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left behind, and the disgrace that attended his refusing so to do: for as the eldest son of such a marriage became the adopted child of the deceased, that child and the posterity flowing from him, were, by a fiction of law, considered as the real offspring and heirs of the deceased brother. This explains the words of Isaiah, that seven women should take hold of one man, saying, we will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel, only let us be called by thy name to take away our reproach. (Isa. iv. 1.) This was the reason also why the Jews commonly married very young. A virgin was ordinarily married at the age of puberty, that is, twelve years complete, whence her husband is called the guide of her youth (Prov. ii. 17.), and the husband of her youth (Joel i. 8.); and the not giving of maidens in marriage is in Psal. lxxviii. 63. represented as one of the effects of the divine anger towards Israel. In like manner, among the Hindoos, the delaying of the marriage of daughters is to this day regarded as a great calamity and disgrace.1

II. From the first institution of marriage it is evident that God gave but one woman to one man: and if it be a true, as it is a common observation, that there are every where more males than females born in the world, it follows that those men certainly act contrary to the laws both of God and nature, who have more than one wife at the same time. But though God, as supreme lawgiver, had a power to dispense with his own laws, and actually did so with the Jews for the more speedy peopling of the world, yet it is certain there is no such toleration under the Christian dispensation, and therefore their example is no rule at this day. The first who violated this primitive law of marriage was Lamech, who took unto him two wives. (Gen. iv. 19.) Afterwards we read that Abraham had concubines. (Gen. xxv. 6.) And his practice was followed by the other patriarchs, which at last grew to a most scandalous excess in Solomon's and Rehoboam's days. The word concubine in most Latin authors, and even with us at this day, signifies a woman, who, though she be not married to a man, yet lives with him as his wife: but in the sacred writings it is understood in another sense. There it means a lawful wife, but of a lower order and of an inferior rank to the mistress of the family; and therefore she had equal right to the marriage-bed with the chief wife (Gen. xxix. 14-16.); and her issue was reputed legitimate in opposition to bastards; but in all other respects these concubines were inferior to the primary wife: for they had no authority in the family, nor any share in household government. If they had been servants in the family, before they came to be concubines, they continued to be so afterwards, and in the same subjection to their mistress as before. The dignity of these primary wives gave their children the preference in the succession, so that the children of concubines did not inherit their father's fortune, except upon the failure of the children by these more honourable wives; and therefore it was, that the father commonly provided for the children by

1 Ward's History,, &c. of the Hindoos, vol. ii. p. 327.

these concubines in his own lifetime, by giving them a portion of his cattle and goods, which the Scripture calls gifts. Thus Sarah was Abraham's primary wife, by whom he had Isaac, who was the heir of his wealth. But besides her, he had two concubines, namely, Hagar and Keturah; by these he had other children whom he distinguished from Isaac, for it is said he gave them gifts and sent them away while he yet lived. (Gen. xxv. 5, 6.)

In the first ages of the world, marriages between brothers and sisters were necessary, because of the small number of persons then in the world. After mankind were become numerous, such marriages were unlawful, and were prohibited under great penalties. However, the patriarchs long espoused their near relations, even after the world was greatly peopled, intending by this to avoid alliances with families corrupted by the worship of false gods; or to preserve in their own families the worship of the true God, and the maintenance of the true religion of which they were the depositories. For this reason Abraham married his sister or niece Sarah; and also sent his steward Eliezer, to fetch a wife for his son from among the daughters of his nephews; and Jacob espoused the daughters of his uncle.

III. No formalities appear to have been used by the Jews-at least none were enjoined to them by Moses,-in joining man and wife together. Mutual consent, followed by consummation, was deemed sufficient. The manner in which a daughter was demanded in marriage is described in the case of Shechem, who asked Dinah the daughter of Jacob in marriage (Gen. xxxiv. 6-12.); and the nature of the contract, together with the mode of solemnising the marriage, is described in Gen. xxiv. 50, 51. 57. 67. There was indeed a previous espousal or betrothing, which was a solemn promise of marriage, made by the man and woman each to the other, at such a distance of time as they agreed upon. This was sometimes done by writing, sometimes by the delivery of a piece of silver to the bride in presence of witnesses, as a pledge of their mutual engagements. We are informed by the Jewish writers, that kisses were given in token of the espousals, (to which custom there appears to be an allusion in Canticles i. 2.) after which the parties were reckoned as man and wife. After such espousals were made (which was generally when the parties were young) the woman continued with her parents several months, if not some years (at least till she was arrived at the age of twelve) before she was brought home, and her marriage consummated. That it was the practice to betroth the bride some time before the consummation of the marriage, is evident from Deut. xx. 7. Thus we find that Samson's wife remained with her pa

1 Dr. Gill's Comment. on Sol. Song, i. 2. The same ceremony was practised among the primitive Christians. (Bingham's Antiquities, book xxii. c. iii. sect. 6.) By the civil law, indeed, the kiss is made a ceremony in some respects, of importance to the validity of the nuptial contract. (Cod. Justin. lib. v. tit. 3. de Donation. ante nuptias, leg. 16.) Fry's Translation of the Canticles, p. 33.

2 The same practice obtains in the East Indies to this day. Ward's History of the Hindoos, vol. ii. p. 334.

rents a considerable time after espousals (Judg. xiv. 8.); and we are told that the Virgin Mary was visibly with child before she and her intended husband came together. (Matt. i. 18.) If, during the time between the espousals and the marriage the bride was guilty of any criminal correspondence with another person, contrary to the fidelity she owed to her bridegroom, she was treated as an adulteress: and thus the holy virgin, after she was betrothed to Joseph, having conceived our blessed Saviour, might, according to the rigour of the law, have been punished as an adulteress, if the angel of the Lord had not acquainted Joseph with the mystery of the incarnation.

Among the Jews, and generally, throughout the East, marriage was considered as a sort of purchase, which the man made of the woman he desired to marry; and therefore in contracting marriages, as the wife brought a portion to the husband, so the husband was obliged to give her or her parents money or presents in lieu of this portion. This was the case between Hamor, the father of Shechem, and the sons of Jacob, with relation to Dinah (Gen. xxxiv. 12.); and Jacob, having no money, offered his uncle Laban seven years' service, which must have been equivalent to a large sum. (Gen. xxix. 18.) Saul did not give his daughter Michal to David, till after he had received a hundred foreskins of the Philistines. (1 Sam. xviii. 25.) Hosea bought his wife at the price of fifteen pieces of silver, and a measure and a half of barley. (Hos. iii. 2.) The same custom also obtained among the Greeks and other antient nations; and it is to this day, the practice in several eastern countries, particularly among the Druses, Turks, and Christians, who inhabit the country of Haouran, and also among the modern Scenite Arabs, or those who dwell in tents.3

IV. It appears from both the Old and New Testaments, that the Jews celebrated the nuptial solemnity with great festivity and splendour. Many of the rites and ceremonies observed by them on this occasion, were common both to the Greeks and Romans. We learn from the Misna, that the Jews were accustomed to put crowns or garlands on the heads of newly married persons; and it should seem from the Song of Solomon (iv. 11.) that the ceremony of putting it on, was performed by one of the parents. Among the Greeks, the bride was crowned by her mother; and among them, as well as among the orientals, and particularly the Hebrews, it was customary to wear crowns or garlands, not merely of leaves or flowers, but also of gold or silver, in proportion to tho rank of the person presenting them; but those prepared for

1 The Crim Tartars, who are in poor circumstances, serve an apprenticeship for their wives, and are then admitted as part of the family. Mrs. Holderness's Notes, p. 8. First Edit.

2 Potter's Greek Antiquities, vol. ii. p. 279.

3 Buckhardt's Travels in Syria, &c. pp. 298. 385. De la Roque, Voyage dans la Palestine, p. 222. See several additional instances in Burder's Oriental Literature, vol. i. pp. 56-59.

4 Dr. Good's Translation of Solomon's Song, p. 107.

the celebration of a nuptial banquet, as being a festivity of the first consequence, were of peculiar splendour and magnificence. Chaplets of flowers only constituted the nuptial crowns of the Romans. Some writers have supposed that the nuptial crowns and other ornaments of a bride, are alluded to in Ezek. xvi. 8-12.

After the connubial union was solemnly ratified and attested, and the religious part of it concluded, it was customary for the bridegroom, as among the Greeks and Romans, in the evening to conduct his spouse from her friends to his own home with all the pomp, brilliancy, and joy that could be crowded into the procession. It was usual for the bridegroom to invite his young female friends and relations to grace this procession, and to add numbers and lustre to his retinue: these, adorned in robes suitable to the occasion, took lamps, and waited in a company near the house, till the bride and bridegroom with their friends issued forth, whom they welcomed with the customary congratulations-then joined in the train, and with songs and acclamations, and every demonstration of joy, advanced to the bridegroom's house, where an entertainment was provided, according to the circumstances of the united pair. This nuptial feast was adorned and celebrated only by a select company of the bride and bridegroom's friends-no strangers were admitted-by these the evening was spent in all the convivial enjoyment, which social happiness, their approbation of the late union, and the splendour of such a festivity could inspire. These several ceremonies and circumstances here recorded, concerning the manner in which the Jews solemnised their nuptials, are alluded to in that beautiful parable (Matt. xxv.), in which our Saviour represents ten virgins taking their lamps and going in a company to meet the bridegroom. Five of these were endued with prudence and discretion: the other five were thoughtless and inconsiderate. The thoughtless took indeed their lamps, but had not the precaution to replenish them with oil. But the prudent, mindful of futurity, carried oil with them in vessels. Having waited a long time for the bridegroom, and he not appearing, they all fatigued with tedious expectation, sunk in profound repose. But lo! at midnight they were suddenly alarmed with a cry-the bridegroom, the bridegroom is coming! Hasten to meet and congratulate him. Roused with this unexpected proclamation they all arose up and trimmed their lamps. The thoughtless then began to solicit the others to impart to them some of their oil-telling them that their lamps were entirely extinguished. To these entreaties the prudent answered that they had only provided a sufficient quantity for their own use, and therefore advised them to go and purchase oil of those who sold it. They departed accordingly-but during their absence the bridegroom came, and the prudent virgins, being prepared for his reception, went along with him to the nuptial entertainment. The doors were then immediately shut. After some time the others came to the door, and supplicated earnestly for



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admission. But the bridegroom repulsed them-telling them, he did not know them, and would not admit any strangers.1

From another parable, in which a great king is represented as making a most magnificent entertainment at the marriage of his son, we learn that all the guests, who were honoured with an invitation, were expected to be dressed in a manner suitable to the splendour of such an occasion, and as a token of just respect to the newmarried couple-and that after the procession in the evening from the bride's house was concluded, the guests, before they were admitted into the hall where the entertainment was served up, were taken into an apartment and viewed, that it might be known if any stranger had intruded, or if any of the company were apparelled in raiments unsuitable to the genial solemnity they were going to celebrate; and such, if found, were expelled the house with every mark of ignominy and disgrace. From the knowledge of this custom the following passage receives great light and lustre. When the king came in to see the guests, he discovered among them a person who had not on a wedding garment. He called him and said: Friend, how came you to intrude into my palace in a dress so unsuitable to this occasion? The man was struck dumb-he had no apology to offer for this disrespectful neglect. The king then called to his servants, and bade them bind him hand and foot-to drag him out of the room-and thrust him out into midnight darkness. (Matt. xxii. 2.)2

The Scripture, moreover, informs us that the marriage festivals of the Jews lasted a whole week. And Laban said; It must not be so done in our country to give the younger before the first born. Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also. (Gen. xxix. 26, 27.) And Sampson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle unto you:

1 Mr. Ward has given the following description of a Hindoo wedding, which furnishes a striking parallel to the parable of the wedding feast in the Gospel. "At a marriage, the procession of which I saw some years ago, the bridegroom came from a distance, and the bride lived at Serampore, to which place the bridegroom was to come by water. After waiting two or three hours, at length, near midnight, it was amrounced, as if in the very words of Scripture, behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him. All the persons employed, now lighted their lamps, and ran with them their hands to fill up their stations in the procession; some of them had lost their lights, and were unprepared, but it was then too late to seek them, and the cavalcade moved forward to the house of the bride, at which place the company entered a large and splendidly illuminated area, before the house, covered with an awning, where a great multitude of friends, dressed in their best apparel, were seated upon mats. The bridegroom was carried in the arms of a friend, and placed on a superb seat in the midst of the company, where he sat a short time, and then went into the house, the door of which was immediately shut, and guarded by Sepoys. I and others expostulated with the door-keepers, but in vain. Never was I so struck with our Lord's beautiful parable, as at this moment: "And the door was shut!" Ward's View of the History, &c. of the Hindoos, vol. iii. pp. 171, 172.

2 Dr. Macknight has well illustrated this parable. It seems, says this learned and judicious commentator, that before the guests were admitted into the hall of entertainment, they were taken into some apartment of the palace, where the king viewed them to see that they were all dressed in a manner suitable to the occasion. Here he found one that had not on a wedding garment-and being provoked at the affront, he ordered him to be immediately thrust out of the palace. Macknight's Harmony of the Gospel, p. 481. second edition.

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