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former ages obtained a good report in the church of God for eminence in religion, were men whose affections kindled into ardour in the contemplation of the Divine character, and who, in their religious duties, breathed after God with intense desire. We see this exemplified in the exercises of David in the book of Psalms, and in the book of Solomon, from which our text is taken a book in which we observe the best affections of the soul brought into exercise, and in their exercise directed to Christ. And they who would exclude the affections from religion, must, consistently with their scheme, exclude this Song of the son of David (as some indeed do) from the canon of Scripture; for it breathes throughout the most ardent affection.
It begins with an abrupt expression of sanctified passion, if we may so speak, which, to the carnally-minded, will appear offensive, and to those ignorant of Scripture simplicity, will seem not sufficiently grave. The Church, which is here allegorically introduced as a single person under covenant engagements, and betrothed unto the Lord; the Church, full of holy desires for nearer communion, and heedless of the world's censure, cries, “Let him kiss me
with the kisses of his mouth!” Let him express his love to my soul by tokens of special unreserved grace!
Some cold formalist may tauntingly ask, why such passionate fervency ? why use language liable to the sneers of the profane, or the misconceptions of the enthusiastic ? Why? The believer will not answer such an inquirer, (for in this communion strangers cannot intermeddle;) but continuing to address the Saviour, tells the cause to Him-“for thy love is better than wine" to me more excellent, more exquisite, more to be desired, than all fruits of earthly pleasure, than all means and modes of sensual joy. The redeemed are the objects of a Saviour's ineffable complacence; and when he expresses a portion of that love to their souls, when he "kisses them with the kisses of his mouth,” when they have tasted that the Lord is gracious, they will not be reluctant to own to all the world, that his “ love is better than wine.” Compared with its effects, what are the joys of wine, the vain elations, the ungovernable fancies, the stupefaction, or the phrenzy which it occasions ?. Compared with the love of Christ, what are all earthly pleasures? they are shallow and circumscribed, short in du
ration, without depth of delight, or height of enjoyment, and, as carnally pursued by the sensual and unholy, are more connected with the fear of hell, than with the hope of heaven; and he who has enjoyed them most, is the most averse from heaven, and the least prepared for it. But the love of Christ refines and spiritualizes the objects of it, assures them of heaven, and prepares them for it; and in proportion as it is communicated, it inspires a sober, a certain, and a reasonable delight; a delight which rises at times to a joy unspeakable and full of glory! Consider one filled with a sense of the Saviour's love, and another filled with wine, wherein is excess, or transported with some short-lived earthly joy, and it will appear how much the love of Christ excels. Let me then, says the believer, enjoy the communion of this love; let me know more of its lengths, and breadths, and depths, and, heights; let the Saviour express it sensibly to my soul; and this experience will be to me far better than any, or than all the joys that spring from earth — These are high affections, it must be confessed, but O how unequal to the love which excites them?
The Saviour is not unbeloved of his peo
ple, for it is added, “ because of the savour of thy good ointments, thy name is as ointment poured forth : therefore do the virgins love thee.” There dwells in Christ, the anointed of the Father, an all-fulness of gifts and grace. The Spirit was poured out on him with an immeasurable effusion of gracious influence, which descends from the glorified Head, to the lowest part of his mystical body—the Church; and how precious and pleasant, to the senses of the inner man, is the perception of the grace of Christ! “ Ye have an unction from the Holy One.” “ The anointing which ye have received of him, abideth in you." And this oil makes the face to shine, and he who has received it, may
“Thou anointest mine head with the oil of joy." There is an unspeakable fragrance in those good ointments, there is an odour in the unction of the Spirit, which exhilarates the soul, and imparts a certain freshness and vigour of saving health to the constitution of the inner man,
Now, the sanctified heart, refreshed with the anointing of the Spirit, feels Christ to be more precious, and rejoices in him with a livelier joy. His ointments have enlightened the eyes, healed every bruise,
and made the wounded spirit whole; and a sense of those benefits inspires new ardours of love. The very name of Christ the Saviour, awakens remembrances, desires, and emotions inexpressibly affecting. The name of Jesus is as ointment most mollifying to the broken in heart. It is a name which chases away despair, and suggests the most agreeable hopes of eternal well-being.
One use of ointment was for personal ornament: “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart,” Prov. xxvii. 9. And with reference to this, by “the savour of good ointments,” may be understood the sense which believers entertain of the graces and glories of the person of Christ. To the virgins to the pure in heart—to those sanctified ones, that keep themselves unspotted from the world, he appears in the most engaging and attractive light. Innumerable graces shine in the accomplishments of his human character, while in his divine comeliness, he is altogether glorious : So that his presence diffuses a sacred fragrance throughout the soul, and his name delights the inward affections, as agreeable perfumes gratify the bodily senses, when exhaling their odorifer
The glories of the person of