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finds himself well secured against all evil, and well pro. vided with all good ; therefore, he cannot but sit down with great delight.
V. The fifth thing proposed was, 'To speak of the feast of faith ; “ His fruit was sweet to my taste.”
.After one that hath been hotly pursued, comes under a shadow or shelter, yet if it be not well provided with necessaries, he may starve; one may be famished in a strong hold, and faint, if he hath not food there; but in Christ there is maintenance as well as protection. Instead of all the heads that might be proposed here, relating, 1. To the fruits ; 2. To the sweetness of the fruits ; 3. The sensible tastes and experiences thereof; and, 4. Christ's standing property therein, even when given out of his hand into the bride's mouth, “ His fruit; my taste: His fruit was sweet to my taste :" instead of enlarging on all these, we may take up the import of this part of the text in these following partieuJars.
1. That the necessities of God's people are not few, but many; they need a feast, as well as a fence; and fruit, as well as a shadow. Our Lord keps them under many wants, that they may have many errands to his door; -and that he may have many vents to let out of his fulness, and give proof of what is in him for their good. His full breast of all sufficiency and affection needs all their wants, as vents to let out himself by many ways, and many communications to them. The day comes when they shall enter into the joy of their Lord, that cannot now enter into them; their vents are so narrow that they cannot let in what he hath, and what he is in himself for them, and whereof they are not capable now, notwithstanding their manifold necessities. Hence you that are acquaint with manifold necessities, if you look upon them abstractedly, you may get an embittering sight of them, and may wonder and cry, Wo is me that I am so full of wants! but look upon them with an eye to Christ's design, and they will be another thing : you will see that he keeps you under many wants, that he may have much work about you and them: he keeps you empty, that his fulness may
be in request. And if thus you look upon them, it will serve not only to encourage you, but to make you lament that you should be so straitened in your own bowels, when you are not straitened in him: yea, sense of want would be more desirable, in order to supply ; considering, that when all your wants are laid together, yet you have but straitened bowels to take in what he is willing to let out. The
2. Particular here imported is, That the necessities of Christ's followers, and of bis bride, are not only many,
but their improvement of Christ will be so far from di. k minishing the sense of their necessities and wants, that
new wants will be discovered, and new enjoyments will beget new appetites. When does the bride need fruit? Even when she is set down under Christ's shadow, and begun to mak use of him. The scope of the metaphor teaches this. A person scorched and pursued, sees no more needful at that time but a shadow ; yet when he hath got under that sbadow, his other necessities and want of provision pinches bim: so here, when the scorched bride is driven to her shadow, and set down under it, then she finds her other wants. This is the kindiy fruit of well improven enjoyments, that they still raise a new appetite for more. These that have tasted that the Lord is gracious, will, “ As new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word,” i Pet. ii, 2.
Hence, take a right look of the growing discovery of I wants; you may think it is an evidence of a worse con
dition than you was in before ; but mistake not, it is a great evidence of communion with Christ, and that you are come under this shadow, when even there your faintness calls for fruit. It is a sad evidence of distance, and that people are not making use of Christ, when their wounds begin to close up, and the sense of their wants is diminished. But, on the contrary, there is no better evidence of communion with Christ, of nighness to him, and that your enjoyments are real and blessed to you, than when your enjoyments discover want, and beget appetite for the supply thereof.
3. Another thing imported is, That communion with Christ, and closing with him, should not be entertained with idleness, but with diligence. The bride of Christ here hath no more ado than to sit down under his shadow with great delight: she finds that, in that case, she is called to gather fruit under the Apple-tree; and eat, and improve that opportunity she hath gotten, by taking his fruit and feeding thereon: communion with Christ is given us, not to set us idle, but to make us busy on such a happy opportunity: and that partly,
(1.) Because we know not what may be upon the back of that opportunity; it may be like that which Elijah got under the juniper-tree, 1 Kings xix. 5, 6, 7. where the angel desires him to eat, for the journey is great he hath
to go; and he got forty days fasting after that double meal: little know we what may be on the back of a banquet, how hardly we may be put to it.
(2.) Because idleness will soon cut us short of our enjoyments. When Christ and the bride are together at a feast, Song v. l. on the back of it, she falls asleep; though it was but a slumher, her heart waking, yet he thereby was put to the back of the door, ver. 2. III improven opportunities may strip a soul of all its enjoyments before it be aware : “Emptiness and distance * may steal on, as one that travels; and poverty as an “ armed man.” Under the happy shadow we should be holy epicures, diligent feeders, and greedy eaters of the fruit of the Apple-tree.
4. It is here imported, that the necessities of the saints cannot be so many but Christ hath supply for them all. If they be assaulted and tempest-beaten, or scorched and sun-burnt, he is a shadow; if they be faint, he hath fruit; and his fruit is,
(1.) Refreshing fruit; and is called fruit, in conformity to the metaphor of his being the apple-tree: the purchased and promised allowances of Christ to his people are refreshing and satisfying, like savoury fruit.
(2.) This fruit is solid fruit; the believer feeds not upon wind, as it' is said of Ephraim, Hos. xii. I. but fruit; he does not feed upon ashes, as it is said of idolators, Isa. xlv. 20. but fruit; he does not feed upon poison, as it is said of the wicked, Job xx. 16.; nor does he feed upon husks, as it is said of the prodigal
son, before he returned to his father, but the fruit that grows upon this Apple-tree, the Tree of life.
(3.) This fruit is not only pleasant and solid, but plentiful and sufficient to answer their necessities and all their wants : " Where sin aboundeth, grace doth much more abound.” O sirs, it is an useful study to study the fulness of Christ, in his natures, in his person, in his offices, in his states of humiliation and exaltation, and his words and precious promises! Here is wine and milk; both special and common allowances, Isaiah lv. 1. Again,
(4.) As this fruit is durable fruit; so it is good to study the durableness of his allowances; for John iv. 14. it is, “ The water that springs up to everlasting life.” The fruit of the tree of life is still green and fresh, Rey. xxi. 2.; and still ripe and ready for eating : and all these rich, full, and durable allowances are thine, poor needy soul, according as thou dost need them; and thy need is thy pass and warrant for closing with them, Isaiah lv. 1. " Ho, every one that that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.-John vii. 39. “ If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink.” The thirsty ground is the ground that needs a shower; the thirsty soul is the soul that needs a drink, even as the hungry man is the man that needs meat : and the more need, the more let be your errands to Christ for supply.
much to do? Well, in him you have much to do it with; here would be your life, to take up Christ's fulness rightly, and to improve it as your need is discovered to you.
5. “ His fruii was sweet to my taste,” it imports, that there is a pleasant relish and sweetness in Christ's allowances to his people. Concerning which we may remark,
(1.) That his allowances to them are not only sufficient, and enough, “ Bread enough and to spare;" but, they are sweet and delicious. Christ's fruits are like the tree cast into the waters of Marah, that made them sweet, Exod. xv. 25. It is like the meal cast into the prophet's pot, that took death out of it, 2 Kings iy. 41, So that if you would have any sorrowful or bitter con.
dition sweetened, then no method is so commodious, nor mean so sure, as to take the fruit of this Apple-tree to season it; they are much to be pitied that are under any hard and hitter lot, and have nothing of Christ to sweeten it.
(2.) As Christ's fruit is sweet in itself, and sweetens other things, so the saints will acknowledge it to be sweet when they are in a right frame, and their taste not corrupted and vitiate ; for then they are like per..sons in a fever, their taste marred; and the sweetest
things seem to be bitter to them; but when the saints of God are in a right frame, they will not fall in that fault which Eliphas suspected in Job, chap. xv. 11. “ Are the consolations of God small to thee?" Yea, when their souls are in health, even his words of reproof will be sweet, even as the wounds of a friend that is faithful to a right discerner, and as excellent oil, that will not break their heads. Surely then his honey, and honey-comb, allowances will be sweet unto them; and they owe this testiinony to the truth of the matter, That his fruit is sweet. We are not complimenting him, when we commend him and his fruit: we ought to commend him thus to others, saying, with the church, " His mouth is most sweet ;" and, with David, “O taste and see, that the Lord is good.” When we „repine, and quarrel, and fret, because of our scanty allowances, o how ill bred are we! And, as the full soul, that loathes the honey.comb, it is a sign our spiritual sense and discerning is corrupted, when we cannot attest that his fruit is sweet.
(3.) The Lord is pleased sometimes to satisfy his people wish the sweetness of his fruits, without putting them still to the trouble of believing a bare word : he can, by sensible comforts, make the greatest doubter and drooper to call himself a liar, that ever he should have brought up an ill report of Christ and his allowances. This is sometimes the privilege of God's people: and though it were but once in a life-time, or though it were, as in Jacob's case, twenty years between one sweet Bethel and another, he should be blessed for it: it is not their ordinary to have these sun-blinks, or to be