Pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved.
Song of Solomon 7:13
The spouse desires to give to Jesus all that she produces. Our heart has all manner of pleasant fruits, both old and new, and they are laid up for our Beloved. At this rich autumnal season of fruit, let us survey our stores. We have new fruits. We desire to feel new life, new joy, new gratitude; we wish to make new resolves and carry them out by new labours; our heart blossoms with new prayers, and our soul is pledging herself to new efforts. But we have some old fruits too. There is our first love: a choice fruit that! and Jesus delights in it. There is our first faith: that simple faith by which, having nothing, we became possessors of all things. There is our joy when first we knew the Lord: let us revive it. We have our old remembrances of the promises. How faithful has God been! In sickness, how softly did he make our bed! In deep waters, how placidly did he buoy us up! In the flaming furnace, how graciously did he deliver us. Old fruits, indeed! We have many of them, for his mercies have been more than the hairs of our head. Old sins we must regret, but then we have had repentances which he has given us, by which we have wept our way to the cross, and learned the merit of his blood. We have fruits, this morning, both new and old; but here is the point--they are all laid up for Jesus. Truly, those are the best and most acceptable services in which Jesus is the solitary aim of the soul, and his glory, without any admixture whatever, the end of all our efforts. Let our many fruits be laid up only for our Beloved; let us display them when he is with us, and not hold them up before the gaze of men. Jesus, we will turn the key in our garden door, and none shall enter to rob thee of one good fruit from the soil which thou hast watered with thy bloody sweat. Our all shall be thine, thine only, O Jesus, our Beloved!
He will give grace and glory.
Bounteous is Jehovah in his nature; to give is his delight. His gifts are beyond measure precious, and are as freely given as the light of the sun. He gives grace to his elect because he wills it, to his redeemed because of his covenant, to the called because of his promise, to believers because they seek it, to sinners because they need it. He gives grace abundantly, seasonably, constantly, readily, sovereignly; doubly enhancing the value of the boon by the manner of its bestowal. Grace in all its forms he freely renders to his people: comforting, preserving, sanctifying, directing, instructing, assisting grace, he generously pours into their souls without ceasing, and he always will do so, whatever may occur. Sickness may befall, but the Lord will give grace; poverty may happen to us, but grace will surely be afforded; death must come but grace will light a candle at the darkest hour. Reader, how blessed it is as years roll round, and the leaves begin again to fall, to enjoy such an unfading promise as this, The Lord will give grace.
The little conjunction and in this verse is a diamond rivet binding the present with the future: grace and glory always go together. God has married them, and none can divorce them. The Lord will never deny a soul glory to whom he has freely given to live upon his grace; indeed, glory is nothing more than grace in its Sabbath dress, grace in full bloom, grace like autumn fruit, mellow and perfected. How soon we may have glory none can tell! It may be before this month of October has run out we shall see the Holy City; but be the interval longer or shorter, we shall be glorified ere long. Glory, the glory of heaven, the glory of eternity, the glory of Jesus, the glory of the Father, the Lord will surely give to his chosen. Oh, rare promise of a faithful God!
The hope which is laid up for you in heaven.
Our hope in Christ for the future is the mainspring and the mainstay of our joy here. It will animate our hearts to think often of heaven, for all that we can desire is promised there. Here we are weary and toilworn, but yonder is the land of rest where the sweat of labour shall no more bedew the worker's brow, and fatigue shall be for ever banished. To those who are weary and spent, the word rest is full of heaven. We are always in the field of battle; we are so tempted within, and so molested by foes without, that we have little or no peace; but in heaven we shall enjoy the victory, when the banner shall be waved aloft in triumph, and the sword shall be sheathed, and we shall hear our Captain say, Well done, good and faithful servant. We have suffered bereavement after bereavement, but we are going to the land of the immortal where graves are unknown things. Here sin is a constant grief to us, but there we shall be perfectly holy, for there shall by no means enter into that kingdom anything which defileth. Hemlock springs not up in the furrows of celestial fields. Oh! is it not joy, that you are not to be in banishment for ever, that you are not to dwell eternally in this wilderness, but shall soon inherit Canaan? Nevertheless let it never be said of us, that we are dreaming about the future and forgetting the present, let the future sanctify the present to highest uses. Through the Spirit of God the hope of heaven is the most potent force for the product of virtue; it is a fountain of joyous effort, it is the corner stone of cheerful holiness. The man who has this hope in him goes about his work with vigour, for the joy of the Lord is his strength. He fights against temptation with ardour, for the hope of the next world repels the fiery darts of the adversary. He can labour without present reward, for he looks for a reward in the world to come.
A man greatly beloved.
Child of God, do you hesitate to appropriate this title? Ah! has your unbelief made you forget that you are greatly beloved too? Must you not have been greatly beloved, to have been bought with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot? When God smote his only begotten Son for you, what was this but being greatly beloved? You lived in sin, and rioted in it, must you not have been greatly beloved for God to have borne so patiently with you? You were called by grace and led to a Saviour, and made a child of God and an heir of heaven. All this proves, does it not, a very great and superabounding love? Since that time, whether your path has been rough with troubles, or smooth with mercies, it has been full of proofs that you are a man greatly beloved. If the Lord has chastened you, yet not in anger; if he has made you poor, yet in grace you have been rich. The more unworthy you feel yourself to be, the more evidence have you that nothing but unspeakable love could have led the Lord Jesus to save such a soul as yours. The more demerit you feel, the clearer is the display of the abounding love of God in having chosen you, and called you, and made you an heir of bliss. Now, if there be such love between God and us let us live in the influence and sweetness of it, and use the privilege of our position. Do not let us approach our Lord as though we were strangers, or as though he were unwilling to hear us--for we are greatly beloved by our loving Father. He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Come boldly, O believer, for despite the whisperings of Satan and the doubtings of thine own heart, thou art greatly beloved. Meditate on the exceeding greatness and faithfulness of divine love this evening, and so go to thy bed in peace.
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
Angels are the unseen attendants of the saints of God; they bear us up in their hands, lest we dash our foot against a stone. Loyalty to their Lord leads them to take a deep interest in the children of his love; they rejoice over the return of the prodigal to his father's house below, and they welcome the advent of the believer to the King's palace above. In olden times the sons of God were favoured with their visible appearance, and at this day, although unseen by us, heaven is still opened, and the angels of God ascend and descend upon the Son of man, that they may visit the heirs of salvation. Seraphim still fly with live coals from off the altar to touch the lips of men greatly beloved. If our eyes could be opened, we should see horses of fire and chariots of fire about the servants of the Lord; for we have come to an innumerable company of angels, who are all watchers and protectors of the seed-royal. Spenser's line is no poetic fiction, where he sings--
To what dignity are the chosen elevated when the brilliant courtiers of heaven become their willing servitors! Into what communion are we raised since we have intercourse with spotless celestials! How well are we defended since all the twenty- thousand chariots of God are armed for our deliverance! To whom do we owe all this? Let the Lord Jesus Christ be for ever endeared to us, for through him we are made to sit in heavenly places far above principalities and powers. He it is whose camp is round about them that fear him; he is the true Michael whose foot is upon the dragon. All hail, Jesus! thou Angel of Jehovah's presence, to thee this family offers its morning vows.
He himself hath suffered being tempted.
It is a common-place thought, and yet it tastes like nectar to the weary heart--Jesus was tempted as I am. You have heard that truth many times: have you grasped it? He was tempted to the very same sins into which we fall. Do not dissociate Jesus from our common manhood. It is a dark room which you are going through, but Jesus went through it before. It is a sharp fight which you are waging, but Jesus has stood foot to foot with the same enemy. Let us be of good cheer, Christ has borne the load before us, and the blood-stained footsteps of the King of glory may be seen along the road which we traverse at this hour. There is something sweeter yet--Jesus was tempted, but Jesus never sinned. Then, my soul, it is not needful for thee to sin, for Jesus was a man, and if one man endured these temptations and sinned not, then in his power his members may also cease from sin. Some beginners in the divine life think that they cannot be tempted without sinning, but they mistake; there is no sin in being tempted, but there is sin in yielding to temptation. Herein is comfort for the sorely tempted ones. There is still more to encourage them if they reflect that the Lord Jesus, though tempted, gloriously triumphed, and as he overcame, so surely shall his followers also, for Jesus is the representative man for his people; the Head has triumphed, and the members share in the victory. Fears are needless, for Christ is with us, armed for our defence. Our place of safety is the bosom of the Saviour. Perhaps we are tempted just now, in order to drive us nearer to him. Blessed be any wind that blows us into the port of our Saviour's love! Happy wounds, which make us seek the beloved Physician. Ye tempted ones, come to your tempted Saviour, for he can be touched with a feeling of your infirmities, and will succour every tried and tempted one.
"Whatever He says unto you, do it."--John 2:5
What reader of his Bible is not reminded by these words of the mother of Jesus referring to her Son, of the command of Pharaoh addressed to the Egyptians concerning Joseph--perhaps the most remarkable personal type of Christ, "Go unto Joseph; what he says to you, do." The Lord Jesus is our Lawgiver, the only true Legislator of the Church, the only spiritual Head of authority and power. It is to Him we are to go for our orders. His Word we are implicitly to obey, finding His service perfect freedom, and obedience to His commands great reward.
"What He says unto you, do it."
"What He says unto you." Lord, I would bend my ear attentively, believingly, to know what You say unto me. Speak, Lord, Your servant hears. Do You bid me believe? Lord, enable me to give full credence to all Your gracious invitations, and precious promises, and good words addressed to Your sin-burdened, guilt-distressed, travail-weary ones. Do You bid me in simple faith look to You, accept You, rest on You? Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. My trembling heart sincerely seeks repose from guilt and fear and labor in You, and in You alone. Do You command me to take up my cross, and follow You along Your unearthly, self-denying way? Lord, You would I then follow, and You only. "Through floods and flames, if Jesus leads, I'll follow where He goes."
Do You bid me, my Father, take from Your hands the cup of sorrow, and meekly drink it? Your will, not mine, be done! Do You ask me to slay my Isaac, to yield my Benjamin, to tear my fondest idol from its shrine? Lord, give me grace, and I will obey. Whatever You say unto me, I will do. Do You bid me mortify my strong corruption, nail to Your cross my bosom sin, part with the Delilah upon whose treacherous lap I have slumbered, and by whose hands the locks of my strength have been shorn? Lord, perfect Your strength in my weakness, and, Samson-like, by faith in Your all-sufficient grace, I will slay Your foes and mine, and will be Your servant, Yours only, and Yours forever. Number me among the blessed ones, of whom it is said, "These are they who follow the Lamb wherever He goes."
Let there be no mental reservation in your obedience to the Lord, O my soul. The Lord searches the heart and weighs the actions of men. He hears the bleating of the herds we have spared, ostensibly for sacrifice, yet in reality but to condone our sin of disobedience to God (1 Sam. 15:22). O Lord, to whom obedience is better than sacrifice, let my obedience to Your word be sincere and honest, full and unreserved, lacking nothing, that I may stand complete in all the will of God.
Let love to Jesus be the all-constraining principle of my obedience, as the all-authenticating evidence of my discipleship. "If you love Me, keep My commandments." Oh, how smoothly and swiftly will the wheels of obedience revolve when divine love to a precious loving Savior moves them! How light will be Jesus' burden, how easy His yoke, how pleasant His cross, how sweet to deny myself for Him, of what was so sweet to myself, when the all-constraining principle is love to Him who loved me unto death!
Keep the eye fixed upon the reward of obedience to Christ. "If you be willing and obedient, you shall eat the fruit of the land." We shall eat the sweet fruit of peace and joy and hope now; and we shall eat the golden fruit of the fullness of joy and of the pleasures that are at God's right hand in a holier world, and beneath a brighter sky hereafter.Such--could her voice be heard from heaven--would still be the language of the Virgin Mary to all her poor deluded worshipers! "Look not to me, pray not to me, invoke not my intercession and aid; what He, God, my Savior, says unto you, do it." What a sweet echo of the words of Jesus himself, "If you love me, keep My commandments." These words are pregnant with meaning and power. Oh my soul, sit down at His feet, and learn what He would have you do, and then do it unhesitatingly and with all your heart.