Friday, June 20, 2008

GOSPEL SONNETS - Chapter 3 - Section 2

By Ralph Erskine
Chapter 3

SECTION II. – Faith’s victories over sin and Satan, through new and farther discoveries of CHRIST, making believers more fruitful in holiness than all other pretenders to works.

THE gospel-path leads heav’n-ward; hence the fray,
Hell’s 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, dipt 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 every recent glance
Makes sin decay, and holiness advance.
In kindness therefore does her heavenly Lord
Renew’d discov’ries 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, (1)
And wafts her upwards to the heavenly 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 subtle apes,
In all their most refined, delusive shapes.
No lawful child is ere the marriage born;
Though therefore virtues feigned 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 produced can be,(2)
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 fragrant lilies round about,(3)
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,(4)
And matched with him, bears to her God and Lord
Accepted fruit, with increase pure decored.
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 vale she makes her way,
Until the morning dawn of glory’s day.

(1) 2 Cor. iii. 18.
(2) Matt. vii. 17, 18.
(3) Cant. vii. 2.
(4) Rom. vii. 4.

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