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term which would apply it to a release from the marital authority, as far as that would have urged the painful necessity of following the unbeliever to his false religion. This would be douleia, deep servitude ; to be compelled to the abandonment of the ordinances of the Church, and the Christian worship of the true God. But the obligation of the marriage vow does not extend to this. A brother or sister is not thus under bondage.
3. The same liberty would extend to the divorced as to the deserted wife ; (i. e. divorced for causes less than adultery ;) the former being, in many cases, equally innocent with the latter: and yet the second marriage of such divorced wife is expressly forbidden by Christ; and thus a door would be opened to the most direct perversion of Scripture, and the most pernicious consequences in married life.
This is perhaps the true meaning of the Apostle's opinion ; it must be confessed it was a nice case, and involved some intricacies; yet he concludes it, as he does all his arguments and discussions, with some fervent exhortations to christian unity and peace, as if the impression he wishes to leave on the minds of his hearers were, “ if it be possible, as much as lieth in you,” avoid these separations and
divisions ; for, “ what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband, or how knowest thou, Oman, whether thou shalt save thy wife?" and, “ God hath called us to peace.” “Bear with christian fortitude and patience the burdens of your present painful lot, trusting that at length a divine influence may rest upon your kindness, your example, and your prayers; and he whose province it is to “ make men to be of one mind in an house,” may at last reconcile your differing sentiments, and make you one in spirit, as you already are one in lot.'
In advancing now to the opinions of the Christian Fathers, it may be remarked as not a little strange, that clear as the doctrine of their great Leader was, so many differing opinions should have prevailed respecting it.
Before, however, entering on this part of the Essay, it may be well, in order of time, to notice the statement of that remarkable and celebrated work, the Pastor of Hermas ; and this, because to it may be traced, as to its most probable source, all those opinions concerning the indissolubility of marriage, afterwards with so much eagerness adopted by the Latin, and with equal determination
rejected by the Greek Church; and which, with the exception of a few temporary changes, lay floating in the Western Church, till, what has been justly termed, “ the improvident orthodoxy of the Council of Trent,” fixed it for ever on the acceptance of the Catholic believer. * But this doctrine did not remain exclusively in the creed of Rome; it is notorious, that after the Reformation, this country adopted the whole of its marriage rites from the canon law, and constructed therefrom its marriage laws, both as to their matter and form.
It is in consequence of these circumstances, that the work of Hermas is particularly noticed. Hermas was an ecclesiastical writer of the first century, and, by some of the early writers, is stated to be the same person whom St. Paul notices at the close of the Epistle to the Romans.f His work was written in Greek, shortly after that Epistle, or at least, during Domitian's persecution, which hap
* Vide Ayliffe's Parergon, p. 48. Ayliffe, however, states his own opinion to be otherwise. Speaking of the second punishment of Adultery, a thoral separation, or a dissolution of matrimony; he says, “ For the bond of matrimony may be dissolved by Adultery.”
+ Rom. xvi. 14.
pened in the year ninety-five, and before the canon of Scripture was closed. Many have supposed that it formed a part of the canonical writings; others only regard it as of apocryphal value and authority, which is perhaps the most correct opinion : but it was generally received and accredited, and soon acquired repute among the Latin Ecclesiastics.*
It was termed Pastor, because it represented an angel, addressing the writer, under the form of a shepherd.
The work is divided into mandates, visions, and similitudes; the former of which form by far the best part of the work. In the fourth of those mandates, we find the following dialogue between Hermas and the angel shepherd :
“ Dixi illi; Domine, si quis habuerit uxorem fidelem in Domino, et hanc invenerit in Adul
* The Greek text is lost, but a very ancient version of it is still extant. The best edition of it is that of 1698, where, together with the other Apostolical Fathers, it is illustrated with the notes and corrections of Cotelerius and Le Clerc. Archbishop Wake translated them into English in 1710. Irenæus, Clemens, Tertullian, Origen, and Athanasius, all mention Hermas in terms of respect; and the Latin translator remarks ; “ Priscis ecclesiæ seculis, si Eusebio et Hieronymo fides, liber hic valde utilis habitus est, et propter eos qui primis ad fidem institutionibus imbuuntur necessarius judicatus.”
terio, nunquid peccat vir, si convivat cum illâ ? Et dixit mihi : Quamdiu nescit peccatum ejus, sine crimine est vir vivens cum illâ. Si autem scierit vir uxorem suam deliquisse, et non egerit pænitentiam mulier, et permanet in fornicatione suâ, et convivit cum eâ vir, reus erit peccati ejus, et particeps mæchationis illius.* Et dixi illi ; Quid ergo, si permanserit in vitio suo mulier ? Et dixit : dimittat illam vir, et vir per se maneat. Quod si dimiserit mulierem suam et aliam duxerit, et ipse machatur. Et dixi illi: quid si mulier dimissa pænitentiam egerit, et voluerit ad virum suum reverti, nonne recipietur à viro suo ? Et dixit mihi: Imo, si non receperit eam vir suus, peccat, et magnum peccatum sibi admittit, sed debet recipere peccatricem quæ pænitentiam egit ; sed non sæpe. Servis enim Dei una pænitentia est. Propter pænitentiam ergo non debet, dimissâ conjuge suâ, vir aliam ducere. Hic actus similis est et in viro et in muliere.”+
If there is such a thing as excess of virtue, it dwelt in the heart of the writer of this pas
* It is worthy of notice, that the alternate use of the terms, fornicatio and mæchatio, here applied to the sin of the married woman, tend to corroborate the interpretation given in page 89 and 92, of the term progresa.
+ Versio Latina. Oxon. 1685, p. 49, 50.