Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

y

ment may be frustrated, we have sweet consolation in the conviction, that the government of this world is conducted with infinite wisdom. The mind that feels this, and can glory in it, is not ruffled by the boisterous wind, nor saddened by the drizzling shower. It can witness the storm of elements ; view nature clothed in her gloomiest vesture, and still smile serenely. “Its peace is inward, and its joys its own.” Happy the man who can rise superior to the changing scenes of this changing world; whose hands and heart lay hold of that “ sure foundation, which shall never be removed ;" whose countenance displays the calm irtadiations of heart-felt piety; and whose soaring eye can look abroad with equal complacency in the sun. shine and the storm, and smiling, say, " My Father made them all !” This state of bliss is attainable here : the heart of your friend can witness it, and at the reflection, dissolve in gratitude to the Saviour of sinners. Oh, dear-bought bliss! wonderful salvation! which was purchased for us by the death and sufferings of our dear Redeemer.

My dear Mrs. W- now indeed can we taste the delight of sympathy-sympathy of love love to our God, and his blessed service! How consoling the thought! How dear to friendship the idea, that death cannot quench the flame! O that all the world could taste the pleasant stream that is flowing for them! That we could unite, not only with those most dear to us, but with the earth's great family, in the sweet worship of our Father and our God!

FOR THE CHRISTIAN'S MAGAZINE.

A brief Inquiry into the lawfulness of marrying a

deceased wife's sister.

THE law of marriage is positive. No general principle can, of itself, establish, with a binding force upon the conscience, the doctrine, that “ the i conjugal union is, in all cases, to subsist between Co one man and one woman only; and, with the exa ception of conjugal infidelity, is to last during the i joint lives of the parties." Nothing but a divine institution could subject them to this condition : nothing but a divine revelation communicated the know. ledge of it.

Again: There is no general principle; no reason from the nature of things; nothing but such an institution, so revealed, which can limit the right of contracting marriage with respect to the degrees of kindred. The marriages which immediately succeeded that of the first pair, were evidently between brothers and sisters. Unless parents had married their children, it could not be otherwise, without the creation of different races. And these marriages of brothers with sisters were lawful. God, the holy and the just, could not, by his own act, lay upon men a physical necessity of sinning against him. But that which is lawful in itself cannot become unlawful without the intervention of the legislative power; i. e. in the case before us, without the intervention of God himself by a positive statute. The conclusion is, either that there are no restrictions of marriage at all in the article of kindred, or that they are to be sought for in the Scrip. tures. The first branch of the alternative will hardly be embraced by any sober-minded Christian. Our inquiries are, therefore, confined to the second ; that

is, to the question of fact; viz. What has God determined in his word?

On this point the New Testament implies much, but has nothing formal. We must, then, go back to the Old Testament, or else adopt the branch of the alternative which we have just rejected, viz. that there are no restrictions at all. . · The most explicit regulations are in the 18th chapter of the book of Leviticus; out of which two questions arise.

. 1. Is the law of marriage therein prescribed binding upon us? So that the degrees forbidden to the Jews are equally forbidden to all mankind ?

2. Supposing this law to be thus universal and permanent, does it include and forbid the marriage of a deceased wife's sister?

Materials for a right decision of both seem to be within a very narrow compass. With regard to the former, I remark, · Ist. If the restrictions in the 18th of Leviticus are no part of moral law now: if they are not of univer-' sal and permanent obligation, there is no written law, no divine statute, upon the subject. Consequently, a man is at liberty to marry his sister, his mother, or his daughter; and the converse. This, I believe, would shock all Christian feeling and conscience. Incest, be it remembered, is not a crime against nature, or natural law. It is a crime against positive law, and against positive law only. If you discard the law of marriage, as laid down in Levit. 18.; and yet contend that there is such a thing as incest at all, let the law which it violates be produced., : 2d. Immediately subjoined to the specification of degrees within which marriage might not be contracted, are the following injunction and reason :“ Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things : før in all these things the nations are defiled which I · VOL. IV.No.: II. .

cast out before you, and the land is defiled; therefore do I visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants." Lev. 18. ver. 24, 25.

But the Canaanites never were under the law of Moses ; therefore their sin must have been committed against a law prior to, and more general than, the Mosaic dispensation : the righteous God never makes ex post facto laws. Now, what law could equally bind the seed of Canaan and the seed of Abraham ; the Hittite and the Hebrew; the people who were within, and the people who were without, the covenant of peculiarity,-equally bind them in a matter in which all mankind have a common interest, and will continue to have it so long as there shall be male and female, but a law which binds men universally? It is only because the law reached to the whole human family, that it embraced the inhabitants of Canaan.

If any one object, that the “ defilement” of the Canaanitish nations, comprehended their disregard

of the distinction of meats, which is confessedly 'superseded ;' I reply,

(1.) That is gratis dictum : an assertion without proof. No fair reasoner will assume his facts, and put his opponent to the proof of a negative.

(2.) If the objector argue from the connexion in which the reason of the law stands, he has no right to stop at the distinction of meats, but must make it apply to the whole preceding ordinances; the effect of which would be, to represent the most high God as punishing the nations of Canaan for the breach of laws which were never given to them; were never intended for them; and had no existence at all before the punishment was denounced. That be far from him to do, and far from us to impute to him.

(3.) The objection itself concedes, according to wha: we have just established, that prior to the Levi. fical law, God had set up a barrier between the degrees of kindred, which marriage might not overleap: and for the neglect of which he severely vi. sited even idolatrous nations. Consequently, this law would have been in force had the Levitical law never been enacted. But that law embraced and confirmed the preceding law of marriage; and could, in no sense whatever, repeal it. As a peculiarity of the Mosaic dispensation it could not be repealed by the introduction of the evangelical economy; or, to speak more properly, could not expire by its own li. mitation : for it was not a peculiarity of the Mosaic dispensation. Expressly it is not repealed, or declared to have ceased, in the New Testament. But if it was confirmed by the Mosaic revelation; if it is not annulled by the express decision of the New Testament; nor superseded, as a Jewish peculiarity, by the genius of the Christian religion, it is not abolished, superseded, nor invalidated at all; but is binding upon us at this hour.

Should it still be urged, that “this reasoning will prove the perpetual and universal obligation to observe the distinction of meats, which was also before the Mosaic law, I reply again,

(1.) That the moral propriety of the prohibited degrees remains the same : their principle being common to all mankind, which cannot be maintained of the distinction of meats.

(2.) That in the 21st chapter of Leviticus, there is a repetition, in substance of these same restrictions, with the same reason subjoined ; and immediately after, the observance of the distinction of meats is commanded, not only without that reason, but for another reason. The reason for the first is, that by transgressing the laws of marriage, and by other moral impurities, the nations had made them. selves abhorred of God. The reason for the distinction of meats is, that Jehovah had separated the

« AnteriorContinuar »