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to teach and enforce it, with sufficient authority, on mankind. Accordingly our wise and good lawgiver has not left us to search after the knowledge of our duty, by reasoning and inquiry; but, by express precept, or fair and easy consequence, has instructed us in every thing, which relates to our government and happiness. The main subject of this law, with which the present case is concerned, is marriage and kindred. It is of this the law treats, in the first place; for it would be unreasonable to understand the sixth verse, as meaning any other kind of approach, but marriage. About this connexion, some instructions are given, in other parts of the word of God. Adam seems to have had a special revelation about it, which led him, when Eve was presented to him, to declare the law of marriage, and the relations and duties it should create, though he had yet no knowledge of them by experience. As this was a very important institution, from whence our various relations and duties should arise; as it was a law eminently conducive to the orderly continuance and happiness of the human race; and distinguishing man from other animals, which were to be propagated in the same way, by natural generation; and as it was upon a subject, wherein beyond all others, man, undirected and unrestrained, would be disposed to go wrong, and to imitate the brutes; so it is reasonable to conclude, that the wisdom and goodness of God, would not leave us des tute of express and necessary directions upon what related to that subject.
Particularly, with respect to the law of kindred; we think, that an express law was necessary, to ascertain the degrees in which it may be lawful, or unlawful to marry. Such a law was necessary, 1. To promote uniformity among men, in that matter, and to prevent confusion. It is observable that this is one design of the law under consideration. The violation of it is called confusion, ch. xx. 12. which may signify some derangement of that order of relations and duties, which God has established for the good of mankind; or something injurious to the health and vigour of the human constitution. What the consequences of this confusion might be, in any of these respects, we may not clearly see; but we may justly conclude, that the wisdom of God, who does nothing in vain, must know, that it would have some bad effect, with respect to the well-being of the human race; otherwise he would not have given a law to prevent it. Every law of God must be adapted to some good end, though we, who have to judge by our imperfect notions of the fitness of things, or partial experience, may not be able, in some cases, to discover it. H. de St. Pierre observes, “ The majestic obscurity of the laws of nature results from the multiplicity of her resources, and the profundity of our ignorance. The law of adaptation is the source of all our discoveries and the foundation of all our reasonings, and regulates our ideas of what is beyond our examination. We are ignorant, that there are men in the planets, but we are assured there must be eyes there, for there is light. This law awakens a sense of justice, and informs of a future world. It is an invincible proof of a God, for such infinite adaptations could never be the effect of limited wisdom.” But if there is such obscurity in the laws of nature, though steady and uniform; and the great law of adaptation, or the fitnesses of things, often leaves us in the dark about them; it may be expected to be still more so in some of these laws which are to govern free agents, whose perversity and various habits are sufficient to interrupt the operation of any laws, however useful they may be to promote good order among men, or the health and strength of the human constitution. When we have divine direction, that should be our rule.
2. It will be allowed that there is such a crime as incest, and that, in some degrees, marriage would be unlawful; as in that of parents and children; brethren and sisters; which would evi. dently confound relations, and disturb their correspondent duties: But as kindred extends beyond these relations; the question will be, what shall determine the lawful boundary? If there is no express law, it must be left to capricious fancy, to affection or passion, or to the imperfect sense of moral obligation, which the reason of every man and woman may suggest. A principle, weak and variable, and without authority, even in the plainest cases; and much more incapable to decide, in cases where the shades of moral good and evil are not so distinctly marked.
3. The wisdom of God has appointed, that mankind should subsist, in families and relationships (in the scriptures, called kindred or kin, v. 6. and elsewhere). And it is evident, that this constitution of things greatly contributes to the good order, the education, government, improvement and happiness of men. From these relations certain obligations and duties arise, which ought to be distinctly felt and discharged. Many of these duties are inculcated in the word of God, and the neglect or violation of them is accounted an evidence of a depraved mind. It would therefore be improper, that this order of things should be disturbed, or any of these duties superceded, by confounding those relations, at least in some degrees. This renders it necessary that such degrecs should be determined by adequate authority. But we know not any such authority, but God; nor any express law, except this, given by him on that subject.
3. The reference which this law has to the original law of marriage, and its evident connexion with it, points out its obligation, as resting on the same foundation; and that as the one is, so must the other be, of a general nature, relating to, and binding on all. It appears to be evidently founded upon, and explanatory of that original law. The law of marriage was declared by Adam, Gen. ï. 24. “ Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh.”. The last words are, in the original, lebasar ehad; literally rendered, from our Saviour's words, by St. Matthew (xix. 5.) és céexce peacey, (and also in Eph. V. 31.) i. e. they shall be in, or come into one flesh. Now, what the real meaning and effect of this is, does not appear from that law. This explains it, as meaning kin, and shows the effect which it is to have, with respect to others. The word basar is the proper term for flesh (animal flesh), but it is used also to signify kindred, which is the meaning here; and and when Judah says of Joseph, Gen. xxxvii. 27," he is our brother, our flesh.” Ahinu besarenu. The same words are used, Neh. v.5. when the poor Israelites complained of the extortion of their rich brethren, they say, our flesh is the flesh of our brethren, i. e. our kindred is the same, with our brethren, who spoil us, and therefore they should forbear to make us slaves.
Another word (shëēr ) is used here, which is synonymous with the former, but more commonly signifies kin (cognatus, propinquus). And it is observable, that in the sixth verse, which contains the substance of the law, upon that subject, both words are used, shëēr besaro, literally the flesh of his flesh; to signify, his near of kin, or nearest kin. In the 12th, 13th and 17th verses, it is plainly seen that this is the meaning, and that it is to be applied equally to the kin, by affinity, as by consanguinity. This law makes no difference; the shëēr besaro, (his near of kin,) applies to the one equally with the other. It may be further observed, that the two synonymous words, used in the sixth verse, amount to a reduplication, which, according to the Hebrew idiom, will signify a special nearness, or nearest kin; the meaning and extent of which are to be explained by the particulars of the following precepts. Hence it may be observed,
1. That it appears to be the design of God, the lawgiver, that the law of marriage shall constitute, in the married pair, one individual and distinct kin; and that it establishes the rule, that a man and his wife are, by virtue of that union, each equally related to each other's kin, as if they were so by blood. They are to be considered as one.
2. That the kin, hereby constituted, is to be of determinate limits and specific extent, as to its influence; comprehending, besides the direct ascending and descending line, the first, or nearest collateral degree on either side ;* and it is to be unconfounded with any other kins, of the same kind arising within itself. Thus, besides the general kindred of the human race, all being of the same flesh and blood; this law is to constitute subordinate kins, every one of which shall be, as an individual self, peculiarly interested in, and concerned for the prosperity of all its parts; and by this constitution of things it is effected that the great ends of education and government are carried on by authorities of reasonable extent, supported by the supreme authority of God, and also under the influence of a special affection and attachment impressed by him, correspondent to the relation; and, consequently, the general order and happiness of the human race, will be more effectually promoted.
3. To prevent inordinate selfishness, and extend relationship and affection, this law requires, that the parties, who are thus to come into, or to constitutc one kin, are not to be already of the same, but of different kins; so that every new kin shall be a bond or nexus between other kins; contributing to a more general benevolence, and operating, in a certain degree, against that dispersion of affection, which is the native consequence of a confusion of kindred, as well as tending to the extension of the human
Now, as this is a law given by divine authority; as it appears to be, not of a ceremonial cast, but of a general nature, and conducive to great and benevolent purposes; as it recognises, and is founded upon the original law of marriage, and illustrates that law, particularly upon the subject and extent of kin, created by it; and as to give it effect, the Author of nature has accompanied it with an endearing affection and attachment peculiar to the relation; may we not justly conclude, that it is of a moral nature and binding on all?
Some objections have been made to this view of the subject, which it may be necessary to consider.
[ To be continued.]
* The first degree includes only brethren and sisters, uncles and aunts, nephews and nieces. It is commonly called the third degree, when we count up to the prepositus, and then collaterally.
COMMUNICATION. MR. EDITOR, I HAVE shared in the pleasure which the perusal of Dr. Nott's evangelical and eloquent missionary sermon, has given to its readers. But much as I applaud it, there are in it some sentiments in which I cannot agree with the ingenious author. If the following discussions, occasioned by a perusal of that sermon, will contribute to gratify the readers of your magazine, you will please to insert them.
6 In the estimation of heaven our services are appreciated, not by the good we accomplish, but the sincerity, the strength, and constancy of our exertions” (p. 27).
This sentiment, however commonly entertained, I think incorrect. As I apprehend that it has an unfriendly influence, and damps that ardent desire to be useful, which every christian should cherish, I wish to be indulged with a few observations, to show that it is untenable and unscriptural. I admit, that no pious labours, however unsuccessful, will go unrewarded, that our reward hereafter will not be regulated wholly by the success that may attend our exertions, and that the sincerity, strength and constancy of them will be taken into consideration, and form a principal part of the rule in judgment. But I cannot believe that our success will be overlooked. I believe that scripture teaches us that happiness and glory hereafter will be distributed in exact proportion to our services and the good we accomplish in this life; and that of two men endowed with equal talents, and equally faithful in employing them, that man will sit highest in the kingdom of heaven, who, by the blessing of God, is honoured to be the instrument of doing most good to his fellow christians and fellow men. What saith the scripture? That we shall be judged according to our works, and that our works shall follow us. Here is the rule. To apply it rightly we must ascertain the meaning of the term works. Are we to understand by it, merely the sincerity, strength and constancy of our exertions in serving God? or does it include likewise the beneficial effects attending them? Certainly the latter. How will the guilt of Jeroboam, king of Israel, be determined? Merely by the wickedness of his heart and his attempts to do evil? No; in addition to this, will be considered the mischievous and dreadful effects of his im. pious actions, through many ages. Thus will his guilt be ascertained, and his punishment determined. And will the apostle Paul be rewarded merely according to the ardour of his love to VOL. II.