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they are still his love and 'his fair one; whatever be between him and his bride, he speaks always in relative and affectionate terms, “ My love, my sister, my spouse, ,” in several places through this Song. Yea, thus he speaks to her when she is fallen asleep, and ready to hold him out, when he calls to be 'let in, Song v. 2, 3. Why this ? Even because he is an unchangeable God; “ I am the Lord, I change not; therefore the sons of Jacob are not consumed," Mal. iii. 6. And as he is unchangeable, so the marriage relation between him and her is indissolvable, notwithstanding she has many faults that deserve reproof and correction, and though she meet with them both; let this therefore, be a cordial to the children of God, amidst the various lots and changes that time produces within you, or without you, that nothing shall be able to separate from his love; the faith of this would keep all fast in the greatest storm.

And is she still his love and his fair one? Why does she, through unbelief, daily lose the faith of her reconciled state, upon every change of her frame and condition? This is a great fault among believers. Though real guilt should sound a quarrel between God and a saint, faults are things to be repented of and amended; they are things that may and will be reproved, and chastened of God; but still the relation stands; and faith should keep fast hold of it, saying, “ My Beloved is mine, and I am his." For where the faith of this relation is cast loose, upon falling into faults, and feeling of changes in God's way of dealing, the reproofs that should fall upon our corruption, to correct that; do light upon our grace to weaken it. We serve Satan's design, when we fall a razing the foundation of our state; while, instead of that, we should be mourning over our faults, and amending them ; whereas when we tamper with the foundation, and at the same time fall a-mending our faults, we put away that which should fortify us, and

encourage us to amend them: for, though God says, “ There is hope in Israel concerning this thing;" yet unbelief says, “ There is no hope :” all is

gone, the foundation is sapped: then corruption is strengthened, grace is weakened, while the faith of this relation is dashed.

2. Hence see, that a secure, sleepy, and up-sitten case in the people of God, is very opposite to his will and their well." Christ is at vast pains, by his calls, to bring them out of that case, which tends so much to reproach Christ and religion : it says, in effect, that his consolations are small, that his allowances are little worth ; it says, that he is a barren wilderness, and a land of darkness, Jer. ii. 31. Which makes us say, as in the following words, " We are lords, we will come no more unto thee."-By this up.sitten case, professors bring a, reproach upon themselves. They were sometimes on their feet and alive, and now it may be said to them, • Where is the blessedness you speak of?” Gal. iv. 15. Where is the sweetness you said you found in the Lord's way? Where is the gain of godliness, you made a great noise about ? “ You did run well; who hindered you, that you should not obey the truth?” They bring a reproach on themselves, that have been active and diligent, and now are loitering. The children of God cannot expect to prosper in such an up-sitten' way; God will hedge up your way with thorns, that you shall not find your path, Hosea ii. 6. It is the mercy of God's people, that they shall not prosper in a way of hardening themselves against God, and his word and rod. Meantime, their security stands in the way of many mercies, which otherwise they might enjoy : while they do not rise, and come away, they lose the benefit of the spring-time of gospel-ordinances: the Lord is there, and they are not aware; he is shewing his glory, and they are sleeping it over : they lose many a sweet proof of God's love, and many a sweet hour that is beween Christ and the lively uprisen believer, does the upsitten soul miss.

3. Hence see, the wonderful condescension of the Lord Jesus, that he is at pains to give a kind visit to a secure and upsitten bride, lying drooping and idle within doors, that he should miss her company : and when, by her sin and security she is laid by from coming to him, yet he will come to her, and give her a call to rise, and comeaway to him. Ohow may we wonder at the constancy of his love amidst all his people's vicissitudes and changes, and estrangements of affection from him, that he breaks not up with us quite at every miscarriage, but is constant in his love, even to these in his family that are crushed and broken, and upsitten in security ? O what encouragement lies in this, that we are prevented with his calls, as it was said to the blind man, Mark x. 49. “ Be of good comfort; rise, he calls thee!" They who would willingly get up to their feet, may read a strong encouragement from a preventing call of God to them, to rise and come away. Why, he that is able to draw you to him, is shewing his will to have you with him, by letting down this cord of love, wrapt about this repeated invitation, “ Rise, my love; rise, my love, my fair one, and come away.' O'poor souls, do not suspect his love, though you be under a temptation to sit still, and resist his call; for here you see, that even she would fain have lain still, saying, in effect, I cannot rise; and she who, in the following verse, would gladly have hid herself in the clefts of the rocks, and secret places of the stairs, is yet invited to come forth and show herself: however black and vile she is in herself, and in her own eyes, and however ill set in her mind against the call, yet she is encouraged with an O my dove, and here with an “O my love, my fair one; rise, and come away."-0 see and admire his wonderful condescension, designed to conquer you!

4. Hence see, that the children of grace have good reason to lean unto and rely upon the words of grace, that proceed out of Christ's mouth; and to depend upon the expressions of his love and esteem, seeing he never takes back his word, but repeats it; and as he repeats these commendations frequently, so we should think and ruminate upon them frequently. He spares not to call her his love, and his fair one: 0 sirs, we should not spare to think upon that, so as thereby to be led, not only to admire his condescension, and wonder at his esteem of them who are nothing, yea, less

« Rise, my

and worse than nothing; but also to be comforted and confirmed in the faith of it. He that knows all things, knows what we are in ourselves, even vile treacherous ones, that played the harlot with many lovers; yet he that knows all things, knows what we are in him, and in his love and esteem, that courts us back again to him, not with a single word only, saying, “ Return, for I am married to you;" but with so many repeated calls, " Return, return, O Shulamite; return return;" with, so many expressions of his loving-kindness, love, my fair one, and come away." O could we read the kindness of his heart, in the kind repetition of his words, our hearts would be catched with his lovingkindness!

5. Hence see ground to justify God, when matters go not well with his church and people, and when he seems not to deal kindly, but severely with them: surely he takes no delight in striking them; the strokes are forced from him, by their slighting his kindness, who seeks so earnestly the prosperity and welfare of his people. He sometimes says of the visible church, * What could I have done more to my vineyard ?" Isa. v. 3. 4. His outward pains with them, and his repeated calls to them to come to him, will not only justify him, but show that their destruction is of themselves. Hos. xiii. 9. “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself ?" and that therefore, instead of murmuring and quarrelling him and his providence, when sad things befal us, we should mourn over ourselves and our provocations: and it may aggravate our sorrow, that we have not him and his kindness to blame, but our own rebellion against his kind calls and invitations; for he may justly say to uș, as he did, Mat. xxiii. 37. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stoneșt them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not !" Many calls has God given to the professors of Scotland, and particularly to some that seem eminent professors, by some of his servants; and for which of these may it not be said, do they now stone them with slanders, and kill them

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VOL. IX,

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in their offices and characters ? But who knows what desolation will be the issue ? “ Behold your house is left unto you desolate.” But withal, seeing Christ is so instant and serious in seeking again and again the welfare of his people, how should this encourage and excite them to be serious and instant in promoting the same design? You that are serious, either in praying for the peace of Jerusalem, or for your own true welfare, you may be encouraged herein from this, that you have one joining with you, that is serious and instant in promoting the same design with you; for, would you have a character of our Lord Jesus Christ? He is one that takes pleasure in the prosperity of his servants, Psal. xxxv. 27. more than you can take; and he taking pleasure in it, will promote that design in which you take part with him; yea, our Lord takes pleasure in his people, Psal. cxlix. 4. And what follows? “ He will beautify the meek with salvation :" he will make it visible and evident, in some adorning proofs of his love to them, that carry on the same design with him. We have reason then to justify bim when he strikes, because his heaviest rod comes to resent our slighting of his kindness; and we have reason and encouragement to plead for his pity and favour, because this is what he takes pleasure to show,

6. Hence see what great need the children of God have to take care how they draw on upon themselves the bonds of security or discouragement, seeing nothing but Christ's word of power repeated, can break these bands of death and disorder. Little do God's people consider, that when they give way to these evils, they not only sin against God, but make chains for their own neck, and fetters for their own feet, that will not be got easily broken. Yea, God may give up his people to take their fill of carnal security when they give way to it, and to discouragements ; to try, that trade which they have chosen ; and though no judicial plague be inflicted, yet these bonds are fearful bindings, and may make you go many days with a bowed-down back. However, let it commend the mercy of Christ to

you, that ever he brake such bonds; for it was not

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