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Guthrie's theological writings, have been transcribed from a manuscript volume written about the middle of the seventeenth century, in the possession of David Laing Esq., of the Writers to the Signet Library : which volume was placed by him at the disposal of the Committee, in that frank and generous spirit with which he is always ready to devote his rich antiquarian treasures to the benefit of the public. We respectfuly invite others to follow the example, and thus contribute to extend the rich old theology of our covenanting land.
PREACHED AT AIRTH IN JULY 1658, PREPARATORY TO THE COMMUNION.
“Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards.”—SoNG of SoloMON IV. 8.
WE think we need not stand to tell you who it is that speaks these words, nor to whom it is that they are spoken. Those that do know the words of the Song, do know, that all of it is a mutual conference between Christ and his church, a part of which is set down in these words, in which the Lord Jesus invites his church, whom he doth here call his spouse, that she would come with him from these places mentioned in the text. That which more needs explanation. is—What it is that he means by inviting her to come from Lebanon, and to “look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards.” We shall not trouble you with niceties or curiosities whereof some expositors are full on these words: we take the plain meaning to be, that Lebanon, Amana, Shenir, and Hermon, were several mountains that carried these names, lying into the several airts and corners of the world from the land of Israel, where the church of God now inhabited. And if you will so take the latter part of the words that speaks of the lions' dens and of the mountains of leopards, they are well accommodated with the former; for in these mountains there were lions' dens and leopards. Therefore the plain meaning of the words is, that the Lord Jesus Christ calls his children from all corners and quarters of the world, to draw nigh to himself—that which is spoken by the prophet Isaiah, “Behold, these shall come from far; and lo, these from the north, and from the west, and these from the land of Sinim” (Isa. xlix. 12)—and by Jesus Christ, “Many shall come from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven,” (Matt. viii. 11, Luke xiii. 29). This is the meaning, taking all in order, to the church in general. But in order to the calling of the particular members of the church it reaches yet further; and in that sense we would speak of it at this time. It reaches to hold forth and describe to the churches, or a soul's native country and church, the natural qualification, inclination, and disposition of those dwelling among mountains, and among lions' dens. Hence it is that the Lord Jesus Christ calls them to come home to himself. This may serve for understanding of the words: we come to divide them into these four branches: 1. The party that he invites under the name of his Spouse, to come unto him. 2. The places from which she is called—from Lebanon, Amana, Shenir, Hermon, the lions' dens, and the mountains of the leopards. 3. The invitation itself—that she would come. 4. And lastly, Where away she is invited to come—“Come with me,” and it is repeated again and again; “Come with me, even with me.” 1. The first particular, is the party invited to come, here designated by the name of Spouse. We shall not stand to speak of it, because it is that which frequently occurs through the Song. This indeed is the first time that it occurs, for what reason we shall not determine: all we would say of these compellations is this—that they hold forth a conjugal relation or marriage bond betwixt the Lord Jesus Christ and the souls of his people; which is no small business, whether taking it in order to our comfort or duty. Our Lord's using it before obedience is given, seems to point at the Lord's dear and designating affection to his people. It carries with it on his part the real accomplishment of it; though yet there be no marriage consummated, but only he hath propounded the suit, yet he designates her with that honourable title. It is not easy to reckon how many thoughts of affection, and love, and good will the Lord carries to souls that are within the compass of his decree, though they yet may not be actually fetched home. We believe that those whom he hath actually called, and who have given consent to this proposition to come with him, can give an account of many great and gracious things that he hath done to them, and for them, before ever they had any thoughts of coming to him; that he hath done them many a real, gracious, and good turn. And we think, if on any account there lieth any obligation on souls, it lieth on this account—the many good turns and favours that Jesus Christ has done for them, before they had any thoughts of coming to him. And happily it would not be an unprofitable exercise at this time, to any whose hearts the Lord has been good unto, to consider how many mercies their life hath been attended with from their Lord's hand, since he brought them to the world. 2. The next thing, is the places from which he calls his spouse; to come, from Lebanon, and look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, and the mountains of the leopards. On these, interpreters have both pleasant and profitable things; but we would comprise all into this one plain point of doctrine:— 1. That the native country, condition, state, or carriage of those souls whom the Lord Jesus Christ betroths to himself, is not very desirable:—or thus, Those souls whom the Lord Jesus Christ betroths to himself, are, for natural condition, no desirable match. We shall not go without the bounds of our text. Ye will find this truth made out in 1 Tim. i. and Eph. ii. It is clear in Ezek. xvi. 3, “Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan: thy father was an Amorite, and thymother an Hittite; and as for thynativity, in the day thou wast born, thy naval was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee: thou wast not swaddled at all, nor salted at all; no eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the loathing of thy person, polluted in thine own blood.” Look on the text: ye see, 1. The natural condition of souls to be a barren, fruitless condition; of such a condition are mountains, especially the tops of mountains. I say, all natural condition is a barren condition. Take Paul's testimony of it: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh), dwelleth no good thing,” (Rom. vii. 18). Though you would search it thoroughly, you would find no good fruit there. Look to the third chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, verse 12, “There is none that doeth good, no, not one.” A fruit indeed we bring forth, but it is as good as no fruit. “Israel is an empty vine; he bringeth forth fruit unto himself.” (Hos. x. 1). No fruit unto God, or for the soul; “Israel bringeth forth vanity, and the wind,” (Hab. ii. 13; Isa. xli, 29); yea, worse than that; and so we come to another thing: 2. That as our natural condition is naturally fruitless, so it is base and vile. “Come,” says he, “from the lions' dens, and from the mountains of the leopards;” these dwellingplaces are very vile places. This holds forth our natural estate: “ They are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one,” (Psa. xiv. 3). And it is the condition of all of us by nature, whether Jew or Gentile, for thereby it is that Paul proves the necessity of being justified by faith, (Rom. iii.). Next, it holds forth the ignorance of our natural estate, from the darkness of the lions' dens. Also, from the natural character of the beasts, the brutish* of the children of men's understandings of the most im