Christ's Estimate of His Church
James Smith, 1865
"You are absolutely beautiful, My love; there is no spot in you!" Song of Solomon 4:7
Solomon's Song represents the love of Christ to His people, His admiration of them, and communion with them. Every spiritual person more or less understands it; but it requires deep spirituality, much intimacy with Jesus, and some knowledge of the manners and customs of the East — to fully enter into it. It is a most precious part of God's inspired Word. In the Old Testament, it is like Paradise among the gardens, or the tree of life among the trees of that garden. May the Holy Spirit lead us into it, and favor us with the rich enjoyment of the fellowship represented by it.
The OBJECT of Christ's love, is His Church.
All that were given to Him by His Father.
All that are redeemed by His most precious blood.
All that are quickened and sanctified by His Holy Spirit.
Such He calls "My love." He compares them to a lovely and delicate woman.
In His view — she is incomparably beautiful; but in her own eyes — she is black, unsightly as the tents of Kedar. She sees so much of her own inward depravity, and feels so much of the working of the law of sin in the members — that she often loathes herself, and lying low at His feet, exclaims, "Behold, I am vile!"
In her conduct, she is represented as at times unstable and unkind; refusing to rise from the pillow of ease to admit her Beloved, though He was saturated with the dews, and called to her, saying, "Open to me, my love!" She was drowsy and cold, so that He had to call to her, invite her, and exhort her to rise up and accompany Him to enjoy the pleasures He had provided for her.
She was as timid as the dove, without heart or courage; which led Him to say, "My dove, who is in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me hear your voice, let me see your countenance; for sweet is your voice, and your countenance is lovely."
She was too pleased, intimate, and affected with the company of others; in consequence of which, he calls to her, saying, "You who dwell in the gardens with friends in attendance, let ME hear your voice!"
How exactly like us — so unstable, so unkind to Jesus, so dull and drowsy, so timid and fearful, so much taken up with the things of time. Yet her love to Him was sincere — and so is ours. We do love Him — though not so ardently as we wish. We are sincere — and we can often say, "You know all things — You know that I love You!" Even at the lowest, we can say, "You know that I desire to love You."
Yes, Jesus has our hearts; if we love anyone — we love
Him. If we desire union with anyone — it is with Him. If we enjoy the
company of anyone — it is His company. We have loved Him ever since He was
made known to us by His Holy Spirit, and we love Him still. There have been
interruptions in the exercise of our love — but it is still
embedded in our hearts. We can find no substitute for Jesus, nor do we
desire to find any. He is all our salvation, and all our desire. If we could
love Him as we wish — our souls would be all on flame, and always on flame,
with love to Him!
The ESTIMATE Jesus has of His Church is, that she is absolutely beautiful, and without spot."You are absolutely beautiful, my love." He views her now as she will be by-and-bye. She will be absolutely beautiful and faultless; as it is written, "Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to Himself as a glorious church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish — but holy and blameless!"
He looked upon her with a lover's eyes — which overlooked all her defects, and fixed only on her excellencies. He admired the work of His own SPIRIT in her. That work is a holy work; a beautiful work; a work of the highest excellence. It produces love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, and faith — all of which are lovely in the eyes of Jesus.
"There is no spot in you." His perfect righteousness covers her — and hides every spot! Looking upon herself, she exclaims, "We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags!" Very unfit to be the bride of Him who is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of His person. But, looking upon herself in Jesus, she says, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of righteousness; as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels!"
Precious Savior! You not only worked out this magnificent garment — but You put it upon our souls with your own hands! He has clothed me; He has covered me. Yes! Jesus makes us lovely — and then calls us so. His own graces adorn His beloved, His blood-bought bride, until, as it is said by the prophet, "Your renown went forth for your beauty; for it was perfect through My loveliness which I put upon you, says the Lord God."
Her perfect image was before Him — when He thus
commended her, "You are absolutely beautiful, My love; there is no
spot in you!" He saw the purpose of His Father fulfilled; the end
of His work accomplished; as it is written, "For those God
foreknew — He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His
Son. And those He predestined — He also called; those He called
— He also justified; those He justified — He also glorified!"
The TITLE by which Jesus calls His Church is, "My love."This expresses His choice of us, for He has chosen us to be His, from all around us. This expresses His preference of us, for He prefers His people to all the universe besides. This expresses His strong attachment to us, for His love is as strong as death, and stronger too. This expresses His high esteem of us, for He esteems His people even above angels. He saw the angels fall — and He did not take their nature to redeem them. But when His people fell — He assumed their nature, took their place, became their Substitute, died in their stead, went into heaven to plead their cause, and will soon come again to receive them to Himself! Well may He exclaim, "You have not chosen Me — but I have chosen you." "I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you." O wondrous love! O more wondrous Lover!
Believer, Christ's views of you — are not like your own. He speaks of you in very different language — from what you would speak of yourself. He says, you are "absolutely beautiful; there is no spot in you;" and what He calls you — He will make you! He calls things that are not, as though they were — to express the certainty of their being so; because He is determined and engaged to make them so.
We shall soon be all that Christ says that we are! All His purposes towards us — are love. All His thoughts of us — are thoughts of love. If Christ thinks thus of us — never mind what others think; His thoughts are right — theirs are wrong; His are wise — theirs are foolish; His shall be realized — theirs disappointed. Christ often commends — when man condemns. His apostles, the first believers, and the holy martyrs, were condemned by man, and considered unfit to live! But Jesus commended, sustained, and will reward them.
As Christ speaks to us on earth, so He speaks of us to His Father in heaven. There He pleads our cause — because He loves us; there He will carry our cause — for He has wisdom, weight, and worth enough to do it. He opens His heart, expresses His desire, utters His will; saying, "Father, I will that those whom You have given Me, shall be with Me where I am — that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." Blessed be Jesus for His love, His love to us; for the revelation of His love in the Word; especially by His Spirit in the heart!
Let us therefore close our meditation in the language of Jude, "Now unto Him who is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy; to the only wise God our Savior — be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever! Amen."