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band nor wife to murmur at the other, if the prospect of competence and ease with which they began life, be clouded; and their closing days be darkened by poverty and distress-" in sickness and in health;" then most loving, when the weakening body and the fainting spirit clings with fonder affection to the husband or wife, for whose sake have been left father and mother; and in whose tenderness and care now rests their chief earthly trust-"to love and to cherish" under every variety of circumstances, and in the untiring spirit of devoted affection, even "till death do part them." With what more than almost human strength the gentle frame of woman will then tend the husband, the bright wakefulness with which she will keep the night-watches around the bed of hopeless sickness and approaching death-shrinking not from the loved one, even when the King of terrors strikes his victim: how bravely she then redeems the pledge, made in the bright hour of her espousals-experience is in ample proof, from the cottage to the throne.
The state was entered upon according to God's holy ordinance-it closes under God's blessing.
THE pledge of the heart having been given, there is added a visible pledge-a ring; which is to be placed
will; then most after the pattern of Christ, when submitting to that will joyfully; view them in their poverty; it may be, even in their penury! Yet will they be to each other faithful and loving unto death; trusting that the God who heard their vows, when in youth and joy they plighted to each other their troth before his altar, will now hear their prayers, as they fulfil their vows, in age and sickness and sorrow. He will bless and keep them still.
by the man upon the fourth finger of the woman's left hand, and is there to remain during life. The ring thus given, both in its form and in the material of which it is usually made, is alike significant: gold being a fit emblem of the purity of a love which no unworthy views alloy; and of the enduring nature of an affection which frequency of trial shall but bring out of the furnace, brighter and of higher value: whilst the circle, emblem of that which endeth not, well indicates that till life shall close, the circle of duties now entered upon is to cease not. Still holding this ring upon the finger where he placed it, the man declares that he thus weds the object of his affections in a spirit of pure and unchangeable love. Whatever honour may accrue to himself from his state of life, from his wealth, power, learning, or other acquisitions, he devotedly transfers to her; "with my body I thee worship'; so whatever other worldly
1 It frequently happens in reading the Holy Scriptures, that we find expressions, which from a change in the fashion of language, would seem to bear a different meaning to that which the context can justify. In such cases we must ascertain what was the meaning of the word, when first it was adopted into our translation of God's word. In like manner in our Liturgy, several terms are still used, which from age have changed their former acceptation, and no longer convey their original meaning. Thus no devotion is intended by the term "with my body thee worship." The word worship meant, in older times, regard, respect, honour. Of this there is a striking proof in our translation of 1 Sam. ii. 30. In our present translation it stands, "him that honours me, I will honour :" whereas in the earlier translation, the same passage stood, "him that worships me, I will worship." Each word is correct according to the power of our language at the several times in which either was adopted. God will make honourable or worshipful among their fellow-creatures those who give honour unto Him. In the same sense the words used by our translators, Luke xiv. 10. "Then shalt thou have worship in
advantages may accrue to him, he fully and freely shares with her, giving her the full enjoyment of all things which he possesses-" with all my worldly goods I thee endow." And this avowal is made under the most solemn obligation; "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Is it asked, why the Church upon this occasion requires the ordinance to be sealed in the awful " name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?" the answer is found, first in the Apostolic injunction, which never should be forgotten by us, that "whatever we do," all should be done "to the glory of God;" in acknowledgment as well of his grace as of his providence and secondly, in the truth, that by that name emphatically is known the Christian's God. In that holy name at Baptism we all entered into covenant with God; in the same holy name we have from time to time confirmed that covenant; and we daily close our prayers with an invocation for blessing, from the grace of the Saviour, the love of the Father, the fellowship of the Comforter— none other name enabling us to triumph over our sorrows: none other name sanctifying our joys.
the presence of them that sit at meat with thee"-limiting the expression of reverence to some ordinary mark of honour and respect. So is the word to be understood in the present service.
It is important for the young Christian always to bear in mind this view of the changes to which language is liable with the change of time. It will often help to remove doubts, which some coldhearted caviller may suggest, or clear up difficulties which may for a time cause perplexity in the mind of the simple and unlearned reader. Refer to the note in page 210.
"O eternal God
through Jesus Christ our Lord."
In this prayer God is addressed as the unchangeable Jehovah; the same, yesterday, to day, and for ever; eternal. He is our Creator; the author of our existence, soul and body. He by his power continues this our existence, spiritually and temporally; the preserver of all men, and the giver of all spiritual grace. Further, this his care endureth even to the end; for He is the author of everlasting life. He is the God whom the Church earnestly implores in the fulness of his eternity, to give the newly-married the blessing of his grace, that with hearts united to Him in holy reverence, they may be the more closely united to each other in holy love; and so, sanctified and blessed, may, like Isaac and Rebecca, be patterns of conjugal affection, and finding each in the other all happiness which this world can bestow, faithfully keep only "each unto the other so long as they both shall live;” the ring being a true emblem of that unbroken circle of duty and affection, in which they will live according to God's laws through Jesus Christ our Lord. Upon these grounds it is that the Church, in the exercise of the authority delegated to her, pronounces blessing in God's name. Wisely too are the married warned in this their hour of joy, that next to God they must look to themselves for their only sure comfort in a world on whose changes they are about to enter; sharers alike of its sorrows and its joys. Here, experience is in proof, that when man and wife, wisely cherishing the love of their youth, continue to live to God and to each other, many and severe may be
their trials; their bright worldly prospects may their high raised hopes may end in disappointment; and from their home, as the tempest-tost from his labouring bark, they may see around them only the angry waves of this troublous world: but that home is their safety; the anchor of their hope is the love of their God; and, true to Him and to each other, leaving the world to its own vain tumult, they "remain in perfect love and peace together;" and so ride safe above the water-flood, till they together reach that shore, where, as they humbly trust, they may meet safe and for ever happy in the promised haven of their rest-even the bosom of their God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
THE SACRED BOND.
"Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder." COLD must be the hearts, alike insensible to the awakening feeling of the more immediate presence of Almighty God before whom they are assembled, and indifferent to the best interests of those on whom the Church has with prayer and supplication been invoking blessing; cold indeed must they be, upon whom the words of warning now read-the words of Jesus Christ himself fall unheeded1. Concise but impressive; admonitory but comforting; to what musings do they give rise! "Is it, indeed, God who hath joined together this man and this woman? Where is he that shall dare put them asunder? or where are they who shall doubt His blessing upon them? If the covenant be
1 Matt. xix. 6.