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Whether a marriage, consummate betwixt the uncle and niece, be so utterly unlawful, as to merit a sentence of present separation.


WHAT prodigious matches have been of late made, and are still continued, upon advantage taken of the unsettledness of the times, I would rather silently lament, than openly proclaim to the world. Such as are not capable of any apology, call for our blushing and tears.

But there are some others, which dare stand upon the terms of defence such is this, which you have here propounded in the behalf of your friend, whom it seems a mis-learned Advocate would fain bear up in a course altogether unjustifiable. That cause must needs be desperately ill, that can find no mercenary abettors. His offensive marriage with his niece is heartened by a sophistical pleader; whose wit and skill is so ill bestowed in this case, that I wish his fee might be perpetual silence: but, when he hath made use of his best art to so bad a purpose, those colours of defence, wherewith he thinks to daub over so foul a cause, will prove but water-colours, which shall easily be washed off by this present confutation.

"It was lawful," he saith, "before the Levitical Law, thus to match:"-So were worse marriages than this. Let him tell me, that Cain, and Enoch, and Seth married their own sisters; as Saturn also did, by the report of Diodorus Siculus. Necessity made it then not unlawful. It is a just rule of law: "Those things may not be drawn into precedent, which have been yielded upon mere

necessity" as we use to say, "Necessity hath no law," so it can make none. Afterwards, as mankind grew, nature itself taught men to keep farther aloof from their own flesh and still, remoteness of distance enlarged itself with time.

"Abraham," saith he, "married his niece Sarai; Gen. xi. 29. (if at least Sarai were Iscah); Nahor, his niece Milcah; Amram, his aunt Jochebed: and these, not without a large blessing upon the bed:"-Let him tell me also, that Jacob married two sisters, and conversed conjugally with both, which were now shamefully incestuous; yet was herein blessed with the issue of six of those Patriarchs, who were the root of those glorious stems of Israel. If we should speak most favourably of these conjunctions, to rank them under malum quia prohibitum; it must needs follow, that, till the prohibition came, they could not be censured as evil: though good authors make it justly questionable, whether these fore-alleged marriages should deservedly be charged with a sin, or excused by God's extraordinary dispensation. In the mean time, the blessing was to the person; not to the act. Even Lot's incestuous copulation with his daughters sped well: two famous nations sprang thence; and, of one of them, the gracious progenitrix of the Saviour of the world: yet this is no plea for the allowance of that monstrous conjunction. After the Law, one justifiable example were worth a thousand before it.

"Lo, good Caleb," saith he, "married his daughter Achsah to his brother Othniel; Josh. xv. 16, 17:”—Indeed, this case comes as home to the business, as it is far off from the text. See whither misprision of Scripture may mislead us. A man, that understands nothing but the English or Vulgate Latin, may easily run into so foul an error. Weigh but the place well, and you will soon find the fault, without me. Othniel, the son of Kenaz, Caleb's brother, took Kerath-Sepher; and Caleb gave him Achsah, his daughter, to wife. The English, wanting cases, expresses it doubtfully. It will be clear in the Latin; as Montanus and Pagnine, two great masters of the Hebrew, in their interlinear, read it, Othniel, filius Kenaz, fratris Calebi; "Othniel, the son of Kenaz, which Kenaz was Caleb's brother." Both the Hebrew and Chaldee clear that sense. So the Septuagint, as Emanuel Sa also urges upon that place; Judges i. 13. expressly say, that Kenaz was the brother of Caleb, and not Othniel. Wherein yet I cannot much blame an unbalanced judgment, while I find the Septuagint contrary to themselves: for, in Josh. xv. 16. they say Othniel was Caleb's younger brother; in Judges iii. 9. they say, Kenaz the father of Othniel was so; for which there is no excuse, but the large sense of a brother in the Hebrew. We are brethren, saith Abraham to Lot; yet he was Lot's uncle: so was Kenaz a progenitor to Othniel; for Caleb is styled the son of Jephunneh, the Kenezite; Josh. xiv. 14. and Num. xxxii. 12. The case was only this, Kenaz was the ancestor of Caleb; and one of the same name was his brother, the father of

* In argumentum trahi nequeunt, quæ propter necessitatem sunt concessa.

Othniel. What can be more plain, than 1 Chr. iv. 13. And the sons of Kenaz, Othniel and Seraiah. So as, if we take this most strictly to the letter, it implies nothing but the marriage of two cousins-german; Othniel the son of Kenaz, and Achsah the daughter of Caleb, brother's children, as Bucer upon the place, Melancthon in his tract De Conjugio, Junius; and, indeed, who otherwise? And now, by this time, you see what a poor ground this is to build upon: rather, you see a castle, not built on the sand, but in the air; mere misconceit.

"But," saith the Advocate, "this marriage is no where directly forbidden in the Law:"-I must tell him it is but a mere shuffle, to stand upon the terms of a direct prohibition, when there is one no less forcible and convictive. Two ways may aught be effectually forbidden in the Law; either in plain expression of terms, or in clear implication of sense: surely, that is rather more in the Law, which it means irrefragably, than what it verbally expresseth.

Now, however this be not in the letter of the Law, yet in the sense it is the same law, that forbids the nephew to marry the aunt, doth, eadem operá, forbid the uncle to marry the niece. In regard, as of nearness, yea identity of blood, the case is the same; however some inequality may be conceived, in respect of government and subjection. And if, upon some economical terms, it be more unfit for a nephew to marry his aunt, than for an uncle to marry his niece; yet, in regard of blood, and that bodily conjunction which God principally aims at in this prohibition, what dif ference can possibly be conceived? Nature hath made no other distance betwixt the nephew and the aunt, than betwixt the niece and the uncle; or, if there be any, they must be sharper eyes than mine, that can discern it.

God himself, methinks, hath put this out of doubt: the reason wherewith he backs his command is irresistible: the nephew shall not marry the father's sister; why so? For she is thy father's near kinswoman; Lev. xviii. 12. Lo, it is the nearness of blood, that makes this match unlawful; not respect of civil inequality. Where the blood, then, is equally near, the marriage must be equally unlawful.

That Rule of law, which is pretended, In prohibitoriis, quicquid non prohibetur, permittitur; "What is not forbidden, is permitted;" had need of a fair construction. Indeed, that, which is not forbidden either in words or in necessary analogy and implication of sense, is supposed to be left at large. But what place hath this axiom, in a case not less really forbidden, than the expressed? And, if we should strictly follow the letter of this maxim, it would lead us into Sodom: since there are marriages not specified, which would be monstrously incestuous, and such as honesty would blush to mention; as shall appear in the sequel.

Neither is there any more force in that other, In pænalibus, non fit extensio; "That penal laws should not be stretched further than their words import." Certainly, in some sense, I know no law that is not penal; but why this law, Thou shalt not marry thy aunt

or niece should be rather penal, than Thou shalt not commit adultery, I know not. I am sure learned Zanchius accounts these of the eighteenth of Leviticus, equally moral: and Bucanus holds them to be against the law of nature. And if, in human laws, this axiom may challenge a place; yet, in the royal laws of our Maker, where, under one sin mentioned, all the species and appendances, and the whole chain of that wickedness is wont to be comprised, doubtless it is utterly insufferable. Neither is here any extension of this prohibition, beyond those limits, which God hath fixed in the undoubted sense of his Law. In the seventh commandment, nothing is expressed but Adultery: shall we therefore say neither Fornica tion, nor Pollution, nor Sodomy is there forbidden were not this to destroy that law, which God makes to be spiritual; and to open the floodgates to a torrent of licentiousness? Surely, it is easy to observe, that God's Spirit no less means that, which he pleaseth to suppress. The Psalmist says, Promotion comes neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south; Ps. lxxv. 6: shall we therefore say, "It is from the north?" is not that coast equally excluded, though not expressed? It is too much boldness, to hold God too strictly to syllables, when it is easy to determine what he meant to imply.

These rules then are useless.


Let me see now, if the Advocate can as easily shake off one or two rules of law, which I shall return upon him, in lieu of his. committet in legem, &c: "He wrongs the law, who, keeping close to the letter, strives against the intent and purpose of the law." And that other, not unlike, In fraudem legis facit, qui, salvis verbis legis, sententiam ejus circumvenit: if this be not the case in hand, I shall profess to know nothing.

From rules, let us look to Authorities.

"It is directly maintained," he saith, "by the Canonists and Schoolmen:"but what is it, that is so maintained? Not this match: let no man think so: but that proposition, viz. That this match is no where directly forbidden in God's Law. If we take it of express terms, no wise man ever denied it: not Canonists and Schoolmen only, or those few named authors, but all reasonable men concur in this truth: what needs a citation of some, where all agree? But, if we take it of the necessary and clear sense of the Law by just analogy and infallible implication, now, none of the forecited, or any other orthodox authors, will deny the certain and indubitable prohibition of this marriage. How well the rest will speed, judge by their foreman, Tho. Aquinas, who expressly determines it a false position, That those are joined together by God, who match within the fourth degree; whereas, this is in the third. Not to say how stiffly Peter Lombard urges the unlawfulness of marriages, to the very seventh degree, vel quousque parentela possit agnosci, " even as far as the kindred may be discerned;" following herein Pope Gregory, and Nicholas. To shut up short, none of all his cited authors dare be any other than professed enemies to this match; no less than the most zealous commissioner of

that now abolished court, whose late sentence is upon record, enough to this purpose. As for Lyra, who is trailed in here, and cited strongly in Othniel's case, what shall I say? it grieves my soul, to see any well-minded Christian so abused by misinformation: this author hath thus: Turpitudinem sororis, &c: "Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's sister, or thy mother's sister; et codem modo, and in the same manner is forbidden the marriage betwixt the brother, and the daughter of the aunt, for it is the same degree:" so Lyra: nothing can be more peremptory against this case, in favour of which he is alleged.

This would be the issue of all the rest, if it were worth the while to examine them, in that, which yielded, nothing advanceth the cause of the producer. They are all as professed enemies to this match, as myself: only they deny an express mention of this cause; which was never either thought needful, or intended to be pleaded.

For the Protestant Divines, which are cited to give testimony to the non-prohibition of this marriage, I must cry shame upon those false hands, which have so palpably abused both your friend and the author's. Let me give but a taste of some, Melancthon, Zanchius, Bucanus, who are said to allow the match, by admitting only the degrees mentioned to be prohibited. No place is instanced: versatur in generalibus. You know the word, but let your eyes be judges of their opinion. Melancthon, mentioning the marriage of Abraham and Sarah, in the second degree, Hoc gradu, saith he, in lineá inæquali, &c. "In this degree, in an unequal line, marriages are forbidden by God's Law, because God doth universally ordain a greater reverence to be yielded to a superior degree, than to an equal." It is the very case in hand, which Melancthon thus sentenceth. For Zanchius, he, citing the text of Lev. xviii. 13: Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother's sister; adds, Ergo neque materteram, &c. "Therefore no man," saith he, "may marry his aunt; and that charge, which he gives concerning the aunt, would God have to be understood also of the uncle, which is the father's brother, or the mother's brother; while he adds a reason of the prohibition, for she is the near kinswoman of thy father or mother." Thus Zanchius, in his book De Operibus Dei. lib. iv. de Sponsalibus, who absolutely condemns this marriage, as incestuous and indispensable. Bucanus, moving the case of Abraham's marriage with Sarah, and Amram's with Jochebed, &c. leaves it in doubt, whether these men were, as the times stood, particularly dispensed with by God; or, whether they sinned in thus marrying, even before the Law, against the law of nature, by which he holds these matches utterly prohibited.

With what forehead then could any scholar obtrude these false allegations upon an honest client, whether to draw his foot into a snare, or to keep it there, under pretence of favouring what they professedly oppose?

As for the modern Jews, to whom he stretches out his hand for succour, it matters little what they now teach or do. They are not

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