Reverses and New Hopes for the Church.

THE CHURCH IN DIFFICULTIES. — V. 1. By night on my bed I sought Him whom my soul loveth, she contemplated ways and means of finding Him whom she had apparently lost; I sought Him, but I found Him not, the Lord’s visitation of grace had seemingly come to an end. V. 2. I will rise now and go about the city in the streets, on the marketplaces, and in the broad ways, the chief avenues of the city; I will seek Him whom my soul loveth. I sought Him, but I found Him not. V. 3. The watchmen that go about the city, the nightly guardians of the public safety, found me; to whom I said, Saw ye Him whom my soul loveth? literally, “Whom my soul loves, have ye seen?” the question being inserted without introduction, even without the common particle of questioning, to show the extreme anxiety of her heart. V. 4. It was but a little that I passed from them, she had scarcely passed from the watchmen, but I found Him whom my soul loveth; I held Him, grasping Him in an eager embrace, 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, that being the thought which she had, to lead her Bridegroom into the women’s apartments, to open her home and her heart to Him. V. 5. I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, the gazelles, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up nor awake My love till he please, “till it please,” chap. 2, 7, for the words are evidently those of the Bridegroom, who in His joy over this renewed proof of the bride’s love, has her comfort and encouragement in mind.

The Church Militant is here described as she appears in the midst of the storms, battles, and trials of this world. Night has fallen after the beautiful spring day described in the previous section, and the Church is surrounded by so many and such grievous difficulties that she deems herself forsaken by the Lord. He, on His part, hides His mercy for a while, in order to stimulate her to the most careful search. She finds nothing but empty spaces, a dead religion of works, a spiritless piety, many and serious offenses. Even the watchmen, the leaders of the Church, are infected with the general lethargy and take no interest in the search for the Lord, in a living Christianity. History shows that this condition obtained more than once, not only in the ancient Church, but in the modern as well. But the Lord has not utterly forsaken His bride; He permits Himself to be found, He turns back His countenance in mercy to His Church. His conduct thus stimulates the faith and love of the Church, and she declares her allegiance to Him in terms of the highest affection, while lie, on His part, grants her a period of rest and refreshment, lest she be tempted above that she is able, 1 Cor. 10, 13.

THE CHURCH’S VICTORIOUS PROGRESS. — V.6. Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness, ascending from the lower level of a wilderness to the city set on a mountain, like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant? The cavalcade of Shulamith is preceded and followed by clouds of perfumed smoke, which mark her progress. V. 7. Behold His bed, the traveling litter, howdah, or palanquin, such as are used in the Orient for long journeys, which is Solomon’s, which the Bridegroom has placed at the disposal of His bride; threescore valiant men are about it, as a protecting body-guard, of the valiant of Israel. V. 8. They all hold swords, being expert in war, skillful in the use of their weapons; every man hath his sword upon his thigh, ready for immediate use, because of fear in the night, lest any danger come near enough to the bride to disturb her rest. V. 9. King Solomon made himself a chariot, a bridal wagon or sedan-chair, of the wood of Lebanon, of the finest cedar-wood. V. 10. He made the pillars thereof of silver, designed chiefly as ornaments, but supporting the canopy, the bottom thereof, that is, the floor, of gold, the covering of it, fine hangings or tapestries, of purple, the midst thereof being paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem, that is, its interior, the sides and the top of the finest material, being embroidered by the women of Jerusalem, as a labor of love. V. 11. Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him In the day of his espousals and in the day of the gladness of his heart.

Here the Church is pictured, not as she usually appears to the casual beholder, but as she is in reality in the sight of the Lord. She is moving forward and upward through the wilderness of this world to the eternal City above, a great multitude from all nations and tongues and peoples. She is surrounded by a cloud of prayers, expressing her steadfast confession of faith, her patience in suffering, and her work in love, a sweet savor in the nostrils of the Lord. And the Lord has provided an appropriate conveyance for her, a bridal wagon of singular beauty, surrounded by His mighty, ministering heroes, the angels of His power. Yea, more; for every one who belongs to the army of the bride He has a special chariot, in which He has the soul of His believers carried into the eternal home of heaven. There each believer serves as a jewel, enhancing the beauty of the King, and all the believers together will be a diadem, a crown of beauty, when the marriage of the Lamb is celebrated and we behold His glory, world without end.