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lawgiver who has said so plainly, particularly, and explicitly, what he has said, did not know all he ought to say, and has therefore left defects for us to supply. “ We are not so much wiser” than he. We will also stand with the reviewer upon
his other ground :" We must have better authority than our own, to decide upon the rule of interpretation.” We have it. “ Ye shall not add unto the word which I command
neither shalt thou diminish aught from it; that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”
The remark in the Article referred to relative to Lev. 18: 6,“ by kin, we are to understand relationship in general; because nearly two to one of the specifications which follow relate to affinity and consanguinity,” should not pass without examination. The word “kin” signifies relationship by blood
-the same kind. The Hebrew term, as is manifest from the phrase in the margin,“ remainder of his flesh,” another version of it, is more definite and precise in the signification of relationship by blood than our word kin: like the expression, near of kin, which excludes relationship by blood if not near, and of course, that by affinity, devoid of the element of kindred. In Lev. 21: 2, we have a definition of the phrase,“ kin that is near unto him; that is, for his mother, and for his father, and for his son, and for his daughter, and for his brother, and for his sister.” It is an established rule of construction, to consider a lawgiver as using the same phrase in the same sense; and when he defines his terms in one place, to apply that definition to the same terms in other places: there may be exceptions, but for good reason. Upon what ground, then, can we attach to the phrase “ near of kin to him," a more enlarged meaning than is warranted by its proper signification, either in our own or the original language, or than the lawgiver attaches to it in another part of his law? Is there not manifest impropriety in construing the words “ near of kin,” as signifying" relationship in general ?” The error that has been just shown, of holding the cases in verses 7–17 to be examples given of verse 6, in violation of all principles of language, instead of specific prohibitions according to the natural import of the terms used, occasions this misconstruction. Why give this enlarged and forced meaning to the words“ near of kio?” The reason assigned is, because the cases in verses 7—17 are given as exaınples, and to comprehend them the meaning of the words must be enlarged. Is it not the more obvious and correct
course, as these cases do not come within the proper signification of the words “near of kin,” to hold that they are not examples, but according to the natural import of the language, distinct prohibitions, or in other words, the declaration of the lawgiver of the cases which he intended to probibit? Some are within the proper scope of verse 6, and some additions resting on other ground. When we accurately examine the language, this becomes clear to us. Thus father's sister, and mother's sister are kin, that is, relations by blood; but they are not near of kin, as the lawgiver has used the phrase in the passage cited; and in verses 12, 13, he does not prohibit these relationships as near of kin to the man prohibited, but as the kinswoman of his father and mother. This identical remark applies 10 verse 17. In verse 15, the prohibition in respect to the daughter-in-law, is not because she is near of kin, but because “she is thy son's wife;" and verse 16, in respect to brother's wife, the ground expressly stated is the injury to the brother-" it is thy brother's nakedness :" so with respect to the father's wife, mother-in-law, the prohibition is grounded on the injury to the father—“it is thy father's nakedness" (8). With respect to father, mother, sister, properly within verse 6, according to the lawgiver's use of the same terms, there is no distinct, additional ground to what is contained in that verse (7, 9, 11). With respect to son's daughter, and daughter's daughter (10), one remove from the lawgiver's own definition of near of kin, there is no distinct ground, but an explanatory observation-"theirs is thine own nakedness.” This verse when deliberately considered, will be deemed to afford useful instruction ; for when the lawgiver would not rest the prohibition with respect to a son's daughter and daughter's daughter upon the general ground in verse 6, of
near of kin," without an explanation ; how shall it be extended to“ relationship in general ?" In the only remaining case, the wife of the father's brother, neither being within the terms “near of kin,” the special ground of the prohibition is, “she is thine aunt." The Jewish writers, entitled to full credit with regard to their own laws and manners, say, that the aunt is in the same degree as the father and mother, as to natural superiority over the nephew, and that his approach to her would invert the order of nature. Whatever may be the reason, it is sufficient that the lawgiver assigns it as the specific ground of that prohibition. We may confidently lay it down, that when a lawgiver assigns a special reason for a prohibition, the reason
assigned is the true reason, and he intends that the prohibition should be held to proceed from, and rest upon it; and of course, that all the prohibitions in Lev. 18: 6-18, for which special reasons are assigned, are to be considered as distinct prohibitions for the reasons assigned, and not as parts of verse 6. A few of the prohibitions come under this verse; the others are such as the lawgiver, in view of the reasons given, has seen
proper to ordain.
This subject is by no means exhausted. It presents other important points for remark. It has been discussed upon the ground, that Levit. 18:6-18 is a regulation of marriage. It is not a law for that purpose. It is confined to the prohibition of sexual intercourse. It is admitted, that it is a restraint and preventive of marriage; but this is a result and consequence. The law may be violated without marriage; and there may
be a contract of inarriage legally solemnized without transgressing the law. This false position of the subject is a source of error in discussing it.
Putting the Levitical law, or any part of it, upon the same ground on which we place the ten commandments, is utterly inadmissible. It is new, and it is dangerous. The reason, “the precepts in Leviticus are the declaration of God as to what is right-would establish the entire judicial law with all its penalties. We
may differ from Confucius, we dare not differ from God.” Very true. We dare not maintain, that the laws given to the nation of Israel by their and our Maker, were not suitable to their condition, and good laws for them in their circumstances. But who will say, that those laws have been given to any other people, or that they were not made for a state of things that is past, or that the whole frame of polity which they constituted was not intended to be temporary, and has not ceased according to the design in its construction? There are very wise things in these laws : but that any part of them retains the force of law is positively denied. Wisdom of laws depends upon the state of society for which they were made, and the evils to be corrected. We can form no just opinion now of these things. The law we have been considering is a positive law; it has nothing in common with the decalogue, the moral law. We consider it clear, that the church is bound to respect and obey the laws of the state where it is situated, and where its members receive protection and owe allegiance, far more than the laws that were given Israel in their ancient theocracy, terminated long since by its own appointment. Even
in the time of Paul, when the minds of men were not prepared to consider the Mosaic dispensation as terminated, he does not place the case at Corinth of a man's having his father's wife (the father was living, 2 Cor. 7: 12), upon the Levitical law, but the law of nature (1 Cor. 5: 1, not even named among the Gentiles).
The question is gravely proposed, Can you say that you have not a doubt that this marriage is forbidden by the word of God, and will you then hazard the sin? This is the device of superstition: the very proposal of the question to the timid produces the fear it suggests : follow out the course, and you can establish thc Inquisition. It should be our warning, that this dreadful institution was founded in Spain, with all its horrors full grown in its very inception, by the wisest and best of sovereigns, and the most amiable and excellent of women, Queen Isabella. The proposition, therefore, can be by no means assented to, thai it is material at all, whether a man may marry the sister of his deceased wife or not, there will be always others equally eligible;- it is of great importance, that a false principle should not be adopted, and that the church should in no case by latitudinarian construction interfere with the rights of men. This is not the way of salvation; the gospel has other views: this going to the law is not in its spirit
. Especially should not the church stand in opposition to the laws upon a ground that is not solid, and in a matter in which it is wrong and they are right: even if it could for a moment allow itself in the determination to take such an attitude under any circumstances.
Review of Dr. Edwards's “DissERTATION CONCERNING LIBERTY
By Rev. Samuel T.Spear, Pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church of Lansingburgh, N.Y.
As intimated by its title-page, this Disseration was intended by its author as a reply to the Essays of Dr. West and others, on the subject of Liberty and Necessity. Indirectly it is a defence of the doctrine of Moral Necessity adopted by the Elder Edwards, as well as an exponent of the views entertained by its
distinguished author. Upon its first publication, during the lifetime of the author, it was by many regarded as an unanswerable refutation of the system of his opponents. That it presents clear and decisive marks of strength in argumentation, tact and ingenuity in metaphysical criticism, as well as candor both in the statement of principles and their legitimate deductions, must be acknowledged. It is much to be regretted, that this Dissertation, with the other productions of the same respected writer, should so long have been inaccessible to the great proportion of the ministers and students of our country. The editors and publishers of Dr. Edwards's Works are entitled to the lasting thanks of the community for the service they have now rendered to the general cause of truth.
It is proposed in this article to examine so much of these works as may be found in the Dissertation concerning Liberty and Necessity. It is not judged important to decide the comparative merits of the arguments of Dr. Edwards and those of his opponents. On some points victory seems to have been on one side ; and upon others, on the other side. To judge of the truth of a system by the skill displayed in its defence would be a very unsafe dictum in philosophy. Truth at times may be committed to incompetent hands; while error may be fortified, not only by great names, but by great adroitness in making “the worse appear the better reason.
The system of Necessity, as stated and defended by the elder and the younger Edwards, has for years been regarded as entirely established. No man, until recently, has dared to intimate even a doubt of its truth. Authority little less than axiomatic has been assigned to it. It has imparted its own peculiar type to the theological philosophy of our country. In the providence of God, however, it seems destined to undergo a reexamination ; minds of much worth and power are enlisted in this investigation; it can no longer be said, that it carries with it the conclusiveness of a mathematical demonstration, at least in its relation to the existing state of opinion. Nothing is to be feared from this new movement. If Edwards was wrong, the fact ought to appear; if he was right, a re-examination of his arguments will not be of disservice to the system. Philosophy is now in a better state to review this question, than when it was originally argued. The science of psychology has made great advances since the days of Edwards. On every account it is desirable that this philosophical movement should go for