Inspired by Challies, I have just finished reading “A Godly Man’s Picture” by the Puritan Thomas Watson. Without a doubt, this book is certainly the classic that it is claimed to be. Written in 1666, it is filled with exhortation after exhortation to live a godly life, the bulk of the book written to describe what a godly man looks like and what attributes he has.
The part that stood out the most to me was the very last chapter, entitled “Showing the Mystical Union Between Christ and the Saints”. Perhaps it’s because I just got married about a month ago, but this chapter spoke volumes to me. In Scripture, marriage between a husband and wife is compared to the union between Christ and His Church and typically people apply this by looking at Christ’s love for the Church and modelling how spouses should treat each other after Him.
However, Watson just as often goes the other way: he looks at the institution of marriage and how a husband should love his wife, then looks to Christ as the “husband that cannot be paralleled” and encourages the Christian based on this.
Beginning at Death
“To speak properly, our marriage with Christ begins, where other marriages end, at death.” Christ has paid the dowry through His death and is now calling people to join Him. The great marriage supper of the Lamb has yet to occur and is the final stage in the Jewish marriage tradition.”1 We are currently betrothed to Christ and expectantly await our union with Him.
Do we desire Christ in the same way that young man desires his future wedding night?2 I would bet that we do not. Having recently gone through the trial of engagement, I can personally attest to the desire to be with my wife to be. It was almost painful at times to want to be with her, yet know that I cannot. Do we desire Christ in this same way? Do we have a consistent, passionate desire to be united with Him? I know I do not speak only for myself when I say “No.”
“Who would not be willing to shoot the gulf of death, that they might meet with your husband Christ? Phil. 1:23. I desire to loosen anchor, and be with Christ though the way be dirty, seeing we are going to our friend; when a woman is contracted, she longs for the day of marriage; after the saints’ funeral begins their marriage: the body is a prison to the soul; who would not desire to exchange a prison for a marriage-bed?”
A Husband Without Parallel
Christ is concerned in all our affairs: if we wander, He guides us home, if we stumble, He He holds us up, if we fall, He raises us. “He loves you in your worst condition, he loves you in affliction: the goldsmith loves his gold in the furnace: He loves you notwithstanding your scars and blemishes.” This is the comfort of the spouse when she is weak: that Christ her husband shall be her strength Isa. 49:5.
Our sins are the worst debts we owe, yet Christ frees us from them, this no earthly husband can do. “When the law brings in it’s indictments against you: ‘Here are,’ saith the law, ‘so many debts to be paid,’ and it demands satisfaction; acknowledge the debt, but turn over all to your husband Christ: it is a maxim in the law that the suit must not go against the wife as long as the husband is living: tell satan when he accuseth thee, ‘it is true the debt is mine, but go to my husband Christ, He will discharge it.'”
On the day of judgement, you, Christian, will be judged by Christ, your husband. “O what a comfort is this! Christ cannot pass the sentence against His spouse, but He must pass it against Himself, for Christ and believers are one.” He will comfort us when we are afflicted, taking away the cup of trembling and call us into the banqueting house of heaven.
Christian, do you desire Christ as you should? Do you eagerly await to be unified with Him at His marriage supper? Or does your love waver? Are you caught up in the distractions of this present world?
Do you love your spouse in the way that Christ both loved and is currently loving the Church? Do you seek to build her up, encourage her, and defend her? Or are you overcome with weakness and selfishness? Do you put your needs before her own?
“…a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench.”
“Christ will not quench the smoking wick, because when he preserves a little light in a great deal of smoke, here the glory of His power shines forth; the trembling soul thinks it shall be swallowed up of sin, but God by preserving a little quantity of grace in the heart; nay, by making that spark prevail over corruption, as the fire from heaven ‘licked up the water in the trench,; 1 Kings 18:38. Now, God gets Himself a glorious name, and carries a way the trophies of honor, 2 Cor, 12:9 ‘My strength is made perfect in weakness.'”
Christian, God is invested in you as His bride. “He who began a good work in you will see it to completion.” None of us have yet reached the state of glorification must still struggle with our weaknesses and the corruption of this world. If there be any work begun in you, Christ will see it through. He is the perfect husband, who cares for His bride better and more perfectly than and earthly one.
2. Nick Peters mentioned this very idea in his post “Why Does God Allow Evil?”