Monday, March 26, 2007

A Fountain Sealed - Spiritual Ordinances

In Song of Solomon 4:12 the church is compared to a garden shut up, a fountain sealed, which is to be understood not only in respect of the defence and protection God vouchsafes to His church (that none can destroy her) but also, because strangers and wicked men are not able to drink of her delicacies, or smell of her sweetness.

A spiritual sermon is a fountain sealed up; the spiritual administration of a sacrament is a garden enclosed. Superficial Christians understand not nor perceive the full sweetness thereof. There were many people in a throng and crowd about our Saviour, but only the infirm woman felt the efficacy come from Him. Although many may attend the ordinances, frequent the assemblies, few find the inward power of Christ derived unto their souls.

As, therefore, Thomas, though spoken wrongly on a false ground, said he would not believe Christ to be risen unless he saw His wounds and put his fingers into them, so neither must you believe your estate to be good and sound, unless you may see and feel the efficacy of Christ in His ordinances upon thee.

Anthony Burgess

Burgess was a member of the Westminster Assembly and wrote at least a dozen books that were based largely on his sermons and lectures. This extract is from a sermon contained in his major work, Spiritual Refining, a massive, two-volume work of 1100 pages that has been called an 'unequalled anatomy of experimental religion'.