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JOEL II. 16.

“Let the Bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.”

The first part of the chapter in which this text is found, appears to be addressed more particularly to the Jews as a nation, yet it is evident that the text before us has a direct application to Christ and the church, and that the whole chapter has them in view, in its ultimate application. The closing up of the chapter is language which embraces in itself the glory and power of the kingdom of Christ. In the first verse of the chapter it is said, “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain, let all the inhabitants of the earth tremble, for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand.” We understand the day of the Lord, which is here introduced, to be the same day which is mentioned in the thirty-first verse, and is there called the great and terrible day of the Lord. This subject is clearly explained by our Lord in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, and in the second chapter of the Acts of the apostles; Peter has removed all doubts and successful disputes upon the point. On the day of Pentecost, when the apostles were filled with the Holy Ghost, and spake with tongues so that every man heard them in their own language wherein they were born, some were amazed, and inquired what those things meant; others mockingly said, These men (the apostles) are full of new wine. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice and said unto them, These men are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel, and then quotes the very language which is found in the close of the chapter, in which our text is contained. It is not possible therefore to miss the application, unless Peter erred in applying it where he did, and this we know was not the case. The expression in the last clause of the sixteenth verse, is that which the Holy Ghost chose as a part of the language through which to describe the setting up of the gospel kingdom on the earth in union with Christ its King. With these invulnerable bulwarks around this idea, we hesitate not to apply the text directly to Christ and the church. The terms bridegroom and bride, when used in the Bible, very generally apply to this union. We learn from the Bible that the most solemn, binding and endearing of all human ties, those of the bridegroom and bride, are borrowed from and represent the union of Christ and the church, and if we inquire why Ishmael was not an heir with Isaac, we shall discover that one very important reason was, that he was not a son of the bride, and had no vital relationship with her. God is not the author of confusion and discord, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. All the amalgamation and means of men can never add anything to the body of Christ, for nothing can be added to it, which was not originally in it. If we refer to our first parents after the flesh, for a figurative illustration upon this point, we shall there discover that Eve was in Adam, until she was developed as his bride. We should particularly note the fact that the bridegroom was not made for the bride, but the bride was made for the bridegroom. In relation to Christ and the church in their vital relationship they are co-equal, although the development of the bride was subsequently to her vital existence in him. In relation to this union, and the manifestation of it, God was pleased to establish the titles Bridegroom and Bride, and apply them to the Head, and the body, which is the church, the fullness of him that filleth all in all. Our text has to do with this Head and body, in life and death, in doctrine, ordinances and gospel, or church organization. The time was appointed by the eternal Father for this manifested union, and his command in the text is, “Let the Bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.” Christ Jesus, the Lord and Mediator of the new covenant, had long been made manifest to the faithful, through representations, types and shadows, but all these types and shadows declared that their substance, that which is perfect, had not yet come. Jesus was represented by the spotless lamb offered by Abel. Abel is dead, yet in that offering he now speaks. The law was a school-master. At the time appointed of God, Jesus Christ came into the world to swallow up types and shadows in himself, and to remove the ceremonies which pointed to him, to fulfill all that had been written of him, and that had been represented in offerings and ceremonies. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.” Who was under the law? The bride, the Lamb’s wife. Why then was not the law executed upon her, and she consigned to everlasting woe? She has a Mediator who appears as her husband, and Paul said, The law knoweth not a woman which hath an husband, and what the Scriptures before us point to, is the full manifestation that Christ is the Husband, or Bridegroom of the church, which is composed not of Jews only, but of Gentiles also; and God hath visited the Gentiles to take out from among them a people for his name. The church is not composed of all of either, but of a people out of both, and Jesus appears in the flesh between the two; in the end of the Jewish world or economy, and in the beginning of the christian, when the Gentiles are called and the church is gathered under the latter. “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one, all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him.” That consolidated lady is the election of grace, and figuratively speaking is the bone of Christ’s bone, and the flesh of his flesh. We here find a bride which was in Christ before the world began. Having thus found a bridegroom and bride, we will attempt to follow them in their nuptials and fellowship. David in presenting in the most clear and beautiful manner, the setting up of the gospel kingdom in the earth, and in presenting Christ, his doctrine and ordinances, as taught by the apostles, and his manifested union with the church as the Bridegroom, breaks forth in strains almost seraphic, thus, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth thy handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.” Here the most stupendous, beautiful and amazing glory ever seen by the natural eye, is brought forward as a comparison of the glory of Christ in the church, in their union as bridegroom and bride. The heavens with their constellations, which declare the wisdom, power and glory of the creating God, are referred to, and they are but feeble figures, to portray the glory of God, in the church, through Christ Jesus our Lord. Age after age rolls on, and in all the multitude of planets, sun, moon and stars, no jargon nor failure occurs. Each one travels onward in its allotted path, and owns and proclaims the sovereign hand of God, which not only created them, but which also bears them up, in their onward march, and in the performance of the affairs for which they were severally created. The life and light of patriarchs, prophets, apostles and all christians, dwells in Christ the Sun of righteousness. What power in earth or hell, can retard the march of the sun, or frustrate the office work of his glory, or who, or what can resist the effectual and all-powerful action of his rays? He rises in the east to perform the office of the day, and no earthly power can stop him. Until man can do this, let him not think that he can master or resist Christ, the sun’s maker; for Jesus is no less powerful in one thing than he is in all things. The sun is brought forward as the strongest figure in the creation of God, by which to represent the glory and power of Christ in the church, as her never-failing fountain of light and warmth to every branch and member thereof. As all the smaller lights and planets are dependent for their light on the sun, so is all the church dependent on Christ, who as a bridegroom cometh out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. “Let the Bridegroom go forth of his chamber.” Here we must receive the word chamber in a figurative sense, and consider it in that sense in which the spirit of inspiration has used it. We are not satisfied from the Scriptures, that it is applied to any one act of Christ, or that he should here be separated from the entire race of his Mediatorial goings forth, but rather a place of rest from his goings forth of old, and his work under the law, and that place of rest from whence he comes forth to preside manifestly as Head in the church; for we are not only told of the eternal purpose of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, but we are also informed as to the consummation of it. “To the intent that now unto principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” To what then does this manifold wisdom and purpose refer? To the salvation of the church, which is composed of both Jews and Gentiles, which was not known in other ages, that the Gentiles should be made fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his power in Christ, by the gospel; but when Christ came this truth was made manifest, and he took the church out from among both Jews and Gentiles and into a manifested union with himself. But when was the appointed time for this wedding, as our Lord in one of his parables calls it? The time came on the death of the law, the first husband, and then Christ “the Bridegroom went forth of his chamber,” and we are now introduced to the doctrine of Christ, and the ordinances of the christian, or gospel church. The Bridegroom not only came in accordance with the purpose and covenant of God, but in that purpose and covenant was embraced the appointed way in which he should come, and when and how this manifested union should be consummated. By referring to the Levitical priesthood, we may, perhaps, find some figurative opening to the chamber, and the Bridegroom in his coming forth of it. “For these Levites, the four chief porters, were in their set office, and were over the chambers and treasuries of the house of God, and they lodged round about the house of God, because the charge was upon them, and the opening thereof every morning pertained to them.” We read also in the gospel, of a porter who opened to Christ. As the priesthood made is changed, there is also of necessity a change of the law, and as Christ is the High Priest over a different house, which has different laws, so are all things pertaining to it different. New laws and new ordinances are instituted, and Christ, or the Bridegroom, comes forth in these, and was preceded by the friend of the Bridegroom, even the porter who opened to him, and Jesus was baptized of John the Baptist, in the river of Jordan, and the Bridegroom established this as an ordinance through which believers pass into the visible church here below. We deem the conclusion tenable that this chamber has some reference to that doctrine, and those ordinances in which Christ and the church came together in union and fellowship, as Bridegroom and bride. We believe also that the parable of the ten virgins has an application here. “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins which took their lamps and went forth to meet the Bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five of them were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them. But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.” In the first place then, what is this parable applied to, and upon what subject was the Savior instructing his disciples? We think he was instructing them in relation to that kingdom which he was about to set up in the world, and as it is a spiritual kingdom, he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh, and as forms and ceremonies of the Jews was all the foolish virgins possessed, they could not enter in with the bridegroom to the marriage. An open distinction is now made between law and grace, between Moses and Christ, and none need say now, We have Abraham for our father, for Moses is dead and the fathers are fallen asleep. The time also when the bridegroom came, favors this position also. The cry was at midnight. The legal dispensation is now at an end, and the gospel day is dawning. Midnight closes up the old day, and brings in a new one, and this midnight was the close of the Jewish economy, and the introduction of the christian. In what way then does the bride meet, or go, into the marriage with the bridegroom? Those who do go in with Christ are regenerated persons, born of God, born of the Spirit and water, and have Christ within (the light) the hope of glory. John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. He was the messenger who was sent before the Messenger of the covenant, to prepare the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight. Believers came to him and were baptized, and this ordinance was established as a standing one for all time to come in the church of God, which is the ground and pillar of truth. While it admits all into the visible church who submit to it upon a profession of their faith in Christ, it shuts out all who do not, and the Pharisees rejected the counsel of God against themselves, not being baptized of John. Hence it appears evident to us that the chamber of which the Bridegroom went forth has an important connection, and sustains a close relation, to the doctrine and ordinances of the gospel of Christ. There is a figure found in Nehemiah, which seems to have a bearing upon this point, said Nehemiah, “And I came to Jerusalem, and understood the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God. And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber. Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers; and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense.” Now what is it which separates all the false religious combinations in the world, from the true church in her worship? It is their household stuff, their false doctrine, false ordinances and organizations. If Tobiah is rejected, and not allowed to assist in building the wall, his next effort is to get the chamber of the house furnished with his stuff. But it is the duty of the servants of the Lord to cast it forth into the world from whence it came, and where it belongs. Perhaps David had his eye upon this subject when he said, “Their land brought forth frogs in abundance in the chambers of their kings.” If these frogs, as in other places, represent those unclean spirits which have gone forth into all the earth, we cannot fail to discover the force of its application. They were not brought forth in the chamber of which the bridegroom went forth, but in the chambers of their kings. There never was a scarcity of them, and at this time there is such an abundance of them that they are leaping from swamp to swamp, and from one mud hole to another, and find all the markets already clogged.

But to return to the guest-chamber. It is an upper room, furnished with the vessels and lights, and is where Jesus eats the passover with his disciples. In relation to the chamber of which Christ went forth, we do not wish to confine the expression exclusively to the ordinances and order of the house; but would embrace in a summary manner, his mediatorial work, life, death, resurrection and ascension, and appearing from the holy of holies, and dwelling in his church. But as the expression occurs in the text, there appears to be more particular reference to the manifested union of Christ and the church in gospel order, and the fellowship and enjoyment therein. He went forth and established the things referred to, and they must remain for all time to come, as the established laws and order of the church and her government. When the High Priest under the law had gone into the most holy place, and finished the atonement, he then came out and appeared to the people, and the blessings of that typical atonement were then enjoyed. Christ has not entered into the holy place made with hands, but into heaven itself, to appear in the presence of God for the church, for he entered there by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption for us, and from thence he appears to her. “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” “Let the Bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.” They both went forth at the same time. The apostle has told us that the bride or church is the body of Christ. We have already referred to Adam and Eve, as a figure upon this point. When Adam was formed, Eve was in him, but she was not yet made manifest in her individual person. And it was not the form of a marriage ceremony which constituted their relationship. Their relationship was vital, and consisted in their one life, and it is not the outward act of the marriage of Christ and the church which constitutes their vital union; but their marriage is an acknowledgment and declaration of relationship which existed before time began. This bride was made for the Bridegroom, and she is destined to dwell for a time upon the earth as a bride, to manifest and shew forth the praises of her Lord. She is commanded forth out of her closet, which appears to be a secret place. Yes, she is called out, “O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance.” Here is not only a call or command to her which carries power with it, but the language describes the place where she is. She is in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs. Her life is hid with Christ in God, and in this marriage there is a manifestation of it. But how came she in the clefts of the rock, and in the secret places of the stairs? But even had there been a rock, and no clefts or secret places in it, there would have been no place of refuge and safety in it for the dove, the church. God laid the rock, and made the clefts and secret places of the stairs, and put the church therein, and covered her with his hand while his glory passed by; for he had declared that no man should see his face and live; and being thus secured in Christ, she can talk face to face with God and live. “And it shall come to pass while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in the cleft of a rock, and will cover thee with my hand, while I pass by.” The bride is not commanded to come out of Christ, neither do we understand this rock to be the closet out of which she goes; but it is the place from whence her countenance is seen, and her voice is heard, and she is brought out of the secret places of the stairs, so far that it is made manifest that she is an inhabitant of the rock. The countenance is to be seen, and not covered with the veil. She is to be seen by her husband, not through the veiled drapery of the law, but with open face she beholds the glory of the Lord, and is changed from the image, or glory of the law, into the image and glory of Christ, which bursts from him in floods of ravishing glory. Her countenance is comely: it is like the countenance of the Bridegroom, for she is changed from image to image, into the same glory. And she is now told that the law holds no more dominion over her; that the law is dead, and she is now to look to Christ, the living Husband, for the law has no more dominion over her than the deceased husband, whose body has mouldered to dust, has over the widow who was once his bride. Her husband is dead, and has passed away, and she is therefore loosed from the law of her husband. “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth.” We are thus taught that Christ was made under the law, and remained under it until his death; but having laid down his life in obedience to its demands, and having taken it again, “He has become the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” He arose from the dead, beyond it, and is no more subject to it. “For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now, if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him; knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The church both died and rose in Christ, else what did the apostle mean when he said, “If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him?” Christ is emphatically declared to be the life of the church; and when he laid down his life, he laid down hers; and when he took up his life again, he took up hers also, and the church stands identified with Christ in life, death and resurrection, and all believers are exhorted by the apostle to reckon themselves to be dead with Christ, and alive with him. Now, this being the case, the bride is commanded to go forth out of her closet, and to be joined to another husband (as the law is dead to her,) and live and walk with the Bridegroom, in the doctrine and ordinances of the gospel. “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” The Bridegroom has a house prepared where he dwells with his bride, and she with him. He is the builder of his house, which is the church; and he did not commence it without first counting the cost, and without knowing that he is able to finish it. None will ever be able to say in truth, this man began to build a house, but was not able to finish it. The advocates of the free-will system say that Christ made an atonement sufficient for all mankind, and he has done all he can to save them, but free-will and the devil together have proved too powerful for him, and the house is not as large as it otherwise would have been. They acknowledge that the Scriptures declare that he has all power in heaven and in earth, but somehow or other free agency has gained the ascendency, and the devil is rejoicing over the failure, and Christ is mourning in heaven, because sinners will not be saved. Perhaps it is sin for us to follow the advocates of this system in their consummate ignorance and high-handed blasphemy; we therefore turn from them. The atonement was effectual, and it was perfect in all its propositions for the church; the foundation was designed for the house, and the house for the foundation, and all power in heaven and earth is in the hands of Christ, and is exercised by him in triumph in building this house, which groweth up into an holy temple in the Lord, for an habitation of God through the Spirit. And here the Son presents his bride to the Father without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing. And the Father is well pleased with the bride of his Son, for she is the one whom he hath chosen for his Son Jesus Christ. The Son is well pleased with her, for his love to her was such that he laid down his life for her; and she loves him because he first loved her, and hath given himself for her, redeemed her from all iniquity, hath washed and purified her, and brought her into his banqueting-house, and spread his banner of love over her. He illumes her with his charms, and she sees a loveliness in him which she never saw in any other one, and here, in the house of God, Father, Son and bride dwell in heavenly fellowship and sweet delight. But what is this house for, and of what material is it composed? “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God, by Jesus Christ.” But some people think the church is a place to make christians, or regenerate sinners, and to create organizations and institutions; to devise ways and means for the salvation of the world, and thus help the Lord do his work. The work of salvation is already complete, and what remains is the personal manifestation of it, to the saved. And the church of God is for the offering up of spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Here the bride offers the praise and gratitude of her heart, and such is the glory and love revealed through Christ unto her, that if she were to hold her peace, the stones would cry out. The whole worship of the church is a continual offering of thanksgiving and praise to God and the Lamb. To them are all the ascriptions of praise. The Bridegroom and bride sometimes commune together, and speak face to face. And what do we hear? The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the Bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall sing praise to the Lord of hosts, for the Lord is good, and his mercy endureth forever. Here the Bridegroom and bride dwell and sup together. God in Christ, and Christ in them, and there is a perfection in one, and out of this perfection of beauty hath God shined. The bride says, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels.” Once she could not rejoice, for she was the down-crushed and disconsolate mourner, she was in the dust of the earth, a poor, filthy beggar; but the Lord has taken her from the dust of the earth, and from the dunghill, has clothed her with a change of raiment, seated her among princes, and given her the throne of glory; and now at the King’s right hand sits the queen in the gold of Ophir, and she is to remember her poverty no more, for she is heir of all things. This fills her heart with gratitude to her Lord, and she delights in serving him, for he hath done great things for her, whereof she is glad. She hath neither disposition nor right to usurp authority over her husband, and if she will know anything, she learns of him. She respects his law, rules and government, and would tremble at the thought of instituting laws for him. And while the daughters of Babylon are busily engaged in their ways, and are disregarding the authority and order of Christ, she is seen like the lily among the thorns, and she has no more fellowship for, nor affinity with them, than the lily has to do with producing the fruit of the thornbush; and men do not gather grapes of thorns, nor figs of thistles. The church is not dependent on the world and human means for her support, for she dwells with, and is supported by her husband; and it would be both unchaste and unlawful for her to despise his laws, and look to others for support, while she has a husband who abounds in wealth and love to her. He delights in her: “Let me hear thy voice, for it is sweet.” The high praises of God are in her mouth; she speaks the doctrine of Christ; she tells of his wonderful love and works; she dwells on electing love and comforting grace, and like one of old who had been dumb, when loosed immediately praises God. But what is it to praise God? Is it to tell the world how much she has done for the Lord, and to tell the Lord how much she will do for him? Nothing of this character is found in the theme of the bride. But like the servant of the Lord to whom we have already referred, she praises God and says, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began.” “To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant.” The voice of the bride is heard in the song of redemption, and in praise of covenant mercy received. The bride is also to let her countenance be seen by the Bridegroom. As has been observed, the veil of the law has been taken from her, and she stands before her Lord with open face. But why is her countenance comely? Because it is Christlike; God predestinated the church to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Christ is in every believer the hope of glory, and where he is in person, his image and Spirit will be made manifest. What is it to be a christian? It is to be like Christ. But Adam, or old nature, is quite unlike him. But the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness, is the christian, or that person or image to which the term applies; and he is after the image of him that created him. We have found the “Bridegroom has gone forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet,” and the voice of the Bridegroom, and the voice of the bride have been heard, and the bride is still saying, O come, let us sing unto the Lord, let us make a joyful noise unto the Rock of our salvation. The Bridegroom and the bride have met and are joined in fellowship in the house of God, and the fellowship of the bride is with the Father, and with the Son, and they dwell together in the unity of the Spirit and bonds of peace, and she delights to walk in the doctrine and ordinances of the gospel, in that pattern in ordinances and order which Christ established by his example, and in this she walks humbly with God, and his presence is her greatest joy. But we cannot enjoy his presence in any ordinances or order which he has not established. Although believers may enjoy the joys of salvation, who have not walked in the ordinances, but there is an additional and peculiar delight and enjoyment in keeping the ordinances as they were delivered to us, which is found in no other paths, hence it is said, in keeping the commands there is great reward. The reward is not for keeping the commands, but in the thing itself; and the delight or reward is in it, and not for it. The person who is hungry delights in eating a good meal, and it is the meal itself which gives the delight, and not the act of his eating, for if the meal were poisonous and sickening it could afford him no delight. The bride is disgusted with all human doctrines and ordinances, for they are of earthly origin, and their glory can never rise above their fountain, and they are also, in reality, in opposition to, and at war with, those ordinances which were established, and that doctrine which embraces him whom her soul loves.

Dear brethren, may we ever be enabled to contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the saints, may we stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not again entangled with the yoke of bondage. May we ever be enabled to realize that our Maker is our Husband. May we ever abide in the doctrine of Christ; for he that hath the Father, hath the Son. But if any come unto us having not this doctrine, we are forbidden to receive them into our houses (churches), or to bid them Godspeed; for he that biddeth them Godspeed is partaker of their sins.

Middletown, N. Y.
July 15, 1854.

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 3
Pages 97 - 111