25th May 2020
“Awake, O north wind; and come thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.” Song of Solomon 4:16
We are, most of us, so fettered down by the chains of time and sense, the cares of life and daily business, the weakness of our earthly frame, the distracting claims of a family, and the miserable carnality and sensuality of our fallen nature, that we live at best a poor, dragging, dying life. We can take no pleasure in the world, nor mix with a good conscience in its pursuits and amusements; we are many of us poor, moping, dejected creatures, from a variety of trials and afflictions; we have a daily cross and the continual plague of an evil heart; get little consolation from the family of God or the outward means of grace; know enough of ourselves to know that in self there is neither help nor hope, and never expect a smoother path, a better, wiser, holier heart, or to be able to do to-morrow what we cannot do to-day. As then the weary man seeks rest, the hungry food, the thirsty drink, and the sick health, so do we stretch forth our hearts and arms that we may embrace the Lord Jesus Christ, and sensibly realise union and communion with him. From him come both prayer and answer, both hunger and food, both desire and the tree of life. He discovers the evil and misery of sin that we may seek pardon in his bleeding wounds and pierced side; makes known to us our nakedness and shame, and, as such, our exposure to God’s wrath, that we may hide ourselves under his justifying robe; puts gall and wormwood into the world’s choicest draughts, that we may have no sweetness but in and from him; keeps us long fasting to endear a crumb, and long waiting to make a word precious. He wants the whole heart, and will take no less; and as this we cannot give, he takes it to himself by ravishing it with one of his eyes, with one chain of his neck. If we love him, it is because he first loved us; and if we seek communion with him, it is because he will manifest himself to us as he doth not unto the world.
Would we see what the Holy Ghost has revealed of the nature of this communion, we shall find it most clearly and experimentally unfolded in the Song of Solomon. From the first verse of that book, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth,” to the last expressed desire of the loving bride, “Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices,” all is a “song of loves,” all a divine revelation of the communion that is carried on upon earth between Christ and the Church. She “comes up from the wilderness leaning upon her beloved,” whilst “his left hand is under her head, and his right hand doth embrace her.” She says, “Look not upon me, because I am black;” but he answers, “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.” At one moment she says, By night, on my bed, I sought him whom my soul loveth; I sought him, but I found him not;” and then again she cries, “It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth. I held him, and would no let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house and into the chamber of her that conceived me.” Comings and goings; sighs and songs; vain excuses and cutting self reflections; complaints of self, and praises of him; the breathings of love, and the flames of jealousy; the tender affections of a virgin heart, and the condescending embraces of a royal spouse;—such is the experience of the Church in seeking or enjoying communion with Christ as described in this divine book.
J. C. Philpot 1802-1869