The Institution of Marriage

Matthew 19:4-6
      Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Marriage is a divine institution; it is a compact for life, by God’s appointment.

THOMAS ADAMS (1583-1656): As God by creation made two of one, so again by marriage He made one of two.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): It is likewise the appointment of God that the successive generations of mankind should be perpetuated by marriage.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): The marriage relation lies at the very root of the social system of nations. The public morality of a people, and the private happiness of the families which compose a people, are deeply involved in the whole question of the law of marriage…The nearer a nation’s laws about marriage approach to the law of Christ, the higher has the moral tone of that nation always proved to be.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): There is little need for us to pause and offer proof that this is an age of lawlessness. In every sphere of life the sad fact confronts us…It is the same in the majority of our homes. With comparatively rare exceptions, wives are no longer in subjection to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22,24); and as for obeying them (I Peter 3:1,2, 5,6), why, the majority of women demand that such a hateful word be stricken from the marriage ceremony.

J. C. RYLE: Society is never in a healthy condition, and true religion never flourishes in that land where the marriage tie is lightly esteemed.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): And certainly, where the bond of marriage is broken, than which none among men is more sacred, the whole of human society sinks into decay.

JOHN NEWTON: Marriage is undoubtedly the most important concern, with respect to this world, in which we can engage. It has an influence upon every action and every hour of the future life. The success depends not upon appearances, for they are changeable; nor upon our present affections or purposes, for we are frail, inconstant creatures, and prone to be soon weary of the possession of our warmest wishes; but entirely upon the blessing of the Lord, without which no union can subsist. We see too many instances of people who come together with all seeming advantages, and yet from unforeseen causes, the affection which promised to be permanent, gradually subsides into indifference, and perhaps terminates in disgust. We cannot wonder at it, when we consider how seldom the Lord is duly acknowledged either in the choice, the pursuit, or the attainment of the object.

J. C. RYLE: 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.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): There is a lot to get used to in the first year of marriage. One wakes up in the morning and finds a pair of pigtails on the pillow which were not there before…What a lot of trouble there is in marriage! Adam has made a mess of our nature. Think of all the squabbles Adam and Eve must have had in the course of their nine hundred years. Eve would say, “You ate the apple,” and Adam would retort, “You gave it to me.”

JOHN CALVIN: All the troubles men find in marriage they ought to impute to sin.

J. C. RYLE: The third rule is to strive first and foremost for one another’s sanctification. The more holy married people are, the happier they are.

THOMAS GOUGE (1605-1681): They should be watchful one over the other, as to prevent sin in one another, so to redress it the best way they can when either of them are fallen into sin, by seasonable admonition, yes, and correction also. Here the husband and wife should more respect the mutual good of one another, than fear the giving of offence. And it is likewise a special duty incumbent upon husband and wife to help the growth of grace in each other, as by a frequent conferring together of good things, especially of what they hear in the public ministry of the word, so likewise in constant performing of family duties, especially prayer.

RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691): Husband and wife must delight in the love and company, and lives of each other. When husband and wife take pleasure in each other, it unites them in duty, it helps them with ease to do their work, and bear their burdens; and is a major part of the comfort of marriage.

RICHARD STEELE (1629-1692): Loving Each Other. This is both the husband’s (Colossians 3:19) and the wife’s duty (Titus 2:4). Love is the great reason and comfort of marriage.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): [The wedding ring] is an index and symbol of true wedded love, for it is a perfect circle, there is no end to it; it is made of pure gold, or, it should be pure, if it is to be an emblem of real love.

MARTIN LUTHER: The first love is drunken. When the intoxication wears off, then comes the real marriage love.

RICHARD STEELE: This love is not merely romance, but genuine and constant affection and care for each other fervently with a pure heart (1 Peter 1:22). Marital love cannot be based on beauty or wealth, for these are passing, and not even on piety, for that may decay. It must be based upon God’s command which never changes. The marriage vow obliges “for better or for worse,” and married persons ought to consider their own spouses the best in the world for them. Marital love must be durable, lasting even after death has severed the bond (Proverbs 31:12). This true-hearted love brings true content and comfort in its train. It guards against adultery and jealousy. It prevents or lessens family trouble. Without it, the marriage is like a bone out of joint. There is pain until it is restored.

JOHN NEWTON: Long experience and much observation have convinced me, that the marriage state, when properly formed and prudently conducted, affords the nearest approach to happiness (of a merely temporal kind) that can be attained in this uncertain world, and which will best abide the test of sober reflection.

MARTIN LUTHER: There is no bond so sweet as that which occurs in a good marriage.


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