It has happened.

They are married.

One is a member of the church, the other is not, or rather, one is a member of the church and the other is a member by baptism of a church which has forsaken the reformed faith, but since baptism has had no reformed nurturing.

It is a marriage that has its beginning in disobedience. The Lord has ordained and permitted marriage, but He has commanded that we marry “in the Lord.” This was not the case here, therefore it is a marriage contracted in disobedience. It is a marriage, the result of rebellion, because the young lady had been repeatedly warned against intering into marriage with an unbeliever, but she had done it nevertheless. It is a marriage which prefigures apostacy because the young lady has pledged fellowship with an unbeliever, and the arrow for her future life points to apostacy.

For all these reasons such a marriage is desperately sinful and warning against it cannot easily be overdone.

But now it happened.

Now What?

What will the fellow Christians and fellow members of her church do now?

Tongues are liable to wag. Naturally men will express their disgust with such a marriage. Men will. lament over what our next generation is coming to and what terrible things our young people dare to do. Stories are liable to make the rounds. Others may mumble something about the corruption our young people are bringing into the church. People may look down on the young couple. And others will probably have their “church pride” injured.

Two things at once arise before us.

The young lady has fallen into sin. But if someone have fallen into sin others may not lash them with their tongues nor dagger them with their eyes. This will not help the matter. If a sinner hardens in her sin Scripture prescribes the “last remedy” but this young lady, although she has been disobedient, is not hardened in her sin. She will have to pay the penalty for her error, but she is at present a fallen sinner. One of the members of the church has stumbled into sin and has fallen into the clutches of the evil one. She now stands on a dangerous ledge.

The first duty of the church and the Christian individually is “to restore such an one” if perhaps God may give her the spirit of repentance. Just because she has fallen so miserably it is no sign that she should be given over to Satan. If we should despise her because she offended our pride as respectable church, we might learn from the event of the woman taken in adultery that sometimes there are sins which are greater than adultery. . . .pride for instance. But if we understand that we all offend daily and if we can learn to sorrow properly, we shall sympathize with her that has fallen and will seek to restore her.

The marriage cannot be undone. But perhaps she can be saved from the ruin of apostacy toward which her marriage points.

The devil is a sheep-scatterer, the church is a sheep gatherer. The church seeks to gather His sheep, also those who have set foot on the wrong way. The elders not only, and first, will give this young lady all assistance, but each one of the Christians will do all m his power to gather the sheep of Christ.

We can pray for her. We can rejoice when we see her at the divine service, and show it; we can grieve for it when we miss her there and also show that. If she misses the services tell her what she missed by not being in church last Sunday. Tell her that you missed her, that God required that we attend His services diligently. The pulpit preaches repentance tt her also and assures forgiveness to her too if she repents.

The Young Man

At present he is an unbeliever, opposed to the truth and existing in great ignorance.

But under the providence of God this young man has come very close to the things of the Kingdom. He has despised his baptism, and that is a heinous sin. But who can tell what the Lord will do for Him? Look what the Lord did for us, look what He made out of us, look at the raw material out of which God has built His Church throughout the centuries. The sons of Jacob out of which God built Israel were very raw material when we see them operating in Shechem and Dothan. Who shall say what the Lord will do for this young man who comes near to us from out of the sphere of the world.

If his wife can be made to see the error of her way, she will be a tremendous influence in the life of this young man. She will be the primary influence.

But we all shall be interested. For the church is engaged in church-gathering throughout the ages, and sometimes the sheep must be gathered from unexpected corners. The question is not first how promising is the material with which God gives us to work, but the first matter is that there is material here and we ought to work. As the work progresses God will discover to us what are His intentions.

The Word of God must be brought to him, and that in a very particular way. The young man must be made to feel that we desire for him the knowledge of truth and salvation which we have. He must come to see the wretched condition in which he lies and be pointed to the Mediator. He must learn to know the Reformed faith and be instructed in the true doctrine as the church confesses it. If this young man does enter the fold of the church he must not be a dangerous element, for it were better never to bring any into the fold than to bring in those who might prove dangerous for others. We must let the young man feel that we are engaged in church-gathering work and we desire that he too may enter the fold through Jesus Christ. How much it can mean for this young man if not only the minister but also the elders make it a point to call on him and, if possible, to arouse interest in him for things eternal.

While sin and the devil engage in scattering, Christ and His church are engaged in gathering, until the elect be gathered in and all be gathered into glory. In carrying forth God’s truth we too are engaged in pulling the dragnet through the sea of history, until Christ Himself pulls the net upon the shores of eternity and makes the final separation.