Marriage Its Origin, Uses, and Duties
ITS ORIGIN, USES, AND DUTIES.
ITS ORIGIN, USES, AND DUTIES.
DELIVERED IN THE NEW JERUSALEM CHURCH,
CROSS STREET, HATTON GARDEN, LONDON,
MARCH 3, 1850.
BY the Rev. W. BRUCE.
THE COMMITTEE OF THE NEW JERUSALEM CHURCH,
CROSS STREET, HATTON GARDEN.
AND MAY BE HAD OF
GEORGE SLATER, 252, STRAND.
BRADBURY AND EVANS, PRINTERS, WHITEPRIARS
The following Discourse, preached in compliance with the wish of several of the younger members of the Church in Cross Street, is now printed at the request of the congregation. The concluding section has been added, and some of the others enlarged, that the whole may be a still nearer approximation to what it is intended to be,—an outline of the views of the New Church on the subject.
"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, that 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." Matthew, xix., 3–6.
Marriage is intimately connected with the spiritual as well as with the temporal welfare and happiness of man, and therefore has high claims on our attention as a subject of religious contemplation. So intimate is this connection, that the state of marriage among the professing members of the Church is at all times an index of the state of the Church itself; for as this union corresponds to the marriage of the Lord and the Church, the state of the one must always keep pace with that of the other. This connection and correspondence are, however, so obscurely seen in the present day, that marriage is but little regarded in a spiritual light, or in relation to eternal life. That such is the fact, will not, however, appear surprising if we consider how much the Church her self has done to stamp upon marriage a carnal and earthly character, by having so early adopted, and so long triumphantly maintained, the opinion that, in a religious view, a state of celibacy is to be preferred to a state of wedlock, as being more chaste and spiritual, and therefore more agreeable to the mind of God, and more conducive to the salvation of man. This opinion is now indeed justly repudiated by a large portion of the Christian Church. But its root is far from being destroyed even in Protestant Christendom, where it is still an almost universally received opinion that marriage is an institution suited only to our grosser nature as inhabitants of the present world, and that the inclination which leads to it is of the flesh rather than of the spirit. Bishop Taylor, in his, in many respects, beautiful sermons upon marriage, remarks that, "of the two states, celibacy is the more pure, marriage the more useful;" which forces upon us the conclusion that in a divine institution purity and utility are at variance. Although, therefore, marriage is allowed to be a religious covenant, it is not believed to be a spiritual and eternal union. And when marriage is held to be only natural and temporary, there is reason to fear that all true spiritual love, from which it derives the whole of its purity and blessedness, is extinguished, and that nothing remains but the heat of the natural affections, which are admissive of no higher ends or purer enjoyments than those of the world and the flesh. It is much to be feared that, with, we trust, many honourable exceptions, the state of marriage in general is lamentably depreciated in its character and results.
An antidote to this prevailing naturalism, on a subject interwoven with the best interests of humanity, is, we believe, to be found in the views of the New Church, which place marriage in a much higher and holier light than that in which it is commonly regarded. It is my intention to give a brief outline of these views.
That we may obtain as comprehensive a view of the subject as our limits will permit, I shall consider—
First, The origin and ground of the distinction of sex.
Secondly, The origin and nature of marriage.
Thirdly, The uses of marriage.
Fourthly, The duties of marriage; and
Lastly, The indissoluble nature and everlasting duration of true marriage.
First, then, I am to consider the origin and ground of the distinction of sex.
Sex is commonly supposed to have had its origin in the purpose in the Divine mind that the woman should be a help to the man, and that they should multiply and replenish the earth. Hence, the distinction of sex is considered to be only natural in its character, and therefore to have no existence but in the natural world; whence angels and spirits are supposed to be of neither sex. From this it also follows that the affection which leads the sexes to desire an alliance with each other, is only a natural affection, in some way peculiar to the body, by the death of which, the tie of marriage, the most sacred of all ties, is believed to be at once and for ever dissolved. It is true that married partners, who tenderly love each other, look forward to reunion after death; few, however, even of these will be found disposed to admit that marriage exists, as marriage, in the spiritual world.
But if we attentively examine the testimony of Scripture on this point, we shall be enabled to discover that the distinction of sex had a far higher origin, and exists for a far higher end. In the book of Genesis it is written that "God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (i., 27). If then, man was created in the image of God, and male and female are both included in the term "man," we must look for the divine image, not only in each singly, but in both unitedly. Considered as human beings, each is equally an image of God; but, considered as male and female, each is an image of God, more especially as to a distinct principle of his Divine nature.
What, then, is that distinction in the Divine nature in which the distinction of sex had its origin, and of which it is the image? There are two principles which constitute the nature or essence of God,—LOVE and WISDOM. As God is Love itself, and Wisdom itself, man was created to be a recipient of love and wisdom from Him. Man, has, therefore, two distinct faculties for the reception of life from God,—a will for the reception of his love, and an understanding for the reception of his wisdom. Now, male and female alike possess both will and understanding, for neither would be human without them. But they do not possess both in an equal degree; and this forms one important ground of their distinction. In the male mind understanding predominates over will, whilst in the female mind will predominates over understanding; and as the mind takes its essential character from its predominant or most active power, the male mind is essentially intellect, and the female mind is essentially will. The man is distinguished for intellectual power, the woman for strength of affection: his character is forensic, hers is domestic. Between male and female, therefore, there is a distinction similar to that which exists between understanding and will; and as these were created to form one mind, those were created to form one "man." There is also a distinction between them similar to that which exists between love and wisdom, which the faculties of will and understanding were created to receive; the woman was created to be a form of love, the man to be a form of wisdom.
But the Scriptures give a still more particular view of the origin and ground of this distinction. In what appears as a second account of the creation, it is not simply stated, as in the first, that God created man, male and female; but that he first formed man from the dust of the ground, and afterwards made woman of a rib taken out of the man's side. We here find the same general truth, that "man" includes both male and female, but we acquire the additional particular truth, that "woman was taken out of man." Through the thin veil of this allegory we may discern the truth, that the feminine principle is a derivation from the masculine, that feminine love is derived from masculine wisdom. Let us glance at the moral or mental creation of man, that we may obtain some clear perception of this point.
The faculty of acquiring wisdom is that which distinguishes man from animals, and wisdom itself is that which raises him above them. As however, no intellectual acquirement can be made but from the promptings of some love, man cannot acquire wisdom but from the "LOVE OF GROWING WISE." This is that primary love which lies at the foundation of all human improvement, and gives man the power of endless progression. We see it in its earliest development in the thirst for knowledge, so ardent even in childhood. And that this love is a pure inspiration from the Father of lights, for the purpose of leading his children to himself is evident from the circumstance of its existing in the mind before there is any rational motive to give it birth. It is not, indeed, in its earliest state the spiritual love of growing wise, but it is at once a rudiment and a beautiful type of that love; and man never comes into the genuine love of which it is the germ, until he again becomes a little child, and is willing to be instructed in the wisdom that is from above by his Father who is in heaven. But when, from the love of growing wise, man has acquired wisdom, and loves that wisdom in himself, he forms to himself another love, which, to distinguish it from the first, we call the LOVE OF WISDOM. But as this is the love which a man has for his own wisdom, it is the pride of intelligence, or self conceit. If this love were to remain with the male human being it would destroy him, by re-acting against the former, and turning his wisdom into folly. It was, therefore, provided from creation that this latter love should be taken out of the man and implanted in the woman, for the purpose of effecting spiritual marriage, by which man is restored to a state of integrity. The love which man has for his own wisdom is the rib, the intellectual proprium or self-hood, which is taken out of the man and made into a woman, by which she becomes bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. By this beautiful act of creative wisdom, that which would have become in man the narrowest and most debasing self-love, has been transformed into an object of the most disinterested and ennobling affection. At the same time it is provided that the wisdom of the man shall still be loved, and he still loved for his wisdom; not by himself, but by another dearer to him than himself, whose love shall have a continual tendency to improvement and happiness. By this means it is also provided that the man shall be preserved in the single love, the love of growing wise, and the woman shall be kept in the single love, the love of the man's wisdom; from which they derive their faculty and inclination to re-unite, so as again to become as it were one man.
If this view of the subject be admitted, it will be perceived that sex is grounded in the very constitution of the human soul, and, therefore, that it is essentially spiritual, and consequently eternal.
II. Having spoken of the distinction of sex, we now come to speak of marriage itself, for the sake of which that distinction exists. As the distinction of the sexes had its first and highest origin in the distinction of love and wisdom in God, marriage has its first and highest origin in the union of love and wisdom in God. The union of love and wisdom in the Lord may truly be called THE DIVINE MARRIAGE. From this Divine marriage creation itself had its birth; for God created all things from his Divine love by his Divine wisdom. From this cause it is, that in all created things there is some resemblance of marriage. We see it in the union of heat and light in the sun, God's highest emblem in nature,—the united operation of which, as in the time of spring, produces a type of creation itself, the earth being then restored from its winterly, inanimate state to one of renewed order, life, and fertility, clothed anew with beauty, and determined anew to the production of uses. We see this resemblance in the economy of the animal, and even of the vegetable kingdom, by which the continuance of creation is provided for by successive generations. Nor is there a single object in nature, however minute, in which this resemblance may not be traced; for nothing exists which does not contain in itself something analogous to love and wisdom, and to their conjunction. Creation, therefore, from its highest spiritual to its lowest natural constituents, consists of a succession of forms produced from the united activity and operation of Divine love and wisdom,—forms, therefore, in which these may exist as in their created and finite receptacles. But the noblest of all created forms, are human minds, for they were so formed that the Divine love and wisdom might exist in them, not only as in their receptacles, but as in their images. And they exist in them as in their images, when man loves from the love of God and is wise from the wisdom of God—when love and wisdom from God are united in the human mind. The union of love and wisdom in the human mind we call THE HEAVENLY MARRIAGE, because it is a derivation from, and an image of the Divine marriage; and because it forms heaven in the soul, and thence gives birth to all those heavenly affections and thoughts, works and words, joys and delights, which make up the fulness and perfection of the heavenly life and of heaven itself. This holy union in human minds descends by gradations from the union of love and wisdom in the Divine mind. From that eternal union in the Most High, results the union of Divinity and Humanity in his own glorious person; from this is derived the marriage of the Lord and the Church; from this proceeds the marriage of love and wisdom in the mind of angels and men; and from this descends the marriage of husband and wife. Thus marriage in its true state is eminently spiritual, holy, and pure. True marriage then, while it has its first and highest origin in the union of love and wisdom in the Lord, has its immediate origin in the conjunction of love and wisdom in the minds of the parties themselves, who enter into the marriage covenant; and no real, because no spiritual union, can exist between two, unless each is a subject of this heavenly marriage. A pair may be said to be united in true marriage, when they love the image of God in each other, and the image of each other in themselves. Of such only can it be said, that God has joined them together; for those only can be said to derive their union from God, whose love for each other is grounded in love to him. Such are united in soul and in mind, as well as in body. It is important and consolatory to be assured, that, however rare in these days, marriages of this description are provided of the Lord for those who from an early age have loved, have wished, and have asked of Him a legitimate and lovely connection with one of the sex, shunning and abominating wandering lust. Marriage, as derived from the conjunction of love and wisdom, is to be carefully distinguished from all matrimonial connections that originate in merely natural affections; and it may be well to point out the distinction between them. There are two affections, perfectly distinct in themselves, and widely different in their character, in which marriage may originate. It may originate in THE LOVE OF THE SEX, or in CONJUGIAL LOVE. The love of the sex is a merely natural affection, common to man and to animals; but conjugial love is a spiritual affection peculiar to man, and which he has the capacity of acquiring by virtue of the rational nature with which the Creator has formed him. We say that man has the capacity of acquiring this love, for he is not born into it, as he is into the love of the sex, but comes into it when he is born again, it being an affection of that new nature which he acquires by regeneration. These two affections, while differing widely in their nature, have yet their first origin in the same Divine cause, for they are both derived from that CONJUGIAL SPHERE which proceeds from the Lord and pervades the universe, and from which all creatures are inspired with the affection of conjunctive love, and all inanimate creation with a principle analogous to it. This Divine sphere is received by every one and every thing according to their form and state. When it is received in the natural or animal mind of man, it gives birth to the natural love of the sex; but when it is received in the spiritual mind, it gives birth to conjugial love. But as the spiritual mind is opened, or as man becomes spiritually minded, only by regeneration, the regenerate only can be the subjects of conjugial love. Those who have not entered on the religious life can have no true knowledge of the nature of this love; for natural love can never, by any restrictions or refinements, become spiritual, and none but spiritual love can be attended with spiritual delight and blessedness.
Two who are united in the bond of marriage are said to be no more twain but one flesh. Flesh is a Scriptural term for human nature, specifically as to the principle of love or goodness which constitutes the life of the human will. To be one flesh is to be so united as to be one in heart and mind—to have one will and one way. This, however, is a state which can only be effected by degrees, during the progress of the conjugial life; and to form the youth into a husband and the virgin into a wife, is one of the uses which are to be wrought out in marriage. These we now proceed to consider.
III. The uses of marriage may be considered as natural and spiritual, or such as relate to the body and the world, and such as relate to the soul and heaven. Yet its natural uses, though distinct from those which are spiritual, were designed to make one with them; and some of its uses, which are commonly regarded as only natural, are, at the same time, eminently spiritual. Thus, while marriage serves the natural use of populating the earth, it is also the source whence heaven is supplied with inhabitants. Without marriage heaven would fail, and human society would be dissolved. Marriage not only provides in all possible cases against the moral and spiritual degeneracy of our race, but, in its orderly condition and right state, provides for their moral and spiritual improvement, by imparting to children better hereditary inclinations, and in affording them such instruction and training as are calculated to make them useful members of society in this world, and happy subjects of the Lord's kingdom in the world to come. Marriage is also the origin of all the ties of relationship, and consequently of all the affections which form them, and which are the chords whose vibrations first awaken tender emotions in the heart. Were not the infant from its birth the subject of the endearments of maternal and paternal love, and successively of the other relative affections, the soul would remain in a great measure desolate and unapproachable, and the very capacity of love to God and mutual love would lie dormant within it. Marriage is, therefore, the divinely-appointed means of introducing the human being into all the natural affections, which are the mediums through which the spiritual are acquired.
Children born of parents who are merely in a natural and not a spiritual state of life, are not, indeed, to be considered as being without the faculty, or destitute of all the means of becoming spiritual when they grow up. Every one, whether descended from good or evil parents, inherits the conjugial principle, and the faculty of becoming a subject of the heavenly marriage, and an inhabitant of heaven. This principle, and this faculty, are in the inmost of every human soul, where the Lord is present with his love and wisdom united. From this secret place of the Most High, the spheres of his love and wisdom descend through the mind into the body, and from them the spiritual derive conjugial love, the natural the love of the sex, and both the love of offspring. Although none but the good can love their conjugial partners, the evil as well as the good can love their children, and in some cases do love them with a more intense, though with a much less pure affection. But, besides the conjugial principle and faculty implanted from creation in all souls, every one derives from his parents a particular inclination in favour of that which they, and even his more remote ancestors, have made a principle of life. From those who are united in love truly conjugial, children derive an inclination to perceive the things of wisdom, and to love the things which wisdom teaches; and when to this we add the superior principles by which spiritually minded parents are actuated in the education of their children,—to fit them not only for this world but for another,—we cannot but conclude that marriage is the true seminary of heaven, as well as the legitimate means of replenishing the earth. Parents, therefore, who have any real love for their offspring, and any true perception of their best interests, may see that one of the most important uses which they can perform to those immortals whom Divine Providence has entrusted to their care, is to co-operate with the Lord in preparing them for an eternity of happiness.
Marriage provides most effectually for these and all kindred uses, because it is that state of life most favourable to the growth both of natural and spiritual virtue, and thence to the formation of the heavenly life. That state of life has the greatest tendency to spiritualise the mind, which tends most to weaken self-love, and to strengthen mutual affection. And one of the principal uses of the married life is its constant tendency to draw out the affections, and place them on other objects than self. True love for a conjugial partner surpasses in excellence all other kinds of mutual affection. Being more deeply rooted in the human heart,—having, indeed, a deeper ground in the constitution of our nature,—its sympathies and its duties, its sorrows and its joys, call into action more interior principles of our minds, and, affecting us more deeply, act upon us more powerfully and beneficially. While married life affords the highest means for drawing out and strengthening all the good affections, it appeals to the best motives for controlling the evil propensities. To deny ourselves of any selfish gratification, or any evil temper for the sake of another's happiness, is a still higher motive than to do so for the sake of our own. This voluntary and habitual work of self-denial, while it is one of the truest signs of genuine love, is one of the highest uses of real marriage. Wherever there is love, there is fear, fear to injure, and thus to alienate, the object loved. This use of marriage is strikingly pointed out in the words of our text: "For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife." This does not merely refer to a man's leaving the paternal roof to become the head of a new household. The father and mother, spiritually understood, are the hereditary principles which he inherits from his parents.
IV. We now come, fourthly, to point out some of the duties of marriage.
There is no greater error, yet none more common, than to expect results without performing the duties, or complying with the conditions, which are necessary to secure them; and in no case, perhaps, does this prevail to a greater extent than in that of marriage. The lover luxuriates in the idea of exalted felicity in possessing the object of his affections; but so frequently does possession end in disappointment, that those early anticipations have come to be very generally regarded as the creations of a romantic feeling. There is not, however, any real incompatibility between the ideal and the actual in marriage. If married partners would continue to love each other as exclusively and tenderly and deferentially as in the days of courtship, there would be fewer complaints of disappointed hopes and diminished happiness. When such results follow the consummation of the union, it may be concluded either that the affection has been altogether natural, or that any spirituality it possessed has been dissipated by the neglect or violation of the duties of the marriage covenant. Of the two affections from which marriage is generally contracted, the love of the sex is frequently more ardent than conjugial love; but having nothing of its singleness and purity, it has nothing of its constancy and endurance. Yet so long as that love is devoted to one object only, as in the time of courtship, and during the first days of marriage, it emulates conjugial love, as in its singleness, so in its delightfulness. There is this essential difference between natural and spiritual love, that spiritual love is the love of one only of the sex: natural love is inherently the love of variety, and languishes under that restriction which spiritual love delights in. True love can only exist in unity. To divide is to destroy it. From the moment that the chosen partner ceases to be loved with the whole affection, from that moment the real conjugial connection is dissolved, and with it all the true delight of marriage. The first duty, therefore, of married partners is to cherish that exclusive love for each other, on which their union and mutual happiness depend, and to guard against every temptation to weaken or divide it.
One of the duties on which union and happiness greatly depend, is that of acting in all things in unity from love, that each may be left in the enjoyment of freedom; since it is impossible for any mutual love or happiness to exist where one party assumes dominion, and reduces the other to a state of servitude.
The reasonable ground of this is the perfect equality of the sexes. Equally created into the image and likeness of God, equally possessed of the human faculties of will and understanding, and equally designed for an immortality of happiness, they stand in the sight of God on a footing of perfect equality. Women are not inferior to men even in their boasted power of understanding. Although the understanding of the woman is less active than that of the man, it is not less excellent. The masculine intellect is more reflective than perceptive; the feminine intellect is more perceptive than reflective. Women have a fine perception of truth as a practical principle—of its beauties and uses—of what in one word may be called the good of truth, although they are not constitutionally fitted for that rational analysis and severe study necessary for pursuing the higher walks of intellectual labour. But the equality of the sexes is not an equality of sameness, but of diversity. Their diversity is the ground of their unity. It is because they are so completely two, that they are capable of becoming so perfectly one. Each has peculiar and incommunicable excellencies. And this distinction of character ought to be scrupulously preserved; for the more it is preserved, the more capable are they of interior union. It is only what is purely masculine in the male, and what is purely feminine in the female that can enter into such a union as constitutes a marriage. Whatever, therefore, either acquires or assumes which is proper to the other, must obstruct their union, and cannot fail to disturb their harmony, and mar their happiness. We therefore find in the Holy Scriptures a law against this violation of order. "The man shall not put on the garments of the woman, neither shall the woman wear what pertaineth to the man." The masculine and feminine principles are the workmanship of God; but on man devolves the duty of clothing them with suitable ideas, habits, and manners. It is possible for the human agent in this important labour to pervert the order and destroy the beauty of the Divine works, by making the outward character in some measure the reverse of the inward principle. From false views of the equality of the sexes, woman is most in danger. The feminine mind may come to be invested in masculine intelligence, which in itself is hard, daring, and fond of licentiousness, instead of being clothed in the soft raiment of feminine wisdom, which in itself is yielding, modest, pacific, and tender.
If one of the highest uses of marriage consists in the higher capacity and better opportunities it affords for promoting advancement in the life of heaven, its highest duties must consist in those which leave the parties in the best condition for spiritual progression. The absence of all inclination to govern by mere authority is essential to the very existence of conjugial love. This liberty does not imply a license for either party to follow freely any vicious inclination, or any course inimical to their conjugial or domestic happiness. It implies liberty in all things that are orderly,–the free enjoyment of the rights which belong to the husband and wife, as parties in a covenant, the benefits of which can only be truly realised by the freest affection—by mutual service yielded by love, not extorted by fear. True love ever desires reciprocation; and love can only be reciprocated by love; but there can neither be love nor reciprocation, except where there is liberty.
I have not dwelt on the economical duties of marriage,—some of which are proper to the husband, and others to the wife,—as the distinction is well known and acknowledged. These duties, equally important and useful, are intended to meet in the common uses of marriage—order, comfort, and happiness. The rearing and education of children, where Providence has seen good to bestow them, is a duty in which a more immediate co-operation is required; and where unity of mind, and plan, and all the virtues of conjugial love are essentially necessary to full success.
V. I now come lastly to show the indissoluble nature and everlasting duration of true marriage.
Under this head, it is my intention to show that true marriage is not a temporary, but an eternal union—that it exists in heaven as well as upon earth. This I consider necessary to be clearly seen, believing that there can be no real acknowledgment of the spirituality of marriage so long as its fitness for heaven is doubted, much less when it is denied. That marriage exists in heaven follows as a conclusion from what has already been advanced on the subject. If, as we have seen, sex is grounded in the very constitution of the human soul, and is thus essentially spiritual, it cannot but exist in the spiritual world. If marriage is essentially a union of souls, death cannot dissolve it: if it is chaste, pure, and holy, it cannot be unworthy of a place in that kingdom inhabited by the pure in heart. Indeed, if marriage exists in its purity only with the heavenly-minded, where can it exist in its perfection but in heaven itself? Is it reasonable to suppose that a union which becomes more interior and happy as the parties become more matured in the life of heaven, shall be broken off at the very threshold of eternity? How unlike, then, must be the state of preparation to the state of enjoyment! Nor would those states be unlike in one particular, but in all particulars. If sex could be abolished, and the conjugial principle rooted out from the soul, the state of the human being would undergo a change so great as to leave hardly any trace of his own identity; and he would have to begin to live from some new principle of thought and affection, if a neuter soul could be supposed to live from any principle of thought and affection whatever. But such a change in the constitution and state of man is in the nature of things impossible. It may be safely affirmed, that no affection which God has implanted in our nature can ever be destroyed. Regeneration and death effect, it is true, important changes in the state and condition of the human being, but neither of them can eradicate a single affection of his nature. Regeneration purifies and regulates all the affections, but destroys none; and death, though it appears to extinguish life, only severs the connection between soul and body, when the soul, which is the real man, enters the eternal world in full possession of all the affections and powers which he ever enjoyed in this life, and therefore capable of all the attachments and relationships which had been formed from them.
But the present question is supposed to have been placed beyond all reasoning, and set entirely at rest by the declaration of the Lord himself, that in heaven they neither marry, nor are given in marriage. A brief examination of this passage may therefore be necessary. The Lord's words are these—"The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage; but they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage, neither can they die any more, for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection." (Luke, xx., 34-36.) In refuting his adversaries, the Lord, in using their own language, does not always employ it to express their own opinions, but conveys a spiritual truth in words which they had used to express a carnal idea. The Sadducees, in the present instance, spake of a carnal resurrection, and of a carnal marriage; but the Lord's language cannot be understood in such a sense. That of which our Lord spake is a resurrection which not all obtain, but only "they which shall be accounted worthy,"—a resurrection which makes them "the children of God, and equal unto the angels," and which must be primarily a resurrection from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness. If then, the Lord spake of a spiritual resurrection, which takes place during the present life, it is but consistent to conclude that he spake also of a spiritual marriage, which likewise takes place during the present life. This is the heavenly marriage—the conjunction of love and wisdom in the human mind, and which, if not effected here, cannot be given hereafter. That this view of the passage is correct, may appear from what is said of "the children of this world;" by whom are not meant the people of the world in general, but the worldly minded in particular, and who are therefore placed in opposition to the children of God, and of the resurrection. Such are the subjects of the Infernal Marriage, which is the conjunction of evil and falsehood, which constitutes the kingdom of darkness in the human soul, and leads to endless misery.
It is not, therefore, to be supposed that marriage does not exist in heaven. Heaven itself is a marriage, and true marriage is heaven. They whom God has created for each other, must be eternally as well as spiritually one, when God himself has once joined them together.
In concluding this Discourse, I would earnestly call the attention of the younger members of the Church especially to the importance of regarding marriage as essentially a spiritual union, which cannot exist in its true state but in connection with pure and undefiled religion. Marriage is not of man, but of God. It cannot be derived from any combination of earthly affection and worldly prudence; it descends only from the marriage of heavenly love and wisdom in the mind, which looks not merely to temporal but also to eternal happiness. Those who would hope to reap its spiritual benefits, should remember that the choice or election of a partner must be made, not only from the promptings of love, but according to the dictates of wisdom. Natural love only is blind. Wisdom is the middle principle between genuine masculine and feminine love. It is true that they meet, and know and approve each other. Nor can true masculine and feminine love meet but in wisdom, for they only love truly who love wisely. Marriage, grounded in genuine love, and sanctioned by genuine wisdom, will be found to realise its highest promises. Conjugial love, before marriage, is like the bud of the beautiful flower—the flower as yet folded and wrapped in its coverings. Marriage unfolds and makes it sensible. Marriage is thus the expanded blossom of conjugial love, where the beauties of its refined intelligence are displayed, where the odours of its delicate perceptions are exhaled, where the nectar of its pure, delights is distilled, and where new affections and perceptions of the good and the true are continually produced.
If such a state of marriage is rare, it is in consequence of the rarity of genuine practical religion, and of not immediately approaching in worship the Lord Jesus Christ. Such was its state once upon earth, and such is its state in heaven. If we would enjoy it ourselves, let us cultivate with all the heart that practical religion which consists in loving the Lord and keeping his commandments. Let us from the inmost convictions of the soul approach in worship the Lord Jesus Christ, as one with the Father and the only God. Thus cultivating the state from which conjugial love descends we may hope to enjoy it in its purity, in some degree, here, and fully hereafter.
BRADBURY AND EVANS, PRINTERS, WHITEFRIARS.
- By wisdom, we mean the highest intelligence, and by love, the highest good, which include in themselves those of every lower kind and degree. Thus, love and wisdom include goodness and truth, charity and faith, affection and science. We use the terms love and wisdom throughout the Discourse, for the sake of simplicity, and to prevent confusion of idea with such as may not see the connection of meaning between the relative terms.