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2. They are partakers of the divine nature, 2 Pet.i.4, partakers of Christ, of his Spirit, his grace, his image; and like draws to like; the carnal worldling to the world, and the Christian to Christ. As the water ex, haled from the sea by the influence of the sun, is gathered into clouds, which diffolved it falls down on the earth again, where cast up by springs it empties itself by rivers and brooks into the sea again whence it came, Eccl.i. 7.; so grace comes down from above, from the fulness thereof in the man Christ, into his Christians, and watering them does in the exercise thereof mount up again towards him in such breathings after him, and concern that he may turn and come to them.
3. All believers may be observed to be great miscoun. ters of time, when Christ is turned away from them in their night-journey, If. liv. 7. “For a small moment have I forsaken thee," &c. compare Pfal. xii. 1. "How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord, for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?” As the time wherein the moon hides her head to the traveller lsy night seems long, in comparison of the time of her shining bright; so the time of Christ's withdrawing and hiding his face from a gracious soul is a weary time, a kind of petit eternity. Which speaks a mighty concern.
Lastly, When they are themselves, they are resolute for his presence and countenance, Eph. vi. 15. Grace gives mcn an edge for holy violence, Mat. xi. 11. It will make men very peremptory for Christ, that they will not take a refufal, Gen. xxxii. 26. to threap kindness , on him, and special interest in him, Il.lxii. 16. to make an argument of their unworthiness and misery, muftered up against them tomar their confidence, Mat. xv. 27. and to stick at nothing standing betwixt Christ and them, so as they may get to him, Phil. iii. 8.
I shall now conclude this subject with some application of what has been said.
USE I. Of information. This fhews that, 1. Tlie grace of God enobles the heart, makes it
to aspire to the highest things, and gives it a bent of defire beyond others.. (1.) It carries the heart off this world and sets it on the other world, as the place of their great hopes, Col. iii. 1. Others may defire their portion in this life, and eagerly pursue it there ; but they will certainly carry their views quite beyond it to the other world, Phil. iii. 13, 14. (2.) It gives them a new notion of heaven, and refined desires thereof, as the place where they may be with Christ, Phil. i. 23. Carnal men have carnal defires of heaven, as a place of reft, welfare, and happiness, abstracted from the enjoyment of God in Chrift; but it is Christ's being there, and full communion with him to be enjoyed there, that is the main spring of the gracious soul's defire to be there, Col. iii. 34.
2. That the foul once truly married to Christ is fised as to its choice, never to alter it, on any terms; neither to be boasted from him by, the world's frowns, nor bribed from him by, its smiles, Heb. iv. 3. Cant. viii. 6,7 Be the night never fo dark, the journey never so hard, they are resolute to go on, till the day breaking they get to him in the other world.
3. The travellers to Zion defire and look for their furniture for the way from Chrift, as well as their entertainment at the journey's end, Cant. viii. 5. " Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her Beloved?" There are many who discover their hypocrisy, by desiring no more of him, than that he will take them into his covenant at the beginning of their way, and into his heaven at the end of it; having little concern for his presence and countenance during their progress. They would have a rest to their consciences from him at their setting off, and a rest to their souls from him at the end; but the rest to their hearts, while they are going on their way, they look for in the world and in their lufts. Such will be miserably disappointed; for “without holiness no man fhall see the Lord,” Heb. xii. 14.
Use II. Of trial. Hereby ye may try your state. If ye be really joined to the Lord Christ as your head and husband, to be with him in the other world, it will be your great concern to enjoy such communion with him here, as is allowed his people by the way, till ye come to get full communion with him there. There is a twofold communion with Christ allowed his people by the way to the other world.
1. Habitual communion, which is a commonness of interest with him, I John i. 3. “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Chrift." This is a neceffary refult of the spiritual marriage-tie, and believers never want it from the moment of their union with Christ. They may set their names on what is his, as having a joint interest therein with him; “ all are yours; and ye are Christ's," 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23. They have with him a common interest in his righte. ousness, what he did, what he suffered, in his Spirit, purchase, graces wherewith he is filled, &c.
2. A&ual communion, which conäfts in a certain friendly intercourse betwixt Christ and the foul, he letting down the influences of his grace on them, and they moving towards him in the exercise of grace, Cant. i. 4.
“ Draw me, we will run after thee; the King hath brought me into his chambers,” &c. This a believer may want for a time; and this is the thing deared in the text, under the name of Christ's “turning, and being like a roe, or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.” And the desire of this communion with him is the touchstone of a gracious state. There are several degrees of it.
(1.) Communion with Christ by desires awake after him, ff.xxvi. 9. “With my soul have I desired thee in the night, yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early;" when the spiritual hunger and thirst after him is created in the foul, and the soul longs, thirsts, and pants after him, Pf. lxüi. I. This cannot be but by infuences from him, whereby the foul is set in motion
after him, Cant. v. 4. It is a step to more, Mat. v. 6. “ Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness ; for they fhall be filled.”
(2.). Communion with Christ in the exercise of a faith of adherence to him, Pl.xxii.1..“My God, my God, why haft thou forsaken me?” Tho' the soul cannot fing, yet it will refolutely fay to him, “ My God." Tho' his difpenfations are black and drumly, and seeming to go against the promise, yet the soul will hold by the grip of the promise, saying as Job xiii. 15. “The he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” It is a power from on high that teacheth one's hands fo to war.
(3.) Communion with Christ in the exercise of hope, Pl. xlii. 5. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God, før I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance." Tho' sensible enjoyment is wanting, and there is 20 1 present feeling ; yet the foul believing the promise, hopes for the accomplishment of it in due time. So it! waits on about his hand, in the diligent use of the means; expecting a good iffue a length. This is the product of divine influences, according to the apostle's prayer, Rom. xv. 13. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
(4.) Communion with Christ in fenfible enjoyment; when they are admitted to see his face by a faith of assurance, hear his voice fo as to know it, taste of his goodness, smell the favour of his name, Cant. i. 3. and to feel the workings of his grace on their souls. This fills the soul with folid comfort, refined delight, and sometimes with heavenly rapture, 1 Pet. i. 8.
Now what gust have ye for these things? Is it indeed your great concern to reach them the habitual course of your life, and so to have communion with Chrift while in this world, till ye get full communion with himn in the other? If the enjoyment of such communion with Chrift while here, is your great concern, then,
[1.] Ye will desire it above all things else ye can reach in this world, preferring it to the best things that earth affords, Psal. iv. 6, 7. Ye will value it more than the profits and pleasures of the world, counting them but dung in comparison thereof.
[2.] Ye will highly prize holy ordinances, public, private, and secret, as the means of communion with Chrift; and yet not be satisfied with them without communion with him in them. They to whom these are a burden or tasteless, plainly discover they value not communion with Christ, these being the galleries wherein the King is held, Cant. vii. 5.; they are not of the Pfalmist's mind, who says, Pfal. lxxxiv. 1o. “A day in thy courts is better than a thousand; I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God, than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Those that rest in them, and are pleased when the task is got done, thew they value not the true use of them, represented to us in the spouse's practice, Cant. iii. 2. “I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my foul loveth."
[3.] It will be your great concern to guard againit whatever may mar it, or keep you back from it; and to keep the way wherein you may obtain it. That is you will beware of living in the allowed practice of fin, but be tender and holy in your lives, Pfal.lxvi. 18. John xiv. 21.
USE III. Evidence yourselves truly married to Chrift, by making it your great concern to have actual communion with Christ here, till ye come to the full enjoyment of him in the other world. To press this, I offer these motives very briefly.
1. This is necessary to evidence your fincerity in the marriage covenant, 1 John ii. 19. “ They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us." Being-careless of communion with Chrift, speaks that the heart is not with him, but with other loyers.