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knowledge than that which has been wrought into our own experience, is of any use ; at least, not for the Christian's own benefit. Hear then the Church's happy experience; "I sat down under his shadow with great delight; and his fruit was sweet unto my taste.” The Believer has come to Christ weary and heavy-laden with a sense of his sins, and has found rest unto his soul. Like the traveller fainting beneath the intense heat of a vertical sun, he has sought the shade in Christ Jesus, who has approved himself all-sufficient, even like “ the shadow of a great rock in a weary land?" Of his fruits too does the Believer eat in a rich abundance. O! how sweet is his doning love to the soul, when he says, “Thy sins are forgiven thee; go in peace !” Who can describe the blessedness of that peace which proceeds from him ; from Him who said, "My peace I give unto you?” Truly it is "a peace that passeth all understanding. As for the joy with which these manifestations are accompanied, it is “ unspeakable and glorified.” How can a soul feel any thing but exquisite “ delight," when thus favoured with “ the spirit of adoption,” yea, “ the witness of the Spirit” also attesting its relation to Christ," sealing it unto the day of redemption,” and giving it even now
an earnest" and a foretaste “of its heavenly inheritance?” Such are the fruits of which every one shall eat, who sits under the shadow of the Lord Jesus ; and “sweet shall they be unto his taste," even “sweeter than honey or the honey-comb.") Having no fear that either of these testimonies shall
ever be set aside, we ground upon them a word
of EXHORTATION 1. Let us contemplate the excellencies of the Lord Jesus
[There is not any thing in the world which may not serve to illustrate his beauty: for, in fact, all created excellencies are but rays of his glory, and stars twinkling with his reflected splendour. We do not think enough of him: we can admire beauty in the creature, but have no eyes to behold it in Him who is the centre and source of all. Did we but duly reflect on him, we should pant after an union with him; and despise every thing else in comparison of him. “All other knowledge would be to us but as dross and dung.” Truly “ his name is as ointment poured forth; and therefore do the virgins love himm.” Say, Believer, Is he not“ precious” to thy soul"? O that every one amongst us would be persuaded to go into this garden, and compare the fragrance of this "rose," and the purity of this “ lily,” with all that ever his eyes beheld, or his most impassioned sense experienced ! O that all might "behold his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father;" "the brightness of whose glory he is, and the express image of his person!” The effect of such a sight cannot be conceived by those who never yet beheld it: for we should be constrained by it to cry out, “How great is his goodness! how great is his beauty P!” and, whilst beholding his glory, we should be
1 Isai. xxv. 4. and xxxii. 2.
m Cant. i. 3.
n 1 Pet. ii. 7.
changed into his image, from glory to glory, by the Spirit of our God." Go, beloved, into the holy mount, and converse with him; and you shall come down, like Moses, irradiated with the beams of his glory. Be conversant with this “ lily," and ye shall become “silies” yourselves.] 2. Let us receive kindly his overtures
[We have before shewn, that this is a dialogue between Christ as a Bridegroom, and the Church as his Spouse. Into this relation Christ is desirous to bring us all. We come in his name, to invite you all to unite yourselves with him; we come, that we may "present every soul among you as a chaste virgin to Christ"." Hear the invitation given, as it were, from his own lips: “I will betroth thee unto me for ever : yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies: I will betroth thee unto me in faithfulness, and thou shalt know the Lords." Beloved Brethren, Who is there that has such a title to your affections as He? Who can make you so happy as He? Have not all other sources of comfort proved as a broken cisterns, that can hold no water ?” Why then will ye not "come to the fountain of living waters ?".
Say not, “I am unworthy of this high honour.” Who is not unworthy? Who could ever have obtained it by any worthiness of his own ? Every creature that was ever united to him was first a wretched, helpless outcast, like thyselft: and, if thou desire an union with him, be assured that “ he will never cast thee out.” Only " come to his banqueting-house, and his banner over thee shall be love."] 3. Let us duly estimate our privileges
[The happiness of the soul that is united unto Christ, no words can declare, no imagination can conceive. Only hear the terms in which He and his Spouse speak of each other : her he calls, “My Love:" and of him she speaks in that endearing term, “My Beloved." Think, for a moment, what immense, what inconceivable privileges are implied in these terms, whether as applied by him to us, or by us to him! Whatever he is, he is for you: whatever he has, he possesses for
o John i. 14. Heb. i. 3. p Zech. ix. 17. 9 2 Cor. üi. 18. I 2 Cor. xi. 2. s Hos. ii. 19, 20. t Ezek. xvi. 4-8. u ver. 4.
you: whatever he does, he does for you; whatever he enjoys, he enjoys as your Head, your Representative, your Forerunner: "The glory which his Father has given him, He has given you." You may enjoy earthly sweets, and they will cloy; yea, the most fragrant rose will fade. Not so “ the Rose of Sharon :" its fragrance will be undiminished to all eternity. You may sit under the shadow of other trees, and their foliage shall fail ; yea, like Jonah's gourd, they may wither in a night: but not so " the apple-tree that grows in the midst of the Paradise of God :" there is no worm at the root of that: its benign influence shall endure for ever: and its delicious fruits be ever new.
Make then these things your own, by “ apprehending Christ,” and giving yourselves up to him : for “all things are yours, if ye be Christ's.” Only“ taste, and see, how gracious the Lord is:" and having once“ tasted that the Lord is gracious, you will never rest till you can say “My Beloved is mine, and I am his.”] 4. Let us walk worthy of our high relation
[If one be brought into union with an earthly monarch, she feels an obligation to conduct herself henceforth in a way suited to her high calling. And shall not we, when united to "the King of kings ?" Yes: we must resemble him, and exhibit, according to the measure of the grace conferred upon us, the mind that was in him. Let us especially resemble him in his humility and purity. We are not indeed to "bow down our heads as a bulrush,” as if we were in a pitiable and disconsolate state : but to bow our heads as “the lily," is our beauty and our excellence. Never does the Christian look so beautiful as when he is “ low in his own eyes.” Surely whatever have been done for us, and in us, we must still to our latest hour “walk humbly with God.” We must also be pure and spotless as the lily; yea, "blameless and harmless as the sons of God.” We must not be contented with low attainments; but must seek to "walk worthy of the Lord himself," " whose we are, and whom we profess to serve." Let this be the one object of our ambition : and, as we profess to surpass every flower of the field in fragrance and beauty, let us so live, that we may not fear a comparison with any of the sons of men. Let us not be found vain boasters of privileges that are merely ideal : but, whilst we profess to enjoy so much in and through the Lord Jesus, let it be seen, that, “having this hope, we do indeed purify ourselves, even as he is pure x."]
x 1 John iii. 3.
PERSEVERANCE CROWNED WITH SUCCESS. Cant. iii. 144. By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul
loveth ; I sought him, but I found him not. I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth : I sought him, but I found him not. The watchmen that go about the city found me : to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth? It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth : I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.
ONE peculiar excellence of the Song of Solomon is, that it delineates with admirable beauty and precision the workings of the believer's soul under all the varieties of Christian experience. In the first conversion of the soul, God communicates his blessings unsolicited, unsought; so that it may be justly said, “He is found of them that sought him nota :” but in our subsequent walk with God, we may sometimes find occasion to complain, “ I sought him, but I found him not.” Thus it was with the Bride in the passage before us: and her conduct under these circumstances is instructive, as the issue of it is encouraging to the Church of God in all ages. In our remarks on the Bride's experience, we shall notice,
1. Her persevering exertions
When it is said, “ By night on my bed I sought him," we are not to take the words in a literal, but figurative sense, as expressing the cold and listless way in which the Bride had sought her Beloved: and it is no wonder that, when sought in such a way, he did not vouchsafe to manifest himself unto her. Disappointed in her hopes, “she rose, and went about the city, seeking him in the streets and broad ways,” accounting no time unseasonable, no labour too great, for the attainment of an object so dear to her as a sight of her Beloved. Still however her labour was in vain : “she sought him, but found him not.” And
a Isai. lxv. 1.
thus the Lord Jesus Christ still frequently for a season suspends the manifestations of his love, and leaves in darkness the soul that seeks him. This he does, 1. To correct our lukewarmness
[Lukewarmness in his people is most offensive to him ; and, when indulged, “grieves his Spirit,” and provokes him to hide his face from us. He has told us in the Prophets, that we must not expect to “find him, unless we seek him with our whole hearts." How solemn is that warning which he has given in his Gospel; "Strive to enter in at the strait gate : many
shall seek to enter in, and shall not be abled." What wonder is it therefore if he punish our sloth by a long suspension of his visits, and make us to eat of the bitter fruit of our own ways ? By such a dispensation he plainly says to us, “Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken me, when I led thee by the way? Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy Gode."] 2. To stimulate our desires after him—
[Our souls ought to “pant after him, as the hart after the water-brooks ;” yea, they should " break for the very fervent desire which we have towards him?,” But if a listless and inoperative wish would suffice, we should never exert ourselves as we ought. Had the Bride succeeded by seeking her Beloved on her bed, she would never have risen to seek him in the streets of the city: and, if we could attain in a way of selfindulgence the rewards of self-denying exertion, we should be too ready to say to our souls, “ Soul, take thine ease." But our Lord has told us, that his favour is not to be sought in such a way as that: he has said, that “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence; and that the violent must take it by force:" and he withholds from us the manifestations of his love, on purpose that he may quicken us in our pursuit of him, and stimulate us to put forth into activity the devoutest energies of our souls.] 3. To endear his presence to us
[To the temporary loss which the Bride had sustained must be ascribed the zeal with which she afterwards held fast her Beloved : and we well know how the Courts of the Lord were endeared to David by his long banishment from them, under the persecutions of Saul, and during the rebellion of Absalom. And, no doubt, in proportion as we are led into
b Rev. iii. 16..
c Jer. xxix. 12, 13.
d Luke xiii. 24. 6 llos. v. 15.