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As it was thus ordained by God for the mutual help of husband and wife, this sacred obligation should be formed at the altar of piety. It should have infused into it the sweetness of affection, and be hallowed with the unction of grace; that it may prove itself to be the bond whereby you shall be bound in love and communion, in holy concord, in loving offices, in every growing and endearing regard, the one to the other. Thus shall it be found in God, the completion of your being and the fountain of joy, the solace in all earthly sorrows—the best state of preparation for the future, and for the full enjoyment of the blessedness of Christ-the restorer of our corrupt nature, who honored the nuptial rites with His presence and first miracle.
What God hath deemed it no degradation of His majesty to institute—what our Lord Jesus Christ sanctified with His presence—what the Holy Apostles pronounced to be honourable in all, and dignified by their own participation of it-do you, who are now to be united together, honour and approve in the truth, faithfulness, and oneness of a united heart, and an undivided affection one toward another. And may the blessing of that heavenly parent who ordained it—of that Divine Redeemer who re-appointed it—and of the ever blessed Spirit, the source of all grace and comfort, rest upon you and abide with you forever. Amen.
HUGUENOT MARRIAGE SERVICE.
The following is a copy of the nuptial celebrations practised by the Huguenots of France, as drawn up by the immortal Calvin. A translation of it, with a few omissions, may, perhaps, be acceptable.
At the conclusion of the general prayer on the Lord's day, the officiating Minister having taken his station at the communion table, and the candidates for the yoke have taken theirs, he begins
"The Great God! our Father who is in Heaven, having created man in His own image, a similitude for Himself, and gave him dominion over the beasts of the field, the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea, is declared to have said within himself, 'It is not good for man to be alone,' and therefore proceeded to prepare 'an help-mate for him.'”
[Here the two accounts of the creation of woman was read. Gen. i. and ii.]
“ "Therefore,' continues the sacred historian, 'must a man leave his father and his mother, and cleave unto his wife,' and to her only. The husband must love his wife, as Jesus loved the church, for which He laid down His life-that is unto death.
“In like manner, must the wife cleave unto the husband, and love him and abide with him in all holiness and gentleness, till death shall part them.
"From the solemnization of this ordinance, instituted by God, the husband is no longer his own; he is consecrated to his wife: he is hers; in like manner, the wife is no longer her own; she is sacred to her husband; she is his! Nor may either of them violate the sancity they owe to each other. Ye are temples of the living God; and if any one pollute those sanctuaries, him will God destroy: what God hath conjoined, may no one disjoin.
[Here I Cor. vii. is read, which certainly might be as well read at home. ]
This over, the Minister proceeded:
“You A. and you B. are aware that the solemn contract into which you are about to enter, is the ordinance of God. Are you prepared to live together as the Most High requires, in holy bonds; in the sacred wedlock which God appointed, and Jesus honoured by His first miracle?
“As you evidently indicate by appearing, as you do appear before this holy congregation, to await His assent, is it your fixed intention so to live with each other?
"A. It is! "B. It is!
"Looking around on the congregation, I call, says the Minister, on every one here present who witnesses what we do; I call on you, I entreat you, I beseech you speak now-recollect yourselves and say-Is there any impediment which should hinder this pair; this man and this woman from being united in holy matrimony, as in the presence of the Great God? I charge you speak.
"Since there exists no obstacle to it,
"You, A. avow before God, and His holy congregation, that you have chosen this B. to be your wife! You pledge yourself to watch over, to love her, to cherish her, as a faithful and affectionate husband ought to watch over, love, and cherish, the wife of his bosom; to love with her in hallowed sanctity, constant and true to her to the last; according to the ordinance of God and the gospel!
“A. I pledge myself so to do!
"You B. vow before God, and His holy congregation, that you have chosen this A, for your husband! You pledge yourself to him to be his help-mate; to serve and obey him in love; to be constant and true to him in every thing, as an affectionate wife ought to be, according to the ordinance of God and the gospel !
"B. I pledge myself so to do.
"Then, the Lord! the Lord God! confirms your hallowed purpose; and in His name be it accomplished; the Lord, the Lord God, who hath called you in His grace and mercy to His holy estate, pour out his Holy Spirit upon you, that you may serve Him in unity and honour with one accord.
“Receive the instructions above read-pronounced by Jesus -recorded by His evangelists, and know, and be sure, that as the Most High has joined your hands, He will require it of you that you keep your pledges, and live together in affection, in holiness, in peace, in unity, condescending to each other, faithful to each other, true to each other, as God hath commanded.
“Let us pray with one heart and with one soul.
“O Thou! All-powerful, All-wise, All-good, who from the beginning, didst foresee that it could not be good for man to be alone, and therefore did prepare a meet help-mate for him, and command that the two should no longer be two, but one; we humbly pray, we devoutly beseech thee, that as thou hast been pleased to call these thy servants, to the holy state of nuptial union, thou wouldst also be pleased, in thy grace and mercy, to bestow upon them the rich effusions of thy favour; that in true and holy love, in fidelity not to be shaken; in mutual tenderness and sympathy, they may live ;-subduing every evil propensity, in constant kindness and correctness, edifying each other, blessing each other, blessed by thee, as were the patriarchs of old, blessings to the community; that, nurtured and admonished in the Lord, their children may rise up to call them blessed; with them to praise and serve thee to their own good, and to the good of those around them, a general blessing!
“Here us, O Lord! God of all mercy through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
“The Lord bless you—the Lord keep you and cause his face to shine upon you! In fulness of grace, and in all good may you live long, in holiness, in happiness.
“Amen! Amen! Amen!"
This service, says one, is beautiful; it is touching, is solemn. In every respect appropriate to the covenant contracted; the effect of which is to last to eternity; its olden ideas, and olden modes of expression, are of course modernized, but whether in olden or modern verbiage, comes from the heart-it goes to the heart, and hard must the heart be which cannot be affected by it. The practice of solemnization on the Lord's day, is perhaps worthy of all imitation; there cannot be too many witnesses to the bond; and scarcely, under such a regime, could there be any improper marriages, nor can those who have been long wedded, be reminded of the obligation they have taken upon themselves too often. Would it not be an improvement, were the bridegroom on pronouncing, “I pledge myself so to do," to give the bride his hand; and the bride, on her pronouncing "I pledge myseif so to do," to offer her hand and receive the ring? The ring is a sort of household pledge, it is a constant remembrance of a circle of duties, never to be interrupted but in sacrilege; never to be modified, never compromised. The Scriptures appropriate to the occasion, were better read from the pulpit before the ceremony begins. It should be as short as possible; it cannot but be painful to a blushing, timid, female to stand long in the fixed gaze of the congregation.