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ministers, as Ahasuerus did concerning him that brought up Esther, his beloved queen; " Thus shall it be done to the man that the king delights to honor.”
And seeing Christ hath so honored us, that our relation to his people imitates his; surely our affection to them should resemble his, and we should imitate him in seeking their salvation, spiritual peace, and happiness, as Christ sought it. Our tender care, labors, self-denial, and readiness to suffer for their happiness, should imitate what hath appeared in him, that hath purchased them with his own blood.
3. Let it be considered, that if we faithfully acquit ourselves in our office, in the manner that hath been represented, we shall surely hereafter be partakers of the joy, when the bridegroom and bride shall rejoice in each other in perfect and eternal glory.
God once gave forth a particular command, with special solemnity, that it should be written for the notice of all professing Christians through all ages, that they are happy and blessed indeed, who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb: Rev. xix. 9, “ And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.” But if we are faithful in our work, we shall surely be the subjects of that blessedness; we shall be partakers of the joy of the bridegroom and bride, not merely as friends and neighbors that are invited to be occasional guests, but as members of the one and the other. We shall be partakers with the church, the blessed bride, in her joy in the bridegroom, not only as friends and ministers to the church, but as members of principal dignity; as the eye, the ear, the hand, are principal members of the body. Faithful ministers in the church will hereafter be a part of the church that shall receive distinguished glory at the resurrection of the just, which, above all other times, may be looked on as the church's wedding day : Dan. xii. 2, 3, “ Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life; and they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever.” They are elders that are represented as that part of the church triumphant that sit next to the throne of God: Rev. iv. 4, “And round about the throne were four and twenty seats; and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.”
And we shall also be partakers of the joy of the bridegroom in his rejoicing over his bride. We, as the special friends of the bridegroom, shall stand by the bridegroom, and hear him express his joy on that day, and rejoice greatly because of the bridegroom's voice; as John the Baptist said of himself, John ii. 29: “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom : but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bride groom's voice." Christ, in reward for our faithful service, in winning and espousing his bride to him, and bringing her up from her minority, and adorning her for him, will then call us to partake with him in the joy of his marriage. And she that will then be his joy, shall also be our crown of rejoicing. 1 Thess. ii. 19, “ What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming ?” What a joyful meeting had Christ and his disciples together, when the disciples returned to their Master, after the faithful and successful performance of their appointed service, when Christ sent them forth to preach the gospel: Luke x. 17, " And the seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.” Here we see how they rejoice: the next words show how Christ also rejoiced on that occasion : " And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as light
ning fall from heaven.” And in the next verse but two, we are told that,“ in that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of hear. en and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and bast revealed them unto babes.” So if we faithfully acquit ourselves, we shall another day return to him with joy; and we shall rejoice with him and he with us. Then will be the day when Christ, that has sown in tears and in blood, and we that have reaped the fruits of his labors and sufferings, shall rejoice together, agreeable to John iv. 35, 36, 37. And that will be a happy meeting indeed, when Christ and his lovely and blessed bride, and faithful ministers that have been the instruments of wooing and winning her heart to him, and adorning ker for him, and presenting her to him, shall all rejoice together.
4. Further to stir us up to faithfulness in the great business that is appointed us, in order to the mutual joy of this bridegroom and bride, let us consider what reason we have to hope that the time is approaching when this joy shall be to a glorious degree fulfilled on earth, far beyond whatever yet has been; I mean the time of the church's latter day glory. This is what the words of our text have a more direct respect to; and this is what is prophesied of in Hos. ïi. 19. 20 : “And I will betroth thee unto me forever, yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness, and thou shalt know the Lord.” And this is what is especially intended by the marriage of the Lamb, in Rev. xix.
We are sure this day will come: and we have many reasons to think that it is approaching ; from the fulfilment of almost every thing that the prophecies speak of as preceding it, and their having been fulilled now of a long time; and from the general
earnest expectations of the church of God, and the best of her ministers and members, and the late extraordinary things that have appeared in the church of God, and appertaining to the state of religion, and the sent aspects of Divine Providence, which the time will not allow me largely to
As the happiness of that day will have a great resemblance of the glory and joy of the eternal wedding day of the church after the resurrection of the just; so will the privileges that
faithful ministers shall be the subjects of at that time, much resemble the blessed privileges that they shall enjoy, as partaking with the bridegroom and bride, in their honor and happiness, in eternal glory. This is the time especially intended in the text, wherein it is said, " as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee.” And it is after in the prophecies spoken of as a great part of the glory of that time, that then the church should be so well supplied with faithful ministers. So in the next verse to the text, “ I have set watchmen on thy walls, O Jerusalem, that shall never hold their peace, day nor night.” So, in Isai. xxx. 20, 21, “Thy teachers shall not be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers; and thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” Jer. ii. 15, " And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you
. with knowledge and understanding.” And chap. xxiii. 4, " And I will set up shepherds over them, which shall feed thens." And the great privilege and jo of faithful ministers at that day is foretold in Isai. lii. 9: Thy watchmen sha! lift up the voice, with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion."
And as that day must needs be approaching, and we ourselves bave lately seen some things that we have reason to hope are forerunners of it; certainly s should strongly excite us to endeavor to be such pastors as God has promised to
bless his church with at that time; that if any of us should live to see the dawning of that glorious day, wt night share in the blessedness of it, and then be called, as the friends of the bridegroom, to the marriage supper of the Lamb, and partake of that joy in which heaven and earth, angels and saints, and Christ and his church, shall be united at that time.
But here I would apply the exhortation in a few words to that minister of Christ, who above all others is concerned in the solemnity of this day, who is now to be united to, and set over this people as their pastor.
You have now heard, Reverend Sir, the great importance, and high ends of the office of an evangelical pastor, and the glorious privileges of such as are faithful in this office, inperfectly represented. May God grant that your union with this people, this day, as their pastor, may be such, that God's people here may bave the great proinise God makes to his church in the text, now fulfilled unto them. May you now, as one of the precious sons of Zion, take this part of Christ's church by the hand, in the name of your great Master, the glorious bridegroom, with a heart devoted unto him with true adoration and supreme affection, and for his sake knit to this people, in a spiritual and pure love, and as it were a conjugal tenderness; ardently desiring that great happiness for them,
have now heard Christ has chosen his church unto, and has shed his blood to obtain for her; being yourself ready to spend and be spent for them; remembering the great errand on which Christ sends you to them, viz., to woo and win their hearts, and espouse their souls to him, and to bring up his elect spouse, and to fit and adorn her for his embraces; that you may in due time present her a chaste virgin to him, for him to rejoice over, as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride. How honorable is this business that Christ einploys you in! And how joyfully should you perform it! When Abraham's faithful servant was sent to take a wife for his master's son, how engaged was he in the business; and how joyful was he when he succeeded! With what joy did he bow his head and worship, and bless the Lord God of his master, for his mercy and his truth in making his way prosperous! And what a joyful meeting may we conclude he had with Isaac, when he met him in the field, by the well of Lahai-roi, and there presented his beauteous Rebekah to him, and told him all things that he had done! But this was but a shadow of that joy that you shall have, if you initate his fidelity, in the day when you shall meet your glorious Master, and present Christ's church in this place, as a chaste and beautiful virgin unto him.
We trust, dear sir, that you will esteein it a most blessed employment, to spend your time and skill in adorning Christ's bride for her marriage with the Lamb, and that it is work that you will do with delight; and that you will take heed that the ornaments you put upon her are of the right sort, what shall be indeed beautiful and precious in the eyes of the bridegroom, that she may be all glorious within, and her clothing of wrought gold; that on the weddirg day, she may stand on the King's right hand in gold of Ophir.
The joyful day is coming, when the spouse of Christ shall be led in unto the King with raiment of needle-work; and angels and faithful ministers will be the servants that shall lead her in. And you, sir, if you are faithful in the charge that is now to be committed to you, shall be joined with glorious angels in that honorable and joyful service; but with this difference, that you shall have the higher privilege. Angels and faithful ministers shall be together in bringing in Christ's bride into his palace, and presenting her to him: but faithful ministers shall have a much higher participation of the joy of that occasion : they shall have a greater and more immediate participation with the bride in
her joy; for they shall not only be ministers to the church as the angels are, but parts of the church, principal members of the bride. And as such, at the same time that angels do the part of ministering spirits to the bride, when they conduct her to the bridegroom, they shall also do the part of ministering spirits to faithful ministers. And they shall also have a higher participation with the bridegroom than the angels, in his rejoicing at that time; for they shall be nearer to him than they; for they are also his members, and are those that are honored as the principal instruments of espousing the saints to him, and fitting them for the enjoyment of him; and therefore they will be more the crown of rejoicing of faithiul ministers, than of the angels of heaven.
So great, dear sir, is the honor and joy that is set before you, to engage you to faithfulness in your pastoral care of this people; so glorious the prize that Christ has set up to engage you to run the race that is set before you.
I would now conclude with a few words to the people of this congregation, whose souls are now to be committed to the care of that minister of Christ, whom they have chosen as their pastor.
Let me take occasion, dear brethren, from what has been said, to exhort you, not forgetting the respect, honor, and reverence, that will ever be due from you to your former pastor, that has served you so long in that work, but by reason of age and growing infirmities, and the prospect of his place being so happily supplied by a successor, has seen meet to relinquish the burden of the pastoral charge over you: I say, let me exhort you (not forgetting due respect to him as a father) to perform the duties that belong to you, in your part of that relation and union, now to be established between you and
elect pastor: to receive him as the messenger of the Lord of Hosts, one that in his office represents the glorious bridegroom of the church, to love and honor him, and willingly submit yourselves to him, as a virgin when married to a husband. Surely the feet of that messenger should be beautiful, that comes to you on such a blessed errand as that which you have heard, to espouse you to the eternal Son of God, and to fit you for, and lead you to him as your bridegroom. Your chosen pastor comes to you on this errand, and he comes in the name of the bridegroom, so empowered by him, and representing him, that in receiving him, you will receive Christ, and in rejecting him, you will reject Christ.
Be exhorted to treat your pastor as the beautiful and virtuous Rebekah treated Abraham's servant: she most charitably and hospitably entertained him, provided lodging and food for him and his company, and took care that be should be comfortably entertained and supplied in all respects, while he continued in his embassy; and that was the note or mark of distinction which God himself gave him, by which he should know the true spouse of Isaac from all others of the daughters of the city. Therefore in this respect approve yourselves as the true spouse of Christ, by giving kind entertainment to your minister that comes to esponse you to the antitype of Isaac. Provide for his outward subsistence and comfort, with the like cheerfulness that Rebekah did for Abrahain's servant. You have an account of her alacrity and liberality in supplying him, in Gen. xxiv. 18, 19, 20, and 25. Say as her brother did, verse 31,“ Come in, thou blessed of the Lord.”
Thus you should entertain your pastor. But this is not that wherein your duty towards him chiefly lies: the main thing is to comply with him in bis great errand, and to yield to the suit that he makes to you in the name of Christ
, to go to be his bride. In this you should be like Rebekah : she was, from what she heard of Isaac, and God's covenant with him, and blessing upon him, from the mouth of Abraham's servant. willing forever to forsake her own country,
and her father's house, to go into a country she had never seen, to be Isaac's wife, whom also she never saw. After she had heard what the servant had to say, and her old friends had a mind she should put off the affair for the present, but it was insisted on that she should go immediately, and she was inquired of, “ whether she would go with this man,” she said, “I will go.” And she left her kindred, and followed the man through all that long journey, till he had brought her unto Isaac, and they three had that joyful meeting in Canaan. If you will this day receive your pastor in that union that is now to be established between him and you, it will be a joyful day in this place, and the joy will be like the joy of espousals, as when a young man marries a virgin ; and it will not only be a joyful day in East Hampton, but it will doubtless be a joyful day in heaven, on your account. And your joy will be a faint resemblance, and a forerunner of that future joy, when Christ shall rejoice over you as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, in heavenly glory.
And if your pastor be faithful in his office, and you hearken and yield to him in that great errand on which Christ sends him to you, the time will come, wherein you
and your pastor will be each other's crown of rejoicing, and wherein Christ, and he, and you, shall all meet together at the glorious marriage of the Lamb, and shall rejoice in and over one another, with perfect, uninterrupted, never ending and never fading joy.