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that the Lamb's wife should be both faithful and chaste.
When a marriage is about to be solemnized, it is customary for the bridegroom to make presents to the bride ; and these are of value in proportion to the circumstances of the parties. Some give valuable jewels. The heavenly bridegroom also gives of his treasures; and St. Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, makes mention of it: " Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.” If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him ?”
The earthly bridegroom makes presents for the outward adorning of the body; he gives something to assist his bride in making herself ready. But the heavenly Bridegroom gives more durable riches; and his object in giving is to adorn the inward man, which is renewed day by day. “ The king's daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold.” The greatest splendour that was ever exhibited in a bridal dress comes nothing near to the glory of the spiritual endowments of the soul. The chief beauty of the church is inward and spiritual; and this is wrought not by our own skill and effort, but by the influence of God the Holy Ghost. “ He giveth more grace: wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.”
By the Lamb's wife making herself ready, we are to understand growing in sanctification and holiness, in meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light; it has reference to the inherent graces of the Christian, rather than to that robe of righteousness with which every member of Christ's mystical body is clothed ; it is growing in grace, or in the graces of the Spirit ; it is forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto the things which are before ; it is pressing towards the mark; it is possessing the soul in patience; it is the activity of faith ; it is the sincerity of love proved and manifested; it is possessing the full-blown graces of meekness, kindness, humbleness of mind, bowels of mercies, longsuffering, love, forbearing one another and forgiving one another; it is having the heart and affections in heaven ; this is the preparation of the bride for the marriage of the Lamb; and God gives his Spirit to assist his people in cultivating these graces.
Now, in proportion to the degree of holiness and fitness for the marriage supper will be the joy of the bride. Fears and doubts are dissipated, and give place to joy and rejoicing, according as the preparation advances. As the day approaches, assurance increases ; hope and expectation are active, anticipating the fulfilment of the heavenly bridegroom's will : “ Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me ; for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”
Are we among those who have cause to rejoice ? Have we an evidence of having entered into the great mystical union with Christ? If these inquiries are fairly conducted, they will lead to the most salutary results. It is a folly to live all our lives in fear of death and judgment; to stand in jeopardy every hour, when it is not only possible, but even not difficult, to know whether we are in a state of nature or a state of grace. We know that the shadow follows the substance, that where there is not a body there cannot be a shadow; and do we not know that faith without works is dead ? that justifying faith is as surely accompanied by good works, as is the substance by the
shadow ? For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love." This being the fact, is it not easy for every individual to ascertain his true state ? Let us examine ourselves, and see if we be in the faith. Again, if in Jesus Christ, the Spirit witnesses with our spirits, evidences to our hearts that that good work is begun which shall be carried on, and finally completed in glory ; “ for ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Here, then, is another test whereby we may try ourselves :
« For if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness."
Do we honour him who gave himself for us? not merely by ascribing praise to him, but do we honour him by serving him ? Have we devoted ourselves, and our powers, and our substance, to advance his cause and promote his glory ? let us answer this to our consciences.
Ought we not to establish a scrutiny, whether or not we are preparing for the great marriage supper of the Lamb ? whether the work of sanctification is advancing progressively? Are we growing in meekness ? Let us examine the transactions of yesterday Are we humbling our pride, and silencing our passions ? Do we now never suffer unruly tempers to shew themselves ? Are we quelling, and driving out the strong man armed ? Do we take increasing delight in dwelling upon, and thinking over, the glories of the heavenly bridegroom ? Is it our chief pleasure, our very first delight, to seek him in secret ? pray to him to cheer us with the smiles of his countenance? If so, then his wife is making herself ready!
Some one may read this essay who has no evidence of having accepted the proposal of marriage exhibited in the gospel. Having no evidence of being a child of God is a sure evidence of being a child of the devil. No evidence, of course no hope, no reasonable hope; and what a state is this to be in—" having no hope, and without God in the world."
Sinner! can you sleep in this state to-night? Think of the consequences, should your soul be required of you this night; where will you be to-morrow ? not a guest at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
THE WOMAN OF CANAAN.
Our Lord assured his disciples that unto whom much was given much should be required ; and considering the many opportunities the disciples had of knowing their Master's will, being always present with him in all his public addresses, having opportunities of interrogating him in private, and soliciting an explanation of whatever was delivered in the assemblies of the Jews that they did not fully comprehend-considering these advantages, it was to be expected that the apostles would have been well acquainted with the doctrines that Jesus taught, that they would have been perfectly familiar with his mode of conveying instruction, and that their faith and confidence in his almighty power would have been unbounded. But was it so ? Far otherwise ; they had not only been taught by parables, not only been instructed by precepts which flowed from their Master's lips with more than human power, with irresistible and touching eloquence, but they had also been fed by miracle ; and that on one occasion they seemed also to have forgotten, for Jesus reproved them with—“ Why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread ? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember, the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many