An Astonishing Match

Sacramental Meditation XXII

By John Willison, Practical Works (London: Blackie & Son, 1844), 276-8; minimally edited

“And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies” (Hos 2:19).

Abigail thought herself highly honoured, by David’s proposing to match with her: But much more honoured are we, apostate sinners of Adam’s family, by the eternal Son of God’s proposing to match with us, and courting us so earnestly; when He neglected angels that seemed to be a fitter match for Him, in respect of the superior dignity of their nature. Yet all these He would pass by, and match with worms! Oh how amazing is this step! that the heavenly Bridegroom, whose kingdom is mighty, His riches infinite, and His beauty surpassing; that He should choose a bride naturally polluted, deformed, uncomely, and black as hell! and that He should seek her through a sea of blood through the pains of death, the horrors of the grave, and torments of hell! And after many slights and refusals, that He should follow her in her wanderings through the wilderness of sin, with His charming invitations, and alluring offers in the gospel, presenting her with the rings and bracelets of His precious promises and Spirit’s consolations; and all to win her heart, and gain her consent to Him! How astonishing is it, to see this glorious Person coming over all objections from the blackness, guilt, poverty, and unworthiness of the bride, saying, Though she be black, I will make her comely through my comeliness put upon her! Though she be mean, I will make her noble! Though a slave, I will make her free! Though a fool, I will make her wise! Though bankrupt, I will pay all her debt! Come here, law, justice, and all her creditors, here full satisfaction of all that is due to you, take it, and write her discharge! Now, “who can lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect?” Christ’s bride! Behold God displaying His free love to the utmost! He never displayed His other attributes to the utmost; infinite wisdom could have contrived ten thousand worlds more beautiful than this, and infinite power could have produced them. But here infinite love and mercy hath gone to the utmost, a greater demonstration of His love Christ could not give, than by leaving heaven, assuming a body and giving His life for the bride; nay, wading through hell for her, and, in face of all discouragements, courting and betrothing her to Himself forever!

After many meetings, treaties, and broken trusts with some, the bridegroom is come again to court a bride, and has sent His friends in His name to demand her consent, saying as they did to Rebekah, “Wilt thou go with this man?” Poor woman, poor man, wilt thou yield to this glorious Emmanuel; many former treaties have been broken off by the devil, the world, unbelief, and an ill heart! Oh will not the long spoken of match hold at length! Ministers, the bridegroom’s friends are doing their best to draw on another meeting between parties. Christ, I see, is content to hold another, and it may be the last trust He will set with many. To show His earnestness, He hath convened His friends, angels, saints, and ambassadors, to witness the sincerity of parties; He hath put on His scarlet robes, His garments dipped in blood, to win sinners’ hearts; He hath brought the marriage-contract and spread it before them, saying, “What think ye of its articles and terms? Are ye pleased with them? Are ye content to break with sin and all my enemies? To renounce the world, self righteousness and all other lovers? to fall in with the self-denying way of salvation through a borrowed righteousness? to accept of me in all my offices? live wholly upon your Husband, borrow all from Him, and be an eternal debtor to Him? to make a surrender of your soul and body to Him and seal a covenant with Him at His table? Are you resolved to be faithful to your Husband, cleave to Him all the days of your life and be oft looking out for His second coming? And, in the meantime, to be oft commemorating His sufferings, conflicts, conquests, and achievements, and for that end to be frequently looking on His picture in the sacrament, with a believing, penitent, and thankful heart? Now, what is your answer? Lay your hand to your heart.”

Lord, unworthy as I am, I desire to go forward through all difficulties, impediments, and discouragements, and say with Rebekah, when called to answer, “I will go with the man;” And with Esther, “I will go in to the king.” Though I be not worthy of Him, yet He is worthy to be obeyed that calls me: Though He hath no need of me, yet I have great need of Him: Though my distance be great, He allows me to creep nearer to Him: Though I cannot move of myself, yet He is able to draw me, be my clogs never so great: Though my motion be small, yet I will not turn back, but keep my face towards Him, and fix my eye on Him. As a look hath brought healing, so a look hath brought strength; yea, though He should seem to frown on me, and chide me away from Him; yet, like Jonah, “I will look again towards His holy temple:” Though I have no worthiness in myself, yet He hath worthiness enough for me: Though I be a black and uncomely bride, my glorious husband can beautify me with His perfect comeliness put upon me. Therefore I do with all my heart, accept of Him as my Lord and Husband: Lord, I make choice of thee, and all that is thine; for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse; for well, for woe; for prosperity, for adversity: I make choice of thee for all times and conditions, to love, honour, and obey thee, above all. I renounce all other lords and lovers and will have none but Christ: I renounce my own will, and take thy will for my law. I esteem thy precepts concerning all things to be right, and will hate every false way: I submit to all thy providences and dealings with me and am content to take up thy cross and follow thee, whithersoever thou goest: I take thy Spirit for my guide, thy Word for my rule, thy glory for my scope, thy Testimonies for my counsellors, thy promises for my encouragement, thy Sabbaths for my delight, thy people for my companions. Lord Jesus, I take thee for my life, holiness for my way, and heaven for my home. And as I accept of thee, and all that is thine; so I give up myself to thee, and all that is mine, soul and body, with all my faculties and affections, senses and members to be thy agents and instruments; with all my enjoyments to be employed for thy use and service.

“I will go with the man,” though I see Him all over wounded, mangled, and bleeding, and His visage marred with the wounds, stripes, and blows, which He got from men and devils. Nay, I see Him even in this mangled condition, to be fairer than all the sons of men, and all the sons of God too; for I see Him “wounded for my transgressions, and bruised for my iniquities, that by His stripes I might be healed.” I see Him a match every way suitable for me, that can supply all my needs: I am a poor dying worm, but He is a living head that can make me live forever: I am a needy creature all made up of wants, but in Him doth all manner of fulness dwell: I want grace, but He hath all fulness of grace suitable for me: I want grace to believe, but He is the Author of faith: I want grace to repent, but He is a Prince and Saviour, exalted to give repentance. I want grace to pray, to hear to communicate, to mortify sin, bear the cross, resist temptation, etc. but my Husband hath all grace to bestow. Oh let me be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Oh that I had the true marks of those who are divorced from the law, and married to Christ as their Husband; that I could say, I look upon all my doings in point of acceptance with God, as rags: I live wholly upon my husband and take all I want from Him for nothing: I clothe myself with His righteousness, and essay the performance of every duty in His strength: I have a heart-love to my Husband, and every thing that belongs to Him, and a heart-hatred to sin, and aversion to every thing that is injurious to Him: I am desirous to please Him in all things; and out of regard to His dying command, I go to His table, to remember His dying love, and renew my marriage-vows: I delight in my Husband’s company, and press communion with Him in all ordinances. His honour is always dear to me, and I am easy about my own honour and interest in respect of his? “Let me decrease, but let Him increase.” And in regard the devil reigns here, sin abounds, error and corruption prevail; I am well pleased with the thoughts of Christ’s second coming to pull down Satan’s kingdom, and to consummate the marriage with me and all that are espoused to Him, and say, “Why tarry the wheels of His chariot? Make haste my beloved; even so come, Lord Jesus.” Oh that all the world would love Him, exalt Him, and submit to Him. Many in different places admire Him, and see matchless charms in Him, His name to them is as ointment poured forth, His garments smell of aloes, myrrh and cassia; they have beheld His stately going in the sanctuary: Oh that all the world might so admire Him and submit to Him also. W