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with the civil government. This was their defign; and Christ's behaviour throughout the whole affair proceeded froin a knowledge of this design, and a determination to defeat it. He gives them at first a cold and sullen reception, well suited to the insidious intention with which they came : “ He stooped down, and with his “ finger wrote on the ground, as though he “ heard them not.” “ When they continued “ asking him," when they teazed him to speak, he dismissed them with a rebuke, which the impertinent malice of their errand, as well as the fecret character of inany of them deserved : “He “ that is without sin (that is, this fin) among “ you, let him first cast a stone at her," This had its effect. Stung with the reproof, and difappointed of their aim, they stole away one by one, and left Jesus and the woman alone. And then follows the conversation, which is the part of the narrative most material to our present subject. « Jesus faith unto her, woman, where “ are those thine accusers ? hath no man con“ demned thee? She said, no man, Lord. And “ Jefus said unto her, neither do I condemn “ thee; go and sin no more.” Now, when Christ asked the woman, “ hath no man con“ demned thee,” he certainly spoke, and was un
derstood by the woman to speak, of a legal and judicial condemnation; otherwise, her answer, “ no man, Lord,” was not true. In every other sense of condemnation, as blame, censure, reproof, private judgment, and the like, many had condemned her; all those indeed who brought her to Jesus. If then a judicial sentence was what Christ meant by condemning in the question, the common use of language requires us to suppose that he meant the same in his reply, “ neither do I condemn thee,” i. l. I pretend to no judicial character or authority over thee; it is no office or business of mine to pronounce or execute the sentence of the law.
When Christ adds, “ go and sin no more," he in effect tells her, that she had finned already; but as to the degree or quality of the sin, or Christ's opinion concerning it, nothing is declared, or can be inferred, either way.
Adultery, which was punished with death during the usurpation, is now regarded by the law of England only as a civil injury; for which the imperfect fatisfaction that money can afford, may be recovered by the husband.
In order to preserve chastity in families, and I between persons of different sexes brought up and living together in a state of unreserved intimacy, it is necessary by every method poffible to inculcate an abhorrence of incestuous conjunâions ; which abhorrence can only be upheld by the absolute reprobation of all commerce of the sexes between near relations. Upon this principle, the marriage as well as other cohabitation of brothers and sisters, of lineal kindred, and of all who usually live in the fame family, may be said to be forbidden by the law of nature.
Restri&tions which extend to remoter degrees of kindred than what this reason makes it necessary to prohibit from intermarriage, are founded in the authority of the positive law which ordains them, and can only be justified by
their tendency to diffuse wealth, to connect families, or promote fome political advantage.
The Levitical law, which is received in this country, and from which the rule of the Roman law differs very little, prohibits * marriage between relations within three degrees of kindred; computing the generations not from but through the common ancestor, and accounting affinity the same as consanguinity. The issue, however, of such marriages are not bastardized, unless the parents be divorced during their lifetime.
The Egyptians are faid to have allowed of the marriage of brothers and sisters. Amongst the Athenians a very singular regulation prevailed; brothers and sisters of the half blood, if related by the father's side, might marry; if by the mother's side, they were prohibited from marrying. The same custom also probably obtained in Chaldæa so early as the age
* The Roman law continued the prohibition to the descendants of brothers and sisters without limits. In the Le
vitical and English law, there is nothing to hinder a man from · marrying his great niece.