1 Timothy 5:9-13
9. Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,
9. Vidua deligatur non minor annis sexaginta, quae fuerit inius viri uxor.
10. Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work
10. In operibus bonis habens testimonium, si liberos educavit, si fuit hospitalis, si sanctorum pedes lavit, si afflictis subministravit, si in omni bono opere fuit assidua.
11. But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;
11. Porro juniores viduas rejice; quum enim lascivire coeperint adversus Christum, nubere volunt;
12. Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
12. Habentes condemnationem, quod primam fidem rejecerint.
13. And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also, and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.
13. Simul autem et otiosae discunt circuire domos; nec solum otiosae, verum etiam garrulae et curiosae, loquentes quae non oportet.
If it be now asked, Shall all that are barren be rejected, because they have never borne any children? We must reply, that Paul does not here condemn barrenness, but the daintiness of mothers, who, by refusing to endure the weariness of bringing up their children, sufficiently shew that they will be very unkind to strangers. And at the same time he holds out this as an honorable reward to godly matrons, who have not spared themselves, that they, in their turn, shall be received into the bosom of the Church in their old age.
By a figure of speech, in which a part is taken for the whole, he means by
How many monsters of crimes are produced every day in Popery by that compulsory celibacy of nuns! What barriers does it not deliberately break through! And therefore, although this course had at first appeared to be commendable, yet, taught by experiments so many and so terrible, they ought to have somewhat complied with in the counsel of Paul. But they are so far from doing this, that they provoke the wrath of God more and more, from day to day, by their obstinacy. Nor do I speak of nuns only, but priests and monks are also compelled by them to observe perpetual celibacy. Yet disgraceful lusts rage amongst them, so that hardly one in ten lives chastely; and in monasteries, the least of the evils is ordinary fornication. If they would incline their heart to hear God speaking by the mouth of Paul, they would instantly have recourse to this remedy which he prescribes; but so great is their pride, that they furiously persecute all who remind them of it.
Some read the words thus: -- "When they become wanton, they will marry in opposition to Christ." Although this makes little difference as to Paul's meaning, the former view is preferable.
Accordingly, Paul rises to greater vehemence against them, and magnifies the enormity of the offense, by saying that not only would they bring disgrace on Christ and his Church by departing from the condition to which they had agreed, but they likewise broke their "first faith "by wicked revolt. Thus it usually happens, that he who has once transgressed the bounds of modesty gives himself up to all impudence. It grieved him that the levity of those women was a reproach to the godly, and that their lustfulness was reproved, or, at least, was liable to reproof. This led them to proceed to greater and greater degrees of licentiousness, till they renounced Christianity. That amplification is exceedingly appropriate; for is there anything more absurd than that they should, through a wish to promote the advantage of persons, open the door to the denial of Christ?
The attempt of the Papists to support, by means of this passage, a vow of perpetual celibacy, is absurd. Granting that it was customary to exact from the widows an engagement in express terms, still they would gain nothing by this admission. First, we must consider the end. The reason why widows formerly promised to remain unmarried, was not that they might lead a holier life than in a state of marriage, but because they could not, at the same time, be devoted to husbands and to the Church; but in Popery, they make a vow of continence, as if it were a virtue acceptable to God on its own account. Secondly, in that age they renounced the liberty of marrying at the time when they ceased to be marriageable; for they must have been, at least, sixty years old, and, by being satisfied with being once married, must have already given a proof of their chastity. But now, vows are made among the Papists to renounce marriage, either before the time, or in the midst of time ardor of youthful years.
Now we disapprove of the tyrannical law about celibacy, chiefly for two reasons. First, they pretend that it is meritorious worship before God; and secondly, by rashness in vowing, they plunge souls into destruction. Neither of these was to be found in the ancient institution. They did not make a direct vow of continence, as if the married life were less acceptable to God, but only, so far as it was rendered necessary by the office to which they were elected, they promised to keep from the tie of marriage for their whole life; nor did they deprive themselves of the liberty of marrying, till the time when, though they had been ever so free, it was foolish and unreasonable for them to marry. In short, those widows differed as much from the nuns, as Anna the prophetess from Claude the Vestal. 3
1 "Quelles vefues on doit recevoir a estre entretenues aux depens de l'Eglise." "What widows ought to be received, to be supported at the expense of the Church."
2 This observance was usually administered by, or under the superintendence of, the mistress of the house; and, being in the East particularly grateful, is meant to designate, generally, kind attention to the guests." -- Bloomfield.
3 "A Rome on appeloit Vestales les vierges consacrees a une deesse nommee Vesta (comme qui diroit aujourd'huy les nonnains de saincte Claire) et ceste Claude en estoit une qui a este fort renomnmee." -- "At Rome they gave the name of Vestals to virgins consecrated to a goddess called Vesta, (as if we should say, at the present day, the nuns of St. Claire) and that Clauda was one of them that was highly celebrated."
4 "Une tortue ou limace." -- "A tortoise or a snail."
5 "Percunctatorem fugito; lam garrulus idem est." -- Hor.