Owen, Of Communion With God, File 9
    (... continued from File 8)

     Chapter 3 (Digression 1) 
          Digression 1. Some excellencies of Christ proposed to  
          consideration, to endear our hearts unto him - His  
          description, Cant. 5, opened.   

        To strengthen our hearts in the resignation mentioned of
    ourselves unto the Lord Christ as our husband, as also to make
    way for the stirring of us up to those consequential conjugal
    affections of which mention shall afterward be made, I shall
    turn aside to a more full description of some of the personal
    excellencies of the Lord Christ, whereby the hearts of his
    saints are indeed endeared unto him.
        In "The LORD our Righteousness," then, may these ensuing
    things be considered; which are exceeding suitable to prevail
    upon our hearts to give up themselves to be wholly his: -
        1. He is exceeding excellent and desirable in his Deity,
    and the glory thereof. He is "Jehovah our Righteousness," Jer.
    23: 6. In the rejoicing of Zion at his coming to her, this is
    the bottom, "Behold thy God!" Isa. 40: 9. "We have seen his
    glory," saith the apostle. What glory is that? "The glory of
    the only-begotten Son of God," John 1: 14. The choicest saints
    have been afraid and amazed at the beauty of an angel; and the
    stoutest sinners have trembled at the glory of one of those
    creatures in a low appearance, representing but the back parts
    of their glory, who yet themselves, in their highest
    advancement, do cover their faces at the presence of our
    Beloved, as conscious to themselves of their utter disability
    to bear the rays of his glory, Isa. 6: 2; John 12: 39-41. He
    is "the fellow of the Lord, of hosts," Zech. 13: 7. And though
    he once appeared in the form of a servant, yet then "he
    thought it not robbery to be equal with God," Phil. 2: 6. In
    the glory of this majesty he dwells in light inaccessible. We
    "cannot by searching find out the Almighty unto perfection: it
    is as high as heaven; what can we do? deeper than hell; what
    can we know? the measure thereof is longer than the earth, and
    broader than the sea," Job 11: 7- 9. We may all say one to
    another of this, "Surely we are more brutish than any man, and
    have not the understanding of a man. We neither learned
    wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy. Who has ascended
    up into heaven, or descended? who has gathered the wind in his
    fists? who has bound the waters in a garment? who has
    established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and
    what is his Son's name, if ye can tell," Prov. 30: 2-4.
        If any one should ask, now, with them in the Canticles,
    what is in the Lord Jesus, our beloved, more than in other
    beloveds, that should make him so desirable, and amiable, and
    worthy of acceptation? what is he more than others? I ask,
    What is a king more than a beggar? Much every way. Alas! this
    is nothing; they were born alike, must die alike, and after
    that is the judgement. What is an angel more than a worm? A
    worm is a creature, and an angel is no more; he has made the
    one to creep in the earth, - made also the other to dwell in
    heaven. There is still a proportion between these, they agree
    in something; but what are all the nothings of the world to
    the God infinitely blessed for evermore? Shall the dust of the
    balance, or the drop of the bucket be laid in the scale
    against him? This is he of whom the sinners in Zion are
    afraid, and cry, "Who amongst us shall dwell with the
    devouring fire, who amongst us shall dwell with everlasting
    burnings?" I might now give you a glimpse of his excellency in
    many of those properties and attributes by which he discovers
    himself to the faith of poor sinners; but as he that goes into
    a garden where there are innumerable flowers in great variety,
    gathers not all he sees, but crops here and there one, and
    another, I shall endeavour to open a door, and give an inlet
    into the infinite excellency of the graces of the Lord Jesus,
    as he is "God blessed for evermore," presenting the reader
    with one or two instances, leaving him to gather for his own
    use what farther he pleaseth. Hence, then, observe, -
        The endless, bottomless, boundless grace and compassion
    that is in him who is thus our husband, as he is the God of
    Zion. It is not the grace of a creature, nor all the grace
    that can possibly at once dwell in a created nature, that will
    serve our turn. We are too indigent to be suited with such a
    supply. There was a fulness of grace in the human nature of
    Christ, - he received not "the Spirit by measure," John 3: 34;
    a fulness like that of light in the sun, or of water in the
    sea (I speak not in respect of communication, but
    sufficiency); a fulness incomparably above the measure of
    angels: yet it was not properly an infinite fulness, - it was
    a created, and therefore a limited fulness. If it could be
    conceived as separated from the Deity, surely so many thirsty,
    guilty souls, as every day drink deep and large draughts of
    grace and mercy from him, would (if I may so speak) sink him
    to the very bottom; nay, it could afford no supply at all, but
    only in a moral way. But when the conduit of his humanity is
    inseparably united to the infinite, inexhaustible fountain of
    the Deity, who can look into the depths thereof? If, now,
    there be grace enough for sinners in an all- sufficient God,
    it is in Christ; and, indeed, in any other there cannot be
    enough. The Lord gives this reason for the peace and
    confidence of sinners, Isa. 54: 4, 5, "Thou shalt not be
    ashamed, neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put
    to shame." But how shall this be? So much sin, and not
    ashamed! so much guilt, and not confounded! "Thy Maker," saith
    he, "is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy
    Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth
    shall he be called." This is the bottom of all peace,
    confidence, and consolation, - the grace and mercy of our
    Maker, of the God of the whole earth. So are kindness and
    power tempered in him; he makes us, and mars us, - he is our
    God and our Goel, our Redeemer. "Look unto me," saith he, "and
    be ye saved; for I am God, and none else," Isa. 45: 22,
    "Surely, shall one say, In the LORD have I righteousness,"
    verse 24.
        And on this ground it is that if all the world should (if
    I may so say) set themselves to drink free grace, mercy, and
    pardon, drawing water continually from the wells of salvation;
    if they should set themselves to draw from one single promise,
    an angel standing by and crying, "Drink, O my friends, yea,
    drink abundantly, take so much grace and pardon as shall be
    abundantly sufficient for the world of sin which is in every
    one of you;" - they would not be able to sink the grace of the
    promise one hair's breadth. There is enough for millions of
    worlds, if they were; because it flows into it from an
    infinite, bottomless fountain. "Fear not, O worm Jacob, I am
    God, and not man," is the bottom of sinners' consolation. This
    is that "head of gold" mentioned, Cant. 5: 11, that most
    precious fountain of grace and mercy. This infiniteness of
    grace, in respect of its spring and fountain, will answer all
    objections that might hinder our souls from drawing nigh to
    communion with him, and from a free embracing of him. Will not
    this suit us in all our distresses? What is our finite guilt
    before it? Show me the sinner that can spread his iniquities
    to the dimensions (if I may so say) of this grace. Here is
    mercy enough for the greatest, the oldest, the stubbornest
    transgressor, - "Why will ye die, O house of Israel?" Take
    heed of them who would rob you of the Deity of Christ. If
    there were no more grace for me than what can be treasured up
    in a mere man, I should rejoice [if] my portion might be under
    rocks and mountains.
        Consider, hence, his eternal, free, unchangeable love.
    Were the love of Christ unto us but the love of a mere man,
    though never so excellent, innocent, and glorious, it must
    have a beginning, it must have an ending, and perhaps be
    fruitless. The love of Christ in his human nature towards his
    is exceeding, intense, tender, precious, compassionate,
    abundantly heightened by a sense of our miseries, feeling of
    our wants, experience of our temptations; all flowing from
    that rich stock of grace, pity, and compassion, which, on
    purpose for our good and supply, was bestowed on him: but yet
    this love, as such, cannot be infinite nor eternal, nor from
    itself absolutely unchangeable. Were it no more, though not to
    be paralleled nor fathomed yet our Saviour could not say of
    it, as he does, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved
    you," John 15: 9. His love could not be compared with and
    squalled unto the divine love of the Father, in those
    properties of eternity, fruitfulness, and unchangeableness,
    which are the chief anchors of the soul, rolling itself on the
    bosom of Christ. But now, -
        (1.) It is eternal: "Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I
    have not," saith he, "spoken in secret from the beginning;
    from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD,
    and his Spirit, has sent me," Isa. 48: 16. He himself is
    "yesterday, today, and for ever," Heb. 13: 8; and so is his
    love, being his who is "Alpha and Omega, the first and the
    last, the beginning and the ending, which is, which was, and
    which is to come," Rev. 1: 11.
         (2.) Unchangeable. Our love is like ourselves; as we are,
    so are all our affections: so is the love of Christ like
    himself. We love one, one day, and hate him the next. He
    changeth, and we change also: this day he is our right hand,
    our right eye; the next day, "Cut him off, pluck him out."
    Jesus Christ is still the same; and so is his love. "In the
    beginning he laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens
    are the works of his hands; they shall perish, but he
    remaineth: they all shall wax old as does a garment; and as a
    vesture shall he fold them up, and they shall be changed: but
    he is the same, and his years fail not," Heb. 1: 10-12. He is
    the LORD, and he changeth not; and therefore we are not
    consumed. Whom he loves, he loves unto the end. His love is
    such as never had beginning, and never shall have ending.
        (3.) It is also fruitful, - fruitful in all gracious
    issues and effects. A man may love another as his own soul,
    yet perhaps that love of his cannot help him. He may thereby
    pity him in prison, but not relieve him; bemoan him in misery,
    but not help him; suffer with him in trouble, but not ease
    him. We cannot love grace into a child, nor mercy into a
    friend; we cannot love them into heaven, though it may be the
    great desire of our soul. It was love that made Abraham cry,
    "O that Ishmael might live before thee!" but it might not be.
    But now the love of Christ, being the love of God, is
    effectual and fruitful in producing all the good things which
    he willeth unto his beloved. He loves life, grace, and
    holiness into us; he loves us also into covenant, loves us
    into heaven. Love in him is properly to will good to any one:
    whatever good Christ by his love wills to any, that willing is
    operative of that good.
        These three qualifications of the love of Christ make it
    exceedingly eminent, and him exceeding desirable. How many
    millions of sins, in every one of the elect, every one whereof
    were enough to condemn them all, has this love overcome! what
    mountains of unbelief does it remove! Look upon the
    conversation of any one saint, consider the frame of his
    heart, see the many stains and spots, the defilements and
    infirmities, wherewith his life is contaminated, and tell me
    whether the love that bears with all this be not to be
    admired. And is it not the same towards thousands every day?
    What streams of grace, purging, pardoning, quickening,
    assisting, do flow from it every day! This is our Beloved, O
    ye daughters of Jerusalem.
        2. He is desirable and worthy our acceptation, as
    considered in his humanity; even therein also, in reference to
    us, he is exceedingly desirable. I shall only, in this, note
    unto you two things: - (1.) Its freedom from sin; (2.) Its
    fulness of grace; - in both which regards the Scripture sets
    him out as exceedingly lovely and amiable.
        (1.) He was free frown sin; - the Lamb of God, without
    spot, and without blemish; the male of the flock, to be
    offered unto God, the curse falling on all other oblations,
    and them that offer them, Mal. 1: 14. The purity of the snow
    is not to be compared with the whiteness of this lily, of this
    rose of Sharon, even from the womb: "For such an high priest
    became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from
    sinners," Heb. 7: 26. Sanctified persons, whose stains are in
    any measure washed away, are exceeding fair in the eye of
    Christ himself. "Thou art all fair," saith he, "my love, thou
    hast no spot in thee." How fair, then, is he who never had the
    least spot or stain!
        It is true, Adam at his creation had this spotless purity;
    so had the angels: but they came immediately from the hand of
    God, without concurrence of any secondary cause. Jesus Christ
    is a plant and root out of a dry ground, a blossom from the
    stem of Jesse, a bud from the loins of sinful man, - born of a
    sinner, after there had been no innocent flesh in the world
    for four thousand years, every one upon the roll of his
    genealogy being infected therewithal. To have a flower of
    wonderful rarity to grow in paradise, a garden of God's own
    planting, not sullied in the least, is not so strange; but, as
    the psalmist speaks (in another kind), to hear of it in a
    wood, to find it in a forest, to have a spotless bud brought
    forth in the wilderness of corrupted nature, is a thing which
    angels may desire to look into. Nay, more, this whole nature
    was not only defiled, but also accursed; not only unclean, but
    also guilty, - guilty of Adam's transgression, in whom we have
    all sinned. That the human nature of Christ should be derived
    from hence free from guilt, free from pollution, this is to be
        Objection. But you will say, "How can this be? who can
    bring a clean thing from an unclean? How could Christ take our
    nature, and not the defilements of it, and the guilt of it? If
    Levi paid tithes in the loins of Abraham, how is it that
    Christ did not sin in the loins of Adam?"
        Answer. There are two things in original sin: -
        [1.] Guilt of the first sin, which is imputed to us. We
    all sinned in him. "'Eph hoi pantes hemarton", Rom. 5: 12,
    whether we render it relatively "in whom," or illatively,
    "being all have sinned," all is one: that one sin is the sin
    of us all, - "omnes eramus unus ille homo". We were all in
    covenant with him; he was not only a natural head, but also a
    federal head unto us. As Christ is to believers, Rom. 5: 17; 1
    Cor. 15: 22, so was he to us all; and his transgression of
    that covenant is reckoned to us.
        [2.] There is the derivation of a polluted, corrupted
    nature from him: "Who can bring a clean thing out of an
    unclean?" "That which is born of the flesh is flesh," and
    nothing else; whose wisdom and mind is corrupted also: a
    polluted fountain will have polluted streams. The first person
    corrupted nature, and that nature corrupts all persons
    following. Now, from both these was Christ most free: -
        1st. He was never federally in Adam, and so not liable to
    the imputation of his sin on that account. It is true that sin
    was imputed to him when he was made sin; thereby he took away
    the sin of the world, John 1: 29: but it was imputed to him in
    the covenant of the Mediator, through his voluntary
    susception, and not in the covenant of Adam, by a legal
    imputation. Had it been reckoned to him as a descendant from
    Adam, he had not been a fit high priest to have offered
    sacrifices for us, as not being "separate from sinners," Heb.
    7: 26. Had Adam stood in his innocence, Christ had not been
    incarnate, to have been a mediator for sinners; and therefore
    the counsel of his incarnation, morally, took not place, until
    after the fall. Though he was in Adam in a natural sense from
    his first creation, in respect of the purpose of God, Luke 3:
    23, 38, yet he was not in him in a law sense until after the
    fall: so that, as to his own person, he had no more to do with
    the first sin of Adam, than with any personal sin of [any] one
    whose punishment he voluntarily took upon him; as we are not
    liable to the guilt of those progenitors who followed Adam,
    though naturally we were no less in them than in him.
    Therefore did he, all the days of his flesh, serve God in a
    covenant of works; and was therein accepted with him, having
    done nothing that should disannul the virtue of that covenant
    as to him. This does not, then, in the least take off from his
        2dly. For the pollution of our nature, it was prevented in
    him from the instant of conception, Luke 1: 35, "The Holy
    Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall
    overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing that shall be
    born of thee shall be called the Son of God." He was "made of
    a woman," Gal. 4: 4; but that portion whereof he was made was
    sanctified by the Holy Ghost, that what was born thereof
    should be a holy thing. Not only the conjunction and union of
    soul and body, whereby a man becomes partaker of his whole
    nature, and therein of the pollution of sin, being a son of
    Adam, was prevented by the sanctification of the Holy Ghost,
    but it also accompanied the very separation of his bodily
    substance in the womb unto that sacred purpose whereunto it
    was set apart: so that upon all accounts he is "holy,
    harmless, undefiled." Add now hereunto, that he "did no sin,
    neither was guile found in his mouth," 1 Pet. 2: 22; that he
    "fulfilled all righteousness," Matt. 3: 15; his Father being
    always "well pleased" with him, verse 17, on the account of
    his perfect obedience; yea, even in that sense wherein he
    chargeth his angels with folly, and those inhabitants of
    heaven are not clean in his sight; and his excellency and
    desirableness in this regard will lie before us. Such was he,
    such is he; and yet for our sakes was he contented not only to
    be esteemed by the vilest of men to be a transgressor, but to
    undergo from God the punishment due to the vilest sinners. Of
    which afterward.
        (2.) The fulness of grace in Christ's human nature sets
    forth the amiableness and desirableness thereof. Should I make
    it my business to consider his perfections, as to this part of
    his excellency, - what he had from the womb, Luke 1: 35, what
    received growth and improvement as to exercise in the days of
    his flesh, Luke 2: 52, with the complement of them all in
    glory, - the whole would tend to the purpose in hand. I am but
    taking a view of these things in transits. These two things
    lie in open sight to all at the first consideration: - all
    grace was in him, for the kinds thereof; and all degrees of
    grace, for its perfections; and both of them make up that
    fulness that was in him. It is created grace that I intend;
    and therefore I speak of the kinds of it: it is grace inherent
    in a created nature, not infinite; and therefore I speak of
    the degrees of it.
        For the fountain of grace, the Holy Ghost, he received not
    him "by measure," John 3: 34; and for the communications of
    the Spirit, "it pleased the Father that in him should all
    fulness dwell," Col. 1: 19, - "that in all things he might
    have the pre-eminence." But these things are commonly spoken
        This is the Beloved of our souls, "holy, harmless,
    undefiled;" "full of grace and truth;" - full, to a
    sufficiency for every end of grace, - full, for practice, to
    be an example to men and angels as to obedience, full, to a
    certainty of uninterrupted communion with God, - full, to a
    readiness of giving supply to others, - full, to suit him to
    all the occasions and necessities of the souls of men, - full,
    to a glory not unbecoming a subsistence in the person of the
    Son of God, - full, to a perfect victory, in trials, over all
    temptations, - full, to an exact correspondence to the whole
    law, every righteous and holy law of God, full to the utmost
    capacity of a limited, created, finite nature, - full, to the
    greatest beauty and glory of a living temple of God, - full,
    to the full pleasure and delight of the soul of his Father, -
    full to an everlasting monument of the glory of God, in giving
    such inconceivable excellencies to the Son of man.
        And this is the second thing considerable for the
    endearing of our souls to our Beloved.
        3. Consider that he is all this in one person. We have not
    been treating of two, a God and a man; but of one who is God
    and man. That Word that was with God in the beginning, and was
    God, John 1: 1, is also made flesh, verse 14; - not by a
    conversion of itself into flesh; not by appearing in the
    outward shape and likeness of flesh; but by assuming that holy
    thing that was born of the virgin, Luke 1: 35, into personal
    union with himself. So "The mighty God," Isa. 9: 6, is a
    "child given" to us; that holy thing that was born of the
    virgin is called "The Son of God," Luke 1: 35. That which made
    the man Christ Jesus to be a man, was the union of soul and
    body; that which made him that man, and without which he was
    not the man, was the subsistence of both united in the person
    of the Son of God. As to the proof hereof, I have spoken of it
    elsewhere at large; I now propose it only in general, to show
    the amiableness of Christ on this account. Here lies, hence
    arises, the grace, peace, life, and security of the church, -
    of all believers; as by some few considerations may be clearly
    evinced: -
        (1.) Hence was he fit to suffer and able to bear whatever
    was due unto us, in that very action wherein the "Son of man
    gave his life a ransom for many," Matt. 20: 28. "God redeemed
    his church with his own blood," Acts 20: 28; and therein was
    the "love of God seen, that he gave his life for us," 1 John
    3: 16. On this account was there room, enough in his breast to
    receive the points of all the swords that were sharpened by
    the law against us; and strength enough in his shoulders to
    bear the burden of that curse that was due to us. Thence was
    he so willing to undertake the work of our redemption, Heb.
    10: 7, 8, "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God," because he knew
    his ability to go through with it. Had he not been man, he
    could not have suffered; - had he not been God, his suffering
    could not have availed either himself or us, - he had not
    satisfied; the suffering of a mere man could not bear any
    proportion to that which in any respect was infinite. Had the
    great and righteous God gathered together all the sins that
    had been committed by his elect from the foundation of the
    world, and searched the bosoms of all that were to come to the
    end of the world, and taken them all, from the sin of their
    nature to the least deviation from the rectitude of his most
    holy law, and the highest provocation of their regenerate and
    unregenerate condition, and laid them on a mere holy,
    innocent, creature; - O how would they have overwhelmed him,
    and buried him for ever out of the presence of God's love!
    Therefore does the apostle premise that glorious description
    of him to the purging of our sin: "He has spoken unto us by
    his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom
    also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his
    glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all
    things by the word of his power," has "purged our sins." Heb.
    1: 2, 3. It was he that purged our sins, who was the Son and
    heir of all things, by whom the world was made, - the
    brightness of his Father's glory, and express image of his
    person; he did it, he alone was able to do it. "God was
    manifested in the flesh," 1 Tim. 3: 16, for this work. The
    sword awaked against him that was the fellow of the Lord of
    hosts, Zech. 13: 7; and by the wounds of that great shepherd
    are the sheep healed, 1 Pet. 2: 24, 25.
        (2.) Hence does he become an endless, bottomless fountain
    of grace to all them that believe. The fulness that it pleased
    the Father to commit to Christ, to be the great treasury and
    storehouse of the church, did not, does not, lie in the human
    nature, considered in itself; but in the person of the
    mediator, God and man. Consider wherein his communication of
    grace does consist, and this will be evident. The foundation
    of all is laid in his satisfaction, merit, and purchase; these
    are the morally procuring cause of all the grace we receive
    from Christ. Hence all grace becomes to be his; all the things
    of the new covenant, the promises of God, all the mercy, love,
    grace, glory promised, became, I say, to be his. Not as though
    they were all actually invested, or did reside and were in the
    human nature, and were from thence really communicated to us
    by a participation of a portion of what did so inhere: but
    they are morally his, by a compact, to be bestowed by him as
    he thinks good, as he is mediator, God and man; that is, the
    only begotten Son made flesh, John 1: 14, "from whose fulness
    we receive, and grace for grace." The real communication of
    grace is by Christ sending the Holy Ghost to regenerate us,
    and to create all the habitual grace, with the daily supplies
    thereof, in our hearts, that we are made partakers of. Now the
    Holy Ghost is thus sent by Christ as mediator, God and man, as
    is at large declared, John 14; 15; 16; of which more
    afterward. This, then, is that which I intend by this fulness
    of grace that is in Christ, from whence we have both our
    beginning and all our supplies; which makes him, as he is the
    alpha and Omega of his church, the beginner and finisher of
    our faith, excellent and desirable to our souls: - Upon the
    payment of the great price of his blood, and full acquitment
    on the satisfaction he made, all grace whatever (of which at
    large afterward) becomes, in a moral sense, his, at his
    disposal; and he bestows it on, or works it in, the hearts of
    his by the Holy Ghost, according as, in his infinite wisdom,
    he sees it needful. How glorious is he to the soul on this
    consideration! That is most excellent to us which suits us in
    a wanting condition, - that which gives bread to the hungry,
    water to the thirsty, mercy to the perishing. All our reliefs
    are thus in our Beloved. Here is the life of our souls, the
    joy of our hearts, our relief against sin and deliverance from
    the wrath to come.
        (3.) Thus is he fitted for a mediator, a days-man, an
    umpire between God and us, - being one with him, and one with
    us, and one in himself in this oneness, in the unity of one
    person. His ability and universal fitness for his office of
    mediator are hence usually demonstrated. And herein is he
    "Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God." Herein
    shines out the infinitely glorious wisdom of God; which we may
    better admire than express. What soul that has any
    acquaintance with these things falls not down with reverence
    and astonishment? How glorious is he that is the Beloved of
    our souls! What can be wanting that should encourage us to
    take up our rest and peace in his bosom? Unless all ways of
    relief and refreshment be so obstructed by unbelief, that no
    consideration can reach the heart to yield it the least
    assistance, it is impossible but that from hence the soul may
    gather that which will endear it unto him with whom we have to
    do. Let us dwell on the thoughts of it. This is the hidden
    mystery; great without controversy; admirable to eternity.
    What poor, low, perishing things do we spend our
    contemplations on! Were we to have no advantage by this
    astonishing dispensation, yet its excellency, glory, beauty,
    depths, deserve the flower of our inquiries, the vigour of our
    spirits, the substance of our time; but when, withal, our
    life, our peace, our joy, our inheritance, our eternity, our
    all, lies herein, shall not the thoughts of it always dwell in
    our hearts, always refresh and delight our souls?
        (4.) He is excellent and glorious in this, - in that he is
    exalted and invested with all authority. When Jacob heard of
    the exaltation of his son Joseph in Egypt, and saw the
    chariots that he had sent for him, his spirit fainted and
    recovered again, through abundance of joy and other
    overflowing affections. Is our Beloved lost, who for our sakes
    was upon the earth poor and persecuted, reviled, killed? No!
    he was dead, but he is alive, and, lo, he lives for ever and
    ever, and has the keys of hell and of death. Our Beloved is
    made a lord and ruler, Acts 2: 36. He is made a king; God sets
    him his king on his holy hill of Zion, Ps. 2: 6; and he is
    crowned with honour and dignity, after he had been "made a
    little lower than the angels for the suffering of death," Heb.
    2: 7-9. And what is he made king of? "All things are put in
    subjection under his feet," verse 8. And what power over them
    has our Beloved? "All power in heaven and earth," Matt. 28:
    18. As for men, he has power given him "over all flesh," John
    17: 2. And in what glory does he exercise this power? He gives
    eternal life to his elect; ruling them in the power of God,
    Micah 5: 4, until he bring them to himself: and for his
    enemies, his arrows are sharp in their hearts, Ps. 45: 5; he
    dips his vesture in their blood. Oh, how glorious is he in his
    authority over his enemies! In this world he terrifies,
    frightens, awes, convinces, bruises their hearts and
    consciences, - fills them with fear, terror, disquietment,
    until they yield him feigned obedience; and sometimes with
    outward judgements bruises, breaks, turns the wheel upon them,
    - stains all his vesture with their blood, - fills the earth
    with their caresses: and at last will gather them all
    together, beast, false prophet, nations, etc., and cast them
    into that lake that burns with fire and brimstone.
        He is gloriously exalted above angels in this his
    authority, good and bad, Eph. 1: 20-22, "far above all
    principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every
    name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that
    which is to come." They are all under his feet, - at his
    command and absolute disposal. He is at the right hand of God,
    in the highest exaltation possible, and in full possession of
    a kingdom over the whole creation; having received a "name
    above every name," etc., Phil. 2: 9. Thus is he glorious in
    his throne, which is at "the right hand of the majesty on
    high;" glorious in his commission, which is "all power in
    heaven and earth;" glorious in his name, a name above every
    name, - "Lord of lords, and King of kings;" glorious in his
    sceptre, - "a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of his
    kingdom;" glorious in his attendants, - "his chariots are
    twenty thousand, even thousands of angels," among them he
    rideth on the heavens, and sendeth out the voice of his
    strength, attended with ten thousand times ten thousand of his
    holy ones; glorious in his subjects, - all creatures in heaven
    and in earth, nothing is left that is not put in subjection to
    him; glorious in his way of rule, and the administration of
    his kingdom, - full of sweetness, efficacy, power, serenity,
    holiness, righteousness, and grace, in and towards his elect,
    - of terror, vengeance, and certain destruction towards the
    rebellious angels and men; glorious in the issue of his
    kingdom, when every knee shall bow before him, and all shall
    stand before his judgement-seat. And what a little portion of
    his glory is it that we have pointed to! This is the beloved
    of the church, - its head, its husband; this is he with whom
    we have communion: but of the whole exaltation of Jesus Christ
    I am elsewhere to treat at large.
         Having insisted on these generals, for the farther
    carrying on the motives to communion with Christ, in the
    relation mentioned, taken from his excellencies and
    perfections, I shall reflect on the description given of him
    by the spouse in the Canticles, to this very end and purpose
    Chant. 5: 10-16, "My Beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest
    among ten thousand. His head is as the most fine gold, his
    locks are bushy, and black as a raven. His eyes are as the
    eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and
    fitly set. His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet
    flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet- smelling myrrh.
    His hands are as gold rings, set with the beryl: his belly is
    as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. His legs are as
    pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his
    countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth
    is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my
    Beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem."
        The general description given of him, verse 10, has been
    before considered; the ensuing particulars are instances to
    make good the assertion that he is "the chiefest among ten
        The spouse begins with his head and face, verses 11-13. In
    his head, she speaks first in general, unto the substance of
    it, - it is "fine gold;" and then in particular, as to its
    ornaments, - "his locks are bushy, and black as a raven."
        1. "His head is as the most one gold," or, "His head gold,
    solid gold;" so some; - "made of pure gold;" so others; -
    "chrusion kefale", say the LXX, retaining part of both the
    Hebrew words, to "ketem paz", "massa auri."
        Two things are eminent in gold, - splendour or glory, and
    duration. This is that which the spouse speaks of the head of
    Christ. His head is his government, authority, and kingdom.
    Hence it is said, "A crown of pure gold was on his head," Ps.
    21: 3; and his head is here said to be gold, because of the
    crown of gold that adorns it, - as the monarchy in Daniel that
    was most eminent for glory and duration, is termed a "head of
    gold," Dan. 2: 38. And these two things are eminent in the
    kingdom and authority of Christ: -
        (1.) It is a glorious kingdom; he is full of glory and
    majesty, and in his majesty he rides "prosperously," Ps. 45:
    3, 4. "His glory is great in the salvation of God: honour and
    majesty are laid upon him: he is made blessed for ever and
    ever," Ps. 21: 5, 6. I might insist on particulars, and show
    that there is not any thing that may render a kingdom or
    government glorious, but it is in this of Christ in all its
    excellencies. It is a heavenly, a spiritual, a universal, and
    a shaken kingdom; all which render it glorious. But of this,
    somewhat before.
        (2.) It is durable, yea, sterna], - solid gold. "His
    throne is for ever and ever," Ps. 45: 6; "of the increase of
    his government there shall be no end, upon the throne of
    David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it
    with judgement and with justice from henceforth even for
    ever," Isa. 9: 7. "His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,"
    Dan. 7: 27, - "a kingdom that shall never be destroyed," chap.
    2: 44; for he must reign until all his enemies be subdued.
    This is that head of gold, - the splendour and eternity of his
        And if you take the head in a natural sense, either the
    glory of his Deity is here attended to, or the fulness and
    excellency of his wisdom, which the head is the seat of. The
    allegory is not to be straitened, whilst we keep to the
    analogy of faith.
        2. For the ornaments of his head; his locks, they are said
    to be "bushy," or curled, "black as a raven." His curled locks
    are black; "as a raven," is added by way of illustration of
    the blackness, not with any allusion to the nature of the
    raven. Take the head spoken of in a political sense: his locks
    of hair - said to be curled, as seeming to be entangled, but
    really falling in perfect order and beauty, as bushy locks -
    are his thoughts, and counsels, and ways, in the
    administration of his kingdom. They are black or dark, because
    of their depth and unsearchableness, - as God is said to dwell
    in thick darkness; and curled or brushy, because of their
    exact interweavings, from his infinite wisdom. His thoughts
    are many as the hairs of the head, seeming to be perplexed and
    entangled, but really set in a comely order, as curled bushy
    hair; deep and unsearchable, and dreadful to his enemies, and
    full of beauty and comeliness to his beloved. Such are, I say,
    the thoughts of his heart, the counsels of his wisdom, in
    reference to the administrations of his kingdom: - dark,
    perplexed, involved, to a carnal eye; in themselves, and to
    his saints, deep, manifold, ordered in all things, comely,
        In a natural sense, black and curled locks denote
    comeliness, and vigour of youth. The strength and power of
    Christ, in the execution of his counsels, in all his ways,
    appears glorious and lovely.
        The next thing described in him is his eyes. Verse 12,
    "His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters,
    washed with milk, and fitly set." The reason of this allusion
    is obvious: - doves are tender birds, not birds of prey; and
    of all others they have the most bright, shining, and piercing
    eye; their delight also in streams of water is known. Their
    being washed in milk, or clear, white, crystal water, adds to
    their beauty. And they are here said to be "fitly set;" that
    is, in due proportion for beauty and lustre, - as a precious
    stone in the foil or fulness of a ring, as the word signifies.
        Eyes being for sight, discerning, knowledge, and
    acquaintance with the things that are to be seen; the
    knowledge, the understanding, the discerning Spirit of Christ
    Jesus, are here intended. In the allusion used four things are
    ascribed to them: - 1. Tenderness; 2. Purity; 3. Discerning;
    and, 4. Glory: -
         1. The tenderness and compassion of Christ towards his
    church is here intended. He looks on it with the eyes of
    galleys doves; with tenderness and careful compassion; without
    anger, fury, or thoughts of revenge. So is the eye
    interpreted, Deut. 11: 12, "The eyes of the LORD thy God are
    upon that land." Why so? "It is a land that the LORD thy God
    careth for;" - careth for it in mercy. So are the eyes of
    Christ on us, as the eyes of one that in tenderness cares for
    us; that lays out his wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, in
    all tender love, in our behalf. He is the stone, that
    foundation-stone of the church, whereon "are seven eyes,"
    Zech. 3: 9; wherein is a perfection of wisdom, knowledge,
    care, and kindness, for its guidance.
        2. Purity; - as washed doves' eyes for purity. This may be
    taken either subjectively, for the excellency and immixed
    cleanness and purity of his sight and knowledge in himself; or
    objectively, for his delighting to behold purity in others.
    "He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity," Hab. 1: 13. "He
    has no pleasure in wickedness; the foolish shall not stand in
    his sight," Ps. 5: 4, 5. If the righteous soul of Lot was
    vexed with seeing the filthy deeds of wicked men, 2 Pet. 2: 8,
    who yet had eyes of flesh, in which there was a mixture of
    impurity; how much more do the pure eyes of our dear Lord
    Jesus abominate all the filthiness of sinners! But herein lies
    the excellency of his love to us, that he takes care to take
    away our filth and stains, that he may delight in us; and
    seeing we are so defiled, that it could no otherwise be done,
    he will do it by his own blood, Eph. 5: 25-27, "Even as Christ
    also loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might
    sanctify and cleanse it, with the washing of water by the
    word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church,
    not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it
    should be holy, and without blemish." The end of this
    undertaking is, that the church might be thus gloriously
    presented unto himself, because he is of purer eyes than to
    behold it with joy and delight in any other condition. He
    leaves not his spouse until he says of her, "Thou art all
    fair, my love; there is no spot in thee," Cant. 4: 7. Partly,
    he takes away our spots and stains, by the "renewing of the
    Holy Ghost;" and wholly adorns us with his own righteousness:
    and that because of the purity of his own eyes, which "cannot
    behold iniquity," - that he might present us to himself holy.
        3. Discerning. He sees as doves, quickly, clearly,
    thoroughly, - to the bottom of that which he looks upon.
    Hence, in another p]ace it is said that his "eyes are as a
    flame of fire," Rev. 1: 14. And why so? That the churches
    might know that he is he which "searcheth the reins and
    hearts," Rev. 2: 23. He has discerning eyes, nothing is hid
    from him; all things are open and naked before him with whom
    we have to do. It is said of him, whilst he was in this world,
    that "Jesus knew all men, and needed not that any should
    testify of man; for he knew what was in man," John 2: 24, 25.
    His piercing eyes look through all the thick coverings of
    hypocrites, and the snow [show] of pretences that is on them.
    He sees the inside of all; and what men are there, that they
    are to him. He sees not as we see, but ponders the hidden man
    of the heart. No humble, broken, contrite soul, shall lose one
    sigh or groan after him, and communion with him; no pant of
    love or desire is hid from him, - he sees in secret; no
    glorious performance of the most glorious hypocrite will avail
    with him, - his eyes look through all, and the filth of their
    hearts lies naked before him.
        4. Beauty and glory are here intended also. Every thing of
    Christ is beautiful, for he is "altogether lovely," verse 16,
    but most glorious [is he] in his sight and wisdom: he is the
    wisdom of God's eternal wisdom itself; his understanding is
    infinite. What spots and stains are in all our knowledge! When
    it is made perfect, yet it will still be finite and limited.
    His is without spot of darkness, without foil of limitedness.
        Thus, then, is he beautiful and glorious: - his "head is
    of gold, his eyes are doves' eyes, washed in milk, and fitly
        The next thing insisted on is his cheeks. Verse 13, "His
    cheeks are as a bed of spices; as sweet flowers," or "towers
    of perfumes" [marginal reading], or well-grown flowers. There
    are three things evidently pointed at in these words: - 1. A
    sweet savour, as from spices, and flowers, and towers of
    perfume; 2. Beauty and order, as spices set in rows or beds,
    as the words import; 3. Eminency in that word, as sweet or
    well-grown, great flowers.
        These things are in the cheeks of Christ. The Chaldee
    paraphrase, who applies this whole song to God's dealings with
    the people of the Jews, makes these cheeks of the church's
    husband to be the two tables of stone, with the various lines
    drawn in them; but that allusion is strained, as are most of
    the conjectures of that scholiast.
        The cheeks of a man are the seat of comeliness and manlike
    courage. The comeliness of Christ, as has in part been
    declared, is from his fulness of grace in himself for us. His
    manly courage respects the administration of his rule and
    government, from his fulness of authority; as was before
    declared. This comeliness and courage the spouse, describing
    Christ as a beautiful, desirable personage, to show that
    spiritually he is so, calleth his cheeks; so to make up his
    parts, and proportion. And to them does she ascribe, -
        1. A sweet savour, order, and eminency. A sweet savour; as
    God is said to smell a sweet savour from the grace and
    obedience of his servants (Gen. 8: 21, the LORD smelled a
    savour of rest from the sacrifice of Noah), so do the saints
    smell a sweet savour from his grace laid up in Christ, Cant.
    1: 3. It is that which they rest in, which they delight in,
    which they are refreshed with. As the smell of aromatical
    spices and flowers pleases the natural sense, refreshes the
    spirits, and delights the person; so do the graces of Christ
    to his saints. They please their spiritual sense, they refresh
    their drooping spirits, and give delight to their souls. If he
    be nigh them, they smell his raiment, as Isaac the raiment of
    Jacob. They say, "It is as the smell of a field which the LORD
    has blessed," Gen. 27: 27; and their souls are refreshed with
        2. Order and beauty are as spices set in a garden bed. So
    are the graces of Christ. When spices are set in order, any
    one may know what is for his use, and take and gather it
    accordingly. Their answering, also, one to another makes them
    beautiful. So are the graces of Christ; in the gospel they are
    distinctly and in order set forth, that sinners by faith may
    view them, and take from him according to their necessity.
    They are ordered for the use of saints in the promises of the
    gospel. There is light in him, and life in him, and power in
    him, and all consolation in him; - a constellation of graces,
    shining with glory and beauty. Believers take a view of them
    all, see their glory and excellency, but fix especially on
    that which, in the condition wherein they are, is most useful
    to them. One takes light and joy; another, life and power. By
    faith and prayer do they gather these things in this bed of
    spices. Not any that comes to him goes away unrefreshed. What
    may they not take, what may they not gather? what is it that
    the poor soul wants? Behold, it is here provided, set out in
    order in the promises of the gospel; which are as the beds
    wherein these spices are set for our use: and on the account
    hereof is the covenant said to be "ordered in all things," 2
    Sam. 23: 5.
        3. Eminency. His cheeks are "a tower of perfumes" held up,
    made conspicuous, visible, eminent. So it is with the graces
    of Christ, when held out and lifted up in the preaching of the
    gospel. They are a tower of perfumes, - a sweet savour to God
    and man.
        The next clause of that verse is, "His lips are like
    lilies, dropping sweet-smelling myrrh." Two perfections in
    things natural are here alluded unto: - First, the glory of
    colour in the lilies, and the sweetness of savour in the
    myrrh. The glory and beauty of the lilies in those countries
    was such as that our Saviour tells us that "Solomon, in all
    his glory, was not arrayed like one of them," Matt. 6: 29; and
    the savour of myrrh such as, when the Scripture would set
    forth any thing to be an excellent savour, it compares it
    thereunto, Ps. 45: 8; and thereof was the sweet and holy
    ointment chiefly made, Exod. 30: 23-25: mention is also made
    frequently of it in other places, to the same purpose. It is
    said of Christ, that "grace was poured into his lips," Ps. 45:
    2; whence men wondered or were amazed - "tois logois tes
    charitos", [Luke 4: 22] - at the words of grace that proceeded
    out of his mouth. So that by the lips of Christ, and their
    dropping sweet- smelling myrrh, the word of Christ, its
    savour, excellency, and usefulness, is intended. Herein is he
    excellent and glorious indeed, surpassing the excellencies of
    those natural things which yet are most precious in their
    kind, - even in the glory, beauty, and usefulness of his word.
    Hence they that preach his word to the saving of the souls of
    men, are said to be a "sweet savour unto God," 2 Cor. 2: 15;
    and the savour of the knowledge of God is said to be
    manifested by them, verse 14. I might insist on the several
    properties of myrrh, whereto the word of Christ is here
    compared, - its bitterness in taste, its efficacy to preserve
    from putrefaction, its usefulness in perfumes and unctions, -
    and press the allegory in setting out the excellencies of the
    word in allusions to them; but I only insist on generals. This
    is that which the Holy Ghost here intends: - the word of
    Christ is sweet, savoury, precious unto believers; and they
    see him to be excellent, desirable, beautiful, in the
    precepts, promises, exhortations, and the most bitter threats
        The spouse adds, "His hands are as gold rings set with the
    beryl" [verse 14]. The word "beryl," in the original, is
    "Tarshish;" which the Septuagint have retained, not
    restraining it to any peculiar precious stone; the onyx, say
    some; the chrysolite, say others; - any precious stone shining
    with a sea-green colour, for the word signifies the sea also.
    Gold rings set with precious, glittering stones, are both
    valuable and desirable, for profit and ornament: so are the
    hands of Christ; that is, all his works, - the effects, by the
    cause. All his works are glorious; they are all fruits of
    wisdom, love, and bounty. "And his belly is as bright ivory,
    overlaid with sapphires." The smoothness and brightness of
    ivory, the preciousness and heavenly colour of the sapphires,
    are here called in, to give some lustre to the excellency of
    Christ." To these is his belly, or rather his bowels (which
    takes in the heart also), compared. It is the inward bowels,
    and not the outward bulk that is signified. Now, to show that
    by "bowels" in the Scripture, ascribed either to God or man,
    affections are intended, is needless. The tender love,
    unspeakable affections and kindness, of Christ to his church
    and people, is thus set out. What a beautiful sight is it to
    the eye, to see pure polished ivory set up and down with heaps
    of precious sapphires! How much more glorious are the tender
    affections, mercies, and compassion of the Lord Jesus unto
        Verse 15. The strength of his kingdom, the faithfulness
    and stability of his promises, - the height and glory of his
    person in his dominion, - the sweetness and excellency of
    communion with him, is set forth in these words: "His legs are
    as pillars of marble set upon sockets of fine gold; his
    countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars: his mouth
    is most sweet."
        When the spouse has gone thus far in the description of
    him, she concludes all in this general assertion: "He is
    wholly desirable, - altogether to be desired or beloved." As
    if she should have said, - "I have thus reckoned up some of
    the perfections of the creatures (things of most value, price,
    usefulness, beauty, glory, here below), and compared some of
    the excellencies of my Beloved unto them. In this way of
    allegory I can carry things no higher; I find nothing better
    or more desirable to shadow out and to present his loveliness
    and desirableness: but, alas! all this comes short of his
    perfections, beauty, and comeliness; 'he is all wholly to be
    desired, to be beloved;'" -
        Lovely in his person, - in the glorious all-sufficiency of
    his Deity, gracious purity and holiness of his humanity,
    authority and majesty, love and power.
        Lovely in his birth and incarnation; when he was rich, for
    our sakes becoming poor, - taking part of flesh and blood,
    because we partook of the same; being made of a woman, that
    for us he might be made under the law, even for our sakes.
        Lovely in the whole course of his life, and the more than
    angelical holiness and obedience which, in the depth of
    poverty and persecution, he exercised therein; - doing good,
    receiving evil; blessing, and being cursed, reviled,
    reproached, all his days.
        Lovely in his death; yea, therein most lovely to sinners;
    - never more glorious and desirable than when he came broken,
    dead, from the cross. Then had he carried all our sins into a
    land of forgetfulness; then had remade peace and
    reconciliation for us; then had he procured life and
    immortality for us.
        Lovely in his whole employment, in his great undertaking,
    - in his life, death, resurrection, ascension; being a
    mediator between God and us, to recover the glory of God's
    justice, and to save our souls, - to bring us to an enjoyment
    of God, who were set at such an infinite distance from him by
        Lovely in the glory and majesty wherewith he is crowned.
    Now he is set down at the right hand of the Majesty on high;
    where, though he be terrible to his enemies, yet he is full of
    mercy, love, and compassion, towards his beloved ones.
        Lovely in all those supplies of grace and consolations, in
    all the dispensations of his Holy Spirit, whereof his saints
    are made partakers.
        Lovely in all the tender care, power, and wisdom, which he
    exercises in the protection, safe-guarding, and delivery of
    his church and people, in the midst of all the oppositions and
    persecutions whereunto they are exposed.
        Lovely in all his ordinances, and the whole of that
    spiritually glorious worship which he has appointed to his
    people, whereby they draw nigh and have communion with him and
    his Father.
        Lovely and glorious in the vengeance he taketh, and will
    finally execute, upon the stubborn enemies of himself and his
        Lovely in the pardon he has purchased and does dispense, -
    in the reconciliation he has established, - in the grace he
    communicates, - in the consolations he does administer, - in
    the peace and joy he gives his saints, - in his assured
    preservation of them unto glory.
        What shall I say? there is no end of his excellencies and
    desirableness; - "He is altogether lovely. This is our
    beloved, and this is our friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

    Owen, Of Communion With God
    (continued in File 10...)

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