Christ and the Church (Song of Songs, 2:8-17)
On August the 14th 1836, Robert Murray M’Cheyne preached as a candidate for the vacancy at St Peter’s, Dundee. He was 23 years old. If you are tempted to have feelings of self-exaltation or spiritual pride, simply read this sermon. How could one so young be so well acquainted with the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ? The answer is clearly the sovereign grace of God. Yes, he was trained under Thomas Chalmers, but clearly it was a time of significant blessing upon the church in Scotland, with many other preachers of the same warm Calvinistic view in the 19th Century. Oh that the Lord would revive his church in Scotland and elsewhere again.
He began this sermon by giving it the title “The Voice of my Beloved” from The Song of Songs 2:8-17 and he took the reformed orthodox line of it speaking of Christ and the church. My title for today from the same passage is “Christ and the Church”. They must have liked M’Cheyne’s trial sermon, because he was inducted a few months later as their minister in November 1836.
However, this was his opening sentence for that sermon:
“There is no book of the Bible which affords a better test of the depth of a man’s Christianity than the Song of Solomon”.
I agree, do you?
M’Cheyne died age 29, just short of his 30th birthday of typhoid. He was a burning and shining light. However, we must never put preachers on a pedestal, something only reserved for the head of the church the Lord Jesus Christ. We give honour to the Lord’s servants, but without flattery or by looking at man unduly. When Robert was a young man, he was tempted to do this with Jonathan Edwards whom he read and then he wrote in his diary:
“Read part of Jonathan Edwards. How feeble does my spark of Christianity appear beside such a sun! But even his was borrowed light, and the same source is still open to enlighten me”. If we are tempted as M’Cheyne was, may we remember that the Lord Jesus is the true light, he is the light of the world and may we be only fixed upon him for salvation, blessing and truth. He is the unchangeable Master who sticks closer than a brother, whose interpretation is infallible, whose promisees are unbreakable, who alone can be fully trusted with our lives.
2. The Church (Believer)
Song of Songs 2:8-17
The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, there he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, looking through the lattice. My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
The fig tree ripens its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away. O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.
Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”
My beloved is mine, and I am his; he grazes among the lilies. Until the day breathes and the shadows flee, turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle or a young stag on cleft mountains