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Holy Ghost and to the Apostles to lay upon” the Gentile converts, whom they were exempting generally from the positive part of the Mosaic Law, the burthen of abstaining (among other things) from “fornication.” There is high authority for believing, that “fornication” in this place means marriage within the Levitical degrees[1]. Till that is disproved, or some decree produced of equal authority, annulling this Canon of the Apostles, had we not better keep our law as it is?

I have before noticed, that St. Paul called it by this same title, fornication, only of a singularly heinous kind, when a man had married his step-mother[2]. This confirms the explanation given of the same word in Acts xv; and it is also proof, if any were wanted, how sacred in God's sight are the near degrees of affinity. Transgressions against them are sometimes made light of in comparison, because people do not seem to themselves to feel the same natural horror of them as when there is blood-relationship. As if on purpose to caution us on this head, the only two cases specified in the New Testament are sins against

  1. See Hooker, E. P. iv. xi. 7; Hammond on Acts xv.
  2. 1 Cor. v. 1.