There is a great marriage spoken of, Eph. v. that hath a great mystery in it, which the apostle propoundeth as the sample and archetype of all marriages or rather as the substance, of which all conjunctions and relations among the creatures are but the shadows. It is that marriage between Christ and his church, for which, it would appear, this world was builded, to be a palace to celebrate it into; and especially the upper house, heaven, was made glorious for that great day, where it shall be solemnized. The first in order of time was made by God himself in paradise, certainly to represent a higher mystery, the marriage of the second Adam with his spouse, which is taken out of his bloody side, as the apostle imports, Eph. v. Now there is the greatest inequality and disproportion between the parties, Christ and sinners; so that it would seem a desperate matter to bring two such distant and unequal natures to such a near union, as may cast a copy to all unions and relations of the creatures. But he who at first made a kind of marriage between heaven and earth, in the composure of man, and joined together an immortal spirit in such a bond of amity with corruptible dust, hath found out the way to help this, and make it feasible. And truly, we may conceive the Lord was but making way for this greater mystery of the union of Christ with us, when he joined the breath of heaven with the dust of the earth. In this he gave some representation of another more mysterious conjunction. Now, the way that the wisdom and love of God hath found out to bring about this marriage, is this: because there was such an infinite distance between the only begotten Son of God, who is the express character of his image, and the brightness of his glory, and us sinful mortal creatures, whose foundation is in the dust, therefore it pleased the Father, out of his good will to the match, to send his Son down among men; and the Son, out of his love, to take on our flesh, and so fill up that distance with his low condescendence, to be partaker of flesh and blood with the children. And now, what the Lord spoke of man fallen, in a holy kind of irony or mock, "Behold he is become as one of us" that men may truly say of the Son of God, not fallen down from heaven, but come down willingly, "Lo, he is become as one of us;" like us in all things, except sin, which hath made us unlike ourselves. This bond of union you have in verse 3. Christ so infinitely above sinners, and higher than the heavens, coming down so low, to be as like sinners as might be, or could be profitable for us, in the likeness of sinful flesh, &c. But yet this bond is not near enough; that conjunction seemeth but general and infirm; both because it is in some manner common to all mankind who shall not be all advanced to this privilege. By taking on our nature, he cometh nearer to human nature, but not to some beyond others; and besides, the distance is not filled up this way, because there is a great disproportion between that nature in Christ and in us. In him it is holy and undefiled, and separated from sin; but in us it is unclean and immersed into sin; so that, albeit he be nearer us as a man, yet he is far distant and unlike us, -- a holy perfect man. Now, what fellowship can be between light and darkness, as Paul speaketh of the marriage of Christians with idolaters? Much greater distance and disagreement is between Christ and us. Therefore, it seemeth, that some of us must be changed and transformed. But him it may not be. He cannot become liker us than by partaking of our flesh; for if he had become a sinner indeed, he would have become so like us that he could not help himself nor us either. This would eclipse the glory and happiness of the marriage. But in that he came as near as could be, without disabling himself, to make us happy; and so he was contented to come in the place of sinners, and take on their debt, and answer to God's justice for it; yea, and in his own person he submitted to be tempted to sin, though it had been evil for us he had been overcome by it; yet this brings him a step lower and nearer us, and maketh the union more hopeful. But since he can come no lower, and can be made no liker us in the case we are in, then certainly -- if the match hold -- we must become liker him, and raised up out of our miserable estate, to some suitableness to his holy nature. And, therefore, the love and wisdom of God, to fill up the distance completely, and effectuate this happy conjunction, that the creation seemeth to groan for, -- for (ver.22) the whole creation is pained till it be accomplished, -- he hath sent his blessed Spirit to dwell in us, and to transform our natures, and make them partakers of the divine nature, (2 Pet. i.4) as Christ was partaker of human nature; and thus the distance shall be removed. When a blessed Spirit is made flesh, and a fleshly man made spirit, then they are near the day of espousals; and this indwelling of the Spirit is the last link of the chain that fastens us to Christ, and maketh our flesh in some measure like his holy flesh. By taking on our flesh, Christ became bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh; but the union becometh mutual when we receive the Spirit, we become bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, as it is expressed, Eph. v.30, in allusion to the creation of Eve, and her marriage to Adam. The ground of the marriage is that near bond of union, -- "Because she was taken out of man," and, therefore, because of his flesh and bone, she was made one flesh with him. Even so the sinner must be partaker of the Spirit of Christ, as Christ is partaker of the flesh of sinners, and these two concurring, these two knots interchanging and woven through other, we become one flesh with him. And this is a great mystery, indeed, to bring two who were so far asunder, so near other. Yea, it is nearer than that too, for we are said not only to be one flesh with Christ, but one spirit, 1 Cor. vi.17. "He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit," because he is animated and quickened by one spirit, -- that same spirit of Christ. And, indeed, spirits are more capable of union, and more fit to embosom one with another than bodies, therefore, the nearest union conceivable is the union of spirits by affections, this maketh two souls one, for it transports their spirit out of the body where it lives, and settleth it there where it loveth.
Now, my beloved, you see what way this great marriage, that heaven and earth are in a longing expectation after shall be brought about. Christ did forsake his Fathers house when he left that holy habitation, his Fathers bosom, -- a place of marvellous delight, (Prov. viii.30) and descended into the lower parts of the earth (Eph. iv.9) and, he came out from the Father into the world, John xvi.28. This was a great journey to meet with poor sinners. But that there may be a full and entire meeting you must leave and forsake your fathers house too, and forget your own people, Psalm xlv.10. You must give an entire renounce to all former lovers if you would be his. All former bonds and engagements must be broken, that this may be tied the faster. And, to hold to the subject in hand, you must forsake and forget the flesh, and be possessed of his Holy Spirit. As he came down to our flesh, you must rise up to meet him in the spirit. The Spirit of Christ must indeed prevent you, and take you out of that natural posture you are born into, and bring you a great journey from yourselves, that you may be joined unto him.
This Spirit of Christ is his messenger and ambassador, sent beforehand to fit you and suit you for the day of espousals, and, therefore, he must have a dwelling and constant abode in you. This indwelling imports a special familiar operation, and the perpetuity or continuance of it. The Spirit is everywhere in his being, and he worketh everywhere too, but here he hath a special and peculiar work in commission -- to reveal the love of God in Christ, to engage the soul to love him again, to prepare all within for the great day of espousals, to purify and purge the heart from all that is displeasing to Christ, to correspond between Christ and his spouse, between heaven and earth by making intercession for her when she cannot pray for herself as you find here, ver.26, and so sending up the news of the soul's panting and breathing after Christ, sending up her groans and sighs to her Beloved, giving intelligence of all her necessities to him who is above, in the place of an advocate and interceder, and then bring back from heaven light and life, direction from her Head -- for the Spirit must lead into all truth -- and consolation, for Christ hath appointed the Spirit to supply his absence, and to comfort the soul in the mean time till he come again. You have this mutual and reciprocal knot in 1 John iv.13, "Hereby we know that we dwell in him, and he in us, by the Spirit that he hath given." It is much nearness to dwell one with another, but much greater to dwell one in another. And it is reciprocal, such a wonderful interchange in it, we in him, and he in us, for the Spirit carries the soul to heaven, and brings Christ, as it were down to the earth. He is the messenger that carries letters between both -- our prayers to him, and his prayers for us and love tokens to us, the anointing that teacheth us all things, from our Husband, (1 John ii.27,) and revealing to us the things of God, (1 Cor. ii.12.) giving us the first fruits of that happy and glorious communion we must have with Christ in heaven as you see, verse 23 of this chapter, and sealing us to the day of redemption, 1 Pet. i.13, and iv.30, supplying us with divine power against our spiritual enemies, fetching along from heaven that strength whereby our Lord and Saviour overcame all, Eph. ii.16, Gal v.17. This is a presence that few have, such a familiar and love-abode. But, certainly, all that are Christ's must have it in some measure. Now whosoever hath it, it is perpetual, the Spirit dwells in them. It is not a sojourning for a season, not a lodging for a night, -- as some have fits and starts of seeking God, and some transient motions of conviction or joy, but return again to the puddle, these go through them as lightning, and do not warm them or change them but this is a constant residence; where the Spirit takes up house he will dwell, "he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you," and abide for ever, John xiv.16, 17. If the Son abide in the house for ever, (John viii.35) much more the master of the house must abide. Now, the Spirit where he dwells hath gotten the command of that house, all the power is put in his hand and resigned to him, for where he dwells he must rule, as good reason is. He is about the greatest work that is now to do in the world, the repairing and renewing of the ruins and breaches of man's spirit, which was the first breach in the creation, and the cause of all the rest. He is about the cleansing and washing this temple, and we may be persuaded, that he who hath begun this good work, will perform it until the day of Christ, till we be presented blameless and without spot to our Husband (Phil. i.5, 6), and this is the grand consolation of believers that they have this presence assured to them by promise, that the Spirit is fixed here by an irrevocable and unchangeable covenant or donation, and will not wholly depart from them, though he may withdraw and leave you comfortless for a season, Isa. lix.21.
Therefore I would shut up all in a word of exhortation to you, that since we have the promise of so noble and happy a guest, you would apply yourselves to seek him, and then keep him, to receive him and then retain him. It is true that he must first prevent us, for as no man can say, "that Jesus is the Christ, but by the Spirit of God," so no man can indeed pray for the Spirit, but by the Spirit's own intercession within him. Where God hath bestowed any thing of this Spirit, it is known by the kindly and fervent desires after more of it. Now, since we have such a large and ample promise (Ezek. xxxvi.27, Joel ii.28) of the pouring out of the Spirit, and that in as absolute and free a manner as can be imagined, and this renewed by Christ, and confirmed by his prayer to the Father for the performance of it, (John xiv.16, 17) and then we have a sweet and affectionate promise propounded in the most moving and loving manner than can be, Luke xi.13, where he encourageth us to pray for the Spirit and that from this ground, that our heavenly Father, who placed that natural affection in other fathers toward their children, whereby they cannot refuse them bread when they cry for it, he, who was the author of all natural affection, must certainly transcend them infinitely in his love to his children, as the Psalmist argues, "Shall not he that planted the ear, hear? and he that formed the eye, see?" So may a poor soul reason itself to some confidence, shall not he who is the fountain of all natural love to men and beasts have much more himself? And if my father will not give me a stone when I seek bread, certainly he will far less do it, therefore, "if we being evil, know how to give good things to our children, how much more shall our heavenly Father give his Spirit to them that ask him?" Alas that we should want such a gift for not asking it! My beloved, let us enlarge our desires for this Spirit, and seek more earnestly, and no doubt affection and importunity will not be sent away empty. Is it any wonder we receive not, because we ask not, or we ask so coldly, that we teach him in a manner to deny us, qui timide rogat, I may say, frigide, docet negare. Ask frequently, and ask confidently, and his heart cannot deny. O that we could lay this engagement on our own hearts to be more in prayer! Let us press ourselves to this and we need not press him. Albeit the first grace be wholly a surprisal, yet certainly he keeps this suitable method in the enlargements of grace, that when he gives more, he enlargeth the heart more after it, he openeth the mouth wider to ask and receive, and, according to that capacity, so is his hand open to fill the heart. O, why are our hearts shut when his hand is open! Again, I would exhort you in Jesus Christ, to entertain the Spirit suitably, and this shall keep him. To this purpose are these exhortations "Grieve not the Holy Spirit," Eph. iv.30, and "Quench not the Spirit," 1 Thess. v.19. There is nothing can grieve him but sin, and if you entertain that, you cannot retain him. He is a Spirit of holiness and he is about the making you holy, then do not mar him in his work, labour to advance this and ye do him a pleasure. If you make his holy temple an unclean cage for hateful birds, or a temple for idols, how can it but grieve him? And if you grieve the Spirit, certainly the Spirit will grieve you, will make you repent it at the heart. Please him, by hearkening to his motions, and following his direction, and he shall comfort you. His office is to be a spring of consolation to you, but if you grieve him by walking in the imagination of your hearts, and following the suggestions of the flesh, -- his enemy, -- no doubt that spring will turn its channel another way, and dry up for a season toward you. It is not every sin or infirmity that grieves him thus, if so be that it grieve thee; but the entertaining of any sin, and making peace with any of his enemies, that cannot but displease him: and, O what loss you have by it! You displease your greatest friend, to please your greatest enemy, you blot and bludder(195) that seal of the Spirit, that you shall not be able to read it, till it be cleansed and washed again. Now, "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his," he is not a Christian. Take this along with you, who aim at nothing but the external and outward show or visible standing in the church. If you have not this Spirit, and the seal of this Spirit, found on you, Christ will not know you for his in that day of his appearing.