A COMMENTARY VPON THE CANTICLE OF CANTICLES, WRIT­ten first in Italian by Antonio Brucioli, and now translated into English by Th. Iames fellow of New colledge in Oxford.

Greater is he that prophecieth, then he that speaketh diuers tongues, except he expound it, that the Church may receiue edification.

1. Cor. 14. v. 4.

Come and eate of my meate, and drinke of the wine that I haue drawen.

Prov. 9. v. 5.

LONDON Printed by R. F. for Tho. Man. 1598.

TO THE RIGHT HONORABLE SIR THO­mas Egerton Knight, Lord Keeper of the great seale of England, Thomas Iames wisheth increase of health, wealth and prosperitie in this life, and end­lesse ioy, happinesse & immortality in the life to come.

SAint Hierome com­plained of the mul­titude and abuse of writers in his time. Salomon to shew the vanity of mē in wri­ting of bookes, be­ginneth one of his bookes with Vanitie. Vanitie of vanities (saith Salomon the Preacher) vanitie of vanities, and all is but vanitie: and as he beginneth his booke so he endeth it, as if from the beginning vnto the ending, [...]here were nothing but vanity in all o­ther [Page] bookes, the holy Scripture onely excepted, no part or parcell whereof may be guilty of the least thought of va­nitie in the world; the holy Ghost being in the holy scripture as the soule is in the bodie, all in all, and all in euery part. And therefore in the later ende of his booke to leade vs vnto the beginning of true wisedome, he pricketh men forward and exhorteth them to the diligent reading of Gods words, the words of truth, by comparing them vnto prickes and nailes fastned by the masters of the assemblies. To auoyd Saint Hieromes complaint, & follow Salomons godly exhortation, the Author of this present treatise vpon the Canticles, did exercise him self from his infancie in the studie of Gods word, the which he read so earnestly and eagerly, as if (as Saint Austin saith) he could ne­uer haue read it sufficiently, though h [...] should haue begun neuer so soone, and liued neuer so long. But finding the scriptures by his owne experience so written in diuerse places (though all Scripture be written for our instruction) as if i [...] [Page] were not written, as it was sayd of cer­taine bookes of Aristotle: in so much that when the Eunuch readeth, Philip had need to stand by & interpret. He thought it good, for the good of the Church and glorie of God, to bestow the greatest part of his time, partly in translating the Bible into his mother tongue (which he did most exactly) partly in writing such a commentarie vpon the Bible, as might in doubtfull and hard places fully satisfie and content the minde of the religious reader. Now there are many which haue written vpon the Bible learned and godly commentaries in all tongues & langua­ges, many more now (thanks be to God) in these later dayes, thē in former times: but of all late writers, there is none (for any that I haue seene or heard) which may be compared with this Brucioli, for absolute and exquisite knowledge in the tongues, great reading in the Fathers, shortnesse and plainnesse in deliuering of the meaning of the holy Ghost, and last of all such soundnesse in Religion, & integritie of doctrine, as may seeme ad­mirable [Page] in any man, but in Brucioli and Italian, wonderfull beyond the degree of [...] admiratiō. For surely as it seemed strāge [...] vnto the Iewes, that out of Galile should come any good: so it is no lesse stranges vnto some, that Italie should affoord vs any good; Italy being the cage of vn­cleannesse, and seate of Antichrist. But God, the God of the Gentiles as well as of the Iewes, the God of Italians as of Englishmen, no accepter of persons, or respecter of place, hath euen in Italie many (peraduenture thousands) which haue not bowed their knees vnto Baal, e­lecting some out of each nation & coun­trey, to make vp the summe of his elect. Now as God in his mercie hath stirred vp some to defende his glorie in other countreys, so hath he raised vp this Bru­cioli to be a principall setter forth of his glorie in Italie, which that man of sinne the Romane Antichrist perceiuing, hath therefore laboured to suppresse and abo­lish his painfull labours: but man purpo­seth and God disposeth. For as they haue bene forbidden twise, so twise haue they [Page] bene printed, and that in no other place then Venice, dedicated to men of the contrary religion, which (it should seem) he professed, and submitted to the cen­sure of our holy mother the Church: pro­uided that out of the Scriptures and Fa­thers they should be able to refute his doctrine, which out of thē both he had most learnedly cōpiled. The time wherin he liued I find not certainly set downe of any: but this is most certaine, that he li­ued about the time of Conradus Pellica­nus, some 70 or 80 yeares ago, and that Pellican did verie much profite him­selfe by Brucioli, or Brucioli by Pellicans writings: which is the more probable, by how much the more Brucioli hath in his Cōmentary, besides that which is out of Pellican translated into his books word for word in diuerse places. The order & method which he obserued in his Com­mentarie is such as deserueth to be imi­tated of all men that labour in this busi­nesse, in easie and facill places of the Bi­ble, either to be altogether silent, or very short and briefe: in harder places to be [Page] more plentifull and copious, in no place spending paper and inke in idle and vn­profitable questions, such as tend not to edification. As to dispute the case in this Commentarie vpon the Canticles, whe­ther of the three bookes which Salomon wrote, he wrote the Canticles in the first or second place, as the Iewes ima­gine, or last of all, as all the Latine wri­ters do consent. Whether there be more persons then foure, or whether this book be meant literally of Pharaohs daughter, or mystically of the Church: these que­stions being farre aboue the reach of the commō sort of people, he omitteth pur­posely. And because all writers with one voyce consent that the Church is meant by the Spouse, he so taketh it without a­ny further adoe, instructing vs in these points of religion, necessary to be taught of him and vnderstood of vs. That the Church here militant consisteth of two parts, a visible and an inuisible: that in the Church Christ must beare rule, and not Peter; that Gods word must be heard, and not mens traditions: finally he tea­cheth [Page] vs the necessitie of faith, and fruite of good workes: these are the principall points which he handleth in this booke, euery where ioyning with them matter of comfort and exhortation: and thus much for Brucioli and his Commentary. Now for my selfe and my translation, I could haue wished that others which haue the gift of interpretation, wold haue taken the worke in hand, but seeing they haue bene slacke in this businesse, I haue for that exceeding great loue which I beare vnto t [...] workes of this learned man, a stranger, but not from the faith, translated this booke of the Canti­cles, with that minde which he wrote it, to the glorie of God and benefite of his Church. In translating of it I haue not yeelded word for word, but sence for sence, and sentence for sentence. For the text I haue not followed mine Authour, but taken the authorized translation in our English Bibles, for that it is a matter of great difficultie, and not for a young man to translate: and is besides war­ranted by Fulke against the Papists, and [Page] learned Maister Hooker against our ad­uersaries at home; only I haue noted the differences which are not many, either by the side of the booke, or in the text of the Commentarie. This small labour of mine, I am bold to present vnto your Lordship (right Honorable.) Others for other respectes, out of the treasures of their wits and industries, haue presented you with greater volumes: my self being young in yeares and poore in wit, do of­fer vp into your hands, all that I haue as yet prouided, which is at the most but a poore Orphans mite. Which I do in this respect onely; for that honorable regard which your Lordship hath of learning & religiō, which are the loadstones to draw the hearts of men vnto you. For which cause my self being as yet vnknowne vn­to your Lordship, am moued to sue vnto the same for protection; for protection for my selfe, and defence for mine Au­thor, a meere stranger; the title of your office and vertuous disposition to others doth promise vs great comfort. For see­ing God hath made you a Keeper, and [Page] that as it is here in the Canticles, of ma­ny vines, and that you haue kept your vines so, that of the frute thereof hath bene made wine right comfortable vnto many drooping hearts in this land, what remaineth there in me, but to be confi­dent in your Honors kind acceptance of this booke, and to beseech God the true keeper of Israel, which neither slumbreth nor sleepeth, long to preserue your Ho­nour in health, to the maintenance of learning and religion, the preseruation of her Maiestie, and vniuersall good of this land.

Your Honors in all dutie, Thomas Iames.

The Translatour to the courteous and Christian Reader.

A Christian I presume thou art that readest this booke, curteous I call thee, because I hope to find thee so: it is as much as I desire, and surely no lesse doth mine Author deserue His name is Brucioli, by birth an Italian, his countrey (as I guesse) Florence, and therfore a stranger; if a stranger, intreat him as a stranger, that is, gently & kindly, and know that it is thy du­tie, if it be not thy curtesie so to do: for there is a dutie which belongeth vnto strangers, commanded in the Law, and commended in the Gospell. As a stranger by birth, so good must be done vnto him in generall, but as he is not a stranger frō the faith, so we are bound to shew him special fauor: for so the Apostle S. Paul [...] willeth vs for to do; Do good (saith he) vnto all men, but especiallie or chieflie to those which are of the houshold of faith. Of this houshold was Brucioli, and not of that other houshold of good workes, where none but merit-mongers and superarrogant or superogating Papists dwel. Reade his Com­mentarie, and thou wilt confesse as much: there is often mention of faith, of iustificati­on by faith only, of faith and iustification by imputation: still faith comes in, as if our [Page] actions were as insipid and vnpleasant with­out faith, as the old sacrifices were vnsauory without salt. The Law requireth salt in all sa­crifices, Brucioli requireth faith in euery acti­on: he maketh it the subiect of his discourse, brings it in in euerie chapter, in euerie page, yea almost in euerie line, as if it were the cen­ter wherunto all the lines of his commenta­rie must of force haue bene drawne. Em­brace his booke therfore in thine hands, and entertain his doctrine into thine heart. Scorne him not because hee is not attired after the fine Italian fashion, for this were to accept of him for his good apparrell and not for his good partes, which Saint Iames noted for a fault in the Iewes. Brucioli is now in Eng­land & not in Italie, & therfore must be con­tēt with such apparrel as our coūtry affords, he hath the best that could be gottē for him, for indeed it is all that could be gotten, either he must haue this or none, & better this then none, for I hope it is good & strong, though it be not very costly & fine: the finest thredes be not euer the best, for thē spiders wold vn­do weauers & spinners, & be set a work more thē they be, & yet I cannot say but they work too fast many times: but alas it is in sucking soure out of sweet, & drawing forth poyson from hony. These creatures I do not like, the Lyon naturally hateth the mouse, the sheepe [Page] a wolf, & naturally I do abhor these men frō my very heart, & therfore if any spider come vpon my book, it shall be lawful for any mā either to sweep, or els to blow him away, for he is but a light person of himselfe, and easily blowne away that spendeth his time in this sort, how heauy soeuer hee prooue to others. They say there be no spiders in Ireland, their houses are built of such a wood as breedeth none: O that England were as Ireland in this respect, and that all our houses were built of this kind of timber, then would the house of God go better forward then it doth, and we shold be fitter men to be temples of the holy Ghost thē we are: but now the world is as ful of these wicked creatures, as euer Egipt swar­med with frogs: there was no house, no place in Egypt but there were frogges to be found: there is no place, no house almost in Englād where there are not some of these venimous spiders to be found: a man shal find thē euery wherein citie & fields, in beds and at boord, in court & country. If a yong man write, they say his head is too greene: if an old man, they say his best is past: if a mā of middle age, they say at that time his body is more fit for actiō, then his mind is apt to contēplation: so that neither old, nor yong, nor middle aged wri­ters can please thē, & no maruel, for I thinke they cannot please themselues. But chiefly these spider-catching Zoilusses do shoot the [Page] venime of their tongues against painfull tran­slators of bookes which seeke other mens pro­fits, & not their owne, reaping not the fruit of that which they haue sowne, and like candles spending thēselues to giue others light. But what saith M. Momus with his crue of carping knights, these men mar all with their translati­ons, it was neuer well with vs (that is, that are learned) since so many books were translated into english, their labor were better spared thē imployed, they corrupt bookes, misinterpret writers, are enemies vnto the cōmon wealth, & enemies to all good learning. If this be all they haue to say, they say in word somewhat, in ef­fect nothing: for either they take that for a salt, which is not so indeed, or els they knowe not how to distinguish the abuse frō the thing, & so speake against they know not what. Transla­tors haue their faults & abuses as well as other men, as when they translate foolish & vnprofi­table, or wicked & vngodly books, or els mis­translate & misinterpret books, and then the a­buse proceedeth either of malice or of igno­rāce: if of malice their reproofe is iust; if of ig­norance, blame thē not, vnles it be affected: for the best that is may misse in a strāge language, whē no man knoweth all in his owne tongue. And thus far reacheth their complaint against the abuse of translations, which may in no wise be excused. As for the harme that cōmeth by making learning too cōmon, mē of cōmon [Page] iudgement may by vulgar examples easily re­fute them. The sunne & moone, fire and water are profitable, & yet common: the Philosopher saith, Bonum quò communius, eò melius: good the commoner it is, the better it is: if it bee true in philosophie, it is true in diuinity, & therfore S. Paul wisheth that all men were learned as hee was, and that all men could speak with diuers tongues as he did, &c. I would that these men which think they haue S. Paules learning, had S Paules zeale (so it were according to know­ledge) to seeke other mens good and not their own; for now marchāts do not monopolize the goods of a citie more thē these do appropriate vnto thēselues the learning of whole vniuersi­ties, & whē they haue it, what do they with it, but keep it vnto thēselues? Because I wold not be of this odious sect of men (most curteous & Christian reader) I haue at vacant times trāsla­ted according to that measure of knowledge which God hath giuen me, both this book and some others, as the historie of the Iesuits, & Mo­rall Philosophy of the Stoickes, which with per­missiō of my superiors, I mean shortly to pub­lish, if God wil, and health permit me so to do. Take this booke in good part: accept of my good wil, fault pardon & amend, whether they be the Printers or the translators: the preface is the Authors & not mine, it escaped both me & the Printer before I was aware, the rest read corrected in the latter end of the booke.

The Preface to the Booke.

THis booke of the Canticles is a holy and admirable booke, very spirituall, full of myste­ries and most hidden senses; whereby it is most euident, that they haue bene not a litle deceiued, which go about to diminish the credit and authoritie thereof: for because herein are contained, sundry enterchangeable discourses, and dialogues of mutuall loue betweene the bride and the bridegrome, therefore forsooth haue they thought it good to call this booke in questiō; as if it were not an vsuall matter with the holy Ghost in the holy Scripture, to set down the sincere and vnfained loue of God and the Church, vnder the figure of chast and holy wedlocke: as also to discouer the force of wickednesse and Idolatrie, by the simili­tude of the adulterous woman, as it is to be seene in the second and third of Ieremie, [Page] and in the sixteenth Chapter of Ezechiel. Besides all this, there are certaine places in this booke, whereby no otherwise then as it were by certaine beames and lights, this point is made so cleare and manifest, that we may very well say without any maner of doubt or wauering at all, that this Treatise is not carnally and literally, but spiritually and mystically to be vnderstood. In such sort, that I hold this for an vnfallible and certaine truth, that there are comprehen­ded and contained in this small booke, the exceeding great affection and loue of our Lord Iesus Christ, and the holy Church of the faithfull beleeuers, the necessarie vse of the word of God, the profite and pleasant­nesse thereof, the efficacie of faith, and heat of charity. Furthermore we learne to know what are the operations of the spirit, and what are the works of the flesh: & briefly, that which doth any maner of way cōcerne or respect the Church; and all this, vnder the figuratiue talk and communication be­tweene the Bridegroome and the Spouse. Now Christ is the Bridegroome, as it is in the 3. of Iohn verse 29. He that hath the [Page] bride, is the bridegrome, and the Church is his spouse. Hosea Chapter 2. Thou shalt call me Ishi or my husband, & I wil marry thee vnto me for euer. And this spouse is atten­ded on with her young maidens, that is to say, with the particular soules of the faith­full, which do follow after the odoriferous and sauery ointments of our Sauiour Iesus Christ. And the bridegrome likewise hath his friends that do follow & accōpany him, to wit, the true Bishops, & sincere Prechers of the word of God, which he cals vnto him to eate & drinke, & make merry with him. These men heare the voyce of the Church, that is to say, the words of Christ. Neuer­thelesse, this is not so to be vnderstood, but that all the faithfull may rightly terme thē ­selues frēds of the bridegrome. The title or inscriptiō is the Song of Songs, as if therin were contained songs which did farre ex­ceed all other songs, in plenty of holy myste­ries, and they are called the songs of Salo­mon, or Salomons songs, because hee writ them being inspired by the holy Ghost of the true Salomon Iesus Christ. VVe reade of many Canticles or songs in the scripture, as [Page] the song of Moyses, Deborah, Iosua, Anna, Dauid, Abacuck, and others, but this booke compriseth not one onely song which Salo­mon song, but there are many songs herein contained, all written in one book, but con­cerning one matter, and one argument; wherin are expressed most truly the chari­tie, faith, loue, ioy, delights, and diuerse kinds of benefits (not without vehemēt & earnest affections) wherewith our most lo­uing & merciful redemer doth follow his e­lect with inexplicable graces, by the grace & fauor of the almighty God. So that they being stirred vp by the holy Ghost, do with certaine vnspeakeable affections of loue, regard, behold, and approch neere vnto the diuine grace and bountie of God: desiring most earnestly and deuoutly to be commen­ded, approoued, and daily more and more e­steemed and fauoured of him: in such sort that if there be found any error or fault in their liues and conuersations (as spots and blots or wennes in their forheads do some­times happen) yet that they may not be re­fused or reiected for this or the like things, or have any cause to distrust his mercifull [Page] kindnesse or louing fauor, but that the fal­ling out of louers, may be the renewing of loue. For louers being iealous one of another are mutually and suddenly prouoked vnto wrath, & as suddēly reconciled and pacifi­ed, and afterwards they become greater friends then they were before. This then is the principall intent and purpose of this booke. This is the song of God the spouse, vnto euery faithfull soule, and generally vnto al the Church. Neither are we to look for any precise order in this dialogue or cō ­munication, which is not vsuall amongst perfect louers, where all things how soeuer and where soeuer done, are taken in very good part, where, euen errors, ignorances, and mistakes are accepted of, and laught at, and where quarrels, contentions, strife, an­ger, and blowes also many times, are heard of, approued, and in most friendly sort ad­mitted. And in this booke, there be foure sundry sorts of persons to be obserued of vs. The bridegrome, and the friends of the bridegrome; the spouse and her young dam­sels or waiting maides, and as the bride saith one thing, and the bridegrome ano­ther: [Page] so the young virgins that waite on the spouse, and the friends of the bride­grome, are brought in speaking contrarie and diuerse things, yet all of them betoke­ning godly & kind affections. Now by the bridegrome we may (as we have before de­clared vnto you) vnderstand Christ, by the spouse the Church, by the friends of the bridegrome the Preachers of the Gospell, & such as shew vs the way vnto Christ, and direct vs vnto his eternall marriage, and heauenly banquet. The young virgins are the faithfull soules, which do alwayes ac­company the Spouse, and we must note, that the Spouse doth alwayes long to bee in the house, bed, or other secret and inward place, with her welbeloued, according vnto the custome of women, and the bridegrome, af­ter the manner of men, calleth the Spouse foorth into the vineyeard, or abroad into the fields, or vnto some such places: because so it is, and it is most true, that the Church of it selfe would willingly (if so be that it were possible) bring vp her children in quiet rest and tranquility, but he on the o­ther side, thinketh it good to exercise her [Page] with many tribulations, and persecutions, to the ende that she may the better come vnto the consideration of eternall things, and also that if matters do happen well and happily, yet, that amiddest her prospe­rity she may not bee too far delighted with the pleasures and entising baits of this pre­sent world: but alwayes hope, and grone af­ter an heauenly countrey.

Thus endeth the preface, the Com­mentarie followeth.

The first Chapter of the Canticles.

1 Let him kisse me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy loue is better then wine.

2 Because of the sauour of thy good ointments, thy name is as an ointmēt pow­red out: therfore the virgins loue thee.

3 Draw me: we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will reioyce and be glad in thee: we will re­member thy loue more then wine: the righ­teous do loue thee.

The Commentarie.

THe wordes of the Spouse are these: Let him kisse me. Where first of all we must consider, what is the meaning of these kissinges which the Church doth so earnestly desire and long after. A kisse is a testimonie of friend­ship, loue, and goodwill, therfore the Church desireth a kisse of our Sauior, that is as much [Page] as to say, to purchase and obtaine his friend­ship, loue and goodwill. Her request is then that her sinnes may be forgiuen her, and that she may reobtaine the fauor of God by him, she confesseth her sinnes vnto God, crauing pardon for the same, and she calleth for the Gospell, because she would faine heare the comfortable and pleasant voyce of remission of sinnes▪ pronounced through Iesus Christ: and the spouse requesteth the amiable kisses of the bridegromes owne mouth, to shew & testify the great desire which she had to heare Christ alone, and no other speake, & to make knowne the vehemencie of her goodwill to­wards him For it had bene sufficient to haue said: Let him kisse me: but the loue of faith, & holy delight of the soule, made her adde these wordes, with the kisses of his mouth: as if she shold haue said, The greatest thing that I can wish for in this world, is to obtaine the loue & fauor of God, which I see I can not obtain by any other, but by thee my Sauior Christ. For I know this, and am most certainly per­swaded of it, that I shall neuer be able to cō ­passe my saluatiō by the merits of my works, but by thee alone, when it shall please thee to vouchsafe me the benefite of thy sweete kisses, that is to say, of thy grace and loues. For thy loue is better thē wine. Here the spouse yeeldeth a reason, why she wold so willingly [Page] be kissed of him, because his loue is better thē any precious thing whatsoeuer, which she expresseth by wine. Where by the way we must note, that by his loue is meant the do­ctrine of the Gospell, and the graces which the bridegroome brought into the world with him: especially if we consider, howe much this doctrin which so proceedeth from the loue of the spouse, is better then that wherewith she was sustained and comforted before the coming of the bridegrome, and therefore seeing the abundant grace & good­wil of this her bridegroome towards her, she breaketh forth into these words: Thy loue is better then wine, that is to say, aboue that do­ctrine wherewith she was comforted of the auncient fathers: so that this is the sense of the whole verse: I desire the kisses of thy mouth, that is, I looke for my redemption at thy hands, because thy precepts and instru­ctions are milke and food to nourish me vp vnto eternall life, and they are better then the Law, which strikes vs downe to the ground with remembrance of our sinnes, and aboue all other doctrines which do not strengthen but kill the simple and weake ones, as wine, which either killeth young children, or else maketh them drunke. Thus then the Church being inflamed as the spouse towardes her bridegroome, crieth out continually, Let him [Page] kisse me with the kisses of his mouth. That is to say, let the Bridegroome himselfe, come to teach and instruct, to saue and deliuer mee, neither let him teach me any longer by the mouth of the Patriarkes and Prophets, but let him come himselfe to informe mee with the words of his own mouth, and so be con­tent to receiue the kisse of my mouth: that is, let him not despise mee, or turne away his face from me, seeking & asking after the way of saluation. And this was then fulfilled as we do verily beleeue, when sitting on the mountaine he taught his disciples, whē spea­king as the Bridegrome is woont to do vnto the spouse, he said: Blessed are the poore in spirit, for theirs is the kingdō of god: & many other things which follow there in the same chapter. Here he gaue the Spouse his Church a kisse, and opening his mouth promised vn­to his Apostles, that is to say, vnto his spouse the Church, the ioyes of the kingdom of hea­uen. Here I say, the Bridegroome sheweth his loue towards his spouse, better thē wine, that is to say, then the doctrine of the Lawe, or any other doctrine: because the very in­structions of the new testament, do make all those which shall be borne againe of water and of the spirit, fit for eternal life, which the Law was not able to bring to passe.

The words of the Spouse vnto the Bridegroome.

2 Because of the sauour of thy good oint­ments, thy name is as an ointment powred out: therefore the virgins loue thee.

Because of the sauour of thy good, &c. What is that thou sayest, ô dearest Spouse, of the name of thy Bridegroome and welbeloued? That it is like vnto an odoriferous ointmēt, poured forth, which being preached & pub­lished abroad throughout the whole world, doth yeeld a most sweet sauour in the elect of God: and last of all because this Bride­groome doth most entirelie loue vs, & shew his mercy towards vs, to the end that hee might take the Church to be his spouse, and make his great name knowne abroad which is cōmō vnto him with the father & the ho­lie Ghost: he tooke flesh vpon him, because the spouse shold run vnto him with greater cōfidencie & boldnesse for help & succour. This spouse looked for his comming a long time, in the end he came, and at the presence and voice of the Bridegroome, she reioyced that he descēded that she might ascēd: & she did run in faith behind him, to be partaker of his ointmentes: for afterwards when the eternall Bridegroome of the Church was made flesh, as the ointment of his name was [Page] spread abroad and powred out throughout the world, the young virgins, that is to say, the soules of the elect, did find the sent ther­of to be exceeding pleasant and sweet, the holy Ghost so working, and bringing it to passe, and foorthwith they were delighted with the bridegrome, and beleeued in him, whom, after the maner of married women, they do loue most entirely and syncerely: and by the sweete smelling ointments are to bee vnderstood, the wholsome gifts of the holie Ghost, whence come these hot and zealous words of faith, hope and charitie: and these yong damsels, which I told you before were the soules of the elect, renued and regenera­ted in Christ, the filthinesse of the olde man being put away, inflamed with these three vertues or gifts of God (as I called them) do loue and imbrace this welbeloued bride­grome, perceiuing that by him, and through his meanes they haue obtained full remission and pardon for all their sinnes, and purcha­sed vnto themselues these giftes of the holy Ghost, whence come these words: The loue of God is spread abroad in our hearts, by the meanes of the holie Ghost, which is giuen vnto them.

The spouseth speaketh vnto the bridegrome after this maner.

3 Draw me: we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will re­ioice and bee glad in thee, we will remember thy loue more then wine: the righteous do loue thee.

Draw me. The Church of the faithful cri­eth out and saith, ô good God draw me vnto thee by the grace of thy election, to the end that after we haue a litle smelled & felt this sweet odour, wee may be fully vnited vnto thee. And thus both the spouse and her mai­dens, being allured with the wonderfull pleasant odour of the bridegroms ointmēts, do runne after him whom they loue, & this, word to draw, signifieth a kind of violence or force, as if a man were to be haled with ropes out of some deepe pit: for the spouse as long as she liueth in this world, hath the flesh which resisteth God drawing, but God which draweth her is able to ouercome it, & therfore the spouse when she is drawne desireth him that hee would neuer cease to draw and to pul her vnto him: knowing full wel, that otherwise she shold wāt of her rock & strēgth, because indeed, he that is not dra­wen perisheth, the holy ghost testifying thus much, that no man cōmeth vnto the father vnles the father draw him. We will run after [Page] thee. So then the soules of the elect, so made by faith, and the virgins and damsels of the spouse, whose mindes are vndefiled and vn­spotted, do say vnto the bridegrome, we will run after thee. As who would say, the sauour of thy ointments, doth so forcibly draw vs vnto thee (although the flesh be vnwilling & refuse to run after thee with the spouse) that wee cannot chuse but do whatsoeuer thou commandest vs, for thy spirit maketh all things, seeme they neuer so hard & vnpossi­ble, possible, pleasant and easie to be borne.

The words of the spouse vnto the young virgins.

The king hath brought me in. Christ hea­reth the petition of the spouse, graunteth her request, and draweth her after him: he brin­geth her into his chambers, that is, into quiet places, such as are true peace, quietnesse, and securitie of Christian iustice, & inward ioyes of the kingdome of heauen: and in these chā ­bers are hidden the secrets of God, that is to say, the truth of his word. And in these chā ­bers or closets of the kingdome of God, the church is to cōsider those hiddē things which neither eye hath seene, nor eare heard, nor hath entred at anie time into the heart of man: that is, which cannot be comprehended by any sence of flesh, because the peace ther­of [Page] passeth all vnderstanding: and the spouse speaketh vnto the yong virgins, that is, the Church of Christ speaketh vnto her faithful which are regenerated in Christ: and so in­deed we ought all of vs humbly to beseech our bridegrome Christ, that it would pleas [...] him to help and succour vs, running after him for succour & help, by reaching out him hand vnto vs, & keeping vs from falling. Be­cause, that vnlesse he put to his helping hand we are not able to stand vp vpō our feet, much lesse to run about. And finally, the yong m [...] being admitted into the rest and quietnes o [...] the aforenamed chābers, do speake after this maner of wise vnto the bridegrome: We wi [...] reioyce & be glad in thee. As if they should haue said, We desire to reioyce and be glad in thee alone, and in no other: & furthermore they ad these words: We will remember thy loue more then wine: that is to say, to the end that we may truly reioyce, and that our ioy may not be a vaine or transitorie ioy, we will remember thy louing kindnesse & amiable comforts vnto vs ward, that is, we will call to mind, how for our sakes, miserable & mor­tall men, thou tookest flesh, & sufferedst for our saluation; and last of al, because they pro­mise to approch neere vnto their only bride­grome Christ, they commend & praise him brieflie, saying, the righteous shall loue thee. The wicked praise & extoll wicked things, [Page] neither can any thing please them but that which resēbleth the filthy cogitatiōs of their wicked hearts, & therfore it is no praise, but rather a great dispraise & disgrace to be com­mēded of the wicked, but to be slaundered & backbited of thē, it is the greatest praise and cōmendation in the world. Therfore it is for the credit of the bridegrome, that he is loued of the righteous. But let vs heare what those righteous mē are, which he here speaketh of, they are those which are restored againe into that former righteousnes wherein man was created at the first, & which he lost by sin: & he saith the righteous loue thee, because it is not possible for any man to loue God, vnles he be first brought backe againe vnto that righteousnes, which he declined from, by rea­son of the crookednes and peruersnes of sin. Wherfore it is not without cause, that they are called crooked and peruerse men, which seeke after earthly things, and they righteous which seek heauenly and celestiall things.

The Text.
The Commentarie.
The words of the Spouse vnto the yong virgins.

4 I am black ô daughters of Ierusalem, but comely as the tents of Kedar, and as the curtains of Salomon.

5 Regard ye me not, because I am black: for the sunne hath looked vpon mee. The sonnes of my mother were angrie against [Page] me: they made me the keeper of the vines, but I kept not mine owne vine.

6 Shew me, ô thou whō my soule loueth, where thou feedest, where thou lyest at noone: for why should I be as she that tur­neth aside to the flocks of thy companions.

Lastly, because she that would so faine be made partaker of the bridegroomes oint­ments, must needs be partaker of his calami­ties and aduersities: therefore the spouse by her owne example instructeth her virgins, saying, O daughters of Ierusalē, that is to say, O ye faithful soules, I am blacke, as who shold say, you haue smelled the sweete sauour of Christs ointments, you haue bene admitted into his chambers and secret places, and all things please you, because you seeke by all maner of meanes to glorifie the bridegrome, saying, the righteous loue thee: but now my darlings, I must tell you of one thing more, you must study and indeuour as much as in you lyeth, that you do not depart and slide a­way from that righteousnes, which you haue obtained and attained vnto, either for feare of any aduersity, or crosse which shal be laid vpon you by the wicked, & which you must [Page] needs suffer and endure wil you nill you. For (marke you) I my selfe which am the Church and his deare spouse, as long as I liue in the flesh, why I my selfe am blacke and as a cast­away, afflicted of the reprobate and carnall minded men, notwithstanding in the sight of God and iudgement of my dearest bride­groome I am comely and faire. And so indeed the Church is made blacke and duskish, that is to say, deformed & vnhandsom by the ad­uersities of her oppressiōs, but is notwithstā ­ding beautiful and welfauored by reason of the comelinesse & seemlinesse of her vertues: & this is said in regard of the words before going, the righteous loue thee. For because she would shew her righteousnesse, and streng­then the weake hearts of the faithfull, which in this place she calleth daughters of Ierusalē, that is, daughters of the heauēly country: she speaks vnto them after this sort: Maruel not to see me blacke with oppressions, for I am faire and beautifull in the desire of heauenly things: true it is, that I am black with the stu­die of humility, but faire in the practise of vertues, I am black in the eyes of fooles, but faire in the vnderstanding of the wise, blacke with the remembrāce of my sins, but faire in the contēplation & beholding of heauenly matters, black vnto those who liue wicked­ly & disorderly, by setting before their eies [Page] the terrors & horrors of eternal punishments: faire vnto all those which liue righteously & holily, by promising thē the ioyes of heauē, & euerlasting blisse: black in the vility & humi­lity of my body: faire in the sanctity & holi­nes of the soule: blacke here vpon earth, but shall be faire in heauen: blacke in suffering of momentary and temporary euils, faire in ex­pectation of eternall & euerlasting goods. S. Paul was black, whē he was almost stoned to death, but on the contrary side, he was faire & amiable, when he was caught vp into the 3. heauens: in the deformitie of his blacknes, he said these words, We are the very excrements of the world, and sweepings, as it were, of all men: in the pride of his beauty he said, The vail being takē away, we shal behold the glo­rie of God. As the tents of Keaar. Keaar was one of Ismaels sons, frō whence the people of the Scythians were deriued, which dwell in tents which are in outward shew dark & ob­scure, but within they contain many precious and costly things, and euen thus & no other­wise fareth it with me, saith the spouse, now at this present. For I am outwardly afflicted, & seem to the eyes of mortall men obscure, abā ­doned and despised both of God & man, al­though indeed, both in respect of the bride­groms ointmēts wherwith he hath annointed me, as also in regard of that rest of mind and [Page] peace of cōscience which he hath grāted vnto me▪ I am within ful of beauty & pleasure: thus thē, I am within my selfe a sinner, an abiect or castaway, but in my husband and bridegrome Christ, iust & glorious, in my self & of my self black, in him faire & beautiful. As the curtains of Salomon. Here it is takē for that vaile which he made in the tēple, & as those curtains with­in the temple were most fair, so my beauty & hādsomnes is hiddē, internal, & inclosed with­in me, because the ineffable▪ & vnspeakeable peace & graces of my bridegrome, are secret & vnknown to the world, but known to me: for I content my selfe with thē, knowing that the blacke clouds of my sins, & iniquities of my persecutions & tribulations shal soone fade & vanish away. Regard ye me not. The spouse be­ing very careful for her yong maidēs, & fearing least they should be discouraged, because she told thē that her beauty did not outwardly appeare, cōforteth & strēgtheneth thē with these cheerful sayings: Do not you cōtemne or for­sake me, because my light is somewhat obscu­red & darkned, or because I liue in aduersity, & seem vnto the world to be a reprobate and castaway sinner, because the sun looketh vp­on me, but what sun? our Lord and Sauiour Ie­sus Christ the sonne of God, the true sunne of iustice, which is the true light that lighte­neth euery man that cōmeth into the world. Iohn. chap. 1. And this is said because euery [Page] soule that stādeth in the heat of this sun must needs become blacke, because of the exceeding great glory of his light, that is, must needs truly hūble & prostrate her self before his face acknowledging that al her works, euē the best of them are nothing els but darknes & sinne: notwithstanding in the ful confidence of her husband, she perseuereth & cōtinueth in do­ing wel, but trusteth not in her merits or wel­doings, but reioyceth in them, because the Sun doth blacken & darken thē, whilest that shee frō time to time doth mortifie the old man, by humbling her self, & voluntary suffering of al maner of persecutions. The sonnes of my mother were angrie against me. And what is this mo­ther but Eue the mother of all the liuing, aswel the iust as the vniust: and the vniust haue euer since the beginning of the world, opposed themselues against the iust, because they hate thē which are ruled by Christs lawes, & so pe­rish in the reprobrat sence of the flesh: & these are of the wicked synagogue of Satā, which do stil persecute, vexe, & contradict the spouse, whence it cōmeth that she is grown so blacke & brown. They made me the keeper of the vines: as if she should haue said: I haue obtained this by my persecutions, that I am made keeper of more vines, that is of more churches, bicause the first Church was founded in Ierusalem, & that which followeth. But I kept not mine owne vine, [Page] is not to be vnderstood of the mind, but of the place: for although the citie be ruinated and destroyed: yet neuerthelesse, the inte­gritie of faith remaineth inuiolable for euer and euer, so that this is the meaning; he kept not that place, that is, hee retayned not that place where the vineyard should haue bene, and where it was planted at the first, being rooted by God the father, out of that barren and vnfertile soyle, and planted in a more fertile place among the Gentiles. So the Church is this vine, or else by this you may vnderstand the soules of the faithfull, which are planted in faith, rooted in charitie, tren­ched about with the furrowes of good disci­pline, repayred with the teares of the peni­tent, and watered with the wordes of the Preacher: and hence commeth it, that they doe so abound in all manner of diuine fruit, that is to say, in gladnesse and holy de­uotion. In like maner we may say, that faith is the vine, the branches vertues, the grapes good workes, the wine deuotion. Moreouer the vineyard is religion, the husbandman the father, the sonne the vine, and the iust the branches thereof. God the father is the hus­bandman, because he digges and ditches it in confession and contrition, proynes it with sprinckling of teares. And indeed the Sonne is the vine, because he is the foundation of [Page] religion, because no man can lay any other foūdatiō but that which is already laid, which is Christ Iesus, by whom euery building doth grow vp to be a holy tēple. The brāches are the righteous which doe shoot & sprout out of the vine Christ, and are full of sappe and moysture.

The spouse vnto Christ.

Shew me. Christ is all in all vnto them that beleeue, a king, a sunne, a keeper of vines, a shepheard, & notwithstanding he cōtinueth alwayes to be their bridegrome & welbelo­ued, to whom the spouse flieth for succour & helpe: & seeing that she is not able to keepe her vine any lōger, she referreth the care ther­of vnto her husband Christ. Moreouer, she hath many litle goats about her, that is, ma­ny yong ones which are but simple fellowes, nouices, & vngrounded in faith, which she would faine haue fed with the precious and wholesome bread of Christs word, and not with the poisoned doctrine of men. And this is the cause why she makes her recourse vnto him, knowing that he is the true shepheard of her soule, saying, O thou whom my soule lo­ueth, ô sonne of loue & charitie, and this cha­ritie is God, that is as much to say, as, ô thou my deare bridegrome & husbād Christ, whō my soule loueth, whom I can not chuse but loue most entirely & dearely: shew me where [Page] thou feedest, where the sonne of righteousnes feedeth and resteth himselfe, I meane Christ Iesus the sonne of God, which neuer setteth, hauing alwayes a meridian brightnesse shy­ning round about him. And the Church knoweth the time, that is to say, the noone­tide, at what time the bridegrome doth rest & take his repast, but she knoweth not the place where. Also she knoweth, that with the lanterne of the word it is not possible to find him, vnlesse it please him to manifest and shew himselfe by opening the hidden senses and darke mysteries of the scriptures with his key: and this knowledge also can not be gotten, vnlesse it be obtayned by the spi­rite of the bridegrome, and therefore she re­questeth him that it would please him to make himselfe knowen vnto her, and shew her where he feedes & abides. And euen now he feedeth her, whilest that he lighteneth, re­ioyceth, and inflameth her, which is in the heate of the day, to wit, at noone, or midday. So that we are not able to endure the great glorie of his face, vnlesse wee be couered with the vayle of his flesh, which he tooke; and euen now we do rest vnder the shadowe of his wings, by being made partakers of his heauenly graces. For why should I be. And what is that the spouse requireth here in this place, vnlesse it be that Christ should [Page] shew her these things, least that she should be compelled to turne aside to the flockes of his companions. But what are these companions, but the faithfull, & chiefly those which haue any office or superioritie ouer the rest. But of these there be some true, some lying and false brethren. The true brethren do not ga­ther the flockes vnto themselues but vnto Christ, neither doe they make themselues heads of the Church, but humbly submit both themselues and their whole flockes vn­to Christs gouernment, acknowledging him to be their Lord and head: and they are very much afraid least the flockes should follow them, and therefore they doe studie by all manner of meanes how to preuent these say­ings, I am of Paul, and I am of Peter, I am of Barnabas, and I am of Apollo. But their onely care and desire is, to bring euery one to say and confesse thus much, I am of Christ. Now contrariwise, they which are the false followers and companions of Christ Iesus, do not leade or gather the flockes vnto their bridegrome Christ, but vnto themselues, ma­king themselues heads and ouerseers ouer those flockes: wherefore, the true Church saith, I will not turne aside to the flockes of them which are called thy companions: chusing ra­ther to do any thing then this, because, that if the flockes do follow any other shepheard [Page] but thee, they must needes perish and be de­stroyed: and these flockes do wander and go astray, because during the time of their a­bode here in this wicked world, they can find no rest or peace, but are alwayes troubled & disquieted in mind, and therefore the sense and meaning of these words is this: I doe heartily desire thee (ô my God and Sauiour) that it would please thee, and none but thee, to take the paines to teach mee those things which it is meete for me to know, to the end that my iudgement and minde may not bee offuscated and darkened with the cloudes of errors and heresies, but that my vnderstan­ding may be lightened with the truth of thy word, which shineth as cleare as the Sunne doth at noone day: so that I may not fall into any error or false opinion, being mis­led & misguided by them which make pro­fession of great knowledge and wisedome, and which continue to cōpare their doctrine and the precepts of their fond hearts, with the truth of thy word.

The text.
The Commentarie.
The words of the bridegrome vnto the Spouse.

7 If thou know not, ô thou the fairest a­mong women, get thee foorth by the steppes of the flocke, and feede thy kiddes by the [...]ents of the shepheards.

[Page] 8 I haue compared thee, O my loue, to the troupe of horses in the chariots of Pharaoh.

9 Thy cheekes are comely with rowes of stones, and thy necke with chaynes.

10 VVe will make thee borders of gold with studs of siluer.

11 VVhiles the king was at his repast, my spikenard gaue the smell thereof.

12 My welbeloued is as a būdle of myrrhe vnto me, he shall lie between my breasts.

13 My welbeloued is as a cluster of cam­phire vnto me, in the vines of Engedi.

14 My loue, behold thou art faire: behold thou art faire, thine eies are like the doues.

15 My welbeloued, behold thou art faire and pleasant, also our bed is greene:

16 The beames of our house are Cedars, our rafters are of firre.

If thou know not. Christ aunswereth the Church, and teacheth her all those things which she before had demaunded of him: he [Page] saith vnto her, O thou the fairest among women, that is to say, among the Churches, because the Church & congregation of the faithfull howsoeuer it seeme in the sight of men to be blacke and contemptible, yet notwithstan­ding the only begotten sonne of God Christ Iesus, esteemeth and iudgeth her to be fairer and better, then all the Synagogues of the wicked. O wonderfull great beautie and fairenes, which God himselfe doth so greatly commende and approoue, by calling her the fairest among women. Indeed other women are faire, because they are Gods creatures, who is most glorious, & admirable in all his workes: but thou O my Spouse, exceedest them all, because thou art to be preferred be­fore them all, because thou art adorned with my beautie, in regard whereof he sayth vnto her, O thou the fairest among women, if thou know not of thy selfe where I feed & rest at noone day, then go foorth out of thy selfe, & renounce thy selfe and all things else for the loue of me, beare thy crosse particularly, and trust not to thy owne opinion or workes at all. Furthermore, depart from the flockes of my companions, and from the dregs & filth of humane traditions: and lastly, lay aside all trust and confidence in the flesh, otherwise, neuer hope to find the place where I do feed and rest my selfe at nooneday, because he is [Page] not worthie of my loue, that for the loue of me is not content to forsake all things, and himselfe also if neede be. At length he shew­eth where his feeding and abiding is to wit, in the footsteps of the flocks of the Church, and neere the tabernacles of shepheards: of these flockes are all they which we know to be of the Church, and their footsteps are those things which we read of them to haue bene gratefull and acceptable vnto God, and these are the steppes of the Patriarkes, Pro­phets and Apostles of the true faith in the word of God, & all those things which God doth worke and bring to passe in them by charitie. And we must follow after those steps where he feedeth and lyeth, because he comforteth all them, which truely feede on him in their hearts by faith, and he granteth them true peace of conscience, which is as much as to rest and feede with Christ. The litle goates, and the feeble and weake hear­ted are those which beleeue in the Lord. The shepheards may be tearmed, those whom he sendeth abroad with authoritie to preach the Gospell, who by publishing abroad among the people the sincere word of God, do mi­nister and giue them food of eternall life, by giuing them the bread of Gods word in due season, which if they did not, they would not be accounted true shepheards and mini­sters [Page 23] of the word, and their tabernacles are the Churches, neare which the flockes of the elect children of God do graze and feed, and the pastures are the immaculate wordes of God, and this is the food which Christ com­manded Peter to feed his sheepe withall.

The words of the Bridegrome vnto the Spouse.

I haue compared thee, ô my loue, to the troupe of houses. He compareth the blessed spouse of the most victorious king Christ, vnto the troupe of horses: that is to say, vnto the An­gels, because no man of any vnderstanding in the world doubteth, whether they be the messengers and ministers of Christ. Where­fore Christ speaketh as it were, after this sort vnto the spouse, ô my deare spouse, the time was when thou wast in a miserable case, the prisoner and bondslaue of the Diuell, and therfore as farre estranged as might be from me; but loe, I haue now set thee at libertie, I haue freed and redeemed thee out of the hands of the diuell, and by the vertue of my word and spirite, I will so glorifie thee that thou shalt be like vnto the glorious com­panie of Angels. But wherein? In the Cha­riots and power of Pharaoh the king of Egypt, that is to say, the Prince of darke­nesse, the diuell, sinne, death, and hell it [Page 24] selfe, all which things I haue ouercome for thee, that thou shouldest trust and beleeue in me. And this is spoken to this end and pur­pose, that we shold know that all those which are without Christ, are but as it were horses which draw in the Chariot of Pharaoh, that is to say, are vnder the rule and guiding of him, which driues the Chariot, to wit, the Diuell: but as many as are of Christ, & hold with him, they are put into Gods coach, that is to say, are altogether ruled and gouerned by him. Therefore by the notable troupe of horses of God, we must needes vnderstand the Church, by reason of the multitude of mē that are contained in it, and of store of spiri­tuall armour and weapons of faith & iustice, and for the inuincible force and strength of the spirit, and noble victorie ouer her ene­mies. Thy cheekes are comely. Finally he com­mendeth his owne workes in the spouse, be­cause the spouse is not otherwise faire or cō ­ly, but as she is faire and beautifull in her husband Christ. And whereas it is said, thy cheekes are comely, wee are to consider the cheekes as they are in the head and face, and the head of the spouse is the husbād. Now as the beautie of the cheekes doth principally appertain vnto the head, and thē afterwards vnto the rest of the members: so the beautie and glorie of Christs cheekes, which is the [Page 25] head of the Church, do first of all belong vn­to him, and secondly they appertaine vnto his members, that is to say, vnto the spouse, because Christ is the honour and glory of the spouse, whose necke are the Preachers and teachers of the Church, which are adorned & beautified with chaines & sundry iewels, that is to say, with the doctrin of the Gospel, from whence come these goldē chaynes, that is to say, true wisedome, which leades a man vnto eternall life, and these chaines are poin­ted with points of siluer, wherby is signified godly learning, and zealous charitie, where­with the faithfull people & Church of God are pricked and inflamed both to the glorie of God, and benefit of the elect.

The Spouses words vnto Christ.

Whiles the king. The bridegrome cōmen­deth & extolleth his workes in the Church, now she returneth al the glory backe againe vnto him, confessing that his workes are ad­mirable in her eyes, and that all her beautie commeth from the glorie of her husbande Christ, and that shee receiueth from him all those gifts and graces which are mentioned in the verse immediatly going before. Wher­fore she speaketh vnto him as vnto a third persō, saying, Whiles the king was at his repast my spikenard gaue the smell thereof. Spiknard is a litle herb, but hath a great smel, by which [Page 26] is to be vnderstood the humility of the faith­full, because they confesse thēselues to be sin­ners, and that they are nothing of thēselues, notwithstanding they go onward alwaies in well doing, whēce it is that they yeeld a most pleasant sauour of a good report, which doth inuite & draw others to do the like: and this precious spiknard which hath such a perfect smell, is not to be gotten but when Christ is at his repast, and his repast is the Church, & secure minds of the faithfull Our Spikenard then is our humility, which then sendeth foorth a most sweete and pleasant smell, most acceptable vnto God, a smell indeed of good works, when Christ the king resteth in vs: otherwise it is but the stinking smell of hy­pocrisie, and a sauour of death vnto death.

The words of the spouse concerning her selfe.

My welbeloued is vnto mee as a bundle for myrrhe. Surely it is a great cōmendation for the bridegrome that without him the spouse hath no smell at all. And therefore this is her meaning, she knoweth that she doth fully possesse & enioy Christ, & that Christ must alwaies dwell with her as a bundle of myrrhe, which is bitter, but hath a most excell ēt smel in it self, & hath this power, to keep things frō being corrupted. And verily the spirit of the bridegrome doth bring to passe these [Page 27] things in the godly. First of all he sendeth thē bitternesse, because the sword of griefe shold pierce their soules: secondly he poureth forth the sauour of the sweet oyntments: thirdly & lastly he keepeth & preserueth thē from cor­ruption, by bestowing eternall life vpon all those which beleeue & trust in him. Ioh. 3.14 And as Moyses lift vp the serpent in the wil­dernesse, so must the sonne of man be lift vp, that whosoeuer beleeueth in him should not perish but haue eternall life. And indeed this same mirrhe▪ is a bitter thing, signifying hard and grieuous tribulations: but seeing that all these things are to come vnto her for her lo­uing husbands sake, she gratifieth & cheereth vp her self with these words, hoping that god will giue her the grace manfully & couragi­ously to endure al things, & therfore she cal­leth not that an armefull or a whole burden which she is to suffer for Christ, but a hand­full, bundle, or rather to speake more pro­perly, a bundelet, & wel she may call it a bun­delet, that is to say, a litle bundle, because the afflictions of this world are not worthy the glory which shalbe reuealed vnto vs hereaf­ter. My welbeloued is as a cluster of camphire. Christ the only begotten son of God ceaseth not to praise & extol his welbeloued spouse, & he termes her to be like vnto a most preci­ous & sweet cluster of camphire, which is a [Page 28] kind of aromaticall tree, & it is all one, as if she shold haue said, my welbeloued husband is like vnto a most delectable cluster of some excellēt vine which groweth in the vineyard of Engedi, to the which there is no vineyard in the world that may be compared, because the cōfort which we receiue by the holy ghost doth far surmount all earthly cogitations & delights, & the consolations & cōforts of the spirit are these, to know that God is fauora­ble vnto vs, and to haue the loue of God al­mighty inclosed within our harts & cōsciēce▪

The words of the Bridegrome vnto the Bride.

14 Behold thou art faire, behold thou art faire thine eyes are like the doues. The Bridegrome cōmendeth the happy state of the spouse i [...] this, that he doth worke and bring to passe great matters in her, & herein consisteth her beauty chiefly, that she hath doues eyes ▪ that is to say, a most right sense & vnderstanding of Gods spirit, which may be very fitly takē for a doue, because it appeared vpō Christ in the shape & similitude of a doue, & it is as much in other words, as if the bridegrome should speak after this sort vnto the bride: doubt not my dearest deare of any displeasure of mine, because I am very wel pleased with thee, I rec­kon thee to be most beautifull & faire, how­soeuer thou maiest seeme to thy selfe to haue [Page 29] a blacke & swart coūtenance, because thou pleasest me right well, & this loue of mine doth not come by any nature of yours, but by grace frō me. I desire not ornaments of gold, or looke for any costly apparell: that which I desire and looke for, is doues eyes eyes of sim­plicity, or singlenesse of faith, and perpetuall chastitie, and that nothing may please thee, but me. I say, I desire honest and plaine dea­lings and meanings, not crooked and deceit­full eyes.

The Spouse speaketh vnto her husband.

My welbeloued behold thou art faire and pleasant. She that before was praysed of her husband for her eyes, doth now most inge­nuously & plainly confesse that he is altoge­ther faire and beautifull. The spouse as long as she liueth in the flesh, hath some deformi­tie or indecorum in her, by reason of the flesh: notwithstanding she is beautifull with the beautie of her husband, and shee hath doues eyes, but not as Christ hath, because he is wholy and soly, & in euery part of him most beautifull and amiable, but to the faith­full onely, who alwayes & at all times are exceedingly much delighted with the sight of him, as also with his wordes. And it fol­loweth, Also our bed is greene, whence it is manifest, that all things are cōmon betweene [Page 30] the bridegrome & the bride, and what other thing is meant by this greene bed, but the e­uer flourishing peace which we obtaine by Christ, and by the houses the particular Churches of his kingdome: and also we may hereby vnderstand the faithfull people of God. In euery one of these houses a man shall finde a most sweet bed of peace, whereon the holy Ghost doth oftentimes repose and rest himselfe. The beames of this house are of in­corruptible and wel-smelling Cedar, that is to say, they containe the soliditie and stable­nesse of true faith in Gods words, which both of them remaine for euer, because it is not possible that faith should faile, and be vt­terly abolished out of Gods kingdome, or that one iot or title of his words should not be fulfilled. And here by the way, let the in­dustrious reader diligently obserue this, that the Church speaketh vnto the bridegrome, and inuiteth him vnto the quiet rest and re­pose of his bed, because she knoweth full wel that all kind of rest and quietnesse without him, is grieuous, miserable, and vngodly: wherefore she sayth, Our bed is greene, or our peace or the peace which is common vnto vs both, is flourishing, greene, pleasant, sweet, and delectable: as if she should haue said, that both of vs are to lie in the selfe same bed, which bed, is furnished and prepared [Page 31] ready for vs, therefore you must take me in­to the bed to you, that is, all the pleasure that I take must needes proceed and issue out from you, and so the Church doth shewe vs what an earnest desire shee hath to rest with Christ, and therfore she saith with Peter: It is good for vs to be here. And that which followeth in the latter end of the chapter, Our rafters are of Cypresse, is a type or figure of the elect, which by contemning & despi­sing of all earthly & temporall things, grow to be eternall and incorruptible, as are our Cypresse or Cedar trees.

The second Chapter.

1 I am the Floure. rose of the field, and the lillie of the valleys.

2 Like a lillie among the thornes, so is my loue among the daughters.

3 Like the apple tree among the trees of the forest: so is my welbeloued among the sonnes of men: vnder his shadow had I de­light, and sate downe: and his fruit was sweete vnto my mouth.

The Commentarie.
The words of the Bridegrome.

THe words going before in the latter end of the first chapter where the bed of the [Page 32] Church is called a flourishing greene vn­spotted bed, and a bed to bee desired, are very easie to be vnderstood by the beginning of this chapter, because shee is not sayd to flourish by reason of the floure, whose greennesse and beauty doth soone fade and decay, but indeed because her flowers are chieflie her husband. Esay. chap. 11. There shall bud forth a braunch out of the root of Iesse, & of the root therof shall spring a flow­er, and the flowers therof shall be the flowers of honesty and honour. Therupon it was wel & truly said of him, I am the flower of the field, which budded forth out of the root of Iesse, a pleasant & delectable flower of the field, that is to say, of the whole world, and chieflie of the elect of the Church: and lastly, hee addeth the lillie of the valleyes, and what other thing may be vnderstood by the lillies of the val­valleys, but the syncere and faithfull people, which do truly prostrat & humble thēselues, because these valleyes shall be filled vp, exal­ted, and opposed against the hilles, that is to say, against the proud, of whō Esay speaketh thus in his 40. ch. & 4. ver. Euery valley shall be exalted, & euery mountaine & hill shal be made low: and the glory of these valleys con­sisteth in their lillies, to wit, in their righte­ousnesse, innocencie, and whitenesse Christ, which deposeth the mighty, proud, & vnbe­leeuers [Page 33] from their seat, & exalteth the hum­ble and meeke: and so the spouse speaketh of himselfe much after this maner, I am made vnto the elect as a most pleasant flower of the meadowes, whose beauties they do keepe and preserue, and the grace of whose bountie and sweetnesse they do smell and perceiue, which is to be gathered with ioy of mind & without any peril or danger of thornes at all. And finally, I am the lillie of the valleys, that is, all pleasure, sweetnesse and delight vnto my elect: and Christ may fitly be called a flower, because whiles he weedeth vp the thornes of sinnes, hee doth not a litle decke and a­dorne the hill of his spouse, and beautie of his iustice. Like a lilly among the thornes. The name of lillies is oftētimes taken in the scrip­ture for the beauty of the faithfull, which is hid and had in Christ. Hosea chap. 14. vers. 6. I will be as the dewe vnto Israell, he shall growe as the lillie. And so Christ calleth the spouse by the name of a lillie, as who would say, As much as the lillie surpasseth the thornes, so much doest thou exceed all other daughters that is to say, al other Churches & congregations of the wicked & reprobate: & as the lillie which groweth vp among the thorns is pricked of thē, yet notwithstanding flourisheth & increaseth: so it is necessarie or requisite that the godly Church should bee [Page 34] pricked, afflicted and tormented with the re­probate Churches, but neuerthelesse the holy Ghost will so worke in her, that she repelling the fiery darts of sin with the shield of faith, shall in the end become more glorious for her persecutions, and so dayly profiting and increasing by means of my gift and protecti­on shall neuer leaue off to bring foorth seede or corne vntill she be brought and layd vp quietly in the barne. Like the apple tree among the trees of the forrest. These words of mutuall cōmendation & praises of the holie Ghost are very strange, comfortable, and full of trust confidence in God: for see how the spouse according to her power doth mutually as it were, repay prayse and commendation vnto her bridegrom Christ by saying these words, Like the apple tree amōg the trees of the forrest: so is my welbeloued among all the sonnes: to wit, of God, that is to say, of the Angels & faith­full people. Verily thou only art holy, righ­teous and good, & from thee proceed those euerlasting fruits which we enioy, and not of themselues: thou commendest me for my flower, which notwithstanding thou thy selfe diddest cause to growe vp by the grace of thy holy spirit, but I must needes glorifie thee for thy fruit, which is better then all the flowers of the world.

The words of the spouse vnto the virgins.

Vnder his shadowe had I delight, and sate downe. What shadowe is that, I pray you, which the spouse should so greatly delight in, vnlesse it were the shadowe of Christ her husband, because he is the onely delight and hope of the faithfull. They which enioy true peace and tranquility of mind, and trust on­lie to Gods protection & grace, may be truly sayd to sit vnder his shadow. Wherfore the peaceable and quiet spouse of Christ willing that all her maydens, that is to say, all the soules of the elect should haue the benefite of Christs peace, which is so necessarie for thē, doe pronounce the Gospell of peace vnto them, as if she should haue said: You seeke & mourne after peace, but many there are (God wot) which seek it where it is not to be foūd, for they know not where to find it. Come ye therefore and learne of me, by my example I will shew you where you shall finde this ad­mirable and eternall perfection, and neuer misse of it. I my selfe was as carefull as any woman in the world could be to find it, and I was cōtent to endure any thing, so I might attaine vnto it. I asked for her many times, and oft, I did fast and pray, watch and tor­ment my body for the want of her, but shee [Page 36] was not to be found any where but vnder the shadowe of thy wings, which I so much de­sire. And hence it is that she saith, that he is so among all the sons, as a fruitfull appletree is a­mong all the trees of the wood. Drawe neare therfore and approch vnto this happie, bles­sed and most sweet shadow, and vnder it you shall be sure to obtaine perfect peace & rest, although it be in the middest of tribulations & aduersities, because our husband Christ is our only appletree or tree of life, which brin­geth forth fruite of eternall life, that is, true vertues and holy workes in all those which lie vnder the shadow of it, expecting the ful­nesse of time, when they shall receiue of the fulnesse of his liberalitie, the apples which he shall command them to take of Gods bene­fits and graces, that they may bee food vnto them of euerlasting and happy life.

The Text.
The Commentarie.

4 He brought me into the wine celler, and loue was his banner ouer me.

5 Stay me with flagons, & comfort me with apples, for I am sicke of loue.

6 His left hand is vnder mine head, & his right hand doth imbrace me.

7 I charge you, ô daughters of Ierusalē, [Page 37] by the roes and by the hindes of the field, that ye stirre not vp, nor waken my loue, vntill she please.

8 It is the voice of my welbeloued: be­hold he commeth leaping by the mountains and skipping by the hilles.

9 My welbeloued is like a roe, or a yong hart. Lo, he stādeth behind our wall, looking forth of the windowes, shewing himselfe through the grates.

He did not onely bring me vnto this tree of life & true felicity, which yeeldeth vs a de­fence frō the heat of the Sun, & also pleasant fruit: but furthermore, he brought vs into the wine celler: by this wine is meant the word of God: the houses or cellers which contain this wine, are the holy books of both the old & new testaments, where Christ bringeth the Church as into a celler, when he informs her in the right vnderstanding of the Scrip­tures. Wherefore after that the spouse had once tasted of the pleasant drinke of euerla­sting truth, and therewith comforted and cheered vp her selfe in the spirit, presently she declareth the benefits of her husband vn­to her maydens and young virgins, because she would inuite thē by litle & litle vnto the [Page 38] loue of him, and so cause them to run after him, and she saith: The king brought me in, as if she should haue said: His wine is so pleasant and good, that I would willingly haue you brought into his cellers to tast of the good­nes therof: and she continueth her old vaine of setting forth her husbands glory, saying thus, And loue was his banner ouer me. What banner was that which was lifted vp ouer him? the banner of loue. Well then loue is the banner which draweth all thinges after her, with her wonderfull and strange giftes of in­sinuation and allurement, & Christ continu­ally commendeth vnto his Church the gift of loue and charity, in such sort, that he can­not with greater tokens of kindnesse testifie his loue and kindnesse to vs wards.

The spouse speaketh vnto her damsels.

Stay me with flagōs & cōfort me with apples, for I am sick of loue. You see how effectuall, how precious & admirable is the banner of Christ that as soone as euer the spouse sawe it, her heart was inflamed within her, & she cōstrai­ned to breake forth into these words, saying, for I am sicke of loue. And why shouldst thou be sick, ô thou welbeloued spouse? Is it for the want of the glorious presence of thy husbād that thou doest so torment and vexe thy self? why doest thou crie out vnto the yong mai­dens, [Page 39] that is to say, vnto the faithfull, what wouldest thou haue them to do for thee? why callest thou vnto them, & biddest them stay thee vp with flagons, and comfort thee with apples? Surely by the flagōs of wine we must vnderstand the faithful, and by the apples the holy Ghost, or the wordes and operations of Christ. And it commeth all to one passe as if she should haue sayd, I am growne so impa­tient in striuing to shew forth my exceeding great loue vnto my best beloued Christ, that I had need to be stayed vp and strengthened with the sweet smelles & wine, that is to say, with the comfortable words of the faithfull, and with the holie spirit of the Bridegrome, abounding in them vnto all maner of perfe­ction & increase of faith, & therfore I do long to be cōforted with the delicate apples of the spirituall pleasures & delights of his heauen­ly promises. His left hand is vnder mine head, & his right hand doth imbrace me: that is to say, my request is vnto my husbād, that he wold comfort me in this present world with the word of God, least happily I may take occa­sion through the consideration & conscience of my sins to fall into desperation: & I desire to haue him imbrace me with the clear sight and fruition of his bounty, & that he would preserue and deliuer me being now in this vale of miseries, from all maner of sinne and [Page 40] daunger of dispaire or diffidencie at all, and that it may please my husband to bestow vp­on me the graces and gifts of the mind, or o­therwise confirme them in me with his glory & perpetuall loue. By the right hand of God, is signified prosperitie, & by the left aduersi­tie: and these are called the two hands of the Bridegrome, because he worketh & effecteth al things by thē. The spouse hath the left hād of Christ but vnder her head: that is to say, vn­der Christ by whose will and commādement they most willingly suffer & endure all ma­ner of crosses, troubles or persecutions what­soeuer. For she knoweth this most certainlie, that not an haire of her head shall fall to the ground, or that she shall suffer any bitterne [...] of griefe in the world, vnlesse the Bridegrom [...] will. And furthermore, that this left hand cannot alwaies be vnder her head, although the fruites and effects thereof, to wit, true ri­ches, and godly glorie shall endure and con­tinue for euer. Besides all this, she is most cer­tainly perswaded that her happy daies, which God holdeth in his right hand, shall neue [...] cease:Psal. 16.11 for as the Psalmist saith, In thy presence is the fulnes of ioy, & at thy right han [...] are pleasures for euermore. And truly if i [...] were so that Gold should holde his left han [...] only vnder our heads, as we haue shewed yo [...] before, we shold soon be brought to nough [...] [Page 41] and neuer be able to come vnto the euerla­sting pleasures in his right hand. Gods left hand is said to be vnder their heades, what is meant by that? but that when the iust man f [...]lleth, he should not be broken in peeces: wherfore the spouse feeling his left hand vn­der her head, reioyceth notwithstanding, be­cause of the louing imbracings which she is sure to enjoy by the benefit of his right hand.

The words of the Bride vnto the yong maydens.

There be foure things which cause me ex­ceedingly to reioice: first, because of the flow­ [...]rs, that is to say, for the faithful, because there [...]re enough of thē: secondarily, for the apples of the most fruitfull tree Christ: thirdly, because he hath his left hand vnder his head, [...]hat is to say, vnder the spouses head, for hee [...]s the head of the spouse: last of all, because of the certaine hope and assurance which [...] haue, that hee will imbrace me with his right hand, that is to say, with the plea­sures and ioyes of euerlasting glorie. And thus whiles the Church▪ the spouse of Christ [...]oth take her quiet rest & sleepe▪ the word of God commandeth her not to be troubled or disquieted any thing at all: & it is as if Christ ss;hould speak vnto the soules of the faithfull [...]fter this manner, I charge you, ô ye faith­full [Page 42] soules, and which is more, I coniure you by that which is most deare and pleasant vn­to you, that you stir not the loue of your hus­band in the elect, by iudging & condemning them, by the wrath and fauour of God shew­ed more or lesse towards them. I say, find not you fault with God for being sometimes dis­pleased with the elect, and shewing forth his anger towards thē, accuse not his diuine pro­uidence, or the maner of his proceedings, ey­ther in iustice or mercy, because he doth most certainly guide and direct all things vnto th [...] good of his elect: but submit your willes Al­wayes vnto the good will and pleasure of al­mighty God, praying continually, that hi [...] will may be done, & his name hallowed. And we are to vnderstād by the roes and hinds o [...] the fields, by the which he chargeth the soule [...] of the faithfull, the Apostles and preacher of Gods word which wander vp and dow [...] in the worlde, preach [...]g the Gospell euery where, whersoeuer they come, fearing the po­licies & sleights of their aduersary the diuell▪

The spouse vnto the yong maides.

It is the voice of my welbeloued, behold, [...] commeth leaping by the mountaines, and skipping by the hilles. This is a notable place to pro [...] that all those that are of Christs Church [...] know their husband Christs voice, that is t [...] [Page 43] say, his words, and can iudge thereby Gods words from mens. Because shee saith flatlie vnto the virgins, that the words that she doth heare are vndoubtedly the words of her lo­uing husband Christ: for she saith, she know­eth them well enough; and indeed to say the truth, who should better knowe the thinges which concerne the Bridegrome, then the Bride her selfe? Nowe I am the Bride, which haue espoused the onely begotten sonne of God: wherefore me thinks I should knowe his voyce better then anie other. So then first of all there is shewed vnto vs the Church, by the voyce of the bridegrome which she kno­weth most readily: afterwards there is decla­red vnto vs the fruit that ariseth & redoun­deth vnto her by the knowledge of his voice, that is to say, the knowledge of perfect chari­ty. And Christ the husband of the faithful is likened vnto him which is most faire in the fairest thinges, most excellent in the excel­lents that that can be gotten, exceeding be­yond the degree of admiration, and aboun­ding beyond measure in all maner of thinges that may be desired, coueted, or obtained. Fi­nally, the ende and terme of Gods promi­ses contayned within the compasse of the scriptures, and written of, either in the Law or in the Prophets. This Christ the summe of all happines and felicity, came vnto his own [Page 34] vnder the forme of mortality, hauing a wall set betweene him and the wicked, because he would not be seene of the vnworthy, vngod­ly, or vnelected ones: and yet he stood in the middest of them, and spake the words of life, partlie vnto them which did see him, & part­lie vnto those which despised him & volun­tarilie suffered themselues to be seduced or deceiued: & so as he looked forth of the win­dowes, and shewed himselfe through the grates he might be seen and heard after some sort of the wicked, but onely the godly and elect of God vnto saluation, may fully see & behold, & lastly receiue him into their hearts by faith. And the words of Salomō in the next verse before, how hee came leaping by the mountains, & skipping by the hilles, signifi­eth nothing els but this, how his spirit leaped vpon the Patriarkes and Prophets, and skip­ped in the Apostles & preachers of the Gos­pell, who being more eminent and excellent thē the rest, did teach men the simplicity and plainnesse of their liues & doctrines, and the similitude of a roe or a hart which followeth in the next verse, is all one in effect with the former, because it is only proper vnto goates to leap & skip about, although they may bee likened vnto thē for another reason, because of their sharpe sight: for vnlesse their sight were as good as their running, they shold not [Page 45] be able to discerne their way▪ & know either how to leape or skip. By the swiftnes of their leaping & skipping vp and downe, we may note the earnestnesse of a willing and chari­table minde: by the quicknesse of sight, the sharpenesse of iudgement, & so in both these thinges we may obserue both iudgemēt and mercy crying out with Dauid in the Psalmes, Mercie and iudgement will I sing vnto thee [...] Lord.

The Text.
[Page 46]The voyce of the Spouse vnto the virgins.

10 My welbeloued spake and said vn­to me, arise my loue, my faire one, and come thy way.

11 For behold, winter is past, the raine is changed, and is gone away.

12 The flowers appeare in the earth: the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.

13 The figtree hath brought forth her yong figs, and the vines with their small grapes haue cast a sauour: arise my loue, my faire one, and come away.

14 My doue that art in the holes of the rock, in the secret places of the staires shew me thy sight. Let me heare thy voice▪ for thy voice is sweet, & thy sight comely.

My welbeloued spake & said vnto me, &c. The spouse being once awaked out of her sleep, tels her maydens what her sweet-heart said vnto her, Arise my loue & faire one, and come thy way, to wit, arise frō rest to labour, frō ioy & peace to sorrow & griefe, and rise thou thy selfe, let no other rise for thee, because I wil haue thee & no other to gather my flow­ers & fruits, that is to say, vnto the ministery of my word, by the which the flowers (to wit, the soules of the faithfull) are gathered toge­ther into the Church. And come thy way, that is, follow me, & continue to beleeue in me by faith, because he may be truly sayd to followe after Christ, which beleeueth in him: & then the spirit of Christ the bridegrome of the faithful speaketh after this maner vnto the e­lect dispersed throughout the face of the whole earth: Rise vp my faithfull spouse by a liuely faith in Gods wordes, and put all thy trust and confidence in him that calleth thee vnto him; & he sheweth that there is a conue­niēt time for all things to be done in, by rea­son of the vicissitude and change of thinges: for wheras her welbeloued had but earst be­fore visited her in her greene bed, now he wils her to dresse the vineyard, and driue [Page 47] away the wilde beasts out from it, that is to say, to build vp his Church, and weede out all manner of heretickes out of it, and it is as if Christ should haue said vnto her, Rise vp out of thy bed of contemplation and rest, wherein thou now slumberest & yet thinke not that I will vtterly forsake thee, because thou art my loue, but go & gather the faith­full together in the spirit of gentlenesse and lenitie, because thou art my doue: come thy way and suppresse thy aduersaries, because thou art faire and adorned or beautified with all manner of vertues, for behold the winter is past, the raine is changed and is gone away. That is to say, the old and ancient errors are vanished away at the comming of the glori­ous Sonne of God Christ Iesus, and the te­dious darke, and dyrtie time of winter is past and gone, when all things were wrapt and infolded in ignorance and blindnesse, in neg­lect and contempt of Gods good will and benefits: but loe now the ioyfull and hope­full time of Spring is come, when the plea­sant and wholsome blast of Gods fauor shall blow vpon all the hearts and mindes of the faithfull, filling and inspiring them with the word of God sent downe from heauen for the behoofe and benefit of vs mortall men: and now is the time or neuer to repent and amend our liues, by awaking out of sinne, [Page 48] and preparing our minds & consciences vn­to the study or godlinesse & meekenesse, and to do the true works of piety, to roote vp the concupiscences of carnall senses, and follow the old and ancient discipline of the Church. The voyce of the Turtle doue hath beene already heard vppon the earth, which is a signe of a most happie yeare, or spirituall aboundance and plentie of all manner of goodnesse and gladnesse in the hearts and consciences of the faithfull, and the plea­santnesse of the Gospell is comming vpon you with all maner of comfort and consola­tion: and now the time approcheth, whē you shall reape the fruit, and receiue the benefit of your godlinesse: the figge tree bringeth foorth her young figges, and the vines begin to bud foorth, so that we haue all the signes of a rich and plentifull yeare, which is likely to abound in all manner of loue and true ho­linesse, perfect ioy and euerlasting comfort: and we haue certain infallible & true tokens of the Churches perfection, which consisteth in the true vnitie therof, and knowledge of Gods loue, & in the multitude of the Gen­tiles and faithfull soules which are called. Moreouer we may, if we will, allegorically interpret the hardnesse of the winter, to be the hardnesse and rigor of the law, which is alreadie vanished away, because of the com­ming [Page 49] of the Gospell of glad tydings, and therefore we see the promises of the Prophts to flourish, and the gracious proceedings therof, which we may call the floures, which appearing in the spring time, do shew forth a fruitfull and happie yeare: and the time of pruning or dressing, is, when laying a­side all manner of lying and deceit, euerie man shall speake the truth vnto his neigh­bour. And by the voyce of the Turtle, is signified the voice of the Preachers of Gods word, which beginneth to be heard abroad in the world. And the figge tree doth bring forth her young figges, that is to say, the Apostles are alreadie come into the world, which bring forth the most delecta­able and pleasant food of the Gospell, and minister it vnto the faithfull, according to their necessities.

The Bridegrome speaketh vnto the Spouse.

My doue that art in the holes of the rocke, in the secret places of the stayres shew me thy sight, let me heare thy voice, for thy voice is sweet & thy sight comely. By the doue is signified the holy Ghost (as it is euident out of the third of Matthew, the first of Marke, the third of Luke, and 1. of Iohn. Wherefore the Church which is inspired and filled with the [Page 50] holy Ghost, made altogether spirituall, may well be called here in this place a doue, and whereas he replyeth and calleth her his loue, we are to note, that all her loue commeth frō him which is the fountaine of loue, and that it is from him, and for him, that she is cal­led beautifull and faire, or a doue: that is to say spirituall, and she is prouoked and stir­red vp afresh by the Bridegroome to come. but in the holes of the rockes, and secret places of the stayres. This rocke is Christ. 1. Cor. 10 v. 2. We did all drinke of the spirituall rocke that followed them, & the rocke was Christ, and by the secret places of the stayres, is meant the inward ascention and lifting vp of the heart, which euery faithfull man must needs haue. And it followeth, shew me thy sight, be­cause the bridegrome was desirous to see the face of the Church, as I shewed you before in the holes of the rockes, and in the secrete places of the stayres, and to heare her voyce, or rather his, because otherwise the wordes of God cannot be acceptable vnto her, nei­ther is it possible for her to find her husband by any other meanes, for thy voice is sweete, and thy sight comely, & here we see the good­nesse of her louing spouse towards her. For without all question, it is indeede his voice and his words which the Church speaketh, and to conclude, all that the Church hath, is [Page 51] his: but why then calleth he it her voice? thy voice is sweete: because we should know that his voyce is common betweene him and the spouse, for Christs voice is nothing else but the ministerie of Gods word in the Church: so that alwayes Christs words do concerne and regard the Church, and the good of the people. It followeth, and thy sight comely. We are to obserue in these wordes, that whereas euery one is knowne by his face, that the Church here in this place is said to be known by her sight, face, or countenace. Now the face of the spouse, is the righteousnesse of the iust, I meane the beleeuing iust, of the light of whose countenāce it is written, to the end that they may turne the hearts of fathers vn­to their sonnes, and the vnbeleeuers vnto the wisedome of the iust. And whosoeuer hath this wisedome, walketh not after the will of man, but after the will of God the holy Ghost, that is to say, when his mind and vn­derstanding is ruled and gouerned by the holy Ghost, which commeth then to passe, when he iudgeth all things rightly accor­ding to the word of God. And likewise she may be then said to haue Christs face, when in the middest of prosperitie shee doth no­thing by chance, or otherwise then as a true Christian woman should do, but in effect & deed, and maketh it manifest vnto the whole [Page 52] world, that she hath rightly put on the Lord Iesus Christ, and his face is seene in her ad­uersities and troubles, if she willingly beare the crosse, and crucifie the old man by suffe­ring patienly all manner of aduersities.

The text.
The Commentarie.

15 Take vs the Foxes, the litle Foxes, which destroy the vines: for our vines haue small grapes.

16 My welbeloued is mine and I am his: he feedeth among the lillies.

17 Vntill the day breake, and the sha­dowes flee away: returne my welbeloued, & be like a Roe, or a young Hart vpon the mountaines of Bether.

The Foxe is one of the craftiest beasts in the world, and hereby are signified & pain­ted out vnto vs, the false beleeuers and ene­mies to the truth, and this text may be fitly applyed against false teachers & dissembling Prophets, which destroy the litle vines, that is to say, corrupt those which in the particu­lar Churches of the world, doe beginne to beleeue: and he repeateth the word Foxes, by [Page 53] saying litle Foxes, the better to make known vnto vs their weakenesse & infirmity, which is such, that they cannot be able to bring any thing to passe against the Church of God, vnlesse they first receiue power from the darkenesse of God: and this he forewarneth the friendes of the bridegrome, to wit, the ministers of the word, to the end that they should girde vp themselues to take them, by the mutuall helpe of the bridegrome, and of the bride, as often as they would, like fishes fast caught in the nets of Gods word: now hee is saide properly to be taken or caught, which is cōuinced by the truth. And in that he sayth, Take vs the Foxes, we must note this, how the preachers of the Gospell, which are commaunded to do this, do take and keepe them for Christ and the Church, labouring to please and obey them both, be­cause they are ministers both of Christ, and also of the Church. The vines are the parti­cular Churches, which the heretikes and false hypocriticall Doctors and teachers doe cor­rupt and peruert, because they pare away the greennesse & beautie of the Church, that is to say, sucke out the principles of good fruit, which they haue gathered out of the worde of God, and alleage them vn­der a shew and pretence of godlinesse vn­to a most wicked end. Wherefore all such [Page 54] must be driuen away which goe about to depraue the word of God with their heresies and inuentions.

The Spouse speaketh.

My welbeloued is mine, and I am his: he fee­deth among the lillies. As who would say, I do most constantly and inuiolably hold the friendship of my welbeloued, for because I know his loue is most constant towards me, which I perceiue by his great familiaritie, in that he feedeth among the lillies. By the lillies are to be vnderstood, the soules of the faith­full, which do alwaies yeeld foorth a pleasant sent of good workes among their neigh­bours: so that the spouse being inuited to them by the word of God, and now ioyned with her husband Christ, is imbraced of him, and desireth to dwell with him for euer: and that she may in the deuotion of her mind, as it were among the lillies and roses, continu­ally enioy the comforts of the Saints and ho­ly ones, vntill the cleare day-starre, and me­ridian brightnesse of Gods good will and pleasure, do shine foorth: whereby all man­ner of clouds and shadowes may be compel­led to flee away, to the end that all manner of men from the highest to the lowest may know God, without feare of sinne, or danger of heresie. It is certainely a great sute which [Page 55] the Church hath vnto Christ here in this place, and although she be most fully per­swaded that it shall be most fully graunted vnto her: yet neuerthelesse, shee interpo­seth and offereth vp her prayers vnto God, because she would not be depriued of this happinesse in any sort, saying: Returne my welbeloued. Returne (I say) my welbelo­ued, and be to me both in word and deede, a most ioyfull goat, to spie out our wantes and defects with sharpe and quicke eyes, and to looke downe vpon our miseries with the eye of pitie and compassion, as a most lo­uing young Hart: take the old serpent a­way from among vs, which lyeth in wait to do vs harme, and kill him with the breath of thy mouth: ouercome all our enemies, ô, thou which art so louing ouer all man­kind and faithfull soules: graunt this (O Lord) if it be but for the promises which thou madest vnto our forefathers, whom verily thou diddest choose out amongst the Gentiles, & commandedst them to looke for their sauing healthes and saluation, and the saluation of all others at the hands of Christ Iesus their Sauiour, which was promised vnto them from the beginning of the world.

The third Chapter.

1 In my bed by night I sought him that my soule loued, I sought him, but I found him not.

2 I will rise therefore now, and go about in the citie by the streetes, and by the open places, and will seeke him that my soule lo­ueth: I sought him, but I found him not.

3 The watchmen that went about the citie found me: to whom I said, haue you seene him whom my soule loueth?

4 VVhen I had past a litle from them, then I found him whom my soule loued: I tooke hold on him, and left him not, till I had brought him vnto my mothers house, into the chamber of her that conceiue [...] me.

5 I charge you, ô daughters of Ieru­salem, by the Roes and by the Hindes of the field, that ye stirre not vp, nor wake [...] my loue vntill she please.

The Commentarie.

THe soules of the righteous are saide t [...] make them beds, when flying the care [...] [Page 57] and troubles of the world, they take a course how to liue quietly & peaceably. And to seek the bridegrome in the night time, or in the dark, is as much as to seeke him in their own works, or in the traditions and constitutions of men, where it is not possible to find him, because they are full of darknesse and obscu­ritie. So then the spouse the Church speaketh these words, or the like in effect; Being pric­ked with the guiltinesse of mine own sinfull conscience, and labouring in my chamber & bed, that is to say, trusting in mine own me­rits or worthinesse, I sought the fauour and loue of my husbād, because indeed I thought to haue obtained & purchased eternall blisse and happinesse by the workes of the law, and thus hauing a long time sought it here, I could not find it: because his loue commeth not from our merits and worthinesse, but of his meere good will & fauour. I will rise there­fore now, that is to say, whiles that I doe goe about to seeke him out of me, and go about in the citie by the streetes, and by the open pla­ces to seeke my Sauiour and husbande, the foundation of my happinesse, and that in the religion of the Gentiles, and doctrine of the Philosophers, I found him not likewise. And to seeke Christ is to bee willing to trust in him, and sincerely to beleeue all his sayings, and be directed and gouerned [Page 58] by them: and lastly, to hope most constantly for their saluations by the merits of Christs workes, wherefore the spouse here in this place sheweth, that she was not a litle deceiued, when she sought him diligently, but with humaine diligence and industrie, and vpon the full confidence of her owne workes. Go to then, rise vp, and goe about the citie, that is to say, all humaine coun­sels, because they which seeke Christ with­out the word and spirit of God, doe as i [...] were fetch a compasse, and goe the farthes [...] way about. Now the wicked do trace vp and downe in this way in vaine, because tha [...] wheras no care & industry of man is auaile­able vnto the finding of him, they can ne­uer finde him out this way. The watchmen that went about the citie found mee, to whom I sayd, haue you seene him whom my soule lo­ueth? The watchmen, &c. that is to say, those which follow the constitutions of aunci­ent fathers, reuelations and studies of men, which seeme to ward and keepe the Church, I asked them also whether they could cer­tainely tell mee of any place where to find out my louing and gracious spouse, whe [...] I might securely embrace him, and secret­ly comfort my selfe. To conclude, I asked them whether they could bring me any cer­taine tydings of my saluation: but hauing [Page 59] past a litle from their humaine studies and speeches, to see whether I could find anie more certaine steppes and footings, as it were of my saluation and peace of consci­ence, which I had sought a long time, but neuer as yet found, at the length, leauing all humaine helpes and Doctors, I busied my selfe to make inquirie after him in the bookes of the holy scripture, being writ­ten by the instinct of the holy Ghost, whom I doe loue most entirely, as being the sense of pietie and solide truth: for it is onely Gods spirit, which satisfieth and filleth the mind of man, desirous of know­ledge, and leadeth his disciples into all manner of truth, by teaching them the wordes of God. And here I finde, that not onely my vnderstanding is informed, but also that my affections are inflamed within me, and that I am presently able to discerne errors and falsehood from the ve­ritie of true doctrine, and to receiue and intertaine in my heart the true peace of conscience, quieting and contenting my selfe in my husband, and all this happe­neth for no other cause, but because I haue found out Christ my Sauiour and redee­mer, that is to say, him who hath obtained the spirit of grace, which is neuer separa­ted and abstracted from the truth, that [Page 60] which is his is mine, for otherwise I knowe that I should suddenly perish and come to nought, and forthwith Christ doth seeke the saluation of those which liue in wickednesse and error. Wherfore the Church being once conuerted from the wicked, promiseth to bring in Christ, whom shee findeth in the house of his mother, that is to say, in the Sy­nagogues and congregations of the wicked, from whence he came: and verily the true be­leeuers do study and endeuour by praiers, by the ministerie of the word, and by all maner of meanes possible, to reduce the poore wan­dring soules of the Church, to the truth of Gods word, that they may receiue Christ into their houses, and into the secret cham­bers of their hearts, because it is not enough for the seruants of God to seeke their owne saluations, vnlesse they may compasse it for others also, and direct them as well as they may, vnto the like speeches of God, which they ought to seeke so carefully and diligent­ly, that they should not leaue off seeking of it, vntill they know that they haue receuied mercie as well as they, which is declared vn­to vs in the next words following: I left him not till I had brought him into my mothers house, into the chamber of her that conceiued me. That is, I left him not till euen the wicked, such a one as I my selfe had here­tofore [Page 61] for a certaine space beene, being turned and conuerted vnto him, receiued him.

The wordes of the Bridegrome vnto the Virgins.

I charge you, ô daughters of Ierusalem, by the Roes, and by the Hindes of the field, that ye stirre not vp nor waken my loue vntill shee please. I charge you. The faithfull spouse of Christ doth most willingly obey his will and commaundement, by seeking the sal­uation of her mother which conceiued and bare her, which yet wandreth vp and downe in darkenesse, and in the daunger of death, so that the word of truth doth not a litle thing profite by her, by making her fit to receiue him that was comming, Christ Ie­sus, and to change her by the power of his spirit, to the end, that they that were wise should become fooles, and they that were fooles, should become wise. Hence is it that she is become one of the Churches daugh­ters, or rather to speake more properly, a true member of the Church and spouse of Christ: afterwardes the Bridegroome dispatcheth vnto her heart, the plea­sures of his spirite, and peace of God, which passeth all vnderstanding. There­fore both the mother and the daughter [Page 62] being both of them together, made a faith­full spouse of the Lords, do reioyce and are merrie, whereupon she sleepeth and taketh her quiet rest in the holy Ghost, whom the holy Ghost doth so preserue and keepe from feare of any danger, that the quiet rest and peace of their minds and consciences cannot be disturbed or hindered at all. He saith vnto the yong virgins, * I charge you, which words were expounded before. He chargeth them not to stirre or waken his loue, vntill shee please, but then he would haue the young maydes to waken her, when they are moued thereunto by the word of God: and this verse is repeated in the Canticles, to shew that God hath no lesse care ouer the Church which is made of the Gentiles and wicked, being once conuerted, then hee hath of the Iewes and others, which in the beginning were made righteous by him, but that hee hath an equall care and loue of them both, being made one in him and thorough him.

The friends of the Bridegrome vnto the young maydes.
The Commentarie.

6 VVho is she that commeth vp out of the wildernesse like pillars of smoke, perfu­med with myrrhe and incense, and with all the spices of the merchant?

[Page 63] 7 Behold his bed, which is Salomons: threescore strong men are round about it, of the valiant men of Israell.

8 They all handle the sword, & are ex­pert in warre, euery one hath his sword vp­on his thigh for the feare by night.

9 King Salomon made himselfe a pal­lace of trees of Libanon.

10 He made the pillars thereof of siluer, and the pauement thereof of gold, the han­gings thereof of purple, whose middest was paued with the loue of the daughters of Ie­rusalem.

11 Come forth ye daughters of Sion, & behold the king Salomon, with the crowne: wherewith his mother crowned him the day of his mariage, and in the day of the gladnesse of his heart.

The blessed spouse resting her selfe vnder the protection of Christ, doth dayly more & more profit in the knowledge of Christ: and this is done euen in the wildernesse of this world, and in the middest of the wicke, dall maner of aduersities & troubles whatsoeuer, [Page 64] to the words which come after, like pillers of smoke perfumed with myrrhe and incense, teach vs, that as sweet swelles and perfumes being layd vpon the fire, do yeeld a greater and better smell, euen so the elect out of the verie, fire of their tēptations, by the works of Chri­stian iustice, do s [...]nd forth the sweete smell of mirrhe and incense, which the friendes of the Bridegrome perceiuing, crie out with great admiration and wondring, saying, Who is she that commeth vp, &c. so that these wordes and the rest that follow vnto the end of this chap­ter, do in my opinion, properly belong & ap­pertaine vnto the friends of the Bridegrome, and ministers of the word, and therefore they containe matters of doctrine, which concern the Church and glory of God. First of all therfore, as if they were astonished and sur­prised with admiratiō, they tel vs what won­derfull things God hath wrought & brought to passe in his Church, that is to say, how by the vertue of the spitit at one & the self same time she doth both rest and moue, or ascend like a pillar of smoke, perfumed with mirrhe and incense. A verie strange thing and wor­thie to bee noted: and in the fire of tri­bulation at the same time shee hath peace, at what time she goeth and groweth from vertue to vertue by the spirit, and her faith increaseth dayly more and more, which [Page 65] is effectuall and powerfull in her by meanes of loue, & peace. And this is the peace which passeth all vnderstanding, because the flesh cannot conceiue how this should be, that she should at the selfe same time bee vexed and troubled, and yet haue such peace and rest thereby, that shee should become more righ­teous, godly and pure then shee was before. And looke as the smoke mounteth vpward, so long, that at the length it cannot be seene any longer, so as it is partly seene, and partly not seene: so the Church consisteth of her members, the number whereof is dayly renu­ed, and which are partly knowne, partly vn­certaine and vnknowne. And as the smoke which is engendred of the fire, mounting vp on high, doth by litle and litle vanish away out of a mans sight, euen so the church which kindleth the loue of God in our harts by the fire of the holy Ghost, leaues not to ascend and mount vp higher and higher vntill shee bee cleane lifted vp aboue the sight of all earthly thinges, and transported vn­to the consideration of the inuisible thinges which are in heauen aboue. Be­holde his bed, which is Salomons, threescore strong men are round about it, of the valiant men of Israell. Behold. Finally, they shewe what and how greate the securitie is of the flourishing greene bed, that is to say, of [Page 66] the power and wisedome of Christ, and what vehement and wonderfull great loue he bea­reth towardes the spouse and her maydens: and all this is done vnder the figure of Salo­mon. Furthermore, they lay before our eyes certain tokens of his loue, as namely these, in that he keepeth, preserueth & defendeth his Church from the tyranny or treacherie of such as lie in waite to destroy it, and likewise in sending of his Prophets at their appoin­ted time, to forewarne them of the euils to come, and fore-arme them with all sortes of armour necessarie for them against their e­nemies the flesh and the diuell: for the Pro­phetes must by their offices still watch and ward for the profite and commoditie of the Church. And the number of ten being mul­tiplied by sixe, maketh vp iust 60. Where the number of ten is taken for the Law or de­calogue, and the number of sixe for all that space and time wherin God made all things. Wherefore by the threescore strong men wee are to vnderstand all the perfect and righte­ous men of the Church, who whilest they fulfil the ten commandements in sixe daies, they may be rightly said to bee set round a­bout Christs bed, because they doe confirme and strengthen the godlie minds of the wea­ker sort of their brethren, both with good words & good examples, & so by this means [Page 67] they do driue away all their enemies from them. They hold the swordes in their handes whē they obey & fulfill Gods words, and are expert in warre, whiles they teach & instruct others, which by their godly meanes are pre­serued: and the sword, to wit, the word of God, teacheth vs that no malice of man is a­ble to ouercome the wisedome of God, and the hands wherein they holde his sword, are nothing els but good deedes & good works: and the elect which are already come vnto perfection, haue this sword vpon their thighes, that is to say, are able to endure and beare the rigour of their conuersation, by the which they learne to beate downe the vnruly appe­tites of the flesh, and despise the force and strength thereof, by putting all their hopes and confidences in God, to the end that their enemie the diuell may not cause them to fall into the snares of his nettes, by the intising baites of the flesh in the night time and ig­norance of the world. King Salomō made him­selfe a pallace of the trees of Libanon. King Sa­lomon: these words may be well vnderstood either of the ark of the Lord, which our Lord Christ the husband of the Church caused to bee made of sundrie kindes of pretious woods, or else of the Temple which king Sa­lomon built: but chieflie and principally they are to be vnderstood of the whole Church & [Page 40] congregation of the faithfull, which is so pre­cious & costlie in the sight of God, that it is to be preferred before the most precious & dearest matter of all the most stateliest buil­dings which are▪ be they neuer so curiouslie framed & built: because it is builded of state­lie high trees of Libanus, that is to say, of no­table good teachers and preachers of the Church, which are eminent aboue the rest, and famous, as well for the pure siluer of their doctrine, as for the glistering golde of zeale & charitie crowned and adorned with the beautie of many vertues in such sort, that the mindes of other faithfull men are con­strayned as it were to beholde and admire them, as also for to glorifie God in his Saintes.

The words of the Bridegromes friends vnto the yong virgins.

Come sorth ye daughters of Zion, and behold the king Salomon, with the crowne wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his mari­age, and in the day of the gladnesse of his heart. Come forth ye daughters of Zion, that is to say, ye daughters of Zion, as many among all the nations of the world as haue receiued the words of life through Christ, and the handes of the Apostles to beleeue, come forth out of your errors and vanities, being before instru­cted [Page 41] by the holie scripture, behold the peace­able king Salomon, which made of two chur­ches one, by taking away the hinderance and let, as well of God towardes man, as of the Iewes towards the Gentils, by his death and passion on the crosse: come see and behold the humanitie of Christ crowned with a crowne of the deitie O good God, how great was the loue of God towardes man, that hee gaue his onlie begotten sonne in the flesh, to the end that euerie one that beleeueth in him should not perish, but haue eternall life, either that they shall receiue it in that day when he shall come to iudge both the quick and the dead, or that they haue receiued it already, in that day, when his humanitie was glorified the third day after his resurrection and triumph ouer the diuell the great enemie of all the faithfull people of God.

The fourth Chapter.

1 Behold thou art faire my loue: behold thou art faire, thine eyes are like the doues: among thy lockes thine haire is like the flocke of goates, which look downe from the mountaine of Gilead.

2 Thy teeth are like a flocke of sheepe in good order, which go vp frō the washing: [Page 70] which every one bring out twinnes, and none is barren among them.

3 Thy lippes are like a threde of skar­let, and thy talke is comely: thy temples are within thy lockes as a peece of a pomegra­nate.

The Commentarie.
The words of the Bridegrome vnto the Bride

THe Church of God is commended for diuerse things in the Canticles. First, for her doues eyes, that is to say, her simplici­tie and synceritie of minde and iudgement which is giuen her by the holy Ghost, which is signified by the similitude and shape of a doue: secondly, for her ornaments and iew­els which do not a litle beautifie and adorn the face, because they are the ornamentes of the head, and the head is Christ, whose face shineth most gloriouslie, and in whose coun­tenance is all the glorie of all the faithfull wheresoeuer. Thirdlie, she is praysed for her haire for as the haires do grow on the head, so the truth which we haue and receiue from our head Christ, doth take fast root, and in­creaseth in vs: nowe it groweth and increa­seth in vs by reason of the preachers of the Gospell, which are as it were the haires of [Page 71] this head, which depēdeth on Christ the true head of the church. And the hairs of this head of the spouse are very properly & fitly com­pared vnto Goats haires, because whiles they attend wholly vnto the precepts of the Law, and meditate vpō nothing but vpon heauē ­ly things, they are clean creatures, which feed in high steep places. And by Gilead, which is as much to say by interpretatiō, as an heap of testimonies, is meant the multitudes of mar­tyrs, which cōfirme Christs doctrine by their deaths and passions. Thy teeth are like a flock [...] of sheep in good order, which go vp from the wa­shings, which euery one bring out twins, and none is barren among them. Thy teeth. The teeth are the power of the holy Ghost, by the which the true Bishops do ouercome the wicked, and crush them in peeces by the preaching of the word and Christian conuersation, and either conuert and turne them to the truth, or else confirme and establish them in the truth by the power of the aforesaid word. A­gaine, the Bishops are teeth, because they re­prehend and reproue the wicked by the word of truth, and make them members of Gods holy Church. Moreouer, they are teeth to break & bruise the bread of doctrine, so that it may be food for the weak. And the teeth of the Church are described to be like vnto sheep after they are washed and shorne, because the [Page 72] spirit of truth doth make the true professors of the Gospell, and generally all the faithfull to become pure, innocent, & simple or harm­lesse as sheepe: neither are they barren or fruitlesse, because as the sheepe they bring forth twinnes, & alwayes abound in all ma­ner of good workes. Thy lips are like a thred [...] of skarlet, and thy talke is comelie: thy temples are within thy lo [...]kes as a peece of a pomegranat. Againe, the Church is commended for her lips: that is to say, for her words. And her lips are said to bee red, because all her speeches tend onely to this end & purpose, to set forth the death of Christ our Sauiour: red with bloud for the saluation of the elect. And her words are fyery hot with zeale and faith▪ not knowing howe to l [...]e, but able to ouer­come the false and lying brethrē. And by her cheekes, is signified modestie and shamefast­nesse, because when a man is ashamed he blu­sheth, or his cheekes do looke red: and be­cause the pomegranat is red in hewe, therfore it may be most fitly applied vnto the passio [...] of Christ. Now, because the Church is not a­shamed of Christs crosse, but reioyceth rathe [...] in her passions and persecutions, which sh [...] is to suffer for his sake, and is wont to bear [...] the signe of the crosse verie patiently: there­fore it was well said, that her cheekes wer [...] like a pomegranate, & especiallie like a peece [Page 73] of pomegranat, because the redder part of it was hid, and the white only was seen. And as the number of graines which are in a pom­granat cannot be seene, vnlesse the pomegra­nat be broken or bruised in peeces: so like­wise the vertue and power of the Church is not seene but in tribulations and troubles.

The Text.
The Commentarie.

4 Thy necke is as the tower of Dauid, built for defence, a thousand shieldes hang therein, and all the targets of the strong men.

5 Thy two breasts are as two yong roes that are twins feeding among the lillies.

6 Vntill the day break, & the shadows flie away, I will go into the mountaine of mirrhe, and to the mountaine of incense.

7 Thou art all faire my loue, & there is no spot in thee.

In this place he cōmēdeth the spouses neck as a tower built vp of a reasonable height, hā ­ged round about with strong shields: & what thing else is this in the spouse but the sweete [Page 74] agreement of holie maners, or true strength & fortitude against all aduersities that shall happen, being alwayes adorned and decked with strong champions and Christian warri­ours, which they keeping and preseruing, do not only praise them, but also in the power and vertue of him that is able to strengthen their weake soules endure and suffer all ma­ner of aduersities. The great Cannon which defendeth this Church, is nothing els but the liuely words of the holy scripture which do pearce euen to the soule: and the thousand bucklers or targets, are the hoped for helpes and succours of Gods diuine prouidence, by the which he doth so much sustaine and re­leeue his seruants, that it is not possible that they should bee ouercome or ouerthrowne. Thy two breasts. Finally, because hee meaneth not to proceed so far in this place, as to speak of her girdle, after he had spoken of her head and neck, he addresseth himselfe to say som­what in commendations of her two breastes: wherby is meant the doctrine of both the old and new testament, then the which there can bee nothing imagined more pleasant more amiable, or more profitable: and he likeneth them to two young roes, because as they do lightly leape and skip vp and downe, so the doctrine of both the old and newe testament is spread abroad throughout the face of the [Page 75] whole world, & their feeding, is said to be a­mong the lillies: wherby are signified the faith­full, amongst whom there is alwaies abiding the loue & charity of the Church, which fee­deth, that is to say, recreateth her: & this loue doth remaine for euer in her full state & per­fection among the faithfull. But what is the food wherewith she feedeth thē? It is the food of the spirit and word of God: for because the Church doth alwaies feed on that food which shall make her strong to perseuer and conti­nue out vnto the end. Moreouer, the faithfull people of God are fed and nourished with faith and loue of the Church: but howe long are they fed after this sort? vntill the day breake, that is to say, to the end of the world, and that the shadowes of errors, mens inuen­tions, and all the workes of darknesse do flie away. And Christ may rightly then bee sayd to come vnto vs, when he helps vs, and to go away from vs, when he takes all hope of help and succour from vs. Now the spouse as long as she is in this world, is not without tribu­lations and crosses, and doubtlesse she would soone perish and come to nought, if Christ shold not come to her to comfort & streng­then her with the power of his spirit, and therfore the Bridegrome speaketh vnto the Church, as if he did speake vnto a third per­son, saying, I will go into the mountaine, that is [Page 76] to say, I will indeed helpe thee, which arta mountain of mirrhe, & a hill of incense, that is to say▪ so full of my sweete ointments, as a mountaine of incense and mirrhe. Thou art all faire my loue, & there is no spot in thee. Thou art, &c. He commeth then, and slacketh not to come vnto his welbeloued spouse: for he is no lyer, to say that he will come, and not to come: & he saith, thou art all faire, & there is no spot in thee. How faire? how without spot, or blemish? by the bountifull and beau­tiful presence of the immaculate son of God, and for the sweet smell of his ointmēt wher­with he hath perfumed vs: and hence it is, that the Church is called a mountaine of mirrhe, & a mountain of incense because that she al­beit in her self, and of her selfe she is most mi­serably foule, & black as any blackamore can be: yet notwithstanding in her bridegrome Christ most amiable, admirable & faire, pure without spot in Christ, because he wipes a­way all her spots, & blots by forgiuing her her sins, and imputing them no longer vnto her.

The Text.
The Commentarie.

8 Come with me frō Lebanon my spouse, euen with me from Lebanon, and looke from the top of Amanak, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the dennes of the Lyons, [Page 77] and from the mountaines of the Leo­pardes.

9 My sister, my spouse, thou hast woun­ded mine heart, thou hast wounded mine heart with one of thine eyes, and with a chaine of thy necke.

10 My sister, my spouse, how faire is thy loue? how much better is thy loue then wine, and the sauour of thine ointments then all spices?

11 Thy lippes, my spouse, drop as honey­combes: honey and milke are vnder thy tongue, and the sauor of thy garmentes is as the savour of Lebanon.

Here in this place we are to consider thus much: that by the foure hilles of Israell is to be vnderstood the vocation of the Church of the Gentils vnto Christ her husbād, which is called, that she may not dwel any longer with Lyons & Leopards, but may be freed frō the power of thē, that is to say, that her body may not bee torne in peeces with the cruelty of bloudy tyrants, or distracted by the diuersity & variety of wicked sects: but that she being reduced, & brought from heresie & errour to [Page 78] the true vnderstāding of the faith, may make one true Catholike Church of all the elect, which are gathered & assembled together of all nations, tongues, and kingdomes of the earth, as who would say: This my beautifull spouse flyeth vnto me for refuge, not only from Libanus, but from all the corners and quarters of the earth, eschuing the subtil­ties of Sathan, and treacheries of false tea­chers and heretikes, such as they haue medi­tated and thought vpon lying on their beds, to destroy and annoy the Church. And in that he saith, that his heart was wounded, wee are to note the greatnesse of his loue which he beareth towards the Church, which he for good cause calleth his sister and spouse: first, because shee is become his heauenly bedfel­low, & partaker of the benefit of his celestial bed: and secondly, because hee vouchsafed to take flesh, and put on mans nature vpō him, that he might be our naturall brother. The eyes of the Spouse are the iudgements & pro­ceedings of the holy Ghost: the necke is faith, and the chaines about the necke, the workes that are done in faith. Againe, the spouse hath two eies whilest she liueth in the flesh, to wit, the iudgemēt of the spirit, & the iudgmēt of the flesh: the first pleaseth Christ greatlie, the secōd displeaseth him as much as the former pleaseth him, because it is cōtrary to the for­mer, [Page 79] which the church shal be quite & cleane freed frō, when mortifying the old man, she runneth vnto the tabernacle of the bodie by death. Furthermore she is said to haue two chains about her neck, the one a chain of hy­pocrisie, that is to say, of seming good works that issue forth frō faith, one of these chaines the bridegrome loueth, and the other he ha­teth to the death, because it is a sinfull chain, wherefore he saith, thou hast wounded mine heart with one of thine eyes, that is to say, with the iudgemēt and vnderstanding of the ho­ly Ghost, and with one of thy chaynes, that is to say, with the workes which come from faith, hast thou wounded mine heart, that is to say, thou hast done things very gratefull and acceptable vnto me, and hee repeateth these words, of wounding of his heart twise, to make knowne and declare the singular great loue which Christ beareth towardes his Church. And these loues are better then wine, because neither wine nor any other outward thing, can be more pleasant or acceptable, thē the workes of Christian charitie. And finally the sauour of thine oyntments is better then all spices, because the Church is made partaker of Christs ointments, which yeeld foorth a farre more precious, gracious, and louing smel, then the smell of any outward vnguent or any thing else whatsoeuer. Thy lippes my [Page 80] spouse droppe honycombes: hony and milke are vnder thy tongue, and the sauour of thy garmēts is as the sauour of Lebanon. Thy lips. The lips of the church are euer like honycombs drop­ping: but what do they drop or distill? milke and hony which is vnder their tongues. By which words we are to note the hony sweet, and milke white, vnspotted words of God. These words may be said to drop from the mouth of the chast spouse, whiles she deliue­reth them vnto her neighbours, & they flow from her most easily and fluently, which is signified by these words in that they are said to be vnder her tonge. Indeed she is indewed with her husband Christs spirit, by meanes whereof she both perfectly knoweth, and easily pronounceth all things, because it is a generall rule, the more perfectly we know a thing, the more ready shall we be able to vt­ter and pronounce the same. And it follow­eth in the text, and the savour of thy garments is as the sauour of Lebanon. What garments are these which the Church weareth, vnlesse it be these, wherewith shee which is Christs most sacred body is couered and apparelled withall? and these are the garments indeede wherwith the grace of Christ, his iustice spi­rit, truth peace, and all those good gifts and graces which do accompany them, are great­ly glorified. The sent & smell of these things [Page 81] is wonderfull strong and strange: for it is as the sauour of the hill of Lebanon, or of many odoriferous trees, and yet neuerthelesse the garmēts of the spouse are more odoriferous and well smelling, then all these things. But it is God alone, and his Christ, the Angels and elect which do smell the odor thereof, & are delighted therwith; because it is not pos­sible at all for them to please either God or man, which haue not receiued of the fulnesse of Christs spirit.

The text.
The Commentarie.

12 My sister my spouse is as a garden in­closed, as a spring shut vp, and a fountaine sealed vp.

13 Thy plants are as an orchard of pomegranates with sweete fruits, as cam­phire, spikenard.

14 Euen spikenard, and saffron, cala­mus and cinnamon, with all the trees of in­cense, myrrhe and aloes, with all the chiefe spices.

15 O fountaine of the gardens, ô well of liuing waters, and the springs of Leba­non.

16 Arise, ô North, and come ô South, [Page 82] and blow on my gardē, that the spices ther­of may flow out: let my wel beloued come to his garden, and eat his pleasant fruit.

The Bridegrome in this first verse com­mendeth the spouse for abounding in all manner of fruit of good workes, and he v­seth the similitude very fitly of a garden, which because it may the better bring forth herbes, trees, spices, and all sorts of fruits, men do vse to set a hedge round about it, to keepe out cattle from hurting of it, and last of all, it is watered with wholesome, sound, and vnpoysoned waters: and euen so for all the world is it with the Church. What boo­teth it then, for the Church to be neuer so fertile and fruitfull in good workes, vnlesse God preserue and keepe it with a fatherly prouidence and care, setting (as it were) a hedge round about it, vnlesse he water it with the water of life, and shadow or refresh it with the comfortable gifts and graces of the holy Ghost: and therefore it is said, as a spring shut vp, and a fountaine sealed vp, because it is confirmed and strengthened with the protection of the Almightie, as also for an other reason, because it is not lawfull for vs [Page 83] either to adde or diminish any thing from the fountaine of the Gospell, because it must not be infected with the puddle of mens fil­thy doctrines or wicked constitutions. Thy plantes are as an orchard of pomegranates, with sweet fruits, as camphire, spikenard. Thy plants. That is to say, the fruits of good workes which follow the planting of faith, are as deare vnto me as a garden, and as pleasant vnto me as any orchard can be in the world: and thus by the varietie of costly spices, and odoriferous trees of a paradise, that is to say, of a wide orchard or delectable garden, wee are to learne, that the elect although distin­guished by degrees and persons, yet are they notwithstanding all of them within one pa­radise, that is to say, within the odoriferous and pleasant trees of the Church, which a­bound in most precious and sweet plants of the elect and faithfull ones, and euery tree, that is to say, euery one which is not planted in this pleasant Eden or garden, bringeth forth poysoned and corrupted fruit. And to conclude, there is no good herbe or fruit growing in the world out of this garden: and contrariwise, all that groweth here is whole­some, pleasant and a fruit to be desired.

The words of the Bride vnto the Bridegrome.

O fountaine of the gardens, ô well of lyuing [Page 84] waters, and the springs of Lebanon. O fountains. This sentence appeareth to be an exclama­torie sentence of the spouse, breaking foorth into the prayse of her husband, for all the good things which she hath receiued of him, as if shee should haue said in other wordes, Thou, ô my gracious and louing spouse, art the cause of all my good, the fountaine of e­ternall life: all our gardens had neede to be watered with this liuely water: thou art the well-spring of all heauenly graces, from whō all good things are powred downe vppon vs in most plentifull sort: thou art the con­duit which conuayest these wholesome wa­ters vnto thy Church, which is Lebanon. For as Lebanon is full of odoriferous plan­tings of the faithfull: so the particular Churches may be called small orchards, and pettie-gardens of the great paradise of the Church: and there is but one fountaine of liuely water which runneth thorough out all the gardens of Lebanon, that is to say, there is but one fountaine of grace and truth, namely the holy Ghost, wherewithall the seuerall congregations of the faithfull must be watered and refreshed. So then the foun­taine of the gardens, that is to say, of the particular Churches and congregations is nothing else but the fountaine of the Ca­tholike and Vniuersall Church, because it [Page 85] is in her first, and from thence deriued vnto all the rest. Arise, ô North, and come ô South, and blow on my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out: let my welbeloued come to his gar­den, and eate his pleasant fruit, Arise, ô North. The spouse inuocateth the succour & helpe of the holy Ghost, by whose inspiration her young and tender plants may as well in ad­uersitie as in prosperitie, flourish, increase, and bring foorth fruit worthy of the bride­grome, to recreate, delight, and content him, which is a most carefull and diligent hus­bandman ouer the flocke that is committed vnto him: so that the breath of his mouth may cause the sweete spices to fall off from the trees, and to ripen the daintie fruits vp­on the trees, to the end, that he that is the true husband of the Church may eate and be delighted with the fruit thereof. In fine, her heartie desire and affection is, that shee may be commended of the Bridegrome for her fruits of faith, which she can not bring forth without his speciall assistance, helpe, and fauour.

The fift Chapter.

1 I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I gathered my myrrhe [Page 86] with my spice: I eate mine hony combe with mine hony, I dranke my wine with my milke: eate ô friends, drinke and make you merrie ô welbeloued.

2 I sleepe, but mine heart waketh, it is the voice of my welbeloued that knocketh, saying, open vnto me my sister, my loue, my doue, my vndefiled: for mine head is full of dew, and my lockes with the droppes of the night.

The Commentarie.
The words of the Spouse vnto the Bridegrome.

THe Church calleth her husband Christ her welbeloued in her garden, that is to say, she ascribeth all glorie vnto him, for ma­king her so faire a garden, and causing her to bring foorth such trees and wonderfull strange and odoriferous fruit: whereby shee confesse, ththat both her selfe and her fruit do come from Christ, to the end that hee may be alwayes ready to helpe her, and that he may be glorified in all, of whom all things are, and haue their being: therfore she spea­keth these words, my welbeloued Christ came into his garden, that is to say, vnto me which [Page 87] am his, and in whom, if there be any good or pleasant thing, it must be acknowledged to proceede & come from his bountifull good­nesse, and he eate his It, the fruit fo his plea­sant apples. pleasant fruit, so that these are the words of the spouse, promising her seruice & deuotion vnto the Bridegrome. Furthermore her garden and all her delights, (as it hath bene before shewed you) must be watered by Christ with his heauenly water.

The Bridegrome speaketh vnto the Bride these words.

I am come into my garden, &c. The Bride­grome heareth the prayers of the Church, and accordingly addresseth himselfe vnto her, and he commeth to helpe her, he gathe­red myrrhe and spice, that is to say, the good workes of the Church, which are done in faith, doe fully please, and are right accepta­ble vnto him: afterwards then he calleth her to come into his garden, into what garden I pray you? vnto her selfe, for she is Christs pleasant garden, she is his paradise: for it is Christs desire and will, that she should re­tire backe againe vnto her selfe, and returne vnto her heart, and he calleth her, because no man can truly returne vnto his heart, vnlesse it please him to call, and instruct him with his holy Spirit: and the reason thereof may be this, because there is no man so righteous [Page 88] or godly which sinneth not at one time or o­ther, as long as he liueth in the flesh, and therefore he hath great need to returne vn­to himselfe, and be renewed and repayred in Christ, because in deed no man can be truely said to returne, but hee that crucifieth the flesh, and is reformed and informed afresh againe by the holy Ghost. It followeth, and eate his pleasant fruit. Before we heard that Gods wordes were taken for hony, milke, and wine: for hony because of the sweetnesse thereof, for milke, for the meetenesse and conuenientnesse thereof for young children, lastly for wine, because it filleth our hearts with true ioy and gladnesse, all these the bridegrome may be said to eate and drinke▪ when he delighteth in them, eate, ô friends drinke and make you merrie, ô welbeloued. A­mong the number of those which are of th [...] Church of God, there are called vnto th [...] aforesaid banquet of hony, milke, and wine that is to say, vnto the tasting of Gods wor [...] first of all, all Bishops and true professors o [...] the Gospell: hee willeth them to eate an [...] drinke, and be drunken also, because h [...] would haue them to take enough of God words, that is to say, to giue themselues whol [...]ly vnto the meditation of them vntill th [...] be dronken therewithall. O happie drunkennesse, which commeth not of the fr [...] [Page 89] of the vine, but of the sweet liquor of Gods words, which maketh vs forget all tempo­rall affaires, in such sort, that men beeing once inflamed with the loue of heauenly things, neuer feele any temporall paine or griefe, as a drunken man in his drunkennes forgetteth all his businesse.

The words of the Spouse.

I sleepe, but mine heart waketh, it is the voice of my welbeloued that knocketh saying: open vn­to me my sister, my loue, my doue, my vndefiled, for mine head is full of dew, and my lockes with the droppes of the night. I sleepe. There be some, in whom the desires and affections of the flesh are yet to be seene, as in the be­ [...]eeuers which haue not yet altogether cru­cified and mortified the same, because whiles [...]hey liue in this worlde, the flesh pre­ [...]ayleth and worketh something in them: [...]nd therefore the Spouse sayth, I sleepe, but [...]ne heart waketh. She sleepeth whiles that he is somewhat kept backe by the weake [...]esh, that she cannot follow Christ so per­ [...]ectly as she would: for shee would not [...]ne nor offend any more by her good will, yet neuerthelesse she doth sinne and [...]ffende many times whether shee will or [...]o, because oftentimes it so happeneth, [Page 90] that she doth those things which she should not, and would not doe, and those things which she would do, doth she not: and yet for all this, her heart waketh, by the grace and fauour of the bridegrome: whence it com­meth to passe, that according to the inward man, she reioyceth in the law of the Lord, and delighteth in it, saying, the voyce of my welbeloued, as if she shold haue said, although I sleepe in the flesh, yet my heart is still wa­king, I heare and knowe the voyce of my welbeloued Christ, calling me into his gar­den, that is to say, willing mee to returne vnto my selfe, open vnto me my sister. He saith not sister, but my sister, this word my, and yo [...] marke it, is alwaies added to the former. No [...] he calleth her sister, because of the bond o [...] charitie, a friend for her faith, a doue for ha­uing the spirit of God vndefiled, because o [...] the righteousnesse of her husband, his, be­cause all these thinges, being put together, or euery one by themselues in particu­lar: do flow from Christ. So then the Bride­grom knocketh saying, open vnto me, this is great and waightie commaundement, an [...] there cannot be a more necessarie precep [...] the bridegrome would haue euery one t [...] open vnto him, and why so? for because [...] he saith himselfe, mine head is full of dew, [...] my lockes with the droppes of the night. Go [...] [Page 91] the father is Christs head, as it is in the first Epistle of S. Paul to the Corinthiās, chap. 3. vers. 11. and Isaiah saith, thy dew is the dew of light, that is to say, his truth and his iu­stice: againe Christ is the head of the spouse, and the lockes of his head are those things which she obtaineth thorough his meanes at the handes of God, as grace and remissi­on of sinnes, the peace of mind, helpe and succour in time of trouble and necessitie, and a hundred such like things, the night, or darkenesse, are the wicked, the droppes of the [...]ght, are those things which are deriued from them, as poysoned doctrine and wic­ked workes. Wherefore to conclude this point, all wicked men, and all the power of darkenesse which Christ sustayneth, or restrayneth rather from doing of any euill, both to himselfe, and his seruants, they are the droppes of the night, because they are the workes of darkenesse.

The Text. The wordes of the spouse vnto her selfe.
The Commentarie.

3 I haue put off my coat, how shall I put it on? I haue washed my feete how [...]hall I defile them?

[Page 92] 4 My welbeloued put in his hand by the hole of the doore, and mine heart was affe­ctioned towards him.

5 I rose vp to open to my welbeloued, and mine hands aid droppe downe myrrhe, and my fingers pure myrrhe vpon the han­dles of the barre.

6 I opened to my welbeloued: but my welbeloued was gone and past: mine hea [...] was gone when he did speake: I sought him but I could not find him: I called him, b [...] he answered me not.

Our old Adam, being not yet altogether mortified in the Church, is somewhat slu [...] ­gish & sleepie, and opposeth himself again the wakefull and vigilant spirit, making the answere vnto the Bridegroome, when h [...] commaunded him to open vnto him, and [...]ceiue him for his eternall saluation. I have p [...] off my coat, as if he should haue said, I ref [...] not to opē vnto thee, but the flesh doth son what trouble and molest me, and thorou [...] thy fauour and grace I haue put off the c [...] of the old man, that is to say, all manners trust and confidence in my owne workes haue washed and cleansed my feet from a [Page 93] manner of affections, and haue alreadie cou­ched my selfe in the most ioyfull bed of thy peace, and now if I should rise vp out of my bed to open the dore for to let thee in, I shold all to befoule my feet, and disquiet my selfe, graunt this, that I should go to bed againe, and enioy my happy rest with thee. I am wel pleased with the amiable dewe of thy head, that is to say, of thy eternall and heauenly fa­ther, but the drops of the night which [...]ang in the locks of thy head, do amaze & terrifie me, & who knoweth whether it shall so hap­pen, that when I shall suffer and endure the sharpnesse of these drops, that is to say, of the crosse I shall offend thee, and defile my selfe, and so consequently, exclude my selfe from all manner of partaking of the dew of Gods fauours, and loose the quiet rest and peace, which by thy gracious meane I haue obtai­ned & purchased vnto my selfe: thus being plunged in extremities, and doubs, I can not see any manner of meanes how I should rise and open vnto thee.

The words of the Spouse vnto the virgins.

My welbeloued put in his hand by the hole of the dore, and mine heart was affectio­ned towards him. My welbeloued. Christs hand doth betoken his mightie operation [Page 94] power and helpe, the doore of the spouse, the workes and iudgemēts of the flesh, and this doore is fast shut or locked, that is to say, the impediments & hinderances of the flesh are not as yet taken away, which, as long as they remaine it is vnpossible for the spouse to en­tertaine or receiue Christ, or to set all her affection vpon him: but he perceiuing this our naturall dulnesse or frowardnes rather, putteth his hand, that is to say, his mercie, and bringeth succour thorought the hole of the doore, that is to say, of the flesh which is weake, and full of holes and infirmities: and he may be truly said to put his hand in­to the Church by the hole of the doore, when he lightneth her with the light of his grace, inflameth her with a true & ardēt heat, draw­eth her after him, and finally confirmeth and establisheth her with other gifts of the holy Ghost: wherefore as soone as euer she percei­ueth Christs necessary and helping hand, she shaketh off al kind of drowsinesse and sloth­full sluggishnesse; and her bowels are moo­ued towards him, that is to say, all her in­ward partes are mooued within her, toge­ther by the motion of the holy Ghost, to the end, that she may be able to do all that which her welbeloued willeth & cōmandeth her to do, and now she maketh as much hast as may be to rise vp, which before could not find in [Page 95] her heart so much as to rise & opē to her wel­beloued when hee knocked. And here wee may note the wonderfull force and efficacie of the bridegroms hand: for she did not only rise vp when she opened to her welbeloued, but furthermore, her hands did drop down mirrhe. Now the hands of the spouse are her workes, which do not alwaies drop downe mirrhe, but then only when she openeth vn­to her husband, and obeyeth his commande­ments: and looke whatsoeuer she doth in the faith and confidence of the bridegrome, is but as it were hands dropping down mirrhe through her fingers: because the good deedes of the Church, be they done neuer so secret­ly, yet neuerthelesse they do yeeld foorth a most sweet smell, and incorruptible sauour, most acceptable vnto God, in whose pre­sence they are done, and accepted of him.

The spouse speaketh.

I opened to my welbeloued: but my welbeloued was gone and past: mine heart was gone when he did speak: I sought him, but I could not find him: I called him, but he answered me not.

I opened, &c. After that Christ had com­forted the Church with his hand, and suc­coured it with his helpe, and comfort, she o­pened: by which word we are to note al that which doth any way fauour the wicked de­sires [Page 96] of the flesh, that is to say, all inuentions of men whatsoeuer, which we must open, that is, take out of the way, otherwise we shal not be able to open the wicked dore of the flesh, that is to say, to mortifie and crucifie it with the wicked lusts & affections thereof, which commeth to passe as often as he enableth her to subdue and crucifie the wicked flesh, and taketh away from her matter & food of im­pietie, planting in her a desire and longing after heauēly things, so that she is forthwith filled with Christs spirit, and verily shee as­keth many things at his hands, because she is all in all in the glorie of his name, but he passeth and goeth away along by her, that is to say, he doth not graunt her all the desires & petitions of her heart: but how then doth the chast spouse behaue her selfe after Christ is departed and gone away from her, that is, when he doth not fulfill all her desires, & do all that she would haue him for to do? she re­hearseth the wonderfull workes of God, and laudeth the great power & force of his word, saying, my soule shall go forth when he speaketh. The speech of the Bridegrome is his worde, which speaketh most absolutely in the hearts of the faithfull by the operation and wor­king of the holy Ghost, and as soone as the faithfull mā heareth the soūd of these words, he beleeueth and trusteth in them, and his [Page 97] heart or soule goeth foorth, because hee re­nounceth and denyeth himselfe, and all that liueth or is within him, for Christs sake: and the soule may be truely sayd to go forth at the voyce of the bridegrome, which lee­seth her voyce and life, and all that euer she hath for him, but whosoeuer doth so, shall be sure to keepe them vnto eternall life. So then, it is all one in effect, as if the spouse should speake after this sort, so amiable and effectuall is the voice of my welbeloued husband, that I am wholly bent and intent vpon him, still looking and following af­ter him. It followeth, I sought him, but I could not find him. What should the spouse of Christ be by the delights and ioyes of Christ, but readie to seeke him and runne after him, and this with as much hast and diligence as may be. Thus then she maketh diligent search and inquiry for her husband, & con­tinueth still seeking of him▪ but he withdrew himselfe from her, & would not suffer her to find him out, although she desired it so as nothing more, for albeit she puffed & blow­ed, & labored till she swet againe, to find him out, yet she could not find him, till he mani­fested himself vnto her, which may be foūd at any time, so that a mā haue faith which faith cōmeth frō God the giuer of al good things. Neuerthelesse it pleaseth him for a while to withdraw [Page 98] himselfe from the flesh, to the end that it may be more holy, and more sanctified. Againe, the spouse addeth these wordes, I called him, but he answered me not. She calleth the Bride­grome, because she hath neede of his fauour and help, and desireth it most earnestly, & he answereth her, when he granteth her the de­sires and petitions of her heart: but she saith, that her welbeloued answered her not when shee called him. Because he did not presently yeeld vnto her request, by giuing that which shee asked: for oftentimes it so commeth to passe, that God doth not presently bestow that on vs, which we desire at his hande, because in­deed by withholding and withdrawing these things from vs for a certain time, he maketh vs to bee more earnest and willing to seeke those thinges, according to the institution & prescript of his word.

The Text.
The Commentarie.

7 The watchmen that went about the citie found me: they smote me and wounded me: the watchmen of the walles took away my vaile from me.

8 I charge ye, ô daughters of Ierusalem, if you find my welbeloued, that you tell him that I am sicke of loue.

[Page 99] 9 O the fairest amōg women, what is thy welbeloued more then other welbeloued? what is thy welbeloued more then another louer, that thou doest so charge vs?

Whiles the Church was thus earnest in the pursuit of her welbeloued, the watchmen, and those that went round about the citie found her thus perplexed: and by them we are to vn­derstand those which are Bishops and chiefe­priests in name and word only, being indeed so far frō shewing where Christ is, and com­forting the weake consciences of the ignorāt people with the words of life: that they do rather beat the spouse, and vexe the Church, as the euill seruants in the Gospel, did afflict and beat the rest of their maisters family, and fellowseruants, whiles their maister was a­broad in a forraine countrie. These be the men that lade men with an infinit number of humane precepts and commandements, & these false teachers tooke away her vaile from her. When vnder the pretence and pretext of true religion, they became destroyers or cor­rupters of the word of God, by taking it a­way out of the Church, to the end that their owne doctrines might take place.

The words of the Spouse vnto the virgins.

I charge you, ô daughters of Ierusalem, if you find my welbeloued, that you tell him that I am sicke of him. I charge you. The faithfull spouse of Christ, being wounded, beaten, spoyled and depriued of her owne garments, and being now altogether out of hope as a man would say, to find him in the doctrines of men, yet neuerthelesse for all this, she cea­seth not to call vpon him, and seeke after him: neither wanteth she any desire or god­ly affection to stirre her vp vnto the earnest and vehement pursute therof: for it is most certaine that the elect of God, are so inward­ly prouoked and stirred vp vnto those things by the meere instinct of the holy Ghost, that they would rather chuse to die a hundred times, then once to leaue off from doing those things. Wherefore as the spouse could learne nothing of the false teachers and enemies of godlinesse, which carried a great shew of pietie & learning, she turneth her selfe vnto those which of her knowledge made no great shew of knowledge and lear­ning, to wit, vnto the young maydes and daughters of Ierusalem, signifying the faith­full and godly sort, liuing here in this world which are accounted fooles, and deuoyde of [Page 101] iudgement of the world. And it is most eui­dent that hereby they are meant, because the daughters of Ierusalem are alwayes taken for the faithfull whom the Church chargeth, that if they find Christ, they would be a meanes vnto him for her to obtaine his loue by telling him that she was sicke of loue, and languished for the desire of him, which is the greatest desire the elect can haue, because they do both seeke to find out Christ toge­ther with the spouse, and also desire him to help and succour them at all times & houres.

The virgins words vnto the Spouse.

O the fairest among women, what is thy wel­beloued more then other welbeloued? what is thy welbeloued more then an other louer, that thou doest so charge vs? It is not possible for the young virgins the Churches best belo­ued, vnlesse they first heare, to vnderstand what his state and condition is, wherefore here in this place they do aske after his con­dition and qualities demaunding what he is. Wherefore the faithfull people of God doe earnestly desire to receiue instructions of the Church, and bee informed of her what is her welbeloued (for it apper­tayneth onely to the Church to define of these things) prouided alwaies that she doe it by the tenour and prescript of Gods [Page 102] word, which is her onlie life and rod of dire­ction: how he was begotten of the father be­fore all ages: and how in the fulnesse of time, he came into the world, to take the Church to be his spouse, sauing and redeeming her from all her sinnes.

The Text.
The Commentarie.

10 My welbeloued is white and rud­die, the chiefest of ten thousands.

11 His head is as fine golde, his lockes curled, and blacke as a rauen.

12 His eyes are like doues vpon the ri­vers of waters, vvhich are vvasht with milke, and remaine by the full vessels.

13 His cheeks are as a bed of spices, & as sweet flowers: and his lippes like lillies dropping downe pure mirrhe.

14 His hands as rings of gold, set with the Chrysolite: his bellie like vvhite iuorie couered vvith saphirs.

15 His legges are as pillars of marble set vpon sockets of fine gold: his countenāce as Lebanon, excellent as the Ceders.

16 His mouth is as svveet things, and he is vvholly delectable: this is my vvelbe­loued, [Page 103] and this is my louer, ô daughters of Ierusalem.

17 O the fairest among women, whi­ther is thy welbeloued gone? whither is thy welbeloued turned aside, that vve may seek him with thee?

In these verses the Spouse describeth vnto vs the beauty of her immaculate spouse. And first, in generall tearmes, speaking of his whole person: then in particular, by entrea­ting of each part and mēber of him. She saith then, that he is white and ruddy, the chiefest a­mong thousands. By his whitenesse, we are to vnderstand his diuinitie, according to that of S. Iohn, God is the true light, and there is no darkenesse in him. His rednesse or ruddinesse is a token or signe of his humanity, because of the bloud which he shed, & rebukes which he suffered, and bitternesse of torment which he endured: and lastly, because his bloud doth wash vs cleane from all our iniquities.

It followeth in the wordes of the Spouse, that her welbeloued was the chiefest of thou­sandes, that is to say, among all the multi­tudes of men, because a thousand in this place is taken for all men, there being one onely [Page 104] Mediator left betweene God and man, Iesus Christ. But why is he the chiefest and prin­cipall aboue all other? Because he should be a fit Sauiour and redeemer of the Church: for whereas we are all the sort of vs wicked, re­probate and sinfull men, he is therefore prin­cipally good, and the chosen and chiefest among all others, to the end that we that are by nature wicked, should by his grace be­come good, and of a vile and cruell nation, an elect and chosen people vnto him, being by faith made fully partakers of his goodnes & graces, and whom it hath pleased God the Father, for his Sonne Christ Iesus sake, to e­lect, predestinate and preordaine vnto salua­tion from the beginning, because no man can be chosen or become good, vnlesse it bee by Christ, and a true & liuely faith in his death. His head is as fine golde, his lockes curled, and blacke as a rauē. His head, &c. Now the spouse goeth about to describe all the particular [...] seuerall parts of the bridegrome: and first she beginneth with his head, affirming it to [...] like the finest gold. Whereby is signified the most precious nature of God, which is called Christes head, as S. Paule sayth: the head of Christ is God. Secondly she praiseth him fo [...] his lockes, because, as the haire doth great [...] grace the head, if it bee finely curled, and somewhat blacke withall: euen so the lock [...] [Page 105] of Christes head are most decent and faire, that is to say, the doctrine and workes done in faith, preached by the Apostles, and Do­ctors of the Church, which hang round about this head like so many curled lockes. For al­beit the wicked, as much as in them lyeth, do daily resist and striue against them, yet they haue a most notable victorie ouer them, and are more and more enlarged, though perad­uenture the wicked may thinke them to bee blacke, because they cannot please them; for they do alwayes labour as much as they may, to impugne them, & obscure their doctrines with lies & inuentions. His eyes are like doues vpon the riuers of waters, which are washt with milke, and remaine by the full vessels. His eyes, &c. Here she praiseth him for his eyes, by the doues, vpon the riuers of waters, which are washt in milke or spices, we are to consider the exceeding great knowledge, & fulnes of the holy Ghost which was so plentifully aboun­ding in our Lord & Sauiour Iesus Christ, as in no creature else. Wherfore S. Iohn faith, that he was full of grace and truth: and shortly af­ter it followeth, & of the fulnesse of his grace we all receaue: and truly such are the eyes, that is to say, all the iudgements and procee­dings of Christ, to wit, most sincere & pure, and proceeding from the fulnesse of the ho­ly Ghost: his cheekes are as a bed of spices and [Page 107] as sweet flowers, and his lips like lillies dropping downe pure mirrhe. His cheeks, &c. Here is the perfect description of his cheekes, which are in the face, and wherby euery man is known: and therefore wee may verie well take these cheeks for the cōmandements and writings of God, because they do rightly teach and in­struct vs how to know Christ: and therefore it was wel said of Iohn, Attend diligently vn­to the writings of the scriptures, because you may haue eternall life by them, and they are they which testifie of me. So then it ap­peareth most plainely, that the scriptures and word of God are the face and cheekes of Christ: which doe giue vs most euident tokens of him: & they are as it were beds of spices, because their speeches are distinguish­ed and deuided into diuerse books, which smell most sweete vnto the godly mindes and this sweete smell is caused by the ope­ration of the holy Ghost, which happeneth so often as the stately sence thereof is vn­folded and expressed: and the sent thereof is increased not a litle, when those thinge [...] which may seeme to bee litle of themselues are for a certainty known to be most diuine celestiall and heauenly thinges. But wh [...] do these sweete spices growe? In the heart of the faithfull, which onely do esteeme and make account of them. And hee saith, tha [...] [Page 107] the smell of them is increased by reason of them which fell sweete spices and drugs which are the true Bishops and ministers of the word:Thus it is in Italian. who whiles they by the speciall direction and in­spiration of the word pronounce and mini­ster it vnto the people, as a most soueraigne ointment, to recreate and heale their woun­ded soules. Afterwards she commeth to de­scribe the Bridegromes lippes. Nowe the lips of the Bridegrome Christ, are his doctrine, which is published abroad by his Apostles and Saints, which like vnto certaine odorife­rous lillies, do render foorth a most gratious smell of righteousnesse and truth. His handes as rings of gold set with the Chrysolite: his belly like white iuorie couered with Saphirs.

His hands, &c. The hand of Christ is the power of Christ, wherwith both in himselfe and in others hee bringeth to passe strange things, and he declareth the exceeding great value, & inestimable goodnes of these hands, in that he likeneth them to rings of gold, set with Chrysolits and pretious stones: because that it is not possible for any mortall man to cōprehend the height & depth of Gods om­nipotent power. Furthermore, shee praiseth him for his belly: vnderstanding by his belly, his affections & cogitations: & she saith, that his belly is like white iuory couered with saphirs. Because all the cogitations, affections, and [Page 108] purposes of Christ, and the faithfull are and appeare in the presence of God, most white, most precious, and most acceptable. Iuorie is made of an Eliphants tooth, very hard, & ve­ry durable, or incorruptible, and the Saphire is a kinde of pretious stone, which shineth most brightly: and euen so the iudgements of Christ and his elect are most sincere, firme, and incorruptible: and furthermore they are bright and Orient Saphirs, lightning the whole body of the Church with their good workes: so thē men seeing them, may glorifie God, which is in heauen. His legges are as pil­lars of marble: set vpon sockets of fine gold: his countenance as Lebanon, excellēt as the Cedars. His legges. Here in this place the spouse go­eth about to commend Christes legges. Now all the strength and nimblenesse of a man is in his legges: wherefore by the legges, wee may note the inuincible strength and forti­tude of Christ, which is able both to breake all his enemies in peeces, and preserue his ser­uants from all manner of euill: and there­fore they may be well likened vnto pillars of marble, set vpon sockets of fine gold, because they are inuincible, and the strength of them can not bee ouercome: for he came into the flesh, and ouercame sinne, death and hell it selfe; because hee might subdue them vnto the faithfull, and strengthen their fearefull [Page 109] hearts. And hence it is, that you may read in the holie Scripture, that hee is called a rocke, because of his exceeding great force and strength, against the which nothing shalbe able to preuaile. Thus then the force of Christ consisteth in this, that he is a pillar of marble, which hath none like vnto him, or to be compared with him: and as many as beleeue in him, may truly bee sayd to bee pil­lars also. So that as many as are strengthe­ned and confirmed by him, may bee sayd to be pillars of the Church. And now after all this, shee setteth foorth his beautie at large, which onely the beleeuers see, and are deligh­ted with the beautie thereof: and yet they see no more then it pleaseth him to reucale vnto them. And his countenance is likened vnto Lebanon, which is a most stately and pleasant place, because indeed all the beauty, and sweete smell of Lebanon, that is to say, of the Church, which is mystically to bee vn­derstood by Lebanon, is hid in Christ, and a­mong all the trees of Lebanon, he is compa­red vnto the high, incorruptible, and odori­ferous Cedar: for looke howe much the Ce­dar doth passe all other trees in height, euē so much and more doth he exceed and surpasse all others in the Church; because hee is more high, more precious, and more odoriferous then any other, yea there is no good smell, [Page 110] no pretious & good thing whatsoeuer, which is not deriued frō him as frō the fountain of all good. His mouth is as sweet things, and he is wholly delectable: this is my welbeloued, & this is my louer, ô daughters of Ierusalem.

His mouth, &c. Last of all, she describeth the bridegromes mouth, taking it for all his inward sweetnesse, that is to say, for that in­estimable great loue which he bare vnto mā ­kind, in seeking their saluations, his peace which passeth all vnderstanding, the righte­ousnes of Gods eternall truth, & in a word, his ineffable & inestimable spirit. Finally the spouse wondering at the altitude of Christs glory: and seeing that all the praises that shee could heap and accumulate vpon him were many degrees inferiour vnto his deserts, con­cluding much matter in few tearms she saith, that he is wholly delectable, & indeed this is her principall intent & purpose euery where in the Canticles, to proue Christ to be most earnestly desired and sought after, that she might inflame and kindle the loue of all men towardes him. And it followeth in the text: and this is my louer, to shew howe greatly she did glorie in him.

The vvordes of the young virgins vnto the Spouse.

O the fairest among women, whither is thy [Page 111] welbeloued gone? whither is thy welbeloued turned aside, that we may seeke him with thee? Whither, &c. Consider that which went be­fore, how the elect not as yet wholly & fully perfect, but tainted with some small errors and faults, haue a kind of forme of godlines, and some certaine knowledge of God, which they desire might bee increased euerie day more and more, and they are willing to bee better informed, & taught better things. The young virgins, that is to say, the faithfull ser­uants of the immaculate spouse, had learned and heard before what Christ was: now they desired to know where his abiding is, whi­ther he is gone, and where they should finde him, and they promise to seeke him with her: and they may well say with her, for no man can find Christ, without he haue that which shal bring him vnto the knowledge of christ, or confirme and strengthen him in it. Nowe we know, that a true faith is a true compani­on of the faithful Church & spouse of Christ, which he himselfe nameth, the fairest among all women, that is to say, among all congrega­tions and nations, because she is most won­derfully perfect and excellent, by reason of that vnspeakeable beautie, which she recei­ueth from her heauenly husband and cele­stiall bridegrome Christ.

The sixt Chapter.

1 My welbeloued is gone downe into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feede in the gardens, and to gather lillies.

2 I am my welbeloueds, and my welbe­loued is mine, who feedeth amōg the lillies.

3 Thou art beautifull (my loue) as Tir­zah, comely as Ierusalem, terrible as an armie with banners.

4 Turne away thine eyes from me: for they ouercome me: thine haire is like a flock of goates, which looke downe from Gilead.

5 Thy teeth are like a flocke of sheepe, which go vp from the washing which eve­ry one bring out twinnes, and none is bar­ren among them.

6 Thy temples are within thy lockes, as a peece of a pomegranate.

7 There are 60. Queenes and 80. con­cubines, and of the damsels without nūber.

8 But my doue is alone, and my vnde­filed, she is the only daughter of her mother, and she is deare to her that bare her, the daughters haue seene her, and counted her blessed: euen the Queenes and the concu­bines, and they haue praised her.

[Page 113]The Commentarie.
The words of the Spouse vnto the young damsels.

IT is a strange thing to see how the Church which but a litle since sought after her wel­beloued, whom she could not find, charged the young damsels, that is to say, the faith­full, that if they did find him, they should bring her tidings of him, because she was sick for the loue of him, & yet the Church knew full well, that the young virgins could neuer find out Christ, vnlesse they were first ioined with him in perfect charitie, and therefore she teacheth and instructeth them, how they should seeke Christ, if they meant to find: & it is as much as if she shold haue said in o­ther words, my louing spouse, the only be­gotten sonne of God, came downe from heauen out of the bosome of his father, into his garden here in this world, which he crea­ted for the elects sake, adorned & beautified it, commending it to them as a paradise of delight, for to dresse and keepe it, to the end, that they hauing once rooted out the thorns of errors and impieties, might make deepe furrows in it, with the plough of Gods word, wherein might be sowen spices and sweet o­dors, which afterwards taking deepe roote might growe vppe, that is to saye, the [Page 114] elect and faithfull soules might receiue pro­fit thereby, and in processe of time gather ro­ses, that is to say, the sonnes of God diuided in the world, but vnited in faith and charity: and afterwards translate or lay them in the barne or heauen of all happinesse. And there she saith, I will embrace and loue my welbelo­ued, and my welbeloued shall embrace and loue me, in such sort, that I cannot hope for grea­ter happinesse and ioy, to bring me vnto the top of felicitie: because this is the cause why the bridegrome came into the world, to draw all things vnto him, to the end, that amongst the elect and regenerate, the fulnesse of ioy of the Bridegrome might bee fulfilled in the Spouse, as it were among those that feede a­mong roses and lillies. And the second verse is an exaggeration, shewing that her minde was pricked with wonderfull great zeale of charitie, because it was inflamed and burned within her: as if she should haue said, He de­scended and came down into me, and there­fore if you will finde him, you must seeke him in me.

The words of the Bridegrome vnto the Bride.

Thou art beautifull my loue, as Tirzah, comely as Ierusalem, terrible as an armie with banners. Thou art beautifull, &c. Whence is it [Page 115] that the chast spouse of Christ is so courte­ous and charitable? vnles it be of Christes spirit, in whom she beleeueth: and therefore he doth well to call her beautifull and comely. And he calleth her his loue or friend by grace, because by nature she merited not this loue of the Bridegrome. But therefore was shee comely and faire, because he elected & chose, decked and trimmed her, and so loued her, that he prouided all things necessarie for her saluation in most plentifull and aboundant sort. And because Ierusalem in the time of king Salomon was richer then any other city, in golde, siluer, strong men, peace, ioy, and aboundance of all corporall and temporall goods: therefore was there no better way to set foorth the beauty of the Church, but by cōparing it vnto Ierusalem, the citie of God: especially whereas the Church is a certaine pleasant city of God, abounding in all maner of spirituall goods. Neither is the Church only beautified, and adorned with all maner of graces and vertues, which shine in her: but she is terrible also, or rather maiestical & portly, made inuincible by the power of the Bridegrome: and alwayes triumphing ouer all the world, and wicked worldlings therin contained. Turne away thine eyes from me, for they ouercome me: thine haire is like a flock of goats, which look downe from Gilead.

[Page 116] Turne away, &c. The Bridegrome falleth a­fresh in commēding & praising of the bride, vsing the very same wordes which shee vsed before in the 4. chap. wherefore whereas the spouse is so glorious and great, by meanes of the bridegrome, he desireth no further thing at her hands, but that she would withall ma­ner of confidence & trust, behold & looke vpon him, nothing distrusting his loue or kindnesse towards her, assuring her self, that it could not but be right pleasant in his eies, which is the husband of the Church, that his goodnes & louing kindnesse shold be belee­ued, & embraced of the faithful: and he goeth forward in cōmending the spouse for manie good parts which were in her, because he him selfe is the head of the Church, & therfore he shold not seeme so much to cōmend himself, as his spouse: but he cōmendeth the haires of her head, which may bee taken here in this place for the chiefe of the Church, as Apo­stles, teachers, and expounders of the word: hanging downe his head, that is, depending vpō the spirituall influences of his graces for the better ornament of the bridegrome with mutuall loue and concord. And these haires are likened vnto a faire flocke of goates which come from the pleasant pastures of mount Gile­ad, the spouses eyes, as it hath beene aboue declared in the fourth cha. signifie the iudge­ment [Page 117] of the holy Ghost, and whereas it is said, that the Spouse was ouercome, Thus it is in Italian. waxed proud, or tooke great glorie in them, and all this after a good and godly sort, therefore the bridegrome willeth them to turne them away from him, not but that he was greatly pleased with them, for so wee must alwayes vnderstand him, least we mistake him, and be deceiued our selues: for the meaning of the words is this, I am already delighted & plea­sed with thy eyes, that is to say, with the knowledge of the godly & righteous iudge­mēts of the spirit of God which fully resteth in them, in so much that they do is it were kindle my loue towards thee, inflaming my zeale, & increasing the ioy which I conceiue by thee, so that I can hardly endure the ve­hemēcy of my loue, it so burneth within me. The other words which folow are expoūded in the aforenamed place and chapter. There are 60. Queenes and 80. concubines, and of the damsels without number. The Church of God is one Church in the true vnitie of the spirit, this Church hath two mothers, one a fleshly mother, and the other a spiri­tuall mother, of the first wee haue intrea­ted alreadie in the third chap. of the second, that is to say, of the spirituall mother, are these wordes spoken here in this verse: for out of doubt these words are not intended of [Page 118] the carnall Church, and therefore they must needs be meant of that Church which consi­steth in the spirit. The Bridegrome calleth this Church a doue, that is to say, spirituall: and hee addeth moreouer, his doue, because it is by means of his spirit, that she is spiritu­all: for without it she could not bee accoun­ted a doue. Furthermore, we may, for ought that I know, take this mother for the regene­rating grace of God, which electeth the sim­ple, and sustaineth and vpholdeth the elect: & this is commended of the Queens, concu­bines, and yong damsels: by whom we are to vnderstand the faithfull, because they are made of a wicked and incredulous generati­on, a Church and congregation of the elect, which is continually reuiled, blasphemed, & contradicted Furthermore, these concubines and Queenes are the kings wiues, because it is no strange phrase in the scripture, to call the concubines by the name of wiues: al­though it be euident out of the olde testamēt, that the chiefe of them were called wiues, and the rest concubines: as it is manifest by Abra­hams wiues. Thus thē the whole Church be­ing considered together, is one perfect spouse of Christ, called a doue, because of the gifts of the holie Ghost, which are contained in her: and the more speciall, particular, and greater Churches are called Queenes, the lesser con­cubines, [Page 119] because although they be threescore in number, that is enough, yet these are four­score, that is more, for indeed the lesser Chur­ches are more in number then the greater, the young damsels are the faithfull soules without number, because there are many which are vnknowne to vs.

The Text.
The Commentarie.

9 VVho is she that looketh forth as the morning, faire as the moone, pure as the sunne, terrible as an armie with banners.

10 I went downe to the garden of nuts, to see the fruits of the valley, to see if the vine budded, and if the pomegranates flourished.

11 I knew nothing, my soule set me as the chariots of my noble people.

12 Returne, returne ô Shulamite re­turne: returne that we may behold thee, what shalt thou see in the Shulamite, but as the companie of an armie?

THe Church is the morning, which hath not yet receiued the fulnes of her light, [Page 120] which she shall receiue in glorie: the M [...]e is the truth of Christs doctrine▪ which shineth in the darknesse, but the darknes comprehē ­ded it not, Ioh. 1. The Sun as Christ Iesus. Esa. 60. vers. 20. Thou shalt haue no more Sunne to shine by day, neither shall the bright­nesse of the moone shine vnto thee, for the Lord shall be thine euerlasting light, and thy God, thy glory. Thy [...]un shal neuer go down, neither shall the moone be hid: for the Lord shal be thine euerlasting light. Thus then the Church is faire, but faire as the moone, that is faire as the truth, because all her beauty and fairenesse commeth from thence: for so grea [...] is her beauty and comelinesse, as her faith is great in Gods word, if her life be answerable therunto: afterwards shee is elected as the su [...] Christ, who in all the elect is sayd to be th [...] first borne, because others are elected and pre­destinated vnto saluation frō the beginning for his sake: that she is terrible as an army wit [...] banners. It hath bene already shewed yo [...] in the beginning of this chap: where you may read the very same words. And this interro­gatiue kinde of speech, Who is she? are th [...] words of Christ spoken by the way of admi­ration, to make the glorie of the Churc [...] more known vnto al the world. I went dow [...] to the garden of nuttes, to see the fruites of th [...] valley, to see if the vine budded, and if th [...] [Page 121] pomegranates flourished. I went downe &c. He calleth the Church a garden of nuts, because the kernell and sweetnesse thereof is contai­ned vnder an hard shell of aduersitie. Christ came downe into this garden, to preserue the fruits of the waters or torrents,Thus it is in Italian. that is to say, of the elect, which are as trees plan­ted by the riuers of waters, as it is in the first Psalme. To see whether the vine budded, [...] to say, the faith of those elect, of the elect which cōtinually haue their faiths accōpani­ [...]d & followed with good works: & we may, obserue this in these wordes of Christ vnto the Church, I went downe, that there is no­thing which may any way belong or apper­taine vnto the good of the Church, but he re­uealeth and maketh it knowen vnto her.

The Spouse speaketh vnto the Bridegroome.

I knew nothing, my soule set me as the cha­riots of my noble people▪ I knew nothing, &c. Christ deliuered vnto the spouse the manner of his comming downe vnto her, and that in the verse immediatly going before, to whom she replyeth after this manner, I knew not, that is to say, I marked not that you were so neare me, till you bewrayed your selfe vn­to me by your sweete and pleasant wordes, [Page 120] [...] [Page 121] [...] [Page 122] likewise I knew not when thou departed [...] from me, vnlesse it pleased thee to reueale the same vnto me, and the reason is, because no man knoweth the hidden secrets and my­steries of God, vnlesse it be God and him▪ vnto whom God reuealeth them: and it fol­loweth, my soule. The soule of the Church is Christ, & it is a very vsuall and significatiue kind of speech to expresse a mans loue, be­cause he that loueth a thing earnestly and vehemently, calleth that which he loueth, his soule: so that the righteous mā which loueth Christ, saith, that Christ is his soule, he set me as the chariots of my people ▪ which runne wil­lingly in the course of Gods words, but al­though they be willing in spirit, and readie in mind, yet they draw after them heauie & weake chariots or burdens, and therefore I will goe draw those chariots, I will enter in­to them, and confirme the weake and frayle ones, with the doctrine of pietie, comfort those that are comfortlesse, and as much as I can frame my selfe wholly vnto their ser­uice, caring not what shall happen vnto me, so that I may winne some vnto the Gospell. And hence it was that S. Paul boasted of his infirmities and labours which hee suffered, and endured for Gods people.

The words of the young damsels vnto the Spouse.

Returne, returne, ô Shulamite returne: re­turne, that we may behold thee, what shall you see in the Shulamite, but as the companions of a­ny armie? Returne &c. It hath beene often­times declared vnto you before, that by the name of damsels, or young virgins, are signi­fied the faithfull people of God, which are all renewed in Christ, and euery one of them hath a youngnesse or youth of mind: these viewing and beholding the great care, and diuerse troubles of the Church, which she suffereth and endureth for their sakes, are constrained to reioyce in the true charitie thereof, because it is proper vnto the faith­full alone, to reioyce & be glad in the Lord, whē they see the loue of others towards thē, which they desire and studie (as much as in them lieth) to immitate and expresse. Ther­fore these are the words of the faithfull vnto the Church of God, which is so carefull and pensiue for their good. Returne ô Shulamite, that is to say, O thou peaceable and quiet spouse of Christ, because that she ought to be a peaceable spouse of her peaceable hus­band Christ, to the end that her nature may be answerable vnto her name, and the thing concord and concurre with the words. The [Page 124] doubling and repetitiō of the word returne, discouereth the greatnes of their affections, & whence should she returne? whence shold she come? from labours and griefe, from sor­row and trouble [...] for verily we can not but see how the Church is vexed and tormented, watcheth and fasteth, laboureth & sweateth, and all this shee is content to receiue at the hands of the wicked, for the behoofe & good of the godly, and therfore no maruell if they haue compassion on her, and call vnto her, not to disease or disquiet her selfe, by putting her selfe to much trouble and sorrow, but that she would rest a while from her labors, and returne vnto the comfortable places of the holy scriptures, to the end, that out of the scripture they may learne & see what things are to be done with ease and quietnesse, and what with care and trouble. And briefely, this is that which the young virgines desire and couet for to know, what the Church of God is, and where it is in time of prosperi­tie and aduersitie: and this is a thing most studiously to be obserued and noted, that without the knowledge of the Church, we cannot well attaine vnto the knowledge of Christ, and they are so fast linked & bound together, that if you know one, you may ea­sily know to other.

The seuenth Chapter.

1 How beautifull are thy goings with shoes, ô Princes daughter: the ioyntes of thy thighes are like iewels: the worke of the hand of a cunning workeman.

2 Thy nauell is as a round cup that wanteth not licour: thy belly is as an heape of wheat compassed about with lillies.

3 Thy two breasts are as tvvo young Roes that are tvvins▪

The Commentarie.
The words of the Bridegrome vnto the Bride.

HE beginneth here in this place, as it is manifest by the sequell therof to praise and command the Church whom he cannot chuse but loue, as being his only deare spouse: and his meaning and purpose is to say, and shew no more then Isaiah saith in his 52. cha. Nahum. 1. and Rom. 10. How beautifull are the feet of thē that declare & publish peace, that bring good tydings & publish saluatiō, [Page 126] And the Church of God, the true spouse of God is she which doth truely preach these good tydings, because she alone declareth vnto vs the worde of God, whereunto we must leane, and these goings are said to be beautifull with shoes, which words are spo­ken by way of similitude, to shew & instruct vs, that as those which will go any farre ior­ney must be well shod: so the professors and ministers of the Gospell, which are to go a farre iorney to preach the Gospell through­out the whole world, must be most readie to declare the truth vnto all men; and verily they may be then said to be readie, and neuer before, when they do teach his word faith­fully and sincerely. So then beautifull are the goings of the. Church with shoes, because when she is sent of God, she is most willing and ready to declare vnto all men the words of saluation, and thus you may see, how Christ commendeth his owne good gifts in the Church, and that before the young vir­gins, to wit, the soules of the faithfull, be­cause he would haue vs all to knowe, what manner of thing the Church is, and I doubt not, but that it so commeth to passe by the singular prouidence and wisedome of God▪ that there are so many places in this book of the Canticles, where the Church commen­deth Christ, and is againe commended of [Page 127] him, because we should know what a neces­sarie point of doctrine this is to be repeated, and ingeminated in the eares of the faithfull, seeing that the ignorance and want thereof, hath almost seduced and beguiled the whole world. In the second place he prayseth the Church for her vnspotted fruitfulnesse, be­cause her thighes signifie the power and ver­tue of bringing foorth others by the word, being like vnto precious iewels, and hereby is meant the diuine gifts of the holy Ghost, which do adorne, beautifie, and make fer­tile the soules of the faithfull. And be saith, that they are the worke of a cunning workman, because they are, the workes of almightie God, the most ingenious and cunning workemaister that euer was, who hath all power and vertue to doe whatsoeuer him listeth, who powreth his graces downe vppon vs, which make vs to bee farre more excellent and pure then wee were before, and without whose helpe we can­not doe any thing at all, thy nauell is as a round cup that wanteth not licour, thy bellie is as an heape of wheat compassed about with lillies. Thy nauell, what is this round ba­son or cup, but the doctrine of the Gospell, which neuer wanteth the licour of Gods spirit, which is still put into it? And here by the way we are to consider of how litle [Page 128] estimation the faithfull are at the first time when they are borne, vnlesse they be recrea­ted and refreshed with the liuely licour of Gods worde, which when they haue once tasted, they shall neuer need any more moy­sture, hauing the continuall dew of Gods spirit, whereby they are enabled and made powerfull to multiply and beget other sonnes vnto their husbande, and the seede whereby they do conceiue and bring forth, is the worde of God, and then this is the exposition of these words; To the end that thou sholdest beget children vnto me▪ there needeth no carnall imbracings or copula­tion, as in the generation of mens bodies, because that when thou wert first affianced and betrothed vnto me by faith, thou did­dest receiue the spirit and giftes of the ho­ly Ghost, whereby thou mayest be able to conceaue, and bring foorth children vnto God. Faith and vnfained charitie is the co­pulation which is requisite in the procrea­tion of these spirituall children, and there­fore there needeth no outward seede of the flesh, because wee haue the seede of Gods word, which is most effectuall to the con­ceiuing and bringing foorth of the fruites of good workes, and this wonderfull, strāge and pure kind of fertilitie, is yet made more plaine by these words following, thy bellie [Page 129] is as an heape of wheat, compassed about with lillies. Thy belly. As if he should haue saide, euen as in a heape of wheat there are ma­ny graines of corne, so within thy fertile wombe, there are contayned many multi­tudes of those which thou hast conceiued for mee, and because thou art full or hea­uenly blessings, no doubt of it, but thou wilt bring them foorth in their due time and season, and she conceaueth these bles­sings when she beleeueth, but bringeth them foorth when they are done in faith, and this belly is compassed about with lillies, by the lillies we may vnderstand the faith­full, because the wombe of the Church is wholly compassed about with the lillie-white innocencie of the faithfull, thy two breasts are as two young▪ Roes that are twins, thy two, the two breasts in this place, sig­nifie the old Testament and the New, the doctrine of the Prophets, and the doctrine of the Apostles which may bee very well compared vnto young Roes, either for their puritie and whitenesse, or else, because they do runne about the whole world, as the young Goates doe leape and skippe about the hilles, and for the farther ex­position of this place, wee must en­treate the gentle Reader to returne backe againe vnto the fourth Chapter, where he [Page 130] shall finde this verse wholly interpreted: only we will note this by the way, that he cal­leth them twinnes, because it is the selfe same God and father, which is the author and fa­ther of both Testaments.

The Text.
[Page 131] The Commentarie.

4 Thy neeke is like a towre of iuorie: thine eyes are like the fish pooles in Hesh­bon, by the gate of Beth-rabbim: thy nose is as the towre of Lebanon, that looketh to­ward Damascus.

5 Thine head vpon thee is as a skar­let, and the bu [...]ke of thine head like purple: the king is tyed in the rafters.

6 How faire art thou, and how plea­sant art thou, ô my pleasure?

7 This thy stature is like a palme tr [...]e, and thy breasts like clusters.

8 I said, I will go [...]p into the palme tree, I will take hold of her boughes: thy breasts shall now be like the clusters of the vine: and the sauour of thy nose like apples.

9 And the roofe of thy mouth like good wine, which goeth straight to my welbeloued, and causeth the lips of the an­cient to speake.

The necke is faith, as it is euident out of the first and fourth Chapters, and this place may be thus expounded, as if a man had a towre of iuorie, doubtlesse it would be a very precious and strong place: so in like maner, if a man haue faith, hee hath a most firme, strong and precious towre and rocke of de­fence, against which the gates of hell shal ne­uer be able to preuaile: but of this there hath bene sufficiently spoken in the places aboue mentioned. Moreouer, he commendeth her for her fine eyes, which signifie nothing else but the iudgementes of the Church, which are as cleare, bright, and pure, as the most [...]eare waters in the fish-pooles of Hesebon, which are the liuely fountaines of truth, and pure waters of Gods word, which the bride­groome hath in great abundance, and of the aboundance of his goodnesse wee all receiue that belong vnto the faithfull churches. And these fish-pooles are neare vnto the gate of Beth-rabbim, that is, if a man interpret it, the gate of the daughter of a multitude, that is, wherein manie are contained, or to whom manie belong, according to the phrase and manner of speaking of the Hebrewes, is the Church, which may bee verie fitly called, a [Page 132] daughter of multitudes begotten by the word of God, whose gate is Christ. In this gate is their great aboundance and plentie of fountaines & fishpooles of liuing water, that is to say, of truth, grace, and Gods diuine iu­stice. Furthermore, he goeth onward in prai­sing her for her nose, which is a signification of vertue; for thereby do we smell the sweete sauours of our Lord and sauior Iesus Christ: wherefore, as they which are situated vpon the top of a towre on the pleasant hill of Le­banon, do partake the sweet sent of the spices which growe thereon; so hee that standeth vpon the strong tower of the Church, and hath sure footing on this rocke, to wit, of faith, which is noted by the similitude of a rock or towre must needs be perfumed with the sweete smell of Christes ointments: for because he is in the Church, and the rest not so for the same reason: and he saith, that this tower of faith looketh toward Damascus. Where he taketh Damascus for all the carnall minded men, which are indeed nothing else but a sacke of bloud: because this is the right signification of the word in the originall. A­gainst these doth the strong tower, that is to say, the faith of the Church, looke most oppositely and directly, because the iudge­mentes and affections of the Church are cleane contrarie vnto them: and the heade [Page 133] of the Church, as wee haue before prooued vnto you, is the Bridegrome Christ: a plea­sant and worthy Bridegrome, high as mount Carmel, and fruitfull as mount Carmel: for all these thinges haue bene truly spoken, and may bee very well verified of Christ, the head of the Church, for hee is most high and statelie, fruitfull, and abounding in the corne of trueth, or rather all manner of fruites spring from him, and without him it is not possible for anie man to budde, or bring foorth either fruite or leaues. Final­lie, wee are sed with his corne, that is to say, with his Spirit and truth, as often as we be­leeue in him, as it is in the sixt chapter of Iohn and 32. verse, where hee commaun­ded the Iewes to eate and drinke him by faith. And Christ here, as in manie other pla­ces of the Canticles, commendeth himselfe in the Church, and the Church in him: for when hee praiseth the head of the Spouse, what doth hee else but commend himselfe? by and by afterwardes he commendeth the Spouse in commending himselfe: for other­wise the Spouse deserueth no commendari­ous, vnlesse it be for his sake. He proceedeth further yet to magnifie and extoll her haire: now the haire is nothing els but the doctrine and deedes of Christ, and the king which he talketh of is God, the purple the holie [Page 134] Ghost, and perfect charitie, the watering places, the writings of God & the Prophets, where all the flockes of the Christians are to be watered. And the haire of Christ is com­pared and likened vnto the purple of some mightie Prince, because all that which hee either did or taught, was deriued from the source of the holy Ghost, and fountaine of true charitie, and the king is tyed to the wate­ring places, because Gods holy spirit is in­serted and ingrafted within the writings of the holy scripture, and bookes of the Pro­phets, where he is alwayes present, and by them he maketh knowne the loue of God vnto the godly mindes: moreouer he conti­nueth to prayse the Church, by rehearsing the generall commendations thereof, and confounding or huddeling the prayses ther­of, together into one short sentence, saying, ô faire art thou. O thou Church and congre­gation of the faithfull, which art most lo­uing and pleasurable vnto thy spouse, and that in the pleasures of thy Christ, whilest thou reioycest in him alone, and none but him, for otherwise thou sholdest be the most miserable & distressed wretch in the world, receiuing no helpe and succour from him, for no man that walketh in strange plea­sures from Christ, can haue any comelinesse or beauty before the Lord. Again she is com­mended [Page 135] for her husband, and for her stature, in these words: This thy stature is like a palmetree, and thy breasts like clusters. The palme­tree is a tree that hath a sound trunke, high and straight; but the barke or rinde thereof is rugged, hard, and deformed, being broad and equallie big at top, bowing her head eue­rie way downward, which yeeldeth plentie of a kind of sweet fruite called dates, which growe so plentifully vpon this tree, that they be like vnto the clusters of vines: and this is the stature of Christes spouse: for shee is sound because of the roote and strength of faith: somewhat high and tall, which is so streight in the toppe with faith, and the consideration of heauenlie thinges: that she boweth or swaggereth not at all, neither to the right hande, nor to the left from the word of God: shee hath a hard, rough, and filthie barke, because shee is yet a sin­ner, hauing not crucified the olde man, but being alwayes subiect vnto aduersities, stormes and troubles: aboue on the toppe of the tree, that is to say, in Christ the head of the Church there bee manie fine heights and breadthes, and workes of charitie stooping euerie way vnto the necessities & infirmities of her neighbours and brethren: here are to be gathered most sweet and pleasant fruits, [Page 136] because there is nothing more pleasant and sweete then the loue of the Church, and as it is said, the Church is the palmetree, which our sauiour Christ went vp into, when hee powred downe his heauenly graces from heauen. Againe, hee went vp this palme­tree, when more particularlie hee reuealed vnto his faithfull the knowledge of his ma­iestie. And hee tooke hold of the boughs ther­of, that by touching of him, he might giue them some influence, and cause them more and more for to prosper and encrease. The breasts of the Church are compared & like­ned vnto the clusters of the vine: because as there are many stones in a cluster of grapes, so true and perfect charitie is not idle, but bringeth foorth many godly workes. The last commmendation which hee giueth of the spouse, is of the roofe of her mouth, which is the taste and feeling of Gods spi­rite, which is like the best wine, because it is most pleasant in taste, comfortable to the mind, and without any mixtion or infu­sion of anie strange liquor, maketh a man drunken after a most profitable and whole­some kinde of sort.

The Text.
The Commentarie.
The wordes of the Spouse vnto the Bridegroome.

10 I am my welbeloueds, and his desire is towards me.

11 Come my welbeloued, let vs goe foorth into the field: let vs remaine in the villages.

12 Let vs get vp early to the vines, let vs see if the vine flourish, whether it hath budded the small grape, or whether the pomegranates flourish: there will I giue thee my loue.

13 The mandrakes haue giuen a smell, and in our gates are all sweet things, new and old: my vvelbeloued, I haue kept them for thee.

These are the wordes of the spouse dire­cted vnto the Bridegroome, containing thus much in effect. As long as I endeuour & stu­die to please thee, so long I may perswade my selfe most assuredlie that I shall want [Page 138] nothing. And furthermore, that hee will loue & embrace me as his most deare spouse and louing married wife, according vnto the holy and godly lawes of matrimonie, because my desire shall bee towardes him. Come my welbeloued, let vs go foorth into the field, let vs remaine in the villages. Fieldes, vines, and villages are out of the towne, within the towne hurres, sturres & tumults: abroad a man may finde rest and quietnesse, but at home, that is, within Gods Citie, to wit, the Church, we are to looke for no­thing but stirres and tumultes, either whiles she is tossed vp and downe, and vexed with the care of prouiding thinges necessarie for the welfare of the Church, or in making continuall warre and fight with olde Adam and the wicked: and shee is saide to goe foorth, when shee is deliuered and freed out of the handes of them, or when she can be most willing and content to suffer and en­dure all manner of rebukes for the testimo­nie of a good conscience, or for Christs sake: reposing all her trust and confidence in God, and vtterly distrusting her owne workes or merits. Afterwards she may bee trulie sayd to remaine in the villages, when she hath the benefite of Christs peace. Ear­lie in the morning, that is to say, when she is illuminated and lightened thereunto by [Page 139] Christ, because all thinges must be done in his name, and in his name we are to seeke for the flower of true faith. And the grapes which are not yet fully ripe, are the works and deeds of faith, which are saide to be greene, vnripe, or somewhat sower, because as long as wee liue here in this wicked world, and carrie about vs this frayle and brittle flesh, there remayneth some dregges of imperfection in vs. And furthermore, it is sayd that they went to see whether the Pomegranates did flourish: that is to say, they did seeke and inquire after many good workes, done in good and orderly sort: likewise we may vn­derstand hereby the well ordered and gouer­ned congregations of the faithfull which are red with charitie: and this is the onely order and method to be obserued of vs in gouer­ning and guiding the works of the Church, that all thinges be done and ordered accor­ding vnto the prescribed rule and Canon of Gods word: for otherwise howe can they be said to be ordered at all? The violets haue giuen a smell, and in our gates are all sweete thinges, new and olde: my welbeloued, I haue kept them for thee. So then the Spouse go­eth vnto the villages with Christ, that is to say, by his meanes shee commeth vnto the full fruition of true rest and tranquilitie, be­cause the violets, which do most commonly [Page 140] growe abroad in the fieldes, are taken for the faithful, whose place and habitation is in the fields, that is to say, in peace: because as they are sometimes oppressed with the tumultes of the Citie, that is to say, assaulted with di­uerse and grieuous temptations: so at ano­ther time they enioy such rest of minde, and peace of conscience, that they seeme to haue arriued at the hauen of all happinesse, and to be safely brought vnto the pleasures and de­lights of the countrie. It followeth, And in our gates are all sweet thinges, to wit, in the gates of our villages, which are these, iu­stice, righteousnesse, hope, the grace of God, wisedome, a cleane heart, and a pure vnder­stāding: because the faithful do remaine and dwell in these villages most peaceably and securely: and the gates of these villages or towres are these, faith and trueth, together with the feare of God, which is the begin­ning of wisedome: and these are for the most part common with Christ and the spouse, and therfore he calleth them our gates. Round about these gates and villages there is great plentie of good workes growing, which are to bee reaped, when the haruest and seaso­nable time of charitie commeth.

The eight Chapter.

1 O that thou vverest as my brother that sucked the breast of my mother: I vvould finde thee vvithout, I vvoulde kisse thee, then they should not despise thee.

2 I vvill leade thee and bring thee into my mothers house: there thou shalt teach me: and I vvill cause thee to drinke spiced vvine, and new vvine of the pome­granate.

3 His left hand shall bee vnder mine head, and his right shall embrace me.

4 I charge you, ô daughters of Ierusa­lem, that ye stirre not vp nor vvaken my loue vntill she please.

The Commentarie.
The wordes of the Spouse vnto the Bridegroome.

OH that thou werest as my brother, &c. Christ is as it were a brother vnto those that are of the congregation of the faithful [Page 142] as hee saith in the third chap, of Mark. vers. 35. Whosoeuer doth the will of God, hee is my brother, and my sister, and mother, and Saint Paule in the 8. chapt. to the Romanes, calleth him the first borne among many brethren. And hee was made, as it were a brother, when hee tooke flesh, and was in outward shewe like vnto vs men. Now as euery brother, that is to say, euerie faithfull man sucketh the breastes of his mother the Church which begate him by the word of God, that is to say, receiueth ayde and com­fort of her charitie and loue: so in like ma­ner Christ, although indeede hee receiued not any comfort from her breastes, yet ne­uerthelesse wee may truly say, that hee did sucke her breastes, because he tooke delight and comfort in them. For the two breastes signifie loue and charitie, as it hath bene be­fore shewed you. And this husband Christ is hee whome the Church desireth to finde in the streetes of the Citie, that is to say, in the multitudes of peoples, because it is her heartie desire and wish, that if it bee possible shee may bee seene and knowne of all by faith, and finallie to the honour and glorie of God, and example of others: shee desireth to kisse him, that is, humblie to request Gods fauour and grace through Christ, wherefore the Spouse here in this [Page 143] place seemeth to bee willing before men to confesse her selfe to bee a most wret­ched, vile, and miserable sinner, making dayly intercessions and prayers vnto God through Christ for his mercifull fauour, and therefore she desireth that she may haue leaue to kisse him publikely in the streetes▪ and what is meant hereby? it appeareth by the words following, then they should not de­sp [...]se me. As who would say, I know that thou doest most louingly embrace and kisse me in secret, but I beseech thee, ô my gentle and most louing Sauiour, to kisse me openly, and in the presence of whole multitudes, to the end that all men may know and learne by my example, to confesse themselues to be miserable sinners, wretched persons, and in the state of damnation, and so consequently sue for Gods fauour and remission of sinnes, thorough thee their Sauiour and Redeemer, againe thy desire and prayer is, that thy most glorious and holy name, may be sanctified among all men, and that no man would de­spise thee, but contrariwise, euery one would magnifie & extoll thee with all their hearts. I will lead thee, and bring thee into my mothers house: there thou shalt teach me: and I will cause thee to drinke spiced wine, and new wine of the pomegranate. I will leade thee, &c. Final­ly he sheweth the duetie of the spouse, she [Page 144] saith, I will leade thee. Christ is led of them that pray vnto him by faith, whither they will, because he heareth them, and graunteth their requests. Thus the Church bringeth him into the house of her car­nall mother of whom wee haue spoken sufficiently alreadie. It followeth, there thou shalt teach me. She which was but late­ly informed and taught by Christes spirite, waxeth now more earnest and zealous to be taught and instructed in higher points of doctrine, and shee will haue none to teach her but Christ, to whom she speaketh with great boldnesse and confidencie, say­ing, thou shalt teach mee, and no other but thee: for there is nothing which the Church doth so much desire, as to be taught of her husband & bridegrome Christ, and to heare his voice, that is to say, his wordes and no mans else, and after that she hath bene taught of the bridegrome, what remaineth then for her to do? then she must cause him to drinke of the best wine, or spiced wine. Now this new wine of the pomegranates, is the know­ledge of the truth, and veritie of the scrip­tures, which is seasoned with the taste of the holy Ghost: and the pomegranates are the congregations of the faithfull, being red with the holy Ghost, and directed or gouerned by charitie, that is to say, liuing [Page 145] altogether by the rule and canon of Gods holy word, which is most pure and vndefi­led, which order must necessarily be kept of all those which meane to attaine vnto salua­tion. Their new wine, is the delectation and sweetnesse of Gods spirit, whereby they liue and walke, and haue their being, and the bridegrome may be very well said to drinke of this wine, because he is greatly delighted therewithall, for he may be said in some sort to drinke which findeth a thing which plea­seth him greatly. Last of all, she thirsteth to drinke of this new wine, that is to say, after the workes of faith, which Christ may bee very well said to drinke, whiles he seeth these things in the faithfull, and is well plea­sed with them. His left hand shall be vnder mine head, and his right hand shall embrace me. The carefull and louing spouse entreth into the house of her carnall mother, and bringeth Christ along with her, she bringeth him thither by sincere prayers, and prea­ching of the Gospell, and she followeth the matter so earnestly & faithfully withall, that she receiueth the truth of her mother, and so embraceth it. For hauing once receiued the truth of her mother, that is to say, of carnall men, from whom the Church issued and came, she becommeth both the mother and the daughter, that is to say, the [Page 146] Church and spouse of Christ, and last of all▪ being conuerted vnto the truth, she begin­neth to make experience and triall of the crosse, together with her daughter, because it is vnpossible indeede that the crosse shold not be a companion to the loue of the truth▪ Furthermore, she sendeth Christ vnto he [...] which is her true spouse by faith, I meane his peace: and among all the crosses, perils by sword, rebukes, tribulations, and all ma­ner of aduersities he sendeth vs by meanes of his peace, the comfortable ioyes of his holy spirit, whereby his left hand is comforted of the right, vnto a certaine hope of saluation▪ as these words are expounded aboue in the second Chapter, where the very same words are to be read.

The words of the Spouse vnto the young damsels.

I charge you, ô daughters of Ierusalem, that you stirre not vp, nor waken my loue vntill she please. I charge you. After that the spouse the Church, had made sufficient triall of the sharpnesse of Gods left hand, that is to say, had suffered crosses and tribulations enough, she was sustayned and vpholden by Christs right hand, wherewith he did most louingly embrace her in her greatest temptations, sit­ting euen in the shadow of death, and caused [Page 147] her to rest most quietly with the holy Ghost, and enioy that peace which passed all vnder­standing: resting thus securely on her bed of rest, the bridegrome (because hee would haue no body to trouble her) spreads the co­uerlet ouer her, and saith these wordes vnto the young virgins, I charge you stirre not vp, nor waken my loue ▪ and why then do you raise her vp & waken her, by sending her abroad amidst the troubles and turmoyles of the world, which are alwayes opposed against her, nay rather let her alone for a while, trou­ble her not, suffer her to repose and rest her selfe a while in the beds of the holy scrip­ture, and let my holy spirit abide and dwell in her.

The Text. The speech of the young virgins.
The Commentarie.

5 VVho is this that commeth vp out of the wildernesse leaning vpon her welbelo­ued, I raysed thee vp vnder an apple tree, there thy mother conceiued thee.

6 Set me as a seale on thy heart, and as a signet vpon thine arme: for loue is strong as death: iealousie is cruell as the graue: the coales thereof are fierie coales, [Page 148] and a vehement flame.

7 Much water can not quench loue, neither can the flouds drowne it: if a man should giue all the substance of his house for loue, they would greatly contemne it.

Wee see here, that the Church doth turne her carnall mother, and she being con­uerted or turned, is made one and the very selfe same with the Church, and together with her, cleaueth and inclineth vnto Gods word, notwithstanding any crosse or aduer­sitie whatsoeuer. And she that was before conuerted by her daughter, doth now seeke to procure the saluation of her mother, that is to say, of those from whom she came, for this is alwayes a generall note, that the Church of God doth seeke the saluation of the wicked, and their vngodly congregati­ons, from whence she came, and was deri­ued, because we were all of vs once sinners and offenders, and sprong vp out of the Church of the wicked. I say of the wicked, and not of the reprobate, because euery re­probate is a wicked person, but it followeth not, that euery wicked person is a reprobate: and albeit the elect were said to be of Sathans [Page 149] Church before they did beleeue and embrace Christ in their hearts, by a liuely faith: yet neuerthelesse in the eternal decree of almigh­tie God, they were alwayes reckoned to be of his Church. But the young virgins looke vpon the spouse, and see how quietly shee sleepeth amongst the dayly troubles of the Gospell, profiting daily more and more in the knowledge of the Gospell, and therefore breaking foorth into a kind of admiration, they aske who is this? as if they should haue said, it is a very strange thing, beyond all sense and reason, that she should perseuere a­mong so many euils as do assault her. And they say, that she came vp out of the wilder­nesse, because they sprong out of the drie and dead stocke of that abominable sect of the vnbeleeuers, as it were out of a plaine de­sert, whither went shee, whither did she as­cend or go? verily she mounted from terre­striall, carnall, and momentarie things, she went vp vnto the glorious hill of Christ, the true Sion.

The words of the Bridegrome vnto the Church after her conuersion.

Vnder an appletree, &c. The preaching of any man whatsoeuer, be his gifts of vtte­rance & perswasion, neuer so good, profiteth vs nothing, vnlesse Christ preach and teach [Page 150] vs inwardly by mouing of our harts to heare the word, and afterwards by confirming & strengthening the same in our minds, when we haue heard it. The Church (as we de­clared vnto you before) brought Christ vn­to her mother, and he conuerted her because Christ can not be truely and properly saide to be brought to a place, vnlesse he be en­tertained and lodged there. So then he be­ing once in friendly sort receiued and enter­tayned, vouchsafeth to teach and informe her himself, deliuering her the whole summe of the doctrine of the Gospell in few words, for he saith no more vnto her but this, vnder an apple tree, as if he should haue said, thou wast before in a miserable case, dead in sinne, but I haue raised thee vp, and that vnder an appletree: that is to say, vnder mee, for hee speaketh of himselfe, as if he meant a third person. We are then raised vp vnder Christ, the true appletree of life, if we do but be­leeue in him by faith, and wholly depend vpon him: who are there, that is to say, vn­der the appletree, borne by the Church, the mother of the faithfull, as vnder that other tree of delight in paradise, our grandmother Eue conceaued and brought vs foorth the sonnes of wickednesse and corruption. Set me as a seale on thine heart, and as a signet vpon thine arme: for loue is as strōg as death: iealousie [Page 151] is cruell as the graue: the coales thereof are fi­rie coales, and a vehement flame. Set me, &c. He may be rightly said to haue set Christ as a seale on his heart, and as a signet on his arme, which can subdue & keepe vnder the wicked affectiōs of the flesh, together with the works thereof: so that he frame him selfe wholy vn­to Gods glorie. For what thing else is the heart, but the affections of the heart? & what is meant by the arme, but the strength and force thereof, with all the works of our hands? And she yeeldeth a reason thereof, because as she saith, Loue is strong at death, to wit, the loue of Christ, because hee loued vnto the death, and this ielousie is cruell as the It. Hell. graue, that is most dreadfull and horrible towardes hypocrites. And the meaning of all these words is this: drawe neare vnto me with all thy heart, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength, and do all things in my name, be­cause such is the loue wherewith I loue thee, that I was content to die for thee. And as for those which say they are of me, that is, of my Church, and yet haue not any seale, that is to say, faith, but the lying signes of the flesh and the world, my iealousie & indignation shalbe kindled against them as hote as hel fire. And in that it is sayd, The coales thereof are fierie coales, and a vehement flame, we are to note the vehemencie and heate both of Christes loue, [Page 152] and also of his iealousie, because they cause such a fire as is the fire of Gods spirit, that is to say, a most liuely and mightie fire, because the fire of loue, that is to say, the holy Ghost maketh vs to be inflamed with a profitable and wholesome kinde of heate. And the iea­lousie of this fire, that is to say, sharpe reuēge and indignation consumeth all the wicked & vngodly men of the earth. Much water can not quench loue, neither can the flouds drowne it: if a man should giue all the substaunce of his house for loue, they would greatly contemne it. Much water, &c. Here in this place the con­stancie and stabilitie of the aforenamed Loue is described and deciphered vnto vs: & this is that loue wherwith Christ loued his Church. And verily such was the heate of this loue, that many violent streames of inconuenien­ces, troubles, reproches, tribulations, and all sorts of euils that could be deuised, could not quench it: for by the parable of a house built vppon a sure rocke, mentioned in the sixt Chapter of Saint Lukes Gospell, it is euident that flouds do sometimes signifie aduersitie. Now the loue which by the vertue of the same spirit abideth in the elect, is firme and strong vnto them, in as much as they are built vpon the most sure and strong rocke Christ. That which followeth afterwards, If a man should giue all, &c. doth declare to vs the exceeding [Page 153] great efficacy of this most sacred & holy loue in all those which are truely possessed there­with: for it is the nature of true and perfect loue which commeth from the holy Ghost, to cause a man to renounce all that euer hee hath, and to order him selfe wholly after Gods will and commaundement. When ri­ches are offered them, they regard or esteeme them not: for wee see by daily experience, that they are ready and willing to forsake all that euer they haue if occasion serue, & time so require, rather then they will seeme to de­nie the truth. And truly it is no great mar­uell neither: for where the loue of heauenly thinges is once accounted and esteemed of, there the possession and fruition of all earth­ly and transitorie things is vilified, negle­cted, and disesteemed.

The Text. The wordes of the Spouse vnto the young maides.
The Commentarie.

8 VVe haue a litle sister, and she hath no breasts: vvhat shall vvee do for our si­ster, vvhen she shalbe spoken for?

9 If she be a vvall, vve vvill build vpon her a siluer pallace, and if she be a [Page 154] doore, vve vvill keepe her in vvith boords of Cedar.

10 I am a vvall, and my breasts are as towers: then vvas I in his eyes as one that findeth peace.

11 Salomon had a vine in Baal-hamon: he gaue the vineyard vnto keepers: euery one bringeth forth the frute thereof, a thou­sand peeces of siluer.

This is the voice of the Primitiue and A­postolike Church, which grew out of the Sy­nagogue and people of the Iewes, reioycing for the grace of God which was spred abrode throughout all nations: and it is very fitly spoken of Salomon, to call the Church of the Gentiles sister vnto the synagogue of the Iewes, because God is father to them both, & Abraham also, by whose faith the Gentiles are proued to be lawfull sonnes. This is that yong Church, which must be chosen from a­mong the Gentiles, which is called little or small, because it had but small beginnings at the first, till afterwardes in processe of time, by litle and litle it grew vp in spirit & truth, She hath no breastes: because the doctrine of the Lawe and of the Prophets belonged not [Page 155] vnto the Gentiles, neither receiued she anie instruction of faith in God, and charitie to­wardes her neighbour of her selfe: for so she was not able to minister vnto her yong ones the spirituall foode of both the Testaments. What then shall we do vnto our sister? Aske the Patriarkes and Prophets, aske of Christ and his Apostles, and they wil shew you how the churches were to be taught, how they should be vnited & knit together of the Gentils, how they should grow vp, how they should bee nourished and fed, how they should be ioy­ned in mariage with so noble a bridegroome as the Church, how partakers of Gods fauor through Christ, how they should adorne and beautifie the spouse at such a day of solemni­tie, what they should do at that time, louing those things which they ought to loue, and which they knew to be loued of the bride­groome, how and in what termes they are to commend themselues vnto the bridegroome when they are brought vnto him. If she be a wall, we wil build vpon her a siluer pallace: and if she be a dore, we wil keepe her in with boordes of Cedar, which is thus expounded. If she be a wall: that is, if the Church of the faithful be as strong in faith as a wall, so that she cannot bee easily ouerthrowne, doubtlesse shee will stand fast vnto the authoritie of the Scrip­tures, and bee a spouse worthie of the holy [Page 156] Ghost, and of her husband Christ: but with­out faith it is not possible for her to please him, or to profite in any kind of exercise or studie whatsoeuer. Wherefore if she be faith­ful, we wil build vpon her a pallace of siluer, that is to say, the bright shining, precious, and e­ternall truth, by which we may be able with­out all other helpes, to ouerthrow and fiu­strate the wicked attempts of our enemies. Afterwards they deuise and cōmune among them selues how to shut the doore which is Christ, with boords of Cedar: hereby endeuo­ring as much as in them lieth, to make the workes of the Church continually from time to time more perfect and sincere: for this is meant onely by the going in and going out of the doore.

The Church of the conuerts vnto the Spouse.

I am a wall, and my breasts are as towers, then was I in his eyes as one that findeth peace. Shee replieth vnto them and faith, that she is a wall, that is to say, founded and grounded in the faith of Christ: for it is verie necessarie for e­uery Christian man or woman, to yeeld a reason of his faith to euery one that shall de­maund or aske it of him. Likewise she saith, My breasts are as towers, that is to say, cha­ritie and loue in entertaining and receiuing [Page 157] others. And this is meant hereby, being dire­cted and guided by my welbeloued husband Christ Iesus, I shall be able to teach others & strengthen them which are borne sonnes vn­to God by the Gospell: and since that time I haue receiued such fauour and kindnesse at my husband Christes hands, that I am in his eyes as one that findeth peace. And in these words she seemeth to ascribe all the glory vn­to God, for comforting and strengthening her, and giuing her such strong breasts.

The Church of the Conuerts.

Salomon had a vine in Baal-hamon: he gaue the vineyard vnto keepers: euery one bringeth forth the frute thereof, a thousand peeces of sil­uer. Here she yeldeth yet a more ample testi­monie of her faith, saying, in that, that is to say, the Catholike Church, which containeth so many nations. Salomō, that is to say, Christ our true Salomon and peaceable king, had a vine in the beginning, to wit, his vniuer­sall Church, for that is his vine, And he gaue the vineyard vnto keepers: as who would say, I know that it is needfull and requisite, that euery one to whom the charge and ministery of the word is committed, should be thrise­carefull to keepe, and not to wast and spoile: te defend, and not to destroy my vineyard. [Page 158] Euery particular man of the elect may be said to bring forth the frute thereof, a thousand pee­ces of siluer, that is, all that he hath, and him­selfe also. And the frutes of this vineyard are these, the grace of God, peace, righteousnesse, iustice, truth, & other particular signes of the holy Ghost and life euerlasting: So that this is the summe of a Christian mans confession, to confesse Christ to bee head of the vine, that is to say, of the Church of the conuerts.

The Text.
The Commentarie.
The wordes of the Bridegrome vnto the Church of the Conuerts.

12 But my vineyard which is mine, is before me: to thee ô Salomon, appertaineth a thousand peeces of siluer, & two hundred to them that keepe the frute thereof.

13 O thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken vnto thy voyce: cause me to heare it.

14 O my welbeloued flie avvay, and be like vnto the Roe, or to the young Hart vpon the mountaines of spices.

The bridegroome confirmeth her sayings [Page 159] to be true, affirming the Church to be before the Lord, because he is alwayes most readie to succour and helpe her in all her necessities. Wherefore he sendeth not wolues, but faith­ful ministers and Apostles to be her keepers, in such sort, that it is not possible that any one of them should perish.

The church of the conuerts vnto the Bridegrome.

To thee appertaineth a thousand peeces of sil­uer. Because the number of a thousand is the terme and bound of all other numbers, there­fore it is taken for all numbers, and then the words go thus, O Salomon; O my peaceable and louing Christ, to thee appertaineth a thousand, that is, the greatest and farther­most number: And two hundred to them that keepe the frute thereof, that is, not so much a [...] appertaineth vnto thee.

The wordes of the Bridegrome vnto the Bride.

O thou that dwellest in the gardens, the com­panions hearken vnto thy voyce: cause mee to beare it. Here Christ speaketh vnto all the Church in generall, shewing how acceptable and pleasant her voyce is to him which she so greatly longeth for to heare, because her voice [Page 160] is Gods word: therfore he speaketh after this maner vnto the spouse, O my louing spouse thou that dwellest in the gardens, that is to say, in the particular Churches, which are taken for gardens. Thy companions or friends; name­ly those which preach and teach the Gospell: Hearken vnto thy voyce; that is, are obedient vnto thee, because thou alone art able to teach them my words. Cause me to heare thy voyce: which is nothing diuerse (I am sure) from my words, or contrarie to the scripture: & ther­fore most acceptable and pleasant vnto me, because all other words which proceede and come from the flesh, they are not my words, they are adulterous and false words, and ther­fore most abhominable in mine eares.

The wordes of the Spouse vnto the Bridegroome.

O my welbeloued flie away, and be like vnto the Roe, or to the young Hart vpon the moun­taines of spices. This mountaine of spices is the Church, and therfore the lesser and parti­cular Churches are called mountaines of spi­ces. Christ desired to heare the Spouse speake: the Spouse answereth him by vttering the words of perfect charitie: by which words it appeareth how zealous she is of Christes glo­rie, and the knowledge of his truth. And fur­thermore [Page 161] the great desire wherewith she is inflamed towardes the saluation of all men. And this is briefly the sence and meaning of these wordes, O my welbeloued flie away: as a man when he flieth away in great hast; or as the Roes or young Harts doe skirre it along most nimbly vpon the tops of the hils: so do thou make hast, and tarrie not to come vnto the mountaines of spices, that is to say, to come both vnto the Church vniuersall, and also to be present & ayding vnto all the par­ticular Churches, least happily they may be constrained to receiue any other besides thee, and so by estraunging themselues from thee, perish eternally. Therfore gentle Christ come quickly, to helpe and succour, to direct and guide vs vnto the right way, which leadeth vs vnto life euerlasting.


Faults escaped.

In the Preface, for the title or inscription of the Song of songs, reade the title or inscription is the Song of songs.

Page 8. line 12. for man, reade men. p. 14. l. 6. for sunnie, reade sinne. p. 21. l. 23. for particu­larly, reade patiently, p. 23. l. 10. for houses reade horses. p. 39. l. 13. for vvith the svveete, reade vvith svveete. p. 40. l. 28. for gold, reade God, p. 51. l. 7. for the people, reade his people. p. 51. l. 30. for and maketh it, reade maketh it. p. 64.1. for to, reade and p. 79. l. 7. for of seeming workes that issue foorth from faith, reade of seeming good vvorks but not proceeding frō faith: the other, a chaine of good vvorkes indeed, that is to say, of vvorkes that issue foorth from faith. p. 108. l. 12. for then, reade that. p. 121. l. 11. for those elect vvhich is a companion, &c. reade of the elect vvhich continually haue their faiths ac­companied and follovved vvith good vvorkes.

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