watch over the public mind; and unitedly, guard against the first approach of principles and conduct,
which would contaminate the manners or prove a reproach to the community. Should the Churches
become negligent and unfaithful, it will soon be found necessary, for the civil power more pointedly to interfere.
The precious liberty, both religious and civil, with which it has pleased God to bless and distinguish
the happy citizens of the United States, is understood and appreciated by those who can duly estimate its value; and we trust, it will be faithfully preserved, by the virtuous portion of the community,
and transmitted inviolate to the latest posterity. But liberty may be easily abused, and is often made an occasion to the flesh. When the restraint of human
laws is relaxed or removed, the influence of the divine law is frequently found, with the unprincipled, to be feeble and insufficient. To no other
source can be ascribed the scandalous marriage with a sister in law, which is shocking to every nation in Europe, but has with us been shamefully introduced, and begins
to assume the attitude of defiance.
"Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people." Religion and morals are inseparable; they stand or fall together; and when
both are prostrate, civil liberty will inevitably depart. - But the impending evil of incestuous marriages may yet be suppressed. The defection is in
its incipient state. There are still many remaining who fear God and tremble at his word. Resistance, prompt and unequivocal, is practicable, and will
assuredly prove successful.
Principiis obsta, sero medicina paratur,
Cum mala per longas invaluere moras.
Is incest forbidden by God? Do the Heathen and Mahometans abhor it? Has the Church, under both
dispensations, always excommunicated incestuous persons? Do the Papists execrate it? And is it by the Civil Governments of all nations punished as an
offence against society? And shall a sin so much detested and universally condemned, be lightly esteemed by us? shall we consider it a small offence,
a mere venial transgression? Do any members of the Church, at this day, and especially any ministers of the Gospel, presume to patronise a marriage, which
they themselves acknowledge approximates as near