May 29.—Morning. [Or October 24.]
“Yea, He is altogether lovely.”
WE will again read in the Song, giving the language in its correct form. The bride hears the Bridegroom knocking at her door, out she excuses herself from rising to admit him, and acts as unkindly to him, as, alas, we too often have done to our Lord Jesus. The whole story is rehearsed in choicest song in—
2 I am asleep, but my heart is waking;
The voice of my Well-beloved knocking;
“Open unto me, my Sister,
My friend, my dove, my innocent,
For my head is filled with the dew,
My locks with the drops of the night.”
Observe her indolent excuses. How cruel she is to her friend! How selfish! How self-indulgent! Have we not cause to blush, as in her conduct we see our own?
3 I have put off my coat,
How shall I put it on?
I have washed my feet,
How shall I soil them?
4 My Well-beloved thrust his hand
Through the wicket of the door,
And my heart was troubled for him.
5 I arose, I to open to my Beloved One,
And my hands were dropping myrrh,
And my fingers myrrh the purest,
On the handles of the bar.
6 I opened,
I unto my Well-beloved;
But my Well-beloved had withdrawn,
He was gone!
My soul swooned away for his word;
I sought him, but I found him not;
Called him but he answered not!
7 Find me did the watchers,
That walk round the city;
They smote me, wounded me,
Strip my veil from off me
Did the keepers of the walls.
8 I lay a charge upon you,
O daughters of Jerusalem;
If ye find my Well-beloved,
What are ye to tell him—
That sick of love am I.
Although the spouse had been sadly negligent, and so had grieved her Lord, and made him hide his face from her, yet she still loved him, and therefore was intensely earnest to find him again. She hoped that perhaps her Lord would listen to others, even if he closed his ear for a while to her, and therefore she begged the daughters of Jerusalem to speak to him on her behalf. When we are in darkness, the prayers of our brethren may be of great service to us.
The song represents the Daughters of Jerusalem as saying—
9 What is thy Beloved more than any beloved,
O thou Fair One among women?
What is thy Beloved more than any beloved.
That in this wise thou chargest us?
To this enquiry the Bride replies—
10 My Beloved is white and red,
The chief amongst a myriad.
11 His head is a mass of gold most fine;
His locks are branches clustering,
Black as the raven-down.
12 His eyes are like the doves,
By the brooks of waters,
Washing themselves with milk,
Sitting within the floods.
13 His cheeks like beds of balsams,
Flowers of sweetest smell;
His lips the scarlet lilies,
Dropping purest myrrh.
14 His hands have rings of gold
Inset with beryl stones;
His body is bright ivory,
Overlaid with sapphires;
15 His legs pillars of marble,
Set on golden sockets.
His look is like to Lebanon,
Noble as the cedars;
16 His mouth is every sweetness;
Yea, all of him loveliness.
This is my Beloved One,
And this my Companion,
O daughters of Jerusalem.
May 29.—Evening. [Or October 25.]
“Hear, and your soul shall live.”
IT was in the days of his glory, ere sin had darkened his sun, that Solomon collected and composed the Book of Proverbs, which is a mine of wisdom, and a treasure-house of instruction. Let us read—
20 ¶ Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: (The right way is not kept a secret, or mentioned only to a few. Everywhere, in these favoured gospel days, we meet with instructions and admonitions. The Bible is in every house, and the preachers of the word are many: if any perish, it will not be because the plan of salvation was not made public. Wisdom is among us, and speaks with earnestness and plainness of speech.)
21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,
22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?
23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. (Thus wisdom, in the person of the Lord Jesus, calls upon the sons of men in pathetic accents. Men are foolish, and love their folly; some of them are so besotted by sin that they scoff at the instruction which alone can save their souls; therefore the Lord expostulates and pleads with them. It is not the will of the Redeemer that the sinner should die, and in infinite love he interposes to prevent their becoming suicides. Note how earnestly he pleads,—“How long”? and how graciously he promises the aid of his Holy Spirit that they may understand his instructions. Jesus thus pleads with each one of us; have we obeyed his call?)
24 ¶ Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;
25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:
26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;
27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:
29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord:
30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.
31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. (Not until calls of love have failed does the Lord assume the language of stern rebuke; but when grace has been neglected, and even insulted, justice must speak in tones of thunder. The Lord Jesus wept over sinners in the days of his flesh, and still does he by his Church entreat and warn them, and yearn over them; but it will not always be so, for the time cometh when he will have no pity, but will utterly reject the cries and petitions of his enemies. They say that the sweetest wine makes the sharpest vinegar, and so the very gentleness and tenderness of Jesus will make him the more terrible when his patience at length turns to wrath. Oh! may none of us ever have addressed to us the terrible words which we have just read, for they are full of weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Is it not right that those should perish who refused to be saved? Should not those be rejected at the last who wilfully rejected the Redeemer throughout their day of grace? Is it not a most righteous rule that men should reap what they sow, and that those who choose their own delusions should find their choice confirmed? Shall any one member of our family be so madly wicked as to refuse attention to the invitations of grace? God forbid that it should be so.)
How they deserve the deepest hell
That slight the joys above!
What chains of vengeance must they feel
Who break such cords of love.
Draw us, O God, by sovereign grace,
And make us wise to-day,
Lest we provoke thy fiercest wrath
By impudent delay.