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CHAPTER XXII.

THE SONG OF SONGS.

DIVINE UNION, OR THE LOVE OF CHRIST AND THE CHURCH.

Keynote: 2 Cor. xi. 2.

"Oh! bless thee, bless thee, treacherous world

That thou dost play so false a part;

And drive, like sheep into the fold,

Our loves into our Saviour's heart."

THE Song of Songs is in wonderful contrast to the book of Ecclesiastes. There the world is searched for an object to satisfy the affections of the sanctified heart, but it is not found. Here the Object is revealed, and the heart has entered into the richest enjoyment of it. This little book gives us the fifth and last stage in the developing series concerning sanctification, and is the consummation of all the soul's deepest longings. It can only be understood, I believe, by those who have passed through all the preceding stages. Self must die, as in Job, and 346 the hidden resurrection life must be known, as in Psalms divine wisdom must be submitted to, as in Proverbs; and the world must be tried by this wisdom, and found to be utter vanity, as in Ecclesiastes; before the heart is prepared for the experience set forth in this mystic song. Through emptying to fulness is always the Divine way. And the heart must have learned for itself, the hollowness of all earthly things, before it is able to receive that fulness of the love of Christ, and to realize that conscious union with Him, which are typified in this wonderful little book. The world must go out, before Christ can come in. And in Ecclesiastes, the departure of the world has prepared the way for this allegorical picture of Christ's incoming. He that drinketh of the water the world giveth, shall thirst again, but he that drinketh of this water, shall never thirst.

This Song would seem to be the Old Testament typical expression of the truth set forth in Eph. v. 2333 of the wondrous union of Christ and His Church. "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it: that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that 347 it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church."

The same figure is also used in many other places in Scripture to express this glorious oneness. The Church is called "the Bride, the Lamb's wife;" the Lord Jesus speaks of Himself as the "Bridegroom;" and the moment of the final union in Heaven is called the "marriage supper of the Lamb." In answer to the question as to why His disciples did not mourn or fast, Jesus said: "Can the children of the bride-chamber mourn as long as the Bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the Bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days." Matt. ix. 15, see also Mark ii. 19, 20, and Luke v. 34, 35. John the Baptist speaks of Christ as the Bridegroom, when asked who he himself was. "Ye yourselves bear me witness," was his answer, “that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before Him. He that hath the bride is the Bridegroom; but the friend of the Bridegroom, which standeth and heareth Him, rejoiceth greatly because of the Bridegroom's voice: this, my joy, therefore, is fulfilled. John iii. 28, 29. Our Lord Himself speaks of His own 348 return as the return of the Bridegroom, "Then" (that is in the day of His return) "shall the kingdom of Heaven be likened to ten virgins which took their lamps and went forth to meet the Bridegroom. . . . While the Bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him. . . . And while the foolish went to buy, the Bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with Him to the marriage: and the door was shut. . . . Watch, therefore for ye know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of Man cometh." Matt. xxv. 1-13. And, finally, in the Revelation of John, the voice of the great multitude is heard to say: "Alleluia! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad, and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And He saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God." Rev. xix. 7, 8. Also John describes what he saw, "And I, John, saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. . . . And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife." Rev. xxi. 2, 9.

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In the Old Testament, also, this figure of the Bridegroom and the Bride is prophetically used. "Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah, and thy Land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee." Is. 62: 4, 5.  And again in Hosea ii. 14-20. "And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi" (that is my husband); "and shalt call me no more Baali" (that is my Lord). "For l will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name. . . . And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the Lord." And yet again in Isaiah 54:5, is the assertion made with unmistakable clearness, "For thy Maker is thy husband; the Lord of hosts is His name; and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall He be called."

Such, then, is the mystery of the soul's divine Bridegroom, and the Song of Songs tells us about it. Well may it be called the Song of Songs, for never before nor since has any song, containing such a wondrous story as this been sung by human lips. It is the revelation of a love that does indeed “pass knowledge: the love between 350 Christ and the soul of the believer. It is the fulfilling of the Lord's own marvellous words: "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you."

But it is not every Christian heart that can sing this song. Origen says, concerning it: "As we have been taught by Moses that there are not only holy places, but a Holy of holies, that there are not only Sabbaths, but Sabbaths of Sabbaths, so now we are taught, by the pen of Solomon, that there are not only songs, but a Song of songs. Blessed truly, is he who enters into the holy place, but more blessed he who enters into the Holy of holies. Blessed is he who keepeth the Sabbath, but more blessed he who keepeth the Sabbath of Sabbaths. So, too, blessed is he who understands songs, and sings them, for no one does sing save on high festivals; but much more blessed is he who sings this "Son of songs." And as he who enters into the holy place, still needs much ere he is able to proceed into the Holy of holies; and as he who keeps the Sabbath enjoined on the people by the Lord, yet wants many things that he may keep the Sabbath of Sabbaths, so, too, he who traverses all the songs of Holy Writ, finds it no easy thing to ascend to the Song of songs. Thou must needs go out of Egypt, and issued thence, cross the Red Sea, that thou mayest sing the first song, saying: "I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously." Ex. xv. And even though thou mayest have sung this first song, thou art still far from the Song of songs. Pass spiritually through the wilderness, till thou comest to the well which the 351 princes dug, that allow mayest there sing the second song. Afterwards approach the borders of the Holy Land, and, standing on Jordan's bank, sing the song of Moses: "Give ear, oh ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth." Yet again, thou needest soldiers, and the inheritance of the holy land, and that Deborah should prophesy to thee and judge thee, that thou mayest utter that hymn also, which is contained in the book of Judges: "Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves." Ascending to the record of the Kings, come to the song when David escaped from the hands of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul, and said: "The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer." Thence thou must reach Isaiah, that thou mayest say with him: 'I will sing to my Beloved, a song of my Beloved touching His vineyard.' And when thou hast traversed all these, go up yet higher, that thou mayest, with pure soul, cry unto the Bridegroom this Song of songs."

For in truth, this song utters holy secrets, which only God's Spirit can teach, and which none but the deeply spiritual can understand. And these secrets are the secrets of an infinite and Divine love. St. Bernard says concerning it, "This song excels all other songs of the Old Testament; they being, for the most part, songs of deliverance from enemies, Solomon for such had no occasion. In the height of glory, singular in wisdom, abounding in riches, secure in peace, he here, by Divine 352 Inspiration, sings the praises of Christ and His Church, the grace of holy love, the mysteries of the Eternal Marriage; yet all the while, like Moses, putting a veil before his face, because at that time there were few or none that could gaze upon such glories. . . .  This song is not heard without; it is not sounded forth in public concourse; she only hears its notes who sings it, and He for whom it is sung -- the Bridegroom and the Bride."

In the very latest Commentary on the Bible, edited by Canon Cook, of Exeter, Eng., we find in the Introduction to the Song of Solomon this passage, "And shall we then regard it as a mere fancy which for so many ages past has been wont to find in the pictures and melodies of the Song of Songs, types and echoes of the actings and emotions of the highest Love, of Love Divine in its relations to Humanity; which if dimly discerned through their aid by the Synagogue, have been amply revealed in the Gospel to the Church. Shall we not still claim to trace in the noble and gentle history thus presented, foreshadowings of the infinite condescensions of Incarnate Love? -- that Love which first stooping in human form to visit us in our low estate in order to seek out and win its object, Ps. cxxxvi. 23, and then raising along with Himself a sanctified Humanity to the heavenly places, Eph. ii. 6, is finally awaiting there an invitation from the mystic Bride to return to earth once more and seal the Union for Eternity.”

It is manifest from all these extracts, that the spiritual 353 mind of the Church in all ages has received this Song as the expression of a mystic Divine union, and that as such it has brought richest blessings to many childlike souls.

There are many forms of love between heart and heart, there is filial love, and brotherly love, and parental love and the love of friendship. But besides all these, and different from them all, there is the love of espousals, and it is of this sort of love our little book speaks. It is true that we do love our Lord as children love a parent, as brethren love brethren, as a friend loves a friend. But all these do not after all completely meet our need, nor fill our capacity. Our hearts are susceptible of a more absorbing affection than any of them, and Christ is the offered Object of it. He has loved us Himself with a love passing knowledge, and He wants our utmost love in return. He wants us to be one with Him, as He is one with the Father. He has bought us for Himself at infinite cost and pains, and now He seeks to win our whole soul's devotion. It is intended that there should be an interchange of affection between our hearts and His. We love Him, it is true, because He first loved us, but we are commanded nevertheless to love Him absorbingly, unutterably. supremely. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might," is the "first and great commandment." And when we have been enabled to obey this command, and have found our hearts possessed by this supreme affection, we need some 354 fitting expression of it, such as we find here. "Let Him kiss me with blue kisses of His mouth; for Thy love is better than wine." "As the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my Beloved among the sons. I sat down under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and His banner over me was love. Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love. His left hand is under my head, and His right hand doth embrace me. I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love till He pleases." "My Beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. . . .  His mouth is most sweet; yea, He is altogether lovely. This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend, O daughters of Jerusalem." i. 3-7 and v. 10-16. Such is the impassioned language of this mystic song.

The soul here makes her boast in the Lord's love. She does not refuse to listen to the tenderest expressions of it, nor to tell out her own deepest emotions. "My Beloved is mine, and I am His," is the underlying consciousness through it all, which warrants the most blessed confidence and freedom.

An English writer, whose name I do not know, has written a very delightful book entitled "Introduction to the Canticles," * in which he says: -- "The Canticles do not give us the ways of filial affection, nor of the 355 affection due to a benefactor. But they give us, I believe, the actings of the love of espousals, in both Christ's heart and ours. The joy of hearing the Bridegroom's voice, I may say, is fulfilled here in the heart of the saint, as it was in the soul of John the Baptist, . . . . It is the love which warrants personal intimacy of the nearest and dearest kind that breathes in this lovely little book; and if these affections be not understood as passing between Christ and the saint, if we do not, without reserve, allow this satisfaction in each other, our souls will not enter into much of the communion which the Scriptures provide for. . . . Love takes different forms in the heart and regards its object in many different ways; but the love of which this Song speaks has a glory peculiarly its own. It warrants the deepest intimacies. There is no settling of oneself for the other's presence. There is full ease in going out and coming in. Expressions of love are not deemed intrusive here; nay, they are sanctioned as being due and comely. The heart knows its right to indulge itself over its object, and that, too, without check or shame. This is the glory of this affection. The love of pity, of gratitude, or of complacency must act decorously, and in proper form. But the love of kindred, the love of those who dwell in one house, and whom nature or the hand of God has bound together, feels its right to gratify itself, and is not fearful of being rebuked. This is its distinguishing boast. Nothing admits this but itself. This is in a full and deep sense, personal affection. 356 . . . And it is the richest feast of the heart. . . .

"It is a love which commands the whole being of the one in whom it seats itself. As to service, it makes it welcome. To say that service for the object of this affection is perfect freedom, is far too cold. It makes service infinitely grateful, even though it call for self-denial and weariness. And it can render its offering without caring for any eye or heart to approve it, but that of the one whom it has made its object. It cares not that others should be able to esteem its ways. It has all the desired fruit of its service, if its object approve it, and give but His presence at the end of it. As to society, this affection wants none but that of its object. If there be no weariness felt in service, as we have been saying, so is there no irksomeness known in solitude. All that is cared for is the presence of that One who commands the heart. There is no sense of solitude, if that One alone be present; there is no sense of satiety, though that One be alway present. As to authority in the soul, it holds its place, I need not say, unrivalled. It is the man of the heart. It breaks the bands, and cuts the cords of other desires. It makes us to undervalue all things but the one. . . . Other things are esteemed only according to their connection with this. And it will control the wrong, and cultivate the right tendencies of the heart. For occasions which might wound vanity or gratify pride are not valued nor pursued, while we retain it; and yet to approve ourselves there, we will nerve the heart and hand to great and generous ways

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"What intenseness is here, and what purity also. It refreshes the soul to think that we have been created susceptible of such an affection, and to know that Christ is the offered Object of it. He proposes Himself to it. He claims the supreme place in our hearts. 'He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me.' Whatever passion of the soul be moved, it is God's right to have the highest exercise of it towards Himself. . . . This may sound a solemn truth, but it is a happy one. Is it not blessed to know, that our Lord claims our hearts and their affections? Have any of us read the 'first and great commandment' without at least sometimes rejoicing in the grace that would make such a demand upon us? Is it nothing to us that God Himself values our love, that He says to us, 'My son, give me thy heart'? . . . And we want these affections to make us happy, and to set us free. It is the divine method of delivering us from the tyranny of carnal or worldly desires. It is the Spirit's way of spoiling other attractions of their power to seduce and fill the heart, and of lifting the soul above the frettings of low anxieties. "Would that this love were more shed abroad in our hearts, beloved! How should we learn, then, to entertain Christ as this affection entertains or embalms its object. And what a Heaven it will be, when He is ours in this way, feeding this fire in our souls, and giving us to know in Himself and His beauties, this seraph love, without chill, for ever and ever!"

Such is the Song of songs. It is the soul's longing 358 after, and satisfaction in her Beloved. "Tell Him that I am sick of love" is its cry. "Tell me, oh thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon."

The question of the ground of our acceptance with God, is not touched upon in this book. The whole expression is that of a soul that knows its place of union, but longs for a fuller manifestation of it; and the faults mourned, are all only such faults as are based upon the closest intimacy. No open transgression or conscious disobedience are lamented, or even apparently thought possible, only a little hesitation in responding to His call, a momentary coldness, a temporary slothfulness of soul; faults, the very nature of which reveal the fine spiritual sense of the heart that can mourn them.

There is a manifest development of the "apprehending of that for which we are apprehended of Christ Jesus" in the experience of this bride. In the first chapter she longs after the Beloved. In the second chapter He is found, and her heart is made conscious of His manifested love, and exclaims rapturously, "My beloved is mine, and I am His." In the third chapter something, a little slothfulness of spirit, perhaps, has caused a temporary loneliness and darkness, and the soul has again to seek her Beloved, and again she finds Him and rests in His love. "By night on my bed I sought Him whom my soul loveth: I sought Him, but I found Him not. I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek Him whom my soul loveth:  359 I sought Him, but I found Him not. The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye Him whom my soul loveth? It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found Him whom my soul loveth" I held Him, and would not let Him go, until I had brought Him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me. I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes and by the hinds of the field that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till He please."

In chapter iv. He declares what she is to Him, that her heart may be reassured, after its temporary slothfulness. "Thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee." "Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!" It is hard for the natural man to accept such love as this, as really existing in the heart of the Lord towards His people. We can comprehend how it is that we should love Him, but that He should love us, literally and actually love us, with the intensity and delight here expressed, seems an impossibility. And yet it is all, and far more, contained in our Lord's own words, "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you." Thou, O Father, hast loved them as Thou hast loved me." What an "as" and "so" are here! And how little of this road have our souls as yet travelled, beloved, that we find it so hard to comprehend this lovely mystic song!

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Chap. v. gives us another experience. Again a little hesitation to respond to the call of the Beloved for communion, deprives the bride of His presence, and in the desolation of her heart she goes out a second time to seek Him. "I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my Beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them? My Beloved put in His hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for Him. . . . . I opened to my Beloved, but my Beloved had withdrawn Himself and was gone: my soul failed when He spake; I sought Him but I could not find Him; I called Him but He gave me no answer. . . . I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my Beloved, that ye tell Him that I am sick of love." v. 1-8. The intensity of her desire, arouses the interest of those she questions, and they ask, "What is thy Beloved more than another be- loved, O thou fairest among women? What is thy Beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us?" This calls out her ardent praises of her Beloved, and in praising Him, she is taught of God where to find Him, and advances a step onward in her apprehension of the relationship between them. "My Beloved is gone down into His garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens and to gather lilies. I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine. He feedeth 361 among the lilies." vi. 2, 3. Before it was, "My Beloved is mine, and I am His." The chief thought then was her possession of Him. But now it is, "I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine." Her soul has taken hold of the deeper truth here, her Beloved's ownership of her. It is blessed to have Christ for ours, but infinitely more blessed for us to be His. If He is ours only, we may fail to keep Him, but if we are His, He can never cease to keep us. The Shepherd does in a sense belong to the sheep, but the secret of their safety lies in this, that they belong to Him. This, however, is an advanced apprehension of our relationship to Christ. Our first realization is always of our ownership of Him, and it needs some such exercises of soul as this Bride had gone through, to teach us the deeper truth.

In chaps. vi. and vii., the Beloved whom she has thus regained, tells out her preciousness afresh in stronger words than ever. He calls her "My dove, my undefiled," and says, "How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights." vii, 6. And He expresses the intensity of His love in wondrous words that can be received only by that heart which has come indeed to the utter end of self, "Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me!" Can it be indeed possible that our love is this to our Lord? The bride here believes the words of her Beloved, and exclaims in answer, for the third time, but with a far deeper expression than before of the amazing yet blessed truth, "I am 362 my Beloved's, and His desire is toward me." vii. 10. Her possession of the Beloved is left out altogether now; it is enough for her that she belongs to Him. And her soul has reached the consciousness at last that she is precious to Him also, "His desire is toward me." She has always known that she desired Him, but that He should desire her is something deeper and harder to learn. And yet it is most blessedly true; as other parts of the Scriptures abundantly testify. "Hearken, O daughter, and consider, incline thine ear, forget also thine own people and thy father's house, so shall thy king greatly desire thy beauty." Ps. xlv. 11. "Now, therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then shall ye be a peculiar treasure unto me." Ez. xix. 5. "For the Lord taketh pleasure in His people." Ps. cxlix. 4. "Neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzibah" (i. e., my delight is in her) "and thy land Beulah" (i. e., married): "for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married." Is. lxii. 4.

This is the third time that the close union and mutual affection of the Bridegroom and the Bride are thus mentioned in this Song. First it was, "My Beloved is mine, and I am His." ii. 16. Next it was, "I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine." vi. 3. And here it is, "I am my Beloved's, and His desire is toward me." vii. 10. St. Ambrose says concerning these three sayings, that they give us a threefold diversity in the manner of the Bride's expression, which denote the three stages of 363 her progress in the love of God; to wit, her beginning, advance, and perfection. First she thinks most of possessing Christ; next she realizes chiefly that He possesses her; and at last she rejoices in the unspeakable knowledge that His desires are toward her, and that she is necessary to His joy. This latest apprehension is the fulfilment of Paul's prayer for the Ephesian christians in Eph. i. 17, 18, "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened: that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints." Christians may learn at an early stage in their experience something of the riches of their inheritance in Christ; but it is a far deeper lesson, and one often learned far later, to know the riches of His inheritance in us. The bride here had learned it at last, and the immediate result is, that she who in the beginning had been invited by the Bridegroom to come with Him, now invites Him to come with her. "Come my Beloved, let us go forth into the field: let us lodge in the villages. Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish; whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth: there will I give Thee my loves. The mandrakes give a smell, and at our gated are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for Thee, O my Beloved." vii.11-13. She has realized so fully the "riches of His 364 inheritance in the saints," that she can confidently call upon Him to come with her and enjoy the pleasant fruits she has hid up for Him. This is indeed to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge. May our Lord Himself reveal it to us!

Chap. viii. appears to be a sort of recapitulation of the whole wondrous story. The longing and the satisfying of that longing, accompanied by a glorious assertion of the might and purity of true love, are here again set forth, 1-7. The "little sister," type of the soul who has but just begun to believe on Christ, and to be fed with milk, is here encouraged to look for and expect an increase, 8, 9. And, finally, in the last verse, the Bride reiterates her invitation to her Beloved. "Make haste, my Beloved, and be thou like to a roe, or to a young hart upon the mountain of spices." Reminding us of the closing verses of Revelation also, "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly; Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."

With this book the developing series concerning the heart exercises of God's people as to sanctification, closes, for the soul has made its final discovery, and has learned at last the all-sufficiency of the love of Christ to swallow up and extinguish everything else! And fears, perplexities, disappointments, mysteries, questionings -- all are lost in the ocean of Divine love! It has entered here into that realized union with the Lord, which is the consummation of Christian experience, and which includes within itself all possible gift and blessing. Earth 365 can contain no more than this union. And Heaven itself will only be the perfection and completion of it, when the Bride shall sit down forever beside her Bridegroom, upon His throne, and share His eternal glory.

Beloved, have our hearts entered into this "banqueting house" where joy unspeakable and full of glory awaits us? Have we consciously realized this wondrous union, and are our souls rejoicing in its unspeakable delights? Has this blessed "mystery" of our faith been revealed to us, and are our hearts opened wide to receive it? Are we walking, with the step of a possessor, through this marvellous palace of delights, and claiming each fresh revelation of its unutterable secrets as our own? It is a palace open to all, though all do not enter it; it is a union intended for every one, though but few apprehend it; it is a mystery revealed to the babes, but hid from the wise and prudent. For our Divine Bridegroom Himself prayed while on earth "That they all may be one; as Thou Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us: . . . . I in them, and Thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; that the world may know that Thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as Thou hast loved me." "That they all may be one!" And let us praise the Lord for this little word "all"! And let us act on it with the simple faith of the bride about whom we have been reading, and yield ourselves to its sweet fulfillment. For to such as do, there will begin for them straightway, days of heaven upon earth. And then, in the blaze of this overmastering 366 and utterly satisfying love, the wonderful prayer in Eph. iii. 14-19 will be fulfilled, and they will be really able at last to "comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge," and will be filled to the very brim "with all the fulness of God."

"O Jesus, Jesus! dearest Lord! forgive me if I say

For very love, Thy sacred name a thousand times a day.

I love Thee so, I know not how my transports to control;

Thy love is like a burning fire within my very soul.

"Oh wonderful! that Thou shouldst let so vile a heart as mine

Love Thee with such a love as this, and make so free with Thine,

The craft of this wise world of ours poor wisdom seems to me;

Ah! dearest Jesus! I have grown childish with love of Thee.

"For thou to me art all in all, my honour and my wealth,

My soul's desire, my body's strength, my soul's eternal health.

Burn, burn, O Love! within my heart, burn fiercely night and day,

Till all the dross of earthly loves is burned, and burned away.

“O Light in darkness, Joy in grief, O Heaven begun on earth!

Jesus! my Love! my Treasure! who can tell what Thou art worth?

O Jesus! Jesus! sweetest Lord! what art Thou not to me?

Each hour brings joys before unknown, each day new liberty!

"What limit is there to Thee, Love? Thy flight where wilt thou stay?

On! on! our Lord is sweeter far to-day than yesterday.

O love of Jesus! Blessed love! so will it ever be;

Time cannot hold thy wondrous growth; no, nor eternity!

* J. B. Bateman, London, Publisher.

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