« הקודםהמשך »
Saviour, “ It is written, And they shall all be taught of God. Every one, therefore, that hath heard and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me; and he that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” When Christ espouseth us, he doth five things for us; but, antecedent to this, God, by the application of the law, makes us feel our need of them all. When the law comes home, the
First thing that it does is to discover our filthiness. “ By the law is the knowledge of sin;" and fin by the law becomes exceeding sinful.
2dly. The curse of the law, and the wrath of God, pierce through the poor breastplate of all self-righteousness, which convinces us that we are unrighteous in the sight of God.
3diy. It discovers and stirs up our carnal enmity, ^ The carnal mind is enmity against God; it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.”
Athly. The law fills us with fear and torment, and leaves us in bondage to it. And,
5thly, It discovers our blindness and our ignorance, and makes the old veil that is upon our hearts a darkness that may be felt. Such a soul, and no other, is a fit object for Christ to embrace; and, under these circumstances, God leads us to him, as he did Eve to the first Adam; and Christ receives us, at his hand, as his gift. The first thing that Christ docs for us is to
cleanse us from our filth, which the law has discovered to us : “ From all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you."
The second thing is to bring forth the best robe, and put it upon us. This is the wedding-garment: “ The Lord (says Zion) hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” Now the filthy garments of self-righteousness, discovered by the law, are put off, and this change of raiment is put on.
3dly. The ring of everlasting love is brought forth to adorn the hand. This ring of divine love subdues the carnal enmity discovered and stirred up by the law.
Athly, The next thing is, the shoes are brought forth for the feet; which shoes are peace with God through Christ, and peace with our own conscience through the application of the atonement: “ Having your feet Ihod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” These shoes much charm the heavenly wooer : “ How beautiful are thy feet with shoes, O princess daughter !”
The fifth thing is, the Sun of Righteousness now shines upon us with healing in his beams. He views us with approbation, complacency, and delight. This is the saving manifeftation of himself to us, and to all that the Father hath given
him. This removes the old veil from the heart, which hung so heavy upon us under the law: the face being turned to the Lord, and we emboldened and encouraged to look up, the veil is taken away. All this work is done, in a greater or lefs degree, on the day of our espousals, and on the day of the gladness of the bridegroom's heart. And now let me shew thee the hand that faith, as an instrument, hath in all this.
First. Christ is the fountain open that cleanses from all fin, and faith applies the atonement : God purifies our hearts by faith.
2dly. The Lord Jesus “ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth ;” and faith lays hold of his righteousness, and puts it on. Hence it is said that “ the righteousness of Christ is to all and upon all that believe.”
3dly. Now, as faith has the honour of being the hand of the soul, which hand appropriates all these things to us; so faith, as the hand of the soul, is honoured with wearing this ring, which is the eternal love of God: “ Faith worketh by love.” And, as a wedding-ring is an emblem of love, and, when put on the proper singer, is a sure token from a husband to a woman of her wedlock with him; so the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Spirit of God is a sure token of our espousals to Christ, and of eternal union with him, and of God the Father's love to us in him. And, as there is, at times, in an affectionate young woman wooed, doubts and fears whether her intended will prove faithful at last or not, which will not be removed until she is espoused with a ring; so here the match will not appear clear to the soul; nor will doubts, fears, misgivings of heart, and torment, be cast out; till perfect love takes place, or until we are made perfect in love, or until this ring be put on the hand of faith; the greatest, the hardest, and most difficult work of faith being this, to persuade the foul that Chrift loves it with an everlasting love; and even faith's persuasion must be attended with a feeling sense of this love too, or else the foul cannot rest satisfied. But, when this is done, the match is made, and is indissoluble, and the soul is more than sure of it. And now,
Athly, Faith puts on the shoes. « Being juftified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ;” and “ Let the peace of God rule in your hearts.”
5thly. Faith now looks through the veil, and sees him that is invisible; yel, the fees the promised seed, and embraces him. And it is this eye that captures the heart of the heavenly wooer: “ Thou hast ravished my heart, my fifter, my spouse ; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes.” This, my beloved fifter, is our efpousals to the Lord Jesus; thus comes the second Eve to the second Adam. But still the Father doth not let his daughter go out of his hand; no,
« None,” faith the Bridegroom, “ Thall pluck them out of my hand ;” and adds, “ My Father is greater than all, and none is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one.” Thus God holds her, and claims her as his daughter, and Christ holds her and claims her as his spouse, and as his Father's choice and gift to. him. And, indeed, it was our heavenly Father that decreed, proposed, and made this match. Thus have I shewed thee how we become dead to the law that we may be married to another, even to him that is raised from the dead, that we may bring forth fruit unto God, even as the branch in the vine brings forth grapes.
But now observe what the Saviour says: “I am the vine, and ye are the branches, and my Father is the husbandman; every branch in me that beareth fruit my Father purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” After we have enjoyed the dearly beloved of our souls for a few months, our love, our fimplicity, 'meekness, contrition, tenderness, filial fear, &c. abate in their exercise; and we begin to creep into self, wax proud, get secure and careless; dream of ease all the way, and are very nice, and rather dainty; nothing but the best wine of the kingdom, and the very marrow of the feast, will do for us; we must thew ourselves, seek admiration and applause, and appear to be something. But, when the Father sees this, he takes us in hand again; he visits our fins