Of all relationships of life, none ought to be regarded with such reverence, and none taken in hand so cautiously as the relationship of husband and wife. In no relationship is so much earthly happiness to be found, if it be entered upon discreetly, advisedly, and in the fear of God. In none is so much misery seen to follow, if it be taken in hand unadvisedly, lightly, wantonly, and without thought.
From no step in life does so much benefit come to the soul, if people marry "in the Lord." From none does the soul take so much harm, if fancy, passion, or any mere worldly motive is the only cause which produce the union.
There is, unhappily, only too much necessity for impressing these truths upon people. It is a mournful fact, that few steps in life are generally taken with so much levity, self will, and forgetfulness of God as marriage. Few are the young couples who think of inviting Christ to their wedding!
It is a mournful fact that unhappy marriages are one great cause of the misery and sorrow of which there is so much in the world. People find out too late that they have made a mistake, and go in bitterness all their days.
Happy are they, who in the matter of marriage observe three rules: The first is to marry only in the Lord, and after prayer for God's approval and blessing. The second is not to expect too much from their partners, and to remember that marriage is, after all, the union of two sinners, and not of two angels. The third rule is to strive first and foremost for one another's sanctification. The more holy married people are, the happier they are.
Sometimes we have seen a model marriage, founded in pure love and cemented in mutual esteem. Therein the husband acts as a tender head; and the wife, as a true spouse, delights in her husband, in his person, his character, his affection. To her he is not only the chief and foremost of mankind, but in her eyes he is all in all, her heart's love belongs to him and to him only.
She finds sweetest contentment and solace in his company, his fellowship, his fondness. He is her little world, her paradise, her choice treasure. To please him she would gladly lay aside her own pleasure, to find it doubled in gratifying him.
She is glad to sink her individuality in his. She seeks no name for herself; his honor is reflected upon her, and she rejoices in it. She would defend his name with her dying breath, safe enough is he where she can speak for him.
He lavishes love on her and she on him. Their object in life is common. There are points where their affections so intimately unite that none could tell which is first and which is second.
Their wishes blend, their hearts are indivisible. By degrees they come very much to think the same thoughts. Intimate association creates conformity; we have known this to become so complete that at the same moment the same utterance has leaped to both their lips.
At last the two are so welded, so engrafted on one stem, that their old age presents a lovely attachment, a common sympathy, by which its infirmities are greatly alleviated, and its burdens are transformed into fresh bonds of love. So happy a union of will, sentiment, thought, and heart exists between them, that the two streams of their life have washed away the dividing bank, and run on as one broad current of united existence, until their common joy falls into the main ocean of felicity.
Happy woman and happy man! If heaven be found on earth they have it! Such a sight may not be commonly seen, but it is inexpressibly beautiful.