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First, That a man is as near of kin to his wife's blood relatives as to his own. And,
Second, that when a man is forbidden to marry any relative in a generation back of his own, he is by implication forbidden to marry one of the same nearness of blood, in a generation following his own.
In reference to the first of these, we shall have occasion to examine it more in detail in the sequel. It is sufficient to say of it here, that it is an assumption entirely without proof, either in the terms of the law or in any of its attendant circumstances. Let those who contend for this principle prove it-let them show that it was a known and recognized part of the Levitical law, and we shall be ready to unite with them in filling up the vacant line in our table; but, till they have done this, they have no right to write a syllable there. It must still be vacant.
As to the second rule proposed above, to be added to the system, the same may be said; it is a gratuitous assumption, and on those who insist on it as a part of the Levitical law, is the burden of proving that it is so. It can be admitted when that is proved, till then it has no authority, however plausible it may appear.
For example, father's sister, mother's sister, and father's brother's wife, are all specifically forbidden; what they have to prove is, that brother's daughter, sister's danghter, and brother's son's wife, were equally intended to be forbidden, though not one of them is specified. And in addition to this they have to bear in mind, that there is in such a system as the Mosaic, an obvious reason for forbidding the first three, which does not exist in the case of the last three. That system was one of subordination; the wife was subordinated to the husband and the child to the parent. It might, therefore, have been regarded as a violation of due subordination-as “confusion,” for a sister of the father, to whom reverence was due from the son for his father's sake, to become the son's wife; but no such objection would lie against that son's marrying an equally near relative of the third generation. The reason here conjectured would therefore be an objection against a man's marrying his aunt, but none against his marrying his nicce. Now, it is not asserted that this is the reason of the law, but can it be proved that it is not? And if not, can it be proved that the Levitical law was intended alike to forbid an aunt and a niece, when the one is speci
fied and the other is not, nor any other collateral relative in the same generation with her ? Must not this assumption remain entirely without proof? The writer must here again remind the reader, that our question is not, what is right in our circumstances, but what was the Levitical law ? And in this view of the case he confidently asks, is there any evidence that it was ever intended to extend beyond the specified cases? Must not this rule by which it is proposed to extend it to other cases, be regarded as entirely unsupported by proof ? Have we then any right to treat it as having the authority of a divine law? This part of the argument will here be cheerfully resigned to the judgment of the candid reader.
5. Another reason for dissenting from the principle of implication is, the fact that specific cases of incest are probably referred to in no less than* eighteen instances, and certainly in sixteen, in subsequent portions of the Bible, and yet among them all there is not one case which is not distinctly specified in the original enactment, Leviticus 18: 6–17. If, as is so confidently claimed, the Levitical law was meant to extend to a variety of cases not specified, as much as to those which are, why among the whole eighteen cases afterwards mentioned in the Scriptures, is there not found one of the implied cases? I say not one-especially when it is claimed that the implied cases are more numerous than the specified ? The burden of proof here rests with the advocates of implication, and the question is submitted for their careful consideration.
6. Another weighty objection to the principle of implication lies in the fact that the cuses which it is claimed are left to mere inference, as it would seem to very doubtful inference, are the very cases in which marriage is not likely to be contracted.—The cases forbidden are those of the nearest relatives ; those which are left to implication are the more remote blood relatives and the collaterals of the wife, where, if at all, the law would bemost likely to be broken. The barrier is weakest where strength is most needed, if indeed the sin of incest, according to the law, really lay outside of the speci
* See Leviticus 20: 11, 12, 14, 17, 19-21. Deut. 22 : 30. Deut. 27: 20, 22, 23. Ezekiel 22 : 10, 11. Mait. 14: 3, 4. 1 Cor. 5: 1. 1 Kings 2 : 13-24.
fied cases. Which of the two, for example, is a man more likely to marry, his mother, or his niece? his own sister or his wife's, his father's sister or his wife's niece. I know it is claimed that some cases of very near kindred are left to implication. It was even claimed in the late discussion at Philadelphia, that a man is only forbidden to marry his daughter, by implication. In reply to this I will only refer the reader to the terms of the law, Lev. 18: 17, and remark that when it is shown how a man can marry his own daughter, without trangressing the very letter of this statute, I shall think the objection well founded.
As to the absence of a specific prohibition to marry a man's grandmother, I could hardly think the danger of the occurrence of the event sufficiently imminent, to suggest the necessity of providing against it by a specific statute. I should think it a case which, bad as man is, might be safely left, not to implication, but to the law of nature. It is then obvious, that if the principle of implication is to be resorted to at all, it is to be applied to the very cases in which positive and specific statute was most of all needful. Does this look like the wisdom of a divine legislator?
This argument derives great force from a consideration of the peculiar history of the Jewish people. The case of marriage with the sister of a deceased wife, is that violation of this law of implication, which occurs probably much more frequently than any other. This is certainly what the nature of the case would lead us to expect. Was it then the design of the Jewish lawgiver to denounce and brand this connexion as incest ? Could a Jew be expected so to understand the law? What Jew did not revere and honor the patriarch Jacob? and yet what Jew was ignorant of the fact that Jacob first married Leah, and afterwards, even while she was yet alive, her sister Rachel ? Could a pious Jew be expected to comprehend, that by a mere implication from the eighteenth chapter of Leviticus, the shame of incest was to be attached to the holy patriarch and his wives, and stamped on the origin of more than half of the tribes of Israel ? . Is it reasonable to suppose, that a Jew would so interpret this law? Surely not. If such a marriage had been intended to be branded and treated as incestuous, the lawgiver would surely have deemed, that to a son of Jacob a specific and positive enactment would be most necessary.
The writer has now done with the principle of implication. He has shown, he trusts, to the satisfaction of the candid reader, that it is neither required by nor consistent with the terms of the law--that if the law is not limited to the specific cases, it has no limitation for which any divine authority can be given—that the principle of extending the general statute by this sort of implication, is at variance with the general character of the code—that the specified cases form of themselves a complete system, constructed according to two simple, invariable rules, and which cannot be extended to one unspecified case without adopting a rule, which would rest on no other foundation than a gratuitous assumption-that eighteen specified cases of incest are mentioned in the subsequent portions of the Scriptures, and not one implied caseand that, if the sin of incest really lies, according to the Levitical law, outside of the specified cases, then the divine legislator has constructed his barrier against the sin, so as to be weakest precisely where the greatest strength is necessary.
He now wishes to ask the reader, can this principle be sustained as a safe guide in interpreting the law under consideration ? Still more, is it a principle of sufficient strength to sustain us in excluding loved Christian brethren from our fellowship under the Christian dispensation? Has it sufficient strength to sustain great ecclesiastical bodies in sternly deposing Christian ministers, of otherwise blameless characters and lives, from the sacred office ? and excluding them and their wives from the sweet privilege of a seat at the table of the Lord ? in bringing pain and anguish of spirit to their domestic circle ? in inflicting disgrace and mortification on their innocent and unoffending offspring ? and in infusing bitterness into the cup of all their friends and kindred? Brethren and fathers in the ministry are earnestly entreated to reconsider this matter in the light, not of a perishable and fallible human standard ; but in the light of the Bible and of eternity, and in the spirit of candor and Christian love.
But before the subject is dismissed, it is desirable it should be viewed in still another light. Grant for the sake of the argument that the principle of implication is to be admitted, can it still be applied so as to prohibit marriage with the collateral relatives of a deceased wife?
By referring again to our table it will be seen that the entire line of wife's collaterals is vacant-not one of them is
specifically forbidden. It is confidently asked, does the omission of this whole line mean nothing? Is it not a strong presumptive argument that it was never intended to be embraced under the prohibition ? Let us then again examine the assumed principle by which the law is made to cover it through four generations—the principle, I mean, that a man sustains the same nearness of kin, in the eye of the Levitical law, to his wife's blood relatives, as to his own. It has already been remarked that this is, to say the least of it, a groundless assumption ; but that is not all, it is directly contradicted by other portions of the Levitical law. The argument in its defence is this :-a man may not marry his brother's wife by specific statute : he is in the same nearness of kin to his brother's wife, and to his wife's sister-and therefore he is forbidden to marry his wife's sister. Now it is enough for our purpose to say of this, that it is without proof, and therefore without authority. No proof ever was produced that, in the eye of the Mosaic law, the kindred was the same in these two cases. But we are not obliged to rest the argument here. There is proof positive that the kindred was not the same in the two cases. To that proof the attention of the reader is now invited.
1. The Israelites were divided into tribes, families, and households. This assertion will not be questioned, but for a clear and full exhibition of it, the reader is referred to Josh. 7: 16, 18.
2. This division always followed the male line, with no regard to the female whatever. A woman before marriage was reckoned as belonging to the tribe, family, and household of her father; after marriage, to that of her husband, wherever she had been born. Her marriage took her out of the family of her father, and incorporated her with that of her husband. In proof of this assertion, the reader is referred to Num. 36:112. In this passage we have a distinct recognition of the fact, that when a woman married she was not only herself removed from the tribe and family of her father to that of her husband, but that, if she inherited property, that would, according to the general law of inheritance, be transferred with her. We have also a distinct statute to meet the case, obliging virgins possessing an inheritance to marry within the tribe and family to which the inheritance belonged; this specific law being obviously necessary, in order to preserve in perpetuity to each tribe its own inheritance. It is also observable that the case is not