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Chapter 1 Verse 3
of the savor of thy good ointments, thy name is as ointment poured
forth; therefore do the virgins love thee
church having mentioned the excellency of Christ’s love, as the reason why she desired such intimate communion with him, proceeds in these words to take notice of his savory ointments and precious name; which were both so delightful, fragrant, and odorous, that even the Virgins, those chaste creatures, were ravished, and had fallen in love with him; and therefore it was no wonder that she, who was his spouse and bride, should express her love to him, and be so desirous of his company. In these words we have,
I.The savor of Christ’s ointments expressed.
II.The fragrancy and preciousness of Christ’s name declared:
III.The influence that all this has upon the hearts of the virgins, in attracting their love to Christ: therefore do the virgins love thee.
I.The savor of Christ’s ointments is here expressed by the church, as having knowledge of them herself, and as having observed the effect of them upon the hearts of others. By ointments we are to understand the graces of the Spirit of God, that oil of gladness with which Christ, as mediator, is anointed above his fellows; this was poured out without measure upon him; it is like the precious ointment upon Aaron’s head, that ran down upon his beard, and went down to the skirts of his garments; for this being poured upon Christ, the head, descends to all his members, from him they receive that anointing, which teacheth all things. In explaining these words, I will endeavor,
First, To shew why the graces of the Spirit in Christ, or in his members, are compared to ointments.
Secondly, Why they are called Christ’s ointments.
Thirdly, In what sense they are said to be good. And,.40
Fourthly, What is meant by the savor of them.
First, I shall endeavor to shew why the graces of the Spirit, either in Christ or in saints, are compared to ointments.
1st, With the holy anointing oil, which was made according to a divine prescription and direction, kings, priests, and prophets were formerly anointed, and thereby installed into their several offices: thus Saul, David and Solomon were anointed to be kings; thus Aaron and his sons were anointed to be priests; and thus E1isha was anointed prophet in the room of Elijah: now, as with this anointing oil these were anointed, and thereby installed into their offices; so Christ, with the anointing oil of the Spirit, was anointed, and thereby installed into those offices which he has taken upon him, and bears for the good of his people; it is with this he is anointed to be king, and is set over God’s holy hill of Zion; it is with this he is consecrated a priest for evermore, to offer sacrifice, and make intercession for transgressors; and this same Spirit being upon him, he is anointed therewith a prophet to “preach good tidings to the meek.” Christ: as the glorious God-man, was anointed and installed into his office as mediator, from eternity; his human nature was anointed with the Holy Ghost, at the time of its conception in the virgin’s womb; and more visibly at his baptism, when the Spirit descended upon him as a dove; and still more gloriously at his ascension to, and session at the Father’s right hand, when he received from him the promise of the Spirit, and was made or declared to be both Lord and Christ: and it is with the same unction that saints are by him made kings and priests unto God; kings, because grace reigns in their hearts now, and they shall reign with Christ in glory, for ever hereafter; priests, “to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”
2dly, With this holy anointing oil, all the vessels of the tabernacle were anointed and made fit for use; to which saints may be compared, who are chosen vessels, vessels of mercy, that were fore-ordained for glory; now these, in their natural state, are not fit for their master’s use; yet when anointed with this unction, they are not only fit for their master’s present use here,, but are prepared for glory hereafter; the saints having the oil of grace, as well as the lamps of profession, are ready to go in with the bridegroom, whenever he comes and calls for them.
3dly, Anointing with oil was made use of for ornament; “it makes the face to shine,” as the Psalmist says, Psalm 104:15. Christ, as man and mediator, is adorned with the grace of the Spirit; he is “fairer than the children of men;” and the reason is, because “grace is poured into his lips;” he has a larger measure of this “oil of gladness” than others, and therefore is “the perfection of beauty;” he is “white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand;” and as Christ is, so the saints are adorned herewith, and become beautiful in his eye, being “all glorious within:” by this grace they are purified and prepared, and so presented as a chaste and beautiful virgin to Christ.
4thly, Anointing with oils or ointments was used for cheering and refreshing guests at festivals, being very useful for this purpose in hot countries; the smell of which was very delightful and pleasing;4040Non to illius anguentorum odor, non vini anhelitus, etc, Cicero. Orat. 28. c. 7. hence Solomon says, “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart;” (Prov. 27:9) and for this reason Mary brought ointment and anointed the feet of Jesus, to cool and refresh them while he sat at meat: these ointments, or graces of the Spirit, are the oil of gladness, both to Christ and to his people; in the exercise of them, he, as man, was delighted and refreshed, and so are his saints; the grace of the Spirit is, to them; the oil of joy for mourning; he, by his sweet influences and delightful operations on their souls, powerfully draws forth grace into exercise, and thereby administers much comfort to them; they are oftentimes filled with joy and peace in believing, being made to abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.
5thly, Ointments are useful for mollifying and healing wounds, Isaiah 1:6. these being applied, soften hard tumors, break them, and then heal them; the hearts of sinners are hard and obdurate, being swelled with pride, vanity, and conceit of themselves; bat the ointments of divine grace being applied, softens them, breaks these hard swellings, makes their hearts contrite, and then heals them: Christ, the great physician, acting herein, like the good Samaritan, who had compassion on the wounded man, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine.
Secondly, We will now consider why these ointments are said to be Christ’s.
1st, They are of his making; as he is God, he has an all-sufficiency of grace in himself, underived from any other, and is the author of all grace; this excellent composition is all his own; this ointment is made and prepared by his own hand; the holy anointing oil, though of God’s prescribing, yet it was not of his making, though according to the composition of it, no other was to be made; but these ointments are not only prescribed, but made by him, that is God; and none can make, according to the composition thereof; which shews the excellency of them.
2dly, He is the subject of them; as God, he is the author and maker, but, as mediator, they are communicated to him; they are poured into him, and upon him without measure; it pleased the Father, that in him should all fullness dwell; they are his, not only because made by him, but because they are in his possession; he is anointed with them above his fellows.
3dly, They are his, because he has a right to dispose of them; they are his own as God, being the maker of them; and they are his own as mediator, being given to him; wherefore he may do what he will with them, as indeed he does; he gives these ointments to whom he will, and he gives them freely and plentifully; he has a fullness of all grace in himself, and from thence saints receive grace for grace. This ointment being poured plentifully upon the head, runs down freely to all the members; these ointments are first Christ’s, and then they are ours; he composed them as God, for our use and service, and they were given to him as mediator, for that purpose; grace in Christ, and grace in us, are of the same nature, though not of the same degree: grace in us is as in its streams, but grace in Christ is as in its fountain; it is but a small measure we have, but it is an infinite, and inexhaustible fullness that is in him; which may serve to recommend Christ to us, and direct us where to go for these oils or ointments.
Thirdly, They are said to be good ointments, or oils; some oils are better than others, and some places produced better than others: Tekoah was the chief place for oil in Judea, and the next to it was Regab beyond Jordan;4141Misn. Menachot, c. g. f. 3. no doubt but Solomon had the best. The oils or ointments of the true Solomon are best of all. And of ointments there were various sorts,4242Athenaei Deipnosophist, 1, 15. c,.II, p, 688, 689. Clement, Alex, Pedagog 1. 2 p. 183. as of roses, lilies, almonds, nard, myrrh, saffron, etc. and Syria, a neighboring country to Judea, was famous for some sorts of ointments, from whence Solomon might be supplied.
1st, They are good in their own nature — are an excellent composition, there is no ingredient in them but what is good; grace, as wrought in us, is called some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel; it is a good work, which being begun, shall be performed until the day of Christ.
2dly, These ointments are both made, and applied by a good hand; for he that has made them,, and he that anoints us with them, is God: The ingredients are net only good, but they are put together by a skillful hand; this unction is made by, and received from the Holy One.
3dly, They are good in their effects: they are good to make the face to shine, to adorn the saints, revive and refresh them; they are good to soften hard hearts, and heal wounded spirits; they are good to anoint the eyes with, and thereby recover, continue, and increase sight.
4thly, They are good in the believers esteem; they have had experience of their nature and effects; and can write probatum est upon each of them; and therefore highly value them, and with very good reason. For,
5thly, These ointments are exceeding rich and costly. The holy anointing oil was rich and costly, being made of the. principle spices, but not to be comps, red with these; the ingredients of which are preferable to gold and silver, to rubies, and all things that can be thought of or desired; these are precious, rich, and costly ointments indeed.
6thly, Which makes them still more valuable, they never lose their efficacy; dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savor; corrupt it so that it loses its virtue, and becomes good for nothing; grace cannot be lost and perish in the saints; the anointing, which they receive, abides in them; it is. an immortal seed, a well of living water, springing up into eternal life; and notwithstanding the dead flies of their sins and corruptions, yet they cannot make the ointment of grace send forth a stinking savor; corruptions do, but grace never will; it is not indeed always in exercise, but it never will lose its nature or its virtue; the saints lamps shall never go out, being supplied with oil from that fullness of it that is in Christ;
Fourthly, These ointments are said to have a savor in them; precious ointments have a fragrancy4343Abundant vino, unguentorum fragentia. Valer. Maxim. 1. 9. c. 1. extern. 1. a sweet savor in them, very delightful; a greater savor has the grace of Christ to a believer, who savors not the things of men, but the things of God; for, as the natural man, he receiveth not, that is, he savors not, the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness, unsavory and insipid things unto him: these ointments can no more be savory to a carnal man, than food can be relishing to a man of a vitiated taste, or music be delightful to a deaf man, or colors pleasant to one that is blind; for as the one wants his taste, the other his hearing, and the third his sight, so this man wants his smelling, and therefore these ointments cannot be savory to him; but they are so to the believer, who has his spiritual smelling; now by the savor of these ointments, is intended the manifestation of Christ’s grace unto the soul; the sense and perception which souls have of it, and their interest in it, fill them with pleasure and delight; and it was this which made the virgins love Christ, and the church so desirous of his company. There is an emphasis on the word thy; thy good ointments, none so odorous, so savory, and of so grateful a smell as his; as lovers used to admire and commend each others ointments, by which they sought to recommend themselves.4444Nam ominium auguentium odos prae tua natura est. Plauti carculio 2c fc. 2. v. 5..375
II.The church in these words declares the fragrancy and preciousness of Christ’s name, when she says, that his name is as ointment poured forth. It will be proper to enquire what is intended by the name of Christ, and in what sense that may be said to be as ointment poured forth.
1st, By the name of Christ may be meant his person, this being not an unusual way of speaking in the scripture; thus in Revelation 3:4. “Thou hast a few frames,” that is, persons, “even in Sardis,” etc. and in Matthew 12:21 “and in his name shall the Gentiles trust,” that is, in the person of Christ shall the Gentiles trust; so here thy name is as ointment poured forth, that is, thy person is as delightful, grateful, and odorous to me, as the pouring forth a box of ointment; thou art altogether lovely to me, thy whole person is so; every thing in thee is engaging, and thou hast every thing to render thee desirable to me; all beauty, power, wisdom, and grace, are in thee, that it is no wonder the virgins love thee; for not only thy mouth, but all of thee is lovely and desirable.
2dly, By it may be intended some one, or any of those names by which he is called. As,
1. The Messiah or Christ, which signifies anointed. So that in comparing it to ointment, there may be an allusion to the signification of the name itself, and may more particularly point out which name is intended, even the name Messiah, to which Christ, in the New Testament, answers; which, though not very frequently met with in the Old Testament, yet was well known to the ancient Jews, as appears from their Targums, where it is made use of in upwards of sixty places, in which the Redeemer is treated of;4545Vide Buxtorf. Talm. Lex. p. 1268, 1269, etc. and as it was well known, so it was highly esteemed of by them; they expected him who was to redeem Israel, under this title and character; and when he was come, and had revealed himself unto some, in an exulting manner they said one to another, We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ; that name had been always precious to the saints, who waited for the consolation of Israel, and was then like a box of ointment poured forth, exceeding grateful, delightful, and refreshing to them.
2. Another name by which Christ is called, and which may be said to be as “ointment poured forth,” is the name Jesus, which signifies a Savior, and was given him, because he “saves his people from their sins.” Christ is, in the everlasting gospel, revealed as a Savior; it is therein declared, that the design of his coming into the world was to save sinners, and that he has obtained eternal salvation for them, and is both able and willing to save the chief of them; the discovery the gospel makes of him is exceeding delightful and pleasant to awakened sinners. This name Jesus, a Savior, how sweet is it to such who have seen the exceeding sinfulness of sin, themselves lost and undone thereby, and in a perishing state and condition! the news of a Savior are good news and glad “tidings of great joy” unto them; the discovery of it is like the breaking open a box of ointment, and pouring it out; it at once removes the filthy stench of sin from the sinners nostrils, and that sadness and sorrow of heart which arise from the guilt of it upon the conscience.
3. Christ’s name, Immanuel, may be said to be as “ointment poured forth,” which signifies “God with us;” and there are two things in it which make it like “ointment poured forth,” that is, exceeding odorous and grateful to believers.
(1.) That he is God; hence they know, and are well assured, that he is able to save them; that the work is not too heavy for him; that he has not undertaken that which he is not able to accomplish, which they would have reason to believe, if he was only a creature: from hence they comfortably conclude, as well they may, that all he did was efficacious, and answered the purposes for which it was done; as that his sacrifice was effectual to atone for and expiate sin; his blood to procure the pardon of it, and thoroughly cleanse from it; his righteousness to justify from all sin, and render them acceptable in the sight of God; and all this, because they are the sacrifice, blood, and righteousness of one that is God. From this name they also gather, that he having taken the care and charge of them, is able to keep them from falling; and that none is able to pluck them out of his hands, no more than they can separate them from his heart, which they could not be so assured of, was he a creature.
(2.) Another thing which makes this name like “ointment poured forth,” is, that he is “God with us;” God dwelling and conversing with us, God in our nature, God manifest in the flesh; hence it appears, that he who is the great God, and our Savior, is near akin to us, and we to him; being “flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone,” we are both of one and the same nature, and therefore he is not ashamed to call us brethren; and his assuming our nature, gives him a right, as well as makes him a proper person to be our Goel or Redeemer, whereby all the blessings, which he procured in this nature, are communicated to us, and not to angels; now what makes this name still more sweet, savory and delightful, is, that he, who is Immanuel, God with us, God in our nature, is, and will be on our side; and if God be with us, and for us, who shall be against us?
4. Christ’s name, “the Lord our righteousness,” may be said to be as “ointment poured forth,” by which he is called, Jeremiah 23:6 this is exceeding grateful, sweet and precious to a poor sinner; one who has seen his own righteousness as filthy rags, and as an unclean thing, how does he value Christ as the Lord his righteousness! he counts all things but loss and dung, in comparison of him, and desires only to be found in him, and in his righteousness, and not in his own; but what makes this so exceeding precious to him, is, because it acquits from all sin, and secures from all wrath and condemnation, and renders him spotless, unblameable, and irreproveable in the sight of God.
5. Any, or all of those names of Christ, in Isaiah 9:6 may be said to be as “ointment poured forth,” they being exceeding precious and delightful to believers; such as wonderful, counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting father, and prince of peace. Christ’s name “Wonderful,” is so; he being wonderful in his incarnation and grace, in his person and offices, in his works, relations and characters; this emits a sweet odor to believers, even like a box of ointment opened to them: and so is his name “counsellor;” under which character he acted from everlasting, consulting with the other two persons, our eternal welfare in the ancient council of peace; and still continues to Bear this character, which he makes good, by giving to us the best advice and most wholesome counsel, and this he does freely and faithfully: his name, “the mighty God,” carries in it as much sweetness and comfort to the believer, as it does greatness and majesty; and that endearing title, the “everlasting Father,” who, as such, loves his children with an everlasting love, and has made everlasting provisions for them, and takes everlasting care of them, fills those he stands thus related to, with the utmost pleasure: and that noble character, the “Prince of Peace,” which he bears on the account of his having, obtained peace by “the blood of his cross,” for rebellious sinners, so sweetly diffuses the odor of his grace, that it charms and captivates the believer’s heart. The names of true lovers are dear to each other, to which the allusion is; they love to hear their names mentioned, which are as precious ointment, as delicious nectar.4646Nomen nectari dulcius beato. Martial. Epigr. 1. 9. cp. 9. Or else,
3dly, By Christ’s name, we may understand his Gospel; thus, the apostle Paul is said to be a chosen vessel, to bear the name of Christ before the Gentiles, that is, to preach his gospel to them; he was a vessel full of the precious ointment of the gospel, and his preaching of it was the pouring of it forth, which was exceeding grateful to poor sinners, The gospel to some, is like a box of ointment shut up; it is hid unto them, they know it not, it is a sealed book, a hidden mystery, an unpleasant story, and unsavory words; it sends forth no other savor than that “of death unto death;” but unto others, it is like a box of ointment opened, and poured forth, which diffuses and spreads a sweet and delightful odor abroad. The ministers of the gospel make manifest the savor of Christ’s knowledge in every place where they are sent, and become to some the “savor of life unto life;” they open the box, and pour forth the ointment of the gospel, which coming with power, is received with pleasure; and being “worthy of acceptation,” it sheets with it in the hearts of awakened sinners.
4thly, By the name of Christ, may be intended the fame which was, and still is spread abroad of him: some Jewish writer,4747R. Sol. Jarchi in loc. So Lyra. Vide Targum in loc. expound it of a good name or good report, which Solomon says, “is better than precious ointment,” (Eccl. 7:1) and then the sense is this, “such is the fame that is spread abroad of thee, of thy greatness and goodness, of thy beauties and excellencies, that even those who have only heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, and to whom, at present, thou art not known by sight, have fallen in love with thee.” In the days of Christ’s flesh, his name was renowned, his fame was spread far and near, for the good he did to mankind, in healing the sick, and curing all manner of diseases; for the surprising miracles which he wrought, and for the work of the ministry, which he was engaged in; his matter being excellent and divine, words of grace and wisdom, such as “never man spake;” and his manner of delivery being with power and authority: and now his fame is great, and an excellent report is spread abroad of him, through the preaching of the everlasting gospel, for the mighty achievements of his grace, and what his arm of Almighty power has done, in working out, and bringing in salvation for poor sinners; as also for those peculiar blessings of grace, which souls daily receive from him, as well as for those personal excellencies which are in him; now such a report going abroad of him, his name being thus “as ointment poured forth,” the virgins love him, souls flock after him, and come unto him. Which brings me to consider,
III.The influence that all this has upon the hearts of others; “therefore do the virgins love thee.” In explaining which clause, I shall endeavor,
1st, To show who are meant by the virgins.
2dly, Give some account of the nature of their love and affection to Christ.
1st, Let us consider who are intended by the virgins. Some think carnal professors are here meant, who are called virgins in scripture, though foolish ones; but their, love is not real, such as this seems to be in the text: others have thought that they are the uncalled and unconverted among the Gentiles, who are not yet espoused to Christ; but they rather appear to be true believers in Christ, by their love to him, for “faith works by love;” and, perhaps, persons lately converted are intended, whose love to Christ is generally warm and lively, and their affections strong, not having as yet met with those chills, nor attended with that coldness and indifference, which too often, and too soon befall God’s children: the first love is the best and strongest, but oftentimes cloth not last tong warm and lively, being gradually chilled with the aboundings of corruption within, and the snares of the world without; though, perhaps, all true believers, whether of a later or of a longer standing, may be understood here, and may be justly called virgins,
1. For their chaste and strict adherence to Christ, their only husband, to whom they are espoused; “I have espoused you to one husband,” says the apostle, “that I might present you a chaste virgin to Christ;” (2 Cor. 11:2) these being betrothed to him in righteousness, in loving-kindness, in mercies, and in faithfulness, know, own and acknowledge him as their Lord and husband, and steadfastly adhere to him as such; he is a head, both of eminence and influence to them; to him they hold, and him alone they submit unto as such; he is the Savior of the body, the church, and they acknowledge him to be theirs, and will have no other. Their language is, “Ashur shall not save us, neither will we say any more to the works of our hands, Ye are our gods.” They make use of none, as the mediator between God and them, either as a mediator of redemption, or of intercession, but the Lord Jesus Christ; him they know and love, to him they have given up themselves, and by him they will abide, as their head and husband, their Savior and Mediator.
2. For the singleness of their love and affection to Christ. Their love is not common to all; it is not bestowed upon any creature, but purely reserved for him who alone deserves it; they can every one of them say, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none on earth that I desire besides thee,” (Ps. 73:25). Christ requires all their love, he will admit of no rival in it, and they are heartily willing to bestow it all upon him. Those who love any creature, or creature-enjoyment more than Christ, or equally with him, are not worthy of him, nor worthy to be called by the name of virgins.
3. For their incorruptness in the doctrine of faith: this is what the apostle seems to have a regard to, when he declared his fervent desire to present the Corinthians, as a chaste virgin to Christ; he was jealous, lest they should be seduced through the subtlety and craftiness of ill-designing men, and their pure minds be corrupted and drawn aside “from the simplicity that is in Christ;” lest they should be polluted with error, and so not answer the character of virgins, which they had hitherto borne, and which he earnestly wished might continue with them. Now virgins are such, who having received, “hold fast the faithful word, as they have been taught;” whose souls having been nourished up in the words of faith, and of good doctrines and established therein, cannot be moved from thence, but will earnestly contend, and strive together “for the faith once delivered to the saints.”
4. For the truth and sincerity of their worship: they are such who “worship God in spirit and in truth;” who make the word of God, and his will therein revealed, the rule to act by, in all solemn and social worship, and not the authorities, customs, and inventions of men; and when they are concerned in any part of religious worship, their desires are, that their hearts and souls may be engaged therein, they are not of those who draw near to God with their mouths, and with their lips honor him, but have removed their hearts far from him, and their fear towards him, taught by the precepts of “men;” for as they have not committed spiritual whoredom, which is idolatry, so they serve the Lord with pure spirits; they desire that whatsoever they do, more especially in divine worship, might be done in faith, from a principle of love to God, and according to his word and will: these are they who are said not to be defiled with women, for they are virgins; “these are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth;” (Rev. 14:4) in every ordinance and institution of his, which he in his word has pointed out unto them, and marked out for them.
5. For the purity of their lives and conversations; they hold “the mystery of the faith,” not merely notionally and y a profession of it, but “in a pure conscience,” and hereby “adorn the doctrine of God, our Savior;” their garments are, in some measure, kept from being spotted with the “pollutions of the world,” and which they also frequently wash and make “white in the blood of the Lamb.” Besides, that “grace of God, which bringeth salvation,” (Titus 2:11, 12) that is, the doctrines of grace, which bring the news of salvation by Christ, to poor sinners, “teach them, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, they should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” which, through the mighty power of God’s grace, they are in some measure enabled to do.
6. For their fairness and beauty. Virgins being fair and beautiful, believers are therefore compared unto them; for though they are black in themselves, yet they are comely in Christ; though full of spots in themselves, yet, as considered in him, they are “all fair, and there is no spot” in them: through that comeliness, which he has put upon them, they are a perfection of beauty, and being so, are the delight of Christ, and wonder of angels.
7. For their gay and costly attire; and yet modest behavior. Virgins, in their youthful days, if modest, though their attire is gay and splendid, suitable to their age; yet are of a decent and becoming behavior. Believers are richly attired: these virgins appear in cloth of gold, “in raiment of needlework,” curiously wrought, which cannot be matched; they are decked with all kinds of ornaments, with bracelets, chains, rings, and jewels; they have on the glorious robe of Christ’s righteousness, and are adorned with the various graces of the Spirit, which make their behavior decent and modest; for they are not proud and haughty, one of their ornaments being that “of a meek and quiet spirit;” they have low, mean; and humble thoughts of themselves; suitable to their character is their carriage and deportment; for though they are so richly clothed, and so nearly related to the King of kings, yet, like their Lord, are meek and lowly.
Secondly, I shall now proceed to give some account of the love which these virgins bear to Christ: in doing which I shall,
1st, Give some account of the nature of it.
2dly, Shew from whence it arises. And,
3dly, How it manifests itself.
1st, Let us consider the nature and properties of it,
1. It is a superlative love which souls bear to Christ; it: exceeds and excels their love to all creatures, or creature-enjoyments. Christ loves them above all others, and they love him more than all persons or things besides; of all that claim a share in their love, as none deserves, so none has a greater interest therein than himself,
2. It is universal; they love all of Christ, and all that belong to him; they love him in his person, and in all his offices, relations, and characters, which he has took upon him, and by which he is pleased to manifest himself unto them: they love all his saints, be they high or low, rich or poor, and by whatsoever character or denomination, they are distinguished, if it appears that his grace is but wrought in their hearts, and they bear his image and superscription; they love all his commands, ordinances, and institutions; they “esteem his precepts concerning all things, to be right,” and are not partial in their obedience thereunto,
3. It is, or at least ought to be, constant and faithful, as his is to them, and as Jonathan’s was to David: we should love him in adversity, as well as in prosperity, at all times; nothing should separate our love from Christ, as nothing can separate his love from us.
4. It is, or ought to be, fervent and ardent; and so it is usually at first conversion, as has been already observed; and this is called in scripture, the “first love,” which the church at Ephesus was blamed for leaving: not that she had lost her love to Christ, but the fervency thereof was much abated; she began to grow cold and lukewarm in her affections, which is too often the case of God’s people, through the prevailing of corruptions, and an immoderate desire and pursuit after the things of this world; “because iniquity shall abound,” says Christ, “the love of many shall wax cold.” (Matthew 24:12)
5. Where there is true love to Christ, it is always hearty and unfeigned: the virgins, true believers, love him “with all their heart, and with all their soul;” they love him “in sincerity,” and from their very hearts can appeal to Him, who is the heart-searching and rein-trying God, as Peter did, and say, “Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee,” (John 21:17). Here is no deceit, dissimulation or hypocrisy in their love; though it may be sometimes weak and languid, yet whenever it exerts and shews itself, it is real and hearty; these love not “in word only,” “neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”
2dly, It will be proper to enquire into the springs and causes of this love, and to observe from whence it arises. And,
1. It springs and arises from a sight of Christ’s loveliness: an unbeliever sees no beauty in Christ, wherefore he should desire him; there is nothing in him lovely to a carnal eye; but one that is “made light in the Lord,” and has but a glimpse of “the King in his beauty,” his heart is won, his soul is ravished and drawn forth in love to him; he admires and desires him above all, and cannot be easy without an interest in him.
2. From a view of his suitableness, as a Savior; the believer not only sees personal and transcendent excellencies in him, which ravish him, but special blessings, which are proper for him; he beholds him as “full of grace and truth;” he smells a sweet savor in his ointments, and that name Jesus, a Savior, becomes exceeding precious to him; he views all righteousness and strength, peace and pardon, light and life, joy and comfort, grace and glory, and all things appertaining: to salvation, every thing to make him comfortable here, and. happy hereafter, in Christ; and therefore says, as David did, “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength,” (Ps. 18:1).
3. From a sense of his love and manifestation of it to their souls; “we love him,” says the apostle, “because he first loved us;” (1 John 4:19) our love is not the cause of his, but his is the cause of ours; and it is not merely his loving us, bur the shedding it abroad in our hearts by his Spirit, which draws out our love to him; for though he loved us, yet if he had not some way or other manifested it to us, and overcome our hearts with it, we should still have remained enemies to him; but his giving us the sense and perception of it in our hearts, is what has drawn us to himself, and will keep us there.
4. From a view of union and relation to him; how can persons do otherwise than love him, when they see themselves so nearly united to him, as to be “members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones?” How can they but love him, when they view him standing in and filling up the relations of an indulgent father, a tender husband, a loving brother, and faithful friend unto them?
5. This is more and more increased by enjoying communion with him; the more intimate a believer is with Christ, the oftener he sees him, the more frequent visits he receives from him, and the greater acquaintance and fellowship he has with him, the more he loves him; every sight of him, visit from him, and enjoyment of his presence, add fresh strength and fervency to his love; John, the beloved disciple, who leaned on Christ’s bosom, and had intimate communion with him, had his heart filled with love to him, and wrote the rues; largely of it. But,
3dly, I shall now endeavor to shew how this love manifests itself: and it does so,
1. By a regard to Christ’s commands and ordinances; “If ye love me,” says Christ, keep my commandments; for he that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me,” (John 14:15-21) that is, he that hath my commandments written upon his heart, by the finger of the Spirit, according to the tenor of the covenant of grace, and is enabled to keep them by the assistance of my grace and Spirit, he it is that shews his love to me; and therefore, as you say, you love me, shew it by an observance of my commands: and all that love Christ will do so, according to the measure of grace received; they will love the place of divine worship, and have a respect to all his ordinances and institutions; for all his tabernacles are amiable and lovely to them.
2. By a regard, to his truths, the doctrines of the gospel; they receive the truth in the love of it, and value it more than their “necessary food;” they highly esteem the preachers of it. and cannot bear to hear one truth of the gospel spoken against.
3. By a regard to his people; they love the saints, who love Christ, they delight in their company, and take pleasure in conversing with them; they are the “excellent in the earth, in whom is all their delight,” and indeed, where there is no love to the saints, there can be no true love to Christ; for, as the apostle John says, “he that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4:20).
4. By a regard to his presence; a soul that loves Christ, values the presence of Christ; nothing so desirable to him as that is: and when he has lost sight of Christ, cannot be easy without him, but seeks here and there until he has found him whom his soul loves: he thinks himself never more happy, than when he has Christ’s presence, and never worse than when he is without it.
5. This love manifests itself, by parting with and bearing all for Christ: a soul that truly loves Christ, will part with all that is near and clear to him, for him; he will forsake his own kindred, and his father’s house; he counts Christ “the pearl of great price,” and is therefore willing to quit all he has, that he may but enjoy that; he leaves all, as the disciples did, and follows Christ; and resolves, some what will, that Christ’s God shall be his God, and Christ’s people his people, and where Christ lodges he will lodge, and where he goes he will follow, and cleave close to him, as Ruth did to Naomi. Moreover, he is not only willing to leave and lose all for Christ, but also to bear all for him, that he is pleased to lay upon him, and call him to; he is willing to suffer reproaches, afflictions, and persecutions for the sake of him and his gospel, and to bear any cross whatever he thinks fit to enjoin him; all which he would never be willing to submit to, was not his soul filled with love to Christ; and such a love as this, which springs from such causes, and manifests itself in these ways, is exceeding grateful to Christ, as appears from chapter 4:10.
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