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ritual celebration of Baptism or the Supper of the Lord, which no man has had the temerity to censure or deny. The opinion that the ratification of marriage among Christians with religious rites is derived wholly from the prevailing customs of the heathen, should not be implicitly received, or allowed to justify any inference prejudicial to the rites of marriage, without mature consideration of the circumstances of the case, that there was nothing absolutely unlawful in the rites themselves, and that it may have been necessary to comply with them to secure the civil advantages of the marriage, and prudent to depart from them only by degrees, and with the most cautious circumspection. It is thus that Tertullian affirms at once the sacrificial forms of the heathen marriage, and approves the compliance of Christians with those forms: In respect of offices of private and public solemnities .. as espousals, as marriages . . I should think that no danger is contracted from the breath of idolatry which occurs in them. It is necessary to take into view the occasions for which the office is required. I think that the occasions are pure in themselves, because neither is the ring nor the union of marriage descended from the honour of any idol. . . And God does not prohibit the celebration of marriage any more than the imposition of a name. But sacrifices are accommodated to marriage. If the nature of the office and the discharge of my labour depends not on the sacrifice, but on the occasion upon which I am called, what then? Do as you please. I wish indeed that we had power not even to see the things which it is not lawful to do. But since the evil spirit of idolatry

encompasses the age, we are at liberty to be present on occasions in which we render service, not to the idol, but to mane. This may account for the mixed character of the ceremonies which prevailed in the primitive Church, of which some were chiefly of heathen origin, and others had the better authority of Scriptural allusion. The principal ceremonies consisted in the dress and ornament of the bride and bridegroom; the lamps which they carried in the public procession to the temple; the crowns which they wore in token of their triumph over sinful passion, and which were put on by a priest; the ring ; the veil; the procession to conduct the bride ; and the form of dower and the nuptial banquet'. The principal point which it is necessary to ascertain is the sacerdotal benediction; the use of sacred rites, and the presence at the marriage of a minister of the Church, of which the traditionary evidence is copious and unbroken from the apostolic age, originating in words of all but apostolic language.

It is the rule of the apostolic father, Ignatius, that it becomes men and women that are marrying, to form the union with consent of the bishops, that the marriage may be according to the Lord, and not in compliance with passion. Selden objects that the genuineness of the epistle is doubtful, and that it proves only that the marriage should be contracted in compliance with the divine law, of which the bishop was the guardian and interpreter. The great purpose of the appearance before the bishop, and of

Meta grwpens

e De Idolatr. s. 16. f Gerhard, s. 461. TOU ERITROFOV. Ad Polycarp.

obtaining his consent, was to prove that both the parties were Christian: but it may be asked, whether the bishop would have neglected so interesting an occasion of praise and benediction in connexion with the divine ordinance and rule of marriage ? Baronius is bold in affirming that marriage was not then contracted without the presence of a priest, and observes the correspondence of the apostle's language, of marrying only in the Lord, which he interprets of a celebration of marriage in conformity with the laws and rites of the Church delivered by the apostle". Is it impossible that this rule of Polycarp was the remote origin of the publication of banns ?

In the Protevangelion of James, the early forgery of an Hellenist, deeply acquainted with the rites of the Jews, and bearing indirect testimony of the contemporary practice of the Christian Church, Joseph is charged with a clandestine marriage, and not bowing his head under the mighty hand, that his seed might be blessed, as Fabricius interprets his words, by a solemn and sacerdotal benediction'.

Soter, bishop of Rome, (A. D. 174.) ordained that no wife should be esteemed lawful whom the priest had not blessed according to the institution".

Athenagoras (A.D. 178.) affirmed of the Christians, that each esteemed her to be his wife, whom he married according to the laws established among them! A Ux. Ebr. 1. ii. c. 28.

Cod. Apocr. Nov. Test. P. I. Platina in Vit. Soter. apud Gerhard. ip bpw Todeluesvous doyous. Legat. pro Christ. s. 33. Other copies read ip' ipewr, i. e. the Romans; and hence is constructed an argument for the validity of marriages contracted before con


p. 101.


Clemens of Alexandria, (A. D. 192.) in reflecting upon the women's use of false hair, asks, On whom does the presbyter lay his hand ? Whom does he bless ? Not the woman thus adorned, but the borrowed hair, and, through that hair, the head of another". This passage may or may not relate to the nuptial benediction: the reflexion is upon married women ; but the benediction may have been received at other times than their marriage.

That the ancient Church in general, and the African Church in particular, were always wont to celebrate marriage by the solemn benediction of the clergy, is the assertion of the learned Gothofred" : and Seldeno admits that the use of the sacred priesthood in the celebration of Christian marriages, is undoubtedly recognized in the following passage of Tertullian, the first of the Latin fathers: (A.D. 209.) Whence shall I find words to express the felicity of that marriage, which the Church conciliates, and the oblation confirms, and the benediction seals, and the angels publish, and the Father ratifies P. Selden endeavours to explain away the obvious meaning of this passage; and argues, that the Church does not mean the clergy, distinct from the laity ; that it does not necessarily prove the necessary, or even the customary, use of any minister, or any sacred rites at the marriage, and that, although the oblation may mean the Eucharist, it is not necessary to suppose more than that the Eucharist preceded or followed the marriage. Gothofred on the contrary maintains,

m Pædagog. I. iii. c. 11. Ux. Ebr. I. ii. c. 28.

• Bingham's Antiq. b. xxii, c. 4. p Ad Ux. 1. ii. s. 9.



that the Church promoted the marriage, inasmuch as men commonly asked wives of the clergy, consulted them upon their marriage, declared or avowed their marriages before them, and ratified them by their benediction. He proceeds to shew, that in this passage there is a distinct allusion to the five rites of heathen marriage, which may thus be compared with those in use in the Christian Church, according to the representation of Tertullian :

| The Proxenetæ conciliating the marriage ;
The Church or clergy conciliating the marriage.
The offering of the kiss and gifts of espousal ;
The oblation of prayers with the Eucharist.

The signing of the instruments ;

{The obligation of the sacerdotal benediction. The testimony and presence of witnesses and

friends ; The publication, faith,and testimony, ofthe angels.

The consent of parents to the marriage; 5.

The ratification of the heavenly Father'. The argument of Gothofred is confirmed by other passages in the writings of Tertullian: he not only calls marriage the blessed connexion, or the connexion of blessing', but he says, that with the Christians, secret or clandestine marriages, which are not publicly avowed before the Church, are liable to be condemned as fornication and adultery': and again, in his treatise of Monogamy, he asks, Who art thou,


9 Bingham's Ant. b. xxii. c. 4.

De Pud. s. 19.

s Ibid.

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