« PreviousContinue »
his is, who is brought under a persuasion that celibacy is more pure and boly, and, as such, more acceptable to God than marriage. Such a one, who, under this perfuafion, abstains from marriage, lives in perpetual * opposition to that command which was given with a blessing from God-increase and multiply, and replenish the earth, &c. This was at the original creation of male and female upon earth. Gen. i. 27, 28. And again, at the renewal of the earth after the deluge, this commandment stands, Gen. ix. I, 7. repeated twice. Now can an opposition to so positive, fo express, so reiterated an ordinance of Heaven, be reckoned a constituent part of rightcousness and true holiness ? What is this, but to fly in the face of the divine wisdom and goodness, and to esteem ourselves wiser and bolier than the LORD of all! So those who
* Dr. Alexander, Hift. Wom. vol. ii. p. 269. intro. duces what he there says on the subject of emasculation on a religious account, with this pertinent and sensible observation :
“ The two fexes were evidently intended for each “ other, and increase and multiply was the first great " command given them by the Author of Nature. But
suppose no such command had been given, how it first entered into the mind of man, that the propagation or continuation of the species was criminal in the eye of Heaven, is not easy to conceive. Ridiculous,
however, as this notion may appear, it is one of those “ which early insinuated itself amongst mankind, and “ plainly demonstrated, that reasoning beings are most
apt to deviate from nature; and not only to disobey “ her plaines dictates, but, on pretence of pleasing the " Author of Nature, to render themselves for ever incapable of obeying them.”
prefer a life of solitude to matrimonial connection, as holier and better, how much holier and better do they make themselves than Him who faid-It is NOT GOOD for man to be alone? It is remarkable that the reiterated command for the propagation of the species stands, Gen. ix 7. in direct connection, as it were, and immediately following after the positive law against murder : as privation of life is an offence against this, prevention of life is something very like it, and therefore fitly placed near it in the sacred code.
Some of the fathers were wild enough to say-hoc dictum, ratione multitudinis liberorum, pertinere ad tempora ante CHRISTUM, non ad nos qui alio vivimus ævo-mundum jam non defiderare ILLUD CRESCITE ET MULTIPLI
“ This command, by reason " of multiplying children, belonged to “ the times before Christ, not to us, who « live in another age-the world does not
now want that same-Be fruitful, and mul
tiply.” Such were the delusions of Jerom -Tertullian-Chrysostom — Cyprian-Oecumenius, &c. Bernard, in Cant. Serm. 59. thus glofses on the words—The voice of the turtle is heard, &c.; which he says is “the preach
ing of continence, respecting those who caf“ trate themselves for the kingdom of hea
At the beginning that voice was not “ heard, but rather increase and multiply; for “ barrenness was subject to a curse; poly
gamy was * allowed,” &c. His words are -* Vox turturis audita eft, quæ est predicatio o continentiæ, eos, qui se castrant propter
regnum cælorum, spectans; cum ab initio
vox ista non fit audita, fed magis—crescite “ & multiplicamini, sterilitas etiam maledic“ tioni fuit subjecta, polygamia concessa,” &c.; but all this is now at an end,“ quia hodie,
repleto mundo, non tam fit neceffaria quam olim"-" because now, the world being filled (with people) it is to not so ne* This fame St. Bernard, abbot of Clairval, from whom the Cistertian monks derived the name of Bernardins, was one of the most eminent among the Latin writers of the 12th century. He was a man of genius, taste, and judgment, in some respects, in others weak and superstitious. See Mosh. vol. i. 591. A pretty clear proof of the latter part of his character lies before us. His confining the command-Be fruitful and multiply to the days of the Old Testament, is certainly a master-stroke of folly and weakness-however, his acknowledgment of the allowance of polygamy as a concomitant of that command, is much more scriptural and confiftent, than the comments of some more modern expositors (or rather exposers) of the scriptures, who contend for the obligation and permanency of the command itself, but deny the permanency and obligation of those laws which the divine wisdom enacted for its regulation.
+ De liberis ferendis non ita folliciti erant Christiani, ut ob id folúm ducendæ uxoris necessitatem sibi imponerent; ideo quod finem seculorum de proximo inftare furpicarentur, Tertull. de Monogamia. Crefcite & redundate evacuavit extremitas temporum. See Pole Synop. in 1 Cor. vii. J.
“ The Christians were not so solicitous concern“ing the propagating children, as if, on that account “ alone, they were to lay a necessity on themselves to
marry, because they might suspect the end of the “ world was very near. Tertull. de Monogamia. The “ (supposed approaching) end of the times vacated the “ command of increase and multiply.” See Pole Syn. 1 Cor. vii. I.
« cessary as formerly.” If the reader has a mind to see how far folly and enthusiasm can carry people on these subjects, -let him read Tertullian's epistles to Euftachius to Gerontius and against Helvetius ; Tertullian on Chastity; Chryfoftom on Virginity; Cyprian on the discipline of Virgins; and Oecumenius on i Cor. vii.-then he will begin to find out how MARRIAGE ITSELF was vilified, and of course what gave rise to the condemnation of second marriages of all sorts, therefore of polygamy, in the Christian church, till the church of Rome had the impudence to amathematize the man who should say, that s it was not forbidden by the law of God,” (see Brent. Coun. Trent. p. 784) "just as they “ did those who should affirm, that for a
priest to marry was allowed by the law of $6 God.” Ibid.
The consequences of all this unnatural plan of celibacy are too many to enumerate, too * horrible to particularize. It fared with
* It is an observation of the excellent authors of the History of Popery, vol. i. p. 359. that “the first law
againit a certain unnatural vice in England was by Ane
selm Archbishop of Canterbury, in the days of William “Rufus; which said vice seems not to have been heard “ of here till priests were forbidden marriage. However, " they treated it very gently, leaving it less penal in a "priest, than to enjoy his lawful wife. ---Secular men,
guilty of this crime, were to be absolved only by the 5 bishop; but the monks and priests, it seems, might ciŚr villy absolve each other. Yet even this canon, such as
it is, was soon after recalled, and never published.” BERNARD, Cent. 12th, said, that fin was frequent among
numbers of the Christians, who did not like to retain the divine command in their practice, as it did with the heathens, who did not like to retain God in their knowledge-God gave them up to uncleanness, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves : who changed the truth of God into a lye, &c. For this cause God gave them up to vile affections, &c. See Rom. i. 24-28. When we endeavour to stop the course of a river by laying a dam across the stream, the effect must be, that it will either make its way, bearing down all before it, or it will make a passage over its banks, and overflow and destroy the country. Such is the effect of endeavouring to stop the natural course of those desires which the Creator hath implanted in us for the purpose of carrying His primary command into execution. They will bear down all before them, or be turned out of their course; and then follows what the history of the Popish celibacy abundantly acquaints us with. As this is a subject too indelicate to dwell upon, I will only refer the reader to those books which treat thereof; such as Fox's Martyro
the bishops in his time, and that this, with many other abominations, was the effect of prohibiting marriage. Burnet Hift. of Reform. vol. ii. p. 91, 3d edit.
* A thousand instances of which might be given-sed ab uno difce omnes-Pope Sixtus V. on the petition of Deter Ricu, cardinal and patriarch of Conftantinople, of Jeronymo his own brother, and the cardinal of St. Lúce, permitted “ unto them and every of them, sodomy, with
his use- FIAT UT PETITÚR-Let it be done as it " is defired.” History of Popery, vol. ii. 292.