The Bridegroom’s Parting Word

You who live in the gardens, the companions listen to your voice: make me to hear it. {So 8:13}

The Song is almost ended: the bride and bridegroom have come to their last stanzas, and they are about to part for a while. They utter their farewells, and the bridegroom says to his beloved, “You who live in the gardens, the companions listen to your voice: make me to hear it.” In other words — when I am far away from you, fill this garden with my name, and let your heart commune with me. She promptly replies, and it is her last word until he comes, “Hurry, my beloved, and be like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of spices.” These farewell words of the Well-Beloved are very precious to his chosen bride. Last words are always noticed: the last words of those who loved us dearly are much valued; the last words of one who loved us to the death are worthy of a deathless memory. The last words of the Lord in this canticle remind me of the commission which the Master gave to his disciples before he was taken up; when he said to them," Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Then, scattering blessings with both his hands, he ascended into glory, and “a cloud received him out of their sight.” As the sermon progresses you will see why I say this, and you will detect a striking likeness between the commission connected with the ascension and the present adieu, when the spiritual Solomon says to his espoused Solyma, “You who live in the gardens, the companions listen to your voice: make me to hear it.”

I. We will get to our text at once, without further preface, and we notice in it, first of all, AN APPOINTED RESIDENCE. The bridegroom, speaking of his bride, says, “You who live in the gardens.” The Hebrew is in the feminine, and hence we are bound to regard it as the word of the Bridegroom to his bride. It is the mystical word of the church’s Lord to his elect one. He calls her “Inhabitress of the gardens” — that is the word. So then, dear friends, we who make up the church of God are addressed here this morning under that term, “You who inhabit the gardens.”

This title is given to believers here on earth, first, by way of distinction — distinction from the Lord himself. He whom we love lives in the ivory palaces, where they make him glad: he is gone up to his Father’s throne, and has left these gardens down below. He came down for a while that he might look upon his garden, that he might see how the vines flourished, and gather lilies; but now he has returned to his Father and our Father. He watered the soil of his garden with his bloody sweat in Gethsemane, and made it to bear fruit to life by being himself laid to sleep in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea; but all this lowly work is over now. He does not live in the gardens with respect to his bodily presence; his dwelling-place is on the throne. Jesus has not taken us up with him; he will come another time to do that; but now he leaves us among the seeds and flowers and growing plants to do the King’s work until he comes. He was a visitor here, and the visit cost him dearly; but he is gone back to the place from where he came, having finished the work which his Father gave him: our life-work is not finished, and hence we must remain for a while below, and be known as inhabitants of the gardens.

It is expedient that we should be here, even as it is expedient that he should not be here. God’s glory is to come from our sojourn here, otherwise he would have taken us away long ago. He said to his Father, “I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil.” He himself is an inhabitant of the palaces, for there he best accomplishes the eternal purposes of love; but his church is the inhabitress of the gardens, for there she best fulfils the decrees of the Most High. Here she must remain for a while until all the will of the Lord shall be accomplished in her and by her, and then she also shall be taken up, and shall live with her Lord above. The title is given by way of distinction, and marks the difference between her condition and that of her Lord.

Next, it is given by way of enjoyment. She lives in the gardens, which are places of delight. Once you and I pined in the wilderness, and sighed after God from a barren land. We trusted in man, and made flesh our arm, and then we were like the heath in the desert, which does not see when good comes. All around us was the wilderness of this world, a howling wilderness of danger, and need, and disorder. We said of the world at its very best, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” Do you remember how you roamed, seeking rest and finding none? Your way was the path of darkness, which leads to death. Then you were poor and needy, and sought water and there was none, and your tongue cleaved to the roof of your mouth for thirst. Then came the Lord who bought you, and he sought you until he brought you into the gardens of his love, where he satisfied you with the river of the water of life, and filled you with the fruits of his Spirit, and now you live in a goodly land: “The fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of grain and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew.” Your portion is with the Lord’s saints, yes, with himself; and what can be a better portion? Is it not as the garden of the Lord? You live where the great Gardener spends his care upon you and takes a pleasure in you. You live where the infinite skill and tenderness and wisdom of God reveal themselves in the training of the plants which his own right hand has planted; you live in the church of God, which is laid out in due order, and hedged around and guarded by heavenly power; and you are, therefore, most fitly said to live in the gardens. Be thankful: it is a place of enjoyment for you: awake and sing, for the lines have fallen to you in pleasant places. Just as Adam was put into the Garden of Eden for his own happiness, so you are put into the garden of the church for your comfort. It is not a perfect paradise of bliss, but it has many points of likeness to paradise: for God himself walks there, the river of God waters it, and the tree of life is there unguarded by the flaming sword. Is it not written, “I the Lord do keep it: I will water it every moment; lest any harm it, I will keep it night and day?” See, beloved, although you are distinguished from your Lord by being here while he is there, yet you are made partakers of his joy, and are not as those who are banished into a salt land to die in desolation. The Lord’s joy is in his people, and you are made to have a joy in them also: the excellent of the earth, in whom is all your delight, are made to be the comrades of your sojourning.

The title is also used by way of employment as well as enjoyment. Adam was not placed in the garden so that he might simply walk through its borders, and admire its flowers, and taste its fruits; but he was placed there to keep it and to dress it. There was sufficient to be done to prevent his stagnating from lack of work. He did not have to toil sufficiently to make him wipe the sweat from his brow, for that came from the curse: “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread”: but still he was not permitted to be idle, for that might have been a worse curse. Even for a perfect man unbroken leisure would not be a blessing. It is essential even to an unfallen creature that he should have work to do — fit work and honourable, since it is done by a creature for the great Benefactor who had created him. If we did not have our daily tasks to fulfil, rest would corrode into rust, and recreation would soon engender corruption. You and I are set in the garden of the church because there is work for us to do which will be beneficial for others and for ourselves also. Some have to take the broad axe and hew down mighty trees of error; others of a feebler kind can with a child’s hand train the tendril of a climbing plant, or drop a tiny seed into its place. One may plant and another may water: one may sow and another gather fruit. One may pull up weeds and another prune vines. God has work in his church for us all to do, and he has left us here so that we may do it. Our Lord Jesus would not keep a single saint out of heaven if there were not a necessity for his being here in the lowlands, to trim these gardens of herbs, and watch these beds of spices. Would he deny his well-beloved the palm branch and the crown if it were not better for us to be holding the pruning-hook and the spade? A school-book by which to teach the little children may be for a while more to our true advantage than a golden harp. To turn over the pages of Scripture by which to instruct the people of God may be more profitable for us than to hear the song of seraphim. I say, the Master’s love for his own which prompts him to pray, “I will that they also whom you have given to me be with me where I am, so that they may behold my glory,” would long ago have drawn all the blood-bought up to himself above, had it not been for the fact that it is in infinite wisdom seen to be better that they should remain in the flesh. You are the lights of the world, you are the salt of the earth: shall the light and the salt be at once withdrawn? You are to be like a dew from the Lord in this dry and thirsty land; would you be at once evaporated? Brothers, have you found out what you have to do in these gardens? Sisters, have you found out the plants for which you are to care? If not, arouse yourselves and do not let a moment pass until you have discovered your duty and your place. Speak to him who is the Lord of all true servants, and say to him, “Show me what you would have me to do. Please point out the place where I may serve you.” Would you have it said of you that you were a wicked and slothful servant? Shall it be told that you lived in the gardens, and allowed the grass to grow up to your ankles, and permitted the thorns and the thistles to multiply until your land became as the sluggard’s vineyard, pointed at as a disgrace and a warning to all who passed by? “Oh you who live in its gardens!” The title illustrates constant and engrossing employment.

Dear friends, it means also eminence. I know many Christian people who do not feel that they live in the gardens. They reside in a certain town or village where the gospel may be preached, but not in demonstration of the Spirit and in power. A little gospel is made to go a long way with some preachers. In some ministries there is no life or power, no unction or savour. The people who meet under such preaching are cold of heart and dull in spirit; the prayer meetings are forgotten; communion of saints has almost died out; and there is a general deadness concerning Christian effort. Believe me, it is a dreadful thing when Christian people have almost to dread their Sabbath days; and I have known this to be the case. When you are called to hard toil through the six days of the week you want a good spiritual meal on the Sabbath, and if you get it, you find a blessed compensation and refreshment in it. Is it not a heavenly joy to sit still on the one day of rest, and to be fed with the finest of the wheat? I have known men made capable of bearing great trials — personal, relative, monetary, and the like — because they have looked back on one Sabbatic feast, and then ahead to another. They have said in their hour of trouble, — “Patience, my heart; the Lord’s day is coming, when I shall drink and forget my misery. I shall go and sit with God’s people, and I shall have fellowship with the Father and with the Son, and my soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, until I praise the Lord with joyful lips.” But what a sorry case to dread the Sunday, and to mutter, “I shall get nothing next Sunday any more than I did last Sunday except some dry philosophical essay, or a heap of the childish toys and fireworks of oratory, or the same dull mumbling of a mechanical orthodoxy.” Oh, brothers and sisters, my text is scarcely meant for those who live in such deserts, but it speaks with emphasis to those who live where sweet spiritual fruits are plentiful, where odours and perfumes permeate the air, where the land flows with milk and honey. If any of you happen to live where Christ is clearly presented as crucified among you, and where your hearts leap for very joy because the King himself comes near to feast his saints and make them glad in his presence, then it is for you that my text has a voice and a call: “You who live in the gardens, in the choicest places of all Emmanuel’s land, let me hear your voice.”

Yet one more word. The title here employed is not only for eminence but for permanence. “Oh you who live in the gardens.” If you are only permitted to enjoy sound gospel-teaching now and again, and then are forced to cry, “It may be another twelve months before I shall be again fed on royal dainties.” Then you are in a trying case, and you need to cry to God for help: but blessed are those who live in the good land, and daily fill their baskets with heavenly manna. “Blessed are those who live in your house: they will be still praising you.” No place on earth is so dear to the Christian as where he meets his Lord. I can understand why the Jew asked concerning a certain town that was recommended to him as good for business, “Is there a synagogue there?” Being a devout man, and finding that there was no synagogue, he said he would rather remain where business was poor, but where he could go with his brethren to worship. Is it not so with us? How my heart has longed for these blessed assemblies! Give me a crust and a full gospel rather than all riches and a barren ministry. The profitable hearing of the word is the greatest enjoyment upon earth for godly men. It would be banishment to go where every week’s business turned into a mint of money if one were also compelled to be a member of an unhappy, quarrelsome, or inactive church. Our greatest joy is in you, oh Jerusalem! Let our tongue cleave to the roof of our mouth if we do not prefer you more than our greatest joy!

      How charming is the place
      Where my Redeemer God
   Unveils the beauties of his face,
      And sheds his love abroad.
      Not the fair palaces,
      To which the great resort,
   Are once to be compared with this,
      Where Jesus holds his court.

Beloved, if you live in the gardens you have a double privilege, not only of being found in a fat and fertile place, but in living there continually. You might well forego a thousand comforts for the sake of this one delight, for under the gospel your soul is made to drink wines on the lees well refined.

This, then, is my first point — appointed residence: — “You who live in the gardens.” Is this not a choice abode for the Lord’s beloved? I leave you to judge how far this describes yourselves. If it is your case, then listen to what the Bridegroom has to say to you.

 II. Secondly, let us notice the RECORDED CONVERSATION: “You who live in the gardens, the companions listen to your voice.”

She was in the gardens, but she was not quiet there, and why should she be? God gives us tongues on purpose that they should be used. Just as he made birds to sing, and stars to shine, and rivers to flow, so he has made men and women to converse with each other for his glory. Our tongue is the glory of our body, and there would be no glory in its being for ever dumb. The monks of La Trappe, who maintain perpetual silence, do no more than the rocks among which they labour. When God makes bells he intends to ring them. It may be thought to be a desirable thing that some should speak less, but it is still more desirable that they should speak better. When the tongue indites a good matter, it is no fault if it is nimble as the pen of a ready writer. It is not the quantity, it is the quality of what we say that ought to be considered.

Now, observe that evidently the spouse held with her companions frequent conversations, — “The companions listen to your voice.” She frequently conversed with them. I hope it is so among those of you who live in this part of Christ’s garden. It should be so: “Then those who feared the Lord spoke often to each other”; they did not just have a crack at it now and then, the passing of the time of day, but they held frequent conversations. Heaven will consist largely in the communion of saints, and if we would enjoy heaven below we must carry out the words of the creed in our practice, — “I believe in the communion of saints.” Let us show that we believe in it. Some people sit still in their pews until it is the time to go, and then walk down the aisle in majestic isolation, as if they were animated statues. Do children come in and out of their father’s house like this with never a word for their brothers and sisters? I know professors who float through life like icebergs from whom it is safest to keep clear: surely these do not partake of the spirit of Christ. It is good when such icebergs are drawn into the Gulf Stream of divine love and melt away into Christ and his people. There should be among those who are children of the common Father a mutual love, and they should show this by frequent commerce in their precious things, making a sacred barter with each other. I like to hear them making sacred exchanges: one mentioning his trials, another quoting his deliverances; one telling how God has answered prayer, and another recording how the word of God has come to him with power. Such conversation ought to be as usual as the talk of children in one family.

And next, it should be willing and influential; for if you notice, it is stated here: “You who live in the gardens, the companions listen to your voice.” They do not merely hear it, and say to themselves, “I wish she would be quiet,” but they listen, they lend an ear, they listen gladly. I know some Christians whose lips feed many. I could mention brothers and sisters who drop pearls from their lips whenever they speak. We still have among us Chrysostoms, or men of golden mouths; you cannot be with them for half-an-hour without being enriched. Their anointing is obvious, for it spreads to all around them. When the Spirit of God makes our communications sweet, then the more of them the better. I sometimes like to get under the shadow of God’s best people, the fathers in Israel, and to hear what they have to say to the honour of the name of the Lord. We who are young men feel gladdened by the testimonies of the ancients; and as for the babes in grace, they look up to the greybeards and gather strength from their words of experience and grace. If there are any here whose language is such that others delight to listen to it, it is to such that my text is especially addressed; and when I come to expound the later part of it I want you who have the honeyed tongues, I want you who are listened to with pleasure, to notice how the Beloved says to you, “The companions listen to your voice: make me to hear it.” Give your Lord a share of your sweet utterances: let your Saviour’s ear be charmed as well as your companions’ ears. Come, speak to him as well as to your brethren, and if there is music in your voice let that music be for the Well-Beloved as well as for your fellow servants. This is the very heart of the matter. I cannot help alluding to it even before we have fairly reached that part of the text. The conversation of the bride in the gardens was constant, and it was greatly esteemed by those who enjoyed it.

 I gather from the text, rather by implication than otherwise, that the conversation was commendable; for the bridegroom does not say to the spouse, “You who live in the gardens, your companions hear too much of your voice.” No; he evidently mentions the fact with approval, because he draws an argument from it why he also should hear that very same voice. Brothers, I leave it to yourselves to judge whether your communications with each other are always such as they should be. Are they always worthy of you? What communications have you had this morning? Can I make a guess? “Nice and fresh this morning.” “Quite a change in the weather.” Is this not the style? How often we instruct each other about what we all know! When it rains so as to soak our clothes we gravely tell each other that it is very wet. Yes, and if the sun shines we are all eager to communicate the wonderful information that it is warm. Dear me, what instructors of our generation we are! Could we not contrive to change the subject? Is it because we have nothing to say about love, and grace, and truth that we meet and part without learning or teaching anything? Perhaps so. I wish we had a little more small change of heavenly conversation: we have our crowns and sovereigns for the pulpit, we need groats {a} and pence for common talk, all stamped with the image and superscription of the King of heaven. Oh Holy Spirit enrich us after this kind. May our communications be such that if Jesus himself were near we might not be ashamed for him to hear our voices. Brethren, make your conversation such that it may be commended by Christ himself.

These communications were no doubt, very beneficial. As iron sharpens iron, so does a man’s countenance sharpen his friend. Oh, what a comfort it is to drop in upon a cheerful person when you yourself are heavy! What a ballast it puts into your ship, when you are a little too merry, to meet one in severe travail who asks you to share his burden and emulate his faith. We are all the better, believe me, when our Lord can praise us, because the companions listen to our voices.

 In fact, our communications with each other ought to be preparatory to still higher communications. The conversation of saints on earth should be a rehearsal of their everlasting communion in heaven. We should begin here to be to each other what we hope to be to each other world without end. And is it not pleasant to rise from communion with your brethren into communion with the Bridegroom? — to have such talk with each other that at last we perceive that truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ? We thought that we only communed with our brethren; but, lo! we see that the Lord himself is here: do not our hearts burn within us? We two are talking about him, and now we see that he himself is here, opening to us the Scriptures, and opening our hearts to receive those Scriptures in the power of them. Beloved, let us try if we cannot make it so, that as we live together as church members, and work together in one common vineyard, we may be always making our fellowship with each other a grand staircase of fellowship with the King himself. Let us so talk that we may expect to meet Jesus while we are talking. How sweet to hear and see the Master in the servant, the Bridegroom in the bridegroom’s friend, the Head in the members, the Shepherd in the sheep, the Christ in every Christian! So may we rise upon the wings of hallowed communion with holy ones to even more hallowed communion with the Holy One of Israel.

 So we have meditated upon two things: we have noted the appointed residence and the recorded conversation. We know what we are talking about.

III. Now comes the pith of the text: INVITED FELLOWSHIP — “The companions hear your voice: make me to hear it.”

 It is beautiful to hear the Beloved say in effect, “I am going away from you, and you see me no more; but I shall see you: do not forget me. Though you will not hear my voice with your physical ears, I shall hear your voices: therefore speak to me. Unseen I shall feed among the lilies; unperceived I shall walk the garden in the cool of the day: when you are talking to others do not forget me. Sometimes turn aside, and when you have shut the door, and no eye can see, nor ear can hear, then let me hear your voice: it has music in it for my heart, for I died to give you life. Let me hear the voice of your prayer, and praise, and love.”

 Now, I notice concerning this invitation, first of all, that it is very loving and condescending towards us that the Lord should wish to hear our voice. I do not wonder that some of you love to hear my voice, because the Holy Spirit has blessed it to your conversion: but what good has Jesus ever derived from any of us? Is it not marvellous that he, the infinitely blessed, should want to hear our voices when all that he has heard from us has been begging, sighing, and a few poor broken hymns? You do not want to hear a beggar’s voice, do you? I expect if the man you have helped a score of times should be tomorrow morning at your door, you would say, “Dear, dear; there is that man again.” Might not the Well-Beloved say the same of you? “There she is again: come on the same errand. Come to confess some new faults, or to ask for fresh favours.” But instead of being tired of us our Lord says, “Let me hear your voice.” Oh loving Bridegroom! Must he not love us very truly to ask us to speak with him? See, he asks as though he begged it of us as a favour, “Let me hear your voice. Your companions listen: let me take a share in their fellowship: they find your voice pleasant, let it be a pleasure also to me. Come, do not deny me, your heart’s best beloved! Do not be silent to me! Come, speak to me with your own sweet mouth.”

 It is condescending and gracious, and yet how natural it is! How like Christ! Love always seeks the company of what it loves. What would a husband say if his wife were seen to be chatty and cheerful towards everyone else, but never spoke to him? I cannot suppose such a case: it would make too sorrowful a household. I should pity the poor, broken-hearted man who should be forced to say, “My beloved, others hear your voice, and admire it; will you not speak to me, your husband?” Oh believer, will you let the Lord Jesus, as it were with tears in his eyes, say to you, “You talk to everyone except to me: you lay yourself out to please everyone except me: you are a charming companion to everyone except to me?” Oh, our Beloved, how badly have we treated you! How much have we slighted you! In looking back, I fear there are many of us who must feel as if this gentle word of the Lord also had a sharp side to it. I remember my faults today. The text goes like a dagger to my soul, for I have spoken all day long to others, and have had scarcely a word for him whom my soul loves. Let us mend our conversation, and henceforth show our Lord a truer love.

We may truly add, that this invitation to fellowship is a blessed and profitable request. We shall find it so if we carry it out, especially those of us who are called by God to use our voices for him among the crowds of our companions. I address some brothers and sisters here who are preachers and teachers. What a relief it is, when you have been letting the companions hear your voice, to stop for a bit and let Jesus hear it! What a rest to leave the congregation for the prayer closet, to get away from where they criticize you to one who delights in you. What a relief, I say. And what a help for our hearts! Jesus gives us sweet returns if we commune with him, and such as speakers greatly need. The apostles said that they would give themselves to the word of God and to prayer. Yes, we must put those two things together. We shall never properly handle the word of God without prayer. When we pray we are taught how to speak the word to others. Salvation and supplication are a blessed pair. Put the two together, so that, when you speak to others about salvation, you do it after having baptized your own soul into supplication. “The companions hear your voice: make me to hear it: before you speak with them speak to me: while you are still speaking with them still speak with me; and when your speaking to men is done, return to your rest and again speak with me.”

 This invitation is a many-sided one; for when the bridegroom says, “Make me to hear it,” he means that she should speak to him in all kinds of ways. Frequently we should be heard in praise. If you have been praising the Lord in the hearing of others, turn aside and praise him to his face. Sing your song to your Beloved himself. Get into a quiet place and sing where only he can hear. I wish we had more of that kind of music which does not care for any other audience than God. Oh, my God, may heart shall find you, and every string shall have its attribute to sing, while my whole being shall extol you, my Lord! The blessed Virgin had no one with her except Elizabeth when she sang, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.” Oh, let the Lord hear your voice! Get up early to be alone with him. So let it be with all your complaints and petitions and let them be for Jesus only. Too often we fill our follow creature’s ear with the sad tale of all our care. Why not tell the Lord about it, and be done with it? We should employ our time far more profitably if, instead of murmuring in the tent, we enquired in the Temple.

 Speak with Jesus Christ, dear friends, in little broken sentences, by way of frequent short prayers. The best of Christian fellowship may be carried on in single syllables. When in the middle of business you can whisper, “My Lord and my God!” You can dart a glance upward, heave a sigh, or let fall a tear, and so Jesus will hear your voice! When no one observes the motion of your lips you may be saying, “My Beloved, be near me now!” This is the kind of fellowship which your Saviour asks from you: he says, “The companions hear your voice”: make me to hear it. Be sure that when you speak with others you also speak with me.

 This is such a blessed invitation that I think, dear friends, we ought to avail ourselves of it at once. Come, what do you say? The Best Beloved asks us to speak with him, what shall we say at once? Think for an instant! What shall I say? Perhaps I have a head start on you, because I have my word ready here it is: — “Hurry, my beloved, and be like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of spices.” “Why,” you say, “that is what the church said in the last verse of the Song.” Exactly so, and that is what we may wisely say at this moment. We cannot improve on it. “Come quickly; even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.” Very often, then, when you are about your business, say, “Come, Lord Jesus! Come quickly!” It is a sweet frame of mind to be in to be willing to invite Christ to come; and whenever you cannot do so let it be a warning to you that you are in dangerous waters. I can imagine a man in business calling himself a Christian about to engage in a doubtful transaction: how is he to discern the danger? Let him ask the Lord Jesus Christ to come while he is doing it. “Oh dear no”; one cries, “I had rather he would not come until that matter had been finished and forgotten.” Then be sure that you are moving in the wrong direction. Suppose you think of going to a certain place of amusement about which you have a question, it is easy to decide it like this: — When you take your seat your first thing should be to bow your head and ask for a blessing, and then say, “Lord, here I sit waiting for your appearing.” “Oh,” you say, “I should not want the Lord to come there.” Of course you would not. Then do not go where you could not wish your Lord to find you. My text may be a monitor to you, to keep you from the paths of the destroyer. Jesus says, “Let me hear your voice,” and let your voice utter these desires, — “Even so, come quickly; come, Lord Jesus!”

Alas, time reproves me; I must hurry on.

 IV. I have a fourth point, which shall be very briefly handled. I find according to the Hebrew that the text has in it a REQUESTED TESTIMONY.

According to learned interpreters the Hebrew runs like this: “make to hear me.” Now, that may mean what I have said, “Make me to hear”; but it may also mean, “Make them to hear me.” Now listen; you who are in Christ’s garden: make those who live in that garden with you to hear from you much about HIM. In the church everyone has a right to talk about the Head of the church. Some of our brethren in this Tabernacle kindly undertake to speak to individuals about their souls, and now and then they receive very sharp rebuffs. What right has he to ask such a question? How dare he intrude with personal remarks? What! Is the man poaching? No: these are the Lord’s preserves; and the Lord’s gamekeepers have a right to do as they are told by him. They are not poaching in this place, for they are on the Master’s own land. Anywhere inside these four walls you may speak to anyone about Christ, and no man may forbid you. Speak lovingly and tenderly and prudently; but certainly the law of the house is that here we may speak about the Lord of the house. There are some other things you may not talk about, but about the Lord Jesus you may speak as much as you wish. In the garden, at any rate, if not in the wild wilderness, let the Rose of Sharon be sweetly spoken of. Let his name be as ointment poured out in all the church of God.

Again, you, according to the text, are one who can make people hear, so that “the companions listen to your voice”; then make them to hear about Jesus. You have the gift of speech: use it for Christ crucified. I always feel regret when a powerful speaker espouses any other cause except that of my Lord. There was a time when I used to wish that Milton had been a preacher, and instead of writing a poem had proclaimed the gospel to the multitude. I know better now, for I perceive that God does not use learning and eloquence so much as knowledge of Christ and plain speech; but still I am jealous of any man who can speak well that he should not give my Lord the use of his tongue. Well-trained tongues are rare things, and they should be all consecrated to Christ’s glory. If you can speak to the companions — make them hear about Christ: if you can speak well, make them to hear attractive words about Christ.

 If you do not speak about Christ to strangers, speak to your companions. They will listen to you; therefore let them listen to the word of the Lord. I have heard of men who called themselves Christians who never yet spoke to their children about their souls, never spoke to their servants nor to their workpeople about Jesus and his love. This is to murder souls. If tongues can bless and do not, then they in effect curse men by their silence. If you have a voice, make the name of Jesus to be sounded out all around you. Many are the voices that strike upon the ear: the world is full of din, even to distraction, yet the name which is above all other names is scarcely heard. I urge you, my brethren, you who are like silver bells, ring out that name over hill and dale. As with a clarion, trumpet out the saving name of Jesus until the deaf hear its sound. Whatever is left out of your testimony, be sure that Christ crucified is first and last in it. Love Christ and live Christ; think of Christ and speak of Christ. When people go away from hearing you preach, may they have to say, “He kept to his subject: he knew nothing except Jesus.” It is bad when a man has to say of preachers, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Yet in certain sermons you find a little about everything except the one thing. They offer us what we do not need; but the need of the soul is not supplied. Oh, my brethren, make Christ to be heard. Always hammer on that anvil: if you make no music except that of the harmonious blacksmith it will suffice. Ring it out with sturdy blows — “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus crucified.” Hammer away at that. “Now you are on the right string, man,” said the Duke of Argyle, when the preacher came to speak upon the Lord Jesus. It needed no duke to certify that. Harp on that string. Make Jesus to be as commonly known as now he is commonly unknown. So may God bless you as long as you live in these gardens, until the day breaks and the shadows flee away. Amen.

C. H. SPURGEON