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place which the sinner has to lodge him in, will keep them asunder, He that has the upper house humble heart for his lower
but only sinners refusing him access. of heaven for his throne, will take the house. "For thus saith the high and lofty one, that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy, I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." And if he come in, he will bring a troop of blessings with him, pardon, peace, grace and a title to glory. "He will give grace and glory, and will withhold no good thing from them that walk uprightly."
5. This offer stood the King of glory dear. There is no such knocking at the door of the heart of fallen angels; because "Jesus took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham." And neither would you have had this offer, unless the Son of God had taken upon him man's nature, and satisfied justice, so that now with the good will of justice, mercy may be extended to the rebels. He purchased his kingdom with his blood, and now he is demanding access to it. For this is the voice of the King of glory returning from the battle which he has fought for sinners; calling them to open the gates to let in the conqueror triumphantly. May we not then say, "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation."
6. Remember the day will come, that you, to whom he now calls to open to him, will call to him to open to you. He has the keys of hell and death: And whom he sends there, none can keep back, and whom he keeps back, none can set forward. For he opens and none can shut, and he shuts and none can open. He carries the keys of heaven's gates, and gives answers to those that knock at the door. And how can you expect that he will admit you into heaven, if you will not now receive him into your hearts. "Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are."
7. You have a very solemn call at this time. Christ is opening his heart to you now by his word, to bid you welcome; next day we have the prospect of his opening it to you in the sacrament. This is a special time, in which the ark of gospel ordinances comes to your gates. Beware of slighting the King of glory in such a solemnity. It is the solemnity of his espousals and his coronation too, the time in which some will in a special manner be espoused to him
and put the crown on his head. "Go forth, O ye 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." But a time of blessing to some proves a time of a withering curse to others. "For I say unto you, that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper."
8. Consider the offer will not last always. Our Lord stands and knocks, Rev. iii. 20. He does not sit down at the door but stands, which is a way going posture. He has nothing to do, but turn his back and be gone. And indeed patience when still abused, turns to fury at length. You have had many knocks, if you sit this, the next may knock your souls out of your bodies, and where are you then.
Lastly, There is no other way to be saved, but by opening to Christ. Thus it shall be well with you, but otherwise you sin against the remedy of Christ to your eternal ruin.
Say not it is too soon. Ah! Is it too soon to have the soul plucked as a brand out of the burning? Is there not a danger of delaying? The longer you be in coming unto Christ, the harder work will it be. Nay, who knows but the Lord may cease knocking at thy heart, and that by delaying thou mayst outlive thy day of grace. There were several with us last sacrament, who are now gone.
Say not it is too long to be done now. No, thou shalt yet be welcome, if thou be willing. There is no case so far gone as to be hopeless, that is put into Christ's hand. "Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh; for he had been dead four days. Jesus said unto her, said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldst see the glory of God?" The stone that has lain long before the builder, and has been often rejected while others about it were taken up, may come at length to get a place in the building. For yet there is room. Our Lord often comes back, and washes them that were formerly overlooked. "For I will cleanse,
says he, their blood, that I have not cleansed; for the Lord dwelleth in Zion."
But Oh! will ever the Lord come into such a heart as mine? Answer, our Lord makes no exceptions. "If any man, says he, will open the door, I will come in to him." This may encourage thee. Our Lord never finds any heart good, but makes it good. He comes in as a Physician, and therefore thy sickness will not drive him away. The more desperate the disease is, the greater is the glory of his grace. Christ can make a stepping stone of thy sinfulness and misery, by which to ascend to his throne.
Let me conclude with giving some advices to those that would open to, and receive him at his table.
1. Search the house. Set about the duty of self-examination. "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup." Examine yourselves as to your state,
frame, graces, sins, wants, resolutions and the like.
2. Labour to purge the house of the idols of jealousy. "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us." Renew your repentance. See what have been the great hinderances betwixt Christ and you, and take them out of the way.
3. Be sure to keep in the fire, the holy fire of grace. Quench not the Spirit. Cherish every good motion. And if you have got any thing strive to keep it.
4. Put the key of your hearts in the Lord's hand. Commit your unruly spirits to him, in the way of believing, lest Satan catch the key and the King be shut out.
5. Have on your best clothes, the wedding garment of Christ's righteousness applied by faith. Put off also the old man which is corrupt, and put on the new man, with all the ornaments of the hidden man of the heart.
6. See you be at home. Let not your hearts be a seeking, wandering through the ends of the earth. But be deeply concerned about your own case.
Finally, See you be not in your beds, when he comes to the door, "And you say I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them?" But shake off security. Let your loins be girt and your lamp burning, that you may be ready to open to him when he comes. Amen.
Action Sermon at Ettrick, July 15, 1716.
CHRIST'S INVITATION TO HIS BRIDE.
SONG iv. 8.
Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: Look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards.
THIS world was never designed to be the fixed abode of the children of men, and therefore there was a restraint laid upon our first parents in paradise, as to the forbidden tree, shewing that they behoved to look to another world for their happiness. Man was once set fair on the way to the land where glory dwells, but he lost his way, and now poor sinners are found wandering on the mountains of vanity. The first Adam managed ill, and brought us into this condition. But behold, the second Adam came to gather the dispersed of Israel, and to lead them on their way to the better country. Hear his voice in the text, calling his people to leave the weary world and go homeward with himself.
The text is divided into two parts.
1. Christ's gracious call to his people to leave the world as mountains of vanity. And here is a double call which runs more emphatically in the original, thus, "With me from Lebanon, O spouse, with me come from Lebanon." In the first of these calls, observe the party to whom it is directed, namely to Christ's spouse. Those persons that are espoused to him by embracing him in the covenant. It is to be observed, that this is the first time that the church gets this name in this song. We read of the espousals before, chap. iii. 11. And here he begins to own the relation, for some special reason surely, which I conceive to be this, which may give us a just notion of the call. It was a custom among the Jews, that the Bridegroom took the bride out of the city into the fields, where they had their nuptial songs, and afterwards he brought her back again, leaning on him into the city to his father's house. To this custom there seems to be an allusion, chap. viii. 5. "Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness leaning upon her beloved?" And here also in the text. And thus it is a call of Christ's bride to rise and come away with her Bridegroom to the city above to his Father's house. Observe also,
The place from which she is to come, from Lebanon. It was a goodly pleasant mountain. It was a part of the good land that is beyond Jordan, even that goodly mountain and Lebanon. It was an odoriferous place, Hos. xiv. 6. and so may well represent the smiling world, which yet is only a bulky vanity, a place where Christ's spouse must not think to take up her abode. Observe also the company offered her in her journey home, with me, it is the society of her Bridegroom and Lord. In the world she cannot expect to have communion with him continued with her. So far as the deceitful world gains upon her heart, she loses of her communion with Christ. The manner of the call merits attention. It is an abrupt and hasty expression, intimating her great danger in sitting still, that therefore she must come away quickly, not lingering, and that he was very earnest to have her as it were plucked out of the fire. In the second of these calls, observe Christ's glory and excellency proposed to counterbalance all the ensnaring glory of the world. With me, come with me. And therefore in the former clause the offer of his society is supposed sufficient to draw her heart from the world. The world's glory dazzles the eyes, and arrests the hearts, even of the Lord's people, till they see the transcendent glory of their Lord, and this looses them from it, and makes them willing rather to go with Christ, than to sit still in the world's embraces.
Again observe that the call is fully expressed. Come with me from Lebanon. Come is an engaging word. The success of the Romans in their wars was ascribed to the word of command, which their military officers used. It was not go, but come. And how justly may it be expected that the hearts of the Lord's people at the hearing of that word from their Lord and husband. If the way be steep and difficult, he orders them not to go alone. Whatever they leave for him, they shall have himself in its stead.
2. Christ's gracious call to leave the world as mountains of prey, dangerous mountains. Observe here another emblem of the world. It is represented by three other mountains, Amana, Shenir, and Hermon, which two last some think to be but two tops of one mountain. We read of the pleasant dew of Hermon, Psal. cxxxiii. and it is likely all these mountains were pleasant ones as well as Lebanon. But yet they were indeed dangerous, for the lions had their dens there, and the leopards their haunts there. And thus the world is a dangerous place to Christ's spouse. She is in hazard while in it. Even in the midst of worldly felicity, there are fearful snares. The lions' dens are expressed emphatically, to strike her with a horror of the place, that she may haste away.
Observe also the duty to which the spouse is called, that is to