"Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; . . that he might present it to himself a glorious church, . . holy and without blemish." (Eph. 5:25.27)
Without romance our records of history would be bare and colorless; yea, cold and cheerless, and apart from the wellspring of love, romance is an utter impossibility. Love has been the chief factor in promoting the fame of unswerving fidelity to right, in producing the charm of unflinching constancy in purpose, in providing the banner of unfurled bravery in danger, in preparing the heart for unwavering humility in service, in perfecting the strength of an unshakable stability in ambition, and in perpetuating the mien of unblemished majesty in administration. Yea, love has forever been the principal force which has constrained the deepest devotion and loyalty in the performance of unselfish duties.
The spirit of romance breathes throughout the Bible. If, as some affirm, "Distance only lends enchantment," then here we have it, "Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off." (Isa. 33:17)
When the soul contemplates the beauty of the coming King, the royalty of His divine nature, the majesty of His imperial strength, and the glory of Emmanuel's Land, the thoughts of such realities captivate the entire vision, absorb the keenest interest, and grip the very life with a radiant expectation, vibrant with hope.
On the other hand, is it the charm of personality that attracts? Then herein we are introduced to One Who is "altogether lovely," "the chiefest among ten thousand." (Song of Songs, 5:10, 16) This description that is given of the Beloved in the Song of Songs includes every expressive feature of His personal charm from His head to His feet. Reference is made to His ruddy face, His renowned head, His resistless eyes, His rosy cheeks, His refined lips, His resourceful hands, His resplendent body, His regal legs, His royal nature and His redolent mouth.
In this incomparable portrayal of exquisite beauty, the head of the Beloved is described as "most fine gold," His hands are declared to be "as gold rings," while His feet are likened to "sockets of gold." (vs. 11:14,15) The symbolism indicates that in wisdom, work and walk Messiah is perfect. He is "chiefest" as the famous Lord of Lords, and He is "altogether lovely" as the faultless Lover of Lovers Who never proves false or fickle. His head, hands and habits are unimpeachable.
Or again we may consider the unrivaled grandeur and unparalleled splendor of His personal attributes from the description given in the great unveiling so memorable and magnificent. (See Rev. 1:12-16.) Here Christ is depicted:
With such incomparable credentials Christ is fully qualified to fulfill all that He decrees and decides. Let us remember He originates the duration of the ages, He orders the course of history, He ordains the sequence of empires, He oversees the entire universe, He overturns the opposing forces and He overrules the destiny of all things, yea, "There is no searching of his understanding." (Isa. 40:28)
What a vista of romance is opened to the mind in the thought of sharing a home with Christ beyond the hills and the horizon! A mansion beyond the mists and the mountains! A possession beyond the plains and the planets! A society beyond the stars and the sky! A dominion beyond the darkness and death! A state of bliss beyond the sun and the shadows! A titled inheritance beyond the trials and the tribulation of time! A Paradise beyond the perils and pains of the present era! Verily, verily, and of being united to the immortal Bridegroom in a life beyond the losses and limitations of this sense.bound earth!
We have the assurance of "an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven" for us. The cadences of poetry have expressed it in the words:
In every environment of life there is some feature to promote romance. The beauty of the world invokes it, the glory of the sky inspires it, the symmetry of the flowers incites it, the fidelity of love inflames it, the pleasantry of adventure invites it, the ancestry of fame impels it, the history of heroes instills it, the prophecy of reality interprets it, the felicity of joy implies it, and the verity of truth insists that it must be, for the revelation itself unveils the profoundest of romances.
We are not dealing with any localized idea that sprang up like a mushroom of yesterday to perish tomorrow, but with a divine purpose which had a dwelling.place long ages ago in the mind of God and in the heart of Christ.
By virtue of the recordings of so many of the arresting adventures and remarkable experiences encountered by soldiers, sailors and sentinels, we are liable to limit romance to some special stand made in defensive strategy, or in dangerous surroundings. Under such tension, when challenged by exciting and exacting circumstances, special chivalry and virility are very essential.
One of the greatest and most romantic figures to cross the stage of history was the French maiden, Joan of Arc. Tall and handsome, with great force of personality, splendid courage and genius of character, she changed the face of the war between England and France in April, 1429, and in May of the following year turned the tide of victory in the capture of Compiegne. When frustrated in her ultimate aim of complete conquest she said she had seen the work of Heaven prevented by the unworthiness of men.
Another instance of romance is expressed in the life of Elizabeth Fry, who, in February, 1813, visited Newgate prison in London, and saw over three hundred women, many of whom had young children with them, huddled together in a deplorable state. The zealous manner in which she set about to remedy this blot on national administration gave her a place among the heroines of the Empire.
Grace Darling, the daughter of the lighthouse keeper on Longstone, one of the Farne Islands, attained far.reaching fame because of her rescue of the shipwrecked mariners from the "Forfarshire" before dawn on the 7th of September, 1838.
History is full of sensational records in this field, but let us include a paragraph concerning Florence Nightingale, who bound up the war-wounds of the world, for her case is worthy of mention. Keenly interested as a girl in the alleviation of suffering, she had opportunity to express her unwearying devotion in this very ministry at Scutari in the Crimea in 1854.5 when over ten thousand sick and wounded were brought under her care. Later in life, when surrounded with highest Empire honors, she was one who assisted in founding the world-famous Red Cross Society.
Time would fain tell of Queen Esther, the heroine, who ventured her own life in an overwhelming passion to save her beloved people, and foiled a master foe in his campaign of cruel revenge. A rainbow of beauty and blessing enshrines the memory of these noble souls. Heaven is sweeter and earth is richer by virtue of their having lived, loved and labored.
However, this soul.stirring and captivating reality is not confined merely to thrilling events that take place amid the clash of steel, dash of foes, flash of guns, smash of bombs, slash of sword, lash of storm, splash of foam or crash of disaster. Even in the hush of solitude or flush of dawn, romance may be encountered.
The Scriptures reveal that the greatest of all romances preceded time and temporal things altogether, for they tell of a plan purposed in Christ Jesus before the world was.
How transporting it is to think that the eternal Son of God should purpose to select His society from a sin.stained sorrow.stricken humanity, yea, from a realm where every virtuous feature was blighted with evil!
The apostle John discloses the secret of the most amazing betrothal when he says, "Perfect love casteth out fear." He is referring to the Son's perfect love toward the sons and daughters who comprise His society, and who share His Heavenly Home. How astounding the thought that He, Who is the fairest of the fair in beauty, the loveliest of the true in fidelity, the mightiest of the strong in sincerity, the holiest of the pure in sanctity, the wealthiest of the rich in dignity, the gentlest of the great in ministry, the choicest of the good in piety and the noblest of the brave in victory, "loved the church and gave Himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it ... that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Eph. 5:25-27)
Only the deathless glories of an ageless Christ could impart such flawless beauties to a faultless bride and prepare her to share the fadeless realities of an endless kingdom.
Let us take time to inhale the fragrance of this garden of God where unwithering flowers, which drape the environs, pour forth their odoriferous perfume to meet and greet the redeemed in a perfect Paradise of love eternal, where the realities of romance are replete. "This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church." (Eph. 5:32)
Within the precincts of the many mansions reside the pleasures of God's right hand and joys for evermore.
Christ is both the Originator of creation and the Ordainer of redemption. In view of His precedence He is before all, and in His permanence He is beyond all others. These remarkable features of His character decide once and for ever that He is not a personage of the past nor a potentate of long.since perished fame, but a living Lord and loving Bridegroom Who abides in the power of an endless life. By virtue of His unchanging faithfulness He is most observant, patient and considerate in all His dealings with His people. No one else is more consistent as a companion than He, no one is more competent as a counselor and no one is more complacent as a caretaker. Christ is so intent as an intercessor, so fervent as a friend, so guardant as a guide and so radiant as a Redeemer, "There is none like Him." (I Sam. 10: 24)
In the majestic countenance of this Bridegroom, the mystery of beauty is manifest at its best and stateliest. The radiance of the divine luster beams forth in all the richness of moral goodness with a perfectly blended brilliance beautiful to behold. A boundless prospect lies before us of gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord when we shall all be changed into the same image from glory to glory. One great purpose of redemption is stated as being conformed to the image of the Son. (Rom. 8:29) "For if we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." (I Cor. 15:49) "We are heirs of hopes too fair and holy for them to turn out false." - Browning. "For if the earthly house of this tent be dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." (II Cor. 5:1)
Oh radiant hour, the Son of Man returns!
Our Bridegroom comes for Whom affection yearns,
Millions ascend to meet earth's matchless King,
Who breaks all bondage and removes death's sting.
The trump of God, whose blast the signal.sound
Re.echoes through each land the world around.
Conquerors and kings must bow to sov'reign sway,
Our Lord shall wipe all tyranny away.
The thunder clouds reverberate their clash
With dazzling brilliance of the light'ning's flash.
The Day of God, august in its display
Shall usher in the kingdom's perfect day.
Astounded earthly empires all inert,
The righteous Lord shall now His will assert,
The keys of death and hell are His by right,
Emblazoned emblems of the Victor's might.
Fair Star of morning, Splendor of the East,
Heaven's Prince of Peace, by Whom we are released,
A glorious crest is graven on His breast,
"The Word of God" "The Lord of Hosts," our Rest.
National hate and racial strife are past,
A unified new order dawns at last,
Beneath one scepter all earth's pow'rs subdued,
Thy ransomed saints are perfectly renewed.
Behold, what bliss in tranquil joy profound,
The sweetest praises everywhere resound!
Great throngs applaud, the new creation sings
To honor Christ, the mighty "King of Kings."