Marriage Index
Van Deusen/Kosinski Collection

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accusation; and Eusebius expressly asserts, that from this circumstance alone, the foolish and wicked calumny originated, which the Heathen adversaries greedily seized upon and fiercely propagated, to bring infamy and reproach upon the Christian name. *

During a long and gloomy period, the genuine religion of Jesus was prostrated, his faithful followers persecuted, and a large portion of the Church, over which the antichristian Bishops of Rome exerted their usurped authority, was deformed and ruined. The kingdom of the divine Redeemer, which is not of this world, was debased and blended with the civil government; the doctrines of the gospel were corrupted; and the spiritual worship of the sanctuary disgraced by unmeaning ceremonies and ostenatious pageantry. Yet amidst this wreck of truth and its inevitable consequence, the prostration of pure morals, there were some primary principles which it was impossible to destroy. Among these


*   A very interesting account of the holy walk and strict morality of the primitive Christians may be found in CAVE'S PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY. Of their continence in particular, the reader will meet with many affecting anecdoes in chap. V. of that book


was the sentiment respecting incest. This sin was always condemned and execrated in the Church of Rome. The Popes indeed, with their blasphemous pretensions to authority and infallibility, and to meet the wishes of wicked princes, of whom they were afraid, pretended frequently to dispense with the law of God, in this article. But the public mind forever chrished an abhorrence against it; and some men in the communion of that Church had the courage to denounce the crime, and deny the power of the Pope to grant a dispensation.

At the dawning of the reformation, when learning and religion began to revive; in the close of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth century, there were many pointed testimonies among the Catholicks upon the subject of incest. When the question respecting the divorce of Henry VIII. from his sister in law queen Catherine, agitated Europe; the learned faculties of many universities, particularly in France, gave their solemn opinion in clear and decided terms. *


*   The sentiments of the Protestant Churches respecting the question before us will be introduced in another section.


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