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BOWELS OPENED, OR, A DISCOVERY OF THE Neere and deere Love, Vnion and Communion betwixt Christ and the Church, and consequently betwixt Him and every beleeving soule.

Delivered in divers Sermons on the Fourth Fifth and Sixt Chapters of the CANTICLES.

By that Reverend and Faithfull Minister of the Word, DOCTOR SIBS, late Preacher unto the Honourable Societie of Grayes Inne, and Master of Katharine Hall in Cambridge.

Being in part finished by his owne pen in his life time, and the rest of them perused and corrected by those whom he intrusted with the publishing of his works.

CANT. 4. 10.

Thou hast ravished my heart, my Sister, my Spouse: thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, and with one chaine of thy necke.

LONDON. Printed by G. M. for George Edwards in the Old Baily in Greene-Arbour at the signe of the Angell, MDCXXXIX.

HONORATISSIMO DOMINO, DOMINO EDVARDO VICE-COMITI MANDEVILLE QVEM, VT VERAE NOBILITATIS DELICIAS CANDORIS NI­VEM, IN RES CHRISTI, ET ALIORVM COMMODA EFFVSISSIMVM SUSPICIMUS, COLIMUS; VNAQVE CONCIONES HAS IN CANTICA POSTHVMAS IN AMORIS GRATIAM QVO AVTHOREM IPSE COMPLEXUS EST NOSTRAE­QVE IN DNEM ILLIVS MERITISSIMAE OBSERVANTI [...]E TESTIMONIVM

D. D.

THOMAS GOODWIN. PHILIPPVS NYE.
[...]

both to the understanding of that dark and mo [...]t divine Scrip ure, and also to kindle in the heart all heavenly affections unto Iesus Christ.

It is well knowne how backward I am, and ever have been to cumber the Pr [...]sse, but yet [...] would not be guilty in depriving the deare children of God of the spirituall and sweet consolations, which are heere very plentifully offered unto them.

An the whole frame of all these Ser­mons, is carried with such Wisdome, Gra­vity, Piety, Iudgment and Experience, that it commends it self unto all that are godly wise: and I doubt not but that they shall finde their temptations answered, their fainting spirits revived, their understan­dings inlightned, and their graces confir­med, so as they shall have cause to praise God for the worthy Authors godly and painfull labours. And thus desiring the Fa­ther of all mercies, and the God of all com­fort, to blesse this work to the consolation & edification of those that seek his favour and desire to feare his holy Nam [...], [...]rest

Thine in Iesus Christ I. Dod.

A Table of the chiefe heads and Contents of the follow­ing Sermons in this Booke.

  • THE Introduction, pag. 1.
  • There is the same regard of the whole Church and of e­very particular member, in regard of the chiefest privi­ledges and graces that accom­pany Salvation, pag. 5.
  • All creatures stand in obedience to Christ, pag. 7.
  • The courses that Christ takes with his Church may seeme contrary, but by a wise ordering all agree in the wholesome issue, pag. 8.
  • In what respects the Spirit of God is compared to wind, pa. 9.
  • In what respects we need the blowing of the Spi­rit, pag. 12.
  • In what respects the Church is compared to a Gar­den, pag. 13.
  • Christians should walke as men of a fevered [Page] condition from the world, pag. 16.
  • Christians planted in Gods Garden should bee fruitfull, pag. 17.
  • God cares for and protecteth his Church, pag. 13.
  • We need not onely grace to put life into us at the first, but likewise grace to quicken and draw foorth that life we have, pag. 19.
  • It is not enough to be good our selves but our good­nesse must flow out, pag. 20,
  • Where once God begins he goes on, and adds in­c [...]uragement to incouragement, to mantaine new set­ters up in Religion, pa. 21.
  • Wheresoever grace is truely begun there is still a further desire of Christs presence, pag. 22.
  • Why the Church is so earnest in desiring the pre­sence of Christ, pag. 22.
  • A gratious heart is privy to its owne grace when it is in a right temper: and so farre as it is privy, is bold with Christ in a sweet and reverend manner, p. 24.
  • It is the duty and disposition of the Church of Christ to please her husband, p. 25.
  • The Church gives all to Christ, pag. 26.
  • Comfort in the wants and blemishes of our perfor­mances, pag. [...]7.
  • The resolution of the whole fift Chapter of Can­ticles, pag. 28.
  • The order of Gods hearing his Church, pag. 31.
  • God makes us good, stirrs up holy desires in us, and then answers the desires of his Spirit in us, pag. 31.
  • Why G [...]d heares our Prayers, pa. 32.
  • [Page]Cases wherein one is unfit to pray, pag. 35.
  • How to know when God heares our Prayers, pag. 37.
  • Christ vouchsafes his gratious presence to his children upon their desire of it, pag. 38.
  • The Church is carried from desire to desire after the presence of Christ, pag. [...]9.
  • How to know that Christ is present in us, page 40.
  • Where Christ is present, there Heaven is in some degree, pag. 41.
  • Having Christs presence we need feare nothing, p. 42.
  • Christ is our Brother, pag. 44.
  • The Churches royall descent, pag. 46.
  • The Church is the Spouse of Christ. pag. 47.
  • Resemblances betwixt the temporall and spiritual marriage, pag. 48.
  • The comfort of Christ being our husband, page 50.
  • Christians being the Spouse of Christ should la­bour for chaste judgements and affections, pag. 51.
  • Our affections are as their objects, pag 51.
  • How to know whether we be espoused to Christ or not, pag. 52.
  • Incouragement and direction to those who are not yet in Christ, pag. 53.
  • God accepts of the graces of his children and de­lights in them, pag. 55.
  • Incouragement to be much in holy duties, pag, 57.
  • Our care must be to preserve our selves in a good estate free from the guilt of any sinne, pag. 58.
  • [Page]Christ when he comes to a soule comes not empty, pag. 59.
  • Exhortation to have communion with Christ, pa. 60.
  • We ought to rejoyce in the comforts and graces of others, and of our selves, pag. 61.
  • There is a mutuall feas [...]ing betwixt Christ and his Church, pag. 67.
  • Resemblances betwixt corporall feasts and the feast Christ maketh us of himselfe, pag. 68.
  • What we should bring with us to the feast Christ makes us, pag. 73.
  • The meanes to procure an appetite to Christ, p. 74.
  • All kinds and degrees of friendship meet in Christ towards his Church, pag. 79.
  • All the requisits to make up true friendship are found in Christ, pag. 79.
  • Friendship of Christ is sweet and constant, p. 81.
  • The state of the Church and every Christian is subject to spirituall alterations, pag. 82.
  • Where corruption is not thorowly purged and a carefull watch kept over the soule, there after a reco­very wil follow a more dangerous distemper, pa. 83.
  • It is the disposition of Gods chil [...]ren to be ingeni­ous in opening their state to God, pag. 84.
  • A gratious soule is abased for lesser d [...]fects, p. 86.
  • What meant by the sleepe of the Church, pag. 88.
  • The resemblances betweene bodily and spirituall sleep in their causes, effects, and dang [...]rs, pag. 88.
  • Security and sleepinesse of the Church in Con­stantines time, pag. 93.
  • [Page] [...] [...]udgements of best men cannot alwaies bee sa [...]ely r [...]l [...]ed on, pag. 94.
  • [...] of the Church in these latter ages, p. 95.
  • [...] of a sleepy estate, pag 96.
  • Motives against sleepines, pag. 99.
  • A Christian may know how it is with himselfe, though he be mixed with flesh and Spirit, pag. 106.
  • We should as well acknowledge that which is good, as that which is evill in our hearts, pag. 10 [...].
  • The good that the Church retained in her sleepy condition, pag. 108.
  • Gods children never totally fall from grace, p. 111.
  • A Christian is what his heart and inward man is, pag. 14.
  • Difference betweene a Christian and an Hypo­crite, pag 115.
  • A waking state is a blessed state, pag 116.
  • Meanes how to preserve our soules in a waking condition in drowsy times, pag. 116.
  • Christians must especially be watchfull in the use of liberty and such things [...] in themselves are law­full, pag. 124.
  • The excellency of a wak [...]ng Christian, pag. 125.
  • True Christians are discerned by a spirituall taste in hearing Gods Word, pag. 130.
  • Papists objection, How shall we know that the Word is the Word of God, answered, pag. 132.
  • Why so many Apostatize, pag. 133.
  • A Christian is sensible of all blessed helps he hath to salvation, pag. 134.
  • The difference betweene the sleepe of a Christian and dead sleepe of naturall men, pag. 134.
  • [Page]Christ still desires a further and further commu­nion with his Church, pag. 1 [...]6.
  • The cause of Christs strangenesse to us is in our selves, pag. 137.
  • Christ takes not advantage from the sinnes of the Church to leave them altogether, but makes further and further love to them, pag. 138.
  • How Christ is said to kn [...]cke at our hearts, p 140.
  • Why Christ knocks when he hath power to open to himselfe, pag. 147.
  • The heart of a Christian is the house and Temple of God, pag. 149.
  • How Christ can come into the soule, pag. 150.
  • How we may know whether Christ dwells in our hearts, pag. 151.
  • We are to cherish all the good conceits we can of Christ, pag. 152.
  • The woefull estate of those who entertaine not Christ knocking at the doore of their hearts, page 153.
  • That Christ hath used all kinds of knockings to this nation, pag. 155.
  • Considerations enforcing us to entertaine Christ, pag. 157.
  • That Christs knocking is especially by the Mini­stery of the Word, pag. 160.
  • There are none in the Church but have been allured at some time or other to come in, pag. 162.
  • Incouragement to pray for the Church, pag. 164.
  • Christ hath never enough of his Church till hee hath it in Heaven, pag. 165.
  • [Page]The sufferings of Christ in himselfe and Mini­sters, pag. 167.
  • Christs patience to us should make us patient under Gods corrections, and in our dealing with o­thers, p. 169.
  • The Church of God is Christs Sister and Spouse, pag. 1 [...]0.
  • The grounds of Christs speciall love to his Church and children, p [...]g 172.
  • No saving love out of the Church, pag. 174.
  • Properties of Christs love to his Church, pag. 175.
  • Whether Christ cannot see matter of weaknes and sinnefulnesse in his Church, pag. 175.
  • How to know Christ loves us in a peculiar man­ner, p [...]g. 178
  • Reproofe of those who love not Gods children, p. 180.
  • Why Christ calls his Church his love, pag. 183.
  • An argument to prove the stability of the Saints and the soules immortality, pag. 186.
  • How trasc [...]ndent majesty and infinite love dwelt together in Christ, p [...]g. 186.
  • Why the Holy Ghost appeared in the shape of a Dove at Christs Baptisme, pag. 188.
  • Church why compared to a Dove, pag. 189.
  • Properties of a Dove resembled to the Church, p. 189
  • What defence Gods Church hath when it is persecu­ted, p. 194.
  • That Gods Church hath alwayes a refuge in God in the worst times, pag. 195.
  • How the Church is said to be undefiled, pag. 196.
  • How Christs righteousnes not being in the Church may yet be said to be the Churches, pag. 197.
  • [Page]How we being sinners may yet be said to be unde­filed, pag. 198.
  • Christs love to us should make us love him again, pag. 20 [...]
  • Direction how affl [...]cted in conscience are to judge of themselves, pag. 204.
  • Christians are not to wrong themselves with false judging of their estates, pag. 206.
  • It is not an easie thing to bring the soule and Christ together into [...]eare fellowship, pag. 209.
  • False reasons, excuses, and pretences hinder com­munion with Christ, pag. [...]10.
  • Excuses of the flesh to hinder our communion with Christ, answered, pag. 211.
  • Excuses of worldlings to hinder their communion with Christ, answered, pag. 213.
  • Causes of the false pretences and excuses which hinder many from holy duties, pag. 216.
  • Helps to keep us from putting off and delaying holy duties by false reasons and excuses, p. 222.
  • That Christ doth use sometimes to leave his Church and children, p. 245.
  • Ends why Christ leaves his children, p. 246.
  • Christians wanting comfort are not to be censured p. 2 [...]0.
  • We are to prepare for desertion, p. 251.
  • The cause of Christs with drawing comfort from us rests in our selves, p. 251.
  • Christ never altogether leaves the Church, page 254.
  • Christs grace is the cause of our grace, page 255.
  • [Page]We finde experience of the grace of Christ especi­ally when we stirre up our selves to endeavour, p. 256.
  • Gods graces are sweet, p. 257.
  • Outward meanes without the Spirit of Christ are ineffectuall, p. 259.
  • Christ alwayes leaves some grace before he offers to depart, p. 260.
  • Sinnes of omission bring griefe and shame, p. 264.
  • Christ hath our affections in his government, pa. 266.
  • Christ is wonderfull in his Saints and in his good­nesse towards them, p. 268.
  • Truth of affection will discover it selfe in out­ward expressions, p. 271.
  • The Word of Christ though for the present it bee not effectuall, yet afterwards it will be, page 273.
  • Christ so leaves his children sometimes that their hearts faile them for want of his presence, page 274
  • Causes of the fainting of Christian soules, page 275.
  • The difference betweene the true child of God and others, p. 277.
  • Christ is many times present with the Church when she finds and feels it not, p. 281.
  • How we are to judge of our selves in a dead estate, pag. 283.
  • We should depend upon Christ when he seemes ab­sent from us, pag. 283.
  • How to know God heares our prayers, pag. 28 [...].
  • Directions how to carry our selves when we pray [Page] without successe or in any state of desertion, pa. 288.
  • It is no easie thing to be a sound Christian, pag. 292.
  • Governours of the Church and state compared to Watchmen, pa. 293.
  • Reasons why God useth Watchmen, pag. [...]9 [...].
  • How the Church was wounded by the Watchmen, p [...]g. 295.
  • How the Churches vaile is taken away, pag 295.
  • Why the Watchmen are the wounders of the Church, pag. 296.
  • We are not to thinke the worse of any for the dis­graces of the time, pag 298.
  • True grace growes up with difficulties, pag. 303.
  • If we find not comfort in one means we must have recourse to another, pag. 30 [...].
  • Resemblances betweene Hierusalem and the Church, pag. 305.
  • How to know we are daughters of Hierusalem, pa. 306.
  • We are to desire the prayers of ot [...]ers, pag. 309.
  • [...]ove [...] sicke what it is, pag. 3 [...]0.
  • How to know we are sicke of love to Christ, p. 31 [...].
  • How is the Church said to be the fairest among woemen, pag. 322.
  • In what respects the Church cals her selfe black, p. 324.
  • There is a wondrous force in the examples of Chri­stians to stirre up one another, p. 328.
  • The excellent use of holy conference, p. 331.
  • Christians should be [...]n [...]uisitive, p. 334.
  • Whence comes the Churches fairenesse under [Page] such seeming foulenesse and disgrace, page 339.
  • How we are to judge of Gods people under seeming disgraces, page 340.
  • Christians are to improove the gifts of others by Questions, pag. 342.
  • Our endeavours must be to make Religion lovely, 343.
  • There is no envy in spirituall things, pag. 344.
  • Christ is a most beautifull person, pa. 34 [...].
  • Christ as he is beautifull and good, so he is beyond all comparison good, page 348.
  • Christ onely was King, Priest, and Prophet, pag. 350.
  • Christs transcendent excellencies serve to draw those that are not yet in Christ unto him and to com­fort those that are in Christ, p. 357.
  • The desperate f [...]lly of most men who choose base transitory things and refuse Christ, p. 358.
  • Christians ought to make Christ the rule of their choise in other things, p. 363.
  • Meanes to enable us rightly to value Christ and highly to esteeme of him, page 364.
  • There is somewhat of God in every creature, page 372.
  • Why the Church is so exact in particularising her Beloved, pag. 374.
  • Why Christ is set out by an head of gold, p. 378.
  • Christians should be suteable to Christ their head, pag. 379.
  • Why Christ is said to have Doves eyes, pag. 381.
  • The manifestation of Christ to his children by his Spirit in any of his ordinances is a sweet and delight­full manifestation, p. 384.
  • [Page]Christs doctrine is sweet and sound, pag. 388.
  • All Christs actions are precious, pag. 389.
  • The best discovery of our state in grace is by our affection to the Word of Christ, pag. 392.
  • Christ every way considered is altogether lovely, p. 396.
  • Christ in his lowest abasements for us was most lovely, pag. 397.
  • We are to rest upon Christs obedience and righte­ousnesse, pag. 398.
  • Our best affections ought to be set upon Christ, p. 399.
  • How to know whether we love Christ, pag. 401.
  • Meanes whereby we may be enabled to love and highly esteeme of Christ, pag. 40 [...].
  • Ends why the Church in generall and particular sets foorth the excellencies of Christ, pag. 413.
  • Grace though it be never so small at the first yet it is growing still, pag. 422.
  • Vsually God works with the meanes, pag. 424.
  • How to be happy instruments to convert others, p. 426.
  • That which most stirs up holy affections to search after Christ, is the large explications of his excellen­cies, pag. 428.
  • In what respects Christians are compared to Lil­lies, pag. 432.
  • Comfort to Gods people against all their ill cen­sures and wants, pag. 434.
  • Christ will not be long absent from his Church, p. 438.
  • We are to waite and never to give [...]ver seeking of Christ, pag. 439.
  • [Page]There mus [...] be union of persons to Christ before there can be communion with him, pag. 443.
  • From the union of our persons to Christ comes communion of all other things, pag. 444.
  • What these words imply, I am my Beloveds and my Beloved is m [...]ne, pag. 446.
  • Causes why God absents himselfe from his chil­dren, pag 45 [...].
  • Wh [...]n usually Christ returnes after desertion, pa. 452.
  • How Christ comes to be ours, pag. 454.
  • The riches of a Christian that has Christ to be his portion, pag. 4 [...]4.
  • Christians having Christ for their portion should be content [...]d with their outward condition what soe­ver it is, pag. 455.
  • Why sometimes we want outward things being in Christ, pag 456.
  • How we are Christs Beloved, pag 457.
  • Sufferings of the Church are to conforme her to Christ her Husband, pag 459.
  • The sweetest communion with Christ is under the greatest crosses, pag. 460.
  • Our giving our selves to Christ is a sure evidence that we are Christs, p. 461.
  • How [...] answer Satan when he tempts us to sin or despaire, pag 463.
  • Reasons why Christ must be given to us before we can give our selv [...]s to him, pa. 466.
  • D [...]rection how to be enabled to say, [...] am my Be­loveds and my B [...]lo [...]ed is mine, pag. 472.
  • The excellency of a Christian walking in divine [Page] light above [...]ther men, page 478.
  • Exhortation and incouragement for those who are not yet in Christ to come in, pag. 478.
  • Those who have given themselves up to Christ ought not to b [...] discouraged for their infirmities, pa. 4 [...]0.
  • We must labour to comprehend the love of Christ to us which will enable us to suffer willingly and cheerefully, pag. 481.
  • Christ feeds his Church and people in fat pas [...]ures, pag. 482.
  • Christ feeds as well as breeds, pag. 485.
  • Reasons of the necessity of our continuall feeding in Christianity, 486.
  • Christ feeds his people plentifully and sweetly, p. 487.
  • Happinesse of these times wherein there is such plenty of spirituall food, pag. 488.
  • The sweetnes of our lives is not lost by becomming religious. pag. 489.
  • How to get hungry appetites to the Sacrament, pa. 494.

SERMON I.

CANT. V. I.‘I am come into my Garden, my Sister, my Spouse, I have eaten my honey-combe with my honey: I have drunke my wine with my milke; eat O friends, Drinke, yea drinke abundantly, O Beloved!’

OTher bookes of Salomon lie more obvious and open to common understanding;Introduction. but, as none entered into the Holy of Holies, Levit. but the High Priest, so none can en­ter into the mystery of this Song of Songs, but such as have more neare Com­munion with Christ. Songs, and specially Mari­age-Songs, serve to expresse mens owne Ioyes, and [Page 2] others praises. So, this Booke containes

The Mutuall Ioyes, and Mutuall Praises betwixt Christ and his Church.

And as Christ and his Church, are the greatest persons that partake of humane nature, so whatso­ever is excellent in the whole world, is borrowed to set out the excellencies of these two great Lovers.

It is called Salomons Song, who next unto Christ, was the greatest Sonne of wisdome that e­ver the Church bred: whose understanding, as it was large as the sand of the Sea, so his Affections, especially that of Love, was as large: as we may see by his many wives, and by the delight he sought to take in whatsoever nature could afford. Which affection of Love in him misplaced, had beene his undoing, but that he was one belo­ved of God; who by his Spirit raised his soule to lovely Objects of a higher Nature. Here in this argument there is no danger for the deepest wit, or the largest affection (yea of a Salomon) to over-reach: for the knowledge of the love of Christ to his Church, is above all knowledge, The Angels themselves may admire it,Eph 3. 19. though they cannot comprehend it. It may well therefore be called the Song of Salomon; The most excellent Song, of a man of the highest conceit, and deep­est apprehension, and of the highest matters, The Intercourse betwixt Christ the Highest Lord of Lords, and his best beloved contracted Spouse.

There are diverse things in this Song, that a [Page 3] corrupt heart (unto which all things are defiled) may take offence; But, To the pure all things are pure. Such a sinfull abuse of this Heavenly Booke is farre from the intention of the Holy Ghost in it, which is by stouping low to us, to take advan­tage to raise us higher unto him; that by taking advantage of the sweetest passage of our life, (Ma­riage) and the most delightfull affection (Love) in the sweetest manner of Expression (by a Song) he might carrie up the Soule to things of a Heavenly Nature.Simile. We see in Summer, that one heat wea­kens another: and a great light being neare a lit­tle one, drawes away and obscures the flame of the other:Simile. so it is when the affections are taken up higher to their fit Object, they die unto all earthly things, whilst that heavenly flame con­sumes and wasts all base affections and earthly de­sires.Two especiall wayes of Mor­tification. Amongst other wayes of Mortification, there be two remarkable,

  • 1. By imbittering all earthly things unto us, where­by the Affections are deaded to them.
  • 2. By shewing more noble, excellent, and fit Ob­jects.

That the soule issuing more largely and strongly into them, may be diverted; and so by degrees die unto other things. The holy Spirit hath chosen this way in this Song; by elevating and raising our affections and love, to take it off from other things, that so it might runne in its right Chan­nell. It is pitie that a sweet streame should not ra­ther run into a Garden, than into a puddle: what a shame is it, that man having in him such excel­lent [Page 4] affections as Love, Ioy, Delight, should cleave to dirty base things that are worse than himselfe, so becomming debased like them? Therefore the Spirit of God, our of mercy and pitie to man, would raise up his affections, by taking compari­son from earthly things leading to higher mat­ters, that onely deserve Love, Ioy, Delight, and Admiration. Let Gods stouping to us, occasi­on our rising up unto him; for, here the greatest things, The Mystery of Mysteries, the Communion betwixt Christs and his Church, is set out in the fa­miliar comparison of a Marriage: that so we might the better see it in the glasse of a compari­son, which we cannot so directly conceive of, as we may see the sun in water,Simile. whose beames we cannot so directly looke upon: Onely our care must be, not to looke so much on the colours, as the Picture: and not so much on the Picture, as on the Person it selfe represented: that we looke not so much to the resemblance, as to the Person resembled.

Some would have Salomon by a Spirit of Pro­phecie, to take a view here of all the time, from his Age to the second coming of Christ: and in this Song, as in an abridgement, to set downe the seve­rall Passages and Periods of the Church, in severall ages, as containing diverse things which are more correspondent to one age of the Church than ano­ther. But howsoever this Song may containe (we deny not) A story of the Church in severall ages: yet this hinders not, but that most passages of it a­grees to the Spirituall estate of the Church in every age: [Page 5] as most Interpreters have thought. In this Song there is

  • 1. A strong desire of the Church of nearer Com­munion with Christ: and then
  • 2. Some declining againe in affection.
  • 3. After this we have Her recovery and regain­ing againe of Love: after which
  • 4. The Church fals againe into a declining of Af­fection, whereupon followes a further strange­nesse of Christ to her, than before: which continues, untill
  • 5. That the Church perceiving of Christs con­stant affection unto her, notwithstanding her un­kind dealing, recovers and cleaves faster to Christ, than ever before. Chap. 3.

These passages agree to the Experience of the best Christians in the state of their owne lives. This Observation must carrie strength through this whole Song, An Observati­on for the whole Song. That, there is the same regard of the whole Church, & of every particular member in regard of the chiefest Priviledges and Graces that accompany salvation. There is the same reason of every drop of water, as of the whole Ocean all is water; and of every sparke of fire, as of the whole Element of fire, all is fire: of those Homogeneall bodies, as we cal them, there is the same respect of the part and of the whole. And therefore as the whole Church is the Spouse of Christ, so is every particular Christian: and as the whole Church desires still nearer Communi­on with Christ, so doth every particular member. But to come to the words.

I am come into my Garden, &c.

This Chapter is not so well broken and divided from the former as it might have beene; for, it were better and more consequent, that the last Verse of the former Chapter were added to the be­ginning of this.

CANT. IV. XVI.‘Awake, O North-wind, and come thou South, blow upon my Garden, that the Spices thereof may flow out; let my Beloved come into his Garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.’

And therefore, by reason of connexion of this Chapter with the former Verse, we will first speake somwhat of it briefly, onely to make way for that which followes. The words containe

  • 1. A turning of Christs speech to the winds to blow upon his Garden: with the End, why? That the Spices there of may flow out.
  • 2. We have an invitation of Christ by the Church, to come into his Garden, with the End, To eat his pleasant fruits.

It may be a Question, whether this Command be the words of Christ, Quest. or, the desire of his Spouse. The words are spoken by Christ, Answ. because he cals it (My Garden) and the Church after, invites him to eat of (His) pleasant fruits, not of (Hers) yet the words may be likewise, an answer, to a former secret desire of the Church; whereof the order is this. The Church being sensible of some dead­nesse of Spirit; secretly desires some further [Page 7] quickening. Christ then answers those desires, by commanding the winds to blow upon her. For, ordinarily Christ first stirres up desires, and then, answers the desires of his owne Spirit, by further increase, as here.

Awake, thou North-wind, and come thou South, and blow upon my Garden, &c.

For the first Point named, we see here, that Christ sends forth his Spirit, with Command to all meanes, under the name of North and South wind, to further the fruitfulnesse of his Church. The wind is natures fanne, what winds are to the Garden, that the Spirit of Christ, in the use of meanes, is to the soule. From Comparison fetcht from Christs commanding the winds; We may in generall observe,Observation from Christs commanding the winds. That, All Creatures stand in obedience to Christ, as ready at a word, when­soever he speakes to them. They are all as it were asleepe untill he awakes them. He can call for the wind out of his treasures when he pleases, he holds them in his fist.

Which may comfort all those that are Christs, Vse. that they are under one that hath all creatures at his becke under him, to do them service, and at his checke to do them no harme. This drew the Disciples in admiration to say, What manner of man is this,Mat. 8. 27.that even the winds and the seas obey him? And cannot the same power still the winds and waves of the Churches and States, and cause a sodaine clame, if (as the Disciples) we awake him with our Prayers.

[Page 8] Secondly, we see here, that Christ speakes to winds contrary one to another, both in regard of the coasts from whence they blow, and in their qua­lity: but both agree in this, that both are necessa­ry for the Garden: where we see, That, The courses that Christ takes,Observation from the contra­ry blasts of winds.and the meanes that he uses with his Church, may seeme contrary, but by a wi [...]e or­dering all agree in the wholsome issue. A prosperous and an afflicted condition are contrary, a mild and a sharpe course may seeme to crosse one another. Yet, sweetly they agree in this, that as the Church needeth both, so Christ uses both for the Churches good. The North is a nipping wind, and the South a cherishing wind, therefore the South­wind is the welcomer and sweeter after the North­wind hath blowne. But howsoever, all things are ours, Paul, Apollos, Cephas, things present and to come, 1 Cor. [...] 21. life, death, &c. all things work together for good to us, Rom. 8. 28. being in Christ.

Hence it is that the manifold wisdome of Chirst maketh use of such variety of conditions,Vse 1. and hence it is that the Spirit of Christ is mild in some mens Ministeries, and sharpe in others. Nay, in the very same Minister, as the state of the soule they have to deale with all requires.

2 Sometimes againe, the people of God need pur­ging and sometimes refreshing, whereupon the Spi­rit of God caries it selfesutably to both conditi­ons, and the Spirit in the godly themselves drawes good out of every condition, sure they are that all winds blow them good, and were it not for their good, no winds should blow upon [Page 9] them. But in regard that these times of ours, by long peace and plenty, grow cold, heavy, and se­cure, we need therefore all kinds of winds to blow upon us, and all little enough. Time was when we were more quicke and lively, but now the heat of our spirits are abated; we must there­fore take heed of it, and quicken those things that are ready to die, Revel. or els in stead of the North and South-wind, God will send an East-wind that shall dri [...] up all, as it is, Hos. 13. 15.

Againe, if Christ can raise or lay, bind up or 3 let loose all kind of winds at his pleasure, then if meanes be wanting or fruitlesse; It is he that sayes to the clouds, drop not; and to the winds, blow not. Therefore, we must acknowledge him in want or plenty of meanes. The Spirit of Christ in the use of meanes is a free agent, sometimes blowes strongly, somtimes more mildly, somtimes not at all, no creature hath these winds in a bag at command, and theresore it is wisdome to y [...]eld to the gales of the Spirit, though in some other things (as Salomon observes) it may hinder to ob­serve the winds, Eccles. 11, 4. yet here it is necessary and profi­table to observe the winds of the Spirit.

Now for the cleare understanding of what we are to speak of, let us first observe

  • 1. Why the Spirit of God in the use of the meanes is compared to wind. And then,
  • 2. Why the Church is c [...]mpared to a Garden: which shall be handled in the proper place.
    In what Re­spects the Spi­rit of God is compared to wind.

But first for the wind.

  • 1 The wind bloweth where it lis [...]th, as it is Iob. 3. 8. [Page 10] So the Spirit of God blowes freely, and open­eth the heart of some, and powreth grace plentifully in them.
  • 2 The wind (especially the North-wind) hath a clean­sing force; so the Spirit of God purgeth our hearts from dead works to serve the living God; making us partakers of the divine nature, 2 Pet. 1.
  • 3 The wind disperseth and Scattereth clouds, and makes a serenity in the ayre. So doth the Spirit disperse such clouds as corruption and Satan raise up in the soule, that we may clearely see the face of God in Iesus Christ.
  • 4 The wind hath a cooling and a tempering quality, and tempers the distemper of nature: as in some hot countries there be yearely Anniversarie winds which blow at certaine times in Sum­mer, tempering the heat. So the Spirit of God allayeth the unnaturall heats of the soule in fierie Tentations, and bringeth it into a good temper.
  • 5 The wind being subtill searcheth into every corner and [...]ranie. So the Spirit likewise is of a search­ing nature, and discerneth betwixt the joynts and the marrow, betwixt the flesh and the Spi­rit, &c. searching those hidden corruptions, that nature could never have found out.
  • 6 The wind hath a cherishing and a fructifying force. So the Spirit is a quickening and a che­rishing Spirit, and maketh the heart which is as a barren wildernesse, to be fruitfull.
  • 7 The wind hath a conveying power of sweet smells [Page 11] in the ayre, to carry them from one to another. So the Spirit in the Word conveyeth the seeds of Grace and comfort from one to another, it drawes out what sweetnesse is in the spirits of men, and makes them fragrant and delightfull to others.
  • 8 The wind againe beares downe all before it, beats downe houses, and trees like the Cedars in Leba­non, turnes them up by the roots, and layes all flat. So the Spirit is mighty in operation, there is no standing before it: It brings down mountaines, and every high thing that exalts it selfe, and layes them levell: nay, the Ro­man and those other mighty Empires could not stand before it.

For these respects and the like the blowing of the Spirit is compared to wind. For which end Christ here commands the winds to

Blow upon his Garden.

[To blow, &c.] See here the order, linking and concatination of things one under another, to the prospering of a poore flower or plant in a Garden; not onely soyle is needfull, but ayre and wind al­so, and the influence of Heaven: and God com­manding all, as here, the winds to Blow upon his Garden. To this end as a wonderfull mercy to his people, it is said Hos. 2. 22. And it shall come to passe in that day, I will heare saith the Lord, I will heare the Heavens, and they shall heare the earth, and the earth shall heare the corne, the wine, and the oyle; and they shall heare Iezreel. As the Creatures are [Page 12] from God, so the order and dependance of crea­tures one from another: to teach us, not onely what to pray for, but also what to pray fitly for. Not onely to pray for the deaw of heaven, but also for seasonable and cherishing winds. It is not the soyle, Non ager sed annus facit [...] but the season that makes fruitfull; and that from seasonable winds and influences. So, In spirituall things there is a Chaine of Causes and Effects; Prayer comes from Faith, Rom. 10. 14. Faith from the Hearing of the Word, Hearing from a Preacher; by whom God by his Spirit blowes upon the heart: and a Preacher from Gods sending. If the God of Nature should but hinder and take away one linke of natures chaine, the whole frame would be disturbed. Well, That which Christ commands here, is for the winds to

Blow upon his Garden.

And we need blowing,In what Re­spects we need the blowing of the Spirit. our spirits will be be­calmed els, and stand at a stay, and Satan will be sure by himselfe and such as are his bellowes, to blow up the seeds of sinfull lusts in us. For, there are two spirits in the Church, the one alwayes blowing against the other. Therefore, the best had need to be stirred up,Exod. 17. 12. otherwise with Moses, their hands will be ready to fall down, and abate in their affection. Therefore we need Blowing,

  • 1. In regard of our naturall inhability.
  • 2. In regard of our dulnesse and heavines cleaving to nature occasionally.
  • 3. In regard of contrary winds from without, Sa­than hath his bellows filled with his spirit, [Page 13] hinders the work of grace all they can, so that we need not onely Christs blowing, but also his stopping other contrary winds, that they blow not, Rev. 7. 1.
  • 4. In regard of the estate and condition of the new convenant, wherein all beginning, growth, and ending, is from Grace, and nothing but Grace.
  • 5. Because old Grace, without a fresh supply, will not hold against new crosses and tentations.

Therefore when Christ drawes let us run after him,Vse. when he blowes, let us open unto him, It may be the last blast that ever we shall have from him. And let us set upon Duties with this Incouragement, that Christ will blow upon us, not onely to pre­vent us, but also to maintaine his owne Graces in us. But O! where is this stirring up of our selves, and one another upon these grounds?

But,Quest. Why is the Church compared to a Garden? Christ herein takes all manner of termes to ex­presse himselfe and the state of the Church,Answ. as it is to him, to shew us that wheresoever we are, we may have occasion of heavenly thoughts, to raise up our thoughts to higher matters. His Church is his Temple, when we are in the Temple, it is a field when we are there; A Garden, if we walke in a Garden: It is also a Spouse and a Sister; &c. But more particularly the Church is resem­bled to a Garden, In what re­spects the Church is compared to a garden.

1. Because a Garden is taken out of the common wast ground, to be appropriated to a more particular use; so the Church of Christ is taken out of the 1 [Page 14] wildernesse of this wast world, to a particular use.Exod. 9. 26. It is in respect of the rest, as Goshen to Egypt, wherein light was, when all else was in darknesse. And indeed wherein doth the Church differ from other grounds, but that Christ hath taken it in? It is the same soyle as other grounds are; but, he dresseth and fits it to beare spices and herbes.

2 2. In a garden nothing comes up naturally of it selfe, but as it is planted and set; so nothing is good in the heart, but as it is planted and set by the heavenly Husbandman.Iohn 15. 22. We need not sow the wildernes, for the seeds of weeds prosper na­turally, the earth is a mother to weeds, but a step­mother to herbs. So weeds & passions grow too rank naturally, but nothing growes in the Church of it self, but as it is set by the hand of Christ, who is the Author, Dresser, and Pruner of this Garden.

3 Againe, In a Garden nothing uses to be planted but what is usefull and delightfull, so there is no grace in the heart of a Christian, but it usefull (as occasion serves) both to God and man.

4 Further, In a garden there are variety of flowers and spices; especially in those hot Countries; so in a Christian, there is somewhat of every grace: as some cannot heare of a curious flower, but they will have it in their Garden, so a Christi­cannot heare of any Grace;Simile. but he labours to ob­taine it, they labour for graces for all seasons, and occasions. They have for Prosperity, tempe­rance and sobriety; for Adversity, patience and hope to sustaine them. For those that are above them, they have Respect and Obedience; and for those [Page 15] under them, sutable usage in all conditions of Chri­stianity. For the Spirit of God in them is a se­minary of spirituall good things;Reason. as in the cor­ruption of nature, before the Spirit of God came to us, there was the seminary of all ill weeds in us, so when there is a new quality and new prin­ciples put in us, there with comes the seeds of all graces.

Againe, of all other Places, we most delight in our 5 Gardens to walk there and take our pleasure, and take care thereof, for fencing, weeding, watering, and planting. So Christs chiefe care and delight is for his Church: he walks in the midst of the se­ven golden Candlestickes: Revel. 2. 1. and if he defend and protect States, it is that they may be a harbour to his Church.

And then againe, as in Gardens there had 6 wont to have Fountaines and streames which run through their Gardens: as Paradise had foure streames which ran through it. So the Church is Christs Paradise, and his Spirit is a spring in the midst of it, to refresh the soules of his upon all their faintings, and so the soule of a Christian be­comes as a watered Garden.

So also, Their Fountaines were sealed up; so the 7 joyes of the Church and particular Christians,Cant. 4. 12. are as it were sealed up; A stranger (it is said) shall not meddle with this joy of the Church. Pro. 14. 10.

Lastly, A garden stands alwayes in need of weed­ing 8 and dressing; continuall labour and cost must be bestowed upon it; sometimes planting, pruning and weeding, &c. So in the Church and [Page 16] hearts of Christians, Christ hath alwayes some­what to do, we would els soone be over-growne and turne wild: In all which, and the like re­spects, Christ calleth upon the winds to blow upon his Garden.

If then the Church be a severed portion, then,Vse 1. We should walke as men of a severed condition from the world, not as men of the world, but as Christi­ans, to make good that we are so, by feeling the graces of Gods Spirit in some comfortable mea­sure, that so Christ may have somthing in us, that he may delight to dwell with us, so to be subject to his pruning and dressing. For, It is so far from being an ill signe, that Christ is at cost with us, in fol­lowing us with afflictions, that it is rather a sure signe of his love. For, the care of this blessed Husband­man is to prune us so, as to make us fruitfull. Men care not for heath and wildernesse whereup­on they bestow no cost. So when God prunes us by crosses and afflictions, and sowes good seed in us, it is a signe, he meanes to dwell with us, and delight in us.

And then also, we should not strive so much 2 for common liberties of the world that common people delight in, but for peculiar graces, that God may delight in us as his Garden.

And then, let us learne hence, not to despise any 3 nation or person, seeing God can take out of the wast wildernesse whom he will, and make the De­sart an Eden.

Againe, let us blesse God for our selves, that 4 our lot hath fallen into such a pleasant place, [Page 17] to be planted in the Church the place of Gods de­light.

And this also should move us, to be fruitfull, for 5 men will indure a fruitlesse tree in the wast wil­dernesse, but in their garden who will indure it? Dignity should mind us of duty. It is strange to be fruitlesse and barren in this place that we live in, being watered with the deaw of Heaven, under the sweet influence of the meanes. This fruitlesse estate being often watered from heaven, how fearefully is it threatned by the Holy Ghost?Heb. 6. 8. that it is neare unto cursing and burning. For in this case, visible Churches, if they prosper not, God will remove the hedge, and lay them wast, ha­ving a Garden elswhere. Sometimes Gods plants prosper better in Babylon, than in Iudea. It is to be feared God may complaine of us, as he doth of his people, Ier. 2. 21. I have planted thee a noble vine, how art thou then come to be degenerated? If in this case we regard iniquity in our heart, the Lord will not regard the best thing that comes from us, as our prayers, Heb. 12. 18. Heb. 13. We must then learne of himselfe, how and wherein to please him, obedience from a broken heart is the best sacrifice. Marke in Scriptures what he ab­hors, what he delights in: we use to say of our friends, would God I knew how to please them:Heb. 11. 6. Christ teacheth us, that without faith it is impossible to please him. Let us then strive and labour to be fruitfull in our Places and Callings: for it is the greatest honour in this world, for God to digni­fie [Page 18] us with such a condition,Hos. 10. 1. as to make us fruit­full. We must not bring forth fruit to our selves, as GOD complaines of Ephraim. Honour, Riches, and the like, are but secondary things, arbitrary at Gods pleasure to cast in: but, to have an active heart fruitfull from this ground, that God hath planted us for this purpose, that we may doe good to mankind, this is an excellent consideration not to pro [...]ane our calling. The blessed man is said to be, a tree planted by the water side, that brings forth fruit in due season; but it is not every fruit: not that fruit which Moses complaines of, Deut. 32. 32. The wine of Dragons, and the Gall of Alpes: but good fruit, as Iohn speakes: Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewen downe, and cast into the fire. Mat. [...]. 10.

6

Lastly, in that the Church is called Christs Gar­den, this may strengthen our faith in Gods care and protection. The Church may seeme to lie open to all incursions, but it hath an invisible hedge about it, a wall without it, and a well within it.Zach. 2. 5. God himselfe is a wall of fire about it, and his Spirit a well of living waters running through it to refresh and comfort it.Rev. 22. 1. As it was said of Ca­naan, so it may be said of the Church; The eye of the Lord is upon it all the yeare long, and he waters it continually. From which especiall care of Gods over it, this is a good plea for us to God, I am thine, save me, I am a plant of thine owne set­ting, nothing is in me but what is thine, there­fore cherish what is thine. So, for the whole [Page 19] Church the plea is good; the Church is thine, fence it, water it, defend it, keep the wild bore out of it. Therefore the enemies thereof shall one day know what it is to make a breach upon Gods vineyard. In the meane time, let us labour to keep our hearts as a Garden, that nothing that de­fileth may enter. In which respects the Church is compared to a Garden, upon which Christ com­mands the North and South-wind (all the meanes of Grace) to blow.

But to what end must these winds blow upon the Garden?

That the Spices thereof may flow out.

The End of this blowing is you see, That the Spices thereof may flow out; good things in us lie dead and bound up, unlesse the Spirit let them out. We ebb and flow, open and shut, as the Spirit blowes upon us; without blowing, no flowing. There were gracious good things in the Church, but they wanted blowing up and further spreading, whence we may observe, That,

We need not onely grace to put life into us at the first,Observ.but likewise grace to quicken and draw forth that grace that we have. This is the difference betwixt mans blowing and the Spirits; man when he blowes (if grace be not there before) spends all his labour upon a dead coale, which he cannot make take fire. But the Spirit first kindles a holy fire, and then increases the flame. Christ had in the use of meanes wrought on the Church before, and now further promoteth his owne worke. We must first take in, and then send out; first be [Page 20] cisternes to containe; and then, conduits to con­vey. The wind first blowes, and then the Spices of the Church flow out; we are first sweet in our selves, and then sweet to others.

Whence we see further,Observ. That, It is not enough to be good in our selves, but our goodnesse must slow out: that is, grow more strong, usefull to conti­nue and streame forth for the good of others. We must labour to be (as was said of Iohn) burn­ing and shining Christians: for Christ is not like a boxe of oyntment shut up and not opened, but like that boxe of oyntment that Mary pow­red out, which perfumes all the whole house with the sweetnesse thereof. For, the Spirit is herein like wind: it carries the sweet [...]avour of grace to others. A Christian so soone as he finds any rooting in God, is of a spreading disposition, and makes the places he lives in the better for him. The whole body is the better for every good member;Philem. 10. as we see in Onesimus. The meanest persons when they become good, are usefull and profitable; of briers become flow­ers, the very naming of a good man casts a sweet favour as presenting some grace to the heart of the hearer. For, then we have what we have to purpose; when others have occasion to blesse God for us, for conveying comfort to them by us. And for our furtherance herein, therefore, the winds are called upon to awake and blow upon Christs Garden,

That the Spices thereof may flow out.

Hence we see also,Observ. That, Where once God [Page 21] begins, he goes on, and delights to add incouragement to incouragement,Observ.to maintaine new setters up in Reli­gion: and doth not onely give them a stocke of grace at the beginning, but also helpes them to trade; He is not onely Alpha, Rev. 1. 8. but Omega unto them: The Beginning and the Ending. He doth not onely plant graces, but also watereth and che­risheth them; where the Spirit of Christs, it is an incouraging Spirit. For, not onely it infu­seth grace, but also stirres sit up, that we may be ready prepared for every good worke, other­wise, we cannot do that which we are able to do, the Spirit must bring all into exercise, els, the ha­bits of grace will lie asleep; we need a present Spi­rit to do every good: not only the power to will, but the will it selfe: and not onely the will, but the deed is from the Spirit. Which should stirre us up to go to Christ, that he may stirre up his owne graces in us, that they may flow out.

Let us labour then in our selves to be full of goodnesse,Vse. that so we may be fitted to do good to all: as God is good and does good to all, so must we strive to be as like him as may be. In which case for others sakes, we must pray, that God would make the winds to blow out f [...]lly up­on us, That our spices may flow out for their good. For a Christian in his right temper thinks, that he hath nothing good to purpose, but that which does good to others. Thus farre of Christs Com­mand to the North and South-wind to awake and blow upon, his Garden, That the spices thereof may flow out. In the next place we have

[Page 22] 2. Christs Invitation by the Church to come into his Garden. With the End thereof, To eat his pleasant Fruits.

Which words shew, The Churches further de­sire sire of Christs presence to delight in the graces of his owne Spirit in her. She invites him to come and take delight in the Graces of his owne Spirit. And she cals him Beloved, because all her love is, or should be imparted and spent on Christ, who gave himselfe to a cursed death for her. Our love should run in strength no oterr way, therefore the Church cals Christ her Beloved. Christ was there before, but she desires a further presence of him; whence we may observe, That,

Wheresoever grace is truely begun and stirred up, there is still a further desire of Christs presence,Observ. and approaching daily more and more neare to the soule, the Church thinkes him never neare enough to her, untill shee bee in heaven with him. The true Spouse and the Bride alwayes (un­lesse in desertion and temptation) cryeth, Come Lord Iesus,Rev. 22. 17Come quickly. Now these degrees of Christs approaches to the soul untill his Second Comming are that he may manifest himselfe more and more in defending, comforting and in­abling his Church with Grace▪ every further manifestation of his presence, is a further Com­ming.

But why is the Church thus earnest?

First,Reas. 1. because grace helps to see our need of Christ, and so helps us to prize him the more; [Page 23] which high esteeme breeds an hungring earneste desire after him, and a desire of further likenesse and sutablenesse to him.

Secondly, because the Church well knowes, that when Christ comes to the soule, he comes not alone, but with his Spirit, and his Spirit with abundance of peace and comfort. This shee knowes what need she hath of his Presence, that without him there is no comfortable living. For, wheresoever he is, he makes the soule a kind of Heaven, and all conditions of life comfortable.

Hence we may see that those that do not desire the presence of Christ in his Ordinances,Vse. are (it is to be feared) such as the wind of the Holy Ghost never blew upon. There are some of such a dis­position, as they cannot indure the presence of Christ: such as Antichrist and his limms, whom the presence of Christ in his Ordinances blasts and consumes. Such are not onely profane and wordly persons, but proud hypocrites who glo­ry in something of their owne, and therefore their hearts rise against Christ and his Ordinan­ces, as laying open and shaming their emptinesse and carnalnesse. The Spirit in the Spouse is alwayes saying to Christ, come. It hath never e­nough of him, he was now in a sort present; But the Church (after it is once blowen upon) is not sa­tisfied without further presence. It is from the Spirit, that we desire more of the Spirit, and from the presence of Christ, that we desire a further Presence and Communion with Him. Now

The end and Reason why Christ is desired by the Church to come into his Garden, Is,

To eat his pleasant fruits.] that is, to give him contentment. And is it not fit that Christ should eat fruit of his owne vine, have comfort of his owne Garden, to tast of his owne fruits? The onely delight Christ hath in the world, is in his Garden: and that he might take the more de­light in it, he makes it fruitfull, and those fruits are precious fruits, as growing from plants set by his owne hand, relishing of his owne Spirit, and so fitted for his tast. Now the Church knowing what fitted Christs tast best, and knowing the fruits of grace in her heart: desireth that Christ would delight in his own graces in her, and kind­ly accept of what she presented him with. Whence we see, That,

A gracious heart is privy to its owne grace and sincerity, Observ. when it is in a right temper: and so farre as it is privy, is bold with Christ in a sweet [...] reverend manner. So much sincerity, so much confidence, If our heart condemne us not of unsincerity, we may in a reverend manner speake boldly to Christ: It is not fit there should be strangenesse betwixt Christ and his Spouse; neither indeed will there be, when Christ hath blowen upon her, and when she is on the growing hand.

But marke the Order.

First, Christ blowes, and then the Church sayes, Come: Christ begins in love, then love drawes [Page 25] love;Cant. 1. 4. Christ drawes the Church, and she runs af­ter him▪ The fire of love melts more than the fire of affliction.

Againe, we may see here in the Church a care­fulnesse to please Christ; as it is the duty, so it is the disposition of the Church of Christ to please her Husband.

The Reason is,Reason 1. First, our happinesse stands in his contentment, and all cannot but be well in that house, where the husband and the wife de­light in, and make much of each other.

A [...]d againe, after that the Church hath denied 2 her selfe and the vanities of the world, entring in­to a way and course of mortification, whom els hath she to give her selfe to, or receive content­ment from. Our manner is to study to please men whom we hope to rise by, being carefull that all we do may be well taken of them: as for Christ, we put him off with any thing: If he likes it, so it is; if not, it is the best that he is like to have.

O let us take the Apostles counsell, Coloss. 1. 1.1 To labour to walk worthy of the Lord, &c. unto all well-pleasing, increasing in knowledge, Coloss. 1. 9, 10▪ and fruitfulnesse in every good worke. And this knowledge must not onely be a generall wisdome in knowing truths, but a speciall understanding of his good will to us, and our speciall duties againe to him▪

Againe, that we may please Christ the better,2 labour to be cleansed from that which is offen­sive to him: let the spring be cleane. Therefore the Psalmist desiring that the words of his mouth [Page 26] and the meditations of his heart might be accep­table before God,Psal. 19. 12. first begs cleansing from his se­cret sinnes.

And still we must remember that he himselfe 3 must worke in us, whatsoever is well-pleasing in his sight, that so we may be perfect in every good thing to do his will, having grace whereby we may serve him acceptably. And one prevailing argument with him is, that we desire to be such as he may take delight in, The upright are his delight. It cannot but please him when we desire grace, for this end that we may please him. If we stu­dy to please men in whom there is but little good; should we not much more study to please Christ the fountaine of goodnesse? Labour therefore to be spirituall,Rom. 8. 6. for to be carnally minded is death, and those that are in the flesh cannot please God.

The Church desires Christ to come into his Garden, to eat his pleasant fruits. Where we see, The Church gives all to Christ: Observe. The Garden is his, the Fruit his, the pleasantuesse and preciousnesse of the Fruit is his. And as the fruits please him, so the humble acknowledgement that they come from him, doth exceedingly please him. It is enough for us to have the comfort, let him have the glo­ry. It came from a good Spirit in David, when he said,2 Chron. Of thine owne Lord I give thee, &c. God accounts the works and fruits that comes from us to be ours, because the judgement and resolu­tion of will, whereby we do them is ours. This he doth to incourage us, but because the grace whereby we judge and will aright comes from [Page 27] God, it is our duty to ascribe whatsoever is good in us, or comes from us, unto him: so God shall lose no praise, and we lose no incouragement. The imperfections in well-doing are onely ours, and those Christ will pardon, as knowing how to beare with the infirmities of his Spouse, being the weaker vessell.

This therefore should cheere up our spirits,Vse. in the wants and blemishes of our performances. They are notwithstanding, precious fruits in Christs acceptance, so that we desire to please him above all things, and to have nearer communion with him: fruitfulness unto pleasingnes may stand with imperfections, so that we be sensible of them, and ashamed for them. Although the fruit be little, yet it is precious, there is a blessing in it. Imper­fections help us against tentations to pride, not to be matter of discouragement, which Satan aimes at. And as Christ commands the North and South-wind to blow for cherishing, so Satan la­bours to stirre up an East pinching wind, to take either from indeavour, or to make us heartlesse in indeavour. Why should we think basely of that which Christ thinks precious? Why should we thinke that offensive which he counts as in­cense? We must not give false witnesse of the work of grace in our hearts, but blesse God that he will work any thing in such polluted hearts as ours. What though as they come from us they have a relish of the old man, seeing he takes them from us,Rev. 8. 3. and perfumes them with his own sweet odors, to presents them unto God. He is our High [Page 28] Priest which makes all acceptable, both Persons, Prayers, and Performances, Heb. 9. 13. sprinkling them all with his blood.

To conclude this Point, let it be our study to be in such a condition wherein we may please Christ; and whereas we are daily prone to offend him, let us daily renew our covenant with Him, and in him: and fetch incouragements of well-doing from this, that what we do, is not onely well-pleasing unto him, but rewarded of him. And to this end desire him, that he would give command to North and South, to all sort of meanes, to be effectuall, for making us more fruitfull, that he may delight in us as his pleasant Gardens; and then what is in the world, that we need much care for, or feare?

Now upon the Churches Invitation for Christ to come into his Garden, followes His gracious Answer unto the Churches Desire, in the first Verse of this fift Chapter.

CANT. V. I.‘I am come into my Garden, my Sister, my Spouse, I have gathered my myrrhe with my spice, I have eaten my honey-combe with my honey, I have drunk my wine with my milke; eat O friends, drinke, yea drinke a­bundantly, O beloved.’

Which words containe in them

An answer to the Desire of the Church, in the lat­ter part of the Verse formerly handled: Awake thou North-wind, and comes thou South, &c.

[Page 29]Then Vers. 2. is set forth The secure estate of the Church at this time, I sleepe, but my heart waketh, in setting downe whereof the Holy Ghost here by Salomon shewes likewise

The loving Intercourse betwixt Christ and the Church one with another.

Now Christ upon the secure estate and conditi­on of the Church desires her, To open unto him, Ver. 2. Which desire and waiting of Christs is put off and sleighted with poore and slender excuses, Verse 3. I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on, &c.

The successe of which excuses is, that Christ seems to go away from her (and indeed to her sight and sense departs) Ver. 6. I opened to my Be­loved, but my Beloved had withdrawen himselfe, &c. whereupon she layes about her, is restlesse, and inquires after Christ from the watchmen, who misuse, wound her, and take away her veile from her, Vers▪ 7.

Another Intercourse in this Chapter here is, That the Church for all this gives not over search­ing after Christ: But askes the Daughters of Ierusalem, what was become of her Beloved, Vere 8. and withall, in a few words, but full of large expression, she relates her case unto them; That she was sicke of love: and so chargeth them to tell her beloved; if they find him. Where upon a Question moved by them, touching her Be­loved, Ver. 9. What is thy Beloved more than another Beloved? She takes occasion (being full of love) which is glad of all occasions to speak of the [Page 30] Beloved, to burst forth into his Praises, by many elegant Expressions, Vers. 10, 11, 12, &c.

  • 1. In generall; setting him at a large di­stance, beyond comparison from all o­thers, to be The chiefest of ten thousand, Vers. 10.
  • 2. In particulars, Ver▪ 11, &c. His head is as most fine gold, &c.

The Issue whereof was; That, The Daughters of Ierusalem become likewise inamoured▪ with him, Chap. 6. 1. and thereupon enquire also after him: Whether is thy Beloved gone, O thou fairest a­mong women, &c. Unto which demand the Church makes Answer, Chap. 6. 2. and so Ver. 3 of that Chapter, makes a confident triumphant close unto all these grand passages fore-named. I am my Be­loveds and my Beloved is mine, &c. all which will better appeare in the Particulars themselves.

The first thing then which offereth it selfe to our consideration, is, Christs Answer to the Churches Invitation, Chap. 4. 16.

I am come into my Garden, my Sister, my Spouse, I have gathered my myrrhe with my spice; I have eaten my honey-combe with my honey; I have drunke my wine with my milke; Eat O friends, drink, yea drink abundantly O beloved. In which Verse we have,

  • 1. Christs Answer to the Churches Petition; [I am come into my Garden.]
  • 2. A Compellation, or Description of the Church, [My Sister, my Spouse.]
  • 3. Christs acceptation of what he had gotten [Page 31] there, [I have gathered my myrrhe with my spice, I have eaten my honey-combe with my honey.]
  • 4. There is, An Invitation of all Christs friends to a magnifique abundant feast, [Eat O friends, drinke, yea drink abundantly, O beloved.]

For the first then, in that Christ makes such a reall Answer unto the Churchs Invitation, I am come into my Garden, &c. We see, That Christ comes into his Garden: 'Tis much that he that hath heaven to delight in, will delight to dwell a­mong the sons of sinfull men: but this he doth for us, and so takes notice of the Churches Petition.

Let my Beloved come into his Garden, and eat his pleasant fruit. The right speech of the Church that gives all to Christ, who when she hath made such a petition, heares it. The Order is this.

First of all, God makes his Church lovely, planteth good things therein,The Order of God [...]is hearing his Church. and then stirs up in her good desires: both fitnesse to pray from an in­ward gracious disposition: and holy desires: af­ter which, Christ hearing the voice of his own Spirit in her, and regarding his owne preparati­ons, he answers them graciously. Whence, in the first place we may observe, That,

God makes us good,Observ. stirres up holy desires in us, and then answers the desires of his holy Spirit in us.

A notable place for this we have Psal. 10. 17.How the heart is prepared to prayer. which shewes how God first prepares the heart to pray, and then heares these desires of the soule stirred up by his owne Spirit, Lord, thou hast heard [Page 32] the desires of the humble, none are fit to pray but the humble, such as discerne their owne wants: Thou wilt prepare their hearts, thou wilt make thine eare to heare. So Rom. 8. 26. It is said, Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for, we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit it selfe maketh intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered. Thus the Spirit not onely stirs up our heart to pray: but also prepares our hearts unto it Especially this is necessary for us, when our thoughts are confused with trouble, grief, and Passions, not knowing what to pray. In this case the Spirit dictates the words of praier, or els, in a confusion of thoughts summes up all in a volie of sighs and unexpressible groanes. Thus it is true, that our hearts can neither be lifted up to Prayer, nor rightly prepared for it, in any frame fitting, but by Gods owne Spirit. Nothing is accepted of God toward heaven and happines, but that which is spirituall: all saving and sancti­fying good comes from above. Therefore God must prepare the heart, stirre up holy desires, di­ctate prayer: must do all in all, being our Alpha and Omega. Rev. 1. 6.

Now, God heares our Prayers, First, Because the Materialls of these holy desires are good in them­selves, Why God heares our Prayers. and from the Person from whence they come, his beloved Spouse, Reason 1. as it is Cant. 2. 14. where Christ de­siring to heare the voice of his Church, saith, Let me see thy Countenance, and let me heare thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. Thus the voice of the Spouse is sweet, because it is [Page 33] stirred up by his owne Spirit, which burnes the Incense, and whence all comes which is savingly good. This offering up of our prayers in the name of Christ, is that which with his sweet o­dors perfumes all our Sacrifices and Prayers; Rev. 8. 3. be­cause being in the Covenant of Grace, God re­spects whatsoever comes from us, as we do the desires of our neare friends.

And then againe, God heares our Prayers, Be­cause 2 he lookes upon us as we are in election, and choice of God the Father, who hath given us to him. Not onely as in the neare bond of marriage, husband and wife, but also as he hath given us to Christ: which is his plea unto the Father, Ioh. 17. 6. Thine they were, thou gavest them me, &c. The de­sires of the Church please him, because they are stirred up by his Spirit, and proceed from her that is his: whose voice he delights to heare, and the prayers of others for his Church are accep­ted, because they are for her that is his Be­loved.

To confirme this further, see Isa. 58. 9. Thou then shalt cry, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt call, and presently he shall say, Here I am, &c. so as soone as Daniel had ended that excellent pray­er, the Angell telleth him, At the beginning of thy supplications the decree came forth, &c. So be­cause he knowes what to put into our hearts,Dan. 9. 23. he knowes our desires and thoughts. And therefore accepts of our prayers and heares us; because he loves the voice of his owne Spirit in us. So it is said, He fulfils the desires of them that feare him; and [Page 34] he is neare to all that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. Cant. 2. 14. And our Saviour he saith; Ask and ye shall receive, Psal. 145. 18. &c. So we have it, 1 Ioh. 5. 14. And we know if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us. M [...]t. 7. 7.

Let it therefore be a singular comfort to us, that in all wants,Vse 1. so in that of friends, when we have none to go to, yet we have God to whom we may freely powre out our hearts, there being no place in the world that can restraine us from his presence, or his Spirit from us, he can heare us and help us in all places. What a blessed estate is this? None can hinder us from driving this trade with Christ in heaven.

And let us make another use of it likewise, to be a meanes to stirre up our hearts, to make use of our priviledges. Vse 2. What a prerogative is it for a favou­rite to have the Eare of his Prince, him we ac­count happy: surely he is much more happy, that hath Gods [...]are, [...]im to be his Father in the covenant of grace: Him reconciled, upon all oc­casions to powre out his heart before Him, who is mercifull and faithfull, wise and most able to helpe us. Why are we discouraged therefore; and why are we cast downe, when we have such a powerfull and such a gracious God to go to in all our extremi­ties?Psal. 42. ult. He that can pray can never be much un­comfortable.

So likewise,Vse 3. it should stirre us up to keep our peace with God, that so we may alwayes have [Page 35] accesse unto him, and communion with him. What a pitifull case is it to lose other comforts, and therewith also to be in such a state, that we cannot go to God with any boldnesse? It is the greatest losse of all,The greatest losse of all. when we have lost the spirit of Prayer. For, if we lose other things, we may re­cover them by Prayer. But when we have lost this boldnesse to go to God, and are afraid to look him in the face (as malefactors the Iudge) this is a wofull estate.

Now there are diverse cases wherein the soule is not in a state fit for Prayer. Cases wherein one is unfit to pray. As that first, Psal. 66. 18. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not 1 regard my Prayer. If a man hath a naughty heart, that purposeth to live in any sinne against God, he takes him for an enemy, and therefore will not regard his Prayer. Therefore we must come with a resolute purpose, to break off all sinfull courses, and to give up our selves to the guidance of Gods Spirit.A strong mo­tive to sanctifi­cation. And this will be a forcible Rea­son to move us thereunto, because so long as we live in any knowne sinne unrepented of: God neither regards us nor our prayers. What a fearfull estate is this, that when we have such need of Gods favour in all estates; in sicknesse, the houre of death, and in spirituall temptation, to be in such a condition, as that we dare not go to God? Though our lives be civill, yet if we have false hearts that feed themselves with evill imagi­nations, and with a purpose of sinning (though we act it not) the Lord will not regard the pray­ers of such a one, they are abominable (The very [Page 36] sacrifice of the wicked is abominable)

Another case is,Pro. 13. when we will not forgive others. We know it is directly set downe in the Lords 2 Prayer. Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespasse against us, and there is further added Vers. 15.Mat. 6. 12. If you forgive not men their tres­passes, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you. If our hearts tell us we have no dispositi­on to pardon, be at peace and agreement, then we do but take Gods Name in vaine, when we ask him to forgive our sinnes, and we continue in envy and malice. In this case God will not re­gard our prayers, as it is said; I care not for your Prayers, or for any service you performe to me: why?Isa, 1. For your hands are full of blood: you are un [...]mercifull,Isa. 66. of a cruell fierce disposition, which cannot appeare before God rightly, nor humble it selfe in Prayer. If it doth; its owne bloudy and cruell disposition wilbe objected against the Prayers, which are not mingled with faith and love, but with wrath and bitternesse. Shall I look for mercy that have no mercifull heart my selfe? Can I hope to find that of God, that others can­not find from me? An unbroken disposition which counts Pride an ornament, that is cruell and fierce, it cannot go to God in Prayer. For, whosoever would prevaile with God in prayer, must be humble: for our supplications must come from a loving peaceable disposition, where there is a resolution against all sinne. Psal. 73. Neither is it sufficient to avoid grudging and malice against these, but we must looke that others have not cause to grudge [Page 37] against us, as it is commanded. Matth. 5. 23. If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there remembrest that thy Brother hath ought against thee: leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be recon­ciled to thy Brother: and then come and offer thy gift. So that if wee doe not seeke reconciliation with men unto whom we have done wrong, God will not bee reconciled to us, nor accept any service from us.

If then we would have our Prayers, and our Persons accepted, or respected, let us make consci­ence of that which hath beene said, and not loose such a blessed priviledge as this is, that God may regard our prayers. But here may be asked.

How shall I know whether God regard my prayers or not?Quest.

First,Answ. 1 When he grants the thing prayed for, or in­largeth our hearts to pray still. How to know when God heares our prayers. It is a greater gift 2 then the thing it selfe we beg, to have a spirit of prayer with a heart inlarged. For, as long as the heart is inlarged to prayer, it is a signe, that God hath a speciall regard of us; and will grant our petition in the best and fittest time.

When hee answers us in a better and higher kind, as Paul when he prayed for the taking away 3 of the Prick of the flesh; had promises of sufficient grace.

When againe, He gives us inward peace, though 4 he gives not the thing: as Phil. 4. 7. In nothing bee carefull, but in all things let your requests be made to God, with prayer and thankesgiving. Object.

But sometime he doth not answer our requests.Answ.

[Page 38]It is true he doth not, but the peace of God which passeth al under standing guards our hearts & minds in the knowledge & love of God. So though he answers not our prayers in particular; yet he vouchsafes inward peace unto us; assuring us that it shall goe well with us, though not in that particular wee beg. And thus in not hearing their prayers, yet they have their hearts desire, when Gods will is made known. Is not this sufficient for a Christian, either to have the thing, or to have inward peace, with assurance that it shall go better with them, then if they had it: with a spirit inlarged to pray, till they have the thing prayed for? If any of these be; God respects our prayers.

Againe, In that Christ is thus ready to come unto his Garden upon the Churches Invitation, we may further observe; That

Christ vouchsafes his gracious Presence to his Chil­dren,Observ. upon their desire of it.

The point is cleere, from the beginning of the world, the Church hath had the presence of Christ alway. For, either he hath beene pre­sent in Sacrifices, or in some other things, signes of his presence, Exod. 3. 2. as in the Bush, or some more glorious manifestation of his presence,Exod. 25. 22. the Arke, and in the Cloude, Exod. 13. 21. and Pillar of fire, and after that more gloriously in the Temple: he hath ever beene pre­sent with his Church in some signe or evidence of his presence, he delighted to be with the children of men. Sometimes before that, sometimes hee assumed a body and afterward laid it downe againe untill hee came indeed to take our nature [Page 39] upon him never to leave it againe. But, heere is meant, a spirituall presence most of all; which the Church in some sort ever had: now desires, and he offers:Psal. 65. 2. as being a God hearing prayer. And to instance in one place for all to see how rea­dy Christ hath alwaies beene to shew his presence to the Church upon their desire. What else is the burden of the 107. Psalme; but a repetition of Gods readinesse to shew his presence in the Church, upon their seeking unto him, and unfai­ned desire of it: notwithstanding all their mani­fold provocations of him to anger: which is well summed up, Psal. 106. 43. Many times did he deli­ver them, but they provoked him with their counsell, and were brought low for their iniquity. Neverthelesse, hee regarded their affliction when he heard their crie.

It doth not content the Church, That the Church is car­ried from desire to desire. to have a kinde of spirituall presence of Christ; but, It is carried from desire to desire, till the whole desire be accom­plished. For, as their are graduall presences of Christ, so their are sutable desires in the Church which rise by degrees. Christ was present 1 by his gracious Spi­rit. And then 2 more gratiously present in his Incarnation, the sweetest time that ever the Church had from the beginning of the world untill then. It being the desire of nations: for the discription of those who lived before his comming, is from, the waiting for the consolation of Israel, that is, for the first comming of Christ. And then there is a third and more glorious presence of Christ, that all of us wait for, whereby we are described to be such, as waite for the comming of Christ: for the [Page 40] soule of a Christian is never satisfied untill it injoy the highest desire of Christs presence, which the Church knew well enough must follow in time. Therefore she especially desires this spirituall pre­sence, in a larger and fuller measure, which shee in some measure already had. So then, Christ is graciously present in his Church, by his holy Spi­rit.Matth. 28. I will be with you (saith he) unto the end of the world. It is his promise, when I am gone my selfe; I will not leave you comfortlesse, but leave with you my Vicar-Generall; Iohn 16. (the Holy Spirit the Comforter) who shall be alway with you. But

How shall we know that Christ is present in us?Quest.

To know this we shall not need to pull him from heaven,Answ. we may know it in the Word and Sacraments and in the Communion of Saints; How to know that Christ is present in us. for, these are the conveyances whereby he manifests himself, together with the work of his own grati­ous Spirit in us: for, as we need not take the Sunne from Heaven to know whether or not it be up, or be day: which may be knowne by the light, heate, & fruitfullnes of the creature, and as in the Spring, we need not looke to the Heaven to see whether the Sunne be come neere us or not; for looking on the Earth we may see all greene, fresh, lively strong and vigorous. So it is with the presence of Christ, we may know he is present, by that light which is in the soule, convincing us of better cour­ses to be taken, of a spirituall life, to know heaven­ly things, and the difference of them from earth­ly and to set a price upon them. When there is together with light, a heate above nature. The [Page 41] affections are kindled to love the belt things, and to joy in them.

And when together with heate, there is strength and vigor, to carrie us to spirituall duties, framing us to a holy communion with God, and one with another.

And likewise when there is every way cheerefullnes and inlargement of spirit; as it is with the creature when the Sunne approacheth. For these causes, the Church desires Christ, that she may have more light, life, heate, vigor, strength, and that she may be more cheerefull and fruitfull in duties. The soule when it is once made spirituall, doth still de­sire, a further and further presence of Christ, to be made better and better.

What a comfort is this to Christians, that they have the presence of Christ so farre forth, as shall make them happie, and as the earth will af­ford. Nothing but Heaven (or rather Christ in Hea­ven) it selfe, will content the child of God. In the meane time his presence in the Congregation, makes their soules (as it were) Heaven. If the Kings presence, who carries the Court with him, makes all places where he is a Court.That where Christ is pre­sent, there Hea­ven is in some degrees. So Christ he carries a kinde of Heaven with him, whersoever he is, his presence hath with it, life, light, comfort, strength & all. For one beame of his countenance, will scat­ter all the cloudes of griefe whatsoever. It is no matter where we be, so Christ be with us. If with the 3 Children in a fiery furnace; it is no matter, if a fourth be there also. Da [...]. 3. So, if Christ be with us, the flames nor nothing shall hurt us. If in a dungeon [Page 42] as Paul and Sylas were, if Christs presence be there,Act, 15. 52 by his spirit to inlarge our soules; all is comfor­table whatsoever. It changeth the nature of all things, sweetneth every thing, besides that sweet­nesse which it brings unto the soule, by the pre­sence of the spirit, as we see in the Acts, when they had received the Holy Ghost more abundantly, they cared not what they suffered; regarded not whip­ping, nay were glad that they were accounted worthy to suffer anything for Christ. Act. 5. 41. Whence came this fortitude? from the presence of Christ, and the Comforter which he had formerly promised?

So, let us have the spirit of Christ that comes from him;That having Christs presence we need feare nothing. then it is no matter what our conditi­on be in the world: upon this ground let us feare nothing that shall befall us in Gods cause, what­soever it is. We shall have a spirit of prayer at the worst. God never takes away the spirit of Supplication from his children, but leaves them that, untill at length he possesse them fully of their desires. In all Christs delaies, let us looke unto the Cause; and to our Carriage therein: Renew our Repentance, that we may be in a fit state to go to God, and God to come to us. Desire him to fit us for prayer and holy communion with him, that we may never doubt of his presence.

THE SECOND SERMON.

CANT. V. I.‘I am come into my Garden, my Sister, my Spouse: I have gathered my Myrre with my Spice, I have gathered my hony-combe with my ho­ney, I have drunk my wine with my milke: eate O friends, drinke, yea drinke abundantly, O Beloved!’

THIS Song is a mirror of Christs love, a discovery of which wee have in part in this verse. Where­in Christ accepts of the invitation of the Church, and comes into his Garden: and he entertaines her with the termes [Page 44] of Sister and Spouse. SERM. II. Herein observe the descrip­tion of the Church, and the sweet Compellation, [My Sister, my Spouse.] Where there is both Affinity and Consanguinity, all the bonds that may tye us to Chri [...]t and Christ to us.

  • 1. His Sister, by Bloud.
  • 2. His Spouse, by Mariage.

Christ is our Brother, and the Church and every particular true member thereof is his Sister. I go faith Christ, Iohn 20. 17. To my Father and to your Father, to my God and to your God. Go (saith he) and tell my Bre­thren this was after his resurrection, his advance­ment did not change his disposition. Go tell my brethren that left me so unkindly, goe tell Peter that was most unkinde of all, and most cast [...]owne with the sence of it. Hee became our Brother by Incarnation: For, all our union is from the first union of two natures in one person Christ became bone of our bone, and fl [...]sh of our flesh; to make us spiritually bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh.

Therefore let us labour to be like to him, who for that purpose became like to us Immanuell God with us,Isa 7. 14. 2. Pet. 1. 4. that we might be like him, and and par­take of the divine Nature. Whom should we rather desire to be like then one so great so gracious so loving?

Againe, Christ was not ashamed to call us Bre­thren, nor abhorred the Virgins wombe, to be shut up in those dark cells and streites: but tooke our base nature, when it was at the worst, and not on­ly our nature, but our miserable condition and [Page 45] cur [...]e [...] unto us. Was not he ashamed of us, and shall we be ashamed to owne him and his cause? Against this Cowardize it is a thunderbolt, which our Saviour Christ pronounceth.Mark. 8. 38. He that is ashamed of me before men, him will I be ashamed of b [...]fore my Father, and all the holy Angels. It ar­gues a base disposition, either for frowne or fa­vour to desert a good cause in evill times.

Againe, It is a point of comfort to know that we have a Brother, who is a favourite in Heaven, who though he abased himselfe for us, is yet Lord over all. Unlesse he had beene our Brother, he could not have beene our husband, for Husband and Wife should be of one nature. That he might marie us, therefore he came, and tooke our nature, so to be fitted to fulfill the worke of our Redemp­tion. But now he is in Heaven, set downe at the right hand of God: the true Ioseph, the high Steward of Heaven, he hath all power commit­ted unto him, hee rules all. What a comfort is this to a poore soule that hath no friends in the world, that yet he hath a friend in Heaven, that will owne him for his Brother, in, and through whom he may goe to the Throne of Grace bold­ly and powre out his soule.Heb. 4. 15, 16. What a comfort was it to Iosephs brethren that their brother was the second person in the kingdome?

Againe, It should be a Motive to have good Chri­stians in high estimation, and to take heed how we wrong them, for their Brother will take their part. Saul Saul why persecutest thou me? [...]aith the head in Heaven,Acts 9. 4 when his members were troden on [Page 46] upon earrh. It is more to wrong a Christian, then the world takes it for; for Christ takes it as done to himselfe. Absolom was a man wicked, and unnaturall, yet hee could not endure the wrong that was done to his sister Thamar. Iacobs sonnes tooke it as a high indignity, that their si­ster should be so abused. Hath Christ no affections now he is in Heaven, to her that is so neere him as the Church is? howsoever he suffer men to tiranize over her for a while, yet it will ap­peare ere long, that he will take the Churches part, for, he is her Brother.

My Sister, my Spouse.

The Church is the Daughter of a King, begotten of God,The Churches Royall discent. the Sister, and Spouse of a King, because she is the Sister, and Spouse of Christ, and the Mo­ther of all that are spirituall Kings; the Church of Christ is every way Royall. Therefore, we are Kings, because we are Christians. Hence the Holy Ghost doth add heere to Sister, Spouse: indeed taking the advantage of such Relations as are most comfortable to set out the excellent, and transcendent Relation, that is betweene Christ, and his Church, all other are not what they are termed so much as glasses to see better things. Riches, Beautie, Mariage, Nobility, &c. are scarce worthy of their names; these are but Titles, and empty things, though our base nature make great matters of them, yet the reality and substance of all these are in Heavenly things. True Riches, are the heavenly Graces, true Nobility is [Page 47] to be borne of God, to be the Sister and Spouse of Christ, True pleasures are those of the Spirit, which endure for ever, and will stand by us, when all outward comforts will vanish.W [...]y the varie­ty of Christs love to the Church, is so di­versly expressed That mysticall union and sweet communion is set downe with such variety of expressions, to shew, that whatsoe­ver is scattered in the Creature severally, is in Him in­tirely. He is both a friend, and a Brother, a Head, and a Husband to us, therefore hee takes the names of all, whence we may observe further,

That The Church is the Spouse of Christ. Observ. It springs out of him, even as Eve taken out of Adams Rib; (so the Spouse of Christ) was ta­ken out of his side (when it was pierced) the Church rose out of his Bloud, and Death; for he Redeemed it, by satisfying divine justice: we being in such a Condition, that Christ must Redeeme us, before he could wed us. First, he must be incarnate in our Nature, before he could be a fit husband; and then, because we were in Bondage and Captivity, we must be Redeemed before hee could marrie us: hee purchased his Church with his owne bloud. Act. 20. 28. Christ hath right to us, he bought us dearely.

Againe, another foundation of this Marriage be­tweene Christ and us, is Consent; he workes us by his Spirit to yeeld to him, there must be consent on our part, which is not in us by nature, but wrought by his spirit, &c. We yeeld to take him upon his owne tearmes; that is,How Christ must be taken of us. that we shall leave our fathers house, all our former carnall acquain­tance, when he hath wrought our consent, then [Page 48] the marriage betweene him and us is strooke up.

1 Some few resemblances will make the consi­deration of this the more comfortable. 1. The Husband takes his wife under his owne name, she loo­sing her owne name is called by his. So we are 2 called Christians of Christ. 2. The Wife is ta­ken with all her debt, and made partaker of the ho­nours, and Riches of her Husband. Whatsoever hee hath is hers, and he stands answerable for all her debts, so it is heere, we have not only the name of Christ upon us, but we partake his honours, Revel. 1. 5, 6. and are Kings, Priests, and Heires with him. What­soever he hath, he hath taken us into the fellow­ship of it; so that his Riches, are ours, and like­wise, whatsoever is ours, that is ill, he hath taken it upon him, even the wrath due to us, for hee came betweene that and us,2 Cor. 5. 21. when he was made sinne, and a curse for us; so There is a blessed change betweene Christ and us; his honours and Riches are ours; We have nothing to bestow on him, but our Beggery, sinnes, and miseries, which he tooke upon him.

3 Those that bring together these two different par­ties, are the friends of the Bride; that is, the Mini­sters, as it is Iohn 3. 23. They are the paranymphi the friends of the Bride,The duty of Ministers. that learne of Christ what to report to his Spouse, and so they wooe for Christ; and open the Riches, Beauty, honour, and all that is lovely in him, which is indeed the especiall duty of Ministers, to lay open his unsearchable Riches, that the Church may know what a Hus­band [Page 49] she is like to have, if she cleave to him, and what an one she leaves, if she forsake him. It was well said in the Counsell of Basil out of Ber­nard, Nemo committit sponsam suam Vicario; nemo enim Ecclesiae sponsus est; None commits his wife to a Vicar, for none is the husband of the Church. To be Husband of the Church is one of the in­communicable titles of Christ, yet usurped by the Pope. Innocent the third was the first that wronged Christs bed by challenging the title of Sponsus, Husband of the Church. Bernard forbids his scholler Eugenius this title, Epist. 237. ad Euge­nium. It is enough for Ministers to be friends of the Bride. Let us yeeld him to be Husband of the Church that hath given himselfe to sanctifie it with washing of water and blood, Ephes. 5. 26. we are a wife of blood to him.

In this sweet Conjunction we must know, that by nature, we are cleane otherwaises then Spouses for what was Salomons wife Pharoahs daughter? a Heathen, till shee came to be Salomons Spouse. And as we reade in Moses the strange woman must have her haire cut off, and her nayles pared, be­fore she should be taken into the Church, there must bee an alteration; so before the Church (which is not Hesthenish, but indeed Hellish by nature, and led by the spirit of the world) be fit to be the Spouse of Christ, Isa. 11. 7, 8. there must be an alte­ration and a change of nature;Iohn 3. 3. Christ must alter, renew, Purge, and fit us for himselfe, the Apo­stle saith, Ephes. 5. 16, it was the end of his death, not onely to take us to Heaven, but to sanctifie [Page 50] us on Earth, and prepare us that we might be fit Spouses for himselfe.

Let us oft thinke of this nearenesse betweene Christ and us Vse. 1. (if we have once given our names to him) and not be discouraged for any sinne,Consolation. or unwor­thinesse in us.Vxori [...] non intenditur. Who sues a wife for debt, when she is married? Therefore answer all accusations Thus; Goe to Christ; if you have any thing to say to me, go to my husband; God is just, but he will not have his [...]ustice twice satisfied, seeing whatsoever is due thereunto, is satisfied by Christ our Husband? What a comfort is this to a distressed Consci­ence; if sinne cannot dismay us, which is the ill of ills and cause of all evill, what other ill can dis­may us? He that exhorts us to beare with the infirmities one of another, and hath enjoyned the husband to beare with the wife (as the weaker vessell) will not he beare with his Church (as the1 Pet. 3. 7. weaker vessell) performing the duty of an hus­band in all our infirmities?

Againe, His desire is to make her better, and not to cast her away for that which is amisse. And for Outward ills, they are but to refine, and make us more conformable to Christ our Husband, to fit us for heaven, the same way that he went. They have a blessing in them all, for he takes away all that is hurtfull, he pitties, and keepes us as the apple of his eye. Zach. 2. 8. Therefore, let us often thinke of this, since he hath vouchsafed to take us so neere to himselfe. Let us not loose the comfort that this meditation will yeeld us. We love for good­nesse, beauty, riches, but Christ loves us to make [Page 51] us so, and then loves us because we are so in all estates whatsoever.

And if Christ be so neere us, Vse 3. Let us labour for chast judgements, that we doe not defile them with errours, seeing the whole soule is espoused to Christ, Verit [...]s est spōs [...] intellectu [...] Truth is the Spouse of our understandings it is not left to us to be wanton in opinions to take up what conceipt we will of things, so we ought to have chast affections not cleaving to base things, it hath beene oft times seene, that one husband hath had many wives, but never from the beginning of the world, that one wife hath had many husbands. God promiseth to betroth his Church to him in righteousnes & faithfullness, that is, as he will be faithfull to her, so she shall by his grace be faithfull to him, faithfullnes shall be mutuall, the Church shall not be false to Christ; so there is no Christian [...]oule must think to have ma­ny husbands; for Christ in this case is a jealous hus­band. Take heed therfore of spirituall harlotrie of heart, for our affections are for Christ, and cannot be better bestowed. In other things we loose our love, & the things loved; but heer we loose not our love, but this is a perfecting love, which drawes us to love that which is better, then our selves. We are, as we affect, our affections are, as their Ob­jects be, if they be set upon better things,That our affe­ctions are like their objects. then our selves, they are bettered by it, they are never rightly bestowed, but when they are set upon Christ; and upon other things as they answer, and stand with the love of Christ. For, the prime love, when it is rightly bestowed, it orders, and regu­lates [Page 52] all other loves whatsoever. No man knowes how to use earthly things, but a Christian, that hath first pitched his love on Christ, then seeing all things in him, and in all them a beame of that love of his, intending happinesse to him, so he knowes how to use every thing in order. There­fore let us keepe our Communion with Christ, and esteeme nothing more, then his love, because he esteemes nothing more then ours.

But how shall we know, whether we be espoused to Christ, or not?Quest.

Our hearts can tell us, whether we yeeld con­sent to him, or not.Answ. 1 In particular, whether wee have received him,How to know if we [...]e espoused to Christ or not as he will be received, as a right Husband, that is, Whether we receive him to be ruled by him, to make him our Head. For the wife, when shee yeelds to be married, therewith also surrenders up her owne will to be ruled by her husband; so farre she hath denied her owne will, she hath no will of her owne. Christ hath wisedome enough for us, and himselfe too, whose wisedome, and will must be ours; To be led by di­vine Truths so farre, as they are discovered unto us, and to submit our selves thereunto, is a signe of a gra­tious heart, that is married to Christ.

2 Againe, a willingnesse to follow Christ in all con­ditions as he is discovered in the Word. The right dis­position of the Spouse of Christ To suffer Christ to have the soveraignty in our affections, above all other things and persons in the world. This is the right disposition of a true Spouse. For as it was at the first institution, there must be a lea­ving of Father, and Mother, and all, to cleave to [Page 53] the husband: so heere, when any thing and Christ cannot stand together, or else we shall never have the comfort of this sweete Name. Many men will be glad to owne Christ to be great by him, (but as S Austin complaines in his his time) Christ Iesus is not loved for Iesus his owne sake,Vix diligitur Iesus propter Iesum. but for other things, that he brings with him, peace, plen­ty, &c. as farre as it stands with these content­ments; if Christ and the world part once, it will be knowne which we followed. In times of peace this is hardly discerned. If he will pay mens debts, so as they may have the credit and glory of the name to be called Christians, if hee will redeeme them from the danger of sinne, all is well; but onely such have the comfort of this Com­munion, as love him for himselfe. Let us not so much trouble our selves about signes as be care­full to doe our duty to Christ, and then will Christ discover his love cleerely unto us.

Now, they that are not brought so neere to this happy condition by Christ, may yet have this in­couragement,Vse 4. there is yet place of grace for them,Incouragement and direction for such as are not yet in Christ let them therefore consider but these three things.

  • 1. The excellency of Christ, and of the state of the Church, when it is so neare him.
  • 2. The necessity of this to be so neare him.
  • 3. That there is hope of it.

There is in Christ whatsoever may commend a Husband, birth, comelinesse, riches, friends, wis­dome, authority, &c.

The Excellencie of this condition to be one with 1 [Page 54] Christ, is that all things are ours. For he is the King, and the Church the Queene of all, all things are serviceable to us, it is a wond [...]ro [...]s nearenesse to be nearer to Christ, hen the Angels, who are not his body, but servants that atend upon the Church: the Bride is nearer to him,Heb. 2. 16. then the An­gels, for, he is the Head, and Husband thereof, and not of the Angels. What an excellent condition is this for poore flesh and bloud, (that creeps up and downe the earth here despised.)

2 But especially, If we consider the Necessity of it, we are all indebted for more then we are worth; to divine justice we owe a debt of obedience, and in want of that we owe a debt of punishment and we cannot answer one for a thousand. What will become of us if we have not a husband to dis­charge all our debts but to bee imprisoned for ever?

A person that is a stranger to Christ though he were an Achitophel for his braine, a Iudas for his Profession, a Saul for his place. Yet if his sinnes be set before him he will be swallowed up of de­spaire, fearing to be shut up eternally under Gods wrath; therefore if nothing else move, yet let ne­cessity compell us to take Christ.

3 Consider not onely how sutable and how necessary he is unto us, but what hope there is to have him, when as he sueth to us by his messen­gers, and woeth us when as we should rather seeke to him, and with other messengers sendeth a privy messenger, his Holy Spirit to incline our hearts; let us therefore as we love our soules, [Page 55] suffer our selves to be won. But more of this in another place. The next Branch is

3. Christs Acceptation, Christs accep­tation. I have gathered my Myrrh with my Spice, &c. So that together with Christs presence, here is a Gratious acceptation of the provisi­on of the Church, with a delight in it; and withall, a bringing of more with Him. The Church had a double desire, 1 That Christ would come to accept of what shee had for him of his owne Grace, which he had wrought in her soule. And 2 shee was also verily perswaded, that he would not come empty handed, only to accept of what was there, but also would bring abundance of Grace and comfort with him. Therefore, shee desires, Acceptation and Increase: both which de­sires He answers. He comes to his Garden, shewes his acceptation, and withall he brings more. I have gathered my Myrrh with my Spice, I have eaten my honey-combe with my honey: I have drunke my wine with my milke, &c. Whence we observe,

That God accepts of the Graces of his Children,Observ. and delights in them.

First, Because they are the fruits that come from 1 his Children, his Spouse, his friend, love of the per­son wins acceptance of that which is presented from the person. What comes from love is lovingly taken.

They are the Graces of his Spirit. If we have any 2 thing, that is good all comes from the spirit, which is first in Christ our Husband, and then in us.Psal. 133. As the Oyntment was first powred on Aarons head, and then ran downe upon his rich [Page 56] Garments: so all comes from Christ to us. Saint Paul calls the wife the Glory of her Husband, be­cause (as in a glasse) she resembleth the Graces of her husband, who may see his owne Graces in her, so it is with Christ and the Church; face answereth to face (as Salomon [...]aith in another case) Christ sees his owne face, beauty, glory in his Church, she reflects his Beames, he lookes in love upon her, and alwaies with his lookes con­veyes Grace, and comfort; and the Church doth reflect backe againe his Grace; Therefore Christ loves but the reflection of his owne Graces in his Children, and therefore accepts them.

3. His kindnesse is such as he takes all in good part, Christ is love and kindnesse it selfe. Why doth he give unto her the name of Spouse, and Si­ster but that he would be kinde, and loving, and that we should conceave so of him? We see then the Graces of Christ accepting of us and what we do in his strength. Both we our selves are sacrifi­ces, and what we offer is a sacrifice acceptable to God thorough him that offered himself as a sacri­fice of sweet smelling savour, from which God smells a savour of rest. God accepts of Christ first & then of us, and what comes from us in him. We may bouldly pray as Psal. 20. 3. Lord remember all our offerings and accept all our sacrifices. The blessed Apostle Saint Paul doth will us,Rom. 12. 1. to offer up our selves a holy and acceptable Sacrifice to God, when we are once in Christ. In the Old Testa­ment we have divers manifestations of this ac­ceptation. He accepted the Sacrifice of Abel (as it [Page 57] is thought) by fire from Heaven; and so Eliahs sacrifice, and Salomons by fire.1 King. 18. 18. So in the New Testament,1 Chron. 21. 2. he shewed his acceptation of the Disciples meeting together,Acts 2. 1. by a mighty wind and then filling them with the Holy Ghost. But now the declaration of the acceptation of our Persons, Graces, and Sacrifice, that we offer to him, is most in peace of conscience and joy in the Holy Ghost, and from a holy fire of love kindled by the spirit whereby our sacrifices are burned. In the incense of prayer how many sweet spices are burned to­gether by this fire of faith working by love, as humility, and patience in submitting to Gods will, hope of a gratious answer, holinesse, love to others, &c.

If so be,Vse 1. that God accepts the performances and Graces (especially the Prayers of his Chil­dren) Let it be an Argument to incourage us, to bee much in all holy duties. It would dead the heart of any man, to performe service, where it should not be accepted, and the eye turned aside, not vouchsafing a gratious looke upon it; this would be a killing of all comfortable endeavours. But when all that is good is accepted, and what is amisse is pardoned, when a broken desire, a cup of cold water shall not goe unrespected nay unrewarded, what can we desire more? It is infidelity which is dishonorable to God and un­comfortable to our selves that makes us so bar­ren and cold in duties.

Onely let our care be to approve our hearts unto Christ. Vse 2. When our hearts are right, wee [Page 58] cannot, but thinke comfortably of Christ. Those that have offended some great Persons, are afraid▪ when they heare from them, because they thinke, they are in a state displeasing to them; So a soule, that is under the guilt of any sinne, is so farre from thinking that God accepts of it, that it lookes to heare nothing from him, but some message of anger, and displeasure. But one that preserves acquaintance, due distance, and respect to a great person, heares from him with comfort before he breakes open a letter, or sees any thing, he supposes it comes from a friend, one that loves him. So as we would desire to heare nothing but good newes from Heaven, and acceptation of all that we doe, let us be carefull to preserve our selves in a good estate, or else our soules will tremble upon any discovery of Gods wrath.The discourse of a guilty con­science. The guilty conscience argues, what can God shew to me, being such a wretch. The heart of such an one cannot but misgive, as where peace is made it will speake comfort. It is said of Daniel, that he was a man of Gods desires; and of Saint Iohn, that Christ so loved him, that he leaned on his breast. Every one cannot bee a Daniel, nor one that leanes on Christs bosome, there are degrees of favour, and love: but there is no child of God, but he is beloved and accepted of him in some degree, but something of this be­fore in the former Chapter.

I have gathered my Myrrh with my Spice; I have eaten my honey-combe with my honey, &c.

[Page 59]That is, I have taken Contentment in thy Gra­ces together with acceptation, there is a delight, and God not onely accepts, but he delights in [...]he Gra­ces of his Children. All my delight (saith David) is in those that are excellent, but this is not all, Christ comes with an inlargement of what hee findes.

Christ comes, and comes not empty; when­soever he comes, but with abundance of Grace. If Saint Paul (who was but Christs instrument) could tell the Romanes, Rom. 15. 29. I hope to come to you in abun­dance of Grace and comfort, because he was a blessed instrument to convey good from Christ to the people of God, as a Conduit-pipe? How much more shall Christ himselfe, where he is present, come with Graces and comfort? Those that have communion with Christ therefore, have a comfortable communion, being sure to have it inlarge [...],Mat. 25. 29. for To him that hath shall be given. It is not onely true of his last comming (when hee shall come to judge the quicke and the dead) I come, and my reward is with me; Revel. 22. 12. but also of all his intermediate commings, that are betweene, when he comes to the soule, he comes not onely to ac­cept what is there, but still with his reward with him, the increase of Grace, to recompence all that is good with the increase thereof. This made his presence so desired in the Gospell with those that had gracious hearts; They knew all was the better for Christ, the company the bet­ter, for he never left any house, or table where he was, but there was an increase of comfort, and [Page 60] of Grace. And as it was in his Personall, so it is in his Spirituall presence, he never comes▪ but he in­creases Grace and Comfort. Exhortation to have Communi­on with Christ.

Therefore, let us be stirred up to have commu­nion with Christ (by this motive) that thus w [...]e shal have an increase of a further measure of grace. Let us labour to be such, as Christ may delight in, for our Graces are Honey and Spices to him, and where he tasts sweetnesse, he will bring more with him. To him that overcommeth, he pro­miseth the hidden Mannah; they had Mannah before, but he meanes they shall have more abun­dant communion with me,Revel. 2. 17. who am the hidden Mannah. There is abundance in him to be had, as the soule is capable of abundance. Therefore we may most fruitfully and comfortably be con­versant in holy exercises, and communion with Christ, because our soules are fit to be inlarged more and more, till they have their fullnesse in heaven, and still there is more Grace and Com­fort to be had in Christ, the more we have to deale with him.

But to come to shew what is meant by Honey and Wine, &c.W [...]y Grace is set forth by Ho­ney and Wine. not to take uncertaine grounds from these words, but that which may be a founda­tion for us to build comfort and instruction on; we will not shew in particular what is meant by Wine and Honey, for that is not intended by the Holy Ghost; but shew in generall how accepta­ble the Graces of the Spirit of Christ are to him, that they feed him, and delight him, as hony and hony doe us, because in the covenant of grace, he [Page 61] filleth us by his Spirit of grace, to have comfort in us as we have in him. For, except there be a mu­tuall joy in one another, there is not communion. There­fore Christ furnisheth his Church with so much Grace, as is necessary for a state of absence heere, that may fit her for communion with him for ever in heaven.Ge [...]. 2 [...]. 22. As Isaack sent Rebe [...]ah before the marriage Iewells, and ornaments to weare, that she might be more lovely when they met. So our blessed Saviour he sends to his Spouse from heaven, Iewells, and ornaments (that is) Gra­ces wherewith adorned, he may delight in her more and more till the mariage be fulfilled. Therefore in this Booke, the Church is brought in delighting in Christ, and he in the Church. Thy love (saith the Church to him) is sweeter then wine. Cant. 1. 2. Christ saith to the Church againe, Thy love is swee­ter then wine. Whatsoever Christ saith to the Church, the Church saith backe againe to Christ, and he backe againe to the Church; so there is a mu­tuall contentment, and joy one in another.

Eate O friends, Drinke, &c.

Heere is an Invitation; That all are stirred up to rejoyce in the Graces of the Church. when he comes stored with more Grace, and comfort, he stirs them up; both the Church, others, and all that beare good will to his People that they would delight in the Graces, and comforts of his Church. Whence observe, That

We ought to rejoyce in the Comforts and Graces of others,Observ. [...]nd of our selves.

He stirreth up the Church heere as well as [Page 60] [...] [Page 61] [...] [Page 62] others, for he speakes to all, both to the Church, and the friends of it, he had need to stirre her up to injoy the comfort of her owne Grace; for They are two distinct benefits, to have Grace; and to know that wee have it, though one spirit worke both. 1 Cor. 2, 12. The spirit workes Grace, and shewes us the things that God hath given us, yet some­times it doth the one, and not the other. In the time of desertion, and of Temptation we have Grace, but we know it not; right to comfort, but we feele it not. There is no comfort of a secret unknowne trea­sure: but so it is with the Church, she doth not al­waies take notice of her owne Graces, and the right she hath to Comfort.

We have need to have Christs spirit to helpe us to know what good is in us. And indeed a Christian should not onely examine his heart for the evill that is in him, to be humbled, but what good there is, that he may joy and be thankfull. And since Christ accepts the very first fruits, the earnest, and delights in them, we should know what hee delights in, that we may go boldly to him, con­sidering, that it is not of our selves, but of Christ, whatsoever is gratiously good. Therefore wee ought to know our owne Graces, for Christ, when he will have us comfortable indeed, will discover to us what Cause we have to rejoyce, and shew us, what is the worke of his owne Spirit, and our right to all comfort.

And so, for others, we should not onely joy in our selves,That we ought to rejoyce in the graces of others. and in our owne Condition, and Lot, but also in the happy condition of every good [Page 63] Christian. There is joy in heaven at the conver­sion of one sinner.Luke 15, 10. [...] God the Father joyes to have a new So [...]ne. God the Sonne to see the fruit of his owne Redemption, that one is pulled out of the state of damnation. And God the Holy Ghost, that he hath a new Temple to dwell in. The Angels, that they have a new charge to looke to, that they had not before, to joyne with them to praise God, so there is joy in heaven, the Father, Sonne, and Holy Ghost with the Angels joy at it: And all True hearted Christians joy in the graces one of another.

For God, Christ,Reason 1.and the Holy Ghost have glory by it, and the Church hath 2 comfort by the increase 2 of a Saint. The prayer of a Christian adds new 3 strength to the Church: what a happy condition is it when Gods glory, the Churches comfort and strength, and our owne joy meet together? So that we should all take notice of the Grace of God in others.

We ought to take notice of the workes of God in creation and providence; when we see plants, starres, and such like, or else we dishonour God. What then should we doe for his gifts and Gra­ces in his children, that are above these in digni­ty, should we not take notice of what is gratiously good, and praise-God for it? Thus they did for Pauls conversion, They glorified God; for when they saw,Gal. 1. 24. that Paul of a Woolfe, was become not only a sheep, but a Shepheard and leader of Gods flocke, they glorified God.

So the beleeving Iewes, when the Gentiles were [Page 64] converted they glorified God, that he had taken the Gentiles to be his Garden, and People. Act 11. 18 When Paul and others had planted the Gospell, and God gave the increase, the godly Iewes rejoyced at that good. So we that are Gentiles should rejoyce, to heare of the conversion of the Iewes, and pray for it, for, then there will be a generall joy when that is. Want of joy shewes want of grace. There is not a surer Character of a Satanicall, and Cainish disposition, then to looke on the Graces of Gods children with a malignant eye: as Caine, who hated his Brother, because his workes were bet­ter then his. Those that deprave the Graces of God in others, and cloud them with disgraces, that they may not shine, and will not have the sweet ointment of their good names to spread, but cast dead flies into it, shew that they are of his disposition that is the accuser of the Brethren, it is a signe of the child of the divel, all that have Grace in them, are of Christs and of the An­gels disposition, They joy at the Conversi­on, and growth of any Christians: Here such as they are stiled friends and Beloved, and indeed none but friends and beloved can love as Christ loves, and de­light as Christ delights.

THE THIRD SERMON.SERM. III.

CANT. V. 1, 2.

I am come into my Garden, my Sister, my Spouse: I have gathered my Myrre with my Spice, I have eaten my hony-combe with my ho­ney, I have drunk my wine with my milke: eate O friends, drinke, yea, drinke abundant­ly, O Beloved!

I sleepe, but my heart waketh,&c.

IT hath beene shewed how Christ and the Church were feasting together. Shee entreated his company to come into his Garden and eat his pleasant fruits: He according to her desire, was come, and [Page 66] not onely feasted on the Churches provision, but also brought more with him. Christ taking walks in his Garden (that is, his Church, and every par­ticular soule, which is as a sweet Paradise for him to delight in) is much refreshed: and in wi [...]nesse of acceptance brings increase. What greater in­couragement can we wish, then that we being by nature as the earth, since the fall accursed; should be the soile of Christs delight, planted and watered by him, and that what we yeeld, should be so well taken of him. We are under so graci­ous a covenant, that all our services are accepted: not onely our hony, but hony-combe, not onely our wine, but our milke, our weake services as well as our strong: because the spirit which we have from him sweetneth all. As in Nature there is one common influence from heaven, but yet va­riety of flowers, Violets, Roses, Gill [...]flowers, Spices, all sweet in their severall kind with a dif­ferent kind of sweetnesse: so all graces have their beginning from the common influence of Christs spirit, though they differ one from another, and are all accepted of the Father of lights from whence they come.Iames 1. 17. Christ wonders at his owne grace,Luk. 15. 28. O woman great is thy faith, and Cant. 3. 6. Who is this that commeth out of the wildernesse like pillars of smoake, perfumed with myrrh and frankin­cense, with all powders of the Merchant?

Let not the weakest of all others be discoura­ged; Christ lookes not to what he brings so much as out of what store; that which is least in quan­tity, Luk. 21. 3. may be most in proportion, as the Widowes [Page 67] mite was more in acceptance then richer offe­rings. Levit. 5. 7. A paire of turtle doves was accepted in the Law,Exod. 35. 6. and those that brought but goats haire to the building of the Tabernacle.

The particulars here specified that Christ took delight in, and inviteth others to a further degree of delight in, are

Myrrhe and Spice, hony and hony-combe, milke

Which shew,
  • 1. The Sweetnesse
  • 2. The variety
  • 3. The use
  • of grace and Spirituall cō ­fort.

Myrrhe and Spices, I refresh the spirits, and 2 preserve from putrefaction: which are there­fore used in embalming. If the soule be not em­balmed with grace, it is a noisome carrion soule, and as it is in it selfe, so whatsoever commeth from it is abominable.

Milke and hony nourish and strengthen, and Wine increaseth spirits; and thereupon incoura­geth, and allayeth sorrow and cares.Pro. 31. 6. Give wine to him that is ready to die. The sence of the love of Christ is sweeter then wine, it banisheth feares and sorrow and care.

From this mutuall delight betweene Christ and his Spouse we observe next that,

There is a mutuall feasting betwixt Christ and his Church, The Church bringeth what she hath of his Spirit, and Christ comes with more plenty.

For there being so neere a covenant betweene him and us, we are by his grace to performe all offices on our part, we invite him, and he inviteth [Page 68] us. There is not the meanest Christian in whom there is not somewhat to welcome Christ with­all, but Christs sends his provision before, and comes (as we say) to his owne cost; he sends a spirit of faith, a spirit of love, a spirit of obedience. Some are content to invite others but are loth to goe to others, as if it were against state: they would have wherewith to entertaine Christ, but are unwilling to be beholding to Christ. 2. Some are content to have benefit by Christ, as his righ­teousnesse to cover them, &c. but they desire not grace to entertaine Christ: but a heart truly gra­cious desireth both to delight in Christ, and that Christ may delight in it; it desireth grace toge­ther with mercy, holinesse with happinesse. Christ could not delight in his love to us, if we by his grace had not a love planted in our hearts to him. But to come to speake of this Feast.

We see it pleaseth Christ to vaile heavenly matters with comparisons fetcht from earthly things that so he may enter into our soules the better by our sences.

I Christ maketh us a feast, a marriage feast, a mar­riage feast with the Kings sonne, of all feasts the most magnificent. A feast first in regard of the choise rarities we have in Christ. We have the best and the best of the best. Fat things and the marrow of fatnesse, Isa. 25. 6. wine, and wine on the lees, refined that preserveth the strength. The comfor [...]s wee have from Christ, are the best comforts, the peace, the best peace, the priviledges the highest priviledges. His flesh crucified for us, to satisfie [Page 69] divine justice, is meate indeed, his blood shed for us,Ioh, 6. 55. is drinke indeed, that is the best, the only meate and drinke to refresh our soules: because these feed our soules, and that to eternall life. The love of God the Father in giving Christs to death, and Christs love in giving himselfe together with full contentment to divine justice: this gift it is that the soule especially feeds on, what could Christ give better then himselfe to feed on, he thought nothing els worthy for the soule to feed on, and this it daily feeds on, as daily guilt riseth from the breakings out of the remainder of cor­ruption. Other dainties are from this, from hence we have the Spirit, and graces of the Spi­rit. If he giveth himselfe will he not give all things with himselfe?

As Christ maketh a feast of choise things for his elect and choise Spouse, so there is variety as in a feast.1 Cor. 1. 30. Christ is made to us of God, Wisedome, Righteousnesse, Sanctification, and Redemption, that we should not be too much cast downe with thought of our owne folly, guilt, unholinesse and misery. There is that in Christ which answereth to all our wants, and an all sufficiency for all de­grees of happinesse. Therefore he hath termes from whatsoever is glorious, and comfortable in heaven and earth. Christ is all marrow all sweetnes; all the severall graces, and comforts we have, and the severall promises whereby they are made over and conveyed unto us, are but Christ dished out in severall manners, as the need of every Chri­stian shall require. Christ himselfe is the Occan, [Page 70] issuing into severall streames, to refresh the city of God. We can be in no condition, but we have a promise to feed on, and all promises are yea and Amen made to us in Christ 2. Col. 1. 20. and performed to us for Christ.

3 Therefore as we have in Christ a feast for va­riety, so for sufficiency of all good. No man goeth hungry from a feast. It was never heard for any to famish at a feast. In Christ there is not onely abundance, but redundance, a diffusive and a spreading goodnesse. As in breasts to give milke, in clouds to drop downe showers, in the sun to send forth beames: as Christ is full of grace and truth, so he fully dischargeth all his offices. There is an overflowing of all that is good for our good. He that could multiply bread for the body, he can multiply grace for our soule.Ioh. 10. 10. If he giveth life, he giveth it in abun­dance. If he giveth water of life, Ioh. 7. 38. he giveth rivers, not small streames. If he giveth peace and joy, he giveth it in abundance, his scope is to fill up our joy to the full. As he is able, so is he willing to doe for us farre more abundantly then we are able to thinke or speake. Ephes. 3. 20. Where Christ is present he brin­geth plenty with him. If wine be wanting at the first, he will rather turne water into wine, then there should be a faile.

4 In a feast there is variety of friendly compa­ny: so heere friends are stirred up to refresh themselves with us. We have the blessed Trini­ty, the Angells and all our fellow members in Christ to come with us.

[Page 71]There is no envie in spirituall things, wherein whatsoever the one hath the other hath not the lesse.

In a feast because it is intended for rejoycing there is musicke, and what musicke like to the 5 sweete harmony betweene God reconciled in Christ and the soule, and betweene the soule and it selfe in inward peace and joy of the Holy Ghost, shedding the love of Christ in the soule. We doe not onely joy but glory under hope of glory,Rom. 6. 5. 2. 3. 10. and in afflictions, and in God now as ours, in whom now by Christ we have an interest. When we come sorrowfull to this feast, we de­part chearfull. This as Davids harpe stills all passions and distempers of spirit.

The founder and master of the feast is Christ himselfe, and withall is both guest and and ban­quet and all. All graces and comforts are the fruits of his Spirit, and he alone that infused the soule, can satisfie the soule, he that is above the conscience can onely quiet the conscience, he is that wisdome that sends forth maides, Pro. 9. 3. his Mini­sters to invite to his feast. It is he that cheereth up his guests as here. Those that invited others brought oin [...]ment and powred it out upon them, to shew their welcome, and to cheere them up:Luk. 7. 44. as may appeare by our Saviours speech to the Pharisee that invited him. So we have from Christ both the oyle of grace and oyle of glad­nesse, he creates the fruits of the lips to be peace, Isa. 57. 19. speaking that peace and joy to the heart that others do to the eare.Ier. 3. 15. He raiseth Pastors accor­ding [Page 72] to his owne heart, to feed his sheepe.

The vessels wherein Christ conveyeth his dainties are, the ministery of the Word and Sacra­ments, by the Word and Sacraments we come to enjoy Christ, and his comforts and graces, and by this feast of grace we come at length to the feast of feasts, that feast of glory, when we shall be satisfied with the image of God, and enjoy fullnesse of pleasures for [...]vermore, and which adds to the fullnesse we shall fully know that it shall be a never interrupted joy.

We see then that we cannot please Christ bet­ter then in shewing our selves welcome by cheerefull taking part of his rich provision It is an honour to his bounty to fall too, and it is the temper of spirit that a Christian aimes at, to rejoyce alwaies in the Lord, Phil. 4 4. and that from injoying our priviledges in him. We are not bidden to mourne alwaies, but to rejoyce alwaies, and that upon good advisement, rejoyce and I say againe (saith Saint Paul) rejoyce. Phil. 4. 4. Indeed we have causes of mourning, but it is that the seed of joy should be sowne in mourning, and we can never be in so forlorne a condition, wherein if we understand Christ and our selves we have not cause of joy. In me (saith Christ) yee shall have peace. The world will feed us with bread of affliction. Ioh. 16. 33. If the world can helpe it we shall have sorrow enough, and Christ knowes that well enough, and stirres us up to a cheerefull feeding on that he hath pro­cured for us. He hath both will and skill and power and authority to feed us to everlasting [Page 73] life; for the Father sent him forth and sealed him to that purpose. All the springs of our joy are from him.

Our duty is to accept of Christs inviting of us, what will we doe for him if we will not feast with him, we will not suffer with him, if we will not feast with him, we will not suffer with him, if we will not joy with him and in him. Happy are they that come, though compelled by crosses and other sharp waies. If we rudely and chur­lishly refuse his feast heere, we are like never to taste of his feast hereafter. Nothing provokes so deepely as kindnesse despised. It was the cause of the Iewes rejection.Heb. 2. 3. How shall we escape, not if we persecute, but if we doe but neglect so great salvation.

That which we should labour to bring with us, is a taste of these dainties, & an appetite to them. The soule hath a taste of its owne, and as all creatures that have life, have a tast to relish and distinguish of that which is good for them, from that which is offensive: so wheresoever spiri­tuall life is, there is likewise a taste sutable to the sweet relish that is in spirituall things. God should loose the glory of many excellent creatures, if there were not severall sences to discerne of se­verall goodnesse in them: so if there were not a taste in the soule we could never delight in God, and his rich goodnesse in Christ.

Tast is the most necessary sence for the preser­vation of the creature, because there is nearest application in taste, and that we should not be [Page 74] deceived in taste, we heare, see and smell before, and if these sences give a good report of the ob­ject,Omnis vite gu­stu ducitur. then we taste of it and digest it and turne it into fit nourishment: so the spirit of man after judgement of the fitnesse of what is pre­sented, tasts of it, delights in it, and is nouri­shed by it. Ther [...] is an attractive drawing pow­er in the soule whereby every member sucks that out of the food that is convenient for it: so the soule drawes out what is well digested by judgement, and makes it its owne for severall uses.

The chiefe thing that Christ requireth is a good stomacke to these dainties.

1 The meanes to procure an appetite. We are first to be sensible of spirituall wants and mise­ry. The Passeover Lamb was eaten with sower herbes: so Christ crucified relisheth best to a soule affected with bitternesse of sin: whilst men are rich in their owne conceipt, they goe empty away; the duties and performances they trust too, are but husks, windy empty chaffe; swel­ling is not kinde nourishment.

2 That which hinders the sharpnesse of the sto­macke are, could defluxions, that dull and flat the edge of it. So upon plodding upon the world, cold distillations drop upon the soule, and take away the savour and desire of heavenly things. These things fill not. There is both a vanity of emptinesse, and a vanity of short continuance in them.Isa. 55. Why should we lay out our money, spend our time, our wits, our endeavour so much about [Page 75] them; this makes so many starvelings in Re­ligion.

Besides there be other noysome affections to be purged, as 1 Pet. 2. 1. which breed a distaste and disaffection to spirituall things; as malice and guile, &c. How can Christ be sweete to that soule unto which revenge is sweete.

Exercise quickens appetite. Those that ex [...]ercise 3 themselves unto godlinesse, see a need of spirituall strength to maintaine dutie. A dull for­malist keepes his round, and is many yeares after where he was before, sees no need of further growth or strength. A Christian life managed as it should be indeed, as it hath much going out, so it must have much comming in, it will not els be kept up. Those that have a journey to goe will refresh themselves for afterward, least they faint by the way.

Company likewise of such as labour for that 4 blessed food that endureth to life eternull provoketh to fall too as the rest doe,Ioh 6. 27. especially if they be equall or goe beyond us in parts: for we will reason with our selves, have not I as much need as they, if these things be good for them then they are good for me?

Thus Saint Paul foretelleth that the example of the Gentiles should provoke the Iewes to come in,Rom. 11. 1. and taste of the Banquet Christ hath provided for both. Especially this should stirre us up earnestly to take our part in that Christ hath provided; because we know not how soone the table may be taken away: when men see the [Page 76] dishes in removing, though before they have dis­coursed away much time of their supper, yet then they will fall fresh to it. We know not how long wisdome will be inviting of us, it will be our wisdome to take our time, least we put off so long, as wisedome her selfe laughs at our destruction, and a famine be sent, of all famines the most miserable; a famine of the Word, and then we may pine away eternally without com­fort. Christ will not alwaies stand inviting of us, if we will none of his cheere, others will, and shall, when we shall starve.

Let this draw us on that we see heere Christs hearty and free wellcome, the gracious looke that we are like to have from him. He counts it an honour since he hath made such rich provisi­on, for us to take part, and for our part shew our unwillingnesse, that such free kindnesse should be refused. We cannot honour his bounty more then to feed liberally of that he liberally sets be­fore us. We are glad to perceive our friends up­on invitation to thinke themselves wellcome. Let us open our mouth wide since Christ is so ready to fill it, we are not streightned in his love but in our owne hearts. The widdowes oyle failed not till her vessels failed. 2 King. 4. 6. We are bidden to delight in the Lord, and in whom should we delight, but where all fullnesse is to be had to delight in? Our spirits are not so large as those blessed com­forts are which we are called to the injoyment of. If the capacity of our soules were a thousand times larger, yet there is so large a sea of comfort [Page 77] in Christ, as they are not able to comprehend it, a taste of these good things breed joy unspeakable, and peace that passeth understanding; Phil. 4. 7. what will the fullnesse doe? This taste we feele in the or­dinances will bring us to that fullnesse hereafter. O let us keepe our appetites for these things which are so delightfull, so sutable to the soule. How great is that goodnesse which he both layes up for hereafter, and layes out for his, even here in this life.

In some ages of the Church the feasts that Christ hath made have beene more solemne and sump­tuous then in other, thereafter as Christ hath been more or lesse cleerely and generally manifested. At Christs first comming there was a greater feast then before: because the riches of Gods love in Christ were then layd open, and the pale of the Church was i [...]larged by the comming in of the Gentiles: so will there be a royall feast, when the Iewes shall be converted.Rev. 19. 9. Blessed then shall those be that shall be called to the supper of the Lamb. Suppers are in the end of the day, and this sup­per shall be furnisht towards the end of the world.

But then will be the true magnificent supper, when all that belong to Gods election shall meet together, and feed upon that heavenly Manna for ever: then there will be nothing but marrow it selfe, and wine without all dregs; in all our contentments heere there is some mixture of the contrary; then nothing but pure quintessence. In the meane time he lets fall some Manna in this [Page 78] our wildernesse, he lets us relish that now; it will not putrifie as the other Manna did, but in­dure and make us endure for ever. Its the true bread of life.

Marke how Christ drawes his Spouse on to drinke, and drinke abundantly: there is no dan­ger of taking too much: where the spring is in­finite, we can never draw these wells drie, never sucke these breasts of consolation too much, and the more strong and cheerefull we are, the better service we shall performe, and the more accepted: delight is as sugar, sweete in it selfe, and it swee­tens all things els. The joy of the Lord is our strength. Duties come of more gracefully, and religion is made more lovely in the eyes of all, when it comes forth in strength and cheerefull­nesse, Christ house-keeping is credited hereby. In our Fathers house is plenty enough. When the Mar­tyrs had drunke largely of this wine, it made them forget friends, riches, honours, life it selfe: the joy stirred up by it, carried them through all torments.

If any be hindered by conceipt of unworthi­nesse, if affected deepely with it, let them consi­der what kinde of men were compelled to the banquet, the blinde, the lame. See a lively picture of Gods mercy in the example of the Prodigall, he feares sharp chiding, and the Father provides a rich banquet, Luke 15. he goeth to his Father, but the Father runs to meete him. Did Christ ever turne back any that came unto him, if they came out of a true sence of their wants?

Eate O friends.

Christ out of the largenesse of his affections multiplieth new titles and compellations [Beloved and friends] Christ provides a banquet, and in­vites his friends not his enemies. Those good things that neither eye hath seene,1 Cor. 2. 9.nor care hath heard, that are above our conceipt to apprehend, these are provided for those that love him, not that hate him:Psal. 75. 8. he mingles an other cup for them, a cup of wrath, and they are to drinke up the very dregs of it. Friendship is the sweetnesse, intimatenesse and strength of love. In our friends our love dwells and rests it selfe. Conjugall friendship is the sweetest friendship. All the kinds and degrees of friendship meete in Christ towards his Spouse: it is the friendship of a husband, of a brother, and if there be any relation in the world wherein friendship is, all is too little to expresse the love of Christ.

In friendship there is mutuall consent, an uni­on of judgement and affections, there is a mutuall sympathy in the good and ill one of another, as if there were one soule in two bodies: there be mutuall friends and mutuall enemies.Psal. 139. 21. Doe I not hate them (saith David) that hate thee. There is mutuall love of one another for their owne sakes; in flattery men love themselves most; in semblance love others but all is in reflection to themselves.

There is liberty which is the life of friendship, [Page 80] there is a free intercourse betweene friends, a free opening of secrets: so heere Christ openeth his secrets to us, and we to him, we acquaint him with the most hidden thoughts of our hearts, and we lay open all our cares and desires before him: thus Abraham was called Gods friend, and the Disciples Christs friends. It is the office of the Spirit to reveale the secrets of Christ heart to us, concerning our owne salvation; he doth not re­veale himselfe to the world.

In friendship there is mutuall solace and com­fort one in another. Christ delighteth himselfe in his love to his Church, and his Church delight­eth her selfe in her love to Christ. Christs delight was to be with the sonnes of men, and ours is to be with him.

In friendship there is a mutuall honour and re­spect one of another; but here is some difference in this friendship, for though Christ calls us friends, and therein in some sort brings himselfe downe to us, yet we must remember that this is a friendship of unequalls: Christs honouring of us is his putting honour upon us: our honouring of him, is the giving him the honour due to his name. This friendship must be maintained by due re­spect on our parts. As he is our friend, so he is our King, and knowes how to correct us if we forget our distance. If he heere seeme to use us hardly, it is that he may use us the more kindly after: he suffers much for us, therefore we may well allow him the liberty of seasonable cor­recting of us.

[Page 81]He that inspireth friendship into others, will undoubtedly keepe the lawes of friendship him­selfe, will count our enemies his enemies. The enemies of the Church shall one day know that the Church is not friendlesse.

And as his friendship is sweet, so constant in all conditions; he useth not his friends as we do flowers, regard them onely when they are fresh: but he breeds that in us, that may make us such as he may still delight in us; if other friends faile (as friends may faile) yet this friend will never faile us: if we be not ashamed of him, he will never be ashamed of us. How comfortable would our life be, if we could draw out the comfort that this title of friend affordeth: It is a comfortable, a fruitfull, an eternall friendship.

I sleepe, but my heart waketh.

Here the Church expresseth a changeable passage of her spirituall condition after she had recovered her selfe out of a former desertion; expressed in the beginning of the third Chapter and enjoyed a comfortable intercourse with Christ; now she falleth into a deeper desertion and temptation, from the remainder of corrup­tion getting strength. The Church now falleth asleepe, then was awake in the night and sought I her beloved, here is no present awaking, no seeking, there no misusage by the watchmen as 2 here, there she findeth him more speedily, here 3 she fals sick with love before Christ discovereth himself.

[Page 82]Before we come to the words, observe in ge­nerall,

That the state of the Church and every Christian is subject to spirituall alternations. Observ. 1. The Church is alwaies beloved, a spouse, a friend; but in this one state there falleth out variety of changes. No creature subject to so many changes as man; from a state of innocency he fell into a state of corruption, from that he by grace is restored to a state of grace, and from grace to glory, where his condition shall be as Christs now is, and as heaven the place is, altogether unchangeable. And in that state of grace how many intercourses be there, the foundation of Gods love to us, and grace in us alwaies remaining the same, once be­loved, for ever beloved.

We see here after a feast the Church falleth a­sleepe, see it in Abraham, sometimes strong in faith, sometimes fearefull. David sometimes standing, sometimes falling, sometimes recover­ing himselfe and standing faster, sometimes tri­umphing, the Lord is the light of my countenance,Psal. 27. 1.whom shall I feare; sometimes againe, I shall one day fall by the hands of Saul, 1 Sam 27. 1. Psal. 6. in the very same Psalme he begins with Rebuke me not in thy wrath, and ends with Away ye wicked. Elias, though zealous, yet after flies for his life. So Iob, Peter, somtimes resolute and valiant, otherwhile sinks for feare.

The ground is by reason of variety of out­ward occurrences working upon the diversity of principles in us nature and grace,The Reason. both nature and [Page 83] grace are alwaies active in us in some degree, when corruption gets strength, then we find a sicke state creeping upon us, and lose our former frame. It's with the soule as with the body, in a certaine period of time it gathereth ill humours which breake out into aguish distempers at length: so the reliques of a spirituall disease not carried away, will ripen and gather to a head. This should teach us when we are well to study to keepe an even course, and to watch over the first stirrings: and likewise if we see some une­vennesse in our wayes, not to censure our selves or others over harshly. Exact evennesse is to be striven after here, but to be enjoyed in another world.

2.Observ. 2. We see by comparing the state of the Church here with the state of it in the third Chapter, that where corruption is not thorowly purged, and a carefull watch kept over the soule, there after a recovery will follow a more dange­rous distemper, corruption will not onely strive for life, but for rule. If there had beene a thorow reformation in the Church after her former trouble, and a thorow closing with Christ, she would not thus have fallen into a more dangerous condition. We see David in his later times fals to numbring of the people; and Samson after he had done great services for the Church, at length shamefully betrayes his strength; and he that had ruled others, submits to be ruled by a base strumpet. Ionas for not thorough repenting for his running from his [Page 84] calling, falls after to quarrell with God himselfe. It is the best therefore to deale thorowly with our hearts, els fl [...]sh unsubdued will owe us a greater shame, and we shall dishonour our owne beginnings. Yet this is the comfort, that this will occasion deeper humility; and hatred of sin in those that are Gods, and a faster cleaving to God than ever before, as we see in the Church here: afterwards grace will have the better at last.

3.3. Observ. We may observe the ingenuity of the Church in laying open her owne state. It is the disposition of Gods people to be ingenuous in opening their state to God, as in David, Nehemi­ah, Ezra, &c.

The reason is thus.

1. By a free and full confession we give God the honour of his wisdome in knowing of our owne condition secret and open, we give him the honour of mercy that will not take ad­vantage against us, the honour of power and au­thority over us, if he should shew his strength against us. We yeeld unto him the glory of all his chiefe prerogatives, whereupon Ioshua moo­veth Achan to a free confession, My sonne, give glory to God.

2. We shame Satan, who first takes away shame of sinning, and then takes away shame for sinne, he tempts us not to be ashamed to do that we are ashamed to confesse; so we by silence keepe Satans counsell against our owne soules. If we accuse our selves, we put him out of of­fice, [Page 85] who is the accuser of the brethren.

3. We prevent likewise malicious imputati­ons from the world, Austin answered roundly and well when he was upbraided with the sinnes of his former age:Quae tu repre­hendi [...] e [...]o dam­navi. what, thou (saith he) findest fault with, I have condemned in my selfe be­fore.

4. This ingenuous dealing easeth the soule, giving vent to the griefe of it: whiles the ar­rowes head stickes in the wound, it will not heale:Ferrum in vul­nere. Sin unconfessed is like a broken peece of rusty iron in the body, it must be gotten out, els it will by rankling and festring cause more dan­ger. It is like poyson in the stomach, if it be not presently cast up, it will infect the whole body. Is it not better to take shame to our selves now, than to be shamed hereafter before Angels, Di­vels and Men? How carefull is God of us, by this private way to prevent future shame?

5. This faithfull dealing with our selves is oft a meanes of present delivery out of any trou­ble. David in the 32 Psalme 4. was in a great distemper both of body and spirit; his moy­sture was turned into the drought of summer. It is thought he made this Psalme betweene the time of his sinne and his pardon. What course taketh he? I said (saith he) that is, I resolved to confesse my sinne, and thou forgavest the iniqui­ty of my sinne. Upon a free and full, a faithfull, and ingenuous confession, without all guile of spirit, he found ease presently both in soule and body. The cause of Gods severe dealing with [Page 86] us is that we should deale severely with our selves, the best triall of Religion in us is by those actions whereby we reflect on our selves by judging and condemning of our selves: for this argueth a spirit without guile. Sin and shifting came into the world together. The sub­tilty of proud nature, especially in eminency, is such, that sinnes may passe for vertues; because sinne and Satan are alike in this, they cannot in­dure to appeare in their owne colour and habit; and so those that oppose it shall be accounted opposers of good. This guile of spirit hath no blessednesse belonging to it, take heed of it.

4. Marke further one signe of a gracious soule, to be abased for lesser defects, sleepinesse and indisposition to good. One would thinke drowsinesse were no such great matter; O but the Church had such sweet acquaintance with Christ, that every little indisposition that hin­dered any degree of communion was grievous to her. You shall have a Iudas, a Saul, an enormi­ous offender confesse great falls that gripe his conscience; all shall be cast up, that the consci­ence being disburdened may feele a little ease: but how few have you humbled for dulnesse of spirit, want of love, of zeale, and cheerfulnesse in duty: This accompanied with strife against it, argues a good spirit indeed.

A carnall man is not more humbled for grosse sinnes, than a gracious Christian for wants in good actions, when it is not with him as it hath been, and as he would. The reason is, where [Page 87] there is a cleare and heavenly light, there lesser mo [...]es are discernable: and spirituall life is sen­sible of any obstruction and hinderance. This goeth in the world for unnecessary nicety: the world straineth not at these gnats: But those, upon whose hearts the Sun of righteousnesse hath shined, have both a cleare sight and a tender heart.

To come to the words; [I sleep] The Church fetcheth a comparison from the body to ex­presse the state of the soule. It is one use of our body to helpe us in spirituall expressions. Whilst the soule dwelleth in the body, it depen­deth much in the conceiving of things upon the phantasie, and the phantasie upon the senses. We come to conceive of spirituall sleep by sleep of the body, which we are well enough ac­quainted with.

The Church, as she consists of a double princi­ple, flesh and spirit mingled together in all parts, as darknesse and light in the twilight and daw­ning of the day, so here she expresseth her condi­tion in regard of either part, so farre as she was carnall, she slept, so farre as she was spirituall, she was awake.

In this mixt condition the flesh for the present prevailed, yet so as the spirit had its working, she slept, but her heart waked.

The words containe a confession, I sleep, and a correction, but my heart waketh. She hath a double aspect, one to the ill, her sleeping: the o­ther to her good, her heart in some degree awaked. [Page 88] The Spirit of God is a discerning spirit, it disco­vereth what is flesh and what is spirit.

So that we must not conceive this sleep to be that dead sleep all men are in by nature, nor to be that judiciall sleepe, that spirit of slumber which is a further degree of that naturall sleep to which God giveth up some as a seale of their desperate condition, but here is meant that sleepe that ariseth out of the remainder of corruption un­subdued, and now is here in the Church prevai­ling over the better part. Flesh and Spirit have both their intercourse in us as Moses and A­malek had, unlesse we stand upon our guard, the flesh will get the upper ground, as we see here. The best are no further safe than they are watch­full.

For the cleare understanding of this observe some correspondency in the resemblance, wherein too much curiosity is lothsome and postill-like, and calleth the mind too much from the kernell to the shell.

Bodily and spirituall sleepe resemble each the other in the causes,The resem­blance between bodily and spiri­t [...]ll sleep, in the effects, and in the dan­gerous issue.

1 The sleepe of the body commeth from the obstruction and binding up of the senses by va­pours which arise out of the stomacke: So there be spirituall fumes of worldly cares and desires that obstruct the senses of the soule: therefore our blessed Saviour counts it a spirituall surfet­ting, when the soule is oppressed with care about the world;Luk. 21. 34. lusts bring the soule a [Page 89] bed: Prosperity is a strong vapour, if it over­come not the braine, yet it weakeneth it, as strong waters do. See it in Salomon himselfe. The Disciples fell asleepe in the garden when 2 they were oppressed with heavinesse and sor­row, which passions will have the like effect up­on the soule.

Sleep ariseth oft from wearinesse, and want of 3 spirit, so there is a spirituall wearinesse arising from discouragements and too much expence of the strength of the soule upon other matters, up­on impertinencies that concerne not the best state of the soule.

Some are brought asleepe by musicke, so ma­ny 4 by flattering inticements and insinuations of others joyning with their owne flattering de­ceiptfull heart, are cast into a spirituall sleepe.

Sleepe ariseth from want of exercise, when 5 there is a cessation from spirituall exercise about the proper object of it, there followeth a spiritu­all sleepe. Exercise keeps waking.

Sleepe ariseth oft from cold diseases, as Le­thargies; from cold grosse humours; cold,6 earthly, grosse affections about the things here below, benumne the soule, and bring it into a heavy, drowsie, sleepy temper.

Sometimes sleepe is caused by some kind of poyson, especially the poyson of Aspes which 7 kils in sleeping; and do not sinfull delights do the like to the soule: insensible evils are the most dangerous evils.

[Page 90] 8 Otherwhile slothfull yawning company dis­pose to sleepe, there is no more ordinary cause of spirituall sleepe, than conversing with spiri­tuall sluggards, that count it a high point of wis­dome not to be forward in religion. These for­mall proud persons, as they are cold themselves, so they labour to cast water upon the heat of o­thers. Nay those that are otherwise good, if de­clining in their first love, will incline others to a fellowship in the fame secure temper, least they should be upbraided by the vigilancy of o­thers.

1 They are alike in the effects. Men disposed to be asleep desire to be alone. Those likewise that are disposed to take a spirituall nap, will a­void company, especially of such as would a­wake them. They will hardly indure rowzing meanes.

2 Men will draw the curtains and shut out light, when they meane to compose themselves to rest. So when men favour themselves in some wayes not allowable, they are afraid to be dis­quieted by the light; light both discovereth, a­waketh, and stirres up to working: And men when they are loth to do what they know, are loth to know what they should do. They that sleepe in the night. 1 Thess. 5. 7. Asa, otherwise a good King, shut up [...]he Prophet in prisoa for doing his duty: Much of the anger that men beare against the word laid open to them is because it will not suffer them to sleepe quietly in their sinnes. Such as will suffer them to live quietly in their [Page 91] sinnes; they are the quiet and honest men. There cannot be a worse signe than when men will not indure wholsome words, it is a signe they are in an ill league with that they should a­bove all wage warre against.

In sleepe phantasie ruleth, and dreames in phantasie; men in sleep dreame of false good,3 and forget true danger.

Many cherish golden dreames, dreame of meat,Esa. 29. 8. and when they awake, their soule is emp­ty. Vaine hopes are the dreames of waking men, as vaine dreams are all the waking of sleep­ing and carnall men, whose life is but a dreame.

In sleep there is no exercise of senses or mo­tion: as then men are not sensible of good or ill, they move neither to good or ill: Motion fol­loweth sensiblenesse: what good we are not sen­sible of, we move not unto: Hence sleep is of kin to death, for the time depriving us of the use of all senses; and a secure professour in ap­pearance differs little from a dead professour; both of them are unactive in good; and what they do they do it without delight, in an un­comly and unacceptable manner, unbeseeming the state of a Christian. It is all one to have no senses, and not to use them; we may say of men in this sleepy temper, as the Scripture speaks of idols, they have eyes and see not, eares and heare not, &c▪ Psal. 115. 5.

So likewise they are alike in danger, in sleep the preciousest thing men carry about them is taken away without resistance: and they are ready to [Page 92] let loose what they held fast before; were it never so rich a jewel. And it is so in spirituall sleepines; men suffer the profession of the truth to be wrung from them without much with-standing, and with letting fall their watch, let fall likewise, if not their grace, yet the exercise of their gra­ces, and are in danger to be robbed of all.

There is no danger but a man in sleepe is faire for, and exposed unto: Sisera was slaine asleep,2 Sam. 4. 7. and Ishbosheth at noone day, and there is no temp­tation, no sinne, no judgement, but a secure drowzy Christian is open for; which is the ground of so oft inforcing watchfulnesse by the Spirit of God in the Scriptures. As spirituall deadnesse of spirit is a cause of other sinne, so likewise it is a punishment of them; God pow­reth a spirit of dead sleepe upon men,Esa. 29. 10.and closeth up their eyes, till some heavy judgement falleth up­on them, and how many carnall men never a­wake in this world, till they awake in hell! No wonder therefore that Satan labours to cast men into a dead sleep all that he can, and deludes them with dreames of a false good, that their estate is good, and like so to continue, that to morrow shall be as to day, that no danger is neare, though Gods wrath hangeth over their head, ready to be revealed frō heaven

Thus we see how the resemblance holds. Some apply this to Constantines time about three hundred yeares after Christ, when the Church upon peace and plenty grew secure, and suffered Ecclesia [...]ticall abuses to creepe in. Religion [Page 93] begat plenty, and the daughter devoured the mother.Theodoret. lib. 5. This made the Writers of the Eccle­siasticall Stories to qu [...]stion,August, ad Ia­nuar. Epist. 119. whether the Church hath more hurt by open persecution, or peace, when one Christian unde [...]mineth, and ra­geth against another.Tol [...]rabilior [...]u [...]aeorum con­d [...]tio quam no­stra. Humane inventions were so multiplied, that not long after in Augustines time, he complained that the condition of the Iews was more tolerable than theirs, for though the Iews were under burdens, yet they were such as were imposed by God himselfe, and not hu­mane presumptions. But Gerson many hundred yeares after increaseth his complaint.Si tuo tempore hec dicebas (O sapiens Au [...]u­s [...]ine) quid no­stra tempestate d [...]xisses? Ger­s [...]n de vit. spi­ritual. If (O Augustine) thou saidst thus in thy time, what wouldest thou have said if thou hadst lived now, when men (as a toy taketh them in the head) will multiply burdens? And he was not a­fraid to say, that the number of humane consti­tutions was such, that if they were observed in rigour,Si tenerentur in suo rigore, max­ima pars Eccle­siae damnaretur the greatest part of the Church would be damned. Thus whilst the husbandmen slept, the envious man Satan slept not, but few his tares. Thus Popery grew up by degrees, till it over­spread the Church. Whilst the watchmen that should have kept others awake, fell asleep them­selves. And thus we answer the Papists, whē they quarrell with us about the beginning of their er­rors. They ask of us when such and such an here­sie began: we answer, that those that should have observed them, were asleep. Popery is a myste­ry that crept into the Church by degrees vnder glorious pretences. Their errours had modest [Page 94] beginnings. Worshipping of images arose from reserving the pictures of friends; and af­ter that were brought into the Church. Invo­cation of Saints arose from some of the Fathers figurative turning of their speech to some that were dead. Transubstantiation had rise from some transcendent unwary phrases of the Fa­thers. The Papacy it selfe from some titles of the Romish Church and Bishop. Nothing in Popery so grosse, but had some small begin­nings, which being neglected by those that should have watched over the Church, grew at length unsufferable. No wonder if the Papists be cast into a dead sleep, they have drunk too deep of the whores cup. They that worship Images, are (as the Scripture saith) like unto them, they have eyes and see not, &c. They can­not discerne of their errours, though they be never so ridiculous and senslesse, as prayer in an unknowne tongue, and such like.

And upon this state of the Church let us add this caution.

If the best men be so prone to sleep, then we cannot safely at all times build upon their judge­ment. A Caution. The Fathers of the Church were not alwaies awake. There be few of them, but in some things we may appeale from themselves sleeping, to themselves waking. The best ha­ving some darknesse left in their understandings, and some lusts unsubdued in their affections, may write and speak somtimes out of the worst part and principle that is in them, as well as out of [Page 95] the best, when they keepe not close to the rule.

When our adversaries presse us with the au­thority of Fathers, we appeale to them where they speak advisedly and of purpose. When they were not awaked by heretiques, they speake somtimes unworthily, and give advanta­ges to heretiques that followed.Patres in max­iusis sunt no­stri, in multi [...] varij, in mini­mis vestri. Wh. It is the man­ner of our adversaries to make the unwarranta­ble practice of the ancienter time a rule of their practice, and the doubtfull opinions of the anci­ents their owne grand tenets. Wherein in both they deale unsafely for themselves, and injuri­ously towards us, when we upon grounds in some things dissent, which liberty (oft when they should not) they will take to them­selves.

But howsoever this sleepy condition agreeth to the former times of the Church, yet I wish there were not cause to apply it to our selves, in this latter age of the Church, wherein many of the ancient heresies are revived; and besides, the evils that accompany long peace, take hold of us, and will prevaile too farre if we do not rowze up our selves. The Church is in the common-wealth, and usually they flowrish and fall together. When there is a sleep of the Church, for the most part there is a sleep of the State. A civill sleep is, when in grounds of danger there is no apprehension of [...]anger, and this sleep is a punishment of spirituall sleep,Isa. 7. 9. when with Ephraim a State hath gray haires and knoweth [Page 96] it not, when judgements abroad will not awake men. When noise and pinching will not awake, the sleep must needs be deep. The whole world almost is in combustion round about us, and many countries thought themselves as safe a lit­tle before their troubles, as we now think our selves. If feare of outward dangers will not a­wake, then spirituall dangers will not, as being more secret and not obvious to sense. No won­der then if few will believe our report of the fearefull condition of wicked men in the world to come. A man may be startled & awaked with outward dangers that is spi [...]itually fottish, but he that is carelesse of outward danger, will be re­gardlesse of what we say in spirituall dangers. The feare of danger may be the greater, when (as it was amongst the Iewes) those that should be watchfull themselves, & awake others, instead of awaking rock the cradle, & cry peace, peace, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, yet we must never forget to be mindfull with thankful­nesse for peace and the Gospell of peace which yet by Gods blessing we enjoy, alwaies suspect­ing the readinesse of nature to grow secure under the abundance of favours, and so to blesse our selves in that condition.

1.Signes of a sleepy state. Now we know that sleep is creeping upon us, by comparing our present condition with our former, when we were in a more wakefull frame. When the graces of Gods Spirit were in exercise in us. If we differ from that we were, then all is not well.

[Page 97]2. Compare our selves againe with that state and frame that a Christian should bee in: for sometimes a Christian goes under an un­comfortable condition, all the daies of his life, so that hee is not fit to make himselfe his patterne. The true rule is, that description that is in the word of a waking and living Christi­an, what should a man be, take him at the best, the varying from that is a sleepie estate; as for instance,Acts 9. 39. A Christian should walke in the Com­fort of the Holy Ghost, live and walke by faith, hee should depend upon God, and resist temptations. Faith should worke by love, and love to our selves should move us to honour our selves as members of Christ, to disdaine to defile our selves by sinne, our hope if it bee waking will purge us and make us sutable to the condition we hope for in Heaven, and the Company we hope to have fellowship with there.

3. Againe, look to the examples of others that are more gratious, I have as many incourage­ments to bee thankfull to God, and fruitfull, they enjoy no more meanes then I, and yet they abound in assurance, are comfortable in all con­ditions, J am downe in a little trouble, subject to passion, to barrennesse, and distrust, as if there were no promises of God made to sowing in righteousnesse, thus a man may discerne hee is a sleepe by comparing himselfe with others that are better then himselfe.

4. Againe, it's evident that we are growing on to a sleepie condition by this, when wee [Page 98] finde a backwardnesse to spirituall duties, as to prayer, thankesgiving, and spirituall confe­rence, it should bee the joy of a Christian, (as it is his prerogative) to come into the presence of Christ and to be inabled to doe that, that is above himselfe. When what is spirituall in a duty will not downe with us, it is a signe our soules are in a sleepie temper, there is not a pro­portion betweene the soule and the businesse in heavenly duties, whom doe we speake to but God, whom doe we heare speake in the Word but God, what should be the temper of those that speake to God, and heare him speake to them, it should be regardfull, reverent, obser­vant, those that are watchfull to the eye of a Prince, what observance they shew, when they are to receive any thing from him or to put up any request to him,Mal. 1. 8. Offer this to thy King, saith the Lord by Malachy, when a man comes drowsily to God, to sacrifice, to heare, to pray, &c. offer this cariage to man, will hee take it at thy hands. Oh the mercy of our patient God, that will indure such services as we most frequently performe! by this indisposednesse to duty more or lesse, may wee discover our sleepinesse.

5. When the soule begins to admire outward excellencies, when it awakes much to profits, pleasures, and honours, when men admire great men, rich men, great places, the strength and fat of the soule are consumed by feeding on these things, so that when it comes to spirituall [Page 99] things it must needs be faint and drowsie. By these and the like signes, let us labour to search the state of our soules.

1.Motives a­gainst sleepi­nesse. And to [...] us up the more, Consider the danger of a secure sleepie estate, there is no sin but a man is exposed unto in a secure estate,1 therefore the divell labours all hee can to cast men into this temper, which he must doe be­fore he can make him fall into any grosse sinne, when hee is asleepe hee is in a fit frame for any ill action, he is in a temper fit for the divell to worke upon to bring into any dreame or error, to inflame the fancies and conceits with out­ward excellencies, the divell hath a faculty this way, to make outward things great that are no­thing worth, and to make such sinnes little, as if we were awake would affright us; hee workes strongest upon the fancie, when the soule is slee­pie or a little drowsie.

There is no man that comes to grosse sins sud­denly, but hee falls by little and little, first to slumber, and from slumber to sleepe, and from sleepe to security, and to from one de­gree to another: it is the inlet to all sinnes, and the beginning of all danger, therefore the Lord takes a contrary course with his, when hee would preserve a state or person he plants in them first a spirit of faith to beleeve that there is such a danger, or such agood to bee apprehended, upon watching and going on in a course befitting that condition, and then faith (if it bee a matter of threatning) stirres up feare [Page 100] which maketh up care and diligence, this is Gods method, when hee intends the preser­vation of any.

2. A man in his sleepe is fit to loose all, a sleepie hand lets any thing goe with ease. A man hath grace and comfort, hee lets it goe in his spirituall sleepinesse, grace in a great mea­sure, and the sense and comfort of it alltoge­ther. A Christian hath alwaies the divine na­ture in him that workes in some degree, yet notwithstanding in regard of his present tem­per and feeling, he may be in such a case, that he shall differ nothing from a reprobate, nay hee may come to feele more then any ordinary wicked man feeles whiles he lives in the world; as divers good Christians doe. And all this, through their carelesnesse, that they suffer them­selves to bee robbed of first beginnings, by yeelding to delights, company and content­ments; feeding their conceits with carnall ex­cellencies, so favouring corruptions, and flatte­ring that that is naught in them, they loose the comfort of all that is good: who would doe this for the gaining of a little broken sleepe, I say broken sleepe, for the better a man is, the more unquietly shall he sleepe in such a state, he shall feele startlings and frights in the middest of his carnall delights if he belong to God.

3. Besides, God meets them with some crosses in this world, that they shall gaine no­thing by it. There is none of Gods children, that ever gained by yeelding to any corruption, or [Page 101] drowsinesse; though God saved their soules. It is alwaies true, a secure state is a sure fore­runner of some great crosse, or of some great sinne. God cannot endure such a temper of soule, livelesse and unfeeling performances and sacrifices, to him that hath given us such incou­ragements; It must needs be distastfull to God when we goe drowsily and heavily about His worke.Jer. 48. 10. Cursed is he that doth the worke of the Lord negligently, if it were to sheath his sword in the bowels of his enemy, to which man is excee­dingly prone, yet if it bee not done with dili­gence and an eye to God, a man is cursed in it.

4. And it is an odious temper to God; for 4 doth not hee deserve cheerefull service at our hands? hath he beene a wildernesse to us? doth he not deserve the marrow of our soules? doth not his greatnesse require it at our hands, that our sences bee all waking? and doth not his mercy deserve, that our love should take all care, to serve him that is so gratious and good to us? Is it not the fruit of our redemption to serve him without feare in holinesse and righteousnesse all the daies of our lives.Luke 1. 74.

5. It is a state not onely odious to God, but irksome to our owne spirits, the Conscience is never fully at peace in a drowsie state or in drowsie performances.

Likewise it is not gracefull to others, it breeds not love in them to good things, but dislike. Car­nall men, let them see a Christian not carry [Page 102] himselfe waking as he should, though they bee a thousand times worse themselves, yet notwith­standing they think it should not be so, such a course doth not sute with so much knowledge and so much grace.

Let a man consider, wherefore God hath gi­ven the powers of the soule and the graces of the Spirit, are they not given for exercise and to bee imployed about their proper objects? a man is not a man, a Christian is not a Christian when he is not waking, he so farre degenerates from himselfe, as he yeelds unto any unbesee­ming carriage; wherefore hath God given us un­derstanding, but to conceive the best things, wherfore have we Iudgement, but to judge aright betweene the things of Heaven and Earth, wherefore have we love planted in us, but to set it on lovely objects, wherefore faith, but to trust God over all, wherefore hatred, but to fly ill, wherefore have we affections, but for spiri­tuall things; when therefore our affections are dull, and loose their edge to these things, being quick onely to earthly things, what a temper is this, how doth a man answer his Creation, the state of a new Creature, wherefore are all gra­ces planted in the soule, as faith and love, and hope and patience, but to be in exercise, and wa­king; to have these and to let them sleepe and lie unexercised, so farre a Christian forgets him­selfe, and is not himselfe, a Christian as a Chri­stian, that is, in his right temper should bee in the act and exercise of what is good in him, [Page 103] upon all occasions, as we say of God, hee is a pure Act, because hee is allwaies in working, the Spirit of God is a pure act, in whom is no suffering but all action, about that that is fit for so glorious a nature; So it is with the spirit of a man, that hath the Spirit of God, hee is in act, in exercise, in operation, as the Spirit is more or lesse in him, so he is more or lesse in operation, more or lesse fruitfull, what a world of good might Christians doe, if they were in a right temper, what a deale of ill might they escape and avoid that they lie in, if they would rouze up their soules to be as Christi­ans should be, and as their soule and Conscience tells them, they ought and might be, did they rightly improve the meanes they have.

THE FOVRTH SERMON.SER. IIII.

CANT. V. VER. II.‘I sleepe but my heart wakes, &c.’

THE words as it hath beene shewed containe a Con­fession, I sleepe, and a Cor­rection, my heart waketh. The confession hath been handled, now something of the correction or exception.

My heart waketh.

The word heart you know includes the whole soule, for the understanding is the heart, an understanding heart. To lay things up in our hearts, there it is memorie, and to cleave in heart is to cleave in will. To rejoyce in heart, that is in the affection, so that all the powers of the soule, the Inward man, (as Paul calleth it) is the heart.

I sleepe but my heart waketh.

Indeed, the Church might have said, my heart sleepeth, but my heart waketh: for it is the same facultie, the same power of the soule, both in the state of Corruption, and of grace, in which the soule is, as in the twy-light, wee cannot say, this is light, and that is darkenesse, because there is such a mixture. In all the powers of the soule, there is something good, and something ill, something flesh, and something spirit. The heart was asleepe, and likewise was awake. I sleepe but my heart waketh;Obser. 1. you see here then first of all in this correction; That a Christian hath two principles in him, that which is good, and that which is evill, whence issueth the weakenesse of his actions, and affections, They are all mixed, as are the principles from which they come forth, wee may observe further, that a Christian man may know how it is with himselfe,Obser. 2. though he be mixed of flesh, and spirit, he hath a distinguishing knowledge and judge­ment whereby he knowes both the good, and evill in himselfe. In a dungeon where is nothing but darkenesse both on the eye that should see, and on that which should bee seene, he can see nothing: but where there is a super­naturall principle, where there is this mixture, there the light of the spirit searcheth the darke corners of the heart; A man that hath the spirit [Page 107] knoweth both, he knoweth himselfe and his owne heart. The Spirit hath a light of its owne, even as Reason hath, how doth Reason know what it doth; By a reflect act Inbred in the soule, shall a man that is naturall reflect upon his state, and know what hee knowes, what hee thinkes, what hee doth, and may not the soule that is raised to an higher estate know as much? undoubtedly it may. Besides we have the Spirit of God, which is light, and selfe-evidencing, it shewes unto us, where it is, and what it is▪ The worke of the Spirit may sometimes bee hindered,How the dis­cerning worke of the Spirit commeth to be so interrupted. as in times of temptation, then I con­fesse a man may looke wholy upon corruption, and so mistake himselfe, in judging by that which hee sees present in himselfe, and not by the other principle which is concealed for a time from him. But a Christian, when he is not in such a temptation, he knowes his owne estate, and can distinguish betweene the principles in him of the flesh and spirit, grace and nature.

Againe we see heere in, that the Church saith, but my heart waketh, that shee doth acknowledge there is good as well as evill; As the Church is ingenious to confesse that which is amisse, I sleepe, so she is as true in con­fessing that which is good in her selfe; but my heart waketh, which yeelds us another ob­servation.

Wee should as well acknowledge that which is good,Obser. 3. as that which is evill in our hearts.

[Page 108]Because wee must not beare false witnesse (as not against others) much lesse against our selves. Many helpe Satan the accuser and plead his cause against the Spirit their Comforter; in refusing to see what God seeth in them. Wee must make conscience of this, to know the good as well as the evill, though it be never so little.

To come in particular, what is that good the Church here confesseth,What the Church ac­knowledgeth in her heart waking though asleepe. when shee saith, that her heart waketh? Shee in her sleepie estate, first hath her judgement sound in that which is truth of persons, things, and courses. Christians are not so benighted when they sleepe, or given up to such a reprobate judgement, as that they discerne not differences: they can discerne that such are in a good way, and such are not; that such meanes are good, and such are not; a Chri­stian oft times is forced to doe worke out of judgement, in case his affections are asleep or di­stracted, and such workes are approved of God, as they come from a right judgement and con­viction, though the evill of them be chastised.

But all is not in the judgement.A choice of good remai­neth in the will. The child of God asleep hath a working in the will, choosing the better part which he will cleave too, he hath a generall purpose to please God in all things, and no setled purpose in particular for to sleepe thus: answerable to his judgement therefore he choo­seth the better part, and side, he ownes God, and his cause, even in evill times, cleaving in resolu­tion of heart to the best wayes, though with weakenesse.

[Page 109]Take David in his sleepie time betweene his repentance, and his foule sinne, if one should have asked him what he thought of the wayes of God, and of the contrary, he would have given you an answer out of sound judgement thus and thus, If you should have asked him what course he would have followed in his choice resolution, and purpose, hee would have answered savourly.

Againe there remaineth affection answerable 3 to their judgement,They retaine affection an­swerable to their judge­ment. which though they finde, and feele it not for a time, it being perhaps scattered, yet there is a secret love to Christ, and to his cause, and side, joyned with joy in the well-fare of the Church and people of God, rejoycing in the prosperity of the righteous, with a secret greefe for the contiarie. The pulses will beate this way, and good affections will discover themselves, take him in his sleepie estate, the judgement is sound in the maine, the will, the affections, the joy, the delight, the sorrow, this is an evidence his heart is awake.

The Conscience likewise is awake; the heart 4 is taken ofttimes for the conscience in Scripture,Conscience. a good Conscience (called a merry heart) is a continuall seast; Now the conscience of Gods children is never so sleepie,Prov▪ 15. 15. but it awaketh in some comfortable measure, though perhaps it may be deaded in a particular act, yet notwith­standing there is so much life in it,How the Con­science in a sleepie tempe [...] is knowne to be awake. as upon speech, or cenference, &c. there will be an opening of it and a yeelding at the length to the [Page 110] strength [...] spirituall reason, his conscience is not [...]eared; Dav [...]d was but a little rowsed by Nathan, yet you see how h [...] presently confessed ingeniously that he had sinned; So when he had numbred the people,2 Sam. 24. his conscience presently smote him, and when he resolved to kill Naball and all his familie,1 Sam. 23. which was a wicked, and carnall passion, in which there was nothing but flesh, yet when he was stopped by the advise, and the discreet counsell of Abigall, we see how presently he yeelded. There is a kinde of per­petuall tendernesse of conscience in Gods people, all the difference is; of more, or lesse.

And ansvverable to these invvard povvers is 5 the outvvard obedience of Gods children,So they retaine also a course of obedience. in their sleepie estate, they goe on in a course of obedience, though deadly and coldly, and not vvith that glory that may give others good ex­ample, or yeeld themselves comfort, yet there is a course of good duties, his ordinarie vvay is good, hovvsoever he may step aside, his fits may be sleepie vvhen his estate is vvaking. We must distinguish betvveene a state and a fit,That we must dist [...]nguish be­tweene states and fits. a man may have an Aguish fit in a sound body; The state of a Christian is a vvaking state in the Invvard man, the by courses he falle [...]h into are but fits out of vvhich he recovers himselfe.

Whence for use let us magnif [...]e the goodnesse of God,Vse. 1. that vvill remaine by his Spirit, and let it stay to preserve life in such hearts as ours are, so prone to security, and sleepinesse, let it put us in mind of other like mercifull and gracious doings [Page 111] of our God for us: that he gave his Spirit to us when we had nothing good in us, when it met with nothing, but enmity, rebellion, and indis­posednesse; Nay consider how he debased himselfe and became man, in being united to our fraile flesh after an admirable neerenesse, and all out of mercy to save us.

If so bee that Satan shall tempt us in such occasions,Vse. 2. let us enter into our owne soules, and search the truth of Grace, our judgement, our wills, our constant course of obedience, and the in­ward principle whence it comes; that we may be able to stand in the time of temptation. What upheld the Church, but this reflect act by the helpe of the Spirit, that shee was able to judge of the good, as well as of the ill, thus David; The desires of our soule are towards thee, and though all this have befallen us, yet have we not forgot­ten thy Name, Psal. 44. 20. this will [...]nable us to appeale to God as Peter, Lord thou knowest I love thee, it is an evidence of a good estate.

My heart waketh.

Gods children never totally fall from grace,Obser. though they sleepe yet their heart is awake. The prophet Esay speaking of the Church and chil­dren of God, Esa. 6. 13. saith, It shall be as a tree, as an oake whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves. Though you see neither fruit, nor leaves, yet there is life in the root, The seed re­maines in them, there is allway a seed remaining, [Page 112] it is an immotall seed that we are begotten by. Peter when he denied his Master, was like an Oake,1 Pet. 1. that was weather-beaten, yet there was life still in the root.Matth. 26. For questionlesse Peter loved Christ from his heart. Sometimes a Christian may be in such a poore case as the spirituall life runneth all to the heart, and the outward man is left destitute, as in warres, when the enemie hath conquered the field, the people runne into the Citie; and if they be beaten out of the Citie they runne into the Castle: the grace of God sometimes failes in the outward action, in the field, when yet it retireth to the heart, in which fort it is impregnable, My heart waketh.

When the outward man sleepes, and there are weake dull performances, and perhaps actions amisse too, yet notwithstanding the heart waketh; As we see in a swoond or great scares, the blood spirits and life, though they leave the face and hands, &c. yet they are in the heart. It is said in the Scripture of Eutichus, his life is in him still,Simile.though hee seemed to be dead. As Christ said of La­zarus, Acts. 20. 9. Ioh 11, So a man may say of a Christian, in his worst state, his life is in him still, he is not dead, but sleepes, his heart waketh.

This is a sound Doctrine and comfortable,Obser. agreeable to Scripture, and the experience of Gods people, we must not loose it therefore: but make use of it against the time of tempta­tion. There are some pulses that discover life in the sickest man, so are there some breathings and spirituall motions of heart, that will com­fort [Page 113] in such times. These two never faile on Gods part, his love which is unchangiable, and his grace a fruit of his love; And two on our part, the impression of that love, and the gra­cious worke of the new creature. Christ never dies (saith the Apostle) as hee never dies in himselfe (after his Resurrection) so he never dies in his Children, there is alwayes spirituall life.

The heart waketh.

This is a secret of Gods Sanctuarie, only be­longing to Gods people,Vse for Com­fort. others have nothing to doe with it, They shall ever love God and God will ever love them. The Apostle, 1 Cor. 14. 8. saith, Love never failes. Guifts you know shall be abolished, because the manner of knowing we now use shall cease, we see through a glasse, &c. but love abideth. Doth our love to God abide for ever; and doth not his love to us whence it commeth? ours is but a reflection of Gods love. Let us comfort our selves therefore in this for the time to come, that in all the uncertainty of things in this life, wee have to day, and loose to morrow, as we see in Iob, there is somewhat a Saint may build on that is constant and unmo­veable. I am the Lord I change not, therefore you sonnes of I acob are not consumed. God should deny himselfe (as it were) which hee cannot doe, and his owne constant Nature, if he should varie this way.

[Page 114] A Christian is what his heart, and inward man is, It is a true speech of Divines God and nature beginne there. Art beginns with the face and outward lyniaments, as hypocrisie, outward painting, and expressions: But grace at the Center, and from thence goes to the Circum­ference; And therefore the Church values her selfe here by the disposition, and temper of her heart. Thus I am for my outward carriage, &c. I sleepe, but my heart that waketh.

Therefore let us enter into our consciences and soules for the tryall of our estates, how it is with our judgements, Doe we allow of the wayes of God, and of the Law of the inward man? How is it with our affections, and bent to good things? How with our hatred, our zeale? Is it not more for outward things, then for in­ward? Wee know what I [...]hu said to Ionadab, when he would have him into his Chariot, Is thine heart as mine, then come to mee? So saith Christ, is thine heart as mine, then give me thy hand, but first God must have our hearts, and then our handes; A man otherwise is but a ghost in Religion, which goes up and downe without a spirit of its owne, but a picture, that hath an outside, and is nothing within. Therefore espe­cially, let us looke to our hearts, Oh that th [...]re were such an heart in this people (saith God to Moses) to feare [...], for their good; This is it, that Gods children desire, that their hearts may be aright se [...]. Wash thy heart O [...] (saith the Prophet) from thy wickednesse, &c. [Page 115] Indeed all the outward man depends upon this; Therefore Satan, if he can get this fort, he is safe,Heb. 11. and so Satans vicar. It was a watch-word, that was in Gregorie. 13. his time, in Queene Elizabeths daies, My Sonne, give methy heart, dissemble, goe to Church, and doe what you will, but Da mihi cor, bee in heart a Papist, and goe where you will. God is not content with the heart alone, (the Divell knowes if hee have the heart, he hath all, But God, as he made all, both soule, and body he will have all) but yet in times of temptation, the chiefe triall is in the heart.

And from hence, we may have a maine dif­ference betweene one Christian and another. A sound Christian doth what he doth from the heart, he begins the workethere. What good he doth, he loves in his heart first, judgeth it to be good, and then he doth it.

An Hypocrite doth that he doth outwardly, and allowes not inwardly of that good he doth; hee would doe ill, and not good, if it were in his choice. The good that he doth is for by ends, for correspondence, or dependance upon others, or conformitie with the times, to cover his designes under formalitie of Religion, that he may not be know he outwardly, as he is inwardly, an Atheist, and an Hypocrite. So he hath false aymes, his heart is not directed to a right marke; But it is otherwise with Gods child, Whatsoever good he doth, it is in his heart first, Whatsoever ill he abstaines from, he doth it from his heart, [Page 116] judging it to be naught: therefore he hates it, and will not doe it. Here is a maine difference of the Church from all others, It wakes in the heart, though the outward man sleepes. But other mens hearts sleepe, when they wake, as you know some men will walke and doe many things in their sleepe. An Hypocrite is such a kind of man, He walkes and goes up and downe, but his heart is asleepe, he knowes not what he doth, nor doth he the thing out of judgement, or love, but as one asleepe (as it were) he hath no inward affection unto the things he doth. A Christian is the contrary, his heart is awake, When hee is asleepe.

Another difference from the wordes you may have thus. A Christian by the power of Gods Spirit in him, is sensible of the contrarieties in him, complaines, and is ashamed for the same: but an Hypocrite is not so, hee is not sensible of his sleepinesse, I sleepe (saith the Church) so much as the Church saith shee slept; So much shee did not sleepe: for a man that is asleepe, cannot say he is asleepe, nor a dead man, that he is dead, So farre, as hee saith hee is asleepe, hee is awake. Now the Church confesseth that she was asleepe by that part, that was awake in her, other men doe not complaine, are not sensible of their sleepinesse, and slumbring, but compose them­selves to slumber, and seeke darkenesse, which is a friend of sleepe, they would willingly bee ignorant, to keepe their Conscience dull, and dumbe as much as they can, that it may not up­braid [Page 116] them. This is the disposition of a Carnall man, he is not sensible of his estate as here the Church is.

A waking state is a blessed state.Obser.

The Church you see supports and comforts her selfe that she was waking in her inward man, that she was happy in that respect. How shall we do to keep & preserve our soules in this waking condition,Quest. especially in these drowsietimes?

1. Propound unto them waking considerations, What causeth our sleepes,Answ. but want of matters of more serious observation?1. Meanes Is to propound waking consi­derations. None will sleepe when a thing is presented of excellency more then ordinary. To see and know and thinke of what a state we are now advanced unto in Christ, what we shall be ere long, yet the fearefull estate we should be in, if God leave us to our selues? A state of astonishment, miserable and wretched, beyond speech, nay beyond conceit. Thus did the blessed soules in former times exercise their thoughts, raise and stirre them up by meditation, that so they might hold their soules in a high esteeme of the best things, and not suffer them to sleepe. We never fall to sleep in earthly and carnall delights, till the soule let its hould goe of the best things, and ceaseth to thinke of, and to wonder at them. What made Moses to fall from the delights of Egypt? hee saw the basest things in Religion, were greater, then the greatest things in the Court, yea in the World.Heb. 11. Hee esteemed the reproach of Christ better then the greatest treasures of Egypt.

[Page 117]Make the heart thinke of the shortnesse, and vanity of this life, 2. Considera­tion. with the uncertainty of the time of our death; and of what wondrous con­sequent it is to be in the state of Grace before we die. The uncertainty of the gales of Grace, that there may be a good houre,Luk. 19. 42. Mat. 23 37. which if we passe, we may never have the like againe. As the Angell descended at a certaine houre into the poole of Bethesda, Iohn. 5. when those that entred not immediatly after, went away sicke as they came. So there are certaine good howers, which let us not neglect, this will help to keepe us waking. The Necessity of Grace, 3. Considera­tion. and then the free dispensing of it in Gods good time, and withall the terrour of the Lords day, [...] Cos. 5. 11. Remembring (saith St. Paul) the terror of the Lord, I labour to stirre up all men, &c. Indeed it should make us stirre up our hearts, when we consider the terrour of the Lord, to thinke, that ere long, we shall be all drawn to an exact account, before a strict, precise Judge; And shall our eyes then be sleeping and carelesse? These and such like considerations out of spirituall wisdome we should propound to our selves, that so we might have waking soules, and preserve them in a right temper.

The soule is as the object is that is presented to it,2. Meaness To keep Faith waking. and as the certainty of the apprehension is of that object. It conduceth much therefore to the awakening of the soule to keepe faith awake. It's not the greatnesse alone, but the presence of great things that stirres us; now it is the nature of faith to make things powerfully present to [Page 118] the soule: for it sets things before us in the word of Iebovah, that made all things of nothing, and is Lord of his word,Heb. 11. to give a being to what­soever he hath spoken. Faith is an awakening Grace, keepe that awake, and it will keepe all other graces waking.

When a man believes, that all these things shall be on fire ere long, that Heaven and Earth shall fall in peeces, that we shall be called to give an account; before that time we may be taken away. Is it not a wonder we stand so long, when Cities, stone walls fall, and Kingdomes come to suddaine periods? When faith apprehends, and setts this to the eye of the soule, it affects the same marvellously: Therfore let faith set before the soule some present thoughts according to its temper, sometimes terrible things to awaken it out of its dulnesse: Sometimes glorious things, Promises, and Mercies, to waken it out of its sadnesse, &c. When we are in a prosperous estate let faith make present all the sinnes and temptations that usually accompany such an estate, as Pride, secu­rity, selfe-applause and the like: if in adversitie, thinke also of what sinnes may beset us there, this will awaken up such graces in us, as are su­table to such an estate for the preventing of such sinnes and temptations, and so keepe our hea [...]s in exercise to godlinesse: then which, nothing will more prevent sleeping.

And withall,3. Meanes To labour for a great measure of the Spirit of God. labour for abundance of the Spirit of God, for what makes men sleepie, and drowsie? [Page 119] the want of spirits, wee are dull, and overloaden with grosse humours, whereby the strength sinkes and failes? Christians should knovv, that there is a necessitie, if they vvill keepe them­selves waking, to keepe themselves spirituall. Pray for the Spirit above all things, it is the life of our life, the soule of our soule. What is the bodie without the soule, or the soule without the Spirit of God, even a dead lump. And let us keepe our selves in such good vvaies, as vve may expect the presence of the Spirit to bee about us, vvhich vvill keepe us awake.

Wee must keepe our selves in as much light as may be, 4. Meanes To keepe our selves in the light. for all sleepinesse comes vvith darkenes, let us keepe our soules in a perpetuall light, when any doubt or darke thought ariseth, upon yeelding thereunto comes a sleepie temper, sleepinesse in the affections ariseth from darke­nesse of judgement, the more we labour to increase our knowledge, and the more the spi­rituall light and beames of it shine in at our windovves, the better it vvill be for us, and the more shall we be able to keepe avvake. What makes men in their corruptions to avoid the Mi­nistery of the Word, or any thing that may avvake their consciences? It is the desire they have to sleepe, they knovv, the more they knovv, the more they must practise, or else they must have a galled conscience. They see Reli­gion vvill not stand vvith their ends, rich they must be, and great they vvill be, but if they suffer the light to grow upon them, that will tell them [Page 120] they must not rise, and be great, by these and such courses. A gracious heart vvill be desirous of spirituall knovvledge especially, and not care how neere the Word comes: because they in­geniously and freely desire to be spiritually better, they make all things in the world yeeld to the invvard man: they desire to knovv their ovvne corruptions and evills more and more, and therefore love the light as children of the light, and of the day. 1 Thess. 5. Sleepe is a worke of darkenesse, men therefore of darke and drovvsie hearts desire darkenesse for that very end that their consciences may sleepe.

Labour to preserve the soule in the feare of God; because feare is a waking affection,5. Meanes yea one of the vvakefullest; For, Naturally we are more mo­ved with dangers, then stirred with hopes: Therfore, that affection, that is most conversant about dan­ger, is the most rowzing and waking affection. Preserve therfore the feare of God by all meanes. It is one character of a Christian, vvho, when he hath lost almost all Grace (to his feeling) yet the feare of God is alwayes left with him; he feares sin, and the reward of it, and therfore God makes that awethe Bond of the Nevv Covenant. I will put my feare into their hearts, that they shall never depart from mee▪ One Christian is better then ano­ther, by how much more he wakes,Ier 32. 39. and feares more then another. Of all Christians,Who are the [...]est Christians marke those are most gracious, spirituall and heavenly, that are the most awfull, and carefull of their speeches, courses, and demeanours: tender, even [Page 121] of offending God in little things. You shall not have light, & common oathes come from them, nor unsavoury speeches. Sometimes a good Chri­stian may in a state of sleepinesse be faulty some way. But he grovves in the knovvledge of the greatnesse of God, and the experience of his ovvn infirmities, as he grovves in the sense of the love of God. He is affraid to loose that svveet Com [...]munion any way, or to grieve the Spirit of God: Therefore, alwaies as a [...]an growes in grace, he growes in avvfulnesse, and in jealousie of his owne cor­ruptions. Therefore let us preserve by all meanes this awefull affection, the feare of God; Let us then often search the state of our own soules, our going backward or forward, how it is betweene God and our soules; how fit we are to die, and to suffer; how fit for the times that may befall us? Let us examine the state of our own soules which will preserve us in a waking estate, especially ex­amine our selves in regard of the sinnes of the place, and the times where vve live, of the sinnes of our ovvne inclination, hovv we stand affected and byased in all those respects, and see how jealous we are of dangers in this kind. Those that vvill keep vvaking soules, must consider the dan­ger of the place vvhere they live, and the times; vvhat sins raigne, vvhat sins such a companie as they converse vvith, are subject unto, and their own weakenesse to be led away with such temp­tations. This jealousie is a Branch of that feare, that vve spake of before, arising from the search­ing of our ovvn hearts, and dispositions. It is a [Page 122] notable meanes to keep us awake when we keepe our hearts in feare of such sins as either by cal­ling, custome, company, or the time we live in; or by our owne disposition we are most prone to.

There is no Christian, but he hath some spe­ciall sinne to vvhich he is more prone then to an other, one vvay or other, either by course of life, or complection, here novv is the care and vvatchfulnesse of a Christian spirit, that knowing by examination, and tryall of his ovvne heart, his vveakenesse, he doth especially fence against that, vvhich he is most inclined to; and is able to speake most against that sinne of all others, and to bring the strongest arguments to dishear­ten others from practise of it.

In the last place it is a thing of no small con­sequence, 6. Meanes The Commu­nion of Saints. that vve keepe company vvith vva­king and faithfull Christians, such as neither sleepe themselves or do willingly suffer any to sleepe that are neere them.

It is a report, and a true one of the sweating sicknesse, that they that vvere kept avvake by those that vvere vvith them escaped, but the sicknesse vvas deadly if they vvere suffered to sleepe. It is one of the best fruits of the Com­munion of Saints and of our spirituall good ac­quaintance to keepe one another avvake. Its an unpleasing vvorke on both sides. But vve shall one day cry out against all them that have plea­sed themselves and us, in rocking us asleepe, and thanke those that have pulled us with feare out of the fire, though against our vvills.

[Page 123]Let us labour upon our owne hearts in the Con­scionable use of all these meanes, in their severall times and seasons, that we may keepe our hearts waking, and the more earnest ought we to be from consideration of the present age and season in which we live.

Certainly a drowsie temper is the most ordi­nary temper in the World. For would men suffer idle words, yea filthy and rotten talke to come from their mouths if they were awake? Would a waking man runne into a pit? or upon a swords point? A man that is asleepe may doe any thing. What doe men meane when they feare not to lye, dissemble, and rush upon the pikes of Gods displeasure? When they say one thing and doe another, are they not dead? or take them at the best, are they not asleepe? Were they awake, would they ever doe thus? Will not a fowle that hath wings, avoyde the snare? or will a beast runne into a pit when it sees it? There is a snare laid in your Play-houses, gaming houses, Common houses that Gentle­men frequent that generally professe Religion, and take the Communion. If the eye of their soules were awake, would they runne into these snares, that their owne Consciences tells them are so? If there be any goodnesse in their soules, it is wondrous sleepie; There is no man (even the best) but may complaine something, that they are overtaken in the contagion of these in­fectious times, they catch drovvsie tempers (as our Saviour saith) of those latter times. [Page 124] For the abundance of iniquity, the love of many shall waxe cold. A chill temper, growes ever from the coldnesse of the times that we live in, wher­in the best may complaine of coldnesse, but there is great difference. The life of many, we see, is a continuall sleepe.

Let us especially watch over ourselves, in the use of liberty and such things as are in them­selves lawfull. It is a blessed state, when a Chri­stian carries himselfe so in his liberty, that his heart condemnes him not for the abuse of that which it alloweth and justly in a moderate use. Recreations are lawfull, who denies it? To refresh a mans selfe, is not onely lawfull, but ne­cessary. God knew it well enough: Therefore hath allott [...]d time for sleepe, and the like. But we must not turne Recreation into a Calling, to spend too much time in it.

Where there is least feare, there is most dan­ger alwaies. Now because in lawfull things there is least feare, we are there in most danger. It is true for the most part, Licit is perimus omnes, more men perish in the Church of God by the abuse of lawfull things, then by unlawfull, more by meate, then by poison; Because every man takes heed of poison, beeing he knowes the venome of it, but how many men surfet, and dye by meate? So many men, die by lawfull things, they eternally perish in the abuse of their liberties, more then in grosse sinnes. Therefore let us keepe awake, that we may carry our selves so in our liberties, that we condemne not our [Page 125] selves in the use of them. We will conclude this point with the Meditation of the Excellency of a waking Christian,The Excellency of a waking Christian. when he is in his right temper, hee is an excellent person, fit for all assaies, he is then impregnable, Satan hath no­thing to do with him, for he (as it is said) is then a wise man and hath his eyes in his head; he knowes himselfe, his state, his enemies, and adversaries, the snares of Prosperitie, and Adversitie, and of all conditions, &c. Therefore, he being awake, is not overcome of the evill of any condition, and is ready for the good of any estate. He that hath a waking soule, he sees all the advantages of good,Mark. 13. 37. and all the snares that might draw him to ill. What a blessed estate is this? In all things therefore watch: in all estates, in all times, and in all actions. There is a danger in every thing without watchfulnesse. There is a scorpion under every stone (as the Proverbe is) a snare under every blessing of God, and in every condition, which Satan useth as a wea­pon to hurt us. Adversitie to discourage us, Prosperitie to puffe us up. When, if a Christian hath not a waking soule, Sathan hath him in his snare; In Prosperitie to bee proud, and secure; In Adversitie to mur­mure, repine, bee dejected, and call Gods providence into question. When a Christian hath a heart, and grace to awake, then his Love, his Patience, his Faith is awake, as it should bee, hee is fit for all Conditions to doe good in them, and to take good by them.

[Page 126]Let us therefore labour to preserve watch­full and waking hearts continually, that so we may be fit to live, to die, and to appeare before the judgement seate of God; to doe what we should doe, and suffer what we should suffer, being squared for all estates whatsoever.

The end of the Fourth Sermon.

THE FIFT SERMON

CANT. V. VER. II.‘It is the voice of my Beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me my Sister, my Love, my Dove, my Vn­defiled; For my bead is filled with dew, and my locks with the dropps of the [...]ight.’

HItherto by Gods assistance, we have heard largely both of the Churches sleeping, and Heart-waking, What this sleeping, and Heart-waking is; How it comes, the tryalls of these opposite disposi­tions; of the danger of sleeping, and excellency [Page 128] of Heartwaking; and of the helpes, and meanes both to shunne the one, and preserve the other. Now the church having so freely and ingeni­ously confessed what shee could against her selfe, proceeds yet further to acquaint us with the particulars in her heart-waking disposition, Which were two-fold, shee heard and discer­ned the voice of her Beloved, who for all her sleepe, was her Beloved still, and more then that, she remembers all his sweete words and al­lurements, whereby hee pressed her to open unto him, Saying, open to me my love, my dove, my undefiled, which is set out, and amplified with a further mooving argument of those in­conveniences Christ had suffered in his waiting for entertainement in her heart. For my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the dropps of the night. All which aggravates her offence, and his rare goodnesse, and patience towards mi­serable sinners, so to waite from time to time for admission into our wretched soules, that he may rule, and governe them by his holy Spirit. Therefore we had great need to shunne this sleepie distemper of soule, which for the present so lockes up the everlasting gates of our soule, that the King of glory cannot enter in; Psal. 24. and to strive for this blessed heart-waking disposi­tion, which may helpe us at all times to see our dangers, and by Gods blessing recover us out of them, as heere the Church doth at length, though first smarting and well beaten by the watch-men, in a world of perplexities, ere she [Page 129] can recover the sence of her former union, and Communion with Christ.

And surely, we find by experience, what a woefull thing it is for the soule, which hath once tasted how gracious the Lord is, to be long without a sence of Gods love, For when it lookes upon sinne as the cause of this seperation; this is for the time, as so many deaths unto it. Therefore the Churches experience must be our warning-peece to take heed how we grieve the Spirit, and so fall into this spirituall sleepe: Wherein yet this is a good signe, that yet we are not in a desperate dead sleepe, when we can with her say,

It is the voice of my Beloved that knocks, saying, open unto mee, &c.

In which words you have,

  • 1. The Churches acknowledgment of Christs voice.
  • 2. Of his carriage towards her.
  • 1. Her acknowledgment is set downe heere, It is the voice of my Beloved.
  • 2. His caraiage, Hee knockes, &c. wherein
  • 1. His Patience in suffering things unworthy and utterly unbeseeming for him. He doth not onely knocke, but he continues knocking, till his head was filled with dew, and his locks with the dropps of the night.
  • 2. His friendly Commpellation, open to me my love, my dove, my undefiled. Loe here are sweet actions, sweete words, and all to melt the heart of the Spouse.

[Page 130]First, the Churches acknowledgement is to be considered, Confessing, It is the voce of her Be­loved. The first thing to be observed in this ac­knowledgement is, That the Church however sleepie and drowsie she was, yet notwithstan­ding her heart was so farre awake, as to know the voice of her husband. The point is this,

That a Christian [...]oule doth know and may dis­cer [...]e the voice of Christ,Obser. yea and that even in a lazie, sleepie estate.

But much more when in a good and lively frame. Gods Beleevers are Christs sheepe, Iohn. 10. Now my sheepe (saith Christ) heare my voice. It is the eare marke (as it were) of a Christian, one of the characters of the new man,Iob. 12. 11 To [...]as [...]e words by the eare, (as Iob saith) he hath a spirituall taste, a discerning relish in his eare, because hee hath the Spirit of God, and therefore relisheth what is con­naturall, and sutable to the Spirit. Now the voice of Christ without in the ministery, and the Spirit of Christ within in the heart are con­naturall and sutable each to other.

And surely so it is, That this is one way to dis­cerne a true Christian from an other, even by a taste in hearing. Difference of christians by a spirituall taste in bearing. For those that have a spirituall relish, they can heare with some delight things that are most spirituall. As the Heathen man said of a meadow, that some creatures come to eate one sort of herbs: others an other, all that which is fit for them; Men, to walke therein for delight; All for ends sutable to their nature. So in comming to heare the Word [Page 131] of God; some come to observe the elegancy of words and phrases, some to catch advantage (perhaps) against the speaker, men of a di­velish temper, and some to conforme them­selves to the custome of the places they live in, or to satisfie the clamours of a troubled con­science, that will have some divine dutie per­formed, else it goes on with much vex­action. But every true Christian comes, and relisheth what is spirituall; And when outward things can convey in similituds spirituall things aptly to the mind, he relisheth this not as elegant and pleasing his fancy so much, as for conveying the voyce of Christ unto his soule. So that a man may much be helpt to know his state in Grace, and what hee is by his eare: Itching eares usually are such as are led with lust, as the Apostle saith, and they must be clawed. They are sicke and no­thing will downe with them, they quarrell with every thing that is wholesome (as they did with Manna) no sermons will please them, no bread is fine and vvhite enough. Whereas indeed, it is their ovvne distemper is in fault. As those that goe in a ship upon the Sea; it is not the tossing, but the stomacke, that causeth a sicknesse, the choler within, and not the waves vvithout. So the disquiet of these men that nothing vvill dovvne vvith them, is from their ovvne distemper. If Christ himselfe vvere here a preaching, they vvould be sure to cavill at something, as then men did, when he preached in his ovvne person; Because they labour of [Page 132] lusts, vvhich they resolve to feed and cherish.

And againe, Observe it against our Adversa­ries: What say they? Hovv shall vve knovv that the Word is the Word of God? For this heretique saith thus, and this interprets it thus. This is the common Objection of the great Rabbies amongst them in their vvritings, hovv vve can knovv the Word to be Gods, consider­ing there are such heresies in the Churches, and such contrariety of opinions concerning the Scriptures read in the Churches.

Even thus to object and aske, is an argu­ment, and testimonie, that these men have not the Spirit of Christ, Iohn. 10. for His sheepe know his voice; vvho hovvsoever they cannot interpret all places of Scripture, yet they can discerne in the Scripture vvhat is sutable food for them, or in the unfolding of the Scriptures, in prea­ching, they can discerne agreeable food for them, having a facultie to reject that vvhich is not fit for nourishment, to let it goe. As there is in nature passages fit for concoction, and digestion, and for rejection; so there is in the soule to vvorke out of the Word, even out of that vvhich is hard, yet vvholesome, vvhat is fit for the soule, and Spirit. If it be cast dovvne, it feeds upon the promises for direction, and con­solation, and vvhat is not fit nourishment, that it rejects, that is, if it be of a contrary nature, heterogeniall. Therefore vve ansvver them thus: That Gods sheepe heare his voice, Iohn. 2. 20. That his Word left in the Church (vvhen it is unfolded) his [Page 133] Spirit goes together with it, breeding a relish of the Word in the hearts of people, whereby they are able to taste and relish it, and it hath a supernaturall power and Majesty in it, which carries its owne evidence with it. How shall we know light to be light? It carries evidence in it selfe, that it is light. How know we that the fire is hot? because it carries evidence in it [...] selfe, that it is so. So if you aske, How we know the Word of God to be the Word of God? it carries in it selfe inbred Arguments, and Characters, that the soule can say none but this Word can be the Word of God, it hath such a majesty and power to cast down, and raise up,1 Cor. 14. 25.and to comfort, and to direct with such power,2 Cor. 10. 4, 5.and majestie, that it carries with it its owne evidence, and it is argument enough for it. And thus we answer them; which they can answer no way, but by cavills. Gods sheepe heare the voice of Christ, He speakes, and the Church understands him, and a strangers voice they will not heare. Ioh. 10. 5.

And indeed, this is the onely sure way of understanding the word to be of God from an inbred Principle of the majesty in the word, and a powerfull worke thereof on the soule it selfe, and an assent so grounded is that which makes a sound Christian. If we should aske what is the reason there be so many, that Apo­statize, fall away, grow prophane,Why so many aposta [...]ize.and are so un­fruitfull under the Gospell? notwithstanding they heare so much as they doe; the answer is, their soules were never founded, and bottomed upon [Page 134] this, that it is the Word of God, and Divine truth, so as to be able to say, I have felt it by experience, that it is the voice of Christ. Ther­fore they so soone Apostatize, let Jesuites, or seducers set upon them, They were never perswaded from inbred Arguments, that the voice of Christ is the word of God: others from strictnesse grow prophane, because they were never convinced by the power and majesty of the truth in it selfe; and then in the end they des­paire notwithstanding all the promises, because they were never convinced of the truth of them, they cannot say Amen to all the promises. But the Church can say confidently upon sound experience, It is the voice of my Beloved, &c.

Againe, Whereas the Church saith here, It is the voice of my Beloved, &c. and knowes this voice of her Beloved, we may note,

That the Church of God, and every Christian takes notice of the meanes that God useth for their salvation.

Obser.

A Christian is sensible of all the blessed helpes he hath to salvation. To a dead heart, it is all one, whether they have meanes, or no meanes, but a Christian soule takes notice of all the meanes. It is the voice of my beloved that knock­eth, it seeth Christ in all.

And marke what the Church saith moreover It is the voice of my Beloved, A dictinction betwixt sleepe in divers Chri­stians, even at the worst, and deadnesse in a naturall man. shee acknowledgeth Christ to be beloved of her; though shee were asleepe. So then here is a distinction, betweene the sleepe of a Christian, and the dead sleepe of [Page 135] another naturall man, The one when he sleepes, His heart doth not onely wake, but it is awake to discerne the voice of Christ, it can relish in reading what is spirituall and good, what is savourie, and what not. And likewise take a Christian at the worst, when hee is asleepe, he loves Christ, he will do nothing against him. I can doe nothing ( [...]aith Paul) against the truth, but for the truth; 1 Co. 13. 8. hee will doe nothing against the cause of Re­ligion, there is a new Nature in him, that hee cannot doe otherwise, he cannot but love, hee cannot sinne with a full purpose, nor speake against a good cause, because hee hath a new nature, that leads him another way, Christ is her Belovsds still though she sleepe.

Take a Christian at the lowest, his heart yearnes after Christ.Obser.

Acknowledging him to be his Beloved, There is a conjugall chastitie in the soule of a Chri­stian, holding firme to the covenant and marriage betweene Christ and it, hee keepes that unvio­lable, though he may be untoward, sleepie, and drowsie, yet there is alwaies a conjugall spouse­like affection. It is the voice of my Beloved, &c.

Now leaving the Churches notice of the voice of Christ, We come to Christs carriage towards her.

  • 1. Hee knocketh, and then wee have,
  • 2. His Patience in that Carriage.

My head is filled with dew, and my lockes with the dropps of the night, &c. Here is Patience, and Mercie to indure this indignitie at the Churches [Page 136] hand, to stand at her courtesie to come in, besides 3. the Compellation, afterwards to be spoken of, The generall observation from Christs carriage, is this,

That Christ still desires a further and further communion with his Church.Obser.

Even as the true soule, that is touched with the Spirit desires neerer and neerer communion with Christ. So hee seekes neerer and neerer communion with his Spouse, by all sanctified meanes; Christ hath never enough of the soule; he would have them more and more open to him, our hearts are for Christ, who hath the heaven of heavens, and the soule of a believing Christian for himselfe to dwell in, he contents not him­selfe to be in heaven alone, but he will have our hearts. Hee knocks heere, waites, speakes friend­ly and lovingly with such sweete wordes, My Love, my Dove, &c. We had a blessed Com­munion in the state of innocencie, and shall have a glorious communion in heaven, when the marriage shall be consummated; but now the time of this life is but as the time of the contract, during which there are yet many mutuall passages of love betweene him and his Spouse, a desire of mutuall communion of either side. Christ desires further entertainement in his Churches heart and affection, that hee might lodge, and dwell there: And likewise there is the like desire in the Church, (when shee is in a right temper,) So that if any strangenesse bee betweene Christ, and any mans soule, that hath [Page 137] tasted how good the Lord is, let him not blame Christ for it, for he delights not in strangenesse; Hee that knockes and stands knocking, while his locks are [...]edewed with the dropps of the night? Doth he delight in strangenesse, that makes all this Love to a Christians soule? Certainely No.

Therefore looke for the cause of his strange­nesse at any time in thine owne selfe;That the cause of Christs strangenesse to the Church is in our selves. As, Whether we cast our selves imprudently into company, that are not fit to be consulted withall, in whom the Spirit is not, and who cannot doe us any good, or they cast themselves to us. Evill company is a great dampning, whereby a Christian looseth his comfort much, especially that intimate communion with God, whence wee may fall into security.

Againe, Discontinuing of Religious exercises doth wonderfully cause Christ to withdraw himselfe; He makes no more love to our soules, when we neglect the meanes, and discontinue holy exer­cises, and religious companie, when we stirre not up the graces of Gods Spirit; being this way negligent, it is no wonder that Christ makes no more love to our soules, when we prize and value not the communion that should be be­tweene the soule, and Christ, as we should. Whom have I in heaven, but thee?Psal. 73. 25.Thy loving kindnesse is better then life. (saith the Psalmist) when we prize not this, it is just with Christ to make himselfe strange.Psal. 63. 3. Where love is not valued, and esteemed, it is estranged, and for a while hides it selfe. So that these with other courses, and [Page 138] failings, we may finde to be the ground, and reason of the strangenesse betweene Christ and the soule, for certainely the cause is not in him: for we see here,Lament 3. he useth all meanes to be enter­tained by a Christian soule, he knockes.

You knovv what he saies to the Church of Laodicea, Rev. 3. 20. Behold I stand at the doore, and knocke, So here, It is the voice of my Beloved that knocketh, therefore in such a case, search your ovvn hearts, vvhere if there be deadnesse, and disertion of Spirit; lay the blame upon your selves, and enter into a search of your ovvn vvayes, and see vvhat may be the cause.

Novv to come more particularly to Christs carriage here knocking at the heart of the sleepie Church; That Christ takes not the advantage and forfeiture of the sins of his Church. We see, that Christ takes not the advan­tage, and forfeiture of the sinnes of his Church, to leave them altogether, but makes further and fur­ther love to them, though the Church be sleepie, Christ continues knocking. The Church of Laodicea vvas a luke-vvarme,Rev. 3. [...]0. proud, hypocri­ticall Church, yet Behold, (saith Christ) I stand at the doore and knocke, and it vvas such a Church as vvas vaineglorious, and conceited. I am rich and want nothing, when shee was poore, blind, and naked. And here he doth not onely stand knock­ing, but he vvith all suffereth indignities, the dew to fall upon him, which we shall speake more of hereafter. Christ therefore refuseth not vveake sinners, he that commands, that we should receive him that is weake in the faith, and not cast him off from our fellowship, and companie, vvill he [Page 139] reject him that is weake, and sleepie? No, what Father will passe by, or neglect his Child for some failings, and weakenesses, Nature will move him to respect him as his Child.

Now Christ is mercifull both by his office, and by his nature; our nature he tooke upon him, that he might be a mercifull redeemer,Heb. 2. 17. And then as God also he is love,1 Joh 4 16. God is love, that is, whatsoever God shewes himselfe to his Church, he doth it in love, If hee be angry in correcting, it is out of love, if Mercifull, it is out of love, if he be Powerfull in defending his Church, and revenging himselfe on her Ene­mies, all is love, God is love (saith Iohn) that is,1 Ioh. 4. 8. hee shewes himselfe onely in wayes, ex­pressions and characters of love to his Church; So Christ, as God, is all love to the Church. And we see the Scriptures also to set out God as love, both in his essence, and in his relations, 1. in Relations of love to his Church; Hee is a Father,Psal. 103. As a Father pittieth his childe, so the Lord pitties them that feare him, and 2. also in those sweete Attributes of love, which are his essence, as we see, Ex [...]d. 34. 6. When God describes himselfe to Moses after his desire to know him, in the former Chapter, Thou canst not see me and live; yet he would make him know him, as was fit for him to bee knowne, Iehovah,Exod. 34. 6.Iehovah, Strong, Mercifull, Gratious, Longsuffering, &c. Thus God will be knowne in these Attributes of Consolation. So Christ as God, is all love, and mercie, Likewise Christ [Page 140] as man, hee was man for this end to be all love, and mercy, Take him in his office as Iesus to be a Saviour, he carrieth salvation in his wings, as it is Mal. 4. 2. both by Office, and by Nature.

And here how excellently is the expression of Christs mercie, love, and patience set out? He knockes, my Beloved knocketh, &c. saying, Hee knockes for further entrance (as was shewed before) some he had already, but he would have further, As you know we have divers roomes, and places in our houses; There is the court, the hall, the parlour, and closset. The hall for common persons, the parlour for those of better fashion, the closset for a mans selfe, and those that are intimate friends; So a Christian hath roome in his heart forworldly thoughts, but his closset, his inmost affections, are kept for his inmost friend Christ, who is not content with the hall, but will come into the very closset▪ he knocks that we should open, and let him come into our hearts, into our more intimate affections, and love▪ nothing will con­tent him, but intimatenesse, for he deserves it, as we shall see,How Christ is said to kno [...]ke at our [...]earts. hee knockes for this end. But how doth he knocke?

1 Every kind of way; It is taken from the fashion of men,By a voice. in this kind (God condescending to speake to us in our own language) Sometimes you know There is a knocking or calling for en­trance by voice, when a voice may serve, and then there needs no further knocking.Sometimes both by voice and knocking.

Sometimes both by voice, and knocking, If [Page 141] voice will not serve, knocking comes after. So it is here, Christ doth knocke, and speake, useth a voice of his Word, and knocks by his workes, and both together sometimes, whether by workes of mercy or of judgement, he la­bours to enter into the soule, to raise the sleepie soule that way; he beginns with mercy usually. 1. By mercies, All the creatures, and blessings of God carrie in them (as it were) a voice of God to the soule, that it would entertaine his love, There goes a voice of love with every blessing. And the love, the mercie, and the goodnesse of God in the creature, is better then the crea­ture it selfe. As we say of gifts, The love of the giver is better then the gift it selfe. So the love of God in all his sweete benefits, is better then the thing it selfe, and so in that we have, There is a voice (as it were) entreating us to entertaine God, and Christ in all his mercies, yea every creature (as one saith) and benefit speakes as it were thus to us; Wee serve thee, that thou maiest serve him, that made thee and us. There is a speech (as it were) in every favour, which mercies, if they cannot prevaile, then come corrections, which are the voice of God also,Mica. 6. [...]. Heare the rodd, and him that smiteth; but hath the rodd a voice?

Yes, for what doe corrections speak [...], but 2 amendment of the fault we are corrected for?By the rodd which hath a voice in cor­rections. so we must heare the rodd, all corrections tend to this purpose, they are as knockings, that we should open to God and Christ. And because corrections of themselves will not [Page 142] amend us. God to this kind of knocking adds a voice, he teacheth, and corrects together, Happie is that man that thou correctest, Psal. 94. 10. and tea [...]hest out of thy Law, (saith the Psalmist) Correction without teaching is to little purpose, Therefore God adds instruction to correction. He opens the conscience, so that it tells us it is for this that you are corrected, and together with con­science, gives his Spirit to tell us, it is for this, or that you are corrected: you are too blame in this; this you have done, that you should not have done; So that Corrections are knockings, but then especially when they have instruction thus with them. They are messengers from God,Lev. 26. 24. both Blessings and Corrections, they will not away (especially corrections) till they have an answer, for they are sent of God, who will add seven times more; and if the first be not answered, then he sends after them, hee will be sure to have an answer, either in our Conversion, or Confusion, when hee beginns once.

3 Many other wayes he useth to knocke at our hearts.God knocketh by the good ex­amples of others. The examples of those we live among that are good, they call upon us, The patternes of their holy life.Luk. 13. [...] 3. The examples of Gods justice upon others,1 Cor. 10. are speeches to us, God knocks at our doore then, He intends our correction, when he visits another, when if we amend by that, he needes not take us in hand.

4 But besides all this,By his Ministe­riall knocking. there is a more neere knocking, that Christ useth to the Church, [Page 143] His ministeriall knocking, when he was here in the daies of his flesh, hee was a Preacher and Prophet himselfe, and now he is ascended into heaven,Ephes. 4. he hath given gifts to men, and men to the Church, whom he speakes by to the end of the world, they are Christs mouth, as wee said of the pen-men of holy Scripture; they were but the hand to write, Christ was the head to indite. So in preaching and unfolding the Word, they are but Christs mouth and his voyce, (as it is said of Iohn,) Now he is in heaven,Luk. 10. 17. he speakes by them; Hee that heareth you, heareth me, he that despiseth you despiseth mee. Christ is either received or rejected in his Ministers, as it is said of Noahs time, The Spirit of Christ preached in the daies of Noah to the soules now in prison, &c. Christ as God did preach before he was incarnate by Noah to the old world, which is now in prison, in hell, be­cause they refused to heare Christ speake to them by Noah: Much more now after the daies of his flesh, that he is in heaven, he speakes, and preacheth to us, which if we regard not, we are like to be in prison, as those soules are now in prison for neglecting the preaching of Noah, 1 Pet. 3. 19. So the Ministers are Christs mouth, when they speake he speakes by them, and they are as Embassadours of Christ, (whom they should imitate in mildnesse)We therefore as Embassadours beseech and entreat you,2 Cor. 5. 20.as if Christ by us should speake to you; so we entreat you to be reconciled unto God. And you know [Page 144] what heart-breaking wordes the Apostle useth in all his Epistles (especially when he writes to Christians in a good sta [...]e) as to the Phi­lippians,Phil. 1. 2.If there be any bowells of mercy, if there be any consolation in Christ, then regard what I say, be of one mind. And among the Thessa­lonians, 1 Thes. [...]. 19. He was as a Nurse to them, So Christ speakes by them, and puts his owne affections into them, that as he is tender, and full of bowells himselfe, so he hath put the same bowells into those that are his true Ministers.

Hee speakes by them, and they use all kind of meanes that Christ may be entertained into their hearts. They moove all stones (as it were) sometimes threatnings; sometimes intreaties, sometimes they come as sonnes of thunder, sometimes with the still voice of sweete promises; And because one man is not so fit as another for all varieties of conditions and Spirits, therefore God gives variety of gifts to his Ministers, that they may knocke at the heart of every man by their severall gifts. For some have more rouzing, some more insinuating gifts, some more lagall, some more evangelicall spirits, yet all for the Churches good. Iohn Baptist by a more thundering way of preaching, to make way for Christ to come, threatneth judgement. But Christ then he comes with a Blessed are the poore in Spirit, Mat. 5. 3. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for Righteo [...]snesse, &c. All kind of meanes have beene used in the ministrie from the beginning of the world.

[Page 145]And because of it selfe this ministry it is a dead letter, Therefore hee joynes that with the 5 Word,By the Spirit. which knockes at the heart together with the Word, not severed from it, but is the life of it, Oh the Spirit is the life, and soule of the Word, and when the inward vvord, or voyce of the Spirit, and the outward vvord or Ministry goe together, then Christ doth more effectually knocke, and stirre up the heart.

Now this Spirit with sweete inspirations knockes, mooves the heart, lightens the under­standing, quickens the dull affections, and stirrs them up to dutie, as it is, Isay. 30. 21. And thine eares shall heare a voice behind thee saying, This is the way, walke in it. The Spirit mooves us sweetly agreeable to our owne nature, it offers not violence to us; But so as in Hosea. 11. 4. I drew them by the cordes of a man. That is, by reasons and motives befitting the nature of man, motives of love. So the Spirit together with the vvord, workes upon us, as we are men by rationall motives, setting good before us, If we will let Christ in to governe, and rule us; and by the danger on the contrary, so mooving, and stirring up our affections, These be the cords of a man.

And besides his Spirit, God hath planted in 6 us a Conscience to call upon us,The Conscience also knockes. to be his Vicar, a little god in us to doe his office, to call upon us, direct us, checke, and condemne us, which in great mercy he hath placed in us.

Thus we see what meanes Christ useth here; [Page 146] His voice, Works, and Word, works of Mercie and of Correction, his Word together with his Spirit, and the Conscience, that he hath planted to be (as it were) a God in us, which together with his Spirit may moove us to dutie. This Austine speakes of when he saith,In [...]is Con­fessions. Deus in me, &c. God spake in mee oft, and I knew it not; He meanes it of Conscience together with the Spirit, stirring up motives to leave his sinfull courses. God knocked in mee, and I considered it not. J cried, modò and modò, sine modo. I put of God, now I will, and now I will, but I had no mode­ration, I knew no limits. And whilst Christ thus knocketh, all the three Persons may be said to doe it. For as it is said else where, that God was and is in Christ reconciling the world, 2 Cor. 5. 19. &c. For whatsoever Christ did, he did it as annoyn­ted, and by office, And therefore God doth it in Christ,Acts. [...]0. 26. and by Christ, and so in some sort God died in his humane nature, when Christ died. So here the Father beseecheth, when Christ beseecheth, because hee beseecheth that is sent from him, and annoynted of the Father. And God the Father stoopes to us, when Christ stoopes, because he is sent of the Father, and doth all by his Fathers commaund,Iohn. 5. and com­mission. So besides his owne bowells, there is the Father and the Spirit with Christ, who doth all by his Spirit, and from his Father, from whom he hath commission. Therefore God the Father, Sonne, and Holy Ghost knock at the heart. Open to me, my love, my dove, my [Page 147] undefiled, but Christ especially by his Spirit, because it is his office.

But some may object, Object. Christ can open to him­selfe, why doth he not take the key and open, and make way for himselfe? Who will knocke, when he hath the key himselfe? and who will knocke, when there is none within to open? Christ can open to himselfe, and wee have no free will, nor power to open?

Bellarmine makes this Objection, and speakes very rudely, that he is an unwise man to knocke, where there is no man within to open; and that if Christ knocke, and we cannot open, it is a delusion to exhort to open, and that therefore there must needs be free-will in us to open?

The Answer is; First, Christ speakes to the Spouse here,Answ. and so many such exhortations are given to them that have the Spirit of God already,Why Christ knockes though he hath power to open to him­selfe: and bid [...] us open▪ wh [...] want power to doe it. who could by the helpe thereof open. For good, and gracious men, are mooved first by the Spirit, and then they moove; they are Moti moventes, and Acti Agentes. They are acted first by the Spirit, and then they doe act 1 by it, not of themselves: as the inferiour Orbes moove not, but as they are mooved by the superiour. The Question is not of them in 2 the state of Grace, but at their first Conversion, when especially we say that Christ speakes to them that hee meanes to convert, He knocks at their hearts, and opens together with his speech, Then there goes a power that they shall open, [Page 148] for his wordes are operative wordes; as it was in the Creation, Let there be light, it was an opera­tive word,Gen. 1. 3. and there was light. Let there bee such a Creature, it was an operative working word, and there was such a Creature presently; So hee opens together with that word. With that invitation, and commaund there goes an almighty power to inable the soule to open; Were it not a wise reason to say, When Christ called to Lazarus to come forth, Ioh. 11. 43. that wee should reason hee had life to yeeld to Christ, when he bad him come forth? no, he was rotten in his grave almost; but with Christs speaking to Lazarus, there went an al­mightie power, that gave life to him, by which life he heard what Christ said, Arise Lazarus. So Christ by his Spirit cloaths his word in the Ministery, when he speakes to people with a mightie power: as the Minister speakes to the eare, Christ speaks, opens, and unlocks the heart at the same time, and gives it power to open, not from it selfe, but from Christ. Paul speakes to Lydias eare, Christ to her heart,Acts. 16. 13. and opened it, as the Text sayes, whereby shee be­lieves, so Christ opens the heart;

But Why doth he thus worke?Quest.

Because hee will preserve Nature, Answ. and the principles thereof, and so he deales with us, working accordingly; the manner of working of the reasonable creature, is to worke freely by a sweet inclination, not by violence. There­fore when he workes the worke of Conversion, [Page 149] hee doth it in a sweet manner, though it bee mightie for the E [...]ficaciousnes of it, he admo­nisheth us with intreatie, and perswasion, as if we did it our selves. But though the manner be thus sweet, yet with this manner there goeth an almighty power. Therefore hee doth it strongly as comming from himselfe, and sweetly, as the speaking is to us preserving our Nature, so the Action is from him, which hath an almightie power with it.Bernard. As Holy Bernard saith Thou dealest sweetly with my soule in regard of my selfe, (That is, thou workest upon me, as a man with the wordes of love,)yet strongly in regard of thy selfe. For except he adde strength with sweetnesse, the worke will not follow; but when there are both, an almightie worke is wrought in the soule of a Christian; and so wrought, as the manner of mans working is preserved in a sweet and free manner, whilst he is changed from contrarie to contrarie; And it is also with the greatest reason that can be, In that now he sees more reason to be good, then in the daies of darkenesse he did to be naught, God workes so sweetly. God speakes to us [...]fter the manner of men, but he workes in us as the great God; he speakes to us as a man in our owne language, sweetly; but hee workes in us almightily, after a powerfull manner, as God; so we must understand such phrases as these, I knocke, open to mee, my Love, my Dove, &c. wee may take further notice,

That the heart of a Christian,Observ. is the House, [Page 150] and Temple of Christ.

Hee hath but two houses to dwell in; the Heavens, Ia. [...]7. 13. and the heart of an humble broken hearted sinner;

How can Christ come into the soule?Quest.

Hee comes into the heart by his Spirit,Answ. It is a speciall entertainement that hee lookes for: open thine eares that thou mayest heare my word: thy love, that thou [...] mayest love mee more: thy joy, that thou mayest delight in mee more: open thy whole soule that I may dwell in it. A Christian should bee Gods house, and a true Christian is the true Temple of God. Hee left the other two Temples therefore, but his owne body, and his Church he never leaves: for a house is for a man to solace himselfe in, and to rest in, and to lay up whatsoever is pre­tious to him. So with Christ, a man will re­paire his howse, so Christ will repaire our soules, and make them better, and make them more holy, and spirituall, and every way fit for such a guest as he is.

How shall we know whether Christ dwells in our hearts or not.

Wee may know by the servants what Master dwells in an house, If Christ be in the soule there comes out of the house good speeches, and we watch the senses, so as there comes no­thing into defile the soule, and disturbe Christ, and nothing goes out to offend God. When we heare men full of gratious sweet speeches, It is a signe Christ dwells there. If we heare [Page 151] the contrary, It shewes Christ dwells not there, for Christ would move the whole man to doe that which might edifie and comfort.

Againe, where Christ comes, Assistance comes there. When Christ was borne, all Ierusalem was in an uproare, so when Christ is borne in the soule, there is an uproare, corruption armes it selfe against Grace, there is a combate be­twixt flesh and Spirit, but Christ subdues the flesh by little and little. Gods image is stamped upon the soule where Christ is, and if we have opened unto the Lord of Glory, hee will make us glorious.

Christ hath never enough of us, nor we have never enough of him, till we be in heaven, and therefore we pray, Thy Kingdome come, and till Christ comes in his Kingdome, hee desires his Kingdome should come to us, Open (saith he) Stupenda dignatio, &c. (as he cries out) it is a stupendious condescending, when hee that hath Heaven to hould him, Angells to attend him, those glorious creatures; hee that hath the commaund of every Creature, that doe yeeld presently homage when he commaunds, the Froggs, and Lice, and all the Host of Hea­ven are ready to doe his vvill! for him to con­descend, and to intreate us to be good to our ovvne soules, and to beseech us to be reconciled to him, as if he had offended us, vvho have done the vvrong and not he, or as if that vve had povver, and riches to doe him good; Heere Greatnesse beseecheth Meanesse, Riches Povertie, [Page 150] [...] [Page 151] [...] [Page 152] Alsufficiencie Want, and life in selfe, comes to dead drowsie soules. What a vvondrous condis­cending is this? Yet notvvithstanding, Christ vouchsafes to make the heart of a sinfull, sleepie man to be his House, his Temple. Hee knocks, and knocks heere, saying, Open to mee, &c.

This is usefull many vvayesVse., as first, cherish all the good conceites vve can of Christ; Time vvill come, that the Divell vvill set upon us vvith sharpe temptations, fierie darts, tempta­tions to despaire, and present Christ amisse, as if Christ vvere not vvilling to receive us, vvhen as you see he knockes at our hearts to open to him, useth Mercies, and Iudgements, the Ministrie of his Spirit, and Conscience, and all; Will not he then entertaine us, vvhen vvee come to him, that seekes this entertainement at our hands? Cer­tainely hee vvill; Therefore let us labour to cherish good conceits of Christ. This is the finisher and beginning of the conversion of a poore sinfull soule, even to consider the infinite love, and condescending of Christ Jesus for the good of our soules? Wee need not vvonder at this his vvillingnesse to receive us, vvhen vvee first knovv, that God became man, happinesse became miserie,Gel. 3 13. and life it selfe, came to d [...]e, and to be a curse for us. Hee hath done the greater and vvill he not doe the lesse? Therefore thinke not strange, that hee useth all these meanes, considering hovv love hev descended into the vvombe of the Virgin for us. Ephes. 4. 9.

[Page 153]Novv such considerations as these being mixed vvith the Spirit and set on by him, are effectuall for the conversion of poore soules. Is there such love in God, to become man, and to be a Sutor to vvoe me for my love? Surely thinks the soule then, he desires my Salvation, and Conversion; And to vvhat kind of persons doth he come? None can Object unvvorthinesse, I am poore;Isa. 61▪ 1. hee comes to the poore. I am laden,Mat 11. 28. and vvretched? Come unto mee all yee that are weary, and laden. I have nothing; Come and buy honey,Isa. 55. 1.milke, and wine, though you have nothing. He takes avvay all Objections. But I am stung vvith the sence of my sinnses?Mat. 5. 3, 5. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst, &c. But I am emptie of all? Blessed are the poore in Spirit. You can object nothing, but it is taken avvay by the Holy Ghost, vvisely preventing all the Objections of a sinfull soule. This is the beginning of Conversion, these very conceits; and when wee are converted, these thoughts entertained with ad­miration of Christs condescending, are effectuall to give Christ further entrance into the soule, vvhere­by a more happie communion is vvrought still more and more betvveen Christ, and the soule of a Christian.

Oh,Vse. 2. but take heed that these make not any secure. For if vve give not entrance to Christ, all this vvill be a further aggravation of our Damnation. Hovv vvill this justifie the sentence upon us hereafter, vvhen Christ shall set us on the left hand,Mat. 25. and say Depart from mee, for I [Page 154] invited you to come to me, I knocked at the doore of your hearts, and you would give me no entrance, Depart from us said you, therefore now Depart you from mee. What doe prophane persons in the Church? but bid Christ depart from them, especially in the motions of his Spirit, they entertaine him in the outward roome, the braine; they know a little of Christ, but in the heart, the secret roome, hee must not, come there to rule. Is it not equall, that hee should bid us,Mat. 23. 41. Depart yee cursed I know you not? you would not give entrance to mee, I will not now to you; as to the foolish Virgins he speakes, and Prov. 1. 28. Wisedome knockes, and hath no entrance, therefore in times of danger, they call upon Her, but shee rejoyceth at their destruction; Where God magnifies his mercie in this kinde in sweete allurements, and inviting by Judgements, Mercies, Ministrie, and Spirit, hee will magnifie his Judgement after. Those that have neglected Heaven with the Prero­gatives, and advantages in this kind, they shall be cast into Hell.Mat. 11. 21. Woe to thee Chorazin, &c. as you know in the Gospell. This is one thing that may humble us of this place and nation, that Christ hath no further entrance, nor better entertainement after so long knocking? for the entertaining of his vvord, is the welcomming of himselfe, as it is, Colloss. 3. 16. Let the word of God dwell plentifully in you. And let Christ dwell in your hearts by faith. Ephes. 3. 17. Compare those places, let the word dwell plenteously [Page 155] in you by wisdome, and let Christ dwell in your hearts by faith. For then doth Christ dwell in the heart, when the truth dwells in us. Therefore what entertainement we give to his truth, wee give to himselfe. Now what meanes of knocking hath hee not used among us a long time? For workes of all sorts; he hath drawne us by the cords of a man, by all kind of favours. For Mercies, How many deliverances have we had (No Nation the like, we are a Miracle of the Christian World,) from for­reigne invasion, and Domesticall conspiracies at home? How many mercies doe we enjoy? Abundance together with long peace, and plenty. Besides, if this would not doe, God hath added Corrections with all these, in every Eliment, in every manner, Infection in the aire, Judgements in inundations; We have had re­mours of warres, &c. threatnings, shakings of the rod onely, but such as might have awaked us, And then he hath knocked at our hearts by the example of other Nations. By what hee hath done to them, he hath shewed us what he might justly have done to us, wee are no better then they.

As for his Ministeriall knocking; above threescore yeares wee have lived under the Ministerie of the Gospell, this Land hath beene Goshen, a land of light, when many other places are in darkenesse, especially wee that live in this Goshen, this place, and such like, where the light shines in a more abundant measure. [Page 156] Ministers have beene sent, and varietie of gifts, there hath beene piping, and mourning (as Christ complaines in his time) that they were like froward Children, that neither sweet pi­ping, nor dolefull mourning would moove to be tractable to their fellowesMat. 11. 17. they had Iohn who came mourning, and Christ comforting with blessing in his mouth, all kind of meanes have beene used.

And for the Motions of his Spirit, who are there at this time, who thus live in the Church under the Ministerie, who cannot say that God there­by hath smote their hearts, those hard rockes againe and againe, and awaked their consci­ences, partly with corrections publike and personall, and partly with benefits: yet not­withstanding what little way is given to Christ? Many are indifferent, and lukewarme either way, but rather incline to the worst.

Let us then consider of it, The greater meanes, the greater judgement afterwards, if we be not won by them. Therefore let us labour to hould Christ, to entertaine him, let him have the best roome in our soules, to dwell in our hearts, let us give up the keyes to him, and desire him to rule our understandings, to know nothing but him, and what may stand with his truth, Not to yeeld to any errour, or corrup­tion; let us desire that hee would rule in our wills, and affections, sway all, give all to him; for that is his meaning; when hee saies, Open to mee, so that I may rule, as in mine owne house, [Page 157] as the husband rules in his familie, and a King in his Kingdome, hee will have all yeelded up to him, And hee comes to beate downe all whatsoever is exalted against him, and that is the reason men are so loath to open unto him. They know if they open to the Spirit of God, hee will turne them out of their fooles Paradice, and make them resolve upon other courses of life, which because they will not turne unto, they repell the sweet motions of the Spirit of Christ, and pull away his Graces, building bullwarkes against Christ,2 Cor. 10. as lusts, strange imaginations, and resolutions. Let the Ministers say what they will, and the Spirit moove as he will, thus they live, and thus they will live. Let us take notice therefore of all the meanes that God useth to the state, and to us in par­ticular, and every one labour to amend one. Every soule is the Temple, the House Christ should dwell in, let every soule therefore among us consider what meanes Christ useth to come into his soule to dwell with him, and to rule there.

And what shall wee loose by it?Con [...]iderations inforcing us to entertaine Christ. Doe wee entertaine Christ to our losse? Doth hee come emptie? Noe, he comes with all Grace, his Goodnesse is a Communicative, diffusive good­nesse; Hee comes to spread his Treasures, to inrich the heart with all Grace and strength to beare all afflictions, to encounter all dangers, to bring peace of Conscience, and joy in the Holy Ghost; hee comes (indeed) to mak our hearts (as it were) a heaven. [Page 158] Doe but consider this, hee comes not for his owne ends; but to emptie his goodnesse into our hearts, as a breast that desires to emptie it selfe; when it is full. Soe this fountaine, hath the fulnesse of a fountaine, which strives to emptie his goodnesse into our soules; he comes out of love to us; Let these considerations melt our hearts for our unkindnesse, that we suffer him to stand so long at the doore knocking, as it is said heere.

If wee find not our suits answered so soone as we would; Remember, we have made him also waite for us; perhaps to humble us, and after that to incourage us, he will make us waite, for we have made him waite. Let us not give over, for certainely he that desires us to open, that he may powre out his Graces upon us, he will not reject us when we come to him,Math. 7. 7., If he answers us not at first,Habak. 2. 3. yet he will at last, Let us goe on, and waite, seeing there is no one duty pressed more in Scripture then this. And wee see it is equitie, Hee waites for us, Isa. 30. 18. it is good reason wee should waite for him, if we have not comfort presently, when wee desire it, let us attend upon Christ, as he hath attended upon us, for when he comes, hee comes with advantage;Isa. 60. 16. so that when we waite,Isa. 64. 3. wee loose nothing thereby, but are gainers by it, encreasing our patience.James. 1. 4. The longer wee waite, hee comes with the more abundant Grace and comfort in the end,Isa. 40. and shewes himselfe rich, and bountifull to them that waite upon him.

The end of the fift Sermon.

THE SIXT SERMON.SERM. VI.

CANT. V. II.‘It is the voice of my Beloved that knocketh, saying, open unto me, my love, my dove, my undefiled, &c.’

IN the first part of this verse, hath beene hand­led the Churches own condition which shee was in, after some bles­sed feelings that shee had of the love of Christ.

Now in the next words the Church sets downe an acknowledgement of the carriage of Christ to her in this her sleepie condition. [Page 160] It is the voice of my Beloved that knocks, saying, Open to mee my Sister, my Love, my Dove, &c. She acknowledgeth Christs voice in her sleepie estate, and sets downe his carriage thus, how hee knockes, and then also speakes, Open to mee, And then sets downe what hee suffered for her, My head is filled with dew, and my locks with the dropps of the night. And that nothing might be wanting that might moove her heart to respect this his carriage towards her, he useth sweete titles, a loving compellation, Open to mee (saith he,) my Sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled, as so many cords of love to draw her, so here wants neither loving carriage, sweet words, nor patience; It is the voice of my Beloved that knocketh.

The Church as she takes notice of the voice of Christ, so shee doth also of the meanes he useth, and seeth his love in them all. It is the voice of my Beloved that knocketh, saying, open to mee, &c. Here is also an other distinguishing note of a sound Christian from an unsound, A sanctified spirit sees Christ in the meanes, this is, sayes the heart, the word of Christ, and this the, mercie of Christ to take such paines with my soule, to send his Ministers, to provide his ordinances,Ephes. 4. 12. to give gifts to men, and men to the Church. It is the voice of my Beloved that knocketh.

But wee must especially understand it of the Ministeriall voice,That Christs knocking is es­pecially by the Ministery of the Word. whereby Christ doth chiefly make way for himselfe into the heart, and that [Page 161] by all kind of wayes dispensed therein: as gifts of all so [...]ts, some rougher, some milder, all kind of Methods and wayes in the Ministery to make way for himselfe, First of all by the threatnings of the Law, and by terrours, as Iohn was sent before Christ, and as the storme, went before the still and calme voice,1 King. 19. 12. wherein God came to Elias, so he useth all kind of courses in the Ministery; and Ministers by the direction of the Spirit turne themselves, as it were, into all shapes and fashions both of speech and Spirit to win people to God, in so much that God appeales to them, What could I have done more for my Church,Isa. 5. 1.that I have not done?

Therefore let us take notice of this voyce of Christ in the vvord,Vse. and not thinke as good Samuel thought,1 Sam. 3. 5. that Eli spake, when God spake; let us thinke that God speakes to us in the Ministery, that Christ comes to woe us, and win us thereby.

And wee Ministers are the friends of the Bridegroome, who are to heare what Christ saith and would have said to the Church, and we must pray to him, that he would teach us what to teach others. We are to procure the contract, and to perfect it till the marriage be in heaven, that is our worke.

And you that are hearers if you doe not regard Christs sweete voyce in the Ministery, which God hath appointed for the governement of the world, know, that there is a voice that you can­not shake of. That peremptorie voice at the [Page 162] day of judgement,Mat. 25. when he will say, Goe yee cursed into hell sire, &c. And that God who delights to be stiled a God hearing prayer, will not heare thee, but saith Such a one as turnes his care away from hearing the Law, Prov. 28. 9. his prayer is abominable. It is a dolefull t hing, that hee that made us, and allureth us in the Ministery, that followes us with all evidences of his love, and adds together with the Ministery many sweet motions of his Spirit, that he should delight in the destruction of his creatures, and not indure the sight of them, Depart away from me yee cursed into hell fire, &c. There are scarce any in the Church, but Christ hath allured at one time or other to come in, and in many he opens their understandings in a great measure, and knocks upon their hearts, that they (as it were) halfe open unto Christ, like Agrippa that said to Paul, Thou almost perswadest mee to be a Christian. Act. 26. 28. So Herod did many things, and he heard gladly. Mark. 6. 20. They are halfe open, seeme to open, but are not effectually converted, but at last they see, that further yeelding will not stand with that which they resolve not to part with; their lusts, their present condition that they make their God, and their heaven, whereupon they shutte the doore againe, when they have opened it a little to the motions of Gods Spirit, they dare give no further way, because they cannot learne the first lesson in Christs schoole, to denie themselves, and take up their crosse.

This is an undoubted conclusion, our blessed [Page 163] Saviour giveth such meanes and motions of his Spirit to the vil [...]st persons in the Church, that their owne hea [...]ts tell them, they have more meanes and [...]ecter motions, then they yeeld to, a [...]d that the sentence of c [...]nd [...]mnation is not pronounced upon them for meerely not knowing of Christ, but upon some grounds of rebellion, in that they goe not so farre as they are provoked, and put on by the Spirit of God, they resist the holy Spirit.Acts. 7 31. There can bee no resistance where there is not a going beyond the desire and will of him whom hee resisteth. A man doth not resist, when hee gives way as farre as he is mooved. There is no wicked man in the Church, that gives so much way as he is mooved and stirred to by the Spirit and word of God.

Away then with these impudent, ungracious Objections about Gods Decree for matter of Election, let us make it sure, and for any ill conceits that may rise in our hearts about that other of reprobation let this dampe them all, that in the Church of God, hee offers unto the vilest wretch so much meanes with the motions of his Spirit, as he resisting, proves inexcusable, his owne rebellion therefore being the cause of his rejection. Let men cease from cavilling, God hath that in their owne breast, in the heart of every carnall man, which will speake for God against him, and stop his mouth that hee shall be silent,Mar. [...]2. 12., and speechlesse at the day of judgement.

Thus we see that Christ doth condescend so [Page 164] low as to account it almost a part of his happi­nesse to have our soules for a Temple to dwell in, to rule there. Therefore he makes all this earnest suit, with strong expressions what he suffereth.

And since Christ beares this great and large affection to his poore Church, It may incou­rage us to pray heartily for the same, and to spread before God the state thereof. Why Lord? it is that part of the world that is thy Sister, thy Love, thy Dove, thy undefiled: the Communion with whom thou livst above all the world besides. It is a strong argument to prevaile with God. Therefore let us commend the state of the Church at this time, or at any time with this confidence. Lord, it is the Church that thou lovest. They thought they prevailed much with Christ when thy laboured to bring him to Lazarus, Ioh. 11. 3. saying, Lord, Hee whom thou lovest is sicke. So say wee, Simile. The Church whom thou lovest, that is thy only love, In whom thy love is concenterate (as it were) and gathered to abead, (as though thou hadst no other love in the world but thy Church) this thy love is in this state and condition. It is good to thinke of prevailing arguments, not to moove God so much, as our owne hearts, to strengthen our faith to prevaile with God, which is much, fortified with the confideration of Christs wonderous loving expression to his poore Church. Then, come to Christ, offer thy selfe, and he will meet thee. Are not two loving well-wishers well met? When th [...] offerest thy [Page 165] selfe to him, and hee seekes thy love, will hee reject thee when thou [...]mmest to him that seekes thy love, and seeketh it in this passionate, affecti­onate manner, as hee doth? Therefore, be of good comfort. Hee is more willing to enter­taine us then we are to come to him.

And for those that have relapsed any kind of way,That the Re­lapsed need no [...] desp [...]rately to be discouraged▪ let them not be discouraged to returne againe to Christ; the Church here was in a drowsie sleepie estate, and used him unkindly, yet he is so patient, that hee waites her leisure as it were and saith, Open to mee my Sister, my love, &c. Thomas was so untoward, that hee would not beleeve, Vnlesse hee did see the print of the na [...]es, &c. in Christs bodie. Yet Christ was so gratious as hee condescendeth to poore Thomas, so to Peter after hee was fallen, and to the Church after backsliding.

Open to me my Sister, &c.

Hence Observe further,

That Christ hath never enough of his Church till he hath it in Heaven, Obs [...]rv. where are indeed the kisses of the Spouse, and of Christ, In the meane while Open, Open still. Christ had the heart of the Spouse in some measure already, but yet there were some corners of the heart that were not so filled with Christ as they should be, hee was not so much in her under­standing, will, joy, delight, and love, as hee would be: therefore, Open thy understanding more and more to imbrace me, and divine truths that are offered thee; open thy love to solace [Page 166] me more and more. For God in Christ having condescended to the tearmes of friendsh [...]p nay to intimate tearmes of friendship in marriage with us. Therefore as the Church in her right temper, hath never enough of Christ, but de­sires further union, and communion still, It being the defcription of the people of God, that they love the appearance of Christ, as they loved his first appearance,2 Tim. 4. 18. and waited for the consola­tion of Israell; Revel. 21. 20. so they love his second appearing, and are never quiet, till hee comes againe in the flesh, to consummate the marriage begun heere: so Christ also he is as desirous of them, yea they are his desires that breed their desires; Open to mee my Sister, my love, my dove, &c. Againe his Love and pittie mooves him to desire further to come into us: Christ knowes what is in our hearts, if he bee not there, there is that, that should not bee there. What is in the braine where Christ is not? a deale of worldly pro­jects nothing worth. What is in our joy, if Christ bee not there? worldly joy, which cleaves to things worse then it selfe. If a man were anatomized, and seene into, hee would be ashamed of himselfe, if hee did see himselfe, Christ therefore out of pittie to our soules, would not have the Divell there; Christ knowes it is good for our soules to give way to him, therefore he useth all sweet allurements, Open to mee my Sister, my love, &c. Christ hath never his fill, till he close with the soule per­fectly, so that nothing be in the soule above him, [Page 167] nothing equall to him, therfore Open, Open, still.

Againe, He sets downe to moove the Church the more to open to him the inconveniences that hee indured, My head is filled with dew, &c. wherein hee shewes what he suffered, which sufferings are of two sorts. In himselfe. In his Ministers. In himselfe and in his owne blessed person, what did he endure? what patience had hee in enduring the refractorie spirits of men when he was here? how many indignities did he digest in his Desciples after their conversion? Towards his latter end, his Head was not onely filled with the dropps, but his bodie filled with drops of bloud. Drops of bloud came from him, because of the anguish of his Spirit, and the sense of Gods wrath for our sinnes. Upon the Crosse, what did hee indure there? that sense of Gods anger there was onely for our sinnes.Mat. 27. My God my God, why hast thou forsaken mee? What should wee speake of his going up and downe doing good, preaching in his owne person, setting whole nights apart for prayer; And then for what hee suffers in his Minister? there he knocks, and saith, Open in them. And how was hee used in the Apostles that were after him, and in the Ministers of the Church ever since, What have they indured? for he put a spirit of patience upon them. And what indig­nities indured they in the Primitive Church, that were the publishers, of the Gospell, those sweet publishers thereof, drawing men to open to Christ, were killed for preaching. So cruell [Page 168] is the heart, that it offereth violence to them, that love them most, that love their soules. And what greater love, then the love of the soule? yet this is the Satanicall temper and disposition of mens hearts, they hate those men most, that deale this way most truely and lovingly with them. It is not that the Gospell is such an hard message. It is the word of Reconciliation, and the word of life, but the heart hates it, because it would draw men from their present condition, and Therefore Condemnation is come into the world, in that men hate the light,Iohn. 3. 19.because their workes are evill. Is there any thing truely and cordially hated but Grace? and are any persons heartily and cordially hated in the world so much as the Promulgers and Publishers of Grace, and the Professours of it, because it upbraids most of all, and meddles with the corruptions of men, that are dearer to them then their owne soules.

Now what patience is there in Christ to suffer himselfe in his messengers, and his chil­dren to be thus used? Nor it is not strange to say that Christ stands thus in his Ministers, for 1 Pet. 3. 19. It is said, That Christ by his Spirit preached in the daies of Noah to the soules now in prison, Christ preached in Noahs time before he was Incarnate, much more doth he preach now: and as he was patient then to endure the old World, unto whom Noah preached a hun­dred and twenty yeares, so he is patient now in his Ministers to preach still by the same Spirit, [Page 169] Even to us still, and yet the enteatainement in many places is (as Paul complaines,) though the more I love you, 2 Cor. 12. 1 [...]. yet she lesse I am beloved of you.

Let these things moove us to be patient towards God and Christ, Vse. 1. if we be corrected in any kind, considering that Christ is so patient towards us, and to waite upon him with patience. How long hath he waited for our conversion? how long doth hee still waite for the through giving up of our soules to him? Shall we thinke much then to waite a little while for him?

And let this Spirit of Christ strengthen us likewise in our dealing with others, Vse. 2. as to beare with evill men, and as it is. 2 Tim. 2. 25, 26. To waite if God will at any time give them repen­tance. Neither may we be so short spirited that if we have not an answer presently to give over. Wee should imitate Christ heere, never give over as long as God continues life with any advantage and opportunitie to doe good to any soule, waite, if God at any time will give them Grace. Open to mee my Sister, my love, &c.

Let this aga [...]ne worke upon us, that our Saviour Christ here would thus set forth his love, and his patience in his love, in bearing with us thus under the resemblance of a silly suitor that comes afarre off and stands at the doore, and knocks, that Christ should stoope thus in seeking the good of our soules, Let this winn, and quicken our hearts with all readinesse, and thankfullnesse to receive him when hee comes to worke in our soules, considering, that Christ hath such a care [Page 170] of us by himselfe, his Ministers, and the motions of his Spirit, who joynes with his Ministrie; let not us therefore be carelesse of our owne soules; but let it moove our hearts to melt to him. The motives may be seene more in the particular compellations, Open to mee my Sister, my Love, &c.

My Sister.

This was spoken of before in the former verse. The Church of God is Christs Sister and Spouse, we are knit to him both by Consan­guinitie, and by Affinitie. The neerest as [...]initie is Marriage: and the neerest Consanguinitie is Sister. So that there are all Bonds to knit us to Christ; Whatsoever is strong in any bond, he knits us to him by it. Is there any love in an Husband, Math. 12. a Brother, a Mother, a Friend, in an Head to the members? in any thing in the world? Is there any love scattered in any re­lation, gather it all into one, and all that love, and a thousand times more then that, is in Christ in a more eminent manner, therefore he stiles himselfe in all these sweet relations, to shew that he hath the love of all, will a Sister shut out a Brother, when the Brother comes to visit her, and doe her all good? is this unkindnesse even in Nature to looke strangely upon a man that is neere a kin, that comes and saith, Open to mee my Sister? If the Sister should shut out the Brother, were it not most unnaturall? And is it not monstrous in Grace? when our Brother comes for our good, and in pittie to our soules [Page 171] to let him stand without doores? Remember that Christ hath the same affections, to account us Brothers and Sisters now in Heaven, as he had when hee was upon the Earth, For after his resurrection (saith he to his Disiciples) I goe to my God, Ioh. 20. 17. and to your God, to my Father, and to your Father; hee calls himselfe our Brother, having one common Father in Heaven, and one Spirit, and one inheritance, &c, This is a sweet relation, Christ beeing our Brother, his heart cannot but melt towards us in any affliction. Ioseph dissembled a while out of politicke wise­dome, Gen. 42. but because hee had a Brothers heart to Benjamin, therefore at last hee could not hould, but melted into teares, though hee made his countenance, as though he had not regarded. So our Ioseph now in Heaven, may seeme to withdraw all tokens, and signes of Brotherly love from us, and not to owne us, but it is onely in shew, hee is our Brother still, his heart first or last, will melt towards his Bretheren to their wonderfull comfort. My Sister, &c.

My Love.

That word we had not yet. It is worthy also a little standing on; for all these foure words bee (as it were) the attractive cords to draw the Spouse, not onely by shewing what hee had suffered, but by sweet titles, My Love, My Dove.

What had Christ no love but his Spouse? did his love goe out of his own heart to her (as it were?) It is strange, yet true, Christs love is so great to [Page 172] his Church and Children, and so continuall to it, that his Church and People and every Chirstian soule is the seate of his love, That love in his owne breast beeing in them, Ioh. 17. ult. they are his love, because hee himselfe is there, and one with them.

Hee loves all his Creatures, they have all some beames of his goodnesse, Which hee must needes love, therefore hee loves them as crea­tures, and as they be more or lesse capable of a higher degree of goodnesse; but for his Church and Children, they are his love indeed.

But what is the ground of such love?

1 1. Hee loves them at hee beholds them in his Fathers choise, as they are Elected of God, and given unto himselfe in Election:Ioh. 17. 6. Thine they are thou gavest them mee; Christ looking on us in Gods Election and choyce, loves us.

2 2. Againe, Hee loves us, because he sees his owne Graces in us, he loves what is his in us. Before we be actually his, he loves us with a love of good will, to wish all good to us; But when we have any thing of his Spirit, that our natures are altered and changed, he loves us with a love of the intimatest friendship; with the love of an Head, Husband, Friend, and what we can imagine; hee loves his owne Image. Paul saith,1 Cor. 11. 7. That the Wife is the glorie of her Hus­band; because what soever is in a good Husband, the Wife expresseth it by reflection. So the Church is the glory of Christ, shee reflects his excellencies, though in a weake measure, they [Page 173] shew forth his Vertues or prayses, as Peter speakes, thus hee sees his owne Image in her, and the Holy Ghost in his Church, hee loves her, and these in her: so as whether we regard the Father, or himselfe, or his Spirit, the Church is his Love.

If we consider also what he hath done and suffered 3 for her, wee may well say the Church is his love. Besides the former favours, (not to speake of Election, hee choosed us before we were) In time hee did choose us by actuall Election by which he called us: we had an existence, but we resisted, he called us when we resisted; and then also he justified us, and cloathed us with his owne Righteousnesse, and after feedes us with his owne Bodie. As the soule is the most excellent thing in the world, so he hath provided for it the most excellent ornaments. Jt hath foode and ornaments proportionable. What love is this, that he should feede our soules with his owne Bodie, and cloathe us with his owne Righteousnesse.Gal. 2. 20. Hee loved mee (saith Paule) what was the effect of his love? Hee gave himselfe for mee. Hee gave himselfe both that wee might have a Righteousnesse to cloathe us with in the sight of God, and he gave him­selfe, that he might be the bread of life,Joh. 6. 55. My flesh is meate indeed, and my bloud is drinke indeed. The guiltie, the selfe accusing soule feedes upon Christ dying for its sinnes. Againe, Revel. 1. 6. you have his love set forth, Hee loved us, and how doth he witnesse it? Hee hath washed us [Page 174] with his owne bloud, and hath made us Kings, and Priests, &c. the like you have, Ephes. 5. Hee loved us, and gave himselfe a swee [...]e Sacrifice to God for us. When this world is at an end, we shall see what his love is; hee is not satisfied, till we be all in one place. What doth he pray for to his Father, Ioh. 17. 24. Father I will, that those whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, &c. runne through all the whole course of Salvation, Election, Vocation, Justification, Glorification, you shall see his love in all of them. But it were an infinite argument to follow, to shew the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge,Eph. 4. 16. and it is too large for us to know all the dimensions of it, to see the height, breadth, depth, and length of it, which wee should ever thinke speake and meditate of, because the soule is then in the most fit temper to serve, love, and glorifie God, when it is most apprehensive of his great love.

This phrase imports diverse things,Deductions out of the word Love. That there is not saving love to any out of the Church, 1 which is his love. It is (as it were) confined in the Chruch, as if all the beames of his love met in that center, as we see when the beames of the Sunne meete in a glasse, they burne, because many are there united. So in the Church all his love doth meete.

2 Then the Church is his love also, Because whatsoever shee hath or hopes for, is from his love, and is nothing but his love. The Church as it is a Chruch is nothing but the love of Christ. [Page 175] that there is a Church so endowed, so gra­ced, so full of the hope of glorie, it is out of his love.

And for the properties of it.Properties of it. It is a free love, a pr [...]venting love; he loved us before ever we could love him; he loved us when we resisted him, and were his enemies.

It is a most tender love, as you have it Isa. 49.2 15. C [...]n a mother forget her sucking child, if she should yet will not I forget thee? thou art written on the palmes of my hands, &c. He hath us in his hart, in his eye, in his hand, in a mothers hart,Deut. 33. 2. and beyond it; he hath a tender eye and a powerfull hand to maintaine his church.

It is a most transcendent, and carefull love, all 3 comparisons are under it.

And it is a most intimate invinsible love, that nothing could quench it, as we se heere the 4 Church droupeth, and had many infirmities, yet she is Christs love, so that the love of Christ is a kinde of love that is unconquerable, no water will ever quench it, no sinne of ours, no infirmitie; So as it is very comfortable that the Church considered under infirmities is yet the love of Christ, I sleepe, but my hart waketh, yet Christ comes with my love, my dove, &c.

But what cannot Christ see matter of weake­nesse,Quest. sinfullnesse, hatred, and dislike in the Chruch?

Oh yes, to pitty, helpe, and heale it,Answ. but not at all to diminish his love, but to manifest [Page 176] it so much the more. His love is a tender love, sensible of all things wherewith we displease him, yet it is so invincible and unconquerable, that it overcomes all. Againe he sees ill indeed in us, but he sees in us some good of his owne also, which moves him more to love, then that that is ill in us, moves him to hate, for what he sees of ours, he sees with a purpose to vanquish, mortifie, and ea [...]e it out; the Spirit is as fire to consume it, He is as water to wash it, but what he sees of his owne, he sees with a purpose to encrease it more and more, and to perfect it, therefore he says my Love, not­withstanding that the Church was a sleepe.

This therefore serves greatly for our comfort,Vse. to search what good Christ by his Spirit hath wrought in our harts, what faith, what love, what sanctified judgement, what fire of [...]oly affections to him, and to the best things, O let us value our selves by that that is good, that Christ hath in us. We are Christs love notwithstanding we are sleepie, if we be dis­pleased with this our state, that as Christ dis­likes it, so if we by the Spirit dislike i [...], the matter is not what sinne we have in vs; but how we are affected to it. Have we that ill in us, which is truly the griefe of our harts and soules, which as Christ dislikes, so we abhorre it, and would be purged, and ridd of it; and it is the griefe of our harts and soules, that we cannot be better, and more lovely in Christs eye? then let us not be discouraged. For [Page 177] Christ estemes of his Church highly, even as his very love, even at that time when she was sleepie. And may [...]each us in time of tempta­tion not to hearken to Sathan, who then moves us to looke altogether upon that which is naught in us, thereby to abate [...]ur love to Christ and our apprehension of his to us; for he knowes if we be sensible of the love of Christ to us, we shall love him againe. For love is a kinde of fire, an active quality, which will set us about glorifying God, and pulling downe Sathans kingdome; As we say in nature (fi [...]e doth all) what worke almost can a man worke without fire, by which all instruments are made and heated &c. So grace doth all with love; God first doth manifest to our soules his love to us in Christ, and quicken us by his Spirit, wit­nessing his love to us wherewith he warmes our harts, kindles and insta [...]es them so with love, that we love him againe, which love hath a constraining sweet violence to put us upon all duties, to suffer, to do, to resist any thing. If a man be in love with Christ, what will be harsh to him in the world? the divell knowes this well enough, therefore one of his maine en­gines, and temptations is to weaken our harts in the sence of Gods love and of Christs. Therefore let us be as wise for our soules as he is subtill, and politique against them; as watchfull for ou [...] owne comfort, as he is to discomfort us, and make us despaire. Let us be wise [...]o gather all the arguments of Christ [Page 178] love, that we can.

But how shall we know that Christ loves us in this peculiar manner?Quest.

First,Answ. Search what course he takes and hath taken to draw thee neerer unto him; Heb. 12. he chasti­seth every one that he loveth. Seasonable cor­rections sanctified is a signe of Christs love, when he will not suffer us to thrive in sinne, when we cannot speake nor doe amisse; but either he lasheth us in our conscience for it, and by his Spirit checks us, or else stirrs up others, one thing or other to make us our of love with sinne.

2 Againe, we may gather Christs love by this, if we have any love to divine things and can set a great price upon the best things, upon the word, because it is Christs word; upon grace, prizing the image of Christ, and the new creature, when we can set an high value upon communion with Christ, the sence of his love in our hearts and all spirituall pre­rogatives, and excellencies above all things, this is an excellent argument of Christs love to us, Our love is but a reflection of his, and therefore if we have love to any thing that is good, we have it from him first. If a wall that is cold become hot, we say, the Sunne, of neces­s [...]ry must shine on it first, because it is nothing but cold stone of it selfe. So if our hearts, that are naturally cold be heated with the love of divine things, certainely we may say, Christ hath shined here first: for naturally our harts [Page 179] are of a cold temper, there is no such thing as spirituall love growing in our natures and harts.

You have many poore soules helped with this, who cannot tell whether Christ love them or noe, but this helpes them a little, they can find undoubted arguments of their love to Christ, his Image and servants, and of relishing the word, though they find much corruption; and this their love to divine things tells them by demonstrations from the effects, that Christ loves them, because there is no love to divine, and supernaturall things without the love of Christ first. And the graces in our hearts, they are love tokens given to the spouse. Common favours he gives, as Abraham gifts to his servants and others, but speciall gifts to his spouse, if therefore there be any grace, a tender and soft heart, a prizing of heavenly things, love to Gods people and truth, then we may comfortly conclude Christ loves us, not only because they are reflections of Gods love, but because they are iewels and ornaments that Christ onely bestowes upon his spouse, and not 3 upon reprobates,Ioh 15. 15. such pretious iewells as these.Psal. [...]5.

By discovering his secrets to us, for that is an argu­ment of love. Doth Christ by his Spirit dis­cover the secret love the hath borne to us before all worlds? doth he discover the breast of his father, and his owne heart to us? this disco­very of secret affections, of intire love sheweth our happiestate; for that is one prerogative of [Page 180] freindship, and the cheefest discovery of se­crets, when he gives us a particular right to truthes, as our owne, that we can goe challenge them, these are mine, these belong to me, these promises are mine, this discovery of the secret love of God,Vse. 1. and of the interest we have in the promises, is a signe that Christ loves us, and that in a peculier manner we are his love.

1 Let us be like our blessed Saviour,Reproofe▪ that where wee see any saving goodnesse in any let us love them: for should not our love meete with our Saviours love. Shall the Church of God be the love of Christ, and shall it be our hatred? Shall a good christian be Chists love, and shall he be the object of my hatred and scorne? can we imitate a better patterne? O let us never thinke our estate to be good, excepet every child of God be our love as hee is Christs love. Can I love Christ, and cannot I love him in whom I see Christ? It is a signe that I hate himselfe, when I hate his Image. It is to bee wondered at that the Divell hath prevailed with any so much, as to thinke they should be in a good 2 estate,Reproofe. when they have hearts rising against the best people, and who as they grow in grace, so they grow in there dislike of them. Is heere the Spirit of Christ? And let them likewise be here reproved, that are glad to see any Christian hault, slip, and goe awry. The best Christians in the world have that in part, which is wholly in another man; he hath flesh in him. Shall we utterly distaste a Christian for that? The [Page 181] Church was now in a sleepie condition, and yet notwithstanding Christ takes not the advan­tage of the weakenesse of the Church to ca­sheere, and to hate her, but he pitties her the more, and takes a course to bring her againe into a good state and condition. Let us not therefore be glad at the infirmities and failings of any, that discover any true goodnesse in them; it may be our owne case ere long, it casts them not out of Christs love, but they dwell in his love still, why should we then cast them out of our love and affections? Let them be our love still, as they are the love of Christ, notwithstanding their infirmities.

The end of the Sixt Sermon.

THE SEVENTH SERMON.SER. VII.

CANT. V. II. III.

My Love, my Dove, my Vn­defiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the dropps of the night.

I have put of my coate, how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them?

Hat the life of a Christian is a perpetuall conflicting, appeares evidently in this Booke, the passages where­of joyned with our owne expe [...]iences, s [...]fici [...]ntly de­clare what combats, Try­alls, and temptations the Sa [...]ts are subject unto [Page 183] after their new birth and change of life, now up, now downe, now full of good resolutions, now againe sluggish and slow not to be waked, nor brought forwards by the voice of Christ, as it was with the Church here, shee will not out of her sleepe to open unto Christ, though he call and knocke, and stand waiting for entrance. She is now desirous to pittie her selfe, and needs no Peter to stirre her up unto it, the flesh of it selfe is prone enough to draw backe, and make excuses to hinder the power of grace from its due operation in us. She is layed along (as it were) to rest her; yet is not she so asleepe, but shee discernes the voice of Christ, but up and rise she will not

Thus we may see the truth of that speech of our Saviour verified,Ioh. 3. 6. That which is borne of the flesh is flesh, and that which is borne of the Spirit is Spirit. The flesh pulls her backe, the Spirit would raise her up to open to Christ, he in the meane while makes her inexcusable, and pre­pares her by his knocking, waiting and de­parting: as for a state of further Humiliation, so for an estate of further Exaltation. But how lovingly doth he speake to her?

Open unto me my Love,

Hee calles her my Love, Why my Love. especially for two 1 respects; partly because his love was setled upon her, it was in his owne breast, but it rested not there, but seated it selfe upon, and in the heart of his spouse, so that shee became Christs love. Wee know the heart of a lover is more [Page 184] where it loves, then where it lives, (as we use to speake) and indeed, there is a kind of a going out (as it were) to the thing beloved with a heedlesnesse of all other things, where the affection is in any excesse, it carries the whole soule with it.

But besides this, when Christ saith my love, 2 he shews, that as his love goes, and plants, and seates it selfe in the Church, so it is united to that, and is not scattered to other objects. There are beames of Gods generall love scattered in the whole World, but this love, this excee­ding love, is onely fastened upon the Church. And indeed there is no love comparable to this love of Christ, which is above the love of Woemen, of Father, or Mother, If we consider what course he takes to shew it; For there could be nothing in the world so great to discover his love, as this gift, and gift of himselfe, And therefore hee gave himselfe (the best thing in Heaven or in Earth) withall to shew his love, The Father gave him, when he was God equall with his Father, he loved his Church, and gave himselfe for it; how could he discover his love better, then to take our Nature to shew how he loved us? how could he come neerer to us, then by beeing incarnate,Ephes. 5. 30. so to be bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, and tooke our nature to shew how he loved it. Love drawes things neerer wheresoever it is; It drew him out of Hea­ven to the Wombe of the Virgin, there to be in­carnate, and after that, when he was borne not [Page 185] onely to be a man, but a miserable man, because we could not be his spouse unlesse he purchased us by his death. Wee must be his spouse by a satisfaction made to Divine Iustic [...]. God would not give us to him, but with salving his Iustice. What sweete love is it to heale us not by sea­ring, or lancing, but by making a plaister of his owne bloud, which he shed for those that shed his in malice and hatred. What a wondrous love is it, that he should powre forth teares for those that shed his bloud,Mat. 23. 37. O Ierusalem, Ieru­salem, &c. that he prayed for those that perse­cu [...]ed him? and what wondrous love is it now that he sympathizeth with us in Heaven, ac­counting the harme that is done to the least member he hath, as done to himselfe? S [...]l S [...]l why persecutest thou mee? Acts. 9. 4. and that he should take us into one Body with himselfe,1 Cor. 12. to make one Christ? and he doth not content himselfe with any thing he can doe for us here, but his desire is that we may be one with him more and more, and be for ever with him in the hea­vens, as you have it in that excellent prayer. I [...]hn. 17. 24.

Now this should stirre us up to be fully per­swaded of his love, that loves us so much. Christs love in us, is as the loadstone to the Iro [...], our hea [...]ts are heavy and downwards of them­selves. We may especially know his love by this, that it drawes us upwards, and makes us heavenly minded, it makes us de [...]ir [...] further and further communion with him, still there is [Page 186] a magneticall attractive force in Christs love, wheresoever it is, it drawes the heart and affe­ctions after it.

And we may know from hence one Ar­gument to proove the stability of the Saints,Vse. 2. and the immortality of the soule, because Christ calles the Church his love. The want of love againe (where it is intire, and in any great mea­sure) is amiserie. Christ therefore should suf­fer, if those he hath planted his love upon, whom he loves truely, either should fall away for ever, or should not be immortall for ever. Christ will not loose his love; and as it is an argument of persevering in Grace; So is it of an everlasting beeing that this soule of ours hath, because it is capable of the love of Christ, seeing there is a sweete union, and communion betweene Christ and the soule. It should make Christ miserable (as it were) in Heaven, the place of happinesse, if there should not bee a meeting of him and his spouse, there must there­fore be a meeting,Hos. 2. which marriage is for ever, that both may be for ever happy one in an other.

Let us often warme our hearts with the con­sideration hereof,Vse. 3. because all our love is from this love of his. Oh the wonderfull love of God, that both such [...]ranscendent Majesty, and such an infinite love should dwell together. (We say) Majesty and love never dwell to­gether, because, Love is an [...] of the soule to all services. But herein it is false, for here Ma­jesty and L [...]ve dwell together in [...] heart of [Page 187] one Christ, which Majesty hath stooped as low, as his Almightiy power could give leave. Nay it was an Almigity power, that hee could stoope so low and yet be God keeping his Majesty still. For God to become man, to hide his Majesty for a while, not to be know [...]e to be God, and to hide so farre in this nature, as to die forus. What an Almighty power was this, that could goe so low and yet preserve himself [...] God still, yet this we see in this our blessed Saviour, the greatest Majesty met with the greatest abasement that ever was, and all out of love to our poore soules. There was no stoo­ping, no abasement that was ever so low as Christ was abased unto us, to want for a time even the comfort of the presence of his Father. There was an union of Grace, but the union of solace, and comfort, that he had from him was suspended for a time, out of love to us, for he had a right in his owne Person to be in Heaven presently. Now for him to live so long out of Heaven, and oft times, especially towards his suffering to be without that solace (that he might be a sacrifice for our sinnes) to have it suspended for a time, what a condescending was this? It is said, Psal. 113. 6. that God stoopes To behold the things done here below. It is indeed a wondrous condescending, that God will looke upon things below; but that hee would become man, and out of love to save us, suffer as he did here, this is wondrous humility to astonishment. We thinke humility is not a [Page 188] proper grace, becomming the Majesty of God; so it is not indeed, but there is some re­semblance of that grace in God, especially in Christ, that he should to reveale himselfe, vaile himselfe with flesh, and all out of love to us, The consideration of these things are wondrous effectuall, as to strengthen Faith, so to kindle Love. Let these be for a taste to direct our me­ditations herein. It followes.

My Dove.

We know when Christ was baptised, the Holy Ghost appeared in the shape of a Dove (as a symbole of his presence,)Math. 3. to discover thus much, That Christ should have the propertie 1 and disposition of a Dove, Mat. 11. 29. And be meeke and gentle. For indeed he became man for that end to be a mercifull Saviour. Learne of me, for I am meeke and lowly. Mat. 12. 20. And I will not quench the smoaking flaxe, nor breake the bruised reede, &c. said he, and therefore the Spirit appeared upon him in the shape of a Dove. As likewise, To 2 shew what his office should be; for even as the Dove in Noahs Arke was sent out, and came home againe to the Arke with an Olive branch, to shew that the waters were abated: So Christ was to preach deliverance from the deluge of Gods anger, and to come with an Olive leafe of peace in his mouth, and reconciliation, to shew that Gods wrath was appeased. When he was borne,Luk. 2. 14. the Angels sung, Glory to God on high, on earth peace, and good will towards men: Now as Christ had the Spirit in the likenesse of [Page 189] a Dove, So all that are Christs, the spouse of Christ, have the disposition of Christ, that Spirit that framed him to be like a Dove, frames the Church to be a Dove, as the oyntment that was powred on Aarons head,Psal. 133. 3. it ran downe upon the lowest skirts of his garments.

Now the Church is compared to a Dove; partly, for the disposition that is and should be in the Church resembling that creature. And partly also, For that the Church is in a mournfull suf­fering cond [...]tion. 1. For the like disposition as is found in a dove. There is some good in all creatures,That every Creature hath in it some beame of the Majesty of God. there is no creature but it hath a beame of Gods Majesty, of some Attribute, but some more then others. There is an Image of vertue even in the inferiour creatures. Where­fore the Scripture sends us to them for many vertues, as the sluggard to the Ant, and indeed we may see the true perfection of the first Creation, the state of it more in the creatures then in our selves, for there is no such degene­ration in any creature as there is in man.

Now that which in a Dove the Scripture aimes at,Properties of the Dov [...]. Wee should resemble a Dove in, is his 1 meekenesse especially. Meekenesse. The Church is meeke both to God and Man, not given to murmurings and revengement; meeke, that is, I held my tongue without murmuring (as it is in the Psalme) I was dumbe, &c.Psal. 39. 2. which is a grace that Gods Spirit frames in the heart of the Church, and every particular Christian, even to be meeke towards God by an holy silence; And likewise [Page 190] towards men to put on the Bowells of meekenesse, as we are exhorted, Collos. 3. 12. As the elect of God put on the Bowells of meekenesse, and com­passion, &c. Hereby we shall shew our selves to be Christs, and to have the Spirit of Christ. And this grace disposeth us to a neerer com­munion with God then other graces: it is a grace, that God most delights in, and would have his spouse to be adorned with, as is shewed, 1. Pet. 3. 4. where the Apostle tells woemen, it is the best Jewell and ornament that they can weare, and is with God of great price. Moses we reade, was a mighty man in prayer;Numb. 12. 3. and a speciall meanes to helpe and fit him thereunto, was because he was the meekest man on earth. And therefore,1 Pet. 5. 5. Zeph. 2. 1, 2. Seeke the Lord seeke meekenesse. And it fitts a man for communion with God. For God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the meeke and humble. It is a grace that empties the soule of selfe conceit, to thinke a mans selfe unworthy of any thing, and so makes it capacious, low, and fit for God to fill with a larger measure of his Spirit; it takes away the roughnesse and swelling of the soule, that keepes out God and grace, therefore in that grace wee must especially be like this meeke creature, which is no vindicative creature, that hath no way to revenge it selfe.

Againe it is a simple creature without guile, it hath no way to defend it selfe, but onely by flight. There is a simplicity that is sinfull, when there is no mixture of wisdom in it. There [Page 191] is a simplicity, that is a pure simplicity, and so God is simple, which simplicity of God is the grou [...]d of many o [...]her attributes. For t [...]er [...]po [...] hee is Eternall, because there is nothing co [...] ­trarie in him, there is no mixture in him of any thing opposite, so th [...]t is a good simplicity in us, when there is no mixture of fraude, no du­plicity in the soule;Iames 1. 8. A double hearted man is inconstant and unstable in all his wayes. Now simplicity as it is a vertue, so we must im [...]tate the Dove in it, for there is a sinnefull Dove-like sillynesse. For Hosea. 7. 11. Ephra [...]m is said there to be like a silly Dove without heart, they call t [...] Egipt, they goe to Assiria, There is a fatall sim­plicity usually going before destruction, when wee hate those that defend us, and account them enemies, and relie more upon them that are enemies indeed then upon friends. So it was with Ephraim before his destruction, he was a silly Dove without heart, he called to Egypt and went to Assyria (false friends) that were ene­myes to the Church of God; yet they trusted them more then God or the Prophets. Men have a world of tricks to unde [...]mine their friends, to ruine them, and to deserve ill of those that would with all their hearts deserve well of them, when yet in the meane time they can gratifie the enemy, please them and hold correspondencie with them, as heere Ephraim did. Ephraim is a silly Dove, &c. This therefore is not that which wee must aime at, but to be simple and children concerning [Page 192] evill, but not in ignorance and simplicitie that way.

Againe, this creature is a faithfull creature, 3 that is mainely here aimed at;Faith [...]ulnesse. it is faithfull to the mate, So the Christian soule by the Spirit of God, it is made faithfull to Christ, it keepes the judgement chast, is not tainted with errors and sinnes, hee keepes his affections chast like­wise, sets nothing in his heart above Christ, whom hath hee in Heaven but him, and what is there in Earth hee desires beside him. Psal. 73. 25. You know in the Revelation, the Spouse of Christ is brought in like a Virgin contracted, but the Romish Church like a whore. Therefore the Church of God must take heed of the Roman Church, for that is not a Dove, wee must be Virgins, who must keepe chast soules to Christ, as you have it Reve. 14. 4. Those that follow the Lamb,Rev. 14. 4.whereso­ever hee goeth, they have not defiled themselves with woemen, the meaning is spirituall, namely that they have not defiled themselves with Idolatry and spirituall fornication: they have chast hearts to Christ. So in this respect they resemble the Dove; These therefore that draw away from the love of religion to mixture, to be meretrices, and harlots in religion, they are not Christs doves, as farre as they yeeld to this, it is an argument that they have false hearts; Christs Church is a Dove, she keepes close and inviolate to him.

Againe,Nea [...]esse. This creature is of a neate d [...]sposition, 4 it will not lodge where it shall bee troubled [Page 194] with stench, and annoyed that way, and like­wise feedes neately on pure graine, not upon carrion, as you see in the Arke, when the Raven was sent out it lights upon carrion, of which there was then plenty, and therefore never came into the Arke againe.Gen. 8. 7. But the Dove, when she went out would not light upon carrion, or dead things; and so finding noe fit food came backe againe to the Arke. Simile. So the Christian soule in this respect is like a Dove, that will not feed upon worldly carrion, or sinnefull pleasures, but upon Christ and spirituall things. The soule of a carnall, and a naturall man useth to feed upon dust, earth and earthly things, when the soule of a true Christian, that hath the taste of Grace, feedes n [...]atly, it will not feed on that which is base and earthly, but upon heavenly and spirituall things.

5 It is Gregaria avis, a bird that loves commu­ [...]ion and fellowship, as the Prophet speakes, Who are those that flocke to the windowes as Doves, Isa. 60. 8. for so they use to flocke to their houses by com­panies. So the children of God love the com­munion and fellowship one of another, and keep severed from the world, as soone as ever they are seperated from it; delighting in all those of the same nature. Doves will consort with Doves, Christians with Christians and none els [...], they can relish no other company, these and such like properties may profitably bee considered of the D [...]ve. The much standing [...]pon these were to wrong the intendment of the [Page 194] Spirit of God; to neglect them altogether, were as much. Therefore wee have touched upon some properties onely.

Now For the sufferings of the Church it is like a Dove in this. The Dove is molested by all the 2 Birds of prey, it being the common prey of all other ravenous birds. So the poore Church of God is persecuted and molested, Oh that I had wings like a Dove, &c (saith holy David) It is an old speech, and is for ever true, That Crowes and such escape better then Doves. The punishment that should light on Ravens oft times it lights on Doves, thus Gods Dove, Gods Church is used.

But, What defence hath Gods poore Church? why no defence. But

First, flight, even as the Dove hath nothing but flight, it hath no tallents to wound, but it hath flight, so we are to fly to God as to our mountaine, fly to the Arke that God may take us in. The Church of God hath no other refuge but to be housed in God and Christ,Prov. 18. 10. he is our Arke.

Secondly, and to mourne as Hezekiah saith of himselfe. Isay. [...]8. Hee mourned as a Dove, and chat [...]er [...]d like a Crane. The state of the Church of God is like the Turtles, to mourne in all af­flictions, desertions, and molestations of wicked men, to mourne to God who heares the bemonings of his owne Spirit in them: and woe to all other birds, the birds of prey, when the Turtles doe mourne (because of their cruelty) it is a pre­sage [Page 194] [...] [Page 194] [...] [Page 195] of ruine to them, when they force the Tur­tle to sorrow, and mourning.

3 And then Thirdly, they have another re­fuge besides flight and mourning, which is to build high from v [...]rmin [...] that would otherwise molest them. Instinct teacheth them thus to es­cape their enemies by building high, and so to secure themselves. So there is in Gods chil­deren a gratious instinct put, an Antipathie to the enemies of it, which tends to their safetie, in that they mingle not themselves with them. And likewise, God breeds in them a familia­ritie with himselfe, and stirrs them to build in him as on a rocke, to be safe in him.

But you will object,Object. If the Church of God bee his Dove, why is it so with it as it is, that God should suffer his love and his Dove,Psal. 74. 19. and his turtle thus (as it were) to bee preyed upon. Give not the soule of the Turtle to the beasts (saith the Psalmist) If the Church were Gods Dove he would esteeme more of it then hee doth, [...]nd not suffer it to bee persecuted thus?

God never forsakes his Dove, but is an Arke for it to fly to, a Rocke for it to build on, The Dove hath alwayes a refuge in God and in Christ in the worst times; You have a notable place for this. Psal. 68. 13. Though you have lyen among the po [...]s (that is) smeared, and sullied; yet they shall bee as the wings of a Dove covered with silver and her feathers with yellow gold, when [...]he almighty scattered Kings in it, it was white as the snow in Salmon. So though the Church of [Page 196] God lies among the pots a while all smeared, and soiled, and sullied with the ill usage of the world, yet as long as it keepes it selfe a Dove, unspotted of the filth of the world and sinne, though it bee smeared with the ill usage thereof, we see what God promiseth heere; Yet shall they bee as the wings of a Dove covered with silver and her feathers with yellow gold. So God will bring forth his Dove with glory out of all these abasements at length. So much for the title of Dove. It followes

My Vndefiled.

Vndefiled is a high word to be applied to the Church of God here, for the Church groning under infirmities to be counted perfect and undefiled: but Christ who judgeth aright of his Church, and knowes best what she is; Hee yet thus judgeth of her. But, How is that? The Church is Vndefiled (especially) in that it is the Spouse of Christ and cloathed with the robes of his Righteousnesse. For there is an exchange so soone as ever we are united to Christ, our sinnes are upon him, and his Righteousnesse is made ours; and therefore in Christ the Church is undefiled. Christ himselfe the second Person is the first lovely thing next the Father, and in Christ all things as they have relation to Him are loved, as they are in Him. Christs humane Nature is next loved to the second Person, it is Vnited, and is first pure, holy, and beloved, Then because the Church is Christ misticall, it is neere to him (and in a manner) as neere [Page 195] [...] [Page 196] [...] [Page 197] as that sacred Body of his, both making up one Christ mysticall, And so is amiable, and be­loved even of God himselfe, who hath pure eyes: yet in this respect lookes upon the Church as Vndefiled.

Christ and his Church are not to be consi­dered as two, when we speake of this undefiled­nesse, but as one. And the Church having Christ with all that is Christs, they have the field, and the pearle in the field together, and Christ giving himselfe to the Church, he gives his Righteousnesse, his perfection, and holines, all is the Churches.

But how can it be the Churches, when it is not in the Church, but in Christ?

It is safe for the Church that it is in Christ who is perfect, and Vndefiled; for us to make us appeare so: and so it is in Christ the second Adam for our good: it is not in him as another person; but it is in him, as the Churches Head, that make both one Christ. The hand and the foot see not; but both hand and foot have be­nefit by the eye that sees for them. There is no member of the body understands, but the head does all for them. Put the case we have not absolute Righteousnesse, and undefilednesse in our owne Natures and persons inheering in us. Yet we have it in Christ that is one with us, who hath it for our good. It is ours; For all the comfort, and good that we may have by it, and thereupon, The Church in Christ is undefiled: yea even then when it feeles its own defilements. [Page 198] And here ariseth that wondrous contradiction that is found in a beleevers apprehension. The nature of faith is to apprehend Righteousnesse, in the sence of sinne, Happinesse, in the sence of misery, and favour in the sence of displeasure

And the ground of it is; Because that at the same time, the soule may be in some measure defiled in it selfe, and yet notwithstanding be undefiled in her head and husband Christ. Hence the guilty soule, when it feeles corrup­tion and sinne, yet notwithstanding doth see it selfe holy, and cleane in Christ the head, and so at once there is a conscience of sinne, and no more conscience of sinne, as the Apostle saith, Heb. 10. 2. when we believe in Christ, and are purged with his bloud, that is, there is no more guilt of sin binding over to eternall damnation, yet notwithstanding alwayes there is a con­science of sinne, for we are guilty of infirmities,1 Joh. 1. 10. And if we say we have no sinne we lie and deceive our selves.

But, How can this be that there should be con­science of sinne, and no conscience of sinne,Object. a sinner, and yet a perfect Saint and undefiled?

The Conscience knowes its owne imper­fection, so it is defiled,Answ. 1. and accuseth of sinne: And as it lookes to Christ so it sees it selfe pure, and purged from all sinne; Here is the conquest, fight, and the victory of Faith in the deepest sence of sinne, pollution and defilement in our selves; at the same time to see an absolute, and perfect Righteousnesse in Iesus Christ. Herein [Page 199] is even the triumph of Faith whereby it answers God. And Christ who sees our imperfections, (but it is to purge and cleanse them away, not to damne us for them;) at the same time hee sees us in his owne love, cloathed with his Righteousnesse, as one with himselfe indowed with whatsoever he hath, his satisfaction and obedience being ours, as verily as any thing in the world is. Thus hee lookes on us, and thus faith lookes upon him too, and together with the sight, and sense of sinne, at the same time, it apprehends Righteousnesse, perfect Righ­teousnesse, and so is undefiled. This is the maine point in Religion, and the comfort of Christians to see their perfection in Christ Iesus, And to be lost in themselves (as it were) and to be onely found in him, not having their owne Righteousnesse, but the Righteousnesse of God in him. Phil. 3. 9. This is a mistery which none knowes but a beleeving soule; none see corruption more, none see themselves freed more, they have an inward sight to see corruption, and an inward faith to see God takes not advantage at it. And surely there can be no greater honour to Christ then this, In the sence of sin, of wants, imper­fections, staines, and blemishes, yet to wrap our selves in the righteousnesse of Christ God­man, and by faith beeing thus covered with that absolute Righteousnesse of Christ, with boldnesse to goe cloathed in the garments of this our elder Brother, to the throne of grace, This is an honour to Christ, to attribute so much [Page 200] to his Righteousnesse, That being cloathed therewith, we can boldly breake through the fire of Gods justice, and all those terrible attri­butes, when we see them all (as it were) sa­tisfied fully in Christ. For Christ with his righteousnesse could goe through the justice of God, having satisfied it to the full for us. And we being cloathed with this his Righteousnesse and satisfaction may goe through too.

But besides that there is another undefilednes in the Church, in respect to which she is called 2 undefiled, that is, in pur [...]ty of disposition, tending to perfection. And God respects her according to her better part, and according to what hee will bring her in due time. For we are chosen un [...]o perfection, and to be holy in his fight, and perfectly holy, undefiled and pure, we are not chosen to weake beginnings.

In choosing us, what did God ayme at? Did hee ayme at these imperfect beginnings to rest there? No, we were elected and chosen to perfection; For as it is in this naturall life, God purposed that we should not onely have all the limbes of men, but grow from infancie to activenesse and perfection; As God at first intended so much for our bodies, no question hee intends as much also for the soule, that we should not onely have the lineaments of Chri­stianity, a sanctified judgement with affections in part renewed; But hee hath chosen us to per­fection by degrees. As the seed first lyes rot­ting in the ground, then growes to a stalke, and [Page 201] then to an eare; So Gods wisedome shines here by bringing things by degrees to per­fection, and undefilednesse. His Wisedome will have it thus, or else his Power might have it otherwise, because he will have us to live by Faith, to trust his mercy in Christ, and not to the undefilednesse that is begunne in us, but to admire that which wee have in Christ him­selfe.

And indeed it is the character of a judicious beleeving Christian soule, that he can set a price, and value the Righteousnesse of Christ out of himselfe, labouring, living and dying to appeare in that, and yet to comfort and sustaine himselfe during this Conflict and Sight betweene the flesh and the Spirit, that in time this inherent Grace shall be brought to perfection.

And Christ hee lookes upon us as he meanes to perfect the worke of Grace in us by little and little, as he meanes to purge and cleanse us, as Ephes. 5. 26, 27. The end of Redemption is, that he might purge his Church, and so never leave it, till he have made it a glorious Spouse in Hea­ven. He lookes upon us, as we shall be ere long, and therefore we are said, To be dead to sinne while we are but dying to it. And (saith he) You have cruc [...]fied the flesh with the affections, and lusts thereof, when we are but crucifying it;Gal. 5. 24. but it is said so, Because it is as sure to be done, as if it were done already. As a man, when he is condemned, and going to his execution, he is a dead man; So there is a sentence passed upon [Page 202] sinne and corruption, it shall be abolished and die. Therefore it is dead in sentence, and is dying in execution. It is done,Gal. 5. 24. They that are in Christ have crucified the flesh with the lusts thereof. It is as sure to faith as if it were done already. So wee are said to fit in heavenly places with Christ, wee are with him already.Eph. 2. 6. For Christ having taken us so neere in affection to himselfe, he will never leave us, till he have made us such, as hee may have full contentment in, which is in Heaven; when the contract betweene him and us shall be fulfilled in consummation of the marriage. Thus faith lookes, and Christ lookes thus upon us. Which should comfort us in weakenesse, that God regards us not in our present imperfections, but as he means to make us ere long. In the meane time that hee may looke upon us in love, he lookes upon us in the obedience of his sonne, in whom whatsoever is good shall be perfected at the last.

What should wee doe then,Vse. 1. if Christ doth make his Church thus, his Love, his Dove, his Vndefiled, by making his love to meete in it as the center thereof, whereunto hee doth confine all his love (as it were) wee should confine our love to him againe, and have no love out of Christ, since hee hath no love out of us; There should bee an everlasting mutu [...]ll shining, and reflection betweene him and the soule. Wee should laie open our soules to his love; (as in­deed hee desires especially the communion of our affections,) wee should reflect love to him [Page 203] againe. This perpetuall everlasting entercourse betweene Christ and his Spouse, is her maine happinesse heere, and her eternall happinesse in heaven; In looking on him who hath done so much for us, hee shines on us, and wee looke backe againe upon him. Doth Christ love us so intimately [...], and so invincibly, that no in­dignities nor sinne could overcome his love, which made, that hee endured that which hee hates most, to become sinne for us, 1 Cor. 5. 2 [...]. nay the want of that, which was more to him, then all the world, the want of the sence of the favour of God for a time, My God my God, why hast thou forsaken me [...]? Hath Christ thus infinitly loved us, and shall not wee backe againe make him our love? In their degree the Saints of God have all done so. It was a good speech of Ignatius the Martyr, My love Christ was crucified. So a Christian should say, My love was cru­cified, my love dyed, my love is in heaven; And for the things on earth I love them, as they have a beame of him in them, as they leade mee to him; But he is my love, there my love is pitched, even upon him, this is the ground of these Scripture phrases,Phil. 3. 2 [...]. But our conversation is in heaven from whence wee looke for the Saviour, the Lord Iesus Christ, &c.Col. 3. 1.and set your affections on the things that are above. Why? Christ our love is there, the soule is more where it loves, then where its residence is. It dies (as it were) to other things, and lives in the thing it loves, therefore our thoughts and affections, our joy and delight [Page 204] should bee drawne up to Christ, for indeed his love hath such a magneticall attractive force, that where it is, it will draw up the heavie iron, the grosse soule, and make it heavenly, for there is a binding, a drawing force in this excellent affection of love.

My love, my Dove, &c.

There are all words of sweetnesse,Vse. 2. he lobours to expresse all the affection hee can, for the con­science, is subject to upbraid and to claimour much, so that there must bee a great deale of perswasion to still the accusing conscience of a sinner, to set it downe, make it quiet, and per­swade it of Gods love. Therefore hee useth all heavenly Rhetoricke to perswade and move the affections.

In this that the Church is undefiled in Christ,Vse. 3. Let us learne when afflicted in conscience not so much to judge of our selves by what we feele in our selves as by what faith suggests. In Christ therefore let us judge of our selves by what wee are as in him: Wee are poore in our selves, but have riches in him; wee die in our selves in re­gard of this life, but wee have a life in him, an eternall l [...]fe, and wee are sinners in our selves, but wee have a Righteousnesse in him whereby wee are righteous in his sight. Wee are foolish,1 Cor. 5. 20.un­skillfull, and ignorant in our selves, but hee is our wisdom in all whatsoever is amisse in us. Let us labour to see a full supplie of our wants made up in Christ, this is to glorifie God as much as if wee could fulfill the law perfectly. If wee [Page 205] were as undefiled as Adam was, wee could not glorifie God more, then when wee finde our selves, and our conscience guiltie of sinnes, yet thus by the Spirit of God to go out of our selves, and to see our selves in Christ, and thus to cast our selves on him, imbrace him, and take that guift of God given us, Christ offered to us, be­cause God so commands,Ioh. 4. 10. wee honour God more, then if wee had the obedience that Adam had at first before his fall. For now in the cove­nant of Grace, hee will bee glorified in his mer­cy, in his forgiving, forbearing, rich transcendent mercy, and in going beyond all our unworthi­nesse and sinnes, by shewing that there is a Righ­teousnesse provided for us, the Righteousnesse of God [...]man, whose obedience and satisfaction, is more then our disobedience, because it is the d [...]sobedience of man onely, but his Obed [...]ence and Righteousnesse is the Obedience, and Righteousnesse of God-man, so it satisfieth divine justice, and therefo [...]e ought to satisfie Conscience to the full, our faith must answer Christs carriage to us, we must therefore account our selves in him undefiled, because he accounts us so, not in our selves, but as we have a beeing in him, we are undefiled.

Againe see here Christ accounts us (even in regard of habituall grace) undefiled, though we have for the present many corruptions. Let us therefore learne a lesson of moderation of so excellent a teacher▪ let us not be ashamed to learne of our Saviour. What spirit shall wee [Page 205] thinke they have, that will unchurch Churches, because they have some defilement and un­brotherly bretheren, accounting them no Churches, no Bretheren, because they have some imperfections. Why hath not Christ a quarrell to the Church then? is hee blind? doth his love make him blind? No, hee seeth corrup­tion, but hee seeth better things, somewhat of his owne that makes him overlooke those imperfections, because they are such as hee meanes to mortifie, subdue, weare away, and to fire out by the power of his Spirit, which as fire shall wast all those corruptions in time. So it is with the Church; put the case, she hath some corruptions, that it be not with her, as it should be, yet shee is a Church notwithstanding.1. Cor. 1 [...]. The Church of Corinth (we see) Paul stiles them Saints, and Bretheren with all those sweet names, notwithstanding they had many corruptions among them.

Wee have a company of malignant spirits worse then these a great deale,Vse. 5. Atheisticall per­sons that have no Religion at all, who out of malice and envie watch for the halting of good Christians, who can see nothing but de­filement in those that have any good in them, nothing but hypocrisie, mopishnesse, all that is naught, who if they can devise any blemish, put it upon them, whereas Christ sees a great deale of ill in the Church, but he sees it to pardon, subdue, and to pitty the Church for it, extolling and magnifying it's goodnesse. What spirits [Page 206] are those of, that watch to see imperfections in others, (that their hearts tell them are better then they,) that they may onely disgrace them by it: for goodnesse they will see none.

And lik [...]wise,Vse. 6. It should teach us not to wrong our selves with false judgement. Wee should have a double eye, one eye to see that which is amisse in us, our owne imperfections, thereby to carry our selves in a perpetuall humility: but an other eye of Faith, to see what we have in Christ, our perfection in him, so to account of our selves, and glory in this our best beeing, that in him wee have a glorious beeing, such an one whereby God esteemes us perfect, and undefiled in him onely. The one of which sights, should inforce us to the other, which is one end, why God in this world leaves cor­ruption in his children. Oh, since I am thus undefiled shall I rest in my selfe? Is there any harbour for me to rest in mine owne Righteous­nesse? O no, it drives a man out of all harbour; Nay, I will rest in that Righteousnesse, which God hath wro [...]ght by Christ, who is God-Man, That will indure the sight of God, beeing cloathed with which, [...] can indure the presence of God. So, this sight of our owne unworthi­nesse, and wants, should not be a ground of discourageme [...]t, but a ground to drive us per­fectly out of our selves, that by faith we might renew our title to that Righteousnesse, wherein is our especiall glory, Why should w [...] not judge of our selv [...] as Christ doth? Can we see more [Page 207] in our selves, then hee doth? yet notwith­standing all he sees, hee accounts us as Vn­defiled.

Againe, [...]ince hee accounts us undefiled, because hee meanes to make us so,Vse. 7. and now lookes on us, as we shall be▪ In all our [...]oyles, and infirmities, let us comfort our selves, it shall not thus be alwayes with us. O, this [...] of mine shall fall and fall still, and shall d [...]ay as Sauls house, and the Spirit at the last shall conquer in all this. I am not chosen to this beginning, to this conflicting course of life: I am chosen to triumph, to perfection of Grace, this is my comfort. Thus we should comfort our selves, and set upon our enemies, and con­flict in this hope of victory, I shall [...] the [...] of my selfe at the last. Jm [...]erfection should not discourage, but comfort us in this world; wee are chosen to perfection; L [...]t us still re [...]oyce in that we are chosen to Sanctification, which is a little begunne, being an earnest of other bl [...]s­sings; let us not rest in the pledge or in the earnest, but labour for a further pledge of more strength, and grace; For [...] have the Spirit of Christ, will strive to be as much un­spotted, and as heavenly as they can; To fit themselves for that heavenly Condition as much as may bee; when, because they canno [...] be in heaven, yet they will converse there, as much as they can; and because they cannot be with such company altogether, they will be as much as may be, labouring as they [...] to [Page 208] be that which they shall be hereafter. Imper­fection contents them not; and therefo [...]re they pray still in the Lords prayer, Thy kingdome come. While there is any imperfection, their hearts are inlarged more and more, nothing contents them but perfection. And indeed God accounts us thus u [...]spotted for this end, because hee would incourage us, Where hee sees the will and indeavour hee gives the title of the thing desired.

Verse. 3. I have put of my coate, how shall I put it on? I have washed my feete, how shall I defile them?

Here is an ingenious confession made by the Church of her owne untowardnesse, notwith­standing all Christs heavenly Rhetorick and perswasion that hee did use; yet shee drawes backe, and seemes to have reason so to doe. I have put my coate, how shall I put it on againe to let thee in, I have washed my feete, &c. It is a phrase taken from the custome of those hot countries, wherein they used to wash their feete. I have washed my feete, [...]ow shall I defile them to rise and open the doore to thee? There is a spirituall meaning herein, as if shee had said, I have some ease by this sleepie profession, some freedome from evill tongues, and some exemp­tion, and immunity from some troubles I was in before. I was then perhaps too indiscreete, now wilt thou call me againe to those troubles, that I have wisely avoyded? No, I have put of [Page 209] my coate, how shall I put it on? I have washed my feete, how shall I defile them? I affect this estate very well; I am content to be as I am without further troubling of my selfe; Thus the Church puts of Christ. This I take to be the meaning of the words,Observ. 1. That which is observiable is this: That it is not an easie matter to bring the soule & Christ together into neere fellowship. We see here how the Church drawes back, for, the flesh moves either not to yeeld at all to duty, or to be cold, uncertaine, and unsetled therein. The flesh knowes that a neere communion with Christ cannot stand with favouring any corruption, & therfore the flesh will doe something, but not e­nough, it wil yeeld to something, but not to that that it should doe, to that communion and fel­lowship that we ought to have with Christ. To instance in some particulars, as a rule and measure to somewhat of which we should be.

A Christian life should be nothing but a com­munion, and entercourse with Christ. A wal­king in the Spirit; and to be spirituall, and to savour the things of the Spirit altogether, hee should studie to adorne his profession by a lively and cheerefull performance of dutie:Mat. 5. 16. And be exemplarie to others; and should be in such a frame,Act. 9. [...]9. as he should walke continually in the comforts of the Holy Ghost undismayed, and un­daunted, And abound in the fruits of the Spirit, and doe all the good he can wheresoever hee comes,Jam. 1. 27. Hee should keepe himselfe unspotted of the world, goe against the streame, and be-con­tinually [Page 210] in such a temper, as it should be the joy of his heart to be dissolved, and to be with Christ.2 Tim. 4. 8. One might go on thus in a world of par­ticulars, which would be too long. If we could attaine to this excellency, it were an happy life, a Heaven upon Earth, this wee should ayme at. Will the flesh indure this, thinke you? No, it will not; Which you shall see more particu­larly in this next Observation, which is,

That One way,Obser. 2. whereby the unregenerate part in us hinders this communion with Christ, and the shining of a beleever in a christian course, Is by false pretences, reasons and excuses. I have washed my feete, I have put of my coate, &c.

The flesh never wants excuses and preten­ces (there was never any yet came to hell, but they had some seeming pretence for their com­ming thither) to shift and shuf [...]e off duties, there was never yet any carelesse sinnefull course but it had the flesh to justifie it with one reason or other; and therefore it is good to understand the Sophysticall shifts of the flesh, and pretences and shewes which it hath, and as it is good to know the truth of God, and of Christ revealed in his word, so is it to know the falsenesse and deceitfullnesse of our owne hearts, they are both mysteries almost alike, hard to be knowne. Labour wee then more and more to know the falsehood of our owne disposition, and to know the truth of God, To give instance in a f [...]w p [...]rticulars. You s [...]e in the Church the dif­ficulty of her comm [...]on with Christ comes [Page 211] from the idle pretences and excuses sh [...] hath. Every one hath his sev [...]ll pre [...]xts, as his state and condition is. Wee thinke wee should be loosers, if wee give our selves to that degree of goodnesse which others doe, whereas God doth curse those blessings which men get with neglect of duty to him. If wee seeke first the Kingdome of Heaven, all other things that are good for us, shall be cast upon us.

Thou shalt loose the favour of such a one▪ Object.

Never care for that favour thou canst not keepe with Gods favour,Answ. the favour of man is a snare, take heed of that favour that snares thee, thou loosest their favour and company, but thou gainest the favour of Christ, and company of Angells.

But they will raile on thee and reproach thee with thy old sinnes.Object.

Care not,Answ. God will doe thee good for that, as David said, when Shemai cursed him.

But I shall loose my pleasure?Object.

O but such pleasures end in death;Answ. they are but pleasures of sinne for a season, and thou shalt not loose by the change, the wayes of wisdome are pleasant wayes, one day religiously spent in keeping of a good conscience, what a sweet farewell hath it? Ioy is in the habitation of the Righteous. It becomes the Righteou [...] to be j [...]yfull. How ever outwardly it seemes yet there is a Paradise within. Many such objections the flesh makes, some take scandall at the prosperi­ty of the wicked, and affliction of the Saints, [Page 212] and from hence take occasion to ro [...] in their dreggs of sin,Mat. 11. 6. but what saith Christ, Happy is the man who is not offended in m [...]e. As for the prosperity of the wicked, envy them not, they stand in slippery places, and flourish like a greene bay tree, but presently they vanish. Take no offence at them nor at the crosse, looke not at this,Mat. 5. 10. but at the ensuing comfort. Blessed are they that suffer for Righteousnesse sake, binde such words to your he [...]d as your crowne, Go [...] re­serves the best comforts to the worst times, his people never find it otherwise.

I but if I be thus precise, the times are so bad,Object. I shall be alone.

Complaine not of the times when thou makest them worse,Answ. thou shouldest make the times better, the worse the times are, the better be thou,Phil. 3 20. for this is thy glory to be good in an evill generation. This was Lots glory. Paul tells what ill times they were, But saith hee, Our con­versation is in Heaven, from whe [...]ce wee looke for a Saviour: What brings destruction on Gods people, but their joyning with the wicked. When they joyned with the children of men, then came the flood, these and the like preten­ces, keepe men altogether from goodnesse, or else from such a measure, as may bring honour to God and comfort to themselves.

Or if men be great, why this is not honour­able to do thus, as you know what Michall said to David, How glor [...]ous was the King of Israell this day? like a foole, &c. To attend upon the [Page 213] word of God with reverence, to make consci­ence of Religion, O it stands not with great­nesse &c. But the Spirit of God answereth this in him, I will yet be more vile for God. It is a mans honour heere to stand for God, and for good things, and it is our honour, that God will honour us so much.

Those likewise that are worldly have excuses 2 also;The excuses of worldlings. alas I must tend my calling, and they have Scripture for it to.1 Ti [...]. 4. 8. He [...] that provides not for his family is worse then an Infidell, as if God had set up any callings to hinder the calling of Christianity, as if that were not the greatest calling, and the best part that will abide with us forever, as if it were not the part of a Christ­ian to redeeme time from his calling to the duties of Christianity.Luk. 10. 42. I have no time (saith the worldling) what will you have mee to do? why what time had David when hee meditated on the Law of God day and night?Psal. 1. 2. hee was a King, the King is bound to study the Scriptures. And yet whose imployment is greater,Deus. 17. 18, 19. then the imploiment of the cheife Magistrate?

And thus every one as their state and condi­tion is, they have severall pretences and excuses. Those that are young, their excuse is, we have time enough for these things hereafter. Others as those that were negligent to build the second Temple,Hag. 1. [...]. The time is not yet say they; when as the uncertainty of this life of ours, the weightinesse of the businesse, the danger of the custome of sinne, the ingaging of our hearts deeper and [Page 214] deeper into the world, makes it a more difficult thing to be a Christian. It more and more darkens our understanding the more we sinne, and the more it estrangeth our affections from good things the more wee have run out in an evill course. Time is a speciall mercy, but then thou hast not time onely but the meanes, good company, and good motions, thou mayest never have such a gale againe, thy heart may be heardned through the deceitfulnesse of sinne. Againe, who would want the comforts of Religion for the present, (as Austin saith) I have wanted thy sweetenesse too long. What folly is it to want the sweetenesse and comfort of Re­ligion so long as we may have it.

Some others pretend, The uncomfortablenesse of Religion, I shall want my comforts, when as in­deed there is no sound comfort without having our hearts in a perfect communion with Christ, walking with God, and breaking of from our evill courses. What is the reason of discomforts, unresolvednesse, and unsetlednesse? when we know not where we are, whether we goe, or what our condition is, unsetlednesse breedes discomfort, and indeed there is no pleasure so much, as the pleasure that the serving of God hath with it. As the fire hath light and heate alwayes in it, so there is no holy action that we performe throughly, but as it hath an increase of strength, so there is an increase of comfort and joy annexed to it. There is a prese [...]t re­ward annexed to all things that are spiritually [Page 215] good: they carry with them present peace and joy, the conscience hath that present comfort, which consumes all discouragements whatso­ever, as is alwayes found in the experience of that soule, that hath wonne so much of it selfe, as to breake through discouragements to the practise of holy duties. Beleevers have a joy and comfort, that others know not of: Rev. 2. 7. an hidden kind of Manna, and contentment.

These, and a thousand such like discourage­ments men frame to themselves. My health will not serve: I shall indanger my life; There is a Lyon in the way, Prov. 26. 13. (saith the sluggard) who with his excuses thinks himselfe wiser, Prov. 26. 16. then the wisest in the Citty; There is none so wise as the sluggard; for belly pollicie teacheth him a great many excuses, which he thinks will goe for wisedome; because by them he thinks to sleepe in a whole skinne; Hee is but a sluggard for all that, and though hee plead Yet a litle while, P [...]vertie, not onely outward, but spirituall po­verty and barrennesse of soule will come upon him, as an armed man, and leave him destitute of grace and comfort, when he shall see at the last what an evill course of life hee hath led, that hee hath yeelded so much to his lazy flesh to be drawne away by discouragements from duties, that he was convinced were agreeable to the word. Now, what may bee the grounds and causes of these false Pre [...]noes and Excuses, which hinder us from holy duties. There be many causes.

[Page 216]First of all, one cause of this in us is this, Naturally so farre as we are not guided by a better spirit then our owne,Causes of our delay [...]s, in putting of Spiri­tuall duties. we are inclined to much to the earthly present thi [...]gs of this life, because they are present, and pleasant; and we are 1 nuzled up in them,Our inclination t [...] earthly things. and whatsoever pulls us from them is unwellcome to us, this is one ground.

2 Againe, Ioyne with this, that, Naturally since the fall,Because our de­praved wit naturally a­boundeth in shifts. the soule of man having lost wisdome to guide it to that which is truly good, hath wit enough left to devise untoward shifts, to excuse that which is evill. In this fallen estate the former abilities to devise things throughly good, is turned to a matter of untoward wit joyned with shifting. [...]ccles. 7. [...]. 9. God made man right but he hath sought out many inventions. Carnall witt, serves carnall will very well: and carnall lusts never want an advocate to plead for them, namely carnall reason. From the bent therefore of the soule to ill things, Pleasure, Ease, and Ho­nour, (such a condition as pleaseth the outward man since the fall) the bent and weight of the soule goeth this way, together with wit: ha­ving lost the Image of God in holy wisdome, there is shifting. This is a ground also why delayes are joyned with shifts.

3 Againe,Because of cor­rupt natures li [...]enesse to the Divell. there is another ground, that Cor­rupt Nature (in this like the Divell and sinne) which never appeare in their owne colours, sets a man on this way. Who would not hate the divell if he should appeare in his owne like­nesse? or sinne if it should appeare in his owne [Page 217] colours? and therefore wit stretcheth it selfe to finde out shifts. For sayes the heart, unlesse there be some shifts and pretences to cover my shame, I shall be knowne to bee what J am in­deed, which J would be loath were done: I would have the sweet, but not the shame of sinne, the credit of Religion, but not put my selfe to the cost which commeth with true Religion, to deny my selfe. Corrupt courses never appeare in their owne colours, they are like the Divell for this.

And then againe, Naturally there is a great 4 deale of Hypocrisie in us;Because of our [...]ocrisie. wee may doe duties to satisfie Conscience (for somewhat must be done,) to heare now and then, reade and come to prayer betwixt sleeping and waking (yaw­ning prayers) when we can doe nothing else; somewhat must be done, conscience else will cry out of us that we are Atheists, and shall be damned: some slubbering service must be done therefore. Yet notwithstanding herein is our hypocrisy, that we cannot bring our hearts to do it, as it should be done to purpose, for though it be true that there is much imperfection in the best actions, the best performances, yet this is hypocrisie when men doe not doe it as God may accept it, and as it may yeeld themselves comfort. The heart drawes backe: duties it will and must doe, but yet will not doe them as it shall have comfort by them. This is inbred in the heart naturally, conscience for­ceth to doe something, though the slesh and [Page 218] corruption pulls backe. This is the disposition of all men, till they have got the victory of their owne Atheisticall hearts.

5 And then againe▪ Because of a false conceit of God and of Christ. Another ground may bee this, a false conceit of God, and of Christ; that they will take any thing at our hands, because wee love our selves, and thinke that wee doe very well, wee thinke that God is such a one as wee are, as it is Psal. 50. 21. Thou thoughtest that I was like unto thee, &c. that God will be put off with any thing, and any excuse will serve the turne. You have not a swearer, a filthy care­lesse person, But hee thinkes God is mercifull, and Christ dyed for sinners: and I was provoked to it, &c. still hee thinkes to have some excuse for it, and that they will stand good with God. This Athe [...]sme is in us naturally, and when wee are palpably to blame in the judgment of others and our selves in our sober witts▪ yet wee put more ignorance and carelesnesse on God then on our selves. Tush, God regards it not, it is the times, I would bee better: It is company whom I must yeeld unto &c. They thinke God will accept these things from them

6 But one maine ground thereof is,The scandals we meet withall in the world. The scan­dalls that wee meet withall in the world; which (indeed) is a ground, because our owne false hearts are willing to catch at any thing. You see (say they) these men that make profession of Religion what they are (and then the divell will thrust some Hypocrisie into the profssion of Religion) and they judge all by one or too (and [Page 219] will bee sure to doe it) therein stands their inge­nuity, and if they can see any infirmity in them that are incomparably better then themselves, Oh they are safe, heere is warrant enough to dislike Religion and all good courses; because some doe so and so, as if the course of Religion were the worse for that. Thus they wrap them­selves in those excuses, as men doe there hands to defend them from pricks. This is the vile poyson of our hearts that will bee naught, and yet notwithstanding will have reason to be so. The speech is, wicked [...]esse never wanted pr [...]texts: which as it is true of great wickednesse, much more is it of that which goes in the world for drowsie lukewarme profession, under which many sincke to Hell, before they are aware. They never want reason and pretexts to cover their sinne, there is a mint and forge of them in the soule, It can coyne them suddenly. Thus wee see our wits doe serve us excellently well, to lay blocks in our owne way to hinder us from Heaven; we are dunces and dull to doe any thing that is spiritually good, whereof we are incapable. But if it be to lay blocks in our owne way to Heaven, to quarrell with God and his Ordinances, with the doctrine of sal­vation, with the instruments, teachers and those that leade us a better vvay, that our vvit vvill serve for. But to take a course to doe us good another day, to lay up comforts in vvhich vve might end and close up our dayes, there vve are backvvard, and have shift upon shift. This is [Page 220] added for the further explication of it: because of the necessity of the poi [...]t. For, except our hearts be discovered to us, we shall never know what Religion meanes, save to know so much as may through the winding, turning, shifting, and falshood of our owne Nature, bring us to hell: Wherein we are worse enemies to our selves then the Divell is, who could not hurt us, unlesse we did betray our selves. But hee hath factours in us to deale for him, our owne carnall wit and affection, they hould correspon­dencie with him, whence all the mischiefe that he doth us, is by that intercourse that our nature hath with Sathan, That is the Dalilah which betrayeth all the Sampsons (sound vvorthy Christians in the vvorld) to their spirituall enemies. The refore, vve can never be suffici­ently instructed, vvhat a vile nature vve have so opposite to Religion, as farre as it is saving. Corrupt nature doth not oppose it so farre as it is slubbered over, but so farre as may bring us to that state vve should be in. vve [...] have no vvorse enemies then our ovvne hearts. There­fore let us vvatch over our selves continually, and use all blessed meanes appointed of God whereby vve may escape out of this dangerous sleepie disposition of soule, vvhich cost the Church so deare, as wee shall heare (God vvilling) hereafter.

The end of the seventh Sermon.

THE EIGHTH SERMON.SER. VIII.

CANT. V. III.‘I have put of my coate, how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them?’

WEE are now by Gods assi­stance to speake of the re­medies against the lazie distempers we are prone unto in Spirituall things, where we left off the last day.

What course should we take then to come forth from this distempered lasinesse,Quest. That wee may attaine a spirituall tast and relish of [Page 222] heavenly things, so as not to loath religious exercises: or delay and put them off with ex­cuses.

First of all,Answ. Resolve not to consult with flesh and 1 blood in any thing; Resolve, not to consult with flesh and bloud. For it alwayes counsells us for ease, as Peter cou [...]selled Christ, Master pitty thy selfe. So wee have a nature in us like unto Peter, spare, favour, pity thy selfe. Like Hevah, Iob 2. and Iobs w [...]fe, wee have a corrupt nature that is alwayes solliciting from God, and draw­ing us unto vanity. Take heed of cou [...]selling with flesh and blood; for if men were in a citty invironed round about with enemies would they consult with them what they should doe for defence of the citty? were it not a mad part? and is it not a greater madnesse when Christians will consult with flesh and blood what they should do in duties of obedience, which will al­wayes put us upon tearmes of ease, the favour of men, content and the like, which if a man yeeld to, hee shall never enter into heaven. Take heede therfore of consulting with our enemy, seeing Sathan hath all the correspondency hee hath by that enemy which wee harbour in our bos­some. In which case the hurt hee doth us by his sophistry comes by our selves, wee betray our selves by our carnall reason, whereby Sathan mingleth himselfe with our imaginations and conceits. Let us therefore beware wee listen not to the counsell of flesh and blood, especial­ly when the matter comes to suffering once, for there of all other things flesh and blood doth [Page 223] draw backe.▪ Every one hath a Peter in himselfe, that saith, Spare thy selfe; Thou art indiscreet to vent [...]re thy selfe [...]pon this and that hazard. But where the judgment is convinced of the goodnesse of the cause, whether it bee Religion or Iustice, [...]or the first or for the second table that matters not; If the judgment be convinced of the thing; then consult not with flesh and blood what [...]oever the suffering be. It is not ne­cessary, that we should live in riches, honours, pleasures and estimation with the world. But it is necessary wee should live honest men, and good Christians. Therefore when flesh and blood objecteth in this kind, consult not with it. First, Because it is an enemy, and therefore is to be suspected and neglected; Secondly, Because it is said,1 Cor. 15. 50. Flesh and Blood shall not inherit the king­dome of Heaven. And therefore we should prac­tise that first lesson in Religion, Heavenly wis­dome; To ayde us wherein, Christ (knowing what an enemy wee are to our selves in the wayes of God) saith, Let a man deny himselfe, and take up his Crosse and follow mee, there is no following of Christ, considering that our flesh is so full of cavills and excuses, unlesse we practise that heavenly lesson of Christ, to denie our selves, our whole selfe, our wit and reason in the mat­ters of God: our will and affections. Say nay to all the sluggishnesse of the flesh; silence all presently, as soone as ever they discourage thee from holy wayes. Consider whence they come? which is enough: from Gods and our [Page 224] enemie; and the worst enemie wee have that lyeth in our owne bosome. And to inable us the better,Rom. 8. marke what Paul saith, Wee are no more debtors to the flesh, &c. We owe nothing to it; I owe not such obedience, such subjection to the flesh and carnall reason: I have renounced it long since. What am I abnoxious to a man unto whom I owe no service. Wee owe the flesh no service or obedience, what shall we yeeld to that which wee have long since re­nounced.

3 And withall,To be resolute in spirituall undertakings. In Spirituall courses, let us arme our selves with resolution: First, conclude Is it so or not so, let our judgements be convinced; for, Resolution is a disposition arising from the will immediately, but it is of the will, by sound judgement convinced of the goodnesse of the thing, after which the will resolves. Get resolution from soundnesse of conviction, that such things are good, and that they are best for us, and best for us at this time, the sooner the better: that there is an absolute necessitie to have them, and that they are everlastingly good: O these con­siderations will put us on amaine to obtaine the same. It is our duty, and we shall sinne against God, against our Conscience, against the Spirit of God, and against others (that take like liberty by our examples) Jf we yeeld to our base lusts and suggestions in this kinde.

And to helpe Resolution the more,A help to Re­solution let us have before our eyes,2 Sa [...]. 23. 16. the examples of Gods wor­thies, who (like unto Davids worthies, who [Page 225] brake through the Host of the Philistims for water) Have in all ages broken through all discouragements, and made a conscience more to please God, to hould communion and fel­lowship with Christ, then to hold any corres­pondencie with the World, Looke to Blessed Paul,Act. 21. 13.What doe yee vexing of me and breaking my heart? I am ready not onely to goe to Ierusalem, but to die for Christs sake. And looke to Christ, how hee shakes of Peter,Mat. 16. 23.Get thee behind mee Sat [...]n, &c. Looke to Moses, how he shooke off all the solicitations of a Court; Because hee had an eye to the recompence of the reward. Looke to Ioshua,Heb 11. 26.I and mine house will serve the Lord. Iosh. 24. 15. Let others of the world doe what they will: If others will goe to the Divell let them, for my selfe, I and my house, (those that I have charge of) will serve the Lord. This was a noble resolution which was in good Nehemiah, Shall such a man as I flie? Neh. 6. 1 [...]. what shall J flie? shall I doe this; yeeld to this base discouragement? shall J discourage others (like those spies of Canaan) by mine example? Hence it is that Heb. 11. In that notable Chapter, That little booke of martyrs, after the catalogue of those worthies set downe there, that which we are exhorted and pointed to in the beginning of the next chapter, is unto the practise of the like vertues, In imitation having before us, such a Cloude of witnesses,Heb. 12. 1.wherewith beeing compassed, the exhortation is, Let us therefore shake off every thing that presseth downe, and the sinne that hangeth [Page 226] so fast on, &c. as the Cloude was a guide to them to Canaan out of Egypt; so the Cloude of good examples, is as it were a light to goe before us to the heavenly Canaan.

In this case above all, let us looke to Christ, Who is the author and finisher of our Faith. Heb. 12. 2. This will make us breake through discouragements and resolve indeed. What could hinder him? his love is so fiery, that nothing could hinder him to come from Heaven to the Wombe of the Virgin, from thence to the Crosse, and so to the grave, to be abased lower then ever any creature was. His love to us so carried him through all discouragements and disgraces. Consider him, Heb. 12. 3. who endured such speaking against of sinners. The consideration of Christs love, and example will carry us through all discou­ragements whatsoever.

3 And further,To have good grounds and [...]ound reasons [...]or all wee doe. Let us be able by sound reasons to justifie the wayes of God, and [...] answer cavills, to give account of what we doe to our selves and others, With reasons why wee sanctifie the Sabboth, have such Communion with God in Prayer, Neglect the fashions of the world, &c. To have reasons ready from Scripture, is an excel­lent thing, when we are able to justifie what­soever we doe by the Word, against all the quarrells of our owne hearts and others. When we are led to doe things onely b [...] the example of others, or by respects, then we are oft times put to it on the suddaine by temptations: being not able to justifie what we doe. Let us labour [Page 227] therefore to doe things upon good grounds, and be able to justifie al [...] the waies of Religion, as they are easily justified, for nothing in this world stands with so much reason, as exactnesse in the waies of God, There is so much Reason for no­thing in the world, as to be not onely Christi­ans, but exact Christians, as Paul [...]aith to Agrippa,Acts 26. 29.would to God you were not almost, but altogether as I am, saving these bonds. To make conscience of all waies and courses, it stands with the most reason of the world, so to justifie Religion by reasons unanswerable, that may set downe corrupt nature, and stop the mouth of the divell himselfe: and herein let us propound found and strong Questions to our selvesTo helpe on reason, wee must often pro­pound strong Questions to our selves. often; are those things (that I am mooved to do) good? or are they not? If they be good, why doe I not doe them? If they be bad, why doe I doe them at all? If they be good, why doe I stick at them? how doe I proove them to bee good? have alway ready some Scripture, or reason from thence which is as good. The rea­sons of the word are most divinely strong, let them be ready against all Objections whatsoe­ver, Mat. 12. as against sleight oathes thinke of that of Christ, that we must give an account for all idle words: how much more for Atheisticall oathes: so against grosser sinnes learne reason; a civill man, an Heathen would not doe thus.

So also when the flesh mooveth us to any backwardnesse in religious courses, let us have some Scripture ready, or Reasons deducted from [Page 228] it. As, From the Dignity of our Profession, from 1 the great Hopes we have to be glorious another day. And reason the matter,From the dig­nity of our Pro­fession. how doth this that I am mooved to suite with my Hopes and expectati­on to come? how furthers it my journey home­wards? 2 And consider this likewise; That no excuse will serve the turne at the day of judgement,Consider, what excuses may be sufficient at the day of judge­ment.but such an one as ariseth from as invincible infir­mity, or an unremoovable impediment. such an excuse taken from an invincible infirmity, may then serve the turne. As, when we cannot possi­bly doe a thing, from impediments that all the meanes in the world cannot remoove. As a poore man cannot be liberall, &c. Excuses also fetcht from impossible impediments, as from in­vincible weakenesse may availe, if a man have an infirme body, that he cannot doe that which another man can: these excuses, with a gratious God will serve the turne; which are not so much excuses, as a just plea. But otherwise, our untoward excuses will not serve the turne. What hindered them in the Gospell who were invited to the Supper?Luke 14. Excuses from Oxen, Wives, &c. Was it not lawfull to buy Oxen? and was it not lawfull for the married to take content in a wife? another had married a wife; were not all these things lawfull? very lawfull; The Farme hurts not, if it hinder not, no [...] the Wife, Oxen nor any thing: but in this case when we regard these things more then the invitation to come to the feast of holy things, heere is the malice of the divel, which brings that dolefull message; They [Page 229] shal never taste of my feast. There is such an infinite disproportion, betweene the good of Religion, Peace of Conscience, Ioy in the Holy Ghost here, and Heaven and Happinesse hereafter; and betweene any thing in this world, that to al­leadge any hinderance wherby we cannot keep a good conscience, and preserve assurance of sal­vation, is most extreame folly & Atheisme. I be­leeve not a better life (the disproportiō being so great betweene the state of this life and a better) if I fetch excuses from the things of this life, to keepe me from Religion, the Feare of God, and working out my salvation with feare and trem­bling. These excuses will not serve the turne, not onely with God at the day of judgement: but also our owne consciences will tell us, that we are Hypocrites to make such or such a plea. Therefore when men become false, thereby to provide for wife or children, and take corrupt courses to keepe them from Religion, with pre­text of their callings (least they should loose one day in [...]eaven) this imployment cannot prosper, which sleights over duties under false pretences. O! they can toile for the pelfe of the world, but for matters of their soules, they turne off all shamefully, as if there were not a God to judge them, a Heaven to reward them, or a Hell to punish them. Will such excuses serve the turne? O no, they cannot with conscience, much lesse with God the Judge who is greater then our conscience. This is another way to cut off these idle cavills, to consider that these excuses cannot [Page 230] serve the turne, neither to comfort conscience in this world, nor to uphold us in our plea at the day of judgement, Remember that.

4 And then againe,To inure our selves to beare the yoake of Religion▪ Let us inure our selves to beare the yoake of Religion from our youth, which will make it easie afterwards. It were an excellent thing if those who are young (in the prime of their yeares) would inure themselves to the ex­ercise of Religion, this would make it easie un­to them; to reade the Word of God, to open their spirits unto him in Prayer. It may please God hereby (though they be negligent herein) yet they may be called to Religion.The danger of ignorant old age. But for an old man there is much worke to doe to reade, to get any thing into his braine, when his memory is pestered with other things, and corrupt nature in him is armed with a world of excuses, that might have beene prevented by a timely and seasonable training up in a course of Religion. Prophane young persons know not what they doe when they put off Religion. Have they ex­cuses now,That the longer we put off Re­ligion, the more will bee our ex­cu [...]es. they will have many more here­after, when Satan and corruption will be much stronger. O let them beare the yoake of Reli­gion, that is enure themselves to duties that be­come Christians, which may facilitate and make it easie and pliable, that it may not bee harsh to our nature. If a man doe not heare, pray and reade, he can never have Faith, Grace, Knowledge, Mortification of corruption (wherein Religion stands) but because these lead to duties that are hard to nature, and harsh, [Page 231] it is wisedome to inure young ones thereto be­times, that having used themselves to these pre­paring duties, they may be the more fitted for the essentiall ones. That having things in the braine by reading and hearing, Grace may bee wrought in the heart, it being a more easie pas­sage from the braine to the heart. When a man is converted it is an easie matter to bring it from the braine unto the heart, whereas a man that hath beene negligent in his youth, must then be instructed in the Principles of Re­ligion. Therefore, it is a miserable case (though men be never so politique in the world) to have beene negligent herein till age. It breeds a great deale of difficulty to them ere they can come to be in such a state as a Christian should be in. Remember this therefore, to doe as Paul adviseth Timothie a young man,1 Tim 6. 11. to exercise him­selfe in Godliness [...], it is a good thing for all that are young to exercise themselves to all duties of Religion, or else pretences will grow up with age, whereby they will be indisposed eve­ry day more then other. Experience shewes it generally, wee may beleeve it: if we will not, we shall finde it hereafter too true by woefull experience.

5 And then againe,To inure our selves to diffi­culty and hardship. by little and little, not one­ly to be enured to the yoake of Religion, but likewise to endure difficulties, opposition and hard­ship; as the Apostle stands upon it to Timothie, To indure hardship and afflictions from the begin­ning. [...]. If the thing be good and warra [...]able, [Page 232] neglect the speeches of the world: what are the speeches of a company of men in the state of nature, in their miserable condition, to regard them so as not to endure hardship, in such things, of the goodnesse whereof we are con­vinced? But in these daies men take up a deli­cate profession of Religion, men will be Religi­ous, but they will suffer nothing, not a taunt or a scoffe, they will part with nothing, be at no losse; suffer no crosse, be at no paines with Re­ligion further then may stand with all earthly content of this world. This delicate profession (if any thing among us) threatneth the remoo­ving of the Gospell, and blessed truths we en­joy, because we will not part with any pleasure now. How will they suffer afflictions for the Gospell (if such times come) that will not part with a vaine oath, a corrupt fashion of life, a su­perfluity, that wil not part with a rotten unsavou­rie discourse, which discovereth a rotten spirit and infecteth others. Heere is a profession of Religion indeed, that cannot have so much ma­sterie of the corrupt heart, as to denie and over­come it selfe in things that are grossely ill. How will a man part with his blood and life, that will not part with things that hee should part withall, not onely with something to the poore and to good uses; but to part with some sinfull course of life and wicked and ungodly lusts that fight against the soule, who will not endure, not so much as a checke, who rather then they will goe under that censure wherewith the world is [Page 233] pleased to disgrace Religion, they will live and die like Atheists. This extreame tender­nesse in the matters of God and of salvation, is the cause why many eternally perish.

Againe,To remember what we should all be, and what we should all aime at. to cut of all vaine excuses: let us 6 oft have in thought of our heart, what wee should be and what we should all aime at, and how farre we come all short of it; a Christian that hopes of good of his Religion, should live by faith, and depend upon God in the use of lawfull meanes. If he be as he should be, he ought to walke with God, keepe his watch with him, and doe no­thing unbeseeming the eye of God. When his corruption drawes him to be carelesse, then hee is not as he should be, for in a right temper, he ought to be fitted to every good worke, ready for all opportunities of doing any thing that is good: because the time of this life is the feeds-time, the time of doing good, the time of rea­ping is in the world to come; when therefore the heart is shut when any opportunitie is offe­red of doing good, he may conclude, certainely, I am cold and dull, pretend what I will, I am not as I should be. A Christian ought to abound in the worke of the Lord, 1 Cor. 1 [...] 58. especially having such abundance of incouragements as wee have. What a world of incouragements hath a Chri­stian? there are none to those of Religion, from the inward content that it brings heere at the houre of death, and in Glory hereafter. When we are drawne to bee scantie, niggardly, and base to things that are good, surely, this is not as [Page 234] it should be, pretend what we will to the con­trary, this is a fault. A Christian should at all times be fit to yeeld and to render up his soule unto God, because our life is uncertaine. When therefore, we are mooved by corruption to live in a state that we cannot abide to die in, because we are under the guilt of some sinne: then cer­tainely pretend what we will, our state is so farre naught, as farre as there is unfitnesse and unwil­lingnesse to die. Let us have in the eye of our soule therefore, what a Christian should bee, aime at it, and think that when we stop at a lower measure and pitch; that (pretend what wee will) all is but from carnall wit and policie, the greatest enemie that Religion hath.

We pray in the Lords Prayer, Thy Kingdome come, thy will bee done in earth as it is in Heaven, great desires, and which should be the desires of all our hearts. But herein we play the Hypo­crites, whilst wee pray thus that the King­dome of God may come, that Christ may rule in our hearts over lusts and desires: yet notwithstan­ding we pretend this and that excuse, whereby we may be led with this and that lust, we crosse our own prayers: yet it sheweth what pitch we should aspire to, To sanctifie the Lord in our hearts, to delight in him, and trust in him above all. When wee doe not this, wee fall short of our owne prayers. And when we cannot bring our hearts to suffer, and to doe what God would have us to do, but are led away with our owne wills, wee are not as wee should be; our wills [Page 235] should be conformable to Christs in all things, It is our prayer, and therefore we should ayme at it. Now, when flesh and bloud sets up a pitch of Religion, I am well enough: and yet prais, Hollowed be thy Name; Thy Kingdome come, Thy will be done, &c. Such a man is an hypocrite; for his prayer leades him further and further still till he come to Heaven, where is all perfection: untill when, our life is a life of indeavour and progresse. Though we be never so perfect, yet Christ may more rule and set up his Kingdome yet more in the heart, and further bring our will to his in all things: when flesh and bloud sets up cavills against this, we play the hypocrites with God and crosse our selves. Therefore, Let us justifie a measure of Religion beyond our present pitch whatsoever it is, justifie it more and more still. Thinke wee are never as we should be till we be in Heaven; and never blesse our selves, but thinke that wee should alwayes be on the growing hand, and whatsoever excuse comes to hinder us from zealousnesse and earnestnesse (though it carry a shew of reason in the profession of Religion:) account it to come from our corrupt hearts.

Againe, Remember to doe all things to God, and 7 not to man in our Callings both of Religion, and in our particular Callings, To doe all our works of Reli­gion, and our calling to God▪ and not to man. and then whatsoever dis­couragement there is from men, we should not be discouraged. Wee shall heare men con­tinually complaine of others, that they are un­thankfull persons, and why should we doe any [Page 236] thing for them. Why? doe it to God, If it fall within our callings let us doe justice and shew mercy: God will accept, though men doe not. It cutts of many discouragements in duties; It is best to have Gods reward. In this world it is good to meet with naughty unthankfull persons, because else we should meet with all our reward here. It is good to doe somewhat for Gods sake, and for Religion, let people be as unthank­full as they will: to say, I did it not to you, but to God. If a man regard the discouragement of the world, he shall never doe that which is good, people in the world are so unthankfull and re­gardlesse to those that wish them best, and that doe best to them. But if a man doe a thing to God, and doe it out of dutie and conscience, he may hould on, have hee never so many discou­ragements in the world, he shall loose nothing, all shall be rewarded, and is regarded.

8 Likewise be sure to carry this in minde,To bee perswa­ded that sinne is the greatest evill, and grace the greatest good in the world. That sinne is the greatest evill, and grace and goodnesse the best thing in the world. Therefore, there is no excuse for sinne, from any thing in the world, for it is the worst thing in the world, which staines the soule, and hinders it from comfort. And for grace and goodnesse in the inward man, it is the best thing in the world, therefore, purchase this, though with disadvantage. It is best to avoyde sinne, though with enduring evill; yea to avoide the least sinne, by endu­ring the greatest evill. It is wisedome to doe good with disadvantage, when the disadvantage [Page 237] is bounded onely in this life, the thing that I doe, beeing a thing which furthers my reck­ning at the day of account. Therefore, have this alway in consideration, whatsoever I suf­fer in this world, I will not sinne, this will cut off a world of excuses.

Therefore,1 Pet. 4. 1. let us labour to cut off all cavills, and to arme our selves. It is the Apostle Peters exhortation, as Davids worthies brake through the pikes to fetch him water from the well of Bethlehem: so all Christian wor­thies that looke to be Crowned, let them be armed inwardly with resolution for good things, take up resolutions that they will doe it.2 Tim. 3. 10. As Paul tells his scholler Timothie of his purpose. Thou knowest my purpose, and manner of living: This is the manner of a Christian life: that this,Psal. 119. I will not breake for all the world. So, there is a purpose of living honestly, a manner of life, not by starts, now and then to speake a good word, and to doe a good deed. But there is a purpose and manner of life for it, he resolves alwayes for the best things.

And to this end begg of God his Spirit, which is above all impediments. The more Spirit the more strength and courage against impediments. The more wee attend upon holy meanes, the more spirituall and hea­venly light and life is set up in the soule. The more Spirituall wee are, the more we shall tread under foot all those things that stand [Page 238] us and Heaven. Let us therefore labour more and more for the Spirit,Mat. 11. 12. and then wee shall offer an holy violence unto good things; as it was said of Iohn Baptists time, The Kingdome of God suffered v [...]a [...]eace, men were so eager of it, as that they surprized it as a Castle, by vio­lence. There is no way to take Heaven but by of­fering, violence to discouragement, corrupt on and whatsoever stands in the way, The violent onely takes Heaven by force. Now when wee are spirituall, wee shall not pretend, That there is a lyo [...] in the way, that there are difficulties, as the sluggard doth, that thinks himselfe wiser then many men who can render a rea­son: but wee shall goe boldly and couragi­ously on; and know that there are more in­couragements for good, and stronger, then the world hath allurements to bee naught, which are but for the present life, But wee have inward ones, which will hould out in the hower of death and after. Therefore, goe on boldly and resolutely in good things, alwayes remembring to beg the Spirit of God, that may arme our Spirits with invincible courage.

Now the Spirit of God brings Fa [...]th with it,Heb. 11. 27. which is a conquering victorious Grace over the world,Cant. 8. 6. and sees him that is invisible▪ which brings love also which is strong as death: wherewith the soule being warmed, It constraineth us, to doe duties in spight of all impediments; the Spirit of God will streng­then [Page 239] our hope also of Heaven, which stre [...]gthens us against all discouragements which stand in our way; For this hope is on greater and better grounds then discouragements are: and hee that giveth us this hope, will inable us to possesse it.

Therefore labour First, to have a cleare un­derstanding of the things of God, and of the excel­lency of them, for light will cause heate: Why did the Kingdome of Heaven in Iohn Baptists time suffer violence? why were men then so violent to cleave unto Christ? because from that time the Gospell was more clearely mani­fested. And heavenly truths the more they are discovered and layd open (there is such an excellency in them) the more they worke upon the heart and affections. Therefore, The Kingdome of Heaven suffered violence And where are people more earnest after good things, then in these places where the Evan­gelicall Truths of God are layed open most, there they breake through all discouragements whatsoever.

And so, Labour for Faith to believe those truths: which is the most victorious and conquering Grace, that will carry us through all discouragements whatsoever, because it will set greater things before us, then the dis­couragements are. Are wee affraid of men? Faith it sets Hell before us. Are wee allured by the world? It sets Heaven before us. It conquers the world with all the discouraging [Page 238] [...] [Page 239] [...] [Page 238] [...] [Page 239] [...] [Page 240] temptations thereof. Are the discouragements from impossibilities? O, It is hard, I cannot doe it.Phil. 4 13. I but (saith Paul) I am able to doe all things through Christ that strengthens mee. There is a kinde of omnipotency in Faith,Math. 15. O woeman bee it unto thee as thou wilt. Wee have abundance of strength in Christ, Faith is but an emptie hand that goes to Christ to draw from him what it hath need of; In Christ I can doe all things.

So, To have our hearts warmed with love to him; this Grace of the Spirit will make us passe through all discouragements, for, it hath a constraining power:2 Cor. 5. 14. The love of Christ constraines us (saith the Apostle) If our hearts once bee warmed with the love of Christ, this will make us to thinke nothing too deere for Christ, and will cut of all excuses and pretences whatsoever, which come from cold­nesse of affection.Cant. 8 Love is strong as death as we have it in this Booke, Much water cannot quench it. All oppositions and discourage­ments whatsoever, all the water which the Divell and the world hath or useth, cannot quench the heavenly fire of love, when it is kindled in any measure. What carried the blessed Saints and Martyrs of God in all times through the pikes of all discouragements? The Spirit of God, by the Spirit of love, from a spirit of Faith, and heavenly con­viction of the excellency and truth of the things: they saw such a light which wrought [Page 240] upon their affections, and carried them amaine against the streame, (contrary to the streame of the times wherein they lived) that the worse the times were, the better they were.

And let us consider againe,The shortnesse of injoying these helps. That Christ will 9 not be alwayes thus alluring us, that wee shall not alwayes have these incouragements, such truths and motions of Gods Spirit, as perhaps wee feele now. Therefore, when wee feele any good motion stirred up toward Christ, entertaine it presently, haply wee shall never heare of it againe, the longer wee deferre and put it of, the worse. As a man that is rowing in a boate, let him neglect his stroake, the neglecting of one may make him tug at it five or six times after to overtake those that are before him. So nothing is gotten by sloath and neg­ligence, wee doe but cast our selves backe the more.

And let us helpe our selves with setting the 10 Glory to come before our eyes,By setting the glory to come before us. with Moses to have a Patriarks eye to him that is invisible, to see a Countrey afarre off, Now,Heb. 11. we are neerer salvation then when wee beleeved, let us helpe our backward soules this way: that so, having still Glory in our eyes, it may helpe us to goe through all discouragements whatsoever they bee. Wee know Zacheus, when hee was affraid that hee should not see Christ, went before the multitude; and getting up [Page 241] upon the top of a Tree, thus help [...] himselfe. So doth Grace helpe it selfe by Glory. And so farre is Grace from objecting and pre­tending lets, as it makes supplies in Gods service: as David, who in this case, was pleased to bee accounted vile. Let us looke unto the Recompence of the reward, not to the present discouragements, but to the prize at the end of the race. What makes a souldier to fight hard for the victory in the end? The sweetenesse of the tri­umph. What makes a husbandman goe through all discouragements? hee hopes to receive a croppe in the end. Consider the issue which followeth after a conscio­nable carefull and Christian life, after a more neere and perfect walking with God, maintaining Communion with him. Let there bee what discouragements there will bee in the world,Psal. 37. the end thereof is peace, The end of that man is peace. Vpon this ground, the Apostle exhorts us, to be fruitfull, and abundant in the worke of the Lord; 1 Cor. 15. 58. knowing that your labour is not in vaine in the Lord.

The end of the eighth Sermon.

THE NINTH SERMON.SERM. IX.

CANT. V. VI.‘I rose to open to my Beloved, but my Beloved had withdrawne him­selfe, &c.’

NAturally wee are prone to delaies in heavenly things, and then to cover all with excuses. A man is a So­phister to himselfe, whom hee first deceives, before the Divell, or the World deceive him; Which is the reason why so oft [Page 243] in Scripture you have this mentined.Gal 6. 7. B [...]e not deceived, God is not mocked. Bee not deceived, neither Adulterer, nor Covetous person, nor such and such, shall ever enter into the kingdome of Heaven. Bee not deceived. 1 Cor. 6. 9. 19. Which is an inti­mation, that naturally wee are very prone to bee deceived in points of the greatest conse­quence in the world, to flatter our selves (as the Church doth here) with false excuses. I have put of my coate, &c. But wee shall now see in this next verse, what becomes of all those excuses, and backewardnesse of the Church whereby she puts of Christ.

My Beloved put in his hand by the hole of the doore,Verse. 4. and my bowels were mooved for him,

I rose to open to my Beloved,Verse. 5. And my hands droopped with mirrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling mirrh upon the hand'es of the locke.

I rose to open to my Beloved,Verse. 6. but my Beloved had withdrawne himselfe, &c.

This comes of her sluggishnesse, and drow­siness, that Christ absented and withdrew himselfe. There are 3. things here set downe in these Verses now read.

  • 1. Christs withdrawing of himselfe.
  • 2. His gratious dealing having withdrawne himselfe.

Hee doth not altogether leave his Church, but puts his finger into the hole of the doore, and then leaves some sweetenes behind him before he goes. After which is set downe,

3. The successe of Christs departure, and [Page 244] withdrawing of himselfe from her.

1. Her Bowells were mooved in her, which were hard before.

2. Shee rose up out of her bed wherein for merly shee had framed, and composed her selfe to rest.

3. Shee seekes and calls after him.

But the Doctrinall points, which are to be observed out of these verses, are these,

1. That Christ doth sometimes use to leave his Children, Obser. 1. as he did the Church here.

2. That the cause is from the Church her selfe,Obser. 2. as wee see how unkindly shee had used Christ, to let him attend her leisure so long. Therefore hee taking a holy state upon him, leaves the Church; The cause of his forsaking us, is in our selves, we may thanke our selves for it.

3. That though Christ deale thus with us, Yet notwithstanding,Obser. 3. hee never leaves us wholly, without some footestepps of his saving grace, and everlasting love, some remainders and prints hee leaves upon the soule. So as it lingers after him, and never rests till it find him, he alwayes leaves something. There is never a totall desertion: as we see here in Christs dealing, hee puts his finger into the hole of the doo [...]e, he stands at the doore, and leaves myrrh behind him, something in the heart that causeth a lingering, aud restlesse affection in her towards Christ.

4. That the Church by reason of this gratious dealing of Christ (leaving somewhat behind him) is sensible of her former unkindnesse,Obser. 4.is restlesse [Page 245] and stirrs up her selfe to indeavour more and more, till shee have recovered her former communion, and sweet fellowship with Christ, which she had before. Shee never gives over till Christ and shee meet againe in peace (as wee shall see in the pro­secution,) These be the chiefe points consi­derable.

First,Obser. 1. Christ doth use sometimes to leave his Church, as here he doth, My Beloved had with­drawne himselfe, &c.

But what kind of leaving is it?

Wee must distinguish of Christs leavings; and withdrawings of himselfe. They are either in regard of outward or inward comforts and helpes.

1. Outward, as Christ leaves his Church sometimes, by taking away the meanes of Salva­tion, the Ministery, or by taking away outward comforts; which is a withdrawing of his, es­pecially if hee accompany the taking of them away with some signes of his displeasure, or sense of his anger, as usually it falls out. This doth imbitter all crosses, and losses, namely when they come from Christ, as a Testimony of his anger for our former unkindnesse.

2. Sometimes his forsaking is more inward; and that is double, Either in regard of peace, and joy, sweet inward comfort that the soule had wont to feele in the holy Ordinances by the Spirit of Christ; Or in regard of strength, and assistance. There is desertion in regard of Comfort and in regard of strength. Sometimes [Page 246] hee leaves them to themselves in regard of strength and supportation to fall into some sinne to cure some greater sinne perhaps.

Now that Christ thus leaves his Church it is true of all, both of the body and of each par­ticular member of the Church.

It is true of the whole body of the Church,1 for you have the Church complaining,In the whole Body. Isa. 49. 14. God hath forgotten me. Can a mother forget her child? (saith God againe) so Psal. 44. 9. and in other places, the Church complaines of forsakings, The Scripture is full of complaints in this kind.

It is true of the sever all members and especially of the most eminent members; as we see holy Iob complaines,Iob. 7. 2. as if God had set him (as it were) a but to shoot at, and had opposed himselfe against him. So David complaines (Psal. 88. 11. Psal. 77. 9. and Psal. 60. 1. and in other Psalmes) of Gods anger. Correct mee not in thine anger. The Psalmes are full of this; so as it would be time unprofitably spent to be large in a point so cleare, that every one knoweth well enough, who reads and understands the Psalmes.Ionah. 2. 4, 5. So Ionab likewise felt a kind of for­saking, when he was in the middest of the sea, when the waves were without, and terrors within, when he was in the middest of h [...]ll, (as it were) thus you see the instances cleere the point▪

The ends, To indeare for­mer slighted presence. that God hath in it, are many,1 First, To indeare his presence the more to us, which we slighted too much before. It is [Page 247] our corruption, the not valuing of things till they be gone, wee set not the true price upon them when wee enjoy them. When we enjoy good things, we looke at the grievances which are mingled with the good, and forget the good, which when it is gone then wee remember the good.Numb. 11. 5. The Israelites could remember their onyons and garleeke, and forget their slaverie. So because Manna was present, they despised Manna, and that upon one inconvenience it had, It was ordinary with them. Thus the corrupt heart of man is prone in the enjoying of favours, If it have any grievance, it murmures at that, and it troubles and makes them forget all the goodnesse and sweetenesse of what they enjoy. But on the contrary when God withdrawes those good things from us, then we forget those former inconveniences, and begin to think what good we had by them. This is the poyson and corruption of our Nature.

2 Againe, Christ seemes to forsake us, to try the truth of the Graces and affections in us, To trie the truth of our graces and affections. whether they be true or not, and to cause us to make after him, when hee seemes to forsake us, as undoubtedly wee shall, where there is truth of grace planted in the heart in any measure.

3 And In regard of others,To teach us wis­dome how to deale with others.he doth it to teach us heavenly wisdome how to deale with those in af­fliction, It makes us wise, tender, and successe­full in dealing with others, when wee have felt the like particular grievance our selves,2 Cor. 1. 4. as Gal. 6. 1. Bretheren if a man be overtaken in a fault, [Page 248] you that are spirituall restore such an one in the spirit of meekenesse, considering thy selfe, least thou also be tempted, Experience of spirituall griefe in this kind, will make us fit, able and wise every way to deale with others.

This serves likewise To weane us from the 4 world,To weane us from the world.in the plenty and abundance of all earthly things; For take a Christian that hath no crosse in the world, let him find some estrangement of Christ from his spirit, that he finds not the comforts of the Holy Ghost, and that inlarge­ment which in former times he enjoyed, and all the wealth hee hath, the earthly contentments he enjoyes please him not, nor can content that soule, which hath ever felt sweet communion with Christ. Againe, how should we pray with earnestnesse of affection, Thy Kingdome come (in the time of prosperity,) except there were somewhat in this kind to raise up the soule to desire to be gone? Now it is our sub­jection to these alterations, and changes, eb­bings, and flowings, sometimes to have the sence of Gods love in Christ, and sometimes to want it, sometimes to feele his love, and some­times againe the fruits of his anger and displea­sure, which serves exceedingly to stirre up mens desires of Heaven.

5. In this place heere,To correct our securitie. the especiall end was 5 To correct the security, and ill carriage of the Church.

And likewise,To prepare the soule for a nee­rer communion with him. To prepare the Church by this 6 desertion, and seeming forsaking for neerer com­munion. [Page 249] For indeed Christ did not forsake her, but to her feeling, to bring her in the sequell, to have neerer communion and union with himselfe then ever shee had before, God for­sakes, that he may [...]ot forsake; hee seemes strange, that hee may be more friendly, this is Christs usage, hee personates an adversary, when he intends to show the greatest effects of his love, as wee may see afterwards in the passages following.

7 And also, To make us to know throughly the bitternesse of sinne, That wee may know throughly what the bit­ternesse of sin is. that we may grow to a further hatred of that which deprives us of so sweete a communion; Wee thinke sinne a trifle, and never know it enough till the time of tempta­tion, that conscience be awakened and opened, that it appeares in its right colours.

8 And then againe, That wee may know what Christ suffered,That wee may taste a little what Christ suffered.and underwent for us in the sence of Gods wrath, in the absence of his favour for a time. This the humane Nature could never have suffered, if his divinity had withdrawne it selfe. Now all of us must sip of that cup, whereof Christ dranke the dreggs, having a tast what it is to have God to forsake us, for the most part, those beleevers who live any time, (especially those of great partes,) God deales thus with, weaker Christians hee is more indulgent unto; at such times we know of what use a Mediatour is, and how miserable our condition were without such an one, both to have borne and overcome the wrath of God for us, which [Page 250] burden hee could never have undergone, but had sunke under it, but for the Hypostaticall u [...] on.

Let us not therefore censure any Christian,Vse. 1. when we find that their course hath beene good,Not to censure other Christians wanting com­fort. and gratious, yet notwithstanding they seeme to want comfort, let us not wonder at them, as if God had utterly forsaken them, indeed sometimes they thinke themselves forsaken, and the world thinks them so too, that God re­gards them not, They are people of no respect either to God or to others, as you have the Church in the Psalmes complaining,Psal. 44. 9. as if God had forsaken them, so they thinke themselves forsaken, and the world thinks them so too, and neglects them. Therefore in so dooing we shall censure the generation of the Righteous. It was thus with the Head of the Church, with the whole Church, and with every particular member; neither is it fit wee should alwayes enjoy the sence of Gods love. Christ by hea­venly wisedome dispenseth of his sweetenesse, comforts and peace, as may stand with our soules best good, and wee should as much take heed of censuring our selves in that condition, as if we were rejected and cast away of God. Wee must judge our selves at such time by Faith, and not by feeling; looking to the pro­mises and Word of God, and not to our present sense and appreh [...]nsion.Vse. 2.

Againe if this be so,To prepare and looke for desertion. Learne to prepare and looke for it before hand, and to get some grounds [Page 249] [...] [Page 250] [...] [Page 251] of comfort, some promises out of the word, and to keepe a good conscience. O it is a heavy thing, when God shall seeme to be angry with us, and our conscience at the same time shall accuse us, when the Divell shall lay sinnes hard to our charge, and some affliction at the same time lie heavy upon the sore and guilty soule. If we have not somewhat layed up before hand, what will become of the poore soule, when Heaven, and Earth, and Hell, and all shall seeme to be against it. There are few that come to Heaven, but they know what these things meane. It is good therefore to looke for them, and to prepare some comforts before hand.

But what here should be the inward moo­ving cause: It is in the Church her selfe, for marke the coherence; she had turned of Christ with excuse, pretences, and delatory answers, and now presently upon it Christ forsakes her in regard of her feeling, and of the sweet comfort she formerly enjoyed, The point is.

That the cause rests in our selves why Christ withdrawes comfort from our soules.Obser. 2.

If we search our owne hearts we shall find it so,Causes of de­sertion in our selves. and usually the causes in our selves are these, 1 as it was in the Church here. 1. When we are unkind to Christ, and repell the sweet motions of 2 the Spirit. 2. When we improove not the pretious 3 meanes of Salvation that we enjoy. 3. When wee are carelesse of our conversation and company. 4 4. When we linger after carnall liberties, and ease. [Page 253] 5. When we yeeld to carnall policie, and shifts to 5 keepe us of from the power of Religion, to goe on in a luk [...] warme course. 6. When we linger after earthly things and comforts, and wrap our 7 selves up in fl [...]shly pollicy for ease. 7. When we tremble not at Gods judgements, and threat­nings, and at the signes of them; with many such things. Where these dispositions are, we need not wonder if wee find not the comforts of Christ, and of the Holy Ghost in us with the gratious presence of his Spirit; the cause is in our selves. But security hath beene at large spoken of before, where the Churches sleepe was handled, therefore the point shall not be here inlarged, but onely some use made of it, as may serve for the present purpose.

If Christ should take away the comforts that we enjoy,Vse. 1. and remoove himselfe; and his dwelling from us, (for he is now yet among us and knocks at our doores,) doe we not give him just cause to depart? what a spirit of slum­ber possesseth us, which will be awaked with nothing to seeke after Christ? how few lay hould upon God, presse upon him, wrestle with him by prayer? to hide themselves before the evill day come, as they should doe. Therefore if Christ have absented himselfe a long time from the Church in generall, and withdrawne the comfort and presence of his ordinances and in particular withheld the sweet comforts of our spirits, and our peace, so that we see him in the contrary signes of his displeasure and [Page 254] anger, as if hee did not regard and respect us, we have given him just cause so to doe. Wee see here how the Church used Christ and so doe we with the like security, and a spirit of slumber, with unkindnesse, notwithstanding all the provocations that Christ useth to winne us; hee leaves us not, untill he be left first, for he desires to have neerer acquaintance, communion and fellowship with the soule; as we have seene in the former verse, My love, my dove, my unde­filed, Open to mee, &c. Therefore if we doe not injoy more acquaintance with Christ then we doe, and walke more in the comforts of the Holy Ghost;Acts. 9. 39. it is meerely from our owne in­disposition and security. Therefore let us cen­sure our selves in this kind,The best way to recover spiri­tuall [...]. and not call Christ an enemie, as if he had forgotten, and God had forsaken. Take heed of such a spirit of mur­muring, If such a state befall us, let us labour to lay our hand upon our mouth, and to justifie Christ. It is just with thee thus to leave me, to give mee over to this terrour, to deale thus with me, that have dealt so unkindly with thee; so to justifie God, and accuse our selves, is the best way to recover spirituall comfort.

Well,Obser. 3. for the third Point. That howsoever Christ be provoked by the Churches [...] drowsinesse, and carelesse carriage, [...] regard of her feeling, and of inward comfort. [...] notwithstanding he is so gracious, [...] to leave some thing behind him, that shewes indeed, that hee had not left the Church altogether, but onely in some [Page 255] regard. For howsoever Christ (in regard of some order of his providence) leave it, yet in regard of another order of his providence, care and mercy, he doth not leave it, so as one way which he takes must sometimes give place to another way of his working in ordering things. Sometimes he is present in a way of comfort, that is one order of his dispensation: and wh [...]n he sees that that is neglected, then hee with­drawes his comforts and hides his gratious countenance, yet he is then present still in an other order and way, though we discerne it not, that is, in a way of humbling the soule, letting it see its sinne. So here howsoever Christ had withdrawne himselfe in regard of this manner of his dealing, in respect of comfort, that the Church did not now see his grace, favour, yet he left behind him a spirit of grace, to affect her heart with griefe, sorrow, and shame, and to stirre up her indeavours to seeke after him, (as it is said here,) I rose to open to my Beloved and my hands dropt myrrh, and my fingers sweet swel­ling myrrh, upon the handles of the lockes.

Here observe these three things which shall be briefly named because they shall be touched elfe where.

Christs grace is the cause of our grace,Obser.

He first leaves myrrh, and then her fingers drop myrrh: our oyle is from his oyle, the head beeing [...],Psal. 133. 2. & 36. 9.the oyle ran downe to the skirts of [...] garments;Joh. 1. 16.Out of his [...] we receive grace for grace, that is, our grace is an­swerable [Page 251] [...] [Page 253] [...] [Page 254] [...] [Page 255] [...] [Page 256] to the grace of Christ, wee have all from him, favour for his favour, because he is beloved we are beloved, we have the grace of Sanctification from him, he was Sanctified with the Spirit, therefore we are Sanctified, we have Grace of priviledge for his grace, he is the Sonne of God, therefore wee are Sonnes: Hee is the heire of Heaven, therefore wee are heires, so that of his grace it is we receive all, whether we take grace for favour, or for the grace of San­ctification, or the grace of Priviledge and Prero­gative, all our graces are from his, our myrrh from his myrrh.

This should teach us,Vse. the necessity of depen­dance upon Christ for whatsoever we have or would have, which dependance upon Christ is the life of our life, the soule of our soules.

Againe observe from hence, that the Chur­ches fingers dropped myrrh when she opened the doore, and stirred up her selfe to indeavour. When first her bowels were mooved, then shee makes to the doore, and then her hands dropped myrrh, so that:

Wee finde experience of the grace of Christ es­pecially when we stirre up our selves to ind [...]avour. Arise and be do [...]ng and the Lord shall be with thee, Observ. (saith David to Salomon,) so let us rowse up our selves to indeavour,1. Cron. 28. 20. and we shall find a gracious presence of Christ, and a blessed assistance of the Spirit of Christ, who will shew himselfe in the midst of indeavours. To him that hath shall be given: what is that? To him that hath (if [Page 257] hee exercise and stirre up the grace of God in him) shall be given. Therefore let us stirre up the graces of God in us,Mat. 25. 29. let us fall upon act­ions of obedience, second them with prayer, whatsoever we pray for and desire set upon the practise thereof; we mocke God else except we endeavour for that we desire. There was myrrh left on the doore, but she feeles it not till she arose opened the doore, and layed her hand upon the locke.

I speake to any Christians experience, if in the midst of obedience they doe not find that comfort they looked for, and that it is meate and drinke to doe Gods will. Therefore keepe not off and say, I am dead and drowsy, therefore I shall be still so; you are deceived, fall upon obedience and practising of holy duties, and in the midst thereof thou shalt find the presence and assistance of Gods Spirit, that will comfort thee.

The third thing observeable from hence is this: That Gods Graces are sweet.

Pleasant and sweet,Obser. 3. compared here to myrrh which was an ingredient in the holy oyle, grace makes us sweet, prayers are sweet, as it is Rev. 8. 4. Christ mingleth them with his owne sweet odours, and so takes and offers them to God. Holy Obedience is sweet and delight­full to God and to the conscience, it brings peace and delight to others, therefore they are called fruites; fruit doth not onely imply and shew the issuing of good things from the root. [Page 256] [...] [Page 257] [...] [Page 258] but there is also a pleasantnesse in it, so there is a delightfulnesse in good workes as there is in fruite to the taste: Therefore if we would be sweet and delightfull to God, let us labour to have grace. It we would thinke of our selves with contentment, and have inward sweetnesse, Let us labor for the graces of Gods Spirit, these are like myrrh.Prov. 15. 8.The wicked are an abomination unto the Lord, who abhors them and whatsoever is in them. But, the righteous and sincere man is his delight. Therefore if we would approve our selves to God, and feele that hee hath delight in us; labour to be such as hee may delight in.

Wherefore let the discouraged soule make this use of it;Vse. not to be affraid to doe that which is good upon feare we should sinne. Indeed sinne will cleave to that we doe, but Christ will pardon the sinne, and accept that which is sweet of his owne Spirit, Let us not esteeme basely of that which Christ esteemes highly of; nor let that be vile in our eyes that is pretious in his; let us labour to bring our hearts to com­fortable obedience, for it is a sweet sacrifice to God.

Now whence came all this? from this that is mentioned, verse. 4. My Beloved put in his hand by the hole of the doore, and my bowels were [...] for him. First for that expression, he put his finger in by the hole of the doore. It implies here that Christ before he departed left by his Spirit an impression on the Churches heart [Page 259] which deepely affected her to seeke after him.

The Fingers spoken of, are nothing but the power of his Spirit: as the usuall Scripture phrase is,Exod. [...]. 19. This is Gods finger, Gods mighty hand, without which all ordinances are ineffectuall, Paul may plant and Apollos may water, 1. Cor. 3. 7. but all is nothing without the working of the Spirit, The motions whereof are most strong, being Gods finger, whereby he wrought all that affect­ion in the Church, which is here expressed. Christ before he leaveth the Church, puts his finger into the [...]ole of the doore, that is, he workes somewhat in the soule by his Spirit, which stirred up a constant indeavour to seeke after him. For why else followes it, her bowells were mooved after him, which implies a worke of the Spirit upon her bowels, exprest in her griefe for his absence, and shame for her refusing his entrance, and whereby her heart was mooved, and turned in her to seeke after him. From whence thus explained observe,

That outward means will doe no good unlesse the finger of Christ come to doe all that is good.Obser.

The finger of Christ is the Spirit of Christ, that is, a kind of Divine power goes from him in hearing and speaking the word of God, and in prayer, there is more then a mans power in all this, if these work any effect Christ must put his finger in, when [...] are unfolded to us in the Ministery of the word, all is to no purpose, but the founding of a voyce, unlesse the finger of Christ open the heart and worke in the soule.

[Page 260]Let us make this use of it therefore, not to rest in any meanes whatsoever,Vse. 1. but desire the presence of Christs finger to moov [...], and to worke upon our hearts and soules; Many care­lesse Christians goe about the ordinances of God, and never regard this power of Christ, this mighty power, the finger of Christ. There­upon they find nothing at all that is divine and spirituall wrought in them. For as it required a God to redeeme us, to take our nature, wherein he might restore us; so likewise it requires the power of God to alter our natures. We could not be brought into the state of grace without Divine satisfaction, and we cannot be altered to a frame of grace without a Divine finger, the finger of God working upon our hearts and soules. This should moove us in all the or­dinances of God that we attend upon, to lift up our hearts in the midst of them: Lord, let me feele the finger of thy Spirit writing thy word upon my heart. Turne us O Lord, and wee shall be turned. Pray for this quickning, and in livening; for this strengthening Spirit: all comes by it. 2. From this that it is said here, That Christ puts his finger into the hole of the doore before hee remoo­ved it and withdrew himselfe, Observe.

How graciously Christ doth deale with us, That he doth alwayes leave some grace,Obser. 2.before hee doth offer to depart? Let us therefore for the time to come, lay, and store this up as a ground of comfort, that howsoever Christ may leave us, yet notwithstanding hee will never leave us [Page 261] wholly, but as he gave us his holy Spirit at first, so he will continue him in us by some gracious worke or other, either by way of comfort, or of strength to uphold us. Perhaps we may need more sorrow, more humility, then of any other grace. For, Winter is as good for the growing of things as the Spring, because, were it not for this, where would be the killing of weedes, and wormes, and preparing of the ground, and land for the spring; So it is as needfull for Christians to find the presence of Christ in the way of humiliation, and abasement, causing us to afflict our owne soules, as to feele his presence in Peace, Ioy, and Comfort. In this life we cannot be without this gracious dispensation. We may therefore comfort our selves, that howsoever Christ leaves us, yet he will alwayes leave some­what behind him, as here he left some myrrh after him upon the handle of the doore; some myrrh is left alwayes behind him upon the soule, which keepes it in a state and frame of grace, and sweetens it. Myrrh was one of the ingredients in the holy oyle, as it is Exod. 30. 30. and so this leaving of myrrh behind him, signi­fies the oyle of grace left upon the soule, that inabled the Church to doe all these things, which are after spoken of.

But you will say,Object. How doth this appeare when in some desertion a Christian finds no grace, strength, or comfort at all? that nothing is left?

It is answered,Answ. they alwayes do [...]. Take those [Page 262] who at any time have had experience of the love of God, and of Christ formerly, take them at the worst, you shall find from them some sparkles of grace, broken speeches of tryed secret comfort, some inward strength and strug­ling against corruptions, their spirits end eavou­ring to recover themselves from sinking too low, and with something withstanding both despaire and corruption. Take a Christian at the worst, there will be a discovery of the Spirit of Christ left in him, notwithstanding all deser­tion. This is universally in all in some measure though perhaps it is not diceerned to a Chri­stian himselfe, but to those that are able to judge. Sometimes others can read our evidences better then our selves. A Christian that is intemp­tation cannot judge of his owne estate, but others can; and so, at the very worst, he hath alwayes somewhat left in him, where by he may be comforted, Christ never leaves his Church and Children that are his wholly. Those that are wholly left, they never had saving grace, as Achitophell, can, Sa [...]le and I [...]da [...] were left to themselves. But for the Children of God, if ever they found the power of sanctifying grace, Christ whom he loves,Ioh. 13. 1.he loves to the end; From whom he departs not, unlesse he leaves some­what behind him, that sets an edge upon the desires to seeks after him.

Make this 2.Vse. 2. use of it, To magnifie the gra­tious love and mercy of Christ; that when we de [...]erve the contrary to be left altogether, yet [Page 263] notwithstanding so graciously he deales with us. Behold in this his dealing the mercy of Christ, hee will not suffer the Church to be in a state of security, but will rather (to cure her) bring her to another opposite state of griefe and sorrow, as we shall see in the next point, How that which Christ left in the heart of the Church, so afflicted her, That her bowels were turned in her. Whereupon she riseth, seekes, and inquires after Christ by the watch-men, and others. So she saith of her selfe.

My bowels were mooved in mee, &c.

What was that? My heart was affected full of sorrow and griefe for my unkind dealing with Christ. Hereby those affections were stirred up (that were afore sleepy and secure) to godly griefe, sorrow, and shame: For, God hath planted affections in us, and joyned them with conscience, as the executioners with the judge. So that, when as conscience accuseth of any sinne, either of Omissi [...] or Commission, affect­ions are ready to be the execucutioners within us. Thus to prevent eternall damnation, God hath set up a throne in our own hearts to take reveng [...] and correction by our owne affections, godly sorrow and mourning, as here the Church saith, My [...]owels were [...], It was a shame and griefe, springing ou [...] of love to Christ that had beene so kind, patient and full of forbea­ [...]ance to her. My [...] mee, that is, sorrow and griefe w [...]re upon me for my unkind dealing.

[Page 264]The observation from hence is,

That security, and a cold dull state, produceth a contrary temper: that is,Observ. those that are cold, dull, secure, and put of Christ, he suffers them to fall into sharpe so [...]rowes and griefes.

We usually say, cold diseases must have hot and sharp remedies; It is most true spiritually, security, which is a kind of lethargy, (a cold disease) forgetting of God, and our duty to him, must have a hot and sharpe cure; And the lethargy is best cured by a Burning Ague. So Christ deales here, he puts his finger in at the hole of the doore, and leaves grace behind to worke upon the bowels of the Church, to make her grieve and be ashamed for her unkind dealing. Thus he cures security by sorrow. This is the best conclusion of sinne.

And we may observe withall,Observ. That even sinnes of omission they bring griefe, shame, and sorrow, And in the issue through Christs sancti­fying them, these which they breed, consume the Parent, that is, sinne brings forth sorrow, shame, and griefe, which are a meanes to cure sinne. Securitys breeds this mooving of the bowe's; which mooving helpes security. Would wee therefore prevent sorrow, shame, and griefe, Take heed then of security the cause that leads to them; yea of sinnes of omission, wherein there is more danger, then in sinnes of commission. The sinnes of carnall wicked men, are usually sinnes of commission, most which breake out outragiously, and thereby taynt themselves [Page 265] with open sinnes. But the sinnes of Gods peo­ple (who are neerer to him) are for the most part sinnes of omission, that is negligence, cold­nesse, carelessenesse in duty, want of zeale, and of care they should have in stirring up the graces of God in them, as the Church here, which did not give way to Christ, nor shooke of security.

Let us esteeme as slightly as we will of sinnes of omission, Vse. and carelessenesse; they are enough to bring men to hell if God be not the more mercifull. It is not required onely that we doe no harme, and keepe our selves from outward evills, but we must doe good in a good manner, and have a care to be fruitfull, and watchfull, which if wee doe not, this temper will bring griefe, shame, and sorrow afterwards; As here even for sinues of omission, deadnesse, and dullnesse, wee see the Church is left by Christ; and her bowells are turned in her: For careles neglect, and omission of duty to God, is a pre­sage, and forerunner of some downfall and dejection. And commonly it is true, when a man is in a secure and carelesse estate, a man may read his destiny, (though he have beene never so good) nay the rather, if hee be good, Such a one is in danger to fall into some sharpe punishment, or into some sinne; for of all states and tempers, God will not suffer a Christian to be in a secure, lazy, dead state, when he cannot performe things comfortably to God, or him­selfe, or to others, a dead secure estate is so [Page 266] hatefull to him, (decay in our first love, this lukewarme temper) that he will not endure it, it either goes before some greate sinne, crosse, affliction, or judgement.

My bowells were moved in me.

And good reason, it was a suitable correction, to the sinne wherein shee offended. For Christ his bowells were turned towards her in love and pitty, My love, my dove, my [...]nd [...]filed, in which case, shee neglecting him, it was [...]it shee should find moving of bowels in another sence (out of love too) but in shame and mourning. Christ here leaves her to seeke after him, that had waited and attended her leisure before, as we shall see after.

The next thing wee may hence observe, in that, That her bowels were [...] in her from something left in the hole of the doore by the Spirit of Christ, is,

That Christ hath our affections in his gover [...] ­ment.Obser.

He hath our bowels in his rule and governe­ment, more then we our selves have. Wee cannot of our selves rule our griefe, shame, sorrow, or such affections as these, The wisest man in the world cannot award griefe, and sorrow, when God will turne it upon his bowells, and make a man ashamed and con­founded in himselfe. All the wit and pollicy in the world cannot suppresse those affections. For Christ rules our hearts. The heares of Kings are in his hand,Prov. 21. 1.as the rivers of water, as well [Page 267] as the hearts of ordinary persons.

If hee set any thing upon the soule to afflict it and cast it downe, it shall afflict it, if it be but a conceit, if hee will take away the raines from the soule, and leave it to its owne passion, re­moving away its guard, (for he by his Spirit guards our soules with peace, by commaunding of tranquillity;) So as let him but leave it to its selfe, and it will teare it selfe in sunder,2 Sam▪ 17. 23. as Achitophell who being left to himselfe, did teare himselfe in peeces;Gen. 4. C [...]in also being thus left, was disquicted, tormented, and wracked himselfe.Mat▪ 27. [...], 4. So Iudas in this case, being divided in himselfe, you see what became of him; Let Christ but leave us to our owne passion of for­row; what will become of us but misery? Hee hath more rule therefore of our passions then we our selves have, because we cannot rule them graciously, nor can we stay them when we would.

Therefore this should strike an awe in us of God,Vse. with a care to please him: For, there is not the wisest man in the world, but if he re­move his guard from his soule, and leave him to himselfe; if there were no Divell in hell, yet he would make him his owne tormentor and executioner. Therefore the Apostle makes this sweete promise, Phil. 4. 7. He bids them pray to God; And the [...]eace of God which [...] all [...] [guard] the [...] soules, &c. So the word is in the originall. It is a great matter for the [...]eeping of Gods people, [Page 268] to have their soules guarded.

Her bowells were turned in her.Obser.

Here againe, as the conclusion of all this, we seeing this estate of the Church, may won­der at Christs carriage towards her in this world.1 Thes 3. Christ is wonderfull in his Saints, and in his goodnesse towards them, Sometimes al­luring them, as we see Christ the Church here; wondrous in patience, notwithstanding their provocation of him; wondrous in his desertions, wondrous in leaving something behind him in desertions Those that are his he will not leave them without grace, whereby they shall seeke him againe. Nay, the falling out of lovers, shall be the renewing of fresh and new love, more constant then ever the former was. Thus our blessed Saviour goes beyond us in our de­serts, taking advantage (even) of our security (for our greater good) making all worke to good in the issue,Rom. 8. 28. which shall end in a more neere and close communion between Christ and his Church, then ever before. Carnall men feele not these changes, ebbings and flow­ings; they are not acquainted with Gods forsakings. Indeed their whole life is nothing but a forsaking of God, and Gods forsaking of them, who gives them outward comforts, peace and friends in the world, wherein they sollace themselves, but for inward communion with him, any strength to holy duties, or against sinne, for to be instruments for Gods honour, and service, to doe any good, they are carelesse. [Page 269] For they live here to serve their owne turnes, leaving their state and inheritance behind them. The Scripture saith,Psal. 35. 19. They have no changes, there­fore they feare not God, and so they goe downe to Hell quietly and securely. O but it is other­wise with Gods Children, they are tossed up and downe, God will not suffer them to prosper, or live long in a secure, drowsy sinfull state, the continuance wherein is a fearefull evidence, that such an one as yet hath no saving grace, nor that he yet belongs to God, seeing Christ hates such an estate, and will not suffer his to be long therein, but will shift and remove them from vessell to vessell, from condition to con­dition, till hee have wrought in them that dis­position of soule that they shall regard and love him more and more, and have neerer, and neerer communion with him.

The end of the ninth Sermon.

THE TENTH SERMON.

CANT. V. VI.‘I opened to my Beloved, but my Beloved had withdrawne himselfe, and was gone: my soule failed when he spake, I sought him but could not find him, I called him but hee gave no answer.’

THus we see that the life of aSERM. X. Christian is trouble upon trouble as wave upon wave, God will not suffer us to rest in security, but one way or other he will fire us out of our starting holes, and make us to runne after him, how much better [Page 271] were it for us then to doe our workes chearfully and joyfully, so to runne as we may obtaine, then to be thus hurried up and downe, and through our owne default comming into desertions and there receiving rebukes and blowes and delayes ere we have peace againe, as it fell out with the Church in the sequell, for this text is but the beginning of her (seeming) misery. The watch-men after this, found her, and wounded her, &c. But Heaven is more worth then all, now that her affections are set on fire, from thence shee bestirrs her selfe, is resolute to find out her beloved, whom she highly values above all this world. How her affections were stirred by Christs putting in his finger at the hole of the doore we have heard. Now followes her action therupon, for here is rising, opening, see­king, calling and enquiring after Christ.

Action followes affection. After her bowells are moved she ariseth and openeth, from whence we may further observe,

That where truth of affection [...]s,Obser.it will discover it selfe in the outward man, one way or other. If there be any affection of love and piety to God, there will be eyes lift up, knees bended downe, and hands stretched forth to Heaven. If there be any griefe for sinne, there will be the face dejected, the eyes looking downe, some expression or other: If there be a desire there will be a making forth to the thing de­sired. For, the outward-man is commanded by the inward, which hath a kind of soveraigne [Page 272] commanding power over it; and sayes, doe this and it doth it, speake this and it speakes it, therefore those whose courses of life are not gratious, their affections and their hearts are not good, for where the affections are good, the actions will be sutable. Her bowells were moved in her, and presently she shewes the truth of her affection, in that she maketh after him.

  • 1. Her soule failed when hee spake.
  • 2. Shee makes after him,

My scule failed when he spake, I sought him but I could not find him.

Of Christs withdrawing himselfe we spake in generall before, wherefore we will leave that and proceed.

My soule failed when he spake.

That is, her soule failed when she remembred what he had spoke, when he stood at the doore, and said, Open to me my Sister, my Love, my Dove, my Vndefiled, for my head is wet with the dew, &c. Now when Gods Spirit had wrought upon her, then she remembred what Christ had said: all those sweet allurements were effectuall now unto her, especially when she saw that after those sweet allurements Christ had withdrawne himselfe, for that is the mea­ning of these wordes: (My soule failed when hee spake unto mee) Hee did not speake now: but her soule failed after he spake; for so it should be read, that is, after she remembred his speech to her: for, now when she opened he was not there, therefore he could not speake to her.

[Page 273]The Word of Christ howsoever for the present it be not effectuall,Obser. yet afterwards it will be in the remembrance of it.

To those that are gracious it will be effectuall when the Holy Ghost comes to seale it further upon their heart: Christ spake many things to his Disciples which they forgot, but when after­wards the Holy Ghost the comforter was come, his office was,Io [...], 14. 26. to bring all things to their remem­brance that they had forgotten before. The Holy Ghost taught them not new things, but brought former things to their remembrance; for God will make the word effectuall at one time or other, perhaps the word we heare is not effect­uall for the present, it may afterwards, many yeares after, when God awakes our consciences.

And as this is true of Gods Children, the seed now sowne in them perhaps will not grow up till many yeares after, so it is true also of those that are not Gods Children, they thinke they shall never heare againe of those things they heare, perhaps they will take order by sensuallity▪ heardning of their hearts (and through Gods judgements withall concurring) that conscience shall not awake in this world, but it shall awake one day; for it is put into the heart to take Gods part and to witnesse against us for our sinnes. It shall have and per­forme its office hereafter, use it as you will now, and it will preach over those things againe that you now heare. You shall hea [...]e againe of them but it shall be a [...] hearing. Now [Page 274] we may heare fruitfully to doe us good, but afterwards we shall call to mind what we have heard and it shall cut us to the heart. Dives (wee know) had Moses and the Prophets to ins [...]ruct him,Luk. 16. 25. but he never heeded them in his life, untill afterwards to his torment. So men never heed what they heare and reade, they put of all and lay their consciences [...], but God will bring them afterwards to remem­brance: but because it is a point especially of comfort to the Church.

Labour we all of us to make this use of it,Vse. to be diligent and carefull to heare and attend upon the ordinances of God,To attend dili­gently upon the ordinances of God for how soever that we heare is not effectuall for the present but seemes as dead seed cast into the heart, yet God will give it a body after, 1 Cor. 15. 28. as the Apostle speakes, at one time or other. And that which we heare now the Holy Ghost will bring it to our remembrance when wee stand in most need of it.

My soule failed when hee spake.

She was in a spirituall swoone and deliqui­um upon his withdrawing, whence the point considerable is,

That Christ doth leave his Church sometimes and bring it very low in their owne apprehensions,observ. that their [...]earts [...]ayle them for want of his prefence. So it was with David,Psal. 38. 2, 3. so with Ionah, so with the Church, Ionah. 2. 2. Lam. 3. 1. we see it at large.

The necessity of our soules and of our estates requ [...]e this,Reason. as sometimes a body may be so [Page 273] [...] [Page 274] [...] [Page 275] corrupt that it must be brought as low as pos­sible may be before there will be a spring of new and good blood and spirits: so we may fall into such a state of security that nothing will bring us to a right temper, but extreame pur­ging. And usually God deales thus with strong wits and parts (if they be holy) David and Salomon were men excellently quallified, yet when they tasted of the pleasures and con­tentments of the world too deepe, answerably they had and so (usually) others shall have such desertions as will make them smart for their sweetnesse, as was shewed before;

But, upon what occasions doth a Christian thinke especially, that God doth leave, forsake and fayle him.

First,The heart sinks This fayling and fainting of the soule 1 is sometimes upon an apprehension,When God ap­peares an enemy. as if God and Christ were become enemies, as Iob saith, and as having set us as a but to shoot at, but this is not all that a gracious and pure heart sinkes for.Iob. 7. 20.

2 But also Secondly, For the absence of Christs love,When Christs love is absent and not selt. though it feele no anger. Even as to a loving Wife, her husband not looking lovingly upon her as he used to doe, is enough to cast her downe and cause her spirits to fayle;Simile so for God to looke upon the soule; put the case not with an angry, yet with a countenance with­drawne, it is sufficient to cast it down, for any one that hath dependance upon another to see their countenance withdrawne and not to shew their [Page 276] face as before, if there be but a sweet disposition in them it is enough to daunt and dismay them.

Nay, Moreover when they find not that 3 former assistance in holy dutyes,When they misse of forme [...] a [...]sistance in holy dut [...]es. when they find that their hearts are shut up and they cannot pray as formerly when they had the Spirit of God more fully, and when they find that they cannot beare afflictions with wonted patience; certainely Christ hath withdrawne himselfe; (say they) This is first done when we heare the word of God not with that delight and profit as we were wont, when they find how they come neere to God in holy communion and yet feele not that sweet tast and relish in the ordinances of God as they were wont to doe; they conclude certainely God hath hid his face, whereupon they are cast downe, their spirits fayle. And doe not wonder that it should be so, for it is so in nature; when the Sunne hides it selfe many dayes from the world it is an un­comfortable time, the spirits of the creatures lower and wither, we see it so in the body, that the animall spirits in the braine (which are the cause of motion and sence) if they be ob­structed there followes an Apoplexie and dead­nesse. So it is betweene Christ and the soule, he is the Sunne of Righteousnesse, Mal. 4. 2. by whose beames wee are all comforted and cheared, which when they are withheld then our spirits decay and are discouraged. Summer and Winter arise from the presence and absence of the sunne: what causeth the Spring to be so [Page 277] cloathed withall those rich ornaments? the pre­sence of the sunne which comes neerer then. So what makes the summer and winter in the soule but the absence or presence of Christ, what makes some so vigorous beyond others, but the presence of the Spirit? As it is in nature, so it is here, the presence of Christ is the cause of all spirituall life and vigour; who when hee withdrawes his presence a little the soule fayles.

My soule failed when hee spake to me, I sought him but I could not find him, I culled but hee gave mee no answer.

The Church redoubleth her complaint to shew her passion,Obser. A large heart hath b [...]rge expres­sions: shee tooke it to heart that Christ did not shew himselfe in mercy, therefore she never hath done, I sought him but I could no [...] find him; I called but he gave me no answer.

Affection makes eloquent and large expressions,

But mainely observe from this [...]ay ling of the Church.Obser. The difference betweene the true children of God and others. The child of God is cast downe when he finds not the presence of God as he was wo [...]t, his spirits faile? A carnall man that never knew what this presence meant, regards it not, can abide the want of it, he finds indeed a presence of God in the creature which hee thinks not of, there is a sweetenesse in Meate, drinke, rest, and a content­ment in honour, preferment, and riches; And thus God is present alwayes with him. But [Page 278] other presence hee cares not for. Nay, hee shunnes all other presence of God, labouring to avoid his spirituall presence. For what is the reason that a carnall man shunnes the applying of the word and the thinking of it, but because it brings God neere to his heart, and makes him present. What is the reason hee shunnes his owne conscience: that he is loath to heare the just and unanswerable accusations that it would charge upon him? but because he cannot abide the presence of God in his conscience. What is the reason hee shunnes the sight of holier and better menthen himselfe? they present God to him being his image,1 King. 17. 18. and call his sinnes to me­mory, and upbraid his wicked life. Hence comes that satanicall hatred more then humane in carnall vil emen, to those that are better then themselves: because they hate all presence of God: both in the word, ministery, and all Gods holy servants; all such presence of God they hate, whereof one maine reason is, because they are melefactors, wicked rebells, and in­tend to be so. And as a malefactor connot endure so much as the thought of the judge, so they cannot thinke of God otherwife (in that course they are in) then of a judge, whereupon they tremble and quake at the very thought of him, and avoyd his presence.

You know that great man Felix Paul spake to in the Acts, when he spake of the judgement to come,Acts. 24. 25. and those vertues, as Temperance, and Righteousnesse, which he was voyd of, and [Page 277] [...] [Page 278] [...] [Page 277] [...] [Page 278] [...] [Page 279] guilty of the contrary vices: he quaked and could not endure to heare him speak any longer. Wicked men love not to be arraigned, tor­mented, Mark. 5 7. accused and condemned before their time, therfore whatsoever presents to them their future terrible estate, they cannot abide it. It is an evidence of a man in a cursed condition, thus not to endure the presence of God: but what shall God and Christ say to them at the day of judgement? It was the desire of such men not to have to doe with the presence of God here, and it is just with Christ to answer them there as they answer him now, Depart depart,Iob 22. 17.we will have none of thy wayes (say they) depart ye cursed (saith he) He doth but answer in their owne language, Depart ye cursed with the Divell and his angells.

But you see the Child of God is cleane of another temper, he cannot be content to be without the presence of God and of his Spirit inlightning, quickning, strengthening and bles­sing of him in spirittuall respects. When he finds not his presence helping him, when he finds Christ his life is absent from him, he is presently discouraged.Col. 3. 4. For, Christ is our life. Now when a mans life fayles all fayles, when therefore a man finds his spirituall taste and comfort not as it was before, then oh, the life of my life hath withdrawne himselfe, and so is never quiet till he have recovered his life againe,Col. 3. 4. for Christ is his life.

And because there is a presence of God and [Page 280] of Christ in the Word and Sacraments a sweet presence: the godly soule hee droopes and failes if he be kept from these, he will not ex­communicate himselfe as many doe, that per­haps are asleepe when they should be at the or­dinances of God; but if he be excommunicated and banished, O how takes he it to heart! Psal. 42. 1. As the hart panteth after the wa [...]er br [...]okes, so longeth my soule after thee O God: the whole 84. Psalme is to that purpose, O how aymiable are thy Tabernacles O Lord of hosts? He finds a presence of God in his word and sacra­ments, and when he doth not taste a sweet pre­sence of God therein he droopes and sinks.

A carnall man never heedes these things be­cause he finds no sweetnesse in them, but the godly finding Christ in them they droope in the want of them and cannot live without them, Whither shall we goe [...] (saith Peter to Christ) thou hast the words of eternall life, Ioh. 6. 68. I find my soule quickned with thy speaking. So a soule that feeles the quickning power of the ordinances, he will never be kept from the meanes of sal­vation, but he droopes and is never well till he have recovered himselfe againe?

Againe another difference may be observed. Carnall men when they find the sence of Gods anger they seeke not Gods favour but thinke of worse and worse still, and so run from God till they be in hell. But those that are Gods children, when they faile and find the sence of Gods displeasure they are sencible of it, and [Page 281] give not over seeking to God, they run not fur­ther and further from him.

The Church here though shee found not Christ present with her yet she seekes him still and never gives over.

Whence againe we may observe,Observ. That al­though the Church be said to faile and not to find Christ, yet he is present then with her. For who inabled her to seeke him. To explaine this, there is a double presence of Christ.That there is a double presence of Christ [...]elt and not [...]elt.

  • 1. Felt.
  • 2. Not Felt.

1 The presence felt, His presence [...]elt. is when Christ is graciously present and is withall pleased to let us know so much, which is a Heaven upon Earth: the soule is in Paradice then, when she feeles the love of God shed abroad in the heart, and the favourable countenance of God shining upon her, then she despiseth the world, the divell and all, and walkes as if she were halfe in Heaven already, for she finds a presence and a manifestation of it, a more glorious state then the world can afford.

2 But, There is a presence of Christ that is secret, Christ unfelt secret presence. when he seemes to draw us one way, and to drive us another, that we are both driven and drawne at once: when he seemes to put us away and yet notwithstanding drawes us; when we find our soules goe to Christ, there is a drawing power and presence, but when we find him ab­sent here is a driving away. As we see here in the Church and in the Woeman of Canaan, Mat. 15. we see what an answer she had from Christ, at first [Page 282] none, and then an uncomfortable, and lastly a most unkind answer. Wee must not give the childrens bread to d [...]ggs. Christ seemed to drive her away, but at the same time he by his Spirit drawes her to him and was thereby secretly present in her heart to increase her faith. When Christ wrestled with Iacob though he conten­ded with him,Gen. 32. yet the sametime he gave Iacob power to overcome him, to be Israel a prevailer over him: so at the same time the Church seemes to faile and faint, yet notwithstanding there is a secret drawing power pulling her to Christ, whereby she never gives over but seekes and calls still after him.

It is good to observe this kind of Christs dea­ling, because it will keepe us that we be not discouraged when we find him absent. If still there be any grace left mooving us to that which is good, if we find the Spirit of God moving us to love the word and ordinances, to call upon him by prayer and to be more instant, certainely we may gather there is a hidden, secret presence here that drawes us to these things. Nay more that the end of this seeming farsaking and str [...]ng [...]nesse is to draw us neerer and neerer, and at length to draw us into heaven to himselfe. Gods people are gainers by all their losses, [...] by all their weakenesses, and the better for all their crosses whatsoever they are. And you sh [...]ll find that the Spirit of God is more [...] in them after a strange­nesse, to [...] eagerly after Christ [Page 283] then before; as here the Church doth for her eagernesse, constancie and instantnesse it groweth as Christs withdrawing of himselfe groweth.

Let us therefore learne hence how to judge o [...] our selves,Vse. if we be in a dead livelesse state,How to judge of our selves in a dead livelesse estate both in regard o [...] com­fort and holy performances. both in regard of comfort and of holy perfor­mances, whether we be content to be so. If we be not contented but make towards Christ more and more it is a good signe that he hath not forsaken us, that he will come againe more gloriously then ever before. As here we shall see after it was with the Church, he seemes strange but it is to draw the Church, to discover her affection and to make her ashamed of her former unkindnesse, and to sit surer and hold faster then she did before, all ends in a most sweet communion.

Wee should labour therefore to answer Christs dealing in sutable apprehensions of soule when he is thus present secretly,Vse. 2. though he seeme in regard of some comforts and former experience of his love to withdraw himselfe,We should de­pend upon Christ in a seeming absence. It should teach us, to depend upon him, and to beleeve though we feele not comfort, yea against comfort when we feele signes of dis­pleasure. If he can love and support me, and strengthen my soule, and shew it a presence of that which is fit for me. Certainely I should answer thus with my faith, I will depend upon him (though he kill me) as Iob did; our soules should never give over seeking of Christ, pray­ing [Page 284] and endeavouring, for there is true love where hee seemes to forsake and leave; therefore I ought in these desertions to cleave to him in life and in death.

The end of the tenth Sermon.

THE ELEVENTH SERMON.SERM. XI.

CANT. V. VI. VII.‘I opened to my Beloved, but my Beloved had withdrawne himselfe, and was gone: my soule failed when [...]e spake, I sought him but could not find him, I called him but he gave mee no answer. &c.’

THE pride and secur [...]tie of the Spouse provokes the Lord her husband oft to bring her very low, they being incompatible with Christs residence.

Pride is an affection con­trarie t [...] his prerogative, for it sets up somewhat in the soule higher then God the highest.

[Page 286]Security is a d [...]ll temper or rather distem­per that m [...]kes the soule neglect her watch and rely upon some outward priviledge, where this ill co [...]ple is entertained, there Christ useth to withdraw himselfe, even to the failing and fainting of the soule.

The Spouse is here in her fainting fit yet she seekes after [...]hrist: still she gives not over, so Ionas,Jonah. 2.I am cast out of thy presence (saies hee) yet notwithstand [...]ng I will looke toward thy holy Temple. And David Psal. 31. 22. I said in my hast I am cast out of thy sight, yet notwithstand [...]ng thou heardest the voice of my prayer. Hee said it, but hee said it in his haste. Gods children are surprized on the sudden to thinke they are castaway, but it is in haste and so soone as may be they recover themselves. I said it is my Infirmitie, said David Psal. 73. Jt is but in a passion, here then is the difference betweene the children of God and others in desertions, they arise,Isa. 13. these lye still and despaire. There is life in the substance of the Oake that makes it lift up its head above ground though it bee cut downe to the stumpes. Nay wee see further here the Church is not taken off for any discour­ragements, but her faith growes stronger, as the womans of Canaan did.Mat. 15.

1 The Reason whereof is, Faith lookes to the Promise and to the nature of God not to his present dealing.

2 And then God by a secret worke of his Spirit (though hee seeme to bee an enemy [Page 287] yet notwithstanding) drawes his children neerer and neerer to him by such his d [...]aling. All this strangenesse is but to mortifie some former lust, or consume some former drogs of securitie.

I sought him but I could not find him.

Heere one of the greatest discouragements of all other is, when prayer (which is left to the Church as a salve for all sores) hath no an­swer. This is the complaint, but indeed an errour of the Church; for Christ did heare the Church though hee seemed to turne his backe.

But how shal we know that God heares our Prayers?

Amongst many other things this is one:How to know that God heares our Prayers. when he gives us inward peace, then he heares our prayers, for so is the connexion. Phil. 4. 6. 7.

Or secondly,If he therewith gives [...] peace. If wee find a spirit to pray still, a spirit to waite and to hold out,Phil. 4. it is an argument that God either hath or will heare those prayers.

And as it is an argument that God heares 2 our prayers,A spirit to hold out in prayer though without peace. so is it of the presence of Christ; for how could wee pray but from his inward presence? Christ was now present, and more present with the Church when hee seemed not to be found of her, then hee was when she was secure, for whence else comes this eager­nesse of desire, this spirit of prayer, this earnestnesse of seeking.

I called but hee gave no answer &c.

Directions how to carry our selves in such [Page 288] an estate. How shall we carry our selves when it falls out that our hearts faile of that we seek for, whē we pray without succes & find not a presēt answer? or are in any such like state of desertion.

1. Wee must believe against beliefe (as it were) hope against hope, and trust in God, Rom. 4. Howsoever hee shewes himselfe to us as an opposite. Jt is no matter what his present dealing with his Church and children heere is, the nature of Faith is to breake through all opposition, to see the Sunne behind a cloud,2. Cor. 6. nay to see one con­trary in another, life in death, a clame in a storme &c.

2. Labour for an absolute dependancie upon Christ with a povertie of spirit in our selves, this is the end of Christs withdrawing himselfe, to purge us of selfe confidence and pride.

3. Stir up your graces, for as nature joyning with phisicke helpes it to worke and carry a­way the malignant humours: so by the remain­der of the Spirit that is in us, let us set all our graces on worke untill wee have carried away that that offends and clogs the soule, and not sincke under the burthen, for this is a speciall time for the exercising of faith, hope, love, diligence, care, watchfullnesse, and such like graces.

And let us know for our comfort, that evē this conflicting condition is a good estate. In a sicke body it is a signe of life and health approaching when the humours are stirred, so as that a man complaines that the phisicke workes. So when [Page 289] wee take to heart our present condition, though wee faile and find not what wee would, yet this will worke to the subduing of corruption at length. It is a signe of future victorie when wee are d [...]scontent with our present ill estate. Grace will get the upper hand, as nature doth when the humours are disturbed.

4. Againe when wee are in such a seeming forlorne estate, Let us have recourse to former experience. What is the reason that God vouch­safes his children for the most part in the be­ginning of their conversion (in their first love) experience of his love to ravishment? Jt is, that afterwards they may have recourse to that love of God then felt to support themselves, and withall to stirre up endeavours, and hope; that finding it not so well with them now as formerly it hath binn,Hose. 2▪ 7 by comparing state with state, desires may bee stirred up to bee as they were or rather better.

And as the remembrance of former experi­ences serve to excite endeavour, so to stirre up Hope. I hope it shall be as it was, because God is Immutable. I change but Christ alters not, the inferiour elementary world changes, heere is faire weather and foule, but the Sunne keepes his perpetuall course; and as in the gloomiest day that ever was there was light enough to make it day and to distinguish it from night, (though the Sunne did not shine) So in the most disconsolate state of a Christian soule, there is light enough in the soule to shew that the Sunne [Page 290] of Righteousnesse is there, and that Christ hath shined upon the soule,Psal. 112. 4. that it is day with the soule and not night.

5. And learne when wee are in this condition to waite Gods leasure, for hee hath waited ours. It is for our good, to prepare us for further blessings, to mortifie and subdue our corrup­tions, to inlarge the capacity of the soule that the Lord absents himselfe, therefore Bernard saith well, Tibi accidit &c. Christ comes and goes away for our good, when hee withdrawes the sence of his love, the soule thereupon is stretched with desire, that it may bee as it was in former time, in the daies of old. Thus much for that, I sought him but I could not find him, I called but hee gave me no answer.

Heere wee must answer one objection before wee leave the words.Object. This seemes to contradict other Scriptures, which promise that those that seeke shall find. Matt. 7. 7. It is true they that seeke shall find but not presently.Answ. Gods times are the best and fittest. They that seek shall find, if they seek constantly with their whole heart in all the meanes. Some doe not find, because they seeke in one meanes and not in another, they seeke Christ in reading and not in the ordinance of hearing, in private meditation, but not in the communion of Saints; wee must goe through all meanes to seeke Christ, not one must bee left. Thus if wee will seeke him, undoubtedly hee will make good his promise. Nay in some sort, hee is found before hee is sought, for hee is [Page 291] in our soules to stirre up desire of seeking him, hee prevents us with desires and answers us in some sort before wee pray, when hee gives us a spirit of prayer, it is a pledge to us, that hee meanes to answer us. Isa [...]3. 34. Therefore it is a spiritu­all deceit when wee thinke Christ is not in us and wee are neglected of him, because wee have not all that wee would have. Among many other deceits that Christians deceive themselves with in this kind these be two.Iudging of grace by the quanti [...]y and not by the value

1. That they judge grace by the quantity and not by the value and price of it, 1. Pet. 1. whereas the least measure of grace and comfort is to be esteemed, because it is an immortall seed cast into the soule by an immortall God the Father of Eternity.

2. Another deceit is,judging of our­selves by sense and [...]eeling. that Wee judge of our selves by sence and feeling and not by faith.

The watchmen that went about the citty found mee and smote me and tooke away my vaile from mee.

Heere the poore Church after the setting downe of her owne exercise in her disertion now sets out some outward ill dealing shee met with and that from those that should have beene her greatest comforters. The watchmen that went about the citty found me, they wounded me, the keepers of the walls tooke away my vaile from me.

Thus wee see how trouble followes trouble, One depth calls upon another: Inward desertion and outward affliction goe many times together. The troubles of the Church many times are [Page 292] like Iobes messengers they come fast one upon another, because God meanes to perfect the worke of Grace in their hearts, all this is for their good. The sharper the winter the better the spring, learne hence first of all therefore in generall.

That,Observ. It is no easie thing to be a sound Christian.

Wee see heere when the Church had betro­thed her selfe to Christ and entertained him into her garden, there after she falls into a state of security and sleepe, whence Christ labours to rouse her up: then she useth him un­kindely, after which hee withdrawes himselfe even so farre that her heart failes her; then (as if this were not enough) the watchmen that should have looked to her, they smite her, wound her and take away her vaile. See here the variety of the usage of the Church and changes of a Christian, not long in one state, hee is ebbing and [...]owing.

Therefore let none distaste the way of God­linesse for this, that it is such a state as is subject to change and variety; whereas carnall men are upon their lees and find no changes.

But you will say,Object. All Christians are not thus tossed up and downe, so deserted of God and persecu­ted of others.

I answer, Indeed there is difference,Answ. Whence comes that difference? from Gods liberty; it is a misterie of the Sanctuarie, which no man in the world can give a reason of, why of Christ­ians both equally beloved of God, Some [Page 293] should have a fairer passage to Heaven; others rougher and more rugged; It is a mysterie hid in Gods brest. It is sufficient for us, if God will bring us any way to Heaven, as the blessed Apostle saith.Phil. 3. 11. If by any meanes I might attaine to the resurrection of the dead, either through thicke or thinne, if God will bring me to Hea­ven it is no matter. If I by any meanes.

The Watchmen that went about the Citty smote mee, &c.

By the Watchmen heere are ment especially Governours of State and Church.

Why are they called Watchmen.

It is a borrowed speech taken from the cust­ome of Citties that are beleagered, for polli­cies sake they have watchmen to descry the danger they are liable unto, so Magistrates be watchmen of the State,Heb. 13. [...]7. Ministers are the watch­men for Soules, watching over our Soules for good.

Why doth God use Watchmen.Quest.

Not for any defect of power in him,Answ. 1. but for demonstration of his goodnes▪ for he is the great Watchman, who watcheth over our common­wealthes, Churches and persons, he hath an eye that never sleepes,Psal. 124. 4. He that watcheth Israel neither slumbers nor sleepes, yet notwithstanding hee hath subordinate Watchmen, not for defect of power, but for demonstrotion of goodnesse; hee manifests his goodnes in that he will use varietie of subordinate Watchers.

And likewise to shew his power in using many [Page 294] instruments and his care for [...]s when he keepes us together with his owne subordinate meanes.

And in this that God hath set over us Watch­ers (Ministers especially) It implyes that our soul [...]s are in danger, and indeed there is nothing in the world so beset as the soule of a poore Christian, who hath so many and so bad ene­mies as a Christian, and amongst them all, the worst and greatest enemie hee hath is neerest to him, and converseth daily with him, even himselfe. Therefore there must needs bee Watchmen to discover the deceits of Satan and his instruments, and of our owne hearts, to dis­cover the dangers of Hierusalem, and the errours and sins of the times wherein wee live. The Church is in danger, for God hath set Watch­men, now God and nature doth nothing in vaine or needlessely.

Againe in that God takes such care for the soule, it shewes the woundrous worth of it, many arguments there be to shew that the soule is a pretious thing,Arguments shewing the pretiousnesse of the soule. it was breathed by God at first, Christ gave his life to redeeme it, but this is an especiall one that God hath ordained and established a ministry and Watchmen ouer it. And as God hath set some men Watch­men over others, so hath hee appointed every man to bee a Watchman to himselfe. Hee hath given every man a citty to watch over, that is his owne estate and soule, therefore let us not depend altogether on the watching of others. God hath planted a conscience in every of us, and [Page 295] useth as others to our good, so our owne care, wisdome, and foresight, these hee elevateth and sanctifieth.

The Wa [...]chmen that w [...]nt about the citty found mee, they smote mee, they wounded mee, &c. Come wee now to the carriage of these Watchmen,How the Church was wounded by the Watch­men. those that should have beene de­fensive prove most offensive.

They smote the Church and wounded her many wayes, (though it be not discovered heere in particular) as with their ill and scando­lous life, and sometimes with corrupt doctrine 1 and otherwhiles with bitter words, and their 2 unjust censures, as wee see in the story of the 3 Church,3 Ioh. 9. especially the Romish Church, they have excommunicated Churches and Prin­ces: but not to speake of those Synagogues of Satan, come wee nearer home and wee may se amongst our selves sometimes those that are Watchmen and should be for encouragement, They smite and wound the Church,3 Ioh. I0. and take away her vaile.

What is it to take away the vaile.

You know in the times of the Old Testament a vaile was that which covered woemen for modestie, to shew their subjection, and it was likewise an honourable ornament, They tooke a­way the vaile, that is that wherewith the Church was covered, they tooke away that, that made the Church comely, and laid her open and as it were naked.

Now both these wayes, the Churches vaile is [Page 296] taken away by false and naughty Watchmen.

I. As the vaile is a token of subjection, when by their false D [...]ctrines,They tooke a­way the vail [...] of [...] subjecti­on. they labour to draw people from Christ, and their subjection to him.

The Church is Christs Spous [...], the vaile was a token of subjection, now they that d [...]aw the people to themselves, as in Popish Churches, that desire to sit high in the consci­ences of people, and so make the Church un­dutifull, They take away the vaile of subjection, and so force Christ to punish the Church, as wee see in former ages.

2 2. As the vaile is for honour and comelinesse, The vail [...] of her honour and comelinesse. so they take away the vaile of the Church, when they take away the credit and esteem [...] of the Church, when they lay open the infirmities and weaknes­ses of the Church. This is strange that the Watch­men should do this, yet notwithstanding often­times it falls out so that those that by place are Watchmen, are the bitterest enemies of the Church Who were bitterer enemies of the poore Church in Christs time then the Scr [...]bes, Pharises, and Priests.

And so in the time of the Prophets, who were the greatest enemies the Church had, but false Pri [...]sts, and Prophets.

What is the ground of this,Quest. that those men that by their stand [...]ng should bee encouragers, are rather dampers of the Churches [...]eile in pursuit [...]f it.Answ. Why the watchmen are the wonders of the Church

There are man [...] grounds of it.

Sometimes it falls out from a spirit of en­vie [Page 297] in them at the graces of Gods people which are wanting in themselves, they would not have others better then themselves.

Sometimes from Idlenesse which makes them hate all such as provoke them to paines: they raise up the dignity of outward things too much, as wee see in Poperie, they make every thing to conferre grace, as if they had a speciall vertue in them: but they neglect that wherewith God hath joyned an efficacie, his owne ordinances.

This should teach us,Vse. I. To bee in love with Christs governement, and to see the vanity of all things heere below, though they bee never so excellent in their ordinance. Such is the poyson of mans heart, and the malice of Satan that they turne the edge of the best things against the good of the Church.

What is more excellent then Magistracie, yet many times the point of the sword is directed the wrong way. I have said ye are Gods. Psal. 82. 6. They should governe, as God himselfe would governe, and aske with themselves, would God now if hee were a Watchman of the state doe thus and thus, but I wish woefull experience did not witnesse the contrary.

So [...] and should carry themselves even as Christ would do;2. Cor. 5. 20. they should strengthen the feeble knees and bind up the brok [...]n [...],E [...]k. I3. I8 nor di [...]courag [...] and not [...]ow pillow [...]s [...]nder the [...] of wicked and [...], but alas [...] the [Page 298] edge of the ordinance is oftentimes turned another way by the corrupt, proud, unbroken hearts of men and the malice of Satan.

Againe,Vse 2. it should teach us, not to thinke the worse of any for the disgraces of the times. The Watchmen heere take away the vaile of the Church, and her forwardnesse is disgraced by them: take heed therefore wee entertaine not rash conceites of others, upon the entertaine­ment they find abroad in the world, or among those that have a standing in the Church, for so wee shall condemne Christ himselfe, how was hee judged of the Pri [...]sts, Scribes, and Pharisees in his times? and this hath beene the lot of the Church in all ages, the true members thereof were called Heretiques and Schisma­tickes, the vaile was taken of. It is the poyson­full pride of mans heart that when it cannot raise it selfe, by its owne worth, it will endea­vour to raise it selfe by the ruine of others credit through lying slanders. The Divell was first a slanderer, and lyer, and then a mur­therer, hee cannot murther without hee slander first, the credit of the Church must first bee taken away, and then shee is wounded, other­wise as it is a usuall proverbe, Those that kill a dogge make the world believe, that he was mad first, so they alwayes first traduced the Church to the world, and then persecuted her. Truth hath alwayes a scratch't face. Falshood many times goes under better habits then its owne which God suffers to exercise our skill and [Page 299] wisdome that wee might not depend upon the rash judgment of others, but might consider what grounds they have; not what men doe or whom they oppose, but from what cause. Whether from a spirit of F [...]vie, Idlenesse, Iealousie, and Pride, or from good grounds, else if Christ himselfe were on earth againe, we should condemne him, as now men do the generation of the just, whom they smite and wound and take away their vaile from them.

The end of the eleventh Sermon.

THE TVVELFTH SERMON.

CANT. V. VII.‘The Watchmen that went about the citty found me, they smote mee, they wounded me, the Keepers of the walls tooke away my vaile from me.’

THE Watchmen. (Those that by their place and standing should bee, soe) they smote the Church (as Barnard complaines, almost 500. yeares agoe) alas, alas saith he, those that doe see [...] pri­viledges in the Church, are the first in persecu­ting it and (as his fashion is to speake in a kinde of Rhetorick) they were not pastors, but im­post [...]rs. There be two ordinances without [Page 301] which the world cannot stand.

  • 1. Magistracie.
  • 2. Ministerie.

Magistrates are nursing Fathers and nursing Mothers to the Church.

Ministers are Watchmen by their place and standing.

Now for Shepheards to become wolves, for Watchmen to become smiter [...], what a piti­full thing is it, but thus it is, the Church hath beene alwayes persecuted with these men, under pretence of Religion, which is the sharp­est persecution of all in the Church; it is a grie­vous thing to suffer of an enemy, but worse of a country man, worse then that of a friend, and worst of all of the Church. Notwithstanding (by the way) wee must know, that the persecu­ted cause is not alway the best (as Austine was forced to speake in his time against the Dona­tists) Sara [...] was a tipe of the true,The perse [...]uted side is not all­wayes the best. and Hagar of the false Church. Now Sara [...] she corrected Hagar, therefore it followes not, that the suf­fering cause is allway the better, therefore wee must judge of things in these kind of pas­sages by the cause, and not by the outward car­riage of things.

They tooke away my vaile.

What shall wee doe in such cases,Quest. if wee suffer any indignity, if the vaile bee taken off. That is if our shame, infirmities, and weakenesses, be laid open by false imputations.

In this case,Answ. it is the innocency of the D [...]ve, [Page 302] that is to be laboured for, and withall the wis­dome of the Serpent. If Innocencie will not serve, labour for wisdome, as indeed it will not alone; the wicked would then labour for sub­tilty to disgrace righteous persons.

But what if that will not serve neither.object. Christ was wisdome it selfe, yet hee suffered most,Answ. when Innocencie and wisdome will not doe it (because we must be conformable to our head) then wee must labour for patience, knowing that one haire of our heads shall not fall to the ground without the providence of the Almigh­ty.

Commend our case, as Christ did, by faith and prayer to God that judgeth.

I charge you, oh Daughters of Hierusalem, if you see my Beloved, that you tell him, that I am sicke of Love &c.

Heere the Church, after her ill usage of the Watchmen, is forced to the society of other Christians, not so well acquainted with Christ as her selfe: I charge yee O Daughters of Hierusa­lem, if you find my Beloved &c. Tell him &c. What shall they tell him.

Tell him I am sicke of Love.

The Church is restles in her desire and pur­suit after Christ, till shee find him, no oppositi­on you see can take of her indeavour.

  • 1. Christ seemes t [...] leave her inwardly. 1
  • 2. Then shee goeth to the Watchmen, they smite 2 and wound her.
  • 3. Then she hath recourse to the Daughters of 3

[Page 303] Hierusalem for h [...]lpe.

Generally before we come to the particulars, from the connexion, wee may observe this.

That,Observ. Love is a fire kindled from Heaven.

Nothing in the world will quench this Grace,Can. 8. 7. no opposition, nay opposition rather whets and kindles endeavour.

The Church was nothing discouraged by the ill usage of the Watch [...]en, How sarre wee may bee sensible of injuries. onely shee com­plaines she is not insensible. A Christian may without sinne be sensible of indignities, onely it must bee the mourning of Doves, Isa. 3 8. and not the roaring of Beares. It must not bee murmuring and impatiencie, but a humble complaining to God, that hee may take our caSe to heart, as the Church doth heere: But as sensible as shee was, shee was not a whit discouraged, but seekes after Christ still in other meanes, if shee find him not in one, shee will try in an o­ther: wee see heare the nature of love, if it bee in any measure perfect, it casteth out all feare of discouragements.

And indeed,The Nature of true Grace. It is the nature of true Grace to grow up with difficulties, as the Arke rose higher with the waters, so likewise the [...]oule growes higher and higher, it mounts up as discourage­ments and oppositions grow: Nay the soule takes vigour and strength from discourage­ments, as the wind increaseth the flame. So the Grace of God, the more the winds and waves of affliction oppose it, with so much the more violence, it breakes through all oppo­sitions, [Page 304] untill it attaine the desired hope.

To apply it,A signe of cold­nesse in Reli­gion. Those therefore that are soone discouraged, that pull in their homes presently, it is a signe they are very cold, and have but little grace, for where there is any strength of holy affection, they will not be discouraged, nor their zeale be quenched, and damped. Therefore they subordinate Religion to their own ends, as your temporarie believers. Where is any love to Christ, the love of Christ is of a violent nature, it swaies in the heart, as the Apostle speakes,2. Cor. 5. 2 [...]. The love of Christ constraineth us.

If wee finde this inconquerable resolution in our selves,Vse of incou­ragement and tryall. notwithstanding all discourage­ments, to goe on in a good cause, let us acknow­ledge that fire to bee from Heaven, let us not loose such an argument of the state of Grace, as suffering of afflictions with ioy. The more wee suffer, the more wee should rejoyce, if the cause be good, as the Apostles Act. 5. 4 1. rejoy­ced that they were accounted worthy to suffer any thing.

I charge you, Oh Daughters of Hierusalem, if you find my Beloved, that ye tell him I am sicke of Love.

Shee goes to the Daughters of Hierusalem for helpe, whence wee may learne.

That,Obser. If wee find not comfort in one meanes, wee must have recourse to another.

If wee finde not Christ present in one, seeke him in another, and perhaps wee shall finde [Page 305] him where wee least thought of him: some­times there is more comfort in the society of poore Christians, then of the Watchmen themselves.

I charge you, O Daughters of Hierusalem, &c.

1 Where we have, 1. A Charge given.

2 2. The parties Charged, the Daughters of Hie­rusalem.

3 3. The particular thing they are Charged with, that is, (if they find Christ) to tell him she is sicke of Love.

The parties Charged,The prop [...]rtion betweene Hie­rusalem and the Church. are the Daughters of Hierusalem, the Daughters of the Church, which is called Hierusalem, from some resem­blances betweene Hierusalem, and the Church; some few shall bee touched, to give light to the point.

1 Hierusalem was a City compact in it selfe, (as the Psalmist saith) so is the Church,Psal. 1 22. 3. the body of Christ.

2 Hierusalem was chosen from all places of the world, to bee the seate of God, so the Church is the seate of Christ, hee dwells there in the hearts of his children.

3 It is said of Hierusalem, they went up to Hie­rusalem, and downe to Egypt, and other places: So the Church is from above,Gal. 4 26. The way of wis­dome is on high. Pro. 1. 5. 24. Religion is upward, Grace, Glory, and Comfort come from above, and draw our minds up to have our conversation, and our desires above.

4 Hierusalem was the joy of the whole Earth▪ [...] [Page 306] so the Church of God, what were the world without it, but a company of incarnate Divells.

In Hierusalem Records were kept of the names 5 of all the cittizens there; Psal. 48. 3. so all the true citizens of the Church, their names are written in the booke of life in Heaven.Heb. 12. 23.

The Daughters of Hierusalem therefore are the true members of the Church that are both bred and fed in the Church.1 Pet. 1. 20. Let us take a tryall of our selves, whether wee bee Daughters of Hierusalem or noe.1 Pet. 2, 2. That wee may make this tryall of our selves.

1. If we find freedome in our conscience from ter­rors and feares. Observ. If wee find spirituall libertyHow to know that wee are Daughters of Hierusalem. Gal. 4 26. and freedome to serve God, it is a signe that wee are Daughters of Hierusalem, because Hie­rusalem was free.

2. Or if wee mind things above, and things of the Church, if wee take to heart the cause of the truth, it is a signe wee are true Daughters of Hierusalem. Psal. 137. 5. 6. Wee know what the Psalmist [...]aith, Let my right hand forget her cunning, if I forget thee O Hierusalem, if I doe not preferre Hierusalem before my chiefe joy. If the cause of the Church goe to our hearts, if we can joy in the Churches joy, and mourne in the Churches abasement and suffering, it is a signe wee are true Daugh­ters of Hierusalem and lively members of the body of Christ. Otherwise, when wee heare that the Church goes downe, and that the ad­verse part prevailes, and we joy, it is a signe wee are daughters of Bobylon and not of Hi [...]rusalem.

[Page 307]Therefore lot us aske our affections what we are, as Austine writes excellently in his booke de Civitate Dei, aske thy heart of what citty thou art.

But what [...]aith the Church to the Daughters of Hierusalem in the first place.

I Charge you.

It is a kinde of admiration supplied thus, I charge you as you love mee your sister, as you love Christ, as you tender my case, that am thus used, as you will make it good that you are Daughters of Hierusalem and not of Babylon, tell my Beloved, that I am sicke of Love. It is a strong charge, a defective speech, which yeelds us this observation.

That true Affections are serious in the things of God and of Religion.Observ

Shee layes a waight upon them, I charge you O Daughters of Hierusalem. True impressions have strong expressions.A signe of un­beliefe and coldnesse. Therefore are wee cold in matters of Religion in our discourses, it is because wee want these inward impressi­ons. The Church heere was full, shee could not containe her selfe, in regard of the large­nesse of her affections. I charge you O Daugh­ters of Hierusalem. &c.

Wee may find the truth of Grace in the heart, by the discoveries and expressions in the conversation in generall.

I charge you, O Daughters of Hierusalem, if you find my Beloved▪ that ye tell h [...]m, I am sicke of Love.

The Church heere speakes to others, meaner [Page 308] then her selfe, shee would have the Church tell Christ, (by Prayer, the surest intelligencer) how shee was used, how she languished, and was sicke for him, and cannot bee without him.

Why did not the Church tell Christ her selfe.Quest.

Soe shee did as well as shee could,Answ. but shee desired the helpe of the Church this way also. Sometimes it is so with the Children of God that they cannot pray so well as they should, and as they would doe, because the waters of the soule are so troubled, that they can doe nothing but utter groanes and sighes, especially in a state of desertion, as Hezekiah could but chatter, and Moses could not utter a word at the red sea though hee did strive in his spirit, in such cases they must bee behoulding to the helpe of others.

Sometimes a man is in body sicke, (as Iames saith) If any man bee sicke let him send for the Elders, and let them pray: Iam. 5. 14. There may bee such distemper of bodie and soule, that wee are un­fit to lay open our estate to our owne content. [...]t is oft soe with the best of Gods Children, not that God doth not respect those broken sighes and desires, but they give not content to the soule.Mar. 2. 2, 3. The poore palsie man in the Gof­pell not able to goe himselfe was carried on the shoulders of others, and let thorough the house to Christ: oft times wee may bee in such a palsie estate, that wee cannot bring our selves to Christ, but we must be content to bee [Page 309] borne to him by others.

I charge you O Daughters of Hierusalem that yee tell my Beloved, I am sicke of Love.

Whence the point, that Idesie you would observe is.

That at such times as wee find not our spirits in­larged from any cause outward and inward to com­fort and joy,Observ. then is a time to d [...]sire the prayers and helpe of others.

It is good to have a stocke going every where, and those thrive the best, that have most prayers made for them, have a stocke going in every country, this is the happines of the Saints. To inforce this instruction, to desire the prayers of others, we must discover, that there is a wondrous force in the prayers of Christians one for another. It is more then a complement, would it were thought so.

The great Apostle Paul, se how he desires the Romanes, that they would strive, and contend with God after a holy violence, by their joynt prayers for him,Rom. 15. 20. so hee desires the Thessalonians, that they would pray for him,2. Thes. 3, 2. That hee might be delivered from unreasonable men. It is usuall with him to say Pray, Pray, and for us too, for such are gratious in the Court of Heaven. Despise none in this case, a true downe right experienced Christians prayers are of much esteeme with God.Mat. 26. Our blessed Saviour himselfe, when hee was to goe into the garden, though his poore Disciples were sleepie, and very untoward, yet hee would have their society, and prayers.

[Page 310]I charge you O Daughters of Hierusalem, if you find my Beloved, that ye tell him, I am sicke of [...]ove.

To speake a little of the matter of the charge, I am sicke of Love, I love him, because I have found former comfort, strength and sweetnesse from him, that I cannot bee without him. To bee Love sicke then in the pre [...]ence of the Church,Love sicke what. is to have strong affections to Christ, from which comes wondrous disquietnesse of spirit in his absence, heere is somewhat good, and somewhat ill. This is first her vertue, that shee did fervently love, this was her infirmity, that shee was so much distempered with her present want, these two breedes this sicknesse of love, whence wee observe.

Where the thing loved is not present answer­able to the d [...]sires of the soule that loves, There followes disquiet and distemper of affections: that is heere term [...]ned sicknes of Love.

The Reason heereof is, Naturall contentment is in union with the thing Loved. The more ex­cellent the thing is that is loved, the more con­tentment there is in communion with it, and where it is in any degree or measure hindred there is disquiet: answerable to the content­ment in injoying, is the griefe, sorrow, and sick­nesse in parting. The happinesse of the Church consisting in society with Christ, therefore it is her misery and sicknesse, to be deprived of him, not to enjoy him whom her soule so dearely loveth. There are few in the world, [Page 311] sicke of this disease, I would there were more sicke of the love of Christ; there are many that surfit rather of fullnesse, who thinke wee have too much of this Manna, of this preaching, of this Gospell, there is too much of this know­ledge, of the ordinances, these are not sicke of love.

Make a Use therefore of Tryall,Vse. whether we bee in the state of the Church or no, by valuing and prizing the presence of Christ in his Ordinan­ces, the Word and Sacraments.

There are many fond sicknesses in the world, there is Ammons sicknesse,2. Sam 13. 2. that was sicke of love for his Sister Thamar, his countenance dis­covered it, and Ahab hee is sicke in desiring his Neighbours vineyard,1. King. 12. 4. you have many strange sicknesses: many sicke with fires kindled from the flesh, from Hell, but few sicke of this sick­nesse heere spoken of.

1 If wee find our selves carried to Christ, to runne in that streame as strong as the affections of those that are distempered with sicknesse of the love of other things, it will discover to us whether wee bee truely Love sicke or not.

2 Take a man that is sicke for any earthly thing, whether of Ahabs or Amons sicknesse, or of any thing, take it as you will, That which the soule is sicke of in love, it thinkes of daily: it dreames of it in the night. What doe our soules therefore thinke off? what doe our me­ditations runne after. When wee are in our advised and best thoughts, what do [...] wee most [Page 312] thinke off? if of Christ, of the state of the Church heere, of Grace and Glory all is well, what makes us in the midst of all worldly dis­contentments to thinke all dung and drosse in comparison of Christ, but this sicknesse of love to Christ, if our love bee in such a degree, as it makes us sick of it, it makes us not to heare what wee heare, not to see, what wee see, not to regard what is present: the soule is in a kind of extasie, it is carried so strongly and taken up with things of Heaven, it is deaded to other things, when our eyes are no more led with va­nity, then if wee had none, and the flesh is so mortified, as if wee were dead men, by reason of the strength of our affections that runne another way to better things which are a­bove.

Thus wee see it is in love: Talke with a man 3 that is in any heate of affections, you talke with one that is not at home, you talke with one ab­sent, The soule is more where is loves, then where it dwells. Surely where love is in any strength, it drawes up the soule, so that a man oft times in his calling and ordinarie imployments doth not heed them, but passeth thorough the world as a man at randome, he regards not the things of the world▪ for Christ is gotten into his heart and drawes all the affections to himselfe. Where the affection of love is strong, it cares not what it suffers for the party loved, nay it glories in it. As it is said of the [...], when they were whipped,Act. 5. 41. and scourged for preach­ing [Page 313] the Gospell, it was a matter of Glory to them. It is not labour, but favour: it is not labour and vexation, but favour that is taken where love is to the party loved, where the love of Christ is (which was heere in the Church) labour is no labour, suffering is no suffering, trouble is no trouble.

4 Againe, It is the property of the party that is sicke of this disease to take little contentment in [...] ­ther things. Tell a covetous worldling that is in love with the world a discourse of learn­ing, what cares hee for learning; tell him of a good bargaine, of a matter of gaine, and hee will hearken to that. So it is with the soule that hath felt the love of Christ shed abroad in the heart, tell him of the world, (especially if he want that which hee desires, the peace and strength that hee found from Christ in for­mer times) hee relisheth not your discourse.

Labour wee therefore every day more and more to have larger and larger affections to Christ. The soule that loves Christ, the nearer to Christ the more joyfull it is, when he thinkes of those mutuall embracings when Christ and his soule shall meete together there: this happinesse is there▪ where the soule enjoyes the thing loved, but that is not heere, but in Heaven Therefore in the meane time with joy hee thankfully frequents the places where Christ is present in the Word and Sacrament, and that we may come to have this affection.

Let us see what our soules are without him [Page 313] meere dungeons of darkenesse and confusion, nothing comming from us that is good, this will breed love to the Ordinances, and then we shall rellish Christ, both in the Word and Sacra­ment, for he is food for thehungry soule, and requires nothing of us but good appetites; and this will make us desire his love and presence.

The end of the twelfth Sermon.

THE THIRTEENTH SERMON.Ser. XIII.

CANT. V. VIII. IX.

I charge you O daughters of Ieru­salem if yee find my Beloved that ye tell him I am sicke of love.

What is thy Beloved more then another Beloved O thou fairest a­mong woemen, &c.

THe soule as it is of an immor­tall substance, so in the right and true temper thereof, aspireth towards immorta­lity, unlesse when it is clou­ded and overprest with that which presseth downewards,Heb. 12. 1.and the s [...]n which hang [...]th so fast on (as the Apostle [Page 316] speakes) which is the reason of those many and divers to [...]si [...]gs and turmoylings of the inlight­ned soule, now up now downe, now running amaine homewards and now againe sluggish, idle and lasie, untill rowsed up by extraordinary meanes it puts on againe;Simile. as the fire mounteth upwards unto its proper place, and as the needle still trembleth till it stand at the North, so the soule once inflamed with an heavenly fire, and acquainted with her first originall, cannot be at rest untill it find it selfe in that comfortable way which certainely leads homewards.

An instance whereof we have in the Church heere, who having lost her sweet communion with Christ, and so paid dearly for her former neglect and slighting his kind invitations, (as being troubled, restlesse in mind, beaten and wounded by the watch-men, bereft of her vaile, &c.) Yet this heavenly fire of the blessed spirit, this water of life so restlesly springing in her, makes her sicknesse of love and ardent desire after Christ to be such, that she cannot containe her selfe,John. 4. but breakes forth in this passionate charge and request,

I charge you O daughters of Ierusalem if ye find my Beloved that ye tell him, I am sicke of love.

Thus we may see that the way to Heaven is full of changes, the strength of corruption over­clouds many times and damps our joyes. How many severall tempers hath the Church beene in? Sometimes she is all compounded of joy vehemently desiring kisses of her best beloved, [Page 317] she holds her beloved fast and will not let him goe, and sometimes againe she is gone, hath lost her beloved, is in a sea of troubles, seekes and cannot find him, becomes sluggish, negligent, overtaken with selfelove, after which when she hath smarted for her omissions (as here againe) she is all a fire after Christ (as we say) no ground will hold her, away she flies after him, and is restlesse untill she finde him, where by the way we see, That permanency and stability is for the life to to come; here our portion is to expect changes, storms and tempests, therefore they must not be strange to particuler persons, since it is the por­tion of the whole Church, which thus by suffe­rings and conformity to the head must enter into glory,2 Cor. 4. 17. whiles God makes his power perfect in our weakenesse,2 Cor. 12. 9. overcomes Satan by unlikely meanes and so gets himselfe the glory, even out of our greatest infirmities, temptations and abasements.

But God though he make all things worke for good unto his children, even the Divell,Rom. 8. 28. sinne and death, desertions, afflictions and all, yet wee must be warned hereby not to tempt God, by neglecting the meanes appointed for our comfortable passage: but open to Christ when he knockes, imbrace him joyfully in his ordinances, and let our hearts flie open unto him. For though (through his Mercy) our wounds be cured; yet who would be wounded to try such dangerous experiments, as here befell the Church in her desertions, for her sluggish [Page 316] [...] [Page 317] [...] [Page 318] negligence, deadnesse and selfe-love.

So that we see there is nothing gotten by favouring our selvesin carnall liberty, security, or by yeelding to the flesh. The Church stood upon tearmes with Christ when he would have come in to her, but what ensued hereupon? she fell into a grievous des [...]rtion, and not onely so but findes very hard usage abroad, all which shee might have prevented by watchfulnesse, carefulnesse and opening to Christ knocking. It is a spirituall error to which we are all prone, to thinke that much is gained by favouring our selves, but we shall finde it otherwise: see here [...]gaine that God will beare with nothing though in his owne, but he will sharpely punish them even for omissions, and that not only with defertion, but sometimes they shall meete with oppositions in the world.

David cannot scape with a proud thought in numbring of the people,1 Sam. 1. but he must smart for it and his people also. God is wonderous care­full of his Children to correct them,Amos 3. 2. when he lets strangers alone. It is a signe of love when he is at this cost with us. And it should tie us to be carefull of our behaviour, not to presume upon Gods indulgence, for the neerer we are to him the more carefull he is over us, he will be sa [...] ­ctified in all that come neere him, Levit. 10 3. we see the Corin­thians because they came unreverently to the Lords table, (though otherwise they were holy men) some of them are sicke, 1 Cor. 11. some weake, others sleep, that they might not be condemn [...]d with the world.

[Page 319]Let none therefore thinke the profession of Religion to imply an immunity, but rather a straighter bond; for, I [...]dgement begins as the house of God, whatsoever he suffers abroad he will not suffer disorders in his owne house, as the Prophet saies,Amos. 3. 2. You onely have I knowne of all the families of the earth, therefore you shall not goe unpunished. The Church is neere him, his spouse whom he loveth, and therefore he will correct her, not induring any abatement, or decay of the first love in her. And for this very cause hee threatneth the Church of Ephesus, Rev. 2. to remove her candlesticke.

To proceed, the poore Church here is not discouraged, but discovers and empties her selfe to the daughters of Ierusalem, as it is the nature of Culinary fire not onely to mount upwards, but also to bewray it selfe by light and heat,Simile. so of this heavenly fire when it is once kindled from above, not onely to aspire in its motion but to discover it selfe in affecting others with its qua­lities, it could not containe it selfe here in the Church but that she must goe to the daught [...]rs of Ierusalem, I charge you O daughters of [...], if yee finde my Beloved that yee tell him that I am sicke of love. Therefore they may doubt that they have not this heavenly fire kindled in them, that expresse it not seriously, for of all affections it will not be concealed.Psal. 119. David wonders at his owne love, Oh how I love thy law, oh how aimeable are thy Tabernacles?

Againe we see here,A love sicke soule stands not upon tearmes. that where the [...] [Page 320] of love, it stands not upon any tearmes, but it hum­bleth and abaseth it selfe. We say that affection stands not with Majesty, therefore Christs love to us mooved him to abase himselfe in taking our nature that he might be one with us, love stood not upon tearmes of greatnesse, we see the Church goes to those that were meaner pro­ficients in religion then her selfe, to powre out her spirit to them,1 Thes. 2. 3. 1 Cor. 13. to the daughters of Ierusalem, She abaseth her selfe to any service, love endu­reth all things, anything to att [...]ine to the thing loved,Gen 34. 24. as we see Hamor the sonne of Shichem he would indure painefull circumcision for the love he bore to Dinah. Act. 6. So Acts. 5. 4 I. it is said they went away rejoycing after they were whipped, because they loved Christ. The spirit of love made them rejoyce when they were most disgracefully used.

Sometimes where this affection of heavenly love is prevalent,That this sicknesse of divine love works also upon the body Psal. 3 [...]3. so that a man is sicke of it, the distempers thereof redounds to the body and reflects upon that, as we see in David, Psal. 32. 4. That his moysture became as the drought of summer, because there is a marriage and a simpa­thy betweene the soule and the body, wherein the excessive affections of the one redound and reflect upon the other.

Tell him that I am sicke of love, here is a sicknes but not unto death but unto life, a sicknesse that never ends but in comfort & satisfaction,Math 5. 6. blessed are those that hunger and thirst after Christ, they shall be satisfied, as we shall see afterwards more at large.

[Page 321]Knowledge gives not the denomination, for we may know [...]ll and be good, and we m [...]y know good and be evill, but it is the affection of the soule which cleaves to the things known,It is not our knowledge that makes [...] good or evill, but goodness [...] love [...] and cleaved to [...]akes us to be so. the truth of our love is that gives the denomination of a state to be good or ill, love is the weight and wing of the soule, which carries it where it goes, which if it carry usto earth we are base and earthly, if to heaven, heavenly, we should have especiall care how we fixe this affection; for thereafter as it is, even so is our conditiō, Aske thy love of what City thou art whether of Ierusalem or of Babylon, (as Au­stin saith) Now the daughters of Jerusalem reply unto the Church wondering at her earnestnesse.

What is thy Beloved more then another Belov [...]d, O tho [...] fairest among woe [...]en, what is thy Beloved more then another Beloved that thou do [...]t so charge us:

In steed of giving satisfaction to her they re­ply with asking new Q [...]estions, What is thy Be­loved more then ano [...]her Beloved, O thou fairest among woemen? what is thy Beloved, &c. Where­in ye have a doubling of the Question, to shew the feriousnesse of it, of this their answer there are two parts.

1. A loving and sweet Compellation, O thou f [...]rest among woemen.

2. The Question doubled, what [...]s thy Beloved morethen another Beloved. And againe, What is thy Beloved, &c. that thou dost so charge us, as if they should say, Thou layest a serious charge upon [...]s, therefore there is some great matter surely in thy Beloved that th [...]u makest such inquiry after him. [Page 322] Thus the weaker Christians being stirred up by the example of the stronger, they make this Question and are thus inquisitive, but to speake of them in their order.

O thou fairest among woemen, here is the Com­pellation, the Church is the fairest among woe­men in the judgement of Christ, so he calls her, Cant. 1. 8. O [...] fairest among woemen, and here the fellow members of the Church tearm [...] her so too, faire and the fa [...]rest, incomparably fair [...].

But how com [...]th [...]hee to be thus faire?Quest. Answ.

1 It is i [...] reg [...]d that shee i [...] cloath [...] with [...] robes, Rev. 12. there is a woeman mentioned clothed with the Sunne,The Church is faire in regard she is clothe [...] with C [...]rist. we were all ennobled with the image of God at the first, but after we had sinned we were bereft of that image, there­fore now all our beauty must be clothing, which is not naturall to man but artificiall, fetched from other things, our beauty now is borrowed, it is not connaturall with us, the beauty of the Church now comes from the head of the Church Christ, she shines in the beames of her husband: not onely in Justification, but in San­ctification also.

2 The Church [...] lovely and faire againe, as from Christs imputative righteausnesse, so from his [...] in her, the graces she hath [...] him: for of him,2. In regard of the graces she [...]at [...] from C [...]rist she shines. wee receive Grace for Grace, there is never a grace but it is beautifull and faire: for what is grace but the beames of Christ the Sonne of Righteousnesse, so that all must be faire tha [...] [...] from the [...], [Page 323] all beautifull that comes from the first beauty.

This beauty of grace whereby it makes the Church so faire springs from these grounds.

First, In that it is from a divine principle and 1 originall, it is not basely bred but from Heaven, and therefore it raiseth the soule above nature and makes the subjects wherein it is as farre surpasse all other men as men doe beasts.

Secondly, In regard of the continuance, it is 2 everlasting and makes us continue for ever. All flesh is grasse,Isay. 40. 6.and as the flower of grasse (saith the Prophet,) and it is repeated in the New Te [...]ta­ment in divers places. All worldly excellencie is as the flower of grasse:1 Pet. 1. 24. the grasse with [...]eth and the flower fade [...], but the word of the Lord, (that is the grace that is imprinted in the soule by the Spirit with the word) that abideth for ever, and makes us abide likewise.

From this fairenesse of the Church let us take occasion to contemplate of the excellency of Christ that puts this [...] of beauty upon the Church.Vse. Moses married a woeman that was not beautifull, but could not alter the comple­ction and condition of his spouse. But Christ doth, he takes us wallowing in our bloud, de­formed and defiled, he is such a husband as can put his Church into his owne dispos [...]tion and tran [...]forme her into his owne proportion.That C [...]rist is the most excel­lent husband. He is such a Head as can quick [...]n his members, such a roote as instills life into all his branches; such a foundation as makes us living stones, there is a ver [...]ue and power in this husband above [...].

[Page 324]But shee is blacke?

She is so indeed and she confesseth her selfe to be so,Object. Cant. 1. 5. I am blacke but comely,Answ. 1 blacke in regard of the afflictions and persecu­tions of others shee meets with in this world.In what regard the Church calls her selfe blacke.

Blacke againe, In regard of Scandalls, for the Divell hates the Church more then all societies 2 in the world, therefore in the society of the Church there are often more scandalls then in other people, as the Apostle tells the C [...]rinthians, there was incest amongst them the like was not among the heathen.1 Cor. [...].

3 She is blacke through the envie of the world that lookes more at the Churches faults then vertues.How the Chur­ches state in this life comes to be s [...] full of scanda [...]s.

The Church is blacke and unlovely nothing diff [...]ring from others, In regard of Gods out­ward dealing. All falls alike to all, they are 4 sicke and deformed,Eccles. 9. 2. they have all things out­wardly whatsoever is common with others.

5 Lastly and principally she is blacke, In re­spect of her Infirmities and weakenesses, subject to weakenesse and passions as other men, the beau­ty of the Church is inward and undiscerned to the carnall eye altogether: the Scribes and Pharisees see no vertue in Christ himselfe. It is said, that he came among his owne, and his owne could not d [...]scerne of him: John. 1. 1. 1. the darkenesse could not comprehend that light. Now as it was with Christ, so it is much more with the Church, let this then be the use of it.Vse. 1.

Oppose this state of the Church to the false judge­ment of the world:Oppose Iudgement to Iudge­ment. they see all blacke and nothing [Page 325] else that is good; Christ sees that which is black too: but then his spirit in them (together with the [...]ight of their blacknesse) seeth their beauty too. I am blacke but comely, &c. Be not discou­raged therefore at the censure of the world, blind men cannot judge of colours. It is said of Christ,Isa. 53. hee had no forme or beauty in him, when wee shall see him. I. Not in outward glory, [...]Por in the view of the world. If we be therefore thought to be blacke, wee are no otherwise thought of then the Church and Christ hath beene before us.

Againe,Vse. 3. Let us make this Use of it, against Sathan in the time of temptation, To remember Christs judge­ment of the Church when we are under temptation. doth Christ thinke us faire for the good we have, doth he not altogether valew us by our ill [...] and shall we beleeve Sathan, who joynes with the distem­pers of melancholly, or weakenesse wee are in, which he useth as a weapon against the soule, to make us thinke otherwise, Sathan is not onely a [...]ourtherer, but a ly [...]r from the beginning. We must not beleeve an enemy, and a lyer withall. But consider how Christ and the Church jud­geth, that have better discerning. And let us beware wee be not sathans to our selves: For if there were no Divell, yet in the time of temp­tation and desertion we are subject to discou­ragement, to give false witnesse against our selves, we are apt to looke on the darkeside of the Cloud.Exod. 14. 20. The Cloud that went before the Israelites had a double aspect, one darke, the other light;Simile. In temptation wee looke on the [Page 326] darke side of the soule, and are witty in pleading against our selves. Oh but consider what Christ judgeth of us, O thou faires [...] among woemen, and what those about us that are learned, who can reade our evidences better then we our selves, doe judge of us, let us trust the judgement of others in time of temptation more then our owne.

Learne againe here,Vse. 3. What to judge of the spirits of such kinde of men,To see the bit­ternesse of their spirits that can or will see no go [...] in Go [...]s Children.as are all in disgracing and defacing the poore Church, their table talke is of the infirmities of Christians, they light upon them as flies doe upon sore places, and will see nothing that is good in them,Simile. O where is the spirit of Christ, or of the Church of Christ in them that thus bescratch the face of the Church [...] when yet (oft times) their hearts tell them these poore despised ones will be better then themselves one day, for grace shall have the upper hand of all excellencies.

The Church is fa [...]re and fairest, That all other excellencies save grace are but painted ex­c [...]llencies. Grace is a transcendent good, all the excellency of civi­lity and morallity is nothing to this, this deno­minates the Church the fairest, shee is not guilt, but pure gold, not painted, but hath at [...]ue na­turall complection, all other excellencies are but guilt, painted excellencies. The whore of Babylon shee is wonderous faire. But wherein doth her beauty consist [...] In ornaments and ceremonies to abuse silly people, that goe no further then fancy, it is an excellency that comes not to the judgement, but the excellencie [Page 327] of the Church is otherwise, she is The fairest among woemen, she hath a naturall fairenesse, as gold is pure gold, so the Church is of a pure composition, glorious within. It is for the [...]alse whorish Church to be glorious without only, but the true Church is glorious within. But that which wee should especially observe is,Observ. That wee should labour to answer this commendation, not onely to be faire but the fairest, to be trans­cendently singularly good, to doe somewhat more then others can, to have somewhat more in us then others have.

For it is answerable to the state of a Christi­an,That this strife for eminency in Grace is su­table to a Chri­stians calling. is a Christian in an excellent ranke above other men [...] l [...]t him shew it by a carriage more gracious, more fruitfull and plentifull in good workes. There is a kinde of excellency af­fected in other things, much more should we de [...]i [...]e to be excellent in that is good, that we may not be faire onely but the fa [...]rest. This the Apostle S. Paul excellently presseth to Titus his s [...]holler, Tit. 2. 14. and to all of us in other places, that we should be, A peculiar people Zea­lous of good workes: not onely to doe them, but to be zealous of them, and to goe before others in them, standing as stander bearers.That it is a [...]in­f [...]ll [...]uggish feare to [...]eare t [...] be religious. Therefore those that thinke they may goe too farre in Re­ligion, that they may be too fruitfull, are not worthy the name of the spouse of Christ, for she is faire, yea the fairest among woemen: The righteous is more excellen [...] then his [...], therefore we should excell in good workes (as [Page 328] the Apostle exhorts us) to labour after things that are excellent, 1 Cor. 12. 31. as if he should say, Is there any thing better then other, [...]. Pet. 1. 8. labour for that. You have some so farre from this disposition, that they cry downe the excellencies of others, least the fairenesse of others might discover their blackenesse. Thus we leave the Compella­t [...]on and come to the Question.

What is thy Beloved more then another Beloved?Quest. and they double it, what is thy Beloved more then another Beloved that thou so chargest us?

Questions are of divers natures, we shall not stand upon them, this is not a Question meerely of ignorance (for they had some knowledge of Christ, though weake) Nor was it a curious nor a catching Question, like those of the Scribes and Pharisees unto Christ, to instance in that of Pilate,Joh. 18. 38.What is truth? when Christ had told him the truth, What is truth, (saith he) in a scornfull prophane manner, as indeed prophane spirits cannot heare savoury words, but they turne them off with scorne, what is truth [...]. This here in the text is not such, but a Question tending to further resolution and satisfaction, What is thy Beloved more then another Beloved?

First of all observe, that these of the Church here were stirred up by the examples of other members of the Church to be in quisitive after Christ, so to be satisfied, Hence observe, That there is a wondrous force in the examples of Christians to stir up one another. Observ. We see here when the Church was sicke of love, the other part of [Page 329] the members began to thinke, what is the reason the Church is so earnest to seeke after Christ, there is some excellency sure in him; for, wise men doe not use great motions in little mat­ters, great things are carried with great moovings; we use not to stirre up tragedies for trifles, to make mountaines of molehills, the indeavours and carriages of great persons that be wise, judicious and holy are answerable to the nature of things. And indeed the Church judgeth aright in this, then see the force of good ex­ample, any man that hath his wits about him, when he sees others serious, earnest and carefull about a thing whereof for the present he can see no reason (especially if they have parts equall, or superior to himselfe) will reason thus presently.

What is the matter that such a one is so earnest,A reasoning up­ [...]on others ear­nestnesse. so carefull, watchfull laborious inquisitive? It is not for want of wit, surely hee hath parts enough, hee understands himselfe well. And then he begins to thinke, sure I am too cold, hereupon comes competition, and corrivalitie: surely I will bee as good as hee.

Let us labour therefore to be exemplary to others,Vse. and to expresse the graces of God;To be exemplary for good to others. for thus we shall doe more then we are aware, there is a secret influence in good example, though a man say nothing (saith one) there is a way to profit from a good man though he hold his peace, his course of life speakes lowd enough, we owe this to all, even to them that are with­out [Page 330] to doe them so much good as to give them a good example,A deb [...] to [...] that are with­out. and we wrong them when we doe not, and hinder their comming on by an evill, or a dead example.

Let this be one motive to stirre us up to it,That answe­rable to the good we shall doe to others, shall b [...] our com [...]ort i [...] life and death. that answerable to the good we shall doe in this kind, shall be our comfort in l [...]fe and death, and our reward after death. For the more spreading our good is either in word, life, or conversation, the more our consciences shall be setled in the considera­tion of good life well spent, our reward shall be answerable to our communication and diffu­sion of good, and whereas otherwise it will lie heavy on the conscience, not onely in this life, but at the day of judgement and after; when wee shall thinke not onely of the per­sonall ill that we stand guilty of, but exemplarie ill also.

It should moove those therefore of inferiour sort to looke to all good examples, That wee shal [...] not only answe [...] for our know­ledge, but also for all the good examples and helps we have bad and neg­lected. as the Church here to the love of the other part of the Church. Wherefore are examples among us, but that we should follow them [...] we shall not onely be answerable for abuse of knowledge, but also of good examples we have had and neglected. Doth God kindle lights for us and shall not we walke by their light [...] It is a sinne not to consider the Sunn [...], the Moone, the Starrs, the Heav [...]ns, and Works of Nature and Providence; much more not to consider the Worke [...] of Grace. But one place of Scripture shall close up all: which is, Rom. 11. 11. That the example of us Gentiles [Page 331] at length shall stirre up and provoke the Jewes to beleeve. To those stiffe necked Jewes ex­ample shall be so forcible, that it shall prevaile with them to beleeve and to be converted. If example be of such force as to convert the Jewes that are so farre off, how much more is it or should it be to convert Christians,Simile. wondrous is the force of good example. So we come to the Question it selfe.

What is thy Beloved more then another Belo­ved, &c.

We see there is excellent use of holy con­ference, the Church comming to the daughters of Ierusalem, speaking of Christ her Beloved that she is sicke of love, &c. The daughters of Ierusa­lem are inquisitive to know Christ more and more, heere is the benefit of holy conference and good speeches, one thing drawes on ano­ther, and that drawes on another, till at length the soule be warmed and kindled with the con­sideration and meditation of heavenly things. That that is little in the beginning may bring forth great matters.That in de [...]ling and speaking of Heavenly things, a little thing is the be­ginning of great matters. This Question to the Church, and talking with her: I charge you if you finde my Beloved to tell him that I am sicke of love, breeds Q [...]estions in others: What is thy Bel [...]ved, &c. Whence upon the description of her Beloved, her heart is kindled, she findeth her Beloved, so that talking of holy and hea­venly things is good for others and our selves also.That holy con­ference is good for others and our selves. It is good for others, as it was good for the daughters of Ierusalem here, for therupon they are [Page 332] stirred up to be inquisitive after Christ, and it was good for the Church her selfe, for, here­upon she tooke occasion to make a large com­mendation of Christ; wherein she found much comfort.

2 Good conference then is good for our selves, for, we see a little seed brings for that length a great tree, a little fire kindleth much fuell, and great things many times rise out of small despised beginnings. It was a little occasion which Na­aman the Assyrian had to effect his conversion.2 King 5. There was a poore banished woeman, a stranger, who was a Jewish maid servant, she tould her Lords servants that there was a Prophet in Jurie that could heale him: whereupon he came thither, and was converted and healed. And Paul sheweth,Philip. 1. that the very report of his bonds did a great deale of good in Caesars house. Report and fame is a little matter, but little matters make way for the greater.

This may put us in mind to spend our time fruit­fully in good conference, Exhortation to fruitfull confe­rence. when in discretion it is sea­sonable: we know not when we beginne, where we may make an end [...]; our soules may be car­ried up to Heaven before we are aware; for the Spirit will inlarge it selfe from one thing to another.Math. 23. To him that hath shall be given more and more still. God gratiously seconds good be­ginnings. We see the poore Disciples, when they were in a dampe for the losse of Christ, after he comes, meets them, and talks of holy things,Luk. 24. 32. In that very conference their hearts were [Page 333] warmed and kindled. For, next to Heaven it selfe our meeting together here, it is a kinde of Para­dice, the greatest pleasure in the world is to meet with those here, whom we shall ever live with in Heaven. Those who are good should not spend such opportuni [...]ies fruitlesly.

And to this end, labour for the graces of the Communion of Sain [...]s: That graces suiting the communion of Saintes is a great helpe to conference. for there is such a state, we beleeve it as an Article of our Creed, how shall we approove our selves to be such as have interest unto the communion of Saints, unles we have spirits able to communicate good to others? pittifull and loving spirits that we may speake a word in due season.

What a world of precious time is spent in idle conversing, as if the time were a burthen, and no improovement to be made of the good parts of others? sometimes though we know that which we aske of others, as well as they doe; yet notwithstanding good speeches will draw us to know it better, by giving occasion to speake more of it, wherewith the Spirit works more effectually and imprints it deeper. So that it shall be a more rooted knowledge then be­fore. For that doth good that is graciously knowne, and that is graciously knowne that the Spirit seales upon our soules. Perhaps the knowledge I have is not yet sealed sufficiently, it is not rooted by conference, though I heare the same things againe, yet I may heare them in a fresh manner, and so I may have it sealed deeper then before, experience finds these things to be true.

[Page 334]Againe, Wee should labour heere to have our hearts inquisitive. That Christians should be inqui­sitive. The Heathen man accoun­ted it a grace in his Scholler and a signe that hee would proove hopefull, because hee was full of Questions: Christians should be in­quisitive of the waies of Righteousnesse; Inqui­fitive of the right path which leads to Hea­ven, how to carry themselves in private in their families, how in all estates, Inqui­sitive of the excellency of Christ: What is thy Beloved more then another Beloved? Que­stions end usually in resolutions; for the soule will not rest but in satisfaction. Rest is the happinesse of the soule as it were: when a Question is mooved it will not be quiet till it have satisfaction. Therefore doubting at the first, breeds resolution at the last. It is good therefore to raise Questions of the practise of all necessary points, and to im­proove the good parts and guifts of others that wee converse with, to give satisfaction. What an excellent improovement is this of communion and Company, when nothing troubles our spirit, but wee may have satis­faction from others upon our proposing it. Perhaps God hath laide up in the parts of others satisfaction to our soules, and hath so determined that wee shall be perplexed and vexed with scruples, till wee have recourse to some whom hee hath appointed to bee helpefull to us in this kinde. Many goe mourning a great part of their daies in a kind [Page 335] of fullennesse this way, because that they doe not open their estate to others. You see here the contrary practise of the Church, she doubles the Question; What is thy Beloved more then another Beloved, O thou fairest among woemen, what is thy Beloved more then another Beloved, that thou dost so charge us?

The end of the thirteenth Sermon.

THE FOVRTEENTH SERMON.SER. XIV.

CANT. V.IX.X.

What is thy Beloved more then another Beloved, O thou fairest a­mong woemen, what is thy Beloved more then another Beloved that thou dost so charge us?

My Beloved is white and ruddie the chiefest among ten thousand.

THE last time we met we left the Church sicke of love: which strange affection in her, together with her pas­sionate charge to the daugh­ters of Ierusalem, mooved them to make this Questi­on unto her, What is thy Beloved more then another [Page 338] Beloved, &c. To be in love is much: to con­ceale it is grievous, to vent it with such ferven­cie and passion breeds astonishment, in these younger Christians, who wonder what that is which can so draw away the Churches love, and runne away with her affections. They knew no such excellencies of the person the Church so admired, and therefore they double the Question unto her, What is thy Beloved, &c. what is thy Beloved, &c. Whereby we see the excellency of the soule which aspires still towards perfection, not resting in any state inferiour to the most excellent. Therefore also is the Churches sicknesse of love here, who desires a neerer union and communion with Christ then she at this time had.

For there are degrees of spirittuall langui­shing, till we be in heaven we are alway under some degree of this sicknesse of love; though the soule have more communion at one time then at another. Yea the Angells are under this wish to see Christ together with his Church in full perfection, so that untill we be in Heaven where shall be a perfect reunion of soule and body, and of all the members of the Church together; there is a kinde of sicknesse attending upon the Church and a languishing.

The Question asked is,

What is thy Beloved more then anothers Beloved, O thou fairest among woemen?

What! now faire when her vaile was taken away? now faire when the Watchmen abased [Page 339] her: now faire when she was disgraced? Yes, now faire and now faire, in the sight of the daughters of Ierusalem, and in the sight of Christ that calls her the fairest among woemen: So that under all disgraces, infirmities and scandalls, under all the shame that riseth in the soule upon sinne, under all these clouds there is an excel­lency of the Church, she is, The fairest among woemen, notwithstanding all these: O thou fairest among woemen. Quest.

Whence comes this fairenesse under such seeming foulenesse and disgrace?Answ.

It comes from without, it is borrowed beauty as you have it, Ezek. 16. 1. 2. By nature we lie in our bloud, there must be a beauty put upon us, we are faire with the beauty that we have out of Christs wardrope. The Church shines in the beames of Christs Righteousnesse,That Grace only makes us lovely to Christ. Psal. 45. she is not borne thus faire, but new borne fairer. The Church of Christ is all glorious,Collos. 3. but it is with­in, not seene of the world, she hath a life, but it is a hidden life, our glory and our life is hidden in Christ: It is hid sometimes from the Church it selfe, who sees onely her deformity and not her beauty, her death but not her life: because, her life is hid: here is a misterie of Religion, The Church is never more faire then when she jud­geth herselfe to be most deformed;That the Church is never more faire in Christs eye, then when she sees & com­plaines most of her deformities. 2 Cor. 12.Never more hap­pie then when she judgeth herselfe to be miserable: never more strong then when shee feeles her selfe to be weake, never more righteous then when she feeles herselfe to be most burthened with the guilt of her [Page 340] owne sinnes, because the sence of one contrary forceth to another,That the sense of [...] contrary forceth another. 2 Cor. 12. 10. the sence of ill forceth us to the fountaine of good, to have supply thence: When I am weake then am I strong (saith Paul) Grace and strength is perfect in weakenesse.

This should teach us what to judge of the Church and people of God,Vse. even under their seeming disgraces,What to judge of the Church and Gods peo­ple under see­ming disgraces. yet to judge of them as the excellentest people in the world, Psalm. 16. All my delight is in those that are excellent: to joyne our selves to them: especially this is here to be understood of the Church as it is the mysti­call body of Christ, not as a mixed body, as a visible Church,Heb. 12. 22. but as it is the Temple of the Holy Ghost.

The visible Church hath tearmes of excellen­cy put upon it sometimes, but it is in regard of the better part.Simile. As gold unrefined is called gold because gold is the better part: And a heape of wheate unwinnowed is called wheate, though there be much chaffe in it, the body of Christ it selfe hath alwaies excellent tearmes given it, O thou fairest among woemen.

Those that looke upon the Church with the spectacles of malice can see no such beauty in her,That the cause why wicked men see not this beauty is be­cause they looke on Gods t [...]rough the spectacles of malice. though to espy out faults, as the Divell could in Iob, Iob. 1. to quarrell, to slander, they are quicksighted enough, but we see here the Church in the judgement of the daughters of Ierusalem, that she is the fairest among woemen.

The Papists have a painted beauty, for their Catholique Church, but here is no such beauty [Page 341] It becomes a whore to be painted, to be as faire as her hands can make her, with feighned beau­ty. But the Church of Christ hath a beauty from her husband, a reall spirituall beauty not descerned of the world.

This should be of use to Gods children themselves,Vse. to helpe them in the upbraidings of conscience (as if they had no goodnesse in them) because they have a great deale of ill. That Christians in the upbrai­dings of consci­ence should looke upon the good as on the ill in them. Christians should have a double eye, one to set and fixe upon that which is ill in them, to humble them, and another upon that which is supernaturally gracious in them, to incourage themselves, they should looke upon themselves as Christ lookes upon them, and judge of themselves as he judgeth of them, by the better part. He lookes not so much what ill we have, for, that shall be wrought out by little and little, and be abo­lished, it is condemned already, and it shall be ex­ecuted by little and little till it be wholy abolished. but he lookes upon us in regard of the better part,That we should looke upon our selves as Christ looks upon us. so should wee looke upon our selves, though otherwhiles upon our blacke feete (our infirmities) when we are tempted to pride and haughtinesse, but alwaies let the meane thoughts we conceive of our selves, make us to flie to Christ.

What is thy Beloved more then another Beloved?

Here is a Question, and a Question answered with a Question: Questions they breed know­ledge (as the Greeke Proverbe is) doubtings breed resolution. Whereupon the inquisitive [Page 342] soule (usually) prooves the most learned, judi­cious and wise soule, therefore that great Phi­losopher counted it as a vertue amongst his schollers, that they would be inquisitive. So the schollers of Righteousnesse are inquisitive, they inquire the way to Canaan, Ier. 50. and the way to Zion with their faces thitherwards.

It is aspeciall part of Christians wisdome to improove the excellency of others by Questi­ons,That is a speci­all point of wis­dome to improue the gifts of other by questions. to have a bucket to draw out of the deepe wells of others (as Salomon saith) the heart of a wise man is as deepe waters, but a man of under­standing can tell how to fetch those waters out: There be many men of deepe and excellent parts which are lost in the world, because men know not how to improove them. Therefore it is good while we have men excellent in any kind, to make use of them. It is an honour to God as well as a commoditie to our selves. Doth God suffer lights to shine in the world that we should take no notice of them, It is a wrong to our selves and a dishonour to God.

What is thy Beloved more then another Belo­ved, &c.

A further▪ point from hence is, Observ. That if wee would give incouragement to others to repaire to us for any good, we should labour to be so excellent as to adorne Religion.

O thou fairest among woemen, what is thy Be­loved, &c. They enquire of her because they have a good conceit of her: a world of good might be done if there were bred a good conceit [Page 343] of men in others; we say in sicknesse, a good conceipt of the Physition is halfe the cure: so in teaching, a good conceipt of the teacher is halfe the learning: The daughters of Ierusalem had a good conceipt here in their Questioning of the Church: O thou fairest among woemen, what is thy Beloved more then another Beloved?

Let us labour therefore to be such as may bring honour and credit to Religion,That our indea­vours must bee to make Reli­gion lovely. and make it lovely, that what we doe may make others thinke we doe what we doe to great purpose: which is oft times a speciall meanes and occa­sion of their conversion. Though properly the cause of conversion be the Spirit of God in the ordinances: yet the inducement (many times) and occasion, is the observation of the course and carriage of those that excell and are knowne to be eminent in parts and in graces, Emulation ads spurrs to to the soule. Doe they take such courses that are wiser then I, and shall not I take the like course too? Paul saith,Rom. 11. 11. the emulation of the Gentiles shall be a meanes of the conversion of the Iewes, when they shall see them imbrace Christ, they will be incouraged to doe so also: what shall we thinke therefore of them that live so as that they bring an evill report, scandall and reproach upon Religion? Great and fearfull is their wickednesse, that by their ill conversation like Hophny and Phineas discredit the ordinances of the Lord.1 Sam. 2. 17.

Now the Church thus answers the former Question touching Christ, My Beloved is white [Page 342] [...] [Page 343] [...] [Page 344] and ruddie, the chiefest of ten thousand. She is not affraid to set out her Beloveds beauty. For, there is no envie in Spirituall things: That there is no rivalty in Spi­rituall things where is abu [...] ­dance for all of love. It is want of wisdome amongst men to commend a thing that is very lovely to others, and so to set an edge upon their affections, when they cannot both share; and the more one hath, the lesse another hath of all things here below. But in Spirittuall things there is no envie at the sharing of others in that we love our selves: because all may be loved alike, Christ hath grace and affection enough for all his: he hath not (as Esaw speakes) but one blessing: No, he can make all his happy. Therefore the Church stands not upon tearmes, when the daughters of Ierusalem enquire about her Beloved, I tell you freely saies she what my Beloved is: First in generall the answer is, My Beloved is white and ruddie, the chiefest among ten thousand, then afterwards there is a specification of the particulars, she will not stand upon the gro [...]se, but admires at every parcell in the thing beloved, every thing is lovely as wee shall see in particular afterwards.

My Beloved is white and ruddie, the chiefest among ten thousand.

We will take that which is safe; because we will have sure footing (as neere as we can) in this misticall portion of Scripture,Quest. what is that white and ruddie, why doth the Church set forth the Spirituall excellencies of Christ by that which is most outwardly excellent and most beau­tifull.

[Page 345]Because of all complections the mixed com­plection of these two colours white and ruddie is the purest and the best,Answ. therefore she sets out the beauty and the Spirituall excellency of Christ by this white and ruddie, beauty ariseth of the mixture of these two. First she sets out the beauty of Christ positively, and then by way of comparison, The chiefest among ten thou­sand.

But what is this white and ruddie: What beauty is and wherein it con [...]isteth. what is beauty?

To the making up of beauty there is required 1 a sound healthy constitution,Proportion and [...]eature. so as the par­ticulars have a due proportion, there must be a harmony of the parts, one suiting with another, for comelinesse stands in onenesse, when many things (as it were) are one. Vncomlinesse is in diversity, when divers things are jumbled to­gether, that belong to many heads; as we say it is uncomely to have an old mans head on a young mans shoulders, but when all things are so suited that they make one agreeing ex­actly there is beauty and comelinesse.

Besides soundnesse of constitution and come­linesse 2 of proportion,In the grace of colour. there is a grace of colour that maketh beauty, which ariseth out of the other, so that soundnesse and goodnesse of constitu­tion together with the exact proportion of the variety of parts, having with it this gracefulnesse of colour and complection makes up that which we call beauty. In a word, then this carnation colour, wh [...]te and ruddie, may be understood of that excellent [Page 346] and sweete mixture that makes such a graceful­nesse in Christ,The strange and admirable mixture in Christ. in him there is wonderfull purity and holinesse, and yet a wonderfull weak­nesse, there is God the great God and a peece of earth, of flesh in one person, a bloudy pearced, and a glorious shining body, humility and glory: Justice, wonderfull justice and yet exceeding love and mercie: Justice to his enemies, Mercie to his Children.

Christ is a most beautifull Person.Observ.

Not as God onely but as man,In what regard Christ was most beautifull. the Mediator God and man, the Person of the Mediator is a beautifull Person; as Psal. 45. there is a notable description of Christ, and of his Church, Thou art fairer then the Children of men, grace is powred into thy lips, &c.

But the lovelinesse and beauty of Christ is es­pecially Spirituall, That the love­lines and beau­ty of Christ must be spiritually considered. in regard of the graces of his Spirit. A deformed person, man or woman, of a homely complection and constitution, yet notwithstanding when we discerne them by their conversation to be very wise and of a lovely and sweet spirit, very able and withall wondrous willing to impart their abilities, being wondrous usefull: what a world of love doth it breed, though we see in their outward man nothing lovely. The consideration of what sufficiency is in Christ, wisdome, power, goodnesse and love, that made him come from Heaven to Earth, to take our nature upon him, to marrie us and joyne our nature to his (that he might joyne us to him in spirituall bonds) [Page 347] the consideration of his meekenesse and g [...]ntlenesse how he never turned any backe againe that came to him,Mat. 1 [...]. 22. should make us highly prize him, indeed some went backe of themselves (as the young man in discontent) Christ turned them not backe: nay he loved the appearance of goodnesse in the young man and imbraced him. Hee is of so sweet a nature that he never up­braided those that followed him with their former sinnes; as Peter with deniall, and the like. He is of so gracious a nature that he tooke not notice of petty infirmities in his Disciples, but tells them of the danger of those sinnes that might hurt them: being of so sweet a nature that he will not quench the smoaking flax,Isa. 4 [...].nor breake the brused reed, his whole life being no­thing but a doing of good, He did all things well (as the Gospell speakes) excellent well.

Now the consideration of what a gracious Spirit is in Christ, must needs be a loadstone of love, and make him beautifull. Therefore Bernard saith well, When I thinke of Christ, I thinke at once of God, full of Majesty and Glory, and at the same time of Man full of meeknesse, gentlenesse and sweetnesse. So, let us consider of Christ as of the Mighty God, powerfull, and withall con­sider of him as a gentle and mild man; that came riding meekely on an Asse (as the Scrip­ture sets him out) He was for all commers and gave entertainement to all:Mat, [...]1. Come unto me all yee that are weary and heavy laden, Mat. 11. 2 [...]. &c. For the most weake and miserable person of all had the [Page 348] sweetest entertainment of him,Luk. 16. 10. He came to seeke, and to save that which was lost. Let us I say thinke of him both as of the great God, and withall as of meeke Man: the one to establish our soules, that he is able to doe great matters; the other to draw us to him because he loves us. We are affraid to goe to God a consuming fire, Heb. 12. but now let us thinke we goe to bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, to our brother, to one that out of his goodnesse abased himselfe of purpose that we might be one with him, who loved us more then his owne life, and was contented to carry the curse for us that we might be blessed of God for ever, and to suffer a most painefull and shamefull death that so hee might make us heires of everlasting life.

Christ is Spiritually lovely, the chiefest of ten thousand. The Church sets him out by com­parison, a standardbearer, a carrier of the banner of ten thousand. Simile. For, as the goodliest men use to carry the Ensigne, the Banner, so he the good­liest of all other is the standard bearer.

Whence we gather, Observ. That Christ as he is beautifull and good,Psal 45. 7. so he is incomparably beyond all comparison good,In regard of the personall union with the God head in our nature Christ is the cheefe of all. In regard all our [...]ulnes comes from Christ he is the chie [...]e of all He is a standard bearer one among ten thousand, annoynted with the Oyle of gladnesse above his fellowes.

First, for that he is so neere to God by the personall union.

And in regard likewise, That all others have all from him: of his fulnesse we receive grace for [Page 349] grace, ours is but a derivative fulnesse, his glory and shining is as the shining of the body of the Sunne,Simile. ours as the light of the Aire, which is derived from the glory of the Sunne, ours is but the fulnesse of the streame, and of the vessell, but the fulnesse of the fountaine and of the spring is his: thereupon he is called the head of the Church; Col. 1. 18. the head is the tower of the body which hath all the five senses in it, and wisdome for the whole body. It seeth, heareth, understandeth, and doth all for the body; having influence into the other parts of it. So Christ is above all, and hath influence into all his Church, not onely eminencie, but influence.

What is excellent in the Heavens?That Christ is s [...]t [...]orth by all earthly excel­lencies. the Sunne: So Christ is the Sunne of Righteousnesse: the Starrs, He is the bright morning Starr, the Light:M [...]l. 42.He is the Light of the world. Come to all creatures, you have not any excellent amongst them but Christ is stiled from it. He is, the Lyon of the tribe of Iuda, the Lilly and the Rose, and the Lambe of God that taketh away the sinnes of the world, the Tree of life, &c. There is not a thing necessary to nature, but you have a stile from it given to Christ, to shew, that he is as necessary as Bread and Water, Jo [...] 6. and the food of life.Ioh. 4. When we see Light therefore; thinke of the true Light: when the Sunne, thinke of the Sunne of Righteousnesse: so remember the bread and water of life in our common food, therefore the Sacraments were ordained, that as we goe to [Page 350] the sea by the conduct of rivers, so we might goe to the sea of all excellency and goodnesse by the conduct of these rivers of goodnes to be led by every excellency in the creature,Simile. to that of our mediatour Christ, who is the chiefest among ten thousand.

To come more particularly to speake of his excellencies,That Christ on­ly was King, Priest & Prophet. omitting his two Natures in one Person God and Man; that we may consider his Offices, a King, Priest and Prophet: he being the chiefe in all these, so all good Kings before him were tipes of him, as also the Prophets and Priests, he was all in one. Never any before him was King, Priest and Prophet, as hee was King, Priest and Prophet in one, so in every re­spect he was incomparable above all. Such a 1 King, as is King of Kings, and subdueth things unconquerable to all other Kings,A King. even the greatest enemies of all, such a King as con­quered the World, Death, Hell and Sinne, all things that are terrible: Death you know is called the king of feares, because it terrifieth even Kings themselves. Christ is such a King as takes away these terrible greatest ills of all, such a King as rules over the soule and con­science, (the best part of man) where he set­tles and stablisheth peace, such a King as sets up his Kingdome in our very soules and hearts, guides our thoughts, desires, actions and affecti­ons, setting up a peaceable government there, so hee is an incomparable King even in regard of that Office; He is the chiefest of ten thousand, [Page 351] such a King as carries the government upon his owne shoulders, as it is Isa. 9. [...]. He devolves not the care to another to make it as he list and so be a cypher himselfe, but hee carries all upon his owne shoulder, hee needs not a Pope for his vicar.

Againe, as a Priest A Priest. such a High Priest as of­fered 2 himselfe a sacrifice by his eternall Spirit: he as God offered up his Man-hood, such a Priest as hath satisfied the wrath of God, and reconciled God to man. All other Priests were but types of this Priest, who is such a Priest as never dies, but lives for ever to make intercession for us in Heaven, by vertue of that sacrifice which he offered in the daies of his flesh: He was both Priest and Sacrifice. Such a Priest as is touched with our infirmities, so mild and gentle, full of pitty and mercy. No Priest to this Priest, God onely smelt a sweet smell from this sa­crifice.

And for his Propheticall Office, A Prophet. hee is a Pro­phet 3 beyond all others, such a one as can instruct the soule, other men can propound doctrines, but hee can open the understanding and hath the key of the heart,Luk. 24. the key of David which can open the soule: by his holy Spirit h [...]e can make the very simple full of knowledge,Pro. 1. such a Prophet as hath his chaire in the very heart of man, this great Bishop of our soules,1 Pet. 2. 25. [...]the Angell of the covenant, that [...], the messenger of the Fa­ther: so he is the chiefe of ten thousand: consider him as King, as Priest or as Prophet.

[Page 352]The use of this is exceeding pregnant, com­fortable and large,Vse. that we have such a Saviour such an eminent person, so neere so puculiar to us. Our Beloved, my Beloved, If he were a Beloved the chiefe of ten thousand, it were no great matter, but he is mine, he is thus excellent: excellent considered with propriety in it, and a peculiar propriety, peculiarity and propriety to­gether with transcendent excellency makes happy if there be any enjoying of it. Happines what. Therefore repent not your selves of your repentings, but thinke I have not cast away my love, but have set it upon such an object as deserves it, for my Beloved is the chiefest of ten thousand.

The end of the fourteenth Sermon.

THE FIFTEENTH SERMON.SER. XV.

CANT. V. X.‘My Beloved is white and ruddie the chiefest among ten thousand.’

LOve is such a boundlesse af­fection that where it once breakes foorth in praises upon a good foundation, it knowes no measure, as we see here in the Church, who being provoked, and (as it were) exasperated by the daughters of Ierusalem to explaine the excellency of him shee had with so much affection incessantly sought after. That she might justifie her choice [Page 352] [...] [Page 353] [...] [Page 354] (ere she descend into Particulars) she breakes foorth into this generall description of her Beloved, whereby she cuts of from all hopes of equalling him, My Beloved is white and ruddie, (exceeding faire) nay, the cheefe among ten thousand, (none like him) she would not have us thinke she had bestowed her love but on the most excellent of all, the cheefe of ten thousand. Well were it for us that we could doe so in our love, that we might be able to justifie our choice, not to spend it on sinfull, vaine and un­profitable things, which cause repentance and mourning in the conclusion, whereof the Church here worthily cleereth herselfe; in that she had chosen the cheefe among ten thousand.

And most justly did she place her affections upon so excellent an object, who was so full of all the treasures of wisdome and knowledge,Colos. 1. 11.the life of our life, in whom dwelt all the fulnesse of the God­head bodily, in whom was a gracious mixture and compound of all heavenly graces, where Greatnesse and Goodnesse, Iustice and Mercy, God and Man meete in one Person. Such in one who breakes no bru [...]sed reed,Mat. 12.nor quenches the smoaking flax, who refuses not sinners, but invites them unto him: offering to heale all and cure all who come unto him: he is a King indeed; but this also approoves her choice;Ioh. 5. he rules all, commands all, judges all, what then can she want who hath such a friend, such a husband, whose government is so winning, mild and mercifull?

[Page 355]He is not such a Monarch as loves to get au­thority by sternesse like Rehoboam. But by those aimeable graces of gentlenesse and love, all the excellencies of holinesse, purity and righteous­nesse, are sweetly tempered with love and meekenesse in him:Luk. 7. 44. you may see for instance how hee takes his Disciples part against the Pharisees, That Christ takes part with the a [...]flicted side. (and the poore womans that came to wash his feet and kissed them,) against the Pharisee that had invited him to dinner. The Church is a company of despised people, that are scorned of Pharisaicall proud spirits, who perhaps have morallity and strength of parts to praise them with. Now Christ takes part with the broken spirits against all proud spirits, howsoever he be gone to Heaven (where he is full of Majesty) yet he hath not forgotten his meekenesse nor changed his nature with change of honour. He is now more honoured then he was, for, he hath a Name above all Names,Acts 9.in Heaven or in Earth, yet he is pittifull still. Saul Saul why persecutest thou mee? He makes the Churches case his owne still, together with beames of glory there are bowells of pitty in him, the same that he had here upon earth. Which makes him so lovely to the truly bro­ken hearted beleeving soule, My Beloved is white and ruddy.

He is set out likewise by comparing him with all others whatsoever, hee is the cheefe of ten thousand, a certaine number for an uncertaine, that is, the chiefe among all, in all [Page 356] things Christ hath the preheminence: hee is the first borne from the dead, hee is the first borne of every creature, he is the eldest brother, he is the cheefe among all. For all Kings, Priests and Prophets before were but types and shaddowes of him: Hee the body, the truth and the sub­stance. And (as was shewed before) he is all three in one, King, Priest and Prophet, the great Doctor and Prophet of his Church, that spake by all the former Prophets, and speakes by his ministers to the end of the world. The Angell of the covenant, that [...] the word, that expresseth his Fathers brest, that as he came from the bo­some of his Father so laies open his counsell to man-kind.1 Pet 3. 19. It was he that spake by Noah, and preached by his Spirit to the soules that are now in prison, (as Peter speakes) so, he is the cheefe among all. But especially in regard of his Righteousnesse;Phil. 3. 8. for which Paul accounted all dung and drosse to be found in Christ, not having his owne Righteousnesse, but the Righteousnesse that is in Christ: which is more then the Righteous­nesse of an Angell, being the Righteousnesse of God-Man, and above all the Righteousnesse of the law.Quest.

But what is this to us or to the Church? Answ. yes, for his beauty and excellency is the Churches,That peculiari­tie of interest [...] with the excellencie of Christ is that which so [...] the Church. because hee is the Churches. My Beloved is white and ruddie, and my Beloved is the chiefe among ten thousand. It is the peculiar interest that the Church hath in Christ that doth relish her spi­rit, excellencie with propriety in him: I am my [Page 357] Beloveds and my Beloved is mine. The more ex­cellent the husband is, the more excellent is the wife, shee onely shines in his beames, there­fore it is the interest that wee have in Christ that indeares Christ to us. But to come to more particular application of it. Is Christ thus ex­cellent, superexcellent, thus transcendently excellent, white and ruddie, the cheife of ten thou­sand this serves,

To draw those that are not yet in Christ unto 1 him.

To comfort those that are in Christ.2

First,Vse. 1. those that are not yet in Christ, not con­tracted to him to draw them;That superemi­nent excellen­cies in Christ ought to draw those to him who are not yet drawne to him. what can prevaile more then that which is in Christ? Beauty and excellencies, greatnesse and goodnesse. And indeed one maine end of our calling the minist­ery is, to lay open and unfold the unsearchable riches of Christ, to digg up the mine, thereby to draw the affections of those that belong to God to Christ.

But it is not enough to know that there are excellencies in Christ to draw us to him,That with a sight of Christs excellencie, wee must see our owne debt, beg­gery and misery to draw us unto Christ. but, there must be a sight of our misery, what beggers we are and how indebted. Before we are in Christ we are not our owne, the Divell layes claime to us that we are his, death laies claime to us, we are under sinne, we cannot satisfie one of a thousand, therefore this inforceth to make out to joyne with him that can discharge all our debts, answer all our suits, and non-suite Sathan in the Court of Heaven. When once we are [Page 358] married to the Lord of Heaven and Earth all is ours,1 Cor. 3. 2 [...]. we have a large Charter, All things are yours,Quest.and you are Christs and Christs is Gods

Why are all things ours?Answ.

Because wee are married to Christ who is Lord of all.That seeing the en [...] of our mi­sery is to woe us to come unto Christ, wee should not be d [...]scouraged to come unto him. It is the end of our calling to sue for a marriage betweene Christ and every soule, wee are the friends of the Bride, to bring the Church to him, and the friends of the Church to bring Christ to them: It is the end of our ministry to bring the soule and Christ together, and let no debts, no sinnes hinder, for especially he invites such as are sensible of their sinnes,Rom. 3. 20. where sinne abounds, grace abounds much more.Mat 11. 28.Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden. Luk. 19. 20. And, hee came to seeke and to save that which was lost. He requires no more, but that we bee sensible of our debts and miseries, which sence hee workes likewise by his holy Spirit.

Againe,For those in the state of grace to see what an excellent person they have enter­tained. for those that have entertained Christ, let them see what an excellent gracious Person they have entertained, who is the cheefe of ten thousand. The world thinks them a com­pany of silly meane people that make choice of Christ, Religion, the Word, and such things, but here is a justification of their choice, they choose him that is the cheefe of ten thousand, Let him kisse me with the kisses of his mouth (saith the Spouse,Cant▪ 1.) for thy love is better then wine, nay then life it selfe: Luk 10. 41. A Christian may justifie the choice that he hath made with Mary of the good part; [Page 359] against all those that shall disparage his choice. Let the world account Christians what they will; that they are a company of deluded be­sotted persons, fooles and madmen. The Christian is the onely wise man: Wisdome is seene in choice especially; and here is the choice of that which is excellent and most excellent of all, the cheefe of ten thousand.

So also,Vse. 3. Wee may see here the desperate and base f [...]lly of all whatsoever (save true Christians) what doe they make choice of to joyne to,The desperate miserable choice of most men. that which is base, the co [...]demned world, vaine transitory things, and refuse Christ [...]? Are they in their right wits who refuse a Husband that is noble for birth,Simile. rich for estate, mighty for power, abundant in kindnesse and love it selfe, every way excellent? and take a base, ignoble, beggerly person? this is the choice of the world.Psal. 81. God complaines Israell would none of mee, &c. What shall we judge therefore of those that will none of Christ when he woes and sues them, but prefer with Esaw a messe of portage before their eternall birthright, with Adam an apple before Paradice, and with Iudas thirty peeces of silver before Christ him­selfe, this is the state of many men. To be mar­ried to Christ is to take him for an husband,What it is to be married to Christ.to be ruled by him in all things. Now when we pre­fer base commodities and contentments before peace of conscience and the enjoying of his love; what is it, but for pelfe and commoditie, thirty peeces of silver (perhaps for six pence [Page 360] a thing of nothing) to refuse Christ, yet this is the condition of base worldlings that live by sense and not by faith. So then as it serves to comfort those that have made a true choice, so it serves to shew the madnesse and folly of all others, which one day will feele their hearts full of horrour and confusion, and their faces of shame, when they shall thinke, what hath Christ made such sute to my heart to winne my love? hath he ordained a ministery for to bring me in? made such large promises, is he so excellent? and was this discovered to me and yet would I none of him? what did I choose, and what did I leave? I left Christ with all his riches, and made choise of the pleasures and profits of sinne,Heb. 11.which are but for a season. When the conscience is once thoroughly awaked this will torment it, the punishment of losse, not of losse simply, as the losse of Christ and the losse of Heaven,That the grea­test losse of all is Christ disco­vered in his ex­cellencie. but, the losse of Christ and of Heaven so d [...]scovered and opened: therefore there is no condition in the world so terrible as of those that live in the Church, and he are those things of Christ cru­cified unfolded to them before their eyes, as Paul speakes of the ministery,Gal. 3. it makes Christs crosse so open to them as if he had beene cru­cified before their eyes, yet notwithstanding yeeld to their base hearts desires and affections before these excellencies, which if they had a spirit of faith would draw their hearts to him.

Therfore let us consider how we heare those things,To take heed how we [...]eare. it concernes us neerely: on the one side [Page 361] we see what we get if we joyne with Christ, we have him and his: on the contrary we loose him; and not onely so, but we gaine eternall misery, and perish eternally. O what basenesse of mind possesseth us, Christ left all things in love to us, and we leave Christ for any paultry thing in the world, almost to please and content the humours of sinnefull men, to attaine a few empty titles, to get a little wealth, injoy a little pleasure. You see then the equity of that terrible commination that you have, 1 Cor. 16. If any man love not the Lord Iesus Christ let him be Anathema maranatha. Let him be ac­cursed for ever that loves not the Lord Jesus Christ, if any man sinne there is a re­medy to discharge his sinne in Jesus Christ, if he will marry him and take him: but when Christ is offered and we will have none of him, we sinne against the Gospell; and then there is no remedy, there is nothing but Anathema, and maranatha; therefore the most dangerous sinnes of all, are those against the light of the Gospell: when yet we choose rather to live as we list, then to joyne our selves to Christ. To this purpose Heb. 2. S. Paul makes an use of the first chapter, wherein he sets out the excellency of Christ whom the Angels adore, he is so beau­tifull, so lovely that God the Father is in love with him,Mat. 3. 17. and pronounceth this is my Beloved sonne: In the beginning of the second chapter, Wherefore (saith he) how shall we escape if wee neglect so great salvation, Heb. 2. for, If they escaped not [Page 362] that despised Moses law, &c. How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation? he saies not, if we oppose Christ: but if we neglect him, if we doe not love so great salvation, as 2 Thes. 1. 8. it is said, Christ will come in flaming fire to take vengeance of all those that doe not know God, and obey not the Gospell of Christ, though they do not per [...]ecute it.

Therefore this reprooves all civill morrall persons that thinke they have riches enough, not onely debauched persons, but selfe-suf­ficient persons, that thinke they have any Righ­teousnesse of their owne, let them know, that Christ shall come in flaming fire, to take vengence of such: This is the scope of the second Psalme, which yee know sets out the excellency of Christ,Psal. 2. I have set my King upon Zion, God the Father there annoints Christ King of the Church: To what end? That wee should kisse the Sunne, kisse him with the kisse of subjection (as subject [...]s doe their Prince:) with the kisse of love, What it is to kisse the Sunne. as the Spouse doth her Husband, and with the kisse of faith. But what if we doe not kisse him, and subject our selves to him; love him and beleeve in him? If his wrath be once kindled happy are all those that trust in him: Hee is a Lambe, but such a one as can be angry, as Rev. 6. It is said, The Kings and great persons of the world, fly from the wrath of the Lamb, he that is so sweete mild and gentle, if we joyne with him, on the contrary, if we come not unto him, we shall finde the wrath of the Lamb, a terrible wrath, [Page 363] which the greatest Potentates in the world shall desire to be hid from. If his wrath be once kind­led, blessed are all those that trust in him, and woe be to them that doe not receive him.

For us that professe our selves to be in Christ,Vse. 2. and to be joyned to him that is thus excellent,For those who are in Christ to make him the rule of our choice in other things. In friendship. let us make this use, to make him the rule of our choice in other things. In the choise of friends, choose such as are friends to Christ, take heed of society with Idolaters, or with prophane wretched persons. If you will be joyned to Christ, and professe your selves to be so, then let us joyne to none but those that we can enjoy and Christ too.In Marriage. So in marriage let the rule of choice be, the love of Christ; and likewise let the measure of our respect to all things be, the respect to Christ,In all things whatsoever love all with reference to Christ. let us measure our love to wife and chil­dren, to kindred, friends, and to all creatures whatsoever, as it may stand with love to Christ. Obey in the Lord, Marry in the Lord, doe all things in the Lord,1 Cor. 7. 39. so as may stand with the love and allowance of the Lord.

Make also,Vse. 3. a Vse of Direction, How to come to valew Christ thus:For direction. as to keepe an high esteeme of him, for this followes infallibly and undeniably: If Christ be, the cheefe of ten thousand, he must have the cheefe of our affecti­ons, above ten thousand: for, as he is in excel­lency, hee must have place in our hearts an­swerable thereunto; for, then our soules are as they should be, when they judge of, and affect things as they are in themselves.

[Page 364]First, Let us enter into a serious consideration of the need we have of Christ,Answ. 1. of our misery without him,By a deepe con­sideration of our necessity with out him. of our happinesse if we be joyned with him, the soule being thus convinced, the affections must needs follow the sanctified judgement.

What will come of it,That exa [...]ting Christ high in the heart is a strong prefer­vative against sinne. If Christ be set in the highest place in our heart, If we crowne him there, and make him King of Kings and Lord of Lords, in a hearty submitting of all the affecti­ons of the soule to him; while the soule con­tinues in that frame, it cannot be drawne to sinne, discomfort, and despaire. The honours pleasures and profits that are got by base in­gagements to the humours of men, what are these to Christ? when the soule is rightly possest of Christ and of his excellency, It dis­daines that any thing should come in competi­tion with him.

Againe, It stands firme against all discourage­ments whatsoever: for, it sets Christ against all, who is the cheefe of ten thousand. The soule in this case will set Christ against the anger and wrath of God, against Sathan and all our spi­rituall enemies. Christ is the Angell of the covenant: Sathan is a Lyon, a roaring Lyon: Christ the Lyon of the tribe of Juda: Sathan a Serpent, a Dragon: But Christ the true Brasen Serpent, the very looking upon whom will take away all the stings and fiery darts of Sathan whatsoever: wherefore it is said, I Iohn. 5. that Faith is that that overcommeth the world. [Page 365] How doth Faith overcome the world? Because it overcomes all things in the world, as on the right hand pleasures and profits and honours, and on the left hand threatnings, paines, losses and disgraces, by setting Christ against all.

Againe,We must labour to weane our hearts from o­ther things. if we would have a right judgement 2 and esteeme of Christ, Let us labour to weane our affections as much as may be from other things. Fleshly hearts that have runne so deepely into the world and vanities of this present life, It is in a sorte an extraordinary taske for them to be drawne away, and pulled from the world (as a child from a full brest) which they have suc­ked so long. Now for sweet affections that are tender, it is an excellent advantage they have to consider betimes that there is that in Religion and in the Gospell which is worth their best and prime affections, the flower and marrow of them,Tim. 3. 15. let them begin with young Timothie, Daniell and Ioseph to love Christ from their child­hood.The danger of delaying to seek Christ late in our old age. It is a desperate folly on the other hand to put off the regard of good things till after when we shall be lesse fit, when the understanding will be darkened, and the affections blunted, when we shall not have that edge, nature being decayed and the world having taken such pos­session of the soule, that we shall not value this excellencie. Therefore let us begin betimes to make up the marriage between Christ and the soule, no time indeed is too late, but it were to be wished that those that are young would be thus wise for their soules betimes.

[Page 366]Besides if wee would highly value Christ,To value Chr [...]st we must beg of God a spirit to judge aright of our corruptions.(beg of God a spirit that wee may judge aright of our corruptions,) for, In what measure we can dis­cerne the height, and bredth, and depth of our cor­rupt nature, In that measure shall we judge of the height, and bredth, and depth of the excellency of Christ. The sweetest soules are the most hum­ble soules, those that love Christ most, are those that have beene stung most with the sence of their sinnes,Rom. 5. where sinne most abounds in the sence and feeling of it, grace much more abounds in the sence and feeling of that. Did ever soule love Christ more then that woeman that had so many Divels cast out of her?Luk 7. And, Paul that had such great sinnes forgiven. Doth any man so love his creditor as he that hath much debt forgiven him? It is our Saviour Christs owne reason, therefore these two goe alwaies with the true Church.Two attendants of the true Church. 1. The true knowledge of the corruption of nature, and misery by reason of it. And 2. The true sence and feeling of it, with true and hearty sorrow for it, &c. In Popery they slight Ori­ginall sinne,Why sin is so [...]l [...]ghted in Popery. that mother breeding sinne, Actuall sinnes be veniall, and many sins no sins. And therefore they esteeme so slightly of Christ, that they joyne Saints, the Pope, Works and Satisfaction with him, because they know not the depth of the malady, how blacke sinne is, what a cursed estate we are in by nature: they have slight, shallow and weake conceipts of sinne, therefore they have answerable weake, and shallow conceipts of Christ and of his Righteousnesse [Page 377] and excellency. Therefore the conviction of our sinnes goeth before the conviction of righteousnesse in Christ, (as it is said, Ioh. 16.) The Holy Ghost shall convince the world of sinne and then of righteousnesse: for except the soule be convinced of sinne and of ill in it selfe, it will never bee truely convinced of good and of righteousnesse in Christ.

The Passeover was alwaies eaten with sowre herbes,Why the Passe­over was eaten with sowre herbes. because it should ad a rellish to the feast. So Christ the true Passeover we never rellish truely without sower herbes, the consideration of sinne with the desert of it. Christ savours otherwise to a man humbled for his sinnes, then he doth to another man not touched therewith: otherwise to a poore man then he doth to a rich: otherwise to a man that the world goes not well on his side, then to a prosperous man. One sa­voury discourse of Christ relisheth more to an af­flicted soule, the seven discourses with such as are drunk with prosperity, not having a brayne strong enough to conceive, nor an appetite to rellish heavenly things.

Therefore why doe wee murmure at the crosse,That it is our great [...]lly to murmure at the crosse which re­covers our spi­rituall taste and r [...]llish. when all is to recover our spirituall taste and rellish? Salomon had lost his taste and rellish of Christ, he never made his song of songs when he was in his Idolatrous way, nor was so in love with Christ and his excellencies when he doted so much upon his wives: no, but when he had recovered his spirits tast and rellish of heavenly things once, then made he the Booke of the [Page 368] Preacher. When he had runne through variety of things, and saw all to be nothing but vex­ation of spirit, and besides that, vanitie: then he passeth his verdict upon all things, that they were vanity. So it is with us, we can hardly prize Christ without some afflictions, some crosse or other: therfore here the Church is faine to indure a spirituall desertion, to set an edge upon her affections? Now when she is thus in her disertions, Christ is white and ruddie, the cheefe of ten thousand.

We▪ Want makes us value things the more. valew more, and set a higher prize on things in the want of them (such is our corrup­tion) then in the injoying of them. And if God remember us not with affliction, then let us afflict, humble and judge our selves: enter into our owne soules to view how we stand affected to Christ, to Heaven, and to heavenly things: how doe I rellish and esteeme them? if [...] have lost my esteeme and valuing, where have I lost it, consider in what sinne, in what pleasure, in what company J lost it; and con­verse no more with such as dull our affections to heavenly things.

4 And,To esteeme Christ highly using our in­firmities to this [...]nd loo­king upon them. Isa. 64. 6. Let us make use likewise of our infirmities and sinnes to this purpose, to set an high prize on the excellencies of Christ, we carry about us alwaies infirmities and corruptions, what use shall we make of them? not to trust to our owne righ­teousnesse, which is as a defiled cloth: But fly to Christs Righteousnesse, which is the Righteousnesse of God-man, all being as dung and drosse in regard [Page 369] of that: Often thinke with thy selfe what am I, a poore sinfull creature, but I have a Righteous­nesse in Christ that answers all, I am weake in my selfe, but Christ is strong, and I am strong in him. J am foolish in my selfe, but I am wise in him, what I want in my selfe, I have in him: he is mine, and his Righteousnesse is mine, which is the Righteousnesse of God-man, being cloathed with this I stand safe, against Conscience, Hell, wrath and whatsoever. Though I have daily experience of my sinnes, yet there is more Righteousnesse in Christ who is mine, and who is the cheefe of ten thousand, then there is sin in me. When thus we shall know Christ, then wee shall know him to purpose.

The end of the fifteenth Sermon.

THE SIXTEENTH SERMON.SER. XVI.

CANT. V. X, XI, XII, XIII.

My Beloved is white and ruddie the chiefest among ten thousand.

His head is as fine gold, his lockes are bushie and blacke as a raven.

His eyes are as the eyes of doves, by the rivers of waters, washed with milke and fitly set, &c.

HEnce likewise we may an­swersome doubts that may arise,Object. as why the death of one man (Christ) should be of value for satisfaction for the sinnes of the whole world?How one mans satisfaction shall satisfie for the sin [...] of all. how can this be? O But what kind of man was he?Answ. the cheefe [Page 372] among ten thousand, especially considering that his excellency ariseth from the grace of his Personall Union of God and Man. The first Adam tainted thousands, and would have tainted a world of men more if there had beene more, but he was meere man that did this, and shall not Christ God and Man the second Adam advance the world, and ten thousand worlds if there had beene more, hee is cheefe among ten thousand.

His head is as most fine gold, his lockes are bushie and blacke as a raven, &c.

1. Positively, Hee is white and ruddie. 2. Com­paratively, Hee is the chiefest of ten thousand.

The Church doth not thinke it sufficient in generall to set out Christ thus, but she descends into a particular description of him by all the parts of a body that are conspicuous. First in generall observe hence,Love is e­ver industious to set out the praises of the beloved. That it is the nature of love upon all occasions to reflect upon the thing loved. As the Church here, from things that are ex­cellent in the world, borrowes phrases and comparisons to set out the excellency of Christ, exalting him above any other thing. What­soever the soule of a Christian sees in Heaven or Earth, it takes occasion thence to thinke of Christ.

Againe,The divers relations God takes upon him shewes the beames of his excellency in the creatures. In generall observe from hence, seeing the Church fetcheth comparison from doves eyes, from the body of a man and other things, That there are some beames of excellency in every creature. There is somewhat of God in [Page 373] every creature, this makes the meditation of the creature to be usefull, there is none, even the meanest but it hath a beeing, and thereby in a sort sets out the beeing of God. Why doth God stile himselfe a Shield, a Rocke, a Buckler, a Shaddow, and the like. But to shew that there is something of him in these, and therefore to teach us to rise from them to him, in whom all those excellencies that are scattered in them are united.

In innocency we knew God, and in him we had knowledge of the creature, but now we are faine to helpe our selves from the knowledge of the creature to rise to the knowledge of God.

His head is as fine gold.

A little in generall,That nothing can dishearten the Church from commending Christ. see the boldnesse and largenesse of the Churches affections, who though she had beene ill intreated by the Watch-men and others, yet is she not disheartned for all this? no, she goes on and sets out particular commendations of her Beloved. Where love hath any strength, no water can quench it. You see the Church here found but cold in­tertainement from the Watch-men and others that should have beene better.

Nay,Her inward des­ertions discou­rage her not. She was in desertion, yet she was not discouraged, nay not from the desertion that Christ left her in; but she seekes after him whom her soule loved. Oh, this is the signe of a true sanctified soule toucht from Heaven, never to give over seeking of Christ, nor setting out his praises, no though it thinkes it selfe not [Page 374] beloved of Christ. Aske such ones doe you love God, his Children, and his Word? Oh you shall have them eloquent, no words are enough to set out their affections.

And this is one reason,Reason of the first loves [...]a­gernesse. which we may note by the way, why God plants in his children, at their first conversion, a sweete love, which we call, the first love, that when desertions come they may call to mind what they felt from Christ, and what they bore to him; and there­upon the Church concludes,Hos. [...]. Hose. 2. I will returne to my first love, for then was I better then now. The Church here from what doth shee commend her Beloved? but from some what that was left in her soule, some inward taste of the love of Christ in her, she called to mind how it was with her before in the former part of this, and in the latter end of the former chap­ter, what an excellent estate she had beene in, this helped her to recover her selfe.

Now you may say,Why the Church is so exact in particularising her Beloved. Why is shee so exact in reckoning up so many particulars of her Beloved, his Head, Lockes, Eyes, Lips, and such like?

1 Why,Because a large heart hath unsatisfied af­fections. It is from largenesse of affection. A large heart hath alway large expressions, when we are barren in expressions towards Christ, and of good things, whence comes this but 2 from narrow poore affections. The Church had large affections;Because Christ hath not one but many ex­cellencies in him. therefore shee had sutable expressions.

And then shee is thus particular, because Christ hath not one but many excellencies; [Page 375] every thing in him is excellent: inward and outward, as his head, &c.Beauty whering it consists. For indeed beauty consists not in sweetnesse of colour onely, but in affinity and proportion of all parts. Now there is all sweet proportion in Christ, so it should be with Christians; they should not have one excellency, but many: those that receive Grace for Grace from Christ:Ioh. 1. have not onely Head, Eyes, Hands, and Feet good; but all lovely, Grace for Grace, answerable to the variety of Graces in Jesus Christ, In whom all things joyntly, and everything severally are lovely.

Then shee sheweth her particular care and 3 study,Because she had seriously and exact [...]y studied Christ to pur­pose. to be exact in this knowledge of Christ, to rip him up and anotomize him thus from Head to foot, it argueth shee had studied Christ well ere shee could attaine this excellencie: so it should be the study and care of every Christian, to study the excellencies of Christ, not onely in the grosse, to say as much as you have in the Creed; he was borne for us of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, dead and buried, &c. which every child can say, but to be able to particularize the high perfections and ex­cellencies of Christ, as the Church here, to study his Nature, Offices, the State he was in, and how he carried himselfe in his humiliation and exaltation: what good we have by both states, Redemption by his abasement; application of it by his advancement. What he did for us on Earth, what he doth in Heaven: what in [Page 376] Iustification, Adoption, Sanctification, and in the glory to come. Study every thing and warme the heart with the meditation of them.

This particular spreading and laying open the excellencies of Christ is a thing worthy of a Christian.That al humane eloquence comes short of the ex­cellencies of Christ. Wee make slight worke of Reli­gion, we can be particular and eloquent enough in other things, but in that wherein all elo­quence is too little; how barren are we, how shamefac'd to speake of Christ and his excel­lencies in base company, as if it were a dis­honour. Let us therefore learne this from the Church here, to be much in thoughts and me­ditations of the excellencies of Christ, and so our expressions will be answerable to our medi­tations. So the holy Fathers that were godly (till another kind of Divinity came into the world of Querkes and subtilties) there was none of them but was excellent this way. Paul admi­rable, accounting all dung and drosse in com­parison of Christ. In speaking of him when he begins, he goes on from one thing to another, as if he were ravished; and knew not how nor where to end.

The soule hath sights of Christ that God shewes to it,That the soule hath peculiar sights of its owne. and which the soule presents to it selfe by the helpe of the Spirit. The sights that God in this kind shewes, are to those in affliction especially, as Daniell and Isay saw Christ in his glory in a vision, so Ezechiell had a vision and Iohn, Rev. 1. where Christ was pre­sented to him gloriously. So there is a glorious [Page 377] description of Christ present to the Church [...] Rev. 4. 5.

And as there are sights let downe from God into the soule,Sights of [...]aith which the soule frames of Christ. so there are sights that the soule frames of Christ, such as the Church here con­ceives of him by faith: Thus Moses saw him before he was incarnate,Iohn 8. and Abraham saw his day and rejoyced: so should we now have spi­rituall sights, Ideas of Christ framed to our soules, this is to bestow our soules as we should doe. So much for generall, now we come to some particulars. His Head is as fine gold, his locke [...] are bushie and blacke as a raven.

His Head is as fine gold.

He begins to set out the excellency of the cheefe part the Head. The Head of Christ is God, as it is 1 Cor. 11. 3. He is above all, and God onely is above him. All is yours, and you are Christs, and Christ is Gods,1 Cor. 3. [...]2, 23. but that is not so much intended here, as to shew Christs head-ship over the Church as God and Man, his head is as fine gold, that is, his government and head-ship is a most sweet and golden go­vernment.

Daniel. 2.That a head of gold sets [...]orth Christs go­vernment. You have an image of the Mo­narchies, the first whereof had a golden head, which was the Chaldean, the best Monarchy is set out by the best mettall gold,Simile. so Christ the head of the Church is a precious head, a head of Gold.

A Head hath an eminency above all others, an influence and motion above all other parts, [Page 378] it is the seat of the sences, so this golden head is more eminent then all, governes the whole Church and hath influence into all; in him we live,Acts. 17. and move, and have our beeing.

Why is Christ as King thus resembled to an head of gold?Quest.

Because Gold is the cheefe,Why Christ is set out by an head of gold. the most pre­cious,Answ. durable mettall of all others. Christ is a King for ever and hath an everlasting govern­ment. Gold is also the most pliable mettall, you may beate it out to leaves more then any other mettall whatsoever. Christ is all gold indeed, his love hath beate himselfe out as low as may be, all for our good. What abasement like to Christs. That which is most precious is most communicating, as the Sunne a glorious crea­ture, what doth so much good as it? so Christ as he is the most excellent of all, the cheefe of ten thousand, so is he also the most communicative, what good to the good that Christ did, he was beaten out of love to man-kind to lowest abase­ment for us, though this be not mainely aimed at here, yet (by the way) speaking of gold, we may present to our selves such comfortable meditations.

Well then is Christ such an excellent head,Vse. 1. a golden head,That there is no golden head o [...] the Church but Christ. in whom are hid all the treasures of wisedome to governe his Church, what need we then goe to that triple crowne, having such a golden head, the Apostacie of the Church hath found out another golden head, is not Christ precious enough. Let us take heed of [Page 379] leaving the head Christ, as it is Col. 2. 19. It is a damnable thing to forsake him. Let the Apo­staticall Church alone with her Antichrist.

Againe, if Christ be a golden head,We must be su­table to Christ our head. let us 2 his members labour every one to be sutable, though there be difference betweene the head and the members in many respects, especially in those three formerly named, Eminencie, government, and influence, yet for nature they are one, head and members make but one. So tha [...] as the head of the body is gold, so should every member be: therfore the seven Churches are stiled seven golden candlestickes. Every thing in the Tabernacle was gold,Simile. even to the snuffers, to shew that in the Church every thing is excellent. The Tabernacle was gold most of it, though it was covered with Badgers-skins. The Church indeed hath a poore covering as of Badgers-skins, not guilded as hypocrites, but it is precious within; Againe, Christ as he is gold, so he is fine gold, whole gold, he hath not onely the crowne on him, but his head is gold it selfe. Other Kings their crownes are of gold, but their heads are not so: but there is such a precious treasure of wisedome in him that his head is gold; so let the Church and every Christian labour, not to be guilt but gold, to be thoroughly good, to have the inside as good as the outside, the heart as good as the conversa­tion, the Church is glorious within, Psal. 45. Beloved, Is Christ an excellent golden head and shall he have a base body? Is he fit to be [Page 380] united to a golden head that is a common drun­kard, a swearer, that is a beast in his life and conversation, is this sutable?

3 Againe,To know that all our excellen­cies come from a golden head. Rev. 4. 10. Is our head so golden, and whatso­ever excellency we have is it from our head, therefore as the Church in the Revelation, let us cast all our crownes at his feete. Have we crownes of gold, any thing that is excellent within, any grace, any comfort, let us lay it downe at his feet, for all is from him. Naturall men have golden images of their owne, Israell would have golden calves, Nebuchadnezzar sets up a golden image, and all must worship it, so in the declining times of the Church, they framed golden images, that is, a golden whorish religion, guilded, and painted, framed by their owne braine, whereunto all must stoope. But the true gold is that we must respect and submit our selves unto and admire, others are but gol­den dreames and images (as Nebuchadnezzars was) Christs head alone is of fine gold:

All must be fine gold that comes from this head, his word is gold, sometimes purged in the fire:Psal. 19. 10▪ his ordinances gold, in the scripture phrase, the city, the new Jerusalem which sig­nifies the state of the Church in this world, when it shall be refined to the utmost, all is of gold, the walles of precious stones, the gates of pearle,Rev. 21. 21. and the pavement of the streetes of pure gold, to shew the excellency of reformation, which golden times are yet to come, in the meane time let us goe on and waite for them.Rev▪ 21▪

[Page 381]His lockes are bushie and blacke as a raven.

I thinke this is but complementall to fill up the other, it is nothing but a commendation of his freshnesse, a foile to beauty, therefore not particularly to be stood upon.

His eyes are as doves eyes by the rivers of wa­ters, &c.

His eyes are as doves eyes, and such eyes as are by the rivers of waters, where they are clensed and washed with milke that they may be the clearer, and fitly set, neither gogle eyes, nor sunke into the head, but fitly set, as a jewell in a ring, neither too much in, nor too much out, to set out the comelinesse of this part the eye which is the glory of the face.

Why is Christ said to have the eyes of doves?Quest.

The dove hath many enemies especially the white dove is a faire marke for the birds of prey,Answ. therefore God hath given that creature a quicke sight, that she might discerne her enemies, thus the Scripture helpes us to conceive of the quicknesse of Christs eye, Rev. 5. 6. there are seven hornes and seven eyes which are the seven spirits of God, here Christ the lambe hath seven eyes and seven hornes: what be these? Christ hath not onely hornes of power as the enemies have, hornes of violence, he hath horne against horne; but seven eyes, that is, a quicke sight to see all the danger the Church is in, and seven eyes; seven is a word of perfection, that is, he hath many eyes, an accurate sight, he hath not onely an eye of providence over the [Page 382] whole world, but an eye of grace and favour, lively, and lovely in regard of his Church. All things are naked and open before his eyes, as it is, Heb. 4. he can see through us, he knowes our very hearts and raines, which he must doe ex Officio, because he must be our judge. He that is judge of all had need to have eyes that will pierce through all. It had need be a quicke eye that must judge of the heart and affections: but what may we learne hence, That we have a Saviour that hath doves eyes, that is, cleare eyes able to discerne.

Take it as a point first,Vse. 1. of all comfort to the Church,All comfort to the Church. Ioh 22. that when we have any imputation lies upon us, that we are thus and thus, Christ hath quicke eyes he knowes our hearts, thou knowest (saith Peter) Lord that I love thee, in all false imputations rest in the eye sight of Christ, he knowes it is otherwise with us.

Then againe in all abasement know,Vse. 2. that there is an eye that sees all,It is both com­fort and terror. he sees with his eye and pitties with his heart, as he hath a quicke eye, so he hath a tender heart, though he seemes to sleepe and to winke, it is but that we may wake him with our prayers, which when we have done we shall see that Christ hath seene all this while, and that the violence the enemies of God have offered to his Church the Spouse hath beene in his sight, and that they shall know at length to their cost.

Likewise it is a point of terror to all hypo­crites and others that thinke to blindfold Christ [Page 383] againe. Can they blindfold him in Heaven that hath this sharp eye? Noe he sees all their cour­ses and projects what they are and what they tend to, and as he sees them so he will spread them all open ere long.

And as it is a point of comfort and terror,Vse. 3. So it is a point of instruction to us all,Instruction to us all. that wee having to deale with a judge that sees all, to worship Christ in spirit. If we had knowledg that such an eye of God is fixed upon us in all pla­ces, in all our affections and actions, would we give liberty to base and filthy thoughts, to cruell designes, and to trecherous aimes and intents, to hatch a hell (as it were) in our hearts, and to carry a fayre shew outwardly? it could not be▪ Men are not affraid of their thoughts, affections, desires, and inward delights of their soule; be­cause there is no eye of justice upon them; but if they did consider that the alseeing God did observe these inward evills, and would call them to account one day for them, then they would be aswell afraid to think ill as to doe ill.

His cheekes are as beds of spices, and as sweet flowers.

Cheekes are the grace of the face, they are used here to deno [...]e the presence of Christ, which is sweete as spices and flowers; not only his presence is glorious in Heaven, when we shall see that goodly person of Christ that be­came man for us, that transforming sight that shall make us like himselfe, but the spirituall presence of Christ in his ordinances which [Page 384] wee are capable of here, this is as spices and flowers.

But you will say, Object. Cheekes, face, and presence presents colours to the eye, and not smells, as spices and flowers which are the peculiar ob [...]ect of another sence?

Oh but Christ is the object of all the senses.Answ. Beloved, he is not onely beauty to the eye, but sweetnesse to the smell, and to the tast; there­fore faith hath the name of all the sences, to see, heare, tast, and smell, and doth all, because it carries us to Christ, that is in stead of all to us, but the point is,

That the manifestation of Christ to his Church and children by his Spirit in any of his ordinances,Observ.is a sweet man [...]festation, and delectable as spices and flowers. as it is, Cant 1. 3. Because of the savour of thy good ointments, thy name is as an ointment powred out, therefore the Virgins love thee. The very name of Christ when he is knowne and laid open by the ministry is a pre­cious ointment, and the Virgins, that is all chast soules follow him by the smell of his ointments, all his ordinances convay a sweetnesse to the soule;That all Christs ordinances are sweet and love­ly, and whatso­ever proceed▪ from them. his sacraments are sweete, his word sweet, the communion of Saints sweet. The presence of the [...]unnel you know is knowne in the spring time, by the freshne [...]e of all things, which put forth the life,Simile. and little livelines they have in them, some in blossoming, and some in flowers, that which lay (as it were) dead in winter, it comes out when the sunne drawes [Page 385] neere: so when Christ comes and shewes his presence and face to the soule, he refresheth and delights it.

Hence we see they are enemies to Christ and to the soules of Gods people, that hinder the manifestation of Christ, whereby his face might be seene, and his lovely cheekes discer­ned? those that hate and undermine the or­dinances of God, they hinder the comforts of their owne soules.

And they are enemies to Christ, for when hath Christ glory but when the Virgins follow him in the sent of his sweet ointment [...], when the soule in the sense of his sweetnesse followes him and cleave [...] to him with joy, love, and delight, this makes Christ Christ, and sets him up in the heart above all others. This is the proper worke of the ordinances. Those there­fore that are enemies to the ordinances of Christ are enemies to the soules of Gods people, and to the glory and honour of Christ himselfe.

Thus farre we may go safely upon comparison of this with other Scriptures.

The end of the sixteenth Sermon.

THE SEVENTEENTH SERMON.SER. XVIII

CANT. V. XIII.‘His lips are like lillies dropping sweet smelling mirrh, his hands are as gold rings set with Berill, his belly is as bright Ivory overlaid with Sa­phirs, his legs, &c.’

In speaking of these parti­culars wee are to be very wary, for we have not that foundation as we have in other generalls: for no doubt but the Spirit of God here did more intend to set out the large affection that the Church had to Christ, then to insinuate any great [Page 388] particularity in every one of these, therefore let us onely cull out, and take those things that are of more easie explication.

His lips are as lillies dropping downe sweet mirrh.

That is, his doctrine is as sweet as the lillies, and sound as the mirrh, keeping from purri­faction, it being the nature of mirrh as it is sound its selfe so to make other things sound. In like manner the speech of Christ makes the soule sound that imbraceth it. What was ever more sweet then the truth of Christ,Luk. 4. 20. when he spake himselfe, they all hung upon his lips (as the Phrase is in the Gospell) as a man hangs upon the lips of another whom he desires and de­lights to heare speake, and they marvelled at the gratious words that came out of his lips, Psal. 45. Grace was in his lips, all was sweet that came from him, for it came from the ex­cellency of his Spirit, his words were died in these affections of his heart. In the learned language, the same word signifieth speech and reason, to intimate that speech is but the cur­rent of reason from the heart the seat of reason, therefore Christs speeches were sweet, because his heart was sweet,Mat. 12. 34, 35. full of all love, grace, mer­c [...], and goodnesse, his heart was a treasure, his lips must needs then be sweet. Beloved there­fore let us hence take a triall of ourselves what our condition is, whether the words that come from Christ when hee speakes in his ministery to us be sweet or not.

[Page 389]The word (to [...]me kind of men) is like the Northe [...]n aire which parcheth a [...]d c [...]tteth,1 King. 21. Ahab could not indure the breath of Elias, Mark. 6. 16. nor Heredias the breath of Iohn Baptist, Acts. 2. 22. nor the Pha­risees the breath of Steeven and Paul. So too many now a dayes cannot endure the breath of divine truth when it cuts and pierceth. These wordes are arrowes that sticke, if they sticke not sa­vingly, they sticke to killing, if we cannot in­dure Christs breath we are not his Spouse nor have any communion with him.

His lips are like lillies dropping sweet mirrh, &c.

This is one excellency of Christ and of his truth, that it preserves the soule in a pure estate, it is pure it selfe and so it preserves the soule, mirrh is a liqour that keepes from putrifaction, there is nothing that keepes the soule but the word that indures for ever, whereas on the other side error is of a putrifying nature, corrup­ting and defiling the soule.

His hands are as gold rings set with Berill, &c.

Hands are the instruments of actions, Christs actions are pretious, whatsoever he doth to the Church, nay even when he doth use evill men to afflict and exercise the Church, he hath a hand there, a golden, a precious hand, in the evil hand of wicked men God doth all things by Christ,That all Christs actions whatso­ever are pre­cious. he is as it were Gods hand which all things passe through.Heb. 1. Ioseph was the second man of Egypt through whose hands all things came to the rest,Joh 5. 22. so all things comes through Christs hands to us, and whatsoever is his [Page 390] handy worke is good, even as it is said in the daies of his flesh, hee did all things well, so still in the Church all his workmanship is exceeding well, though we cannot see the excellency of it, it is all well both in the government of the Church and his workmanship in our hearts, the new creature.

His Belly is as bright Ivory overlaid, &c.

His Belly that is his inward parts, In the he­brew it is used for the inward affections, they are as bright Ivory overlaid with Saphires, that is they are pure, all the inside of Christ, all his affections that he beares are wondrous good, his love, his desires, his joyes, his hatred, all pure, like pure water in a crystall glasse, it may be stirred sometimes but still it is cleare, there are no dregs at the bottome, because there was no taint of sinne in him.

His legs are as pillars of marble set on sockets of fine gold, &c.

That is,All christs wayes are con­stant &c firme. all his passages and waies are con­stant and firme even as pillars of marble,Heb. 13. 8. his children are so likewise as farre as they are in­dued with his Spirit. Christ is yesterday, to day and the same for ever. In regard of his enemies, Rev. 1. Hee is set out in another man­ner of similitude, as having legs of brasse to trample them all in peeces. But in respect of his constant truth and waies of goodnesse to his Church his legs are as pillars of marble.

His Countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the Cedars.

[Page 391] Lebanon was a goodly forrest lying on the north side of Iudea, wherein were excellent plants of all kindes, especially Cedars. Christ his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the Cedars, that is his presence is goodly, stately and majesticall, so it is and will bee when he shewes himselfe indeed for the vindicating of his Church, then the enemies thereof shall know that his presence is as Lebanon, and ex­cellent as the Cedars.

The Children of God are like to Cedars too,In what regard Christians are like unto Ce­dars. for they are Christ mysticall. Other men are as shrubs to them, men of no value, but they are Cedars, and grow as Cedars in Lebanon, from perfection to perfection, bearing most fruit in their age. Wicked men somtimes are Cedars too and are said to grow and flourish as the Cedars in Lebanon:How wicked men are said al­so to be Cedars. But looke a while and you shall see their place no more,Psal 37. they have no good root, no good foundation, A Christian is a Cedar set in Christ the chiefe Cedar, he is a plant that growes in him, he hath an eternall root and therefore he flourisheth eternally.

His mouth is most sweet, he is altogether lovely.That the words of C [...]rist wher [...] ­by [...]e manifests fatherly affect­ion to us is of all things most sweet.

His mouth is most sweet, she doubles this commendation, shee had said before his lips are as Lillies dropping sweete mirrh, here she saith againe of his mouth, it is most sweet, to shew that that is the cheefe lovely thing in Christ, the repetition argueth the seriousnesse of the Chur­ches affection to Christ and of the excellency of that part, the maine lovely thing is that which [Page 392] comes from his heart by his words and his lips, as indeed the most excellent thing that we can thinke of is the expression of the heart of God in Christ, and of Christs love to us, His mouth is most sweet. And indeed the best discovery of a true affection to Christ, and of a true estate in grace, is from our affection to the word of Christ. Wheresoever there is interest into Christ, there is a high respect to the word, my sheepe heare my voice, Iohn. 10. and you know what Peter saith, Iohn. 6. Many of Christs hearers and followers forsooke him (upon some hard speeches, as they thought that came from him) saith Christ to Peter, Will yee also leave mee, Peter answered againe, Whether Lord shall wee goe,Ioh. 6. 68.thou hast the words of eternall life. The Apostles that had the Spirit of God per­ceived an incredible gratiousnesse to sit on his lips, and therefore they hung upon his lips, Whether shall we goe, thou hast the words of eternall life. If we leave his speech we leave our comfort, we leave our life.

As a comment hereupon see Psal. 19. Where we have a high commendation of Gods ex­cellencie, first from the booke of nature the workes of God, the Heavens declare the glory of God, then from the word of God, and here­in the Psalmist is wonderous large. The law of the Lord is perfect coverting the soule, the testimonies of the Lord are sure making wise the simple, the statutes of the Lord are right and rejoyce the heart, the commandements [Page 393] of the Lord are sure, and enlighten the eyes more to be desired then gold, yea then fine gold, sweeter also then the hony or the hony comb.

But marke the order,Quest. when is the word of God precious to us as goldWhen the word of God is preci­ous to us as gold sweeter then the hony or the hony combe, but when the former com­mendation takes place,Answ. where the word is per­fect converting the soule, and where it is sure, making wise the simple, and where the feare of the Lord is cleane, &c. There it is more to be desired then fine gold, and sweeter then the hony combe. So the Church here finding first of all the word to be a converting word, and giving understanding to the simple, she cannot but speake of the sweetnesse of the word of Christ,That our state in grace to the word may bee discerned by our relish to the word. his lips are as Lillies dropping sweet smelling myrrh, his mouth is most sweet. Thus a man may know his estate in grace by his re­lish of the word.

There is a divine and a heavenly relish in the word of God, as for instance take the doctrine of his providence,Ron [...]. 2 [...]. 8. That all things shall worke together for the best to them that love God. What a sweet word is this, a whole kingdome is not worth this promise: that whatsoever befalls a Christian in this world, there is an over-ruling providence to sway all to good, to help forward his eternall good.

That Christ will be present with us in all condi­tions, Mat. 28. what a sweet word and promise is this,Luk. 11. 13. That he will give his holy Spirit if we beg it, that [Page 394] he will not faile us nor forsake us. That if we confesse our sins and lay them open, 1 Iohn 1. 9. he is mer­cifull to forgive them. That if our sinnes were as red as scarlet, they shall all bee white as woole. Isa. 1. What kinde of incredible sweetnesse is in these to a heart that is prepared for these com­forts, the doctrine of Reconciliation, of Adopti­on, of Glory to come, of the offices of Christ and such like, how sweet are they, they relish won­drously to a sanctified soule.

Let us therefore discerne of our estate in grace by this,Exhortation to try our [...]ate in grace by our re­lish of divine truths. how do we relish divine truths? are they connaturall and suteable to us? doe we love them more then our appointed food? are they dearer unto us then thousands of gold and sil­ver? doe we like them above all other truthes whatsoever?Psal. 119. 127. Every truth in its ranke is love­ly and is a beame of God,Psal. 119. 72. For truth is of God wheresoever we sinde it, but what are other truths to this heavenly soule saving-truth, this Gos­pell-truth that is from Christ, his mouth is most sweet.

In our nature there is a contrary disposition and Antipathy to divine truth.That there is in our nature an Antipat [...]y to di­vine tru [...]. We love the Law better then the Gospell, and any truth better then the Law. We love a story, any trisling baubling thing concerning our ordinary cal­lings, better then divine truth: In divine truth as things are more spirituall, So the more re­mute they are naturally from our love and liking. Evangelicall truths will not downe with a na­turall heart, such an one had rather here a quaint [Page 395] point of some vice or vertue finely stood upon then any thing in Christ, because he was never truly convinced of his corrupt and miserable estate by nature, but when the grace of God hath altered him, and his eyes are open to see his misery, then of all truthes the truth of Christ savours best, those truths that come out of the mouth of Christ & out of the ministery con­cerning Christ they are most sweete of all. Oh how sweete are those words in the Gospell to the poore man: thy sinnes are forgiven thee, doe you thinke they went not to his heart. So to the woman, Luk. 7. her many sinnes are for­given her, for she loved much, Oh they were words that went to her soule. And to the theefe on the crosse,Luk. 23. This day thou shalt be with me in Paradice, how do you think those words affect­ed him. So it is with us if ever we have beene abased in the sence of our sinnes, O how sweet is a promise of mercy then.Iob. [...]3. 23. He that brings it is as one of tenne thousand, that comes to declare to man his righteousnesse, to lay open the mercy that belongs to a distressed soule,Rom. 10, 15. Oh the very feete of those that bring these glad tidings are beautifull; When our blessed Saviour after his refurrection spake to Mary and called her by her name, after that she had sought him and could not finde him (Oh Raboni saith she) the words of Christ they melted her presently. Let Christ once call us by our names, for he knowes us by name, as he knew Moses, Exo. 34. let him by his Spirit speake to us by name,Jsa. 43. 1. and [Page 396] owne us then we call him Raboni, we owne him againe, for what is our love but the reflection of his backe againe. Therefore (saith the Psal­mist) Let me heare the voyce of joy and gladnesse that the bones that thou hast broken may rejoyce. Psal. 51. Let me heare, that is, I long for thy word to heare it, not the bare ministeriall word, but the word of the Spirit, but the Church resteth not here, but saith further,

He is altogether lovely.

Altogether desireable, as if she should say, what should [...] stand upon particulars, he is alto­gether from top to toe aimiable, lovely and delectable.

He is altogether lovely.

Lovely to God,That Christ e­very way consi­dered is altoge­ther lovely. to us, to the soule; lovely to him that can best judge of lovelinesse, the judgement of God I hope will goe currant with us, and what doth God the Father judge of Christ, This is my beloved Sonne, he is the Son of Gods love, Colos. 1. 13. (as God cannot but love his own image) He is lovely also as man, for he was pure and holy, lovely as Me­diator by office, for he was anoynted by God to conveigh the Fathers love to us, He must needs be lovely in whom all others are loved, this is my beloved Sonne in whom I am well pleas­ed, out of him I am well pleased with no body. And indeed he was filled with all graces that might make him lovely, all the treasures of wis­dome are in him, and of his fulnesse we all re­ceive grace for grace, he is made a store-house [Page 397] of all that is good for us.

He is lovely to God in whatsoever he did, he carried himselfe lovely and pleased his Fa­ther in all his doings and sufferings. God lo­ved him especially,Phil. 2 Because he was obedient even unto the death of the crosse, therefore God gave him a name above all names, that at the name of Iesus every knee should bowe both in Heaven and in Earth. As for the Angells they looke up­on him with admiration, they attended him, and accounted it an honour to waite upon him, he is lovely to all above us, and shall he not be lovely to us.

But you will say, was he lovely when hee was nailed on the crosse,Object. hung betweene two theeves, when he wor [...] a crowne of thornes, was whipped, laid groveling on the ground, when he sweat water and bloud, what lovelinesse was in him when he was laid in his grave.

Oh yes then he was most lovely of all to us,Answ. By how much the more he was abased for us, this makes him more lovely, that out of love he would a­base himselfe so low, when greatnesse and goodnesse meet together how goodly is it. That Christ so great a Majesty should have such bowels of compassion. Majesty alone is not lovely, but awefull and fearefull, but joyned with such con­descending grace is wondrous aimeable. How lovely a [...]ight is it to see so great a person to be so meeke and gentle: it was so beyond compari­son lovely in the eyes of the Disciples that they stood and wondered to see him who was [Page 398] the eternall word of the Father condescend to talke with a poore Samaritan woman, and what lovelinesse of carriage was in him to Pe­ter undeserving after he had denied and for­sworne him, yet to restore him to his former place that he had in his heart, loving him as much as ever he did before. In a word, what sweetnesse, gentlenesse, bowels of meekenesse, pittie and compassion did he discover to those that were in misery, we cannot insist upon par­ticulars.

There is a remarkeable passage in the story of Alphonsus the King (not very well liked of some) when hee saw a poore man pul­ling of his beast out of a ditch he put to his hand to helpe him, aft [...]r which as it is recor­ded his subjects ever loved him the better, it was a wonderfull condescending, and is it not as wonderfull that the King of Heaven and Earth should [...]toope so low as to helpe us poore wormes out of the ditch of hell and dam­nation, and that when he hath set us in a state of deliverance, he should not leave us there, but advance us to such a state and condition as is above our admiration, which neither heart can conceive nor tongue expresse, is not this wonderfull condescending.

That we may further improove this point,Vse. 1. Is Christ altogether lovely,That Christ is such a Media­tor as can quit. [...]is office. so lovely to us and so beloved of God the Father? Let us then rest upon his obedience and righteousnes, build up­on it that God cannot refuse that righteousnesse [Page 399] whose subject is altogether lovely. Let us come clothed in the garments of our elder bro­ther, and then doubt not of acceptance: for it is in Christ that he loves us, in this well-beloved Sonne it is that God is well-pleased with us, if we put on Christs righteousnesse, we put on Gods righteousnesse, and then how can God hate us, no more then he hates his owne Sonne, nay he loves us,Iohn 17, 23. and that with the same love wherewith he loves him, for he loves whole Christ mysticall, head and members. Let this strengthen our Faith, that if Christ be so altogether lovely in himselfe and to the Father, then we may comfortably come before the Father, clothed with the garments of him our elder brother, and so rest our selves on the ac­ceptation of his Mediation that is so beloved a Mediator.

Againe,Vse. 2. if Christ be so lovely (altogether lovely) then let us labour to be in him,To labour to be in C [...]rist that so wee may bee lovely before God. that so we may be lovely to God, because he is the first aimiable thing in the world, in whom we are all lovely, all our lovelinesse is in beloved Christ.

Againe,Vse. 3. if Christ be so lovely,To see then how and whereupon to spend our best affections. here onely we have whereupon to spend the marrow of our best affections. Is it not pittie we should loose so much of our affections as we doe upon other things, Christ is altogether lovely, why should we dote upon other things so much, and set up Idols in our hearts above Christ, is he altoge­ther lovely, and shall not he have altogether [Page 400] our lovely affections, especially when we are commanded under paine of a curse to love the Lord Jesus. Anathema Maranatha to those that love not Christ.1Cor. 16. 22. Let us therefore la­bour to place all our sweete affections that are to be exercised upon good, as love, joy, and delight, upon this object, this lovely deserving object Christ, who is altogether lovely. When wee suffer a pure streame as it were to runne through a dirty channell, our affections to run after the things of the world, which are worse then our selves, we loose our affections and our selves.

Let therefore the whole streame of our af­fections be carried unto Christ.The way not to loose our affect­ions. Love him and whatsoever is his, for he being altogether love­ly, all that comes from him is lovely, his pro­mises, his directions, his counsels, his children, his sacraments are all, lovely. Whatsoever hath the stamp of Christ upon it, let us love it, we cannot bestow our hearts better, to loose our selves in the love of Christ & to forget ourselves and the love of all, yea to hate all in comparison of him, and to account all dung and drosse com­pared with Christ, is the only way to finde our selves. And indeed we have a better condition in him then in the world or in our selves: severed from him our condition is vaine and will come to nothing, but that we have in him is admirable and everlasting, we cannot conceive the happinesse which we poore wretches are advanced to in Christ, and what excellent [Page 401] things abide for us which come from the love of God to us in Christ, who is so altogether lovely. Therefore let us labour to kindle in our hearts an affection towards Christ, all that wee can, considering that hee is thus love­ly.

And let us make an Use of Tryall whether he be thus lovely to us,Vse. 4. or no, we may see hence whether we love Christ or no,Whether or no Christ hee thus lovely to us. We may judge of our love by our esteeme. How doe we value Christ, what price doth the Church set 1 on him? He is the chiefe of tenne thousand. By our esteem [...] of Chr [...]st. What place then should he have in our hearts? If he be the chiefe of tenne thousand, let us rather offend ten thousand then offend him. Let us say with David, Psal. 73. whom have I in Heaven but thee, &c. And when the soule can say to Christ or any that is Christs (for I speake of him in the lati­tude of his Truths, Promises, Sacraments, and Communion with his children) What have I in Heaven but thee, &c. then it is in a happy condition. If these things have the same place in our esteeme, as they have in respect of their owne worth, then we may say truely without Hypocrisie, He is altogether lovely to us, that we truly love him.

In the next place, are we ready to suffer for 2 Christ?By our suffer­ings for Christ. we see the Church here endures any thing for Christ, she was mis-used of the watch­men, they scorned her, and her vaile is taken away, yet notwithstanding she loves Christ still. Do we stand ready disposed to suffer for [Page 402] Christ, of the world to be disgraced and cen­sured, and yet are we resolved not to give o­ver, nay doe we love Christ the more, and sticke to his truth the faster? Certainely where the love of Christ is, there is a spirit of Forti­tude, as we may see in the Church here, who is not discouraged from Christ by any meanes, he is still the chiefe of tenne thousand, when she was wronged for seeking after him, yet hee was altogether lovely, whereas on the other hand, you have some that for frownes of great­nesse, feare of losse, or for hope of rising, will warpe their conscience and doe any thing. Where now is love to Christ and to Religion. He that loves Christ, loves him the more for his crosse, as the Holy Ghost hath recorded of some, that they rejoyced that they were thought worthy to suffer for Christ. So the more we suffer for him, the more deare he will be to us. For indeed he doth present himselfe in love and comfort most to those that suf­fer for his sake, therefore their love is in­creased.

3 Againe, where love is, there it inlargeth the heart,Love enlargeth the heart and tongue in the praises of Christ which being enlarged enlargeth the tongue also. The Church hath never enough of commending Christ, and of set­ting out his praise, the tongue is loosed, because the heart is loosed. Love will alter a mans dis­position, as we see in experience, a man base of nature, Love will make him liberall, he that is tongue-tied, it will make him eloquent, let a [Page 403] man love Christ, and though before he could not speake a word in the commendation of Christ, and for a good cause, yet (I say) if the love of Christ be in him, you shall have him speake and labour earnestly in the praises of God. This hot affection, this heavenly fire, will so mould and alter him, that he shall be cleane another man, as we see in the Church here, after that there was kindled a spirit of love in her, she cannot have done with Christ, when she had spoke what she could, she adds, he is altogether lovely. Those that cannot speak of Christ, or for Christ with large hearts in de­fence of good causes (but are tongue-tied and cold in their affections) where is their love? put any worldly man to a worldly theame that he is exercised in, and speakes of dayly, he hath wit and words at will, but put him to a theame of piety, you loose him, he is out of his theame, and out of his element. But tis not so with those that have ever felt the love of God in Christ, they have large affections, how full is Saint Paul, he cannot speake of Christ but he is in the height, bredth, length, and depth of the love of God in Christ, and the knowledge of God above all knowledge: thus we may discerne the truth of our love by the expressions of it here as in the Church.

Againe, the Church here is never content 4 till she finde Christ,True love is ne­ver at rest till we finde Christ. whatsoever she had, no­thing contents her, she wanted her beloved, as we see here, she goes up and downe inquis [...]itive [Page 404] after him till she find him, so it is with a Chri­stian, if he have lost (by his owne fault) his former communion with Christ, he will not rest nor be satisfied, but searcheth here and there in the use of this and that meanes, he runs through all Gods Ordinances and meanes till he finde Christ, nothing in the world will con­tent him, neither honour, riches, place, or friends, till he finde that which he once en­joyed, but hath now for a season lost, the com­fort, and assurance of Gods love in Christ.

Now if we can sit downe with other things and can want Christ and the assurance of salva­tion,That content­ment without Heavens sweet report of com­fort to the soule is a dangerous condition. that sweet report of the Spirit, that we are his, and yet be contented well enough, here is an ill signe, that a man is in an ill condition, the Church was not so disposed here, she was never quiet nor gives over her inquisition and spea­king of Christ, that by speaking of the object, she might warme her affections, untill at the last she meets with Christ, these and the like signes there are of the truth of the love of Christ.A signe of true flaming love to Christ. But where there is a flaming love of Christ, there is this degree further, a desire of the appearance of Christ, a desire of his pre­sence. For if Christ be so lovely in his Ordi­nances. If we finde such sweetnesse in the Word and Sacraments, in the communion of Saints, in the motions of the Spirit. What is the sweetnesse (thinke you) which the soules in Heaven enjoy, where they see Christ face to face, see him as he is, hereupon the Spouse [Page 405] saith Let him kisse me with the kisses of his mouth: Oh that I might live in his presence, this is the desire of a Christian soule. When the flame of love is kindled in any strength, Oh that I might see him, and therefore it longs even for death, for as farre as a man is spirituall, he desires to bee dissolved, and to bee with Christ, as Simeon, when he saw him (though in his abasement) Now I have enough, let thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seene thy salvation. The presence of Christ (though it were but in the wombe) When Mary the mother of Christ came to Elizabeth, it caused the Babe that was in her wombe to spring. Such comfort there is in the presence of Christ (though he be but in the wombe) as it made Iohn to spring. What then shall be his presence in Heaven, how would it make the heart spring there thinke you? For that which is most lovely in Christ is to come. Therefore the Saints that have any degree of grace in the new Testament, they are set out by this description, they were such as loved the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: how can it be otherwise, if they love Christ, they love the appearing of Christ, wherein we shall be made lovely, as he is lovely.

Here we are not altogether lovely,That our many infirmities and sinnes should make us lon [...] for that time wherin we shall be altogether love [...]y. for we have many dregs of sinne, many infirmities, and staines, shall we not then desire that time wherein as he is altogether lovely, so shall we be made a fit spouse for so glorious a husband.

[Page 406]To conclude this point,To try our af­fections by the Churches affections. let us try our af­fections by the Churches affections in this place, whether Christ be so lovely to us or not, Isa. 5. 3. it is said there is no beauty in him, when we shall see him, and he was dispised of men, he was so in regard of his crosse, and sufferings to the eye of the world, and of car­nall men. H [...]rod scorned him, when Pilate sent him to him, made no body of him (as the word in the Originall is) they looked upon the outside of Christ in the flesh when he was abased. There was no forme nor beauty in him (saith the Holy Ghost) that is to the sight of carnall men, but those that had the sight of their sinnes with spirituall eyes▪ they could o­therwise judge of Christ. The poore Centu­rion, saw an excellency in him, when he said, He was not worthy that he should come under his roofe. The poore theefe saw the excellency of Christ upon the crosse in those torments: Lord remember me when thou commest into thy king­dome.

So those soules that were inlightned, that had the sight of their misery and the sight of Gods love in Christ, had a high esteeme of Christ in his greatest abasement. Therefore if we have a meane esteeme of the children of God as contemptible persons, and of the Or­dinances of God as meane things, and of the government of Christ (such as he hath left in his word) as base, it is an argument of a sinfull unworthy disposition in such a soule, Christ [Page 407] hath never beene effectually by his Spirit, for every thing in him is lovely even the bitterest thing of all. There is a majestie and excel­lency in all things of Christ, the censures of the Church are excellent, when they proceed and issue forth with judgement, as they should doe, to deliver such a man over to Satan, that he may be saved in the day of the Lord.

Now if the Ordinances of Christ, the Word and Sacraments, and the shutting sinners out of the Church, if these things be vilified as powerlesse things, it shewes a degenerate wick­ed heart not acquainted with the waies of God. If we have a meane esteeme of men that suffer for Christ and stand out for him, if we account them so and so, shall we thinke our selves Christians in the meane time, when Christ is al­together lovely, shall they be unlovely that carry the image of Christ, can we love him that begets and hate them that are begotten of him, can we love Christ and hate Christians, it cannot be.

Now that wee may get this affection and e­steeme of Christ,How to get and esteeme of Christ. that is so lovely. Let us la­bour to make our sinnes bitter and loathsome,1 that Christ may be sweet.To make sinne bitter.

VVhat is the reason we set no higher a price of Christ.Quest.

Because we judge not of ourselves,Ans. as we are indeed, and want spirituall eye salve to see into our selves rightly.

And let us attend upon the me [...]nes of salvation To attend on the meanes of sal­vation. to [Page 408] heare the unsearchable riches of Christ: what makes any man lovely to us: but when we heare of their riches, beauty and good intent to us. In the Word we are made acquainted with the good intent of Christ towards us, the riches of mercy in forgiving our sinnes, and riches of glory prepared for us, the more we heare of him, of his riches and love to us, the more it will inflame our love to Christ. Those that live where the Ordinances of Christ are held forth with life and power, they have more heavenly and inlarged affections then others have, as the experience of Christians will testi­fie.

3 Againe, if we would esteeme highly of Christ that he may bee lovely to us,To joyne with such company as highly esteeme of Christ. let us joyne with company that highly esteeme of Christ, and such as are better then our selves. What deads the affections so much as carnall, worldly company, who have nothing in them but civility, by converse with them who have discourse of nothing but the world, if a man have heavenly affections, he shall quickly dull them, and be in danger to loose them, they may be conversed with in civill things, but when we would set to be heavenly, and holy minded, let us converse with those that are of an heavenly bent, as we see here, The daugh­ters of Hierusalem are wonne to love Christ? by what? By conversing with the Church, upon the discourse that the Church makes of his excellencies in particular, they be­ginne [Page 409] to aske where is Christ, as in the next Chapter, and so are all brought to the love of Christ.

The end of the seventeenth Sermon.

THE EIGHTEENTH SERMON.SER. XVIII.

CANT. V. XVI.‘His mouth is most sweet, yea he is altogether lovely, this is my Beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Hierusalem.’CANT. VI. I, II.

Whither is thy Beloved gone, O thou fairest among woemen, whither is thy Beloved turned aside that wee may seeke him with thee.

My Beloved is gone downe, &c.

BY this time the Church hath well quit her selfe in that safe subject, commending her beloved, first in generall, and then in particu­lar; she affirmes (in effect) there [Page 412] was none like him in generall, which she after makes good in all the particulars of her descrip­tion, now she summes up all with a kinde of superaboundant expression. What shall I say more of him? if that which is said be not enough, then know farther, he is altogether lovely, there were no end to goe through all his perfections, but looke on him wholly, he is altogether lovely, and there­fore deserves my love, so that there is no cause why you should wonder at the strength of my affections and care to finde out this my Beloved and this my friend, O ye daughters of Hierusalem. Thus we see how the pitch of an inlightned soule is bent, it aspires to things suteable to its selfe, to God­wards▪ to union and communion with Christ, to supernaturall objects, nothing here below is worthy the name of its beloved. It fastens not on earthly base things, but this is my beloved, and this is my friend, this so excellent a person, this Iedidiah, this beloved sonne, this judge of all, Lord of all, this chiefe of ten thousand, here the Church pitches her affections which she conceales not as ashamed thereof, but in a kinde of triumphing, boasting of her choice, she concludes all with a kinde of reso­lute assurance, that the object of this her choice is farre beyond all comparison.

This is my Beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Hierusalem.

Which is the closing up of her commen­dations of Christ: This is my Beloved and this my friend, &c. Which shall onely be touched [Page 413] because we had occasion to speake thereof be­fore. She cals Christ her beloved, howsoever he had withdrawne himselfe in regard of the comfort and communion she had with him be­fore, yet he is her beloved still.

That which is specially to be stood upon is, that the Church here doth set out not onely in parcels, but in generall her beloved Christ: this is my beloved, she doth as it were boast in her beloved, whence observe:

A Christian soule seemes to glory as it were in Christ.Observ.

This is my beloved and this is my friend O yee daughters of Hierusalem: Divers ends why the Church thus in generall and particular sets forth the excellency of Christ. but to unfold more fully this point, there be three or foure ends why the Church thus stands upon the expres­sing of the excellencies of Christ in particular and in generall.

The one, To shew that it is most just that she should love and respect him in whom there is all this 1 to deserve love,To shew how just it is to re­spect so excellent a person. both in himselfe, in regard of his owne excellencies so and in relation to us, in regard of his merits and deserts.

Secondly, To justifie her large affections before 2 the world and all opposites. To justifie her strong affection to the stronger Christians. For the world thinks, what meane these who are called Christians to haunt the exercises of religion, to spend so much time in good things, they wonder at it for want of better information; now the Church here to justifie her large expressions, sayes, this is my beloved, this is my friend, O ye daughters of Hierusalem. [Page 412] [...] [Page 413] [...]

[Page 414]And not onely to justifie, but likewise to glory 3 therein, as you have it, Psal. 44. [...]. the Church there boasts of God,To boast and glory in God. I will make my boast of thee all the day long. So that Christians may not onely justifie their course of life against ene­mies, but in some sort boast of Christ, as Paul oft doth, and he shewes the reason of it, that God hathy made Christ to us all in all, wisdome, righteousnesse, sanctification, and redemption, that whosoever glorieth might glory in the Lord: for is it not a matter of glorying in the Church when she hath such a head and such a husband. This is my beloved, the wife shines in the beames of her husband, therefore this yeelds matter not onely of justification but of glory.

4 And next in the fourth place, the Church is thus large and shuts up all with a repetition,To enlarge her owne affections. this is my beloved, To inlarge her owne affections and to feed her owne love. For love feedes upon this fuell (as it were) upon expressions and meditations of the person or thing loved.That love is wages to itselfe Love is as it were wages of it selfe, the paines it takes is gaine to it selfe, to the Church here it is an ar­gument pleasing, she dilates upon a copious Theame. I may truly say there is no greater comfort to a Christian, nor a readier way to in­large the affections after Christ, then to speake oft of the excelleccies of Christ, to have his tongue as the pen of a ready writer furnished this way,To aggravate her owne shame and unkindnesie in so sleighting Christs love. this is my beloved, &c.

In the fift place another end of this may be [Page 415] to aggravate her owne shame, as indeed Gods children are much in this argument, that upon their second thoughts of Christs worthinesse and therewithall reflecting upon their owne unworthinesse and unkindnesse they may relish Christ the better. Therefore the Church here that it might appeare to her selfe for her humi­liation how unkind she had beene to shut the doore against Christ when he knocked, where­upon he deservedly did withdraw himselfe and made her seeke him so long sorrowing, I tell you sayes she what a kinde of beloved he is, thus and thus excellent. How did the consi­deration of Gods kindnesse and love melt Da­vids heart after that horrible sinne in the matter of vriah, and the sweet lookes of Christ upon Peter, that had beene so unkind, melted him. So here the Church when she considered how unkindc she had beene to Christ her beloved, so incomparably excellent above other be­loveds, to let him stand at the doore, till his locks were wet with the Dew of the night. The consideration hereof made her ashamed of her selfe, what so excellent, so deserving a person as my beloved is to me, to be used of me so? what indignity is this? Thus to raise up the aggravation of her unkindnesse, no question but the Church takes this course: for Gods children are not as untoward worldlings and hypocrits afraid to search and to understand themselves, the child of God loves to be well read in his owne heart and unworthy waies, [Page 416] therefore he layes all the blame he can upon himselfe every way, he knowes he looseth no­thing by this, for there is more mercy in Christ then there is sinne in him, and the more sinne abounds in his owne feeling, the more grace shall abound, he knowes the mysterie of Gods carriage in this kinde. Therefore for this end (amongst the rest) she sayes, this is my be­loved, and this is my friend, whom I have so un­kindly used.

And the last reason why the Church is thus large was,To wind up the affections of her new beginning Christians. To draw and wind up the affections of those well meaning Christians that were commers on, who were inequisitive of the way to Syon. O ye daughters of Hierusalem, that you may know that there is some cause to seeke after Christ more then you have done before, I tell you what an excellent person my beloved is, to whet their affections more and more, and we see the successe of this excellent discourse in the be­ginning of the next Chapter, whether is thy be­loved gone, &c.

These and the like reasons there are of the large expressions of the Church of the exce­lencies of Christ, this is my beloved, and this is my friend, Oh ye daughters of Hierusalem. But we will single out of these reasons for use that which I thinke fittest for us to make Use of.

Let us then oft thinke of the excellencies of Christ for this end, to justifie our endeavours and paines we take in the exercises of religion [Page 417] and to justifie Gods people from the false im­putations of the world, that they lay upon them, as if they were negligent in other matters, and were too much busied in spirituall things. You see how large the Church is in setting out the excellencies of her beloved, & then she shuts up all (being able to say no more) justifying our cause, This is my beloved, and this is my friend. Doe you wonder that I seeke so much after him then: or wonder you at Christians, when they take such paines to keep their communion with Christ in a holy walking with, and depending upon God. These are no wonders, if you con­sider how excellent Christ is, what he hath done for us, and what he keepes for us in ano­ther world, that he will preserve us to his hea­venly kingdome, till he put us into possession of that glorious condition that he hath purcha­sed. Le the hearts of men dwell upon the con­sideration of these things, and then you shall see that Gods children are rather to be blamed that they are no more carefull, watchfull, and industrious, then to be taxed that they are so much. Our Saviour Christ said, Mat. 11. 19.Mat. 11. 19. Wisedome is justified of all her children. If you will make good that you are children of wisedome, you must be able to justifie the wisedome of God every way, to justifie your reading, hearing, your communion of Saints, to justifie all the exercises of Religion from an experimentall taste and sweetnesse of them, (as the Church doth here this is my beloved) [Page 418] What sayes Ioshua, this choice J have made, doe you what you will it matters me not, [...]. but I and my house will serve the Lord. So Paul makes a voluntary profession of his affection, Rom. 1. 2. I am not ashamed of the Gospell of Jesus Christ, let the Gospell bee entertained in the world as it will, and let o­thers thinke of me as they will, that I am for­ward in the preaching of it, I am not ashamed of it, and good reason he had not to be ashamed, for it is the power of God to salvation to all that beleeve, yea the saving power to us, and have not I cause to stand in the defence of it, and so he saith the 2 Tim. 1. 12.2 Tim. 1. 12I know whom I have beleeved, &c. I am not ashamed to suffer bonds for his sake. Though the world thought him a meane person, J will not be scorned out of my Faith and Religion by shallow empty persons, that know not what Christ and Reli­gion meaneth. No, I know wh [...]m I have be­leeved; he is able to keepe that that I have commit­ted to him against that day. Let us therefore be able to justifie from a judicious apprehension sweet divine truths. You see what justifica­tions there are of the Church of God, where­fore should the Heathen say, where is now their God, and Psalme 42. 10. Oh it went to Davids heart, when they said where is now their God, what was become of his God when he was left in trouble, as the Church here, and what doth she answer; doth he let it goe with a question:Psal. 113 3. No sayes he our God is in Heaven [Page 419] and hath done whatsoever he pleased.

And this justification of Religion,The justificati­o religious in­d [...]avours is with disertion o [...] opposite courses. you may know by this signe, it is with the disertion of all discourses opposite to Religion whatsoe­ver, he that justifies the truth, he esteemes mean­ly of other courses and discourses. Therefore in the next verse the Church vilifies the Idols, our God is in Heaven and doth whatsoever he pleaseth: the Idols are silver and gold, the worke of mens hands, they have eyes and see not, eares and heare not. And the more wee justifie Christ the more we will be against An­tichrist and his religion, wee may know the owning of the one truth by the vilifying the other. Let us labour therefore to grow to such a convincing knowledge of Christ, the good things in him, and the wayes of God, as wee may be able to stand out against all opposition of the gates of hell whatsoever.

And to this end proceed in the study of Christ,To grow to know Christ more & his good things we must grow in admiration of them. and to a deeper search of him, and of the excellencies and good things in him, that we may say as Micah 7. Who is a God like to thee, that pardons sinnes and iniquities, and as David Psalme 113. Who is a God like our God that humbleth himselfe to behold the things done here below.

And desire also to this purpose the Spirit of revelation,We must pray for the Spirit of Revelation. that which Paul prayes for Ephes. 1. and Cap 3 that we may know that knowledge that is above all knowledge, the heig [...]h, depth, and breadth of Gods love in Christ. So sweet [Page 420] is God in the greatest abasements of his chil­dren, that he leaves such a taste in the soule of a Christian, that from thence he may be able to say, this is my beloved, when his beloved seemes not to care for him. When the Church seemed to be disrespected and neglected of Christ, yet she saies, This is my Beloved, and this is my friend, O ye daughters of Hierusalem.

Shall rich men boast of their riches,That if worldly and wicked men boast of earrhly things, much more ought wee of our portion in Christ. shall men that are in favour, boast of the favour of great persons, shall a man that hath large posses­sions boast and think himself as good & as great as his estate is, shall a base minded worldling be able to boast: why boastest thou thy selfe Oh mighty man?Psal. 52. 1. Nay you shall have malig­nan [...] spirited men, boast of their malignant de­structive power, I can do this and that mischief, shall a man boast of mischiefe, that he is able to do mischief? and hath not a Christian more cause to boast in God and in Salvation? Lord shine on me saies David, Psal. 4. 7. let me enjoy the light of thy countenance, and that shall bring me more joy then they have, when their corne and wine in­creaseth: know this, as he goes on in the same Psalme, that God accepts the righteous man.

Therefore let us thinke we have much more cause to boast of God and of Christ in a spi­rituall manner,That Christ re­con [...]led is the best portion. then the worldling hath of the world. Is not God and Christ our porti­on, and having Christ, have we not all things with Christ, put case all things be tooke from us; if a man have Christ, he is rich though [Page 421] he have nothing else, if he have all without him, His plenty is (as a Father faith, and as it is in truth) beggery. But whosoever hath Christ may thus rejoyce with David, Psal. 16. 7. The lot is fallen to me in pleasant places, ye I have a goodly He­ritage. Would we have more then God in Christ, a ring with a Dyamond very precious in it, Now the Daughters of Hierusalem, hea­ring this large expression of affection, aske,

CHAP. VI. I.
Whither is thy Beloved gone O thou fairest a­mong women? whither is thy Beloved turned aside that we may seeke him with thee?

HEere is another Question, the first which the daughters of Hierusalem aske is, what is thy beloved, wher­upon the Church tooke occasion to expresse what her beloved was, upon her expression closing up all with this generall, This is my Beloved and this is my friende.

Then the second Question is, That a discove­ry of Christs ex­cellencie must needs set us a work how to have him. whither is thy Beloved gone? One question begets another, and indeed if this question be well satisfied what is Christ above others, this will follow againe, where is he▪ how shall I get him? how shall I seeke him? what is the reason▪ this se­cond question is seldome made? VVhither is he gone, how shall I get Christ? Because the for­mer question, namely, What is Christ? is so [Page 422] seldome made. For if we did once know what Christ is, we would be sure with the daughters of Hierusalem to aske whither is he gone, that we may seeke him with thee.

We see here is a growth in the desires of the Daughters of Hierusalem, whence wee learne,

That grace,Observ. though it be in never so little propor­tion at the first,That grace be­gets grace the flame once kind led will not out but be a bur­ning and grow­ing. it is growing still.

From the first question, what is thy beloved, here is a second (upon better information) Whither is thy beloved gone, that we may seeke him with thee. Nothing is lesse then grace at the first, nothing in the world so little in pro­portion The Kingdome of Heaven is com­pared to a graine of mustard-seed,Mat. 13. that is, the worke of grace in the heart, as well as in the preaching of the Gospell, in the beginning is little. It is true of the worke of grace, as well as of the word of grace, that is like a graine of Mustard-seed at first, what is thy be­loved enquires the Church at first, but when she heares of the excellency of Christ; then whither is thy beloved gone. Grace begets grace, there is a connexion and knitting together in Religion, good things beget good things: it is a strange thing in Religion, how great a matter ariseth of a little beginning. The woman of Samaria had but a small beginning of grace, and yet she presently drew many of her neighbours to beleeve in Christ. So Andrew, Iohn 1. As soone as he was converted he find [...] his brother [Page 423] Simon and tels him that he had found the Mes­sias, and so brings him to Christ, and Philip as soone as he had got a sparke of Faith himselfe, he drawes also Nathaniell to come to Christ. Paul speakes of his bonds,Phil. 1. 13. how the noise of them was in Caesars Court, and many beleeved the very report, which howsoever it is not a working cause, yet it may be a preparing, indu­cing, leading cause to such things from one thing to another, till there follow this change and full conversion.An error of the Papists, touch­ing the efficacy of grace in con­grui [...]y. You see here the daugh [...]s of Hierusalem growing, Therefore let us labour to be under good meanes. Some of the Romists and others which are ill affected and grounded in that point, they thinke that the efficacie of grace is, as we call it from the congruity, fitnesse, and proportion of the meanes to the heart and will of man, and thereupon God con­verts one and not another, because there is a congruous and fit offering of meanes to him, when he is fitly disposed, and another is not fitly disposed, therefore there followes not up­on it effectuall calling, so that the vertue of the meanes offered depends upon sureablenesse and fitnes in the party to whom the meanes are offered, and not upon the power and blessing of God, verily this is plausible, and goes down very roundly with many weake persons:That the meanes without a dist­inct consisting work [...] can doe nothing. but this is a false and a grosse error: for unlesse God by his holy Spirit doe worke by the meanes, no planting and watering will bring any increase and change the heart and minde, [Page 424] though there were greater meanes in Christs time, when he wrought these miracles then any time before, yet all those could not con­vert that froward generation: and it was Moses complaint in the wildernesse, where they had aboundance of meanes: God hath not given you a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and eares to heare untill this day.Deut. 29. 4 When a man is planted under good meanes and fre­quents them,That usualy God workes with the means. then ordinarily it pleaseth God by the inward workings of his owne powerfull Spirit to worke greater matters, and those that keepe out of Gods reach, that will not come into places where they may heare good things, there is no hope of them, though there be many ill fish in the net, yet there is no hope to catch them that are without the net. So those that are kept out of all opportunities and occasions whereby Gods Spirit may worke upon them, there is no hope of them.

Let us learne this heavenly wisedome to ad­vantage our selves this way, by improoving all good opportunities whatsoever whereby we may learne, for God works by outward meanes: good company, and good discourse, these breed excellent thoughts. As therefore we love our soules, take all advantages wherein the Spi­rit of God works, we shall find incredible fruit thereof, more then we would beleeve, but to come to the Question.

See here first of all in this Question, the bles­sed successe of the Churches inquiry after [Page 425] Christ in the daughters of Hierusalem; after they heard the large explications of th [...] excel­lencies of Christ, especially by the Church, whom they had a good conceit off, for they call her, the fairest among women.

And seeing likewise the confidence of the Church,That demon­strative affect­ionate confident explication of Christ, is never without won­drous successe. she stands to it, this is my beloved, yea also eagernesse in the Church, to seeke after him they would seeke him with her, so that where these meet, a large unfolding of the truth of God, and that by persons that are knowne to be good, well accepted and conceited off, and where there is a large demonstration of re­all affection, and the things are spoken off with confidence, as knowing what they say, the word (I say) so managed it is never without wondrous successe.

For in the course of reason, what can I have 1 to say, considering the party, who speakes is an excellent person, he is wiser and holier then I, he takes to heart these things, and shall not I affect that which those that have better parts and graces doe?

Then withall I see not onely excellent per­sons 2 doe it, but J see how earnest they are, sure­ly there is some matter in it; for persons so ho­ly, so wise, and gratious to bee so earnest, surely either they are too blame, or I am too dull and too dead, But J have most cause to suspect my selfe.

And to see them carried with a spirit of con­fidence,3 as if they were well enough advised [Page 426] when they deliver this (this is my Beloved) in particular, and then to shut up all in generall, This is my beloved, and this is my friend: I say, when there is grace and life in the heart, and earnestnesse with confidence: this together with the explication of the heavenly excellen­cies of Christ, and of Religion, it hath admi­rable successe, as here in the Church, the fairest among women, the daughters of Hierusalem, see­ing the Church was so earnest, confident and so large in the explication of the excellencies of Christ, see how it works, it drawes out this Question with resolution, they joyne with the Church in seeking Christ. Whither is thy be­loved gone, O thou fairest among women? whe­ther is thy beloved turned aside, that we may seeke him with thee? Where by the way observe, as the Church before doubles it, this is my be­loved, and this is my friend: so they answer with a double question, whether is thy beloved gone, How to be hap­py instruments to convert o­thers. whether is he turned aside, O thou fairest a­mong woemen, &c. from this appellation note, If we would be happy instruments to con­vert others, being converted our selves, [...] such as the world may think to be good and gratio [...]s. labour to be such as the world may think [...] to be good and gratious: O thou fairest among woemen. Faire in the robes of Christ tooke out of his war­drop, all the beauty and ornaments that the Church hath, she hath from Christ, let us la­bour to be such as the world may conceit are good persons. We say of Phisitians, when the patient hath a good conceit of them the cure is [Page 427] halfe wrought: So the Doctrine is halfe per­swaded, when there is a good conceit of the speaker.

Againe,To be earnest in those things we would inforce upon others. labour to be earnest: if we would kindle, others, we must be warmed our selves, if we would make others weepe, we must weepe our selves, naturalists could observe this, the Church spake this with large expressions, in­deed more then can be exprest: let us labour to be deepely affected with what we speake, and speake with confidence, as if we knew what we spoke, as the Apostle Iohn doth, in the be­ginning of his Epistle to bring others to be bet­ter perswaded of his doctrine, he affirmeth that which was from the beginning, which we have heard,1. Ioh. 1. 1. which we have seene with these our eyes, which we have looked upon, and these hands of ours have handled of the Word of life he delivered to them.

For when we are confident from spirituall experience; it is wonderfull how we shall be instruments of God to gaine upon others. So Peter, 2 Pet. 1. 16. we followed not (saies he) deceiveable fables, when we opened unto you the power and comming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but with our eyes we saw his Majesty.

Doe not thinke it belongs onely to the mi­nistry, there is an art of Conversion that be­longs to every one that is a growne Christian to winne others.

VVhither is thy Beloved gone, O thou fairest a­mong woemen.

[Page 428]The next observation out of the words (be­cause it is the especiall) which works upon the daughters of Hierusalem, is from the large explication of Christ,observ.

That which most of all stirrs up holy affections to search after Christ, is the large explications of his ex­cellencies.

Then be in love with the ministry of the Gospell,That we ought to be in love with the mini­stry of the word, whereby the excellency of Christ is set foorth. and the communion of Saints, who have their tongues and their hearts taught of God so speake excellently, their tongues are as refined silver, their hearts are enriched to in­crease the communion of Saints. Marke this one excellency of that excellent ordinance of God in Christ,Pro. 10. 20. whereof Paul saith, Ephes. 3. To me is committed this excellent office to lay open the unsearchable riches of Christ, such riches as may draw you to wonder, such as eye hath never seene, nor eare heard, nor hath entred into the heart of man to conceive,2 Cor. 5. and so to draw the af­fections of people after them.

And because it is the speciall office of the mi­nistry to lay him open,That because the speciall of fice of the mi­nistery is to un­ [...]old Christ, therefore all our discourse should tend this way in some sort. to hold up the tapistry, to unfold the hidden mysteries of Christ, la­bour we therefore to be alway speaking some­what about Christ or tending that way, when we speake of the Law, let it drive us to Christ, when of Morrall duties, to teach us to walk [...] worthy of Christ. Christ, or somewhat ten­ding to Christ should be our theame and marke to ayme at.

Therefore what shall we judge of those that [Page 429] are hinderers of this glorious ordinance of Christ in the Gospell, they are enemies of con­version and of the calling of Gods people, e­nemies of their comfort: and what shall wee thinke of those wretched and miserable crea­tures, that like Caine are vagabonds, who wan­der and will not submit themselves to any or­dinance meekely, but keepe themselves out of this blessed opportunity of hearing the excel­lencies of Christ, which might draw their hearts to him, we are made forever, if Christ and we be one, if we have all the world without him it is nothing, if we have nothing in the world but Christ, we are happy. Oh happy then when this match is made betweene Christ and the soule, the friends of the Bride and of Christ, they laying open the uns [...]archable riches of Christ to the Spouse, drawe the af­fections, worke faith, and so bring the Bride and the Bridegroome together.

Thus farre of the Q [...]estion: now we have the Churches answer to the daughters of Hierusa­lem.

My Beloved is gone into his Garden, to the beds of Spices, to feede in the gardens, and to gather Lillies.

The Question was not for a bare satisfaction, but from a desire the Church had to seeke Christ, whither is thy beloved gone that we may seeke him. It was not a curious question, but a question of inquisition tending to practise, many are inquisitive, but when they know an­other [Page 430] mans meaning, it is all they desire: now I know your meaning will they say, but I meane not to follow your counsell. The daughters of Hierusalem had a more sincere intention, O thou fairest among woemen, whither is thy beloved turned aside▪ that we may seeke him with thee, whereunto the Church answered,

My Beloved is gone into his Garden to the beds of spices, That there [...]ught to [...]ee [...] en [...]y in spirituall [...]hin [...]s which may in [...]solid [...]m be devi­ [...]ed [...] to feed in the Gardens, Where we see,

The Church is not squemish, but directly answers to the question, for there is no envy in spiri [...]uall things, because they may be devided in solidum, one may have as much as another, and all alike. Envy is not in those things that are not divisible in other things, the more one hath, another hath the lesse. But there is no envy in grace and glory, because all may share alike, therefore here is no envy in the answer, as if she deni [...]d the daughters of Hierusalem the enjoying of her beloved; no if you will know (saies she) I will tell you directly whither my beloved is gone.

My Beloved is gone into his garden to the bed of spices, &c.

God hath two gardens, the Church Catho­like is his garden, and every particular Church are gardens and beds of spices, in regard that many Christian [...] are sowne there that Chri [...]ts soule delights in, as in sweet spices. This was spoken off before at large in Chapter 5. 1. why the Church is called a garden being a severed place from the wa [...]te: the Chruch is severed [Page 431] from the wildernesse of the world in Gods care and love, likewise he tends and weeds his Church and garden: as for the waste of the world, he is content the wildernesse should have barren plants: but he will not endure such in his garden; therefore those that give themselves liberty to be naught in the Church of God, he will have a time to roo [...]e them out: Trees that are not for fruit, shall be for the fire, and above all other Trees their doome shall be the heaviest that grow in Gods garden without fruit:Luke 13. that fig-tree shall be cursed.

Men are pleas'd with answering the bill of accusation against them thus▪ are we no [...] bapti­sed? and doe we not come to Church? & [...]. what doe you make of us,Th [...] folly and madnes of [...]uch who pleade they are spices and plants of Gods garden whilst they live in all pro [...]anesse. yet they are abhominable swearers and filthy in their lives. To [...]uch I say, the more God hath lift you up▪ and honou­red you in the use of the meanes, the more just shall your damnation be, that you bring foorth nothing but briers and brambles, the grapes of Sodome and the vine of Gomorrah: Heb 6. heavy will the doome bee of many that live in the Churches bosome,D [...]ut. 32. 32. to whom it had beene bet­ter to have beene borne in America, in Turkey, or in the most barbarous parts in the world: they have a heavie account to make that have beene such ill proficients under aboundance of meanes, therefore it ought to bee taken to heart.

My Beloved is gone into his garden to the beds of spices to feed in the gardens and to gather Lillies.

[Page 432] That is having first planted them Lillies here,That Christ looks for Lillies to plant them in his garden, de­light in them, and transport them into Hea­ven. to gather them, and to transport them out of the garden here, to the garden in Heaven, where there sh [...]ll be nothing but Lillies. For the Church of God hath two Gardens or Para­dises since the first Paradise (whereof that was a resemblance) th [...] Paradise of the Chruch, and the Paradise of H [...]aven.Two Paradises As Christ saith to the good theefe, this day thou sh [...]le be with me in Paradise. So those that are good plants in the Paradise of the Church, they shall be glorious plants also in the Paradise of Heaven, we must not alway be here, we shall change our soyle and be taken into Heaven: He is gone into h [...]s garden to gather Lillies.

1 Christians are compared to Lillies for their pu­rity and whitenesse unspotted in justification,In what respects Christians are compared to Lillies for pur [...] ­y, whitenesse, and unspotted [...]nesse. and for their endeavours in sanctity and holi­nesse, wherein also at length they shall be wholy unspotted, it is the end, (Ephes. 1. 4.) they are chosen too, to be holy without blame, before him in love. God and Christ looks upon them without blame, not as they are here defiled and spotted; but as they intend by little and lit­tle to purge and purifie themselves▪ by the Spi­rit that is in them, that they may be altogether without blame. They are Lillies being cloathed with the white garments of Christs righteous­nesse, not having a naturall whitenesse and purity: the whitenesse and purity of Gods children is borrowed, all their beauty and gar­ments are taken out of anothers wardrope, the [Page 433] Church is all glorious within: but she borrowes her glory, as the Moone borrowes all her light from the Sunne, the Churches excellency is borrowed, it is her owne but by gift, but being once her owne it is her owne for ever.

The Church before was likened to a garden culled out, an Eden, a Paradise, now there you know were foure streames, sweet and goodly rivers which watered Paradise, the heads of which rivers were without it. So the Church of God, her graces are her owne, that is the Spirit of God comes through her nature, pur­geth and purifieth it, but the spring of those 2 graces (as in Paradise) is out of her selfe.Because it is a tall goodly plant.

And then the Lilly is a tall goodly plant, therefore the Church is compared to them: other men are compared to thornes, not onely for a noxious, hurtfull quality in them, but for their basenesse likewise, what are thornes good for, but to cumber the ground, to eate out the heart of it, to hide snakes, and for the fire. Wick­ed men are not Lillies but thornes, they are base meane persons.D [...]n. 11. 21. Antiochus is said to be a vile person though he were a King, because he was a naughty man. Wicked men though they be never so great being void of the grace of God are vile persons, though we must respect them in regard of their places, yet as they are in their qualification, they are vile and base thornes, but the Church is not so, but as a Lilly among thornes, that is among vile and abhomi­nable persons.

[Page 434] The Use is to comfort Gods children,Vse. 1. they have an excellency and glory in them,com [...]ort Gods children. which howsoever it is not from them, yet it is theirs by gift and eternally theirs: therefore let them comfort themselves against all the censures of sinnefull persons that labour to trample them under foore, and thinke basely and meanely of them, as of the off-scowring of the world. Let the unworthy world thinke of them as they will, they are Lillies in Gods esteeme, and are so indeed, glorious persons that have the Spirit of glory resting upon them,1 Pet. 4. and whom the world is not worthy off,Heb. 11. though their glory be within: therefore let us glory in it, that God vouch safeth saving-grace to us above any other priviledge.

Againe,Vse. 2. it comforts us in all our wants what­soever, that God will take care for us: Christ useth this argument: God saith he, clotheth the lillies of the field with an excellent beauty, he cares even for the meanest plants, and will he not take care for you O ye of little faith? doth he care for Lillies that are to day and to morrow are cast into the oven:Ma [...]. 6. 29. and shall he not care for the lillies of Paradise, the living lillies, those holy reasonable lillies? u [...]doubted­ly hee will. Our Saviour Christs reason is undeniable, he that puts such a beauty upon the poore plants that flourish to day in the mor­ning and wither before night, he that puts such a beauty upon the grasse of the field, will he not put more excellency upon his children, will [Page 435] he not provide for them, feed them, undoubted­ly he will: thus we have shewed why Gods children in the Chruch of God are compared to Lillies.

To gather Lillies.

Christ is said to gather these Lillies,That Christs Lillies shall not lie scattered but he will ga­ther them toge­ther. that is, he will gather them together, Christ will not have his lillies alone scattered, though hee leaves them oft alone for a while, yet he will ga [...]her them to Congregations and Churches: the name of a Church in the Originall is Eccle­sia, it is nothing but a company gathered out of the world. Do we thinke that we are lillies by nature; no we are thornes and briers, God makes us lillies and then gathers us to other lillies, that one may strengthen another. The Spirit of God in his children is not a Spirit of seperation of Christians from Christians, but a spirit of seperation from the waste wild wil­dernesse of the world, as we say of fire, Con­gregat homogenea & disgregat heterogenea, it con­gregates all homogeniall things, as gold, which it gathers, but disgregates heterogeniall things, consumeth drosse; so the Spirit of God severs thornes and gathers lillies, gathers Chri­stians together in the Church and will gather them for ever in Heaven.

Thus we see the answer of the Church to the daughters of Hierus [...]lem, That the issue of fruit [...]ull con­ference is great at last, though [...]at and dull al beginning. what it was, with the occasion thereof: the question of the daughters of Hierusalem whither is thy Beloved gone? so that the Church was beholding to [Page 436] the daughters of Hierusalem for ministring such a question to give her occasion to know better what her beloved was, indeed we many times gaine by weaker Christians, good questions, though from weake ones, minister suteable answers, it is a greeke Proverbe, that doubting begets plenty and aboundance, for doubting at the first begets resolution at last. O that we could take occasion hence, to thinke of this, what ex­cellent vertue is in the communion of Saints, when they meet about heavenly exercises, what a blessing followes, when though at the en­try, their affections may be flat and dull, yet they part not so, Christ heates and in [...]ames their hearts to doe mu [...]h good to one another. O those that shall forever live together in Heaven should they not de­light to live more together on earth.

The end of the eighteenth Sermon.

THE NINETEENTH SERMON.

CANT. VI. II.‘I am my Beloveds and my Be­loved is mine, he feedeth among the Lillies.’

THese words are a kinde of triumphant acclamation upon all the former pas­sages, as it were the foot of the Song, for when the Church had spoken for­merly of her ill dealing with Christ, and how he thereupon absented himselfe from her, with many other passages, she shuts up all at last with this, I am [...]y Be­loveds [Page 438] and my Beloved is mine

Now she begins to feele some comfort from Christ, who had estranged himselfe from her, O, (saith she) notwithstanding all my suf­ferings, desertions, crosses, and the like, I am my Beloveds and my Beloved is mine. Words expressing the wondrous comfort, joy, and con­tentment, the Church now had in Christ, ha­ving her heart inflamed with love unto him, upon his manifesting of himselfe to her soule, I am my Beloveds and my Beloved is mine, hee [...]cedeth among the Lillies.

There is a mutuall intercourse, and vicissit [...]de of claiming interest betwixt Christ and his Church, I am Christs and Christ is mine, [...] am my Beloveds and my Beloved is mine.

From the dependance an [...] order of the words, comming in after▪ desertion for a while, observe,

That Christ will not be long from his Church.Observ.

The spirituall desertions (forsakings as we use to call them) howsoever they be very irksome to the Church (that loves commu­nion with Christ) and to aloving soule, to be deprived of the sence of her beloved, yet not­withstanding they are but short,Why Christ cannot be long abs [...]nt from his Church. Christ will not be long from his Church, his love, and her desire will not let him, they offer violence, why art thou absent (say they) why art thou so farre off, and hidest thy selfe? Ioseph may conceale himselfe for a space, but he will have much adoe so to hold long, to be straightned to [Page 439] his brethren, passion will breake out. So Christ may seeme hard to be intreeated, and to crosse his owne sweet disposition, as to the wo­man of Caanan, but he will not long keepe at this distance, he is soone overcome, O woman great is thy Faith, have what thou wilt, when she strove with him a little (as Faith is a stri­ving grace) see how she did winne upon him. So the Angell and Iaacob may strive for a while, but Iaac [...]b at the length prooves Israel, he pre­vailes with God. So it is with the Christian soule and Christ, howsoever there be deser­tion (for causes before mentioned) because the Church was negligent (as we heare) and partly for the time to come, that Christ by his estrangement might sweeten his comming againe, howsoever there may be strangenesse for a time, yet Christ will returne againe to his Spouse.

The Use should be,Vse. 1. not onely for Comfort, to stay us in such times, c [...]ns [...]lation to support us in de sertion. but to teach us likewise to waite and never give ever, If the Church had given over here she had not had such gratious manifestations of Christ to her: learne hence therefore this use, to waite Gods leasure. God will waite to doe good to them that waite on him: if we waite his leisure,Isa. 30. [...]8. he will waite an opportunity of doing good to us, when God seemes not to answer our prayers, let us yet waite, we shall not loose by our tarrying, he will waite to doe us good.

In the next place observe after this tempo­rary [Page 440] desertion, Christ visits his Church with more aboundant comfort then ever before.

Now the Church cannot hold, My Beloved is mine and I am his, That [...] loose nothing by our largenesse of af­fection to Christ for his returne to ours is excee­ding ours. and Christ cannot hold, but fals into a large commendation of his Spouse backe againe; as she was large in his commen­dations, so he is large in hers, and more large, he will have the last word, therefore learne by this experience: that all things worke toge­ther for the best to them that love God: all things.Rom. 8. 28. What evill? I evill; why even sinne turnes to their humiliation, yea and disertion (those spirituall ills) turnes to their good, for Christ seemes to forsake for a while that he may come after with more aboundance of com­fort, when once he hath enlarged the soule be­fore with a spatious desire of his comming, to say, O that he would come, when the soule is thus stretched with desire in the sence of want, then he fils it againe till it burst soorth, My Beloved is mine and I am his▪ it was a good ex­periment of Bernard, and holy man in ill times tibi accidit, &c. speaking of Christs dealing with his Church, he comes and he goeth a­way for thy good, he comes for thy good to comfort thee, after which is thou be not care­full to mainetaine communion with him, then he goeth away for thy good to correct thy er­ror, and to enlarge thy desire of him againe, to teach thee to lay sure and faster hold upon him when thou hast him, not to let him goe againe.

[Page 441] If you would see a paralell place to [...],That after seek­ing of Christ in all his means we must wai [...]e for him looke in Cant. [...] where there is the like case [...]t the [...]pouse and Christ, By night on my bed I sought him, the Church sought Christ not onely by [...]ay but by night, I sought him whom my s [...]le loved, though she wanted him, yet her soule loved him constantly, though a Christians soule have not present communion with Christ, yet he may truely say, my soule loves him, be­cause she seekes him diligently and constant­ly in the use of all the meanes, so we see the Church before my text, cals him my be­loved still though she wanted communion with him,This is the surest token of our servent [...] to Christ. well she goes on, I sought him, but I found him not, would the Church give over there? no, then she riseth and goeth about the citty and about the streets and seekes him whom her soule loved, seekes him and will not give ove [...]. So I sought him (but I wanted the issue of my seeking) [...] found him not, what comes upon that, The Watchmen god about the City and find her, of whom, when by her own seeking she could not finde Christ, she inquires, Saw you him whom my s [...]le loveth, she enquires of the Watchmen, the guides of Gods people, who could not satisfie her fully, she could not find her beloved, yet what doth she, she shewes Verse 4. It was but a li [...]le that she stayed (after she had used all meanes private and publike, in her bed, out of her bed, by the Watchmen and others: yet saith she, it was but a little that I was past from them, she had not an answer [Page 442] presently, though the Watchmen gave her some good counsell, it was not presently, yet not long after. Christ will exercise us a while with waiting It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soule loved. After all our seeking there must be waiting, and then we shall finde him whom our soule loveth: perhaps we have used all meanes pri­vate and publike, and yet finde not that com­fort we look for, O but waite a while, God hath a long time waited for thee, be thou content to waite a while for him,If God waite long for us, it is equi [...]y to waite for him▪ we shall not loose by it, for it followes in the next verse, after she had found him whom her soule loved, I held him, I would not let him goe, so this is the issue of desertions, they stirre up diligence and search­ing in the use of meanes private and publike, and exercise patience to waite Gods leisure, who will not suffer a gratious soule to faile of its expectation,Psal. 14 [...] at length he will fulfill the de­sires of them that feare him, and this comes of their patience, grace growes greater and stronger, I held him and would not let him goe, untill I had brought him unto my mothers house. Thus you see how the Spirit expresseth the sametruthin another state of the Church Com­pare place with place. To goe on, I am my Beloveds and my Beloved is mine.

The words themselves are a passionate ex­pression of long lookt for consolation. Affecti­ons have eloquence of their own beyond words feare hath a proper expression, love vents it selfe [Page 443] in broken words, & sighs, delighting in a peculiar eloquence suitable to the height and pitch of the affection, that no words can reach unto, so that here is more in the words breath'd from such an inflamed heart the [...] in ordinary constru­ction can bee pickt out (I am my Bel [...]veds, &c) comming from a full and large heart, expressing the union and communion between Christ & the Church (especially after a desertion) I am my Beloveds and my Beloved is mine. That there must be union of per­sons, before uni­on and commu­nion of graces with Christ.

First, (I say) the union, viz. the union of persons which is before all comfort and com­munion of graces, I am my Beloveds and my Beloved is mine, Christs person is ours, and our persons are his: for as it is in marriage, if the person of the husband be not the wives, his goods are not hers, nor his titles of honour; for these come all to her, because his person is hers, he having passed over the right of his owne body and of his person to his wife, as she hath passed over all the right of her selfe to her husband so it is in this mysticall marriage that that intitles us to communion of graces is union of persons betweene Christ and his Church, I am my Beloveds and my Beloved himselfe is mine; And indeed nothing els will content a Christians heart, he would not care so much for Heaven it selfe, if he had not Christ there▪ the Sacrament, Word, and Comforts why doth he esteeme them, as they come from Christ and as they leade to Christ, it is but an adulterous and base affection to love any thing severed from Christ.

[Page 444] Now from this union of persons comes a communion of all other things whatsoever,That from [...] of persons comes commu [...]nion of [...] things what soe­v [...]r. I am my Beloveds and my Beloved is mine, if Christ himselfe be mine, then all is mine, what he hath done, what he hath suffered is mine, the benefit of all is mine, what he hath is mine, his prerogatives and priviledges to be the Son of God and heire of Heaven and the like, all is mine, why [...] himselfe is mine, union is the foundation of communion. So it is here with the Church, I am my Beloveds, my person is his, my life is his, to glorifie him, and to lay it downe when he will, my goods are his, my reputation his, I am content to sacrifice all for him, I am his, all mine is his: so you see there is union and communion mutually betweene Christ and his Church. The Originall and spring hereof is Christs uniting and commu­nicating himselfe to his Church first, the spring begins to the streame, what hath the streame or cesterne in it, but what is had from the spring; first we love him,1 John 4. 19 because he loved us first. It was a true speech of Augustine, Quicquid bo­ [...], &c, whatsoever is good in the world or lovely it is either God or from God, it is ei­ther Christ or from Christ, he begins it: it is said in nature, love descends, the father and the mother love the child before the child can love them, love indeed is of a fiery nature, onely here is the dissimilitude, fire ascends, love descends, it is stronger descending from the greater to the lesse, then ascending up from [Page 445] the meaner to the greater, and that for this, Amongst other reasons,Why the mag­nanimi [...]y of the greater stoopes in love to the lesser. Because the greater person lookes upon the lesser as a peece of himselfe: sees himselfe in it, the father and mother see themselves in their childe: so God loves us more then we can love him, because he sees his image in us; neither is there only a pri­ority of order, he loves us first, and then wee love him, but also of causality, he is the cause of our love, not by way of motive onely, hee loves us, and therefore from an ingenious spirit we must love him againe, but he gives us his Spirit,Deut. 30. circumciseth our hearts to love him: for all the motives or morall perswasions in the world without the Spirit cannot make us love,1 Thes. 4 9. we are taught of God to love one another, our bre­thren whom we see daily, saith Paul, much more need we to be taught to love him whom we ne­ver saw,That in the new covenant God works both parts. so that his love kindles ours by way of reflection.

In the New-Covenant, God works both parts, his owne and our parts too, our love to him, our feare of him, our faith in him, hee works all, even as he shewes his own love to us.

If God love us thus,How to have our hearts war­med with the love of God. what must we doe? me­ditate upon his love, let our hearts be warmed with the consideration of it, let us bring them to that fire of his love, [...]sal. 39. and then they will wax hot within us, and beg the Spirit,I [...]uk. [...]. Lord thou hast promised to give thy Spirit to them that aske it, and to circumcise our hearts to love thee, and to love one another, give thy holy [Page 446] Spirit as thou hast promised.That this [...] of the Church implies

In a word these words, I am my Bel [...]veds and my Beloved is mine, to joyne them both 1 together, they imply a mutuall propriety, Christ h [...]th a propriety in me,Propriety and [...] in Christ peculiar propriety, Christ is mine, so as I have none in the world so mine, whom have [...] in Heaven but Christ, and what is there in earth in comparison of him, he is mine, and mine in a peculiar manner, and J am his in a pe­culiar manner, there is propriety with pecu­liarity▪

2 Then againe these words I am his, implies [...] love,Love. all is mutuall in them, mutuall propriety, mutuall peculiarity and mutuall love, I love Christ so as I love nothing else, there is nothing above him in my heart, as Christ loves me more then any thing else (saith the Church) and every Christian: he loves all, and gives outward benefits to all, but to me he hath given himselfe, so love I him. As the husband loves all in the family, his cattell and his servants, but he gives himselfe to his Spouse. So Christ is mine, himselfe is mine, and my selfe a [...] Christs, he hath my soule, my affections, my body, and all, he hath a [...] in me and a peculiarity in me, hee hath my affection and love to the uttermost, as I have his, for there is an entercourse in these words.

3 Then againe, they imply mutuall familiarity,F [...]miliarity. Christ is familiar to my soule and I to Christ, [Page 447] he discovers himselfe to me in the [...] of hi [...] love, and I discover my selfe to him in prayer and meditation, opening my soule to him upon all occasions. Gods children have a [...] of prayer, which is a spirit of fellowship, and [...] (as it were) to God in Christ; It is the lan­guage of a new borne Christian, he [...] to his Father, there is a kinde of familia [...]ity be­tweene him and his God in Christ, who gives the entrance and accesse to God, so that where there is not a kinde of familiarity in prayer and opening of the soule to Christ upon all occa­sions, there is not this holy communion. Those that are not given to prayer, they cannot in truth speake these words, as the Church doth here, I [...] my Beloveds and my [...] is mine, for they imply sweet familiarity.

4 Then againe they imply mutuall [...] one to another, [...] he is mine and I am his, the one is a glasse to the other, Christ sees him­selfe in me, I see my selfe in him, for this is the issue of spirituall love, especially that is breeds likenesse and resemblance of the party loved in the soule that loveth: for love [...] the soule to the likenesse of the party loved, I am his,That love [...] the soule to the likenesse of the [...] l [...]ved. I resemble him, I am his, I have given my selfe to him, I carry his picture and resem­blance in my soule, for theyare words of mu­tuall confor [...]ity. Christ out of love became like me in all things, wherein I am not like the Divell (that is [...] excepted) if he [...] like me, taking my nature that I might [Page 448] be neare him in the fellowship of grace, My Beloved is mine, I will be as like him as possible I can, I am his, every Christian carries a character of Christs disposition as farre as weak­nesse will suffer, you may know Christ in every Christian, for as the Kings coyne carries the stamp of the King, C [...]sars coyne beares Caesars superscription. So every Christian soule is Gods coyne, and he sets his owne stampe upon it, if wee bee Christs, there is a mutuall conformitie betwixt him and us.

Now where you see a malitious, uncleane, worldly spirit, know that is a stampe of the Divell, none of Christs, he that hath not the Spirit of God is none of his, now where the Spirit of Christ is, i [...] stamps Christs likenesse upon the soule, therefore we are exhorted, Phil. 2. 5. to be like minded to Christ.

Againe,Mutuall care of one anothers good. these words, I am my Beloveds and my Beloved is mine, imply a mutuall care that Christ and the soule have one of the good of another, of each others honour and reputation, as Christ hath a care of our good; so a Christ­ian soule (if it can say with truth and sincerity I am Christs) it must needs have care of Christs good,What Christ bath to care for in the world. of his children, Religion and Truth. What? will such a soule say, shall Christ care for my body, soule and salvation, and stoope to come from Heaven to save me, and shall I have no care for him and his glory? hee hath left his truth and his Church behind him, [Page 449] and shall not I defend his truth and stand for the poore Church to the utmost of my power against all contrary power? shall not J stand for Religion? shall it be all one to me, what opinions are held? shall I pretend he cares for me, and shall I not care for that I should care for; Is it not an honour to me that he hath trusted me to care for any thing that he will be honoured by my care, Beloved it is an ho­nour for us that we may speake a good word for Religion, for Christs cause, for his Church against maligners and opposers, and we shall know one day that Christ will be a rewarder of every good word: where this is said in since­rity, that Christ is mine and I am Christs, there will be this mutuall care.

Likewise there is implyed a mutuall com­placency in these words,A [...] com­placency or re­sting love. by a complacency I meane a resting, contenting love, Christ hath a complacency and resting in the Church, and the Church hath a sweet resting content­ment in Christ; Christ in us and we in him. A true Christian soule that hath yeelded. up its consent to Christ, when it is beaten in the world, vexed and turmoiled, it can rely on this, I have yet a loving husband, yet I have Christ.

Let this put us upon a search into our selves,What we should retire to and do in afflictions. what we retire to when we meete with afflicti­ons, those that have brutish and beastly soules retire to carnall contentments, to good fellow­ship, forget, besot, and fly away from them­selves [Page 450] their owne consciences and though [...] of their own trouble, wheras a soule that [...] any acquaintance with God in Christ or any interest into Christ, so that it may say that Christ is mine and I am Christs there will be contentment and rest in such a soule, whatsoever it meetes with 7 in the world.Is courage in owning Christs cause with re [...]solution for the Church is reso [...]lute

The last thing implyed is courage, a branch of the former, say all against it what they can, saith the resolved soule, I will be Christs, here is courage with resolution, agreeable hereto is that, Isa 44. 5. One shall say I am the Lords, and another shall call himselfe by the name of Iaacob, another shall subscribe and surname himselfe by the name of Israel. Where there is not this resolution in good causes, there is not the Spirit of Christ, there is no [...] into Christ, it is but a delusion and selfe-flat­tery to say I am Christs, when there is not re­solution to stand to Christ, these words are the expression of a resolved heart, I am, and J will be Christs, I am not ashamed of my bar­gaine, of the consent I have given him, I am and I will be his. You have the like in Micah 4. 5. Mica. 4▪ 5. All people will walke every one in the name of his god, they will resolve on that, and we will walke in the name of the Lord our God for ever and for ever: so that where these words are spoken in truth, that J am Christs, there is necessarily implyed, I will owne him and his cause for ever and ever. He hath married, me for ever and ever, there­fore [Page 451] if J hope to have inte [...]st in him for com­fort for ever and ever, I must be sure to yeeld my selfe to him for ever and ever, and stand for his cause in all oppositions against all ene­mies whatsoever. These and such like pla­ces in Scripture runne parralell with this in the text, I am my Beloveds and my Beloved is mine, not onely holding in the person, but in the cause of Christ. Every man hopes his god will stand for him against the Divell who accuseth us daily: if we will have Christ to stand for us and to be an advocate to pleade our ca [...]se (as he doth) in Heaven, we must resolve to stand for him against all enemies, Heretiks, Schismaticks, Persecutors whatsoever, that we will walke in the name of our God for ever and ever.

But when the case is not thus with us, and that neither we can feele comfort from Christ,Quest. nor have this assurance of his love to us, what should we judge of such?

We should not wonder to see poore soules distempered when they are in spirituall deser­tions,Sol. considering how the Spouse cannot en­dure the absence of Christ,That we should not wonder to see [...] it is out of love, therefore in the deepest plunge she hath this in her mouth, my Beloved. Therefore let us not judge [...] of our selves or others, when we are impatient in this kind.

But for a more full answer, in [...] of feeling of the love of Christ in regard of that measure we would (for there is never altogether a [Page 452] want of feeling) there is so much as keepes from despaire alway, yet if we carry a con­stant love towards him, mourne to him and seeke after him as the Church here: if the de­sire of our soules be after him, that we make after him in the use of meanes, and are willing to speake of him, as the Church here, feele or feele not we are his, and he will at length disco­ver himselfe to us.

Let such drooping spirits consider, that as he will not be long from us, nor wholly: so it shall not be for our disadvantage that he retires at all, his absence at length will end in a sweet discovery of himselfe more aboundantly then before,Causes; w [...]y God absents himselfe from his children. he absents himselfe for our good, to make us more humble and watchfull for the time to come, more pitifull to others, more to prize our former condition, to justifie the waies of God more strictly, to walke with him, to re­gaine that sweet communion which by our negligence and security we lost, when we are thus prepared by his absence, there insues a more satisfying discovery of himselfe then ever before.

But when is the time that he comes,When usually Christ returnes after desertion to the soule com­pare this with the former Chapter, he comes af­ter long waiting for him, the Church waited for him, and waited in the use of all meanes, she runs to the Watchmen, and then enquires after him of the daughters of Ierusalem, after this she finds him. After we have waited and expected Christ in the use of meanes, Christ at length will [Page 453] discover himselfe to us, and yet more imme­diately it was after the Church had so deser­vedly exalted him in such lofty praises, This is my Beloved, the chiefe of tenne thousand, he is altogether lovely: When we set our hearts to the high exaltation of Christ above all things in the world, proclaiming him the chi [...]fe of tenne thousand, this at the last breeds a gra­tious discovery, I am my Beloveds and my Be­loved is mine, for Christ when he sees us faith­full and so loving that we will not endure his absence, and so constantly loving, that we love him notwithstanding so [...]e discouragements, it melts him at the last as, Ioseph was melted by his brethren.

I am my Beloveds and my Beloved is mine.

In the words you see a mutuall interest and owning betweene Christ and the Church,That in order of nature Christ is ours first, though in order of knowing it is not so. how­soever in the order of words, the Church saith, I am my Beloveds first, yet in order of nature, Christ is ours first, though not in order of dis­covery, there is one order of knowing and another order of causing, many things are knowne by the effect, but they issue from a cause; I know he is mine, because J am his, I have given my selfe to him, J know it is day, because the Sunne is up, there is a proofe from the effect: so I know a man is alive, because he walks, there is a proofe of the cause by the effect, I am his, I have grace to give my selfe up to him, therefore I know he loves me, he is mine, thus I say in order of discovery, but in [Page 454] order of nature he is first mine, and then I am his, My Beloved is mine and I am my Beloveds.

The Union and Communion betwixt us and Christ hath beene already spoken off.

Now to speake of the branches, I am my Be­loveds and my Beloved is mine. That Christ is first ours, and then we are his because he is ours, and the wondrous comfort that issues hence, that Christ himselfe is ours.

How comes Christ to be ours,How Christ comes to be ours Christ is o [...]rs by his Fathers gift, God hath given him for 1 us. Christ is ours by his owne gift, he hath given himselfe for us.By his owne & his Fathers gift

2 And Christ is ours by his Spirit that wit­nesseth so much to our spirits,By his Spirit. for the Spirit is given for this purpose, to shew us all things that are given us of God, whereof Christ is the chiefe, therefore the Spirit of Christ tels us that Christ is ours, and Christ being ours, all that he hath is ours.

If he be ours, if we have the field, we have all the treasures in the field, if we have him, we have all his, he was borne for us, his birth was for us, he became man for us, he was given to death for us, and so likewise he is ours in his other estate of exaltation, his rising is for our good, he will cause us to rise also, and ascend with him, and sit in heavenly places, judging the world and the Angells. We recover in this second,Vse. 1. what we lost in the first Adam.

This is a point of wondrous comfort to shew the riches of a Christian,Consolation. his high estate, that Christ is his.

[Page 455]And Christ being ours, God the Father and the Holy Spirit and all things else in the world, the rich promises are ours: for in Christ they are all made, and for him they shall be perfor­med,2 Cor. 1. 20. for indeed he is the chiefe promise of all himselfe, and all are yea and amen in him. Can we want righteousnesse, while we have Christs Righteousnesse, is not his garment large enough for himselfe and us too? is not his obedience enough for us? shall we need to patch it up with our owne righteousnesse? he is ours, therefore his obedience is ours.

And this should be a ground likewise of contentation in our condition and state what­soever,Vse. 2. Christ himselfe is ours.Contentation. In the divi­ding of all things, some men have wealth, honours, friends and greatnesse, but not Christ, nor the love of God in Christ; and therefore they have nothing in mercy: but a Christian he hath Christ himselfe, Christ is his by faith and by the Spirits witnesse, therefore what if he want those appendencies, the lesser things, he hath the maine, what if he want a riveret, a streame, he hath the spring, the ocean, him in whom all things are, and shall he not be content. Put case a man be very cove [...]ous, yet God might satisfie him, what should anxious thoughts disquiet us. When we have such bils, such obligations from him who is faithfullnesse it selfe, when a Christian cannot say, honour favour, or great persons are his, yet he can say, he hath that that is worth all, more then all, Christ is his.

[Page 456] O may some say,Object this is but a speculation, Christ is yours, a man may want and be in misery for all that,Answ. no it is a reality, Christ is ours,Why sometimes wee want out ward things be­ing in C [...]rist. and all things else are ours, he that can command all things is mine, why then doe I want other things? because he sees they are not for my good, if they were he would not with-hold them from me, if there were none to be had without a miracle, no comfort, no friends, he could and would make new out of nothing, nay out of contraries, were it not better for me to be without them.

That you may the more fully feed on this comfort,Vse. 3. study the excellencies of Christ in the Scripture,Exhortation to study the excel­leny of Christ. the riches and honour that he hath,John 17. ult. the favour he is in with his Father, with the intercession that he makes in Heaven, study his mercy, goodnesse, offices, power, &c. and then come home to your selves, all this is mine, for he is mine, the love of God is mine, God loves him and therefore he loves me, because we are both one, he loves me with the same love that he loves his Sonne, thus we should make use of this, that Christ is ours. I come to the second,

I am my Beloveds.

This is a speech of reflection, second in na­ture, though first in place and in discovery to us, sometimes we can know our owne love, when we feele not so much the love of Christ,1 John. 4. 19. but Christs love must be there first, I am my Be­loveds.

[Page 457]How are we Christs Beloved,How we come to be and are in Christ beloved. we are his first of all by his Fathers gift, for God in his eternall purpose gave him for us, and gives us to him, as it is in the excellent prayer, Iohn 17.1 Father thine they were and thou gavest them me.By his Fathers gift. I had not them of my selfe first, but thine they were before all worlds were, thou ga­vest them me to redeeme them, and my Com­mission doth not extend beyond thy gift; I die for all those that thou gavest me, I sanctisie my selfe for them that they may be sanctified, so we are Christs in his Fathers gift, but that is not all, though it be the chiefe fundamentall principall ground of all.

For we are his likewise by Redemption, Christ 2 tooke our nature,By Redemption. that hee might die for us to purchase us. We cost him deare, we are a blou­dy Spouse to Christ, as that froward woman wrongfully said to Moses, Exod. 4. [...]5. thou art a bloudy husband unto me, so Christ may without wrong say to the Church, thou art a Spouse of bloud to me. We were indeed to be his Spouse, but first he must win us by conquest in regard of Satan, and then satisfie justice, we were in such debt by finne, lying under Gods wrath, so as till all debts were paid, we could not in the way of justice be given as a Spouse to Christ.

Nor is this all, but we are Christs by Mar­riage 3 also,By Marriage. for when he purchased us, and paid so deare for us, when he died and satisfied di­vine justice, he did it with a purpose to marry us to himselfe, we have nothing to bring him [Page 458] but debt and misery, yet he tooke upon him our nature to discharge all, that he might marrie us, and take us to himselfe, so we are his by Mar­riage.

4 Then againe we are his by Consent, we have passed our selves over u [...]to him,By con [...]ent. he hath given himselfe to us, and we have given our selves to him back againe. To co [...]e to some Use of it, if we be Christs as Christ is ours,

First it is a point of wondrous comfort,Vse 1. God will not suffer his owne to want,Consolation a­gainst wants. he is worse then an Insidell that will suffer his Family to perish; when we are once of Christs Family, and not onely of his F [...]mily, but of his body, his Spouse. Can we thinke he will suffer us to want that which is needfull?

2 Then againe, as it comforts us against want, so it likewise senceth us against all the accusati­ons of Satan,Against all Sa­tans accusati­ons. I am Christs, I am Christs, if hee have any thing to say, loe we may bid him goe to Christ, if the Creditor comes to the wife, she is not liable to pay her owne debts, but saith, goe to my husband; so in all temptations learne hence, to send Satan whither he should be sent, when we cannot answer him, send him to Christ.

3 And for the time to come,For the tim [...] to co [...]e. what a ground of comfort is this, that we are Christs as well as he is ours; what a plea doth this put into our mouthes for all things that are beneficiall to us, Lord I am thine, save me (saith the Psalmist) why? save me, beca [...]se I am thine, I am thine, [Page 459] Lord teach me and direct me. The husband is to direct the Spouse, the head should direct all the senses: All the treasures of wisedome are in Christ, as all the senses are in the head for the good of the body, all fullnesse dwells in him, therefore pleade with him, I want wisedome, teach me and instruct me how to behave my selfe in troubles, in dangers, in feares; if it be an argument strong enough amongst men (weake men) J am thine, I am thy child, J am thy Spouse, &c. Shall we attribute more pitty and mercie to our selves then to the God of mercy and comfort, who planted these affecti­ons in the creature? Shall hee make men tender and carefull over others, and shall not he himselfe be carefull of his owne flock? doe wee thinke that hee will neglect his Jewels,I [...] 62. 3. his Spouse, his Diadem and Crowne? he will not.

But you will urge expe [...]ience, we see how the Church is used even as a forlorne widdow, as if she had no husband in the world, as an Orphan that had no Father; therefore how doth this stand good.

The answer is,Answer 1. all that the Church or any particular Christian suffers in this world,That the suffe­rings both of the church and particular per­sons is especially for cons [...]rmity with Christ the head. it is but that there may be a conformity betweene the Spouse and the Husband. The Head wore a Crowne of thornes, and went to heaven and happinesse through a great deale of misery and abasement in the world, the lowest that ever was: And it is not meet that the Church should go to heaven another way.

[Page 460] Then againe, all this is but to fashion the 2 Spouse to be like to Christ, but to bring the Church and Christ neerer together,To fashion her to be like Christ that is all the hurt they doe, to drive the Church neerer to Christ then before, Christ is as neere to his Church as ever in the greatest afflictions by his Spirit,That though Christ see [...]e absent in affli­ction, yet he is never more grationsly nee­rer then then, Christ cries out on the Crosse, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me; it is a strange voice, that God should be his God, and yet notwithstanding seeme to forsake him. But God was never more his God then at that present; indeed he was not his God in regard of some feelings that he had enjoyed in former times, he seemed to bee forsaken in regard of some sence, as Christ seemes to forsake the Church in regard of some sence and feeling, but yet his God still. So the Church may say, I am thine still, though she seeme to be forsa­ken in regard of some feelings, yet she is not deserted in regard of Gods care for support of the inward man and fashioning to Christ. The Church hath never sweeter communion with Christ,That the swee­test Communion with Christ is under the grea­test crosses. then under the greatest crosses, and ther­fore they many times have proved the ground of the greatest comforts, for Christ leades the Church into the wildernesse, and then speakes to her heart, H [...]sea 2. 14. Christ speakes to the heart of his Spouse in the wildernesse, that is, in a place of no comfort, there are no Or­chards or pleasures, but all discomforts, there a man must have it from heaven, if he have any good in the wildernesse. In that wildernesse [Page 461] that is in a desolate disconsolate estate; Christ speakes to the heart of his children, there is in the wildernesse oftentimes a sweet intercourse of love incomparably beyond the time of prosperity.

Againe, to stay your hearts, know this will not be long, as we see here the Church seemed to be forsaken and neglected, fell into the hands of cruell Watchmen, and was faine to goe through this and that meanes, but it was not long ere she met with him whom she sought after. It may be midnight at this time, but the night continues not long, it will be morning ere long. Therefore the Church may well say, Rejoyce not against me O mine enemy, Micah 7. 8. as it is Micah 7. For though I be fallen I shall rise againe, though I sit in darknesse, the Lord will bee a light unto me. It shall not be alway ill with the Church, those that survive us shall see other manner of daies then we see yet (whatsoever we shall our selves) Hence we have also an Use of triall;Tria [...]l if or not wee bee Christs by giving our selves over to him to bee ruled by him. Whosoever are Christs, they have hearts to give themselves to him, as hee gives himselfe, not his goods or his honours, but himselfe for his Church. So the Church gives her selfe to Christ, my delight is in him, he hath my selfe, my heart, my love and affecti­on, my joy and delight, and all with my selfe, if I have any honour, he shall have it, I will use it for his glory, my riches I will give them to him and his Church and Ministery and Chil­dren, (as occasion shall serve). I am his, ther­fore [Page 462] all that I have is his if he aske it at my hands.That after wee have given our selves to Christ it is an [...] matter to part with all things unto him. It is said of the Macedonians, they gave themselves to Christ, and then their riches and goods, it is an easie matter to give our riches to Christ when wee have given our selves rst. A Christian as soone as ever he becomes a Christian, [...] Cor. 8. 5. and ever after to death and in death too, he gives up himselfe to Christ? they that stand with Christ, and will give this or that particular, will part onely with idle things that they may spare, are they Christs, No, a Christian gives himselfe, and all his to Christ: so we see here what we should doe if Christ be ours, let us give up our selves to him, as it is Rom. 12. the issue of all that learned profound discourse in the former part of the Epistle that Christ justifieth us by his righte­ousnesse and merit, and sanctifies us by his Spirit, and hath predestinated and elected us and refused others, is this, I beseech you, Give up your bodies and soules, and all as a living Sacrifice, That the Churches [...]fi [...]dence implies [...] &c resignation in a deepe sence. holy and accept ableunto God.

In briefe these words imply renunciation and resignation, I am his, that is I have given up my selfe to him, therefore I renounce all others that [...]and not with his love and liking. I am not onely his by way of service, which I owe him above all that call for it, but J am his by way of resignation, if he will have me dye, I will dye, if he will have me live heere, I will, I have not my selfe to dispose of any longer, I have altogether alienated my selfe. [Page 463] from my selfe, I am his, to serve him, his to be disposed off by him, I have renounced all other.

Therefore here we have another answer to Satan,Answ. if he come to us and solicite us to sinne, let the Christians heart make this answer,An answer to satan against dispaire or [...] in temptation I am not mine owne, what hath Satan and his instruments to doe with me? is my body his to defile, is my tongue his to sweare at his pleasure, shall I make the temple of God the member of an harlot?1 Cor. 6. [...]5. (as the Apostle reasons) shall I defile my vessell with sinne? What saith con­verted Ep [...]r [...]m, Hosea 14. 8. What have I any more to doe with Id [...]ls, for I have seene and obser­ved him. We ought to have such resolutions ready in our hearts: indeed when a Christian is resolute, the world counts such to be lost, hee is gone, we have lost him, say your dissolute prosane persons It is true they have lost him in­deed, for he is not his owne, much lesse theirs any longer, but he is found to God and him­selfe, and the Church, thus we se [...] what springs from this, that Christ is ours, and that we are Christs backe againe. Let us carry this with us even to death, and if times should come that God should honour us by serving himselfe of us in our lives, if Christ will have us spend our blood, consider this I am not mine owne in life nor death,That it is our exceeding hap­pines that now we are not our owne. and it is my happinesse that I am not my owne, for if J were mine owne what should I doe with my selfe, I should loose my selfe as Adam did. It is therefore my hap­pinesse that I am not mine owne, that J am not [Page 464] the worlds, that I am not the Divells, that none else hath to doe with me, to claime any interest in me, but I am Christs, if I doe any thing for others, it is for Christs sake. Remember this for the time to come, if there be any thing that wee will not p [...]rt with for Christs sake, it will be our bane, we shall loose Christ and it too. If we will not say with a perfect Spirit, I am his, my life, my credit, my per­son is his, any thing his, looke what we will not give for him, at length we shall loose and part with it and him too.

The end of the nineteenth Sermon.

THE TWENTIETH SERMON.

CANT. VI. II.‘I am my Beloveds and my Be­loved is mine, hefeedeth among the Eillies.’

THE Church you see here, though she stood out a while against all Christs invitation and knocking, yet at length shee is brought to yeeld herselfe up wholy unto Christ, and to renounce her selfe, which course God takes with most, yea in a manner with all his [Page 464] [...] [Page 465] [...] [Page 466] people are they goe out of this world to lay all high thing [...] low, beate downe every high thought and imagination, which exalteth it selfe against him,2 Cor 10. that they may give themselves and all they have to Christ,Luk 14. [...]6. if he call for it, for he that doth not so is not worthy of Christ, if we doe not this at least in preparation of minde, let us not owne the name of Christians, least we owne that which shall further increase and ag­grava [...] our condemnation, prosessing religion one way, &yet alienating our minds to our lusts and pleasures of the world another way, to have peculiar love [...]its of our owne distinct from Christ, how stands this, with, I am my Beloveds and my Beloved is mine, how stands it with the self resignation that was spoken off before.

Now this followes upon apprehension of Christ being ours,Reasons of selfe resignation to Christ being perswaded that [...] is ours. I am my Beloveds, because my [...] is [...] first, there are foure reasons why Christ must be given to us, before wee can give our selves to him by this selfe resigna­tion.

1. Because he is the chiefe spring of all good af­fections, which he must plant in us, loving us, ere we can love him, 1. Ioh. 4. 10, 19.

2. Because love descends, though it be of a fiery nature, yet in this it is contrary, for love descends, whereas fire ascends, the superiour first loves the inferiour, Christ must descend in his love to us, ere we can ascend to him in our affections.

3. Because our nature is such that wee cannot [Page 467] love but where we know [...] selves to be loved [...], therefore God is indulgent to us herein, and that we may love him he manifests his love first to us.

4. Because naturally [...] selves being c [...]nscious of guilt are full of fears from thence: so that if the soule be not perswaded first of Christs love, it [...] away form him, as Adam did from God, and as Peter from Christ: depart from me for I am but a sinnefull man So the soule of every man would say if first it were not perswaded of Gods love in Christ,Isa. 33. who amongst us shall dwell with the everlasting burning, therefore to prevent that disposition of soule, which would rise our of the sence of guilt and unwor­thinesse, God first speakes to us in Christ; at length saying unto our soules, I am thy [...]al­vation, Whereupon the soule first finding his love, loves him backe againe of whom it [...]inds if selfe so much beloved, so that our love is but a reflection of his, I am my Beloveds, because my Beloved is mine.

It is with the Spirit of God, as with the spi­rits in the soule and body of a man, there is a marriage betwixt the body and soule, the spirits joyne both together, being of a middle nature, for they have somewhat spirituall neare the soule, and somewhat bodily neare the bo­dy, therefore they come betweene the body and the soule, and are the instruments th [...]reof, whereby it workes. So it is with the Spir [...]t of God, the same Spirit that tells the soule that [Page 468] Christ is ours, the same Spirit makes up the match on our part, and gives us up to Christ againe.

Let this then bee the tryall, that wee are Christs by the spirituall Eccoe that our soules makes to that report which Christ makes to our soules, whether in promises or in instructi­ons.

See hence likewise,Vse. I. the nature of Faith: for these are the words of Faith,Of Instruction. as well as of love,That faith hath a double worke, as to receive Christ, so to give us backe a­gaine to Christ. Faith hath two branches, it doth give as well as take. Faith receives Christ, and sayes, Christ is mine, and the same Faith saith, I am Christs againe. Indeed our soules are empty, so that the maine worke of Faith is to be an empty hand, Mendica manus, (as Luther calls it) a beggers hand to receive, but when it hath received, it gives backe againe, both our selves and all that we can doe. as 2. Cor. 8. 5. the Churches of Macedonia gave themselves, and then they gave their goods. Where Faith is, there will be a giving of our selves and our goods, and (by a proportion) our strength, wits and all backe againe. This discovers a great deale of empty false Faith in the world, for undoubtedly if it were true Faith, there would be a yeelding backe againe.

And againe,That the Churches confi­dence [...]he [...]es a mutuall coun­terview of just­ification and santification. these words discover the mu­tuall coherence of Iustification and Sanctifica­tion, and the dependance one upon another, I am my Beloveds and my Beloved is mine, Christ is mine, his righteousnesse is mine for my [Page 469] iusti­fication, I am clothed with Christ, as it is, Rev [...]. 12. The Spouse there is cloathed with the Sunne, with the beames of Christ: but is that all? No, I am my Beloveds, I am Christs, there is a re­turne of Faith in Sanctification, the same Spi­rit that witnesseth Christ is ours, it sanctifies and alters our disposition, that we can say, I am Christs. It serves to instruct us therefore in the necessary connexion of these two, Iustification and Sanctification, against the idle slander of Pa­pists, that sinnefully traduce that Doctrine, as if we were Solifideans, as if we severed Iusti­fication from Sanctification. No, we hold here that whensoever Christ is ours, there is a Spirit of Sanctification in us, to yeeld all to Christ, though this resignation bee not presently per­fect.

This likewise helps us (by way of Directi­on) to understand the Covenant of grace,Vse. 3. and the Seales of the Covenant,A direction how to understand the Covenant of grace. what they inforce and comprise, not onely what God will doe to us, but the duty we are to doe to him againe, though we doe it in his strength. A Cove­nant holds not on one side, but on both, Christ is mine, and I am Christs againe, I will bee their God, but they must have grace to be my people, and then the Covenant is made up. The Cove­nant of grace is so called, because God is so gracious as to inable us to performe our owne part

And so in the Seales of the Covenant,Instanced in the Seales of the Covenant. in Baptisme, God doth not onely binde himselfe [Page 470] to doe thus and thus to us, but binds us also to doe backe againe to him. So in the Communi­on we promise to leade a new life, renewing our Covenant, and therefore we must not thinke that all is well, when wee have received our maker, though wee continue in a scandalous, fruitlesse course of life. No there is a promise in the Sacrament, the Seale of the Covenant of grace, to yeeld up our selves to God, to re­turne to Christ againe with our duty, then wee come as we should doe, when we come thus dis­posed. This for direction, My Beloved is mine and I am my Beloveds.

To proceed to make an Use of Comfort to poore doubting Christians,Vse. 4. I am my Beloveds, is the voice of the whole Church,For Comfort to the weaker Chrstians & to the whole Church. that all ranks of Christians (if they be true) may without presumption take up. I have not so much Faith, so much love, so much grace, so much pati­ence, as another (saith a poore Christian) therefore I am none of Christs▪ but wee must know that Christ hath in his Church of all rancks, and they are all his Spouse, one as well as another, there is no exception, there is a little spirit of emulation, and a spice of envy in Christians that are weaker, if they have not all that great measure of grace which they see in others, they feare they have none at all, as if there were no Babes in Christs schoole, as well as men,That the nature of Faith is the same in the whole Church as in every parti­cular member. and growne persons.

Then againe, we see here the nature of Faith in the whole Church, it is the same that is in [Page 471] every particular, aud the same in every particu­lar, as it is in the whole Church. The whole Church saith, I am my Beloveds and my Beloved is mine, I appropriate him, there is a spirit of appropriation in the whole, and there is so in each particular. Every Christian may say with Paul, I live by Faith in the Sonne of God, Gal. 2. that hath loved me and gave himselfe for me, and with Tho­mas, my God and my Lord.

The ground hereof is, because they are all one in Christ, and there is one and the same Spi­rit in the whole Church and every particular Christian, as in pipes, though of different sounds, yet there is the same breath in them. So Christians may have different sounds from the greater or lesser strength of grace that is in the one and in the other, but all comes from the same breath, the same Spirit. The Spirit in the Bride saith come,Reve 2 [...]. the whole Church saith it and every particular Christian must say it; because as the body is acted by one Spirit and makes but one naturall body, though con­sisting of many parts weaker and stronger. So should there be a harmony in this mysticall bo­dy acted by that one Spirit of Christ, who so regards all, as if there were but one, and regards every one so, as he doth not forget the whole, Sic omnibus attentus ut non detentus, &c. Christ so at­tends to all that hee is not deteined from any particular, and he so attends every particular that he is not restrained from all, there is the same love to all as to one, and to every one, as [Page 472] if there were no other, hee so loves each one that every Christian may say as well as the whole Church, Christ is mine and I am Christs.

In those things that we call Homogeniall, there is the same nature in each quantity as in the whole, as there is the same nature in one drop of water as in the whole Ocean, all is water, and the same respect of a sparke, and of all the element of fire. So Christ beares the same respect to the Church as to every particular, and to every particular as to the Church.

To come to make an Use of Direction, Vse. 3. how to come to be able to say this,How to have direction to bee able to say with the Church, I am my Beloveds &c. I am my Beloveds and my Beloved is mine? For answer heereto take notice in the first place from the depen­dance, Christ must be first ours before wee can give our selves to him, therefore we must dwell 1 in the consideration of Christs love, We must dwell in the considera­tion of Christs love to us. this must di­rect and leade our method in this thing. Would we have our hearts to love Christ, to trust in him, and to embrace him, why then thinke what is hee to us? beginne there, nay and what we are? Weake, and in our apprehen­sion lost, then goe to consider his love, his constant love to his Church and children, whom he loves he loves to the end, John 13. 1. we must warme our soules with the consideration of the love of God in him to us, and this will stirre up our Faith to him backe againe, For we are more safe in that hee is ours,Gal 4. 9.then that we give our selves to him:Phil. 3. 12.we are more safe in his comprehenaing [Page 473] of us, then in our clasping and holding of him: as we say of the mother and the childe both hold, but the safety of the child is that the mother holds him; If Christ once give himselfe to us, he will make good his owne part alway, our safety is more on his side then on ours. If ever wee have felt the love of Christ, we may comfort our selves with the constancy and perpetuity thereof, though perhaps we finde not our af­fections warmed to him at all times, nor alike, yet the strength of a Christians comfort lies in this, that first, Christ is mine, and then in the 2 second place,2. Dwell in the consideration of our misery without Christ, and our necessity to have him. that I am his. Now (I say) that we may be able to maintaine this blessed tradition of giving our selves to Christ, Let us dwell in the consideration of his love to us, and of the necessity that we have of him, how miserable we are without him, poore, beggerly, in bondage to the Divell, therefore wee must have him to recover us out of debt, and to en­rich us. For Christs love carries him foorth not onely to pay all our debts for us, but to en­rich us, and it is a protecting, preserving love, till he brings us to Heaven his owne place, where we shall ever be with him: The consideration of these things will warme our hearts, and for this purpose serves the Ministrie.

We should therefore in the next place attend 3 upon the Word,We must dili gently attend the ministry of the Word. for this very end. Where­fore serves the Ministrie? Among many o­thers, this is one maine end, to lay open the un­searchable riches of Christ, therein you have [Page 474] some­thing of Christ unfolded, of his Natures, Offi­ces, and benefits we have by him, Redemption, and freedome, and a right to all things in him, the ex­cellencies of another world, therefore attend upon the meanes of Salvation, that wee may know what riches wee have in him, this will keepe our affections close to Christ, so as to say, I am his.

And labour wee also every day more and 4 more to bring all our love to him,We must labour every day what we can to con­tract, draw and to bring all our love to Christ. wee see in bu [...]ning glasses, where the beames of the Sunne meete in one, how forcible they are, because there is an union of the beames in a lit­tle point. Let it bee our labour that all the beames of our love may meete in Christ, that he may be as the Church saith, our Beloved, My Beloved is mine and I am my Beloveds (saith shee) as if the Church had no love out of Chri [...]t. And is it love lost? No, but as Christ is the Churches Beloved, so the Church is Christs love againe, as we see in this booke oft, my Love,How farre wee may love other things besides Christ.my Dove. As all streames meete in the great Ocean, so let all our loves meet in Christ. We may love other things, and we should doe so, but no otherwise then as they convey love to us from Christ, and may be meanes of drawing up our af­fections unto Christ. We may love our friends (and we ought to doe so) and other blessings of God, but how? No otherwise then as tokens of his love to us: we love a thing that our friend sends to us, O but it is as it doth convey his affection to us. So must we love [Page 475] all things as they come from Gods love to us in Christ.

And indeed whatsoever we have is a love token,That all we re­ceive from Christ, even af­flictions are love tokens. even our very afflictions themselves, whom I love, I rebuke and chastise.

Againe, that we may inflame our hearts with the love of Christ,Wee must pre­serve our hearts in the love of Christ. as we are exhorted by Iude, Let us consider the vanity of all things that should entise us from Christ,Jud. ver. 21. and labour every day more and more to draw our affections from them, as we are exhorted, Psalm. 45. Hearken o daughter and consider, and incline thine eare, forget also thine owne people and thy Fathers house, so shall the King greatly desire thy beauty. So if we will have Christ to delight in us, that wee may say we are his, let us labour to sequester our affections more and more from all earthly things, that we may not have such hearts, as Saint I ames speaketh of, adulterous hearts. O ye Adulterers and Adulteresses know you not that the love of the world is emnity with God.

Indeed there is reason for this exhortation, for all earthly things, they are all vaine and empty things, there is an emptinesse in what­soever is in the world (save Christ) there­fore we should not set our affections too much upon them; A man cannot be wise in loving any thing but Christ, and what he loves for Christ. Therefore let us follow that counsell, to draw our selves from our former company, acquain­tance, pleasures, delights, and vanities, wee [Page 476] cannot bestow our love and our affections bet­ter then upon Christ. It is a happinesse, that we have such affections, as joy, delight and love planted in us by God, and what a hap­pinesse is it, that wee should have such an excel­lent object to fill those affections, yea to tran­scend and more then satisfie them. There­fore the Apostle wisheth that they might know all the demensions of Gods love in Christ, there is a height,Eph. 3. 1 [...].breadth, length, and depth of the love of God.

And let us thinke of the demensions, the height, breadth and depth of our misery out of Christ. The more excellent our natures are, the more miserable they are if not changed: for looke what degree of excellency wee have (if it be not advanced in Christ) we have so much misery being out of him; therefore let us la­bour to see this, as to value our being in him, so to be able upon good grounds to say, I am my Beloveds and my Beloved is mine.

Againe, let us labour to walke in the light of a sanctified knowledge to bee attained by the Gospell,1 Iohn 1. 3. for as it is, 1. Iohn 1. 3. the end of all our preaching is to assure Christ to the soule, 1 Iohn 5. 13. that we may be able to say without deceiving our owne soules, I am my Beloveds and my Be­loved is mine. The maine end of preaching. All preaching (I say) is for this end, the terrour of the Law and the dis­covery of corruption is to drive us out of our selves to him, and then to provoke us to grow up into him more and more. Therefore [Page 477] saith Iohn, All our preaching is that wee may have fellowship with the Father and the Sonne, and they with us: And what doth he make an evidence of that fellowship,1 Joh. 1. 7. walking in the light, as he is light, or else wee are lyers; hee is bold in plaine tearmes to give us the lye, to say wee are Christs, and have communion with the Father and the Sonne, when yet wee walke in darkenesse, in sinnes against consci­ence, in willfull ignorance, the darkenesse of an evill life, wee have no communion with Christ; therefore if we will have communi­on with him, let us walke in the light, and la­bour to be lightsome in our understandings, to have a great deale of knowledge, and then to walke answerable to that light and reve­lation that we have. Those that live in sinnes against conscience, and are friends to the darke­nesse of ignorance, of an evill life, Oh they never thinke of the fellowship with Christ and with God, these things are meere riddles to them, they have no hope of them, or if any, their hope is in vaine, they barre themselves of ever having comfortable communion with Christ here, much lesse shall they enjoy him hereafter in Heaven.

Therefore labour every day more and more to grow rich in knowledge, to get light and to walke in that light: to which end pray with the holy Apostle, Ephes I. That you may have the Spirit of Revelation, that excellent Spirit of God to reveale the things of God, that wee [Page 478] may have the light discovered to us.

What a world of comfort hath a Christian that hath light in him and walks in that light,The exce [...]ency of a Christian walking in di vine light a­bove others. above another man, whether he live or dye, the light brings him into fellowship with the Father of lights, he that hath this light knowes his condition and his way, and whither hee goeth, when he dyeth he knowes in what con­dition hee dyeth, and upon what grounds. The very light of nature is comfortable, much more that of grace, therefore labour to grow daily more and more in the knowl [...]dge and o­bedience of the light.

All professors of the Gospell are either such as are not Christs,A serious ex­ [...]ort [...]tian for such who are not yet in Christ, to come in. or such as are his, for such as are not yet, that you may be provoked to draw to fellowship with Christ, Do but consi­der you are as branches cut off, that will wither and dye, and be cast into the fire, unlesse you be grafted into the living stock, Christ, you are as naked persons in a storme not cloathed with any thing to stand against the storme of Gods wrath, let this force you to get into Christ.

And next for incouragement consider,That in the Gospell Christ by the Minist­ery offereth himselfe unto all. Christ offereth himselfe to all in the Gospell and that is the end of the Ministrie to bring Christ & our soules together, to make a spirituall mar­riage, to lay open his riches and to draw you to him, if you confesse your sinnes he will for­give them,1 John 1. 9. and you shall have mercy, Here­lieves those that are wearied and heavy laden, Prov. 28. and bids those come to him that are thirsty,Mat. 11 ult. J [...] 55. 1 Christ [Page 479] came to seek, and to save that which was lost. Christ offers himselfe in mercy to the worst soule.

Therefore if there be any that have lived in evill courses, in former times, consider that upon repentance all shall bee forgotten, and as a mist scattered away and cast into the bottome of the Sea. Christ offers himselfe to you, these are the times, this is the houre of grace, now the water is stirring for you to enter: doe but entertaine Christ, and desire that hee may bee yours to rule you and guide you, and all will be well for the time to come.

Doe not object I am a loathsome creature full of rebellions.Object

Christ doth not match with you,Answ.because you are good, but to make you good, Christ takes you not with any dowry, all that hee requires is to confesse your beggery and to come with empti­nesse. He takes us not because we are cleane, but because he wil purge us, he takes us in our bloud when hee first takes us,Ezek. 16. Let none despaire either for want of worth or of strength,Ephe. 5. 27. Christ seeth that for strength we are dead, and for worth, we are enemies, but hee gives us both spirituall strength and worth, takes us neare to himselfe and enricheth us. Let none therefore bee dis­couraged, it is our office, thus to lay open and offer the riches of Christ, if you will not come in, but love your sinnefull courses more then Christ, then you perish in your blood, and wee free our hands, and may free our soules from the guilt thereof, therefore as you love your [Page 480] owne soules, come in at length and stand out no longer.

And for those that have in some measure gi­ven themselves up to Christ,Exhortation to them that have given them­selves to Christ and can say, He is mine and I am his, let them goe on with com­fort, and never bee discouraged for the infirmi­ties that hang about them. For one part of Christs Office is to purge his Church by his Spirit more and more, Ephes. 5. 27. not to cast her away for her infirmities, but to wash and cleanse it more and more till it bee a glorious Spouse like himselfe. For if the husband will by the bond of nature, beare with the infirmi­ties of the wife (as the weaker vessell) doth not Christ binde himselfe by that which hee ac­counts us bound? Is there more love and mer­cy, and pittie in us to those that we take neere us, then there is in Christ to us? What a most blasphemous thought were this to conceive so? Only let us take heed of being in league with sinne, for we cannot give our soules to Christ, and to sinnefull courses too; Christ will allow of no bigamy or double marriage where hee hath any thing to doe, wee must have single hearts, resolving though I fall, yet I purpose to please Christ, and to goe on in a good conver­sation, and if our hearts tell us so, daily infirmi­ties ought not to discourage us, wee have helpes enough for these. First, Christ bids us aske forgivenesse, and then we have the mercy of Christ to beare with weaker vessels, then his Advocation, he is now in heaven to pleade for [Page 481] us: if we were perfect,1 Ioh 2. [...]. we needed not that office; let none be discouraged therefore, but let us labour more and more that we may bee able to comprehend in some measure the love of Christ,That to suffer and to facili­tate all duties we should la­bour more and more for the love of Christ. so will all duties come off sweetly and easily, and then we shall be enabled to suf­fer all things, not onely willingly, but cheere­fully, and rejoyce in them. Love is of the na­ture of fire, which as it severeth and consumeth all that is opposite, all drosse and dregs, and dissolves coldnesse, so it quickens and makes active and lively, it hath a kinde of constraining force, a sweet violence, (as the Apostle saith) the love of Christ constraineth, 2 Cor. 5. 24.

Let a man that loves the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, be called to part with his life, he will yeeld it as a Sacrifice with comfort. Come what will, all is welcome when wee are infla­med with the love of Christ, and the more we suffer, the more we finde his love, for hee re­serves the manifestation of his love most for times of suffering, and the more we finde the manifestation of his love, the more wee love him backe againe, and rejoyce in suffering for him, that we love so, whether they be duties of obedience, active or passive, doing or suffering, all comes off with abundance of cheerefull­nesse and ease, where the love of Christ is, that the soule can say, I am my Beloveds, and my Beloved is mine: nothing in the world is able to make such a soule miserable. It fol­lowes.

He feedeth among the Lillies.

The Church here shewes where Christ feeds.Quest. But the question is, Whether it bee the feeding of the Church and People that is here meant, or whether he feeds himselfe. For answer, hee both feeds his Church among the Lillies,Answ. and delights himselfe to be there; the one followes the other, especially it is meant of the Church, those that are his, he feeds them among the Lillies,

How.

Lillies are such kinde of flowers as require a great deale of nourishment,What meant by Christs feeding among the Lil­lies. and grow best in valleys and fat ground, therefore when shee saith, he feedes among the Lillies, the meaning is, he feedes his Church and people in fat pa­sture; as sheepe in such grounds as are sweet and fruitfull, such are his holy Word and the Communion of Saints, these are especially the pastures wherein hee feeds his Church. The holy truths of God are the foode of the soule, whereby it is cherished and nourished up to life everlasting. This whole Booke is a kinde of Pastorall (to understand the word a little bet­ter) a Song of a Beloved concerning a Belo­ved, therefore Christ in many places of this Booke, he takes upon him the terme and car­riage (as it were) of a loving Shepheard, who labours to finde out for his sheepe the fattest, fruitfullest, best and sweetest pastures, that they [Page 483] may grow up as Calves of the Stall, as it is Malachy 4. 2. that they may grow and be well liking.

You have (to give light to this place) a phrase somewhat likethis, where he followes the point more at large,Cant. 1. 7. Cant. 1. 7. the Church there praiesto Christ. Tell me O thou whom my soule loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flocks to rest at noone. Those that are com­ming up in the Church desire to know with whom they may joyne, and what truths they may embrace. Tell me where thou feedest and where thou makest thy flocke to rest at noone: that is in the greatest heate and storme of persecuti­on, as at noone day the Sun is hottest: For why should I be as one that turnes aside by the flocks of thy companions? that is, by those that are not true friends, that are false shepheards, why should I be drawne away by them? I desire to feed where thou feedest among thy sheepe. Why should I be as one that turnes aside by the flocks