« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
will bring the soul to a saving close with Christ. It conforms the heart to the gospel, mortifies its enmity and opposition against the scheme of salvation therein revealed; it causes the heart to embrace the joyful tidings, and entirely to adhere to, and acquiesce in, the revelation of Christ as our Saviour; it causes the whole soul to accord and symphonize with it, admitting it with entire credit and respect, cleaving to it with full inclination and affection; and it effectually disposes the soul to give up itself entirely to Christ.
4. This light, and ibis only, has its fruit in an universal holiness of life. No merely notional or speculative understanding of the doctrines of religion will ever bring to this. But this light, as it reaches the bottom of the heart, and changes the nature, so it will effectually dispose to an universal obedience. It shews God as worthy to be obeyed and served. It draws forth the heart in a sincere love to God, which is the only principle of a true, gracious, and universal obedience; and it convinces of the reality of those glorious rewards that God has promised to them that obey him.
THE CHURCH'S MARRIAGE TO HER SONS AND TO HER GOD.
ISAIAH LXII. 4, 5.
Thy land shall be married. For as a young man marrieth a
virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee; and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice
In the midst of many blessed promises that God makes to his church-in this and the preceding and following chapters -of advancement to a state of great peace, comfort. bonour, and joy, after long-continued affliction, we have the sum of all contained in these two verses.
In the 4th versi. God says to his church, “ Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah, and thy lind Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.” When it is said, “ Thy land shall be married,” we are to understand “ the body of thy people, thy whole race;" the land-by a metonymy, very usual in Scripture-being put for the people that inhabit the land.—The 5th verse explains how this should be accomplish d in two things, viz. in being married to her sons, and married to her God.
I. It is promised that she should be married to her sons, or that her sons should marry her : “ For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee.” Or, as the words might have been more literally translated from the original: “ As a young man is married to a virgin, so shall thy sons be married to thee.” Some by this understand a promise, that the posterity of the captivated Jews should return again from Babylon to the land of Canaan, and should be, as it were, married or wedded to their own land ; i. e. they should be re-united to their own land, and should have great comfort and joy in it, as a young man in a virgin that he marries. But when it is said, “ So shall thy sons marry thee,” God does not direct his speech to the land itself, but to the church whose land it was; the pronoun thee being applied to the same mystical person in this former part of the verse, as in the words immediately following in the latter part of the same sentence, “ And as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee." It is the church, and not the hills and valleys of the land of Canaan, that is God's bride, or the Lamb's wife. It is also manifest, that when God says, “ So shall thy sons marry thee," he continues to speak to ber to whom he had spoken in the three preceding verses; but there it is not the land of Canaan, but the church, that he speaks to when he says, “ The Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken,” &c. And to represent the land itself as a bride, and the subject of espousals and marriage, would be a figure of speech very unnatural, and not known in scripture; but for the church of God to be thus represented is very usual from the beginning to the end of the Bible. And then it is manifest that the return of the Jews to the land of Canaan from the Babylonish captivity, is not the event mainly intended by the prophecy of which these words are a part. That was not the time fulfilled in the 2d verse of this chapter. “ And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory; and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name.” That was not the time spoken of in the preceding chapters, with which this chapter is one continued prophecy. That was not the time spoken of in the last words of the foregoing chapter, when the Lord would cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all nations: nor was it the time spoken of in the 5th, 6th, and 9th verses of that chapter, when “strangers should stand and feed the flocks of God's people, and the sons of the alien should be their ploughmen and vine-dressers; but they should be named the priests of the Lord, and men should call them the ministers of God; when they should eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory boast themselves, and their seed should be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people; and all that should see them
* Preached at the instalment of the Rev. Samuel Buel, as Pastor of the church and congregation at East Hampton, on Long Island, September 19, 1746.
should acknowledge them, that they are the sced which the Lord hath blessed." Nor was that the time spoken of in the chapter preceding that, " when the abundance of the sea should be converted unto the church; when the isles should wait for God, and the ships of Tarshish to bring her sons from far, and their silver and gold with them; when the forces of the Gentiles and their kings should be brought; wben the church should suck the milk of the Gentiles, and suck the breast of kings; and when that nation and kingdom that would not serve her should perisla and be utterly wasted : and when the sun should be no more her light by day, neither for brightness should the moon give light unto her, but the Lord should be unto her an everlasting light, and her God her glory; and her sun should no more go down, nor her moon withdraw itself, because the Lord should be her everlasting light, and the days of her mourning should be endeu.” These things manifestly have respect to the Christian church, in her most -perfect and glorious state on earth in the last ages of the world; when the church should be so far from being confined to the land of Canaan, that she should fill the whole earth, and all lands should be alike holy.
These words in the text, “ As a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee," I choose rather, with others, to understand as expressive of the church's union with her faithful pastors, and the great benefits she should receive from them. God's ministers, though they are set to be the instructors, guides, and fathers of God's people, yet are also the sons of the church ; Amos ii. 11. “ I raised
of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites.” Such as these, when faithful, are those precious sons of Zion comparable to fine gold spoken of, Lam, iv. ii. 7. “ Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk." And as he that marries a young virgin becomes the guide of her youth; so these sons of Zion are represented as taking her by the hand as her guide, Isaiah li. 18. “ There is none to guide her among all the sons whom she hath brought forth: neither is there any that taketh her by the hand of all the sons that she hath brought up.” That by these sons of the church is meant ministers of the gospel, is confirmed by the next verse to the text, “ I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem."
That the sons of the church should be married to her as a young man to a virgin, is a mystery not unlike many others held forth in the word of God, concerning the relation between Christ and his people, and their relation to him and to one another. Christ is David's Lord and yet his son, and both the root and offspring of David. Christ is a son born
and a child given, and yet the everlasting Father. The church is Christ's mother, Cant. iii. 11; and viii. l; and yet bis spouse, his sister, and his child. Believers are Christ's mother, and yet his sister and brother. Ministers are the sons of the church, and yet are her fathers. The apostle speaks of himself, as the father of the members of the church of Corinth, and also the mother of the Galatians, travailing in birth with them, Gal. iv. 19.
2. The second and chief fulfilment of the promise consists in the church being married to Christ: “ And as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.
Not that we are to understand that the church has many husbands, or that Christ is one busband, and minis. ters are other husbands strictly speaking. For though ministers are here spoken of as being married to the church, yet it is not as his competitors, or as standing in a conjugal relation to his bride in any way parallel with his. For the church properly has but one husband; she is not an adultress, but a virgin, who is devoted wholly to the Lamb, and who follows him whithersoever he goes. But ministers espouse the church entirely as Christ's ambassadors, as representing him and standing in his stead, being sent forth by him to be married to her in his name, that by these means she may be married to him. As when a prince marries a foreign lady by proxy, the prince's ambassador marries her, but not in his own name, but in the name of his master, that he may be the instrument of bringing her into a true conjugal relation to him. This is agreeable to what the apostle says, 2 Cor. xi. 2. “I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy; for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste yirgin to Christ.” Here the apostle represents himself as being, as it were, the husband of the church of Corinth; for it is the husband that is jealous when the wife commits adultery; and yet he speaks of himself as having espoused them, not in his own name, but in the name of Christ, and for bim, and him only, and as bis ambassador, sent forth to bring them home a chaste virgin to him. Ministers are in the text represented as married to the church in the same sense that elsewhere they are represented as fathers of the church. The church has but one father, even God, and ministers are fathers as his ambassadors; so tbe church has but one shepherd, John x. 16. “There shall be one fold and one shepherd;" but yet ministers, as Christ's ambassadors, are often called the church's shepherds or pastors. The church has but one Saviour; but yet ministers, as his ambassadors and instruments, are called her saviours; 1 Tim. iv. 16. “ In doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee. Obad. 21. “ And saviours shall come upon