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Bible Commentaries
Song of Solomon 2

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the BibleSpurgeon's Verse Expositions

Verse 1

Two Sermons: The Best of the Best and The Rose and the Lily

The Best of the Best

May 19th, 1881 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys." Song of Song of Solomon 2:1 .

The time of flowers has come, and as they are in some faint degree emblems of our Lord, it is well, when God thus calls, that we should seek to learn what he desires to teach us by them. If nature now spreads out her roses and her lilies, or prepares to do so, let us try, not only to see them, but to see Christ as he is shadowed forth in them. "I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys." If these are the words of the Well-beloved, and I have no doubt that they are, then it may be suggested by some that here we have the Savior praising himself; and it is true; but in no unworthy sense, for well may he praise himself since no one else can do it as it should be done. There is no human language that can ever set forth his beauties as they deserve to be told. As good John Berridge says,

"Living tongues are dumb at best, We must die to speak of Christ"

as he should be spoken of. He will never fully be described unless he shall describe himself. For certain, we should never have known God if he had not revealed himself; and every good thing that you or I know of him, he himself has told us. We make no discoveries of God except as God discovers himself to us. If, then, any cavillers were to find fault with the Christ of God because he did commend himself, I would answer, Does not God commend himself, and must not his well-beloved Son do the same? Who else is there that can possibly reveal him to us unless he unveils his own face to our admiring gaze? Moreover, be it always remembered that human self-praise is evil because of the motive which underlies it. We praise ourselves, and, alas! that we should be so foolish as to do so, we do it out of pride; but when Christ praises himself, he does it out of humility. "Oh!" say you, "how can you prove that to be true?" Why, thus; he praises himself that he may win our love; but what condescension it is on his part that he should care about the love of such insignificant and undeserving persons as we are! It is a wonderful stoop that the Christ of God should speak about having a bride, and that he should come to seek his bride among the sons of men. If princes were to look for consorts among beggars, that would be after all but a small stoop, for God hath made of one blood all nations of men that dwell upon the face of the earth; but for Christ to forsake the thrones and glories of heaven, and the splendours of his Father's courts above, to come down to win a well-beloved one here, and for her sake to take upon himself her nature, and in her nature to bear the shame of death, even the death of the cross, this is stupendous condescension of which only God himself is capable; and this praising of himself is a part of that condescension, a necessary means of winning the love of the heart that he has chosen. So that this is a matchless instance, not of pride, but of humility, that those dear lips of the heavenly Bridegroom should have to speak to his own commendation, and that he should say, "I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys." O human lips, why are ye silent, so that Christ must speak about himself? O human hearts, why are ye so hard that ye will never feel until Christ himself shall address you? O human eyes, why are ye so blind that ye shall never see till Christ shows himself in his own superlative light and loveliness? I think I need not defend my Master, though he used these sweet emblems to set forth himself; for this is an instance, not of his pride, but of his humility. It is also an instance of the Master's wisdom, for as it is his design to win hearts to himself, he uses the best means of winning them. How are hearts won? Very often, by the exhibition of beauty. Love at first sight has been begotten by the vision of a lovely countenance. Men and women, too, are struck with affection through the eye when they perceive some beauty which charms and pleases them; so, the Savior lifts the corner of the veil that conceals his glories, and lets us see some glimpse of his beauty, in order that he may win our hearts. There are some who seem to think that they can bully men to Christ; but that is a great mistake. It is very seldom that sinners can be driven to the Savior; his way is to draw them. He himself said, "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die." And the drawings of Christ are not, as it were, with a cart rope, but with silken bonds, ay, with invisible chains, for his beauty is of such a character that it creates love, his beauty is so attractive that it draws the heart. So, in infinite wisdom, our Lord Jesus Christ sets forth his own beauties that thereby he may win our hearts. I do believe that there is no preaching like the exaltation of Christ crucified. There is nothing so likely to win the sons of men as a sight of him; and if God the Holy Ghost will but help all his ministers, and help all his people, to set forth the beauties of Christ, I shall not doubt that the same Spirit will incline men's hearts to love him and to trust him. Note, then, the condescension and also the wisdom which are perceptible in this self-commendation on the part of Christ: "I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys." I think that our Lord also speaks thus as an encouragement to timid souls; his tender familiarity in praising himself to us is one of the most effectual proofs of his lowliness. Does Christ commend himself to us? Does he say to us, for instance, "I am meek and lowly in heart"? What is his object in speaking thus but that we may take his yoke upon us, and may learn of him, and that we may find rest unto our souls? And if he says, "I am the rose of Sharon," what does he mean but that we may pluck him, and take him for our own? If he says, "I am the lily of the valleys," why does he take the trouble to tell us that but because he wants us to take him, and to have him for our very own? I think that it is so sweet of Christ to praise himself in order to show that he longs for us to come to him. He declares himself to be a fountain of living water; yet why is he a fountain but that we may come unto him, and drink? He tells us, "I am the bread which came down from heaven;" but why does he speak of himself as bread, whereof if a man eat, he shall never hunger? Why, because he wants us to partake of him! You need not, therefore, be afraid that he will refuse you when you come to him. If a man praises his wares, it is that he may sell them. If a doctor advertises his cures, it is that other sick folk may be induced to try his medicine; and when our Lord Jesus Christ praises himself, it is a kind of holy advertisement by which he would tempt us to "come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." If he praises himself, it is that we may fall in love with him; and we need not be afraid to come and lay our poor hearts at his feet, and ask him to accept us, for he would not have wooed us by unveiling his beauties if he had meant, after all, to trample on our hearts, and say, "I care nothing for such poor love as yours." I feel most grateful, then, that I have not at this time so much to praise my Master as to let him speak his own praises, for "never man spake like this Man." When he commends himself, what would have been folly in others is wisdom in him; and whereas we say to our fellow-man, "Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth," I would say to Christ, "My Master, praise thyself, for thou alone canst do it as it ought to be done." As for thy poor servant, he would try to be the echo of thy voice, and that will be infinitely better than anything he can say of himself. I think, also, that there is good reason for our Lord to praise himself in the fashion that he does in our text, because, after all, it is not praise. "What!" say you, "and yet you have been talking all this while as if it was praise." Well, so it is in one sense, to us, but it is not so to Christ. Suppose the sun were to compare itself with a glow-worm, would that be praise? Suppose an angel were to compare himself with an emmet, would that be praise? And when my Lord and Master, whose eyes outshine the sun, and who is infinitely higher than the mightiest of the angels, compares himself to a rose and a lily, is that praise? Well, it is so to you and to me, but it certainly cannot be so to him. It is a marvellous stoop for Christ, who is "God over all, blessed for ever," and the Light of the universe, to say, "I am a rose; I am a lily." O my blessed Lord, this is a sort of incarnation, as when the Eternal God did take upon himself an infant's form! So here, the Everlasting God says, "I am" and what comes next? "a rose and a lily." It is an amazing stoop, I know not how to set it forth to you by human language; it is a sort of verbal rehearsal of what he did afterwards when, though he counted it not robbery to be equal with God, "he took upon himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." "I am God, yet," saith he, "I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys." What does our text mean? I think it means that our Lord Jesus Christ is exceedingly delightful, so, let us speak, first, of the exceeding delightfulness of our Lord; and then, inasmuch as he uses two emblems, first the rose, and then the lily, surely this is to express the sweet variety of his delightfulness; and, inasmuch as he speaks of himself as the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys, I shall have to show you, in the last place, that this hints to us the exceeding freeness of his delightfulness. I. First, then, the text sets forth THE EXCEEDING DELIGHTFULNESS OF OUR LORD. He compares himself here, not as in other places to needful bread and refreshing water, but to lovely flowers, to roses and lilies. What is the use of roses and lilies? I know what the use of corn is; I must eat it, it is necessary to me for food. I know why barley and rye and all sorts of roots and fruits are created; they are the necessary food of man or beast. But what do we want with roses? What do we want with lilies? They are of no use at all except for joy and delight. With their sweet form, their charming color, and their delicious fragrance, we are comforted and pleased and delighted; but they are not necessaries of life. A man can live without roses; there are millions of people, I have no doubt, who live without possessing lilies of the valley. There are all too few roses and lilies in this smoky Babylon of ours; but, when we do get them, what are their uses? Why, they are things of beauty, if not "a joy for ever." Jesus is all that and more; he is far more than "a thing of beauty," and to all who trust him he will be "a joy for ever." To you who are Christ's people, he is your bread, for you feed on him, and he makes you live; you could not do without him as the sustenance of your soul. He is the living water, and your soul would pine and perish of a burning thirst if you did not drink of him. But that is not all that Jesus is to you; God has never intended to save his people on the scale of the workhouse, to give you just as much as you absolutely need, and nothing more. No, no, no; he means you to have joy as well as to have life, to look upon beauty as well as to be in safety, and to have not only a healthy atmosphere, but an atmosphere that is laden with the odour of sweet flowers. You are to find in Christ roses and lilies, as well as bread and water; you have not yet seen all his beauties, and you do not yet know all his excellence. The exceeding delightfulness of Christ is suggested to our mind by his declaration, "I am the rose, and I am the lily." And first, he is in himself the delight of men. He speaks not of offices, gifts, works, possessions; but of himself: "I am." Our Lord Jesus is the best of all beings; the dearest, sweetest, fairest, and most charming of all beings that we can think of is the Son of God, our Savior. Come hither, ye poets who dream of beauty, and then try to sing its praises; but your imagination could never reach up to the matchless perfection of his person, neither could your sweetest music ever attain to the full measure of his praise. Think of him as the God-man, God incarnate in human nature, and absolutely perfect; I was going to say something more than that, for there is not only in him all that there ought to be, but there is more than your thoughts or wishes have ever compassed. Eyes need to be trained to see beauty. No man seeth half or a thousandth part of the beauty even of this poor, natural world; but the painter's eye the eye of Turner, for instance, can see much more than you or I ever saw. "Oh!" said one, when he looked on one of Turner's landscapes, "I have seen that view every day, but I never saw as much as that in it." "No," replied Turner, "don't you wish you could?" And, when the Spirit of God trains and tutors the eye, it sees in Christ what it never saw before. But, even then, as Turner's eye was not able to see all the mystery of God's beauty in nature, so neither is she most trained and educated Christian able to perceive all the matchless beauty that there is in Christ. I do not think, brethren, that there is anything about Christ but what should make his people glad. There are dark truths concerning him, such as his bearing our sin; but what a joy it is to us that he did bear it, and put it away for ever! It makes us weep to look at Jesus dying on the cross, but there is more real joy in the tears of repentance than there is in the smiles of worldly mirth. I would choose my heaven to be a heaven of everlasting weeping for sin, sooner than have a heaven if such a heaven could be, consisting of perpetual laughing at the mirth of fools. There is more true pleasure in mourning before God than in dancing before the devil. Christ is, then, all beauty; even the dark parts in him are light, and the bitter parts are sweet. He has only to be seen by you, and you must perceive that, whether it be his Godhead or his manhood, whether it be his priesthood, his royalty, or his prophetic office, whether it be on the cross or on the throne, whether it be on earth, or in heaven, or in the glory of his second coming, every way,

"All over glorious is my Lord, Must be beloved, and yet ador'd; His worth if all the nations knew Sure the whole earth would love him too."

But, next, our Lord is exceedingly delightful to the eye of faith. He not only tells us of what delight is in himself, "I am the rose, and I am the lily," but he thereby tells us that there is something to see in him, for the rose is very pleasing to look upon. Is there a more beautiful sight than a rose that is in bud, or even one that is fullblown? And the lily what a charming thing it is! It seems to be more a flower of heaven than of earth. Well now, Christ is delightful to the eye of faith. I remember the first time I ever saw him; I shall never forget that sight, and I have seen him many a time since, and my grief is that I ever take off my eyes from him, for it is to look away from the sun into blackness; it is to look away from bliss into misery. To you who look at Christ by faith, a sight of him brings such peace, such rest, such hope, as no other sight can ever afford; it so sweetens everything, so entirely takes away the bitterness of life, and brings us to anticipate the glory of the life that is to come, that I am sure you say, "Yes, yes; the figure in the text is quite correct; there is a beauty in Jesus to the eye of faith, he is indeed red as the rose and white as the lily." And, next, the Lord Jesus Christ is delightful in the savor which comes from him to us. In him is a delicious, varied, abiding fragrance which is very delightful to the spiritual nostril. Smell is, I suppose, a kind of delicate feeling; minute particles of certain substances touch sensitive membranes, and we call the sensation that is produced smelling. It is a mysterious sense; you can understand sight and hearing better than you can understand smelling. There is a spiritual way of perceiving the savor of Christ; I cannot explain it to you, but there is an ineffable mysterious sweetness that proceeds from him which touches the spiritual senses, and affords supreme delight; and as the body has its nose, and its tender nerves that can appreciate sweet odours, so the soul has its spiritual nostril by which, though Christ be at a distance, it yet can perceive the fragrant emanations that come from him, and is delighted therewith. What is there that comes from Christ, from day to day, but his truth, his Spirit, his influence, his promises, his doctrines, his words of cheer? All these have a heavenly sweetness, and make us, with the psalmist, say to our Lord, "All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad." Whenever these sweet odours are wafted down to us, they make us also glad; anything that has the savor of Christ in it is sweet to a Christian. If Christ has touched it, let me put it in my bosom, and keep it there as a sweet forget-me-not, until I see his face in glory. Ay, the very stones he sat on, I was about to say, the very mountains at which he looked, have become dear to us. We have no idolatrous or superstitious reverence for Palestine, or even for the garden in which he sweat great drops of blood; but for spiritual things with which he has to do, we have a never-ceasing reverence and affection. Everything that comes from him is wondrous as the songs of the angels must have been to the shepherds of Bethlehem, and sweet to the taste as the manna that dropped from the skies around Israel's desert camp. Yes, brethren and sisters, there is a sweet savor about the Lord Jesus Christ; do you all perceive it? Once more, in all that he is, Christ is the choicest of the choice. You notice, the Bridegroom says, "I am the rose." Yes, but there were some particularly beautiful roses that grew in the valley of Sharon; "I am that rose," said he. And there were some delightful lilies in Palestine; it is a land of lilies, there are so many of them that nobody knows which lily Christ meant, and it does not at all signify, for almost all lilies are wondrously beautiful. "But," said he, "I am the lily of the valleys," the choicest kind of lily that grew where the soil was fat and damp with the overflow of mountain streams. "I am the lily of the valleys:" that is to say, Christ is not only good, but he is the best; and he is not only the best, but he is the best of the best. He is a flower; ay, but he is a rose, that is the queen of flowers; ay, but then he is the best rose there is, he is the rose of Sharon. He is a Savior, and a great one; yea, the only Savior. He is a Husband; but what a Husband! Was there ever such a Bridegroom as Christ Jesus the Lord? He is the Head; but Father Adam was a poor head compared with him. He is inexpressibly, unutterably, indescribably lovely; I might as well leave off talking about him, for I cannot hope to set him forth as he deserves. If you could but see him, I would leave off, for I am sure I should be only hanging a veil before him with the choicest words that I could possibly use. Suppose you had a dear son, or husband, or friend, far away, and that I was a painter who could carry pictures in my mind's eye, and then draw them to the very life. If I stood here, trying to paint your well-beloved friend, laying on my colors with all the skill I possessed, and doing my best to reproduce his features; suppose, while I was at work, that the door at the back was opened, and he came in, I should cry out, "Oh, stop, stop, stop! Let me put away my canvas, let me pack up my brushes and my paints. Here is the loved one himself; look at him! Look at him, not at my portrait of him!" And you would rise from your seat, and say, "It is he! It is he! You may talk as long as you like, dear sir, when he is away; but when he is himself here, your talk seems but mere chatter." Well, I shall be quite content that you should think so, I shall be even glad if you do, provided that the reason shall be that you can say, "We have seen the Lord. He has manifested himself to us as he does not unto the world." "I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys." The best of the best, the fairest of the fair, the sweetest of the sweet, is Jesus Christ to you and to me if we are indeed his people. I cannot say more about the exceeding delightfulness of my Lord; I wish I could. II. I must pass on, next, to notice THE SWEET VARIETY OF CHRIST'S DELIGHTFULNESS. He is not only full of joy, and pleasure, and delight to our hearts, but he is full of all sorts of joy, and all sorts of pleasure, and all sorts of delights to us.

"Nature, to make his beauties known, Must mingle colors not her own."

The rose is not enough, you must have the lily also, and the two together fall far short of the glories of Christ, the true "Plant of renown." "I am the rose." That is the emblem of majesty. The rose is the very queen of flowers; in the judgment of all who know what to admire it is enthroned above all the rest of the beauties of the garden. But the lily what is that? That is the emblem of love. The psalmist hints at this in the title of the forty-fifth Psalm. "Upon Shoshannim, a Song of love." Shoshannim signifies lilies, so the lily-psalm is the love-song, for the lilies, with their beauty, their purity, their delicacy, are a very choice emblem of love. Are you not delighted when you put these two things together, majesty and love? A King upon a throne of love, a Prince, whose very eyes beam with love to those who put their trust in him, a real Head, united by living bonds of love to all his members; such is our dear Lord and Savior. A rose and yet a lily; I do not know in which of the two I take the greater delight, I prefer to have the two together. When I think that my Savior is King of kings and Lord of lords, I shout, "Hallelujah!" But when I remember that he loved me, and gave himself for me, and that still he loves me, and that he will keep on loving me for ever and ever, there is such a charm in this thought that nothing can excel it. Look at the lily, and sing,

"Jesu, lover of my soul, Let me to thy bosom fly, While the nearer waters roll, While the tempest still is high! Hide me, O my Savior, hide, Till the storm of life be past; Safe into the haven guide; Oh receive my soul at last."

Then look at the rose, and sing,

"All hail the power of Jesus' name! Let angels prostrate fall; Bring forth the royal diadem, And crown him Lord of all;"

then put the rose and the lily together, and let them remind you of Christ's majesty and love. The combination of these sweet flowers also suggests our Lord's suffering and purity.

"White is his soul, from blemish free, Red with the blood he shed for me."

The rose, with its thorn, reminds us of his suffering, his bleeding love to us, his death on our behalf, his bearing of the thorns which our sin created. Christ is a royal rose beset with thorns; but the lily shows that

"For sins not his own He died to atone."

Jesus, when on earth, could say, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." The devil himself could not see a spot or speck in that lovely lily. Jesus Christ is perfection itself, he is all purity; so you must put the two together, the rose and the lily, to show Christ's suffering and perfection, the infinitely pure infinitely suffering. In which of the two do you take the greater delight? Surely, in neither, but in the combination of both; what would be the value of Christ's sufferings if he were not perfect? And of what avail would his perfections be if he had not died, the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God? But the two together, the rose and the lily, suffering and purity, fill us with delight. Of both of these there is a great variety. I wonder how many different sorts of roses there are, I should not like to have to tell you; they vary exceedingly, perhaps there are as many kinds as there are days in the year. How many varieties of lilies are there? Possibly, there are as many sorts of lilies as there are of roses, for both of them are wonderfully diversified; but the joys that flow from our Lord Jesus Christ are as abundant and as varied as the roses and the lilies. Bring me which rose you please, and I will tell you that it smells sweet; bring which lily you choose, and I will say, "Yes, that also has a delicate perfume; that will do, with the rose, to serve as an emblem of Christ." Our Lord Jesus possesses every kind of beauty and fragrance. "He is all my salvation, and all my desire." All good things meet in Christ; in him all the lines of beauty are focussed. Blessed are they who truly know him. Further, Christ is the very essence of the sweetness both of the rose and of the lily. When he says, "I am the rose," he means, not only that he is like the rose, but that he made all the sweetness there is in the rose, and it is still in him; and all the sweetness there is in any creature comes to us from Christ, or else it is not sweetness such as we ought to love. I like to look upon the bread I eat as his gift to me, and to bless his providential hand that bestows it. I like to look upon all the landscape on such a fair day as this has been, and to say, "Christ is in all this, giving this charming view to such a poor, unworthy creature as I am." He is in all there is that is good, he is the goodness of all the good there is. He is the very soul of the universe, whatever there is in the universe that is worthy of our soul's love. All good for our soul comes from him, whether it be pardon of sin, or justification, or the sanctification that makes us fit for glory hereafter, Christ is the source of it all; and in the infinite variety of delights that we get from him, he is himself the essence of it all. We can become tired of most things, I suppose that we can become tired of everything earthly; but we shall never tire of Christ. I remember one who, when near his death-hour, forgot even his wife, and she was greatly grieved that he did not recognize her. They whispered in his ear the name of his favourite child; but he shook his head. His oldest friend, who had known him from his boyhood, was not recognized. At last they asked him, "Do you know Jesus Christ?" Then he said, "Ah, yes! and I am going to him." The ruling passion was strong in death; Christ was nearer and dearer to him than those he loved best here. All Bowers will fade, even roses and lilies among them; but not this blessed Rose of Sharon, and Lily of the valleys. Christ does not say, "I was a rose, and I was a lily;" but "I am the rose, and I am the lily." He is now all that he ever was, and he will be in life, in death, and throughout all eternity, to the soul that knows him, an infinite variety of everything that is delightful. III. I must now very briefly take up the last head of my discourse, which is, THE EXCEEDING FREENESS OF OUR LORD'S DELIGHTFULNESS. It is not very pleasant or satisfying for hungry people to stand in the street, and hear someone praising a good meal, of which they cannot get even a taste. I have often noticed boys standing outside a shop window, in which there have been all sorts of dainties; they have flattened their noses against the window-pane, but they have not been able to get anything to eat. I have been talking about my Master, and I want to show you that he is accessible, he is meant to be plucked and enjoyed as roses and lilies are. He says in the text, "I am the rose of Sharon." What was Sharon? It was an open plain where anybody might wander, and where even cattle roamed at their own sweet will. Jesus is not like a rose in Solomon's garden, shut up within high walls, with broken glass all along the top. Oh, no! he says, "I am the rose of Sharon," everybody's rose, the flower for the common people to come and gather. "I am the lily." What lily? The lily of the palace of Shushan, enclosed and guarded from all approach? No; but, "I am the lily of the valleys," found in this glen, or the other ravine, growing here, there, and everywhere: "I am the lily of the valleys." Then Christ is as abundant as a common flower. Whatever kind of rose it was, it was a common rose; whatever kind of lily it was, it was a well-known lily that grew freely in the valleys of that land. Oh, blessed be my Master's name, he has brought us a common salvation, and he is the common people's Christ! Men in general do not love him enough, or else they would have hedged him in with all sorts of restrictions; they would have made a franchise for him, and nobody would have been able to be saved except those who paid I know not how much a year in taxes. But they do not love our Lord enough to shut him in, and I am glad they have never tried to do so. There he stands, at the four-cross roads, so that everybody who comes by, and wants him, may have him. He is a fountain, bearing this inscription, "Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." "I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys." Why do roses grow in Sharon? Why do lilies grow in the valleys? Why, to be plucked, of course! I like to see the children go down into the meadow when it is decked in grass, and adorned with flowers, gilded with buttercups, or white with the day's-eyes; I love to see the children pluck the flowers, and fill their pinafores with them, or make garlands, and twist them round their necks, or put them on their heads. "O children, children!" somebody might cry, "do not spoil those beautiful flowers, do not go and pick them." Oh, but they may! nobody says they may not; they may not go into our gardens, and steal the geraniums and the fuchsias; but they may get away into the meadows, or into the open fields, and pluck these common flowers to their heart's content. And now, poor soul, if you would like an apronful of roses, come and have them. If you would like to carry away a big handful of the lilies of the valleys, come and take them, as many as you will. May the Lord give you the will! That is, after all, what is wanted; if there be that grace-given will, the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the valleys will soon be yours. They are common flowers, growing in a common place, and there are plenty of them; will you not take them? Even to those who do not pluck any, there is one strange thing that must not be forgotten. A man passes by a rose-bush, and says, "I cannot stop to think about roses," but as he goes along he exclaims, "Dear, dear, what a delicious perfume!" A man journeying in the East goes through a field that is full of lilies; he is in a great hurry, but, for all that, he cannot help seeing and smelling the lilies as he rushes through the field. And, do you know, the perfume of Christ has life in it? He is "a savor of life unto life." What does that mean but that the smell of him will save? Ah! if you do but glance at him, though you were so busy that you could not come in till the sermon had begun, yet a glance at this Lily will bring you joy and peace, for he is so free that, often, even when men are not asking for him, he comes to them. "What?" say you, "is it so?" Yes, that it is; such is the freeness of Christ's grace that it is written, "I am found of them that sought me not." He sends his sweet perfume into nostrils that never sniffed after it. He puts himself in the way of eyes that never looked for him. How I wish that some man who has never sought for Christ, might find him even now! You remember the story that Christ tells of the man that was ploughing the field; he was only thinking of the field, and how much corn it would take to sow it; and he was ploughing up and down, when suddenly, his plowshare hit upon something hard. He stopped the oxen, and took his spade, and dug, and there was an old crock, and it was full of gold. Somebody had hidden it away, and left it. This man had never looked for it, for he did not even know it was there, but he had stumbled on it, as men say, by accident. What did he do? He did not tell anybody, but he went off to the man who was the owner of the field, and he said, "What will you take for that field?" "Can you buy it?" "Yes, I want it, what will you take for it?" The price was so high that he had to sell the house he lived in, and his oxen, and his very clothes off his back; but he did not care about that, he bought the field, and he bought the treasure, and then he was able to buy back his clothes, his house, and his oxen, and everything else. If you find Christ, and if you have to sell the coat off your back in order to get him, if you have to give up everything you have that you may find him, you will have such a treasure in him that, for the joy of finding him, you would count all the riches of Egypt to be less than nothing and vanity; but you need not sell the coat off your back, Christ is to be had for nothing, only you must give him yourself. If he gives himself to you, and he becomes your Savior, you must give yourself to him, and become his servant. Trust him, I beseech you, the Lord help you so to do, for Jesus' sake! Amen.

The Rose and the Lily

December 8, 1867 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys." -Song of Song of Solomon 2:1 .

Here are sweet flowers blooming serenely in this wintry weather. In the garden of the soul you may gather fragrant flowerets at all seasons of the year; and although the soul's garden, like every other, has its winter, yet, strange to say, no sooner do the roses and the lilies mentioned in the text begin to bloom, than the winter flies and the summer smiles. Outside in your garden, the summer brings the roses; but within the enclosure of the heart, the roses and lilies create the summer. I trust that we this morning may have grace to walk abroad in the fields of heavenly contemplation, to admire the matchless charms of him whose cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers, whose lips are like lilies dropping sweet-smelling myrrh. May our hearts interpret the language of our text, and sing-

'Tis he a rose? Not Sharon yields Such fragrancy in all her fields: Or, if the lily he assume, The valleys bless the rich perfume."

It is our Lord who speaks: "I am the rose of Sharon." How is it that he utters his own commendation, for it is an old and true adage, that "self praise is no recommendation"? None but vain creatures ever praise themselves, and yet Jesus often praises himself, he says, "I am the good Shepherd;" "I am the Bread of Life;" "I am meek and lowly of heart," and in manifold speeches he is frequently declaring his own excellencies, yet Jesus is not vain- Scorned be the thought! Yet I said if any creature praised itself it must be vain, and that, too, is true. How then shall we solve the riddle? Is not this the answer, that he is no creature at all, and therefore does not come beneath this rule? For the creature to praise itself is vanity, but for the Creator to praise himself, for the Lord God to manifest and show forth his own glory is becoming and proper. Hear how he extols his own wisdom and power in the end of the book of Job, and see if it is not most appropriate, as the Lord himself proclaims it! Is not God constantly ruling both providence and grace for the manifestation of his own glory, and do we not all freely consent that no motive short of his own glory would be worthy of the divine mind? So, then, because Christ talks thus of himself, since no man dare call him vainglorious, I gather an indirect proof of his deity, and bow down before him, and bless him that he gives me this incidental evidence of his being no creature, but the uncreated one himself. An old Scotch woman once said, "He is never so bonnie as when he is commending himself;" and we all feel it so: no words appear more suitable out of his own lips than these, "I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys." Our Lord when he thus praises himself doubtless does so for an excellent reason, namely, that no one can possibly reveal him to the sons of men but himself. No lips can tell the love of Christ to the heart until Jesus himself shall speak within. Descriptions all fall flat and tame unless the Holy Spirit fills them with life and power; until our Emmanuel reveals himself within the recesses of the heart, the soul sees him not. If you would see the sun, would you light your candles? Would you gather together the common means of illumination, and seek in that way to behold the orb of day? No, the wise man knows that the sun must reveal itself and only by its own blaze can that mighty lamp be seen. It is so with Christ. Unless he so manifest himself to us, as he does not unto the world, we cannot behold him. He must say to us, "I am the rose of Sharon," or else all the declarations of man that he is the rose of Sharon will fall short of the mark. "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona:" said he to Peter, "for flesh and blood has not revealed this unto you." Purify flesh and blood by any educational process you may select, elevate mental faculties to the highest degree of intellectual power, yet none of these can reveal Christ. The Spirit of God must come with power, and overshadow the man with his wings, and then in that mystic Holy of Holies the Lord Jesus must display himself to the sanctified eye, as he does not unto the sightless sons of men. Christ must be his own mirror; as the diamond alone can cut the diamond, so he alone can display himself. Is it not clear enough to us all, that Jesus being God, befittingly praises himself; and we being frail creatures, he must necessarily commend himself, or we should never be able to perceive his beauty at all? Each reason is sufficient, both are overwhelming; it is most suitable that Jesus should preach Jesus, that love should teach us love. Beloved, happy are those men to whom our Lord familiarly unveils his beauties. He is the rose, but it is not given unto all men to perceive his fragrance. He is the fairest of lilies, but few are the eyes, which have gazed upon his matchless purity. He stands before the world without form or loveliness, a root out of a dry ground, rejected by the vain, and despised by the proud. The great mass of this bleary-eyed world can see nothing of the ineffable glories of Emmanuel. Only where the Spirit has touched the eye with eye-salve, quickened the heart with divine life, and educated the soul to a heavenly taste- only there is that love word of my text heard and understood, "I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys." "To you that believe he is precious;" to you he is the corner stone; to you he is the rock of your salvation, your all in all; but to others he is "a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to those who stumble at the word, being disobedient." Let it be our prayer before we advance a single foot further, that our Redeemer would now reveal himself to his own chosen people, and favor each one of us with at least a glimpse of his all-conquering charms. May the King himself draw near unto his guests this morning, and as of old, when it was winter he walked in the temple in Solomon's porch, so may he walk in the midst of this waiting assembly.

I. First, this morning, I shall speak with you a little, as I may be helped by the Holy Spirit, upon THE MOTIVES OF OUR LORD IN THUS COMMENDING HIMSELF. I take it that he has designs of love in this speech. He would have all his people rich in high and happy thoughts concerning his blessed person. Jesus is not content that his brethren should think lowly of him; it is his pleasure that his espoused ones should be delighted with his beauty, and that he should be the King and Lord of their spirits: he would have us possess an adoring admiration for him, joined with most cheerful and happy thoughts towards him. We are not to count him as a bare necessary, like to bread and water, but we are to regard him as a luxurious delicacy, as rare and ravishing delight, comparable to the rose and the lily. Our Lord, you observe, expresses himself here poetically. "I am the rose of Sharon." Dr. Watts, when he had written his delightful hymns, was the subject of Dr. Johnson's criticism, and that excellent lexicographer, who wrote with great authority upon all literary matters, entirely missed his mark when he said that the themes of religion were so few and so prosaic that they were not adapted for the poet, they were not such as could allow for the flight of wing which poetry required. Alas, Dr. Johnson! how little could you have entered into the spirit of these things, for if there be any place where poetry may indulge itself to the uttermost, it is in the realm of the infinite. Jordan's streams are as pure as Helicon, and Siloam's brook as inspiring as the Castalian fount. Heathen Parnassus has not half the elevation of the Christian's Tabor, let critics judge as they may. This book of Solomon's Song is poetry of the very highest kind to the spiritual mind, and throughout Scripture the sublime and beautiful are as much at home as the eagles in their crevices of rock. Surely our Lord adopts that form of speech in this song in order to show us that the highest degree of poetical faculty be consecrated to him, and that lofty thoughts and soaring conceptions concerning himself are no intruders, but are bound to pay homage at his cross. Jesus would have us enjoy the highest thoughts of him that the most sublime poetry can possibly convey to us; and his motives I shall labor to lay before you. Doubtless, he commends himself because high thoughts of Christ will enable us to act consistently with our relations towards him. The saved soul is espoused to Christ. Now, in the marriage estate, it is a great assistance to happiness if the wife has high ideas of her husband. In the marriage union between the soul and Christ, this is exceedingly necessary. Listen to the words of the Psalm, "He is your Lord; worship him." Jesus is our husband, and is no more to be named Baal, that is, your master, but to be called Ishi, your man, your husband; yet at the same time he is our Lord, "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Savior of the body." When the wife despises her husband, and looks down upon him, then the order of nature is broken, and the household is out of joint; and if our soul should ever come to despise Christ, then it can no longer stand in its true relation to him; but the more loftily we see Christ enthroned, and the more lowly we are when bowing before the foot of the throne, the more truly shall we be prepared to act our part in the economy of grace towards our Lord Jesus. Brethren, your Lord Christ desires you to think well of him, that you may submit cheerfully to his authority, and so be a better spouse to this best of husbands. Moreover, our Master knows that high thoughts of him increase our love. Men will not readily love that which they do not highly esteem. Love and esteem go together. There is a love of pity, but that would be far out of place in reference to our exalted Head. If we are to love him at all, it must be with the love of admiration; and the higher that admiration shall rise, the more vehemently will our love flame forth. My brethren and sisters in Christ, I beseech you think much of your Master's excellencies. Study him in his primeval glory, before he took upon himself your nature! Think of the mighty love which drew him from his starry throne to die upon the cross of shame! Consider well the omnipotent affection which made him stretch his hands to the nails and yield his heart to the spear! Admire him as you see him conquering in his weakness over all the powers of hell, and by his suffering, overthrowing all the hosts of your sins, so that they cannot rise against you any more forever! See him now risen, no more to die; crowned, no more to be dishonored; glorified, no more to suffer! Bow before him, hail him in the halls of your inner nature as the Wonderful, the Counselor, the mighty God within your spirits, for only thus will your love to him be what it should. A high esteem of Christ, moreover, as he well knows, is very necessary to our comfort. Beloved, when you esteem Christ very highly, the things of this world become of small account with you, and their loss is not so heavily felt. If you feel your losses and crosses to be such ponderous weights that the wings of Christ's love cannot lift you up from the dust, surely you have made too much of the world and too little of him. I see a pair of balances. I see in this one the death of a child, or the loss of a beloved relative; but I perceive in the other scale the great love of Christ; now we shall see which will weigh the most with the man: if Jesus throws the light affliction up aloft, it is well, but if the trouble outweighs Jesus, then it is ill with us indeed. If you are so depressed by your trials that you can by no means rejoice, even though you know that your name is written in heaven, then you cannot love Jesus as you should. Get but delightful thoughts of him, and. you will feel like a man who has lost a pebble but has preserved his diamond; like the man who has seen a few cast clouts and rotten rags consumed in the flames, but has saved his children from the conflagration. You will rejoice in your deepest distress because Christ is yours if you have a high sense of the preciousness of your Master. Talk not of plasters that will draw out all pain from a wound! Speak not of medicines which will eradicate disease! The sweet love of Christ once applied to the deepest wound which the soul can ever know, would heal it at once. A drop of the precious medicine of Jesus' love tasted in the soul, would chase away all heart pains forever. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, be within us, and we make no choice of situations: put us in Nebuchadnezzar's furnace, if you will walk the glowing coals as our companion, we will fear no evil. Further, our Lord would have us entertain great thoughts of himself; because this will quicken all the powers of our soul. I spoke to you just now of love receiving force from an esteem of Jesus, I might say the like of faith, or patience, or humility. Wherever Christ is highly esteemed, all the faculties of the spiritual man exercise themselves with energy. I will judge of your piety by this barometer: does Christ stand high or low with you? If you have thought little of Christ, if you have been content to live without his presence, if you have cared little for his honor, if you have been neglectful of his laws, then I know that your soul is sick- God grant that it may not be sick unto death! But if the first thought of your spirit has been, how can I honor Jesus? if the daily desire of your soul has been, O that I knew where I might find him! I tell you that you may have a thousand infirmities, and may even scarcely know whether you are a child of God at all, and yet I am persuaded, beyond a doubt, that you are safe, since Jesus is great in your esteem. I care not for 'your rags', what do you think of 'his royal apparel'? I care not for your wounds, though they bleed in torrents, what do you think of his wounds? are they like glittering rubies in your esteem? I think nothing the less of you, though you lie like Lazarus on the ash-heap, and the dogs lick you; I judge you not by your poverty: what do you think of the King in his beauty? Has he a glorious high throne in your heart? Would you set him higher if you could? Would you be willing to die if you could but add another trumpet to the strain which proclaims his praise? Ah! then, it is well with you. Whatever you may think of yourself, if Christ be great to you, you shall be with him before long. High thoughts of Jesus will set us upon high attempts for his honor. What will men not do when they are possessed with the passion of love! When once some master thought gets hold of the mind, others who have never felt the power of it, think the man to be insane; they laugh at him and ridicule him. When the grand thought of 'love to God' has gained full possession of the soul, men have been able to actually accomplish what other men have not even thought of doing. Love has laughed at impossibilities, and proved that she is not to be quenched by many waters, nor drowned by floods. Impassable woods have nevertheless been made a footway for the Christian missionary; through the dense jungle, steaming with malaria, men have passed, bearing the message of truth; into the midst of hostile and savage tribes, weak and trembling women even have forced their way to tell of Jesus; no sea has been so stormy, no mountains have been so elevated that they could shut out the earnest spirit; no long nights of winter in Labrador or in Iceland have been able to freeze up the love of Christ in the Moravian's heart: it has not been possible for the zeal of the heir of heaven to be overcome, though all the elements have combined with the cruelty of wicked men, and with the malice of hell itself. Christ's people have been more than conquerors through him that has loved them, when his love has been shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit, and they have had elevated thoughts of their Lord. I wish it were in my power to put this matter more forcibly, but I am persuaded, brethren, that our Lord in commending himself to us, this morning, in the words of our text, does so with this as his motive, that by the power of his Spirit we may be led to esteem him very highly in the inmost secret of our heart. And shall he speak to us in vain? Shall he stand in this pulpit, this morning, as he does in spirit, and shall he say, "I am the rose of Sharon"? and shall we reply, "But we do not see your beauty."? Shall he add a double commendation, "I am the lily of the valley"? and shall our cold hearts reply, "But we do not admire your spotless purity."? I trust we are not so utterly abandoned to spiritual blindness and ingratitude. Far rather, although we confess before him that we do not admire him as we should, we will add humbly, and with the tear of repentance in our eye-

YET we love you and adore- O for grace to love you more."

II. Whatever may be the commendable motive for any statement, yet it must not be made if it do not be accurate, and therefore, in the second place, I come to observe OUR LORD'S JUSTIFICATION FOR THIS COMMENDATION, which is abundantly satisfactory to all who know him. What our Lord says of himself is strictly true. It falls short of the mark, it is no exaggeration. Observe each one of the words. He begins, "I am." Those two little words I would not insist upon, but it is no straining of language to say that even here we have a great depth. What creature can, with exact truthfulness, say, "I am"? As for man, whose breath is in his nostrils, he may rather say "I am not," than "I am." We are so short a time here, and so quickly gone, that the ephemera, which is born and dies under the light of one day's sun, is our brother. Poor short-lived creatures, we change with every moon, and are as variable as the wave, frail as the dust, feeble as a worm, and fickle as the wind. Jesus says, "I am," and blessed be his name, he can fairly claim the attributes of self-existence and immutability. He said, "I am," in the days of his flesh, he says, "I am," at this hour: whatever he was he is, whatever he has been to any of his saints at any time, he is to us this day. Come, my soul, rejoice in your unchangeable Christ, and if you get no further than the first two words of the text, yet you have a meal to stop your hunger, like Elijah's cakes, in the strength of which he went for forty days. "I am" has revealed himself unto you in a more glorious manner than he did unto Moses at the burning bush- the great "I AM" in human flesh has become your Savior and your Lord. "I am the ROSE." We understand from this, that Christ is lovely. He selects one of the most charming of flowers to set forth himself. All the beauties of all the creatures are to be found in Christ in greater perfection than in the creatures themselves.

"White and ruddy is my Beloved, All his heavenly beauties shine; Nature can't produce an object, Nor so glorious, so divine; He has wholly won my soul to realms above."

"Whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report," all are to be found stored up in our Well-beloved. Whatever there may be of beauty in the material world, Jesus Christ possesses all that in the spiritual world, only in a tenfold multiplication. He is infinitely more beautiful in the garden of the soul and in the paradise of God than the rose can be in the gardens of earth, though it be the universally acknowledged queen of flowers. But the spouse adds, "I am the rose OF SHARON." This was the best and rarest of roses. Jesus is not "the rose" alone, but "the rose of Sharon," just as he calls his righteousness "gold," and then adds, "the gold of Ophir" -the best of the best. Jesus, then, is not only positively lovely, but superlatively the loveliest-

"None among the sons of men, None among the heavenly train, Can with Sharon's rose compare. None so sweet and none so fair."

The Son of David takes the first place as the fairest among ten thousand. He is the sun, and all others are the stars; in his presence all the feebler lights are hidden, for they are nothing, and he is all in all. Blush for your deformities, you beauties of earth, when his perfection's eclipse you! Away, you pageants, and you pompous triumphs of men- the King in his beauty transcends you all! Black are the heavens and dark is the day in comparison with him. Oh, to see him face to face! This would be a vision for which life would be a glad exchange. For a vision of his face we could desire to be blind forever to all joys beside. Our Lord adds, "I am the LILY," thus giving himself a double commendation. Indeed, Jesus Christ deserves not to be praised doubly, but sevenfold, ay, and unto seven times seven. Heap up all the metaphors that express loveliness, bring together all the adjectives which describe delight, and all human speech and all earth-born things shall fail to tell of his beauty. The rose with all its redness is not complete until the lily adds its purity, and the two together are dim reflections of our glorious Lord. I learn from the text that in Christ Jesus you have a combination of contrasted excellencies. If he be red with the flush of courageous zeal, or red with triumph as he returns from Edom, he is the rose; but he is a warrior without sinful anger or cruel vengeance, he is as pure and spotless as the timid virgin who toys with the dove- he is therefore our snow-white lily. I see him red as the rose in his sacrifice, as "from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down;" but I see him white as the lily as he ascends on high in his perfect righteousness, clothed in his white robe of victory, to receive gifts for men. Our Beloved is a mingling of all perfection's to make up one perfection, and of all manner of sweetness to compose one complete sweetness. Earth's choicest charms combined, feebly picture his abounding preciousness. He is the "lily OF THE VALLEYS." Does he intend by that to hint to us that he is a lily in his lowliest estate, a lily of the valley? The carpenter's son, living in poverty, wearing the common garb of the poor, is he the lily of the valleys? Yes; he is a lily to you and to me, poor dwellers in the lowlands. Up yonder he is a lily on the hill-tops, where all celestial eyes admire him; down here, in these valleys of fears and cares, he is a lily still as fair as in heaven. Our eyes can see his beauty- can see his beauty now, a lily to us this very day. Though we have not seen the King in his beauty, yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like Jesus Christ in our eyes, as we see him by faith in a glass darkly. The words, having been opened up one by one, teach us that Christ is lovely to all our spiritual senses. The rose is delightful to the eye; but it is also refreshing to the nostril, and the lily the same. So is Jesus. All the senses of the soul are ravished and satisfied with him, whether it be the taste or feeling, the hearing, the sight, or the spiritual smell- all charms are in Jesus. Often when we have not seen the Anointed, we have perceived his presence. Traveling on the Lake Lugano, one morning, we heard the swell of the song of the nightingale, and the oars were stilled on the blue lake as we listened to the silver sounds. We could not see a single bird, nor do I know that we wished to see- we were so content with the sweetness of the music: even so it is with our Lord; we may enter a house where he is loved, and we may hear nothing concerning Christ, and yet we may perceive clearly enough that he is there, a holy influence streaming through their actions pervades the household; so that if Jesus be unseen, it is clear that he is not unknown. Go anywhere where Jesus is, and though you do not actually hear his name, yet the sweet influence which flows from his love will be plainly enough discernible. Our Lord is so lovely, that even the recollection of his love is sweet. Take the rose of Sharon, and pull it leaf from leaf, and lay by the leaves in the jar of memory, and you shall find each leaf most fragrant long afterwards, filling the house with perfume; and this very day we remember times of refreshing enjoyed at the Lord's table still delightful as we reflect upon them. Jesus is lovely in the bud as well as when in full bloom. You admire the rose quite as much when it is but a bud as when it bursts forth into perfect development: and methinks, Christ to you, my beloved, in the first blush of your piety, was not one whit less sweet than he is now. Jesus in full bloom- in our riper experience, has lost none of his excellence. When we shall see him fully bloomed in the garden of paradise, shall we not count it to be our highest heaven to gaze upon him forever? Christ is so lovely that he needs no beautifying. When I hear men trying to speak of him with polished sentences, which have been revised, and re-revised upon their manuscripts, I would ask them why they need to paint the rose of Sharon, and what they can be at in seeking to enamel the lily of the valleys? Hold up Christ crucified, and he himself is beautiful enough without our paint and tinsel. Let the roughest tongue speak sincerely of him in the most broken but honest accents, and Jesus himself is such a radiant jewel that the setting will be of small consequence. He is so glorious that he is "Most adorned when unadorned the most." May we ever feel thus concerning him, and if we are tempted to display our powers of oratory when we have to speak of him, let us say, "Down, busy pride, and let Christ rule, and let Christ be seen." He needs no help from you. He is so lovely, again, that he satisfies the highest taste of the most educated spirit to the very full. The greatest amateur in perfumes is quite satisfied with the rose, and I should think that no man of taste will ever be able to criticize the lily, and cavil at its form. Now, when the soul has arrived at her highest pitch of true taste, she shall still be content with Christ, no, she shall be the better able to appreciate him. In the world's history, we are supposed to have arrived at an age of taste, when color and form are much regarded. I must confess I think it a gaudy, tasteless age, and the fashion of the day is staring, vulgar, childish, and depraved. Bright and glittering colors, and antique, grotesque forms, are much run after; and men must need introduce their chosen fineries and fopperies into their worship, supposing that it is lovely to worship God with silks, and laces, and ribbons, and gilt, and tinsel, and I know not what of trumpery besides. Just as the harlot of Babylon arrayed herself in pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, even so do her imitators adorn themselves. As for us, my brethren, the beauty of Christ is such that if we go into a barn to worship, we are quite as satisfied as though it were a cathedral, with grained arches and glowing windows. Such is the beauty of Christ in our eyes, that we are quite content to hear of him without the pealing organ and the swell of Gregorian chants; and we are even satisfied though there should be no display of taste, nothing sensuous and scenic, nothing to please the eye or charm the ear. Jesus alone affords our mind all that delightful architecture, poetry, and music could profess to give, and when our soul gets near to him, she looks upon all 'outward adornments' as mere child's toys, fit to amuse the rattle-brains of this poor idiot world, but vain gewgaws to men in Christ Jesus, who by reason of use have had their senses exercised, and learned to delight in nobler things than those in which the swine of this earth delight themselves. God give you to know that if you want beauty, Jesus is Sharon's rose; if you want spotless charms to delight your true taste, he is the lily of the valleys. Dwelling for another minute on this subject, let me remark that our Lord Jesus Christ deserves all that he has said of himself. First, in his divine glory. The glory of Christ as God, who shall aptly write upon it? The first born sons of light desire to gaze into this vision, but feel that their eyes are unable to endure the excess of light. He is God over all, blessed forever. Concerning Christ, I may say that the heavens are not pure in his sight, and he charged his angels with folly. Nothing is great, nothing is excellent but God, and Christ is God. O roses and lilies, where are you now? Our Lord deserves these praises, again, in his perfection of manhood. He is like ourselves, but in him was no sin. "The prince of this world comes, but has nothing in me." Throughout the whole of his biography, there is not a faulty step. Let us write as carefully as we will after the copy, we still blot and blur the pages, but in him there is no mistake. His life is so wonderfully perfect that even those who have denied his deity have been astounded at it, and they have bowed down before the majesty of his holiness. You roses of ardent love, and you lilies of purest holiness, where are you now when we compare you with this perfect man? He deserves this commendation, too, in his mediatorial qualifications. Since his blood has washed us from all our sins, we talk no more of the red roses, for what can they do to purify the soul? Since his righteousness has made us accepted in the Beloved, we will speak no more of spotless lilies, for what are these? He deserves all this praise, too, in his reigning glory. He has a glory which his Father has given him as a reward, in the power of which he sits down at the right hand of God forever and ever, and shall soon come to judge the world in righteousness, and the people with equity. Beloved, when I think of the pompous appearance when he shall descend a second time in splendor upon the earth, I say again, you roses, your radiant beauties are utterly eclipsed; and you lilies, your snow-white purity is forgotten, I can scarce discern you; O fair flowers of earth, you are lost in the blaze of the great white throne, and in the flames of fire that shall go before the Judge of all to prepare his way. View the Lord Jesus in any way you please, all that he himself can say concerning himself he richly deserves, and therefore glory be unto his name forever and ever, and let the whole earth say, Amen.

III. I shall now conduct you to a third consideration, namely, THE INFLUENCE OF THIS COMMENDATION UPON US. Christ desires our loftiest thoughts of himself, and his desires are for our good. O my beloved, I wish time would stay its wing a moment or two, that I might urge upon you, with all your hearts, to second the endeavors of Christ, to labor after holy elevated thoughts concerning himself, since he desires them for you. And if you ask me how you are to attain unto them, let me aid you a minute. Think of the ruin of this world until Christ came into it! Methinks I see in vision a howling wilderness, a great and terrible desert, like unto the Sahara. I perceive nothing in it to relieve the eye, all around I am wearied with a vision of hot and arid sand, strewn with ten thousand bleaching skeletons of wretched men who have expired in anguish, having lost their way in the pitiless waste. O God, what a sight! How horrible! a sea of sand without a bound, and without an oasis, a cheerless graveyard for a race forlorn! But what is that I see? Suddenly, springing up from the scorching sand I see a root, a branch, a plant of renown; and as it grows it buds, the bud expands- it is a rose, and at its side a lily bows its modest head; and miracle of miracles! as the fragrance of those flowers is diffused in the desert air, I perceive that wilderness is transformed into a fruitful field, and all around it blossoms exceedingly, the glory of Lebanon is given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon. Call it not Sahara, call it Paradise. Speak not of it any longer as the valley of death, for where I saw the skeletons bleaching in the sun, I see a resurrection, and up spring the dead, a mighty army, full of life immortal! You can understand the vision. Christ is the rose, which has changed the scene. If you would have great thoughts of Christ, think of your own ruin. Yonder I behold you cast out an infant, unclothed, unwashed, defiled with your own blood, too foul to be looked upon except by beasts of prey. And what is this that has been cast into your bosom, and which lying there has suddenly made you fair and lovely? A rose has been thrown into your bosom by a divine hand, and for its sake you have been pitied and cared for by divine providence, you are washed and cleaned from your defilement, you are adopted into heaven's family, the fair seal of love is upon your forehead, and the ring of faithfulness is on your hand- a prince unto God- though just before you were an orphan, cast away. O prize the rose, the putting of which into your bosom has made you what you are! Consider your daily need of this rose. You live in the pestilential air of this earth- take Christ away, you die. Christ is the daily food of your spirit. You know, believer, that you are utterly powerless without your Lord. O prize him then in proportion to the necessities you have for him! As you cannot even pray or think an acceptable thought apart from his presence, I beseech you press him to your bosom as the beloved of your soul. Apart from him, you are like a branch cut off and withered, thrown outside the garden gate to be burned as are the noxious weeds; but when you are near him, you bring forth fruit unto the glory of God. Praise Christ, I say then, after the rate of the necessity that you have for him. Think, beloved, of the estimation that Christ is had in, beyond the skies, in the land where things are measured by the right standard, where men are no longer deceived by the delusions of earth. Think how God esteems the only begotten, his unspeakable gift to us. Consider what the angels think of him, as they count it their highest honor to veil their faces at his feet. Consider what the blood-washed think of him, as day without night they sing his well-deserved praises with gladdest voices. Remember how you yourself have sometimes esteemed him. There have been happy hours when you would freely have given your eyes, and felt you cared no longer for the light of earth's brightest days, for your soul's eyes would serve you well enough if you could forever be favored with the same clear sight of Christ. Have there not been moments when the chariots of Amminadab seemed but poor dragging things, compared with the wheels of your soul when Jesus ravished your heart with his celestial embrace? Estimate him today as you did then, for he is the same, though you are not. Think of him today as you will think of him in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment, when none but Jesus can avail to keep your soul alive. The great King has made a banquet, and he has proclaimed to all the world that none shall enter but those who bring with them the fairest flower that blooms. The spirits of men advance to the gate by thousands, and they bring each one the flower which he has thought the best; but in crowds they are driven from his presence, and enter not into the banquet. Some bear in their hand the deadly nightshade of superstition, or carry the flaunting poppies of Rome, but these are not dear to the King, and their bearers are shut out of the pearly gates. My soul, have you gathered the rose of Sharon? Do you wear the lily of the valley in your bosom constantly? If so, when you come up to the gates of heaven you will know its value, for you have only to show this, and the porter of the gate will open, not for a moment will he deny the admission, for to that rose the porter opens always. You shall find your way with this rose in your hand up to the throne of God himself, for heaven itself possesses nothing which excels the rose of Sharon, and of all the flowers that bloom in paradise there is none that can rival the lily of the valleys. Get Calvary's blood-red rose into your hand by faith, wear it; by communion preserve it; by daily watchfulness make it your all in all, and you shall be blessed beyond all bliss, happy beyond a dream. So be it yours forever.

IV. Lastly, I shall close by asking you to make CONFESSIONS SUGGESTED BY MY TEXT. I will not make them for you, and therefore need not detain you from your homes. I will utter my own lamentation and leave you every one apart to do the like. I stand before this text of mine to blush, this morning, and to weep while I acknowledge my ungrateful behavior. "My Lord, I am truly ashamed to think that I have not gazed more upon you. I know, and in my heart believe, that you are the sum total of all beauty, yet must I sorrowfully lament that my eyes have been gadding abroad to look after other beauties; my thoughts have been deluded with 'imaginary' excellencies in the creatures, and I have meditated but little upon yourself. Alas! my Lord, I confess still further that I have not possessed and enjoyed you as I ought. When I might have been with you all the day and all the night, I have been roving her and there, and forgetting my resting place. I have not been careful to welcome my Beloved and to retain his company. I have stirred him up by my sins, and have driven him away by my lukewarmness. I have given him cold lodgings, and slender hospitality within the chambers of my heart. I have not held him fast, neither have I pressed him to abide with me as I ought to have done. All this I must confess, and mourn that I am not more ashamed while confessing it. Moreover, my good Lord, although I know your great sacrifice for me should well have chained my heart forever to your altar (and O that you had done so!) I must acknowledge that I have not been a living sacrifice as I should have been. I have not been so fascinated by the luster of your beauty as I should have been. O that all my heart's rooms had been occupied by you, and by you alone! I wish my soul were as the coals in the furnace, all on flame, and not a single particle of me left unconsumed by the delightful flames of your love. I must also confess, my Lord, that I have not spoken of you as I should have done. Albeit I have had many opportunities, yet I have not praised you at the rate which you deserve. I have given you at best but a poor, stammering, chilly tongue, when I should have spoken with the fiery zeal of a seraph. These are my confessions. Brethren and sisters, what are yours? If you have none to make, if you can justly claim to have done all that you should have done to your Beloved, I envy you; but methinks there is not a man here who will dare to say this. I am sure you have all had falls, and slips, and shortcomings, with regard to him. Well, then, come humbly to Jesus at once. He will forgive you readily, for he does not soon take offense at his spouse. He may sometimes speak sharp words to her, because he loves her, but his heart is always true, and faithful, and tender. He will forgive the past, he will receive you at this moment; ay, this moment he will display himself to you. If you will but open the door to him, he will enter into immediate fellowship with you, for he says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me." O Christ, our Lord, our heart is open, come in, and go out no more forever. "Whoever believes on the Son has everlasting life." Sinner, believe and live.

Verse 2

The Lily among Thorns

February 29, 1880 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"As the lily among thorns, so is my darling among the daughters." -Song of Song of Solomon 2:2 .

We shall not enter into any profitless discussion this morning. We take it for granted that the Song of Solomon is a sacred marriage song between Christ and his church, and that it is the Lord Jesus who is here speaking of his church, and indeed of each individual member, saying, "As the lily among thorns, so is my darling among the daughters." I will not even enter into any disquisition as to what particular flower is here intended by the word translated "lily," for it would be very difficult to select a plant from the Holy Land about which travelers and botanists would agree. The lily, which we should most naturally fix upon, is, as I have gathered from books of travel, not at present found in that country, though we may not therefore be sure that it was never there, or may not yet be discovered. Several other fair and beautiful forms, according to the fancies of various travelers, have been preferred to occupy the place of the plant intended by the original Hebrew, but none of them quite come up to the ideal suggested to an English reader by our translation. I will for once take the liberty to clothe the Scripture in a western dress, if need be, and venture to do what Solomon would surely have done if his Song of songs had been written in England. I shall assume that he means one of our own lilies: either the lily of the valley, or one of those more stately beauties, matchless for whiteness, which so gloriously adorn our gardens. Either will do, and serve our turn this morning. "As the lily among the thorns, so is my darling among the daughters." It is of small moment to be precise in botany so long as we get the spirit of the text. We seek practical usefulness and personal consolation, and proceed at once in the pursuit, in the hope that it may be with us as with the great Bridegroom himself, of whom the golden canticle says, "He feeds among the lilies." Many are taking root among us now, newly transplanted from the world, and it is well that they should be rooted in a knowledge of their calling by grace, and what it includes. They ought to know at the very commencement what a Christian is when he is truly a Christian, what he is expected to be, what the Lord means him to be, and what the Lord Jesus regards him as really being; so that they may make no mistakes, but may count the cost, and know what it is that they have ventured upon. Thinking over this subject carefully, and anxiously desiring to warn our new converts without alarming them, I could not think of any text from which I should be able, in the exposition of it, better to set forth the 'position, condition, and character of a genuine Christian'. Jesus himself knows best what his own bride is like, let us hear him as he speaks in this matchless song. He knows best what his followers should be, and well may we be content to take the words out of his own mouth when in sweetest poetry he tells us, "As the lily among thorns, so is my darling among the daughters." Join me then, my brethren, at this time in considering our Lord's lilies, how they grow. Concerning the church of God, there are two points upon which I will enlarge: first, her relation to her Lord; and secondly, her relation to the world.

I. First, I think my text very beautifully sets forth THE RELATION OF THE CHURCH, AND OF EVERY INDIVIDUAL TO CHRIST.

He styles her, "my darling." An exquisitely sweet name; as if his love had all gone forth from him, and had become embodied in her. The first point then of her relation to Christ is that she has his DARLING. Think of it, and let the blessed truth dwell long and sweetly in your meditations. The Lord of life and glory, the Prince of the kings of the earth, has such a loving heart that he must have an object upon which to spend his affection; and his people, chosen from among men, whom he calls his church, these are they who are his "love," the object of his supreme delight. "Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it." He looked on his people and he exclaimed, "as the Father has loved me even so have I loved you." Every believer, separated from mankind, and called unto the fellowship of Christ, is also the peculiar object of his love. Not in name only, but in deed and in truth, does Jesus love each one of us who have believed on him. You may each one of you say with the apostle, "He loved me"; you may read it in any tense you please- He loved me; he loves me; he will love me, for he gave himself for me. This shall be your song in heaven, "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, to him be glory." Let your hearts saturate themselves with this honied thought; heaven lies hid within it, it is the quintessence of bliss- Jesus loves me. It is not in the power of words to set forth the charming nature of this fact; it is a very simple proposition, but the heights and depths, the lengths and breadths of it surpass our knowledge. That such a poor, insignificant, unworthy being as I am should be the object of the eternal affection of the Son of God is an amazing wonder; yet wonderful as it is, it is a fact! To each one of his people he says this morning by the Holy Spirit, "I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn you." Each one of us may rejoice in the title under which our Lord addresses us- "my darling." This love is DISTINGUISHING love, for in its light one special object shines as a lily, and the rest, "the daughters," are as thorns. Love has fixed on its chosen object, and compared with the favored one all others are as nothing. There is a love of Jesus which goes forth to all mankind, for "the Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works"; but there is a special and peculiar love which he bears to his own. As a man loves his neighbors but still he has a special affection for his own wife, so is the church Christ's bride, beloved above all the rest of mankind, and every individual believer is the favored one of heaven. The saint is united to Christ by a mystical union, a spiritual marriage bond, and above all others, Christ loves the souls espoused to him. He said once, "I pray for them. I pray not for the world, but for them which you have given me;" thus indicating that there is a specialty about his intercession. We rejoice in the largeness and the width of Jesus' love, but we do not therefore doubt its specialty. The sun shines on all things, but when it is focussed upon one point, ah, then there is a heat about it of which you little dreamed! The love of Jesus is focussed on those whom the Father has given him. Upon you, my brother or sister, if indeed you are a believer in Jesus Christ, the Lord's heart is set, and he speaks of you in the words of the text as "my love," loved above all the daughters, precious in his sight and honorable, so that he will give men for you and people for your life. Observe that this is a love which he OPENLY AVOWS. The bridegroom speaks and says before all men, "As a lily among thorns, so is my darling among the daughters." He puts it upon record in that book which is more widely scattered than any other, for he is not ashamed to have it published on the housetops. The love of Christ was at first hidden in his heart, but it soon revealed itself, for even of old his delights were with the sons of men, and he bent his steps downward to this world in divers forms before ever Bethlehem's song was sung. And now, since the incarnate God has loved, and lived, and died, he has unveiled his love in the most open form, and astonished heaven and earth thereby. On Calvary he set up an open proclamation, written in his own heart's blood, that he loved his own people even unto the end. He bids his ministers proclaim it to the world's end, that many waters could not quench his love, neither could the floods drown it; and that neither life, nor death, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. He would have it known, for he is not ashamed to call his people "the bride, the Lamb's wife." He declares it that his adversaries may know it, that he has a people in whom his heart delights, and these he will have and hold as his own, when heaven and earth shall pass away. This love, wherever it has been revealed to its object, is RECIPROCATED. If the Lord has really spoken home to your soul and said, "I have loved you," your soul has gladly answered, "This is my Beloved and this is my Friend; yes, he is altogether lovely." For what says the spouse in another place? "My Beloved is mine and I am his." I am his beloved, but he is my beloved too. By this, dear hearer, shall you know whether this text belongs to you or not. What do you say when Jesus asks of you, "Do you love you me?" Is your heart warmed at the very mention of his name? If you can truly say with Peter, "Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you," then rest assured you love him, because he first loved you. Do not doubt the fact, but be well assured of it, that love in your heart towards Jesus is the certain and infallible pledge of his infinite, eternal, and immutable love to you. If his name is on your heart, then be sure of this, that your name is on his breast. and written on the palms of his hands. You are espoused unto him, and the bands of the mystical wedlock shall never be snapped. This is the first point of the relation of the church to her Lord: she is the object of his love. Next, SHE BEARS HIS LIKENESS. Notice the first verse of the chapter, wherein the bridegroom speaks- "I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys." He is THE lily, but his beloved is like him; for he applies his own chosen emblem to her- "As the lily among thorns, so is my darling among the daughters." Notice that he is the lily, she is as the lily, that is to say, he has the beauty and she reflects it; she is lovely in his loveliness which he puts upon her. If any soul has any such beauty as is described here, Christ has dowered that beloved soul with all its wealth of charms, for in ourselves we are deformed and defiled. What is the confession of this very spouse in the previous chapter? She says "I am black," -that is the opposite of a lily; if she adds, "but lovely," it is because her Lord has made her lovely. There is no grace but what grace has given, and if we are graceful it is because Christ has made us full of grace. There is no beauty in any one of us but what our Lord has wrought in us. Note, too, that he who gave the beauty is the first to see it. While they are unknown to the world Jesus knows his own. Long before anybody else sees any virtue or any praise in us, Jesus observes it, and is pleased therewith. He is quick to say, "Behold, he prays," or "Behold, he repents." He is the first to say, "I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself." Love's eyes are quick, and her ears are open. Love covers a multitude of faults, but it discovers a multitude of beauties. Can it be so, O my soul, can it be so that Christ has made you lovely in his loveliness? Has he shed a beauty upon you, and does he himself look complacently upon it? He whose taste is exquisite, and whose voice is the truth, who never calls that beautiful which is not beautiful, can he see a beauty in your sighs and tears, in your desires after holiness, in your poor attempts to aid his cause, in your prayers and in your songs, and in your heart's love towards him. Can he see a beauty in these? Yes, assuredly he can, or he would not speak as he does in this text. Let his condescending discernment have all honor for this generous appreciation of us. Let us bless and love him because he deigns to think so highly of us who owe every thing to him. "You are," says he, "my darling, as the lily." It is evident that the Lord Jesus takes delight in this beauty which he has put upon his people. He values it at so great a rate that he counts all rival beauties to be but as thorns. He looks upon the court of an earthly monarch, and sees my lords and ladies, but makes small account of them compared with his poor saints. If in that court he spies out one that loves him, one who wears a coronet and prays, he marks that one, and counts him or her" as the lily among thorns." There is a wealthy household, honored and famous among the old county families, but in it there is no lover of the Savior except one, and she perhaps is a little maid whose service is among the pots, yet shall she be as the wings of a dove covered with silver- "As the lily among thorns" shall she be. All the kingdoms of the earth are but thorn bushes to the Lord Jesus compared with his church. Be they Roman, German, French, or English, all empires, with all their splendors, are mere gorse and furze upon the common, bramble-bushes and thorn coverts, the haunts of wild and noxious creatures -in the view of the King of kings; but his church, and those that make up the body of the faithful, are as lilies in his discerning eyes. He delights in them, he finds a sweet contentment in gazing on them. So you see the Lord has given to his people his likeness, and that likeness he looks upon and loves. Bringing out still further the relationship between Christ and his church, I want you to notice that HER POSITION has drawn out his love. "As the lily," says he, "AMONG THE THORNS, so is my darling." He spied her out among the thorns. She was at the first no better than a thorn herself; his grace alone made her to differ from the briars about her; but as soon as ever he had put his life and his grace into her, though she dwelt among the ungodly, she became as the lily, and he spied her out. The thorn bush could not hide his beloved. Christ's eye towards his people is so quick because it is cleared by love. There may at this time be in a Popish convent one truly seeking Jesus in spirit and in truth. He spies out the believer among the 'trusters in themselves', and calls her his love among thorns. There may be at this moment in the most godless haunt in London a poor, trembling heart that loves Jesus in secret: the Lord knows that heart, and it is to him as a lily among thorns. You, perhaps, are the only godly working man in the shop in which you earn your daily bread, and the whole band hold you in derision. You may hardly know yourself whether you are really a Christian, for you are sometimes staggered about your own condition; and yet the enemies of Christ have made up their minds as to whose you are, and treat you as one of the disciples of the Nazarene. Be of good courage, your Lord discerns you and knows you better than you know yourself. Such is the quickness of his eye that your difficult and perilous position only quickens his discernment, and he regards you with the more attention. The thorns cannot hide you, thickly as they cluster around you: in your loneliness you are not alone, for the Crucified is with you. "As the lily among thorns" wears also another meaning. Dr. Thompson writes of a certain lily, "It grows among thorns, and I have sadly lacerated my hands in extricating it from them. Nothing can be in higher contrast than the luxuriant, velvety softness of this lily, and the withered, tangled hedge of thorns about it." Ah, beloved, you know who it was that in gathering your soul and mine, lacerated not his hand only, but his feet, and his head, and his side, and his heart, yes, and his inmost soul. He spied us out, and said, "Yonder lily is mine, and I will have it"; but the thorns were a terrible barrier; our sins had gathered round about us, and the wrath of God most sharply stopped the way. Jesus pressed through all, that we might be his; and now when he takes us to himself he does not forget the thorns which girded his brow, and tore his flesh, for our sakes. This then is a part of our relationship to Christ, that we cost him very dear. He saw us where we were, and he came to our deliverance; and now, even as Pharaoh's daughter called the young child's name "Moses," "because," said she, "I drew him out of the water," so does Jesus call his chosen "the lily among thorns," because such she was when he came to her rescue. Never will he forget Calvary and its thorns, nor should his saints allow the memory thereof to fade. Yet once more I think many a child of God may regard himself as still being a lily among thorns, because of his AFFLICTIONS. Certainly the church is so, and she is thereby kept for Christ's own. If thorns made it hard for him to reach us for our salvation, there is another kind of thorn which makes it hard for any enemy to come at us for our hurt. Our trials and tribulations, which we would fain escape from, often act as a spiritual protection: they hedge us about and ward off many a devouring foe. Sharp as they are, they serve as a fence and a defense. Many a time, dear child of God, you would have been an 'exposed' lily, to be plucked by any ruthless hand, if it had not been that God had placed you in such circumstances that you were shut up unto himself. Sick saints and poor saints and persecuted saints are fair lilies enclosed by their pains, and needs and bonds, that they may be for Christ alone. I look on John Bunyan in prison writing his "Pilgrim's Progress" and I cannot help feeling that it was a great blessing for us all that such a lily was shut up among the thorns that it might shed its fragrance in that famous book, and thereby perfume the church for ages. You that are kept from roaming by sickness or by family trials need not regret these things, for perhaps they are the means of making you more completely your Lord's. How charmingly Madame Guyon wrote when she was immured in a dungeon. Her wing was closely bound, but her song was full of liberty, for she felt that the bolts and bars only shut her in with her Beloved, and what is that but liberty? She sang,

"A little bird I am, Shut from the fields of air; And in my cage I sit and sing To him who placed me there; Well pleased a prisoner to be, Because, my God, it pleases thee. "Nothing have I else to do, I sing the whole day long; And he whom most I love to please Does listen to my song; He caught and bound my wandering wing, But still he bends to hear me sing."

"As the lily among thorns," she lived in prison shut in with her Lord, and since the world was quite shut out, she was in that respect a gainer. O to have one's heart made as "a garden enclosed, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed." So let my soul be, yes, so let it be even if the enclosure can only be accomplished by a dense growth of trials and griefs. May every pain that comes and casts us on our bed, and lays us aside from public usefulness; may every sorrow which arises out of our business, and weans us from the world; may every adversary that assails us with bitter, taunting words only thicken the thorn hedge which encases us from all the world, and constrains us to be chaste lilies set apart for the Well-beloved. Enough upon this point, I think; only do let me entreat all of you who have lately come to know the Lord to think much of your relationship to him. It is the way by which you will be supported under the responsibilities of your relationship to the world. If you know that you are his, and that he loves you, you will be strong to bear all burdens; nothing will daunt you if you are sure that he is for you, that his whole heart is true to you, that he loves you specially, and has set you apart unto himself, that you may be one with him for ever. Dwell much, in your meditations, upon what this text and other Scriptures teach of the relationship of the renewed heart to Christ, and know him of whom you are so well known. May the Holy Spirit teach us all this lesson so that it may be learned by our hearts.

II. But now, secondly, our text is full of instruction as to THE RELATIONSHIP OF THE CHURCH, AND EACH INDIVIDUAL BELIEVER TO THE WORLD- "The lily AMONG THORNS." First, then, she has INCOMPARABLE BEAUTY. As compared and contrasted with all else she is as the lily to the thorn-bush. Did not our Lord say of the natural lilies- "Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these"? and when I think of Christ's lilies, adorned in his own righteousness, and bearing his own image, I feel that I may repeat my Master's words and say with emphasis, "Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these!" In Christ's esteem his church bears the bell for beauty; she is the fairest among women. She is not to be 'compared', she has to be 'contrasted' with the rest of mankind. Our Lord means that if you take worldlings at their best and in their bravest attire, in their pomp, and glory, and parade, they are but as thorns in contrast with his church. Though the church may seem to be little, and poor, and despised, yet is she better than all the princes, and kingdoms, and glories of the earth. He means that true Christians are infinitely superior to ungodly men. These ungodly men may make a fair show of virtue, and they may have much prudence and wit, and count themselves wise and great, but Jesus calls all unconverted ones "thorns," while his own believing ones he compares to "lilies." The thorns are worthless, they flourish, and spread, and cumber the ground, but they yield no fruit, and only grow to be cut down for the oven. Alas, such is man by nature, at his best. As for the lily, it is a thing of beauty and a joy for ever; it lives shedding sweet perfume, and when it is gathered its loveliness adorns the chamber to which it is taken. So does the saint bless his generation while here, and when he is taken away he is regarded with pleasure even in heaven above as one of the flowers of God. He will before long be transplanted from among the thorns to the garden enclosed beyond the river, where the King delights to dwell, for such a flower is far too fair to be left forever amid tangled briars. There are among worldly people some who are very fair to look upon in many respects: philanthropic, kind, and upright, they have many virtues; but since these virtues have no bearings towards God, and no reference to Christ, he counts the bearers of them to be but thorns. What virtue can there be in him whose principle in life is 'disregard of his Maker, and disbelief in his Savior'? He is an avowed rebel and yet would be commended by the Lord whom he rejects. How can it be? Acts done from other motives than those of obedience to God, or love to Christ, are poor things. There may be a great inward difference between actions which outwardly are the same. The 'apple of nature' has never the flavor of the 'pomegranate of grace'. It may seem even to excel the fruit of grace, but it is not so. Two babes before us may appear alike as they seem to sleep side by side, but the child of nature, however finely dressed, is not the living child, and the Lord will not own the dead thing as belonging to his family. Ah, you that are struggling after holiness for Christ's sake, you that are seeking after virtue in the power of the Holy Spirit, you have the beauty of the lily, while all else are still to Christ but as a thicket of thorns. Ay, and let me say, what I am sorry to add- a real Christian is as superior even to a professing Christian as a lily is to thorns. I know churches in which there are many who make a profession, but, ah me, it is a pity that they should, for their life does not adorn their doctrine, their temper is not consistent with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They live like worldlings, to amass money, or to carry on business, or to enjoy good eating and drinking, or to dress and go to parties- they are as much for this world as if they were never renewed, and it is to be feared they never were. It will often grieve those who really love the Lord to see how mere professors pretend to do what saints labor to perform. Saints are mimicked, I had almost said mocked and mimicked, by empty professors, and this is a standing source of sorrow. Their cold words often vex the zealous heart and pierce it as with thorns. When you are full of zeal, their lack of consecration almost kindles indignation in the minds of those who are willing to give their last penny, ay, and their last breath, for their Master's honor. Do not, however, be at all astonished, for it must be so; he who is full of the grace of God will always be as the lily among thorns, even in the professing church. Do not marvel, young brother, if older professors dampen your ardor, and count your warm love to be a mere fanaticism. May God give you grace to keep up your first love, and even to advance upon it, though the thorny ones wound and hinder you. May you be distinguished above your fellow-professors, for I fear that unless it be so, your life will be a poor one. This then is the relationship of the church to the world, and of Christians to the world- that they are as much superior to the unregenerate in moral and spiritual beauty as the lily is to the thorns among which it finds itself. Secondly, in the comparison of the saint to the lily we remark that he has, like the lily, a SURPASSING EXCELLENCE. I point not to its beauty just now, but to its intrinsic excellence. The thorn is a fruit of the curse: it springs up because of sin. "Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth unto you." Not so the lily: it is a fair type of the blessing which makes rich without the sorrow of carking care. The thorn is the mark of wrath and the lily is the symbol of divine providence. A true believer is a blessing, a tree whose leaves heal and whose fruit feeds. A genuine Christian is a living gospel, an embodiment of goodwill towards men. Did not the old covenant blessing run, "In you and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed"? I cannot refrain from quoting a metrical meditation of one who loved the Song of Solomon, and drank into its spirit. He says of the church. She is

"A radiant thing, where all is gloomy else, Florescent where all else is barrenness; A blossom in the desert, that proclaims Man is no friendless outcast, hopelessly doomed To traverse scenes of wickedness and grief; But, pilgrim as he is, has One who plans, Not only to protect but cheer his way. Oh, ever testifying desert flower, Still holding forth the story of God's love, How amazing it is that busy throngs Pause not to look on you! That few reflect On the strange fact of your existence still, A lily among thorns- a life in death, Distinct from, yet in contact with, the world; Burning, yet unconsumed; though cumbered, free with glorious liberty!"

Yes, the church is a blessing, a blessing abiding and scattering its delights in the midst of the curse; and each particular believer is in his measure a blessing too, "as the lily among thorns." A true Christian knows not how to harm his fellow men. He is like the lily which stings no one, and yet he lives among those who are full of sharpness. He aims to please, and not to provoke, and yet he lives among those whose existence is a standing menace. The thorn tears and lacerates: it is all armed from its root to its topmost branch, defying all comers. But there stands the lily, smiling, not defying; charming, and not harming. Such is the real Christian, holy, harmless, full of love and gentleness and tenderness. Therein lies his excellence. The thorn pierces, but the lily soothes: the very sight of it gives pleasure. Who would not stop and turn aside to see a lily among thorns, and think he read a promise from his God to comfort him amid distress? Such is a true Christian: he is a consolation in his family, a comfort in his neighborhood, an ornament to his profession, and a benediction to his age. He is all tenderness and gentleness, and yet it may be he lives among the envious, the malicious, and the profane, a lily among thorns. The thorn says, "Keep away; no one shall touch me with impunity." The lily cries, "I come to you, I shed my soul abroad to please you." The sweet odors of the lily of the valley are well known; perhaps no plant has so strong a savor about it of intense and exquisite sweetness as that lily of the valley which is found in Palestine. Such is the sanctified believer. There is a secret something about him, a hallowed savor which goes out from his life, so that his graciousness is discovered; for grace, like its Lord; "cannot be hid." Even if the regenerate man be not known as a professor, yet does he discover himself by the holiness of his life- "his speech betrays him." When I was resting in the south I wandered by the side of a flowing stream, gathering handfuls of maiden-hair fern from the verdant bank- and as I walked along I was conscious of a most delicious fragrance all around me. I cast my eye downward, and I saw blue eyes looking up from among the grass at my feet. The violets had hidden themselves from sight, but they had betrayed themselves by their delicious scent. So does a Christian reveal his hidden life; his tone and temper and manners bespeak his royal lineage, if indeed the Spirit of God is in him. Such are the people of God; they court no observation, but are like that modest flower of which the poet says,

"She never affects The public walk, nor gaze of midday sun; She to no state nor dignity aspires, But silent and alone puts on her suit, And sheds a lasting perfume, but for which We had not known there was a thing so sweet Hid in the gloomy shade."

I want you, dear Christian people, to be just like this: to have about you a surpassing wealth of blessing, and an unrivalled sweetness of influence by which you shall be known of all men. Is it so with you, or are you as rough, and stern, and repellant as a thorn bush? Are you as selfish and as quarrelsome as the unregenerate? Or do you shed yourself away in sweet odors of self-denying kindness in your families, and among your neighbors? If you do so, then does Jesus say of you, "As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters." The last point with regard to our relationship to the world, is that the church and many individual Christians are called to endure singular trials, which make them feel "as the lily among thorns." That lovely flower seems out of place in such company, does it not? Christ said, "Behold, I send you forth as sheep among sheep- no, no, that is my mistake, "as sheep among wolves." It is a very blessed thing to be as sheep among sheep: to lie down with them under the shadow of the great rock, and feed with them in green pastures under the Shepherd's eye. This is our privilege, and we ought to value it greatly, and unite with the church and frequent its ordinances; but even then we shall, some of us, have to go home to an ungodly family, or to go out into the world to win our bread, and then we shall be as sheep among wolves. Grow in the church and you will be lilies in the garden; still, you cannot always live in the Tabernacle, and so you will have to go back to the ungodly world, and there you will be lilies among thorns. The lily startles you if you find it in such a position. Often you come upon one of God's elect ones in a most unexpected manner, and are as much amazed as if an angel crossed your path. This is the wonder of the lily among thorns. You are making your way over a wild heath and come to a tangled thorn-bush through which you must force your way. As you are driving through the dense mass, rending and tearing your garments, suddenly you stand still as one who has seen a vision of angels, for there among the most rugged brambles a lily lifts its lovely form and smiles upon you. You feel like Moses at the back of the desert when he saw the bush which burned with fire and yet was not consumed. So have you met in a back slum, where blasphemy abounded, a beauteous child of God, whom all recognized as such, and you have felt amazed. So have you in a wealthy family full of worldliness and vanity come upon a humble man or patient woman living unto Christ, and you have asked, how came this grace to this house? So, too, in a foreign land, where all bowed down to crucifix and image, you have casually met with a confessor who has stood his ground among idolaters, protesting for his God, not by his speech so much as by his holy walk. The surprise has been great. Expect many such surprises. The Lord has a people where you look not for them. Think not that all his lilies are in his garden, there are lilies among thorns, and he knows their whereabouts. Many saints reside in families where they will never be appreciated any more than the lily is appreciated by the thorns. This is painful, for the sympathy of our fellows is a great comfort. Lilies of the valley love to grow in clusters, and saints love holy company, and yet in some cases it must not be; they must live alone. Nor need we think that this loneliness is unrelieved, for God goes out of the track of men, and he visits those whom his own servants are passing by. The poet says,

"Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air."

But the poet forgot that God is in the wilderness, and the solitary place, and the sweetness of lonely flowers is his. He who planted the lily among thorns sees its beauty. It is God's flower, and does it waste its sweetness because no human nostril smells thereat? It were blasphemous to count that wasted which is reserved for the great King. The Lord understands the 'incense of nature' better than we do, and as he walks abroad he rejoices in his works. Grace struggling in loneliness is very choice in God's esteem. If man sees you not, O lonely believer, you may nevertheless sing, "You God see me." The flower which blooms for God alone has a special honor put upon it, and so has the saint whose quiet life is all for Jesus. If you are unappreciated by those around you, do not therefore be distressed, for you are honorable in the sight of God. The lily is altogether 'unassisted' by its surroundings- "the lily among thorns" borrows nothing from the growth which gathers about it. A genuine Christian is quite unhelped by ungodly men; what is worse, he is cumbered by them. Yet through divine grace he lives and grows. You know how the good seed could not grow because of the thorns which sprang up and choked it, but here is a good seed, a choice bulb, which flourishes where you could not have looked for it to do so. God can make his people live and blossom even among the thorns, where the ungodly by their evil influences would choke and destroy it. Happy it is when the gracious one can overtop the thorn-thicket, which would check his growth, and make his influence to be known and felt above the grossness of surrounding sin. We should not do justice to this text if we failed to see in it a reminder of the persecution to which many of the best of God's people are subjected. They live all their lives long like the lily among thorns. Some of you, dear friends, are in this condition. You can hardly speak a word but what it is picked up and made mischief of; you cannot perform an action but what it is twisted, and motives imputed to you which you know not of. Nowadays persecutors cannot drag men to the stake, but the old trial of cruel mockings is still continued; in some cases it rages even more fiercely than ever. God's people have been a persecuted people in all times, and you only fare as they fare. Bear well the burden common to all the chosen! Make no great wonder of it; this bitter trial has happened to many more before; and you may well rejoice that you are now in fellowship with apostles and prophets and honorable men of all ages. The lily among thorns should rejoice that it is a lily and not a thorn, and when it is wounded it should consider it a matter of course, and bloom on. But why does the Lord put his lilies among thorns? It is because he works transformations, singular transformations, by their means. He can make a lily grow among thorns till the thorns grow into lilies. Remember how it is written, "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose." He can set a Christian in a godless family till first one and then another shall feel the divine power, and shall say, "We will go with you, for we perceive that God is with you." It cannot happen in nature, but it does happen in grace perpetually, that the sweet perfume of the lily believer, shed abroad upon the thorn-bush of the ungodly, turns it into a lily-garden. Such holy work among ungodly people is the truest and best "FLOWER MISSION." They do well who give flowers to cheer the poor in their dreary habitations, but they do better still who are themselves flowers in the places where they live. Be lilies, my dear brethren, preach by your actions, preach by your kindness, and by your love; and I feel quite sure that your influence will be a power for good. If the Holy Spirit helps all of you to stand among your associates as lilies among the thorns, the day will come when thorns will die out, and lilies will spring up on every side: sin will be banished, and grace will abound. An Australian gentleman told me yesterday that in his colony the arum lily abounds as much as weeds do with us. When will this happen spiritually on our side the globe? Ah, when, blessed Lord, when will you remove the curse? When will you bring the better days? These are ill times, wherein the thorns grow thicker and more sharp than ever; protect your lilies, increase their number, preserve their snowy whiteness, and delight yourself in them; for Jesus' sake, Amen.

Verse 3

Under the Apple Tree

by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"I sat down under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste." Solomon's Song of Solomon 2:3 .

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 can 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 their holy faith, there are none so certain as those who feel its divine power upon themselves. You may perhaps reason yourself into a belief of the gospel, and you may perhaps by further reasoning keep yourself orthodox. But a personal evaluation, and an inward knowing of the truth, are incomparably the best evidences of the reality of divine life in the soul. If Jesus is as an apple tree among the trees of the woods, 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, -our Lord exists for the benefit of His people. A Saviour only exists to save. A physician lives to heal. The Good Shepherd lives, yes, dies, for His sheep. Our Lord Jesus Christ has wrapped us about His heart; we are intimately interwoven with all His offices, with all His honors, 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 harbor for, but that storm-tossed boats may find refuge there? 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 spiritual needs supplied out of His fullness? 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 labored 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 does not know what it is. It is to the laboring 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," she says, "O You whom my soul loves, where You feed, where You make Your flock to rest at noon?" The answer was given to her, "Go your 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 with God. Some of you tried ceremonies, and trusted in them, and the priest came to your help; but you found that this only 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 for 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 rocked 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 shall 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 God, 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 sunburned. Did we not read just now her exclamation, "Do not stare at me because I am dark, because I am darkened by the sun."? She experienced what heat meant, what the burning sun meant; and therefore shade was pleasant to her. You know nothing about the deliciousness of shade until you travel in a thoroughly hot country; then you are delighted with a respite in the shade. 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 Your 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, as you know, is cast by a body coming between us and the light and heat; and so, 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 cares, 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 sunburned; and just in proportion as you also know these two things, your appreciation 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 sands, a cup of cold water would be worth a king's ransom. And so to thirsty souls Christ is precious, but not to others. 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 sinful 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 His enemy, in the joy of being now His friend. I am very weak; but He is strong, and His strength overshadows my feebleness. I am very poor; but He has 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 overshadows 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 my goodness. Can I say I love Him? So I do, but in comparison I hardly dare call it love, for His love overshadows mine. Did I suppose that I serve 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 that His Spirit works in me. But when I think of His immaculate life, and all His divine perfections, where am I? What am I in comparison to Him? 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 as long as my Lord is glorified. Mortals may cast out my name as evil, if they like; but what does it matter since His dear name shall one day be printed in stars across 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 "I" 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; yes, 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 bloom, try to forget that there are such beauties: are you not to serve God as cheerlessly 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 this way if you desire; 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 this 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? That is the place of delight, do you abide in it? Sit down under His shadow. "I have no time," cries one. Try and make a little. Steal it from your sleep if you cannot get it any other way. Grant leisure time for your heart to sit down under Jesus' shadow. 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 slavery, isn't it? 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 start thinking about preaching upon the text, and what I should say to you from it. This will not do at all. I must get away from that, and forget that there is a Tabernacle, that I may sit personally at Jesus' feet, and feed upon Him for myself. 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" she said, "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 be able to share it with us. We have troubles no doubt, 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 all 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 do not know 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 ago, 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 delightful communion with Jesus. "Fourteen years ago," says the apostle, "I knew a man." Ah, it was worth remembering all those years! He had not told anyone his delightful experience, but he had kept it stored up. He says, "I knew a man in Christ, who 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 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 lovely, 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 until first she was under the shadow of it. There is no knowing the excellent things of Christ until you trust Him. Not a single sweet apple shall fall to the lot of those who are outside His 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," she says, and then, "His fruit was sweet to my taste." Do you believe in Jesus, friend? Then Jesus Christ Himself is yours; and if you own the tree, you may well eat the fruit. Since He Himself becomes yours altogether, then His redemption and the pardon that comes from it, His living power, His mighty intercession, the glories of His Second Coming, and all that belong to Him are given over to you for your personal and present use and enjoyment. All things are yours, since Christ is yours. Only be intent that 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 blunder as they do. Under the shadow you have a right to eat the fruit. Do not deny yourselves the sacred entertainment. Now, it would appear, as we read the text, that she obtained this fruit without effort. The saying goes- "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 labor for that which does not satisfy. 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 you shall be fed even to the full. The spouse rested while feasting: she sat and ate. So, O true believer, rest while you are 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 much like that, the Church is to her Lord, and the believer to his Saviour! We sit down also, and we eat, even as the King does. 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 in tastes is not possible. That dainty which to one person is the most delicious, is to another person nauseating; and if there were a competition as to which fruit is preferable to all the rest, there would be no settling of the matter. But every person who has once tasted the sweetness of Jesus develops a relish for Him! Dear hearer, is He sweet to you? Then He is yours. There never was a heart that relished Christ, but what Christ belonged to that heart. If you have been feeding on Him, and He is sweet to you, go on feasting, for He who gave you a relish for His sweet self, gives you all of Himself to satisfy your appetite. What are the 'fruits' which come from Christ? Are they not peace with God, renewal of heart, joy in the Holy Spirit, love to the brethren? Are they not regeneration, justification, sanctification, adoption, and all the blessings of the covenant of grace? And aren't these each and all sweet to our taste? As we have fed upon them, haven't we said, "Yes, these things are pleasant indeed. There is none like them. Let us feast upon them forever!" 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 plate of food before them, and a knife and fork, they do not need many arguments to persuade them to eat. But I will tell you when they will not eat- and that is when they are full. And I will also tell you when they will eat- and that is when they are hungry. Even so, if your soul is weary after Christ the Saviour, you will feed on Him. But if not, it is useless for me to preach to you, or bid you come and feast on Him. However, you that are there, sitting under His shadow, you may hear Him utter these words: "Eat, O friend: drink, yes, drink abundantly!" You can not have too much of these good things: the more of Christ, the better the Christian. We know that the spouse feasted herself heartily with this food from the tree of life, for in later days she wanted more. 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 woods, and she found Him there like an apple tree, and she enjoyed Him as one relishes a ripe apple in the country. But as 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 that she learned the doctrine of the Second Coming, for in the next verse 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 insignia, and He waved it over me while I was sitting at the table- and the motto of that banner was love. She grew very full with 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 into 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 you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Or this- "This man receives 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 is the apple tree. I hunger to 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 converted 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," he said, "I can't doubt but that 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," said Jack; "I can never go up, for in myself I am a poor sinner, and nothing at all; and I cannot go down, for Jesus Christ is my all in all." Jack wanted to join the church, and they said he must tell his conversion 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 this 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 ask you to sit down under His shadow. It is not much to do. Any child, when it is hot, can sit down in the shade. 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 princes of Christianity, come to the common woods 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 glories of the palace. The best of saints are never better than when they eat their original fare, and are comforted with the apples which were their first gospel feast. May the Lord Himself bring forth His own sweet fruit to you! Amen.

Verse 16

Two Sermons: A Song Among the Lilies and Loved and Loving

A Song Among the Lilies

August 30th, 1874 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies." Song of Song of Solomon 2:16 .

Last Sabbath, in our morning's sermon ("The Turning Point"), we began at the beginning and described the turning point in which the sinner sets his face towards his God, and for the first time gives practical evidence of spiritual life in his soul. He bestirs himself, he goes to his Father's house, and speedily is pressed to his Father's bosom, forgiven, accepted, and rejoiced over. This morning we are going far beyond that stage, to a position which I may call the very crown and summit of the spiritual life. We would conduct you from the door-step to the innermost chamber, from the outer court to the Holy of Holies, and we pray the Holy Spirit to enable each one of us who have entered in by Christ Jesus, the door, to pass boldly into the secret place of the tabernacles of the Host High, and sing with joyful heart the words of our text, "My beloved is mine, and I am his."

"For he is mine and I am his, The God whom I adore; My Father, Savior, Comforter, Now and for evermore."

The passage describes a high state of grace, and it is worthy of note that the description is full of Christ. This is instructive, for this is not an exceptional case, it is only one fulfillment of a general rule. Our estimate of Christ is the best garage of our spiritual condition; as the thermometer rises in proportion to the increased warmth of the air, so does our estimate of Jesus rise as our spiritual life increases in vigor and fervency. Tell me what you think of Jesus and I will tell you what to think of yourself. Christ us, yea, more than all when we are thoroughly sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost. When pride of self fills up the soul, there is little room for Jesus; but when Jesus is fully loved, self is subdued, and sin driven out of the throne. If we think little of the Lord Jesus we have very great cause to account ourselves spiritually blind, and naked, and poor, and miserable. The rebel despises his lawful sovereign, but the favored courtier is enthusiastic in his praise. Christ crucified is the revealer of many hearts, the touchstone by which the pure gold and the counterfeit metal are discerned; his very name is as a refiner's fire and like fuller's soap; false professors cannot endure it, but true believers triumph therein. We are growing in grace when we grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let everything else be gone, and let Christ fill up the entire space of our soul, then, and only then, are we rising out of the vanity of the flesh into the real life of God. Beloved, the grandest facts in all the world to a truly spiritual man are not the rise and fall of empires, the marches of victory, or the desolations of defeat; he cares neither for crowns nor mitres, swords nor shields; his admiring gaze is wholly fixed upon Christ and his cross and cause. To him Jesus is the center of history, the soul and core of providence. He desires no knowledge so much as that which concerns his Redeemer and Lord; his science deals with what Jesus is and what he is to be, what he has done, what he is doing, and what he will do. The believer is mainly anxious as to how Jesus can be glorified, and how sinners can be brought to know him. That which concerns the honor of Jesus is our chief concern from day to day; as for other matters let the Lord do as he wills with them, only let Jesus Christ be magnified, and all the rest of the world's story has small significance for us. The Beloved is the head and front, the heart and soul of the Christian's delight when his heart is in its best state. Our text is the portrait of a heavenly-minded child of God, or rather, it is the music of his well stringed harp when love as minstrel touches the tenderest chords: "My beloved is mine, and I am his; he feedeth among the lilies." We shall note then, first, that here is a delighting to have Christ; secondly, a delighting to belong to Christ; and thirdly, a delighting at the very thought of Christ. I. First, here is A DELIGHTED TO HAVE CHRIST. "My beloved is mine." The spouse makes this the first of her joy notes, the cornerstone of her peace, the fountain of her bliss, the crown of her glory. Observe here that where such an expression is truthfully used the existence of the Beloved is matter of fact. Scepticism, and questioning have no place with those who thus sing. There are dreamers now-adays who cast doubt on everything; taking to themselves the name of philosophers, and professing to know something of science, they make statements worthy only of idiots, and demand for their self-evidently false assertions the assent of rational men. The word "philosopher" will soon come to mean a lover of ignorance, and the term "a scientific man" will be understood as meaning a fool, who has said in his heart there is no God. Such attacks upon the eternal verities of our holy faith can have no effect upon hearts enamoured of the Son of God, for, dwelling in his immediate presence, they have passed the stage of doubt, left the region of questioning far behind, and in this matter have entered into rest. The power of love has convinced us; to entertain a doubt as to the reality and glory of our Well-beloved would be torment to us, and therefore love has cast it out. We use no perhapses, buts, or ifs concerning our Beloved, but we say positively that he is, and that he is ours. We believe that we have better evidence of his being, power, Godhead, and love to us than can be given for any other fact. So far from being abashed by the cavils of sceptics, or quailing beneath the question, "Is there such a Beloved?" we are not careful to answer in this matter, for we know that there is; our love laughs at the question, and does not condescend to answer it save by bidding those who seriously inquire to "come and see" for themselves. We have ever found, beloved, that when a time of chilling doubt has come over us and such ague fits will come we have only to return to meditations upon Jesus and he becomes his own evidence by making our hearts burn within us with love of his character and person, and then doubt is doomed. We do not slay our unbelief by reason, but we annihilate it by affection. The influence of love to Jesus upon the soul is so magical I wish I had a better word so elevating, so ravishing, so transporting, it gives such a peace, and withal inspires such holy and lofty aspirations, that the effect proves the cause. That which is holy is true, and that which is true cannot rise out of that which is false. We may safely judge a tree by its fruit, and a doctrine by its result: that which produces in us self-denial, purity, righteousness, and truth, cannot itself be false, and yet the love of Jesus does this beyond everything else. There must be truth for a cause where truth is the effect; and thus love, by the savor which it spreads over the soul by contemplation of Christ, puts its foot upon the neck of doubt and triumphantly utters bold, confident declarations, which reveal the full assurance of faith. New-born love to Jesus, while yet in its cradle, like a young Hercules, takes the serpents of doubt and strangles them. He who can say from his heart "My Beloved," is the man who is in the way to confirmed faith. Love cannot, will not doubt; it casts away the crutches of argument and flies on the wings of conscious enjoyment, singing her nuptial hymn, "My Beloved is mine, and I am his." In the case before us the love of the heavenly-minded one is perceived and acknowledged by herself. "My beloved," saith she; it is no latent affection, she knows that she loves him, and solemnly avows it. She does not whisper, "I hope I love the peerless one," but she sings, "My beloved." There is no doubt in her soul about her passion for the altogether lovely one. Ah, dear friends, when you feel the flame of love within your soul, and give it practical expression, you will no longer inquire, "Do I love the Lord or no? "Then your inner consciousness will dispense with evidences. Those are dark days when we require evidences; well may we then fast, for the Bridegroom is not with us; but when he abides with us, enjoyment of his fellowship supersedes all evidences. I want no evidence to prove that food is sweet when it is still in my month; I want no evidence of the existence of the sun when I am basking in his beams, and enjoying his light, and even so we need no evidence that Jesus is precious to us when, like a bundle of myrrh, he perfumes our bosom. We are anxious doubters as to our safety, and questioners of our own condition, because we are not living with Jesus as we ought to be; but when he brings us to his banqueting house, and we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with him and with the Father, and then we believe and are sure, and our love to Jesus is indisputable, because it burns within too fervently to be denied. Why, when a Christian is in a right state, his love to Jesus is the mightiest force in his nature, it is an affection which, like Aaron's rod, swallows up all other rods; it is the mainspring of his action, and sways his whole body, soul, and spirit. As the wind sweeps over all the strings of the Alolian harp, and causes them all to vibrate, so does the love of Jesus move every power and passion of our soul, and we feel in our entire being that our Beloved is indeed ours, and that we love him with all our hearts. Here, then, is the Beloved realized, and our love realised too. But the pith of the text lies here, our possession of him is proven, we know it, and we know it on good evidence "My beloved is mine." You know it is not a very easy thing to reach this point. Have you ever thought of the fact that to claim the Lord and call him "my God," is a very wonderful thing? Who was the first man in the Old Testament who is recorded as saying "My God"? Was it not Jacob, when he slept at Bethel, and saw the ladder which reached to heaven? Even after that heavenly vision it took him touch effort to reach to "My God." He said "If God will be with me and will keep me in the way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and raiment to put On, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then shall the Lord be my God." Only after long experience of divine goodness could he climb up to the height of saying "My God." And who is the first man in the New Testament that calls Jesus "My Lord and My God"? It was Thomas, and he must needs have abundant proofs before he can speak thus: "Except I see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe." Only when he had received such proofs could he exclaim "My Lord and my God." Blessed are they who reach it by simpler faith, who have not seen and yet have believed. "My Beloved" is a strong expression. "Beloved" is sweet, but "MY Beloved" is sweetest of all. If you think of it, it is no little thing to claim God as ours, to claim Jesus the Beloved as ours, yea, to put it in the singular, and call him mine; and yet, when the believer's heart is in the right condition, he makes the claim, and is warranted in so doing; for Jesus Christ is the portion of all believers. His Father gave him to us, and he has given himself to us. Jesus was made over to every believing soul, as his personal possession, in the eternal covenant ordered in all things and sure; Jesus actually gave himself for us in his incarnation, becoming bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh; he has made himself ours by his passion and death, loving us and giving himself for us, to save us from our sins; he has also given us power to appropriate him by the gracious gift of faith, by which we are in very deed married to him, and are enabled to call him the husband of our souls, who is ours to have and to hold, for better for worse, for life and for death, by a bond of marriage union which neither death nor hell, time nor eternity, can break. Jesus is ours by the promise, the covenant, and oath of God; a thousand assurances and pledges, bonds and seals, secure him to us as our portion and everlasting heritage. This precious possession becomes to the believer his sole treasure. "My beloved is mine," saith he, and in that sentence he has summed up all his wealth. He does not say "My wife, my children, my home, my earthly comforts are mine." He is almost afraid to say so, because while he is yet speaking, they may cease to be his: the beloved wife may sicken before his eyes, the child may need a tiny coffin, the friend may prove a traitor, and the riches may take to themselves wings, therefore the wise man does not care to say too positively that anything here below is his; indexed, he feels that in very truth they are not his, but only lent to him "to be returned anon"; but the Beloved is his own, and his possession of him is most firm. Neither doth the believer when his soul is in the best state so much rejoice even in his spiritual privileges as in the Lord from whom they come. He has righteousness, wisdom, sanctification and redemption; he has both grace and glory secured to him, but he prefers rather to claim the fountain than the streams. He clearly sees that these choice mercies are only his because they are Christ's, and only his because Christ is his. Oh, what would all the treasures of the covenant be to us if it were possible to have them without Christ? Their very sap and sweetness would be gone. Having our Beloved to be ours, we have all things in him, and therefore our main treasure, yea, our sole treasure, is our Beloved. O ye saints of God, was there ever possession like this? You have your beloveds, ye daughters of earth, but what are your beloveds compared with ours? He is the Son of God and the Son of Man! The darling of heaven and the delight of earth! The lily of the valley and the rose of Sharon! Perfect in his character, powerful in his atoning death, mighty in his living plea! He is such a lover that all earthly loves put together are not worthy to touch the hem of his garment, or loose the latchet of his shoes. He is so dear, so precious, that words cannot describe him nor pencil depict him, but this we will say of him, he is "the chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely," and he is ours. Do you wonder that we glory in this fact, and count this the crowning delight of our lives, "My beloved is mine"? The very tenure upon which we hold this priceless possession is a matter to glory in. O worldlings, you cannot hold your treasures as we hold ours. If you knew all, you would never say of anything, "It is mine," for your holding is too precarious to constitute possession. It is yours till that frail thread of life shall snap, or that bubble of time shall burst. You have only a leasehold of your treasures, terminable at the end of one frail life; whereas ours is an eternal freehold, an everlasting entail. "My beloved is mine," I cannot lose him, nor can he be taken from me; he is mine for ever, for "who shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord? "So that, while the possession is rare, the tenure is rare also, and it the life of our life, and the light of our delight that we can sing

"Yea, thou art mine, my blessed Lord, O my Beloved, thou art mine! And, purchased with thy precious blood, My God and Savior, I am thine.

"MY CHRIST! Oh, sing it in the heavens, Let every angel lift his voice; Sound with ten thousand harps his praise, With me, ye heavenly hosts, rejoice.

"The gift unspeakable is given, The grace of God has made him mine; And, now, before both earth and heaven, Lord, I will own that I am thine."

Now, beloved friends, I cannot talk about this as I feel, I can only give you hints of that which fills me to the full with joy. I beg you to contemplate for a single moment the delight which is stored up in this fact, that the blessed Son of God, the "brightness of the Father's glory," is all our own. Whatever else we may have, or may not have, he is ours. I may not exhibit in my character all the grace I could wish, but "My beloved is mine"; I may have only one talent, but "My beloved is mine"; I may be very poor and very obscure, but "My beloved is mine"; I may have neither health nor wealth, but "My beloved is mine"; I may not be what I want to be, but "My beloved is mine." Yea, he is altogether mine, his Godhead and his manhood, his life, his death, his attributes, and prerogatives, yea, all he is, all he was, all he ever will be, all he has done, and all he ever will do, is mine. I possess not a portion in Christ, but the whole of him. All his saints own him, but I own him as much as if there were never another saint to claim him. Child of God, do you see this? In other inheritances, if there are many heirs, there is so much the less for each, but in this great possession every one who has Christ has a whole Christ all to himself, from the head of much fine gold, down to his legs, which are as pillars of marble. The whole of his boundless heart of love, his whole arm of infinite might, and his whole head of matchless wisdom, all is for thee, beloved. Whoever thou mayst be, if thou dost indeed trust in Jesus, he is all thine own. My beloved is all mine, and absolutely mine; not mine to look at and talk about merely, but mine to trust in, to speak to, to depend upon, to fly to in every troublous hour, yea, mine to feed upon, for his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed. Our beloved is not ours only to use in certain ways, but ours outright, without restriction. I may draw what I will from him, and both what I take and what I leave are mine. He himself in his ever glorious person is mine, and mine always; mine when I know it, and mine when I do not know it, mine when I am sure of it, and mine when I doubt it; mine by day, and mine by night; mine when I walk in holiness, ay, and mine when I sin, for "if any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." He is mine on the hill Mizar, and mine in the swellings of Jordan; mine by the grave where I bury those I love, mine when I shall be buried there myself, mine when I rise again; mine in judgment, and mine in glory; for ever mine. Note well that it is written, "My beloved is mine," in the singular. He is yours, I am glad of it; but still to me it is most sweet that he is mine. It is well to bless God that others have a possession in Christ, but what would that avail if we were strangers to him ourselves? The marrow and the fatness lie in the personal pronoun singular, "My beloved is mine. "I am so glad that Jesus loves me." Oh for a blessed grip with both hands on such a Christ as this! Observe well that he is ours as our Beloved, so that he is ours as whatever our love makes of him. Our love can never praise him enough, or speak well enough of him, she thinks all descriptions fall short of his deservings; well, then, Jesus is ours at his best; if we think him so glorious, he is ours in all that glory. Our love says that he is a fair, lovely, sweet, and precious Christ, and let us be sure that, however lovely, sweet, and precious he is, he is all ours. Our love says there is none like him, he is King of kings and Lord of lords, he is the ever blessed; well, as the King of kings and Lord of lords he is yours. You cannot think too much of him, but when you think your best he is yours at that best. He has not a glory so high that it is not yours, nor a lustre so brilliant that it is not yours. He is my beloved, and I would fain extol him, but never can I get beyond this golden circle, when I most extol him he is still mine. Here, then, is the basis of Christian life, the foundation on which it rests: to know that most surely Christ is altogether ours is the beginning of wisdom, the source of strength, the star of hope, the dawn of heaven. II. The second portion of the text deals with DELIGHTING TO BELONG TO CHRIST. "I am his." This is as sweet as the former sentence. I would venture to put a question to each loving wife here present when you were married which was the sweetest thought to you, that you were your husband's, or that he was yours? Why, you feel that neither sentence would be sweet alone: they are necessary to each other. Ask any fond, loving heart which of these declarations could best be parted with, and they will tell you that neither can be given us. Christ is mine, but if I were not his it would be a sorry case, and if I were his and he were not mine it would be a wretched business. These two things are joined together with diamond rivets "My beloved is mine, and I am his." Put the two together, and you have reached the summit of delight. That we are his is a fact that may be prove yea, it should need no proving, but be manifest to all that "I am his." Certainly we are his by creation: he who made us should have us. We are his because his Father gave us to him, and we are his because he chose us. Creation, donation, election are his triple hold upon us. We are his because he bought us with his blood, his because he called us by his grace, his because he is married to us, and we are his spouse. We are his, moreover, to our own consciousness, because we have heartily, from the inmost depths of our being, given ourselves up to him, bound by love to him for ever. We feel we must have Christ, and be Christ's, or die "For me to live is Christ." Brethren and sisters, mind you attend to this clause, I am sure you will if the former one is true to you. If you can say, "My beloved is mine," you will be sure to add, "I am his, I must be his, I will be his: I live not unless I am his, for I count that wherein I am not his I am dead, and I only live wherein I live to him." My very soul is conscious that I am his. Now this puts very great honor upon as. I have known the time when I could say "My beloved is mine" in a very humble trembling manner, but I did not dare to add "I am his" because I did not think I was worth his having. I dared not hope that "I am his" would ever be written in the same book side by side with "My beloved is mine." Poor sinner, first lay hold on Jesus, and then you will discover that Jesus values you. You will prize him first, and then you will find out that he prizes you, and that though you do not feel worthy to be flung on a dunghill, yet Jesus has put a value upon you, saying "Since thou wert precious in my sight thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee." It is no small joy to know that we poor sinners are worth Christ's having, and that he has even said, "They shall be mine in the day when I make up my jewels." This second part of the text is true as absolutely as the first. "I am his" not my goods only, nor my time, nor my talents, nor what I can spare, but "I am his." I fear that some Christians have never understood this. They give the Lord a little of their surplus, which they never miss. The poor widow who gave all her living, had the true idea of her relation to her Lord. She would have put herself into the treasury if she could, for she felt "I am his." As for myself, I wish I could be dropped bodily through the little slit of Christ's treasure box, and be in his casket for ever, never to be heard of any more as my own, but to be wholly my Lord's. Paul desired to spend and be spent. It is not easy to do those two things distinctly with money, for when you spend a thing it is spent at one and the same time, but the apostle meant that he would spend himself by activity, and then when he could do no more, he would be glad to be spent by passive endurance for Christ's sake. The believer feels that he belongs to Jesus absolutely; let the Lord employ him as he may, or try him as he pleases; let him take away all earthly friends from him or surround him with comforts; let him either depress him or exalt him, let him use him for little things or great things, or not use him at all, but lay him on the shelf; it is enough that the Lord does it, and the true heart is content, for it truthfully confesses, "I am his. I have no mortgage or lien upon myself, so that I can call a part of my being my own, but I am absolutely and unreservedly my Lord's sole property." Do you feel this, brethren and sisters? I pray God you may. Blessed be God, this is true evermore "I am his," his to-day, in the house of worship, and his to-morrow in the house of business; his as a singer in the sanctuary, and his as a toiler in the workshop; his when I am preaching, and equally his when I am walking the streets; his while I live, his when I die; his when my soul ascends and my body lies mouldering in the grave; the whole personality of my manhood is altogether his for ever and for ever. This belonging to the Well-beloved is a matter of fact and practice, not a thing to be talked about only, but really to be acted on. I am treading on tender ground now, but I would to God that every Christian could really say this without lying: "I do live unto Christ in all things, for I am his. When I rise in the morning I wake up as his, when I sit down to a meal I eat as his, and drink as his. I eat, and drink, and sleep unto the Lord, in everything giving thanks unto him. It is blessed even to sleep as the Lord's beloved, to dream as his Abrahams and Jacobs do, to awake at night and sing like David, and then drop off to "sleep in Jesus." "It is a high condition," say you. I grant it, but it is where we ought to abide. The whole of our time and energy should be consecrated by this great master principle, "I am his." Can you say it? Never rest till you can. And if you can, beloved, it involves great privilege. "I am his," then am I honored by having such an owner. If a horse or a sheep is said to belong to the Queen, everybody thinks much of it: now you are not the Queen's, but you are the Lord's, and that is far more. Through belonging to Christ you are safe, for he will surely keep his own. He will not lose his own sheep, he paid too dear a price for them to lose them. Against all the powers of earth and hell the Redeemer will hold his own and keep them to the end. If you are his he will provide for you. A good husband careth for his spouse, and even thus the Lord Jesus Christ cares for those who are betrothed unto him. You will be perfected too, for whatever Christ has he will make worthy of himself and bring it to glory. It is because we are his that we shall get to heaven, for he has said, "Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am." Because they are his he would have them with him. Now, give your thoughts licence to wonder that any one of us should be able to say, "I am his." "I who used to be so giddy and thought" less, So sceptical, and perhaps profane, I am his." Ay, and some of you can say, "I who used to be passionate and proud, I who was a drunkard, I whose lips were black with blasphemy, I am his." Glory he unto thee, O Jesus Christ, for this, that thou hast taken up such worthless things as we are and made us thine. No longer do we belong to this present evil world, we live for the world to come. We do not even belong to the church, so as to make it our master; we are part of the flock, but like all the rest we belong to the Great Shepherd. We will not give ourselves up to any party, or become the slave of any denomination, for we belong to Christ. We do not belong to sin, or self, or Satan; we belong entirely, exclusively, and irrevocably to the Lord Jesus Christ. Another master waits upon us and asks us to give our energies to his services, but our answer is, "I am already engaged." "How is that?" "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus, and therefore from henceforth trouble me no more." "But can you not serve me in part?" "No, sir, I cannot serve two masters; I am not like a man who can do as he pleases, I have no time to call my own." "How is that?" "I belong to Christ, I am wholly his. If there is anything to be done for him I am his man to the best of my ability; I decline no service to which he calls me, but I can serve no other Lord." Lord Jesus, help each one of us now to say

"I am thine, and thine alone, This I gladly, fully own; And in all my works and ways, Only now would seek thy praise."

III. To conclude: the saint feels DELIGHT IN THE VERY THOUGHT OF CHRIST. "He feedeth among the lilies." When we love any persons, and we are away from home, we delight to think of them, and to remember what they are doing. You are a husband travailing in a foreign land; this morning you said to yourself, "At this time they are just getting up at home." Perhaps the time is different, for you are in another longitude, and you say to yourself, "Ah, now the dear children are just getting ready to go to the Sabbath-school;" and by-and-by you think they are at dinner. So delight in the thought of Christ made the church say, "He feedeth among the lilies." She was pleased to think of where he was and what he was doing. Now, where is Jesus? What are these lilies? Do not these lilies represent the pure in heart, with whom Jesus dwells? The spouse used the imagery which her Lord had put into her mouth. He said "As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters," and she appropriates the symbol to all the saints. A preacher who is great at spiritualizing has well said on this verse, "The straight stalk, standing up erect from the earth, its flowers as high from the ground as possible, do they not tell us of heavenly-mindedness? Do they not seem to say, 'set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth'? And if the spotless snow of the leaves teaches us of grace, then the gold of the anthers tells us of that crown which shall be the reward of grace." The violet and the primrose in spring nestle close to the earth, as if in sympathy with her chill condition, but the lily lifts up itself towards heaven in sympathy with the summer's light and splendor. The lily is frail, and such are the saints of God; were not Jesus among them to protect them the wild beast would soon tread them down. Frail as they are, they are surpassingly lovely, and their beauty is not that which is made with hands. It is a beauty put upon them by the Lord, for "they toil not, neither do they spin, yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." The saints work not for life, and spin no righteousness of their own, and yet the royal righteousness which adorns them far surpasses all that wisdom could devise or wealth procure. Where, then, is my Lord to-day? He is up and away, among the lilies of Paradise. In imagination I see those stately rows of milkwhite lilies growing no longer among thorns: lilies which are never soiled with the dust of earth, which for ever glisten with the eternal dews of fellowship, while their roots drink in unfading life from the river of the water of life which waters the garden of the Lord. There is Jesus! Can you see him? He is fairer even than the lilies which bow their heads around him. But he is here too where we are, like lilies which have scarce opened yet, lily buds as yet, but still watered by the same river, and yielding in our measure the same perfume. O ye lilies of Christ's own planting, he is among you; Jesus is in this house to-day, the unction which has made his garments so fragrant is discerned among us. But what is he doing among the lilies? It is said, "He feedeth among the lilies." He is feeding himself, not on the lilies, but among them. Our Lord finds solace among his people. His delights are with the sons of men; he joys to see the graces of his people, to receive their love, and to discern his own image in their faces. As he said to the woman of Samaria, "Give me to drink," so does he say to each one of his people, "Give me to drink," and he is refreshed by their loving fellowship. But the text means that he is feeding his people. He feedeth that part of his flock redeemed by blood of which we read that "the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them and shall lead them into living fountains of waters." Nor does he forget that part of his bock which is in the low lands of earth, but he gives them also their portion of food. He has fed us this morning, for he is the good Shepherd, and leaves none of his sheep to famish. Then what shall I do? Well, I will abide among the lilies. His saints shall be my companions. Where they flourish I will try to grow. I will be often in their assemblies. Ay, and I will be a lily too. By faith I will neither toil nor spin in a legal fashion, but I will live by faith upon the Son of God, rooted in him. I would be pure in life, and I would have the golden anther of looking to the recompense of the reward. I would lift up my soul aloft" towards heaven as the lily lifts up its flower. Jesus will come and feed by my side if I am a lily, and even I may yield him some pleasure by my humble gratitude. Beloved, this is a choice subject, but it is more sweet as a matter of fact than mere hearing can make it. "He feedeth among the lilies." This is our joy, that Christ is in his church, and the pith of all I want to say is this; never think of yourself or of the church apart from Jesus. The spouse says, "My beloved is mine, and I am his", she weaves the two into one. The cause of the church is the cause of Christ; the work of God will never be accomplished by the church apart from Christ, her power lies in his being in her midst. He feedeth among the lilies, and therefore those lilies shall never be destroyed, but their sweetness shall make fragrant all the earth. The church of Christ, working with her Lord, must conquer, but never if she tries to stand alone or to compass any end apart from him. As for each one of us personally, let us not think of ourselves apart from Christ, nor of Christ apart from us. Let George Herbert's prayer be ours.

"Oh, be mine still, still make me thine, Or rather make nor mine nor thine."

Let mine melt into thine. Oh, to have joint stock with Christ, and to trade under one name; to be married to Christ and lose our old name, and wast his name, and say, "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." As the wife is lost in the husband, and the stone in the building, and the branch in the vine, and the member in the head, we would be so amalgamated with Christ, and have such fellowship with him that there shall be no more mine nor thine. Last of all, poor sinner, you will say, "There is nothing in all this for me," and I should not like to send you away without a word. You are saying "This is a day of good tidings, but it is only for God's own people." I beg you to read through the first and second chapters of the Song, and see who it was that said, "My beloved is mine," because I should not wonder but what you are very like her. She was one who confessed, "I am black", and so are you. Perhaps grace will, one of these days, help you to say, "I am comely." She was one with whom her mother's children were angry perhaps you, too, are a speckled bird. She had done servile work, for they made her a keeper of the vineyards. I should not wonder but what you are doing servile work, too, trying to save yourself instead of accepting the salvation which Jesus has already wrought out for sinners. So it came to pass that she became very sorrowful and passed through a winter of rain and cold. Perhaps you are there; and yet you know she came out of it her winter was past, and the birds began to sing. She had been hidden in the secret places of the stairs, as you are now; but she was called out from the dust and cobwebs to see the face of her Lord. One thing I wish to whisper in your ears she was in the clefts of the rock. O soul, if thou canst but get there, if thou canst shelter in the riven side of our Beloved, that deep gash of the spear from which flowed blood and water, "to be of sin the double cure"; if thou canst get there, I say, though thou be black and grimed with sin, and an accursed sinner, only fit to be a firebrand in hell, yet shalt thou, even thou, be able to sing with all the rapture of the liveliest saint on earth, and one day with all the transport of the brightest ones above, "My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies." There, go your way with those silver bells ringing in your ears; they ring a marriage peal to saints, but they ring also a cheery invitation to sinners, and this is the tune they are set to Come and welcome! Come and welcome! Come and welcome! Sinner, come! God bless you, for Jesus' sake. Amen.

Loved and Loving

by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feeds among the lilies." -Song of Song of Solomon 2:16

"My Beloved" -- this is a sweet name which our love takes liberty to apply to the Lord Jesus. His inexpressible beauty has won our affection, and we cannot help loving him whatever may come of it: whether he be ours or not, and whether he smiles upon us or frowns, we love him and cannot do otherwise. We are carried away by the torrent of his goodness, and have no longer the control of our affections. As long as we live we must and will love the altogether lovely One. Yes, he is, and must be to me, "My Beloved." BUT suppose -- suppose for a moment that we loved and had no right to love. Many a heart that has cried "My beloved," has been wounded even unto death, because it could not come at its choice, but was doomed never to exclaim, "My beloved is mine." The beloved was longed for, but could not be grasped. This is often so in earthly love, since such love may be unlawful, or unwise, and in every case it is the source of grievous misery. Thank God, this is not the case with the soul enamored with Christ Jesus; for he freely presents himself in the gospel as the object of our confidence and love. Though he is infinitely above us, yet he delights to be one with all his loving ones, and of his own will he gives himself to us. A polluted sinner may love the perfect Savior, for there is no word in Scripture to forbid. Ay, if a sinner would be wedded to the Lord of glory there is none to forbid the marriage. Suppose that our possession of Jesus were a matter of doubt, as, alas! it is with far too many: that would be a door of sorrow indeed. Life would be unhappy if it were soured by a question as to whether our Well-beloved is ours or not. To an awakened and instructed mind it is anguish to be dubious of our hold of Christ; about this we must needs be sure, or be unhappy. All else may be in jeopardy, but, O most blessed Lord, never allow our possession of yourself to be in dispute! It would be a poor thing to say, "My beloved may be mine," or even "he was mine," or "perhaps he is mine": we cannot bear any verb but one in the indicative mood, present tense -- "My beloved IS mine." Suppose yet once again that, though we loved, and rightly loved, and actually possessed the beloved object, yet our affection was not returned. Ah, misery! to love and not be loved! Blessed be God, we can not only sing, "My Beloved is mine," but also, "I am his." He values me, he delights in me, he loves me! It is very wonderful that Jesus should think us worth the having; but since he does so, we find a matchless solace in the fact. Which is the greater miracle -- that he should be mine, or that I should be his? Certainly, the second is the surer ground of safety, for I cannot keep my treasures, since I am feebleness itself; but Jesus is able to preserve his own, and none can pluck them out of his hand. The truth that Jesus calls me his is enough to make a man dance and sing all the way between here and heaven. Realize the fact that we are dear to the heart of our incarnate God, and amid the sands of this wilderness a fountain of overflowing joy is open before us.

BUT THE TEXT IS FREE FROM ALL SUPPOSITION: it is the language of indisputable possession, the exclamation of a confidence which has made its assurance doubly sure. There are two positive verbs in the present tense, and not the smell of a doubt has passed upon them. Here is a brave positiveness which fears no controversy, "my beloved is mine, and I am his," doubt it who may. There he is, for "he feeds among the lilies." The spouse sees him of whom she speaks; he may be a mere myth to others but he is a substantial, lovable, lovely, and actually beloved person to her. He stands before her, and she perceives his character so clearly that she has a comparison ready for him, and likens him to a gazelle feeding on the tender grass among the lilies. This is a very delightful state of heart. Some of us know what it is to enjoy it from year to year. Christ is ours, and we know it. Jesus is present, and by faith we see him. Our marriage union with husband or wife cannot be more clear, more sure, more matter of fact, than our oneness with Christ and our enjoyment of that oneness. Joy! joy! joy! He whom we love is ours! We can also see the other side of the golden shield, for he whom we prize beyond all the world, also prizes us, and we are his. Nothing in the universe besides deserves for an instant to be compared in value with this inestimable blessing. We would not exchange with the cherubim: their chief places in the choirs of heaven are poor as compared with the glory which excels -- the glory of knowing that I my best Beloved's am, and he is mine. A place in Christ's heart is more sweet, more honorable, more dear to us than a throne among the angels. Not even the delights of Paradise can produce a rival to this ecstatic joy -- "My Beloved is mine, and I am his." YET HAS THE TEXT A NOTE OF CAUTION. The condition of fully assured love is as tender as it is delightful. The spouse in the seventh verse had charged her companions by all things of gentleness, delicacy, and timidity -- "by the roes, and by the hinds of the field " -- to refrain from offending her beloved while he deigned to abide with her; she had also compared him to a roe or a young hart, rather hiding than revealing himself; and here she likens him to the same roe, quietly pasturing in the gardens, so gently moving that he does not break or even bruise a lily, but softly insinuates himself among their delicate beauties, as one of the same dainty mould. This hints in poetic imagery at the solemn and sacred truth that the dearest fellowship with Jesus can never be known by the rough and the coarse, the hard and the restless, but remains the priceless heritage of the lowly and meek; and these can only retain it by a studious care which cherishes love, and guards it from even the least intrusion. A gazelle among the lilies would start at the bark of a fox, and be gone at the voice of a stranger; and therefore soft whispers of inward love must say, "Take us the foxes, the little foxes," and nimble hands with noiseless fingers must draw up the lattice that kindly eyes may look forth at the windows, and may be seen of him who delights in love. The evident intent of the language is to set forth the delicacy of the highest form of holy fellowship. The Lord our God is a jealous God, and that jealousy is most seen where most his love is displayed. The least sin, willfully indulged in, will grieve the Holy Spirit; slights, forgetfulnesses, and neglects will cause him to turn away. If we would remain positively and joyously assured that the Beloved is ours and that we are his, we must use the utmost circumspection and holy vigilance. No man gains full assurance by accident, or retains it by chance. As the gentle hind wanders in lovely spots where grow the pure white lilies, and as he shuns the places profaned by strife, and foul with rank weeds and nettles, so does the Lord Jesus come to holy minds perfumed with devotion and consecrated to the Lord, and there in sacred quiet he finds solace and abides with his saints. May the Lord preserve us from pride, from self-seeking, from carnality, and wrath, for these things will chase away our delights even as dogs drive off the hind of the morning. Both our inward and outward walk must be eagerly watched lest any thing should vex the Bridegroom. A word, a glance, a thought may break the spell, and end the happy rest of the heart, and long may it be before the blessing be regained. We have some of us learned by bitter experience that it is hard to establish a settled peace, and easy enough to destroy it. The costly vase, the product of a thousand laborious processes, may be broken in a moment; and so the supreme delight of communion with the Lord Jesus, the flower of ten thousand eminent delights, may be shattered by a few moments' negligence. Hence the one lesson of our little sermon is -- I charge you, O you daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that you stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please."

"For I am jealous of my heart Lest it should once from him depart; Then should I lose my best delight Should my Beloved take to flight."

Verses 16-17

Over the Mountains

by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"My Beloved is mine, and I am His: He feeds among the lilies. Until the day breaks, and the shadows flee away; turn, my Beloved, and be like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether." Solomon's Song of Solomon 2:16-17 .

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 has had its night. I have seen both clear shining days, and heavy rains, and felt both 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 at times we do lose our leaves, and the sap within us does not flow with equal vigor 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 rather, at times we have 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 WITH CHRIST 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 well as when we walk in the light. No, she had not lost 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 a view of ourselves as to be much depressed. It is plain, from this Sacred Canticle, that the spouse may love and be loved by Christ, may be confident in her Lord, and be fully assured of her possession of Him, and yet there may for the present time, 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 with Jesus. There are dark nights for spiritual men as well as for spiritual 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; do not cast away your confidence; but the rather let faith burn up in the midst of the gloom, and let your love resolve to come to your Lord again whatever may 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." Until Christ appears, no day has dawned for us. We dwell in midnight darkness; the stars of the promises, and the moon of our experience yield no light of comfort until our Lord, like the sun, arises and ends the night. We must have Christ with us, or we are in the night: 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 believer. We are not afraid of real enemies when Jesus is with us; but when He is absent from us, we tremble at even a shadow. How sweet is that song, "Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff comfort me!" But we change our note when midnight is now come, and Jesus is not with us: then we populate the night with terrors: demons, hobgoblins, and things that never existed except in our imagination, are apt to swarm about us; and we are in fear where no fear really exists. 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, this is sad work! The presence of the Lord with us, makes this life the preface to the celestial life; but His absence leaves us pining and fainting, neither does any comfort remain in the land of our banishment. The Scriptures and the ordinances, private devotions and public worship- all are as sun-dials, -all are most excellent when the sun shines, but of small avail in the dark. O Lord Jesus, nothing can compensate us for Your loss! Draw near to Your beloved yet again, for without You our night will never end.

"See! I repent, and vex my soul, That I should leave You so! Where will those vile affections roll That let my Savior 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 that nearness, will never be content until it is restored. Have you ever entertained the Prince Emmanuel? Is He gone elsewhere? Your chamber will be dreary until He comes back again. "Give me Christ or else I die," is the cry of every person 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 and unbelief. Ah me, I cannot teach you all the dark geography of this sad experience! Giant walls rose before the spouse like the towering steeps of Lebanon. How could she come to 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 does embrace me." Alas, how 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 until 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, these barriers were 'mountains', and mountains 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- we 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 IN HER OWN POWER. She does not even think of herself being able to go over the mountains to her Beloved, but she cries, "Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my Beloved, and be 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 treacherous 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 Savior 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 You would rend the heavens, that You would come down, that the mountains might flow down at Your 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, yes, 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 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 makes my feet like deer's feet, and sets me upon my high places," alluding to the feet of those creatures which are so fitted to stand securely on the mountain sides. Our blessed Lord is called, in the title of the twenty-second Psalm, "the Deer of the morning"; and the spouse in this golden Canticle sings, "My Beloved is like a roe or a young hart; behold He comes, 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 impossible. "How?" do you say. I answer that of old He did this; for we remember "His great love with which 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 and 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 was found by them that did not seek Me." We were too averse to His holiness, too much in bondage to sin, to ever have returned to Him if He had not first turned to us. What do you think? Did He come to us when we were His enemies, and will He not visit us now that we are His 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 does not wait for man, neither tarries for the sons of men. Besides, He is coming again in person, in the LAST 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 them, until He shall reign over all! He will come in the last days, I say, though He must leap over these mountains 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 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 transgressions, and so became aware of the tremendous load of our guilt. He is also quite at home with the infirmities of our nature-- He knew temptation in the wilderness, heartbreak in the garden, and desertion on the cross. He is quite at home with pain and weakness, for "Himself took our infirmities, and bore 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 His spirit, and passed through the sepulchre to resurrection. O yawning gulfs and frowning steeps of woe and despair- our Beloved, like hind or hart, has traversed your glooms! O my Lord, You know all that divides me from You; and You know also that I am far too feeble to climb these dividing mountains, so that I may come to You; therefore, I beg You, come over the mountains to meet my longing spirit! You know each yawning gulf and slippery steep, but none of these can keep You back-- hasten to me, Your servant, Your beloved, and let me again live in Your 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. Just 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 still opened, and is still so 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, "Your sins are forgiven." You say, "But I feel so unfit, so unable to enjoy communion with Him." 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 remember her who was sick with a fever, and was healed at once, and arose, and ministered unto her Lord! "My grace is sufficient for you; for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Still you say, "But I have such afflictions, such troubles, such sorrows, that I am weighted down, and cannot rise into joyful fellowship with Christ." 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 skillful 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 are 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 hinders Him from coming to us? 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 loved by Him- but I am a worm, and no man; utterly below such condescension by Him." So you say? Don't you know that the worthiness of Christ covers your unworthiness, and He has become for us wisdom from God-- that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption? In Christ, the Father does not think so worthless of you, as you think of yourself-- you are not worthy to be called His child, but He does call you His child, and reckons you to be among His jewels. Listen, and you shall hear Him say, "Since you were precious in My sight, you have been honorable, and I have loved you..." 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 of this INSTANTANEOUSLY. As in the twinkling of an eye, the dead shall be raised incorruptible; so in a moment can our dead affections rise to fullness of delight. He can say to this mountain, "Be removed from here, and be 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 physical presence we do not have, but His real spiritual presence we can perceive. He has come here. He looks forth at these windows, I mean this bread and wine; showing Himself through the lattices of this instructive and endearing ordinance. He speaks. He says, "The winter is past, the rain is over and gone." And so it is; we feel it to be so- a heavenly springtime warms our frozen hearts. Like the spouse, we wonderingly cry, "Before 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 says, "Arise, let us go from here." O Lord of our hearts, go with us! Home will not be home without You. Life will not be life without You. Heaven itself would not be heaven if You were absent. Abide with us. The world grows dark, the twilight 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 splendors 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 breaks, and the shadows flee away, turn, my Beloved, and be like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of division."

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

Verse 17

Darkness Before the Dawn

August 1st, 1886 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"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." SONG OF Song of Solomon 2:17 .

The spouse sings, "Until the day break, and the shadows flee away," so that the beloved of the Lord may be in the dark. It may be night with her who has a place in the heart of the Well-beloved. A child of God, who is a child of light, may be for a while in darkness; first, darkness comparatively, as compared with the light he has some times enjoyed, for days are not always equally bright. Some days are bright with a clear sunshine, other days may be overcast. So the child of God may one day walk, with full assurance of faith, in close fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ; and at another time he may be questioning his interest in the covenant of grace, and may be rather sighing than singing, rather mourning than rejoicing. The child of God may be, then, in comparative darkness. Yes, and he may be in positive darkness. It may be very black with him, and he may be obliged to cry, "I see no signs of returning day." Sometimes, neither sun nor moon appears for a long season to cheer the believer in the dark. This may arise partly through sickness of body. There are sicknesses of the body which in a very peculiar way touch the soul; exquisite pain may yet be attended with great brightness and joy, but there are certain other illnesses which influence us in another way. Terrible depressions come over us; we walk in darkness, and see no light. I should not like to guess how heavy a true heart may sometimes become; there is a needs-be that we be in heaviness through manifold trials. There is not only a needs-be for the trials, but also for the heaviness which comes out of them. It is not always that a man can gather himself together, and defy the fierce blasts, and walk through fire and through water with heavenly equanimity. No, brethren, "a wounded spirit who can bear?" and that wounded spirit may be the portion of some of the very fairest of the sons of God; indeed, the Lord has some weakly, sickly sons who, nevertheless, are the very pick of his family. It is not always the strong ones by whom he sets the most store; but, sometimes, those that seem to be driven into a corner, whose days are spent in mourning, are among the most precious in his sight. Yes, the darkness of the child of God may be comparative darkness, and it may to a great extent be positive darkness. But yet it can only be temporary darkness. The same text which suggests night promises dawn: "Until the day break, and the shadows flee away," says the song of the spouse. Perhaps no text is more frequently upon my lips than is this one; I do not think that any passage of Scripture more often recurs to my heart when I am alone, for just now I feel that there is a gathering gloom over the church and over the world. It seems as if night were coming on, and such a night as makes one sigh and cry, "Until the day break, and the shadows flee away." I am going to speak upon three things which are in our text. The first will be, our prospect. We have a prospect that the day will break, and the shadows flee away. Secondly, our posture "until the day break, and the shadows flee away." Thirdly, our petition: "Turn, my Beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of division." We are content to wait if he will come to us; if gladdened with his presence, the night shall seem short, and we can well endure all that it brings. Let the prayer of our text be put up by any of you who are waiting in the darkness, and may it be speedily answered in your happy experience! I. First of all, let us consider OUR PROSPECT. Our prospect is, that the day will break, and that the shadows will flee away. We may read this passage in many ways, and apply it to different cases. Think, first, of the child of God, who is full of doubt. He is afraid that, after all, his supposed conversion was not a true one, and that he has proved it to be false by his own misbehaviour. He is afraid, I scarcely know of what, for so many fears crowd in upon him. He is crying to God to remove his doubts, and to let him once again

"Read his title clear To mansions in the skies."

His eyes are looking toward the cross, and somehow, he has a hope, if not quite a persuasion, that he will find light in Christ, where so many others have found it. I would encourage that hope till it becomes a firm conviction and a full expectation. The day will break for you, dear mourner, the shadows will yet flee away. While I say that, I feel able to speak with great confidence, for my eye, as it looks round on this congregation, detects many brethren and sisters with whom I have conversed in the cloudy and dark day. We have prayed together, dear friends, have we not? I have repeated in your hearing those precious promises which are the pillows of our hope; yet, at the time, it seemed as if you would never be cheered or comforted. Friends who lived with you grieved much to see you so sad; they could not understand how such as you who have lived so scrupulously as you believed to be right, should, nevertheless, come into sadness and despondency. Well, you have come out of that state, have you not? I can almost catch the bright expression in your eye as you flash back the response, "It is so, sir; we can sing among the loudest now, we can leap as a hart, and the tongue that once was dumb can now sing praises unto the Lord who delivered us." The reason of this great change is that you did still cling to Christ even when it seemed to be no use to cling. You had a venturesome faith; when it seemed a risky thing even to believe, you did believe, and you kept on believing, and now the day has dawned for you, and the shadows have fled away. Well, so shall it be to all who are in like case if they will but trust in the Lord, and stay themselves upon our God. Though they walk in darkness, and see no light, yet by-and-by the day shall break for them also. This expression is equally applicable when we come into some personal sorrow not exactly of a spiritual kind. I know that God's children are not long without tribulation. As long as the wheat is on the threshing-floor, it must expect to feel the flail. Perhaps you have had a bereavement, or you may have had losses in business, or crosses in your family, or you have been sorely afflicted in your own body, and now you are crying to God for deliverance out of your temporal trouble. That deliverance will surely come. "Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed." "I have been young," said David, "and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken." The Lord will yet light your candle, and surround your path with brightness. Only patiently hope and quietly wait, and you shall yet see the salvation of the Lord. "Many are the afflictions of the righteous." Hark that; you know that part of the verse is true, and so is the rest of it: "but the Lord delivereth him out of them all." Clutch at that, for it is equally true. "In the world ye shall have tribulation." You know that is true. "Be of good cheer," says Christ, "I have overcome the world." Therefore, expect that you also will overcome it through your conquering Lord. Yes, in the darkest of all human sorrows, there is the glad prospect that the day will break, and the shadows will flee away. This is the case again, I believe, on a grander scale with reference to the depression of religion at the present time. Some of us are obliged to go sorrowing when we look upon the state of the church and the world. We are not accustomed to take gloomy views of things, but we cannot help grieving over what we see. More and more it forces itself upon us that the old-fashioned gospel is being either neglected or trampled in the dust. The old spirit, the old fire that once burned in the midst of the saints of God, is there still, but it burns very low at present. We want I cannot say how much we want a revival of pure and undefiled religion in this our day. Will it come? Why should it not come? If we long for it, if we pray for it, if we believe for it, if we work for it, and prepare for it, it will certainly come. The day will break, and the shadows will flee away. The mockers think that they have buried our Lord Jesus Christ. So, perhaps, they have; but he will have a resurrection. The cry is, "Who will roll us away the stone?" The stone shall be rolled away, and he, even the Christ in whom our fathers trusted, the Christ of Luther and of Calvin, of Whitefield and of Wesley, that same Christ shall be among us yet in the fullness and the glory of his power by the working of the Holy Ghost upon the hearts of myriads of men. Let us never despair; but, on the contrary, let us brush the tears from our eyes, and begin to look for the light of the mowing, for "the morning cometh," and the day will break, and the shadows will flee away. Let me encourage any friends who have been laboring for Christ in any district which has seemed strikingly barren, where the stones of the field have seemed to break the ploughshare. Still believe on, beloved; that soil which appears most unfruitful will perhaps repay us after a while with a hundred-fold harvest. The prospect may be dark; perhaps, dear friends, it is to be darker yet with us. We may have worked, and seemed to work in vain; possibly the vanity of all our working is yet to appear still more; but for all that, "the morning cometh." "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy." We must not be in the least afraid even in the densest darkness; but, on the contrary, look for the coming blessing. I believe that this is to be the case also in this whole world. It is still the time of darkness, it is still the hour of shadows. I am no prophet, nor the son of a prophet, and I cannot foretell what is yet to happen in the earth; it may be that the darkness will deepen still more, and that the shadows will multiply and increase; but the Lord will come. When he went up from Olivet, he sent two of his angels down to say, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." He is surely coming; and though the date of his return is hidden from our sight, all the signs of the times look as if he might come very speedily. I was reading, the other day, what old Master William Bridge says on this subject: "If our Lord is coming at midnight, he certainly will come very soon, for it cannot be darker than it now is." That was written two hundred years ago, but our Lord has not come yet, and I might say much the same as Master Bridge did. Do not doubt as to Christ's coming because it is delayed. A person lies dying, and the report concerning him is, "Well, it does not look as if he could live many hours." You call again, and they say, "Well, he still survives, but it seems as if he would scarcely get through the night." Do you go away and say, "Oh, he will not die; for I have expected, for several days, to hear that he has passed away"? Oh, no! but each time you hear the report, you feel, "Well, it is so much nearer the end." And so is our Master's coming; it is getting nearer every hour, so let us keep on expecting it. That glorious advent shall end our weary waiting days, it shall end our conflicts with infidelity and priestcraft, it shall put an end to all our futile endeavors; and when the great Shepherd shall appear in his glory, then shall every faithful under-shepherd and all his flock appear with him, and then shall the day break, and the shadows flee away. As to the shadows fleeing; what are those shadows that are to fly at his approach? The types and shadows of the ceremonial law were all finished when Christ appeared the first time; but many shadows still remain, the shadows of our doubts, the grim mysterious shadows of our fears, the shadows of sin, so black, so dense, the shadows of abounding unbelief, ten thousand shadows. When he cometh, these shall all flee away; and with them shall go heaven and earth, the heaven and earth that now are, for what are these but shadows? All things that are unsubstantial shall pass away when he appeareth; when the day breaks, then shall everything but that which is eternal and invisible pass away. We are glad that it shall be so; and we pray that soon the day may break, and the shadows flee away. This, then, is our prospect. II. Now I want to occupy a few minutes of your time in considering OUR POSTURE "until the day break, and the shadows flee away." We are here, like soldiers on guard, waiting for the dawn. It is night, and the night is deepening; how shall we occupy ourselves until the day break, and the shadows flee away? Well, first, we will wait in the darkness with patient endurance as long as God appoints it. Whatever of shadow is yet to come, whatever of cold damp air and dews of the night is yet to fall upon us, we will bear it. Soldiers of the cross, you must not wish to avoid these shadows; he who has called you to this service knew that it would be night time, and he called you to night duty; and being put upon the night watch, keep at your post. It is not for any of us to say, "We will desert because it is so dark." Has not the thought sometimes grossed your mind, "I am not succeeding; I will run away"? Have you not often felt, like Jonah, that you would go to Tarshish that you might escape from delivering your Master's message? Oh, do not so! The day will break, and the shadows flee away; and until then, watch through the night, and fear not the shadows. Play the man, remembering through what a sevenfold night your Master passed, when, in Gethsemane, he endured even to a bloody sweat for you. When, on the gross, even his mid-day was midnight, what must have been the darkness over his spirit? He bore it; then bear you it. Let no thought of fear pass over your mind; or, if it does, let not your heart be troubled, but rise above your fear until the day break, and the shadows flee away. Be of good courage, soldiers of Christ, and still wait on in patient endurance. What next are we to do until the day break? Why, let there be hopeful watching. Keep your eyes towards the East, and look for the first grey sign of the coming morning. "Watch!" Oh, how little is done of this kind of work! We scarcely watch as we ought against the devil; but how little do we watch for the coming of our Master! Look for every sign of his appearing, and be ever listening for the sound of his chariot wheels. Keep the candle burning in the window, to let him see that you are awake; keep the door on the latch, that when he cometh you may quickly open unto him. Hopefully watch until the day break, and the shadows flee away. Then, further, dear friends, while we maintain patient endurance and hopeful watching, let us give each other mutual encouragement. Men who have been shipwrecked will give each other a hand, and say, "Brother, mayhap we shall escape after all." Now that it is midnight all around, let every Christian give his fellow-soldier a grip of his hand. Courage, brothers; the Lord has not forgotten us. We are in the dark, and cannot see him; but he can see us, and he knows all about us, and maybe he will come, walking on the stormy waters in the middle watch of the night when our little bark seems ready to be sunk beneath the waves by the boisterous wind. I seem just now as though I were a soldier in this great guard-room, and as if we were sitting in these shadows, and perhaps in the darkness, and seemed very much dispirited; and I would say to you my comrades, "Come, brothers, let us cheer up. The Lord hath appeared to one and another of us. He hath given to some of us the light of his countenance, and he is coming back to welcome us all unto himself. Let us not be dismayed; our glorious Leader forgets not the weakest and feeblest of us, neither is any part of the battle-field beyond the reach of the great Captain's eye. He sees which way the struggle is going, and he has innumerable reserves, which he will bring up at the right time. I seem to hear the music of his horse's hoofs even now. He is coming who shall turn the scale in the worst moment of the conflict, for the battle is the Lord's, and he will deliver the enemy into our hand. Let no man's heart fail him because of yonder Goliath; the God who has raised up men to slay the lion and the bear, will yet find a David and a smooth stone to kill this mighty giant. Wherefore, brothers, be of good courage." What further should we do in the dark? Well, one of the best things to do in the dark is to stand still and keep our place. "Until the day break and the shadows flee away," let us keep our place, and firmly maintain our position. A brother who sat at the back of me, twenty years ago, dropped in again recently to hear me preach; and he said to me, after the service, that he had been back in America, and come over here again after twenty years, and he added, "It is the same old story, Spurgeon, as when I was here before; you are sticking to the same old gospel" I replied, "Yes, and if you will come in twenty years' time, if God spares me, I shall still be sticking to the same old gospel, for I have nailed my colors to the mast, and I do not mean to have anything to do with this new-fangled progressive theology." To me, the gospel came to perfection long ago in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and it can never go beyond that perfection. We preach nothing but that gospel which has saved our own souls, and saved the souls of the myriads who have gone to their eternal rest, and we do not intend preaching anything else until somebody can find us something better, and that will not be to-morrow, nor the day after, nor as long as the world stands. It is dark, very dark, so we just stop where we are, in steadfast confidence in the Lord who has placed us where we are. We are not going to plunge on in a reckless manner, we mean to look before we leap; and as it is too dark to look, we will not leap, but will just abide here hard by the cross, battling with every adversary of the truth as long as we have a right hand to move in the name of the Almighty God, "until the day break, and the shadows flee away." What else ought we to do? Keep up a careful separateness from the works of darkness that are going on all around us. If it seems dark to you, gather up your skirts, and gird up your loins. The more sin abounds in the world, the more ought the Church of God to seek after the strictest holiness. If ever there was an age that wanted back again the sternest form of Puritanism, it is this age. If ever there was a time when we needed the old original stamp of Methodists, we need them now, a people separated unto God, a people that have nothing to do but to please God and to save souls, a people that will not in any way bow themselves to the fashions of the time. For my part, I would like to see a George Fox come back among us, ay, Quaker as he was, to bear such a testimony as he did bear in the power of the Spirit of God against the evils of his time. God make us to feel that now, in the dark, we cannot be even as lenient as we might have been in brighter days towards the sin that surrounds us! Are any of you tempted into "society" so-called, and into the ways of that society? Every now and then, those who read the papers get some little idea of what is going on in "society." The stench that comes from "society" tells us what it must be like, and makes us wish to keep clear of it. The awful revelations that were once before made, which caused us to be sick with shame and sorrow, might be made again; for there is just the same foulness and filthiness beneath the surface of the supposed greater decency. O Christian people, if you could but know, as the most of you ought not to know, how bad this world is, you would not begin to talk about its wonderful improvements, or to question the doctrine of human depravity. We are going on, according to some teachers, by "evolution" into something; if I might prognosticate what it is, I should say that it is into devils that many men are being evolved. They are going down, down, down, save where eternal grace is begetting in the heart of men a higher and better and nobler nature, which must bear its protest against the ignorance or hypocrisy which this day talks about the improvements of our civilization, and the progress that we are making towards God. "Until the day break, and the shadows flee away," keep yourselves to your Lord, and hear you this voice sounding through the darkness, the voice of a wisdom that sees more than you see, "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty." "Until the day break, and the shadows flee away," lift your hands to heaven, and pledge yourselves to walk a separated pilgrim life, until he cometh before whose face heaven and earth shall flee away. III. Now I close by noticing OUR PETITION: "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." I am not going to preach upon that part of our text, but only just to urge you to turn it into prayer. We have to wait, brothers and sisters; we have to wait in the darkness, cheered here and there with the light from a golden lamp that glows with the light of God. The world lieth in darkness, but we are of God, little children, therefore this must be our prayer to our Well-beloved, "Come unto us." "Turn to me, O my Beloved, for thou hast turned away from me, or from thy Church. Turn again, I beseech thee. Pardon my lukewarmness, forgive my indifference. Turn to me again, my Beloved. O thou Husband of my soul, if I have grieved thee, and thou hast hidden thy face from me, turn again unto me! Smile thou, for then shall the day break, and the shadows flee away. Come to me, my Lord, visit me once again." Put up that prayer, beloved. The prayer of the spouse is in this poetic form: "Come over the mountains of division." As we look out into the darkness, what little light there is appears to reveal to us Alp upon Alp, mountain upon mountain, and our Beloved seems divided from us by all these hills. Now our prayer is, that he would come over the top of them; we cannot go over the top of them to him, but he can come over the top; of them to us, if he think fit to do so. Like the hinds' feet, this blessed Hind of the morning can come skipping over the hills with utmost speed to visit and to deliver us. Make this your prayer, Great Master, sweetly-beloved One, come over the mountains of division, and come quickly, like a roe or a young hart. Come easily, come unexpectedly; as roes and harts let no man know when they will come, so come thou unto me." I wish that, even while we are sitting here, our Divine Lord would come to our spirits with all his ravishing charms, so that we might cry, "Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Ammi-nadib." Have you never felt an influence steal over you which has lifted you out of yourself, and made you go as on burning wheels with axles hot with speed, where before you had been sluggish and dull? Our Well-beloved can come and visit us, all on a sudden, without any trouble to himself. It cost him his life's blood to come to earth to save us; it will cost him nothing to come just now to bless us. Remember what he has already done; for, having done so much, he will not deny you the lesser blessing of coming to you. Are you saved by his grace? Then do not think that he will refuse you fellowship with himself. Pray for it now. Before we come to the communion table, pray for it, and while you are sitting there, let this be your cry, "Come to me, my Beloved, over the hills of division; come as a roe or a young hart;" and he will come to you. Put up your prayer in the sweet words we sang just now,

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

Oh, that this might be one of those happy seasons when you shall not be fed by the preacher's talk, but by the Master revealing himself to you! May God graciously grant it! I may be addressing some who long to find the Savior. This morning, I got, from a friend who came in to see me, an illustration which I will give to you. He told me and oh, how he made my heart rejoice! that, six years ago, he was, so the apostle says, "going about to establish his own righteousness." He is a man of reputation, and when a friend sent him some of my sermons to read, he thought to himself, "What do I want these sermons for? I am as good so any man can be." But he did read them, and the friend asked him, "Have you read those sermons of Mr. Spurgeon's that I sent you?" "Yes," he replied, "I have; but I have got no good out of them." "Why not?" "Why," he said, "he has spoiled me; he has dashed my hopes to the ground, he has taken away my comfort and my joy; I thought myself as good as anybody living, and he has made me feel as if I were rotten right through." "Oh!" said his friend, "that medicine is working well, you must take some more of it." But the more of the sermons he read, the more unhappy he became, the more he saw the hollowness of all his former hopes; and he came into a great darkness, and the day did not break, and the shadows did not flee away. But, on a sudden, he was brought out into the light. As he told me the story, this morning, his eyes were wet, and so were mine. This is how the Lord led him into peace; I wish the telling of it might bring the same blessing to some of you. He said, "I went with my friend to fish for salmon in Loch Awe. I threw a fly, and as I threw it, a fish leaped up, and took it in a moment." "There," said the friend to him, "that is what you have to do with Christ, what that fish did with your fly. I am sure I do not know whether the fly took the fish, or the fish took the fly; it was both, the bait took the fish, and the fish took the bait. Do just so with Christ, and do not ask any questions. Leap up at him, take him in, lay hold of him." The man did so, and at once he was saved; I wish that somebody else would do the came. I never ask you to answer the question whether it is Christ who takes you or you who take Christ, for both things will happen at the same moment. Will you have him? Will you have him? If you will have him, he has you. If you are willing to have Christ, Christ has already made you willing in the day of his power. Throw yourself upon Christ, as the salmon opened his mouth, and took in the bait; so do you take Christ into your very soul. Writing to the Romans, Paul says, "The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth." What is the thing to do with that which is in your mouth when you want to keep it? Why, swallow it, of course! Do so with Christ, let him go right down into your soul I put him into your mouth, as it were, while I am preaching. Accept him, receive him, and he is yours directly. Then shall the day break, and the shadows flee away, and your Beloved shall have come to you over the mountains of division, never to leave you again, but to abide with you for ever. God bless you! Amen.

Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 2". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/spe/song-of-solomon-2.html. 2011.
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