Son_5:16. He is altogether lovely. This is my Beloved; and this is my Friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.
WITH many it is a matter of surprise, that truly converted Christians should manifest such zeal in prosecuting their own ways, and in commending religion to all around them. The world see no such excellency in Christ as the true believer does; and therefore, whilst they cannot but acknowledge the superiority of the Christian’s walk, they ask, in a tone of self-justifying confidence, “What is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us [Note: ver. 9.]?” But, if they beheld the Saviour in his true character, so far would they be from wondering that his people loved and served him so ardently, that they would rather wonder at the coldness of their hearts towards him, and at the unprofitableness of their lives. To the above question the Church of old replies, in the words I have read to you: from which I shall take occasion to shew,
The excellency of Christ—
This is set forth in highly figurative language; agreeably to the tenour of the whole book, which abounds in allegory from beginning to end. The Church marks, under very sublime images, his beauty in every part—“his head, his locks, his eyes, his cheeks, his lips, his hands, his body, his legs, his countenance, his mouth;” and proclaims him, not only “the chiefest among ten thousand,” but “altogether lovely [Note: ver. 9–16.].” We will not attempt to follow the particular description here given; for we could never do justice to it. We will rather content ourselves with a general view of Christ, who is altogether lovely,
In his person—
[In himself he unites all the perfections of the Godhead, with every grace that can adorn humanity. “In him there was no spot or blemish;” insomuch that his bitterest enemies, after the severest possible scrutiny, were forced to confess, “We find in him no fault at all” — — —]
In his offices—
[These were altogether sustained for us, and executed for us; and they are precisely such as our necessities required. Did we need an atonement for our sins? He is our Great High Priest who offers that atonement; yea, and offers himself, too, as the sacrifice which alone was sufficient to expiate our guilt. Did we need to be instructed relative to the way in which alone God would accept a returning sinner? He became our Prophet, to make known to us the mind and will of God, and to reveal to us inwardly, by his Spirit, what he has outwardly proclaimed to us in his word. Did we need to be delivered from all our spiritual enemies? He yet further assumed the Kingly office, that he might rescue us from our bondage, and make us partakers with him of all the glory and felicity of heaven. It is not possible to find in man a want for which provision is not made in him, to the utmost extent of our necessities; and which he will not supply to all who call upon him — — —]
In all his intercourse with his people—
[O, who can conceive the extent of his condescension and grace? How ready is he, at all times, to “draw nigh to those who draw nigh to him;” to “manifest himself to them, as he does not unto the world;” and to impart to them all the consolation and strength which they look for at his hands! “In all the afflictions of his people he is himself afflicted;” and to such a degree is he “touched with the feeling of their infirmities,” that every trial of theirs is felt by him as his own. “Whosoever toucheth us, toucheth the apple of his eye.” In a word, there is no weakness which he will not succour: no want which he will not supply: nor shall there be any bounds to his communications, except what are fixed by our capacity to receive them — — —]
With this view of Christ’s excellency, it is impossible not to connect,
The blessedness of those who believe in him—
Between him and his believing people there is the closest union that can be imagined.
He stands pre-eminent in their regards—
[So says the Church; “This is my Beloved.” It is the Spouse that speaks; and here she claims him as her Divine Husband. Now, conceive a person excelling all others in every endowment, both of body and mind; conceive of whole nations acknowledging him as the Benefactor of the human race; and conceive of him as not only thus lauded for former benefits conferred, but as at the very time scattering in rich profusion all manner of blessings upon millions of mankind: I say, conceive that you behold such an one surrounded by applauding and adoring multitudes; and then think how happy that woman must be who can say, “This is my Beloved;” I have a right in him which no other human being has; all that he is, is mine; and all that he has, is mine. I say, my Brethren, that we cannot conceive of felicity on earth greater than hers. Yet, my Brethren, this is yours, if only you believe in Christ. He is your Beloved; and you may claim precisely the same interest in him as if there were not another, either in heaven or on earth, to claim it with you. What happiness, then, is there to be compared with yours; when it is not a mere man, however excellent, but your incarnate God himself, to whom you stand in this near, this glorious relation?]
You also stand high in his regards—
[Yes, the regard is mutual. You might possibly love one in whom there was not a reciprocal attachment. But it is not so in this case. He calls you “The dearly beloved of his soul [Note: Jer_12:7.].” As surely therefore as you can say, “This is my Beloved,” you may add, with confidence, “This is my Friend.” Yes; Jesus himself says, “I call you not servants, but friends.” Nor can you imagine any act of friendship which he will not most gladly execute for you. “Abraham was the friend of God.” See, then, what God wrought for him! and know, that that, yea, and infinitely more, will the Lord Jesus Christ work for you in the time of your necessity. On every occasion will he come to you, to counsel you by his wisdom, to uphold you by his power, and to enrich you with his benefits. We are told. “There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother:” verily, there is no brother in the universe, that will be so entirely at your command as he. Only apply to him, and spread your wants before him, and you shall never go empty away. On the contrary, “He will do exceeding abundantly for you, above all that you can ask or think.”]
Now then let me ask of you, my Brethren,
“What think ye of Christ?”
[This was a question which Christ himself put to his Disciples: and I now put it to you. You know what is said, “To them that believe, he is precious,” even preciousness itself. Is he viewed in this light by you? This will determine whether ye be true Believers, or not: for in every Believer, and in him exclusively, this grace is found. Verily, if you are really his, you will say, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee” — — — Your sublimest joy on earth must be to say, “My beloved is mine, and I am his [Note: Son_2:16; Son_6:3.].”]
How are you endeavouring to requite his love?
[If you love Christ, it must be not in word only, but in deed and in truth. Are you then living in the enjoyment of his presence? — — — Are you consecrating yourselves unreservedly to his service? — — — Above all, Are you seeking to grow up into his image, so that he may be as well satisfied with contemplating your relation to him, as you are in viewing his to you? See how, in the chapter before my text, Christ views his bride [Note: Son_4:1.]: see how he views her with admiration, as it were, from head to foot [Note: Son_4:2-6.]; and what a blessed testimony he bears respecting her [Note: Son_4:7.]. Let it be your ambition so to walk before him, that he may testify the same of you; and that the union which has thus been commenced between you on earth, may be consummated in heaven for evermore.]