Grace for Communion

No. 1941. A Short Address to a Few Friends at Mentone, at
The Breaking of Bread, by C. H. Spurgeon. On Lord's-day Afternoon, Jan. 2nd, 1887.

"Awake, O north wind; and come, you south; blow upon my
garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come
into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits." -- Song of Solomon

The soul of the believer is the garden of the Lord. Within it are rare
plants, such as yield "spices "and "pleasant fruits." Once it was a
wilderness, overgrown with thorns and briars; but now it is "a garden
enclosed," an "orchard of pomegranates."
At times within that garden everything is very still and quiet; indeed, more
still than could be wished. Flowers are in bloom, but they seem scentless,
for there are no breezes to waft the perfume. Spices abound, but one may
walk in the garden, and not perceive them, for no gales bear their fragrance
on their wings. I do not know that, in itself this is an evil condition: it may
be that "So he gives his beloved sleep." To those who are worn with
labor, rest is sweet. Blessed are they who enjoy a Sabbath of the soul!
The loved one in the text desired the company of her Lord, and felt that an
inactive condition was not altogether suitable for his coming. Her prayer is
first about her garden, that it may be made ready for her Beloved; and then
to the bridegroom himself, that he would come into his garden, and eat its
pleasant fruits. She pleads for the breath of heaven, and for the Lord of
First, she cries for THE BREATH OF HEAVEN to break the dead calm which
broods over her heart. She cannot unlock the caskets of spice, nor cause
the sweet odors to flow forth: her own breath would not avail for such an
end. She looks away from herself to an unseen and mysterious power. She
breathes this earnest prayer, "Awake, O north wind; and come, you south;
blow upon my garden!"
In this prayer there is an evident sense of inward sleep. She does not mean
that the north wind is asleep: it is her poetical way of confessing that she
herself needs to be awakened. She has a sense of absent-mindedness, too,
for she cries, "Come, you south." If the south wind would come, the
forgetful perfumes would come to themselves, and sweeten all the air. The
fault, whatever it is, cannot lie in the winds; it lies in ourselves.
Her appeal, as we have already said, is to that great Spirit who operates
according to his own will, even as the wind blows where it wills. She
does not try to "raise the wind" -- that is an earthly expression relating to
worldly matters; but, alas, it might fitly be applied to many imitations of
spirituality! Have we not heard of "getting up revivals"? Indeed, we can no
more command the Holy Spirit than we can compel the wind to blow east
or west. Our strength lies in prayer. The spouse prays, "Awake, O north
wind; and come, you south!" She thus owns her entire dependence upon
the free Spirit. Although she veiled her faith in a divine Worker under the
imagery of her song, yet she spoke as to a person. We believe in the
personality of the Holy Spirit, so that we ask him to "Awake" and
"Come." We believe that we may pray to him; and we are impelled to do
Notice that the spouse does not mind what form the divine visitation takes
so long as she feels its power. "Awake, O north wind;" though the blast be
cold and cutting, it may be that it will effectually fetch forth the perfume of
the soul in the form of repentance and self-humiliation. Some precious
graces, like rare spices, naturally flow forth in the form of tears; and others
are only seen in hours of sorrow, like gums which exude from wounded
trees. The rough north wind has done much for some of us in the way of
arousing our best graces. Yet it may be that the Lord will send something
more tender and cheering; and if so, we would cry, "Come, you south."
Divine love warming the heart has A wonderful power to develop the best
part of a man's nature. Many of our precious things are brought forth by
the sun of holy joy.
Either movement of the Spirit will sufficiently bestir our inner life; but the
spouse desires both. Although in nature you cannot have the north wind
and the south blowing at the same time; yet in grace you can. The Holy
Spirit may be at one and the same time working grief and gladness,
causing humiliation and delight. I have often been conscious of the two
winds blowing at once; so that, while I have been ready to die to self, I
have been made to live unto God. "Awake, O north wind; and come, you
south!" When all the forms of spiritual energy are felt, no grace will be
dormant. No flower can keep asleep when both rough and gentle winds
arouse it.
The prayer is -- "blow," and the result is -- "flow." Lord, if you blow,
my heart flows out to you! "Draw me, we will run after you." We know
right well what it is to have grace in our souls, and yet to feel no movement
of it. We may have much faith in existence, yet none in exercise, for no
occasion summons it into action. We may have much repentance, yet no
conscious repenting; much fire of love, yet no love flaming forth; and much
patience in the heart, though at the moment we do not display it. Apart
from the occurrences of providence, which arouse our inward emotions
one way and another, the only plan by which our graces can be set in active
exercise is by the Holy Spirit breathing upon us. He has the power to
quicken, arouse, and bestir our faculties and graces, so that holy fruits
within us become perceptible to ourselves, and to others who have spiritual
discernment. There are states of the atmosphere in which the fragrance of
flowers is much more diffused than at other times. The rose owes much to
the zephyr which wafts its perfume. How sweet is even a field of beans
after a shower! We may have much spice of piety, and yet yield small
fragrance unless the living power of the Holy Spirit moves upon us. In a
wood there may be many a partridge, or gay pheasant, and yet we may not
see so much as one of them until a passing foot tramples down the
underwood, and causes the birds to rise upon the wing. The Lord can thus
discover our graces by many a messenger; but the more choice and
spiritual virtues need an agent as mysterious and all-pervading as the wind
-- need, in fact, the Spirit of the Lord to arouse them. Holy Spirit, you
can come to us when we cannot come to you! From any and every
quarter you can reach us, taking us on our warm or cold side. Our heart,
which is our garden, lies open at every point to you. The wall which
encloses it does not shut you out. We wait for a visitation. We feel glad at
the very thought of it. That gladness is the beginning of the stir; the spices
are already flowing forth.
The second half of the prayer expresses our central desire: we long for THE
LORD OF HEAVEN to visit us. The bride does not seek that the spices of her
garden may become perceptible for her own enjoyment, nor for the
delectation of strangers, nor even for the pleasure of the daughters of
Jerusalem, but for her Beloved's sake. He is to come into his garden, and
eat his pleasant fruits. We are a garden for his delight. Our highest wish is
that Jesus may have joy in us. I fear that we often come to the table of
communion with the idea of enjoying ourselves; or, rather, of enjoying our
Lord; but we do not rise to the thought of giving him joy. Possibly that
might even seem presumptuous. Yet, he says, "My delights were with the
sons of men." See how joyfully he cries in the next chapter: "I am come
into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my
spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine
with my milk." Our heavenly bridegroom rests in his love, he rejoices over
us with singing. Often he takes more delight in us than we do in him. We
have not even known that he was present, but have been praying him to
come; and all the while he has been near us.
Note well the address of the spouse to her Beloved in the words before us.
She calls him hers -- "My Beloved." When we are sure that he is ours we
desire him to come to us as ours, and to reveal himself as ours. Those
words "My Beloved" are a prose poem: there is more music in them than
in all the laureate's sonnets. However slumbering my graces may be, Jesus
is mine. It is as mine that he will make me live, and cause me to pour forth
my heart's fragrance.
While he is hers she owns that she is wholly his, and all that she has
belongs to him. In the first clause she says, "Awake, O north wind; and
come, you south; blow upon my garden"; but now she prays, "Let my
Beloved come into his garden." She had spoken just before of her fruits,
but now they are his fruits. She was not wrong when she first spoke; but
she is more accurate now. We are not our own. We do not bring forth fruit
of ourselves. The Lord says, "From me is your fruit found." The garden is
of our Lord's purchasing, enclosing, planting, and watering; and all its fruit
belongs to him. This is a powerful reason for his visiting us. Should not a
man come into his own garden, and eat his own fruits? Oh, that the Holy
Spirit may put us into a fit condition to entertain our Lord!
The prayer of the spouse is -- "Let my Beloved come." Do we not say,
"Amen, let him come"? If he does not come in the glory of his Second
Advent at this moment, as, perhaps, he may not, yet let him come. If not to
his judgment-seat, yet let him come into his garden. If he will not come to
gather before him all nations, yet let him come to gather the fruit of his
redemption in us. Let him come into our little circle; let him come into each
heart. "Let my Beloved come." Stand back, you that would hinder him! O
my Beloved, let not my sinful, sluggish, wandering thoughts prevent you
from coming! You did visit the disciples, "the doors being shut"; will
you not come where every opened door bespeaks your welcome? Where
should you come but to your garden? Surely my heart has great need of
you. Many a plant within it needs your care. Welcome, welcome, welcome!
Heaven cannot welcome you more heartily, O my Beloved, than my heart
shall now do! Heaven does not need you so much as I do. Heaven has the
abiding presence of the Lord God Omnipotent; but if you dwell not within
my soul, it is empty, and void, and waste. Come, then, to me, I beseech
you, O my Beloved!
The spouse further cries -- "Let him eat his pleasant fruits." I have often
felt myself overcome with the bare idea that anything I have ever done
should give my Lord pleasure. Can it be that any offering I ever gave him
should be thought worthy of his acceptance; or that anything I ever felt or
said should be a joy to him? Can he perceive any perfume in my spices, or
taste any flavor in my fruits? This is a joy worth worlds. It is one of the
highest tokens of his condescension. It is wonderful that the King from the
far country should come from the glory land, where all choice fruits are at
their best, and enter this poor enclosure in the wilderness, and there eat
such fruits as ours, and call them pleasant, too! O Lord Jesus, come into
our hearts now! O Holy Spirit, blow upon our hearts at this moment! Let
faith, and love, and hope, and joy, and patience, and every grace be now
like violets which betray themselves by their perfume, or like roses which
load the air with their fragrance!
Though we are not content with ourselves, yet may our Lord be pleased
with us! Do come to us, O Lord! That you are our Beloved is a greater
wonder than that you should come to us. That you have made us your
garden is a greater favor than that you should eat our fruits. Fulfil to us
that gracious promise, "I will sup with him, and he with me," for we do
open to you. You said unto the woman of Samaria, "Give me to drink,"
and will you not now accept a draught of love from us? She had no
husband, but you are our Husband; will you not drink from the cup which
we now hold to you? Receive our love, our trust, our consecration.
Delight yourself also in us, as we now delight ourselves in you. We are
asking a great thing of you, but your love warrants large requests. We will
now come to your table, where you shall be our food and drink; but suffer
our spices to be the perfume of the feast, and let us each say, "While the
King sits at his table my spikenard sends forth the smell thereof."
Fulfil this wish of our soul, divine Lord and Master! Amen.