Saturday, November 12, 2011

Spiritual conjugal friendship with the Sovereign Lord

He [the Lord Jesus Christ] is not only thy Husband but Sovereign Lord, to whom all Divine Adoration and worship doth appertain: wherefore if thou reservest, in the supreme conjugal bent of thine heart, which is thy Lord's Temple and Throne, any secret haunt for old lovers, thou art guilty, not only of spiritual Adultery, but also of Idolatry: for he is thy Lord, whom alone thou must adore, or worship, with spiritual-conjugal faith, love, and obedience. Thou art mistaken if thou thinkest to mediate a league of friendship, betwixt thy New Lord, and old lovers: no, he will have his alone in the inmost bent of thine heart, which is his sacred Temple, or rather the Holy of Holies, where none may enter or Lodge but himself: there is room for other Lovers in the out-lodges of the Affections, but none here, in this sacred Bent of thine heart, save for thy Lord: he alone must be extolled and worshipped here. He that studies, and endeavours to make a composition betwixt Christ and any old friend, so as to allow them both a share in the inmost bent of his spiritually conjugal love, does but delude himself with a framed shadow, or Idol-Christ, of his own fancy. A compounded Christ is a false Christ: if we choose not a single Christ for our friend, we choose nothing, but a coined Idol of our own deluded hearts: he that adds any thing to Christ, as a co-partner in his spiritual conjugal friendship, destroys the whole of Christ, as to benefit. All this is set forth to the life in that Parable, Hosea. 3. 1, 2, 3. v. 1. Then said the Lord unto me, go yet, love a woman (beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress) according to the love of the Lord toward the Children of Israel, who look to other gods and love flagons of Wine.

The case stood thus: The Jews had entered into a conjugal covenant of friendship, with God, as you have it, Jer. 2. 2, 3. I remember the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, &c. But Israel had broken her conjugal covenant with God, as this Prophet Hosea declareth at large, chap. 1. 2. whence She is here styled an Adulteress, because, albeit she retained the profession and worship of God in part, yet she looked to other gods, and love flagons of Wine: i.e. she found good emolument, or incomes of pleasures and riches by the flagons of Wine, or drink offerings which were poured forth to other gods; therefore she looks towards them, or gives them a share in that conjugal friendship and worship which was due to God alone, as Zeph. 1. 5. Yet for all this, though Israel had thus broken wedlock with God, yet he had an affectionate compassionate eye toward her: she was beloved of her friend though an adulteress; God had a mind to enter into a new covenant of conjugal friendship with her: but how? would God be content that Israel should lie in common for him and Idol-Gods? No; but first he redeems her Affections by out bidding other lovers; and so will have her as a garden enclosed and a fountain sealed, proper to himself. So v. 2. So I brought her to me for fifteen pieces of Silver, &c. V. 3. And I said unto her, thou shalt abide for me many days, thou shalt not play the Harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man, so will I also be for thee. As if the Lord had said: O my backsliding Spouse, I have yet once again ransomed thee, both by price and power, from thine Idol-lovers; look well to it, that thou play not the Harlot again: be thou for me, and not for any other lover, and I will be for thee: approve thy self a loyal friend to me, and doubt not but that I shall approve myself so to thee. Thus Cant. 6. 3. I am my beloveds, and my beloved is mine, i.e. I am wholly and singly for my Beloved, as he is wholly and singly for me: I am in regard of conjugal love and subjection, not mine own, but his: as he is, in point of conjugal love and care, not his own but mine. Its true, my beloved ceaseth not to be his own, when he becomes mine; but yet he demeaneth himself as if he were not his own; he assumeth such intimate Relations, and bowels, of an husband, friend, saviour, &c. as bespeaks him wholly mine, and therefore it is my duty to make over my self, my Thoughts, Admirations, Affection, Person and all to him; so that I am now to mind, admire, live in, possess, enjoy, and delight in him, and not my self; I am to reject every Idol-lover and friend.

Thence God tells the Israelites, that he would not deliver them, till they had put away their false gods, Judges 10. 13, 14. Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more. Go cry unto the gods ye have chosen, and let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation. God upbraids them with their Idol-gods and false lovers. But yet when the Israelites have put away their Idols, and humbled themselves before God, it is said the Lord's soul was grieved for their misery, v. 15, 16. The like Hos. 14. 3, 4. When Israel is brought to renounce all Idol-lovers and false gods, then, and not till then, Christ comes in as a friend, promising to heal her backslidings. So v. 8. Ephraim shall say, what have I any more to do with Idols? and what follows? I have heard him, and observed him, &c. Christ will never hearken to us as a friend, so long as we have to do with Idols. 
Thus Hos. 2. 15, 16, 17. when God takes Israel again into Covenant with himself, he will have her forget the names of Baalim, her old Idol lovers, and call him Ishi, her Husband. Thus the soul, that enters into a conjugal friendship with Christ, must be for him singly, and for none other: he must not add to or compound any thing with Christ; but must bid adieu unto, and abandon all old lovers, which may pretend unto, or aim at the least share in the bend of the heart, or that conjugal Affection which is alone due to Christ.
—Theophilus Gale