The Church's Marriage to her Sons, and to her GOD:

A SERMON Preached at the INSTALMENT of the Rev. Mr. Samuel Buel As Pastor of the Church and Congregation at East-Hampton on Long-Island, September 19. 1746.


Pastor of the first Church in Northampton in New-England.

BOSTON: Printed and Sold by S. Kneeland and T. Green in Queen-Street. 1746.

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ISA. lxii. 4, 5.‘Thy Land shall be married: For as a young Man mar­rieth a Virgin, so shall thy Sons marry thee; and as the Bridegroom rejoiceth over the Bride, so shall thy GOD rejoice over thee.’

IN the midst of many blessed Promises that God makes to his Church in this and the preceding and following Chapters, of Advancement to a State of great Peace, Comfort, Honour and Joy, after long continued Affliction, we have the Sum of all contained in these two Verses. In the 4th Verse God says to his Church, Thou shall no more be termed Forsaken, neither shall thy Land any more be termed Desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy Land Beulah; for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy Land shall be married. When it is said, Thy Land shall be married, we are by thy Land to understand the Body of thy People, thy whole Race; the Land, by a Metonymy very usual in Scripture, being put for the People that inhabit the Land.

The 5th Verse explains how this that is promised in the last Words of Verse 4th should be accomplished in two Things, viz. in being married to her Sons, and married to her God.

1. It is promised that she should be married to her Sons, or that her Sons should marry her; For as a young Man [Page 6] marrieth a Virgin, so shall thy Sons marry thee. Or, as the Words might have been more literally translated from the Original; As a young Man is married to a Virgin, so shall thy Sons be married to thee. Some by this understand a Promise that the Posterity of the captivated Jews should return again from Babylon to the Land of Canaan, & should be, as it were, married or wedded to their own Land; i.e. They should be re-united to their own Land, and should have great Comfort and Joy in it, as a young Man in a Virgin that he marries. But their thus interpreting the Words seems to be through Inadvertence; not carefully observing the Words themselves, how that when it is said, So shall thy Sons marry thee, God don't direct his Speech to the Land itself, but to the Church whose Land it was; the Pronoun Thee being applied to the same mystical Person in this former Part of the Verse, as in the Words immediately following in the latter Part of the same Sentence, And as the Bridegroom rejoiceth over the Bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee. It is the Church, and not the Hills and Valleys of the Land of Canaan, that is God's Bride, or the Lamb's Wise. 'Tis also manifest that when God says, So shall thy Sons marry thee, he continues to speak to her to whom he had spoken in the three pre­ceding Verses; but there it is not the Ground or Soil of the Land of Canaan, but the Church that he speaks to when he says, The Gentiles shall see thy Righteousness, and all Kings thy Glory; and thou shall be called by a new Name, which the Mouth of the Lord shall name: Thou shalt also be a Crown of Glory in the Hand of the Lord, and a royal Diadem in the Hand of thy God: Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken, &c. And to represent the Land itself as a Bride, and the Subject of Espousals and Marriage, would be a Figure of Speech very unnatural, and not known in Scripture; but for the Church of God to be thus represented is very usual through­out the Scripture from the Beginning to the End of the Bible. And then it is manifest that the Return of the Jews to the Land of Canaan from the babylonish Captivity, is not the Event mainly intended by the Prophecy of which these Words are a Part. The Time of that Return was [Page 7] not the Time when that was fulfilled in the 2d Verse of this Chapter, And the Gentiles shall see thy Righteousness, and all Kings thy Glory; and thou shall be called by a new Name, which the Mouth of the Lord shall name. That was not the Time spoken of in the two preceding Chapters, with which this Chapter is one continued Prophecy. That was not the Time spoken of in the last Words of the fore­going Chapter, when the Lord would cause Righteousness and [...] to spring forth before ad Nations: Nor was it the Time spoken of in the 5th, 6th and 9th Verses of that Chapter, when Strangers should stand and feed the Flocks of Gods People, and the Sons of the [...] should be their Plow­men and [...]; but they should be named the Priests of the Lord, and Men should call them the Ministers of God; when they should eat the Riches of the Gentiles, and in their Glory Feast themselves, and their Seed should be known among the Gentiles, and their Offspring among the People; and all that should see them should acknowledge them, that they are the Seed which the Lord hath blessed. Nor was that the Time spo­ken of in the Chapter preceding that, when the Abundance of the Sea should be converted unto the Church; when the Isles should wait for God, and the Ships of Tars [...]ish to bring her Sons from [...], and their Silver and Gold with them; when the Forces of the Gentiles and their Kings should be brought; when the Church should suck the Milk of the Gentiles, and suck the Breast of Kings; and when that Nation and Kingdom that would not serve her should perish and be utterly wasted; and when the Sun should be no more her Light by Day, neither for Brightness should the Morn give Light unto her, but the Lord should be unto her an everlasting Light, and her God her Glory; and her Sun should no more go down, nor her Moon withdraw itself, because the Lord should be her everlasting Light, and the Days of her Mourning should be ended. These Things mani­festly have Respect to the christian Church in her most per­fect and glorious State on Earth in the [...] Ages of the World; when the Church should be so far from being con­fined to the Land of Canaan, that she should [...] the whole Earth, and all Lands should be [...]

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So that the Children of Israel's being wedded to the Land of Canaan, being manifestly not the meaning of those Words in the Text, As a young Man marrieth a Virgin, so shall thy Sons marry thee, as some suppose; I chuse rather, with others, to understand the Words of the Church's Union with her faithful Pastors, and the great Benefits she should receive from them. God's Ministers, tho' they are set to be the Instructors, Guides and Fathers of God's Peo­ple, yet are also the Sons of the Church; Amos 2. 11. I raised up of your Sons for Prophets, and of your young Men for Nazarites. Such as these, when faithful, are those pre­cious Sons of Zion comparable to fine Gold spoken of Lam 4. 2. spoken of again Verse 7. Her Nazarites were purer than Snow, they were whiter than Milk. And as he that marries a young Virgin becomes the Guide of her Youth; so these Sons of Zion are represented as taking her by the Hand as her Guides, Isa. 51. 18. There is none to guide her among all the Sons whom she hath brought forth; neither is there any that taketh her by the Hand of all the Sons that she hath brought up. That by these Sons of the Church is meant Ministers of the Gospel, is confirmed by the next Verse to the Text, I have set Watchmen upon thy Walls, O Jerusalem.

That the Sons of the Church should be married to her as a young Man to a Virgin, is a Mystery or Paradox not unlike many others held forth in the Word of God, con­cerning the Relation between Christ and his People, and their Relation to him and to one another; such as that Christ is David's Lord and yet his Son, and both the Root and Offspring of David; that Christ is a Son born and a Child given, and yet the everlasting Father; that the Church is Christ's Mother, as she is represented Cant. 3. 11. and 8. 1, and yet that she is his Spouse, his Sister and his Child; that Believers are Christ's Mother, and yet his Sister and Brother; and that Ministers are the Sons of the Church, and yet that they are her Fathers, as the Apostle speaks of himself, as the Father of the Members of the Church [Page 9] of Corinth, and also the Mother of the Galatians, travailing in Birth with them, Gal. 4. 19.

2. The second and chief Fulfilment here spoken of, of that Promise of the Church's being married, is in her being married to Christ; And as the Bridegroom rejoiceth over the Bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee. Not that we are to understand that the Church has many Husbands or that Christ is one Husband, and Ministers are other Husbands that she hath: For tho' Ministers are here spoken of as being married to the Church, yet 'tis not as being his Fellows or Competitors, or as Husbands of the Church standing in a conjugal Relation to his Bride in any wise parallel with his: For the Church has but one Husband; she is not an Adulteress, but a Virgin, that is devoted wholly to the Lamb, and follows him whithersoever he goes▪ But Ministers espouse the Church intirely as Christ's Am­bassadors, as representing him and standing in his Stead, being sent forth by Him to be married to her in his Name, that by this Means she may be married to him. As when a Prince marries a foreign Lady by Proxy, the Prince's Ambassador marries her, but not in his own Name, but in the Name of his Master, that he may be the Instrument of bringing her into a true conjugal Relation to him. This is agreable to what the Apostle says, 2 Cor. 11. 2. I am jea­lous over you with a godly Jealousy; for I have espoused you to one Husband, that I may present you as a chaste Virgin to Christ. Here the Apostle represents himself as being, as it were, the Husband of the Church of Corinth; for 'tis the Husband that is jealous when the Wife commits Adultery; and yet he speaks of himself as having espoused them, not in his own Name, but in the Name of Christ, and for him, and him only, and as his Ambassador, sent forth to bring them Home a chaste Virgin to him. Ministers are in the Text represented as married to the Church in the same Sense that elsewhere they are represented as Fathers of the Church: The Church has but one Father even God, and Ministers are Fathers as his Ambassadors; so the Church [Page 10] has but one Shepherd, Joh. 10. 16. There shall be one Fold and one Shepherd; but yet Ministers, as Christ's Ambassa­dors, are often call'd the Church's Shepherds or Pastors. The Church has but one Saviour; but yet Ministers, as his Ambassadors and Instruments, are called her Saviours; 1 Tim. 4. 16. In doing this thou shalt b [...]th save thy self and them that [...]ear thee. Obad. 21. And Saviours shall come upon Mount Zion. The Church has but one Priest; but yet in Isa. 66. 21. speaking of the Ministers of the Gentile Na­tions, 'tis said, I will [...]ake of them for Priests and Levites. The Church has but one Judge, for the Father hath com­mitted all Judgment to the Son; yet Christ tells his Apo­stles, that they shall [...]it on twelve Thrones judging the twelve Tribes of Israel.

When the Text speaks first of Ministers marrying the Church, and then of Christ's rejoicing over her as the Bride­groom rejoiceth over the Bride; the former is manifestly spoken of as being in order to the latter, even in order to the Joy and Happiness that the Church shall have in her true Bridegroom. The preaching of the Gospel is in this Con­text spoken of three Times going, as the great Means of bringing about the Prosperity and Joy of the Church; that is foretold; once in the first Verse, For Zion's Sake will I not hold my Peace, and for Jerusalem's Sake I will not rest, until the Righteousness thereof go forth as Brightness, and the Salvation thereof as a Lamp that burneth; and then again in the Text; and lastly in the two following Verses, I have set Watchmen upon thy Walls O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their Peace Day nor Night: Ye that make mention of the Lord keep not Silence, and give him no Rest 'till he establish and 'till he make Jerusalem a Praise in the Earth.

The Text thus opened affords these two Propositions proper for our Consideration on the solemn Occasion of this Day.

I. The uniting of faithful Ministers with Christ's People in the ministerial Office, when done in a due Manner, is like a young Man's marrying a Virgin.

[Page 11] II. This Union of Ministers with the People of Christ is in order to their being brought to the Blessedness of a more glorious Union, in which Christ shall rejoice over them, as the Bridegroom rejoiceth over the Bride.

I. The uniting of a faithful Minister with Christ's People in the ministerial Office, when done in a due Manner, is like a young Man's marrying a Virgin.

I say, the uniting of a faithful Minister with Christ's Peo­ple, and in a due Manner: For we must suppose that the Promise God makes to the Church in the Text, relates to such Ministers, and such a Manner of Union with the Church; because this is promised to the Church as a Part of her latter Day Glory, and as a Benefit that should be granted her by God, as the Fruit of his great Love to her, and an Instance of her great spiritual Prosperity and Happi­ness in her purest and most excellent State on Earth. But it would be no such Instance of God's great Favour and the Church's Happiness to have unfaithful Ministers entring into Office in an undue and improper Manner. They are evidently faithful Ministers that are spoken of in the next Verse, where the same are doubtless spoken of as in the Text; I have set Watchmen on thy Walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their Peace Day nor Night. And they are those that shall be introduced into the Ministry at a Time of its extraordinary Purity, Order and Beauty, where­in (as is said in the first, second and third Verses) her Righ­teousness should go forth as Brightness, and the Gentiles should see her Righteousness, and all Kings her Glory, and she should be a Crown of Glory in the Hand of the Lord, and a royal Diadem in the Hand of her God.

When I speak of the uniting of a faithful Minister with Christ's People in a due Manner, I don't mean a due Man­ner only with Regard to external Order; but its being truly done in a holy Manner, with sincere upright Aims and In­tentions, with a right Disposition, and proper Frames of [Page 12] Mind in those that are concerned; and particularly in the Minister that takes Office, and God's People to whom he is united, each exercising in this Affair a proper Regard to God and one another.

Such an uniting of a faithful Minister with the People of God in the ministerial Office, is in some Respects like a young Man's marrying a Virgin.

1. When a duly qualified Person is properly invested with the ministerial Character, and does in a due Manner take upon him the sacred Work and Office of a Minister of the Gospel, he does in some Sense, espouse the Church of Christ in general: For tho' he don't properly stand in a pastoral Relation to the whole Church of Christ through the Earth, and is far from becoming an universal Pastor; yet thenceforward he has a different Concern with the Church of Christ in general, and its Interests and Welfare, than other Persons have that are Laymen, and should be regarded otherwise by all the Members of the christian Church: where ever he is providentially called to preach the Word of God, or minister in holy Things, he ought to be received as a Minister of Christ, and the Messenger of the Lord of Hosts to them. And every one that takes on him the Office of a Minister of Christ as he ought to do, espouses the Church of Christ, as he espouses the Interest of the Church in a Manner that is peculiar. He is under Obligations, as a Minister of the christian Church, beyond other Men, to love the Church, as Christ her true Bride­groom hath loved her, and to prefer Jerusalem above his chief Joy, and to imitate Christ the great Shepherd and Bishop of Souls and Husband of the Church, in his Care and tender Concern for the Church's Welfare, and earnest and constant Labours to promote it, as he has Opportunity. And as he, in [...]aking Office, devotes himself to the Service of Christ in his Church; so he gives himself to the Church, to be hers, in that Love, tender Care, constant Endeavour, and earnest Labour for her Provision, Comfort and Welfare, [Page 13] that is proper to his Office, as a Minister of the Church of Christ, by the Permission of divine Providence as long as he lives; as a young Man gives himself to a Virgin when he marries her. And the Church of Christ in general, as constituted of true Saints through the World (tho' they [...]on't deliver up themselves to any one particular Minister, as universal Pastor, yet) do cleave to and embrace the Mi­nistry of the Church with endeared Affection and high Honour and Esteem, for Christ's Sake; and do joyfully commit and subject themselves to them to cleave to, honour and help them, to be guided by them and obey them so long as in the World; as the Bride doth in Marriage cleave and deliver up herself to her Husband. And the Ministry in general, or the whole Number of faithful Ministers, being all united in the same Work as Fellow-Labourers, and con­spiring to the same Design as Fellow-helpers to the Grace of God, may be considered as one mystical Person, that espouses the Church as a young Man espouses a Virgin: as the many Elders of the Church of Ephesus are represented as one mystical Person, Rev. 2. 1. and all called the Angel of the Church of Ephesus: and as the faithful Ministers of Christ in general, all over the World, seem to be repre­sented as one mystical Person and called an Angel, Rev. 14. 6. And I saw another Angel fly in the midst of Heaven, [...]aving the everlasting Gospel to preach unto them that dwell upon the Earth, and to every Nation and Kindred and [...] and People. But,

2. More especially is the uniting of a faithful Minister with a particular christian People, as their Pastor, when done in a due Manner, like a young Man's marrying a Virgin.

It is so with Respect to the Union itself, the Concomi­tants of the Union, and the Fruits of it.

(1.) The Union itself is in several Respects like that which is between a young Man and a Virgin, whom he [...]

[Page 14] It is so with Respect to mutual Regard and Affection. A faithful Minister that is in a christian Manner united to a christian People as their Pastor, has his Heart united to them in the most arden [...] and render Affection: And they, on the other Hand, have their Hearts united to him, esteem­ing him very highly in Love for his Work's Sake, and re­ceiving him with Honour and Reverence, and willingly subjecting themselves to him, and committing themselves to his Care, as being, under Christ, their Head and Guide.

And such a Pastor and People are like a young Man and Virgin united in Marriage with Respect to the Purity of their Regard one to another. The young Man gives him­self to his Bride in Purity, as undebauched by meretricious Embraces: and she also presents herself to him a chaste Virgin. So in such an Union of a Minister and People as we are speaking of, the Parties united are pure and holy in their Affection and Regard one to another. The Mini­ster's Heart is united to the People, not for filthy Lucre, or any worldly Advantage, but with a pure Benevolence to them, and Desire of their spiritual Welfare and Prosperity, and Complacence in them as the Children of God and Followers of Christ Jesus. And on the other Hand, they love and honour him with an holy Affection and Esteem; and not meerly as having their Admiration raised, and their carnal Affections moved, by having their Ears tickled, and their Curiosity and other fleshly Principles grat [...]fied by a florid Eloquence, and the Excellency of Speech and Man's Wisdom; but receiving him as the Messenger of the Lord of Hosts, coming to them on a divine and infinitely impor­tant Errand, and with those holy Qualifications that resem­ble the Vertues of the Lamb of God.

And as the Bridegroom and Bride give themselves to each other in Covenant; so it is in that Union we are speaking of between a faithful Pastor and a christian People. The Minister by solemn Vows devotes himself to the Peo­ple, to improve his Time and Strength, and spend and be [Page 15] spent for them, so long as God in his Providence shall con­tinue the Union: And they, on the other Hand, in a holy Covenant, commit the Care of their Souls to him, and subject themselves to him.

(2.) The Union between a faithful Minister and a christian People that we are speaking of, is like that between a young Man and Virgin in their Marriage, with Respect to the Concomitants of it.

When such a Minister and such a People are thus united, it is attended with great J [...]y. The Minister joyfully de­voting himself to the Service of his Lord in the Work of the Ministry, as a Work that he delights in: and also joy­fully uniting himself to the Society of the Saints that he is set over, as having Complacence in them, for his dear Lord's Sake, whose People they are; and willingly and joy­fully, on Christ's Call, undertaking the Labours and Diffi­culties of the Service of their Souls. And they, on the other Hand, joyfully receiving him as a precious Gift of their ascended Redeemer. Thus a faithful Minister and a christian People are each other's Joy. Rom. 15. 32. That I may come unto you with J [...]y by the Will of God, and may with you be refreshed. 2 Cor. 1. 14. As you have acknowledged us in Part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye are ours.

Another Concomitant of this Union, wherein it resem­bles that which becomes a young Man and Virgin united in Marriage, is mutual Helpfulness, and a constant Care and Endeavour to promote each other's Good and Comfort. The Minister earnestly and continually seeks the Profit and Comfort of the Souls of his People, and to guard and defend them from every Thing that might annoy them, and studies and labours to promote their spiritual Peace and Prosperity. They, on the other Hand, make it their constant Care to promote his Comfort, to make the Burden of his great diffi­cult Work easy, to avoid those Things that might add to the Difficulty of it, and that might j [...]tly be grievous to his [Page 16] Heart; and do what in them lies to encourage his Heart and strengthen his Hands in his Work; and are ready to say to him when called to exert himself in the more difficult Parts of his Work, as the People of Old to Ezra the Priest when they saw him bowed down under the Burden of a difficult Affair, Ezra 10. 4. Arise, for this Matter belongeth to thee: we also will be with thee: Be of good Courage and do it. They spare no Pains nor Cost to make their Pastor's outward Circumstances easy and comfortable, and free from pinch­ing Necessities and distracting Cares, and to put him under the best Advantages to follow his great Work fully and successfully.

Such a Pastor and People, as it is between a Couple happily united in a conjugal Relation, have a mutual Sym­pathy with each other, a fellow-feeling of each other's Bur­dens and Calamities, and a Communion in each other's Prosperity and Joy. When the People suffer in their spiri­tual Interests, the Pastor suffers: he is afflicted when he sees their Souls in Trouble and Darkness: he feels their Wounds; and he looks on their Prosperity and Comfort as his own. 2 Cor. 11.29. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? 2 Cor. 7. 13. We were comforted in your Comfort. And on the other Hand, the People feel their Pastor's Burdens, and rejoice in his Pros­perity and Consolations; see Phil. 4. 14. and 2 Cor. 2. 3.

(3.) This Union is like that which is between a young Man and a Virgin in its Fruits.

One Fruit of it is mutual Benefit: They become meet Helps one for another. The People receive great Benefit by the Minister, as he is their Teacher to communicate spi­ritual Instructions and Counsels to them, and is set to watch over them to defend them from those Enemies and Calami­ties they are liable to; and so is, under Christ, to be both their Guide and Guard, as the Husband is of the Wife. And as the Husband provides the Wife with Food and [Page 17] Cloathing; so the Pastor, as Christ's Steward, makes Pro­vision for his People, and brings forth out of his Treasure Things new and old, gives every one his Portion of Meat in due Season, and is made the Instrument of spiritually cloath­ing and adorning their Souls. And on the other Hand, the Minister receives Benefit from the People, as they minister greatly to his spiritual Good by that holy Converse to which their Union to him as his Flock leads them. The conjugal Relation leads the Persons united therein to the most inti­mate Acquaintance and Conversation with each other; so the Union there is between a faithful Pastor and a christian People leads them to the intimate Conversation about Things of a spiritual Nature: It leads the People most freely and fully to open the Case of their Souls to the Pastor, and leads him to deal most freely, closely and thoroughly with them in Things pertaining thereto. And this Con­versation not only tends to their Benefit, but also greatly to his.

And the Pastor receives Benefit from the People out­wardly, as they take Care of and order his outward Accom­modations for his Support and Comfort, and do as it were spread and serve his Table for him.

Another Fruit of this Union wherein it resembles the conjugal Union, is a spiritual Offspring. There is wont to arise from the Union of such a Pastor and People a spiritual Race of the Children of the Congregation that are new­born. These new-born Children of God are in the Scrip­ture represented both as the Children of Ministers, as those that have begotten them through the Gospel, and also as the Children of the Church, who is represented as their Mother that hath brought them forth, and at whose Breasts they are nourished; as in Isa. 54. 1. and 66. 11. Gal. 4. 26. 1 Pet. 2. 2. and many other Places.

Having thus briefly sh [...]wn how the uniting of faithful Ministers with Christ's People in the ministerial Office, [Page 18] when done in a due Manner, is like a young Man's marry­ing a Virgin. I proceed now to the

II. Prop. viz. That this Union of Ministers with the People of Christ, is in order to their being brought to the Blessedness of a more glorious Union, in which Christ shall rejoice over them as the Bridegroom rejoiceth over the Bride.

1. The Saints are and shall be the Subjects of this Blessed­ness. Of all the many various Kinds of Union of sensible and temporal Things that are used in Scripture to represent the Relation there is between Christ and his Church; that which is between Bridegroom and Bride, or Husband and Wife, is much the most frequently made Use of both in the Old and New-Testament. The Holy Ghost seems to take a peculiar Delight in this, as a Similitude fit to represent the strict, intimate and blessed Union that is between Christ and his Saints. The Apostle intimates that one End why God appointed Marriage, and established so near a Relation as that between Husband and Wife, was that it might be a Type of the Union that is between Christ and his Church, in Eph. 5. 30, 31, 32. For we are Members of his Body, of his Flesh, and of his Bones. For this Cause shall a Man leave his Father and Mother, and shall be joined to his Wife; and they two shall be one Flesh.For this Cause, i. e. because we are Members of Christ's Body, of his Flesh, and of his Bones: For this Cause God appointed that Man and Wife should be so joined together as to be one Flesh, to represent this high and blessed Union between Christ and his Church: The Apostle explains himself in the next Words, This is a great Mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church. This Institution of Marriage, and making the Man and his Wife one Flesh, is a great Mystery; i. e. it contains in it a great Mystery; there is a great and glorious Mystery hid in the Design of it: and the Apostle tells us what that glorious Mystery is, I speak concerning Christ and the Church: as much as to say, the Mystery I speak of, is that blessed Union that is between Christ and his Church, which I spoke of before.

[Page 19] This Union is a blessed Union indeed; o [...] which that be­tween a faithful Minister and a christian People is but a Shadow. Ministers are not the proper Husbands of the Church, tho' their Union to God's People as Christ's Am­bassadors, in several Respects resembles the conjugal Rela­ [...] but Christ is the true Husband of the Church, to whom the Souls of the Saints are espoused indeed, and to whom they are united as his Flesh and his Bones, yea and one Spirit; to whom they have given themselves in an ever­lasting Covenant, and whom alone they cleave to, love, honour, obey and trust in, as their spiritual Husband; whom alone they reserve themselves for as chaste Virgins; and whom they follow whithersoever he goeth. There are many Ministers in the Church of Christ, and there may be several Pastors of one particular Church: but the Church has but one Husband, all others are rejected and despised in Comparison of him; he is among the Sons as the Apple-Tree among the Trees of the Wood; they all are barren and worthless, he only is the fruitful Tree; and therefore leaving all others, the Church betakes herself to him alone, and sits under his Shadow with great Delight, and his Fruit is sweet to her Taste; she takes up her full and entire Rest in him, desiring no other. The Relation between a Mini­ster and People shall be dissolved, and may be dissolved be­fore Death: but the Union between Christ and his Church shall never be dissolved, neither before Death, nor by Death, but shall endure through all Eternity: The Mountains shall depart, and the Hills be removed; but Christ's conjugal Love and Kindness shall not depart from his Church; neither shall the Covenant of his Peace, the Marriage Covenant be removed, Isa. 54. 1. The Union between a faithful Minister and a christian People is but a partial Resemblance even of the Marriage Union, it is like Marriage only in some Particu­lars: but with Respect to the Union between Christ and his Church, Marriage is but a partial Resemblance, yea, a faint Shadow of that: Every Thing that is desirable and excellent in the Union between an earthly Bridegroom and Bride, is to be found in the Union between Christ and his [Page 20] Church; and that in an infinitely greater Perfection, and more glorious Manner: There is infinitely more to be found in it, than ever was found between the happiest Cou­ple in a conjugal Relation; or could be found, if the Bride and Bridegroom had not only the Innocence of Adam and Eve, but the Perfection of Angels.

Christ and his Saints, standing in such a Relation as this one to another, the Saints must needs be unspeakably happy: Their mutual Joy in each other is answerable to the near­ness of their Relation and strictness of their Union: Christ rejoice [...]ver the Church as the Bridegroom rejoiceth over the Bride, and she rejoices in him as the Bride rejoices in the Bridegroom. My Text has Respect to the mutual Joy that Christ and his Church should have in each other: For tho' the Joy of Christ over his Church only is mentioned, yet 'tis evident that this is here spoken of and promised as the great Happiness of the Church, and therefore supposes her Joy in him.

The mutual Joy of Christ and his Church is like that of Bridegroom and Bride, in that they rejoice in each other, as those that they have chosen above others, for their nearest, most intimate, and everlasting Friends and Companions. The Church is Christ's Chosen, Isa. 41. 9. I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away: Chap. 48. 10. I have chosen thee in the Furnace of Affliction. How often are God's Saints called his Elect or chosen Ones? He has chosen them, not to be meer Servants, but Friends; Joh. 15. 15. I call you not Servants;but I have called you Friends. And tho' Christ be the Lord of Glory, infinitely above Men and Angels, yet he has chosen the Elect to be his Companions; and has taken upon him their Nature; and so in some Re­spect, as it were levelled himself with them, that he might be their Brother and Companion. Christ as well as David calls the Saints his Brethren and Companions, Psal. 122. 8. For my Brethren and Companions Sake I will now say, Peace be within thee. So in the Book of Canticles he calls his [Page 21] Church his Sister and Spouse. Christ hath loved and chosen his Church as his peculiar Friend, above others; Psal. 135. 4. The Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar Treasure. As the Bridegroom chuses the Bride for his peculiar Friend, above all others in the World; so Christ has chosen his Church for a peculiar nearness to him, as his Flesh and his Bone, and the high Honour and Dignity of Espousals, above all others, rather than the fallen Angels, yea, rather than the elect Angels. For verily, in this Re­spect, he taketh not hold of Angels, but he taketh hold of the Seed of Abraham; as the Words are in the Original, in Heb. 2. 16. He has chosen his Church above the rest of Mankind, above all the Heathen Nations, and those that are without the visible Church, and above all other professing Christians, Cant. 6. 9. My Dove, my Undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her Mother; she is the choice one of her that bare her. Thus Christ rejoices over his Church, as obtaining in her that which he has chosen above all the rest of the Crea­tion, and as sweetly resting in his Choice; Psal. 132. 13, 14. The Lord hath chosen Zion: He hath desired it.—This is my Rest for ever.

On the other Hand, the Church chuses Christ above all others: He is in her Eyes the Chief among ten Thousands, fairer than the Sons of Men: She rejects the Suit of all his Rivals for his Sake: Her Heart relinquishes the whole World: He is her Pearl of great Price, for which she parts with all; and rejoices in him, as the Choice and Rest of her Soul.

Christ and his Church, like the Bridegroom and Bride, rejoice in each other, as having a special Propriety in each other. All Things are Christ's; but he has a special Pro­priety in his Church. There is nothing in Heaven or Earth, among all the Creatures, that is his, in that high and excel­lent Manner that the Church is his: They are often called his Portion and Inheritance; they are said, Rev. 14. 4. to be the first Fruits to God and the Lamb. As of old, the [Page 22] first Fruit was that Part of the Harvest that belonged to God, and was to be offered to him; so the Saints are the first Fruits of God's Creatures, being that Part which is in a peculiar Manner Christ's Portion, above all the rest of the Creation, Jam. 1. 18. Of his own Will bega [...] he us [...]y the Word of Truth, that we should be a Kind of first Fruits of his Creatures. And Christ rejoices in his Church, as in that which is peculiarly his, Isa. 65. 19. I will rejoice in Jeru­salem, and joy in my People. The Church has also a peculiar Propriety in Christ: Tho' other Things are hers, yet no­thing is hers in that Manner that her spiritual Bridegroom is hers: As great and glorious as he is, yet he, with all his Dignity and Glory is hers; all is wholly given to her, to be fully possessed and enjoyed by her, to the utmost Degree that she is capable of: Therefore we have her so often say­ing in the Language of Exultation & Triumph, My Beloved is mine, and I am his, in the Book of Canticles, Chap. 2. 16. and 6. 3. & 7. 10.

Christ and his Church, like the Bridegroom and Bride, rejoyce in each other, as in those that are the Objects of each others most tender and ardent Love. The Love of Christ to his Church is altogether unparallel'd: The Height & Depth and Length and Breadth of it pass Knowledge: For he loved the Church, and gave himself for it; and his Love to her proved stronger than Death. And on the other Hand, she loves him with a supream Affection: nothing stands in Competition with him in her Heart: she loves him with all her Heart: her whole Soul is offered up to him in the Flame of Love. And Christ rejoyces and has sweet Rest and Delight in his Love to the Church; Zeph. 3. 17. The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty: He will save: He will rejoyce over thee with Joy: He will rest in his Love: He will joy over thee with singing. So the Church in the Exer­cises of her Love to Christ, rejoyces with unspeakable Joy; 1 Pet. 1. 7,8.—Jesus Christ: whom, having not seen, ye love; in whom, tho' now ye see him not, yet believing, ye re­joyce with Joy unspeakable, and full of Glory.

[Page 23] Christ and his Church rejoyce in each others Beauty. The Church rejoyces in Christ's divine Beauty and Glory. She [...]s it were sweetly solaces her self in the Light of the Glory of the Sun of Righteousness; and the Saints say one to another, [...]s in Isai. 2.5. O House of Jacob, come ye, let us walk in the Light of the Lord. The Perfections and Vertues of Christ are as a perfumed Ointment to the Church, that make his very Name to be to her as Ointment poured forth; Cant. 1. 3. Because of the Savour of thy good Ointments, thy Name is as Ointment poured forth; therefore do the Virgins love thee. And Christ delights and rejoyces in the Beauty of the Church, the Beauty which he hath put upon her: Her Christian Graces are Ornaments of great Price in his Sight, 1 Pet. 3. 4. And he is spoken of as greatly desiring her Beauty, Psal. 45. 11. Yea he himself speaks of his Heart as ravished with her Beauty, Cant. 4. 9. Thou hast ravished my Heart, my Sister, my Spouse; Thou hast ravished my Heart with one of thine Eyes, with one Chain of thy Neck.

Christ and his Church, as the Bridegroom and Bride, re­joyce in each others Love. Wine is spoken of, Psal. 104. 15. as that which maketh glad Man's Heart: But the Church of Christ is spoken of as rejoycing in the Love of Christ, as that which is more pleasant and refreshing than Wine, Cant. 1. 4. The King hath brought me into his Chambers: we will be glad and rejoyce in thee: we will remember thy Love more than Wine. So on the other Hand, Christ speaks of the Church's Love as far better to him than Wine, Cant. 4. 10. How fair is thy Love, my Sister, my Spouse! How much better is thy Love than Wine!

Christ and his Church rejoyce in Communion with each other, as in being united in their Happiness, and having Fel­lowship, and a joint Participation in each others Good: as the Bridegroom & Bride rejoyce together at the Wedding-Feast, and as thenceforward they are joint Partakers of each others Comforts and Joys: Rev. 3. 20. If any Man hear my Voice, and open the Door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and [Page 24] he with me. The Church has Fellowship with Christ in his own Happiness, and his divine Entertainments; his Joy is fulfill'd in her, Joh. 15. 11. and 17. 13. She fees Light in his Light; and she is made to drink at the River of his own Pleasures, Psal. 36. 8,9. And Christ brings her to eat and drink at his own Table, to take her Fill of his own Enter­tainments; Cant. 5. 1. Eat O Friends, drink, yea drink a­bundantly, O Beloved. And he, on the other Hand, has Fel­lowship with her; He feasts with her; her Joys are his; and he rejoyces in that Entertainment that she provides for him. So Christ is said to feed among the Lillies, Cant. 2. 16. And Chap. 7. 13. she speaks of all Manner of pleasant Fruits, new and old, which she had laid up for him; and says to him, Chap. 4. 16. Let my Beloved come into his Garden, and eat his pleasant Fruit: And he makes Answer in the next Verse, I am come into my Garden my Sister, my Spouse: I have ga­thered my Myrrh with my Spice; I have eaten my Honey-comb, with my Honey; I have drunk my Wine with my Milk.

And lastly, Christ and his Church, as the Bridegroom and Bride, rejoyce in conversing with each other. The Words of Christ by which he converses with his Church, are most sweet to her; and therefore she says of him, Cant. 5. 16. His Mouth is most sweet. And on the other Hand, he says of her, Chap. 2. 14. Let me hear thy Voice; for sweet is thy Voice. And Chap. 4. 11. Thy Lips, O my Spouse, drop as the Honey-comb; Honey and Milk are under thy Tongue.

Christ rejoyces over his Saints as the Bridegroom over the Bride at all Times: But there are some Seasons wherein he doth so more especially. Such a Season is the Time of the Soul's Conversion; when the good Shepherd finds his lost sheep, then he brings it home rejoycing, and calls together his Friends and Neighbours saying, Rejoyce with me. The Day of a Sinner's Conversion is the Day of Christ's Espou­sal's; and so eminently the Day of his Rejoycing; Sol. Song. 3. 11. Go forth, O ye Daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon, with the Crown wherewith his Mother crowned [Page 25] him, in the Day of his Espousals, and in the Day of the Glad­ness of his Heart. And 'tis oftentimes remarkably the Day of the Saints rejoycing in Christ: for then God turns again the Captivity of his elect People, and as it were, [...] their Mouth with Laughter, and the [...] Tongue with singing; as in Psal. 126. at the Beginning. We read of the [...], that when he was converted, he rejoyced, be­lieving in God, with all his House, Act. 16. 34.

And there are other Seasons of special Communion of the Saints with Christ, wherein Christ doth in an especial Man­ner rejoyce ever his Saints, and as their Bridegroom brings them into his Chambers, that they also may be glad and re­joyce in him; Cant. 1. 4.

But the Time wherein this mutual Rejoycing of Christ and his Saints will be in its Perfection, is the Time of the Saints Glorification with Christ in Heaven; for that is the proper Time of the Saints entring in with the Bridegroom into the Marriage, Matth. 25. 10. The Saint's Conversion is rather like the betrothing of the intended Bride to her Bridegroom before they come together; but the Time of the Saint's Glorification is the Time when that shall be ful­filled in Psal. 45. 15. With Gladness and Rejoycing shall they be brought; they shall enter into the King's Palace. That is the Time when those that Christ loved, and gave himself for, that he might sanctify and cleanse them, as with the washing of Water by the Word, shall be presented to him in Glory, not having Spot or Wrinkle, or any such Thing. The Time wherein the Church shall be brought to the full Enjoyment of her Bridegroom, having all Tears wiped a­way from her Eyes; and there shall be no more Distance or Absence. She shall then be brought to the Entertain­ments of an eternal Wedding-Feast, and to dwell eternally with her Bridegroom; yea to dwell eternally in his Em­braces. Then Christ will give her his Loves; and she shall drink her Fill, yea she shall swim in the Ocean of his Love.

[Page 26] And as there are various Seasons wherein Christ and par­ticular Saints do more especially rejoyce in each other; so there are also certain Seasons wherein Christ doth more es­pecially rejoyce over his Church collectively taken. Such a Season is a Time of remarkable Out-pouring of the Spirit of God: it is a Time of the Espousal of many Souls to Christ: and so a Time of much of the Joy of Espousals: and also it is a Time wherein Christ is won't more especially to visit his Saints with his Loving-kindness, and to bring them near to himself, and especially to refresh their Hearts with divine Communications: on which Account, such a Time becomes a Time of great Joy to the Church of Christ. So when the Spirit of God was so wonderfully pour'd out on the City of Samaria, with the Preaching of Philip, we read that there was great Joy in that City, Act. 8. 8. And the Time of that wonderful Effusion of the Spirit at Jerusalem, begun at the Feast of Pentecost, was a Time of holy Feasting and Re­joycing, and a Kind of a Wedding-Day to the Church of Christ; wherein they continuing daily, with one Accord, in the Temple, and breaking Bread from House to House, did eat their Meat with Gladness, & Singleness of Heart; as Act. 2. 46.

But more especially is the Time of that great Out-pouring of the Spirit of God, in the latter Days, so often foretold in the Scripture, represented as the Time of the Marriage of the Lamb, and of the Rejoycing of Christ and his Church in each other, as the Bridegroom and the Bride. This is the Time prophesyed of in our Text and Context; and this is the Time foretold in Isai.65.19. I will rejoyce in Jerusalem, and Joy in my People; and the Voice of Weeping shall no more [...]e heard in her, nor the Voice of Crying. This is the Time spoken of, Rev. 19. 6,7,8,9. where the Apostle John tells us, He heard as it were the Voice of a great Multitude, and as the Voice of many Waters, and as the Voice of mighty Thundrings, saying Alleluia; for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad, and rejoyce, and give Honour to him; for the Mar­riage of the Lamb is come, and his Wife hath made her self r [...]ady. And adds, To her was granted that she should be ar­rayed, [Page 27] in [...], clean and white; for the fine Linnen is the Righteousness of Saints. And [...]e saith unto me, write, Blessed are they [...] are called to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

But above all, the Time of [...] C [...]ming, is the Time of the Consummation of the Church's Marriage with the Lamb, and the Time of the compleat and most per­fect [...] of the Wedding. In that Resurrection-Morning, when the Sun of Righteousness shall appear in our Heavens, [...] in all his Brightness and Glory, he will come forth as a Bridegroom; He shall come in the Glory of his Father, with all his [...] Angels. And at that glorious Appearing o [...] the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ, shall the [...] Church, compleat as to every individual Mem­ber, and each Member with the whole Man, both Body and Soul, and both in perfect Glory, ascend up to meet the Lord in the Air, to [...] thenceforth forever with the Lord. [...] will be a [...] Meeting of this glorious Bridegroom and Bride [...] Then the Bridegroom will appear in all his Glory without any Veil: and then the Saints shall shine forth as the Sun in the Kingdom of their Father, and at the Right Land of their Redeemer; and then the Church will appear as the Bride, the Lamb's Wife. 'Tis the State of the Church after the Resurrection, that is spoken of Rev. 21. 2. And I John saw the holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a Bride, adorned for her Husband. And ver. 9. Come hither; I will shew thee the Bride, the Lamb's Wife. Then will come the Time when Christ will sweetly invite hi [...] Spouse to enter in with him into the Palace of his Glory, which he had been preparing for her from the Foundation of the World, and shall as it were take her by the Hand, and lead her in with him: and this glorious Bridegroom & Bride shall with all their shining Ornaments, ascend up together into the Heaven of Heaven; the whole Multitude of glorious Angels waiting upon them: and this Son and Daughter of God shall, in their united Glory and Joy, present themselves together before the Fa­ther; when Christ shall say, Here am I, and the Children [Page 28] which thou hast given me: And they both shall in that Re­lation and Union, together receive the Father's Blessing; and shall thenceforward rejoyce together, in consummate, [...] [...]upted, immutable, and everlasting Glory, in the Love and Embraces of each other, and joint Enjoyment of the Love of the Father.

2. That forementioned Union of faithful Ministers with the People of Christ, is in order to this Blessedness.

1. 'Tis only with Reference to Christ, as the true Bride­groom of his Church, that there is any Union between a faithful Minister and a Christian People, that is like that of a Bridegroom and Bride.

As I observ'd before, a faithful Minister espouses a christian People, not in his own Name, but as Christ's Ambassador: He espouses them, that in their being espoused to him, they may be espoused to Christ; and not that the Church may commit Adultery with him: 'Tis for his Sake that he loves her, with a tender conjugal Affection, as she is the Spouse of Christ, and as he, as the Minister of Christ, has his Heart under the Influence of the Spirit of Christ; as Abraham's faithful Servant, that was sent to fetch a Wife for his Master's Son, was captivated with Rebeckah's Beauty and Vertue; but not with Reference to an Union with himself, but with his Master Isaac: it was for his sake he loved her, and it was for him that he desired her, and sat his Heart upon her, that she might be Isaac's Wife: and it was for this that he greatly rejoyced over her, and for this he woo'd her, and for this he obtained her, and she was for a Season united to him; but it was but as a Fellow-Traveller, that by him she might be brought to Isaac in the Land of Canaan; and for this he adorned her with Ornaments of Gold; it was to prepare her for Isaac's Embraces. All that tender Care which a faithful Minister takes of his People as a kind of spiritual Husband, to pro­vide for them, to lead and feed them, and comfort them, is not as looking upon them his own Bride, but his Master's.

[Page 29] And on the other Hand, the People receive him, and unite themselves to him in Covenant, and honour him, and subject themselves to him, and obey him, only for Christ's Sake, and as one that represents him, and acts in his Name towards them. All this Love and Honour and Submission is ultimately refer'd to Christ. Thus the Apostle says, Gal. 4. 14. Ye received me as an Angel, or Messenger of God, even as Christ Jesus. And the Children that are brought forth in Consequence of the Union of the Pastor and People, are not properly the Minister's Children, but the Children of Christ; they are not born of Man, but of God.

2. The Things that appertain to that foremention'd Union of a faithful Minister and Christian People, are the principal appointed Means of bringing the Church to that Blessedness that has been spoken of. As Abraham's Servant, and the Part he acted as Isaac's Agent towards Rebeckah, were the principal Means of his being brought to enjoy the Benefits of her conjugal Relation to Isaac. Ministers are sent to wooe the Souls of Men for Christ, 2 Cor. 5.20. We are then Ambassadors for Christ; as tho' God did you by us; we pray you in Christ's Stead, be ye reconciled to God. We read in Math. 22. of a certain King, that made a Marriage for his Son, and sent forth his Servants to invite and bring in the Guests: 'Tis Ministers that are these Ser­vants. The Labours of faithful Ministers are the principal Means God is won't to make use of for the Conversion of the Children of the Church, and so of their Espousals unto Christ. I have espoused you to one Husband, says the A­postle, 2 Cor. 11. 2. The Preac [...]g of the Gospel by faithful Ministers is the principal Means that God makes use of for the exhibiting Christ and his Love and Benefits to his elect People, and the [...] Means of then [...] sancti­fied, and so fitted to enjoy their [...]. Christ loved the Church, and gave him [...], that he might sanctify and [...] of Water by the Word (i. e. by the [...] Gospel) and so might present it to himself, [...] Church. The Labours [Page 30] of faithful Ministers are ordinarily the principal Means of the Joy of the Saints in Christ Jesus, in their Fellow­ship with their spiritual Bridegroom in this World; 2 Cor. 1. 24. We are Helpers of your Joy. They are the Instruments that God make use o [...] for the bringing up the Church, as it were, from her Childhood, 'till she is fit for her Marriage with the Lord of Glory; as [...] brought up [...], or Esther, whereby she was fitted to be Queen in Ahasuerus's Court. God purifies the Church under their Hand; as Esther, to fit her for her Marriage with the King, was committed to the Custody of Hegai the Keeper of the Women, to be purified six Months with O [...] of [...], and six Months with sweet Odours. They are made the Instruments of cloathing the Church in her Wedding-Garments, that fine Linnen clean and white, and adorning her for her Husband; as [...] Servant adorned Rebeckah with golden Ear-Rings and Bracelets. Faithful Ministers are made the Instruments of leading the People of God in the Way to Heaven, conducting them to the glorious Pre­sence of the Bridegroom, to the consummate Joys of her Marriage with the Lamb; [...] Abraham's Servant conducted Rebeckah from Padan [...]aram to Canaan, and presented her to Isaac, & delivered her into his Embraces. For 'tis the Office of Ministers, not only to espouse the Church to her Husband, but to present her a chaste Virgin to Christ.

I would now conclude this Discourse with some EXHORTATIONS, agreable to what has been said. And

1. The Exhortation may be to all that are called to the Work of the Gospel Ministry.—Let us who are honoured by the glorious Bridegroom of the Church, to be employed as his Ministers, to so high a Purpose, as has been repre­sented, be engaged and induced by what has been observed, to Faithfulness in our great Work; that we may be, and act towards Christ's People, that are committed to our Care, as those that are united to 'em in holy Espousals, for Christ's Sake, and in order to their being brought to the unspeaka­ble [Page 31] Blessedness of that more glorious Union with the Lamb of God, in which he shall rejoyce over them, as the Bride­groom rejoyceth over the Bride. Let us see to it that our Hearts are united to them, as a young Man to a Virgin that he marries, in the most ardent and tender Affection; and that our Regard to 'em be pure and uncorrupt, that it may be a Regard to them, and not to what they have, or any worldly Advantages we hope to gain of them. And let us behave our selves as th [...]se that are devoted to their Good: being willing to spend and be spent for them; joyfully un­dertaking and enduring the Labour and Self-denial that is requisite in order to a thorough fulfilling the Ministry that we have received; continually and earnestly endeavouring to promote the Prosperity and Salvation of the Souls com­mitted to our Care; and, as those that are their Bone and their Flesh, looking on their Calamities and their Prosperity as our own; feeling their spiritual Wounds and Griefs, and refreshed with their Consolations; and spending our whole Lives in diligent Care and Endeavour to provide for, nou­rish and instruct our People, as the intended Spouse of Christ, yet in her Minority, that we may form her Mind and Be­haviour, and bring her up for him, and that we may cleanse her, as with the washing of Water by the Word, and pu­rify her as with sweet Odours, and clothed in such Raiment as may become Christ's Bride; that when the appointed Wedding-Day comes, we may have done our Work as Christ's Messengers; and may then be ready to present Christ's Spouse to him, a chaste Virgin, properly educated and formed, and suitably adorned for her Marriage with the Lamb; that he may then present her to himself, a glori­ous Church, not having Spot or Wrinkle or any such Thing, and may receive her into his eternal Embraces, in perfect Purity, Beauty and Glory.

Here I would mention three or four Things tending to excite us to this Fidelity.

[Page 32] 1. We ought to consider how much Christ has done to obtain that Joy that has been spoken of, in order to which we have been called to the Work of the Ministry; viz. that wherein Christ rejoyces over his Church, as the Bridegroom rejoyceth over the Bride.

The Creation of the World seems to have been especially for this End, that the eternal Son of God might obtain a Spouse, towards whom he might fully exercise the infinite Benevolence of his Nature, and to whom he might, as it were, open and pour forth all that immense Fountain of Condescension, Love and Grace that was in his Heart, and that in this Way God might be glorified. Doubtless the Work of Creation is subordinate to the Work at Redemp­tion: that is called the Creation of the new Heavens and new Earth, and is represented as so much more excellent than the old, that that, in Comparison of it, is not worthy to be mention'd, or come into Mind.

But Christ has done greater Things than to create the World, to obtain his Bride and the Joy of his Espousals with her: For he was incarnate, and become Man for this End; which was a greater Thing than his creating the World. For the Creator to make the Creature was a great Thing; but for him to become a Creature was a greater Thing. And he did a much greater Thing still to obtain this Jo [...]; in that for this he laid down his Life, and suffered even the Death of the Cross: for this he poured out his Soul unto Death, and he that is the Lord of the Universe, God over all blessed for evermore, offered up himself a Sacrifice, in both Body and Soul, in the Flames of divine Wrath. Christ obtains his elect Spouse by Conquest: for she was a Captive in the Hands of dreadful Enemies; and her Redeemer came into the World to conquer these Enemies, and rescue her out of their Hands, that she might be his Bride: And he came, and encounter'd these Enemies in the greatest Battle that ever was beh [...]ld by Men or Angels: He fought with Prin­cipal [...] and Powers; He fought alone with the Powers of [Page 33] Darkness, and all the Armies of Hell; yea he conflicted with the infinitely more dreadful Wrath of God, and over­came in this great Battle; and thus he obtained his Spouse. Let us consider at how great a Price Christ purchased this Spouse: He did not redeem her with corruptible Things as Silver and Gold, but with his own precious Blood; yea he gave [...] for her. When he offered up himself to God in [...] extream Labours and Sufferings, this was the Joy that was set before him, that made him chearfully to endure the Cross, and despise the Pain and Shame, in com­parison of this Joy [...]; even that rejoycing over his Church, as the Bridegroom rejoyceth over the Bride, that the Father had promised him, and that he expected when he should pre­sent her to himself in perfect Beauty and Blessedness.

The Prospect of this was what supported him in the midst of the dismal Prospect of his Sufferings, at which his Soul was troubled; as appears by the Account we have Joh. 12. See v. 27. Now is [...] Soul troubled: and what shall I say? Father save me from this Hour: But for this Cause came I unto this Hour. These Words shew the Conflict and Distress of Christ's holy Soul, in the View of his approaching Sufferings. But in the midst of his Trouble, he was refreshed with the joyful Prospect of the Success of those Sufferings, in bring­ing home his elect Church to himself, signified by a Voice from Heaven, and promised by the Father: on which he says, in the Language of Triumph, Ver. 31. 32. Now is the Judgment of this World: now shall the Prince of this World be cast out; and I, if I be lifted up, will draw all Men unto me.

And Ministers of the Gospel are appointed to be the In­struments of bringing this to pass; the Instruments of bringing home his elect [...]pouse to him, and her becoming his Bride; and the Instruments o [...] her sanctifying and clean­sing by the Word, that she might be meet to be presented to him on the future glorious Wedding-Day. How great a Motive then is here to induce us that are called to be these [Page 34] Instruments, to be faithful in our Work, and most willingly labour and suffer, that Christ may see of the [...] of his Soul and be sati [...]fied? Shall Christ do such great Things, and go through such great Labours and sufferings to obtain this Joy, and then [...] us sinful [...] so as to employ us as his Ministers and Instruments to bring this Joy [...]; and shall we be loth to labour, and [...] to deny our selves [...]or this End?

2. Let us consider how much the Manner in which Christ employs us in this great Business, has to engage us to a faith­ful Performance of it. We are [...] forth as his Servants; but it is as highly dignified Servants, as Stewards of his Houshold, as Abraham's Servant; and as his Ambassadors, to stand in his Stead, and in [...] Name, and represent his Person in so great an Affair as [...] of his Espousals with the eternally beloved of his Soul. Christ employs us not as meer Servants, but as Friends of the Bridegroom; agreable to the Style in which John the [...] speaks of himself, [...]. 3. 29. in which he probably [...] to an ancient Custom among the Jews at their nuptial Solemnities, a [...] which one of the Guests that was most honoured and next in Dignity to the Bridegroom, was styled the Friend of the Bridegroom.

There is not an Angel in Heaven, or how high an Order soever, but what looks [...] himself honoured by the Son of God and Lord of Glory, in being employed by him as his Ministers, in the high Affair of his Espousals with his blessed Bride. But we are not only thus honoured; but such an Honour as th [...] has Christ put upon us, that his Spouse should in [...] that we should marry, as a young Man [...] the same [...] Person that he himself [...] rejoyce over as the Bridegroom rejoyceth over the Bride; that we [...] Ministers, [...]o treat [...] transact for him with [...] that he might obtain this Joy; and to transact in such a Manner with her as in our Treaty with her, to be married to her in his Name, and [...] an Image of his own endearing Relation to her; and [Page 35] that she should receive us, in some Sort, as himself, and her Heart be united to us in Esteem Honour and Affection, as those that represent him; and that Christ's & the Church's Children should be ours; and that the same that is the Fruit of the Travail of Christ's Soul, should be also the Fruit of the Travail of our Souls: As the Apostle speaks of himself as travailing in Birth with his Hearers, Gal. 4. 19. The Reason why Christ puts such Honour on faithful Ministers, even above the Angels themselves, is because they are of his beloved Church; they are select Members of his dear Spouse; and Christ esteems nothing too much for her, no Honour too great for her. Therefore Jesus Christ, the King of Angels and Men, does as it were cause it to be proclaimed concerning faithful Ministers, as Ahasuerus did concerning him that brought up Esther his beloved Queen; Thus shall it be done to the Man that the King delights to Honour.

And seeing Christ hath so honoured us, that our Relation to his People imitates his; surely our Affection to them should resemble his, and we should imitate him in seeking their Salvation, spiritual Peace and Happiness, as Christ [...]ought it. Our tender Care, Labours, Self-denial, and Readiness to suffer for their Happiness, should imitate what hath appeared in him, that hath purchased them with his own Blood.

3. Let it be considered, that if we faithfully acquit our selves in our Office, in the Manner that hath been repre­sented, we shall surely hereafter be Partakers of the Joy, when the Bridegroom and Bride shall rejoyce in each other in perfect and eternal Glory.

God once gave forth a particular Command, with special Solemnity, that it should be written for the Notice of all professing Christians through all Ages; that they are happy and blessed indeed, who are called to the Marriage-Supper of the Lamb: Rev. 19. 9. And he saith unto me, write, Blessed are they that are called to the Marriage-Supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, these are the true Sayings of [Page 36] God. But if we are faithful in our Work, we shall surely be the Subjects of that Blessedness; we shall be Partakers of the Joy of the Bridegroom and Bride, not meerly as Friends and Neighbours that are invited to be occasional Guests, but as Members of the one and the other. We shall be Partakers with the Church the blessed Bride in her Joy in the Bridegroom, not only as Friends and Ministers to the Church, but as Members of principal Dignity; as the Eye, the Ear, the Hand, are principal Members of the Body. Faithful Ministers in the Church will hereafter be a Part of the Church that shall receive distinguished Glory at the Resurrection of the Just, which above all other Times may be looked on as the Church's Wedding-Day: Dan. 12. 2,3. Many of them that sleep in the Dust of the Earth shall awake; some to everlasting Life.—And they that be wife shall shine as the Brightness of the Firmament, and they that turn many to Righteousness, as the Stars for ever & ever. They are Elders that are represented as that Part of the Church triumphant that sit next to the Throne of God, Rev. 4.4. And round about the Throne were four and twenty Seats; and upon the Seats, I saw four and twenty Elders sit­ting, clothed in white Raiment; and they had on their Heads Crowns of Gold.

And we shall also be Partakers of the Joy of the Bride­groom, in his rejoycing over his Bride. We as the special Friends of the Bridegroom shall stand by the Bridegroom, and hear him express his Joy on that Day, and rejoyce greatly because of the Bridegroom's Voice; as John the Baptist said of himself, Joh. 3. 29. He that hath the Bride is the Bride­groom: but the Friend of the Bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoyceth greatly because of the Bridegroom's Voice. Christ in Reward for our faithful Service, in winning and espousing his Bride to him, and bringing her up from her Minority, and adorning her for him, will then call us to partake with him in the Joy of his Marriage. And she that will then be his Joy, shall also be our Crown of Rejoycing. 1 Thes. 2. 19. What is our Hope, or Joy, or Crown of Re­joycing? [Page 37] Are not ye, in the Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, at his Coming? What a joyful Meeting had Christ & his Dis­ciples together, when the Disciples returned to their Master, after the faithful & successful Performance of their appointed Service, when Christ sent 'em forth to preach the Gospel; Luke 10. 17. And the Seventy returned with Joy, saying, Lord, even the Devils are subject to us through thy Name. Here we see how they rejoyce: The next Words show how Christ also rejoyced on that Occasion: And he said unto them, I beheld Satan like Lightning fall from Heaven. And in the next Verse but two, we are told that in that [...] Jesus rejoyced in Spirit; and said, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of Hea­ved and Earth, that thou hast hid these Things from the wise and prudent, and has revealed them unto [...]. So if we faithfully acquit our selves, we shall another Day return to him with Joy; and we shall rejoyce with him and he with us. Then will be the Day when Christ that has sown in Tears and in Blood, and we that have reaped the Fruits of his Labours and Sufferings, shall rejoyce together; agreable to Joh. 4. 35,36,37. And that will be an happy Meeting indeed, when Christ and his lovely & blessed Bride, and faithful Ministers that have been the Instruments of wooing and winning her Heart to him, and adorning her for him, and presenting her to him, shall all rejoyce together.

4. Further to stir us up to Faithfulness in the great Busi­ness that is appointed us, in order to the mutual Joy of this Bridegroom & Bride, let us consider what Reason we have to hope that the Time is approaching when this Joy shall be, to a glorious Degree, fulfil'd on Earth, far beyond what­ever yet has been; I mean the Time of the Church's latter Day Glory. This is what the Words of our Text have a more direct Respect to; and this is what is prophecied of in Hos. 2. 19,20. And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea I will betroth thee unto me in Righteousness, and in Judg­ment, and in Loving-kindness, and in Mercies: I will even betroth thee unto me in Faithfulness; and thou shall know the Lord. And this is what is especially intended by the Mar­riage of the Lamb in Rev. Chap. 19.

[Page 38] We are sure this Day will come: and we have many Reasons to think that it is approaching; from the Fulfilment of almost every Thing that the Prophecies speaks of as pre­ceeding it, and their having been fulfil'd now of a long Time; and from the general earnest Expectations of the Church of God, and the best of her Ministers & Members, and the l [...]te extraordinary Things that have appeared in the Church of God, and appertaining to the State of Religion, and the present Aspects of divine Providence, which the Time will not allow me largely to insist upon.

As the Happiness of that Day will have a great Resem­blance of the Glory and Joy of the eternal Wedding-Day of the Church after the Resurrection of the Just; so will the Priviledges that faithful Ministers shall be the Subjects of at that Time, much resemble the blessed Priviledges, that they shall enjoy, as partaking with the Bridegroom and Bride, in their Honour and Happiness, in eternal Glory. This is the Time especially intended in the Text, wherein it is said, as a young Man marrieth a Virgin, so shall thy Sons marry thee. And it is after in the Prophecies spoken of as a great Part of the Glory of that Time, that then the Church should be so well supplied with faithful Ministers. So in the next Verse to the Text, I have set Watchmen on thy Walls, O Jerusalem, that shall never hold their Peace, Day nor Night. So Isai. 30. 20, 21. Thy Teachers shall not be re­moved into a Corner any more; but thine Eyes shall see thy Teachers; and thine Ears shall hear a Word behind thee, saying, This is the Way, walk in it, when ye turn to the right Hand, and when ye turn to the left. Jer. 3. 15. And I will give you Pastors according to mine Heart, that shall feed you with Know­ledge and Understanding. And Chap. 23. 4. And I will set up Shepherds over them, which shall feed them. And the great Priviledge and Joy of faithful Ministers at that Day is foretold in Isai. 52.8. Thy Watchmen shall lift up the Voice; with the Voice together shall they sing: For they shall see Eye to Eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.

[Page 39] And as that Day must needs be approaching, and we our selves have lately seen some Things that we have Reason to hope are Fore-runners of it; certainly it should strongly excite us to endeavour to be such Pastors, as God has pro­mised to bless his Church with at that Time; that if any of us should live to see the Dawning of that glorious Day, we might share in the Blessedness of it, and then be called, as the Friends o [...] the Bridegroom, to the Marriage-Supper of the Lamb, and partake of that Joy in which Heaven and Earth, Angels and Saints, and Christ and his Church, shall be united at that Time.

But here I would apply the Exhortation in a few Words to that Minister [...] of CHRIST, who above all others is con­cerned in the Solemnity of this Day, who is now to be united to, and set over this People as their Pastor.

You have now heard, Rev. Sir, the great Importance, and high Ends of the Office of an evangelical Pastor, and the glorious Priviledges of such as are faithful in this Office, imperfectly represented. May God grant that your Union with this People, this Day, as their Pastor, may be such, that God's People here may have the great Promise God makes to his Church in the Text, now fulfil'd unto them. May you now, as one of the precious Sons of Zion, take this Part of Christ's Church by the Hand, in the Name of your great Master the glorious Bridegroom, with an Heart devoted unto him with true Adoration & supream Affection, and for his sake [...] to this People, in a spiritual and pure Love, and as it were a conjugal Tenderness; ardently de­siring that great Happiness for them, which you have now heard Christ has chosen his Church unto, and has shed his Blood to obtain for her; being your self ready to spend and be spent for them; remembring the great Errand on which Christ sends you to them, viz. to woo & win their Hearts, and espouse their Souls to him, and to bring up his elect Spouse, and to fit and adorn her for his Embraces; that you may in due Time present her a chaste Virgin to him, for [Page 40] him to rejoyce over, as the Bridegroom rejoyceth over the Bride. How honourable is this Business that Christ employs you in! and how joyfully should you perform it! When Abraham's faithful Servant was sent to take a Wife for his Master's Son, how engaged was he in the Business; and how joyful was he when he was succeeded! With what Joy did he bow his Head and worship, and bless the Lord God of his Master, for his Mercy and his Truth in making his Way prosperous! And what a joyful Meeting may we conclude he had with Isaac, when he met him in the Field, by the Well of [...], and there presented his beauteous Rebekah to him, and told him, all Things that he had done! But this was but a Shadow of that Joy that you shall have, if you imitate his Fidelity, in the [...] when you shall meet your glorious Master, and present Christ's Church in this Place, as a chaste and beautiful Virgin unto him.

We trust, dear Sir, that you will esteem it a most blessed Employment to spend your Time and Skill in adorning Christ's Bride for her Marriage with the Lamb, and that it is Work that you will do with Delight; and that you will take Heed that the Ornaments you put upon her are of the right Sort, what shall be indeed beautiful and precious in the Eyes of the Bridegroom, that she may be all glorious within, and her Cloathing of wrought Gold; that on the Wedding-Day, she may stand on the King's right Hand in Gold of Ophir.

The joyful Day is coming, when the Spouse of Christ shall be led in unto the King with Raiment of Needle-Work; and Angels and faithful Ministers will be the Servants that shall lead her in. And you, Sir, if you are faithful in the Charge that is now to be committed to you, shall be joined with glorious Angels in that honourable and joyful Service; but with this Difference, that you shall have the higher Pri­viledge. Angels and faithful Ministers shall be together in bringing in Christ's Bride into his Palace, and presenting her to him: But faithful Ministers shall have a much higher [Page 41] Participation of the Joy of that Occasion: They shall have a greater and more immediate Participation with the Bride in her Joy; for they shall not only be Ministers to the Church as the Angels are, but Parts of the Church, prin­cipal Members of the Bride. And as such, at the same Time that Angels do the Part of ministring Spirits to the Bride, when they conduct her to the Bridegroom, they shall also do the Part of ministring Spirits to faithful Ministers. And they shall also have an higher Participation with the Bridegroom than the Angels, in his Rejoycing at that Time; for they shall be nearer to him than they; for they are also his Members, and are those that are honoured as the prin­cipal Instruments of espousing the Saints to him, and fitting them for the Enjoyment of him; and therefore they will be more the Crown of Rejoycing of faithful Ministers, than of the Angels of Heaven.

So great, dear Sir, is the Honour and Joy that is set before you, to engage you to Faithfulness in your pastoral Care of this People; so glorious the Prize that Christ has set up to engage you to run the Race that is set before you.

I would now conclude with a few Words to the People of this Congregation, whose Souls are now to be committed to the Care of that Minister of CHRIST, whom they have chosen as their Pastor.

Let me take Occasion, dear Brethren, from what has been said, to exhort you, not forgetting the Respect, Honour and Reverence, that will ever be due from you to your former Pastor, that has served you so long in that Work, but by Reason of Age and growing Infirmities, and the Prospect of his Place being so happily supplied by a Successor, has seen meet to relinquish the Burden of the Pastoral Charge over you; I say, Let me exhort you (not forgetting due Respect to him as a Father) to perform the Duties that belong to you, in your Part of that Relation and Union, now to be established between you and your [Page 42] elect Pastor: To receive him as the Messenger of the Lord of Hosts, one that in his Office represents the glorious Bridegroom of the Church, to love and honour him, and willingly submit your selves to him, as a Virgin when mar­ried to an Husband. Surely the Feet of that Messenger should be beautiful, that comes to you on such a blessed Errand as that which you have heard, to espouse you to the eternal Son of God, and to fit you for, and lead you to him as your Bridegroom. Your chosen Pastor comes to you on this Errand, and he comes in the Name of the Bridegroom, so impowred by him, and representing him, that in receiving him, you will receive Christ, and in reject­ing him, you will reject Christ.

Be exhorted to treat your Pastor, as the beautiful and virtuous Rebekah treated Abraham's Servant: She most charitably and hospitably entertained him, provided Lodging and Food for him and his Company, and took Care that he should be comfortably entertained and supplied in all Re­spects, while he continued in his Embassy; and that was the Note or Mark of Distinction which God himself gave him, by which he should know the true Spouse of Isaac from all others of the Daughters of the City. Therefore in this Respect approve your selves as the true Spouse of Christ, by giving kind Entertainment to your Minister that comes to espouse you to the Antitype of Isaac. Provide for his out­ward Subsistence & Comfort, with the like Chearfulness that Rebekah did for Abraham's Servant. You have an Account of her Alacrity and Liberality in supplying him, in Gen. 24. 18,19,20, & 25—Say as her Brother did, Ver. 31. Come in thou blessed of the Lord.

Thus you should entertain your Pastor. But this is not that wherein your Duty towards him chiefly lies: The main Thing is to comply with him in his great Errand, and to yield to the Suit that he makes to you in the Name of Christ, to go to be his Bride. In this you should be like Rebekah: she was from what she heard of Isaac, S [...] God's Covenant with [Page 43] him, and Blessing upon him, from the Mouth of Abraham's Servant, willing for ever to forsake her own Country, and her Father's House, to go into a Country she had never seen, to be Isaac's Wife, whom also she never saw. After she had heard what the Servant had to say, and her old Friends had a Mind she should put off the Affair for the present, but it was insisted on that she should go immediately, and she was enquired of whether she would go with this Man, she said, I will go: and she left her Kindred, and followed the Man, through all that long Journey, 'till he had brought her unto Isaac, and they three had that joyful Meeting in Canaan. If you will this Day receive your Pastor in that Union that is now to be established between him and you, it will be a joyful Day in this Place, and the Joy will be like the Joy of Espousals, as when a young Man marries a Vir­gin; and it will not only be a joyful Day in East Hampton, but it will doubtless be a joyful Day in Heaven, on your Account. And your Joy will be a faint Resemblance, and a Fore-runner of that future Joy, when Christ shall rejoyce over you as the Bridegroom rejoyceth over the Bride, in heavenly Glory.

And if your Pastor be faithful in his Office, and you hearken and yield to him in that great Errand on which Christ sends him to you, the Time will come, wherein you and your Pastor will be each others Crown of Rejoycing, and wherein Christ and he and you shall all meet together at the glorious Marriage of the Lamb, and shall rejoyce in and over one another, with perfect, uninterrupted, never ending and never fading Joy.


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