By Ralph Erskine
SECTION IV. – The working of the Spirit of faith, in separating the heart from all self-righteousness, and drawing out its consent to, and desire after CHRIST alone and wholly..
THE bride at Sinai little understood
How these law-humblings were designed for good,
T' enhance the value of her Husband's blood.
The tow'r of tott'ring pride thus batter'd down,
Makes way for Christ alone to wear the crown.
Conviction's arrows pierc'd her heart, that so
The blood from his pierc'd heart, to her's might flow.
The law's sharp plough tears up the fallow ground,
Where not a grain of grace was to be found,
Till straight perhaps behind the plough is sown
The hidden seed of faith, as yet unknown.
Hence now the once reluctant bride's inclined
To give the gospel an assenting mind,
Dispos'd to take, would grace the pow'r impart,
Heav'n's offer with a free consenting heart.
His Spirit in the gospel-chariot rides,
And shews his loving heart to draw the bride's;
Though oft in clouds his drawing pow'r he hides.
His love in gracious offers to her bears,
In kindly answers to her doubts and fears,
Resolving all objections more or less
From former sins, or present worthlessness.
Persuades her mind of's conjugal consent,
And then impow'rs her heart to say, Content.
Content to be divorced from the law,
No more the yoke of legal terms to draw;
Content that he dissolve the former match,
And to himself alone her heart attach;
Content to join with Christ at any rate,
And wed him as her everlasting mate;
Content that he should ever wear the bays,
And of her whole salvation have the praise;
Content that he should rise, though she should fall,
And to be nothing, that he may be all;
Content that he, because she nought could do,
Do for her all her work, and in her too.
Here she a peremptory mind displays,
That he do all the work, get all the praise.
And now she is, which ne'er till now took place,
Content entirely to be sav'd by grace.
She owns that her damnation just would be,
And therefore her salvation must be free:
That nothing being hers but sin and thrall,
She must be debtor unto grace for all.
Hence comes she to him in her naked case,
To be invested with his righteousness.
She comes, as guilty, to a pardon free;
As vile and filthy, to a cleansing sea;
As poor and empty, to the richest stock;
As weak and feeble to the strongest rock:
As perishing , unto a shield from thrall;
As worse than nothing, to an all in all.
She, as a blinded mole, an ign'rant fool,
Comes for instruction to the Prophet's school.
She, with a hell-deserving conscious breast,
Flies for atonement to the worthy Priest.
She as a slave to sin and Satan, wings
Her flight for help unto the King of kings.
She all her maladies and plagues brings forth
To this Physician of eternal worth.
She spreads before his throne her filthy sore;
And lays her broken bones down at his door.
No mite she has to buy a crumb of bliss,
And therefore comes impoverished as she is;
By sin and Satan, of all good bereft,
Comes e'en as bare as they her soul have left.
To sense, as free of holiness within,
As Christ, the spotless Lamb, was free of sin.
She comes by faith, true; but it shews her want,
And brings her as a sinner, not a saint;
A wretched sinner, flying for her good
To justifying, sanctifying blood.
Strong faith no strength nor power of acting vaunts,
But acts in sense of weakness and of wants.
Drain'd now of every thing that men may call
Terms and conditions of relief from thrall;
Except this one, that Jesus be her all.
When to the bride he gives espousing faith,
It finds her under sin, and guilt, and wrath,
And makes her as a plagued wretch to fall
At Jesus' footstool for the cure of all.
Her whole salvation now in him she seeks,
And musing thus perhaps in secret speaks;
"Lo! all my burdens may in him be eased;
The justice I offended he has pleased;
The bliss that I have forfeit he procured;
The curse that I deserved he endured;
The law that I have broken he obeyed;
The debt that I contracted he has paid;
And though a match unfit for him I be,
I find him every way most fit for me.
"Sweet Lord, I think, would thou thyself impart,
I'd welcome thee with open hand and heart.
But thou that sav'st by price, must save by power;
O send thy Spirit in a fiery shower,
This cold and frozen heart of mine to thaw,
That nought, save cords of burning love, can draw.
O draw me, Lord, then will I run to thee,
And glad into thy glowing bosom flee.
I own myself a mass of sin and hell,
A brat that can do nothing but rebel:
But didst thou not, as sacred pages shew, (1)
When rising up to spoil the hellish crew,
That had by thousands, sinners captive made,
And hadst in conqu'ring chains them captive led,
Get donatives, not for they proper gain,
But royal bounties for rebellious men,
Gifts, graces, and the Spirit without bounds,
For God's new house with man on firmer grounds?
O then let me a rebel now come speed,
Thy Holy Spirit is the gift I need.
His precious graces too, the glorious grant,
Thou kindly promis'd and a greatly want.
Thou art exalted to the highest place,
To give repentance forth, and ev'ry grace. (2)
O giver of spiritual life and breath,
The author and the finisher of faith; (3)
Thou husband-like must ev'ry thing provide,
If e'er the like of me become thy bride."
(1) Psalm xviii. 18.
(2) Acts v. 31.
(3) Heb. xii. 2.