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narrative, however, which assumes the period of the nuptial union to be arrived or close at hand, must suppose the period assigned to the duration of the nuptial contract to be past. The ceremonial of the parabolic representation is consequently strictly that of a wedding, and not of espousals ; though the ceremonial of a wedding itself, as being the consummation of the nuptial contract, presupposes the ceremony of the espousals, and the transaction of the interval allotted to the duration of the nuptial contract, before its own action can begin.
The persons, then, who could be described as taking part in a transaction like this, would necessarily be such, and such alone, as could be concerned in the celebration of a marriage solemnity. Among these, it is evident, that one, to sustain the character of the bridegroom, and another, to sustain the character of the bride, would be the most essential and indispensable of all; whose proper relation to each other, from the time of the formation of the nuptial contract, to the period of the marriage solemnity, would be that of the espouser and of the espoused, and after it, that of the husband and the wife. One such personage is accordingly spoken of, and a part is attributed to him, which could be assigned to none but the bridegroom, and consequently to none but the principal party, in the history of such a transaction as the consummation of a marriage union. But the correlative party to this, and next to the bridegroom, the most important of all, however necessarily to be understood, is not distinctly specified. The true reason of this omission may appear hereafter. At present it is sufficient to observe, in explanation of it, that if the personal agency of the bride was not concerned in the nature and effect of the transaction, about to be recorded; the existence of such a person might be left to implication, without being expressly mentioned.
fulness in either of the parties, was considered and resented as equivalent to adultery.
Next to the two principal parties, those who would naturally be most concerned in the transaction of such an event as their marriage union, would be the mutual or the individual friends of each ; whose proper relation to the nature of an occasion like a marriage solemnity, would be that of the guests invited to the nuptial festivity, which celebrates the union of the principal parties, and who are intended to take part in it along with them. Among these subordinate parties, the reason of the thing, and the established usage of the Jews in the celebration of marriage festivities, would render it presumptively probable that the friends and attendants of the bride would be of one sex, and form one class of the guests, and those of the bridegroom would be of the opposite sex, and would constitute another class b.
b Origen, Operum iii. 12. A-B.; or Hieron. Operr, ü. 809. ad med.; In Canticum Canticorum, it is observed, with respect to the nature and variety of the persons, who take a part in the Song of Solomon, Orantibus autem nobis, et revelante Domino, quatuor mihi in his videor invenisse personas, virum et sponsam, cum sponsa adolescentulas, cum sponso sodalium greges. alia dicuntur a sponsa, alia a sponso, nonnulla a juvenculis, quædam a sodalibus sponsi. congruum quippe est ut in nuptiis adole. scentularum sit multitudo cum sponsa, juvenum turba cum sponso. Cf. the xviii. Idyll. of Theocritus, which is an epitha
The particulars of the celebration of a nuptial solemnity, dated with the arrival of the nuptial evening, naturally divide themselves into those which precede the commencement of the nuptial feast, and those which follow upon it; to the former of which we may give the name of the nuptial preparation, and to the latter that of the nuptial consummation. The circumstances of the nuptial preparation would consist of the following particulars: the previous
lamium, or nuptial song upon the marriage of Menelaus and Helen : and the lxi. lxii. and lxiv, Carmina of Catullus, all which are epithalamia, or nuptial songs also.
That it was usual among the Jews, at least, for the bridal procession of females to be accompanied by a retinue of friends of their own age and sex, appears from the testimony of the forty-fifth Psalm ; which speaking of the union whether of a real or a mystical bride, in the character of a queen, to a real or a mystical bridegroom, in the character of a king, (which so far as concerns the custom, the foundation of such allusions, would be indifferent,) uses this language, in reference to the supposed attendants on the queen :
9“ King's daughters were among thy honourable women: “ upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.
14 “ She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needle“work; the virgins her companions that follow her shall be “ brought unto thee.
15 “ With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought; they “shall enter into the king's palace.”
Chrysostom, Comm. in Nov. T. v. 128. C. in i. ad Corinthios, Hom. xii., speaking of the marriage-ceremonies in his day, recognizes the presence of young women about the bride, as fol. lows ; και το δη χαλεπώτερον, ότι και παρθένοι παραγίνονται τούτοις, πασαν αποδυσάμεναι την αιδώ, είς τήν της νυμφευομένης τιμήν, μάλλον 8è üßpuv, x', .. Again, in Acta Apostolorum Homil. xxxiv. tom. ii. 310. A.; kabámep yàp étrì vúuøns, kâv taotúdes wou ik παραπετασμάτων χρυσών, κάν χοροί ωσι γυναικών ευειδεστάτων, και καλών, κάν ρόδα, κάν στέμματα, κάν ο νυμφίος καλός ή, και αι θερά. παιναι, και αι φίλαι, κάν πάντες ευπρεπείς ωσιν ... όφελος ουδέν. VOL. V.
assemblage of the common or individual friends of the two principal parties about each, in quality of their guests at the approaching feast; the previous junction of both the bridal parties with the proper attendance of each; and the previous procession of all in common to the house where the nuptial feast was to be kept. The circumstances of the nuptial consummation would consist of all those ceremonies, which were usual upon such occasions, when the celebration of the feast had begun. It is manifest, then, that the precise point of time which separates these two periods from each other, as integral parts of the same ceremony, is the arrival of the nuptial party at the house where the nuptial feast is to be kept. Whatever precedes this point of time, in the æconomy of the same ceremony, belongs to the nuptial preparation—whatever follows upon it, to the nuptial consummation ; and though successive parts of one and the same ceremony, and both alike necessary to the effect of the whole, yet they are so far distinct from each other, that either of them might furnish the groundwork of a different parabolic representation, and either of them, as furnishing such a groundwork, might be directed to a proper moral use of its own.
Now this distinction is observed to prevail with respect to the parabolic representation in the present instance. The part of the æconomy of a nuptial solemnity, selected for the narrative, is the nuptial preparation, not the nuptial consummation; for beginning with the arrival of the nuptial night, the detail of its circumstances is brought down to the very eve of the celebration of the nuptial feast; but it does not pass to the description of the feast. It fol
lows from this distinction, first, that the proper relation of the principal parties to each other, for the period embraced by the action of the parable, however near it may be brought to the relation of the married state, is still strictly that of the future husband and the future wife; in other words, still that of the bridegroom and the bride: secondly, that the proper relation of the subordinate characters to the nature of the occasion in which they take part, independent of their personal relation to the bridegroom or to the bride, as the mutual or private friends of each—for the same period of time, is the relation of the guests invited, but not yet admitted to the celebration of the nuptial feast. Nor is this an unimportant distinction; for, as we have often had occasion to observe, the relation of a guest invited is not necessarily that of a guest admitted to a festivity of this description; and under the circumstances of the case, the relation of a guest invited to a wedding-feast, in the East, (regard being had to the peculiar usages with which such weddings were celebrated among them,) might never be succeeded by that of a guest admitted to ita. The relation, then, of a guest invited to a ceremony of this description, inay be the relation of one, possessed of a valuable or desirable privilege in prospect, but not necessarily sure of enjoying it at last : a privilege, which even as possessed by him in prospect, must be derived from his personal relation to some one else, but as retained to the end, must altogether depend on himself.
The relation of the principal and the subordinate parties being thus accommodated to each other, and
a Vide supra, vol. iii. 450—452.