Imatges de pÓgina
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which issued from the Cross to draw each one of them unto itself! What a twofold revelation of cold unwillingness and of divine charity! "I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love." With the cords of Adam, with the sacred manhood of the Word made flesh, with the tenderness, pity, meekness, sympathy of our crucified Lord and God. Truly these are "cords of man and bands. of love;" of love "which passeth knowledge," whose goings forth are from everlasting; whose virtues are infinite, whose patience is eternal. From every wound of His Divine manhood issues forth, as it were, a radiance of love, drawing the hearts of His elect into the fellowship of His passion. All through our life this effluence of grace has been shed abroad upon us; even in our sins, in our unconscious and turbulent worldliness, restraining, preventing, and at last converting us to Himself. Ever since that day, virtue and holy inspirations have gone out of Him, silently persuading and secretly attracting us nearer and nearer to the foot of the Cross. Even in our coldness, reluctance, relapses, He still held us fast. He knew us better than we knew ourselves, and the bands of love were still wound about us by His tender care. Little by little He has brought us where we stand now: between Him and us, if we

1 Hosea xi. 4.

believe, there is but a veil, impervious to sight, to faith as open as the day. Happy they whom He has drawn to the horizon of this visible world, and there bid them wait in sustained and ripening preparation until their time shall come. Let us, then, say unto Him, "Lord, Thy cross is high and lifted up; I cannot in my own strength ascend it; but Thou hast promised, 'I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me." Draw me, then, from my sins to repentance, from darkness to faith, from the flesh to the spirit, from coldness to ardent devotion, from weak beginnings to a perfect end, from smooth and open ways, if it be Thy will, to higher and holier paths; from fear to love, from earth to heaven, from myself to Thee. And as Thou hast said, 'No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him," give unto me the Spirit whom the Father hath sent in Thy Name, that in Him and through Him I being wholly drawn may hasten unto Thee, and 'go no more out' for ever."

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SERMON XXII.

THE GREAT BETROTHAL.

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SONG OF SOLOMON ii. 16.

'My Beloved is mine, and I am Hiз.”

We need not go into the literal and historical interpretation of this Song of Songs. It is enough to know that "a greater than Solomon is here." It is a vision and a prophecy of one "falling into a trance, but having his eyes open;"1 conscious, and not conscious; seeing, and not seeing, how great things he foreshadowed and spake. It is verily and indeed the song of Him who "loved" His spouse "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." This song is the in2 Ephes. v. 25-27.

1 Numbers xxiv. 16.

effable communion of the Bridegroom and Bride, both in this wayfaring upon earth, and at the marriage supper of the Lamb. It utters, in human words, and by human figures and emotions, because spoken by man and addressed to man, things which surpass not only words but knowledge; realities of the spiritual world, the instincts, energies, and consciousness of the soul. For these what language is deep or fine enough? what ear or eye can attain to those things which even the heart of man hath not conceived? They can be perceived only by the intuitions of the Spirit, and by a power of vision granted to us by God.

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Such is the mystery of peace here expressed. My Beloved is mine, and I am His." High as these words are, yet they are for all. Not only might His chosen disciple so speak, but the stained and penitent Magdalene, "for she loved much." Wonderful is His pity and compassion: the least may say this with the greatest. Even now in measure, as hereafter; for in the firmament of His kingdom, though "one star differeth from another star in glory," yet all are bright and pure some burning with a ruddy and glorious light, in might and splendour; some pale and meek, in purity and softness; but all are hallowed, sainted, and beloved.

Let us see, then, what these few deep words

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may mean. They express the bond or hold of love between Christ and His elect, whether they be saints or penitents, and they fasten it by a twofold strength. My Beloved is mine;" and not this alone, but "I am His." At first sight these words might seem to change the order of love given by St. John, "We love Him, because He first loved us;" but it does not. The order is eternal, laid deep in the bosom of God, and cannot be changed. What, then, do these words express? They teach us:

First, that He is ours in the very sense in which we speak of our father or our child, our life or our own soul. There is nothing we possess, either without or within our inmost being, which is more our own than He is. He is our Maker, our Redeemer, our Helper, our Light, our Daily Bread, our Hope, and our Portion for ever. We may be stripped naked of all other things which are most our own; but of Him we can never be deprived, except we cast Him away. And how has He be

come ours? Not by deserving or earning, by finding or seeking; not by climbing up to Him, or taking Him for ours; but because He gave Himself to us. He gave us His truth, His holy sacraments, His promises; He gave us sight, power, reason, and life; and because He gave them, they are ours; ours in full, as if there were no other regenerate soul, no other illuminated heart, no other

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