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The ceremony of marriage is a religious act; but the same act is in most christian nations made, likewise, to serve as the form of a civil contract; and civil privileges and penalties are made to depend on it. And out of this union no very serious evil perhaps has arisen, to detract from the advantages of the arrangement. (Hind's Rise of Christianity, vol. ii,
The well spring of all natural delight arises from the need man has of his fellow-man, by which he is led to seek from others those things wherein the excellency of his kind doth most consist. In marriage this communion takes place more perfectly and fully than in any other mode. (See Hooker's Eccl. Polity, B. i, § 10, and Coleridge.
God has restored it to a portion of the dignity which it had from His institution in Paradise, dignified it in the Patriarchs, set forth an example of it in “Abraham His friend ;" and in the pure blessings of Isaac, made its mutual love a similitude of that which He bears to His Church, and of her reverence to Him, her Head and Saviour; hallowed it yet more, in that His Son was born of the seed of David, according to the flesh; He takes us by the hand and hallows our union by the blessings of His Church; so that what man might have feared to approach, is, when “enterprised reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God," a continual image and representation of things Holy and Divine.-E. Irving.
On the law and doctrine of marriage, see Matt. xix, 2-12. Get ii, 18-25. Heb. xiii, 14. 1 Cor. ch. vii.
DIRECTION. N. B.-In taking their position, the man should stand on the right hand and the woman on the left.
FORM FOR THE SOLEMNIZATION OF
The Company, With the Parties, Being Assembled, the Min
ister Shall Say, We are gathered together, my friends and brethren, that in the presence and before the altar of God, we may, according to God's ordinance, unite these persons in the indissoluble bonds of wedlock. I require therefore, and charge all and each of you now present, that if you know of any impediment why they may not be thus lawfully joined together in matrimony, you do now make it known, or ever after hold your peace.* No Objection Being Offered, the Minister Shall Then Make
the Following Address. When God had created man, and would crown him with the chiefest earthly blessing, He gave him marriage; which was instituted in Paradise,—in the time of man's undepraved innocency,—when God created woman by His miraculous power, -so that humanity previously one was divided, and yet, so as by this holy bond, to be again rendered one.
Thus was man constituted the head, protector, guardian, and friend of woman, whom he was bound to love even as his own flesh: and thus was woman given to man by his all bounteous Creator, to consummate his felicity, and to be his helper, companion, and the perennial fountain of sweet and pure delight.
Marriage was honoured by our Saviour—who came to restore corrupt nature from the ruin of the fall,—by His presence and the working of His first miracle. Thus was this endearing relation hallowed by the beginning of miracles, as well in the time of this new creation as in that of man's original formation.
Marriage is thus made honorable in all. It is consecrated by God's peculiar favour and blessing. And since by this sacred union, they who were aforetime twain become, in the language of Scripture, "one flesh;" and should cleave one to another, forsaking all beside; and since it is not, by any, to be engaged in unadvisedly or lightly, but advisedly and in the fear of God; therefore should it be formed as in God's presence, and the hymenial torch be lighted at His altar. You are now therefore to become one.
*Or this—which should hinder this pair—this man and this woman from being united in the holy matrimony as in the presence of the great God-I charge you speak.
Ť A unity in duality.
One in all your temporal interests and possessions, and in the eye of the law. One in every event of life, whether prosperous or adverse; one in every condition, whether of sickness or health. One should you be in all your affections and desires, your hopes and your fears, your joys and your sorrows--walking together as fellow-travellers; helping one another as co-workers; living with each other, as heirs together of the same immortal destiny; that you may thus become partakers of the same inheritance of glory.
And may the blessing of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, rest upon and abide with you wherever you be. Amen. The Minister Having Then Requested the Parties to Join
Their Hands, Will Solemnly Ask Each of them, Do you, who now hold each other by the hand, promise and covenant in the presence of God, and of these witnesses here assembled, that you will be to each other—you, a loving, faithful and affectionate husband,—and you a loving, faithful and dutiful wife;—and that you will love, comfort, and honor each one the other, in health and in sickness—in prosperity and adversity—and forsaking all 'beside, keep thee only to each other, so long as you both shall live ? When a Ring is Used Either of the Following Forms May Bc
Employed. And as a sign and seal of this your freely and solemnly taken vow, you have given, and you now receive, and will ever wear, this ring. Or this:
In testimony that you, M. and N., do advisedly and solemnly ratify all that hath been declared and promised by you, do thou M. acknowledge and endow this woman as thy wife, by delivering unto her a ring in token of thy faith; and do thou N. in like manner receive the same, as a pledge of his faith and as a witness of thy vows?* The Minister Shall Then Address the Parties Severally,
Saying, Do you A. B. thus promise?
Do you C. D. thus promise? The Parties Having Each Signified Their Assent, the Min
ister Shall Proceed to say, Forasmuch, then, as no obstacle exists, and you have now consented together in holy wedlock, and having witnessed the same before this company, I do now pronounce you to be man and wife, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and whom God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.
The Minister Shall Then Say, Let Us Pray. Almighty and most merciful God, our heavenly Father! We worship and adore thee, as the Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor of mankind, who in the beginning didst form man after thine own image, that he might glorify and enjoy thee for ever.
We bless thee that while in wisdom thou didst create and plentifully endow him with all bodily and spiritual gifts, thou didst in marvellous kindness consult and promise for his earthly comfort and felicity, in the institution of marriage.
Still more would we magnify and bless thy great mercy, that even in our present fallen and corrupt estate, wherein we deserve only anger and rebuke, thou still continuest to us, as a remnant of our lost and forfeited inheritance, the joys of connubial and domestic life.
Most blessed Saviour, who didst deign while Immanual, God with us, to grace a marriage feast; we would implore the condescension of thy gracious presence on this occasion. Look down in the plentitude of thy grace and goodness upon this bridal pair, who have now, in plighted faith, made an absolute disposal of themselves, the one to the other in love, according to their own appointment. Crown their union with thy rich favour. Bless their nuptial bands, and make them firm and abiding even unto life's end. Bless them in their persons. Bless them in their substance. Bless them in thier souls. Bless them in health and in sickness, in prosperity and adversity, in life and in death. And after death bless them with a happy reunion in that heavenly home, where there shall be no more parting, neither sickness, sorrow, or death, and where all tears shall be wiped away from every eye.
*From the Liturgy of the French Protestant Church.
And for all these, they mercies, we would now and ever praise thee, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to whom be glory and honour, both now and for evermore. Amen.
The Following Address May Be Used, in Place of That Given
in the Preceding Form. The relation of marriage which we are now about to constitute in the presence of God, and with the invocation of the Divine blessing, was established by God soon after the creation, during the state of man's innocence, in the earthly paradise. For the first benefit God gave to man was a society, and that society was a marriage. It was sanctioned by laws, and consecrated by a blessing; therefore God said, for this purpose shall a man leave his father and his mother, and cleave unto his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh.
The covenant of wedlock, which is the very bond of life, under whose united and consecrated canopy all the health and prosperity of the rising generation doth grow, solemnly recognizes the relations of the two great divisions of the human kind, and ratifies and confirms them by the laws of God and man; requiring on the part of man righteous, loving, and affectionate government; on the part of woman, duty and loving obedience in the Lord; and on the part of both, community of goods, interests, and affections.
Marriage is, therefore, between one man and one woman, as it was from the beginning, when God created them male and female-one man and one woman, that there might be one husband and one wife.