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gines that God regards thy person, from thy frames and enlargements. No, no; " he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” You, and your best frames, graces, and enlargements, would be driven away out of the presence of an infinitely holy God, if it were not for this cause, that Christ has magnified the law, and made it honourable: and therefore let this be thy only ground of boldness before the Lord. “Having a great High Priest, who is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God; let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
10thly, Has Christ magnified the law, and made it honourable? Then it follows, that failures of obedience, on the believer's part, do not make void the covenant of grace, or the believer's title to the blessings and privileges of the covenant. Why, the whole law as a covenant, and all the righteousness and obedience that it demands, is perfectly fulfilled in his head Jesus Christ: and therefore the believer cannot fall out of the covenant, through the imperfections of his obedience. I own, indeed, that a believer should aim at, and endeavour no less than perfect obedience, in his own person, and for failures in obedience he shall smart: "God will visit his transgressions with the rod, and his iniquities with stripes.” But observe what follows, “ My loving-kindness I will not take from him,". namely, Christ, with whom the covenant is made, and who has fulfilled the condition of it by his perfect righteousness; and therefore, “my covenant I will not break ” with them, nor alter the word of promise, “ that is gone out of my lips."
11thly, Has Christ magn fied the law, and made it honourable? Then believers have matter of everlasting triumph and rejoicing in Christ, and cannot receive " the spirit of bondage unto fear, except in a way of correction. Believers are commanded to rejoice evermore, to shout for joy; and when they see how matters are stated in the new covenant Head, they will, accordingly, rejoice in Christ always, even when they have no confidence in the flesh. Why, what should discourage them, who have “ the righteousness of the law fulfilled in them” through Christ ; yea, who are the righteousness of God in him? That which brings the believer at any time under a “spirit of bondage again to fear,” is the unbelief and legality of his heart, which turns away his eyes from Christ and the righteousness of the law fulfilled and magnified in him; and then, indeed, the terrors of the law covenant, and of an angry God, fall upon him, " He remembers God, and is troubled," and the arrows of the Almighty are within him. But while the believer can, by faith, see the law magnified in his Head, and the Lord Jehovah well pleased for his righteousness' sake, his heart will rejoice, and his joy will no man take from him.
12thly, Has Christ magnified the law, and made it honourable? Then see upon what an advantageous ground the believer stands in encountering his spiritual enemies. Why, through the law-magnifying righteousness of Christ, he has God on his side, he has the law on his side, and justice on his side, yea, Omnipotence on his side, and therefore he may lift up his head in the day of battle, and go on with courage against all his enemies.
To instance, (1.) When he is molested with the insurrection of indwelling sin, or of any particular lust, the believer may take courage in mortifying and crucifying it, because through the righteousness of Christ, sin has no law right to reign over the believer as it has in other men, who are under the law as a covenant. Sin,” says the Lord,“ shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace."
(2.) Does Satan harass and molest thee with his fiery darts? Why, believer, take courage, for through Christ's magnifying the law, Satan's head is bruised, and he has no more right in law to molest or trouble thee, than he has to molest thy glorified Head above; and therefore put on the breast-plate of his everlasting righteousness, and resist him, “ steadfast in the faith."
(3.) Art thou assaulted with the law coming into thy conscience, craving of thec the debt of perfect obedience, as the condition of life? Why, here is a ready answer to this enemy. Tell the law and conscience, that the law, as a covenant, has got its due, and more than it demanded, in thy new covenant Head; for he has not only obeyed it to the full, but has magnified it, and made it honourable.
(4.) Art thou at any time brought under bondage through fear of death? Why, here is encouragement for encountering that king of terrors. That which gave death its power and sting, was the violation of the law: but, may the believer say, Here is the law again magnified and made honourable, and therefore, 0 death, what hast thou to say? It is true, indeed, I must put off this clay tabernacle for a while; but this I do, not as a debt due to the law, or the curse of it, but at the will of my God and Father, I lay down my body in the grave, that I may receive it again, without any tincture or smell of sin or death about it, in the morning of the resurrection. Death, may the believer say, is no death to me; no, to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain; because Christ, my Head, has magnified the law and made it honourable, and therefore has swallowed up death in victory; death and hell, through the righteousness of my Head, are now cast back into the lake from whence they came.'
Thus you see what unspeakable encouragement and consolation springs out of this doctrine, that Christ has magnified the law, and made it honourable.
THE WISE VIRGINS GOING FORTH TO MEET THE
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go
ye forth to meet him.-MATTH. xxv. 6.
THE FIRST SERMON ON THIS TEXT.
These words that I have read are a part of the famous parable of the ten virgins; for clearing of which, you would carefully advert to these two or three things :
1st, The Bridegroom here spoken of is none other than Christ Jesus the Lord, the eternal Son of God, who, from all eternity, rejoiced in the habitable parts of the earth, and whose delights were so much with the sons of men, that he first married our nature into a personal union with himself, that so there might be some sort of equality in the bargain; and having made himself of our tribe, comes to betroth us to himself for ever in a marriage-relation.
2dly, The virgins here spoken of are the professors of religion, members of the church visible. The church is called the bride, the Lamb's wife, Rev.'xix. 7-9; particularly professors, saints, and believers, at least in profession, are so called virgins, because of the beauty of holiness that should adorn them.
3dly, The office of these virgins is to meet the Bridegroom. This alludes to a common custom among the Jews, who consummated their marriages at night; when the bridegroom was on his way to the place of marriage, the bride with so many virgins that attended her, went forth with lamps to meet him, in order to conduct him to the bride's
chamber. Now, with allusion to this custom, professors of religion are said to go and meet the Bridegroom.
4thly, Notice the different characters of these virgins, five were wise, and five foolish. The foolish represent the case of nominal or hypocritical professors, who have the lamp of a profession, and content themselves with a name to live, while destitute of the life and power of religion: and, by wise virgins, we are to understand real saints, or believers indeed, who not only profess Christ and Christianity, but are Christians indeed, having the oil of his grace and spirit within them.
5thly, We have the common fault of both these sorts of virgins; while the Bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept; together with the surprising summons they all get to attend the Bridegroom, ver. 6: Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet him. It is the last clause of this verse that I intend to insist upon, namely, Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet him.
We have a key given us, ver. 13, for opening of the general scope of this parable, " Watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” Which words, though they chiefly and particularly relate to the coming of Christ by death, or his coming at the last judgment; yet, as Mr. Shepherd and other interpreters are agreed, they do not exclude, but include, his other intermediate comings, whether in the dispensation of the word and sacraments, of ordinances, or providences, it is the duty of all to prepare for his reception and entertainment.
The words read, ver. 6, are a surprising summons or advertisement to the church in general, and every individual member of it, to make ready for his entertainment, because he is at the door. And at midnight there was a cry made, &c., where we may notice the particulars following:
(1.) To whom the advertisement is given. It is to all in general, both to the wise and foolish virgins. The gospel is preached to a promiscuous multitude of good and bad, gracious and graceless, according to Christ's command, “ Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel unto every creature."
(2.) We have the manner in which the advertisement is given. It is by a cry, so as all might hear and take warning, Is
. Ivii. 1: "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet.” Ministers are God's criers.or heralds. It is said of John the Baptist, that he was “the voice of one crying in the wilderness," &c. Whatever be the message God puts in our mouth, whether it be of mercy or of judgment, we are VOL. III.
not to whisper it in a corner, but to publish it as upon the house-top, Prov. i. 20—24: "Wisdom crieth without the city, she uttereth her voice in the streets, she crieth in the chief place of concourse."
(3.) We have the time when the summons or advertisement is given. At midnight, when they all slumbered and slept, and had given over hope and expectation of his coming: both the wise and foolish virgins were saying,
66 The Lord delayeth his coming;" and therefore, “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep.” In this case, even at midnight, in a surprise, the cry is made, Behold the Bridegroom cometh.
(4.) We have the summons or advertisement itself, Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet him. These are the words I intend particularly to insist upon,
and in them we may notice these following particulars :
1. The solemnity of the warning in the word Behold, which
be taken there as a note of attention or admiration. It is like the warn-word when the King's proclamation is issued forth by the herald; he cries, Oyes, to arrest the attention of the audience, like that, Is. Iv. 1 : “Ho, every one that thirsteth,” &c. Or we may take it as a note of admiration, Behold and wonder at the glory of the Bridegroom, who is coming. We find, commonly, when the Messiah is spoken of by the prophets under the Old Testament, they usher in their prophecies respecting his coming, with a note of admiration; Behold! Is. vii. 14: - Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name IMMANUEL;" Is. xlii. 1: “Behold my servant whom I uphold,” &c.; Is. Iv. 4: “Behold I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people :" Zech. ix. 9 : “Rejoice, O daughter of Zion, Behold thy King cometh unto thee,” &c.; signifying that Christ is a wonderful person, and his coming to us in mercy is wonderful.
2. We have the character of the person concerning whom this intimation is made. He is called the Bridegroom, and the Bridegroom in a way of eminence, because there is none that ever bore this character that can be compared to him. Whenever we hear the name of a bridegroom, we presently conclude there is a marriage in hand; so, here, when Christ takes this amiable character and title to himself, we should presently conclude there is a match or marriage in hand, that Christ is a lover, and that he has a bride, and a purpose of marriage with her, according to that you have, Hos. ii. 19, 20: “I will betroth you unto me for ever,” &c. But more of this afterwards, if the Lord will.
3. In the words, we have the approach of the Bridegroom,