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"And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber
mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.?
Matt. ix. 15.
This word occurs twelve times; applied to Jesus in five instances. He is also probably intended in the parable of the Ten Virgins.
Some have mantained that the Saviour is intended in the highly figurative and singular book of Canticles, or Song of Solomon: that a spiritual union or marriage is pointed out there between him and the Christian church. At some periods in ecclesiastical history, such an opinion has been generally received, and by many fondly cherished; insomuch that it has been carried to such an extreme that a great scandal has been brought on the religion of Jesus. Others, may, by diligent research or fanciful interpretation, find the Saviour here amidst allegory and eastern metaphor, but the writer believes that the author had no such personage in view.
He does not mean, however, to reject the work, but desires that it should stand in its appropriate place, and be applied to the subjects it was designed to illustrate. *
* "It is curious,' says a critic, 'to see the manner in which many preachers and commentators attempt to expound this Book. They first assume that the Book refers to Christ and His Church; His union with human nature ; His adoption of the Gentiles; and His everlast
The same kind of union that seems to exist between Christ and mankind is represented as existing between God and his children :
For thy husband is thy Maker,
Isa. liv. 5, 6. And another passage in the form of a comparison :
For as a young man weddeth a virgin,
Isa. lxii. 5. The same image a little diversified, and with greater freedom of expression, as better adapted to the display of indignation, is introduced by Jeremiah (ii. 2. iii. 1. ing love to elect souls, gathered out of both people: then take the words bride, bridegroom, spouse, love, watchman, shepherds, tents, door, lock, &c., &c., and finding some words either similar or parallel, in other parts of the Sacred Writings, which have there an allegorical meaning, contend that those here are to be similarly understood; and what is spoken of those apply to these ; and thus, in fact, are explain. ing other passages in Scripture in their own way, while professing to explain the Canticles !' "One minister preaches one hundred and twenty-two sermons upon the Song of Solomon. An aged minister once told me, in a very solemn manner, that as God had been exceedingly merciful to him in saving his soul, and putting him in the ministry, thus accounting him faithful, he hoped that when called to the Church above, if any funeral-sermon were preached for him, it should be from Canticles, chap. i, ver. 8, Go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents.' 'I advise,' continues this critic, all young Ministers to avoid preaching on Solomon's Song. If they take a text out of it, to proclaim salvation to lost sinners, they must borrow their doctrines from other portions of Scripture, where all is plain and pointed. And why then leave such, and go out of their way to find allegorical meanings, taking a whole book by storm, and leaving the word of God to serve tables !'
&c.) when he declaims against the defection of the Jews from the worship of the true God. When we add that this imagery is employed by John the Baptist, (John iii. 29.,) by St. Paul, (2 Cor. xi. 2.,) by the Revelator, (Rev. xxi. 9.,) and by Jesus himself in the motto, we see that the title becomes very important.
John the Baptist, it will be seen, distinguishes himself as 'the friend of the bridegroom.'*
We think it unnecessary to dwell longer on a title where the meaning must be obvious to every intelligent reader. The only questionable point is respecting the application. But from a review of the whole subject, we think we must consider Jesus as married to the whole human race. The connection was formed by God himself, the Author of the institution of marriage. Some, we are aware, would spiritualize here to a great extent: As the woman was made for the man, so the human race were made for Jesus; as the Bridegroom is the head, so Jesus is the head of
every man;' as the bride must submit, so must the human race; as there are duties on both sides, so in this heavenly connection. Much may be said in this strain, but then the question might return whether all this was intended.
In conclusion, for our comfort, it may be borne in mind, that this connection cannot be severed by death, which breaks up all other ties. The bridegroom is gone into heaven. We must follow him, and be with him forever.
* Christ is the bridegroom, the church or his genuine disciples, the bride; the ministers of the gospel, Shoshbeenim, whose great and important duty it is, to present to the bridegroom a pure and uncontaminated virgin, i. e. a church without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.'-- Clarke, Com. on John iii. 29.
XIII. BRIGHTNESS OF THE FATHER'S
"Who being the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express
image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.'
Heb. i. 3.
This beautiful title is in no other instance applied to the Saviour of the world. A similar form of expression is found, however, in one of the apocryphal books. In extolling the charms of wisdom, the author breaks forth in the following strain :-She is the brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of his good
Dr. Clarke presents the motto in a circumlocutory phrase :- The resplendent out-beaming of the essential glory of God.'
We are to understand by the title, that in Jesus we behold the brightest exhibition of the glory of God that was ever made to our race. It is well expressed by the Apostle: 'For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.'t
A few remarks on the glory of God may not be inappropriate. In the writings of Moses, it significs generally the Divine Presence. I In other instances, * Wisdom vii. 26. | 2 Cor. iv. 6. $ Exod. xxiv. 16, 17.
it appears to have a still higher meaning. For instance, the Leader of Israel, at one time, earnestly desired God to show him his glory. The reply was, 'I will make all my goodness pass before thee.'*
Several times Jesus alludes to the glory of Him who sent him. He presents a test to prove the purity of his heart and the authority of his mission :- He that speaketh of himself, seeketh his own glory; but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.'t But we shall find at the
of Lazarus one of the most remarkable displays of divine glory that was exhibited during the lifetime of our blessed Lord. When told of his illness, he said, 'This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God.' *** While at the grave, Martha seems to express doubts respecting the possibility of bringing forth her brother from the dead. Jesus replies, 'Said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldst see the glory of God ?? It was on the same occasion, too, that Jesus made that bold and triumphant declaration :-'I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.'I
It would seem then that God's glory was manifested in the resurrection of Lazarus to a temporary existence, and of course, to all the ills of life. Admitting this, there must certainly be a far greater glory in raising all mankind to a state of incorruptibility and everlasting enjoyment.
Jesus then is the brightness of the Father's glory. In him, we behold the moral excellencies that dwell in the Deity. God has indeed, come sensibly near to
Exod. xxxiii. 18—23.
† John vii. 18.
| John xi. 1–46.