Marriage Index
Van Deusen/Kosinski Collection

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PAGE 128

by the patrons of this objection, that exceptions do not comprise the general principle of a Law, or they would not be exceptions but repeals. - They always confirm the law, to which the exceptions refer, and must be construed strictly, or they would destroy the general rule itself. - They are only a suspension of the law, in the particular cases specified, and cannot extend to any other cases, much less to the whole law to which they relate.

The Law in Deut. is not intended to ascertain the degrees of kindred in which marriages are prohibited; that was fully and unequivocally done in Levit. xviii. The only object of the exception is expressly mentioned. A brother is directed to marry the widow of his deceased brother, but the case limits itself with great precision. It must be a brother who died without male issue - Vu Ben Aen lo - et filius non ei fuerit. Had the deceased left a son, the general law against Incest would have rendered a marriage with his widow, as incestuous as with any other woman near of kin.

It is evident that this exception was wholly restricted to the Theocracy, and enacted for the express

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purpose of preserving families and inheritance inviolate until the Messiah came. Whatever then might be the scope or the operation of the exception, it must necessarily expire with the Theocracy; but this has long since answered the sublime purposes for which it was established, and is now dissolved. The exception in question therefore, and all the other peculiarities attached to the economy of the Old Testament, cease to be any longer of force. A similar case is impossible under the New-Testament. Christians therefore can never, upon any contingency, be permitted to marry a sister in law, who has been the wife of a deceased brother, and still less, a sister in law, who is the sister of a deceased wife, to whom the dispensation in Deut. never did, and in the nature of things, never could apply.

The conclusion is unavoidable: there is nothing in the law of Deut. xxv. which invalidates the moral nature and perpetual obligation of the law against Incest, in general, or the precept against marrying a sister in law in particular; nothing which in any form or degree can be binding upon Christians under the dispensation of the New-Testament; and nothing


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