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have had a Taste accommodated to thePa-SErmirlate of the Eater: so, the sacred Writings afford something suitable to the Taste of every Reader. The Historian, the Orator, the Critic, find each of them herein Matter for the Exercise of their respective Talents ; the carnal Manreadeth the Scriptures with a carnal Eye, and therefore only findeth in them a carnal Sense. The Moralist there discovers excellent Rules for the Conduct of the outward Life, but not having Eyes to see farther, he discerneth not the Wisdom of God in a Mystery; whilst the spiritual Man eateth of the hidden Manna, and searcheth out the deep Things of God, comparing spiritual Things with spiritual, for they are only spiritually discerned: To such a one the Scriptures are Meat indeed, and Drink indeed ; and whilst others are detained below, in that Faith of the Letter that killeth, he ascendeth into the Presence Chamber of the most High, by the Faith of the Spirit that giveth Life. To him the Psalm, from whence the Text is taken, is like Jacob's Ladder, which reached from Earth to Heaven, on which he ascends from the Representation of an earthly Marriage to the Contemplation of that blessed Union
s£^£ which subsists betwixt Christ, the King of Glory, and his Spouse the Church: And, indeed, unless we allow that these Things are an Allegory, neither the Psalm before us, nor the Song of Solomon, carry in them any further Profit, or Improvement, to us religious Reader, than a beautiful Ode or a dramatic Poem, in the Subjects of which we are no Ways concerned; nay, are rather apt to excite Ideas ill suiting with the Purity of a Christian Mind: But to the pure all Things are sure. That the spiritual Sense here mentioned does belong to these divine Writings stands confirmed by the Judgment of holy Men, in all Ages of the Church, who by such a Use and Application of them in their Expositions, Meditations, and Prayers, have made them subservient to the Purposes of an elevated Piety. But not to detain you any longer from the Text, I proceed to explain,
First, Who is meant by the King's
And First, By the King's Daughter is meant, the Church of Christ j by which we
are are not to understand any one particular out-SErm*Irward Church, according to the narrow and confined Notion of some concerning that Word, but the whole collective Body of holy Souls, under whateverDispensation they have lived, or however dispersed over the Face of the whole Earth. Of this Multitude, gathered out of all Nations and Languages, which no Man can number, is . composed that Church, which Christ so loved that he gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it, with the Washing of Water by the Word, that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having Spot or Wrinkle, or any such Thing, but that it mould be Holy and without Blemish. This is the heavenly Jerusalem^ whose Foundation is on the holy Hills, and whose Builder and Maker is God. Here are the Gates oiSion, which the Lord loveth more than all the Dwellings of Jacob.— Such excellent Things are spoken of thee, Thou City of God! We profess to believe in the Communion of Saints; now, this is the blessed Fellowship here spoken of, and is called the Bride, the Lamb's Wife. For the Saints in Heaven and the Saints on Earth constitute but one Family, and one Body,
SErm.ii.0f which Christ is not only the Political, but the influencing Head j they are Partakers of the fame Grace of divine Love, and will shortly partake together in the same Glory. Nay the Faithful, whilst on Earth, are said to be blessed with spiritual Blessings in heavenly Places in Christ, for by their Union with him their Right and Title to these cannot fail them, for if Christ is theirs, in Him they have all Things; and Nothing but this thin Partition of Mortality, hinders the Saints militant from joyning Society with their fellow Members, the Saints triumphant, who now wait in joyful Expectation of that Time, when God shall accomplish the Number of his Elect, and hasten his Kingdom; and when all the angelic Host shall celebrate the happy Day, saying, Let us be glad and rejoyce, and give Honour to God, for the Marriage of the Lamb is come, and his Wife hath made herself ready.
It was to bring about this mystical Marriage, that the Son of God condescended to take our Nature upon him; for it is not possible there should be an Union betwixt Persons or Things that subsist not in one common Nature. Now in Order to Man's
SalSalvation, the Image of God must be re-f^*^; placed in his Soul, he must again be made Partaker of that divine Nature from which he had fallen. But Man was no more capable of effecting this of himself, than of plucking the Stars from the Firmament ., and therefore it must needs be that Jesus Christ communicate himself, in our Nature, to all that will receive him, that they may have Power to become the Sons of God, otherwise there could be no Redemption for them. This the holy Angels knew full well, and therefore in Testimony of their friendly Joy, for Peace restored on Earth, and such an amazing Manifestation of Good-will towards Men, fang Praises to the eternal King at the Birth of the incarnate God.
This Conjunction of the divine and human Natures in the Person of our Lord, for the Salvation of Mankind, is represented to us in the Gospel under the Parable of a Marriage, which a certain King made for his Son, and all to whom the Gospel is preached do receive a particular Invitation to the Marriage Feast. You, my Brethren, have often been called to share in the Blessedness of this sacred Solemnity, and I do at this time repeat the Invitation, in my Master's