no persons related in blood, or by affinity, within the forbidden degrees, shall be permitted to cohabit or
be married, under the penalty of being declared infamous, and subjected to corporal punishment and heavy fines,
and, if they persevered in their crime, to banishment." In another ordinance, the forbidden
degrees are enumerated, and it is declared "that no man may marry the widow of his deceased brother, nor MAY ANY WOMAN MARRY THE HUSBAND
OF HER DECEASED SISTER."
Incest and adultery were in ENGLAND made capital crimes, in the year 1650. But at the restoration, those offences were left to the coercion of the spiritual court,
according to the rules of the canon law: yet the court of king's bench is still the custos morum of the people, and has the superintendency of offences contra bonos mores.
[Blackstone's Com. book 6, chap. 4. Of offences against God and religion.]
- "Our Law considers marriage in no other light than as a civil contract. The holiness of the matrimonial state is left entirely to the ecclesiastical law; the temporal
courts not having jurisdiction to consider unlawful marriage as a sin, but merely as a civil inconvenience. The
punishment therefore, or annulling of incestuous or other unscriptural marriages, is the province of the spiritual courts, which act, pro salute animae. -
Among the disabilities which
prevent persons from contracting marriage, are consanguinity, or relation by blood; and affinity, or relation by marriage.
And those disabilities are all grounded upon the express words of the divine law, or are consequences plainly deducible from thence:
it is therefore being sinful in the persons who labor under them, to attempt to contract matrimony together, they are properly the object of the
ecclesiastical magistrate's coercion."
[Blackstone's Com book 1. chap 15.]
In the UNITED STATES, the general Government has not passed any laws upon the subject.
It belongs to the respective States individually to protect the morals of their people; and in all these, incest is,
by common law, an offence contra bonos mores, and in some of them, it is punishable by state. But
the principal dependence is placed in the Churches of every denomination, throughout the union.
Government is assured that they will instruct and