A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, June 20, 1869, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
Who is this who comes up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? (Song of Solomon 8:5)
1. Careful readers will have noticed that in the verses which precede my text, the spouse had been particularly anxious that her communion with her Lord might not be disturbed. Her language is intensely earnest, “I charge you, oh daughters of Jerusalem, that you do not stir up, nor awaken my love, until he pleases.” She much valued the fellowship with which her beloved solaced her; she was jealously alarmed lest she should endanger the continuance of it; lest any sin on her part or on the part of her companions should cause the beloved to withdraw himself in anger. Now it is a very striking fact that immediately after we read a verse so full of solicitous care concerning the maintenance of communion, we immediately find upon another verse in which the upward progress of that very same spouse is the theme of admiration; she who would not have her beloved disturbed is the very same bride who comes up from the wilderness, leaning upon him herself; from which it is clear that there is a most intimate connection between communion with Christ and progress in grace, and therefore the more careful we are to maintain fellowship with our Lord, the more successful shall we be in going from strength to strength in all those holy graces which are landmarks on the road to glory. The wellhead and fountain of growth in grace is well sustained communion and revealed oneness with Christ; we may strive after moral virtue if we wish, but we shall be like those foolish children who pick flowers and plant them in their little gardens without roots; but if we strive after increasing faith in Jesus, we shall be like wise men, who plant choice bulbs and living seeds, from which shall in due time spring the golden cups or the azure bells of lovely flowers, emblems of things that are lovely and of good repute. To live near to Christ is the one needful thing; to keep up that nearness, and never to allow our fellowship to be interrupted, should be our one great business here below; and all other things, this being sought after in the first place, will be added to us. We shall come up from the wilderness, when we are anxious that our Beloved’s fellowship with us shall not be disturbed.
2. That preface strikes the keynote of this morning’s discourse. Our real theme, whatever the form our meditation shall take, will be communion with Christ as the source of spiritual progress.
3. I. We shall, without further prefatory remarks, come at once to the consideration of the text, and we shall notice THE HEAVENLY PILGRIM AND HER DEAR COMPANION. “Who is this who comes up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?”
4. Every soul that journeys towards heaven has Christ for its companion. Jesus allows no pilgrim to the New Jerusalem to travel unattended. He is with us in sympathy. He has trodden every step of the way before us; whatever our temptations, he has been so tempted; whatever our afflictions, he has been so afflicted. He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, having been tempted in all points like we are. Nor is Jesus near to us in sympathy alone, he is with us to render practical assistance. When we least perceive him, he is often closest to us. When the howling tempest drowns his voice, and the darkness of the night hides his person, he is still there and we need not be afraid. It is no fiction, no dream, no piece of imagination that Christ is really with his people. “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world,” is true of all his saints; and, “Do not fear; for I am with you: do not be dismayed; for I am your God,” is no meaningless assertion, but to be understood as a certain verity and a practical truth. In every step of this pilgrimage, from the wicket gate of repentance up to the pearly gate which admits the perfect into paradise, Jesus Christ in sympathy of heart, and in actual presence of help, is very near to his people. May this be the pilgrim’s encouragement this morning. Dear friends, who among us would not undertake a journey in such company? If he were here today, and said, “My child, I call you to go on a pilgrimage,” perhaps you would recoil with dark forebodings of the way; but if he added, “But; I will be with you wherever you go,” each one of you would reply, “Through floods, or flames, if you lead, we will follow you where you go. Lead the vanguard, oh Crucified, and we will follow you. Only let us see your footprints in the road, and whether the path winds up the hill of difficulty, or descends into the valley of humiliation, it shall be the best road that ever mortal footsteps trod if it is only marked with the tokens of your most blessed presence.” Courage, then, you wayfarers who traverse the vale of tears; you come up from the wilderness in dear company, for one like the Son of God is at your side.
Note the title that is given to the companion of the spouse. “Her
beloved” Indeed, he of whom the song here speaks is beloved above
all others. He was the Beloved by his Father even before the earth
was; he was declared to be the Lord’s Beloved, in the waters of
Jordan, and at other times, when out of the excellent glory there
came the voice, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
Beloved by his Father now, our Jesus sits for ever glorious at God’s
right hand. Jesus is the Beloved of every angel, and of all the
bright seraphic spirits that crowd around the throne of his august
majesty, casting their crowns before his feet, and lifting up their
ceaseless hymns. They are not merely servants who obey because they
must, but reverent admirers who serve because they love. He is the
Beloved of every being of pure heart and holy mind. The triumphant
hosts who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of
the Lamb, sing that word “Beloved” with an emphasis which our colder
hearts as yet have failed to reach, but still he is Beloved by the
militant band on this side of the Jordan. Yes, Lord, with all that we
have to confess of hardness and indifference, we do love you, and you
Would not our heart pour forth its blood,
In honour of thy name,
And challenge the cold hand of death
To quench the immortal flame?
The adamant is softer than our hearts by nature, and yet the love we
bear you, oh divine Redeemer, stimulated by the love which you have
revealed to us, has made our soul to melt in your presence.
Yes, we love thee, and adore;
Oh for grace to love thee more.
6. Notice well that the sweetest word of the name is, “leaning on her beloved.” That Jesus is beloved is most true, but is he my beloved? Ah, if this is true, there is a heaven wrapped up in it. You who are listening to the word this morning, is Jesus your beloved? Do you love him? Can you reach out the finger of your timid faith and touch the hem of his garment, and receive the power which goes out from him? Do you dare to say, “He is all my salvation and all my desire. I have no other refuge, my soul depends in her utter helplessness entirely upon him?” Then he is your beloved; and the more you can foster the well grounded belief that Jesus is yours, the more you can roll that truth under your tongue as a sweet morsel, the happier and holier you will be. Realise the fact that Jesus is as actually and truly yours as your husband, your wife, your child, your mother, or your own self, then peace and love will reign within your spirit. The spouse could not have leaned on Jesus as the Beloved, she could only find rest in him as her Beloved. Until you have a sense of his being yours you do not dare to lean, but when you come to know that Christ is yours by an act of appropriating faith, then comes the later result of faith in the consecrated repose which the soul feels in the power and love of him upon whom she relies.
7. Thus, oh pilgrim to the skies, you are reminded that you have with you a companion whose name to you is “my Beloved.” Pause awhile and look around you! Do you not see him? Can you not perceive the signs of his presence? Then rejoice that you are found in such company, and take care to enjoy the honours and privileges which such companionship secures for you.
8. II. We now pass on to something deeper. We have said that the pilgrim has a dear companion, but that much of the blessedness of the text lies in HER POSTURE TOWARDS HIM.
9. “Who is this who comes up from the wilderness leaning upon her beloved?” Her posture then is that of “leaning.” His relationship to her is that of a divine supporter. What does this leaning mean?
10. Why, first of all, there can be no leaning on another unless we believe in that other person’s presence and nearness. A man does not lean on a staff which is not in his hand, nor on a friend of whose presence he is not aware. The instincts which lead us to preserve our uprightness would not permit us to lean on a shadow or on a nothing. It behoves you then, Christian, if you would to be like this wondrous woman in the text, to try to be conscious of the presence of Christ. It is true your senses cannot perceive him, but your senses are less to be relied on than your faith, for senses may be mistaken, but the faith of God’s elect does not error. God makes what faith depends upon to be more real than anything which the senses can perceive. Christ Jesus is with you; though you do not hear his voice, and do not see his face, he is with you. Try to grasp that truth, and to realise it clearly, for you will never lean until you do.
11. Leaning also implies nearness. We cannot lean on what is far off and unapproachable. Now, it is a delightful help to us in believing repose if we can understand that Christ is not only with us, but to an intense degree near us. I love that hymn we sang just now concerning our Lord’s coming near to us, and making his name a common word among us. (See Spurgeon_Hymnal No. 784 “The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus—Condescending Love” 784) The Christ of a great many professors is only fit to occupy a niche on the church wall, as a dead, inactive, but revered person. Jesus is not a real Christ to many, he is not a Christ who can really befriend them in the hour of grief; not a brother born for adversity, not a condescending companion. But the Christ of the well-taught Christian, is one who lives and was dead and is alive for ever more, a sympathising, practical friend, who is actually near, entering into our sorrows, sharing in our crosses, and taking a part with us in all the battle of life. Come, child of God, see that it is so with you. Realise Christ first, and then believe that he is nearer to you than a friend or relative can be, for he pours his counsels right into your heart; being so near that at times when your secret trouble cannot be shared by any mortal, it is shared by him; so near that when your heart’s innermost recesses must necessarily be locked up to all other sympathy, those recesses are all open to his tenderness; so near to you that you live in him, and he remains in you, and you remain in him. A sacred unity exists between you and him, so that you drink from his cup, and are baptised with his baptism, and in all your sorrows and your afflictions he himself does take his share.
12. After these two things are attended to, leaning now becomes easy. To lean implies the throwing of one’s weight from one’s self on to another, and this is the Christian’s life. The first act that made him a Christian at all, happened when the whole weight of his sin was laid on Christ. When by faith the sinner ceased to carry his own burden, but laid that burden on the great Substitute’s shoulder, it was that leaning which made him a Christian. In proportion as he learns this lesson of casting all his burden upon his Lord, he will be more and more a Christian; and when he shall have completely unloaded himself, and cast all his matters upon his God, and shall live in the power and strength of God, and not in his own, then he shall have attained to the fulness of the stature of a perfect man in Christ Jesus. To lean, I say, is to throw your weight off from yourself on to another—being fatigued, to make another fatigued if he can be; being wearied, to make another take your weariness, and so yourself to proceed with your load transferred to a substitute. Yes, I repeat it, this is the true Christian life—to leave everything that troubles me with him who loves me better than I love myself; to leave all that depresses me with him whose wisdom and whose power are more than a match for all emergencies. Herein is wisdom, never to try to stand alone by my own strength, never to trust in creatures, for they will fail me if I rest upon them, but to make my ever blessed Lord Christ, in his manhood and in his Godhead, the leaning place of my whole soul, casting every burden upon him who is able to bear it. This is what I think is meant in the text by leaning.
13. One would imagine that there must have been in recent years a society for the improvement of texts of Scripture; and if so I cannot congratulate that honourable company upon its success. This text has been a favourite object of the society’s care, for I think I never heard it quoted correctly in my life. It is generally quoted, “Who is this who comes up from the wilderness, leaning upon the arm of her beloved?” But it is not so in the text at all. There is no distinct reference to an arm at all. There is an arm here undoubtedly, but there is a great deal more—there is a whole person; and the text speaks of leaning upon the whole person of “her beloved.” Observe, then, that the Christian leans upon Christ in his personality and completeness; not merely upon the arm of his strength, as that altered text would have it, but upon the whole Christ. The leaning place of a Christian is, first of all, Christ’s person. We depend upon the Lord Jesus as God and as man. As God, he must be able to perform every promise, and to achieve every covenant engagement. We lean upon that divinity which bears up the pillars of the universe. Our dependence is upon the Almighty God, incarnate in human form, by whom all things were created, and by whom all things consist. We lean also upon Christ as man; we depend upon his generous human sympathies. Born of a woman, he is partaker of our flesh; he enters into our sicknesses and infirmities with a sympathetic compassion, which he could not have felt if he had not been the Son of man. We depend upon the love of his humanity as well as upon the potency of his deity. We lean upon our Beloved as God and man. Ah! I have known times when I have felt that no one except God could bear me up; there are other times when, under a sense of sin, I have recoiled from God, and felt that no one except the Man Christ Jesus could minister peace to my anguished heart. Taking Christ in the double nature as God and man, he becomes so suitable leaning place for our spirit, whatever may happen to be the state in which our mind is found. Beloved, we lean upon Christ himself in all his offices. We lean upon him as priest; we expect our offerings, and our praises, and our prayers to be received, because they are presented through him. Our learning for acceptance is on him. We lean upon him as our prophet. We do not profess to know or to be able to discover truth by ourselves, but we sit at his feet, and what he teaches we receive as certainty. We lean upon him as our King. He shall fight our battles for us, and manage all the affairs of our heavenly citizenship. We have no hope of victory but in the strength of him who is the Son of David and the King of kings. We lean upon Christ in all his attributes. Sometimes it is his wisdom—in our dilemmas he directs us; at other times it is his faithfulness—in our strong temptations he remains the same. At one time his power shines out like a golden pillar, and we rest on it, and at another moment his tenderness becomes conspicuous, and we lean on that. There is not a trait of his character, there is not an attribute of his person, whether human or divine, that we do not feel it is safe to lean upon, because he is as a whole Christ, perfection’s own self, lovely and excellent beyond all description. We lean our entire weight upon HIM, not on his arm; not on any part of his person, but we depend entirely upon him.
14. Beloved, there is no part of the pilgrimage of a saint in which he can afford to walk in any other way except in the way of leaning. He comes up at the first, and he comes up at the last, still leaning, still leaning upon Christ Jesus; indeed, and leaning more and more heavily upon Christ the older he grows. The stronger the believer becomes, the more conscious he is of his personal weakness; and, therefore, the more fully does he cast himself upon his Lord and lean with greater force on him. Beloved, it is a blessed thing to remain in this posture in all we do. Oh, it is good preaching when you lean on the Beloved as you preach and feel, “He will help me, he will give me thoughts and words, he will bless the message, he will fill the hungry with good things, and make the Sabbath to be a delight to his people.” Oh, it is blessed praying when you can lean on the Beloved; you feel then that you cannot be denied; you have come into the King’s court, and brought your Advocate with you, and you lay your prayer at the foot of the throne, the Prince himself putting his own sign-manual (a) and seal and stamp of love upon your desires. This is the sweet way to endure and suffer with contentment. Who would not suffer when Jesus makes the bed of our sickness, and supports us and gives us tokens of his love? This is the divine method of working. Believe me, no sacred work can be continued with energy for long except in this spirit, for flesh flags, and even the spirit languishes unless there is a constant leaning upon the Beloved. As for you, men of business, you with your families and with your shops, and with your fields, and your enterprises, you will find it poor living unless you always lean on your Beloved in all things. If you can bring your daily cares, your domestic troubles, your family sicknesses, your personal infirmities, your losses and your crosses, if you can bring all things to Jesus, it will be easy and happy living. Even the furnace itself, when the coals glow most, is cool and comforting as a royal hall spread for banqueting with the king, when the soul reclines on the bosom of divine love. Oh you saints, strive after more of this. We are such lovers of caring for ourselves, we so want to depend upon ourselves; we pine to run alone while our legs are too weak; we aspire to stand alone when the only result can be a fall. Oh, to give up this wilfulness which is our weakness, and like a babe to lie in the mother’s bosom, conscious that our strength is not in ourselves, but in that dear bosom which bears us up!
15. I would gladly encourage the heir of heaven, who is in trouble, to lean. I can encourage you from experience. The Lord has laid on me many burdens in connection with much serving in his church, and I sometimes grow very weary; but whenever I bring myself, or rather the Holy Spirit brings me to this state, that I am certain that I cannot do anything by myself, and, do not mean to try, but will just be God’s obedient servant and ready instrument, and will leave every care with him, it is then that peace returns, thought becomes free and vigorous, and the soul once more having cast aside its burden, runs without weariness and walks without fainting. I am sure, my dear fellow servants, life will break you down, this London life especially, unless you learn the habit of leaning on Jesus. Do not be afraid to lean too much. There was never yet a saint blamed for possessing too much faith; there was never such a thing known as a child of God who was scolded by the Divine Father for having placed too implicit a reliance upon his promise. The Lord has said, “As your day so your strength shall be.” He has promised, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” He has told you that the birds of the air neither sow nor reap, nor gather into barns, and yet are fed. He has assured you that the lilies of the field do not toil, neither do they spin, and yet your heavenly Father makes them more beautiful than Solomon in all his glory. Why do you not cast your care on him who cares for ravens and for flowers of the field? Why are you not assured that he will also care for you?
16. So much about the leaning. “Who is this who comes up from the wilderness leaning upon her beloved?”
17. III. Our third point shall be, HER REASONS FOR LEANING LIKE THIS.
18. She was a pilgrim, and she leaned on her beloved; was she justified in such leaning? for every confidence is not wise. There are refuges of lies and helpers of no value. Ahithophels are a numerous clan. He who eats bread with us lifts up his heel against us. Friends who seemed to be strong and faithful, turn out to be as broken reeds, or as sharp spears to pierce us to our injury. Did she do well, then, in leaning on her beloved? What were her reasons? She did well, and some of her reasons were as follows. She leaned on her beloved because she was weak. Strength will not lean, conscious strength scorns dependence. My soul, do you know anything about your weakness? It is a sorrowful lesson to learn; but oh! it is a blessed and profitable lesson, which not only must be learned, but which it would be well for you to pray to learn more and more, for there is no leaning upon Christ except in proportion as you feel you must. I do believe that as long as we have a grain of self-sufficiency, we never trust in the All Sufficient. While there is anything of self left we prefer to feed on it, and only when at last the mouldy bread becomes too sour for eating, and even the husks that the swine do eat are such as cannot fill our belly, it is only then that we humbly ask for the bread of heaven to satisfy us. My soul, learn to hate every thought of self-sufficiency. Brethren, do you not find yourselves tempted at times, especially if you have had a happy week, and have been free from trials, to think, “Now, really I am better than a great many. I think I am now growing to be an old experienced saint. I have now escaped the power of ordinary temptations, and have become so advanced in grace that there is no likelihood of my sinning in those directions where new converts show their weakness?” There is your weak point, brother. Set a double guard where you think you are strongest. Just when you are most afraid, and say to yourself, “Oh that I might be kept from such a sin—I know that is my besetting sin, and I am afraid I shall be led into it,” you are less likely to sin there than anywhere. Your weakness is your strength, your strength is your weakness. Be nothing, for only by this can you be anything. Be poor in spirit, for only by this can you be rich towards God. The spouse leaned because she was weak. Brother, sister, is this not a good argument for you? for me? are we not also weak? Come then, let us lean wholly upon him who is not weak, but to whom all power belongs to bear all his people safely through.
19. She leaned, again, on her beloved, because the way was long. She had been going through the wilderness. It was a long journey, and she began to flag, and therefore she leaned; and the way is long with us, some of us have been converted to God now these twenty years, others these forty, and there are some in this house who have known the Lord more than sixty years, and this is a long time in which to be tempted and tried, for sin is mighty and flesh is weak. If one good spurt would win the race, most of us would strain every sinew; but to tug on at the weary oar year after year when the novelty has gone, and when there comes besides another kind of novelty, fresh temptations, new allurements which we did not know of before; oh soul, to win the crown by pressing on, and on, and on, until we hear the Master’s plaudit, this is not easy work. If we can lean, we shall hold on, and not in any other way. Faith, casting herself upon the power of her Lord, never grows exhausted. She is like the eagle when it renews its youth. She drinks from the fountain head of all vitality, and her lost vigour comes back to her; such a soul would always be strong even though she had to live the life of a Methuselah; myriads of years would not exhaust her, for she has learned to cast what exhausts her upon him who is inexhaustible, and therefore keeps on the even tenor of her way. She leaned because the road was long. Aged friends, here is a good argument for you; and young men and maidens, who have recently set out on the pilgrimage, since the way may be long for you, here also is good reason for your leaning at the beginning, and leaning on to the end.
20. She leaned again, because the road was perilous. Did you notice, she came up from the wilderness! The wilderness is not at all a safe place for a pilgrim. Here the lion prowls, and the howl of the wolf is heard, but she leaned on her beloved, and she was safe. If the sheep fears the wolf, he had better keep close to the shepherd, for then the shepherd’s rod and staff will drive the wolf away. There is no safety for us except in close communion with Christ. Every step you get away from Jesus your danger doubles; and when you have lost the sense of his sacred presence, your peril is at the maximum. Come back, come back, you wanderer, and get close to your Great Helper, and then you may laugh to scorn the fiends of hell, the temptations of life, and even the pangs of death—for he is blessedly safe who leans entirely on Christ. The careful are not safe, the fretful are not safe, the anxious are not safe; they are tossed to and fro in a frail bark, upon a sea whose waves are too strong for them; but those who leave their cares to the great caring One, those who cast their anxieties upon him who never forgets, these are always safe. “Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you shall dwell in the land, and truly you shall be fed.” “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.” There may come a famine, notwithstanding all your industry; you may rise up weary and stay up late, and eat the bread of carefulness, and yet have no prosperity; you may keep the city, and the watchman may pass along the walls each hour of the night, and yet it may be taken by assault; but blessed is he who trusts in the Lord, for neither shall his city be destroyed, nor shall famine come to his land; or, if it is so, in famine he shall be fed, and in the days of peril the angels shall keep watch and guard all around him. Lean, then, upon the Beloved, because the way is perilous. This is good reasoning for all of us, for we are in danger; tempted on all sides—liable to sin for a thousand reasons. Oh my brethren, in this age of temptation, lean on the Beloved, it is your only safety.
21. Again, she leaned on the beloved because her route was ascending. Did you notice it? “Coming up.” The Christian’s way is up—never content with past attainments, but up; not satisfied with graces to which he has reached, but up. He is not good who does not desire to be better; he is not gracious who would not be more gracious. You do not know the light if you do not desire more light. The heavenly way is upward, upward, upward, upward! This is the way to heaven. The tendency of man’s nature is downward. How soon we descend, and how prone is our soul, from her most elevated condition to sink back into the dull dead level of her natural estate! If we are to go up, we must lean. Christ is higher than we are; if we lean, we shall rise the more readily to his elevation. He comes down to us so that we, leaning upon him, may go up to him. The more we lean, the more truly we cast the weight of our spiritual wrestling, spiritual struggling, spiritual growth, upon him, the more surely shall we gain the wrestling, the struggling, and the growth. Depend as much for growth in grace upon Christ as for the pardon of sin. To you he is made by God sanctification as well as redemption. Look for sanctification through the blood, for it is a purifier as well as a pardoner. The same blood which puts away the guilt of sin is by the Holy Spirit applied as a blood of sprinkling to put away from us the reigning power of sin. Oh that we knew more about this, this going up! But I am afraid we do not go up because we do not lean. If there is here this morning a poor child of God who cries, “I am the chief of sinners, and my only hope is in my blessed Lord; I do not feel that I grow in the least. I sometimes think I get worse and worse; but one thing I do know, I trust him more than I ever did, and feel my need of him more.” Dear heart, you are the very one who is going up. I know you are, for you are leaning. But if there is another who boasts, “I believe I have made distinct advances in the divine life, and I feel that I am growing strong and vigorous, and I believe that one of these days I shall have reached to perfection,” I think it is very likely that this brother is going down; at any rate, I would recommend to him this prayer: “Hold me up, and I shall be safe”; and this caution, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he falls.”
22. Yet I must detain you another moment, to observe that the spouse leaned on her beloved because her walk was daily separating her more and more from the whole host of her other companions. The church is in the wilderness, but this traveller was coming up from the wilderness. She was getting away from the troop marching through the desert, getting more and more alone. It is so, and you will find it so; the nearer you get to Christ, the more lonely you must necessarily be in certain respects. The sinner is in the broad way, where thousands walk, the Christian is in the narrow way—there are fewer in this path; but if the believer keeps to the centre of the narrow way, and if he presses on with vigour, he will find his companions to be fewer and fewer; I mean the companions of his own stature, those of his own size and his own attainments; and if he continues in rapid advances, he will at last get to such a position that he will see no man except Jesus only, and then he will be sure to lean more heavily than ever, since he will have discovered that all men are vanity, and all confidences in an arm of flesh are only lies and deceit.
23. The spouse leaned upon her beloved because she felt sure that he was strong enough to bear her weight. He upon whom she leaned was none other than God over all blessed for ever, who cannot fail, nor be discouraged. She leaned yet again, because he was her beloved. She would have felt it to be unwise to lean if he were not mighty; she would have been afraid to lean if he had not been dear to her. So it is, the more you love the more you trust, and the more you trust the more you love. These twin graces of faith and hope live and flourish together. In proportion as that dear crucified Saviour reigns in your soul, and his beauties ravish your heart, in that proportion you feel that all is safe because it is in his hands; and then, on the other hand, in proportion as you trust everything to him, and do not have a suspicion or a doubt, in that proportion your soul will be knit to him in affection.
24. I appeal to any here who are the servants of Christ, but have fallen out of the habit of leaning, whether it would not be well to return to it! Was it not better with you when you did lean than it is now? Before you depended upon yourselves, were you not happier and better than now? Before you let that wicked pride of yours get the upper hand, you were accustomed to take every daily trouble and burden to your Lord, but at last you thought you were wise enough to manage for yourselves; I ask you, have you not from that very day encountered many sorrows and defeats and down castings? And there is this pang about all untrustful living, if a man gets into any troubles, through his own wisdom, then he has to blame himself for it; but if any trial comes upon us directly from God, then we feel we cannot blame ourselves, it belongs to our God to do as he wishes; and since he cannot err, we expect that he will justify his own proceedings. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man; it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes. Wait only upon God, and let your expectations be from him, and he shall bring out your judgment as the light, and your righteousness as the noonday; and in the day when the wicked shall be confounded, and those who trusted in themselves shall be melted away as the fat of rams, you shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of your Father.
25. IV. And now let us close. The last point is this—THE PERSON AND THE PEDIGREE of the one who leaned upon her beloved.
26. The text says, “Who is this?” What made them enquire, “Who is this?” It was because they were so astonished to see her looking so happy and so refreshed. Nothing amazes worldlings more than genuine Christian joy. Holy peace in disturbing times is a puzzle to the ungodly. When they hear the righteous sing, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble; therefore we will not fear though the earth is removed, and though the mountains are carried into the midst of the sea,” they say one to another, “Where did these men learn that tune? They are men of like passions with ourselves, how is it they have learned to bear trials like this?” Therefore they enquire, “Who is this? Who is this?” How fine a thing it would be if we all leaned upon Christ like this in all respects as to enjoy unbroken serenity, so that our relatives and neighbours should be led to enquire, “Who is this?” for then we might have an opportunity of telling them concerning our Well Beloved, who is the source of our peace and comfort.
27. Who then is this who leans on her beloved? I will tell you. Her name was once called “outcast,” whom no man seeks after, but according to this old book her name is now Hephzibah, for the Lord delights in her. The name of the soul that trusts in God and finds peace in so doing, was by nature a name of shame and sin. We were far off from God even as others; and if any soul is brought to trust in Christ, it is not from any natural goodness in it, or any innate propensity towards such trusting; it is because grace has worked a wondrous transformation, and God the Holy Spirit has made those who were not a people to be called the people of God. This is good news for any of you who feel your guilt this morning. Up until now you have been serving Satan, but mercy can still bring you to lean upon the Beloved; grace can bring you up from the wilderness instead of permitting you to go down into the pit. She who today joyously trusts in her God was once a weeping Hannah, a woman with a sorrowful spirit, but now her soul rejoices in the Lord, for he has remembered her low estate. She was once a sinful Rahab, living in a city doomed to destruction, but she has hung the scarlet line of faith in the precious blood in her window; and if all others perish, she shall be secure in the day of destruction. She who is spoken of here is a Ruth. She came from afar as an idolatress; she left the land of her nativity, and she has entered into union with the Lord and his people. Her cry is, “Where you live I will live. Your people shall be my people, your God shall be my God.” She was once a stranger, but she is now an Israelite indeed; she was once accursed, but she is now blessed; once foul, but now washed; once lost, but now found again. In a word, the soul that leans upon Christ habitually every day, and casts her care upon him, is one of a princely race; she has been begotten into the family of God; the imperial blood flows within her veins, and in the day when the crowns of princes and of emperors shall melt into the common dust to which they belong, the crown jewels and the diadems of these believing souls shall glitter with immortal splendour in the kingdom of God.
28. My dear hearer, do you trust Jesus? Does the Holy Spirit move you to begin to trust him today? If so, although your journey is in a wilderness of trouble, you shall come up out of it to a paradise of bliss, and your peace and your comfort shall all spring from leaning on the Well Beloved.
May the Lord bless us, and teach us that sacred art of dependence on
the Beloved for Christ’s sake. Amen.
[Portion of Scripture Read Before Sermon—Psalms 63 John 15:1-11]
(a) Sign-manual: An autograph signature (esp. that of the sovereign) serving to authenticate a document.