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and holy state of life. Therefore, as we have ordained that adoption be celebrated with sacred prayers, we now command, that matrimony be ratified by the testimony of a sacred benediction ; and we wish it to be understood, that nothing which shall be contracted without it shall be called matrimony, and that no persons otherwise united shall enjoy the rights of matrimonya. The negligence of antiquity may be understood of heathen antiquity, which is most naturally opposed to the better state introduced by the divine grace. The laws of the Saxon king, Edmund, were coeval with the imperial law of the East, and ordained that a priest should be present at the making of espousals, who, by giving to the parties the divine blessing, might assist their sacred confederation in all holiness b.
In the eleventh century, the patriarch of Constantinople refused to administer the sacred rites at the marriage of Constantine and Zoe, (A. D. 1036.) because it was the third marriage of the empress; and they were performed by an ordinary priest'. In the latter part of the century, Alexius Comnenus ordained, that those espousals only should have the force and effect of matrimony, which were ratified by the sacred benediction ; for it is absurd to suppose that there is no value in the consecration of marriage, and the accompanying prayers, and that God is not present with the persons who are united. That only is true marriage, and has the power of true marriage, which is completed with the sacred bene
Gerhard, s. 400. Ux. Ebr. 1. ii. c. 29. b Comber, Off. of Matr, Introd. isgoteneo la gooperxn. Zonaras apud Gerhard.
diction, and the presence of God with the persons who are united, and in confirmation of their union. Other espousals have only the effect of espousals. It was also the will of Justinian, that marriage should be contracted with an attestation before the guardian of the Church. The law of the West in this century again was conformable with the law of the East: and in the council of Winchester (A. D. 1076.) it was declared to be no less than prostituting a daughter, to give her in marriage without the blessing of the priesto.
In the twelfth century Peter Lombard introduced the doctrine of the seven Sacraments, in which marriage was included ; and in the council of Lateran, under Alexander III. (A.D. 1179.) the general practice of the age is recognized in the prohibition to exact any fee for the sacred benediction'. It was at this period also that the learned Balsamon, (A. D. 1180.) left his record of the custom of the Eastern Church, that, after the example of the first marriage, the representatives of God come forth unto the persons who are to be joined together, and ratify their sacred covenant by the offering up of holy prayers 5.
The general admission, that the celebration of
* Nov. 74. c. 4. apud Gerhard. This imperial rule confirms the observation which has been made on the practice of the fourth and fifth centuries, that the benediction of espousals was equivalent to the ratification of marriage. In the constitutions of Alexius, patriarch of Constantinople, (A.D. 1030.) • suraya γυναικα, οι ευλογουντες ερεις, και τους δευτερους γαμους ευλογων ιερους, are common expressions for the celebration of marriage. See Ux. Ebr. l. ii. c. 32.
e Comber, Off. of Matr. Introd. 'Gerhard, s. 461. 3 Comber, Off. of Matr.
marriage in the Church was ordained by Innocent III. in the fourth council of Lateran, (A.D. 1215.) supersedes the necessity of any further prosecution of the history of the religious ratification of marriage.
In the view which has been taken of the practice of the Church for the first twelve centuries, it would be vain to pretend, that all the several testimonies are equally clear and distinct; but taken together, and explained in dependence upon each other, they form a strong and conclusive argument. They leave no period for the introduction of religious rites, no period in which the religious ratification of marriage was unknown. . The Jewish rites were retained by the Jews; and the heathen rites, purified from what was properly heathen, or celebrated for a civil purpose, in compliance with the existing law", were adopted by the converts from heathenism, eventually obtained the sanction of Constantine, and in the use of the ring and the bridecake, have not yet been superseded'. The writers of the first ages were too usefully occupied to dwell upon circumstances, which were familiar to their contemporaries, but of which it is difficult, in the present day, to form a just conception. There was then a distinction between the espousals and the marriage, which no more prevails; and the benediction of the espousals became in process of time, equivalent to the ratification of marriage, to the offices of which, in the primitive liturgies, it gave the name and titlek. The opinions of many of the early fathers were too
Ux. Ebr. 1. ii. c. 24, 25, 28.
h Tertull. De Idol. s. 16. *See Appendix, No. III.
friendly to monastic life to allow them to expatiate upon the ratification of marriage, the solemnities of which were often precluded by the disputed lawfulness of second marriages'. For a certain period the empire was heathen, and the validity of marriage depended on the imperial law, not on religious rites or ecclesiastical canons. Of the marriage of the heathen the Church could take no cognizance ; the marriages of the believing with the unbelieving it could not sanction and it could not dissolve: and in many parts the Church itself was so imperfectly settled, that the ratification of marriage, as in the remote colonies of the present day, was obviously, and from the necessity of the case, impracticable. Notwithstanding these difficulties, there is a body of traditional evidence, which, taken together, leaves no doubt that marriage was usually, if not universally, celebrated with religious rites; which proves the general practice, if it fails of establishing the absolute necessity, of the sacerdotal benediction, to which the captious and negative objections of Selden are principally directed". When the empire became Christian, the law of marriage, as a pontifical privilege, was committed to the Church; and in the ignorance
See the Canon of the Council of Neocæsarea, which was to this effect, in Bingham's Antiq. b. xxii. c. 4. s. 2.
m The common practice of this learned man is to recite an authority, to which he annexes a comment: Nec tamen inde omnino evincitur, ipsi contrahendi actui, necessario interfuisse ministrum. Cf. de Jure Nat. et Gent. I. v. c. 7. where he admits upon the authority of Tertullian, which, in the Ux. Ebr. he labours to elude, vetustum etiam in Christianismo morem de solennibus conjugiorum quorumcunque sacrisque benedictionibus.
and barbarism which succeeded, the rites which wanted the authority of civil law gradually fell into disuse, until the more zealous emperors undertook to reform the abuses which had crept into the discipline of the Church, and especially in the contract of marriage without sacerdotal benediction. It was Charlemagne who enacted in the West, that marriage should not be celebrated without sacerdotal benediction, accompanied with prayers and oblations; and Leo the Wise revived the ancient practice in the East, which has never been superseded. Selden and Gothofred are agreed, that from this period the necessity of the sacerdotal benediction was established by law. The point on which they differ is, that Selden affirms that this was the primary and original establishment; Gothofred maintains that it was the revival of the ancient practice". The evidence which has been alleged, proves that there was nothing new in the constitution of Leo: it agrees with the rules of the bishops of France and Germany, of the pope, and of the king of France, in the ninth century: it agrees with the papal and imperial law of the sixth century, and the usual practice of the imperial court: it agrees with the very numerous testimonies of the fourth century; and with the doctrines of Tertullian in the third, of Athenagoras in the second, and of Ignatius in the first and apostolic age.
If there is any value in the authorities which have been recited, the religious ratification of marriage has the most ancient and the most continuous evidence of tradition in its favour, and is authenticated by the
- Bingham's Antiq. b. xxii. c. 4. s. 3.