Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Barbaric acts of Planned Parenthood

This is so disturbing, I can hardly speak. What kind of people commit such barbaric acts?! How true is this, "For the love of money is the root of all evil" 1 Timothy 6:10

It does NOT get any more evil than Planned Parenthood, and all who support their demonic acts. May God rise up and judge these barbarians.

the birth-day of blessing

"From this day I will bless you." Haggai 2:19

The affairs of the Jewish church had a remarkable turn given to them, both in history and prophecy, by the captivity in Babylon. Nine out of twelve of the prophets that are known to us as "the minor," lived and prophesied before the captivity, and often the "burden of the Lord" was denunciations of the people's sins, and stern threatenings of the punishment in store for them. With sad heart and in solemn language they foretold the doom that hung over the heads of the guilty nation.
The three remaining minor prophets commenced their work sometime after the return of the captivity — Haggai and Zechariah about eighteen years after. The building of the temple was at this time being greatly neglected, not only through the opposition of the enemy — but far more through the lack of spirit on the part of Israel. Both of these prophets sought by strong and stirring words to arouse the energy of the people in the prosecution of so good, as well as so national a work. Haggai began his exhortations some two months prior to Zechariah — but the latter continued them about two years longer.
In the chapter from which I have selected my text, you will find three distinct sermons for the encouragement of those who, under the influence of the words recorded in the previous chapter, had at last commenced the work in right down earnest.
1. From the first to the ninth verse he cheers the builders by the declaration that the house they were now rearing would far exceed in spiritual glory, though not in outward splendor, the one that bore the name of Solomon. It was in this temple that the Desire of All Nations, Hag 2.7 the "greater than Solomon," Mat 12.42, would walk and speak.
2. From the tenth verse to the nineteenth he comforts them with the assurance that though their own prosperity had been blasted through their previous slothfulness in the matter — yet from the time of their revival in the work, a renewed blessing would be given them.
Surely we may learn from this in passing, that neglect of God's work is often, to say the least, bad policy for our own success. They are short-sighted people indeed, yes, blind as bats, who imagine that by stinginess in the work of God, they will gain personal advantage. I venture to assert that the cause of much ill-success in life is often to be found in the lack of zeal for God's house. With the knife of their so-called economy, they cut their own fingers, and prune away their own fruitfulness. As they put their own affairs before God, He permits them to have but little to put. The best investment is consecration to the Lord and His work; and often the quickest way to fill our own barns is by emptying them into His lap. You look after God's cause — and He will look after yours.
Doubtless many of these Jews, like those of the present day, thought they could ill afford the time or expense of looking after a work not connected with their own private advancement; but they had to learn by experience the folly of their calculations, for God struck the produce of their selfish labors with mildew and with blasting.
3. In the third and last sermon, the prophet assures Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, and the foremost in the work, that he would have the high honor of being one of the ancestry of the Messiah. It is from the closing sentence of the second sermon I would speak to you this evening, "From this day I will bless you."
I think you will at once perceive the drift of my sermon when I remind you that the temple was a type of that church of which every individual believer is a living stone. From the day when the foundation of that temple is laid, the promise is ours.
When is the foundation day from which the blessing dates? This question may be answered in more than one way.
1. In one sense it is from everlasting, for God's people are in purpose part of the building from before all time. That day when sovereign love chose me, and enrolled my name in the list of the elect, was a day from which God says, "I will bless you" — that day when Jehovah chose me in the rubbish of the fall, to be a stone later quarried out and planted in the walls of his mystic temple. Every child of God will be able to trace back the blessing that has culminated in glory to the fountainhead of divine and imperial decree.
2. In a second sense, the foundation day may be dated as the day on which the atoning sacrifice was made. That day constitutes an epoch in the history and genealogy of blessing. It was the wondrous method of carrying out the gracious purposes of eternity. It was there that the rough material was bought at an dreadful cost. It was then gushed forth with the blood and water from the Savior's side, the silver stream of blessing, the praises of which we desire this night to sense. Every trembling penitent and humble saint can read o'er Calvary's cross, "From this day I will bless you!"
3. But the day whose blessing I want to tell, is the day when the result of the two previous ones mentioned, actually becomes ours. Not the day in which the rough material is chosen, nor the day on which the purchase price is paid — but rather the day in which the elected, blood-bought stone is raised from the dark quarry, and with shouts of "grace, grace to it," it is triumphantly placed on the rising walls. In other words, the day of conversion — the day in which is laid, as far as our experience is concerned, the foundation of our salvation — the day of which we often sing,
"Oh, happy day, that fixed my choice,
On You, my Savior and my God;
Well may this glowing heart rejoice,
And tell its raptures all abroad.
Happy day! Happy day!
When Jesus washed my sins away!"
Let us then look at the subject in this light. And to do so, we will divide our subject into two divisions, both found in the text.
First we have a specified day; and
secondly we have a declared blessing commencing from that day.

I. A Specified Day.
 This blessed day of conversion goes by different names in Scripture. It is too glorious to be described by any one name alone. I will mention only three.
1. The day of conversion is termed the "day of espousals" in Song of Solomon 3:11. It is the day in which Jesus, our Heavenly Bridegroom, wins the heart of His bride. He . . .
reveals to her His love,
shows her His beauties,
tells her of His sufferings for her sake.
He woos her by His sighs and tears and agonies, and lays siege to her heart on every side — while His lips drop honey-words of loving affection. Unable to resist such heavenly importunity, she finds her prejudices melting fast away; one barrier after another is broken down, and at last, allured by the magnetic power of His love, she gives herself to Him, and with tears of joy exclaims, "My Beloved is mine — and I am His!"
Oh, happy day, when the soul is espoused to Christ. All Heaven looks on and rings a marriage peal, while the sweetest music fills the new-born heart!
2. The day of conversion, is also spoken of as the "day of power." Psalm 110.3. This gives us a different view of the same transaction. It is a mighty act to convert a sinner — infinitely beyond the power of man, and glorifying even to the omnipotence of God. The sinner has been a rebel in arms, defying his God to the battle. There has been, if I may so express it, many a skirmish, in which the Lord has withheld His great strength. He has struck only lightly, and the sinner has been astonished and dismayed — but now in this day of conversion, He comes forth to certain victory. The strong man armed, may fight with all the fury of despair but 'tis a hopeless conflict, for the one "stronger than he" has taken the field against him, and taken it to win. Rampart after rampart is taken — stronghold after stronghold is carried. Before His mighty blows, doors of adamant give way, and bars of brass and steel are shivered to pieces. And now that the combatants have met, one sweep of the God's sword breaks down the uplifted shield and cleaves the boasted helmet. It is the day of the Lord's power, and conquered at His feet the rebel cries, "Lord, what will you have me to do?" "God be merciful to me, a sinner!"
Behold, mercy triumphs in the triumph. The same hand that struck the rebel down — now raises him from the dust! The arm that fetched the blow — now brings the balm! He who killed — now makes alive, and the repentant singer sings for his defeat
"Your mercy is more than a match for my heart,
Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart;
Dissolved by Your goodness, I fall to the ground,
And weep to the praise of the mercy I've found!"
3. The day of conversion, is moreover spoken of as "the day of salvation." Isaiah 49.8. There is no need for me to spend much time on this. The name describes itself. It is the day of salvation. It is the day in which the man is saved. It is the day in which the purposes and plan of salvation receive in him, their fulfillment. It is a glorious day, by whatever name it is called. I would to God that everyone in this great company had seen it.
We will now endeavor to speak a little about this day in detail, and first I would remark:
1. This day often has a CLOUDY MORNING. As in the creation of nature — so in the commencement of grace — the evening and the morning constitute the first day. The day of grace begins before there is actual light. The evening of the conviction of sin must be reckoned among the hours of the day. And how dark often is this night, and with what lowering clouds the dawn at last appears. The old adage says "it is always darkest just before dawn." Whether it is so in nature or not, I am not prepared to say — but I am sure of this, that it holds true to the breaking of this blessed day. Just before the light breaks in — the power of darkness makes its most desperate resistance. Just prior to the gladsome entrance of hope — the soul is often nearest to despair. And when standing closest to the frontier of salvation — it feels, it trembles, nearest Hell. Let those who like, make little of conviction of sin — we dare not. It is the evening that forms the early hours of the day.
We venture to declare that only those are pardoned — who have seen themselves condemned. Only those are saved — who have known themselves as lost! Amid the number of the white-robed saints in Heaven, there are none but those who have worn the sackcloth of repentance.
There are also many who are quite unable to call to remembrance the experience we have described. Their change has been so gradual, that no clear line is visible between the darkness and the light. But that does not alter the fact. The evening may have melted very slowly into day — and if you ask them now, they will with tears plead guilty to every sin, and say they were but Hell-deserving wretches when the grace of God first appeared to them — though when the grace of God appeared in all its fullness, they cannot now determine.
There are many here this evening now experiencing the darkness prior to the dawn. Legal terrors frighten them. Past sins appall them, and doubts and fears rend their hearts with anguish. They see their need of a Savior — but not the Savior whom they need. They behold a Hell that yawns to engulf them — but not the road that leads from the wrath to come. Their sins stare them in the face, and dazzle them by their scarlet hue — but at present they cannot perceive the atoning blood that washes white as snow. All the lightnings of Sinai flash before them, and its deep thunder they hear rolling over head — but as yet they have been unable to leave Sinai for Calvary, or hear the sound "that mercy utters from the cross."
With them, it is a season of gloom and struggle. Night and Day are doing battle in their breast, and it is no wonder if their soul is torn asunder between such mighty combatants. Satan, seeing he is about to lose them, makes one final horrid effort to retain them. Their case becomes the same as that lad possessed with the devil, who as he was still coming to Jesus, was hurled to the ground, and torn by the demon within. The most crushing falls and the most dreadful tearings are those the sinner has as he comes. Few, if any, find that the blessed day of our text commences as a "morning without clouds." 2 Samuel 23.4.
Now, dear friends, and I speak to those of you who are anxious — is there not something here to comfort you and cheer your hearts? Your sorrow of soul is only the dawn — your tears are only the harbingers of morning.
There was a time when you felt none of these things; when you lived in a deathly calm. Would you like to return to it? "Ah no," I hear you reply, "painful though it is, it is better than that. I would sooner spend years of anguish seeking Him, than be dead to all desire." True, dear friend; but believe me, the time of your rejoicing is at hand. The very darkness of your night tells me the dawn is near. Does your heart cry out as one of old from Seir, "Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?" Listen then to the answer, "The watchman said, The morning comes." Isaiah 21.11-12. You will yet thank God for your griefs, and praise Him for your sorrows. Do not think, dear friend, that there is no "blessed day" for you — there is! The hour of dawn is just about to chime, for this, the brightest of days, usually has the darkest of dawnings.
2. This day often has a SECRET DAWNING. I now desire to say a few words of encouragement to an exceedingly large class of Christians — a class I have already alluded to — those who cannot say exactly how or when they were converted. Every minister of the gospel is sure to have many come to him in anxiety, because they lack the clear remembrance many possess of the day of their espousals. Foolishly they fear that they can never have been converted at all, as they are unable to say it exactly when it was.
Am I speaking to such now? My dear friend, there is no cause why this should trouble you. If you know it is daylight with you now, then what does it matter as to what precise moment the dawn first broke? Indeed, I doubt if there are any of God's saints who do know the precise moment. They know the time when they were first conscious of the light; but before that, there had been the breaking of the day.
Can you tell me the exact moment when this morning commenced? Where there are two consecutive minutes in which you could say "now it is night" — and "now it is day"? No! Imperceptibly the darkness melted into dawn. Undetected by your eye, the night began to ebb and the light began to flow. Will you say on this account there is no day? You cannot; there are a thousand things that prove it.
You see its light — you feel its warmth — you have done its work. So it is with your spiritual life. You are not what you were — your loves and fears and hopes are the very reverse of what they used to be. You see things you once did not — you feel things you once did not — you delight to do things you once did not. "Old things have passed away, all things have become new." 2 Cor 5.17. Rejoice in the light, dear friend and be glad in the day, for it is not one whit the less real, because its dawning is too secret for you to detect.
Sometimes this day has an early dawn — and sometimes a long delayed dawn. God has no fixed age at which to convert. I grant that the vast majority are brought to the Lord in the days of youth and early manhood; but at the same time, there is no restriction to that age. The sun does not rise at the same hour all year round. Sometimes the early hours witness his glory, and at another season, those hours are dark as night; and it is left to later ones to see his light.
So it is in grace. Now it is the child in whose heart the dawn breaks — and now the aged white-haired sinner. I would remark here that sometimes the sun rises very early in the soul; far earlier I believe than many think.
There is, we know, a certain class of Christians — a class that we hope is lessening daily — which makes it a point to sneer at the idea of children Christians. "Pack of stuff!" they say "what can they know about these things; they don't know their own minds yet." And when the little ones are received into the Church, these wiseacres shake their silly heads, and say, "it will be the ruin of the Church." For a soul not to have been permitted by God to wallow in sin before conversion, seems to them rather a pity and a drawback.
I think those who know the most about Churches will bear me out in saying that it is not these little ones who generally bring disgrace upon their profession — but the contrary.
At all events, it is summer when the sun rises early, and winter when it rises late; and who would not rather have the long bright day than the short cold day? We have known Christians of seven years of age, whose piety it would be atrocious to doubt, and whose devotion and consecration would make many of riper years blush. Yes, thank God, in childhood's day the blessed day may have its dawn.
But it can rise late. Long may anxious friends have cried, "Watchman, what of the night?" Long may the answer have been, "Tis dark, 'tis dark, 'tis murky dark!" And yet, just when despair was about to set in, and hope flee, the joyful sound has been heard in the aged sinner's heart, "the morning comes!"
3. This day, like all others, has a SILENT DAWN. It is seen, but not heard. "Wait," says one, "is that correct? Can I not hear the rooster crowing and the tramp of the laborers going to their work? Is that not the dawn?" No, it is the result of the dawn — but not the dawn itself. If I may so express it, when she comes to open the gates of light, and unbar the doors of day — she comes with a tread so light, that it does not shake the dew from the blade of grass; and she draws on so silently, the keenest power of hearing finds the silence still unbroken. As silently as the snow melts upon the hillside, revealing by slow degrees the verdure that it covered — the darkness of night departs.
The work of grace within the heart can be perceived by its results — but not heard in its working. One yonder sighs, and says, "God be merciful to me a sinner!" Give thanks for it; it is the music of the dawn; but before that cry was heard, the dawn had come. "Lord save me, or I perish," prays another. It is a precious prayer; the dawn has given it birth — but not it the dawn. Perhaps the very one, who is now sitting by your side, has within his heart the breaking of day — but do you hear it? Like the dawn, grace comes with noiseless step.
4. The dawning of the day, like the dawning of all other days, is IRRESISTIBLE. Who can say to the advancing morn, "thus far but no further"? Suppose all the parliaments of the world were to decree that the dawn of the following day should fail. What effect would it have? Why, while they were resolving, the rosy light would come, and gliding through the windows of "the house," they would gently laugh in the faces of the senators, and bid them see their folly. If all the armies of the earth were to gather themselves together to war with the advancing dawn, it would but shine upon their weapons, and tell them they had no arms to combat her.
So it is with grace in the heart. No power of earth or Hell, or both combined, can delay the day of God's power for one moment. Scoffing shop-mates may say of the newly converted hand, "we will soon laugh religion out of him," but they will find their boast is vain. If the work is of God, it must stand. O, persecutors and opponents of the convert, your opposition is miserably futile. Go place a bit and bridle on the dawn, and hold it back — before you talk of arresting the onward march of this blessed day in the weakest saint.
5. The dawn is but the COMMENCEMENT of the day. There is a vast difference between the misty beauty of the early morning — and the magnificent glory of the noon tide. Yet they are but one day. The morning is the noon in childhood — and the noon is but the dawn fully developed. There is yet a greater difference between the trembling sinner as he casts himself in half despair upon the atonement — and the same soul as he stands in white before the throne; and yet the two things are but the result of the same grace. When he sought the Lord with tears — it was grace in the bud. And when he stands arrayed in glory — it is the same grace in full bloom. The one leads to the other, as surely as the dawn ripens into day.
And now, before we pass into the second part of our subject, for which only a few minutes remain, I want to ask my soul and yours one question of supreme importance: Have we ever known this day in our own experience? Has this red letter day — this never-to-be-forgotten day — dawned upon us? May the Lord help us now to answer this question as in His sight. And if we are obliged out of truthfulness to say, "No," then let the prayer now arise, "O, you, who said in creation's morn, 'Let it be light,' speak that word to me; and concerning my benighted heart, may rejoicing angels cry: Behold the dawn!"
II. A Declared Blessing. I will only be able to give you the outlines of this part of the sermon, and leave it to you, in quiet meditation, to fill up the details.
"I will bless you." A sermon might be preached from every word.
"I" — Behold here the person who blessed — The God of Heaven.
"Will" — Behold here the certainty.
"Bless" — Behold here the promise. What does this word not include?
"You" — Behold here the condescension.
We will, however, take it as a whole, and try, in a few words, to show what the blessing is.
1. It includes, first — all SPIRITUAL blessings.
Is PARDON a blessing? It comes with the dawn of this day, for in its hours the soul hears with joy, "your sins, which are many, are all forgiven!"
Is PEACE with God a blessing? It is on this day that Jesus walks upon the troubled waters of the soul, as He did on the waves of the lake of Tiberias, and says, "Peace, be still!" — and at his word there comes a great calm.
It is a blessing to be ADOPTED into God's family. From this day the sinner can look up and say with truth, "My Father, who is in Heaven."
Time would fail to tell of all the spiritual blessings with which we are blessed in Christ Jesus. The rosy hand of morn as it unbars the gates of light, throws open at the same time the treasury of God, and says to the new illumined one, "Take whatever you will." "Take whatever you will."
2. But this blessing is not confined to only mercies for the soul. It rests on all our temporal affairs. Do you ask, "How?" I answer, "It makes our little much, and our much a great deal more. The dry crust with His blessing — satisfies far more than the banquet without it. All comforts with His blessing, are multiplied a thousand-fold. Doubtless you have often had in your hand the ripe fruit and admired its beauty. But was it not "the bloom" upon the fruit that gave it, in your eyes, its special loveliness? Yes — God's blessing is the bloom that rests upon His gifts.
This blessing, moreover . . .
sanctifies our troubles,
removes the sting from our trials, and
takes away the bitterness of our grief.
God's blessing . . .
abides on our persons,
dwells in our homes, and
descends on our experiences.
3. Lastly, God's blessing extends to all future things. I can imagine one of you saying, "If it commences from this day — then how far does it reach?" Let us take a few steps and see.
The first step is to the SICK BED. All of us must come to that. Does the blessing extend to here? Listen! "You will make all his bed in his sickness," or as it may be translated, "you will turn his bed," even as the considerate nurse does. The blessing reaches here.
Let us take the next step. It is to the DEATH BED. Can you ask if His blessing abides here? The triumphant happy departure of a host that no man can number declares it to be so. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." Psalm 116.15
Shall we take another step? It is to the GRAVE. Lo! Here we find the blessing, for the grave has no longer any victory, and it is now but the quiet resting place of dust that is dear to God, and which He will raise again at the resurrection morning.
One step more, and it is the last. HEAVEN! Here is the blessing that dates from the conversion day — now crowned! I read that there is no curse there. Blessing, and nothing but blessing, fills the heavenly courts.
Oh! What a happy thought it is that in the day of conversion, a seed of blessing is sown that shall bloom with increasing splendor throughout the ages of eternity!

Poor sinner, attracted by this thought, cry out this evening, "Lord, give the dawn — Lord, give the dawn, even to this dark heart, for Jesus' sake!" Amen.

Archibald G. Brown, August 7th, 1870, Stepney Green Tabernacle

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A song about redemption

"Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done this wondrous thing. Shout for joy, O depths of the earth! Break into song, O mountains and forests and every tree! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob and is glorified in Israel." Isaiah 44:23

What is redemption, and what is there in it that particularly calls for a song? This is our subject for this evening's meditation. Deliverance by redemption is not a deliverance obtained by mere pardoning mercy, as in the case of the debtor, set free at his earnest entreaties; nor is it a deliverance accomplished by rescue, obtained by the exertion of force only; but it is a deliverance gained by the payment of a price — the full discharge given on receipt of the full amount due. When our Lord hung in "unknown agonies" upon Calvary's tree, he made Salvation certain for his own elect, by then and there paying down, not in gold or silver but in precious blood-drops, the redemption price demanded by an inflexible justice:
"From Bethlehem's inn to Calvary's cross,
Affliction marked his road;
And many a weary step he took
To bring us back to God.
But darker far the awful hour
When on the cross he cried,
'Tis finished,' the full ransom's paid,
Then bowed his head and died."

Yes, beloved, we have been bought by Christ; we no longer belong either to Satan, self, or the world — but to Him who has purchased his church with his blood, "In whom we have redemption."
The text which I have selected for this evening is a magnificent call to Heaven and earth to join in singing the glories of redemption — to preach from it in any measure as it should be preached from, the preacher ought to be in possession of a heart burning with gratitude through a more than usual consciousness of his saving interest in that redemption. How can he rise to the sublimity of the text, unless it is but the echo of his own soul's experience? May the Lord graciously aid and send "help from on high" while we endeavor to show:
first — In what particulars redemption call for a song,
and then — Who those are who should sing the song.
1. In what particulars does redemption call for a song?
My difficulty here will only be one of choice, for every particular of redemption is worthy of a sonnet. The whole is a golden harp, and every string has only to be touched in order to give the sweetest melody.
1. Certainly redemption calls for a song when we remember, first, ITS AUTHOR. Our text seems to teach this in its very wording, "Sing O heavens!" Why? "For the LORD has done this wondrous thing. Shout for joy, O depths of the earth! Break into song, O mountains and forests and every tree!" Why? "For the Lord has redeemed Jacob." In this is indeed a marvel of grace, demanding the highest anthems ransomed lips can raise.
What could man have been to Him? What shadow of obligation was there on God's part to put forth the slightest effort to save a single rebellious sinner? Had the whole human race like a roaring torrent been turned to Hell and left to roll its awful course until the end of time, who could have dared to impugn the justice of the doom? What could it have been to God whether man was saved or damned? He would have been glorified in either case, and still remained "The blessed (happy) God."
But sweet thought! It was much to him; his sovereign unaccountable love said, "Deliver him from going down to the pit — I have found a ransom!" The Lord has done it, and done it alone. With whom did he take counsel in this matter? Who paid part-price with him? Redemption is no work of the many; it is God's own in plan and execution; he came forth to the work "in the greatness of his strength," "mighty to save."
It is through the person of the Redeemer, that redemption gains its infinite value. He threw the weight of Deity in the scale. It was the altar of his Godhead, that made his atonement of boundless price; sufficient to make a just substitute for a myriad host of fallen men.
Let me try and more clearly explain my meaning by an anecdote. There was once a lady who undertook the task of instructing a deaf and dumb lad in the things of God; of course she could only speak to him by signs and pictures. She drew upon a paper a picture of a great crowd of people, old and young, standing near a wide and deep pit, out of which smoke and flames were issuing — on a corner of the paper she drew the figure of One coming down from Heaven on purpose to save them. She explained on her fingers to the boy that when this person came, he asked God not to throw the people into the pit, if he himself agreed to be nailed to a cross for them; and how sacrificed Himself upon the cross, and the pit was shut up! The deaf and dumb boy made signs that the person who died was only one, and the people saved many. How could God take one for so many?
The lady taking off a gold ring, put it beside a heap of withered leaves, and asked the boy which was the best, "the one gold ring — or the many dry leaves?" The boy clapped his hands, and spelled "the one! the one! the one!"
The Lord Jesus is the one gold ring whose atonement is sufficient for the many dry leaves. Think of redemption's author, and then "Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done this wondrous thing. Shout for joy, O depths of the earth! Break into song, O mountains and forests and every tree! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob and is glorified in Israel."
2. Another particular in redemption that specially calls for a song is ITS COST. Well may the believer stand aghast at the infinite price his soul's redemption cost. What that price was Peter tells us, 1Peter 1:18-19: "Not with corruptible things as silver and gold; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." And well also may he stand astonished at that incomparable love that paid the price demanded.
"This was compassion like a God,
That when the Savior knew
The price of pardon was his blood,
His pity never withdrew!"
The value of any article is in proportion to its cost to procure. The pearl that gleams on the brow of yonder bride is immensely precious, because of its rescue from the great deep at the risk of the pearl-diver's life as he was dragged into the boat, half-dead, with the blood gushing from his nostrils. Estimating redemption by this test, who can reckon its worth? The heavenly pearl-diver beheld us deep-sunken in the sea of depravity and sin; he not only saw — but he coveted the jewel, that it might forever flash in his imperial diadem. Stripping himself of the robes of Heaven, and laying aside the purple of royalty, he stood upon the battlements of Heaven, and sprang into the deepest part of the black ocean! Down, down he went — the floods roared over his head; "all your waves and your billows went over me!" He reached the holiest depth, for "he became obedient to the death, even the death of the cross;" and at the lowest depth he grasped the jewel and bore it triumphantly above! O ineffable love!
Gethsemane's bloody sweat; the bloodier scourging in Pilate's hall; and the ignominious death at Golgotha — were all part of the price he paid to ransom fallen man.
Behold, O saint, redemption's cost, and then, "Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done this wondrous thing. Shout for joy, O depths of the earth! Break into song, O mountains and forests and every tree! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob and is glorified in Israel."
3. Thirdly, I would try and strengthen the reasons for song by reminding you of ITS COMPLETENESS. Christ has so gloriously completed the work of redemption, that nothing can possibly be added to it, "the Lord has done it!" Isaiah 44:23 Unlike the atonement made by the Aaronic priesthood — Christ's atonement lasts forever. In their sacrifices, there was a continual remembrance made of sin. Year after year the high-priest entered into the holiest of all; every entrance witnessing that the previous atonement made was but of limited efficacy.
Paul, in his own masterly style, draws the vivid contrast between the two, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, "Neither by the blood of goats and calves — but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." "Nor that he should offer himself often, as the high-priest enters into the holy place every year with blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world. But now once in the end of the world, he has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself," Hebrews 9:12, 25-26. And once more, "Every priest stands daily ministering and offering often the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God." Hebrews 10:11-12.
Yes, the atonement of Christ is so infinite, that nothing more can or will be demanded by God throughout all ages. Never more shall the "Son of God" become the "man of sorrows;" Isaiah 53.3 never more shall Calvary's hill run red with a Redeemer's blood. If you are not saved by the atonement made, you must be most certainly damned — it is your only hope, "The Lord has done it," and will never repeat it.
View, believer, redemption's completeness, and then exclaim, "Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done this wondrous thing. Shout for joy, O depths of the earth! Break into song, O mountains and forests and every tree! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob and is glorified in Israel."
4. I would have you observe as a fresh incentive to song, ITS COMPREHENSIVENESS. Redemption has a giant's span. To dwell on all we are redeemed FROM, and redeemed TO — would take a week of preaching; and still we would then be no nearer the conclusion of the matter. It will take eternity to reveal all.
Let me therefore only mention a few of the most prominent evils from which we are redeemed. Beloved, if we are Christ's, then we have been redeemed from bondage to Satan. By sin, man has sold himself to the devil, "you have sold yourself for nothing!" The devil can claim his own; but those for whom Christ died are not his, for "they have been redeemed without money," Isaiah 52:3. Therefore his power over them is usurped.
Hands off! Hands off that man in the gallery! He is not yours, O Satan — but Christ's. Hands off that trembling sister in the aisle! She has been redeemed; washed in blood! Behold the Lord's mark on her forehead. Claim your own swine — but leave Christ's sheep alone. Yes, blessed be God, Christ has "delivered the lawful captive" Isaiah 49:24 from him that was too strong for him.
Are we not also redeemed from the guilt of sin? The black cloud that hung over us has been blotted out; as the verse previous to our text says, "I have blotted out as a thick cloud your transgressions, and as a cloud your sins; return to me, for I have redeemed you;" Isaiah 44.22. Our guilt has been removed so clean away that even God's holy eyes behold "no spot or wrinkle or any such thing." Eph, 5.27.
With the guilt, away goes the power of sin. We are no longer galley slaves to our own lusts — but Christ's free men to follow after holiness.
If we are redeemed from the guilt and power of sin — then we are also redeemed from the consequences of sin. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8.1. In relation to the saint, redeeming blood has put Hell's fire out. What Hell is — a redeemed soul never has and shall never know.
He has also redeemed us from the power of death. In Hosea 13.14, we read, "I will ransom you from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O death, I will be your plagues; O grave, I will be your destruction." There is no death for the child of God — he has only to walk through "the valley of the shadow of death." Death left its sting in Christ; the only sting death ever had was sin, and that is gone!
"It is not death to die,
To leave this weary road;
And 'midst the brotherhood on high,
To be at home with God.
O Jesus, prince of life!
Your chosen cannot die;
Like You they conquer in the strife,
To reign with You on high."
And to close this point, Christ has redeemed the bodies of his saints for the glories of the resurrection morn. "Even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, namely, the redemption of our body." Romans 8.23. The sleeping dust of God's departed host is included in the Redeemer's purchase; and when the archangel's trumpet sounds to announce the dawning of the resurrection day, then from marble sepulchers, forgotten graves, and the deep ocean — that dust shall arise in glorified bodies to proclaim the comprehensiveness of God's Redemption! Then "Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done this wondrous thing. Shout for joy, O depths of the earth! Break into song, O mountains and forests and every tree! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob and is glorified in Israel."
5. Fifthly and lastly, the highest cause for song is redemption, being that in which God has been pleased to glorify himself the most. "The Lord has glorified himself in Israel." All the attributes of God are most gloriously seen in Christ's work of redemption!
JUSTICE stands forth in magnificent grandeur right through the whole of the Old Testament — it was displayed in awful splendor . . .
when the rebel angels were hurled from thrones in Heaven — to beds in Hell;
when the old world was destroyed by a watery deluge; and
when Sodom and Gomorrah were turned to ashes with a rain of fire.
But Jesus hanging on the cross between two thieves until death terminated His agony — is the most amazing evidence of God's stern justice that ever has or ever shall be given throughout time or eternity! Never was justice so glorified, as when the cry rang through Heaven, "Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, against the Man who is close to me! Strike the Shepherd!" declares the LORD Almighty!" Zechariah 13:7
Think, moreover, of the glory that accrues to the infinite WISDOM of God through redemption.
"All worlds His glorious power confess,
 His wisdom all His works express."
But amid all the varied works of God, none so loudly proclaim "the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God — as that of redemption. Pause for a moment, and consider the demands made upon that wisdom. A plan of salvation was required which would . . .
show the greatest hatred for sin — and at the same, the greatest love for the sinner;
leave justice unimpaired, truth unviolated — and yet allow mercy to triumph;
at one and the same time fulfill all the threats against sin — and all the promises and types of a Savior;
satisfactorily and forever answer the question "How then can man be justified with God?"
This is a problem, which if all the angels had met in solemn conclave for ten thousand years to solve, would still have been infinitely beyond them. But divine wisdom triumphed, it found the answer that led to the solution, and in redemption, "Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other." Psalm 85:10
God is glorified,
sinners are saved,
and Satan is confounded!
That the POWER of God is magnified, I need only refer you to one passage — Ephesians 1:19-20. "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know... what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places."
The last attribute I will mention which received exceeding glory through redemption, is MERCY. "In this the love of God was manifested towards us, because God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him." 1 John 4:9
Would you know what God's love and mercy is? Then you must stand before the bleeding Savior on Calvary's tree, and read it there drawn out in crimson characters! In Christ, behold mercy incarnated — love embodied! It has pleased God to make redemption His chosen panorama of mercy. An old divine has well said: "May not a Christian turn Psalm 136 into gospel-language and say,
"O give thanks to our Redeemer; for His mercy endures forever.
To Him who said 'Lo, I come!' — for His mercy endures forever.
To Him who was born in a stable — for His mercy endures forever.
To Him who fulfilled the law for us — for His mercy endures forever.
To Him who expired upon a cross — for His mercy endures forever.
To Him who rose again from the dead, and ascended into Heaven to manage our affairs — for His mercy endures forever!"
Now, believer, rejoice, for your Lord is superlatively glorified in redemption. Make the language of the text your own, "Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done this wondrous thing. Shout for joy, O depths of the earth! Break into song, O mountains and forests and every tree! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob and is glorified in Israel."
II. Who those are, who should sing this Song.
I have dwelt so much longer on the first division than I intended, that but very little time is left for describing who the songsters ought to be. I will therefore only briefly mention them, and leave you to supply the deficiency in your private meditations.
1. The first called on in the text is, Heaven! "Sing, O heavens," and well you may, for redemption has shed fresh luster on your glories. The highest joy the angels can have, is that which arises from seeing their King glorified.
I have already endeavored to show that a glory beyond all glories flows to Christ through the channel of redemption. Therefore I am in no wonderment at the marked interest displayed by the angelic world in every step of that redemption. It was indeed the true Jacob's ladder, linking Heaven and earth, and therefore on every rung an angel stood. Sweetly they broke the still silence of that first Christmas morn, with such a carol as the world had never heard before. A shepherd band was "abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night," when, "lo, an angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them," and then the angel said, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people."
No sooner had this sweet gospel song died away into the previous stillness of the night, than a very constellation of angels shone round the astonished band, and sang as never mortal ear had heard before, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!" Luke 2:10, 14. Those who are "ministering spirits" to the saints, were also constant attendants on our Lord in his thirty years of sojourn here — this we know, that when our Savior was in Gethsemane weeping, all bathed in bloody sweat, there appeared "an angel strengthening him." Luke 22.43
In wondrous awe they must have grouped themselves, unseen to mortal eye, around the cross, and marveled at the love that would not call them to the rescue! With what ecstatic joy that angel (on the third morning's dawn) rolled back the stone. In what a delirium of rejoicing was Heaven thrown when the conqueror ascended,
"With scars of honor in his flesh,
 And triumph in his eyes!"
How the very walls of Heaven shook when all the assembled host shouted, "Lift up your heads, O you gates, and be lifted up you everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in!" Psalm 24.7
Sing, O you heavens! The answer comes rolling back, We do — we do!
Behold also the redeemed in Heaven!! Listen to their song, sweeter even than an angel's, "To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father — to him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen!" Do you tell them to sing? They answer back, We do — we do — and ever will. All Heaven unites in this redemption song.
Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done this wondrous thing. Shout for joy, O depths of the earth! Break into song, O mountains and forests and every tree! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob and is glorified in Israel
2. Let the Ransomed on earth take their part. "Shout for joy, O depths of the earth!" Whoever else may be silent, you must not. O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endures forever, let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from the hand of the enemy." Psalm 107:1-2.
Behold . . .
your serfdom gone,
your bonds broken,
your chains snapped,
your sins forgiven,
your Heaven secured
 — and then sing! Oh shame on us that we sing so seldom, and when we do, so faintly.
Where is our harp tonight? Hanging on yonder willow? Let us get it down, and
"Loud to the praise of love divine,
Bid every string awake!"
Believer, you are the lamb taken out of the lion's jaw, and delivered from the paw of the bear. Then sing your David's praise. Do not let the stars of Heaven make the stars of the Lord blush. They sing their Maker's praise — so you shout your Redeemer's praise!
3. Surely those who have loved ones that have been redeemed should join us in the song. Parents, do you not remember how you used to pray and weep, and then weep and pray, over that son of yours? Do you not remember how you almost despaired of his conversion? And do you not, above all, remember that day when those prayers were answered, that day when for the first time you beheld him seeking Jesus? Did he not, last Lord's-day evening, sit with you at the table of his Savior and yours? Oh sing, for the Lord has done it!
Are there not many of us who can think of parents — sisters — brothers — husbands — wives — that have been brought in by grace, and made truly one with us in the very closest of bonds, and should we not to be among the singers? We should indeed. Lord, help us tonight to sing that You have "done it."
4. Let me close by saying the trembling sinner has good cause indeed to join his voice with ours. Ah, anxious penitent, is tonight's text not a gleam of sunshine in your darkness? "The Lord has done it!" If done, then there can be no necessity for any addition of yours.
"Nothing either great or small,
Nothing, sinner, no;
Jesus did it, did it all,
Long, long, ago!"
Was blood required for your cleansing? It has been shed.
Was a righteousness necessary for your acceptance? It has been worked out.
All that the salvation of your soul demands, has been done. Cease then from trying to add to a perfect work. Go in your emptiness to the Redeemer's fullness. Venture your soul on him. Stake all your eternal interests on the complete atonement he has made; God help you to do that now, and then before you leave this tabernacle, you will say with a heart overflowing with gratitude, "Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done this wondrous thing. Shout for joy, O depths of the earth! Break into song, O mountains and forests and every tree! For the LORD hasredeemed Jacob and is glorified in Israel."

God grant that this may be the blessed result, for Jesus' sake. Amen.  
Archibald G. Brown

Converted to Christ

This is an amazing testimony from Eliza...

Salvation is through repentant faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning work for us on the cross and His resurrection from the dead.  I wasn’t raised by parents who knew Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  I had minimal experience with believers while growing up, however, when God was pleased He revealed His Son Jesus Christ to me.  It is likely that many of you can relate to my testimony that I am happy to share with you.  May God use this testimony of His grace and love in my life to bring Him praise and edify His saints.
My first experience with believers was when I attended church, with my sister, at about the age of four.  Since she is three years older than I am, she and I went our separate ways when we got to church.  In my Sunday School class the Sunday School teacher shared the gospel and in her zeal segregated myself and another child who did not want to trust Jesus.  She put us into the anteroom to replicate eternal separation from God in hell.  The little boy broke.  I was defiant and said that my dad was an atheist and we didn’t believe in God.  I never went to that church again.

This God our God!

Archibald Brown
East London Tabernacle
July 12, 1896

"For this God is our God forever and ever. He will be our guide even unto death!" Psalm 48:14
"You shall guide me with your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory!" Psalm 73:24
"This God is our God." This God who has such boundless power, who works such a glorious deliverance, who is known in the palaces of Jerusalem for a refuge — this God is our God, and will be our guide even unto death. And then, speaking in the 73rd Psalm, Asaph puts the finishing touch to this blessed statement. Not only will this God be our guide unto death, but afterward he will receive us to glory!
There are three things which I want you to look at:
We have, first, the glorious fact that this God is our God.
Then we have the very safe prophecy that this God will be ours forever, and will be our guide unto death.
Then, as the third point, we have the crowning mercy, and this we get from our second text. It is that God will not stop short with guiding us unto death, but that afterward he will receive us into his glory.
I. Let us look at the Glorious Fact That this God is Our GodThe text does not say that "a God" is our God, nor does it say that "the God of the heavens" is our God. The declaration is very emphatic. It is "this God;" that is, as Delitzsch renders it in his admirable version of the Psalms, "such an one"; such a God as has been portrayed in the previous verses of the psalm; the God that has been set forth all the way through the 48th Psalm. "This God is our God."
If the Holy Spirit will but help me this morning, I shall be able to show you that the word "this" is not the least word in the text. It is not an unmeaning little appendage. Everything lies in it. If I am to know how wealthy I am, it is necessary for me to know, not only that God is mine, but what kind of God my God is. I will, therefore, ask you to concentrate your thoughts upon the word "this." "ThisGod is our God."
It is evidently necessary that we should look into the psalm in order to see what is intended by the word "this." The very first verse gives you the clue: "Great is the Lord;" and then our text says, "this God", that is, this great God. The idea is that we have in our God, no mere local deity. He is not a second-rate God. He is no manufactured idol which, like the gods of the heathen, has to be carried by his worshipers. He is the great God. The men and the women of Ephesus went mad for many hours, and in their madness they ceased not to cry, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians"; but their foolish cry at last died out to their own confusion. But God's people are able, not in frenzy, but in much soberness and truth, to declare, "Great is the God of his people!"
He is great in himself. I confess that I never feel so utterly swamped, and so powerless to set forth in language even the thoughts that are in my own mind, as when the theme of my discourse is God himself. You may speak — I was going to say, with comparative ease — about the attributes of God, and about what God has done — but who of us knows who God is or what God is? Are there any frontiers to the greatness of our God? "Great is the Lord." How far goes the boundary? How great is he? That he is great in his powerand his wisdom, all nature declares. I do not need a Bible to tell me that there is a God of infinite majesty. "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork"; and I am persuaded that a little knowledge of astronomy would do untold good to all God's children.
I believe that, through our very ignorance of the heavens above us, we have a cramped idea of God. He becomes a sort of parochial deity; for, after all, what is this solar system? We may talk of the sun which walks forth in his brightness, and we may speak of this system of which our earth forms part — but, after all, what is it? Have you ever marked that sentence in Genesis, "And he made the stars also?" What an "also"! We know that each star is itself a sun, and that our sun which blazes every day is only one of millions, and though, up to the present time, no telescope has been able to discover the fact, yet in all probability every star that we see is a sun which is the center of a system of its own. And, when we have swept the entire Heaven with our telescopes, let us remember that we have, in all probability, only just seen the fringe of creation. How far space goes, and how far space is filled up with countless suns more glorious than that which shines overhead, and how many myriads of systems there are revolving in space, God only knows, though I hope to have an idea by and by when I get into the glory.
Let our thoughts fly a little way beyond this limited solar system, and be lost for a moment among the myriad suns, those points of light which are known to us as stars, and let us remember that, in consequence of the greatness of God's power, not one of them fails, and then we shall see that great is the Lord our God. He is great in his power, for he upholds all things; and he is great in hiswisdom, for he hangs the heavens upon nothing. Oh, the depth of wisdom by which God has balanced one world against another, so that, by his own law of gravitation, worlds help to uphold each other, and, being hung in space, they revolve round about him. In presence of that starry host our spirits cry, "Great is the Lord in power and in wisdom, and this God is our God forever and ever!"
And yet, when I talk about God being great in power and in wisdom, I only say the least that can be said of him, for revelation declares that he is great in CHARACTER. Nature proves that he is great in power; but come to this Word where God has been pleased to reveal himself, and what do we find in that? We discover God to be as infinitely sublime in character as he is great in power and wisdom. "Holy, holy, holy" is the cry of revelation. The infinitely glorious God is as full of love to his people, as he is full of power to uphold the stars. And this God is our God.
And not only is he great in character, but he is great also in all his OFFICES. As manifested in Christ Jesus, oh how he fills out and expands every office.
Is he a Savior? I read that he is "a great one."
Is he a Shepherd? He is "the great Shepherd of the sheep."
Is he a Priest? He is "our great High Priest."
Oh, our God is no little deity! All majesty dwells in him. "Great is the Lord", thunders out the first verse, "And this God is our God", says verse 14. What a wonderful psalm this is, if we merely take the beginning and the end of it and link them together. "Great is the Lord", is the shout of the first verse. "This God is our God", is the declaration of the last verse.
And then God is not only great. The word discovers more than that, for you will see in the 3rd verse that he is a God who is known and proved to be a REFUGE. "God is known in her palaces for a refuge"; and this God who is known as a refuge is our God. If time sufficed, I would like to call up an array of witnesses, and turn this platform into a witness-box so that you might listen to their testimony. Is God known as a refuge? That is the question which has to be decided, and you have to give the verdict this morning. Is God known as a refuge? Let the witnesses come.
I can see hoary-headed old Noah coming forth to bear his testimony: "I trusted God, and, though a world was drowned, he rescued me."
Is God known as a refuge? And the old patriarch Abraham says, "I proved him to be so. I had my hand upon the knife while my boy was on the altar, and in that dread moment God delivered me, and a new name was coined, and I called him Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord will provide."
Do you not think that David would come tripping to the witness-box and say, "I know God for a refuge. He delivered me from the paw of the lion, and from the hug of the bear; and he delivered me from the might of Goliath!"
And I am sure that Daniel would not be left out. He would say, "I know that I can bear a good witness. I went into a den of lions, and not one of them even breathed his hot breath upon me to discomfort me. I rested as sweetly that night as ever, because God was my refuge."
"Oh", you say, "that is very old history." Come along, then, my friend. Come out of that pew, and stand on the platform here yourself. Come and bear your testimony. Have you known God as a refuge? You have heard others say that he is. Have you ever proved him so? If I were to put it to the vote, I believe that every child of God who is here would be ready to spring to his feet and say, "I bear testimony that God is known by his people as a refuge." And this God who is so known is "our God forever and ever."
You will see in the 9th verse that, this God is a God of LOVING-KINDNESS. "We have thought of your loving-kindness, O God." "Loving-kindness" is about the most lovely word in the Bible. It is a mixture of two things, both of which are sweet — love and kindness; and when you blend them together you get loving-kindness. I have sometimes received kindness which was not particularly loving, and which on that account lost half its beauty; and I have met some people who were very loving, but they had not an opportunity to show their love in any practical kindness. But when we get love and kindness mingled, when the kindness has been shown in love, and when the love has manifested itself in kindness — then we have the acme of all that is blessed. Our God, great in nature, power, and wisdom, and great as a refuge, is a God who is known by his loving-kindness.
And, once more, he is One who is PRAISED as universally as he is known. That is a big thing which is said in the 10th verse: "According to your name, O God, so is your praise." And here let me acknowledge again that I have been utterly lost in my theme. Do you catch the thought? "According to your name, O God, so is your praise." I had been looking upon this fallen world, and I felt so disappointed. It seemed to me that it was such a barren bit of ground, and that my Lord reaped such a poor harvest of praise from it, that I almost felt sorry for him. I thought, "Lord, for one that loves you on this earth, it seems that there are a hundred that are indifferent to you." But I looked at this text, "According to your name, O God, so is your praise", and my thoughts went up among those worlds on high.
Is not God praised everywhere? Why, after all, what a drop in the bucket are all the inhabitants of this earth put together. How many myriads of angels are there, think you? And they all praise him. And who am I that I should think that the poor little world in which I happen to dwell is the only world that is inhabited? I have not a doubt that in every point of light in the heavens there are unfallen beings who bless and praise their Maker. I rejoice to think that, perhaps, the atoning sacrifice which redeemed one little world keeps myriads of systems from falling, and that through boundless ages their praises will ascend unto God. "According to your name, O God, so is your praise."
And — can we believe it — "this God", who is hymned by pure, bright spirits, of whom we know nothing, and who is worshiped and adored by the inhabitants of a million worlds, "is our God forever and ever!" There is not a landowner in England who can say concerning the fields which he calls his own, that they are his for ever. No, Mr Landowner. You cannot say concerning your farms or your fields, "These are mine forever and ever." Why, my dear sir, perhaps you will be buried in one of those fields before long. Theking cannot say concerning his crown, "This crown is my crown for ever and ever." After it has made his head ache enough, it will give a headache to his son, and then it will be passed on again. Business man, you cannot say concerning your business, "This is mine forever." You think that it is yours, and you look at that shop, and you say, "That is mine." But for how long will it be yours? There is not a Christian business man here who can say concerning his business what he can say concerning his God.
Is not this astonishing? I felt amazed when I thought that I was able to say more concerning my God, than I am able to say concerning my own child. I am able to say concerning my God more than I able to say concerning my own home or anything that I possess. "This God is our God forever and ever." He is our God "forever", and, as if that were not emphatic enough, the Holy Spirit adds, "and ever."
It is not fiction; it is not rhapsody; it is a splendid fact. God is the portion of his people forever. There are two passages in the Scripture which ought never to be separated:
One is, "The Lord's portion is His people." Deuteronomy 32:9.
And the other passage is this, "The Lord is my portion, says my soul." Lamentations 3:24
God and my soul possess each other.
God finds his portion in His people — and His people find their portion in God.
This God is mine, in all His glorious perfection.
His heart is mine, for He loves me.
His ear is mine, for I may pour into it all my tales of sorrow and all my songs of joy.
His eyes are mine, for they watch me from morning until night.
His hand is mine, for it is stretched out to uphold me.
Oh, He is a God of infinite glory. Abased in the very dust, and half bewildered by the thought, I yet dare to look up, and say, "This God is my God forever and ever. He will be my guide even unto death!" Psalm 48:14
The Lord help us to receive this blessed fact. It is not a dream; it is not a metaphor; it is not a poem. It is true of us all as we are gathered here, if only we are believers. This God is our God.
II. We have also here A VERY SAFE PROPHECY. It is that this God who is ours, "will be our guide even unto death."
"Our guide." Then we are a pilgrim company. The wealth of the believer is not discernible. As I look at you from this platform, if I did not know your life and your history, I could never guess which was the lost sinner and which was the saved saint. One looks quite as respectable as another. I will defy anybody to pick out God's saints by their external surroundings. Indeed, often God's choicest saints are earth's poorest sons. Very often God's most choice children are earth's sickliest, weakest, humblest, and most despised ones. The men who can lay their hands upon this psalm, and say, "This God is my God" are but a poor pilgrim host, and they need guidance.
Do you grasp the wonderful thought that is contained here? This God, this great all-glorious Lord, this God that is being sung of by a myriad worlds today, takes his place as our guide, and he says, "I will go before you as I went before Israel. I will mark out your path, and I will lead you along it."
How does he guide us? You will now see why we have added to the first part of our text the words taken from the 73rd Psalm. Those words are very humbling, but they are very instructive. "You shall guide me with your counsel." But who is the one whom God is willing to guide? Now read from the 22nd verse: "So foolish was I." Well, I think that a great many of us can say that. That just suits me. I feel that I am among God's foolish ones. And what are the next words? "And ignorant." Yes, and that word also describes me with remarkable correctness. I am conscious that I am both foolish and ignorant. The man who says this of himself is the man who says that he is going to be guided.
But he is not done yet. He says, "I was as a beast before you." You must not call anybody else a beast, but if you like to call yourself one, you are at full liberty to do so, and you have given yourself rather a complimentary title, for, in many respects, we are all evenlower than the beasts. No man of God who knows anything at all about himself will hesitate to say, "I was as a beast before you."
And what does he mean by that? I was as short-sighted as a beast. Just as an ox never looks back through the centuries that have passed, or troubles his bovine brain about the years that are to come, but is occupied with the grass that is at his mouth — so have I often been earth-occupied and short-sighted.
I have been like a beast, stubborn and stupid, as if there were no starlit worlds overhead. I have been as a beast before you; and yet, though I was so foolish and so ignorant, and though I have often been so beast-like, "nevertheless I am continually with you. You have held me by your right hand. You shall guide me with your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory."
III. Let us pause for a moment here. This leads us up to THE CROWNING MERCY. Our first text only says that God will be our guide unto death, and does not go beyond that goal. A dear brother who is worshiping with us this morning gave me this text. He said to me, "Has it ever struck you that it is very singular that God should guide anybody unto death?" It does seem strange, does it not? I know very well that the primary meaning there is a reference to time, and that it indicates that God will guide me all my life until I die; but that does not alter the fact that God guides us unto death. We would have thought that it would have been that God so guides us that we should escape death. But no, it is God guiding us unto death.
Even the divine leading affords no escape from death. That is a penalty which I have to pay. Wherever there is sin, there must be death. Ah, but, if God guides me unto death, I do not think that I need be afraid to die. If God takes me by the hand and leads me, though it be up to that last monster, I will not be afraid. If God guides me even into the sepulcher, I need not shrink back. Death loses its gloom, and the terrors of death depart, the moment that we realize that God guides us unto death.
But dear Andrew Bonar, no mean scholar, points out that instead of the word "unto" it should be "over" or "beyond." "This God is our God forever and ever. He will be our guide even over death." He does not bid me good-bye at the dying moment. He does not guide me into the river, and say, "Now you must swim that bit for yourself." He does not guide me into the dying crisis, and say, "Now that I have brought you up thus far, you must scramble through the remaining hours alone." He will guide me over or beyond death. And what then? Then Asaph in the 73rd Psalm finishes it: "And afterward, after he has guided me up to death, and after he has guided me over death, he then will receive me to glory!"
"This God!" Imagine this God receiving me to glory. Can you take in the idea? This God that we have seen to be so majestic all the way through the psalm — this God is going to receive me.
But my text says that he is guiding me. How can a guide receive me? Have you never read in the New Testament that he shall present us unto himself? That is just what he is doing. God in the Trinity of his persons is guiding me by the Holy Spirit along that blessed way consecrated by the Lord Jesus; and Jesus is going to pass me over unto the Father, a redeemed soul, and this glorious God will receive me! He will receive me into glory at the hands of his own dear Son.
All God's receptions are welcomes. This is more than can be said of earth's receptions. I sometimes have a card sent me — I suppose by way of compliment — for admission to some reception that is given in connection with religious or social work. I confess that I am afraid of these receptions. I have been to one or two, but I have got so thoroughly frozen that I have steered clear of such refrigerators ever since. If there is anything which is a deception, it is what is called a reception; and, if there is anything that does not receive you, it is that which by form and title professes to do so. The Lord Mayor, perhaps, and a few aldermen in big cloaks and golden chains are there to meet you, and your name is shouted out at the door, and somebody bows, and so you are "received." A beautiful reception that is!
That is not how God is going to receive us. The eternal Jehovah — I say it with reverence — the eternal Jehovah, with a face beaming with delight, will say to me in that day, "Welcome, welcome, purchase of the blood of my Son! Welcome, trophy of the blessed Spirit's power! Welcome in!" And I, astonished, shall say, "Where, Lord?" and he will say, "Into glory. Welcome into the glory!"
That is what lies in the "afterward." Are you going home depressed? Then ask the Lord to take this morning's text, and to lodge it in the very center of your being, and you shall sing, "This glorious God, this great Lord, is mine. He is my own forever and ever. He will be my God unto and beyond death, and after that he will receive me into glory!"

Better than all!

Archibald G. Brown, May 1st, 1870, Stepney Green Tabernacle
"What is your beloved more than another beloved, O fairest among women?" Song of Solomon 5:9
O, how willing is our Jesus to hear the prayers of his people, and respond to their call. His delight is to fulfill their desires, and satisfy their longings. It is no weariness to Him to listen to their sorrows, and give ear to their requests. Indeed, his ear is more ready to drink in our words, than are our lips are to utter them. He places no restrictions on our approaches to His throne, nor does He utter a syllable to dampen our ardor or chill us in our fellowship. On the contrary, He is lavish in His invites, and endearing in His encouragements, and does His very utmost to draw out our hearts' deepest secret.
His language to fearing souls who tremble to draw near, is "let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for sweet is your voice and your face is lovely." Song 2.14.
How swift is He, moreover, not only to hear but to answer — He waits to be gracious. In our Jesus we have no Baal, who being on a journey, is unable to hear the frantic cries of his worshipers, though they cry from early morning until dewy eve. In Him we have no Diana, who according to ancient mythology, was unable to prevent the burning of her temple, owing to the necessity of her being at the birth of one of this world's great ones.
Jesus is always near His own, and ever ready to support them in seasons of distress. There are no times when we may not draw near to Him. Every day, every hour of the day, and every minute of every hour, is "a time when you may be found." Psalm 32.6.
The ancients used to represent their heathen god, Jupiter, as looking at certain seasons through the chinks of Heaven's floor; whoever then happened to address his prayers might hope for an audience — but not otherwise.
But our God — Jehovah Jesus — is ever viewing his people, and straining his ear of love to catch their faintest whispers.
We have a very beautiful illustration of our Savior's readiness to answer the request of his chosen ones, in the commencement of the chapter from which I have selected this evening's text. The church has just given utterance to the fervent desire that her beloved should come and walk in His garden, and eat of His pleasant fruits — or in other words, favor her with His company and bless her with communion — when no sooner have the words escaped her lips, than the voice of the heavenly bridegroom replies, "I have come into my garden, my sister, my spouse." Song 5.1.
Rapid was the response to the invite — but not more rapid than the change that had taken place in the church's experience. In order to understand the full meaning of the words of our text, let us recount the history.
After the church had given her Lord the invitation to communion — a spirit of drowsiness settles down upon her, and, alas, who among us has not often found so sad and sudden a transition of experience to be his own. She asks for her Beloved to come — but when He does, how cold is the reception He meets: "I sleep — but my heart wakes."
She has laid herself down on the couch of carnal sloth, and is unprepared to receive her invited guest. Drowsy though she is, she is not in the sleep of spiritual death, for she is sufficiently awake to know the voice that calls her. It is, she says, "the voice of my beloved," but she is too slothful to arise and let the heavenly bridegroom in. Full of infinite tenderness and boundless compassion, the slighted guest does not turn away in indignant wrath, as he might so justly and righteously have done; but behold, He knocks at the closed door, and in a voice of mingled love and grief, he urges his claim for admittance in the plaintive language of the second verse, "Open to me, my sister, my love, for my head is filled with dew and my locks with the drops of night."
O, lovely picture! Do you see it, beloved? There on the couch is the slumbering church — wretched in her drowsiness. There is the closed door. Outside, knocking and quietly waiting stands One with a countenance, beautiful beyond all description, in love and grief. A heavy mist wreaths everything around with a silvery mantle, and causes those flowing locks, which are black and bushy as a raven, to drip with the night dew. All is cold, damp, and cheerless, and there are but few who have not sought the shelter of their homes, and those few are hastening there.
He knocks again! Ah! Listen to the answer that follows that quiet knock. "I have taken off my coat; how can I put it on again? I have washed my feet; how can I dirty them?"
Surely she must be acting on the old adage, "that a bad excuse is better than none at all." Poorer excuses for keeping her Lord in the night damps can hardly be imagined. Suppose you have put off your coat, is it an impossibility to put it on again O, sleepy soul? Though you have washed your feet, will not an embrace from the Beloved more than make amends for their defilement?
As with her, so it is with us. When the soul is in a lethargic state, a straw, a pebble, a cobweb, a mere nothing will seem an inseparable barrier to communion with Jesus. When at other times, an Alpine mountain will appear but a hillock over which the happy spirit skips.
With a love unabated by these rebuffs, the bridegroom puts his hand in by the hole of the door, and at the same moment lifts the latch of her heart. It is enough. The drowsiness departs. Old desires awaken. A dying love becomes inflamed. She springs from her bed to the door. The coat is forgotten and the washed feet unthought of. With nervous haste, she opens wide the door, when, O, horror — nothing but the gloom of night is seen. Her beloved has withdrawn Himself.
Our Savior chastens us for our coldness to Him when He invites us, by hiding Himself, when with repentant hearts we seek Him. Such base ingratitude will ever bring its own punishment. Seeing how little we prize His company, He withdraws Himself for a season to endear to us His companionship. We never know how much we need a Savior's presence — until we lack it. This absence does indeed make the heart grow fond. Overwhelmed with dismay, her soul fainted and through her sorrow she swooned. With what bitter self-reproaching she now loads herself. With what wringing anguish she thinks of Him standing in the falling dew, while she was framing her miserable excuses. And now He has gone, and she cannot even tell Him how vehemently she hates her sloth. She feels she has grieved Him. Him who has ever been so kind. Him for whose company she asked.
What can she do? What will she do? Retire to rest again? No, that would now be an impossibility. Find Him she must. Cast herself at His feet she must, if it is only to sob out her broken hearted confessions of sin.
I think I see her, as with wild distracting grief she hurries from her house into the deserted streets. In an agony, she cries out and calls, "My Beloved, my Beloved!" But receiving no answer except the empty echo, she runs from street to street, up this one and down that one, in the hope that she may meet her Lord.
She did not meet Him — but I read that she met the watchmen who went about the city, who struck her and wounded her. Who these watchmen represent is not agreed upon. Some think they are the ministers of the Gospel — Zion's watchmen; and others that they represent false teachers in the church. I am inclined to go with the first interpretation, and then I think the teaching is very clear. Mourning an absent Lord, the soul goes to the sanctuary in the hope that there it may find Him; but instead of doing so, the preacher is led to utter such truths, that the sorrow of soul is only increased. He reminds the soul of its previous slothfulness. He shows it the sin in darker colors than ever. He dwells upon the unkindness of the past. Word after word strikes home, and almost every sentence wounds. This is only necessary discipline, and the preacher may have been as much under the guidance of the Master as when his whole sermon was a "Comfort, Comfort."
But now what is the poor, desponding, weeping soul to do? She has traversed every street, and her voice is hoarse with calling, while every limb aches with the blows that the watchmen gave her. A happy thought occurs to her. If she cannot find the Lord — perhaps others may. If He hides his face from her — He may reveal it to others who are "daughters of Jerusalem;" then she will ask them to tell her Lord how she longs for His presence, and how she repents her previous sloth. "I charge you, O, daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, tell him that I am sick from love." Song 5.8.
She acted in the same way that Joseph did when in prison, saying to the chief butler, who was shortly to be restored to his former high position, "think of me when it is well with you." Gen 40.14.
Ah, dear friends, it is a blessed privilege to be allowed to remember others in our prayers; and when we are full of joy, resting in the love of our Jesus, it is incumbent on us to speak to Him on behalf of those who are going here and there in search of Him. How little we can tell the amount of obligation we are under to others — perhaps humble Christians — for their prayers.
I do not have an atom of faith in the so-called intercession of saints in Heaven; but I have faith in the prayers of God's children on earth. My heart is often made glad in seasons of despondency and gloom, by the thought that there are many of you, who I know bear me up constantly in your prayers. God alone knows how large a proportion of the great blessing we have now received for so long a time, is in answer to the fervent cries of some of the humblest members of this church.
Beloved, I still crave the blessing of your prayers. When you are near to your Savior, remember me. When you have found Him after a season of loneliness, tell Him that I and hundreds more of his saints are longing and panting for more of his presence; yes, that we are love-sick through our very love of Him.
Desirous of hearing from the spouse's own lips what she thought and felt towards her Beloved, they ask her the question of our text, "What is your beloved more than another beloved, O fairest among women? What is your beloved more than another beloved, that you so charge us?" Or in other words, "What is there so preeminently lovely in the one you seek, that you give us so solemn a charge?" The question stirs her heart to its deepest depth, and in the rhetoric of love she pours forth the glowing description of her Savior, which forms the closing portion of this chapter.
My subject this evening, you will perceive, is the incomparable excellence of Christ over every other beloved. May our Lord make it to each and all of us a sweet preparation for sitting around His table.
We will in the first place, for a few moments, observe that all have some beloved,
and then secondly, that Christ surpasses all beloveds.
I. First then and very briefly — all people have some beloved.
By a beloved, I mean any person or anything that more than any other occupies the thoughts — entwines about itself the affections, and constitutes the mainspring of the person's actions. That is a beloved on which the thoughts dwell with pleasure — and without any effort — in which our love centers with a force that affects and regulates the whole life, and which, in a word, is our life's end and our life's joy. For a man to be utterly devoid of such an experience, is an impossibility. His taste may be a depraved, vitiated, senseless one; but there it is, a hideous idol, at whose shrine he offers himself.
We have no time or inclination this evening to dwell on the multitude of beloveds found in the hearts of men. We can only just mention them and pass on; and we only mention them in order to make them a dark background on which to display the beauty and glory of Him who is, we trust, to many hundreds present, their souls' best love.
The beloved of many is MONEY. Their thoughts can only run on golden rails. No matter what subject of meditation may be started, it is sure at last to end in money. They look through its medium — they reckon by its value — they live under its influence. Whatever affection they ever possessed, has been stolen by this cursed idol! It has eaten as a canker into all that was ever warm or generous in their hearts, and now it lives upon itself, creating an ever-increasing gnawing and craving. Money is at the bottom of almost all their actions, and for them to live is cash. Such alas! is the chosen beloved of many.
But there are others of lighter, gayer dispositions who laugh to scorn the miser's treasure, and cast their offerings at the feet of PLEASURE. For it they live — in it they revel. If life is short — it will at least be merry. All stern realities are put aside with a laugh, and such gloomy subjects as sickness or death are prohibited matters of conversation. The world and the things of the world, constitute their beloved, and they pursue it with a blind devotion.
Fame — learning — position in society — self — family — friends — all these and countless others are each the beloved of thousands. Do not think we have any desire to condemn all the "things beloved" we have mentioned; far from it.
For while some are base, groveling and downright sinful — there are others that adorn as jewels the character of the Christian, and without which his very Christianity might well be called in question.
No, my desire is to show and feel, and make you feel that Jesus is infinitely more than any other, and that no other beloved can possibly be compared to Him. His excellence is such, that the anguish of losing His presence, and the anxiety to find it again — will make the believing soul a marked person, and will often lead to the question, "What is your beloved more than another beloved?" Let us then get to the sweet work of answering the question, and singing our beloved's praise.
II. Christ surpasses all other beloveds.
No question is more easily answered by the Christian, than the one in the text. The most ignorant and simple-minded children of God can grow eloquent on this theme. Whatever points of theology they may know little about, they know there is no one like Christ. Their beloved is beyond all others, and they are ready at any moment to prove it. Get them on this subject, and their tongue becomes like "the pen of a ready writer," though on any other subject, they are little better than tongue-tied. Let me then try and show you HOW Christ surpasses all beloveds.
He does so first, in BEAUTY. How magnificent is the description that flows from the lips of the spouse, when she is challenged to show the superiority of her beloved. Her love lacks no rhetoric — true love very seldom does. Her whole soul is now on fire, and the flame burns all the more intensely for the remembrance of her past coldness. But now she has an opportunity of saying what she really thinks about her Lord, and without a moment's hesitation she pours forth a glowing eulogy on his beauty. We can only pick out two or three of her rapturous descriptions this evening, and ask you to peruse them all at your leisure.
"My beloved" she exclaims, "is white and ruddy, the chief among ten thousand!" Song 5.10. Here you have the perfection of loveliness — not merely ruddy, nor only white, though there may be beauty in both — but white and ruddy — the rose and the lily united, the fairest contrasts meeting in the same person. O, is it not so with our Beloved? Is there any beauty to be compared to His? Cannot even we, like the spouse in the Canticles, exhaust the fairest metaphors to tell his attractiveness? Her beloved is our beloved, and the same language describes both. Was hers white and ruddy — so is ours. Was hers the chief among ten thousand — so is ours.
White and ruddy! Ah, here believer, see your Lord, for who is so white and ruddy as He? Who is so lovely in these blended colors as He? View Him in Gethsemane's shade, trodden in the winepress of Jehovah's wrath. Mark his wan and saddened countenance, pale as driven snow. Your beloved is white.
But see at every pore there gathers a ruby drop — a drop of blood; and now he is robed in a garment of His gore Your beloved is ruddy. Glance at Him again as He stands in Pilate's hall, bound with cords to yonder column. See how white and ruddy is your beloved now, as at every furious blow the crimson tide afresh pours down his back. Linger by His feet at Calvary — look into that face the eyes of which are well-near blinded by the bloody shower falling from His thorn-crowned brow — see the mingled stream of blood and water gushing from His riven side. Your beloved is white and ruddy now. True — but it only adds another charm to His loveliness. Like the spouse we glory in it, "Beauteous Savior, your blood drops are your charm."
And now the repentant sleeper dwells with delight upon every detail of her beloved's loveliness. She thinks of those eyes into which she has so often gazed, and which have so often returned a look of love unutterable; and at the remembrance she exclaims, "His eyes are like the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set." Song 5.12.
Can we not also speak of the eyes of our beloved. Was not that look of His that broke our hearts? And when with bleeding soul we ventured near Him and feebly cried for mercy, was it not that look of divine compassion and welcome pardon that sent sweet peace flowing into our soul like a river? And when like Peter we have denied Him before a scoffing world, have we not also like Peter been restored by just one look at those eyes, soft and loving as a dove's. Ah, yes, there are no eyes like our Beloved's.
And now having described his cheeks and locks, she pauses to think what else she can say in praise of His beauty. There is but a moment's pause, and then love's rhetoric takes its highest flight and places the crown on all previous praises in the exclamation — "Yes, He is altogether lovely!" Song 5.16
Our beloved is more than others in that He reciprocates my love. That must be an inferior beloved, that allows all the love to be on one side; and yet how often is it so with the beloveds chosen by many.
Can gold return the love that is lavished upon it? Can it make any return for the affection shown? No, not a whit. It receives all — but gives none. View the man who for years has chosen wealth as the recipient of his heart's love. View him in the hour of sorrow and bereavement when all other comforts fail. Does he find his wealth a solace? Does it bind up the heart that is broken? Does it become the good Samaritan pouring in oil and wine? Never! If you doubt it, ask the men who have tried.
When friends prove false, and bosom friends grow cold, does gold whisper into the ear of the embittered soul, "be comforted, I love you, and will never, never forsake you." No, it has no power to love. When the devotee of gold has to die, can his beloved stand by him then? Can it speak to the ears that are deaf to every other voice? Can the dying wretch say concerning it, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me?" Psalm 23.4. He cannot. He has wasted his heart and life's best love on that which fails him at his greatest need. His beloved is a dumb idol, when he most needs a voice. It is unconcerned and indifferent in the moment of his greatest agony.
O cold-hearted wealth, you who have never yet returned love for love, I marvel at the number of your lovers. My beloved is more than you.For every drop of love I have towards Him — there is in His heart an ocean full for me.
He is more than any other beloved also, because He is never a cause of sorrow. Can you point me to any other love that never gives a pang or brings a tear?
God knows that as parents, our CHILDREN are our beloved. But are not children sometimes the sharpest dagger that ever sheaths itself within the breast? In this concourse of tonight, are there none who find their children to be their greatest trial? The greater the love the greater the grief, is too often found true in the family.
Have any of us ever had a FRIEND who has never given us one moment's anxiety or sorrow? I think not. Earthly honey is always mixed with gall — and this world's fairest rose is ever accompanied with thorns.
But Jesus is a beloved who is all joy. His friendship is sweeter than honey, and the rose of Sharon has no thorns. I challenge my soul and yours, O child of God, to remember a solitary moment in our Christian life, when the heart was made sad by lack of faithfulness on His part, or coldness in His love. No, no, our sorrows are our own — and all our joys are His. It is confiding too little in Him, not too much — which gives us days of darkness. We have never had, and we will never have anything to fear, on His part. He is always true, ever loving — never fickle and never false. O, what beloved then can be compared to Him?
Other beloveds may be loved too much — but Jesus never. Love to Him can never become a snare — love to Him need not and should never have any restraint. Love Him to a passion — and you will not love Him half enough. Let your love be what the world will call fanatical, and lead you to do things that it will account as madness — and it will then be but a poor dying love, unworthy of its object. O open the flood-gates of your souls, and let an unpent torrent of affection flow out that will carry all before it. Cut every cord that would bind your love, cast aside every impediment in its course. Do not rest until your love to Jesus has risen like a heavenly deluge flowing over every mountain top of earth — and then pray to love him more. He is a beloved beyond all others, and love to Him can never be extreme!
Our beloved is more than others in that death does not rob us of Him. Death carries a sharp knife, that severs the closest bonds of earth. The dying miser may breathe his last with the gold still in his death-grasp — but he must leave it — yes, every penny! The mother may hug her darling to her breast with all the strength of parental love — but death releases her hold, and takes her from her treasure"For the present only" is written upon the brow of all earthly loves.
It is far different with our Beloved. The cold black wave that washes us away from everything on earth, only washes us high upon the heavenly shore and leaves us landed in His arms. In Him we have a treasure we take with us through the flood — or rather, in Him we have a treasure that takes us through the stream.
O, child of God, rejoice! For however poor you may appear, you have that which will make you rich to all the intents of bliss — when death has stripped every worldling bare, and laid in the dust every beloved he once possessed. Blessed Jesus, who can help but extol You and exclaim, "There is no beloved to be compared to You!"
No other beloved DIED for me — but Jesus did. Great and wonderful are the sacrifices that have been made through love. Selfish though human nature is, there have yet been deeds of affection worthy of an angel. But how few friends have died for friends, or have even reached that point of love that would make them willing to. But I think I hear some of you say, "Where is the superiority of your beloved over others? Have you not just granted that some friends have died for friends? Yes, friends for friends. But did you ever hear of one willingly dying for His enemies?
Remember our Beloved loved us to the death, not because we loved Him — but because He would love us, though we were ungodly enemies against Him. So you will perceive that we have here a love beyond that ever shown by friend to friend, being displayed to enemies.
Yes, blessed Jesus, you have written your love to us in letters drawn with blood. You stand before us this evening with scars still visible, and pointing to them, you say, "Did any other beloved suffer such for you?" No, Lord! No, Lord! You are peerless in your love. Like yourself, it is infinite and defies all measurement in its height and depth, in its length and breadth. Concerning You alone, can I say, "He loved me, and gave Himself for me."
And now, lastly, our Beloved is more than any other beloved in our estimation. Whatever others may think of Him, to me He is the chief among ten thousand — the altogether lovely one! Notice how the spouse concludes her address to the daughters of Jerusalem, in the last verse of the chapter, "this is my beloved, and this is my friend." Song 5.16. It is only those who do not have Christ, who see no beauty in him. It is only the mere professor who places the Lord on an equality with other beloveds. The true saint — the one who can say "this is my beloved!" will allow no comparison. A holy jealousy fills his heart, and he counts the dearest thing that would usurp his Lord's position in his heart, as an accursed idol. The sad reason why so many of you present are unable to understand the rapturous love of the saint to his Savior, is because you are unable to say "He is my Beloved." Once you learn to say that with truth, you will no longer marvel — but join us in our song of praise.
I will now conclude with just these few PRACTICAL WORDS. If Jesus is all that he is described in this sweet chapter — and we know that He is — let us give Him a love that in some small measure is worthy of his excellence. Let us hang down our heads with shame, as we remember how cold and formal we have been with such a beloved. And while we do so, let there be a fresh dedication on the part of us all, to Him who is so peerless in His love and beauty.
Is there a child of God here, who through past slothfulness is now mourning an absent Christ? Oh go dear friend into the streets of Jerusalem and cry after Him. Yes, that is what I know you are doing now. Then cheer up. He is not far from you. He only hides Himself behind your wall. He sees your tears — He hears your sobs — He knows you are love-sick — and soon will He come and take you into his banqueting house under his flowing banner of love.
Poor lost sinner, I want you to fall in love with Jesus, I desire to make a marriage between your soul and Him — to woo you into his arms. What are your present beloveds compared to Him? What satisfaction have you found in them? How long can you keep them? O turn your back upon them — and look into the face of Jesus and say, "O Savior, from this evening I receive You as my beauteous Savior. I take You as you so freely offer yourself. You are and ever shall be, my Beloved."