An immense sphere, if one looks at the scene laid there in the garden, and, on the other hand, that scene in which the last Adam, life-giving Spirit, will present to Himself a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. It surely is part of the special grace of God to His people on an occasion like this that He presents before us so distinctly what, in His mind, this relationship in which many of us stand, and into which this day our brother and sister are entering, points to, not merely as Adam at first, with Eve as a helpmeet, but to that amazing counsel of God brought out since Pentecost, how the Lord Jesus Christ, the last Adam, will present a Bride to Himself without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. I feel the immense importance of this at the present time because all relationships are made so little of amongst men -- no natural affection. Therefore, on entering into any new relationship, it is very important to look to it, whether or not we enter into it and stand in that measure of grace the word of God presents to us as a privilege to those who love the Lord in sincerity and truth. We get the word in Genesis about the man leaving father and mother and cleaving to the wife repeated in Ephesians 5: 31. "As the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing." Oh, what a word that is! God subjected the Church to Christ, chose her in Him before the foundation of the world, and subjected her to Christ, not only for the wilderness, but for eternity, even for the paradise of God, where the Lord Jesus Christ will take her to Himself. She has nothing whatever apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, and He has beautifully put forth what He felt as the responsible One. He has done, He does, and will do every thing. His thoughts have not changed in the least during the 6000 years of man's rebellion. He has done and won all for us; and with the same large heart that took us up He gives us promises, declaring that the same glory which the Father gave to Him He will give to us.
We have found Him the One whose thoughts always are characterized by "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God;" and in the good pleasure of His will Christ became the shelter of the Church. That is a solemn word, when one looks around the world on all the miseries of domestic life, and sees how little the husbands know how to be the shelter of the wives; how little, as individual Christians, we know how to walk like Christ, to say, "This must be done because it is the will of the Father. That must not be done because it is not the will of the Father," and at the same time to be the perfect shelter. The wife should have to recognize, "This is the Father's will." What a change it would make with wives if we that are husbands could take that ground, able to say, "My wife sees I am will-less: as to all unimportant things, let her have her own way!" If I am in the intelligence of Christ, I see how He connects this relationship of the human family with His own relationship to the Church; and I am sure, if I can lay aside my own will and take up His only, I may reckon on having the constant flowing of the water of refreshment. My arm ought to be like the wing of the hen for her chickens, the place of shelter. Of course with that comes authority, but that is not burdensome. She would say, as he, in all unimportant things, where the glory of the Lord is not concerned (there she would have to stand firm as a rock), "This is but a passing thing, and an opportunity of being subject."
I feel a great difficulty and sorrow in looking round at all relationships. Husbands, parents and children, masters and servants, and friends -- there are difficulties in them all, even in friendship. (Who can have walked with a friend twenty years and not found it out?) I cannot say that the state of them in practice is to the Lord's glory. I believe that in every case, when there is anything painful and wrong, we shall find that it is in the higher member the failure comes in first. The first to look at is the one God puts forward as being responsible; yet whatever a husband, a father, a mother, a master, or a mistress, may be, if there is grace in the subordinate members, they will be able to accept the place of subjection to the superior members.
The wife must not say, "Oh, but I have not a shelter in my husband!" Have you no Father in heaven? Cannot you bring His power to bear on him? Cannot you put your will aside, so as to be able to bring in the power of a higher relationship? If you can get that thought, you will be able to get strength and power to meet all.
Child and parent, are you not, as a believer, a child of God? Have you not your Father's ear? You have only to show to your father and mother what Christ showed out towards His parents. Yours will know and own the power, if you are walking with the Lord Jesus Christ and God your Father. The same with servants. We who are masters and mistresses have a very solemn sin lying at our door for not knowing how to form in our houses homes that those who are with us might feel to be places that they covet, and to which, when they leave, they love to turn back, and to look to us for counsel. I ought to be one whom they knew (be they Christians or not) as having a Master in heaven, one ever a master for their blessing. If a servant complained, I ought to say, "Have you been to the Lord, and have you spread out all before Him, all before your Father, and have you found nothing to check complaint?" Of course there are difficulties in every relationship; but, oh, to know what the setting is in which the two jewels are locked together! It is pure gold -- gold, not of Ophir, but the divine antitype, Christ, in heaven. Marriage is like a finger pointing to the union of Christ and the Church, and what a poor-hearted thing he must be who, with the arm of a wife pressing on his own, has never thought of it as pointing to the love of the Lord Jesus Christ for that Church for whom He gave Himself, and which He is to present to Himself without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. G. V. W.