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28, 32.) Nay, so far did this Divine Lawgiver carry his condescension in honour of the marriage state, that he was present at one of those solemn feasts, which were usually held upon such occasions, attended by the holy virgin and his twelve disciples: And not content with giving this public testimony of his respect for so honourable an institution, he accompanied it with the first miraculous proof of his almighty power.
St. Paul, it is true, passed the whole of his life in a state of celibacy ; but he never enjoined that state to any person: And if he occasionally recommended it to some, to whom it was indifferent whether they married or not, it was chiefly on account of the distress and persecution of those times. (1 Cor. vii. 26.) To engage the most pious persons ordinarily to live in a state of celibacy, is not less contrary to nature and reason, than to the spirit of the gospel. This is to oppose the propagation of the best Christians and the most faithful subjects: It is to suppose, that those persons, who join example to precept in the cause of virtue, and who, for that very reason, are peculiarly qualified for the education of chil. dren, are the only persons in the world, who ought to have none.
The absurdity of this opinion constrained the apostle Paul publicly to combat it, by declaring to the Hebrews, that “Marriage and the bed undefiled are honourable among all men.' (Heb. xiii. 4.) He further affirned, that a Bishop must be the husband of one wife, one that ruleth well his own house, having bis children in subjection with all gravity.' (1 Tim. iii. 2, 4.) And if he wished the Corinthians to continue in the state which he himself had chosen, on account of the peculiar advantages accruing from it, at that season, to the persecuted members of the Christian church; “nevertheless to avoid fornication,' he counselled, that
every man should have his own wife,' and every woman her own husband.” (1 Cor. vii. 2.) “I will,' saith he to Timothy, that the younger women marry,
bear children, and guide the house.' (1 Tim. v. 14.) And lastly, he cautioned the same Christian Bishop against the error of those, who, in the last times, should depart from the faith, giving heed to the doctrines of devils,'
and “forbidding to marry ;' earnestly exhorting his young successor to guard the brethren against a doctrine, so fatal to the church in particular, and so destructive of society in general. (1 Tim. iv. 1, 6.)
But it may be urged. If St. Paul really entertained such high ideas of marriage, and represented it as the most perfect emblem of that strict union, which subsists betwixt Christ and his church ; why did he not recommend it by his example ? I answer-Although St. Paul was never married, yet he expressly asserted his right to that privilege, as well as St. Peter and some others of the apostles ; (1 Cor. ix. 5 ;) intimating, at the same time, that prudence and charity inclined him to forego his right in that respect. When a man is perpetually called to travel from place to place, prudence requires, that he should not encumber himself with those domestic cares, which must occasion many unavoidable delays in the prosecution of his business : Or, if he derives his maintenance from the generosity of the poor, charity should constrain him burden them as little as possible. This zealous apostle could not prevail upon himself to expose a woman and children to those innumerable dangers, which he was constantly obliged to encounter. The first peril, from which he made his escape, was that which compelled him to descend from the wall of Da. mascus in a basket: Now if a family had shared with him the same danger, what an addition would they have made to his affliction and care! Is it not evident, that in such circumstances, every man, who is not obliged to marry, from reasons either physical or moral, is called to imitate the example of this disinterested apostle, from the same motives of prudence and charity ? This indefatigable preacher, always on a mission, judged it advisable to continue in a single state to the end of his days: But, had he been fixed in a particular church; had he there felt, how much it concerns a minister, neither to tempt others, nor be tempted himself'; and had he known, how much assistance a modest, provident, and pious woman is capable of affording a pastor, by inspecting the women of his flock-he would then probably have advised every resident pastor to enter into the marriage state, provided they should fix upon regene. rate persons, capable of edifying the church, in imita. tion of Phebe, a deaconess of Cenchrea, and Persis, who was so dear to St. Paul on account of her labours in the Lord ; (Rom. xvi. 1, 12 ;) or copying the example of those four virgins, the daughters of Philip, who edified, exhorted, and consoled the faithful by their pious dis. courses. (Acts xxi. 9.)*
The Christian doctrine on this point may be reduced to the following heads. (1.) In times of great trouble and grievous persecutions, the followers of Christ should abstain from marriage, unless obliged thereto by parti. cular and powerful reasons. (Matt. xxiv. 19.) (2.) The faithful, who mean to embrace the nuptial state, should be careful, on no account, to connect themselves with any persons except such as are remarkable for their y seriousness and piety. (2 Cor. vi. 14.) (3.) If a man ; is married before he is converted; or if, being converted,
* The attention of ministers in choosing such companions, as may not binder their success in the ministry, is of so great importance, that in some countries the conduc of a pastor's wife, as well as that of the pastor himself, is supposed either to edify or mislead the flock. Nay the minister himself is fre. quently condemned for the faults of his wife : Thus in the Prosestant churches of Hungary, they degrade a pastor, whose wife indulges herself in cards, dancing, or any other publie amusement, which bespeaks the gaiety of a lover of the world rather than the gravity of a Christian matron. This severity springs from the supposition, that the woman, having promised obedience to her husband, can do nothing, but what he either direcis or approves. Hence, they conclude, that example having a greater influence than precept, the wife of a minister, if she is inclined to the world, will preach worldly.compliance with more success by her conduct, than her husband can preach the renunciation of the world by the most solema dis. courses. And the incredulity of the stumbled flock will always be the consequence of that undappy inconsistency, which is observable between the serious instructions of a well-disposed minister, and the trifling conduct of a woman, with whom he is so intimately connected. Nor are there wantiug apostolic ordinances, sufficient to support the exercise of this severe dis. cipline :-Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the Bishop or Deacon be one, that ruleti well his own house, having his children, and every part of his family, in subjection with all gravity: For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God? (1 Tim. iii. 4,5, 11.)
he is deceived in choosing a woman, whom he supposes to be pious, but discovers to be worldly; instead of separating himself from his wife, in either of these cases, he is rather called to give all diligence in bringing her acquainted with the truth, as it is in Jesus. (1 Cor. vii. 16.) (4.) Missionaries ought not to marry, unless there be an absolute necessity. (5.) A bishop or resi. dent pastor, is usually called to the marriage state. (1 Tim. iii. 12; Tit. i. 6.) Lastly, a minister of the gospel, who is able to live in a state of celibacy · for the kingdom of heaven's sake,' that he may have no other care, except that of preaching the gospel, and attending upon the members of Christ's mystical body; such a one is undoubtedly called to continue in a single state. For having obtained the gift of continence, he is dispensed from carnally giving children to the church, because he begets her spiritual sons and daughters : And such a one, instead of being honoured as the head of a particular household, should be counted worthy of double honour, as a spiritual father in his Lord's family. (Matt xix. 12.)
The Ardour of his Love.
The passions are the springs, by which we are usually actuated. Reason alone is too weak to put us in motion, so often as duty requires ; but when love, that sacred passion of the faithful, comes in to its assistance, we are then sweetly constrained to act in conformity to the various relations we sustain in civil and religious life. Thus the God of nature has rooted in the hearts of mo. thers a fond affection, which keeps them anxiously atten. - God is my
of God implants in the bosom of a good pastor tha: ardent charity, which excites him to watch over his flock with the most affectionate and unwearied attention. The love of a father to his son, the attachment of a nurse to her foster-child, the tender affection of a mother to her infant, are so many emblems employed in the holy scriptures to set forth the sweetness and ardour of that Christian love, which animates the true minister to the performance of his several duties. “You know, says St. Paul, “ how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children We were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children : So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.' (1 Thess. ii. 7, 8, 11.) record, how greatly I long after you all, in the bowels of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. i. 8.) Receive us ; for ye are in our hearts to die and live with you.' (2 Cor. vii. 2, 3.) Worldly pastors can form no idea of that ardent charity which dictates such benevolent language, and accompanies it with actions, which demonstrate its sin. cerity. This is one of those mysterious things, which are perfectly incomprehensible to the natural man, and which frequently appear to him as the extremest folly. This fervent love improves us into new creatures, by the sweet influence it maintains over all our tempers. This holy passion deeply interests the faithful pastor in the concerns of his fellow Christians, and teaches him to rejoice in the benefits they receive, as though his own prosperity were inseparably connected with theirs. “I thank my God,' writes the great apostle to the benefactor of his brethren, “making mention of thee always in my prayers, hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints; that the communication of thy faith may become effectual, by the acknowledging of every good thing, which is in you in Christ Jesus. For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.' (Philem. v. 4—7.) The sorrow and