« PreviousContinue »
2. Query. The next thing is to open the tranfcendent excellency of Chrift's flefb and blood, above all other food in the world. And this appears in four particulars.
First, This flesh and blood was affumed into the nearest union with the second perfon in the bleffed Trinity, and fo is not only dignified above all other created beings, but becomes the first receptacle of all grace, intended to be communicated through it to the children of men; John i. 14.
Secondly, This flesh and blood of Chrift was offered up to God, as the great facrifice for our fins, and purchase of our peace; Col. i. 20. Eph. v. 2. and fo it is of ineftimable price and value to believers. The human nature of Chrift was the facrifice, the divine nature was the altar on which it was offered up, and by which it was dignified and fanctified, and made an offering of a fweet-fmelling favour to God, Eph. v. 2.
Thirdly, This flesh and blood of Chrift, is the great medium of conveyance of all bleffings and mercies to the fouls and bodies of believers. It lies as a vaft pipe at the fountain-head of bleffings, receiving and conveying them from God to men; Col. i. 14, 19.
So then, it being united to the fecond perfon, and fo become the flesh and blood of God; it being the facrifice offered up to God for atonement and remiffion of fins, and the medium of conveying all grace and mercy from God the fountain, to the fouls and bodies of believers; how fweet a relish muft it have upon the palate of faith Here faith may tafte the fweetness of a pardon; a full, free, and final pardon of fin; than which nothing in this world can be fweeter to a fin-burdened confcience.
Here it taftes the incomparable sweetness of peace with God, a peace which paffeth understanding: The breach fin made, is. by this facrifice made up for ever; Col. i. 20.
Here it taftes the inexpreffible fweetness of acceptation with God, and an intereft in his favour; a mercy, which a poor convinced foul would give ten thoufand worlds for, were it to be purchased. Yea, here it relifheth all the fweet promifes in the covenant of grace, as confirmed and ratified by this facrifice; Heb. ix. 5. So that well might he fay, "My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed;" the most excellent New Teftament food for believers ::
I. Ufe, of information.
First, See here the love of a Saviour, that heavenly pelican, who feeds us with his own flesh and blood. You read, Lam. iv. 10. of pitiful women, who eat the flesh of their own chil
dren; but where have you read of men or women, that gave their own flesh and blood, for meat and drink to their children? Think on this, you that are fo loth to cross and deny your flesh for Chrift: He fuffered his flesh to be rent, and his blood fet abroach for you: What love like the love of Chrift!
Secondly, Learn hence a ground of content, in the lowest and pooreft condition allotted to any believer in this world. It may be fome of you live low in the world; you have hard fare, and are abridged of many of thofe fweet comforts in the creature, which the enemies of God abound in: But ftill remember you have no caufe to envy their dainties, and be diffatisfied with your own lot and portion; when not many nobles, or mighty in the world, feed as your fouls do feed. O what a feast have you! What dainties do your fouls tafte by faith; whilft others do but feed upon afhes and husks? What is the flesh of lambs and calves out of the fall, to the flesh of Christ? Amos vi. 4, 5, 6. What is wine in bowls, and the chief ointment, to the blood of Chrift, and the anointings of his Spirit? O be fatisfied with your outward lot, however God hath caft it, whilst he hath dealt fo bountifully with your fouls.
Thirdly, Learn hence the neceffity of faith, in order to the livelihood and fubfiftance of our fouls. What is a feast to him that cannot tafte it? And what is Chrift to him that cannot believe? That cannot, by faith, eat his flesh, and drink his blood?
It is not the preparation made for fouls in Christ, but the application of him by faith, that gives us the fweenefs and benefit of him. Faith is the foul's mouth, or palate: The unbeliever taftes no fweetness in Chrift; he can relish more sweetriefs in money, meat, drink, carnal mirth, or any fenfual enjoyment than in Christ.
Fourthly, How excellent are gospel ordinances? What sweetness is there to be found in them by true believers? For there Chrift is prepared, and, as it were, ferved in for them to feed upon. It is your minifter's work, to prepare for you all the week long, and to furnish for you a feast of fat things. Lo here is a table spread and furnished this day, with the coftJieft dainties that heaven affords? O prize thefe mercies: fit not here with flat, or wanton appetites, left God call to your enemies, and bid them away.
II. Ufe, of exhortation.
Is the flesh and blood of Christ meat and drink indeed ? Then let me exhort you, brethren,
First, To come to this table with fharp and hungry appetites. Have you ever tafted, That the Lord is gracious? And do you not hunger and thirst, to taste it again? Surely, "Where the carcafe is, thither will the eagles be gathered;" Matth. xxiv. 28. There is a two fold appetite; a dainty, and an hungry appetite. Beware of a nice and dainty appetite, that can relish nothing in the moft folid and fpiritual duties, except the difh be garnished with flowers of rhetoric, or the matter ferved in with art and elegancy. This hath been the great fin of the profeffors of this generation. O Chriftians! no more of that I pray you. Were you really an hungred and athirst for Chrift, you would come to his ordinances, as famishing men to a feast.
Secondly, To feed heartily upon Chrift, in every ordinance, and in every facrament efpecially. O that your fouls might hear, and anfwer that invitation this day! Cant. v. 1. "Eat, O "friends: drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved."
For motives, I will only hint these three following.
First, Chrift is the matter of the feast. God hath prepared him for your fouls. Is any thing in heaven or earth so sweet, as Christ facrificed is? Do not the angels and faints in heaven feast upon him? Surely one drop of Chrift's blood hath more fweetnefs and excellency in it, than the whole ocean of all creature-comforts.
Secondly, Do not your graces need it? Have you not a languifhing love, a ftaggering faith, dull and fluggish defires? Look into your hearts, and fee what need there is of ftrengthening the things that are in you, which are ready to die. O feed upon Chrift, that your graces may be revived and strengthened.
Thirdly, Do you know how many days you are to go in the ftrength of this meal? How long it may be, ere you fit again at the Lord's table? Surely, even thefe, as well as your inferior temporal comforts, ftand upon terms of greatest uncertainty. Ah Chriftians! confider well the times you live in, the enemy that ftands ready to take away the cloth, and remove your fpiritual food from you. It is faid of Peter Martyr, that being in Oxford when queen Mary came in, and hearing the first mafs-bell ring; he was ftruck to the heart, and faid, Hace una notula omnem meam doctrinam evertit: This one tinkling bell overthrows all the labours of my miniftry at once.
God grant that we may hear none of that music in England any more but it is like to be, according to your estimation and improvement of Chrift's precious ordinances.
Thirdly, Commend the experienced sweetness of Chrift to qthers. Do not conceal his lovelinefs and excellency. Thus the fair and enamoured fpoufe charges, or adjures others; Cant. V. 9. Be not content to feaft upon Chrift alone, whilft other fouls are starving, and perhaps the fouls of your dear natural relations. Say to them, as David, Pfal. xxxiv. 8. "O taste and "fee how good the Lord is."
Fourthly, and lastly, See that your appetite to Chrift be right, and truly fpiritual. Such an hunger and thirst, upon which bleffedness is entailed by promife. And you may conclude it fo, when,
First, It is a fharp and strong appetite, Pfal. xlii. 1. Let your thoughts run upon Chrift night and day; even continually. Secondly, When it is an univerfal appetite, after every thing in Chrift; his holiness, as well as his righteoufnefs; his commands, as well as his promifes; for he is altogether lovely, Cant. v. 16.
Thirdly, When it is a continued appetite. I mean not, that the pulfe of your defires should keep an even stroke at all times, but that there be real and fincere workings of heart after him always; Pfal. cxix. 20.
Fourthly, When it is an induftrious appetite, awakening the foul to the use of all means, and practice of all duties, in order to fatisfaction; Pfal. xxvii. 4. "One thing have I defired of *the Lord, and that will I feek after."
Fifthly, and lastly, It is then a right, when it is an infatiable appetite, never to be allayed with any thing befide Christ; Pfal. Ixxiii. 25. no, nor with Chrift himself, till thou comeft to the full enjoyment of him in heaven. The believer knows, how fweet foever his communion with Chrift is in this world, yet that communion he thall have with Chrift in heaven, will far excel it there it will be more intimate and immediate, I Cor xii. 12. more full and perfect, even to fatisfaction, Pfal. xvii, 15. more conftant and continued, not fuffering fuch interruptions as it doth here, Rev. xxi. 25 more pure and unmixed; here our corruptions work with our graces, Rom. vii. 21. but there grace shall work alone in a word, more durable and perpetual; we shall be ever with the Lord, I Theff. iv. 7. Long therefore to drink that new wine in the Father's kingdom. "The "Spirit and the bride fay, Come; and let him that heareth, fay, Come. Even fo, come Lord Jefus; come quickly."
CANT. viii. 6. Set me as a feal upon thy heart, as a feal upon thine arm for love is ftrong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a moft vehement flame.
HIS book is a facred allegory; the fenfe thereof is deep and fpiritual. Our unacquaintedness with fuch fchemes and figures of fpeech, together with the want of fpiritual light and experience, makes it difficult to be understood; but the allegory being once unfolded, by reafon of its affinity with the fancy, truth is more easily and affectingly tranfmitted, both to the mind and heart.
St. Auguftin affigns this reafon, why we are fo much delight, ed with metaphors and allegories; because they are so much proportioned to our fenfes, with which our reafon hath contracted an intimacy and familiarity; and therefore God, to accommodate his truth to our capacity, doth, as it were, embody it in earthly expreffions; according to that of the ancient Cabbalifts, Lumen fupremum nunquam defcendit fine idumento; heavenly truth never defcendeth to us without its veil and covering.
The words before us, are the request of the spouse to Jesus Chrift; and confit of two parts, viz.
1. Her fuit; which is earnest.
2. Her argument; which is weighty.
1. Her earnest fait, or request to Jefus Chrift; "Set me as a feal upon thy heart, as a feal upon thine arm." The heart of Chrift notes his most dear, inward, and tender affection; his arm notes his protecting and preferving care and power. The laft naturally follows the firft; what men dearly affect, they tenderly and carefully protect. And by fetting her as a feal upon his heart and arm, the means a fure and a well-confirmed interest, both in his love and power; this fhe would have firmly fealed and ratified and that this is her meaning, will plainly appear from,
The argument with which she enforces her request : "love is ftrong as death; jealoufy is cruel as the grave," &c.. By jealoufy, we must understand her fears and fufpicions of coming short of Chrift and his love; q. d. What if after all I