The previous post on this sermon may be found here:
The next branch is,
III. Christ’s acceptation.
Sibbes here considers the words:
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have gathered my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.’
Sibbes takes the general sense of the words to mean that Christ comes to his garden to gather the fruit raised upon by his own grace. Christ has engendered the profit of the Church. But he does not merely to receive, but he comes to bestow comfort and grace upon his people. This creates desire for even more Christ in his people
Whence we observe,
That God accepts of the graces of his children, and delights in them.
He then states three reasons why God accepts the graces of his children. First, because of the relationship he bears:
First, Because they are the fruits that come from his children, his spouse, his friend. Love of the person wins acceptance of that which is presented from the person. What comes from love is lovingly taken.
We far too often undervalue the nature of our relationship to God. He calls us by the closest and most enduring of relationships: son, wife, friend. The church is called, family, household, people and body. These are relationships which overcome difficulties.
The second reason God values the graces is due to their source:
Second, They are the graces of his Spirit. If we have anything that is good, all comes from the Spirit, which is first in Christ our husband, and then in us.
As Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 3:18, we are transformed into the glory of Christ by seeing the glory of Christ. And as it says 1 John 3:2, we will become like Christ when we see him as he is:
Christ sees his own face, beauty, glory, in his church; she reflects his beams; he looks in love upon her, and always with his looks conveys grace and comfort; and the, church doth reflect back again his grace. Therefore Christ loves but the reflection of his own graces in his children, and therefore accepts them.
This is precisely the purpose of being made in the image of God: it is to reflect God.
Finally, he accepts our graces due to his own gracious nature:
Third, His kindness is such as he takes all in good part. Christ is love and kindness itself. Why doth he give unto her the name of spouse and sister, but that he would be kind and loving, and that we should conceive so of him? We see, then, the graces of Christ accepting of us and what we do in his strength.
Sibbes then explains what we offer in light of what Christ has done in making an offering to God on our behalf:
Both we ourselves are sacrifices, and what we offer is a sacrifice acceptable to God, through him that offered himself as a sacrifice of sweet smelling savour, from which God smells a savour of rest. God accepts of Christ first, and then of us, and what comes from us in him.
Because of Christ has done, we may come to God:
We may boldly pray, as Ps. 20:3, ‘Lord, remember all our offerings, and accept all our sacrifices.’ The blessed apostle St Paul doth will us ‘to offer up ourselves,’ Rom. 12:1, a holy and acceptable sacrifice to God, when we are once in Christ. In the Old Testament we have divers manifestations of this acceptation. He accepted the sacrifice of Abel, as it is thought, by fire from heaven, and so Elijah’s sacrifice, and Solomon’s, by fire, 1 Kings 18:38; 1 Chron, 21:26.
He then concludes:
So in the New Testament he shewed his acceptation of the disciples meeting together, by a mighty wind, and then filling them with the Holy Ghost, Acts 2:3. But now the declaration of the acceptation of our persons, graces, and sacrifice that we offer to him, is most in peace of conscience and joy in the Holy Ghost, and from a holy fire of love kindled by the Spirit, whereby our sacrifices are burned. In the incense of prayer, how many sweet spices are burned together by this fire of faith working by love; as humility and patience in submitting to God’s will, hope of a gracious answer, holiness, love to others, &c.