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souls in its spirituality and vast extent, discovering the sinfulness of their natures, hearts, lips, and lives, till it makes them say in earnest," But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, and we do all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities like the wind have carried us away." The law scorches them with its threatenings and curses, and so beats on their heads, hearts, and consciences, till they are ready to faint, and say with the prodigal, I perish. Most part of men are like those upon whom the sun is beating and wasting them with its heat, but they are fast asleep, they feel it not. But awake when they will, in the fiery region of the law, they will find themselves sun-burnt and sick. "For I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." The holy commands will be no more as a sealed book to them, and the awful threatenings no more as the sounding against the mountains. They will find they need a shadow.
2. That the soul finds no shadow any where else. "Thus the prodigal would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat and no man gave unto him." All the places of refuge to the soul, where it was wont to get ease, are in that day burnt up, and can afford no shelter. Flee whither they will, the house is unroofed above their heads, and their gourds are all withered, and afford no more shadow for them. Their creature comforts are dry and useless; they can give no ease to the pained conscience. The slender, moth-eaten garment of their own works, their prayers, tears, reformations, &c. cannot keep off the scorching beams of the fiery law from their consciences. "But what things were gain to me, these I counted loss for Christ." find no shadow under which to rest.
Thus they can
3. A discovery of Christ's shadow to the poor outcast that can get lodging no where else. As God did with Hagar, when she had laid down the child for dead, "he opened her eyes and she saw a well of water, and she went and filled the bottle with water and gave the lad drink." So the Lord does with the soul in this extremity. "When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water and the dry land springs of water." And this is that which is called in scripture the finding of the Pearl of great price. And never was the discovery of the shadow of a great rock to a poor traveller, ready to faint by excessive heat in a weary land, more welcome, than this discovery of Christ's shadow
to the weary soul. Consider that it is discovered to the soul as a sufficient shadow against all the heats that annoy it. How many hired servants, (said the prodigal when he came to himself,) "of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger." Bread enough, what an encouraging view! Jesus is able also to save to the uttermost, them that come to God by him. This makes the soul answer yea, to the question. Believest thou that I am able? And this will in such a case where the soul is pressed with a deep sense of sin, require a powerful operation of the Spirit of God to cause the soul to believe; however easy some may think it is to believe. Christ does not heal them who were never touched at the heart with their sickness.
Again it is discovered to the man as an open shadow, and open for him to go into it. And by this discovery the soul believes God, believeth the Son saying, in the gospel promise, "I am the Lord thy God, open thy mouth wide and I will fill it. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." And until the soul believes Christ's shadow to be open to it, it can never go into it, more than one can believe on Christ without seeing a warrant, or embrace the gift of righteousness without believing that it is tendered to them in particular.
4. It imports that the soul goes under Christ's shadow for shelter and rest. This is the renouncing of all other refuges, and betaking one's self to the covert of blood alone; "Even to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling." This is what Paul calls the receiving of the atonement, Rom. v. 11. and the faith in his blood, iii. 25. The word is the name of the mercy seat, the cover of the ark, under which the soul comes by faith in his blood, trusting and confiding upon it for shelter, life, and salvation to itself, upon the ground of the faithfulness of God in the promise of the gospel.
This is the coming under Christ's shadow according to the scripture phraseology. So says the bramble in the parable, Judges ix. 15. trust in my shadow, when believing it shall be a defence to you. So the Jews are said, Isa. xxx. 2. to trust in the shadow of Egypt. And their trust in that shadow their confusion, ver. 3. because the defence for which they looked under it, would fail them, and "they were taken in their pits, of whom they said, under his shadow we shall live among the heathen." And thus it is applied to the soul's coming under Christ's shadow by faith. "How excellent is thy loving kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings." This is the receiving of Christ, even believing on his name, John i. 12.
5. It imports the soul abiding under Christ's shadow. "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." She sat down under it as one resolved to stay. Faith takes hold of Christ to cleave to him, never to part with him, come what will, saying, though he slay me, yet will I trust in him. And thus the man ever interposeth the obedience and death of Christ, betwixt heaven and his sinful soul. Keeps always Christ's shadow above his head. This is his only plea before the Lord, by which he can answer the demands of law and justice, and ward off the blow of the wrath of God. If he expects any good from heaven, he looks for it to come through the tree of life under whose shadow he sits. If he have any thing to offer to heaven, it must pass the No communication with heaven but through Christ. Use. I would then exhort and invite you to come in, and sit down under Christ's shadow this day. Our Lord is spreading out his shadow to you in this place, and we are sent to call you and every one of you to come under it. Come then scorched souls and repose yourselves under Christ's shadow. I think you may all answer to that name even the most insensible amongst you, whose spiritual barrenness declares your souls to be a scorched and parched soil where no good can grow. More particularly,
1. Come under Christ's shadow, you who are under apprehensions of the Lord's wrath gone out against you for your sins, who feel a fire in your breasts, a sting of guilt in your consciences. Here is a shadow for ease to you, a covert of blood of infinite value, that will turn away wrath, give peace with an offended God, and pull the sting out of your consciences. "For the blood of Jesus cleanseth us from all sin, and purgeth the conscience from dead works." No arrows of wrath can pierce you here.
2. Come, tempted souls, whom Satan is plying with fiery darts, ready to take hold of and set on fire the corrupt heart. If you sit down under Christ's shadow by faith, it will be a defence to you. "Above all then take the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." You are annoyed on every side with fiery flying serpents, look to the brazen serpent on the pole of the gospel. "I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee."
3. Come, you whose souls are pining and withering away within you, for want of the kindly influences of heaven on them. Here is a reviving and refreshing shadow for you. "They that dwell under his shadow shall return: they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine; the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon." This
shadow will put sap in the bones, that are burnt as an hearth, a freshness in the heart that is withered as the grass, and render those who are faint, indisposed and inactive in their souls, lively and vigorous, like a giant refreshed with wine.
4. Come, you whose corruptions are rampant, and like summer vermin are destroying every green thing in or about you. Christ's shadow will cool the distempered heat of your souls, and reduce them to a holy temperature. "The grace of God teacheth us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in the present world." The sanctifying virtue of his blood, and the efficacy of his Spirit, is able to master the strongest lusts. "And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." Ah! why do you go to swim in the waters of sin, for cooling of that hellish heat of lusts, where you are every moment in hazard of being swallowed up, while there is such a shadow for you to repose yourselves under.
5. Come, you to whom this world is made a weary land with the scorching heat of troubles, with which you are still meeting in it. "And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, as rivers of waters in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." You are full of complaints of the hardships which you are made to undergo in the world. Trouble on your bodies, vexations in your minds, crosses and losses in your means, reproaches on your names. No ease can you find, however you shift about for it. The Lord lets the sun beat thus on your heads, to drive you under his shadow. Comply then with the design of providence, by coming under this shadow. Lastly, Come all of you, whatever your case be.
Motive 1. There is no safe living without this shadow. The curse of the fiery law, and the wrath of God will burn up those that are without. And how can you be able to deal with an absolute God. "For who among us shall dwell with devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?"
2. There is access for you to come under it, whatever your case be. There is a virtue in Christ's shadow, for helping the worst of cases. Wherefore despise not your own mercy. Him that cometh unto me, saith Jesus, I will in no wise cast out. Lastly, There will not always be access. privileged, God has set before you an open door.
You are now highly
dow for fallen angels, no shadow now for the damned, and many even in this world, know not that there is a shadow for them. But it is offered to you now, and you know not how soon the door may be shut. Now is the accepted time, and now is the day of salvation. Amen.
Galashiels, Sabbath afternoon, July 29, 1722.
SUITABLE IMPROVEMENT OF CHRIST THE APPLE TREE.
SONG OF SOLOMON ii. 3.
I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
CHRIST'S fruit relisheth well with those who, by faith, sit down under his shadow.
In treating this doctrine, I shall,
I. Shew some things imported in it.
II. Shew what are Christ's fruits, which are so sweet to the taste of those that sit under his shadow.
III. Why Christ's fruit relisheth so well with those who by faith do partake of it. We are then,
I. To shew some things imported in this doctrine.
1. It imports that there is in Christ Jesus a suitable fulness for the soul. "For it hath pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell." There is nothing wanting in him to make the soul happy. This tree of life affords not only a defence from evil by its shadow, but full provision by its fruits not only a shelter from the scorching heat, but food for the hungry soul. Christ's shadow is a defence to all under it, from the revenging wrath of God, that it shall never fall on them. Of them God says, I have sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. It is a defence from the curse of the fiery law, that it can no more reach them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. It is a defence also from the evil of afflictions, that these shall not hurt them in the end, but turn to their profit. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
But then he is not a shadow or defence, out of which one may be starved by hunger; but in him there is fruit to satisfy the cravings of an immortal soul, so that in him, one may find at once a defence from evil and store of good. "I cried unto thee, O Lord: I said.