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forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
Christ must always have our hearts, our love, and the chief room in our affections. “If any man,” saith Jesus, come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters ; yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Whether they be lawful, or unlawful comforts, if they have more of our hearts than Christ, we are anfaithful to our espoused husband, and “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.” Never do any faithfully give themselves away to Christ, but they have seen more beauty in him than in any other, and therefore he will have their chief love.
4. They must cleave to Christ, over the belly of all the world's smiles and frowns also. They must neither be bribed, nor driven from him. Song viii. 6, 7. Christ's spouse may lay her account with flatteries, to draw her away from Christ; but as “ Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, so ought all his people to do.” They will meet also with threatenings, and persecutions, and afflictions, but all they bave must be at his service, they must rt with their very lives to preserve their chastity, if called to it.
5. They must be separated from the world : not only from the world in their hearts, but from the men of the world, in their practices; therefore they are held forth, Rev. xiv. 4, as a company selected out from among the rest of the world; and they are enjoined “not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of their mind.” To be like the world, neighbour aud other, will not do. They must no longer, as in time past, walk according to the course of this world. They must cleave to the purity of the gospel, in doctrine, worship, and practice.
Finally, They must be sincere and upright. “And in their mouth was no guile; for they are without fault before God.” Chaste virgins are like Nathaniel, without guile. Hypocrisy would spoil all. Our espoused husband is a searcher of hearts, and will not be put off with vain pretences. We now proceed,
II. To consider the presenting to Christ of those that keep chaste. Concerning this, I would notice these six things :
1. The time of it, it will be at the great day. When Christ comes as Judge to others, he will come as a bridegroom to his own. Matt. xxv. 1-12. At death they are presented to him, and received into glory; but then both soul and body shall be glorified.
2. They, and they only, that keep chaste, shall be presented to
Christ, as to a bridegroom, in order to marriage. The high priest, under the law, was not to marry a whore. They that shall depart from Christ, shall be made to depart from him there. “ For there shall in no wise enter into heaven any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.” But the chaste virgins shall be brought to the king, Psalm xlv. And it must needs be so, for it is not consistent with his honour to take others, and not consistent with his faithfulness to forsake them.
3. The house out of which the bride shall go, even out of a grave, or out of the world, this earth. Some will be found alive when the bridegroom comes, they shall be changed; some in their graves, they shall be raised. Out of prison they go to reign.
4. The bride's attendants. A glorious company shall be with her, wlien she is to be presented to the bridegroom. Angels shall attend her, they that were witnesses to her espousals, shall also be witnesses to her marriage. And O what a joyful day will it be, when Christ's ministers shall say, here are we, and the children thou hast given us.
5. The place where the bride shall be presented to the bridegroom, " Then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air : and so shall we be ever with the Lord." Christ will thus come more than half way to meet her. And O what a joyful meeting will that be.
Lastly, The place where the marriage shall be solemnized, that is the bridegroom's father's house, even in heaven. " Then shall they be ever with the Lord.” O blessed espousals to Christ, but yet there is a great difference betwixt the espousals and the marriage, as 1. The espousals are made on earth, but the marriage in heaven. They are probably espoused in the temple below, but the marriage is in the temple above.
2. There is a mixed multitude at the espousals, but not so at the marriage. Many put their hands to the pen, and sign the contract, who are not divorced from their other lovers; but there the door is shut, and none but chaste virgins admitted.
3. The bridegroom appears beautiful at the espousals, but far more beautiful at the marriage, for then they shall see him as he is, and
the half has not been told. 4. The bride contracts with him in a sorry state, giving away herself to him, that he may make her beautiful. But at the marriage, the bride shall be adorned, not only with a perfect imputed righeousness, but also with a perfect inhérent righteousness. The Lamb's wife shall thien “ bave made herself ready, and shall appear
arrayed in fine linen, clean and white." No spot, no wrinkle in the bride, but she shall be holy, and without blemish.
5. Many a time, the bride at the espousals gives away herself to Christ with sorrow in her heart, tears in her eyes, and with a trembling hand signs the contract, for fear she mismanage it, or that the bridegroom will not take her, but then all these things shall be gone. “They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
6. At the espousals, the bride sometimes gets some little gifts to rejoice her heart; but then she shall get a fulness of joy, of which she is not now capable.
Lastly, After the espousals she is in bazard. There are many to attempt her chastity now, but after the marriage she shall never be in hazard any more.
USE 1. Remember that I have espoused you to Christ, and that now you are no more your own but his. There was a solemn day of espousals to Christ here, last Sabbath, and then we got you espoused to our Master. Let as reflect on this a little.
1. Was there not an offer of Christ, made to all communicants and hearers, in Simprin kirk, and Simprin byre, that day. Were you not told he was willing, and it should be a bargain, if you were willing also.
2. Was there any one in either of the places of worship, that said they would not take him? Did any say we have loved idols, and will go after them? Did you not sit and stand there as his people ? Why did you crowd in, was it to protest against Christ, we heard no such thing; Nay, did not your heart say within you, even so I take him.
3. Did we not bring out the contract to you and read it, that you might know what you were doing? Did you not hear the articles, that you behoved to part with sin and the world? and yet after all there were none of you said that you were against the bargain.
4. Did we not put the pep into the hands of many of you, gave you the bread and wine, the symbols of Christ's body and blood ? Christ was exhibited in that sacrament. Wherefore was it, but that you might subscribe the contract.
Lastly, Did we not see yon sign the contract, give away yourselves to Christ, and take the sacrament of his body and blood upon it? Witness then, O heavens! witness 0 earth! witness O angels! Be ye witnesses, O stones and wood of Simprin kirk and byre, and we ourselves are witnesses, that upon the second day of February, 1707, we espoused this people unto our Master Christ.
USE 2. And now I have but one request to you. Behave in such a manner, as you may be presented as a chaste virgin, to Christ the bridegroom, at the great day. “Little children keep yourselves from
idols." Keep the chief room in your heart for Christ, and let not your garments again be defiled. Consider, last Sabbath you were beginning a work for eternity, why did you consent to the espousals, if you have not a mind for the marriage; and surely you cannot think to go a-whoring from your espoused husband, unless you mind never to be presented to him for the marriage. Alas! I fear we will lose of our account, when the day comes for presenting the bride. Suppose you heard Christ, at that day, say to us, What! did you espouse no more to me, than these ? and us to answer, Lord, we espoused many more to thee, but they afterwards went back to their lusts, now they are amissing, and we dare not present them, because they have not kept chaste.
OBJECTION. Alas! it is impossible for us to keep free of sin. ANSWER. It is not every slip that will denominate you unchaste. Let it be the constant bent of your souls to keep faithful to Christ. Struggle against sin; and if you do, though it may prevail, yet it shall not prevent your acceptance, while you flee to the blood of Christ. You may say with David, “ Iniquities prevail against me; as for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away.” Remember the case of the betrothed damsel, Deut. xxii. 25, 26. Amen.
Galashiels, Saturday, September 21, 1723.
SERVING THE LORD IN HOLINESS.
LUKE i. 74, 75, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of
our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life.
The covenant of grace is the great contrivance for salvation to lost sinners; it is the chariot in which Christ carries home his bride to his Father's house in heaven, Song iii. 9, 10. The gospel is the proclamation, and free offer of this covenant to all. Faith is the taking hold of this covenant, the embracing it, the sinner's personal entering into it, the coming up into the chariot. The sacraments are the seals of this covenant. Our text is the import and substance of this covenant, shewing what is offered to you all in the
gospel; to be believed and applied by you all, to yourselves, through faith; and what shall be sealed to you all, who believe, in the sacrament. “Even that he would grant unto us, that we being delivered," &c.
This covenant is a sworn covenant, vers. 72, 73, that poor sinners, who have a mind for it, may have strong consolation, to balance their strong doubts and fears. But to whom? To Abraham, ver. 73, as a type of Christ; that is really to Jesus Christ, the true Abraham, the true father of the multitude of the faithful, who at God's call left heaven, his native country, and came and sojourned among the cursed race of mankind, and there offered up his own flesh and blood, a sacrifice unto God. And so became the true heir of the world, and received the promises for his spiritual seed, whereof this is the sum, “ That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered," &c. Compare Genesis xxii. 16–18. Of which passage, our text is an inspired paraphrase. There are two things in the text to which we shall at present attend, and afterwards take a particular view of the other parts of it.
I. The conveyance made in this covenant, “That he would grant unto us," &c.
II. The benefits secured to us in this conveyance. Let us then attend :
1. To the conveyance made in this covenant. In this, two things may be observed.
1. The parties in whose favour this conveyance is made. Us, the seed of Abraham. The Father has solemnly engaged to the Son, that these shall be delivered and serve him. OBJECTION. What comfort is this to us sinners of the Gentiles ? ANSWER. “If you be Christ's, then are you .Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Therefore believe on Christ this day; believe the promises, and so be his, and you are secured for time and eternity. OBJECTION, But I fear I am none of the spiritual seed, the elect in whose favour that covenant conveyance is made. How then can I believe, and apply the promises to myself? ANSWER. The original copyof the covenant of promises was filled up from all eternity, and signed by the Father, and the Son as the second Adam, and remains locked up in the cabinet of heaven. And in this question, whether you shall believe or not; none would order you to call for a sight of the original copy, to see if your name be there, but the enemy of your salvation ; nor would even he order you, if he did not know very well that a sight of it you cannot have, till you have believed. His designs, then, is to keep you from believing. But there is a double of it in the gospel, subscribed also by the Father, and the Son