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irreversible; the bond indissoluble, save by death; still it is of God's ordering; and all which is so ordered, must be ordered aright." Thus then, thou tender mother, grieve not to part with thy beloved daughter. Be comforted by remembering that you have committed her to the care of that God, according to whose ordering your companionship is for a time severed. But thought knows no severing. You and she, though far distant perhaps, can unite your mutual prayers; and your spirits may so meet in loved and heavenly communing. Such united supplications to the Being who sanctified the parting, leave you no vain hope, that his gracious blessing, then invoked by the Church upon her parents and herself and her husband, will abide upon you and them, even to the end. She is united in holy wedlock; and that union death alone can sever.
THE BOND RATIFIED BY THE CHURCH.
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
THE ordinance of marriage thus being of God, and having been now entered upon with a devout and holy service, in acknowledgment that to Him his servants look for blessing upon their union, the Church ratifies the bond; and after declaring marriage to be a hallowed religious ordinance, states that in the present instance it has been confirmed by mutual consent, and by a mutual sacred vow made in the presence of God, as well as before the assembled congregation. She repeats also, that in token and pledge of the parties considering their vow binding, and to be through life unbroken, a ring had been given and received; fit
emblem of pure and never-ending love. Further, she reminds the assembled congregation, that there had been "a joining of hands;" in token that henceforth man and wife were to be one. These things being so, the minister, by the authority vested in him as an appointed servant of the Most High, pronounces of the married pair that "they be man and wife together; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost '."
"God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost
THE bond of marriage having been sealed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, the blessing invoked upon parties so united is very appropriately conveyed in the same great name of "God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost" - Preserver, Redeemer, Comforter; the Christian's God. There is an affecting solemnity in these words of blessing, which none could ever hear unmoved. How fervently it must be responded to by congregated friends and relatives generally, we can well understand; though it were less easy to judge how fully your own heart, as a mother, or the heart of a father feels its force! Yet how soothing must be the reflection, that when children are thus placed more immediately under the sheltering wing of a present God, and with fervent prayer committed to his protection, they are safe and happy under the guidance and love of a Father who is in heaven. If He "mercifully look
1 Refer to page 385.
upon them; if He fill them "with all spiritual benediction and grace," then is the hope well founded that "their weakness being perfected in his strength," they may in a Christian spirit of mutual love, as they contemplate each other's excellences; and of mutual forbearance, as they see and lament each other's infirmities; so live together in this life, guiltless of unkindly tempers and dispositions towards each other, that in the world to come they may together have life everlasting. If that be gained—and in gaining it, each, through God's spiritual benediction and grace blessing them, may assist the other by the gentle but effective influence of a Christian example-if that life be gained, then, of how little moment will it be, what cares or troubles or disappointments have compassed them in the passing scenes of this world!—Their gain is life eternal.
MARRIAGE is peculiarly and properly an occasion of heartfelt joy. Therefore it was, that the holy Jesus "adorned and beautified that estate with his presence;" and further did promote the joyousness of the festival by a miracle. Hence psalms of praise and thanksgiving, as well as prayers and supplications, are added to this service1. The first of the two Psalms recounts the blessings promised of Heaven to those who when married live in the fear and love of the Lord, and "walk in his ways." God will bless their honest industry in providing for the necessities
1 James v. 13.
and comforts of their new state of life. The wife shall be a happy mother of children, to the delight of herself and her husband; whilst the children, like branches of the olive stem, shall flourish, the defence at once and the ornament of their parents. Nay, thus too shall they enjoy the inestimable privilege of themselves serving the Lord in all godly quietness, and seeing the Church of Christ "in prosperity all their life long;' with no vain hope that when children are vouchsafed them, their posterity also may in their time enjoy the same. "Such honour have all his saints."
O! what motive here to parents, that themselves lead a truly religious life, and train their children to the same! True it is, that children bring many cares; but where the law of God is their guide, blessing attends the possession of them. Nay, where they prove eventually trials, they may not therefore prove less blessings in the end: such is the ordering of God's providence and grace'. Even suppose a numerous family to bring added weight of care upon parents;
Though no afflictions are more grievous to parents than those which arise from failure of good conduct in their children, yet faith teaches them to consider even those afflictions as trials sent to prove their trust in God, and discipline their own souls for heaven. The guilt of undutiful conduct in children remains the same; but the effect of it upon parents is not unmixed misery. In the midst of all their earthly sorrow, they find peace with God; for they meet the trial unrepiningly, as from Him. They bear in mind the short duration of the suffering, ending with this transitory life, and the eternity of its recompence through Christ. The triumphant language of the Apostle is at last, even theirs-" For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."-2 Cor. iv. 17, 18.
still the experience of life is in proof that their very numbers add to their blessing'. How readily and efficiently do they aid each other on their course! The elder, how often do they take a parent's part; the guides of the less experienced, the guardians of the more youthful! Where too are the Christian parents, who-as their eyes rest on the home scene, when around the table are clustering the olive branches, the gift of God-find not their hearts expand with undefinable joy, at the hopeful prospect which the Holy Scriptures open to them, that those branches, if duly cultivated by the word of God, nourished and fed by the healthful Spirit of his grace, and refreshed by the dew of his blessing in this wilderness of life, may grow and flourish also in the courts of the Lord's house here, and hereafter find their place in the heavenly Eden, in the midst whereof will be the tree of life! Or are these hopes nothing worth to refresh the faith of anxious parents under the pressure of care in "bringing up their children in the fear and nurture of the Lord?" Speak they no comfort amid the sad and varied trials of life? Bring they no recompense of reward to meet their oft self-denial, their secret unmurmuring sorrows, their heartfelt but unrevealed fears, their unwearying patience, their untiring love? You-if haply parents are now reading these pages you can from your own hearts respond. Amid your family worship, as the young bright voices raise their prayer for "God's kingdom to come," and add their according "Amen!" "Even so, Lord Jesus"— such methinks is your own deep-felt supplication—
1 Refer to pages 20-23.