Page images
PDF
EPUB

announcing marriage as the foundation of human society. We perceive its character marked in lines which are inidelible--a connexion death only could dissolve--wherever it should exist, the same-of equal obligation with every people, and in every country, through all the generations of man.

The notion of the original designation of one man for one woman, and of the necessary physical adaptation of the male to the female (neither of them to be disunited or joined to another male or female without violence to the law of nature) is well illustrated by the rabbinical fiction, “ Man was double what he now is ; but in conse

quence of his rebellion, was cut usunder and made two beings." "Hence the restless misery of our fallen

race; every one unhappy, till he rejoins his lost half," “ Seldom are the primitive parts united."

" Vainly “ anxious to recover his vagrant portion, man grasps at “ what belongs not to himself: And in heterogeneous

conjunctions spring up our infelicities and vices.”

It were pleasant to hail the harmony of the first couple-alas ! of short duration! Placed in the garden of Eden, and permitted to eat freely of “ every tree, except " the tree of knowlege of good and evil,”—to eat of which tree, was death-Adam had to regard, in his Creator, the benefactor and the friend--the lawgiver and the judge. He saw himself in a state of bappiness; but he saw himself, also, in a state of trial. Here was the proof of his dependence; the test of his fidelity. Such was the situation of Adam: He was still in solitude. But it did not appear“ good,” that he should “ live alone :"> Out of man, therefore, was woman created : And “ the “woman was brought unto the man; and they were one 6 flesh.” And God blessed them, and said : Be fruit“ ful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue “it.”

That Eve was soon apprized of her station in the new. ly-created world, and not less than her husband aware of her dependence upon God, the above passage must evince 10 say nothing of her own account of herself - We may

eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden.”. “ Bul " of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the

garden, God hath said: Ye shall not eat of it, lest ye “6 die." * To God their Creator and preserver, they must bave poured out their hearts in gratitude and love; and bave felt their regard for each other, more and incre eulivened, from the consciousness, that they were equally sustained by his power and cherished by his goodness. Adam had returned thanks to the Almighty for that last best gift-his wife : Nor had Eve been insensible to the comforts of the married state ; nor unmindful of Hiu from whom they flowed. Not that their satisfaction: had no alloy, from apprehension for each other's safety.

* Gen. iii, 2, 3.

In the view of the forbidden tree, there must have glanced over their minds a mutual fear.

That, though pure in unspotted innocence, his wise might through weakness, transgress the command of the Lord God, and forfeit the glorious gift of immortality, must have occurred to Adam : Nor could Eve have escaped a similar reflection.

This was the first covenant of God with man. 110prest with a deep sense of its importance, our progenitors must have entertained a respect and esteem for each other increasing every day, and giving dignity and stability to their love. From such sentiments was derived a corresponding course of action : And the relative duties of the husband and the wife had their source in the religious principle,--the love and fear of Gort.

Since, then,' “ man was not created for the woman, “ but the woman for the man," and, whilst “ the woman “ was the glory of the man,” the “ man was the image “ and glory of God,” his evident superiority, surely, prompted him to instruct his wife in divine and human knowlege, to lend her his support in her services to God, and to assist her in her daily occupations. Yet were they free agents alike. They were both account.

able creatures. . Amidst all his paternal communications, : the Lord God had left 10 the man the liberty of choice between good and evil. It would, therefore, have ill become Adam to watch the actions of his helpmate, as a father watches over the imbecility of childhood. Of the duty of Eve to her husband, respect and affectionate attention are the obvious characters: “ The woman “ (says St. Paul in allusion to the first couple) is not “ suffered to teach or to usurp authority over the man ; “ but to be in silence." “ For Adam was first formed; 6 then Eve." Yet, with all her sense of this subjection, with a full perception of her own inferiority, she must, doubtless, have been aware, that she was “ flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone,” and that she was made “ a help meet" for Adam—a companion and a friend. Her reverence, therefore, for her husband, was as a tribute from an intelligent Imind and a generous heart, free from all servility. Whilst she honoured him, as a being who walked with God, she loved him as one, whose nature was congenial with her own.

From this prospect of our first parents in the garden of Eden, it may fairly be concluded, that marriage is of divine appointment—that it is a union once existing, never to be done uwuythat the relative duties of the husband and the wife have their origin in the religious principle, and that connubial happiness must depend on the love and the fear of God.

If we look to the first pair in the fall from their primitive estate, what a change shall we contemplate ! “The eyes of them both were opened ; and they knew " that they were naked.” And they heard“ the voice

of the Lord God ;" and they fled from his presence. Feeling the impurity of their souls, they blushed at the nakedness of their bodies. In that transgression was included a variety of guilt. In Adam, we revolt from ingratitude and faithlessness and rebellion; and in Eve, from the additional vices of inordinate curiosity, cupidity and ambition, and the artifice that seduced her husband from the path of righteousness, with all the baneful consequences of such a deviation, to bimself and to his latest posterity. In the sentence of God on this unhappy pair so fallen from their integrity, we shall see what a sad alteration was further to take place, in bodies once framed for unfading glory. “Unto Adam He said: “ Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife “ cursed is the ground for thy sake."

“ In sorrow “shalt thou eat of it, all the days of thy life.” And, unto the woman: “I will greatly multiply the sorrow “ of thy conception." “ In sorrow shalt thou bring “ forth children: And thy desire shall be to thy hus6 band: And he shall rule over thee." In the sentence on the serpent, however, we have the most satisfactory evidence, that“ in the midst of judgment, God remem“bers mercy.

I will “ put enmity between thy "seed”—the apostate spirits-and “the seed of the of woman”--the Messiah. The seed of the woman shall

« PreviousContinue »