This kinship amounts to unity, insomuch that the spouse loses her name, loses her identity, and, to a high degree, is merged in the greater personality to which she is united. Such is our union to Christ, if indeed we be His, that nothing can so well set it forth as marriage union.
He loves us so much that He taken us up into Himself by the absorption of love. I will even betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord. The security of the people of God in consequence of being what they are. Are her secret thoughts, and loves, and desires like cool streams of water? The legend hath it that there were fountains which none knew of but Solomon, and he had so shut them up that, with his ring he touched a secret spring, a door opened, and living waters leaped out to fill his jewelled cup.
No one knew but Solomon the secret charm by which he set flowing the pent-up stream, of which no lip drank but his own. Are you really in Christ? If so, who is to pluck you thence? Are you really trusting Him? How can He fail you? Have you been begotten again into the Divine family? How can that new life be quenched? The Church is a separate and distinct thing from the world. We are not to adopt a peculiar dress, or a singular mode of speech, or shut ourselves out of society. He did not so; but He was a man of the people, mixing with them for their good.
He neither wore phylacteries, nor enlarged the borders of his garments, nor sought a secluded cell, nor exhibited any eccentricity of manner. He was separate from sinners only because He was holy and harmless, and they were not. The Church is to be a garden, walled, taken out of the common, and made a separate and select plot of ground.
She is to be a spring shut up, and a fountain sealed, no longer open to the fowl of the air, and the beasts of the field. The text bears even more forcibly another idea, namely, that of reservation. Why, that nobody may come into that garden, to eat the fruit thereof, but the Lord Himself. In such a garden as the text speaks of, every plant bears flowers for its owner, every tree yields fruit for him. No one among us may dare to live unto himself, even in the refined way in which many are doing it, who even try to win souls that they may have the credit of being zealous and successful.
We may so far degenerate as even to attempt to glorify Christ that we may have the credit of glorifying Him. It will not do. We must be truly, thoroughly, really living for Jesus: we must be a garden inclosed, reserved, shut up for Him. The wall must wholly inclose the garden, for a gap anywhere will admit an intruder everywhere.
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If one part of our being be left under the dominion of sin, it will show its power everywhere. The spring must be sealed at the very source, that every drop may be for Jesus throughout the whole of its course. Our first thoughts, desires, and must wishes be His, and then all our words and deeds. The history of this garden of gardens falls into four chapters The common ground.
That beautiful garden was once a bit of heath or moorland, over which the beasts ranged. In its natural state it was worthless. About one hundred years ago the finest garden in the world was the palace-garden of Versailles. But when the French king chose the spot it was a marshy moor. It cost twenty-five years of toil and forty millions of money to change it into the royal garden. And every garden was a waste till the busy hand of cultivation clothed it with various beauties. And are not greater wonders wrought in the soul reclaimed front the outfield of the world?
The ground cultivated, or the garden. It must first be inclosed. The soil must next be broken up. What hard and rough work is the digging, the trenching, and the uprooting! But as the confusion in our gardens in spring does not discourage us, so we should not be discouraged by those sorrows that belong to the cultivation of the soul. Fill mind and memory with the delightful truths of the Bible, and let them sink deep, that, seed-like, they may swell, and sprout, and bring forth fruits and flowers of choicest perfume and colour.
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And you must be ever tending them, for to let your garden alone is to spoil all. That philosopher, famed for his contentment, was right, who, when asked by a friend to show him the splendid garden of which he was always boasting, led him into a bare, rocky space behind his house. Every good gift in the garden really comes from above; for should God command the clouds to rain no rain, the earth would soon be as iron.
Heaven shields, broods over, and enriches every fruitful sod. It is a great truth that Paul planteth and Apollos watereth, but God giveth the increase. The garden neglected. The garden well kept. Solomon gives a picture of what your soul should be, and Isaiah of what it should not be. But the garden in the Song was stocked with all rich and beautiful things. It gave pleasure to every sense: its fine forms and colours gladdened the eye, its ripe fruits gratified the palate, its exquisite perfumes gave delight, and its leaves yielded an additional joy by their agreeable shade.
A holy soul is compared to such a garden. It is the most beautiful thing in the world, a paradise of heaven on earth. The answer is, by good cultivation; and that is the work of God and man. I remember visiting in spring a poor widow residing in a miserable corner of the city. Her soul was a garden of God. On the window-sill she had some flowers in jelly-dishes and spoutless teapots--a touching proof of that love of the country which city life wakens in all but the broken-hearted.
I took notice of the flowers. And my soul does the very same if it is not always watered with the grace of God. James Wells. There are two works of the Holy Spirit within us. The first is when He puts into us the living waters; the next is when He enables us to pour forth streams of the same living waters in our daily life.
The Spirit of God first implants in us the new nature. This is His work--to regenerate us, to put into us the new principle, the life of God in Christ. Then next, He gives us power to send forth that life in gracious emanations of holiness of life, of devoutness of communion with God, of likeness to Christ, of conformity to His image.
The streams are as much of the Holy Spirit as the fountain itself. He digs the well, and He afterwards with heavenly rain fills the pools. He first of all makes the stream in the desert to flow from the flinty rock, and afterwards out of His infinite supplies He feeds the stream and bids it follow us all our days. Now, we think the first verse, to a great extent, sets forth the secret and mysterious work of the Holy Spirit in the creation of the new man in the soul.
Into this secret no eye of man can look. The inner life in the Christian may well be compared to an inclosed garden--to a spring shut up--to a fountain sealed. But the second verse sets forth the manifest effects of grace, for no sooner is that life given than it begins to show itself. The first is the blessedness which he receives in himself; the next is the blessedness which he diffuses to others. With regard to the first text, you will clearly perceive that in each of the three metaphors you have very plainly the idea of secrecy.
There is a garden. A garden is a place where trees have been planted by a skilful hand; where they are nurtured with care, and where fruit is expected by its owner. Such is the Church; such is each renewed soul.
The Church--and mark, when I say the Church, the same is true of each individual Christian--is set forth next as a spring. Not a mere cistern, which contains only, but a fresh spring, which through an inward principle within, begets, continues, overflows. But then, it is a spring shut up: just as there were springs in the East, over which an edifice was built, so that none could reach the springs save those who knew the secret entrance.
So is the heart of a believer when it is renewed by grace; there is a mysterious life within which no human skill can touch. And then, it is said to be a fountain; but it is a fountain sealed. The outward stones may be discovered, but the door is sealed, so that no man can get into the hidden springs; they are altogether hidden, and hidden too by a royal will and decree of which the seal is the emblem. I say the idea is very much that of secrecy.
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Now, such is the inner life of the Christian. It is a secret which no other man knoweth, nay, which the very man who is the possessor of it cannot tell to his neighbour. A second thought is written upon the surface of the text.
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Here you see not only secrecy, but separation. That also runs through the three figures.
It is a garden, but it is a garden inclosed--altogether shut out from the surrounding heaths and commons, inclosed with briars and hedged with thorns, which are impassable by the wild beasts. There is a gate through which the Great Husbandman Himself can come; but there is also a gate which shuts out all those who would only rob the keeper of the vineyard of His rightful fruit. There is separation in the spring also.
It is not the common spring, of which every passer-by may drink; it is one so kept and preserved distinct from men, that no lip may touch, no eye may even see its secret. It is a something which the stranger intermeddleth not with; it is a life which the world cannot give and cannot take away. All through, you see, there is a separateness, a distinctness. So is it with the spiritual life.
It is a separate thing. Be ye, O ye children of Christ, as chaste virgins kept alone for Christ. In the third place, you have in the text the idea of sacredness. The garden inclosed is walled up that it may be sacred to its owner; the spring shut up is preserved for the use of some special person; and the fountain sealed more eminently still bears the mark of being sacred to some distinguished personage. It is a spring kept for Christ.
Oh, I would that it were always so. Oh, how sure and safe is the inner life of the believer. How can earthly trials reach the spirit? As well might a man try to strike a soul with a stone, as to destroy a spirit with afflictions. I think in looking at the text you receive the thought of unity.
Song of Solomon 4:12
So the inner life of the Christian is but one. If you could imagine two bodies quickened by the very same mind, what a close connection would that be! But here are hundreds of bodies, hundreds of souls, quickened by the self-same Spirit. Brethren, indeed not only ought we to love one another, but the love of Christ constraineth us, so that we cannot resist the impulse; we do love each other in Christ Jesus.
I shall now try to open the second text, which presents a decided contrast, because it deals not so much with the inner life as with the active life which goes abroad into all the deeds of the Christian in the world, and is the natural outgoing of the life within. First, notice that in contradistinction to our first thought of secrecy you have in the text manifestation. Now, brethren, this is what you and I ought to be. No man ought to court publicity for his virtue, or notoriety for his zeal; but, at the same time, it is a sin to be always seeking to hide that which God has bestowed upon us for the good of others.
The inner life is secret--mind that you have this inner mystery; but out of the secret emanates the manifest; the darkness becomes the mother of light; from the dark mines comes the blazing coal.
My Love is a Garden Enclosed
But clearly enough, again, we have in the second text, in opposition to the separation of the first, diffusiveness. So a Christian is to be separate in his inner life; but in the outer manifestations of that inner life, he is to mingle for good among his fellow-men. We must let the streams flow abroad; we must seek to give to others what Christ has given to us. There the bird wets its wings; there the red deer comes to drink; and even that wild beast of Lebanon, of which we read in the Book of the Kings, comes there, and without let or hindrance slakes its thirst.
What can be finer than the rivulet singing with liquid notes adown the glen? It belongs to no one; it is free to all. Whosoever passeth by, be he peer or peasant, may stoop there and refresh himself from the mountain-stream. So be it with you, Christian. Carry about with you-a piety which you do not wish to keep for yourself. A light loses none of its own lustre when others are lit as its flame.
We must be hidden springs within, but let us be sweetly flowing rivulets without, giving drink to every, passer-by. And notice that, while we had in the other text the idea of security, in connection with that we have here in this text the idea of approach. The garden was shut up--that was to keep it. There are no walls here, so that all may come to it.
The streams were shut up before; here it is an open well. The fountain was sealed in the first verse; here it is a flowing stream, which is to teach us this--that the way God keeps His people in security is not by shutting out their enemies from attacking them, but while laying them open to temptation and attack, He yet sustains them. And last of all, in opposition to the unity of which I spake, we have in our second text great diversity. So a Christian is to do good in all sorts of ways, and his fruits are to be of many kinds; he is to be like the trees of Paradise, which bear twelve manner of fruits.
The Christian is to have all sorts of graces. Oh t if the fountain, the secret fountain, were better seen to, I think there would be more of these outward streams; and if the sealed well were better guarded, we should see more of these rapid streams from Lebanon, which would make glad the people of God, and the world at large. It is a sacred inclosure. For protection--against the many foes that would injure it. For enjoyment--Christ has a right to witness its beauties and enjoy its fruits.
The means by which it is inclosed. By sovereign electing grace--this sweeps round His Church as a boundary line--grand, comprehensive, invisible. By the ministrations of angels--these are its guardians,, servants, etc. By Christian ordinances-baptism, the seal of separation. By Christian doctrine--no man can be a Christian without believing some fundamental doctrines. Elder, D. Text Courtesy of BibleSupport. Used by Permission. Bibliography Exell, Joseph S. The Biblical Illustrator.
New York. A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse , At a little distance from Bethlehem are pools of water, and below these runs a narrow rocky valley, enclosed on both sides with high mountains which the friars, as Mr. Now the church may be thus compared, because of the abundance of grace in her, and in each of her members, which is as a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life, John ; and because of the doctrines of the Gospel, called a fountain, Joel ; with which Gospel ministers water the plants in Christ's garden, the members of the church; whereby they are revived, refreshed, and flourish; and their souls become as a watered garden, whose springs fail not.
Though some read this clause in connection with the former; "a garden enclosed art thou , with a spring" or flow of water "shut up, and with a fountain sealed" F9 "Cum fluctu obserato, cum fonte obsignato", Marckius, so some in Michaelis. Yoma, fol. Christian Standard Bible My sister, my bride, you are a locked garden--a locked garden and a sealed spring.
Contemporary English Version My bride, my very own, you are a garden, a fountain closed off to all others. Good News Translation My sweetheart, my bride, is a secret garden, a walled garden, a private spring; Holman Christian Standard Bible My sister, my bride, you are a locked garden-- a locked garden and a sealed spring. International Standard Version My sister, my bride, is a locked garden a locked rock garden, a sealed up spring. NET Bible You are a locked garden, my sister, my bride; you are an enclosed spring, a sealed-up fountain. New Heart English Bible A locked up garden is my sister, my bride; a locked up spring, a sealed fountain.
Jubilee Bible A closed garden is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. King James Bible A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. American King James Version A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. American Standard Version A garden shut up is my sister, my bride; A spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Brenton Septuagint Translation My sister, my spouse is a garden enclosed; a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed.
Douay-Rheims Bible My sister, my spouse, is a garden enclosed, a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up. Darby Bible Translation A garden enclosed is my sister, [my] spouse; A spring shut up, a fountain sealed. English Revised Version A garden shut up is my sister, my bride; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Webster's Bible Translation A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. World English Bible A locked up garden is my sister, my bride; a locked up spring, a sealed fountain.
Young's Literal Translation A garden shut up is my sister-spouse, A spring shut up -- a fountain sealed. Genesis When all the flocks had been gathered there, the shepherds would roll away the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep.