The Church of Jesus Christ
THE CHURCH COMPARED TO A DOVE
" 0 my Dove, that art in the clifts of the rock," &c.. Cant. ii. 14
" 0 deliver not the soul of thy turtle-Dove unto the multitude," &c; Psal. Ixxiv. 19
THAT is, thy Church and people, who worship none but thee, as the turtle-Dove, that never entertains conjunction with another; and who in their affliction, like a Dove, express their grief in sighs and solitary groans to thee; and which is unarmed, weak, simple, and meek, like the turtle-Dove, which is esteemed the least among the species of Doves, as Aristotle says. The Chaldee renders it, " the soul of such as learn thy law," the word a turtle-Dove being of some affinity with law. Christ calls his Church a Dove, by which metaphor, saith Glassius, its simplicity, chastity, &c., is denoted.
That the spouse of Christ, or a gracious soul, is or may fitly be compared unto a Dove.
I. THE saints of God are injurious to none, they seek the hurt of no man, they are and ought to be harmless, " The children of God, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation," Phil. ii. 15.
II. The saints make their abode in the Rock Christ; they build only in him, and upon him, Exod. xxxiii. 22, and indeed in the clifts of this Rock they rest, viz., in the wounds, piercings, dyings, and crucifyings of the Lord Jesus Christ.
III. Gracious souls, or sincere Christians, do not feed upon the sensual pleasures, and carnal delights of this world, as the ungodly do ; nor will they feed upon, or receive in the detestable carrion of men's traditions ; they hate idolatry, false worship, and every evil way, and only feed and live upon the pure grain of God's holy Word, Psal. cxix. 104, 120.
IV. The saints of God are persecuted and molested by all the sons of Belial; they are chased like a Dove or partridge upon the mountains, 1 Sam. xxvi. 20.
V. The godly have no other way, when molested by Satan, and wicked men, but to fly to God : " At what time I am afraid, I will trust in thee," Psal. Ivi. 3.
VI. The sincere Christian looks not upon himself as secure, until he be got into Christ. " The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it, and are safe," Prov. xviii. 10. They, like Noah's Dove, fly to the ark.
VII. The sincere Christian, and spouse of Christ, is very chaste to the Lord Jesus, will own no other head or husband, they defy the Pope, that first-born of Satan, and all others who pretend to headship, and ecclesiastical jurisdiction over their consciences.
VIII. The saints of God have a single and lovely eye in Christ's sight: they strive to be like the Dove, resisting pride, lust, and wanton-ness. and to be adorned with meekness and modesty. having always their eyes upon Jesus Christ; not daring to lift up their eyes to other lovers, but by holy intention wait upon him alone in all their devotion, Isa. viii. 17, Psal. xv. 15.
IX. God's children love communion and fellowship one with another, that they may mutually be comforted and edified in faith: " They fly like a cloud, and as Doves to their windows, that is, to the house or Church of God," Isa. Ix. 8.
X. A gracious soul mourns when it hath lost the sight of Jesus Christ: " Thou hidest thy face and I was troubled," saith David ; " I did mourn as a Dove," saith Hezekiah, " mine eyes fail with looking up. I shall not see the Lord in the land of the living," Isa. xxxviii. 11, 14, " They shall be on the mountains, like Doves in the valleys, every one mourning for his own iniquity " Ezek. vii. 16.
XI. The Church is also very fruitful to Christ, (1.) In respect of bringing forth children : "This and that man, it shall be said was born in her," Psal. Ixxxvii. 5. (2) In respect of bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit, and good works.
XII. Christians, or gracious souls, love to be by the sweet streams of living water ; by that river that makes glad the city of God, Psal. xlvi. 4. They love to drink of the promises and consolations of the Spirit.
XIII. The saints are gloriously adorned with the righteousness of Christ, and with the gifts and graces of the Spirit, and when the Sun of Righteousness shines, and sends forth his resplendent beams and rays upon them, then their graces appear and shine most glorious, Psal. xlv.
XIV. The Godly are required to offer up themselves, both body and soul, as an acceptable sacrifice unto God, Rom. xii. 1; and many of them have been commanded, and readily have yielded themselves up to God, in a way of suffering, for Christ's sake; and none but those who are God's own sincere children, are accepted in offering up themselves, either in a way of doing or suffering, Prov. xv. 8.
XV. The saints of God are of themselves in many things silly and foolish, wanting that heart, courage, and magnanimity of spirit, to stand up for God, his truth, interest, and people, as they ought to do.
I. Is Christ's Church, and so consequently every gracious person, compared to a Dove, being meek, humble, harmless, chaste, and single-hearted to the Lord Jesus Christ ? &c. Then we may assure ourselves, that she that delights in prey, rapine, and blood, as doth the Romish Church, is none of the Dove or Church of Jesus Christ.
II. Are the eyes of a Dove by the rivers of water ? Do they delight in springs, fountains, and pure rivers ? And in this are they an emblem of the godly, who hate all filthy, loathsome, and detestable traditions of men, and delight only in the pure, unmixed, and crystal streams of God's holy institutions ? Then all those, who, like ravens, and other foul and unclean birds of prey, delight in ditches, and in long-standing, stinking pools of this false church, where they defile themselves in searching for the detestable carrion of idolatry, are none of Christ's Dove-like people.
III. And let those that are the people of God labour to be like the Dove, who is neat, and will not defile itself; let them see they keep their hearts chaste to Christ and avoid all pollution of sin in their conversation, 2 Cor. vii. 1.
IV. This also may inform the godly that it is no marvel if they be persecuted and molested by the wicked.
V. And in the midst of all their afflictions, persecutions, and temptations, this may comfort them; God hath prepared for his poor Doves a strong place of defence and shelter, viz., the Rock Christ, whither let us in all times of danger fly by faith and prayer.
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