Verse 40. "But she is happier if she so abide" - If she continue in her widowhood because of the present distress; for this must always be taken in, that consistency in the apostle's reasoning may be preserved. If this were not understood, how could St. Paul tell the widow that it would be more happy for her to continue in her widowhood than to remarry? She who had tried both the state of celibacy and the state of marriage could certainly best tell which was most for her comfort; and he could not tell any thing but by an express revelation from heaven, relative to the future state of any widow: it is certain that he can never be understood as speaking in general, as there are multitudes of persons abundantly more happy in their married than in their single state; and there are many widows also much more happy in their second marriage than they have been in their first.
"After my judgment" - According to the view I have of the subject, which view I take by the light of the Divine Spirit, who shows me the tribulations which are coming on the Church. But, says he, 1 Cor. vii. x18: I spare you-I will not be more explicit concerning coming evils, as I wish to save you from all forebodings which bring torment.
"I think-I have the Spirit of God." - dokw de kagw pneuma qeou ecein might be translated, I am CERTAIN that I have the Spirit of God. This sense of dokein (which we translate to seem, to think, to appear, &c.) I have noticed in another part of this work. Ulpian, on Demosthen. Olynth. 1, says, to dokein ou pantwv epi amoibolou tattousin oi palaioi alla pollakiv kai epi tou alhqeuein? The word dokein is used by the ancients, not always to express what is DOUBTFUL, but often to express what is TRUE and CERTAIN. - See Bp. Pearce. The apostle cannot be understood as expressing any doubt of his being under the inspiration of the Divine Spirit, as this would have defeated his object in giving the above advices; for-if they were not dictated by the Spirit of God, can it be supposed that, in the face of apparent self-interest, and the prevalence of strong passions, they could have been expected to have become rules of conduct to this people? They must have understood him as asserting that he had the direction of the Spirit of God in giving those opinions, else they could not be expected to obey.
1. IN the preceding chapter we have met with subjects both of difficulty and importance. As to the difficulties, it is hoped that they have been so generally considered in the notes that few or none of them remain; and on the subjects of peculiar importance much time has been spent, in order to impress them on the mind of the reader. The delicacy of some of them would not admit of greater plainness; and in a few instances I have been obliged to wrap the meaning in a foreign language.
2. On the important subject of marriage I have said what I believe to be true, and scruple not to say that it is the most useful state in which-the human being can be placed; and consequently that in which most honour may be brought to God. I have listened with much attention for the better part of half a century to the arguments against marriage and in favour of celibacy; and I have had the opportunity of being acquainted with many who endeavoured to exemplify their own doctrine. But I have seen an end of all their perfection: neither the world nor the Church are under any obligations to them: they either married when they could do it to their mind and convenience; or, continuing in their celibacy, they lived a comparatively useless life; and died as they should, unregretted. The doctrine is not only dangerous but anti- scriptural: and I hope I have sufficiently vindicated Paul from being its patron or supporter.
3. While I contend for the superior excellence of the marriage state, I hope I shall not be understood to be the apologist of indiscriminate marriages-no, many of them are blamable in a very high degree. Instead of consulting common sense and propriety, childish affections, brutish passions, or the love of money are the motives on which many of them have been contracted. Such marriages are miserable; must be so, and should not be otherwise; and superficial people looking at these form an estimate of the state itself, and then indulge themselves in exclaiming against an ordinance of God, either perverted by themselves or the equally foolish persons who are the subjects of their animadversion. That genuine Christians can never be so useful in any state as that of marriage I am fully convinced; but to be happy, the marriage must be in the Lord. When believers match with unbelievers, generally pars sincera trahitur; the good becomes perverted; and Satan has his triumph when he has got an immortal soul out of the Church of Christ into his own synagogue. But who among young people will lay this to heart? And how few among young men and young women will not sell their saviour and his people for a husband or a wife! 4. The doctrine of second marriages has been long a subject of controversy in the Church. The Scriptures, properly understood, have not only nothing against them, but much for them. And in this chapter St. Paul, in the most pointed manner, admits of them. A widow may marry again, only let it be in the Lord; and a widower has certainly the same privilege.
5. The conversion which the Scripture requires, though it makes a most essential change in our souls in reference to God, and in our works in reference both to God and man, makes none in our civil state: even if a man is called, i.e. converted in a state of slavery, he does not gain his manumission in consequence of his conversion; he stands in the same relation both to the state and to his fellows that he stood in before; and is not to assume any civil rights or privileges in consequence of the conversion of his soul to God. The apostle decides the matter in this chapter, and orders that every man should abide in the calling wherein he is called.
6. From the 20th to the 23rd verse the apostle refers to the state of slavery among the Greeks; and from what he says we find that even among the slaves there were Christian converts, to whom, though he recommends submission and contentment, yet he intimates that if they could get their freedom they should prefer it; and he strongly charges those that were free not to become again the slaves of men, ver. 23; from which we learn that a man might dispose of his own liberty, which, in a Christian, would be a disgrace to his redemption by Christ. The word eleuqerov, which we translate freeman, means properly freed-man, one who had been a slave but had regained his liberty. It is the same as libertus among the Romans, one who was manumitted. The manumission was performed three several ways:
1. The consent of the master that the slave should have his name entered in the census; or public register of the citizens. 2. The slave was led before the praetor, and the magistrate laid his wand, called vindicta, on his head, and declared him free. 3. By testament or will, the master bequeathing to the slave his freedom.
The manner in which the second mode of manumission was performed is curious. The praetor having laid the rod vindicta upon the slave's head, pronounced these words, Dico eum liberum esse more Quiritum, "I pronounce him free according to the custom of the Romans." This done he gave the rod to the lictor, or serjeant, who struck the slave with it upon the head, and afterwards with the hand upon the face and back. The head also of the slave was shaven, and a cup given him by his master as a token of freedom, and the notary entered the name of the new freed-man in the public register, with the reasons of his manumission: it was customary also to give him another surname.
7. Among our Saxon ancestors, and also after the conquest, there was a species of slavery: all the villani were slaves to their respective lords, and each was bound to serve him in a great variety of ways. There is a profusion of curious examples of this in the ancient record preserved in the bishop's auditor's office in the cathedral of Durham, commonly known by the name of the Bolden Book. This record has been lately printed under the direction of his majesty's commissioners on the public records of the kingdom, in the supplement to Domesday Book.
8. Among our Saxon ancestors manumissions were granted on various accounts:
1.A person might, if able, purchase his own freedom.
2.One man might purchase the freedom of another.
3.Manumissions were granted to procure by their merit the salvation of departed souls.
4.Persons were manumitted also in order to be consecrated to the service of God.
These manumissions were usually recorded in some holybook, especially in copies of the four Evangelists, which, being preserved in the libraries of abbeys, &c., were a continual record, and might at all convenient times be consulted. Several entries of these manumissions exist in a MS. of the four Evangelists, s. 4, 14, in the library of Corpus Christi or Bennet college, Cambridge.
I shall produce a specimen of one of the several kinds mentioned above, giving the original only of the first; and of the others, verbal translations.
(1) The certificate of a man's having purchased his own freedom.
(Anglo-Saxon) "Here is witnessed, in this book of Christ, that AElfwig the Red hath redeemed himself from Abbot AElfsig, and the whole convent, with one pound. And this is witnessed by the whole convent at Bath.
May Christ strike him blind Who this writing perverts." This is a usual execration at the end of these forms, and is in rhyme in the original.
(2) Certificate of one having purchased the liberty of another.
"Here is witnessed, in this book of Christ, that AEdric Atford has redeemed Saegyfa, his daughter, from the Abbot AElfsig, and from the convent of Bath, to be for ever free, and all her posterity." 3. Certificate of redemption in behalf of one departed.
"Here is witnessed, in this book of Christ, that AElfric Scot and AEgelric Scot are manumitted for the soul of Abbot AElfsig, to perpetual liberty.
This was done with the testimony of the whole convent." 4. Certificate of persons manumitted to be devoted to the service of God.
"Here is witnessed, in this book of Christ, that John bought Gunnilda the daughter of Thurkill, from Goda, widow of Leafenath, with half a pound.
With the testimony of the whole convent.
May Christ strike him blind Who this writing perverts.
And he has dedicated her to Christ and St. Peter, in behalf of his mother's soul."
9. When a man was made free, it was either in the church or at some public meeting: the sheriff of the county took him by the right hand and proclaimed him a freeman, and showed him the open door and the public highway, intimating that he was free to go whithersoever he pleased, and then gave him the arms of a freeman, viz. a spear and a sword. In some cases the man was to pay thirty pence to his master of hide money, intimating that he was no longer under restraint, chastisement, or correction. From which it appears that our ancestors were in the habit of flogging their slaves. See the laws of Ina, c. 24, 39; of Wm. the Conqueror, c. 65; and of Hen. I. c. 78.
10. Among the Gentoos the manumission of a slave was as follows: The slave took a pitcher, filled it with water, and put therein berenge-arook (rice that had been cleansed without boiling) and flowers of doob, (a kind of small salad,) and taking the pitcher on his shoulder he stands near his master; the master then puts the pitcher on the slave's head, breaks it so that the water, rice, flowers, and doob that were in the pitcher may fall on the slave's body: when this is done the master thrice pronounces, I have made thee free; then the slave steps forward a few paces towards the east, and then the manumission is complete. See Code of Gentoo laws, chap. viii sec. 2, page 160. It is evident that the whole of this ceremony is emblematical:
1. The pitcher represents the confined, servile state of the slave. 2. The articles contained in it, his exclusion while in a state of slavery from the grand benefits and comforts of life. 3. The water contained in the pitcher, his exclusion from the refreshing influences of heaven; for slaves were not permitted to take part in the ordinances of religion. 4. The clean, unboiled rice, his incapacity to have secular possessions; for slaves were not permitted to possess lands either by inheritance or purchase: a slave could sow no seed for himself, and consequently have no legal claim on support from this staff of life. 5. The doob or salad shut up, his being without relish for that state of being which was rendered insupportable to him by his thraldom. 6. The breaking of the pitcher, his manumission and enjoyment of liberty: being as free to go whithersoever he would as the water was to run, being now disengaged from the pitcher. 7. The shedding of the water, rice, flower, &c., over his body, his privilege of enjoying and possessing every heavenly and earthly good. 8. His stepping towards the east, his acknowledgment to the supreme Being, the fountain of light and life, (of whom the sun was the emblem,) for his enlargement; and his eagerness to possess the light and comfort of that new state of happiness into which he was now brought in consequence of his manumission.
11. The description that Dr. John Taylor gives, ln his Elements of Civil Law, of the state of slaves among the ancients, will nearly suit with their state among our ancestors, though scarcely as bad as their state in the West Indies. "They were held among the Romans, pro nullis; pro mortuis; pro quadrupedibus:- -for no men; for dead men; for beasts: nay, were in a much worse state than any cattle whatever. They had no head in the state, no name, no tribe or register. They were not capable of being injured, nor could they take by purchase or descent, had no heirs, and could make no will. Exclusive of what was called their peculium, whatever they acquired was their master's; they could neither plead nor be impleaded; but were entirely excluded from all civil concerns; were not entitled to the rights of matrimony, and therefore had no relief in case of adultery; nor were they proper objects of cognation or affinity. They might be sold, transferred, or pawned, like other goods or personal estate; for goods they were, and such were they esteemed. They might be tortured for evidence, punished at the discretion of their lord, and even put to death, by his authority. They were laid under several other civil incapacities, too tedious to mention." When all this is considered, we may at once see the horrible evil of slavery, and wonder at the grace which could render them happy and contented in this situation see the preceding chapter, ver. 20-22. And yet we need not be surprised that the apostle should say to those who were free or freed, Ye are bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.
12. I have entered the more particularly into this subject, because it, or allusions to it, are frequently occurring in the New Testament, and I speak of it here once for all. And, to conclude, I here register my testimony against the unprincipled, inhuman, anti-Christian, and diabolical slave- trade, with all its authors, promoters, abettors, and sacrilegious gains; as well as against the great devil, the father of it and them.