“And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” Matthew 25:6
“He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.” John 3:29
This metaphor of a Bridegroom, as it is exceeding useful, so it is as comfortable and pleasant a metaphor as most we meet with in the holy scriptures.
A Bridegroom presupposes two things. First, a person in a single capacity; and as so considered, he is a suitor. Secondly, a person in a married estate; and as so considered, he is a head or husband. In both these respects Christ may be considered, and is held forth in the word of God. He first acts as a Lover or suitor, to engage the love and affections of sinners to himself; and then joins himself in a glorious, mystical marriage-relation with them, and accordingly acts towards the sons of men; of which take this following parallel.
|A man that intends or is disposed to marry, is not contented (or thinketh it not convenient) how happy soever he is otherwise, in the enjoyment of all outward good things in his father’s house.||Jesus Christ, notwithstanding all the glory he had with the Father, being the joy and excellencies and perfections, dwelling in the fruition of eternal bliss, yet thought upon a spouse, and judged it meet to enter into a marriage-relation, Proverbs 8:31.|
|An obedient and wise son takes advice, and consults with his father, being fully resolved to change his condition, and enter into a contract of love, and marriage-union; and then fixes upon a particular object.||Jesus Christ took counsel with the Father about the glorious design of love and good will he bore to mankind; and hence he is said to be “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God,” Acts 2:23. It was no less than the great result of the blessed Trinity, that the Lord Jesus the second Person, should espouse sinners to himself: “Jesus said unto them, …for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me,” John 8:42. He fixed not his choice on the fallen angels, but on the offspring of fallen man, who were given unto him by the Father.|
|A man hath fixed upon an object that he intends to espouse unto himself, he contrives the way and method of his proceeding, in making known his mind, and to bring about his design; and many times will choose to send messengers, to treat with the person about the business, and discover his affections, before he goes himself in person.||Jesus Christ having fixed his eye upon lost and perishing man, agreed with the Father upon the way and method of proceeding, what he must do and become, in order to the accomplishment of this glorious enterprise: and accordingly the Father was pleased, out of his abundant grace, in a fit season, to make known his eternal counsel, and proposed Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman, to the sinner, as an object of love; and not only so, but also before he came himself, he sent messengers, the prophets, “rising up betimes, and sending;” 2 Chronicles 36:15 to offer terms of love and friendship, and reveal his purpose to them.|
|After this, a lover usually (his heart being enflamed with love and ardent affection to the person, though she being in another country, very far off) takes a journey resolving to give her a visit; and in order thereunto he suits himself in a fit garb, and clothing, that so he might every way render himself a person acceptable, and meet, likely, and capable of winning and enjoying of her.||Jesus Christ after this, such was the greatness of his love, and strength of his affection, resolved to take a journey to give poor sinners a most gracious visit; the journey he took was long, as far as from heaven to earth. And that he might accomplish his blessed purpose, he fits himself with a garb accordingly, laying aside his heavenly robes, he clothed himself with our flesh, or did assume a man’s nature, that so he might every way become a meet object for the sinner, and likely to come and enjoy him at last.|
|If the person or suitor be a prince, and known, commonly at his arrival, he is much congratulated and welcomed, by the nobility, and persons or honour.||When the Lord Jesus came into the world, the angels of God, who had knowledge of him, in an heavenly way of congratulation, magnified the Most High: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men,” Luke 2:13-14. But how ungratefully was he welcomed and entertained by the generality of mankind, for whose sake he came into the world?|
|A lover, when he goes to visit a person he intends to espouse unto himself, usually sends his friend, or takes him along with him, to signify, not what only what and who he is, but also his intention and purpose in coming.||The Lord Jesus, when he came into this world, to espouse poor sinners in a spiritual way, sent John the Baptist to prepare the way before him, and make ready a people for him, who bore witness of his Majesty, and declared the excellency of his Person, as also gracious intention: “but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire,” Matthew 3:11. “Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled,” John 3:28-29.|
|A man propounds questions to the person he loves, to discover whether she be pre-engaged to any other; and if he perceives she is entangles through great folly, and in danger to be utterly undone thereby, he strives to undeceive her, and save her from ruin.||Jesus Christ propounds questions in his word to poor sinners, thereby to discover how it is with their souls, showing the danger of being in love with sin, or to reply upon their own righteousness, or to have their affections inordinately set upon things of this world: he strives to undeceive them. “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin,” John 8:34. “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me,” Luke 9:23. “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me,” Matthew 10:37. “for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins,” John 8:24. “And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,” Luke 13:2-3.|
|A lover makes offers of love unto the person he has fixed his eye upon, and uses divers arguments, to persuade her to yield or consent unto his request.||Jesus Christ offers his love unto sinners, showing how willing he is to embrace them in the arms of his mercy. He commends his favour and good will to sinners many ways; first, by his taking our nature upon him, and coming into the world. Secondly, by those hard things he met with in this life for our sakes. Thirdly, by shedding of his blood. Fourthly, he commends his love by the continual motions of his Spirit upon our hearts, and by those inward checks of conscience, besides those blessed offers and tenders of grace, which dropped from his gracious lips: “Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink,” John 7:37. “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth,” Isaiah 45:22. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me,” Revelation 3:20.|
|A true lover respects his intended bride, more than wealth, beauty, etc. It is not the portion, but the person his eye is principally set upon.||Jesus Christ loves poor sinners, not for any thing he sees in them, not for beauty, riches, for naturally mankind hath nothing that may render them any way desirable in Christ’s eye; he might see enough in them to loathe them, but nothing to love them.|
|Such a person sues hard, uses weighty arguments to prevail, and will not quickly take a denial.||Jesus Christ sues hard, is very importunate, uses many powerful and weighty arguments to prevail with sinners to accept of the terms of grace, and join in a holy contract of love with him. 1. One is taken from the dignity of is Person, being the root and offspring of David; David’s Lord, as well as David’s Son. “I and my Father are one.” 2. From that early love and good will he bore to them! “When there were no depths, I was brought forth; When he gave to the sea his decree, - Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men. Proverbs 8:24, 29-31. And in another place, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee,” Jeremiah 31:3. From the intention or purpose of his coming so long a journey; ”I am come, that they might have life, - I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” 4. His great abasement and condescension. 5. From his suffering: “and I lay down my life for the sheep.” Can there be a greater argument than this? 6. He argues with sinners from the consideration of their own misery, and that absolute necessity there is of closing with him, and the blessed effects of it: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,” John 3:36.|
|A faithful suitor waits long, and hath much patience, before he will desist or give over his suit, and yet thinks nothing too much that he suffers or does endure for her sake; as appears concerning Jacob, who served seven years for Rachel: “And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her,” Genesis 29:20.||Jesus Christ waits long, and hath much patience, before he doth desist from his suit, and leave sinners to perish in their iniquities. How long did infinite patience wait upon the old world? Was it not one hundred and twenty years? And forty years upon Israel in the wilderness: “I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people,” Isaiah 65;2. But if he prevails at last, he thinks nothing too much that he has suffered for sinners. He waits at the door of his spouse until, “my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night,” Song of Solomon 5:2, yet does he think all too much.|
|One intends to make a person his bride and only consort, expresses great love; his love is sometimes much more than he can well express; it is very strong, as strong as death; “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it,” Song of Solomon 8:7. There is an unsatisfied desire in the person, until the object beloved be enjoyed.||Jesus Christ doth express and manifest great love to sinners, which he intends to take into covenant-relation with himself. His love, like the Nile, overflows all banks and bounds; his grace is without limits, beyond the love of Jonathan to David. What doth the Gospel show or express more plainly, than the strength of Christ’s love to sinners? Christ expressed such love as never any other had, in laying down his life for his enemies, for such as were rebels to him and his Father. There is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; which passeth knowledge,” Ephesians 3:18-19.|
|Such an one is generally concerned and grieved at the unkindnesses of his friend, and ungrateful repulses, and many times from hence doth withdraw himself, and carry it as a stranger.||Jesus Christ is greatly troubled at the ungrateful repulses he meets with from sinners; which appears, 1. By his being grieved; “being grieved for the hardness of their hearts.” When he drew near to Jerusalem, he wept over it, perceiving how basely they had slighted and rejected him. 2. By condoling and bewailing their miserable state and obstinacy: Israel will have none of me. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, - how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not,” Matthew 23:37. By hiding of his face, and bringing afflictions upon them: “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early,” Hosea 5:15.|
|A suitor nevertheless (such is the nature of his affection) knows not how to give her up; he therefore sends letters, there by further expressing the ardency of his desire, and how loath he to take his final farewell.||Jesus Christ notwithstanding all the unkindnesses of sinners, hath afforded them his word, wherein is expressed his good will and desire to them; nay, and more than this, sends many a kind message to them by the sweet motions of his Spirit, to awaken their consciences, before he leaves them finally: thus he strove with the old world, Genesis 6:3.|
|Moreover, besides all this, he sends faithful messengers to her, as spokesmen, to answer her objections, that so (if it be possible) he might bring her at last to a compliance: who use also many arguments in order thereunto. Thus Abraham’s servant acted, when he went to take a wife for Isaac, Genesis 24:35-37.||Jesus Christ sends his faithful ministers, who are as spokesmen for their Master: “for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ,” 2 Corinthians 11:2. “I have espoused you,” the meaning is, I have been employed as an instrument sent and commissioned by the Lord Jesus to do it. Many arguments they use to bring poor sinners to accept of the offers of grace, and receive Jesus Christ as, 1. They, like Abraham’s servant set forth the greatness and riches of their Master: “And the LORD hath blessed my master greatly; and he is become great: and he hath given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and menservants, and maidservants, and camels, and asses. And Sarah my master's wife bare a son to my master when she was old: and unto him hath he given all that he hath,” Genesis 24:35-36. God is very great, all things in heaven and earth are his, “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills,” Psalms 50:10. “All things are delivered unto me of my Father,” Matthew 11:27. Christ is very rich, the heir of all things. 2. They set not out only the greatness and riches of Christ, but his excellent beauty also: “Thou art fairer than the children of men,” Psalms 45:2. 3. The power of Christ. 4. His wisdom. 5. His love and rich bounty. 6. They set before sinners, what the promises are if they receive him, and what glory they shall be raised to. 7. The woefulness of their present state, and what it will be in the end, if they do refuse him: “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; 2 Corinthians 5:11.|
|A suitor also sends love-tokens to the person he intends to make his bride: Isaac sent unto Rebekah, earrings, and bracelets of gold, Genesis 24:22.||Jesus Christ sends tokens of his gracious love to all such that he intends to marry, and betrothe unto himself for ever; he gives them a cabinet of costly jewels, the graces of the Spirit, to adorn them: “For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck,” Proverbs 1:9. Grace is like a box of precious ointment, whose odoriferous smell perfumes the hearts and lives of believers.|
|A lover cannot endure rivals, nor permit that another should have a part or an equal share in the affection of the object beloved.||Jesus Christ cannot endure that the heart of a professor should be divided, or that a man or woman should have one heart for sin, and another for him; he must have the whole heart, or he will have none of it: “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” Matthew 22:37. Conscience may be for Christ and his ways, and the judgment may be much enlightened, when the will my be opposite, and the affections set chiefly upon sin, and the vanities of this world: “Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty,” Hosea 10:2.|
|Some lovers have fought great battles, and met with great opposition from enemies, for the sake of those persons they have set their hearts upon.||Jesus Christ met with greater a opposition, and fought more sore and fearful battles than ever any did, for the sinner’s sake; as witness his conflict with Satan, that strong man armed, with sin and wrath, and last of all with death itself; over all which enemies he gloriously triumphed, and got a perfect conquest, Matthew 4:3-6.|
|A man will not make a contract of marriage with one that is engaged to another person; she must be free from all others, if he espouse her to himself.||Jesus Christ will not take into covenant, or make a contract of divine love or grace, with a person that is not dead to the law. We must see the insufficiency of that, and of our own righteousness, and “have no confidence in the flesh…that I may win Christ,” Philippians 3:3,8. Wherefore, my 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 raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God,” Romans 7:4.|
|When a suitor hath obtained the love and full consent of the person beloved, (and being satisfied upon all accounts, respecting such things as we have hinted) signifies in the next place his resolution to betrothe or marry her unto himself; and that it might be orderly and legally done, she is given to him.||When Jesus Christ, by his word and Holy Spirit, hath brought over all the faculties of the soul unto himself, finding the person dead to sin, self, and to this world, and all things being removed which obstructed this happy contract; he then proceeds, and takes the soul into union with himself: but, according to that holy order and decree of God, no soul is espoused by Christ, but such as is given to him by the Father; “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me,” John 6:37.|
|The espousal day being come, and consummated, there is great joy in the family, amongst the servants and others, to see this happy conjunction.||No sooner is a sinner converted by faith, united or espoused to Jesus Christ, but there is great joy amongst the angels of God in heaven, and amongst the saints of God on earth. “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth,” Luke 15:10. And so in the case of the prodigal, at his return: “But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry,” Luke 15:22-24.|
|A Bridegroom usually, especially if he be a prince or noble person, settles a jointure or dower upon his bride, entitles her to such or such a place, city, land, or inheritance.||Jesus Christ settles upon each soul he espouses, a very great inheritance; he makes over a jointure of an inestimable value, a kingdom of glory, a crown that fadeth not away, even everlasting blessedness.|
|A Bridegroom leaves his bride a while (after he hath espoused her) in her own country, and in her father’s house, doth not immediately carry her home to his own habitation.||Jesus Christ leaves his church, and each believing soul (whom he takes into union with himself) in this world for while, and doth not immediately take them to himself, or carry them to heaven, his own habitation.|
|A Bridegroom rejoiceth over his bride, and much delighteth in her, Isaiah 62:5.||Jesus Christ delighteth greatly in his church, and in every sincere member thereof; hence Zion is called Hephzibah: “and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee,” Isaiah 62:5.|
|The Bridegroom discharges the bride from many debts and dangers, by means of this marriage contract, and conjugal knot. He now stands liable to those actions and arrests, which otherwise, had she abode in a single state, would have come upon her own head.||Jesus Christ discharges his saints and people from all those debts that bind over to eternal wrath. Sinners were miserably indebted to the law and justice, owed ten thousand talents, but had not a farthing to pay; liable every day to arrests, and to be sent to the dark shades of eternal night, or prison of utter darkness, under the wrath of the incensed Majesty, having whole mountains of sin and guilt lying upon them, running every day into new scores, adding sin to sin, one heavy debt upon another. Oh! how great is the guilt of sinful man! And how unable to satisfy Divine Justice! How then shall these debts be paid, all these sins expiated, and the guilt taken away? Justice calls for full payment; its language is, pay, or perish: yet we cannot make the least reparation, nor right God for the wrong we have done him, by offending the eyes of his glory. But now by a marriage-covenant with Jesus Christ, all is at once discharged, and the sinner acquitted; there being riches and worth enough in him, who hath fully satisfied the demands of law and justice; and by union with him the sinner comes to be interested into all. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” 2 Corinthians 5:21. “and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,” Isaiah 53:6. O how happy is that soul that is espoused to Jesus Christ!|
|A Bridegroom, if he be a prince, or noble person, raises his bride to great honour; she is called by his name, has the attendance of his servants, and lies in his bosom.||Jesus Christ confers great honour on those that are espoused to him. The church is called a queen; and how comes that to pass, but by means of this contract and marriage with Christ? “Upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir,” Psalms 45:9. Believers are called by Christ’s name, have the attendance of his servants, the holy angels: “The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them,” Psalms 34:7. “He shall give his angels charge concerning thee,” Matthew 4:6. Saints lie in the bosom of Christ’s love and mercy.|
|A Bridegroom supplies the wants of this bride; it is his part, and great concern, to provide all things needful for his wife that he has espoused.||Jesus Christ supplies all the wants, and makes blessed provision for his saints: “but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing,” Psalms 34:10. Whether it be grace or peace, either food or physic they want, they shall have it from him: all is in Christ: “in him should all fulness dwell,” Colossians 1:19; and in him, so as to be let out and communicated to his saints.|
|A Bridegroom sympathizes with his spouse, and helps to bear her burdens; is greatly troubled when she is afflicted, and cannot endure any should affront, misuse, or wrong her.||Jesus Christ sympathizes with his saints: “In all their affliction he was afflicted,” Isaiah 63:9. And in another place, it is said, “and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel,” Judges 10:16. “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted,” Hebrews 2:18. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities,” Hebrews 4:15. “for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye,” Zechariah 2:8. “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee,” Psalms 55:22.|
|A Bridegroom requires obedience. The man hath, and ought to have pre-eminence over the woman; he is her head, and she is commanded to be in subjection.||Jesus Christ requires obedience of his church, and of every member thereof; hence Paul saith, “The church is subject unto Christ.” “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come,” Ephesians 5:24 and 1:21-22, “and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,” “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” Luke 6:46.|
|A Bridegroom reproves his bride for the faults that he sees in her, from that great love he bears to her.||Jesus Christ reproves his saints for their evils and transgressions, out of his great love. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten,” Revelation 3:19.|
|A Bridegroom nevertheless hides and forgives many infirmities that he sees in his spouse, and will not lay open her weakness, nor expose her to reproach, as Joseph thought to have dealt with Mary.||Jesus Christ covers the weaknesses and infirmities of his people. He covers our sins, doth not upbraid is with our faults, but forgives our iniquities, “and their iniquities will I remember no more,” Hebrews 8:12. Though his saints have many spots and blemishes, yet he through his great grace overlooks them all, and will not expose them to reproach, here nor hereafter, for them.|
|A Bridegroom advises and instructs his spouse, in all things wherein she stands in need of it from him.||Jesus Christ gives counsel and instruction to his people, Revelation 3:18. What heavenly instruction hath he left in his word, of which we stand in need at all times? Psalms 73:24 and Psalm 16:7.|
|A Bridegroom is greatly pleased with the good behavior of his bride, takes much delight in her company, leading her into pleasant places, to lovely fields, and springs of water, for her solace and refreshment.||Jesus Christ is greatly pleased with his people, when they walk as becometh the Gospel. “But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased,” Hebrews 13:16. “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord,” Colossians 3:20. “Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us lodge in the villages. - let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth: there will I give thee my loves,” Song of Solomon 7:11-12. “He leadeth me beside the still waters,” Psalms 23:2.|
|A great and mighty prince will not set his heart upon nor court a leper, a creature blind, deformed, full of running sores, and old ulcers, from the crown of the head, to the sole of the foot.||The Lord Jesus set his heart upon the sinner, when cast out to the loathing of his person in his blood like a new-born infant. Every sinner is a leper in a spiritual sense, defiled all over, wounded, full of ulcers and stinking putrefaction, as loathsome as a filthy sepulchre; every faculty of the soul unclean, and the members of he body polluted. Hence it is said, “From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it,” Isaiah 1:5-6. Yet when the sinner was in this condition, that was the time of Christ’s love.|
|Much less will a king leave his crown and kingdom, and deny himself of all his glory, become poor and contemptible, not having so much as a small cottage to dwell in, nor money in his pocket; nay, be exposed to as great miseries as ever any mortal was; and all for the sake and love he bore to such a wretched creature, a loathsome leper, blind and deformed, a mere vagabond, and contemptible beggar; and yet a creature that was his enemy, a notorious rebel, and hater of him.||Jesus Christ left his kingdom, and all that glory he had with the Father, which was infinite and inconceivable, shining forth in all the excellency and perfections of the heavenly Majesty, with the attendance of all the angels of light, those glorious seraphims and cherubims, who bowed down to worship at his royal feet; yet he left all this, and became poor, 2 Corinthians 8:9; and a man of sorrows, exposing himself to greater pain and misery, than any mortals are capable to endure? And all this for the sake of poor, polluted, and deformed mankind, who were “enemies in your mind by wicked works,” Colossians 1:21.|
|Other lovers and Bridegrooms mind their own advantage and interest in seeking a wife.||Jesus Christ did all to raise us to honour. There could be no addition to his glory and happiness; in all he passed through, and endured.|
|The beauty that another Bridegroom finds in his spouse, is nor transmitted from him unto her; he cannot confer beauty, nor more comely features; if she be hard-favoured, deformed, and ugly, so must she remain.||Jesus Christ finds sinners very ugly and deformed, in head and heart, in face and feature; but he transmits or transfers his glorious beauty unto them. Hence the church’s beauty is said to be, “perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee,” saith the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 16:14. He makes the soul that was polluted, clean; that was deformed, very beautiful and amiable to look upon.|
|Some are not very constant in their love; they cool in their affection, and love not always alike, nor to the end.||Jesus Christ is unchangeable in his love: “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee,” Jeremiah 31:3. He will rest in his love: “having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end,” John 13:1.|
|A princely Bridegroom provides not the wedding-garments for his bride, he is not at the charge of adorning her; the bride doth procure her own attire, her robes, rings, and costly ornaments.||Jesus Christ is at all the charges of clothing and adorning the church, and every sincere believer and member thereof.|
|Other Bridegrooms die, and leave their wives and dear comforts widows, and their children fatherless.||Jesus Christ never dies: he was dead, but dies no more: “seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them,” Hebrews 7:25. He will never leave Zion a widow, nor her children orphans. “I will not leave you comfortless,” John 14:18.|
- We may infer from hence, how infinitely sinners are obliged and beholden unto God, in providing such a great and good match for them. Did ever any king manifest such kindness to vile and wicked traitors, as to send his own son to die for them, that they might be interested in all the blessings of his court and kingdom? God propounds Christ to us a Spouse and Bridegroom.
- Moreover, how infinitely are we obliged to Jesus Christ, for bearing such goodwill unto us, to pass by the fallen angels, and fix his eye upon poor fallen man; to come into the world, and to expose himself to all those base affronts, shame, sorrow, and death itself, that he might accomplish this glorious design of love and marriage union with us!
- It shows what great folly, and horrid ingratitude, those sinners are guilty of, that slight and contemn this offer. Which may lead you to consider:
- What is your state without Christ? If you have not Christ, what have you? No life, no light, no pardon, no peace, no God, no glory. You are without all true good, if you are without God and Christ.
- Is it not folly to prefer bondage to sin, and Satan before a marriage-state with Jesus Christ? Rather be the devils slave and vassal, than Jesus Christs dearest consort?
- Is it not great folly to refuse such an offer, that will make you happy for ever, if embraced, and when there is no other way of being happy? If this offer be rejected thou art undone, and must be damned.
- Is it not great folly to value the lusts of the flesh, and pleasures of this world, above Christ? To value the greatest evil above the chiefest good?
- It is great ingratitude. Hath Christ done all this, and wilt thou slight him at last? Shall he come to thy door, and wilt thou shut him out? Is there no room for him in the inn? Shall he lie in the stable? Shall Stan command the heart, and Christ only have the lip?
- Is it not great ingratitude to pour such contempt upon Christ? Do not they that refuse him, and slight the offers of his grace, derogate from him? Do not such vilify his person? Do you not say in your hearts, there is no beauty that we should desire him, Isaiah 53:2.
- Do you not pour contempt upon his undertaking, and undervalue his blood and suffering? We read of some that tread under foot the blood of the Son of God, and judge it to be a thing of no worth nor excellency, Hebrews 10:29; and what dost thou less, who dost not believe in him, embrace him, and apply his precious blood and grace for help and healing.
Exhort. If this be so, then labour, whatever thou art to accept of Christ. Dost thou think to do better? What object canst thou find, that more deserves thy affection?
- He is great, honourable, a King, the King of kings; all other kings are his subjects. He is King of heaven, earth and hell.
- Great in power: he has led captive the king of darkness, has spoiled the principalities of sin, that so long tyrannized over thousands, yea, millions of thousands; hath overcome death, the king of terrors, that none of the mighty could ever encounter with.
- He is the most amiable object in the world, his beauty far exceeds the beauty of the luminaries, much fairer than the children of men.
- He is rich, unsearchable in riches. What wouldst thou have, or canst thou desire, but it is in him?
- Wouldst thou know the ready way to be espoused unto him? Then,
- First of all, break off that affinity thou holdest with sin, and get thy heart off from the inordinate love of this world.
- Thou must become dead to the law, and thine own righteousness.
- Labour to see an absolute necessity of marrying with him.
- Get the judgment well enlightened in the mysteries of grace and glory, that come by Jesus Christ.
- Hearken to the motions of thy own conscience; for conscience is employed, when thoroughly awakened, and rightly informed, as a spokesman for Christ.
- Take heed of a divided heart; never rest till thy will is brought over to accept of Christ, and the offers of grace.
- Labour to choose Christ singly, a naked Christ. Christ is able every way to make thee happy, and fully answer all thy desires; take heed therefore of going after other lovers, give not his Headship and Sovereignty away.
- This shows what a happy state the godly are in. Can the soul be poor, that has such a friend and husband as Christ is? If David concluded he should not want, because the Lord was his Shepherd: be sure thou shalt not, because Christ is thy Husband: the Bridegroom takes more care, and is more tender of his bride, than any shepherd of his sheep or lambs, Psalms 23:1.
- This speaks great terror to the wicked, that oppress and misuse Gods people, and make a spoil of his church. What will they do, when the Bridegroom rises up to plead the cause of his darling? He will not spare his arrows, but tread them down in his fury.
Lastly, be prepared, you that are virgins, the Bridegroom is coming, the midnight-cry will soon be heard; get your lamps trimmed, and oil in your vessels.