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choice of Bishops and Deacons from amongst: those who had but one wife? What occasion for this caution of the apostle's, if none had more than one F That the election was to be made from amongst the Christian believers, there can be no doubt, that is to fay, of such as had been admitted to baptism and the Lord'ssupper, and were enrolled as members of the Christian church. To suppose that none of these had more than one wise, is to suppose the aposile giving a needless rule in the election of Bishops and Deacons. To suppose that any who had more than one wife, should be admitted to baptism and the Lord's supper, if Christ had forbidden polygamy as adultery, is to suppose a greater absurdity still, and that the great apostle of the Gentiles was less faithful to his trust, than those Jesuits who refused to admit the King of 'Tonquin into the Christian church, unless he would put away all his wives but one: for which these pfeudo-apoftles were very justly driven out of the country.
The learned Selden has proved, in his Uxor Hcebraica, that polygamy was allowed, not only amongst the Hebrews, but amongst most other nations throughout the world; doubtless amongst the inhabitants of that vast tract of Asia, through. Vol. I. O out out which the gospel was preached by the great apostle of the Gentiles, where so many Christian churches were planted, as well as in the neighbouring states of Greece: yet in none of Paul's epistles, nor in the seven awful epistles which St. John was commanded to write to the seven churches in Asia, is polygamy found amongst the crimes for which they were reproved. Every other species of commerce between the sexes, is distinctly and often mentioned, this not once, except on the woman's side, as Rom. vii. 3 -, but had it been sinful and against the law on the man sfide, it is inconceivable that it should not have been mentioned on both sides equally.
When St. Paul fays that a Bifoop or Deacon is to be the husband of one wise, it certainly carries with it a tacit allowance of polygamy, as to the lawfulness of it, with regard to all other men; not that it -wasfinful in one more than in another; but this was a prudential caution in that distressed and infant state of the church, that those who were to have the management of it, should have as little avocation and distraction as the nature of things would admit of. Paul does not fay that a Bijhop or Deacon should not be married, as the church of Rome fays, but
that that he should be the husband ofone wife; for however those who had more could find time to manage their own affairs, they could not be supposed to have leisure enough to attend the church, and its embarrassed and various concerns, as they ought. Upon this principle he seems to give the preference to those who had no wife, i Cor. vii .32, 33. I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: but he that is married, careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. This certainly relates to all Christians, but especially to ministers. The heretics of old took it so strongly in the former sense, that they held marriage unlawful to Chrijlians—the Papists take it so strongly in the latter, that it is one of the authorities on which they forbid their clergy * to marry at all.
■ * The celibacy of the clergy was among the errors of very early date, for Paphnutius, a venerable confiffor and prelate, who assisted at the Nicene council, which was held ann. 325, where there was a dispute, whether "ecclesiastics should not separate "from their wives, which they had married while *' laymen" said—Satis esse ut qui in clerum fuiflent adscripti, juxta veteran ecclejta traditionem, jam non amplius uxores ducerent.—" It was sufficient that
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There are some who interpret the above passages (i Tim. iii. 2. and Tit. i. 6.) to mean, that a Bifljop or Deacon lhould, if a widower, have had but one wife, or have been but once married; and this upon the ground of what is said, 1 Tim. v. 9. concerning the women who were to be chosen to the office of Deaconess—Let not a woman be taken into the number under Jixty years, having been
*' they who were inrolled among the clergy, accord"ing to the antient tradition of the church, should "no more marry." Clerical celibacy, and the condemnation of polygamy, stand on one and the same footing, and that a very lame one; that is to fay, on the antient tradition of the church; so did the religion of the Scribes and Pharisees, and so do the fuperjlitions of the church of Rome to this day.
Paphnutius's speech on the occasion is to be found in Jortin, Rem. vol. ii. p. 249. Though what Paphnutius fays may rather apply against the clergy marrying a second time, yet those to whom he spake must be supposed to have holden it unlawful for the clergy to marry at all, else how could they be for their separating from the wives they took when laymen?
However, even the partial prohibition of wives to the clergy did not ripen into a decree, 'till about fifty years after, when Siricius, bistiop of Rome, ordained, that if a clerk married a widow, or a second wife, he mould be divested of his office. For many hundred years this was not observed, 'till Gregory VII. Called Hildebrand, by cruel decrees of excommunication, deprived ministers of their lawful wives, and compelled the clergy to the YOW of continency. Hijh es Popery, vol. i. 21.
the wife of one man. There are also those, who, on the authority of these passages, hold it unlawful for a minijier * to marry
* Whether any carry this point so far as the anonymous answerer to Luther, Tr. de digamia Episcoporum, I can't say; but he declares—'' Mortaliter "peccant qui bigamos (sacerdotes soil) ecclesiæ "stipendio fustentant."—" They sin mortally who "support clergymen that have been twice married, "with the allowance or stipend of the church."—-— Again—" Peccant qui scientes ex bigami ore ver"bum Dei pollui audiunt."—" They sin, who "knowingly hear the word of God polluted, by "the mouth of a minister who has been twice mar
M ried." Again—" Bigamus censendus est, non
"selum is qui duas duxit virgines, fed & viduam "aut aliter corruptam."—" He is to be reckoned a "bigamists not only who has married two virgins, ** but also he that hath married a widow., or a wo~ *' man otherwise corrupted.'"
His conclusion breathes the true spirit of ignorance, superstition, and blind zeal.—" In summa "—quicunque proprias voluptates, & luxuriæ ex"actionem, apojloli verbis & patrum honestis præ*' ponit decretis, non tamen facerdotis aut ecclesi** astico stipendio cedere dignum putat, is non solum "tolerandus non est, fed ad corvos abigendus, quo "non ovis morbosa totum corrumpat ovile, & tam >' laudabilem, bonam, & longævam consuetudinem "pestilenti suo defædet exemplo." — In fine, "Whosoever prefers his own pleasures, and the *' requirements of luxury, to the words of the *' apojile, and to the decent decrees of the fathers, •* and yet doth not think proper to depart from the *' ministry, or his ecclesiastical stipend, is not only "not to be tolerated, but to be driven away to the *' crows (we should say, thrown to the dogs) that ** one scabby (heep might not mar the whole flock, "and defile, by his own pestilent example, so <* Jaudable, good, and antient a custom."
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