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The awe and dread with which the untutored savage contemplates his mother-in-law are amongst the most familiar facts of anthropology.
The old notion that the savage is the freest of mankind is the reverse of the truth. He is a slave, not indeed to a visible master, but to the past, to the spirits of his dead forefathers, who haunt his steps from birth to death, and rule him with a rod of iron.
The notion that we can transfer our guilt and sufferings to some other being who will bear them for us is familiar to the savage mind. It arises from a very obvious confusion between the physical and the mental, between the material and the immaterial.
When all is said and done our resemblances to the savage are still far more numerous than our differences from him.
Some of the old laws of Israel are clearly savage taboos of a familiar type thinly disguised as commands of the Deity.
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Therefore we examine with considerable diligence the consensus of the true, learned, and purer antiquity, and we love and praise the testimonies of the fathers which agree with the Scripture.
January 1, 1854
May 7, 1941
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