And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.—Acts 4.32.

The Gardens of Jesus, by J. Clyde.

THE GARDENS OF JESUS.

Excerpted from:

THE

REFORMATION ADVOCATE.

VOL. I.

JUNE, 1875.

No. 1


My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.—Canticles 6.2.


There is a great variety of matter issued from the press in our day, and much learning displayed on many themes, which are considered by many to be for the spiritual good, in some way, of those who read them. The general tendency, however, of many of these publications is, to lead away from the only sources where true happiness may be sought and found.

The word of God teaches us that the Father has set his Son as king upon his holy hill of Zion; that all created things are put under him; that he is invested with unlimited authority as Mediator. Let us, therefore, fear him and love him with all our hearts as he has commanded us, and seek to meet with him in the gardens. The time-honoured fellowship meetings, long known to Covenanters, have been fruitful nurseries to the church of Christ. Great men among acknowledged reformers, great in defence of divine truth, and for stability in the truth, have, at some time in their lives, recorded their connection with these meetings of the saints: or if they themselves were not in actual membership, their pious mothers were, whose prayers ascended to the throne of God on behalf of their sons. Thus many trees of righteousness have been raised up in these gardens of Jesus. To keep these pure, ought to be the aim and prayerful object of Christ's witnesses. But neglect or abuse of this ordinance has done its destructive work in this church. Ministers and elders of the Reformed Presbyterian Church have not done their duty in this matter. They were, and are, bent upon having gardens of their own: for example, Sabbath schools, [as modern "sunday" schools], where they could take the children of Covenanted parents, and teach them what they like. This is not done in a garden of Jesus. Teaching of children is a duty of Christian parents, which they may not attempt to roll over on others. In the case of children destitute of natural parents, religious persons would do well to teach them "how to fear the Lord." Psalm 34.11. But in a Sabbath class, under control of a Session of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, I have known a young lady teaching children some picture in a book, thus leading to idolatry! I have also seen in that party many attempts to corrupt the fellowship meeting: and if they had not {182} been too successful in their efforts, they could not have blinded the eyes of so many of God's people as they have done, cutting off their connection with the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland in North America. But there is a remnant at this time, though scattered far from each other, who still adhere to the order and purity of this garden of Jesus. As an illustration:—

On the 28th March, 1875, the Reformed Presbyterian congregation of Philadelphia assembled in the usual place of worship. The countenances of brethren and sisters were sad. By sickness the Pastor was unable to appear in the assembly. We then had recourse, like our fathers, to social worship. No commanding officer was there, though the elders were present, "each esteeming other better than themselves." I thought the scene was like the Sabbath meetings of by-gone days, the well-remembered happy meetings! He whose place and time it was to "go forward," having asked divine help for duty, some verses from the beginning of the 46th Psalm were sung, when prayer was offered at the mercy-seat. The "practical question" was raised on Canticles 4.16. ["Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits."]   Query 1. What are we taught by the "garden?"  2. What by the "north and south wind," with the effects on the garden?  3. By the "spices?"  Some of the answers were as follows: The "garden" is the church on earth—separated from the world's common—hedged round, all but the door or gate. The owner employs the labourers, who must do as he commands. The hedge is the moral law, 1 Cor. 9.21. The door or gate is Christ, John 10.9; Psalm 118.20. If any break through the enclosure from within, he shall be corrected, Psalm 89.30-32. God's people try to keep the law, not as a condition of life, but as the way to heaven. They receive it from Christ's gracious hand, and acknowledge no other lawgiver. We therefore own no sect as the church, who do not live within the "hedge"—the law; or who practically disregard Christ's authority as Head over all things to the church, whether in her doctrine, worship, government, or discipline. The "north wind" is the Spirit's application of the law to the sinner's conscience; the "south wind" is the same Spirit, directing to precious Christ. The effects are, faith, repentance, prayer, turning to God, &c. How needful, in our hearts, families, societies, and congregations, the prayer, "Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits!"

Christian reader, are you a useful member of any fellowship {183} meeting, in this garden of Jesus? If not, O then hasten to meet your beloved in his garden, who says, "I am come into my garden, my sister," &c.; for you will surely find him, because you have his promise, Matt. 18.20. You may say, "I would like to go to his garden, but there is none within my reach." Then you have his word to plead at the throne of grace—"to you is the word of this salvation sent." Or you may say, "I go to the meeting, but religion is so low here, lifeless and cold, that I find no enjoyment." Well, in such a case your duty is to stir up others, infusing life into your brethren. "Iron sharpeneth iron," &c. When you see an opportunity, you might offer these inquiries to each member: "Have you the 'four P's'?—Preparation for duty—Prayerfully doing your duty—Punctuality in time, matter, and manner of duty; and Perseverance in all these?" Now reader, I wish you to have nothing to do with men-made gardens, but be often in the gardens of Jesus; for there only he "gathers his lilies." There will be a last and great prayer-meeting, when the rich and the great of the earth, and all who love not our Lord Jesus Christ shall be assembled, directing their prayers to the rocks to fall on them, and to the hills to cover them from the face of him that sitteth on the throne. Pray and labour that you may be absent from that one: and that you may be found written in his book of life in the day when he maketh up his jewels, is the desire of the writer.

J. CLYDE.


[We desire contributions from elders and members of the church, that all interested may see for themselves, that they are not implicitly following the lead of their ministers. Let others speak their mind, encouraged by the examples of Reynolds, Clyde, &c.—ED.]