My Beloved is Mine
“My beloved is mine, and I am his.” —Song of Solomon ii. 16.
THIS is a versicle from the Song of Songs, and I do not hesitate to say that it is the soul and heart of that divine composition. The bride dressed in her richest poesy wears no jewel more precious than this diamond of full assured possession. There is poetry here which none of the sons of music can excel. It is the heart’s minstrelsy at its very best. This little sonnet might be sung in heaven, and the golden harps would be well employed if every string went with the accompaniment. How I wish you could each one sing it now with a clear sweet voice!
“Now I my best Beloved’s am,
And he is mine.”
Alas! many of the Lord’s own chosen and called ones are afraid to take up this chorus and join with us. I do not condemn them, but I am eager to comfort them. What would they give? — say, rather, what would they not give— if they could but say “Christ is mine”? Yet they hesitate: the desire is strong, but the doubt is killing, and they dare not sing with us It seems too good, too great, too glorious a claim to come from their lips. They sometimes hope, but they as often fear. They make a dash for it now and then, and trust that Christ is theirs; and then they subside into their former questioning. They are humble, modest, retiring; I fear I must add, they are, at least in a measure, unbelieving. I want to lead these true hearts up to the table that they may feast upon the dainties provided for faith. I know that even now, as they hear the text, “My Beloved is mine, and I am his,” they are saying, “Happy people that can speak thus, but I cannot. I am afraid it would be presumption, and perhaps hypocrisy, on my part, if I were to use such language.” And yet, dear heart, it is very possible that you have a perfect right to put in your claim; yes, and that you ought to be among the most confident and the most fully assured. What a pity it is that you should be losing so much joy! Yet some of the truest children of God walk in darkness at times, and we have provision made for them under the circumstances. “Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.” Oh, that I might be the means of enabling some of you to trust more bravely, and hold to your Lord in the darkness, for soon that darkness would be over!
Did I hear one mourn his faults, and lament his temptations? This need not be a hindrance. She who first sang this priceless stanza was herself warring against enemies. Read the previous verse: “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.” Instead of letting go her Lord to hunt the foxes, she clung the more to him, and joined him with herself in the effort to take them. “Foxes or no foxes,” saith she, “my Beloved is mine.” Jesus belongs to us in our imperfect condition, while yet we are beset with many mischievous and cunning foes. The Song before us is found in our own Bible, which is a Book to be used on earth rather than in heaven. While yet the foxes prowl around us we may sing, “My Beloved is mine, and I am his.” Indeed, it is by strength derived from such a cheering confidence that we are enabled to kill these foxes, and preserve the tender clusters till they are ripe for our Lord. Come, brethren, let us not do ourselves the serious hurt of refusing the greatest of blessings for reasons which are not valid. Let us mourn our faults, but let us not therefore forego our privileges. I will not let my Lord go because I see a fox. Nay, rather, I will cling to him the more closely. If that fox should hurt my vine, yet I have a better Vine in my Lord, and one which no fox can touch. Away, ye beasts of the field, ye sins, and doubts, and fears, for my heart dares to sing, “My Beloved is mine, and I am his.”
I feel that I am a bearer of a tenfold portion to the Benjamin of the family. Joseph— I mean, Jesus has sent it, and I am eager to deliver it fresh from his dear hand. O trembling believer, it is all for thee! Receive it, and eat abundantly thereof. I am under the impression that my Master has bidden me remember that there is a Ruth here who only desires to glean, and trembles while she gathers a few scanty ears. She has not the courage to take a sheaf herself, but my Lord has said, “ Let fall handfuls on purpose for her,” and I would try to do so ; but I pray that timid Ruth may have courage enough to take up what I shall gladly let fall for her, for the good Boaz, in whose field I serve, has his eye upon her, and means more kindness to her than I can tell.
What I have to do to-night is to mention a few things which may help some timid one to say, “My Beloved is mine,” and then to do the same with regard to the second sentence in the text, “I am his.”
Thou askest, perhaps, “May I say, ‘My Beloved is mine’?” You know who that Beloved is; I have no need to tell you that. He is the chief among ton thousand, and the altogether lovely. You believe that it is ho who is the ever -blessed Son of God, who became man for our sake, and, as the God-man, made atonement for our sin; and, having died, has risen from the dead, and gone into his Father’s glory within the veil, where he over maketh intercession for us. It is that Christ who is the light of heaven, the joy of everlasting bliss, the adored of angels. It certainly does seem a great thing to call him mine; to think that ho should ever be mine, and that all he is, and all lie has, and all ho says, and all he does, and all he ever will be, is all mine. When a wife takes a husband to be hers, he becomes all hers, and she reckons that she has no divided possession in him; and it certainly is so with thee, dear heart, if Christ be thine. He is still thine, and altogether thine, oven if it does look as though you were opening your mouth very wide to be able to say it. Some of you were brought up in a school which is full of the law, and you are afraid to say what the gospel permits you to say, you have not dared yet to avail yourselves of your privileges. Some of God’s heirs are often kept in the back kitchen when they have a right to sit in the parlour, and to eat of the dainties of their Lord. Some are kept from the joys to which they have a fair claim, so I am going to ask you a few questions to see whether you are one of them.
First, hast thou taken hold of Christ by faith? Faith is the hand with which we grasp the Lord Jesus Christ. Hast thou believed that Jesus is the Christ, and that God hath raised him from the dead? Dost thou trust thyself wholly to him? I say, “wholly” — with no other secret confidence. Dost thou lean thy whole weight on him? He that hangs on two boughs, one of which is rotten, will go down. Thou hadst best trust thy whole self with Christ, and let him be the top and bottom of thy confidence. If thou dost that, then he is thine; this faith makes him thine to thy joyful experience. Listen to his own words: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If thou believest in Christ, thou hast Christ to be thine everlasting life, and thou mayest say, “My Beloved is mine.”
I should hope that this is not a very difficult question for you to answer; you either are trusting in Christ, or you are not. If you are not trusting in Christ, God forbid that I should exhort you to say what would be presumptuous! But if you are resting on him who lived, and loved, and died, that he might wash us from our sins in his blood, — I say, if he be all thy salvation and all thy desire, then hesitate not to say, “My Beloved is mine.” There is no surer claim in the world than the claim of faith. God has given Christ to every believing sinner, — be he who he may, — God has given Christ to him by a covenant of salt, and Christ is his, and shall be his for ever. Poor trembler, if thou believest on him, even thou mayest say, “My Beloved is mine.”
Let me ask thee another helpful question. Is he truly thy Beloved, the Beloved of thy soul? I remember well a dear Christian woman, who frequently said to me, “I do love Jesus, I know I do; but does he love me?” Her question used to make me smile. “Well,” I said, “that is a question that I never did put to myself, — ‘If I love him, does he love me?’ No, the question that used to puzzle me was, ‘Do I love him?’ When I could once settle that point, I was never again the victim of your form of doubt.” If thou lovest Christ, Christ loves thee for certain, for thy love to Christ is nothing more nor less than a beam out of the great sun of his love; and the grace that has created that love in thy heart towards him, if thou dost indeed love him, proves that he loves thee. Is it not so: “We love him because he first loved us”? Did love ever get into the heart by any other door than that? I am sure that it never did; so that, if thou lovest him, thou canst say, “My Beloved is mine.” There are many who may love on earth, and never obtain the object of their affection; but if thou lovest Christ, raise thou no question about his love to thee; he is thine, and thou art his. That test may help someone who, perhaps, is standing trembling behind the door, full of blushes, and afraid to come in amongst God’s people. To thee, poor timid soul, we say, “Come in, thou blessed of the Lord, wherefore standest thou without? If thou lovest him, thou art welcome to all he has.”
Next, I would help thee with a third question. Is Jesus dear to thee above all thy possessions? Perhaps thou hast a great deal of this world’s goods. Dost thou set small store by all that thou hast as compared with Jesus? Wouldst thou see it all burn away, or melt away, or be stolen, infinitely rather than lose Christ? If thou canst say, “Ay,” to that question, then he is thine. Perhaps thou hast very little indeed, few earthly comforts, a narrow room, and a scant pittance to live upon; but wouldst thou sooner have Christ than all the riches of the world, or wouldst thou be willing to sell Christ in order to rise in the world? Wouldst thou sell him that thou mightest be made rich, and great, and famous? Thou who art sick, which wouldst thou sooner have, thy sickness and Christ, or go without Christ to be made healthy and strong? According to thy answer to these enquiries will be my answer to the other questions, “Art thou Christ’s, and is Christ thine?” I hope that many of you can say, “O sir, we would give all that we have, we would suffer all that might be suffered, we would part with the very light and our eyes, too, if we could but be sure that we might each one truly say, ‘My Beloved is mine.’” Well, if thou lovest Christ beyond all earthly things, rest assured that he is thine.
Further, dost thou love him beyond all earthly companions? Couldst thou part with your dearest ones for his sake? Say, art thou sure of this? Oh, then, he is assuredly thine! Dost thou love him beyond all earthly objects? Ay, beyond the desire of learning, or honour, or position, or comfort, — wouldst thou let all go for his dear sake? Many of his saints have had to do it, and they have done it very cheerfully, and said with the apostle, “ Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him.” Canst thou go that length? If thou canst, then surely he is thine.
Let me further help thee by another question. Is Jesus so fully thy hope and thy trust that thou hast no other? I have often led persons into liberty through that question. They have said, “I am afraid that I do not trust Christ.” I have then asked, “Well, where do you trust? Every man has a reliance of some sort; where are you trusting?” When I have pressed them closely, they have said, “Oh, we have no other trust! God forbid that we ever should have!” When I have mentioned their good works, they have said, “Good works! Why, we should be foolish indeed to talk of them!” When I have mentioned trusting in a priest, or in sacraments, they have scorned the thought, it has been loathsome to them. Then I have said, “If thou hast no other trust but Christ, and thou art sure that thou hast a trust somewhere, then thy trust is in Christ, and though thou mayest question it, and doubt it, yet if thou dost so trust in him as to trust nowhere else, he is thine, and thou art his.”
There is many a good and true believer who, nevertheless, is afraid that he is not a believer. When you are once on board ship, even if the vessel is tossed to and fro, and you yourself are ill, perhaps sadly sea-sick, yet as long as that ship does not go down, you will not go down, for your safety now does not depend upon your health and strength, but upon the ship into which you have entered. So, if thou hast fled to Christ away from everything else, then, though thou mayest sigh, and cry, and fear, and tremble,— for all of which I am sorry, for I would have every man on board ship to be well and strong, and able to handle the ropes, — still, if thou canst not touch a rope, and if thou canst not even eat thy meals in thy cabin, yet, if thou art aboard the ship, and if that ship gets safe to land, so wilt thou. Wherefore, be of good cheer. O poor heart, if thou art clean divorced from every confidence but Christ, then I believe that thou are married unto Christ, notwithstanding that thou tremblest sometimes, and askest whether it be so or not. Let that thought also help thee.
I would further help you in this way. If Christ is yours, your thoughts go after him. You cannot say that you love a person if you never think of him. You could not, I am sure, let another person fill your heart as Christ must fill his people’s hearts, and yet never let that person occupy your thoughts. He to whom Christ belongs, often thinks of him. “Well,” says one, “I am so busy during the day that, often, my mind is taken up with my business, and I do not think of Christ.” Do you know where those crows live that are feeding on that ploughed field? They are going up and down the furrows, picking up all the worms they can find; and as you look at them, you cannot tell where their home is, can you? No; but wait till the evening, when the day’s feeding is over; then you will see which way the crows fly, and you will find out where their nests are. Do you see how quickly they are winging their way to yonder rookery? So is it with us; while we are busy in the world, picking up the worms, as it were, we have to think about those things; we cannot do our business properly without our thoughts going that way, but when the business is over, when the evening comes, which way do you go then? When you have an opportunity for thought, when your mind is going to its resting-place, which way do your thoughts fly? That shall be the true test; and if, when your thoughts are set free, they fly away to Jesus, rest assured that he is yours. That thought may help some of you poor trembling ones. We read of the apostles, “Being let go, they went to their own company.” Just so. I heard a working-man, who was expounding that chapter very well; he said, “If some fellows were put in prison, and they were let out, they would go to the first public-house they see, for that is where they would find their company.” Just so; “birds of a feather flock together.” Now, when you are let go, when your mind gets out of the prison of your daily business, do you go to the world for your pleasure? Do you go to carnal things for your mirth, or do you fly to Christ? If you can answer, “My thoughts go naturally to Christ,” then you can truly say, “My Beloved is mine.”
Again, do you do more than this? Do you long for Christ’s company? If “my Beloved” is indeed mine, I shall want to see him; I shall want to speak with him; I shall want him to abide with me. How is it with you? There is a great deal of religion in the world which only consists of shells, or husks; the kernels are not there at all. A man goes upstairs, and kneels down for a quarter of an hour, and he says that he is praying; yet possibly he has not really prayed at all. Another opens his Bible, and he reads a chapter, and he says that he has been studying the Scriptures. Perhaps it has been a mere mechanical act, and there has been no heart and soul in it. John Bradford, the famous martyr, used to say, “I have made a point of this, that I will never go from a duty till I have had communion with Christ in it.” Hence, when he prayed, he prayed till he did really pray. When he praised, he praised till he did truly praise. If he was bowing in humiliation before God, he humbled himself till he was actually humbled. If he was seeking communion with Christ, he would not go away with the pleasure of merely having sought, but he kept on seeking until he found, for he felt that he had done nothing aright till he had come into communion with God, and into touch with Christ.
And, once more, if thy Beloved is thine, thou wilt own it to be so. Coming into this Tabernacle, or going down to the communion table, or gathering round the family altar, what is all that if Christ be not there? It should be with you as it is with a wife whose husband is far away across the sea. “Oh!” she cries, “that I could hear the music of his footstep! The rooms seem all empty now that he is away. There is his portrait on the wall, but it only makes me sigh the more for my beloved. The very dog as he comes in seems to know that his master is away, and he makes me think of him.” Is it so with you in regard to Christ? In every duty do you sigh for him, and long for him? Holy Bernard was wont to say, and I believe that he could say it truly (it was in Latin, but I will give you the English of it), “O my Jesus, I never went from thee without thee!” He meant that he never left his knees, and left Christ behind him; he never went out of the house of God, and left Christ behind him; but he went through the outward act of devotion with a consciousness of the presence of Christ. Now, if this be your habit to keep up or to labour to keep up continued communion with Christ, and if you are longing for more and more of that communion, thon, dear friends, you are his, and he is yours.
Further, let me help you with a still closer question. Have you ever enjoyed that communion with Christ? Didst thou ever speak with him? Hast thou ever heard his voice? I think I see you turning over the leaves of your diary; I hope you have not to go far back to read the record of your fellowship with your Lord. I hope that this morning was one instance of it, and that this evening may be another. But are there not some special days, red-letter days, in your history? I recollect that Rutherford sent this message to one of his friends who was in great sorrow, “Tell him to remember Torwood.” Nobody knew what was meant except the two who had been to Torwood, where they had enjoyed such fellowship with Christ that they could never forget it all their days. That is what David meant when he said, “Therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, and the hill Mizar.” Those were some choice spots that he recollected where the Lord had met with him. How can Christ be thine if thou knowest nothing about communion with him? Art thou married to him if he has never shown thee his face, and thou hast never hoard his voice, and never spoken with him? But if thou hast had Christ’s company, he has manifested himself to thee as he does not unto the world. He would never have shown thee such things as those if thou wert not his. Ah! hast thou not, sometimes, crept out of the very dungeon of despair, and seen thy Lord’s blessed face, and in a moment thou hast been dancing for joy? Hast thou not lain on the bed of sickness, “weary, and worn, and sad,” till his presence has made the chamber of affliction bright with the light of heaven? Hast thou not, sometimes, at dead of night, been weary in watching for sleep that would not come, and thy Lord has come to thee, and then thou hast been afraid to go to sleep lest thou shouldst lose the joy of his presence, and wake up without him? Oh! some of us know what that experience means, — when earth has been the vestibule of heaven, and when, even in our sickness and sadness, we have been on the very verge of Jordan, and we have smelt the fragrance of the spices that was wafted by the breath of the Spirit from the golden gardens on the other side of the stream. If thou knowest anything experimentally about this matter, then thou mayest conclude that thy Beloved is indeed thine.
But supposing that thou art not enjoying Christ’s presence, I am going to put another question to thee. Art thou cast down when he is away? If thou hast grieved his Spirit, art thou grieved? If Christ be gone, dost thou feel as if the sun itself had ceased to shine, and the candle of thy existence had been snuffed out in utter darkness? Do you cry when he is away, —
“What peaceful hours I then enjoyed!
How sweet their memory still!
But now I find an aching void
The world can never fill”?
Oh, then, he is thine! If thou canst not bear his absence, he is thine. Last Thursday night, I preached a sermon which was intended to be a very searching one, and I hope that it was. It was upon the text, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Now see the difficulty of a poor minister. If I preach very comforting sermons, there are sure to be hypocrites who suck them down, and say, “How delightful!” But when I preach a soul-searching sermon, some dear child of God, who is as precious to her Lord as gold tried in the furnace, takes everything to herself, and begins to be very sorrowful, and to say, “That sharp knife is meant for me, for I am not one of the Lord’s people.” Well, after last Thursday night’s sermon, a dear woman came to my vestry, broken-hearted, crying and sobbing. I hope that the discourse will be a blessing to her in the long run; but I protest that I never meant to preach to her at all, I was not aiming at her or at the sort of people to whom she belongs; it was a very different class whom I was addressing. If the preacher says anything about hypocrites, very often the hypocrites will not take it to heart, but the most sincere saint in the congregation very likely says, “Oh, I am afraid that I am a hypocrite!” If you are, you are an odd sort of hypocrite, for I never knew of a hypocrite who was afraid that he was one. He has not grace enough for that kind of fear, but just goes on in the self-conceit that all is right with him. I, for my part, feel more confidence in the broken-hearted tremblers than I do in the boasters who never have a question about their being all right, but set it down as an undisputed fact that they are in the covenant of grace. O beloved, I am glad if sometimes thou dost moan like a dove, and cry in the bitterness of thy spirit, “Oh, that I knew where I might find him!” It may seem to be a spot on your character, but this spot is the spot of God’s children, and I am not sorry to see it upon you. If the Prince Immanuel has left the town of Mansoul, then there can be no marriage bells or joyous music there until he comes back again. We must invite him and entreat him to return, we must clothe ourselves in sackcloth till he does come back; if we do not act thus, then he is not ours. If you can do without Christ, you shall do without Christ; but if you cannot do without him, if you cry, —
“Give me Christ, or else I die,”
then he shall be yours, Stretch out the hand of faith, and take him, and then say without hesitation, “My Beloved is mine.” I am not going on to the rest of the text; but I want to say just this,— if there is any man or woman here (and I know there are many), who can sit down in the pew, and quietly say, “Yes, weighing everything the preacher has said, and judging myself as severely as I can, yet I dare take Christ to be mine, and to say, ‘My Beloved is mine.’” If that is your case, dear friend, then you shall get confirmatory evidence of this fact by the witness of the Spirit within your soul, which will very likely come to you in the form of perfect contentment of spirit, perfect rest of heart.
“When I can say, ‘My God is mine,’
When I can feel thy glories shine;
I tread the world beneath my feet,
And all that earth calls good or great.”
“There,” says the believer, “now that my Beloved is mine, I have no other wish or want.” Now will ho be like Simeon when he took that blessed Babe into his arms. “Lord,” said he, “now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy Word.” “Have you nothing more to live for, Simeon?” “No,” replies the good old man, “what more can there be?” “Don’t you think that, if you lived a little longer, you might have a heavy purse of gold in your hands?” “Yes,” he answers, “possibly I might; but it would be a cumbrous burden. This dear Child is better than all the gold and silver in the world. If he is mine, I have enough, yea, I have all.” That blessed rest of soul, which comes of a sure possession of Christ, is not to be imitated, but it is greatly to be desired. I know that some good people, who I believe will be saved, nevertheless do not attain to this sweet rest. They keep on thinking that it is something that they may get when they are very old, or when they are about to die, but they look upon the full assurance of faith, and the personal grasping of Christ, and saying, “My Beloved is mine,” as something very dangerous. I began my Christian life in this happy fashion as a boy fifteen years of age; I believed fully and without hesitation in the Lord Jesus Christ; and when I went to see a good Christian woman, I was simpleton enough to tell her that I believed in Christ, that he was mine, and that he had saved me. She said to me, “Ah! I don’t like such assurance as that.” And then she added, “I trust you are believing in Christ, — I hope so; — but I have never got beyond a hope, or a trust, and I am an old woman.” Bless the old woman, she was no example for us who know whom we have believed; we are to rise infinitely beyond that grovelling kind of life. The man who begins right, and the boy who begins right, and the girl who begins right, will begin by saying, “God hath said it: ‘He that believeth on him is not condemned.’ I believe on him, therefore I am not condemned; Christ is mine.” O dear friends, do not always keep on with that miserable hoping, and hoping, and hopping! Walk on both your feet, and get a good firm standing on the Rock of Ages, and say without boasting, but without doubting, “My Beloved is mine.” This will bring you into the condition of the psalmist when he said, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” David would never have said that if he had not begun the Psalm with “The Lord is my Shepherd.” If he had begun by saying, “Perhaps the Lord is my Shepherd,” he would have gone on to say, “Perhaps there may be green pastures, possibly there may be still waters; but as yet my soul is in a dry and thirsty land whore no water is, and not a blade of grass either.” Ah! David was not so stupid as that; he had his times of depression, but when he was singing that Psalm, he was in a positive, certain frame of mind. “The Lord is my Shepherd.” He used the indicative mood, not the subjunctive or conditional. The Lord help you to do the same! And you may. If Christ is a satisfaction to your spirit, so that your soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, then do not hesitate to say, and to emphasize the utterance, “My Beloved is mine.” He either is, or he is not; which is it? Do not go to sleep to-night till you know. If Christ is yours, heaven is yours. If Christ is not yours, you are neither fit to live, nor fit to die. Remember that awful verse, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha,”— “let him be accursed, the Lord cometh!” Take heed unto yourselves, therefore; if Christ is not yours, you are in terrible poverty; but if Christ is yours, you are eternally rich to all the intents of bliss. Oh, that he might be yours now by your stretching out the hand of faith, and taking him to yourself!
“I dare not take him,” says one. Well, you are a strange person; I dare not let him alone, and I challenge you to shape that “dare” into any other proper form. If he bids you take him, and trust him, how dare you refuse him? Take him now, and be safe and happy for ever. God bless you, for Jesu’s sake! Amen.