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I.* most absurdly dwells with emphasis on the expression," having children;" in the foregoing passage he says, habentem fiiios, non generantem, thereby insinuating that St. Paul enjoins a separation on the part of those individuals who were engaged in the exereise of Episcopal functions ; than which, it is certain, nothing cau be more distant from truth. To do so, would plainly have been in direct opposition to his precept in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, (vii. 5.) And if you admit that St. Paul was inspired by the Spirit of Truth, or even that he was a rational instructor, you surely cannot venture to impute to him such inconsistency as this. If the discontinuance in question were accompanied by separation, the injunction of it would have been repugnant to another of his precepts in the same Epistle (verse 11.); or rather, as he himself observes, to the command of the Lord, viz. “ Let not the husband put away his wife," &c. And if it were not accompanied by separation, it probably would, in nine instances in ten, have been either temporary, or productive of sin on the part of the husband, or that of the wife.
It was, indisputably, very far from that enlightened Apostle's intention to require married bishops and deacons to observe that unnatural conduct with regard to their wives, which Pope Gregory thought fit to prescribe to his clergy five hundred years after. He well knew, and 1 dare say you are not prepared to deny, that it would be equally difficult and censurable for a “presbyter to love his wife as a sister, and to avoid her as an enemy.”+
St Jerome, whose extravagant, but, it would seem, not uniformly practical admiration of virginity, and excessive anxiety to overpower Jovinianus, certainly hurried him somewhat beyond the bounds of scrupulous orthodoxy, appears, in concurrence with St. Epiphanius, to have gone the length of misinterpreting the passage under consideration, by saying that St. Paul required a bishop or deacon to be one who had been, not who was, the husband of one wife : a misinterpretation which the context sufficiently exposes. If St. Paul be considered as having spoken with reference to the past, in this part of the passage, he must necessarily be considered as having spoken in the same manner throughout; and then the passage
filled up by the words understood, would run thus : “ A bishop must be one who had been blameless, who had been the husband of one wife, who had been sober,” &c. which, I dare say, you will agree with me in thinking was not exactly what St. Panl requires.
The annotators of the Edinburgh edition of the Rhemish New Testament tell us, that the meaning of St. Paul's expression, " the husband of one wife,” is, “ that no one should be admitted to the
* It is acknowleged by Labbe, that this Epistle was formed out of the Epistles of Popes Siricius, Celestine, and Leo.
+ Presbyter uxorem suam quasi sororem diligat, et quasi hostem fugiat. Dial. ii. lib. iv. c. 2. # Cont. Cathar.
f Adver. Jov.
holy orders of bishop, priest, or deacon, who had been married more than once. But in this instance, as in very many others their interpretation may most safely be pronounced erroneous, though it certainly is not entirely destitute of the authority of some of the earlier ecclesiastical councils. Conimon sense assures us, that a second, a third, or a fourth marriage must necessarily be just as free from guilt as the first. The sacred Scriptures, you need not be told, sanction, in this instance, the suggestion of ordinary human reason; and most certainly the sentiments of several of the fathers and doctors of the church, not indeed a majority of them, are coincident therewith. Even St. Clemens Alexandrinus, who appears among the early advocates for monogamy, admits the expediency of engaging in wedlock a second time, in case of a continuance of animal desire.
“ that they who do so, transgress neither the precepts of the Testament nor the Law; but do not reach evangelical perfection.
“Upon the whole," says he, “all the Epistles of the Apostle which teach moderation and continence, although they contain innumerable precepts respecting matrimony, the procreation of children, and the management of families, no where prohibit, or abrogate chaste and lawful wedlock.”+ In fact, it was chiefly, I might say exclusively, by heretics, such as the Catophryges, Cathari, and Montanists, that second marriages were, in the earliest ages, condemned. Many of the fathers, however, for reasons which I shall assign hereafter, soon, as I have already intimated, followed their example ; or rather that of the authoritative Montanist, Tertullian.
St. Chrysostom affirms, that, by one wife, St. Paul meant that the Bishops should not follow the example of the Jews, in having more than one wife at the same time. Theophylact agrees in this interpretation; and is followed, in later times, by the learned ecclesiastical historian Fleury. Theodoret says, " They seem to me to be in the right, who hold that the Apostle here teaches him to be worthy of episcopal ordination, who lives chastely with only one wife : for he does not herein reject second marriages, which he has, in many cases, even commanded to be contracted.Ş" In another of his works, the same venerable and pious instructor,
* Ουκ αμαρτανει μεν κατα Διαθηκης ο γαρ κεκωλυται προς του νομο και πληροι δε της κατα το εναγγελιον πολιτειας, την κατ' επιτασιν Tn.cornta Strom, 1. 3. p. 198.
+ Και καθολα πασαι αι επισολαι το αποκολο σωφροσυνην και εγκρατειαν διδασκεσαι περι τε γαμων, περι τε παιδοποιΐας, περι τε οικο διοκησεως, μυριας oσας εντολας περιεχεσαι, εδαμε γαμον ηθετησαν. Id. 16. # Hom. 10. in l. ad Tim. c. 1.
Το δε μιας γυναικος ανδρα εν μοι δοκεσιν ειρηκεναι οιτινες εφασαν τοινυν τον θειον απoσoλον ειρηκεναι τον μια μονη γυναικι συνοικοντα σωφρονως της επισκοπης αξιον ειναι χειροτονιας και γαρ τον δευτερον φησιν εξεβαλε γαμον ο γε πολλακις τοτο γενεσθαι κελευσας. In.'loc. c. 14.
who flourished in the early part of the fifth century, speaking of the ordination of many clerical digamists, says,
we therefore now follow custom, and the opinions or examples of illustrious men, celebrated for life and doctrine."*
St. Ambrose says,
“the Apostle commands a bishop to be the husband of one wife : not that he excludes an unmarried man; for that is not the sense of the precept: but that by conjugal chastity he may preserve the grace given him in baptism.”+ Even the visionary Origen,t seems to assent to that interpretation of the precept of St. Paul which I find myself sufficiently prepared to insist on. Isidore Clario, in his scholium thereon, says,
“ St. Paul does not direct that a bishop should have one wife, but prohibits him from being the husband of more than one." St. Jerome himself reluetantly admits, that the practice of the age in which he lived, justified the construction usually put on St. Paul's expression. In his epistle to Oceanus he says, that the number of those who were twice married, and yet were ordained, was exceedingly great. “All the world,” says he, is full of these ordinations. I speak not of presbyters, or those of inferior degrees ; I come to bishops, whom if I should proceed to name, I should muster together so great a number as would exceed the multitude of those who were present at the synod of Ariminum."|| And, finally, your eminent commentator, Calmet, freely admits that some of the Fathers were of opinion that the Apostle excluded from episcopacy those who were engaged in what he calls simultaneous polygamy; or, in other words, had more than one wife at the same time. I
Theodoret and others record, that the Greeks and Jews were in the habit of having two, three, and more wives at once : practice which it evidently became St. Paul to discountenance by the example of the Christian clergy. Had there existed no ground for apprehending that the Christians might be induced to follow the reprehensible example of their unconverted countrymen, it can
* Εθει τοινυν εκολεθησαμεν και ανδρασιν επισημοις, και επι γνωσει Kal Biw tolv pullintois. Ep. 110. ad Domnum Episcop. Antioch. p. 990.
+ Qui unius vxoris virum præcipiat esse, non quo exortem excludat conjugii, nam hoc supra legem precepti est, sed ut conjugali castimonia servet ablutionis suæ gratiam. Ant. Med.
In Mas. Ed. Huet. pp. 262--3.
Non præcipit, ut unam uxorem habeat, sed prohibet, ne præterquam unius tantum uxoris sit vir.
I Miror autem te unum protraxisse iu medium, cum omnis mundus his ordi- , nationibus plenus est ; non dico de presbyteris ; non dico de inferiori gradu: ad episcopos venio, quos si sigilatim voluero numerare, tantus numerus congregabitur, ut Ariminensis Synodi multitudo superetur, p. 674. Ed. Basil. 1658.
I “ Quelques Peres,” (Theod. Jerom. Chrys.) says he, “ ont cru que l'Apoutre exclusit de l'Episcopat, ceux qui étoient dans le cas de polygamie simultanée.” Yet he translates the words, pias yovalkos avopa, thus, “ Qui n'ait epousée qu'une femme ;' adding, however, in a note," a la lettre, epoux d'une seule femme.”
ειωθεισαν και ελληνες, και ιυδαιοι, και δυο, και τρισι, και πλειοσι χυναιξι νομα κατα ταυτον συνοικειν. . Ad ep. 1. ad Tim. p. 474. Joseph. Antiq. 1. 1. c. 2. Just. Martyr. in dial. cum Tryph.
hardly be supposed that St. Paul would have expressly required the bishops and deacons destined to act as their instructors and exemplars, to be the husbands of one wife. But surrounded, and far outnumbered, as the Christians were, by Jews and Gentiles, there was abundant reason for apprehending that the example of the latter, in respect of marriage, would, for the most part, be habitually imitated by the former. And that apprehension must necessarily have been much strengthened by the fact, that constant exertions had been found requisite on the part of the Apostles, to prevent their disciples from being infected with the various emergent heresies, or heretical combinations of Judaism and heathenism, which prevailed among their more numerous countrymen.
That the reprobated custom of having two or more wives at the same time, was, in fact, not utterly exploded among Christians, even so late as the seventh century, may be inferred, if other authorities were wanting, from the following passage in one of the works of that eminent ecclesiastical writer, St. Isidore of Seville : “ It is not lawful for a Christian to have, I do not say many, but even two wives at the same time. *
But though the annotators of the Rhemish New Testament do not expressly adopt the unwarrantable interpretation incidentally given to the passage under consideration by St. Jerome and St. Epiphanius ; though they do not, in totidem verbis, affirm that St. Paul alluded to the past, not to the actual condition of persons fit to be placed by Timothy in the offices of bishops and deacons ; though they do not distinctly say that St. Paul considered as unfit for these offices those who were actually married; yet from the tenor of the language of their pretended illustration, it may fairly be deduced, that they were solicitous to inculcate a persuasion of this nature. In truth, if the divines of your church were to admit that St. Paul alluded, in the passage in question, to the actual condition of the persons fit to be placed in the offices just mentioned ; that he considered as eligible those who were actually the husbands of one wife, then they must also unavoidably admit, as not one word respecting separation, occurs in the epistles to Timothy and Titus, that the instructions in these epistles may be employed as full scriptural authority, with irresistible effect, in opposition to the condemnable discipline of your church. And
that St. Paul did really allude to the actual condition of the persons to be placed in the offices of bishop and deacon, that he really considered men actually married and cohabiting with their wives, as fit to be placed, I might say in preference to bachelors, in these offices, you will not, perhaps, be in haste to deny, after reading the following observation of that able and orthodox expounder of the sacred Scriptures, St. Chrysostom: “He (St. Paul) stops the mouths of heretics, who disparage matrimony, shewing not only that it is not censurable, but so becoming, that a person
* Christiano non dicam plurimas (scil. uxores) sed nec duas simul habere licitam est. De Distant. Nov. et Vet, Test.
engaged therein may ascend the sacred episcopal throne:"*-and likewise the following supplementary admission of the much consulted Ecumenius : “A man may perform episcopal functions though still retaining the use of the nuptial bed.”+
As for the observation of St. Paul, viz. that “ he that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord,” &c. St. Clemens Alexandrinus is at hand to shew you how little support can be derived from it. “What, forsooth,” says he, “is it not competent for those who through God (κατα θεον) please a wife, to return thanks to God? Is a man who marries prevented from being, conjointly with his wife, solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord ?”
I shall conclude this letter with directing your attention to the fifty-first of the canons, called apostolical, which were alternately rejected as spurious, and received as authentic, by your highest ecclesiastical authorities ; (a fact rather unfavorable to the doctrine of infallibility); but which, to the number of eighty-five, have been regarded by your church as genuine primitive ecclesiastical documents, ever since the virtual admission of their authenticity, signified by the confirmatory decision of the Quinisext council, in the year 691. This canon runs thus : “ If any bishop, priest, or deacon, or indeed any one of the sacred order, abstain from marriage, from flesh and wine, not for his own exercise, but under a persuasion of there being some impurity or sin connected with the use of these (forgetting that all things were very good, and that God made male and female), and blasphemously abuses the creation, either let him reform, or let him be deposed and cast out of the church.” Η I remain, your's, &c.
Επισομιζει τας αιρητικeς τον γαμον διαβαλλοντας, δεικνυς οτι το πραγμα 8κ εσιν εναγες αλλ' 8τω τιμον εις μετ' αυτο δυνασθαι και επι τον αγιον αναβαινειν θρονον. Ηom. 2. in Εp. ad Τit p. 387.
+ Ως δυναμενο και μετα γαμο επισκοπης προνοειν τινος.
+ Τι δε ; 8κ εξεσι και τη γυναικι, κατα θεον αρεσκυντας, ευχαρισειν τω θεω; εχι δε εφειται και το γεγαμηκοτι, συν και τη συζυγια, μεριμναν τα τ8 κυριθ. Stronm. 1. 3. p. 199.
§ Vide Pithæus. Corp. Jur, Can.
| Ει τις επισκοπος, η ωρεσβυτερος, η διακονος, η ολως τα καταλογο τ8 ιερατικο γαμε και κρεων και οινε δι ασκησιν αλλα βδελυριον απεχεται, επιλαν θανομενος οτι παντα καλα λιαν, και οτι αρρεν και θηλυ εποιησεν ο θεος τον ανθρωπον, αλλα βλασφημων διαβαλλει την δημιεργιαν, η οι διορθωσθω, η καθαιρεισθω, και της εκκλησιας αποβαλλεσθω. The word ασκησιν is paraphrased in the Romish Latin translation thus : Quo mens ad cultum pietatis reddatur exercitatigr..