They come as being equally the husband's sisters, and the drooping wife is not distressed at the thought that one of them is to take her place in his affections, and be her successor.
But very frequently the wife's death is preceded by illness, during which, at present she looks to her sisters for relief in the cares of housekeeping and the management of her children.
Once depart from it, we know not whither our route may take us. The manner in which these law 3 are introduced and the reasons given for them, show that the forbidden acts are gross sins, hateful in the sight of God. The laws themselves style these sins indiscriminately " wickedness," — " defilement," — " abomination." This alone is sufficient to make them hateful to all who fear God. No one is to ally himself with any that is near of kin to him, verse 6, and then follow the degrees specified.
Especially women feel truly that they owe to Christianity the equal position which they now hold towards men, and they would not wish the authority of the Bible tampered with. It is a question with some persons, whether it is lawful for a widower to marry the sister of his deceased wife. These words are repeated emphatically by our Blessed Lord (Matt. 2) who added "so then they are no more twain hut one flesh " (Mark x. 23,) " and we are members of His body," and after His example " so ought men to love their wives as (being) their own bodies." He that loveth his wife loveth himself, for no man ever yet hated his own flesh, &c., see (1 Cor. 2.) Husband and wife being one, the wife's kindred are the husband's kindred, and stand in exactly the same relation- ship to him as to her. Nothing can be more solemn than the preface, I am the Lord your God, after the doings of the land of Egypt . The case of Abraham and that of Amram and Jochebed are probably the reason why so many kinds of sisters and aunts are named, but it is evident that all forbidden degrees are not expressly named in this list : a man is not expressly forbidden to marry his grand- mother, his daughter, or his niece, therefore the omission of an express prohibition against marrying his wife's sister goes for nothing.
It takes, no doubt, a high view of marriage, but are not such views the very palladium of the sanctity of the home, and the safeguard of all that is best in society ! The man may not marry any of his wife's kindred nearer in blood than he may of his own; nor the woman of her husband's kindred nearer in Mood than of her own.'' That this simple intelligible principle is a Scriptural one, and therefore binding upon all Christians, is evident from the eighteenth chapter of Leviticus, 6th verse, where the reason given for prohibiting marriage with an uncle's wife is because " she is thine aunt." This proves that consanguinity and affinity, that is relationship by blood, and relationship by marriage, are reckoned as the same in the sight of God. * This is the translation of one of the best of modern versions, the French by Professor Segond. Now the relationship between a man and his wife's sister is exactly the same as that between a woman and her husband's brother.
They forget that the widower can have this aid and solace immediately under the protection of the existing law ; and that if such marriages were lawful, a widower could no more have a sister-in-law to dwell with him and keep his house than he could any other woman of equal social position ; and that in fact the possibility of such a marriage would probably render both the widower and the sister-in-law unwilling to enter upon relations, which, confessedly might terminate in the sister taking the deceased wife's place., A man would thus be debarred from having this most natural aid and solace, in the hour of his first distress, and when he saw his children in need of a mother's care, if he had no sister of his own, and wished for his wife's sister as guardian for them, he must face the dis- agreeable question whether he was prepared finally to marry her.
People imagine that the best guardian for a widower's children would be found in the sister of his deceased wife, and they think it hard that the widower may not marry her.
But, with many, these considerations would weigh but little against their own selfish interests, or against that indolent good nature of the public, which would let everybody do as they like. •8^ Here there are just as many relationships by affinity as by blood — the most distant being the aunt. All the ceremonial 8 observances, all the rules relating to inheritances, (types and signs whereby a stupid and stiff-necked people were trained to look forward to eternal realities) and among these rules the injunction to the brother, or next kinsman of a childless husband, to marry his widow, and to heiresses to marry within their father's family, have fulfilled their purpose. 6), such as divorce, but no part of the moral law was ever relaxed, or made less stringent. shall ye not do, neither shall ye walk in their ordinances. Ye shall not commit any of '* these abominations." " I am the Lord your God, ye shall be " holy for I the Lord your God am holy, (xix. 7.)" It is by an error in the heading of the chapter that these prohibited connections are styled "unlawful marriages." They are not marriages at all. Finally, the relaxation of the law would destroy those happy relations which now exist between families united by marriage, and which add so much to the purity and enjoyment of domestic life. Then follow these prohibitions — which conclude with the awful warning, " Defile not ye yourselves with any *' of these things, for in all these the nations are defiled which I " cast out before you, and the land is defiled, therefore do I visit " the iniquity thereof upon it. The sympathy of the public, as far as it exists, rests upon a very narrow basis. The repeated attempts made in every session of Parliament to pass a Bill which shall enable a widower to marry the sister of his deceased wife, and the very considerable sympathy which exists in the public mind in favour of those who are working for a relaxation of the existing laws, make it very important to state clearly and briefly the grounds on which the prohibition ought still to be maintained.
M^s X ■- hi \ MAY A MAN MARRY HIS DECEASED WIFE'S SISTER? COLIN MACKENZIE, AUTHOR OP " SIX YEARS IN INDIA , " &C., &C., &C. They feel that they have in the Bible the only sufficient code of morals. Now it may be laid down as an acknowledged principle, that no part of the Law given to Moses either has passed, or ever shall pass away (Matt. The whole of our Eedeemer's Mission was a proof of the unchangeableness of the Law; which, being an expression of the will of its Divine Author, is as immutable as Himself The Lord Jesus left the throne of His Glory to magnify the Law and to make it honourable by fulfilling every title of its demands ; He suffered and died to atone for its violated majesty ; and the new covenant in Christ Jesus is comprised in these two promises, that "sin should be forgiven and forgotten," and " that the Law should be written in our hearts and minds " (Heb. Some few things were permitted to the Jews, " because of the hardness of their hearts," which were expressly forbidden by our blessed Lord (Matt. Therefore these prohibitions are binding on Christians. The Vulgate translates it ut revelat turpitudinem ejus, and Selden defines it : id est incestus.
It is necessary therefore to shew that this prohibition rests upon higher authority, and those who might not care much for considerations respecting the general good and happiness would not willingly do anything contrary to Holy Scripture. Wife's Daughter, or Daughter-in-law, Stepdaughter, s. No sort of Mother (or grandmother), of aunt, of sister or of daughter is allowed. It either has been fulfilled, or, it is still binding. The earthly Israel and their earthly inheritance have given way to spiritual and heavenly realities. Look at the manner in which our Lord opens out the requirements of that law as a sufficient proof that He established instead of overthrowing it, as a rule of life (see Matt. Now a prohibition of marriage is clearly a moral, and not a ceremonial prohibition, and as such it is equally binding on the Christian as on the Jew. The expression in verse 6, " to uncover," &c., is shown by Gesenius never to be applied to marriage, but always to denote something abominable and vile.