as foreign from his purpose, as it was from the Apostle’s (1 Timothy 5:23) to make Timothy a wine-bibber (greek) — See Proverbs 23:20, Matthew 11:19 — when exhorted him to –drink no longer water, but  to use a little wine for his stomach’s sake, and his often infirmities. Thus polygamy is mentioned in no other light, throughout  this treatise, but as [2]expedient in some cafes, [3]necessary in others, to prevent mischiefs of an infinitely more deplorable kind., both to individuals in particular, and to the public in general than can possibly arise from every man’s being obliged to keep, maintain, and provide for. As the scripture has commanded, the women he seduces — but in order to this, its lawfulness must be proved, for if it be disallowed of God — there is an end of all questions upon the subject, and we must sit down contented under the present ruinous state of things, which is every day increasing the licentiousness of our men, the destruction of our women, and the [4]depopulation of the land.

As for partial and unfair representation, it has been an usual way of injuring arguments which do not easily admit of plain and fair answers.

Thus the Papists served Erasimus, on his publishing his “Translation and Paraphrase on the New Testament.” A great clamour was raised against him by the faculty of divinity at Paris, as before at Basil; and “Natalis Beddaa, a doctor of divinity, who was at that time Syndic of the faculty, collected several propositions, which, as to the full import and general sense of them, were lame and imperfect, being separated from what went before, and from what followed after, and thereby might be taken in an ill sense; whereas, if they were red with what went before, and what followed after, it would be found they were found and orthodox.” And thus at length a decree was passed against him, and “those doctors who were on the side of Erasmus, were obliged to hold their peace, left by speaking their thoughts freely, they should become odious, and their lives be made uneasy.” (See Du Pin, Cent.16. P. 267-. Eng. Transl.)

What Erasmus wrote on the treatment which he met with from many quarters, on account of his publication, deserves our notice, as containing a proper admonition to those who condemn, because they read with prejudice; and to those who are profligate enough to condemn, without reading at all.

“A reader should come to the perusal of a book, as a courteous guest comes to a feast. The giver of the feast does his endeavour to satisfy all; yet, if any thing be brought to the table, which may not be agreeable to the palate of this or that person, they politely dissemble their dislike, or even approve, rather than grieve him who has invited them. For who could bear with that guest, who comes to the table only with a disposition to find fault, and neither to partake himself, nor suffer others to partake of the entertainment?

Yet you may find others more uncivil that these, who openly, and without end, will condemn and tear a work to pieces, which they have never read. And some do this , who profess themselves teachers of Christian piety, and eminent [5]professors of religion. Whereas, to condemn that of which you are ignorant, is beyond the basis of the [6]basiest informer.”

I could easily make some strictures on the above passage, but I forbear saying any more, than Erasmus has said for me.I would recommend it, however , to all, who have, or shall criticise on this work, to he very certain they understand it: for I have a shrewd suspicion, that this has not been the case with all its readers: perhaps I might name some highly-respected characters, that have been foremost in the very unbecoming language relative to certain subjects of it. If those subjects are not treated, in a direct consonance with the law of God, as revealed by Moses, they have my free liberty to say what they please:but otherwise, let them take care, lest their wit, raillery, and pious sarcasms, do not ultimately tend to vilify and ridicule the God that made them — let them beware, lest that question, once put on a very serious occasion, be not put to them, in an hour when they will find more difficulty, than they seem at present aware of, to answer it  — Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? And against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? Even against the Holy One of Israel. (2 Kings 19:22) Let them remember, that He will not only convince the ungodly, of the hard speeches, which they have spoken against Him, (Jude 15) but no sooner or later, will deal with persons of a more decent character, and whose sayings have borne the semblance of religious zeal, after their folly, in that they have not spoken of Him the thing that is right. See Job 42:8.

As to the Ladies, who, I am told, are extremely displeased, I hope I have too much good manners, to presume to enter into any controversy with them: Only I would recommend to them also, a very serious attention to what is said in the preceding paragraph — and to take great care, that their objections do not fall on Him, who knew the situation He had placed them in, when He made His laws for their protection of their frail sisters from ruin and destruction. —  They will, however, permit me to assure them, that if the author had found anything in the divine  economy, which tended to support the pride of one part of the sex, at the expense of the ruin and prostitution of the other, he would most faithfully have declared it: and if his fair readers should search the scriptures with an intent of finding some such thing, he would very earnestly caution them, on whom they lay the blame of the disappointment which will most certainly attend their enquiries.

The additions which have been made in this edition, are such, as tend to elucidate the passages where they occur, and to shew the respect and attention, which the author most gratefully pays, to any pertinent and candid observations, which have fallen in his way.

I now conclude this Preface, with the content of a paper which I received from a very respectable Clergyman, who was candid enough to let his prejudices submit to his judgment, and had honesty enough to own it.

The following queries contain so accurate an epitome of the work, and are so much to the purpose,, as to save the author the trouble of introducing them, with any further remarks whatsoever.

“As to the subject of a late publication, entitled “Thelyphthora; or, a Treatise on Female Rooin,” &c. “Is much misunderstood, and misrepresented by many people,  who have, some of them, never read it at all, and the rest but partially, and not without prejudice, and therefore oppose it: ‘tis judged best to send its opposers the following Questions, for them to answer: the doing of this, ‘tis thought, will bring the matter to a point, enter upon particulars, and be a means to discover where and with whom truth is , and where , and with whom, error is.

  1. Are the mischievous, shocking crimes of whoredom, fornication, and adultery, gotten to an enormous and increasing height, in this land, and is the land defiled and deluged by them, or not? and is the frown, or curse of God upon the land, or is it not?

  2. Is it needful, and is it our bounden duty, to cry aloud against these God-provoking, and nation-ruining sins, and to seek a remedy against this monstrous evil, or is it not?

  3. Is there anything destructively horrible in the lives, and anything shockingly dreadful in the deaths of abandoned women, alias, common prostitutes, or is there not?

  4. What number, how many thousands are there of these miserable creatures in our land? And have they any evil effect on the male sex, or not?

  5. Do our laws, as they now stand, hinder this ruinous evil, or do they not? And can they, or can they not?

  6. Do our laws encourage, or discourage, honorable marriage, or celibacy? Encourage, or discourage population?

  7. Do our laws, in any cases, put asunder those, whom God has joined together, and keep together those, whom He has ordered to be put asunder, or do they not?

  8. Is there any remedy at all spoken of in God’s word, against the great evil of lewdness: and if there be, what is that particular remedy?

  9. Does God, in His word, order, that whores, adulterers, and adulteresses shall be put to death, or does He not? (See Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:21-22)

  10. In particular instances of some persons injuring others, does God, in his word, enjoin any recompense that the injurers and offenders shall make the injured, or does he not?

  11. Are some of our laws, in this land , framed upon the Divine laws, in the above mentioned particular, and do they inflict punishment on some transgressors and offenders, in andy cases, according to the spirit of the divine laws, or not?

  12. Is there any particular recompense that God, in his word, orders an unmarried man to make a virgin whom he has defiled, or is there not? And if there be, what is it? (See Exodus 22:16-17, Deuteronomy 22:28-29)

  13. Is there any particular recompense that a married man is enjoined to make the virgin, whom he has defiled, or is there not? If there be, what is it? Is the virgin, in the above case, to receive a recompense, and the virgin, in this, to receive none, and to be abandoned? (See the above scriptures.)

  14. Is our marriage ceremony, in the church, so of the essence of marriage as to constitute marriage: and, therefore, none are married in God’s sight, but what are joined together, by a priest, with that ceremony?

  15. Is the marriage of people called Quakers, in this land, marriage in God’s sight? And also according to our laws?

  16. Were the marriages performed by justices of the peace, in the last century, for eighteen years  together, marriages in God’s sight, and according to our laws?

  17. In what way, or by what form, were all those people of old joined together, whose marriages are recorded in scripture history?

  18. In what way, or by what form were Christians married for upwards of a thousand years immediately after the birth of Christ?

  19. Was our church marriage ceremony the consequence of Pope Innocent the 3d, putting marriage, as a sacrament, into the hands of Popish priests, or was it not?

  20. What reasons can be assigned for God’s permitting so many people, and particularly, some of his distinguished saints of old, to live allowedly in the practice of Polygamy, and to die, without ever reproving them, calling them to repentance, (if it was a sin) and without their ever expressing any sorrow for it, and showing any evidences at all of their repentance? And if God’s word be the rule of our conduct, and if the example of these saints be written for our learning, what are we to learn from them, respecting polygamy?

  21. If these saints of old lived and died in sin, by living and dying in the allowed practice of polygamy, what is the name of the sin? By what term is it to be distinguished? Was it adultery? Or, whoredom? Or, fornication? Was their commerce licit or illicit? What commandment did they sin against? Were they  adulteres, whoremongerers, or fornicators? What does the scripture history of the lives and deaths of these saints teach us to call this their practice?

  22. Were Hannah, and Rachel, and (after Uriah’s death) Bathsheba, whores or adulteresses; or, were they lawful and honored wives? How are they spoken of, and how were they treated, as the scripture history informs us?

  23. Were Joseph, Samuel, and Solomon, bastards or honorable legitimate sons? In what character were they spoken of and treated: Did God show favor to them, or dislike of them?

  24. Were not Hanna, Rachel, and Bathsheba, whores, or adulteresses: and Joseph, Samuel, and Solomon, bastards according to the laws of our land?

  25. Are there anythings unscriptural, as well as impolite, in the late act of Parliament for the preventing clandestine marriages, and if there be, what are they, and why, And why did half the House of Lords, save one single voice, move for a repeal of this act?

  26. In what way can a stop be put to these following ruinous, detestable, horrible, and national evils; namely, brothel-keeping, murdering of infants by seduced women; pregnant virgins committing of suicide; medicine taking to procure abortion; the venereal disease; seduction; prostitution; whoredom; adultery; and all the deplorable evils accompanying and following the mischievous sin of lewdness in this land? If God’s law respecting the commerce of the sexes, was observed, and if the laws of our land were to enforce that , might we not expect His blessing on such means used to accomplish so needed and desirable an end?

  27. On supposition that polygamy be a practice disallowed of God, is the other part of the scheme for preventing the horrible evils of lewdness in our land, scriptural and practical, or not?

  28. Is the design and aim of the book to hinder lewdness, and its deplorable effects, or not?

After these questions are answered, not in a triflling, superficial, and merely specious and declamatory manner, but in a full, plain, fair, scriptural, and reasonable manner; and the answers are open and honest, free from paltry subterfuge, and all deceiving equivocation, and reservation and all the answers are founded on truth and facts, we shall then notice what the consequences will be of such a right mode of answering these questions; and so find out, whether the arguments in  “Thelyphthora”  be scriptural, reasonable, and defensible, or not; whether the scheme in that book has a good or a bad tendency; whether to be reprobate, or received; and whether the friend and abettors of it are friends or foes to their country? The cause of God? The temporal, spiritual, and eternal welfare of their fellow creatures?”

[1] “Knowledge of life”

[2] See volume 2 page 178

[3] See Exodus 22:16, Deuteronomy 22:28-29

[4] We are lately told, in one of the public prints, how truly I cannot say, that  — “a noble Lord stated in the House of Commons, with his usual accuracy, that the decrease of people in this country, within these last 90 years, has been one million eight hundred thousand.” Surely this must be an exaggeration — but yet it might be worth while to examine into the increase of decrease of the people.

[5] Autistes properly denotes a chief priest, prelate, or bishop: but is also used for any man eminent among others. Ainsworth.

Erasmus probably used it in the former sense. The author uses it in the latter, for a reason which some of his readers have more cause, than he wishes they had, to see the propriety of.

[6] Sycophanticum, rendered literally, would afford no information to the unlearned reader; the term is therefore paraphrased, in such a manner, as to give an idea of the sort of people which the Greeks called Sycophants, and of course, what Erasmus means by Sycophanticum. For the derivation and meaning of Sycophants among the Athenians, see Chambers’ Dictionary.

Preface to the First Edition

The subjects of the following treatise, being of the utmost importance, have been considered with the most serious attention, and are laid before the reader on the highest authority, that is to say, on the authority of the holy scriptures.

Nothing less than this ought, or can , determine on the points herein treated, because they concern, not only the present, but future welfare of mankind: these, as then in connection together, must depend, first, on knowing, and then on doing the will of God. What His will is, can only be known from the several revelations, or discoveries which it hath graciously pleased Him to make of it, by men, who spake not of themselves, bet as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:21)

To imagine that, without such revelation, mortals can understand, or know the mind and will of God , is an absurdity, even greater that to suppose we can know the thoughts of each other, without any declaration of them either by words or actions. But to admit the necessity of a divine revelation, and not make them the only infallible rule and guide, in all matters which relate to the mind and will of God therein revealed, is, so far to lay aside the revelation of God, to make it void and of none effect, and to place ourselves in not better situation, than if no such discovery of the mind and will of God had ever been revealed[1].

Thus we rob God of His honor, by slighting His word, and thus are people led to setup the determinations of human wisdom against it, and expose themselves to be carried about with every wind of doctrine, which the folly and superstition of weak men, and the wickedness and craft of designing men, may happen to invent.

By such means it has been, that so many errors of various kinds have found their way, in all ages, into the church, and have maintained their empire over the minds of men. Long usage has made them venerable the prescriptive power of custom has given them establishment and both these have prevailed on human legislatures, to afford them awful obligation of their most solemn sanctions.

It cannot want many arguments to prove, that sundry practice, as well as opinions, which are found among the heathen nations[2], are abhorrent from all our conceptions of propriety, decency, and even humanity itself. All these have but one source. They do err, not knowing the scriptures.

Where revelation is received, yet if it be not adhered to as the only rule of faith and manners, and this unreservedly, the opinions and practices of men will be as wide from the mind and will of God, as those of the Heathen are.  I might here instance in the opinions and practices of the Pharisees of old, as well as of many nations called  Christians, in more modern days, and who are members of that society of professing Christians which insolently and exclusively styles itself, “The HOLY APOSTOLICAL and CATHOLIC CHURCH”, amongst whom the most devout are worshipping a wooden god, which they call a crucifix[3], and breaden god, which they call the host: and, besides these, they worship saints and angels, and many such like things they do. The foundation of all which is still one and the same, They do err, not knowing the scriptures; for though the Papists have the scriptures; yet they do not adopt them as the only rule of faith and worship. Their fear towards God is taught them by the doctrines and commandments of men[4], If 29:13 which take place in the mind of God, as revealed in His holy word.

Happy would it be, could we, reformed Protestants, clear ourselves of this charge in all respects!

To prove that we cannot, in some points of the utmost consequence, is the purpose of the following pages; which, while the reader peruse, I could with him to weigh in the balance of the sanctuary, to lay his Bible before him, and to call every argument, observation, and doctrine, to the strictest and tribunal. If he shall find anything that is wrong, or detect anything that is false, let him freely set down the Author’s account. But whatever he shall find agreeable to, or clearly proved by, the word of God, let him not listen to the lying testimony of prejudice or vulgar error against it, but treasure it up in his mind, for the direction of his own judgement and conscience, in all situations and conditions of life.

If the judgement be misled or misinformed, the more conscientious a man is , the father will he be led into error, and the more firmly will he be attached to it : therefore it is well for us to listen to the counsel of the wise man  (Proverbs 4:7) “ Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting get understanding.”

As to differences, or even errors, (if mistakes about indifferent matters can be so called) where mere outward forms are concerned, and those of human invention, the Author desires to think, and to let think, and where forever  the scriptures are silent, to be so too. He does not esteem it worth his while to expend a single drop of ink in such controversies. He does not suppose, that , had he lived in the second century, when the Roman and Asiatic Christians quarrelled about the keeping of Easter, and ran to such indecent lengths of animosity and discord. As might make the very heathen blush, he would have ventured a single scratch of his finger, to have had it decided whether it was to be held “on the fourteenth day after the first moon in the new year,” or “on the same stated day in every year,” or “on the first Sunday after the first full moon.” All this rout was made to very little purpose: and had the Author been weak enough to have entered into the dispute, had he sided with the Asiatics, and been excommunicated by Pope Victor for his pains, it would not , according to his present notion, have given him a moment’s uneasiniess.

But where the peace and well being (I had almost said the very being) of society are concerned, where disorders, of the most malignant kind, have infected the general mass, to the destruction of millions down to this moment, and threaten the destruction of millions yet unborn, and those chiefly from among the most defenceless part of the human species; when the lust, treachery, cruelty, and villainy of men, are let loose to ravage, as they can, on the weakness and credulity of helpless women; and when all this is apparently the effect of abolishing those parts of the divine law, which were evidently made to prevent it, and the introduction of a systen of human invention is the means of its daily increase; too much cannot be said to point out the cause of the disease, and to lead to the remedy. The former is from the substitution of the wisdom of man, in the place of the wisdom of God; the latter can only be discovered and rendered effectual, by restoring the wisdom of God to its due place in our esteem, and by making it, as it is found revealed to us in the scriptures, the basis of our municipal laws, the line of our conduct, the rule of our obedience.

Perhaps some may think, that there are points handled and discussed in this book, which had better been left under the clouds of obscurity which have long overwhelmed them, and hidden them from vulgar observation,  lest disputes should be raised, and abuses committed by the perversions of the evil and licentious. It is written concerning the scriptures themselves, that , to some they are the savour of the life unto life[5], and unto others the  savour of death unto death. (2Cor 2:16)  And again, that the unlearned and unstable wrested the epistles of Paul, as also the other scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16) As therefore there is nothing in this book, which is not to be found in those scriptures, as to the points above hinted at, the Author ventures it forth, confiding in Him who hath said, As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thitherm byt wastereth tge eartgm abd najetg ut brubg firtg abd byd, that it may five seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; so shall My word be, that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereunto I sent it. ( Isaiah 55:10-11)

He cannot be of the mind of Synesius the Platonist, who was raised to be a Bishop in the Christian church, but continued to be a determined Platonist;  and had so far imbibed the spirit and doctrine of that school, as to declare his sentiments thus, “As darkness is most proper and commodious for those who have weak eyes, so I hold that  lies and fictions are useful to the people, and that truth would be hurtful to those who are not able to bear its light and splendor.” And he added, “ If the laws of the church would dispense with it, that he would  philosophize at home, and talk abroad in the common strain, preaching up the general and received fables.” (See note z, Leland, vol 2 p. 344)

The ancient philosophers had an exoteric doctrine, (greek) which they openly taught the people; and an esoteric doctrine (greek) which they taught privately to their select disciples, whom they let into the secrets of their scheme. It was a maxim among them, that “it was lawful to deceive the people for the public good.” (Ib 342-3) So the sect of Foe in China, have an exterior and interior doctrine with regard to a future state, they publicly preach it up to the people, but their interior doctrine rejects it. (See Ib. 344, not z)

Such is human prudence and wisdom! But the divine wisdom faith, He that hath My word, let him speak My word faithfully. (Jeremiah 23:28) There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; and hid , that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in the light; and what ye hear in the ear, that preach (greek, proclaim, publish) upon the housetops. (Matthew 10:26-27  Compare to Mark 4:21-22)  Truth is like him that doeth the truth, it cometh to the light, that its deeds may be manifest, that they are wrought in God. Error, like every one that doth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, left its deed should be reproved (John 3:20-21)

God never revealed anything but that it should be known. When men want to conceal any part of divine revelation from the knowledge of others, it is too frequently with a purpose of preventing the detection of some errors in human systems, which, from some sinister vies or other, they dread the discovery of. Thus the church of Rome, jealous of the light of scripture, knowing that the whole dominion of popes and priests over  the understandings and consciences of the laity is founded in ignorance, keep as far as they can, the scriptures out of their hands.

Others there are, who, from well-meant, but  mistaken, zeal, for principles which they have been taught to venerate, dread that these should be attacked; as thinking the cause of religion itself, is involved with the supposed truth of what they are accustomed to believe.  There can be no doubt , that when our reformers first attacked the Pope’s supremacy,the worship of the virgin Mary, the celibacy of priests, and other pious lies and forgeries of the church of Rome, many devout and zealous people thought, , that religion itself was, like the ark of old, (1 Samuel 4:10-11) about to be delivered  into the hands of the [6]Philistines; and cried out, like Micah, when the Danites took away his Levite and his Teraphim -Ye have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest – and what have I more? (See Judges 18:24)

IF there be anything in the Bible which ought to be concealed, it would be no very hard matter to prove, that it ought never to have been revealed. But as it often happens with private individuals, that they are afraid of looking too narrowly into the  scripture, for fear of meeting with something to shake their preconceived opinions and prejudices; so is it with all public and national systems. As these have been fashioned by human contrivance, they are not, for very obvious reasons, over-fond of too narrow a scrutiny on as they formed like the feet of the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s  dream, which were part of iron, and part of clay; so these being composed of the heterogeneous mixture of the divine wisdom and human contrivance, a too curious investigator  should, like the stone there mentioned – fall upon them, and break them to pieces.

The Author of the following sheets professes himself a Freethinker; not in the usual sense of that word, as what he has written must abundantly testify, but as an  assertor of that right, which every reasonable creature is invested with, to search, think, and judge for himself. He therefore has endeavoured to lay some points, which he cannot but esteem of the utmost consequence, before the world, that others may exercise their privilege as the Author has done his.

As for the abuse which any subject herein treated may be liable to- What is not abused? What in nature, providence,or revelation, has not been abused and perverted to some vile purpose or other? The very Gospel of Peace has been abused, to sanctify fraud, violence, oppression, and persecution, to justify massacres, tortures, murders, even to men’s roasting alive their fellow creatures, and thinking they did God service! Insomuch that, wear we to judge of the great Head of our body religion, by the abuse which has been made of His authority, we should invert what He says, (Luke 9:56) and imagine, that He came ot to save men’s lives, but to destroy them. Even the grace of our God has been, and is by many, turned into lasciviousness. (See Jude 4) But what does all this prove? Nothing but the ignorance, perverseness, cruelty, and wickedness of human nature; and that corruption optimi fit pessima: but it does not prove, that God of heaven, who foresaw and foreknew such abuses, should not have revealed His mind and will to mortals;  nor that any part of that revelation should be concealed, suppressed, or hidden from the eyes of men, gor fear of its being abused. For this may be taken as a certain rult, that no abuse of the scriptures ever yet happened from a real understanding and knowledge of their contents,  but from an ignorance, either in ourselves, or imposed on us by the design and artifice of others.

The grand question to be tried is, “whether a system, filled with obligation and resposibility, of men to women, and of women to men, even unto death itself, and this established by infinite wisdom, is not better calculated to prevent the ruin of the female sex, with all its horrid consequences, both to the public and individuals, than a system of human contrivance, where neither obligation nor responsibility are to be found, either of men to women, or of women to men, in instances of the most important concern to both, but more especially to the weaker sex?”

The whole of the evidence on both sides is faithfully collected, and laid open, without any reserve or disgise, in this book, let every reader look upon himself as impaneled on the jury, let him impartially hearken to the cause, and a true verdict give according to the evidence.

[1] Originally: vouchsafed

[2] I cannot forbear mentioning here that valuable, learned, and excellent work of John Leland, D.D. on the Advantage and Necessity of the Christian Revelation, wherein that author hath with a strength of judgement, and depth of learning and erudition peculiar to himself, so proved his point, as to deserve the thanks of all who know how to set a just value on the scriptures, as well as of those who would with to do it. This valuable author says, “It is the mighty advantage of a written revelation, that by an impartial consulting it, the deviations from it may be detected, and things may again be reduced to the original standard.”  Vol. I p.453

[3] This invention of the crucifix, or image of Christ on the cross, is but old heathenism new vamped. Maximus Tyrius, a Platonic philosopher, who was master to M. Antoninus, says, “The divine nature stands not in need of images or statues, but the nature and condition of man being very weak, and as far distant from the Divinity as heaven is from earth, framed these signs for itself, and attributed to them the names nad titles of the gods,”, and he thinks that the legislature acted wisely in contriving images for the people. See Leland, vol. 1 p. 338 The wife men and philosophers pleaded for images as necessary helps to human infirmity Ib. 424

[4] Two of the articles in the famous creed of Pope Pius IV are as follows:

XIII. I most firmly admit and embrace apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions, and all other observations and constitutions of the one catholic and apostolic church.

XIV. I do admit the holy scriptures in the same sense that holy Mother Church doth, whose business it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of them, and I will interpret them according to the unanimous consent of the fathers.

The Popish canon law frequently affirms that the church is above the scriptures.

Omnis que nune apud nos est scripture authoritas ab ecclesia authoritate necessarie dependent.“All the authority which we attribute to the scriptures, necessarily  depends on the authority of the church.” Pighius de Hierar, Eccl. Lib. i. C. 2.  Eccius, in his Enchiridian de antiquiorem, & scripturam non effe authenticam, nift ecclefte authoritate.- “The church is more antient than the scriptures, and the scriptures are not authentic, save by the authority of the church.”

Hermannus goes farther, and affirms – Scriptures are no more to be valued than Aesop’s Fables, unless it were for the testimony of the church.” See Hist. of Popery, vol i. p.214

[5] Haurit lethiferum bufo de flore venenum,

Quo mel nectareum fedula promit apes.

At the same flow’r the toad and bee may meet,

That suck the poison, this exhaust the sweet.

[6] In 1547 , Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, said, “that he thought the removing images, was on design to subvert religion and the state of the world.” -Burnet, Preface to History, Ref, vol 2 p2

Table of Content


Preface to the First Edition

Preface to the Second Edition.


Contents of Volume 1


Preface to the First Edition

Preface to the Second Edition.

Preface to the Third Volume


Chapter 1 Of Marriage as a Divine Institution

Chapter 2 Of Whoredom and Fornication

Chapter 3 Of Adultery

Chapter 4 Of Polygamy

Chapter 5 Christ not the giver of a New Law

Chapter 6 Of Divorce

Chapter 7 Of Marriage

Chapter 8 Of Superstition

Chapter 9 Of God’s Jealousy of His Laws

Chapter 10 Of Population

Chapter 11 Conclusion

Chapter 12 Means of opposition and abrogation

Chapter 13 Observations on the foregoing

Chapter 14 Origin and Necessity of Marriage Ceremonies


Appendix to Chapter 1, containing further thoughts on Exodus 22:16-17

Appendix to Chapter 2, Bucer on Concubinage

Appendix no. 1, The Cafe of Hannah, 1 Samuel 1

Appendix no. 2, Extract from Barbeyrac on Grotius


Letter to R. Hill, Esq;


To the



And other


Of those well-intended Charities, and beneficent institutions

The Asylum – Misericordia -Magdalene – and Lock-Hospital.

The Author of the following treatise cannot fix on a more proper patronage for a work of this kind, than that of those noble and honorable persons, whole compassion on the miseries of the female sex, has led them to institute public charities for its preservation and relief.

As our laws are at present framed, women are exposed to seduction, prostitution, and ruin, almost without control; they seem to be looked upon as lawful prey to the lust, treachery, cruelty, and mean artifices of licentious and profligate men, who can seduce and then abandon them at their will.

That a want of good government among us in these respects, is one source of all those evils, which your disinterested and humane endeavours are intended to prevent or remedy, is surely apparent on the slightest consideration.

A system of laws which leaves the horrid crime of adultery not only out of the list of its capital punishments, but even exempts it, as a public offence, from any animadversion whatsoever in our courts of criminals judicature, must be attended with all those mischiefs that arise from the encouragement which impunity affords to vice.

The same may also be observed, with respect to the defenceless state, in which the weaker sex in general is left against the stronger, so that any man may seduce, and abandon at his pleasure, the unhappy and deluded objects of his brutal appetite.

To exhibit a system far different from this – to set forth the divine law as the contrivance of the infinite wisdom, for the security, peace, preservation, and protection of the female sex, is the purpose of the following pages. Were this to be made the basis of our municipal laws, it would prove an adequate remedy for all those mischiefs, which, in comparatively few instances, can now only find a partial palliation, from benevolence like yours, but which must, in general, be still the portion of those, whom God’s law was formed to protect.

Many of you, my Lords and Gentlemen, are members of the Legislature; and if, from what shall be said on the matters treated in this book, they should become the subjects of your serious consideration in your legislative capacity, the author will gain one desirable end of his labours.

This surely must be allowed that, in point of fact, the alarming increase of female prostitution and ruin, calls loudly for some remedy: the self-evidence of this, is the very foundation of those benevolent designs which distinguish the several public charities to which you so generously contribute.

Let government adopt the system of heavenly wisdom, which adorns the pages of the Sacred Volume, and it will find a remedy in its own hands, what that system is, it has been the author’s most serious endeavour to enquire, and to recommend it to all, but more especially to the consideration of those whole care, expense, and vigilance, for the good of their fellow creatures, has occasioned them the trouble of this address from

Their most humble servant,

And ardent well-wisher to their good designs,

The Author