The Church of Jesus Christ
THE CHURCH COMPARED TO A WIFE
" Thy Maker is thy Husband." Isa. liv. 5 " / will show you the Bride, the Lamb's wife" Rev. xxi. 9
by the metaphor, espousals, which is the most pleasant metaphor of all, the spiri?tual union between Christ and the Church is expressed, Hos. ii. 19, 20. From the names of husband and Wife, metaphors also are taken, Isa. liv. 5, where God calls himself to a, the husband of the Church, and hence Zion is said to be Beulah, that is married, Isa. Ixii. 4, 5.
Note, The Church of Christ is the Wife of Christ.
I. So the Church, and every true Christian, hath made a solemn contract or covenant with, and is married to the Lord Jesus, Rom. vii. 1?4.
II. So a gracious soul in this spiritual marriage gives itself to Christ, and Christ gives himself to the soul. I will be thine, saith Christ, to love thee, thine to save thee, thine to crown thee, and make thee happy; I, with all my riches, and rich treasures of grace and glory, will be fully thine, and forever thine. And on the other hand, the soul by way of return gives itself unto Christ: I will be thine, saith every sincere convert, I will be for thee, and not for another. Hence it is said, " They gave themselves to the Lord," 2 Cor. viii. 5. Blessed Jesus, saith the soul, such as I am and have, I give to thee; I am a poor sorry piece, infinitely unworthy to wash the feet of the servants of my Lord, 0 how undeserving then of thy acceptation ! My best is too bad, my all is too little for thee: but since it is thy pleasure to accept of such a gift, I do with my whole soul give myself, my strength, my time, my talents, and all I have, am, or can do, for the glory of thy holy name.
III. So all true Christians renounce sin, self, and the law in point of justification, and all lo?vers whatsoever, and keep themselves chaste and faithful to Christ. " Wherefore brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to him who is risen from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God," Rom. vii. 4.
IV. So the Church obeys and reverences the Lord Jesus Christ, and owns him to be her Lord.
V. So the Church, and each true Christian, strives to please 'the Lord Jesus, " That ye may walk worthy of the Lord in all well-pleasing, being fruitful in every good work," &c. Col. i. 10.
VI. So the soul by marrying of Christ, is in?terested into all Christ's riches; he hath a sure, a new covenant-right to whatsoever Christ hath; the riches both of grace and glory are become his hereby.
VII. So the Church, and each true Christian, by entering into a marriage relation with the Lord Jesus, is brought into a very near union and con?junction with him. " For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall join unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church," Eph. v. 31. Hence the apostle saith, '? He that is joined to the Lord, is one Spirit," 1 Cor. vi. 17. This is a most blessed union, a full union, a lasting union ; (1.) a full union. The whole person of Christ is joined to the whole person of a believer, and the whole person of a believer is joined to the whole person of Christ. Not only Christ's human nature is joined to a believer but his divine nature also ; and so not only the body of a believer is joined to Christ but his soul is joined also. This may administer much consolation to dying saints: the body as well as the soul, is the Lord's, and therefore shall not be lost, he will raise it up at the last day. From hence Christ sympathizeth with his people, he feels and is sensible of all their sorrows, and he looks upon their sufferings as his sufferings. " I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not," Matt. xxv. 35, 36. " In all their afflic?tions he was afflicted," Isa. lxiii. 9.
VIII. The Church, and every true believer, by being espoused and married to Christ, the Lord Jesus, hath a near, a dear, a strong, and most inti?mate affection towards him. A saint is filled with most sweet peace, joy, and delight, and takes most precious complacency in Christ; he is more than father, mother, sons, or daughters. " He is fairer than the sons of men." " The chiefest often thousand." " Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none on earth that I desire besides thee." " Thou hast ravished my heart, (saith Christ,) my sister, my spouse. How fair and pleasant art thou, 0 love, for delight! Turn away thine eyes, for they have overcome me." " He shall rest in his love." And on the other hand, what saith the Spouse, the Wife of Christ? " I sat down under his sha?dow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet unto my taste." " He is altogether love?ly." " Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples; for I am sick of love." Psalm. xlv. 2, Cant.' v. 10, Psalm. Ixxiii. 25, Zeph. iii. 17, Cant. v. 16. The saints, saith one, are called Christ's Spouse, because of the unparalleled love that is between them; and, saith another, Christ calls himself our Bridegroom, that he might insinuate the greatness of his love, which decays not with time ; and he calls us his spouse, not his Wife, noting, that our love to him should be always new, always lively and vigorous.
IX. So a gracious soul, if Christ be offended, and withdrawn from him, is greatly cast down and grieved. " Thou hidest thy face, and I was troubled; I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had with?drawn himself, and was gone. My soul failed when he spake; I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer," Cant. v. 6. " Where is the sounding of thy bowels, and thy mercy towards me ? Are they restrained ?" "Be not wroth very sore, 0 Lord, neither remember our iniquity for ever; behold, we beseech thee, we are thy people," Isa. Ixiii. 15, and Ixiv. 9.
X. So in like manner, no sooner is a soul espoused or married to Christ, but all his debts to law and justice fall upon Christ, and he pays all; he stands between wrath and us, justice and us ; he keeps off all danger of arrests, and fear of imprisonment; he hath riches enough. All is cleared the day the soul closes in with him, though whole mountains of guilt were upon us before.
XI. So, the Church being married to Christ, the Lord Jesus, the Prince of heaven and earth, is raised to the greatest honor imaginable; she is made hereby a princess, and hence called a queen. " On thy right-hand did stand the queen, in gold of Ophir," Psalm. xlv. 9. The saints also have the attendance of Christ's servants, the holy angels. " They are sent forth to minister to them that are heirs of eternal life," Heb. i. 14.
XII. Christ frees his people from all inordi?nate and unnecessary care. " Cast all your care upon him, for he careth for you,'' 1 Pet. v. 7. He manageth all our concerns in heaven, always ap?pearing before God for us. "We have an Advo?cate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous," I John ii. 1, and he manageth all our affairs on earth, in a way of grace, and divine Providence; works all our works in us, and for us, Isa. xxvii. 12. He gives and loves, saves and feeds us, and will never leave us, till he hath brought us to heaven. " He became poor, (but we were no losers thereby,) for by his poverty we are made rich," 2 Cor. viii. 9.
XIII. So, the Church is fruitful to Christ, bringing forth many sons and daughters to him, whom she takes care of, feeds, and nurseth, as the mother does her children. " For thus saith the Lord, Behold I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. Then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and dandled upon her knees, as one whom his mother comforteth," &c. See Mother. Isa. Ixvi. 12, 13.
XIV. " So the secrets of the Lord are with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant," Psal. xxv. 14. " Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of men to conceive, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them to us by his Spirit," 1 Cor. ii. 9, 10.
But the Church cannot lose her Husband. Christ " dieth no more," Rom. vi. 9. He is immortal, Rev. i. 18, and therefore she can never be a widow, nor her children fatherless. " I will not leave you comfortless," the word is, orphans, John xiv. 18. He is an everlasting Husband.
I. Stand and wonder ! Doth Christ espouse and take to wife such a poor and contempti?ble creature as mankind! What disproportion is there between a king and a beggar, be?tween an ant and an angel ? A far greater disproportion there is between Jesus Christ and sinners. He is high and great; but we are base and vile. He is blessed and glorious; we are wretched and miserable. He is a mighty King, King of kings; and we poor slaves and vassals, yea, the worst of slaves, vassals and slaves to sin and Satan.
II. From hence you may perceive the unspeakable nearness there is between Christ and his people ; can there be a sweeter and more glorious union than this! If we consider the properties of it, it is a spiritual, a real, an operative, an enriching, an intimate, an indisso?luble union, to be bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. What can any soul desire more? What greater happiness, what more glorious, saith one of the ancients, than this union ?
III. What doctrine can yield greater comfort to believers, who are thus happily espous?ed and married to Jesus Christ! We say, such and such are well disposed of, happily married; 0 soul, how well art thou disposed of! What! married to Christ, to the Son of God, to the King of heaven and earth !
IV. This may show the saints their duty, and put them in mind of their covenant. Soul, thou hast vowed, and canst not go back.
V. And may be of use, especially to all that stand related as husband and Wife in the Church, for husbands to make Christ their pattern in their carriage and deportment to?wards their Wives; and likewise Wives to make the Church their example in their behavior towards their husbands, as the apostle giveth direction, Eph. v. 21, 33.
VI. Lastly; What terror doth this speak to the enemies of the Church! If the Church be the Wife of Christ, what will they do that so much abuse her, and continually seek her life ? Let them know, he will appear in wrath and vengeance to save and deliver her, and will tear them in pieces in a short time.
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