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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 boncurable.
(4.) Art thou at any time brought under bondage through fear of death? Why, here is encouragement for encountering with 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 agzin magnified and made honcurable, and therefore, O death, what halt 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 fin or death about it, in the morning of the refurrection. Death, may the believer say, is no death to me; no, to me to live is Chriit, and to die is gain; because Chrift, my Head, has magnified the law and made it honourable, and there fure has swallowed up drath in victory; death and hell, through the righteousness of my Head, are now caft back into the lake from whence they came.'
Thus you see what unspeakable encouragement and consolation prings out of this doctrine, that Christ has magnified the law, and made it honourable.
THE WISE VIRGINS GOING FORTH TO MEET THE
MATTH. XXV. 6.--- And at midnight there was a try made, Bea
hold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet him.
THE FIRST SERMON ON THIS TEXT.
THESE words that I have read are a part of the fa
mous parable of the ten virgins ; for clearing of which, you would carefully advert to these two or three things.
1/t, The Bridegroum here fpoken of is none other than Christ Jesus the Lord, the eternal Sop 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 mar. ried 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 betrothe us to himself for ever in a marriage-relation.
2dly, The virgins here spoken of are the professors of relia gion, members of the church vibble. The chureh is called the bride, the Lamb's wife, Rev. xix. 7-9. particularly profeffurs, faints, 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 unto 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, wich 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 wife, 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 inded, who not only profess Christ and Christianity, but are Christians indeed, having the oil of his grace and spirit within them.
Sthly, We have the common fault of both these sorts of virgins, while the Bridegroom tarried, they all flumbered and Nept; together with the surprising fummons 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 inhst upon, viz. 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 hi I wherein the Son of man cometh.” Which words, though they chiefly and particularly relate unto the coming of Christ by death, or his coming at the last judgement; yet, as Mr Shephard and other interpreters are agreed, they do not exclude, but include, his other intermediate comings, whether in the dispensation of the word and facraments, of ordinances, or providences, it is the duty of all to prepare for his reception and entertain.dent.
The words read, ver. 6. are a surprising summons or ade vertisement unto the church in general, and every individual member thereof, 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 unto all in general, both unto the wise and foolish virgins. The gospel is preached unto a promiscuous multitude of good and bad, gracious and graceleis, according to Christ's command, “ Go ve 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, IC. lvii. 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 judgement, we are not to whisper is 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 llumbered and slept, and had given over hope and expectation of his coming : both the wise and foolish virgins were saying, “ The Lord delayeth his coming ;" and therefore, " Yet a little fleep, a little flumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep.” In this case, even at snidnight, in a surprise, the cry is made, Behold the Bridegroom cometh.
(4.) We have the summons or advertisement itself, Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go se forth to meet him. These are the words I intend particularly to infift upon, and in them we may notice these following particulars.
1. The folemnity of the warning in the word Beholl, which may be taken there as a note of attention or admiration. It is like the warnword when the King's próclamation is ilued forth by the herald ; he cries, Oyez, to arrest the attention of the audience, like that, Ir. 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 a.coming. We find commonly, when the Meiliah is spoken of by the prophets under the Old Testament, they usher in their prophecies anent his coming, with a note of admiration, Bee bold! Il. vii. 14. “ Behold a virgin Mail conceive, and bear a fon, and shall call bis name IMMANUEL;" Il, xlii. I. " Behold my fetvant whom I uphold," &c.; 11. lv. 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.; fignifying 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 non that ever bore this character that can be compared to hi'n. Whena Ever 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 thould present
conclude there is a match or marriage in hand, that Christ is a lover, and that he hath a bride, and a purpose of marfiage with her, according to that you have, Hof
. ii. 19. 20. "I will betrothe 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, Behold the Bridegroom cometh. There are various comings of Christ we read of in scripture. There is his first coming in the fleth, and his fecond coming unto judgement, either general or particular. There are his typical and prophetical comings to the church, in the Old Teitament, and his actual coming in person to fulfil and accomplish the great work of redemption, by his obedience, death, and resurrection. There is his coming, in the dispensation of the gospel, to a church or nation. There is his coming in the power of his word and Spirit in a day of conversion to a church, or to a particular foul, as when he said to Zaccheus, " This day is falvation come to this house.” And, lastly, there is his coning in word or facrament with the renewed manifestations of his love, or the renewed influences and communications of his Spirit of grace; as when it is said, Pfal. lxxii. 6. “ He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass ; as lowers that water the earth:” or Hof. vi. 3. " His going forth is prepared as the morning; and he thall come unto us as the rain; as the latter and former rain unto the earth.” Now, I do not, in my intended discourse upon these words, exclude any of these comings of Christ that I have mentioned. But at present I underitand them of his approach in a way of grace and love, in the dispensation of word or sacrament, or any other ordinance of his appointment, wh rein he uses to manifest himfelf, and impart the fruits of his dying love unto the souls of his people. And one reason why I choose to discourse the words in VOL. III. Ff
this view, is, because he here presents himself in the quality of a bridegroom, coming with a design of marriage or espoufals; and so we have a word much parallel unto this, Cant. iii. 11.“ Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon with the cro-n wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart."
4. We have the duty incumbent upon all the virgins, on the approach of the Bridegroom. Go ye cut to meet him. This alludes, as was hinted before, unto the practice or custom in marriages among the Jews, in the time of our Saviour's being upon earth. The bride and her maids, under night, went forth to meet him with lighted lamps, in order to attend him to the place of marriage, with some sort of nuptial solemnity. In allulion to this custom, the church in general, and all par. ricular professors, under the notion of virgins, are commande ed and called to go out and meet Christ, when he is coming in the dispensation of his word and ordinances, or when he comes at death or the last judgement. But the import of this expression may occur afterwards, in the prosecution of the following doctrine. Doct." That it is the indispensable duty of all and every
one, when Christ, the glorious Bridegroom of fouls, is acoming, to go out and meet him, by giving him a suitable reception and entertainment.” Beheld the Bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him.
I shall only adduce two places of scripture for proof and confirmation of this doctrine. The one you have, Plal. xxiv. at the clofe, where Christ, under the notion of fome great person, is represented as drawing near unto the gates or doors of some great house or city; and thereupon a summons is ilfued out,
Cast open the gates, and make room for his en• tertair ment.' “ Lift up your heads, Oye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory fhall come in." "And when the question is put, “ Who is this King of glory ?" the answer is made, ver. 8. « The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.” The fummons is again renewed : “ Lift up your heads, O ye gates, even lift them up, ye everlasting, doors, and the King of glory fhall come in.” Another text you have to this purpose, Cant. iii. 9. and downwards, where Chrift, under the notion of King Solomon, who made to himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon, the pillars thereof of Glver, the bottom of gold, the covering of purple, being paved with love, for the daughters of le