Noted biblical writers on dispensational lines - mostly of the persuasion known to the world as "Plymouth Brethren"



Chapter Five

VERSE I. " I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey I have drunk my wine with my milk , eat, O friends, drink, yea drink abundantly, O beloved." These different fruits may represent the different results of the Spirit's operations in souls by the truth. There may be tears, bitter as myrrh, flowing from one, under a deep sense of past failure. The Spirit of God having applied the truth in power to the conscience, the heart is broken. Its deep fountains are opened up,and bitterest tears of deepest anguish flow like a river. And now out comes, in unreserved confession before God, the whole matter. Second causes are lost sight of, in the searching light of God's holy presence. " Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight."

These are close quarters for a soul to be in with God. Though David's sin had been against his neighbour, and against the well-being of society, yet he says, " Against thee, thee only, have I sinned." All sin is against God; and it is a painful thing to have to do with God about our sin. But right into the presence chamber of the Holy One we must go, just as we are, if we would get rid of the awful burden of sin. There, and there only, can we find full relief. The weeping penitent must lay down the multitude of his sins, side by side with the multitude of God's tender mercies. Only there can he learn what that word meaneth, "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound."

The Father meets His child, blessed be His name, in the boundless grace of His heart, on the ground of the precious blood of Jesus. As the rising wave from the fathomless ocean hastens to meet and embrace the descending stream, and overflow all its limits, so does grace meet the penitent sinner, and obliterate for ever all trace of his sin. Its course, like a river, may have been long and deep, but now its very course and limits are untraceable.
"0 love divine, thou vast abyss
My sins are swallowed up in thee;
Covered is my unrighteousness
From condemnation I am free;
While Jesu's blood, through earth and skies,
Mercy I free, boundless mercy I cries."

Having passed through the experience of Psalm II, David could praise and worship God with a joyful heart according to the strains of Psalm ciii. "Bless the Lord, 0 my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, 0 my soul, and forget not all his benefits; who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destructtion; who crowneth with loving-kindness and tender mercies." Thus God's majesty, holiness, and truth have been maintained, sin judged in the light, the conscience cleared, the heart made happy, full communion restored, and the soul established in grace. The tears may have been more bitter than myrrh, but the results are sweeter than honey, and more fragrant to the heart of Christ than all spices.

The Lord finds every variety of fruit in the assemblies of His people. But with all that which is of the Spirit, He has the fullest fellowship and enjoyment. "I have gathered . . . . I have eaten . . . . I have drunk." He partakes of all the variety. He slights none. In the advanced disciple He may find that which indicates the strength and vigour of wine; while in the new-born babe there may be the sweet simplicity of milk. An infidel, chafed and annoyed by the beautiful simplicity of a believing child, who was speaking about the joy and happiness of being with Jesus for ever, said to her, "But what if Jesus be in hell ?" "Ah," replied the dear child, - "but it would not be hell if He were there." How simple, yet how unanswerable! How honouting - to the name-how tefreshing to the heart of Jesus! What hast thou for thy Lord, 0 my soul? What can He gather from thee - what can He eat - what can He drink of thine? What is sweeter than humility? What is more honouring to the Lord than entire dependence on Him? What more grateful to His heart than a daily, growing desire for the glory of God? - Many will partake of this royal supper, and enter into its joys.

Many, very many, are the "friends" of the Bridegroom. And all, in the day of His glory, will enter into His joy. Wondrous, long-looked-for day of heavenly and earthly glory! All hearts will be reached and touched with that joyous invitation. "Eat, 0 friends, drink, yea, drink abundantly, 0 beloved." The natural branches," long broken off from the stock of promise, shall, as the apostle aays, be grafted in again. "In that day "- the day of Israel's restoration -" the Lord shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root; Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit." (Isa. xxvii.) What a feast shall then be provided through restored Israel, for all nations! The face of the world shall be filled with fruit. "And in that mountain shall ,the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined." (Isa. xxv.) Again, "And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the Lord, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth: and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel. And I will sow her unto me in the earth" (Hosea 11) Here the figure is changed from ingrafting to sowing, as if God was going to do an. entire new thing in

"Now we know, from the New Testament," says a recent writer, "that in that day; the heavens will be occupied by Christ and His glorified saints. Jehovah will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth? Christ, in whom all things, both in heaven and earth, will then be gathered, will be the One to whom prayer shalt be addressed from all on earth, even as it will be through Him, and His glorified saints, that blessing will be universally administered. And the earth shall bear the corn, and the wine, and the oil. No want, no scarcity, even then. The voice of complaining will have ceased to be heard in the streets. Creation's universal groan will have been hushed, yea, it will have given place to universal hymns of gratitude and praise 'And they shall hear Jezreel.' Now, Jezreel, as scholars tell us, means 'the seed of God'; and this interpretation of the word is confirmed by what immediately follows, 'I will sow her (Israel) unto me in the earth.'

There shall be one unbroken chain of blessing, from the throne of Jehovah, the, great source of all, down to the enjoyment by mankind of all the blessings of this life, and the place in this wondrous chain filled by restored Israel is that of Jezreel, the seed of God, sown by Jehovah, and to Him in the earth and filling the face of the world with fruit. Jehovah - the heavens, occupied by Christ and the church in glory - the earth - restored Israel, or Jezreel, the seed of God universal blessing on the earth, even to the abundance of corn, and wine, and oil, while war and violence are at an end; 'And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.' Praise, eternal praise to Him who alone doeth wondrous things! Let the whole earth be filled with His glory."

Oh what a circle of blessing is presented to us here! Mark it well, 0 my soul, and meditate thereon. Look forward to the happy day, when He who has been long absent shall have returned, and shall say in the ears of His waiting people, "I am come"-" I am come into my garden, my o sister; my spouse." Then shall the promises made to the fathers be fullfilled to their children, according to the word of the Lord. Jehovah in the highest heaven - Christ and His glorified saints, in the heavens that are connected with the earth - then restored Israel in the holy land,- and all nations of the earth, thus linked together in one glorious chain of universal blessing. Oh what a circle of joy What a circle of "friends !" What a feast of love! And what a joyous welcome from the heart of Him who is "Lord of all!" "Eat, 0 friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, 0 beloved.

Verse 2. "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."
In this sad confession of the bride we have brought before us an aspect of experience which many believers, Christian as well as Jewish, are frequently passing through and which well deserves our patient meditation. By far the greater proportion of Christians are more occupied with themselves, and their changable feelings, than with the word of God. This is the fruitful source of endless troubles and. perplexities of the soul. How often it happens in the history of some Christians that when they experience a change of feeling in themselves, they hastily conclude that Christ Himself is not now what He once was to them. They judge the Lord by their own feelings, in place of believing in Him according to His own word. This is looking to oneself in place of Christ, and being governed by feelings in place of the unchangeable truth of God.

Only a few hours ago as we may say, following the order of our song, the spouse was in the full joy of her Lord's presence. She was then bright and happy, like a certain class of Christians in the full current, of a joyous meeting. But supper being ended, and the guests withdrawn, she retires to rest. Very soon, alas, a change comes over her feelings which greatly troubles her. "I sleep, but my heart waketh." She is restless, uncomfortable, unhappy. The heart is breathing after Christ, but she is indisposed to exert herself for Him. What a sad, melancholy state of things, when the blessed Jesus is knocking at the door! But this is no uncommon case. The believer may be in the main right at heart, but having fallen into a low, dull, sleepy state, spiritual duties become a burden, and they are either entirely neglected,. or not done heartily. This is a miserable state of soul to be in, "I sleep, but my heart waketh." It is well to look at both sides of this but.She is neither asleep nor awake. On the one side there is a slumbering conscience, on the other a wakeful heart. No quietness can she find - no refreshment. And well it is so when we become careless about the things of the Lord. But what a picture of thousands, and tens of thousands, who ought to be bright, happy, and always ready girded for anything in the way of service to Christ and immortal souls.

We now turn to the bright and blessed side of this instructive scene. Has the Lord changed because she is changed? Blind unbelief would be sure to say He had; and then unworthy thoughts of Christ would follow, and no end to doubts and fears. When inward thoughts are guiding, the words of Christ go for nothing. But, really, has her coldness and indifference not changed Him in the least towards her? The love of Christ towards His spouse never for one moment changes, notwithstanding her backsliding and inconstancy. But nobetter answer could be given to the question, than the words of the sleepy spouse herself. Drowsy as she is, she knows His knock,- and discerns the voice to be His and still she says "my beloved." 'There is a life in her soul which must ever respond to that voice, in spite of failure. "It is the voice of my beloved," she says, " 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." Now thou hast, 0 my soul the poor changeable believer; and the unchangeable Saviour before thee face to face, on the page of eternal truth. What thinkest thou? Are the vain suggestions of the human mind, in such a case, to be the guide, as to the mind of Christ, or the plain words of God? What could be plainer or more to the point than the word before us? Mark it well., 0 my soul, and meditate thereon. And may its blessed light ever be reflected, from thy heart and conscience in all thy intercourse with backsliding and troubled souls.

Full of the most patient, touching love; are the o words of the bridegroom. to His weak and erring bride In place of being influenced by her sad state of soul and accusing her of ingratitude and indifference towards Himself He appeals to her in terms more tender than on any former occasion. "Open to me," He says, "to me, thine own Messiah - thy Beloved. I am Jesus - why shut the door against me?" "Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled." Never before had be called her his "undefiled." This term of wondrous grace and significancy was reserved for the day of her deep failure. And never before had He alluded to the heavy "dews," and the heavier "drops" of the night:by which He had been overtaken in His path of devoted, unselfish love for her. Oh! what an appeal! Its deep, deep tones re-echo from the darkness of Gethsemane, and from the solitudes of Calvary, the greatness of a love which nothing could turn aside from its purpose. But alas, His appeal has but little effect on her sleep-laden conscience.

Is there anything in all this, let me now ask that looks like a change in the love of Christ towards His backsliding one? Who can say there is unless it be that He now reveals His love more fully, and appeals to her more tenderly. Does He not plead with her in a way that is fit to melt the heart in listening to Him? He pleads as if it would be a great favour to Him to be admitted under her roof? Or, like a weary traveller who has lost His way in a dark and stormy night, He pleads for shelter. It is also, worthy of special note, that never before, at any one time, had He addressed her in so many terms of endearment. "Open to:me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled." Such, 0 my soul, is the love of Christ - the love of Christ to a wandering one. Consider it well. There is but one heart that never changes. Oh! how we should value that heart - trust in that heart - count only on that heart - and always keep near to that changeless heart of perfect love. But, oh, alas, what hearts are ours! All this patient, wondrous love is met by the slumbering spouse with great indifference, and answered with the most trifling and frivolous excuses.
Verse 3.

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