Great wisdom is shown in the twofold organi zation of our race. God has thus made full pro vision for its preservation and progress, if men and women do "lot abuse the trust He has committed to them as creators. Marriage is a sacred ordinance; our Saviour has indorsed and repeated the primal law of monogamic marriage, and teaches that its bonds are as strong as the forces of organic life, and can be broken only by adultery and death.
" And they twain shall be one flesh : so then they are no more twain but one flesh; what, therefore, God bath joined together, let not man put asunder." The fixed law of Christian marriage guards the great trust of parentage faithfully; and it should, for every child's interest is sacred and eternal.
No act of consecration is more solemn than that taken in the vows of marriage, none reaches such momentous interests, none calls for more conscientious obedience to God and the right. Surely no sacra ment can be more basely dishonored.
To our first parents in Eden, and again to Noah and his sons, the same command was given in the same words, "Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth." This is the first Divine direction given regarding this mysterious union, and any holding of the duties or obligations of marriage which prevents the holiest obedience to its first great end cannot but be wrong.
The word " fruitful," in His command, cannot mean less than full fruitage. This cannot indicate, of a field or tree, a poor or scanty fruit-bearing, and does it mean less, referring to the regal gift of im mortality? The picture of a true Christian marriage is so clearly given in Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus, that it should be studied and understood in every home. " Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." This surely means consecration to God, to the husband and home, in meeting every duty which he places upon wives and mothers, in the natural order of things, and in his Word. " For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church : and he is the Saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything." It is only as the church obeys her Head in all her mission, and, laying aside every narrow, unworthy self-interest, shares with him his exalted work, that she finds him a Saviour of the body. The wife, in the same spirit of consecration, should receive the precious office of wife, mother, and cherisher of. the home, knowing surely she will find thus God's richest blessing. The true husband, in all his willing ministry to wife and home, like the great Head of the church, becomes a saviour.
" Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to him self a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish." Blessed is that husband who can present before God the mother and her children, those trea sures of immortality entrusted to his keeping, " with out spot or wrinkle, or any such thing," caused by his disregard of their rightful claims upon him. " So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church : for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." No more near or precious relation could exist be tween heavenly or earthly friends, than is shown in this type of closest union and sympathy. " For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh." When husbands and wives take upon them the holy trust of marriage, as thus defined, the mystery of a hallowed and exalted parentage will be its crowning glory and eternal joy. " Nevertheless, let
every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself : and the wife see that she reverence her husband." How may a wife reverence a degraded, besotted husband? or honor be given to such a father or mother? I have seen this precept fully obeyed in the case of a pure, noble mother and her children. The husband in early life held positions of trust, but before mid-life became blighted with the love of drink, and died a drunkard. During the years of my intimate knowledge of that home, no disrespectful word or act was shown that father, from one member of his family, though every child was cut short in all the rightful gifts of being. Three of the elder of eight children, who still live, show, in advancing years, an integrity of character, rare with their limita tions and bias of endowment, which they owed to the patient, saintly mother. A marriage not based upon those characteristics which help to form a sincere, honest friendship, and the spirit that seeks the good of the chosen friend equally with our own, cannot be a happy one. Selfishness here, as everywhere, eats its own heart out, and lays the fault too often to others.
A marriage contracted without looking honestly to its natural outcome in children, that does not con sider their interests as we would ask to have our own considered, is radically wrong. I do not now make any reference to the externals of money, position, or education, for these are in every way of secondary in terest to those conditions of soul or body that must cripple or degrade the children in any or all of the rightful qualities of being.
It should always be borne in mind that marriage touches the weal of children and children's children. If ignorance, thoughtlessness, or simple selfish con siderations lead us to set aside honest duty to those whose interest should be as near and dear as that of our own life, we take a sure way to blight our own happiness. As marriage brings higher and broader obligation, more blessings, and a more responsible life than any other, so it takes more grace to live such a life well, than to live a happy useful life of celibacy.
What can I say to those husbands and wives who find that serious differences are driving them farther and farther apart? Many of these causes of alienation probably commenced in selfish habits, from which you should have earnestly sought and found redemption before your marriage, and surely, now, victory over them would be one of the noblest at tainments within your reach. By far the largest share of the bitter antagonisms of marriage are curable, if each would do right, and do it at what ever personal cost or sacrifice it might require, although it is hard to stand patiently alone in self subjection to duty and the precious interests of home and children. If insane conditions arise, incurable physical ills, or diseased actions of the genesic func tions or organs (see Part II., Chapter 3) the advice of some good physician who has made such ailments a careful study should be sought and followed faith fully. The diseased or erring one must not be left, from feelings of disgust or despair, but helped to return to the habits of a sound mind in a sound body as far as possible.
It should not be forgotten that what we do, moulds soul and body into likeness to the act, and repeating any wrong, or unhealthful mental or physical habit, only makes it more fixed and imperious.
Let the husband be to his wife, in all just rule, restraint, and protection, a father, as much as to his children. So the wife should be to her husband, as to her children, a cherishing mother, a guide, and check, in all elevating moral restraint. True love ever sacrifices itself for the good of the one beloved, whether husband, lover, wife, or beloved child, or friend, or the outcast and degraded, whom it would seek to save.