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The Marriage Connexion therefore is the most singular, and the most important. Hence it can never be viewed with indifference. It cannot be carelessly contemplated by legislators, by politicians, by moralists, by divines--And can it be slightingly regarded by the individuals themselves? The effects extend to families, and communities-but how much more powerfully must the consequences affect the parties immediately concerned?-Can the scripture, always alive to the welfare of man, Can the scripture pass by such a relation?-Impossible. It shews us its divine institution and benediction in Paradise. It shews us our Saviour gracing with his presence this celebration of a Marriage at Cana in Galilee, and displaying "his glory" by working a miracle to preserve the new-married couple from embarrassment and mortification. It shews us in this condition, characters the most eminent and distinguished for piety and usefulness; witness Enoch, and Peter, and James, and John. It brands with infamy the doctrine that "forbids to marry." It often employs the connexion as the image of the union subsisting between "Christ and the Church. It assures us that "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge."
It is obvious therefore that the scripture is far from discouraging Marriage. But what it does not condemn, it is careful to regulate.-Let us then, my Christian Friends, look after the will of God in this momentous and interesting subject.
If ever we err, it is not from any defect in the scrip-. ture, but because there is some "occasion of stumbling
in us:" some inattention that hinders examination, or some prejudice that perverts it. His word is "a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our paths." There is a sufficiency in it for all the useful purposes of "life and godliness."-Can a man ask at these "lively oracles," how he is to conduct himself in prosperity or adversity; can he inquire how he is to govern his family, and train his children and be at a loss for an answer? "He may run that readeth." So it is in the case before us. If christians are really desirious of knowing with whom in Marriage alliance, they are to unite themselves, we make no scruple to say the revealed will of God is decisive and clear: IT RESTRICTS THEIR CHOICE TO RELIGIOUS CHARACTER ONLY.
This Law argued and established.
If nothing express had been said on this subject, the conclusion might fairly have been drawn, from these general commands which forbid all chosen and needless association with the irreligious founded on the danger of contamination.
The case may be confirmed in no inconsiderable degree from the state of the Jews. It is scarcely necessary to mention, that the Jews were forbidden to marry with the surrounding nations. But it may be proper to state two objections.
First. It may be said that the prohibition was confined to the seven accursed nations of Canaan. this was not the case. Ammonites, Moabites, and Egyptians are reckoned by Ezra among those from
whom the returned Israelites were to be separated; and none of these belonged to the race thus devoted to extermination.
Secondly. It may be supposed that this law was political, and regarded this people only in their civil and national capacity. But the futility of this will be demonstrated by remarking-first, that they were allowed to marry with individuals of any of the neighbouring countries when they became Proselytes.-This shews, that the interdiction regarded not their nation but their religion. And secondly, that the reason always assigned as the ground of the prohibition is not political, but moral-and therefore universally and constantly binding. Thus we find Moses saying, "Neither shalt thou make Marriages with them: thy Daughter thou shalt not give unto his son; nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly."
But to come nearer. Have we not in the new testament a prohibition the most explicit ?" Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers." We are aware that some are disposed to take this scripture in a larger sense, as forbidding to join with such persons in church communion. But in answer to this-not to remark, what we think cannot be denied, that the expression of yoke-fellow is more used in reference to Marriage than to church communion; the former application of it being the natural and original, the latter of course only the borrowed and secondary; I say not to avail ourselves of this circumstance, we observe,
that we have nothing to fear from admitting the explanation proposed. For if christians are forbidden to join with unbelievers in church-communion, surely they are equally enjoined not to enter with them into marriage contract. What! were the converted Corinthians commanded to "come out from among them :" and yet be permitted to enter into the closest affinity with them? Were they ordered to be separate and not to "touch the unclean thing:" and yet be allowed to become one body? Was there to be no "fellowship between righteousness and unrighteousness, between light and darkness:" and yet were these to be united for ever? Was "he that believeth to have no part with an infidel," and yet suffer them to be partners for life? Was "the Temple of God to have nothing to do with idols," and yet were idols to be set up within its walls?
But if this be not deemed sufficient to establish our doctrine, let us attend to the language of the apostle when speaking expressly of marriage. "The Wife," says he, "is bound by the law, as long as her husband "liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty
to be married to whom she will only in the Lord." Now though this be stated, as the occasion of the words required, in reference to a widow, the limitation unquestionably extends to all christians in the same relative circumstances. This then is the law of the house. This is the indispensable consideration-ONLY IN THE LORD. Thus the will of God is fully made known, and there are two things we ought to remark with regard to it.
First, He cannot err in his decision. His "judgment " is always according to truth. His understanding is
"infinite." He views a subject in all its bearings, in all its consequences, in all the possibilities of its operation. He sees effects in their causes. He knows the end from the beginning. He perceives how we should think, feel and act in every untried state of being. How qualified therefore is he to undertake to direct us? And to what implicit respect and absolute compliance is the determi nation of such an adviser intitled?
But secondly, we should remember that his council is not advice, but command. Considered indeed as speaking from a regard to our welfare, a love to our souls he is the friendly monitor: but as to our obligation to obey, and the danger we incur by transgression -there he is nothing less than a Sovereign. It is at your peril to cast any of his words behind your back.— See that ye refuse not him that speaketh."
The Evils of transgressing it variously viewed.
IF people were as easily satisfied in receiving truth as they are in opposing it; if no more was needful to influence the practice than to produce conviction: it might be unnecessary to enlarge after the adduction of the preceding arguments. But alas! in spiritual concerns men venture their souls on such srifling evidence, as, were it to govern them in their temporal affairs, would lead their fellow-creatures to conclude that they were either madmen or idiots. Here we need "line
upon line ; precept upon precept.
Let us then specify
some of the disadvantages and injuries that arise from