(A letter to a woman on her wedding day)
To E. M. October 31, 1849.
(To be received, “if the Lord wills,” on her wedding-day)
“I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as Lord.” Hosea 2:19-20
And why does dear sister wish for a line from the humble, unworthy Gleaner, when so many tender sensations will be thrilling round her heart? Is it that she thereby desires to forsake all, (even when her net is drawn to shore right full of mercies, (Luke 5:6-11)) and follow Jesus only? Is it that she longs, on the very day she receives her earthly bridegroom, to give him back to the Lord, and, embracing her heavenly One, to become so absorbed in Him that He shall ever be between her soul and her heart’s best earthly love? If thus it be with her, the Gleaner’s heart warmly says, Amen! and may the Lord say so too.
Dear Miss —, as you have requested me to send you a line at this season, it would be unseemly in me to withhold it, but I humbly confess that it is not in me to write what you desire. Therefore, let us look up to the dear Testifier of Jesus, that under His Divine anointing our meditation of Him may be sweet.
It is as the heavenly Lover and Bridegroom of His people that we love to think of Him. Oh, what a contrast to the very best earthly husband! They love and choose because of something congenial and pleasing in their wives, and in hope of a faithful return of affection. But He, our wondrous Husband–loved, chose, and determined to betroth and espouse unto Himself, in the certain fore-view of debt, disgrace, and sin; ah! and of unchaste wanderings too, for He says, “Well do I know how treacherous you are; you were called a rebel from birth.” Yet, throughall He loved His people, and from all He has redeemed them with His own precious blood. When His spouse “has played the harlot with many lovers,” His marvelous language is, “Return, for I am married unto you,” thereby overcoming His faithless one with the very love which she has slighted—a love, indeed, beyond comparison! May its fires afresh be kindled in your soul, that you may now count all things but loss, yes even as rubbish, for the sake of such a Beloved.
Did Jacob serve seven years for his Rachel–by day in the heat, and by night in the frost–and did they seem but as a day unto him–for the love he had to her? Our spiritual Jacob has far exceeded him! He left the throne of His glory for His poor Rachel, and took her humble flesh in the form of a servant; and for her sake served thirty-three years under the Law! He bore the heat of temptation, weariness, and thirst; as well as the cold of reproach and scorn, and the malice of sinners against Himself. This He thought not too much; for when He had finished the work on her behalf, for her He cheerfully entered upon the most bitter part of His sufferings, which made even His mighty heart to shudder with agony, while His dear lips prayed–“O my Father, if it is possible, (with the rescue of my Bride) let this cup of suffering be taken away from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
Behold the depth of His unflinching love! The ‘cup of curse’ must be drunk, or the captive Bride must perish! And so He takes the bitter cup, and does not turn away until every dreg is consumed! And the same sacred lips which emptied it could say in triumph, “It is finished!”
For the joy that was set before Him (of possessing His beloved bride) He endured the cross, despising the shame, and has now sat down at the right hand of God, until the blissful consummation before assembled worlds, when it will be joyfully proclaimed, “The marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready!”
Then shall the spiritual Jacob and His Rachel meet and embrace, and part no more forever! She awaking up after His likeness, shall be satisfied! And He seeing her in glory, (the very travail of His soul,) shall be satisfied likewise! “May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it!” Ephes. 3:17-19
“Haste, blissful dawn of endless day,
When sin shall cease, and death shall die,
And Christ His glory shall display,
And beam upon our longing eye!
“Then, wrapped in everlasting bliss,
‘Midst heaven’s innumerable throng,
His love shall all our powers employ,
And be the theme of every song!”
Wonder, O heavens! and be astonished, O earth! that this most glorious Immanuel, the Prince of Peace, whom angels worship, and before whom the seraphim bow–should from all eternity engage to come and seek His Bride from this poor world, and claim her for His own! Yet so it is!
But she is filthy and polluted! (Ezek. 16:6; Job 15:14-16; Isa. 64:6) Then His own precious veins shall pour forth the rich crimson flood to cleanse her, (Rev. 1:5) and His Spirit shall open the fountain to her for her sin and uncleanness. (Zech. 13:1)
But she is naked and bare! (Ezek. 16:22) Then He will cast His skirt over her, (Ezek. 16:8) and will for her, weave in the loom of the Law (Rom. 5:19) fine linen–clean and white–a robe in which she shall be fit to appear at His court. Moreover the Spirit shall bring near the righteousness of Jesus, (Isa. 46:13) clothing her with “the garments of salvation,” and covering her with the “robe of righteousness,” “as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
But she is diseased! (Isa. 1:5, 6) She is a leper! (Ps. 51:5) Yet will He bring her health and cure, for He says, “I am the Lord who heals you;” and He is actually made to be sin for her, (2 Cor. 5:21) that she might be made “the righteousness of God in Him.”
But she has no personal charms—she is ugly! Then He will put His loveliness upon her, and through it her beauty shall be perfect.
But she is poor! So He bestows Himself and His fullness upon her–and thus endows her with unsearchable riches!
But she is unwilling, and has no heart to the match, for she obeys a hostile prince! (Eph. 2:2,3) Her delights, too, are in the world and the flesh. A new heart will He give her, and a right spirit will He put within her. The Holy Spirit shall make her willing in the day of His power. “I will cause you to forget your images of Baal; even their names will no longer be spoken.” (Hosea 2:17) So that, prostrate at His feet, she shall say, “Lord, our God, other lords than You have ruled over us, but we remember Your name alone!”
And now that the Spirit has touched her heart, she feels she is diseased, and discovers her filthiness (Rom. 7:8, 9, 18) and nakedness, knows she is ugly and poor, and cannot think the Bridegroom’s heart is towards her, or that she can find favor in His eyes. And therefore she cries out, “I am black!” “Behold, I am vile!” My loveliness has turned into corruption! But He overwhelms her by responding, “You are all beautiful, my love, there is no spot in you!”
Then she exclaims, “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame!” He replies, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!”
Now she ventures, with a captivated heart, to declare, “My Beloved is mine, and I am His! He is the chief among ten thousand! He is altogether lovely!”
Thus do the matters of this marvelous betrothment and union go on, “which things the angels desire to look into,” and devils desire to defeat. The first desire shall be blessedly gratified; (Eph. 3:10) but the other shall be disappointed, for none shall be able to pluck His beloved one out of His hands; and against her the gates of hell shall never prevail. Praise Him forever for such love as this!
Well may it be asked, Who is this wondrous Beloved, who would go to such depths for His spouse; and on whom the weak one is leaning as she comes up out of the wilderness?
Ah! He is the same who, from all eternity, was the great “I Am!” the mighty God, by whom all things were created, who is before all things, and who holds all things together! It is He who, in the fullness of time, scorned not the lowly Virgin’s womb, but became a babe. It is the same glorious Person who was seen coming from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of His strength, who tread the winepress of Almighty wrath alone! It is He whose countenance is as the sun shining in his strength, yet whose “visage was marred more than any man’s, and His form more than the sons of men.” It is the same glorious Person who is a holy One of the holy ones; and yet “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief!” It is the same glorious Person who is “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners;” and yet “numbered with the transgressors.”
Under the weight of sin and its punishment, Jesus agonized in the sacred garden of Gethsemane, and sweat great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Oh, those rich, rich drops from His precious veins! They are of more value than all the gold and gems His hands have made!
This is the matchless Bridegroom of whom we speak–who, on Calvary, was stretched on the accursed tree, and there finished the love-scene of His mystic sufferings!
Come, sit with me a moment beneath the shadow of His cross! Look up, and remember it is your Husband who hangs bleeding there! It is the Bridegroom, in love for the Bride, enduring those unknown pangs! See how His holy flesh is bruised with scourging, and His precious hands and feet pierced with rugged nails! How is His heavenly brow torn with piercing thorns, and His dear side with the cruel spear; each gaping wound proclaiming, “Man is guilty–God is love! But God is justice too!” Oh, see His precious blood trickling down. It flowed forth for sinners like me–like you! Look and wonder! Look and be comforted! Look and adore!
“Here look until love dissolves your heart,
And bid each slavish fear depart!”
Say, does not your very soul move towards this glorious Well-Beloved! and will it not join mine in saying—
“Bruised Bridegroom, take us wholly,
Take and make us what You will.”
O glorious Lord, we worship You! You are fairer than the children of men! Grace is poured into Your lips—
“Your beauties we can never trace
Until we behold You face to face.”
We love to meditate on Your sufferings, but rejoice that they are over. You have suffered, and you die no more! You have gone to our Father and to Your Father; and we are expecting you to “come again” and receive us unto Yourself, to be with You, and behold Your glory, when, in nobler and sweeter strains we’ll sing Your never-dying love, and tell
Your power to save; while with open face and ravished heart–we forever gaze upon Your matchless beauty!
Please, excuse my many words. It is to me a thrilling subject, full of blessedness; and the very writing it has been a lattice through which my precious Beloved has shown Himself. Oh, may He shine on you; and when you give your hand and heart to —, may the Holy Spirit rouse you in powerful enablings to give yourself more fully to Jesus than ever before. I come not to you with worldly compliments; they befit not our holy religion, and the peculiar people of God. But I come with an honest heart, desiring for you both every choice covenant blessing, with the sweetest mercies of the new state upon which you are entering, and that these may be to you but as the shadows of a substance, you, in and through them, coming by the Spirit’s power to fuller enjoyment of union and communion with our all-lovely Immanuel, and with the Father in Him. May your union be of the Lord, in the Lord, and for the Lord. May His name be glorified, and Jesus doubly precious to your souls. The theme wants more than an angel’s power to tell all its fullness.
Ever yours in Jesus,