Sermon 282. Christ's Estimate of His People
Delivered on Sabbath Evening, January 23rd, 1859, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
at New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.
"How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments thanall spices! Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue, and the smell of thy garmentsis like the smell of Lebanon."-Song of Solomon 4:10-11.
I SHALL NOT, this evening, attempt to prove that the Song of Solomon has a spiritual meaning. I am sure it has. It has beenfrequently said, and, I believe, has commonly been thought, that this song was originally written by Solomon upon his marriagewith Pharaoh's daughter. Now I am as sure as I am of my own existence, that this is one of the grossest mistakes that everwas committed. There is nothing about Pharaoh's daughter in it. It is, first of all, improbable that itwas written of her; and in the next place I will go further, and affirm that it is impossible that it could have beenwritten by Solomon in honor of her. If you look all through the song you will find that this is so; in the first beginningshe is compared to a shepherdess. Now all shepherds are abominations to the Egyptians; do you think, therefore, that Solomonwould compare an Egyptian princess to the very thing which she abominated. In the next place, all the scenery is in the landofCanaan, none of it in Egypt; and besides that, all the places that Solomon speaks of, such as Engedi, Lebanon, Amana,and Damascus, were all out of the way; not one of them would have been passed in coming out of Egypt into Jerusalem, and veryprobably the Egyptian princess did not even know there were such places at all, so that if Solomon had wished to praise herhe would not have compared her eyes to the fish-ponds of Heshbon, but would have spoken of the sweet waters of the Nile. Besides,it could not have been Pharaoh's daughter. Did Pharaoh's daughter ever keep sheep?-and yet the person who is representedhere did. Did the watchman ever follow her about the streets, and try to take away her veil from her? Solomon would have shownthem something if they had; therefore, that is impossible. In one place, Solomon compares her to a company of horses in Pharaoh'schariot. Now, horses were, among the Israelites, common things; and what would Pharaoh's daughter have said, if Solomonhad compared her to a company of horses? She might have well looked him in the face and said, "Have you not some bettercomparison for me than my father's horses?" It is very unlikely that Solomon perpetrated that folly. It is improbable, therefore,and we may almost say impossible, that it could be Pharaoh's daughter. She never came from Lebanon and from the top of Amana;most probably she never heard of those places, or, if she heard of them, she could not have come from them, for she camefrom Egypt. The fact is, that this book has been a puzzle to many men, for the simple reason that it was not written forthem at all. Learned men and wise men find this a stone on which they are broken to powder, just because it was not writtenfor them. Men who are disposed to laugh at Scripture find here an opportunity to exercise their profane wit, just becausethe book is not written for them. This book was called by the Jews, "the Holiest of Holies;" they never allowed any one toread ittill he was thirty years of age; it was thought to be such a Sacred book. Many a Christian who reads it cannot understandit. And as good Joseph Irons says, "This dwarfish age is not likely to esteem this book as it ought to be esteemed; only thosewho have lived near to Jesus have drunk out of his cup, have eaten his flesh and drank his blood, only those who know thefullness of the word 'communion,' can sit down to this book with delight and pleasure; and to such men these words are aswafersmade with honey, manna, angels' food: every sentence is like gold, and every word is like much fine gold." The true believerwho has lived near to his Master will find this book to be a mass, not of gold merely, for all God's Word is this, but a massof diamonds sparkling with brightness, and all things thou canst conceive are not to be compared with it for its matchlessworth. If I must prefer one book above another, I would prefer some books of the Bible for doctrine, some for experience,some for example, some for teaching, but let me prefer this book above all others for fellowship and communion. When theChristian is nearest to heaven, this is the book he takes with him. There are times when he would leave even the Psalms behind,when standing on the borders of Canaan, when he is in the land of Beulah, and he is just crossing the stream, and can almostsee his Beloved through the rifts of the storm-cloud, then it is he can begin to sing Solomon's Song. This is about the onlybook he could sing in heaven, but for the most part, he could sing this through, these still praising him who is his everlastinglover and friend.
With these preliminary remarks, let us go at once to the text. I have said that this is Jesus speaking to his Church. Howwhen the Church praises Jesus, you do not wonder, for he deserves all she can say of him, and ten thousand times more. Whenshe uses such large expressions concerning his loveliness, you feel that she falls far short of her mighty theme; that shedoes but demean him by her comparisons, for she can but compare the greater with the less, and the beautifuland the eternal, with that which is mutable and transient. But to hear Christ turn round upon his Church, and seem tosay to her "Thou hast praised me, I will praise thee; thou thinkest much of me, I think quite as much of thee; thou usestgreat expressions to me, I will use just the same to thee. Thou sayest my love is better than wine, so is thine to me; thoutellest me all my garments smell of myrrh, so do thine; thou sayest my word is sweeter than honey to thy lips, so is thineto mine. Allthat thou canst say of me, I say it teach to thee; I see myself in thy eyes, I can see my own beauty in thee; and whateverbelongs to me, belongs to thee. Therefore, O my love, I will sing back the song: thou hast sung it to thy beloved, and I willsing it to my beloved, thou hast sung it to thy Ishi, I will sing it to my Hephzibah, thou hast sung it to thy husband, Iwill sing it to my sister, my spouse."
Now note how sweetly the Lord Jesus sings to his spouse, First, he praises her love; "How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine!" Next he praises her graces; "The smell of thy ointments, is much better than all spices." Then he praises her words; "Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb." Then he praises her thoughts, the things that do not come out of her mouth, but lie under her tongue; "Honey andmilk are under thy tongue." Then he finishes by praising her works, "The smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon."
I. Begin at the beginning then, Christ first PRAISES HIS PEOPLE'S LOVE. Dost thou love God, my hearer? Dost thou love Jesus?If not, stand back! These things have nothing to do with thee, for if thou forest not Christ, thou hast neither part nor lotin the matter. Thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. But canst thou say as Peter did, when hisMaster asked him thrice; "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?" Canst thou say, "Lord, thou knowest allthings, thou knowest that I love thee; and thou knowest, O my Lord! that my grief is that I do not love thee more, I pantto have my little love increased, that my heart may be eaten up with love, that zeal of love to thee may completely consumeme?" Hearken then, to what the Lord Jesus says to thee to-night, by his Holy Spirit, from this song! Thy love, poor, feeble,and cold though it be, is very precious unto the Lord Jesus, in fact it is so precious, that he himself cannot tell how preciousit is. He does not say how precious, but he says, "how fair." This is an expression that men use when they do not knowhow to describe anything. They lift up their hands, they put in a note of exclamation, and they say, "How fair! how precious!how much better is thy love than wine!" The fact is, that Jesus values our love at such a price, that the Holy Spirit whenhe dictated this Song of Solomon, could not see any word in all human language that was large enough to set forth Christ'sestimation of our love. Have you never thought of Christ's love to you, till your heart has been melted, while your belovedspoke to you, till the tears have run down your eyes, and you have believed you could do as Mary Magdalene did, could kisshis feet, and wash them with your tears, and wipe them with the hairs of your head? Now can you believe it? Just what youthink of Christ's love, Christ thinks of yours. You value his love, and you are right in so doing; but I am afraid that stillyouundervalue it. He even values your love, if I may so speak, he sets a far higher estimate upon it than you do; he thinksvery much of little, he estimates it not by its strength, but by its sincerity. "Ah," he says, "he does love me, he does loveme, I know he does; he sins, he disobeys me, but still I know he loves me, his heart is true, he does not love me as I deserve,but still he loves me." Jesus Christ is delighted with the thought that his people love him, this cheers any gladdens him.Just as the thought of his love gladdens us, so the thought of our love gladdens him. Notice how he puts it, he says,"How much better is thy love than wine!" Now wine when used in Scripture, frequently signifies two things, a great luxury,and a great refreshment. Wine is a luxury, especially it is so in this country, and even in the East, where there was moreof it, good wine was still a dainty thing. Now Jesus Christ looks upon his people's love as being a luxury to him; and I willshow youthat he does. When he sat at the feast of Simon the Pharisee, I have no doubt there were sparkling wine cups on the table,and many rich dainties were there, but Jesus Christ did not care for the wine, nor for the banquet. What did he care for them?That poor woman's love was much better to him than wine. He could say to Simon the Pharisee, if he had chosen, "Simon, putaway thy wine cups, take away thy dainties; this is my feast, the feast of my people's love." I told you also that wine wasused as an emblem of refreshment. Now, our Saviour has often been refreshed by his people's love. "No," says one, "thatcannot be." Yes! you remember once he was weary and thirsty, and sat upon the well of Samaria. He needed wine then indeedto refresh him, but he could not get so much as a drop of water. He spoke to a woman whom he had loved from before all worlds,he put new life into her, and she at once desired to give him drink; but she ran away first to tell to the Samaritans whatshe hadheard. Now the Saviour was so delighted at her wishing to do good, that when his disciples came, they expected to findhim fainting, for he had walked many a weary mile that day, so they said, "Whence hath he meat?" and he said, "I have meatto eat that ye know not of." It was that woman's love that had fed him. He had broken her heart, he had won her to himself,and when he saw the tear roll from her eye, and knew that her heart was set upon him, his spirits all revived, and his poorflaggingstrength grew strong. It was this encouraged him. Nay, I will go farther. When Christ went to his cross there was onething that cheered him even in the agonies of death, it was the thought of his people's love. Are we not told by the apostlePaul in the Hebrews, that our blessed and divine husband, the Lord Jesus, "for the joy that was set before him, endured thecross, despising the shame?" What was that joy? Why, the joy that he should see his seed, and that seed should love him, andthat heshould have his love written in their hearts, in remembrance of his dying pains and agonies: Jesus was cheered, even inhis death agonies, by the thought of the love of his people, when the bulls of Bashan roared upon him, and the dogs bayedhim, when the sun was put out in darkness, when his Father's hand was heavy upon him, when the legions of hell compassed him,when the pangs of body, and the tortures of spirit all beset him; it was this that cheered him, "My people, they are dearto me,for them I stretch these bleeding hands; for them shall this heart be pierced and oh, how they will love me, how theywill love me on earth! how they will love me spiritually in Paradise!" This was the wine the Saviour had to drink; this wasthe cup of his delightful joy that made him bear all these pains without a murmuring, and this was the meaning of these wordsof Jesus-"How much better is thy love than wine!"
Pause here, my soul, to contemplate a moment, and let thy joy wait awhile. Jesus Christ has banquets in heaven, such as wehave never yet tasted, and yet he does not feed there. He has wines in heaven richer far than all the grapes of Eshcol couldproduce, but where dose he seek his wines? In our hearts, my friends, in our hearts. Not all the love of angels, nor all thejoys of Paradise, are so dear to him as the love of his poor people, sprinkled with sin, and compassedwith infirmity. Is not that a thought! I may preach about it, I can only speak it to you; read it, mark it, learn it,and inwardly digest it; and oh, if you saw him standing here to-night, and looking into your eyes, and saying to you personally,-"Youlove me, I know that you love me, thy love is to me better far than wine;" would you not fall at his feet and say, "Lord,is my love so sweet to thee? then shame upon me that I should give thee so little of it." And then you would break out intothe Song of Krishnu, which we sung this morning,
"O now, my soul, forget no more
The Lord who all the misery bore,
Nor him forget who left his throne,
And for thy life gave up his own."
This is the first point: the love of the believer is sweet to Christ.
II. Do not imagine, however, that Christ despises our faith, or our hope, or our patience, or our humility. All these GRACESare precious, to him, and they are described in the next sentence under the title of ointment, and the working of these graces,their exercise and development, are compared to the smell of ointment. Now both wine and ointment were used in the sacrificeof the Jews, sweet smelling myrrh and spices were used in meat offerings and drink offerings beforethe Lord "But," saith Jesus Christ to his church, "all these offerings of wine, and all that burning of incense, is nothingto me compared to your graces. Your love is my wine, your virtues are my sweet smelling ointments." For now you have a littlefaith, but oh, how little it is. You seem to have got just faith enough to know how unbelieving you are; you have got love,but somehow you have only got about love enough to let you know how little you love him. You have some humility, but you haveonly enough humility to discover you are very proud: you have some real for Christ, but you have only zeal enough to makeyou chide yourself that you are so cold; you have some hope, but you have only hope enough to lead you to see how despairingand desponding you often are; you have some patience, but you have only patience enough to teach you how often you murmurwhen you ought not. "I confess," say you, "that all my graces are a stench in my own nostrils, and all the good things I trustIhave, I cannot look upon them with any pride or self-congratulation. I must bury myself in dust and ashes; and even thosethings, I can but weep over them, for they are so marred by my own evil nature." But now then, the very things that you andI very properly weep over, Christ delights in. He loves all these: the smell may seem to be but very faint and feeble, yetJesus observes it, Jesus smells it, Jesus loves it, and Jesus approver it. Yes, believer, when you are on your sick bed andaresuffering with patience; when you go about your humble way to do good by stealth; when you distribute of your alms tothe poor; when you lift up your thankful eye to heaven; when you draw near to God with humble prayer, when you make confessionof your sin to him; all these acts are like the smell of ointment to him, the smell of a sweet savor, and he is gratifiedand pleased. O Jesus, this is condescension indeed, to be pleased with such poor things as we have. Oh this is love, it provesthylove to us, that thou canst make so much out of little, and esteem so highly that which is of such little worth! Haveyou never known a little child when he feels love in his heart go into the garden or the field and bring you a little flower,it may be but a little buttercup or a daisy, a great thing to him, perhaps, but a trifle to you-worthless in fact-you havetaken it and you have smiled and have felt happy because it was a token of your child's love? So Jesus esteems your graces,theyare his gift to you. Mark, first of all, they are very poor things in themselves; till he esteems them as tokens of yourlove, and he rejoices in them, and declares they are as sweet to him as all the spices of Araby, and all the rich odours ofthe merchant. This is the second thing.
III. Now we come to thy third, "Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb." Christ's people are not a dumb people, theywere once but they TALK now. I do not believe a Christian can keep the secret that God gives him if he were to try; it wouldburst his lips open to get out. When God puts grace into your heart you may try to hide it, but hide it you cannot. It willbe like fire in the bones, and will be sure to find its way out. Now the church is a talking church, apreaching church, and a praising church; she has got lips, and every believer will find he must use his lips in the serviceof Christ. Now it is but poor, poor matter that any of us can speak. When we are most eloquent in our Master's praise, howfar our praiser fall beneath his worth! When we are most earnest in prayer, how powerless is our wrestling compared with thegreat blessing that we seek to obtain! When our song is loudest, and it begins to be something akin to the chorus of theangels, even then how marred it is with the discord of our unbelief and of our worldliness! But Jesus Christ does notfind any fault in what the Church speaks. He says, "No, 'Thy lips, O my spouse, drop us the honeycomb.'" You know the honeythat drops out of the honeycomb is the best-it is called the life-honey. So the words that drop from the Christian's lipsare the very words of his life, his life-honey, and they ought to be sweet to every one. They are as sweet to the taste ofthe LordJesus as the drops of the honeycomb.
A little caution to some of you that talk too much. Some of you do not let your words drop as the honeycomb, they gush outas a great stream that sweeps everything before it, so that others could not thrust in a word edgeways; no, not it it weresqueezed together and sharpened at one end could it be got in. They must talk, their tongue seems set on a hinge, like a pendulum,for ever going on, swing! swing! swing! Now Christ does not admire that. He says of his church inhis commending, her lips "drop as the honeycomb." Now a honeycomb, when it drops, does not drop go much even as the dropsthat fall from the eaves of houses; for the honey is thick, and rich, and therefore it takes some time. One drop hangs fora time; then comes another, and then another, and does not all come in quick succession. Now when people are often talkinga great deal, it is poor and thin, and good for nothing; but when they have something good to say, it drops by slow degreeslikethe honey from the honeycomb. Mark, I do not want you to say one good word less. They are those other words, those awkwardones. Oh that we could leave them out! I am as guilty of this myself, I fear, as many others. If we could talk half as much,it would be, perhaps, twice as good; and if we were to say only a tenth of what we do, perhaps we should be ten times better,for he is a wise man that knows how to speak well, but he is a great deal wiser man that knows how to hold his tongue. Thelips of the true church, the lips of the true believer drop like the honeycomb, with rich words, rich thoughts, rich prayers,rich praises. "Oh," says one, "but I am sure my lips do not drop like that when in prayer. Sometimes even I cannot get onat all, and when I am singing I cannot put my heart into it, and when I am trying to instruct others, I feel I am so ignorantthat I know nothing myself." That is your estimate;-I am glad you are so humble as to think that. But Christ does not thinkso. "Ah," he says, "that man would preach if he could; that man would honor me better if he could." And he does not measurewhat we do, but what we want to do; and so it is that he reckons that our lips drop like the honeycomb. What is sweeter inthe world than honey from the honeycomb? But whatever may be the sweetest thing to the world, the words of the Christian arethe sweetest things to Christ. Sometimes believers are privileged to set down together, and they begin to talk about whathesaid, and what he suffered for them here below, they begin to speak of his exceeding glories and his boundless and matchlesslove; they begin to tell to one another what they have tasted and handled of the good word of life, and their hearts beginto burn within them when they speak of these things by the way. Do you know that Jesus is in that room, smiling Jesus is there,and he is saving to his own soul, "It is good to be here, the lips of these my brethren drop as the honeycomb, and theirwords are sweet to me." At another time the Christian is alone in his chamber, and he talks with his God in a few brokenwords, and with many sighs, many tears, and many groans, and little does he think that Jesus Christ is there, saying to suchan one, "Thy lips, O my beloved, drop with honey like the honeycomb."
And now Christians will you not talk much about Jesus? Will you not speak often of him? Will you not give your tongue morecontinually to prayer and praise, and speech that ministers to edifying, when you have such a listener as this, such an auditorwho stoops from heaven to hear you, and who values every word you speak for him? Oh, it is a sweet thing to preach when thepeople listen to catch every word. I would give in if I had to preach to an inattentive audience. Andyet I do not know. Plato, we are told, was once listening to an orator, and when all the people had gone away but Plato,the orator went on with all his might. Being asked why he prooceded, he replied, that Plato was sufficient audience for anyman. And surely if in preaching, or in praying, all the world should find fault, and all the world should run from it, Jesusis enough to be the hearer for any man. And if he is satisfied, if he says our words are sweeter than the honeycomb, we willnotstop; all the devils in hell shall not stop us. We could continue to preach, and praise, and pray, while immortality endures.If this be honey, then the honey shall drop. If Christ prizes it, we set his opinion against all the opinion in the world;he knows better than any others; he is the best judge, for he is the last and final judge-we will go on talking of him, whilehe goes on to say, our lips drop as the honeycomb. "But," says one, "if I were to try to talk about Jesus Christ, I do notknow what I should say." If you wanted any honey, and nobody would bring it to you, I suppose the best way, if you werein the country, would be to keep some bees, would it not? It would be very well for you Christian people if you kept bees."Well," says one, "I suppose our thoughts are to be the bees. We are always to be looking about for good thoughts, and flyingon to the flowers where they are to be found; by reading, by meditation and by prayer, we are to send bees out of the hive."Certainly, if you do not read your Bibles. you will have no honey, because you have no bees. But when you read your Bibles,and study those precious texts, it is like bees settling on flowers, and sucking the sweetness out of them. There are manyother books, though the Bible is the chief one, that you may read with great advantage; over which your thoughts may be busiedas bees among flowers. And then you must attend the means of grace continually; you must listen often to the preaching oftheWord; and if you hear a minister who is a plant of the Lord's right hand planting, and you in what you hear, you willbe like the bees sucking sweetness out of flowers, and your lips will be like the honeycomb. But some people have nothingin their heads, and they are never likely to have for they are so wise that they cannot learn, and they are such fools thatthey will never teach. Some waste the time they have. Now I would have my people read much the Word of God, and study it,and then readsuch books as shall illustrate it. I will tell you where I have been sipping a bit just lately) and I have often sippedmuch from-it is this book of Solomon's Song. It is a favourite book of mine. And there is a sweet little book of Joseph Irons's,called "Nymphas," a blank verse explanation of it. If any of you have that little book, set your bees to work on it, and ifyou do not suck honey out of it I am very much mistaken. Then let the bees bring the honey to the hive of your memory, andlet it be added to the stores of your mind, and in this way you will get rich in precious things, so that when you speak,the saints will be edified, your prayers will be full of marrow and fatness, and your praises will have something in them,because you have sent your bees well abroad, and therefore your lips will drop as the honeycomb.
IV. This brings us to the next topic-"Honey and milk are under thy tongue." I find it necessary when I preach to keep a goodstock of words under my tongue as well as those that are on it. It is a curious operation of the mind in the man who continuallypreaches. It sometimes happens while I am speaking to you that I am thinking about what I am going to say at the close ofmy sermon, and when I am thinking about people down stairs or in the gallery, and how I shall hitMr. So-and-so, I am still talking right on, speaking with all my heart on the subject on which I am addressing you. Itis because by continually preaching we get into the habit of keeping words under our tongue as well as those that are on thetop, and sometimes we find it necessary to keep those words under our tongue altogether and not let them come further. Veryoften I have got a simile just ready to come out, and I have thought, "Ah, that is one of your laughable similes, take thatback."I am obliged to change it for something else. If I did that a little oftener perhaps it would be better, but I cannotdo it. I have sometimes a whole host of them under my tongue, and I am obliged to keep them back. "Honey and milk are underthy tongue."
That is not the only meaning. The Christian is to have words ready to come out by-and-bye. You know the hypocrite has wordsupon his tongue. We speak about solemn sounds upon a thoughtless tongue, but the Christian has his words first under the tongue.There they lie. They come from his heart; they do not come from the top of his tongue,-they are not superficial service work,but they come from under the tongue-down deep,-things that he feels, and matters that heknows. Nor is this the only meaning. The things that are under the tongue are thoughts that have never yet been expressed;they do not get to the top of the tongue, but lie there half formed and are ready to come out; but either because they cannotcome out, or we have not time to let them out, there they remain, and never come into actual words. Now Jesus Christ thinksvery much even of these; he says, "Honey and milk are under thy tongue;" and Christian meditation and Christian contemplationare to Christ like honey for sweetness and like milk for nourishment. Honey and milk are two things with which the landof Canaan was said to flow; and so the heart of a Christian flows with milk and honey, like the land which God gave to hisancient people. "Well," says one, "I cannot find that my heart is like that. If I do sit down and think of Jesus, my thoughtsturn upon the glories of his person and the excellency of his office; but oh, sir, my thoughts are such dull, cold, uselessthings, they do not feed me or delight me." Ah but, you see, Christ does not estimate them as you do; he feeds on them,they are like honey to him, and though you think little of your own thoughts, and are right in so doing, yet, oh remember,such is the love of Jesus, such is his abundant condescension and compassion, that the very least things that you have hevalues at a great price. The words you are not speaking the words you cannot utter, the groans you cannot bring out-thesethe HolySpirit utters for you, and these Jesus treasures up as choice and peculiarly precious thing. "honey and milk are underthy tongue."
V. And then, last of all, "the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon." The odoriferous herbs that grew on theside of Lebanon delighted the traveler, and, perhaps, here is an allusion to the peculiarly sweet smell of the cedar wood.Now, the garments of a Christian are two-fold-the garment of imputed righteousness, and the garment of inwrought sanctification.I think the allusion here is to the second. The garments of a Christian are his EVERY DAYACTIONS-the things that he wears upon him wherever he goes. Now these smell very sweet to the Lord Jesus. And here letus speak to some of you here present who manifestly are not God's children, for you smell of the garlic of Egypt rather thanof the cedar of Lebanon; and there are some professors, and, perhaps; some now present, whose smell is anything but like thatof Lebanon. Take heed, ye that do not live up to your profession. You have sad evidences within that you have not possession.If you can dishonor Christ's holy gospel by the living in sin, tremble! lest when he shall come in the terror of judgment,he should cry, "Depart, ye cursed; I never knew you." But if you be humble lovers of Christ, and really have your hearts setupon him, your daily actions are observed by him, and the smell of it is to him as sweet as the smell of Lebanon. What shouldyou think if Jesus should meet you at the close of the day, and say to you, "I am pleased with the works of to-day?" I knowyou would reply, "Lord, I have done nothing for thee." You would say like those at the last day, "Lord when saw we theehungry and fed thee? when saw we thee thirsty and gave thee drink?" You would begin to deny that you had done any good thing.He would say, "Ah, when thou wast under the fig tree I saw thee; when thou wast at thy bedside in prayer I heard thee. I sawthee when the tempter came and thou saidst, 'Get thee hence, Satan;' I saw thee give thine alms to one of my poor sick children;I heard thee speak a good word to the little child and teach him the name of Jesus; I heard thee groan when swearing pollutedthine ears; I heard thy sigh when thou sawest the iniquity of this great city; I saw there when thine hands were busy, I sawthat thou west not an eye-servant or a man-pleaser, but that in singleness of purpose thou didst serve God in doing thy dailybusiness; I saw thee, when the day was ended, give thyself to God again; I have marked thee mourning over the sins thouhast committed, and I tell thee I am pleased with thee." "The smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon." And,again, I hear you say, "But, Lord, I was angry, I was proud," and he says, "But I have covered up this, I have cast it intothe depths of the sea; I have blotted it all out with my blood. I can see no ill in thee; thou art all fair, my love, thereis no spot in thee." What would you do then? Would you not at once fall down at his feet and say, "Lord, I never knew lovelikethis: I have heard that love covers a multitude of sins, but I never knew a love so broad as to cover all mine. And thento declare that thou canst see no sin in me at all-ah! that is love?" It may melt our heart, and make us seek to be holy,that we might not grieve Christ, make us labor to be diligent in his service, that we might not dishonor him.
I dare say some of you think when ministers preach or go about to do their pastoral duty, that of course Christ is very muchpleased with them. "Ah," says Mary, "I am only a poor servant girl; I have to get up in the morning and light the fire, layout the breakfast things, dust the parlour, make the pies and puddings for dinner, and clear away the things again, and washthem up-I have to do everything there is to do in the house-Christ cannot be pleased with this."Why Mary, you can serve Christ as much in making beds, as I can in making sermons; and you can be as much a true servantof Christ in dusting a room, as I can in administering discipline in a church. Do not think for a single moment that you cannotserve Christ. Our religion is to be an everyday religion-a religion for the kitchen as well as for the parlour, a religionfor the rolling pin, and the jack-towel, quite as much as for the pulpit stairs and the Bible-a religion that we can takewith us wherever we go. And there is such a thing as glorifying Christ in all the common actions of life. "Servants beobedient to your masters, not only to those who are good and gentle, but to the froward." You men of business, you need notthink that when you are measuring your ribbons, or weighing out your pounds of sugar, or when you are selling, or buying,or going to market, and such like, that you cannot be serving Christ. Why a builder can serve Christ in putting his brickstogether,and you can serve Christ in whatever you are called to do with your hands, if you do it as unto the Lord, and not untomen. I remember Mr. Jay once said, that if a shoeblack were a Christian, he could serve Christ in blacking shoes. He oughtto black them, he said, better than anyone else in the parish; and then people would say, "Ah, this Christian shoeblack, heis conscientious; he won't send the boots away with the heels half done, but will do them thoroughly." And so ought you. Youcan sayof every article you sell, and of everything you do, "I turned that out of my hands in such a manner that it shall defycompetition. The man has got his money's worth; he cannot say I am a rogue or a cheat. There are tricks in many trades, butI will not have anything to do with them; many get money fast by adulteration in trade, but I will not do it, I would soonerbe poor than do it." Why, the world says, "there is a sermon in that grocer's window-look, you don't see him telling liestopuff his goods: there is a sermon there." People say as they pass by, "It is a godly man that keeps that shop, he cannotbring his conscience down to do what others do. If you go there, you will be well treated, and you will come out of his shopand say, I have spent my money well, and I am glad that I have dealt with a Christian man." Depend upon it, you will be asgood preachers in your shops as I shall be in my pulpit, if you do that; depend upon it, there is a way of serving Christin thismanner; and this is to comfort you and cheer you. Upon all the actions of your daily life the Lord Jesus looks down fromheaven and says, "The smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon." I know you can hardly believe that Jesus Christtakes notice of such little things as that, but be does. You say, "Oh, but they are too trifling." But don't you know, theGod that wings an angel guides a sparrow? Don't you know "the very hairs of your head are all numbered?" God not only wingsthewhirlwind, and gives an edge to the lightning flash, but he guides the chaff from the hand of the winnower, and steersthe grain of dust in the evening gale. Do not think anything too little for you. He observes the mighty orbs as they whirlthrough space, but he notices you too, as you go about your business. And those little cups of cold water you give to hispeople-those little services you do for his church, those self-denials that you make for his honor, and those conscientiousscrupleswhich you foster, and which will not allow you to act as the world acts, all these he observes, and he says, "The smellof thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon."
And now to conclude, what shall we say to this? I was reading sometime ago, an article in a newspaper, very much in my praise;and you know, it makes me sad, so sad that I could cry, if ever I see anything praising me; it breaks my heart. I feel I donot deserve it; and then I say, "Now I must try and be better so that I may deserve it. If the world abuses me, I am a matchfor that, I begin to like it; it may fire all its big guns at me, I will not return a solitary shot,but just store them up, and grow rich upon the old iron. All the abuse it likes to heap upon me I can stand; but whena man praises me, I feel it is a poor thing I have done, sad that he praises me for what I do not deserve. This crushes medown, and I say I must set to work and deserve this. I must preach better. I must be more earnest, more diligent in my Master'sservice. Now, will not this text produce just the same effect on you? When the Lord comes to you, and begins saying, "Youare notso humble, nor so prayerful, nor so believing as you ought to be;" you say, "I do not care about this whipping;" but whenhe comes and begins to praise you, and tells you, "That your lips drop as the honeycomb, that all your actions smell of myrrh,and that your love is better than wine, and that the thoughts under your tongue are better to him than wine and milk," whatwill you say? Oh, Lord, I cannot say thou art mistaken, for thou art infallible; but if I might say such a thing, if I daredso think thou art mistaken, I should say, "Thou art mistaken in me;" but Lord I cannot think thou art mistaken, it mustbe true. Still, Lord, I do not deserve it; I am conscious I do not, and I never can deserve it, still if thou wilt help me,I will strive to be worthy of thy praise in some feeble measure. I will seek to live up to those high encomiums which thouhast passed upon me. If thou sayest, "My love is better than wine;" Lord, I will seek to love thee better, that the wine maybericher and stronger. If thou sayest, "My graces are like the smell of ointment," Lord, I will try to increase them, soas to have many great pots filled with them; and if my words drop as the honeycomb, Lord, there shall be more of them, andI will try to make them better, so that thou mayest think more of such honey; and if thou declarest that the thoughts undermy tongue are to thee like honey and milk, then, Lord, I will seek to have more of those divine thoughts; and if my dailyactions areto thee as the smell of Lebanon, Lord, I will seek to be more holy, to live nearer to thee; I will ask for grace, thatmy actions may be really what thou sayest they are.
Ye that love not God, I can weep over you, for ye have nothing to do with this text. It is a frightful thing that you shouldbe shut out of such praise as this-may Christ bring you in! You must first be brought to feel you are nothing; you must thenbe led to feel that Christ is everything, and then, after that, you shall understand this text, and these words will be spokento you.
[Owing to the accidental absence of the Reporter, we are unable to publish last Sunday Morning's Sermon, and we have substituteda discourse, hitherto unpublished, preached on a former occasion.]