with regard to the seventh command. Since God would, most assuredly, not leave the holy institution of marriage,
upon the maintenance of which in its purity, so much of the happiness of the world, and the honour of religion depend, without some
farther explanatory precepts. - That, as he had protected the ordinance against adultery, by the letter of
the seventh command, we may be persuaded he would also shield it from pollution, by prescribing the
prohibited limits, and declaring who were the legitimate parties, that might enter into that holy state.
But now, where has God done this, unless it be in the law before us? If this be a moral law against incest;
if in this law the prohibited degrees, which apply to all mankind, be expressly mentioned, or
clearly implied, upon principles which can admit of no doubt or contradiction, then the important benefit
is obtained, the desired statute is found. But if this law be ceremonial, peculiar to the Jews, and in which,
of course, the rest of the world have no share, then there is no law in the whole revelation of
God, which meets the situation and necessity of the human family - for there is no other passage in the Bible, not a single
paragraph to be found in the Old or New-Testament, where the prohibited degrees
are enumerated, excepting in this xviii chapter of Leviticus, and a few verses in the xx chapter, where some of the precepts are repeated.
If this law does not extend to Christians and to the whole world, then a man may now marry even his own mother,
his daughter, or sister by blood. There is, at least, no written law to forbid him. But if this law be indeed
a branch of the seventh precept; if in its nature, scope and object, it altogether coincides with the spirit and extent of that command, then it is as
much a moral law as any precept in the Decalogue, and as such, we are bound to receive it with humble submission,
and fervent gratitude. It is the very revelation we needed to instruct us precisely respecting the parties who may
lawfully enter into the holy state of matrimony. - Nor can it be expected that we will ever suffer any,
whatever may be their motives, to rob us of this treasure.
3. The emphatic language of the divine Lawgiver, in the introduction to this law, and in the concluding sanctions
annexed to it, is sufficient to determine the question, and decide it to be equally obligatory upon all mankind.
To prevent the possibility of mistaking the subjects of this law, or