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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 honourable.
(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 che believer say, 'Here is the law.agzin magnified and made honour. able, and iherefore, 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 debr 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 rective is 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 Chrilt, and to die is gain ; becaufe Chrift, my Heid, has magnihed the law and made it honourable, and there. fure has swallowed up death in victory; death and hell, through the righteousness of my Head, are now cait back into the lake from whence they came.'
Thus you see what unspeakable encouragement and consola. tion springs 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 mode, Bea
hold the Bridegrtom cometh, go ye forth to mect lim. '
THE FIRST SERMON ON THIS TEXT.
THESE words that I have read are a part of the fa.
1 mous parable of ihe ten virgins ; for clearing of which, you would carefully advert to these two or three things.
ist, The Bridegroom here fpoken of is none other than Christ Jesus the Lord, the eternal Sop of Go:l, who, fiom all
eternity, 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 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 church is called the bride, the Lamb's wife, Rev. xix. 7-9. particularly pro. feffors, 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 ailudes 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 wise, and five foolish. The foolish represent the case of nominal or hypocritical profesors, 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 indied, 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 forts of virgins, while the Bridegroom carried, they all slumbered and Nept; together with the surprising summons they all get to attend the Bridegroom, ver. 6. Behold the Bridegroom cometh, 89 ye forth to meet him. It is the last clause of this verse that I intend to infift upon, viz. Behold the Bri:legrooin cometh, go ye forth to meet him.'
We have a key given us, ver. 13. for opening of the gener ral scope of this parable, “ Watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the ho 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 ac 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 sacraments, of ordinances, or providences, it is the 1 duty of all to prepare for his reception and entertainment.
The words read, ver. 6. are a surprising summons or ado 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 gracelers, according to Christ's command, “ Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel unto every crea
(2.) We have the manner in which the advertisement is given. It is by a cry, so as all might hear and take warning, IT. 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 judgement, we are 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 flumbered 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 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 ge 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 solemnity of the warning in the word Behold, which may be taken there as a note of attention or admiration. It is like the warnword when the King's prúclamation is ilued forth by the herald ; he cries, Oyez, to arrest the attention of the audience, like that, If. 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 Kold! Il. vii. 14. “ Behold a virgin Mail conceive, and bear a 10:1, and shall call his name IMMANUEL;" II. xlii. I. “ Behold
my mý servant whom I uphold,” &c.; If. lv. 4. “ Behold I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people ;" Zech. ix. 2.“ Rejoice, o daughter of Zion, behoid 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 éver 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 Chrilt takes this amiable character and title to himself, we should presente ly 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 flesh, and his second coming unto judgement, either general or particular. There are his typical and prophetical comings to the church, in the Old Testament, and his actual coming in person to fulbl 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 soul, as when he said to Zaccheus, “ This day is salvation come to this house.” And, lastly, there is his conting 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 faid, Pfal. lxxii. 6. “ He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass ; as showers 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 thele comings of Christ that I have mentioned. But at present I understand 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 manifcft himself, 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
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. 11. 11.“ Go forth, () ye daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon with the creen 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 out 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 allusion to this custom, the church in general, and all pare ticular professors, under the notion of virgins, are command. 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 ao coming, to go out and meet him, by giving him a suitable reception and entertainment.” Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him.
I fall only adduce two places of scripture for proof and confirmation of this doctrine. The one you have, Plal. xxiv. at the close, where Christ, under the notion of some great perfon, is represented as drawing near unto the gates or doors of some great house or city; and thereupon a summons is il. fued out, ' Cast open the gates, and make room for his eno tertair ment.' “ List up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall 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 summons is again renewed : “ Lift up your heads, 0 ye gates, even lift them up, ye everlasting, doors, and the King of glory shall come in.” Another text you have to this purpose, Cant. iii. 9. and downwards, where Christ, 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 Je