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church as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, and she re- . joices 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 though the joy of Christ over his church only is mentioned, yet it is 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 whom they have chosen above others, for their nearest, most intimate, and everlasting friends and companions. The church is Christ's chosen, Isa. xli. 9. “I have chosen thee, and not cast tbee
away ?" chap. xlviii. 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 mere servants, but friends; John xv. 15. “I call you not servants ;—but I have called you friends." And though 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, Psalm cxxii, 8. “For my brethren and companions' sake I will now say, Peace be within thee.” So in the book of Canticles, be calls his church his sister and spouse.
Christ hath loved and chosen his church as his peculiar friend, above others; Psalm cxxxv. 4. “ The Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.” As the bridegroom chooses 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, Heb. ii. 16. He has chosen bis 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. vi. 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 having obtained in her that which he has chosen above all the rest of the creation, and as sweetly resting in his choice ; Psalm cxxxii. 13, 14. “ The Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it. This is my rest for ever."
On the other hand, the church chooses 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. xiv. 4, to be “ the first-fruits to God and the Lamb." As of old, the 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, James i. 18. “Of his own will begat he us by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” And Christ rejoices in his church, as in that which is peculiarly his, Isa. Ixv. 19. “I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people.” The church has also a peculiar propriety in Christ: though other things are hers, yet nothing is hers in that manner that her spiritual bridegroom is hers. Great and glorious as he is, yet he, with all his dignity and glory, 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 and triumph, “ My beloved is mine, and I am his." Cant. ii. 16. and vi. 3. and vii. 10.
Christ and his church, like the bridegroom and bride, rejoice in each other, as those that are the objects of each other's most tender and ardent love. The love of Christ to his church is altogether unparalleled : the height and 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 supreme 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 rejoices, and has sweet rest and delight in his love to the church ; Zeph. iii. 17. “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy: he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. So the church, in the exercise of her love to Christ, rejoices with unspeakable joy ; 1 Pet. i. 7, 8. “ Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, ye love; in whom? though now ye see him not, yet believe him, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.'
Christ and his church rejoice in each other's beauty. The church rejoices in Christ's divine beauty and glory. She as it were, sweetly solaces herself in the light of the glory of the surt Vol. VI.
of righteousness; and the saints say one to another, as in Isa. ii. 5, “O house of Jacob, come ye, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” The perfections and virtues of Christ are as a perfumed ointment to the church, that make his very name to be to her as ointment poured forth ; Cant. i. 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 rejoices 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. iii. 4. And he is spoken of as greatly desiring her beauty, Psalm xlv. 11. Yea, he himself speaks of his heart as ravished with her beauty, Cant. iv. 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, rejoice in each other's love. Wine is spoken of, Psalm civ. 15, as that which maketh glad man's heart : but the church of Christ is spoken of as rejoicing in the love of Christ, as that which is more pleasant and refreshing than wine, Cant. i. 4. “ The king bath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice 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. iv. 10. “How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse ; how much better is thy love than wine!”
Christ and his church rejoice in communion with each other as in being united in their happiness, and having fellowship and a joint participation in each other's good : as the bridegroom and bride rejoice together at the wedding-feast, and as thenceforward they are joint partakers of each other's comforts and joys : Rev. iii. 20. “If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me.” The church has fellowship with Christ in his own happiness, and his divine entertainments; his joy is fulfilled in her, John xv. 11. and xvii. 13. She sees light in his light; and she is made to drink at the river of his own pleasures, Psalm xxxvi. 8, 9. And Christ brings her to eat and drink at his own table, to take her fill of his own entertainments; Cant. v. 1.
Eat, O friends ; drink, yea, drink abundantly, 6 beloved.” And he, on the other hand, has fellowship with her; he feasts with her; her joys are his; and he rejoices in that entertainment that she provides for him. So Christ is said to feed among the lilies, Cant. ii. 16; and chap. vii. 13, she speaks of all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which she had laid up; and says to him, chap. iv. 16,“ Let my beloved come into bis garden, and eat his pleasant fruits;" and he makes answer in the next
verse, “I come into my garden, my sister, my spouse; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice, I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey, I have drunk my wine with my milk.”
And lastly, Christ and his church, as the bridegroom and bride, rejoice 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. v. 16, “ His mouth is most sweet." And, on the other hand, he says of her, chapter ii. 14, “Let me hear thy voice: for sweet is thy voice."
And chapter iv. 11, “ Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honey-comb: honey and milk are under thy tongue."
Christ rejoices over his saints, as the bridegroom over the bride, at all times : but there are some seasons whercin 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 rejoicing, and calls together his friends and neighbours, saying, Rejoice with me. The day of a sinner's conversion, is the day of Christ's espousals; and so is eminently the day of his rejoicing; Sol. Song, iii. 11. “Go forth, Oye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart." And it is oftentimes remarkably the day of the saints' rejoicing in Christ : for then God turns again the captivity of his elect people, and, as it were, fills their mouth with laughter, and their tongue with singing; as in Psalm cxxvi. at the beginning. We read of the jailer, that when he was converted, “ he rejoiced, believing in God, with all his house," Acts xvi. 34. There are other seasons of special communion of the saints with Christ, wherein Christ doth, in an especial manner, rejoice over his saints, and, as their bridegroom, brings them into his chambers, that they also, may be glad, and rejoice in him, Cant. i. 4.
But this mutual rejoicing of Christ, and his saints, will be in its perfection, at the time of the saints' glorification with Christ in heaven: for that is the proper time of the saints? entering in with the bridegroom into the marriage, Matt. xxv. 10. The saints' conversion is rather like the betrothing of the intended bride to her bridegroom before they come together; but at the time of the saints' glorification, that shall be fulblled in Psalm slv. 15. “ With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought; they shall enter into the king's palace. That is the time when those whom Christ loved, and for whom he gave himself—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. Then the church shall be brought to the full enjoyment of her bridegroom, having all tears wiped away from her eves ; 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 for ever 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 bis love.
And, as there are various seasons wherein Christ, and particular saints do more especially rejoice in each other; so there are, also, certain seasons wherein Christ doth more especially rejoice over his church, collectively taken. Such a season is a time of remarkable outpouring of the Spirit of God: it is a time of the espousals of many souls to Christ; and so of the joy of espousals. It is a time wherein Christ is wont 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, it becomes a time of great joy to the church of Christ. So when the Spirit of God was so wonderfully poured out on the city of Samaria, with the preaching of Philip, we read that "there was great joy in that city," Acts viii. 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 rejoicing, and a kind of 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, and singleness of heart," Acts ii. 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 scriptures, represented as the marriage of the Lamb, and the rejoicing of Christ and his church in each other, as the bridegroom and the bride.
This is the time prophesied of in our text and context; and foretold in Isa. lxv. 19. “I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people; and the voice of weep. ing shall no more be heard in her, nor the voice of crying.” This is the time spoken of Rev. xix. 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 thunderings, saying, Alleluia : for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad, and rejoice, and give honour to him for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and bis wife hath made herself ready." And adds, “To her was granted, that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage-supper of the Lamb."
But above all, the time of Christ's last coming is that of the consummation of the church's marriage with the Lamb, and of the complete and most perfect joy of the wedding, In that