1 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house,
2 and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife,
3 and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife,
4 then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the LORD. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.
The relationship between husband and wife pictures the relationship between Christ and the Church
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,
30 because we are members of his body.
31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
Ephesians 5:25-32. Now the one who mere plays at such a relationship, the one whose commitment has caveats and yet other lovers (if you will), cannot expect that Christ will likewise play:
4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit,
5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,
6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
And which is more sad, in some of them never, in others very hardly built up again; God proving severe when we grow wanton. And so, as he removeth the candlestick, Rev. 2:5, when we play or fight by the light of the candle set up in it, so he is very hardly induced to light it again in that place where it hath once been wantonly or frowardly put out. There are more hopes of recovering a particular person fallen, by virtue of an everlasting covenant madewith him, although he may go halting to his grave, and never here again rise up to his former comforts and enlargements; but a particular church or people (unless it be that of the Jews, who in the great jubilee after their rejection shall again return to their former possessions, Jer. 3:1, 12–14, and 8:4) cannot claim the like privilege of such a covenant. The ark never returned to the same place from whence it was in a way of judgment removed; and the glory of the Lord, when, after its gradual removes, was at last quite gone from the first temple, was not fully restored in the second, till Christ’s first coming; nor will it be in this their rejection, till his second. I think there will be found very few instances of God’s presence and ordinances, long enjoyed by a people, and after abused and rejected, if thereupon lost, easily, if at all, restored. The ‘faith once delivered to the saints,’ Jude 3, is not wont to be received or lost the second time. The reason is, because a jealous God can least endure, upon trial made of him, to be slighted in that wherein he would most commend to us his special love, and ever accounts the rejecting of such special tokens of it as a renouncing of himself: ‘They have not rejected thee, but me,’ 1 Sam. 8:7. And as the husband in the law pleaded some uncleanness in his wife, when he put her away, Deut. 24:1, so God makes account that we tell the world, that we have found iniquity in him, when we go far from him, and walk after vanity, and that he hath been a wilderness and land of darkness, when we prove lords, and will come no more at him, Jer. 2:5, 31.
From St John’s College in Cambridge,
July 7, 1654.
Dedicatory Epistle to A Brief Exposition With Practical Observations Upon the Whole Book of Ecclesiastes, John Cotton