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Psal. cxxvi. 5.
They are here river, for which
you have heard urged all this while; but look forward, and consider the issue of it. That which Christ speaks in particular to his disciples, is generally true of all Christians: Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned (or made) into joy. John xvi. 20. The water of those tears shall be turned into wine of consolation. The traffic of these rivers is gainful; they export grief, and import joy. When these tears are called seed, the harvest-crop is called joy. They that sow in tears, shall reap in joy. called rivers, and they are answered with a they shall in the end be perfectly exchanged. Psal. lxxxvi. 8. Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures. And Rev. vii. 17. The Lamb shall feed them, and lead them unto living fountains of waters. Here they run down the eyes, and water the cheeks, and there you read that God shall wipe them away from their eyes. Who would not be content to weep, to have God wipe away their tears with His own hand? Be ambitious, then, to be found amongst the mourners in Sion; and when ye remove from this valley of tears, God shall at once fully wipe away all the stain of sin from your souls, and all tears for it from your eyes. And as He shall wipe away the tears with the one hand, He will set the crown upon your heads with the other.
[Preached after the Administration of the Lord's Supper.]
BLESSED are They that dwell in Thy House, saith the Psalmist; and he adds this reason, They will be still praising Thee. There is indeed always in God's house, both fit oppor
tunity and plentiful matter of His praises. But the greater number of those that frequent His house, do not dwell in it; their delight and affection is not there. Therefore they cannot praise Him they come in as strangers, and have no skill in the songs of praise. Yea, and the very children of the family, who worship in spirit and in truth, find their instruments (their hearts) very often quite out of tune for praises, and sometimes most of all when praises are requisite. They find still such abundant cause of complaint in themselves, weighing down their spirits, that they can hardly at all wind them up to magnify that God whose mercy is far more abundant. If we would take a reflex view, and look back upon our carriage this day in the presence of our God, who is there among us, who would not find much work for sad thoughts? Would not one find that he had a hard and stony heart, another, a light, inconstant, wandering heart to complain of, a third, an unbelieving heart, and some, all of these? And they (if such there be) who have both deeply sorrowed, and been largely comforted, will possibly, for all that, upon former sad experience, be full of fears and jealousies, that this sweet temper will not be of long continuance; that before long, the world, or some lust, will find, or make a way to creep in, and banish those heavenly thoughts, and trouble that peace and joy which accompanies them. Yet, notwithstanding all these causes of grief or fear, our causes of praise are both more and greater. And it is no reason that the sense of our own evil should prejudge that acknowledgment of God's goodness; yea, rather it should
Cease not to bemoan
stir us up to extol it so much the more. the evils of your own hearts; but withal forget not to magnify the riches of His grace, who hath given Himself for you, and to you. These two will not hinder one another, but the due intermixture of them will make a very good harmony. And the fruit of them will be this, you shall have still more cause to praise, and less to complain. When the Lord shall find you humble acknowledgers of His grace, He will delight to bestow more grace upon you, and will subdue those iniquities
for you, which you cannot. cannot. And though He is pleased to do it but gradually, by little and little, yet, in the end, the conquest shall be full; and then, He who is the author and the finisher of your faith, though it is His own work, yet, because it is done in you, He shall account the victory yours, as obtained by you, and give you as conquerors, the crown of glory. To him that overcometh, saith he, will I give to sit with me in my throne. Rev. iii. 21.
There is nothing here, but from free grace. and strength to fight in this spiritual warfare, the victory by fighting, and the crown by victory, flow all from that fountain. In all these things, we are more than conquerors, saith the Apostle-but how ?-through Him that loved us. Therefore, if we desire to be such, let us humble ourselves before the throne of grace, entreating both for grace and glory in the name of Christ our Mediator.
CANT. i. 3.
Because of the savour of thy good ointments, thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.
THE natural workings and desires of things are agreeable to their being. The beasts, according to their sensitive life, seek those things that tend to the good and preservation of that life, and affect nothing higher than those, and they are satisfied. Man (except such men as are in the lowest stage, and border upon the beasts) finds nature., even corrupt nature, raising him to higher desires and designs. And yet, of the best of them, the Apostle's maxim holds true, They that are after the flesh, mind the things of the flesh; and yet, he subjoins the excellency of some men beyond the best naturalist, They that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. Rom. viii. 5. They cannot be confined to things natural, but are strongly moved towards spiritual blessings, and towards Christ the sum of them. And having once tasted of his sweetness, they can
say, Because of the savour of thy good ointments, thy name is as ointment poured forth.
They that are elevated to a supernatural being, can admit nothing into competition with His love; and this it is that lies under these words, Because of the savour of thy good ointments, &c.
Numbers have promiscuously been his guests at this time, and the greatest number think they came to good purpose. But know, that you are so far from partaking of Christ in the sacrament, that you have not so much as smelt his perfumes, if you be not strongly taken with his love. Great are the praises, and many the duties you owe Him for so rich favours; and therefore, shew your good will, and endeavour some payment. But know, that none of them are current, except they be stamped with love. If you love not, you do nothing: all labours and services without it, are as so many ciphers, your they amount to just nothing. And with it, the meanest of them will find acceptance.
You have briefly in the words, Christ's loveliness and the Christian's love, the former the cause of the latter; both couched under borrowed terms, according to the whole strain of this allegorical song, on which the true experimental knowledge of this Divine love is the best commentary.
In all love, three things are necessary: (1.) Some goodness in the object, either true and real, or apparent and seeming to be so; for the soul, be it never so evil, can affect nothing but what it takes some way to be good. (2.) There must be a knowledge of that goodness; for the most excellent things, if altogether unknown, affect not. (3.) There must be a suitableness or agreement of that good who should affect it; otherwise, indeed, how good soever it is, it is not good to them.
thing with the nature of those
. Now all these we have clearly in this love. I. The goodness, the excellency of Christ, expressed by precious ointments. II. The manifestation and making of it known, signified by III. His fitness and conthe pouring forth of His name.
gruity with them who are here mentioned under this denomination, virgins; such as have the senses of their souls not stopped with the pollutions of the world, but pure and active, and therefore, as the Apostle speaks, Heb. v. 14, exercised to discern good and evil. These three requisites thus happily met, must needs produce love: Therefore thevirgins love thee.
I. The excellency of the Object: Because of the savour of thy good ointments. How true is the Apostle's word, when he calls Christ the believer's All things! And that radical grace of faith, because it apprehends Christ, hath a kind of universality; and it is reasonable too, it alone being to the soul what all the five senses are to the body. It is the eye, and the mouth; a wonderful eye, it sees Him who is invisible, Heb. xi. 27; the mouth, it tastes that the Lord is gracious. 1 Pet. ii. 3. Yea, take these two both together in one place, Psal. xxxiv. 8, O! taste, and see that the Lord is good. It is the soul's ear; for what else is meant, when it is said, He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear? And was it not that touch which Christ took special notice of, and with good reason distinguished it from the common touch of the multitude that was crowding about him? That touch alone draws virtue from him? Some one hath touched me, for there is virtue gone out of me. And lastly, as it is all those other senses, and Christ is its object in reference to them all, so here, in its smelling, it finds the savour of his fragrant graces, and by that works love: Because of the savour of thy precious ointments.
What strange odds is there betwixt the opinion of Christ's Spouse, and that of the world who know him not! They wonder what she sees in him desirable: she wonders that they are not all ravished with his excellencies. They prefer the basest vanities in the world before him: she finds the choicest and richest things in the world too mean to resemble the smallest part of his worth. See in this Song, how busily and skilfully she goes to all the creatures, and crops the rarest pieces in nature and art to set forth her well-beloved, and
seems to find them all too poor for her purpose. One while,