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residence of the attesting witness or witnesses, and the time and place of the marriage, must also be stated. The certificate shall also state that, after due inquiry is made, there appeared no lawful impediment to such marriage; and it shall be signed by the person making it."
From this it is obvious that very few of the certificates heretofore issued are in conformity with the law. This in no wise invalidates the maraiage, though the "neglect" to conform the certificate to the requirements of the law, exposes the administrator to a fine of fifty dollars.
5. The importance of fully identifying parties not personally known to the minister is very obvious. Persons may be married under assumed names to avoid a charge of bigamy, or in order that some other party may inherit an estate. Many believe that another individual personated Dr. Burdell, in his alleged marriage with Mrs. Cunningham, in New York, for some such purpose. Every minister, therefore, should be well satisfied that he is really marrying the parties he supposes.
6. The age at which the parties may contract marriage, with the consent of their parents or guardians, differs somewhat in the several States. In New York a marriage may be annulled, in certain cases, where the female is under fourteen at the time of the marriage. In Wisconsin males may marry at the age of eighteen, and females at fifteen." In other States: Virginia, 14 and 12; Ohio, 18 and 14. The common-law rule which fixes the age at 14 and 12, prevails in Massachusetts.* The age is left in the same way in the State of New York, that is, at 14 and 12, upon the rule of the common-law; but this is only where parents or guardians consent. But to marry a minor, without such consent, is not only doing as no minister would
* Kent's Commentaries, Vol. ii. p. 44, note.
like to be done by, but is also to expose the administrator to a suit for civil damages, if nothing more. Marriage should never be celebrated, therefore, between parties younger than 18 and 21 respectively, unless by the explicit consent of their parents or guardians.
7. The free consent of both contracting parties is essential to a valid marriage; and a marriage would be null and void if either of the parties was in a state of intoxication, such as would incapacitate him or her for entering into any other contract. *
8. Ministers and others officiating in the city of New York are required by law to report all marriages to the city inspector, to be recorded; and to pay him ten cents for such record.†
9. Ministers may sue for and collect the sum of one dollar for every marriage service, solemnized and reported in accordance with the statute of the State of New York.
10. "Every minister or magistrate who shall solemnize a marriage where either of the parties within his knowledge shall be under the age of legal consent, or an idiot, or lunatic, or to which within his knowledge any legal impediment exists, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by fine or imprisonment, or both, in the discretion of the court by which he shall be tried." It is, of course a legal impediment, if either party has a husband or wife living, or is physically imbecile. Ministers should be careful, therefore, how they unite strangers in marriage; not only to avoid doing a moral wrong to parents, as in cases of " runaway matches;" but to avoid a violation of the laws
* Kent, Vol. ii. p. 42, and note.
This provision was stoutly resisted by the Roman Catholics of New York city, and is utterly ignored by them, no one of their priests paying any attention to it. And the politicians will of course let them have their own way.
of the land, and the liability of subsequent exposure and punishment.
Such is the substance of the common-law, and of the laws of the several States, upon the subject of marriage.
SUGGESTIONS AS TO THE PERFORMANCE OF MARRIAGE CEREMONIES.
1. MARRIAGES usually occur either at the house or study of the minister; at the house of the bride's parents, or in a church. If the ceremony is desired at the residence of the bride's parents, or in a church, the presumption is that all is right, age, consent, &c., even if the minister does not personally know the parties.
2. If the bride's parents are living, and the ceremony is desired at the house of some friend, or even at the parsonage, the presumption is that all may not be right; and the minister should be the more cautious. Especially should he be so if there seems to be undue haste or secrecy, and the administrator is unacquainted with either the parties or the proposed witnesses. The writer has had two cases during his ministry, where the parties applying with their intended brides, have admitted, upon being closely questioned, that they had each a wife still living. It requires the exercise of a sound judgment, and no little caution on the part of ministers, to avoid mistakes, and to guard at the same time the rights of parents and guardians, their own reputation and interests, and the sacred institution of marriage.
3. Whenever a minister is employed to celebrate a marriage, his being employed implies that the parties desire the ceremony to be a religious one. While, therefore, the minister should regard himself as exercising both a civil and a religious function, he should give to the ceremony the cast and aspect of a purely religious ceremony. Let aldermen and justices of the peace make a joke of it, and marry people without prayer or even seriousness, if they will; but let ministers understand their calling better. So far as solemnity, dignity, and deliberation are concerned, they should marry people precisely as they would baptize them, or administer the Lord's Supper; though marriage is no more a sacrament than the ordaining of a minister.
4. The administrator should be cool and deliberate, avoiding haste and nervousness, and taking time to render the service impressive and solemn. If in a church, this is especially important. For a large party to assemble at a church to hear a ceremony and a prayer, together but a minute or two in length, is a sort of mockery, which minifies the whole institution. The best ceremony, therefore, for a church is the full marriage service, as given on pages 7 and onward.
5. The abridged services, pages 11 and 13, are better adapted to a private family wedding, at the residence of the bride's father; though even there some will desire the full service, while others will nervously beg, "let the ceremony be as short as possible!"
6. Parties coming to the pastor's residence are apt to prefer a short service; and in order to avoid embarrassment, and that there may be no misunderstanding, it is well, whenever practicable, for the minister to ascertain the wishes of the parties as to the character of the service; and especially whether or not they wish to be married with a ring.
If they do, they should if practicable, have the privilege of looking over the service you design to employ. And when the full service is desired, the parties should study the ceremony (if indeed they do not previously practice it in private) that there may be no awkward blunder on their part, in public, to mar the solemnity of the occasion.
7. No minister, of course, would marry a couple without prayer. The prayer, though not long, (say three or four minutes,) should be solemn, comprehensive and appropriate. To pray for a revival, or for the heathen, or for our country or rulers, on such an occasion, would be palpably out of place. So would a vehement or boisterous prayer. And a prayer but a minute long, scarce alluding to the parties, their relatives, or the occasion, would be equally inappropriate and defective. These observations apply mainly to cases where an abridged service is used, as no extemporaneous prayer is expected where the full service is employed.
The prayer should recognize the parties married especially; the parents, brothers and sisters, and other interested relatives; not, perhaps, as individuals, but as classes. We refer here more especially to large weddings in families and churches; but the same general rule will apply in most other
8. The posture of the parties and guests during prayer, is worthy of consideration. Some ministers stand while others kneel in prayer. If the wedding is at the parsonage, or at a private house, and the parties are not professed Christians, and do not wish to kneel, it will usually be best for the minister to remain standing during prayer, even if he prefer a kneeling posture; upon the same principle that we defer to the usages of other churches and stand whenever we pray in one of their pulpits. The parties and guests can then stand with the minister without embarrassment But if the