A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, September 28, 1873, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *12/14/2011
Its interior being paved with love, for the daughters of
Jerusalem. [So 3:10]
For other sermons on this text:
[See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "So 3:10"]
1. This portion of the Song describes the royal bridegroom as travelling up from the wilderness in an eastern palanquin, [a] attended by his bodyguard, and by those who bear torches and burn perfumes. We have a description of the sumptuous chariot bed in which this great monarch travelled, describing it as being made of cedar wood, with pillars of silver, a base of gold, curtains of purple, and then within it a mosaic floor, with a surface, not of precious stones, but of priceless love. Metaphor is suddenly dropped in this last item, and the result is a complicated, but very expressive form of speech. Some regard the expression as signifying a surface of stone, engraved with hieroglyphic emblems of love, which made up the floor of this travelling chariot; but this would surely be very uncomfortable and unusual, and therefore others have explained the passage as referring to choice embroidery, and dainty carpets, woven with cost and care, with which the interior of the travelling chair was lined. Into such embroidery sentences of love poetry may have been worked. Needlework was probably the material of which it was composed; skilful fingers would embroider in it emblems and symbols of love. Just as the spouse in the second chapter sings, “His banner over me was love,” probably alluding to some love word upon the banner; so, probably, tokens of love were carved or embroidered, as the case may have been, upon the interior of the chariot, so that “its interior was paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem.” We need not, however, spend long on the metaphor, but endeavour to profit by its teaching.
2. This palanquin or travelling chariot in which the king is carried, represents the covenant of grace, the plan of salvation, and, in fact, the whole system by which the Lord Jesus comes down in mercy among men, and by which he bears his people along with himself through the wilderness of this world, onward to the rest which he has prepared for them. It is, in a word, the mediatorial work of Jesus. The ark was carried through the wilderness preceded by the pillar of cloud and fire, as the symbol of the divine presence in mercy, and here we have a somewhat similar representation of the great King of grace, borne in regal splendour through the world, and bearing his elect spouse with him. May it be ours to be made to ride like Jeshurun, upon the high places of the earth in happy fellowship with him whose goings forth were of old, even from everlasting.
3. I. I shall ask you to notice, first, this morning, THE GROWTH WHICH IS INDICATED HERE CONCERNING OUR VIEWS OF THE COVENANT OF GRACE.
4. The description advances step by step, each sentence mentioning an additional and far enhanced preciousness. Therefore those who study the work of salvation prize it more and more. At first glance the sweet singer who speaks in this song thought that the chariot was made of cedar, a costly wood; a closer view revealed “the silver pillars, beautiful to see”: further observation showed “the base all of polished gold.” From cedar to silver, and from silver to gold, we have a clear advance concerning precious material. On looking again, the observer remarks “the top of princely purple,” which is even more precious as the type of imperial dignity, and the sign of that effective atonement which was accomplished by the bloody stream of Calvary. The blood which dyed that purple canopy is much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tried with fire. And then, though one would think there could be no advance beyond the precious blood, the song proceeds even one step further, for we find that “its interior was paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem.”
5. Beloved, the whole plan of salvation was devised by the Lord Jesus Christ. It is all his own planning, and all his own carrying out. Hence the Song says, “King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon.” Jesus is the sole author and finisher of our faith; salvation is his from first to last; every part of the covenant reveals his master hand. This is the glory of the whole, and this the believing eye perceives at the very first glance, and is made glad by it; but further knowledge reveals other bright and glorious facts; and as the matter is considered, wonder and gratitude increase. Let us, then, take a brief survey of this glorious gospel chariot, that wondrous thing, — Jehovah’s covenant of grace.
6. The first item is, that it is made of “the wood of Lebanon.” The finest wood upon the earth was that of the cedar, and the finest cedars were those which grew upon the Lebanon range. The Lebanon cedars, indeed, appear to have possessed qualities not found in the common cedar with which we are acquainted. What was considered the best wood is used as the symbol of the superior excellency of the covenant of grace. Cedar, moreover, was not only the most costly wood, and most esteemed, but it is one of the most lasting. Laudon says that it is particularly valued for its durability; a fit type for that “covenant ordered in all things and sure,” of which not one jot or tittle shall ever fail. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but the word upon which we trust shall endure for ever. In addition to its other excellencies cedar wood exudes a sweet perfume, so that a chariot of cedar would not only be very lasting but very delightful to ride in, even as we rejoice in God’s salvation today, and are filled with peace through believing. When we look at the covenant of salvation, at the very first glimpse of it we see that there is nothing like it: many schemes have been imagined and extolled as ways of salvation, but not one of them can be compared to the method of atonement by blood, reconciliation through a substitutionary sacrifice, redemption by the incarnate God, salvation all of grace from first to last. When this is compared to a chariot, no timber less noble than the sweet scented fir, cut from the monarch of Israel’s royal forest, could worthily portray it. Lies and vanity make up all other plans, but this is royal truth. Other ways of salvation have been tried, but they have soon proven to be failures; the worm of human depravity has eaten into the choicest wood that was ever felled in the forests of human merit; decay has seized upon all the goodly oaks of unaided human endeavours; and rottenness has devoured all carnal boastings, but the cedar wood of our hope in Jesus has shown no sign of crumbling to decay, and it never will. There is in the atonement made by Christ a perpetuity of prevalence; it has availed for sin and will avail to the very end of time, so that whoever trusts in it has a hope which will not deceive him. I dare await the test of a long and afflicted life, or of a sudden and painful death, for the basis of my hope is undisturbed by outward circumstances; like the cedar, it is adapted to withstand all weathers. As surely as the body of the Lord saw no corruption, so surely shall my hope never turn to despair, and even if it is buried it shall rise again. What consolation such a hope affords us! And for this reason, as perfume exudes from cedar wood, so do fragrant comforts come pouring out from the salvation which Jesus Christ has accomplished for us. It is a pleasant as well as a safe thing to rest in what Christ has done. Our joy is greatest when our faith in him is most simple; the bare cedar wood is most fragrant. We derive from every part of his work some joy, every part of it smells most sweetly; he is all happiness, all consolation, all bliss to us; and when our spirit casts itself in perfect simplicity upon him it breathes a perfumed atmosphere, delightful and reviving. If such is the first and lowest item in the description of the chariot, what will the richer portions be?
7. We will now look more closely at the royal chariot, and note well the four pillars which support the canopy; and as we gaze we find that they are of silver — something more precious than cedar wood, for the salvation of Jesus grows upon us, and for us who believe he is more and more precious. There are some pictures so well painted that you may examine them with a magnifying glass, and instead of detecting defects you will perceive even greater beauties; so may you examine the work of our blessed Lord microscopically, if you choose; and the more you look the more you will marvel, he is so truly glorious, so intrinsically precious, so infinitely to be admired. And what do you think these pillars are which support the canopy and add such beauty to the chariot? What are they except divine holiness, and infinite purity? Silver is constantly used in Scripture as the type of what is precious and pure, — “As silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” And oh beloved, how holy the gospel is; the Lord’s word is very pure in itself, and very purifying to those who receive it. Wherever the true gospel is preached it promotes holiness, and in so doing acts according to its nature, creating its equal. There is not a doctrine of the gospel which is not according to godliness, none of its blessings make provision for the flesh, none of its precepts encourage sin, none of its promises wink at iniquity. The spirit of the gospel is always the spirit of holiness; it wages determined war against the lustings of the flesh, and consequently the gospel is abhorred by the unclean. It lays the axe at the root of sin, and like a fire devours all evil. As for the Lord Jesus Christ himself, is he not immaculate holiness? If you wish to see holiness embodied, where can you look except to the person of our well beloved Master? Where are his imperfections? Can you find a flaw either in his language or in his actions, in himself or in the spirit that motivated him? Is he not altogether perfect? Look, then, at the gospel, the way of salvation, and the covenant of grace, and you shall see holiness conspicuous everywhere, but especially when you come to deal with the centre of the gospel, the great atoning sacrifice. Four silver pillars hold up this crimson canopy. The blood red propitiation covers us from the wrath of God, and the holiness of God holds up this interposing medium. He is not unrighteous to forget the blood of the atonement. Because he is a just God he is now the Saviour of those who are sheltered beneath the reconciling blood of Calvary. The Lord could not forgive sin until first the honour of his law had been vindicated; but that being done, the very same honour requires that the atonement should be respected and the believing sinner saved. When we see Christ upon the cross we learn how God’s inflexible justice, like unbending pillars of pure silver, holds up aloft the crimson shelter of vicarious death, beneath which the saints are secure. Even to save his own elect, Jehovah would not mar his integrity, nor allow his great white throne to be stained with injustice. He is no respecter of persons, and when sitting on the throne of judgment, even his own chosen, whom he loves with everlasting love, must be treated with the same impartiality as his enemies. This he has accomplished by accepting his Son in their place, and exacting from him those penalties which were due from them, but might be justly received at the hands of their federal Head. There is no injustice in the salvation of the believer, there is not even an abatement of the claims of just retribution; all is done openly, and in order to challenge the most severe examination. Conspicuously before the eyes of all, the silver pillars of purity bear up the sacred atonement. Is this not a matter for superlative delight?
But we look more closely, and discern what would not have been
perceived at a distance, “the base” of the chariot bed “is of
gold,” the most precious metal of all. This is to indicate that the
foundations of salvation are imperishable, and unchangeably precious.
The basis of grace is laid in the immutable purpose and unchanging
decree of God, and in the everlasting, undiminished, unchangeable
love of God towards his dear Son, and to those who are in him.
Blessed be God for a salvation which will not yield under pressure,
or fail us in our hour of peril. It is no base metal, but gold tried
in the fire. I cannot understand those who think that God loves his
people one day and hates them the next; that although he knew what
they would be, and knew that they would fall into sin, still he
resolved to take them to himself as his children for a little while,
and then afterwards to disinherit them. May God forbid I should ever
understand a doctrine so dishonouring to the Lord, who does not
change. My own love for my children makes me feel that they must be
my children as long as they live and I live; and surely God’s
children must and shall be his children while God himself shall live
and his people shall exist. Beloved, the basis on which we rest as
saved sinners is not the shifting foundation of our own feelings,
doings, prayings, and resolvings. If our salvation depended upon our
good behaviour, we might as well build on the clouds, and pile up
bubbles as our cornerstones: indeed, and if it rested upon our own
unaided faith, if there were no guarantee of grace to keep that faith
alive, but all rested on the exercise of faith by us, it would be
better never to have had a hope of salvation at all, than to have had
such a wretched, unsubstantial mockery, certain to end before long in
fatal disappointment. You and I have not learned about Christ this
way. We have left the miry clay for the solid rock. God has made an
eternal purpose concerning his people, and that will never be
changed; infinite love ordained their salvation, and will never
reverse its decree, though day and night should cease. Infinite power
guarantees the fulfilment of the divine purpose, and what can
withstand omnipotence? A complete atonement has been already made,
and it will never lose its efficacy, and therefore those for whom it
was accomplished must be saved. There is, moreover, an indwelling
Spirit who has come into God’s people, to abide with them for ever,
according to the covenant promise, “I will dwell in them, and I will
walk in them. I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Our
spiritual life does not hang on a thread, as it would do if it were
in our own keeping, but it depends upon Jesus; for has he not said,
“Because I live you shall live also?” Nothing can be more secure than
the salvation of the soul that believes in Jesus, for it rests in God
alone. Concerning the chariot of salvation we may say with quaint
Ralph Erskine —
Its bottom is a groundwork sure
Of pure and solid gold,
From bankrupt beggary to secure,
From falling through t’ uphold.
Let us view the royal canopy of the chariot: “its covering is of
purple.” As the king and his bride travelled they needed to be
screened from the sun’s baleful rays; lo, over the head of the spouse
hangs a regal covering of purple. Look up, my soul, and see what
interposes between your God and you! He must strike you, for you are
a sinner; but you are covered and sheltered, and are living happily.
What is it that shields you? What, indeed, except the atoning blood!
Ah, who can view that purple covering
And turn away unmoved, insensible?
Who can discern it, and forget that day
When impious greetings shouted forth disdain,
When, crowned with thorns, the Man of sorrows stood
In purple robes of cruel mockery;
Despised, rejected, yet a king indeed,
Whom they shall see hereafter on his throne.
10. The atonement shelters us: never was a soul injured by the rays of God’s justice when hidden beneath this purple; and there shall never be. There is no repose for the conscience anywhere else, but there is perfect repose here. I often hear theories about what Christ did which remind me of Dr. Duncan’s description of Robertson, of Brighton: “Robertson believed that Christ did something or other, which somehow or other had some connection or other with salvation.” This may suit others, but is of no of use to me. I feel that if Christ did not actually and literally die as my Substitute, the just for the unjust, I am not saved, and never can be at rest in my heart again. I renounce all preaching whatever if substitution is not the leading feature of my theme, for there is nothing worth preaching when that is gone. I regard that doctrine as the fundamental truth of the gospel, which, denied, you have destroyed the gospel, and which, cast into the background, you have covered the gospel with a cloud. That Jesus Christ was made sin for us, so that we might be made the righteousness of God in him; that though he was just, he was treated as a sinner, and in our room and place and stead suffered the wrath of God due to us; this is the kernel and vital heart of the gospel. Conscience tells every man that God must punish sin; its voice, more or less loudly, always proclaims that sin must be punished. This is no arbitrary arrangement, it is inevitable; sin and suffering have a natural relationship. If God is just, sin must bring evil consequences upon the man who commits it, and until conscience understands that this evil was borne by Christ, that he suffered what ought to have been suffered by the sinner, and that he was justly a substitute because he was the head and Adam of those for whom he died — until, I say, the conscience knows this, it cannot find rest. Get under the blood red canopy, and then you are at peace, but not until then. Hence you find that whenever God revealed himself to his people, the most apparent thing was always the blood; Abel must bring a bleeding lamb, and Noah a slaughtered beast. When the King feasted with his chosen in Egypt, the blood adorned the lintel and the two side posts of every house where he revealed his saving power. When he marched through the wilderness, one of the coverings of his tabernacle was made of rams’ skins dyed red; and all within and around the holy courts themselves were perpetual sprinklings of blood, for almost all things were, under the law, purified by blood; the voice of the law always proclaiming what the gospel proclaims too, that “without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.” Our Saviour’s life must end in blood upon the tree; and before that closing scene, his last feast of love, his communion with his disciples had for its most conspicuous provision the cup of red wine in which his blood was symbolised. Every time he visibly typifies his communion with his people here below the wine must be poured out. God cannot and will not reveal himself to man except through the medium of the perfect satisfaction by the pouring out of the life of the Substitute in the place of the sinner.
11. “Its covering is of purple.” Oh, it is not for these lips to tell how precious that purple is; it is not possible even for this heart to know how precious the blood of the Son of God is, the vital blood which out of love for us he poured out freely for our redemption. Sit down at your ease, my brothers and sisters, in the chariot of salvation, rejoicing as you look upward, and let no doubts nor fears, mistrusts nor suspicions, vex you, for beneath the blood red canopy you are secure.
12. There is still one more step, — we rise from the blood to the love which caused it to flow, and we read about the royal chariot, — “Its interior was paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem”; not merely the bottom covered with it, but, as in a carriage, the whole vehicle lined with something soft to sit upon, and lean upon; so the whole covenant of grace is, within, garnished and beautified, and made delightful to the believer’s soul, by the sweet love of God in Christ. The covenant is love in its secret places, all love, unalloyed love, invisible love, nothing else but love. When one comes to know most of the covenant, and admires the wisdom, the power, the purity, the eternity of all that God has done, yet its most striking characteristic to the advanced Christian is the love, the mighty love of God, by which he is brought by Jesus Christ into eternal salvation. You have crowned me with lovingkindness; you have loved my soul out of the pit; you have loved me, and given yourself for me. Your love has redeemed me with a price most precious; your love has made me what I am; your love carries on the work, and your love will complete it, and present me to you in its own perfect image; for “its interior is paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem.”
13. The point we have proved is this, that everything in the study of the gospel grows upon you. I earnestly exhort you, therefore, to meditate much in the Scriptures, to consider much the person and character of your Lord, to meditate very often upon his beauties, and upon all the work which he has done on your behalf. Do not be satisfied with a superficial survey, as many Christians are. These are not the days of contemplation as the old Puritan times were, we are too apt to be superficial; but do remember that while there are nuggets of gold upon the very surface of Scripture, yet the most valuable mines of gold are far down, and you must dig into them. Pray God that you may be well taught in the things of Christ. There are some sciences in which you can master all that is worth knowing in a short time, and the further you go into the study the more you perceive that nothing is very certain, and you soon get weary of it; but the science of Christ crucified grows upon you; you become more assured of its facts, and more intensely delighted in them. I exhort you, therefore, to sit constantly at the Master’s feet with Mary, and I pray that each one of us may know, by following on to know the Lord, what are “the heights and depths, and to know the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge.”
14. II. We shall now NOTICE THE POSITION FROM WHICH THE LOVE MENTIONED IN OUR TEXT IS BEST SEEN. “Its interior is paved with love.”
15. It is not, therefore, to be seen from the outside. The mere outsider understands nothing about the love of God for his people as displayed in the covenant of grace. I am certain that there are many of you here present who have heard the gospel for years, and yet no more know its sweetness than the floor I am standing upon. A man may pass the door of the London Tavern or the Mansion House for years, and yet have no notion of the banquets within, for these are indoors, and you must enter to partake of them. Savory vapours floating from the festive table may awaken a transient imagination, but no more. The cock on the dunghill turned over the diamond, and, according to the fable, remarked that he cared very little for it, he would sooner have found a grain of barley: so, many hear about the sweetness of true religion, but they do not have the taste or the ability to perceive its sweetness. Oh, unregenerate hearer, you never will know how sweet the gospel is, it is impossible you should while you remain in the state you are now in; but I tell you, if you could get half a glimpse of the joy which even the poorest Christian has, you would never rest content until you enjoyed it too. If men have said concerning Naples, “See Naples and die,” because of its beauty, I might say to you, it would be worth while dying a thousand deaths to get a glimpse of Christ: when once your faith has perceived his beauty you will wonder how you could have been satisfied to be blinded so long. What must it be to be forgiven all your sins and to know it: what must it be never to be afraid of death, to be able to look forward to departing from this world as a thing to be longed for, and not to be dreaded: what must it be to be able to look up and say, “God is my Father, and I feel that I am his child”: what must be the joy and bliss of having intimate communion with God, so that you are called his friends, as Abraham was of old? I wish I could set your mouths watering after these things. If you had only a little taste of them you would long for more; but until the Lord shall grant you that taste, all we can say about the love of Christ will have no charm for you. The love which lines the chariot of salvation is not to be known by those who remain outside; “the secret of the Lord is with those who fear him, and he will show them his covenant.”
16. And so notice next, when the Christian himself stands apart from his Lord, and judges by outward appearances, he cannot perceive, as he once did, the lovingkindness of the Lord. Providence grows dark as a winter’s day. The tried believer cries, “My wife has been taken from me; my property is melting away, my business fades; I am sick in body and weary in soul; I cannot see a trace of the love of God for me in all this.” Brother, the description in the Song does not say that the chariot is plated with love on the outside, but it is paved with love within, “in its interior.” Oh that you had faith to believe that the heart and real core of every providence is love. Its exterior may be as a thorn hedge, but sweet fruit ripens within. “Oh,” you say, “but I have looked at the Bible recently, and as I have glanced over its once cheering promises they appear to smile at me no more. Some of the words grate very harshly on my ear, and almost condemn me.” I do not wonder, for although I can at this moment see love in the very outside of Scripture, yet there are times when I cannot, when I can only feel as if every text thundered at me, and out of God’s own mouth came heavy sentences against me. Beloved, it does not say, I repeat it, that the exterior part of this palanquin was adorned with self-apparent love, but that love was in its interior. If you stand examining the exterior of providence, and the mere letter of the word, and begin to judge and try your God, I should not wonder if little enough of love should be conspicuous to you. Look into the heart of God and read what he has written there. When faith takes a step upward, and mounts to the inside of the chariot of grace, she finds that it is paved with love for the daughters of Jerusalem.
17. Come and sit side by side with Jesus in his chariot of grace, his bed of rest. Come and recline with him in hallowed fellowship. There is room enough for you, and strength enough to bear your weight. Come now and be carried with him who carried all your cross. Sit down with him who on his hands, and on his side, bears the memorials of his dying love for you. What company you have, and what royal accommodation is provided for you! I think I sit in the chariot with the Beloved now, and I begin to look around me. I catch a glimpse of the purple above my head, and remember the unspeakable love which bled and died for sinners; I look at the silver pillars which support the covering, and how infinite holiness stands firm, and in love for me secures my perfection; I place my foot on the golden floor of the chariot, and know that divine power is pledged by love to preserve and bear me through; I see above me, and around me, and beneath me, nothing but love, — the free, unbounded love of God. Now, beloved, indulge yourselves with a glance around you for a minute. Look back to old eternity; let your eye peer through the mists which hide that ancient age before the ages began! What do you see there except love, “according to his eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus before the earth ever was?” Look a little closer; see the garden of Eden and the fall, — what strikes your eye there except love? The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head. Look to the cross, and at God incarnate here below; behold Jesus living in suffering, and dying in shame! Here love comes to her climax, and lays bare all her matchless charms. Look to the time of your own life. Was love not present at your birth, perfuming your first breath? Were you not nursed in love, cradled in love, and swaddled in love? Have you not since then, even in your sinfulness, been loved with an exceedingly great and wondrous love? Did love not turn your heart of stone into flesh? Has love not dwelt in you since then even to this day? Have not even your trials been sent in love? Blind unbelief called it severity; look now, as Jesus sits at your side, and say, was it not the wisest form of love that struck you, and made you cry out in bitterness? Oh, I do remember at this day nothing in the dealings of God towards me except love. I sat down last night, as this text charmed my spirit, and tried to think over my whole life, if perhaps I might light upon some unkindness of my God towards me; but my solemn witness is that from the first day my heart began to beat, from the first hour I knew anything about the Lord whatever, all his dealings have been love, love, love, love, love, love alone — nothing else but love. Concerning my life I can and must say, “its interior has been paved with love.”
18. Look at the mosaic floor of love beneath your feet for a moment. Do you not see the Father’s love — that golden mass of uncreated love, for the Father himself loves you: look at Jesus’ love, another diamond floor beneath your foot: Jesus loved you to the death with a love that many waters could not quench, nor floods drown: look at the love of the Spirit, too: equally precious is the tender affection of the loving Comforter. Think how the Holy Spirit has borne with you, has striven with you, and endured your bad manners in the wilderness, and still blessed you. Look at those delightful embroideries from the divine needle — the precious promises. There are a thousand promises but they are all love. Look down and see how all the attributes of God are engaged for you, but they are all in league with love. Look, then, at all the providences of God towards you, at all the exercises of his grace in your heart, and you will see many and strange colours of varied beauty, all blending in one wondrous pattern of deep, unsearchable love. I cannot talk this morning, my tongue fails me, but I feel the love of Jesus in my own soul, and I pray that you may feel it in yours. Be assured of this one thing, that as it was in the beginning, it is now, and ever shall be, love, love, love, right on, for ever and ever. The Lord who has begun to love you will never cease from doing so. The interior of the covenant of grace is paved with love for the daughters of Jerusalem.
19. III. I need you to notice THE PARTICULAR POSITION OF THE FLOOR OF LOVE DESCRIBED IN THE TEXT. It is “in the interior” of the chariot, and only from the interior is it to be seen. It is in its interior; and therefore Jesus rides upon it, and his espoused ones ride upon it.
20. It is a very simple thought, but it richly deserves to be beaten out a little. Jesus is represented here as the King in the chariot, and since the chariot is lined with love, we are taught that Jesus dwells in love. Where is he now? Among the thrones and principalities above, but he still abides in love. Love brought him down from heaven to earth, love conducted him in all his weary journeys over the land of Palestine: love led him to the garden, the death sweat, and the cross; and equally at this hour love attends him: he loves in heaven as he loved below. Whatever he is doing, whatever he is feeling, whatever he is saying, we know this one thing about him, he dwells in love towards us. He is in his chariot, and all around him in that chariot is love.
21. The chariot was a royal one, and as the king rode along he was reigning, but he was reigning in love, and it is so with Jesus. All things are in his hands, and he governs all things in love for his people. Heavenly principalities serve him, and angels are his willing messengers; but there is no power which Jesus has, which he does not wield in love for us. Has his power seemed sometimes to be exercised harshly? It is not so: it cannot be so. He reigns in love. Our Joseph is lord over all Egypt, and since Joseph loves his brothers, the good of all the land of Egypt is theirs. Jesus rules all the world for his people’s benefit; all things are theirs, whether things present or things to come, all are theirs. Jesus reigns in love.
22. And Jesus rests in love. This chariot was a place for the traveller to rest in; he reclined as he was carried along. Nothing gives Jesus such rest as his love for his people. It is his solace and his joy. It is almost inconceivable by us that Jesus should derive joy from the fact that he loves us, but he does. That text in Zephaniah which we read on Monday evening comes again to our memory, — “He will rest in his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” It is a joy for Christ to love his people. His own heart finds a joy in their joy, a heaven in their heaven. To see them saved is bliss for him. Oh, how glad we ought to be about this. Jesus rests in love.
23. But as the traveller rested he also proceeded on his way; the bearers carried the palanquin from place to place, and the traveller made progress, but always with the same surroundings within his curtained bed. So Jesus in all his glorious marchings, in everything he does or is to do, still marches on in love. Read the book of Revelation, and think of the trumpets, and the falling stars, and the opened vials full of judgments, and you may well tremble; but then fall back upon the doctrine of the Scriptures, and say, “These are the goings forth of my Lord the King, but he always rides in a chariot which is paved with love for the daughters of Jerusalem.” So let him come: with earthquake and with flame, if he so chooses, let him come; let him even release destroying angels to strike the earth; and let the whole world before his coming rock and reel, and all men’s hopes depart like visions of the night, I will not fear, for I am sure that he cannot come except in love to me. No judgment can bear wrath for his people, no overturning can overturn their hopes, no rod of iron can shatter their bliss. This is surely a thought which should make your spirit glad.
24. Now notice that just as Jesus rides in this chariot, so do you, oh believer, and at this moment your standing is upon love. You stand up in this palanquin upon love. You are accepted in the Beloved: you are not judged according to the law, but you are judged according to grace: you are not examined at the judgment seat by what you have done, but according to his abounding mercy. Recline this morning in the love of God. Ah, take your rest in it. Just as the rich man tries to find solace in his riches, and the strong man in his strength, and the great man in his fame, so stretch yourselves and lie at ease upon this glorious bed of almighty love.
25. And, beloved, take care that when you labour to make progress, you still make it in the power and energy of his love. Do not strive after virtue and grace by the law, for you will never get them. The chariot in which you rest is also the chariot in which you are to be carried forward towards perfection. Grow in grace, but keep near to the cross. Still cling to the love of God in Christ Jesus, for that always keeps you safe. You sleep in it; you wake up in it; you eat and you drink in it. Wherever you are, love surrounds you. It is in the atmosphere you breathe; it is to be found in every place, wherever you roam. You are never out of the love which is in the interior of the chariot.
26. These are things not to be talked of so much as to be thought over. Carry them home, and if you have leisure this afternoon, try to see, learn, and inwardly digest this precious truth, — “Its interior is paved with love for the daughters of Jerusalem.”
27. IV. To close, DWELL ON THAT LOVE itself just for a moment.
28. Remember it is special love. It is not love for all men. There is some consolation in universal benevolence, but here we go deeper, and rejoice in love for the daughters of Jerusalem. There is an electing, discriminating, distinguishing love, which is settled upon a chosen people, — a love which goes out to no one else besides, but only to them; and it is this love which is the true resting place of the saint.
29. It is love undeserved, for what daughter of Jerusalem ever deserved that our glorious King should fall in love with her? It is a love, therefore, which is a theme for eternal wonder. Why did you love me, Redeemer? Why did you make a covenant of grace with me, and line that covenant with immutable love?
30. This love is everlasting and eternal. It never had a beginning, it never will have an end. Simply as I have stated the truth, it is a nut with heaven for its kernel. You were always loved, oh believer, and you always shall be, come what may.
31. It is love unrivalled, for never was there such affection as what Christ has for his chosen; unparalleled love, to which none of us shall ever reach. We should seek to love as God has loved us, but we shall never arrive to the infinite, the boundless degree of love. There is no love like the love of God in Christ. It is love which to us has become today our brightest thought, our truest comfort, and our most potent incentive. Law rules the slaves of this world, but love rules the freemen of the world to come. The ungodly, if they do right after a fashion, do it out of fear of punishment or hope for reward; but the true born children of God find in the love of Christ their sole motive: they are obedient not because they are afraid of being lost — they know they never shall be: not because they hope to get to heaven by their good works — they have heaven already by the works of another, guaranteed to them by the promise of God: but they serve God out of pure gratitude for what they have received, rejoicing as they work in the service of the one they love so well.
Beloved, may the love of God be shed abroad in your hearts by the
Holy Spirit this morning, and all the days of your lives, and oh that
many who have never tasted that love may be made to long for it, so
that they may be made alive by it, and to God shall be glory. Amen
[Portions Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — So 3 1Jo 5]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, His Praise — ‘Altogether Lovely’ ” 421]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus — Love The Source Of Love” 816]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Courage and Confidence — My Heart Is Fixed” 684]
[a] Palanquin: A covered litter or conveyance, usually for one person, used in India and other Eastern countries, consisting of a large box with wooden shutters like Venetian blinds, carried by four or six (rarely two) men by means of poles projecting before and behind. OED.
Jesus Christ, His Praise
421 — “Altogether Lovely”
1 To Christ the Lord let every tongue
Its noblest tribute bring:
When he’s the subject of the song,
Who can refuse to sing?
2 Survey the beauties of his face,
And on his glories dwell;
Think of the wonders of his grace,
And all his triumphs tell.
3 Majestic sweetness sits enthroned
Upon his awful brow;
His head with radiant glories crown’d,
His lips with grace o’erflow.
4 No mortal can with him compare,
Among the sons of men;
Fairer he is than all the fair
That fill the heavenly train.
5 He saw me plunged in deep distress,
He flew to my relief:
For me he bore the shameful cross,
And carried all my grief.
6 To heaven, the place of his abode,
He brings my weary feet:
Shows me the glories of my God,
And makes my joys complete.
Samuel Stennett, 1787.
The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus
816 — Love The Source Of Love
1 What wondrous cause could move thy heart
To take on thee my curse and smart?
When thou foreknewest I should be
So cold and negligent to thee?
2 The cause was love, I sink with shame
Before my sacred Jesus’ name,
That thou shouldest bleed and slaughter’d be,
Because, because thou lovedst me.
3 Thou lovedst me, oh boundless grace!
Who can such wondrous mercy trace?
I, who unfaithful, foolish am,
Yet find thee still a patient lamb.
Clare Taylor, 1742.
The Christian, Courage and Confidence
684 — My Heart Is Fixed
1 Now I have found the ground, wherein
Sure my soul’s anchor may remain:
Before the world’s foundation slain;
Whose mercy shall unshaken stay,
When heaven and earth are fled away.
2 Oh love! thou bottomless abyss!
My sins are swallow’d up in thee;
Cover’d is my unrighteousness,
Nor spot of guilt remains on me.
While Jesus’ blood, through earth and skies,
Mercy, free, boundless mercy cries!
3 With faith I plunge me in this sea;
Here is my hope, my joy, my rest!
Hither, when hell assails, I flee,
I look into my Saviour’s breast;
Away, sad doubt, and anxious fear!
Mercy, is all that’s written there.
4 Though waves and storms go o’er my head
Though strength, and health, and friends be gone,
Though joys be wither’d all, and dead,
Though every comfort be withdrawn;
On this my steadfast soul relies,
Father, thy mercy never dies.
5 Fix’d on this ground will I remain,
Though my heart hail, and flesh decay;
This anchor shall my soul sustain,
When earth’s foundations melt away;
Mercy’s full power I then shall prove,
Loved with an everlasting love.
John Andrew Rothe, 1728.
tr. by John Wesley, 1740.