Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

The words of the text are the conclusion to the answer to a question put to the spouse, viz., What is thy beloved more than another beloved ? She readily answers, by giving a particular description of his charming beauties and superlative excellence, by which he is distinguished from all others, the chief among ten thousands; and then sums up all in one word, by saying, He is altogether lovely. He has the highest beauty, excellence, and perfection, and has nothing else. Having thus given his character, she says, with reference to the question, This is my

, beloved, and this is my friend. This is the person, this is the character, with which I am so deeply in love; I am not ashamed to own him to be the beloved of my soul; and this is my best friend, whose heart is set on me, and he loves me as much as I can desire.

The mutual love and friendship between Christ and the believer, you will observe, is expressed here. The true Chris. tian has set his love on Christ; he is his beloved; he has given his heart to him, as to one who is the chief among ten thousands, and altogether lovely; and Christ loves him most tenderly, in the character of a true, faithful, and all-sufficient friend and patron, and so returns love for love.

The words do then lead us to attend to Christ, as he is here pointed out, in the character of the beloved friend of his ple, the redeemed from among men.

It may be said, in general, that Christ, the glorious head and husband of his church, has every thing in him that can possibly come into the character of the best friend, and that to an inconceivable and infinite degree, and there is nothing belongs to him but what serves to complete and perfect this character; yea, he is at an infinite distance from every thing else; and his relation to his people, and all his conduct towards them, are such, and such are all the circumstances of this friendship, as to conspire to make it the most sweet, ravishing, noble, and exalted that in the nature of things can be, and render him in the highest possible degree a desirable, worthy, and excellent friend.

But, for the better illustration of this point, the following particulars may be attended to:

1. He is the most able friend, even an omnipotent and allsufficient one. He can do whatever he pleases. He has a sufficiency of power and wisdom in all possible cases, and is perfectly able to do for his friends, who love and trust in him, whatever they need or can possibly want to have done. All other friends are deficient in this respect: though they may have some sufficiency and ability to do some things for us, yet it is but infinitely little they can do, compared with what we

peowant to have done. We are infinitely needy, and must be eternally most miserable and wretched, unless we have some friend to help us who is fully able to go through with the work, and do all we want to have done, even in the most extreme, and, without such a friend, a desperate case. Now Christ is such a friend. He is understanding and wise perfectly to know what our case is, and what we want, and what is the wisest and best way to afford relief and supply all our wants, and he has full power to do whatever his wisdom dictates; and in this respect he is distinguished from all other persons in the universe; none but he was able to befriend us in the case in which we are. This will more fully appear before we have done.

2. He has the heart of a friend in all respects and to the most perfect degree; or, he is willing and fully engaged to do all he can do for his people — all they can possibly want to have done in any case, and at any time. All other friends fail here. Though they are able to do but little for their friends comparatively, yet they have not goodness enough to do all they can, in all cases and at all times. They have not the heart of a friend to perfection, so are not friendly to the utmost of their power at all times, but may be very unfriendly in some instances; therefore, cannot be relied upon without caution and danger of being disappointed. But Christ has the heart of a friend to infinite perfection, so that he can be relied upon in all cases, without any limits or danger. His benevolence to his people is without any bounds, and sufficient to sur. mount the greatest difficulties in the way of their good, and prompt him to do things infinitely great for them, and bestow on them the best and the greatest good, however unworthy and ill deserving they are, and however criminal and vile their conduct has been towards him, in the most aggravated and horrid abuse of his goodness.

3. He is a friend on whom we are dependent, and to whom we are indebted and beholden in the highest possible degree. This gives great advantage to love and friendship, where the friends and lovers are not equal, but one superior to the other, and the others benefactor and savior to such a degree as to lay his friend under the greatest obligations to love and gratitude; and the greater this dependence is, and the more one friend has received from, and is indebted to, another in this way, the more sweet and happy is the love and friendship between them. It is, indeed, contrary to pride, and a heart that is not formed for true friendship, to be thus united to such a superior as a friend, and to be thus dependent upon, and wholly indebted and beholden to, him for every thing. But it is not so, but directly the contrary, with the truly humble sinner: that friend will be most agreeable to such a one on whom he is most dependent, and to whom he is in the highest degree obliged; and we cannot form an idea of any other two friends so happy as these, when this is the case to the highest possible degree, or conceive of any friendship so great, advantageous, and sweet as this. It seems, indeed, to belong to the nature of true creature friendship even to desire and delight in this circumstance, viz., to be greatly indebted and beholden to the friend we esteem and love; the greater obligations we are under to him, the better pleased we are, and the more sweet is the love and friendship. This seems to be owing to two things especially; one is, that hereby we have a clear and striking evidence of our friend's love to us, which must give sweetness and enjoyment in proportion to our love to him. The other is, that hereby we are led to feel and exercise a love of gratitude, which is peculiarly sweet in proportion to the love of esteem, benevolence, and complacency we have for our friend. In this view, the more we are obliged the better, and the greater satisfaction and sweetness we have in the friendship. And, on the other hand, the more the other has done for the obliged friend, and the greater benefactor he has been to him, the higher enjoyment and happiness he has in proportion to his benevolence and love to him.

Hence it is, that where persons have undertaken to represent the highest and most affecting instances of true love and friendship, and the greatest degree of enjoyment and happiness in such friendship, and exhibit this to the best advantage in a seigned story or romance, they have formed a history of some one of a high and excellent character, and of a generous, benevolent spirit, setting his heart on one in a mean, low, and miserable state and circumstances, to be his spouse. She is, for instance, taken captive by her enemies, and reduced to the greatest poverty and distress, and her life eminently exposed. He, in order to redeem and deliver her, and procure her for bis bride and spouse, goes through a long series of self-denial and sufferings, is at great expense, and does great exploits, and exposes his life to an eminent degree, without which she must have perished in the hands of her cruel foes. And thus he delivers her by risking all that is dear to him in her behalf, and, in a sense, giving his own life for her; so that she entirely owes her life and all she has to him, and is under the greatest imaginable obligations to him. In this way he procures her for his spouse, and brings her into the nearest union to himself, and a foundation is laid for the greatest happiness in each other, in the enjoyment of the most sweet love and friendship,

[ocr errors]

every way to an unspeakably greater degree than could have been in different circumstances, or in any other way, in which she would not have been so much dependent upon, and so greatly obliged to, him.

This is but a faint shadow of the case before us with respect to Christ, the friend and bridegroom of his church and people. They are fallen into an infinitely calamitous and evil state, - a state of complete, total, and eternal destruction, into the hands of the devil, their great and potent enemy, and under the displeasure and curse of the God that made them, being infinitely guilty and ill deserving, the prisoners of justice, bound over to suffer his eternal wrath, not being able or disposed to help and deliver themselves in the least degree. The Son of God was the only person in the universe that was able to redeem and save them; and he was not under the least obligation to do it. But he voluntarily offered himself, and undertook this most difficult, costly, and mighty work, and that from pure love and benevolence to these lost and infinitely miserable creatures, and a desire to procure and present to himself a glorious church, a bride not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but perfectly beautiful and holy, and without blemish, being brought into the nearest and everlasting union and friendship with himself.

In order to this, he gave himself for them. Though he was a person of infinite dignity, riches, and worth, he became poor, and humbled himself so as to become a servant, and subjected himself to the greatest ignominy and sufferings, even unto death. He voluntarily put himself into the place and circumstances of his spouse; and when her whole interest lay at stake, and she was in a state of complete destruction, he took the whole of her destruction and sufferings on himself, and went through with the matter; he drank the whole of the bitter cup, that she might escape; he gave his life for her ransom, and spilt his own blood in the most trying circumstances, that he might completely redeem her from the jaws of the most dreadful and eternal destruction, and deliver her from the hand and power of all her enemies. He has survived the dreadful scene, hav. ing completed the greatest and most difficult work that ever was, or ever will, or can be undertaken, and yet lives to espouse the cause of his people, and will not stop till he has completed the matter, and sanctified and cleansed every one of them with the washing of water by the word, and brought them into the most near and everlasting union and friend. ship with himself, in the most perfect enjoyment of his love, riches, honors, and happiness forever and ever.

Thus the redeemed have a friend, not only in himself most excellent and worthy, and full of the greatest benevolence and goodness, but one on whom they are in the highest degree dependent, and to whom they are indebted and obliged in the highest imaginable or even possible degree, in a manner which is most pleasing to them, and serves to render him unspeakably more excellent and worthy in their eyes, and give a sweetness to their love and friendship which could not be known in any other circumstances. •

No other creatures in the universe have such a friend as this. The angels have no such friend. When some of them fell into sin and woe, they had no friend to redeem them; and the redeemed from among men have had infinitely more done for them, and they are infinitely more dependent on the Son of God for all good and happiness, and indebted and obliged to him, than the angels are. They are the bride, the Lamb's wise, who are by him redeemed out of great tribulation from a state of infinite woe, in which they lay perfectly helpless, that he might enjoy them forever in a peculiar union and friendship, which exceeds every thing of this kind in all possible degrees. These circumstances lay a foundation for a sweetness and enjoyment immensely higher than could take place in any other way. In a sense and acknowledgment of what Christ has done for them, and their peculiar dependence upon, and obligations to him, the redeemed will exercise a kind of humble, sweet, and beautiful love towards their Friend and Redeemer, which is peculiar to them, and never could have had an existence in any other way but this; and which will be the eternal source of a most sweet and high enjoyment, which no stranger, none but the beloved bride, not even the angels, can intermeddle with or taste. In the exercise of this peculiarly sweet love and friendship towards their infinitely dear and glorious Friend and Redeemer, they will eternally sing a new song, which none but the redeemed, the bride, the Lamb's wife, can possibly sing or learn, to all eternity, - no, not even the highest and best angel in heaven, saying, “ Worthy is the Lamb to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, and hast made us kings and priests unto God." Well, then, may they now begin to say, with a heartfelt sweetness and joy which is unspeakable and full of glory,“ This is my beloved, and this is my friend."

4. Jesus Christ is a friend who has exercised the highest degrees of love, and has given the greatest possible testimonies of it.

In order to true friendship, there must be mutual love. This is essential to the character of our friend, that he loves us;

« ForrigeFortsæt »