Scripture Notes.


Canticles 8:6-7.

Without doubt this scripture is the language of the bride, the true remnant who become the bride, personified in this book as Jerusalem. This last chapter takes up and sets forth all the principles of the whole song; and hence it is that we are led back in verse 1 (though at the close of the previous chapter the bride rests in the happy consciousness of being possessed by the Bridegroom, and of being the object of His affection) to the time when all her desire was to find Him, and to be permitted to express her ardent love. In verse 5, after the exclamation, "Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her Beloved?" the Bridegroom reminds His bride that for all the blessing she has entered upon, yea, for her very existence as the object of His affection, and as the companion of His joys, she is indebted, wholly and entirely, to His grace. It is in response to this that she cries, "Set me as a seal upon Thine heart, as a seal upon Thine arm," etc. The heart and the arm (the shoulder probably) are, as ever in Scripture, emblems of love and strength, and may refer to the names of the twelve tribes engraved on the breastplate, and on the onyx stones on the shoulders, of the high priest. The meaning will thus be, Set me as a seal, symbol of security (for a divine seal can never be broken), upon Thy heart and shoulders, that I may ever be borne upon Thy divine love, and upheld by Thy divine power. The reason for this desire is given in the fact that "love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave [Sheol]: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame."* These are figures to show forth the intensity of love. It is as strong as death. When death closes its fingers upon its victim there is no power upon earth that can unlock its grasp. And who can separate us from the love of Christ? When the grave receives its prey it closes over it, and shuts out every other object; and divine jealousy claims its object entirely for itself. (Compare James 4:4-5.) Moreover, it is so ardent that it can only be compared to the consuming and purifying effects of fire, "a flame of Jah," taking us back to the essence and magnitude of its character, for love and light are the words used to express the divine nature. This love is also inextinguishable, whether by the "many waters" or by "the floods." The bride will have learned this in her own experience, when she finds herself associated with the Bridegroom in the glories of the kingdom after the unequalled sorrows of that great tribulation, of which the Lord spoke when He said there had not been such "since the beginning of the world," "no, nor ever shall be." Lastly, we are taught that this love cannot be purchased. No, it ever has been, and always will be, a sovereign and divine gift; and on this very account it is both immutable and eternal. (See Jeremiah 31:3.)

*Some translate, "Its ardours are the ardours of fire, a flame of Jah." (See the French Bible, translated by J. N. D.) In the Revised Version it is given, "The flashes thereof are flashes of fire, a very flame of the Lord."


John 14:16, 26; John 15:26; John 16:7.

The word rendered Comforter is difficult to translate. It is embodied in some hymns in its Greek form Paraclete, and is given in 1 John 2:1 as Advocate. Speaking generally, it means one who undertakes and manages the affairs of another. This is very interesting, especially if we remember that Christ is the Paraclete with the Father, and the Holy Ghost the Paraclete for the saints on earth. As such the latter has taken the place of Christ; and He is thus termed "another Comforter," one who (in contrast with Christ in this respect) abides with His people for ever. Two distinguishing features may be noted. The office of Christ as the Paraclete with the Father is limited to the believer's sins; and it is thus based upon what He is in Himself as "Jesus Christ the righteous," and on the fact that "He is the propitiation for our sins." The object of its exercise is the restoration of the communion which had been interrupted by sin, by producing self-judgment and confession. In the case of the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete or Comforter there would seem to be no such limitation. It would rather appear that He undertakes all that concerns our interests as saints in our various divine relationships. It must not be forgotten, however, that the activity of the Holy Ghost as the Comforter in regard to our failures is dependent upon the action of Christ as the Paraclete above; and that, indeed, all His work here in testimony to and in the maintenance of the glory of Christ, in guiding the saints into all truth; in a word, in all His ministry, is carried on in connection with the ministry of Christ on high. In grace; both the Paraclete in heaven, and the Paraclete on earth, have become the willing servants of those whom the Father has given to Christ in order to secure their present safety, instruction, and enjoyment, as well as their perfected and eternal blessedness.


1 Timothy 3:6-7.

According to this scripture, two important things were to be observed in regard to those who desired the office of a bishop; that is, of an overseer of a local assembly; and two dangers are pointed out as the consequence of neglect of these qualifications. A bishop, among other things, must not be "a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil." The word rendered condemnation is rather the ground, charge, or matter of accusation, on which condemnation is passed. (See Luke 23:40; Luke 24:20, etc.) This passage therefore gives a remarkable insight into the cause of the devil's fall. He was puffed up with pride, either tempted on the side of the position he occupied, or on that of his own beauty and excellency (see Ezekiel 28:11-17); and, on this account, judgment was passed upon him. The same danger, as the Spirit of God warns us, might beset a "novice" if he obtained office in the assembly. He might be lifted up with pride, and fall as the devil had fallen. The second thing is that the "bishop" "must have a good report of them which are without, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil." Here the meaning is quite different. If one who occupied the place of rule in the assembly did not possess a good report of those that were without, he would soon incur reproach, not so much for the name of Christ as for his bad repute; and Satan would not be slow to come in and use this as a snare wherewith to entangle his feet: How often have both these dangers been realized in the Church of God! The lesson is, that we should never, under any pretext whatever, depart from these plain and positive instructions of God's word. E. D.

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All our blessings are enjoyed on heavenly ground, and flow to us, in the grace of God, through association with Christ.