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On Exhortation To Chastity by Tertullian

Elucidation.

(Albeit they be laics, p.54.)

In the tract on Baptism Tertullian uses language implying that three persons compose a Church. But here we find it much more strongly pronounced, -- Ubi tres, Ecclesia est, licet Laici. The question of lay-baptism we may leave till we come to Cyprian, only noting here, that, while Cyprian abjures his |master| on this point, his adversary, the Bishop of Rome, adopts Tertullian's principle in so far. But, in view of Matt. xix.20, surely we may all allow that three are a quorum when so |gathered together in Christ's name,| albeit not for all purposes. Three women may claim the Saviour's promise when lawfully met together for social devotions, nor can it be denied that they have a share in the priesthood of the |peculiar people.| So, too, even of three pious children. But it does not follow that they are a church for all purposes, -- preaching, celebrating sacraments, ordaining, and the like. The late Dean Stanley was fond of this passage of Tertullian, but obviously it might be abused to encourage a state of things which all orderly and organized systems of religion must necessarily discard. On p.58 there is a reference, apparently, to deaconesses as |women in Ecclesiastical Orders.|

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