THat these are Christ's words spoken to the Bride, is at the first clear; He continues speaking from the beginning unto vers. 16. and then vers. 16. the Bride speaks by prayer to him, for the influences and breathings of the Spirit.
In Christ's speech there are two parts; the first to the eight verse, wherein he gives both a general and particular commenda∣tion of the Bride. The second, from that foreward to the last verse, wherein he begins with a sweet invitation, and then shews how he was affected towards her, and so breaks out in another commendation of her. The matter in both is sweet and com∣fortable; wonderful to be spoken by such a one as Christ, of such a one as a believer; but there is nothing in his love, but what is wonderful and like himself. The scope of the first part of Christ's speech is twofold. 1. More general, to intimate his love to his Bride, on the back of so much darknesse; Chap. 3. 1. 2. (in the midst of which, notwithstanding her love did appear in her com∣mending him;) and it's subjoined to the commendation that she gives of him to others, in the preceeding Chapter, to shew, 1. That when believers slight their own esteem, to have it ac∣creassing to Christ's commendation, it's never losse but gain to them; for, here Christ comes in to commend her himself, where∣as it was but the daughters of Ierusalem who commended her, Chap. 3. 6. 2. It shews, that time taken, and pains bestowed for Page 198 the edification of others, and their instruction in the excellency of Christ, is acceptable to him, and proves often useful for at∣taining sensible fellowship with him; yea, it proves often to be some way as useful in reference to this as their own particular praying for themselves, the Lord doth so return their pains taken this way in their bosome. That to commend the Bride is the scope in general, is clear from vers. 7.
More particularly we take the scope to be, his giving her an answer to her prayer, chap. 2. 17. where she prayed for his fellow∣ship untill the day break, &c. Here he doth not only materially answer, but vers. 6. formally repeats her words, that she may know what he speaks is a direct answer to her prayer: untill that day come (saith he) it shall be so as thou desires (as the words will make it clear) Shewing, 1. That a believers prayers may for a time lye beside Christ, (as it were) and yet he not forget a word of them, but mind well the answer and performance of them. 2. That sometimes he will not only give what is sought by his people, but make them know that he respects their prayer in the giving of it; and so he not only hears their prayers, but lets them know he hath heard them.
This commendation, whereby he intimats his respect to her, hath four steps. 1. It's done in general, vers. 1. Then, 2. He in∣sists on particulars, from vers. 1. to vers. 6. 3. He shews how his respect to her affected him, vers. 6. 4. He sums all particu∣lars up in an universal commendation, vers. 7. lest any thing should be missed, or being left out might vex her; whereby he shews, what was his scope in that which preceeded.
The general commendation in the beginning of vers. 1. is the same that was given her, Chap. 1. 15. yet here it's repeated with the two beholds: The reasons why he repeats it, are, 1. That Christ might evidence to her the reality of his love, and that he varies not, nor changes in it, even though sits of security on her side had interveened, Chap. 3. 1. Christ's love and thoughts to his people, are still the same, whatever changes be upon their frame and way, which may occasion sad changes in his dispensati∣ons towards them. 2. That she might the more be perswaded of his love to her and esteem of her; Christ would have his own Page 199 throughly perswaded that he loves them, 1. Ioh. 4. 16. and would have others to know that he respects them, more than the most mighty in the world. 3. It's because often believers from all o∣ther hands, whether the men of the world, or from themselves, have but little comfort, therefore Christ renewes his intimations to support and comfort them: Believers consolation hangs most on his kindnesse to them, and they who depend most on it are no losers. And further, We may here observe, that even a believ∣er, especially after sad challenges, will need renewed intimations of Christ's love.
The more particular explication and commendation of her parts follows; where we would advert, 1. That bodily mem∣bers or parts, are not to be here looked unto, but believers have a inner-man, as well as an outward, a new man as well as an old; and so that inner-man hath, as it were, distinct parts and members as the natural body hath, which act in reference there∣to, with some analogy to these members in the natural body. 2. As the new or inner-man sets forth the new natural and habi∣tual grace in the believer; so the particular parts, eyes, lips, &c. signifie distinct graces of faith, love, &c. which are parts of that new nature. 3. These parts may be looked on as useful in the new man, as the external members are in the body, or as they are evidences of something in the renewed disposition. 4. They set forth the disposition, as they are qualified in the commenda∣tion, and not simply. 5. Although we cannot satisfie our own, or others curiosity, in the particular application of these parts, yet there is a particular meaning of every several part here attri∣buted to her, as well as of every part attributed to him, Chap. 5. 11, 12 &c. and he giveth no idle words, nor useth any vain repe∣titions: We would therefore beware of thinking all this needless, seing he knoweth best what is needful. 6. Being clear of the scope, that it is to commend graces, and to evidence the beauty of her several graces, we must regulatall the application by that scope, and what is subservient thereto, cannot be impertinent. Yet, 7. There is much need of sobriety here; therefore, we shall be short and not peremptory in particular applications. 8. There being a connexion amongst all the graces of the Spirit, it must Page 200 not be thought absurd that some of these graces be signified twice in different respects, and that one part respect moe graces (which are neerly linked) especially when the commendation gives ground to infer it. 9. We take this commendation to set forth especial∣ly the invisible Church, or true believers, which are the mem∣bers thereof, as the scope and application do clear.
If it be asked, why he insists on particulars in this commenda∣tion? I answer, for these reasons; 1. That he may shew, that whoever hath the new nature, and a lively work of grace, hath also particular graces in exercise. 2. That it may be known that the new nature is not a dead body, but a living; and exerciseth it self by putting forth these particular graces in exercise. 3. That he may shew, that where ever one grace is, all are there, and as it's ordinarily with one grace, so it's with all; where believers are in a good and commendable case, it will not be one grace or two that will be in exercise, or one duty or two in which these graces are exercised, but it will be universally, all graces, and in all known duties. 4. To shew, who may expect Christ's commen∣dation; these who have a respect to all his commands, and make conscience to exercise all graces. 5. To shew what particular notice he takes of believers graces, he can tell how it is with e∣very one of them; and takes this exact notice of them, because it's very acceptable to him, when he finds them in good case.
There are seven parts particularly mentioned, every one having it's own distinct commendation. The first two of them are in the rest of vers. 1. The first thing commended is her eyes, which here have a twofold commendation. 1. That they are as Doves eyes. 2. That they are within her locks. Eyes are the organs of seeing in the natural body, whereby we discern objects that are visible; and so our understandings are thereby set forth in Scrip∣ture; That the eyes of your understanding may be inlightened, saith the Apostle, Eph. 1. 18. By eyes also the affections are set forth, because the affection sets the eye on work to look here or there, (Hence is the phrase of a single and evil eye, Matth. 6. 21, 23.) and because it's some way the seat of these, and somewhat of love or hatred will be, and may be gathered from the eye. Here we un∣derstand, 1. A spiritual, sanctified and inlightened understanding Page 201 in the things of God, taking up Christ and spiritual things spiri∣tually, 1 Cor. 2. 15. that is, by faith, it being the evidence of things not seen, Heb. 11. 1. And therefore looking is frequently put for believing in Scripture, which presupposeth understanding. 2. Kind∣linesse, or a spiritual, kindly and affectionat carriage to Christ; in a word, it is the exercise of love upon this spiritual and won∣derfully excellent object Christ, a having respect to him, as it's, Isa. 17. 7. his eyes shall have respect to his Maker, it's such an uptak∣ing of Christ and spiritual things, as works love and delight in them.
The commendation will confirm this, which is twofold, 1. They are doves eyes: This was opened, Chap. 1. 15. and it signifieth, 1. What is the great object they behold, and are taken up with, it is Christ; and they are chast to him, and seek to know no other at all but h•••Cor. 2. 2. 2. It imports that the act of faith whereby they behold him, is simple, single and sweet, their under∣standing is not subtile, nor politick, nor are they pust up with it, but it's taken up in studying Christ and him crucified, opposite to the vain wisdom of the world, 1 Cor. 2. 1, 2. 2. These eyes are within her lo•ks. Locks are that part of the hair that hang about the face, handsomly knit, and was then in stead of a vail to wo∣men, 1 Cor. 11. 7. and so the word in the Hebrew will bear; and it's differenced from that word translated hair, in the words fol∣lowing, which is that part of the hair that covers the head: It im∣plyes here, that the believers knowledge is not used for frothy ostentation (as the knowledge that puffs up) but is kept with∣in it's right bounds, and that they are wise unto sobriety, and that their knowledge is not at the first obvious, but seasonably vents it self and looks out, as eyes that are within the locks.
These things are sure, and may be observed from the words, 1. That a believer should be filled with spiritual knowledge and understanding. 2. Knowledge is no lesse necessary to a believer, that he may go right in the way of God, and not erre, than eyes are to guide a ma• in a journey; and this necessity extends both to faith •nd practice. 3. A believer without knowledge, or weak in knowledge, is very far defective in spiritual beauty, he is as a man without eyes, it's not decent that a believer should be so; Page 202 from this it is, that many are called weak in faith. 4. That know∣ledge of spiritual things, should ever have faith, love and single∣nesse going alongst in the exercise thereof; for, every knowledge will not be commendable to Christ, more than every eye will be useful in a body; Believers eyes must be as doves eyes. 5. A be∣lievers eyes, or knowledge, is different from the knowledge of all others, 1. In respect of it's object, which is Christ and spiritual things. 2. In that it's joyned with love, it respects him. 3. In that it's chast keeping the soul for him alone. 4. It works delight in him. 5. It's denyed to other things. Obs. 6. Often the most subtile in worldly wisdom, knows least of Christ truely; whereas the most simple that have doves eyes, take up most of him. 7. Christ respects not how much a man knows, but how he is affected with it; It's not the eagles, but the doves eyes, which he commends. 8. It's good to know and to think little of our knowledge, and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 to be puft up with it. 9. Christ loves it well, when his people seasonably use, and improve their knowledge and parts; then the new man becomes lovely, as the eyes are within the locks. 10. There are extrems in the use-making of knowledge, which are to be shunned, we would neither altogether obscure it that it be not seen, nor by ostentation make shew of it; It's good when it runs in the right mids, then it gets the commendation, and is as eyes within the locks.
The second thing commended is her hair, having a twofold commendation also. The hair is no integral, or essential part of the body (to say so) yet in all ages a great part of mens decoring, hath ever been placed in it: It's the most conspicuous thing of the body, being highest and most discernable, especially in the way it used to be dressed; and this conspicuousnesse of it, by the com∣mendation, seems mainly to be aimed at. By hair we understand the ornament of a Christian godly, and sober walk, having the right principles of saving grace within, and the fruits thereof in a well ordered conversation, and suitable profession appearing without in the practice We take it so, not only because it is a main piece of a Christians or believers beauty, but also for these reasons, 1. Because as hair sets out and adorns the natural body, though it be no substantial part thereof; so a well ordered con∣versation Page 103 commends grace within, and makes it lovely. 2. Be∣cause as hair is upmost and most conspicuous, and therefore seen when the natural body is hid (therefore it was to women a cover, 1 Cor. 11. 5.) so a suitable practical profession, is (as it were) the cover of holinesse, through which it shines, and by which it's con∣spicuous, which otherwise would not be discernable. 3. And e∣specially, because in Scripture this adorning with good works, and with a meek and quiet spirit, is put in the place of decking of the hair, and other external decorements, (1 Tim. 2. 9, 10.) as that wherein Christians beauty should shine before men, (Matth. 5. 17.) and which should be to a believer, as decking of the hair is to these who take pains to adorn the body. For sure these do make them beautiful before God and men, more than hair and it's decore∣ments can make any person in the world appear beautiful to the men thereof. 1 Tim. 2. 9, 10. whose adorning (saith the Apostle, speaking of b•lieving women) let it not be in costly apparel, broi∣dered hair, &c. but (what then should be in the place thereof?) shamefastnesse, sobriety, and good works, so 1 Pet. 3. 3, 4, 5. Whose adorning let it not be the platting of the hair, but in the place thereof, let it be a meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is of great price. And this is also mentioned by the Apostle, as that which is exceedingly ingaging to the husband, for which Sarah there is commended. Next, the commendation of her hair, in both it's parts, will confirm this, 1. It's like a flock of goats: Goats are stately and comely in going, and a flock of them must be very flately, as they were especially in these parts, Prov. 30. 21. and 31. And so this ornament of a good conversation, is an amiable, gaining and alluring thing; by it, saith Peter, the husbands affection may be won (and that both to Christ and to his wife in the Lord) more than by any outward decoring, and this puts them to glorify God, when it shines before them, Matth. 5. 16. 2. It's commended from this, that it's like a flock appearing from mount Gilead: This was a fruitful place, and it's like the goats that fed thereon, were more excellent than others in their beau∣ty: And being seen afar, and discernable ere men came near them, were pleasant and stately to beholders; and so good works, show∣ing forth themselves in a well-ordered conversation, do also as Page 204 from a mountain appear to others, and sets believers up as lights shining in a dark place, Philip. 1. 15. and also makes them lovely and desirable in the consciences of on-lookers and beholders. Observe then, 1. That practice should wait upon knowledge, for, it is the end thereof, and without it all mens knowledge is void and vain. 2. Grace and holinesse appearing in a Christians practice, will shine, and be in some measure very discernable. 3. This is a thing that makes the believers conversation very beautiful and lovely. 4. It's not enough that believers be tender, and consci∣entious in secret before God; but there ought to be a shining, even in their outward conversation before men. 5. This doth exceedingly adorn a believers walk, and make it stately to behol∣ders, when the fruits of holinesse visibly appear in his conversa∣tion.
The third particular commended, is vers. 2. and it's her teeth, which have a fourfold commendation given them. The teeth pro∣perly taken, are useful for furthering the nourishment of the body, they being the instruments that fit meat for digestion; and what comelinesse is in them, is not every way obvious, they are not seen or discerned in their proportionablenesse or disproportio∣nablenesse, but by the motion of the lips, otherwise they are hid by them. 2. Again in Scripture they are used to evidence and signifie these three things, 1. They are used to signify the nature and disposition of a person, as good or evil; Hence evil men are said to have lions teeth, and that their teeth are as spears, Psal. 57. 4. And that beast, Dan. 7. 5, 7. is said to have three ribs in his teeth, pointing out it's cruel disposition. 2. They evidence good or ill food, that the person feeds on. 3. A healthfull or unhealthfull Page 205 complexion, which depends much on the former: Hence Iudah's good portion and healthfulnesse is set out by this, Gen. 49. 12. His teeth shall be white with milk. According to the first, by teeth in the new man may be understood two things; first, •aith, believ∣ing being often compared to eating, because it furthers the souls nourishment, and is the mean by which the soul lives on it's spi∣ritual food. This saith, 1. That the inner man must have food, as the natural body hath, for it's sustaining. 2. That the believer actually eats, and makes use of that food, he hath teeth for that end, and should not only look on Christ, but feed on him. Secondly, Meditation also may be here understood, that serving much to the feeding and filling of the soul, as Psal. 63. 6, 7. My soul shall be filled as with marrow and fatnesse, how? While I meditate on thee on my bed, and think of thee in the night watches; Meditation is as it were 〈◊〉 soul's ruminating and chewing it's cude, feeding upon, and digesting what is understood and eaten, as the clean beasts did; which may be one reason why her teeth are in the first part of their commendation, compared to a flock of sheep, which were among the number of clean beasts by reason of this property: Meditation is exceedingly useful for a believers life, and they who are strangers to it, are not like Christ's sheep.
Again as the teeth evidence first the nature and inward disposi∣tion, so we conceive they are also made use of here (as the com∣mendation also clears) to shew, 1. The zealous nature which is, and ought to be in believers, they have teeth, and ought not al∣way to be soft, when the Lord's honour is concerned: Zeal though it bite not, and devour not, yet it's not senslesse, but easily touched with the feeling of that which reflects upon the glory of God. 2. The similitude here is to shew what a meek and quiet spirit believers have, they have not such teeth as lions or tygers, but such as sheep have; not tusks like dogs and ravenous beasts, but even shorn, shewing a moderation, and equablenesse in their way, being first pure, then peacable, gentle, &c. Iam. 3. 17. This will agree well to teeth, as they appear by opening the lips; for, the new nature within is expressed and doth appear in words, which afterward are spoken of under the similitude of lips. Now this christian moderation which keeps the right midst, is a notable Page 206 piece of spiritual beauty (as is clear from the second piece of the commendation) for it's as a flock of sheep even shorn, and not une∣qually, and unhandsomely clipped; so true zeal will not upon by-respect or interest be high or low, up or down, but keeps a just equality in it's way: And this speaks out a well constituted frame, that is, neither too soft, nor too sharp, in biting and devouring one another (as is said, Gal. 5. 15.) which carnal zeal sets the teeth a work to do.
2. This similitude doth evidence and signify a good subject they •eed on, to wit, Christ and his promises; and a good subject they me∣ditate on, the same Christ and what is most precious in him: Hence in the third part of the commendation, they are likened to sheep coming up from the washing, white and clean: Neither mixture of humane inventions, nor of carnal passions or worldly delights, gets place and entertainment with them; their zeal is 〈…〉, their ends are single, their affections are chast and clean, being purged from all filthinesse of flesh and spirit, and they appear so.
3. Not only their healthfulnesse is hereby evidenced, but fur∣ther also their fruitfulnesse; whereupon their inward meeknesse and zeal, moderated by pure and peaceable wisdom, have great in∣fluence, as is clear by the fourth part of their commendation, eve∣ry one of these sheep bear twins, and none is barren amongst them: The scope whereof, is to shew their aboundant fruitfulnesse; thus their sweet nature is a pleasant possession, like a flock of sheep that inriches their owner, they are so fruitful and profitable. Obs. 1. Feeding on Christ, is ever fruitful to the soul that makes him it's food; whereas other meats profit not them that are oc∣cupied therein, Heb. 13. 9. 2. Zeal moderated with meeknesse, hath also a deal of fruits waiting on it, Iam. 3. 17. but bitter zeal (as it's there in the Original) or strife, hath confusion, and every evil work following on it. Ibid. vers. 14, 15, 16. It's much to be zealous alway in a good thing, and no little piece of a spi∣ritual commendation, to keep the right midst with our zeal.
In this 3. vers. we have the fourth and fifth particulars that are commended in the Bride. The fourth thing commended is her lips: The commendation given them is, that they are like a threed of Scarlet, that is neat and lovely, and of an excellent co∣lour, as Scarlet, which (being of the richest dye) was made use of under the 〈…〉 to represent the blood of Christ, as Heb. 9. 19. Next, this is amplified, as we conceive, in the following expression, (and thy speech is comely) which is added for the explication of the former, and therefore is joyned thereto with a copulative (and) which is added to none of the other parts here commen∣ded; and it may be here added, to shew, 1. A way of opening the other expression; for, speech is expressed by lips, because they are the organs (to say so) whereby it's formed and uttered. And 2. To shew, that under lips comes in both our words to God in prayer and praise, and also our words to others, whatever is spoken or comes out of the lips, as often the phrase is used for both. Also it shews, that in a special way he takes notice of believers speech (when it's savory) as a main part of their spiritual beauty, which makes them lovely.
The commendation of her lips and speech is twofold. 1. More ge∣neral, it's like a threed of Scarlet. 2. That is expounded by another expression more clear and particular, namely this, that her speech is comely: The meaning of both which, may be comprehended un∣der these four, 1. That her speech is profitable for it's matter, as a Scarlet threed is precious and useful: The subject of a belie∣vers discourse is not common, but good to the use of edifying, Eph. 4. 29. 2. It's pleasant and delightsome for it's manner, like a sweet, comely and pleasant voice, opposite to some kind of voices Page 208 that are harsh and unpleasant; It's by prudence and love sweet∣ned, and made savory, and therefore is said in Scripture to be sea∣soned with salt, Col. 4. 6. and to minister grace to the hearers, Eph. 4. 29. and it's called a giving of thanks, Eph. 5. 4. 3. It's articulat and distinct, therefore called speech, and not a sound, having honest ingenuity in it, speaking as they think in their heart, Psal. 15. 2. and opposite to lying, dissembling, &c. whereby one speaks to vail or hide his mind from another. 4. Hereby is also signified, that they hazard not even the best of their prayers on their own bottom and worth, but their work is to have them all dyed in the blood of the Lamb, and to put them up in his Name, Heb. 13. 15. They are all offered up by him. Now these are special qualifications, commendations and characters of a believer; shew∣ing, 1. That a believer, as a believer, is not dumb, but hath re∣newed lips, whereby he can speak to God in praise 〈◊〉 his honour, in prayers for his own good, and also to others for their edifica∣tion: A believer that can speak nothing to a good purpose, or if he can, doth it not, is not like Christ's Bride; much lesse these whose discourses tend quite another way. 2. That words are in an especial way taken notice of by Christ, and are special eviden∣ces of the frame of the heart, according to which we may expect commendation or reproof from Christ, for by our words we shall be justified or condemned, Mat. 12. 37. 3. That there is nothing more commendable in it self, beautiful in a believer, or accep∣table to Christ, than the well ordering of the words; He who can rule the tongue, is a perfect man, Jam. 3. 2. 4. That believers prayers are all dyed in Christ's blood, and put up in his Name: And we conceive prayer, or the believers speech to God, is espe∣cially here understood; partly, because prayer gets this same commendation to be sweet and comely, Chap. 2. 14. and partly, because mutual communication in words among believers, is ex∣pressed afterward more clearly, vers. 11. though it is not to be excluded here.
The fifth part of her commendation (or the fifth character or property of the Bride) is in these words, Thy Temples are like a piece of a Pomegranate within thy locks. The temples are that part of the face, that are betwixt the ears and the eyes; and some∣times Page 209 the signification is so large, as they take in the cheeks; they are a special part, wherein the beauty of the face consists, and are the proper seat of shamefastness and modesty, wherein blushing ap∣pears. The commendation is two sold, 1. They are like a piece of a Pomegranate: They who write of it say, it is a fruit, which when broken (as here the mentioning of a piece thereof signifies) is pleasant with red and white spots, not unlike blushing in a pleasant face. The second commendation is, that these temples are within her locks, of the colour of a Pomegranate, but not dis∣cernable fully (as the eyes also were, vers. 1.) yet something ob∣servable; As sometimes modesty will make blushing, and again will seek to cover it, when hardly will it be gotten done. Here we take tendernesse, shamefastnesse, modesty in spiritual things, and blushing before God to be understood; Christ's Bride hath a tendernesse that is soon affected with wrongs done to him, she easily resents them; and this is opposite to affrontednesse and a whores fore-head, which cannot be ashamed, than which no∣thing is more displeasing to Christ, and unbecoming to his Bride; here the temples are not hard, (as the brow that is of brasse) but like a piece of a Pomegranate, opposite to it; here it is not stretched out impudently, but covered within the locks, and not shamelesse and affronted that cannot blush, but coloured (to say so) with shamefastnesse and blushing, which though they seek to hide, yet it appears in them. And this application being safe in it self, and agreeable to the scope: (which shews what Christ is delighted with in her) And this being a main piece of her beau∣ty, and also suitable to the commendation, there is no hazard to fix on it; for, without this she would not be so lovely. Now we may easily conceive, that this tendernesse, modesty or blushing, is not any natural indowment, which appears in the carriage of man to man; but it is a saving grace, which especially is to be found in believers carriage before Christ, as being their Lord and Husband: and it evidenceth it self in believers in these, or the like steps. 1. In their being soon challenged, for any thing that looks like sin. 2. In their being affected easily with challenges, and with the infirmities that are in them. 3. In their thinking shame of them, as of things that are disgraceful. 4. In their not Page 210 being tenacious of them, or of their own will, nor disputing with Christ in any thing, but passing easily from their compearance, as it were, and thinking shame to be taken in any sin, or to be found in mistakes with him. 5. In being sparing to speak of any thing that tends to commend themselves, or in seeking their own glo∣ry. These are commendable things in a believer, and makes him look like the piece of a Pomegranate, spotted with red and white: And it shews the result of a believers looking on their own way, when they take it up, and see that wrong, and this right, and even that which is right, wrong in so many things, and so many wayes; whereupon as there is ever some sincerity, so there is ever some shame, and holy blushing; and this is constant, and (as it were) native to them, still to blush when they look upon themselves.
2. This commendation, that her temples are within her locks, Imports, that Christ's Bride blushes when none sees, and for that which no other sees: And also that she seeks not to publish her exercises, but modestly covers them; yet the evidences of all these in a tender walk, appear and are comely. Obs. 1. Shame∣fastnesse or sobriety becomes a believer, or Christ's Bride exceed∣ing well, 2 Tim. 2. 9. 2. Inward heart-blushing, when we look upon our selves before God, is the best tryal of true tendernesse. 3. A believer will have many shamefull representations of him∣self, and will think much shame of what he sees, which the world will never be acquainted with. 4. This grace of self-loathing and holy blushing, is much taken notice of by Christ, and most especially recorded by him, however it be much hid from others.
The sixth thing commended in the Bride, is her neck: The neck being comely and straight, adds much to the beauty of a per∣son, Page 211 and is placed by nature, as a more eminent and essential part of the body than the eyes, legs, lips, &c. or any other part here mentioned; for, it's that whereby the head and body are joined together. The commendation therof is, that it's like the tower of David: What particular place this hath reference unto, it's hard to say, possibly it's that mentioned, Neh. 3. 16. 19. 25. cal∣led the tower of the mighty, or the armory; It's like, that some strong hold built by David, eminent for beauty and strength, is hereby signified; which might have been imployed for keeping of arms, for times of danger, as the words following seem to bear.
2. This tower is more particularly explicat, 1. From the end and use for which it was intended, It was built for an armory, that men 〈◊〉 be furnished with arms in time of need. 2. The store of arms there laid up, is here set down, whereupon hang a thousand bucklers, all Shields of mighty men, that is, It's furnish∣ed especially with defensive arms (the believers war being most defensive) as shields; but with abundance of these, for number a thousand; and for quality excellent, and such as mighty men make use of.
If we consider the neck here, in respect of it's use, it holds forth the vigorous exercise of the grace of faith; for, it's that by which a believer is united to Christ the head: It's that which strengthens them, and is their armory furnishing them with shields, because it provides them out of Christ's fulnesse, which is contained in the promises; which promises, or rather Christ in them, being made use of by •aith, are for a believers security, a∣gainst challenges, tentations, discouragements, &c. as so many excellent shields: Therefore, Eph. 6. 16. it's called the shield of faith, and for their safety it is commended above all the rest of the spiritual armour: And this being the believers great de∣fence, and specially tending to their commendation when it is in lively exercise, this similitude cannot be so well applyed to any other thing.
Obs. 1. Faith in exercise is a notable defence to a believer, against all assaults and temptations; there is no such shield as •aith is, every promise, and every attribute in God, is as a shield Page 212 to these that exercise this grace of saith thereupon. 2. Faith exercised on these, is exceedingly well pleasing to Jesus Christ. 3. That all believers have their arms out of one armory, there is but one store-house for them all, to wit, faith acting on Christ's fulnesse. 4. Faith will never want a buckler, there is a thousand laid up in a mag•zin for the believers use. 5. He is the most mighty and valiant man, who is most in the exercise and use-ma∣king of faith. 6. Faith is the grace that makes a man valiant and victorious, as all the cloud of witnesses, Heb. 11. proves.
Again, if we consider the neck, as it's commended here, as be∣ing like a tower for uprightnesse and straightnesse; it signifies a quiet serene mind, and a confident boldnesse in doing and suffer∣ing; in which sense, it's opposit to hanging of the head, which speaks discouragement: And as a stretched out 〈◊〉 in a carnal sense, Isa. 3. 16. signifies haughtinesse and pride; so here in a holy and spiritual sense, it implyes ch••rfulnesse of heart, and con∣fident holy boldnesse, which proceeds from the spirit of adoption; and this waits upon, and follows after the exercise of faith, being fixed and stayed upon the Lord and his word against all events, Psal. 112. 6. Bold in duties, and valorous in sufferings, and in un∣dergoing any difficulties. So then, this is no small commendation whi•h Christ gives his Bride, and it is well consistent with that holy blushing, sh•mefastnesse and sobriety, for which she was com∣mended in the former verse.
The seventh and last part that is commended in the Bride, is her two breasts or paps. For clearing of this similitude, we are to consider, 1. That the breasts in nature are a part of the come∣linesse of the body, Ezek. 16. 7. 2. They are useful to give suck and food to others. 3. They signifie warmnesse of affection, and lovingnesse, as Prov. 5. 19. let her breasts alwayes satisfie thee;Page 213 and Chap. 1. 13. the Bride expressing her affection to Christ, saith, he shall lye all night between my breasts; and so the wise of the bosome is the chast and beloved spouse: And thus Christ is cal∣led the Son of God's love, or of his bosome. For this cause, we conceive these things are here understood, 1. A believers fit∣nesse to edifie others, and that believers are in a condition suit∣able to a married wife, or mother, that brings forth children, and hath breasts to nurse them: and so to have no breasts, Chap. 8. 8. is opposed to this; a believer is, as it were, a nurse with breasts, fitted to edifie others. 2. That believers being in case to be useful to others for their edification, is a special ornament to their profession. And the third thing that is here understood, is believers warmlinesse and kindlinesse to Christ, and these that are his, taking him and them (as it were) in their bosome; the believer hath warm affections to receive them into. And two breasts are mentioned, to shew there is no defect as to the ex∣tent, but both her breasts are in good case, and alwayes ready in love to communicat their furniture, for others edification.
The commendation is in two steps, each whereof is qualified for the further inlarging of the commendation. The 1. is, They are like two R•es, that are lovely and kindly, Prov. 5. 17. (often mentioned before) and like young Roes, because these are most lovely, and suit best to be a similitude to set •orth the comeli∣nesse of that part of the body; they are like young Roes, not too big; for, when breasts are too big, it's a deformity: And so when private edification exceeds it's true bounds, it's not ap∣provable or lovely. And these Roes to which her breasts are compared, are twins: Which shews, an equality and proportion∣ablenesse in their love to God and to others, giving each of these their own place, and keeping their love to creatures in the right subordination; and also their communicating their love to others, in admonitions and rebukes, &c. equally, keeping a propor∣tionablenesse in all.
The second part of the commendation, is, they feed among the Lilies: As Roes would not maintain their pleasantnesse long, if they did not feed; yea, if the pasture were not good: So, these must needs be pleasant and useful, because they feed, and that not in Page 214 a wildernesse, but amongst the lilies; Which shews, that believer in fitting and furnishing themselves; that they may be forthcoming for others edification, do not neglect their own advantage and edification, but feed on good pasture, whereby they are yet more fitted for being useful to others.
By feeding in this Song, is understood, 1. To be present in such a place, as Chap. 2. 16. 2. To make use of that which is food for the intertaining of life. 3. To delight in a thing for satis∣fying of the affections. Next, by the Brides breasts (being like Roes that feed amongst the Lilies) three things may be understood. 1. As this expression respects Christ's feeding, (so to speak) for he is said to feed amongst the Lilies, Chap. 2. 16. and so it sayes, that the believer loves to feed in Christ's company, and where he is. And, 2. That this makes believers breasts run to others, when they are much with him, and in his company. 2. As it respects believers, who are called Lilies, Chap. 2. 16. and, 6. 2. And so it sayes, 1. That all believers have one pasture, they feed together as a flock doth. 2. That one believer loves and delights in the company of another, they are the excellent and the lilies of the earth, their delight is with them. And, 3. That this helps a be∣lievers growth, and fits him to be usefull for others edification, and to improve well the spiritual fellowship of other believers. 3. As it respects Christ himself, who is called a lilie, Chap. 2. 1. and his lips are said to be like lilies droping, &c. Chap. 5. 13. Whereby is holden out, his Word, Promises, Ordinances, &c. And so it sayes, 1. That Christ and his word is the great and main •ood, upon which believers •eed, that is their proper pasture; to be much drinking-in the sincere milk of the word is their meat and drink. 2. That much acquaintance with Christ in the word, inables one for being very useful to others. In sum, it sayes, 1. That a believer is no bare novice, but hath breasts that yeelds milk and nourishment to others. 2. That a believer hath a good pasture to feed on. 3. That believers breasts run to others, ac∣cording as they feed themselves; If they hunger themselves, o∣thers will not be edified by them; if they feed on wind and em∣pty notions themselves, it will be no healthful food that others Page 215 will receive from them. 4. That it's a pleasant thing and accep∣table to Christ, when a believer so communicats what he hath re∣ceived to others, as he is still feeding on Christ himself, and not living on the stock he hath already received.
The words in this •ixth verse, expresse the second way, how Christ evidenceth his respect to his Bride; he is so affected with her beauty, that he tels her, he cannot but haunt her company, and answer her prayers. For, comparing this verse with vers. 17. chap. 2. we find it a clear answer of her petition she puts up there. The words contain, 1. A promise. 2. A term set to the performance of it, shewing the continuance of his performance. The promise is, I will get me to the mountain of Myrrhe, and to the hill of Frank∣incense: By this in general, 〈◊〉 understood no withdrawing of Christ's, or shutting of himself up in heaven from her; for, that will not agree to the scope, which is to shew how he loves her, and comforts her; nor will that be an answer of her prayer, but the contrary: It must then hold forth some comfortable act of Christ's, evidencing his respect to her for her consolation; which we conceive to be a promise of his presence with her to the end of the world. By mountain is often und••stood the Church (as Isa. 2. 1. and Mic. 4. 1.) called so for her endurance and stability; for typifying of which, the Temple was built on mount Mor•ah. And it's called a mountain of Myrrhe, and hill of Frankincense, to difference this one mountain (which is in the singular) from the mountains, or excellencies in the world, after mentioned, vers. 8. which are many: It's a sweet mountain, not of Leopards, but of Myrrhe and Frankincense; these were spices much used in •he ceremonial services, Exo•. 30, 23. 24. and signified the precious∣nesse, Page 216 and savourinesse of the graces of Gods people, and of their prayers, Psal. 141. 2. Let my prayer be set forth before thee as in∣cense, &c. Here then is understood that place of the world (namely the Church) where the graces of Gods people flow, and their prayers (as acceptable sacrifices) are put up to him; And so it answers the scope, and is opposed to the mountains of the world, mentioned in the eighth verse. The Church is called the mountain of Myrrhe, and hill of Frankincense, 1. Because it's the place, where the graces signified by these are to be found: It's only in Believers they do abound. 2. Because there they a∣bound in prayers and praises, which ascend before him, as incense from an high place. 3. Because he accepts so kindly of their du∣ties, that they are pleasant to him, and he delights to rest amongst them beyond all other places, as being a mountain of Myrrhe; In which respect, the house of God is called the house of prayer, because of the exercise of that duty frequently performed there.
The second thing is the term he sets to the performance of this promise, in these words, untill the day break, and the shadows flee away: I will get me (saith he) to the mountain of Myrrhe, till that day; The sense is, amongst all places of the world, the Church is the place in which I will choose to reside, and with believers a∣bounding in the exercise of grace and prayer; they shall not want my presence, for there will I abide, untill the everlasting day of immediat fellowship with them break up: And so this makes for the Brides comfort, thou mayst my spouse (saith he) expect my company, and the acceptation of thy prayers (which are as incense to me) untill that day come, as thou desired: Where we may see, (beside what was spoken upon this expression, chap. 2. 17.) 1. That Christ conforms his answers to our suits, and makes the one as extensive as the other; the term she proposed, is that he accepts of. 2. His hearing of one prayer, gives ground to his peo∣ple to expect that he will hear all their prayers, and so he is called the hearer of prayer indefinitly, Psal. 65. 2. and this is the reason why he sayes not, he will turn to her: (which would look to that one prayer, Chap. 2. 17.) but he saith, he will get him to the hill of Frankincense, which looks to all her prayers, and so his answer is more extensive, than the particular sought; which shews, Page 217 3. That as Christ will not mince his answers to believers, and make them lesse than their prayers, so he will often inlarge them, and make them more extensive than their prayers.
Next, from this that he gives believers such a name, as the hill of Franckincense, which is in a special way, with respect to their prayers, Obs. 1. That believers ought to be very frequent in prayer, like an hill that abounds in incense. 2. That Christ's pre∣sence is ever to be found, where these spiritual sacrifices of pray∣ers and praises abound: For, where ever he hath an Altar built to himself, and records his Name, there he will come and blesse his people, Exod. 20. 24.
Again, that •e sets down this by way of promise, it gives us ground to observe, 1. That even our sense of Christ's presence, is in, and by a promise; and it's the promise thereof that should comfort and satisfie the believer, even when sense is removed, and is not for the time injoyed, as Ioh. 14. 21, 23. 2. Christ limits himself to no other term-day, for continuing of the fulfilling, and performing of his promises, than that very time when believers shall be entered into the possession of what is promised; for, I will grant thy desire (saith he) untill the day break, &c. that is, un•ill t•e great day come, I will keep this course with believers. 3. Christ's promise of coming, and his making that sure, is one of the greatest evidences of love which he can bestow on his people. 4. There is no society or place (to speak so) but the Church, nor any person in the Church, but such as abound in spiritual sacrifices, who have a promise of Christ's presence. 5. Christ would have the thoughts of eternal life, and of immediat injoying of himself, entertained in his Bride, and would have her confirmed in the faith of it; and therefore is there here a particular repetition of the term which had been mentioned, Chap. 2. 17. 6. He would by this repetition also expresse, that (some way) he longs for that day of the consummation of the marriage, as well as she doth, and that he would gladly have all shadows gone betwixt him and her; which serves much to confirm her in the faith of it, and com∣fort her till it come.
This verse contains the last piece of the commendation which Christ gives to his Bride, and it is the scope of all; whereby, ha∣ving spoken of some particular parts, he now sums up all in a ge∣neral, 1. Positively exprest, Thou art all fair, my love. Then, 2. Negatively, There is no spot in thee. The reason why, thus in a general, he closes up her commendation, is to shew that his for∣bearing the enumeration of the rest of her parts, •s not because of any defect that was in her, or that his touching of some parti∣culars was to commend these parts only, but to shew this in ge∣neral that all of her parts, as well not named as named were love∣ly. This universal commendation is not to be understood in a popish sense, as if she had had no sin; for, that will not agree with other expresse Scriptures, nor with this Song, where she records her own faults, as Chap. 1. 6. and 3. 1. and 5. 2, 3. And also this commendation agrees to all believers, who yet ••cknow∣ledged by themselves not to be perfect. Neither is it to be taken in an Antinomian sense, as if their sins and failings were no• sins to them, and did not pollute them; for, 1. That is not consist∣ent with the nature of sin. Nor, 2. With the Brides regrates and confessions in this Song; Nor, 3. With the present scope, which is to shew the Brides beauty: And he doth thus highly commend her beauty, not because her sins were not sins in her, as they were in others, but because her graces were more lovely, which were not to be found in others: Hence the particular parts of the new creature, or inherent holinesse, are insisted on for proof of this; Further, this commendation did agree to believers before Christ came in the flesh; And this love-assertion, thou art all fair, holds true of the Bride, in these four respects, 1. In respect of Justification and absolution she is clean, though needing washing in other respects, Ioh. 13. Ye are clean by the word that I have 〈◊〉, yet they needed to have their •eet washen. Thus a belie∣ver is in a justified state, and legally clean and fair, so as there is Page 219 no sin imputed to him, or to be found in him to condemn him, because the Lord hath pardoned them, Ier. 50. 20. 2. It's true in respect of Sanctification and inherent holinesse, they are all fair, that is, they are wholly renewed, there is no part but it is beau∣tiful in respect of God's grace (though in degree it be not per∣fect.) Thus where grace is true, it's extended through the whole man, and makes an universal change. 3. It's true in respect of Christ's acceptation; and so where there is sincerity in the man∣ner, he over-looks and passeth by many spots▪ thus thou art all fair, that is, in my account thou art so, I reckon not thy spots, but esteem of thee as if thou had no spot: Christ is no severe inter∣preter of his peoples actions; and where there is honesty, and no spots inconsistent with the state of children, Deut. 32. 2. he will reckon of them, as if there were none at all. 4. It's true of Christ's Bride that she is all fair, in respect of Christ's design, He will make her at last without spot, or wrinkle or any such thing, Eph. 5. 25, &c. And because of the certainty of it, it's applyed to her now, as being already entered in the possession thereof in her Head, in whom she is set in heavenly-places. Hence we may see, 1. The honest believer ere all be done, will be made fully fair and without spot. 2. Christ often expounds an honest believer, from his 〈◊〉 of heart-purpose and design; in which respect they get many titles, otherwise unsuitable to their present condition; and believers themselves may someway reckon so also. If all were put together, it were a great matter for a believer to conceive and apprehend these words as spoken to him in particular from Christ's mouth, thou, even thou art fair: And without this, they will want their lustre, for certainly Christ speaks so upon the matter to some, and he allowes that they should believe that he speaks so unto them.
From this 8. vers. to vers. 16. follows a second way how the Bridegroom manifests his love to his Bride, in other three steps, 1. He gives her a kind invitation and call, vers. 8. 2. He shew∣eth her how he was taken with her love, and in a manner could not want the injoyment thereof, vers. 9, 10. 3. Upon this oc∣casion, he proceeds to a new commendation of her: And all of these are wonderful, being considered as spoken by him.
The invitation, in this 8. vers. beside the title 〈◊〉 gives her (which we take in as a motive) hath three parts. 1. The state wherein the Bride was, is set down; and this is contained in the term from which she is called. 2. The duty laid o• included in the term to which she is called. 3. The motives pre•••g and per∣swading her to give obedience thereto.
First, The term from which she is called, gets diverse names, 1. Lebanon. 2. Amana. 3. Shenir and Hermon. 4. The Lions dens and mountains of Leopards, which are added for explication of the former. Lebanon is a •ill often mentioned in Scripture, excellent for beauty, and therefore Christ's countenance is com∣pared (Chap. 5. 5.) to it: Moses desired to see the goodly Leba∣non, Deut. 3. 25. It was profitable for Cedar-wood, and sweet in smell by the flowers that grew on it, vers. 11. and Hos. 14. 6. It was on the north-side of Canaan, a stately place, Isa. 35. 1. There∣fore Solomon built his dwelling for pleasure there in the forrest of Lebanon, as some conceive, though others think it was built at Ierusalem, and gets the name of the forrest of Lebanon, for the pleasantnesse thereof. As for Amana, we read not of it, except it Page 221 be that which is mentioned, 2 King. 5. 12. called Abana, but on the margent Amana; It's like that river there spoken of, flowed from it, which being pleasant and stately, is preferred by Naaman to Iordan, in which the Prophet appointed him to wash. Next, Shenir and Hermon, were two hills (or two tops of one hill) men∣tioned, Deut. 3. 9. beyond Iordan, pleasant and fertile, and from which they might see the land of Canaan before they crossed Ior∣dan; and which were conquered from Og King of Bashan. The tops also of these are mentioned, to shew their height, and she is here supposed to be on the top of them. Lastly, it's added, from the Lions dens, from the mountains of Leopards, not designing any new place, but shewing that Lions and Leopards o•ten used upon hills, and it's like upon these, notwithstanding all their beauty: there∣fore mountains, are called mountains of prey, Psal. 76. 4. because wilde beasts that used to make prey, o•ten lurked in them. There is somewhat, Hab. 2. 17. that confirmes this, where the violence of Lebanon, and the spoil of beasts, is mentioned, supposing that there, beasts used violently to spoil.
By these mountains here, we conceive are understood the most excellent, eminent and choice satisfactions that are to be found amongst the creatures, wherein the men of the world delight, who are often compared to ravenous beasts: and the reason is, it's something that is conceived to be excellent, that is here im∣plyed by the description, yet such as hath no true excellency in it; therefore the Bride is called from it, and commanded to look o∣ver it, even at it's height, and to leave it to the men of the world, whose portion properly these heights and excellencies are, for they have not another to enjoy or look after. By Lions and Leo∣pards, we understand covetous, worldly men, who pursue the world to the destruction of themselves and others; So they are often called in Scripture, as Psal. 57. 4, &c. 1. For their devou∣ring, insatiable nature, that can never have enough, but use al∣wayes to prey on others. 2. For their unreasonable, brutish na∣ture, being in their way like bruit-beasts, rather than men, Psal. 49. ult. 3. For their malicious nature, that are alwayes hurting the godly that are amongst them. Again, these heights and excel∣lencies of the world, are called the dens and mountains of these Page 222 beasts, 1. Because often ungodly men have the greatest share of those, and have no more to claim unto; their portion is in this life, Psal. 17. penult. 2. Because they rest in them, and seek af∣ter no more, as Lions do in their dens. These mountains then are the excellencies of the creatures; for the injoyment of which men often use great violence, therefore they are called, Psal. 76. 5. mountains of prey, as having such beasts, as cruel men lurking in them, above which God (who is the portion of his people) is there said to be far more excellent; and thus these mountains here are opposed to the mountain of Myrrhe, vers. 6. where Christ hath his residence. Next, the Church, (whose state and case is suppo∣sed to be the same naturally with the men of the world) is called from this her natural state, and from the remainders of such a frame, in two words, 1. Come, quite it, saith he, and come with me, which is the same with that command, Chap. 2. 10. Rise up and come away, implying the exercising of saith in him, and the delighting of her self in communion with him (as the Spouse should do with her Husband) and a withdrawing from these crea∣ted concernments, wherein men of the world sought their happi∣nesse. The second word is, look from the top of these, which word sets out faith also, so Isa. 45. 19. Look unto me, &c. and looking from these, signifieth her elevating and lifting of her affections higher than the highest excellencies of the earth, even towards heaven and the injoyment of Christ, Col. 3. 1, 2. And so it saith, she is not to look to what is present, but to what is not seen, and coming, which is by faith only to be discerned and apprehen∣ded: And this is to be done, by looking over the tops of the highest of created excellencies. Now this word being added to the former, doth shew, that when they cannot come, they are to look; and that their looks are not to be fixed on created things, as their objects, but must ascend higher, as the Israelites from these mountains, Hermon and Shenir, beheld Canaan, with desire to be there,
Obs. 1. The world hath it's own taking excellencies, it's heights and mountains, whereby it looks very pleasant to many. 2. The most beautiful created excellency hath a palpable defect in it, the most pleasant hill hath a wilde Lion lodging in it, that marrs Page 223 all the satisfaction that can be found there to a believer; and God hath wisely so ordered, that every gourd to them hath a worm at it's root. 3. O•ten the men of the world are much ta∣ken with these created excellencies, they love to live in them, and dwell in them, as beasts in their dens, and know no higher design to drive, then their satisfaction in created excellencies: Yea, 4. Belie∣vers are in hazard to fall in this sin, when things go well with them in the world, they are ready to sit down there; Therefore are they here called upon, that this hazard may be prevented. 5. Ad∣dictednesse to the world, when men excessively pursue after ei∣ther it's gain, honour, applause, or pleasure, transforms men into beasts, and makes them irrational, brutish and violent, forgetting what should be their main work and end. 6. O•ten violence to∣wards others, and oppression with much cruelty, is the fruit of ad∣dictednesse to the things of the world: If he profit himself, such a man cares not whom he undo. 7. There is nothing more unrea∣sonable, bitter and cruel, than a worldly Atheist, whose designs are only after things that are within time; they are Lions and Leo∣pards. 8. Carnal men are often by their neighbour-hood to the Saints, exceeding troublesome, even as Lions in a mountain. 9. Addictednesse to the world, and a surfeit with it's content∣ments, can hardly stand with fellowship with Christ, and is most unbecoming his Bride; therefore he calls her from it. 10. Be∣lievers have, and ought to have a more high, noble and excellent design, than the greatest Conqueror that ever was in the world; The believer in this is beyond Alexander the Great, who desired moe created worlds, but he looks over from the highest top of all these, as undervaluing them, and longing to be at something else. 11. Believers should have their looks directed towards hea∣ven, and their thoughts and affections (even before hand) should be fixed there, Col. 3. 1. Philip. 3. 20, 21. their face should be set that way. 12. It's faith that looks toward Christ, as coming, when he is for the time absent; and when believers cannot win to walk and move towards him, they may look to him; and sure, Christ who calls for this, will accept of it, till the other be attained. 13. Often in the most excellent parts of this world, such 〈◊〉Le••∣non, Hermon, &c. men are most cruel and carnal; and the Bride of Page 224 Christ hath manyest enemies, and sewest friends. 14. The most excellent of created contentments, for profite, honour and plea∣sure, should be denyed and forsaken when Christ calls. 15. There is nothing a believer would watch more against, (as that which marrs fellowship with Christ) than taking excessive contentment in created things. 16. Often a condition which abounds in worldly contentments and delights, is very scarce of Christ's company; therefore when he allowes her his presence, he calls her to leave them, in her affection at least.
3. Because he knows the world is most bewitching, and the af∣fections of his Bride are not soon weaned from it (though this be most necessary) therefore three wayes he presseth her to deny her self in these, and follow him (which is the sum of the call,) 1. Saith he, thou art my Spouse, that is, my Bride: It's the same word which (Ier. 2. 32.) is translated Bride, Can a Bride forget her attire? This title is frequently given her in this Chapter, and vers. 1. Chap. 5. Importing, 1. A marriage-tye and relation be∣twixt him and her. 2. Love in him, owning that relation, and claiming thereby an interest in her. 3. A duty in her to owne him as her Husband, and to forsake all her lovers, that she go not a-whoring after any other, as a wife should cleave to her husband: It's the same with what is pressed, Psal. 45. 10, &c. My Spouse (saith he) thou hast not thy portion in the world, therefore come away from it. 2. He presseth it from the advantage of his own company, which she should enjoy upon her obeying his call: Come with me (saith he) my Spouse, and this is repeated, come with me, that is, thou art mine, and I am thy Husband, wilt thou not then come with me, with me? This is a weighty argument, and none will prevail, if this do not; Christ's company should have more weight, and be of more force to ingage a believer to Christ, than all the pleasantnesse of the world can have to divert them: He is more excellent be far than the mountains of prey, Psal. 76. 4. there∣fore is his company to be preferred to them all. 3. He presseth it, from the heartless condition which she could not but have in the most excellent things in the world without Christ, they were but dens of Lions, not for her to stay with, nor yet any way agree∣ing with her state and case. Hence observe, 1. When Christ and Page 225 the most excellent things in the world are opposed, there will be great odds, and a vast difference seen betwixt them. 2. All the defects that abound in created excellencies, should necessitatethe believer to take himself to Christ; there is no satisfaction for him till he come there. 3. Men have no great losse that loose their affections from the world, and set them on Christ; It's but lea∣ving the dens of Lions, &c. and coming to him, who is more ex∣cellent then all the mountains of prey.
We may also read these words, by way of promise, Thou shall come with me: And the scope will not be against this, it being no lesse an evidence of Christ's love, and no lesse comfortable to the Church, to have his promise, than to have his call; and all his calls having promises implyed in them, both will well agree. And so that which is set down by way of precept, Rom. 6. 12. Let not sin reign in your mortal body, is set down by way of promise, vers. 14. of that Chapter, Sin shall not have dominion over you.
Although what Christ hath spoken in the former verse be won∣derful, yet these expressions, vers. 9, 10. being spoken by Jesus Christ to a poor sinful creature, passeth admiration: They may be looked on as the reason of his former call and promise, he thus seriously invites her to come to him, because he cannot want her Page 226 company; for, his heart is ravished with her. The scope in both verses is the same, but is more clearly exprest, vers. 10. Not so much setting forth the Churches loveliness (though that is not to be excluded) as his loving kindnesse, who is admirably affected to∣wards her, as every word in matter and manner of both, shews. In them consider, 1. The titles given her, which are the same in both verses. 2. What is asserted, and that is, that his heart is ravished. 3. The manner how this is expressed, in a sort of holy passion, doubling the expression. 4. Wherewith it is his heart is so ravished, it's (saith he) with one of thine eyes, &c. In the end of the 9. vers. and more fully amplified, vers. 10.
The titles are two; one of them, namely that she is his Spouse, hath been spoken of; but his repeating of it, shews a kind of glo∣rying in it, as being very much delighted therewith. The other title, my sister, is added, and it doth import these five things, 1. A condescending upon Christ's part to be thus joyned in kind∣red to the believer, and so it takes in his incarnation, whereby he was made in all things like to his brethren, Heb. 2. 17. Our blessed Lord Jesus is man, believers are his brethren and sisters, they are bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh; and for his Brides consolation this is asserted. 2. A priviledge whereto she is ad∣vanced upon her part, and that is, that by Adoption believers are become sons and daughters to the Lord God Almighty, not only friends but children, and so heirs and joynt-heirs with Jesus Christ, Rom. 8. So as now they are his brethren and sisters, which is an unspeakable advancement. 3. It imports a change of nature, as well as of state in believers, so that they partake of the divine na∣ture and Spirit with Christ Jesus, as it is, Heb. 2. 11. He that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified, are of one; which is a spe∣cial ground of his sibnesse and kindred to believers, not common to others, but special to them, and founded on their sanctifica∣tion. 4. It implyes sympathy, friendlinesse, and a kindly esteem in him, that takes her up, and speaks of her, and to her, in all the most sweet relations of mother, sister, spouse, &c. Matth. 12. ult. 5. It shews, his owning of all these relations, he is not ashamed to call believers, sisters and brethren, Heb. 2. 11. Obs. 1. There are many wonderful, near and sweet relations betwixt Christ and Page 227 the believer. 2. Christ is the most faithful owner of them, and is in a most friendly way forth-coming to them, according to them all.
2. The thing asserted here, is, Thou hast ravished my heart: The word in the first language is one, and it signifieth, Thou hast hearted me, or so to speak, Thou hast unhearted me: It's no where else in Scripture, but here; Christ's unspeakable love, as it were, coins new words to discover it self by, it's so unexpressible: The word is borrowed from the passionatnesse of love, when it siezes deeply on a man, it leaves him not master of his own heart, but the object loved hath it, and (as it were) possesseth it, and commands it more than the man himself; so the Gospel saith, where a mans treasure is, (that is, the thing a man esteems most of) there (as it were) his heart is, and not in the party that loves, Mat. 6. 21. So the common phrase is, such a man hath my heart, when he is dearly beloved; and thus in a subtile way, Absolom is said to have stollen away the hearts of the people from his father. It's in sum, my spouse thou hast my heart, thou hast won it, and as it were by violence taken it away, I am not master of it, I cannot but love thee.
It's hard to draw observations, that may suitably expresse the thing here spoken of; only we may hint at these things. 1. Love in Christ to a believer, hath strong and wonderful effects on him, in reference to them. 2. The believer hath Christ's heart, he hath a seat in his affection, he possesseth his love (for no other thing hath his heart) and he may promise himself from Christ, wh••∣ever he can desire for his good, even as if he had his heart under his command; for (so to speak) he can refuse believers nothing, which they seek, and which he knows to be for their good. 3. Love in Christ to a believer, it's at a height, or, it's a love of the high∣est degree: There is no greater intensnesse thereof imaginable; for, to have the heart ravished, is the expression of the greatest love.
3. The manner how he expresseth this, is by doubling the ex∣pression, Thou hast ravished my heart, thou hast ravished my heart: And this is to shew, that this word •ell not rashly from him, but was drawn out by the vehemency of affection in him. 2. That Page 228 he allowes believers to believe this great love and affection he hath to them, and would have them dwelling on the believing thoughts of it; and therfore, he doubles the expression while he intimats his love unto them: Only remember there are no dis∣orderly passions in Christ, as in us; yet, that there is sympathy and love in him, and passionat effects of love from him, can∣not be denyed.
The fourth thing is, wherewith it is his heart is so ravished: It may be thought to be some great thing that thus prevails over Christ: Now what it is, is set down in two expressions, which are joyned to the former, to make this love of his the more won∣derful; that which was conquered, or ravished, was his heart; that which doth it, is her eye, the eye or look of a poor sinful creature, even of such a person, as may be despised in the world, and like Lazarus full of sores, and not admitted to mens compa∣ny. 2. It's not with both her eyes, but (saith he) with one of thy eyes, that is (as it were) with a squint-look; a side-look of the Bride prevailed thus with him. One eye is not here mentioned, as preferring the beauty of one of her eyes to the other; but to shew what excellent beauty is in her, and much more what infi∣nit love is in him, that he could not (because he would not) re∣sist a look of one of her eyes cast toward him. We shew what is understood by eyes, vers. 1. and it's explicat in the following verse, to hold forth love especially here (lovers using to signifie affecti∣on by their eyes) yet it takes in knowledge, as being presuppo∣sed; and faith as going alongst. The second expression is, with one chain of thy neck: These chains were spoken of, Chap. 1. 10. Whereby we shew was signified her inherent holinesse, with im∣puted righteousnesse, which by faith she possessed; and so here also it signifies her graces, especially her exercising faith on him, for so the neck was expounded, vers. 9. to be understood of faith, which joineth the believer to Christ as his head: And it is said to have chains, because it never wants excellent fruits, where∣with it is adorned, when it is exercised. One chain is spoken of, not as if she had not had moe, or as if he did not respect them all, but to hold forth this, that one of her chains (as it were) did overcome him; and so it may be gathered, what will both eyes Page 229 do, and moe chains, when one so prevails. The scope then here doth shew, 1. That Christ is easily prevailed with by his people, O how easily is he overcome by them, who have love to him, and faith in him! 2. That Christ stands not on the degree of his peoples graces, nor doth he suspend his love and acceptation of a person, upon such or such a degree; but where ever reality and sincerity are, if it were in the meanest degree, and but one look, or one chain, he will yield to it, and accept of it. 3. It's to pro∣voke and incourage believers to cast a look to Christ, when they find their faith to be so weak that they can do no more; and to confirm them in the expectation of good from him freely, with∣out any rigid reckoning: It's not only the strong believer, and the strong acts of faith and love, that prevail with Christ, but he condescends to be overcome, even by the weakest, with whom the sincerity of these graces is to be found.
This is further followed and explicat, vers. 10. and that two wayes, 1. By an indefinite question, How fair is thy love! 2. By two comparative questions, whereby in two similitudes, her love is preferred to the most excellent things, How much better, &c. The thing commended, is her love, that is, the love wherewith she loves him, wherewith her heart breathes after him, delights in him, esteems of him, and is zealous to please him, &c. The com∣mendation he gives her love, is, that it is fair. And by the way we may observe, that this clearly shews, that by all the former parts of her beauty, are understood spiritual graces: Now (saith he) thy love is fair, that is, it's lovely and acceptable to me: as beauty and fairnesse are much esteemed amongst men: So this grace of love is a beautiful thing in Christ's Bride. The manner of the expression is by way of question, and admiration, How fair! I can get nothing (saith he) to compare it with: a wonder, that Christ should be so taken with the love of sinners, as to admire it, or think that their love exceeds all expression; for, so men use to expresse what they cannot expresse: But this doth indeed shew, that the heighth and depth and length and breadth of that love, which Christ hath to believing sinners, passeth all knowledge, and is beyond all words. Obs. 1. That a believer is one that loves Christ, and true faith hath alwayes this grace of love joyn∣ed Page 230 to it. 2. That love where it is sincere and true, is a proper∣ty of Christ's Bride and Spouse; there are no other in the world who love him, but these who are espoused to him. 3. Where love to Christ is, there Christ loves; he cannot but love them, that love him; and there is nothing more acceptable to him, than the faith that is working by love. 4. Our Lord Jesus takes special notice of the frame of the heart, and what seat he hath in the af∣fections of his people; he layes more weight on their love, than on their work, though true love can never be without works.
The second way how he explains and illustrates this, is more par∣ticular, by two comparisons, yet keeping still the former manner of expression, by way of question and admiration: The first is, how much better is thy love then Wine! Wine may be looked on in two respects, 1. As it's useful in mans life, and refreshful, Psal. 104. 15. It maketh glad the heart of man, and Eccl. 10 19. It mak∣eth the heart merry: Wine is one of the most comfortable crea∣tures, therefore she calls his love better then Wine, Chap. 1. 2. Thus observe, 1. Christ will not be behind with his people, neither in kindnesse nor in the expressions of it; for, this is beyond hers, Chap. 1. 2. Not that he hath a better object to love, but because the love wherewith he loves her, is like himself, and more excel∣lent then hers. 2. There is no such refreshful thing in all the work of creation of Christ, no such feast, as the warming of a sin∣ners heart with love to him is: This (Luk. 7. 47.) is thought more of by Christ in a poor woman, than all the great feast he was invited unto by the rich Pharisee.
Again, we may look on Wine as used in the ceremonial servi∣ces and drink-offerings, Levit. 23. 13, &c. Thus the meaning is, thy love is preferable to all outward performances and sacrifices, as Hos. 6. 7. Love being the principle within, from which all our performances should flow, it is not opposed to sacrifice simply, or to obedience; but, 1. Supposing these to be separate, he pre∣fers love; if it were to cast in but a mite of duty out of love, it will be more acceptable than the greatest bulk of duties without love, as is clear in the case of the widow, Luk. 21. Yea, if men would give their bodies to be burnt, without this, 1 Cor. 13. 3. it will avail nothing. 2. It saith, that where both the inward prin∣ciple, Page 231 and the outward fruit or work are, the Lord respects that more than this, and he respects this in a manner but for that.
The second comparison is to the same purpose in these words, and the smell of thine Ointments then all spices! Ointments typi∣fied the graces of the Spirit, the pouring out whereof, is called, the unction, Joh. 2. 20. and the oil of joy, Psal. 45. 7. The smell thereof signifieth the acceptablenesse of these graces, when in ex∣ercise; our Lord Jesus finds a sweet •avour in them, as ointments cast a smell that is refreshful to men (as was said upon Chap. 3. 6.) the grace of love mentioned before is here included; but under Ointments there is more comprehended, to shew, 1. That where one grace is, there are all the rest of the graces of the Spirit to be found. 2. That love to Christ, and zeal for him, holds believers stirring, and makes them send forth a sweet and savory smell. This smell is preferred to all Spices, not to one or two, but to all: Spices were either used as gifts, because they were precious and costly; So the Queen of Sheba propined Solomon with them, 2 King. 10. 2. and the wise men offered such to Christ, Mat. 2. 11. And so it saith, there is no such propine can be offered to Christ, as love, and the graces of his Spirit, when they are in exercise. Again, spices were used in the Levitical services, and holy Oil, Exod. 30. 23, 24. and so they are to be considered as Wine was in the last sense formerly spoken of, and it shews how preferable the inward exercise of grace, is to all external duties. Lastly, they are not only prefered, while he saith, thy love is better, &c. but as passing comparison, they are extolled far above all these things with which they are compared, How fair, or how much better is thy love then Wine! &c. O my Spouse (saith he) it's not to be wondered that thy love ravishes my heart; for, there is no crea∣ted thing so precious, nor any external service so acceptable to me, as it is. Hence observe, 1. That inward love, or the inward exercise of grace, and outward performances are separable. 2 That when outward performances are separate from the in∣ward exercise of love and other graces, the Lord respects them not. 3. That love is a good and necessary principle of all due∣ties, and especially of the duties of worship. 4. These who have any thing of the lively exercise of love to Christ, want never a Page 232 propine that will be acceptable to him; if it were but a mite, or a cup of cold-water, or a look to Christ, if love be the prin∣ciple from which these flow, they will be very acceptable with him.
Having thus expressed his affection to his Bride, he breaks forth in a positive commendation of her (which may be looked upon as the ground of the comparative commendation in the former verse) and he describes and commends her at once, these two wayes, 1. Touching, as it were, at some particulars (which are indeed generals) wherein her lovelinesse appears in actual fruits, vers. 11. 2. In seven comparisons he holds forth her fruitfulnesse from the 12. to the 16. vers. wherein he not only commends her by the fruits which she brings forth, but from her fitnesse or ap∣titude to bring forth these fruits, so that she cannot but be fruit∣full; As if one commending an Orchard from the fruit, Apples, Pomegranates, &c. or whatever other fruits are in Orchards, should then fall upon the commendation of the Orchard it self in it's situation, fences, waters, or kinds of the plants, &c. So is it here. And this last commendation, is to be looked upon as the cause of the former.
In this 11•vers. there are three particulars commended: un∣der which we conceive much of the series of a believers walk is understood. The 1. Is her lips: which are commended from this, that they drop as the honey comb: By lips, as vers. 3. and frequently in the Song (and so in the Proverbs, a man of lips is taken for a man of talk) is understood her speech, words or dis∣course, especially to others. These her words, (or her speech) are compared for the matter, to honey or the honey comb, that is Page 233 sweet, nourishing, healthful and pleasant; as Prov. 16. 24. Plea∣sant words are as the honey-comb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones: And by honey in Scripture, is often understood that which is excellent, and useful for the life of man: And therefore it was a property of Canaan, that it flowed with milk and honey, which are put together in the following piece of her commendation. 2. Her speech or words, are commended from the manner or qua∣lification of them, They drop as the honey-comb, &c. Droping words signifie, 1. Seasonable words, which are like dew, drop∣ing for the edification of others, as dew by it's droping makes the fields fruitful. 2. Prudence and moderation in discourse, and so droping is opposed to floods, that with violence overflow. 3. •his phrase •ignifieth a continuance in seasonable, prudent and edifying discourse, as Iob, 27. 22. My words droped on them, and Deut. 31. 2. My doctrine shall drop as the rain: Thus the lips of the wise feed many, Prov. 10. 21. Obs. 1. A believers words tend to edification, and are for the true benefite and advantage of others. 2. Every subject is not the matter of their discourse; but, as the honey, it's excellent and choice, and that which mi∣nistreth grace to the hearers. 3. Mens words give a great proof of what is in them; and when rightly ordered, they are a good evi∣dence of their love and respect to Christ. 4. A well ordered tongue is a most commendable thing before Christ, and every word that proceeds from the mouth, is observed by him. 5. Christ's spouse should be observably different, as to her words and discourse, from all others. Thy lips, O my spouse (saith he) drop as the honey-comb: Implying, that whatever be the way of others, it becomes the spouse of Christ, to have her words sea∣sonable, savoury and edifying.
The second thing here commended, reacheth more inwardly, and it is in these words, honey and milk are under thy tongue: There will be sometimes smooth words as butter, when there is much venome within; it's not so with Christ's Bride. By under the tongue, which is the part commended, we understand the heart or inward-man, as it's distinguished from the bare expression of the tongue or words, which are only spoken (as we say) from the •eth forward: So, Psal. 66. 17. He was exalted under my tongue,Page 234 (as it's in the Original) is expounded in the following verse, by heart-regarding: There was an agreement betwixt his words and his heatt, without which God would not have accepted his words. And seing when it's said of the wicked, that mischief and vanity are under their tongue, Psa. 10. 7. Rom. 3. 13. whereby their de∣ceitful rotten heart, and the venom that is within is signified; So here must be understood inward sincerity, and a good frame of heart within, as well as good words without. The commenda∣tion is, that there are milk and honey under her tongue: It's almost the same with the former; As her words were edifying, so there was much edifying matter in her heart, or under her tongue, the honey-comb (as it were) was there, and it by words droped to others. Milk is added, because it's also sweet and nourishing. In a word, that which he here points at, is, that her inward con∣stitution and frame is like a Canaan, flowing with milk and honey; so fertile and fruitful is Christ's Bride. Here, observe. 1. That Christ takes not only notice of words, but of what is under the words; the disposition and frame of the heart, and the thoughts thereof are observed by him. 2. There is a suitablenesse often betwixt the heart within, and the words without; when there is honey under the tongue, then the tongue cannot but drop; for, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 3. It's a most commendable thing in the believer, when the inner-man is right, in a lively and edifying frame, and when the heart is watched over, so that no thought enters in, or word goes forth, but what is edifying. 4. The heart would be furnished with edifying, profi∣table purpose and thoughts, as well as the mouth with pertinent and useful words; and that is as the fountain, from which this must run and flow. 5. They will feed and edifie others best by their words, who feed best upon the most healthful subjects, and savoury thoughts themselves.
The third thing commended, is, the smell of her garments: Garments are that which covers our nakednesse, and are for de∣corement externally put upon the body; sometimes by them is understood Christ's righteousnesse, whom we are said to put on, Gal. 3. 27. Sometimes our own inherent holinesse, which makes our way comely before others, and hides our nakednesse from them; Page 235 So, Iob. 29. 19. saith, I put on righteousnesse, and it cloathed me. Now here it's to be taken especially in the last sense (though not only) as setting forth the outward adorning of her walk with holinesse; and this is the third part of her commendation, distinguished from the other two, which pointed at her words and thoughts. And so it's the practice of holinesse that is here commended, which is com∣pared to garments, because good works are called the cloathing of such as professe godlinesse, 1 Tim. 2. 9. and 1. Pet. 3. 3, 4. The smell of them, is the savour and relish of these good works to o∣thers, and also to him; even as it's said, that Iacob's garments did smell to his father (to which this may allude) so our holi∣nesse being washen in the blood of the Lamb, is very savoury to him, and is also savoury to others; yea, the smell thereof is as the smell of Lebanon, which was an hill that abounded with trees and flowers, exceeding savoury and delightsome: whereas a cor∣rupt conversation, is exceeding unsavoury, as rottennesse, and dead mens bones. In sum, this compleats believers commenda∣tion, when their words are edifying, their heart answerable to their words in true sincerity, and their outward walk adorning to the Gospel, so as their natural nakednesse and pollution appears not in it. Obs. 1. Where there is true honesty within, it will appear in the fruits of holinesse without. 2. There is no garment or cloathing that can adorn or beautifie men, as holinesse doth a believer. 3. Though outward profession alone be not all, yet is it necessary for compleating the commendation of a believer. 4. Although good works be not the ground of our relation to Christ, but follows on it, and though it be not on the account of our works, that the Lord is pleased with us to justifie us; yet are the good works of a believer and of a justified person, when done in faith, acceptable to God, and an odour and sweet savour to him, Phil. 4. 18.
Having thus summed up her carriage in the former threefold commendation, now he proceeds both to describe and commend her, by a seven-fold comparison, wherein (to say so) the rhetorick of our Lords love abounds: Each of them may point out these three things, 1. They describe somewhat the nature of a believ∣er, or Christ's Bride. 2. They evidence Christ's love and care, which he hath toward her. 3. They hold forth her duty in refe∣rence to her self. We shall shortly explain them, as they re∣late to this scope.
In this 12. verse, we have three of these comparisons, where∣by she is described and commended. 1. She is compared to a garden inclosed: A garden is a plot of ground, separat from other places, for delight and recreation of the owner, having many flowers in it, and much pains taken on it: So believers are, 1. Set a-part by God beside all others in the world, and much pains is taken on them; The trees in Christ's garden are digged about and dunged, Luk. 13. 8. 2. They are his delight, being separat from others for his own use, with whom he dwells, in whom he takes pleasure, and amongst whom he feeds, Chap. 6. 2. 3. They are furnished with many excellent graces, fruits of the Spirit, which are planted in them as flowers in a garden, Gal. 5. 21. Next, this garden is inclosed: It's a special property of gardens to be so; To be inclosed, is by a wall or hedge to be fenced from the trampling and eating-up of beasts, and also from the hazard of winds: So, Isa. 5. 2. the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts (which is his Church) is said to be fenced, a wall is built about it, to defend it from the danger of beasts, and storms. And this sheweth, 1. His care of her, in watching over her, Isa. 27. 23. And, 2. Her watchfulnesse over her self, whereby she is not com∣mon or accessible to every one; but as she is defended by his care, Page 237 so also she hath a watch her self at the door of her lips, of her eyes, of her ears, &c. she is not like a city without walls, obnoxious to every assault and temptation, but hath a hedge of divine pro∣tection, which is as a wall of fire about her to defend her; and also a guard of watchfulnesse and holy fear, in the exercise of which the believer hath rule over his own spirit, which (Prov. 25. 28.) is implyed to be as strong walls about a city.
The second similitude wherewith she is compared, is a spring shut up: Springs were of great price in these hot countries, and served much for making Gardens fruitful, as is implyed, Isa. 58. 11. where it's promised to the Church, thou shall be as a watered Garden: Hence the righteous is called, like a tree planted by the rivers of water, Psal. 1. 3. And on the contrary, the barren condition of his people is described, Isa. 1. 30. by the similitude of a Gar∣den, that hath no water. In a word, she is not only a Garden, but a spring, that is furnished with moisture and water, for making her fruitful. More particularly, by this may be set out the graces of the Spirit, compared to waters, Joh. 7. 38, 39. and said to be∣come a well of water in these that believe on Christ, Ioh. 4. 14. for, these graces of the Spirit, and his influence on them, doth keep all things in the believers souls case fresh and lively, as a spring doth make a Garden green and fruitful. Next, this spring is shut up, for so were springs in these countries, where they were rare, as we see by Iacobs rolling the stone away, Gen. 29. 8. And this kept the waters from being corrupted by the Sun, and also from being bemudded by beasts: This signifieth the preciousness of the graces and influences of the Spirit, wherewith believers are furnished. 2. Purenesse and clearnesse in them, as in waters that are not bemudded. 3. A care she hath to keep them pure from carnal passions, or fruits of her own spirit, that would bemudd all.
The third comparison is on the matter the same, but adds a further degree to the former; She is (saith he) a fountain sealed: A fountain may signify waters springing in greater aboundance; and sealing doth signify not only shuting up, but securing it by a seal, after it is shut up: So the den of Lions was sealed, after Da∣niel was cast into it, Dan. 6. 17. And the stone was sealed, that was put on Christ's grave, that so it might not be opened by any, Page 238 but by these that sealed it. And though there be other uses of sealing, yet we conceive that which is aimed at here is, 1. To shew the Church is not common, but well kept and sealed, so that none can trouble believers peace without Christ's leave, who hath sealed them by his Spirit to the day of Redemption, Eph. 4. 30, &c. 2. To shew Christ's particular right to the Church and her graces, and his owning of her and them, she bears his seal (as the 144000. Rev. 7. are sealed) there is none but himself, that hath accesse to these waters; her graces and fruits are all reserved for him, Chap. 7. 13. 3. It shews (to say so) her closenesse, and resolute watchfulnesse, so that there is no gaining upon her to bemudd her condition, without advertancy and observation, more than waters can be drawn from a sealed fountain, the seal not being broken: Like that phrase, Prov. 5. 15. Drink out of thine own cistern, let them be thine own, &c. She hath her own distinct fountain, from which shew draws influences, and that she preserves and secures to her self. 4. It shews a kind of sacrednesse in this fountain, so that nothing may meddle with it, more than that which is marked and separate by a seal. In sum, the first comparison shews, that Christ's Bride or the believer is to be fruitful. The second, what makes her fruitful, the spring of the Spirit. The third shews her care to keep it clear, and to have it running and flowing, that she may be fruitful.
The fourth comparison follows, vers. 13, 14. wherein she is compared to an Orchard (as before to a Garden) planted with Page 239 diverse and excellent plants. Now, this includes these three things, which he adds to the former commendation, 1. That the belie∣ver hath many graces, he is an Orchard that is planted with many trees and plantes. 2 That the believers graces, as they are many, so they are various; and therefore trees and spices of di∣verse sorts are reckoned here. 3. That the believers graces are excellent for kind, as well as many for number and variety, they are as Spikenard, Saffron, &c. with all the chief spices. And as it commends an Orchard, to have many plants, and great variety, and to want none; so to have them of the best kinds, adds much to the commendation, when it's fruitful of these. Thus the be∣liever is furnished with many various graces of the Spirit, as plants planted in his soul, and these of the best kind, rising from the most excellent seed that can be, the Spirit of Christ. And so the graces of believers are rare and precious, in respect of any thing that natural men have, which are but like shrubs in a dry wildernesse.
Besides these; we may further observe, 1. That to have fruit and aboundance of fruit, will not prove one to be a believer, ex∣cept it be choice fruit which he brings forth. 2. Believers fruits, and the graces that are in them, differ from the most excellent parts and gifts that can be in natural men, or most refined hypo∣crites. 3. It's excellent and commendable, when all the graces of the Spirit flow and increase together in the believer.
It's like, the Holy Ghost may here signify the effects and pro∣perties of diverse graces, by these several spices and fruits; and it may be Solomon understood the particular signification of every one of them; for, having so great an insight in natural and spiri∣tual things, it's like he did not conjecturally, but on knowledge, mention such spices and no others; but we must hold on the ge∣neral: They are precious, physical, savory and delectable fruits, and so are the graces of the Spirit to one that hath them, to o∣thers they converse with, and to Christ in respect of his accepta∣tion; they are like an Orchard or Garden, that abounds with these: This is the scope, wherein we rest.
The fifth, sixth and seventh similitudes, are contained in this verse, wherein the Lord, following the same scope, further insists and explicats what manner of fountain this is, which makes the believer so fruitful. 1. She is a fountain of Garden: A fountain was spoken of, vers. 12. whereby is signified an inward principle (to say so) or spring, which from within sendeth forth and furni∣sheth waters: Here she is called a fountain of Gardens, she was called a Garden, vers. 12. here a fountain of Gardens in the plural number. By this is holden forth, 1. The end of grace in a be∣liever, it is given him not only for himself, but also for the use of others, as the gifts of the Spirit are given to every one to pro∣fite withall, 1 Cor. 11. 7. 2. It shews that believers act and ex∣ercise their graces for others edification, as a fountain that some∣way is common for the use of moe Gardens, and so it points out what publick spirits they should have, intending the edification of all to whom they can conveniently communicat their gifts and graces. 3. It shews the aboundance of spirit and life (to say so) wherewith Christ's Bride is furnished, so as she may communicate for the admonishing, strengthning and edifying of others with her self, as it's, Rom. 15. 14. where believers are said to be full of goodnesse, filled with all knowledge, and able to admonish one another.
The sixth similitude is, A well of living waters: This is not only to difference her from a cistern, that hath water, but hath no spring in it, but also to shew the nature of the Spirit of grace in believers, it proves quickning and healing to these that have it: Both these are held forth, Ioh. 4. 14. He that drinks of this water shall never thirst, for it shall be in him a well of living-water, spring∣ing up to eternal life. So is it also, Ioh. 7. 38, 39. where the Spi∣rit of grace is, it will be springing; and grace will never dry up, where it is true.
The last similitude is, And streams from Lebanon: Which saith, that Christ's Bride is not only a fountain, but also she is a stream: Page 241 and it holdeth forth, 1. That grace in her hath it's rise from a∣nother, though it beget a spring in her, as if Lebanon sent a stream to a Garden, which did become a spring by it's constant flowing there. 2. By a stream also is set forth the aboundance of grace in believers, it is in them not as a brook, but as a stream.. Next, Lebanon was a hill much commended, it's like sweet streams issued from it: It's written, that Iordan which watered much of the land, had it's rise and spring there. In the 5. Chapter, vers. 15. Christ's countenance is compared to Lebanon, and so here, while the flowing of grace in her is called a stream from Lebanon, the derivation of grace, and of the Spirit from Christ Jesus is holden forth; which though it have a seat, and becomes a fountain in the believer, yet it hath it's rise from him, and is kept flowing and springing by him; It's as a fountain derived by a stream from Lebanon, and otherwise any spring of grace, that is in a believer would soon run dry. All these being put together, and compa∣red with what is before, shew, 1. That the believer is fitted by Christ not only with spiritual life, and a stock of habitual graces, but also with every thing that may make him lively and fruitful in the exercise of these. 2. This contrivance of spiritual influ∣ence that makes believers fruitful, is a most lovely and excellent thing. 3. The great commendation of believers is grounded upon the graces of the Spirit that are in them, and upon the in∣fluences of the same Spirit that comes from Christ to them. 4. Where grace is, it will have fruits, and be savory in the con∣versation, in the exercise thereof. 5. It's the best evidence of grace, and of Christ's influence and Spirit, when it appeareth in the fruits; These prove the believer to be an Orchard, and a fountain. 6. These graces that make a believer fruitful, have not their rise in, or from a believer, but from Christ, and the fountain that is in them, is but a stream that comes from him.
Christ having now been large in commending the Bride, she steps to in this verse (as it were, taking the opportunity of his neernesse) and puts up her desires to him, briefly in two suits, which are grounded on the commendation that he gives her, and shews what is the great design that she aims at now when she hath Christ's ear; and she follows these suits so, as she acknowledgeth all her fruitfulnesse (for which she is commended) to flow from him, and to depend on him, who is therefore so much the more to be commended and extolled himself. In sum, the sense is this, Though I be a garden (saith she) and have good plants, habitu∣ally in me, yet will they not bud nor flow, nor can they be fruit∣full except the spirit (which is as the stream from Lebanon) blow to make them so: Therefore, O Spirit come, and let me partake of thy influences and breathings, that my beloved may have an invitation thereby, to come; and when come, may be intertain∣ed upon his own fruits.
The first petition is, for livelinesse and fruitfulnesse: The se∣cond is, for the beloved's presence, which is the end of the for∣mer. And these two, life and sense, are (as it were) the air that kindly-believers love to breath into. That both these are the Brides words, may thus be collected, 1. Because they look prayer-like, and it's more suitable for her to say, come, than for him: yea, the Spirit being invited to come to the garden, it's clear the party that speaks hath need of his presence: And that it's not said, Page 243 go, but come, with reference to the necessity of the party that speaks, doth make it evident, that it cannot be spoken by the Bride∣groom, but by the Bride; for, so the phrase every where, and in the next words, Let my beloved come, Imports, 2. That the last part of the verse is her suit, none can deny; and there is no reason to conceive two different parties, seing both the matter of the suits, and the manner of speaking, will agree to the same party.
In the first petition, we may consider these two, 1. The thing sought. 2. The end wherefore that which she seeks and prayes for, is held forth, as it were, in three steps or degrees, in three expressions, awake, O north-wind, come thou south, blow upon my garden. For understanding whereof, we are to look, 1. What these winds signifie. 2. What this garden is. And, 3. What these act, of awaking, coming and blowing are. By winds often in Scripture is understood the Spirit of God in his mighty ope∣rations, as Ezek. 37. 3. and 14. And the special work and opera∣tion of the Spirit is compared to wind, 1. For it's purifying na∣ture. 2. For it's cooling, com•orting, refreshing power and efficacy. 3. For it's fructifying vertue, winds being especially in these hot countries, both exceeding refreshful, and also useful to make trees and gardens fruitful. Lastly, for it's undiscernable manner of working, as, Ioh. 3. 6. the wind blows where it lists, &c. yet hath his operation real effects with it. And it's clear that the Spirit, is here intended, because it's the Spirit's blowing that only can make the spices or graces of a believer to flow, as the wind doth the seeds and flowers in a garden. Next, by north and south∣wind, are understood the same Spirit, being conceived and taken up in respect of his diverse operations (as it's, 1 Cor. 12. 6, 7, 8. &c. and therefore called the seven spirits of God, Rev. 1. 4.) sometime cooling and in a sharper manner nipping, as the North∣wind, sometimes working in his people more softly and warmly, and in a still and quiet manner like the South-wind; yet, as both winds are useful, for the purging and making fruitfull of a garden; so are the diverse operations of the Spirit, to the souls of be∣lievers. In a word, hereby is understood, the different opera∣tions of the Spirit, whether convincing and mortifying, or quick∣ning Page 244 and comforting, &c. Both which contribute to make her lively and fruitful, which is the scope of her petition.
2. By garden, is understood the believer, called a garden, vers. 12. and an orchard, vers. 13. because the believer doth a∣bound in diverse graces, as a garden doth in many flowers. And she calls it my garden, as he calleth the plants her plants, that were planted there, vers. 13. and as she called the vineyard hers, Chap. 1. 6. and 8. 12. which also is his, vers. 11. as also this garden is called his in the following words, Chap. 6. 1. It's his by proprie∣ty, as the heritor and puchaser; as also, all these graces in her are hers, as being the servant that hath the over-sight of them, and who hath gotten them as talents to trade with for the Ma∣sters use. All that we have, viz. a soul, gifts, graces, &c. are given to us as talents, which we are to d•esse for bringing fo•th fruit to the owner, as the following words do clear.
3. The actings and workings of the Spirit, are held forth in three words, which are as so many branches of her petition. The first is, awake. This word is often used by God's people in dealing with him, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord, &c. Isa. 51. 9. It is not as if the Spirit were at any time sleeping, but she desires that by some effects, sensible to her, he would let it be known he is stirring. The second word, come, is to the same purpose: the Spirit considered in himself, cannot be said to come or go, being every where present; But this is to be understood, in re∣spect of the effects of his presence, and so he is said to come and go: Thus while she saith, come, the meaning is, Let me find some sign of thy presence, quickning and stirring my graces. The last word is, blow upon my garden: Blowing holds forth the operation, whereby the Spirit produceth his effects in believers; It's not the Spirit himself, nor the fruits of the Spirit that are in believers, that are here understood, but the operation of the Spi∣rit, whereby he influenceth, or (if we may so speak) infuseth them (as God breathed in Adam the breath of life) and where∣by he stirrs, excits and quickens them for acting. The prayer then, is directed to the Spirit (as, Rev. 1. 14.) considering the Spirit essentially as the same God with the Father and Son, (in which respect, to pray by name to one person of the Godhead, is Page 245 to pray to all the three, who in our worship are not to be divid∣ed) that he would by his operations (which are diverse and va∣rious for believers good) so stir and quicken his own graces in her, that seing she is a garden wherein the beloved takes pleasure, her graces for his satisfaction may be exercised, and made to savour, to the end that he may the more manifest himself in sweet com∣munion with her.
Next, the end wherefore she presseth this suit so much, is, that her spices may flow out: In a word it is, that she might be fruitful; for, though there were many graces in her, yet, with∣out the Spirit's breathings and influences, they would be as un∣beaten spices, that did not send forth their smell.
Obs. 1. Although a believer have grace, yet it is not alwayes in exercise; yea, it may be, and often is interrupted in it's ex∣ercise. 2. That the believers great desire is to be fruitful, and to have grace in exercise, that they may be delighted in by Christ; It's not only their desire to have grace habitually, but actually to have it in exercise. 3. There is nothing can make a believer lively and fruitful, but the influences of the Spirit: and that same Spirit that works grace, must quicken it and keep it in ex∣ercise. 4. There may be an interruption of the influences of the Spirit, so as his blowing may in a great measure cease. 5. The same Spirit hath diverse operations, and diverse wayes of working and manifesting himself: sometimes as the South-wind, more smoothly; sometimes as the North-wind, more sharply. 6. All his operations, how rough soever some of them may appear, are alwayes useful to believers, and tend to make them fruitful: And to this end, the most sharp influences, contribute, as well as the more comfortable. 7. Believers would walk under the con∣viction of their own inability to act their graces, and of the ne∣cessity of the Spirit's influences, for drawing them forth to acting and exercise. 8. They who are thus sensible, may seek after the Spirit for that end: and it's a good frame in order to the ob∣taining of life and quickning by the Spirit of Christ, when the sense of their own inability, their love of fruitfulnesse, and the faith of attaining it by his Spirit, puts them to seek after it. Page 246 9. Prayer is a necessary and excellent mean for stirring up one in a secure frame, and for attaining the Spirit to revive and quicken the work of his grace. 10. Believers may beg the Spirit to quicken them, when they find themselves lifelesse; as well as they may ask pardon, when they find themselves under guilt. 11. Believers will be, and should be as desirous of livelin•sse and fruitfulnesse, as of sense: yea, this is the order by which they must come, and should seek to come to the obtaining of sensible presence. 12. No commendation of any atainment in believers, nor any clearnesse of interest, should make them sit down on their attainments, or become negligent; but, on the contrary, should stir them up to aim at the more livelinesse and spiritualnesse, that they may be answerable to that interest they have in him, and to the commendation he allows upon them: For which cause, this petition follows immediatly upon the former commendation.
The second petition, which goes alongst with the former, is for the beloved's presence, Let my beloved (saith she) come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits: Her desire here, is two∣fold, 1. That Christ would come: This doth respect a greater degree of neernesse, notwithstanding of any thing she injoyed. 2. That he would eat his pleasant fruits, that is, familiarly, and friendly delight in his own graces; and therefore it was she pray∣ed for the influences of the spirit, that there might be abun∣dance of fruits for his satisfaction. The way she presseth this pe∣tition is very kindly, though the words be short. 1. She pres∣seth it from the relation she had to him, Let my beloved (saith she) come: This makes her request and invitation warm and kindly. 2. From the kind of the fruits; they are pleasant fruits, that is, delectable in themselves, and acceptable to him. But, 3. Lest this should derogat from him, and arrogat to her self, she adds his pleasant fruits; they are his, and that makes them plea∣sant, so that he cannot but accept them: they are his being pur∣chased by him, wrought by him, keeped in life by him; though he hath made me the garden (saith she) wherein they grow (and the garden, as it hath weeds, is hers) yet all the good fruits, in so far as any of them are to be found in me, are his: In sum, all Page 247 all my desire is this, 1. To be fruitful, Then, 2. To have Christ's company, shewing himself pleased and present with me. Obs. 1. Whatever believers have, they neither will, nor can rest upon it; nay, not in the most eminent measures of holinesse attainable here∣away, without Christ's presence and company. 2. Fruitfulnesse and livelinessehelp and contribute much to the injoyment of Christ's manifestations, Ioh. 14. 21. 23. 3. Believers that aim seriously at the exercise of grace in themselves, may confidently invite Christ to come, and may expect his presence. 4. All believers fruits, even when quickned by the Spirit, are Christ's. 5. This would be acknowledged, and when we are most fruitful, we would look on our fruits, not as our own, but as his still. 6. Christ will seed or delight in nothing, but what is his own, and is acknowledged by his people to be so: And there can nothing, which he will accept of, be set before him but such. 7. Believers end and design in pursuing livelinesse and fruitfulnesse, is not, and ought not so much to be their own satisfaction, and the seeding of themselves, as the satisfaction of Christ, and the pleasing of him; for, that is his eating his pleasant fruits; which is the Brides great desire and design, when she calls for the North and South-wind, to blow upon her garden.