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us odious to God, and kept us under the power of the world. This love hath suffered on purpose to redeem us from all
3. The care and tenderness which the Lord Jesus Christ continues to manifest towards us, now he is in heaven, while we are upon the earth, is another fruit of this love; v. 2. This high priest knows how to have compassion on the ignorant, and them that are out the of way.' Chap. iv. 15. 'He hath been touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and in all points tempted like as we;' and he lives for ever to make intercession for us.' In these things he expresses his love to, and care for, his people.
On the other side, I say, the love of believers to Christ is inexpressible, or beyond all other love whatsoever.
1. In a way of value, Matt. xiii. 45. When the merchantman had found the precious pearl, he sells all he hath to buy it. Believers will part with all they have, to obtain Christ; for they prefer him above all. What will they not part with, and what do they not part with, and deny for Christ? whereby you may see it is a love that is transcendent to all other loves.
(1.) They part with their sin, lust, and corruption. There is not a believer in the world, but hath naturally as great a love of, and adherence to, sin, lust, and corruption, as the highest debauched person upon the face of the earth. But a believer will part with them all, subdue them all, so that he might win Christ, which manifests it to be a transcendent love; and they that will not do this, are not believers. If our hearts are not engaged to the mortifying of all sin, lust, and corruption, as he enables us, we are not married to Christ, for they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts;' Gal. v. 24.
(2.) They will part with their righteousness for Christ. This was that the Jews would not give up, that they might obtain justification. They had a righteousness which was according to the law; and, saith the apostle, Rom. x. 3. 'They will not submit to the righteousness of God, but go about to establish their own righteousness.' All the righteousness which is in the world, that the men of the world value before Christ, while they are engaged in their lusts and pleasures, they will not part with it for Christ. Yea, even
when they are wrought off their lusts and pleasures by conviction to some duties, yet they will not part with their own righteousness for Christ. But believers will part with theirs, and count it all as loss and dung.
If corruption be subdued, and righteousness be given up, what remains? Truly,
(3.) Self remains. If a man denies not himself in lawful things, in any thing that will hinder his walking with God, and living unto God, which will make him unfaithful in his place, or unfruitful to please God, he is not worthy of him. If he cannot deny his ease, liberty, peace, profit, or pleasure, he is not worthy of Jesus Christ. Now that love, which will carry a man out to deny all ungodliness and lust, to renounce all his own righteousness, to lose all he hath wrought in his own strength, to deny himself upon every instance wherein Christ requires him; this is a transcendent love, above all other love whatsoever.
2. The love of believers manifests itself also in suffering for Christ; and O who can tell what the martyrs endured from love to the Lord Jesus?
So that this psalm which treats of the espousals of Christ, and believers, may well have this title, 'A Song of loves;' it being the most excellent love.
Two things from hence are incumbent upon us.
First, to labour to get a sense of this love of Christ upon our hearts. If we are believers, all this love of Christ, who is King of kings, and Lord of lords,' is fixed upon every one of our souls; and it is our great duty to labour to let in a sense of this love of Christ into them. Out of his abundant love and grace, and for no other reason in the world, he loved us when we were strangers, he reconciled us to himself when we were enemies, and engaged in enmity against him; give him then the glory of his sovereign grace, with respect to your own souls. And,
Secondly, Let us examine ourselves whether we have this transcendent love to Jesus Christ in our hearts. If we have, it will continually keep us up to the mortification of lust and corruption, to the renouncing of all self-righteousness, to the denying ourselves; and it will make us continually ready for all the service and suffering Christ shall call us unto.
My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever. Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty.—Psal. xlv. 1—3.
THIS psalm hath three parts, the title of it is, 'A Song of loves;' which I have already spoken unto. The preface of it in the first verse. And the song itself from the second verse to the end.
The first verse contains a preface to this song of loves. 'My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the of a ready writer.'
I shall offer a few things from these words.
Observe in general, that he that lays a good foundation, makes a good beginning of what he hath to say. It is from his heart; 'My heart,' saith he, 'is inditing.' If things do not begin at the heart, whatsoever we do about spiritual things, they are of no value, of no use. We may perform duties, we may pray and preach, and hear; but if these things do not spring from the heart, that is, from faith, and love, and delight working in the heart, all is lost. A sacrifice without a heart, a silly dove that has no heart, are things God abhors; Hos. vii. 11.
The heart of the psalmist was in this matter; and if our heart be in it, it will be a duty, in our measure and proportion, good and acceptable with God, as it was with him.
There are in the verse two things. I. The subject matter treated of in this song of loves. II. The manner of expressing it.
I. The subject treated of. 1. In general, that it is a good matter. It is not a song about vain empty things; much less about wicked and sinful things, as the songs of the world are; neither is it only about things that are true, but
This sermon was preached at Stadham, June 7, 1674.
have no goodness in them; but, saith he, my heart is inditing a good matter.
2. What this good matter is, is declared, 'I speak of the things which I have made touching the king.' The subject, saith he, of this song of mine, is the king; it is no ordinary person. It was the name whereby they called the Messiah, 'Christ the Lord,' under the Old Testament, who is indeed 'the Lord of lords, and King of kings.' 'I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion;' Psal. ii. 6. He was principally prophesied of as a prince, a ruler, a captain, being to deliver the people of God. He is the subject of the song. And it is limited to things touching or concerning him; as if he had said, it is not for me, it is not for any mortal man to conceive or express all the glories and excellencies of the great King, Jesus Christ; but, saith he, something touching, something concerning him.
The best we can reach or attain unto in this world, is only something touching Christ. We cannot yet behold the King in his glory, we cannot see his uncreated excellencies or beauties, nor those unspeakable glories of his person, natures, and works, as we shall one day contemplate and behold.
'I speak,' saith he, 'of the things I have made;' that is, which I have prepared; I will mention only the things which I have composed concerning Christ.
So that the subject of this song, is in general, a good matter; in particular, things touching Christ, and such things as the psalmist, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, had composed.
II. There is the manner of their delivery, both as to their conception, and as to outward expression; their conception, it was in his heart; as to the outward delivery, it was by his tongue. And there is a peculiarity in both. It is not an ordinary conception of the heart, it is not a common expression of the tongue. If you will look into the margin of your bibles, you will find, that what we have rendered here, inditing,' in the original, signifies boiling' or 'bubbling up.' The word refers to the bubbling up of water in a fountain or spring. The heart of the psalmist was so full of these things of Christ, things touching the King, that they did naturally overflow, as water rising out of a spring na
turally flows into the stream, without any labour or difficulty. It was no hard thing to him to speak of things of Christ, his heart was full of them. O, that it was thus with us! It is promised, it shall be so, in John iv. 14. Christ hath promised to give his people his Spirit, that shall be as a well of water in them, springing up to everlasting life.
My tongue, saith he, shall not only express it, but in a peculiar manner, my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.'
A ready writer, one speedy, steady, able to set down any thought, or conception whatsoever. When we deal about the things of Christ, there is a peculiar manner required both in the conception of the heart, and in the expression of the tongue.
Thus I have given you the sense of the words; and I shall now name some observations from them.
First, That the things which concern Jesus Christ, are a good matter to believers. They are not only true, so as the mind may assent unto them, and never be deceived; but they have that in them which is the object of the soul's delight and valuation, and which the soul of a believer cleaves unto. The truth of it is, here lies the great difference between sincere believers, and mere hypocrites. Hypocrites assent unto the doctrine of the gospel, things touching the King, as true, but they never embrace them as good; their hearts and affections do not cleave unto them, as finding a real sweetness, excellency, and suitableness unto their wants in them; for no man esteems that to be good, which is not suitable unto him.
Jesus Christ, and the things of Christ, are a good matter unto believers; for,
1. They are very excellent in themselves. Col. i. 18. 'He hath in all things the pre-eminence.' Whatsoever is good in any kind, it all centres in Christ. And what is in him is better than that which was in the state of nature; better than what was in the law; better than what is in selfrighteousness; better than life itself: so that from their own nature, they are good things. Give me leave to say, they are good things, because they are God's best things. As to temporal good things, take a king, or a potentate, his best things are peculiar treasures, gold and silver, and precious stones but the things which concern Christ, are the best