This article considers what engagement is. Christians must see engagement as an expression of a longing for marriage. The author also explains the absolute importance of being one in the faith.

Source: The Banner of Truth (NRC), 1990. 14 pages.

Engagement: A Wonderful Longing

A Wonderful Longing🔗

Our life has many special days and special happenings that occur on certain days live on in our thoughts and memories. One of those significant days is the day of our engagement. We wish to occupy ourselves with what precedes and what follows that day. It is clear that there are certain events and preparations that precede engagement. Moreover, the day of our engagement awakens a longing for the day that the engagement itself anticipates. Therefore it is good that we talk seriously together about it.

What really is engagement? What does it include? The word engagement means to be bound by a promise. We need not say much about the nature of the promise. It is a promise of faithfulness. Hence a promise to marry each other in the future, and to be faithful to one another until that day comes.Engagement

Actually, engagement and marriage are inseparable. Engagement is a promise; marriage is the fulfilment of that promise. In becoming engaged we do well to consider that we are making a promise that may not be made lightly. For that reason our engagement demands good preparation.

When God created man, He created them male and female. He has made the difference between them. He created them so that the one could not be a totality without the other. In His wonderful care to maintain the human race, God has instituted marriage as a holy ordinance. All the works of the Lord reveal His wisdom, but in conjoining the male and the female He displays His wonderful wisdom in an excellent manner. The form which our fathers have composed to confirm the bond of matrimony before the church speaks clearly of this. We do well to consider carefully the reasons why God has instituted marriage. Three reasons are given. Since already at our engagement it is necessary to consider them, we shall first study these three reasons.

"The first reason is," says the form, "that each faithfully assist the other, in all things that belong to this life, and a better."

The second, "That they bring up the children, which the Lord shall give them, in the true knowledge and fear of God, to His glory, and their salvation."

The third reason is: "That each of them, avoiding all uncleanness and evil lusts, may live with a good and quiet conscience. For, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and every woman her own husband; in so much that all, who are come to their years, and have not the gift of continence, are bound by the command of God, to enter into the marriage state, with knowledge and consent of parents, or guardians and friends; so that the temple of God, which is our body, may not be defiled; for, whosoever defileth the temple of God, him shall God destroy."

Although a child notices the physical difference between father and mother, the origin and meaning of this difference is hidden for him. However, a time comes in which the development of the child demands parental instruction, by which he/she is told of the nature and purpose of the difference between the man and the woman. Certainly tact, wisdom, and sensitivity are needed to tell the maturing adolescent the secret of the origin of human life. But parents must not shun that duty. Much damage is done to the emotional life and thoughts when the child receives this information from the obscene stories of friends. It is the duty of the parents to tell children of the wonderful work of God in the lives of people. How beautifully David also speaks of the wonderful power of God in this matter, and how he glorifies the name of the Lord for it when he cries out in Psalm 139:

"For Thou hast possessed my reins: Thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hide from Thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth."

Children need not only instruction, but much more the example of a good relationship between husband and wife, and a happy and harmonious companionship of father and mother in the family circle. When father and mother are constantly quarreling or are cold and loveless toward each other, the child will never be impressed with the beauty of this ordinance of God. Also in this case, example is better than precept.

When the child gradually has come to physical maturity, and has become conscious in his thoughts and feelings of the difference between male and female and of its purpose, there will be a time that a longing for that "other" one becomes alive. If there ever is a time that the child needs the loving guidance of parents, it is at this period in his/her life.

Engagement In this time of life, the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour. Especially in these times various influences work together to draw us into the paths of sin. We are thinking of the influence of the spirit of this age which is evident in all kinds of sinful habits of life. Scripture speaks of evil communications that corrupt good manners. Associating with friends who take God's law lightly can be disastrous. The movies and theaters cooperate to draw away from the paths of righteousness. Displaying that which modesty requires to be covered tends to arouse sinful desires and unclean longings. Let us then flee from such temptations and remember the admonition of the apostle, "Flee youthful lusts."

It is absolutely necessary that we understand that there is a natural desire that God Himself has laid in man, and is the result of His discriminating creation of man and woman. But these natural desires may not be put into practice in a sinful way. Therefore God has instituted marriage. The marriage form indicates this in its third reason why God instituted marriage.

Not with an Unbeliever🔗

Engagement is actually the first more or less official step toward marriage. It is, of course, a matter of great importance which persons shall be engaged to each other.

God's Word speaks of the guidance of God in the lives of all people. The marriage form confesses that guidance very clearly when it says "that He does yet as with His hand bring unto every man his wife." And this is very true. People sometimes say, "All marriages are made in heaven." They mean by that that the counsel of the Lord is executed also in the carrying out of marriage. Every marriage that takes place is according to the counsel of God also unhappy marriages are according to God's counsel.

But we must notice carefully that this does not exclude our human responsibility. We may never appeal to this guidance of God to withdraw from our responsibility. That is nothing other than making a wicked use of the doctrine of providence. A person who enters upon an unhappy marriage by an imprudent, rash decision, can lay the blame only upon himself. Therefore we must use great caution in choosing the one we wish to marry.

Our choosing in the first place must be a matter of prayer. We must ask the Lord to guide us, and to keep us from sinful ways.

In this connection we think of the story of Isaac's marriage. In this story we read that Eliezer, to whom the task of seeking a wife for Isaac was entrusted, prayed, "O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray Thee send me good speed this day." He prayed for God's guidance, and went to work with much caution and prudence, so that he might discern the tokens of God's guidance. In the end he marveled at the disposal of God's providence when he said, "The Lord has led me in the right way" Likewise, we read that Isaac went out to meditate in the field. Emphatically the inspired writer relates this in connection with the story of Isaac's marriage so that we may be certain that his prayer in the field was also connected with his marriage.

When our choice of him or her whom we wish to marry is a matter of prayer, we will be careful that we do not bind ourselves to someone whom the Lord in His Word forbids us to marry. In this connection there are clear statements in God's Word. The Lord forbade Israel to allow their sons to marry the daughters of the Canaanites. In this commandment for Israel also lies a commandment for the New Testament church. We must therefore consider this seriously.

When we find someone to whom we would like to bind ourselves but who does not embrace the doctrine of truth, we must not wave this matter aside, saying that it will be all right and later we will talk about it. Many marriages that began with the best of intentions, also regarding the confession of the truth, later proved to be continual hardship for both parties. The difference that they first considered a trifle became a wedge that continued to drive husband and wife farther apart. The appeal some men make to what the apostle declares in 1 Corinthians 7:10-16 is ungrounded, since the apostle there speaks of a person who came to the knowledge of faith in Christ after his or her marriage. The apostle urges such a person to remain with his or her spouse. Hence we may not apply this admonition to those who are not yet married, for Paul evidently refers to those who are married. For us it is impor­tant to heed his admonition that we be not unequally yoked to unbelievers as we can read in 2 Corinthians 6:14.Engagement

This commandment is clear and cannot be contradicted. God forbids the mingling of the "holy seed" with the children of the world. Sometimes the persons involved think that once the marriage is performed, agreement will be reached in this matter. Also we sometimes hear the foolish thought that by such a marriage a person who is estranged from the Christian truth will be brought to the doctrine of Christ. The apostle, however, strongly counsels against such an alliance when he says that no believer shall be yoked with an unbeliever. By the word "believers" we denote people who confess the Christian truth and want to live according to it, and by "unbelievers" we mean those who are estranged from the knowledge of the truth. But then we must not try to obscure the seriousness of the issue by using sophistry. Perhaps we appeal to an example with which we are familiar, by which we seem to be justified in our opinion in this matter.

We know that there are examples of marriages that began in wrong ways, but finally by the grace of God became blessed and happy marriages. But that did not happen as a result of the wrong beginning, but in spite of it. There are, on the other hand, many other examples that prove to us that we cannot slight God's law with impunity. We think of the marriage of Samson with the Philistine woman. This marriage was not outside of God's counsel. It even had to serve to give Samson an occasion to grapple with the Philistines, but the marriage itself was unlawful. Samson's parents were at first justly opposed to this marriage, and asked Samson whether there was no wife for him among the daughters of his people. This marriage brought no blessing to him, although it served the counsel of God.

We could also mention Solomon's alliances with strange women. Solomon was beloved of the Lord, endowed with great wisdom of which the fear of the Lord was the beginning. But even in his life the strange women drew his heart away from God so far that he caused altars to be erected for strange idols.

We can also notice in this connection what we read in Genesis 6:2, "The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose." When this min­gling of the generation of Seth with the generation of Cain continued, the destruc­tion of the first world was hastened.

The examples are too clear to soothe ourselves with the idea that it will not be as bad as anticipated. A first requisite, therefore, is that in this most essential matter – that is, in religion – there must be a unity of feeling and thought before marriage. If there is no unity here, the marriage will seldom bring a true unity. In marriage it is not only necessary to be one physically, but also to be one in religious matters.

Dangerous Compromise!🔗

Naturally there can also be cases where the one to whom we wish to join ourselves promises to comply with the thoughts and wishes of the other, and to place him- or herself under the doc­trine and discipline of the Christian truth. Then they have at least spoken together about this important matter of religion. That is better than the preceding case which we spoke of – those who enter wedlock easily, minimizing the question of religion, and with a groundless, over-confident, optimistic hope for a change of opinion in the future. Still also in this we must be careful. Joining the church of the Lord must al­ways be an honest and sincere commitment. We may never do this with reservations. When someone joins a church only because one's boyfriend or girlfriend belongs to that church, he or she is not being entirely honest. One must be thoroughly convinced of the truth of the doctrine of the Lord before one joins the church. If we only join the church of God to be able to marry the person of our choice, then such an affiliation is not a true relationship from the heart.

In this connection we can point again to a few biblical examples. We are thinking of the history of Dinah. Hamor and Shechem were willing to accept the terms of Jacob's family in the matter of religion. But why? Read what Scripture tells us of the motive for this transition:

"And Hamor and Shechem his son came unto the gate of their city, and communed with the men of their city, saying, these men are peaceable with us; therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; for the land, behold, it is large enough for them; let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters. Only herein will the men consent unto us for to dwell with us, to be one people, if every male among us be circumcised, as they are circumcised. Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of theirs be ours? only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us." Genesis 34:20-23

This then was the motive for the transition of the Shechemites to the church of Jacob, so that the marriage of Shechem and Dinah could take place. Such a motive is not pure. The Lord will not command His blessing upon it. Therefore we should be careful with such a transition. It may only take place when the person who wants to change is personally convinced of the truth and wants to make the change regardless of a possible marriage or other matters. Only then can a tie with one who is of another persuasion be responsible when the other abandons that other persuasion with conviction, and wholeheartedly wants to place himself under the doctrine of the Lord and to conduct himself according to God's Word.

Engagement The reason we give this matter so much attention is related to the first and second causes for the institution of marriage. In these we read that they should faithfully assist one another, and that they bring up the children that the Lord shall give them, in the true knowledge and fear of God to His glory. When we speak of assisting each other in matters belonging to life eternal, we must ask whether it is possible if in these matters there may be such a great difference of opinion. Both during our en­gagement and in matrimony we must be able to speak very open-heartedly about those things that concern the kingdom of God. Among other things that must certainly be included in "assisting each other in matters belonging to life eternal." It is very clear that here a difference of opinion regarding fundamental issues becomes a gulf that separates husband and wife, and makes true unity impossible. Moreover there can be no bringing up of the children in the knowledge and fear of God when the father and mother differ from each other in the matter of religion. Our biblical doctrine must influence our entire life. There is not only Christian doctrine, but also Christian living.

In the education of children questions arise that concern both: Will they go to a Christian school or not? Will they go to catechism or not? Will they attend church or not? And to say nothing about all other matters that arise when bringing up children, such as the means and opportunities for recreation in which the difference between the parents will clearly reveal itself. This, of course, causes tensions in the family which can undermine the marriage. It often causes irreparable harm to the happiness of the children.

If experience teaches that even when there is oneness in fundamental matters, tension-causing differences often reveal themselves in regard to practical questions, what must it then be in a family where there is an essential difference of opinion between father and mother regarding those things that are of utmost importance in our life? The result of such marriages in such a situation is an almost hopeless confusion in which the peace of matrimonial life often is disrupted, the children being the victims.

In this connection let us also think of what we read in the book of Nehemiah, where we are told of Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab, whose children spoke half in the speech of Ashdod and half according to the language of each people, but could not speak in the Jews' language. That was the result of mixed marriages. That is the way it will undoubtedly go when such mixture takes place. Usually the result is that they cannot speak the "Jews' language; and therefore we do well to stay far away from any mingling.

The Necessity of Oneness in Church Affiliation🔗

In preceding pages, we have counseled strongly against mixed marriages. But now we live in a time in which the church of God is rent. We cannot and may not say that the true doctrine is preached in only one denomination. In various denominations there are ministers who rightly divide the word of truth, although there may be a difference in emphasis.

From the nature of the case it can happen, and often does happen, that two people who feel alike about the essence of eternal matters are drawn to each other. When there is no difference of opinion about the important, yes, the most important matters, a difference in church denomination need not be a hindrance to a good marriage. Nevertheless it is necessary to realize beforehand that the oneness which must be established in marriage does not allow us to go to separate churches. However closely two people are related to each other in spiritual matters, continuing to go to separate churches has often given cause to many sad circumstances. Therefore, for the sake of unity in the family, a decision must be made which will bring them to oneness in the church affiliation. These matters must never be left to take their own course. Let us never postpone those things till later. For when that "later" comes, it can cause so much conflict and disagreement that the harmony of matrimony is seriously impaired. Before becoming engaged these things must be calmly discussed, and together we must solve the problems.Engagement

When the form indicates the first cause why God has instituted marriage, it speaks of faithfully assisting each other in the things that belong not only to eternal life, but also assisting each other in the things that belong to temporal life. That is also very important, for in matrimony two people are brought together and shall live together from day to day. Naturally they also want to speak about the things that occupy them every day. Therefore it is advisable that the two who are marrying do not differ too much in position, nor in education. If the one partner is much less educated than the other, it is to be desired that every attempt is made to lift up the one to the level of the other, so that the difference does not bring about undesired tensions in the marriage. Wide differences between man and wife are not desired, for which reason Justus Vermeer in his explanation of the seventh commandment advises people:

"to marry one of the same age group, and of the same stratum of society. Nevertheless, we must say that notwithstanding a wide difference in these matters, a marriage can be blessed and happy. The indispensable requirement is mutual affection, sin­cere love, which is a strong cement that binds to one another, helps to bear things, and to lead gently. Husband and wife must meet each other here, and the oath they once swore to be faithful to each other must give support."

Besides all we have written, we must not forget that a marriage may not be merely based on rational considerations which would make it desirable. Such marriages which they used to call "marriages de raison" were often made in earlier days, and in certain circles they still occur. Then they do not ask whether there is any mutual affection but for various reasons such a marriage is considered expedient, and is carried out. Such marriages must be condemned.

If God's guidance is revealed in any matter regarding marriage, it is in this – that He stirs up love, and causes two persons to long for and desire each other. That love is a fruit of God's common grace. It is a wonderful gift of the Lord. Who can really explain love? Who can really say why a man desires a certain woman, and none other? Or why a woman desires that one man for a husband, to go through life with him? Not much can be written about this, for it is a matter that can better be experienced than discussed intellectually. Does not the writer of Proverbs also say this when he cries out that among the three things that are too wonderful for him, yes, four that he knows not, that this is included: "the way of a man with a maid." Annotations on this text say: "The wonder is both the exceptional combination of his heart with the maid, and also the wonderful means he uses to enjoy her." Well then, if Solomon says that this love is wonderful, and that he cannot explain it, we would do well not even to attempt it.

Love or Passion?🔗

Now we must write about one more matter, because Scripture speaks about it, namely, love and passion. We are thinking of the story of Amnon. He loved his half-sister Tamar. This was a fiery and burning love, but after a short time that love was cooled, and turned into hatred, so much so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her.

This love proved to be no love. Love does not seek itself first of all. There is a great difference between love and passion. Many have been mistaken in this matter to their great grief. The latter is only a longing which passes as soon as that longing is satisfied.

It is undeniable that in the love between husband and wife there is also an element of this passion.

The love between a boy and a girl is different from the love between parents and children. In the latter there is nothing of erotic affection, but in the first there is. Although in a good marriage erotism cannot be lacking, it may never have the highest place.

The love of Amnon was nothing but erotic love, and such a love which we can better call passion, as an expression of sensual lust can never be a good foundation for a Christian marriage. We do well to examine ourselves carefully in this matter. But since men often de­ceive themselves, especially in this, it is wise to listen to good counsel.

The government has made statutory regulations, by which certain marriages are forbidden. Near blood-relationship precludes marriage possibilities. From the earliest times the church has concerned itself also with these marriages.

In this the church follows the state. Therefore the church does not perform a marriage that the state does not first permit.Engagement

Especially with second marriages of people whose first marriage was dissolved by divorce, the church must make sure that the Word of God permits this second marriage. Happily, in our circles engagements or marriages that are hindered by legal or church regulations are only sporadic.

For us the cooperation of the parents in bringing about the engagement and the marriage is far more important. The form for the confirmation of marriage also speaks of this, for it says "with knowledge and consent of parents or guardians and friends." This then must also be very important for us.

The task of the parents concerning the engagement and marriage is very important. Or do you think this is a matter in which you can act without their knowledge? Shall we merely expect the approval of our parents in our marriage, and are our parents obliged to give their approval when we ask for it?

Have not our parents in self-sacrificing love sought our welfare and salvation, even from our early days? Do they not know us and our concerns as no one else does? Certainly, and therefore it is unbecoming for children to think and say that this is a matter they can regulate without their parents. As soon as possible we should speak to our parents and listen to their counsel in such matters as these with seriousness and subjection.

Of course, in giving counsel the parents must be led only by the interests of the children. No jealousy, injured pride, disappointed expectation, or egotistical love of self may influence our counsel. It may certainly happen that the parents had hoped or wished for another alliance, but that must have no influence upon their counsel. The interest of the child must be their sole concern. Wisdom and love, patience and meekness, persuasion and tact are necessary to keep their children from paths that seem destructive.

The commandment of the Lord that says, "Honor thy father and mother; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth," is also applicable here. How many marriages that were contracted against the good and well-meant advice of the parents have proved that it would have been better if they had never been contracted. It is better to heed the advice of parents early, than to bemoan later that you have rejected their well-meant counsel.

Of course that counsel must be well-founded. There must be good reasons why the parents refuse to give their permission. If it should become evident that parental consent was refused upon grounds contrary to the Word of God, the marriage can still be confirmed ecclesiastically.

May It Be Broken?🔗

After a time of acquaintance in which serious consideration was given to the above matters, and finally the day arrives in which they intend to promise faithfulness to each other; that is an important day.

After a more or less secret association, the relationship takes on a more official appearance. The association is not yet officially binding, although we may not lightly arouse expectations in our friend. In the process of becoming acquainted the purpose is to try our mutual affections and to find out whether there are sufficient grounds to continue going with each other.Engagement

If it becomes evident that the mutual affection is not of such a nature that they can endure each other also in the idiosyncrasies by which one personality differs from another, and that instead of feeling a firmer tie, the two draw farther apart, then the association must be ended as soon as possible. It must not continue if in their heart they dread it more and more, for continuing it may bind the heart of the other closer and closer and may encourage expectations that cannot be realized.

Yet it may happen in a relationship, that although there is an affection that is true and pure, there are reasons why an engagement must be ended. In this connection we are thinking especially about a difference of opinion regarding fundamental questions. If there is such a difference, or if the difference becomes more evident as the association progresses, then, if no persuasion by which we wish to lead the other to the knowledge of the truth avails, the relationship must be cut off. Of course, this means a sacrifice, but such a sacrifice must be made, even though the possibility of another association is cut off by such action.

It may be that a person must bear the cross of an affection which, for the Lord's sake and because of His commandment, can never lead to matrimony. We have already explained why that is. Remember, however painful breaking off the relationship with one for whom we feel a true affection may be, the continuation of that relationship may lead to a heavier cross.

I once heard of a Roman Catholic man who was married to a Protestant woman. Both cherished a pure love for each other, but both were serious in their convictions. Against the counsel of many they still married. Although their affection did not change and they continued to love each other as persons, also as husband and wife, they both admitted that it had been better if they had never married. Their being of different religious persuasions has made their married life a cross for them be­cause at various occasions, especially in regard to their children, this very deep gulf between them was evident, and it made life a trial also for the children.

Therefore it is always better to bear the cross of loneliness, in which the Lord can support us, than the cross of an artificial communion in which not only the two people are involved, but also the children.

When the engagement is established, a pleasant time arrives. Many, after they are married, often think with pleasure on the time of their engagement. This period has its own charm, and is unique in one's life. It is a time of looking forward to the day when the promises made to each other shall be fulfilled. Both are living for that day. It is a time of preparation and planning. Each one of the engaged couple has his own duties. The boy prepares himself either by studying or by laboring for the task that awaits him as the head of the family, the task of protecting and providing. The knowledge that he shall soon take his bride into his home will no doubt stimulate him to be zealous in doing his duty. He is then not working for himself alone, but is continually conscious of the fact that he is also working for his beloved, and for the family that he hopes to build with her.

The girl also has her own task, her specific feminine task. She has the care of everything that belongs to future housekeeping. How life has its own charm in that time!

The parents, too, enjoy themselves in the preparations of their children. How close the mother stands to the daughter as she advises and instructs her out of her own experience! Often such a time binds mother and daughter more closely together.

How delightful is the communion of lovers during the engagement! They are brought closer and closer together. All their conversations and discussions are related to the future. Their communion, although observing the necessary guardedness, becomes less strained and more free. For themselves they are already bride and bridegroom, for their promises of faithfulness – the symbol of which they often have on their finger, have bound them to each other. He who loves his bride-to-be will guard her purity.Engagement

However, can such a bond still be broken? Alas, it can and does happen, but it should not take place lightly. Of course it is possible that during the engagement things happen which make it desirable and necessary to break the engagement. It may be that one of them is unfaithful. Such an unfaithfulness includes the breaking of the engagement. Such an unfaithfulness is contrary to the law of God, for if we are bound to each other by promises, then every faithless breaking of such a promise is a sin against the seventh and ninth commandments. There can also be other reasons, for instance, when they find they have not the love for each other they thought they had. Painful as it may be for both parties, still it is better to break up before they marry.

Watch and Pray!🔗

The time of engagement is a beautiful time of life, but this time also has its dangers.

As the engaged pair comes closer together, and communication becomes more free, it may happen that desires are awakened for that which is only permitted in marriage. It is perfectly understandable that the longings for each other grow stronger the more you go with each other. It is clear that during the engagement the tensions can become very great. Especially so since in the present circumstances of life the engagement can last unusually long.

Still we must earnestly warn you here, especially since modern opinions open for us the way to sin without fearing the dangers. However, we must maintain unequivocally the law of God concerning the chastity of life, also for engaged couples. Against the ideas of modern man we must place only the holy testimony of the Lord. Therefore we should shun, also during our engagement, whatever might stimulate sinful desires. Do not reach out for that which God in His laws of creation grants as a beautiful gift to husband and wife in the bounds of a lawful marriage.

Engagement Although the time in which we live offers many possibilities of living in sin, without showing the result, we must remember that we must not hate sin because of the results it may have, but because sin itself deserves to be condemned. Even if we may live before the eyes of men so that we give no offense, there is a God who sees all things. May we ever in our conversation with each other be conscious of the omniscience of God.

The wedding day is deprived of much that is beautiful when because of sinful action we are obliged to make haste to be joined together in marriage. Moreover, we must always consider that an unlawful reaching for the communication that is only permitted within the bounds of a legal marriage, can have such bitter results. Living together in marriage according to the ordinances of God is related to reproduction. Hence it is an act in which we must be very conscious of our responsibility to possible posterity.

How can we consider such a deed as a responsible act outside of marriage? If death takes the man away before the date set for the wedding (and how quickly that can happen) then a child shall be born that cannot have the father's name; then the mother must go through life with a mark of shame as being an unwed mother. Also for that reason we must refrain from acts which may bear such bitter fruits.

We know that temptations can be great and strong. Therefore the admo­nition is pressing: "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.''

One of God's servants once prayed, "Lord, withhold from me the opportunity to sin when I have the inclination, and withhold the inclination when I have the opportunity to sin." In the midst of temptations of which there are so many during our engagement we would do well to make this prayer our own.

Against all temptations also in these matters, we would commend the way of prayer. Let no man glory in his own strength. Also in this time let our prayer be the sixth petition of the perfect prayer, which the Heidelberg Catechism paraphrases thus:

"Since we are so weak in ourselves, that we cannot stand for a moment; and besides this, since our mortal enemies, the devil, the world, and our own flesh, cease not to assault us, do Thou therefore preserve and strengthen us by the power of Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not be overcome in this spiritual warfare, but constantly and strenuously may resist our foes, till at last we obtain a complete victory."

God's people always need this prayer because of all the enemies that lay snares for their soul. May the Lord by His Spirit also make it our prayer in our youth. If one has stumbled and fallen into sin, let him remember that the Lord says, "Whoso confesses and forsakes his sins shall have mercy." Also for this sin reconciliation can be found in the blood that cleanses from all sin.

Thus we have made a few remarks about engagement, and what is connected with it. Still I do not want to conclude without showing the engaged couple that although marriage is an ordinance of God its character is but transitory.

Our life on earth is transitory, hence also our marriage. The times in which we live bear evidence in the signs of which Jesus spoke, when He pointed to the end of all things. In the distress of the last times God does not forbid us to marry, nor to prepare for that event, but He does say by the apostle "Remember, the time is short." There­fore we may not cling more than is proper to the things of our natural life, but we should always consider that we are traveling to eternity, so that with all our preparations for things that take place in our temporal life we must consider making preparations so that one day we may be able to meet God who shall bring all things into judgment.

One day we shall also come before the Lord's judgment seat with our engagement. Many engagements are broken by death, and so we must consider that also our engagement may be broken by the Lord in such an often unexpected way. And consequently also for engaged couples these words of counsel are appropriate:

"Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment."
"Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity."

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