John Owen

B. Childress
Nov 13 2009 08:00AM

Of that distinct communion which we have with the person of the Father we have treated in the foregoing chapters; we
now proceed to the consideration of that which we have with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Now the fellowship we
have with the second person, is with him as Mediator - in that office to which, by dispensation, he submitted himself for
our sakes; being 'made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive
the adoption of sons' (Galatians 4:4-5).  And in this I shall do these two things:

    1.  Declare that we have such fellowship with the Son of God.

    2.  Show wherein that fellowship or communion consists.


For the first, I shall only produce some few places of Scripture to confirm it, that it is so: 'God faithful, by whom you were
called to the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord' (I Corinthians 1:9).  This is that to which all the saints are
called, and wherein, by the faithfulness of God, they shall be preserved, even fellowship with Jesus Christ our Lord.  We
are called of God the Father, as the Father, in pursuit of His love, to communion with the Son, as our Lord.

'Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup
with him, and he with me' (Revelation 3:20).  Certainly this is fellowship, or I know not what is.  Christ will sup with
believers: he refreshes himself with his own graces in them, by his Spirit bestowed on them.  The Lord Christ is
exceedingly  delighted in tasting of the sweet fruits of the Spirit in the saints.  Hence is that prayer of the spouse that
she may have something for his entertainment when he comes to her, 'Awake, O north wind; and come, you south; blow
upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.  Let my Beloved come into his garden, that the spices thereof
may flow out.  Let my Beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits' (Song of Solomon 4:16).  The souls of
the saints are the garden of Jesus Christ, the good ground (Hebrews 6:7); a garden for delight; he rejoices in them; 'his
delights are with the sons of men' (Proverbs 8:31); and he 'rejoices over them' (Zephaniah 3:17); and a garden for fruit,
yea, pleasant fruit; so he describes it, "A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.  
Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, spikenard and saffron;
calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, and delicious for taste, whatever savoury and
odoriferous, whatever is useful and medicinal, is in this garden.  There is all manner of spiritual refreshments, of all
kinds whatever, in the souls of the saints, for the Lord Jesus.  On this account is the spouse so earnest in the prayer
mentioned for an increase of these things, that her Beloved may sup with her, as he has promised.  'Awake, O north
wind...' - 'O that the breathings and workings of the Spirit of all grace might stir up all his gifts and graces in me, that the
Lord Jesus, the beloved of my soul, may have meet and acceptable entertainment from.'  God complains of want of fruit
in his vineyard (Isaiah 5:2; Hosea 10:1).  Want of good food for Christ's entertainment is that the spouse feared, and
labours to prevent.  A barren heart is not fit to receive him.  And the delight he takes in the fruit of the Spirit is
unspeakable.  This he expresses at large, ' I am come,' says he ; 'I have eaten, I am refreshed' (Song of Solomon 5:1).  
He calls it, 'The fruit of his sweetnesses;' or most pleasant to him.  Moreover, as Christ sups with his saints, so he has
promised they shall sup with  him, to complete that fellowship thy have with him.  Christ provides for their entertainment
in a most eminent manner.  There are beasts killed, and wine is mingled, and a table furnished (Proverbs 9:2).  He calls
the spiritual dainties that he has for them a 'feast,' a 'wedding,' 'a feast of fat things, wine on the lees'.  The fatted calf is
killed for their entertainment.  Such is the communion, and such is the mutual entertainment of Christ and his saints in
that communion.


"I AM the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.  As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the
daughters.  As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons.  I sat down
under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste."
 Song of Solomon 2:1-3.

In the two first verses you have the description that Christ gives, first of himself, then of his church.  Of himself, that is,
what he is to his spouse: 'I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys' (verse 1).  The Lord Christ is, in the
Scripture, compared to all things of eminency in the whole creation.  He is in the heavens the sun, and the bright
morning star: as the lion among the beasts, the lion of the tribe of Judah.  Among the flowers of the field, here he is the
rose and the lily.  The two eminencies of flowers, sweetness of savour and beauty of colour, are divided between these.  
The rose for sweetness, and the lily for beauty ("Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these'), have the
pre-eminence.  Farther, he is 'the rose of Sharon,' a fruitful plain, where the choicest herds were fed (I Chronicles 27:
29); so eminent, that it is promised to the church that there shall be given to her the excellency of Sharon (Isaiah 35:2).  
This fruitful place, doubtless, brought forth the most precious roses.  Christ, in the savour of his love, and in his
righteousness (which is as the garment of his love, and in his righteousness (which is as the garment wherein Jacob
received his blessing, giving forth a smell as the smell of a pleasant field, Genesis 27:27), is as this excellent rose, to
draw and allure the hearts of his saints to him.  As God smelled a sweet savour from the blood of his atonement
(Ephesians 5:2); so from the graces wherewith for them he is anointed, his saints receive a refreshing, cherishing
savour (Song of Solomon 1:3).  A sweet savour expresses that which is acceptable and delightful (Genesis 8:21).  He is
also 'the lily of the valleys;' that of all flowers is the most eminent in beauty (Matthew 6:29).  Most desirable is he, for the
comeliness and perfection of his person; incomparably fairer than the children of men: of which afterward.  He, then,
being thus to them (abundantly satiating all their spiritual senses) their refreshment, their ornament, their delight, their
glory; in the next verse he tells us what they are to him: 'As the lily among thorns, so is my beloved among the
daughters.'  That Christ and his church are likened to and termed the same thing (as here the lily), is, as from their
union by the indwelling of the same Spirit, so from that conformity and likeness that is between them, and to which the
saints are appointed.  Now she is a lily, very beautiful to Christ; 'as the lily among thorns':

    1.  By the way of eminency; as the lily excels the thorns, so do the saints all others whatever, in the eye of Christ.  
    Let comparison be made, so will it be found to be.

    2.  By the way of trial; the residue of the world being 'pricking briers and grieving thorns to the house of Israel'
    (Ezekiel 28:24).  'The best of them is as a brier, the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge' (Micah 7:4).  And
    thus are they among the daughters - even the most eminent collections of the most improved professors, that are
    no more but so.  There cannot be in any greater comparison, a greater exaltation of the excellency of anything.

So, then, is Christ to them indeed (verse 1); so are they in his esteem, and indeed (verse 2).


How he is in their esteem and indeed, we have: 'As the appletree among the trees of the wood, so is my Beloved among
the sons.  I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste' (verse 3).  To carry on this
intercourse, the spouse begins to speak her thoughts of, and to show her delight in, the Lord Christ; and as he
compares her to the lily among the thorns, so she him to the apple-tree among the trees of the wood.  And she adds
this reason of it, even because he has the two eminent things of trees, which the residue of them have not: fruit for food
and shade for refreshment.  Of the one she eats, under the other she rests; both with great delight. All other sons,
either angels, the sons of God by creation (Job 1:6,38:7), or the sons of Adam - the best of his offspring, the leaders of
those companies, which are called daughters (verse 2), or sons of the old creation, the top branches of all its desirable
things - are to an hungry, weary soul (such alone seek for shade and fruit) but as the fruitless, leafless trees of the
forest, which will yield them neither food nor refreshment.

'In Christ,' says she, 'there is fruit, fruit sweet to the taste; yea, "his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed"'
(John 6:55).  'Moreover, he has brought forth that everlasting righteousness which will abundantly satisfy any hungry
soul, after it has gone to many a barren tree for food, and has found none.  Besides, he abounds in precious and
pleasant graces, of which I may eat; yea, he calls me to do so, and that abundantly.'

These are the fruits that Christ bears.  They speak of a tree that brings forth all things needful for life, in food and
raiment.  Christ is that tree of life, which has brought forth all things that are needful to life eternal.  In him is that
righteousness which we hunger after; in him is that water of life, which whoso drinks of shall thirst no more.  Oh, how
sweet are the fruits of Christ's mediation to the faith of his saints!  He that can find no relief in mercy, pardon, grace,
acceptance with God, holiness, sanctification, is an utter stranger to these things (wine on the lees) that are prepared
for believers.  Also, he has shades for refreshment and shelter; shelter from wrath without, and refreshment because of
weariness from within.  The first use of the shade is to keep us from the heat of the sun, as did Jonah's gourd.  When
the heat of wrath is ready to scorch the soul, Christ, interposing, bears it all.  Under the shadow of his wings we sit down
constantly, quietly, safely, putting our trust in him; and all this with great delight.  Yea, who can express the joy of a soul
safe shadowed from wrath under the covert of the righteousness of the Lord Jesus!  There is also refreshment in a
shade from weariness.  He is 'as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land' (Isaiah 32:2).  From the power of
corruptions, trouble of temptations, distress of persecutions, there is in him quiet, rest, and repose (Matthew 11:27-8).


Having thus mutually described each other, and so made it manifest that they cannot but be delighted in fellowship and
communion, in the next verses that communion of theirs is at large set forth and described.  I shall briefly observe four
things therein: sweetness, delight, safety, and comfort.  


'He brought me to the banqueting house,' or 'house of wine.'  It is all set forth under expressions of the greatest
sweetness and most delicious refreshment - flagons, apples, wine.  'He entertains me,' says the spouse, 'as some great
personage.'  Great personages, at great entertainments, are had into the banqueting house - the house of wine and
dainties.  These are the preparations of grace and mercy - love, kindness, supplies revealed in the gospel, declared in
the assemblies of the saints, exhibited by the Spirit.  This 'love is better than wine' (Song of Solomon 1:2); it is 'not meat
and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.'  Gospel dainties are sweet refreshment; whether
these houses of wine be the Scriptures, the gospel, or the ordinances dispensed in the assemblies of the saints, or any
eminent and signal manifestations of special love (as banqueting is not every day's work, nor used at ordinary
entertainments), it is all one.  Wine, that cheers the heart of man, that makes him forget his misery (Proverbs 31:6-7),
that gives him a cheerful look and countenance (Genesis 49:12), is that which is promised.  The grace exhibited by
Christ in his ordinances is refreshing, strengthening, comforting, and full of sweetness to the souls of the saints.  Woe
be to such full souls as loathe these honeycombs!  But thus Christ makes all his assemblies to the banqueting houses;
and there he gives his saints entertainment.


The spouse is quite ravished with the sweetness of this entertainment, finding love, and care, and kindness, bestowed
by Christ in the assemblies of the saints.  Hence she cries out, 'Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples; for I am
sick of love' (verse 5).  Upon the discovery of the excellency and sweetness of Christ in the banqueting house, the soul
is instantly overpowered, and cries out to be made partaker of the fulness of it.   She is 'sick of love:' not (as some
suppose) fainting for want of a sense of love, under the apprehension of wrath; but made sick and faint, even
overcome, with the mighty actings of that divine affection, after she had once tasted of the sweetness of Christ in the
banqueting house.

Her desire deferred, makes her heart sick; therefore she cries, 'Stay me...I have seen a glimpse of the "King in his
beauty" - tasted of the fruit of his righteousness; my soul melts in longing after him.  Oh! support and sustain my spirit
with his presence in his ordinances - those "flagons and apples of his banqueting house" - or I shall quite sink and faint!
Oh, what have you done, blessed Jesus!  I have seen you, and my soul is become as the chariots of Amminadib.  Let
me have something from you to support me, or I die.'

When a person is fainting on any occasion, these two things are to be done: strength is to be used to support him, that
he sink not to the ground; and comfortable things are to be applied, to refresh his spirits.  These two the soul,
overpowered and fainting with the force of its own love (raised by a sense of Christ's) prays for.  It would have
strengthening grace to support it in that condition, that it may be able to attend its duty; and consolations of the Holy
Ghost, to content, revive, and satiate it, until it come to a full enjoyment of Christ.  And thus sweetly and with delight is
this communion carried on.


'His banner over me was love' (verse 4).  The banner is an emblem of safety and protection - a sign of the presence of
an host.  Persons belonging to an army do encamp under their banner in security.  So did the children of Israel in the
wilderness; every tribe kept their camps under their own standard.  It is also a token of success and victory (Psalm 20:
5).  Christ has a banner for his saints; and that is love.  All their protection is from his love; and they shall have all the
protection his love can give them.  This safeguards them from hell, death - all their enemies.  Whatever presses on
them, it must pass through the banner of the love of the Lord Jesus.  They have, then, great spiritual safety; which is
another ornament or excellency of their communion with him.


'His left hand is under my head, and his right hand does embrace me' (verse 6).  Christ here has the posture of a most
tender friend towards any one in sickness and sadness.  The soul faints with love - spiritual longings after the
enjoyment of his presence; and Christ comes in with his embraces.  He nourishes and cherishes his church (Ephesians
5:29; Isaiah 63:9).  Now, 'the hand under the head,' is support, sustaining grace,' the hand upon the heart, is joy and
consolation; in both, Christ rejoicing, as the 'bridegroom rejoices over the bride' (Isaiah 62:5).  Now, thus to lie in the
arms of Christ's love, under a perpetual influence of support and refreshment, is certainly to hold communion with him.  
And hereupon the spouse is most earnest for the continuance of his fellowship, charging all so to demean themselves,
that her Beloved be not disquieted, or provoked to depart (verse 7).

In brief, this whole book is taken up in the description of the communion that is between the Lord Christ and his saints;
and therefore, it is very needless to take from thence any more particular instances thereof.

I shall only add that of Proverbs 9:1-5:

    "Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: She hath killed her beasts; she hath
    mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.  She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the
    highest places of the city.  Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she
    saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled."


The Lord Christ, the eternal Wisdom of the Father, and who of God is made to us wisdom, erects a spiritual house,
wherein he makes provision for the entertainment of those guests whom he so freely invites.  His church is the house
which he has built on a perfect number of pillars, that it might have a stable foundation: his slain beasts and mingled
wine, with which his table is furnished, are those spiritual fat things of the gospel, which he has prepared for those that
come in upon his invitation.  Surely to eat of this bread, and drink of this wine, which he has so graciously prepared, is
to hold fellowship with him; for in what ways or things is there nearer communion than in such?

I might farther evince this truth by a consideration of all the relations in which Christ and his saints do stand; which
necessarily require that there be a communion between them, if we do suppose they are faithful in those relations: but
this is commonly treated on, and something will be spoken to it in one signal instance afterward.


COMMUNION WITH GOD, by John Owen, Copyright 2007, Christian Focus Publications.