The life of those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High may be called a Hidden Life, because the animating principle, the vital or operative element, is not so much in itself as in another. It is a life grafted into another life. It is the life of the soul, incorporated into the life of Christ; and in such a way, that, while it has a distinct vitality, it has so very much in the sense, in which the branch of a tree may be said to have a distinct vitality from the root.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Idea of Marriage in the Old Testament

The Bible, in the primitive records on the subject, represents that man was created in God's image.  It also represents, that man and woman were one; and that woman was made from man; — the two existing henceforth in a diversity, but correspondence of form, and with an unity of life.  If the passages to which we refer, do not expressly state it, it is obvious that they naturally imply and involve the doctrine of correspondent or mated spirits, of duality in unity, to the exclusion of all affections to others which are inconsistent with such unity. There is a passage in the prophet Malachi, in reproof of the conduct of the Israelites, which throws some light upon this subject. The Israelites had become dissolute in principles and manners; — a state of things, which showed itself in violations of conjugal fidelity, and in frequent divorces. "The Lord," says the prophet, "hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously; yet she is thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did he not make one? Yet  had he the residue of the Spirit. And wherefore one? [That is to say, wherefore did he create one only? And the answer is,] that he might seek, [that is, prepare or secure to himself,] a godly seed. Therefore, [he adds,] take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously again the wife of his youth."

The passage is a decided and just reproof of those frequent violations of the true idea of the marriage state, which had crept in among the Israelites. God was offended; and the prophet gives the reason of it. When God, in the beginning of things, had created man, he separated from him, in the moment of his "deep sleep," a part of his existence And from that which he thus separated, he made the counterpart and completion of humanity in woman. He made one. In the language of the prophet, he had "the residue of the spirit;" and therefore he might have made a greater number. But that perfect conception which he had of a moral constitution of things, and of the elements of moral happiness, did not allow of more than one.

It was necessary, being good and perfect in himself, that he should so create man, as to evolve or develop from his existence, so long as it continued an unperverted existence, the highest possible degree of happiness. But perfect happiness cannot grow on the basis of a divided affection. It is only fullness of love, or love in the highest degree, — a state of mind which seems to be inconsistent with a multitude of objects of love, — that is crowned with fullness of bliss. And besides, that form or arrangement of the domestic constitution which limits the central or highest affection to one, was foreseen to be most favorable, as we should naturally suppose it would be, and as the passage in Malachi implies, to the birth and training of a "godly' seed." Polygamy and concubinage, and still more other systems, which propose a yet wider and more vicious liberty, are obviously inconsistent with that degree of watchful care, and religious instruction, which is necessary in training up a seed or people for God. And I think it cannot be doubted that the perpetuation of a godly seed is one of the objects involved in the constitution of a moral order of beings. Holiness, like sin, has its law of origin, and its line of descent.

— edited from A treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 6.

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