« PreviousContinue »
grace sustains him in distress and in danger, and forsakes him not till it has prepared for him a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteous
There he shall see God, and be admitted into those blissful mansions where there is fulness of joy, and to God's right hand, where there are pleasures for evermore. There, the sun of his growing enjoyment shall never decline, neither shall the moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be to him an everlasting light, and the days of his mourning shall be ended.
OF RELATIVÉ DUTIES WHICH RESULT FROM THE
CONSTITUTION OF THE SEXES.
Though every moral obligation may be considered as included in the common division, according to which we treat of our duties to God; to our fellowcreatures, and to ourselves; yet; on account of the prominent place which they should hold in our view, and in respect of their important consequences in reference to society, I prefer discussing the duties of the marriage relation; and the crimes opposed to them, under å separate head.
ON THE ORIGIN OF MARRIAGE.
The institution of marriage naturally takes its rise from the principles implanted in human nature, and the circumstances in which mankind are placed. They are led to form this union by that tendency of their nature which is common to them with the lower animals, to continue the species; but more especially, by the esteem of a beloved object ; affection to children ; and a regard to their own virtue and happiness. Though these propensities would lead to this relation, they might not lead to it universally; at least, so as to be productive of all the advantages which it is designed to secure to the parties concerned, and to their offspring.
Hence the importance of a divine and definite law on the subject; the nature of which we learn from Revelation. We might, indeed, infer, from the constitution and circumstances of the parents of the human race, that this institution was the subject of special enactment; and that as God made them “ male and female,” he intended they should live together as husband and wife.
But in the following passage the origin of marriage is explicitly stated by our Lord: “ the Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered, and said unto them, have ye not read, that He, which made them at the beginning, made them male and female; and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh. What, therefore, God hath joined together, let no man put asunder *.”
This is the language of Christ; and the law which it contains, is, of course, designed for the human race; that is, it respects the whole posterity of Adam and Eve alike. They who are united to each other by the ties of marriage, are joined together by the ordinance of God, and are not to be "put asunder” by man. The marriage ceremony may vary in different ages and countries, being modified by the law of the land; but the institution itself is of divine appointment.
* Matt, xix. 3—6.
THE NATURE OF THIS INSTITUTION, AND THE OBLIGATIONS
IMPLIED IN IT.
In forming this union, man “ leaves,” to use the words of the institution, “ father and mother, and cleaves to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh.” Hence an union is created, the most intimate and endearing that can exist on earth; and which is to continue during the lives of the parties concerned. The tender affection from which it takes its rise, and which is so necessary to render it a source of happi. ness, has been alluded to in a former part of this work.
This union is formed by a vow or contract, in which God is appealed to, and which appears to me to have all the solemnity and obligation of an oath. However much the mere ceremony may vary with particular circumstances, the husband in all cases promises love, fidelity, and support, to his wife; and the wife, affection, honour, and obedience to her husband. The stipulation of personal fidelity is reciprocal.
Though an equality may prevail in the sexes as to original intellectual endowments, and though in many instances there be a manifest superiority of understanding in the woman, yet, as the designs of the marriage institution render it necessary that there should be a determining authority somewhere, nature points out the propriety of lodging it in the husband. “ Since from various circumstances, natural and face