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forth the admiration of the most indifferent. In what sweet and captivating language does he unbosom his affections and reveal to her his incomparable love! And herein does the superabounding glory of her Lord appear, in his having chosen his bride from among the defiled potsherds of the earth, and exalted her to a palace and a throne. Decked with the precious jewels of his mercy, and mantled with his righteousness, well may she sparkle, and outvie the splendour of a thousand created suns. These are the happy circumstances of the spouse of Jesus; who beholds her in himself as spotless, with ineffable delight; and is enamoured with the comeliness he himself has put upon her; and in an extacy of superlative complacency he expresses his admiration, (contained in the 9th, 10th, and 11th verses) and in the words of our text, which comprehends the whole, he exclaims, "a garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse," &c. The matter contained in this declaration is too ample and full for words to convey an adequate conception of it; at best we see it as through a glass darkly, and but dimly perceive its grandeur.
Let us enquire, First, into the relationship existing, and its antiquity.
Secondly, in what sense the sister and spouse of Christ may be compared to the figurative language—"a garden inclosed."
And here at the very threshold be it premised, that human redemption can add nothing to the glory of God ; for the eternal I AM is ever, and must necessarily ever be a perpetual source of happiness in himself. He needs not the anthems of the heavenly choir, nor the celestial harps or cherubic lays of angelic spirits to hymn his praise, to advance his glory, and increase his felicity. He is a sun amidst the constellations of inferior lights, who borrow their lustre from him, and are all the creation of his heavenly fiat. They serve to display his essential glory, but cannot communicate one particle to his bliss, which is ever boundless, never varying, underived, and full. The creation of man from the dust, and his fall from creature rectitude, develope the glories of his Creator, and exhibit in lively colours the immaculate holiness and righteousness of his character; those glories are infinitely heightened and unfolded by his redemption from the awful state into which he had fallen, through the vicarious sacrifice of an incarnate Jehovah, and the splendour and perfection of his character is more fully revealed; but no event can augment the exalted glory and felicity in which he shines from eternity to eternity.
But for the creation of man, the perfections of deity would have been confined within the sacred abodes of bliss; and but for the immeasurable mercy of his redemption and new creation, all the divine attributes and glories as they centre and shine in the face of Jesus Christ, would have been concealed from mortal view. It is incarnate love which tunes the lyre of the redeemed; it is the vast blessedness completed on Calvary's lovely mount; it is the unspeakable mercies comprehended in a full and free salvation, that wings the love and fires the zeal of every saint; that forms the burden of their song. In absence of this love, praise for redeeming grace would never be resounded. Still the eternal justice of his character would have conspicuously shone in the condemnation of all the human race, and must have been acknowledged throughout never-ending ages. The grand cause of sovereign mercy is resolved into one focus; it is the unveiling his infinite self, in the exhibition of his love, grace, and mercy to the church in Christ. But to proceed—And, first, as to the relationship existing, and its antiquity.
Christ and his church having but one Father, God, the daughter of Zion is the daughter of a King, and sister to Jesus Christ, the Kin" in Zipp. Her mystical Head and Representative being the Son of God, begotten in his human nature by the Holy Ghpst, is the elder Brother of the church, who is a descendant from the $ame source; and she is in consequence really and truly the sister of her gracious Lord.
Her divine Lord having disrobed himself of the princely robes of majesty, and assumed the habiliments of mortality, he betrothed his spouse unto himself in righteousness openly, in the fulness of time, according to the stipulations of the covenant of peace, undertaking tp represent her through evil and good report, and finally to crown her with everlasting favours.
And, with respect to the antiquity of this union, it may be observed that, considered in the purposes of Jehovah, with whorn nothing is future, it existed from everlasting. It is the same in the day of time, as it was in the yesterday of the past, and as it shall Be in the eternity to come. It was before time, and consequently is without date. It is indeed openly manifest in the time state of her being, in the blessed and marvellous union of human nature with the divine; and is openly revealed to his special people, in their calling from the wilderness of sin, and transplanting to a salubrious sojl, more suited to her newly regenerated nature, which is only found within this sacred inclosure, the garden of his graces.
There is an uncommon beauty in this imagery and figure of nature, designed to represent the state and situation in which the sister and spouse of Christ is openly introduced, at her marriage union with her Lord. And as a most fertile and highly cultivated garden, interspersed with romantic scepery, shady walks and bowers, richly overT hung by the bloom of nature, and abounding with refreshing streams, issuing from the ever-flowing springs, which serve to add beauty to the captivating view, and delight tp the fragrant perfumes arising from the variegated flowers; contrasted with the surrounding desert, where are no water springs, no salubrious air and fanning breezes, to exhilirate and cheer the drooping spirits; and where in fact is nothing but dreary darkness, and gloomy midnight reigns solitarily around; serves to shew the infinite superiority and beauty of this cultivated Elysium, above the inhospitable wilderness : so are the blessings with which the garden of grace abounds (only in an infinitely greater degree) calculated to cast the surrounding wild of this perishing world in deeper shades of gloom.
But to proceed to our second enquiry. In what sense may the spouse of Christ be compared to the lovely description—" a garden inclosed?" We may reply, generally and principally from her fairness, comeliness, and beauty, as she stands adorned with the graces of the Spirit, amongst which, those of humility and love beam supereminently conspicuous; and as she appears clad with the vesture of her Redeemer's righteousness, whose image she bears, and whose glory she reflects back to the source from whence it is derived, namely, her royal consort.
A garden is an enclosure set apart for cultivation, either from a barren waste, or a spot of inferior tillage. It is a spot of ground which was once barren, but by the careful skill and wisdom of the husbandman, it becomes furnished with a pleasing variety of trees, plants, and flowers; fountains and gently flowing streams; winding promenades; ceaseless flowing rills, which in their course produce the murmuring accents of a host; and healthy springs. The gay foliage of the diversified scenery and the expanding lawn ; the velvet carpet on which its owner walks, and the refreshing shades under which he reposes, not unfrequently repays his anxious toil, while the fragrant odour of the flowers and spices, which embalm the air with delicious sweets, tend to render his recreation delightsome. And if his mind be cast into a contemplative mould, the scenes of nature give wings to his meditation on nobler subjects than nature yields, amidst his earthly paradise. Such must have been fair Eden, but infinitely superior to the low designs of men in every successive generation; and in an unmeasured degree beggaring the description of the pen of the wise.
Fenced in from the pageantry of men, and hidden from the rude gaze of mortals, how gratifying to the serious mind must be this seat of contemplation. And yet, in the presence of the King of kings, how heightened are its charms; while, in comparison with him, its beauties fade. Yes, compared with our inimitable Jesus, who is the sun of his plantation, and the glory of his Israel, even the brilliancy of the pink and the carnation lose their modest hue, and the enlivening prospect of animated nature becomes dismantled of its plumes, and retires from sight in comparative insignificance. For while nature's God in the splendour of majestic grandeur unfurls his loveliness and grace to the admiring soul, in the sun-like radiance of captivating delight, every inferior object sinks below the orb of supreme affection and delight, and is cast into more than dusky shades. And oh! how exalted and overwhelming is the grace! the spouse of Christ, who once was wandering in a thorny waste, destitute of every thing lovely, being chosen in Christ before the world began, to be his bride, is, in the fulness of time, called by his grace; impressed with the stamp of his divine image; planted by his hand in the Eden of his grace, by the rivers of his eternal love; and is constantly watered by the dews of his mercy, until she is transplanted into the heavenly Jerusalem above. The power which regenerated, and ushered her immortal spirit into newness of life, implanted within her, at her illustrious birth, every grace which can either be useful, necessary, or ornamental, to render her meet for the society of her husband. The cheerful sunshine of his presence, and the expanding gales of the Holy Ghost, act in common consent, by an invisible operation, to call them into exercise: it is then she appears "fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners."
The church of Christ is a paradise of love where Jesus delights to
dwell. Enriched by his full salvation, in her countenance is the
perfection of beauty and holiness. In vain does satan accuse,
arraign, and condemn her; for in her beloved she stands eternally
justified and sanctified; and in him she is a pure and spotless plant of
renown of heavenly extraction, and can only flourish in the garden
of his grace. What a consummation of excellencies are contained in
the unquestionable truths that Zion's husband has paid all her legal
debts, and by virtue of such payment, cancelled all her iniquities,
past, present, and to come; and to the very full remunerated every
exaction of incensed justice: "for her he suffered." And the
copious effusion of his blood which reeked from his expanded wounds
in Gethsemane, is the fountain where his chosen lave, and become
whiter far than drifted snow. How marvellous! she who was once
all animosity and enmity, is now the blessed recipient and partaker
of conjugal affection, and is enabled to triumph in the cross as an
immortal conqueror! The clods of sin with which she is burdened
frequently interrupt her enjoyment of redeeming love, and eclipse
the loveliness in which she is newly created ; but when these earthly
habiliments are dropped in the dust, then will she arise from the
dust unincumbered and unfettered, and display the beauty of the
gold free from all alloy. Then will she appear as she really is in
the uncontaminated apparel of regal dignity. Then will the costly
vesture imputed to her, and put upon her, the garment of humility,
heavenly mindedness and grace, and all the rich attire of the
Redeemer's righteousness, proclaim the dignity of her calling, and
evince her meetness for the royal banquet. Does she shine
illustriously? it is in the image of her Lord. All the glory she emits is
borrowed from her royal consort, who is the celestial sun amidst the
garden of his grace. At his rising, the dark clouds of sin and grief roll
back their midnight shade, and hastily recede from the bright luminary.
How sweet indeed are the beams of love thus shed upon the divine
plantation; and with what a sovereign and inviting influence are
they received! Gladly indeed do the participants of mercy inhale
the welcome rays, and reflect their glory with a dazzling effulgence to
their original, while she is constrained to admire the grace and love,
to be humble and adore.
Whatever is excellent and inviting to the eye, or delightsome to the sense, in inclosures of nature or art, all centre in the spouse of Christ, beheld in him, and beautified by the garments of salvation. And when it is remembered that this super-eminent bestowment is a
free and sovereign gift to the ruined race, what bursts of love and admiration should resound from every humble participant. Indeed in this sacred habitation, though all do not shine equally resplendant as it regards their conduct to their Lord, still they act in harmony and common consent to proclaim in their degree his praise who hath brought them thither. To enjoy the favor of Jesus, and to have love to him is the effect of grace, and is all that is worth attaining. Oh! the wonders of redeeming love! But suppose the sun withdraws his bright and genial rays from the earthly plantation, and sinks below the horizon, and finally retires from sight, and the darkness and chilling cold of night ensues; then the beauties which were so wont to charm with admiration, shut up, become shrouded, or unseen. So if Jesus, who is the sun of righteousness, which illumines, warms, and animates his spirit and plantation, withdraw his exhiliratory presence, his spouse "with her locks wet by the dew of night," and her glory concealed behind the cloud, bereft of her veil (the exercise of faith in its full assurance) enquireth of the watchmen of the night, "have ye seen my beloved?"
(To be concluded in ovr next)
(For the Spiritual Magazine.J
THE CAUSE OF THE SAINTS COMFORT AND PRESER-
"The Lord, he it is that doth go before thee."—Deut. xui. 8.
There is a something in this declaration that is calculated to give comfort to the children of God under all the trials they may be exercised with; a something that is calculated to enable them to bid defiance to all their foes, and to rejoice in hope of the glory of God. For who is it that goes before the saints? It is the Lord. It is he who loved them prior to the formation of this earthly state, who ordered all their affairs in his covenant, and whose eyes are perpetually upon them for good. It is he who knoweth all the temptations that lie in their way, also the strength they need for the hour of distress, and grace to persevere unto the end. It is he whose omnipotent power can remove all difficulties ; subdue all enemies; and preserve them though earth and hell aim to destroy. Possessed of such a friend, such a guide, what can harm the saint? What are all enemies before him who can destroy with the breath of his nostrils the most daring of his foes? What are all trials before him, who can make the heaviest trial the choicest mercy? The Lord may be said to go before his people, 1st, to protect them from danger. The people of God are exposed to many dangers: all the powers of darkness are in league against them ; all the corruptions of their nature arm to interrupt their communion with the Most High. Against their foes they have no defence in themselves; but he who beheld them in his eternal decree with compassion, goes before them. He observes the various ways in which their foes assault them, and exerts his omnipo