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the companions of our unregenerate state must be forsaken h: Our very parents, yea, even life itself, must be hated, when they stand in competition with him! The change in our actions and affections must be entirek; and we must subscribe from our hearts the terms proposed to us'.]
This injunction will not appearharsh, if we attend to, II. The arguments with which it is enforced
God deals with us in all things as intelligent beings, and labours to persuade us by rational considerations. 1. It is our highest interest
[Though the Church is vile in herself, she is complete in Christm: he has given orders for her thorough purification”. When she is presented to him, she is cleansed from all the filthiness of her former state o. Hence she is exceeding beautiful in his eyesP; and he feels a longing desire after communion with her? No bridegroom ever so much rejoiced over his bride, as he over her!. More especially is he delighted with her when he sees that her heart is whole and entire with him. How powerful an argument is this with an ingenuous soul ! What can influence a wife more than to know that her conduct will conciliate the esteem of her husband? And what can delight a regenerate soul so much, as to please the Lord Jesus Christ? Let this hope then animate us to renounce all for him, and to address him in the words of holy David'.] 2. It is our indispensable duty
[The husband is to be considered as lord over his wife": to him she owes an humble obediential reverence*. Christ also is the supreme Head and “LORD" of his Church. No limits whatever are to be set to his authority. We must "worship” and serve “HIM” equally with God the Fathery. Let us then at least shew him that regard, which we ourselves expect from a fellow-creature. A husband will not endure a rival in his wife's affections; shall we then "provoke the Lord himself to jealousy” by carnal attachments? Let us not dare in such a way to violate our nuptial engagements. When any thing solicits a place in our hearts, let us utterly reject it; and let us exercise that fidelity towards him, which we have ever experienced at his hands.] ADDRESS
1. Those who are endeavouring to unite the love of the world with the love of Christ
[The interests of the world, and of Christ, are altogether opposite. Our Lord declares them to be absolutely irreconcileable”. St. James also represents even a wish to reconcile them, as an incontestable proof of enmity against Goda. As Jesus deserves, so he demands, our whole hearts. Let us not then "mock him, and deceive ourselves." If the Lord be God, let us not serve Baal, but him"; and let us unite in imitating the repentant Jews 4.]
2. Those who are desirous of uniting themselves to Christ
[It is a great honour indeed which ye aspire after; yet is it offered to the vilest of the human race e. But
you must get a change of raiment, that you may not dishonour your new station. Labour then to " purge out all remains of the old leaven.” Be on your guard, Test, after having escaped the pollutions of the world, you be again entangled with them and overcome. “ Remember Lot's wife," that you may shun her example; so shall you enjoy the sweetest fellowship with Jesus, and live in the fruition of him to all eternityh.] z Matt. vi. 24. a Jam. iv. 4.
b Prov. xxiii. 26. • 1 Kings xviii. 21. d 2 Chron. xv. 12. e Ezek. xvi. 3,4,5,8. f Zech. iii. 3–5. Rev. xix. 7, 8.
8 2 Pet. ii. 20. h This subject, and all others of a similar nature, must be treated with extreme care and delicacy. The passages from the book of Canticles are cited rather for the reader's satisfaction, than for use in a public discourse.
DLXXVIII. THE CHURCH'S BEAUTY AND HAPPINESS. Ps. xlv, 13–16. The King's daughter is all glorious within :
her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the King in raiment of needle-work : the virgins, her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee: with gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought; they shall enter into the King's palace.
AMONGST the schoolmen of former days, there were many disputes about works of condignity, and works of congruity, as contributing to effect the salvation of men. That in no point of view whatever, did works render men deserving of God's favours is the avowed sentiment of our Church ; yet to the full attainment of salvation, it is quite necessary
that every man be holy, and possess what the Scriptures call “ a meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light.”
The Church is here represented under the character of a Bride that is to be joined, as in the marriage union, to her Lord. For this she must be prepared : and a preparation shall be given her suited to the occasion. In the former part of this psalm, which is penned on the occasion of her marriage, the excellencies of her Lord are set forth : in this latter part, her excellencies also. Let us consider, I. Her transcendent qualities
In the words which we have read, we see, 1. The internal qualities of her mind
[“The King's daughter is all glorious within.” She once, in her unconverted state, was corrupt even as others: but she has been “ born again,” and “ renewed in the spirit of her mind," and made altogether a new creature.” Once, being born only after the flesh, she had nothing but what was carnal : but now, having been born of the Spirit, she possesses a truly spiritual nature, or, as St. Peter expresses it, “she is a partaker of the Divine nature"; " and is progressively“ changed into the image of her Lord himself, from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lordb.” Hence “ the mind that was in Christ Jesus is found in herc." She has the same views, the same principles, the same desires, the same delights. There is indeed still a corrupt nature within her, “the flesh lusting against the Spirit, as well as the Spirit against the flesh:” but she longs to be holy, as her Lord is holy; and strives to be “perfect, as her Father which is in heaven is perfect." When compared with what she was, she differs as light from darkness: but in comparison of what she will be, she is only as the dawn to the meridian sun; for “ her path is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day."] 2. The external habits of her life
[“ Her clothing is of wrought gold.” This refers to the outward conversation, which is often in Scripture represented as a putting off of the old man, and putting on the new: “Put off, as concerning the former conversation," says the Apostle, " the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and put on the new. man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness 4." To the same effect is that other expression of his, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christe :" that is, let your whole deportment be such as his was ; so that any one who beholds you may be constrained to confess, that you “walk as he walked," and that, “ as he was, so are you in this world.” Such is every true Believer; nor will the heavenly Bridegroom acknowledge as his, any one, whose spirit, and temper, and conduct do not accord with his. “ The raiment of needle-work" may fitly represent the assemblage of all the diversified graces which adorn her. All her dispositions being duly chastised, harmoniously tempered, and opportunely exercised, she shines in every department, and in every act; and at once approves herself faithful to her obligations, and meet for the ulterior honours that shall be conferred upon her.]
a 2 Pet. i. 4.
b 2 Cor. iii. 18.
c. Phil. ii. 5.
Suited to these qualities is,
In due time “she shall be brought to the King's palace,” there to be united to him in indissoluble and everlasting bonds.
Whilst she is here, she is to be employed in making herself ready
[In royal nuptials, much time was spent in preparing the bride for her husband. In the purification of the virgins from amongst whom King Ahasuerus was to select a wife, a whole year was occupied : "six months in purifying them with oil of myrrh, and other six months with sweet odours of different kindsh:” after which they were presented to him. In like manner we are told, that the Church also is dealt with, in order to prepare her for her heavenly Bridegroom : for it is said, that “ Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
This process is going forward through the whole of this life. Every work of Providence, every communication of grace, every afflictive dispensation, and every joyous occurrence, is intended to advance it; that so at last the soul of the Believer
be altogether “ worthy to stand before" the King of kings, and to be admitted to the closest fellowship with him for ever and ever.]
This work completed, she is introduced “into the palace of her Lord” —
d Eph. iv. 22, 24. e Rom. xiii. 14, f 1 John ii. 6. g 1 John iv. 17. h Esther ii. 12, 13. i Eph. v. 25—27.
[It was customary for a number of bridemaids to attend upon the bride, in order to welcome her to her destined home Accordingly it is said, “ The virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought with her to the King's palace.” Even here, whenever any are united unto the Lord, many, both of saints and angels, are ready to congratulate them on the blissful occasion. And how much more will this be the case, when those who are espoused to him in this world shall be brought to consummate their nuptials in the realms of bliss! We read of angels waiting upon Lazarus to bear his spirit to Abraham's bosom. So at the departure of every saint we may well conceive of multitudes of angels and of their former friends coming forth to welcome their arrival. And O! what joy will fill every soul! It is said, “ With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought:" and we may see in the book of Revelations the whole ceremony pass, as it were, before our eyes. “I heard the voice of a great multitude, saying, Allelujah! Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the white linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage-supper of the Lamb?." Yes, blessed are they indeed, whether in the character of the spouse or her attendants: for though on earth they are different, in heaven they are the same; the one being the collective body of the Church, of which the others are the individual members. This representation, it must be confessed, is figurative: but under the figure there is a reality : for, as the Scripture says, “ These are the true sayings of God m!”] ADDRESS
1. Those who have never yet been espoused to Christ
[Let it not be forgotten, that this is a very common figure in Scripture to represent the surrender of the soul to God. To his Church of old, God said by the prophet Hosea, “ Thou shalt abide for me many days; (referring, like our text, to the purifications preparatory to nuptials ;) thou shalt not play the harlot; and thou shalt not be for another man : so will I also be for theen.” And again;
“ I will 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 thou shalt know the Lordo." In the New Testament also every believer is spoken
k Matt. xxv. 1. n Hos. iii. 3.
m Rev. xix. 9.
1 Rev. xix. 6—9. o Hos. ii. 19, 20.