“For your Maker is your husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and your Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.” — Isa 54:5
As in the marriage union man and wife become one flesh, and, God having joined them together, no man may put them asunder, so when the Lord Jesus Christ, in “the everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure,” betrothed the Church unto himself, they became before the face of heaven, one in indissoluble ties. As he undertook in “the fullness of time” to be “made of a woman,” she became one with him in body by virtue of a common nature; and becomes one with him in spirit when, as each individual member comes forth into a time state, the blessed Spirit unites it to him by regenerating grace. Such is the testimony of the word of truth. “We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones;” “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.” Her union, therefore, with his flesh ensures to her body conformity in the resurrection morn to the glorified body of Jesus; and her union with his spirit ensures to her soul an eternity of bliss in the perfection of knowledge, holiness, and love. Thus the union of the Church with Christ commenced in the councils of eternal wisdom and love, is made known upon earth by regenerating grace, and is perfected in heaven in the fullness of glory.
The Church, it is true, fell in Adam from that state of innocence and purity in which she was originally created. But how the Adamic fall, in all its miserable consequences, instead of canceling the bond and disannulling the everlasting covenant, only served more fully and gloriously to reveal and make known the love of Christ to his chosen bride in all its breadth and length and depth and height! She fell, it is true, into unspeakable, unfathomable depths of sin and misery, guilt and crime; but she never fell out of his heart or out of his arms.
Yet what without the fall would have been known of dying love or of the mystery of the cross! Where would have been the song of the redeemed, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood?” Where the victory over death and hell, or the triumphs of super-abounding grace over the aboundings of sin, guilt, and despair? Where would have been the “leading captivity captive,” the “spoiling principalities and powers, and making a show of them openly, triumphing over them in himself?” What would have been known of that most precious attribute of God, mercy? What of his forbearance and long-suffering; what of his pitiful compassion to the poor, lost children of men?
As then the Church’s head and husband could not and would not dissolve the union, break the covenant, or alter the thing that had gone out of his lips, and yet could not take her openly unto himself in all her filth, and guilt, and shame, he had to redeem her with his own heart’s blood, with agonies and sufferings such as earth or heaven never before witnessed, with those dolorous cries under the hidings of his Father’s face, which made the earth to quake, the rocks to rend, and the sun to withdraw its light. But his love was strong as death, and he endured the cross, despising the shame, bearing her sins in his own body on the tree, and thus suffering the penalty due to her crimes, reconciled her unto God “in the body of his flesh, through death, to present her holy; and unblameable, and unreproveable in his sight.”
Having thus reconciled her unto God, as she comes forth from the womb of time, he visits member after member of his mystical body with his regenerating grace, that “he may sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,” and thus eventually “present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.”