¯His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers.¯ Song of Solomon 5:13
Lo, the flowery month is come! March winds and April showers have done their work, and the earth is all bedecked with beauty. Come my soul, put on thine holiday attire and go forth to gather garlands of heavenly thoughts. Thou knowest whither to betake thyself, for to thee ¯the beds of spices¯ are well known, and thou hast so often smelt the perfume of ¯the sweet flowers,¯ that thou wilt go at once to thy well-beloved and find all loveliness, all joy in him. That cheek once so rudely smitten with a rod, oft bedewed with tears of sympathy and then defiled with spittle¯that cheek as it smiles with mercy is as fragrant aromatic to my heart. Thou didst not hide thy face from shame and spitting, O Lord Jesus, and therefore I will find my dearest delight in praising thee. Those cheeks were furrowed by the plough of grief, and crimsoned with red lines of blood from thy thorn-crowned temples; such marks of love unbounded cannot but charm my soul far more than ¯pillars of perfume.¯ If I may not see the whole of his face I would behold his cheeks, for the least glimpse of him is exceedingly refreshing to my spiritual sense and yields a variety of delights. In Jesus I find not only fragrance, but a bed of spices; not one flower, but all manner of sweet flowers. He is to me my rose and my lily, my heartsease and my cluster of camphire. When he is with me it is May all the year round, and my soul goes forth to wash her happy face in the morning-dew of his grace, and to solace herself with the singing of the birds of his promises. Precious Lord Jesus, let me in very deed know the blessedness which dwells in abiding, unbroken fellowship with thee. I am a poor worthless one, whose cheek thou hast deigned to kiss! O let me kiss thee in return with the kisses of my lips.
¯I am the rose of Sharon.¯ Song of Solomon 2:1
Whatever there may be of beauty in the material world, Jesus Christ possesses all that in the spiritual world in a tenfold degree. Amongst flowers the rose is deemed the sweetest, but Jesus is infinitely more beautiful in the garden of the soul than the rose can be in the gardens of earth. He takes the first place as the fairest among ten thousand. He is the sun, and all others are the stars; the heavens and the day are dark in comparison with him, for the King in his beauty transcends all. ¯I am the rose of Sharon.¯ This was the best and rarest of roses. Jesus is not ¯the rose¯ alone, he is ¯the rose of Sharon,¯ just as he calls his righteousness ¯gold,¯ and then adds, ¯the gold of Ophir¯¯the best of the best. He is positively lovely, and superlatively the loveliest. There is variety in his charms. The rose is delightful to the eye, and its scent is pleasant and refreshing; so each of the senses of the soul, whether it be the taste or feeling, the hearing, the sight, or the spiritual smell, finds appropriate gratification in Jesus. Even the recollection of his love is sweet. Take the rose of Sharon, and pull it leaf from leaf, and lay by the leaves in the jar of memory, and you shall find each leaf fragrant long afterwards, filling the house with perfume. Christ satisfies the highest taste of the most educated spirit to the very full. The greatest amateur in perfumes is quite satisfied with the rose: and when the soul has arrived at her highest pitch of true taste, she shall still be content with Christ, nay, she shall be the better able to appreciate him. Heaven itself possesses nothing which excels the rose of Sharon. What emblem can fully set forth his beauty? Human speech and earth-born things fail to tell of him. Earth¯s choicest charms commingled, feebly picture his abounding preciousness. Blessed rose, bloom in my heart forever!
EVENING THOUGHTS, or
DAILY WALKING WITH GOD
Octavius Winslow, 1858
"For he is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us." Ephes. 2:14
BEHIND this wall Jesus did once stand, and although thus partially obscured, yet to those who had faith to see Him, dwelling though they were in the twilight of the Gospel, He manifested Himself as the true Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior of His people. "Abraham rejoiced to see my day," says Jesus, "and he saw it, and was glad." But this wall no longer stands. The shadows are fled, the darkness is dispersed, and the true light now shines. Beware of those teachers who would rebuild this wall; and who by their superstitious practices, and legal representations of the Gospel, do in effect rebuild it. Remember that "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes."
It is behind "our wall" that Jesus stands¯the wall which we, the new covenant saints, erect. Many are the separating influences between Christ and His people; many are the walls which we, alas! allow to intervene, behind which we cause Him to stand. What are the infidelity, I had almost said atheism, the carnality, the coldness, the many sins of our hearts, but so many obstructions to Christ's full and frequent manifestations of Himself to our souls? But were we to specify one obstruction in particular, we would mention unbelief as the great separating wall between Christ and His people. This was the wall which obscured from the view of Thomas his risen Lord. And while the little Church was jubilant in the new life and joy with which their living Savior inspired them, he alone lingered in doubt and sadness, amid the shadows of the tomb. "Except I thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe." Nothing more effectually separates us from, or rather obscures our view of, Christ than the sin of unbelief. Not fully crediting His word¯not simply and implicitly relying upon His work¯not trusting His faithfulness and love¯not receiving Him wholly and following Him fully¯only believing and receiving half that He says and commands¯not fixing the eye upon Jesus as risen and alive, as ascended and enthroned, leaving all fullness, all power, all love. Oh this unbelief is a dead, towering wall between our Beloved and our souls!
And yet does He stand behind it? Does it not compel Him to depart and leave us forever? Ah no! He is there! Oh wondrous grace, matchless love, infinite patience! Wearied with forbearing, and yet there! Doubted, distrusted, grieved, and yet standing there¯His locks wet with the dew of the night¯waiting to be gracious, longing to manifest Himself. Nothing has prevailed to compel Him to withdraw. When our coldness might have prevailed, when our fleshliness might have prevailed, when our neglect, ingratitude, and backslidings might have prevailed, never has He entirely and forever withdrawn. His post is to watch with a sleepless eye of love the purchase of His dying agonies, and to guard His "vineyard of red wine night and day, lest any hurt it." Who can adequately picture the solicitude, the tenderness, the jealousy, with which the Son of God keeps His especial treasure? And whatever would force Him to retire¯whether it be the coldness that congeals, or the fierce flame that would consume¯yet such is His deathless love for His people, "He withdraws not His eyes front the righteous" for one moment. There stands the "Friend that sticks closer than a brother," waiting to beam upon them a glance of His love-enkindled eye, and to manifest Himself to them as He does not unto the world, even from behind our wall.