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The modern Jewsx profess to derive their rites of marriage from their remote progenitors, and especially
* A case of a singular description, connected with the Jewish rites of marriage, has been recently brought before the Lord Mayor. The beadle of Aldgate applied for an order of filiation against a Jew, whom he accused of deserting his bastard child. When the father was brought up, the mother maintained that the child was no bastard, as the defendant had married her before consummation; and she produced the ring, and challenged the man to say whether he had not put it on her finger, pronouncing those words which constituted them man and wife. The validity of such a marriage was denied ; and it was asked, whether such marriages were usual among the Jews. The woman solemnly declared that a marriage in this form was binding, until a divorce took place: if it were not, she had been betrayed and seduced : she had acted in a conviction of the stability of the bond, which was the less doubtful, as one of the Goldsmidts had lately been married in this form. The defendant admitted that he had married the young woman as she had described, but contended that the form was unavailing. There were irregularities in the ceremony, under which it could not be recognized by the Jewish law. He had been disappointed in the young woman, or he would have completed the ceremony before the High Priest, and have thus put the legality of the marriage beyond all question. He now resisted all claim but that of the child, which, whether a bastard or not, the Jewish law obliged him to maintain. Under these circumstances the question of the legality of the marriage was submitted to the High Priest, from whom the following communication was received :-"The solemnization of marriages among the Jews is regulated by a code of laws, which impose certain ceremonies to be performed, and blessings to be said under a canopy, by a person properly qualified and authorized for this purpose. Parties, however, surreptitiously contract themselves, by the man putting a ring on the finger of the woman in the presence of witnesses, and declaring its purpose: but such marriage is not only disreputable, but occasions much inconvenience, as its validity may be questioned; and the law considers the wife of such formation in the same light as an unclean woman. Her
from the precedent of the marriage of Tobias. The principal ceremonies are, the bathing of the bride on
claim to maintenance is likewise subject to much question, although there is none for that of her children: and neither the man nor the woman can marry any other person, unless a regular divorce has been executed between them. Thus, though the ceremony is incomplete, and liable to much dispute, they must with respect to other connexions be considered as man and wife.”—Sir James Shaw, who sat with the Lord Mayor upon the occasion, differed from the High Priest in his view of the case, which he considered to be analogous to the familiar case of marriages in Scotland, where the mutual declaration of assent forms an indissoluble bond ; and he did not see how the defendant could be called upon to maintain his bastard child, under such circumstances as appeared to him sufficient evidence of legitimacy. The Lord Mayor also considered the ceremony that had taken place to constitute a bona fide contract, which, whatever might be the operation of the Jewish law, he could not disturb. The parish should proceed against the defendant in the usual way, for having deserted his wife and child; and measures would speedily be taken to punish the father, for having attempted so gross a deception.--See Times, Aug. 13, 1824. According to this statement, the validity of the Jewish marriages depends not on the simple contract, which may be surreptitious, incomplete, and subject to dispute, which conveys no right of maintenance to the wife, and is contrary to the law of the Jews; but it depends on certain ceremonies and blessings, performed by a person properly qualified and authorized. Whether the Jews will or will not acquiesce in this arbitrary interference of the civic authorities in interpreting the operation of their law, it is certain that this flagitious case not only affirms the necessity of an authorized solemnization of marriage among the Jews, but suggests new ground of objection to the doctrine, that marriage is a civil contract and nothing more, and to the expedience of extending the privilege of marrying by a form which is not defined by the laws, which is liable to the misrepresentation of one party and the misapprehension of another, and of which the proof is not facilitated by an authenticated registry.
the day before the marriage ; the mutual presents of the bride and bridegroom; the delivery of the instruments of marriage; the adorning of the bride ; and the solemn procession, with music and company, of the bride and bridegroom to the place of union and benediction, which is a canopy, of which the four pillars are supported by four boys, and which is called Chuppah. On the arrival of the bridegroom under this canopy, there is a general acclamation, of Blessed is he who cometh : and at the end of the ceremony wheat is thrown upon the heads of the bride and bridegroom, with a recitation of the primitive blessing, Increase and multiply. The ceremony of benediction proceeds in this form : The bride stands on the right hand, with her face towards the south, and the rabbi who officiates takes the end of the tippet which the man has round his neck, and places it on the head of the woman ; and afterwards, taking in his hand a glass full of wine, he pronounces the blessing of the bride and bridegroom, which has been already recited, and offers to them the wine as of old time. He then places a ring of gold of approved fineness on the finger of the bride ; and calling for another cup of wine, pronounces the ancient benediction of the marriage, and drinks to the parties of the wine, directing the bridegroom to pour the wine of the espousals upon the ground, in token of the destruction of Jerusalem ; in commemoration of which it is usual in some places to cast ashes upon the bridegroom's head, and to cover it with a piece of black cloth. The marriage feast ensues, which is protracted for eight days. In Italy, when any person is invited to honour the marriage feast with his pre
sence, he replies, Mazal Tob; signifying that he wishes a happy issue to the marriage ; and the same words are engraved upon the wedding ring'.
The general celebration of marriage among the Heathens and the Jews with religious rites, affords a strong testimony of the sense and opinion of mankind in favour of the religious ratification of marriage: and as those rites existed, and were in common use, before the time of our Lord, the proper method of ascertaining the authenticity of the Christian practice will be, to enquire, not what our Lord commanded, but what he did not forbid. He was himself
present at the solemnities of the nuptial feast, and gave to them the sanction and authority of his sacred presence: he used, in his parables, various allusions to the ritual of marriage, to the procession to conduct the bride, the use of lamps, the approach of the bridegroom, and the celebrity of the nuptial feast : and while he condemned the common traditions and superstitious practices of the age, he was so far from making any exception to the rites of marriage, that he gave to them new sanctity, in appropriating them in the description of himself and his Church. His apostle, St. Paul was earnest in upholding the validity and obligation of marriages which had been celebrated with heathen rites, and suffered not the dissolution of the bond which had been thus contracted, although he restricted the disciples, after their conversion, from marrying with the unbelieving',
Gerhard, s. 460. Shepherd on Common Prayer. Godwyn's Moses and Aaron, I. vi. c. 4.
: 1 Cor. vii. 2, 10, 11.
and required them to marry only in the Lord. This rule is generally interpreted of marriage among Christian believers; without, however, excluding the rites which were proper to marriage, which have been attributed to apostolic appointment and tradition, and are known to have prevailed in the Church in the second century. It is the common assertion of the writers who have detailed the forms of the heathen marriages, that as they did nothing without taking the auspices, so they especially observed them in their marriages : and it appears to be a just and necessary conclusion, that when Christians were required generally to do all which they did to the glory of God, and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ d, or in the character of his disciples, they would hardly enter upon marriage without some religious observance, in which the required community of their faith enabled them to agree; and the conclusion is strengthened by the circumstance, that the nations in their unconverted state were accustomed to a religious solemnity and ritual of marriage.
It would be vain to pretend that it is a clear or unexceptionable argument, which the Scriptures alone supply in favour of the rites of marriage, or indeed of any rites, without reference to the previous and the subsequent forms of celebration, of which the proof must be collected from other authorities, and the reason is approved by the primitive and catholic practice. The Scriptures afford no evidence of the
+1 Cor. vii. 39. · Comber on the Office of Matr, Intro- · duction, di Cor. x. 31. Col. iii. 17.