George Whitefield Sermon 12

Christ the Believer's Husband

Isaiah 54:5, "For thy Maker is thy Husband."

Although believers by nature, are far from God, and children of wrath,

even as others, yet it is amazing to think how nigh they are brought to him

again by the blood of Jesus Christ. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,

neither hath it entered into the heart of any man living, fully to

conceive, the nearness and dearness of that relation, in which they stand

to their common head. He is not ashamed to call them brethren. Behold, says

the blessed Jesus in the days of his flesh, "my mother and my brethren."

And again after his resurrection, "go tell my brethren." Nay sometimes he

is pleased to term believers his friends. "Henceforth call I you no longer

servants, but friends." "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth." And what is a

friend? Why there is a friend that is nearer than a brother, nay as near as

one's own soul. And "thy friend, (says God in the book of Deuteronomy)

which is as thy own soul." Kind and endearing applications these, that

undoubtedly bespeak a very near and ineffably intimate union between the

Lord Jesus and the true living members of his mystical body! But, methinks,

the words of our text point out to us a relation, which not only

comprehends, but in respect to nearness and dearness , exceeds all other

relations whatsoever. I mean that of a Husband, "For thy Maker is thy

husband; the Lord of Hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of

Israel, the God of the whole earth shall he be called."

These words were originally spoken to the people of the Jews,

considered collectively as a peculiar people, whom our Lord had betrothed

and married to himself; and they seem to be spoken, when religion was on

the decline among their churches; when they had, in a great measure, lost

that life and power, which they once experienced; and their enemies began

to insult them with a "where is now your God?" Such a state of things must

undoubtedly be very afflicting to the true mourners in Zion; and put them

upon crying unto the Lord, in this their deep distress. He hears their

prayer, his bowels yearn towards them; and in the preceding verse, he

assures them, that though the enemy had broken in upon them like a flood,

yet their extremity should be his opportunity to lift up a standard against

him. "Fear not, (says the great Head and King of his church) for thou shalt

not be ashamed (finally or totally); neither be thou confounded,

(dissipated or dejected, giving up all for gone, as though thou never

shouldst see better days, or another revival of religion) for thou shalt

not (entirely) be put to shame;" though for a while, for thy humiliation,

and the greater confusion of thy adversaries, I suffer them to triumph over

thee: "For thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember

the reproach of thy widow-hood any more;" i.e. I will vouchsafe you such

another glorious gale of my blessed Spirit, that you shall quite forget

your former troubled widow-state, and give your enemies no more occasion to

insult you, on account of your infant-condition, but rather to envy you,

and gnash their teeth, and melt away at the sight of your un-thought-of

glory and prosperity. And why will the infinitely great and condescending

Jesus deal thus with his people? Because the church is his spouse; "For,

(as in the words just now read to you) thy Maker is thy husband; thy

Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel;" and therefore he loves them too well, to

let thy enemies always trample thee under foot. "The Lord of Hosts is his

name, the God of the whole earth shall he be called;" and therefore he is

armed with sufficient power to relieve his oppressed people, and over come

and avenge himself of all their haughty and insulting foes.

This seems to be the prime and genuine interpretation of the text and

context, especially if we add, that they may have a further view to the

latter-day glory, and that blesses state of the church, which the people of

God have been looking for in all ages, and the speedy approach of which, we

undoubtedly pray for, when we put up that petition of our Lord's, "thy

kingdom come."

But, though the words were originally spoken to the Jews, yet they are

undoubtedly applicable to all believers in all ages, and, when enlarged on

in a proper manner, will afford us suitable matter of discourse both for

sinners and for saints; for such as know God, as well as for such who know

him not; and likewise for those, who once walked in the light of his

blessed countenance, but are now backslidden from him, have their harps

hung upon the willows, and are afraid that their beloved is gone, and will

return to their souls no more. Accordingly, without prefacing this

discourse any further, as I suppose that a mixed multitude of saints,

unconverted sinners, and backsliders, are present here this day, I shall

endeavor to speak from the words of the text, that each may have a proper

portion, and none be went empty away.

In prosecuting this design, I will,

I. Endeavor to show, what must pass between Jesus Christ and our souls

before we can say, "that our Maker is our husband."

II. The duties of love which they owe to our Lord, who stand in so

near a relation to him,

III. The miserable condition of such as cannot yet say "their Maker is

their husband." And

IV. I shall conclude with a general exhortation to all such unhappy

souls, to come and match with the dear Lord Jesus. And O! may that God who

blessed Abraham's servant, when he went out to seek a wife for his son

Isaac, bless me, even me also, now I am come, I trust, relying on divine

strength, to invite poor sinners, and recall backsliders, to my Master


And FIRST, I am to show, what must pass between Jesus Christ and our

souls before we can say, "Our Maker is our husband."

But before I proceed to this, it may not be improper to observe, that

if any of you, amongst whom I am now preaching the kingdom of God, are

enemies to inward religion, and explode the doctrine of inward feelings, as

enthusiasm, cant and nonsense, I shall not be surprised, if your hearts

rise against me whilst I am preaching; for I am about to discourse on true,

vital, internal piety; and an inspired apostle hath told us, "that the

natural man discerneth not the things of the spirit, because they are

spiritually discerned." But, however, be noble as the Bereans were; search

the Scriptures as they did; lay aside prejudice; hear like Nathaniel, with

a true Israelitish ear; be willing to do the will of God; and then you

shall according to the promise of our dearest Lord, "know of the doctrine,

whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."

I would further observe, that if any here do expect fine preaching

from me this day, they will, in all probability, go away disappointed. For

I came not here to shoot over people's heads; but, if the Lord shall be

pleased to bless me, to reach their hearts. Accordingly, I shall endeavor

to clothe my ideas in such plain language, that the meanest negro or

servant, if God is pleased to give a hearing ear, may understand me; for I

am certain, if the poor and unlearned can comprehend, the learned and rich


This being premised, proceed we to show what must pass between Jesus

Christ and our souls, before we can say, "our Maker is our husband."

Now, that we may discourse more pertinently and intelligibly upon this

point, it may not be amiss to consider, what is necessary to be done,

before a marriage between two parties amongst ourselves, can be said to be

valid in the sight of God and men. And that will lead us in a familiar way,

to show what must be done, or what must pass between us and Jesus Christ,

before we can say, "our Maker is our husband."

And FIRST, in all lawful marriages, it is absolutely necessary, that

the parties to be joined together in that holy and honorable estate, are

actually and legally freed from all pre-engagements whatsoever. "A woman is

bound to her husband, (saith the apostle) so long as her husband liveth."

The same law holds good in respect to the man. And so likewise, if either

party be betrothed and promised, though not actually married to another,

the marriage is not lawful, till that pre-engagement and promise be fairly

and mutually dissolved. Now, it is just thus between us and the Lord Jesus.

For, we are all by nature born under, and wedded to the law, as a covenant

of works. Hence it is that we are so fond of, and artfully go about, in

order to establish a righteousness o four own. It is as natural for us to

do this, as it is to breathe. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, even after

the covenant of grace was revealed to them in that promise, "the seed of

the woman shall bruise the serpent's head," reached out their hands, and

would again have taken hold of the tree of life, which they had forfeited,

had not God drove them our of paradise, and compelled them, as it were, to

be saved by grace. And thus all their descendants naturally run to, and

want to be saved, partly at least, if not wholly, by their works. And even

gracious souls, who are inwardly renewed, so far as the old man abides in

them, find a strong propensity this way. Hence it is, that natural men are

generally so fond of Arminian principles. "Do and live," is the native

language of a proud, self-righteous heart. But before we can say, "our

Maker is our husband," we must be delivered from our old husband the law;

we must renounce our own righteousness, our own doings and performances, in

point of dependence, whether in whole or part, as dung and dross, for the

excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord. For thus speaks the

apostle Paul to the Romans, chapter 7:4, "Ye also are become dead to the

law (as a covenant of works) by the body of Christ, that ye should be

married to another, even to him, who is raised from the dead." As he also

speaketh in another place, "I have espoused you, as a chaste virgin to

Jesus Christ." This was the apostle's own case. Whilst he depended on his

being a Hebrew of the Hebrews, and thought himself secure, because, as to

the outward observation of the law, he was blameless; he was an entire

stranger to the divine life: but when he began to experience the power of

Jesus Christ's resurrection, we find him, in his epistle to the

Philippians, absolutely renouncing all his external privileges, and all his

Pharisaical righteousness; "Yes, doubtless, and I count all things but

loss, nay but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having

mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the

faith of Jesus Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." And

thus it must be with is. Ere we can say, "our Maker is our husband." Though

we may not be wrought upon in that extraordinary way in which the apostle

was, yet we must be dead to the law, we must be espoused as chaste virgins

to Jesus Christ, and count all external privileges, and our most splendid

performances (as was before observed) only "ad dung and dross, for the

excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord."

But further; before a marriage among us can stand good in law, both

parties must not only be freed from all pre-engagements, but there must be

a mutual consent on both sides. We are not used to marry people against

their wills. This is what the Jews called betrothing, or espousing, a thing

previous to the solemnity of marriage. Thus we find, the Virgin Mary is

said to be espoused to Joseph, before they actually came together, Matt.

1:18. And thus it is among us. Both parties are previously agreed, and, as

it were, espoused to each other, before we publish, what we call the banns

of marriage concerning them. And so it will be in the spiritual marriage,

between Jesus Christ and our souls. Before we are actually married or

united to him by faith; or, to keep to the terms of the text, before we

assuredly can say, that "our Maker is our husband," we must be made willing

people in the day of God's power, we must be sweetly and effectually

persuaded by the Holy Spirit of God, that the glorious Emanuel is willing

to accept of us, just as we are, and also that we are willing to accept of

him upon his own terms, yea, upon any terms. And when once it comes to

this, the spiritual marriage goes on apace, and there is but one thing

lacking to make it complete. And what is that? An actual union.

This is absolutely necessary in every lawful marriage among men. There

must be a joining of hands before witnesses, ere they can be deemed

lawfully joined together. Some men indeed of corrupt minds, are apt to look

upon this as a needless ceremony, and think it sufficient to be married, as

they term it, in the sight of God. But whence men get such divinity, I know

not. I am positive, not from the Bible; for we there read that even at the

first marriage in paradise, there was something of outward solemnity; God

himself (if I may speak) being there the priest. For we are told, Gen. 2:22

that, after God had made the woman, "he brought her unto the man." And

indeed, to lay aside all manner of outward ceremony in marriage, would be

to turn the world into a den of brute beasts. Men would then take, or

forsake as many wives as they pleased, and we should soon sink into as bad

and brutal a state, as those nations are, amongst whom such practices are

allowed of, and who are utterly destitute of the knowledge of our Lord and

Savior Jesus Christ. Whoever has experienced the power of his resurrection,

I am persuaded will never plead for such a licentious practice. For the

terms made us of in Scripture, to represent the mystical union between

Christ and his church, such as, our being "joined to the Lord," and

"married to Jesus Christ," are all metaphorical expressions, taken from

some analogous practices amongst men. And as persons when married, though

before twain, are now one flesh; so those that are joined to the Lord, and

can truly say, "our Maker is our husband," are in the apostle's language,

one spirit. This was typified in the original marriage of our first

parents. When God brought Eve to Adam, he received her with joy at his

hands, and said, "this is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh." They had

there, primarily, but one name. For thus speaks the sacred Historian, Gen.

5: 1-2, "In the day that God created man, he blessed them, and called their

name Adam." And why? Because they were one flesh, and were to have but one

heart. The self same terms are made use of in Scripture, to express the

believer's union with Jesus Christ. We are called Christians, after

Christ's name, because made partakers of Christ's nature. Out of his

fullness, believers receive grace for grace. And therefore, the marriage

state, especially by the apostle Paul, is frequently made use of, to figure

out to us the real, vital union, between Jesus Christ and regenerate souls.

This is termed by the apostle, Eph. 5:32, "A great mystery." But great as

it is, we must all experience it, before we can say assuredly, that "our

Maker is our husband." For what says our Lord, in that prayer he put up to

his Father before his bitter passion? "Father, I will that those whom thou

hast given me, shall be where I am, that they may be one with thee; even as

thou, O Father, and I are one, I in them, and they in me, that we all may

be made perfect in one." O infinite condescension! On ineffable union!

Hence it is, that believers are said to be members of his body, of his

flesh, and of his bones. Hence it is, that the apostle speaking of himself,

says, "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." What an expression is

that? How much does it comprehend? And, that we might not think this was

something peculiar to himself, he puts this close question to the

Corinthians; "Know ye not, that Christ is in you, unless you be

reprobates?" Agreeable to what he says in his epistle to the Colossians;

"Christ in you, the hope of glory." And hence it is, that our church, in

the communion-office, directs the minister to acquaint all those who

receive the sacrament worthily, that they are one with Christ, and Christ

with them; that they dwell in Christ, and Christ in them. Words that

deserve to be written in letters of gold, and which evidently show, what

our reformers believed all persons must experience, before they could truly

and assuredly say, that "their Maker is their husband."

From what has been delivered, may not the poorest and most illiterate

person here present easily know whether or not he is really married to

Jesus Christ. Some indeed, I am afraid, are so presumptuous as to affirm,

as least to insinuate, that there is no such thing as knowing, or being

fully assured, whilst here below, whether we are in Christ or not. Or at

least, if there be such a thing, it is very rare, or was only the privilege

of the primitive believers. Part of this is true, and part of this

absolutely false. That this glorious privilege of a full assurance is very

rare, is too, too true. And so it is equally too true, that real

Christians, comparatively speaking, are very rare also. But that there is

no such thing, or that this was only the privilege of the first followers

of our blessed Lord, is directly opposite to the word of God. "We know

(says St. John, speaking of believers in general) that we are his, by the

spirit which he hath given us;" and, "He that believeth hath the witness of

himself;" "because you are sons (saith St. Paul) God hath sent forth his

Spirit into your hearts, even the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba,

Father." Not that I dare affirm, that there is no real Christian, but what

has this full assurance of faith, and clearly knows, that his Maker is his

husband. In speaking thus, I should undoubtedly condemn some of the

generation of God's dear children, who through the prevalence of unbelief,

indwelling sin, spiritual sloth, or it may be, for want of being informed

of the privileges of believers, may walk in darkness, and see no light;

therefore, though I dare not affirm, that a full assurance of faith is

absolutely necessary for the very being, yet I dare assert, that it is

absolutely necessary, for the well being of a Christian. And for my own

part, I cannot conceive, how any persons, that pretend to Christianity, can

rest satisfied or contented without it. This is stopping short, on this

side Jordan, with a witness. And gives others too much reason to suspect,

that such persons, however high their profession may be, have, as yet, no

true saving grace at all.

Men, whose hearts are set on this world's goods, or, to use our Lord's

language, "the children of this world," act not so. I suppose there is

scarce a single merchant in this great congregation, especially in these

troublous times, that will venture out either his ship or cargo, without

first insuring, both against the violence of an enemy, or a storm. And I

suppose there is scarce a single house, of any considerable value, in any

populous town or city, but the owner has taken out a policy from the fire-

office, to unsure it, in case of fire. And can I be so irrational as to

think, that there is such a thing as securing my goods, and my house, and

that there is no such thing as insuring, what is infinitely more valuable,

my precious and immortal soul? Or if there be such a thing, as undoubtedly

there is, what foolishness of folly must it needs be in men, that pretend

to be men of parts, of good sense, and solid reasoning, to be so anxious to

secure their ships against a storm, and their houses against a fire, and at

the same time, not to be unspeakably more solicitous, to take a policy out

of the assurance-office of heaven; even the soul and witness of the blessed

Spirit of God, to insure their souls against that storm of divine wrath,

and that vengeance of eternal fire, which will at the last decisive day

come upon all those, who know not God, and have not obeyed his gracious

gospel? To affirm therefore, that there is no such thing as knowing, that

"our Maker is our husband;" or that it was a privilege peculiar to the

first Christians, to speak in the mildest terms, is both irrational and

unscriptural. Not that all who can say, their Maker is their husband, can

give the same clear and distinct account of the time, manner and means of

their being spiritually united and married by faith, to the blessed

bridegroom of the church. Some there may be now, as well as formerly,

sanctified from the womb. And others in their infancy and non-age, as it

were silently converted. Such perhaps may say, with a little Scotch maiden,

now with God, when I asked her, whether Jesus Christ had taken away her old

heart, and given her a new one? "Sir, it may be, (said she,) I cannot

directly tell you the time and place, but this I know, it is done." And

indeed it is not so very material, though no doubt it is very satisfactory,

if we cannot relate all the minute and particular circumstances, that

attended our conversion; if so be we are truly converted now, and can say,

the work is done, and that, "our Maker is our husband." And I question,

whether there is one single adult believer, now on earth, who lived before

conversion, either in a course of secret or open sin, but can, in a good

degree, give an account of the beginning and progress of a work of grace in

his heart.

What think ye? Need I tell my married persons in this congregation,

that they must go to the university, and learn the languages, before they

can tell whether they are married or not? Or, if their marriage was to be

doubted, could they not, think you, bring their certificates, to certify

the time and place of their marriage; and the minister that joined them

together in that holy state? And if you are adult, and are indeed married

to Jesus Christ, though you may be unlearned, and what the world terms

illiterate men, cannot you tell me the rise and progress, and consummation

of the spiritual marriage, between Jesus Christ and your souls? Know you

not the time, when you were first under the drawings of the Father, and

Jesus began to woo you for himself? Tell me, O man, tell me, O woman,

knowest thou not the time, or at least, knowest thou not, that there was a

time, when the blessed Spirit of God stripped thee of the fig-leaves of thy

own righteousness, hunted thee out of the trees of the garden of they

performances, forced thee from the embraces of thy old husband the law, and

made thee to abhor thy own righteousness, as so many filthy rags? Canst

thou not remember, when, after a long struggle with unbelief, Jesus

appeared to thee, as altogether lovely, mighty and willing to save? And

canst thou not reflect upon a season, when thy own stubborn heart was made

to bend; and thou wast made willing to embrace him, as freely offered to

thee in the everlasting gospel? And canst thou not, with pleasure

unspeakable, reflect on some happy period, some certain point of time, in

which a sacred something (perhaps thou could it not then well tell what)

did captivate, and fill thy heart, so that thou could say, in a rapture of

holy surprise, and ecstasy of divine love, "My Lord and my God! My beloved

is mine, and I am his; I know that my Redeemer liveth;" or, to keep to the

words of our text, "My Maker is my husband." Surely, amidst this great and

solemn assembly, there are many that can answer these questions in the

affirmative. For these are transactions, not easily to be forgotten; and

the day of our espousals is, generally, a very remarkable day; a day to be

had in everlasting remembrance.

And can any of you indeed, upon good grounds say, that your Maker is

your husband? May I not then (as it is customary to wish persons joy who

are just entered into the marriage state) congratulate you upon your happy

change, and wish you joy, with all my heart? Sure am I that there was joy

in heaven on the day of your espousals: and why should not the blessed news

occasion joy on earth? May I not address you in the language of our Lord to

the women that came to visit his sepulcher, "All hail!" for ye are highly

favored. Blessed are ye among men, blessed are ye among women! All

generations shall call you blessed. What! "is your Maker your husband? The

holy on of Israel your Redeemer?" Sing, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth!

What an amazing stoop is this! What a new thing has God created on the

earth! Do not your hearts, O believers, burn within you, when meditating on

this unspeakable condescension of the high and lofty one that inhabiteth

eternity? Whilst you are musing, does not the sacred fire of divine love

kindle in your souls? And, out of the abundance of your hearts, do you not

often speak with your tongues, and call upon all that is within you, to

laud and magnify your Redeemer's holy name? Is not that God-exalting, self-

abasing expression frequently in your mouths, "Why me, Lord, why me?" And

are you not often constrained to break out into that devout exclamation of

Solomon, when the glory of the Lord filled the temple, "And will God indeed

dwell with man?" ungrateful, rebellious, ill, and hell-deserving man! O, my

brethren, my heart is enlarged towards you! Tears, while I am speaking, are

ready to gush out. But they are tears of love and joy. How shall I give it

vent? How shall I set forth thy happiness, O believer, thou bride of God!

And is thy Maker thy husband? Is his name "The Lord of hosts?" Whom then

shouldst thou fear? And is thy Redeemer the holy one of Israel? The God of

the whole earth should he be called! Of whom then shouldst thou be afraid?

He that toucheth thee, toucheth the very apple of God's eye. "The very

hairs of thy head are all numbered;" and "it is better that a man should

have a millstone tied round his neck, and be drowned in the sea, than that

he should justly offend thee."

All hail, (I must again repeat it) thou Lamb's bride! For thou art all

glorious within, and comely, through the comeliness thy heavenly bridegroom

hath put upon thee. Thy garment is indeed of wrought gold; and, ere long,

the King shall bring thee forth with a raiment of needle-work, and present

thee blameless before his Father, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such

thing. In the mean while, well shall it be with you, and happy shall you

be, who are married to Jesus Christ: for all that Christ has, is yours. "He

is made of God to you, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and eternal

redemption." "Whether Paul, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or

things present, or things to come; all are yours." All his attributes are

engaged for your preservation, and all things shall work together for your

good, who love God, and, by being thus married to the Lord Jesus, give an

evident proof that you are called according to his purpose. What say you?

When you meditate on these things, are you not frequently ready to cry out,

What shall we render unto the Lord for all these mercies, which, of his

free unmerited grace, he hath been pleased to bestow upon us? For, though

you are dead to the law, as a covenant of works, yet you are alive to the

law as a rule of life, and are in, or under the law (for either expression

seems to denote the same thing) to your glorious husband, Jesus Christ.

Pass we on therefore to the

SECOND general head, under which I was to show, what duties of love

they owe to Jesus Christ, who are so happy as to be able to say, "My Maker

is my husband."

I say, duties of love. For being now married to Jesus Christ, you work

not for life, but from life. The love of God constrains you, so that, if

there was no written law, or supposing Jesus would set you at liberty from

his yoke, so far as grace prevails in your hearts, you would say, we love

our blessed bridegroom, and will not go from him.

And what does the Lord require of you? That we may speak on this head

as plainly as may be, we shall pursue the method we began with; and, by

carrying on the allegory, and examining what is required of truly Christian

wives, under the gospel, infer what our Lord may justly demand of those who

are united to him by faith, and can therefore say, "our Maker is our


And here let us go to the law and to the testimony. What says the

scripture? "Let the wife see that she REVERENCE her "husband." It is, no

doubt, the duty of married women to think highly of their husbands. From

whom may husbands justly command respect, if not from their wives? The

apostle's expression is emphatic. "Let the wife see that she reverence her

husband;" thereby implying, that women, some of them at least, are too

prone to disrespect their husbands; as Michal, Saul's daughter, despised

David in her heart, when she tauntingly said, 2 Sam. 6:20, "How glorious

was the king of Israel to-day, who uncovered himself to-day in the eyes of

the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly

uncovereth himself."

This is a source and fountain, from whence many domestic evils

frequently flow. Women should remember the character that husbands sustain

in scripture. The are to them, what Christ is to the church. And it is

mentioned to the honor of Sarah, that she called Abraham "Lord." "Shall I

have a child who am old, my Lord being old also?" It is remarkable, there

are but two good words in that whole sentence, "my Lord," (for all the

others are the language of unbelief) and yet those two words the Holy Ghost

mentions to her eternal honor, and buries, as it were, the rest in

oblivion. "Even as Sarah (says St. Peter) obeyed Abraham, calling him

Lord." An evident proof how pleasing it is in the sight of God, for women

in the married state to reverence and respect their husbands. Not that

husbands therefore should lord it over their wives, or require too much

respect at their hands. This would be unchristian, as well as ungenerous,

indeed. They ought rather, as God has taken such care to keep up their

authority, commanding their wives to reverence and respect them; they

ought, I say, to be doubly careful, that they live so holy and unblameable,

as to lay their wives under no temptation to despise them. But to return

from this digression. Does the apostle say, "Let the wife see that she

reverence her husband?" May I not pertinently apply this caution to you who

are married to Jesus Christ? See to it that you reverence and respect your

husband. I say, SEE TO IT. For the devil will be often suggesting to you

hard and mean thoughts against your husband. It was thus he beset our

mother Eve, even in a state of innocence. He would fain persuade her to

entertain hard thoughts of her glorious benefactor, "What, has God said, ye

shall not eat of the trees of the garden?" Has he been so cruel to put you

here in a beautiful garden only to vex and tease you? This he made use of

as an inlet to all his succeeding insinuations. And this trade he is still

pursuing, and will be pursuing to the very end of time. Besides, in the

eyes of the world, Jesus Christ has no form or comeliness that they should

desire him; and therefore, unless you "watch and pray," you will be led

into temptation, and not keep up such high thoughts of your blessed Jesus

as he justly deserves. In this you can never exceed. Women, perhaps may

sometimes think too highly of, and, through excess of love, idolize their

earthly comforts. But it is impossible for you to think too highly of your

heavenly husband, Jesus Christ.

Farther, what says the apostle in his epistle to the Ephesians?

Speaking of the marriage state, he says, "The wife is the glory of her

husband;" as though he had said, a Christian wife should so behave, and so

walk, as to be a credit to her husband. As Abigail was an honor to Nubal,

and by her sweet deportment made up, in some degree, for her husband's

churlishness. This is to be a help-meet indeed. Such a woman will be

praised in the gate; and her husband get glory, and meet with respect on

her account. And ought a woman to be the glory of her husband? How much

more ought you, that are the Lamb's bride, so to live, and so to walk, as

to bring glory, and gain respect, to the cause and interest of your husband

Jesus? This is what the apostle everywhere supposes, when he would draw a

parallel between a temporal and spiritual marriage. "The woman, is the

glory of her husband, even as the church is the glory of Christ." Agreeable

to this, he tells the Corinthians, "Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever

you do, do all to the glory of God;" and as he also speaks to the

Thessalonians, 1 Thess. 2:11-12, "As you know how we exhorted, and

comforted, and charged every one of you (as a father doth his children)

that you would walk worthy of God who hath called you to his kingdom, and

his glory." What an expression is here! "That you would walk worthy of

God." O! how ought this, and such like texts, to stir up your pure minds, O

believers, so to have your conversation in this world, that you may be what

the apostle says some particular persons were, even "the glory of Christ."

You are his glory; he rejoices over you with singing; and you should so

walk, that all who know and hear of you, may glorify Christ in you.

SUBJECTION, is another duty, that is enjoined married women, in the

word of God. They are to "be subject to their own husbands in every thing."

Every lawful thing: "For, the husband is the head of the wife, even as

Christ is the head of the church." And knowing how inapt some base minds

would be to submit to the husband's authority, he takes care to enforce

this duty of subjection by many cogent and powerful arguments." "For Adam

was first made, and not Eve. Neither was the man made for the woman, but

the woman for the man." And again, "The man was not first in the

transgression, but the woman." Upon which accounts, subjection was imposed

on her as part of her punishment. "Thy desire (says God) shall be to thy

husband, and he shall rule (though not tyrannize) over thee." So then, to

use the words of pious Mr. Henry, those who attempt to usurp authority over

their husbands, not only contradict a divine command, but thwart a divine

curse. And if women are to be subject to their own husbands in every thing,

how much more ought believers, whether men or women, to be subject to Jesus

Christ: for he is the head of the church. He has bought her by his blood.

Believers therefore are not their own, but are under the highest

obligations to glorify and obey Jesus Christ, in their bodies and their

souls, which are his. Add to this, that his service, as it is admirably

expressed in one of our collects, is perfect freedom. His commandments

holy, just, and good. And therefore it is your highest privilege, O

believers, to submit to, and obey them. Earthly husbands may be so mean as

to impose some things upon their wives, merely to show their authority; but

it is not so with Jesus Christ. He can and does impose nothing, but what

immediately conduces to our present, as well as future good. In doing, nay,

in suffering for Jesus Christ, there is a present unspeakable reward. And

therefore I may say to believers, as the blessed Virgin said to the

servants at the marriage in Cana, "Whatsoever he says unto you, do it."

"For his yoke is easy, and his burden is light." And I believe it might

easily be proved in a few minutes, that all the disorders which are now in

the world, whether in church or state, are owing to a want of being

universally, unanimously, cheerfully, and perseveringly conformed to the

laws and example of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Again, FAITHFULNESS in the marriage state, is strictly enjoined in the

scriptures of truth. "Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled.

But whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." Nay, adultery is an

iniquity to be punished by the earthly judges; it dissolves the marriage

relation. "For the man has not power over his own body, but the woman;

neither has the woman power over her own body, but the man." The heathens

themselves have been taught this by the light of nature; and adultery,

among some of them, is punished with immediate death. And ought married

persons to be thus careful to keep the marriage-bed undefiled, how

carefully then ought believers to keep their souls chaste, pure, and

undefiled, now they are espoused to Jesus Christ? For there is such a thing

as spiritual adultery; "O ye adulterers and adulteresses," saith St. James.

And God frequently complains of his people's playing the harlot. Hence it

is, that St. John, in the most endearing manner, exhorts believers to "keep

themselves from idols." For the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and

pride of life, are always ready to steal away our hearts from Jesus Christ.

And every time we place our affections upon any thing more than Christ, we

do undoubtedly commit spiritual adultery. For we admit a creature to rival

the Creator, who is God over all, blessed for evermore. "Little children,

therefore, keep yourselves from idols."

But it is time for me to draw towards the close of this head.

FRUITFULNESS was a blessing promised by God to the first happy pair;

"Increase and multiply, and replenish the earth." "Lo, children, and the

fruit of the womb, (says the Psalmist) are a gift and heritage, which

cometh of the Lord." And so, if we are married to Jesus Christ, we must be

fruitful. In what? In every good word and work: for this speaks the

Apostle, in his epistle to the Romans: "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are

become dead to the law, by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to

another, even to him who is raised from the dead." What follows? "That we

should bring forth fruit unto God." Glorious words, and proper to be

considered in a peculiar manner, by such who would explode the doctrine of

free justification, as an Antinomian doctrine, and as though it destroyed

good works. No; it establishes, and lays a solid foundation, whereon to

build the superstructure of good works. Titus is therefore commanded to

"exhort believers to be careful to maintain good works." And "herein (says

our Lord) is my Father glorified, that ye bring forth much fruit. Let your

light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify

your Father which is in heaven;" with a multitude of passages to the same


Moreover, it is required of wives, that they not only love and

reverence their husbands, but that they also love and respect their

HUSBAND'S FRIENDS. And if we are married to Jesus Christ, we shall not only

reverence the bridegroom, but we shall also love and honor the bridegroom's

friends. "By this, shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love

one another." "By this we know, (says the beloved disciple) that we have

passed from death to life because we love the brethren." Observe, the

brethren, indefinitely; of whatever denomination. And this love must be

"without dissimulation, and with a pure heart fervently." This was the case

of the primitive Christians. They were all of one heart, and of one mind.

It was said of them (O that it could be said of us!) "See how these

Christians love one another!" They were of the same spirit as a good woman

of Scotland was, who, when she saw a great multitude, as is customary in

the country, coming from various parts to receive the blessed sacrament,

saluted them with a "Come in, ye blessed of the Lord, I have an house that

will hold an hundred of you, and a heart that will hold ten thousand." Let

us go and do likewise.

Once more. Persons that are married, take one another FOR BETTER OR

FOR WORSE, for richer or for poorer, to love and to cherish each other in

sickness and in health. And if we are married to Jesus Christ, we shall be

willing to bear his CROSS, as well as to wear his CROWN. "If any man will

come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me."

Neither will they be compelled to do this, as Simon of Cyrene was, but they

will be volunteers in his service; they will cry out, Crown him, crown him

,when others are crying out, "Crucify him, crucify him." They will never

leave or forsake him, but willingly follow the Captain of their salvation,

though it be through a sea of blood.

I might run the parallel still further, and also enlarge upon the

hints already given; but I fear I have said enough already to reproach most

believers; I am sure I have said more than enough to abash and upbraid

myself. For alas! how vilely, treacherously, and ungratefully have we

behaved towards our spiritual husband, the dear Lord Jesus, ever since the

day of our espousals? Had our friends, or even the wives of our own bosoms,

behaved to us as we have behaved to our great and best friend, our glorious

husband, we should have broken off our friendship, and sued for a bill of

divorcement long ago. Under our first love, what promises did we make to

him? But how frowardly have we behaved ourselves in this covenant? How

little have we reverenced him? How often has our Beloved been no more to us

than another beloved? How little have we lived to his glory? Have we not

been a shame and reproach to his gospel? Have we not crucified him afresh,

and has he not been sorely wounded in the house of his friends? Nay, has

not his holy name been blasphemed through our means? For alas! how little

have we obeyed him? How careless and indifferent have we been, whether we

pleased him or not? We have often said, indeed, when commanded by him to go

work in his vineyard, We go, Lord; but alas! we went not. Or if we did go,

with what reluctance has it been? How unwilling to watch with our dear Lord

and Master, only one hour? And of his sabbaths, how often have we said,

What weariness is this? As for our adulteries, and spiritual fornications,

how frequent, how aggravated have they been? Have not idols of all sorts,

been suffered to fill up the room of the ever-blessed Jesus in our hearts?

You that love him in sincerity, will not be offended if I tell you, that

the 16th chapter of Ezekiel gives, in my opinion, a lively description of

our behavior towards our Lord. We were, like base-born children, cast out

in the field to the loathing of our persons: no eye pitied or had

compassion on us. Jesus passed by, saw us polluted in our own blood, and

said unto us, "Live," i.e. preserved us, even in our natural state, from

death. And when his time of love was come, he spread the skirt of his

imputed righteousness over us, and covered the nakedness of our souls,

entered into covenant with us, and we became his. He washed us also with

water, even in the laver of regeneration, and thoroughly washed us by his

precious blood, from the guild of all our sins. He clothed us also with

broidered work, and decked us with ornaments, even with righteousness, and

peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. We did eat fine flour and honey at his

ordinances, and we fed on Jesus Christ in our hearts by faith, with

thanksgiving. In short, we were made exceeding beautiful, and the kingdom

of God was erected in our hearts. We were renowned among our neighbors for

our love to God, and all that know us took knowledge of us, that we had

been with Jesus. But alas! how have we fallen, who were once sons of the

morning! How have we trusted in our own beauty, have grown spiritually

proud, and provoked our patient and unspeakably long-suffering Lord to

anger? Where is that ardent love we spoke of, when we told him, that,

though we should die for him, we would not deny him in any wise? How

desperately wicked, and deceitful above all things, have we proved our

hearts to be, since we have done all these things, even the work of an

imperious woman? These are great and numerous charges; but great and

numerous as they are, there is not a single believer here present, but, if

he knows his own heart, may plead guilty to some, or all of them. But this

is a tender point: I see you concerned: your tears, O believers, are a

proof of the anguish of your souls. And can any of us give any reason, why

Jesus Christ should not give us a bill of divorcement, and put us away? May

he not justly speak to us as he did to his adulteress Israel, in the

aforementioned 16th of Ezekiel, "Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the

Lord; I will judge thee as women that break wedlock, and shed blood, are

judged. I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy, because thou hast not

remembered the days of thy youth, but hast fretted me in all these things.

Behold, therefore, I also will recompense thy way upon thy head. I will

even deal with thee as thou hast done, who hast despised the oath, in

breaking the covenant, the marriage contract that was between us." This, I

am persuaded, you will confess to be the treatment which we all most justly

deserve. But be not overwhelmed with over-much sorrow: for though the Lord

our God is a jealous God, and will certainly visit our offenses with a rod,

and our backslidings with a spiritual scourge, yet his loving-kindness will

he not utterly take from us, nor suffer his truth to fail. Though we have

changed, yet he changeth not: He abideth faithful: his loving-kindness

abideth for evermore. Hark! how sweetly he speaks to his backsliding people

of old; "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help. I

will heal their backsliding, and love them freely." And in the verses

immediately following the words of the text, how comfortably does he

address his espoused people! "In a little wrath, I hid my face from thee

for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee,

saith the Lord thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me; for

as I have sworn, that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth;

so have I sworn, that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For

the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall

not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed,

saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee." O that this goodness may lead us

to repentance! O that this unparalleled, infinite, unchangeable love, may

constrain us to an universal, uniform, cheerful, unanimous, persevering

obedience to all the commands of God!

Brethren, my heart is enlarged towards you, and I could dwell a long

while upon the many great and precious invitations that are made to

backsliders, to return to their first love, and do their first works: but

it is high time for me, if, as was proposed,

III. I give to every one their proper portion; to speak to those poor

souls, who know nothing of this blessed Bridegroom of the church, and

consequently cannot say, "My Maker is my husband."

Ah! I pity you from my inmost soul; I could weep over, and for you,

though perhaps you will not weep for yourselves. But surely you would weep,

and howl too, did you know the miserable condition those are in, who are

not married to Jesus Christ. Will you give me leave (I think I speak it in

much love) to inform you, that if you are not married to Jesus Christ, you

are married to the law, the world, the flesh, and the devil, neither of

which can make you happy; but all, on the contrary, concur to make you

miserable. Hear ye not, ye that are married to the law, and seek to be

justified in the sight of God, partly, at least, if not wholly, by your own

works, what the law saith to those that are under it, as a covenant of

works? "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are

written in the book of the law, to do them." Every word breathes

threatening and slaughter to poor fallen creatures. Cursed, both here and

hereafter, be this man, and every one, naturally engendered of the

offspring of Adam, without exception, that continueth not, even to the very

end of life, in all things; not only in some, or many, but in all things,

that are written in the book of the law, to do them, in the utmost

perfection; for "he that offendeth in one point, is guilty of all." So

that, according to the tenor of the covenant of works, whosoever is guilty

of one wicked thought, word, or action, is under the curse of an angry sin-

avenging God. "For a many as are under the law, are under the curse." And

do you know what it is to be under the curse of God, and to have the wrath

of God abide upon you? If you did, I believe you would not be so unwilling

to be divorced from the law, and be espoused, as chaste virgins, to Jesus


And why are ye so wedded to the world? Did it ever prove faithful or

satisfactory to any of its votaries? Has not Solomon reckoned up the sum

total of worldly happiness? And what does it amount to? "Vanity, vanity,

saith the preacher, all is vanity," nay he adds, "and vexation of spirit."

And has not a greater than Solomon informed us, that a man's life, the

happiness of a man's life, doth not consist in the things which he

possesseth? Besides, "know ye not that the friendship of this world is

enmity with God; so that whosoever will be a friend to the world, (to the

corrupt customs and vices of it) is an enemy of God?" And what better

reasons can you give for being wedded to your lusts? Might not the poor

slaves in the galleys, as reasonably be wedded to their chains? For do not

your lusts fetter down your souls from God? Do they not lord it, and have

they not dominion over you? Do not they say, Come, and ye come; Go, and ye

go; Do this, and ye do it? And is not he or she that liveth in pleasure,

dead, whilst he liveth? And above all, how can ye bear the thoughts of

being wedded to the devil, as every natural man is: for thus speaks the

scripture, "He now ruleth in the children of disobedience." And how can ye

bear to be ruled by one, who is such a professed open enemy to the most

high and holy God? Who will make a drudge of you, whilst you live, and be

your companion in endless and extreme torment, after you are dead? For thus

will our Lord say to those on the left hand, "Depart from me, ye cursed,

into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." But,

IV. Will you permit me, O sinners, that I may draw towards a close of

this discourse, to propose a better match to your souls. This is a part of

the discourse which I long to come to, it being my heart's desire, and

earnest prayer to God, that your souls may be saved. "And now, O Lord God

Almighty, thou Father of mercies, and God of all consolations, thou God and

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hast promised to give thy Son the

heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his

possession, send me good speed this day. O Lord, send me now prosperity.

Behold, I stand here without the camp, bearing a little of thy dear Son's

sacred reproach! Hear me, O Lord, hear me, and according to thy word, let

thy dear, thine only begotten Son, see of the travail of his soul, and be

satisfied! O help me so to speak, that many may believe on, and cleave unto

thy blessed, thine holy child Jesus!

But who am I, that I should undertake to recommend the blessed Jesus

to others, who am myself altogether unworthy to take his sacred name into

my polluted lips? Indeed, my brethren, I do not count myself worthy of such

an honor; but since it has pleased him, in whom all fullness dwells, to

count me worthy, and put me into the ministry, the very stones would cry

out against me, did I not attempt, at least, to lisp out his praise, and

earnestly recommend the ever-blessed Jesus to the choice of all.

Thus Abraham's faithful servant behaved, when sent out to fetch a wife

for his master Isaac. He spake of the riches and honors, which God had

conferred on him; but what infinitely greater honors and riches, has the

God and Father of our Lord Jesus, conferred on his only Son, to whom I now

invite every Christless sinner! To you, therefore, I call, O ye sons of

men, assuring you, there is everything in Jesus that your hearts can

desire, or hunger and thirst after. Do people in disposing of themselves or

their children in marriage, generally covet to be matched with PERSONS OF

GREAT NAMES? Let this consideration serve as a motive to stir you up to

match with Jesus. For God the Father has given him a name above every name;

he has upon his vesture, and upon his thigh, a name written, "The King of

kings, and the Lord of lords;" and herein the text we are told, "The Lord

of Hosts is his name." Nor has he an empty title, but power equivalent; for

he is a prince, as well as savior. "All power is given unto him, both in

heaven and on earth;" "The God of the while earth, (says our text) he shall

be called." The government of men, of the church, and of devils, is put

upon his shoulders: "Thrones, principalities and powers, are made subject

unto him; by him kings reign, and princes decree justice; he setteth up

one, and putteth down another: and of his kingdom there shall be no end."

Will RICHES be an inducement unto you to come and match with Jesus? Why

then, I can tell you, the riches of Jesus are infinite: for unto me, who am

less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should

preach to poor sinners, the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ. I appeal

to you that are his saints, whether you have not found this true, by happy

experience; and though some of you, may have been acquainted with him

thirty, forty, fifty years ago, do you not find his riches are yet

unsearchable, and as much past finding out, as they were the very first

moment in which you gave him your hearts?

Would you match with a WISE HUSBAND? Haste then, sinners, come away to

Jesus: He is the fountain of wisdom, and makes all that come unto him, wise

unto salvation: "He is the wisdom of the Father: the Lord possessed him in

the beginning of his way, before his works of old. When he prepared the

heavens, he was there; when he appointed the foundations of the earth, then

was he with him, as one brought up with him; he was daily his delight,

rejoicing always before him." As he is wise, so is he HOLY; and therefore,

in the words of our text, he is stiled, "The Redeemer, the Holy One of

Israel:" and by the angel Gabriel, "That holy Thing." The apostles,

addressing God the Father, stile him his "holy child Jesus:" and the

spirits of just men made perfect, and the angels in heaven, cease not day

or night, saying, "Holy, holy, holy." Nor is his BEAUTY inferior to his

wisdom or holiness; the seraphs veil their faces, when they appear before

him: "He is the chiefest among ten thousand, nay, he is altogether lovely."

And, as he is altogether lovely, so is he altogether LOVING: his name and

his nature is Love. God, God in Christ is love: love in the abstract. And

in this has he manifested his love, in that, whilst we were yet sinners,

may open enemies, Jesus, in his own due time, died for the ungodly. He

loved us so as to give himself for us. O what manner of love is this! What

was Jacob's love to Rachel, in comparison of the love which Jesus bore to a

perishing world! He became a curse for us. For it is written, "Cursed is

every man that hangeth upon a tree." What Zipporah said to her husband

improperly, Jesus may say properly to his spouse the church, "A bloody wife

hast thou been to me, because of the crucifixion." For he has purchased her

with his own blood. And having once loved his people, he loves them unto

the end. His love, like himself, is from everlasting to everlasting. He

hates putting away: though we change, yet he changeth not: he abideth

faithful. When we are married here, there comes in that shocking clause, t

use the words of holy Mr. Boston, "Till death us doth part:" but death

itself shall not separate a true believer from the love of God, which is in

Christ Jesus his Lord: for he will never cease loving his Bride, till he

has loved her to heaven, and presented her before his Father, without spot

or wrinkle, or any such thing. Nay, his love will, as it were, but be

beginning, through the endless ages of eternity.

And now, Sirs, what say you? Shall I put that question to you, which

Rebecca's relations, upon a proposal of marriage, put to her? "Will ye go

with the man?" With the God-man, this infinitely great, this infinitely

powerful, this all-wise, all-holy, altogether lovely, ever-loving Jesus?

What objection have you to make against such a gracious offer? One would

imagine, you had not a single one; but it is to be feared, through the

prevalency of unbelief, and the corruption of your desperately wicked

deceitful hearts, you are ready to urge several. Methinks I hear some of

you say within yourselves, "We like the proposal, but alas! we are poor."

Are you so? If that be all, you may, notwithstanding, be welcome to Jesus:

"For has not God chosen the poor of this world, to make them rich in faith,

and heirs of his everlasting kingdom?" And what says that Savior, to whom I

am now inviting you? "Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for there is the

kingdom of heaven." And what says his Apostle concerning him? "Though he

was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty

might be made rich. But say you, "We are not only poor, but we are in debt;

we owe God ten thousand talents, and have nothing to pay;" but that need

not keep you back: for God the Father, from the Lord Jesus, his dearly

beloved Son, has received double for all believers sins: the blood of Jesus

cleanseth from them all. But you are blind, and miserable, and naked; to

whom then should you fly for succor, but to Jesus, who came to open the

eyes of the blind, to seek and save the miserable and lost, and clothe the

naked with his perfect and spotless righteousness. And now, what can hinder

your espousals with the dear and ever-blessed Lamb of God? I know but of

one thing, that dreadful sin of unbelief. But this is my comfort, Jesus

died for unbelief, as well as for other sins, and has promised to send down

the Holy Spirit to convince the world of this sin in particular: "If I go

not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go away, I will

send the Comforter, and he will convince the world of son." What sin? of

unbelief; "because they believe not on me." O that this promise may be so

fulfilled in your hearts, and Jesus may so become the author of divine

faith in your souls, that you may be able to send me the same message as a

good woman in Scotland, on her dying bed, sent me by a friend: "Tell him,

(says she) for his comfort, that at such a time he married me to the Lord

Jesus." This would be comfort indeed. Not that we can marry you to Christ:

No; the Holy Ghost must tie the marriage knot. But such honor have all

God's ministers; under him they espouse poor sinners to Jesus Christ. "I

have espoused you (says St. Paul) as a chaste virgin to Jesus Christ." O

that you may say, We will go with the man; then will I bow my head, as

Abraham's servant did, and go with joy and tell my Master, that he has not

left his poor servant destitute this day: then shall I rejoice in your

felicity. For I know, my Master will take you into the banqueting-house of

his ordinances, and his banner over you shall be love. That this may be the

happy case of you all, may the glorious God grant, for the sake of Jesus

his dearly beloved Son, the glorious bridegroom of his church, to whom,

with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, now and for

evermore. Amen, and Amen.