HOW marvellous are these words! "Thou art all fair, My love; there is no spot in thee." The glorious Bridegroom is charmed with His spouse, and sings soft canticles of admiration. When the bride extols her Lord there is no wonder, for He deserves it well, and in Him there is room for praise without possibility of flattery. But does He who is wiser than Solomon condescend to praise this sunburnt Shulamite? Tis even so, for these are His own words, and were uttered by His own sweet lips. Nay, doubt not, O young believer, for we have more wonders to reveal! There are greater depths in heavenly things than thou hast at present dared to hope. The Church not only is all fair in the eyes of her Beloved, but in one sense she always was so.
"In God's decree, her form He view'd;
All beauteous in His eyes she stood,
Presented by Th' eternal name,
Betroth'd in love, and free from blame.
"Not as she stood in Adam's fall,
When guilt and ruin cover'd all;
But as she'll stand another day,
Fairer than sun's meridian ray."
He delighted in her before she had either a natural or a spiritual being, and from the beginning could He say, "My delights were with the sons of men." (Prov. viii.31.) Having covenanted to be the Surety of the elect, and having determined to fulfil every stipulation of that covenant, He from all eternity delighted to survey the purchase of His blood, and rejoiced to view His Church, in the purpose and decree, as already by Him delivered from sin, and exalted to glory and happiness.
"Oh, glorious grace, mysterious plan
Too great for angel-mind to scan,
Our thoughts are lost, our numbers fail;
All hail, redeeming love, all hail!"
Now with joy and gladness let us approach the subject of Christ's delight in His Church, as declared by Him whom the Spirit has sealed in our hearts as the faithful and true Witness.
Our first bundle of myrrh lies in the open hand of the text.
I. Christ has a high esteem for his church. He does not blindly admire her faults, or even conceal them from Himself. He is acquainted with her sin, in all its heinousness of guilt, and desert of punishment. That sin He does not shun to reprove. His own words are, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." (Rev iii.19.) He abhors sin in her as much as in the ungodly world, nay even more, for He sees in her an evil which is not to be found in the transgressions of others, -- sin against love and grace. She is black in her own sight, how much more so in the eyes of her Omniscient Lord! Yet there it stands, written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and flowing from the lips of the Bridegroom, "Thou art all fair, My love; there is no spot in thee." How then is this? Is it a mere exaggeration of love, an enthusiastic canticle, which the sober hand of truth must strip of its glowing fables? Oh, no! The King is full of love, but He is not so overcome with it as to forget His reason. The words are true, and He means us to understand them as the honest expression of His unbiassed judgment, after having patiently examined her in every part. He would not have us diminish aught, but estimate the gold of His opinions by the bright glittering of His expressions; and, therefore, in order that there may be no mistake, He states it positively: "Thou art all fair, My love," and confirms it by a negative: "there is no spot in thee."
When He speaks positively, how complete is His admiration! She is "fair", but that is not a full description; He styles her "all fair." He views her in Himself, washed in His sin-atoning blood, and clothed in His meritorious righteousness, and He considers her to be full of comeliness and beauty. No wonder that such is the case, since it is but His own perfect excellences that He admires, seeing that the holiness, glory, and perfection of His Church are His own garments on the back of His own well-beloved spouse, and she is "bone of His bone, and flesh of His flesh." She is not simply pure, or well-proportioned; she is positively lovely and fair! She has actual merit! Her deformities of sin are removed; but more, she has through her Lord obtained a meritorious righteousness by which an actual beauty is conferred upon her. Believers have a positive righteousness given to them when they become "accepted in the Beloved." (Eph. i.6.)
Nor is the Church barely lovely, she is superlatively so. Her Lord styles her, "Thou fairest among women." (Sol. Song i.8.) She has a real worth and excellence which cannot be rivalled by all the nobility and royalty of the world. If Jesus could exchange His elect bride for all the queens and empresses of earth, or even for the angels in heaven, He would not, for He puts her first and foremost, -- "fairest among women." Nor is this an opinion which He is ashamed of, for He invites all men to hear it. He puts a "behold" before it, a special note of exclamation, inviting and arresting attention. "Behold, thou art fair, My love; behold, thou art fair." (Sol. Song iv.1.) His opinion He publishes abroad even now, and one day from the throne of His glory He will avow the truth of it before the assembled universe. "Come, ye blessed of My Father" (Matt. xxv.34), will be His solemn affirmation of the loveliness of His elect.
Let us mark well the repeated sentences of His approbation.
"Lo, thou art fair! lo, thou art fair!
Twice fair thou art, I say;
My righteousness and graces are
Thy double bright array.
"But since thy faith can hardly own
My beauty put on thee;
Behold! behold! twice be it known
Thou art all fair to Me!"
He turns again to the subject, a second time looks into those doves' eyes of hers, and listens to her honey-dropping lips. It is not enough to say, "Behold, thou art fair, My love;" He rings that golden bell again, and sings again, and again, "Behold, thou art fair."
After having surveyed her whole person with rapturous delight, He cannot be satisfied until He takes a second gaze, and afresh recounts her beauties. Making but little difference between His first description and the last, he adds extraordinary expressions of love to manifest His increased delight. "Thou art beautiful, O My love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners. Turn away thine eyes from Me, for they have overcome Me: thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Gilead. Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep which go up from the washing, whereof every one beareth twins, and there is not one barren among them. As a piece of a pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks. . . . My dove, My undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her." (Sol. Song vi.4-7, 9.)
The beauty which He admires is universal, He is as much enchanted with her temples as with her breasts. All her offices, all her pure devotions, all her earnest labours, all her constant sufferings, are precious to His heart. She is "all fair." Her ministry, her psalmody, her intercessions, her alms, her watching, all are admirable to Him, when performed in the Spirit. Her faith, her love, her patience, her zeal, are alike in His esteem as "rows of jewels" and "chains of gold." (Sol. Song i.10.) He loves and admires her everywhere. In the house of bondage, or in the land of Canaan, she is ever fair. On the top of Lebanon His heart is ravished with one of her eyes, and in the fields and villages He joyfully receives her loves. He values her above gold and silver in the days of His gracious manifestations, but He has an equal appreciation of her when He withdraws Himself, for it is immediately after He had said, "Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get Me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense," (Sol. Song iv.6,) that He exclaims, in the words of our text, "Thou art all fair, My love." At all seasons believers are very near the heart of the Lord Jesus, they are always as the apple of His eye, and the jewel of His crown. Our name is still on His breastplate, and our persons are still in His gracious remembrance. He never thinks lightly of His people; and certainly in all the compass of His Word there is not one syllable which looks like contempt of them. They are the choice treasure and peculiar portion of the Lord of hosts; and what king will undervalue his own inheritance? What loving husband will despise his own wife? Let others call the Church what they may, Jesus does not waver in His love to her, and does not differ in His judgment of her, for He still exclaims, "How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!" (Sol. Song vii.6.)
Let us remember that He who pronounces the Church and each individual believer to be "all fair" is none other than the glorious Son of God, who is "very God of very God." Hence His declaration is decisive, since infallibility has uttered it. There can be no mistake where the all-seeing Jehovah is the Judge. If He has pronounced her to be incomparably fair, she is so, beyond a doubt; and though hard for our poor puny faith to receive, it is nevertheless as divine a verity as any of the undoubted doctrines of revelation.
Having thus pronounced her positively full of beauty, He now confirms His praise by a precious negative: "There is no spot in thee." As if the thought occurred to the Bridegroom that the carping world would insinuate that He had only mentioned her comely parts, and had purposely omitted those features which were deformed or defiled, He sums all up by declaring her universally and entirely fair, and utterly devoid of stain. A spot may soon be removed, and is the very least thing that can disfigure beauty, but even from this little blemish the Church is delivered in her Lord's sight. If He had said there is no hideous scar, no horrible deformity, no filthy ulcer, we might even then have marvelled; but when He testifies that she is free from the slightest spot, all these things are included, and the depth of wonder is increased. If He had but promised to remove all spots, we should have had eternal reason for joy; but when He Speaks of it as already done, who can restrain the most intense emotions of satisfaction and delight? O my soul, here is marrow and fatness for thee; eat thy full, and be abundantly glad therein!
Christ Jesus has no quarrel with His spouse. She often wanders from Him, and grieves His Holy Spirit, but He does not allow her faults to affect His love. He sometimes chides, but it is always in the tenderest manner, with the kindest intentions; -- it is "My love" even then. There is no remembrance of our follies, He does not cherish ill thoughts of us, but He pardons, and loves as well after the offence as before it. It is well for us it is so, for if Jesus were as mindful of injuries as we are, how could He commune with us? Many a time a believer will put himself out of humour with the Lord for some slight turn in providence, but our precious Husband knows our silly hearts too well to take any offence at our ill manners.
If He were as easily provoked as we are, who among us could hope for a comfortable look or a kind salutation? but He is "ready to pardon, slow to anger." (Neh. ix.17.) He is like Noah's sons, He goes backward, and throws a cloak over our nakedness; or we may compare Him to Apelles, who, when he painted Alexander, put his finger over the scar on the cheek, that it might not be seen in the picture. "He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath He seen perverseness in Israel" (Num. xxiii.21); and hence He is able to commune with the erring sons of men.
But the question returns, -- How is this? Can it be explained, so as not to clash with the most evident fact that sin remaineth even in the hearts of the regenerate? Can our own daily bewailings of sin allow of anything like perfection as a present attainment? The Lord Jesus saith it, and therefore it must be true; but in what sense is it to be understood? How are we "all fair" though we ourselves feel that we are black, because the sun hath looked upon us? (Sol. Song i.6.) The answer is ready, if we consider the analogy of faith.
1. In the matter of justification, the saints are complete and without sin. As Durham says, these words are spoken "in respect of the imputation of Christ's righteousness wherewith they are adorned, and which they have put on, which makes them very glorious and lovely, so that they are beautiful beyond all others, through His comeliness put upon them."
And Dr. Gill excellently expresses the same idea, when he writes, "though all sin is seen by God, in articulo providentiae, in the matter of providence, wherein nothing escapes His all-seeing eye; yet in articula iustificationis, in the matter of justification, He sees no sin in His people, so as to reckon it to them, or condemn them for it; for they all stand holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight.'" (Col. i.22.) The blood of Jesus removes all stain, and His righteousness confers perfect beauty; and, therefore, in the Beloved, the true believer is at this hour as much accepted and approved, in the sight of God, as He will be when He stands before the throne in heaven. The beauty of justification is at its fulness the moment a soul is by faith received into the Lord Jesus. This is righteousness so transcendent that no one can exaggerate its glorious merit. Since this righteousness is that of Jesus, the Son of God, it is therefore divine, and is, indeed, the holiness of God; and, hence, Kent was not too daring when, in a bold flight of rapture, he sang, --
"In thy Surety thou art free,
His dear hands were pierced for thee;
With His spotless vesture on,
Holy as the Holy One.
"Oh, the heights and depths of grace,
Shining with meridian blaze;
Here the sacred records show
Sinners black, but comely too!"
2. But perhaps it is best to understand this as relating to the design of Christ concerning them. It is His purpose to present them without "spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." (Eph. v.27.) They shall be holy and unblameable and unreproveable in the sight of the Omniscient God. In prospect of this, the Church is viewed as being virtually what she is soon to be actually. Nor is this a frivolous antedating of her excellence; for be it ever remembered that the Representative, in whom she is accepted, is actually complete in all perfections and glories at this very moment. As the Head of the body is already without sin, being none other than the Lord from heaven, it is but in keeping that the whole body should be pronounced comely and fair through the glory of the Head. The fact of her future perfection is so certain that it is spoken of as if it were already accomplished, and indeed it is so in the mind of Him to whom a thousand years are but as one day. "Christ often expounds an honest believer, from His own heart, purpose and design; in which respect they get many titles, otherwise unsuitable to their present condition. (Durham.) Let us magnify the name of our Jesus, who loves us so well that He will overleap the dividing years of our pilgrimage, that He may give us even now the praise which seems to be only fitted for the perfection of Paradise. As Erskine sings, --
"My love, thou seem'st a loathsome worm:
Yet such thy beauties be,
I spoke but half thy comely form;
Thou'rt wholly fair to Me.
"Whole justified, in perfect dress;
Nor justice, nor the law
Can in thy robe of righteousness
Discern the smallest flaw.
"Yea, sanctified in ev'ry part,
Thou art perfect in design:
And I judge thee by what thou art
In thy intent and Mine.
"Fair love, by grace complete in Me,
Beyond all beauteous brides;
Each spot that ever sullied thee
My purple vesture hides."
II. Our Lord's admiration is sweetened by love. He addresses the spouse as "My love." The virgins called her "the fairest among women"; they saw and admired, but it was reserved for her Lord to love her. Who can fully tell the excellence of His love? Oh, how His heart goeth forth after His redeemed! As for the love of David and Jonathan, it is far exceeded in Christ. No tender husband was ever so fond as He. No figures can completely set forth His heart's affection, for it surpasses all the love that man or woman hath heard or thought of. Our blessed Lord, Himself, when He would declare the greatness of it, was compelled to compare one inconceivable thing with another, in order to express His own thoughts. "As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you." (John xv.9.) All the eternity, fervency, immutability, and infinity which are to be found in the love of Jehovah the Father, towards Jehovah-Jesus the Son, are copied to the letter in the love of the Lord Jesus towards His chosen ones. Before the foundation of the world He loved His people, in all their wanderings He loved them, and unto the end He will abide in His love. (John xiii.1.) He has given them the best proof of His affection, in that He gave Himself to die for their sins, and hath revealed to them complete pardon as the result of His death. The willing manner of His death is further confirmation of His boundless love. How Christ did delight in the work of our redemption! "Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O my God." (Psalm xl.7, 8.) When He came into the world to sacrifice His life for us, it was a freewill offering. "I have a baptism to be baptized with." (Luke xii.50.) Christ was to be, as it were, baptized in His own blood, and how did He thirst for that time! "How am I straitened till it be accomplished." There was no hesitation, no desire to be quit of His engagement. He went to His crucifixion without once halting by the way to deliberate whether He should complete His sacrifice. The stupendous mass of our fearful debt He paid at once, asking neither delay nor diminution. From the moment when He said, "Not My will, but Thine, be done" (Luke xxii.42), His course was swift and unswerving; as if He had been hastening to a crown rather than to a cross. The fulness of time was His only remembrancer; He was not driven by bailiffs to discharge the obligations of His Church, but joyously, even when full of sorrow, He met the law, answered its demands, and cried, "It is finished."
How hard it is to talk of love so as to convey out meaning with it! How often have our eyes been full of tears when we have realized the thought that Jesus loves us! How has our spirit been melted within us at the assurance that He thinks of us and bears us on His heart! But we cannot kindle the like emotion in others, nor can we give, by word of mouth, so much as a faint idea of the bliss which coucheth in that exclamation, "Oh, how He loves!" Come, reader, canst thou say of thyself, "He loved me"? (Gal. ii.20.) Then look down into this sea of love, and endeavour to guess its depth. Doth it not stagger thy faith, that He should love thee? Or, if thou hast strong confidence, say, does it not enfold thy spirit in a flame of admiring and adoring gratitude? O ye angels, such love as this ye never knew! Jesus doth not bear your names upon His hands, or call you His bride. No! this highest fellowship he reserves for worms whose only return is tearful, hearty thanksgiving and love.
III. Let us note that Christ delights to think upon his Church, and to look upon her beauty. As the bird returneth often to its nest, and as the wayfarer hastens to his home, so doth the mind continually pursue the object of its choice. We cannot look too often upon that face which we love; we desire always to have our precious things in our sight. It is even so with our Lord Jesus. From all eternity, "His delights were with the sons of men;" His thoughts rolled onward to the time when His elect should be born into the world; He viewed them in the mirror of His fore-knowledge. "In thy book," He says, "all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them." (Ps. cxxxix.16.) When the world was set upon its pillars, He was there, and He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. Many a time, before His incarnation, He descended to this earth in the similitude of a man; on the plains of Mamre (Gen. xviii.), by the brook of Jabbok (Gen. xxxii.24-30), beneath the walls of Jericho (Josh. v.13), and in the fiery furnace of Babylon (Dan. iii.19-25), the Son of man did visit His people. Because His soul delighted in them, He could not rest away from them, for His heart longed after them. Never were they absent from His heart, for He had written their names upon His hands, and graven them upon His heart. As the breast-plate containing the names of the tribes of Israel was the most brilliant ornament worn by the high priest, so the names of Christ's elect were His most precious Jewels, which He ever hung nearest His heart. We may often forget to meditate upon the perfections of our Lord, but He never ceases to remember us. He cares not one half so much for any of His most glorious works as He does for His children. Although His eye seeth everything that hath beauty and excellence in it, He never fixes His gaze anywhere with that admiration and delight which He spends upon His purchased ones. He charges His angels concerning them, and calls upon those holy beings to rejoice with Him over His lost sheep. (Luke xv.4-7.) He talked of them to Himself, and even on the tree of doom He did not cease to soliloquize concerning them. He saw of the travail of His soul, and He was abundantly satisfied.
"That day acute of ignominious woe,
Was, notwithstanding, in a perfect sense,
'The day of His heart's gladness,' for the joy
That His redeem'd should be brought home at last
(Made ready as in robes of bridal white),
Was set before Him vividly, -- He look'd; --
And for that happiness anticipate,
Endurance of all torture, all disgrace,
Seem'd light infliction to His heart of love."
Like a fond mother, Christ Jesus, our thrice-blessed Lord, sees every dawning of excellence, and every bud of goodness in us, making much of our litties, and rejoicing over the beginnings of our graces. As He is to be our endless song, so we are His perpetual prayer. When He is absent He thinks of us, and in the black darkness He has a window through which He looks upon us. When the sun sets in one part of the earth, he rises in another place beyond our visible horizon; and even so Jesus, our Sun of Righteousness, is only pouring light upon His people in a different way, when to our apprehension He seems to have set in darkness. His eye is ever upon the vineyard, which is His Church: "I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day." (Isa. xxvii.3.) He will not trust to His angels to do it, for it is His delight to do all with His own hands. Zion is in the centre of His heart, and He cannot forget her, for every day His thoughts are set upon her. When the bride by her neglect of Him hath hidden herself from His sight, He cannot be quiet until again He looks upon her. He calls her forth with the most wooing words, "O My dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let Me see thy countenance; let Me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely." (Sol. Song ii.14.) She thinks herself unmeet to keep company with such a Prince, but He entices her from her lurking-place, and inasmuch as she comes forth trembling, and bashfully hides her face with her veil, He bids her uncover her face, and let her Husband gaze upon her. She is ashamed to do so, for she is black in her own esteem, and therefore He urges that she is comely to Him.
Nor is He content with looking, He must feed His ears as well as His eyes, and therefore He commends her speech, and intreats her to let Him hear her voice. See how truly our Lord rejoiceth in us. Is not this unparalleled love! We have heard of princes who have been smitten by the beauty of a peasant's daughter, but what of that? Here is the Son of God doting upon a worm, looking with eyes of admiration upon a poor child of Adam, and listening with joy to the lispings of poor flesh and blood. Ought we not to be exceedingly charmed by such matchless condescension? And should not our hearts as much delight in Him as He doth in us? O surprising truth! Christ Jesus rejoices over His poor, tempted, tried, and erring people.
IV. It is not to be forgotten that sometimes the Lord Jesus tells His people His love thoughts. "He does not think it enough behind her back to tell it, but in her very presence, He says, Thou art all fair, My love.' It is true, this is not His ordinary method; He is a wise lover, that knows when to keep back the intimation of love, and when to let it out; but there are times when He will make no secret of it; times when He will put it beyond all dispute in the souls of His people." 
The Holy Spirit is often pleased in a most gracious manner to witness with our spirits of the love of Jesus. He takes of the things of Christ, and reveals them unto us. No voice is heard from the clouds, and no vision is seen in the night, but we have a testimony more sure than either of these. If an angel should fly from heaven, and inform the saint personally of the Saviour's love to him, the evidence would not be one whir more satisfactory than that which is borne in the heart by the Holy Ghost. Ask those of the Lord's people who have lived the nearest to the gates of heaven, and they will tell you that they have had seasons when the love of Christ towards them has been a fact so clear and sure, that they could no more doubt it than they could question their own existence.
Yes, beloved believer, you and I have had times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, and then our faith has mounted to the topmost heights of assurance. We have had confidence to lean our heads upon the bosom of our Lord, and we have had no more question about our Master's affection than John had when in that blessed posture, nay, nor so much; for the dark question, "Lord, is it I that shall betray Thee?" has been put far from us. He has kissed us with the kisses of His love, and killed our doubts by the closeness of His embrace. His love has been sweeter than wine to our souls. We felt that we could sing, "His left hand is under my head, and His right hand doth embrace me." (Sol. Song viii.3.) Then all earthly troubles were light as the chaff of the threshing-floor, and the pleasures of the world as tasteless as the white of an egg. We would have welcomed death as the messenger who would introduce us to our Lord to whom we were in haste to be gone; for His love had stirred us to desire more of Him, even His immediate and glorious presence. I have, sometimes, when the Lord has assured me of His love, felt as if I could not contain more joy and delight. My eyes ran down with tears of gratitude. I fell upon my knees to bless Him, but rose again in haste, feeling as if I had nothing more to ask for, but must stand up and praise Him; then have I lifted my hands to heaven, longing to fill my arms with Him; panting to talk with Him, as a man talketh with his friend, and to see Him in His own person, that I might tell Him how happy He had made His unworthy servant, and might fall on my face, and kiss His feet in unutterable thankfulness and love. Such a banquet have I had upon one word of my Beloved, -- "thou art Mine," -- that I wished, like Peter, to build tabernacles in that mount, and dwell for ever. But, alas, we have not, all of us, yet learned how to preserve that blessed assurance. We stir up our Beloved and awake Him, then He leaves our unquiet chamber, and we grope after Him, and make many a weary journey trying to find Him.
If we were wiser and more careful, we might preserve the fragrance of Christ's words far longer; for they are not like the ordinary manna which soon rotted, but are comparable to that omer of it which was put in the golden pot, and preserved for many generations. The sweet Lord Jesus has been known to write his love-thoughts on the heart of His people in so clear and deep a manner, that they have for months, and even for years, enjoyed an abiding sense of His affection. A few doubts have flitted across their minds like thin clouds before a summer's sun, but the warmth of their assurance has remained the same for many a gladsome day. Their path has been a smooth one, they have fed in the green pastures beside the still waters, for His rod and staff have comforted them, and His right hand hath led them. I am inclined to think that there is more of this in the Church than some men would allow. We have a goodly number who dwell upon the hills, and behold the light of the sun. There are giants in these days, though the times are not such as to allow them room to display their gigantic strength; in many a humble cot, in many a crowded workshop, in many a village manse there are to be found men of the house of David, men after God's own heart, anointed with the holy oil. It is, however, a mournful truth, that whole ranks in the army of our Lord are composed of dwarfish Littlefaiths. The men of fearful mind and desponding heart are everywhere to be seen. Why is this? Is it the Master's fault, or ours? Surely He cannot be blamed. Is it not then a matter of enquiry in our own souls, Can I not grow stronger? Must I be a mourner all my days? How can I get rid of my doubts? The answer must be: yes, you can be comforted, but only the mouth of the Lord can do it, for anything less than this will be unsatisfactory.
I doubt not that there are means, by the use of which those who are now weak and trembling may attain unto boldness in faith and confidence in hope; but I see not how this can be done unless the Lord Jesus Christ manifest His love to them, and tell them of their union to Him. This He will do, if we seek it of Him. The importunate pleader shall not lack his reward. Haste thee to Him, O timid one, and tell Him that nothing will content thee but a smile from His own face, and a word from His own lips! Speak to Him, and say, "O my Lord Jesus, I cannot rest unless I know that Thou lovest me! I desire to have proof of Thy love under Thine own hand and seal.
I cannot live upon guesses and surmises; nothing but certainty will satisfy my trembling heart. Lord, look upon me, if, indeed, Thou lovest me, and though I be less than the least of all saints, say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.'" When this prayer is heard, the castle of despair must totter; there is not one stone of it which can remain upon another, if Christ whispers forth His love. Even Despondency and Much-afraid will dance, and Ready-to-Halt leap upon his crutches.
Oh, for more of these Bethel visits, more frequent visitations from the God of Israel! Oh, how sweet to hear Him say to us, as He did to Abraham, "Fear not, Abram, I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." (Gen. xv.1.) To be addressed as Daniel was of old, "O man greatly beloved" (Dan. x.19), is worth a thousand ages of this world's joy. What more can a creature want this side of heaven to make him peaceful and happy than a plain avowal of love from his Lord's own lips? Let me ever hear Thee, speak in mercy to my soul, and, O my Lord, I ask no more while here I dwell in the land of my pilgrimage!
Brethren, let us labour to obtain a confident assurance of the Lord's delight in us, for this, as it enables Him to commune with us, will be one of the readiest ways to produce a like feeling in our hearts towards Him. Christ is well pleased with us; let us approach Him with holy familiarity; let us unbosom our thoughts to Him, for His delight in us will secure us an audience. The child may stay away from the father, when he is conscious that he has aroused his father's displeasure, but why should we keep at a distance when Christ Jesus is smiling upon us? No! since His smiles attract us, let us enter into His courts, and touch His golden sceptre. O Holy Spirit, help us to live in happy fellowship with Him whose soul is knit unto us!
"O Jesus! let eternal blessings dwell
On Thy transporting name. * * *
Let me be wholly Thine from this blest hour.
Let Thy lov'd image be for ever present;
Of Thee be all my thoughts, and let my tongue
Be sanctified with the celestial theme.
Dwell on my lips, Thou dearest, sweetest name!
Dwell on my lips, till the last parting breath!
Then let me die, and bear the charming sound
In triumph to the skies. In other strains,
In language all divine, I'll praise Thee then;
While all the Godhead opens in the view
Of a Redeemer's love. Here let me gaze,
For ever gaze; the bright variety
Will endless joy and admiration yield.
Let me be wholly Thine from this blest hour.
Fly from my soul all images of sense,
Leave me in silence to possess my Lord:
My life, my pleasures, flow from Him alone,
My strength, my great salvation, and my hope.
Thy name is all my trust; O name divine!
Be Thou engraven on my inmost soul,
And let me own Thee with my latest breath,
Confess Thee in the face of ev'ry horror,
That threat'ning death or envious hell can raise;
Till all their strength subdu'd, my parting soul
Shall give a challenge to infernal rage,
And sing salvation to the Lamb for ever."