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The Great Betrothal.

The Great Betrothal.

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Published by glennpease
BY HENRY EDWARD MANNING, M.A,



SONG OF SOLOMON ii. 16.
" My Beloved is mine, and I am His."
BY HENRY EDWARD MANNING, M.A,



SONG OF SOLOMON ii. 16.
" My Beloved is mine, and I am His."

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Published by: glennpease on Apr 20, 2013
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THE GREAT BETROTHAL.
BY HERY EDWARD MAIG, M.A, SOG OF SOLOMO ii. 16." My Beloved is mine, and I am His."WE need not go into the literal and historicalinterpretation of this Song of Songs. It is enoughto know that "a greater than Solomon is here."It is a vision and a prophecy of one " falling into atrance, but having his eyes open j" 1 conscious, andnot conscious ; seeing, and not seeing, how greatthings he foreshadowed and spake. It is verily andindeed the song of Him who " loved" His spouse" the Church, and gave Himself for it ; that Hemight sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it toHimself a glorious Church, not having spot, orwrinkle, or any such thing ; but that it should beholy and without blemish." This song is the in-1 umbers xxiv. 16. 2 Ephes. v. 25-27.THE GREAT BETROTHAL. [SERM.effable communion of the Bridegroom and Bride,both in this wayfaring upon earth, and at the marriage supper of the Lamb. It utters, in humanwords, and by human figures and emotions, becausespoken by man and addressed to man, things whichsurpass not only words but knowledge ; realities of the spiritual world, the instincts, energies, andconsciousness of the soul. For these what languageis deep or fine enough ? what ear or eye can attainto those things which even the heart of man hathnot conceived ? They can be perceived only by theintuitions of the Spirit, and by a power of visiongranted to us by God.Such is the mystery of peace here expressed." My Beloved is mine, and I am His." High asthese words are, yet they are for all. ot only
 
might His chosen disciple so speak, but thestained and penitent Magdalene, " for she lovedmuch." Wonderful is His pity and compassion :the least may say this with the greatest. Evennow in measure, as hereafter ; for in the firmament of His kingdom, though "one star differethfrom another star in glory," yet all are bright andpure : some burning with a ruddy and gloriouslight, in might and splendour ; some pale andmeek, in purity and softness ; but all are hallowed, sainted, and beloved.Let us see, then, what these few deep wordsXXIL] THE GREAT BETROTHAL. 413may mean. They express the bond or hold of lovebetween Christ and His elect, whether they besaints or penitents, and they fasten it by a twofoldstrength. " My Beloved is mine ;" and not thisalone, but " I am His." At first sight these wordsmight seem to change the order of love given by St.John, " We love Him, because He first loved us ;"but it does not. The order is eternal, laid deep inthe bosom of God, and cannot be changed. What,then, do these words express ? They teach us :First, that He is ours in the very sense in whichwe speak of our father or our child, our life orour own soul. There is nothing we possess, eitherwithout or within our inmost being, which is moreour own than He is. He is our Maker, our Redeemer, our Helper, our Light, our Daily Bread,our Hope, and our Portion for ever. We may bestripped naked of all other things which are mostour own ; but of Him we can never be deprived,except we cast Him away. And how has He become ours ? ot by deserving or earning, by finding or seeking ; not by climbing up to Him, ortaking Him for ours ; but because He gave Himself to us. He gave us His truth, His holy sacraments, His promises ; He gave us sight, power,reason, and life ; and because He gave them, theyare ours ; ours in full, as if there were no other regenerate soul, no other illuminated heart, no other
 
THE GREAT BETROTHAL. [SERM.intelligence, no other living spirit. We share anuniversal gift, which is whole in all, and perfectin every one ; of which none can challenge ourright, or rob us of our portion. So it is with Himself. He took our manhood, and was made onewith us ; and gave Himself for us as an atonement,and to us as a Saviour. Our possession of Him,therefore, is full and absolute, by His own " unspeakable gift."But this does not reach up to the fulness of this mystery. He gave Himself to us as the bridegroom gives himself to the bride. It was an actof His love stooping to us, giving up, as it were,His right over Himself, and putting Himself intothe power of His Church, so as to be Head to noneother than to her. And this is why St. John says," He first loved us." It was it could only beHis own free choice ; His own first advance ; Hisown unsought, unknown love, by which He gave toHis Church the dowry of Himself. In this mysteryof love is summed up all that is inviolable, binding,and eternal. The force of this betrothal has allstrength, human and divine. He will never drawback from it, or release Himself, or annul His vows,or cast us away. On His side this is impossible.The pledge of His love is everlasting, as His loveitself. But not only is this a mystery of strengthand of eternity, but of tenderness, care, pity, andXXII] THE GREAT BETROTHAL. 415compassion. " o man ever yet hated his ownflesh ; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even asthe Lord the Church : for we are members of Hisbody, of His flesh, and of His bones." 1 These thingsare not to be explained away into figures and metaphors, or to be lowered by lax interpretations.They reveal great verities of the Spirit ; eternalrealities of the new creation. Husband never loved

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