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one of Zion's worst calamities. While I write, I shudder for those who carry the insignia of the cross, and are professedly ministers of the Spirit, whose flock are dry and formal, unsatisfied, unblest. “ Is there not a cause ?"
Dear believer in Jesus, be looking unto him who has promised sooner or later to furnish thee with heavenly pasture fresh and green; perhaps thy wintry state is nearly over and gone; rest in hope and quietly wait the appointed season, when he that has promised to come will come, and not tarry. January 4, 1828.
(For the Spiritual Magazine.) THE BELOVED'S RETURN AND COMMENDATION OF HIS
Solomon's Song, vi. 4.-7. WHEN the great revealer of all truth is pleased spiritually to open the glorious union and conjugal oneness that everlastingly subsists between Christ and his church, with all the sweet interchanging expressions of mutual affection that lie hid in this song of loves, it yields pleasure inexpressible, and joy the stranger intermeddleth not with. All the enriching, fertilizing truths of the gospel, are wrapt up in this allegorical treasury; all the gracious and diversified experiences of the living in Jerusalem are richly pourtrayed; and the pre-eminent glories of our super-celestial husband commended and celebrated by the richest figures nature could furnish us with.
Verse 4. The glorious bridegroom comes in and speaks, after a long absence, with his usual, singular kindness. 6 Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah ; comely as Jerusalem ; terrible as an army with banners." He pours into her bosom the assurance she is still lovely in his eyes, even as Tirzah; which signifies acceptable, pleasant, and was the seat of Jewish monarchies; and Jerusalem, which was beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, the most delightful spots selected to set forth her spiritual beauty and comeliness in his eyes. Yea, she is “ terrible as an army with banners." An army is strong and fearful, but a bannered army is stately, terrific, and orderly, under command and ready for battle; an army in its most stately posture and majestic air. The church collectively, when spiritually equipped from the armoury of God, with their faith animated, lively, and strong, is terrible as an army with banners in the sight of the world, the devil, and all their enemies.
But does not this refer to Christ himself, and agree with the scope of his words ? Consider the bride under the withdrawment of her beloved, wrestling in prayer and supplication for his presence, longing with ardent desires for his coming, and by the prayer of faith has power with him and prevails. He cannot, as it were, stand before her-cries, or refuse her request, for she is terrible as an army with
banners in his sight. Mark the wonderful condescension of the Lord Jesus! He esteems her above all the world; he notices the power of her faith in a time of desertion; he always honours his own grace. See the love of this passer-by of transgressions. Here is no upbraiding and bringing forth of folly that was the cause of his departure : his coming was seasonable, when nothing else would comfort her; was wise, when she had found the bitterness of her own way. Notice further, the Lord is not displeased with his people claiming interest in himself in the time of desertion; for she had spoken high of him when enquirers demanded, what there was in him more than others. The bride had been under long and sharp exercise, therefore his manifestation was more full and strong. There is an awfulness and terribleness in believers to the eyes of the profane ; their godly carriage puts a restraint on them.
Verse 5.— Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me." These words strengthen my views of the former verse. Her stately, majestic, and spiritual appearance is here seen in its effects. 66 Turn away thine eyes,” that is, her faith and love, “ for they have overcome me :" that is, her terribleness. As if he had said, (and wonderful condescension in him to say so) I cannot stand before thee. We must here understand her faith in him, and love to him, whereby she is cleaving to bim under desertion, and in her present dark condition, seeking the beloved of her soul. It shews the exceeding great delight he has in all her works of faith and love to him: does it not imply, he could not stand before her looks, no more than one man could stand against an army? It is like those expressions, " I pray thee let me go." Gen. xxxii. 28. " Let me alone,” &c. Exod. xxxii. 10. which shews it is her strength of faith, and importunity of love simply and humbly exercised on him, and cleaving to him, is here commended. “They have overcome me.” Faith gets the victory over Christ, (I say it with reverence and admiration) he is captured and overcome by the eyes of his beloved; which strikingly displays the intenseness of his love, and shews how he marks the humble cleavings, the holy wrestlings, and the holdings-on of faith, when he is afar off to sense. How little are we aware of the incessant love of Christ to our souls ; how oft has he surprised us, when full of doubt and suspicion, in the overcoming expressions of his love and delight in us ! It is a singular expression, and as wonderful a reason: we should never believe it had he not said it.
He goes on opening the love of his heart in his high commendation of her in this 5th verse, the 6th and 7th. " 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 pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks. Ist, The hair is noticed, which is the ornament of the head, compared to a flock of goats which were comely in their going. Prov. xxx. 31. Their appearing from Mount Gilead heightens the figure; it was a fruitful place, where they weje more excellent than others for beauty ; no doubt a flock of goats from Mount Gilead were a pleasant sight to a beholder. But what do we gather spiritually from it ? All the gracious practice or good works of a believer grows out of his knowledge of Christ; the ornament of a good conversation (as Peter calls it) is amiable in his eyes, which makes them as lights in the world; as a woman is careful to adorn her head, so is a believer to maintain good works. And he leaves it to the Lord to commend him, whose adorning is that of a meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is of great price. This was a high commendation of the bride, yes, her carriage was acceptable in his sight.
But the teeth are noticed with a fourfold approval. The teeth are useful for the further nourishment of the body, they fit food for digestion ; so is faith, which is often compared to eating and meditation, which promote the health and life of the child of God. The believer eats and digests gospel food; it is not only looking at Christ, but living on him that sustains the soul. Meditation also serves much to the feeding and satisfying the soul. Meditating on the person, performances, love, and salvation of Christ, on the doctrines of unchanging grace, immutable love, effectual calling, sure promises, and never failing faithfulness, under the unction and blessing of God the Holy Ghost strengthens the man of God. It is not only knowing the gospel, but understanding it, and receiving its blessed contents in the heart; it is ruminating on, and digesting the truth, that strengthens us to live for God. David explains the whole : “ my soul shall be filled with marrow and fatness, while I meditate on thee on my bed, and think of thee in the night watches.” Ps. Ixiii. 5, 6. They are used to signify the nature and disposition of a person. Ps. lvii. 4. Therefore he compares her teeth to a flock of sheep, which were clean beasts and chewed the cud. They set forth the zealous nature which is in believers, when the Lord's honor and truth are concerned; zeal, though it is not destructive or wild, yet is easily touched when the honor of God is reflected on. Again, it shews the meek and quiet spirit of believers ; they have not teeth like lions or bears, but sheep; not to bite and devour, but are gentle and peaceable; and this appears by the opening of the lips, as the new nature is expressed or visible by words, which is a notable piece of her spiritual beauty. “A Aock,” not a few scattered ones, but handsome and regular, which sets forth a well-guided zeal, the produce of faith and meditation; that there is much of the opposite in the believer is allowed, but I am speaking of the commendation) her zeal was steady, not high or low, up and down, but keeps equal pace. He speaks high of the conduct of the spouse; when he had withdrawn himself she was alive to his honour, and could distinguish between gospel food and husks, and thought upon his name though he was departed for a season. The similitude implies a good subject to feed on ; Christ and his salvation is a good theme to meditate on ; the same Christ, and all that is precious in him. They are as a flock
of sheep, white and clean; their zeal is pure, their movements are single, and their affections chaste. “To the pure, all things are pure.” Lastly, their fruitfulness: whereof every one beareth twins, and there is not one barren among them.” Not only their healthiness, but their fruitfulness is evidenced, and that in an abundant manner. Thus, the divine nature imparted, the prolific root of all spiritual graces is a delightful possession, which, like a flock of sheep, enriches the owner. They are both beautiful and profitable. The soul that feeds on Christ by meditation brings forth fruits of righteousness to his praise. The just shall live by his faith, and a life of faith on the Son of God glorifies him.
Verse 7. “ As a piece of pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks.” The temples are the seat of shamefacedness and modesty, which the bridegroom highly commends in his bride. They are like a piece of pomegranate, which is red inside, beautifully setting forth the holy blushings of the believer; they are within the locks, chaste and modest, in opposition to impudent boldness. She has a tenderness, soon affected with wrongs done to him; soft like the pomegranate, contrasted with the brow of brass. The real believer, when he hears the Beloved spoken evil of, sensibly feels it, and blushes at his want of zeal to vindicate his honour. There are many hypocrites who will talk about religion, and make a great noise for it, whose temples are not like a piece of pomegranate within the locks. This spiritual tenderness, modesty, and holy blushing is peculiar to the bride. In all their approaches to the throne of God under spiritual influence, they are covered with holy shame, on account of their vileness, infirmities and folly ; when they look at their advances in the divine life, their knowledge, faith, &c. when they reflect on their impatience, rebellion, and ingratitude, crimson blushes fill their face. The world is a stranger to what is passing in the mind of the child of God. It further implies, they are not forward to speak of themselves, nor to think any thing of themselves, but there is a holy diffidence when commended of others. When they look upon their own way, they are covered with shame and confusion of face; not like the brazen pharisee boasting of his goodness and holiness. Mark, while the believer modestly covers his good works, yet, the evidences of them appear in a tender walk, and are comely. Shamefacedness becomes the believer, and inward heart-humblings, are the sure result of investigating ourselves before God. This grace of self-loathing and holy blushing is noticed by Christ, however much it is hid from the world. Golden Square.
FRAGMENT. 66 Without Christ, without hope, and without God in the world.” A most overwhelming and awful description of a poor fallen creature: -pause and think " without a God !”
Vol. IV.-No. 46. 2 N
ON THE PAST YEAR. « We have thought of thy loving-kindness, o God.”—Ps. xlviii. 9. The mercy of God is that royal fountain whence all blessings, whether bodily or spiritual, flow for the benefit of the church, and are enjoyed by each individual subject of grace. Hence the Psalmist in a season of adoring gratitude and admiration exclaims, “ the Lord will perfect that which concerneth me; thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever, forsake not the works of thine own hands.” Ps. cxxxviii. 8. And as praise is comely for the upright, and the Lord's ear is ever open to the voice of his people, oh! let us tune our lips and raise our hearts to a song of joy for the unnumbered displays of his lovingkindness, from the commencement to the present period of our pilgrimage. Truly may we respond to the notes of David, while contemplating the season at which we write, “ The Lord hath perfected that which concerneth us: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever; forsake not the work of thine own hands !" For, however craving care and sinful anxiety may induce the constant complaint, that the former days were better than these,' or “Oh! that I had attained to such and such temporal and spiritual advantages, yet a sound judgment teaches us that the Lord hath thus far accomplished the whole of his design concerning us, that his mercy is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and that he hath sovereignly engaged not to forsake the work of his own hands.
The closing scene of another year, speaks aloud for this effect, and enforces its claims on those who have ears to hear by the most weighty and important considerations. But the prevailing evil, from which the believer requires to be incessantly guarded, is a forgetfulness of the nature of the dispensations of mercy in his behalf; and thus he loses, in enjoyment, the better portion of the favour which is always opportunely conferred. Yet it is a profitable and consoling thought, amidst his regrets at past and present unconsciousness of the value of his mercies, that a future perfect understanding shall be communicated, when he will not see as through a glasss darkly, but in the mirror of perfection, by intuitive knowledge, behold all the way the Lord hath led him,- pierce every cloud that has here intercepted his view,--and for every visitation in love, which may now be lost sight of and forgotten, he will then triumph gloriously. How much more then, think ye, brethren believers, shall our joys abound, when the Ebenezer we have been enabled now and then to erect to our Lord's glory, shall be brought to remembrance ?-_and when the blessedness we have in part realized, shall be heightened and made complete in the exercise of immortal faculties? “ For since the