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Now faith in the mind may stay it, and keep a person in firm hope and expectation, and it may abide there for some time, and yet things are not clear, nor sound, nor is the soul fully satisfied, settled, and firm; far from it. But when faith reaches the heart or conscience, by applying the atonement there, which Paul calls having the heart sprinkled from an evil conscience, Heb. x. 22; this makes clear work, even at the very bottom. Here is pardoning grace in the heart, removing evil from the conscience. And sure I am that it is a good thing to have the heart established with
“Bind them continually upon thine heart."
Faith is a law, and laws are binding; but faith must lay hold of love, for that is the bond that binds. Faith is a uniting power; you read of the unity of the faith. When the grace of faith takes root in the heart, and works by love there, and pleasingly assures the soul of its interest in Christ, it sweetly constrains to obedience, and powerfully engages the whole soul with God. There is such a thing as a growth in faith; and a growing exceedingly in it; which is done by observing the actings and exercises of faith; by using of it, and stirring it up in constant and continual approaches to God, especially in times of trouble; in observing its workings, its successes, and the returns that are granted to the prayer
of faith; in observing the liveliness of it at some times, and its deadness at others; its strongest ef
forts, and its apparent declensions. It grows by cherishing it and nourishing it, by reading, hearing, conversing, and meditating; by praying for an increase of it, and that it may not fail; and in watching and guarding against those besetting sins which weaken and discourage faith. David's faith, with a good conscience, faced the Goliath of Gath, but, with a bad one, fled from Absalom his
To bind faith on the heart is to encourage its powerful constraints; for it bows, bends, influences, and draws the heart to cleave to Christ; it brings in fresh power from Christ, and we are kept by that mighty power through faith, and made to stand fast in him by faith. To bind the word of promise to the heart is to receive the love of the truth, and truth in the love of it, which is called binding up the testimony. Love is a strong cord; a thing loved is held fast, and cannot be forced away from love as long as love lasts. And what we love is uppermost in our thoughts, always present, much meditated
on, and greatly delighted in. And the Holy Spirit leading the mind into the word, and giving us an unctuous experience of the truth, truth becomes familiar to us, and very cheering and entertaining; and it makes the mind spiritual; and life and peace attend a spiritual mind. Satan is sadly foiled at a spiritual mind; he cannot get our attention. The corruptions of the heart are much put off, and their inclinations and requests much weakened, where truth is held fast in love, and meditated on, and delighted in, which sweetly entertains the soul with knowledge and understanding. “Bind them continually upon thy heart.”
“And tie them about thy neck.” The believing soul that embraces the gospel, the promises and blessings of the covenant, is espoused as a chaste virgin to Christ. And it is well known that the neck is a beautiful part of the body, and especially if fair. You read of her fair neck, Hosea x. 11; and in the Song, “ Thy neck is as a tower of ivory,” and ivory is very white. Moreover, the neck, especially of a bride, is commonly adorned with beads, gold chains, pearls, necklaces, and sometimes with a necklace of diamonds. The doctrines, promises, and blessings, of the gospel, which are all promised to faith, together with the graces of the Holy Spirit, are our ornaments and adornings; hence you read, Thy neck is comely with chains of gold, Song i. 10.
6. Thou hast ravished my heart with one chain of thy neck.”
Some, like the Galatians, think that they are not ornamented with the gospel without going over to the law; they begin in the Spirit, but must be made perfect by the flesh; whereas the chain of harmonious truths, and the golden links of divine graces, are the only things which adorn the Lord's spouse; and with these his heart is ravished and charmed.
Again: bondage, slavery, and captivity, are called the bands of the neck; and so they are to
those that are under them. “ Loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion,” Isaiah lii. 2. Now these bands were a disgrace; she was bound with these for her idolatry. But to yield the obedience of faith is to take the yoke of her Lord upon her, who is meek and lowly, and to be obedient to her heavenly husband. Again: rebellion is called a stiff neck: “ Speak not with a stiff neck.” Disobedience is what Christ complains of, and says to such, Thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass.” Now, humble submission and cheerful obedience is the reverse of all this. “ Now, be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the Lord, and enter into his sanctuary,” 2 Chron. xxx. 8.
But again: the neck is that part which joins or unites the head to the body. Christ is the head of the church, and the church is the body of Christ. Hence some are sharply rebuked for not holding this head, from which all the body by joints and bands, having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increased with the increase of God, Col. ii. 19. The neck, therefore, is the emblem of union between Christ the head and his church. Hence a good woman is often represented without a head, having no head of her own. The head of the woman is the man; and as a good woman submits to her husband, who is the head of her, and gives up her own will to his, so an obedient believer does the will of his father. Solomon's advice to his son is, to aim at union with the covenant Head;
“ Keep thy father's commandment,” says he. God has in these last days spoken to us by his Son. He has commanded his Son to speak the word of life to us; and this word keeps Christ and his people together. “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."
“Forsake not the law of thy mother.” Faith gives Christ possession of our heart; he dwells in the heart by faith; and by faith we dwell in him. But, as love is the bond of all perfectness, and as real faith works by love, and love being called a cord, Solomon would not that love should be lacking in our faith. “We have,” says John,“ known and believed the love that God hath to us;" and
“I am persuaded that neither life nor death shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In the word of life God promises to love us freely, and that this his love shall draw us to Christ. Faith receives the promise, and believes in the love of God, and works by it. Tie these about thy neck. These, like a neck, will hold thee and Christ together. And, by virtue of this union, Christ will adorn thee with all grace and truth, which, like the chains of a bride's neck, will charm the bridegroom, and be the ornaments of thy profession. “My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.”
“When thou goest, it shall lead thee,” All