By Henry Law
"This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh." Genesis 2:23
Our Bible is a very Paradise of each sweet flower and each regaling fruit. But the believer sits down most gladly in those choice spots, which are thickly set with tokens of the Savior's tenderness. Surely happiness mounts up to heaven, when on Scripture's ground, and under the Spirit's light, the soul discerns that Jesus loves with an everlasting love. Reader! this humble tract will visit you in a favored hour, if it should lead you to drink deeply of such joy.
We cannot move far amid the pages of the Word, without hearing the silver voice--Give ear unto Me, that I may tell you of My love. For this purpose each tender image speaks by turn. Does a father love with strength of manly love? Jesus is the Everlasting Father. Is a mother gentle in her soft caressings? Jesus is more constant--"they may forget, yet will I not forget you." Is a brother generous in his affections? Jesus is the firstborn among many brethren. Is the sisterly union as the intertwining of hearts' fibers? The Church is "His sister, His spouse." Is a friend noble in his sympathies? We read, "Henceforth I call you not servants, but I have called you friends."
Will not these parallels suffice? No! not if another can be added. As all colors combine to form pure light--so all tints must join to form the full portrait of a loving Savior. There remains the full-blown endearment, when heart flows into heart in bridal-union--and will Jesus claim His people as His bride? It is so! This is the emblem, which is the Spirit's choice delight. It meets us in the garden of Eden. It walks by our side throughout the green pastures of the word. It only leaves us, when Revelation writes no more. "The Spirit and the Bride say Come." Echo replies to echo, "As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you." "I will betroth you unto Me forever; yes, I will betroth you unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies."
Following such holy guidance, let us now seek Jesus in that pure feeling, which innocently played in Adam's heart, before sin entered with unhallowing touch. The narrative is simple. "So the Lord God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep. He took one of Adam's ribs and closed up the place from which He had taken it. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib and brought her to Adam." But the mystery is deep. A greater than Adam and the first spouse are in this history of sinless union. Faith has been taught, and quickly learns, that the spiritual Bridegroom and the mystic bride are here! Earth's first espousals are but the shadow of heaven's far earlier love.
The second Adam sleeps a sleep--even the sleep of death; but not in Eden's innocent delights, but on the hard altar of His ignominious cross. His side is pierced. There flow thence the means to constitute the Church. There is blood to expiate every sin--and water to wash from every stain. The Father presents the bride to Adam. The same Father gives the favored bride to Christ. Adam receives her as portion of himself. Christ's word takes up the same welcome. They "are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones."
We are thus emboldened to draw with reverential pen some lines of likeness. Marriage can only be in kindred race. Here the bride is low in lowly origin. Her coarse material is clay. But Jesus dwells in heaven's bright palace, bright in all the brightness, glorious in all the glories of His own Deity. How can union be? He leaves His home. He veils His Almighty might. He seeks our cell. He scorns not our loathsome rags. He is born a child of man in Bethlehem. He lives the Son of Man in human nature.
O my soul! did your Lord thus stoop to make you His forever? He did. Infinite was the distance--but He came with lightning-speed on wings of love--and rested not, until He rested in your far-off abode. The bridegroom counts all efforts light to win the bride's regard. Can it be, that Jesus strives to gain unlovely souls? It is so! He lives, when we love. He scarcely seems to reign, until the heart presents her throne. Hence in the Scriptures He sends letter upon letter, each burning with the pure flame of tenderness. Hence He follows with the fond call--Turn! turn! Look unto me. Come unto Me. Return unto Me. Follow Me. Abide in Me. Hence He sends His faithful ministers--the friends of the Bridegroom--to plead His cause--to appeal in His behalf--to beseech in His name--to set forth His matchless charms--to show that His love is strong as death, and pure as the light, and boundless as eternity. That ministry is most true to Christ--most rich in everlasting fruits, which paints most vividly the mind of Christ.
But more than this. The Holy Spirit comes commissioned by the Father and the Son. He reveals the Lord in all the beauties of His person--all the wonders of His grace--all the glories of His work. He subdues all prejudice--turns the stream of opposing will--and kindles a blazing torch in the dark corners of the soul. Thus union is achieved. The faithful soul forgets her own people and her father's house. She casts out the former rivals, which bewitched her thoughts. She comes out and is separate from a once-fondled world. She leaves all, and cleaves to Christ.
In nuptial bonds the bride rejects the distinction of her former name. A new address attests that she is no more her own. It is just so in spiritual union. What! though the nature of Jesus proclaims essential Deity--that very nature is the Church's diadem. We are first told, that "The Lord our Righteousness" is His name. The same is her portion, for it is added, "The Lord our Righteousness" is her name too.
The bridegroom courts the closest communion. It is even so with Jesus. By His Word, and through His messengers, He allures His people to His side. He opens to them the purposes of His grace--the secrets of His kingdom. He encourages them to tell out their every need, and fear, and desire, and hope. He tenderly invites, "Let me see your countenance, let me hear your voice, for sweet is your voice, and your countenance is lovely."
Who can portray a bridegroom's sympathy? It is, however, but a drop compared to the full ocean of a Savior's care. "We have not a High Priest, who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities." "He who touches you, touches the very apple of His eye." "In all our affliction He is afflicted." No suffering member can be pained on earth, but the participating Head cries out in heaven, "Why are you persecuting Me?" Reader! you have often heard these truths. Do they touch a responsive chord within? If not, yours is not the bride-like spirit.
The bridegroom brings his dowry. And does not Christ enrich with gifts? Angels may marvel, dazzled by the Church's wealth. He holds back nothing from her. All His attributes are her grand inheritance. His wisdom is hers to guide. His power is hers to uphold. His love is as the sun to cheer. His faithfulness and truth are her shield and support. His Spirit is poured down in unfailing measure to teach, to solace, and to bless her. His righteousness is hers, to be her spotless robe. His heavens are hers, to be her home. His throne is hers, to be her seat. His glory is hers, to be her crown. His eternity is hers, that she may joy forever. Happy the soul, which responds--All this I steadfastly believe!
The bridegroom shrinks from no labors, which bring support and plenty to his beloved. Thus Jesus lives a life of watchful work. He rests not night and day. His outstretched hands are ever pleading, and ever pouring down supplies of grace. He purchased all Heaven's blessing, that His people may never lack. And as each need arises, He is all vigilance to see--all bounty to bestow. Earthly union often knows the pang of separation. Duty's stern voice may say--Depart. Necessity may force to lonely distance. But nothing in heaven, or earth, or hell, unlocks the arms which cling around a divine Bridegroom! At each moment He is nearer than the shadow to the side. Life is but leaning on His arm. Death is but sleeping on His breast. There is a never-failing bond in the sure world, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
In this cold world, affections cool. The day, which dawns in love, may close in hate. Tastes vary and cause variance. Discordant tempers make discordance. Far otherwise is the heavenly wedlock. It is ever true, "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit."
When Jesus calls in love, He changes by His spirit. He imparts a new nature, whose every pulse is unison with Himself. It is heaven's own harmony, when Christ is all. Here a house is often tears, because of godless offspring. Many a one has sighed, "O Absalom, my son, my son!" But from heavenly union nothing springs but heavenly seed. Believers are married to Christ, that they should bring forth fruit unto God. Apart from Him, the heart is the hotbed of evil. United to Him, it is the holy parent of each holy grace.
But at present the Church sees her Bridegroom only by the eye of faith. The veil of flesh impedes the meridian gaze. But yet a little while and the day of visible espousals will arrive. A startled universe will hear the shout, "Behold the Bridegroom comes." There will resound, "as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Hallelujah, for the Lord God omnipotent reigns. Let us be glad, and rejoice, and give honor to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready." Then shall He shine forth, "to be admired in His saints, and to be glorified in all those who believe." The bride "shall be brought unto the king in clothing of needlework; with gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought, they shall enter into the king's palace." The nuptial song shall be one ceaseless Hallelujah. Happy soul, which responds--All this I confidently expect!
Reader! is it your happy privilege to know that a union, which thus lives forever, cements your heart to Christ, and Christ to you? Remember, then, that this blessed relationship demands your faithfulness. The Lord is jealous of His people's love. You must not stray from Him for one single moment, or in one single thought. The caution is needful; for days are come, in which strangers are gone forth, professing to be the Bridegroom's friends. They even stand in pulpits, and give instruction in His name. By this sign you may know them. They exalt the bride rather than her Lord. They magnify His ordinances rather than Himself. They beguile her to admire herself, to lean on herself, to trust in herself, and to decorate herself in the mock robes of false humility and superstition. Take heed; the ground is slippery. It may seem pleasant to self-loving nature; but it slopes towards Antichrist!
It may be that some worldling reads this whose life is wedded to another lord. Would that such may turn and burst their fearful bonds! There is indeed the prince of this world. His promises are lies. His dowry is anguish. His embrace is death. His chamber is darkness. His bed is flames of fire. His marriage-wail is agony's wild shriek. Worldling, can you love this spouse?