Page images
PDF
EPUB

and patience of hope" evidenced in your conduct, you may from thence assuredly infer “your election of Godk;” since those are indisputably the fruits of his grace; and his grace has been communicated according to his purpose, which " he purposed in Christ Jesus before the world began!”]

3. To regulate the conduct of those whose views are scriptural and just

[" The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom m;" and to get this in a more uniform and abiding exercise, is to be the one object of our lives. It is the beginning and “the conclusion of the whole matter.” Othat this were better understood amongst us! An old writer observes, that religion consists not in Notions, but Motions: and the observation, though quaint, is true. The difference is not always visible at first sight: and the one is often mistaken for the other ; but, if separated, they are as wide asunder as heaven and hell. Let it never be forgotten, that holiness of heart and life is that which constitutes our meetness for heaven; and that it is only by growth in that, that we can ever honour God on earth, or secure the enjoyment of him in a better world.]

k 1 Thess. i. 3, 4.

1 2 Tim. i. 9, Jer. xxxi. 3, m Ps. cxi. 10,

CAN TIC L E S.

DCCCXLVIII.

THE CHURCH'S LOVE TO CHRIST. Cant. i. 3, 4. Thy name is as ointment poured forth; therefore do

the virgins love thee. Draw me: we will run after thee.

THIS divine song was admitted into the sacred canon soon after the Babylonish captivity (most probably by Ezra,) and has been admitted both by Jews and Christians from that time as constituting an important part of the inspired volume. It is called the Song of Songs, because of its peculiar excellence, there being no other to be compared with it, as delineating and describing the love which subsists between Christ and his Church. There are indeed similar images used in other parts of holy writ, and particularly in the 45th Psalm; but there is a richness and variety in this, by which it is pre-eminently distinguished. True it is, that the representations contained in it render it unfit for the carnal eye, which would be more likely to be injured by it, through the influence of a polluted imagination, than to derive from it the good which to a spiritually enlightened mind it is calculated to convey. Many of the expressions, which, at the time they were written, were clear and intelligible, are, for want of a more intimate knowledge of the various circumstances which would elucidate them, inexplicable to us : but the general purport of the whole is evident enough: it is a kind of allegory written in the form of a pastoral poem,

in which different persons are introduced, and bear a part, relieving, as it were, occasionally, the dialogue betwixt Christ and his Church; the one under the character of a Bridegroom; and the other, of a Bride, espoused to him in this world, and waiting for the consummation of her nuptials in the world to come.

The abruptness with which the poem opens is very remarkable. The spouse, having her mind full of her Beloved, breaks forth without any mention of his name, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth." She is ready to think that the minds of all must of necessity be occupied with his excellencies, and must therefore of necessity know to whom she refers. She then commends “ his love, as better,” and more exhilarating, “ than wine, because of the savour of his good ointmentsa;” and assigns this as the reason of her love towards him, and her ardent desire after him.

These are the two points for our consideration at this time : I. The reason of the Church's love to Christ“ His name is as ointment poured forth”.

[A rich ointment poured forth will fill a whole house with its odour, so that all who are within it shall be refreshed with its fragrance: and such is the delight which the whole Church derives from the mention of the name of her Beloved.

Consider his name, “ Emmanuel :" it was a name given him eight hundred years before he came into the world : and the interpretation of that name is given us by the sacred historian, that we may know all the riches of grace and love contained in it. Its import is, “ God with us." Wonderful name! God, “the mighty God,” with us, worms of the earth ; with us, who have been all our days rebels against his Divine Majesty, and who might well have expected to have been made everlasting monuments of his righteous indignation. respect indeed he might bear that name, even in the regions of darkness and misery: since he is there by his power inflicting his heavy judgments on all who inhabit those dreary mansions: but he is with us by his love ; yea, he is with us in our very nature; “bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh;" God and man in one person! Stupendous mystery! Can it be so? Is it true, that the God of heaven and earth has so condescended to assume our nature, and to sojourn upon earth, that he might commend himself to us as our Beloved ? Say, ye who have any spiritual senses, does not a fragrance go forth at this name Emmanuel, sufficient to fill the whole universe with its odours ? But take another name, the name of “ Jesus.” This was

a That seems the more proper place for the stop. b John xii 3.

c Matt. i. 23.

And a

given him by the Angel, when he was conceived in the womb; and the giving it was considered as a completion of the prophecy that assigned to him the name Emmanuel 4. fulfilment of the prophecy it was; for “ Jesus" is Jah Hosea, or Divine Saviour. 'Here, in addition to his Godhead, as united to the manhood, we have the end of his incarnation plainly announced: it was, to save a ruined world: yes," he came, not to condemn the world, but that through him," even through his meritorious blood and righteousness, “the world might be saved.” Think of this, ye who have destroyed your own souls, and are trembling for fear of the Divine judgments : your God has become a man, on purpose that he might fulfil the law which you have broken, and endure the curse which you have merited; and by this substitution of himself in your place, might deliver you from death and hell, and make you partakers of his own eternal kingdom and glory. Does not this name refresh and animate your souls ? Can

you

hear it without receiving from it sensations which it is not in the

power of language to express?

Consider yet one other name, that name whereby we are particularly instructed to call him, “ The Lord our Righteousness." Here you have the same blessed intimations as in the former names, respecting his Godhead, and the gracious ends of his incarnation ; with this additional suggestion, that his righteousness was wrought out for you, yea, that he himself is your Righteousness. A creature's righteousness would not have sufficed for you: you needed the righteousness of God himself: and God himself has become a man, that in your nature he might work out a righteousness, that should be imputed to you, and put upon you, and constitute your justifying righteousness at the bar of judgment. Tell me, Brethren, can you hear this unmoved? What spiritual perception can you have, if you are not even ravished with delight at the sound of such a name as this? Surely it is the out-pouring of this ointment that makes heaven to be the place it is: yea, to be within the reach of this atmosphere, is heaven.

We forbear to mention any other of his glorious names, lest we distract your attention by the variety": sufficient have been mentioned to justify the Church's attachment to this adorable Saviour.]

On account of the fragrance diffused by his name, “ the virgins love him”—

[By " the virgins" we understand, all that are "pure in heart," and have been betrothed to him in righteousness and truths.” Of all such the Apostle says, "I have espoused you & Matt. i. 21-23. e Jer. xxiii. 6. f See Isai, ix. 6.

8 Hos. ii. 19, 20.

to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christh." These all love the Lord Jesus Christ. In the eyes of others, this adorable Being has "no beauty or comeliness for which to be desiredi:" but in the eyes of the Church " he is truly precious k," “ fairer than ten thousand,” and “altogether lovely:" and the one desire of her heart is, to be able to say, “ This is my Friend and my Beloved!." in comparison of him, all other suitors are utterly despised. The whole universe presents no other object to her view that deserves a thought: the constant state of her soul towards him is, “ How great is thy goodness! how great is thy beauty m!” “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside theen.” Sweet as created excellencies once appeared to her, she has now no eye to see them, no taste to enjoy them. She is altogether occupied with the savour of her Beloved's name, the perfume of which makes every other odour worthless at least, if not nauseous and offensive. In a word, so entirely does this beloved object fill her soul, that with him a dungeon would be heaven; and without him, heaven itself would be a dungeon or a desert.]

From hence naturally follows, II. Her ardent desire after him

Conscious that his gifts are his own, and that without his gracious assistance she can do nothing, she presents before him, 1. Her supplication

[Our blessed Lord himself has said, " No man can come unto me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw himo.” And this total insufficiency for every thing that is good, the Church confesses in this short but ardent petition," Draw me!” None but Jesus himself can open for us the box in which this ointment is contained, or give the spiritual perception whereby alone its fragrance can be discovered. How many, in the days of his flesh, were rather incensed against him, than drawn to him, by all the wonders of his love! and how many at this day are like the idols which they worship! “they have eyes, and see not; ears, and hear not; noses, and smell 'not p.” But these have had spiritual senses given unto them; and therefore they pant after communion with their blessed Lord.

Observe, it is not the carnal unregenerate man alone that needs to offer this petition: it is here offered by “the virgins," “the upright?,” who already love their Lord; and it is necessary

h 2 Cor. xi. 2.
i Cant. v. 10, 16.
o John vi. 44,

i Isai. liii. 2.
m Zech. ix. 17.
P Ps. cxv. 5-8.

k 1 Pet. ii. 7.
n Ps. lxxiii. 25.
9 See the close of ver. 4.

« PreviousContinue »