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VOL. V.-OCTOBER, 1854.–No. IX.
THE FIRST MARRIAGE.
BY THE EDITOR.
“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone-Gen. 2: 18,
The first marriage. The marriage in Paradise. The marriage of the parents of the whole race. Let us look a little into the record of it, and draw from it such wisdom as it is calculated to yield.
“ AND THE LORD GOD SAID," Very well. Here we have the origin of marriage; not only its beginning in history, but its beginning in authority. It is a divine institution. Here let us notice: 1. It has not its origin in the desires of men.
It did not grow into practice and custom out of any natural inclinations. It was not suggested to man by any natural or social wants.
is not even the creature of human love.
2. It did not originate in human caprice. It was not a random notion, which sprang up in the mind of man, which he carried out upon his own responsibility, and which, thus, from an experiment, grew gradually into a custom. There are no doubt many marriages now consummated after this fashion !
3. It is not an institution suggested by parents to their children, as a device to lighten the burdens of their own families. It did not suggest itself, after families had overgrown, as a matter of interest and convenience. It is before all families. Though the authority of parents is to enter into its regulation, no parental authority can affect its foundations.
4. It is not a thing of the state. It is before the state. The state is founded in a deep sense in it. To make it an institution of the state, as done by our own laws, is a degrading of it. The state has no power or authority either to consummate or to disannul it; except so far as it has received warrant from the “higher power. It is a religious ordinance, not a civil compact. It is an ordinance of the church, not of the state. It ought to be solemnized at the altar, either of the church or the family, and not in the public hotel, or the Squire's office !
“The Lord God said”-He, as Lord, had power to say; and no one has this power, but from Him. In the Divine mind and will is
the origin, foundation, and warrant of marriage. Any ideas of this holy institution which do not recognize this, are un-godly, against His will, and disowned by Him. As His will originated marriage, so His will must flow through and pervade the whole history of its consummation. Betrothals must be made in His fear, marriage must be celebrated according to His holy order, and the holy state of marriage must be lived in by His grace and for His glory. Married life to be true to its intent must be a religious life.
Marriage, as a divine institution, must therefore be regarded as a duty-a duty which rests upon all who are not specially left at libers to remain single for some good purpose. No mere indifference to it, no mere caprice, no mere considerations of self interest, can be regarded as a valid excuse from fulfilling in this respect the divine will, and falling in with the divine order. No ecclesiastical or civil authority has any right to erect barriers in the way of marriage. No parental authority, though it may regulate, can forbid it. Both as a duty and a privilege it stands open to all. “The Lord God said,” As a duty its claims cannot be disregarded with impunity. The disregard of this, as of all other duties, will sooner or later be attended by evil consequences of some kind or other. Hence it is added :
IT IS NOT GOOD FOR MAN TO BE ALONE. How can it be good ? Is not the divine will good, and how can it be good to annul it? Is not man formed with a social constitution; how can it be good to ignorn ? How can it be good to disregard the claims of marriage when id says “it is not good" so to do? Why is it not good ?
Mari's social nature must have development. Just as necessary as it is for man to have a God whom he can love supremely above him, so necessary is it that he should have some object on earth near him which he can love was himself.'' The law requires our love to go out both to God and man; it demands entire devotion both ways.
But this can not be done by isolation from the race, but by being livingly bound to it as flesh of our flesh, as the head and life of a generation. A fellow feeling with the race, demands a living, loving union with it. He that is “alone” has denied his race, has disowned men, and cannot fufil the demands of the second table of the law.
It will accordingly be found by close observers, that he who, disobeying this order, remains “ alone,” perverts and degrades those affections which are regulated by the second table of the law. Instead of loving his race he will love supremely something else. It will be found that the one who remains alone," devotes his love to one or the other of the following objects :
1. Himself, or herself. You find a certain class of those who remain alone to be misanthropes. They love only themselves. In others their love takes a different direction, and they devote themselves.
2. To money. It will be found, on reflection, that a class of them are misers. This remark will at once find confirmation in the reading and memory of all thinking persons. 3. Another class of those who remain alone are swallowed
in a passion for fame. Seek political fame. Seek the fame of wealth. Seek the fame of Literature. Seek in their isolated coldness to sit on the solitary height of the “dread mountain.”
4. Some of this class, devote themselves to Tammuz, the God of the baser passions. Whatever direction the affections may take, it will always be found that they break out into some perverted channel; and, instead of manifesting themselves in that beautiful symmetrical evolution which characterizes them in the bosom of the domestic constitution, they will appear in some kind of monstrous distortion. It is not good for man to be alone.
Where a person, by remaining alone, exposes his social nature to this kind of abnormous development, evil consequences must follow both to himself and to others.
1. He looses all that refining and tempering influence which a fit companion would exert upon him. His nature unfolds in rugged distortion, and has not those softenings which can only be begotten in the inner circle of social life. How different, in all his feelings, is a bachelor from a father an old maiden from a mother!
2. He looses that cultivation of his benevolent nature which is only to be brought out by the exercise incident upon the care of a domestic circle. It is only the returns of gratitude and love which parental faithfulness and love awaken in the bosom of wife and children, that can keep the fountains of one's own heart fresh and filowing. Only in the family relation is there room for the exercise of every sympathy, for the experience of every joy and sorrow, for the development of every affection and virtue, and the beautiful bloom of every grace.
THERE'S BALM IN GILEAD.
BY CARRIE SALISBURY.
Art thou still sad ? and is thy spirit broken
With thoughts of hours thou would'st in vain forget ?
Trust thee; and know “There's balm in Gilead yet."
To earth whose pleasure brings thee but regret ?
Unhappy still? • There's balm in Gilead yet.”
Doth list to catch each faintly whispered prayer;
And thou hast found the “ Great Physician” there.
THE BIRDS OF THE BIBLE.
NO. XXI.-THE BITTERN.
BY THE EDITOR.
“Along thy glades, a solitary guest,
The hollow.sounding bittero guards its nest." The word KEPHUD, translated Bittern, occurs three times in the Bible. It has been variously rendered by the learned; some owl, some osprey, some porcupine, some buzzard, and some even otter. Gesenius is in favor of the hedgehog. Shaw, Lowth, Dodson, and Stock, following Bochart, make it porcupine. Dr. Harris, we think, quite satisfactorily opposes them, thus : “I see no propriety in ranking the porcupine with the cormorant, and the raven, and the owl; but the bittern, which is a retired bird, is more likely to be found in their company in the same wilds and fens. Besides, the porcupine is not an aquatic animal: and pools of water are pointed out as the retreat of those here mentioned ; neither has it any note- yet of these creatures it is said, their voices shall sing in the windows."
Calmet, who favors the porcupine, still honestly acknowledges, at the close of his article, that he does it “with some reluctance, as this is not precisely the creature that, on principles of arrangement, seems to answer the requisitions of every place in the Scripture.' Both the Chaldee and the Talmud, are in favor of the bittern, as it is in the English translation.
The meaning of the word in its root is, “to draw together, contract, shrink,” which applies, to say the least, as well to the bittern as to any one of the birds or quadrupeds proposed. “It is," says Goldsmith, “a retired, timorous animal, concealing itself in the midst of reeds and marshy places.” Thus it gathers itself up, and shrinks from view into tufts of grass and weeds, and may well have had its name originally suggested from this fact. We think an exhibition of the nature and habits of this bird will satisfy the reader that there is no occasion for a new translation of the word.
The Bittern is a bird of the heron kind, though it is not so large as a heron, being only about four inches in length, and has a weaker bill. It is of a pale yellow color, spotted and barred with black. It is plump and fleshy in its appearance.
Being a timorous and retired bird, it lives principally along the sedgy margin of streams, where it builds its nest amid tufts and rushes, using as material, flags, the leaves of water plants, and dry rushes. It lays generally seven or eight eggs, of an ash-green color. Three days after the young issue from the shell, they are already capable of being led forth after food. It feeds on frogs and insects—when this kind of food is not to be obtained, it lives
on such various vegetables as it can find in marshy places and along streams.
The bittern is found in various parts of the world. It has in all ages been known along the rivers of the East; it has always been ospecially abundant on the borders of the renowned old Nile :
"Thou king of rivers, o'er whose glassy breast
Where erst the ibis dwelt, a favored, sacred guest.” Very consistently with its known habits does Isaiah assign it a habitation amid the desolations of Babylon, in connection with pools of water:
"I will also make it a possession for the bittera,
Aod pools of water.” This may
be well understood of those “garden-canals, forming part of the pleasure-grounds; fed, no doubt, originally from the river; and long after the destruction, or rather the abandoning, of the city, retaining moisture enough to support vegetables," and thus making a congenial abode for the doleful bittern.
When we consider its small size, there is perhaps, no bird whose note is so remarkably loud; besides, its voice differ from all other birds in its terrifying hideousness and awful solemnity. “Those who have walked in an evening along the sedgy sides of unfrequented rivers, must remember a variety of notes from different water-fowl; the loud scream of the wild-goose, the croaking of the milliard, the whining of the lapwing, and the tremulous neighing of the jacksnipe. But of all these sounds, there is none so dismally hollow as the booming of the bittern. It is not possible for words to give those who have not heard this evening call an adequate idea of its solemnity. It is like the uninterrupted bellowing of a bull, but hollower and louder, and is heard at a mile's distance, as if issuing from some formidable being that resided at the bottom of the waters. Its windpipe is fitted to produce the sound for which it is remarkable ; the lower part of it dividing into the lungs, is supplied with a loose membrane that can be filled with a large body of air, and exploded at pleasure. These bellowing explosions are chiefly heard from the beginning of spring to the end of autumn; and however awful they may seem to us, they are the calls of courtship, or the expressions of connubial felicity.”
In some countries the bittern is held in great detestation among the ignorant. Its dreadful boomings are heard as the ominous voice of doom! "I remember,” says Goldsmith, "in the place where I was a boy, with what terror this bird's note affected the whole vil