Come, My Beloved!
“Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.” — Solomon’s Song viii. 14.
THE Song of Songs describes the love of Jesus Christ to his people, and it ends with an intense desire on the part of the Church that the Lord Jesus should come back to her. The last word of the lover to the beloved one is, “Speed thy return; make haste and come back.” Is it not somewhat singular that, as the last verse of the Book of love has this note in it, so the last verses of the whole Book of God, which I may also call the Book of love, have that same thought in them? At the twentieth verse of the last chapter of the Revelation, we read, “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” The Song of love and the Book of love end in almost the selfsame way, with a strong desire for Christ’s speedy return.
Are your hearts, dear friends, in tune with that desire? They ought to be, yet have not some of you almost forgotten that Jesus is to come a second time? Refresh your memories. Others of you, who know that he will come, have you not thought of it as a doctrine that might be laid by on the shelf? Have you not been without any desire for his glorious appearing? Is this right? That Song of Solomon is the central Book of the Bible; it is the innermost shrine of divine revelation, the holy of holies of Scripture; and if you are living in communion with God, you will love that Book, you will catch its spirit, and you will be inclined to cry with the spouse, “Make haste, my beloved.” If you have no longings for Christ’s appearance, no desires for his speedy return, surely your heart is sick, and your love is faint. I fear that you are getting into a lukewarm state. I believe that our relationship to the Second Advent of Christ may be used as a thermometer with which to tell the degree of our spiritual heat. If we have strong desires, longing desires, burning desires, for the coming of the Lord, we may hope that it is well with us; but if we have no such desires, I think, at best, we must be somewhat careless; perhaps, to take the worst view of our case, we are sadly declining in grace.
I. Well now, to come to our text; I want you to notice, first, WHAT THE CHURCH HERE CALLS HER LORD: “Make haste, my beloved.”
I will have only a few words upon this point. I am hardly going to preach to-night, but just to talk familiarly to you, and I want you to let your hearts talk. Observe, the spouse first calls her Lord, “Beloved,” and secondly, “My Beloved.”
Christ is our “Beloved” This is a word of affection; and our Lord Jesus Christ is the object of affection to us. If you read the Bible, especially if you read the New Testament, and study the life of Christ, and yet you only admire it, and say to yourself, “Jesus Christ was a wonderful being,” you do not know him yet; you have but a very indistinct idea of him. If, after reading that life, you sit down, and dissect it, and say to yourself, coolly, calmly, deliberately, “So far as is practicable, I will try and imitate Christ,” you do not yet know him, you have not come near to the real Christ as yet. If any man should say, “I am near the fire,” and yet he is not warm, I should question the truth of his words; and though he might say, “I can see the fire; I can tell you the appearance of the coals; I can describe the lambent flames that play about the stove,” yet if he were not warmed at all, I should still think that he was mistaken, or that there was some medium that interposed between him and the fire at which he said he was looking.
But when you really come to see Jesus, and to say, “I love him; my heart yearns towards him; my delight is in him; he has won my love, and holds it in his own heart,” then you begin to know him. Brethren, true religion has many sides to it; true religion is practical, it is also contemplative; but it is not true religion at all if it is not full of love and affection. Jesus must reign in your heart, or else, though you may give him what place you like in your head, you have not truly received him. To Jesus, beyond all others, is applicable this title of the Beloved, for they who know him love him. Ay, if ever love had emphasis in it, it is the love which true believers give to Christ; and we do well when we sing, —
“I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
“I will love thee in life, I will love thee in death,
And praise thee as long as thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.”
We may also go beyond that point, as the hymn does, and say, —
“In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.”
Our love to Jesus begins with trust. We experience his goodness, and then we love him in return. “We love him because he first loved us.” They say that love is blind; I should think it is, from what I have seen of it in some people; but love to Christ might have ten thousand eyes, and yet be justified in loving him. The more you see him, the more you know him, the more you live with him, the more reason will you have for loving him. There will never come a time in which you will have to question whether you were right to surrender your heart to him; but even throughout the eternal ages you shall, in the felicities of his blessed company, feel that you were, in fact, more than justified in calling him your Beloved.
That is the first part of the name the spouse gives to her Lord; no, not the first; the first part of the name is “my”, she calls him “my Beloved.”
Brethren, this signifies appropriation; so that the two words together mean affection and appropriation: “My Beloved.” If nobody else loves him, I do. This is a distinguishing affection; and I love him because he belongs to me; he is mine, he has given himself to me; and I have chosen him because he first chose me; he is “my Beloved.” I am not ashamed to put him in front of all others; and when men say, “What is thy Beloved more than another beloved?” I can tell them that “My Beloved” is more than all the earthly beloveds put together. It is a delightful thing to get hold of Christ with both hands, as Thomas did when he said, “My Lord and my God.” There he held him with a double-handed grip, and would not let him go. It is sweet and saving even to come into contact with him, as the woman did who touched the fringe of his garment; but, oh, to take him up in your arms, to hold him with both hands, and say, “This Christ is mine; by a daring faith, warranted by the Word of God, I take this Christ to be mine, to have and to hold, for better or worse, and neither life nor death shall ever part me from him who is ‘my Beloved.’”
Now, there is a sweet name for the Lord Jesus Christ. My dear hearers, can you speak of Jesus in that way, “My Beloved”? He who can, by the Spirit of God, say this, has uttered two words that have more eloquence in them than there is in all the orations of Demosthenes. He who cannot truly say this, though he may speak with the tongues of men and of angels, yet, since he hath not this charity, this divine love in his heart, it profiteth him nothing. Oh, that every one of you could say, “My Beloved! My Beloved!”
Do you all really know what saving faith is? It is the appropriation to one’s own self of Christ in his true and proper character as God has revealed him. Canst thou make this appropriation? “Oh,” says one, “I am afraid I should be stealing salvation if I did!” Listen: so long as thou canst get Christ anyhow, thou mayest have him. There is never any stealing of that which is freely given. The difficulty is not about any rights that thou hast, for thou hast no rights whatever in this matter, but come and take what God gives to thee, though thou hast no claim to it. Soul, take Christ to-night, and if thou takest him, thou shalt never lose him. I was going to say, if thou dost even steal him, so long as thou dost but take him to thyself, he will never withdraw himself from thy grasp. It is written, “Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.” Some come properly, and Christ does not cast them out; but there are some who come improperly, they come, as it were, limping on a wooden leg, or perhaps only creeping or crawling. It does not matter how you come to Christ, as long as you really do come to him, he will never cast you out. Get to him anyhow you can; and if you once come to him, you may plead that blessed promise of his, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”
I have told you before that, some years ago, I felt a great depression of spirit; I knew whom I had believed; but, somehow, I could not get the comfort out of the truth I preached. I even began to wonder whether I was really saved; and, having a holiday, and being away from home, I went to the Wesleyan Chapel, and a local preacher occupied the pulpit that morning. While he preached a sermon full of the gospel, the tears flowed from my eyes, and I was in such a perfect delirium of joy on hearing the gospel, which I so seldom have an opportunity of doing, that I said, “Oh, yes, there is spiritual life within me, for the gospel can touch my heart, and stir my soul.” When I went to thank the good man for his sermon, he looked at me, and he could hardly believe his eyes. He said, “Are you not Mr. Spurgeon?” I replied, “Yes.” “Dear, dear,” said he, “why, that is your sermon that I preached this morning!” Yes, I knew it was, and that was one reason why I was so comforted by it, because I felt that I could take my own physic, and I said to myself, “There now, that which I have seen to have a certain effect upon others has had the same effect upon me.” I asked the preacher to my inn to dinner, and we rejoiced together to think that he should have been led to give the people one of my sermons so that I should be fed out of my own cupboard. I do know this, that, whatever I may be, there is nothing that moves me like the gospel of Christ. Do not many of you feel just as I do?
II. Now I will lead you on to the second division of my subject. I have shown you what the Church calls her Lord; now, in the second place, I will tell you WHENCE SHE CALLS HIM: “Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.” What does that mean? She cries to him to come from the place where he now is, which she calls “the mountains of spices.”
Headers of Solomon’s Song know that there are four mountains spoken of in the Song. The first set of mountains is mentioned in the seventeenth verse of the second chapter of the Song, where we read of the mountains of division: “Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether,” or, the mountains of division, the divided crags, or the mountains that divide. Well now, beloved, this was Christ’s first coming. There were mountains of division; our sins and God’s justice, like great mountains, divided us. How could God s love ever come to us, or how could we get to it? There were mountains of division; and, as we looked at them, we said, “They are impassable; nobody can ever climb those lofty crags, or scale those awful precipices, or cross those dread abysses. These mountains effectually separate a guilty soul from a holy God; and, my brethren, there was no way over those hills, till Jesus came like a roe or a young hart. Roes and harts can stand on crags where men’s heads turn giddy and they fall; and our Divine Master was able to stand where we could not. He came leaping over the mountains of our sins, and over the hills of divine justice, and he came even to us, and opened up a way over the mountains of Bether, the mountains of division, by which God comes to us and we come to God; and now, instead of division, there is a sacred union.
That was Christ’s first coming, over the mountains of division.
But there were other mountains beside those, which you read of a little further on in the Song; these were the mountains of the leopards, the dens of the lions. Turn to the fourth chapter, at the eighth verse: “Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards.” When Christ came the first time, he met with fierce opposition, from sin, and death, and hell. These were the lions; these were the leopards; and our great Champion had to go hunting them, and they hunted him. You know how these grim lions met him, and how they tore him; they rent his hands, and his feet, and his side. Do you not remember how that great lion of the pit came leaping upon him, how he received him upon his breast, like a greater Samson, and though he fell in the death-struggle, he tore that lion asunder, as though he had been a kid, and cast him down? As for his other enemies, he could truly say, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” Our Well-beloved came to us, over the mountains of the leopards and the dens of the lions, more than conqueror through the greatness of his love. Do you not see him as he comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, travelling in the greatness of his strength, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save? In spite of all opposition, he finished the work of our redemption.
So Jesus came to us, over the mountains of separation, and over the mountains of the leopards.
But there is a third mountain mentioned in this wonderful poetical Book, and that is, the mountain of myrrh. In the sixth chapter at the second verse, it says, “My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.” It is called a garden, but in the sixth verse of the fourth chapter it is called a mountain: “Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.” You know the story well. After Jesus had come over the mountains of our sins, after he had killed the lions and the leopards that stood in our way, he gave up his soul into his Father’s hands, and loving friends took his body, and wrapped it in white linen, and Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus brought myrrh and aloes to preserve his blessed body, that matchless casket of a perfect soul; and, having wrapped him up, they laid him in a new tomb, which thus became the garden or mountain of myrrh. A bitter thing was that grave wherein he buried all our sin, that grave out of which he came victorious over death, that grave out of which he rose that he might justify his people. That was the mountain of myrrh to which Jesus went for a very brief season. Scarcely three days was he there; but I think I can hear his Church standing at the tomb, and saying, “Make haste, my beloved! Be thou like a roe, or a young hart, and come quickly from thy sleep with the dead in the mountains of myrrh.” It was but a short time that he was there, even as he said to his disciples, “A little while, and ye shall not see me; and again a little while, and ye shall see me.” Soon was that slumber over, and when he woke, as Samson carried away the gate of Gaza, so Christ arose, and took up the gates of death, posts and bar and all, and carried them away, and neither death nor hell can ever bring them back again. By the resurrection of Christ, the tomb is opened, never to be closed again.
The “mountain of myrrh” is the third that is mentioned in the Song; but our text refers to “the mountains of spices.” I am not stretching this passage, or drawing a lesson where there is none; the mountains of spices are those places where Jesus dwells at this very moment at the right hand of God. It is from there that we now call him with the spouse when she said, “Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.”
What are these spices? Are they not Christ’s infinite merits, which perfume heaven and earth? The foul corruption of our sins is not perceptible, because of the mountains of spices. One single sin would be vile enough to pollute a universe; what, then, were all our sins put together? Behold this wondrous sanitary power of divine grace; these mountains of spices more than nullify the foulness of our sins. Christ’s merit is perpetually before the eye of his Bather, so that no longer does he perceive our sins.
What shall I say next of these mountains of spices? Are they not our Lord’s perpetual and prevailing prayers? He intercedes for his people before the throne of God. He is that great angel from whose swinging censer there goes up continually the incense of intercession. The prayers of saints are presented by him to his Father with all his own merit added to them. These are the mountains of spices, Christ’s infinite merits, and his ceaseless prayers, his undying supplications to the great Father on behalf of all his people.
In consequence of this, I think I may say that the praises of his glorified people, the sweet music of the harps of the redeemed, the everlasting symphonies of the spirits of just men made perfect, and cleansed by his atoning blood, — are not these as sweet spices before God? Yea, all heaven is perfumed with everything that is precious and acceptable, full of a sweet savour unto God, and a delightful fragrance to all his people. Now, this is where Jesus is now; not here in this foul, polluted world, but up yonder he rests in the mountains of spices; and the prayer of his Church continually is, “Come, my Beloved! Make haste, my Beloved! Be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.”
III. That brings me to what is really the gist, the main point, the arrow-head of the text. We have noticed what the Church calls her Lord, and whence she calls him; now, thirdly, note HOW SHE CALLS HIM. She says, “Make haste, my Beloved, make haste.”
Why is it that all the Church of God, and each individual Christian in particular, should be found anxious for the speedy coming of our Lord Jesus Christ? I think, surely, that this is the result of true love. Does not love always wish to see the object on which its heart is fixed? When your dearest one parts from you for a while, do you not always wish for a speedy return? The parting is painful; it were bitter indeed if you did not expect to meet again. So you say, “Be no longer absent than you are forced to be. Come home as speedily as you can.” Where there is great love, there gets to be great longing; and that longing sometimes becomes so vehement as to be well-nigh impatient. May not the Church that mourns her absent Lord sigh and cry till he returns? Is not this the very language of intense love, “Make haste, my Beloved, and return to me”? If we love our Lord, we shall long for his appearing; be you sure of that, it is the natural result of ardent affection.
But, notwithstanding this, beloved, we sometimes need certain incentives to stir up our souls to cry for our Lord’s return. One reason that ought to make the believer long for Christ’s coming is that it will end this conflict. Our lot is cast in a wretched time, when many things are said and done that grieve and vex God’s Holy Spirit, and all who are in sympathy with him. Sometimes, it is false doctrine that is proclaimed; and if you preach the truth, they smite you on the mouth, and then you say to yourself, “Would God the Lord would come!” At other times, it is sheer blasphemy that is uttered, when men say, “The Lord delayeth his coming,” or when they talk as if he were not Lord, as if his gospel were no gospel, and his salvation were worn out. Then we say, “Make no tarrying, O our God! Come, Lord, and tarry not!” We grow almost impatient then for his coming.
And, dear friend, when you see the oppression of the poor, when you hear the cry of the needy, when you know that many of them are ground down to bitter poverty, and yet are struggling hard to earn a bare pittance, you say, “Lord, will this state of things always exist? Shall not these wrongs be righted? Oh, that he would come, who will judge the people righteously, and vindicate the cause of the poor and the oppressed!”
Then we look even on the professing church, and we see how lukewarm it is, how honeycombed it is with heresy and worldliness, and how often the church that ought to honour Christ insults him, and he is wounded in the house of his friends. We say, “Will not this evil soon be at an end? Will not the conflict speedily be over?” Oh, how have I stood, in the midst of the battle, when the deadly shafts have flown about me on the right hand and on the left, and, wounded full sore, I have cried, “Will not the King himself soon come, and shall I not ere long hear the sound of those blessed feet, whose every step means victory, and whose presence is eternal life?” “Come, Lord! Make haste, my Beloved! Come to the rescue of thy weak and feeble servants; come, come, come, we beseech thee!” Put yourself into this great fight for the faith; and if you have to bear the brunt of the battle, you will soon be as eager as I am that Jesus should make haste, and come to your relief. You also will cry, “Make haste, my Beloved,” when you think what wonders he will work at his coming.
What will Christ do at his coming? He will raise the dead. eyes shall see him in that day. “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth, and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” When Christ shall come the second time, and that blast, of which we sang just now, “the loudest and the last,” shall ring through earth and heaven, then shall the dead men arise. There are newly-made graves; the mourners’ tears are not yet wiped away. There are the graves of many who have gone home long ago, and we remember them, and we say, “Would God that Christ would come, and spoil death of those precious relics! Oh, that he would reanimate those bodies, and call together the dry bones, and bid them live!” Come, Lord! Come, Lord! make no tarrying, we beseech thee!
And when he comes, beloved, remember that then shall be the time of the glory of his people: “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Slander will be rolled away in the day when Christ cometh. The wicked shall awake to everlasting contempt, but the righteous to an everlasting justification. They shall be clear of every accusation in that day, and then shall they sit on the throne with their Lord. They were with him in his humiliation; they shall be with him in his glory. They, too, were despised and rejected of men, as he was; but in that day none shall dare to despise them, for every saint shall be seen to be a king, and a son of the King. Oh, the glory that awaits his people in the day of his coming! “It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” Well may the child of God say, “Make haste, my Beloved.” Oh, for the sheathing of the sword, and the waving of the palm! Oh, for the drying of the tear, and the handling of the harp of gold! Oh, for the ending of the doubt and the trouble, and the beginning of the everlasting enjoyment and the eternal serenity at the right hand of the Ever-blessed One!
Still, there is another reason why we say, “Make haste, my Beloved.” it is this. We desire to share in Christ’s glory; but our chief desire is that our Lord may be glorified. I do believe I shall have the support of every Christian heart when I say that we would a thousand times rather that Christ were glorified than that we should be honoured. Many years ago, after the Surrey Music Hall accident, I well-nigh lost my reason through distress of heart. I was broken down in spirit, and thought that, perhaps, I might never preach again. I was but a young man, and it was a great sorrow that crushed me into the dust through that terrible accident; but one passage of Scripture brought me recovery in a moment. I was alone, and as I was thinking, this text came to my mind, “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour,” and I said to myself, “Is that so? Is Jesus Christ exalted? Then I do not care if I die in a ditch. If Christ is exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, that is enough for me.” I distinctly recollect remembering what is recorded of some of Napoleon’s soldiers, who were well-nigh cut to pieces, lying dying, bleeding, suffering, agonizing on the battle-field, but when the Emperor rode by, every man lifted himself up as best he could, some resting on the only arm that was left, just to look at him once more, and shout, “Vive l’ Empereur!” The Emperor had come along, he was all right, and that was enough for his faithful followers. I think that I felt just like that; whatever happened to me, it was true of Christ, “Him hath God exalted.” Never mind what becomes of the man, the King lives and reigns, Jesus Christ is glorified; and so long as that is the case, what matters it what becomes of us? I think I can say for you, as well as for myself, that, if there is anything in this world that will glorify Christ, you will make no hesitation about the bargain. If it will glorify Christ, you say, let it come. Though your name should be cast out as evil, and your body should be left unburied, to be gnawed of dogs, what matters it, so long as he who loved us, and gave himself for us, should ride on conquering and to conquer in the midst of the sons of men?
To every loyal soldier of King Jesus, this is the best thought in connection with his Second Advent, that when he comes, it will be to be admired in his saints, and to be glorified in all them that believe. Then shall there be universal acclamations to him, and his enemies shall hide their heads in shame and dismay. Oh, what will they do then? What will they do in that day of his appearing? They also will live again, and what will they do in that day? Judas, where are you? Come here, man! Sell your Lord again for thirty pieces of silver! What does he say? Why, he flees, and wishes that he could again go out, and destroy himself; but that is impossible. Now Pilate, vacillating Pilate, wash your hands in water, and say, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person.’’ There is no water for him to wash his hands in, and he dare not again perform that wicked farce. And now, ye who cried, “Crucify him, crucify him,” lift up your voices again if you dare! Not a dog doth move his tongue; but hearken, they have found their tongues, and what do they say? They are imploring the hills to fall upon them, they are calling on the rocks to hide them. The King has not put his hand upon his sword, he has not sent forth his lightnings to scatter you; why flee ye so, ye cravens? Hear their bitter wail! “Oh, rocks and hills, hide us from the face, from the face, from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne!” It is the face of Jesus, which they were bidden to look upon, that they might live; but now, in another state, they dare not look upon that face of placid love which, in that day, shall be more stern than the frowning brow of vengeance itself. Yes, they flee, they flee; but you who have trusted Christ, you whom he hath saved, you will draw near to him, you will shout his praises, you will delight in him, it shall be your heaven to bless him for ever and ever. Oh, yes, great Master, “Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices,” and all his saints, with one voice and heart, will say, “Amen.”
Oh, that you, who have never trusted him, would trust him now and if you trust him, you shall live with him for ever and ever. God grant it! Amen.