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taken place. If it shall be asserted, that it is not without, but in the presence of the word, that regeneration takes place in adults, of what use, we may say, is the presence of the word, if not by its instrumentality? Deny its instrumentality in regeneration, and we may expect conversion work to be effected, when the proper
comes, as readily in the ball-room as under the preaching of the gospel; because God is no otherwise present in the one place more than in the other, unless by his ordinances, as the means of his own appointment, for conv
nverting and regenerating sinners, and building up his people, and giving them a communion with himself. It is in fact an Hopkinsian sentiment, as regeneration, according to the Hopkinsian, is effected, not through any instrumental agency by which God may be pleased to act, but, through the physical agency of God's operation on the faculty of the will, without any means of grace. (See Dr. Ely's Contrast, and his Theological Review, extracts from which are inserted in the number of the Religious Monitor for July, 1825.) With this difference perhaps, that the Hopkinsian admits a change of the will and dispositions to be given, without the principle, or resolves it into a mere moral exercise; whereas the other understands that change as a change in regard of the prinsiple, without the disposition, which is supposed to come after... By both, however, it is without the instrumentality of means.
We shall close this paper with mentioning two objections which may be brought forward against all we have said on the subject, and giving a reply to them; the rest of the objections, of any seeming consequence, having been already attended to in our review of the Dr's. own arguments,
The first is that some infants are regenerated before they actually believe; and is not this a proof that the Spirit does not always act in regeneration by the instrumentality of the word, and acts in this work, as respects the implantation of the principle of grace, without the word? To which we reply, that as the Lord's manner of dealing with those infants, which are the subjects of saving grace, is among the secret things which belong to himself; it cannot be a rule by which we are to judge in the case of capable subjects of actual faith, more especially when we find it declared so plainly in scripture, that it is by the instrumentality of the word he both regenerates and sanctifies the latter. Regenerated infants are subjects also of justification, though they are not capable of the actual exercise of faith in Christ, through the word exhibiting Christ to us as the Lord our righteousness; and we do not see how their being the subjects of regeneration, without the instrumentality of the word, could prove
that regeneration in adults is accomplished without it; more than their being justified, would prove that adults may be, and are justified persons in the sight of God, all such as are actually justified, without a receiving of Christ as the Lord their righteous
The second objection is——that regeneration is an instantaneous work, or rather act of God; but to suppose it to be accomplished by the word, as the means or instrument, would make it to be the result of a process of reasoning in the mind of the regenerated person, and of a process of exercise upon the word, which could not comport with its being an instantaneous act. Supposing the word to be the instrument, it can only be so by a discovery both of the person himself, and of Christ the proper object of faith therein, in order that it may be operative in producing this change, if its instrumentality is at all to be admitted in the first work of regeneration. But it may be replied, that that discoveTy becomes a saving discovery, only when the person sees the excellence and suitableness of Christ, the glorious object of faith, his own welcome, with the hearts approbation of the object, and appropriation of him, which is faith, or a believing sight, because it is a sight of Christ in the way of applying the revelation which is made of him in the gospel, to his own particular case; while all that is short of this is no more than what the natural man, by a natural and common work of the Spirit may attain. And, it is so much instantaneous, as that there is no intermediate condition between this saving sight of Christ, and what may be the mere fruit of a common operation of the Spirit. But, the moment he obtains it, the change passes upon him, and the word, in the hand of the Spirit, is the instrument.
OBSERVATIONS ON A PAMPHLET ENTITLED, THE
DOCTRINE OF INCEST STATED, &c.
To the Editor of the Religious Monitor, SIR,
I take the liberty to send you a few observations on a pamphlet entitled, The doctrine of Incest stated, with an examination of religion and sound morality; and from this consideration alone I have been induced to send you the few following remarks. The question, whether a man may marry his deceased wife's sister, has been repeatedly under discussion in the supreme judicatories of the Presbyterian and Reformed Dutch Churches, but hitherto neither of these venerable bodies have come to any decision on the subject, although, I believe the practice referred to is contrary to the Confessions of both. The question must therefore be considered as decided already in the negative by both of them, at least till some alteration be made in their Confessions of Faith. This accordingly is the view taken of this subject by the Committee of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, in the case of M'Crimmon. It appears that Mr. M'Crimmon appealed from the decision of the Presbytery of Fayetteville, confirming his suspension from the communion of the church, for having married his deceased wife's sister. The committee to which the case was referred reported, that in their opinion no relief could be given to Mr. M'Crimmon without an alteration of the Confession of Faith, xxiv. 4, in which it is said, “the man may not marry any of his wife's kindred nearer in blood, than he his own; nor the woman of her husband's kindred nearer in blood than of her own.” At the same time, as there is a diversity of opinion and practice on this subject, the committee submitted, the following resolution, viz:
That the Presbyteries be, and they hereby are directed to take this matter into serious consideration, and send up in writing to the next General Assembly, an answer to the question, Whether the above quoted clause of our Confession shall be erased?
This report was adopted, and the resolution agreed to. It may therefore be expected that the question, Whether the Presbyterian Church will prohibit or allow such marriages in future? will be finally decided at the next meeting of the General Assembly. The publication of this pamphlet may therefore be considered as exceedingly well-timed, and if I mistake not it will go far to convince those who have hitherto been undecided, that there may be much danger in erasing this clause from the Confession of Faith.
The pamphlet is in the form of a letter to a clergyman. It is written with great ability, and it is pleasing to see so much force put forth, and so much interest given to a subject which many
at the reason of that code and at the reason of every law of incest, that answers the design of its institution." He further gives it as his opinion, that all the difficulty and obscurity complained of in this inquiry, proceed from taking hold of it by the
wrong end," and then he proposes that the question should be tried by the rule of general expediency, as apprehended by the common sense of mankind. After treating at some length of the obligations of the Levitical institutions, and stating and exploding several opinions respecting the reason of the law of incest, he states what he thinks is the true reason, in the following words: “The law of incest is the great moral safeguard appointed by providence for protecting the laws of marriage and chastity; without which the best organized society that the earth has ever seen upon its surface, would become in a few years a hideous mass of corruption and rottenness." “ It is an expedient for guarding against a species of criminality which would destroy society in its fountains, and a criminality, at the same time, which, supposing the expedient not to be employed, would be perpetrated every day and hour in almost every house and hovel in our land."
The author next proceeds to show the necessity of this safeguard around the purity of domestic society, and to describe the security enjoyed under its influence. This may be regarded as a very important part of the work, and in the execution of it much energy of mind and acuteness of feeling is displayed. The security enjoyed under the influence of the law of incest, is spoken of in the following terms: “ Hence it is, the father of a family can lie down comfortably on his bed; he can sleep tranquilly all night; and meet his children in the morning without a shade of suspicion crossing his brow. He may leave his home for weeks, and months, and return again,-confident that all is right in his humble dwelling. He knows that there is a spirit from the seventh heavens residing beneath his roof, watching over each of his beloved charge, breathing around a pure and holy atmosphere, in which a vicious thought cannot live a moment, and where all the virtues love to dwell. His notions concerning this heavenly agent are perhaps exceedingly indefinite and obscure: Like the spirit in Job, he cannot discern the form thereof, nor has he seen its face. But it is the law of incest.” p. 18.
In regard to the application of the law, and the particular cases to which it applies, the following rule is proposed:
« The law being intended to guard against the dangers threatening domestic purity from constant, unrestricted intercourse; wherever such intercourse may, in consequence of the habits and manners of a people, be presumed to exist, there, no matter what be or be not the degree of consanguinity and affinity, the law should take effect; marriage is prohibited.” The letter is concluded, by showing that this principle is adopted in the codes of different nations on this subject; and that, according to it, the marriage of a deceased wife's sister, is among us prohibited as incestuous; and finally, the arguments usually advanced by the friends of such marriages are considered, and successfully refuted.
In remarking on this production, I cannot help admiring the ability of the author, and the strength of mind displayed by him in discussing the subject on which he has undertaken to write.Like other human productions, however, it is not perfect; and, if I mistake not, there are some sentiments in it of a hurtful tendency. I will now therefore take the liberty to point out some defects, which I have observed with pain in the work of so able an author. And, first, there is a concession made in this letter to the advocates of that kind of connection, against which he so ably argues, which was totally uncalled for, and which certainly adds nothing to the force of his confessedly strong arguments. For my own part, I readily admit, that I perceive great force and beauty in the method of reasoning adopted by the writer of this letter; and yet I am not prepared to give up with the direct argument, or rather law, derived from the word of God.In the 18th chapter of Leviticus, about which so much has been said, it is expressly enjoined—“None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him.” And the construction of the Westminster divines, that where marriage is forbidden on the one side, the prohibition on the other is implied, has never been proved to be unfair. This, I think, should have been at least attempted by our author before he ventured on so sweeping a declaration as the following: “I can no more find it (viz. the incentuous marriage of a wife's sister) prohibited in the words of that code, (the Levitical law,) than I can find the battle of Waterloo in the Apocalypse of St. John.” This he ought to have done for the benefit of those who thought they saw things in the word of God which he could not find, and out of respect to several hitherto esteemed judicious writers, who have not hesitateil to say they could find it prohibited “in the words of that code.” But