"AND the Lord said, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh" (Genesis).
"Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church" (Ephesians).
Husbands love your wives, even as Christ alsc loved the church, and gave himself for it. He that loveth his wife loveth himself " (Ephesians).
Marriage is the first, and among the holiest and the most binding of all the ordinances of God. It was instituted during man's innocency, amid the yet unblighted bowers of the Eden of love, where the Father united, with His own hand, the first created pair. This ordinance was ratified at the marriage of Cana, by the Eternal Son. It was confirmed by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit through the apostles, who declared it honourable and binding among men.
Emanating thus directly from supreme authority and preceding all other social and civil compacts
this ordinance can never pass away, or undergo change in the progress and mutations of society. It contemplates no dissolutions of its obligations; having survived the ruin of sin and the wreck of empires and ages, it will ever remain the same and immutable, the law of love and goodness, the only foundation of government, social order and domestic felicity.
You have come to lay upon the altar of mutual devotion, the sacrifice of united and loving hearts. To the golden hand of conjugal love alone is given the key of earthly happiness. Selfishness, in the contraction of this relation, is the great bane of human bliss and the deadly blight of human hope or social development. Avarice, like jealousy, is as cruel as the grave; and they scruple not to break, with fiendish hand, the tenderest and the most sacred ties, when disappointed or provoked. But, save the love we owe to God, there is none purer, holier and more vital than that which binds, for life, the virtue of womanhood to the integrity of manhood. Every other relation of life may be broken; but love is stronger than death.
Marriage, then, is God's noblest, holiest, first and most binding earthly obligation upon man. It is to be presumed, therefore, that you have taken this step wisely, discreetly and in the fear of God.
Dear sir, the word husband means houseband. You are to be the band which binds, in golden chains, the strong pillars of domestic support and
comfort to their deep and lofty sockets, in that temple of love which you are about to erect to the mistress of your manly devotion. With that temperance, prudence, piety, industry, providence and thrift which should mark the loving care of wife and family, there is no power which can ever break this band of the household asunder. Polished and brilliant, too, in the exercise of constant kindness, of gentler attentions, of fireside responsibilities, of mutual forbearance, of unbosomed confidence, and of faithful companionship, this band must shine, like a golden sun, unto the bosom of the household; not only amid the smiles of plenty and peace, but through the darkness and the shadows of sorrow, adversity, temptation, trial and peril; and upon the heart of her whom you now bear away from the smiles and happiness of a delightful and beautiful home.
Dear miss, the word wife comes from the word weave. The loom no longer rings through the households of our country; but in the word wife is wrapped up the beautiful hint of home industry and home happiness. The value and importance once attached to the loom is written, too, in the word heirloom, which involves the preciousness of household treasures, handed down from generation to generation. You must weave, with amaranthine flowers, a wreath of joy and beauty around the strong pillars of household comfort and support. In your bosom are the sparkling jewels of
domestic felicity. "A good wife is heaven's last, best gift to man; his angel of mercy; minister of graces innumerable; his gem of many virtues; his casket of diamonds." Remember that your voice will be your husband's music; your smiles his day; your kiss the guardian of his innocence; your arms the pale of his safety; your lips his best counsellor; your industry and economy his wealth; and, above all, your piety and prayers, heaven's blessing and advocate.
In token of a due consideration upon your part of the nature and obligations of the relation you are about to assume, and in token of your mutual and decided choice of each other as partners for life, you will join your right hands.
By this token you do both solemnly promise, in the presence of Almighty God and these witnesses, that you will take each other as husband and wife; and that, taking the word of God for your guide, you will practice all those offices of kindness, affection and duty which the word of God prescribes upon this relation. Do you both mutually promise? (We do.)
Have you any further token by which you would seal your mutual obligation? (A ring is presented.)
Behold this beautiful ring! It is the symbol of eternity and of an unbroken union. It indicates that as death alone can dissolve the soul and body, so nothing but death can separate man and wife.
Sir, do you give this ring as a further token of that love, honour, comfort, support and protection with which you will ever cherish her as your lawful and wedded wife? (I do.)
Miss, do you receive this ring as a further token of that love, honour and dutifulness with which you will ever cherish him as your lawful and wedded husband? (I do.)
Sir, you will now place it upon her hand, in fulfilment of these mutual vows. May it prove the symbol of that richer and brighter circle of matured friendship and enjoyments, which shall gird you in after life, and of that brighter link of faith which shall bind you in Christ, together, around the throne of God.
And now, agreeably to the laws of God and of this state, and in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, I pronounce you husband and wife; and what God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. And now let this be the motto of each:
"From this hour the pledge is given,
From this hour my soul is thine;
Come what will, from earth or heaven,
Weal or woe, thy fate be mine."
Gracious God, our heavenly Father, sanctify and solemnize the vows which have here been taken, and confirm the covenant made. Let the results
of this hour alone redound to the glory of Thy salvation. Guide and direct them infallibly through life. Bind them to a mutual love Christ, and crown them with glory by Thy Spirit. All this we ask through our Redeemer. Amen.
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