The Fragrance of Grace – Samuel Rutherford

From Influences, 325–26.

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love. What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? —Song of Solomon 5:8–9

“O thou fairest among women.” Here is the character of the heavenly disposition of lovesickness, which is called savoriness.2 The spouse savors of the Spirit and speaks like one sick from love, and the daughters of Jerusalem smell this savor and look on her as the fairest among women. There is a savoriness of passive grace, whereby words and behavior cast a smell, whether the children of God intend to or not, and an active savoriness, by which those who have anything of Christ can smell the savoriness of grace in others.

Now, a word regarding this savoriness, as it is (1) in the Head—in Christ—the cause and fountain, (2) in the spouse, (3) in the single members. The sweet smell of the fountain, imagine a well of rosewater, is the cause of the sweet smell that is in the streams.

1. There is dwelling in Him “all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). “We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14). What a savory lump and mass of grace must the man Christ be, who is the public channel of grace! Through Him the savory waters of the sanctuary and the river of joy waters all the residents of the city of God (Ps. 46:4). Christ, God-man, is “anointed…with the oil of gladness above [His] fellows” (Ps. 45:7), without measure (John 3:34). The fullness of anointing is upon Him (Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18). His name is as a precious ointment poured forth (Song 1:3). And the savor of the knowledge of His name in the preached gospel is sweet and savors out heaven and life eternal (2 Cor. 2:14–16). The fullness of grace in Him, out of which we all receive (John 1:16), makes Him more than savory. Natural men wonder at the gracious words that proceed out of His mouth (Luke 4:22), and enemies see some of the anointing and shining of God in Him. There was never a man who spoke like Him, never a man who did like Him. If we would come nearer to Christ by faith and love, we would smell more like Christ. Oh, what a savor His birth, His life, His precious ointments, His death, and His resurrection have! He is all savory (Song 1:3; Ps. 45:7–8), His lips “like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh” (Song 5:13). His word is a sweet savor of life (2 Cor. 2:15–16). “His countenance is as Lebanon” (Song 5:15). Oh, what perfume is in His death! The smell of Lebanon is delicious.

2. There is much savoriness in the spouse, to the wonderment of many: “Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant?” (Song 3:6). “How much better is…the smell of thine ointments than all spices!…The smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon” (Song 4:10–11). Lebanon was a field where there grew odoriferous trees, roses, sweet-smelling spices, and herbs in abundance.

3. Every individual Christian has received the sweet-smelling anointing of the Spirit (1 John 2:20, 27), and “they that are after the Spirit” savor of the Spirit (Rom. 8:5).