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the source of our sweetest enjoyments be poisoned and polluted by the iniquity of our hearts! Nay, sin in its darkest and most hideous form-unfaithfulness to the marriage vow-hath sometimes swept, as with a desolating blast, over the once happy home, and virtually dissolved that tie by which the parties had bound themselves to mutual fidelity, until God should separate them by death. In such a case as this, the marriage oath is broken, and our Lord declares that a divorce or a legal disruption of the union is in complete harmony with the Word and the Law of God. On this subject we find Jesus expressing Himself at considerable length on another occasion, Mat. xix. 3-9.
"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. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say
unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery."
The marriage-tie is a sacred bond instituted by God himself, and "what God hath joined together let no man dare to put asunder." The man must possess the nature of a fiend of darkness who would venture to intrude into the privacy of a united and happy family, and throw firebrands and death all around him, whether by malicious and groundless insinuations, or by direct seductions to sin. We know no fairer scene that this world can present, none on which the smile of a God of love can more delight to dwell, than the peaceful and cheerful home of a happy, though humble, pair, who have first given themselves to the Lord, and then to one another in the Lord, and who are seeking to walk before Him as heirs together of the grace of life, heavenly-minded, in purity and holiness, as members of the body of Christ. Observe and ponder well the spirit which ought to animate the Christian in this endearing relation of life: Eph. v. 21-33, Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. 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 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 every thing. 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 Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish. 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. 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. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church. Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband." These are not the words of man, but of the living God: they unfold to us the whole secret of domestic happiness. It is only to be found in imbibing and cultivating the spirit of heavenly love, akin in nature, though infinitely inferior in degree, to that love wherewith Christ loved His Church; but how can such a feeling be habitually exercised in those unhappy cases where the believer is yoked with an unbeliever-Christ with Belial ? Even then will the Christian hus
band, or the tender, affectionate, believing wife, meekly and patiently endure, weeping and praying in secret, without murmur or complaint, knowing that it is the Lord's yoke, and He will strengthen them to bear it. Such a trial as this is peculiarly heavy, but the duty is plain. God Himself hath taught us His will concerning us in these painful circumstances, 1 Peter iii. 1 and 2, "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear."
Thus you perceive that the love which ought to animate the believer, in this tender relation, is no common love, no mere natural affection. It is a sanctified, a holy love, not leading his heart away from God, but drawing out his affections more warmly to that God from whom he has received his wife, and to whom he strives, and trusts, and prays he shall at last be able to present her "holy and without blemish." For her sake he watches over his own heart and his own conduct, that he may be an example to her in all holy conversation and godliness, and it is his heart's desire and prayer to God that his wife and children may, along with himself, be privileged to join the happy family of the redeemed in glory, and unite in fervent ascriptions of praise to Him who sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever.
SECTION III.—THE THIRD COMMANDMENT.
MAT. V. 33-37.
Ir seems to have been the chief design of our blessed Lord, throughout his Sermon on the Mount, to vindicate the law of God from the perverse interpretations of the Scribes and Pharisees. For this purpose He selects three specific commandments of the Moral Law, the Sixth, the Seventh, and the Third. The two first-mentioned we have already considered in the two previous sections, and it only now remains that we consider the last, which He introduces to the notice of His hearers in these words :
V. 33. 66 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths." In the two cases in which, as we have already seen, our Lord has exposed the erroneous views of the Scribes, the very words of the Moral Law were plainly quoted, "Thou shalt not kill," "Thou shalt not commit adultery," so that we might have some difficulty in ascertaining whether the quotation was to be understood as made directly by our Lord himself, or as taken from the mouth of the Pharisees; but in the present instance there can be no such difficulty.