Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Canons of the Councils of Ancyra, Gangra, Neocæsarea, Antioch and Laodicea, which Canons were Accepted and Received by the Ecumenical Synods.: Canon I
It is right, according to the ecclesiastical Canon, that the Communion should by indulgence be given to those who have freely and lawfully joined in second marriages, not having previously made a secret marriage; after a short space, which is to be spent by them in prayer and fasting.
Ancient Epitome of Canon I.
A digamist not secretly married, after devoting himself for a short time to praying shall be held blameless afterwards.
Many synods imposed a penance upon digamists, although the Church never condemned second marriages.
On this whole subject of second marriages see notes on Canon VIII. of Nice, on Canons III. and VII. of Neocæsarea, and on Canon XIX. of Ancyra. In treating of this canon Hefele does little but follow Van Espen, who accepts Bishop Beveridges conclusions in opposition to Justellus and refers to him, as follows, “See this observation of Justellus refuted more at length by William Beveridge in his notes on this canon,” and Bp. Beveridge adopted and defended the exposition of the Greek commentators, viz.: there is some fault and some punishment, they are to be held back from communion for “a short space,” but after that, it is according to the law of the Church that they should be admitted to communion. The phrase “not having previously made a secret marriage” means that there must not have been intercourse with the woman before the second marriage was “lawfully” contracted, for if so the punishment would have been for fornication, and neither light nor for “a short space.” The person referred to in the canon is a real digamist and not a bigamist, this is proved by the word “lawfully” which could not be used of the second marriage of a man who already had a living wife.
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