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your hearts, and make you mourn like a dove, that you have neglected him; and if you never come to know him, it had been better you had never been : whilst it is called to-day then harden not your hearts.
Use 2. You, that are perhaps seeking earnestly after a righteousness, and are religious persons, consider a little with yourselves, hath Christ his due place in your hearts? is he your all ? does he dwell in your thoughts? do you know him in his excellency and desirableness? do you indeed account
all things loss and dung for his exceeding excellency ?' or rather do you prefer almost any thing in the world before it? But more of these things afterward.
Of the way and manner whereby the saints hold communion with the Lord
Christ, as to personal grace. The conjugal relation between Christ and the saints, Cant. ii. 16. Isa. liv. 5, 8c. Cant. iii. 11. opened. The way of communion in conjugal relation. Hos. iii. 3. Cant. i. 15. On the part
of Christ ; on the part of the saints. The next thing that comes under consideration, is, the way whereby we hold communion with the Lord Christ, in respect of that personal grace whereof we have spoken. Now this the Scripture manifests to be by the way of a conjugal relation. He is married unto us, and we unto him ; which spiritual relation is attended with suitable conjugal affections. And this gives us fellowship with him, as to his personal excellencies.
This the spouse expresseth ; Cant. ii. 16. • My beloved is mine, and I am his.' He is mine, I possess him, I have interest in him, as my head, and my husband ; and I am his, possessed of him, owned by him, given up unto him, and that as to my beloved in a conjugal relation.
So Isa. liv. 5. • Thy Maker is thine husband (the Lord of hosts is his name), and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel, the God of the whole earth shall he be called.' This is yielded as the reason, why the church shall not be ashamed nor confounded, in the midst of her troubles and trials, she is married unto her Maker, and her Redeemer is her husband. And, Isa. lxi. 10, setting out the mutual glory of Christ and his church in their walking together, he saith; it is as a ‘ bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels.” Such is their condition, because such is their relation, which he also farther expresseth, chap. lxii. 5. “As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee. As it is with such persons in the day of their espousals, in the day of the gladmess of their hearts, so is it with Christ and his saints in this relation. He is a husband to them, providing that it may be with them, according to the state and condition whereinto he hath taken them. To this purpose we have his faithful engagement; Hos. ii. 19, 20. “I will,’ saith he, ‘betroth thee unto me for ever, yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies; I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness.’ And it is the main design of the ministry of the gospel to prevail with men to give up themselves unto the Lord Christ, as he reveals his kindness in this engagement. Hence Paul tells the Corinthians, 1 Epist. xi. 2. that he had espoused them unto one husband, that he might present them as a chaste virgin unto Christ. This he had prevailed upon them for, by the preaching of the gospel, that they should give up themselves as a virgin, unto him who had betrothed them to himself, as a husband. And this is a relation wherein the Lord Jesus is exceedingly delighted; and inviteth others to behold him in this his glory; Cant. iii. 11. ‘Go forth,’ saith he, “O ye daughters of Jerusalem, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him, in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart.” He calls forth the daughters of Jerusalem, all sorts of professors, to consider him in the condition of betrothing and espousing his church unto himself: moreover, he tells them that they shall find on him two things eminently upon this account. 1. Honour. It is the day of his coronation, and his spouse is the crown, wherewith he is crowned. For as Christ is a diadem of beauty, and a crown of glory unto Sion, Isa. xviii. 5. so Sion also is a diadem, and a crown unto him; Isa. lxii. 3. Christ makes this relation with his saints to be his glory and his honour. 2. Delight. The day of his espousals, of taking poor sinful souls into his bosom, is the day of the gladness of his heart. John was but the friend of the bridegroom, that stood and heard his voice, when he was taking his bride unto himself, and he rejoiced greatly, John iii. 29. how much more then must be the joy and gladness of the bridegroom himself, even that which is expressed, Zeph. iii. 14. ‘He rejoiceth with joy, he joys with singing.’ It is the gladness of the heart of Christ, the joy of his soul, to take poor sinners into this relation with himself. He rejoiced in the thoughts of it from etermity; Prov. viii. 31. and always expresseth the greatest willingness to undergo the hard task required thereunto; Psal. xl. 7, 8. Heb. x. 7, 8. yea, he was pained as a woman in travail, until he had accomplished it, Luke xii. 5. because he loved his church he gave himself for it, Eph. v. 26. despising the shame, and enduring the cross, Heb. xii. 2. that he might enjoy his bride, ‘that he might be for her, and she for him, and not for another;’ Hos. iii. 3. This is joy, when he is thus crowned by his mother. It is believers that are mother and brother of this Solomon; Matt. xii. 49, 50. “They crown him in the day of his espousals, giving themselves to him, and becoming his glory;’ 2 Cor. viii. 23. Thus he sets out his whole communion with his church under this allusion, and that most frequently. The time of his taking the church unto himself, is the day of his marriage, and the church is his bride, his wife; Rev. xix. 7, 8. “The entertainment he makes for his saints, is a wedding supper ;’ Matt. xxii. 3. ‘The graces of his church, are the ornaments of his queen; Psal. xlv. 9–14. And the fellowship he hath with his saints, is as that which those who are mutually beloved in a conjugal relation do hold ; Cant. i. Hence Paul, in describing these two, makes sudden and insensible transitions from one to the other, Eph. v. from ver. 22. unto ver. 32. concluding the whole with an application unto Christ and the church. It is now to be inquired in the next place, how it is that we hold communion with the person of Christ, in respect of conjugal relations and affections, and wherein this doth consist. Now herein there are some things that are common unto Christ and the saints, and some things that are peculiar to each of them, as the nature of this relation doth require. The whole may be reduced unto these two heads :
1. A mutual resignation of themselves one to the other ; 2. Mutual consequential conjugal affections.
1. There is a mutual resignation or making over of their persons one to another. This is the first act of communion, as to the personal grace of Christ. Christ makes himself over to the soul to be his, as to all the love, care, and tenderness of a husband; and the soul gives up itself wholly unto the Lord Christ, to be his, as to all loving, tender obedience. And herein is the main of Christ's and the saints' espousals. This in the prophet is set out under a parable of himself and a harlot; Hos. iii. 3. Thou shalt abide for me (saith he unto her), thou shalt not be for another, and I will be for thee. Poor harlot, saith the Lord Christ, I have bought thee unto myself with the price of mine own blood, and now this is that which we will consent unto, ‘I will be for thee, and thou shalt be for me, and not for another.'
(1.) Christ gives himself to the soul with all his excellencies, righteousness, preciousness, graces, and eminencies, to be its Saviour, head, and husband, for ever to dwell with it, in this holy relation. He looks upon the souls of his saints, likes them well, counts them fair and beautiful, because he hath made them so. Cant. i. 15. · Behold thou art fair my companion, behold thou art fair, thou hast dove's eyes.' Let others think what they please, Christ redoubles it that the souls of his saints are very beautiful, even perfect through his comeliness which he puts upon them; Ezek. xvi. 14. 'Behold thou art fair, thou art fair ;a particularly that their spiritual light is very excellent and glorious, like the eyes of a dove, tender, discerning, clear, and shining. Therefore he adds that pathetical wish of the enjoyment of this his spouse, chap. ii. 14. “O my dove,' saith he,' that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me hear thy voice, let me see thy countenance; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.' Do not hide thyself as one that flies to the clefts of the rocks, be not dejected as one that hides herself behind the stairs, and is afraid to come
a Repetit non citra pátos en tu puchra es : Mercer.
forth to the company that inquires for her ? Let not thy spirit be cast down at the weakness of thy supplications, let me yet hearthy sighs and groans, thy breathings and pantings to me, they are very sweet, very delightful; and thy spiritual countenance, thy appearance in heavenly things, is comely and delightful unto me. Neither doth he leave her thus, but, chap. iv. 8, presseth her hard to a closer [union] with him in this conjugal bond. ‘Come with me from Lebanon (my spouse), with me from Lebanon, look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, and the mountains of the leopards.” Thou art in a wandering condition (as the Israelites of old), among lions and leopards, sins and troubles; come from thence unto me, and I will give thee refreshment; Matt. xi. 27. Upon this invitation the spouse boldly concludes, chap. vii. 10. that the desire of Christis towards her;’ that he doth indeed love her, and aim at taking her unto this fellowship with himself. So in carrying on this union, Christ freely bestoweth himself upon the soul. Precious and excellent as he is, he becometh ours. He makes himself to be so, and with him, all his graces. Hence saith the spouse, “My beloved is mine; in all that he is, he is mine. Because he is righteousness,” he is the Lord “our righteousness;' Jer. xxiii. 6. Because he is the wisdom of God, and the power of God, he is made unto us wisdom, &c. 1 Cor. i. 30. Thus the ‘Branch of the Lord is beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth is excellent, and comely to them that are escaped of Israel; Isa. iv. 2. This is the first thing on the part of Christ, the free donation and bestowing of himself upon us to be our Christ, our beloved, as to all the ends and purposes of love, mercy, grace, and glory, whereunto in his mediation he is designed, in a marriage covenant, never to be broken. This is the sum of what is intended. The Lord Jesus Christ fitted and prepared by the accomplishment and furniture of his person as Mediator, and the large purchase of grace and glory which he hath made, to be a husband to his saints, his church, tenders himself in the promises of the gospel to them in all his desirableness, convinces them of his good-will towards them, and his all-sufficiency for a supply of their wants, and * Isa, liv. 24, 25.