Best-match, or, The incomparable marriage between the Creator & the creature

Best-match, or, The incomparable marriage between the Creator & the creature  (1806) 


THE

Best Match:

ON

THE INCOMPARABLE MARRIAGE

Between Creator & the Creature.



A

SERMON,

PREACHED AT

A SACRAMENTAL SOLEMNITY,

AT CULLROSS

About the year 1722.

On ISAIAH liv. 5.

Thy Maker is thy Husband.


By Mr. RALPH ERSKINE,

Late Minister of the Gospel Dunfermline


THE FIFTH EDITION.

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FALKIRK:

PRINTED BY JOHNSON,

And sold at his shop. East side of the Post-Office.

MNDCCC.VI.

SERMON.


O-O



Isiah liv. 5.

Thy Maker is thy Husband.

THE prophet Iſaiah having largely diſconrſed
of the ſufferings of Christ, and the bleſſed fruits
and effects of them; among which, one is, that he
ſhould have a numerous feed to believe on him;
and that, when the Jews reject him, the Gentiles
ſhould gladly receive him: and thus foreſeeing,
by the ſpirit of prophesy, the glorious ſtate of
the Gentile church, he breaks forth into a ſong
of triumph in the beginning of this chapter; where
the prophet directs his ſpecch to the church and
ſpouſe of God in theſe words, "Sing, O barren,
thou that didſt not bear; break forth into ſinging,
and cry aloud, thou that didſt not travail with child:
for more are the children ut the deſolate than the
children of the married wife, ſaith the Lord."—
Where we have a magnificent and glorious promiſe
of the fertility and felicity of the Gentile church;
and this is enlarged to the fifth verſe. which con-
tains the word of our text; where we have the
reaſon of her happineſs and fruitfulneſs who was
formerly a barren widow, "For thy Maker is
thy Huſband" He who made thee out of nothing,
and therefore can eaſly fulfil all theſe promiſes,
how unlikely foever they ſeem to be; he who
made thee a people, yea; which is more, who made
thee his people, he will own thee as his ſpouſe, and
act the part of an huſband to thee.

I shall defer any further introduſtion and expli
cation, and alſo whatever might be laid concerning
the external relation betwixt Chriſt and the viſible
church, my chief deſign being, at this time, only to
ſpeak a little to that internal ſpiritual marriage-re-
lation betwixt Chriſt and the inviſible church, or
Chriſt and the believer, as it is repreſented under
the formality of a marriage: and what I would
offer upon this ſubject, I lay before you in this doc-
trinal proportion.

"That there is a marriage-relation betwixt
Chriſt and believers wherein he ſupplies the
place of a huſband unto them, and they the
place of a bride and ſpouſe to him.”

In proſecuting whereof, I would do these things,
I. Prove, That there is ſuch a marriage relation
betwixt Chriſt and believers.
II. Speak to the nature of this marriage.
III. Give the reaſons, why Chriit comes under
ſuch a relation to his people
IV. Make ſome application of the ſubjeft.

I. We are to confirm the doftfine, that there is
a marriage-relation betwixt Chriſt and believers.
This will appear from theſe two conſiderations.

I. From the compellations given to Chriſt, with
relation to believers. How frequently doth the
ſpouſe call him her Huſband in the book of the Song?
“As the apple-tree among the trees of the wood,
ſo is my Beloved among the ſons —My Beloved is
mine and I am his” Song ii 3 16. And, ſays
the apostle 1 Cor. xi 1. "I have eſpouſed you to
one huſband, that I may preſent you as a chaſle
virgin unto Chriſt".

2. The marriage-relation betwixt Chriſt and
believers, appears from the compellations given to
believers in ſcripture, with reſpect to Chriſt. How
frequently calls he her “his love, his ſpouſe” in
the book of the Song? Thou haſt raviſhed my heart,
my ſitter, my spouse. How fair is thy love, my
ſiſter, my spouse!" Song iv. 9, 10. In Rev.xix 7.
the church (or believers in the collective capacity)
is called the bride, the Lamb’s wife: "The mar-
riage of the Lamb is come, and the bride hath
made herſelf ready.” We need not ſtand to prove
that which is ſo evident; we need ſay no more to
confirm it. than to repeat the text, “Thy Maker
is thy Huſband.” Therefore I come.

II. To ſpeak of the nature of this marriage: and
here we would briefly conſider, 1. The parties mar-
ried 2. The terms of this marriage 3. The pro-
perties of the marriage. 4. The effects of it. 5. How
the match is carried on. 6 How it is concluded.

1ll. I ſay, let us conſider, the parties married;
who is the Bridegroom, and who is the bride.

1. Then, the Bridegroom is the wisdom of God;
and all the treaſures of wiſdom and knowledge are
found in him: he knows all the wants of the bride,
and is ready to ſupply them.—On the ether hand
the bride, before her matching with him, is the moſt
arrant fool out of hell: her folly is diſeovered, by
continuing to refuſe to match with him; in refuſing
to give her conſent to this heavenly Bridegroom.

2 The Bridegroom is the eternal Son of God,
the King’s only Son; “The King made a marriage
for his Son: He is the blood-royal of heaven.—
On the other hand, What is the bride’s pedigree?
She needs not boaſl of her deſcent; ‘thy father
was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite."
Eſek. xvi 3. There is a vaſt: difference here.

3. The Bridegroom is the Heir of all things:
He hath all riches, the unſearchable riches of Chriſt.
But what is the bride worth before he match with
her? She is worſe than nothing, poverty itſelf;
and not only a beggar, but in debt, and Chriſt is
willing to pay her debt.

4. The Bridegroom is comely and glorious. All
the ſeraphims and cherubims above, all the ſons of
men in the world, all the crowned heads on earth,
in all the circumſtances of glory, are but little black
pieces of earth, compared with this glorious Bride-
groom. On the other hand, What is the bride,
before he match with her? Even as black as the
devil can make her. Not only a leopard, Spotted here
and there, but an Ethiopian, wholly black and ugly.
When caſt forth in the open field, to the loathing
of her perſon, ſhe is a ſpectacle of horror and miſery!
yet then it is a marriage-day, and a time of love.

5. What are the terms of the marriage? the
articles of it on his part and her part? The turns
on her part, through the whole belong to Chriſt, yet,
to ſpeak of terms in an improper ſenſe he requires
of her what he worketh in her; namely,

1. That ſhe be devorced from all other huſbands,
and give up with all other lovers and idols; parti-
cularly, that ſhe be divorced from the law, that ſhe
may be married unto Chrift: ſhe must not obey the
law from a principle of her own ſtrength; nor as
a covenant of works, that, by obedience, she may
purchaſe a title heaven; nor to gratify a natural
conſcience; nor merely to eſcape hell, and make
a righteonſneſs of her obedience: ſhe muſt be
divorced from that huſband.

2. Upon her part it is required, that ſhe be ſatiſ-
fied with this Huſband alone, as the great portion
of the ſoul; that he may have no rival, no competi
tor in her affections, none to ſit on the throne with
him: ſhe muſt keep the chief room for the Son
of God. Again, on his part, he contract,

1. That he will make over himſelf to her; all
he is, all he hath, ail he hath purchaſed, all he hath
promiſed: he will make over to her all the bleſſings
of the everlaſting covenant. O this is a ſweet ar-
ticle, and a large charter indeed!

2. He contracts to perform all the glorious offi-
ces of a huſband to her; to provide for her, protect
her, direct her, pity her, clothe her, to encourage
and comfort her; and to do all for her ſhe needs.
This is the ſum of the contract; for, to ſpeak pro-
perly, Chriſt is all, and does all in this matter; and
our part is done by him in us, Hoſ ii. 19 20. "I will
betrothe thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betrothe
thee unto me in righteoulneſs, and in judgment and
in loving-kindneſs, and in mercies; I will even be-
trothe thee unto me in faithfulneſs, and thou ſhalt
know the Lord.” Chriſt ſigns the contract for him
and her both “I will betrothe thee unto me in
righteoufneſs;"I will fulfil the law,, and ſatisfy
God’s juftice. "I will betrothe thee unto me in
loving kindneſs" though there be nothing in thee
to invite my love, but much to challenge my averſion,
yet I will overcome all thy imperfections, and
ſet my love upon thee “I wi11 betrothe the unto
me in mercies:’’ in pardoning mercy, ſanctifying;
mercy, ſupporting mercy, comforting mercy. But
left the bride think, that when ever The ſins, there
may be a divorce, ſhe may break and go away, there-
fore it follows, “I will betrothe thee unto me in
faithfulneſs.” He pledges his veracity for fulfilling
the articles on her part and his both. But then,
godly, What are the properties of this marriage?

1. It is a very myſterious marriage, that the Cre-
ator ſhouid take the work of his hands for a bride;
not only when in its primitive and virgin integrity,
as it dropt out of his creating hands, but when
palluted with the poiſon of the devil, the venom of
the old ſerpent, that he ſhonld take her for a bride;
“Thy Maker is thy Huſband." This is a wonder-
ful conjunction! It a glorious angel ſhould be matched
with a creeping worm, and a king with a beggar,
it would nor be ſuch a wonder; but the Maker to
join himſelf to the work of his hands, exceeds all!
There cannot be a greater diſtance conceived be-
twixt any two things, than betwixt a Creator and
that which is brought out from the barren womb
of nothing, a creature; and yet they are in a marr-
iage-relation; “Thy Maker is thy Huſband!"

2. This marriage is very difficult and hard. It
is true, there it nothing too hard for Omnipotency;
yet the human nature of Chriſt had much to do with
it: though he was ſupported by the divine nature,
yet he behoved to ſwim through the river of his own
blood before he could get his bride. He ſatisfied
the juſtice of God, and eſtabliſhed a new covenant.
All this was to be done, in order to his marriage.
3 This marriage is an indiſſolvable marriage.
Death diſſolves other relations, but it increaſes this
intimate union. Nothing ſhall ſeparate Chriſt and
the believer: “I am perſuaded,” ſaith Paul, “that
neither life nor death, nor angels, nor principalities,
nor powers, nor things preſent, nor things to come,
nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall
be able to ſeparate us from the love of God which is
in Chriſt Jeſus our Lord,” Rom. viii. 38, 39.

4thly, What are the effects of this marriage?

1. The first and immediate effect is, a moſt cloſe
union betwixt Chriſt and the believer. This union,
although it be, in ſome reſpeſt, leſs than a perſonal
union, yet it is more than a political union, more
than a moral union; it is a very cloſe union. The
Bridegroom, Chriſt, gives his bride his own Spirit;
communicates vital influences, from the glorious
Head to her; and ſhe cleavee, by faith and love,
cloſe to him: and God promiſeth, that he will make
the houſe of Iſrael cleave cloſe to him, as a girdle
to the loins of a man, Jer. xiii. 11. He makes his
ſpouſe, in ſpite of all her folly, in ſpite of all her
enmity, in ſpite of all her enemies and temptations,
to cleave cloſe to him.

2 Another effect of this union is, ſweet com-
munion, and mutual fellowſhip. He feaſts with her,
and ſhe with him: He blows upon her garden,
quickens and animates her graces; and then he
comes and eats his pleaſant fruits.

3. Another effect is, familiarity (which is coinci-
dent with the former): He treats them not as
ſtrangers, but as friends; and not as friends only,
but as his own ſpouſe: He communicates to her,
and ſpeaks comfortably and kindly to her. It is a,
wonder what condeſcenſion God will make ſome-
times; and the believer again can be more familiar
with God, than with the whole world; and can tell
to God what he can tell to none elſe. Thus you
ſee ſome of the effects of this marriage.

5thly, How was the match carried on?
I anſwer, in a word, On his part it was carried on
thus:

1. He gave the Father his hand, and engaged to
him in the covenant of redemption, from eternity,
that he would do all things neceſſary for accompliſh
ing the marriage.

2. Becauſe there muſt be an union of natures
betwixt the Bridegroom and the bride; (it was not
poſſible that we could be matched with the divine
nature;) therefore he becomes a man, and takes
on our nature, that there might be an union of
natures.

3. Becauſe the bride is a ſlave, he pays her ran-
ſom, ſubſtitutes himſelf in her room, takes on her
debt, and pays all that ſhe owed to juſtice and then
takes on with her. But, on cur part, juſt nothing
at all: we had no hand in the covenant of redempt-
ion: no hand in the contrivance of ſalvation; we
knew nothing. about the buſineſs; we had no
thoughts of a Redeemer, deſerved nothing but pure
wrath: we were lying with full contentment in
the devil's territories, when Chriſt was carrying
on the match.

6thly, How is the marriage concluded on his part?

1. He sends forth his ambaſſadors to court for him,
as Abraham did his ſervant for Iſaac; and there is
a great work, indeed, to make her give her conſent.
Let angels in heaven unite their topics of perfuaſion,
they could not prevail with one ſoul, if a converting
day were not come: but they muſt always ſpeak fair
to her. How rhetorical was Abrabam’s ſervant for
his master? “He hath but one child, and that child
hath great riches.” He ſecks no portion with
Rebecca, only her conſent. Thus be rhetoriſes
and flouiſhes exceedingly, and perſuades with the
greatest motives. But yet the ambaſſadors of Chriſt
have a larger commiſſion, if our eyes were opened
to ſee it: they are ſent forth to make love to the
bride, and in his name to commend Chriſt.

2. He concludes the marriage thus. The bride
being wretchedly ignorant of her true happineſs,
therefore his Father diſtreſſes her with the debt that
ſhe owes to him: and the wretched perſon is forced,
for ſometime, to mount Sinai; and there God deſ-
cends in all the circumſtances of terrible majesty!
he thunders curſes againſt her; “Curſed is every
one that continueth not in all things which are
written in the book of the law to do them,” Gal.
iii l0 God exacts all the debts; confidence roars,
and the devils are let looſe; ſhe fears hell and wrath;
and God declares, in the goſpel, that the wretched
bankrupt ſhall go to priſon, and ly eternally in hell,
if ſhe do not take on with his Son, marry him, and
believe on him. Thus the bride is forced to an ex-
tremity: ſome have more, ſome have leſs of this
law-work; but all are humbled and broken, in ſome
meaſure, who are married to Chriſt: he ſends forth
his Spirit and convinces the world of ſim. But this
would not do either; and therefore,

3. The Bridegroom ſees that nothing but con-
dſcenſion will do it; and ſo he appears in all his
glory: when the bride is fail of fears, perplexities,
and anxieties; when the terrors of God are ſur
rounding her, and the arrows of the Almighty
drinking up her ſpirits, and when ſhe is crying out.
What ſhall I do? Whether ſhall I go? Then the
Bridegroom appears in all his excellency and glory,
and ſays, “Behold me, behold me!” And ſhe gets
a view of him, that raviſhes her heart, and enlarges
her ſoul: then it is that the Spirit is ſent to deter-
mine her to conſent. The manifeſtation of his glory
does enlighten her mind and ſpirit; and immediately
grace, upon the will, draws out the whole heart
alter him: ſo that if the bride could be grieved and
pained upon the marriage-day, it would be for her
ſolly in refuſmg him ſo long.—But what is done
upon the bride's part, for concluding the match ?
Nothing at all; but the whole ſoul is enabled to
acqueſce in a Redeemer: and the believer is ready,
at ſnch a time, to ſay, “He is my Lord, my God,
my ſtrength, my all" and ſhall be for ever.—
Thus you have a brief ſcheme of the nature and
way of this marriage.

Having ſpoken but very briefly to the former
heads, I ſhall here, before I proceed to the reaſons
of the doctrine, offer a few remarks upon the time
of this marriage-union betwixt Chiſt and believers
We told you how this match was concluded and
compleated by Chriſt; and now we ſay, there is a
ſtated duty and time for the concluding thereof:
and upon this head we may remark,

1ſt. That there is a twofold day we are to con-
ſider in this marriage, namely, the day of eſpouſals
on earth, and the day of conſummation in heaven;
and we may compare theſe two together in a few
words, 1. The day of eſpouſals here is uſhered in
With a very dark morning, or rather an evening,
upon the bride’s part, with the wrath of God, and
the law. As it was ſaid, “The evening and the
morning was the day;” ſo, in this contract, the
evening of legal terrors, at leaſt ſome humiliation,
uſhers in the morning: But as to the conſummation,
there is a great deal of glory before it, the ſoul be-
ing taken to heaven already, and the body ſleeping
ſweetly in the grave, a bed where the Bridegroom
lay three days before her. 2. In the day of eſpou-
ſals, when the perſon gets a victory over corruption,
and finds little ſtirring of it, no ſenſible working of
it, yet there is a party within, at the ſame time, that
oppoſe the match, and which will afterwards get
out its head, and will be ſiill aſſaulting the believer,
while he is on earth: But, in the day of conſum-
mation, there is no ſuch thing; no enemy, no ſin,
no corruption; but the whole ſoul goes out wholly
upon the Bridegroom. 3. The eſpouſals are carried
on ſecretly; it may be, the perſon is fitting at your
ſide, and you do not ſee, nor know when Chriſt is
making up the match; or, perhaps, on his knees
at home, there is a ſecret tranſacton: But the con-
ſummation will be before millions of angels, millions
of ſaints, millions of ſpectaions. Here is a great dif-
ference; after the day of eſpouſals is over, the bride
may give in any qaint look to her old lovers, looking
back to Egypt departing from her huſband, doubting
of his love, diſtruſting his word, fearing his diſpenſa-
tions: But, after the conſummation, no ſhadow of
ſin no ſhadow of jealouſy, no ſhadow of miſtakes,
or fears, can overtake her for ever; no cloud can
intervene, for the ſun of righteouſneſs ſhall never
be eclipſed any more. But then,

2ad. A ſecond remark is, that the preciſe time of
the eſpouſals is condeſcended on by the Bridegroom
and his Father, from all eternity; the very moment
when the bride ſhall be made to ſign the contract,
and flee to Chriſt, and pour out her whole ſoul
upon him; that preciſe moment is agreed upon
betwixt the Father and the Son, in the covenant
of redemption, from eternity.

3d. We remark, that the Bridegroom waits pati-
ently for that moment that is agreed upon betwixt
the Father and the Son; he longs for it he deſires it.
The believer many times is ready to think, O, Chriſt
is not willing! I have ſet days apart, I have gone to
my knees, I have ſought him in and about this and
the other ordinance, and yet I could not cloſe with
him: I have been almoſt dipt in hell with affliction,
yet my heart was never melted; ſurely Chriſt is not
willing. O let us flee the borders of blaſplemy!
The Lord Jefus is willing, but the fulneſs of time is
not yet come: there is a ſet moment of his coming
to his people, and for this they are to wait; yea, for
this he waits himſelf, according to that ſcripture,
which I ſhall read to them that cannot get that in
duties and ordinances, which they have been long
looking for, Iſa. xxx. 18. “Therefore will the Lord
wait, that he maybe gracious unto you; and there-
fore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy
upon you: For, the Lord is a God of judgenent;
bleſſed are all they that wait for him." He will
wait upon the very moment of time, for the day
ol ſalvation; he knows the proper ſeaſon. The
crane, the ſwallow, and the ſtork, know their ſea-
ſons, by the natural inſtinct God hath given them;
and will he not know his own ſeaſon? Yea, he
waits to be gracious.

4th Remark. That when the time comes, then
there is a ſweet conjunction of all circumltances to
conclude the work; all things work pleaſantly to-
gether to compleat the match; conſcience goes right
to work, the word is made lively, the Spirit acts
powerfully and ſweetly in the ſoul: there is an au-
ſpicious conjunction of all favourable circumſtances,
for determining the bride, and drawing out her
heart.

5th Remark. That there are ſeveral ſigns and
characters of this day, by which it may be known.
What are the ſigns of it? you will ſay. I ſhall
not ſtand on this, only it is a day of light; great
light breaks in upon the mind: it is a day of love;
much love is let in upon the heart: it is a day of
power, wherein the bride is perſuaded and over-
come; diffulties are ſurmounted, enemies conquer-
ed, and the bride’s will is moulded into a compliance.
It is a day of amaſement! O what an extaſy of
wonder is raiſed in the perſon's heart! I was blind,
now I ſee; I was dead, now I live; I was weak, now
I am ſtrong; this morning, perhaps, I was under
afflection, and under the terror; of God, and now
he hath raviſhed me with the conſolations of his
Spirit: I was already of hell, now I have the hope of
heaven and eternal life O what a day of wonder
is it! Laſtly, it is a day of vows; the ſoul will be
ready to break forth in ſuch a day,crying, What shall
I ſpeak for him? What ſhall I ſuffer for him?

A Sixth and laſt remark on this head is, Thar, in
this ſtated day of eſpouſals, the Bridegroom mani-
fests his glory to the bride. When he intimates to
the ſoal, “Thy Maker a thy Huſband" he ſhews
his glory: his abſolute glory, his comparative glory,
his relative glory: they are all one upon the matter,
yet there is a formal different conſideration of them,
I. His abſolute glory is manifeſted. What does the
ſoul ſee, that is matched and married to Chriſt?
Alas! ſome ſee nothing but dreams and fancies;
but when the believer is matched with Chriſt, he
fo deals with him as with Moſes, he makes all his
glory to paſs before him: The perſon gets a view
of the glorious attributes of the Son of God. 2. He
manifeſts his comparative glory: “Thou art more
excellent than hills of prey.—Fairer than the ſons
of men.” The bride, the believer, ſees him “As
the apple-tree among the trees of the woodevery
way incomparable; whatever he be compared to, he
excells it. If he be a lilly he is the lilly of the valley;
if he be a roſe, he is the roſe of Sharon; if he be a
plant, ne is the plant of renown; if he be a phy-
ſician, he is the phyſician of value; if an advocate, he
is an advocate with the Father: he is repreſented
without any parallel. 3. His relative glory is ma-
nifeſted: he is diſcovered as a glorious Prieſt, a glor-
ious Prophet, a glorious King, a glorious Huſband,
a glorious Redeemer and SavTour; and there will
be a light of his glorious fulneſs in all theſe relations,
and the glorious fitneſs of that ſuffciency and fullneſs,
all tinted for the ſoul: and thus revealing himſelf,
he removes all jealouſes and miſtakes from the
bride, ſupplies all her wants, heals all her diſeaſes,
and out-bids all his rivals, who can offer nothing to
allure the ſoul, while he can, and doth ſay, I am
All-ſufficient to help thee.

III. We come now to the third thing propoſed,
namely, To offer ſome reaſons of the doctrine, why
Chriſt comes under a marriage-relation to believers.

I anſwer, 1. His own ſovereign will is the heſt
reaſon why he comes under a marriage relation in
this cafe: "Even ſo Father, for ſo it ſeems good
in thy fight,” Matth. xi. 26. Hiſ actions are not
to be examined at the bar of our reaſon: “ He hath
mercy, becauſe he will have mercy.”

2. His love to them makes him come under ſuch
a relation to them; I have loved thee with an
everlaſting love; therefore with everlaſting kindneſs
have I drawn thee ” Love is the motive that en-
gages him; love brought him out of heaven for them;
love nailed him to the croſs for them; love laid him
in a grave for them; and love engages him to a
marriage-relation with them.

3. He does it for the glory of his own free grace,
mercy, and love. As love and mercy was his motive,
ſo it was his end, that he might diſplay and diſcover
it to the uttermoſt. This attribute is at its utrnoſt
line. Infinite wiſdom could have contrived a thou-
ſand worlds, and infinite power could have made
them; but the love of God hath gone to its ut-
moſt height; it is not poſſible for Chriſt to give a
greater demonſtration of his love than he hath done,
in giving his life for the bride, and entering into
a marriage relation with her.

4 He does it, that he may furniſh work for the
bleſſed company in the higher houſe; for, on the
earth the contract is only drawn up; this is only
the day of eſpouſals; heaven will be the place of the
conſummation of the marriage: this is only a courting
and wooing time; but the day will come, when the
nuptial ſolemnity ſhall be celebrated, and that ſhall
continue while the day of eternity lads. This shall
ſuffice for the reaſons of the doctrine.

IV. The fourth thing was, To make ſome ap-
plication; and it may be. 1. For information.
2. Lamentation. 3 Examination. 4. Exhorta-
tion. Now of these in their order.

(i.) For information. Is it ſo, that there is a
marriage-relation betwixt Chriſt and believers?

1. This informs us of the infinite love of God
towards loſt ſinners, in giving his own Son to be
a Huſband and Redeemer unto them ; “God ſo loved
the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that
whoſoever believeth in him, might not periſh, but
have everlaſting life,’’ John iii. 16. God ſo loved
the world, as neither angels nor men can tell.

2. This informs us of the infinite love of Chriſt,
in condeſcending to be a huſband to ſuch a bride.
It could never have entered into the heart of the
wiſeſt angel in heaven, that Chriſt, the eternal Son
of God, ſhould become man; and far leſs that he
Should take ſuch a filthy and deformed creature and
bride by the hand, as ſinners are: it he had given us
our deſerving, he would have nude his juſtice to ride
in triumph over us, and hell to refound with eter-
nal hollows of praiſe to incenſed juſtice; but, to the
quite contrary, he hath ſo ordered, that heaven
ſhall refound with eternal halelujahs of praiſe to
his gracious mercy and free grace, in chaſing thoſe
that were enemies, and admitting them to his
bleſſed boſom.

3. This doctrine informs us of the believer’s
ſafety. Having Chriſt for her huſband, who can
hurt her? It is the duty of a huſband, you know,
to protect and defend his ſpouſe; and Chriſt will not
be wanting in this to his bride: “He will hide them
in the ſecret of his preſence from the pride of men:
he will keep them ſecretly in a pavilion from the
ſtrife of tongues, Pſ xxxi. 20.—About all the glory
I will make a defence,” Iſa. iv. 5. He covers them
with the mantle of his providence, the mantle of his
righteouſneſs. the mantle of his interceſſion, the
mantle of his Spirit; ſure then the bride of Chriſt:
is in abſolute ſafety. He hath retiring chambers for
her, to hide her in till the day of indignation be
overpaſt.

4 This doctrine lets us ſee, that believers are
no ſuch mean and deſpicable perſons as the world
generally takes them to be; they are Chriſt's bride,
and he is their huſband: and, O what an honour is
it to be married to the Son of God! Having him
for an huſband, they come to be related to all Chriſt’s
relations; God is their Father, becauſe he is his
Father; angels are their ſervants, becauſe they are
his ſervants; ſaints are their fellow-brethren, be-
cauſe they are his members; heaven is their inhe-
ritance, becauſe it is the kingdom of their huſband.
In a word, whatever is his, is theirs; “And all
things are yours, for ye are Chriſt's, and Chriſt is
God’s,” 2 Cor. iii. 22, 23.

(2.) For lamentation. Is it ſo, that there is
a marriage-relation betwixt Chriſt and believers?
his calls for deep lamentation, in thefc two par-
ticulars.

I. It calls us to lament that Chriſt ſhould have
ſo few brides among us though he be wooing and
courting us by the goſpel, crying, “Behold me!
behold me,” Iſa. Ixv. 1. Yet where is the man or
woman that is prevailed with to enter a match with
this glorious Bridegroom? Though he be fairer
than the ſons of men, and condeſcends to offer
marriage with ſinners, who are as black and ugly
as hell itſelf, yet they ſet him at nought, and give
him juſt ground for that melancholy complaint,
“My people would not hearken to my voice, Iſrael
would have none of me,” Pſal Ixxxi 11. And may
he not appeal to the very material creation, to judge
of our folly, as he did of old, to Iſrael: Jer. ii 12,13.
“Hear, O heavens! and give ear, O earth! yea,
be aſtonſlhed and horribly afraid! for my people
have committed two great evils: they have forſaken
me die fountain of living waters, and hewed them
out cizterns, that can held no water."

2. This doctrine may afford us matter of lamen-
tation also. That believers who are espoused to
him, should walk so unworthily of such a husband.
You know, a wise should demean herself conform
to the character of her husband; and where her
carriage is base and mean, it reflects a dishonour
on him. O how unsuitable is it to see st's bride
blackened with the filth of hell! to see those who
have stricken hands with Christ, in a marriage-
covenant, joining hands with lust and idols, and
defiling themselves with them!

(3) for examination. Let us try if we be thus
married and related to Christ; whether he be our
married, and we his bride and spouse.

I shail offer a few marks whereby we may know
whether or not we be married unto this glorious
husband; and they may be drawn from the consi-
deration of the antecedents, the constituents, and
the consequents of this marriage.

1st. Try by the antecedents to the marriage
contract. Before ever Christ did contract with thee,
didst thou observe him courting thy soul before this
contract? Here is a courting. Now, how did
Christ court you?

I. Did he court you by the austerity of the law,
as with fire and sword? Did he court you by such
a word as that, Thou art a cursed wretch! For,
“Cursed is every one that continueth not in all
things that are written in the book of the law, to do
them2 Gal. iii 10. Did he court you by such a word
as that, “Cursed is every one that doth the work of
the Lord negligently?". Did he court you thus, by
the spirit of bondage, with the terrors of God, as
cloathed with vengeance, telling thee, thou art an
air of hell and wrath, a child of the devil? Did he
court thee ſo as thou waſt ſurroundad with fear and
trouble?

2. Did he court thee as by the auſterity of the
law; ſo by the ſweetneſs of the goſpel, when he
ſaw thee caſt down, when he ſaw thee, a poor heavy
laden ſinner, like to be cruſhed under thy weights?
Did he then court you with ſuch a word as that,
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy
laden, and I will give you reſt?” Mat. xi. 28. Or,
with ſuch a word as that, "Ho, every one that
thirſteth, come to the waters; he that hath no money
come, buy wine and milk without money and with-
out price? Iſa. IV 1 —Flee to your ſtrong holds, ye
priſoners of hope.” Did he thus court you with
the goſpel offer?

3. Did he court you by his love-letters? This
is another antecedent of the contract. Got you ever
a love-letter ſent from Chriſt out of heaven? But
you will say, What is the love-letter? Even the Bible,
"Search the Scriptures, theſe are they chat teſtify
of me” John v. 39. Here are the declarations of
the love of Chriſt to thy ſoul: here are love promiſe's
in theſe letters. Have you read and pondered them?
And can you ſay that Chriſt ſpoke them into your
heart? If it be a text that was preached upon, or if
it be a ſingle word, O Chriſt dropt that into my
heart! and I think it will go with me to my death-
bed, it came to me with ſuch life and power. In
a word, Got you any gifts before the marriage-con
tract, ſuch as the gift of true conviction ſuch as the
gift of heart contrition. the gift of real humiliation,
the gift of ſelf denial, the gift of faith? Theſe are
given, ſome before, ſome at the contract.

2dly, Try by the conſtituents of the marriage.
I. If this marriage be made up betwixt Chriſt
and thee, theo then haſt put away all lovers besides
Chriſt; the right hand will be cutoff, the right eye
put out; you will be divorced from all other huſ-
bands, particularly from the law. Ye muſt be dead
to the law, that ye may be married to another huſ-
band, even to Chriſt. But you will ſay, What is it
to be dead to the law? I anſwer, It is not to lay it
aſide as the rule of obedience, life, and converſation;
I but to be dead to the law, is to be ſenfible that the
law cannot ſave us as a covenant of works. It is
to diſclaim all hopes of being juſtified by the law,
or by our works or obedience to it. I ſee Chriſt,
the glorious huſband, hath brought in an everlaſting
righteouſneſs, anſwering the law fully: this is the
garment I muſt put on, and caſt off my old filthy
rags.

2. Hid thou given a cordial conſent upon the
contraſt-day? Can you ſay you was enabled to take
him, as the Pſalmiſt, “O my ſoul! thou haſt ſaid
unto the Lord, thou art my Lord;” and thou art
my God my Head, my Huſband? Have you given
a rational and ſupernatural conſent? a deliberate,
chaſte, ſtayed, ſolemn, peremptory conſent? Did
you ſay it with an air of heaven, that he was yours,
and ſhall be ſo for ever? It is true, perſons may be
matched to Chriſt who cannot condeſcend on the
preciſe time; the Spirit may work ſome way that
we cannot know; yet it is his ordinary way with his
bride, after many toſſings, to break in with raviſh-
ing, conquering ſweetneſs, to draw forth her ſoul
to a ſolemn remarkable cloſing with him, and con-
ſenting to him. Have you then been engaged to
make over yourſelf to the Bridegromn, by an unre-
ſerved reſignation of yourſelf to him, that you will
not only take him wholly, and for ever, for holineſs
and happineſs, for light and life, for grace and glory,
but alſo make over yourſelf to him, ſoul ard body,
whatever you are whatever you hove been? Have
you been thus made to yield yourſelves unto the
Lord? Are you one with him? Have you one ſpirit
with him ? Are you of one faith with him, of one way
with him, endeavouring to walk as he walked? “He
that is joined to the Lord is one ſpirit,” I Cor. iv. 17.

3. Can you ſay, that, upon the marriage day you
got a marriage gift from the Bridegroom? Among
the Jews, the bridegroom gave a marriage gift to
his bride: Now, what gift got you on this marriage
day? Can you ſay, indeed I got the wedding gar-
ment; he clothed me with his righteoufneſs, which
he ſpan out of his own bowels, weaved with his own
hand, and dyed with his own blood; and thus all
my guilt is covered, the curſe is done away? This
is indeed what few get; yet ſome have been, and
are able to ſay, I am delivered from the wrath to
come; and there is no condemnation to me; and
on ſuch a time I got alſo an ornament of the grace?
of the Spirit, which I wear as jewels, viſt faith, love,
obedience, patience, humility; and I got the promiſe
of an hundred ſold here, and I am expecting more
gifts yet, before the marriage be conſummate; I am
expecting the aſſurance, I live in the hope of glory,
I expect a ſcaled pardon of all my ſins, and I look to
get the earneſt of the Spirit and more every day

4. Another constituent of the marriage-contract
is, the bride, on that day, put off one vail, and puts
on another. This was the Jews cuſtom, the brides
pur off the vail of baſhfulneſs and put cn the vail
of ſubjection. Chriſt’s bride, before the marriage,
cannot look the Bridegroom in the face, is aſhamed
to look upon him; but ſhe is made to put off this vail
in the preſence of her former lovers, and to take
Chriſt by the hand, and then ſhe puts on the vail
of ſubjection whereby the promiſes in his ſtrength,
to ſubject herſelf to her Huſband’s will. Have we
thus promiſed to be obedient to his commands, in his
own ſtrength whatever he injoins us to door ſuffer.

3dly. Try by the conſequents of this marriage.
Would you know if there has been a contract be-
twixt Chriſt and you? Try then by the immediate
confequents.

1. Did you ſee the King in his beauty, and ſuch
a glory and excellency in him as could not be paral-
elled by all the glory of ten thouſand worlds?

2. What was your eonverſe with him on the
contract-day? Can you ſay. He embraced me in his
arms, and I embraced him in my heart, and there
was ſweet communion and fellowſhip betwixt him
and me?

3. Waſt thou crowned on the marriage-day, ſo
as thou waſt known by others, as it were, to be the
bride of Chriſt? The Jews not only crowned the
Bridegroom, but the bride alſo. You ſee what
the crown is that Chriſt’s bride ſhould have, Rev.
xii. 1. “There appeared a great wonder in heaven!
a woman clothed with the ſun, and the moon under
her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve ſtars.”
to the bride of Chriſt is crowned with the doctrice
of the twelve apoſtle.

4. The bride of Chriſt keeps at home, and de-
lights in the bride-chamber. This is her delight
all the days of her life, “To dwell in the houſe of
the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.” Ordi-
nances will be ſweet, being the galleries wherein
the King is held.

Laſtly, and to conclude, Try by the qualities of
the bride, that are alſo conſequents of the marriage.

1. If you be Chriſt's bride, then you will love
the bridegroom. Love is what every wife owes to
her huſband; much more doth the believer owe it
to Chriſt, who hath expreſſed far more love to his
bride than ever a huſband did to a wife; ‘He loved
her, and gave himſelf for her.” He ſhed the hotteſt
blood of his heart to ſave and redeem her. You
will love him with a love of deſire : ‘With my ſoul
have I deſired thee in the night:” with a love of
delight: “My meditation of him ſhall he ſweet:
with a love of benevolence, wiſhing well to his
interests: "If I forget thee, O Jeruſalem, let my
right hand forget her cunning; let my tongue
cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I prefer not
thee to my chiefeſt joy,” Pſal. cxxvii. 5, 6. They
that habitually love huſhand, wife, children, riches,
or any other thing, more than Chriſt, have no rea-
ſon to think that they are matched with him.

2. If we be married to Chriſt, we will truſt in,
and depend on our huſband. In whom can a wife
truſt, if not her huſband? The believer reſts on
Chriſt for grace and glory; and commits all to him,
and expects all from him. The ſoul that is eſpouſ-
ed to Chriſt, looks on the infinite virtue of his
blood, the infinite efficacy of his Spirit, the infinite
fulneſs of his grace, dimenſions of his love, and
faithfulneſs of his promiſes; and there ſees in-
finite ground of hope, and rolls all on him.

Lastly, If we be married to Chriſt, we will
have ſeal for his glory. Some ſacrifice Chriſt's
intereit to their own honour; but the believer ſays,
when under any lively influence. Let my Maſter
increaſe, and me decreaſe. Tho’ my name ſhould :
never oe heard of in the world, let Chriſt, be ex
alted. O! If the greateſt enemies kney what were
in our Lord, they would come and join with him,
as I have done. O! I wouid have all the world
to adore, to have and to praiſe hime. Amen.

FINIS.



[Falkirk, T. Johnston, Printer.]



This work was published before January 1, 1927, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.