Marriage Index
Van Deusen/Kosinski Collection

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PAGE 152

from Abraham's marrying his half sister, and Jacob's marrying two sisters at the same time; as well as, from the dispensation in the law of Deut. 25. And they proved it to be absolutely unlawful for a man to marry his sister in law.

What the Grecian and Latin Fathers maintained upon this subject, has been well expressed in the following summary. "The law of marriage was originally given by God to Adam in the state of innocence, with this declaration that man and wife were one flesh; but being afterwards corrupted by the incestuous commixtures of those which were near of kin, in the nearest degrees, the primitive law was again revived by Moses. And those prohibitions respecting the degrees of kindred and affinity, are not to be considered, as new laws and judiary precepts, but as a restoring the law of nature, originally given by God, which was then much corrupted. For as the preface which is so often repeated before these laws, I am the Lord infers that they were conformable to the divine nature; so the consequence of them show they were moral and natural. For the transgressions of them are called wickedness and abominations, and are said to defile

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the land; and the violation of them is charged upon the Canaanites, 'by which the land was polluted, and for which, it did vomit out the inhabitants' - from whence it must be concluded that these were not mere positive and ceremonial precepts, which were binding only upon the Jews, but were parts of the law of mankind and nature; otherwise those nations could contract no guilt by their violating them. - Among the forbidden degrees, one respects the sister in law, Levit. xviii. 16. and xx. 21. These are clear and express laws of God, which therefore must necessarily oblige all persons, of what rank or description soever, without exception."

Among the celebrated REFORMERS there was not a dissenting voice. They were explicit and unanimous upon the subject. * ZUINGLIUS, in a letter to Grineus, enlarges upon four points, asserting - 1. That although civil magistrates should tolerate such marriages, yet no power on earth can render void the


*   MELANCHTON, with his characteristic modesty, declined to give his opinion upon the question, when requested by Henry VIII. from which, it has been suggested that he differed from his brethren in this article. But as he afterwards joined with the Lutheran divines in their decision upon that subject, he cannot be considered to have maintained opposite sentiments. - A similar conclusion may perhaps also apply to BUCER.


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