The Position and Practice of the Bride
James Smith, 1856
"The Bride says, Come!" Revelation 22:17
The Church of God, quickened and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, is the Bride of Christ. It is of his Church, and every individual member of that Church, he speaks, when he says, "I will betroth you unto me forever; yes, I will betroth you unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies. Yes, I will betroth you unto me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord."
By nature, we are far from him, strangers to him, and at enmity with him. The very last thing we would think of, desire, or seek — would be union to Christ. But he sends his servants, as Abraham did Eliezer, to take a wife for his son Jesus. They come and proclaim his love, commend his person, exhibit his portrait, and invite us to him. The Spirit of God attends them in their work, crowns their efforts — and union with Christ is the result. We feel our need of him, our affections are raised and go out after him; we heartily and earnestly seek him, we are introduced to him, we give utterance to our desires before him, and at length he gives us his hand, and pronounces us his forever.
So far, the minister's work is done — but his wish is, to present those who thus give themselves to Christ by his means, blameless and spotless before him at the last; hence the apostle wrote to his Corinthian converts: "I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy; for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."
Every believer should realize that he stands in the relation, and is under the obligation, of the Bride of Jesus. His are the privileges, his the honors, and his the duties — of the Lamb's wife. Espoused to him through the Gospel, we have pledged ourselves to be his; secretly at the mercy-seat, and publicly in our baptism. We have said, "I will be for you, and not for another." We made a full, entire, and eternal surrender of ourselves, and all we have — to him. So that we are not our own; it is not lawful for us primarily to seek our own pleasure; our object should be, in all we do to please Jesus. As the virtuous woman is a crown to her husband — so should we aim, and strive, and seek, to be a crown to Jesus.
As his bride, he employs us in his house; we have always something to do, and to do for him. While he is absent, we should be preparing for him, that everything may be in order when he comes. It is our duty, and should be our aim, to be conformed to his will in all things; to walk worthy of our relation; to live and act always, and in everything — so as to honor him. The bride of Jesus should be the most lovely and inviting object in creation, that so attention may be arrested, admiration excited, and the inquiry be heard, "Who is this that looks forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and majestic as an army with banners."
We will now look at the BRIDE as represented by John. She is associated with the holy and ever blessed Spirit; the Spirit invites sinners to Jesus, the Bride echoes his call, and the hearer is directed to echo hers, "The Bride says, Come!"
She stands beside the cross, and seeing lost sinners in the distance, wandering, wretched and undone — and she lovingly calls them to come. She has found peace at that cross; she has found rest and pleasure there. She knows that there is no . . .
repose for the soul,
healing for the broken heart, or
balm for the bleeding conscience
— but at the foot of the cross.
She knows the crucified One well. She loves him who died on the tree to save sinners. She sympathizes with him, in his mercy and compassion for lost souls; and she sympathizes with them in their misery and danger; and, therefore, with loving heart, and clear and distinct voice, she cries "Come!"
Come to Jesus — you poor restless wanderers!
Come to the cross — you poor lost sinners!
Come just as you are!
Come without hesitation!
Come without delay!
Come, and be pardoned freely!
Come, and be justified completely!
Come, and enjoy peace instantly.
Come, and be saved eternally.
Come, though poor and wretched.
Come, though vile and guilty.
Come, though polluted and filthy.
Come, though sick and sorrowful.
Come, for the road is clear!
Come, for you are all welcome.
Come, nor shall one be rejected or sent back.
The bride is careful not to stand before the cross — lest she should conceal it. Nor does she hold up a crucifix — lest the soul should rest short of it; but standing by its side, with uplifted hand she points to it, and cries, "Come, Come, COME!"
She stands at the door of her house, and to the timid, nervous, fearful, doubting believer, she says, "Come!" "She has prepared a great banquet, mixed the wines, and set the table." She has room, refreshments, enjoyments, and employments — and wishes all the friends of her Bridegroom to partake of them. She removes every obstacle, answers every objection, and presses every houseless, homeless, lover of her Lord, to come in. Like Laban of old to Eliezer, she cries, "Come in, you who are blessed of the Lord, why do you stand outside?"
Clothed in the bridal robe, wrought for her by her beloved Lord, washed clean in in his atoning blood, made happy in his precious love, with beaming countenance, with sparkling eye, and with sweetest voice — she cries to every young believer, "Come in, and find a home. Come in, and enjoy a feast! Come in, and be merry with your friends. Come in, and go no more out."
And if she sees a poor backslider, one who has wandered from his resting-place, wounded his loving Lord, and grieved his Holy Spirit; as the tear starts in his eye, as the sigh escapes from his breast, and the blush of shame clothes his countenance — she cries in gentlest tones, "Come!" She calls to the wanderer to return; she invites the ungrateful one to come in. Nor is she ever more pleased than when she hears him say, "I will go and return to my first husband, for then it was better with me than now."
She stands on this poor world, and surrounded by all the marks of the curse, treading upon thorns and briars, listening to the sighs of the saints, and the groans of creation at large — and she looks up to where her Lord is and cries, "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly! Come, and work in lost sinners, bringing them to penitence, faith, and union with yourself. Come, and work in beloved saints bringing them into close fellowship with yourself, and into closer union with each other. Come, and work in your visible Church, making it the home of harmony, love, and peace."
"Come, Lord Jesus; come and claim your purchase; you have dearly bought your people — come and claim them; you have bought this field in which the pearl of price was found by you — come and claim it for your own."
"Come, Lord Jesus; come and reign on the earth. Let the world that was once the witness of your sorrows, agonies, and death — witness your joy, your glory, and your everlasting triumphs! Make this earth, which was once the theater of your humiliation — the theater of your glory! O come, and let the earth be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea! Come let the whole earth be filled with your glory. Come and take the crown of the whole earth, the scepter of the world's government — and reign gloriously."
My Christian brother, is this your position? Is this your practice?
Do you stand by the cross of Jesus, and invite poor sinners to it? Do you speak to them from your own experience of the power of that cross, telling them, that "it is the power of God unto salvation, to every one who believes?" Do you bear witness of the rest, peace, and joy to be obtained there? Pity, O pity poor sinners, and try to bring them to Calvary! Speak, O speak for Jesus, and endeavor to lead sinners to his precious blood, that he may "see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied!" Try, try, to induce some to share with you in the blessings, and benefits of his death!
Do you stand at the door of Christ's Church — and endeavor to induce seekers to come in? There are many in these days outside the Church, who ought to be within it; and they would be, if there was . . .
more love in our hearts,
more holiness in our lives,
and more vitality in our meetings,
if the Lord's people, lovingly, heartily, and persuasively, cried to them, "come!"
Do you stand on God's footstool, and looking up to his throne where Jesus sits at his right hand, cry, "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!" Would you not be delighted see your Lord come in glory? Would you not have the groans of Creation silenced, and the desires of the Church granted? Can you not pray that it would please the Lord "shortly to accomplish the number of his elect, and hasten his kingdom!" O that we may be looking for and hastening to the coming of the day of God!
Lost sinner, there is for you — no rest, no satisfaction, no solid happiness — until you sincerely come to Jesus.
If you would be happy now,
if you would be peaceful in death,
if you would be safe forever —
then you must come to Jesus!
In the name of the Bride, and as one of her servants, I cry unto you most heartily: Come to Jesus, and find pardon, peace, and everlasting life. Come you to the Cross, COME! Come without delay. Then come to the Church, and come with fear. Then join with us in looking up to Heaven, and unite with us in the cry, "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!"