Marriage Index
Van Deusen/Kosinski Collection

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PAGE 118

which cannot be controverted; that, "every precept, which expressly names and prohibits any particular degree of relation, must be understood to comprise all relatives within the same degree, as fully as if they had been specifically named." Without admitting this rule, the law would have been greatly defective, or must have been tediously prolix. - While designating degrees more remote, strict attention has been given to the relation of brothers and sisters, and marriages with those relatives are expressly forbidden. This prohibition extends not only to brothers and sisters, by consanguinit, but also to brothers and sisters by affinity. Each is particularly recognised. Sisters by blood and sisters by affinity are considered as relatives equally near and legal, as it respects the marriage connection, and each is equally forbidden. The case of a sister by affinity is introduced, verse 16. - A sister by affinity is either a brother's wife, or the sister of a wife. Both are equally sisters; both are allied upon the same principle, and both stand in the same degree of kindred. To prohibit a marriage with one, is therefore of course a prohibition with respect to the other sister. Whatever exceptions may be supposed to have sometimes intervened in regard to

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a sister in law of the former class, there could be none to a sister in law of the latter. The sister of a deceased wife is, without any possible exemption, absolutely and forever prohibited. - In this sense the ancient Jews understood the law. They knew they were unconditionally forbidden to marry the sister of a deceased wife. The law is unequivocal and as it regards the Jews, its meaning cannot be controverted. The only question to be decided is, whether this law is ceremonial and peculiar to Israel; or whether it is moral and of universal obligation? That it cannot be a ceremonial law is evident from its possessing none of the properties of a ceremonial law. - That it is a moral law is certain - from its essential connection, in its object and scope with the seventh precept of the Decalogue - from its express reference to the law of nature, and coincidence with that very law which the wicked inhabitants of Canaan had transgressed; and - from its being the only written law in the whole Bible, upon the subject of Incest; the only standard by which the Christian church can ascertain the crime, and agreeably to which, by proper discipline, she can preserve her purity by excommunicating such criminals.


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