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shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Even Hell itself, hostile as it is to our salvation, follows the rest of the Universe; and, in spite of its own malevolence, subjoins its dreadful admonition, by marshalling before us the innumerable hosts of miserable wretches, whom this sin has driven to its mansions of despair. Who, that does not already sleep the sleep of death, can refuse to hear, awake, and live?
THE ORIGIN, NATURE,
BENEFITS OF MARRIAGE.
EXODUS Xx. 14.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
BEFORE I enter upon the direct consideration of the precept in the Text, it will be useful, for the purpose of illustrating and enforcing it, to examine the nature of Marriage. The Sin, immediately forbidden in the Text, derives, in some respects, its existence from this Institution ; and, is, in all respects, intimately connected with it, in whatever manner, or degree, the Sin may exist. Such an Examination, also, derives particular importance from the fact, that it has been rarely made in the Desk. Indeed, I do not know where it has been made, in such a manner, as to satisfy my own wishes.
In discussing this Subject I shall consider,
sage. Matth. xix. 3—6. 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, thut 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. Wherefore, they are no more twain, but one flesh. What, therefore, God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
In this passage of Scripture our Saviour declares, that, when God had created man male and femalc, he said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh. These, it is ever to be remembered, are the words of God Himself; as they are here declared to be by Christ; and not, as they have often been erroneously supposed to be, the words of Adam. God made man male and female for this end; and in these words delivered his own Ordinance to mankind; at once permitting, and directing, that a man, henceforth, should leave his father and mother; and that lawfully, notwithstanding his high, and otherwise indissoluble, obligations to them; and be united to his wife. Accordingly, He declares them, henceforth, to be no more twain, but one.
That these words contain an Institution of God, and that this Institution is Marriage, cannot be doubted for a moment. The only question, which can be asked concerning the subject, is, For whom was this institution designed? Plainly it was not designed for Adam and Eve: for they had neither father nor mother; and were, therefore, not included in the terms of the Ordinance; and, being already married by God Himself, were necessarily excluded from any Ordinance, succeeding that event. The Ordinance, then, respected their posterity only: and, as it is delivered in absolutely indefinite terms, terms unrestricted to any individuals, or collections of mankind; it respected all their posterity alike.
In this manner is it directly explained by our Saviour, in the passage quoted above. The Pharisees asked Him, whether it Vol. IV.
was lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause. Christ replies, that, in consequence of this Institution, a man and his wife are no more twain, but one; that is, a man and his wife, at the time, in which he was speaking, and from the time, when this ordinance tras made, are no more twain, but, from the day of their marriage, are by this Ordinance constituted one. Accordingly, he suhjoins, What God hath joined together, lei nol man put asunder. As if He had said, “ God hath joined together by this Ordinance all men and women, who are lawfully married; or, in other words, every lawfully married pair.” Man, therefore, cannot lawfully disjoin them. Here it is evident beyond a debate, that our Saviour pronounced men to be married, or joined together, at the lime, when He made these declarations, by God Himself in this Ordinance. Of course, the Ordinance, extends to all lar. fully married persons.
11. The Nature of Marriage may be explained in the following manner.
Marriage is an union between two persons of the different seres. It is carefully to be remembered, that the Ordinance of God, which gave birth to it, limits the Union to two. God said, For this cause shall a man leare father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; not, Men shall leave their fathers and mothers, and shall cleave unio their wife ; nor, I man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wives, And they twain shall be one : Not, they indefinitely, without declaring how many; nor they three, four, or five; but they twain. The Ordinance, therefore, on which alone Marriage is lawfully founded, limits this Union, in the most express and definite manner, to two persons. What God has thus established, man cannot alter.
It is the most intimate Union, which exists in the present world. The persons, who are thus united, are joined together in a more intimate relation, than any other, which exists, or can exist, among mankind. No attachment is so strong; no tenderness is so great; as that, which is originated, and cherished, by this Institution. This is directly predicted, and very forcibly declared, in the passage, which I have quoted from St. Matthew. For this cause, shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave
to his wife, and they twain shall be one. Accordingly, the union of affections, interests, labours, and life, here existing, has no parallel in the present world.
It is also a Perpetual Union. The connection is entered into by both parties for life. God has constituted it by joining the parties with His own Infinite Authority; and has forbidden man to put them asunder. It is indissoluble, therefore, on any ground, but that of Crime: a crime of one kind only; and in its nature fatal to all the blessings, and hopes, intended by the Institution. • It is an Union, also, formed by a most solemn Covenant. In this Covenant God is appealed to, as a Witness of the sincere affection, and upright designs, of the parties; both of whom engage, mutually, the exercise of those affections, and the pursuit of that conduct, which, together, are the most efficacious means of their mutual happiness. This Covenant plainly approaches very near to the solemnity, and obligation, of an Oath; and, exclusively of that, in which Man gives himself up to God, is, without a doubt, the inost solemn, and the most important, ever entered into by Man. When the duties of it are faithfully performed; they furnish a fair foundation for the best hopes, that the Union will be immortal.
III. The Benefits of this Institution are incalculably numerous, and inestimably important.
This truth is clearly evident from the observations, already made, concerning the Origin and Nature of Marriage. It is also forcibly evinced by the manner, in which the subject is elsewhere exhibited in the Scriptures.
The violation of the Marriage Covenant was of such consequence in the view of the Divine Mind, that it was made the subject of one of the Commands in the Decalogue.
In the laws concerning this subject, given to the Israelites, curses were pronounced in form against the direct violations of the Marriage vow; and the violators were punished with death.
Of Adulterers, and all other transgressors of the Seventh Command, it is declared, in the New Testament, that they shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, None