Society, both in the form of the State and in the form of religious organization, has long required that a man and woman entering into the marriage relation, shall publicly record that intention and fact, ↑for↓ the welfare of Society ↑itself↓ is involved no less than the welfare of each husband and wife, and the contract is not only between two people that they shall live together in honorable marriage, but between them and society itself ↑the community↓ that they shall live together for the highest welfare ↑good↓.
A civil formula, before the magistrate of the law has already been performed this [morning?], but we are here to add to that a declaration, a recognition that marriage is something more than a contract, [page 2] even [although] that contract be the most sacred. We crave [an] expression of the sense that love is free and can feel no burden, that its pledge is full of rejoicing.
At such a moment, we surround a man and a woman, so far as possible by those who represent their earliest ties and tenderest affections--by their families who have cared for them and reared them, by the familiar friends who have long known them and some of whom have experienced with them the high comradeship of identical aim and effort.
Because all of us here have known this man and woman ↑Gerard and Mary↓ so intimately, because they have each shown so genuine a sense of social obligation, and because each has for years striven to fulfill the larger ↑something of the social↓ claim, we may perhaps venture to emphasize the social aspects of this marriage. [page 3]
In this hour of deepest affection and ↑high hope↓, of love's insight and noble resolution, the individual man and woman promise to strengthen each other in all labor, to comfort each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all effort, to inspire each other in all well-doing but they promise all this, not ↑alone↓ for the sake of each other but that [these] two lives here pledged to be passed together may strengthen, comfort, minister to and inspire the world around them ↑and we know and they know that unless they undertake the latter, they cannot accomplish the first↓.
They have had the experience which love alone bestows, the power of subtly [illegible words] the soul of the beloved and at the same time ↑a subtle revealing↓ the soul of lover, ↑revealing and exploring↓ a mutual process acting and reacting until the whole earth is transformed and all that ↑they↓ formerly knew seems but a shadow and a deceit. This after all, is but a meeting in the souls [page 4] of men ↑but↓ finding the typical and ideal of which the actual must always be but a prototype and ↑this same process↓ carried over in to the larger social relation it would free that relation of ↑from↓ all pity and compassion and ↑bring to bear upon it a [illegible] sense of equality which love alone can give—that [renew?] the social situations so sadly needs, for so much of our social effort is vain, because we cannot adequately perceive the hurt. [page 5]
Another manifestation of the highest affection ↑which these two have experienced↓ is the breaking down of rigidity and mere formal activity—the marvelous power of adaptation which only come when [one] individuality is invaded by another ↑and↓ is freed and loosened from its own trammels. We have all had experiences ↑all known↓ of this, the sudden issuing ↑coming↓ forth from ourselves ↑our [illegible]↓ the instant recognition that what before was done with resolution or difficulty has ↑all at once↓ suddenly become self expression and is easy and indeed inevitable. As we needs ↑and as we require↓ love's insight to discover what the deepest need of society consist in ↑are↓ so we need ↑require↓ love's power of adaptability to [page 6] in any sense adequately minister to those needs.
When social needs and claims have turned upon them the insight and adaptability of love ↑genuine affection↓, we will ↑doubtless↓ see such results as will make us realize the inadequacy ↑of present social motives. And perhaps, I dare add, when individual affection feels the stir and impulse of social uses—it may discover its own power as never before. [page 7]
It is the custom at these ↑easy meantime↓ times to speak of love as never-dying and eternal, and yet we all know that only the finer and diviner type of love is steadfast and abiding. That love, ↑this↓ as all else pertaining to our poor humanity has its baser and more ephemeral aspects, that love has no magic power but alone endures and ennobles as it becomes disinterested. Those of us who have observed life, know that love ↑affection↓ itself brings its own temptations, that there can be a dual selfishness and absorption, a mutual self-seeking, masked under fine phrases, which destroys the finer aspects of love and makes it of the changing earth. And as we have learned that affection between two people cannot become abiding unless each steadily prefers the others good to his own, so we are slowly learning that mutual affection cannot abide unless [page 8] two people together steadily prefer the common good to their mutual good; and we at last simply confess ↑[surrender]↓ that love is eternal only in the sense that Plato made truth eternal when he said that "the excellent alone could ↑can↓ become the permanent," we are really convinced that there can be eternal companionship upon no other terms. If love of one person excludes all others, it must in the end become belittling and find its narrow grave, But if from the beginning ↑only by↓ [including] all [others] from the very start ↑beginning can it hope for↓ immortality becomes its gift.
So we would say even in this hour, [of illegible figuring illegible news], that the marriage relationship like all other relationships between moral agents is subject to the sanctions and penalties of the moral life, that [page 9] ignoble love must every be a hopeless torment and the troubled soul must turn back at last to its own solitude. But for that soul in which craving for the highest things has become explicit in love who finds in the object of love, the ↑it finds↓ one thing permanent in a world of change, who ↑it↓ enters into a happiness so natural so expected ↑so confidant↓, that it seems like a lost happiness tasted long ↑ages↓ ago ↑and↓ life is no longer an insoluble problem, love no longer a superhuman experience.
↑Knowing as we do something of the character of these two people, somewhat of the temper of their attachment and the form of the expression we may confidently predict that [page 10] And all life's journey through to the end is ↑will be↓ illuminated by [that] Love which carries a burden which is no burden, the Love which attempts what is above its strength, pleads no excuse of impossibility for it believes all things are possible to itself. It is therefore able to undertake all things are possible to itself. It is therefore able to undertake all things, and it completes many things, where he who does not love, faints and lies down."
And the protection of this love ↑nobler and larger affections↓ we see them ↑you↓ go forth and we are confident that no evil can befall them ↑you↓ and that all good lies before ↑them↓.