My beloved is to me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.
Terraced on the side of the mountains were the vineyards of En-gedi. Oh, they were sweet places! From a shelving of the mountain four hundred feet high waters came down in beautiful baptism on the faces of the leaves; the grapes intoxicate with their own wine; pomegranates with juices bursting from the rind; all fruits, and flowers, and aromatic woods — among the sweetest of these the camphire plant of the text. Its flowers are in clusters like our lilac — graceful, fragrant, symbolical of Jesus.
I. I will first show you that this camphire plant of the text was a symbol of Christ, because of ITS FRAGRANCE. If I had a branch of it, and should wave it in your midst, it would fill all the house with the redolence. The camphor, as we have it, is offensive to some; but the camphire plant of the text had a fragrance gracious to all. The name of Caesar means power; the name of Herod means cruelty; the name of Alexander means conquest; the name of Demosthenes means eloquence; the name of Milton means poetry; the name of Benjamin West means painting; the name of Phidias means sculpture; the name of Beethoven means music; the name of Howard means reform; but the name of Christ means love! It is the sweetest name that ever melted from lip to heart. Oh, rich and rare, exquisite and everlasting perfume! Set it in every poor man's window; plant it on every grave; put its leaves under every dying hearth; wreath its blossoms for every garland; wave its branches in every home; and when I am about to die, and my hand lies cold and stiff and white upon the pillow, let no superstitious priest come with mumbling fooleries to put a crucifix of wood or stone in my hand, but rather some plain and humble soul — let him come and put in my dying grasp this living branch, with "clusters of camphire from the vineyards of En-gedi."
II. This camphire plant of the text was a symbol of Christ in the fact that IT GIVES COLOURING. From the Mediterranean to the Ganges, the people of the East gathered it, dried the leaves, pulverized them, and then used them as a dye for beautifying garments or their own persons. It was that fact that gave the camphire plant of the text its commercial value in the time of King Solomon; a type of my Lord Jesus, who beautifies and adorns, and colours everything He touches. I have no faith in that man's conversion whose religion does not colour his entire life. It was intended so to do. If a man has the grace of God in his heart, it ought to show itself in the life. There ought to be this "cluster of camphire" in the ledger, in the roll of government securities, in the medical prescription, in the law-book. I tell you, unless your religion goes with you everywhere, it goes nowhere. That religion was intended to colour all the heart and the life. But, mark you, it was a bright colour. For the most part, it was an orange dye made of this camphire plant, one of the most brilliant of all colours; and so the religion of Jesus Christ casts no blackness or gloom upon the soul. It brightens up life, it brightens up everything.
III. The camphire plant of the text was a symbol of Jesus Christ because IT IS A MIGHTY RESTORATIVE. You know that there is nothing that starts respiration so soon in one who has fainted as camphor, as we have it. Put upon a sponge or handkerchief, the effects are almost immediate. Well, this camphire plant of the text, though somewhat different from that which we have, was a pungent aromatic, and in that respect it becomes a type of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the mightiest of all restoratives. I have carried this camphire plant into the sick-room, after the doctors had held their consultation and said there was no hope and nothing more could be done, and the soul brightened up under the spiritual restorative. There is no fever, no marasmus, no neuralgia, no consumption, no disease of the body, that the grace of God will not help. I wish that over every bed of pain and through every hospital of distress we might swing this " cluster of camphire from the vineyards of En-gedi." Christ's hand is the softest pillow, Christ's pardon is the strongest stimulus, Christ's comfort is the mightiest anodyne, Christ's salvation is the grandest restorative. This grace is also a restorative for the backslider. For great sin, great pardon. For deep wounds, omnipotent surgery. For deaf ears, a Divine aurist. For blind eyes, a heavenly oculist. For the dead in sin, the upheaval of a great resurrection. But why should I particularize that class in this audience when we all need this restorative, for we have all wandered and gone away!
(T. De Witt Talmage.).
Parallel VersesKJV: My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.