Owen, Of Communion With God, File 12
    (... continued from File 11)

    Chapter 4. Of communion with Christ in a conjugal relation 
               in respect of consequential affections - His de-
               light in his saints first insisted on, Isa. 62:
               5; Cant. 3: 11 Prov. 8: 21 - Instance of Christ's
               delight in believers - He reveals his whole heart
               to them, John 15: 14, 16; himself, 1 John 14: 21;
               his kingdom; enables them to communicate their
               mind to him, giving them assistance, a way, bold-
               ness, Rom. 8: 26, 27 - The saints delight in
               Christ; this manifested Cant. 2: 7; 8: 6 - Cant.
               3: 1-5, opened
               - Their delight in his servants and ordinances of
               worship for his sake.
        The communion begun, as before declared, between Christ   
    and the soul, is in the next place carried on by suitable   
    consequential affections, - affections suiting such a   
    relation. Christ having given himself to the soul, loves the   
    soul; and the soul having given itself unto Christ, loveth him   
    also. Christ loves his own, yea, "loves them to the end," John   
    13: l; and the saints they love Christ, they "love the Lord   
    Jesus Christ in sincerity," Eph. 6: 24.    
        Now the love of Christ, wherewith he follows his saints,   
    consists in these four things: - I. Delight. 2. Valuation. 3.   
    Pity, or compassion. 4. Bounty. The love, also, of the saints   
    unto Christ may be referred to these four heads: - Delight;   
    Valuation; Chastity; Duty.    
        Two of these are of the same kind, and two distinct; as is   
    required in this relation, wherein all things stand not on   
    equal terms.    
        I. The first thing on the part of Christ is delight.   
    Delight is the flowing of love and joy, - the rest and   
    complacence of the mind in a suitable, desirable good enjoyed.   
    Now, Christ delights exceedingly in his saints: "As the   
    bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice   
    over thee," Isa. 62: 5. Hence he calleth the day of his   
    espousals, the day of the "gladness of his heart," Cant. 3:   
    11. It is known that usually this is the most unmixed delight   
    that the sons of men are in their pilgrimage made partakers   
    of. The delight of the bridegroom in the day of his espousals   
    is the height of what an expression of delight can be carried   
    unto. This is in Christ answerable to the relation he takes us   
    into. His heart is glad in us, without sorrow. And every day   
    whilst we live is his wedding-day. It is said of him, Zeph. 3:   
    17, "The Lord thy God in the midst of thee" (that is, dwelling   
    amongst us, taking our nature, John 1: 14) "is mighty; he will   
    save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his   
    love, he will joy over thee with singing;" which is a full   
    description of delight, in all the parts of it, - joy and   
    exultation, rest and complacence. "I rejoiced," saith he, "in   
    the habitable parts of the earth, and my delights were with   
    the sons of men," Prov. 8: 31. The thoughts of communion with   
    the saints were the joy of his heart from eternity. On the   
    compact and agreement that was between his Father and him,   
    that he should divide a portion with the strong, and save a   
    remnant for his inheritance, his soul rejoiced in the thoughts   
    of that pleasure and delight which he would take in them, when   
    he should actually take them into communion with himself.   
    Therefore in the preceding verse it is said he was by him as   
    "'amon", say we, "As one brought up with him," "alumnus;" the   
    LXX render it "harmodzousa", and the Latin, with most other   
    translations, "cuncta componens," or "disponens". The word   
    taken actively, signifies him whom another takes into his care   
    to breed up, and disposeth of things for his advantage. So did   
    Christ take us then into his care, and rejoiced in the   
    thoughts of the execution of his trust. Concerning them he   
    saith, "Here will I dwell, and here will I make my habitation   
    for ever." For them has he chosen for his temple and his   
    dwelling-place, because he delighteth in them. This makes him   
    take them so nigh himself in every relation. As he is God,   
    they are his temple; as he is a king, they are his subjects, -   
    he is the king of saints; as he is a head, they are his body,   
    - he is the head of the church; as he is a first-born, he   
    makes them his brethren, - "he is not ashamed to call them   
        I shall choose out one particular from among many as an   
    instance for the proof of this thing; and that is this: -   
    Christ reveals his secrets, his mind, unto his saints, and   
    enables them to reveal the secrets of their hearts to him, -   
    an evident demonstration of great delight. It was Samson's   
    carnal delight in Delilah that prevailed with him to reveal   
    unto her those things which were of greatest concernment unto   
    him; he will not hide his mind from her, though it cost him   
    his life. It is only a bosom friend into whom we will unbosom   
    ourselves Neither is there, possibly, a greater evidence of   
    delight in close communion than this, that one will reveal his   
    heart unto him whom he takes into society, and not entertain   
    him with things common and vulgarly known. And therefore have   
    I chose this instance, from amongst a thousand that might be   
    given, of this delight of Christ in his saints.    
        He, then, communicates his mind unto his saints, and unto   
    them, only; - his mind, the counsel of his love, the thoughts   
    of his heart, the purposes of his bosom, for our eternal good,   
    - his mind, the ways of his grace, the workings of his Spirit,   
    the rule of his sceptre, And the obedience of his gospel. All   
    spiritual revelation is by Christ. He is "the true Light, that   
    lighteth every man that comes into the world," John 1: 9. He   
    is the "Day-spring," the "Day-star," and the "Sun;" so that it   
    is impossible any light should be but by him. From him it is   
    that "the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and   
    he shows them his covenant," Ps. 25: 14; as he expresses it at   
    large, John 15: 14, 15, "Ye are my friends, if ye do   
    whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants;   
    for the servant knoweth not what his lord does: but I have   
    called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my   
    Father I have made known unto you." He makes them as his   
    friends, and useth them as friends, - as bosom friends, in   
    whom he is delighted. He makes known all his mind unto them;   
    every thing that his Father has committed to him as Mediator   
    to be revealed, Acts 20: 24. And the apostle declares how this   
    is done, 1 Cor. 2: 10, 11, "God has revealed these things unto   
    us by his Spirit; for we have received him, that we might know   
    the things that are freely given us of God." He sends us his   
    Spirits as he promised, to make known his mind unto his   
    saints, and to lead them into all truth. And thence the   
    apostle concludes, "We have known the mind of Christ," verse   
    l6; "for he useth us as friends, and declareth it unto us,"   
    John 1: 18. There is not any thing in the heart of Christ,   
    wherein these his friends are concerned, that he does not   
    reveal to them. All his love, his good-will, the secrets of   
    his covenant, the paths of obedience, the mystery of faith, is   
    told them.    
        And all this is spoken in opposition to unbelievers, with   
    whom he has no communion. These know nothing of the mind of   
    Christ as they ought: "The natural man receiveth not the   
    things that are of God," 1 Cor. 2: 14. There is a wide   
    difference between understanding the doctrine of the Scripture   
    as in the letter, and a true knowing the mind of Christ. This   
    we have by special unction from Christ, 1 John 2: 27, "We have   
    an unction from the Holy One, and we know all things," 1 John   
    2: 20.    
        Now, the things which in this communion Christ reveals to   
    them that he delights in, may be referred to these two heads:   
    - 1. Himself 2. His kingdom.    
        1. Himself. John 14: 21, "He that loveth me shall be loved   
    of my Father; and I will love him, and will manifest myself   
    unto him;" - "manifest myself in all my graces, desirableness,   
    and loveliness; he shall know me as I am, and such I will be   
    unto him, - a Saviour, a Redeemer, the chiefest of ten   
    thousand." He shall be acquainted with the true worth and   
    value of the pearl of price; let others look upon him as   
    having neither form nor comeliness, as no way desirable, he   
    will manifest himself and his excellencies unto them in whom   
    he is delighted, that they shall see him altogether lovely. He   
    will vail himself to all the world; but the saints with open   
    face shall behold his beauty and his glory, and so be   
    translated into the image of the same glory, as by the Spirit   
    of the Lord, 2 Cor. 3: 18.    
        2. His kingdom. They shall be acquainted with the   
    government of his Spirit in their hearts; as also with his   
    rule and the administration of authority in his word, and   
    among his churches.    
        (1.) Thus, in the first place, does he manifest his   
    delight in his saints, - he communicates his secrets unto   
    them. He gives them to know his person, his excellencies, his   
    grace, his love, his kingdom, his will, the riches of his   
    goodness, and the bowels of his mercy, more and more, when the   
    world shall neither see nor know any such thing.    
        (2.) He enables his saints to communicate their mind, to   
    reveal their souls, unto him, that so they may walk together   
    as intimate friends. Christ knows the minds of all. He knows   
    what is in man, and needs not that any man testify of him,   
    John 2: 25. He searcheth the hearts and trieth the reins of   
    all, Rev. 2: 23. But all know not how to communicate their   
    mind to Christ. It will not avail a man at all that Christ   
    knows his mind; for so he does of every one, whether he will   
    or no; - but that a man can make his heart known unto Christ,   
    this is consolation. Hence the prayers of the saints are   
    incense, odours; and those of others are howling, cutting off   
    a dog's neck, offering of swine's blood, - an abomination unto   
    the Lord. Now, three things are required to enable a man to   
    communicate his heart unto the Lord Jesus: -    
        [1.] Assistance for the work; for of ourselves we cannot   
    do it. And this the saints have by the Spirit of Jesus, Rom.   
    8: 26, 27, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities:   
    for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the   
    Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with greenings which   
    cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth   
    what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession   
    for the saints according to the will of God." All endeavours,   
    all attempts for communion with God, without the supplies of   
    the Spirit of supplications, without his effectual working in   
    the heart, is of no value, nor to any purpose. And this   
    opening of our hearts and bosoms to the Lord Jesus is that   
    wherein he is exceedingly delighted. Hence is that   
    affectionate call of his unto us, to be treating with him on   
    this account, Cant. 2: 14, "O my dove, that art in the secret   
    places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear   
    thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is   
    comely." When the soul on any account is driven to hide   
    itself, - in any neglected condition, in the most unlikely   
    place of abode, - then does he call for this communication of   
    itself by prayer to him; for which he gives the assistance of   
    the Spirit mentioned.    
        [2.] A way whereby to approach unto God with our desires.   
    This, also, we have by him provided for us, John 14: 5, 6,   
    "Thomas saith unto Jesus, Lord, we know not whither thou   
    goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am   
    the way; no man comes unto the Father, but by me." That way   
    which we had of going unto God at our creation is quite shut   
    up by sin. The sword of the law, which has fire put into it by   
    sin, turns every way, to stop all passages unto communion with   
    God. Jesus Christ has "consecrated a new and living way" (for   
    the saints) "through the vail, that is to say, his flesh,"   
    Heb. 10: 20. He has consecrated and set it apart for   
    believers, and for them alone. Others pretend to go to God   
    with their prayers, but they come not nigh him. How can they   
    possibly come to the end who go not in the way? Christ only is   
    the way to the throne of grace; none comes to God but by him.   
    "By him we have an access in one Spirit unto the Father," Eph.   
    2: 18. These two things, then, the saints have for the opening   
    of their hearts at the throne of grace, - assistance and a   
    way. The assistance of the Spirit, without which they are   
    nothing; and the way of Christ's mediation, without which God   
    is not to be approached unto.    
        [3.] Boldness to go unto God. The voice of sinners in   
    themselves, if once acquainted with the terror of the Lord,   
    is, - "Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who   
    among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" Isa. 33: 14.   
    And no marvel; shame and trembling before God are the proper   
    issues of sin. God will revenge that carnal, atheistical   
    boldness which sinners out of Christ do use towards him. But   
    we have now "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood   
    of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he has consecrated   
    for us) through the vail, that is to say, his flesh: and   
    having an high priest over the house of God, we may draw near   
    with a true heart, in full assurance of faith," Heb. 10: 19,   
    20. The truth is, such is the glory and terror of the Lord,   
    such the infinite perfection of his holiness, that, on clear   
    sight of it, it will make the soul conclude that of itself it   
    cannot serve him; nor will it be to any advantage, but add to   
    the fierceness of his destruction, once to draw nigh to him.   
    It is in Christ alone, and on the account alone of his   
    oblation and intercession, that we have any boldness to   
    approach unto him. And these three advantages have the saints   
    of communicating their minds unto the Lord Christ, which he   
    has provided for them, because he delights in them.    
        To touch a little by the way, because this is of great   
    importance, I will instance in one of these, as I might in   
    every one, that you may see the difference between a spiritual   
    revealing of our minds unto Christ in this acceptable manner,   
    and that praying upon conviction which others practice; and   
    this shall be from the first, - namely, the assistance we have   
    by the Spirit.    
        1st. The Spirit of Christ reveals to us our own wants,   
    that we may reveal them unto him: "We know not what we should   
    pray for as we ought," Rom. 8: 26; no teachings under those of   
    the Spirit of God are able to make our souls acquainted with   
    their own wants, - its burdens, its temptations. For a soul to   
    know its wants, its infirmities, is a heavenly discovery. He   
    that has this assistance, his prayer is more than half made   
    before he begins to pray. His conscience is affected with what   
    he has to do; his mind and spirit contend within him, there   
    especially where he finds himself most straitened. He brings   
    his burden on his shoulders, and unloads himself on the Lord   
    Christ. He finds (not by a perplexing conviction, but a holy   
    sense and weariness of sin) where he is dead, where dull and   
    cold, wherein unbelieving, wherein tempted above all his   
    strength, where the light of God's countenance is wanting. And   
    all these the soul has a sense of by the Spirit, - an   
    inexpressible sense and experience. Without this, prayer is   
    not prayer; men's voices may be heard, but they speak not in   
    their hearts. Sense of want is the spring of desire; -   
    natural, of natural; spiritual, of spiritual. Without this   
    sense given by the Holy Ghost, there is neither desire nor   
        2dly. The expressions, or the words of such persons, come   
    exceeding short of the labouring of their hearts; and   
    therefore, in and after their supplications, "the Spirit makes   
    intercession with sighs and groans that cannot be uttered."   
    Some men's words go exceedingly beyond their hearts. Did their   
    spirits come up to their expressions, it were well. He that   
    has this assistance can provide no clothing that is large and   
    broad enough to set forth the desires of his heart; and   
    therefore, in the close of his best and most fervent   
    supplications, such a person finds a double dissatisfaction in   
    them: - 1. That they are not a righteousness to be rested on;   
    that if God should mark what is in them amiss, they could not   
    abide the trial. 2. That his heart in them is not poured out,   
    nor delivered in any proportion to the holy desires and   
    labourings that were conceived therein; though he may in   
    Christ have great refreshment by them. The more they [saints]   
    speak, the more they find they have left unspoken.    
        3dly. The intercession of the saints thus assisted is   
    according to the mind of God; that is, they are guided by the   
    Spirit to make requests for those things unto God which it is   
    his will they should desire, - which he knows to be good for   
    them, useful and suitable to them, in the condition wherein   
    they are. There are many ways whereby we may know when we make   
    our supplications according to the will of God. I shall   
    instance only in one; that is, when we do it according to the   
    promise: when our prayers are regulated by the promise, we   
    make them according to the will of God. So David, Ps. 119: 49,   
    "Remember the word upon which thou hast caused me to hope." He   
    prays, and regulates his desire by the word of promise wherein   
    he had trusted. But yet, men may ask that which is in the   
    promise, and yet not have their prayers regulated by the   
    promise. They may pray for what is in the promise, but not as   
    it is in the promise. So James says some "ask and receive not,   
    because they ask amiss, that they may spend it on their   
    lusts," chap. 4: 3. Though the things which God would have us   
    ask be requested, yet if not according as he would have us do   
    it, we ask amiss.    
        Two things are required, that we may pray for the things   
    in the promise, as they are in the promise: -    
        (1st.) That we look upon them as promised, and promised in   
    Christ; that is, that all the reason we have whence we hope   
    for attaining the things we ask for, is from the mediation and   
    purchase of Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen.   
    This it is to ask the Father in Christ's name, - God as a   
    father, the fountain; and Christ as the procurer of them.    
        (2dly.) That we ask for them for the end of the promise,   
    not to spend on our lusts. When we ask pardon for sin, with   
    secret reserves in our hearts to continue in sin, we ask the   
    choicest mercy of the covenant, to spend it on our lusts. The   
    end of the promise the apostle tells us, 2 Cor. 7: 1, "Having   
    these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from all pollution of   
    the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."   
    When we ask what is in the promise, as it is in the promise,   
    to this end of the promise, our supplications are according to   
    the will of God. And this is the first conjugal affection that   
    Christ exerciseth towards believers, - he delights in them;   
    which that he does is evident, as upon other considerations   
    innumerable, so from the instance given.    
        In return hereunto, for the carrying on of the communion   
    between them, the saints delight in Christ; he is their joy,   
    their crown, their rejoicing, their life, food, health,   
    strength, desire, righteousness, salvation, blessedness:   
    without him they have nothing; in him they shall find all   
    things Gal. 6: 14, "God forbid that I should glory, save in   
    the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." He has, from the   
    foundation of the world, been the hope, expectation, desire,   
    and delight of all believers. The promise of him was all (and   
    it was enough) that God gave Adam in his inexpressible   
    distress, to relieve and comfort him, Gen. 3: 15. Eve perhaps   
    supposed that the promised seed had been born in her   
    first-born, when she said, "I have gotten a man from the LORD"   
    (so most properly, "'et" denoting the fourth case); and this   
    was the matter of her joy, Gen. 4: 1. Lamech having Noah given   
    to him as a type of Christ and salvation by him, cries out,   
    "This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of   
    our hands, because of the ground which the LORD has cursed,"   
    Gen. 5: 29; he rejoices in him who was to take away the curse,   
    by being made a curse for us. When Abraham was in the height   
    of his glory, returning from the conquest of the kings of the   
    east, that came against the confederate kings of the vale of   
    Sodom, God appears to him with a glorious promise, Gen. 15: 1,   
    "Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great   
    reward." What now could his soul more desire? Alas! he cries   
    (as Reuben afterward, upon the loss of Joseph), "The child is   
    not, and whither shall I go?" Verse 2, "Lord God, what wilt   
    thou give me, seeing I go childless?" "Thou hast promised that   
    in my seed shall all the earth be blessed; if I have not that   
    seed, ah! what good will all other things do me?" Thence it is   
    said that he "rejoiced to see the day of Christ; he saw it,   
    and was glad," John 8: 56; the thoughts of the coming of   
    Christ, which he looked on at the distance of two thousand   
    years, was the joy and delight of his heart. Jacob, blessing   
    his sons, lifted up his spirit when he comes to Judah, in whom   
    he considered the Shiloh to come, Gen. 49: 8, 9; and a little   
    after, wearied with the foresight and consideration of the   
    distresses of his posterity, this he diverts to for his   
    relief, as that great delight of his soul: "I have waited for   
    thy Salvation, O God;" for him who was to be the salvation of   
    his people. But it would be endless to instance in   
    particulars. Old Simon sums up the whole: Christ is God's   
    salvation, and Israel's glory, Luke 2: 30, 31; and whatever   
    was called the glory of old, it was either himself or a type   
    of him. The glory of man is their delight. Hence, Haggai 2: 7,   
    he is called "The Desire of all nations." Him whom their soul   
    loves and delights in, [they] desire and long after. So is the   
    saints' delight in him made a description of him, by way of   
    eminence, Mal. 3: 1: "The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly   
    come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant whom ye   
    delight in." "He whom ye seek, whom ye delight in," is the   
    description of Christ. He is their delight and desirable one,   
    the person of their desire. To fix on something in particular:   
        In that pattern of communion with Jesus Christ which we   
    have in the Canticles, this is abundantly insisted on. The   
    spouse tells us that she sits down under his shadow with great   
    delight, Cant. 2: 3. And this delight to be vigorous and   
    active, she manifests several ways; wherein we should labour   
    to find our hearts in like manner towards him: -    
        1. By her exceeding great care to keep his company and   
    society, when once she had obtained it, chap. 2: 7, "I charge   
    you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the   
    hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love   
    till he please." Having obtained sweet communion with Christ,   
    described in the verses foregoing (of which before), here she   
    expresseth her delight in it and desire of the continuance of   
    it; and therefore, following on the allusion formerly insisted   
    on, she speaks as one would do to her companion, [as one] that   
    had rest with one she loved: "I charge you, by all that is   
    dear to you, - by the things you most delight in, which among   
    the creatures are most lovely, all the pleasant and desirable   
    things that you can think of, - that you disturb him not." The   
    sum of her aim and desire is, that nothing may fall out,   
    nothing of sin or provocation happen, that may occasion Christ   
    to depart from her, or to remove from that dispensation   
    wherein he seemed to take that rest in her: "O stir him not up   
    until he please!" that is, never. "ha'ahavah", - love itself   
    in the abstract, to express a "pathos", or earnest affection;   
    for so that word is often used. When once the soul of a   
    believer has obtained sweet and real communion with Christ, it   
    looks about him, watcheth all temptations, all ways whereby   
    sin might approach, to disturb him in his enjoyment of his   
    dear Lord and Saviour, his rest and desire. How does it charge   
    itself not to omit any thing, nor to do any thing that may   
    interrupt the communion obtained! And because the common   
    entrance of temptations, which tend to the disturbance of that   
    rest and complacency which Christ takes in the soul, is from   
    delightful diversions from actual communion with him;   
    therefore is desire strong and active that the companions of   
    such a soul, those with whom it does converse, would not, by   
    their proposals or allurements, divert it into any such frame   
    as Christ cannot delight nor rest in. A believer that has   
    gotten Christ in his arms, is like one that has found great   
    spoils, or a pearl of price. He looks about him every way, and   
    fears every thing that may deprive him of it. Riches make men   
    watchful; and the actual sensible possession of him, in whom   
    are all the riches and treasure of God, will make men look   
    about them for the keeping of him. The line of choicest   
    communion, is a line of the greatest spiritual solicitousness:   
    carelessness in the enjoyment of Christ pretended, is a   
    manifest evidence of a false heart.    
        2. The spouse manifests her delight in him, by the utmost   
    impatience of his absence, with desires still of nearer   
    communion with him. Chap. 8: 6, "Set me as a seal upon thine   
    heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death;   
    jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of   
    fire, which has a most vehement flame." The allusion is   
    doubtless from the high priest of the Jews, in his spiritual   
    representation of the church before God. He had a breastplate   
    which he is said to wear on his heart, Exod. 28: 29, wherein   
    the names of the children of Israel were engraven, after the   
    manner of seals or signets, and he bare them for a memorial   
    before the Lord. He had the like also upon his shoulders, or   
    on his arms, verses 11, 12; both representing the priesthood   
    of Christ, who bears the names of all his before his Father in   
    the "holy of belies," Heb. 9: 24. Now the seal on the heart,   
    is near, inward, tender love and care, which gives an   
    impression and image on the heart of the thing so loved "Set   
    me," saith the spouse, "as a seal upon thine heart;" - "Let me   
    be constantly fixed in thy most tender and affectionate love;   
    let me always have a place in thine heart; let me have an   
    engraving, a mighty impression of love, upon thine heart, that   
    shall never be obliterated." The soul is never satisfied with   
    thoughts of Christ's love to it. "O that it were more, that it   
    were more! that I were as a seal on his heart!" is its   
    language. The soul knows, indeed, on serious thoughts, that   
    the love of Christ is inconceivable, and cannot be increased;   
    but it would fain work up itself to an apprehension of it: and   
    therefore she adds here, "Set me as a seal upon thine arm."   
    The heart is the fountain, but close and hidden; the arm is   
    manifestation and power. "Let," saith the spouse, "thy love be   
    manifested to me in thy tender and powerful persuasion of me."   
    Two things are evident in this request: - the continual   
    mindfulness of Christ of the soul, as having its condition   
    still in his eye, engraven on his arm, Isa. 49: 15, 16, with   
    the exalting of his power for the preservation of it, suitable   
    to the love of his heart unto it; and the manifestation of the   
    hidden love and care of the heart of Christ unto the soul,   
    being made visible on his arm, or evident by the fruit of it.   
    This is that which she would be assured of; and without a   
    sense whereof there is no rest to be obtained.    
        The reason she gives of this earnestness in her   
    supplications, is that which principally evinces her delight   
    in him: "Love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the   
    grave," or "hard as hell." This is the intendment of what is   
    so loftily set out by so many metaphors in this and the   
    following verse: - "I am not able to bear the workings of my   
    love to thee, unless I may always have society and fellowship   
    with thee. There is no satisfying of my love without it. It is   
    as the grave, that still says Give, give. Death is not   
    satisfied without its prey; if it have not all, it has   
    nothing: let what will happen, if death has not its whole   
    desire, it has nothing at all. Nor can it be withstood in its   
    appointed season; no ransom will be taken. So is my love; if I   
    have thee not wholly, I have nothing. Nor can all the world   
    bribe it to a diversion; it will he no more turned aside than   
    death in its time. Also, I am not able to bear my jealous   
    thoughts: I fear thou dost not love me, that thou hast   
    forsaken me; because I know I deserve not to be beloved. These   
    thoughts are hard as hell; they give no rest to my soul: if I   
    find not myself on thy heart and arm, I am as one that lies   
    down in a bed of coals." This also argues a holy greediness of   
        3. She farther manifests this by her solicitousness,   
    trouble, and perplexity, in his loss and withdrawings. Men   
    bewail the loss of that whose whole enjoyment they delight in;   
    we easily bear the absence of that whose presence is not   
    delightful. This state of the spouse is discovered, Cant. 3:   
    1-3, "By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I   
    sought him, but I found him not. I will rise now, and go about   
    the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him   
    whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. The   
    watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw   
    ye him whom my soul loveth?" It is night now with the soul, -   
    a time of darkness and trouble, or affliction. Whenever Christ   
    is absent, it is night with a believer. He is the sun; if he   
    go down upon them, if his beams be eclipsed, if in his light   
    they see no light, it is all darkness with them. Here, whether   
    the coming of the night of any trouble on her made her   
    discover Christ's absence, or the absence of Christ made it   
    night with her, is not expressed. I rather think the latter;   
    because, setting that aside, all things seem to be well with   
    her. The absence of Christ will indeed make it night, dark as   
    darkness itself, in the midst of all other glowing   
    consolations. But is the spouse contented with this   
    dispensation? She is upon her bed, - that is, of ease (the   
    bed, indeed, sometimes signifies tribulation, Rev. 2: 22; but   
    in this book, everywhere, rest and contentment: here is not   
    the least intimation of any tribulation but what is in the   
    want of Christ); but in the greatest peace and opportunity of   
    ease and rest, a believer finds none in the absence of Christ:   
    though he be on his bed, having nothing to disquiet him, he   
    rests not, if Christ, his rest, be not there. She "sought   
    him." Seeking of Christ by night, on the bed (that is, alone,   
    in immediate inquest, and in the dark), has two parts: -   
    searching of our own souls for the cause of his absence;   
    secondly, searching the promises for his presence.    
        (1.) The soul finding not Christ present in his wonted   
    manner, warming, cherishing, reviving it with love, nigh to   
    it, supping with it, always filling its thoughts with himself,   
    dropping myrrh and sweet tastes of love into it; but, on the   
    contrary, that other thoughts crowd in and perplex the heart,   
    and Christ is not nigh when inquired after; it presently   
    inquires into the cause of all this, calls itself to an   
    account what it has done, how it has behaved itself, that it   
    is not with it as at other times, - that Christ has withdrawn   
    himself, and is not nigh to it in the wonted manner. Here it   
    accomplishes a diligent search; it considers the love,   
    tenderness, and kindness of the Lord Jesus, what delight he   
    takes in abiding with his saints, so that his departure is not   
    without cause and provocation. "How," saith it, "have I   
    demeaned myself, that I have lost my Beloved? where have I   
    been wandering after other lovers?" And when the miscarriage   
    is found out, it abounds in revenge and indignation.    
        (2.) Having driven this to some issue, the soul applieth   
    itself to the promises of the covenant, wherein Christ is most   
    graciously exhibited unto it; considers one, ponders another,   
    to find a taste of him; - it considers diligently if it can   
    see the delightful countenance and favour of Christ in them or   
    no. But now, if (as it often falls out) the soul finds nothing   
    but the carcass, but the bare letter, in the promise, - if it   
    come to it as to the grave of Christ, of which it may be said   
    (not in itself, but in respect of the seeking soul), "He is   
    risen, he is not here," this amazes the soul, and it knows not   
    what to do. As a man that has a jewel of great price, having   
    no occasion to use it, lays it aside, as he supposes, in a   
    safe place; in an agony and extremity of want going to seek   
    for his jewel, he finds it not in the place he expected, and   
    is filled with amazement, and knows not what to do; - so is it   
    with this pearl of the gospel. After a man has sold all that   
    he has for it, and enjoyed it for a season, then to have it   
    missing at a time of need, it must needs perplex him. So was   
    it with the spouse here. "I sought him," saith she, "but I   
    found him not;" a thing which not seldom befalls us in our   
    communion with Christ.    
        But what does she now do? does she give over, and search   
    no more? Nay; but says she, verse 2, "'I will arise;' I will   
    not so give over. I must have Christ, or die. I will now   
    arise," (or, "let me arise,") "and go about this business."    
        [1.] She resolves to put herself upon another course, a   
    more vigorous inquest: "I will arise and make use of other   
    means besides those of private prayer, meditation,   
    self-searching, and inquiring into the promises;" which she   
    had insisted on before. It carries, -    
        1st. Resolution, and a zealous, violent casting off that   
    frame wherein she had lost her love. "'I a will arise;' I will   
    not rest in this frame: I am undone if I do." So, sometimes   
    God calls his church to arise and shake itself out of the   
    dust. Abide not in that condition.    
        2dly. Diligence. "I will now take another course; I will   
    leave no way unattempted, no means untried, whereby I may   
    possibly recover communion with my Beloved."    
        This is the condition of a soul that finds not the wonted   
    presence of Christ in its private and more retired inquiries,   
    - dull in prayer, wandering in meditations, rare in thoughts   
    of him, - "I will not bear this frame: whatever way God has   
    appointed, I will, in his strength, vigorously pursue, until   
    this frame be altered, and I find my Beloved."    
        [2.] Then the way she puts herself upon, as to go about   
    the city. Not to insist upon particulars, nor to strain the   
    parts of the allegory too far, the city here intended is the   
    city of God, the church; and the passing through the broad and   
    narrow streets, is the diligent inquiry that the spouse makes   
    in all the paths and ordinances given unto it. This, then, is   
    the next thing the soul addresses itself unto in the want of   
    Christ: - when it finds him not in any private endeavours, it   
    makes vigorous application to the ordinances of public   
    worship; in prayer, in preaching, in administration of the   
    seals, does it look after Christ. Indeed, the great inquiry   
    the souls of believers make, in every ordinance, is after   
    Christ. So much as they find of him, so much sweetness and   
    refreshment have they, and no more. Especially when under any   
    desertion, they rise up to this inquiry: they listen to every   
    word, to every prayer, to find if any thing of Christ, any   
    light from him, any life, any love, appears to them. "Oh, that   
    Christ would at length meet me in this or that sermon, and   
    recover my poor heart to some sight of his love, - to some   
    taste at kindness!" The solicitousness of a believer in his   
    inquest after Christ, when he finds not his presence, either   
    for grace or consolation, as in former days, is indeed   
    inexpressible. Much of the frame of such a heart is couched in   
    the redoubling of the expression, "I sought him, I sought   
    him;" setting out an inconceivable passion, and suitably   
    industrious desire. Thus, being disappointed at home, the   
    spouse proceeds.    
        But yet see the event of this also: "She sought him, but   
    found him not." It does sometimes so fall out, all will not   
    do: "They shall seek him, and not find him;" they shall not   
    come nigh him. Let them that enjoy any thing of the presence   
    of Christ take heed what they do; if they provoke him to   
    depart, if they lose him, it may cost them many a bitter   
    inquiry before they find him again. When a soul prays and   
    meditates, searches the promises in private; when it with   
    earnestness and diligence attends all ordinances in public,   
    and all to get one glimpse of the face of Jesus Christ, and   
    all in vain, it is a sad condition.    
        What now follows in this estate? Verse 3, "The watchmen   
    found me," etc. That these watchmen of the city of God are the   
    watchmen and officers of the church, is confessed. And it is   
    of sad consideration, that the Holy Ghost does sometimes in   
    this book take notice of them on no good account. Plainly,   
    chap. 5: 7, they turn persecutors. It was Luther's saying,   
    "Nunquam periclitatur religio nisi inter reverendissimos".   
    Here they are of a more gentle temper, and seeing the poor   
    disconsolate soul, they seem to take notice of her condition.    
        It is the duty, indeed, of faithful watchmen, to take   
    notice of poor, troubled, deserted souls; - not to keep at a   
    distance, but to be willing to assist. And a truly pressed   
    soul on the account of Christ's absence cannot cover its love,   
    but must be inquiring after him: "Saw ye him whom my soul   
    loveth?" - "This is my condition: I have had sweet enjoyment   
    of my blessed Jesus, - he is now withdrawn from me. Can you   
    help me? can you guide me to my consolation. What acquaintance   
    have you with him? when saw you him? how did he manifest   
    himself to you, and wherein?" All these labourings in his   
    absence sufficiently discover the soul's delight in the   
    presence of Christ. Go one step farther, to the discovery that   
    it made of him once again, and it will yet be more evident.   
    Verses 4, 5, "It was but a little that I passed from them, but   
    I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let   
    him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and   
    into the chamber of her that conceived me. I charge you, O ye   
    daughters of Jerusalem," etc.    
        First, She tells you how she came to him: "She found him;"   
    what ways and by what means is not expressed. It often so   
    falls out in our communion with Christ, when private and   
    public means fail, and the soul has nothing left but waiting   
    silently and walking humbly, Christ appears; that his so doing   
    may be evidently of grace. Let us not at any time give over in   
    this condition. When all ways are past, the summer and harvest   
    are gone without relief, - when neither bed nor watchmen can   
    assist, - let us wait a little, and we shall see the Salvation   
    of God. Christ honours his immediate absolute acting   
    sometimes, though ordinarily he crowns his ordinances Christ   
    often manifests himself immediately, and out of ordinances, to   
    them that wait for him in them; - that he will do so to them   
    that despise them, I know not. Though he will meet men   
    unexpectedly in his way, yet he will not meet them at all out   
    of it. Let us wait as he has appointed; let him appear as he   
    pleaseth. How she deals with him when found is neatly   
    declared: "She held him, and would not let him go," etc. They   
    are all expressions of the greatest joy and delight   
    imaginable. The sum is: - having at length come once more to   
    an enjoyment of sweet communion with Christ, the soul lays   
    fast hold on him by faith ("kratein", "to hold fast," is an   
    act of faith), refuses to part with him any more, in vehemency   
    of love, - tries to keep him in ordinances in the house of its   
    mother, the church of God; and so uses all means for the   
    confirming of the mutual love between Christ and her. All the   
    expressions, all the allusions used, evidencing delight to the   
    utmost capacity of the soul. Should I pursue all the instances   
    and testimonies that are given hereunto, in that one book of   
    the Song of Solomon, I must enter upon an exposition of the   
    greatest part of it; which is not my present business. Let the   
    hearts of the saints that are acquainted with these things be   
    allowed to make the close. What is it they long for, they   
    rejoice in? what is it that satisfies them to the utmost, and   
    gives sweet complacency to their spirits in every condition?   
    what is it whose loss they fear, whose absence they cannot   
    bear? Is it not this their Beloved, and he alone?    
        This, also, they farther manifest by their delight in   
    every thing that peculiarly belongs to Christ, as his, in this   
    world. This is an evidence of delight, when, for his sake whom   
    we delight in, we also delight in every thing that belongs to   
    him. Christ's great interest in this world lies in his people   
    and his ordinances, - his household and their provision. Now   
    in both these do the saints exceedingly delight, for his sake.   
    Take an instance in both kinds in one man, namely, David, Ps.   
    16: 3, "In the saints and the excellent" (or the noble) "of   
    the earth is all my delight; my delight in them." Christ says   
    of his church that she is "Hephzi-bah," Isa. 62, "My delight   
    in her." Here says David of the same, "Hephzi-bah, - "My   
    delight in them." As Christ delights in his saints, so do they   
    in one another, on his account. "Here," says David, "is all my   
    delight." Whatever contentment he took in any other persons,   
    it was nothing in comparison of the delight he took in them.   
    Hence, mention is made of "laying down our lives for the   
    brethren," or any common cause wherein the interest of the   
    community of the brethren does lie.    
        Secondly, For the ordinances, consider the same person.   
    Ps. 42, 84, and 48, are such plentiful testimonies throughout,   
    as we need no farther inquiring; nor shall I go forth to a new   
    discourse on this particular.    
        And this is the first mutual consequential act of conjugal   
    affection, in this communion between Christ and believers: -   
    he delights in them, and they delight in him. He delights in   
    their prosperity, has pleasure in it; they delight in his   
    honour and glory, and in his presence with them. For his sake   
    they delight in his servants (though by the world condemned)   
    as the most excellent in the world; and in his ordinances, as   
    the wisdom of God; - which are foolishness to the world.

    Owen, Of Communion With God
    (continued in File 13...)

    file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: owcom-12.txt