Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

during the life of the other, according to the tenor of Christ's rule'. That rule is our guide, so far as sin is concerned. The contract must be regarded as a religious contract. Its origin, its obligations, are of God, and our care must be to observe it to God, rather than man.

i See also St. Paul's confirmation of this application of the rule, 1 Cor. vii. 10, 11.

1

SERMON XXXIV.

ON THE PURPOSES, AND SOLEMNIZATION OF

MARRIAGE.

THE PRAYER.

O God, who by thy mighty power hast made all things out of nothing, who also (after other things set in order) didst appoint that out of Man (created after thine own Image and Similitude) Woman should take her beginning; and knitting them together, didst teach that it should never be lawful to put asunder those whom Thou by Matrimony hadst made one: we pray Thee to send thy blessing upon all those, who enter upon this holy state, that they may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made, and ever remain in perfect love and peace together, and live according to thy laws, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

MATT, xix. 6.

WHAT THEREFORE GOD HATH JOINED TOGETHER, LET NOT MAN

ASUNDER.

WE proposed in this Sermon to consider the purposes for which our Church declares the state of Marriage to have been designed, and the manner in which she directs Matrimony to be solemnized. These subjects are thus connected with each other, and with that of the preceding Sermon; that the institution of Marriage by God, and his making it à religious contract, requires that the contract should be reverently entered into, with a due sense and acknowledgment of its awful sanctions, and with such solemnities as may distinguish it from ordinary contracts, and mark its divine origin; that the purposes for which we shall see that it was ordained by Him, render it the interest of the community, of families, and of individuals, to cherish a reverence, and sense of its sacred character; and that the combined weight of these considerations establish on the strongest basis the wisdom and piety with which our Church requires the solemnization of this important and holy compact to be performed in the house, under the sanction, and by the Ministers, of Almighty God.

The mere fact stated in the text, that the married state takes its rise from God's ordinance, stamps it as essential to the welfare and happiness of mankind; and in what respects it operates upon these I cannot take a better order of describing, than that which our own venerable Church has adopted in the introductory address to those, who come within her holy precincts to solemnize this important contract in the house of her Lord, and to implore, through the ministration of his priest, his blessing upon their hearts, and upon their endeavours to discharge the great duties they are about to undertake.

I. The first purpose of God in this ordinance, which the Church points out as having a relation to the welfare of society, is that a race of children should take their station amongst his intelligent creatures, for whom, by the very circumstances of the covenant under which they were born, a pledge should be given for their being “ brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of His holy name;" and for whom, moreover, by the self-same circumstances, should be provided the best security, consistent with the exercise of human free-will and responsibility, for that pledge being carried into effect.

I need not, after the many observations to the same effect in my previous Sermons', now dwell upon the advantages which must result to society, as well as to the individuals themselves, from the prevalence of religion amongst its members. Neither will it be necessary here to urge the fearful evils which must arise to any society from an irreligious population. Now, what can better tend to secure the general promotion of religion, with its attendant graces and virtues, than an ordinance which, by the most solemn sanctions, and the most endearing ties, ratifies the claims of children to the care of both their parents. The value of such an institution cannot be placed before us in a more striking point of view, than by contrasting the

See especially Sermon XX.

situation of the offspring of marriage, with that of the miserable, and often outcast, children born out of the pale of wedlock. These, commonly destitute of a father's care and authority, and sometimes of even both the parents, who are either regardless or ashamed of the child of their disgrace, are sent forth, unarmed and unprotected, amidst the snares and temptations of the world. Too often do the streets of our metropolis find the ranks of crime largely recruited from those unhappy beings in whom no father's authority has interposed to arrest the early advances of wickedness, and over whom no mother's care has watched to sow in their infant minds those principles and seeds of holiness, which might preoccupy the ground, and spring up to maintain possession of it, against the deadly and rank harvest sown by the enemy of their souls. Nay what is worse, the guilty parents instead of guarding and directing the feeble steps of the illegitimate child, are too well prepared themselves to set the example, and become his leaders, in the course of that guilt in which his very being originated. How different from this are the virtuous associations, the hallowed and gentle bonds, which have their origin “in the holy estate of matrimony." Here no feelings of shame and disgrace interfere to cause them, in violation of the gracious claims of natural affection, to shun their offspring. He is not only the object to which their heart naturally yearns, he is the pledge of holy love, the joy and

« ПредишнаНапред »