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to Christ already be humble; and the worst of sinners, who are willing now to take him, be encouraged to come forward unto the marriage.
Seventhly, Are there any amongst us, who are difficulted in these weighty points of greatest concernment, to wit, How they shall safely die, and go into another world ; how they shall stand before the great tribunal? Hearken ye to this offer, Jesus Christ, the Lord of the other world, who sits upon the tribunal, is willing to betroth you unto himself for ever. O blessed device for eternity! Can there be such a proper expedient for the business of another world, as to be espoused unto the Lord of that world? Can there be such a proper expedient for a comfortable standing before the tribunal, as to be joined now, in a marriage covenant, to the Judge that sits upon that tribunal ?
Lastly, Are there here any of the children of apostate Adam, who have fallen off from God, fallen out of his favour, and are under his. wrath ? the gate of heaven is shut upon you; the pit has enlarged her mouth for you; the earth groaneth under you; and ye are in danger of perishing for ever: Come ye into this covenant, accept of Jesus Christ for your Head and Husband ; so shall ye be re-instated into the favour of God, and made happy for ever and ever. « For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
This offer is made unto you all without exception. Christ is willing to be yours, Rev. xxii. 17, “ Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." The Bridegroom is stretching out his hand, in order to join hands with you in the marriage covenant; and will not yo stretch out your hand unto God ? Psalm lxviii. 31. What will ye do? will ye not give your consent to the Son of God, to be espoused unto him for ever? Before ye adventure to refuse, there are three things I would beg of you as rational creatures.
1. Before ye refuse to be espoused to Christ, consider how ye will dispose of yourselves to greater advantage. Will a full swing in your lusts be to your greater advantage? Will your betaking yourselves into the devil's fields to feed his swine, (to feed insatiable lusts), be to your greater advantage, than to partake of Christ and the benefits of his covenant ? If ye reckon so, ye will at length find, to your eternal loss, ye have reckoned amiss.
2. Before ye refuse it, consider how ye will do without it. Possibly you may make some silly shift to live at ease in the world, without being espoused to Christ : but I pray you consider, how will ye die without it? how will ye stand before the tribunal of God without it?
Lastly, Before ye refuse this offer of the espousals, make it sure,
(in case of repenting of the refusal afterwards), that ye shall have
Let none raise objections against themselves, to hold them off from embracing the covenant. There is as much in the very proposal of it, as may take off all your objectious, on whatsoever ground ye state them; “I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovirg-kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness, and thou shalt know the Lord.”
But necessity has no law. In vain .do we stand to dispute whether or not we shall take that way, which we must needs take, or inevitably perish. Ye must be espoused to Christ, or God will be your enemy through the ages of eternity: there is no other way for sinners to be re-instated in the favour of God. Ye must either be espoused to Christ for ever, or ye must be damned for ever. The case is already judged, Mark xvi. 16, “ He that believeth not, shall be damned.” If ye reject the marriage covenant, ye must die in your sins; for so doing, ye reject the remedy of sin. But why will ye judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, and reject the counsel of God against yourselves ? Will ye fly in the face of the grand device of the wisdom of God for the salvation of sinners, and wilfully die of your disease, when the Physician is come to your bed-side? There is no salvation out of this covenant, strangers to it have no hope, Eph. ii. 12. Wherefore, yo must either join yourselves to the Lord in the covenant of peace, or he will have war with you for ever.
This covenant is drawn with blood, the precious blood of the royal Bridegroom: it is the new testament in his blood. Behold how he loved his bride, in whom there was nothing lovely! 0 trample not upon “the blood of the everlasting covenant !"
Now, let your hearts give an answer, before the Lord, unto these few questions.
First, Are ye pleased with the Bridegroom? His Father is pleased with him, all the holy angels and saints are pleased with him ; and are not ye pleased with him? I assure you, he is so far pleased with you, even the worst of you, as to take you for his spouse ; I will betroth thee unto me for ever.” Are you pleased to take him for your Husband ?
Secondly, Are ye willing to renounce all your former lovers, and to part with all your lusts for ever? Assure yourselves, if ye take him ye must let these go away. God's covenant is a holy covenant; and ye will bring a curse upon yourself, instead of a blessing, if ye come to seek a shelter to any one lust under it.
Thirdly, Are ye content to take Christ for all, and instead of all ? will ye receive him in all his offices ? will ye receive him as your Prophet, to teach you, renouncing your own wisdom? as your Priest, to save you by his death and sufferings, renouncing your own righteousness ? as your King, to reign and rule over you, renouncing all your idols ? Art thou coutent to give up thine own will to him, and that “thy desire shall be to thy husband,” to grant it, or withhold it, as he seeth meet; so that thou shalt be no more master of thyself, or at thine own disposal, but wholly at his disposal ?
Lastly, Will ye take him for ever, from this moment, for prosperity and adversity, for life and death, for time and eternity?
If it be so with you indeed, then ye are espoused to the Lord Jesus Christ for ever; and welcome to the feast of the espousals at his table : but, if not, ye will get a long eternity to repent this refusal, unless you change your mind, and repent of it in time.
MYSTERY OF CHRIST
THE FORM OF A SER VANT.
A Sermou preached at the administration of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper,
PHILIP. ii. 7. And took upon him the form of a servant. Our holy religion, which hath its denomination from Jesus Christ, is a religion of mysteries ; mysteries of faith, and mysteries of practice, neither of which can one be let into, in a saving manner, withont supernatural grace. The mysteries of faith, mysteries to be believed, do, all of them, lead unto practice : yea, even these of them which are most sublime, the more they are truly believed, the more do they influence men to holiness of heart and life. Wherefore the apostle, in the context, to press the Philippians unto the practice of moral duties, particularly to love their neighbour as themselves, to lay out themselves to be beneficial to mankind, and for that end to deny themselves, and condescend to others for their good ; lays before them, to be believed, that constellation of mysteries appearing in the incarnation of the Son of God : a motive to good works, unknown to the Jewish Rabbies, and Greek moralists; but sealed in the experience of believers, as the most powerful incentive to uni. versal holiness.
In this verse, whereof the text is a part, are three of these mysteries. The first, which is the leading one, is, that “ Christ Jesus being in the form of God, not thinking it robbery to be equal with God, yet made himself of no reputation,” viz. for us. To be in the form of God, is to be very God, having the very nature and essence of God; the form being that which essentially distinguisheth things, and makes a thing to be precisely that which it is. And forasmuch as this form is, according to the apostle, the foundation of his equality with God bis Father; it can denote no less than his being very God: for no excellency whatsoever, really different from the divine essence, can found an equality with God; but still there would remain as great a disproportion as betwixt finite and infinite. Here then is a wonderful mystery : Christ being very God, the supreme, the Most High God, equal with the Father, emptied himself of his divine glory, laying it aside, namely, in point of manifestation, casting a veil, a thick veil, over it, for a time. The second mystery is, “ He took upon him the form of a servant.” Thus it was that he emptied himself. This form, to wit, of a servant, was the veil he drew over his divine glory : for so the original words run, “But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant.” The third mystery is, “ He was made in the likeness of men.” In regard of the sinfulness cleaving to men's nature, which he was absolutely free of, he is said to have been made, not in a sameness with, but in the likeness of, men; truly man in substance and nature, but without sin, however like to sinful flesh he appeared, Rom. viii. 3, “God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.” This was it that was prerequisite unto, and qualified him for, taking upon him the form of a servant: for so stand the words in the original, “ Taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men.”
It is the second of these mysteries, “And took upon him the form of a servant,” which I am to insist upon. And two things here are to be opened ; namely, “What the form of a servant is.” And, " What Christ's taking it upon him bears." I begin with the latter of these.
Whatever is more particularly meant by the form of a servant, it is plain, that in the general it must denote a mean and low condition. And our Lord's taking it upon him, imports two things; 1. That he voluntarily and of his own free choice submitted to it, for the sake of poor sinners. He was not originally in the form of a servant, as some men bave been, who were born in a state of servitude; nay, he was from eternity the Son of God, his Father's equal: but he, being Lord of heaven and earth, came, of his own accord, under the form of a servant. It was not laid upon him against his will; but he freely took it on himself, and became bound, when he might have continued free. 2. It imports, that what he was before, namely, very God, equal with the Father, he still continued to be, notwithstanding of his submitting to the form of a servant. He took upon him the form of a servant; that is, continuing in the form of God, he took upon him the form of a servant.
By the form of a servant, is not understood the likeness of a guilty man. That exposition weakens the force of the apostle's argument, and the force of that important term, the form of God; though indeed the thing itself is truth, and is taught in the last clause of the Vol. VII.