My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.…
The exquisite pastoral from which our text is taken is peculiarly fitted for Sacramental meditation — because its design is to set forth the mutual love of Christ and His disciples; and because His disciples, in approaching the Sacrament, should be in frames of mind fitted to appreciate, its exquisite imagery.
I. CHRISTIAN DUTY. The Church is here represented as Christ's garden, into which He then descends to delight Himself with the gracious fruits of the believer's spiritual life. And our lesson of duty is, that the Sacrament we should experience and exhibit such spiritual affections as seem unto Christ precious — fruits to be eaten — lilies to be gathered I Consider these graces: —
1. Faith. This is the foundation of all religious life. Now this grace Christ delights in, for it greatly honours and glorifies Him. In its ascription of salvation to Him alone it virtually places the mediatorial crown upon His head.
2. Love, — the soul's crowning grace, or a grand composite of all graces. For, in strict speech; they are all modifications of love. Penitence is love grieving — faith is love resting — obedience is love working — hope is love waiting. So that love toward man and toward God is at once the law fulfilled, and holiness perfected. And in this Christ delights.
II. THE CHRISTIAN'S PRIVILEGE. Regarding the believer as the subject it represents his soul as greatly rejoicing in the Sacrament, gathering in Christ's garden the heavenly fruit. These fruits are the gracious gifts imparted by the Saviour. Consider a few of them. Take them as they are presented in Christ's discourse in that guest-chamber.
1. Peace. Quiet, tranquillity, spiritual and immortal rest I And for this we come to Christ in the Sacrament. Behold a garden walled up to heaven. And through its open portal the soul passes leaning on the Beloved, to bathe heart and spirit in the everlasting fulness of God's glorious peace!
2. Joy. "These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain with you, and that your joy might be full. And what glorious, joy imparting words they were! And this is better than peace; for that is but a passive rest, this is a reigning rapture.
Parallel VersesKJV: My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.