|Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings|
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by Thomas Shepard
Consider what he will do for thee, how he will love thee, if thou wilt thus love him.
1. He will set thee next himself in honor, (Ps. 45:9;) that as the Lord Jesus is next to God, sits at his right hand, so here, which is an honor that the angels have not, who are nowhere called Christ's spouse; hence never had such a union, hence never shall partake of that honor of saints.
2. He will enrich thee. As it is with man and wife, all that he has is hers; so himself and all his glory, his God, his Father, his kingdom is thine. Prov. 8:21, they that love me inherit something; others nothing; no, nothing indeed, only shows of good; and they find it so when they awake, nothing their own, nothing long; that let thy outward man, yea, thy inward, be never so poor, thou shalt by him be heir of all.
3. He will counsel thee. Hence David (Ps. 73) made choice of God: "Thou wilt guide me by thy counsel." No greater curse than to be left to the guidance of a man's own counsel; but here there shall not be any strait, but the Lord will show thee a way out of it, either by his prudence or providence. There shall not be any secret of Christ that thou desirest to know, but, as Christ told them, "You are my friends," so you are my spouse; hence all his secrets shall be opened to thee; there shall not be one act of thy life but ordered by infinite prudence, and wisdom, and love. Sometimes we are befooled in our own counsels, and left to them to teach us to depend on the Lord the more; yet thereby shall come out such good that it shall be among us as with Joseph's brethren.
4. He will dwell with thee as a man must dwell with his wife, (John 14:23;) that the great Mediator, that passes by kings and princes, and will not look on them, should come and dwell with thee. This is better than to have the presence of kings, the guard of angels, better than heaven itself, that he should dwell where is nothing worthy to entertain him, only something to grieve him. Now this is,
1. A constant assistance of the Spirit; that, let the soul go where he will, be brought to never so low an ebb, yet Christ will not out, but some stirrings, sighings, lookings, pantings after Christ; when heart and strength fail, yet God, etc.; when ready to give all for lost, then consider, as Ps. 83:2. If he does depart, he will not be long, but return again; and those that know his affection know it so to be. Is. 54 "For a little moment," etc. So the Lord may depart; and, when his presence
is a little more esteemed, come again with everlasting mercies. As a man may know many weaknesses by his wife, yet she having not bestowed her heart on any other, he will return; so if thou canst say yet I am the Lord's, he will return.
5. He will rejoice in thee and over thee, (Zeph. 3:17,) as a bridegroom does over the bride. Not because of any beauty in thee, for there is none, but because given in marriage of the Father, and for his own sake. This day thou shalt no sooner set thy heart on Christ but he falls in love with thee, and will take thee with joy; thou thinkest he will be angry if thou closest with him and love him; no, it will be the joy of heaven, of Jesus Christ himself.
6. He will exceedingly comfort thee; and look as it is with tender husbands, then they comfort most when most sorrows betide them; for who could endure his wife should be always drooping? So even then when nothing doth or can comfort thee, the Lord will. Is. 54:6. For the Lord doth not always comfort; but when in need, as with the patriarchs, then God appeared, when they were at worst; and these are abundant comforts. 2 Cor. 1:3,4,5. You shall not need to scramble for it, as many do, whose hearts do not love Christ in truth as yet.
7. He will put up all wrongs, and bear exceedingly with thee. Many think, even when God hath sealed love to them, if any little sin be committed, then they are cast off; no, if under the law, so indeed, but when espoused to him, it is not weaknesses nor willfulness can make the Lord cast thee away; but he will heal the one, and afflict thee (yet not cast thee off) for the other; (Ps. 89:33,) "My loving-kindness will I never take away." Yea, he will forgive both; (Luke 7:47,) "Much forgiven because she loved much." Nay, thy wrongs shall be an occasion to make him love thee more; (Rom. 5) "Where sin abounds, grace abounds."
8. He will never part with thee. Hos. 2:19. Once love him, and he will never lose thee.
1. No sin shall part thee and him; for Christ, when he enters into marriage covenant, does not suspend his love on our grace or holiness, then he might leave quickly, but on his own grace to wash away our filthiness. Eph. 5:25, 26. If a husband marries a woman only for so long as she is in health, then when sickness comes he may depart; but e contra, if to take away her sicknesses, then they can not hinder; nothing but adultery can part. Now, that they can not do, for nothing breaks till covenant is broken; and the covenant here is everlasting, and so undertaken for by the Lord that it can never be broken.
2. No miseries can, (Rom. 8:35,36,37;) "Can tribulation?" It makes man leave us; but this is peculiar to Christ he will not leave.
3. Death can not. It must part man and wife, though loved never
so dearly before, but here not; but then he will come himself
and fetch thee, (John 14:1,2,3,) take thy soul to the bride chamber,
there to be with him forever and ever; and he will keep the dust
of thy blessed body, and not lose one dust of it, and at the last
day raise it; and then, when others shall cry out, yonder is he
whom I have grieved, then shalt thou lift up thy head; yonder
comes my husband, to comfort me, to crown me, that I may dwell
with him. It shall be the blessed day to thee. And when judgment
is done, thou shalt go with thy beloved from the air up to heaven
with a shout, and live in his love and dearest embracing of thee;
and this he will do for thee, so poor and vile in thine own eyes.
Now, will you have him, and that now, or no?
Index to Thomas Shepard
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