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that demandest a second marriage of them to whom such a marriage is unlawful ? For the bishops, the presbyters, and the deacons, and the widows of the Church, whose society thou art rejecting, are all monogamists, and have been but once married : and shall they give husbands and wives, openly as they do morsels, to every one that asketh, and join you together in the virgin Church, the only spouse of the one Christ.
Selden objects, that if this passage is to be understood of the nuptial benediction, that benediction was the act of the widows as well as of the clergy ; but it is answered, that the widows only gave counsel in conciliating the marriage, the clergy added their benediction to ratify the marriage“. Selden recites the exposition of Gabriel Albaspinus, Bishop of Orleans, who, in his observation on the passage, maintains, that nothing was required besides advice on the propriety of the marriage, and the power of carrying it into effect. Selden nevertheless adınits, that in the beginning of Christianity among the Gentiles, Christian rites and ministers had their place, and succeeded those of the Gentiles: but he contends, that there is no evidence that such rites were then generally received; that the clergy had any office beyond the benediction, and the administration of the Eucharist ; that their presence was required for the prevention of clandestinity, and according to the common practice of attaching religious rites to civil acts”. This is, in fact, to concede the point in
"Bingham, b. xxii. c. 4.
i De Monog. s. 11. Ebr. l. ii. c. 28.
question, that there was, from the beginning of Christianity, a religious ratification of marriage; and more than this could not be expected in the second century, of the rites of which the evidence is brief and obscure, and when the validity and civil effect of marriage depended on the law of the empire, not on the law of the Church, and when the feeble discipline of persecuted Christianity could only betray itself in censures of transgression which it could not punish, and canons of discipline which it could not enforce.
There are numerous testimonies of the practice of the fourth century.
Sylvester (A.D. 320.) ordained, that every clergyman should be the husband of one wife, who had received sacerdotal benediction Y.
Lactantius (A. D. 303.) bears testimony to the ancient institution of ratifying covenants of marriage, by the sacrament of fire and water: alleging, as a reason of the practice, that the offspring of animals are by heat and moisture formed into bodies, and quickened into lifez.
Ambrose (A.D. 374.) records the practice of the Churches of Italy: When marriage ought to be sanctified by the nuptial veil and benediction, how can that be called a marriage where there is no harmony of faith a
. Gregory of Nazianzum, (A.D. 370.) in describing the marriage of Olympias, says, that a great number of bishops attended, and that he himself was present
2 De Orig. Err. I. ü.
y Damasus in ejus vita, apud Selden.
* Ep. 70. apud Bingham.
in heart and will, celebrating the festival, and joining the right hands of the young couple together, and both of them to the hand of God. The joining to the hand of God can only mean the benediction.
Augustin (A.D. 398.) thought that the priest should not be a procurator or solicitor of marriages ; but that when the parties themselves had agreed upon the marriage, the priest should at their request attend to confirm the contract and pronounce the benediction'. He makes mention also of the nuptial tables, which have been interpreted of offices of marriage.
Basil (A. D. 370.) calls marriage, the yoke or bond which men take upon themselves by sacerdotal benediction
Chrysostom (A.D. 398.) pronounces it necessary to call for the priest, and with prayers and benedictions to bind the unanimity of marriage ; and after the example of Abraham's steward, who used the mediation of God, to fly when a wife is sought unto God, who is not ashamed to be the maker of the marriage.
Siricius (A. D. 390.) considered that there was a kind of sacrilege in the violation of that benediction which the priest gives to the woman who is about to marry 5. Selden admits that this is a record, that the sacerdotal benediction of the espousals was then a common practice ; and is it probable, that the
Ep. 57. apud Bingham. - Possid. vit. Augustin. c. 27. Ibid. • Comber's Off. of Matr. • ο δια της ευλογιας ζυγος. . Hom. 7. in Hexaemer. apud Bingham.
Hom. 48. in Gen. apud Bingham. Opp. tom. viii. Ser. 15. apud Comber. I. ad Himer. apud Bingham.
espousals should be blessed, and that the more important business of the marriage should be passed over without benediction? Or may not the benediction of the espousals have been a ritual ratification of the marriage? This was the common practice of
It was the rule of the fourth council of Carthage, (A.D. 398.) When the bridegroom and the bride are to be blessed by the priest, let them be presented by the parents and the paranymphs".
In the fifth century the Decretals of Innocent I. (A.D. 410.) speak of the sacerdotal benediction of the espousals as a common practice'; and Synesius, his contemporary, in the account of his own marriage, says, that God, and the laws, and the sacred hand of Theophilus, gave to bim bis wife; and he therefore declares before all men, that he will not desert herk. In this century also appeared an anonymous refutation of the heresy of the Prædestinati, of which the author, in arguing upon concupiscence, remarks, Choose one of two things ; either the birth of man is good and concupiscence is good, or marriage is evil and concupiscence is evil. Amend, therefore, the rules of the Church; condemn the priests throughout the world, who bless the beginnings of marriage, consecrating the parties, and uniting them in the mysteries of God. Selden admits this to be a clear testimony of the nuptial benediction, and of the sacred rites attached to marriage in the use of Christians. He only con
Apud Gerhard. i Ux. Ebr. 1. ï. c. 28. Hist. Eccl. 1. xiv. c. 55. apud Gerhard.
tends, that the priest was not necessarily present at the contract of marriage: the present argument seeks no more, than to establish the continual prevalence of the religious ratification of marriage: and from this period Selden allows the frequent and distinct mention of a sacred ritual of marriage: legodoylas ons τελειας sive της γαμικης'.
'. In the beginning of the sixth century appeared the decree of Hormisdas, the pope : (A.D. 510.) Let none of the faithful, of whatever condition he may be, contract marriage clandestinely, but let him marry publicly in the Lord, receiving the benediction of the priest. There are writers of eminence, who understand the nuptial vow, which is mentioned in this age, in the writings of Justinian, of the sacerdotal benediction of marriagem; but Selden is so far from coinciding in their opinion, that he strenuously labours" to disprove the evidence contained in the Novel of Justinian, of the ratification of marriage with sacred rites. He admits the mention of the church as the place, and the clergy as the witnesses, of marriage, but he restricts the necessary testimony to any of the clergy, and to the marriage of men in the middle ranks of life. In the higher ranks the Novel requires the dowry, with all other things appropriate to honourable station. In the middle ranks it requires that the parties should come to the house of prayer, should communicate with the guardian of the most holy Church, should obtain the testimony of two or three of the most reverend
Ux. Ebr. 1, ii. c. 28. Ebr. 1. ii. c. 29.
Bingham, b. xxii. c. 4.