heathen will fully vindicate this position.
The civil code of a nation is admitted to be the best index of the habits and morals of the people.
This remark, however, cannot always be taken without modification.
We shall greatly underrate the civilization of the Israelites, who first settled the land of Canaan
, if we judge them alone by their civil code.
Smiting and cursing father and mother, brutal assaults upon pregnant married women, digging pits to destroy neighbors' cattle, (Ex.
XXI.,) seduction, adultery, dealing with familiar spirits and witchcraft, and various wickedness which delicacy forbids to repeat, (see Lev. XVIII.,) unnatural marriages, such as with mothers, sisters, children, and grandchildren, (Lev.
XVIII.,) are all practices which are mentioned in a manner that shows they were common in that day. If we judge the morals of the Israelites by the statutes here referred to, we shall certainly conclude that they had not the slightest claim to the character of a civilized people; but it is equally certain that such judgment would be wide of the truth.
For although in many respects the national morals and standard of public opinion and feeling were in a feeble condition, as seen in their obvious proclivity to idolatry, still those laws are far from being characteristic of the morals of the nation.
The Divine record does not leave us to