"Till He come"  "TILL HE COME."

                    COMMUNION MEDITATIONS

                             AND

                          ADDRESSES

                             BY

                        C. H. SPURGEON.

   (Not published in _The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit_.)

                             1896.
 
 
 
 

                        PREFATORY NOTE.

     For many years, whether at home or abroad, it was Mr.
Spurgeon's constant custom to observe the ordinance of the Lord's
supper every Sabbath-day, unless illness prevented. This he
believed to be in accordance with apostolic precedent; and it was
his oft-repeated testimony that the more frequently he obeyed his
Lord's command, "This do in remembrance of Me," the more precious
did his Saviour become to him, while the memorial celebration
itself proved increasingly helpful and instructive as the years
rolled by.
     Several of the discourses here published were delivered to
thousands of communicants in the Metropolitan Tabernacle, while
others were addressed to the little companies of Christians,--of
different denominations, and of various nationalities,--who
gathered around the communion table in Mr. Spurgeon's sitting-room
at Mentone. The addresses cover a wide range of subjects; but all
of them speak more or less fully of the great atoning sacrifice of
which the broken bread and the filled cup are the simple yet
significant symbols.
     Mr. Spurgeon's had intended to publish a selection of his
Communion Addresses; so this volume may be regarded as another of
the precious literary legacies bequeathed by him to his brethren
and sisters in Christ who have yet to tarry a while here below. It
is hoped that these sermonettes will be the means of deepening the
spiritual life of many believers, and that they will suggest
suitable themes for meditation and discourse to those who have the
privilege and responsibility of presiding at the ordinance.
 

                          CONTENTS.
 

Mysterious Visits.
     "Thou hast visited me in the night."--Psalm xvii. 3.

"Under His Shadow."
     "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall
          abide under the shadow of the Almighty "--Psalm xci. 1.
     "The shadow of a great rock in a weary land."--Isa. xxxii. 2.
     "As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my
          Beloved among the sons. I sat down under His shadow with
          great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste:"
          Solomon's Song ii. 3.
     "Because Thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of
          Thy wings will I rejoice."--Psalm lxiii. 7.
     "And He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow
          of His hand hath He hid me, and made me a polished
          shaft; in His quiver hath He hid me."--Isa. xlix. 2.

Under the Apple Tree.
     "I sat down under His shadow with great delight, and His
          fruit was sweet to my taste."--Solomon's Song ii. 3.

Over the Mountains.
     "My Beloved is mine, and I am His: He feedeth among the
          lilies. Until the day break, and the shadows flee away,
          turn, my Beloved, and be Thou like a roe or a young hart
          upon the mountains of Bether."--Solomon's Song ii. 16,
          17.

Fragrant Spices from the Mountains of Myrrh.
     "Thou art all fair, My love; there is no spot in thee."--
          Solomon's Song iv. 7.

The Well-beloved.
     "Yea, He is altogether lovely."--Solomon's Song v. 16.

The Spiced Wine of my Pomegranate.
     "I would cause Thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of
          my pomegranate."--Solomon's Song viii. 2.
     "And of His fulness have all we received, and grace for
          grace,"--John i. 16.

The Well-beloved's Vineyard.
     "My Well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill."--
          Isaiah v. 1.

Redeemed Souls Freed from Fear.
     "Fear not: for I have redeemed thee."--Isaiah xliii. 1.

Jesus, the Great Object of Astonishment.
     "Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently, He shall be exalted
          and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonied at
          Thee; His visage was so marred more than any man, and
          His form more than the sons of men: so shall He sprinkle
          many nations, the kings shall shut their mouths at Him:
          for that which had not been told them shall they see;
          and that which they had not heard shall they consider."
          --Isaiah lii. 13-15.

Bands of Love; or, Union to Christ.
     "I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I
          was to them as they that take off the yoke on their
          jaws, and I laid meat unto them."--Hosea xi. 4.

"I will Give you Rest."
     "I will give you rest."--Matthew xi. 28.

The Memorable Hymn.
     "And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount
          of Olives."--Matthew xxvi. 30.

Jesus Asleep on a Pillow.
     "And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a
          pillow: and they awake Him, and say unto Him, Master,
          carest Thou not that we perish? And He arose, and
          rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be
          still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great
          calm."--Mark iv. 38, 39.

Real Contact with Jesus.
     "And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched Me: for I perceive
          that virtue is gone out of Me."--Luke viii. 46.

Christ and His Table-companions.
      "And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve
          apostles with Him."--Luke xxii. 14.

A Word from the Beloved's Own Mouth.
     "And ye are clean."--John xiii. 10.

The Believer not an Orphan.
     "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you."--John
          xiv. 18.

Communion with Christ and His People.
     "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion
          of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it
          not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being
          many are one bread, and one body: for we are all
          partakers of that one bread."--1 Cor. x. 16, 17.
 

The Sin-Bearer.
     "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree,
          that we, being dead to sins, should live unto
          righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye
          were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto
          the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."--1 Peter ii. 24,
          25.

Swooning and Reviving at Christ's Feet.
     "And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid
          His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am
          the first and the last: I am He that liveth, and was
          dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen: and
          have the keys of hell and of death."--Revelation i. 17,
          18.

C.H. Spurgeon's Communion Hymn
 
 
 

                      MYSTERIOUS VISITS.

            AN ADDRESS TO A LITTLE COMPANY AT THE
                  COMMUNION TABLE AT MENTONE.

     "Thou hast visited me in the night."--Psalm xvii. 3.
 

IT is a theme for wonder that the glorious God should visit sinful
man. "What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of
man, that Thou visitest him?" A divine visit is a joy to be
treasured whenever we are favoured with it. David speaks of it
with great solemnity. The Psalmist was not content barely to
_speak_ of it; but he wrote it down in plain terms, that it might
be known throughout all generations: "_Thou hast visited me in the
night_." Beloved, if God has ever visited you, you also will
marvel at it, will carry it in your memory, will speak of it to
your friends, and will record it in your diary as one of the
notable events of your life. Above all, you will speak of it to
God Himself, and say with adoring gratitude, "Thou hast visited me
in the night." It should be a solemn part of worship to remember
and make known the condescension of the Lord, and say, both in
lowly prayer and in joyful psalm, "Thou hast visited me."
     To you, beloved friends, who gather with me about this
communion table, I will speak of my own experience, nothing
doubting that it is also yours. If our God has ever visited any of
us, personally, by His Spirit, two results have attended the
visit: _it has been sharply searching, and it has been sweetly
solacing_.
     When first of all the Lord draws nigh to the heart, the
trembling soul perceives clearly the searching character of His
visit. Remember how Job answered the Lord: "I have heard of Thee
by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee, wherefore
I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." We can read of God,
and hear of God, and be little moved; but when we feel His
presence, it is another matter. I thought my house was good enough
for kings; but when the King of kings came to it, I saw that it
was a hovel quite unfit for His abode. I had never known sin to be
so "exceeding sinful" if I had not known God to be so perfectly
holy. I had never understood the depravity of my own nature if I
had not known the holiness of God's nature. When we see Jesus, we
fall at His feet as dead; till then, we are alive with
vainglorious life. If letters of light traced by a mysterious hand
upon the wall caused the joints of Belshazzar's loins to be
loosed, what awe overcomes our spirits when we see the Lord
Himself! In the presence of so much light our spots and wrinkles
are revealed, and we are utterly ashamed. We are like Daniel, who
said, "I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there
remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me
into corruption." It is when the Lord visits us that we see our
nothingness, and ask, "Lord, what is man?"
     I do remember well when God first visited me; and assuredly
it was the night of nature, of ignorance, of sin. His visit had
the same effect upon me that it had upon Saul of Tarsus when the
Lord spake to him out of heaven. He brought me down from the high
horse, and caused me to fall to the ground; by the brightness of
the light of His Spirit He made me grope in conscious blindness;
and in the brokenness of my heart I cried, "Lord, what wilt Thou
have me to do?" I felt that I had been rebelling against the Lord,
kicking against the pricks, and doing evil even as I could; and my
soul was filled with anguish at the discovery. Very searching was
the glance of the eye of Jesus, for it revealed my sin, and caused
me to go out and weep bitterly. As when the Lord visited Adam, and
called him to stand naked before Him, so was I stripped of all my
righteousness before the face of the Most High. Yet the visit
ended not there; for as the Lord God clothed our first parents in
coats of skins, so did He cover me with the righteousness of the
great sacrifice, and He gave me songs in the night It was night,
but the visit was no dream: in fact, I there and then ceased to
dream, and began to deal with the reality of things.
     I think you will remember that, when the Lord first visited
you in the night, it was with you as with Peter when Jesus came to
him. He had been toiling with his net all the night, and nothing
had come of it; but when the Lord Jesus came into his boat, and
bade him launch out into the deep, and let down his net for a
draught, he caught such a great multitude of fishes that the boat
began to sink. See! the boat goes down, down, till the water
threatens to engulf it, and Peter, and the fish, and all. Then
Peter fell down at Jesus knees, and cried, "Depart from me; for I
am a sinful man, O Lord!" The presence of Jesus was too much for
him: his sense of unworthiness made him sink like his boat, and
shrink away from the Divine Lord. I remember that sensation well;
for I was half inclined to cry with the demoniac of Gadara, "What
have I to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God most high?" That
first discovery of His injured love was overpowering; its very
hopefulness increased my anguish; for then I saw that I had slain
the Lord who had come to save me. I saw that mine was the hand
which made the hammer fall, and drove the nails that fastened the
Redeemer's hands and feet to the cruel tree.

     "My conscience felt and own'd the guilt,
      And plunged me in despair;
     I saw my sins His blood had spilt,
      And help'd to nail Him there."

     This is the sight which breeds repentance: "They shall look
upon Him whom they have pierced, and mourn for Him." When the Lord
visits us, He humbles us, removes all hardness from our hearts,
and leads us to the Saviour's feet.
     When the Lord first visited us in the night it was very much
with us as with John, when the Lord visited him in the isle that
is called Patmos. He tells us, "And when I saw Him, I fell at His
feet as dead." Yes, even when we begin to see that He has put away
our sin, and removed our guilt by His death, we feel as if we
could never look up again, because we have been so cruel to our
best Friend. It is no wonder if we then say, "It is true that He
has forgiven me; but I never can forgive myself. He makes me live,
and I live in Him; but at the thought of His goodness I fall at
His feet as dead. Boasting is dead, self is dead, and all desire
for anything beyond my Lord is dead also." Well does Cowper sing
of--

     "That dear hour, that brought me to His foot,
     And cut up all my follies by the root."

     The process of destroying follies is more hopefully performed
at Jesus' feet than anywhere else. Oh, that the Lord would come
again to us as at the first, and like a consuming fire discover
and destroy the dross which now alloys our gold! The word visit
brings to us who travel the remembrance of the government officer
who searches our baggage; thus doth the Lord seek out our secret
things. But it also reminds us of the visits of the physician, who
not only finds out our maladies, but also removes them. Thus did
the Lord Jesus visit us at the first.
     Since those early days, I hope that you and I have had many
visits from our Lord. Those first visits were, as I said, sharply
searching; but the later ones have been sweetly solacing. Some of
us have had them, especially in the night, when we have been
compelled to count the sleepless hours. "Heaven's gate opens when
this world's is shut." The night is still; everybody is away; work
is done; care is forgotten, and then the Lord Himself draws near.
Possibly there may be pain to be endured, the head may be aching,
and the heart may be throbbing; but if Jesus comes to visit us,
our bed of languishing becomes a throne of glory. Though it is
true "He giveth His beloved sleep," yet at such times He gives
them something better than sleep, namely; His own presence, and
the fulness of joy which comes with it. By night upon our bed we
have seen the unseen. I have tried sometimes not to sleep under an
excess of joy, when the company of Christ has been sweetly mine.
     "Thou hast visited me in the night." Believe me, there are
such things as personal visits from Jesus to His people. He has
not left us utterly. Though He be not seen with the bodily eye by
bush or brook, nor on the mount, nor by the sea, yet doth He come
and go, observed only by the spirit, felt only by the heart. Still
he standeth behind our wall, He showeth Himself through the
lattices.

     "Jesus, these eyes have never seen
      That radiant form of Thine!
     The veil of sense hangs dark between
      Thy blessed face and mine!

     "I see Thee not, I hear Thee not,
      Yet art Thou oft with me,
     And earth hath ne'er so dear a spot
      As where I meet with Thee.

     "Like some bright dream that comes unsought,
      When slumbers o'er me roll,
     Thine image ever fills my thought,
      And charms my ravish'd soul.

     "Yet though I have not seen, and still
      Must rest in faith alone;
     I love Thee, dearest Lord! and will,
      Unseen, but not unknown."

     Do you ask me to describe these manifestations of the Lord?
It were hard to tell you in words: you must know them for
yourselves. If you had never tasted sweetness, no man living could
give you an idea of honey. Yet if the honey be there, you can
"taste and see." To a man born blind, sight must be a thing past
imagination; and to one who has never known the Lord, His visits
are quite as much beyond conception.
     For our Lord to visit us is something more than for us to
have the assurance of our salvation, though that is very
delightful, and none of us should rest satisfied unless we possess
it. To know that Jesus loves me, is one thing; but to be visited
by Him in love, is more.
     Nor is it simply a close contemplation of Christ; for we can
picture Him as exceedingly fair and majestic, and yet not have Him
consciously near us. Delightful and instructive as it is to behold
the likeness of Christ by meditation, yet the enjoyment of His
actual presence is something more. I may wear my friend's portrait
about my person, and yet may not be able to say, "Thou hast
visited me."
     It is the actual, though spiritual, coming of Christ which we
so much desire. The Romish church says much about the _real_
presence; meaning thereby, the corporeal presence of the Lord
Jesus. The priest who celebrates mass tells us that he believes in
the _real_ presence, but we reply, "Nay, you believe in knowing
Christ after the flesh, and in that sense the only real presence
is in heaven; but we firmly believe in the real presence of Christ
which is spiritual, and yet certain." By spiritual we do not mean
unreal; in fact, the spiritual takes the lead in real-ness to
spiritual men. I believe in the true and real presence of Jesus
with His people: such presence has been real to my spirit. Lord
Jesus, Thou Thyself hast visited me. As surely as the Lord Jesus
came really as to His flesh to Bethlehem and Calvary, so surely
does He come really by His Spirit to His people in the hours of
their communion with Him. We are as conscious of that presence as
of our own existence.
     When the Lord visits us in the night, what is the effect upon
us? When hearts meet hearts in fellowship of love, communion
brings first peace, then rest, and then joy of soul. I am speaking
of no emotional excitement rising into fanatical rapture; but I
speak of sober fact, when I say that the Lord's great heart
touches ours, and our heart rises into sympathy with Him.
     First, we experience _peace_. All war is over, and a blessed
peace is proclaimed; the peace of God keeps our heart and mind by
Christ Jesus.

     "Peace! perfect peace! in this dark world of sin?
     The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.

     "Peace! perfect peace! with sorrows surging round?
     On Jesus' bosom nought but calm is found."

     At such a time there is a delightful sense of _rest_; we have
no ambitions, no desires. A divine serenity and security envelop
us. We have no thought of foes, or fears, or afflictions, or
doubts. There is a joyous laying aside of our own will. We _are_
nothing, and we _will_ nothing: Christ is everything, and His will
is the pulse of our soul. We are perfectly content either to be
ill or to be well, to be rich or to be poor, to be slandered or to
be honoured, so that we may but abide in the love of Christ. Jesus
fills the horizon of our being.
     At such a time a flood of great _joy_ will fill our minds. We
shall half wish that the morning may never break again, for fear
its light should banish the superior light of Christ's presence.
We shall wish that we could glide away with our Beloved to the
place where He feedeth among the lilies. We long to hear the
voices of the white-robed armies, that we may follow their
glorious Leader whithersoever He goeth. I am persuaded that there
is no great actual distance between earth and heaven: the distance
lies in our dull minds. When the Beloved visits us in the night,
He makes our chambers to be the vestibule of His palace-halls.
Earth rises to heaven when heaven comes down to earth.
     Now, beloved friends, you may be saying to yourselves, "_We_
have not enjoyed such visits as these." You may do so. If the
Father loves you even as He loves His Son, then you are on
visiting terms with Him. If, then, He has not called upon you, you
will be wise to call on Him. Breathe a sigh to Him, and say,--

     "When wilt Thou come unto me, Lord?
      Oh come, my Lord most dear!
     Come near, come nearer, nearer still,
      I'm blest when Thou art near.

     "When wilt Thou come unto me, Lord?
      I languish for the sight;
     Ten thousand suns when Thou art hid,
      Are shades instead of light.

     "When wilt Thou come unto me, Lord?
      Until Thou dost appear,
     I count each moment for a day,
      Each minute for a year."

     "As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my
soul after Thee, O God!" If you long for Him, He much more longs
for you. Never was there a sinner that was half so eager for
Christ as Christ is eager for the sinner; nor a saint one-tenth so
anxious to behold his Lord as his Lord is to behold him. If thou
art running to Christ, He is already near thee. If thou dost sigh
for His presence, that sigh is the evidence that He is with thee.
He is with thee now: therefore be calmly glad.
     Go forth, beloved, and talk with Jesus on the beach, for He
oft resorted to the sea-shore. Commune with Him amid the olive-
groves so dear to Him in many a night of wrestling prayer. If ever
there was a country in which men should see traces of Jesus, next
to the Holy Land, this Riviera is the favoured spot. It is a land
of vines, and figs, and olives, and palms; I have called it "Thy
land, O Immanuel." While in this Mentone, I often fancy that I am
looking out upon the Lake of Gennesaret, or walking at the foot of
the Mount of Olives, or peering into the mysterious gloom of the
Garden of Gethsemane. The narrow streets of the old town are such
as Jesus traversed, these villages are such as He inhabited. Have
your hearts right with Him, and He will visit you often, until
every day you shall walk with God, as Enoch did, and so turn week-
days into Sabbaths, meals into sacraments, homes into temples, and
earth into heaven. So be it with us! Amen.
 
 
 

                       UNDER HIS SHADOW.

      A BRIEF SACRAMENTAL DISCOURSE DELIVERED AT MENTONE
                  TO ABOUT A SCORE BRETHREN.

     "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall
abide under the shadow of the Almighty."--Psalm xci. 1.
 

I MUST confess of my short discourse, as the man did of the axe
which fell into the stream, that it is borrowed. The outline of it
is taken from one who will never complain of me, for to the great
loss of the Church she has left these lower choirs to sing above.
Miss Havergal, last and loveliest of our modern poets, when her
tones were most mellow, and her language most sublime, has been
caught up to swell the music of heaven. Her last poems are
published with the title, "Under His Shadow," and the preface
gives the reason for the name. She said, "I should like the title
to be, 'Under His Shadow.' I seem to see four pictures suggested
by that: under the shadow of a rock, in a weary plain; under the
shadow of a tree; closer still, under the shadow of His wing;
nearest and closest, in the shadow of His hand. Surely that hand
must be the pierced hand, that may oftentimes press us sorely, and
yet evermore encircling, upholding, and shadowing."
     "Under His Shadow," is our afternoon subject, and we will in
a few words enlarge on the Scriptural plan which Miss Havergal has
bequeathed to us. Our text is, "He that dwelleth in the secret
place of the most High shall abide _under the shadow_ of the
Almighty." The shadow of God is not the occasional resort, but the
constant abiding-place, of the saint. Here we find not only our
consolation, but our habitation. We ought never to be out of the
shadow of God. It is to dwellers, not to visitors, that the Lord
promises His protection. "He that _dwelleth_ in the secret place
of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty:"
and that shadow shall preserve him from nightly terror and ghostly
ill, from the arrows of war and of pestilence, from death and from
destruction. Guarded by Omnipotence, the chosen of the Lord are
always safe; for as they dwell in the holy place, hard by the
mercy-seat, where the blood was sprinkled of old, the pillar of
fire by night, the pillar of cloud by day, which ever hangs over
the sanctuary, covers them also. Is it not written, "In the time
of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion, in the secret of His
tabernacle shall He hide me"? What better security can we desire?
As the people of God, we are always under the protection of the
Most High. Wherever we go, whatever we suffer, whatever may be our
difficulties, temptations, trials, or perplexities, we are always
"under the shadow of the Almighty." Over all who maintain their
fellowship with God the most tender guardian care is extended.
Their heavenly Father Himself interposes between them and their
adversaries. The experience of the saints, albeit they are all
under the shadow, yet differs as to the form in which that
protection has been enjoyed by them, hence the value of the four
figures which will now engage our attention.
     I. We will begin with the first picture which Miss Havergal
mentions, namely, the rock sheltering the weary traveller:--"_The
shadow of a great rock in a weary land_" (Isaiah xxxii. 2).
     Now, I take it that this is where we begin to know our Lord's
shadow. He was at the first to us _a refuge in time of trouble_.
Weary was the way, and great was the heat; our lips were parched,
and our souls were fainting; we sought for shelter, and we found
none; for we were in the wilderness of sin and condemnation, and
who could bring us deliverance, or even hope? Then we cried unto
the Lord in our trouble, and He led us to the Rock of ages, which
of old was cleft for us. We saw our interposing Mediator coming
between us and the fierce heat of justice, and we hailed the
blessed screen. The Lord Jesus was unto us a covering for sin, and
so a covert from wrath. The sense of divine displeasure, which had
beaten upon our conscience, was removed by the removal of the sin
itself, which we saw to be laid on Jesus, who in our place and
stead endured its penalty.
     The shadow of a rock is remarkably cooling, and so was the
Lord Jesus eminently comforting to us. The shadow of a rock is
more dense, more complete, and more cool than any other shade; and
so the peace which Jesus gives passeth all understanding, there is
none like it. No chance beam darts through the rock-shade, nor can
the heat penetrate as it will do in a measure through the foliage
of a forest. Jesus is a complete shelter, and blessed are they who
are "under His shadow." Let them take care that they abide there,
and never venture forth to answer for themselves, or to brave the
accusations of Satan.
     As with sin, so with sorrow of every sort: the Lord is the
Rock of our refuge. No sun shall smite us, nor, any heat, because
we are never out of Christ. The saints know where to fly, and they
use their privilege.

     "When troubles, like a burning sun,
      Beat heavy on their head,
     To Christ their mighty Rock they run,
      And find a pleasing shade."

     There is, however, something of awe about this great shadow.
A rock is often so high as to be terrible, and we tremble in
presence of its greatness. The idea of littleness hiding behind
massive greatness is well set forth; but there is no tender
thought of fellowship, or gentleness: even so, at the first, we
view the Lord Jesus as our shelter from the consuming heat of
well-deserved punishment, and we know little more. It is most
pleasant to remember that this is only one panel of the four-fold
picture. Inexpressibly dear to my soul is the deep cool rock-shade
of my blessed Lord, as I stand in Him a sinner saved; yet is there
more.
     II. Our second picture, that of the tree, is to be found in
the Song of Solomon ii. 3:--"_As the apple tree among the trees of
the wood, so is my Beloved among the sons. I sat down under His
shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste_."
     Here we have not so much refuge from trouble as special _rest
in times of joy_. The spouse is happily wandering through a wood,
glancing at many trees, and rejoicing in the music of the birds.
One tree specially charms her: the citron with its golden fruit
wins her admiration, and she sits under its shadow with great
delight; such was her Beloved to her, the best among the good, the
fairest of the fair, the joy of her joy, the light of her delight.
Such is Jesus to the believing soul.
     The sweet influences of Christ are intended to give us a
happy rest, and we ought to avail ourselves of them; "I sat down
under His shadow." This was Mary's better part, which Martha well-
nigh missed by being cumbered. That is the good old way wherein we
are to walk, the way in which we find rest unto our souls. Papists
and papistical persons, whose religion is all ceremonies, or all
working, or all groaning, or all feeling, have never come to an
end. We may say of their religion as of the law, that it made
nothing perfect; but under the gospel there is something finished,
and that something is the sum and substance of our salvation, and
therefore there is rest for us, and we ought to sing, "I sat
down."
     Dear friends, is Christ to each one of us a place of sitting
down? I do not mean a rest of idleness and self-content,--God
deliver us from that; but there is rest in a conscious grasp of
Christ, a rest of contentment with Him as our all in all. God give
us to know more of this! This shadow is also meant to yield
perpetual solace, for the spouse did not merely come under it, but
there she sat down as one who meant to stay. Continuance of repose
and joy is purchased for us by our Lord's perfected work. Under
the shadow she found food; she had no need to leave it to find a
single needful thing, for the tree which shaded also yielded
fruit; nor did she need even to rise from her rest, but sitting
still she feasted on the delicious fruit. You who know the Lord
Jesus know also what this meaneth.
     The spouse never wished to go beyond her Lord. She knew no
higher life than that of sitting under the Well-beloved's shadow.
She passed the cedar, and oak, and every other goodly tree, but
the apple-tree held her, and there she sat down. "Many there be
that say, who will show us any good? But as for us, O Lord, our
heart is fixed, our heart is fixed, resting on Thee. We will go no
further, for Thou art our dwelling-place, we feel at home with
Thee, and sit down beneath Thy shadow." Some Christians cultivate
reverence at the expense of childlike love; they kneel down, but
they dare not sit down. Our Divine Friend and Lover wills not that
it should be so; He would not have us stand on ceremony with Him,
but come boldly unto Him.

     "Let us be simple with Him, then,
      Not backward, stiff or cold,
     As though our Bethlehem could be
      What Sina was of old."

     Let us use His sacred name as a common word, as a household
word, and run to Him as to a dear familiar friend. Under His
shadow we are to feel that we are at home, and then He will make
Himself at home to us by becoming food unto our souls, and giving
spiritual refreshment to us while we rest. The spouse does not
here say that she reached up to the tree to gather its fruit, but
she sat down on the ground in intense delight, and the fruit came
to her where she sat. It is wonderful how Christ will come down to
souls that sit beneath His shadow; if we can but be at home with
Christ, He will sweetly commune with us. Has He not said, "Delight
thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of
thine heart"?
     In this second form of the sacred shadow, the sense of awe
gives place to that of restful delight in Christ. Have you ever
figured in such a scene as the sitter beneath the grateful shade
of the fruitful tree? Have you not only possessed security, but
experienced delight in Christ? Have you sung,--

     "I sat down under His shadow,
      Sat down with great delight;
     His fruit was sweet unto my taste,
      And pleasant to my sight"?

     This is as necessary an experience as it is joyful: necessary
for many uses. The joy of the Lord is our strength, and it is when
we delight ourselves in the Lord that we have assurance of power
in prayer. Here faith develops, and hope grows bright, while love
sheds abroad all the fragrance of her sweet spices. Oh! get you to
the apple-tree, and find out who is the fairest among the fair.
Make the Light of heaven the delight of your heart, and then be
filled with heart's-ease, and revel in complete content.
     III. The third view of the one subject is,--the shadow of his
wings,--a precious word. I think the best specimen of it, for it
occurs several times, is in that blessed Psalm, the sixty-third,
verse seven:--
     "_Because Thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of
Thy wings will I rejoice_."
     Does not this set forth our Lord as _our trust in hours of
depression?_ In the Psalm now open before us, David was banished
from the means of grace to a dry and thirsty land, where no water
was. What is much worse, he was in a measure away from all
conscious enjoyment of God. He says, "Early will I seek Thee. My
soul thirsteth for Thee." He sings rather of memories than of
present communion with God. We also have come into this condition,
and have been unable to find any present comfort. "Thou hast been
my help," has been the highest note we could strike, and we have
been glad to reach to that. At such times, the light of God's face
has been withdrawn, but our faith has taught us to rejoice under
the shadow of His wings. Light there was none; we were altogether
in the shade, but it was a warm shade. We felt that God who had
been near must be near us still, and therefore we were quieted.
Our God cannot change, and therefore as He was our help He must
still be our help, our help even though He casts a shadow over us,
for it must be the shadow of His own eternal wings. The metaphor
is, of course, derived from the nestling of little birds under the
shadow of their mother's wings, and the picture is singularly
touching and comforting. The little bird is not yet able to take
care of itself, so it cowers down under the mother, and is there
happy and safe. Disturb a hen for a moment, and you will see all
the little chickens huddling together, and by their chirps making
a kind of song. Then they push their heads into her feathers, and
seem happy beyond measure in their warm abode. When we are very
sick and sore depressed, when we are worried with the care of
pining children, and the troubles of a needy household, and the
temptations of Satan, how comforting it is to run to our God,--
like the little chicks run to the hen,--and hide away near His
heart, beneath His Wings. Oh, tried ones, press closely to the
loving heart of your Lord, hide yourselves entirely beneath His
wings! Here awe has disappeared, and rest itself is enhanced by
the idea of loving trust. The little birds are safe in their
mother's love, and we, too, are beyond measure secure and happy in
the loving favour of the Lord.
     IV. The last form of the shadow is that of the hand, and
this, it seems to me, points to power and position in service.
Turn to Isaiah xlix. 2:--
     "_And He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow
of His hand hath He kid me, and made me a polished shaft; in His
quiver hath He hid me_."
     This undoubtedly refers to the Saviour, for the passage
proceeds:--"And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in
whom I will be glorified. Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I
have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my
judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God. And now, saith
the Lord that formed me from the womb to be His servant, to bring
Jacob again to Him, though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be
glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength.
And He said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be My servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of
Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that
thou mayest be My salvation unto the end of the earth." Our Lord
Jesus Christ was hidden away in the hand of Jehovah, to be used by
Him as a polished shaft for the overthrow of His enemies, and the
victory of His people. Yet, inasmuch as it is Christ, it is also
all Christ's servants, since as He is so are we also in this
world; and to make quite sure of it, we have the same expression
in the sixteenth verse of the fifty-first chapter, where, speaking
of His people, He says, "I have covered thee in the shadow of Mine
hand." Is not this an excellent minister's text? Every one of you
who will speak a word for Jesus shall have a share in it. This is
where those who are workers for Christ should long to be,--"in the
shadow of His hand," to achieve His eternal purpose. What are any
of God's servants without their Lord but weapons out of the
warrior's hand, having no power to do anything? We ought to be as
the arrows of the Lord which He shoots at His enemies; and so
great is His hand of power, and so little are we as His
instruments, that He hides us away in the hollow of His hand,
unseen until He darts us forth. As workers, we are to be hidden
away in the hand of God, or to quote the other figure, "in His
quiver hath He hid me:" we are to be unseen till He uses us. It is
impossible for us not to be known somewhat if the Lord uses us,
but we may not aim at being noticed, but, on the contrary, if we
be as much used as the very chief of the apostles, we must
truthfully add, "though I be nothing." Our desire should be that
Christ should be glorified, and that self should be concealed.
Alas! there is a way of always showing self in what we do, and we
are all too ready to fall into it. You can visit the poor in such
a way that they will feel that his lordship or her ladyship has
condescended to call upon poor Betsy; but there is another way of
doing the same thing so that the tried child of God shall know
that a brother beloved or a dear sister in Christ has shown a
fellow-feeling for her, and has talked to her heart. There is a
way of preaching, in which a great divine has evidently displayed
his vast learning and talent; and there is another way of
preaching, in which a faithful servant of Jesus Christ, depending
upon his Lord, has spoken in his Master's name, and left a rich
unction behind. Within the hand of God is the place of acceptance,
and safety; and for service it is the place of power, as well as
of concealment. God only works with those who are in His hand; and
the more we lie hidden there, the more surely will He use us ere
long. May the Lord do unto us according to His word, "I have put
My words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of My
hand." In this case we shall feel all the former emotions
combined: awe that the Lord should condescend to take us into His
hand, rest and delight that He should deign to use us, trust that
out of weakness we shall now be made strong, and to this will be
added an absolute assurance that the end of our being must be
answered, for that which is urged onward by the Almighty hand
cannot miss its mark.
     These are mere surface thoughts. The subject deserves a
series of discourses. Your best course, my beloved friends, will
be to enlarge upon these hints by a long personal experience of
abiding under the shadow of the Almighty. May God the Holy Ghost
lead you into it, and keep you there, for Jesus' sake!
 
 
 

                     UNDER THE APPLE TREE.

     "I sat down under His shadow with great delight, and His
fruit was sweet to my taste."--Solomon's Song ii. 3.
 

Christ _known should be Christ used_. The spouse knew her Beloved
to be like a fruit-bearing tree, and at once she sat under His
shadow, and fed upon His fruit. It is a pity that we know so much
about Christ, and yet enjoy Him so little. May our experience keep
pace with our knowledge, and may that experience be composed of a
practical using of our Lord! Jesus casts a shadow, let us sit
under it: Jesus yields fruit, let us taste the sweetness of it.
Depend upon it that the way to learn more is to use what you know;
and, moreover, the way to learn a truth thoroughly is to learn it
experimentally. You know a doctrine beyond all fear of
contradiction when you have proved it for yourself by personal
test and trial. The bride in the song as good as says, "I am
certain that my Beloved casts a shadow, for I have sat under it,
and I am persuaded that He bears sweet fruit, for I have tasted of
it." The best way of demonstrating the power of Christ to save is
to trust in Him and be saved yourself; and of all those who are
sure of the divinity of our holy faith, there are none so certain
as those who feel its divine power upon themselves. You may reason
yourself into a belief of the gospel, and you may by further
reasoning keep yourself orthodox; but a personal trial, and an
inward knowing of the truth, are incomparably the best evidences.
If Jesus be as an apple tree among the trees of the wood, do not
keep away from Him, but sit under His shadow, and taste His fruit.
He is a Saviour; do not believe the fact and yet remain unsaved.
As far as Christ is known to you, so far make use of Him. Is not
this sound common-sense?
     We would further remark that _we are at liberty to make every
possible use of Christ_. Shadow and fruit may both be enjoyed.
Christ in His infinite condescension exists for needy souls. Oh,
let us say it over again: it is a bold word, but it is true,--as
Christ Jesus, our Lord exists for the benefit of His people. A
Saviour only exists to save. A physician lives to heal. The Good
Shepherd lives, yea, dies, for His sheep. Our Lord Jesus Christ
hath wrapped us about His heart; we are intimately interwoven with
all His offices, with all His honours, with all His traits of
character, with all that He has done, and with all that He has yet
to do. The 'sinners' Friend lives for sinners, and sinners may
have Him and use Him to the uttermost. He is as free to us as the
air we breathe. What are fountains for, but that the thirsty may
drink? What is the harbour for but that storm-tossed barques may
there find refuge? What is Christ for but that poor guilty ones
like ourselves may come to Him and look and live, and afterwards
may have all our needs supplied out of His fulness?
     We have thus the door set open for us, and we pray that the
Holy Spirit may help us to enter in while we notice in the text
two things which we pray that you may enjoy to the full. First,
_the heart's rest in Christ:_ "I sat down under His shadow with
great delight." And, secondly, _the heart's refreshment in
Christ:_ "His fruit was sweet to my taste."
     I. To begin with, we have here the heart's rest in Christ. To
set this forth, let us notice the character of the person who
uttered this sentence. She who said, "I sat down under His shadow
with great delight," was one who _had known before what weary
travel meant, and therefore valued rest;_ for the man who has
never laboured knows nothing of the sweetness of repose. The
loafer who has eaten bread he never earned, from whose brow there
never oozed a drop of honest sweat, does not deserve rest, and
knows not what it is. It is to the labouring man that rest is
sweet; and when at last we come, toil-worn with many miles of
weary plodding, to a shaded place where we may comfortably sit
down, then are we filled with delight.
     The spouse had been seeking her Beloved, and in looking for
Him she had asked where she was likely to find Him. "Tell me,"
says she, "O Thou whom my soul loveth, where Thou feedest, where
Thou makest Thy flock to rest at noon." The answer was given to
her, "Go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock." She did go
her way; but, after a while, she came to this resolution: "I will
_sit down_ under His shadow."
     Many of you have been sorely wearied with going your way to
find peace. Some of you tried ceremonies, and trusted in them, and
the priest came to your help; but he mocked your heart's distress.
Others of you sought by various systems of thought to come to an
anchorage; but, tossed from billow to billow, you found no rest
upon the seething sea of speculation. More of you tried by your
good works to gain rest to your consciences. You multiplied your
prayers, you poured out floods of tears, you hoped, by almsgiving
and by the like, that some merit might accrue to you, and that
your heart might feel acceptance with God, and so have rest. You
toiled and toiled, like the men that were in the vessel with Jonah
when they rowed hard to bring their ship to land, but could not,
for the sea wrought and was tempestuous. There was no escape for
you that way, and so you were driven to another way, even to rest
in Jesus. My heart looks back to the time when I was under a sense
of sin, and sought with all my soul to find peace, but could not
discover it, high or low, in any place beneath the sky; yet when
"I saw one hanging on a tree," as the Substitute for sin, then my
heart sat down under His shadow with great delight. My heart
reasoned thus with herself,--Did Jesus suffer in my stead? Then I
shall not suffer. Did He bear my sin? Then I do not bear it. Did
God accept His Son as my Substitute? Then He will never smite
_me_. Was Jesus acceptable with God as my Sacrifice? Then what
contents the Lord may well enough content me, and so I will go no
farther, but: "sit down under His shadow," and enjoy a delightful
rest.
     She who said, "I sat down under His shadow with great
delight," _could appreciate shade, for she had been sunburnt_. Did
we not read just now her exclamation,--"Look not upon me, for I am
black, because the sun hath looked upon me"? She knew what heat
meant, what the burning sun meant; and therefore shade was
pleasant to her. You know nothing about the deliciousness of shade
till you travel in a thoroughly hot country; then you are
delighted with it. Did you ever feel the heat of divine wrath? Did
the great Sun--that Sun without variableness or shadow of a
turning--ever dart upon you His hottest rays,--the rays of his
holiness and justice? Did you cower down beneath the scorching
beams of that great Light, and say, "We are consumed by Thine
anger"? If you have ever felt _that_, you have found it a very
blessed thing to come under the shadow of Christ's atoning
sacrifice. A shadow, you know, is cast by a body coming between us
and the light and heat; and our Lord's most blessed body has come
between us and the scorching sun of divine justice, so that we sit
under the shadow of His mediation with great delight.
     And now, if any other sun begins to scorch us, we fly to our
Lord. If domestic trouble, or business care, or Satanic
temptation, or inward corruption, oppresses us, we hasten to
Jesus' shadow, to hide under Him, and there "sit down" in the cool
refreshment with great delight. The interposition of our blessed
Lord is the cause of our inward quiet. The sun cannot scorch _me_,
for it scorched _Him_. My troubles need not trouble me, for He has
taken my trouble, and I have left it in His hands. "I sat down
under His shadow."
     Mark well these two things concerning the spouse. She knew
what it was to be weary, and she knew what it was to be sunburnt;
and just in proportion as you also know these two things, your
valuation of Christ will rise. You who have never pined under the
wrath of God have never prized the Saviour. Water is of small
value in this land of brooks and rivers, and so you commonly
sprinkle the roads with it; but I warrant you that, if you were
making a day's march over burning sand, a cup of cold water would
be worth a king's ransom; and so to thirsty souls Christ is
precious, but to none beside.
     Now, when the spouse was sitting down, restful and delighted,
_she was overshadowed_. She says, "I sat down _under His shadow_."
I do not know a more delightful state of mind than to feel quite
overshadowed by our beloved Lord. Here is my black sin, but there
is His precious blood overshadowing my sin, and hiding it for
ever. Here is my condition by nature, an enemy to God; but He who
reconciled me to God by His blood has overshadowed that also, so
that I forget that I was once an enemy in the joy of being now a
friend. I am very weak; but He is strong, and His strength
overshadows my feebleness. I am very poor; but He hath all riches,
and His riches overshadow my poverty. I am most unworthy; but He
is so worthy that if I use His name I shall receive as much as if
I were worthy: His worthiness doth overshadow my unworthiness. It
is very precious to put the truth the other way, and say, If there
be anything good in me, it is not good when I compare myself with
Him, for His goodness quite eclipses and overshadows it. Can I say
I love Him? So I do, but I hardly dare call it love, for His love
overshadows it. Did I suppose that I served Him? So I would; but
my poor service is not worth mentioning in comparison with what He
has done for me. Did I think I had any degree of holiness? I must
not deny what His Spirit works in me; but when I think of His
immaculate life, and all His divine perfections, where am I? What
am I? Have you not sometimes felt this? Have you not been so
overshadowed and hidden under your Lord that you became as
nothing? I know myself what it is to feel that if I die in a
workhouse it does not matter so long as my Lord is glorified.
Mortals may cast out my name as evil, if they like; but what
matters it since His dear name shall one day be printed in stars
athwart the sky? Let Him overshadow me; I delight that it should
be so.
     The spouse tells us that, when she became quite overshadowed,
then _she felt great delight_. Great "_I_" never has great
delight, for it cannot bear to own a greater than itself, but the
humble believer finds his delight in being overshadowed by his
Lord. In the shade of Jesus we have more delight than in any
fancied light of our own. The spouse had _great_ delight. I trust
that you Christian people do have great delight; and if not, you
ought to ask yourselves whether you really are the people of God.
I like to see a cheerful countenance; ay, and to hear of raptures
in the hearts of those who are God's saints! There are people who
seem to think that religion and gloom are married, and must never
be divorced. Pull down the blinds on Sunday, and darken the rooms;
if you have a garden, or a rose in flower, try to forget that
there are such beauties: are you not to serve God as dolorously as
you can? Put your book under your arm, and crawl to your place of
worship in as mournful a manner as if you were being marched to
the whipping-post. Act thus if you will; but give me that religion
which cheers my heart, fires my soul, and fills me with enthusiasm
and delight,--for that is likely to be the religion of heaven, and
it agrees with the experience of the Inspired Song.
     Although I trust that we know what delight means, I question
if we have enough of it to describe ourselves as _sitting down_ in
the enjoyment of it. Do you give yourselves enough time to sit at
Jesus' feet? _There_ is the place of delight, do you abide in it?
Sit down under His shadow. "I have no leisure," cries one. Try and
make a little. Steal it from your sleep if you cannot get it
anyhow else. Grant leisure to your heart. It would be a great pity
if a man never spent five minutes with his wife, but was forced to
be always hard at work. Why, that is slavey, is it not? Shall we
not then have time to commune with our Best-beloved? Surely,
somehow or other, we can squeeze out a little season in which we
shall have nothing else to do but to sit down under His shadow
with great delight! When I take my Bible, and want to feed on it
for myself, I generally get thinking about preaching upon the
text, and what I should say to you from it. This will not do; I
must get away from that, and forget that there is a Tabernacle,
that I may sit personally at Jesus' feet. And, oh, there is an
intense delight in being overshadowed by Him! He is near you, and
you know it. His dear presence is as certainly with you as if you
could see Him, for His influence surrounds you.
     Often have I felt as if Jesus leaned over me, as a friend
might look over my shoulder. Although no cool shade comes over
your brow, yet you may as much feel His shadow as if it did, for
your heart grows calm; and if you have been wearied with the
family, or troubled with the church, or vexed with yourself, you
come down from the chamber where you have seen your Lord, and you
feel braced for the battle of life, ready for its troubles and its
temptations, because you have seen the Lord. "I sat down" said
she, "under His shadow with _great delight_." How great that
delight was she could not tell, but she sat down as one
overpowered with it, needing to sit still under the load of bliss.
I do not like to talk much about the secret delights of
Christians, because there are always some around us who do not
understand our meaning; but I will venture to say this much--that
if worldlings could but even guess what are the secret joys of
believers, they would give their eyes to share with us. We have
troubles, and we admit it, we expect to have them; but we have
joys which are frequently excessive. We should not like that
others should be witnesses of the delight which now and then
tosses our soul into a very tempest of joy. You know what it
means, do you not? When you have been quite alone with the
heavenly Bridegroom, you wanted to tell the angels of the sweet
love of Christ to you, a poor unworthy one. You even wished to
teach the golden harps fresh music, for seraphs know not the
heights and depths of the grace of God as you know them.
     The spouse had great delight, and we know that she had, for
this one reason, that _she did not forget it_. This verse and the
whole Song are a remembrance of what she had enjoyed. She says, "I
sat down under His shadow." It may have been a month, it may have
been years ago; but she had not forgotten it. The joys of
fellowship with God are written in marble. "Engraved as in eternal
brass" are memories of communion with Christ Jesus. "Above
fourteen years ago," says the apostle, "I knew a man." Ah, it was
worth remembering all those years! He had not told his delight,
but he had kept it stored up. He says, "I knew a man in Christ
above fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or
whether out of the body, I cannot tell:)" so great had his
delights been. When we look back, we forget birthdays, holidays,
and bonfire-nights which we have spent after the manner of men,
but we readily recall our times of fellowship with the Well-
beloved. We have known our Tabors, our times of transfiguration
fellowship, and like Peter we remember when we were "with Him in
the holy mount." Our head has leaned upon the Master's bosom, and
we can never forget the intense delight; nor will we fail to put
on record for the good of others the joys with which we have been
indulged.
     Now I leave this first part of the subject, only noticing how
beautifully natural it is. There was a tree, and she sat down
under the shadow: there was nothing strained, nothing formal. So
ought true piety ever to be consistent with common-sense, with
that which seems most fitting, most comely, most wise, and most
natural. There is Christ, we may enjoy Him, let us not despise the
privilege.
     II. The second part of our subject is, the heart's
refreshment in Christ. His fruit was sweet to my taste. Here I
will not enlarge, but give you thoughts in brief which you can
beat out afterwards. _She did not feast upon the fruit of the tree
till first she was under the shadow of it._ There is no knowing
the excellent things of Christ till you trust Him. Not a single
sweet apple shall fall to the lot of those who are outside the
shadow. Come and trust Christ, and then all that there is in
Christ shall be enjoyed by you. O unbelievers, what you miss! If
you will but sit down under His shadow, you shall have all things;
but if you will not, neither shall any good thing of Christ's be
yours.
     _But as soon as ever she was under the shadow, then the fruit
was all hers_. "I sat down under His shadow," saith she, and then,
"His fruit was sweet to my taste." Dost thou believe in Jesus,
friend? Then Jesus Christ Himself is thine; and if thou dost own
the tree, thou mayest well eat the fruit. Since He Himself becomes
thine altogether, then His redemption and the pardon that comes of
it, His living power, His mighty intercession, the glories of His
Second Advent, and all that belong to Him are made over to thee
for thy personal and present use and enjoyment. All things are
yours, since Christ is yours. Only mind you imitate the spouse:
_when she found that the fruit was hers, she ate it_. Copy her
closely in this. It is a great fault in many believers, that they
do not appropriate the promises, and feed on them. Do not err as
they do. Under the shadow you have a right to eat the fruit. Deny
not yourselves the sacred entertainment.
     Now, it would appear, as we read the text, that _she obtained
this fruit without effort_. The proverb says, "He who would gain
the fruit must climb the tree." But she did not climb, for she
says, "I sat down under His shadow." I suppose the fruit dropped
down to her. I know that it is so with us. We no longer spend our
money for that which is not bread, and our labour for that which
satisfieth not; but we sit under our Lord's shadow, and we eat
that which is good, and our soul delights itself in sweetness.
Come Christian, enter into the calm rest of faith, by sitting down
beneath the cross, and thou shalt be fed even to the full.
     _The spouse rested while feasting:_ she sat and ate. So, O
true believer, rest whilst thou art feeding upon Christ! The
spouse says, "I sat, and I ate." Had she not told us in the former
chapter that the King _sat_ at His table? See how like the Church
is to her Lord, and the believer to his Saviour! We sit down also,
and we eat, even as the King doth. Right royally are we
entertained. His joy is in us, and His peace keeps our hearts and
minds.
     Further, notice that, _as the spouse fed upon this fruit, she
had a relish for it._ It is not every palate that likes every
fruit. Never dispute with other people about tastes of any sort,
for agreement is not possible. That dainty which to one person is
the most delicious is to another nauseous; and if there were a
competition as to which fruit is preferable to all the rest, there
would probably be almost as many opinions as there are fruits. But
blessed is he who hath a relish for Christ Jesus! Dear hearer, is
He sweet to you? Then He is yours. There never was a heart that
did relish Christ but what Christ belonged to that heart. If thou
hast been feeding on Him, and He is sweet to thee, go on feasting,
for He who gave thee a relish gives thee Himself to satisfy thine
appetite.
     What are the fruits which come from Christ? Are they not
peace with God, renewal of heart, joy in the Holy Ghost, love to
the brethren? Are they not regeneration, justification,
sanctification, adoption, and all the blessings of the covenant of
grace? And are they not each and all sweet to our taste? As we
have fed upon them, have we not said, "Yes, these things are
pleasant indeed. There is none like them. Let us live upon them
evermore"? Now, sit down, sit down and feed. It seems a strange
thing that we should have to persuade people to do that, but in
the spiritual world things are very different from what they are
in the natural. In the case of most men, if you put a joint of
meat before them, and a knife and fork, they do not need many
arguments to persuade them to fall to. But I will tell you when
they will not do it, and that is when they are full: and I will
also tell you when they will do it, and that is when they are
hungry. Even so, if thy soul is weary after Christ the Saviour,
thou wilt feed on Him; but if not, it is useless for me to preach
to thee, or bid thee come. However, thou that art there, sitting
under His shadow, thou mayest hear Him utter these words: "Eat, O
friend: drink, yea, drink abundantly." Thou canst not have too
much of these good things: the more of Christ, the better the
Christian.
     We know that the spouse feasted herself right heartily with
this food from the tree of life, for _in after days she wanted
more_. Will you kindly read on in the fourth verse? The verse
which contains our text describes, as it were, her first love to
her Lord, her country love, her rustic love. She went to the wood,
and she found Him there like an apple tree, and she enjoyed Him as
one relishes a ripe apple in the country. But she grew in grace,
she learned more of her Lord, and she found that her Best-beloved
was a King. I should not wonder but what she learned the doctrine
of the Second Advent, for then she began to sing, "He brought me
to the banqueting house." As much as to say,--He did not merely
let me know Him out in the fields as the Christ in His
humiliation, but He brought me into the royal palace; and, since
He is a King, He brought forth a banner with His own brave
escutcheon, and He waved it over me while I was sitting at the
table, and the motto of that banneret was love.
     She grew very full of this. It was such a grand thing to find
a great Saviour, a triumphant Saviour, an exalted Saviour! But it
was too much for her, and she became sick of soul with the
excessive glory of what she had learned; and do you see what her
heart craves for? She longs for her first simple joys, those
countrified delights. "Comfort me with apples," she says. Nothing
but the old joys will revive her. Did you ever feel like that? I
have been satiated with delight in the love of Christ as a
glorious exalted Saviour when I have seen Him riding on His white
horse, and going forth conquering and to conquer; I have been
overwhelmed when I have beheld Him in the midst of the throne,
with all the brilliant assembly of angels and archangels adoring
Him, and my thought has gone forward to the day when He shall
descend with all the pomp of God, and make all kings and princes
shrink into nothingness before the infinite majesty of His glory.
Then I have felt as though, at the sight of Him, I must fall at
His feet as dead; and I have wanted somebody to come and tell me
over again "the old, old story" of how He died in order that I
might be saved. His throne overpowers me, let me gather fruit from
His cross. Bring me apples from "the tree" again. I am awe-struck
while in the palace, let me get away to the woods again. Give me
an apple plucked from the tree, such as I have given out to boys
and girls in His family, such an apple as this, "Come unto Me all
ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Or
this: "This man receiveth sinners." Give me a promise from the
basket of the covenant. Give me the simplicity of Christ, let me
be a child and feast on apples again, if Jesus be the apple tree.
I would fain go back to Christ on the tree in my stead, Christ
overshadowing me, Christ feeding me. This is the happiest state to
live in. Lord, evermore give us these apples! You recollect the
old story we told, years ago, of Jack the huckster who used to
sing,--

     "I'm a poor sinner, and nothing at all,
     But Jesus Christ is my all in all."

     Those who knew him were astonished at his constant composure.
They had a world of doubts and fears, and so they asked him why he
never doubted. "Well," said he, "I can't doubt but what I am a
poor sinner, and nothing at all, for I know that, and feel it
every day. And why should I doubt that Jesus Christ is my all in
all? for He says He is." "Oh!" said his questioner, "I have my ups
and downs." "I don't," says Jack;" I can never go up, for I am a
poor sinner, and nothing at all; and I cannot go down, for Jesus
Christ is my all in all." He wanted to join the church, and they
said he must tell his experience. He said, "All my experience is
that I am a poor sinner, and nothing at all, and Jesus Christ is
my all in all." "Well," they said, "when you come before the
church-meeting, the minister may ask you questions." "I can't help
it," said Jack, "all I know I will tell you; and that is all I
know,--

     "'I'm a poor sinner, and nothing at all,
     But Jesus Christ is my all in all.'"

     He was admitted into the church, and continued with the
brethren, walking in holiness; but that was still all his
experience, and you could not get him beyond it. "Why," said one
brother, "I sometimes feel so full of grace, I feel so advanced in
sanctification, that I begin to be very happy." "I never do," said
Jack; "I am a poor sinner, and nothing at all." "But then," said
the other, "I go down again, and think I am not saved, because I
am not as sanctified as I used to be." "But I never doubt my
salvation," said Jack, "because Jesus Christ is my all in all, and
He never alters." That simple story is grandly instructive, for it
sets forth a plain man's faith in a plain salvation; it is the
likeness of a soul under the apple tree, resting in the shade, and
feasting on the fruit.
     Now, at this time I want you to think of Jesus, not as a
Prince, but as an apple tree; and when this is done, I pray you to
_sit down under His shadow_. It is not much to do. Any child, when
it is hot, can sit down in a shadow. I want you next to feed on
Jesus: any simpleton can eat apples when they are ripe upon the
tree. Come and take Christ, then. You who never came before, come
now. Come and welcome. You who have come often, and have entered
into the palace, and are reclining at the banqueting table, you
lords and peers of Christianity, come to the common wood and to
the common apple tree where poor saints are shaded and fed. You
had better come under the apple tree, like poor sinners such as I
am, and be once more shaded with boughs and comforted with apples,
for else you may faint beneath the palace glories. The best of
saints are never better than when they eat their first fare, and
are comforted with the apples which were their first gospel feast.
     The Lord Himself bring forth His own sweet fruit to you!
Amen.

  OVER THE MOUNTAINS.

     "My Beloved is mine, and I am His: He feedeth among the
lilies. Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my
Beloved, and be Thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains
of Bether."--Solomon's Song ii. 16, 17.
 

IT may be that there are saints who are always at their best, and
are happy enough never to lose the light of their Father's
countenance. I am not sure that there are such persons, for those
believers with whom I have been most intimate have had a varied
experience; and those whom I have known, who have boasted of their
constant perfectness, have not been the most reliable of
individuals. I hope there is a spiritual region attainable where
there are no clouds to hide the Sun of our soul; but I cannot
speak with positiveness, for I have not traversed that happy land.
Every year of my life has had a winter as well as a summer, and
every day its night. I have hitherto seen clear shinings and heavy
rains, and felt warm breezes and fierce winds. Speaking for the
many of my brethren, I confess that though the substance be in us,
as in the teil-tree and the oak, yet we do lose our leaves, and
the sap within us does not flow with equal vigour at all seasons.
We have our downs as well as our ups, our valleys as well as our
hills. We are not always rejoicing; we are sometimes in heaviness
through manifold trials. Alas! we are grieved to confess that our
fellowship with the Well-beloved is not always that of rapturous
delight; but we have at times to seek Him, and cry, "Oh, that I
knew where I might find Him!" This appears to me to have been in a
measure the condition of the spouse when she cried, "Until the day
break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my Beloved."
     I. These words teach us, first, that communion may be broken.
The spouse had lost the company of her Bridegroom: conscious
communion with Him was gone, though she loved her Lord, and sighed
for Him. In her loneliness she was sorrowful; but _she had by no
means ceased to love Him_, for she calls Him her Beloved, and
speaks as one who felt no doubt upon that point. Love to the Lord
Jesus may be quite as true, and perhaps quite as strong, when we
sit in darkness as when we walk in the light. Nay, _she had not
last her assurance of His love to her_, and of their mutual
interest in one another; for she says, "My Beloved is mine, and I
am His;" and yet she adds, "Turn, my Beloved." The condition of
our graces does not always coincide with the state of our joys. We
may be rich in faith and love, and yet have so low an esteem of
ourselves as to be much depressed.
     It is plain, from this Sacred Canticle, that the spouse may
love and be loved, may be confident in her Lord, and be fully
assured of her possession of Him, and yet there may for the
present be mountains between her and Him. Yes, we may even be far
advanced in the divine life, and yet be exiled for a while from
conscious fellowship. There are nights for men as well as babes,
and the strong know that the sun is hidden quite as well as do the
sick and the feeble. Do not, therefore, condemn yourself, my
brother, because a cloud is over you; cast not away your
confidence; but the rather let faith burn up in the gloom, and let
your love resolve to come at your Lord again whatever be the
barriers which divide you from Him.
     When Jesus is absent from a true heir of heaven, sorrow will
ensue. The healthier our condition, the sooner will that absence
be perceived, and the more deeply will it be lamented. This sorrow
is described in the text as darkness; this is implied in the
expression, "_Until the day break_." Till Christ appears, no day
has dawned for us. We dwell in midnight darkness; the stars of the
promises and the moon of experience yield no light of comfort till
our Lord, like the sun, arises and ends the night. We must have
Christ with us, or we are benighted: we grope like blind men for
the wall, and wander in dismay.
     The spouse also speaks of shadows. "Until the day break, _and
the shadows flee away_." Shadows are multiplied by the departure
of the sun, and these are apt to distress the timid. We are not
afraid of real enemies when Jesus is with us; but when we miss
Him, we tremble at a shade. How sweet is that song, "Yea, though I
walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no
evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort
me!" But we change our note when midnight is now come, and Jesus
is not with us: then we people the night with terrors: spectres,
demons, hobgoblins, and things that never existed save in fancy,
are apt to swarm about us; and we are in fear where no fear is.
     The spouse's worst trouble was that _the back of her Beloved
was turned to her_, and so she cried, "Turn, my Beloved." When His
face is towards her, she suns herself in His love; but if the
light of His countenance is withdrawn, she is sorely troubled. Our
Lord turns His face from His people though He never turns His
heart from His people. He may even close His eyes in sleep when
the vessel is tossed by the tempest, but His heart is awake all
the while. Still, it is pain enough to have grieved Him in any
degree: it cuts us to the quick to think that we have wounded His
tender heart. He is jealous, but never without cause. If He turns
His back upon us for a while, He has doubtless a more than
sufficient reason. He would not walk contrary to us if we had not
walked contrary to Him. Ah, it is sad work this! The presence of
the Lord makes this life the preface to the life celestial; but
His absence leaves us pining and fainting, neither doth any
comfort remain in the land of our banishment. The Scriptures and
the ordinances, private devotion and public worship, are all as
sun-dials,--most excellent when the sun shines, but of small avail
in the dark. O Lord Jesus, nothing can compensate us for Thy loss!
Draw near to Thy beloved yet again, for without Thee our night
will never end.

     "See! I repent, and vex my soul,
      That I should leave Thee so!
     Where will those vile affections roll
      That let my Saviour go?"

     When communion with Christ is broken, in all true hearts
_there is a strong desire to win it back again_. The man who has
known the joy of communion with Christ, if he loses it, will never
be content until it is restored. Hast thou ever entertained the
Prince Emmanuel? Is He gone elsewhere? Thy chamber will be dreary
till He comes back again. "Give me Christ or else I die," is the
cry of every spirit that has lost, the dear companionship of
Jesus. We do not part with such heavenly delights without many a
pang. It is not with us a matter of "maybe He will return, and we
hope He will;" but it must be, or we faint and die. We cannot live
without Him; and this is a cheering sign; for the soul that cannot
live without Him shall not live without Him: He comes speedily
where life and death hang on His coming. If you must have Christ
you shall have Him. This is just how the matter stands: we must
drink of this well or die of thirst; we must feed upon Jesus or
our spirit will famish.
     II. We will now advance a step, and say that when communion
with Christ is broken, there are great difficulties in the way of
its renewal. It is much easier to go down hill than to climb to
the same height again. It is far easier to lose joy in God than to
find the lost jewel. The spouse speaks of "mountains" dividing her
from her Beloved: she means that _the difficulties were great_.
They were not little hills, but mountains, that closed up her way.
Mountains of remembered sin, Alps of backsliding, dread ranges of
forgetfulness, ingratitude, worldliness, coldness in prayer,
frivolity, pride, unbelief. Ah me, I cannot teach you all the dark
geography of this sad experience! Giant walls rose before her like
the towering steeps of Lebanon. How could she come at her Beloved?
     _The dividing difficulties were many_ as well as great. She
does not speak of "a mountain", but of "mountains": Alps rose on
Alps, wall after wall. She was distressed to think that in so
short a time so much could come between her and Him of whom she
sang just now, "His left hand is under my head, and His right hand
doth embrace me." Alas, we multiply these mountains of Bether with
a sad rapidity! Our Lord is jealous, and we give Him far too much
reason, for hiding His face. A fault, which seemed so small at the
time we committed it, is seen in the light of its own
consequences, and then it grows and swells till it towers aloft,
and hides the face of the Beloved. Then has our sun gone down, and
fear whispers, "Will His light ever return? Will it ever be
daybreak? Will the shadows ever flee away?" It is easy to grieve
away the heavenly sunlight, but ah, how hard to clear the skies,
and regain the unclouded brightness!
     Perhaps the worst thought of all to the spouse was the dread
that _the dividing barrier might be permanent_. It was high, but
it might dissolve; the walls were many, but they might fall; but,
alas, they were mountains, and these stand fast for ages! She felt
like the Psalmist, when he cried, "My sin is ever before me." The
pain of our Lord's absence becomes: intolerable when we fear that
we are hopelessly shut out from Him. A night one can bear, hoping
for the morning; but what if the day should never break? And you
and I, if we have wandered away from Christ, and feel that there
are ranges of immovable mountains between Him and us, will feel
sick at heart. We try to pray, but devotion dies on our lips. We
attempt to approach the Lord at the communion table, but we feel
more like Judas than John. At such times we have felt that we
would give our eyes once more to behold the Bridegroom's face, and
to know that He delights in us as in happier days. Still there
stand the awful mountains, black, threatening, impassable; and in
the far-off land the Life of our life is away, and grieved.
     So the spouse seems to have come to the conclusion that _the
difficulties in her way were insurmountable by her own power_. She
does not even think of herself going over the mountains to her
Beloved, but she cries, "Until the day break, and the shadows flee
away, turn, my Beloved, and be Thou like a roe or a young hart
upon the mountains of Bether." She will not try to climb the
mountains, she knows she cannot: if they had been less high, she
might have attempted it; but their summits reach to heaven. If
they had been less craggy or difficult, she might have tried to
scale them; but these mountains are terrible, and no foot may
stand upon their lone crags. Oh, the mercy of utter self-despair!
I love to see a soul driven into that close corner, and forced
therefore to look to God alone. The end of the creature is the
beginning of the Creator. Where the sinner ends the Saviour
begins. If the mountains can be climbed, we shall have to climb
them; but if they are quite impassable, then the soul cries out
with the prophet, "Oh, that Thou wouldest rend the heavens, that
Thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at Thy
presence. As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the
waters to boil, to make Thy name known to Thine adversaries, that
the nations may tremble at Thy presence. When Thou didst terrible
things which we looked not for, Thou camest down, the mountains
flowed down at Thy presence." Our souls are lame, they cannot move
to Christ, and we turn our strong desires to Him, and fix our
hopes alone upon Him; will He not remember us in love, and fly to
us as He did to His servant of old when He rode upon a cherub, and
did fly, yea, He did fly upon the wings of the wind?
     III. Here arises that prayer of the text which fully meets
the case. "Turn, my Beloved, and be Thou like a roe or a young
hart upon the mountains of division." Jesus can come to us when we
cannot go to Him. The roe and the young hart, or, as you may read
it, the gazelle and the ibex, live among the crags of the
mountains, and leap across the abyss with amazing agility. For
swiftness and sure-footedness they are unrivalled. The sacred poet
said, "He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my
high places," alluding to the feet of those creatures which are so
fitted to stand securely on the mountain's side. Our blessed Lord
is called, in the title of the twenty-second Psalm, "the Hind of
the morning "; and the spouse in this golden Canticle sings, "My
Beloved is like a roe or a young hart; behold He cometh, leaping
upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills."
     Here I would remind you that this prayer is one that we may
fairly offer, because _it is the way of Christ to come to us_ when
our coming to Him is out of the question. "How?" say you. I answer
that of old He did this; for we remember "His great love wherewith
He loved us even when we were dead in trespasses and in sins." His
first coming into the world in human form, was it not because man
could never come to God until God had come to him? I hear of no
tears, or prayers, or entreaties after God on the part of our
first parents; but the offended Lord spontaneously gave the
promise that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's
head. Our Lord's coming into the world was unbought, unsought,
unthought of; he came altogether of His own free will, delighting
to redeem.

     "With pitying eyes, the Prince of grace
      Beheld our helpless grief;
     He saw, and (oh, amazing love!)
      He ran to our relief."

     His incarnation was a type of the way in which He comes to us
by His Spirit. He saw us cast out, polluted, shameful, perishing;
and as He passed by, His tender lips said, "Live!" In us is
fulfilled that word, "I am found of them that sought Me not." We
were too averse to holiness, too much in bondage to sin, ever to
have returned to Him if He had not turned to us. What think you?
Did He come to us when we were enemies, and will He not visit us
now that we are friends? Did He come to us when we were dead
sinners, and will He not hear us now that we are weeping saints?
If Christ's coming to the earth was after this manner, and if His
coming to each one of us was after this style, we may well hope
that now He will come to us in like fashion, like the dew which
refreshes the grass, and waiteth not for man, neither tarrieth for
the sons of men. Besides, He is coming again in person, in the
latter-day, and mountains of sin, and error, and idolatry, and
superstition, and oppression stand in the way of His kingdom; but
He will surely come and overturn, and overturn, till He shall
reign over all. He will come in the latter-days, I say, though He
shall leap the hills to do it, and because of that I am sure we
may comfortably conclude that He will draw near to us who mourn
His absence so bitterly. Then let us bow our heads a moment, and
silently present to His most excellent Majesty the petition of our
text: "Turn, my Beloved, and be Thou like a roe or a young hart
upon the mountains of division."
     Our text gives us sweet assurance that _our Lord is at home
with those difficulties_ which are quite insurmountable by us.
Just as the roe or the young hart knows the passes of the
mountains, and the stepping-places among the rugged rocks, and is
void of all fear among the ravines and the precipices, so does our
Lord know the heights and depths, the torrents and the caverns of
our sin and sorrow. He carried the whole of our transgression, and
so became aware of the tremendous load of our guilt. He is quite
at home with the infirmities of our nature; He knew temptation in
the wilderness, heart-break in the garden, desertion on the cross.
He is quite at home with pain and weakness, for "Himself took our
infirmities, and bare our sicknesses." He is at home with
despondency, for He was "a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with
grief." He is at home even with death, for He gave up the ghost,
and passed through the sepulchre to resurrection. O yawning gulfs
and frowning steeps of woe, our Beloved, like hind or hart, has
traversed your glooms! O my Lord, Thou knowest all that divides me
from Thee; and Thou knowest also that I am far too feeble to climb
these dividing mountains, so that I may come at Thee; therefore, I
pray Thee, come Thou over the mountains to meet my longing spirit!
Thou knowest each yawning gulf and slippery steep, but none of
these can stay Thee; haste Thou to me, Thy servant, Thy beloved,
and let me again live by Thy presence.
     _It is easy, too, for Christ to come over the mountains for
our relief_. It is easy for the gazelle to cross the mountains, it
is made for that end; so is it easy for Jesus, for to this purpose
was He ordained from of old that He might come to man in his worst
estate, and bring with Him the Father's love. What is it that
separates us from Christ? Is it a sense of sin? You have been
pardoned once, and Jesus can renew most vividly a sense of full
forgiveness. But you say, "Alas! I have sinned again: fresh guilt
alarms me." He can remove it in an instant, for the fountain
appointed for that purpose is opened, and is still full. It is
easy for the dear lips of redeeming love to put away the child's
offences, since He has already obtained pardon for the criminal's
iniquities. If with His heart's blood He won our pardon from our
Judge, he can easily enough bring us the forgiveness of our
Father. Oh, yes, it is easy enough for Christ to say again, "Thy
sins be forgiven"! "But I feel so unfit, so unable to enjoy
communion." He that healed all manner of bodily diseases can heal
with a word your spiritual infirmities. Remember the man whose
ankle-bones received strength, so that he ran and leaped; and her
who was sick of a fever, and was healed at once, and arose, and
ministered unto her Lord. "My grace is sufficient for thee; for My
strength is made perfect in weakness." "But I have such
afflictions, such troubles, such sorrows, that I am weighted down,
and cannot rise into joyful fellowship." Yes, but Jesus can make
every burden light, and cause each yoke to be easy. Your trials
can be made to aid your heavenward course instead of hindering it.
I know all about those heavy weights, and I perceive that you
cannot lift them; but skilful engineers can adapt ropes and
pulleys in such a way that heavy weights lift other weights. The
Lord Jesus is great at gracious machinery, and He has the art of
causing a weight of tribulation to lift from us a load of
spiritual deadness, so that we ascend by that which, like a
millstone, threatened to sink us down.
     What else doth hinder? I am sure that, if it were a sheer
impossibility, the Lord Jesus could remove it, for things
impossible with men are possible with God. But someone objects, "I
am so unworthy of Christ. I can understand eminent saints and
beloved disciples being greatly indulged, but I am a worm, and no
man; utterly below such condescension." Say you so? Know you not
that the worthiness of Christ covers your unworthiness, and He is
made of God unto you wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and
redemption? In Christ, the Father thinks not so meanly of you as
you think of yourself; you are not worthy to be called His child,
but He does call you so, and reckons you to be among His jewels.
Listen, and you shall hear Him say," Since thou wast precious in
My sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee. I gave
Egypt for thy ransom; Ethiopia and Seba for thee." Thus, then,
there remains nothing which Jesus cannot overleap if He resolves
to come to you, and re-establish your broken fellowship.
     To conclude, _our Lord can do all this directly_. As in the
twinkling of an eye the dead shall be raised incorruptible, so in
a moment can our dead affections rise to fulness of delight. He
can say to this mountain, "Be thou removed hence, and be thou cast
into the midst of the sea," and it shall be done. In the sacred
emblems now upon this supper table, Jesus is already among us.
Faith cries, "He has come!" Like John the Baptist, she gazes
intently on Him, and cries, "Behold the Lamb of God!" At this
table Jesus feeds us with His body and His blood. His corporeal
presence we have not, but His real spiritual presence we perceive.
We are like the disciples when none of them durst ask Him, "Who
art Thou?" knowing that it was the Lord. He is come. He looketh
forth at these windows,--I mean this bread and wine; showing
Himself through the lattices of this instructive and endearing
ordinance. He speaks. He saith, "The winter is past, the rain is
over and gone." And so it is; we feel it to be so: a heavenly
springtide warms our frozen hearts. Like the spouse, we
wonderingly cry, "Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the
chariots of Amminadib." Now in happy fellowship we see the
Beloved, and hear His voice; our heart burns; our affections glow;
we are happy, restful, brimming over with delight. The King has
brought us into his banqueting-house, and His banner over us is
love. It is good to be here!
     Friends, we must now go our ways. A voice saith, "Arise, let
us go hence." O Thou Lord of our hearts, go with us! Home will not
be home without Thee. Life will not be life without Thee. Heaven
itself would not be heaven if Thou wert absent. Abide with us. The
world grows dark, the gloaming of time draws on. Abide with us,
for it is toward evening. Our years increase, and we near the
night when dews fall cold and chill. A great future is all about
us, the splendours of the last age are coming down; and while we
wait in solemn, awe-struck expectation, our heart continually
cries within herself, "Until the day break, and the shadows flee
away, turn, my Beloved, and be Thou like a roe or a young hart
upon the mountains of division."

     "Hasten, Lord! the promised hour;
     Come in glory and in power;
     Still Thy foes are unsubdued;
     Nature sighs to be renew'd.
     Time has nearly reach'd its sum,
     All things with Thy bride say 'Come;'
     Jesus, whom all worlds adore,
     Come and reign for evermore!"
 
 
 

         FRAGRANT SPICES FROM THE MOUNTAINS OF MYRRH.

     "Thou art all fair, My love; there is no spot in thee."--
Solomon's Song iv. 7.
 

HOW marvellous are these words! "Thou art all fair, My love; there
is no spot in thee." The glorious Bridegroom is charmed with His
spouse, and sings soft canticles of admiration. When the bride
extols her Lord there is no wonder, for He deserves it well, and
in Him there is room for praise without possibility of flattery.
But does He who is wiser than Solomon condescend to praise this
sunburnt Shulamite? 'Tis even so, for these are His own words, and
were uttered by His own sweet lips. Nay, doubt not, O young
believer, for we have more wonders to reveal! There are greater
depths in heavenly things than thou hast at present dared to hope.
The Church not only is all fair in the eyes of her Beloved, but in
one sense she always was so.

     "In God's decree, her form He view'd;
     All beauteous in His eyes she stood,
     Presented by Th' eternal name,
     Betroth'd in love, and free from blame.

     "Not as she stood in Adam's fall,
     When guilt and ruin cover'd all;
     But as she'll stand another day,
     Fairer than sun's meridian ray."

     He delighted in her before she had either a natural or a
spiritual being, and from the beginning could He say, "My delights
were with the sons of men." (Prov. viii. 31.) Having covenanted to
be the Surety of the elect, and having determined to fulfil every
stipulation of that covenant, He from all eternity delighted to
survey the purchase of His blood, and rejoiced to view His Church,
in the purpose and decree, as already by Him delivered from sin,
and exalted to glory and happiness.

     "Oh, glorious grace, mysterious plan
     Too great for angel-mind to scan,
     Our thoughts are lost, our numbers fail;
     All hail, redeeming love, all hail!"

     Now with joy and gladness let us approach the subject of
Christ's delight in His Church, as declared by Him whom the Spirit
has sealed in our hearts as the faithful and true Witness.
     Our first bundle of myrrh lies in the open hand of the text.
     I. Christ has a high esteem for his church. He does not
blindly admire her faults, or even conceal them from Himself. He
is acquainted with her sin, in all its heinousness of guilt, and
desert of punishment. That sin He does not shun to reprove. His
own words are, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." (Rev
iii. 19.) He abhors sin in her as much as in the ungodly world,
nay even more, for He sees in her an evil which is not to be found
in the transgressions of others,--sin against love and grace. She
is black in her own sight, how much more so in the eyes of her
Omniscient Lord! Yet there it stands, written by the inspiration
of the Holy Spirit, and flowing from the lips of the Bridegroom,
"Thou art all fair, My love; there is no spot in thee." How then
is this? Is it a mere exaggeration of love, an enthusiastic
canticle, which the sober hand of truth must strip of its glowing
fables? Oh, no! The King is full of love, but He is not so
overcome with it as to forget His reason. The words are true, and
He means us to understand them as the honest expression of His
unbiassed judgment, after having patiently examined her in every
part. He would not have us diminish aught, but estimate the gold
of His opinions by the bright glittering of His expressions; and,
therefore, in order that there may be no mistake, _He states it
positively:_ "Thou art all fair, My love," _and confirms it by a
negative:_ "there is no spot in thee."
     When He speaks _positively_, how complete is His admiration!
She is "fair", but that is not a full description; He styles her
"all fair." He views her in Himself, washed in His sin-atoning
blood, and clothed in His meritorious righteousness, and He
considers her to be full of comeliness and beauty. No wonder that
such is the case, since it is but His own perfect excellences that
He admires, seeing that the holiness, glory, and perfection of His
Church are His own garments on the back of His own well-beloved
spouse, and she is "bone of His bone, and flesh of His flesh." She
is not simply pure, or well-proportioned; she is positively lovely
and fair! She has actual merit! Her deformities of sin are
removed; but more, she has through her Lord obtained a meritorious
righteousness by which an actual beauty is conferred upon her.
Believers have a positive righteousness given to them when they
become "accepted in the Beloved." (Eph. i. 6.)
     Nor is the Church barely lovely, she is _superlatively so_.
Her Lord styles her, "Thou fairest among women." (Sol. Song i. 8.)
She has a real worth and excellence which cannot be rivalled by
all the nobility and royalty of the world. If Jesus could exchange
His elect bride for all the queens and empresses of earth, or even
for the angels in heaven, He would not, for He puts her first and
foremost,--"fairest among women." Nor is this an opinion which He
is ashamed of, for He invites all men to hear it. He puts a
"behold" before it, a special note of exclamation, inviting and
arresting attention. "_Behold_, thou art fair, My love; _behold_,
thou art fair." (Sol. Song iv. 1.) His opinion He publishes abroad
even now, and one day from the throne of His glory He will avow
the truth of it before the assembled universe. "Come, ye blessed
of My Father" (Matt. xxv. 34), will be His solemn affirmation of
the loveliness of His elect.
     Let us mark well _the repeated sentences of His approbation_.

     "Lo, thou art fair! lo, thou art fair!
      Twice fair thou art, I say;
     My righteousness and graces are
      Thy double bright array.

     "But since thy faith can hardly own
      My beauty put on thee;
     Behold! behold! twice be it known
      Thou art all fair to Me!"

     He turns again to the subject, a second time looks into those
doves' eyes of hers, and listens to her honey-dropping lips. It is
not enough to say, "Behold, thou art fair, My love;" He rings that
golden bell again, and sings again, and again, "Behold, thou art
fair."
     After having surveyed her whole person with rapturous
delight, He cannot be satisfied until He takes a second gaze, and
afresh recounts her beauties. Making but little difference between
His first description and the last, he adds extraordinary
expressions of love to manifest His increased delight. "Thou art
beautiful, O My love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as
an army with banners. Turn away thine eyes from Me, for they have
overcome Me: thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from
Gilead. Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep which go up from the
washing, whereof every one beareth twins, and there is not one
barren among them. As a piece of a pomegranate are thy temples
within thy locks. . . . My dove, My undefiled is but one; she is
the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare
her." (Sol. Song vi. 4-7, 9.)
     The beauty which He admires is _universal_, He is as much
enchanted with her temples as with her breasts. All her offices,
all her pure devotions, all her earnest labours, all her constant
sufferings, are precious to His heart. She is "all fair." Her
ministry, her psalmody, her intercessions, her alms, her watching,
all are admirable to Him, when performed in the Spirit. Her faith,
her love, her patience, her zeal, are alike in His esteem as "rows
of jewels" and "chains of gold." (Sol. Song i. 10.) He loves and
admires her everywhere. In the house of bondage, or in the land of
Canaan, she is ever fair. On the top of Lebanon His heart is
ravished with one of her eyes, and in the fields and villages He
joyfully receives her loves. He values her above gold and silver
in the days of His gracious manifestations, but He has an equal
appreciation of her when He withdraws Himself, for it is
immediately after He had said, "Until the day break, and the
shadows flee away, I will get Me to the mountain of myrrh, and to
the hill of frankincense," (Sol. Song iv. 6,) that He exclaims, in
the words of our text, "Thou art all fair, My love." At all
seasons believers are very near the heart of the Lord Jesus, they
are always as the apple of His eye, and the jewel of His crown.
Our name is still on His breastplate, and our persons are still in
His gracious remembrance. He never thinks lightly of His people;
and certainly in all the compass of His Word there is not one
syllable which looks like contempt of them. They are the choice
treasure and peculiar portion of the Lord of hosts; and what king
will undervalue his own inheritance? What loving husband will
despise his own wife? Let others call the Church what they may,
Jesus does not waver in His love to her, and does not differ in
His judgment of her, for He still exclaims, "How fair and how
pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!" (Sol. Song vii. 6.)
     Let us remember that He who pronounces the Church and each
individual believer to be "all fair" is none other than the
glorious Son of God, who is "very God of very God." Hence His
declaration is decisive, since infallibility has uttered it. There
can be no mistake where the all-seeing Jehovah is the Judge. If He
has pronounced her to be incomparably fair, she is so, beyond a
doubt; and though hard for our poor puny faith to receive, it is
nevertheless as divine a verity as any of the undoubted doctrines
of revelation.
     Having thus pronounced her _positively_ full of beauty, He
now confirms His praise by _a precious negative_: "There is no
spot in thee." As if the thought occurred to the Bridegroom that
the carping world would insinuate that He had only mentioned her
comely parts, and had purposely omitted those features which were
deformed or defiled, He sums all up by declaring her universally
and entirely fair, and utterly devoid of stain. A spot may soon be
removed, and is the very least thing that can disfigure beauty,
but even from this little blemish the Church is delivered in her
Lord's sight. If He had said there is no hideous scar, no horrible
deformity, no filthy ulcer, we might even then have marvelled; but
when He testifies that she is free from the slightest spot, all
these things are included, and the depth of wonder is increased.
If He had but promised to remove all spots, we should have had
eternal reason for joy; but when He Speaks of it as already done,
who can restrain the most intense emotions of satisfaction and
delight? O my soul, here is marrow and fatness for thee; eat thy
full, and be abundantly glad therein!
     Christ Jesus has no quarrel with His spouse. She often
wanders from Him, and grieves His Holy Spirit, but He does not
allow her faults to affect His love. He sometimes chides, but it
is always in the tenderest manner, with the kindest intentions;--
it is "My love" even then. There is no remembrance of our follies,
He does not cherish ill thoughts of us, but He pardons, and loves
as well after the offence as before it. It is well for us it is
so, for if Jesus were as mindful of injuries as we are, how could
He commune with us? Many a time a believer will put himself out of
humour with the Lord for some slight turn in providence, but our
precious Husband knows our silly hearts too well to take any
offence at our ill manners.
     If He were as easily provoked as we are, who among us could
hope for a comfortable look or a kind salutation? but He is "ready
to pardon, . . . slow to anger." (Neh. ix. 17.) He is like Noah's
sons, He goes backward, and throws a cloak over our nakedness; or
we may compare Him to Apelles, who, when he painted Alexander, put
his finger over the scar on the cheek, that it might not be seen
in the picture. "He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither
hath He seen perverseness in Israel" (Num. xxiii. 21); and hence
He is able to commune with the erring sons of men.
     But the question returns,--How is this? Can it be explained,
so as not to clash with the most evident fact that sin remaineth
even in the hearts of the regenerate? Can our own daily bewailings
of sin allow of anything like perfection as a present attainment?
The Lord Jesus saith it, and therefore it must be true; but in
what sense is it to be understood? How are we "all fair" though we
ourselves feel that we are black, because the sun hath looked upon
us? (Sol. Song i. 6.) The answer is ready, if we consider the
analogy of faith.
     1. In the matter of justification, the saints are complete
and without sin. As Durham says, these words are spoken "in
respect of the imputation of Christ's righteousness wherewith they
are adorned, and which they have put on, which makes them very
glorious and lovely, so that they are beautiful beyond all others,
through His comeliness put upon them."
     And Dr. Gill excellently expresses the same idea, when he
writes, "though all sin is seen by God, _in articulo providentiae,
in the matter of providence_, wherein nothing escapes His all-
seeing eye; yet _in articula iustificationis, in the matter of
justification_, He sees no sin in His people, so as to reckon it
to them, or condemn them for it; for they all stand 'holy and
unblameable and unreproveable in His sight.'" (Col. i. 22.) The
blood of Jesus removes all stain, and His righteousness confers
perfect beauty; and, therefore, in the Beloved, the true believer
is at this hour as much accepted and approved, in the sight of
God, as He will be when He stands before the throne in heaven. The
beauty of justification is at its fulness the moment a soul is by
faith received into the Lord Jesus. This is righteousness so
transcendent that no one can exaggerate its glorious merit. Since
this righteousness is that of Jesus, the Son of God, it is
therefore divine, and is, indeed, the holiness of God; and, hence,
Kent was not too daring when, in a bold flight of rapture, he
sang,--

     "In thy Surety thou art free,
     His dear hands were pierced for thee;
     With His spotless vesture on,
     Holy as the Holy One.

     "Oh, the heights and depths of grace,
     Shining with meridian blaze;
     Here the sacred records show
     Sinners black, but comely too!"

     2. But perhaps it is best to understand this as relating to
the design of Christ concerning them. It is His purpose to present
them without "spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." (Eph. v. 27.)
They shall be holy and unblameable and unreproveable in the sight
of the Omniscient God. In prospect of this, the Church is viewed
as being virtually what she is soon to be actually. Nor is this a
frivolous antedating of her excellence; for be it ever remembered
that the Representative, in whom she is accepted, is actually
complete in all perfections and glories at this very moment. As
the Head of the body is already without sin, being none other than
the Lord from heaven, it is but in keeping that the whole body
should be pronounced comely and fair through the glory of the
Head. The fact of her future perfection is so certain that it is
spoken of as if it were already accomplished, and indeed it is so
in the mind of Him to whom a thousand years are but as one day.
"Christ often expounds an honest believer, from His own heart,
purpose and design; in which respect they get many titles,
otherwise unsuitable to their present condition. (Durham.) Let us
magnify the name of our Jesus, who loves us so well that He will
overleap the dividing years of our pilgrimage, that He may give us
even now the praise which seems to be only fitted for the
perfection of Paradise. As Erskine sings,--

     "My love, thou seem'st a loathsome worm:
      Yet such thy beauties be,
     I spoke but half thy comely form;
      Thou'rt wholly fair to Me.

     "Whole justified, in perfect dress;
      Nor justice, nor the law
     Can in thy robe of righteousness
      Discern the smallest flaw.

     "Yea, sanctified in ev'ry part,
      Thou art perfect in design:
     And I judge thee by what thou art
      In thy intent and Mine.

     "Fair love, by grace complete in Me,
      Beyond all beauteous brides;
     Each spot that ever sullied thee
      My purple vesture hides."

     II. Our Lord's admiration is sweetened by love. He addresses
the spouse as "My love." The virgins called her "the fairest among
women"; they saw and admired, but it was reserved for her Lord to
love her. Who can fully tell the excellence of His love? Oh, how
His heart goeth forth after His redeemed! As for the love of David
and Jonathan, it is far exceeded in Christ. No tender husband was
ever so fond as He. No figures can completely set forth His
heart's affection, for it surpasses all the love that man or woman
hath heard or thought of. Our blessed Lord, Himself, when He would
declare the greatness of it, was compelled to compare one
inconceivable thing with another, in order to express His own
thoughts. "As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you."
(John xv. 9.) All the eternity, fervency, immutability, and
infinity which are to be found in the love of Jehovah the Father,
towards Jehovah-Jesus the Son, are copied to the letter in the
love of the Lord Jesus towards His chosen ones. Before the
foundation of the world He loved His people, in all their
wanderings He loved them, and unto the end He will abide in His
love. (John xiii. 1.) He has given them the best proof of His
affection, in that He gave Himself to die for their sins, and hath
revealed to them complete pardon as the result of His death. The
willing manner of His death is further confirmation of His
boundless love. How Christ did delight in the work of our
redemption! "Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written
of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O my God." (Psalm xl. 7, 8.) When
He came into the world to sacrifice His life for us, it was a
freewill offering. "I have a baptism to be baptized with." (Luke
xii. 50.) Christ was to be, as it were, baptized in His own blood,
and how did He thirst for that time! "How am I straitened till it
be accomplished." There was no hesitation, no desire to be quit of
His engagement. He went to His crucifixion without once halting by
the way to deliberate whether He should complete His sacrifice.
The stupendous mass of our fearful debt He paid at once, asking
neither delay nor diminution. From the moment when He said, "Not
My will, but Thine, be done" (Luke xxii. 42), His course was swift
and unswerving; as if He had been hastening to a crown rather than
to a cross. The fulness of time was His only remembrancer; He was
not driven by bailiffs to discharge the obligations of His Church,
but joyously, even when full of sorrow, He met the law, answered
its demands, and cried, "It is finished."
     How hard it is to talk of love so as to convey out meaning
with it! How often have our eyes been full of tears when we have
realized the thought that Jesus loves us! How has our spirit been
melted within us at the assurance that He thinks of us and bears
us on His heart! But we cannot kindle the like emotion in others,
nor can we give, by word of mouth, so much as a faint idea of the
bliss which coucheth in that exclamation, "Oh, how He loves!"
Come, reader, canst thou say of thyself, "He loved me"? (Gal. ii.
20.) Then look down into this sea of love, and endeavour to guess
its depth. Doth it not stagger thy faith, that He should love
_thee?_ Or, if thou hast strong confidence, say, does it not
enfold thy spirit in a flame of admiring and adoring gratitude? O
ye angels, such love as this ye never knew! Jesus doth not bear
your names upon His hands, or call you His bride. No! this highest
fellowship he reserves for worms whose only return is tearful,
hearty thanksgiving and love.
     III. Let us note that Christ delights to think upon his
Church, and to look upon her beauty. As the bird returneth often
to its nest, and as the wayfarer hastens to his home, so doth the
mind continually pursue the object of its choice. We cannot look
too often upon that face which we love; we desire always to have
our precious things in our sight. It is even so with our Lord
Jesus. From all eternity, "His delights were with the sons of
men;" His thoughts rolled onward to the time when His elect should
be born into the world; He viewed them in the mirror of His fore-
knowledge. "In thy book," He says, "all my members were written,
which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of
them." (Ps. cxxxix. 16.) When the world was set upon its pillars,
He was there, and He set the bounds of the people according to the
number of the children of Israel. Many a time, before His
incarnation, He descended to this earth in the similitude of a
man; on the plains of Mamre (Gen. xviii.), by the brook of Jabbok
(Gen. xxxii. 24-30), beneath the walls of Jericho (Josh. v. 13),
and in the fiery furnace of Babylon (Dan. iii. 19-25), the Son of
man did visit His people. Because His soul delighted in them, He
could not rest away from them, for His heart longed after them.
Never were they absent from His heart, for He had written their
names upon His hands, and graven them upon His heart. As the
breast-plate containing the names of the tribes of Israel was the
most brilliant ornament worn by the high priest, so the names of
Christ's elect were His most precious Jewels, which He ever hung
nearest His heart. We may often forget to meditate upon the
perfections of our Lord, but He never ceases to remember us. He
cares not one half so much for any of His most glorious works as
He does for His children. Although His eye seeth everything that
hath beauty and excellence in it, He never fixes His gaze anywhere
with that admiration and delight which He spends upon His
purchased ones. He charges His angels concerning them, and calls
upon those holy beings to rejoice with Him over His lost sheep.
(Luke xv. 4-7.) He talked of them to Himself, and even on the tree
of doom He did not cease to soliloquize concerning them. He saw of
the travail of His soul, and He was abundantly satisfied.

     "That day acute of ignominious woe,
     Was, notwithstanding, in a perfect sense,
     'The day of His heart's gladness,' for the joy
     That His redeem'd should be brought home at last
     (Made ready as in robes of bridal white),
     Was set before Him vividly,--He look'd;--
     And for that happiness anticipate,
     Endurance of all torture, all disgrace,
     Seem'd light infliction to His heart of love."

     Like a fond mother, Christ Jesus, our thrice-blessed Lord,
sees every dawning of excellence, and every bud of goodness in us,
making much of our litties, and rejoicing over the beginnings of
our graces. As He is to be our endless song, so we are His
perpetual prayer. When He is absent He thinks of us, and in the
black darkness He has a window through which He looks upon us.
When the sun sets in one part of the earth, he rises in another
place beyond our visible horizon; and even so Jesus, our Sun of
Righteousness, is only pouring light upon His people in a
different way, when to our apprehension He seems to have set in
darkness. His eye is ever upon the vineyard, which is His Church:
"I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any
hurt it, I will keep it night and day." (Isa. xxvii. 3.) He will
not trust to His angels to do it, for it is His delight to do all
with His own hands. Zion is in the centre of His heart, and He
cannot forget her, for every day His thoughts are set upon her.
When the bride by her neglect of Him hath hidden herself from His
sight, He cannot be quiet until again He looks upon her. He calls
her forth with the most wooing words, "O My dove, that art in the
clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let Me see
thy countenance; let Me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice,
and thy countenance is comely." (Sol. Song ii. 14.) She thinks
herself unmeet to keep company with such a Prince, but He entices
her from her lurking-place, and inasmuch as she comes forth
trembling, and bashfully hides her face with her veil, He bids her
uncover her face, and let her Husband gaze upon her. She is
ashamed to do so, for she is black in her own esteem, and
therefore He urges that she is comely to Him.
     Nor is He content with looking, He must feed His ears as well
as His eyes, and therefore He commends her speech, and intreats
her to let Him hear her voice. See how truly our Lord rejoiceth in
us. Is not this unparalleled love! We have heard of princes who
have been smitten by the beauty of a peasant's daughter, but what
of that? Here is the Son of God doting upon a worm, looking with
eyes of admiration upon a poor child of Adam, and listening with
joy to the lispings of poor flesh and blood. Ought we not to be
exceedingly charmed by such matchless condescension? And should
not our hearts as much delight in Him as He doth in us? O
surprising truth! Christ Jesus rejoices over His poor, tempted,
tried, and erring people.
     IV. It is not to be forgotten that sometimes the Lord Jesus
tells His people His love thoughts. "He does not think it enough
behind her back to tell it, but in her very presence, He says,
'Thou art all fair, My love.' It is true, this is not His ordinary
method; He is a wise lover, that knows when to keep back the
intimation of love, and when to let it out; but there are times
when He will make no secret of it; times when He will put it
beyond all dispute in the souls of His people."
     The Holy Spirit is often pleased in a most gracious manner to
witness with our spirits of the love of Jesus. He takes of the
things of Christ, and reveals them unto us. No voice is heard from
the clouds, and no vision is seen in the night, but we have a
testimony more sure than either of these. If an angel should fly
from heaven, and inform the saint personally of the Saviour's love
to him, the evidence would not be one whir more satisfactory than
that which is borne in the heart by the Holy Ghost. Ask those of
the Lord's people who have lived the nearest to the gates of
heaven, and they will tell you that they have had seasons when the
love of Christ towards them has been a fact so clear and sure,
that they could no more doubt it than they could question their
own existence.
     Yes, beloved believer, you and I have had times of refreshing
from the presence of the Lord, and then our faith has mounted to
the topmost heights of assurance. We have had confidence to lean
our heads upon the bosom of our Lord, and we have had no more
question about our Master's affection than John had when in that
blessed posture, nay, nor so much; for the dark question, "Lord,
is it I that shall betray Thee?" has been put far from us. He has
kissed us with the kisses of His love, and killed our doubts by
the closeness of His embrace. His love has been sweeter than wine
to our souls. We felt that we could sing, "His left hand is under
my head, and His right hand doth embrace me." (Sol. Song viii. 3.)
Then all earthly troubles were light as the chaff of the
threshing-floor, and the pleasures of the world as tasteless as
the white of an egg. We would have welcomed death as the messenger
who would introduce us to our Lord to whom we were in haste to be
gone; for His love had stirred us to desire more of Him, even His
immediate and glorious presence. I have, sometimes, when the Lord
has assured me of His love, felt as if I could not contain more
joy and delight. My eyes ran down with tears of gratitude. I fell
upon my knees to bless Him, but rose again in haste, feeling as if
I had nothing more to ask for, but must stand up and praise Him;
then have I lifted my hands to heaven, longing to fill my arms
with Him; panting to talk with Him, as a man talketh with his
friend, and to see Him in His own person, that I might tell Him
how happy He had made His unworthy servant, and might fall on my
face, and kiss His feet in unutterable thankfulness and love. Such
a banquet have I had upon one word of my Beloved,--"_thou art
Mine_,"--that I wished, like Peter, to build tabernacles in that
mount, and dwell for ever. But, alas, we have not, all of us, yet
learned how to preserve that blessed assurance. We stir up our
Beloved and awake Him, then He leaves our unquiet chamber, and we
grope after Him, and make many a weary journey trying to find Him.
     If we were wiser and more careful, we might preserve the
fragrance of Christ's words far longer; for they are not like the
ordinary manna which soon rotted, but are comparable to that omer
of it which was put in the golden pot, and preserved for many
generations. The sweet Lord Jesus has been known to write his
love-thoughts on the heart of His people in so clear and deep a
manner, that they have for months, and even for years, enjoyed an
abiding sense of His affection. A few doubts have flitted across
their minds like thin clouds before a summer's sun, but the warmth
of their assurance has remained the same for many a gladsome day.
Their path has been a smooth one, they have fed in the green
pastures beside the still waters, for His rod and staff have
comforted them, and His right hand hath led them. I am inclined to
think that there is more of this in the Church than some men would
allow. We have a goodly number who dwell upon the hills, and
behold the light of the sun. There are giants in these days,
though the times are not such as to allow them room to display
their gigantic strength; in many a humble cot, in many a crowded
workshop, in many a village manse there are to be found men of the
house of David, men after God's own heart, anointed with the holy
oil. It is, however, a mournful truth, that whole ranks in the
army of our Lord are composed of dwarfish Littlefaiths. The men of
fearful mind and desponding heart are everywhere to be seen. Why
is this? Is it the Master's fault, or ours? Surely _He_ cannot be
blamed. Is it not then a matter of enquiry in our own souls, Can I
not grow stronger? Must I be a mourner all my days? How can I get
rid of my doubts? The answer must be: yes, you can be comforted,
but only the mouth of the Lord can do it, for anything less than
this will be unsatisfactory.
     I doubt not that there are means, by the use of which those
who are now weak and trembling may attain unto boldness in faith
and confidence in hope; but I see not how this can be done unless
the Lord Jesus Christ manifest His love to them, and tell them of
their union to Him. This He will do, if we seek it of Him. The
importunate pleader shall not lack his reward. Haste thee to Him,
O timid one, and tell Him that nothing will content thee but a
smile from His own face, and a word from His own lips! Speak to
Him, and say, "O my Lord Jesus, I cannot rest unless I know that
Thou lovest me! I desire to have proof of Thy love under Thine own
hand and seal.
     I cannot live upon guesses and surmises; nothing but
certainty will satisfy my trembling heart. Lord, look upon me, if,
indeed, Thou lovest me, and though I be less than the least of all
saints, say unto my soul, 'I am thy salvation.'" When this prayer
is heard, the castle of despair must totter; there is not one
stone of it which can remain upon another, if Christ whispers
forth His love. Even Despondency and Much-afraid will dance, and
Ready-to-Halt leap upon his crutches.
     Oh, for more of these Bethel visits, more frequent
visitations from the God of Israel! Oh, how sweet to hear Him say
to us, as He did to Abraham, "Fear not, Abram, I am thy shield,
and thy exceeding great reward." (Gen. xv. 1.) To be addressed as
Daniel was of old, "O man greatly beloved" (Dan. x. 19), is worth
a thousand ages of this world's joy. What more can a creature want
this side of heaven to make him peaceful and happy than a plain
avowal of love from his Lord's own lips? Let me ever hear Thee,
speak in mercy to my soul, and, O my Lord, I ask no more while
here I dwell in the land of my pilgrimage!
     Brethren, let us labour to obtain a confident assurance of
the Lord's delight in us, for this, as it enables Him to commune
with us, will be one of the readiest ways to produce a like
feeling in our hearts towards Him. Christ is well pleased with us;
let us approach Him with holy familiarity; let us unbosom our
thoughts to Him, for His delight in us will secure us an audience.
The child may stay away from the father, when he is conscious that
he has aroused his father's displeasure, but why should we keep at
a distance when Christ Jesus is smiling upon us? No! since His
smiles attract us, let us enter into His courts, and touch His
golden sceptre. O Holy Spirit, help us to live in happy fellowship
with Him whose soul is knit unto us!

     "O Jesus! let eternal blessings dwell
     On Thy transporting name.    *   *   *
     Let me be wholly Thine from this blest hour.
     Let Thy lov'd image be for ever present;
     Of Thee be all my thoughts, and let my tongue
     Be sanctified with the celestial theme.
     Dwell on my lips, Thou dearest, sweetest name!
     Dwell on my lips, 'till the last parting breath!
     Then let me die, and bear the charming sound
     In triumph to the skies. In other strains,
     In language all divine, I'll praise Thee then;
     While all the Godhead opens in the view
     Of a Redeemer's love. Here let me gaze,
     For ever gaze; the bright variety
     Will endless joy and admiration yield.
     Let me be wholly Thine from this blest hour.
     Fly from my soul all images of sense,
     Leave me in silence to possess my Lord:
     My life, my pleasures, flow from Him alone,
     My strength, my great salvation, and my hope.
     Thy name is all my trust; O name divine!
     Be Thou engraven on my inmost soul,
     And let me own Thee with my latest breath,
     Confess Thee in the face of ev'ry horror,
     That threat'ning death or envious hell can raise;
     Till all their strength subdu'd, my parting soul
     Shall give a challenge to infernal rage,
     And sing salvation to the Lamb for ever."
 
 
 

                       THE WELL-BELOVED.

                A COMMUNION ADDRESS AT MENTONE.

     "Yea, He is altogether lovely."--Solomon's Song v. 16.
 

THE soul that is familiar with the Lord worships Him in the outer
court of nature, wherein it admires His _works_, and is charmed by
every thought of what He must be who made them all. When that soul
enters the nearer circle of inspiration, and reads the wonderful
_words_ of God, it is still more enraptured, and its admiration is
heightened. In revelation, we see the same all-glorious Lord as in
creation, but the vision is more clear, and the consequent love is
more intense.
     The Word is an inner court to the Creation; but there is yet
an innermost sanctuary, and blessed are they who enter it, and
have fellowship with the Lord Himself. We come to Christ, and in
coming to Him we come to God; for Jesus says, "He that hath seen
Me hath seen the Father." When we know the Lord Jesus, we stand
before the mercy-seat, where the glory of Jehovah shineth forth. I
like to think of the text as belonging to those who are as priests
unto God, and stand in the Holy of holies, while they say, "Yea,
He is altogether lovely." His works are marvellous, His words are
full of majesty, but He Himself is altogether lovely.
     Can we come into this inner circle? All do not enter here.
Alas! many are far off from Him, and are blind to His beauties.
"He was despised and rejected of men," and He is so still. They do
not see God in His works, but dream that these wonders were
evolved, and not created by the Great Primal Cause. As for His
words, they seem to them as idle tales, or, at best, as inspired
only in the same sense as the language of Shakespeare or Spenser.
They see not the Lord in the stately aisles of Holy Scripture; and
have no vision of _Himself_. May He, who openeth the eyes of the
blind, have pity on them!
     Certain others are in a somewhat happier position, for they
are enquirers after Christ. They are like the persons who, in the
ninth verse of the chapter, asked, "What is thy Beloved more than
another beloved, O thou fairest among women? What is thy Beloved
more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us?" They want
to know who this Jesus is. But they have not seen Him yet, and
cannot join with the spouse in saying, "He is altogether lovely."
     If we enter this sacred inner circle, we must become
witnesses, as she does who speaks of Christ, "Yea, He is
altogether lovely." She knows what He is, for she has seen Him.
The verses which precede the text are a description of every
feature of the heavenly Bridegroom; all His members are there set
forth with richness of Oriental imagery. The spouse speaks what
she knows. Have we, also, seen the Lord? Are we His familiar
acquaintances? If so, may the Lord help us to understand our text!
     If we are to know the full joy of the text, we must come to
our Lord as His intimates. He permits us this high honour, since,
in this ordinance, He makes us His table-companions. He says,
"Henceforth I call you not servants; but I have called you
friends." He calls upon us to eat bread with Him; yea, to partake
of Himself, by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Oh, that
we may pass beyond the outward signs into the closest intimacy
with _Himself!_ Perhaps, when you are at home, you will examine
the spouse's description of her Lord. It is a wonderful piece of
tapestry. She has wrought into its warp and woof all things
charming, sweet, and precious. In Him she sees all lovely
colours,--"My Beloved is white and ruddy." In comparison with Him
all others fail, for He is "chief among ten thousand" chieftains.
She cannot think of Him as comparable to anything less valuable
than "fine gold." She sees, soaring in the air, birds of divers
wing; and these must aid her, whether it be the raven or the dove.
The rivers of waters, and the beds of spices and myrrh-dropping
lilies, must come into the picture, with sweet flowers and goodly
cedars. All kinds of treasured things are in Him; for He is like
to gold rings set with the beryl, and bright ivory overlaid with
sapphires, and pillars of marble set upon sockets of fine gold.
She labours to describe His beauty and His excellency, and strains
all comparisons to their utmost use, and somewhat more; and yet
she is conscious of failure, and therefore sums up all with the
pithy sentence, "Yea, He is altogether lovely."
     If the Holy Spirit will help me, I should like to lift the
veil, that we may, in sacred contemplation, look on our Beloved.
     I. We would do so, first, with reverent emotions. In the
words before us, "Yea, He is altogether lovely," two emotions are
displayed, namely, admiration and affection.
     It is _admiration_ which speaks of Him as "altogether lovely"
or beautiful. This admiration rises to the highest degree. The
spouse would fain show that her Beloved is more than any other
beloved; therefore she cries, "He is altogether lovely." Surely no
one else has reached that point. Many are lovely, but no one save
Jesus is "altogether lovely." We see something that is lovely in
one, and another point is lovely in another; but all loveliness
meets in Him. Our soul knows nothing which can rival Him: He is
the gathering up of all sorts of loveliness to make up one perfect
loveliness. He is the climax of beauty; the crown of glory; the
uttermost of excellence.
     Our admiration of Him, also, is unrestrained. The spouse
dared to say, even in the presence of the daughters of Jerusalem,
who were somewhat envious, "Yea, He is altogether lovely." They
knew not, as yet, His perfections; they even asked, "What is thy
Beloved more than another beloved?" But she was not to be blinded
by their want of sympathy, neither did she withhold her testimony
from fear of their criticism. To her, He was "altogether lovely",
and she could say no less. Our admiration of Christ is such that
we would tell the kings of the earth that they have no majesty in
His presence; and tell the wise men that He alone is wisdom; and
tell the great and mighty that He is the blessed and only
Potentate, King of kings, and Lord of lords.
     Our admiration of our Lord is inexpressible. We can never
tell all we know of our Lord; yet all our knowledge is little. All
that we know is, that His love passeth knowledge, that His
excellence baffles understanding, that His glory is unutterable.
We can embrace Him by our love, but we can scarcely touch Him with
our intellect, He is so high, so glorious. As to describing Him,
we cry, with Mr. Berridge,--

     "Then my tongue would fain express
     All His love and loveliness;
     But I lisp, and falter forth
     Broken words, not half His worth.

     "Vex'd, I try and try again,
     Still my efforts all are vain:
     Living tongues are dumb at best,
     We must die to speak of Christ."

     "He is altogether lovely." Do we not feel an inexpressible
admiration for Him? There is none like unto Thee, O Son of God!
     Still, our paramount emotion is not admiration, but
_affection_. "He is altogether"--not beautiful, nor admirable,--
but "lovely." All His beauties are loving beauties towards us, and
beauties which draw our hearts towards Him in humble love. He
charms us, not by a cold comeliness, but by a living loveliness,
which wins our hearts. His is an approachable beauty, which not
only overpowers us with its glory, but holds us captive by its
charms. We love Him: we cannot do otherwise, for "He is altogether
lovely." He has within Himself and unquenchable flame of love,
which sets our soul on fire. He is all love, and all the love in
the world is less than His. Put together all the loves of husband
wives, parents, children, brothers, sisters, and they only make a
drop compared with His great deeps of love, unexplored and
unexplorable. This love of His has a wonderful power to beget love
in unlovely hearts, and to nourish it into a mighty force. " It is
a torrent which sweeps all before it when its founts break forth
within the soul. It is a Gulf Stream in which all icebergs melt.
When our heart is full of love to Jesus, His loveliness becomes
the passion of the soul, and sin and self are swept away. May we
feel it now!
     There He stands: we know Him by the thorn-crown, and the
wounds, and the visage more marred than that of any man! He
suffered all this for us. O Son of man! O Son of God! With the
spouse, we feel, in the inmost depths of our soul, that Thou art
"altogether lovely."
     II. Now would I lift the veil a second time, with deep
solemnity, not so much to suggest emotions as to secure your
intelligent assurance of the fact that "He is altogether lovely."
We say this with absolute certainty. The spouse places a "Yea"
before her enthusiastic declaration, because she is sure of it.
She sees her Beloved, and sees Him to be altogether lovely. This
is no fiction, no dream, no freak of imagination, no outburst of
partiality. The highest love to Christ does not make us speak more
than the truth; we are as reasonable when we are filled with love
to Him as ever we were in our lives; nay, never are we more
reasonable than when we are carried clean away by a clear
perception of His superlative excellence.
     Let us meditate upon the proof of our assertion. "He is
altogether lovely" _in His person_. He is God. The glory of
Godhead I must leave in lowly silence. Yet is our Jesus also man,
more emphatically man than any one here present this afternoon,
for we are English, American, French, German, Dutch, Russian; but
Christ is man, the second Adam, the Head of the race: as truly as
He is very God of very God, so is He man, of the substance of His
mother. What a marvellous union! The miracle of miracles! In his
incomparible personality He is altogether lovely; for in Him we
see how God comes down to man in condescension, and how man goes
up to God in close relationship. There is no other such as He, in
all respects, even in heaven itself: in His personality He must
ever stand alone, in the eyes of both God and man, "altogether
lovely."
     As for _His character_, time would fail us to enter upon that
vast subject; but the more we know of the character of our Lord,
and the more we grow like Him, the more lovely will it appear to
us. In all aspects, it is lovely; in all its minutiae and details,
it is perfect; and as a whole, it is perfection's model. Take any
one action of His, look into its mode, its spirit, its motive, and
all else that can be revealed by a microscopic examination, and it
is "altogether lovely." Consider his life, as a whole, in
reference to God, to man, to His friends, to His foes, to those
around Him, and to the ages yet to be, and you shall find it
absolutely perfect. More than that: there is such a thing as a
cold perfection, with which one can find no fault, and yet it
commands no love; but in Christ, our Well-beloved, every part of
His character attracts. To a true heart, the life of Christ is as
much an object of love as of reverence: "He is altogether lovely."
We must _love_ that which we see in Him: admiration is not the
word. When cold critics commend Him, their praise is half an
insult: what know these frozen hearts of our Beloved? As for a
word against Him, it wounds us to the soul. Even an omission of
His praise is a torture to us. If we hear a sermon which has no
Christ in it, we weary of it. If we read a book that contains a
slighting syllable of Him, we abhor it. He, Himself, has become
everything to us now, and only in the atmosphere of fervent love
to Him can we feel at home.
     Passing from His character to _His sacrifice;_ there
especially "He is altogether lovely." You may have read
"Rutherford's Letters"; I hope you have. How wondrously he writes,
when he describes his Lord in garments red from His sweat of
blood, and with hands bejewelled with His wounds! When we view His
body taken down from the cross, all pale and deathly, and wrapped
in the cerements of the grave, we see a strange beauty in Him. He
is to us never more lovely than when we read in our Beloved's
white and red that His Sacrifice is accomplished, and He has been
obedient unto death for us. In Him, as the sacrifice once offered,
we see our pardon, our life, our heaven, our all. So lovely is
Christ in His sacrifice, that He is for ever most pleasing to the
great Judge of all, ay, so lovely to His Father, that He makes us
also lovely to God the Father, and we are "accepted in the
Beloved." His sacrifice has such merit and beauty in the sight of
heaven, that in Him God is well pleased, and guilty men become in
Him pleasant unto the Lord. Is not His sacrifice most sweet to us?
Here our guilty conscience finds peace; here we see ourselves made
comely in His comeliness. We cannot stand at Calvary, and see the
Saviour die, and hear Him cry, "It is finished," without feeling
that "He is altogether lovely." Forgive me that I speak so coolly!
I dare not enter fully into a theme which would pull up the
sluices of my heart.
     Remember what He was when He rose from the grave on the third
day. Oh, to have seen Him in the freshness of _His resurrection
beauty!_ And what will He be in _His glory_, when He comes again
the second time, and all His holy angels with Him, when He shall
sit upon the throne of His glory, and heaven and earth shall flee
away before His face? To His people He will then be "altogether
lovely." Angels will adore Him, saints made perfect will fall on
their faces before Him; and we ourselves shall feel that, at last,
our heaven is complete. We shall see Him, and being like Him, we
shall be satisfied.
     _Every feature of our Lord is lovely._ You cannot think of
anything that has to do with Him which is unworthy of our praise.
All over glorious is our Lord. The spouse speaks of His head, His
locks, His eyes, His cheeks, His lips, His hands, His legs, His
countenance, His mouth; and when she has mentioned them all, she
sums up with reference to all by saying, "Yea, He is altogether
lovely."
     There is _nothing unlovely about Him_. Certain persons would
be beautiful were it not for a wound or a bruise, but our Beloved
is all the more lovely for His wounds; the marring of His
countenance has enhanced its charms. His scars are, for glory and
for beauty, the jewels of our King. To us He is lovely even from
that side which others dread: His very frown has comfort in it to
His saints, since He only frowns on evil. Even His feet, which are
"like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace," are lovely
to us for His sake; these are His poor saints, who are sorely
tried, but are able to endure the fire. Everything of Christ,
everything that partakes of Christ, everything that hath a flavour
or savour of Christ, is lovely to us.
     There is _nothing lacking about His loveliness_. Some would
be very lovely were there a brightness in their eyes, or a colour
in their countenances: but something is away. The absence of a
tooth or of an eyebrow may spoil a countenance, but in Christ
Jesus there is no omission of excellence. Everything that should
be in Him is in Him; everything that is conceivable in perfection
is present to perfection in Him.
     _In Him is nothing excessive_. Many a face has one feature in
it which is overdone; but in our Lord's character everything is
balanced and proportionate. You never find His kindness lessening
His holiness, nor His holiness eclipsing His wisdom, nor His
wisdom abating His courage, nor His courage injuring His meekness.
Everything is in our Lord that should be there, and everything in
due measure. Like rare spices, mixed after the manner of the
apothecary, our Lord's whole person, and character, and sacrifice,
are as incense sweet unto the Lord.
     _Neither is there anything in our Lord which is incongruous
with the rest_. In each one of us there is, at least, a little
that is out of place. We could not be fully described without the
use of a "but." If we could all look within, and see ourselves as
God sees us, we should note a thousand matters, which we now
permit, which we should never allow again. But in the Well-beloved
all is of a piece, all is lovely; and when the sum of the whole is
added up, it comes to an absolute perfection of loveliness: "Yea,
He is altogether lovely."
     We are sure that the Lord Jesus must be Himself exceedingly
lovely, since _He gives loveliness to His people_. Many saints are
lovely in their lives; one reads biographies of good men and women
which make us wish to grow like them; yet all the loveliness of
all the most holy among men has come from Jesus their Lord, and is
a copy of His perfect beauty. Those who write well do so because
He sets the copy.
     What is stranger and more wonderful still, _our Lord Jesus
makes sinners lovely._ In their natural state, men are deformed
and hideous to the eye of God; and as they have no love to God, so
He has no delight in them. He is weary of them, and is grieved
that He made men upon the earth. The Lord is angry with the wicked
every day. Yet, when our Lord Jesus comes in, and covers these
sinful ones with His righteousness, and, at the same time, infuses
into them His life, the Lord is well pleased with them for His
Son's sake. Even in heaven, the infinite Jehovah sees nothing
which pleases Him like His Son. The Father from eternity loved His
Only-begotten, and again and again He hath said of Him, "This is
My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." What higher encomium
can be passed upon Him?
     If we had time to think over this subject, we should say of
our Lord that _He is lovely in every office._ He is the most
admirable Priest, and King, and Prophet that ever yet exercised
the office. He is a lovely Shepherd of a chosen flock, a lovely
Friend, lovely Husband, a lovely Brother: He is admirable in every
position that He occupies for our sakes.
     _Our Lord's loveliness appears in every condition:_ in the
manger, or in the temple; by the well, or on the sea; in the
garden, or on the cross; in the tomb, or in the resurrection; in
His first, or in His second coming. He is not as the herb, which
flowers only at one season; or as the tree, which loses its leaves
in winter; or as the moon, which waxes and wanes; or as the sea,
which ebbs and flows. In every condition, and at every time, "He
is altogether lovely."
     _He is lovely, whichever way we look at Him._ If we view Him
as in the past, entering into a covenant of peace on our behalf;
or, in the present, yielding Himself to us as Intercessor,
Representative, and Forerunner; or, in the future, coming,
reigning, and glorifying His people; "He is altogether lovely."
Behold Him from heaven, view Him from the gates of hell, regard
Him as he goes before, look up to Him as He sits above; He is as
beautiful from one point of view as from another; "Yea, He is
altogether lovely." Wherever we may be, He is the same in His
perfection. How lovely He was to my eyes when I was sinking in
despair! To see Him suffering for my sin upon the tree, was as the
opening of the gates of the morning to my darkened soul. How
lovely He is to us when we are sick, and the hours of night seem
lengthened into days! "He giveth songs in the night." How lovely
has He been to us when the world has frowned, and friends have
forsaken, and worldly goods have been scant! To see "the King in
His beauty" is a sight sufficient, even if we never saw another
ray of comfort. How blessed, when we lie dying, to hear Him say,
"I am the resurrection and the life"! Mark that word; He says not,
"I will give you resurrection and life," but, "I am the
resurrection and the life." Blessed are the eyes which can see
that in Jesus which is really in Him. When we think of seeing Him
as He is, and being like Him, how heaven approaches us! We shall
soon behold the beatific vision, of which He will be the centre
and the sun. At the thought thereof our soul takes wing, and our
imagination soars aloft, while our faith, with eagle eye, beholds
the glory. As we think of that glad period, when we shall be with
our Beloved for ever, we are ready to swoon away with delight. It
is near, far nearer than we think.
     III. The little time which we can give to this meditation has
run out, and therefore I hasten to a close. I have bidden you look
at our Lord as "altogether lovely" with reverent emotions, and
with absolute certainty. Now, to conclude, think of Him with
practical results. "He is altogether lovely." What shall we do for
this chief among ten thousand?
     First, _we will tell others of Him_. For that cause was our
text spoken. The daughters of Jerusalem asked the spouse, "What is
thy Beloved more than another beloved?" Her answer is here: "He is
altogether lovely." It is a great joy to praise our Lord to
enquiring minds. We, who are preachers, have a glorious time of it
when we extol our Lord. If we had nothing to do but to preach
Christ, and had no discipline to administer, no sin to battle
with, no doubts to drive away, we should have a heavenly service.
For my part, I wish I could be bound over to play only upon this
one string. Paul did well when he turned ignoramus, and determined
to know nothing among the Corinthians save Jesus Christ, and Him
crucified. As the harp of Anacreon would resound love alone, so
would I have but one sole subject for my ministry,--the love and
loveliness of my Lord. Then to speak would be its own reward; and
to study and prepare discourses would be only a phase of rest.
Fain would I make my whole ministry to speak of Christ and His
surpassing loveliness.
     You who are not preachers cannot do better than speak much of
Jesus, as opportunity offers. Make _Him_ the theme of
conversation. People talk about ministers; but we beg you to talk
of our Master. Our undecided neighbours are always talking of
hypocrites and inconsistent professors; but we would say to them,
"Never mind about His followers: talk about the Master Himself."
His followers, by themselves considered, never were worth your
words; but what a theme is this,-- "He is altogether lovely"! Our
Lord's people are far worthier than the world thinks them to be;
for my part, I rejoice in the many gracious and beautiful
characters with which I meet, but even if all the ill reports we
hear were true, this would not detract from the loveliness of our
Lord, who is infinitely beyond all praise.
     The next practical result of viewing the loveliness of our
blessed Lord is, that _we appropriate Him to ourselves_, grasping
Him with our two hands of faith and love, and making the rest of
the verse to be our own: "This is my Beloved, and this is my
Friend, O daughters of Jerusalem!" Since He is so amiable, He must
be "my Beloved"; my heart clings to Him. Since He is admirable, I
rejoice that He is "my Friend"; my soul trusts in Him. The heart
that most appreciates Jesus is the most eager to appropriate Him.
He who beholds Jesus as "altogether lovely" will never rest till
he is altogether sure that Jesus is altogether his own. I think I
may also add that appreciation is in great measure the seal of
appropriation, for the soul that values Christ most is the soul
that hath most surely taken possession of Christ. Sometimes a
heart prizes the Lord very highly, and tremblingly longs for Him;
but it is my conviction that the very fact of prizing Him argues a
measure of possession of Him. Jesus never wins a heart to which He
refuses His love. If thou lovest Him, He loves thee: be sure of
that. No soul ever cries, "Yea, He is altogether lovely," without
sooner or later adding, "This is my Beloved, and this is my
Friend."
     Rest not, any one of you, till you know of a surety that
Jesus is yours. Do not be content with a hope, struggle after the
full assurance of faith. This is to be had, and you ought not to
be content without it. It may be your lifelong song, "My Beloved
is mine, and I am His." You need not pine in the shade: the sun is
shining, "walk in the light." Away with the idea that we cannot
know whether we are condemned or forgiven, in Christ or out of
Him! We may know, we must know; and, as we appreciate our Lord, we
shall know. Either Jesus is ours, or He is not. If He is, let us
rejoice in the priceless possession. If He is not ours, let us at
once lay hold upon Him by faith; for, the moment we trust Him, He
is ours. The enjoyment of religion lies in assurance: a mere hope
is scant diet.
     Once more, it is a fair fruit of our delight in our Lord that
_our valuation of Him becomes a bond of union between us and
others_. The spouse cries, "This is my Beloved, and this is my
Friend, O daughters of Jerusalem!" and they reply, "Whither is thy
Beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? Whither is thy Beloved
turned aside, that we may seek Him with thee?" Thus, you see, they
institute a companionship through the Well-beloved. Few of us, in
this room, would ever have known each other, had it not been for
our common admiration of the Lord Jesus. We should have gone on
walking past each other by the sea to this day, and we should have
missed much cheering fellowship. Our Lord has become our centre;
we meet in Him, and feel that in Him we are partakers of one life.
We seek our Well-beloved together, and around His table we find
Him together; and finding Him, we have found one another, and the
lost jewel of Christian love glitters on every bosom. We have
differing views on certain parts of divine truth; and I do not
know that it is wrong for us to differ where the Holy Spirit has
left truth without rigidly defining it. We are bound each one
devoutly to use his judgment in the interpretation of the Sacred
Word; but we all agree in this one clear judgment: "Yea, He is
altogether lovely." This is the point of union. Those who
enthusiastically love the same person are on the way to loving
each other. This is growingly our case; and it is the same with
all spiritual people. Professors quarrel, but possessors are at
one. We hear much discourse upon "the Unity of the Church" as a
thing to be desired, and we may heartily agree with it; but it
would be well also to remember that in the true Church of Christ
real union already exists. Our Lord prayed for those whom the
Father had given Him, that they might be one, and the Father
granted the prayer: the Lord's own people are one. In this room we
have an example of how closely we are united in Christ. Some of
you are more at home in this assembly, taken out of all churches,
than you are in the churches to which you nominally belong. Our
union in one body as Episcopalians, Baptists, Presbyterians, or
Independents, is not the thing which our Lord prayed for; but our
union _in Himself_. _That_ union we do at this moment enjoy; and
therefore do we eat of one bread, and drink of one cup, and are
baptized into one Spirit, at His feet who is to each one of us,
and so to all of us, altogether lovely.

     "White and ruddy is my Belov?d,
      All His heavenly beauties shine;
     Nature can't produce an object,
      Nor so glorious, so divine;
       He hath wholly
      Won my soul to realms above.

     "Farewell, all ye meaner creatures,
      For in Him is every store;
     Wealth, or friends, or darling beauty,
      Shall not draw me any more;
       In my Saviour
      I have found a glorious whole."
 
 
 

              THE SPICED WINE OF MY POMEGRANATE;

              OR, THE COMMUNION OF COMMUNICATION.

     I would cause Thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my
pomegranate."--Solomon's Song viii. 2.

     And of His fulness have all we received, and grace for
grace."--John i. 16.
 

THE immovable basis of communion having been laid of old in the
eternal union which subsisted between Christ and His elect, it
only needed a fitting occasion to manifest itself in active
development. The Lord Jesus had for ever delighted Himself with
the sons of men, and he ever stood prepared to reveal and
communicate that delight to His people; but they were incapable of
returning His affection or enjoying His fellowship, having fallen
into a state so base and degraded, that they were dead to Him, and
careless concerning Him. It was therefore needful that something
should be done for them, and in them, before they could hold
converse with Jesus, or feel concord with Him. This preparation
being a work of grace and a result of previous union, Jesus
determined that, even in the preparation for communion, there
should be communion. If they must be washed before they could
fully converse with Him, He would commune with them in the
washing; and if they must be enriched by gifts before they could
have full access to Him, He would commune with them in the giving.
He has therefore established a fellowship in imparting His grace,
and in partaking of it.
     This order of fellowship we have called "The Communion of
Communication," and we think that a few remarks will prove that we
are not running beyond the warranty of Scripture.
     The word koinwnia, or communion, is frequently employed by
inspired writers in the sense of communication or contribution.
When, in our English version, we read, "For it hath pleased them
of Macedonia and Achaia to make _a certain contribution_ for the
poor saints which are at Jerusalem" (Romans xv. 26), it is
interesting to know that the word koinonia used, as if to show
that the generous gifts of the Church in Achaia to its sister
Church at Jerusalem was a communion. Calvin would have us notice
this, because, saith he, "The word here employed well expresses
the feeling by which it behoves us to succour the wants of our
brethren, even because there is to be a common and mutual regard
on account of the union of the body." He would not have strained
the text if he had said that there was in the contribution the
very essence of communion. Gill, in his commentary upon the above
verse, most pertinently remarks, "Contribution, or communion, as
the word signifies, it being one part of the communion of churches
and of saints to relieve their poor by communicating to them." The
same word is employed in Hebrews xiii. 16, and is there translated
by the word "_communicate_." "But to do good, and to communicate,
forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." It
occurs again in 2 Corinthians ix. 13, "And for your liberal
_distribution_ unto them, and unto all men;" and in numerous other
passages the careful student will observe the word in various
forms, representing the ministering of the saints to one another
as an act of fellowship. Indeed, at the Lord's supper, which is
the embodiment of communion, we have ever been wont to make a
special contribution for the poor of the flock, and we believe
that in the collection there is as true and real an element of
communion as in the partaking of the bread and wine. The giver
holds fellowship with the receiver when he bestows his benefaction
for the Lord's sake, and because of the brotherhood existing
between him and his needy friends. The teacher holds communion
with the young disciple when he labours to instruct him in the
faith, being moved thereto by a spirit of Christian love. He who
intercedes for a saint because he desires his well-being as a
member of the one family, enters into fellowship with his brother
in the offering of prayer. The loving and mutual service of
church-members is fellowship of a high degree. And let us remember
that the recipient communes with the benefactor: the communion is
not confined to the giver, but the heart overflowing with
liberality is met by the heart brimming with gratitude, and the
love manifested in the bestowal is reciprocated in the acceptance.
When the hand feeds the mouth or supports the head, the divers
members feel their union, and sympathize with one another; and so
is it with the various portions of the body of Christ, for they
commune in mutual acts of love.
     Now, this meaning of the word communion furnishes us with
much instruction, since it indicates the manner in which
recognized fellowship with Jesus is commenced and maintained,
namely, by giving and receiving, by _communication_ and reception.
The Lord's supper is the divinely-ordained exhibition of
communion, and therefore in it there is the breaking of bread and
the pouring forth of wine, to picture the free gift of the
Saviour's body and blood to us; and there is also the eating of
the one and the drinking of the other, to represent the reception
of these priceless gifts by us. As without bread and wine there
could be no Lord's supper, so without the gracious bequests of
Jesus to us there would have been no communion between Him and our
souls: and as participation is necessary before the elements truly
represent the meaning of the Lord's ordinance, so is it needful
that we should receive His bounties, and feed upon His person,
before we can commune with Him.
     It is one branch of this mutual communication which we have
selected as the subject of this address. "Looking unto Jesus," who
hath delivered us from our state of enmity, and brought us into
fellowship with Himself, we pray for the rich assistance of the
Holy Spirit, that we may be refreshed in spirit, and encouraged to
draw more largely from the covenant storehouse of Christ Jesus the
Lord.
     We shall take a text, and proceed at once to our delightful
task. "_And of His fulness have all we received, and grace for
grace_." (John i. 16.)
     As the life of grace is first begotten in us by the Lord
Jesus, so is it constantly sustained by Him. We are always drawing
from this sacred fountain, always deriving sap from this divine
root; and as Jesus communes with us in the bestowing of mercies,
it is our privilege to hold fellowship with Him in the receiving
of them.
     There is this difference between Christ and ourselves, He
never gives without manifesting fellowship, but we often receive
in so ill a manner that communion is not reciprocated, and we
therefore miss the heavenly opportunity of its enjoyment. We
frequently receive grace insensibly, that is to say, the sacred
oil runs through the pipe, and maintains our lamp, while we are
unmindful of the secret influence. We may also be the partakers of
many mercies which, through our dulness, we do not perceive to be
mercies at all; and at other times well-known blessings are
recognized as such, but we are backward in tracing them to their
source in the covenant made with Christ Jesus.
     Following out the suggestion of our explanatory preface, we
can well believe that when the poor saints received the
contribution of their brethren, many of them did in earnest
acknowledge the fellowship which was illustrated in the generous
offering, but it is probable that some of them merely looked upon
the material of the gift, and failed to see the spirit moving in
it. Sensual thoughts in some of the receivers might possibly, at
the season when the contribution was distributed, have
mischievously injured the exercise of spirituality; for it is
possible that, after a period of poverty, they would be apt to
give greater prominence to the fact that their need was removed
than to the sentiment of fellowship with their sympathizing
brethren. They would rather rejoice over famine averted than
concerning fellowship manifested. We doubt not that, in many
instances, the mutual benefactions of the Church fail to reveal
our fellowship to our poor brethren, and produce in them no
feelings of communion with the givers.
     Now this sad fact is an illustration of the yet more
lamentable statement which we have made. We again assert that, as
many of the partakers of the alms of the Church are not alive to
the communion contained therein, so the Lord's people are never
sufficiently attentive to fellowship with Jesus in receiving His
gifts, but many of them are entirely forgetful of their privilege,
and all of them are too little aware of it. Nay, worse than this,
how often doth the believer pervert the gifts of Jesus into food
for his own sin and wantonness! We are not free from the
fickleness of ancient Israel, and well might our Lord address us
in the same language: "Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon
thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread My skirt
over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and
entered into a covenant with Thee, saith the Lord God, and thou
becamest Mine. Then washed I thee with water; yea, I throughly
washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil. I
clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgersÕ
skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee
with silk. I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets
upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. And I put a jewel on thy
forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon
thine head. Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy
raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou
didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding
beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom. And thy renown
went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect
through My comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord
God. But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and playedst the
harlot because of thy renown." (Ezek. xvi. 8-16.)
     Ought not the mass of professors to confess the truth of this
accusation? Have not the bulk of us most sadly departed from the
purity of our love? We rejoice, however, to observe a remnant of
choice spirits, who live near the Lord, and know the sweetness of
fellowship. These receive the promise and the blessing, and so
digest them that they become good blood in their veins, and so do
they feed on their Lord that they grow up into Him. Let us imitate
those elevated minds, and obtain their high delights. There is no
reason why the meanest of us should not be as David, and David as
the servant of the Lord. We may now be dwarfs, but growth is
possible; let us therefore aim at a higher stature. Let the
succeeding advice be followed, and, the Holy Spirit helping us, we
shall have attained thereto.
     _Make every time of need a time of embracing thy Lord_. Do
not leave the mercy-seat until thou hast clasped Him in thine
arms. In every time of need He has promised to give thee grace to
help, and what withholdeth thee from obtaining sweet fellowship as
a precious addition to the promised assistance? Be not as the
beggar who is content with the alms, however grudgingly it may be
cast to him; but, since thou art a near kinsman, seek a smile and
a kiss with every benison He gives thee. Is He not better than His
mercies? What are they without Him? Cry aloud unto Him, and let
thy petition reach His ears, "O my Lord, it is not enough to be a
partaker of Thy bounties, I must have Thyself also; if Thou dost
not give me Thyself with Thy favours, they are but of little use
to me! O smile on me, when Thou blessest me, for else I am still
unblest! Thou puttest perfume into all the flowers of Thy garden,
and fragrance into Thy spices; if Thou withdrawest Thyself, they
are no more pleasant to me. Come, then, my Lord, and give me Thy
love with Thy grace." Take good heed, Christian, that thine own
heart is in right tune, that when the fingers of mercy touch the
strings, they may resound with full notes of communion. How sad is
it to partake of favour without rejoicing in it! Yet such is often
the believer's case. The Lord casts His lavish bounties at our
doors, and we, like churls, scarcely look out to thank Him. Our
ungrateful hearts and unthankful tongues mar our fellowship, by
causing us to miss a thousand opportunities for exercising it.
     If thou wouldst enjoy communion with the Lord Jesus in the
reception of His grace, _endeavor to be always sensibly drawing
supplies from Him_. Make thy needs public in the streets of thine
heart, and when the supply is granted, let all the powers of thy
soul be present at the reception of it. Let no mercy come into
thine house unsung. Note in thy memory the list of thy Master's
benefits. Wherefore should the Lord's bounties be hurried away in
the dark, or buried in forgetfulness? Keep the gates of thy soul
ever open, and sit thou by the wayside to watch the treasures of
grace which God the Spirit hourly conveys into thy heart from
Jehovah--Jesus, thy Lord.
     Never let an hour pass without drawing upon the bank of
heaven. If all thy wants seem satisfied, look steadfastly until
the next moment brings another need, and then delay not, but with
this warrant of necessity, hasten to thy treasury again. Thy
necessities are so numerous that thou wilt never lack a reason for
applying to the fulness of Jesus; but if ever such an occasion
should arise, enlarge thine heart, and then there will be need of
more love to fill the wider space. But do not allow any
supposititious riches of thine own to suspend thy daily receivings
from the Lord Jesus. You have constant need of Him. You need His
intercession, His upholding, His sanctification; you need that He
should work all your works in you, and that He should preserve you
unto the day of His appearing. There is not one moment of your
life in which you can do without Christ. Therefore be always at
His door, and the wants which you bemoan shall be remembrances to
turn your heart unto your Saviour. Thirst makes the heart pant for
the waterbrooks, and pain reminds man of the physician. Let your
wants conduct you to Jesus, and may the blessed Spirit reveal Him
unto you while He lovingly affords you the rich supplies of His
love! Go, poor saint, let thy poverty be the cord to draw thee to
thy rich Brother. Rejoice in the infirmity which makes room for
grace to rest upon thee, and be glad that thou hast constant needs
which compel thee perpetually to hold fellowship with thine
adorable Redeemer.
     Study thyself, seek out thy necessities, as the housewife
searches for chambers where she may bestow her summer fruits.
Regard thy wants as rooms to be filled with more of the grace of
Jesus, and suffer no corner to be unoccupied. Pant after more of
Jesus. Be covetous after Him. Let all the past incite thee to seek
greater things. Sing the song of the enlarged heart,--

     "All this is not enough: methinks I grow
     More greedy by fruition; what I get
      Serves but to set
     An edge upon my appetite;
     And all Thy gifts invite
      My pray'rs for more."

     Cry out to the Lord Jesus to fill the dry beds of thy rivers
until they overflow, and then empty thou the channels which have
hitherto been filled with thine own self-sufficiency, and beseech
Him to fill these also with His superabundant grace. If thy heavy
trials sink thee deeper in the flood of His consolations, be glad
of them; and if thy vessel shall be sunken up to its very
bulwarks, be not afraid. I would be glad to feel the mast-head of
my soul twenty fathoms beneath the surface of such an ocean; for,
as Rutherford said, "Oh, to be over the ears in this well! I would
not have Christ's love entering into me, but I would enter into
it, and be swallowed up of that love." Cultivate an insatiable
hunger and a quenchless thirst for this communion with Jesus
through His communications. Let thine heart cry for ever, "Give,
give," until it is filled in Paradise.

     "O'ercome with Jesu's condescending love,
     Brought into fellowship with Him and His,
     And feasting with Him in His house of wine,
     I'm sick of love,--and yet I pant for more
     Communications from my loving Lord.
     Stay me with flagons full of choicest wine,
     Press'd from His heart upon Mount Calvary,
     To cheer and comfort my love-conquer'd soul.
      * * * Thyself I crave!
     Thy presence is my life, my joy, my heav'n,
     And all, without Thyself, is dead to me.
     Stay me with flagons, Saviour, hear my cry,
     Let promises, like apples, comfort me;
     Apply atoning blood, and cov'nant love,
     Until I see Thy face among the guests
     Who in Thy Father's kingdom feast."
        (Nymphas, by JOSEPH IRONS.)

     This is the only covetousness which is allowable: but this is
not merely beyond rebuke, it is worthy of commendation. O saints,
be not straitened in your own bowels, but enlarge your desires,
and so receive more of your Saviour's measureless fulness! I
charge thee, my soul, thus to hold continual fellowship with thy
Lord, since He invites and commands thee thus to partake of His
riches.
     _Rejoice thyself in benefits received_. Let the satisfaction
of thy spirit overflow in streams of joy. When the believer
reposes all his confidence in Christ, and delights himself in Him,
there is an exercise of communion. If he forgetteth his psalm-
book, and instead of singing is found lamenting, the mercies of
the day will bring no communion. Awake, O music! stir up thyself,
O my soul, be glad in the Lord, and exceedingly rejoice! Behold
His favours, rich, free, and continual; shall they be buried in
unthankfulness? Shall they be covered with a winding-sheet of
ingratitude? No! I will praise Him. I must extol Him. Sweet Lord
Jesus, let me kiss the dust of Thy feet, let me lose myself in
thankfulness, for Thy thoughts unto me are precious, how great is
the sum of them! Lo, I embrace Thee in the arms of joy and
gratitude, and herein I find my soul drawn unto Thee!
     This is a blessed method of fellowship. It is kissing the
divine lip of benediction with the sanctified lip of affection.
Oh, for more rejoicing grace, more of the songs of the heart, more
of the melody of the soul!
     _Seek to recognize the source of thy mercies as lying alone
in Him who is our Head_. Imitate the chicken, which, every time it
drinketh of the brook, lifts up its head to heaven, as if it would
return thanks for every drop. If we have anything that is
commendable and gracious, it must come from the Holy Spirit, and
that Spirit is first bestowed on Jesus, and then through Him on
us. The oil was first poured on the head of Aaron, and thence it
ran down upon his garments. Look on the drops of grace, and
remember that they distil from the Head, Christ Jesus. All thy
rays are begotten by this Sun of Righteousness, all thy showers
are poured from this heaven, all thy fountains spring from this
great and immeasurable depth. Oh, for grace to see the hand of
Jesus on every favour! So will communion be constantly and firmly
in exercise. May the great Teacher perpetually direct us to Jesus
by making the mercies of the covenant the handposts on the road
which leadeth to Him. Happy is the believer who knows how to find
the secret abode of his Beloved by tracking the footsteps of His
loving providence: herein is wisdom which the casual observer of
mere second causes can never reach. Labour, O Christian, to follow
up every clue which thy Master's grace affords thee!
     _Labour to maintain a sense of thine entire dependence upon
His good will and pleasure for the continuance of thy richest
enjoyments_. Never try to live on the old manna, nor seek to find
help in Egypt. All must come from Jesus, or thou art undone for
ever. Old anointings will not suffice to impart unction to our
spirit; thine head must have fresh oil poured upon it from the
golden horn of the sanctuary, or it will cease from its glory. To-
day thou mayest be upon the summit of the mount of God; but He who
has put thee there must keep thee there, or thou wilt sink far
more speedily than thou dreamest. Thy mountain only stands firm
when He settles it in its place; if He hide His face, thou wilt
soon be troubled. If the Saviour should see fit, there is not a
window through which thou seest the light of heaven which he could
not darken in an instant. Joshua bade the sun stand still, but
Jesus can shroud it in total darkness. He can withdraw the joy of
thine heart, the light of thine eyes, and the strength of thy
life; in His hand thy comforts lie, and at His will they can
depart from thee. Oh! how rich the grace which supplies us so
continually, and doth not refrain itself because of our
ingratitude! O Lord Jesus, we would bow at Thy feet, conscious of
our utter inability to do aught without Thee, and in every favour
which we are privileged to receive, we would adore Thy blessed
name, and acknowledge Thine unexhausted love!
     _When thou hast received much, admire the all-sufficiency
which still remaineth undiminished_, thus shall you commune with
Christ, not only in what you obtain from Him, but also in the
superabundance which remains treasured up in Him. Let us ever
remember that giving does not impoverish our Lord. When the
clouds, those wandering cisterns of the skies, have poured floods
upon the dry ground, there remains an abundance in the storehouse
of the rain: so in Christ there is ever an unbounded supply,
though the most liberal showers of grace have fallen ever since
the foundation of the earth. The sun is as bright as ever after
all his shining, and the sea is quite as full after all the clouds
have been drawn from it: so is our Lord Jesus ever the same
overflowing fountain of fulness. All this is ours, and we may make
it the subject of rejoicing fellowship. Come, believer, walk
through the length and breadth of the land, for as far as the eye
can reach, the land is thine, and far beyond the utmost range of
thine observation it is thine also, the gracious gift of thy
gracious Redeemer and Friend. Is there not ample space for
fellowship _here?_
     _Regard every spiritual mercy as an assurance of the Lord's
communion with thee_. When the young man gives jewels to the
virgin to whom he is affianced, she regards them as tokens of his
delight in her. Believer, do the same with the precious presents
of thy Lord. The common bounties of providence are shared in by
all men, for the good Householder provides water for His swine as
well as for His children: such things, therefore, are no proof of
divine complacency. But thou hast richer food to eat; "the
children's bread" is in thy wallet, and the heritage of the
righteous is reserved for thee. Look, then, on every motion of
grace in thine heart as a pledge and sign of the moving of thy
Saviour's heart towards thee. There is His whole heart in the
bowels of every mercy which He sends thee. He has impressed a kiss
of love upon each gift, and He would have thee believe that every
jewel of mercy is a token of His boundless love. Look on thine
adoption, justification, and preservation, as sweet enticements to
fellowship. Let every note of the promise sound in thine ears like
the ringing of the bells of the house of thy Lord, inviting thee
to come to the banquets of His love. Joseph sent to his father
asses laden with the good things of Egypt, and good old Jacob
doubtless regarded them as pledges of the love of his son's heart:
be sure not to think less of the kindnesses of Jesus.
     _Study to know the value of His favours._ They are no
ordinary things, no paste jewels, no mosaic gold: they are every
one of them so costly, that, had all heaven been drained of
treasure, apart from the precious offering of the Redeemer, it
could not have purchased so much as the least of His benefits.
When thou seest thy pardon, consider how great a boon is contained
in it! Bethink thee that hell had been thine eternal portion
unless Christ had plucked thee from the burning! When thou art
enabled to see thyself as clothed in the imputed righteousness of
Jesus, admire the profusion of precious things of which thy robe
is made. Think how many times the Man of sorrows wearied Himself
at that loom of obedience in which He wove that matchless garment;
and reckon, if thou canst, how many worlds of merit were cast into
the fabric at every throw of the shuttle! Remember that all the
angels in heaven could not have afforded Him a single thread which
would have been rich enough to weave into the texture of His
perfect righteousness. Consider the cost of thy maintenance for an
hour; remember that thy wants are so large, that all the granaries
of grace that all the saints could fill, could not feed thee for a
moment.
     What an expensive dependent thou art! King Solomon made
marvellous provision for his household (1 Kings iv. 22), but all
his beeves and fine flour would be as the drop of the bucket
compared with thy daily wants. Rivers of oil, and ten thousand
rams or fed beasts, would not provide enough to supply the
necessities of thy hungering soul. Thy least spiritual want
demands infinity to satisfy it, and what must be the amazing
aggregate of thy perpetually repeated draughts upon thy Lord!
Arise, then, and bless thy loving Immanuel for the invaluable
riches with which He has endowed thee. See what a dowry thy
Bridegroom has brought to His poor, penniless spouse. He knows the
value of the blessings which He brings thee, for He has paid for
them out of His heart's richest blood; be not thou so ungenerous
as to pass them over as if they were but of little worth. Poor men
know more of the value of money than those who have always
revelled in abundance of wealth. Ought not thy former poverty to
teach thee the preciousness of the grace which Jesus gives thee?
For remember, there was a time when thou wouldst have given a
thousand worlds, if they had been thine, in order to procure the
very least of His abundant mercies.
     _Remember how impossible it would have been for thee to
receive a single spiritual blessing unless thou hadst been in
Jesus_. On none of Adam's race can the love of God be fixed,
unless they are seen to be in union with His Son. No exception has
ever been made to the universal curse on those of the first Adam's
seed who have no interest in the second Adam. Christ is the only
Zoar in which God's Lots can find a shelter from the destruction
of Sodom. Out of Him, the withering blast of the fiery furnace of
God's wrath consumes every green herb, and it is only in Him that
the soul can live. As when the prairie is on fire, men see the
heavens wrapped in sheets of flame, and in hot haste they fly
before the devouring element. They have but one hope. There is in
the distance a lake of water. They reach it, they plunge into it,
and are safe. Although the skies are molten with the heat, the sun
darkened with the smoke, and the earth utterly consumed in the
fire, they know that they are secure while the cooling flood
embraces them. Christ Jesus is the only escape for a sinner
pursued by the fiery wrath of God, and we would have the believer
remember this. Our own works could never shelter us, for they have
proved but refuges of lies. Had they been a thousand times more
and better, they would have been but as the spider's web, too
flail to hang eternal interests upon. There was but one name, one
sacrifice, one blood, by which we could escape. All other attempts
at salvation were a grievous failure. For, "though a man could
scourge out of his body rivers of blood, and in neglect of himself
could outlast Moses or Elias; though he could wear out his knees
with prayer, and had his eyes nailed on heaven; though he could
build hospitals for all the poor on earth, and exhaust the mines
of India in alms; though he could walk like an angel of light, and
with the glittering of an outward holiness dazzle the eyes of all
beholders; nay (if it were possible to be conceived) though he
should live for a thousand years in a perfect and perpetual
observation of the whole law of God, if the only exception to his
perfection were the very least deviation from the law, yet such a
man as this could no more appear before the tribunal of God's
justice, than stubble before a consuming fire." How, then, with
thine innumerable sins, couldst thou escape the damnation of hell,
much less become the recipient of bounties so rich and large?
Blessed window of heaven, sweet Lord Jesus, let Thy Church for
ever adore Thee, as the only channel by which mercies can flow to
her. My soul, give Him continual praise, for without Him thou
hadst been poorer than a beggar. Be thou mindful, O heir of
heaven, that thou couldst not have had one ray of hope, or one
word of comfort, if thou hadst not been in union with Christ
Jesus! The crumbs which fall from thy table are more than grace
itself would have given thee, hadst thou not been in Jesus beloved
and approved.
     All thou hast, thou hast in Him: in Him chosen, in Him
redeemed, in Him justified, in Him accepted. Thou art risen in
Him, but without Him thou hadst died the second death. Thou art in
Him raised up to the heavenly places, but out of Him thou wouldst
have been damned eternally. Bless Him, then. Ask the angels to
bless Him. Rouse all ages to a harmony of praise for His
condescending love in taking poor guilty nothings into oneness
with His all-adorable person. This is a blessed means of promoting
communion, if the sacred Comforter is pleased to take of the
things of Christ, and reveal them to us as ours, but only ours as
we are in Him. Thrice-blessed Jesus, let us never forget that we
are members of Thy mystical body, and that it is for this reason
that we are blessed and preserved.
     _Meditate upon thee gracious acts which procured thy
blessings_. Consider the ponderous labours which thy Lord endured
for thee, and the stupendous sufferings by which He purchased the
mercies which He bestows. What human tongue can speak forth the
unutterable misery of His heart, or describe so much as one of the
agonies which crowded upon His soul? How much less shall any
finite comprehension arrive at an idea of the vast total of His
woe! But all His sorrows were necessary for thy benefit, and
without them not one of thine unnumbered mercies could have been
bestowed. Be not unmindful that--

     "There's ne'er a gift His hand bestows,
      But cost His heart a groan."

     Look upon the frozen ground of Gethsemane, and behold the
bloody sweat which stained the soil! Turn to the hall of Gabbatha,
and see the victim of justice pursued by His clamorous foes! Enter
the guard-room of the Praetorians, and view the spitting, and the
plucking of the hair! and then conclude your review upon Golgotha,
the mount of doom, where death consummated His tortures; and if,
by divine assistance thou art enabled to enter, in some humble
measure, into the depths of thy Lord's sufferings, thou wilt be
the better prepared to hold fellowship with Him when next thou
receivest His priceless gifts. In proportion to thy sense of their
costliness will be thy capacity for enjoying the love which is
centred in them.
     _Above all, and chief of all, never forget that Christ is
thine_. Amid the profusion of His gifts, never forget that the
chief gift is Himself, and do not forget that, after all, His
gifts are but Himself. He clothes thee, but it is with Himself,
with His own spotless righteousness and character. He washes thee,
but His innermost self, His own heart's blood, is the stream with
which the fountain overflows. He feeds thee with the bread of
heaven, but be not unmindful that the bread is Himself, His own
body which He gives to be the food of souls. Never be satisfied
with a less communication than a whole Christ. A wife will not be
put off with maintenance, jewels, and attire, all these will be
nothing to her unless she can call her husband's heart and person
her own. It was the Paschal lamb upon which the ancient Israelite
did feast on that night that was never to be forgotten. So do thou
feast on Jesus, and on nothing less than Jesus, for less than this
will be food too light for thy soul's satisfaction. Oh, be careful
to eat His flesh and drink His blood, and so receive Him into
thyself in a real and spiritual manner, for nothing short of this
will be an evidence of eternal life in thy soul!
     What more shall we add to the rules which we have here
delivered? There remains but one great exhortation, which must not
be omitted. _Seek the abundant assistance of the Holy Spirit_ to
enable you to put into practice the things which we have said, for
without His aid, all that we have spoken will but be tantalizing
the lame with rules to walk, or the dying with regulations for the
preservation of health. O thou Divine Spirit, while we enjoy the
grace of Jesus, lead us into the secret abode of our Lord, that we
may sup with Him, and He with us, and grant unto us hourly grace
that we may continue in the company of our Lord from the rising to
the setting of the sun! Amen.
 
 
 

                 THE WELL-BELOVED'S VINEYARD.

         AN ADDRESS TO A LITTLE COMPANY OF BELIEVERS,
           IN MR. SPURGEON'S OWN ROOM AT MENTONE.

     "My Well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill."--
Isaiah v. 1.
 

WE recognize at once that Jesus is here. Who but He can be meant
by "My Well-beloved"? Here is a word of possession and a word of
affection,--He is mine, and my Well-beloved. He is loveliness
itself, the most loving and lovable of beings; and we personally
love Him with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength: He
is ours, our Beloved, our Well-beloved, we can say no less.
     The delightful relationship of our Lord to us is accompanied
by words which remind us of our relationship to Him, "My Well-
beloved hath a vineyard," and what vineyard is that but our heart,
our nature, our life? We are His: and we are His for the same
reason that any other vineyard belongs to its owner. He made us a
vineyard. Thorns and briars were all our growth naturally, but He
bought us with a price, He hedged us about, and set us apart for
Himself, and then He planted and cultivated us. All within us that
can bring forth good fruit is of His creating, His tending, and
His preserving; so that if we be vineyards at all we must be _His_
vineyards. We gladly agree that it shall be so. I pray that I may
not have a hair on my head that does not belong to Christ, and you
all pray that your every pulse and breath may be the Lord's.
     This happy afternoon I want you to note that this vineyard is
said to be upon "a very fruitful hill." I have been thinking of
the advantages of my own position towards the Lord, and lamenting
with great shamefacedness that I am not bringing forth such fruit
to Him as my position demands. Considering our privileges,
advantages, and opportunities, I fear that many of us have need to
feel great searchings of heart. Perhaps to such the text may be
helpful, and it will not be without profit to any one of us, if
the Lord will bless our meditation upon it.
     I. Our first thought, in considering these words, is that our
position as the Lord's vineyard is a very favourable one: "My
Well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill." No people
could be better placed for serving Christ than we are. I hardly
think that any man is better situated for glorifying God than I
am. I do not think that any women could be in better positions for
serving Christ than some of you, dear sisters, now occupy. Our
heavenly Father has placed us just where He can do the most for
us, and where we can do the most for Him. Infinite wisdom has
occupied itself with carefully selecting the soil, and site, and
aspect of every tree in the vineyard. We differ greatly, and need
differing situations in order to fruitfulness: the place which
would suit one might be too trying for another. Friend, the Lord
has planted you in the right spot: your station may not be the
best in itself, but it is the best for you. We are in the best
possible position for some present service at this moment; the
providence of God has put us on a vantage ground for our immediate
duty: "My Well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill."
     Let us think of _the times in which we live_ as calling upon
us to be very fruitful when we compare them with the years gone
by. Time was when we could not have met thus happily in our own
room: if we had been taken in the act of breaking bread, or
reading God's Word, we should have been haled off to prison, and
perhaps put to death. Our forefathers scarcely dared to lift up
their voices in a psalm of praise, lest the enemy should be upon
them. Truly, the lines have fallen unto us in pleasant places;
yea, we have a goodly heritage, in a very fruitful hill.
     We do not even live in times when error is so rampant as to
be paramount. There is too much of it abroad; but taking a broad
view of things, I venture to say that there never was a time when
the truth had a wider sway than it has now, or when the gospel was
more fully preached, or when there was more spiritual activity.
Black clouds of error hover over us; but at the same time we
rejoice that, from John o' Groat's House to the Land's End, Christ
is preached by ten thousand voices, and even in the dark parts of
the earth the name of Jesus is shining like a candle in the house.
If we had the pick of the ages in which to live, we could not have
selected a better time for fruitbearing than that which is now
occurrent: this age is "a very fruitful hill."
     That this is the case some of us know positively, _because we
have been fruitful._ Look back, brothers and sisters, upon times
when your hearts were warm, and your zeal was fervent, and you
served the Lord with gladness. I join with you in those happy
memories. Then we could run with the swiftest, we could fight with
the bravest, we could work with the strongest, we could suffer
with the most patient. The grace of God has been upon certain of
us in such an unmistakable manner that we have brought forth all
the fruits of the Spirit. Perhaps to-day we look back with deep
regret because we are not so fruitful as we once were: if it be
so, it is well that our regrets should multiply, but we must
change each one of them into a hopeful prayer. Remember, the vine
may have changed, but the soil is the same. We have still the same
motives for being fruitful, and even more than we used to have.
Why are we not more useful? Has some spiritual phylloxera taken
possession of the vines, or have we become frost-bitten, or sun-
burnt? What is it that withholds the vintage? Certainly, if we
were fruitful once, we ought to be more fruitful now. The fruitful
hill is not exhausted; what aileth us that our grapes are so few?
     We are planted on a fruitful hill, _for we are called to work
which of all others is the most fruitful_. Blessed and happy is
the man who is called to the Christian ministry; for this service
has brought more glory to Christ than any other. You, beloved
friends, are not called to be rulers of nations, nor inventors of
engines, nor teachers of sciences, nor slayers of men; but we are
soul-winners, our work is to lead men to Jesus. Ours is, of all
the employments in the world, the most fruitful in benefits to men
and glory to God. If we are not serving God in the gospel of His
Son with all our might and ability, then we have a heavy
responsibility resting upon us. "Our Well-beloved hath a vineyard
in a very fruitful hill:" there is not a richer bit of soil
outside Immanuel's land than the holy ministry for souls. Certain
of us are teachers, and gather the young about us while we speak
of Jesus. This also is choice soil. Many teachers have gathered a
grand vintage from among the little ones, and have not been a whit
behind pastors and evangelists in the glory of soul-winning. Dear
teachers, your vines are planted in a very fruitful hill. But I do
not confine myself to preachers and teachers; for all of us, as we
have opportunities of speaking for the Lord Jesus Christ, and
privately talking to individuals, have also a fertile soil to grow
in. If we do not glorify God by soul-winning, we shall be greatly
blamable, since of all forms of service it is most prolific in
praise of God.
     And what is more, _the very circumstances with which we are
surrounded_ all tend to make our position exceedingly favourable
for fruit-bearing. In this little company we have not one friend
who is extremely poor; but if such were among us, I should say the
same thing. Christ has gathered some of His choicest clusters from
the valley of poverty. Many eminent saints have never owned a foot
of land, but lived upon their weekly wage, and found scant fare at
that. Yes, by the grace of God, the vale of poverty has blossomed
as the rose. It so happens, however, that the most of us here have
a competence, we have all that we need, and something over to give
to the poor and to the cause of God. Surely we ought to be
fruitful in almsgiving, in caring for the sick, and in all manner
of sweet and flagrant influences. "Give me neither poverty nor
riches," is a prayer that has been answered for most of us; and if
we do not now give honour unto God, what excuse can we make for
our barrenness? I am speaking to some who are singularly healthy,
who are never hindered by aches and pains; and to others who have
been prospered in business for twenty years at a stretch: yours is
great indebtedness to your Lord: in your case, "My Well-beloved
hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill." Give God your strength
and your wealth, my brother, while they last: see that all His
care of thee is not thrown away. Others of us seldom know many
months together of health, but have often had to suffer sorely in
body; this ought to make us fruitful, for there is much increase
from the tillage of affliction. Has not the Master obtained the
richest of all fruit from bleeding vines? Do not His heaviest
bunches come from vines which have been sharply cut and pruned
down to the ground? Choice flavours, dainty juices, and delicious
aromas come mostly from the use of the keen-edged knife of trial.
Some of us are at our best for fruitbearing when in other respects
we are at our worst. Thus I might truly say that, whatever our
circumstances may be, whether we are poor or rich, in health or in
affliction, each one of our cases has its advantages, and we are
planted "in a very fruitful hill."
     Furthermore, when I look at our spiritual condition_, I must
say for myself, and I think for you also, "My Well-beloved hath a
vineyard in a very fruitful hill." For what has God done for us?
To change the question,--what has God not done for us? What more
could He say than to us He hath said? What more could He do than
to us He hath done? He hath dealt with us like a God. He has loved
us up from the pit, He has loved us up to the cross, and up to the
gates of heaven; He has quickened us, forgiven us, and renewed us;
He dwells in us, comforts us, instructs us, upholds us, preserves
us, guides us, leads us, and He will surely perfect us. If we are
not fruitful, to His praise, how shall we excuse ourselves? Where
shall we hide our guilty heads? Shall yonder sea suffice to lend
us briny tears wherewith to weep over our ingratitude?
     II. I go a step further, by your leave, and say that our
position, as the Lord's vineyard, is favourable to the production
of the fruit which He loves best. I believe that my own position
is the most favourable for the production of the fruit that the
Lord loves best in me, and that your position is the same. What is
this fruit?
     First, it is _faith_. Our Lord is very delighted to see faith
in His people. The trust which clings to Him with childlike
confidence is pleasant to His loving heart. Our position is such
that faith ought to be the easiest thing in the world to us. Look
at the promises He has given us in His Word: can we not believe
them? Look at what the Father has done for us in the gift of His
dear Son: can we not trust Him after that? Our daily experience
all goes to strengthen our confidence in God. Every mercy asks,
"Will you not trust Him?" Every want that is supplied cries, "Can
you not trust Him?" Every sorrow sent by the great Father tests
our faith, and drives us to Him on whom we repose, and so
strengthens and confirms our confidence in God. Mercies and
miseries alike operate for the growth of faith. Some of us have
been called upon to trust God on a large scale, and that necessity
has been a great help towards fruit-bearing. The more troubles we
have, the more is our vine digged about, and the more nourishment
is laid to its roots. If faith does not ripen under trial, when
will it ripen? Our afflictions fertilize the soil wherein faith
may grow.
     Another choice fruit is _love_. Jesus delights in love. His
tender heart delights to see its love returned. Am I not of all
men most bound to love the Lord? I speak for each brother and
sister here, is not that your language? Do you not all say, "Lives
there a person beneath yon blue sky who ought to love Jesus more
than I should do?" Each sister soliloquizes, "Sat there ever a
woman in her chamber who had more reason for loving God than I
have?" No, the sin which has been forgiven us should make us love
our Saviour exceeding much. The sin which has been prevented in
other cases should make us love our Preserver much. The help which
God has sent us in hours of need, the guidance which He has given
in times of difficulty, the joy which He has poured into us in
days of fellowship, and the quiet He has breathed upon us in
seasons of trial,--all ought to make us love Him. Along our life-
road, reasons for loving God are more numerous than the leaves
upon the olives. He has hedged us about with His goodness, even as
the mountains and the sea are round our present resting-place.
Look backward as far as time endures, and then look far beyond
that, into the eternity which has been, and you will see the
Lord's great love set upon us: all through time and eternity
reasons have been accumulating which constrain us to love our
Lord. Now turn sharply round, and gaze before you, and all along
the future faith can see reasons for loving God, golden milestones
on the way that is yet to be traversed, all calling for our loving
delight in God.
     Christ is also very pleased with the fruit of _hope_, and we
are so circumstanced that we ought to produce much of it. The aged
ought to look forward, for they cannot expect to see much more on
earth. Time is short, and eternity is near; how precious is a good
hope through grace! We who are not yet old ought to be exceedingly
hopeful; and the younger folk, who are just beginning the
spiritual life, should abound in hope most fresh and bright. If
any man has expectations greater than I have, I should like to see
him. We have the greatest of expectations. Have you never felt
like Mercy in her dream, when she laughed and when Christiana
asked her what made her laugh, she said that she had had a vision
of things yet to be revealed?
     Select any fruit of the Spirit you choose, and I maintain
that we are favourably circumstanced for producing it; we are
planted upon a very fruitful hill. What a fruitful hill we are
living in as regards _labour for Christ! _Each one of us may find
work for the Master; there are capital opportunities around us.
There never was an age in which a man, consecrated to God, might
do so much as he can at this time. There is nothing to restrain
the most ardent zeal. We live in such happy times that, if we
plunge into a sea of work, we may swim, and none can hinder us.
Then, too, our labour is made, by God's grace, to be so pleasant
to us. No true servant of Christ is weary _of_ the work, though he
may be weary _in_ the work: it is not the work that he ever
wearies of, for he wishes that he could do ten times more. Then
our Lord makes our work to be successful. We bring one soul to
Jesus, and that one brings a hundred. Sometimes, when we are
fishing for Jesus, there may be few fish, but, blessed be His
name, most of them enter the net; and we have to live praising and
blessing God for all the favour with which He regards our labour
of love. I do think I am right in saying that, for the bearing of
the fruit which Jesus loves best, our position is exceedingly
favourable.
     III. And now, this afternoon, at this table, our position
here is favourable even now to our producing immediately, and upon
the spot, the richest, ripest, rarest fruit for our Well-beloved.
Here, at the communion-table, we are at the centre of the truth,
and at the well-head of consolation. Now we enter the holy of
holies, and come to the most sacred meeting-place between our
souls and God.
     Viewed from this table, _the vineyard slopes to the south_,
for everything looks towards Christ, our Sun. This bread, this
wine, all set our souls aslope towards Jesus Christ, and He shines
full upon our hearts, and minds, and souls, to make us bring forth
much fruit. Are we not planted on a very fruitful hill?
     As we think of His passion for our sake, we feel that_ a wall
is set about us to the north_, to keep back every sharp blast that
might destroy the tender grapes. No wrath is dreaded now, for
Jesus has borne it for us; behold the tokens of His all-sufficient
sacrifice! No anger of the Lord shall come to our restful spirits,
for the Lord saith, "I have sworn that I will not be wroth with
thee, nor rebuke thee." Here, on this table, are the pledges of
His love unspeakable, and these, like a high wall, keep out the
rough winds. Surely, we are planted on a very fruitful hill.
     Moreover, _the Well-beloved Himself is among us_. He has not
let us out to husbandmen, but He Himself doth undertake to care
for us; and that He is here we are sure, for here is His flesh,
and here is His blood. You see the outward tokens, may you feel
the unseen reality; for we believe in His real presence, though
not in the gross corporeal sense with which worldly spirits blind
themselves. The King has come into His garden: let us entertain
Him with our fruits. He who for this vineyard poured out a bloody
sweat, is now surveying the vines; shall they not at this instant
give forth a goodly smell? The presence of our Lord makes this
assembly a very fruitful hill: where He sets His feet, all good
things flourish.
     Around this table, _we are in a place where others have
fruited well_. Our literature contains no words more precious than
those which have been spoken at the time of communion. Perhaps you
know and appreciate the discourses of Willison, delivered on
sacramental occasions. Rutherford's communion sermons have a
sacred unction upon them. The poems of George Herbert, I should
think, were most of them inspired by the sight of Christ in this
ordinance. Think of the canticles of holy Bernard, how they flame
with devotion. Saints and martyrs have been nourished at this
table of blessing. This hollowed ordinance, I am sure, is a spot
where hopes grow bright, and hearts grow warm, resolves become
firm, and lives become fruitful, and all the clusters of our
soul's fruit ripen for the Lord.
     Blessed be God, _we are where we have ourselves often grown_.
We have enjoyed our best times when celebrating this sacred
Eucharist. God grant it may be so again! Let us, in calm
meditation and inward thought, now produce from our hearts sweet
fruits of love, and zeal, and hope, and patience; let us yield
great clusters like those of Eshcol, all for Jesus, and for Jesus
only. Even now, let us give ourselves up to meditation, gratitude,
adoration, communion, rapture; and let us spend the rest of our
lives in glorifying and magnifying the ever-blessed name of our
Well-beloved whose vineyard we are.

     "While such a scene of sacred joys
     Our raptured eyes and souls employs,
     Here we could sit, and gaze away
     A long, an everlasting day.

     "Well, we shall quickly pass the night,
     To the fair coasts of perfect light;
     Then shall our joyful senses rove
     O'er the dear object of our love.

     "There shall we drink full draughts of bliss,
     And pluck new life from heavenly trees.
     Yet now and then, dear Lord, bestow
     A drop of heaven on worms below."
 

 REDEEMED SOULS FREED FROM FEAR.

            A TALK WITH A FEW FRIENDS AT MENTONE.

     "Fear not: for I have redeemed thee."--Isaiah xliii. 1.
 

I WAS lamenting this morning my unfitness for my work, and
especially for the warfare to which I am called. A sense of
heaviness came over me, but relief came very speedily, for which I
thank the Lord. Indeed, I was greatly burdened, but the Lord
succoured me. The first verse read at the Sabbath morning service
exactly met my case. It is in Isaiah xliii. 1: "But now thus saith
the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O
Israel, Fear not." I said to myself, "I am what God created me,
and I am what He formed me, and therefore I must, after all, be
the right man for the place wherein He has put me." We may not
blame our Creator, nor suspect that He has missed His mark in
forming an instrument for His work. Thus new comfort comes to us.
Not only do the operations of grace in the spiritual world yield
us consolation, but we are even comforted by what the Lord has
done in creation. We are told to cease from our fears; and we do
so, since we perceive that it is the Lord that made us, and not we
ourselves, and He will justify His own creating skill by
accomplishing through us the purposes of His love. Pray, I beseech
you, for me, the weakest of my Lord's servants, that I may be
equal to the overwhelming task imposed upon me.
     The next sentence of the chapter is usually most comforting
to my soul, although on this one occasion the first sentence was a
specially reviving cordial to me. The verse goes on to say,--

     "Fear not: for I have redeemed thee."

     Let us think for a few minutes of the wonderful depth of
consolation which lies in this fact. We have been redeemed by the
Lord Himself, and this is a grand reason why we should never again
be subject to fear. Oh, that the logic of this fact could be
turned into practice, so that we henceforth rejoiced, or at least
felt the peace of God!
     These words may be spoken, first of all, of those frequent
occasions in which the Lord has redeemed His people out of
_trouble_. Many a time and oft might our Lord say to each one of
us, "I have redeemed thee." Out of six, yea, six thousand trials
He has brought us forth by the right hand of His power. He has
released us from our afflictions, and brought us forth into a
wealthy place. In the remembrance of all these redemptions the
Lord seems to say to us, "What I have done before, I will do
again. I have redeemed thee, and I will still redeem thee. I have
brought thee from under the hand of the oppressor; I have
delivered thee from the tongue of the slanderer; I have borne thee
up under the load of poverty, and sustained thee under the pains
of sickness; and I am able still to do the same: wherefore, then,
dost thou fear? Why shouldst thou be afraid, since already I have
again and again redeemed thee? Take heart, and be confident; for
even to old age and to death itself I will continue to be thy
strong Redeemer."
     I suppose there would be a reference here to the great
redemption out of Egypt. This word is addressed to the people of
God under captivity in Babylon, and we know that the Lord referred
to the Egyptian redemption; for He says in the third verse, "I
gave Egypt for thy ransom." Egypt was a great country, and a rich
country, for we read of "all the treasures of Egypt", but God gave
them for His chosen: He would give all the nations of the earth
for His Israel. This was a wonderful stay to the people of God:
they constantly referred to Egypt and the Red Sea, and made their
national song out of it. In all Israel's times of disaster, and
calamity, and trial, they joyfully remembered that the Lord had
redeemed them when they were a company of slaves, helpless and
hopeless, under a tyrant who cast their firstborn children into
the Nile, a tyrant whose power was so tremendous that all the
armies of the world could not have wrought their deliverance from
his iron hand. The very nod of Pharaoh seemed to the inhabitants
of Egypt to be omnipotent; he was a builder of pyramids, a master
of all the sciences of peace and the arts of war. What could the
Israelites have done against him? Jehovah came to their relief in
their dire extremity. His plagues followed each other in quick
succession. The dread volleys of the Lord's artillery confounded
His foes. At last He smote all the firstborn of Egypt, the chief
of all their strength. Then was Egypt glad that Israel departed,
and the Lord brought forth His people with silver and gold. All
the chivalry of Egypt was overthrown and destroyed at the Red Sea,
and the timbrels of the daughters of Israel sounded joyously upon
its shores. This redemption out of Egypt is so remarkable that it
is remembered even in heaven. The Old Testament song is woven into
that of the New Covenant; for there they "sing the song of Moses
the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb." The first
redeemption was so wonderful a type and prophecy of the other that
it is no alloy to the golden hymn of eternal glory, but readily
melts into the same celestial chant. Other types may cease to be
remembered, but this was so much a fact as well as a type that it
shall be had in memory for ever and ever. Every Israelite ought to
have had confidence in God after what He had done for the people
in redeeming them out of Egypt. To every one of the seed of Jacob
it was a grand argument to enforce the precept, "Fear not."
     But I take it that the chief reference of these words are to
that redemption which has been wrought out for us by Him who loved
us, and washed us from our sins by His own blood. Let us think of
it for a minute or two before we break the bread and drink of the
cup of communion.
     The remembrance of this transcendent redemption ought to
comfort us in all times of _perplexity_. When we cannot see our
way, or cannot make out what to do, we need not be at all troubled
concerning it; for the Lord Jehovah can see a way out of every
intricacy. There never was a problem so hard to solve as that
which is answered in redemption. Herein was the tremendous
difficulty--How can God be just, and yet the Saviour of sinners?
How can He fulfil His threatenings, and yet forgive sin? If that
problem been left to angels and men, they could never worked it
out throughout eternity; but God has solved it through freely
delivering up His own Son. In the glorious sacrifice of Jesus we
see the justice of God magnified; for He laid sin on the blessed
Lord, who had become one with His chosen. Jesus identified Himself
with His people, and therefore their sin was laid upon Him, and
the sword of the Lord awoke against Him. He was not taken
arbitrarily to be a victim, but He was a voluntary Sufferer. His
relationship amounted to covenant oneness with His people, and "it
behoved Christ to suffer." Herein is a wisdom which must be more
than equal to all minor perplexities. Hear this, then, O poor soul
in suspense! The Lord says, "I have redeemed thee. I have already
brought thee out of the labyrinth in which thou wast lost by sin,
and therefore I will take thee out of the meshes of the net of
temptation, and lead thee through the maze of trial; I will bring
the blind by a way that they know not, and lead them in paths
which they have not known. I will bring again from Bashan, I will
bring up My people from the depths of the sea." Let us commit our
way unto the Lord. Mine is a peculiarly difficult one, but I know
that my Redeemer liveth, and He will lead me by a right way. He
will be our Guide even unto death; and after death He will guide
us through those tracks unknown of the mysterious region, and
cause us to rest with Him for ever.
     So also, if at any time we are in great _poverty_, or in
great straitness of means for the Lord's work, and we are,
therefore, afraid that we shall never get our needs supplied, let
us cast off such fears as we listen to the music of these words:
"Fear not: for I have redeemed thee." God Himself looked down from
heaven, and saw that there was no man who could give to Him a
ransom for his brother, and each man on his own part was
hopelessly bankrupt; and then, despite our spiritual beggary, He
found the means of our redemption. What then? Let us hear the use
which the Holy Spirit makes of this fact: "He that spared not His
own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with
Him also freely give us all things?" We cannot have a want which
the Lord will not supply. Since God has given us Jesus, He will
give us, not some things, but "all things." Indeed, all things are
ours in Christ Jesus. No necessity of his life can for a single
moment be compared to that dread necessity which the Lord has
already supplied. The infinite gift of God's own Son is a far
greater one than all that can be included in the term "all
things": wherefore, it is a grand argument to the poor and needy,
"Fear not: for I have redeemed thee." Perplexity and poverty are
thus effectually met.
     We are at times troubled by a sense of our personal
_insignificance_. It seems too much to hope that God's infinite
mind should enter into our mean affairs. Though David said, "I am
poor and needy, yet the Lord thinketh upon me," we are not always
quite prepared to say the same. We make our sorrows great under
the vain idea that they are too small for the Lord to notice. I
believe that our greatest miseries spring from those little
worries which we hesitate to bring to our heavenly Father. Our
gracious God puts an end to all such thoughts as these by saying
"Fear not for I have redeemed thee." You are not of such small
account as you suppose. The Lord would never be wasteful of His
sacred expenditure.
     He bought you with a price, and therefore He sets great store
by you. Listen to what the Lord says: "Since thou wast precious in
My sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee:
therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life." It
is amazing that the Lord should think so much of us as to give
Jesus for us. "What is man that Thou art mindful of him?" Yet
God's mind is filled with thoughts of love towards man. Know ye
not that His only-begotten Son entered this world, and became a
man? The man Christ Jesus has a name at which every knee shall
bow, and He is so dear to the Father that, for His sake, His
chosen ones are accepted, and are made to enjoy the freest access
to Him. We sing truly,--

     "So near, so very near to God,
      Nearer we cannot be,
     For in the person of His Son
      We are as near as He."

     And now the very hairs of our head are all numbered, and the
least burden we may roll upon the Lord. Those cares which we ought
not to have may well cease, for "He careth for us." He that
redeemed us never forgets us: His wounds have graven us upon the
palms of His hands, and written our names deep in His side. Jesus
stoops to our level, for He stooped to bear the cross to redeem
us. Do not, therefore, be again afraid because of your
insignificance. "Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel,
My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from
my God? Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the
everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth,
fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of His
understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have
no might He increaseth strength." The Lord's memory is toward the
little in Israel. He carrieth the lambs in His bosom.
     We are liable to fret a little when we think of our
_changeableness_. If you are at all like me, you are very far from
being always alike; I am sometimes lifted up to the very heavens,
and then I go down to the deeps; I am at one time bright with joy
and confidence, and at another time dark as midnight with doubts
and fears. Even Elijah, who was so brave, had his fainting fits.
We are to be blamed for this, and yet the fact remains: our
experience is as an April day, when shower and sunshine take their
turns. Amid our mournful changes we rejoice to hear the Lord's own
voice, saying, "Fear not: for I have redeemed thee." Everything is
not changeful wave; there is rock somewhere. Redemption is a fact
accomplished.

     "The Cross, it standeth fast. Hallelujah!"

     The price is paid, the ransom accepted. This is done, and can
never be undone. Jesus says, "I have redeemed thee." Change of
feeling within does not alter the fact that the believer has been
bought with a price, and made the Lord's own by the precious blood
of Jesus. The Lord God has already done so much for us that our
salvation is sure in Christ Jesus. Will He begin to build, and
fail to finish? Will He lay the foundation in the everlasting
covenant? Will He dedicate the walls with the infinite sacrifice
of the Lamb of God? Will He give up the choicest treasure He ever
had, the chosen of God and precious, to be the corner-stone, and
then not finish the work He has begun? It is impossible. If He has
redeemed us, He has, in that act, given us the pledge of all
things.
     See how the gifts of God are bound to this redemption. "I
have redeemed thee. I have called thee." "For whom He did
foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of
His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom
He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He
also glorified." Here is a chain in which each link is joined to
all the rest, so that it cannot be separated. If God had only gone
so far as to make a promise, He would not have drawn back from it;
if God had gone as far as to swear an oath by Himself, He would
not have failed to keep it; but when He went beyond promise and
oath, and in very deed the sacrifice was slain, and the covenant
was ratified: why, then it would be blasphemous to imagine that He
would afterwards disannul it, and turn from His solemn pledge.
There is no going back on the part of God, and consequently His
redemption will redeem, and in redeeming it will secure us all
things. "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" With the
blood-mark upon us we may well cease to fear. How can we perish?
How can we be deserted in the hour of need? We have been bought
with too great a price for our Redeemer to let us slip. Therefore,
let us march on with confidence, hearing our Redeemer say to us,
"When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and
through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou
walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall
the flame kindle upon thee." Concerning His redeemed, the Lord
will say to the enemy, "Touch not Mine anointed, and do My
prophets no harm." The stars in their courses fight for the
ransomed of the Lord. If their eyes were opened, they would see
the mountain full of horses of fire and chariots of fire round
about them. Oh, how my weary heart prizes redeeming love! If it
were not for this, I would lay me down, and die. Friends forsake
me, foes surround me, I am filled with contempt, and tortured with
the subtlety which I cannot baffle; but as the Lord of all brought
again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the
sheep, by the blood of the everlasting covenant, so by the blood
of His covenant doth He loose His prisoners, and sustain the
hearts of those who tremble at His Word. "O my soul, thou hast
trodden down strength," for the Lord hath said unto thee, "Fear
not: for I have redeemed thee."
 
 
 

           JESUS, THE GREAT OBJECT OF ASTONISHMENT.

               A COMMUNION ADDRESS AT MENTONE.

     "Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently, He shall be exalted
and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonied at Thee; His
visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the
sons of men; so shall He sprinkle many nations; the kings shall
shut their mouths at Him: for that which had not been told them
shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they
consider."--Isaiah lii. 13-15.
 

OUR Lord Jesus Christ bore from of old the name of "Wonderful",
and the word seems all too poor to set forth His marvellous person
and character. He says of Himself, in the language of the
prophet,--"Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given Me
are for signs and for wonders." He is a fountain of astonishment
to all who know Him, and the more they know of Him, the more are
they "astonied" at Him. It is an astonishing thing that there
should have been a Christ at all: the Incarnation is the miracle
of miracles; that He who is the Infinite should become an infant,
that He who made the worlds should be wrapt in swaddling-bands,
remains a fact out of which, as from a hive, new wonders
continually fly forth. In His complex nature He is so mysterious,
and yet so manifest, that doubtless all the angels of heaven were
and are astonished at Him. O Son of God, and Son of man, when
Thou, the Word, wast made flesh, and dwelt among us, and Thy
saints beheld Thy glory, it was but natural that many should be
astonished at Thee!
     Our text seems to say that our Lord was, first,_ a great
wonder in His griefs_; and, secondly, that He was _a great wonder
in His glory_.
     I. He was a great wonder in his griefs: "As many were
astonied at Thee; His visage was so marred more than any man, and
His form more than the sons of men."
     His visage was marred: no doubt His countenance bore the
signs of a matchless grief. There were ploughings on His brow as
well as upon His back; suffering, and brokenness of spirit, and
agony of heart, had told upon that lovely face, till its beauty,
though never to be destroyed, was "so" marred that never was any
other so spoiled with sorrow. But it was not His face only, His
whole form was marred more than the sons of men. The contour of
His bodily manhood showed marks of singular assaults of sorrow,
such as had never bowed another form so low. I do not know whether
His gait was stooping, or whether His knees tottered, and His walk
was feeble; but there was evidently a something about Him which
gave Him the appearance of premature age, since to the Jews He
looked older than He was, for when He was little more than thirty
they said unto Him, "Thou art not yet fifty years old." I cannot
conceive that He was deformed or ungainly; but despite His natural
dignity, His worn and emaciated appearance marked Him out as "the
Man of sorrows", and to the carnal eye His whole natural and
spiritual form had in it nothing which evoked admiration; even as
the prophet said, "When we shall see Him, there is no beauty that
we should desire Him." The marring was not of that lovely face
alone, but of the whole fabric of His wondrous manhood, so that
many were astonied at Him.
     Our astonishment, when in contemplation we behold our
suffering Lord, will arise from the consideration of what His
natural beauty must have been, enshrined as He was from the first
within a perfect body. Conceived without sin, and so born of a
pure virgin without taint of hereditary sin, I doubt not that He
was the flower and glow of manhood as to His form, and from His
early youth He must have been a joy to His mother's eye. Great
masters of the olden time expended all their skill upon the holy
child Jesus, but it is not for the colours of earth to depict the
Lord from heaven. That "holy thing" which was born of Mary was
"seen of angels," and it charmed their eyes. Must such loveliness
be marred? His every look was pure, His every thought was holy,
and therefore the expression of His face must have been heavenly,
and yet it must be marred. Poverty must mark it; hunger, and
thirst, and weariness, must plough it; heart-griefs must seam and
scar it; spittle must distain it; tears must scald it; smiting
must bruise it; death must make it pale and bloodless. Well does
Bernard sing--

     "O sacred Head, once wounded,
      With grief and pain weigh'd down,
     How scornfully surrounded
      With thorns, Thine only crown;
     How pale art Thou with anguish,
      With sore abuse and scorn!
     How does that visage languish,
      Which once was bright as morn!"

     The second astonishment to us must be that he could be so
marred who had nothing in His character to mar His countenance.
Sin is a sad disfigurement to faces which in early childhood were
surpassingly attractive. Passion, if it be indulged in, soon sets
a seal of deformity upon the countenance. Men that plunge into
vice bear upon their features the traces of their hearts' volcanic
fires. We most of us know some withered beings, whose beauty has
been burned up by the fierce fires of excess, till they are a
horror to look upon, as if the mark of Cain were set upon them.
Every sin makes its line on a fair face. But there was no sin in
the blessed Jesus, no evil thought to mar His natural perfectness.
No redness of eyes ever came to Him by tarrying long at the wine;
no unhallowed anger ever flushed His cheek; no covetousness gave
to His eye a wolfish glance; no selfish care lent to His features
a sharp and anxious cast. Such an unselfish, holy life as His
ought to have rendered Him, if it had been possible, more
beautiful every day. Indulging such benevolence, abiding in such
communion with God, surely the face of Christ must, in the natural
order of things, have more and more astonished all sympathetic
observers with its transcendent charms. But sorrow came to engrave
her name where sin had never made a stroke, and she did her work
so effectually that His visage was more marred than that of any
man, although the God of mercy knows there have been other visages
that have been worn with pain and anguish past all recognition. I
need not repeat even one of the many stories of human woe: that of
our Lord surpasses all.
     Remember that the face of our Well-beloved, as well as all
His form, must have been an accurate index of His soul.
Physiognomy is a science with much truth in it when it deals with
men of truth. Men weaned from simplicity know how to control their
countenances; the crafty will appear to be honest, the hardened
will seem to sympathize with the distressed, the revengeful will
mimic good-will. There are some who continually use their
countenance as they do their speech, to conceal their feelings;
and it is almost a point of politeness with them never to show
themselves, but always to go masked among their fellows.
     But the Christ had learned no such arts. He was so sincere,
so transparent, so child-like and true, that whatever stirred
within Him was apparent to those about Him, so far as they were
capable of understanding His great soul. We read of Him that He
was "moved with compassion." The Greek word means that He
experienced a wonderful emotion of His whole nature, He was
thrilled with it, and His disciples saw how deeply He felt for the
people, who were as sheep without a shepherd. Though He did not
commit Himself to men, He did not conceal Himself, but wore His
heart upon His sleeve, and all could see what He was, and knew
that He was full of grace and truth. We are, therefore, not
surprised, when we devoutly consider our Lord's character, that
His visage and form should indicate the inward agonies of His
tender spirit; it could not be that His face should be untrue to
His heart. The ploughers made deep furrows upon His soul as well
as upon His back, and His heart was rent with inward convulsions,
which could not but affect His whole appearance. Those eyes saw
what those around Him could not see; those shoulders bore a
constant burden which others could not know; and, therefore, His
countenance and form betrayed the fact. O dear, dear Saviour, when
we think of Thee, and of Thy majesty and purity, we are again
astonished that woes should come upon Thee so grievously as to mar
Thy visage and Thy form!
     Now think, dear friends, what were the causes of this
marring. It was not old age that had wrinkled His brow, for He was
still in the prime of life, neither was it a personal sickness
which had caused decay; much less was it any congenital weakness
and disease, which at length betrayed itself, for in His flesh
there was no possibility of impurity, which would, in death, have
led to corruption. It was occasioned, first, by His constant
sympathy with the suffering. There was a heavy wear and tear
occasioned by the extraordinary compassion of His soul. In three
years it had told upon Him most manifestly, till His visage was
marred more than that of any other man. To Him there was a kind of
sucking up into Himself of all the suffering of those whom He
blessed. He always bore upon Him the burden of mortal woe. We read
of Christ healing all that were sick, "that it might be fulfilled
which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our
infirmities, and bare our sicknesses." Yes, He took those
infirmities and sicknesses in some mystical way to Himself, just
as I have heard of certain trees, which scatter health, because
they themselves imbibe the miasma, and draw up into themselves
those noxious vapours which otherwise would poison mankind. Thus,
without being themselves polluted, they disinfect the atmosphere
around them. This, our Saviour did, but the cost was great to Him.
You can imagine, living as He did in the midst of one vast
hospital, how constantly He must have seen sights that grieved and
pained Him. Moreover, with a nature so pure and loving, He must
have been daily tortured with the sin, and hypocrisy, and
oppression which so abounded in His day. In a certain sense, He
was always laying down His life for men, for He was spent in their
service, tortured by their sin, and oppressed with their sorrow.
The more we look into that marred visage, the more shall we be
astonished at the anguish which it indicated.
     Do not wonder that He was more marred than any man, for He
was more sensitive than other men. No part of Him was callous, He
had no seared conscience, no blunted sensibility, no drugged and
deadened nerve. His manhood was in its glory, in the perfection in
which Adam was when God made him in His own image, and therefore
He was ill-housed in such a fallen world. We read of Christ that
He was "grieved for the hardness of their hearts," "He marvelled
because of their unbelief," "He sighed deeply in His spirit," "He
groaned in the spirit, and was troubled." This, however, was only
the beginning of the marring.
     His deepest griefs and most grievous marring came of _His
substitutionary work_, while bearing the penalty of our sin. One
word recalls much of His woe: it is, "Gethsemane." Betrayed by
Judas, His trusted friend, that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
"He that eateth bread with Me hath lifted up his heel against Me;"
deserted even by John, for all the disciples forsook Him and fled;
not one of all the loved ones with Him: He was left alone. He had
washed their feet, but they could not watch with Him one hour; and
in that garden He wrestled with our deadly foe, till His sweat was
as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground, and as
Hart puts it, He--

     "Bore all Incarnate God could bear,
     With strength enough, but none to spare."

     I do verily believe that verse to be true. Herein you see
what marred His countenance, and His form, even while in life. The
whole of His manhood felt that dreadful shock, when He and the
prince of darkness, in awful duel, fought it out amidst the gloom
of the olives on that cold midnight when our redemption began to
be fully accomplished.
     The whole of His passion marred His countenance and His form
with its unknown sufferings. I restrain myself, lest this
meditation should grow too painful. They bound Him, they scourged
Him, they mocked Him, they plucked off the hair from His face,
they spat upon Him, and at last they nailed Him to the tree, and
there He hung. His physical pain alone must have been very great,
but all the while there was within His soul an inward torment
which added immeasurably to His sufferings. His God forsook Him.
"Eloi, Eloi, lama, sabachthani?" is a voice enough to rend the
rocks, and assuredly it makes us all astonished when, in the
returning light, we look upon His visage, and are sure that never
face of any man was so marred before, and never form of any son of
man so grievously disfigured. Weeping and wondering, astonied and
adoring, we leave the griefs of our own dear Lord, and with loving
interest turn to the brighter portion of His unrivalled story.

     "Behold your King! Though the moonlight steals
      Through the silvery sp