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which would lead us to infer that it is the Lord's will, that Christians should enter into matrimonial alliances with Christians, and should resolutely eschew all marriages which are not of that character. In the ninth chapter of the first epistle, Paul strictly maintains his apostolic authority, in reply to his traducers. And having pointed out the Corinthians as the seal of his apostleship, he goes on to maintain (verses 4-6) his right to be sustained at the expense of the Churches, though he had always declined to use this right. “ Have not we power to forbear working [and live at your expense); to eat, and to drink [whilst you furnish our tables? Have we not power to take about with us a believing wife (whose wants shall be provided for by you]?” It is with the expression a sister, a wise, that we have now to do. The only legitimate translation here is, a believing wife ; for it is not a sister or a wite, but a wife who is a sister, i.e., a Christian. The old notion of a wealthy Christian lady accompanying the Apostle, and ministering to him of her substance, will not need refuting in these days. Paul thus maintains that for his services he had a right to expect from the Churches sustenance for himself, and for his wife too, should he see fit to be married. Why, then, does he describe this wife as a believer? Certainly not on the sapposition that she would so labour in the Lord, as to demand for her own sake the support of the Churches : for he is maintaining that, for his oin sake, he ougit to be supported, and his wife also, if he had one. The natural sense of his words then is, that he felt that for him to bave a wife who was not a Christian, would be something so abhorrent to his Christian life, that the thought could not be tolerated for a moment. He had no tight to marry any save a believing wife. Will the reader accept the inference, that what was abhorrent to the Christian life of an Apostle, should be abhorrent to the Christian life of all believers ? that what would be wrong for him is wrong for them? This inference must be accepted, unless indeed it be shown that a different rule applies to Apostles, from that which applies to ordinary Christians. It may be said with some justice that we have hints of such difference. Whilst it appears that a polygamist when converted would not be excluded from Church membership, yet polygamy was to be a barrier to office as a Bishop or Deacon, as we gather from 1 Tim. ü. 2, 12. But no one would contend that after conversion any professor would have been suffered to become a polygamist, any more than a bishop. So no man would be refused Church membership, because he had a wicked wife; though a Bishop must have a wife, “ grave, no slanderer, sober, faithful in all things." But surely if such wives were required for Bishops, marriages of another character would, to say the least, be discouraged among private Christians after conversion. Notwithstarding the allowed distinction, the inference must have great force, that, since an Apostle might only marry : believer, an ordinary Christian ought only to do the same.
The most important passage is 1 Cor. vii. 39. “ The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth ; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will ; only in the Lord.” From New Testament usage (compare Rom. xvi. 2, 8, 11; 1 Cor. ix. 1, 2; Eph. vi. 1) we gather that the last clause means, in Christ as the element of the Christian life ; and surely in this connection it means, let her marry one who is in the Lord, i.e., & Christian. If this be the sense of the words, we have at least an express command that Christian widows may marry none but Christians: and unless proof can be given that a different law applies to widows from that which applies to unmarried persons, the inference is plain, that our Lord hath declared His will that believers should contract matrimonial alliances with believers alone. The case is even stronger than our version puts it, for Paul's words imply that her first husband was a Christian. For he does not say, “ if her husband be dead,” but “if her husband sleep,” using a word that in the New Testament is consecrated to describe exclusively the death of believers ; showing again, how foreign from the Aprt'e's habit of thought it was to think of a Christian as being married therwise than in the Lord.
Another passage in the same chapter furnishes us with a strong inference in behalf of the view now advocated. In verses 12-16 Paul exhorts those yho have been brought to a knowledge of the truth, after their marriage, not to seek a separation on account of the great spiritual difference between fushand and wife, provided the unbeliever were still willing to remain. But since these instructions about marriage were given in reply to questions pat by the Corinthian Christians (verse 1), it seems natural to suppose, that they were inclined to imagine, that conversion to Christianity should in all cases lead to separation; and on this question they sought the Apostle's advice. But though they carried the idea too far, yet even the extravagance of their view, is a testimony to the deep root that the sense of the evil of mixed marriages had in “the Christian consciousness." Their error, Like all other errors, was the perversion of some truth. Moreover, the Apostle's advice goes upon this supposition. For he does not say that inixed marrages are right; but, on the other hand, implies that they are generally ting, by deprecating separation in these cases ; by assuring them that God guld, under the circumstances, throw over such marriages the sanctity of hristian wedlock; and by encouraging the believer to seek and hope for the bridging over of the great gulf in the conversion of the husband or the wife.
The force of this inference, as well as of the prohibition of mixed wi.Tiages under the old covenant (Deut. vii. 3, 4), will probably be evaded vi some, by the assertion that idolaters are referred to, who, not only were
believers, but were, for the most part, sunk in sensuality and sin, and that it doez not follow that because marriage with such was, by implication, orbidden to Christians, that marriage with moral and amiable nominal Kristians should be under the same ban. This plea does not, of course, ply to the injunction to marry only in the Lord, but merely to the passage
under consideration, and to that which has next to be reviewed. The sluisetion is plausible, but fallacious. For, wide though the difference may here between a heathen and a moral man of these days, vet the great distance ? between “him that fears God, and him that fears Him not.” Christians hoold view men somewhat in the light in which God views them. Union en Christ is the one great mark of distinction. “If any man love not our
Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha.“ “ Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.” Paul dwells not on the positive badness of these persons, but on the absence of faith; they are unbelievers; they love not Christ ; and with such, in the most intimate relation of life, the Apostle, by implication, teaches us, let not the Christian have to do.
We now come to notice the New Testament expansion of the Old Testa: ment question—“ Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos iii. 3.) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Cor. vi. 14-18); and the entreaty is grounded upon the utter incompatibility between the life of the Christian and of the unbeliever: righteousness and unrighteousness; light and darkness ; Christ and Pelial ; faith and unbeliei, cannot harmoniously blend, any more than an acid and an alkali. It may be admitted thắt the passage has no direct reference to marriage; but as there is no other relation so intimate, is there any relation in which fellowship with the ungodly is likely to be so disastrous, and to which, therefore, the Apostle's advice applies with as great force, as to marriage ? Is not the infer ence very strong, of the evil of what is commonly called “the unequal yoke”? We may have no direct precept against mixed marriages, but, surely, by inference and implication, we have that which possesses all the force of a plain law. “We may have no commandment of the Lord, but may give our advice, as those that have obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful; and may think also that we have the Spirit of God.”
We now come to consider the practical aspects of the question, which are not without grave difficulties. Those, however, who have arrived at a settled conviction about the Lord's will, will see that their path is clear, and ill not trouble themselves about results. Those who stand on the changeful ground of expediency, will often be greatly perplexed.
The right or wrong of the matter will apply equally to the marriage of a Christian man, and of a Christian woman. But since there are probably twice as many Christian women as men (the writer has known one Church where the proportion was ten to one), the practical difficulty is only on oft side. Few Christian men will marry any but believing wives. Should ary one take another course, the wise words of Manoah and his wife are appucable : “Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumciscal Philistines ?” And if he can give no better reply than Samson's—*G** her for me, for she pleaseth me well," ---- he will probably find that throush the influence of Delilah he is shorn of his spiritual strength. The lawn nature and of society has given to man the right of selection; and if be neglects to use this right in accordance with his convictions, he is within excuse. But woman has only the choice between acceptance or refusa.. And while the lamentation of Jephthah's daughter
“ No fair Hebrew boy
The Hebrew mothers, -". would not be uttered with the feeling now that it evoked of old, yet the singe state, so extolled by the Fathers of the Church, is not very popular; and, notwithstanding the many protestations to the contrary, it may be assumed that the majority of young women consider that Pauly i dvice when he said, “I will that the younger women marry." But the difficulty is the reverse of that when Israel lamented, “How shall we do for wives for Benjamin ?” and our Christian young women, if they resolve to marry only in the Lord, must, hundreds of them, remain single. And when the offer is made, suitable in all respects, save that, what course should be adopted ? There will often be a general notion that such connections are wrong, but so bing plausible arguments will present themselves, which, if inclination go with them, will appear so important, that it will require a resolute will and a dear understanding to stem the torrent, and to act the part of Christian heroism. Earnest Christian parents, who are intensely solicitous for the salration of their sons, will cherish the notion that a Christian wife would be the angel of mercy ; and while for themselves they would have shunned such ill-assorted marriages, they will encourage some Christian girl into the snare, by a natural though blameworthy selfishness; and if such excellent people see no barm, why should she fear? But the most seductive bait is the hope of ** being useful to him." Since he has known her, he has been much more regular at chapel, and has even attended the prayer-meeting; and he tells her he wishes he were as good as she is, and he feels sure that, were she constantly by his side, he should be led into the ways of piety. No wonder many fall into this snare, for in this way passion seems ennobled into zeal for God. What a glorious thing if she were the means of his conversion ! How cruel to refuse him this which he thinks would be so effectual a means of grace! Besides, if she decline, he may enter on a course of worldliness, and perish ; and would not his blood be on her head ? Plausible- very ; tut-false. She inay be useful to him, but she may not. And if she would he acting contrary to what she believes to be God's will, is it likely that He would bless her wrong doing to effect so high and holy an end? Would not eren her prayer for it seem a mockery and a lie ? Nay, rather, since to reject him is right, is it not more likely that God will bless her refusal, by leading him to see that there is a reality in her religion at least, since she manifestly loves her Saviour more than she loves him ? And it her rejection will lead him into the ways of worldliness, by all means let him go; for if his new-found piety be only a ladder to win her affections, when the object was attained the ladder would be kicked aside, and, instead of her doing him good, he would do her harm. Husband and wife must, more or less, become assimilated. Many a woman in this way loses the vigour, and joy, and usefulness of her Christian life ; and, caring not as she used, " for the things of the Lord,” with sad emphasis, “ careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” And besides these withered towers of piety in her hand, what gloomy clouds darken her horizon' lle may die, and, clad in widow's weeds, she may have no hope of his future, 398 of a joyful reunion to cheer her sad solitude. She may die, and leare her children to the care of one who will not bring them up for the Lyril. ind if her piety he her chief joy (and if it be not, what is it worto :) !
far apart must be their cherished purposes, pleasures, pursuits ! In her husband's house, she must dwell alone. Mournful are such weddingsfunerals, rather, of peace and joy. The bridal veil might well be made of crape, and the frontal wreath be plucked from the weeping willow, and the wedding ring be formed of jet, and the bridal cortege be thronged with hooded mourners, and the bouquet consist of scarlet poppies, whose petals fall as soon as gathered, leaving only blackened heads behind. Christian maidens ! whatever estimate you may form of wealth, or position, or accomplishments, let piety be the first requisite : marry only in the Lord. And require satisfactory proofs of piety. “Have you heard that Miss So-and-so is engaged ?" “Oh, is she?" You reflect a moment, and remember her as an eminent Christian young lady, and a devoted Sabbath-school teacher; and your first question is, “Is he pious ?” The clear ringing tones are lowered almost to a whisper, and the smiling countenance of your fair informant assumes a sad expression-"She hopes so." Yes, she hopes so ; that is in plain English-she wishes that he were. It is not insisted that both must be of the same denomination, desirable though that be ; or that both be Christian professors, still more important though that be; but that both should be "new creatures in Christ Jesus.” If after the most conscientious inquiry, future years should prove that a mistake had been made, the issues must be left to God. But if, as the subject is doubtless often in the thought, prayer for true piety in the sharer of life be constantly in the heart, and ou the tongue, such mistakes will be rarely, if ever, committed. Let Christian young women make the solemn resolve to marry only in the Lord; and should such a resolve lad to the sacrifice of what seems desirable in this life, they shall never be really losers for what they give up for Christ's sake ; Christ will give them gold for their silver, “manifold more in this present life, and in the world to come life everlasting.”
Many are already so related or pledged to such a course. Those who have been converted since their marriage have every encouragement to seek the conversion of their dearest friend. “What knowest thou, () wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband ? or, How knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save tiny wife?” Some have entered into such relation with a convic tion that they did no wrong. We would respect their convictions, however much we may differ from them; and congratulating them that they have not the bitterness of remorse added to the other disadvantages of their posttion, we would wish them grace and strength, for the peculiar difficulties of their lot. But it is to be feared that many allow inclination, and expediency, and persuasion, to override conviction ; and ever since the pledge has been given, or the final step taken, conscience has been uneasy, and a cloud has gathered over their erewhile bright spirits. “ Such shall have trouble in the flesh.” Let them humbly repent of the evil of the past, and earnestly implore that, through God's infinite mercy, the worst evils of their position may be averted.
“ But are the effects of mixed marriages always so bad as you represent ?" Not always, thank God; but such are the natural tendencies, and frequent actual results. Not always, for God is often vastly better to us than wc