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Conclusion of the third Section
The exception made by it in favour of the Greek
ESS A Y,
Of all the wounds to which the sensibility and affections of man are exposed in his character and connexions as a social being, perhaps that which is inflicted by Adultery is the most poignant; and of all the remedial and penal consequences which the civil and ecclesiastical polities of nations have devised for those injuries which the passions of men inflict upon each other, none perhaps have been so diversified in their nature, or so frequently altered by circumstances, as those which have followed this crime. The penal results have passed through all the intermediate gradations between the forfeiture of life, and of a pecuniary mulct, while the chief and most appropriate of the remedial consequences, has been that of Divorce ; but even this has been found varying with the changes of time; and existing or withdrawn, as all the varieties of corporal infliction have been, according to the shades of criminality which those who
legislated on the subject have attached to this offence.
These sentiments will find a more full expression in the subsequent parts of this Essay: the terms of the Thesis have drawn certain limits around the subject, which shall not be overstepped, but which may be incidentally pointed out in the course of the following remarks, to justify the absence of any more extended observations on certain parts of the subject of considerable importance, but from which the Thesis requires to be detached.
The principal object of the Essay will be the investigation of those doctrines, which the Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testaments, maintain, in relation to the crime of Adultery, and the law of Divorce, and in connexion with these, the views which appear to have been taken of each, by the ancient laws of England, and of the other principal nations of the world. It is not distinctly apprehended, whether the terms, “ other countries,” in the Thesis, were meant to include those great empires which survive now only in the records and recollections of departed glory, or whether they were intended to confine the observation to countries coeval only with ancient England ; nor whether the exclusive mention of the term laws, would prohibit all reference to the