Preached at Brighton, England, 1856 - by John Vinall.
"I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine."
This song sets forth the love, union, and communion between Christ and his church. There must be union before there is any communion. The song is written in the way of dialogue, Christ and his church conversing sweetly with each other; and the third parties introduced are the daughters of Jerusalem. Who are they? Weak believers, or babes in grace. "I am black but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem." Here the church is speaking under a feeling sense of what she is in herself. I am black in myself, and yet in Christ all fair. "Thou art all fair, my love; there is not spot in thee." (Songs 4:7) This is a great mystery. "I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him that I am sick of love." (Songs 5:8) Do you know what love sickness is? This sickness is not unto death. It never kills anybody. Love is very sweet, and sometimes very bitter too. This is the church speaking. What made her sick of love? Because she could not find the object beloved. God sometimes kindles this love, and then hides himself. Bunyan was left to fall into deeper trouble after he had known the Lord's love than before. He had been where I also have been. The thought of being separated from Christ after his love has been felt is dreadful. Not one of his members can ever be separated from Christ, though they may have dreadful fears of it. Once in Christ, you are there for ever. Union with him is inseparable. You can neither get into this union by your own act, nor get out. "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him." (John 6:44) "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." (John 6:37) It was God that put Noah and his family and all the creatures into the ark. As good old Romaine said, I am in the ark. The church could not be happy without the enjoyment of Christ. Bunyan says, "There was such a vehement love to Christ in my heart, and yet he did not come." This will bring on the love sickness. I have had it to such an extent that I could not bear myself. If you have a true love to Christ, you cannot be happy without the object. These daughters are young converts. I know what it is to see young ones get so much indulged that I have been jealous. Christ will not have a rival in his wife's affections. Have you ever found your heart and soul set upon Christ, and yet he would not give you a look? Christ will sometimes kindle a vehement love in your heart, and then withdraw himself. "By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not." (Songs 3:1) This has caused me some of the deepest grief I ever knew. But if he kindle the love, he will in his own time fill you with his love. "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine." (Songs 1:2) This is cutting when the Lord's love cannot be felt. You may see another enjoying that which you are seeking after, and here the fire of jealousy will be kindled. These little ones will creep in and get a kiss, when you cannot get one. This love is an evidence of your being a child of God. I can see clearly enough even when in trouble that this is so. "Thou knowest that I love thee." These daughters of Jerusalem, or babes in grace, under the sweet allurings and drawings of the Holy Ghost, are generally most earnest in the ways of God. The old ones are sometimes jealous of those little ones, and may justly be ashamed if they come short of their love. If you are seeking Christ, would this world or any object in it satisfy you? I can set my seal to this in my own case. This is a safe place to be in, though you cannot get the object to make you happy. "O that thou wert as my brother that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee. I would lead thee and bring thee into my mother's house." (Songs 8:1,2) It is as if the soul said, If I could but once get hold of the object! I really had this feeling. I wished I had been on earth when Christ was here, that I might go and tell him all my feelings. This shows my weakness. "Yea, I should not be despised." You will not be despised when you feel that vehement desire for Christ. This was the longing desire of the church for the coming of Christ. Are you sometimes looking and waiting for him? "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick, but when the desire cometh (the object desired) it is a tree of life." Christ is the tree of life.None but a child of God knows what these longings after Christ are. He will crucify and kill you to everything but himself. Love must be mutual. Let love meet love. If it be on one side only it will be bitter. "What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women...that thou dost so charge us?" (Songs 5:9) The simple little ones speak in that inquiring way, and the bride reples, "My beloved in white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand...His mouth is most sweet; yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem." (Songs 5:10,16) This preaching Christ in his preciousness makes these young ones desire to find him also. Therefore they inquire, "Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee." (Songs 6:1) There is something very sweet in this, if you can get the marrow of it. Faith comes by hearing. These little ones wanted now to find Christ. None want Christ more than these when he is alluring them. "My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies. I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine; he feedeth among the lilies." (Songs 6:2,3) In chapter 2:16, it is thus, "My beloved is mine, and I am his." How are we his, and he ours? First, We are Christ's by the gift of the Father. "Thine they were, and thou gavest them me." (John 17:6) Secondly, By right of redemption. "Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine." (Isa. 43:1) "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." (1 Cor. 6:20) "The Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance." (Deut. 32:9) It is manifestly so by regeneration and grace in the heart. More clearly still when taken into a marriage covenant. "Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was a time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness; yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine." (Ezek. 16:8) A wife is not her own, but is taken by her husband unto himself; so Christ takes his wife--he sweetly allures and conquers the poor sinner. Like as it was with Rebekah. Abraham's servant had spoken so highly of his master's son, that it won her heart, and when they inquired of her, "Wilt thou go with this man? she said, I will go." Have you ever felt this? "Draw me, we will run after thee." (Songs 1:4) I am his by gift, I am his by the purchase of his blood, by the conquest of grace, and more particularly by his marriage covenant. "My beloved is mine." Christ is given to us. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." To be brought really to give up yourself to Christ for better and for worse, is the spiritual marriage. I cannot describe this, but I know what the feeling part of it is. Did not Christ make himself over to you? By his spirit and grace he caused me to make myself over to him. "Thy maker is thine husband; the Lord of Hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy one of Israel." (Isa. 54:5) It is a blessed thing to enter into a true marriage covenant with Christ. There is nothing like it in the whole world. Make it clear once, and it stands for ever. Did you not make it heartily and sincerely? It is a mutual and conjugal act. You cannot forget that day. When he gave you faith to receive him into your heart and affections, you could say, "His mouth is most sweet; yea, he is altogether lovely." "Ye children of God, By faith in his son, Redeem'd by his blood, And with him made one; This union with wonder And rapture be seen, Which nothing shall sunder Without or within."
No tongue can describe my agony when I thought that Christ was separated from me for ever. But the time when he has compassion. "He will turn again, he will have compassion; he will subdue our iniquities, and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." (Micah 7:19) He hates putting away. You may have many suspicions and soul-rending fears. But "having loved his own which were in the world he loved them unto the end." (John 13:1) Never be satisfied without Christ. "The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul." (Prov. 13:19) If you get a fit of love sickness and jealousy, don't wonder at it. If you cannot find Christ when your soul is really in earnest after him, it will bring you to this jealousy. "He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him; he also will hear their cry and will save them." (Ps. 145:19) May God kindle in our hearts every day a violent desire after Christ.