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nor, such is the nature of things, do they ever prize it more, than when about to lose it—this severing of companionship but drawing closer their bond of affection. When, therefore, the fond father and mother say farewell to the duteous daughter of their love, how often is the smile, lighted up for a moment by the reflected happiness of others, followed by tears, as soon as, the parting past, those tears can flow unrestrained, since no longer giving pain to the object which caused them. At that moment how soothing the reflection, that by every holy consideration, the power of which a solemn appeal to Heaven has sealed, there is secured to the dear absent one, under all the changes and chances of this mortal life, the affection of one, who has pledged himself to love and to cherish her, as a second self, till death do part them. The pledge has been given publicly before men, and solemnly in the house and presence of the Almighty; avowing responsibility to God, not in this life only, but in that which is to come; even at the final judgment. The very words of the Service, in all their sacred force, are well remembered ; reminding us that as the Divine blessing rests on an ordinance appointed of heaven, even father and mother may rejoice to part with their children, when they enter upon that holy ordinance with mutual love, and live unto the Lord. But the Church veils not the truth; neither does she allow it to deter the Christian mind from meeting it. Hers is the nobler work to brace the mind for whatever changes and chances life may bring to husband and wife; and this she does by instructing them, that the sympathy of faithful Christian hearts, whose love holy marriage has sanctified, doth so soothe all cares, that the share which each bears is not felt to be a burden, because it is borne for others' sake ; whilst in reference to the blessings of life-to share them, is twofold to enjoy them.
As mankind increased upon the face of the earth, it pleased the Almighty to prohibit alliance by marriage between those of near kindred. The laws of our own land, founded as they are upon the laws of God and in conformity thereto, exhibit the same prohibitions. The parties, therefore, who present themselves for marriage, are charged severally, to consider well whether there be any lawful impediment to their union: whether there be any previous marriage, or any such consanguinity or affinity as are forbiddenor, in case of minors, any disapproval of parents or guardians : and the charge is given in terms of awful import ; appealing to the all-present, though invisible God, “to whom all hearts are open, and from whom no secrets are hid ;” that He be witness to the contract, whether or no it be according to his word. The man and the woman are each reminded, that if they themselves know any impediment, of which they keep their fellow-creatures in ignorance, they cannot conceal it from God. Man may be deceived by man; and the Church may be so misled by false representations, as that she admit to marriage those against whose union there still really exist lawful impediments. Duplicity is too often an overmatch for honour, cunning for honesty, and worldliness for piety'. To God, therefore, the Church appeals, not only as the eternal Father of spirits, to whom alone are known the secrets of the heart, and its real designs, but as the awful Being who will hereafter judge every man according as his works have been. The parties are expected to think noro, how they will be able to answer then. One can hardly imagine an injunction attended by a more heart-stirring and awakening consideration ! With strict truth, therefore, is it here declared of all marriages undertaken within the forbidden rules, that those so married, “are not joined together by God”— the sanction of his word wanting ; and the blessing of his favour thrown aside—“neither is their matrimony lawful.”
The warning is given thus early in the service, that both the man and the woman may have opportunity to forbear the sin of unlawful marriage, if such be contemplated by them.
THE CONSENT OF PARTIES.
Thus warned, the parties are required to declare explicitly their own consent: because the want of consent on their part would render the marriage invalid. Moreover, to prevent any future misunderstanding with respect to the measure about to have their consent, the conditions of it are stated, fully and distinctly. - Will they severally receive, either the other; the
1 That children of the world are in their generation wiser than the children of light-we know from a higher authority than man's wisdom. Luke xvi. 8.
one, the woman as his wedded wife ; the other, the man as her wedded husband ; and so “live together after God's ordinance ;” not as occasional but continual companions, "so long
so long as they both shall live ?” Will they love, each the other; and find their own best happiness in striving to secure the happiness of the other? Will they, in the same spirit, comfort each other; and whatever sorrows and vexations meet them from the world, rejoice that one earthly friend is theirs, in whose sympathy and tender affection they are sure of consolation and repose? Will they thus mutually honour each other ; bearing with each other's infirmities; “each esteeming other better than themthemselves " ?! Will they keep each other “in sickness and in health ?” Will they never weary of these kind offices, but engage in them equally during the trying seasons of adversity and sorrow, and the bright days of prosperity and joy? With hearts and minds thus united, will they keep them each only to the other, through life ? — Where these conditions are duly kept, experience alone can tell the power of united affection in aiding us to rise above adversity, and to keep a safe course in prosperity. True! the time of man's innocency it cannot restore ; but next to the union betwixt Christ and the soul, it is the most powerful helper towards such a conversation on earth as may forward us on our way to heaven. The constant exercise of all the tender affections, sanctified by God's ordinance; the unselfishness, which none but bad hearts can lay aside; the sustaining and cheering consciousness, that whatever injustice or injury or neglect we may experience from the world, at home are hearts devoted to our best interests in time and in eternity; hearts where glows a love, which not even our failings can extinguish, or our adversity cloud; nay, the very duty of bearing mutually with infirmities of temper and disposition, which must, in a greater or less degree, ever attach to the best of fallen creatures like ourselves—these all combine to throw around the marriage state a holy character, which it is the object of our Church in this service to confirm and preserve. Readily, therefore, and happily, may each party answer "I will."
1 Few points of character in married persons more readily win the respect and esteem of mankind, than the mutual respect and esteem, in which they are themselves seen to hold each other. Whereas, relatives, friends, and neighbours, soon withhold that respect, if they find it laid aside by the parties themselves. It is, therefore, of great importance even to social life, as well as to the family circle, that husband and wife show to each other all Christian honour..
Thus far the conditions proposed to both the man and the woman are the same. But other questions are superadded to the woman. She is further asked ; “Will she obey her husband and serve him?" In this, as throughout all her services, it is evident that our Church is guided entirely by the word of God; and in this case she does but give another proof of her wise and salutary care in impressing upon the minds of the parties about to enter upon marriage, that they never lose sight of that state, as an ordinance of God. Eve was created as an help meet for Adam—the very
term implying a certain degree of superiority in Adam. After the fall this distinction was marked still more decidedly—“Thy desire shall be to thy husband,” said God to the woman; " and he shall rule over thee.” To the extent of this superiority it is, and no