The Fruits of the Believer’s Marriage with Christ, particularly gospel-holiness and obedience to the Law as a rule.
The sweet Solemnity of the Marriage now over, and the sad effects of the remains of a Legal Spirit.
The match is made, with little din ’tis done,
But with great pow’r, unequal prizes won.
The Lamb has fairly won his worthless bride;
She her great Lord, and all his store beside.
He made the poorest bargain, though most wise;
And she, the fool, has won the worthy prize.
Deep floods of everlasting love and grace,
That under ground ran an eternal space,
Now rise aloft ‘bove banks of sin and hell,
And o’er the tops of massy mountains swell.
In streams of blood are tow’rs of guilt o’erflown,
Down with the rapid purple current thrown.
The bride now as her all can Jesus own,
And prostrate at his footstool cast her crown,
Disclaiming all her former groundless hope,
While in the dark her soul did weary grope.
Down tumble all the hills of self-conceit,
In him alone she sees herself complete;
Does his fair person with fond arms embrace,
And all her hopes on his full merit place;
Discard her former mate, and henceforth draw
No hope, no expectation from the law.
Though thus her new-created nature soars,
And lives aloft on Jesus’ heav’nly stores;
Yet, apt to stray, her old adult’rous heart
Oft takes her old renounced husband’s part:
A legal cov’nant is so deep ingrain’d,
Upon the human nature laps’d and stain’d,
That, till her spirit mount the purest clime,
She’s never totally divorc’d in time.
Hid in her corrupt part’s proud bosom, lurks
Some hope of life still, by the law of works.
Hence flow the following evils more or less
Preferring oft her partial holy dress,
Before her husband’s perfect righteousness.
Hence joying more in grace already giv’n
Than in her head and stock that’s all in heav’n.
Hence grieving more the want of frames and grace,
Than of himself, the spring of all solace,
Hence guilt her soul imprisons, lust prevail,
While to the law her rents insolvent fail,
And yet her faithless heart rejects her husband’s bail.
Hence soul disorders rise, and racking fears,
While doubtful of his clearing past arrears;
Vain dreaming, since her own obedience fails,
His likewise little for her help avails.
Hence duties are a task, while all in view
Is heavy yokes of laws, or old or new:
Whereas, were once her legal bias broke,
She’d find her Lord’s commands an easy yoke.
No galling precepts on her neck he lays,
Nor any debt demands, save what he pays
By promis’d aid; but, lo! the grievous law,
Demanding brick, won’t aid her with a straw.
Hence also fretful, grudging, discontent,
Crav’d by the law, finding her treasure spent,
And doubting if her Lord will pay the rent.
Hence pride of duties too, does often swell,
Presuming she perform’d so very well.
Hence pride of graces, and inherent worth,
Springs from her corrupt legal bias forth;
And boasting more a present with’ring frame,
Than her exalted Lord’s unfading name.
Hence many falls and plunges in the mire,
As many new conversions do require:
Because her faithless heart sad follies breed,
Much lewd departure from her living Head,
Who, to reprove her aggravated crimes,
Leaves her abandon’d to herself at times:
That, falling into frightful deeps, she may
From sad experience learn more stress to lay,
Not on her native efforts, but at length
On Christ alone, her righteousness and strength:
Conscious, while in her works she seeks repose,
Her legal spirit breeds her many woes.
Faith’s victories over Sin and Satan, through new and father discoveries of Christ, making Believers more fruitful in Holiness, than all other pretenders to works.
The gospel-path leads heav’nward; hence the fray,
Hell pow’rs still push the bride the legal way.
So hot the war, her life’s a troubled flood,
A field of battle, and a scene of blood.
But he that once commenc’d the work in her,
Whose working fingers drop the sweetest myrrh,
Will still advance it by alluring force,
And, from her ancient mate, more clean divorce:
Since ’tis her antiquated spouse the law,
The strength of sin and hell did on her draw.
Piece-meal she finds hell’s mighty force abate,
By new recruits from her almighty Mate.
Fresh armour sent from grace’s magazine,
Makes her proclaim eternal war with sin.
The shield of faith, dyed in the Surety’s blood,
Drowns fiery darts, as in a crimson flood.
The Captain’s ruddy banner, lifted high,
Makes hell retire, and all the furies fly.
Yea, of his glory ev’ry recent glance
Makes sin decay, and holiness advance.
In kindness therefore does her heav’nly Lord
Renew’d discoveries of his love afford,
That her enamour’d soul may with the view
Be cast into his holy mould anew:
For when he manifests his glorious grace,
The charming favour of his smiling face,
Into his image fair transforms her soul,
And wafts her upward to the heav’nly pole,
From glory unto glory by degrees,
Till vision and fruition shall suffice.
And thus in holy beauty Jesus’ bride
Shines far beyond the painted sons of pride,
Vain merit-vouchers, and their subtile apes,
In all their vast refin’d, delusive shapes.
No lawful child is ere the marriage born;
Though therefore virtues feign’d their life adorn.
The fruit they bear is but a spurious brood,
Before this happy marriage be made good.
And ’tis not strange; for, from a corrupt tree
No fruit divinely good produc’d can be.
But, lo! the bride, graft in the living Root,
Brings forth most precious aromatic fruit.
When her new heart and her new Husband meet,
Her fruitful womb is like a heap of wheat,
Beset with fragrent lilies round about,
All divine graces, in a comely rout,
Burning within, and shining bright without.
And thus the bride, as sacred scripture saith,
When dead unto the law through Jesus’ death,
And match’d with him, bears to her God and Lord
Accepted fruit with incense pure decor’d.
Freed from law-debt, and bless’d with gospel ease,
Her work is now her dearest Lord to please,
By living on him as her ample stock,
And leaning to him as her potent rock.
The fruit that each law-wedded mortal brings
To self accresces, as from self it springs;
So base a rise must have a base recourse,
The stream can mount no higher than its source.
But Jesus can his bride’s sweet fruit commend,
As brought from him the root, to him the end.
She does by such an offspring him avow
To be her Alpha and Omega too.
The work and warfare he begins, he crowns,
Though maugre various conflicts, ups and downs.
Thus through the darksome vail she makes her way
Until the morning-dawn of glory’s day.
True saving Faith magnifying the Law, both as a covenant and a rule. False Faith unfruitful and ruining.
Proud nature may reject this gospel-theme,
And curse it as an Antinomian scheme.
Let slander bark, let envy grin and fight,
The curse that is so causeless shall not light.
If they that fain would make by holy force
‘Twixt sinners and the law a clean divorce,
And court the Lamb a virgin chaste to wife,
Be charg’d as foes to holiness of life,
Well may they suffer gladly on this score;
Apostles great were so malign’d before.
Do we make void the law through faith? nay why,
We do it more fulfil and magnify
Than fiery seraphs can with holiest flash;
Avant, vain legalists, unworthy trash!
When as a cov’nant stern the law commands,
Faith puts her Lamb’s obedience in its hands;
And when its threats gush out a fiery flood,
Faith stops the current with her victim’s blood.
The law can crave no more, yet craves no less,
Than active, passive, perfect righteousness.
Yet here is all, yea, more than its demand,
All render’d to it by a divine hand.
Mankind is bound law-service still to pay,
Yea, angel-kind is also bound t’ obey.
It may by human and angelic blaze
Have honour, but in finite partial ways.
These natures have its lustre once defac’d,
‘Twill be by part of both for ay disgrac’d.
Yet, had they all obsequious stood and true,
They’d giv’n the law no more than homage due;
But faith gives’t honour yet more great, more odd,
The high the humble service of its God.
Again to view the holy law’s command,
As lodged in a Mediator’s hand;
Faith gives it honour, as a rule of life,
And makes the bride the Lamb’s obedient wife.
Due homage to the law those never did,
To whom th’ obedience pure of faith is hid.
Faith works by love, and purifies the heart,
And truth advances in the inward part;
On carnal hearts impresses divine stamps,
And sully’d lives inverts to shining lamps.
From Abram’s seed that are most strong in faith,
The law most honour, God most glory hath.
But due respect to neither can be found,
Where unbelief ne’er got a mortal wound,
To still the virtue-vaunter’s empty sound.
Good works he boasts, a path he never trode,
Who is not yet the workmanship of God,
In Jesus, thereunto created new;
Nois’d works, that spring not hence are but a shew.
True faith, that’s of a noble divine race,
Is still a holy sanctifying grace;
And greater honor to the law does share,
Than boasters of all that breathe the vital air.
Ev’n Heathen morals vastly may out shine
The works that flow not from a faith divine.
Pretensions high to faith a number have,
But, ah! it is a faith that cannot save,
We trust, say they, in Christ, we hope in God:
Nor blush to blaze their rotten faith abroad.
Nor try the trust of which they make a shew,
If of a saving or a damning hue.
They own their sins are ill! true, but ’tis sad,
They never thought their faith and hope were bad.
How evident’s their home-bred nat’ral blaze,
Who dream they have believ’d well all their days;
Yet never felt their unbelief, nor knew
The need of Pow’r their nature to renew?
Blind souls, that boast of faith yet live in sin,
May hence conclude their faith is to begin;
Or know they shall, by such an airy faith,
Believe themselves to everlasting wrath.
Faith that nor leads to good, nor keeps from ill,
Will never lead to heav’n, nor keep from hell.
The body, without breath, is dead; no less
Is faith without the works of holiness.
How rare is saving faith, when earth is cramm’d
With such as will believe, and yet be damn’d;
Believe the gospel, yet with dread and awe
Have never truly first believed the law?
That matters shall be well, they hope too soon,
Who never yet have seen they were undone.
Can of salvation their belief be true,
Who never yet believ’d damnation due?
Can these of endless life have solid faith,
Who never fear’d law-threats of endless death?
Nay, sail’d they han’t yet to healing shore,
Who never felt their sinful, woful sore.
Imaginary faith is but a blind,
That bears no fruit but of a deadly kind:
Nor can, from such a vile unwholesome root,
The least production rise of living fruit.
But saving faith can such an offspring breed,
Her native product is a holy seed.
The fairest issues of the vital breath,
Springs from the fertile womb of heav’n-born faith;
Yet boast she nothing of her own but brings
Auxilaries from the King of kings,
Who graves his royal law in rocky hearts,
And gracious aid in soft’ning show’rs imparts;
This gives prolific virtue to the faith,
Inspir’d at first by his almighty breath.
Hence, fetching all her succors from abroad,
She still employs this mighty pow’r of God:
Drain’d clean of native pow’rs and legal aims,
No strength but in and from Jehovah’s claims;
And thus her service to the law o’ertops
The tow’ring zeal of Parisaic fops.
The Believer only being married to Christ, is Justified and Sanctified; and the more gospel freedom from the law as a covenant, the more holy conformity to it as a rule.
Thus doth the Husband, by his Father’s will,
Both for and in his bride the law fulfil;
For her, as ’tis a covenant; and then
In her, all law-debt he most completely pays,
Then, of law-duties, all the charge defrays;
Does first assume her guilt, and loose her chains;
And then, with living water, wash her stains;
Her fund restore, and then her form repair,
And make his filthy bride a beauty fair;
His perfect righteousness most freely grant,
And then his holy image deep implant;
Into her heart his precious seed indrop,
Which in His time will yield a glorious crop,
But, by alternate turns, his plants he brings
Through robbing winters and repairing springs.
Hence, pining oft, they suffer sad decays,
By dint of shady nights and stormy days.
But blest with sap, and influence from above,
They live and grow anew in faith and love;
Until transplanted to the higher soil
Where furies tread no more, nor foxes spoil.
While Christ the living root remains on high,
The noble plant of grace can never die;
Nature decays, and so will all the fruit
That meerly rises on a mortal root.
Their works, however splendid, are but dead,
That from a living fountain don’t proceed;
That are not grafted in the glorious Vine.
Devoutest hypocrites are rank’d in rolls
Of painted puppets, not of living souls.
No offspring but of Christ’s fair bride is good:
This happy marriage has a holy brood.
Let sinners learn this mystery to read,
We bear to glorious Christ no precious seed,
Till through the law, we to the law be dead.
No true obedience to the law, but forc’d
Can any yield, till from the law divorc’d.
Nor to it, as a rule, is homage giv’n,
Till from it, as a cov’nant, men be driv’n.
Yea more, till once they this divorce attain,
Divorce from sin they but attempt in vain;
The cursed yoke of sin they basely draw,
Till once unyoked from the cursing law.
Sin’s full dominion keeps its native place,
While men are under law, not under grace.
For mighty hills of enmity won’t move,
Till touch’d by conq’ring grace and mighty love.
Were but the gospel-secret understood,
How God can pardon where he sees no good;
How grace and mercy free, that can’t be bought,
Reign through a righteousness already wrought:
Were woful reigning unbelief depos’d,
Mysterious grace to blinded minds disclos’d;
Did Heav’n with gospel-news its pow’r convey,
And sinners hear a faithful God but say,
“No more law-debt remains for you to pay;
Lo, by the loving Surety all’s discharg’d,”
Their hearts behov’d with love to be enlarg’d.
Love, the succinct fulfilling of the law,
Were then the easy yoke they’d sweetly draw;
Love would constrain and to his service move,
Who left them nothing else to do but love.
Slight now his loving precepts if they can;
No, no; his conqu’ring kindness leads the van.
When everlasting love exerts the sway,
They judge themselves more kindly bound t’obey,
Bound by redeeming grace, in stricter sense
Than ever Adam was in innocence.
Why now, they are not bound as formerly,
To do and live, nor yet to do or die;
Both life and death are put in Jesus’ hands,
Who urges neither in his kind commands,
Not servile work, their life and heav’n to win,
Nor slavish labour, death and hell to shun.
Their aims are purer, since they understood,
Their heav’n was bought, their hell was quench’d with blood.
The oars of gospel-service now they steer,
Without or legal hope or slavish fear.
The bride in sweet security can dwell,
Nor bound to purchase heav’n, nor vanquish hell:
But bound for him the race of love to run
Whose love to her left none of these undone;
She’s bound to be the Lamb’s obedient wife,
And in his strength to serve him during life;
To glorify his loving name for ay,
Who left her not a single mite to pay
Of legal debt, but wrote for her at large
In characters of blood, a full discharge.
Henceforth no servile task her labours prove,
But grateful fruits of reverential love.
Gospel-grace giving no liberty nor freedom to sin, but to holy service and pure obedience.
The glorious Husband’s love can’t lead the wife
To bunnydom, or licentiousness of life;
Nay, nay; she finds his warmest love within,
The hottest fire to melt her heart for sin.
His kind embrace is still the strongest cord
To bind her to the service of her Lord.
The more her faith insures this love of his,
The more his law her delectation is.
Some dream, they might, who this assurance win,
Take latitude and liberty to sin.
Ah! such bewray their ignorance, and prove
They want the lively sense of drawing love,
And how its sweet constraining force can move.
The ark of grace came never in to dwell,
But Dagon-lusts before it headlong fell.
Men basely can unto lasciviousness
Abuse the doctrine not the work of grace.
Huggers of divine love in vice’s path,
Have but the fancy of it, not the faith.
They never soar’d aloft on grace’s wing,
That knew not grace to be a holy thing:
When regnant she the pow’rs of hell appals,
And sin’s dominion in the ruin falls.
Curs’d is the crew whose Antinomian dress
Makes grace a cover to their idleness.
The bride of Christ will sure be very loth
To make his love a pillow for her sloth.
Why, mayn’t she sin the more that grace abounds?
Oh, God forbid! the very thought confounds.
When dead unto the law, she’s dead to sin;
How can she any longer live therein?
To neither of them is she now a slave,
But shares the conquest of the great, the brave,
The mighty General, her victorious Head,
Who broke the double chain to free the bride.
Hence, prompted now with gratitude and love,
Her cheerful feet in swift obedience move.
More strong the cords of love to duty draw,
Than hell, and all the curses of the law.
When with seraphic love the breast’s inspir’d,
By that are all the other graces fir’d;
These kindling round, the burning heart and frame
In life and walk, send forth a holy flame.
More Poetry from Ralph Erskine:Ralph Erskine Poems based on Topics: God, Jesus Christ, Sin, Love, Belief & Faith, Light, Death & Dying, Life, Soul, Faces, Name
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