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solemn deliberation, and the report To what is this to be attributed? of the ablest committee that could be To the gradual increase of light, selected, and the private inquiries and the removal of superstitionand researches of the members for say the advocates for curtailing the a whole year, and the most ma- Confession of Faith. To a growing ture deliberation” of a second sy, deterioration of morals, and a crinod, both these kinds of marriages minal relaxation of church disciare declared “to be unlawful, and pline, and the repeal or non executhat the persons contracting them tion of the laws against incest-anare to be suspended from special swer those who would preserve the communion, while they continue in constitution in its integrity. We this relation.” Surely it ought not profess to belong to the latter class; to be asserted that the highest judi- and thus we come into collision catory of the Presbyterian church, with the authors of the two pamhas never been able to satisfy itself phlets, to which are attached the that the marriage of a deceased wife's signatures of Clericus and Veritas. sister is positively forbidden in the These pamphlets, in reply to DoBible. 'I'he highest judicature of mesticus, are written in a neat this church was perfectly satisfied style, and with good temper. on this subject, for more than half a We have said that our opinions century. But here again we ought are in collision with those of these to acquit Dr. Ely of known misre- writers; but this is true only to a presentation-We are persuaded certain extent. They wish the cahe was not acquainted with this nons of the church, which relate decision. His quotations are all to unlawful marriages to be repealmade from acts of the General As- ed or altered; we wish that they sembly, which certainly are of a dif- should remain exactly as they are. ferent complexion from those of the But we entirely agree with them in old synod--the synod which formed thinking that the ground is utterly and sanctioned the present consti- untenable, on which Domesticus tution of the Presbyterian church. contends against an alteration in Yet in no instance, let it be re the Confession of Faith of the Presmembered, has the General Assem- byterian church. We think that he bly failed to frown, and sometimes bas deeply injured the cause which very severely, on these marriages. he professes to defend; and we proWe did intend to trace this subject pose to quote from Clericus and through all the records of the Gene- Veritas in proof of this fact. So ral Synod, and General Assembly. far then as these writers state con: But we find that the execution of siderations to show that we must that purpose would extend our re take our authority for the prohibiview beyond all reasonable bounds. tion of incestuous marriages from The truth is, that in the Presbyte- the Levitical code, and not, as Dorian church, discipline in regard to mesticus would have it, from“ geneunlawful marriages has gradually ral expediency”—so far as they ex: been relaxed, and that this relaxa- pose the weakness and futility of all tion has been, in a great measure, his reasoning in support of his owing to the manner in which the strange hypothesis-so far as they General Assembly has treated the condemn his extravagance of assubject-till in some parts of the sertion and expression-so far their church no discipline at all is exercised, and the General Assembly * These writers, it appears, both be: itself, has at last submitted it to the long to the communion of the Dutch Presbyteries to decide whether the church, before the General Synod of constitutional article shall not be pending, as before the General Assembly
which the very same question is 110W repealed.
of the Presbytcrian Church.
sentiments and ours are in perfect the opposite side, have admitted accordance; and we only regret that our's is the safest constructhat Domesticus has put it in their tion for practice; the best calcupower to urge against what we lated to preserve the purity of the esteem a good cause, the indiscreet church from contamination, and the admissions of one of its advocates. consciences of its members from All that we have to say, therefore, uneasy doubts and suspicions. Nay, in opposition to Clericus and Veri. C. and V. themselves disclaim extas, may be brought within a nar- pressly the imputation of pleading row compass; for by far the larger for these marriages, as generally part of their pamphlets is employed expedient; or indeed of being adin exposing what is inconclusive vocates for them at all—They only and objectionable in the publication wish the rules of the church to be to which they reply. If we rightly so modified that, for the present, apprehend these writers, they wish some slight punishment may be inthe canons of the Dutch church and flicted for the violation of existing the Confession of the Presbyterian prejudices; and Clericus says, exchurch to be altered, in regard to pressly, (page 17), “In a few years unlawful marriages--simply and the prejudice will probably subside: solely because they think that these publick opinion may change; and canons and this Confession, as they it may appear expedient to dispense now stand, cannot be supported by even with this slight discipline." the Levitical code, nor by any other How these writers are to show that scriptural authority. We have how they are consistent with themselves, nestly and carefully endeavoured in the different parts of their pamto understand them, and if we do, phlets, we are glad to think is not the whole of what they say on the à task which we are called to unmerits of the question in contro- dertake. versy comes in the result to this, But let us see what reasons they We are by no means to rejecť assign for the interpretation they the xviii. chapter of Leviticus as would give to the 16th and 18th containing merely a temporary en verses of Lev. xviii. And here we actment for the Jews, but to regard wish it may be well noted that they it as furnishing, on the subject of do not even pretend to allege any unlawful marriages, the law of the new argument, from the meaning of Christian church : and yet we are the texts in the original, or from not to inser from the 16th verse the context of the verses—they do of that chapter, that a man is for- not even recite much that has herebidden to marry the sister of his de- tofore been said by others, in faceased wife, but rather to consider vour of their opinion. What they do the 18th verse as intimating that he say, in the way of argument, has may. Now we bave already seen, been said and answered a hundred that while there have been in eve- times, before they were born. Their ry age of the Christian church a whole plea, so far as it is properly few individuals, some of them, we their own, rests on the increased admit, learned and pious, who light of the present age, on classing have rather leaned to this inter- the opinions of their opponents with pretation of the 16th and 18th those in favour of religious perseverses of the xviii. chapter of Le-cution and witchcraft, and on the viticus than decisively adopted it, fact that persons of great piety and still the collected and overwhelming worth have actually contracted such weight of piety and learning have al marriages as we judge to be unlawways been decisively in favour of ful. Now we really think that we the other interpretation; and nearly might fairly urge that much of all the whole, even of those who lean to this is gratis dictum, and that the Vol. V.-Ch. Adv.
rest is set aside by a fundamental Doctors Livingston and Mason? principle of dialectick, which says, Yet all these men have most deci. a particulari ad generale non valet sively opposed the interpretation consequentia—You shall not draw a for which c. and V. are advocates
, general conclusion from particular and have put forth all their strength cases. What has the increased in favour of our opinion, and in light of the present age to do with opposition to theirs.' We know not the subject, if the present age has why C. and V. have not condescendnot thrown a single ray of new light ed so much as to mention the work on the texts of scripture in contro- of Dr. Livingston-especially, as versy? Such we affirm to be the they belong to the church of which, fact; and Clericus and Veritas for half a century, he was the brightthemselves do not profess to show est ornament. Whatever may have the contrary. And what have re- been the cause of their silence, as ligious persecution and witchcraft well as that of Domesticus, we shall to do with the question, if there is take this opportunity to say explino similarity between them and the citly, that we think he had, by a very case in band. Clericus has only great disparity, more learning, more intimated, he has not even attempt- theological knowledge, more logick, ed to prove, that there is a simila- and a better acquaintance with birity. We affirm that there is none blical criticism, than all of them put whatever. No Protestant, no Ro- together, with the present reviewer manist, so far as we know, pre- added to the number. But perhaps tends to allege that there is any he was so indurated by years, that passage of scripture that lays down the light of the present age could à law, showing in what cases reli- not penetrate his mind! Seriously, gious persecution is lawful, and in for this is a very serious subject, what cases unlawful. But these we do not believe that it has been gentlemen themselves admit that light, but corrupt feeling, unre. there is a passage of scripture strained by church discipline and which lays down the law in regard civil law, which has led to the to unlawful marriages—The only wretched frequency of marriages question is about the true interpre- between brothers and sisters-intation of this law, and c. and v. law, in our country-For in other take it for granted, that the light of countries there has been nothing of this age
is in favour of their con- the kind—unless we except France, struction. Even in this, facts are in the time of the revolution. How all against them, unless they will will Veritas himself reconcile the maintain that the light of the age whole scope of his pamphlet with has begun to dawn very recently the following paragraph found on perhaps since they and Domesticus the 11th page?' He sayshave appeared as authors. We are not aware that any late European
“I would not, however, on any consi. publications have shed light on this deration, be understood as undervaluing
these excellent standards of doctrine subject : and as to our own country, which we have received from, and for what writers, we ask, of the pre- which we are indebted to, the piety and sent age, have ranked higher in Icarning of our ancestors; or as casting point of learning, piety and logical any reflection on their pious care, in acumen, among the Congregation- fancy, in doctrinal knowledge, and a strict al churches of New England, than regard for the institutions and ordinances Dr. Trumbull and the younger Pre- of religion. We have rather reason to sident Edwards? And who, in the mourn over the degeneracy of modern Dutch and Presbyterian churches, times. Would that this hallowed influhave been more distinguished by sively on our rising generation! Let the
ence were distilling itself more extenthe union of the same talents than young be taught to venerate our confes
sions of faith. Let early instruction in this (to use a figure of his own)“Jacktheir doctrines have its full effect. It may with-a-lantern,” which has led him possibly produce prejudice, but better that should be the result, than that its to
away from the safe and sure paths tal neglect should leave the mind unoc of holy scripture, and "soused him cupied, and unguarded against the in into bogs and ditches,” in one of roads of infidelity and error: for, where which Veritas professes to have faithfully administered, if the subject is found him, and to enjoy a laugh at diverted to either, he will step over on the sterner side of Christian rectitude.
Thus are we brought into closer Yes, verily, we have reason contact with Domesticus, certainly to mourn over the degeneracy of the most singular writer that we modern times,” and to impute to ever encountered. He uses no cerothis cause the better state of the mony with any body, and therefore church and of society at large, in has no right to expect any in return. years that are past. To this cause, He hurls aside with a jerk, all the and not to increased light, we are best expositors of scripture, and all to impute the transgressions of a
the framers of canons and confesfew, not many, pious persons, in sions of faith, in every age of the the matter of unlawful marriage. church, who have thought that, for The very truth is, and all history the law of incest, recourse must be proves it, that in no one point of had to the 18th chapter of Levitimorals are good men themselves so
He treats them all with perliable to offend, if not restrained by fect contempt, and in reference to the strongest and most palpable the basis on which they construct bonds, as in that which relates to their system he says "As well the intercourse of the sexes.
We might a man endeavour to persuade do not believe that there is in the us, that a steam-engine is made to United States at present, a holier boil water for the tea-table.” Now, man than David, or a wiser one
a writer who can do this, may be than Solomon. Yet every reader learned, may be ingenious, may be of the Bible knows how lamentably eloquent, may be brilliant, but in they sinned, by the indulgence of our poor opinion, he discovers more unhallowed propensities, and what talent for every thing that is the a blot they have left on their cha. opposite of modesty, than for any racters, as a warning to all suc- thing else. Domesticus professes to ceeding ages. Nor ought it to be for be on our side of the question, but
as an auxiliary we renounce him utgotten, how severely they suffered,
terly. by the immediate inflictions of God himself. As to witchcraft, the light Tempus eget —
Non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis, of modern times, it is supposed, has discovered that, at present, there
He has done all in his power to is no such thing; and consequently that he has done this intentionally
betray our cause to the enemy. Not that there is no passage of scrip- that he has done this intentionally ture, however applicable hereto
-we acquit him of design; but he fore, that is applicable
now. But has done it in fact. The proof is
before us. this modern light, even in the
Clericus quotes him exjudgment of Clericus and Veritas, ultingly, from the beginning to the has not discovered that there is no
end of his letter; and Veritas frepassage of scripture which is directe quently refers to him in the same ly applicable to unlawful marriages.
way. Clericus saysThey maintain that there is such a “Now, I ask, what is the argument of passage. They maintain it stoutly Domesticus? Indulge me, my friend, with
a rapid view of it, to show the correct. against Domesticus; who seems to
ness of my averment. think indeed that he has a complete “The divine law be yields in toto, at monopoly of this wonderful light, the very outset, as giving no direct
positive countenance to the side he has national manners; nay, in the Hebrew undertaken to defend. This is bis lan- law itself, I could point out numberless guage : My conviction of the incestuous singularities of this rite, which no one nature of the marriage of a wife's sister, will contend societies in our day are is, as I have already hinted, not founded bound to imitate. We are, therefore, toon the letter of the Levitical law. On this tally in the dark until the question be point I fully agree with the gentlemen fully decided—what means the law of inalluded to above ;' (referring to those cest in general? Having obtained the rea. who had been represented by his friend 801, we can soon, and easily judge, wheas denying the relation of the 18th verse ther, and how far, the Levitical precepts of the 18th chapter of Leviticus to the carry with them the force of obligation. question, and thinking the constructive We can judge, also, whether the circumreasoning from the 16th verse, which stances of modern society so far differ forbids the marriage of a woman with her from those of the Hebrew
nation as to rehusband's brother, too vague and indeter. quire a revision and extension of that code Ininate to build a solid conclusion on.) 'I -in a word, we shall be able, unless I can no more find it prohibited in the am greatly mistaken, to fix the true chawords of that code, than I can find the racter of the marriage more immediately battle of Waterloo in the Apocalypse of under consideration. Page 10. St. John.' Again. The question is, are “Such, then, is his argument, stated they' (the institutions of Moses,) 'obliga fairly in his own words. The connexion tory on the Christian church, or on Chris. in marriage of a man with his wife's sister tian nations as a system, so that no change is not sanctioned by GENERAL EXPEDI. can be made in any, even of the details, ENCY. The Levitical law, on which some without incurring the high guilt of rebel- place so much reliance to prove the un. lion against the authority of Almighty lawfulness of the connexion, is confessed. God ? Every sensible man will answer ly not of moral obligation, but depends, as without hesitation, no. I then ask how to the extent of its application, on cir much is obligatory? What rule is to di. cumstances. Circumstances are variable rect us in the delicate process of sifting things. The manners, habits, and feeland selection? The obvious reply to this ings of a people may change, and then is, just so much as agrees with the phy. the application of the law may be modi. sical, moral, and political circumstances fied, or suspended altogether, according of modern society, and the rule is GENE to circumstances. And Reason, which he ral EXPEDIENCY as apprehended by the says very justly is a most excellent ascommon sense of mankind. Before, there. sistant in her place,' is to fix authoritafore, a Mosaick statute can be acknow. tively the extent of this application. Let ledged to possess a binding authority it not be said, that this is putting too over me, or the community of which í much confidence in the fallible judgment am a member, I must ascertain its reason, of men. It is very foolish to argue against its principle. If, on a fair and candid ex a face, and the plain fact is, that we are amination, I discover that the reason fully necessitated to this course." Page 8. No holds, the statute I pronounce to be bind -Reason, which a few years ago performing. If there be a difference of circum- ed such wonders in revolutionary France, stances, not, however, destructive of the and which many men, great in the estigeneral reason, I am bound to modify so mation of the world, in every age, have as to suit the peculiarity. If the circum- worshipped with more sincere and entire stances be so different that the reason devotednes than the Ephesians did their ceases altogether, it is abrogated.' Pages great goddess Diana-Reason is to be 6, 7, 8. Again. The 18th chapter of Le both guide and judge in this matter, when viticus he virtually admits contains no pre the Bible, the only infallible rule of faith cepts of moral obligation, for he says it and practice, is laid aside. And, indeed, 6 stands in the midst of a cluster of pre- it must be so—there is no avoiding it. It cepts, which are acknowledged to be may be well to represent her only as an long since done away. Look at the chap. assistant, lest her investiture with infalliter immediately preceding, and you find bility should excite unnecessary alarm; it full of ceremonial and judicial peculi- but, the truth is, she must strike out the arities. There is not one precept of mo. path, and determine the boundaries where ral obligation in it, from beginning to criminality ends and innocence begins, in end.' Page 9. Having adduced proof of matrimonial connexions. By the way, this assertion, he adds, “These are ex appears to me very fortunate for the ploded; and must we be put off with a friends, as they are termed, of this partisic volo, sic jubeo, when we ask why a cular connexion, that two men who are greater importance and permanence are so decidedly opposed to it should take attributed to the prohibition of mar. ground so dissimilar and opposite ; that riages? No institution has been more ühe one, and the very Hercules in the modified by custom, and peculiarity of controversy, should turn round, and look