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to a single life; for in those times of persecution, many Christians wishing to avoid the tempest, retired into deserts; and when these troubles ceased, they were either afraid of new ones, or else habit and situation had seconciled them to seclusion, and made convenient and voluntary to them, what at first originated from necessity. The important cares of that season obliged them not to engage in the world more than was absolutely unavoidable: on this account, many converts of both sexes to the Christian faith, adopted the advice of St. Paul, who is falsely charged with discouraging marriage in his letters to the Corinthians. Among other questions, his opinion is asked concerning the married life, and the Apostle contrives such an answer as was every way calculated for the safety and welfare of the Church in a time of persecution, and he fits his observations to the several tempers, constitutions, and circumstances of particular persons, and so keeps free of all forcible exhortation either to the married, or the single state: if it be insisted on, that he appears to lean more favourably to the side of a single life, it should be remarked at the same time, that he has then a view to its advantages in a troublesome time, such as it then was: he suggests to them, that they would act prudently, if with chastity at the same time, they could refrain from marriage.
He cautions Timothy, whom he calls his own son, and for whom he felt the tenderest affection; against the absurd magazine of Pagan and Papal tenets : “ Forbidding,” as he says, “ to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God had created to be received. with thanksgiving."
An ecclesiastic of infinite humour once undertook to write against the hardships of this duty of celibacy, imposed on the Clergy. Some of his arguments were, that God desired
all creatures to increase and multiply, and that this law could not be abrogated by an old Pope; that soldiers proceed from soldiers, and kings from kings, and why should not clerks from clerks.? That Zacharias, father of him who baptized Christ, had a wife and children: That St. Paul, who was carried to the third Heaven, brought from thence no command for celibacy; on the contrary, he desired that every one should have his own wife.
· But religion however it may have been misrepresented in dark and superstitious times, for the purpose of imposing on any class of mankind a life of celibacy, cannot, in this more enlightened day, without a greater reproach, be effectually urged as the authority for remaining in that state: reasons there are, and sufficient ones too, for that determination: health and even life itself may in several instances demand such caution; but it should be remembered at the same time, that with other constitutions, health and life
are more frequently endangered, if not sacrificed by refusing to nature her imperious claims.
Convenience must sometimes be allowed as a tolerable plea for remaining in the single state; but selfishness is more frequently the prevailing motive. The taxes chargeable on a single state, either in health, pocket, or reputation, are important considerations: besides, it is well known, that the demands of a family usually excite fresh exertions, and operate as a useful spur to industry.
irl - The apprehension of being the cause of il fac misery to children as yet unborn, through
incompetence of circumstances, although in itself a very commendable reflection, yet does not amount to a sufficient apology for a life of celibacy.
A famous King* welcomed to his dominions all who came, for he observed, that whoever had a mouth must eat, and whoever had hands, if not born to fortune, must work for that subsistence: and although it may be said, that the poor have seldom any provision for accidents, to which they may be particularly exposed, it should be mentioned, as an honour to the feelings of this merciful country, that for every deserving and possible case of misfortune, institutions of every description are open to their succour and support.
It is asserted by some curious Etymologists, that the word Celibacy means the blessedness of Heaven;t and when the freedom and the lightness of a single life are contrasted with the cares, the troubles, and the anxieties of a married one, we must so far acknowledge the former to be preferable; but this at best is but a selfish argument; unquestionably it
..• The King of Prussia.
# Caeli beatitudoa