December, 12. 1667.

IT is Ordered by the Lords of His Ma­jesties Privy Council, That none shall Re-print, or Import this Book, Entitu­led, Clavis Cantici, for the space of nintine Years, without Licence of the Printers hereof.

P. W.


BY IAMES DVRHAM, Late Minister of the Gospel in Glasgow.

Col. 3. 16.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdome, teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms and Hymns, and spiritual Songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Eph. 5. 2.
And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us—
1 Cor. 13. 13
And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.

EDINBVRGH, Printed by George Swintoun and Iames Glen, and are to be sold at their Shops in the Parliament-Yard, Anno DOM. 1668.


GOD being the immortal souls chief good, it must needs fol­low, that what unites the soul unto God, must be the souls chief Ornament and Grace: And such is Love, that Principium uniens, or principle uniting the soul unto God: Whence it is, that even in good, spiritual and elevated reason, the Apostle prefers Love among the souls three cardinal vir­tues, 1 Cor▪ 13. 13. And now abideth faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is Love. Indeed Faith, going out from the sinner to rest upon Jesus Christ the Justi­fier [Page] of the ungodly, And there is no sin­ner nor unclean thing in Heaven; and Hope, looking unto, and after, a Country that we are not yet possessors of; and Love, yea, love alone filling Heaven unto all eternity, it is certain that Love is the souls most adorning Ornament, its most Heavenly frame.

Now of all Books in Holy Scripture, it hath pleas'd the Holy Ghost to entitle the Song of Solomon, or His Book of Loves, thus, [...], the Song of Songs: All Songs, all Loves, all outgoings of the soul being invaluable to this Souls-Song, and Love, uniting Christ and the soul.

This Posthume work then, of the pre­cious Author Mr. Durham, is commen­dable to the Churches (if there be need of [...]y additional commendation beyond the naming of his Name to it) upon moe ac­counts [Page] than one: First, It's done upon the highest, sweetest, deepest subject Love, between the soul and it's chiefest good, even God in Christ. Secondly, It's done spiritually, yet plainly upon a most spi­ritual, yet Mysterious portion of Holy Scripture. And, Thirdly, the Churches of Christ are oblidged to God in this, That they have had from this bright Candle amongst the Lord's Candlesticks, a light shining upon, and discovering those two Mysterious Books of Scripture, Canticles and Revelation. Fourthly, If a word fitly spoken is as Apples of Gold in pictures of Silver, Prov. 25. 11. Sure then, it was highly commending of Gods goodnesse to the Author, That he was led on this work of Preaching, Lecturing, and Writing on this Song of Loves, Those sweet concords and begun Musick of Heaven between [Page] Christ and souls, and that in time of sad discords and very Immusical Jarrings in the Church; An argument of an excel­lent Soul-frame in a very evil time: A demonstration whereof, and of his hea­ling disposition, O, how apparent is it in that rare piece of his, upon Scandal!

I shall not trouble thee any further, save that I cordially wish the Lord may be pleased so to blesse thy perusal of this pre­sent Treatise, as it may tend not only to the present, but also to the everlasting wel­being of thy soul. And so I bid thee fare­well.

Clavis Cantici: OR, A KEY of the SONG, Useful for opening up thereof.

THis is a place of Scripture, the Exposition whereof, many in all Ages have sh [...]ned to adventure upon; and truly I have looked upon it of a long time, as not convenient to be treated upon before all Auditories, nor easie by many to be understood; especially because of the height of spiritual expressi­ons, and mysterious rapts of Divine Love, and the sublime and excellent expressions of the Bridegroom therein contained, which would require much livelinesse of frame, and acquaintance in expe­rience with the things here spoken of, and nearnesse in walking with God, as being necessary for finding out the mind and meaning o [...] the Spirit of God therein: Yet we are now brought by help of his Grace, to essay the Interpretation of it, upon these following con­siderations,

First, Because it is acknowledged by all, not only to be authentick Scripture, but an excellent Piece thereof; and therefore is to be [Page 2] made use of by the Church, and not to ly hid, nor to be laid aside, as if the meaning thereof were not to be searched into, because it seems dark and obscure.

2. Because the Subject and Matter of it is so Divine, carrying a­longst with it many various cases, both of particular Souls, as also, of the Church, both visible and invisible, with many excellent com­mendations of Christ the Bridegroom, which ought to be the Sub­ject of his Friends Meditations, and cannot but be profitable, if he blesse them; there being here Maps, almost for all conditions.

3. Because the style and composition is so Divine and excellent, carrying affections alongst with it, and captivating them in the very reading; so that few can read this Song, but they must fall in love with it, we would therefore see what is within it, if at least we may get a taste of that which doth so sweetly relish.

4. It seems the Holy Ghost, by putting it into such a mould, in­tended to commend it: and if it be true that all the Poetical pieces of Scripture, ought especially to be learned and taken notice of; so should this, it being so commended to us in that frame.

5. The strain and subject of it is so very spiritual, that it necessi­tats the Students thereof, to aime at some nearnesse with God; and ordinarily it leaves some stamp upon their affections, which is not the least cause, nor the smallest encouragement to me in this un­dertaking.

We shall not stand to prove the authority of it: It carries a Divine style in its bosome; nor is there need to inquire who was the Pen­man of it, it being clear that Solomon, who was furnished with wis­dom and understanding, as never a King before or since was, is ho­noured to be the Amanuensis of the Holy Ghost, in putting this Song upon record. Whether after, or before his backsliding, it is not much to us; though it be most probable that it was after, in the warmness of a spirit sensible of this so great a deliverance: For here we may, as it were, see him making use of that experience of the vanity of all things he had found, coming to the fear of God as the conclusion of the whole matter; whereof this Song of Love is not a little evidence, and which looks like his own saying, Eccles. 12. 13.

The means which are necessary for our more perspicuous hand­ling, and your more profitable hearing, of this profound Scripture will be,

[Page 3] First, Some acquaintance with the whole Word of God, but mainly the Book of the Psalms, and other Songs recorded in the Word; as also, with the Gospel, and such places as have most likeness to it.

2. Acquaintance with the cases of others, either by reading or mutual fellowship; but most of all it is requisite, that one have some experimental knowledge of the way of God towards his own heart: He who is so wise as to observe these things, even he shall understand this loving kindnesse of the Lord: Such kind of experi­ence is one of the best Commentaries upon this Text.

3. Watchfulnesse over our selves, keeping our heart with all keeping, and studying a tender frame of spirit, that we may have a Conscience alwayes void of offence towards God: Loosnesse all the Week will not be a frame for the Canticles. It is not the simple being of Grace, but the lively operation and exercise thereof, which prompts and disposes either to speak to purpose, or to hear of this with profit; He would grow in Grace who would grow in Know­ledge here: Neither have others ground to expect that this secret of the Lord shall be with them, or that they shall be of a quick un­derstanding, who fear him not: One may have Grace, and not a live­ly frame for this, except Grace be acting, and in exercise.

4. Much conversing with the Bridegroom, especially by Prayer, that he who causes the dull to understand Doctrine, may manifest himself, and open our eyes to behold these wondrous things, and that he may blesse us in the knowledge of his will in this we under­take, which so especially concerns Him and us; for, this Scripture may be dark to these who speaks on it, if this be not, and a sealed Book to you who hear it, if these things be wanting: Whereas, if these be in us and abound, we shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of this piece of Sacred Scripture.

Now, that we may have the more clear accesse to speak profi­tably of the matter of this Song, and that our way of opening and applying of it (which may possibly in some things be different from others) may be the better cleared, We shall, 1. premit some Proposi­tions concerning it. 2. Draw some Conclusions from these; both which we shall endeavour shortly to clear and confirm, as useful to be taken alongst in our proceeding.

The first Proposition then is this, This Song is a piece of Divine Scripture, and a most excellent part thereof (which we shall speak [Page 4] to more fully on the Title) and so of equal authority with other Scriptures (wherein holy Men spoke, as they were inspired by the Holy Ghost) and tendeth to the edifying of the Church, and making of the man of God perfect, even as they do. For,

First, This Song hath ever been received into the Canon, and ac­counted (as they speak) for Canonick, as the rest of the Scriptures were. It was never questioned by the Jews (as Mercer. praefat. ad Cant. cleareth) but was still received by them, and transmitted to the Gentile Churches, who received the Scriptures of the Old Te­stament from them, who had the Oracles of God in keeping: And that the same hath been universally received by Christians, may appear by the Records of the Councils, and Writings of the Fa­thers, where the Catalogue of the Books of the Holy Scripture is set down.

2. It carrieth the Authority of the Holy Ghost engraven upon it, as evidently as any piece of Scripture, not only as to its Matter, manner of Expression, Divine Style; but mostly in that Divine power and efficacy it hath on hearts and spirits (especially of the more dis­cerning, who best know Christs voice, as his Sheep) whereby it re­lishes so sweetly, and elevats them to such an holy ravishment, that it obtaineth the testimony from all, that there is something Divine in it, and more then can be in Humane Writings, even though they cannot particularly tell the meaning of it; That holding true here, which one said of a Book which was something obscure, That which I understand (said he) is excellent: therefore I judge, that which I understand not to be so also, though it exceed my reach. And that its Christ who speaketh, and that it is the Language of the Holy Ghost, and can be applyed to no other, is by a Divine conviction extorted from the Reader, and Hearer of it; so that confessedly and deser­vedly, it beareth this Title, A Song of Songs.

This Song must either be attributed to the Spirit, as the chief Author of it (though Solomon was the Penman) or we must say, it was not only Penned, but Indyted meerly by some Man, (Solomon, or whoever he be) led by his own spirit, or some other spirit, without the Spirit of God: But none of these last can be said. What other spirit can so speak of Christ and the Church? What other Song (even of the most holy Men) can be compared to this? Was it ever equalled? Or can it be equalled? And if it cannot be [Page 5] the fruit of the spirit of a meer man (though in the most holy frame) then it must be inspired by the Spirit, in wonderful wisdom, and a most Divine style, compacting the mysteries of Communion with God in Christ, in this short Song: Wherefore we say, it is just­ly called A Song of Songs, whereby it is preferred not only to all Humane Songs, but even to other Scriptural Songs, which were blasphemous to do, were it not of a Divine rise and authority.

There are two Objections, which sometimes have been started by some; but they will not be of weight to infringe this truth. The first is, that there is no Passage of this Song cited in the New Testa­ment: But citation of Scriptures in the New Testament doth not give authority to them. They are cited as having authority, and not to get it; And therefore there are many Scriptures in the Old Testament, which were never cited in the New: Although it may be said, there are many near resemblances (at least) in the New Te­stament, to diverse Passages in this Song; as the often styling the Church a Vineyard, Matth. 20. and comparing the Churches union with Christ to Marriage, Matth. 22. &c. That Christ standeth at the door and knocketh, Rev. 3. 20. taken as it were from Song 5. 2. The Virgins falling on sleep, Matth. 25. The efficacy of grace, called drawing, Iohn 6. 44. taken from Chap. 1. 4. &c. Christ in the Pa­rables called a King, or the King (which by way of eminency is ap­plyed to him, Psal. 45. 1, 2.) Neither is the second objection of greater weight, to wit, that no proper Name of God is to be sound in this Song: For, 1. Its so also in other Scriptures, as in the Book of Esther; The Scriptures authority doth not depend on naming the Name of God, but on having his warrand and authority. 2. This Song being Allegorical and Figurative, its not so meet nor consist­ent with its style, to have God named under proper names, as in other Scriptures: Yet, 3. There are titles and descriptions here given to an excellent Person, which can agree to none other, but Christ, the eternal Son of God; as the King, O thou whom my soul loveth, the chief of ten thousand, the Rose of Sharon, and the like, whereby his eminency is singularly set out above all others in the World.

In sum, there are none of the Characters, usually condescended on as necessary for evidencing the Authority of holy Scripture, wanting here; this Song being a Divine Subject, received into the Canon, [Page 6] bearing a Divine stamp, having much Majesty in it's style, agreeing with it self and other Scriptures fully; impartially speaking out the blots and adversities of the Bride, as well as her beauty and pro­sperity, and written by a Prophet and Penman of holy Writ, to wit, Solomon.

The 2. Proposition is, That this Song is not to be taken proper­ly, (and [...]) or literally, that is, as the words do at first sound; but it is to be taken and understood spiritually, figurative­ly and allegorically, as having some spiritual meaning contained un­der these figurative expressions, made use of throughout this Song: My meaning is, that when it speaketh of a Marriage, Spouse, Sister, Beloved, Daughters of Ierusalem, &c. these expressions are not to be understood properly of such, but as holding forth something of a spiritual nature under these.

I grant it hath a literal meaning, but I say, that literal meaning is not immediat, and that which first looketh out, as in Historical Scri­ptures, or others which are not figurative, but that which is spiri­tually and especially meant by these Allegorick and Figurative speeches, is the Literal meaning of this Song: So that it's Literal sense is mediat, representing the meaning, not immediatly from the Words, but mediatly from the Scope, that is, the intention of the Spirit, which is couched under the Figures and Allegories, here made use of: For, a Literal sense (as it is defined by Rivet out of the School-men) is that which floweth from such a place of Scri­pture as intended by the Spirit in the words, whether properly or figuratively used, and is to be gathered from the whole complex expression together, applyed thereunto, as in the Exposition of Parables, Allegories and Figurative Scriptures is clear; And it were as improper and absurd to deny a Figurative Sense (though Literal) to these, as it were to fix Figurative Expositions upon plain Scriptures, which are properly to be taken.

For there is a twofold Literal sense of Scripture. 1. Proper and immediat, as where its said, Solomon married Pharaohs Daughter. The second is figurative and mediate, as when it is said, Matth. 22. 2. A certain King made a Marriage to his Son, &c. both have a literal meaning. The first immediat, fulfilled in Solomon: The second is mediat, setting out God's calling Jews and Gentiles, unto fellow­ship with his Son: and so that Parable is to be understood in a [Page 7] spiritual sense. Now we say, this Song (if we would take up it's true sense and meaning) is not to be understood the first way, pro­perly and immediatly, but the second way, figuratively and mediatly, as holding forth some spiritual thing under borrowed expressions, which will further appear from these things,

First, There can be no edification in setting out Humane Love (a­mongst parties properly understood) so largely and lively; and yet edification must be the end of this Song, being a part of Scripture; it must have therefore an higher meaning then the words at first will seem to bear.

2. There can be no parties mentioned, beside Christ and his Bride, to whom this Song can agree; nor can any proper meaning thereof be assigned, which can make it applicable to these parties: and therefore it cannot be understood properly, but figuratively, and that not of any other, but of Christ and Believers: To Solomon it cannot agree in its application, nor to his Queen, yea, to no man, if it be taken in a proper sense: For, 1. These commendations given to the Bridegroom, Chap. 5. to the Bride, Chap. 4. 6, 7. If properly understood, would be monstruous, blasphemous, and ridi­culous; such as to have teeth like a flock of sheep, an head like Car­mel, &c. and so in many other things. 2. Some things are attri­buted to this Solomon, who is the subject of this Song, that were not within Solomon's reach, as that, his presence at the Table, (Chap. 1. 12.) maketh her Spicknard to smell, which influence cannot proceed from one man more then another, and Chap. 3. v. 11. where it is said, He made a Chariot, and paved it with Love, which is no material thing, and so could be no Pavement in Solomons Chariot. 3. That Solomon being the Penman of this Song, yet speaketh of Solomon in the second Person, Thou, O Solomon, Chap. 8. 12. makes it appear that some other was designed then himself; and many such like ex­pressions that fill up the matter of this Song, (such as Spices, Gar­dens, &c.) cannot be understood properly of these very things themselves, but of some other thing vailed under them: And so also, when she is called terrible as an army with Banners, it cannot be understood of Solomon's Queen, and applying it to the Church, we cannot understand it of any carnal terror, which the external as­pect of the Church doth beget in beholders.

3. The style and expressions will bear out more then any Humane [Page 8] Love, or any Humane Object, upon which men set their love: We are sure, no such love would be proponed to Believers as a warran­ted pattern for their imitation, as if it would be commendable in them to be so much ravished and taken up, even with the most lovely creature.

4. Many things here are inconsistent with Humane Love, and that modesty that is required in it (as the Hebrews themselves, apud Mercer. observe) as to propone him to others, to excite them to Love him, others undertaking to follow after him, her speaking to him in her sleep, Chap. 5. 2. running in the night through the Streets, and slighting him at the Door; which by no means can admit a proper, literal, immediat sense, but must needs aim at something figurative. Beside, what reason can there be to plead a proper sense here, more then in other figurative Scriptures of the same sort, as of these that speak of the Souls union with Christ, under the simili­tude of a Marriage, and particularly that of Psal. 45. which is (as it were) a compend of this Song, and is looked upon by all as figu­rative?

If it be enquired in what sense we call this Song figurative, whe­ther as Typical or Allegorical? The answering and clearing of this Question will further us in the Interpretation of this excellent Scripture. We shall therefore shew, 1. How Allegorical properly so called, differeth from Typical. And 2. Why we call this Song Alle­gorical, and not Typical.

Allegorical Scriptures, or Allegories (we take Allegory here as Divines do, who take it not as Grammarians or Rhetoricians, for a continued discourse of many figures together) properly and strictly taken (for sometimes Allegory may be taken largely, and so may comprehend whatever is figurative, whether Typical, Tropologi­cal, Analogical, &c. As the Apostle taketh it, Gal. 4. speaking of Abraham's two Sons, which is yet properly a Type) differeth from Types, or Typical Scriptures, thus,

First, Types suppose still the verity of some History, as Ionas cast­ing in the Sea, and being in the Fishes belly three dayes and three nights, when it is applyed to Christ in the New Testament, it sup­poseth such a thing once to have been: Allegories again, have no such necessary supposition, but are as Parables proponed for some mystical end. Thus, while it [...] said, Mat. 22. 2. A certain King made [Page 9] a Marriage, planted a Vineyard, &c. That place supposeth it not necessary as to the being of the Allegory, that ever such a thing was, it may be an Allegory without that; but a Type can­not be without reality in the thing or fact, which is made a Type.

2. Types look only to matters of Fact; and compare one Fact with another (as Christ's lying in the Grave for such a time, to that of Ionas, who did ly so long in the Whale's belly) but Allegories take in Words, Sentences, Doctrines both of Faith and manners, as in the former Examples is clear.

3. Types compare Persons, and Facts under the Old Testament, with Persons, and Facts under the New, and is made up of some­thing that is present, prefiguring another to come: Allegories look especially to matters in hand, and intend the putting of some hid spiritual sense upon words, which at first they seem not to bear; whether the Allegorie be only in the Old Testa­ment, or only in the New, or in both, it looks to the sense, and meaning, being so considered in it's self, as the words may best serve the scope, and teach or manifest the thing the Spirit intends, without any comparison betwixt this, and that of the Old Testa­ment and New: Yea, an Allegory may be in precepts, as Muzle not the mouth of the Oxe, and cut off the right hand, &c. which have an Allegorick sense in them.

4. Types are only Historical as such, and the truth of Fact agreeing in the Anti-type, make them up, it being clear in Scripture that such things are Types; for we must not forge Types without Scripture-warrant: But Allegories are principal­ly Doctrinal, and in their scope intend not to clear, or compare Facts, but to hold forth and explain Doctrines, or by such similitudes to make them the better understood, and to move, and affect the more, or the more forcibly to convince, as Nathan made use of a Parable, when he was about to convince David, 2 Sam. 12. 1, 2, &c.

5. Types in the Old Testament respect only some things, per­sons and events; as Christ, the Gospel, and it's Spreading, &c. and cannot be extended beyond these: But Allegories take in every thing, that belong either to Doctrine, or Instruction in Faith, or to practise for ordering ones life.

[Page 10] Hence we may see, that Allegories are much more extensive, and comprehensive in their meaning and application, then Types (which cannot be extended further then some one thing) and so are much more Doctrinal, and concern both the faith and man­ners of Gods People much more, and may for that, more warran­tably be applyed, and made use of for these ends.

2. We say, that this Song is not Typical, as being made up of two Histories, to wit, Solomon's Marriage, and Christ's, nor doth it any way intend the comparing of these two together in the events, as to their facts or deeds: But it is Allegorick, not re­specting Solomon, or his Marriage, but aiming to set out spiritual Mysteries in figurative expressions, in such a manner as may most effectuat that end, for inlightning the judgement, and moving of the affections, without any respect to that Story, or Fact of So­lomon's: For,

First, The strain and series of it, is clearly Allegorick, as the reading and considering of it will clear. 2. There can be no Hi­story to which it can relate, unto which the things spoken in this Song can be properly applyed, as is said. 3. Solomon's Marriage was at least twenty years before this Song was written; See on Song 7. concerning the Tower of Lebanon, and compare it with 1 King. 7. 1, 2. and Chap. 6. ult. Therefore it cannot be thought so much as to be Penned on that occasion, as an Epithalamium which was to be sung that night on which he was Married, (and although occasion of penning of it, were taken from that, yet would it not prove it Typical, and to respect that as it's Type.) And 4. What more is this Allegory of a Marriage, to be accoun­ted Typical, then other places of Scripture, where this same man­ner of expression is used? 5. If it be partly Typical, how is this Type to be made up? for Christs love unto, and Marriage with, his Church, is not only set out here as peculiar to the New Testa­ment, but is applicable to Believers under the Old: There can therefore be here no comparing of Facts of the Old Testament, with any thing answering to them in the New. If it be said, So­lomon's Marriage Typified Christ's Marrying of the Gentiles. I answer, beside that there is no Scripture for this conjecture (and it's hard to coyn Types without Scripture authority, otherwise we might make Solomon a Type in his many Wives, possibly, and in [Page 11] many other such things; also that of his marrying Pharaoh's Daughter was against a Law as well as this) it cannot be said that this Song setteth out only Christ's love to the Gentiles; or the believing Gentiles, their carriage and love to him: for, was it not fulfilled (in that which they would make it's Anti-type) be­fore Christ came in the flesh, in the believing Jews? yea, before ever that Marriage was: and therefore, there can be no typical respect had to that Marriage here. Beside, it would much dar­ken the Spiritualnesse and Divinnesse of this Song, to make it in such a way typical, as having any proper fulfilling or meaning, that were possibly verified in the deed of any man. We con­clude then, that this Song is simply Allegorick.

We come now to a third Proposition, which is this: The Di­vine Mystery intended, and set forth here, is the mutual Love, and spiritual Union, and Communion that is betwixt Christ and his Church, and their mutual carriage towards one another, in several conditions and dispensations. The comprehensive sum of this, is contained in this Song, and compended by the Spirit, for the comfort and edification of the Church, under these figura­tive expressions: This, we say, is the scope and subject-matter of this Song: For,

First, If the intent of this Song be to set out the spiritual carriage, amongst spiritual Parties, and the spiritual love which each hath to other, then it must set out Christ's love to his Church, and Her's to Him: The reason is, because there are no other spiritual Marriage-parties known, but Christ and His Church; There is no other spiritual Marriage, or spiritual Mar­riage-love but this: But this Song in it's scope is to set out a spiritual Marriage, of spiritual Parties, and their spiritual Love, Therefore it must set out this.

2. The scope of this Song must be agreeable to the matter contained in it. Now the matter contained in it, can agree to no other parties, and be approven in no other love; Therefore these descriptions given to the Bridegroom, can be given to no other but Christ; and these given to the Bride by him, can be given to no other but the Church, and must speak out no lesse love, then that love of Christ's, the expressions being far beyond [Page 12] the love of all others: This will more fully appear in the open­ing up of the Song:

3. What is the scope of these Allegories, in other Scriptures, as that of Psal. 45. that of planting a Vineyard, Matth. 21. that of Marriage, Matth. 22. (which none can deny) is meant of espousing spiritually. (See this same Allegory of Marriage, Ier. 3. Hos. 2. 3. Ezek. 16. Matth. 22. Luk. 14. 2 Cor. 11. 1. Rev. 19. 8.) that must be the scope of this also. For, 1. There can­not be two spiritual Marriages, to which these Scriptures and this can be applyed. 2. Scripture must agree with Scripture, and one more obscure place, must be expounded by others more clear; and therefore seing this scope is clear in other Scriptures of this nature, we may conclude it's the scope here also: that Psal. 45. doth agree with the expressions and strain of this Song, is clear, by comparing them; and that it speaketh of that spiri­tual Marriage betwixt Christ and his Church, is clear by the Ci­tations drawn from it, and applyed to that [...]nd by the Apostle, Heb. 1. 8, 9.

4. Either this must be it's scope, or it must have some other scope, or none at all. To say none at all, is blasphemous: If it be said an other scope then this, then it must either be such a scope as agreeth with these other Scriptures, or which differeth from them; But not such as differeth from them, that cannot be said, therefore it must be the same: And so it setteth out Christ's way with his Church, and her's with Him, drawing them, as it were, in a Mapp together.

Object. If any would argue, that it might better be Propheti­cally applyed, as foretelling events in the Church, as some do: For answer, We suppose, it would be hard to make that out to be the scope and intention of the Spirit.

2. It would be more hard to get help from other Scriptures, in the application of it to such events, and such times; and so this would leave it wholly to uncertainty, or mens pleasure, as their invention, and groundless conjectures, would lead them to apply it: (as we fear some good men have taken too much li­berty, without any ground but meer conjectures, to wrest the scope of this Song) and beside, such an Interpretation would ex­ceedingly spoil Believers of that instruction and consolation, which [Page 13] the true scope giveth them; for then they were not to apply it to themselves, or to the Church, but at such a Time, and in such an Age: because, if it shall be once fulfilled in others, or, if it be not applicable to them, because they live not in such a time, it will certainly marr their confidence in making any comfortable application of it to themselves.

Beside, these considerations may clear, that, in it's scope, it can­not be properly Prophetical of such, and such times, and events, but Dogmatical and Practical, for believers use, in all times and events.

First, If the scope and matter of this Song will agree to any one time, or if all of it will agree to Believers at any time, then it cannot be Prophetical; for, Prophecy supponeth a diversity of time, for diverse events, and cannot be said at any one time alike to be fulfilled; but all the subject of this Song may be fulfilled in one Believer or other, at any one time; there are still some in­joying Christ, some deserted, some praying, some suffering, &c. and so of what ever part of it we can think upon, it may be said of one time, as well as of another, that it hath its accomplish­ment in one Believer or other; and therefore, it is not properly Prophetical.

2. If all of it may now be applyed to Believers, yea, and at any time before the end of the world, may be as well applyed as be­ing then fulfilled, as well as when it was written, then it is not Prophetical, seing Prophesies have their▪ particular accomplish­ments; but all parts of this Song, even the first parts, may now be applyed, and will still agree to Believers, as properly as it did in Solomon's time. Therefore, &c.

3. If all the parts of it were in the same way applicable to, and true, in the cases of Believers, then when it was written, even as now, or will be before the end, then it was not intended to be Prophetical, but Doctrinal, Narrative, and Consolatory: but the first is true; was there any Believer in Solomon's dayes, but these Commendations, Properties, Promises, Practices, &c. did agree to them, as they do to us? and was not Christs way such to them also, as it is to us?

4. Consider further, if the scope of it be to set out Christ's way to his Church, and her's to Him, as is said; and if according to this scope, it should be made use of by a Believer in any time, [Page 14] then it is not Prophetical, but Doctrinal, as hath been said: But the former is true, as is cleared. Therefore, &c.

5. If it be applicable to Believers, according to their several cases, and if it be the case agreeing with any part of this Song, which grounds the application of it to any party, and not the time when that case is not; then it is not Prophetical, deducing cases by times, but Doctrinal, &c. applying directions, warnings, and comforts to Believers cases, in whatsoever time.

6. The matter of it is the ordinary cases which are incident to Believers in all times, and what may make it look Prophetical-like, may be considered in the Exposition.

7. If it's scope be one and the same with other Allegories of this kind, then it is not Prophetical, but Doctrinal: But the former is true: Therefore, &c. The truth of both which, may appear by what is said, and will further appear in that which followeth.

We leave this then, and come again to the Proposition, to wit, that the great scope of this Song is to set out that mutual Love and Carriage, that is between Christ and his Church: That this Proposition, which is a main one, may be the more clear, we shall take it in five distinct Branches.

First, It holdeth out (we say) the Churches case, and Christ's care of her, in all her several Conditions, and under all Dispensa­tions; Such as, 1. Her sinful infirmities, and failings in duties, Chap. 1. 6. Chap. 5. 2, and 3. and also, under livelinesse in duties, Chap. 1. 2, 3, 4. and 5. 5. and almost throughout. (2.) Under Crosses, Chap. 1. 6. as being a Lillie among Thorns, and hated of the World, Chap. 2. 2. and also in Prosperity, wherein she is commended as terrible, Chap. 6. 10. (3.) As deserted and sick of Love, Chap. 3. 1, 2. and 5. 4, 5. and again, as injoying her Be­loved, Chap. 1. 4. Chap. 3. 4. 5. (4.) As under faithful Shep­herds, and lively Ordinances, Chap. 1. 4. Chap. 3. 4, 5. and also, as un­der carnal Watch-men, Chap. 5. 7. And in all these, her various con­ditions, in all Ages, are painted forth, before Christs Incarnation, as well as now, without respect to any particular Time or Age; for, ceremonial things are not here meddled with, but what was spiritual: Beside, the Church then and now is one, as in the next consideration will be cleared. (5.) As in private, dealing [Page 15] with Christ, and longing after him, and praying for him, Chap. 4. 16. Chap. 8. 1. &c. almost throughout, and also what she was in publick duties, going to the Watch-men, Chap. 5. 7. and Chap. 3, 3. and what she was in fellowship with others, Chap. 5. 8, 9. Chap. 6. 1, 2. (6.) It sets out Believers as more strong, and fur­nished with a greater measure of Grace, and Knowledge, and also, as more weak in Gifts, and Grace. (7.) And Lastly, It holds forth the same Believers, as more and lesse lively in their conditions.

This Book in it's matter, is a comprehensive sum of all these par­ticulars formed in a Song, put together, and drawn as on a Broad, for the Believers edification; to shew, 1. What should be, and will be their carriage when it is right with them, as to their frame. 2. What are their infirmities, and what they use often to fall into, even they who are Believers, that they may be the more watchful. 3. To shew what they may meet with, that they may make for sufferings, and not stumble at them when they come. 4. That the care and love of Christ to them, in reference to all these, may appear, that they may know upon what grounds to comfort themselves in every condition, and may have this Song, as a little Magazine, for direction, and consolation in every condition.

Therefore this Song is not to be astricted to any particular Case or Time, and is (even by Bernard, Serm. 1.) therefore observed to differ from other spiritual Songs, in three things: 1. That it's penned upon no particular occasion, as others are, such as that of Moses, Exod. 15. and Iudges 5. &c. 2. That it is com­posed by way of conference, between several Parties. 3. That there are in this conference, moe Parties than two; Christ, the Bride, Watchmen, Daughters of Ierusalem, &c. all which do shew, it's extensivenesse, and comprehensivenesse, in respect of it's Subject and Use.

2. This Song holdeth forth the Churches, or Brides Conditi­ons, under all her several considerations: We may consider the Bride, or Church, four wayes, all of which we will find here. 1. As visible, and visibly professing Christ, and worshipping him in Or­dinances: in this respect there are Watch-men spoken of, a Mo­thers house, Gardens of many Believers together, and a Vine­yard let out to Keepers, and a Mother having Children, (cal­led [Page 16] also Daughters of Ierusalem) who are professing Believers, and such like, which agree only to the Church, as visible.

2. Consider her as invisible, having true Faith in Christ, spiritual Union with him, Love to him, and real exercise of Graces, &c. Thus Christ is her's, and she his; she is drawn by him, and brought into the Chambers of lively Sense and Communion: thus she is neer him, or absent from him, and such like, which only agree to the Church or Saints, as Members of the invisible Church, having real (and not only professed) Union with Christ; and thus she is distinguished from the Mothers Children, which are outward Professors of the visible Church; and thus the most of the Commendations she gets throughout this Song, agree unto her as invisible: Neither can it be thought strange that both these considerations take place in one and the same Song: For, 1. That distinction of the Church in visible and invisible, is not a distribution of a whole into distinct parts, as, suppose one would divide a heap of Chaff and Corn, into Corn and Chaff; But this is a distinct uptaking of the same whole, (to wit, the Church) under two distinct Considerations; as, suppose one would consider the foresaid heap, as it is a heap, comprehending both Corn and Chaff, or, as it is only comprehensive of Corn; so the Church thus distinguished, is but one, considered in whole, as having both renewed and unrenewed in it, and as having renewed only; Yet so, as the renewed are a part of the whole, under one con­sideration, to wit, as they are visible Professors; and also, are the invisible Church, being distinctly considered, as they have more than a visible Profession: Therefore, the sibnesse being so great and neer, it is no marvel they be frequently conjoyned in this Song, so as they must be distinguished in respect of these di­stinct considerations, seing the visible Church in it's considera­tion as such, comprehends the invisible militant Church under it, but not contrarily. 2. It's ordinary upon this ground, thus to conjoyn them in other Scriptures, as when an Epistle is written to a Church, somethings are said of it, and to it, as visible, some­things again are peculiarly applicable to Believers, who are Members of the invisible Church in it; as by looking to these Epistles, Rev. 2. and 3. is clear, all are comprehended in every Epistle, yet is the matter diversly to be applyed, and these who [Page 17] have ears to hear (that is, are real Members of the invisible Church also) are particularly spoken unto, although indefinitly: And why then may not the Church in both these considerations, be spoken of here in this Song?

3. If we consider either the visible or invisible Church, as whole or Catholick, something is spoken to her under that Con­sideration, namely as Catholick; so she is said to be one, Chap. 6. 9. made up of many, the Mother having many Daughters, a Vine­yard, intrusted to all the Keepers, having some Children belov­ed, others hated, &c. which must be applicable to her, as so considered.

4. If we look to particular Members, either, 1. As Professors of the visible Church, such as the Daughters of Ierusalem, seek­ing the Beloved with the Bride, and one of them are distinct from another, and from the Watch-men; such are the threescore Queens, and fourscore Concubins, as distinct from the Church, con­sidered as one. Or, 2. As Members in particular of the invisible Church; so the Bride is distinguished from other Professors, and Believers; she speaks to them and they to her, Chap. 2. So is one Queen and Concubine, distinguished from another; Thus also is the Church considered in general, and in individuals, in their carriage; yea, it serveth much to the scope of edifying Believers, that the Church in these respects, be thus distinctly considered and lookt upon: Neither will this be thought strange, if we consider, that the Church however understood, and the particular and individual members thereof (especially of this in­visible Church) are of an homogeneous nature; so that what may be said of the whole, may be said of all it's parts, and what may be predicated concerning the whole essentially, may be pre­dicated of every part, &c. As when we consider the whole Ele­ment of water, it's water; so when we consider a drop, it's also water: & what essential properties do agree to the whole, as such, agrees to every drop of the whole; so is it in the Church; All Saints, Members of the invisible Church, have the same Spirit, Faith, and Priviledges, the same Covenant, Husband, &c. and what thus essentially agrees to one, agrees to all, and what may be said of all, may be said of one: I say in Essentials, because, though there may be many circumstantial, and gradual differences, [Page 18] as one Believer may be stronger than another, &c. yet that will not mar this onenesse, and agreement in Essentials.

Yet, 3. We say, every thing in this Song, is not to be applyed to all within the Church, or to the Church, under every consideration, in the same manner; what agreeth to the Church as visible, will not, at least, in the same manner agree to her, considered as invisible, & contra; nor will every thing which agrees to a Believer in one case, agree to all; nay, not to that same Believer alwayes. There­fore, there is great need of warrinesse in application, that the word may be rightly divided, and the diverse cases of the Church and particular Believers would be rightly taken up for that end: Every place is not to be applyed to all (though sometimes a place may be taken up under diverse considerations, as from o­ther Scriptures, and the formerly cited Epistles, is clear) but what agrees to every one, would be so applyed, and sol [...]ly upon that consideration, and under that notion, as it agrees unto such a person, or such a case.

For helping us in this distinct application, it is necessary that we lay down these following Rules:

First, We must weigh the particular scope of such a place of Scripture, if it speak something concerning a Believer in particu­lar, or the Church in general; if it set out some outward, or some inward thing concerning them.

2. We would consider the matter spoken to, and see how it agreeth, whether to the Church under one consideration, or un­der another; and if the matter predicated of her, or attributed to her, will agree to her as visible, or as invisible only, for so it is to be applyed; if to the whole Church, or if also to all it's Members, and every particular Believer; for so it is to be un­derstood.

3. We would see, how the same matter is applyed in other Songs and Scriptures, and it will be safe for us to follow the same way of application here.

4. We would consider, what the particular circumstances, that may be observed in such a particular Scripture, will help in finding out the Sense; as who speaketh, to whom, in what frame, on what occasion, &c.

Yet fourthly, we say, that this Song doth most generally a­gree, [Page 19] and is especially applicable to the cases of particular Be­lievers: Because,

First, The scope is not so much to speak to all collectively, as Distributively to hold forth the several cases, that all of them, at all times are subject unto; for although every place do not point out the case of the Church in general, or her duty, yet we conceive it is still in every part, pertinent to some one Believer, or other: Such places must therefore be understood distribu­tively.

2. The nature and strain of the most of those things mentioned in this Song, generally will agree best (if not only) to particu­lar Believers; As to love Christ, to seek him, to be commen­ded so by him, to be out of one case into another, pursuing af­ter him from one duty to another: which indeed shews the way of the Church in general, but so as considered in the exercises of her individual Members, and in the intercourse of Communion, which useth to be betwixt Christ and them, and so agreeth to the church, only in respect of particular Believers.

3. There is a plurality of Parties speaking, differenced not on­ly from carnal Professors, but from one another, who are com­mending the Bride, and so loving her and Christ also; which says that the several parts of this Song must especially be distributively considered of Believers severally.

4. There is no time, we can conceive all Believers to be in the like case, so that one case or word will not sute them all; as to be sick of love, to have his right hand under her head, &c. Something then must agree to one, something to another, and both also at different times to the same person: And therefore we must con­sider this Song, as speaking distributively the Churches conditi­on, to be applyed according to the several cases of the Saints, and according to their several conditions; something as spoken to one, and something to another.

5. The putting of these exercises in a Song, as it were to be learned and sung by particular Believers (as a little compend, both of what concerns their Faith and Manners) was certainly for helping their Memories, and furthering their Consolation; which would be much impaired, if in singing of it, particular Believers might not suck their own consolation in particular from Christs [Page 20] words unto them: And what can hinder, but a Believer may say, I am his, and he is mine, and that th [...]se and other places applicable to them, may not be so applyed, seing their comfort and edifica­tion is the scope of this Song?

5. The last Branch of the Proposition is, That this Song hol­deth forth the same love, and care in Christ to his Church, and the same exercises and duties of Believers, under figurative terms, which are plainly, and properly holden forth in other Scriptures, which are not figurative, such as are in the Gospel, in the Psalms, &c. There are no new, strange, or uncouth cases here; but Believers ordinary cases, there is no uncouth way of Christs here, but what he useth to his Church: It's often the folly and vanity of men's minds, that when expressions of Scripture look somewhat strange like, they suppose still some uncouth, and strange thing to be there, and therefore loaths that which is plain. It's true, the cases mentioned here, are most spiritual, having Love of­ten drawn in it's most bright & lively collours, yet, for substance, the exercises are the same, which in other plain Scriptures are otherwayes expressed; for, it must expresse the same cases, or, we must say, it expresseth something different from them, not incident ordinarily to Believers, and not mentioned any where in Scripture, which to affirm, were both dangerous and absurd: Beside, Christ being still the same in his way with Believers, and they having still the same spirit, and being still under the same covenant, &c. we can conceive no other thing here, but what he hath expressed concerning himself and them, other-where in Scripture. And certainly, the scope of this Song, is rather in a sweet way, to compact together the ordinary cases of Believers, and their consolations, for their edification, than to pitch on strange things, or make new cases, which would not be so profit­able unto them, and would wrong, and enervat the great intent of this Song.

We proceed now, and shall draw some Conclusions from these Propositions.

First Conclusion. We may then warantably read, and expone this Song; it being Scripture, it must be edifying, and ought to be made use of. It's true, this, and some other Scriptures, were [Page 21] of old restrained by the Jews, from the younger sort, that none should read them, but these who were at thirty years of age: Origen marks four pieces of holy Scripture, thus restrained by them: The history of the Creation, Genes. 1. The description of Gods appearance, Ezek. 1. and of his Temple, Chap. 40. &c. And especially this Song, because, the matters in them were so sublime, that there needed more than ordinary humility and ex­perience in those who should meddle with them: This indeed, saith men ought to be sober, and with holy fear search these Scrip­tures: but that restraint (if peremptorie) was unwarrantable, seing the Lord hath put none such on his people, as to any porti­on of sacred Scripture. And though this Song be obscurer than many other Scriptures; yet, generally the reading of it, and hearing of it, will affect; and as to the composing of the spirit, edifie as much, as other more plain Scriptures: which sayeth, it's to be inquired into, that the meaning being found out, the profit reaped thereby, may be the more distinct and apparent.

2. Conclus. We gather from what hath been said, that seing this Song may be expounded, Then Doctrines for grounding our saith, and directing our Practice, may warrantably be drawn from it, for the edification of God's people, seing it is Scripture; and although it be Allegorick, it is in a special way useful for edifica­tion, and may as bread be broken to the children: It's not only consistent with the nature of plain Scriptures, but also of Allego­ries, that they be thus extended in their use. We shall clear this Conclusion, in these three,

First, There may be Doctrines drawn from this Song, in refe­rence to all cases that are incident to a Believer. As, 1. In refe­rence to the case of the Church, in all it's considerations, visible, or invisible, Catholick or particular. And, 2. In reference to the more private and personal cases of Believers, Doctrines in­structing them both in faith and manners, &c. For the Doctrines must rise as extensively, as there scope and matter; and these are of a great reach and extent, as formerly hath been said: Such Doctrines then, when handled in this Song, would not be thought strange, nor unsuitable to it; but the broader they arise, the Spi­rit's wisdom and contrivance in this Song, will be the more won­derful and evident.

[Page 22] 2. These Doctrines, must not be taken from the words proper­ly, but Allegorically understood, according to the intention of the Spirit in them, even as from Parables, and other clearer Al­legories and figures in Scripture, it useth to be done.

3. These Doctrines so drawn, when rightly concluded from the Text and scope, are solide and sure, useful for faith and manners, as Doctrines drawn from other places of Scripture are: For, 1. It's certain, that many Scriptures are Allegorically set down, and is their authority therefore any way lesse than that of other Scriptures? And if their authority be such in themselves, as is the authority of other Scriptures; Then their Exposition and Doctrines drawn from them, must be solide and useful, as these that are drawn from other Scriptures: Or, 2. We must say, there is no use of such Scriptures, which were blasphemous; and if they be useful, there may be solide uses drawn from them, as from other Scriptures. 3. Our Lord useth Parables and Allego­ries often in the Gospel, and that in things relating both to faith and manners; which sayeth, the use of them is solide and safe, when they are rightly understood and applyed.

All the difficulty is in the right understanding of them, and be­cause Allegories are frequent in Scripture, and this Song is wholly made up of Allegories: Therefore, both for removing preju­dices, and facilitating our way, I shall speak something to these three. 1. We shall shew what an Allegorick Exposition, or ra­ther the Exposition of an Allegory is. 2. When it is necessary to understand a Scripture Allegorically. 3. How to walk in at­taining the solide meaning or how to know if such a thing be the meaning, of an Allegorick Scripture.

For the First, There is a great difference betwixt an Allegorick Exposition of Scripture, and an Exposition of Allegorick Scrip­ture: The first is that, which many Fathers, and School-men fail in, that is, when they Allegorize plain Scriptures and Histo­ries, seeking to draw out some secret meaning, other than ap­peareth in the words; and so will fasten many sense upon one Scripture. This is indeed unsafe, and is justly reprovable; for, this maketh clear Scripture dark, and obtrudeth meanings on the words, never intended by the Spirit; As, suppose one speak­ing of Goliah's combat and David's, should passe by the letter, [Page 23] and expound Goliah to be the Flesh, or the Devil, and David to be the Spirit, or Christ: Such Expositions, may have some plea­santnesse, but often little solidity; and such, who most common­ly thus interpret Scripture, often fall in errors. As guilty of this fault, Origen is generally complained of, though moe al­so be guilty, as might be cleared by many instances.

2. An Exposition of an Allegorick Scripture, is, the open­ing and expounding of some dark Scripture (wherein the mind of the Spirit is couched and hid under Figures and Allegories) making it plain and edifying, by bringing out the sense according to the meaning of the Spirit in the place, though at first, it seemed to bear out no such thing: So, Matth. 13. Christ ex­poundeth that Parable or Allegory (for, though Rhetoricians make a difference between Similitudes, or Parables, and Allego­ries; yet, in Divinitie, there is none, but that Allegories are more large and continued) calling the Seed, the Word; the Sower, the Son of man, &c. This way of expounding such dark Scriptures, is both useful and necessary, and was often used as e­difying by our Lord to his Disciples: Now, it's this we speak of, which teacheth how to draw plain Doctrines out of Allego­ries, and not to draw Allegories out of plain Histories, or Doctrines.

2. It may be asked then, When are we to account a place of Scripture Allegorick, and are we to seek out some other meaning, than what at first appeareth? Ans.

First, When the literal proper meaning looketh absurd like, or is empty, and nothing to edification; as when it is said, we must eat Christ's flesh, whereby believing is expressed: And so, these Scriptures that do command to pluck out the right eye, cut off the right hand, take up our crosse, &c. All which, if literally understood, were absurd and ridiculous; and therefore, the mi­staking such Scriptures, hath occasioned many errors, as that of the Anthropomorphits, attributing members, to wit, head, hands, feet, &c. to God; and passions, yea, infirmities, as anger, re­penting, &c. because the Scripture speaking of God, after the manner of men, doth Allegorically attribute to him, eyes, hands, wrath, &c.

2. These places of Scripture are to be accounted Allegorick, [Page 24] which reach not the scope of edification, intended by them if literally understood; as when Christ hath spoken of sowing, the Disciples thought, that some more was intended than at first appeared; for, his aime could not be to discourse of Hus­bandry to them: So gathers the Apostle an Allegory from these words, Thou shalt not muzle the mouth of the oxe, that treadeth out the corn. And so also, that and the like precepts, discharging the Jews, the sowing their fields with diverse grains, &c. Which though they be not wholly Allegorick, but have in the letter their own truth, yet, somewhat in these beyond what appears, was aimed at by the Spirit; for, saith the Apostle, doth God care for oxen? that is, that precept hath a further scope. 1 Cor. 9. 9, 10.

3. When a literal sense would obtrude some falsitie on the Scripture, then such a Scripture is to be understood Allegori­cally; as when Christ said, Destroy this Temple, and I will build it up in three dayes; it is not to be understood of the material house, or Jewish Temple, because then Christ's word would not have had it's accomplishment; But Allegorically of his body: So, when Christ saith, Except a man eat his flesh, he shall not live, Iohn, 6. 53. It cannot be understood literally, seing all who have obtained life, did never eat his flesh in a carnal bodily way.

4. Any Scripture is to be accounted Allegorical, when the li­teral sense agreeth not with other Scriptures, and is not repug­nant to the analogie of Faith, or rules of right manners: As, when we are commanded to heap coals of fire upon the head of our enemie. Now, it were against the command of not avenging our selves, if literally and properly understood: It must there­fore signifie some other thing.

5. When a literal sense answereth not the present scope of the speaker, and the speaker would be thought impertinent, if his words were properly taken, then it would seem necessary to ex­pound it as an Allegory; So Matth. 3. 10. when Iohn is pressing re­pentance, he saith, The axe is laid to the root of the tree, &c. And that Parable of Christ's, Luk. 13. 7. speaking of the husband­man that spared his tree three years. If these places were only properly understood, they would not inforce repentance, which is aimed at; they must therefore be expounded, as having something more in them, of a deeper reach, which may conduce to that scope.

[Page 25] And seing, according to these rules, all the absurdities me [...] ­tioned would follow, if this Song were literally and properly expounded, it must therefore be taken Allegorically, and [...]he Doctrines must be drawn from it's inside, or scope, when the [...] of the Allegory is laid by.

But, 3. Because it's dangerous, to leave men to coyn what Ex­positions they please of such Scriptures, therefore as upon the one hand; it's absurd to cast all Doctrines from them, as unsolide; so upon the other hand, we would see, what may fix us in a solide exposition, and sowhat may be esteemed a well grounded Doctrine, drawn from such an Allegory.

I shall, in order to our help in this, name five rules, whereof the last is safest.

First, Some Allegories at the first view seem plain, and imprint their meaning on these that have the least capacity, that it may be known, at least, what in general they aim at; And therefore, such are left frequently in Scripture unexpounded, and are used to presse most obvious truths, such is that of Iohn, Matth. 3. 10. The axe is laid to the root of the tree; and he hath his fan in his hand, &c. The meaning whereof, is at first obvious to be a pe­remptory certification pressing present repentance: So is the Pa­rable of of the marriage, Matth. 22. 1. which at first view, appears to be understood of espousing Believers to Christ as their hus­band: And so Christ's command to take up the crosse, &c. These, as to their meaning, are obvious; and we think such is this Song in it's general series; the very reading of it seems to imprint, that Christ and his people must be taken up as the parties, and the love here spoken of, must be such, as is betwixt them; and though particular expressions be dark, thus far it is obvious.

2. The meaning of an Allegory, may be gathered from the common use of such phrases and expressions, in our common use, so kissing and embracing, &c. signifie love, and are expressions of mutual affection. In an Allegory then, these, and such like, are to expresse analogically some spiritual thing, answerable in our spiri­tual life to such things in our bodily life: Thus they expresse spiritual love, and the sense of it. Thus eyes, hands, feet, &c. applyed to God, denote some singular property in him: If Al­legorically applyed to Believers, they denote some qualification [Page 26] of the new man, that hath some analogy, and resemblance to these, as knowledge, activitie, patience, &c. because, by our eye we see, by our hand we work, and by our feet we walk, and travel, &c. Thus are they transferred, to hold out some other thing than appeareth at first from the words, and the work of the Interpre­ter is to bring out the scope and matter in plain expressions, that it may look like the thing it is, and which is aimed at as the scope.

3. It's helpful in expounding of Allegories, to know how such phrases are expounded in other places; as when some things are spoken of David, that cannot literally agree to David, then see who is meant, in other places of Scripture, by him. If it cannot be known what is meant by a marriage-tye here, seing it can be no humane thing, see what other spiritual marriage is spoken of in any other place of Scripture, and who are the parties, and this is to be expounded by that.

4. Being to interpret any Allegorical place of Scripture, we would see, not only to the scope of all Scripture, and the analogy of Faith in general; but to the scope of the Spirit in that place: As for example, If we would understand what is intended by the Pa­rable of the Prodigal, we would first consider the scope, which is to shew God's ready welcoming of a sinner, and then lavel the ex­position, as serving to illustrat that scope. So we would consider what is the Brides scope, Chap. 5. 10. and it's to discribe Christ: And Chap. 7. 1. we would consider what is the Bridegroom's scope; and it's to discribe her. So then it agrees with the scope, to open these places, & apply them to what is commendable in him, and her: And thus the Exposition, and Doctrines from it, do not only sute with the analogy of Faith, and are not contrare to found Doctrine; but also sute with the intention of the Spirit there, and are agreeable to it: For the Holy Ghost under gene­ral commendations, may include all particulars, which may serve to make out the general; and so when the scope is to hold Christ out, as all desires, then what ever makes him appear desirable, and standeth with the analogy of the expression, may well stand with that scope: This is sure, especially when negatively it's in­ferred; that is, when such a scope necessarily inferreth such a Do­ctrine, and when that scope could not be attained, if such a [Page 27] Doctrine were not supposed: As when in general, Christ and his Church are holden out to stand in a neer relation together, and so to carry one towards each other, as being under such a relation; this will necessarily infer a covenant, and an union by saith upon the grounds of it, and some evidencing of the proofs of Christ's love, &c. because without these, that relation could never have been, nor can it without them be understood by us.

5. The last rule, which we call most sure, is this: Then we may safely conclude, that we have reached the true meaning of an Allegorical Scripture, when from the Scripture in the same, or other places, agreeing with the scope of the present Allegory, we gather in plain expressions what is meant thereby, or what was intended by the spirit in such an Allegorical expression; as when Christ clears the Parable of the Sower, he calleth the seed the word, &c. which makes the meaning clear, and above question; Or, when a plain expression is mixed-in with the Alle­gory. So that expression, Chap. 1. 1. Let him kisse me, &c. in the words following is expounded by a more plain expression, to wit, thy loves are better, &c. Hence we solidly gather that by kisses are meant love: and this Doctrine is sure, Christ's love is vehemently desired by the Bride. These wayes for finding out what is the sense of such Scriptures, are safe; and therefore, that saying, Symbolick Scriptures are not Argumentative, is to be understood with a limitation, to wit, except in so far as the scope and meaning of the spirit is known, and in so far as the Allegory, or the several parts thereof agreeth with, and conduceth to the clearing and making up of the known scope.

All these wayes going together, and taken along with us, we may through God's blessing, undertake the opening of this Song, and draw Doctrines from it so expounded; not only agreeable to other Scriptures, and the analogy of faith, but also as agree­able to the Scope of this Song; yea, even the scope of such a por­tion of it, though possibly every expression in it's meaning, be not so fully reached; which is not the thing we dare promise, but humbly to essay the making of it in some measure clear, re­lishing, amiable, and comfortable to God's people. And so we leave this Conclusion.

[Page 28] The 3. Conclus. and last is, That the Doctrines which this Song yeeldeth for all conditions, and which for Believers use are to be drawn from it, are the same plain, solid, spritual truths which are drawn from other Scriptures, wherein Christs love to his Church, and people, and their exercises, are set down: And if in it's exposition, it resolve in the same meaning with other Scriptures, then must also the Doctrines be the same; And there­fore such Doctrines concerning faith and manners, for Believers direction in all cases, as ariseth from the Gospel, and other plain Scriptures, Psalms, and Histories, may be solidly drawn from this Song: And such when they are drawn are solid (being according to the foresaid general rules) and weight is to be laid on them, in a Christian walk. We shall therefore endeavour to make this out, that when the Doctrine of faith, repentance, diligence, &c. and such other Doctrines as are in the Gospel, concerning the Covenant, or Christ, are spoken of, ye may not think it strange, nor unsuitable to this Song. And therefore we say,

First, If the Doctrines be suitabe to the scope, and matter con­tained in this Song, then they are sure and solid, and weight is to be laid upon them: But the Doctrines concerning Christ's love to, and care of, his Church, and concerning her exercising of faith, repentance, &c. are suitable to the scope, and agreeable to the matter of it. Or thus, If the scope and matter of this Song, do agree with the Gospel (I call the Gospel what in the New Testa­ment is more fully holden forth and more clearly) in the scope and matter of it; Then must the Doctrines which arise from it, be the same with these that rise from the Gospel: but the first is true, as is formerly cleared, therefore must this last be so also. And what is the scope of the Gospel, but to set forth Christ's love to his Church? to shew her duty, &c. and is not that same the scope here also? Only what is preceptively, or doctrinally delivered there, is here as it were acted in a sort of Comedy, and compiled in a Song, but still for the same end.

2. If the same Allegories in other places of Scripture, will bear solid Doctrines concerning Christ, his covenant, faith, &c. even such as are in plain Scriptures; then must this Song do the like, seing it is the word of God, tending to the same scope with these. But it's clear, Isa. 5. 2. Ier. 3. Matth. 22. Rev. 19. 7. that the same Alle­gories [Page 29] of Vineyards, Fruits and Marriage, &c. are used and to the same scope with this, and are made use of to yeeld solid Doctrines concerning faith, fruitfulnesse, and other Doctrines be­belonging to a Believers faith and practice: Therefore it must be [...]o here; for though this Song be larger, and is made up of moe Allegories together, that will not alter the nature of it, or of the Doctrines, which must be drawn from it.

3. If we compare this Song, with the 45 Psalm, it cannot be denyed, 1. But that Psalm and this Song are to one scope, and of one stile or strain, in prosecuting that scope; It's a Song of love for the King, and a spiritual marriage is the subject thereof, as is clear from the very reading of it. 2. It cannot be denyed, but that solid proofs and Doctrines, concerning many points of faith and practice, which are in other plain Scriptures, are, and may be warrantably drawn from it, even as if it were plain Gos­pel: Therefore must the Doctrines be such which arise from this Song also, for that Psalm is used even by the Apostle, Heb. 1. 8, 9. to confirm the great truths of the Gospel.

4. If this whole Song be one piece, and of one nature, driving all along the same general scope, then such Doctrines, as the places in it which are clear, do yeeld; Such, I say, must be con­tained (if we could discern them) in these places of it which are most obscure: But what is most plain in this Song, speaks out such plain Doctrines, experiences, &c. Therefore what is more obscure, may be resolved in such also: For we may best know what kind of Doctrines floweth from what is obscure, by the places that are more clear, seing God in the most dark Scriptures ordinarily hath insert some plain passages, or given some hints of his mind, to be as a key for opening all the rest. Now if we will for instance, consider some such places as these, My beloved is mine, &c. I called, but he gave me no answer, they yeeld plain Doctrines, as other plain Scriptures do: And therefore, seing it's one continued Song, and each of these dark, and plain places answer one another, to continue the series of the Discourse upon the same subject, we may know by what is plain, how to un­derstand what is couched, within that which is more dark.

5. As one piece of the Allegory is to be resolved, so by pro­portion must all the rest, there being one threed and scope: Now that some pieces of the Allegory, may be expounded in [Page 30] clear Doctrines, concerning Christ, and his Church, may be ga­thered from paralleling some parts of it with other Scriptures: As if we compare that excellent description of Christ, Chap. 5. 10. with that which Iohn sets down, Rev. 1. 13. we will see a great re­semblance betwixt the two (if this last have not respect unto the former) especially in that which is spoken anent his feet, and legs, and his countenance; But it is certain, that description, Rev. 1. 13. is given him with a purpose to describe him, and to set out the several attributes, and excellent qualities, he is furnished with, as Omniscience by his eyes, Justice by his legs, walking surely; Omnipotence by his arms, &c. which are particularly so applyed in the Epistles to the seven Churches, Chap. 2. and 3. and after­ward: If then there, by the Spirit's warrand, we may draw from Christ's being said to have eyes, that he is Omniscient (and so in other properties) may we not also think, that seing it's the same spirit that speaks here, in the particular description that is given of Christ, and the Bride in their several parts, that these same par­ticular properties may be aimed at; and may we not make use of such interpretations else where given, for our help in the like particulars, and so also in other things?

6. Thus we argue, Either this Song is so to be resolved, as hath been said, and such Doctrines are to be drawn from it, as a­rise from the Gospel, for expressing the way of Believers with Christ, and his with them; Or then, 1. There are no Doctrines to be drawn from it, but this Song is a meer Complement, and but ignorantly, with holy blind affection to be sung, which is ab­surd; Or, 2. The Doctrines are but to be guessed at, and so the truth of them is only conjectural, which will come neer the for­mer absurdity, and spoil the Believer of any solid edification, he could have from it; Or, 3. It must contain such a kind of love, such cases and Doctrines concerning Christ and Believers, which are different from the Gospel, and the cases of Saints plainly re­corded elsewhere: Now this would necessitate an uncertainty of it's meaning, and hazard the coyning of two wayes of Christ's dealing with his people, as also, of theirs with him, two Unions, two Marriages, &c. Or, 4. It must contain the same Doctrines concerning faith, Christ, the Covenant, the Church, &c. which are [Page 31] contained in other Scriptures, and in the Gospel, which was the thing to be proven.

We have been the larger on this, to obviat two extreams, that men are given to follow, in reference to this Song. 1. Some loathing plain truths, which are plainly delivered in Scriptures, properly to be taken; and because this in expression and strain differeth, they conclude there must be some uncouth, strange and odd thing here. It is true, if we look to the degree of warm affections, that breath forth here, we may conceive that there is something odd, and singular in this Song: But, as to the kind of Doctrine here delivered, there is nothing new; and to imagine the contrary, were as if a man supposed, there behoved to be some strange Liquor, or Meat in curious-like Glasses, and Dishes, because the Master of an house might use variety of Vessels, for the delectation of the Feasters, yet still giving the same solid food and drink, though diversly prepared; Or, as if a man would sup­pose, Paul and Barnabas, Christ our Lord, and Iohn, did Preach different Gospels, because they were of different Gifts, and had a different manner of expression. 2. On th [...] other hand, some are ready to cast at this Book as uselesse, because they see not plain truths at the first in it, and possibly think all endeavours to expound it, or draw Doctrines from it, but a guessing, and are ready to offend, when they meet with nothing but some such truths as are obvious in some other Scriptures. This wrongs the worth, and divine authority of this Scripture also, and though many (and we among others) may mis-apply somethings in this Song, yet to say they cannot be rightly applyed, or that such Doctrines as we have before mentioned, are not native to it, is too precipi­tant, to say no more.

For further clearing and confirming of these propositions and conclusions, we shall answer some Objections or Questions which may be proposed concerning what is said.

First, It may be objected, if Allegorick Scriptures be so to be expounded, and such Doctrines to be drawn from them; then why are such Scriptures set down under such figurative expressi­ons? might they not be better in plain words? or might not such plain Scriptures be rather expounded, which bear such Doctrines with lesse difficulty?

[Page 32] Ans. If this were urged, it would not only reflect on this Song; but on many places of Scripture, and also, on the ex­pounding of such Scriptures; yea, it would reflect on the wis­dom of the Spirit, and his Soveraignty, who may choose what way he pleases, to expresse his mind to his People, and what ever way he take to do this, sure, it is still the best, and it may war­rand us to acquiesce in the way he hath taken to speak his mind, that it is he that speaks: Yet, there may be good ends given of this his way, or weighty reasons (even for our behove) why he speaks to his People in such terms, and language: As, 1. Here he putteth all the conditions of a Believer together, as in one Mapp, which are more sparsly, and as it were, here and there, to be found elsewhere through the Scriptures; We have them here compended together, in a sort of Spiritual dependance one upon another, and in a connexion one with another. And they are put in a Song, to make them the more sweet and lovely; and under such Poetical and figurative expressions, as best agreeth with the na­ture of Songs, and Poetical Writings; that so Believers may have them together, and may sing them together, for the help of their memory, and upstirring of their affections.

2. These figures and similitudes, have their own use, to make us the better take up, and understand the spiritual things which are represented by them; when in a manner, he condescends to illustrat them by similitudes, and so to teach (as it were) to our senses, things which are not otherwise so obvious: For which cause, Christ often taught by Parables, the greatest mysteries of the Gospel.

3. Thus not only the judgement is informed, but it serveth the more to work on our affections, both to convince us of, and to deterr us, from, what is ill, when it is proposed indifferently in an Allegory, as Nathan in his Parable to David did: And al­so, it conduceth the more to gain our affections to love such things as are here set out, wherefore, even Heaven it self is so de­scribed from similitudes of such things as are in account with men, Rev. 21. 22. And Christs Love becomes thus more comfortable, and our relation to him the more kindly-like, when it's illustrat by Marriage, and the kindly expressions of a Husband and Wife; for this also, God is compared to a Father, and his pity to a [Page 33] fathers pity to children, to make it the more sensible, and com­fortable.

4. Thus also any knowledge that is attained, or any impression that is made, is the better fixed and keeped; similitudes are often retained, when plain truths are forgotten, as we may see in experience; yea, the retaining of the similitude in the memory, doth not only keep the words in mind, but helps to some ac­quaintance with the thing which is signified, and furthereth us in understanding the manner, how such and such things, the Lord doth to his People, are brought about.

5. Thus both the wisdom and care of God and his Spirit ap­peareth, who taketh diverse wayes to commend his truth unto men, and to gain them to the love of it, that they who will not be affected with plain truth, he may be more taking expressions, commend unto them the same thing; which is the reason why he hath given diverse Gifts and wayes of holding forth his truth unto Ministers; some have one way, like sons of Thunder; some another, like sons of Consolation; and yet all to carry on the same end, that the one may be helpfull unto the other. Indeed if God had delivered his truth only in obscure terms, the ob­jection might seem to have some weight; but when he doth it both in plain and obscure wayes, this is his condescendency and wisdom, by all means seeking to gain some.

6. Thus also the Lord removeth occasion of loathing from his Word, by putting it in some lovely Artifice, in the manner of it's delivery; and also, he doth hereby provoke his people to more diligence, in searching after the meaning of it; It being often our way to esteem least of what is most obvious, and most of that which is by some pains attained.

7. Thus also the Lord maketh the study of his Word delect­able, when both the judgment and affections, are joyntly wrought upon: And to shew that all the Believers conditions may be matter of a sweet song to him, whereas somethings, if plainly laid down, would not be so cheerfully digested: Thus he maketh the saddest matter sweet, by his manner of proposing it.

8. Also the Lord useth to keep the Songs, and spiritual allow­ance of his own, somewhat vailed from the rest of the world; [Page 34] for they have meat to eat the world knoweth not of, that Believers may see, and feed sweetly, where they discern nothing, and that they having this Commented on by experience betwixt him and them, may sing that Song, which none other in the world can learn, as the 144000 do, Rev. 14. 1. for thus it's said, Math. 13. 9, 10, 11, &c. that Christ spake in Parables, that not only he might condescend to the weaknesse of his own, so as they might bear it, Mark 4. 33, 34. but also, that others, seeing might see, and not perceive: Often that same way which his own gets good of, p [...]oveth a stumbling to others, through their own corrup­tion.

9. There may be also something of Gods design here, to try the humility and since [...]ity of his people, if they will stoop to every way he useth, because it's his; and if they will love the Word, not as so, or so proposed, but as it cometh from him, and is his, and as such humbly receive it, as being that which (though it seem to others foolishnesse, yet) makes them wise unto Salvation. The mockers taunted Ezekiel's Message under this notion, that he spake Parables, Ezek. 20. 49. but Z [...]ch. 11. 10, 11. when the Prophet broke the two Staves (which was a dark and mysterious-like action) the poor of the flock waited on him, when (as it's like) others stumbled also. By all which, we may see why the Lord hath so compacted together, plain useful Doctrines, under such expressions in this Song; and also, why our undertaking to open it, may be well constructed, even though these same truthes may elsewhere as clearly arise; yet, these truths are here in such a way connected together, and so not on­ly proposed, but also commended unto us, as will not any where else be found.

Obj. 2. If any say, the raising of such Gospel-Doctrines, makes this Song look more like the Gospel of the New Testament, than a Song of the Old. Ans. 1.

Is it the worse, that it look like the Gospel? Or, are not such Doctrine [...] (if they follow from it) the better & more comfortable? Certainly there is no Doctrine, more edifying and comfortable to Believers, and more like, or more becoming Christs way with Belie­vers, or their's with him (which is the scope and subject of this [Page 35] Song) then Gospel-Doctrines are. High soaring words of vanity, and mysteries having nothing but an empty sound, are much more unlike this spiritual Song, t [...]an these. 2. If it set out Christs way to Believers, even under the Old Testament, and Believers way of keeping communion with God even then; is not that the same Gospel-way which we have now? Their faith and commu­nion with God, stood not in the outward Ceremonies, which were Typical; but in the exercise of inward Graces, faith, love, &c. which are the same now as then; Was not Christ the same to them as to us? Had they not the same Spirit, Covenant, &c. and so the cases and experiences of, or incident to Believers then, are also applicable to us now? That Christ was then to come, and hath now suffered, and that the way of revealing him then, was some way different from that we have now, will not make ano­ther Gospel, Covenant, Faith, yea, nor Church; we being grafted in that same Stock which they once grew upon, and being by Faith Heirs of the same promises, which sometime they pos­sessed.

Object. 3. If any should yet doubt, if Solomon knew or intend­ed such Doctrines as these, and that therefore, they cannot be well digested, if drawn from this Song, beyond his mind and mean­ing. [...] Ans. 1. Our great purpose is to know what the Spirit in­tended, and not what Solomon understood; and if this be the Spirit's intention, to set out Christ's way with his Church; then such Doctrines as agree therewith, must be agreeable to his meaning. 2. Yea, suppose Solomon and other Prophets should be ignorant, in a great measure, of the meaning of such things, as the Spirit foretold by them (as it is not impossible in some extraordinary things, especially when their knowledge in these was not essential to the truth of their Prophesie, for they might have a kind of nescience in the particulars, though they were sure the thing [...] they delivered were in the complex Prophesie God's word) yet, will any say, that we should limit the words spoken by them, to their understanding of them? If so, by what rule would we know, if, or how they did understand them?

3. Therefore we say, It was with Solomon here, as with other Prophets, (as Isaiah, and others) who spake many of the [Page 36] Gospel-truths, which in particular they might not so fully know, as we do now, when these Prophecies are fulfilled; yet was it never doubted, but the most deep mysteries of the Gospel, were contained in their Prophecies.

Yet, 4. We say there is no ground to think, but Solomon knew much of the mind of the Spirit in this Song, yea, more than many Learned Men now a-days. For, 1. He was not only a Be­liever, but one eminent for gifts and knowledge; and none will say but he was so for divine knowledge, as well as humane; as his Books, particularly, Prov. 4. 8, 9. Chapters, in his descripti­on of Christ, the substantial wisdome of the Father, &c. do shew: And can it be thought, he wrot this Book, without any sense of what he wrot? 2. Can it be thought, but he lavelled what he wrot here at a scope? and that afterward himself made use of it, for his edification and comfort? which could not be done, if he had not understood the most of these Gospel-mysteries, upon which all this sweet conference betwixt Christ and Believers, is founded. 3. His writing in such terms shews, that the words were not ignorantly fallen upon; but he, having knowledge of all Herbs, Spices, &c. and how to apply them to spiritual things, pitched upon these as the most pertinent similitudes, which are therefore by the special wisdom of the Spirit, made use of in this Song, as in other his Writings; yea, certainly his knowledge, how spiritual mysteries are couched up in these similitudes, and represented by them, was beyond what we can reach unto now; and therefore we dare not insist, or be peremptory in the parti­cular application of these similitudes. 4. The subject of this Song not being Prophetical, but Narrative and Doctrinal, con­taining such exercises, as might be, and certainly were found in Believers, even then, and such dispensations as they used to meet with, will any say he was a stranger unto them, seing there was accesse to know these much better, then Prophesies of things which were to come? Yea, 5. Is there any thing here, but what in other Scriptures of the Old Testament (and especially Songs and Psalms) is to be found, where the cases and exercises of Gods people are set down? And it needs not be thought strange, if we equal him in knowledge with others of his time, or before him; [Page 37] and that he sets down in a more artificial manner, according to his measure of Gifts, that which others set down in more plain termes, yet both by the same Spirit.

We may then confidently hazard, to draw the same Doctrines concerning Christ, the Gospel, Church, &c. from it, that are to be found in other more clear and plain Scriptures. One of the Fathers (Athanas. in Synops.) comparing this Song with other Scriptures of the Old Testament, sayes, it is as Iohn Baptist among the Prophets, other Scriptures speak of Christ as coming, (saith he) and afar off; this speaks of Him, and to Him, as already come, and near hand; and indeed it is so: For so even then, he was sometimes very familiar and present both to the Faith and Sense of his people, as well as now. Thus also, even Origen (though in plain Scriptures too luxuriant, yet in this he) seems to own this same scope. Thus also Zanch. in Eph. 5. makes it a compend and Copy of the spiritual Marriage with Christ. And Bodius in Eph. pag. 114. sayes, it's ipsius fidei, & Religionis Chri­stianae, medulla.

If it be said, if we interpret this Song after this manner, then all the observations will run upon Believers cases only; which would seem to say, that no Doctrines may be drawn from it, for the edification of these who are yet unrenewed; and what use can it then be of, to them, who yet are the greater part in the Church?

1 Ans. The Gospel hath Doctrines suitable to all within the Church; and this Song being in substance, Christs way with his Church, must also contain Doctrines useful for all within the same.

2. In this Song the Church is not only considered as invisible, and unite by true faith to Christ; but also as visible, and as under external Ordinances, as hath been said; and in that respect, it furnishes Doctrines fit for all.

3. This Song will furnish Doctrines useful for these, as other Parables or Allegories of that kind do, which Christ used often even for the edification of such.

4. Doctrines from all places of Scripture, may be raised by analogy; as from such places, where God holdeth forth the way he useth with his own, when they have wronged him by sin, which [Page 38] is to humble them and bring them to Repentance, ere they see his face again, sin becomes bitter even to them: From such places, I say, we may gather by proportion, that God's way with unrenewed sinners, whom he minds to bring to peace and friend­ship with himself, is to humble them, and make sin bitter to them, seing the recovering of peace, and the first founding of peace, as to this, is brought about after the same manner.

5. From such places, as speak directly Christs special love to Believers, there may be drawn good uses and applications to o­thers; partly, to ingage them to him, who so loves his own; partly, to terrifie these who are not his, by their being debarred from any right to such excellent priviledges.

6. Where the Brides carriage is commendable, it's a copy and pattern to all, even as Examples and Precepts are ordinarily given in common to all, and serve to direct every one in what they should aime at; and also to convince for what they are short of: The duties she is taken up with, being moral, her example in these, must lay an universal obligation upon all, and in such things where­in she falleth through infirmitie, her carriage serveth well to deter all from these evils.

In the Last place, for better understanding of the subject of this Song, we would take alongst with us, 1. some Observations. 2. some Rules.

1. The subject thereof is to hold forth the mutual and inter­changeable exercise, and out-lettings of love, as well betwixt Christ and particular Believers, as betwixt him and the Church: As also, his various dispensations to the Bride, her diverse con­ditions and tempers, and both his and her carriage under them, and her out-gates.

2. The manner how this sweet subject is set down, is by way of Dialogue, in several conferences, after a Dramatick way (as it's called) because thus the mutual love of these parties, is best ex­pressed: In which there are, 1. The principal parties in the discourse. 2. Others as Friends or Attendants waiting on: In the Gospel, Ioh. 3. 28, 29. there are mentioned the Bridegroom, and his Friends, and the Bride: And children of the Marriage-Chamber are spoken of, Math. 9. 15. by which are understood [Page 39] Virgins and Companions, that attend her, and also go forth to wait on him; which are of two sorts, some Wise, being really so, some Foolish, being wise in profession only, Math. 25. 1, 2. There is also mention made of a Mother, Gal. 4. 26. which hath two sorts of children, some born after the Flesh, and but children as it were of the Bond-woman; others born after the Spirit, and true mem­bers of the Church invisible: The former persecutes the latter; and of both kinds of children, are some of all ranks, amongst Priests, Apostles, Ministers, &c.

We will find all these parties in this Song, acting their several parts.

First, The Bridegroom is Christ, Iohn 3. 24. called the one Husband, 2 Cor. 11. 2. for there is not another spiritual husband, to whom Believers can be matched; He is the King's son, for whom the marriage is made, Matth. 22. 1, 2 &c. He is the Lamb, unto whose marriage the hearers of the Gospel are in­vited, Rev. 19. 9. and Psal. 45. He is the King unto whom the Queen is to be brought after she is adorned; by this name he is also styled in this Song, The King, Chap. 1. 4. 12. &c. and the beloved; Those, and such titles are given to him, which cannot be understood to be attribute to any but to Christ only, by Be­lievers.

2. The Bride is the Church, and every Believer in diverse con­siderations (as is said before) who are married to Christ, and are to be made ready and adorned for the solemnizing of the marriage. Of the nature of this marriage see more, Chap. 8. 8.

3. The Bridegroom's friends are honest Ministers, who rejoice to see him great; Such as Iohn was, Iohn 3. 29. and such were the Apostles, Iohn 15. 15. Such are here the Watch-men, trusted with the over-sight and edification of others, spoken unto, Chap. 2. 15. and spoken of, Chap. 3. 3.

4. The Virgins, or children of the marriage-chamber, are here called Daughters of Zion, Chap. 3. 11. and of Ierusalem (many whereof are weak, ready to stumble, Chap. 1. 6. and of little knowledge, Chap. 5. 9. and ready to stir up the Bridegroom, Chap. 3. 5.) and the Virgins that love Christ, Chap. 1. 3. and the upright, Chap. 1. 4.

[Page 40] 5. The Mother is the universal visible Church, wherein are many true Believers, who are converted to Christ by the Word and Ordinances dispensed therein, and to which also many Hypo­crites belong as members.

6. The children of the promise, are true Virgins that love Christ; the children of the bond-woman, and the flesh, are unre­newed Professors in the Church, as also, false teachers, who act their part here likewise, Chap. 1. 6. and 2. 15. and 5. 7.

3. This conference, as it is betwixt Christ and the Believer, is followed as betwixt married parties. 1. In their titles, they attribute to each other. 2. In their claiming of this relation one in another, as that he is her's, and she is his. 3. In their expressions, which are such as use to be betwixt most loving par­ties, who live exercising conjugal love, most kindly and intimatly together. The reason whereof is, 1. To shew the neer Union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; there is a relation, and a most neer relation betwixt them, that is not betwixt him and any others. 2. To shew the kindly effects of that relation in both the parties, especially the faithfulnesse and tendernesse of the husband, in walking according to it in every thing. 3. It's to sweeten every piece of exercise, the Believer meets with; Yea, to make all dispensations digest the better, seing they are dis­pensed, and ordered by such a loving husband. 4. It's for warm­ing the Believers heart the more to Christ, and to make this Song heartsome and delightsome, that so Believers may have al­ways a marriage-Song, and every night may be to them as a mar­riage-night.

4. The purpose or subject of this Song, is Christ, and divine things of all sorts; but mainly the experiences of grown Chri­stians, held forth in most noble and lively expressions, as was before a little cleared.

5. The scope of all is, to expresse the desirablenesse of fellow­ship with the Bridegroom, and how the Bride thirsteth and long­eth for it, and how carefull she is to entertain it, and by laying out his matchlesse excellencies to commend him to others; which also seems to be the scope and design, for which this Scrip­ture is given to the Church; and so her breathing after com­munion [Page 41] with him, doth here begin the conference, v. 2. Let him kisse me, &c.

6. The manner of their expression is, 1. Sweet and loving: and therefore, this conference is carried on, under the terms of mar­riage, and the titles of beloved, my love, spouse, &c. (as being the most lively that can expresse that relation, and most apposite for entertaining of mutual love) are here made use of. 2. The manner of expression is something obscure, though sweet, that so the Lord's people may be stirred up to painfulnesse, and di­ligence in searching out his mind; and also, because the myste­ries here contained, are great, and cannot, as they are in them­selvs, be conceived: Therefore that they may be illustrate, Parables are used, as Mat. 13. 34. compared with Mark 4. 33. where it's clear, that the intent and effect of the Lord's speaking by Parables, is to help some to take up these mysteries, and to leave some ignorant. 3. The Spirit of God doth here make use of borrowed expressions, the more lively to set out the spiritual matter contained under them; and by things most taking, and best known to our senses, to hold out divine Myste­ries, unto which these expressions are to be applyed. 4. Often these same expressions, are made use of in one place, in speak­ing to the Bridegroom, and in another speaking to the Bride, he calling her chief amongst the Daughters, and she him chief amongst the Sons, but in a different sense; for, he styles her from his acceptation of her, and from his imputation, and communication of his graces to her: But she styles him from his own excellencie and worth, he having all in himself, and nothing borrowed from any other, but imparting that which is his, to her.

2. The Rules we would take alongst with us in our proceed­ing, are these:

First, We would find out, who speaks in every passage of this Song; for this serves much to clear what is spoken.

2. We would carefully ponder, what is the purpose of the Spi­rit in every part thereof.

3. We must apply, and conform expressions to the scope, and expound them by it, and not stick too much in following of every thing, which these Allegories seem to bear; but draw [Page 42] the Doctrines from them, being compared with the scope, and other places of Scripture, not insisting too far upon the si­militudes.

4. We are to take special notice of the Brides frame, in her manner of speaking; For we may observe, that often in the vehe­mency of her passionate love, she breaks out without any seen con­nexion, or order, as Chap. 1. 2. and by cutted, broken, and vehement expressions, in her diverse f [...]ames and tender fits, as her case is up or down, (abruptly, as it were) she useth to expresse her self.

5. We must not apply all so to the Church, as to shut out Believers, nor contrarily; but take in both, where both may come in; and more especially apply to the one, where the pur­pose makes most for it, as hath been said.


Vers. 1.‘The Song of Songs, which is Solomon's.’

BEfore we enter upon the purpose of this Chapter, or give the division of it, we would first speak to the Title contained, ver. 1.

We account this Title Scripture, it being in the Original, even as other Titles, prefixed to diverse Psalms, as to Psal. 51. 102, &c. In it three things are set down. 1. The nature of this Scripture. 2. It's Excellency. 3. It's instrumental Author, who was made use of, by the Spirit in Penning of it.

First, For the nature of this Scripture, It's a Song. Songs in Scripture, are such Portions, or Books thereof, as were especially intended to be made use of, for the praising of God, the edifying and comforting of his people, in singing of them. Three sorts of them were in use amongst the Hebrews (as the Titles of our Psalms do clear, and as they are mentioned by the Apostle, Eph. 5. 19.) 1. Psalms, such were used, both with voice and Instru­ments. 2. There were Hymns (so the 145 Psalm is intituled) such in the matter of them, were wholly made up of praise, and what immediatly led to that. 3. There were spiritual Songs, which were more extensive in the matter, taking in Histories, cases, and exercises of all sorts; and might be sung with the voice, without Instruments, either publickly, or privatly. Of this last sort, is this Song, intended to be made use of in the praises of God; and so composed, both for matter and manner, as it [Page 44] might best attain that end, and prove edifying and comfortable also to Believers, in their singing of it.

2. The excellencie of this Song is exprest in this, that it's A Song of Songs, A most excellent Song, this being the manner how the Hebrews expresse their superlatives. While it is called A Song of Songs, it's compared with, and preferred to, all other Songs: And we conceive the comparison is not only betwixt this and humane Songs; But, 1. It's compared with, and pre­ferred to, all these which Solomon wrot, and it's preferable to all these 1005 mentioned, 1 King. 4. 32. 2. It's compared with all other Scriptural Songs, such as is recorded, Exod. 15. and Iudg. 5. &c. Of all which, this is the most excellent, as being, 1. Purposly intended to treat of the most choise and excellent subject, to wit, Christ and his Church; which is not done upon particular occasions, as in other Songs, but is the great purpose that is only designed and pursued. 2. It treats of Christ and his Church, in their most glorious, lively, and lovely actions, to wit, his care of, and his love unto, his Church, and that in it's most eminent degree; and also, of her love to him, in it's various measures and workings. 3. It's in a most excellent manner com­posed, by way of conference and sweet Colloques betwixt these two parties, having in it many excellent expressions, and variety of them, well interwoven with sundry cases of several sorts, to make the whole draught the more taking and excellent. 4. It's set forth in a most lovely, excellent, majestick stile and strain, which exceedingly ravishes and captivats affections, making the love contained in it, sweetly savour and relish through the beautifull garment of borrowed expressions, which is put upon it. 5. It's a most excellent Song, in respect of it's comprehen­sivenesse; here is an armory and store-house of Songs in this one, where there is something treasured up for every case, that may be edifying and comfortable, which will not be so found in any other Song; there being something here suiting all sorts of Be­lievers, under all the variety of cases and dispensations, where­with they are exercised; and also, all the relations under which [Page 45] the Church standeth: All which, should commend this Song unto us.

It is recorded of the Hebrews, that whatever Scripture was delivered in a poetical [...]rame, they accounted themselves speci­ally bound to take notice of that, and to get it by heart; and indeed it is not for nought, that some Scriptures, and not o­thers, are casten in that mould; and something of this, as the intent of the Holy Ghost, may be gathered from Moses his put­ting his last words in a Song, Deut. 32. that they might be the better remembred.

The 3. thing in the title, is the Penman made use of by the Spirit, in the writing and recording this Song: It's Solomon, a great man, rich, wise, yea an elect Saint; Yet one, who had also fallen into many foul faults, whom the Lord hath suffered to die, without recording expresly any thing of his recovery, though we make no doubt of it; which (because Bellarmine, lib. 3. de Iustif. Chap. 14. pag. 368. Tannovius and others, are at pains in contradicting this, yea, Augustine doubts of it, because nothing is directly recorded of his recovery) we shall endeavour to make clear from these considerations,

First, From the Lords promises to him, 2 Sam. 7. 14, 15. where these three things are observable, which the Lord under­takes concerning him. 1. That he will be to him a father. 2. That he will correct him with the rods of men, if he shall sin; which saith, he would not eternally punish him. 3. That he would not do with him, as he did with Saul, whom he rejected; he would not take away his mercy from Solomon, as he had done from him: And if no more were in these Promises, but what is temporal, there would be no great consolation in them to David (whose consolation is one chief part of the scope of that place.) Beside, these promises, Psal. 89. 31, 32, 33. (which are the same with these, 2 Sam. 7.) are looked upon as special evidences of God's love, and peculiar Promises of his Saving-Covenant.

2. When he is born, the Lord gives him his name, yea, sends Na­than, 2 Sam. 12. with this warrand, to name him Iedidiah, be­cause the Lord loved him; which cannot be a love flowing from [Page 46] any thing in him, as if he had been well pleased with his carriage, (Solomon had not yet done any thing good or evil) but it must be a love prior to his works, and so not arising from his good deeds, and therefore not cut off by his sins; which being like the love, God had to Iacob, before he had done good or evil, Rom. 9. 11. must speak out Electing love, as it doth in that place.

3. He is made use of by the Spirit, to be a Penman of Holy Writ, and a Prophet of the Lord; all which, are by our Lord, Luke 13. 28. said, to sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Iacob, in the Kingdom of Heaven; and there is no reason to exclude him, seing that universal (all the Prophets, &c.) would not be a truth, unlesse he were there: And though some wicked men have prophesied, as Balaam did, yet are they never accounted Pro­phets of the Lord, as Solomon was, but false Prophets and Inchan­ters; neither were they Penmen of Holy Writ; who were, as Peter calleth them, 2 Pet. 1. 21. Holy men of God, speaking as they were inspired by the Holy Ghost.

4. Neither are the peculiar Priviledges he was admitted unto, to be forgotten; by him the Lord built the Temple, by him the Covenant was explicitly renewed with God, 1 King. 8. 9. and his prayers are often particularly mentioned, to be heard; yea, after his death, some testimonies are recorded of him, which can­not consist with his rejection: See 2 Chron. 11. 17. where the wayes of Solomon are put in, as commendable with Davids, though there were defects in both; and this being immediatly after So­lomon's death, it would seem he left the worship of God pure, and so had turned from his Idolatry, though all the monuments of it, were not abolished. And especially in this, he was singu­larly priviledged, that, in a most lively way, he was the Type of our blessed Lord Jesus, in his Intercession, Reign, and peaceable Government: Beside, that by particular Covenant, the Kingdom of Christ, and his descent from him, was established to him.

5. It's of weight also, that it seems more than probable, that Solomon wrot Ecclesiastes after his recovery; it being neither amongst the Proverbs, nor Songs which are mentioned, 1 King. 4. 32. And in it, he speaks out the experience he had both of folly [Page 47] and madness, and the vanity he had found in all created things, even when he had perfected his Essay of all the possible wayes of attaining, either the knowledge of their perfections, or satisfacti­on in the injoyment of them.

The Scripture therefore, hath not left his recovery altogether dark; yet, as to any Historical narration thereof, the Lord hath so ordered, that he passeth away under a cloud, for these good ends:

First: Thereby, Solomon is chastised with the rods of men (even after death) upon his name; for, his miscarriages are set down expresly, but his recovery (as to any direct testimony thereof) is past over.

2. By this, the Lord maketh his displeasure with Solomon's wayes, known; though he had favour to his person, and gave him his soul for a prey.

3. Thus the Lord would affright others from declining, and hereby teacheth his people, to be afraid to rest upon Gifts; yea, or upon Graces, seing he hath left this matter so far in the dark, as might yeeld an occasion (as it were) to question the eternal condition of Solomon.

4. It may be also, that Solomon after his recovery, did never recover his former lustre, nor attain to such a profitable way of appearing in God's publike matters, for which formerly he had been so observable: For so it is taken notice even of David, after his fall, that his following life is stained, as different from what went before; therefore it is the commendation of Iehosha­phat, 1 Chron. 17. 3. that he walked in the first wayes of his father David, which certainly, is not done to condemn David's state after that time, but to leave that mark (as a chastisement) on his failings: And seing Solomon's were greater, therefore may this silence of his recovery, be more universal as to him.

Before we draw any thing from this, by way of use, I shall an­swer a doubt, and it is this, How can all these thousand and five Songs, mentioned, 1 King. 4. 32. be lost, without [...]ronging the per [...]ection of Canonick Scripture? Or, what is come of them? Or, what is to be accounted of the losse of them?

[Page 48] Ans. We say, 1. The Scriptures may be full in the articles of faith, even though some portions thereof, which once were extant, were now a-missing; except it could be made out, that some points of faith were in these Books, which are not to be found in other Scriptures. 2. Yet, seing it is not safe, and it wants not many inconveniences, to assert that any Book once de­signed of God to his Church, as a canon or rule of faith and man­ners, should be lost. And seing, it is not consistent with that wise Providence of his, whereby he hath still carefully preserved the treasure of his Oracles in his Church, We rather incline to say, that though these Songs were possibly useful, and might be writ­ten by the Spirit's direction; yet, that they were not intended for the universal edification of the Church, nor inrolled as a part of his Word, appointed for that end. Neither can it be thought strange, that it should so be; for, that a thing be Scripture, it's not only needful, that it be inspired, but also that it be appoin­ted of God for publike use. It's not improbable, but Isaiah, Moses, David, Paul, and others might have written many moe writtings, upon particular occasions, or to particular persons, which were useful in themselves for edification; and yet were never appointed of God to be looked upon, or received as Scrip­tures for publike use in his Church: So do we account of these Songs mentioned in the objection, and other writings of Solo­mon, now not extant: And it may be the Spirit hath pitched on this Song, to be recorded, as the sum and chief of all the rest; as he did pitch upon some particular Prayers of David and Moses, &c. passing by others.

And Lastly, We are rather to be thankful, for the great ad­vantage we have by this, than anxiously to inquire, what hath become of the rest.

There are four things, we would propose for use, from the Title of this Song.

First, That singing of Believers cases, even their several cases, is allowable: Or, that singing of diverse and different cases, yea, even their saddest cases, is not inconsistent with, but very agree­able unto, the work of praise: Ye see, this is a Song for the na­ture [Page 49] of it, which Song is to be sung, yet for matter, exceeding comprehensive of all sorts of cases, and these various.

There are (amongst others) five cases, in which to sing, doth sometimes stumble, at least, stick much with those who are weak and tender; All which, we will find cleared in the Brides practice of singing this Song.

First, It's doubted, if sad cases should be sung, seing, Iames 5. 13. it's said, Is any man merry? let him sing Psalms. Ans. It's true, these who are merry should sing, but not only they, no more then only they who are afflicted, should pray; It's not our case, nor our chearful disposition, but the duty that should be respected in this work of praise; yea, we should sing, for chearing our disposition, and mitigating and sweet [...]ing our crosses: So doth the Bride here sing her suffe [...]ings, Chap. 1. 6. Chap. 5. 7. when she was smitten; yea, her de [...]ertions, she putteth these al­so in a Song.

2. It's stumbled at sometimes, to sing complaints of our own sinfulnesse, and to turn our failings into Songs; What matter of cheerfulnesse, is there in these, may one think? But we say here, she doth so, mine own Vineyard have I not kept (saith she) Chap. 1. 6. I sleep, &c. Chap. 5. 2. It's a ground of cheerfulnesse, that we may sing over these unto God, with expectation to be pardoned and delivered from them, as Psal. 65. 3.

3. When the matter is different from our case, some thinks it's hard to sing such Psalms. Ans. Certainly in this Song, there are different, yea, contrary cases; yet none can think, but a Believer may sing it all at one time. Yea, 2. There had never then, been a Psalm sung in publick; for in no Congregation, can all the members ever be in one case. 3. The same might be ob­jected against publick Prayers also, seing there may be many pe­titions that are not suitable to all joyners; yet hath the Lord commanded both publick Praying and Praising.

4. When the matter, which is sung, is above us, being a thing we have not yet reached, and so cannot assert it in our particu­lar condition as truth, As these words, Psal. 18. 20, 21. I have kept his ways, &c. Ans. By this Song, all, at least most part of [Page 50] Believers, are made to sing many things, beyond their own at­tainments possibly; yea, Chap. 8. that phrase, My Vineyard which is mine, is before me, is of that same extent, with that, Psal. 18. 20. Yet will not any think, that the Spirit propounding this Song, and that Psalm, as a subject for publick praise, did ever intend that none should sing it, but such as were as holy as Da­vid; yea, it would seem, that if either David or Solomon, had stuck to the absolute perfection which these words seem to hold forth (if they be expounded according to the strict rule of the Law, and be not taken in an Evangelick sense) that neither of them would, or could have sung them: yea, it's observable, that in this Song, there are spots mentioned; and not keeping of the Vineyard, Chap. 1. is one part of the Song, as well as keeping of it, Chap. 8. is another.

How then may we joyn in these? Ans. 1. We sing not our own sense, and experience only, but what may attain the end of praise, which is attained, in our acknowledging what others have reached, though we our selves come short. 2. Not only our own case, as particular members, is to be sung; but in publick we take in the praises of the whole body. 3. That expression, Chap. 1. 6. Mine own Vineyard, &c. holds forth the sense she had of her negligence, not as if she had no way done her duty, but she confesseth her failings in it; which she sings to the praise of that free grace, that had pardoned her. Again, the other expression, Chap. 8. 12. My Vineyard which is mine, is before me, expresseth her sense of her sincerity, blessing God for it, and refreshing her self in the acknowledging of it: and both these may agree, as to some measure, in the Believers experience, at one and the same time; though, when the Believer sinneth more grostely, they do not so well agree to him, except in respect of different times and cases.

In praising then, we would neither simply look to our frame, nor to the matter in it self, which is to be sung, nor to the cases we are in, as if these were the warrand of our singing, or the rule to regul [...] [...]s in it; but unto these three things. 1. The end where [...]ore singing is appointed. 2. The command. 3. The no­tion [Page 51] or consideration, in respect of which, the Believer joyneth in the duty of praise.

The ends are principally three. 1. Glorifying God, and mak­ing his praise glorious: thus Histories of the Lords dealing with his people of old, and thus the cases of others, in our singing of them, serve to that end, that he did such works, that such a case was once sung to him, and such a Saint was so dealth with; other­wise, we might scruple to sing, Psal. 44. We have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, and other Scriptures, as well as cases: And so the most part of the subject of praise, and the Book of the Psalms, would be laid aside as uselesse, and not so much as to be read; for we ought not to read, or say an untruth, more then to sing it.

A second end is, edifying of others with whom we joyn, as well as studying edification our selves: So, Col. 3. 16. the end to be proposed in singing, is, teaching and admonishing one another, in Psalms, and Hymns, and spiritual Songs. And suppose, some found themselves unsutable in their own case, to the purpose that is to be sung, yet will it not teach them what they should be, and admonish them because they are not such?

A third end we are to aim at in singing, is our own chearing and refreshing, making melody in our hearts to the Lord, Eph. 5. 19. Which ariseth not alwayes from the matter simply considered, as it holds true in our own experience: But, 1. from our conscien­cious going about it, as a piece of worship to God, and so doing, we are accepted in that. 2. From the heartsomenesse of that soul-refreshing exercise of praise; and so that Scripture which might be more sadening in meditation to us, yet should be chearing in praise, because it's then used in that Ordinance. 3. From the possibility that is herein discovered, of attaining such a blessing, frame, or experience, because once a Saint did at­tain it: and since they were men of the like passions, and infirmi­ties with us, why may not we aim at, and hope to be made Saints of the like graces with them, since they were, what they were, by the grace of God? 4. From this, that it was once made good in another, which mercy should be a ground to us, to mention [Page 52] it to the Lords praise. 5. From it's being a part of Scripture, appointed for his praise, whither it agree with our case or not: That being the end wherefore it was designed to be sung, is a suf­ficient warrand, for our joyning in the singing thereof.

Secondly, We would consider the command we have, not on­ly to praise, but to praise in these words of David, and other Penmen of holy Psalms; for which cause, God hath furnished his Church with Songs (but not so with Forms of Prayers, to which he would have us astricted) and that for preventing doubts con­cerning the matter: For, 1. If God did propone these songs to be sung, then they are fit to praise him. 2. If he did allow none to sing them, but such as had no hesitation or scruple to assert them, with application to themselves; then, either never should they be sung, or never in publick: But, 3. Did he not appoint them to be used in David's time? And joyners then were not all of one size; Sure, they had never been committed to publick use, if none might have joyned in singing them, but these who could sing them from their own experience: Or, will a Believer be challenged for praising God, in the rule and words laid down by him? Certainly not: However he may be challenged, if he be not sutably affected in the singing of them.

Thirdly, We would consider the notion, or capacity under which Believers joyn in this duty; for they joyn either as parts of the whole Church, and so they go about their part of the duty of praise (as the matter holdeth true in any member indefinitely, even as they joyn in prayers) so being that which is sung, be allow­ed matter for that end: Or, they joyn as true Believers, and then what points out infirmity, they look on it as agreeing to their flesh; what points out sincerity, they as spiritual, though not perfect, joyn on that account in the thankfull acknowledging of it; what confesseth a sin, if guilty, they acknowledge it, if not, they blesse God they are preserved by grace, yet they are made to see their corruption, which hath the seed of that sin in it, and take warning; as in singing the 51 Psalm is requisit, when all are not under that guilt, which David there confesseth.

A fifth case in singing, which hath been matter of doubting to [Page 53] some, is, when they are put to sing with others, who possibly are strangers to God. Ans. Such may be cleared from this, that the Bride joyneth with the Daughters of Ierusalem, often they have a share in holding up this Song; so doth she go to the Watchmen, being willing to joyn with them who smote her: And certainly this and other Songs, being to be sung in publick in the Congre­gation, and suc [...] Congregation, as none will plead that it ought to have been separate from, it's clear they joyned, and that upon the account of the former grounds.

The second thing we are to observe for use, is from the com­mendation of this Song, being for it's excellency A Song of Songs: and it is this, that, the Believer hath the choisest [...]ong, and most excellent mirth in the world; not such songs or joy as the world hath, or giveth, Ioh. 14. [...]7. Yea, their songs, are such songs, as none can learn, but themselves, Rev. 14. 3. Ohow happy and chearful a life might a Believer have, if he did not sometime marr his own comfort! All is most excellent which he hath, his songs are so, for they have the most excellent subject, to wit, Christ, Psal. 45. and the most excellent grounds of rejoycing, and most solid; the largest, sweetest, and most comfortable allowance in the world. Considering all this Song together, though it hath sundry sad and perplexing cases, yet it is most excellent: Or, right thoughts of Christ, will make every condition sweet, and a song; Nothing will come wrong to a Believer, Christ, Christ maketh up all, and maketh all excellent: every condition with him is excellent; whoso covets him, coveteth what is best; whoso neglects him, neglects what is only worth the seeking, and what can only afford a song to the owner: And it is clearnesse in Christs worth, and an interest in him, that turns all conditions into a song.

Thirdly, From the Author (I mean the Penman) consider, that piety and tendernesse is not unbecoming, but is rather an ornament to the most noble, most rich, and most wise men in the world: It's a greater glory to Solomon, and a greater evidence of his eternal good condition, that he was acquainted with, and taken up in holy exercises, than that he was a King; yea, places, [Page 54] parts, riches, &c. are beautiful, when made subservient to piety; Piety maketh these to shine in Solomon: And the Spirit also maketh use of natural and moral wisdom, which the Lord had bestowed upon him, to set out deep mysteries in these writ­ings; which shews, that the Lord would have any measure of these gifts he hath bestowed on us, adorned with the exercise of grace, and made subservient to his glory. Also we may see here, that much businesse in mens common affairs, and a tender walk, are not inconsistent; if men would prudently manage their time, they might have accesse to their imployments, and keep a spiri­tual frame also, as Solomon, David and others did. It's our corruption, and not the multitude of lawfull imployments, that distracts us: David went home to blesse his own family, in the midst of publick affairs, 2 Sam. 6. 20.

Fourthly, From the consideration of the Penman, (stained with such faults) made use of, by God in the composition of this Song; we may observe, 1. That neither place, parts, nay, nor graces, will ex­empt any man from falling: O Believers, what need is there to be watchful and humble! May not these examples of David, Solomon, Peter, &c. lay your pride, and put you to your arms, and neces­sitate you to be upon your watch? Who of you, will claim to Solomon's knowledge, experience, or priviledges? Yet even he, the Penman of this sweet Scripture, had his affections to God cooled, and became an offence even to this day; what is spoken of his fearful backsliding and fall, being still a rock of offence, upon which many still break their necks? 2. There may be much corruption dwelling beside much light and grace, and yet, the one not fully put out, or extinguish the other. 3. Grace hath fitted and made use of many a knotty Tree for the Lords work; for what Solomon naturally hath been, may appear in his carriage (seing men's sinfull carriage and way, is but the product of the natural corruption that is in their heart) notwithstanding he is thus made use of. 4. Corruption mayly long under grace's feet, and grace may attain to a great height, and yet corruption may again strangely break out, and grace be brought very low: What knowledge had Solomon? What presence and clearnesse had he [Page 55] gotten by the Lord's appearing to him? What hearing of P [...]ayer? How usefull was he in God's work, in building the Temple, or­dering all the Levits, &c? and continued thus eminent for many years, even till he was well stricken in years, and then fell so foul­ly? How may this strike us with fear? It's much to win fair off the Stage, without a spot, Be humble, and he that standeth, let him take heed lest he fall. 5. Grace can wash foul spots out of Believers Garments, seing no question Solomon was washen; and as he was recovered, so grace is able to recover the Saints from their most dangerous a [...]d fearfull backslidings. 6. Sometime the Spirit will honour the Penmen of Holy Writ, by mentioning and recording their names, other times not; as is clear from some Books, unknown by whom they were written; the Lord doth in this according to his pleasure, and as he seeth it may tend to edification.

Vers. 2.‘Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better then Wine.’

Having spoken to the Title, we come now to the Song it self: which being by way of Conference, or Dialogue, we shall divide the several Chapters, according to the num­ber of the Speakers, and their several intercourses in speak­ing: And so in this Chap. we have 5. parts. In the 1. the Bride speaks to vers. 8. In the 2. the Bridegroom, to vers. 12. In the 3. the Bride again, to vers. 15. And 4. the Bridegroom speake, vers. 14. And lastly, the Bride, in the two last verses.

The Bride begins this sweet Conference, vers. 2. and continues to vers. 8. 1. She speaks to Christ, vers. 2, 3, 4. Then 2. to the Daughters of Ierusalem, vers. 5, 6. Lastly, she turns her self again to the Bridegroom, vers. 7.

In the first of these, there is, 1. Her aime and desire, by way [Page 56] of an earnest wish laid down, vers. 1. 2. The motives that stir up this desire in her, and whereby she presseth it on him, vers. 2, 3. 3. There is a formal Prayer set down, vers. 4. which is amplified in these three: 1. In the motive proposed. 2. In the answer ob­tained, and felt. 3. In the effects that followed on it.

Her great wish is, Let him kisse me with the kisses of his mouth. That it's the Bride that speaks, is clear; She begins, not because love ariseth first on her side (for here she begins, as having alrea­dy closed with him, and therefore she speaks to him, as one who knows his worth, and longs for the out-lettings of his love) but because such expressions of Christs love, as are to be found in this Song, whereby his complacency is vented and manifested towards us, doth first presuppose the working of love in us, and our ex­ercising of it on him, and then his delighting (that is, his ex­pressing his delight) in us: For although the man first suit the wife (and so Christ first sueth for his Bride) yet when persons are married, it's most suitable, that the wife should very pressingly long for, and expresse desire after the husband, even as the Bride doth here after Christ's kisses, and the expressions of his love. Of this order of Christ's love, see Chap. 8. Vers. 10.

In the words, consider 1. what she desires, and that is, the kisses of his mouth. 2. How she points Christ forth, by this signi­ficant demonstrative, Him. 3. Her abrupt manner of breaking out with this her desire, as one that had been dwelling on the thoughts of Christ, and feeding on his excellency; and therefore now she breaks out, Let him kisse me, &c. as if her heart were at her mouth, or would leap out of her mouth, to meet with his.

First, by kisses, we understand most lovely, friendly, familiar and sensible manifestations of his love; kisses of the mouth are so amongst friends, so it was betwixt Ionathan and David, and so it is especially betwixt Husband and Wife.

Next, there are several delightsome circumstances, that heighten the Brides esteem of this, the so much desired expression of his love. The 1. is implyed, in the person who is to kisse, it's Him, Let him kisse, He who is the most excellent and singular [Page 57] person in the world. The 2. is hinted in the party whom he is to kisse, it's me, Let him kisse me, a contemptible despicable creature; for so she was in her self, as appears from vers. 5, 6. yet this is the person, this love is to be vented on. 3. Where­with is he to kisse? It's with the kisses of his mouth; which we conceive is not only added as an Hebraism, like that expression, The words of his mouth, and such like phrases, but also to affect her self, by expressing fully what she breathed after, to wit, kisses, or love, which are the more lovely to her, that they come from his mouth, as having a sweetnesse in it (Chap. 5. 16.) above any thing in the world. That Christ's love hath such a sweetnesse in it, the reason subjoyned will clear, for thy love is, &c. That which is here kisses, is immediatly denominat loves; It is his love that she prized, and whereof kisses were but evidences.

They are kisses in the plural number, partly to shew how ma­ny ways Christ hath to manifest his love, partly to shew the con­tinuance and frequency of these manifestations, which she would be at: The thing which she here desires, is not love simply, but the sense of love; for she questioned not his love, but de­sired to have sensible expressions of it, and therefore compares it not only to looks, that she might see him, but to kisses; which is also clear from the reason annexed, while she compares his love to Wine.

Again, her manner of designing Christ, is observable, Him. It's a relative, where no antecedent goes before, yet certainly it looks to Christ alone, as the reasons shew; Here no rules of Art are kept, for love stands not on these: This manner of speak­ing is to be found also in Moral Authors, when one eminent is set forth, who is singularly known beside others, as having in the estimation of the speakers no match: So Pythagora's Schollars used to say of their Master, [...], He said it: And in Scripture, when the Saints speak of the Lord, they thus design him, because they are not afraid to be mistaken, Psal. 87. 1. His foundation, &c. and Isaiah 53. 2. He shall grow up like to a tender plant: This is neither for want of titles due to him, or rhetorick in her, but because in this manner of expression the Saints set forth, 1. Christ's [Page 58] singular excellency, which is such, that he hath no match, or equal, there is but one Him. 2. Their singular esteem of him, whatever others think. 1 Cor. 8. 6. To us there is but one Lord, Iesus: only Christ is esteemed of by them. 3. A constant and habitual thinking, and meditating on him; for though there be no connexion in the words expressed, yet what is expressed, may have, and hath connexion with the thoughts of her heart: and if all were seen that were within, it would be easily known what Him she meant: And so we are to gather it's dependence on the affection, and meditation it flows from, rather than from any preceeding words; for here there are none. 4. It's to shew, her thoughts of Christ were not limited, or stinted to her words, or her speaking of him: for though there be no words preceeding, to make known who this Him is, spoken of, yet we may well conceive her heart taken up with desire after him, and medita­tion on him: and so there is a good coherence, Let him, that is, Him I have been thinking on, Him whom my soul desires, he only whom I esteem of, and who hath no equal, &c. This so [...]t of abruptnesse of speech, hath no incongruity in spiritual re­thorick.

Whence we may observe, 1. That Christ hath a way of commu­nicating his love, and the sense of it to a Believer, which is not common to others. 2. That this is the great scope and desire of a Believer, if they had their choise, it's to have sensible com­munion with Christ: This is their one thing, Psal. 27. 4. It's the first and last suit of this Song, and the voice of the Spirit and Bride, and the last Prayer that is in the Scripture, Rev. 22. 17. 3. That Believers can discern this fellowship (it's so sweet and sensible) which is to be had with Jesus Christ. 4. That they have an high esteem of it, as being a special signification of his love. 5. That much inward heart-fellowship with Christ, hath suitable outward expressions flowing from it. 6. That Believers in an habitual walk with Christ, will be abrupt in their suits to him, sometimes meditating on him, sometimes praying to him. 7. That where Christ is known, and rightly thought of, there will be no equal to him in the heart.

2. In the next place, she lays down the motives that made [Page 59] her so desire this; which are rather to set forth Christ's excel­lency, to strengthen her own faith, and warm her own love in pursuing after so concerning a suit, than from any fear she had of being mistaken by him, in being as it were, so bold and home­ly with him in her desires. 1. The reason is generally propo­sed, vers. 2. and inlarged and confirmed, vers. 3. The sum of it is, Thy love is exceeding excellent, and I have more need, and greater esteem of it, than of any thing in the world, therefore I seek after it, and hope to attain it.

There are four words here to be cleared, 1. Thy loves (so it is in the Original in the plural number) Christ's love is some­times (as the love of God) taken essentially, as an attribute in him, which is himself, God is love, 1 Ioh. 4. 8. Thus the Lord, in his love, is the same in all times. 2. For some effect of that love, when he doth manifest it to his people, by conferring good on them, and by the sensible intimations thereof to them: So it is, Ioh. 14. 21, 23. We take it in the last sense here; for she was in Christ's love, but desired the manifestations of it; and it is by these that his love becomes sensible and refreshfull to Believers. It's Loves in the plural number, although it be one infinite foun­tain in God, to shew how many ways it vented, or how many ef­fects that one love produced, or what esteem she had of it, and of the continuance and frequency of the manifestations thereof to her; this one love of his, was, as many loves.

The second word to be cleared, is Wine. Wine is chearing to men, Psal. 104. 15. and makes their heart glad: under it here is understood, what is most chearing and comfortable in it's use to men.

3. Christ's love is better, 1. Simply in it self, it's most excel­lent. 2. In it's effects, more exhilarating, chearing and re­freshing. And, 3. in her esteem, to me (saith she) it's better; I love it, prize it, and esteem it more, as Psal. 4. 8, 9. Thereby thou hast made my heart more glad, &c. This his love is every way preferable, to all the most chearing and refreshing things in the world.

4. The inference, for, is to be considered: It sheweth that these words are a reason of her suit, and so the sense runs thus, be­cause [Page 60] thy love is of great value, and hath more comfortable ef­fects on me, than the most delightsome of creatures, therefore let me have it. Out of which reasoning we may see, what mo­tives will have weight with Christ, and will sway with sincere souls in dealing with him, for the intimation of his love; for, the love of Christ, and the sweetnesse and satisfaction that is to be found in it, is the great prevailing motive, that hath weight with them: And sense of the need of Christ's love, and esteem of it, and delight in it alone, when no creature-comfort can afford re­freshing, may, and will warrand poor hungry and thirsty souls, to be pressing for the love of Christ, when they may not be without it. Which shews,

1. That a heart that knows Jesus Christ, will love to dwell on the thoughts of his worth, and to present him often to it self, as the most ravishing object, and will make use of pressing motives and arguments, to stir up it self to seek after the intimations of his love. 2. That the more a soul diveth in the love of Christ, it's the more ravished with it, and presseth, yea, panteth the more after it: It was Him before, Let him kisse me, as being some­thing afraid to speak to him; it's now, Thou, Thy love, &c. as being more inflamed with love, since she began to speak, and therefore more familiarly bold, in pressing her suit upon him. 3. The exercise of love strengthens faith; and contrarily, when love wears out of exercise, faith dieth: These graces stand and fall together, they are lively and languish together. 4. Where Christ's love is seriously thought of, and felt, created consolations will grow bare, and lose all relish; Wine, and the best of crea­ture-comforts, will lose their savour and sweetnesse with such a soul, when once it is seen how good he is. 5. An high esteem of Christ, is, no ill argument in pressing for, and pursuing after his presence; for, to these that thus love and esteem him, he will manifest himself, Ioh. 14. 21, 23. 6. Where there hath been any taste of Christ's love, the soul cannot endure to want it, it cannot enjoy it self, if it do not enjoy him; This is the cordial that cheareth it in any condition, and maketh every bitter thing sweet.

Vers. 3.‘Because of the savour of thy good Ointments, thy name is as Ointment poured forth, therefore do the Virgins love thee.’

The second reason (which is also a confirmation and in­largement of the former) is vers. 3. and it runs upon these supposed and implyed grounds. 1. That there are many precious excellencies in Christ. So that, 2. the speaking of his Name, is as if a man would open a sweet favou [...]ing Box of Ointment, as that woman did, Ioh. 12. 3. There is no title, or office, or qualification in Christ, but all are savoury; his very Garments smell of Myrrhe, and Aloes, and Cassia, &c. Psal. 45 8. 3. It suppons that this worth and lovelinesse of Christ, ravishes all that ever knew him (here called Virgins) with love to him: and therefore (which is the strength of the reason) it's no mar­vell, would she say, I love him so servently, and desire so ear­nestly the manifestations of his love, which I have sound so sweet.

So the vers. may be taken up in these four things. 1. Christs furniture, he hath many savoury Ointments, and good. 2. The further explication, and amplification of this his commendation, expressing both what she meant by Ointments, and also the abun­dance and freshnesse of these Ointments, which were in Christ; in these words, thy name is as Ointment poured forth. 3. The effect that [...]ollowed on these, or the attractive vertue of them, which is such, that the most chast, who kept their affections from other objects, are yet without prejudice to their chast nature, taken up and ravished with that lovelinesse of Christ: Therefore (saith she) do the Virgins love thee. 4. There is the scope, which is partly to shew the reality of Christ's worth, which not only she, but all Believers were in love with; partly to shew, that it was no strange thing, to see her so taken up with him, it would be rather [Page 62] strange if it were other-ways; seing it is not possible for any to see and taste what Christ is, and not be ravished with his love.

Ointments are both of an adorning, and refreshing nature, especially to the sense of smelling, Psal. 104. 15. Ointment makes mens face to shine, and the house where it is, to savour, when it is precious and good, Ioh. 12. 3. Men in vanity use sweet Powders, and such things as these, which can but little commend them; But Christ's Ointments are his graces, Psal. 45. 2. wherewith he is anointed, for opening the blind eyes, for preaching glad tidings to the poor, to bind up the broken-hearted, to give the oyl of joy for mourning, &c. as it is, Isa. 61. 1, 2, 3. Which qualifications, are both more delightsome and savoury in themselves, and to the soul that is sensible of it's need of him, than any Ointments the high Priest of old used, which were but typical of the graces and qualifications wherewith Christ is furnished: Hence is the Go­spel, 2 Cor. 2. 14, 15. (whereby these graces are manifested) cal­led a sweet savour.

Again, these Ointments are said to be good: so are they in their nature, and in their effects on sinners, as is clear from Isa. 61. 1, 2, &c. And 2. they are said to savour, the sent and smell of them, is sweet and refreshful to the spiritual senses. And 3. they are called his, (thy good Ointments:) They are his, not only as he is God, having all-sufficiency essentially in him, but as Mediator, having purchased eternal redemption, and having the Spirit without measure communicat to him, Ioh. 3. 34: and in that respect, anointed with the oyl of gladnesse above his fellows, Psal. 45. 7. that out of his fulnesse, we might all receive grace for grace, Joh. 1. 14. Our graces being of that same nature, that his are of. It's comfortable, that Christ hath many good Ointments; that they are his own, and that he hath the right of disposing of them, and that as Mediator, they are given unto him for that very purpose.

Observ. 1. Grace is a cordial and savoury thing, no Ointment is like it. 2. Christ abounds in grace, he is full of grace and truth, Ioh. 1. 14. Hence our wants are said to be made up, according to his riches in glory, by Iesus Christ, Phil. 4. 19. 3. They are good [Page 63] and excellent graces and qualifications, wherewith the Mediator is furnished; such as do exactly answer all the necessities and wants of empty and needy sinners.

2. The commendation is explicat, or illustrat by a similitude: The thing she explains, and which she understood by Ointments, is his Name; The similitude whereby it is illustrate, is, Oint­ment poured forth. Christ's Name is himself, or the knowledge of himself, or every thing whereby himself is made known, his Attributes, Word, Works, especially these of Redemption, his Ordinances, Covenant, Promises, &c. which are all his Name (for so the Preaching of the Gospel is called the bearing of his Name, Act. 9. 15. and making known, or declaring of his Name, Psal. 22. 22. Heb. 2. 12. &c.) This is the thing illustrat. Now this Name is compared, not to Ointment simply, as sealed up in a Box, but to Ointment as poured forth and diffused. Where­by, 1. the abundance of these graces is holden forth, there is no scarcity of them in him. 2. His liberality in communicating of them, he pours them out, as one opening a Box of Ointment, should so diffuse and distribute it. 3. By this is set out, the lively savourinesse of his graces; they savour not only as Oint­ment closed up, but as Ointment diffused. In a word, there is nothing in Christ (for whatever is in him, is comprehended un­der his Name) but the unfolding of it will be more refreshful, and abundant in spiritual delights, than if men would break and open many Boxes of costly Ointments, and pour them all out on others.

Observ. 1. Believers are not soon satisfied in taking up, or ex­pressing of Christ's worth. 2. Christ and all that is in him, is as full of spiritual life and refreshing, as a Box that is full of the most precious Ointment: Christ is well stored with grace, it is poured into his lips, Psal. 45. 2. 3. This savour of Christ's graces is not felt by every one, the Box of his Ointments is not open to all, but only to some, and that is to them that believe; for to them he is precious, and every thing that is in him, is most cordial and savoury to the Believer. 4. The more Christ and his worth be enquired into, it will savour the better, and be the more re­freshfull [Page 64] (for it's his Name which is this Ointment) Christ in his excellent worth, through men's strangenesse to him, is unknown in the world; they do not enquire into this savoury Name, but if he were once known, they would find that in him, that would make them give over their other unprofitable pursuits, and pant after him.

The effect of these his Ointments (which is a proof of the reality of this truth, and the third thing in the vers.) is in these words, Therefore the Virgins love thee. By Virgins here, are not un­derstood bare Professors, but sincere Believers, who are not counterfeit in their affection, nor so common in their love, as to bestow it on any creature whorishly, but who reserve it for Christ only: So the Church is called, 2 Cor. 11. 2. A chast Virgin; And so these who were kept unspotted, and sealed for the Lord, Rev. 14. 4, 5. are called Virgins. They are here called Virgins, in the plural number, because this denomination belongs to all Believers, distributively, and in particular. They are said to love Christ, that is, whatever others do, who have no spiritual senses, and whose example is not to be regarded; yet these (saith she) desire thee only, and delight in thee only: and this differenceth true Virgins from others.

If it be asked, whether that be single love, which loves Christ for his Ointments? We answer, Christ's Ointments may be two ways considered, 1. As they make himself lovely and desirable; so we may, and should love him, because he is a most lovely ob­ject, as being so well qualified and furnished. 2. As by these, many benefits are communicat to us; thus we ought to love him for his goodnesse to us, although not principally, because no ef­fect of that love is fully adequat, and comparable to that love in him, which is the fountain, from which these benefits flow; yet, this love is both gratitude and duty, taught by Nature, and no mercenary thing, when it is superadded to the former. Hence observe,

1. All have not a true esteem of Christ, though he be most ex­cellently lovely: for, it's the Virgins only that love him. 2. There be some that have an high esteem of him, and are much taken [Page 65] with the savoury Ointments, and excellent qualifications where­with he is furnished. 3. None can love him and other things excessively also; they who truly love him, their love is reserved for him, therefore they are called Virgins: It is but common love, and scarce worth the naming, that doth not single out it's object from all other things. 4. They who truly love him, are the choise and waill of all the world beside; their example is to be followed, and weight laid on their practice (in the essenti­als of spiritual communion) more than on the examples of Kings, Schollars, or Wise-men: So doth she reason here from the Vir­gins, and passeth what others do. 5. True chast love to Christ, is a character of a Virgin-believer, and agrees to them all, and to none other. 6. The love that every Believer hath to Christ, is a proof of his worth; and will be either a motive to make us love him, or an aggravation of our neglect.

Vers. 4.‘Draw me, we will run after thee: the King hath brought me into his cham­bers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more then Wine: the upright love thee.’

Being now more confirmed in her desire, from the reasons she hath laid down, she comes in the 4. vers. more directly to pro­pound and presse her suit: for, rational insisting upon the grounds of grace, in pressing a petition, both sharpens desire, and strengthens the soul with more vigour and boldnesse, to pursue it's desires by Prayer. In the words we may consider, 1. the pe­tition. 2. The motive made use of to presse it. 3. The an­swer, or grant of what was sought. 4. The effects of the an­swer following on her part, suitable some-way to her ingage­ment.

[Page 66] The petition is, Draw me, a word used in the Gospel, to set forth the efficacious work of the Spirit of God upon the heart, ingaging the soul in a most sweet, powerful and effectual way to Jesus Christ: None can come to me (saith Christ) except the Fa­ther draw him, Joh. 6. 44. It is used here, to set forth the Brides desire to be brought into fellowship with Christ, by the power of this same Spirit, that as she desires a visit from Christ, so she desires his Spirit, that he may by his powerful operations draw her near to him. And although a Believer be not at a total di­stance with Christ, and so needs not renovation, as one in nature doth; yet considering what a Believer may fall into, a deadnesse of frame, as to the lively exercise of grace, and a great distance, as to any sensible sweet communion with Jesus Christ, and that it must be by the power of that same Spirit (without which even these that are in Christ can do nothing) that they must be reco­vered, and again brought to taste of the joy of his salvation (as is clear from David's prayer, Psal. 51. 10. to have a clean heart created in him, &c. See vers. 12. of that Psalm.) And that there are degrees of communion with him, and nearnesse to him, none of which can be win at without the Spirit's drawing, more then being made near at the first in respect of state: I say, all these things being considered, it's clear, that this petition is very per­tinent, even to the Bride, and doth import these particulars: 1. A distance, or ceasing of correspondence for a time, and in part, betwixt Ch [...]ist and her. 2. Her sense and resentment of it, so that she cannot quietly rest in it, being much unsatisfied with her present case. 3. An esteem of Christ and union with him, and a desire to be near, even very near him; which is the scope of her petition, to be drawn unto him, that she may have (as it were) her head in his bosome. 4. A sense of self-insufficiency, and that she had nothing of her own to help her to this nearnesse, and so a denying of all ability for that in her self. 5. A general faith, that Christ can do what she cannot do, and that there is help to be gotten from him (upon whom the help of his people is laid) for acting spiritual life, and recovering her to a condition of near­ness with himself. 6. An actual putting at him (so to speak) and [Page 67] making use of him by faith, for obtaining from him, and by him, quickening, efficacious and soul-recovering influences, which she could not otherwise win at. 7. Diligence in Prayer, she prays much, and cryes for help when she can do no more.

The motive whereby she presseth this petition, is, We will run after thee: wherein we are to consider these three things, 1. What this is, to run; which is, in short, to make progresse Christ-ward, and advance in the way of holinesse, with chearful­nesse and alacrity (having her heart lifted up in the wayes of the Lord) for, the Believers life is a race, Heaven is the prize, 1 Cor. 9. 24. and Philip. 3. 13, 14, &c. and the graces and influences of the Spirit, give legs, strength and vigour to the inner-man to run, as wind doth to a ship, to cause her make way; as it's Psal. 119. 32. Then I shall run the way of thy commandments when thou shalt inlarge my heart, which is, on the matter, the same with drawing here. And this running is opposed to deadnesse, or slowness in her progresse before; Now (saith she) I make no way, but draw me, and we shall go swiftly, speedily, willingly and chearfully. Hence we may gather,

First, That often when there is desertion as to Christ's pre­sence, there is an up-sitting in duty and the exercise of grace. 2. That bonds in duty are as observable and heavy to Believers, as want of comfort. 3. That there is in them an high estimati­on, and a serious desire of inlargement in duty, or of liberty to run in the way of God's Commandments. 4. This desire is ve­ry acceptable with Jesus Christ, and therefore is made use of as a motive in pressing her petition before him: he takes it well, when a Believer is like to ly by and sit up, that he look up to him, and pray and pant for help, to set him to his feet again.

2. Consider why the person is changed, Draw me (saith she) and we shall run: If we take the Church collectively under me, then we, will set out the particular members: And it is this much, do me good, or pour thy Spirit on the Church, and we shall run in our stations who are members: It's the better with all the members, when it's well with the Church in general. But it would seem to look to particular Believers, the effect of drawing [Page 68] being most proper and peculiar on them: and so it's to be un­derstood thus, If thou wilt draw me, and by the power of thy grace worke effectually upon me, then many moe shall get advan­tage by it: which holds true, partly, by reason of the sympathy that is amongst the members of that one body; partly, because a work of grace fits, and engages one the more to be forth-com­ing for the good of others; partly, because of the influence which livelinesse in one, may have upon the quickning and stirring up of others; even as often, when deadnesse begins in one, it leaveneth and infecteth moe; so by God's blessing may livelinesse do. This same argument is made use of by David, Psal. 91. when he is dealing for the establishment and liberty of God's Spi­rit, then (saith he) vers. 12, 13. I will teach sinners thy way, and they shall be converted unto thee. He was not only purposed to stir up himself, and walk tenderly in the strength he should re­ceive, but that he would lay out himself for the good of others, and he promised himself successe therein through the grace of God. And so Ioshua, 24. 15. I and my house will serve the Lord: which speaks, that his serving the Lord, would have influence upon his house. Experience doth often make out, that a lively soul in a Congregation, or Family, will readily occasion and provoke others, to stir and seek with them.

3. The force of the reason, in the connexion it hath with the petition, imports, 1. That she was much in love with holinesse, and had an ardent desire after more of it. 2. That she resolved to improve her recepts, for the edification of others. 3. That these designs were very acceptable to Christ. 4. That except she were drawn, she would come short of both. 5. A chearful in­gaging to be forth-coming to his honour and the good of others, and to undertake what he shall call to, and fit for; These go well together, that when we see and are sensible, that we of our selves, as of our selves, can do nothing, 2 Cor. 3. 5. yet we may humbly ingage, to do all things through Christ strengthning us: In a word, I have need (would she say) to be drawn, if holinesse be needful; and I hope, thou who respects holinesse in me and others of thy people, will grant what I seek. Her ingaging to run, [Page 69] if he would draw, is no vain undertaking; but a humble pres­sing motive, holding forth some sincerity given from him, but no ability in her self, but as he who hath given her to will, must also work in her to do.

The third thing in the vers. is, the return or grant of this suit; The King (saith she) hath brought me into his Chambers; He hath indeed brought me where I was desirous to be. The words, he hath brought me, being compared with the petition, draw me, and the effects following, whereby she changeth from praying to praising, and that with expressions holding forth a kind of surprisal, do evidence this to be a real return to her prayer, and a comfortable alteration upon, and change in her condition.

In this answer, consider, 1. what she receives, a noble privi­ledge; she is admitted into the King's Chambers, to nearnesse with him, which she longed-for, and now she hath it. Cham­bers are the most intimat places of familiar fellowship, especially with Kings, where none but Courtiers indeed come. They were the place where the Bridegroom and the Bride rejoiced together; and it hath a tacit opposition to a salutation by the way, or ad­mission to outer rooms, this to which she is admitted, is more, yet is it something here-away attainable; which we conceive, is the injoying of that love she formerly sought-for, and which af­terward she ingageth to remember, as having now obtained it. In a word, she is where she would be, as the effects shew.

2. Consider who brought her into these Chambers; it's the King, even him she prayed unto, to draw her, he hath heard her: This King (as being the chief of all that ever bare that name) is called the King, by way of eminency; And so, Psal. 45. 1, 2. and Zech. 4. 9. he is not only King, and Supream as God, having the same essential dominion with the Father, over all the Creatures; but also, (which is here especially meant) as Mediator, he is a King by donation, Psal. 2. 6, 7. and also by conquest, having pur­chased his Kingdom with his blood, and by the power of his spi­ritual Arms that are effectual upon the hearts of sinners, brings them to subject to him, Psal. 45. 5. So he confesseth himself to [Page 70] be a King before Pontius Pilate, Ioh. 18. 36, 37. although his Kingdom be not of this world. It's he, who by his blood hath made accesse for Believers to nearnesse with God, as it is, Eph. 2. 18. through that new and living way, Heb. 10. 19, 20. so that she may well say, he brought her in. She attributes this to him ex­presly, 1. For his commendation, and to give him the acknow­ledgment due to him in this work, which would never have been wrought without him: All nearnesse and accesse to God, all pro­gresse in holinesse, and comfort in duties, should not only be sought by, and from Christ; but he acknowledged for these, and the praise of them returned to him.

2. She observes the return of her prayer, and his readinesse to be intreated, I prayed to him to draw (saith she) and he did it effectually; he drew me, and brought me into the Chambers. Here we may see, 1. Christ is easily intreated, Isa. 65. 24. Before they call, I will answer. 2. Believers should observe returns of prayer, and blesse Christ for them. 3. She acknowledgeth he had brought her into the Chambers, to magnifie and to commend the mercy the more: It's the greater honour, that not only she is there, but that the King himself (like the Prodigal's father) met her, and took her in: Christs convoy is much worth, and sinners may hazard forward with it, and not despair of accesse. 4. She at­tributes it to him, that she may keep mind of his grace, whereby she stands and injoyes these priviledges; and that she may be still humble under them, as having none of these from her self: It is much, under sense and a fair gale of flowing love, to carry even, and to be humble: And it's rare to be full of this new Wine, and bear it well.

3. Consider the importance of the word in the Original, it is here translated, he brought me in, as it's Chap. 2. vers. 4. but the word in that Conjugation, in which it is used in the first Language, signifieth, he made me come, or go in; implying, 1. A [...]ort of aversness, and inability in her self. 2. Many difficulties in the way. 3. An efficacious work overcoming all these, and effectually bring­ing her over all, as the same word is used, Psal. 78. 71. where [Page 71] God's bringing David from the fold to be King, over so many difficulties, is spoken of.

The last thing in the verse is, the effect following on this her admission, which is both exceeding great spiritual cheerfulnesse in her self, and gladnesse of heart also in others, whereby both her own, and their hea [...]ts were much inlarged in duty, as she under­took (and therefore the person from me to we is changed again) for before, (she saith) he brought me, &c. but now, we will be glad, &c. The effects, by way of gratitude, are in two expres­sions, 1. We will rejoyce and be glad in thee. And 2. We will remember thy love more then Wine: And as she took her motive, while she desired Christ's love, from that esteem which all Belie­vers (under the Title of Virgins) had of it; so now, having ob­tained what she sought, she confirms her estimation of that in­joyment, from the experience of the same Believers, under the name of upright; that by such an universal testimony in both assertions, she might the more confirm her saith anent the reality of Christs worth, seing her esteem of him did flow from no delud­ed sense in her, but was built on such solid reasons, as she durst appeal to the experience of all Believers, who thought Christ well worthy the loving: And so this is not only brought in here to shew the nature of Believers, whose disposition inclines them na­tively to love Christ, but also to shew the excellent lovelinesse of Christ, as an object worthy to be loved, in the conviction of all that ever knew him. The first expression holds forth a warm change upon her affections; no sooner is she admitted into the Chambers, but she cryeth out, O we will rejoyce and be glad in thee. Where, 1. Ye have her exercise and frame, it's to rejoyce and be glad; cheerfulnesse and joy, disposing the heart to praise, are sometimes called-for as well as Prayer. If we look on this joy as it stands here, It says, 1. There are degrees and steps in Communion with Christ; and the Saints are sometimes admitted to higher degrees thereof, than at other times: Sure, it is a heartsome life to be near Christ and in his Chambers. 2. This joy, and that nearnesse with Christ, which is the ground of it, are both often the effect of Prayer, and follows upon it, when Faith [Page 72] is in a lively way exercised in that duty. 3. That Faith exercised on Christ, can make a sudden change to the better in a Belie­vers case, Psal. 30. 6, 7, &c. 4. That a Believer should observe the changes of Christ's dispensations, the returns of their own prayers, and be suitably affected with them, whether he delay the answer, or give them a present return.

The 2. thing in the expression, is the object of this joy; it's in thee, not in Corn or Wine, not in their present sense, but in him as the Author of their present comfortable condition, and as being himself their happinesse, even in their greatest enjoyments, according to that word, 1 Cor. 1. 31. Let him that rejoiceth, re­joice in the Lord: and this qualifies joy, and keeps it from dege­nerating into carnal delight, when he that rejoiceth, rejoiceth in the Lord; and it is a good character to try such joy with, as may warrantably passe under that name of the joy of the Lord, and as will have that effect with it, to strengthen us in his way, Neh. 8. 10.

3. We may consider a twofold change of the number in the Brides speaking; it's We, which was Me: The King brought me, said she, but now We will rejoice. The reasons were given on the petition; and further, we may add here, that it's to shew her being conform in her practice to her undertaking; and to shew that that admission of hers redounded to the good of moe, and ought to take them up in praise with her. The other change of the person is, from the third to the second, from He, the King, to Thee in the second Person, (we will rejoice in Thee) which shews a holy complacency and delight, sometimes making her to speak of him, sometimes to him, yet so, as she loves to have Christ both the object and subject of her discourse, and the more he be to her, she is the more satisfied: This being another character of spiritual joy, and exulting in Christ, it still makes him to be the more to them, and they are still pressing under it, to be the nearer to him.

The 2. effect is, We will remember thy love more then Wine: What is understood by Love and Wine, as also, why the number is changed from the singular to the plural, hath been formerly [Page 73] cleared. The word Remember, doth import these three things, 1. A thankful acknowledgment of the favour received, and a mak­ing of it to be remembred to his praise; this remembring is op­posite to forgetting, Psal. 103. 2. From which we may observe two things, 1. The acknowledgment of the mercies we have re­ceived, is a necessary piece of the duty of praise; They will ne­ver praise for a mercy, who will not acknowledge they have re­ceived it: forgetfulnesse and unbelief doth much marr praise. 2. They that pray most for any mercy, will most really praise when it's received; and this last is a duty as well as the former, but is not made conscience of, nor suitably performed, but by hearts that acknowledge God's goodnesse to themselves. 2. It imports, a recording of this experience of God's goodnesse, for her own profit for the time to come: Thus every manifestation of his grace, is to be kept as an experience for afterward, when that frame may be away, and he may hide his face, whereupon there will follow a change in the Believers frame: It's good keep­ing the impression of his kind manifestations still upon the heart; So the Psalmist endeavoured, Psal. 119. 93. I will never forget thy precepts, for with them thou hast quickned me. 3. It imports, the doing of both these with delight, we will remember thy love (saith she) more then wine, that is, the thoughts of Christ's love doth and shall relish more sweetly, than wine, or any comforts amongst creatures; the very thoughts of it are, and will be so cordial and refreshful.

The last expression, the upright love thee, is added for confir­mation, as was said on vers. 3. and may be lookt upon, as brought in by way of obviating an objection; who (might it be said to the Bride) will so rejoice in Christ with thee? She answers, what­ever the most part of the world do, yet these who have spiritual senses, love Christ as I do. The difference betwixt this and the former expression in the end of the third vers. is in two: 1. Though the persons be the same, yet she gives them different styles; There she calls them Virgins, as being chast in their love, not joyning themselves to idols, nor going a-whoring after creatures; here she calls them upright, as being sincere, neither dissemblers, [Page 74] nor hypocrites, but such as were really that which they appeared to be, having a practice suitable to their profession; such was Iob, Job 1. 1. An upright man; such was Nathanael, Joh. 1. 47. An Israelite indeed: These have not double ends, nor double hearts, but are straight, and may abide the touch-stone, their practice being, their very heart turned outward. The other dif­ference is in the scope, formerly they were brought in, as being desirous of Christ, as she was; here as delighted with Christ when he is injoyed, both go together: And whoever are desirous after him, will be delighted in him, while present, and afflicted for, and affected with, his absence: In both she evidenceth a suitablenesse in her frame to the generation of God's people, and [...]ares not from whom she differ, if she be conform to them.

Observ. 1. Where there is love to Christ, there is sincerity in practice; neither is there true love to be found in any hypocrite; for, sincerity and love to Christ go together. 2. Sincerity is a character of a Virgin and true Believer: If we would know who are the Virgins spoken of, vers. 3. she tells us here, they are the upright. 3. All who are sincere or upright, come-in in one cate­gory and reckoning; they are all of the same spiritual nature or disposition, and what may be said of one of them (as to that) may be said of them all. 4. God reckons Believers, not by the degree of their progresse, but by the kind and nature of their walk, if it be sincere or not, that is, if they be straight as to their ends, motives, and manner in duties, or not. 5. These cha­racters which agree in common to Believers as such, and these cases which agree with the ordinary way of all the Saints in Scrip­ture, are solid, and weight may be laid upon them in concluding our sincerity, or the goodnesse of our state; but peculiar evi­dences, or singular experience would not be leaned unto in that, as if our uprightnesse, or the goodnesse of our state could not be made out without these, wherein possibly an hypocrite can go near­er to resemble a child of God, than in that which is more ordi­nary to Saints, as such.

Vers. 5.‘I am black, but comely, O ye Daugh­ters of Ierusalem, as the Tents of Kedar, as the Curtains of Solomon.
Vers. 6.‘Look not upon me because I am black, because the Sun hath looked upon me: my mothers children were angry with me, they made me the keeper of the Vineyards, but mine own Vineyard have I not kept.’

In the 5. and 6. verses, we have the second piece of the Brides first discourse, and it is the speech she hath to the Daughters of Jerusalem: wherein, vers. 5. she gives a description of her self; then vers. 6. applyes and clears it, for some edifying use unto these beginners.

For clearing of this place, let us 1. see, who these Daughters of Jerusalem are. 2. What is the scope of these words. 3. What is their dependence upon, and connexion with the former. 4. What is more particularly the meaning of them.

By Daughters of Ierusalem in common, are certainly under­stood professors, members of the Church; and so born in, and belonging unto Jerusalem; but because there are members of se­veral sorts, some strong, some weak, some sound, some unsound, some tender, some prophane; we must inquire a little further who are meant by these Daughters of Jerusalem, they being often mentioned in this Song.

First, We look on them as distinct from mothers children, men­tioned in the following verse, as a party different from the Daugh­ters [Page 76] here spoken to; and so they are not to be accounted amongst the prophane imbittered heart-enemies of Godlinesse, who yet live in the Church: They are not the worst then of them that are in the visible Church. 2. We take them also as distinguished from the Virgins and upright, who loved and delighted in Christ in the former vers. For, chap. 5. 8, 9. and 6. 1. we will find them very ignorant of Christ, although they have some affection. In a word, we take them to include two sorts of Professors: 1. Such as are weak and scarcely formed, yet are docile, and respective to outward Ordinances, and Godlinesse in the practice of it: So their respect to the Bride, and the question propounded by them, chap. 5. 9. doth clear. 2. They comprehend such as are formed Believers, really honest, and who have some sound beginnings, yet mixed with much weaknesse, ignorance and infirmity, and so not come up the length of grown Christians; such who need milk, and cannot indure strong meat; so their question and undertak­ing, chap. 6. 1. doth evidence; they were Daughters, while yet they were really very ignorant of Christ, and were ready to provoke him before he pleased, (as the often repeated charge the Bride gives them throughout this Song imports) and they were Daughters still, even after they were something better taught and ingaged. We find, 1 Ioh. 2. 13. the Apostle speaks of three sorts, 1. Fathers, that are grown Believers, rich in experience, such we esteem to be understood by the Bride in this Song. 2. Young-men, who are strong, well-advanced Believers, such were the Virgins and upright here made mention of. A 3. sort are styled little Children, that is, some who (as it were) are yet on the Breasts, and that in knowledge, practice, or experience, had not come to a consistence, or to have their senses exercised to know good or evil, as it is, Heb. 5. 14. such we account these Daughters of Jerusalem, and so may comprehend under them Professors, who stand not in the way of their own edification, though they be weak.

2. The scope of her discourse to them, is to prevent their stumbling at the Crosse, or being deterred from godlinesse, be­cause of any blacknesse or spots that were to be seen in her; it [Page 77] being a great stumbling to weak Professors, to see sufferings ac­company tendernesse (especially when it is persecuted, and pursued by professors of the same truth) as also, to see infirmities and sinful blemishes in persons eminently Godly: Now her scope is, for their edification, to condescend to satisfie them in both.

3. The reason why she breaks in with this discourse, upon the back of the former (which shews the connexion) may be two-fold, 1. To remove an objection that might be made, if any should say, What needs all this rejoicing? Are ye not both stained with sin, and blackned with suffering? She answers by a distin­ction, granting that in part she was black, and that was truth, yet that blacknesse was not inconsistent with comlinesse, which she clears, and that therefore she might in part rejoice also. The other way that this depends on the former is, that she may fur­ther her project of ingaging others to rejoice with her, she en­deavours to remove these two occasions of stumbling (taken from the failings and sufferings of the Godly) out of the way of weak Professors, that she may get them alongst with her; and so it a­grees well with the scope.

4. More particularly consider the words, wherein she endea­vours to satisfie these doubts, and ye will find these things in them. 1. She conceds what is truth. 2. Qualifies it by a di­stinction. 3. Illustrates it. And these three are in the 5. vers. (4.) In vers. 6. She applyes it. And 5. more particularly explicats it. First then (saith she) I answer, by conceding what is truth, I am black, both with crosses and corruptions, that cannot be denyed. 2. She qualifies her concession, though I be black, yet I am comely, that is, I am not universally or altogether un­lovely, mine estate is mixed, being made up of crosses and comforts, corruptions and graces, beauty and blacknesse. 3. She illustrates this description of her self, or her mixed condition, by two similitudes, both tending to one thing, or one of them ten­ding to set forth her blacknesse, the other her beauty. I am (saith she) like the Tents of Kedar, which were blackish, and of no great value, being, by these who lived in them, so frequently trans­ported in such hot countreys; this sets forth her blacknesse. The [Page 78] 2. similitude is, that she was like the Curtains of Solomon: he built glorious dwellings, and being a rich King, no question had rich Hangings; this sets forth her beauty: as if she would say, ye must not judge of my worth from one side, especially my out­side, or upon one consideration, for I have in me, both to humble and comfort me. It may be also, though these Tents of Kedar were not outwardly beautiful, yet they were within well furnish­ed; and that the Curtains of Solomon which were most rich, had outer coverings of smaller value, as the Tabernacle had of Badgers skins; and so the similitudes illustrate her condition, and sets out the thing more to the life, as Kedar's Tents (saith she) look poor and base-like, yet if ye look within, they are glorious; so think not strange, if I appear without beauty to the eye, there may be, yea, there is comelinesse within, if ye could discern it, for within the Kings daughter is all glorious, Psal. 45. 13. which way of distinguishing, is a notable piece of spiritual wisdom and learn­ing, and a great mean of peace in our selves; when what is true of our infirmities, is acknowledged, and yet the conclusion that tentation would infer, is denyed. Here observe, 1. The con­ditions of Believers, even the best of them are mixed of good and ill, sin and grace, comfortable priviledges and sad sufferings. 2. There is a mixture of blacknesse in Believers beauty, even in their best frame and condition, for she is now in the King's Chamber, and yet we find her saying, I am black. 3. Believers, if they would consider what they are rightly, they would look on them­selves as having contraries in them. 4. Where challenges are just and well grounded, they should be acknowledged, and taken with. 5. It is wisdom so to acknowledge our sin, as we may difference it from any work of God's grace in us. 6. Believers their observing of their sinfulnesse, should not make them deny their grace; and their observing their grace, should not make them forget their sinfulnesse. 7. The crosse that follows godlinesse, or the stain and spot that is on a godly person, is sooner taken notice of by on-lookers, than either the advantages that follow holinesse, or the graces and spiritual beauty of holy persons; this makes it need­full to remove this offence. 8. When it may be edifying, Be­lievers [Page 79] would assert the worth and beauty of holinesse, and their own comelinesse thereby, as well as confesse their own infirmities; and Christian communion will require both.

Having illustrate her answer, in the 4. place she applyes it, ver. 6. Look not on me (saith she) because I am black, seing I am come­ly as well as black; look not on me only as such, and think it not strange that I am so: Looking here, implyeth indignation and dis­dain. And so, Look not, is here to be taken, 1. As being a ca­veat agaist indignation or disdain: Look not, &c. that is, dis­dain me not, as if nothing desirable were in me; for, sin often waiting on the affliction of God's people, obscures the beauty of grace, and makes them to be disdained and undervalued in the world. 2. This Look not, is a caution to disswade them from gazing, or curious wondering at any crosse that was on her, or sin that was in her: It should not be the object of their curiosity, much lesse of their delight, or contentment to see it so, Obad. 12. It's condemned in Edom, Thou should not have looked upon the day of thy brother. Next, while she saith, Look not upon me be­cause I am black, she doth not disswade them from looking on her blacknesse simply, but from looking only on it, that should not be the alone ground of their search into her condition, but they should take notice of what good was in her, as well as what was wrong: So then, her blacknesse, should not be the only cause of their looking on her, it should not be their work to ask after her crosses and infirmities, and no more; this she suppons may afright and terrifie them; And so it's implyed here, that on-lookers often pore more on Believers infirmities, than on their graces; and this is the fruit which follows, they procure a stumbling and fall to themselves.

5. In the rest of the 6. vers. she doth more fully explicate her answer, in so far as concerned her blacknesse (for so the words run in this 6. vers.) two wayes, 1. In setting out her sufferings in ge­neral. 2. In a more particular distribution of the kind and occa­sions of her seeming unlovelinesse. Generally, her sad condition is expressed in these words, The Sun hath looked upon me. The Sun in these Countreys had great heat, as we may see in Ionah [Page 80] 4. 8. where the beating of the Sun upon him did sore vex him; Iacob also sayes, it burnt him in the day-time, Gen. 31. 40. Therefore, Matth, 13. 6. and 21. the Lord expresseth persecu­tion, under the similitude of the scorching heat of the Sun. Here the meaning is (as if she had said) it's no marvel I be black, I have been made obnoxious to all sorts of persecution, and there­fore can have no outward beauty, but must be in the eyes of the world contemptible, even as one cannot endure the hot Sun-beams and not be blackned. So there are in this expression, these things imported, 1. Persecution. 2. Vehement persecution. 3. Visible effects following it, she is thereby made black. 4. A continuance under it. So the Sun's looking on her, till she be made black, imports 5. There is her patient enduring of it. 6. There is her sense of it. Yet, 7. she is not ashamed of it, while she shews this her suffering to be no cause, why others should stumble at her.

Afterward, she proceeds more particularly, to describe first her sufferings, then her infirmities. She describes her sufferings, 1. In the instruments of them. 2. The cause of them. 3. The nature of them. The actors are not heathens, but mothers chil­dren; the visible Church is the common mother, who hath chil­dren born after the flesh, as well as after the Spirit; These chil­dren are professors of the same truth, but really not only stran­gers, but heart-enemies to Godlinesse and true tendernesse; Such was Ishmael, and such are all unrenewed persons, who are children of the flesh, and such there will be (Gal. 4. 29.) so long as there is a Church visible: Such instruments the Apostle complains of, 2 Cor. 11. 26. that he had perils from false brethren within, as well as from strangers without. This is not only mentioned to shew there are such enemies, but to set out more fully the Churches strait; she is often more bitterly, and more subtilly persecuted by these who are called Christians, or Professors of the Gospel, than by Heathens themselves.

2. The cause of her sufferings, as from men, is, They were angry with me (saith she;) She had not done them any personal [Page 81] wrong (as David often asserts of himself, in the like case) though she was not free of sin against God; but it proceeded from a malicious, malignant disposition of the natural men of the World, who, as they hate Christ, so do they hate all that are his, Ioh. 15. 18, 19. accounting them as the off-scourings of all men, and troublers of the World continually, upon no other ground, but because they are not such as themselves, and because God hath chosen them out of the World. This shews both the causlessenesse of their persecution, as also the degree of bitter­nesse, that it did proceed from. From which, Obs. 1. There are no such bitter enemies unto a godly person, as a gracelesse malignant Professor: See Isa. 66. 5. 2. No sort of persecution doth so blacken, or obscure the beauty of an honest Believer so much, as the foul b [...]tter reproaches of malignant Professors. Yet, 3. Be­lievers are often even under that crosse. And 4. The best be­loved Believer, even Christ's Bride, will not in the World eschew it; innocency will be no guard, but to the conscience within. And if the Bridegroom himself, while he was in the World, did not escape it, the Bride cannot think to go free.

The nature of her sufferings is expressed thus, They made me keeper of the Vineyards. That this implyes suffering, and no trust put on her, the scope and her complaint makes it clear: Beside, that it's given as the evidence of the hatred and malice of these persecuters. This general expression then, being compared with other Scriptures, will import these ingredients in her suf­fering, which occasioned her blacknesse. 1. That her suffering was heavy and painful; for it was a great drudgery, to be put to keep the Vineyards; to be made keeper, was to watch both night and day, and so no wonder she was scorched, Matth. 20. 11. The bearing burdens in the Vineyard, in the heat of the day, is spoken of as the greatest weight, and heaviest piece of their work. 2 That her suffering was reproachful; for, the keeping of the Vineyards: was a base and contemptible service, therefore it's said, Ier. 52. 16. that the poor, who were not taken notice of, were left to dresse the Vines; and it's a promise, Isai. 61. 5. that his people should have freedom from that drudgery, and [Page 82] strangers should be imployed in it, for them. 3. That her suffe­rings occasioned sad distractions to her in the worship and ser­vice of God; for, in Scripture sometimes, Vine-dressing is opposed to the worshipping of God, as a distracting, diverting exercise, which is very afflicting to God's people: Therefore when they have a promise of more immediate accesse to God's worship, it's said, they shall be liberate from such diverting imployments, Isai. 61. 5. and 6. and in stead of these, they shall get another task, to wit, to be Priests to the Lord, and Ministers of our God, as if these exercises were somewhat inconsistent together; and so she opposeth her own proper duty to this, in the next words: In a word, these malignant brethren procured her pain, shame, and distraction from the service of God, as much as they could, and in a great part prevailed.

Observ. 1. Malice in rotten Professors against godlinesse, will sometimes come to a great height. 2. Malice in wicked men thinks nothing of true tendernesse, or of these who truly are so; but esteems them, and useth them as if they were most base and vile. 3. Often in outward things, the prophanest members of the Church have the preeminence; and the most godly, as to these things, are in the meanest and basest condition; so as some­times, they appoint the godly as their slaves, to their work. 4. Often while wicked professors are in power, the truely godly are under affliction.

Though this suffering was sharp, yet she resents her sinful in­firmities much more sadly, in the words following, But (saith she heavily) mine own Vineyard have I not kept; and this her sloathfulnesse and unwatchfulnesse made her black, and also pro­cured the blacknesse that was on her by her sufferings. This part of the verse implyes, 1. The Brides priviledge. 2. Her duty. 3. Her sin. 4. Her sense of it. 1. Her priviledge is, she hath a Vineyard of her own, beside these she was put to keep. The similitude of a Vineyard here, is to be taken in another sense, than in the former expression; Neither are we to think strange of this, seing similitudes are to be interpret according to the different scope of expressions, and places in which they are used. By Vine­yard [Page 83] then here, is to be understood the particular priviledges, graces and talents of any sort, which are given of God to a Be­liever: these are the things she should have watched over; the ne­glecting thereof, brings blackness on her, and procures heavy chal­lenges, called a Vineyard here; and also, Chap. 8. 13. partly, be­cause there are many several graces to be found in Believers, as plants planted in them; partly, because these will furnish them matter of continual exercise and labour; and partly, because what they have, they are to improve, that there may be fruit on them, and rent brought in to the master that intrusted them. Chap. 8. 12. 13. This Vineyard is called hers, because the special over­sight and charge of it, was comitted to her. 2. Her duty is to keep and watch over this Vineyard, that is, to improve the ta­lents she hath gotten, to see that no plants be unfruitful, and that no hurt from any cause inward or outward annoy them: Christianity or Godlinesse is no idle task, every priviledge hath a duty waiting on it. 3. Her sin is, that what with other diver­sions, and what from her own unwatchfulnesse, she had neglected the keeping of this Vineyard; so that this one task, which was put in her hand, she had not discharged it; but lasinesse came on, and the Vineyard was not dressed, thorns and nettles grew, and tentations brake in, and this marred her fruitfulness: In a word, she was no way answerable to the trust was put on her by Christ. 4 She resents this: where these things may be taken notice of, 1. She sees it, and observes it. 2. She acknowledges it. 3. She is sen­sible of it, and weighted with it, as the greatest piece of her af­fliction. It's ill to be unwatchful, for that may draw on both fruitlessenesse and heavinesse on a Believer; but it's good to ob­serve and be affected with it, and to be walking under the sense of it, even in our most joyful frame, such as hers was here.

Here then, Obs. 1. Believers have a painful laborious task of duty committed to them. 2. They may much neglect this work, and task wherewith they are intrusted. 3. Neglect and sloth makes the weeds to grow in their Vineyard, and the building which they ought to keep up, to drop thorow. 4. It's not un­suitable or unprofitable for Believers, in their most refreshing [Page 84] conditions and frames, sadly to remember their former unwatch­fulnesse, and to be suitably affected therewith. 5. Believers should be well acquaint at home, how it stands with them as to their own condition and state. 6. They who are best versed in their own condition, will find most clearly the cause of all their hurt to be in themselves; what ever is wrong in their case, themselves have the only guilty hand in it.

If any should ask, how makes this last part of the verse for her scope, in removing the offence before these weak beginners? I Ans. It doth it well: for, saith she, there is no reason ye should stumble, or be troubled because of my afflictions, they were with­out cause, as to men, though I am under much sin and guilt be­fore God: Neither scarr at godlinesse or joy in Christ, because of my infirmities; for, these spots came from mine own un­watchfulnesse, and not from godlinesse it self (which is the souls special beauty) therefore take warning from my slips, and study to prevent the bringing on of such a stain and blot upon your profession, by security and negligence; but esteem not the lesse, but the more of Christ his people and wayes, and the beauty of holinesse, which is to be seen in them; because by my unwatchfulnesse and untendernesse, I have marred this beauty in my self, and that is the reason I look so deformed-like.

Vers. 7.‘Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flocks to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?’

In the 7. Verse, We have the 3. part of the Brides first speech; in which, she turneth her self from the Daughters, to the Bride­groom; and the scope of what she speaks here is, that by apply­ing [Page 85] her self, by prayer and faith, to Christ Jesus (who is, and whom she for comfort acknowledges to be the great and good Shepherd of his sheep, Ioh. 10. 11.) she may be guarded against the hurtful effects of these two evils which she acknowledged in the former verse, to wit, afflictions and sinful infirmities; In respect of the one, she desires Christ's guiding; and in respect of the o­ther, his consolation; that so she being under his charge, may be upheld by him, and kept from miscarrying: That this is the scope, and so depends upon the former verse, especially the last part of it, will be clear by comparing the last part of this verse, and the last part of the former together. There are these three in it. 1. The title given to Christ. 2. The petition, or thing sought. 3. The argument, whereby it is inforced.

First, The title is a sweet and affectionat one, O thou whom my soul loveth. In this title these things are implyed, 1. A loveli­nesse in Christ, and such a soul-affecting and ravishing lovelinesse, as no creature-beauty hath, nor can have. 2. An ardent and ve­hement love in her towards him, so that she might say, her soul loved, honoured desired, and esteemed him. 3. A dis-relishing of all things beside Christ, as nothing; He is the only object her soul loves, he alone hath her heart, and is in the throne as chief in her affections, and hath no allowed co-partner there, to whom this title may be applyed. 4. It's implyed, what title Christ will best accept of, even that which beares out most affection to him; there can be no greater honour, or more acceptable piece of re­spect put on him by a Believer, than this, to owne him and avow him as the only object of his souls love; as the Bride doth here, O thou whom my soul loveth!

2. The thing that is here sought by the Bride, is set down in two petitions, meetting with the two-fold strait she was in, to wit, of crosses and infirmities; and because fear of sin weighed her most, she begins with the suit that might guard against that, and in the reason presseth it most. The first Petition then is, Tell me where thou feedest, (to wit, thy flock,) for feeding, here is to be understood actively, that is, where he feeds others; and not passively (as in other places) where he feeds and delights [Page 86] himself. The 2 Petition is, Tell me where thou makest thy flocks to rest at noon; That is, make me know, where and how thou com­forts and refreshes thy people, under scorching persecutions and tryals: So these Petitions go upon the relation that is between Christ and his people, of Shepherd and flock, which is frequent in Scripture. In sum, that which she seeks, is this, Thou who guids all thine, as a shepherd doth a flock, let me know how thou orders thy people, and carries them through in times of snares, and where thou refreshest them in time of trouble: These being the two great duties of a shepherd, are well performed by Christ. 1. It's his work to feed them, and lead them in whole­some and safe pastures, Psal. 23. And, 2. to give them quiet and cool resting-places in the time of heat, when the Sun becomes scorch­ing; and therefore prayeth she to him, Seing thou dost both these to thine, let me know the right way of partaking of the be­nefit of thy care. Which two Petitions imply, 1. That there is a neer relation betwixt Christ and all Believers, he is the shepherd, and they the flock. Isa. 40. 11. Ezek. 34. 11. 12. Psal. 23. 1, 2. 2. That Christ's flock may be, yea, usually are in hazard both of sin or straying, and also of affliction. 3. That Christ Jesus is tender of his people, in reference to any hazard they are in of sin, or suf­fering; He is the good shepherd, Ioh. 10. 11. he carries the lambs in his bosom, Isa. 40. 11. he stands and feeds his flock, Micah 5. 4. 4. That he hath resting-places, and shaddows for refreshing and hiding his people, in all the stormes and heats they may meet with. 5. That Believers sometimes under straits, may not know well how, either to rid themselves out of tentations, or to quiet themselves under crosses, till he help them with light and strength: they cannot know the Well, whence their supply and conso­lation cometh, till it be discovered, as it was to Hagar. 6. That even then, when they know not how to be guarded against sin, and shaddowed under suffering, Christ knows both, and hath help in both these cases provided for them. 7. That as it's he who must guide them in snares, and support them in sufferings; so Be­lievers, when they are at their own wits-end in respect of both, [Page 87] ought even then to look for help and direction in these from him.

The reason presseth for his guiding, with a great weight; For, why (saith she) should I be as one that turnes aside, after the flocks of thy companions? In which, these things are implyed, 1. That Christ may have companions, (not who are indeed so, but) such who [...]et themselves up equally beside him, and make it their design to have others to follow them, but do not follow Christ them­selves; Thus Hereticks, false Christs, Matth. 24. 23, 24. lusts, idols, or whatever is equalled or preferred to Christ, and not subjected to him, is made, as it were, his companion: sure, the scope shews, they were not friendly companions; but it speaks the nature of corrupt men, who are seducers, and the sin of se­duced people, that the one seeks to themselves, and the other attributes to them, too much. 2. That these companions may have flocks, and many followers, even as our Lord Jesus hath, so Matth. 24. 23. 2 Pet. 2. 1, &c. 3. That Believers, if not by Christs care prevented, may go astray after some of these compa­nions, and throng on in a way of error and defection with them. 4. That Believers will be afraid of this ill, and also sensible of their own propensnesse to it. 5. It imports an abhorrency and indignation at that evil, of being carried away a whooring from Christ, Why (saith she) should I be, &c? 6. She accounts it a great mercy to be kept in Christ's way, and makes it a main piece of her prayer, that this may be granted to her as her mercy. 7. She exercises faith on Christ, and vents her requests by prayer to him, concerning every thing she wants; be wanting what will, she betakes her self to him for the obtaining of it. 8. Where there is a loathnesse to go astray, or fall in snares, it will stir up to serious wrestling with Christ to prevent it. 9. Hazard of sin to Believers (who are sensible of their inclination to go astray) and weaknesse to hold on in Gods way, is a great motive that being made use of in prayer, hath much weight for obtaining di­rection, and an hearing from Christ; as it is a notable spur to stir up to pray seriously, For (saith she) why should I be, &c? which speaketh forth her indignation against every wrong way, and her [Page 88] expectation, that if any thing prevailed with him, that would; and so we will find her successe in this suit, to follow in the next words.

2 Part. CHRISTS Words.

Vers. 8.‘If thou know not, (O thou fairest among Women) go thy way forth by the footsteps of the Flock, and feed thy Kids beside the Shepherds Tents.’

From the 8. vers. to the 12, follows Christ's expresse return to her former suit; and because it's he that speaks, we take it up as the second part of the Chapter. In the Brids condition there was, 1. Crosses and afflictions. 2. Sins and infirmities. 3. Snares and hazard of new failings. Now Christ so frames his answer, as he may meet with all her necessities most comfortably and lovingly; and because she was most affected with the fear of sin, he answers that first: And so he doth, 1. In order to her be­ing guided against snares, give a direction for her duty, vers. 8. 2. In order to her consolation under her suffering, and the sense of her [...]ailings, he commends her, vers. 9, 10. 3. He gives her a promise, in order to her further consolation, vers. 11. The scope of all is, to comfort her; and every part of the answer be­ing from Christ's mouth, may be effectual for that end.

In the direction, vers. 8. there is, 1. The Title he gives her. 2. The directions themselves, which are two. 3. A supposition, or ground upon which he gives them.

First, The Title he gives her is (O thou fairest among Women) which is much from Christ to the Bride, who immediatly before styled her self black; Believers who are humble under the sense of their own infirmities, are never the lesse highly esteemed by Christ; nor are alwayes his thoughts of Believers as theirs are of themselves; nay, by the contrary, blushing at their own defor­mity, [Page 89] is a chief part of their beauty. The giving her this title, implyes these three things, 1. A real worth in a believer, be­yond the most noble person in the world. 2. A real respect un­to, and esteem that Christ hath of them, which he hath of none other. 3. Wonderful tendernesse, condescending for her conso­lation, to intimat these his thoughts of her to her self, now when she was otherwise sadly afflicted, and under a double distresse.

If it be asked, how these excellent titles and commendations may be applyed to a sinful believer. Ans. These four wayes, 1. By communication and participation of the divine Nature, they have a stamp of the Spirit of holinesse imparted to them, whereby they resemble God, 2 Pet. 1. 4. and none other in the World can compare with them in this. 2. In respect of the im­putation of Christ's righteousnesse, wherewith they are adorned, and which they have put on, which makes them very glorious and lovely, so that they are beautiful beyond all others, thorow his comelinesse put upon them. 3. In respect of Christ's graci­ous acceptation, whereby he doth esteem otherwayes of them, than of the most royal and beautiful in the world, they find such favour in his eyes. 4. In respect of his design, project and pur­chase; she is so, and to be made so in end; he will have his people made compleatly beautiful and spotlesse, before he have done with them, Eph. 5. 26. without spot and wrinkle: all which are pe­culiar to a believer, of whom glorious things are spoken and written, which are applicable to none other.

The Directions are two, Would thou know, saith he, how to be kept out of snares? Then, 1. Look how the old Worthies walked, and follow their way. 2. Have respect to the publick Ordinances, and hold neer them, that you may have direction from the Word, by these to whom I have committed the trust of dipensing the same: I have (saith he) no new light to give you, nor any new way to heaven to shew you, nor any new means, or­dinances, or officers to send amongst you, nor yet must ye ex­pect immediat revelations; but walk in the light that shines to you, by the preaching of the Word by my Ministers, who are the [Page 90] under-shepherds which I have set over you: For thus I guide all my counsel, whom I afterward receive to glory.

The first Direction (go thy way forth by the foot-steps of the flock) holds forth, 1. That all believers, of old and late, are of one flock, of one common concernment, and under the care of one chief shepherd: This is the flock spoken of, vers. 7. whereof Christ is shep­herd. 2. That there is but one way to heaven, for the substantials of faith & godliness, in which they that went before have walked, and these that follow-after must walk in the same way, if ever they think to come there. 3. That there are many in all ages, whom God hath helped in trying times to keep in his way, and have been carried well through all difficulties to heaven. 4. That be­lievers would observe these beyond others, as being especially worthy of imitation. 5. That they should, and may follow the commendable practices of believers in former times, and not affect singularity. 6. That it's commendable, and often safe in times when new opinions and doctrines bear sway, to follow their way, who we are sure went before us to Heaven, Heb. 13. 7. 1 Thess. 2. 14. Heb. 6. 14. This imitation of others, is to be li­mited with that necessary caution, in so far as the practise of o­thers agrees with the first pattern, Christ, 1 Cor. 11. 1. In a word, this Direction shewes there is no way, but the good old way to be asked for, and followed in the most declining times, Ier. 6. 16. and that we would keep the very print of their steps, studying to be followers of their faith, who have been honourably carried through before us.

The 2. Direction puts them to the right use and improve­ment of the Ministery of the Word, which he will have them to respect; feed thy Kids beside the Shepherds tents. Shepherds here in the plural number, are the servants of that one Shepherd, whose own the sheep are: So Ministers are called often Shep­herds or Pastors, both in the Old and New Testament, 1. Because of their relation to Christ, by whom they are intrusted to feed his sheep; He is the Owner, they are but Shepherds, Ezek. 34. 2. Because of their relation to the flock, which is committed to their care, and for which they must give an account, Heb. 13. 17. [Page 91] 3. Because of the nature of their charge, as being assiduous, diffi­cult, and tenderly to be gone about; For, such is the work and care of a shepherd, as we may see by what Iacob speaks of him­self, when he had the charge of Laban's flock. Gen. 31. 40. 4. To shew the necessity of that Ordainance. And 5. The respect people ought to have to them, who are over them in the Lord: No flock needs a shepherd more than a Congregation needs a Mini­ster, people without labourers, being like sheep without a shep­herd, Matth. 9. 36. under a sad necessity of wandering and being lost. Next, Shepherds tents are mentioned, with allusion to these parts, where shepherds in the wildernesse carried tents about with them; and so to be neer the tent, was to be neer the shepherd: It's like they kept Lambs and Kids neerest unto their tents, be­cause they needed more oversight than the rest of the flock, for a lamb to be at it's liberty in a large place, was dangerous, Hos. 4. 16. By Kids, we understand young unexperienced believers or professors, whereby it's clear, 1. That there are kids and young ones in Christ's flock. Yea, 2. That the strongest believers, even the Bride, have their own infirmities; and there are some par­ticulars wherein they are weak: For this direction is given to the Bride, as a particular and experienced believer; and seing or­dinarily weak believers are called Lambs, and unrenewed men Goats, it may be Kids here are mentioned to point at the relicts of sinful nature, even in believers, which is the reason why they need still over-sight. 3. It's clear, that the office of the Mi­nistery, is a standing perpetual and necessary office in the Church, otherwise this direction would not alwayes satisfie the believers question here proposed. 4. The strongest believers, have need and use of a Ministery. 5. It's a great part of a Minister's charge, to keep believers right, in snaring and seducing times, Eph. 4. 12, 13. &c. 6. Believers would make use of publick ordinances, and Christ's Ministers, especially in reference to snares and errours; and they would take their directions from them, and in their difficulties consult with them, and their counsel would be laid weight upon. 7. Allowed dependence on a Ministery▪ is a great mean to keep souls from errour; whereas on the contrary, when [Page 92] no weight is laid on a ministery, unstable souls are hurried away. 8. Christ hath given no immediat or extraordinary way to be sought unto, and made use of, even by his Bride, in her difficul­ties; but the great mean he will have her to make use of, is a sent ministery, and therefore no other is to be expected: It's no wonder therefore the devil (when his design is to cry down truth and spread errour) seek to draw the Lord's people from the shep­herds tents; and no wonder souls, who once do cast off respect to their Over-seers, be hurried away with the temptations of the times, as in experience hath often been found a truth. 9. Mi­nisters should have a special eye on the weakest of the flock, their care should be that the Kids may be next them: Our blessed Lord doth so, when the Lambs are carried in his own bosome, Isa. 40. 11. and therefore, seing weak believers have most need of Christ's over-sight, if they begin to slight the Ministery and Or­dinances, they cannot but be a ready prey; and the devil hath gained much of his intent when he hath once gained that. O that men would try whose voice that is, that saith, Come aback from the shepherds tents (when Christ sayes, Abide neer them) It's as if a Wolf would desire the Lambs to come out from under the shep­herd's eye; And lastly, when Christ gives this direction to his own Bride, we may see he allowes none to be above ordinances in the militant Church, it will be soon enough then, when they are brought to heaven, and put above the reach of seducers.

The supposition is in these words, If thou know not, &c. which is not any upbraiding answer, but tendeth to insinuat the directi­on the more; I have given you means (saith he) and so he puts her back to the serious use of these, as he sent Paul, Acts 9. to Ananias, to have his mind made known by him: Which implyes, 1. That a believer may be in many things ignorant. 2. That Christ pities the ignorant, and hath compassion on them who are out of the way, or are in hazard to go out of the way, Heb. 5. 3. That believers would not in praying to Christ, neglect the ordinary means in seeking knowledge; nor in using them, ne­glect him: She prayes to him, and he directs her in them. 4. Directions for a believers walk, given by Christs Ministers from [Page 93] his Word, are his own, and are accounted by him as if he did im­mediatly speak them himself. 5. Christ would have his Ministery and Ordinances kept up in esteem & request amongst his people; Therefore, he will not be particular in giving answer to his Bride, but sends her to them, that she might know the usefulnesse of them, and learn to know his mind from them. 6. They cannot expect to make great progresse in Religion, that neglects the Ministery, seing it is to them, that Christ recomends his own Bride; If people were inquiring at Christ, what should they do now in a time, when temptations to error and defection abound? no other answer were to be expected, then what he gives to his Bride here: Yea, if Abraham were intreated to send some from the dead, to advise people to abhor profanity and error: His an­swer would be, they have Moses and the Prophets, they shall have no other, and no other would prevail, if these Ordinances do not: People would conscienciously, and thriftily use the means and light they have; for, it's by such the Lord trains his own Bride: and though he will admit her as a courtier to his Chamber, yet this familiarity he admits her to, is in the use of Ordinances, and he will have no believer above Ordinances and need of Ministers, whiles he keeps them within the compasse of snares.

Vers. 9.‘I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's Chariots.’
Vers. 10.‘Thy cheeks are comely with rows of Iewels, thy neck with chains of Gold.’

The commendation followes, vers. 9, 10, in which the Bride­groom hath respect to two things, which afflicted her most in her condition. 1. That she was in hazard to be a prey to every sin, and to every enemy. 2. That she lay under many blots, and was [Page 94] made black by her own miscarriages; Therefore the Lord, that he might comfort her against those, is brought-in speaking thus: Thou art neither so weak, nor so black and unbeautiful as the world thinks thee, and as thou esteems of thy self, my testimony of thee is better to be believed, than either the worlds, or thy own; and I assert thee to be stately and strong, beautiful and comely.

First, Vers. 9. He sets out her statelinesse, strength and cou­rage, by a similitude taken from horses, are (saith he) Horses stately and strong? For so in Iob is the horse described, Chap. 39. 19, 20, &c. and is not a Company of them much more stately, especially a company of Egyptian horses, which were the best in the World? 2 Chron. 1. 17. Isa. 31. 1. And if any in Egypt were beyond others, certainly Pharaoh the King had such in his own Chariots. Now (saith he) if these be lovely, strong and stately, then thou art so; For, I have compared thee to such: This ex­pression, I have compared thee, bears out the confirmation of the assertion; for, it's not men that thinks thee so, but I who knows where true worth is, and who can be surety for my own assertion, I have said thou art as strong as these, I have likened thee to them, and made thee like them. This holds forth these things, 1. That there is an excellent courage and boldnesse, wherewith the believer is furnished beyond others, he is bold as a Lyon, Prov. 28. 1. both in duties and sufferings. 2. That there is in believers an undauntednesse of spirit, and an unconquerablenesse, that overcome they cannot be; better fight with all Pharaoh's Chariots, than with them, Zech. 12. Rev. 12. 3. The words hold out, that there is an infallible certainty in this truth; we have here Christ's verdict of it, he in his reckoning counts belie­vers so, and he cannot be mistaken. 4. There is the cause, why the Bride is so strong and stately, he makes her so: And so these words, I have compared thee, may be taken efficiently, I have made thee comparable, or made thee to be like them; and there is an article in the Original, which may confirm this, and the words may be turned, like my company of horses, or of my horses; which shews that, as believers themselves [...]re Christ's, so also, [Page 95] whatever stock of spiritual strength and courage they have, it is his, and from him: And that they are Christ's, and made use of by him, shews the use of their strength, Micah 4. 13. and so Zech. 10. 3. they are called my goodly horse. 5. It implyes this, that it becomes not believers to droop, faint, or be discouraged under diff [...]culties, seing he hath past such a sentence, or given such a ver­dict of them; It's a reflecting on him, as if it were not so with them as he affirms, or as if he did bear false testimony concerning them. Now this courage, strength and boldnesse which is here attributed to believers, is to be understood of that which is competent to them peculiarly as believers; and their successe in all their spiritual conf [...]icts, is still to be looked upon with re­spect to the event, which is ever to be more than conquerours, in the issue at least, what ever appears for the present.

The second part of the commendation is, Vers. 10. Wherein her comelinesse and beautiful adorning, is set out: Though thou think thy self black (saith he) yet, Thy cheeks are comely with rows of Iewels, and thy neck with chains of Gold: What is meant by neck, or cheeks, or chains, or rows of Iewels, we think not necessary to be particularly inquired into; the allusion is to Wo­men, who in these places, by such ornaments used to be adorned; and possibly there is here also an allusion to the horses of great ones, who are said to have chains of gold about their necks, Iudg. 8. 26.

The scope and sum of the verse may be taken up in these things, 1. That though the Bride have some infirmities, yet there is ex­ceeding great comelinesse and lovelinesse to be seen in her, she is said to be comely, and that out of Christ's own mouth: Cer­tainly grace puts much real beauty upon the person that hath it. 2. That she hath moe ornaments than one, there are here Iewels in the plural number, and chains of Gold also; one grace goes never alone, neither is imputed righteousnesse and sanctification ever separat; who ever hath one grace, hath all. 3. That this beauty which is to be seen on believers is universal, as to the subject; for, here one part of the body is adorned, as well as ano­ther, both neck and cheeks; the whole man is renewed, and the [Page 96] person is justified. 4. This comelinesse growes not of any stock within the believer, nor is it natural to him, but it's communi­cat or imparted beauty, such as is put on, a comelinesse procee­ding from the beneficence of another, and is the work of a cun­ning workman. See Ezek. 16. 10, 11. where similitudes, like these in this Text, are made use of.

Vers. 11.‘We will make thee borders of Gold, with studs of Silver.’

In the 11. Vers. for confirming of the former consolation, he gives her a promise; the scope whereof is to obviat an objecti­on, which jealous sense might make against what he hath said: How shall beauty be obtained, or continued? might she say, whence shall it come, seing I am so black and loathsome? To this he answers, as it were, by a sweet promise, We will make, &c. Where­in we may consider, 1. The thing promised, it's borders of Gold, and studs of Silver. 2. The party promising, and undertaking the performance of it: We will make them to thee, saith he.

Borders of Gold, and studs of Silver(it's like) have been some special ornaments in these dayes, and that which is here pointed at by them, in general seems to be an addition to what formerly the Bride possessed, he would add to her beauty, and gloriously compleat it: And certainly it must be an excellent work, which needs such workers as are here spoken of. We take the thing pro­mised, to comprehend the increase, continuance and perfecting of her comelinesse and beauty; in which work the blessed Tri­nity are ingaged: and so, the second thing is, who undertakes it, We will make thee, saith the Bridegroom: This word make, in the Original is used for making of man at first, Gen. 1. 26. As also, for renewing of him, and begetting holinesse in him, Psal. 100. because it's no lesse work to renew, than to creat man. The number here is changed from the singular, I have compared, &c. Vers. 9. to the plural, We will, &c. As it is also in the first mak­ing [Page 97] of man, from the singular, He made Heaven and Earth, to the plural, let Vs make man according to our Image; as if the Holy Ghost, purposly, in mentioning this renewing-work of grace, did allude to the first work of mans creation. And this, 1. To shew, the excellency of it, not that God was put to any deliberation, but that the work was, and is exceeding excellent, and there [...]ore deliberatly, as it were, gone about. 2. To shew, that man hath no more hand in his renovation than his first creation, that is, he is no more of himself able to bring about the one than the other. By this We, we do not understand God speaking of himself in the plural number, as in some languages, for honors cause, Kings do of themselves: For, 1. If that were more honorable, then it would have alwayes been used for Gods honour, especially at so­lemn times, such as when the Law was given; but we find the contrary true from the Scripture. 2. Although that manner of speaking be used in some other languages, yet it is never so used in the Hebrew tongue (as, by these who understand it, is asserted; and by some of the most Learned Iews is acknowledged) and therefore we understand the Trinity of Persons in one God-head to be here understood; for, this One is also Three, the Father, Son and Spirit, having a joynt design in promoving the Salvation of the Elect, Isa. 61. 1, 2. And grace being a work, and gift prayed for, from them all, Rev. 1. 4, 5. it must be understood of these three blessed Persons of the holy Trinity, this work being common to the three Persons of the God-head, and communi­cable to no other. This then makes the consolation strong; for, saith Christ, although the perfecting of your grace be a great task, and far above your reach, yet fear not, We, the Father, Son and Spirit have undertaken it, and shall make it out to you.

Hence we may lea [...]n, 1. That grown believers, even the Bride, hath need of more grace and spiritual comelinesse; There is a necessity of looking after a further growth in those, even to be transchanged from glory to glory, 2. Cor. 3. ult. 2. That growing ingrace, and perseverance therein, is a great consolation and com­ [...]ort to a true believer; and therefore the promise of it is given to the Bride for that end here. 3. That neither growth in grace, [Page 98] nor perseverance therein, is a work of the believers own work­ing, but the omnipotency of grace is exercised here. 4. There is plurality of persons in the one God-head; The God-head, that is I, is also We. 5. All the persons of the blessed Trinity concur, and are ingaged in promoving the holinesse, and in perfecting the beauty of a believer. 6. All the graces of a believer are pieces of the workmanship of the holy Trinity: Grace then must be an ex­cellent thing. 7. The perfecting and perseverance of a believer is infallibly sure and certain, seing all the persons of the Godhead are ingaged in this work; and they who this day are believers, may promise this to themselves. 8. Much of believers beauty is yet in the promise, and in the perfecting, so that it hath it's defects and imperfections while they are here. 9. What is pro­mised is so sure, that it ought to be no lesse comfortable, than if it were injoyed; for the promise ought to have no lesse weight for that end, than the former commendation. 10. Christ allowes his people freedom from anxiety, because of things that are to come, and to be comforted in him against the feares of those, as well as to draw consolation from him against any evil that is pre­sent; therefore is this intimat unto them. 11. Believers ought still to hold all their injoyments and priviledges as from him, and the expectation of what is coming, as well as the performance of what is past. 12. Faith in the promise, hath a large comprehensive object to rest upon, and to draw consolation from, even the power of the Godhead, and what may be by the Father, Son and Spirit created, and brought about for a believers good, even though it have not at present a being; we will make thee what is wanting and what is needful, sayes the promise; creating power is ingaged to through his work concerning them, I creat the fruit of the lips, Isa. 57. 19. and I will creat Ierusalem a joy, &c. more cannot be desired, and lesse the Lord allowes not.

Part 3. BRIDES Words.

Vers. 12.‘While the King sitteth at his Ta­ble, my Spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.’
Vers. 13.‘A bundle of Myrrhe is my be­loved unto me; he shall lye all night be­twixt my breasts.’
Vers. 14.‘My beloved is unto me as a cluster of Camphire in the Vineyards of En-gedi.

The third Part of the Chapter followes in these three verses, 12. 13. 14. In it, the Bride expresseth how refreshful Christ was to her, and how she did solace her self in him: This she holds forth, not only in the sweet and warm title she gives him; But further in these three things, 1. She declares the comfortablenesse of the fellowship she had with him, vers. 12. 2. By two comparisons she illustrats it, in the beginning of the 13. and 14. vers. 3. She sets forth the warmnesse of her own affections to him in the end of vers. 13.

The titles she gives him are two, 1. The King, whereby his Soveraignty and Majesty is set forth. The second is beloved or welbeloved, a title importing much love and affection: It differs from that title, my love, which he gave her, vers. 9. for that is a compellation given to her by him, as from a Superior to an in [...] [...]ior, or as from an Husband to a Wife; this title which she here gives him, is as from an inferior, as a wi [...]e to her husband. The first, holds forth condescending tendernesse; the second, respective [Page 100] love; but both agree in this, that they are most loving, and af­fectionat titles.

She sets forth the comfortableness of Christs fellowship, vers. 12. Where, we are to consider these three things, 1. The priviledge of his sweet company, which she injoyed, in these words, The King sitteth at his Table. 2. The effect thereof, held forth in this similitude, my spikenard, &c. 3. The connexion of these two, in this expression, while the King sitteth, &c.

First, The King here spoken of, is Christ, as was cleared, vers. 4. His Table or feasting-hou [...]e is the Gospel, Prov. 9. 1, &c. where the feast of fat things is prepared, Isa. 25. 6. His sitting at his Table, or her sitting with him at it, imports familiar fellowship with him by the Gospel; So the Table of the Lord is taken, 1 Cor. 10. 21. and Matth. 22. 4. The comfortable fellowship that is to be had with him by the Gospel, is held forth under the similitude of a great feast; as fellowship in glory and injoying of him there, is set out by eating and drinking with him at his Table, Luke 22. 29, 30. Now this is most friendly, when Christ not only furnishes a Table, Psal. 23. 5. but he comes and sits down, and sups with them, and admits them to sup with him, Rev. 3. 21. It is called His Table, because he both furnishes it, and is Master and Maker of the feast, yea, the matter of it also.

2. The effect of this fellowship, is my spikenard sendeth forth the smel thereof. Spikenard here signifies the graces of the Spi­rit, wherewith the believer is furnished out of the treasure of the sweet spices that are in Christ: Which are compared to spike­nard, because grace is precious in it self, and savoury and pleasant to God, Psal. 141. 2. and to others also, who have spiritual sen­ses. To send forth the smell, is to be in lively exercise, and to be fresh and vigorous; Grace without smell or lively exercise, being like flowres somewhat withered that savour not, or like unbeaten spice, that sends not forth it's savour.

3. There is the connexion of this effect (which is so comfor­table to her) with Christs presence, as the cause: It's while he sits, that her Spikenard sendeth forth it's smell, it's then and not else, that her graces flow; Such influence hath his presence on [Page 101] her, as a cool-wind hath on a garden, for making the smell thereof to flow out, as it's chap. 4. 16.

Here Obs. 1. Christ the Bridegroom is a King. 2. It makes all his condescending to sinners the more lovely, admirable and comfortable, that he is so excellent; that he being such a King; sitteth at the Table with poor believers, is much; Love in Christ, brings his Majesty, as it were, below it self, to feed and feast his poor people. 3. There is a way of most sweet, and comfor­table communion to be had even with the King, in his own Or­dinances. 4. There is a great difference betwixt an ordinance or duty, and Christ's presence in it; These are separable. 5. It's Christ present that makes a feast to a believer, and makes all Gospel-ordinances and duties so refreshful. 6. Believers may, and will observe, when Christ is at the Table, and when not: and it will be empty to them when he is absent. 7. All the provision wherewith believers table is furnished, and they are [...]easted, is Christ. 8. Christ should have a continued dwelling in the believer, and they a continual conversing with him, as these who dyet or­dinarily at one table.

The effect (namely the flowing of her graces) and it's con­nexion with his presence, as the cause, shewes, 1. There is a stock of grace, and Spikenard in them, with whom Christ useth to sup, and there is no other but such admitted to his table. 2. The graces of the Spirit in believers, may be in a great part without savour, void of lively exercise, almost dead as to it's effects. 3. It is exceedingly refreshful to believers, to have their graces flowing and acting. 4. Christ's presence hath much influ­ence to make all things lively and savoury, where he sits, all things that are beside him (as it were) blossoms and savours; The graces of his people are then very fresh and lively. And, 5. though grace be savoury in it self, yet in Christ's absence, that savour will be restrained, and not sent forth; For, it's implyed, that when the King sat not at his table, her Spikenard did not send forth it's smell. 6. Christ's company or fellowship with him, will not only be prized by believers, as it brings sensible comfort to them; but also as it revives their graces, and makes them lively.

[Page 102] 2. Her satisfaction in Christ's fellowship, vers. 13. and 14. is il­lustrat in two similitudes, whereby her holy fondnesse (to speak so) on him appears. The 1. similitude is, a bundle of myrrhe. Mirrhe was a precious and savo [...]ry spice, made use of in the anointing oyle, Exod. 30. [...]3. and in embalming Christ's body. A bundle of it, signifies abundance of it, not a stalk or a grain, but a bundle that must be of more worth, and vertue than a lesser quantity. The 2. similitude, to the same scope, is, a cluster of Camphire, or Cypresse; a sweet, odoriserous and precious wood in these parts; and a cluster of it, implyes a congeries of it, hav­ing much of it's excellency bound up together: and under these two similitudes (because one is not enough to set forth the thing) is understood a most precious, refreshful excellency which is to be found in Christ, and wherewith the most desirable excellency amongst the creatures being compared, he is much more excellent than they all; He is more sweet and precious than a cluster, even of that Camphire which growes in the Vineyards of En-gedi, where it's like the most precious of that kind grew. Now these expressions hold forth, 1. Christ's preciousnesse. 2. His efficacy and vertue. 3. His abounding in both; the worth and vertue that is in him, cannot be comprehended, nor told. 4. The Brides wis­dom in making use of such things to describe Christ; and her af­fection in preferring him to all other things, and in satisfying her self in him; which is the last thing in these verses.

This respect of hers, or the warmnesse of her affection to him, is set forth two wayes, 1. In that expression, he is unto me (which is both in the beginning of the 13. and in the beginning of the 14. verse) whereby is signifyed, not only Christ's worth in general, but, 1. His savourinesse and lovelinesse to her in particular; she speakes of him, as she her self had found him. 2. To expresse what room she gives him in her affection, he was lovely in him­self, and he was so to her, and in her esteem; He is (saith she) a bundle of Myrrhe unto me, a cluster of Camphire to me: This is further clear from that other expression, namely, he shall lye all night (saith she) betwixt my breasts, even as one hugges and embraces whom they love, or what they love; and keeps it in [Page 103] their arms, and thrusts it in their bosom; so (saith she) my be­loved shall have my heart to rest in, and if one room be further in, than another, there he shall be admitted. Which imports, 1. Great love to him. 2. A satisfying her spiritual senses on him. 3. Tenaciousnesse in keeping and [...]etaining him, when he is got­ten, and great loathnesse to quit or part with him. 4. It shewes his right seat and place of residence; The bosome and heart is Christ's room and bed. 5. It shewes a continuance in retaining him and entertaining him, she would do it not for a start, but for all night. 6. A watchfulnesse in not interupting his rest, or disquieting of him, he shall not be troubled, (saith she) but he shall ly all night, unprovocked to depart. These are good eviden­ces of affection to Christ, and offer ground for good directions how to walk under sensible manifestations, when he doth com­municat himself.

Part 4. CHRISTS Words.

Vers. 15.‘Behold, thou art fair, my Love; behold thou art fair, thou hast Doves eyes.’

These words contain a part of that excellent and comfortable conference between Christ and the Spouse: There is here a mu­tual commendation one of another, as if they were in a holy contest of love, who should have the last word in expressing of the others commendation. In the verse before, the Bride hath been expressing her love to Christ, and he again comes in upon the back of this, expressing his esteem of her, and that with a behold, Behold, &c.

If ye look upon this verse in it self, and with it's dependence on the former words, it will hold out these things; 1. That love-fellowship with Christ, must be a very heartsome life, O the sweet, mutual satisfaction that is there! 2. That Christ must be a very [Page 104] loving and kindly husband; so have all they found him, that have been married unto him: And therefore, Eph. 5. 27. He is proposed as a pattern to all husbands, and may well be so. 3. That our Lord Jesus thinks good sometimes to intimat his love to believers, and to let them know what he thinks of them; and this he doth, that the believer may be confirmed in the faith of his love; for, this is both profitable, and also comfortable and re­freshful. Lastly, from the connexion, observe, that there is no time wherein Christ more readily manifests and intimats his love to believers, than when their love is most warm to him. In the former verse, she hath a room provided between her breasts for him, and in these words our Lord comes in with a very refresh­ful salutation to her: for, though his love go before ours in the rise of it; yet he hath ordered it so, that the intimation of his love to us, should be after the stirring of ours towards him, Ioh. 14. 21.

In the commendation that he here gives her, consider these five particulars, 1. The title he gives her, my love. 2. The com­mendation it self, Thou art fair. 3. The note of attention pre­fixed, Behold. 4. The repetition of both. 5. A particular in­stance of a piece of that beauty he commends in her.

1. The title is a very kindly and sweet one; and this makes it lovely, that therein he not only intimats, but appropriats his love to her, allowing her to lay claim thereto as her own, my love, saith he, and it sayes, that there can be nothing more cordial and refreshful to believers, than Christ's intimating of his love to them; and therefore, he chooseth this very title for that end: The men of the world exceedingly prejudge themselves, that they think not more of this, and study not to be acquaint with it.

2. The commendation that he gives her, is, Thou art fair. If it be asked, what this imports? we may look upon it these three wayes. 1. As it imports an inherent beauty in the Bride. 2. As it looks to the cleannesse, and beauty of her state, as being justified before God; and this she hath, as being clothed with the righteousnesse of Christ. 3. As it holds forth Christ's loving [Page 105] estimation of her, that though there were many spots in her; yet he pronounces her fair (and lovely, because of his delight in her, & his purpose to make her fair) and without spot or wrinckle, or any such thing: From all which, these three truths may be gathered. 1. That such as are Christ's, or have a title to him, are very love­ly creatures, and cannot but have in them exceeding great love­linesse, because there is to be found with them a work of his grace, a new creature, and a conversation some way lavelled to the adorning of the Gospel. 2. Christ Jesus hath a very great esteem of his Bride, and though we cannot conceive of love in him, as it is in us; yet the expressions used here, gives us ground to believe, that Christ hath a great esteem of believers, how worthlesse so ever they be in themselves. Lastly, comparing this with vers. 5. We may see, That believers are never more beautiful in Christ's eyes, than when their own spots are most discernable to themselves; and oftimes when they are sharpest in censuring themselves, he is most ready to absolve and commend them.

The third thing is, the rouzing note of attention which is prefixed; and this is here added to the commendation of the Bride, for these reasons, which may be as observations. 1. That he may shew the re­ality of that beauty that is in believers, that it is a very real thing. 2. That he may shew the reality of the estimation, which he hath of his Bride. 3. It imports a desire he had to make her believe, and a difficulty that was in bringing her to believe, either the beauty that was in her, or his estimation of her; and therefore is this note of attention doubled. She hath her eyes so fixed on her own blacknesse, that she hath need to be rouzed up, to take notice both of the grace of God in her, and also of the esteem that Christ had of her.

The particular that he commends in her, in the last part of the words, is, Thou hast D [...]ves eyes. He insists not only in the general, but is particular in this commendation he gives her. And this shewes, 1. Christ's particular observation not only of the be­lievers state, frame and carriage in general, but of their graces in particular. 2. That there may be some particular grace, where­in belevers may be especially eminent; even as it's in corrupt, [Page 106] [...]atural men, that ar still under the pollution and dominion of the body of death; yet there is some one or other predominant lust that is strongest: in some sort it is so with the believer; there is some one thing or other, wherein grace especially vents, and puts forth it self in exercise. Abraham is eminent for faith, Moses for meeknesse, Iob for patience: And hence the believer is considered sometimes under the notion of one grace, and sometimes of another, as we may see, Matth. 5. 3. That our blessed Lord Jesus hath a particular delight in the holy simplici­ty and sincerity of a believer; Or, holy simplicity and sincerity, puts a great lovelinesse upon believers; for, by this, thou hast Doves eyes, we conceive to be understood a holy simplicity, se­parating her, in her way, from the way of the men of the world: for, while their eyes, or affections run after other objects, hers are taken up with Christ; for, by eyes, are set out mens affecti­ons in Scripture; So, Matth. 6. 22. and often in this Song, the eyes signifie the affections, as in that expression, Thou hast ravish­ed me with one of thine eyes, &c. the eyes being somewayes the seat and also the doors of the affections. Now, Doves eyes set out not only the Brides aff [...]ction, and love to Christ, but also the nature of her love, which is the thing here mainly commended, as simplicity, chastity, & singlenesse, for which that creature is com­mended, Matth. 10. Be simple as Doves. And this is the commendati­on of the love, that true believers have to Christ, that it's chast, single and sincere love; Singlenesse is the special thing Christ commends in his people. It's that for which believers are so much commended, Act. 2. 46.

Part 5. BRIDES Words.

Vers. 16.‘Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green.’
Vers. 17.‘The beams of our house are Cedar, and our rafters of Fir.’

We come to the last part of the Chapter, in the two last verses, in which the Bride commends Christ's beauty, and the sweetnesse of fellowship with him: He had been commending her, and now she hastens to get the commendation turned over on him, Behold, thou art fair, &c. And there are two things which she here commends. 1. She commends the Bridegroom himself, Behold, thou, &c. 2. She commends fellowship with him under the similitude of bed, house and galleries, vers. 16. 17. From the connexion of this with the former purpose, ye may see how rest­lesse believers are, when they meet with any commendation from Christ, till they get it turned over to his commendation and praise: And this is the property of a believer, to be improving every good word they get from Christ, to his own commenda­tion that speaks it; This is the end and design why grace is be­stowed upon believers, that it may turn in the upshot and issue to the commendation of his grace. 2. That there is nothing more readily warms the hearts of believers, with love, and looses their tongues in expressions of commending Christ, than the intimation of his love to them; this makes their tongue as the pen of a ready writer, Psal. 45. 1.

More particularly in this commendation the Bride gives him, ye will find these four things. 1. There is the stile she gives him, my beloved. 2. There is the commendation given, and it's the same with the commendation which in the former verse he gave her. 3. The note of attention prefixed, Behold. Lastly, [Page 108] an addition to the commendation Christ gave her, while she turns it over upon him, and which is as a qualification of Christ's beau­ty; because one expression will not do it, she makes use of two, thou art fair (saith she) yea pleasant: He had said she was [...]air, nay (saith she) thou art fair, &c. she turnes it over to him, be­cause the same things that are commendable i [...] her, are infinitly and much more commendable in him; that which is in the be­liever, being the extract of the principal which is in him, Christ being the principal, and the graces that are in the believer but the transumpt or copie: All these things are in Christ like the light in the Sun, and in the believer but like the light in the Moon, communicat to it by the Sun; and they are in Christ as in their own element and ocean, and in the believer but like some litle stream communicat from that infinit fountain; and it's upon this ground, that the same commendation given by Christ to her, is tu [...]ned over by her to him: And it's even as much as if she had said to him, My beloved, what is my [...]airnesse? It's thou who art fair, I am not worthy to be reckoned fair, the commendation belongs to thee, thou art worthy of it: And this is the nature of love in believers, to blush (in a manner) when Christ commends them, and to cast all such commendations back again upon him, that they may rest upon Christ, as the party who deserves them best.

From the title ye may see here, 1. Much humility in the Bride, and also much reverence and respect to Christ, which is the reason why she will not let the commendation lye upon her, but puts it back upon him: Love to Christ, and estimation of him, aimes alwayes at this, that whatever is commendable in the be­liever, should ultimatly resolve upon him. 2. Here is much fa­miliarity, notwithstanding of her humility, in that she calls him my beloved, as he called her my love. Humility and reverence, an high estimation of Christ, and confidence in him, and familiari­ty with him go all well together in the believer; and the believ­er would labour to have all these in exercise together, and would never let one of them part from another. In a word, it is a humble familiar way in believing, which we would aime at. 3. One special thing that makes Christ lovely to believers, and [Page 109] natively stirreth them up to commend him, is when they are clear anent his love to them.

If it be asked, why she turnes over this commendatien to him in the second person, Thou art, &c? Ans. She doth it, 1. To testifie her sincerity, that she was not flattering nor complement­ing, but she durst make him witnesse of what she said. 2. To shew that there are many spiritual con [...]erences, and sweet soliloquies between the souls of believers and Christ, wherein they are very [...]amiliar with him, which none knowes, nor can know, but Christ and they; for, she is speaking to him when no body knowes, and he to her. 3. Because there are many divine experiences of be­lievers, that are scarcely communicable to any other, but Christ: and therefore she will tell them over to him.

The commendation she puts upon him, is even the same which he before gave her, Thou art fair (saith she) And that which she aimes at in this, is, 1. To set forth the exceeding great beauty that is in our Lord Jesus; which beauty is spiritually to be un­derstood, n [...]mely of the qualifications wherewith he is furnished, having grace poured into his lips, Psal. 45. 2. Ioh. 1. 14. 2. The great esteem that the believer hath of Christ, and that both for what he is in himself, and for what he is to him: Thou art fair in thy self (saith she) and fair to me; and it sayes, a litle glimpse of Christ's beauty, hath an attractive efficacy upon the heart of a believer: When Christ Jesus is seen, it puts a wonderful stamp of love upon the hearts of his people; he hath a very amiable aspect, that cannot but get love in the beholders, as they said that heard him, never man spake as he speaks; so they that have seen him, will say, never mans countenance looked like his, amongst all the sons of men he bears the standard, and hath a lovelinesse wherein he is beyond them all: No wonder, he being the brightnesse of his Fathers glory, and the expresse image of his person. 3. It is to shew, wherefrom all her beauty was derived (as was hinted be­fore) it was from his; If I be fair (saith she) it is because thou art fair, it's thy beauty that puts beauty upon me.

The third thing, is the Behold prefixed, and it holds out these three. 1. The excellency and admirablenesse of the matter: [Page 110] Christ's beauty, is a subject of a most transcendent and admirable excellency. 2. Her seriousnesse in the expressions of his commenda­tion, as having her heart at her mouth, while she speaks of it, being so affected and taken up with it. 3. Though he needed not, yet she needed up-stirring, her self: and there was need she should stir up others, and therefore this word, for her own, and others cause, is prefixed.

The last part of this commendation, is (as was said) an addi­tion to what he spoke in her commendation: yea, pleasant saith she; This pleasantnesse, and lovelinesse doth relate to the com­municativenesse of Christ's worth, his communicating of what is lovely in him to others; It had not been enough for us, that he had been lovely in himself as God, if he were not also lovely by that relation that is between him and a believer in the Covenant of grace, whereby there is not only a communicablenesse, but also an actual communication of these things to a believer, which may make him lovely, and beautiful before God. And this makes Christ pleasant, that of his fulnesse we receive and grace for grace, Ioh. 1. 16. When the believer shares of Christ's fulnesse, he can­not but be beautiful, and Christ cannot but be pleasant. And in­deed if we could expresse any thing of the importance of the word, it is a most material and massy expression, of that inexpressible worth that is in him, and likewise of a believers estimation of it; And, 1. In the general it imports this, A difficulty in commending Christ rightly, there cannot be words gotten for it; the thing that is commendable in him, is so large that words, yea, the most su­perlative of them, come far short in setting him forth. 2. It sets forth, how unsatisfied believers are with their own expressions of that worth, which they see to be in him; they think the first word unsuitable, and therefore they passe on to another, and in the close, they are forced as it were to give it over, and to say, Thou art altogether lovely. 3. It imports, that there is no kind of thing that may commend Christ, wherein he is defective; he hath not only the materials of beauty (so to say) but he hath the form. All things that are in Christ, are wonderfully delight­some and pleasant to look on. Lastly, this expression implyes, [Page 111] an exceeding great refreshfulnesse and contentednesse, which Christ Jesus doth yeeld to a believer; and that exceeding great satisfaction and delight, that a believer may have in looking on Christ: This word pleasant, speaks their actual feeding upon the beautiful sight they have gotten of him, so that they cannot be withdrawn from it: Must not Christ be lovely, when his people get eyes to see him? and must it not be a heartsome life to be in heaven, where they behold him, who is fair and lovely, as he is, and have their eyes fixed on him for ever, when he is so beau­tiful even hereaway, where we see him but darkly, thorow a glasse, and much of his beauty is vailed from our eyes?

That which followes, is the inlargement of the Brides com­mendation of Jesus Christ, as he is called a beloved or husband, for she followes that Allegory in commending his bed, house, and galleries; And this is the scope, to shew how excellent & stately a husband he was, And, 2. How happy and comfortable a life his Bride had in communion and fellowship with him. In the words these three are to be cleared, 1. What is commended, as bed, house, &c. 2. The several commendations given to these. 3. The title of claim, or relation under which they are commended, Our bed, &c.

That which is commended, is expressed by three words. 1. Bed 2. The beams of the house. 3. Rafters. In sum, it is this, that as husbands (who are in good condition) have beds to solace in with their Brides; houses to dwell in, and galleries to walk in, for their refreshing, and have these excellently adorned accor­ding to their rank; so our blessed husband excells in these. By bed, is understood the special means of neerest fellowship with, and injoying of Christ; The bed being the place of rest, and of the neerest fellowship between the Bridegroom and the Bride.

It's commendation is, that it's green: That is, 1. Refresh­ful, like the Spring. 2. Fruitful, and so the similitude of green­nesse is opposed to a disconsolat, barren, unfruitful condition, Psal. 92. 12, 13. and Ier. 17. 8. So then, that which is here pointed at, is, that neernesse with Christ, is both exceeding heart­some [Page 112] and refreshful, and also hath much influence on believers to keep them fresh, and make them fruitful.

The second thing commended, is the beams of the house; The house is of a larger extent than the bed: It signifies the Church, wherein Christ dwels with his Bride; The beames of it, are the Ordinances, Word, Sacraments, promises of the Covenant, &c. whereby the house is both compacted together, and sustained; there being no living with Christ, nor fellowship with him, with­out these. The commendation is, that it's of Cedar. 1. Ce­dar was a durable wood. 2. Excellent and precious. Chap. 3. 10. 3. It was typical of Christ, and therefore used in the ceremonial services: So this commendation holds forth the excellent nature of the ordinances, and promises, being of great worth, precious, and perpetual in their use to the Church, while upon earth: But it doth especially hold forth the eternal excellency and worth, and the durable power and strength of Christ, the main corner­stone of this building, Eph. 2. 20, 22.

The third word is, rafters: It's on the margent, galleries, and so we take it, being rendred so, Chap. 7. 5. The word signifies to run alongst: and the scope here, is to shew what pleasant walks there are with Christ; or, how pleasant a thing it is to walk with him, as to dwell with him, and lye, or bed with him,. So to walk with him, must needs be pleasant: And this Metaphor (with the rest) is here made use of, it being ordinary in this Song, under such expressions, to hold forth the love, fellowship, that is be­twixt Christ and his Church: Now these galleries are said to be of Fir, or Cypresse, a durable wood. This word is not else-where in Scripture, but the scope shewes, it's some fine thing, and points out the unspeakable satisfaction, and pleasure which is to be had in a life of walking with him.

3. She claimes title to all these, bed, house, galleries: she saith not thy bed, nor my bed (whereby Chap. 3. she signifies her own carnal ease and rest) but our bed, our house, &c. whereby she points at somewhat which both of them had joint interest in, and did together converse into; although her interest be com­municat [Page 113] from him; yet she keeps the manner of speech suitable to husband and wife.

These words shew, 1. That th [...]re be several degrees of fel­lowship with Christ, and several wayes and means, for entertain­ing of it; some more neer, as when he lay betwixt her breasts; some more mediat (when, as it were) he and she only live together in the house, which may point at her trading with Christ in the Ordinances, but without sensible manifestations; and also be­lievers walking with him in their ordinary callings, even when they are not in duties of immediat worship, which is signified by galleries. 2. Any of these degrees and means of fellowship, are excellent in themselves, and to be pressed and sought after by the believer. 3. The neerest mean of fellowship with Christ, is most refreshful to spiritual sense, the bed more than the house. 4. Yet though it be so, believers would not divide them; but would think much of all the means and ordinances, even as long as they abide here. 5. There is a mutual relation betwixt Christ and his Bride, which gives a mutual interest in, and relation to all that is his; What ever is his, it's ours, his bed is ours, his house ours, &c. 6. Believers that can lay claim to Christ, may and should claim interest in all that is his. 7. This makes every dispensati­on lovely, and every step of our walk heartsome, when under every dispensation, and in every step of our walk, we are living a life of fellowship with Christ, to be spending all our time in lying, dwell­ing and walking with Christ, O how sweet a life were that! 8. The meanes of fellowship with Christ, in all places and times, are so well contrived, and so large and refreshful, as they contri­bute exceedingly to make a believer cheerful in all duties of worship, and in all his conversation; For we here see, there are bed, house and galleries provided in order to her keeping com­pany with Christ.


Part 1. CHRISTS Words.

Vers. 1.‘I am the Rose of Sharon, and the Lilie of the valleys.’
Vers. 2.‘As the lilie among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.’

THis second Chapter contains the same scope, and runs in the same strain, with the former. It hath two principal parts: In the first, Christ speaks in the first two verses. In the second, the Bride continues to the end.

Again, in these two verses, Christ doth first commend himself, vers. 1. 2. He describes his Bride, vers. 2.

That it's he who speaks, appears thus; 1. It's clear, at first looking upon the words, that he speaks in the 2. verse, and who else can be thought to speak in the first? He is the I in the first verse, who claims the Bride by this possessive particle my in the second. 2. The words, I am the rose of Sharon, &c. are stately, becoming him alone to speak them; Like these, I am the true vine, I am the bread of life, &c. And so majestick is the commendation, that it can agree to none other, but to him. 3. The Brids work is to commend him, and not her self, especially with a commendation beyond what he giveth her, vers. 2. And there­fore the first verse must be Christ's words, not hers.

The scope is, (for her instruction and comfort now in affliction,) that he may make her know himself: The very knowing of Christ is comfortable, and it's one of the most excellent, rare and ra­vishing things he can shew his Bride, to shew her himself, or to make her know him: Neither can he choise a subject more pro­fitable in it self, or more welcome to her, to insist on, than to [Page 115] display his own beauty, whereby she may see her blessednesse in such a match.

In the first verse then, Christ comes-in commending himself, I am the rose of Sharon, and the lilie of the valleys. The rose is a sweet savouring flower, and so is the lilie: Sharon and the valleys are added, because these roses and lilies that grew there, were the best that were to be found. He is said to be that rose, or the rose, and the lilie, as if there were no other, to distinguish him, as excellent and singular from all others. He thus sets forth himself to shew, 1. That Christ Jesus hath a most lovely savour, and a most delightful and refreshful smell, to them that have spi­ritual senses to discern what is in him. 2. That there is nothing refreshful in creatures, but it is more eminently and infinitly in him; Therefore he is called the rose and the lilie. 3. That what­ever excellency is in Christ, is singularly and incomparably in him; There is no other rose, or lilie but he: and what excel­lency is to be found in others, doth not deserve the name, be­ing compared with him. 4. That he is never suitably commended, till he be lifted up above all. 5. That none can commend Christ to purpose, but himself; he takes it therefore on him, I am, &c He can indeed commend himself effectually, and none but he can do it. 6. That he manifests more of his lovelinesse to these who have gotten a begun sight and esteem of it; for, she had been commending it formerly, and now he discovers more of it to her. 7. That it's one of Christ's greatest favours to his Bride, and one of the special effects of his love, to set out himself as lovely to her, and to bear-in his lovelinesse upon her heart; and this is the scope here.

In the second verse, he describes his Bride. Here we have these things to consider. 1. What she is, a lilie. 2. What o­thers of the world beside are, called here the daughters (so men without the Church are to the Church, and corrupt men in the Church are to believers) that is, daughters of their mother the world; no kindly daughters to her, they are thorns. 3. The posture of Christ's Spouse, she is as a lilie among thorns, a strange posture and soil, for our Lord's love and lilie to grow in.

The lilie is pleasant, savoury and harmlesse; thorns are worth, [Page 116] lesse, unpleasant and hurtful. The lilies being compared with them, and placed amongst them, sets out both her excellency a­bove them, and her sufferings from them. In general, Obs. 1. Christ drawes his own beauty and the Brides together, thereby to shew their kindred, and sibnesse (so to speak) she is not right­ly taken up, but when she is looked upon as standing by him; and he not fully set forth, nor known without her. 2. He took two titles to himself, and he gives one of them to the Bride, the lilie; but with this difference, that he is the lilie, she as, or like the lilie; Setting forth, 1. Wherein her beauty consists, It's in likenesse to him. 2. From whom it comes, it's from him, her being his love, makes like the lilie. 3. The neernesse of the mysti [...]al union, that is between Christ and his Bride; it is such, that thereby they some way share names, Ier. 23. 6. and Chap. 33. 16. 3. He intermixes her beauty and crosses together, drawing them on one table, to give her a view of both; and that for her humbling, and also for her comfort: It's not good for believers, to look only to the one without the other.

More particularly, Obs. 1. Christ's Bride is very lovely, and beautiful. 2. The children of the world are natively hurtful to her. 3. In Christ's account the believer is exceedingly preferable to all others, of whatsoever place or qualifications in the world. 4. Christ's relation and affection, doth not alwayes keep off out­ward afflictions from his own Bride. 5. It's native to believers to have a crossed life in the world, their plantation here among thorns speaks it. 6. That the crosses are of more kinds than one, which believers are environed with, thorns grow on all hands beside Christ's lilie. 7. Holinesse and innocency will not alwayes prevent wrongs and injuries from others, thorns will wrong even the lilie. 8. Christ observes here, how she looks in her suffer­ings, and so he takes special notice, how his people carry in a suf­fering lot. 9. It's commendable to keep clean under sufferings, and to be lilie-like, even amongst thorns.

Part 2. BRIDES Words.

Vers. 3.‘As the Apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.’

The second part of the Chapter may be sub-divided in two, First, from the third verse, the Bride comes in speaking as in a lively frame, to vers. 8. 2. From that to the end, she speaks as being at some distance with the Bridegroom.

In the first part. 1. She commends Christ, and layes down this commendation, as the ground of her consolation, vers. 3. 2. She proves it by her experience, ibid. 3. Explains the way of her coming to that experience, vers. 4. 4. She cryes out under the sense of it, vers. 5. 5. She shewes his tender care of her in that condition, vers. 6. And lastly, expresseth her fear, lest there should be any change to the worse in her condition, and her care to prevent it, vers. 7.

The dependence of the third verse upon the second, is clear: She takes the commendation out of Christ's mouth, which he gave her, and after that same manner almost turns it over on him, as she had done, Chap. 1. 16. and then comforts her self in him: Hath she crosses? then he hath a shadow to hide her, and with this she setles her self, and doth not complain of her suffer­ings. Hence, Obs. 1. There is no s [...]aying of the heart against af­flictions, but in Christ. 2. It's better for believers to insist in commending him, than describing their crosses.

Here there is, 1. The Brides esteem of the children of the world, called here the sons, they are like wild barren trees, that gives no fruit or comfort: The world is exceeding little worth, espe­cilay [Page 122] to these who know Christ. 2. Her esteem of Christ, he is like the Apple-tree: There is great odds betwixt Christ and all the world; there is ever fruit to be found on him, and a shadow in him. This is proven by her experience (for they that have felt and tasted how sweet he is, can speak somewhat to this) I en­countered with many difficulties, (sayes she) like scorchings of the Sun (See on Chap. 1. vers. 5.) and could find no shelter, nor refreshment amongst the creatures; but I resolved to make use of Christ by faith, in reference to them (even as men do, by in­terposing a tree betwixt them and the heat, that they may have a shadow) and I found refreshing and ease, by the benefits and pri­viledges that flow from Christ, and are purchased by him, and are injoyed by vertue of an interest in him; which were very comfortable, even as sweet apples from an apple-tree, are re­freshful to one sitting under it's shadow in a great heat.

Obs. 1. Believers may be scorched with outward and inward heat; they may be exercised not only with sharp outward afflicti­ons, but also with the sense of Gods wrath, and with the fiery darts of Satan's temptations. 2. Christ is a compleat shadow, and a cure for all. 3. They that would find Christ a shadow from the heat, must make use of him, and imploy him for that end; They must sit down, &c. 4. Believers never flee to his shadow till some heat scorch them; For, her being scorched with heat, is supposed here, as that which made the shadow refreshful. 5. Faith in Christ, will compose the Believer in the midst of the greatest difficulties; It will set them down &c., yea and delight them al­so. 6. Much of the nature and exercise of faith, in it's use-making of Christ, appears in it's interpesing of Christ betwixt us and wrath, or whatever may be troublesome to us, and in the quiet­ing of our selves upon that ground; for, this is it that is meant by sitting down under his shadow. 7. There are many choise and excellent fruits in Christ, that flow from him to believers. 8. All the spiritual benefits and priviledges that believers enjoy, are Christ's fruits; they are his fruits by purchase and right, and by him communicat to believers. 9. Believers eat and feed, and may with his blessed allowance do so upon what is his. 10. Christ's fruits are exceeding sweet, when they are eaten; they [Page 123] are satisfyingly, and, as it were, sensibly sweet. 11. These sweet fruits are neither eaten, nor the sweetnesse of them felt by be­lievers, till they go to Christ's shadow, and sit down delightsom­ly under his righteousnesse; then they become refreshful.

Vers. 4.‘He brought me to the banquet­ing-house, and his banner over me was love.’

She proceeds in expressing her cheerful condition, by shewing the way of her accesse to it, vers. 4. He brought me, &c. Where­in, 1. She sets out the sweetnesse of the injoyment of Christ's sensible love, by comparing it to a feast, or house of wine. 2. She tells who it was that brought her to it, He brought me. 3. The manner how she was brought to it; It was by the out-letting of his love, His banner (saith she) over me was love. The first ex­pression sets forth three things, 1. The great abundance of satis­fying and refreshing blessings, that are to be found in Christ; such abundance of provision as useth to be laid up at a feast, or in a banqueting-house. 2. His liberal allowance thereof to his own, who for that end hath laid up this provision for them. 3. The nature of the intertainment; It's a feast of the best and most cor­dial things, a house of wine. The second is, He, that is, Christ brought me in. It shewes, 1. Believers impotency to enter in there of themselves, and their want of right, that may give them accesse to the blessings that are laid up in Christ. 2. That it's Christ who makes their accesse; he purchased an entry by his death, he applyes his purchase by his Spirit, and dispenseth it by his office, and so brings them in. 3. It suppons a freedom of grace in the bringing them in: They are brought in by his meer favour. 4. It contains a thankful remembrance, or acknowledg­ment of this deed of Christ's, and an holding of this savour of him. The third holds forth the manner how she is brought in; It's under a banner of love: A stately manner; it was love that brought her in: The expression implyeth, that not only it was [Page 124] love that moved him to bring her in, but that he did it in a loving manner, which amplifieth and heightens his love: She comes in marching, as it were, in triumph, having love like a banner, or colours, adorning this march, and making way for her entry; so that even in the manner of her being brought in, the general predominant, visible thing (as it were) that appeared, was love. Obs. 1. Christ will somtimes bring his people in to the sense of his love, exceeding lovingly and kindly, even as to the manner of in­gaging them. 2. Believers would observe his way with them. 3. This loving manner, in the way of his dealing with his people, doth exceedingly commend his love, and is an heightening con­sideration of it. 4. Christ's love is in it self a most stately, and triumphant thing. 5. It's only the love of Christ, that secures believers in their battels and march, against their spiritual ad­versaries; And indeed they may fight, who have love for their colours and banner.

Vers. 5.‘Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples, for I am sick of love.’

She is almost overcome with this banquet, and therefore cryes out for help, vers. 5. Here consider, 1. The case she is in. 2. The cure she calls for. 3. From whom she seeks it.

Her case is, That she is sick of love. This is not to be taken for the fainting of a soul under absence, and the want of sense; all the context before and after, and the scope will shew it's other­wise with her: But it's a sicknesse from the weight and pressour of felt inconceivable love, damishing her (as it were) and weak­ning her, she cannot abide that sight and fulnesse which she injoyes.

2. The cure she desires confirms this, Stay me, (saith she) or support me, for I am like to fall under it; and comfort me, the word is, strengthen me, or bed me, straw me with, or in apples, let me lye down amongst them. The first expression looks to the house of wine where she was, which suppons no want, and may be rendred, Stay me in flagons, as seeking support in this holy fill [Page 125] of the Spirit, whereby she was staggering. The second looks to the Apple-tree, vers. 3. and she would ever roll her self amongst the apples that come from this tree; and like the Disciples, Mat. 17. 4. saith (as it were) it's good to be here▪ she would even be fixed and ly down in that posture, never to part with this happy condition again.

3. These she speaks to, and from whom she seeks help, are ex­pressed in the plural-number (as is clear in the Original) which shews a ravishment and kind of rapture in this exclamation; not observing to whom she speaks, but expressing her delight in that which she enjoyed, yet mainly intending Christ (as the Disciples did, Matth. 17. not knowing what they said) for it's he who ap­plyes the cure in the next verse.

Obs. 1. Love will have a great out-letting at sometimes beyond others as if a dam were gathered, and then letten out. 2. Sense of love in a high degree will straiten and weight a believer, as overburthening and overpowring him, so as he is put to say, hold, and wo's me, as it is, Isa. 6 5. the nature of Gods presence is such, and our infirmity so unsuitable thereto. 3. Love is lovely when the believer is almost dotting with it, and staggering under the weight and power of it. 4. It can cure even the same sickness it makes, These flagons and apples are the only remedy, though our bottles be now weak, and can hold but little of this new wine.

Vers. 6.‘His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me.’

She expresseth Christ's care of her in this condition, vers. 6. as a most loving Husband, he sustains he in his arms, in this swoun and swarf, which from joy she fals in, as the words do plainly bear. Obs. 1. Christ's love is a sensible sustaining thing, and is able to support the heart under it's greatest weakness. 2. As Christ is ten­der of all his people, and at all times, so especially when they are in their fits of love-sickness. 3. As believers would observe Christ's love at all times, so especially when they are weakest; for then they will find it both seasonable and profitable so to do.

Vers. 7.‘I charge you, O ye Daughters of Ie­rusalem; by the Roes, and by the Hindes of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my Love, till he please.’

This verse contains her care to entertain this condition, and the way she takes for that end. That they are the Brides words, is, 1. clear from the scope and matter. 2. From the expressions she useth, speaking of him, my Love, and till he please; for, it becomes us to give Christ his own liberty in staying or going, and it were not our good that our pleasure were the rule in our fellowship with him. Now in order to the securing of this comfortable con­dition to her self; first, she adjures and charges, which is, 1. To shew the concernment of the thing. 2. Her seriousness in it; for, she is in very great earnest. 3. A fear of misguiding this condi­tion. 4. A difficulty so to prevent the hazard, as to keep all quiet.

2. The parties she speaks to, while she thus adjures, are the Daughters of Ierusalem, giving them the lesson she would take to her self, because they had need to be thus guarded. Obs. 1. That professors are in hazard to marr their own enjoyments, and to in­terrupt an intimate fellowship with Christ. 2. Beginners are rea­diest to fall in this sin. 3. Seriousnesse will stir up believers to be watchful over themselves, and will make them presse others to be so also.

This expression, by the Roes and Hindes of the field, is but added, for keeping the strain of this Song (which is composed in an Alle­gorick way, and every similitude is not to be narrowly searched in­to) and to shew how tenderly they ought to watch, to prevent this hazard, as men having to do with Roes▪ who are soon stirred; Shewing that a little thing may stir up Christ, and marr the com­fortable fellowship that is between him and his people.

3. The charge it self is, That they stir not up, nor awake the Be­loved; as a wife would say (when her husband is come home and [Page 127] resting in her arms) be quiet all, and let no din be in the house to awake him: And this charge reaches her self, as well as others; when she as the mother, commands all the little-ones or children (as it were) to be quiet, that Christ may not be stirred up, and made to remove; she ought to be much more careful in this her self. Hence, Observe, 1. If a sensible presence be not tenderly entertained, it will not last. 2. Believers would be most carefull then, when they are admitted to near and sensible fellowship with Christ, that nothing fall out which may provoke him to depart. 3. The least sinful motions, and stirrings of corruption would be suppressed, as having a great tendency to provoke and stir up the Beloved to be gone.

Lastly, This charge is qualified in these words, till he please: Which does not imply, that she gives them leave at any time to stir him up; but the meaning is, see that by your fault he be not awaked, till his own time come. Observe then, 1. Christ guids his visits and love-manifestations, by his soveralignty and pleasure. 2. He may withdraw from his people without respect to any parti­cular provocation, as having sinful influence thereupon. 3. Christ's pleasure is believers rule, in the things that are most precious to them: Here she acquiesces, even to his withdrawing, when he shall please. 4. Believers may have peace, and be quiet under absence, if they have not sinfully provoked Christ to withdraw: For, this is the thing the Bride aims at, as to her self, in this her care. 5. Often believers are guilty in marring Christ's fellowship with them before he please, and they might enjoy Christ's company much longer oftentimes, if they did not sin him out of house and doors.

Vers. 8.‘The voice of my Beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.’
[Page 128]Vers. 9.‘My Beloved is like a Roe, or a young Hart: Behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattesse.’

These words contain a case of the Brides, different from her case in the former words; there she was in Christ's arms; here she sees him afar off; there she was endeavouring to keep him still; here she is sensible that he is away, and, vers. ult. is praying for his return. Observe then from the connexion, The most satisfying and comfortable conditions of a believer, while upon earth, are not abiding; even the Bride must experience distance, as well as presence. 2. Sometimes sensible presence will not continue, even when believers are most careful to retain it, as we find she was in the words before.

Her distance hath two steps, 1. There are some views of Christ, and some intercourse with him, though afar off, in this Chapter: Then, 2. she is deprived even of that, in the first part of the Chapter following: And readily distance once begun, doth pro­ceed from a lesser to a greater degree, before it be removed.

More particularly, we would observe here, 1. What is Christ's carriage, when the Bride doth not enjoy sensible presence in so lively a way; and that in two things, 1. What he is doing; he is co [...]ing, leaping, standing behind the wall, looking thorow the lattess, &c. 2. What he is saying, he is speaking to her, and, as it were, writing kind love-letters to her at that same time: Christ is both doing and speaking kindly to a believer, even when he is away to sense, if it be well discerned. 2. We may see what is the Brides carriage suitable to his, in four steps (worthy to be imitate by believers, for their own peace, in their disconsolate condition) 1. She observes what he doth, though it be but a twilight discovery she hath of him. 2. She records what he saith, and reads his Epistle often over. 3. She comforts her self in keeping the faith of her interest, and the hope of future enjoying of him, clear. And, 4. prayes in [Page 129] the mean time, for some manifestations of his love, till that come. The first is, vers. 8. and 9. The second, vers. 10. to 16. The third vers. 16. and 17. The fourth in the close of the 17. vers.

In her observation of Christ's way with her, vers. 8. Consider, 1. his practice, which she observes. 2. Her observation of it. 3. How she is affected with it. And lastly, her expression of it.

The first of these is contained in these words, He cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. There are four things here to be taken notice of, 1. A supposed distance, for when he is said to be coming, he is not present: This distance is not in reali­ty, as to the union that is betwixt Christ and a Believer, that is alway the same; but it is to be understood as to the sense of his presence, which may be interrupted. 2. It's said he cometh; Coming imports his drawing near to remove the distance, as being already on his way. Obs. 1. It's his coming that removes the distance be­tween him and his people: The first motion of love is still on his side. And, 2. even when Christ is absent, if he were well seen, he is making way for our nearer union with him, and is upon his way coming again, Ioh. 14. 3. Even when he is away he is still coming, though it may be afterward the distance seem to grow greater, and the night of absence darker. The third thing is, That there are mountains which he comes over, that is some­thing standing betwixt him and us, marring our accesse to him, and his familiarity with us, till he remove it, as mountains ob­struct mens way in travel; and so difficulties in the way of Gods work are compared to mountains, Zech. 4. 7. Who art thou, O great mountain? &c. So here, as there are difficulties to be removed, before the union betwixt Christ and us be made up.

So also there are particular sins, clouds of guiltinesse, which must be removed, ere his presence can be restored after he goeth away. Again, coming over mountains, maketh one conspicuous and glorious afar off; So Christ's march and return to a be­liever is ever in triumph, over some great ground of distance, which makes him discernably glorous. 4ly. Christ is said to be leaping and skipping: which imports, 1. an agility in him, and a facility to overcome whatever is in the way. 2. A chearfulness and [Page 130] heartiness in doing of it; He comes with delight over the highest Hill that is in his way, when he returns to his people. 3. It holds forth speedinesse, Christ comes quickly, and he is never behind his time, he cannot mistryst a believer; his term-day is their necessi­ty, and be sure he will meet with them then. 4. It imports a beau­ty, Majesty and statelinesse in his coming, as one in triumph; and so he comes triumphantly and in great state; And what is more stately than Christs triumphing over principalities and powers, and making a shew of them openly, by overcoming the difficulties in his way to his Bride.

The second thing in the Verse, is her observation of this; Christ in his way is very discernable to any that is watchful, and Believers should observe his way when absent, as well as present. If it be asked how she discerned it? There is no question, faith is here ta­king up Christ according to his promise, Ioh. 14. 3. If I go away, I come again; and faith lays hold on this: Faith is a good friend in desertion, for as we may here see, it speaks good of Christ even be­hind his back, when sense would say he will return no more, faith sayes he is coming, and prophesies good of Christ, as there is good reason.

The third thing is, how she is affected with it; This observati­on proves very comfortable to her, as her abrupt and cutted ex­pression imports, The voice of my Beloved: As also, the Behold, she puts to it, which shews, 1. That her heart was much affected with it. 2. That she thought much of it. 3. That it was some way wonderful that Christ was coming, even over all these difficulties to her; there is no such ravishing wonder to a sensible believing sinner, as this, that Christ will passe by all its sin, yea take them all on himself, and come over all difficulties▪ unto them; Therefore is this behold, added here.

The fourth thing in her expression of this, which confirms the former, and it is such as sets out a heart, as it were surprized, and overcome with the sight of a coming friend. Hence Obs. 1. A sin­ners thoughts of a coming Christ, will be deeply affecting; and these thoughts of him are mis-shapen and of no worth, that do not in some measure cast fire into, and inflame the affection [...] ▪ And, 2. a heart suitably affected with the power of Christs wonderful grace [Page 131] and love, will be expressing somewhat of it to others, as the Bride is doing here.

In the 9. vers. the observation of his carriage is continued: where, 1. He is commended. 2. His carriage is described, with her observation of it. The commendation she gives him is, He is like a Roe, or a young Hart: These creatures are famous, for loving and kindly carriage to their mates, as also for lovelinesse and plea­santnesse in themselves, Prov. 5. 19. Thus he is kindly and loving: O so kind as Christ is to his Church and chosen! Ionathan's love to David past the love of Women, but this surpasseth that, beyond all degrees of comparison. 2. He is timous and seasonable, in ful­filling his purposes of love to his Bride, no Roe or Hart for swift­nesse is like him in this; and this may be the ground, from which she concludeth that he was coming and leaping in the former words, because Christ's affections, and way of manifesting them, is such as this.

2. His carriage is set forth in three steps, held forth in allegorick expressions. The 1. is, He stands behind our wall, that is, as a lo­ving Husband may withdraw from the sight of his Spouse for a time, and yet not be far away, but behind a wall, and there standing to see what will be her carriage, and to be ready to return; or as Nurses will do with their little children, to make them seek after them; so sayes she, though Christ now be out of sight, yet he is not far off, but, as it were, behind the wall; and its called our wall, in reference to some other she speaks with, of him; And a wall, because often we build up these separations our selves, betwixt him and us (Isa. 59. 1.) that hides Christ, as a wall hides one man from another; yet even then Christ goes not away, but waits to be gracious, as weary with forbearing: There is much love on Christs side, in saddest desertions, and our hand is often deep in his withdrawings: It's sad when the wall that hides him, is of our buil­ding: There is often nothing betwixt him and us, but our own sin.

The 2. step is, He looketh forth at the window; which is to the same purpose. The meaning is, though I get not a full sight of him, yet he opens, as it were, a window, and looks out, and I get some little glance of his face: Sometimes Christ will neither (as it were) let the Believer in to him, nor will he come out to them; yet he [Page 132] will make windows, as it were, in the wall, and give blinks of him­self unto them.

The third step is, He shews himself through the Lattess; that is, as there are some Windows that have Tirlesses of Lattesses on them, by which men will see clearly, and yet be but in a little measure seen; so, sayes she, Christ is beholding us, though we cannot take him up fully; yet the smallest bore whereby Christ manifests him­self, is much, and to be acknowledged. All this she observes with a Behold, as discerning something wonderful in all these steps: Christ hath several wayes of communicating his love to his people (and that also even under desertions and withdrawings) and there are several degrees of these, yet the least of them is wonderful, and should be welcomed by believers, if it were to see him, but through the Lattess.

Vers. 10.‘My beloved spake, and said unto me, rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’
Vers. 11.‘For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over, and gone.’
Vers. 12.‘The flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.’
Vers. 13.‘The Fig-tree putteth forth her green Figs, and the Vine, with the tender Grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.’

Having put by her observation of his carriage, she comes to speak to the second part, namely what was her carriage; and it was to read over, or think over with her self, or to tell over to others, what Christ had said unto her: This is a main piece of spiritual [Page 133] wisdom, to fill Christs room in his absence with his word and call, and to read his mind only from these, the best interpreters of it. These words prefaced to Christ's Epistle or Sermon, my beloved spake, and said unto me, are not idly set down, before she tell what the words which he spake were, But, 1. It shews she delights in repeating his Name, for she had made mention of it before, vers. 8. 2. It shews what commended Christ's epistle or words to her, it was not only the matter therein contained (though that was warm and sweet) but it's come (saith she) from my beloved, it was he that said this, it was he that sent me this word. 3. It shews her discerning of his voice; and her as­surance, that the word, call, and promise (she was refreshing her self with) was his word, and no devised fable. It's a notable ground of consolation in Christ's absence to believers, when they are clear, that such and such gracious words come out of Christ's own mouth to them. 4. It sayes, that fellowship with Christ, is no dumb exercise; these that are admitted to fellowship with him, he will be speaking with them, otherwise then with the world. And, 5. That a believer hath an ear to hear, not only what the Minister saith, but also what Christ saith. 6. It's the word as from Christ's own mouth, that hath any effectual im­pression; and a believer will receive it as such, that it may leave such an impression upon his heart. 7. When Christ quickens a word, it will be sweet; and such a word will be retained, so that these who have been quickned by it, will be able long afterward to repeat it: It's our getting little good of the word of the Lord, that makes us retain it so ill. 8. It affords much satis­faction to a believer, when he can say, Christ said this, or that to me, and that it's no delusion. 9. What Christ sayes unto the spirits of his own, in communion with them, it may bide the light, and is, on the matter, that same which he sayes in the Word and Gospel, as we will see in the following discourse, which for this end, and for the edification of others, and honour of the Belo­ved, she tells over.

We may take these words, or epistles of Christ's, as directed to three sorts (as the duty here pressed, rise and come away will bear,) 1. To these that are dead in sins, whom Christ by his [Page 134] voice quickens, and makes to rise, Iohn 5. 28. Although this be not the immediat intent of it, as it's spoken to a believer; yet considering the scope of recording this, and the matter con­tained in it, it may well be thought useful to ingage these who are yet strangers to Christ, there being still but the same way of making at the first, and afterward recovering nearnesse with him, to wit, by faith in him; and so it will presse receiving of, and clo­sing with Christ. 2. We may consider it as spoken to believers, but to such as sleep, or are sitten up; so it presseth quickening: And, 3. As spoken to believers in a disconsolat, discouraged con­dition; so it's scope is to stir, quicken, rouse and comfort Christs Bride, in any of these two last cases, that he may bring her in to more nearnesse of fellowship with himself, and to more boldnesse in the use-making of him; which is the great scope he aimes at.

There are three parts of this Sermon or Epistle. 1. There is a kindly invitation, that mainly respects the pressing of faith, from vers. 10. to 14. 2. There is a loving direction or two, vers. 14. looking especially to the practise of duties. 3. Least any thing should be wanting, he gives a direction concerning the troublers of her peace, vers. 15.

In all these parts, there are four things common to be found in each of them, 1. Some sadnesse in her condition supposed. 2. Some directions given to cure it. 3. Some motives used, to presse the practise of these directions. 4. Some repetitions, to shew his seriousnesse in all, and the concernment of the thing spoken.

The case wherein these who are here spoken to, are suppo­sed to be, in this first part of Christ's Sermon, vers. 10, &c. is, 1. Deadnesse, total or partial: Believers may be under a decay, and be in part dead. 2. It is supposed that they are secure, and not vigorous; but insensible in a great part of that ill. 3. That they are disconsolat, and heartlesse under distance and deadnesse; which ills often tryst together.

The direction he gives in order to the helping of this, is in two words, 1. Rise. 2. Come away. Which sayes, that as she was now in a case of strangenesse to Christ, so there was a necessity of rousing her self, and coming out of it; such a necessity as there [Page 135] is for a straying wife to return to her husband. Now these words are a sweet call of a kind Husband, inviting to this return, and shewing the remedy of straying, and estrangement from him. Ri­sing imports, 1. One that is setled some way, in a condition op­posite to walking and running. 2. A stirring up of themselves as unsatisfied therewith, and desirous to be out of it, with some en­deavour to be up again: Declining from Christ puts souls still down, and holds them at under. Come away, holds forth a term from which she is to come, from that condition she was in, whatever it was, it was not good: Men are in no desirable con­dition, when Christ calls them. 2. A term to which she is to come, and that is Christ; it's to follow the Bridegroom; to get her brought to a nearer union and communion with him, is the great thing he aimes at. 3. An act whereby she passeth from that she was, and turning her back on that, moves towards him, that she may thereby attain nearer union and fellowship with him. By both which, we conceive the exercise of faith in him, is mainly holden forth, 1. Because, saith is ordina­rily in Scripture set forth by coming, Isa. 55. 1. Ioh. 5. 40. Ioh. 6. 35. and this expression suits well the act of saith. 2. Because it's the only mean of making up the distance betwixt him and us: Decay in the exercise of faith, and distance with Christ, go toge­ther; and the exercise of faith, and nearnesse with him, are also inseparable companions. This is the meaning then, why lyes thou in this discouraged, decayed and comfortlesse condition? there is another, and a far better, to wit, a lively and comfortable condi­tion allowed upon thee; Christ calls thee to exercise faith in him, for recovering of thy case. And this now is set down im­peratively, by way of command, that we may know that believing in Christ, or keeping communion with him by faith, are not left to our option, but are laid on by a peremptory command, for ne­cessitating us to the exercise of it, 1 Ioh. 3. 23. as a thing most acceptable to him, with which he cannot be angry, nor will he call obedience thereunto presumption.

3. When he hath given the invitation, he presseth it most se­riously and weightily; for though it be of our concernment, we are not easily induced even to believe: O but the world is much [Page 136] mistaken in this, that think it an easy matter to believe! And also, he would have us knowing, he allows us the comfortable exercise of faith in him, with all his heart (if we may speak so) when he thus presseth and perswadeth us to it. Likewise we may gather, that it is no common thing, which he exhorts unto, when he doth so seri­ously presse it; but it is of most weighty concernment to us.

There are three wayes he maketh use of, to presse it; 1. By excellent, loving titles, my love, and fair one; which are given here, especially to let her know he loved her, and thereby to en­courage her to follow the call. The faith of his love, hath no little influence upon our acting faith in particulars on him. 2. To shew that he is no rigid, nor severe censurer of a discouraged believer; no, my fair one (saith he) even when she hath many spots; Christ will raise no ill report on his own, whatever be their failings. 3. He presseth it from the special relation he hath to her, my love, and my fair one; which makes all his words very kindly, and shewes an obligation on her, by the Covenant-relation that stood between them to be his, and to subject her self to his directions, according to that word, Psal. 45. 10. Hearken O Daugher, &c. Forget thy fathers house, &c. And therefore she ought to leave all, and cleave to him: Christ requires nothing from us, but ac­cording to the Covenant, that tyes us to communion or co-habi­tation (to speak so) with Christ; and it's a most binding obliga­tion; if this prevail not in pressing us to duty, that we are Christ's, nothing will prevail: It's no little practick in a believer, to be like the relation they stand in to Christ; what, my love (saith he) becomes it you to be so strange? Rise and come, &c. Some o­ther thing is allowed to you than to others, and some other thing is called for from you, than is to be found in the way of others.

The third way he insisteth to urge this (for the call, and kindness comes still on his side, even when we are in the fault) is by most pressing arguments of three sorts. The first is, vers. 11. Rise (saith he) and come away; for there is no hazard now to travel this jour­ney, because what might scar you is done away, the winter-cold and storm in past; and the rain that makes rivers unpassible, and journeys dangerous and wearysome (therefore, it's Matth. 24. 20. pray that your flight be not in the winter) these are over. This [Page 137] suppons, 1. There was a sharp winter, and a bitter rain (as it were) whereby the way of fellowship with God, was unpassible, till these were removed; the sword (as it were) standing to keep sinners from Paradise, that is, the sentence and curse of the broken law, and the wrath of God pursuing therefore, which was indeed a fearful winter, and storm that made the Sun dark, and the day gloomy, therefore is God's wrath in Scripture compared to ter­rible blasts and tempests, and who can stand before his cold? Psal. 147. 17. 2. It sayes, that now these are done away by Christ; and by his call in the Gospel, he assures his people, they shall find them fully removed; so that there is no wrath nor curse, that any who yeelds to it, needs to fear. 3. It implyes that the Gospel brings good news, and there is none better than this, that Gods justice is satisfied, and his wrath removed. 4. It im­ports, that Christ can bear sure testimony to this, that wrath is over, because he payed a price to remove it, and therefore sin­ners may take his word, and follow his call. And, 5. That belie­vers are sometimes ready to suspect, more than they have ground, that there is some storm yet before them; but Christ hath made all fair-weather, ere he call: O great argument! He calls not to fight, but to gather the spoil; He puts not believers to the sea, till he himself hath made all calm: Believers meet with blasts and storms sometimes, but readily that is, when their back is on Christ, and not when their faces are to him-ward: The wind of wrath is not in a sinners face that seeketh Jesus, but the word [...]aith to such, fear not, Mark 16. 6. ye seek him.

2. He presseth her to rise and come, from some heartsome in­couragements he propons, vers. 12. There is a great change (saith he) now, when the angry winter is over, all things are pleasant and lovely. 1. The flowers appear, that shews there is heat and warmnesse in the earth, and it is an effect of the Spring, and a proof that winter is past. Hereby the fruits of grace, ap­pearing in the change that is wrought upon sinners, may be sig­nified, as is frequently hinted in this Song, where the Church is called a garden, and believers are the flowers; Come, (saith he) grace hath made others to come through the ground, who once were like flowers in the winter, under ground, but now they ap­pear [Page 138] and flourish. 2. The time of singing of birds is come. As in the Spring, birds sing, which in the winter drooped; So (saith he) now many poor sinners have changed their sad note, and be­gin to sing, who once were sinking under fears: And the good news of the Gospel, like the voice of the turtle, is heard in our land; these good tydings have been sent even to us, which is no little evidence of love, and no small confirmation to faith: That the news of the Gospel, and the consolation of sinners thereby, is here understood, is very agreeable to the scope: And these prove the removing of wrath, and are incouraging for stirring sin­ners up to the exercise of faith. And O how heartsome, and re­freshful is the spiritual Spring, when the day-spring from on high visits us! (as these things, mentioned in the text, are in the na­tural spring very pleasant, and tend to provoke men to go and recreat themselves in the fields.) And this is the particular scope of this place: There is never a sinner hath gotten good of Christ, but it proves him to be very kind; and the blessed change Christ hath wrought on them, should incourage others to believe, espe­cially when it is the day of their visitation, and the Sun of Righ­teousnesse hath become warm by the Gospel unto them, or unto the place and society in which they live. 3. He presseth his di­rection and call, by the very presentnesse, and now of the season of grace, vers. 13. The fig-tree putteth forth, &c. Which shews not only, that Summer is neer, but that it is even at the door, Matth. 24. 32, 33. and (saith he) the vines bud and give a smell; where­by is holden forth, the thriving of the plants of God's vineyard, under the dispensation of grace, as we may see, vers. 15. All these prove, that now is the acceptable time, and now is the day of sal­vation; and there are l [...]rge allowances of consolation to them, that now will accept of Christ's offers, and subject to his call: Therefore, saith he, even to us, sit not the time when all is ready, but up, and come away: And that the voice of the turtle is heard in our land, (that is even the Church wherein we live) proves it to be the season of grace also; for, it's long since the time of the turtles singing hath come to us, and their voice is yet still heard: And this sayes the chock and season of grace is amongst [Page 139] our hands, now when Christ's call comes to our door, and there­fore it would not be neglected.

And so he doth in the fourth place, repeat the call in the end of vers. 13. Arise my love, &c. And this repetition is to shew, 1. His willingnesse to have [...]t effectual, if sinners were as willing, it would soon be a bargain. 2. Our sluggishnesse in not answering at once, therefore must word be upon word, call upon call, line upon line, precept upon precept. 3. To bear out the riches of his grace and love in this call, wherein nothing is wanting that can be alledged to perswade a sinner to close with Christ, and to presse one that hath closed with him to be chearful in him: What a heartsome life might sinners have with Christ, if they would em­brace him, and dwell with him in the exercise of faith! they should have alway a spring-time, and possesse (to say so) the sunny-side of the brae of all the world beside, walking in gardens and or­chards, where the trees of the Promises are ever fruitful, pleasant and savoury to sight, smell, taste; and every word of Christ, as the singing of birds, heartsome and delightful to the ear; and all of them healthful to the believer. Who will have a heart to fit Christ's call? or if they do, who will be able to answer it, when he shall reckon with them? It will leave all the hearers of the Go­spel utterly inexcusable. Lastly, this repetition shews the im­portunatnesse, and the peremptorinesse of his call; he will have no refusal, neither will he leave it arbitrary, if we will come, when we shall come, or what way; but he straitly enjoyneth it, and that just now: It's alwayes time to believe, when ever Christ calls, and it's never time to shift, when he perswades. All this sayes, Christ must be a kind and loving Husband; how greatly play they the fool, that reject him? and how happy are they, who are ef­fectualy called to the marriage of the Lamb?

Vers. 14.‘O my Dove! that art in the clefts of the rocks, in the secret places of the stairs: let me see they countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.’

This 14. vers. contains the second part of Christ's sweet and comfortable Sermon. Wherein, beside the title which he gives his Bride, there are three things, 1. Her case. 2. The directi­ons which he propones, as the cure of her case. 3. The motive pressing it.

The title is, my Dove: This hath a sweet insinuation and mo­tive in it. Believers are styled so, 1. For their innocent nature, Matth. 10. 16. 2. For their tendernesse, and trembling at the word of the Lord, Hos. 11. 11. Isa. 38. 14. Hezekiah mourned as a Dove. 3. For their beauty and purity, Psal. 68. 13. 4. For their chast adhering to their own mate, in which respect, that of Isa. 38. 14. is thought to allude to the mourning of the one, after the others death▪ This shews what a believer should be, and who deserves this name.

The condition of this Dove is, that she is in the clefts of the rocks, and in the secret places of the stairs: It's ordinary for doves to hide themselves in rocks, or holes in walls of houses; And this similitude is used sometimes in a good sense, as Isa. 60. 8. some­times in an ill sense, as pointing out infirmity, and too much fear and fillinesse, Hos. 7. 11. Ephraim is a silly Dove without heart that goes to Egypt, &c. The Bride is here compared to a Dove hiding it self, in the last sense, out of unbelief and anxiety, taking her to poor shifts for ease, and slighting Christ, as frighted doves that mistake their own windowes, and fly to other hiding-places; the scope being to comfort and encourage her, and the directi­ons calling her to holy boldnesse, and prayer to him (implying [Page 141] that these had been neglected formerly) doth confirm this: Then sayes the Lord, my poor heartlesse Dove, why art thou discoura­ged, taking thee to holes (as it were) to hide thee, fostering mis­belief and fainting? that is not the right way.

What then should she do (might it be said) seing she is so un­meet to converse with him, or look out to the view of any that looks on? He gives two directions, holding forth what was more proper, and fit for her case, 1. Let me see thy countenance (saith he) like one that is ashamed, thou hides thy self, as if thou durst not appear before me, but come (saith he) let me see thy counte­nance. This expression imports friendliness, familiarity, and bold­nesse in her coming before him: So this phrase of seeing ones face is taken, Gen. 43. 3, 5. and 2 Sam. 14. 32. As the not shewing of the countenance, supposeth discontent or fear; So then the Lord calls by this to holy familiarity with him, and confidence in it, in opposition to her former fainting and misbelief. The second direction is, Let me hear thy voice, To make him hear the voice, is to pray, Psal. 5. 3. and under it generally all the duties of religion are often comprehended; It's like discourage­ment scarred the heartlesse Bride from prayer, and she durst not come before him; do not so (saith he) but call confidently upon me in the day of trouble, and time of need. Obs. 1. Prayer ne­ver angers Christ (be the believers case what it will) but for­bearing of it, will. 2. Discouragement when it seases on the childe of God, is not soon shaken off; and therefore he not only gives one direction upon another, but also adds incouragements and motives sutable to these directions.

And so we come to the third thing in the verse, the motives he makes use of to presse his direction, which are two, 1. Sweet is thy voice. 2. Thy countenance is comely. What is my voice and countenance, might she say (for proud unbelief is exceeding humble, and subtile, when it's opposing, and thortoring with Christ's call) yea (saith he) thy voice is sweet; There is no mu­sick in the world so pleasant to me, as the prayer of a poor belie­ver. Now this doth not so much commend our prayers, as it shews his acceptation of them, and the excellency of his golden censer, that makes them with his odours so savory before God, [Page 142] Rev. 8. 3. And, 2. (saith he) thy countenance though there be spots on it, yet to me it's comely, therefore let me hear thy voice, let me see thy countenance. Christ had rather converse with a poor believer, than with the most gallant, stately person in all the world. Beside, Obs. 1. Fainting may overmaster even a be­liever, and misbelief may mire them. 2. There are often foolish secklesse shifts made use of by believers, for defending misbelief and discouragement, when they are under temptation. 3. Faith­lesse fears, and discouragement may come to that height, as to scarr a believer from Christ's company, and marr them in prayer to him. 4. Misbelief bears out still this to a tempted soul, that Christ cares not for it; yea, that he disdains such a person and their company. 5. Christ is tender of fainting believers, and of their consolation, even when they suspect him most, and when their suspicions are most unreasonable and uncharitable to him, Isa. 49. 14, 15. 6. Christ allowes poor believers a [...]amiliar and confident walk with him; they might all be courtiers, for the ac­cesse that is allowed them, if they did not refuse their allowance, and sinfully obstruct their own accesse thereto. 7. Christ loves to be much imployed by his people, and there is nothing more pleasing to him, than frequently to hear their voice. 8. He is a sweet and gentle constructer of them, and their service, and is not rigid, even when often they have many misconstructions of him. 9. The more discouragement seizeth upon the soul, there should be the more prayer, and thronging in upon Christ; for there is no outgate to be expected, but in that way. 10. None needs to fear to put Christ on their secrets; or they need not so to fear (if they be sincere) that they spill their prayers, as there­by to be kept from prayer, or made heartlesse in it; For it's Christ that hears them, whose censer, Rev. 8. 6. makes them sa­vory before God: Let me hear thy voice is no little incourage­ment in that duty: And the right consideration of it, would help to much boldnesse in prayer; and especially considering, that the God who is the hearer of prayer, is our Beloved.

Vers. 15.‘Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.’

This 15. vers. contains the last part of Christ's Sermon: where­in, as he had formerly given directions in reference to her parti­cular walk; so here he evidenceth his care of her external peace: That Christ speaks these words, the continuation and series of them with the former, the scope (which is to make full proof of his care) and the manner how the duty here mentioned is laid on, to wit, by way of authority, makes it clear. There are three things in them, 1. An external evil incident to the Church, and that is, to be spoiled by foxes. 2. A cure given in a direction, Take them, &c. 3. He gives reasons to deter all from cruel pi­ty, in sparing any of them. For, &c.

In clearing the case here supposed, as incident to the Church, we are to consider, 1. What these vines are. 2. What be these foxes. 3. How they spoil the vines. For clearing the first; Con­sider, that the visible Church is often compared in Scripture to a Vineyard, Matth. 21. 33. And the particular professors, espe­cially believers, are as the vine-trees that grow in it; So, Isa. 5. 7. The Vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel, collectively, and the men of Iudah are his pleasant plants. They are called so, 1. For their fecklesnesse in themselves, Ezek. 15. 2, 3, &c. yet, excelling in fruit beyond others. 2. Because of Gods separating them from others, and taking pains on them above all others, Isa. 27. 2, 3. for these, and other reasons, they are called the vines. Next, by foxes are understood false teachers, Ezek. 13. 4. O Israel, thy Prophets (that is thy flattering teachers as the context clears) are as foxes in the deserts. And, (Mat. 7. 15.) they are called wolves in sheeps cloathing: Hereby are meant, not every one, who in something differ in their own judgement from the received rule, if they vent it not for corrupting of others, or the disturbing of the Churches peace; but these who are, in respect of others, seducers, teach­ing [Page 144] men to do as they do, in that which tends to the Churches hurt; and such also, as by flattery and unfaithfulnesse, destroy souls, proportionally come in to share of the name, as they do of the thing signified thereby, as that place of Ezekiel, before cited, and chap. 34. 2, 3. doth confirm. Now they get this name for their resembling foxes, in three things, 1. In their abominable nature, wherefore they are called, foxes, wolves, dogges, &c. and such like, which are abhorred and hated of all men, and so are these most hatefull to God, and so ought they to be with all o­thers. 2. For their destroying, hurtful nature, in their destroy­ing of the Church; therefore called ravening wolves, Mat. 7. 15. and grievous wolves, Acts 20. 29. who subvert whole houses, Tit. 1. 11. and whose word eateth as doth a gangrene, 2 Tim. 2. 17. 3. They are compared to these for their subtilty, a fox being fa­mous for that, for which cause Herod is called a fox, Luke 13. 32. So false teachers speak lies in hypocrisie, 1 Tim. 4. 2. creep into houses, their doctrines eat as a canker insensibly: And they are 2 Cor. 11. 13, 14. called deceitful workers: And as their master Satan can transform himself into an angel of light, so do they themselves into the ministers of Christ: All such beasts whatever their shape be, are hateful to Christ and his Church. 3. These false teachers or foxes, are said to spoil the vines, for foxes hurt not a Vineyard, or flock of lambs more than false teachers do the Church. 1. Corrupting the purity of Doctrine. 2. Obscu­ring the simplicity of Worship. 3. Overturning the beauty of Order, and bringing [...]in confusion. 4. Spoiling her bond of unity, and renting the affections, and dividing the wayes of her mem­bers, thereby dissipating the flock. 5. Extinguishing the vigour and life of Christian practise; diverting from what is more neces­sary, to hurtful and vain janglings, which do still increase to more ungodlinesse, and have never profited them who were occupied therein, Heb. 13. 7. 6. By ruining souls, carrying them head­long to the pit, 2 Pet. 2. 1. and 3. 16. There is no hurt nor ha­zard the Church of Christ meets with, or ever met with, more grievous and dangerous, than what she meets with from such, although this be an exercise and tryal, ordinarily incident to her.

2. The cure the Lord provides, is, the furnishing of his Church [Page 145] with Discipline, and the giving of directions for managing of it in these words, Take us, &c. Wherein consider these four, 1. To whom it's directed. 2. What is required. 3. A motive insi­nuat in the expression, take us. 4. The extent of the direction, for the obviating of a question. It may be supposed to be direct­ed to one of four. 1. Either to the Bride; or, 2. To Angels; or, 3. To Magistrates; or, 4. To Church-guides. Now it's to none of the first three, Therefore it must be to the last and fourth: First, It is not to the Bride: For, 1. The word take in the O­riginal, is in the plural-number, and signifieth take ye: now the Lord useth not to speak to the Church, but as to one. 2. He sayes, take us, and so taking the Bride in with himself, as a party for whom this service is to be performed, the speech must be directed to some third. 2. It's not directed to Angels, these are not spo­ken to in all this Song; and this being a duty to be performed while the Church is militant, they come not in to gather the tares from the wheat, till the end of the world, nor to separate the bad fish from the good, till the net by fairly on the shore. 3. This direction cannot be given to the Magistrat; for, beside that he is not mentioned in this Song, nor as such, hath he any part in the ministry of the Gospel, or capable to be thus spo­ken unto (although the duty from the force of it's argument will also reach him in his station, because he should so far as he can prevent the spoiling of Christ's Vineyard in his place) Beside this, I say, this direction must take place in all times, whenever the Church hath such a tryal to wrestle with, otherwise it were not suitable to Christ's scope, nor commensurable with her need: Now for many hundreds of years the Church wanted Magistrates, to put this direction in practice, yet wanted she not foxes, nor was she without a suitable capacity of guarding her self against them, by that power wherewith Christ hath furnished her. It remains therefore, 4. That it must be spoken to Christ's Ministers, and Officers in the Church, called rulers in the Scripture, and in this Song, watchmen and keepers of this Vineyard, as by office, con­tradistinguished from professours, Chap. 3. 3. and 5. 7. and 8. 11, 12. Such the Church never wanted, such are required to watch (Act. 20. 24.) against wolves, and such in the Church of Ephesus are [Page 146] commended, (Rev. 2. 3, 4.) for putting this direction in execu­tion. 2. The duty here required is to take them, as men use to hunt foxes till they be taken: And this implyes all that is need­ful for preventing their hurting of Christ's Vines: Christ's Mini­sters are to lay out themselves in discovering, confuting and con­vincing, censuring and rejecting them, Tit. 3. 11. That is, not to endure them that are evil, but to try them judicially, as it is Rev. 2. 2.

Obs. 1. Christ's Church is furnished with sufficient authority in her self, for her own edification, and for censuring of such as would obstruct the same. 2. This Church-authority is not given to Professors in common, or to the Bride as the first subject; but to their guides, Christ's Ministers and servants. 3. It is no lesse a duty, nor is it lesse necessary to put forth this power against false teachers, than against other grosse offenders: So did Paul, 2 Tim. 1. ult. and so commands he others to do, Tit. 3. 10. heresie and corrupt doctrine being also a fruit of the flesh, Gal. 5. 20. as well as other scandalous sins.

3. There is a motive to presse this, implyed, while he saith, take us; Which words insinuat, that it's service both to him and her, and that Ministers are his servants, and the Churches for Christ's sake. It shews also his sympathy, in putting himself (as it were) in hazard with her (at least mystically considered) and his love in comforting her, that he thinks himself concerned in the restraint of these foxes, as well as she is.

4. The direction is amplified to remove an objection, (say some) all heresies, or all Heretiques are not equal, some compa­ratively are little to be regarded, and it's cruelty to meddle with these, that seem to professe fair. No (saith he) take them all, even the little foxes; for, though they be little, yet they are foxes, though they be not of the grossest kind (as all scandals in facts are not alike, yet none is to be dispensed with) so they are (saith he) foxes, and corrupt others; for, a little leaven will leaven the whole lump (often small-like schisms, or heresies, such as the Novatians and Donatists, &c. have been exceedingly de­facing to the beauty of the Church) therefore, (saith he) hunt, and take them all. How small a friend is our Lord to tollerati­on? [Page 147] and how displeased is he with many errours, that the world thinks little of? Magistrats, Ministers and people may learn here, what distance ought to be kept with the spreaders of the least er­rours, and how every one ought to concur in their stations, for preventing the hurt that comes by them.

The last thing in the verse, is, the reasons wherewith this di­rection is backed and pressed: The first is, all of them spoil the vines: Errour never runs loose, and Heretiques never get liber­ty, but the spoiling of the vines one way or other followes; and can beasts be suffered in a garden, or orchard, and the plants not be hurt?

2. If any say, they are but little foxes, and unable to hurt. He answers this, and adds a second reason, in saying, the grapes are tender; or, the vines are in the first grapes, that is, as they (while scarce budding or sprouting) are easily blasted by a small wind, so the work of grace in a believer, or Christ's ordinances in his Church, are most precious and tender wares, and cannot abide rough hands; even the least of seducers, or corrupt teachers, may easily wrong them; they are of such a nature, as they may be soon spoiled, if they be not tenderly and carefully looked to. Obs. 1. They that have grace would be tender of it; it may ea­sily be hurt. 2. Gracious persons, would not think themselves without the reach of hazard from corrupt teachers; for, this is spo­ken of the Bride, The foxes spoil the vines. 3. Our Lord Jesus is exceeding tender of the work of grace, in, and amongst his people, and where it's weakest, he is some way most tender of it. 4. This argument here made use of, sayes also, that these who are most tender of his Church, and the graces of his people, will be most zealous against false teachers, even the least of them; For, these two are joined together in him, and are in themselves necessary to preserve the one, and restrain the other; and the suffering these to ramble and run without a che [...]k, cannot be the way of buil­ding, but of spoiling Christ's Church.

The third motive, or reason pressing the watch-men to have a care of the vines, is hinted in the possessive particle, our; for, our vines, &c. which is relative to the watch-men, whom he takes in with himself, as having a common interest in the Church; The [Page 148] Church is his, and theirs, as the flock is the owners, and the shep­herds, who are particularly set to have the over-sight of it; for, the shepherd may say, This is my flock, which no other servant can say: And this is a great piece of dignity put upon Ministers, to be fellow-workers with Christ, 2 Cor. 6. 1. &c. and binds on their duty strongly; for, saith Christ here to them, ye will have losse also, if ye see not to it, because ye must count for the vine­yard, wherewith ye are intrusted: It's yours, and yet ye are not absolute lords, for it is also mine, I am the owner of it: And so the vines are both theirs and Christ's, their interest speaks how naturally they should care for them; His interest shews the de­pendency both ministers and people ought to have on him.

Vers. 16.‘My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies.’
Vers. 17.‘Vntill the day break, and the sha­dows flee away: turn my beloved, and be thou like a Roe, or a young Hart upon the mountains of Bether.

Now follows the two last parts of her carriage in the beloveds absence; First, after she hath (as it were) read over his Epistle, she comforts her self in his love, and her interest in him, though he be absent. (It's good use of his word, when it is made use of, for strengthening our faith in him, when sense is away) There are two parts of this consolation, 1. Her faith is clear for the pre­sent, vers. 16. 2. Her hope is solid in the expectation of an ex­cellent day coming, vers. 17. Next, vers. 17. she puts up a prayer for a gracious visit, which she knowes he will allow upon her un­till that day come; and this is the last thing here recorded of the Brides carriage in the Bridegrooms absence.

In the 16. verse, the faith of her interst in him, is, 1. Asserted, [Page 149] my beloved is mine, and I am his. 2. It's vindicated, or establish­ed against an objection in the following words, he feeds, &c. The assertion holds out an union betwixt him and her, I am his, &c. Or, as it is in the Original, I am to him, and he is to me; Such as is the union betwixt married persons, Hos. 3. 3. which the tye of marriage brings on: Even such is this which follows covenanting with God; for, this union presupposeth it, and is founded on it, Ezek. 16. 8. I made a covenant with thee, and thou becamest mine, or, to me; Although (saith she) [...]e be not here, yet he is my husband, and that tye stands betwixt me and him, which is no little priviledge; and in this, she comforts her self under absence.

Obs. First, There is an excellent union, and peculiar tye be­twixt Christ and believers, which none other can lay claim to but they: It's excellent, as will easily appear, if we consider these properties of it. 1. It's a neer union, they are one flesh, Eph. 5. 27. as man and wife; they are flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone. 2. It's a real and not an imaginary union (though it be spiritual and by faith) it makes and transfers a mutual right of the one to the other, and hath real effects. 3. It's mutual on both sides, Christ is wholly hers, and she is wholly dedicated to him. 4. It's a kindly union, such as is betwixt husband and wise, and followed with the fruits of a most sweet relation. 5. It's an union which is some way full; whole Christ is hers, and she by con­sent and title is wholly his. 6. I'ts an indissoluable union, there is no dissolving of it by any thing that can fall out, otherwayes the consolation were not solid. Again, Obs. 2. That this relation, which the believer hath to Christ, is the great ground of his hap­pinesse and consolation, and not any sensible presence, or any dis­pensation, or gift communicat by Christ to him. 3. That be­lievers may attain assurance, and clearnesse anent their interest is him, and may come to know really that Christ is theirs: and be­lievers should aim to be through in this, that their calling and e­lection may be made sure to themselves. 2. Pet. 1. 10. 4. Believ­ers when they have attained clearnesse, should acknowledge it, and comfort themselves in it, and not raise new disputes about it. 5. This clearnesse may consist with absence and want of sensible [Page 150] presence, and there is no case wherein a believer should stick faster to his confidence, than in such a case, when under desertion and absence, as the Spouse doth here.

2. She vindicats her faith in these words, He feedeth among the lilies. The words may be looked upon as the preventing of an objection, for it might be said, If Christ be yours, where is he? Is it likely that he is yours, when he is so far away? For, the faith of clearnesse will be assaulted and set upon, and it is not easily maintained, and unbelief takes the advantage of Christ's absence from sense, to brangle it; So that unbelief, and temptation espe­cially sets on then: Therefore, she answers it thus, He feedeth among the lilies, that is, he is kind to his people, and present with them, though now I see him not; faith may, and will argue from Christ's love to his people in general, and from the promises that speaks to all, when there seems to be nothing singular in the be­lievers own condition, from which it can take comfort. By lilies are understood all believers: the Church was called a lilie, vers. 2. here all believers are so called, as partaking of that same beauty and savour, and because planted in the same true garden. Christ was called a lilie, vers. 1. and here all believers are called lilies, Shewing, 1. That all believers have a conformity to Christ, and partake of the divine nature and spirit that is in him. 2. That all believers in things that are essential to grace and holinesse, have conformity one to another, they have the same Faith, Spi­rit, Covenant, Husband, &c. although in circumstantials and de­grees, there be differences. Next, his feeding amongst them, shewes, 1. A special gracious presence in his Church, and among believers, there he walketh among the seven golden Candlesticks, Rev. 2. 1. 2. A special delight he hath in them, and satisfaction to be amongst them, as a man delighteth to walk in his garden: It's his meat (Iohn 4. 32. 34.) and drink to do them good; so then (saith she) he is kind to all his people, and is so to me, though for the time I see him not: And thus also she answers the question, Chap. 6. 1, 2. even when Christ is a-seeking, and she was inquiring after him. Obs. 1. Christ's care of his Church, and love to his Bride, is no lesse under absence, than when his presence is sensibly injoyed. 2. The consideration of this, tends much to [Page 151] further the consolation of believers, and it becomes them well to believe this, when under desertion and absence, and so to ward off tentations.

The solid exercise of faith never wants hope waiting on it, therefore, 2. vers. 17. that follows, for compleating the Brides consolation in these words, untill the day break, and shadows, &c. Though there be shadows (saith she) and vails betwixt him and me, in this night of desertion; yet there is a day coming when these, by his presence, shall be made to flee away, and I shall see him as he is. There is a twofold day spoken of in Scripture, 1. A day of Christ's presence here upon earth, Luk. 1. 78. The day-spring from on high hath visited us. 2. The day of his glori­ous appearing, commonly called the great day; and in a singular way called here the day, because it hath no night of interruption following thereupon, and because it goes as far beyond what be­lievers possesse now, as day exceeds the night; Therefore it's called the morning, Psal. 49. 14. in which the just shall have the dominion; and the dawning of the day, and the rising of the day-star in our hearts, 2 Pet. 1. 19. which is there opposed to the clearest prophesies and ordinances, which are but as a candle in a dark place, in respect of that day. Now we conceive the last and great day is signified here, 1. Because that is her scope, to comfort her self in the hope of what is coming. 2. Because she opposeth it to the present means, as to shadows, even to faith it self, for that she injoyed for the time; and also to sensible pre [...]ence, which in the next words she prayes for, till that day dawn. By shadows is meant, whatever marres the immediat, full and satisfying in­joying of Christ, which as shadows, hide him from us, or darken him that we do not see him as he is, or give but small and dark representations of him, (like shadows of the body) which are very unproportioned unto his own excellent worth. They are said to flee away, because a glimpse of Christ then, when he who is the Sun of Righteousnesse, shall shine at the break of that day, shall dispell and dissipate them more fully and quickly, than this natural Sun when rising, doth scatter darknesse and shadows that go before it. And by untill, we understand the setting of a fixed term, which distinguisheth one time from another, as Gen. 32. I [Page 152] will not let thee go untill thou blesse me; so saith she, untill that day of immediat presence come, let me have love-visits, as is expressed in the following words. Obs. 1. There is an excellent day coming to believers, wherein Christ shall be immediatly in­joyed and seen, and wherein the soul shall be comforted with no mediat object, or created excellency, but shall see his face, and be filled with the fulnesse of God. 2. While here, there are many shadows even betwixt Christ and the strongest believers; we see but darkly as in a glasse, 1 Cor. 13. 12. There is, 1. a sha­dow of desertion, and his hiding of himself. 2. A shadow of Ordinances, where he is seen, yet but darkly, like a face in a Looking-glasse. 3. A shadow of sinful infirmities, drawing vails betwixt Christ and us, and hiding his face from us, Isa. 59. 2. 4. A shadow of natural infirmity; for, not only are we ready through unbelief to slander him, but by reason of weaknesse (like narrow or old bottles) we are not capable of him, and unable to contain him. 3. At that day of his appearing, all these shadows will in­stantly be done away: there will not one tear be left on any be­lievers cheeks, there will be no affliction or desertion to hide him from them, but they shall be for ever with him: there will then be no Ordinances, nor Temple, Rev. 21. 22. but the Lord God and the Lamb himself, shall be the Temple and light of his people: Nor will there be any sinful infirmities then to interpose betwixt him and them, death, the curse and corruption will be cast into the lake; no unclean thing accompanies the believer into the new Jerusalem; nay, no imperfect thing is there, for whatever is imperfect, and whatever was in part, is then done away, 1 Cor. 13. 10. and what is perfect will then come; the soul in it's fa­culties will then be perfected, capacitated and dilated to con­ceive, take up and delight in God; and the body perfected, made glorious and spiritual, like the glorious body of our Lord Jesus, Philip. 3. ult. 4. The hope of that day, and of the flee­ing away of all shadows then, is (and no marvel it be) very re­freshful to the Lord's people: and believers in all their darknesses should comfort themselves and others from the hope of it, 1 Thes. 4. ult. 5. All that are Christ's, or whoever have faith in Christ, and fellowship with him by vertue of his Covenant, may [Page 153] expect at that day to enjoy Christ immediatly and fully, and to see him as he is: O that men believed this! and that many were th [...]onging in to his Covenant now, as they would not desire to be cast from his presence in that day! Yet, 6. All shadows are ne­ver removed till then; the believer must, and some way will sub­mit to Christ's way of ordering it so, and not seek it should be otherwayes till then.

In the last place, the Bride falls about the exercise of prayer in the rest of this verse; faith and hope in exercise alwayes stir up to prayer; for, these graces do not foster las [...]nesse and security, but incite and provoke to duty (it's a good token when faith and hope are so accompanied) therefore she turns her to prayer, in which she speaks to him as to her beloved: Clearnesse of interest, as it helps notably to many things, so to confidence in prayer es­pecially. The petition (importing still absence) hath these two in it, 1. The suit it self, turn. 2. The inforcing and inlarging of it, be like a Roe, &c. Turning her, implyes, 1. Sense and feeling of his absence. 2. Her serious desire to have Christ again. 3. That his absence may be removed by his own returning, and so the change of her case to the better must flow from him. And▪ 4. That she may ask this from him, and expect by prayer in saith to obtain it, believing prayer being the best mean to ef­fectuat this. Next she enforceth and inlargeth her petition, Be thou like a Roe, &c. that is, seing (saith she) all shadows will not be removed till that time, what is my suit for the time? It's even this, that thou will give me visits of thy presence, and be like a Roe or young Hart on the mountains of Bether: The word Bether, signifies division, and so it may be made use of here, so long (saith she) as these mountains divide betwixt me and thee, Lord be not a stranger, but swiftly, easily and kindly (as the Roes come over mountains to their mates, Prov. 5. 19.) come thou to me, and comfort me with frequent love-visits, untill that time come, that thou take me to thee, to injoy thee fully and imme­diatly. Obs. 1. It's lawfull for believers to desire sensible pre­sence, even here-away: Yea, it's suitable, they should often long and pray for it. 2. Where the hope of heaven is solide, sensible manifestations of Christ's love will be most ardently sought for: [Page 154] It will never prejudge one of their satisfaction and full payment then, that they have gotten a large earnest-penny here, she knows that will never be reckoned up to her. 3. Much prayer flowing from, and waiting upon the exercise of faith and hope, is a notable way to bring the soul to the injoyment of sense. 4. The belie­ver hath a heartsome life, and a rich inheritance, Christ here, and Christ hereafter, the lines are fallen unto him in pleasant places. 5. She grounds her suit on the marriage-relation and tye be­twixt him and her, my Beloved (saith she) a Covenant-claim to Christ, is the most solid ground upon which believers can walk in their approaches before him, and in their pleadings with him. 6. He allowes believers to plead for his company, from this ground, that he is theirs by Covenant, as he pleads for their company, on that same ground, vers. 10. &c.



Vers. 1.‘By night on my bed I sought Him whom my soul loveth, I sought him, but I found him not.’
Vers. 2.‘I will rise now and go about the ci­ty in the streets, and in the broad-wayes I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.’

THis Chapter hath three parts, 1. The Brides sad exer­cise under the want of Christ, and in seeking after him till she find him, to vers. 6. 2. The Daughters of Ie­rusalem come in, commending the Bride, vers. 6. 3. The Bride [Page 155] from vers. 7. to the end, returns to discourse of, and commend the excellency and amiablenesse of Christ.

In her exercise consider, 1. Her case. 2. Her carriage in se­veral steps. 3. Her successe in every step. 4. Her practice when she hath obtained her desire: Or, we may take them all up in these two, 1. Her sad condition, and her carriage under it. 2. Her outgate and her carriage suitable thereto. Her case is implyed in two words in the beginning of vers. 1. 1. It was night with her. 2. She was on her bed. By night, is ordinarily understood darknesse, and affliction, opposit to light of day and joy; and here her exercise being spiritual, it must imply some spiritual afflicti­on, or soul-sad spiritual exercise. So night is taken, Psal. 42. 8. He will command his loving kindnesse in the day, and in the night (while the day come, that his loving kindnesse be intimate) his song shall be with me, &c. The scope-shews, that it is a night of dese [...]tion she is under, thorow the want of Christ's presence whom she loves; His presence, who is the Sun of Righteousnesse with healing under his wings, makes the believers day; and his absence, is their night, and makes them droop, as being under a sad night of soul-affliction; therefore is it, that she seeks so carefully after his presence. 2. Her being on her bed, is not taken here, as im­plying neernesse with him; for, the scope shews he is absent, but a lasinesse of frame on her spirit, opposite to activenesse and dili­gence, as it's taken, Chap. 5. vers. 3. and so it's opposed to her after-rising and diligence, and therefore it's also called my bed, implying that she was here alone in a secure comfortlesse frame, and therefore for this, it's distinguished from our bed, Chap. 1. 16. and his bed afterward, vers. 7. Where she is allowed rest, and spiritual ease, and solace in his company; but here on her bed she hath no such allowance, whatever earnal ease and rest she take to her self: Believers have their own fits of carnal security, when they give their corruptions rest, that is, their own bed; and it's a heartlesse lair (to speak so) to ly alone and want the beloved: This is her case, wanting Christ, yet lying too still, as contented some-way in that condition; though it cannot continue so with believers, it will turn heavy and perplexing at last to them, as it doth here to the Bride: and sure, the easiest time under security [Page 156] is not so comfortable as profitable to believers, as is an exercise that takes them more up; Therefore afterward she prefers rising and seeking, to this woful rest. It shews, 1. That believers di­stance and darknesse may grow; for, in the former Chapter, Christ was absent, yet, as through a window or lattesse, there were some glimpses of him; but here it's night, and there is not so much as a twilight discovery of him. 2. Often, distance with Christ, and security and deadnesse (as to our spiritual life) go together: When Christ is absent, believers then usually fall from activity in their duty, Isa. 64. 7. No man stirreth up himself to lay hold on thee, and the reason is, thou hast hid thy face, &c. Matth. 25. 5. While the Bridegroom tarrieth, even the wise Virgins slumbered and slept.

Her carriage, or way that she takes in this case, is set out in four steps: The 1. Is in these words, I sought him, whom my soul loveth. Consider here, 1. The title Christ gets, him whom, &c. Christ got this name before, and now several times she repeats it; And it holds forth, 1. The sincerity of her love, it was her soul and heart that loved him. 2. The degree and singularity of it, no other thing was admitted in her heart to compare with him, he bears the alone sway there, in respect of the affection she had to him, it's he, and none other upon whom her soul's love is set, otherwise, this title would not suitably design him; Christ loves well to have such titles given to him, as may import the hearts special esteem of him. 3. It shews, that even in believers lowest conditions, there remains some secret soul-esteem of Christ, and that in their judgement, he is still their choice and waill above all the world. Yet, 4. That their practice while security pre­vails, is most unsuitable to their convictions and judgement. 2. Consider her practice and carriage, while Christ is absent, her practice is not altogether a laying by, without the form of Reli­gion; for, (saith she) on my bed I sought him, that is, I prayed and used some means, but in a lazy way, not stirring up my self vi­gorously in it. Obs. 1. Believers in a secure frame, may keep some form of duty, yet their duties are like the frame of their heart, lifelesse and hypocritical. 2. There is much of a believers practice, such as themselves will find fault with, when they come to look rightly upon it; yea, even much of their way, while they [Page 157] keep up the form of duty, is but like the sluggard, Prov. 26. 14. turning themselves upon their beds, as the door doth upon the hinges; not lying still, nor altogether darring to give over the form, yet litle better on the matter, because they make no effectual progress, not can they say their soul is in and with their service, which they perform. 3. Her successe as to this step, is, but I found him not, that is, I was nothing the better, these sluggish endeavours did not my businesse: Every form of seeking will not obtain; and one may seek Christ long in their ordinary formal way, ere they find him; yet it's good not to give over, but to observe the form: Life and love is not altogether gone, when one discerns absence, and their own lazinesse with discontent.

When this doth not reach her design, she proceeds to a more lively step, vers. 2. and that is, to get up, and seek him in a more active stirring way: Which sayes, 1. She observed the continu­ance of her distance, and what came of her prayers and seeking; which is a good beginning of ones recovery, and wining to their feet after a fit of security and decay. 2. It sayes, it's often good for a believer, as to their rouzing, and their recovering of spiritu­al life, that sense is not alwayes easily obtained; this activity had not followed (readily) had not Christ constrained her to it, by cross-dispensations and disappointments. In this step we have, 1. Her resolving to fall about a more active way in seeking him. 2. Her per­formance. 3. Her successe. First, Her resolution is, I will rise now (saith she) and go about the streets, &c. In which there are these three, 1. What she resolves to do, not to give over (for that should ne­ver be given way to) but to bestir her self more actively in duty, I will rise and go from the bed to the streets of the city and seek him there. By city is understood the Church, whereof all mem­bers are fellow-citizens, Eph. 2. 19. It's called so, 1. For it's or­der and government, so the Church is as a city, that hath watch­men and laws. 2. For it's unity; it's one Common-wealth and Incorporation, Eph. 2. 12. This Jerusalem is a city compacted to­gether, Psa. 122. 3. 3. For it's priviledges, whereof all believers (who are the burgesses and fellow-citizens) are partakers, Eph. 2. 19. and unto which all others who are without, are strangers. Her going into the city, suppons a communicating of her case to o­thers [Page 158] for help, and her using of more publick means, opposite to her private dealing within her self on her bed, vers. 1. even as rising imports a stirring of her self to more activity in the man­ner of performing these duties, opposite to her seeking him for­merly while she lay still on her bed: The thing then resolved upon is to this sense, What am I doing? are there not moe means, in the use of which I may seek Christ? Is there not ano­ther way of inquiring after him, than this lazy formal way? I will up and essay it. There are many meanes given for a believers help, and when one fails, another may be blessed; and therefore, believers are still to follow from one to another; and where true love to Christ is, it will make them do so, and spare no pains till they meet with him. Again, 2. Ere she gets to her feet, and goes to the streets, &c. she deliberatly resolves it, I will rise, &c. Which shews, 1. That her former disappointment did put her to a consultation what to do, and made her more serious; And this is the use that ought to be made of disappointments in the duties of religion. 2. That there will be heart-deliberations in a Christian-walk, when it's serious; and they are the best perfor­mances and duties, that are the results of these. 3. Serious re­solutions are often very usefull, and helpful in duty; for, they are ingagements, and spurs to stir up to duty, when we are indispo­sed for it. 4. It's good cordially to resolve upon duty, when the practice of it is somewhat difficult or obstructed; for, this both speaks sincerity, and also helps to lessen the difficulty which is in the way of duty. 5. Resolutions to set about duty are often­times the greatest length believers can win at, while under in­disposition; and this much is better than nothing, because it draws on more.

3. This resolution is qualified, I will rise now (saith she) that is, seing these sluggish endeavours doth not avail me, I will de­lay no longer, but will now presently fall about it in more ear­nest. It's the sign of a sincere resolution, when it doth not put off or shift duty, but ingageth the soul in a present undertaking of it, Psal. 119. 59, 60.

Next her performance, or her putting this resolution in pra­ctice, doth accordingly follow instantly, I sought him (said she) [Page 159] that is, in the streets, &c. Obs. 1. It's not a resolution worth the mentioning, that hath not practice following; for every honest resolution is followed with practice, whatever short-coming wait upon it. 2. Honest resolutions are often to duty, like a needle that drawes the threed after it; and believers would not star to resolve on duty from fear of coming short in performance, if their resolutions be undertaken in the strength of Christ, as this was, as is clear by considering her former frame, which was such as would give no great incouragement to selfy undertakings in duties.

Lastly, her successe, or rather her disappointment follows in these words, but I found him not, even then when I was most seri­ous in seeking him, I missed him still; which is not only spoken, to shew the event, but also by way of regrate, she is deeply af­fected with it. Obs. 1. When the Lords people have been for­merly lazy, Christ may keep up himself, even when they become more active, rather hereby chastening their former negligence, than being offended at their present diligence in duty. 2. It's sad when Christ is missed even in duty, and that once and again. 3. She continues to be a distinct observer of the fruits both of publick and private duties, which is a commendable practice, and to be made conscience of by all the seekers of his face.

Vers. 3.‘The watch-men that go about the City, found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?’

This verse contains the third step of the Brides carriage, be­ing now abroad; the watch-men found her, and she inquires for her beloved at them: and her successe in this may be gathered from what follows, she doth not upon recourse to them immedi­atly find him, but is put to go a little further. In the words, there is, 1. An opportunity or mean for finding Christ, met with. 2. Her improving of it. 3. The successe which is im­plyed, as is said.

[Page 160] The mean holds forth these three things, 1. What the Church is; It's a City, wherein there is order, and a common-fellowship, as hath been said, vers. 2. 2. The Ministers office is here imply­ed, this City hath watch-men; so are Ministers called, Ezek. 3. 17. Isa. 62. 6. Heb. 13. 17. Which word imports, 1. That the Church is a City in danger, having outward and inward enemies, and therefore needing watch-men. 2. That there is an office of a Ministery appointed in the Church for guarding against and pre­venting her danger; and that some are peculiarly designed, and separat from others for that purpose; some who may be called watch-men, which others cannot be said to be; and so they are here distinguished from believers or private persons. 3. This of­fice is most necessary, burdensome, and of great concernment to the safety of the Church, as watch-men are to a city; for so watch they over the souls of the people committed to their trust.

Again, these watch-men, are in the exercise of their duty, They went about the city; Which shews their diligence according to their trust; at least, it holds forth the end wherefore they are appointed. Obs. There is but one City or Church, and all Ministers are watch-men of that one Church, given for the edifi­cation of that body; and they should watch, not only for this or that Post (to say so) but for the safety of the whole, as watch­men that stand at their post, for the good of the whole City.

3. These watch-men found her, that is, (as we conceive) by their doctrine they spoke to her condition, and by their search­ing and particular application, made the two-edged sword of the Word reach her; as if they had discernably pointed her out, be­yond all the rest of the Congregation: Which shews, 1. The ef­ficacy of the word when rightly manag'd, Heb. 4. 12. It's a dis­cerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 2. That God can make it find out one in the midst of many others, when the Mi­nister knows not; and can make it speak to a believers case, or any other particular persons condition, as if he did know and aim at them particularly. 3. That Ministers should be searching, and differencing in their doctrine, as the several conditions, and va­rious exercises of hearers require: that is, they ought to put difference betwixt the precious and the vile, and rightly to di­vide [Page 161] the word of truth or to lay every ones portion to them so as it be not given in grosse, or heaped together to all, but to every one their own allowance. In sum then, that which she sayes, is this, When I had gone abroad, (saith she) in heavinesse to hear (if so I might meet with Christ in publick) God made some watch-men speak to my condition particularly, as if one had acquainted them with it.

2. Her improving of this opportunity (coming, as it were, beyond her expectation) follows in the next words: she cryes out in an abrupt manner, Saw ye him; she thinks they can help her, being acquaint with such cases, and therefore she will con­sult them; That is, she follows in, upon the little experience she had felt of their skill, to seek for help from them, and for that end to communicat her case to them, as it were after Sermon is done, or when some convenient time offers. Obs. 1. That be­lievers, that are serious, will let no fit opportunity for meeting with Christ passe; they are accurat observers, and frugal manag­ers of them all. 2. She observes and is glad when a word speaks home to her case, and finds her: And this is indeed the disposi­tion of a sound and serious believer. 3. Ministers would be well acquaint themselves with soul-sicknesse, and expert in the vari­ous exercises and cases incident to the people of God, both in order to the finding out their disease, and the cause of it (who often can scarce make language of their own condition themselves) and also in order to the making suitable applications for the cure of it; for, this is to have the tongue of the learned, to speak a word in season. 4. Believers often can say little of their cases, but in a broken and confused way; which sayes, Ministers had need to be the better acquaint with the spiritual cases and exer­cises of souls, that they may understand by half a word what they would say. 5. Believers would advert well to whom they com­municat their case, this would not be done to all. 6. Ministers are suitable Physicians (though not the sole or only Physician) to whom believers would make known their soul-exercises and cases, and therefore, there should be much spiritual sympathy betwixt their people and them. 7. It's a great incouragement to a di­stressed soul, to impart it's case to a Minister, when in his pub­lick [Page 162] doctrine he useth to speak pertinently unto it. 8. It's not unsuitable for exercised souls (beside the publick hearing of their Minister) to have their particular queries to him in private. 9. How Christ shall be obtained, is a suitable subject for Ministers and people, in their converse together, to be mainly taken up with; and holy anxiety concerning this, is a frame fit for making adresses to Ministers; they may indeed come to Ministers with such questions, who are much in longing after him. 10. There may be much tendernesse in affection and love, where there is much weaknesse in knowledge. He is the him whom her soul loveth, even now when she knows not where he is; and the most grown believers may be sometimes brought to this low ebb in their condition, for good ends, and for demonstrating the use­fulness and necessity of publick ordinances, even to them. 11. An exercised soul prizeth most a Ministery; and such spiritual exer­cises (as are here mentioned) do cherish their esteem of that ordinance, when other debates among a people, often do derogat from it's due esteem. 12. Ministers would not cast affection, nor reject zeal in weak Christians, even though these be joyned with some infirmities, and may occasion some more trouble to themselves; But where sincerity is, there would be an overcom­ing condescendence as to both these, and the questions of a ten­der soul should be by them intertained, as having learned at their Master, not to break a bruised reed. 13. Tender exercised souls usually confine their questions to their own souls case; There is no abstract curious query here, nor for the fashion proposed, nor any needlesse debate about extrinsick things, or the faults or practice of others, but, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth? This is the sore upon which she keeps her finger, and this is the wound which she keeps bleeding, till he bind it up.

3. The successe of her meeting with the watchmen, and of this query she puts to them, though it be not expressed, yet it's im­plyed in the first words of the next verse, which being compared with this, holds out two things, 1. That she did not presently find an outgate from under her sad case, for she behoved to go further. 2. It was but a little further that she is put to go, till she find him; which sayes, that her endeavours were not altoge­ther [Page 163] fruitlesse. Obs. 1. Christ will sometimes let believers know, that all means without him are empty, and that he is astricted to none of them; yea, nor to any fellowship, no not of the most powerful Minister. 2. Publick means do not alway bring present ease unto believers under disquieting cases; yet, (to say so) they dispose and make way for it in private; and one may get the good of an Ordinance, and of fellowship with Ministers or Christians, though not in the mean time, yet afterward even when they are retired at home; and it's as good a time thereafter, yea, and better for their behove.

If it be asked here, what we should judge of these watchmen, if they were tender or not? The ground of the doubt is, because chap. 5. 7. watchmen that are not tender are spoken of, which yet are there said to find the Bride. Ans. There is a twofold finding, 1. When one searches an exercised condition for this end, that he may contribute something for the exercised persons ease and help. 2. When one follows or searches after tender­nesse in others, that he may find some advantage against them, thereby to make the heart of the righteous sad; the one finds, as a friend finds another; the other, as an enemy, or mocker finds another: The first sort of finding is to be understood here in this Chapter, for the watch-men here, carry as friends; The second sort of finding, chap. 5. 7. for there they carry as mockers [...] Which will appear by these differences, 1. Here she propones her case to them for their help, it's like being encouraged thereto, by their finding out her case before in the preaching of the Word, but chap. 5. 7. she doth no such thing. 2. When they find her, chap. 5. 7. they smite her and put her to shame, which makes her silent; but their finding her here, doth encourage her. 3. Though here she find not Christ instantly, yet she sayes not as in the former steps, I found him not, she could not altogether say so, and imme­diatly after she finds him; but, chap. 5. she goes long seeking him, after she meets with the watchmen; yea, goes from them heavier, and more wounded than when she came: And this Song being to hold forth the various conditions of a believer, and it being incident to them sometimes to fall in tender hands, and sometimes, yea, often in the hands of such as are rough and un­tender, [Page 164] we judge it safest to understand this place of the first, and chap. 5. of the last, and especially because this makes most for the believers instruction and consolation, which is here aimed at, and this is more suitable to the scope of the Song, than that both should be underst [...] one way.

Vers. 4.‘It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul lo­veth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mo­thers house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.’

The beginning of this verse, contains the last step of the Brides carriage, and also her desired successe, She went a little further, and but a little, and she finds him whom her soul loveth: Publick Ordinances and fellowship with godly men, are very useful and necessary, but not to be rested on; and they who find not the desired outgate by these, would not immediatly give over the businesse as desperat and hopelesse; for, there is something even beyond these to be aimed at, a little further must be gone, which is the first thing in the verse: and we conceive it doth import these two, 1. A more immediat going to Christ himself, (as if the Ministers had said) ye must go over and beyond means, to Christ himself, and denying these, lean and rest, and that wholly on him: They go beyond means, that rest not on them, and are denyed to them in the use of them, as that man, Matth. 17. 14. that brought his son to the Disciples, to get the devil cast out, and when that did it not, he went not away, but stayed for Christ himself, and told the case to him: Christ can do when means fail, and we would trust him, when they seem to disappoint us: How fecklesse are the best of Ministers, when himself is not present? [Page 165] 2. This going a little further, doth not import the doing of any duties she had not done, but a more vigorous and lively manner of going about the [...]e: There had some heartlesnesse, unbelief and indisposition stuck to her, in all the former steps and struglings; now she steps further in, and goes forward in the use of the [...]e same means; and not speaking to the Minister, when she finds that the moving of his lips cannot asswage her grief, she looks thorow to the Master, and vigorously addresses her self to the exercise of faith in him, of prayer to him, &c. in a more serious way than she had done before. Obs. 1. Sometimes believers may say too much weight on outward and publick means; they may rest too much there, and go no further then these. 2. It's God's goodnesse, by disappointments in means, to train his people on to a further length of power and li [...]e in their practice. 3. It may be when a believer hath satisfied himself in going about all external means, and that in the due order, and hath neglected none of them, that there is still somewhat more to do, as to the bettering of his in­ward frame. 4. It's not a desperat businesse, nor are believers forthwith to conclude that their hope is pe [...]ished, because they have not attained their desire in the use of means for a time. 5. It's not a lesse practique in soul-exercises, to go over and be­yond means and ordinances in sueing for Christ, than to go about them; and the last is no lesse necessary than the first. 6. Be­lievers in the use of means, would joyn these three together, 1. Making conscience of means; And yet, 2. For the successe, looking higher than they; And, 3. Not stumbling when they find not instantly ease, or satisfaction by them.

The second thing here, is her successe, which is according to her desire, I found him (saith she) when I had pressed but a little further, he sensibly and surprisingly made himself known to me. Obs. 1. Christ is not far off from his people when they are seeking him, whatever they may think when he hides himself. 2. They who love Christ, and conscionably follow all means for obtaining of him, are not far from finding, nor he far from manifesting him­self to them. 3. They who sincerely presse forward to the life of O [...]dinances beyond the form, and by faith take themselves to Christ himself for the blessing, not resting on their performances, [Page 166] will not long misse Christ; yea, it may be, he will give them a sensible manifestation of himself sooner than they are awar; for, the Spirit is obtained, not by the works of the Law, but by the hear­ing of Faith. Gal. 3. 2. 4. A soul that sincerely loves Christ, should not, and when in a right frame will not give over seeking Christ till it find him, whatever disappointments it meets with; and sure, such will find him at last. 5. Christ found after much search, will be very welcome, and his presence then will be most discernable. 6. Believers would no lesse observe, and acknow­ledge their good successe in the means, than their disappoint­ments; There are many who often make regrates of their bonds, that are deficient in acknowledging Gods goodnesse when they get liberty.

Next, In this verse we have her carriage set down, when she hath found him; She doth not then lay-by diligence, as if all were done, but is of new taken up, with as great care to retain and improve this mercy, as before she was solicitous to attain it: Whether a believer want or have; whether he be seeking or in­joying, there is still matter of exercise for him in his condition. This her care to retain Christ (which is the fourth thing in the first part of this Chapter) is laid down in three steps. 1. She en­deavours to hold him, that she again lose not the ground she had gained. 2. She seeks to have other members of that same Church getting good of Christ also: and these two are in this verse. 3. When his presence is brought back to the Church and Ordinances, her care is to admonish; yea, charge that he be entertained well with them, lest they should provock him to be gone, vers. 5.

The first step then of her care is, I held him and would not let him go, as a wife having found her husband, whom she much longed-for, hangs on him lest he depart again, so doth she; which is an expression both of her fear, love, care and faith. This holding of Christ, and not letting him go, imports, 1. A holy kind of violence, more than ordinary, wherewith the Bride strives and wrestles to retain him. 2. That Christ (as it were) waits for the believers consent in this wrestling, as he saith to Iacob, Gen. 32. 26. I pray let me go: which upon the matter seems to say, I will not go, if thou wilt hold me, and have me [Page 167] stay. 3. It imports an importunat adhering to him, and not consenting upon any terms to quit him. And lastly, it imports the singular and inexpressible satisfaction she had in him; her ve­ry life lay in the keeping him still with her, and therefore she holds him, and cannot think of parting with him. Now this pre­sence of Christ (being spiritual) cannot be understood in a car­nal way, nor can they be carnal grips that retain him; and his power being omnipotent, it cannot be the force of a frail crea­ture that prevails, but it is here as in Hos. 12. 2, 3. In Iacob's prevailing, he wept and made supplication, that is, an humble, ardent sueing to him by prayer, with a lively exercise of faith on his promises (whereby he allows his people to be pressing) ingageth him to stay; He is tyed by his own love that is in his heart, and his faithfulnesse in his promises, that he will not with­draw, and deny them that, for which they make supplication to him, more than if he were by their strength prevailed over, and overcome; as a little weeping child will hold it's mother or nurse, not because it is stronger then she, but because the mo­thers bowels so constrains her, as she cannot almost, though she would leave that child; So Christ's bowels earning over a be­liever, are that which here holds him, that he cannot go; He cannot go because he will not. Here we have ground to observe the importunatnesse of sincere love, which is such, as with a ho­ly wilfulnesse it holds to Christ and will not quit him, as Iacob said, I will not let thee go. 2. We may observe here the power of lively [...]aith (to which nothing is impossible) love and faith will stick to Christ against his own seeming intreaties, till they gain their point, and will prevail, Gen. 32. 28. 3. See here the condescending, the wonderful condescending of the Almighty, to be held by his own creature; to be, as it were, at their disposal, I pray thee let me go, Gen. 32. 26. and Exod. 32. 10. Let me alone, Moses; So long as a believer will not consent to quit Christ, so long keeps their [...]aith grip of him, and he will not offend at this importunity; ye [...], he is exceedingly well pleased with it: It cannot be told how effectual prayer and faith would be, if ser­vent and vigorous.

The second step of her carriage, which is the scope of the for­mer, [Page 168] namely of her holding him, is in these words, till I had brought him to my mothers house, to the chambers of her that con­ceived me. By mother in Scripture is understood the visible Church, which is even the believers mother, Hos. 2. 2. Say to Ammi (my people) plead with your mother. So chap. 1. 6. this mother hath children, both after the flesh, and after the spirit, the former hating the latter; And, chap. 8. 5. It's the mother that hath Ordinances, for the Brides instruction. The Church visible is called the mother, because, 1. By the immortal seed of the Word, the Lord begets believers in his Church, to which he is Husband, and the Father of these children, she the wife and mo­ther that conceives them, and brings them up. 2. Because of the Covenant-tye that stands betwixt God and the visible Church, whereby she may claim right to him as her Husband (the Covenant being the marriage-contract betwixt God and the Church) which is therefore the ground of the former relation of mother. Again, Christ is said to be brought into the Church, not only when his Ordinances are pure in her, (which is supposed to be here already; for, vers. 3. there were watchmen doing their duty, and dispensing pure Ordinances) but when there is life in them, the presence and countenance of his Spirit going along with them, that they may be powerful for the end appointed: as it was one thing to have the Temple, the type of his Church, and another, to have God's presence singularly in it; So it's one thing to have pure Ordinances set up in the Church, and another, to have Christ's presence filling them with power: Now (saith she) when I got Christ, I knew there was many fellow-members of that same Church, that had need of him, and I was importu­nate that he might manifest himself in his Ordinances there, for their and my good. Church-Ordinances, are the allowed and ordinary mean of keeping fellowship with Christ, and they are all empty when he is not there. Obs. 1. That even true belie­vers have the visible Church for their mother, and it's written of them as their priviledge, that they were born there▪ Psal. 87. 4, 5. 2. Believers should not disclaim the Church in which they are spiritually begotten and born, nor their fellow-members there­in; but reverence her as the mother that gave them life, and [Page 169] carry respectively toward her as such; Honour thy father and thy mother being a moral command, and the first with promise. See Psal. 122. 3, 6. 3. When believers get neerest Christ for themselvs, it's then the fit time to deal with him for others, especially for the Church whereof they are members: It's Moses only expresse suit, Exod. 34. 9. when God admits him to his company (in pre­senting whereof it's said, vers. 8. he made haste) I pray thee, O Lord, go amongst us. 4. It's true tendernesse, when one is admit­ted to more neernesse with God than others, not to separat from the Church whereof they were members, and as it were to carry Christ to their own chamber; but to endeavour to have Christ brought also to the Church, that what is wanting of life amongst her members, or the rest of the children, may be made up by his presence. 5. They who are tender of their own comfort, and of retaining Christ's presence with themselves, will be carefull to have others not yet sensible of their need of it, nor acquaint with it, made partakers thereof also. 6. Believers in their seri­ous applications to Christ for the Church whereof they are mem­bers, may prevail much, and have much influence for obtaining his presence there, and for the putting of every thing in a better frame for the good of others. 7. A kindly member of the Church, is brought up ordinarily in that Church, and by that mo­ther, where they were conceived, therefore she goes back to her mothers house, for they have breasts to nourish, who have a womb to bring [...]orth in this respect; and yet here were both children that hated her, chap. 1. 6. and watch-men that smote her, chap. 5. 7. yet to this mothers house she goes. In a word, this is, as a kind spouse living in her mothers house, having after long seeking found her husband, will be desirous to have him home with her, not only for their mutual solace, but for the comfort of all the family; so do believers, living yet in the Church, desire to im­prove their credit and court with Christ, for the good of the whole Church, that where she was conceived, others may be con­ceived also: Where Christ's Ordinances are, there ordinarily are children begotten to God; and where a Church conceives seed, and brings forth to him, it's a token he hath not given her a bill of divorce, nor will disclaim her to be his wife; so much lesse, [Page 170] the children ought not to disclaim her as their mother: It's a shame that many who professe to be children, either are not yet conceived, or the mother that conceived them, is dispised by them; It's strange if the Father will owne such as children, who not only cry out against, but curse their mother, and place a piece of Religion in this.

Vers. 5.‘I charge you, O ye Daughters of Jerusalem, by the Roes, and by the Hindes of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my Love till he please.’

The third part of her care is in this verse, when she hath pre­vailed with him, to give his presence and countenance to her mo­thers house, then she turns to the Daughters of Ierusalem, the visible professors and members of the Church, charging them, that now seing Christ is returned, they would be carefull to entertain him well, and not to provoke him to withdraw. These words were spoken-to in the former Chapter, vers. 7. where they have the same general scope, which is to shew her care of having Christ retained; but in this they differ, there they look to her parti­cular injoyment of Christ; here they look (as the scope and con­nexion with the former words shew) to his presence in the Church or her mothers house, lest that should (by the daughters [...]ault) be interrupted: The first shews a believers care, conj [...]ring all (as it were) that nothing in her might provoke him: This shews what should be the Churches care in reference to his visible pre­sence, and blessing (to say so) in his Church: Now (saith she) Christ is amongst you, O ye who are of my mothers house, be­ware of putting him away; and in this she deals with them, as considered in their visible Church-state and relation, and not as real believers; the charge being to all: And therefore in the fol­lowing verse, and chap. 8. 5. The Daughters return an answer, which they do not, chap. 2. 7. because here she directs her words [Page 171] to the visible professors, whereas, chap. 2. 7. her scope was only to compose her self, seing the presence she injoyed, was only to her particular sense. Here, Obs. 1. As there is more of Christ's sensible presence, and also of distance from him, in his way with particular believers at one time than at another▪ so is there, in respect of his way to his Church, sometime he is not in the mo­thers house, sometimes he is. 2. As every believer should en­deavour to retain Christ in his presence with their own souls; so all the members of a visible Church, should be careful to prevent his departure from his Ordinances. 3. Often it's with Christ's presence in his Church, as it's with the condition of particular believers in it; if they be secure, and he away from them, then often he is from the mothers house also; if they be lively, and he with them, then he is brought back again to the Church with them. 4. As Christ may withdraw, if provocked and not enter­tained, from a private believer; so will he do from a Church, if they hold not fast what they have received, and walk not answerably thereto. 5. Church-members, by their sins, have much influence on Christ's removal from amongst them; yea, sometimes it may come to passe (when the body of a Church turn despisers of the Gospel) that no intercession of the godly for preventing his de­parture, will prevail, even though Noah, Daniel and Iob were amongst them, Ier. 15. 1. and Ezek. 14. 14. 6. Believers that know the hazard of provocking Christ, and what a loss the loss of his presence is, would interpose seriously with new unexperienced beginners, and give them warning faithfully concerning this their hazard. 7. As a believer, in respect of the visible Church, stands under the relation of a childe to a mother; so in respect of visible professors, they stand under the relation of brethren and sisters, and would keep religious communion with them, even as such, that being an external duty that lyeth upon them. 8. True love to Christ, will be affected even with the wrongs that others do to him who is their beloved, and will endeavour to prevent his being wronged and provocked, as she doth here. 9. True love to others, will not only put to pray and interceed for them, and employ all the court the believer hath with Christ for their good [Page 172] (as the Bride did in the former verse) but will also manifest it self in giving faithful admonitions, advertisements, &c. And in doing what else may prevent sin in them.

Daughters of Ierusalem.

Vers. 6.‘Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with Myrrhe and Frankincense, with all pouders of the merchant?’

The visible professors having now gotten a serious charge (be­cause they are not easily ingaged; and it mars the good of our fellowship one with another in admonitions and warnings, when we are not serious even in the manner of our dealing with others) they are some way put in a little pee [...]e of warmnesse, and admi­ration more than ordinary (as ordinarily Christ's return to a Church and his Ordinances in it, after a palpable decay, hath some stir and affectionat-like motions accompanying it, such as was to be found in Iohn's hearers, Iohn 5. 35.) And in this af­fected and stirred condition they answer the Brides charge, O who is this? say they, importing they have more respect to the god­ly, and shew forth more evidences of it in their expressions, than ever they used formerly to do.

That these are the words of the Daughters of Ierusalem, may be cleared from these things, 1. That they are placed on the back of her charge to them; and when she charges, they use to answer (as Chap. 5. 9. and 8. 5.) and then she proceeds to speak to them, even so it is here; for, the words hold forth a mutual conference betwixt her and them, and therefore the words of this verse will be most pertinently understood as spoken by them. 2. They are the same words on the matter, and spoken on the same occasion, with these, Chap. 8. 5. which we will find to be spoken by them. 3. They can agree to none other. To say, [Page 173] they are the words of Angels, is not warrantable, they not being a speaking party in this Song: To say, they are the Brides own words, will not sute with the commendation that is given to her, and of her in them, as by a distinct party: Neither can they be Christ's words spoken immediatly by him; for, Chap. 8. 5. where these words upon the matter are repeated, she is said to ascend, leaning on her beloved; and he is spoken of, and looked on as a third, both from the Bride and the speaker. It remains then, that they must be the words of the daughters of Ierusalem, wondering at the change that was to be seen on the Church, her case being now compared with what it was before; and wondering at believers in her, upon the same account also, as almost mistaking them, and so they speak as having other affections to them than they had before. It's like that wondering expression, Isa. 49. 21. Thou shall say (to wit, when the sudden change comes) Who hath begotten me these? or, as it is, Rev. 3. 9. where it's promised to the Church of Philadelphia, that others should fall down, and worship at her feet, as being con­vinced now, that Christ loves his Church. And that this verse is spoken of the Bride, the words in the Original, being in the feminine gener, puts it out of question; for, they are in the Original, as if it were said, Who is she that cometh up, &c?

The words contain a commendation of the Church, expressed both in the matter, and also in the manner of the expression (being by way of question) and it is given by visible Professors, some whereof may be more tender than others, yet both contra­distinguished from the Bride. The commendation hath three parts or steps. 1. She cometh, or (as it's Chap. 8. 5.) ascends from the wildernesse; It's like before this manifestation of Christ, the Church was dry and withered-like, in a wildernesse condition, without any beauty or lustre; but now that condition is changed, when Christ is present, she ascends and comes out of it: And this wildernesse (considering her ascent from it) signifies the World, wherein believers sojourn in the way to Heaven (as Is­rael did in the wildernesse to Canaan) and wherein there is no true content, nor satisfying rest sought by them, nor to be found by any, therefore is their back on it, though formerly they seem­ed [Page 174] to be settled in it with the rest of the World; Thus the hea­venlinesse of believers in their conversation is set out. 2. She comes like pillars of smoak; This looks not in all things to or­dinary smoak, but (as the after-words do clear) to the smoak of incense, &c. Now she ascends like smoak in a calm-day, and like pillars of it together, making heaven-ward, as the smoak of incense, which being commanded in God's worship, was accep­table to him: And as smoak fleeing from kindled fire cannot but ascend, and fire (especially new kindled) cannot but have smoak, and that in abundance; so now the Church being warmed, and of fresh inflamed and made lively with Christ's presence, cannot but send out a sweet savour, which discernably ascends upward from the world (which is but a wildernesse) as smoak doth from the earth.

3. She is perfumed with Myrrhe and Frankincense, and all the pouders of the merchant: That is, as precious pouders are used to make one savoury, so the believer being replenished with the graces of Christ's spirit, (often in this Song compared to sweet spices, Chap. 1. 12. and 4. 6. 13. 14. 16. &c.) and these graces being now quickned by his presence, they cast a delightful sa­vour to them with whom such believers converse: So it was, Act. 2. ult. and the ordinances, being powerful and lively, will have such a powerful influence, as to be a sweet [...]avour in every place, 2. Cor. 2. 14, 15. and to leave some conviction of their amiable­nesse and excellency, even upon the consciences of these who will never get good of them, so that there is no costly ointment or pouder, that will so per [...]ume a person or place, as the Gospel will do a Church; especially when immediatly on the back of Christ's return, he doth in an extraordinary manner countenance the dispensing of his own Ordinances, so that even the tem­porary believer is made in a manner, to receive the Gospel with joy.

Next, the manner of the expression is by way of question, and admiration, Who is this? say they, we never saw the like of her, she hath no match; and so the question expresseth a wonderful beauty and lovelinesse in her, and a great conviction and astonish­ment in them. In reference to which two, these things are to [Page 175] be learned. 1. That there is nothing more lovely and savoury in it self, than grace exercised in a believers walk, and Christ's Ordinances beautified with his own presence in his Church. 2. That where Christ's Ordinances in his Church, and the graces of his Spirit in the hearts of his people are made lively with his presence, they will be in their beauty very discernable to others, and will be much admired, spoken of, and commended by them. 3. That this beauty is usually most fresh, when Christ returns to his people and Church, after he hath been a while away; for, then tendernesse is in life amongst them. 4. The world in it self, and being compared with Christ's Church (especially in their estimation, whose eyes God hath opened) is but a miserable wildernesse, and cannot give a heartsome being or place of abode to a believer. 5. Believers have a more noble design to com­passe, than to sit down and take up their rest in this world, their faces bend upward, and their backs are upon it. 6. Christ's presence gives life to a believers motion, and ravisheth them up­ward, as fire put to fewel, necessitats smoak to ascend. 7. A hea­venly-minded believer is a comely sight, and a world-denyed Professor will extort a commendation, even from ordinary on­lookers. 8. As there is more of the exercise of true grace a­mongst believers, by Christ's more than ordinary presence with them, and in his Church; so there is often a more than ordinary warmnesse and motion in the generality of Church-members at such a time, whereof yet many may be unsound, as no question all the daughters of Ierusalem were not sound. 9. The Church of Christ and believers in it, will look much more beautiful to Prefessors at one time than at another, and they will be much more taken with this beauty sometimes than at other times; for, Chap. 1. 5. 6. The daughters of Ierusalem were in hazard to stumble at her spots; here they are ravished with her beauty, as thinking her another thing than she was before. 10. Christ's presence will indeed put another face, both on a Church and person, and make them every way different (but still to the bet­ter) from what they were. 11. The more active, believers be in exercising their graces, they will have the more fresh relish and sa­vor; for, her ascending here, makes all her persumes to flow.


Vers. 7.‘Behold his bed, which is Solomon's: threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel.
Vers. 8.‘They all hold Swords, being expert in war: every man hath his Sword upon his thigh, because of fear in the night.’

The Bride, being commended in the former verse by the daughters of Ierusalem, as being jealous that they gazed upon her, to the prejudice of the Bridegroom, and being ever restlesse till every commendable thing that is in her, redound to his praise, to whom she owes, and from whom she derives all her beauty; She steps in hastily with a Behold, as having a far more wonderful and excellent object to propone to them, to wit, Christ Jesus, the true Solomon himself, whose lovelinesse and glory should take them all up, rather than any poor perfections they saw in her.

That this is the scope, the matter will clear, especially vers. 11. where, what she would be at, is propounded in plain terms; and her sudden coming in with a Behold, as in Chap. 1. 6. doth con­firm it. That they are the Brides words also, the scope and con­nexion bears it out; this being her disposition, that she can suf­fer no commendanion from Christ, nor from any other to stay or rest upon her, but is restlesse till it be turned over to his praise, as, Chap. 1. 16. 2. 3. &c. There is none so tender of him, or jea­lous of his honour, as Christ's Bride is: Again, the daughters be­ing spoken unto, and Christ spoken of as a third person, it can be no other that speaks here, but the Bride: What? (saith she) [Page 177] are ye taken with any lovelinesse ye see in me? I will propose to you a far more excellent object. And this short but very sweet discourse, holds [...]orth Christ, lovely and glorious in three most excellent steps, wherein by a notable gradation, Solomon is ever mentioned, his name (who was a special type of Christ) being borrowed to design him, while his glory is set forth. He is de­scribed, 1. From his bed, vers. 7, 8. Whereby is set forth, the excellent happinesse and quietnesse that believers have in injoy­ing him. 2. From his Chariot, a most stately piece of work, by which is signified that excellent mean (to wit, the Covenant of redemption revealed and preached) whereby our Lord Jesus brings his people to his rest, vers. 9, 10. 3. She propounds his own most excellent self, and that crowned with the stately Maje­sty and glory of his love, beyond which there is no step to pro­ceed, but here she [...]ists, and willeth all others to be taken up, in beholding him, as the only desirable and heart-ravishing ob­ject, vers. 11.

For opening of the first, in the 7. and 8. verses, we have these five things to consider. 1 Who this Solomon is. 2. What this bed is. 3. What this guard, that is about it, doth signifie. 4. For what end that guard is appointed. 5. The use of the note of attention, Behold, which is prefixed.

1. By Solomon, David's son, properly is not understood, this scope will not agree to him (he was indeed a great King, but a greater than Solomon is here) Therefore, seing in Scripture, Solomon was typical of Christ, as from Psal. 72. and other places may be gathered: Through all these verses, by Solomon, is un­derstood Christ, the beloved and Bridegroom, who especially was typified by Solomon in these things: 1. Solomon had a great Kingdom from the river to the Sea; and so will our Lord have many subjects. 2. As Solomon was, so Christ is, a powerful, rich King; our Lord Jesus hath all power in Heaven and Earth com­mitted to him. 3. Solomon was a royal, magnificent King, sought unto from all parts of the earth; and so the name and glory, wherewith the Mediator is furnished, is abov [...] every name in Heaven and in Earth. 4. Solomon was a wise, judicious King▪ and singular for that; and so in our Lord Jesus dwells all the [Page 178] treasures of wisdom and knowledge; there is no need to fear that any thing that concerns his people will miscarry in his hand. 5. Solomon had a peaceable reign (for which cause he had that name) and his government was blessed and happy to his people and servants; and so our Lord Jesus is the Prince of peace, Isa. 9. 6. and of his government there is no change; and happy are his subjects, and blessed are his servants, for the one half of his glory, magnificence, wisdom, &c. and of their happinesse can neither be told nor believed. This is an excellent person, and a most state­ly King, who yet is the believers Bridegroom; Christ's Bride is nobly and honourably matched.

2. By bed here, is understood the same thing that was signified by it, Chap. 1. 16. to wit, that accesse, and neernesse familiarity that the believer hath with Christ, and whereunto he admits them that are his; and the rest, solace and refreshment that they injoy in fellowship with him; Beds being especially appointed for these two, 1. For refreshing and rest, Isa. 57. 2. and Psal. 132. 3. 2. For the mutual fellowship of Husband and Wife: So then, by this is holden forth the excellent refreshing, and soul-ease, that a believer may have in the injoying of Christ: There is no bed that can give quietnesse, rest and solace like this. A­gain, it's called his bed, 1. To distinguish it from hers, Chap. 3. 1. There is great odds betwixt the two, as was hinted upon that verse. 2. To shew, that although she be admitted to it (and therefore it's called ours, chap. 1. 16.) yet it's wholly procured and framed by him alone. 3. It's called his, to shew the com­munion that a believer hath with Christ in his refreshings. O sweet! It's Christ's own bed, if he lye well, they lye well who are married to him; It's his peace which they injoy here, my peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, &c. Ioh. 14. 27. And it's his glory and throne, that they are made partakers of hereafter, when they are set down on the same throne with him. Again, it's called his bed, which is Solomon's: which expression, is added, to shew where the weight of this wonderful refreshing lyes, to wit, in this, that the rest (which he invits them to be­hold) is no mean man's, it's Solomon's; yea, a greater than So­lomon's, whose curtains and hangings are much above his, chap. 1. 6. [Page 179] If Solomon's servants were happy that were admitted to his pre­sence, how wonderfully happy are believers, Christ's Bride, who are admitted to his own bed: The dignity of believing and union with him, would be read out of the dignity and glorious Majesty of the person with whom we are united.

3. There is a guard mentioned here, which in relation to Christ, shews his statelinesse, and in relation to us, shews our safe­ty and security, that as Kings (and it's like Solomon) used to be attended by guards, for statelinesse and security, that quietly they may rest (their guards watching about them) so this rest that a believer hath in Christ, O it's sure! there is an excellent guard compassing them about. It is particularly described, 1. In it's number, they are sixty, that is a competent and sufficient num­ber. 2. They are valiant, gallant, couragious men, that will not fail to execute orders: They are the choice men of Israel, that Solomon had to watch his bed, they are choice ones our Lord makes use of for the security of believers. 3. They are orderly disposed for their security, they are about it, on all hands, there can be no approach made upon believers, to the prejudice of the repose they have in Christ. 4. They are well armed; yea, al­wayes at their arms, in a posture of defence, they all hold swords, none of them wants arms, and they have them still in readinesse. 5. They are not only stout, but skilfull, expert men, who have been tryed and well proven: None of his people needs to suspect Christ's watch over them, dexterous is he in preserving poor souls. 6. Every one hath his sword girt on his thigh, and is stand­ing at his post. All the expressions tend to shew that here, and here only, in Christ's bed may a soul rest secure; there is no ac­cesse for wrath to seize upon them that are in Christ, nor to devils to pull them from Christ; for, He and his Father are stronger then all, and none is able to pluck them out of his hand. Believers have a notable security and defence, Christ's bed and his guard, if he be sure, they are sure, one watch watcheth both him and her. The same power of God, Isa. 27. 2. the twenty thousand of Angels, which are his Chariots, Psal. 68. 17. are for the believers pro­tection in Christ's company, pitching their tents about them, Psal. 34. 8. In a word, they are not only guarded with Angels, but [Page 180] with divine attributes, the wisdom and power of God, and this makes them dwell in safety.

4. The end of all this, is, for fear in the night; There are no nights to Christ himself, and so no fear; yea, Solomon the type, having such a peaceable kingdom, it's not like he had much fear; but the fear is in respect of believers, who are admitted to Christ's company and fellowship: For preventing their fears, he hath settled all firmly, as if guards were set for their security. Hence we gather, that the believer is supposed to be in the bed with him, otherwise there is no use of this guard; and his bed here is a piece of work that is framed not only for himself, but also for the Daughters of Ierusalem, as the following Chariot is. By night here is understood believers darknesse and lightlesse con­ditions (to speak so) wherein fears, doubts, challenges, &c. are most ready to assault, as afrightments use to befall men in the night. These words, because of fear in the night, hold forth the use that our Solomon hath of that guard, to wit, for quieting his poor people, against the doubtings, difficulties, discourage­ments, &c. and such-like, whereto believers are so subject in their drooping, night-conditions; though when light shines, they are little troubled. These words shew, 1. That Christ's Bride admitted to fellowship with him, may have her black and dark nights. 2. That believers, who have thought themselves above doubtings and fears, when things went well with them; yet in nights of temptation, darknesse and tryal they may be overtaken with, many sad fears; It's not alwayes day with them, and when it's night with them, they are apt to fear. 3. That believers in their nights, and under their fears, have good security and an ex­cellent guard; yea, their safety and defence is as good then, as when there is no night nor fear; how dark soever their night be, Christ's guard will sufficiently preserve them. 4. Christ is ten­der even of believers fears, and hath provided so well for their peace, as he hath appointed means not only to prevent their hurt, but also to prevent their fears: For, because of fear hath he ap­pointed this guard. 5. There is no King or Monarch so well at­tended and guarded, or who may sleep so secure and sound as a believer: His guard is still at their post, and they are valiant [Page 181] men, that cannot fail; for, 1. He is at peace with God; and he that is within the peace of God, hath the warrand, right and ad­vantage of it to guard the heart and mind, Phil. 4. 7. 2. The believer hath all the promises, and confirmations of Oath and Seals, in which it is impossible for God to lie, to secure and quiet him. 3. He hath the watch of Angels, Psal. 34. 7. pitching their tents about him, and chariots of Angels waiting on him. 4. He hath God himself, and his Almighty power for his defence, who alone may make him dwell in safety, wherefore he may ly down with confidence, and also sleep with quietnesse, Psal. 4. 8. It's good sleeping in Christ's bed, there is not so good rest to be found any where in the World: So then, by the guard is under­stood, whatever contributes for confirming believers faith, and strengthening them against their fears of being interupted in their rest, which (being in Christ) is allowed upon them.

5. A behold is prefixed to all this, and that deservedly. 1. To shew the wonderfulnesse of what she was to say, O how wonder­ful is it, if beleeved! 2. To provoke and stir up to observe and take notice of it; few are acquaint with believers priviledges, and if they had not been recorded in the word, we durst never have likened or evened our selves to them. 3. It's to shew an holy impatiency in her affection, in breaking in so with this dis­course, as more servently desirous to fill their mouths and hearts with the commending of Christ, than what they were about in commending of her: A notable diversion, and sign of love in a friend of the Bridegroom, who with Iohn the Baptist is content to decrease, so he may increase: True believers should and will endeavour more the commendation of Christ, in their fellow­ship together, than to commend any grace, gift, or what else they have gotten from him; they will not conceit, or cry up their graces and gifts as they are theirs, for that were base ingratitude, but withall they mention what they have received, partly to in­dear him to themselves, and partly to commend him to others; and thus they design to return him his own with advantage, where­in nevertheless they are the gainers, even while they seem to give what they have received.

Vers. 9.‘King Solomon made himself a Chariot of the wood of Lebanon.
Vers. 10.‘He made the pillars thereof of Sil­ver, the bottom thereof of Gold, the co­vering of it of Purple; the midst there­of being paved with Love, for the daugh­ters of Jerusalem.

The second piece of work, mentioned, for the commendation of the Worker, is a Chariot, described at large vers 9, 10. For clearing of the words, we are to inquire concerning these three things. 1. It's Worker or Former. 2. The end for which it is framed. 3. Concerning this Chariot it self.

The author or maker thereof, is Solomon, and that King Solo­mon, that is Christ, as was cleared before, he is mentioned thrice under this name; but there is a gradation here that is observ­able. 1. He is called Solomon, vers. 7. 2. King Solomon, vers. 9. 3. King Solomon crowned, or, crowned King Solomon, vers. 11. The longer she speaks of Christ, and insists in mentioning his ex­cellency, her thoughts draw the deeper, she sets him up the high­er, and becomes warmer in her apprehensions, affections and ex­pressions concerning him: Acquaintance with him, would make one speak eloquently of him; He that is the worker and former of this Chariot, is a most excellent King, it must needs then be a stately, royal piece of work.

2. There are two ends mentioned wherefore he makes it, 1. It's to himself, that is, for his own glory, and that thereby he may in a special way hold forth himself to be glorious, and that particularly in his grace; for, though he made all things for him­self, yet is he said especially to manifest his glory in doing good [Page 183] to his people; and what serves for the manifestation of his grace, is in a peculiar manner made for himself: So Isa. 43. 7. and 21; This people have I formed for my self (in a far other way than he formed other nations) they shall (in a singular way) shew forth my praise, that is, the praise of his goodnesse, wherein his way was peculiar to them: And the paving of this Chariot with love, and appointing of it for the daughters of Ierusalem, doth confirm this also, that it's the praise of grace that especially shines in this piece of work. And so the second end, subordinat to the former, is in the end of vers. 10. in these words, for the daughters of Ie­rusalem, that is, for their good that are weak and far short of perfection; it's not only fitted for his glory, but also, it's fitted and confirmed to them, so as it may procure and bring about their good. Obs. 1. In the greatest pieces of Christ's workman­ship he had mind of poor sinners yet unglorified, his delight was with them before the world was, Prov. 8. 31. 2. The glori­fying of grace is the great thing Christ aimes at in all his contri­vance and way toward his Church and people. 3. He hath knit his own glory and the good of his people together; that same work which is for himself, is also for them, that if he obtain his end, they cannot but be well; his glory and their good, ride (to say so) in one Chariot. 4. For as stately a person as our Lord Jesus is, he disdains not to be occupied in making works, and as it were framing Chariots, for the behoove of his people: Rather than they should want what may further them in their way, he will make and furnish them himself.

3. The third thing is the work it self, which indeed is very ad­mirable, as the worker and ends are: It's a Chariot, several wayes described, both in it's matter, form and furniture. The word translated Chariot is no where else in Scripture, it's translated bed on the margent, it's by the Septuagints expressed by such a word as signifieth, to be carried, and to carry, as Chariots and Litters (wherein men are carried) used to be carried by horse [...]: We think it fitly expressed by Chariot, not only because the word is different from that which is translated bed, vers. 7. but, 1. The immediat end and use seems to be different also; for, as stately King's use their beds for repose and rest, in their chambers, and [Page 184] their Chariots to ride in, when they go abroad, and wherein their Queens may ride with them; so is it here. As Christ hath a bed for believers quieting, he hath also a Chariot for safe convoy­ing and carrying them thorow their journey, till they come to their compleet rest, this being no lesse necessary for believers (such as the daughters of Ierusalem are) than the former.

In short, by this chariot we understand the way of Redemption in general, as it is contrived in the eternal counsel of God, and so called the Covenant of Redemption, and also as it's preached and manifested to us in the Gospel. The reasons why we thus apply it, are, not only because there is no other thing that it will agree unto; for, 1. It's a work of Christ, and so not Christ him­self. 2. It's a work of special grace for his own, and that while they are in the way (for the Elect in heaven are not daughters of Ierusalem) therefore it's no common work of creation, or pro­vidence, or of glory in heaven. 3. It's for the Churches good, and therefore cannot be understood of her; for, beside that the several parts of it's description will not suit her, not only Christ, but the daughters of Ierusalem are to be born in this chariot: And we know not a fourth thing imaginable, that can be under­stood by it, but the Covenant of Redemption revealed in the Gospel. But, 2. The Covenant of Redemption is that work of Christ's, wherein most eminently the glory of his grace and love to sinners doth appear, which makes him wonderful lovely and ad­mirable; (to set forth which is the present scope) It therefore must be here understood. 3. That work is signified by this Chariot, whereby Christ communicats his love to poor sinners, and caries them through, therefore it's said to be paved with love for that end; Now there is no partaking of special love from Christ, but by this Covenant, nor was there ever another mean made, or appointed for convoying love to them, or for bringing them through to the partaking of it, but this same Covenant, therefore it must be understood. 4. All that is spoken of this Chariot, as it will be applicable to no other thing, so will it well agree to the Covenant of Redemption manifested and preached in the Gospel. 1. It may well be compared to a Chariot, because by it poor believers are carried through as in a Chariot, born up [Page 185] and sustained by it, even in the way: Yea, in it and by it they triumph, and ride as in triumph, (as he in this Gospel rides pro­sperously) and if it be that wherein he rides, it must be that wherein they ride also, and therefore well compared to a Chariot, because both he and they triumph by it. 2. It's eminently and peculiarly Christ's workmanship, he made this Covenant for their behoove, and entred himself surety, undertaking for them, when there was none upon their side of the Covenant to undertake but he the Mediator; and therefore is he stiled Jesus and Redeemer, and it's by his purchase (having procured this unto them) that they are admitted to it, and carried through in it. 3. It's in a peculiar way contrived and framed for the glory of his grace, and the good of his people, as hath been said; by it is manifested in the Church the manifold wisdom of God, and the riches of the grace of Christ; If ever a piece of work was made for the good of sinners, and the glory of grace, this is it, without which all the creatures had been uncomfortable; yea, hurtful to them. 4. It may be said to be of the wood of Lebanon, that is excellent and durable, for so the wood of Lebanon was, for which cause it was made use of in building of the Temple; and so all the materials of this Covenant, and it's properties are excellent and durable, it's an everlasting Covenant, that fails not, and vanishes not away, but endures for ever. 5. The form is suitable also, He made the pillars thereof (saith she) of Silver; pillars in a piece of work sig­nify, 1. Decoring. 2. Order-lines. 3. Statelinesse, for which cause when wisdom builds her house, Prov. 9. 1, 2. she heweth out seven pillars; and Solomon made pillars for the Temple, the in­scriptions whereof signified their end and use, Iachin and Boaz, stability and strength, 2 Chron. 3. 17. And they are as silver pillars to shew their excellency, and so this Covenant hath precious pro­mises, as the pillars thereof, able to support believers, and hath all these so well ordered and contrived that every thing is excel­lently in it's own place; This Covenant is therefore said to be well ordered in all things and sure, the pillars will not shrink, shake, nor bow, 2 Sam. 23 5. 6. It hath a bottom and that of Gold: A bot­tom is to shew it's stability and firmnesse, to sustain and keep up these who ride in it, and Gold shews it solidity and preciousnesse, [Page 186] it's a rich bottom, therefore the new Ierusalem is said to have her streets of pure Gold, Rev. 21. 22. So this Covenant hath a sure foundation, elect and precious; this Covenant cannot be un­bottom'd, and sinners cannot fall through, if once in it. 7. It hath a covering, and that of purple: A cover is to preserve and save from any thing that may fall from above; and Purple or Scarlet (for in Scripture both are one, as may be seen, Matth. 27. 28. compa­red with Mark 15. 17.) sets out the excellency and efficacy of that cover, it's not of every thing, it's of Purple; and this in Scripture was made use of to be dipt in the blood of the Sacri­fices, Heb. 9. 14. which was called, vers. 20. the blood of the Cove­nant, typifing the application of Christ's blood: This is the co­ver of the Covenant, the worth and efficacy of Christ's satisfaction, whereby all in Covenant (as it were riding in this Chariot) are preserved from the wrath of God, and their sins hid, and so co­vered by that blood, that they are never called to a reckoning for them, Psal. 32. 1, 2. Ier. 50. 20. 8. The midst thereof is paved with love: What can this be? Gold is much, but love is more; what workman but Christ can make this pavement? and what piece of work of his, but the Covenant of Redemption, is so lined and stuffed with love? The midst thereof is the inward of it, as great men in their Chariots and Coaches, have their pillows and cushions of Velvets, &c. to repose them; But here there is a far other thing, to repose and rest upon, love lines all this Cha­riot, so that there is none in the Covenant, but love is still next them, the Word speaks good to them, and all the Promises run like pipes, with streams of love to them; God's dispensations toward them breath out love, they walk on love, sit on love, rest on love; it must be good to be here: And love is reserved for the midst of it, to shew, that though it's excellency and beauty may some-way shine, and glister to these that are without; yet, none knows or can know the heart and bowels of the Covenant, (to say so) and the love that is there, but these that are within. 2. Love is put over the bottom of Gold, and made the pave­ment, 1. Because love in this Covenant condescends lowest to us, and there can be no lower stooping imaginable, than that to which the love of Christ hath made him bow. 2. It's love that [Page 187] makes the riches of Christ applicable to us, we could not walk on that Gold, if love paved it not, the freedom of his grace and love makes all refreshful; the believer, even though a sinner, may ride and rest here. 3. It's to hearten a sinner to come in and close with this Covenant, and it shews what fits it to be a Chariot for them to ride in, it's the pavement of love; a sinner may leap here, there is no hazard to fall, or if he fall, he falls soft, for it's upon love: There will be no rejecting of a sinner that would en­ter and fit down in it, why? they are to fit, stand, and lye on love, which will cover their infirmities, and not contend, otherwise there would be no accesse to it, nor abiding in it, it would cast them out. Thus doth grace shine in the Covenant, as the lineing and inside of all the promises, when they are seen, therefore is it pe­culiarly called the Covenant of grace. 9. It's for the daughters of Ierusalem; all the work is for them, but especially the pave­ment of love; it's for them, who while they are in the way are sub­ject to infirmities, it's fitted for them to role on, and rest in, even when sense of sin would otherwise sting and disquiet them; this suits well with that word, 2 Sam. 23 5. Although my house be not so with God, but there are many things sinful to be found in it; yet, he hath made with me an everlasting Covenant well ordered in all things and sure, This, saith he, (when he was to die) is all my salvation, and all my desire: There needs no more for carrying believing sinners through, and giving them ease under their chal­lenges and perplexities, but this, it's so well suited for believers conditions. From all this she proceeds, vers. 11. to point out Christ as precious, this Covenant putting as it were the Crown of grace, and lovelinesse on him.

Obs. 1. The work of Redemption, bringing sinners out of a state of wrath and carrying them through to glory, is a noble de­sign▪ a wonderfully excellent work, and hath been deeply contri­ved. 2. O the excellent wisdom, and wonderful grace that shines in this Covenant! 3. They who would rest in Christ's bed, must ride in his Chariot; they who would share in his peace and be ad­mitted to sweet fellowship with him, must accept of his offers, and enter into Covenant with him. 4. The weight of all contained in the Covenant lyes on Christ, therefore it's his workmanship [Page 188] alone, as being the surety thereof to the Father, the Messenger of the Covenant to us, and in effect the sum and substance of it himself, therefore is he called the Covenant, Isa. 42. 6. 5. Christ hath spared no invention nor cost, to make this Covenant large and full for the believers consolation and happinesse. 6. Love is a main ingredient in this work of Redemption, and the predo­minant qualification of this Covenant, love being the thing which he chiefly intended to make conspicuous and glorious therein. 7. Every particular of the contrivance of grace will be found more precious than another, every step thereof proceeds to a greater excellency, and therefore there is mention made here, 1. Of wood. 2. Of Silver. 3. Of Gold, &c. The further in we come in the Covenant, we will find it the more rich. 8. Love is here men­tioned in the last place, to shew the great excellency of Christ's love unto redeemed sinners; there is something beyond Gold, but nothing beyond Love, especially that of the Mediator: It's left last also in the description, to leave the daughters of Ierusa­lem to consider the more of it, as being the great attractive com­mendation of this work, which should make it amiable and de­sirable unto them; Love hath the last word, and there is no­thing beyond it, but himself, whose glory and lovelinesse is spo­ken to in the following verse. Lastly, her scope is, 1. To com­mend Christ, for they will never esteem of him that are not ac­quaint with his Covenant. 2. To ingage both her self and the daughters to fall more throughly in love with him; The right uptaking of the Covenant is a most forcible argument for draw­ing souls to Christ: For, 1. It hath all fulnesse in it, for the mat­ter. 2. All wisdom, for the manner. 3. All gracious conde­scending, in the terms. 4. It's most ingaging in respect of it's end, being made for this same very purpose, and designed for this very end, that it may bring about the peace and salvation of sin­ners; which considerations exceedingly commend it, and may much strengthen a sinner in applying himself to it. 5. It's most necessary in regard of the salvation of sinners, there is no riding or journeying to Heaven, but in this Chariot; No other name by which men can be saved, but the Name of Christ, that is manifested by this Covenant.

Vers. 11.‘Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon with the Crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladnesse of his heart.’

She proceeds in this verse, to hold forth the worker of this great work, and although all the pieces of the work be admi­rable, yet hath he much more glory, in as far as the builder is more glorious, and hath more honour than the house; and be­cause his commendation is her scope, therefore she propounds him in his beauty and glory, with an exhortation filled with ad­miration: If (saith she) ye would wonder, O daughters, &c. here is a wonderful object, Christ himself, on whom all eyes should be fixed; up therefore, come forth and behold him. There are four things in the verse, 1. The parties spoken unto. 2. A glorious object propounded to them. 3. This glorious object being Christ, is qualified and set out in his most lovely and wonderful posture, by three qualifications. 4. A duty in refe­rence to him so qualified, is called for, and pressed upon the daughters.

1. The parties excited and spoken to here, are the daughters of Zion: By Zion oftentimes in Scripture is understood the Church, wherein Christ is set as King, Psal. 2. 6. and elsewhere: and so by daughters of Zion, we are to understand members of the Church; They are the same with the daughters of Ierusalem mentioned vers. 5. and her scope being to speak to them who spoke, vers. 6. and they being the same to whom she spake, vers. 5. doth con­firm it; for, the words run in one context. They are called here daughters of Zion. 1. Because it was for Zions sake that the Lord so much prized Ierusalem, Psal. 87. 2. his Temple and Or­dinances being especially there. 2. To put the daughters of Ie­rusalem [Page 190] in mind, what was the especial ground of the relation which God owned in them, namely their being incorporat into his Church, whereby they had accesse to his Ordinances: And that so they might know whoever was deficient, yet this duty cal­led for, did exceedingly become them, Christ being King of Zion; for which cause elsewhere, Zech 9. 9. the exhortation runs in these terms, Tell the daughter of Zion, behold thy King cometh, &c. It's no little thing to get professors taking up the relation they stand under to Christ, and ingaged to walk accordingly.

2. The object proposed to these daughters, is King Solomon, even the King of Zion the King of Peace, and King of Saints, in a word, their King: This relation makes him lovely to them; yet, it's not Christ simply that is here proposed to their veiw, but Christ with a Crown, in most stately magnificence, such as Kings use to be adorned with, when they are in great state, or on their Coronation day. While it's said, he hath a Crown, hereby is not signified any material Crown, but majesty and glory, as Psal. 21. 3. Thou set a Crown of pure Gold on his head, &c. And so Christ con­quering on the white horse, Rev. 6. 3. is said to have a Crown: And, Rev. 19. 12. it's said, he hath on his head many Crowns, To shew his great and manifold glory, such as becomes the Prince of the King's of the earth: Every look of Christ is not enough, many thinks not much of him; This shews how Christ's glory is to be seen, and how for that end he is to be considered by on-lookers; He is to be looked upon as he doth discover and hold forth him­self, otherwise his glory will never rightly be taken up: And therefore to help us in this, and to prevent an objection which carnal sense might make against her scope, she qualifies this Crown and glory of his three wayes, 1. It's the Crown wherewith his mo­ther crowned him: Where we are to inquire, 1. What different Crowns Christ may be said to have, and what this is. 2. Who this mother is. 3. How she is said to Crown him.

Christ may be said to have a fourfold glory, or crown, 1. As God co-essential with the Father; this crown is not put on him, being natural to him, who is the brightnesse of the Fathers glory, and the expresse Image of his person, Heb. 1. 2, 3. 2. He hath a crown and glory as Mediator, in respect of the power, authority [Page 191] and glory wherewith he is invested, as God's great deputy, and anointed upon the holy hill of Zion, having power and a rod of iron, even in reference to enemies; and seing this is not of his mothers putting on, it is not that which is here understood. 3. He hath a crown and glory in respect of the manifestation of his glory in the executing of his Offices, when he makes his Media­tory -power and glory apparent in particular steps; thus some­times he is said to take his power to him, Rev. 11. 17. and is said to be crowned, when the white horse of the Gospel rides in triumph, Rev. 6. 2. The last step of this glory will be in the day of Judge­ment: In short, this consists in his exercising his former power, committed to him as Mediator. 4. There is a crown and glory which is in a manner put on him by particular believers, when he is glorified by them, not by adding any thing to his infinite glo­ry, but by their acknowledging of him to be so, especially their acknowledging his rich and free grace, and by believing, putting their seal thereunto. Ioh. 3. 33. and giving him glory, as Abra­ham did, Rom. 4. 20. in which respect he is crowned, as on the contrary, when he meets not with this, he is despised, and it is a saying upon the matter, this man shall not reign over us: Now this last is to be here understood. Again, by mother here, is not understood his natural mother, but it must be taken in a spiritual sense for one of two, either, 1. For the Church Catholick, which being mother to Christ mystical, may be said to be mother to him, as Rev. 12. 5. the Church is said to bring forth a man-childe, who is taken to Heaven, and hath ascribed to him the properties due to Christ, and yet Christ mystical is there understood; Or, 2. For a particular believer, who may be said to be Christ's mo­ther in these respects, 1. For the near relation that is betwixt Christ and particular believers, and the accompt he hath of them; for which reason they are called his sister, his spouse, Chap. 4. 10. and Matth. 12. ult. He calls them his brother, his sister; ye [...], mo­ther. 2. Because Christ is formed and brought forth in them, being as it were conceived in every one of them, Gal. 4. 19. Christ (as it were) getting a new being in them, which he had not be­fore. We conceive both may be understood here, and the last especially, as serving most to the scope of commending Christ to [Page 192] them; and if the first be included, to wit, the Church universal, then particular believers (being homogeneous parts of the whole) cannot be excluded; for, the Church crowns Christ, when she brings forth children to him, which is, when by the Ordinances Christ is begotten in them. Now they are said to crown Christ and glorify him, not by adding any new degrees of glory to him, considered in himself; but this his being crowned by them, doth especially appear in these three, 1. Their high estimation of him, beyond what others have, and what themselves were wont to have; Now he is highly esteemed who before was despised by them, and whereas to them he wanted a crown and dominion, now he hath it. 2. Their acceptation of him as their King, when by their consent, they ratify (as it were) God's donation of the crown to him, and in acknowledging thereof, they submit to his Scepter and Government: Thus he is crowned by them, when he is expresly with full consent of the soul acknowledged as King and Lord: Even as David formerly crowned, anointed and made King over Israel by the Lord, is said to be made King by Iudah, when they accept of him to reign at Hebron; and afterward by the ten Tribes in their submission to him, and consenting to the former appointment: Even so believers submission to Christ, is a crown­ing of him, as to themselves: And so there are particular Coro­nations (to say so) of Christ, even as there are particular espou­sals betwixt him and believers. 3. This is in respect of the glo­ry, that results to Christ from their submission and acknowledg­ment, even as sinners despising him, put (as it were) a blot on him, put him to open shame, and sayes we will not have him to reign over us; so believers, yeelding up themselves to Christ, do in a manner put honour and glory upon him, Isa. 62. 2, 3. The married Church or people, are said to be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, when the grace of Christ hath it's native effect amongst them; as the conversion of souls proves to faithful Mi­nisters their crown and joy, 1 Thes. 2. 14. so doth it to the great Bishop and Shepherd of souls: And, as Prov. 12. 4. A vertuous woman is a crown, or ornament to her husband, whereas if she be not so, she maketh him ashamed: So are believers some-way a crown to Christ, because all the glory and beauty which is to be [Page 193] found on them, is his, and from him. This then is the meaning, Consider Christ in the beauty wherein he appears to believers, and with the esteem they have of him, as full of grace and truth, when they acknowledge him, and subject to him, and he will be seen to be exceeding flately and lovely.

The second qualification confirms this: This crown is put on him in the day of his espousals; Now Christ's general espousals are not yet come, and so the crown in that respect is not yet put on him; it must be therefore the day of his espousals with parti­lar believers (which is here understood, there being no other before his second coming) who are, 2 Cor. 11. 2. espoused to him, by their consenting to accept him▪ for their husband, as he is king to them, by their submitting to his dominion. His being crown­ed here, is mentioned with respect to this day of his espousals, because as bridegrooms used to be most glorious in their mar­riage-day, so Christ hath at the time of espousals, a special love­linesse to the new married believer, what by the more kindly and tender manifestations of his love, and what by the fresh rel­lish it hath then to them, when their spirits are broken with the sense of their sin, and warm with a deal of holy joy and fainnesse which useth then to abound in their heart, in reference to so good a bargain; so Christ is then to believers wonderfully lovely: And although the effects of his kindnesse may be inlarged after­ward, and their esteem of him may also grow, yet readily then as it's most sensible, so their admiration is most in exercise, and their thoughts of Christ's excellent worth, are most affectingly, and overcomingly ravishing; and when in their after-thoughts they are taken up with him, the remembring of that day of es­pousals, when he took them by the hand, puts still a lovelinesse on him to them, that in his love he so wonderfully condescended unto them.

The third qualification confirms the same (for, it is in effect one qualification in three expressions) and it's in these words, and in the day of the gladnesse of his heart; What is it (saith she) that chears Christ, and makes him heartily glad? It's even this, when poor sinners accept of him, that is Christ's marriage-day; and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride that day, so doth [Page 194] he rejoice: and as the good Shepherd rejoiceth when he recovers his lost sheep, or the father his prodigal son, Luk. 15. 32. so doth Christ when sinners are brought in to him by the Gospel: And this joy is called the gladnesse of his heart, to shew the reality of it, Christ (in a manner) can injoy no such satisfying thing as a marriage with a poor sinner, then he sees the travel of his soul and is satisfied, Isa. 53. 11. that chears him and makes him smile (if I may say so) and this looks to that glory which shines in Christ, and is expressed by him when he is well satisfied with poor sin­ners, and that is mainly when he gets welcome by them. This signifies not joy in Christ, as it's in us: But, 1. It shews how accep­table a sinners believing in him, is to him. 2. What confident welcome they may expect from him, when they come unto him. 3. How kindly he useth them, by manifesting himself to be well pleased, as one that is chearful doth on his marriage-day to his bride.

3. The duty prest upon the daughters is in two words, hold­ing forth two duties, the one whereof is the mids or mean to the other, and the other the end of this. The first is, Behold, which points at the great scope and thing called for; And it imports, 1. A wonderful object, and indeed Christ is so, being considered in his most royal posture, as a crowned King upon his coronati­on-day; and in his most loving posture, as a beautiful Bride­groom on his marriage-day. 2. It imports a dulnesse in the daugh­ters, needing upstirring to take up Christ in this lovely and glo­rious posture. 3. A difficulty rightly to take him up under this consideration, yet a necessity of it, and that it be done with at­tention. 4. It implyes an intensnesse or benfill of spirit in the act of beholding; so rare an object, calls for greatest intention of heart, and gravest consideration of mind in the beholder: It's not every look or glance of the eyes that will discern it; But, 1. There must be attentivenesse and steddinesse, an stayed looking, and as it were dwelling on the object with their eye. 2. The exercise of saith must go alongst with this their looking, reading his worth by faith exercised on him, as Isa. 45. 19. look unto me and be ye saved; Beholding of him, as the stung Israelits did the brazen serpent. 3. Also the exercise of love; an affectionat look is here necessary, [Page 195] delighting in him, and being taken up with him, as one with that wherein they take pleasure, the eye of the seer here, cannot but af­fect and inflame the heart. 4. This looking is attended with wondering at this glorious object, as one beholding a wonder, and ravished with the admirablenesse of it: All these are com­prehended under this expression, Behold him. The second word (which hath in it another piece of their duty) is, go forth, and this is a help to the other: And (beside what hath been hinted at in the former expression) it shews, it's not in every posture that they will take up Christ thus, but there is a necessity they must come out from under the natural condition they were in­to: We take it to be the same with that precept, Psa. 45. 10, 11. Forget thine own people and thy fathers house, so (and no otherwise) shall the King greatly desire thy beauty. Christ manifests not him­sel [...], as reconciled and pleased, till former lovers be given up with; and this beholding of his smiling and glorious countenance, cannot be obtained till then, even as one fitting in the house cannot dis­cern a flately fight going by, except they go forth: Thus the similitude is borrowed, to shew a necessity of rousing of affections within; but not to signifie any local mutation. This then is the sense and scope, O Professors (saith the Bride) would ye see a stately sight? then get up, and set your selves to take up Christ, more glorious than Solomon either on his coronation or marri­age-day (to which there is an allusion here) And because few sees great comelinesse and beauty in Christ, why he should be desired; Therefore she adds what a sight it is she understands. Endeavour (saith she) to behold him as he is discernable to believers, when they close with him, and accept of him; if so ye will exercise faith in him, so as ye may perfect espousals with him, and satisfie him by resting on him, ye will then have a stately and soul-ravish­ing object to look upon, otherwise Christ is not alway, and to every one pleasant and chearful company.

Obs. 1. Christ, when rightly conceived and taken up, is a most ravishing satisfying fight, and a most glorious stately person to look upon. 2. Though Christ Jesus be so stately a person, yet he condescends to espouse and marry himself to the believer: Thus Christ by faith becomes theirs. 3. This marrying hath [Page 196] it's day, and men are not born espoused to Christ, but by their ac­cepting of him, their espousals with him are consummat. 4. Christ is never taken up aright but by the believer, nor doth his glory ever appear as it is, but to the believer: others that are not spiritual cannot discern it. 5. Christ's condescending to marry sinners and accept of them, is as the Crown and Diadem of his glory; and that which makes him most singularly admirable, is that he is full of grace and truth, Ioh. 1. 18. 6. Christ accounts believing on him by a poor sinner, a singular piece of honour done unto him; It's as the putting of crown on his head, when they make use of his grace; as he accounts it the greatest dishonour can be done to him, to refuse and slight him; and therefore, misbelief (when Christ calls) is a most hainous sin, it is as it were the taking of Christ's crown from him. 7. There is no such plea­sure that a sinner can do to Christ, as to believe on him; and Christ is ever chearful then, when sinners are thronging on him by faith, and he is never discontent with that; for, that is the day of the gladnesse of his heart, as other dayes in the Church are sad, when this design of his, is (as it were) obstructed and disappointed. 8. Usually the sight and sense of Christ's grace are most fresh and sensible to the soul, about the time of their closing with Christ, or of their being clear that they have closed with him. 9. Every lazy looking on Christ, or wishing for him, will not be acceptable to him, nor solidly comfort a sinner; but there must be a going forth, and a beholding of him. 10. This being spoken to the daughters of Zion, saith, many may have much of a profession and a name, yea, they may have a kind of high esteem of gracious people (as the daughters had, vers. 6.) and yet be such as have not rightly taken up Christ, but are exceeding igno­rant of him, as these are, Chap. 5. 9. 11. Considering these words as spoken by the Bride, who was so much commended, vers. 6. we may observe, that no particular esteem or commendation will satisfie a sincere believer, so long as Christ gets not his due: his honour will still be neerer them than their own.



Vers. 1.‘Behold, thou art fair, my love, be­hold, thou art fair, thou hast Doves eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of Goats that appear from mount Gilead.

THat these are Christ's words spoken to the Bride, is at the first clear; He continues speaking from the beginning unto vers. 16. and then vers. 16. the Bride speaks by prayer to him, for the influences and breathings of the Spirit.

In Christ's speech there are two parts; the first to the eight verse, wherein he gives both a general and particular commenda­tion of the Bride. The second, from that foreward to the last verse, wherein he begins with a sweet invitation, and then shews how he was affected towards her, and so breaks out in another commendation of her. The matter in both is sweet and com­fortable; wonderful to be spoken by such a one as Christ, of such a one as a believer; but there is nothing in his love, but what is wonderful and like himself. The scope of the first part of Christ's speech is twofold. 1. More general, to intimate his love to his Bride, on the back of so much darknesse; Chap. 3. 1. 2. (in the midst of which, notwithstanding her love did appear in her com­mending him;) and it's subjoined to the commendation that she gives of him to others, in the preceeding Chapter, to shew, 1. That when believers slight their own esteem, to have it ac­creassing to Christ's commendation, it's never losse but gain to them; for, here Christ comes in to commend her himself, where­as it was but the daughters of Ierusalem who commended her, Chap. 3. 6. 2. It shews, that time taken, and pains bestowed for [Page 198] the edification of others, and their instruction in the excellency of Christ, is acceptable to him, and proves often useful for at­taining sensible fellowship with him; yea, it proves often to be some way as useful in reference to this as their own particular praying for themselves, the Lord doth so return their pains taken this way in their bosome. That to commend the Bride is the scope in general, is clear from vers. 7.

More particularly we take the scope to be, his giving her an answer to her prayer, chap. 2. 17. where she prayed for his fellow­ship untill the day break, &c. Here he doth not only materially answer, but vers. 6. formally repeats her words, that she may know what he speaks is a direct answer to her prayer: untill that day come (saith he) it shall be so as thou desires (as the words will make it clear) Shewing, 1. That a believers prayers may for a time lye beside Christ, (as it were) and yet he not forget a word of them, but mind well the answer and performance of them. 2. That sometimes he will not only give what is sought by his people, but make them know that he respects their prayer in the giving of it; and so he not only hears their prayers, but lets them know he hath heard them.

This commendation, whereby he intimats his respect to her, hath four steps. 1. It's done in general, vers. 1. Then, 2. He in­sists on particulars, from vers. 1. to vers. 6. 3. He shews how his respect to her affected him, vers. 6. 4. He sums all particu­lars up in an universal commendation, vers. 7. lest any thing should be missed, or being left out might vex her; whereby he shews, what was his scope in that which preceeded.

The general commendation in the beginning of vers. 1. is the same that was given her, Chap. 1. 15. yet here it's repeated with the two beholds: The reasons why he repeats it, are, 1. That Christ might evidence to her the reality of his love, and that he varies not, nor changes in it, even though sits of security on her side had interveened, Chap. 3. 1. Christ's love and thoughts to his people, are still the same, whatever changes be upon their frame and way, which may occasion sad changes in his dispensati­ons towards them. 2. That she might the more be perswaded of his love to her and esteem of her; Christ would have his own [Page 199] throughly perswaded that he loves them, 1. Ioh. 4. 16. and would have others to know that he respects them, more than the most mighty in the world. 3. It's because often believers from all o­ther hands, whether the men of the world, or from themselves, have but little comfort, therefore Christ renewes his intimations to support and comfort them: Believers consolation hangs most on his kindnesse to them, and they who depend most on it are no losers. And further, We may here observe, that even a believ­er, especially after sad challenges, will need renewed intimations of Christ's love.

The more particular explication and commendation of her parts follows; where we would advert, 1. That bodily mem­bers or parts, are not to be here looked unto, but believers have a inner-man, as well as an outward, a new man as well as an old; and so that inner-man hath, as it were, distinct parts and members as the natural body hath, which act in reference there­to, with some analogy to these members in the natural body. 2. As the new or inner-man sets forth the new natural and habi­tual grace in the believer; so the particular parts, eyes, lips, &c. signifie distinct graces of faith, love, &c. which are parts of that new nature. 3. These parts may be looked on as useful in the new man, as the external members are in the body, or as they are evidences of something in the renewed disposition. 4. They set forth the disposition, as they are qualified in the commenda­tion, and not simply. 5. Although we cannot satisfie our own, or others curiosity, in the particular application of these parts, yet there is a particular meaning of every several part here attri­buted to her, as well as of every part attributed to him, Chap. 5. 11, 12 &c. and he giveth no idle words, nor useth any vain repe­titions: We would therefore beware of thinking all this needless, seing he knoweth best what is needful. 6. Being clear of the scope, that it is to commend graces, and to evidence the beauty of her several graces, we must regulatall the application by that scope, and what is subservient thereto, cannot be impertinent. Yet, 7. There is much need of sobriety here; therefore, we shall be short and not peremptory in particular applications. 8. There being a connexion amongst all the graces of the Spirit, it must [Page 200] not be thought absurd that some of these graces be signified twice in different respects, and that one part respect moe graces (which are neerly linked) especially when the commendation gives ground to infer it. 9. We take this commendation to set forth especial­ly the invisible Church, or true believers, which are the mem­bers thereof, as the scope and application do clear.

If it be asked, why he insists on particulars in this commenda­tion? I answer, for these reasons; 1. That he may shew, that whoever hath the new nature, and a lively work of grace, hath also particular graces in exercise. 2. That it may be known that the new nature is not a dead body, but a living; and exerciseth it self by putting forth these particular graces in exercise. 3. That he may shew, that where ever one grace is, all are there, and as it's ordinarily with one grace, so it's with all; where believers are in a good and commendable case, it will not be one grace or two that will be in exercise, or one duty or two in which these graces are exercised, but it will be universally, all graces, and in all known duties. 4. To shew, who may expect Christ's commen­dation; these who have a respect to all his commands, and make conscience to exercise all graces. 5. To shew what particular notice he takes of believers graces, he can tell how it is with e­very one of them; and takes this exact notice of them, because it's very acceptable to him, when he finds them in good case.

There are seven parts particularly mentioned, every one having it's own distinct commendation. The first two of them are in the rest of vers. 1. The first thing commended is her eyes, which here have a twofold commendation. 1. That they are as Doves eyes. 2. That they are within her locks. Eyes are the organs of seeing in the natural body, whereby we discern objects that are visible; and so our understandings are thereby set forth in Scrip­ture; That the eyes of your understanding may be inlightened, saith the Apostle, Eph. 1. 18. By eyes also the affections are set forth, because the affection sets the eye on work to look here or there, (Hence is the phrase of a single and evil eye, Matth. 6. 21, 23.) and because it's some way the seat of these, and somewhat of love or hatred will be, and may be gathered from the eye. Here we un­derstand, 1. A spiritual, sanctified and inlightened understanding [Page 201] in the things of God, taking up Christ and spiritual things spiri­tually, 1 Cor. 2. 15. that is, by faith, it being the evidence of things not seen, Heb. 11. 1. And therefore looking is frequently put for believing in Scripture, which presupposeth understanding. 2. Kind­linesse, or a spiritual, kindly and affectionat carriage to Christ; in a word, it is the exercise of love upon this spiritual and won­derfully excellent object Christ, a having respect to him, as it's, Isa. 17. 7. his eyes shall have respect to his Maker, it's such an uptak­ing of Christ and spiritual things, as works love and delight in them.

The commendation will confirm this, which is twofold, 1. They are doves eyes: This was opened, Chap. 1. 15. and it signifieth, 1. What is the great object they behold, and are taken up with, it is Christ; and they are chast to him, and seek to know no other at all but h [...] [...] Cor. 2. 2. 2. It imports that the act of faith whereby they behold him, is simple, single and sweet, their under­standing is not subtile, nor politick, nor are they pust up with it, but it's taken up in studying Christ and him crucified, opposite to the vain wisdom of the world, 1 Cor. 2. 1, 2. 2. These eyes are within her lo [...]ks. Locks are that part of the hair that hang about the face, handsomly knit, and was then in stead of a vail to wo­men, 1 Cor. 11. 7. and so the word in the Hebrew will bear; and it's differenced from that word translated hair, in the words fol­lowing, which is that part of the hair that covers the head: It im­plyes here, that the believers knowledge is not used for frothy ostentation (as the knowledge that puffs up) but is kept with­in it's right bounds, and that they are wise unto sobriety, and that their knowledge is not at the first obvious, but seasonably vents it self and looks out, as eyes that are within the locks.

These things are sure, and may be observed from the words, 1. That a believer should be filled with spiritual knowledge and understanding. 2. Knowledge is no lesse necessary to a believer, that he may go right in the way of God, and not erre, than eyes are to guide a ma [...] in a journey; and this necessity extends both to faith [...]nd practice. 3. A believer without knowledge, or weak in knowledge, is very far defective in spiritual beauty, he is as a man without eyes, it's not decent that a believer should be so; [Page 202] from this it is, that many are called weak in faith. 4. That know­ledge of spiritual things, should ever have faith, love and single­nesse going alongst in the exercise thereof; for, every knowledge will not be commendable to Christ, more than every eye will be useful in a body; Believers eyes must be as doves eyes. 5. A be­lievers eyes, or knowledge, is different from the knowledge of all others, 1. In respect of it's object, which is Christ and spiritual things. 2. In that it's joyned with love, it respects him. 3. In that it's chast keeping the soul for him alone. 4. It works delight in him. 5. It's denyed to other things. Obs. 6. Often the most subtile in worldly wisdom, knows least of Christ truely; whereas the most simple that have doves eyes, take up most of him. 7. Christ respects not how much a man knows, but how he is affected with it; It's not the eagles, but the doves eyes, which he commends. 8. It's good to know and to think little of our knowledge, and [...] to be puft up with it. 9. Christ loves it well, when his people seasonably use, and improve their knowledge and parts; then the new man becomes lovely, as the eyes are within the locks. 10. There are extrems in the use-making of knowledge, which are to be shunned, we would neither altogether obscure it that it be not seen, nor by ostentation make shew of it; It's good when it runs in the right mids, then it gets the commendation, and is as eyes within the locks.

The second thing commended is her hair, having a twofold commendation also. The hair is no integral, or essential part of the body (to say so) yet in all ages a great part of mens decoring, hath ever been placed in it: It's the most conspicuous thing of the body, being highest and most discernable, especially in the way it used to be dressed; and this conspicuousnesse of it, by the com­mendation, seems mainly to be aimed at. By hair we understand the ornament of a Christian godly, and sober walk, having the right principles of saving grace within, and the fruits thereof in a well ordered conversation, and suitable profession appearing without in the practice We take it so, not only because it is a main piece of a Christians or believers beauty, but also for these reasons, 1. Because as hair sets out and adorns the natural body, though it be no substantial part thereof; so a well ordered con­versation [Page 103] commends grace within, and makes it lovely. 2. Be­cause as hair is upmost and most conspicuous, and therefore seen when the natural body is hid (therefore it was to women a cover, 1 Cor. 11. 5.) so a suitable practical profession, is (as it were) the cover of holinesse, through which it shines, and by which it's con­spicuous, which otherwise would not be discernable. 3. And e­specially, because in Scripture this adorning with good works, and with a meek and quiet spirit, is put in the place of decking of the hair, and other external decorements, (1 Tim. 2. 9, 10.) as that wherein Christians beauty should shine before men, (Matth. 5. 17.) and which should be to a believer, as decking of the hair is to these who take pains to adorn the body. For sure these do make them beautiful before God and men, more than hair and it's decore­ments can make any person in the world appear beautiful to the men thereof. 1 Tim. 2. 9, 10. whose adorning (saith the Apostle, speaking of b [...]lieving women) let it not be in costly apparel, broi­dered hair, &c. but (what then should be in the place thereof?) shamefastnesse, sobriety, and good works, so 1 Pet. 3. 3, 4, 5. Whose adorning let it not be the platting of the hair, but in the place thereof, let it be a meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is of great price. And this is also mentioned by the Apostle, as that which is exceedingly ingaging to the husband, for which Sarah there is commended. Next, the commendation of her hair, in both it's parts, will confirm this, 1. It's like a flock of goats: Goats are stately and comely in going, and a flock of them must be very flately, as they were especially in these parts, Prov. 30. 21. and 31. And so this ornament of a good conversation, is an amiable, gaining and alluring thing; by it, saith Peter, the husbands affection may be won (and that both to Christ and to his wife in the Lord) more than by any outward decoring, and this puts them to glorify God, when it shines before them, Matth. 5. 16. 2. It's commended from this, that it's like a flock appearing from mount Gilead: This was a fruitful place, and it's like the goats that fed thereon, were more excellent than others in their beau­ty: And being seen afar, and discernable ere men came near them, were pleasant and stately to beholders; and so good works, show­ing forth themselves in a well-ordered conversation, do also as [Page 204] from a mountain appear to others, and sets believers up as lights shining in a dark place, Philip. 1. 15. and also makes them lovely and desirable in the consciences of on-lookers and beholders. Observe then, 1. That practice should wait upon knowledge, for, it is the end thereof, and without it all mens knowledge is void and vain. 2. Grace and holinesse appearing in a Christians practice, will shine, and be in some measure very discernable. 3. This is a thing that makes the believers conversation very beautiful and lovely. 4. It's not enough that believers be tender, and consci­entious in secret before God; but there ought to be a shining, even in their outward conversation before men. 5. This doth exceedingly adorn a believers walk, and make it stately to behol­ders, when the fruits of holinesse visibly appear in his conversa­tion.

Vers. 2.‘Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep, that are even shorn, which came up from the washing: whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.’

The third particular commended, is vers. 2. and it's her teeth, which have a fourfold commendation given them. The teeth pro­perly taken, are useful for furthering the nourishment of the body, they being the instruments that fit meat for digestion; and what comelinesse is in them, is not every way obvious, they are not seen or discerned in their proportionablenesse or disproportio­nablenesse, but by the motion of the lips, otherwise they are hid by them. 2. Again in Scripture they are used to evidence and signifie these three things, 1. They are used to signify the nature and disposition of a person, as good or evil; Hence evil men are said to have lions teeth, and that their teeth are as spears, Psal. 57. 4. And that beast, Dan. 7. 5, 7. is said to have three ribs in his teeth, pointing out it's cruel disposition. 2. They evidence good or ill food, that the person feeds on. 3. A healthfull or unhealthfull [Page 205] complexion, which depends much on the former: Hence Iudah's good portion and healthfulnesse is set out by this, Gen. 49. 12. His teeth shall be white with milk. According to the first, by teeth in the new man may be understood two things; first, [...]aith, believ­ing being often compared to eating, because it furthers the souls nourishment, and is the mean by which the soul lives on it's spi­ritual food. This saith, 1. That the inner man must have food, as the natural body hath, for it's sustaining. 2. That the believer actually eats, and makes use of that food, he hath teeth for that end, and should not only look on Christ, but feed on him. Secondly, Meditation also may be here understood, that serving much to the feeding and filling of the soul, as Psal. 63. 6, 7. My soul shall be filled as with marrow and fatnesse, how? While I meditate on thee on my bed, and think of thee in the night watches; Meditation is as it were [...] soul's ruminating and chewing it's cude, feeding upon, and digesting what is understood and eaten, as the clean beasts did; which may be one reason why her teeth are in the first part of their commendation, compared to a flock of sheep, which were among the number of clean beasts by reason of this property: Meditation is exceedingly useful for a believers life, and they who are strangers to it, are not like Christ's sheep.

Again as the teeth evidence first the nature and inward disposi­tion, so we conceive they are also made use of here (as the com­mendation also clears) to shew, 1. The zealous nature which is, and ought to be in believers, they have teeth, and ought not al­way to be soft, when the Lord's honour is concerned: Zeal though it bite not, and devour not, yet it's not senslesse, but easily touched with the feeling of that which reflects upon the glory of God. 2. The similitude here is to shew what a meek and quiet spirit believers have, they have not such teeth as lions or tygers, but such as sheep have; not tusks like dogs and ravenous beasts, but even shorn, shewing a moderation, and equablenesse in their way, being first pure, then peacable, gentle, &c. Iam. 3. 17. This will agree well to teeth, as they appear by opening the lips; for, the new nature within is expressed and doth appear in words, which afterward are spoken of under the similitude of lips. Now this christian moderation which keeps the right midst, is a notable [Page 206] piece of spiritual beauty (as is clear from the second piece of the commendation) for it's as a flock of sheep even shorn, and not une­qually, and unhandsomely clipped; so true zeal will not upon by-respect or interest be high or low, up or down, but keeps a just equality in it's way: And this speaks out a well constituted frame, that is, neither too soft, nor too sharp, in biting and devouring one another (as is said, Gal. 5. 15.) which carnal zeal sets the teeth a work to do.

2. This similitude doth evidence and signify a good subject they [...]eed on, to wit, Christ and his promises; and a good subject they me­ditate on, the same Christ and what is most precious in him: Hence in the third part of the commendation, they are likened to sheep coming up from the washing, white and clean: Neither mixture of humane inventions, nor of carnal passions or worldly delights, gets place and entertainment with them; their zeal is [...], their ends are single, their affections are chast and clean, being purged from all filthinesse of flesh and spirit, and they appear so.

3. Not only their healthfulnesse is hereby evidenced, but fur­ther also their fruitfulnesse; whereupon their inward meeknesse and zeal, moderated by pure and peaceable wisdom, have great in­fluence, as is clear by the fourth part of their commendation, eve­ry one of these sheep bear twins, and none is barren amongst them: The scope whereof, is to shew their aboundant fruitfulnesse; thus their sweet nature is a pleasant possession, like a flock of sheep that inriches their owner, they are so fruitful and profitable. Obs. 1. Feeding on Christ, is ever fruitful to the soul that makes him it's food; whereas other meats profit not them that are oc­cupied therein, Heb. 13. 9. 2. Zeal moderated with meeknesse, hath also a deal of fruits waiting on it, Iam. 3. 17. but bitter zeal (as it's there in the Original) or strife, hath confusion, and every evil work following on it. Ibid. vers. 14, 15, 16. It's much to be zealous alway in a good thing, and no little piece of a spi­ritual commendation, to keep the right midst with our zeal.

Vers. 3.‘Thy lips are like a threed of Scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy Temples are like a piece of a Pomegranate within thy locks.’

In this 3. vers. we have the fourth and fifth particulars that are commended in the Bride. The fourth thing commended is her lips: The commendation given them is, that they are like a threed of Scarlet, that is neat and lovely, and of an excellent co­lour, as Scarlet, which (being of the richest dye) was made use of under the [...] to represent the blood of Christ, as Heb. 9. 19. Next, this is amplified, as we conceive, in the following expression, (and thy speech is comely) which is added for the explication of the former, and therefore is joyned thereto with a copulative (and) which is added to none of the other parts here commen­ded; and it may be here added, to shew, 1. A way of opening the other expression; for, speech is expressed by lips, because they are the organs (to say so) whereby it's formed and uttered. And 2. To shew, that under lips comes in both our words to God in prayer and praise, and also our words to others, whatever is spoken or comes out of the lips, as often the phrase is used for both. Also it shews, that in a special way he takes notice of believers speech (when it's savory) as a main part of their spiritual beauty, which makes them lovely.

The commendation of her lips and speech is twofold. 1. More ge­neral, it's like a threed of Scarlet. 2. That is expounded by another expression more clear and particular, namely this, that her speech is comely: The meaning of both which, may be comprehended un­der these four, 1. That her speech is profitable for it's matter, as a Scarlet threed is precious and useful: The subject of a belie­vers discourse is not common, but good to the use of edifying, Eph. 4. 29. 2. It's pleasant and delightsome for it's manner, like a sweet, comely and pleasant voice, opposite to some kind of voices [Page 208] that are harsh and unpleasant; It's by prudence and love sweet­ned, and made savory, and therefore is said in Scripture to be sea­soned with salt, Col. 4. 6. and to minister grace to the hearers, Eph. 4. 29. and it's called a giving of thanks, Eph. 5. 4. 3. It's articulat and distinct, therefore called speech, and not a sound, having honest ingenuity in it, speaking as they think in their heart, Psal. 15. 2. and opposite to lying, dissembling, &c. whereby one speaks to vail or hide his mind from another. 4. Hereby is also signified, that they hazard not even the best of their prayers on their own bottom and worth, but their work is to have them all dyed in the blood of the Lamb, and to put them up in his Name, Heb. 13. 15. They are all offered up by him. Now these are special qualifications, commendations and characters of a believer; shew­ing, 1. That a believer, as a believer, is not dumb, but hath re­newed lips, whereby he can speak to God in praise [...] his honour, in prayers for his own good, and also to others for their edifica­tion: A believer that can speak nothing to a good purpose, or if he can, doth it not, is not like Christ's Bride; much lesse these whose discourses tend quite another way. 2. That words are in an especial way taken notice of by Christ, and are special eviden­ces of the frame of the heart, according to which we may expect commendation or reproof from Christ, for by our words we shall be justified or condemned, Mat. 12. 37. 3. That there is nothing more commendable in it self, beautiful in a believer, or accep­table to Christ, than the well ordering of the words; He who can rule the tongue, is a perfect man, Jam. 3. 2. 4. That believers prayers are all dyed in Christ's blood, and put up in his Name: And we conceive prayer, or the believers speech to God, is espe­cially here understood; partly, because prayer gets this same commendation to be sweet and comely, Chap. 2. 14. and partly, because mutual communication in words among believers, is ex­pressed afterward more clearly, vers. 11. though it is not to be excluded here.

The fifth part of her commendation (or the fifth character or property of the Bride) is in these words, Thy Temples are like a piece of a Pomegranate within thy locks. The temples are that part of the face, that are betwixt the ears and the eyes; and some­times [Page 209] the signification is so large, as they take in the cheeks; they are a special part, wherein the beauty of the face consists, and are the proper seat of shamefastness and modesty, wherein blushing ap­pears. The commendation is two sold, 1. They are like a piece of a Pomegranate: They who write of it say, it is a fruit, which when broken (as here the mentioning of a piece thereof signifies) is pleasant with red and white spots, not unlike blushing in a pleasant face. The second commendation is, that these temples are within her locks, of the colour of a Pomegranate, but not dis­cernable fully (as the eyes also were, vers. 1.) yet something ob­servable; As sometimes modesty will make blushing, and again will seek to cover it, when hardly will it be gotten done. Here we take tendernesse, shamefastnesse, modesty in spiritual things, and blushing before God to be understood; Christ's Bride hath a tendernesse that is soon affected with wrongs done to him, she easily resents them; and this is opposite to affrontednesse and a whores fore-head, which cannot be ashamed, than which no­thing is more displeasing to Christ, and unbecoming to his Bride; here the temples are not hard, (as the brow that is of brasse) but like a piece of a Pomegranate, opposite to it; here it is not stretched out impudently, but covered within the locks, and not shamelesse and affronted that cannot blush, but coloured (to say so) with shamefastnesse and blushing, which though they seek to hide, yet it appears in them. And this application being safe in it self, and agreeable to the scope: (which shews what Christ is delighted with in her) And this being a main piece of her beau­ty, and also suitable to the commendation, there is no hazard to fix on it; for, without this she would not be so lovely. Now we may easily conceive, that this tendernesse, modesty or blushing, is not any natural indowment, which appears in the carriage of man to man; but it is a saving grace, which especially is to be found in believers carriage before Christ, as being their Lord and Husband: and it evidenceth it self in believers in these, or the like steps. 1. In their being soon challenged, for any thing that looks like sin. 2. In their being affected easily with challenges, and with the infirmities that are in them. 3. In their thinking shame of them, as of things that are disgraceful. 4. In their not [Page 210] being tenacious of them, or of their own will, nor disputing with Christ in any thing, but passing easily from their compearance, as it were, and thinking shame to be taken in any sin, or to be found in mistakes with him. 5. In being sparing to speak of any thing that tends to commend themselves, or in seeking their own glo­ry. These are commendable things in a believer, and makes him look like the piece of a Pomegranate, spotted with red and white: And it shews the result of a believers looking on their own way, when they take it up, and see that wrong, and this right, and even that which is right, wrong in so many things, and so many wayes; whereupon as there is ever some sincerity, so there is ever some shame, and holy blushing; and this is constant, and (as it were) native to them, still to blush when they look upon themselves.

2. This commendation, that her temples are within her locks, Imports, that Christ's Bride blushes when none sees, and for that which no other sees: And also that she seeks not to publish her exercises, but modestly covers them; yet the evidences of all these in a tender walk, appear and are comely. Obs. 1. Shame­fastnesse or sobriety becomes a believer, or Christ's Bride exceed­ing well, 2 Tim. 2. 9. 2. Inward heart-blushing, when we look upon our selves before God, is the best tryal of true tendernesse. 3. A believer will have many shamefull representations of him­self, and will think much shame of what he sees, which the world will never be acquainted with. 4. This grace of self-loathing and holy blushing, is much taken notice of by Christ, and most especially recorded by him, however it be much hid from others.

Vers. 4.‘Thy neck is like the tower of Da­vid builded for armory, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all Shields of mighty men.’

The sixth thing commended in the Bride, is her neck: The neck being comely and straight, adds much to the beauty of a per­son, [Page 211] and is placed by nature, as a more eminent and essential part of the body than the eyes, legs, lips, &c. or any other part here mentioned; for, it's that whereby the head and body are joined together. The commendation therof is, that it's like the tower of David: What particular place this hath reference unto, it's hard to say, possibly it's that mentioned, Neh. 3. 16. 19. 25. cal­led the tower of the mighty, or the armory; It's like, that some strong hold built by David, eminent for beauty and strength, is hereby signified; which might have been imployed for keeping of arms, for times of danger, as the words following seem to bear.

2. This tower is more particularly explicat, 1. From the end and use for which it was intended, It was built for an armory, that men [...] be furnished with arms in time of need. 2. The store of arms there laid up, is here set down, whereupon hang a thousand bucklers, all Shields of mighty men, that is, It's furnish­ed especially with defensive arms (the believers war being most defensive) as shields; but with abundance of these, for number a thousand; and for quality excellent, and such as mighty men make use of.

If we consider the neck here, in respect of it's use, it holds forth the vigorous exercise of the grace of faith; for, it's that by which a believer is united to Christ the head: It's that which strengthens them, and is their armory furnishing them with shields, because it provides them out of Christ's fulnesse, which is contained in the promises; which promises, or rather Christ in them, being made use of by [...]aith, are for a believers security, a­gainst challenges, tentations, discouragements, &c. as so many excellent shields: Therefore, Eph. 6. 16. it's called the shield of faith, and for their safety it is commended above all the rest of the spiritual armour: And this being the believers great de­fence, and specially tending to their commendation when it is in lively exercise, this similitude cannot be so well applyed to any other thing.

Obs. 1. Faith in exercise is a notable defence to a believer, against all assaults and temptations; there is no such shield as [...]aith is, every promise, and every attribute in God, is as a shield [Page 212] to these that exercise this grace of saith thereupon. 2. Faith exercised on these, is exceedingly well pleasing to Jesus Christ. 3. That all believers have their arms out of one armory, there is but one store-house for them all, to wit, faith acting on Christ's fulnesse. 4. Faith will never want a buckler, there is a thousand laid up in a mag [...]zin for the believers use. 5. He is the most mighty and valiant man, who is most in the exercise and use-ma­king of faith. 6. Faith is the grace that makes a man valiant and victorious, as all the cloud of witnesses, Heb. 11. proves.

Again, if we consider the neck, as it's commended here, as be­ing like a tower for uprightnesse and straightnesse; it signifies a quiet serene mind, and a confident boldnesse in doing and suffer­ing; in which sense, it's opposit to hanging of the head, which speaks discouragement: And as a stretched out [...] in a carnal sense, Isa. 3. 16. signifies haughtinesse and pride; so here in a holy and spiritual sense, it implyes ch [...]rfulnesse of heart, and con­fident holy boldnesse, which proceeds from the spirit of adoption; and this waits upon, and follows after the exercise of faith, being fixed and stayed upon the Lord and his word against all events, Psal. 112. 6. Bold in duties, and valorous in sufferings, and in un­dergoing any difficulties. So then, this is no small commendation whi [...]h Christ gives his Bride, and it is well consistent with that holy blushing, sh [...]mefastnesse and sobriety, for which she was com­mended in the former verse.

Vers. 5.‘Thy breasts are like two young Roes that are twins, which feed among the Lilies.’

The seventh and last part that is commended in the Bride, is her two breasts or paps. For clearing of this similitude, we are to consider, 1. That the breasts in nature are a part of the come­linesse of the body, Ezek. 16. 7. 2. They are useful to give suck and food to others. 3. They signifie warmnesse of affection, and lovingnesse, as Prov. 5. 19. let her breasts alwayes satisfie thee; [Page 213] and Chap. 1. 13. the Bride expressing her affection to Christ, saith, he shall lye all night between my breasts; and so the wise of the bosome is the chast and beloved spouse: And thus Christ is cal­led the Son of God's love, or of his bosome. For this cause, we conceive these things are here understood, 1. A believers fit­nesse to edifie others, and that believers are in a condition suit­able to a married wife, or mother, that brings forth children, and hath breasts to nurse them: and so to have no breasts, Chap. 8. 8. is opposed to this; a believer is, as it were, a nurse with breasts, fitted to edifie others. 2. That believers being in case to be useful to others for their edification, is a special ornament to their profession. And the third thing that is here understood, is believers warmlinesse and kindlinesse to Christ, and these that are his, taking him and them (as it were) in their bosome; the believer hath warm affections to receive them into. And two breasts are mentioned, to shew there is no defect as to the ex­tent, but both her breasts are in good case, and alwayes ready in love to communicat their furniture, for others edification.

The commendation is in two steps, each whereof is qualified for the further inlarging of the commendation. The 1. is, They are like two R [...]es, that are lovely and kindly, Prov. 5. 17. (often mentioned before) and like young Roes, because these are most lovely, and suit best to be a similitude to set [...]orth the comeli­nesse of that part of the body; they are like young Roes, not too big; for, when breasts are too big, it's a deformity: And so when private edification exceeds it's true bounds, it's not ap­provable or lovely. And these Roes to which her breasts are compared, are twins: Which shews, an equality and proportion­ablenesse in their love to God and to others, giving each of these their own place, and keeping their love to creatures in the right subordination; and also their communicating their love to others, in admonitions and rebukes, &c. equally, keeping a propor­tionablenesse in all.

The second part of the commendation, is, they feed among the Lilies: As Roes would not maintain their pleasantnesse long, if they did not feed; yea, if the pasture were not good: So, these must needs be pleasant and useful, because they feed, and that not in [Page 214] a wildernesse, but amongst the lilies; Which shews, that believer in fitting and furnishing themselves; that they may be forthcoming for others edification, do not neglect their own advantage and edification, but feed on good pasture, whereby they are yet more fitted for being useful to others.

By feeding in this Song, is understood, 1. To be present in such a place, as Chap. 2. 16. 2. To make use of that which is food for the intertaining of life. 3. To delight in a thing for satis­fying of the affections. Next, by the Brides breasts (being like Roes that feed amongst the Lilies) three things may be understood. 1. As this expression respects Christ's feeding, (so to speak) for he is said to feed amongst the Lilies, Chap. 2. 16. and so it sayes, that the believer loves to feed in Christ's company, and where he is. And, 2. That this makes believers breasts run to others, when they are much with him, and in his company. 2. As it respects believers, who are called Lilies, Chap. 2. 16. and, 6. 2. And so it sayes, 1. That all believers have one pasture, they feed together as a flock doth. 2. That one believer loves and delights in the company of another, they are the excellent and the lilies of the earth, their delight is with them. And, 3. That this helps a be­lievers growth, and fits him to be usefull for others edification, and to improve well the spiritual fellowship of other believers. 3. As it respects Christ himself, who is called a lilie, Chap. 2. 1. and his lips are said to be like lilies droping, &c. Chap. 5. 13. Whereby is holden out, his Word, Promises, Ordinances, &c. And so it sayes, 1. That Christ and his word is the great and main [...]ood, upon which believers [...]eed, that is their proper pasture; to be much drinking-in the sincere milk of the word is their meat and drink. 2. That much acquaintance with Christ in the word, inables one for being very useful to others. In sum, it sayes, 1. That a believer is no bare novice, but hath breasts that yeelds milk and nourishment to others. 2. That a believer hath a good pasture to feed on. 3. That believers breasts run to others, ac­cording as they feed themselves; If they hunger themselves, o­thers will not be edified by them; if they feed on wind and em­pty notions themselves, it will be no healthful food that others [Page 215] will receive from them. 4. That it's a pleasant thing and accep­table to Christ, when a believer so communicats what he hath re­ceived to others, as he is still feeding on Christ himself, and not living on the stock he hath already received.

Vers. 6.‘Vntil the day break, and the sha­dows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of Myrrhe, and to the hill of Frankincense.’

The words in this [...]ixth verse, expresse the second way, how Christ evidenceth his respect to his Bride; he is so affected with her beauty, that he tels her, he cannot but haunt her company, and answer her prayers. For, comparing this verse with vers. 17. chap. 2. we find it a clear answer of her petition she puts up there. The words contain, 1. A promise. 2. A term set to the performance of it, shewing the continuance of his performance. The promise is, I will get me to the mountain of Myrrhe, and to the hill of Frank­incense: By this in general, [...] understood no withdrawing of Christ's, or shutting of himself up in heaven from her; for, that will not agree to the scope, which is to shew how he loves her, and comforts her; nor will that be an answer of her prayer, but the contrary: It must then hold forth some comfortable act of Christ's, evidencing his respect to her for her consolation; which we conceive to be a promise of his presence with her to the end of the world. By mountain is often und [...]stood the Church (as Isa. 2. 1. and Mic. 4. 1.) called so for her endurance and stability; for typifying of which, the Temple was built on mount Mor [...]ah. And it's called a mountain of Myrrhe, and hill of Frankincense, to difference this one mountain (which is in the singular) from the mountains, or excellencies in the world, after mentioned, vers. 8. which are many: It's a sweet mountain, not of Leopards, but of Myrrhe and Frankincense; these were spices much used in [...]he ceremonial services, Exo [...]. 30, 23. 24. and signified the precious­nesse, [Page 216] and savourinesse of the graces of Gods people, and of their prayers, Psal. 141. 2. Let my prayer be set forth before thee as in­cense, &c. Here then is understood that place of the world (namely the Church) where the graces of Gods people flow, and their prayers (as acceptable sacrifices) are put up to him; And so it answers the scope, and is opposed to the mountains of the world, mentioned in the eighth verse. The Church is called the mountain of Myrrhe, and hill of Frankincense, 1. Because it's the place, where the graces signified by these are to be found: It's only in Believers they do abound. 2. Because there they a­bound in prayers and praises, which ascend before him, as incense from an high place. 3. Because he accepts so kindly of their du­ties, that they are pleasant to him, and he delights to rest amongst them beyond all other places, as being a mountain of Myrrhe; In which respect, the house of God is called the house of prayer, because of the exercise of that duty frequently performed there.

The second thing is the term he sets to the performance of this promise, in these words, untill the day break, and the shadows flee away: I will get me (saith he) to the mountain of Myrrhe, till that day; The sense is, amongst all places of the world, the Church is the place in which I will choose to reside, and with believers a­bounding in the exercise of grace and prayer; they shall not want my presence, for there will I abide, untill the everlasting day of immediat fellowship with them break up: And so this makes for the Brides comfort, thou mayst my spouse (saith he) expect my company, and the acceptation of thy prayers (which are as incense to me) untill that day come, as thou desired: Where we may see, (beside what was spoken upon this expression, chap. 2. 17.) 1. That Christ conforms his answers to our suits, and makes the one as extensive as the other; the term she proposed, is that he accepts of. 2. His hearing of one prayer, gives ground to his peo­ple to expect that he will hear all their prayers, and so he is called the hearer of prayer indefinitly, Psal. 65. 2. and this is the reason why he sayes not, he will turn to her: (which would look to that one prayer, Chap. 2. 17.) but he saith, he will get him to the hill of Frankincense, which looks to all her prayers, and so his answer is more extensive, than the particular sought; which shews, [Page 217] 3. That as Christ will not mince his answers to believers, and make them lesse than their prayers, so he will often inlarge them, and make them more extensive than their prayers.

Next, from this that he gives believers such a name, as the hill of Franckincense, which is in a special way, with respect to their prayers, Obs. 1. That believers ought to be very frequent in prayer, like an hill that abounds in incense. 2. That Christ's pre­sence is ever to be found, where these spiritual sacrifices of pray­ers and praises abound: For, where ever he hath an Altar built to himself, and records his Name, there he will come and blesse his people, Exod. 20. 24.

Again, that [...]e sets down this by way of promise, it gives us ground to observe, 1. That even our sense of Christ's presence, is in, and by a promise; and it's the promise thereof that should comfort and satisfie the believer, even when sense is removed, and is not for the time injoyed, as Ioh. 14. 21, 23. 2. Christ limits himself to no other term-day, for continuing of the fulfilling, and performing of his promises, than that very time when believers shall be entered into the possession of what is promised; for, I will grant thy desire (saith he) untill the day break, &c. that is, un [...]ill t [...]e great day come, I will keep this course with believers. 3. Christ's promise of coming, and his making that sure, is one of the greatest evidences of love which he can bestow on his people. 4. There is no society or place (to speak so) but the Church, nor any person in the Church, but such as abound in spiritual sacrifices, who have a promise of Christ's presence. 5. Christ would have the thoughts of eternal life, and of immediat injoying of himself, entertained in his Bride, and would have her confirmed in the faith of it; and therefore is there here a particular repetition of the term which had been mentioned, Chap. 2. 17. 6. He would by this repetition also expresse, that (some way) he longs for that day of the consummation of the marriage, as well as she doth, and that he would gladly have all shadows gone betwixt him and her; which serves much to confirm her in the faith of it, and com­fort her till it come.

Vers. 7.‘Thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee.’

This verse contains the last piece of the commendation which Christ gives to his Bride, and it is the scope of all; whereby, ha­ving spoken of some particular parts, he now sums up all in a ge­neral, 1. Positively exprest, Thou art all fair, my love. Then, 2. Negatively, There is no spot in thee. The reason why, thus in a general, he closes up her commendation, is to shew that his for­bearing the enumeration of the rest of her parts, [...]s not because of any defect that was in her, or that his touching of some parti­culars was to commend these parts only, but to shew this in ge­neral that all of her parts, as well not named as named were love­ly. This universal commendation is not to be understood in a popish sense, as if she had had no sin; for, that will not agree with other expresse Scriptures, nor with this Song, where she records her own faults, as Chap. 1. 6. and 3. 1. and 5. 2, 3. And also this commendation agrees to all believers, who yet [...]cknow­ledged by themselves not to be perfect. Neither is it to be taken in an Antinomian sense, as if their sins and failings were no [...] sins to them, and did not pollute them; for, 1. That is not consist­ent with the nature of sin. Nor, 2. With the Brides regrates and confessions in this Song; Nor, 3. With the present scope, which is to shew the Brides beauty: And he doth thus highly commend her beauty, not because her sins were not sins in her, as they were in others, but because her graces were more lovely, which were not to be found in others: Hence the particular parts of the new creature, or inherent holinesse, are insisted on for proof of this; Further, this commendation did agree to believers before Christ came in the flesh; And this love-assertion, thou art all fair, holds true of the Bride, in these four respects, 1. In respect of Justification and absolution she is clean, though needing washing in other respects, Ioh. 13. Ye are clean by the word that I have [...], yet they needed to have their [...]eet washen. Thus a belie­ver is in a justified state, and legally clean and fair, so as there is [Page 219] no sin imputed to him, or to be found in him to condemn him, because the Lord hath pardoned them, Ier. 50. 20. 2. It's true in respect of Sanctification and inherent holinesse, they are all fair, that is, they are wholly renewed, there is no part but it is beau­tiful in respect of God's grace (though in degree it be not per­fect.) Thus where grace is true, it's extended through the whole man, and makes an universal change. 3. It's true in respect of Christ's acceptation; and so where there is sincerity in the man­ner, he over-looks and passeth by many spots▪ thus thou art all fair, that is, in my account thou art so, I reckon not thy spots, but esteem of thee as if thou had no spot: Christ is no severe inter­preter of his peoples actions; and where there is honesty, and no spots inconsistent with the state of children, Deut. 32. 2. he will reckon of them, as if there were none at all. 4. It's true of Christ's Bride that she is all fair, in respect of Christ's design, He will make her at last without spot, or wrinkle or any such thing, Eph. 5. 25, &c. And because of the certainty of it, it's applyed to her now, as being already entered in the possession thereof in her Head, in whom she is set in heavenly-places. Hence we may see, 1. The honest believer ere all be done, will be made fully fair and without spot. 2. Christ often expounds an honest believer, from his [...] of heart-purpose and design; in which respect they get many titles, otherwise unsuitable to their present condition; and believers themselves may someway reckon so also. If all were put together, it were a great matter for a believer to conceive and apprehend these words as spoken to him in particular from Christ's mouth, thou, even thou art fair: And without this, they will want their lustre, for certainly Christ speaks so upon the matter to some, and he allowes that they should believe that he speaks so unto them.

Vers. 8.‘Come with me from Lebanon (my Spouse) with me from Lebanon: Look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir, and Hermon, from the Lions dens; from the mountains of the Leopards.’

From this 8. vers. to vers. 16. follows a second way how the Bridegroom manifests his love to his Bride, in other three steps, 1. He gives her a kind invitation and call, vers. 8. 2. He shew­eth her how he was taken with her love, and in a manner could not want the injoyment thereof, vers. 9, 10. 3. Upon this oc­casion, he proceeds to a new commendation of her: And all of these are wonderful, being considered as spoken by him.

The invitation, in this 8. vers. beside the title [...] gives her (which we take in as a motive) hath three parts. 1. The state wherein the Bride was, is set down; and this is contained in the term from which she is called. 2. The duty laid o [...] included in the term to which she is called. 3. The motives pre [...]g and per­swading her to give obedience thereto.

First, The term from which she is called, gets diverse names, 1. Lebanon. 2. Amana. 3. Shenir and Hermon. 4. The Lions dens and mountains of Leopards, which are added for explication of the former. Lebanon is a [...]ill often mentioned in Scripture, excellent for beauty, and therefore Christ's countenance is com­pared (Chap. 5. 5.) to it: Moses desired to see the goodly Leba­non, Deut. 3. 25. It was profitable for Cedar-wood, and sweet in smell by the flowers that grew on it, vers. 11. and Hos. 14. 6. It was on the north-side of Canaan, a stately place, Isa. 35. 1. There­fore Solomon built his dwelling for pleasure there in the forrest of Lebanon, as some conceive, though others think it was built at Ierusalem, and gets the name of the forrest of Lebanon, for the pleasantnesse thereof. As for Amana, we read not of it, except it [Page 221] be that which is mentioned, 2 King. 5. 12. called Abana, but on the margent Amana; It's like that river there spoken of, flowed from it, which being pleasant and stately, is preferred by Naaman to Iordan, in which the Prophet appointed him to wash. Next, Shenir and Hermon, were two hills (or two tops of one hill) men­tioned, Deut. 3. 9. beyond Iordan, pleasant and fertile, and from which they might see the land of Canaan before they crossed Ior­dan; and which were conquered from Og King of Bashan. The tops also of these are mentioned, to shew their height, and she is here supposed to be on the top of them. Lastly, it's added, from the Lions dens, from the mountains of Leopards, not designing any new place, but shewing that Lions and Leopards o [...]ten used upon hills, and it's like upon these, notwithstanding all their beauty: there­fore mountains, are called mountains of prey, Psal. 76. 4. because wilde beasts that used to make prey, o [...]ten lurked in them. There is somewhat, Hab. 2. 17. that confirmes this, where the violence of Lebanon, and the spoil of beasts, is mentioned, supposing that there, beasts used violently to spoil.

By these mountains here, we conceive are understood the most excellent, eminent and choice satisfactions that are to be found amongst the creatures, wherein the men of the world delight, who are often compared to ravenous beasts: and the reason is, it's something that is conceived to be excellent, that is here im­plyed by the description, yet such as hath no true excellency in it; therefore the Bride is called from it, and commanded to look o­ver it, even at it's height, and to leave it to the men of the world, whose portion properly these heights and excellencies are, for they have not another to enjoy or look after. By Lions and Leo­pards, we understand covetous, worldly men, who pursue the world to the destruction of themselves and others; So they are often called in Scripture, as Psal. 57. 4, &c. 1. For their devou­ring, insatiable nature, that can never have enough, but use al­wayes to prey on others. 2. For their unreasonable, brutish na­ture, being in their way like bruit-beasts, rather than men, Psal. 49. ult. 3. For their malicious nature, that are alwayes hurting the godly that are amongst them. Again, these heights and excel­lencies of the world, are called the dens and mountains of these [Page 222] beasts, 1. Because often ungodly men have the greatest share of those, and have no more to claim unto; their portion is in this life, Psal. 17. penult. 2. Because they rest in them, and seek af­ter no more, as Lions do in their dens. These mountains then are the excellencies of the creatures; for the injoyment of which men often use great violence, therefore they are called, Psal. 76. 5. mountains of prey, as having such beasts, as cruel men lurking in them, above which God (who is the portion of his people) is there said to be far more excellent; and thus these mountains here are opposed to the mountain of Myrrhe, vers. 6. where Christ hath his residence. Next, the Church, (whose state and case is suppo­sed to be the same naturally with the men of the world) is called from this her natural state, and from the remainders of such a frame, in two words, 1. Come, quite it, saith he, and come with me, which is the same with that command, Chap. 2. 10. Rise up and come away, implying the exercising of saith in him, and the delighting of her self in communion with him (as the Spouse should do with her Husband) and a withdrawing from these crea­ted concernments, wherein men of the world sought their happi­nesse. The second word is, look from the top of these, which word sets out faith also, so Isa. 45. 19. Look unto me, &c. and looking from these, signifieth her elevating and lifting of her affections higher than the highest excellencies of the earth, even towards heaven and the injoyment of Christ, Col. 3. 1, 2. And so it saith, she is not to look to what is present, but to what is not seen, and coming, which is by faith only to be discerned and apprehen­ded: And this is to be done, by looking over the tops of the highest of created excellencies. Now this word being added to the former, doth shew, that when they cannot come, they are to look; and that their looks are not to be fixed on created things, as their objects, but must ascend higher, as the Israelites from these mountains, Hermon and Shenir, beheld Canaan, with desire to be there,

Obs. 1. The world hath it's own taking excellencies, it's heights and mountains, whereby it looks very pleasant to many. 2. The most beautiful created excellency hath a palpable defect in it, the most pleasant hill hath a wilde Lion lodging in it, that marrs [Page 223] all the satisfaction that can be found there to a believer; and God hath wisely so ordered, that every gourd to them hath a worm at it's root. 3. O [...]ten the men of the world are much ta­ken with these created excellencies, they love to live in them, and dwell in them, as beasts in their dens, and know no higher design to drive, then their satisfaction in created excellencies: Yea, 4. Belie­vers are in hazard to fall in this sin, when things go well with them in the world, they are ready to sit down there; Therefore are they here called upon, that this hazard may be prevented. 5. Ad­dictednesse to the world, when men excessively pursue after ei­ther it's gain, honour, applause, or pleasure, transforms men into beasts, and makes them irrational, brutish and violent, forgetting what should be their main work and end. 6. O [...]ten violence to­wards others, and oppression with much cruelty, is the fruit of ad­dictednesse to the things of the world: If he profit himself, such a man cares not whom he undo. 7. There is nothing more unrea­sonable, bitter and cruel, than a worldly Atheist, whose designs are only after things that are within time; they are Lions and Leo­pards. 8. Carnal men are often by their neighbour-hood to the Saints, exceeding troublesome, even as Lions in a mountain. 9. Addictednesse to the world, and a surfeit with it's content­ments, can hardly stand with fellowship with Christ, and is most unbecoming his Bride; therefore he calls her from it. 10. Be­lievers have, and ought to have a more high, noble and excellent design, than the greatest Conqueror that ever was in the world; The believer in this is beyond Alexander the Great, who desired moe created worlds, but he looks over from the highest top of all these, as undervaluing them, and longing to be at something else. 11. Believers should have their looks directed towards hea­ven, and their thoughts and affections (even before hand) should be fixed there, Col. 3. 1. Philip. 3. 20, 21. their face should be set that way. 12. It's faith that looks toward Christ, as coming, when he is for the time absent; and when believers cannot win to walk and move towards him, they may look to him; and sure, Christ who calls for this, will accept of it, till the other be attained. 13. Often in the most excellent parts of this world, such [...] Le [...] ­non, Hermon, &c. men are most cruel and carnal; and the Bride of [Page 224] Christ hath manyest enemies, and sewest friends. 14. The most excellent of created contentments, for profite, honour and plea­sure, should be denyed and forsaken when Christ calls. 15. There is nothing a believer would watch more against, (as that which marrs fellowship with Christ) than taking excessive contentment in created things. 16. Often a condition which abounds in worldly contentments and delights, is very scarce of Christ's company; therefore when he allowes her his presence, he calls her to leave them, in her affection at least.

3. Because he knows the world is most bewitching, and the af­fections of his Bride are not soon weaned from it (though this be most necessary) therefore three wayes he presseth her to deny her self in these, and follow him (which is the sum of the call,) 1. Saith he, thou art my Spouse, that is, my Bride: It's the same word which (Ier. 2. 32.) is translated Bride, Can a Bride forget her attire? This title is frequently given her in this Chapter, and vers. 1. Chap. 5. Importing, 1. A marriage-tye and relation be­twixt him and her. 2. Love in him, owning that relation, and claiming thereby an interest in her. 3. A duty in her to owne him as her Husband, and to forsake all her lovers, that she go not a-whoring after any other, as a wife should cleave to her husband: It's the same with what is pressed, Psal. 45. 10, &c. My Spouse (saith he) thou hast not thy portion in the world, therefore come away from it. 2. He presseth it from the advantage of his own company, which she should enjoy upon her obeying his call: Come with me (saith he) my Spouse, and this is repeated, come with me, that is, thou art mine, and I am thy Husband, wilt thou not then come with me, with me? This is a weighty argument, and none will prevail, if this do not; Christ's company should have more weight, and be of more force to ingage a believer to Christ, than all the pleasantnesse of the world can have to divert them: He is more excellent be far than the mountains of prey, Psal. 76. 4. there­fore is his company to be preferred to them all. 3. He presseth it, from the heartless condition which she could not but have in the most excellent things in the world without Christ, they were but dens of Lions, not for her to stay with, nor yet any way agree­ing with her state and case. Hence observe, 1. When Christ and [Page 225] the most excellent things in the world are opposed, there will be great odds, and a vast difference seen betwixt them. 2. All the defects that abound in created excellencies, should necessitatethe believer to take himself to Christ; there is no satisfaction for him till he come there. 3. Men have no great losse that loose their affections from the world, and set them on Christ; It's but lea­ving the dens of Lions, &c. and coming to him, who is more ex­cellent then all the mountains of prey.

We may also read these words, by way of promise, Thou shall come with me: And the scope will not be against this, it being no lesse an evidence of Christ's love, and no lesse comfortable to the Church, to have his promise, than to have his call; and all his calls having promises implyed in them, both will well agree. And so that which is set down by way of precept, Rom. 6. 12. Let not sin reign in your mortal body, is set down by way of promise, vers. 14. of that Chapter, Sin shall not have dominion over you.

Vers. 9.‘Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse: thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.’
Vers. 10.‘How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love then Wine! and the smell of thine Ointments, then all Spices!’

Although what Christ hath spoken in the former verse be won­derful, yet these expressions, vers. 9, 10. being spoken by Jesus Christ to a poor sinful creature, passeth admiration: They may be looked on as the reason of his former call and promise, he thus seriously invites her to come to him, because he cannot want her [Page 226] company; for, his heart is ravished with her. The scope in both verses is the same, but is more clearly exprest, vers. 10. Not so much setting forth the Churches loveliness (though that is not to be excluded) as his loving kindnesse, who is admirably affected to­wards her, as every word in matter and manner of both, shews. In them consider, 1. The titles given her, which are the same in both verses. 2. What is asserted, and that is, that his heart is ravished. 3. The manner how this is expressed, in a sort of holy passion, doubling the expression. 4. Wherewith it is his heart is so ravished, it's (saith he) with one of thine eyes, &c. In the end of the 9. vers. and more fully amplified, vers. 10.

The titles are two; one of them, namely that she is his Spouse, hath been spoken of; but his repeating of it, shews a kind of glo­rying in it, as being very much delighted therewith. The other title, my sister, is added, and it doth import these five things, 1. A condescending upon Christ's part to be thus joyned in kind­red to the believer, and so it takes in his incarnation, whereby he was made in all things like to his brethren, Heb. 2. 17. Our blessed Lord Jesus is man, believers are his brethren and sisters, they are bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh; and for his Brides consolation this is asserted. 2. A priviledge whereto she is ad­vanced upon her part, and that is, that by Adoption believers are become sons and daughters to the Lord God Almighty, not only friends but children, and so heirs and joynt-heirs with Jesus Christ, Rom. 8. So as now they are his brethren and sisters, which is an unspeakable advancement. 3. It imports a change of nature, as well as of state in believers, so that they partake of the divine na­ture and Spirit with Christ Jesus, as it is, Heb. 2. 11. He that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified, are of one; which is a spe­cial ground of his sibnesse and kindred to believers, not common to others, but special to them, and founded on their sanctifica­tion. 4. It implyes sympathy, friendlinesse, and a kindly esteem in him, that takes her up, and speaks of her, and to her, in all the most sweet relations of mother, sister, spouse, &c. Matth. 12. ult. 5. It shews, his owning of all these relations, he is not ashamed to call believers, sisters and brethren, Heb. 2. 11. Obs. 1. There are many wonderful, near and sweet relations betwixt Christ and [Page 227] the believer. 2. Christ is the most faithful owner of them, and is in a most friendly way forth-coming to them, according to them all.

2. The thing asserted here, is, Thou hast ravished my heart: The word in the first language is one, and it signifieth, Thou hast hearted me, or so to speak, Thou hast unhearted me: It's no where else in Scripture, but here; Christ's unspeakable love, as it were, coins new words to discover it self by, it's so unexpressible: The word is borrowed from the passionatnesse of love, when it siezes deeply on a man, it leaves him not master of his own heart, but the object loved hath it, and (as it were) possesseth it, and commands it more than the man himself; so the Gospel saith, where a mans treasure is, (that is, the thing a man esteems most of) there (as it were) his heart is, and not in the party that loves, Mat. 6. 21. So the common phrase is, such a man hath my heart, when he is dearly beloved; and thus in a subtile way, Absolom is said to have stollen away the hearts of the people from his father. It's in sum, my spouse thou hast my heart, thou hast won it, and as it were by violence taken it away, I am not master of it, I cannot but love thee.

It's hard to draw observations, that may suitably expresse the thing here spoken of; only we may hint at these things. 1. Love in Christ to a believer, hath strong and wonderful effects on him, in reference to them. 2. The believer hath Christ's heart, he hath a seat in his affection, he possesseth his love (for no other thing hath his heart) and he may promise himself from Christ, wh [...] ­ever he can desire for his good, even as if he had his heart under his command; for (so to speak) he can refuse believers nothing, which they seek, and which he knows to be for their good. 3. Love in Christ to a believer, it's at a height, or, it's a love of the high­est degree: There is no greater intensnesse thereof imaginable; for, to have the heart ravished, is the expression of the greatest love.

3. The manner how he expresseth this, is by doubling the ex­pression, Thou hast ravished my heart, thou hast ravished my heart: And this is to shew, that this word [...]ell not rashly from him, but was drawn out by the vehemency of affection in him. 2. That [Page 228] he allowes believers to believe this great love and affection he hath to them, and would have them dwelling on the believing thoughts of it; and therfore, he doubles the expression while he intimats his love unto them: Only remember there are no dis­orderly passions in Christ, as in us; yet, that there is sympathy and love in him, and passionat effects of love from him, can­not be denyed.

The fourth thing is, wherewith it is his heart is so ravished: It may be thought to be some great thing that thus prevails over Christ: Now what it is, is set down in two expressions, which are joyned to the former, to make this love of his the more won­derful; that which was conquered, or ravished, was his heart; that which doth it, is her eye, the eye or look of a poor sinful creature, even of such a person, as may be despised in the world, and like Lazarus full of sores, and not admitted to mens compa­ny. 2. It's not with both her eyes, but (saith he) with one of thy eyes, that is (as it were) with a squint-look; a side-look of the Bride prevailed thus with him. One eye is not here mentioned, as preferring the beauty of one of her eyes to the other; but to shew what excellent beauty is in her, and much more what infi­nit love is in him, that he could not (because he would not) re­sist a look of one of her eyes cast toward him. We shew what is understood by eyes, vers. 1. and it's explicat in the following verse, to hold forth love especially here (lovers using to signifie affecti­on by their eyes) yet it takes in knowledge, as being presuppo­sed; and faith as going alongst. The second expression is, with one chain of thy neck: These chains were spoken of, Chap. 1. 10. Whereby we shew was signified her inherent holinesse, with im­puted righteousnesse, which by faith she possessed; and so here also it signifies her graces, especially her exercising faith on him, for so the neck was expounded, vers. 9. to be understood of faith, which joineth the believer to Christ as his head: And it is said to have chains, because it never wants excellent fruits, where­with it is adorned, when it is exercised. One chain is spoken of, not as if she had not had moe, or as if he did not respect them all, but to hold forth this, that one of her chains (as it were) did overcome him; and so it may be gathered, what will both eyes [Page 229] do, and moe chains, when one so prevails. The scope then here doth shew, 1. That Christ is easily prevailed with by his people, O how easily is he overcome by them, who have love to him, and faith in him! 2. That Christ stands not on the degree of his peoples graces, nor doth he suspend his love and acceptation of a person, upon such or such a degree; but where ever reality and sincerity are, if it were in the meanest degree, and but one look, or one chain, he will yield to it, and accept of it. 3. It's to pro­voke and incourage believers to cast a look to Christ, when they find their faith to be so weak that they can do no more; and to confirm them in the expectation of good from him freely, with­out any rigid reckoning: It's not only the strong believer, and the strong acts of faith and love, that prevail with Christ, but he condescends to be overcome, even by the weakest, with whom the sincerity of these graces is to be found.

This is further followed and explicat, vers. 10. and that two wayes, 1. By an indefinite question, How fair is thy love! 2. By two comparative questions, whereby in two similitudes, her love is preferred to the most excellent things, How much better, &c. The thing commended, is her love, that is, the love wherewith she loves him, wherewith her heart breathes after him, delights in him, esteems of him, and is zealous to please him, &c. The com­mendation he gives her love, is, that it is fair. And by the way we may observe, that this clearly shews, that by all the former parts of her beauty, are understood spiritual graces: Now (saith he) thy love is fair, that is, it's lovely and acceptable to me: as beauty and fairnesse are much esteemed amongst men: So this grace of love is a beautiful thing in Christ's Bride. The manner of the expression is by way of question, and admiration, How fair! I can get nothing (saith he) to compare it with: a wonder, that Christ should be so taken with the love of sinners, as to admire it, or think that their love exceeds all expression; for, so men use to expresse what they cannot expresse: But this doth indeed shew, that the heighth and depth and length and breadth of that love, which Christ hath to believing sinners, passeth all knowledge, and is beyond all words. Obs. 1. That a believer is one that loves Christ, and true faith hath alwayes this grace of love joyn­ed [Page 230] to it. 2. That love where it is sincere and true, is a proper­ty of Christ's Bride and Spouse; there are no other in the world who love him, but these who are espoused to him. 3. Where love to Christ is, there Christ loves; he cannot but love them, that love him; and there is nothing more acceptable to him, than the faith that is working by love. 4. Our Lord Jesus takes special notice of the frame of the heart, and what seat he hath in the af­fections of his people; he layes more weight on their love, than on their work, though true love can never be without works.

The second way how he explains and illustrates this, is more par­ticular, by two comparisons, yet keeping still the former manner of expression, by way of question and admiration: The first is, how much better is thy love then Wine! Wine may be looked on in two respects, 1. As it's useful in mans life, and refreshful, Psal. 104. 15. It maketh glad the heart of man, and Eccl. 10 19. It mak­eth the heart merry: Wine is one of the most comfortable crea­tures, therefore she calls his love better then Wine, Chap. 1. 2. Thus observe, 1. Christ will not be behind with his people, neither in kindnesse nor in the expressions of it; for, this is beyond hers, Chap. 1. 2. Not that he hath a better object to love, but because the love wherewith he loves her, is like himself, and more excel­lent then hers. 2. There is no such refreshful thing in all the work of creation of Christ, no such feast, as the warming of a sin­ners heart with love to him is: This (Luk. 7. 47.) is thought more of by Christ in a poor woman, than all the great feast he was invited unto by the rich Pharisee.

Again, we may look on Wine as used in the ceremonial servi­ces and drink-offerings, Levit. 23. 13, &c. Thus the meaning is, thy love is preferable to all outward performances and sacrifices, as Hos. 6. 7. Love being the principle within, from which all our performances should flow, it is not opposed to sacrifice simply, or to obedience; but, 1. Supposing these to be separate, he pre­fers love; if it were to cast in but a mite of duty out of love, it will be more acceptable than the greatest bulk of duties without love, as is clear in the case of the widow, Luk. 21. Yea, if men would give their bodies to be burnt, without this, 1 Cor. 13. 3. it will avail nothing. 2. It saith, that where both the inward prin­ciple, [Page 231] and the outward fruit or work are, the Lord respects that more than this, and he respects this in a manner but for that.

The second comparison is to the same purpose in these words, and the smell of thine Ointments then all spices! Ointments typi­fied the graces of the Spirit, the pouring out whereof, is called, the unction, Joh. 2. 20. and the oil of joy, Psal. 45. 7. The smell thereof signifieth the acceptablenesse of these graces, when in ex­ercise; our Lord Jesus finds a sweet [...]avour in them, as ointments cast a smell that is refreshful to men (as was said upon Chap. 3. 6.) the grace of love mentioned before is here included; but under Ointments there is more comprehended, to shew, 1. That where one grace is, there are all the rest of the graces of the Spirit to be found. 2. That love to Christ, and zeal for him, holds believers stirring, and makes them send forth a sweet and savory smell. This smell is preferred to all Spices, not to one or two, but to all: Spices were either used as gifts, because they were precious and costly; So the Queen of Sheba propined Solomon with them, 2 King. 10. 2. and the wise men offered such to Christ, Mat. 2. 11. And so it saith, there is no such propine can be offered to Christ, as love, and the graces of his Spirit, when they are in exercise. Again, spices were used in the Levitical services, and holy Oil, Exod. 30. 23, 24. and so they are to be considered as Wine was in the last sense formerly spoken of, and it shews how preferable the inward exercise of grace, is to all external duties. Lastly, they are not only prefered, while he saith, thy love is better, &c. but as passing comparison, they are extolled far above all these things with which they are compared, How fair, or how much better is thy love then Wine! &c. O my Spouse (saith he) it's not to be wondered that thy love ravishes my heart; for, there is no crea­ted thing so precious, nor any external service so acceptable to me, as it is. Hence observe, 1. That inward love, or the inward exercise of grace, and outward performances are separable. 2 That when outward performances are separate from the in­ward exercise of love and other graces, the Lord respects them not. 3. That love is a good and necessary principle of all due­ties, and especially of the duties of worship. 4. These who have any thing of the lively exercise of love to Christ, want never a [Page 232] propine that will be acceptable to him; if it were but a mite, or a cup of cold-water, or a look to Christ, if love be the prin­ciple from which these flow, they will be very acceptable with him.

Vers. 11.‘Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honey-comb: honey and milk are under thy tongue, and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.’

Having thus expressed his affection to his Bride, he breaks forth in a positive commendation of her (which may be looked upon as the ground of the comparative commendation in the former verse) and he describes and commends her at once, these two wayes, 1. Touching, as it were, at some particulars (which are indeed generals) wherein her lovelinesse appears in actual fruits, vers. 11. 2. In seven comparisons he holds forth her fruitfulnesse from the 12. to the 16. vers. wherein he not only commends her by the fruits which she brings forth, but from her fitnesse or ap­titude to bring forth these fruits, so that she cannot but be fruit­full; As if one commending an Orchard from the fruit, Apples, Pomegranates, &c. or whatever other fruits are in Orchards, should then fall upon the commendation of the Orchard it self in it's situation, fences, waters, or kinds of the plants, &c. So is it here. And this last commendation, is to be looked upon as the cause of the former.

In this 11 [...] vers. there are three particulars commended: un­der which we conceive much of the series of a believers walk is understood. The 1. Is her lips: which are commended from this, that they drop as the honey comb: By lips, as vers. 3. and frequently in the Song (and so in the Proverbs, a man of lips is taken for a man of talk) is understood her speech, words or dis­course, especially to others. These her words, (or her speech) are compared for the matter, to honey or the honey comb, that is [Page 233] sweet, nourishing, healthful and pleasant; as Prov. 16. 24. Plea­sant words are as the honey-comb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones: And by honey in Scripture, is often understood that which is excellent, and useful for the life of man: And therefore it was a property of Canaan, that it flowed with milk and honey, which are put together in the following piece of her commendation. 2. Her speech or words, are commended from the manner or qua­lification of them, They drop as the honey-comb, &c. Droping words signifie, 1. Seasonable words, which are like dew, drop­ing for the edification of others, as dew by it's droping makes the fields fruitful. 2. Prudence and moderation in discourse, and so droping is opposed to floods, that with violence overflow. 3. [...]his phrase [...]ignifieth a continuance in seasonable, prudent and edifying discourse, as Iob, 27. 22. My words droped on them, and Deut. 31. 2. My doctrine shall drop as the rain: Thus the lips of the wise feed many, Prov. 10. 21. Obs. 1. A believers words tend to edification, and are for the true benefite and advantage of others. 2. Every subject is not the matter of their discourse; but, as the honey, it's excellent and choice, and that which mi­nistreth grace to the hearers. 3. Mens words give a great proof of what is in them; and when rightly ordered, they are a good evi­dence of their love and respect to Christ. 4. A well ordered tongue is a most commendable thing before Christ, and every word that proceeds from the mouth, is observed by him. 5. Christ's spouse should be observably different, as to her words and discourse, from all others. Thy lips, O my spouse (saith he) drop as the honey-comb: Implying, that whatever be the way of others, it becomes the spouse of Christ, to have her words sea­sonable, savoury and edifying.

The second thing here commended, reacheth more inwardly, and it is in these words, honey and milk are under thy tongue: There will be sometimes smooth words as butter, when there is much venome within; it's not so with Christ's Bride. By under the tongue, which is the part commended, we understand the heart or inward-man, as it's distinguished from the bare expression of the tongue or words, which are only spoken (as we say) from the [...]eth forward: So, Psal. 66. 17. He was exalted under my tongue, [Page 234] (as it's in the Original) is expounded in the following verse, by heart-regarding: There was an agreement betwixt his words and his heatt, without which God would not have accepted his words. And seing when it's said of the wicked, that mischief and vanity are under their tongue, Psa. 10. 7. Rom. 3. 13. whereby their de­ceitful rotten heart, and the venom that is within is signified; So here must be understood inward sincerity, and a good frame of heart within, as well as good words without. The commenda­tion is, that there are milk and honey under her tongue: It's almost the same with the former; As her words were edifying, so there was much edifying matter in her heart, or under her tongue, the honey-comb (as it were) was there, and it by words droped to others. Milk is added, because it's also sweet and nourishing. In a word, that which he here points at, is, that her inward con­stitution and frame is like a Canaan, flowing with milk and honey; so fertile and fruitful is Christ's Bride. Here, observe. 1. That Christ takes not only notice of words, but of what is under the words; the disposition and frame of the heart, and the thoughts thereof are observed by him. 2. There is a suitablenesse often betwixt the heart within, and the words without; when there is honey under the tongue, then the tongue cannot but drop; for, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 3. It's a most commendable thing in the believer, when the inner-man is right, in a lively and edifying frame, and when the heart is watched over, so that no thought enters in, or word goes forth, but what is edifying. 4. The heart would be furnished with edifying, profi­table purpose and thoughts, as well as the mouth with pertinent and useful words; and that is as the fountain, from which this must run and flow. 5. They will feed and edifie others best by their words, who feed best upon the most healthful subjects, and savoury thoughts themselves.

The third thing commended, is, the smell of her garments: Garments are that which covers our nakednesse, and are for de­corement externally put upon the body; sometimes by them is understood Christ's righteousnesse, whom we are said to put on, Gal. 3. 27. Sometimes our own inherent holinesse, which makes our way comely before others, and hides our nakednesse from them; [Page 235] So, Iob. 29. 19. saith, I put on righteousnesse, and it cloathed me. Now here it's to be taken especially in the last sense (though not only) as setting forth the outward adorning of her walk with holinesse; and this is the third part of her commendation, distinguished from the other two, which pointed at her words and thoughts. And so it's the practice of holinesse that is here commended, which is com­pared to garments, because good works are called the cloathing of such as professe godlinesse, 1 Tim. 2. 9. and 1. Pet. 3. 3, 4. The smell of them, is the savour and relish of these good works to o­thers, and also to him; even as it's said, that Iacob's garments did smell to his father (to which this may allude) so our holi­nesse being washen in the blood of the Lamb, is very savoury to him, and is also savoury to others; yea, the smell thereof is as the smell of Lebanon, which was an hill that abounded with trees and flowers, exceeding savoury and delightsome: whereas a cor­rupt conversation, is exceeding unsavoury, as rottennesse, and dead mens bones. In sum, this compleats believers commenda­tion, when their words are edifying, their heart answerable to their words in true sincerity, and their outward walk adorning to the Gospel, so as their natural nakednesse and pollution appears not in it. Obs. 1. Where there is true honesty within, it will appear in the fruits of holinesse without. 2. There is no garment or cloathing that can adorn or beautifie men, as holinesse doth a believer. 3. Though outward profession alone be not all, yet is it necessary for compleating the commendation of a believer. 4. Although good works be not the ground of our relation to Christ, but follows on it, and though it be not on the account of our works, that the Lord is pleased with us to justifie us; yet are the good works of a believer and of a justified person, when done in faith, acceptable to God, and an odour and sweet savour to him, Phil. 4. 18.

Vers. 12.‘A Garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse: a Spring shut up, a Fountain sealed.’

Having thus summed up her carriage in the former threefold commendation, now he proceeds both to describe and commend her, by a seven-fold comparison, wherein (to say so) the rhetorick of our Lords love abounds: Each of them may point out these three things, 1. They describe somewhat the nature of a believ­er, or Christ's Bride. 2. They evidence Christ's love and care, which he hath toward her. 3. They hold forth her duty in refe­rence to her self. We shall shortly explain them, as they re­late to this scope.

In this 12. verse, we have three of these comparisons, where­by she is described and commended. 1. She is compared to a garden inclosed: A garden is a plot of ground, separat from other places, for delight and recreation of the owner, having many flowers in it, and much pains taken on it: So believers are, 1. Set a-part by God beside all others in the world, and much pains is taken on them; The trees in Christ's garden are digged about and dunged, Luk. 13. 8. 2. They are his delight, being separat from others for his own use, with whom he dwells, in whom he takes pleasure, and amongst whom he feeds, Chap. 6. 2. 3. They are furnished with many excellent graces, fruits of the Spirit, which are planted in them as flowers in a garden, Gal. 5. 21. Next, this garden is inclosed: It's a special property of gardens to be so; To be inclosed, is by a wall or hedge to be fenced from the trampling and eating-up of beasts, and also from the hazard of winds: So, Isa. 5. 2. the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts (which is his Church) is said to be fenced, a wall is built about it, to defend it from the danger of beasts, and storms. And this sheweth, 1. His care of her, in watching over her, Isa. 27. 23. And, 2. Her watchfulnesse over her self, whereby she is not com­mon or accessible to every one; but as she is defended by his care, [Page 237] so also she hath a watch her self at the door of her lips, of her eyes, of her ears, &c. she is not like a city without walls, obnoxious to every assault and temptation, but hath a hedge of divine pro­tection, which is as a wall of fire about her to defend her; and also a guard of watchfulnesse and holy fear, in the exercise of which the believer hath rule over his own spirit, which (Prov. 25. 28.) is implyed to be as strong walls about a city.

The second similitude wherewith she is compared, is a spring shut up: Springs were of great price in these hot countries, and served much for making Gardens fruitful, as is implyed, Isa. 58. 11. where it's promised to the Church, thou shall be as a watered Garden: Hence the righteous is called, like a tree planted by the rivers of water, Psal. 1. 3. And on the contrary, the barren condition of his people is described, Isa. 1. 30. by the similitude of a Gar­den, that hath no water. In a word, she is not only a Garden, but a spring, that is furnished with moisture and water, for making her fruitful. More particularly, by this may be set out the graces of the Spirit, compared to waters, Joh. 7. 38, 39. and said to be­come a well of water in these that believe on Christ, Ioh. 4. 14. for, these graces of the Spirit, and his influence on them, doth keep all things in the believers souls case fresh and lively, as a spring doth make a Garden green and fruitful. Next, this spring is shut up, for so were springs in these countries, where they were rare, as we see by Iacobs rolling the stone away, Gen. 29. 8. And this kept the waters from being corrupted by the Sun, and also from being bemudded by beasts: This signifieth the preciousness of the graces and influences of the Spirit, wherewith believers are furnished. 2. Purenesse and clearnesse in them, as in waters that are not bemudded. 3. A care she hath to keep them pure from carnal passions, or fruits of her own spirit, that would bemudd all.

The third comparison is on the matter the same, but adds a further degree to the former; She is (saith he) a fountain sealed: A fountain may signify waters springing in greater aboundance; and sealing doth signify not only shuting up, but securing it by a seal, after it is shut up: So the den of Lions was sealed, after Da­niel was cast into it, Dan. 6. 17. And the stone was sealed, that was put on Christ's grave, that so it might not be opened by any, [Page 238] but by these that sealed it. And though there be other uses of sealing, yet we conceive that which is aimed at here is, 1. To shew the Church is not common, but well kept and sealed, so that none can trouble believers peace without Christ's leave, who hath sealed them by his Spirit to the day of Redemption, Eph. 4. 30, &c. 2. To shew Christ's particular right to the Church and her graces, and his owning of her and them, she bears his seal (as the 144000. Rev. 7. are sealed) there is none but himself, that hath accesse to these waters; her graces and fruits are all reserved for him, Chap. 7. 13. 3. It shews (to say so) her closenesse, and resolute watchfulnesse, so that there is no gaining upon her to bemudd her condition, without advertancy and observation, more than waters can be drawn from a sealed fountain, the seal not being broken: Like that phrase, Prov. 5. 15. Drink out of thine own cistern, let them be thine own, &c. She hath her own distinct fountain, from which shew draws influences, and that she preserves and secures to her self. 4. It shews a kind of sacrednesse in this fountain, so that nothing may meddle with it, more than that which is marked and separate by a seal. In sum, the first comparison shews, that Christ's Bride or the believer is to be fruitful. The second, what makes her fruitful, the spring of the Spirit. The third shews her care to keep it clear, and to have it running and flowing, that she may be fruitful.

Vers. 13.‘Thy plants are an Orchard of Pome­granates, with pleasant fruits, Cam­phire, with Spikenard.’
Vers. 14.‘Spikenard and Saffron, Calamus and Cinamon, with all trees of Frankin­cense, Myrrhe, and Aloes, with all the chief spices.’

The fourth comparison follows, vers. 13, 14. wherein she is compared to an Orchard (as before to a Garden) planted with [Page 239] diverse and excellent plants. Now, this includes these three things, which he adds to the former commendation, 1. That the belie­ver hath many graces, he is an Orchard that is planted with many trees and plantes. 2 That the believers graces, as they are many, so they are various; and therefore trees and spices of di­verse sorts are reckoned here. 3. That the believers graces are excellent for kind, as well as many for number and variety, they are as Spikenard, Saffron, &c. with all the chief spices. And as it commends an Orchard, to have many plants, and great variety, and to want none; so to have them of the best kinds, adds much to the commendation, when it's fruitful of these. Thus the be­liever is furnished with many various graces of the Spirit, as plants planted in his soul, and these of the best kind, rising from the most excellent seed that can be, the Spirit of Christ. And so the graces of believers are rare and precious, in respect of any thing that natural men have, which are but like shrubs in a dry wildernesse.

Besides these; we may further observe, 1. That to have fruit and aboundance of fruit, will not prove one to be a believer, ex­cept it be choice fruit which he brings forth. 2. Believers fruits, and the graces that are in them, differ from the most excellent parts and gifts that can be in natural men, or most refined hypo­crites. 3. It's excellent and commendable, when all the graces of the Spirit flow and increase together in the believer.

It's like, the Holy Ghost may here signify the effects and pro­perties of diverse graces, by these several spices and fruits; and it may be Solomon understood the particular signification of every one of them; for, having so great an insight in natural and spiri­tual things, it's like he did not conjecturally, but on knowledge, mention such spices and no others; but we must hold on the ge­neral: They are precious, physical, savory and delectable fruits, and so are the graces of the Spirit to one that hath them, to o­thers they converse with, and to Christ in respect of his accepta­tion; they are like an Orchard or Garden, that abounds with these: This is the scope, wherein we rest.

Vers. 15:‘A fountain of Gardens, a well of living-waters and streams from Lebanon.’

The fifth, sixth and seventh similitudes, are contained in this verse, wherein the Lord, following the same scope, further insists and explicats what manner of fountain this is, which makes the believer so fruitful. 1. She is a fountain of Garden: A fountain was spoken of, vers. 12. whereby is signified an inward principle (to say so) or spring, which from within sendeth forth and furni­sheth waters: Here she is called a fountain of Gardens, she was called a Garden, vers. 12. here a fountain of Gardens in the plural number. By this is holden forth, 1. The end of grace in a be­liever, it is given him not only for himself, but also for the use of others, as the gifts of the Spirit are given to every one to pro­fite withall, 1 Cor. 11. 7. 2. It shews that believers act and ex­ercise their graces for others edification, as a fountain that some­way is common for the use of moe Gardens, and so it points out what publick spirits they should have, intending the edification of all to whom they can conveniently communicat their gifts and graces. 3. It shews the aboundance of spirit and life (to say so) wherewith Christ's Bride is furnished, so as she may communicate for the admonishing, strengthning and edifying of others with her self, as it's, Rom. 15. 14. where believers are said to be full of goodnesse, filled with all knowledge, and able to admonish one another.

The sixth similitude is, A well of living waters: This is not only to difference her from a cistern, that hath water, but hath no spring in it, but also to shew the nature of the Spirit of grace in believers, it proves quickning and healing to these that have it: Both these are held forth, Ioh. 4. 14. He that drinks of this water shall never thirst, for it shall be in him a well of living-water, spring­ing up to eternal life. So is it also, Ioh. 7. 38, 39. where the Spi­rit of grace is, it will be springing; and grace will never dry up, where it is true.

The last similitude is, And streams from Lebanon: Which saith, that Christ's Bride is not only a fountain, but also she is a stream: [Page 241] and it holdeth forth, 1. That grace in her hath it's rise from a­nother, though it beget a spring in her, as if Lebanon sent a stream to a Garden, which did become a spring by it's constant flowing there. 2. By a stream also is set forth the aboundance of grace in believers, it is in them not as a brook, but as a stream.. Next, Lebanon was a hill much commended, it's like sweet streams issued from it: It's written, that Iordan which watered much of the land, had it's rise and spring there. In the 5. Chapter, vers. 15. Christ's countenance is compared to Lebanon, and so here, while the flowing of grace in her is called a stream from Lebanon, the derivation of grace, and of the Spirit from Christ Jesus is holden forth; which though it have a seat, and becomes a fountain in the believer, yet it hath it's rise from him, and is kept flowing and springing by him; It's as a fountain derived by a stream from Lebanon, and otherwise any spring of grace, that is in a believer would soon run dry. All these being put together, and compa­red with what is before, shew, 1. That the believer is fitted by Christ not only with spiritual life, and a stock of habitual graces, but also with every thing that may make him lively and fruitful in the exercise of these. 2. This contrivance of spiritual influ­ence that makes believers fruitful, is a most lovely and excellent thing. 3. The great commendation of believers is grounded upon the graces of the Spirit that are in them, and upon the in­fluences of the same Spirit that comes from Christ to them. 4. Where grace is, it will have fruits, and be savory in the con­versation, in the exercise thereof. 5. It's the best evidence of grace, and of Christ's influence and Spirit, when it appeareth in the fruits; These prove the believer to be an Orchard, and a fountain. 6. These graces that make a believer fruitful, have not their rise in, or from a believer, but from Christ, and the fountain that is in them, is but a stream that comes from him.


Vers. 16.‘Awake, O North-wind, and come, thou South, blow upon my Garden, that the spices thereof may flow out: let my beloved come into his Garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.’

Christ having now been large in commending the Bride, she steps to in this verse (as it were, taking the opportunity of his neernesse) and puts up her desires to him, briefly in two suits, which are grounded on the commendation that he gives her, and shews what is the great design that she aims at now when she hath Christ's ear; and she follows these suits so, as she acknowledgeth all her fruitfulnesse (for which she is commended) to flow from him, and to depend on him, who is therefore so much the more to be commended and extolled himself. In sum, the sense is this, Though I be a garden (saith she) and have good plants, habitu­ally in me, yet will they not bud nor flow, nor can they be fruit­full except the spirit (which is as the stream from Lebanon) blow to make them so: Therefore, O Spirit come, and let me partake of thy influences and breathings, that my beloved may have an invitation thereby, to come; and when come, may be intertain­ed upon his own fruits.

The first petition is, for livelinesse and fruitfulnesse: The se­cond is, for the beloved's presence, which is the end of the for­mer. And these two, life and sense, are (as it were) the air that kindly-believers love to breath into. That both these are the Brides words, may thus be collected, 1. Because they look prayer-like, and it's more suitable for her to say, come, than for him: yea, the Spirit being invited to come to the garden, it's clear the party that speaks hath need of his presence: And that it's not said, [Page 243] go, but come, with reference to the necessity of the party that speaks, doth make it evident, that it cannot be spoken by the Bride­groom, but by the Bride; for, so the phrase every where, and in the next words, Let my beloved come, Imports, 2. That the last part of the verse is her suit, none can deny; and there is no reason to conceive two different parties, seing both the matter of the suits, and the manner of speaking, will agree to the same party.

In the first petition, we may consider these two, 1. The thing sought. 2. The end wherefore that which she seeks and prayes for, is held forth, as it were, in three steps or degrees, in three expressions, awake, O north-wind, come thou south, blow upon my garden. For understanding whereof, we are to look, 1. What these winds signifie. 2. What this garden is. And, 3. What these act, of awaking, coming and blowing are. By winds often in Scripture is understood the Spirit of God in his mighty ope­rations, as Ezek. 37. 3. and 14. And the special work and opera­tion of the Spirit is compared to wind, 1. For it's purifying na­ture. 2. For it's cooling, com [...]orting, refreshing power and efficacy. 3. For it's fructifying vertue, winds being especially in these hot countries, both exceeding refreshful, and also useful to make trees and gardens fruitful. Lastly, for it's undiscernable manner of working, as, Ioh. 3. 6. the wind blows where it lists, &c. yet hath his operation real effects with it. And it's clear that the Spirit, is here intended, because it's the Spirit's blowing that only can make the spices or graces of a believer to flow, as the wind doth the seeds and flowers in a garden. Next, by north and south­wind, are understood the same Spirit, being conceived and taken up in respect of his diverse operations (as it's, 1 Cor. 12. 6, 7, 8. &c. and therefore called the seven spirits of God, Rev. 1. 4.) sometime cooling and in a sharper manner nipping, as the North­wind, sometimes working in his people more softly and warmly, and in a still and quiet manner like the South-wind; yet, as both winds are useful, for the purging and making fruitfull of a garden; so are the diverse operations of the Spirit, to the souls of be­lievers. In a word, hereby is understood, the different opera­tions of the Spirit, whether convincing and mortifying, or quick­ning [Page 244] and comforting, &c. Both which contribute to make her lively and fruitful, which is the scope of her petition.

2. By garden, is understood the believer, called a garden, vers. 12. and an orchard, vers. 13. because the believer doth a­bound in diverse graces, as a garden doth in many flowers. And she calls it my garden, as he calleth the plants her plants, that were planted there, vers. 13. and as she called the vineyard hers, Chap. 1. 6. and 8. 12. which also is his, vers. 11. as also this garden is called his in the following words, Chap. 6. 1. It's his by proprie­ty, as the heritor and puchaser; as also, all these graces in her are hers, as being the servant that hath the over-sight of them, and who hath gotten them as talents to trade with for the Ma­sters use. All that we have, viz. a soul, gifts, graces, &c. are given to us as talents, which we are to d [...]esse for bringing fo [...]th fruit to the owner, as the following words do clear.

3. The actings and workings of the Spirit, are held forth in three words, which are as so many branches of her petition. The first is, awake. This word is often used by God's people in dealing with him, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord, &c. Isa. 51. 9. It is not as if the Spirit were at any time sleeping, but she desires that by some effects, sensible to her, he would let it be known he is stirring. The second word, come, is to the same purpose: the Spirit considered in himself, cannot be said to come or go, being every where present; But this is to be understood, in re­spect of the effects of his presence, and so he is said to come and go: Thus while she saith, come, the meaning is, Let me find some sign of thy presence, quickning and stirring my graces. The last word is, blow upon my garden: Blowing holds forth the operation, whereby the Spirit produceth his effects in believers; It's not the Spirit himself, nor the fruits of the Spirit that are in believers, that are here understood, but the operation of the Spi­rit, whereby he influenceth, or (if we may so speak) infuseth them (as God breathed in Adam the breath of life) and where­by he stirrs, excits and quickens them for acting. The prayer then, is directed to the Spirit (as, Rev. 1. 14.) considering the Spirit essentially as the same God with the Father and Son, (in which respect, to pray by name to one person of the Godhead, is [Page 245] to pray to all the three, who in our worship are not to be divid­ed) that he would by his operations (which are diverse and va­rious for believers good) so stir and quicken his own graces in her, that seing she is a garden wherein the beloved takes pleasure, her graces for his satisfaction may be exercised, and made to savour, to the end that he may the more manifest himself in sweet com­munion with her.

Next, the end wherefore she presseth this suit so much, is, that her spices may flow out: In a word it is, that she might be fruitful; for, though there were many graces in her, yet, with­out the Spirit's breathings and influences, they would be as un­beaten spices, that did not send forth their smell.

Obs. 1. Although a believer have grace, yet it is not alwayes in exercise; yea, it may be, and often is interrupted in it's ex­ercise. 2. That the believers great desire is to be fruitful, and to have grace in exercise, that they may be delighted in by Christ; It's not only their desire to have grace habitually, but actually to have it in exercise. 3. There is nothing can make a believer lively and fruitful, but the influences of the Spirit: and that same Spirit that works grace, must quicken it and keep it in ex­ercise. 4. There may be an interruption of the influences of the Spirit, so as his blowing may in a great measure cease. 5. The same Spirit hath diverse operations, and diverse wayes of working and manifesting himself: sometimes as the South-wind, more smoothly; sometimes as the North-wind, more sharply. 6. All his operations, how rough soever some of them may appear, are alwayes useful to believers, and tend to make them fruitful: And to this end, the most sharp influences, contribute, as well as the more comfortable. 7. Believers would walk under the con­viction of their own inability to act their graces, and of the ne­cessity of the Spirit's influences, for drawing them forth to acting and exercise. 8. They who are thus sensible, may seek after the Spirit for that end: and it's a good frame in order to the ob­taining of life and quickning by the Spirit of Christ, when the sense of their own inability, their love of fruitfulnesse, and the faith of attaining it by his Spirit, puts them to seek after it. [Page 246] 9. Prayer is a necessary and excellent mean for stirring up one in a secure frame, and for attaining the Spirit to revive and quicken the work of his grace. 10. Believers may beg the Spirit to quicken them, when they find themselves lifelesse; as well as they may ask pardon, when they find themselves under guilt. 11. Believers will be, and should be as desirous of livelin [...]sse and fruitfulnesse, as of sense: yea, this is the order by which they must come, and should seek to come to the obtaining of sensible presence. 12. No commendation of any atainment in believers, nor any clearnesse of interest, should make them sit down on their attainments, or become negligent; but, on the contrary, should stir them up to aim at the more livelinesse and spiritualnesse, that they may be answerable to that interest they have in him, and to the commendation he allows upon them: For which cause, this petition follows immediatly upon the former commendation.

The second petition, which goes alongst with the former, is for the beloved's presence, Let my beloved (saith she) come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits: Her desire here, is two­fold, 1. That Christ would come: This doth respect a greater degree of neernesse, notwithstanding of any thing she injoyed. 2. That he would eat his pleasant fruits, that is, familiarly, and friendly delight in his own graces; and therefore it was she pray­ed for the influences of the spirit, that there might be abun­dance of fruits for his satisfaction. The way she presseth this pe­tition is very kindly, though the words be short. 1. She pres­seth it from the relation she had to him, Let my beloved (saith she) come: This makes her request and invitation warm and kindly. 2. From the kind of the fruits; they are pleasant fruits, that is, delectable in themselves, and acceptable to him. But, 3. Lest this should derogat from him, and arrogat to her self, she adds his pleasant fruits; they are his, and that makes them plea­sant, so that he cannot but accept them: they are his being pur­chased by him, wrought by him, keeped in life by him; though he hath made me the garden (saith she) wherein they grow (and the garden, as it hath weeds, is hers) yet all the good fruits, in so far as any of them are to be found in me, are his: In sum, all [Page 247] all my desire is this, 1. To be fruitful, Then, 2. To have Christ's company, shewing himself pleased and present with me. Obs. 1. Whatever believers have, they neither will, nor can rest upon it; nay, not in the most eminent measures of holinesse attainable here­away, without Christ's presence and company. 2. Fruitfulnesse and livelinessehelp and contribute much to the injoyment of Christ's manifestations, Ioh. 14. 21. 23. 3. Believers that aim seriously at the exercise of grace in themselves, may confidently invite Christ to come, and may expect his presence. 4. All believers fruits, even when quickned by the Spirit, are Christ's. 5. This would be acknowledged, and when we are most fruitful, we would look on our fruits, not as our own, but as his still. 6. Christ will seed or delight in nothing, but what is his own, and is acknowledged by his people to be so: And there can nothing, which he will accept of, be set before him but such. 7. Believers end and design in pursuing livelinesse and fruitfulnesse, is not, and ought not so much to be their own satisfaction, and the seeding of themselves, as the satisfaction of Christ, and the pleasing of him; for, that is his eating his pleasant fruits; which is the Brides great desire and design, when she calls for the North and South-wind, to blow upon her garden.



Vers. 1.‘I am come into my Garden, my sister, my spouse, I have gathered my Myrrhe, with my spice, I have eaten my honey­comb with my honey, I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O Friends, drink, yea, drink aboundantly, O Beloved.’

THis Chapter hath four parts, according to the parties that successivly speak. In the first part, vers. 1. Christ speaks: And that it is he who speaks, doth at the first reading appear, they are kindly words, well becoming him, and are the answer of her suit in the former words: And so depend on them (for the division of this Song, as also of other Scriptures into Chapters, not being done by the Penmen of the Holy Ghost, but by the Translators, is not to be stuck on where there is no questi­on in the matter) she desired him, verse last, of the former Chap­ter, to come, and now in this verse, Behold I am come, saith he, &c. In it we have, 1. His yielding to come. 2. His carriage when he is come, as to himself: And also his intimation of both. 3. His invitation to others, which may be also a part of his carriage when come, taken up in three. 1. He makes himself welcome; and, 2. Others, 3. He intimats it.

The title being spoken of formerly, the first thing is, I am come into my Garden (as thou desired) my sister, &c. Hence ob­serve, 1. Christ hath particular and peculiar wayes, of coming to his people, and of nearnesse with them, even as he hath of with­drawing from them. 2. There are some peculiar times, wherein [Page 249] he is more near than at other times. 3. Sometimes he will not only draw near to his people, but let them know he is near, and put them out of doubt that he is come.

Again, if we look to this as the answer of the former prayer, we will see, 1. Christ is easily invited and prevailed with to come to his people; and sometimes there will not be long betwixt their prayer and his answer, it's the very next word. 2. Few words may be an effectual prayer to Christ (as the former suit was) a breathing or sigh will not be rejected by him, where sincerity is. 3. Christ will sometimes not only answer prayer in the thing sought, but he will intimate, and let his people know that he hath answered it.

More particularly, we may consider the answer, 1. As it agrees with her prayer, 2. As it [...]ems defective. 3. As it's beyond it.

First, It agrees fully to her last suit, she prayed he would come and eat, he comes and eats. Obs. Christ will carve and shape out sometimes his answer, even according to his peoples desires, as if they had the power of prescribing their own answers. For, when our prayers make for our good, Christ will alter nothing in them, but will grant them in the very terms in which they are put up.

Again, I say there seems to be somewhat defective, there is no return recorded of the first suit for livelinesse; and her drousie, lazy case, vers. 2, 3. gives ground to think, that that petition was not as yet answered. Obs. 1. Christ may be particular in answe­ring one petition of the same prayer, when yet he may for a time suspend an answer to another, in it self as acceptable to him. Yea, 2. He may answer the last prayer, and seem to passe over somewhat formerly sought for.

Finally, compare this answer with her last suit, he doth more than she required; for, she desired him only to come and eat, but he comes, eats, gathers, &c. Christ will often stuff in more in the answer, than was in the desire of his people; and will do above what they asked or thought, Eph. 3. 20.

Next, his carriage (as to his own satisfaction) is in three steps, 1. I have gathered my Myrrhe, with my spice: Myrrhe and spice signify (as hath been often said) the graces that grow in believers, who are this Garden: His gathering of them is his pulling (to say [Page 250] so) and dressing of them, as Gardeners do their herbs and fruits, for making them useful; Here ere he eat he gathers, signifying, that as the spices are his, so he must prepare them for himself; She cannot prepare what provision Christ gives her, till he do it: She cannot put forth to exercise the grace she hath received, till he breath on it.

2. I have eaten my honey-comb with my honey: When he hath prepared, he eats: By honey-comb and honey, is signified the same thing (as Chap. 4. vers. 11.) because as that was savory and whole­some food in these dayes and places, so are believers graces a feast to Christ.

3. I have drunk my wine with my milk: Milk was for nourish­ing, wine for refreshing; Christ mentions drinking of both, to shew, how aboundantly he was satis [...], [...], and fully feasted, both for meat and drink; and how heartsomely he entertained himself on it, as a friend that thinks himself very welcome. Consider here, 1. Meat and drink are mentioned; Christ will not want entertainment where he is, he will invite and treat himself, where he gets welcome: Where Christ gets welcome, he will never complain of the want of fare, he hath there a feast. 2. He accepts all heartsomly; as Christ is easily invited, so is he chearful and plea­sant company: where he comes, he takes what there is to give him, he is not sour and ill to please. 3. There is Myrrhe and spice, milk and honey and wine; which is not only to shew that there are di­versities of graces, but that Christ casts at nothing of grace that is found in his people, he takes the milk as well as the wine; he makes much of the weaker grace, as well as of the most lively. 4. He gathers and eats; As Christ provides food for himself, so (to speak with reverence) he is his own Cook, none can dresse dishes for Christ, but himself. 5. Where he gets the most seri­ous invitation to come, there may be much unpreparednesse for him when he comes, until he right it, and prepare his own en­tertainment himself. 6. Though things be not prepared for him, yet sometimes he will not suspend his coming on that, nor will it ma [...] his chearfulnesse in his carriage, when he comes and is made welcome, He dresseth and eateth. 7. He intimates all this: Some­times Christ may be well-pleased with believers, and be feasting [Page 251] himself on their graces, and yet they not discern it, nor believe it, until he intimate it and make it known to them: And there­fore that their joy may be full, he graciously condescends now and then to put them upon the knowledge of it, and perswades their hearts of it.

The last thing, is his invitation to his Friends to eat with him, which is pressed, 1. By kindly compellations, Friends and Beloved. 2. By three words, eat, drink, and that aboundantly. By Friends and Beloved, are understood believers, there are none other ca­pable of these titles, and it was she that prayed, that is here un­derstood by Friends and Beloved, and so he answers her. Hence we see, the believer is [...] Friend, as Abraham, Jam. 2. 23. and Lazarus, Joh. 11. 11. were called. It imports, 1. A privi­ledge on the believers part, to be admitted to special league of friendship with him, when others are slaves or enemies. 2. A special friendlinesse in Christ's carriage to them; familiarly, free­ly telling them all his mind, so far as is needful for them to know, Ioh. 15. 15. and lovingly manifesting himself to them, as one doth to his friend. 3. It holds out a duty lying on the believer, to carry friendly to Christ and them that are his, Ioh. 15. 14. A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly (Prov. 18. 24.) to them: And seing he trusts them, and expects no ill from them, they would be like Christ's friends, answerable to their trust. They are also beloved, the title that the husband gives the wife, for evidencing special love: All Christ's friends are beloved, and believers are (whatever they be as to their desert, or in the eyes of men) both friends and beloved: No friend hath such bowels for his friends, as Christ hath for his friends. Friends and be­loved are in the plural, 1. To shew he excludes no believer, but includes all, and that with the same seriousness he invites and makes them all welcome to feast with him, whether they be strong or weak. 2. Because his mercy to one may be cheering to many, and he allows and would have others of his people to be cheerful, because of his kindnesse and mercy manifested to one.

His intertaining of them is held out in three words. 1. Eat, that declares his desire to have believers partaking with him in the soul-refreshing blessings of his purchase, by their reflecting act [Page 252] of faith comforting themselves in the priviledges, promises and mercies allowed on them. Obs. 1. The same feast, is a feast to Christ and believers both. 2. Where he is cheerful, they should be so also. The second word is, drink: He drinks, that is, sa­tisfies himself as fully feasted, to wit, with the graces of his people (such is the complacency he hath in them, when he stirs them up to any livelinesse of exercise) and he allows them in this case to be refreshed, satisfied and feasted also: It becomes them to drink when he drinks, and bids them drink. The third word is, drink abundantly: that shews the largenesse of his allowance, and the heartinesse of his welcome, as a gladsome Hoast, so che­rishes he his ghuests; and all this is [...] be understood spiritually, of the joy and comfort which he allows on his people, even to be filled with the Spirit, in opposition to wine, Eph. 5. 18. which is more satisfying, cheering and refreshing to the inner-man, than wine is to the body. The scope and dependence, points out these things. 1. There is much notable soul-refreshing to be had in Christ's company; where-ever he is, there is a feast, Rev. 3. 20. 2. He allows his people largely to share of it; yea, it is his will that all should liberally improve this allowance, he willeth it. 3. If our joy run in a spiritual channel, there cannot be excesse in it, if it were to be drunken with it, so as to forget our proverty, and to remember our misery no more. 4. Christ is never fully satisfied at his own feast, till he get his friends feasted and cheered also: He eats not his morsels alone, but is desirous to commu­nicat his good things, according as they are communicable. 5. Christ's preparing and dressing is rather for the welcoming of his friends, than for himself I have gathered, eat ye, saith he. 6. Christ is a most heartsome distributer to others, and inter­tainer of his friends: There needs be no sparing to eat where he invites. 7. Believers, even Christ's friends, needs invitation, by reason of unbelief, sense of unworthinesse (which makes them sin­fully modest) and the dulnesse of their spiritual appetite; and therefore they will need (to say so) bidding and intreaty often­times to eat their meat, and to chear themselves in him, and he will not let them want that. 8. Where-ever Christ is present, there is a feast with him for them that are in his company, he [Page 253] sups with them, and makes them sup with him; and all is his own, and of his own dressing. 9. It's a gift of Christ's mercy, not only to have grounds of consolation, but to be inabled to comfort our selves in these grounds; (as in outward things, it is one gift to have, and another to have the cheerful use of that which we have) for, the believer may have the one when he wants the other; and when he hath the one, to have the other added is a double mercy, as the exhortation, eat, drink, &c. imports: 10. It is not every one who is Christ's friend, nor every one that hath that honour to comfort and feast themselves with him; it's a priviledge that is peculiar to them who are his friends indeed.


Vers. 2.‘I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.’

From vers. 2. unto the ninth (which is the second part of the Chapter) the Bride speaks, and sets down a very complex piece of her condition, which we take up in these three. 1. Her condition is shortly set down. 2. The mutual carriage of the Bridegroom and Bride are recorded; wherein (as it were) grace and loving kindnesse in him, and unkindnesse in her, are wrestling together for a time. 3. The out-gate, and the way how she at­tained it, by several steps on his side, and hers, are particularly insisted on from vers. 4. with what followed thereupon.

Her case is in short, I sleep, but my heart waketh, or (as it is in the Original) I sleeping, my heart waking: It's made up of contraries, and seeming paradoxes; she is distinguished from her [Page 254] heart, and the sleeping of the one is opposed to the waking of the other: Both this sleeping and waking are spiritually to be understood; The first signifies a ceasing from spiritual duties, or a suspension of the acting of spiritual life, by arising of some in­ward corruption, that dulls and binds up the spiritual senses, as in natural sleep the external senses are dulled and bound up: So 1 Thess. 5. 6. and Rom. 13. 11. Let us not sleep, but watch and be sober. This is a further degree of spiritual distemper, beyond what was Chap. 3. 1, 2. where she was on bed, and yet seeking, but here she sleeps and lyes still, as we see, vers. 3. It imports, 1. An interruption of livelinesse and actual exercising of grace. 2. An indisposition and lazinesse in the frame of the spirit, added to that. 3. A sort of acquiescing and resting securely in that indis­position, with a loathnesse to stir and be interrupted, such as useth to be in the bodily sleep, and such as appears to be here from the following verse: It's sleepinesse, or to be given to sleep, such as the sluggard is subject unto, who sleepeth exces­sively, and out of due time. This I that sleepeth, is the be­liever, but considered in so far as unregenerat; as, Rom. 7. 18. I know, that in me (that is, in my flesh) there dwelleth no good thing: For, as the believer hath two different natures, which have oppo­sit actings; so are they considered as two different persons. Hence in that, Rom. 7. 1, yet not I, &c. by which Paul as renewed, is distinguished from himself as unrenewed. By waking, is under­stood, some livelinesse and sensiblenesse, or at least life, in oppo­sition to the former deadnesse and dulnesse, as, Rom. 13. 11. It's high time to awake: And, 1 Thess. 5. 6. Let us watch, and be sober; which is opposit to that spiritual drousinesse, wherein we are scarce at our selves. My heart, looks to the renewed part, which is often called the Spirit, that lusteth against the flesh, as, Gal. 5. 17. and the law in the mind, Rom. 7. circumcision in the heart, Rom. 2. 25. the new heart in the Covenant, Ezek. 36. In sum, it is this, Things are not right with me, and indisposition to duty or lifelessnesse in it, is great (as it is with one that is in a sleep) yet even then there is some inward stirring of life, ap­pearing in conviction of judgement, challenges, purposes, prote­stations of the inward-man, against this dead and lazy frame, as [Page 255] not delighting in it, but displeased with it, &c. wherein the new nature wrestles and yeilds not, nor gives it self leave to consent to it, although it can act nothing, at least in a lively way, under this condition: Thus she is sleeping, because she acts nothing; yet, the heart is waking, because it's kept from being involved in that security, though it be bound up, and over-powered with corruption, that it cannot win to act according to the light and inclination that it hath within. Hence observe, 1. That the be­liever hath two different and opposite natures and principles with­in him, leading him diverse wayes; the carnal and sleeping I, and the renewed and waking heart. 2. They may be both at one time acting oppositly, the one lusting against the other, Gal. 5. 17. 3. Sometimes corruption may prevail far over believers that have grace, and lay them (though not quite dead, yet) fast asleep for a time, and mar in a great measure the exercise of their grace. 4. Believers at their lowest, have life in them, and (by reason of their new nature) are not totally and fully involved in their se­curity and back-sliding conditions. 5. There may be some in­ward apprehending of our hazard, and dangerous condition, when it is very sad and low, so as believers may know it is not right with them, and yet (as it's here with the Bride) may continue under it, and lye still. 6. Spiritual lazinesse and security is inci­dent to the strongest believers: The wise virgins may slumber, and sleep, Matth. 25. 7. Yea, after the greatest manifestations, and often on the back of the fullest intimations of Christ's love, and the most sweet invitations they have from him, and most joy­ful feastings with him, they may be thus overtaken, as the words preceeding bear out: The Disciples [...]ell in this distemper, that same night after the Lord's Supper. 8. Believers may fall over and over again in the same condition of sinful security, even after they have been rouzed and raised out of it, as this, being com­pared with chap. 3. will clear. 9. The more frequently believ­ers (or any other) relapse in the same sin, they will go the great­er length readily in it, and by falling more dangerously, be more hardly recovered than formerly: Now she sleeps, and when put at, will not rise, but shifts, which is a further step than was chap. 3. 10. Lazy fits of indisposition and omissions of duty, do more fre­quently [Page 256] steal in upon believers, than positive out-breakings and commissions, and they are more ready to please themselves in them, and to ly still under them. 11. Believers should be so acquaint with their own condition, as to be able to tell how it is with them, whether as to their unrenewed or renewed part; So here, I sleep, but my heart waketh. 12. Believers in taking up their condition, would advert both to their corruptions and graces; and in their reckoning, would put a distinction betwixt these two, otherwayes they will misreckon on the one side or other: They would not reckon themselves wholly by the actings of nature, lest they disclaim their graces; nor yet their renewed part, lest they forget their unrenewed nature; but they would attribute every effect in them to it's own cause and principle, where-from it proceeds. 13. It's good for a believer when overcome with corruption, and captivate by it, to disallow and disown it from the heart, as not allowing what they do, and to present this to God, as a protestation entered against their prevailing lusts. In some sense a believer may both condemn himself as sinful, and ab­solve himself as delighting in the law of God, at one and the same time; and where he allowes not his corruption; but positively dissents from it, he may disclaim it as not being his deed.

This being her case, follows the Bridegrooms carriage: Which is expressed in the rest of vers. 2. and her carriage (implyed only in this verse) is more fully expressed, vers. 3. His carriage holds out the great design he drives, and that is to have accesse to her, and to have her roused up: for attaining of which, 1. He doth something, and that is, knocks at the door. 2. He endures and suffers dew and drops in the cold night, and yet doth not give over. 3. He speaks, and useth many perswasive arguments for that end: All which she observes, and yet lyes still. It is in sum, as if a lo­ving husband, that is shut out by a lazy, yet a beloved wife, would knock, call, and waiting on still, use many arguments to perswade her to open; so doth our Spiritual Bridegroom, wait upon be­lievers whom he loves, to have them brought again to the lively exercise of faith in him, and to a frame of spirit meet for commu­nion with him. To take the words as they ly, there is, 1. The Brides observation (as it were in her sleep) of the Beloveds cal­ling [Page 257] at the door. 2. There is set down his call. 3. The argu­ments he useth for prevailing with her. By knocking is under­stood the inward touches of the Word upon the conscience, when the efficacy of the Spirit goeth alongst, which raps at the Brides heart, as knocking doth at a door, and is the mean of awaking her from spiritual sleep, as knocking at a door is a mean of awaking from bodily sleep: So it is, Rev. 3. 20. Behold I stand at the door and knock: In which sense the word is compared to a ham­mer, Jer. 23. 29. It takes in these three, 1. A seriousnesse in him that so knocks. 2. A power and efficacy in the word, that some-way affects the heart, and moves it. 3. It implyes some ef­fect it hath upon the heart, as being somewhat affected with that touch; Therefore it's his voice or word that not only calleth, but knocketh, implying some force it had upon her: By voice is understood the Word, as Chap. 2. 8. 10. yet, as backed with the Spirit and power, and as commended thereby to the conscience, 1 Cor. 2. 4. and convincingly demonstrated to be the very voice of Christ; yet, so as rods inward and outward, and other means may have their own place, being made use of by him, yet still accor­ding to the word. His great end for which he knocks, is in that word open; which, as it implyes her case, that her heart was in a great measure shut upon him, and that by some carnal indisposi­tion he was kept out of it, and was not made welcome; So it re­quires the removing of all that stopt his way, and the casting open of the heart by saith to receive his Word, and by love to receive himself: and in these two especially, this opening doth consist, 1. In the exercise of faith, Act. 16. 14. The Lord opened the heart of Lydia, and that is expounded, she gave heed unto these things which Paul spoke. 2. An inlarging and warming of the affections towards him (which ever comprehends the former) as, Psalm 81. 10. Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it: What that is, the refusal following declares, my people would not hear, (that is, believe) Israel would none of me, or loved not me (as the words in the Original import) they cared not for me, they desi­red me not, and would not quite their Idols, as in the foregoing words, vers. 9. is mentioned. 3. There resulteth from these two a mutual familiarity, as Rev. 3. 20. If any man will open, I will [Page 258] come in and sup with him, and he with me. This opening then, imports the removing of every thing that marred fellowship with Christ, and the doing of every thing that might dispose for injoy­ing of it, as awaking, rising, &c. all which follows in the 4. vers. and while he commands to open, he calls for the entertaining of fellowship with him, which now is by her drousinesse interrupted: Which two parts of the verse put together, hold forth, 1. That Christ's own Bride may shut the door on him, and so make a sad separation betwixt him and her. 2. Christ's word is the great and ordinary external mean, whereby he knocks at mens hearts, and which he makes use of for begetting faith in them. 3. That in a believers secure condition, there will be sometimes more than ordinary convictions, stirrings and motions by the Word. 4. That the Word of God, backed with power, will reach the securest heart and affect it. 5. That believers will discern Christ's voice and call, when their condition is very low. 6. It will be refreshful to them to have him knocking; she looks on it as a kindly thing, even to have his knock bearing-in convictions, challenges, or some­what else on her; though it please not her flesh, yet in as far as she is renewed, it will be the voice of her Beloved to her. 7. Christ hath a way of following his own, even when they are become se­cure; and sometimes then, will make his call, challenges or con­victions pursue more hotly and pressingly than at other times. 8. When Christ knocketh and presseth hardest, it's for our own good, and it's a token of love in him to do so; for, there is no­thing more deplorable, than when he faith to one under indispo­sition, and in an evil case, let him alone. 9. When Christ calls by his Word, it is then our duty to open to him, and to receive him; and this can no more be slighted without sin, than prayer, mortification and other commanded duties; can be neglected or slighted without sin. 10. Christ may call very pressingly, and his Word may have some work on the conscience and affections of hearers, and they be some-way affected with it, and yet the Word be rejected, and the heart not made open to Christ; as here she sleeps still notwithstanding; and the following verse confirms it. 11. There are some operations of the Spirit, which though they be more than a common work on the generality of hearers, yet [Page 259] are not saving, and may be, and often are, even by believers frust­rate for a time, and by others for ever; for, this knocking gets a refusal, vers. 3. So deceiving, beguiling and dangerous are com­mon motions to rest on, when the finger of gracious Omnipoten­cy is not applyed, as vers. 4. 12. Christ's design when he knocks fastest, is friendly, and yet it sometimes sayeth, things are not right: This is the end of all his knocking and speaking to a people, and then it is plainest when he speaks most powerfully.

2. The way how Christ presseth this, is, 1. By shewing who he was, it's me, open to me: There can be no greater commendation given to Christ, nor weightier argument used for him, than to make it known that it's he, the Husband, Lord, &c. whose the house is, and to whom entry by right from the wife ought to be given. 2. By giving her loving titles, and claiming her as his in many relations, as my sister, love, dove; and (which was not men­tioned before) undefiled is added, that is, my perfect one, or up­right sincere one, as it is often rendered. These titles given now, and so many at once, shew, 1. That believers when secure, have very much need of the Spirit to rouze and stir them up: Souls are not easily perswaded to receive Christ. 2. There is wonder­full love in Christ, that condescends so to intreat his people when in such a secure case: even then he changes not her name, no more than if all things were in good case; for, our relation to him, de­pends not on our case. 3. Christ will sometimes very lovingly deal, even with secure souls in his way, for obtaining entry, and perswading them to open to him, and sometimes will apply the most refreshful Gospel-offers and invitations, and use the most kind­ly compellations for that end. 4. Christ sometimes will over­look the lazy distempers of his people, and not alwayes chide with them for these, but give them their wonted stiles notwithstanding. 5. The kind dealing of Christ to his people, will ever prove love to be on his side, but will not alwayes prove that the persons so dealt with are presently in a good condition; for, he may accept their persons, and speak comfortably as to their state, although he approve not their present condition, as here. 6. We may see that Christ's love is not founded on our merit, nor is up and down according to our variable disposition, but he prevents both [Page 260] in his dealing with his people. These titles being made use of as a motive to answer his call, and to open to him, shew, 1. That the perswasion of Christ's love in souls, is a main thing to make way for their entertaining of him. 2. That it is a shame for a belie­ver so beloved of Christ, to hold him without at the door, when he knocketh to be in. Grace would make a heart to blush, and in a manner look it out of countenance, that would refuse his kindnesse.

The third and great argument, is, for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night: Very shame might pre­vail with the wife, when the Husband useth such an argument as this: It's even as if a husband, standing long without doors in a tempestuous night, should use this motive with his wife to per­swade her to let him in, it will be very prejudicial and hurtful to my health, if thou open not unto me; for, I have stood long with­out: This may no doubt be presumed to be a very strong and prevalent argument with a loving wife; yet, it gets but a poor and very unsuitable answer from the Bride. By dew, drops and night-time, are understood, afflictions, external crosses and low­nesse: So, Daniel 4. that King is said to be wet with the dew of heaven in his low condition, as having no house to shelter himself in, but being obnoxious to all changes and injuries of weather: and Iacob mentions it as a part of the toilsome labour, that he had with Laban, I did endure the heat of the Sun in the day, and the cold in the night, that is, he was ever watchful, and spared not himself for the hurt of either day or night: Here Christ's spiritual sufferings also may come in, whereby he made himself obnoxious to the Fathers wrath and curse, that he might have accesse to communion with his people; and the account that he hath of being kept out by his people, as a new piece of his suffering, or as a painful reviving of the remembrance of his old sufferings. The scope is to shew, that as a kindly husband, will so deal with a beloved wife, and expect to prevail, being put to this strait; so doth Christ with his people, being no lesse desirous of a room in their hearts, and being as much troubled by their unbelief, as any man is when put to stand in the cold night, under dew and rain at his own door. This way of arguing saith, 1. That the be­liever, [Page 261] as such, loves and respects Christ, and would not have him suffering, as a kind wise would be loath to hazard her husbands health. 2. That Christ expounds her so, even when she is lazy and keeps him out, otherwise this argument would be of no force, nor would he have used it; He will see much evil (to speak so) ere he notice it in a believer; and is not suspicious, even when occasions are given. 3. Believers are often exceeding un­answerable to the relation that is betwixt Christ and them, and may suffer Christ to stand long waiting without. 4. It affects Christ much (and is a suffering to him, and a kind of putting him to open shame, and a crucifying again of the Son of God) to be kept out of hearts by unbelief, and there can be no pardonable sin that hath moe and greater aggravations than this; for, it is cruelty to kind Jesus Christ. 5. Believers, even when Christ is in good terms with them, may fall in this fault. 6. Christ is a most affectionat suiter, and patient Husband, that thus waits on even when he is affronted, and gives not over his kind suit: Who would bear with this, that he bears with and passeth by, and con­tinues kindly notwithstanding? Many strange and uncouth things are comported with, and over-looked betwixt him and believers without hearing, that the world could not digest. 7. Out Lord Jesus hath not spared himself, nor shunned sufferings, for doing of his people good: Iacob's care of, and suffering for Labans flocks, and Nebuchadnezzar his humiliation was nothing to this. 8. The love of Christ is manifested in nothing more for his people than in his sufferings for them, and in his patient on-waiting to have the benefits thereof applyed to them. 9. Christ's sufferings, and his affectionat way of pleading from them, should melt hearts in love to him, and in desire of union with him, and will make the refusal exceeding sinful and shameful▪ where it is given; O so strong arguments as Christ hath, to be in on the hearts of his people! and how many things are there, to plead for that?

Vers. 3.‘I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them?’

The Brides answer is here set down, but O! how unsuitable to that which was his carriage? He stands, she lyes; He without, she within; He calls friendly; she ungrately shifts it, at best: As if a wife should answer her husband so calling, I am now in bed, and have put off my cloaths, and washen my feet, and so have composed my self to rest, I cannot rise, it would hurt me to rise: So doth the Bride thus unreasonably, and absurdly put back this fair call, upon a twofold shift, both which are spiritually to be understood, as the sleep and opening, formerly mentioned, were. In it consider, 1. The answer. 2. The manner of it. 3. The particular grounds which she layeth down to build it on. And, 4. The faults of this reasoning of hers, which at first may be concluded to be unsound. The answer in general, is a denyal, as the event clears; and it's like that, Luk. 11. 7. I am in bed, and my children with me, trouble me not, &c. Yea, how can I put them on? These words (being the interrogatinonot of one doubting, but of one shifting) imply a vehe­hement denyal, as if it were a most unreasonable and impossible thing for her to give obedience to what was called for: which shews, that Christ may get most undiscreet refusals to his fairest calls: Which refusal is thus aggreged, 1 It was against most powerful and plain means: The most powerful external Ordinances may be frustrat even Christ himself in his Word, when he preached in the dayes of his flesh, had not alwayes successe. 2. It was against her light, she knew it was Christ's call: Even believers may fit challenges against their light, and sin wittingly through the violence of ten­tations, though not wholly willingly. 3. She had invited him by prayer, Chap. 4. 16. yet now lyes still: Which lets us see, 1. That believers in their carriage, are often unsuitable to their prayers: There may be, and is often a great discrepancy betwixt these. And, 2. Often believers may be more desirous of an opportunity [Page 263] of meeting with Christ, or any other mercy, when they want it, than watchful to make the right use of it, when they have got­ten it.

Her way is to give some reasons for her refusal, as if she could do no otherwayes, and were not to be blamed so much for her shifting of Christ, as the words how can I, &c. import. Observe, 1. The flesh will be bruidy and quick in inventing shifts for main­taining of it self, even against the clearest convictions and duties. 2. It's ill to debate or reason a clear duty, often Satan and the flesh gets advantage by it. 3. Folks are oft-times very partial in examining their own reasons, and are hardly put from their own grounds once laid, although they be not solid; and the most foolish reasons will be convincing to a spiritual sluggard, who in fostering his ease, seems wiser to himself, than one who can ren­der the most concludent arguments, and strongest reasons to the contrary, Prov. 26. 16. The opening of the particular reasons will clear this; The first is, I have put off my coat, and the con­clusion is, how can I put it on? Putting off the cloaths is an evi­dence [...] betaking themselves to rest, as keeping them on, is a sign of watching, as in Nehemiah 4. 23. None of us put off cloaths, [...] to washing; Hence keeping on of the cloaths is bor­rowed, to set out spiritual watchfulnesse, and hiding of spiritual nakednesse, as Rev. 16. 15. Blessed is he that watcheth and keep­eth his garments, lest he walk naked: And on the contrary put­ting off of cloaths, signifieth not only a spiritual drousinesse, but a high degree of it; as having put off, and fallen from that ten­dernesse and watchfulnesse in her walk, wherewith she was cloath­ed, Chap. 4. 11. and is now somewhat setled in her carnal ease and security. From this she argueth, how shall I put it on? The force of the reason may be three wayes considered, 1. As it im­ports a difficulty in the thing, how shall I do it? O it's difficult! 2. As it imports an aversnesse to it, in her self: It stands against her heart, as a seeming unreasonable thing, as Gen. 39. How shall I do this great wickednesse, &c.? 3. A sort of shame may be in it, I am now out of a posture, and I think shame to rise, and to be seen: Which shews, 1. That it's hard to raise one that hath fal­len into security. 2. To lazy souls every thing looks like an in­superable [Page 264] difficulty, their way to duty is as an hedge of thorns, Prov. 15. 19. and there is a lyon in their streets, and sometimes, as it were, even in the house-floor, when any duty is pressed upon them that would rob them of their carnal ease, Prov, 26. 13. and 22. 13. 3. It's much for one in a secure frame to wrestle with their own indisposition, it's a wearinesse then to take the hand out of the bosome, Prov. 26. 15. 4. It's not a commendable shame­fastnesse, but must needs be a very sinful modesty, that keeps one from duty: It was indeed more shameful to lye still, than to rise.

Her second ground is of the same nature, I have washed my feet: washing the feet, fitted and prepared for rest; mens feet in these countries, being, by walking bare-footed, someway stiffened, beaten and bruised, which by washing were eased and refreshed, as we may see, Gen. 18. 19. in Abraham and Lots carriage to the Angels, supposing them to be men: So here, it is, I have fitted and composed my self for rest, as being wearied with the painful­nesse of holy duties, and now she cannot endure to stir her self toward these, as if that would again defile her: In [...] reason­ing, there are these faults, 1. That she doth at all offer to debate a clear duty, this makes way for the snare. 2. That she interprets the study of holinesse, and communion with Christ to be a trouble, and carnal security to be an ease: There will be strange misrepre­sentations sometimes, both of our faults and failings, and of Christ's worth and excellency, which have much influence on our deadnesse and sinful distempers. 3. She makes one sinful action the cause of her continuance in another: There is often a con­nexion amongst [...]ins, and one draws on another; the premisses that the flesh layes down as principles, will still bear conclusions like themselves: It's unsound and unsafe reasoning from these. 4. That which should stir and perswade her to rise, to wit, that she was not right, she makes a motive of it to strengthen her self in her lazy inclination to lye still; Carnal sense draws conclusions most unreasonable in every thing, and tends still to foster it self, whereas faith and tendernesse would reason the quite contrary. 5. She puts too honest a name upon her security, and calleth it the washing of her feet, which was indeed the polluting of them: [Page 265] Fairding and plaistering over our own evils, is a great fostering of security, yet too common; as to call unbelief humility, pre­sumption faith, security peace, &c. We give to sin the name of vertue, and then without a challenge maintain it; which is a degree of putting darknesse for light, and bitter for sweet, and a sort of calling evil good, which brings under the hazard of the pronounced wo, Isa. 5. 20. 6. She fails here, that she expects more ease in lying still, than in opening to Christ, whereas it is but the flesh that is troubled at Christ's presence; but, solid satis­faction is only to be had in his company: Flesh hath ever secret fears of Christ's company, as if it were intollerable, irksome and troublesome to be a Christian in earnest; and these whisperings, and wicked suggestions of the flesh, may have sometimes too much weight with a believer. 7. She mistakes Christ's word, which pressed that he might be admitted, who was a most loving hus­band, and had suffered so much in waiting for entry; but, she states the matter otherwayes, if she that was at ease should trouble her self, that so the shift might seem reasonable; Though Christ be not directly and down-right refused, and the heart dar not un­der convictions adventure on that, yet by opposing respect to our selves to him, and by shifting to open to him when he knocks, many are guilty upon the matter of refusing and slighting Christ himself, when they think they slight not him, but would only shun something that is troublesome to themselves: These words are not so to be looked on, as if explicitly believers would so ar­gue, but that in their lazy and drousie spiritual distempers there is such arguing on the matter, and such or such like shifts prevails often to make them keep out Christ, when directly they dar not refuse him; which doth evidence the power and subtility of corruption, even in a believer, and the greatnesse of the love of Christ that passeth it by.

If it should be asked, Why is this sinful distemper of hers re­gistrat, and put upon record? Why say, 1. For her own good; It's profitable for believers to mind and record their miscar­riages to Christ, as well as his kind dealings with them. 2. It's for the honour of the Bridegroom, whose love appears and shines most brightly, when it is set for-against her miscarriage; believers [Page 266] would acknowledge their infirmities and failings, as well as their mercies and graces, when it may make to the Bridegrooms com­mendation. 3. It's for the edification of others; often one believers infirmities, through Gods blessing, may prove edifying to others, for making them watchful, and bidding them stand, and sustaining of them when fallen: The infirmities of Iob un­der his fore tryals, have strengthened many, as his patience hath convinced them.

In sum, this reasoning is indirect and frivolous, shewing in the general, 1. That men incline to cover their secret misregard of Christ, as if it were rather tendernesse to themselves, than in­discreet disrespect to him, yet he expounds it so: as, Mat. 22. 5. when they alledge it as a necessary excuse, that they behoved to wait on their farm and merchandise, he interprets it, they made light of the invitation to the marriage of the Kings Son. 2. It shewes, that the shifts whereby men put back Christ, are exceeding frivolous, there can be no strong nor relevant reason alledged for our slighting Christ, and for our ruining our selves in slighting of him in the offers of his grace in the Gospel; although corrupt nature exercise and rack it's invention, to find out reasons to plead our excuse, yet when such reasonings are examined, they will not abide the tryal. 3. That when mens hearts are in a de­clining frame, very trivial and weightlesse arguments will pre­vail to make them keep out Christ; and for as trivial as they are, they would prevail even with believers, did not grace refute them, and make way for his entry into the soul.

Vers. 4.‘My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.’

There follow; in this fourth verse, a second step of Christ's carriage, with the effects of it: He gives not over, but puts in his finger, and powerfully makes application to her, by a saving [Page 267] work of the Spirit upon her heart, which hath the desired and designed effect following upon it; she riseth and openeth.

In this we have, 1. The mean applyed and made use of. 2. The manner of application. (for that the worker is the Beloved him­self, is clear) The mean in his hand, which in Scripture signifieth three things, when attributed to God, 1. His Omnipotency, whereby he doth what he pleaseth, Exod. 15. 6. Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: And, Exod. 8. 19. it's said, This is the finger of God, that is, his power. 2. It's taken for the Spirit, or the common operations of the Spirit, whereby miracles, beyond the power of man are wrought; as by comparing Matth. 12. 28. with Luke 11. 20. will be clear. 3. It's taken for the sa­ving work of the Spirit, applyed for the working of faith in the elect at the first, or renewing and confirming of it afterward in believers; as, Acts 11. 21. The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed. This is it which is pointed at, Isa. 53. 1. where, Who hath believed? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? are made of equal extent: And so especially it's to be taken here, as the scope clears, to wit, for the immediat power­full work of the Spirit, made use of in the working of faith, as a key is made use of for the opening of a door.

The way of applying this mean, is, he put in his hand by the hole of the door: where (following the similitude of a husbands stand­ing at a shut door, and not geting entry) he shews what he did, when knocking prevailed not; to wit, he took an effectual way of opening it himself, which is ordinary by putting in the key, or somewhat else at the hole of the door: So Christ by his Spi­rit made open the heart, in a kindly native way, not by breaking open, but by opening; he indeed having the key by which hearts are opened, even the key of David, that opens and no man shuts, and shuts [...]and no man opens, Rev. 3. 7. Which words do shew, 1. That beside the call of the word, and any common conviction that is thereby wrought in the heart, there is in the conversion of sinners, an immediat, real, powerful and peculiar work of the Spirit that accompanies the word. 2. That the application of this is necessary, and that men being now asleep, and dead in sin, cannot without that be stirred and quickned by the most power­ful [Page 268] external Ordinances, or common operations: Nay, even to the believers reviving, from his backslidden and drousie case, this work if omnipotency is needful. 3. This work of the Spi­rit is effectual, and when peculiarly applyed by Christ, cannot be frustrat; for, he puts in his hand, and the effect follows. 4. Al­though it be a most powerful work, yet it works kindly, and brings about the effect without wronging of the natural faculties of the soul, but makes use of them formally for bringing forth the effect, as one that openeth a door by the lock, makes use of a key, but doth not hurt nor destroy the lock: There is therefore no inconsistency betwixt Christ's opening and ours; for, he co-acts not nor forceth the will, but sweetly determins it, so that it can­not but be willing; he takes away unwillingness from it, and makes it willing, Psal. 110. 3. Christ hath the keyes of hearts, and can open and shut at his pleasure, without wronging of them. 5. Grace being the work of a high-hand, it cannot be easie to procure wel­come to Jesus Christ even amongst believers, and much lesse with others, who have no principle of grace within to co-operat with Christ. 6. Christ Jesus as he is a most powerful worker, so is the work of his power most free, soveraign and wonderful; which clearly appeareth in that it is applyed on the back of such a slight­ing answer, and not before: Yea, 7. Often-times the work of grace surprizeth his own, when they are in a most unsuitable case, and when in respect of their deserving they might have expected the quite contrary; certainly, we are not obliged to our free­will for our conversion, but to his Spirit; nor to our predisposi­tions for his applying of it, but to his own grace, who in his gra­cious way of dealing with his people, comes over many obstructi­ons, and packs up (to say so) many affronts and injuries.

If any should ask, why Christ did not apply this work, and put in his hand at first, but suspends it till he had gotten a refusal, and be now at the very withdrawing? Answ. 1. He doth this to shew the Soveraignty of grace, that works as well when it will, as on whom it will: Grace must not be limited by us in the manner or time of it's working, more than in it's work, or subject matter upon which it worketh. 2. By this he discovereth, what belie­vers would be without his grace (and so would teach them to [Page 269] walk humbly) which otherwise had not so well appeared. 3. His wisdom and tendernesse appears herein, that he will not withdraw from her, and leave her lifelesse too, but ere he awake challenges in her, he will make her lively in the exercise of her graces; o­therwise she might have lyen still in her deadnesse: Christ times his operations, his appearings and withdrawings with much ten­dernesse, wisdom and discretion.

This work of the Spirit puts a stir in the Bride, which vents it self in four steps. 1. Her bowels are moved. 2. She ariseth. 3. Her fingers drop with Myrrhe. 4. She opens. All which may be considered, either, 1. As effects following the work of the Spirit, whereby she is recovered from such a condition: Or, 2. As duties lying on a believer: Or, 3. As they hold out the order of the effects wrought by the Spirit. In general, it holds forth, 1. That the work of the Spirit, when it's effectually apply­ed, makes a very great, palpable and universal change upon the persons in whom it works: There is a great difference betwixt the Brides carriage here, and what it was, vers. 3. 2. Although it be not absolutly necessary, nor ordinary for a believer, to know the instant of his conversion; yet, when the change is suddain, and from an extremity of a sinful condition, it will be discernable, and the fruits following the change will be the more palpable. 3. A believer would endeavour to be clear in the change of his condition; and when this clearnesse is at­tained by the distinct uptaking of the several fruits of the change, it is very useful and profitable for establishing the believer in the confidence of his interest in Christ, and that there is a saving change wrought in him; So here, the Bride both asserts him to be her beloved, and likewise the reality of the change he had wrought in her.

The first effect, is, my bowels were moved for him; Which, in short, holds forth the kindly exercise of serious repentance, af­fecting and stinging (as it were) the very inward bowels, for slighting Christ so long: which will be cleared by considering, 1. What is meant by bowels. 2. What by moving of the bowels. 3. What that is, for him. By bowels, are understood either sor­row, and that in an intense degree, as, Iob 30. 27. my bowels [Page 270] boyled. Lam. 1. 20. My bowels are troubled. And Ier. 4. 19. My bowels, my bowels, I am pained at the very heart: Or, bowels are taken for affection and tender love in the highest degree, such as mothers have to the children of their womb, Philip. 2. 1, 2. If there be any bowels. And Philemon, v. 12. Receive him that is my own bowels. Thus they are taken, Isa. 63. 15. Where are thy bow­els? and frequently elsewhere, both in the Old and New Testa­ment. By moving of the bowels (or sounding, or making a noise, as the word is elsewhere trauslated, Isa. 10. 11. and 63. 15.) is understood a sensible stirring of the affections, when they begin to stound, and that kindly, and in a most affectionat manner, either severally, or jointly, such as is the turning of the bowels, Hos. 11. and the troubling of the bowels, Jer. 31. 18, 19, 20. It's even such as is kindly sympathy with persons that are dearly beloved, when any sad change befalls them: It's called the yerning of the bow­els, spoken of that mother, 1 King. 3. 26. who was so affected to­wards her child, out of love to him, that she had rather quite him to the other woman that was not his mother, than see him di­vided, her bowels were so hot towards him; (another thing than was in any on-looker) It's the same word here, which shews, that this motion of the Brides bowels proceeded from love to Christ, and from sorrow for wronging of him, which two jumbled her with­in, and pierced and stounded her to the heart, as a kindly parent useth to be for the death or distresse of his only child, which is the character of true repentance, Zech. 12. 10, 11. 3. For him, holds out, 1. The procuring-cause of this trouble, that it was for wronging of Christ, and the slighting of so kind an husband and friend, that, that stounded her at the heart above all, as, Zech. 12. 10. They shall look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn for him. 2. It holds forth the final cause wherefore she was so stirred and moved; It was for him, that is, that she might injoy him, as the word is, Hos. 7. 14. They assemble themselves for corn and wine, that is, to obtain them: So her bowels were moved for, or after him, to obtain and injoy him: And thus, sense of the wrong done to him, in her by-past unkindly carriage to him, and desire to re­cover him again, so affects her, as if it were the pangs of a travel­ling woman, till Christ be again formed in her heart. Obs. 1. The [Page 271] first work of the Spirit, is, by powerful convictions to beget evange­lick repentance in the heart, and to make the soul sensible of by­past failings, Act. 2. 37. This although it be not in time before faith, nor in nature (for, seing it proceeds from love, it suppo­seth faith) yet it's the first sensible effect, that sinners (surprised in a sinful condition) are touched with, and it's never separat from, but alwayes joined with, the exercise of faith, Zech. 12. 10. 2. This work of repentance is necessary to be renewed, even in believers after their failings, and it is the way by which they re­cover; Christ's Bride is thus affected, and it becomes them well who have sin, to be deeply moved and afflicted with the sense of it. 3. Where most love to Christ is, and where most sincerity hath been, when a wakening comes, it will be the more sensible, and affect the heart the more throughly. Particularly, we may gather hence these properties of true repentance or godly sor­row. 1. Godly sorrow is no fruit of nature, but is a work and effect of the Spirit of Christ, and a peculiar saving grace, beyond common conviction, and a believer is not the worker of it in himself. 2. This sorrow consists most in the inward pangs and stings of the heart, wherein love to Christ, and indignation against our selves for wronging of him, strugle, and put all within, in a stir. 3. True repentance is different from, and beyond convicti­ons, and challenges (which the Bride had before when this was wanting in her) and makes another kind of impression, and a more sensible touch upon the heart and inward bowels: I say not that it's alway terrible; for, that is accidental to it, but sensible it is. 4. Though this godly sorrow affect the heart deeply, yet doth it work kindly, sweetly and affectionatly, as a mothers affection warms to her child, or, as a man is troubled for his first-born: Love hath a main influence upon, and goeth alongst in, this godly sorrow, both in the rise of it, love kindles this heart-indignation; and also in the exercise of it, love to Christ keeps it lively; and in the manner how it vents it self, it makes it a kindly and no torturing or terrible exercise. 5. Nothing more affects a kindly repenting heart, truly touched with godly sorrow, than that it should have sinned against Christ It's own hazard is not the predo­minant cause of this sorrow (she is clear of her interest still) nor [Page 272] is it any sad event that might follow, which so affects her (though she was not senselesse as to these) but it is for him, and his cause, and not her own, that she is thus moved: The Spirits conviction, Ioh. 16. 8. is, because they believe not on me. 6. Considering the words with what follows, I rose, &c. and comparing them with what went before, Observe, That true repentance brings forth alwayes a change in a believers carriage to the better, in those things by which Christ their Beloved was formerly provocked; and it doth stir up to universal activenesse, in the study of holi­nesse: This makes her arise from the lazinesse in which she for­merly was. 7. Consider, that she rests not till first she open to Christ, and thereafter obtain his presence, which sheweth, that where true repentance is, the soul will never sit down on challenges, con­victions, or making a-mends in the conversation, or any thing in self; but it will be restlesse until by faith it close with Christ; yea, it will be pressing after the intimation of his favour, on the back of any peace attained in closing with him, as David doth, Psal. 51.

Vers. 5.‘I rose up to open to my Beloved, and my hands dropped with Myrrhe, and my fingers with sweet smelling Myrrhe, upon the handles of the lock.’

There are two steps of her carriage, or effects of the Spirit's work, vers. 5. The first is, her bowels being thus stirred and moved, she ariseth to open, as being sorry she had lyen still and shifted him so long: I rose up; This is opposit to her former lying still, and refusing to give him entry; now she yields, and begins to bestir her self, to draw her cloaths to her, &c. Which imports not only more diligence as to the matter of duty, but much seriousnesse as to the manner: It seems to differ from opening (which is the actual receiving of Christ into the heart, when all things are ready and prepared) not as if it were simply contradistinguished from faith (for, this being a fruit of her re­pentance, [Page 273] and he acknowledged to be her beloved, there behoved to be faith in it) but only, as one degree or act of faith is distin­guished from another, as, Luk. 15. In the Prodigals case, it's said, after he came to himself, before he act, he deliberats and stirs himself; So this holds forth, her rousing and quickning her self, for receiving Christ, which is not separat in time, either from her repentance in the former words, or her faith in these that follow; she rose to open, that shews her design, that she resolved now not to stand at, but to go over her former reasonings; and purposed by this stirring, to have the way rid for Christ's entry, and to make him welcome; which shews, it was no confused ex­ercise that her repentance put her unto, but distinct and di­gested, like the Prodigals, I will arise, and go to my Father, and say, &c.

Obs. 1. Repentance will put the securest sinners to their feet, when it is real. 2. There is no settling of an exercised mind, but in receiving of Christ, and in making of him welcome. 3. When the heart is affected with the sense of sin, and desire to have Christ, it's not time to delay or dispute what to do, but to rise and open, and by faith to receive Christ. 4. Where a soul hath been plun­ged in security, or (like the Prodigal, Luke 15.) in prophanity, there will be need of gathering, composing and rousing of it self, for exercising of faith in Christ; this is not from any difficulty that is on graces-side to receive a sinner, but from the difficulty that is on the sinners side, in acting of grace, who being at a low ebb, must by several steps of grace ascend out of it, with a kind of violence to corruption, discouragement and unbelief, from under the power of which the penitent must arise, when they combine to intangle and detain him, as she doth here. 5. Believers would be distinct in their exercises, especially in reference to their end and design, that in their activity and stirrings it may be discerned by themselves what they would be at: Some exercises are confu­sed, neither having a distinct cause, nor a distinct end; kindly ex­ercise hath both, though much confusion may be with it. 6. Faith in Christ, and making way for him into the heart, should be, and is the native end of all inward exercises, diligence in duties, &c. This must be the great scope of all pains whatsoever; these stings [Page 274] of exercise that put not the soul to open to him, though they put the person thorow other, are not to be fostered, nor laid much weight upon. 7. Though faith and duty differ, and the most active frame is not to be rested on without faith, yet activity in duty, and livelinesse in the exercise of faith go together: as her rising and opening do, even as before, her lying still, and the keep­ing of him out, went together. Yea, 8. This activenesse runs es­pecially to perform what he called to: He called to open, and she accordingly riseth to open; which shews, that the penitents acti­vity doth principally bend it self towards these duties, that Christ in a more especial manner calls for.

She proceeds to set down her experience which she found when she had risen, which is the third effect of the work of grace on her by Christ's putting in his hand, when she arose to open: Her hands and fingers dropped sweet smelling Myrrhe upon the handles of the lock: She continues the comparison of opening a shut door, he, as it were, put in the key without, and she came to draw the handle or slot within. (as is usual in some locks) The door is the heart, as Psal. 24. 7. called, the everlasting doors: The lock that closeth, is unbelief and security, indisposition and declining in the exercise of grace, whereby, as by a fast lock, Christ in his accesse to the heart is kept out: Now she puts-to her hands and fingers to the sock within, which imports her stirring her self again in the exercise of faith and diligence, being now arisen to open; There­fore by faith we are said to grip and take hold of Christ, and to work righteousnesse, and by it the heart is opened to him, as fol­lowes. This sweet smelling Myrrhe that drops, is the flowing of habitual grace, which formerly was not vigorous and active, but now it flowes and vents, and is to the heart as oyl applyed to moisten and make easie a rousted lock, to make it open without difficulty: This grace is ordinarily compared to Myrrhe, and the anointing typical oyl was made of it and of other spices, Exod. 30. 23. It's said here, to drop from her fingers, implying the active stirring of her faith, because when faith becomes lively, it puts all other graces to exercise, and thereby (as it were by oyl) her former hardnesse and indisposition was softned and removed, and her heart made meet to act lively. In sum it's this, That [Page 275] when she in the exercise of faith and holinesse, set her self seriously and effectually to make way for Christ, and to remove what for­merly had kept him out through her indisposition, unexpected­ly she found, that by his putting in of his hand, it went much more easily and sweetly than she expected, all had been so anointed and quickned; and thus conduced to the opening of her heart, as dropping of oyl doth to the easie opening of a lock: Which shews, 1. That the work of grace upon the heart, being applyed by Christ from without, doth leave an inward fitnesse on the heart within for the opening of it self to him: Grace infused and quick­ned by Christ's Spirit, will make the most indisposed and secure heart to open to him heartsomly. 2. That though Christ apply grace from without to open the heart, yet will he have the heart formally opening it self to him; and though the heart open it self formally to him, yet it's by the vertue of his application from without; for, this putting-to of her hand, and it's dropping Myrrhe, is the effect of his putting in his hand, first. 3. Often when the most spiritual and difficult duties (if it were even faith it self) are e [...]ayed, they will be found more easie, than was expect­ed, and none can tell how they will go with them, till they un­dertake and set about them. She, while lying in her security, thought it impossible to get this done, yet now it goes easily and sweetly with her. O! but when grace goes along and flows, the exercise of duty is a sweet, and easie work. 4. Although the ex­ercise of grace make duties easy, and a supply of help be given thereby for doing of spiritual duties, yet the Lord will have the person assaying duty ere he find it so; nor can he find or expect that supply that will facilitat duties to him, till he first set himself about them, as she first rises to open, before her fingers drop with Myrrhe. 5. These that set themselves to open to Christ, and minde that singly from the sense of their need of him, and being affected for wronging of him, will not find grace wanting and defi­cient to help them; and by this all the mouths of unbelievers will be stopped, that are ready to say, and usually say they had not grace to open. 6. Faith in exercise hath a great influence on the keeping of all other graces in a believer fresh and green, be­cause [Page 276] it acts by Christ's strength, and therefore when it is in ex­ercise, it makes all the rest to drop, as it were, with sweet smelling Myrrhe.

Vers. 6.‘I opened to my Beloved, but my Be­loved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not finde him: I called him, but he gave me no answer.’

This 6. vers. contains five particulars of the Brides experience in this case: The first of them, I opened, &c. is the last effect fol­lowing upon his putting in his hand vers. 4. This work of grace left her not in an indifferency, whether to open or not, but having given her to will in the former verse, now he gives also to do, and actually determins the will, or makes it determine it self to receive him: but now Christ is found to be absent, whereupon follows the other steps of her carriage, and the disappointments that she met with in seeking of him. This opening is the very thing called for by him, vers. 2. which (considering the words following) is espe­cially to be understood of her exercising of faith in him, whereby the heart is delated to receive him, hence believing is called, a re­ceiving of Christ, Joh. 1. 12. And it being a heart-receiving, it must be the very thing understood here by opening. Now al­though faith according to it's several acts, may be several wayes considered, yet that act of faith whereby the heart consents to re­ceive Christ, and to rest on him, is that which is mainly here aimed at, 1. Because this opening, is opposed to refusing, Psal. 81. 10, 11. It must therefore be consenting. 2. It's not giving of consent, that mainly keeps Christ at a distance from souls, or keeps them without interest in him, as opening to him, or receiving of him intitles them to him, Ioh. 1. 11, 12. and Acts 16. 14. 3. This opening is both different from conviction, resolutions, repentance [Page 277] and what may be supposed to preceed; these were in the words going before: and is also distinguished from sense and the fruits of believing, which follow after: It must therefore be the hearts yielding to Christ's call, and submitting thereunto, Rom. 10. 3. as actually consenting to be his: Yet all these acts would not be looked on as distinct in respect of time, as they proceed from grace (which puts all together) but in nature, and in respect of the distinct uptaking of the same grace, in it's effects: In a word, saith the Bride, the Lord having applyed the work of his Spirit to me, it effectuated one step after another, and left me not untill I yielded my self to him to be his, as a mansion for him to dwell in. Which shews, 1. That grace doth not only work upon the under­standing to enlighten it, but that it doth also immediatly work on the will, and determins it; for, this opening of the heart, is an effect of that work of grace, vers. 4. as the former steps were. 2. The act of believing and opening to Christ is both the effect of grace, and also the work formally of the believer: Therefore the Lord is said to open the heart, Act. 16. 14. because the effect flows from his putting to his hand; and the Bride is said to open her own heart, because she formerly brought forth, or elicited the act of faith, by the strength of grace. 3. This (being compared with his call, vers. 3.) shews, that it's by faith that way is made for Christ into the heart, and it's that which especially intitles one to Christ, closes with his call, receives him, and enters Cove­nant with him; for, if opening or believing be that which he calls for, as giving him accesse to the hearts of his people, then belie­ving, being the performance of that called-for condition, must unite the soul to him, and enter him into the heart. 4. There is some peculiar efficacy in faith, in the uniting of one to Christ, in accepting of Christ's call, and making way for him to come in­to the heart, which is not in any other grace: Or, it hath a pe­culiar way of concurring, in effectuating the persons union with Christ (and so in Justification) which no other grace hath: Hence this opening is peculiarly to be attributed to it, and is distinct from repentance spoken of before, vers. 4. and from other duties mentioned in the words following. 5. Whoever honestly, from the sense of sin and need of Christ and desire to have him to sup­ply [Page 278] their need, essayes believing and opening their heart to him, shall certainly come good speed, and without fail attain their de­sign; I rose to open (saith she) and I opened. 6. Although the distinct exercise of saith be not attained instantly, (but there must be first a rising, and an offering of violence to our corruptions in the pursueing thereof, before we win to the distinct opening of the heart) yet it should be prosecute till it be perfected. 7. Some­times the exercise of faith will be distinct and discernable, so that a believer can tell he hath believed; and it's no lesse comfortable to be clear from serious reflecting on our selves, that we have in­deed by faith yielded to Christ, than to be clear of it by the fruits following thereupon: For she is clear and confident in this, that she had opened to him.

Having opened, now the Beloved is gone, like as a husband, being offended at his wifes disrespect to him, should withdraw, when she at length with much adoe were brought to rise; So our Lord Jesus takes that way of rebuking kindly the former unkind­linesse of believers, by after-desertions and withdrawings. The word is doubled, but my Beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone, or, he was gone, he was gone; which doth not only import in his carriage a sad withdrawing, and on hers an observation of it; but also a sorrowful regrate and weightednesse, as having met with a sad disappointment (as the following words clear) as if she had said, at last I opened, but alace he was gone and away! What this withdrawing of Christ is, we may know by considering what his being present is, which is not to be understood of the omni-presence of his God-head, there being no coming nor going that can be attributed to that infinit Essence, which is every-where at all times present; but it is in respect of the out-letting of his especial love, and that in the peculiar way of manifesting it to his people, and not in regard of his love it self, or of their interest in him; for, here her interest stands in him, and faith in him is ex­ercised, and the lifelesnesse that she was under is removed, so that now she is acting faith, and there is a presence o [...]grace making her active and lively, even under this withdrawing: The thing then which is wanting, is a sensible manifestation of Christ's love to her, which now upon her yielding to open, she expected to have been [Page 279] filled with, as a wife opening to her husband should expect his embracements, and yet in place thereof, find that he were gone: This withdrawing is no real alteration on Christ's side, nor are we to look upon it as if now she had lesse than before she believed and bestirred her self; for, her union with him, and the influence of his grace on her remained: But, 1. She missed that comfortable and sweet sense of love that she expected from him; that was kept up. 2. She was then more sensible that he was provoked, and found that her peace was not so well grounded, which formerly she pleased her self with, as she conceived. 3. Upon this also follow­ed some kindly exercise, whereby Christ might make his dissatis­faction known, as a husband doth his, by his withdrawing; so that although interest be not disputed, and the heart be kept in the exercise of duties, yet disquietnesse may grow above what it was: and Christ wisely times this sense of his absence now, with the pre­sence of his grace, because she might both better endure it, and it would also be more profitable thus to chasten her now, than if he had done it in her dead condition. Hence, Observe, 1. That believers, in the lively exercise of faith and duty, may have many moe exercises, and sharper spiritual dispensations, than they had formerly in their security. 2. Christ hath a peculiar way both of presence with, and absence from his own. 3. Often believers when they are in the exercise of faith and duty, expect satisfying manifestations of Christ to their sense; for, it is supponed here, that she looked for him this way, when she opened. 4. Sometimes Christ will keep up the sense of his love, and withdraw himself from his own, even when in the exercise of faith and duty. 5. Christ's withdrawing is not alwayes an evidence of the worst frame, even as his presence doth not speak out his satisfaction every way with his peoples condition, but these are often acts of Soveraignty, timed according to his good pleasure; for, she is now in better case than formerly, and yet he is withdrawn and gone. 6. Christ by his withdrawing may be chastning for some former sin or disrespect, done to him before the believer became lively, who yet for good ends did suspend the taking notice of that sin, till he was in a frame to bear it, and profite by it. 7. Christ's withdrawings ought to be observed by his people, as [Page 280] well as other pieces of their own experience: It's profitable to know what he doth, as well as what they do themselves. 8. There is a great difference betwixt faith and sense; yea, betwixt clear­nesse of interest, and sensible presence, the one may be in a great measure, where the other is not, as in this case here. 9. It's the exercise of faith in Christ, that makes his absence to be discerned: (for that is not known here, till the door be opened) And the more lively a person be in the exercise of grace, the more will Christ's absence be marked and regrated; whereas in a belie­ver's secure frame, or in a person still unacquainted with Christ, his absence is not discerned nor laid to heart. 10. Although sense be not satisfied, yet believers should not disclaim their faith when it is real, but acknowledge that they do believe, and open to Christ when they do it: So it is here, I opened, or yielded by faith to him, even when he was gone, and I could not find him.

What effect this disappointment had upon her part, follows, my soul failed when he spake: This effect is sad and heavy, the sense of her sin, and the apprehension of her grieving of him, kindled by love to him, pierceth and stoundeth her so to the heart, that it becomes almost lifelesse: So the word is used, Gen. 42. 28. of Iacobs sons, when they found the money in their sacks mouths, they were sore afraid, and their hearts failed them, or, went out of them; It's a surprizing unexpected heavinesse, and that in a high degree, holding forth, how de [...]ply believers will be affected, when disappointed of the expected presence of Christ, and that by their own guilt: The cause or occasion of this failing of heart, is in these words, when he spake, which look to the time past, though the effect was present; and they may be two wayes un­derstood, 1. As being a remembring how it was with her while he spake (for now he speaks not) she now observes, and calls to mind, that when he called and she shifted, yet even then her heart was affected with his word, and this smites her now, that she should have so long smotherd so much kindnesse, and have brought all this upon her self; It's like that of the Disciples, Luk. 24. 32. who after Christ was gone, say one to another, Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and opened up to us the Scriptures; though before they little heeded it, yet after­ward [Page 281] they observe, and when they recollect themselves, it be­comes more distinct than it was in the time. 2. It may be lookt on as being the present effect of the words formerly spoken, which although they did not so sensibly affect her when he spoke them, yet now being brought to her remembrance (as, Ioh. 14. 26.) they pierce her, that she should have slighted and neglected them, as, Matth. 26. when Peter is admonished, the word for the time affects not, but afterward, vers. 75. when he remembers it (as challenges brings back words formerly spoken) he went out and wept bitterly; So her resentment of what she formerly slighted is now bitter. Obs. 1. The time of Christ's absence is a time when by-gone challenges, or challenges for by-past offences, use to re­cur. 2. Often believers when brought through a secure fit, will find some stirrings and effects of the grace of Christ to have been in them, even then, which were not so discernable to them while they were under their distemper. 3. Christ's word may have ef­fects long after it is spoken and heard; yea, a word long since heard, may be an after-remembrance (being brought again to mind by the Spirit) Ioh. 14. 26. and have operation more than at first; or, although for a time it have had none at all, but may be as seed under the ground, till the Spirit blow on it to bring it above, yet, afterward by the the Spirit's influence, it may have many blessed effects. 4. There is nothing that will affect a graci­ous soul more, than to misse Christ's presence, when the disap­pointment hath been procured by it's own sin, if it be but a with­drawing for a time, that will make the hearts of his own even to fail, but O! if it be eternal, by reason of sinners constant slighting of him now in the offers of his grace, what desperate anguish will it produce? And there is none that slights Christ's call now and puts him away, but one time or other it will be heavy to them and cost them dear. 5. It's a kindly thing, when a believer misses Christ, and wants presence, to be affected with it; and it's unkindly to discern absence, and not to be affected. 6. Repen­tance where it's kindly, or right heart-sorrow will have it's con­tinuance and growth from one degree to another: This failing of heart is a continued, but a further step of the moving of her bowels, vers. 4. 7. Although interest in Christ be clear, and matters [Page 282] otherwise not in an evil case, yet want of Christ's presence for the time, and the remembrance of by-gone guilt, will be a very sad exercise to the believer, and affect his heart very much.

This is a sad posture, yet she gives not over, notwithstanding of this or any following disappointments, till she obtain the holy design she drives: Where faith and love are exercised together, for attaining Christ, nothing will scar nor discourage the soul in it's pursuit of him. Her carriage follows in four steps (whereby she endeavours to recover him) with the successe that she found in each of them. 1. She gives private diligence. 2. She applyes her self to publick Ordinances, vers. 7. When that also fails, she, 3. betakes her self to the exercise of mutual fellowship with the daughters of Ierusalem, and seeks their help, vers. 8. and at last rests on the exercise of faith in him, Chap. 6. 3. Her secret pain­fulnesse, with the fruit thereof, is set down in two steps, in the rest of this verse, 1. I sought him, that is, painfully used all means to meet with him, as one searcheth earnestly for what he wants; so the word is taken, Prov. 15. 14. It shews her seriousnesse as to the end, and also her holy solicitude in the manner of pursuing it: But (saith she) I found him not, he was now obtained, but she con­tinueth still under the want of the sensible manifestations of his presence. Again, the 2. is, I called him, that is, prayed to him, but (saith she) he gave me no answer, that is, I had no sensible ease, and return of prayer; though the prayer was not altogether unheard; for, her continuing to seek after him, shews that she was answered with strength in her soul, Psal. 138. 3. There was sustain­ing-grace even then, though there were not the soul-satisfying and comforting inlargements, or sensible embracements of Christ, and his warm-speaking of peace to her heart, which she aimed at; and the greatnesse of her bensil after these, makes her think that she had received no answer at all. It's in sum, as if a wife, by search and running to and fro, did seek her husband, and when that suc­ceeds not, she calls him by his name: So did she leave no mean unessayed, but did not obtain what she sought. Which shews, 1. That God often blesseth want of sense to a believer, to be a spur to much diligence. 2. When desertions are most sensible, then ought the believer to be most diligent in the use of all [Page 283] means, especially of prayer, for an outgate. 3. There may be much life in duty, even then when there is little sense and satis­faction as to the event; there is here seeking and calling on him, though she found him not, and he gave her no answer. 4. It's a blessed heart-sorrow that vents in diligence and prayer to God for his presence. 5. The remembrance and resentment of our by-gone wrongs to Christ, should not so affect, as to scar us from him, but should presse us to seek to be again in his company; otherwise, if we scar at him, or bide away from him, because of the sense of guilt, it will be the mending of one fault with ano­ther: It's ever best reckoning our own guilt, when he is present. 6. Christ's presence is the only cordial that can satisfie a soul, fainting under the sense of the wrongs it hath done to Christ: therefore when her heart fails, she sits not down under it for ease, but seeks and calls for himself and his own presence. 7. There may be much seeking and prayer, which may be so indeed, and ac­cepted of by God, and yet his comfortable presence be kept up, and the particular sought-for suspended. 8. Often the having of our eye in prayer upon one particular (suppose upon one com­fort) may make us construct our prayers, to have lesse of an an­swer than they have, whileas indeed they are not fruitlesse, but may be answered in other things, which we do not observe. 9. The Lord may deny comfort when it is sought, and yet shew his grace in sustaining his people, and quickning them to follow him in their duty, when they in the mean time may take it for a sort of refu­sal, 2 Cor. 12. 9, 10. It is ever good for believers to reflect on their duty, and on the successe of it, whatever it be; and that not in one step only, but in the whole tract of their way. 10. If we compare this with her former carnally easie and secure condi­tion, vers. 2, 3. we see, that sensible desertion, when a believer is holily active under it, is no ill condition; comparatively it's bet­ter with her now when she is swounding and fainting without Christ, than when she did ly still carelessly without him; grace is working more actively now (as from vers. 4. is clear) and she is nearer unto him, and hath much more solid ground of peace than she had at that time.

Vers. 7.‘The watchmen that went about the City found me, they smote me, they wound­ed me, the keepers of the walls took away my vail from me.’

When private means do not the businesse, the Bride betakes her to publick Ordinances, and frequents them: And this 7. vers. shews what she found in the use of that mean, a sad disappoint­ment also, which is several wayes aggreged: Christ's presence is easily lost, but it is not easily recovered; This will cost much pains, and the enduring of many perplexing disappointments: It is much more difficult to win to injoy Christ, than it is to lose him: Lying on the bed in ease may bring on that, which much la­bour and watching will not remove.

That this verse points at her going about the publick Ordinan­ces, the scope makes clear, that being the next ordinary mean used for enquiring after an absent Christ, when private diligence hath had little successe. The matter of the words, as was cleared in Chap. 3. 3. doth also evidence this; The Church is the City which hath walls (that is, the Ordinances) for preventing her hurt, and promoving of her edification: The watchmen are her Ministers, appointed and designed to keep the walls, and to go about the City: They are said to go about the City, in respect of their care and solicitude to prevent inward difficulties and hazards, and are called keepers of the walls, as they stand to repel what from without may disturb the Churches edification, and ecclesiastick peace: In a word, they are the same by office, that these were, Chap. 3. 3. but their carriage to her is more unlike the relation they stood in: Which is set forth in four steps, all which are to be looked on as a special piece of untendernesse in them, and of suffering in her; which now the Lord in his wisdom permits her to meet with, that so she may find how unwisely she had done to neglect Christ's kind call, vers. 2. when as now other hands deal [Page 285] more roughly with her: The reasons hinted, Chap. 3. 3. do con­firm this; beside, there being so much spoken of their wounding of her, either she or they must be wrong; Now she is (for the main) in her duty, and under a fainting condition, seeking after Christ, and there is no warrand to wound a poor seeker of Christ in such a condition, even where there have been former failings, (2 Cor. 2. 7. The Apostle will have the incestuous person in such a case tenderly dealt with, lest he should be swallowed up) but it's duty rather to bind up their wounds, and to pour oyl into them, by speaking a word in season to such weary souls. This was, no doubt, their duty, and the Lord himself doth so, Isa. 50. 4. Nei­ther could her former security be a ground to reach her such blows now, especially her offence being betwixt Christ and her their alones, and so no object of publick reproof; and she being a burthen to her self, ought not to have been made more heavy by them: Beside, Chap. 3. 4. the watchmen dealt more tenderly with her, when yet she had been in security also. This dealing of theirs cannot be to speak a word in season to the weary soul of a tender person, whose carriage is so convincing even to others, that vers. 9. they give her a high commendation, which is a clear testi­mony against the malignity of these watchmen; they must there­fore be lookt on as untender, or unskilful, or both, who do thus misapply the Word contrary to the end for which it is appointed, and as miserable comforters talk to the grief of such as he hath wounded. The first step is, They found me: It is not the finding of a friend, as Chap. 3. 3. but (as the effects clear) the finding of an enemy, and is as if a Minister should digresse of purpose, to take in the case of some poor tender soul, that he might reach it a blow, though beside his Text: Thus, Ezek. 34. 21. The Idol­shepherds (who it may be, had a true external call) are said to thrust with the side and shoulder, and push all the diseased with the horns: And, vers. 4. to rule with force and cruelty: And in Ezek. 13. 20. they are said to hunt the souls of God's people: A part of which cruelty and oppression, is vers. 22. in making the righteous sad: This is their finding, a seeking occasion to load them with bitter invectives, and reproaches. It's observable also, that here at the very first finding they hurt her, without so much as suffe­ring [Page 286] her to tell her own case, as she did to the watchmen, Chap. 3. 3. So that without taking notice of her condition, they presently fall upon her; which saith, that in their smiting her, they did not respect her case. 2. They smote her, that is, more gently at first; however, they suffer no occasion to slip, whereby they have any accesse to give a wipe to such heart-exercised souls, but it's laid hold upon; and what infirmity is in any of them, or inconsiderat­nesse in their zeal, that is casten up, and often somewhat of lesse moment is much aggreged. The word takes in also wronging with the tongue, Ier. 18. 18. Come, let us smite Ieremiah with the tongue: and it's like, by the words following in that verse, the prophane Priests had no little accession to it. 3. They wound her: This is a further step, and imports such a smiting as continues till the person be wounded, denoting a higher degree of cruelty, such as is the persecuting of these whom God hath smitten, and talk­ing to their grief, Psal. 69. 26. which will exceedingly wound a tender exercised soul, who is soon affected; and the Psalm espe­cially points at Iudas, who, Ioh. 12. 4, 5, 6. was ready to con­demn the holy zeal of an honest soul, which our Lord vindicats and leaves on record to her eternal commendation. 4. The last step is, They took away my vail from me: The word that's rende­red vail, comes from a root that signifieth to subdue, it's that fame word which we have, Psal. 144. 2. who subdues the people, &c. It had a threefold use, 1. For decorement, as Isa. 3. 23. 2. For a sign of modesty, pleaded for by the Apostle, 1 Cor. 11. 6. 3. And mainly, for a sign of womens subjection to their own husbands; for which cause Rebekah puts on her vail, when she meets Isaac, Gen. 24. 65. And therefore it's called power, as being the sign of the wifes being under the power of her husband, 1 Cor. 11. 10. Here, her vail is the tendernesse of her profession, whereby in a decent, modest and humble way, she profest her self to be a be­liever, seeking after Christ Jesus, as one bearing the b [...]dge of sub­jection to him as her husband. The taking away of the vail, is their wronging of that honest profession she had, and the giving of her out, not to be that which she profest her self to be, and so not worthy of a vail; but that her profession was hypocrisie, her painfulnesse and tendernesse, conceitinesse, even as Iudas, Joh. 12. 5. [Page 287] nicknames that good work wrought upon Christ by that honest woman, calling it wastry: And by these and such other means, often tender souls are affronted, and proposed as a reproach to the multitude; even as if a wife that is chast, were denuded of her vail, and reputed as an gadding harlot, while she is seeking her own husband: So when the Lord threatens his people, that their le [...]d­nesse should be made to appear, he useth this expression, Ezek. 23. 26, 27. They shall stripe thee out of thy cloaths, &c. that being a manifest shame to a woman, that should be covered, 1 Cor. 11. 6. This is added, to shew that they pretend they have reason for their smiting: They disgrace her, and take away her vail, that they may not be thought to smite holinesse or tendernesse, but a hypocrite under such a vail, or a whore more decently adorned than became her to be.

This is the sum, when I prevailed not in privat diligence, I frequented the publick Ordinances; but these who were watch­men and healers by office, being untender (as if they had intend­ed it) did by malice, or want of affection, or through unskilful­nesse and want of experience, so apply the word, that they sowed pillows under the arm-holes of the prophane, and made the righ­teous sad: Whereby I was not only nothing profited, but re­turned more weighted and ashamed, and had no encouragement to seek any more of their help, as I had done, Chap. 3. 3. but was necessitat to turn to others: Which shews, that she accounts them untender, and therefore, sets it down here as a piece of her sad tryal; whereas, had it been the wounding of a friend, it had been a kindnesse to her, Psal. 141. 5. and would have ingaged her to fol­low on for healing from that same hand, so far would it have been from being the matter of her complaint, neither would it have been complained of by her.

These words afford many such doctrines, as, Chap. 3. 3. As, 1. The visible Church is a distinct incorporation by it self, and all it's members have right to it's priviledges, to wit, such whereof they are capable: It's the City, and they are the Citizens, Eph. 2. 19. 2. Its a City that is not without fear and hazard, though it have walls; but it had need to be watched both within and without: Or, the visible Church hath many enemies, she is in [Page 288] constant war: Hence therefore, is she called the militant Church; and for this cause, she hath walls and watchmen. 3. The Lord hath provided her with sufficient means against all assaults. 4. A lawfully-called ministery, or watch-men peculiarly defigned for that end, are the great mean Christ hath appointed for preventing the hurt, and promoving the good and edification of his Church, Eph. 2. 12, 13. They are as the sentinels, which he hath set on the walls for giving advertisement and warning; and this well becomes their office, Isa. 62. 6. Ezek. 3. and 33. Chapters, and elsewhere. 5. Tender believers will put a great price upon publick Ordinan­ces, even when they seem to themselves to come little speed in their privat duties; privat diligence furthers publick, and pub­lick furthers privat: These two ought not to be, neither will they, be separat in a tender person, but go together. 6. Tender believers may have weights added to their exercise, and a load put above a burden, even by these whose stations and relations call for much more sympathy and healing. 7. Publick Ordinan­ces may be sometimes unfruitful to believers, even when they have great need, and are under great sense of need. 8. When one that is tender gets no good nor ease by publick Ordinances, often there is an addition made to his burden thereby. 9. Untender, unskilful and unfaithful men may creep in, and be admitted to the ministery, and to watching over the Church, as Iudas was. 10. When such are gifted, and (as to order) lawfully called, they are truly ministers, though not true ministers, and have authority for discharging of all duties; and duties discharged, or Ordinan­ces dispensed by them according to Christ's warrand, are valide, and the word from their mouth, is to be received as from him; Therefore they are called watchmen, which imports them to be really in office, which could not be if the former assertions were not true. 11. Very often, tender believers in their exercises, suffer much from such ministers: Or an untender minister, is often a great affliction to tender exercised believers; yea, of all men, these prove most sadly afflicting to them; no man wounds godlinesse more, or wounds and affronts the profession thereof more in them that are the most real and tender professors, than a gifted untender minister may do, and often doth; though some­times [Page 289] the Lord will make use of him for their good, to humble them, yet more to provoke them to the study of more serious­nesse in secret duties, and to more closse and constant waiting on the Lord himself. 12. Where enmity against godlinesse once a­riseth and vents it self against the godly, it often grows from one degree to another, as here; Men, especially Ministers once ingaged in it, are not easily recovered and brought out of that evil, but are carried, yea, often hurried from one step to another: yet, she accounts them watchmen, as holding out the respect she bare to their office, even then: Whence observe, 13. That it is a piece of spiritual wisdom and tendernesse, to distinguish care­fully betwixt the office of the Ministery, or the Ordinance it self, and the faults and untendernesse of persons, who may miscarry in the exercise of that office; and not to fall from the esteem of the Ordinance because of them, or of what faults may be in them, but even then to respect the Ordinance out of respect to Christ, and his institution and appointment. 14. Believers would ob­serve the fruit of publick Ordinances, as well as of secret diligence, as the Bride here doth.

Vers. 8.‘I charge you, O daughters of Jeru­salem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him that I am sick of love.’

When this mean fails her, she gives not over, but betakes her self to the use of mutual fellowship with the Saints (which is the third step of her carriage) v. 8. that she may have their help for recovering of Christ's presence: She propounds her case to them, and presseth for their bearing burden with her; Her case is in the last words, I am sick of love: a strange disease, yet kindly to a be­liever: This sicknesse implyes pain as of a woman in travel, whose showres are sharp, and pangs vehement till she bring forth: The same word is used to this purpose, Isa. 26. 17. Like as a woman that draweth near her delivery, is in pain, &c. And it imports in this place, these two, 1. Vehement desire after Christ, from ar­dent. [Page 290] love to him, so that she could not indure to want him. 2. Much heart-affectednesse following upon that ardent desire, which (under her former disappointments) did beget such pain and fainting, that it was as a sore sicknesse, though not danger­ous; This sicknesse differs from that spoken of, Chap. 2. 5. as the scope shews: That is like the pain procured by an overset of the stomack, so the sense of his love being let out in a very great mea­sure, was like to master her; not that sense of his love is simply or in it self burdensome, but she is weak like an old bottle, or a queasie and weak stomack that cannot bear much: But this is like the pain that proceeds from hunger, and a strong appetite, when that which is longed-for is not obtained, which augments the de­sire, and at last breeds fainting and sicknesse. This shews, 1. That love to Christ where it is sincere, is a most sensible thing. 2. That the moe disappointments it meets with, in seeking after sensible manifestations of Christ, it grows the more vehement. 3. That continued absence to a tender soul, will be exceeding heavy and painful; hope deferred makes the heart sick, especially when the sweetnesse of Christ's presence hath been felt, and his absence di­stinctly discerned. 4. That Christ's presence is the souls health, and his absence it's sicknesse, have else what it will. 5. That love to Christ will sometimes, especially after challenges and disap­pointments, so over-power the soul, that it cannot to it's own sense (at least) act under it, or sustain it (it seems so heavy a bur­den) as sicknesse will do to the body, if it get not an out-gate.

The way she takes to obtain Christ after all other means fail her, is by making her application to the daughters of Ierusalem: Indeed it's Christ, and not they that can cure her, he is the only medicine for a sick soul; therefore, her design is not to rest in their company, but to make use of it for obtaining his company: For, the company, although it were even of Angels, will not be satisfying to a soul that seeks Christ, the best fellowship is empty without him, Ioh. 20, 12. 13. Why weepest thou? (say the Angels) Why? (saith she) they have taken away my Lord. In this consi­der, 1. The parties she betakes her self to, the daughters of Ieru­salem, spoken of chap. 1. 5. Professors not of the worst stamp; yet (as after appears) under much ignorance of Christ, and of spiritual [Page 291] exercise: This is the mean she goes now unto. Where observe, 1. Spiritual communion amongst professors or believers, is not only a duty, but a special mean, being rightly made use of, to further our fellowship with Christ. 2. Believers in their sad cases, may, and ought freely to make use of this mean, by desiring others help; and for their own case and furtherance in meeting with Christ, by communicating their case to them, as she doth here. 3. Even the strongest believers (whom the Bride repre­sents) may be helped by these, that are much weaker than them­selves in gifts, grace and experience; as the daughters of Ieru­salem are here: And so Paul often requires of others, inferior to, and much short of him, the help of their prayers. Consider, 2. her desire to them, Tell him (saith she) I am sick of love, make my case known to him, and hold it up by prayer: She had been doing so her self, and had not come speed, and therefore she puts them upon it, that they might help her to obtain an an­swer. Obs. 1. That prayer for one another, is a duty of mutual fel­lowship, especially for these that are exercised: others should be in that exercise with them, Iam. 5. 17. 2. Believers sometimes will not trust themselves with the opening of their own case to Christ, and will not be satisfied with their own way, but will think others can do it much better. 3. Praying for our selves, and desiring of help from others should go together; Or, it will give most clear­nesse and peace to believers, to desire the help of others, when they have been serious in the use of all means by themselves, as she had been. 4. It sayes, That believers holding up the case of another, will be very acceptable to Christ. And, 5. That there is nothing we can tell Christ, of our own or other folks case, that will be more pleasant to, and taking with him, than this, that we are they who are sick of love to him: This is propounded, as that which may and will be most acceptable to him: what shall ye tell him? (so the words run) these are the best and most acceptable news to him. 6. Such a ca [...]e as love-sicknesse is a good motive, upon which to presse for the help of others pray­ers, and that which may also give confidence to any, to bear such a message to Christ. 7. Believers in their communion with o­thers, would more insist upon their own cases, than on the faults [Page 292] of Ministers, or miscarriages of others: Although she was for­merly smitten by the watchmen, yet this is the great thing she propounds to them. Consider, 3. a qualification, put in her suit to the daughters of Ierusalem; If ye find him: That is, If ye get accesse, which now she thinks her self excluded from. And it imports, 1. That there is a peculiar finding of, and accesse un­to Christ at one time beyond another. 2. That a weak believer may sometimes have much more accesse to Christ, and sensible communion with him, than others of greater parts and experi­ence: She suppones that they might find, while she did not. 3. That when any gets accesse for themselves, then especially they should remember others, and improve their court with Christ, for their good who may be in bonds, and under sad exercise: Then (saith she) when ye get accesse, remember my case: She would share of the fruit of their most warm injoyments. 4. She doth not resent nor envy this, or become jealous of it, but hum­bly submits to be helped by them; Christ will have every one useful to another, and the strongest should not disdain to be in the common of the weakest.

The last thing is the manner of her proposing of it, I charge or adjure you (saith she) which hath the force of an oath pro­posed to others, as if she had sworn them that they should do it: The same charge or adjuration is set down, Chap. 2. 7. and 3. 4. She puts them to it, as they will be answerable. Which shews, 1. Great seriousnesse in her; the matter of Christian-fellowship, and our desiring of the help of others prayers, is no matter of complement, but should in earnest be sought for. 2. She desires seriousnesse in them, in their discharge of this duty: In our pray­ing for others, conscience would be made of it, as seriously as for our selves, and we would beware of superficialnesse and overlinesse in it. 3. Our expressions in our fellowship, especially concerning the most serious purposes, would be suitably serious: A light manner of speaking in serious things, often spills the beauty of them, marrs edification, and diminisheth from the weight of the matters themselves.

Daughters of Ierusalem.

Vers. 9.‘What is thy Beloved more than ano­ther beloved, O thou fairest among Wo­men? what is thy Beloved more than ano­ther beloved, that thou dost so charge us?’

In this 9. vers. is the third part of the Chapter, where the daughters of Ierusalem are brought in speaking: where we may see what effect the Brides serious charge had upon them: It some­way surprizeth and astonisheth them, to see a person convincingly approveable in her carriage, so taken up with that which the most part of the world slights; This makes them think that he whom she asketh for, must be a person beyond ordinary, and in this they conclude right: There is much infirmity in this question (as of­ten many professors are upon the matter really ignorant of Christ's worth) yet some honest-like things (at least) are in it. There is, 1. respect to her as a beautiful and goodly person, even when she was thought little of by the watchmen. 2. Docilenesse, and a de­sire to know. 3. Some suspition of their own knowledge of Christ: And, 4. Ingenuity in seeking help. All which, are good symp­tomes in beginners, and we will see that the question ended well with them, Chap. 6. 1. and it's like was awakened in them by her serious carriage. The return they make to her charge hath in it, 1. The title they give her. 2. The question they propose to her. 3. The rise of it, or that which gives them occasion to ask, and which puts them to it. The title is excellent, O thou fairest a­mong women: It was given to the Bride by Christ himself, Chap. 1. 8. It implyes, 1. A spiritual beauty in her who now was thought little of by the watchmen, and had her own crosses in the world, yet even in this case lovely in her self, and lovely to these daugh­ters. Observe, 1. That believers should be eminently convin­cing, and commendable in their carriage even before others; [Page 294] They should be fairest among them, and for spiritual beauty con­spicuous, as lights shining in a dark place. 2. Grace when seriously in exercise, is that which makes any person (though outwardly mean and contemptible) truly beautiful and lovely; It makes them so really, and also in the eyes of all spiritual beholders. 3. Sometimes God will make honest seekers of him the more lovely to others, when corrupt Ministers seek most to defame them; The watchmens wounding her, marrs not the daughters estimation of her; and this shews that they did smite her with­out reason. Again, 2. It implyes respectiveness on their part, and also honesty; for, there is now no external thing to commend her to them: Which saith, 1. That to the spiritual eye of honest souls, none will be so beautiful as the person that is holy; yea, sometimes holinesse will have a commendation in the consciences even of them that are strangers to it. 2. Often holinesse may be more esteemed of, and holy persons more respectively dealt with, by men of little either knowledge or profession, than by these who may be much more knowing, and whose station and place calls them to be more tender: The Bride here is like the wounded person, Luke 10. 31, &c. whom the Samaritan succoured, when both the Priest and the Levite had passed by him. 3. Where grace shines, it would be highly esteemed of and respected; and such as are but babes in Christ, ought much to reverence these that are of older standing. 4. Tender souls when under exercise, if we can do no more to ease them, would be respectively spoken unto at least: These daughters do not wound the Bride, as the watch­men did, but speak discreetly and respectively to her, although they can further her little. 5. The right use of freedom, and se­riousnesse with humility in mutual fellowship, is a great help to entertain mutual respect amongst professors; when the weak see the strong ones not puft up, but condescending to take their help, it will conciliat love and respect: Thus the daughters meet the Bride here with respective carriage. 6. Respective expressions of one professor to another, with gravity and seriousnesse, becomes Christian-fellowship well; and is a great furtherance of edification and mutual confidence: So we see here, and Chap. 6. 1. as also in the Brides expressions preceeding.

[Page 295] 2. The question propounded by them is, what is thy Beloved? as scarce knowing him, or acquainted with him themselves: It is not spoken out of disdain, but out of desire to know, being con­vinced that there behoved to be some excellency in him, beyond others, as the following effects clear. The question is proposed by way of comparison, and doubled, What is thy Beloved more than another beloved? or the beloved of another? By beloved, all alongst is understood that which the soul loves and cleaves unto; There­fore Christ is sometimes designed by the one name, the souls love; and sometimes by the other, the Beloved; as we may see by com­paring Chap. 3. 1, 2, 3. with Chap. 2. 16, 17. because he eminently and above competition had the Brides heart. By other beloveds are understood these things that men of the world set their love and affections upon, and which bears most sway with them, as that which in a singular manner their soul loveth; the same that or­dinarily are called Idols, because they are put in Gods room; There is the same reason here, why they are called other beloveds, and strange lovers else-where: Such are the belly, Phil. 3. 19. the world, 1 Joh. 2. 15, 16. Love not the world, nor the things of it, &c. the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life: So it's as if they had said, There are many things which the men of the world seek after, it's none of all these that this Bride is enquiring for, she rests not satisfied with these, nor valueth them; He must then be some excellent person, a singular and non-such Beloved that she is so serious in the enquiry after, and therefore they desire to know from her self what he is. The question is doubled as being the result of a serious desire to know, and of high admiration, what he might be who was thus enquired for.

3. The words added, shew what is the rise of her question and wondering, to wit, these, That thou dost so charge us: Every word hath weight, it's thou, the fairest among Women, who certainly can make the best choice. 2. Thou art not only in earnest thy self, but chargest us also. And, 3. Not only thou chargest us, but so vehemently, pressingly and weightily; This, sure, must be some ex­cellent Beloved. This question carrieth in it not so much an en­quiry who is the believers choice, as their desire to know what Christ was indeed, in respect of his real worth, whose Name only [Page 296] (or little more) they knew before; Therefore they say not, who is, but what is thy Beloved? as knowing his Name, but being much ignorant of his worth. Again, it supposeth such a question to be moved by these professors, upon occasion of her exemplary car­riage: And indeed it cannot be told, what thoughts, serious chal­lenges, and exercising questions the convincing carriage of belie­vers will have amongst those with whom they christianly converse; and so it shews, that this seriousnesse in one may put others to it, to question what the matter may be, and through Gods blessing may commend Christ to them in the end, which is the scope.

Obs. 1. There may be some respect to godly persons, where there is much ignorance of Christ himself. 2. Where there is esteem of godlinesse and of these who study it, there is some be­gun inquiry for Christ himself, and it leads on to further, although the beginnings be weak. 3. True tendernesse in beginners ap­pears in nothing sooner, than in respect to these who were in Christ before them; They are now but a-beginning, yet this shews it self in the respect they carry to the Bride. 4. It's no shame for these that are unacquainted with Christ, to inquire for him at such as know him. 5. What Christ is, and the necessity of praying for others, is a suitable subject of discourse in Christian-fellowship; what is Christ? say they to her; and pray for me, saith she to them. 6. Christ's Name may be known to many, to whom his worth is unknown, or but little known, and who are not acquain­ted with what he is. 7. All men naturally have some lust, idol, or beloved, that their affection is set upon beside Christ; It's some other thing, from which he is distinguished, and to which he is opposed. 8. Men lay out their affections liberally upon their idols, and upon these things that their heart cleaves unto beside Christ; They are beloveds, and opposed to Christ, as being that to the men of the world, that Christ is to his own; they are as Gods and Christs to them, they run so mad upon their idols, and are so joyned to them, Hos. 4. 17. men naturally have an high esteem of their idols, as placing some worth in them which is not, and they have a low esteem of Christ, and prefer their idols to him. 9. This mistake is a great cause of Christ's being slighted in the world, that they think other beloveds as good as he, and [Page 297] other lifes as good as the life of holinesse; therefore they go to the farm, plough, market, and make light of Christ, Matth. 22. 4. 10. The questioning of this grand principle of corrupt nature, that Christ is no better than other beloveds, or the inquiring whether he be indeed better than these, is one of the first rises of a souls making forward to enquire for him. 11. The growing of the esteem of Christ in a soul, and the decay of the esteem of all idols (formerly beloveds) go together; as the one stands, the other falls, as the one grows, the other decayes. 12. The right up-taking of Christ's worth, is the great thing that commends Christ to a soul (therefore the Bride describes him afterward) and the through conviction of the vanity of all other things, loos­eth the grips of our affections from them, and makes way for set­ting up Christ more high. 13. The convincing-carriage of a be­liever may stir and raise an exercise in these that formerly were se­cure: And God can make the words of a private humble Chri­stian, the rise of a serious enquiry after Christ in another; Thus her serious charging of them doth so stick to them, as if that word, I charge you, had pierced them. 14. Nothing more adorns the Gospel, and commends Christ, and makes him lovely to others, than the convincing, serious carriage of believers. 15. These who are not acquaint with Christ's worth, or the exercises of believers, are ready to wonder what moves them and puts them to make such a stir about Christ, more than others that live satisfied and contented without him.


Vers. 10.‘My Beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.’

From vers. 10. to the end (which contains the fourth part of the Chapter) the Bride speaks: and (in answer to the daughters of Ierusalem their question) in a sweet, pithy, taking-manner commends her Beloved. She is not long in returning answer to their question, as being fully clear and ready to demonstrate Christ [Page 298] her Beloved his worth above all; and as impatient that any other should be put in competition with him, (especially by the daugh­ters of Ierusalem, whose edification she studies by this to pro­move) instantly she steps in with a large commendation of Christ, (though in few words) whereby, she doth so demonstrate him to be an Object infinitly worthy to be her souls Beloved beyond all others, that Chap. 6. 1. they as convinced yield, acknowledging that her Beloved was preferable to all other beloveds, and that therefore they are ingaged to love and seek him with her.

In this commendation, she, 1. asserts Christ's preferablenesse in the general, vers. 10. 2. She confirmes and illustrates it in particulars, to vers. 16. And then, 3. Vers. 16. sums it up in an universal expression, as being in it's particulars inexpressible. Lastly, Having fully proved her assertion, she resumes the conclu­sion as unanswerable, This (saith she) is my beloved, a singular be­loved indeed, and therefore it's no wonder that I am so serious in pursuing after him, and so sick of love to him, and so much pained at the very heart for the want of him.

The first general in this 10. vers. sets out Christ positively, and comparatively: Do you ask (saith she) what my Beloved is? he is a non-such, an incomparable Beloved, he is white and ruddy, O so lovely as he is in himself! and being compared with all others, he hath the preheminence by far, as being the chiefest among ten thou­sands, By white and ruddy, we are to conceive Christ's qualifica­tions, according to the strain of the Allegory, there being no bo­dily qualification set out here, Christ at that time not being in­carnat, yet even then was he white and ruddy: The due and just mixture of these colours maketh a man lovely, and evidenceth a good complexion of body; so by them in Christ is understood a concurrence of all fit qualifications and excellencies, that may make him lovely to the soul, when by faith looked upon, and taken up; there is sweet beauty and comelinesse, or a comely, beauti­ful sweetnesse that lusters and shines in him, through the excellent qualifications wherewith he is furnished, as the Husband of his Church, that ravisheth spiritual affections far beyond the greatest beauty that can be in the fairest face; for, indeed he is fairer than the sons of men, There is nothing that may make a Mediator [Page 299] lovely but it is here. Again, as if that did not fully set out his amiablenesse, she adds, He is the chiefest among ten thousand: This is a definite great number for an indefinite; In sum it's this, there are many beloveds indeed in the world, but compare them all with Christ, they are nothing to him, without all controversie he is the chiefest, 1 Cor. 8. 5, 6. For, though there be gods many, and lords many (to the world) yet to us there is but one God, and one Lord Iesus; in all the world there is but one Christ. The word used here is, He is the standart-bearer, or it may be rende­red passively, He is standarted above ten thousand; all tending to the same scope: Love ky [...]hes it's [...]ethorick in seeking words to prefer Christ, as having indignation that his precedency and prehe­minence (who is above all things, Col. 1. 17.) should so much as once be questioned: It's like, that in these times the most come­ly persons were chosen to carry the standart, a piece of dignity being thereby put upon them; So then, if all the most choice, comely, and excellent persons in the world were mustered toge­ther, Christ would be preferred eminently and deservedly above them all. Whence, Observe, 1. That Christ is the most lovely and excellent Object that men can set their eyes on, that they can cast their love and affection upon: There is not such [...] one as Christ, either for the spiritual soul-ravishing beauty that is in him, or the excellent desirable effects that flow from him. O what a singular description is it which follows, if it were understood [...]2. Christ is the most singularly excellent Husband that ever was closed with: Under that relation he is commended here, as singu­larly lovely, and loving; It's a most honorable, comfortable, happy, and every way satisfying match to have him for a Husband. 3. Christ's worth in it self is not expressible, and whatever he can be compared with, he doth exceedingly surpasse it. 4. Where right thoghts of Christ are, there is nothing admitted to compete with him, other excellencies and beloveds are in their greatest beauty darkned beside him; he is set up as chief, and they are not to be taken notice of beside him, but to be accounted losse and dung. 5. Christ's absence, when believers are right, will never lessen their esteem of him, but even then believers will be warm and fresh in their love to him, and high in their esteem of him. [Page 300] 6. Neither will the great mistakes of others, shake believers that have a through esteem of Christ's worth, but will rather with holy zeal awake them to commend him the more. 7. As where there is true love to Christ, there Christ will be lovely; so when he is looked on as lovely, that makes the heart to flow and abound with holy rhethorick in commendations of him. 8. True love to Christ, and to others for his sake, will not suffer one to despise the weaknesse of another, but make them rather take occasion from it, to honour him and edifie them so much the more, as the Bride doth he [...]e in answering the question proposed. 9. The more neerly and fully any thing be compared with Christ, though it be otherwise lovely, yet then it will be seen to be nothing, he so infinitly excells all things he can be compared with; and it's ignorance of him that makes other things get such a place in mens affections: but, when once they are set for-against him, he is found preferable, as incomparably chief, for dignity, riches, and satis­faction, or whatsoever is delightsome, desirable and truly excellent, vers. 11, 12, 13. &c.

She passeth from the general, to demonstrat it in par­ticulars, and therein she insists in the following verses. If it should be asked, why she descends into particulars, espe­cially now, considering her deserted case? I answer, for these good reasons, 1. That she might the more fully demonstrat, and the more satisfyingly unfold Christ's worth; For, his worth can­not be soon nor easily told, nor conceived, nor soon believed by others, it needs to be demonstrated, amplified and insisted upon; yet, his worth can bide the tryal: There is no truth may more fully and demonstratively be made out than this, that Christ is a most excellent object of love, and infinitly preferable to all o­thers. 2. This is for the edifying of the daughters of Ierusalem, and in reference to their question, that they might be the more convinced and satisfied anent the incomparable worth and match­lesse excellency of her beloved, she brancheth it forth and insists upon it, that so a deeper impression of it might be left upon their hearts. Obs. 1. There is nothing more useful for the gaining and edifying of others, than to help them to the right uptaking of Christ's worth. 2. That is a great part of the work that should [Page 301] take up Christians in their fellowship together, to be spending their mutual conferences on that subject for one anothers instru­ction. 3. To edifie another, is no diversion from pursuing after him, to souls that love Christ, and would be helped by others to meet with him; This is well consistent with her pursuing after sensible presence for her self, to stay a while instructing them. A third reason of her insisting is, that it's suitable unto, and agrees well with her own sad condition, when he is away, she loves to think and speak of him, and of his lovelinesse, and that gives her some ease. Obs. Where love to Christ is, there will be a delight in speaking of him, and setting out his commendation, even when he is absent; it's a kind of ease to tell over his qualifications when he is absent. 2. It's a good diversion under a deserted con­dition, and a suitable way to an outgate, to be dwelling rather upon the excellency of Christ, than on the comfortlesse aggrava­tions of our own sad condition; this is more honourable to Christ, more edifying to others, and more pleasant to our selves: O, it's sweet to think of him! It's more useful also for confirming of our faith in him, for warming our affections to him, and for keeping the mind stayed in dependence on him for the outgate: Every attribute or property of his, is a cordial to a soul fainting under a deserted case. 4. Her insisting on this subject, shews the nature of true love to Christ, that a soul affected with it, being once en­tered to speak of this theme or subject (namely the excellency of Christ) it expatiats in it, and is not soon withdrawn from it: This (to say so) is the very native element of it, and it doth the heart good to enumerat, and tell over distinctly the commen­dable qualifications and excellencies of Christ: all which (being his own) are unspeakably delightsome and refreshing to reckon: If there were any good measure of love to Christ in mens hearts, they would not be easily withdrawn from meditating on him, nor from speaking of him; and the great haunt that other things have in our heart, and the rarity of any expression that tends to Christ's commendation, shews plainly that there are (alace!) o­ther beloveds abounding with us beside him.

In opening of the following particulars, we would consider, 1. The scope, which is to demonstrat, that Christ Jesus is alto­gether [Page 302] lovely and desirable beyond all other things, that the hearts of men are set upon; The question proposed, vers. 9. and the closing answer to it, vers. 16. makes this clear. This then being the scope, these particulars must be so taken up, as they best contribute to clear this scope, and so must necessarily imply the excellencies that are in Jesus Christ; The Mediator himself be­ing as the body, and the several qualifications, properties and excellencies wherewith he is furnished, being as the several mem­bers, and parts of that body. Now, seing Jesus Christ is so ex­cellent himself, and these being instanced as the choice excellen­cies that are in him, they must needs be exceeding and passing excellent, as the aggreging and heightning of every commendation doth shew: There will be need therefore of much sobriety, holy admiration and reverence, in the opening of them, lest we spill so excellent a subject as is the transcendent excellency of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2. That the Spirit intends by these parts, distinct considerations of Christ's lovelinesse in so many distinct particu­lars, seems also to be without all question; for, the particular enumeration is brought in to demonstrat this general, that he is the chiefest among ten thousand, which is done (as it were) by an induction of so many commendable things that are in him: Beside in other Scriptures, and especially, Rev. 1. 13, 14. where our Lord is thus considered, and also in the second and third Chapter of that book of the Revelation, particular respect is had to the foresaid description, and these parts are there (being equivalent to them that are here mentioned) expounded of di­verse attributes and properties of his, and not unlike in many things to the description following, as the particulars will clear. Consider, 3. that it is both difficult and dangerous to be perem­ptory in the application of these particulars to the object describ­ed, it being so exceeding glorious, and the Spirits expressions so very comprehensive, we dar not so limit the words to one thing, as if they were exclusive of another, nor say this is meant and no other thing; although such and such things as have a necessary connexion with the scope to confirm it, may warrantably be in­cluded, and for instances pitched upon, especially when from the Analogy that is in the expressions which are borrowed, and from [Page 303] other Scriptures, we have some ground to fix upon: but to be sure, the words would be so taken up as they best afford the most solid general doctrines, which are sometimes (because of our darknesse, and to prevent our curiosity) to be rested in; for, whatever be meant, it's Christ, and he by these commendations is set forth as most excellent: That all these are to describe a di­vine person, and no humane body, we conceive so clear that it needs no advertisement. 4. All these parts hold him forth, not only as excellent in himself, but as lovely to his people, and as making up their priviledge and happinesse in having an interest in him to be theirs; and therefore as this is the scope, so it's to be applyed as setting out his excellency, and the blessednesse of all that have him for theirs; as on the contrary, to cry down all be­loveds of the world, of whom these things cannot be said, for they are singularly peculiar to him.

Vers. 11.‘His head is as the most fine Gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a Raven.’

There are ten parts mentioned, that are brought in as proofs of Christ's singular excellency, each of them almost having a double commendation: two of them are in the 11. verse. The first is, his head, the most eminent part of the body; that fur­nisheth influence and direction to all the rest: It may signfie (if we dar adventure) these three in Christ, 1. His Godhead, which is the most eminent nature of Christ's person, sustaining the other, and furnishing it for it's offices; Thus, 1 Cor. 11. 3 as the head of the woman is the man, in respect of his dignity; so the head of Christ is God, as the Godhead dwells in him bodily, Col. 2. 9. by a won­derful and unspeakable personal union, the like whereof is not to be found in any other. 2. It may hold out Christ's headship, or soveraignty which he hath as Mediator, being made head of the body, the Church, and over all things for the Church, Eph. 1. 12. and his instalment into this office, is the rise of all the other com­mendations that follow, which are as parts thereof: Thus Nebu­chad-nezzars [Page 304] soveraignity, as being a King of Kings, is set out by a head of Gold, Dan. 2. 32, 38. 3. It may signifie the qualifi­cations, wherewith he, as head to the body, is furnished for it's be­hove and good: So he is an excellent head, for contriving of what is for the good of the body, and for furnishing life and mo­tion to all his members; Thus, Eph. 4. 16. he is the head, from whom the whole body, being fitly compacted together, doth make in­crease of it self in love: And to this purpose, a man of a great reach and profound wit, useth to be called a great head. All these agree with the scope, being instances of Christ's excellencies, and also with the commendation following; yet, the first seems most agreeable to the Analogy of head and members, and it is not un­like that Christ's Godhead is begun-at in his commendation; surely it cannot be excluded, seing, in Rev. 1. 14. by his head (as there described) is set forth his eternity, the same nature may well be here understood, though Christ be otherwayes re­presented in the colour of his locks, because here he is described as a lovely Bridegroom, there as coming to judge, as also in Dan. 7. But it must be some excellent thing that is meant, as the com­mendation annexed cleares. His head is as the most fine Gold: In the Original, there are two words indifferently made use of, to signifie God, the first because of it's shining brightnesse and beauty; The second is applyed to it, because of it's solidity and firmnesse; so it runs, his head is Gold of Gold, or Gold and Gold, or fine shining and solid Gold, as if Gold were not enough to set out the excellency of this head: Gold is rich in the quality, so­lid and strong as to the efficacy, (as in chap. 3. 10.) soveraign as to usefulnesse and profitablenesse; It's above other metals, and so in the heavenly Ierusalem, the streets are said to be of pure Gold, Rev. 21. 21. Therefore that dominion of Nebuchad-nezzars, spoken of, Dan. 2. 32. is compared to a head of Gold, for it's excellency a­bove the rest that followed, and especially for the shelter that the Church of God had under it: And this being Gold of Gold, must hold forth such soveraignty, riches of grace, solidity and happinesse, as is unsearchable; Gold cannot reach it, no not Gold raised to the highest worth conceivable.

This first particular may put us to a stand, when (as it were) [Page 305] the Bride is at a stand in the commendation, and must double the word, as Gold, Gold, and it's hard to draw observations from it, yet warrantably this may be said, 1. Christ hath a head (however we take it) that is exceedingly excellent, he is God, and in that re­spect is unsearchable, being the brightnesse of the Fathers glory, and the expresse image of his person, Heb. 1. 3. He, as Mediator, is fur­nished with soveraignty and eminent graces for the good of the body; and these, as they are for their nature most solid and excel­lent, so as to their vertue they are most efficacious and quick­ning. 2. If we take it in general, Obs. That the excellencies wherewith Christ is furnished, are in the highest degree of excel­lency; Therefore it's Gold of Gold, what ever it be, and this general will necessarily infer the former, that he is God and Me­diator, and in such and such offices furnished for the good of his people, and the former doctrine is the proof of this: all Christ's properties, wisdom, love, counsel, &c. are of more than an ordi­nary depth, being in him to the very uttermost, Heb. 7. 25. and without measure, Joh. 3. 34. 3. Christ's excellency is not only lovely in it self, but useful to others; he is not only rich in him­self, but inriching these that possesse him, as Gold doth inrich the owners of it: Christ is a golden possession where there is a well grounded claim to him. 4. Gold and all external riches, are empty things to a spiritual discerner of Christ's worth; as it were, a new sort of Gold must be invented, or imagined, to shadow forth the excellencies of Christ, Gold it self is but an insufficient and dark shadow to represent him; who ever loves Gold, may have (and that freely) the most fine and choice Gold in him. Yea, 5. this is peculiar to him, in opposition to all other be­loveds, mens idols and other beloveds may be gilded, like the whores cup, spoken of, Rev. 17. 4. but Christ only is the golden be­loved; for, this is so attributed to him, as it's denyed to them, which are but clay, or thick clay-beloveds, Hab. 2. 6.

The second thing commended is his locks, which are no essen­tial part of the body, yet are (when lovely) a special decore­ment, and ever have been so esteemed: The signification of locks (being joyned to the head) will be so much the more clear if we consider the commendation given them, which is threefold, [Page 306] 1. They are bushie, or curled, not such as old men have, hairs here and there, but his are bushie, thick and handsome, such as young men in the flower and vigour of their youth use to have. 2. They are black; and that, 3. as a Raven: Black hair in these times and places was comely in men, and betokens strength of youth, and vigour of age, Therefore the same word which is here blacknesse, signifieth youth also in the Hebrew, as Eccles. 11. 10. childehood and youth, &c. So black hair here, is opposed to white hairs, whereby decay is signified (as Hos. 7. 9. by gray hairs on Ephraim, is understood) and thus all other idols gets a dash, as if they were gray haired, decaying beloveds; but Christ is alwise in youth and vigour, He continues alway vigorous, as his love is alway green. They are compared to the blacknesse of a Raven, because that is native black, and lovely beyond other things that are black. As by Christ's head then was signified that which is in Christ (to speak so) most intrinsickly excellent; So here, by locks we under­stand the most extrinsick thing that is in him (if we may say any thing of Christ is so) that is, if any thing seem lesse necessary than another, yet is it in it self excellent, and serves to commend Christ to others. And again, by bushinesse and blacknesse, we understand the vigour and perfection of Christ's lovely and desirable excel­lencies, that as lovelinesse and desirablenesse are in a man, when in his youth, at their height and perfection, so are they in Christ, with all commendable aggravations, as in their very prime and vigour. Gold did set forth the intrinsick worth of Christ's quali­fications, this aggreges it so, that it lifts up that worth to the highest pitch that is conceivable: As a lovely man is yet loveliest in the flower of his age and youth, so it's with Christ, his perfecti­ons are ever in their flower, and never decayes, nor does he ever fail in the exercising of them for his peoples good, Isa. 42. 4. He shall not fail nor be discouraged; and, as Rev. 1. 12. Christ's eter­nity is holden forth by white hairs, so by black hairs is signified his continuing young, vigorous and flourishing (to say so) through all eternity; which serves much to the scope of commending Christ; for, whatever is attributed to him, is in an implyed way denied to all other beloveds: otherwise he were not the chiefest among them, and preferable to them all, which is the scope. [Page 307] Obs. 1. There is nothing for compleating Christ's beauty but it is in him; yea, even these things in him, that are least taken no­tice of by us (though nothing in him be little in it self) they are in themselves, and in their use when discerned, exceeding lovely; his locks, yea, all his garments are so, Psa. 45. 8. There is nothing superfluous, and uselesse in our blessed Bridegroom. 2. What perfections are in Christ (as there are none wanting) they are in him in their perfection: What unspeakable commendation is here? 1. He hath infinite numbers of perfections. 2. All these are rich, like the most fine Gold 3. If there be a season (to speak so) wherein these perfections may be conceived more lovely and shining than another (for in themselves they are ever the same) they are so in our Lord Jesus Christ; It's ever Harvest, Summer and Youth with him; he is that tree spoken of, Rev. 22. 2. which bears fruit alwayes; this Sun is ever at the height, and never goes down: Christ's perfections are continuing per­fections, he is a beloved that never decayes, that never waxeth sick, weak nor old, but is ever in youth with his hair black, al­though he be eternal, and the Ancient of dayes, for all his pro­perties are unchangably in him, and ever agree to him, even now as well as in Solomon's time, and will do so for ever: This is good and very comfortable to his people, Christ fits not up nor fails, his Spouse weeps not for the death, decay, or waxing old of her beloved and husband, which can be said of no other. 3. All other beloveds beside Christ, are decaying beloveds, they evanish and are growing gray-headed; even all this clay-world shall wax old as doth a garment, and the beauty of it shall be stained, and it will become weak, like an old dying harlot with whom many hath gone a whoring; for, if this, to be black and bushy, be pe­culiar to Christ, it cannot agree to them, for, they shall wax old, but he is the same, Psa. 102. 27. which words are peculiarly ap­plyed to Christ, Heb. 1. 10. 4. This continued flourishing of Christ's excellency in it's perfection, doth put Christ superemi­nently above all compare, as having no match amongst all be­loveds; they decay, but he is the same; they are broken cisterns, and can hold no water of comfort, and appear with no beauty at death and judgement, and through eternity they will be as [Page 308] cloaths worn and failed; but, Christ is fresh and vigorous at death to the believer, and will be so for ever: How blessed are they, when they come to eat of the tree of life that never wants fruit, to possesse him who is yesterday, to day, and for ever the same, God over all, blessed for evermore! O the happinesse! the eternal happinesse, that there is in being espoused to Christ, when the breath of all clay-idols and beloveds will be out, and Christ still fresh in the communicating of his fulnesse to his peo­ple! O what a sad heart will many have, who have forsaken this fountain of living-waters, and chosen such broken cisterns to themselves as the creatures are, that have set their heart on that which is not. Prov. 23. 5. and laboured for the wind, Eccles. 5. 16. loading themselves with thick clay, Hab. 2. 6. and have neglected him who gave, and who continues the being of all things, and who then will be, when they will not be found, or have a being! In sum (saith she) my beloved is the golden beloved, others are but of clay and earth; my beloved is in his flower, and youth; other beloveds are decaying, waxing old, and drawing to their grave, therefore is he incomparable beyond them all.

Vers. 12.‘His eyes are as the eyes of Doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk and fitly set.’

The third thing commended in him, is in vers. 12. and it is his eyes, which are several wayes described: Eyes in the natural body are the Organs, whereby we discern external objects; the Lord as he is a Spirit, hath nobody, nor bodily members, but eyes are attributed to him, to hold forth his Omniscience, who having formed the eye, cannot but see, Psal. 94. 9. and therefore eminently is said to see, in opposition to the idols, who have eyes and see not, Psa. 151. 5. This then, sets out our Lords Omnisci­ence, before whom, all things are naked and open, Heb. 4. 3. even the most secret things are open to his view, as if by the most [Page 309] sharp-sighted bodily eye he did behold them, and much more; So, Prov. 15. 3. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good: And, Prov. 5. 21. The wayes of man are be­fore the eyes of the Lord, he knows them, as if he were looking on them with eyes, all things are so naked and discernable to him: This agrees also with that, Rev. 2. 18. where Christ is said to have eyes as a flame of fire: which title, vers. 23. is expounded, (as all these titles throughout these Epistles are) and said to be given him, that men may know that he searcheth the heart, and tryeth the reins,; even the most inward things are fully reached by his Al­seeing eye.

The excellency of his eyes (or Omnisciency thereby pointed out) is held forth under several similitudes, 1. They are as Doves eyes, such as were attribute to the Bride, Chap. 4. 1. that is, eyes that are quick, lovely and loving, having much affection in them to his own. 2. They are, as Doves eyes by the rivers of water, where Doves are most lovely after their washing, or bathing and beeking of themselves at river-sides. 3. They are washen with milk, that is, most clean, white and pure. 4. They are fitly set, or (as the word is) set in fulness, like the stones in Aarons breast­plate, Exod. 39. 10. (where the same word is) signifying that there is no deformity in them, but like curious Jewels, they are most equally and beautifully set, being neither too hollow, nor sticking too far out, which are the two extream deformities in eyes. In sum, it saith, 1. That Christ's knowledge is sharp and peircing. 2. Pure and clean. 3. Pleasant to his people to look on. And, 4. that it's kindly vented, and well qualified for the good of his people, whereby he is made exceeding lovely to them. These notes are sure here, 1. That our Lord Jesus is Omniscient, know­ing all the designes of enemies, knowing all the straits and necessi­ties of his people, he actually takes notice of all these. 2. Christ's Omniscience is one of his chiefest excellencies, that qualifies him for the good and comfort of his people, and doth exceedingly commend him to them above all others: It's a very present com­fort to his people, especially in the time of trouble, that their Beloved knows all, what we are, what we have need of, and what is good for us, and what is designed to our prejudice by any of all [Page 310] our adversaries, and cannot mistake. 3. Christ's Omniscience, though it be terrible to his enemies (so his eyes are as a flame of fire) yet it is very amiable to his people, his eyes to them are as Doves eyes, his Al-seeing knowledge is kindly and comfortable, and exercised for their good (as all his other attributes are) and is still on work for their good and advantage, 2 Chron. 16. 9. His eyes run to and fro throughout the earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them, whose heart is perfect towards him: He takes no­tice of the case of his own, that he may succour them in their wants, as he takes notice of his enemies, that he may disappoint and bring them down. 4. When the eye of the Covenant with Christ is once fastened, these attributes in him which are most terrible to flesh, and to men in nature, are exceeding lovely, and make Christ beautiful to his people, as his Omniscience, Justice, Faithfulnesse, &c. 5. As it is our duty, so it's our advantage to walk under the conviction of Christ's Omniscience, and to con­verse before him with the faith of his beholding what we are do­ing. 6. It's a good evidence of sincerity, when his Omniscience becomes delightsome to us, and when the heart is made glad with this, that Christ knowes the secrets thereof, as Peter speaks, John 21. 17. Thou that knowest all things, knowest that I love thee: It's much to abide Christ's search, as Omniscient, contentedly. 7. All other idols and beloveds are blind, they have no eyes, or though they seem to have, they see not, Psal. 115. 5. that is, they can take no notice of, nor give any succour to, their worshippers: Our Lord's eyes, that are upon his people, make him singularly preferable to all that come in competition with him. 8. It is a singular commendation of Christ's knowledge, that it is pure and holy, that it cannot approve of sin, nor take any complacency in it; for, his eyes are as Doves eyes, by the rivers of waters, washen with milk: He is of purer eyes than that he can behold iniquity, O how doth he delight in purity! and what a strong motive may and ought this to be with his people, to make a covenant with their eyes, that they get not leave to wander and gadd on sinfull objects?

Vers. 13.‘His cheeks are as a bed of Spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like Lilies, drop­ping sweet-smelling Myrrhe.’

The fourth and fifth instances of Christ's lovelinesse, are in this verse. The fourth is, that his cheeks are as a bed of Spices, as sweet flowers: The cheeks being comely, are a special part of the love­linesse of the face: His cheeks are here commended from two things, first, they are as a bed of Spices, that is, like garden-beds furnished with excellent smelling and refreshful Spices: It sets out 1. A proportionable hight of them, as cheeks are in the face, and as beds are higher than the rest of the ground. 2. A precious­nesse and sweetnesse of Spirit-refreshing savour, as such beds use to yield to these who walk in a garden. The second commenda­tion is, as sweet flowers, or as the words may be read, as towers of perfume: It tends to the same purpose, but holds forth an abun­dance of delight, to the spiritual sense of smelling in the believer, when Christ is made the Object of it; O the sweet savour he finds in him! It's fit to be sober here, these excellencies being myste­ries: It's not unlike, that lesser glimpses of Christ's manifestati­ons, whereby he makes himself known, may be understood here; as if she said, he is so lovely, that the least glimpse or wa [...]e of him, when it is seen, if it were but of his cheek, is very delightsome: And this sense may be gathered, 1. From this, that the cheek is a part of the face and countenance, yet not the full countenance; now by seeing his face and beholding his countenance, often in Scripture (and it's like also, vers. 15.) is understood his most sen­sible manifestations of himself to his people; by proportion then the cheeks would hold forth the same, though in a lesser measur [...] and lower degree. 2. It makes well for the scope of commending Christ above all, whose incomparable worth by his manifestations, is much evidenced and confirmed to his people, and when a little glimpse of him doth this, how much more would a full view of him demonstrate it? and indeed such a view doth effectually de­monstrate [Page 312] it to these who have experimentally known the excel­lency that is in him, although others who are unacquaint with his face, do therefore undervalue him, which may be hinted at as a cause of their so doing. 3. This agrees with the commendation, which sets him forth in this as pleasant to the spiritual sense of smelling, and so would imply, that it must be somewhat whereby Christ becomes sensibly sweet and refreshful, as his sensible mani­festations make him more delightsome and refreshing to the souls senses, than towers of perfume are to the bodily senses; There­fore is his love compared to ointment, Chap. 1. 3. and else-where: However, these things are certain, 1. That the least glimpse of Christ's countenance is exceeding refreshful and savory to the spi­ritual senses. 2. That Christ's excellencies are delightsome to all the spiritual senses, to the smell as well as to the eye, ear, &c. the whole soul, and all it's faculties have abundant matter in him, for delighting and refreshing them all. 3. The moe senses be exercised on Christ, and the more sensible (to speak so) he be­come unto us, he will be the more lovely and pleasant; beds of Spices, and towers of perfume in a garden, to them that lye amongst them, are not so savory as Christ is, when the senses of the soul are exercised to discern him.

The fifth thing instanced, is, his lips, The Brides lips were spo­ken of, Chap. 4. 3, 11. and cleared to signifie her speech: By pro­portion they hold forth in him the lovelinesse of his Word, where­in he is especially lovely, in that he magnifies it above all his Name, Psal. 138. 2. and makes it often sweet as the honey and the honey­comb to his people. This may be looked on, 1. as it respects the matter spoken by him, out of whose mouth many gracious words proceeded (while in the flesh) even to the admiration of his hearers, Luke 4. 22. So that upon conviction they say, never man spoke as this man speaks, Joh. 7. 46. Or, 2. It may look to Christ's manner of speaking, and his fitnesse to communicate his mind to his people, (as lips are the organs of speaking) so he hath grace poured into his lips, Psal. 45. 2. that makes all his words gracious, as being formed or anointed by it. Thus it takes in that holy Art, skil and dexterity wherewith Christ is furnished, to speak for the consolation of believer, especially under sad ex­ercises, [Page 313] as it is, Isa. 50. 4. He hath the tongue of the learned, to speak a word in season to him that is weary: Both these in the re­sult come to one; and this being a special piece of Christ's love­linesse to his people, conducing exceedingly to the Brides scope here, and the Analogy being clear, and lips being frequently made use of in Scripture to signifie speech or words, we conceive that they may well be taken to here, especially considering, that all the parts of the commendation will agree well to his words. 1. They are like Lilies, that is, pleasant and savory; so words spoken in sea­son, are often called pleasant and sweet like honey, Prov. 16. 24. yea, they are said to be like apples of gold in pictures of silver, Prov. 25. 11. His words then may well be compared to Lilies. 2. They are not common words, therefore it must not be ordinary Lilies that will set them forth, but they are like Lilies dropping sweet­smelling Myrrhe: such Lilies we are not acquaint with, and nature, though excellent in it's effects, yet comes short in furnishing fit resemblances to represent Christ, and what is in him to the full: These Lilies dropping Myrrhe, signifie, 1. A favorinesse and cor­dial efficacy in the matter, like Myrrhe proving comfortable to these it falls or drops upon. 2. Dropping shews abundance, sea­sonablenesse, and continuednesse therein, so as he still furnisheth such strengthning efficacy and influence, as if it were ever drop­ping, and never dryed up, as the phrase was, Chap. 4. 11. All these agree well, either to Christ the speaker, who never wants a seaso­nable word; or, to the word spoken, which in respect of it's effects, endures for ever. This must be an excellent Beloved (saith she) who speaks much, and never a word falls from his lips, but it's precious and savory, like any cordial to the souls of his people, especially in their fainting fits; and there is ever some good word to be gotten from him, far from the rough speeches that many uses, but O so pleasant and kindly as all his words are! Obs. 1. There is a special lovelinesse in our Lord Jesus words to his people; how much of this appears throughout the 4. Chap­ter of this Song? and what love appears in all his promises? yea, in the titles that he gives his people, every one is (as it were) big with childe of strong consolation to them. 2. Christ's words have a special refreshing efficacy in them, and can comfort, refresh [Page 314] and sustain drooping sick souls; he sends out his Word and it healeth them. 3. These who love Christ himself truly, have also an high esteem of his Word, and are much delighted with that; and where there is little esteem of his Word, there is but little esteem of himself: They who have tasted the sweetnesse of the Word, do highly esteem of Christ himself. 4. The word of Christ is as Christ's own lips, and doth sweetly set out his thoughts of love to sinners; It's good reading of Christ's lovelinesse out of his own Word, and from his own mouth. 5. Where there hath been a sweetnesse felt in the Word, it should be turned over to the commendation of Christ that spoke it, as a proof of the reality of his excellent worth. 6. The Word is never right­ly made use of, though it should fill the head with knowledge, till it be savory to the inward man and spiritual senses; and it's that which makes it lovely, when the vertue and consolation that flowes from it is felt. 7. All the consolations of the Word, they come not out at once, neither can we so receive them, but it drops by little and little in continuance; and therefore daily should men draw from these wells of Salvation. 8. Observe from the scope, that Christ's Word known by experience, will lift and set Christ up in the heart beyond all beloveds; and that the un­acquaintednesse of many with Christ's lips, and the consolations that abound in his Word, makes them so ready to [...]light him, and set up their idols above him. The scope saith further, that she was acquaint with his words, and the refreshfulnesse of them, and in this she is differenced from others. Whence, Observe. 9. that believers are acquaint with the sweetness of Christ's Words, other­wise than any in the world are; Christ is another thing to them, and his Word is so also, than to all the world beside: It's a good sign, where Christ's lips are so lovely.

Vers. 14.‘His hands are as Gold-rings set with the Beryl: his belly is as bright Ivory overlaid with Saphirs.’

The sixth and seventh particulars instanced to commend Christ, are in vers. 14. The sixth is, his hands: The hands are the in­struments of action, as the lips are of speaking: They are com­mended, that they are as Gold-rings, that is, as men or womens hands are adorned with Gold-rings, so his hands have a native lovelinesse beyond these: yet, this commendation (as all the for­mer) answers not fully, therefore it's added, they are set with Beryl: This was a precious stone put in Aaron's breast-plate, Exod. 39. 13. To be set with it, signifies, as preciousnesse, so rare artifice, and such is seen in the right setting of precious stones. By our Lord's hands, may be understood that powerfull activity whereby he is fitted to bring about what he pleaseth, and that power which he exerciseth especially in the works of grace, as on vers. 4. was cleared: Or, we may understand the effects produced by that his power, or his works which are exceeding glorious, as, Psal. 109. 27. That they may know, O Lord, that this is thy hand, that is, that thou Lord hast done it: So his hands sig­nifie such works especially wherein his Divine power, art and skill doth manifest themselves for the good of his people: Both agree well together; for, excellent power and skill produce excellent effects, and excellent effects demonstrat the excellent qualifica­tions of the worker; this being a main piece of Christ's com­mendation, and which doth hold him forth to be exceeding love­ly above all to the believer (which is the scope) may well be taken here as the meaning, especially being subjoined to the com­mendation of his words; for, our Lord Jesus doth not only say well, but also doth well: he is a prophet, mighty both in word and deed, Luk. 24. 19.

The commendation suits with his works, as if there were none of them, but what are adorned (as it were) with excellent Gold-rings, [Page 316] there being much glory, grace, wisdom and skill shining in them all, they are honourable and glorious, Psal. 111. 3. Yea, great and marvelous are the works of the Lord God Almighty, Rev. 15. 4. These are the deserved epithets of his actions: In sum, it is, as if she had said, Ask ye what my beloved is, more than others? If ye saw but a glimpse of the white and red that is in his cheeks, and if ye heard the sweet words that proceed from his mouth, and if ye knew the excellent works which he hath performed, even to admiration, for the good of his people, and how much loveli­nesse appears in all these, ye would (no doubt) say with me, He is the chiefest among ten thousand.

Obs. 1. Christ is an active husband, having hands, and working with them for the good of his Bride: A piece of his work we heard of, chap. 3. 9. in that noble Chariot: He is no idle specta­tor; he worketh hitherto, Joh. 5. 17. 2. All our Lord Jesus his works, are exceeding excellent and beautiful, and when rightly discerned, they will appear wonderful, honourable and glorious, as proceeding from him who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working, Isa. 28. 29. What a curious and excellent piece of work is that Chariot, or the Covenant of Redemption signified thereby, chap. 3. 9? There are many shining well-set Jewels, and Rings upon every finger of his hands: There is nothing that can be done better than what he hath done. The works of Christ in our redemption, do hold forth infinit skill, and gloriousnesse to be in the worker, all of them are so wisely contrived, and exqui­sitly execute. 3. Christ's works do exceedingly endear him, and that deservedly to his people, and do infallibly demonstrate his worth above all beloveds in the world; Who is like unto him? and who can do great works, such as he hath done? This makes heaven to resound with the praises of what this beloved hath done for his people. 4. Believers would be acquaint both with Christ's words and his works, and would be well vers'd in the knowledge of the excellencies that are in them both, that so they may be the more affected with him themselves, and be more able to commend him to others. 5. Where Christ is lovely, all his works will be delightsome: and it's by acquaintance with, and observation of, his excellent works, that the hearts of his people [Page 317] come to take him up, and to be rightly affected with him. 6. As ig­norance of the excellency of Christ's works (especially of the work of Redemption) makes many slight Christ, and prefer others to him (for, she would discover the daughters of Jerusalem their mistake of him, by instancing this amongst other things) so it's a kindly-like thing, to have a honourable esteem of Christ's works in the heart. 7. Although the devil and mens idols seem to pro­mise much to their lovers, when they suit and intice them; yet never one indeed can equal Christ, or compare with him, in re­spect of what he hath done for his Bride; and this sets him up incomparably above them all: His hands, in respect of his mag­nificent works, are adorned, as it were, with Gold-rings; whereas they have hands, but work not for the help and relief of their lovers, Psa. 115. 7.

The seventh part of this demonstration of Christs worth, is from his belly: The word in the Original is the same word, which, vers. 4. is rendered bowels, and we rather use it so here as it signifieth bowels, the native signification of it, as not knowing why it should be altered in this verse; especially considering, that wherever it is attributed to God, it's translated bowels, as, Isa. 63. 15. where is the sounding of thy bowels? and, Ier. 31. 20. my bowels are moved for him: Reading it then thus, his bowels are as bright ivory, &c. The words at the very first, would seem to signifie the intense love and tender affection, wherewith our Lord Jesus (who is full of grace) is filled and stuffed (to say so) for the behove and good of his people, so that no mother is so compassionatly affected towards the fruit of her womb, as he is toward his own. This exposition is, 1. confirmed from the or­dinary signification of the word bowels, when it is applyed to God, as, Isa. 63. 15. and, Ier. 31. 20. and it is borrowed from the affection that mothers have to their children, whose bowels yerns on them, as, 1 King. 3. 26. and so Ioseph was affected to­ward his brethren, Gen. 43. 30. Hence the word, both in the He­brew and Greek, in the Old and New Testament, which is made use of to set forth the Lords tender compassion, flowes from a root that signifieth bowels. 2. The scope will confirm this: for, is there any thing that makes Christ more lovely and admirable [Page 318] than his love? which makes the Prophet cry out, Mic. 7. 18. who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity? &c. because thou delights in mercy; or, is there any other thing that more com­mends him as a beloved preferable to all, than his love? Love in a husband is a special property. Now Christ loved his Church, and gave himself for it, Eph. 5. 25. it is not like therefore, that this is omitted: And, 3. it followes well on the commendation of his works for, and about, his people, as shewing the fountain from whence they proceed; The commendation of this is excel­lent. 1. It is as bright Ivory: Ivory is rarely and singularly pure and pleasant, being made of Elephants teeth: bright, is added, to shew, that it's of the best sort, as all that is in Christ is. 2. It's overlaid with Saphires; that was a stone in Aarons breast plate, and also is reckoned one of the foundation-stones of the new Ierusa­lem, Rev. 21. 19. which shews, that it is very precious, though we know not the particular properties of it: The word overlaid, may be from the Original rendered curiously set, or, enambled: In sum, here, his love is described as most lovely, clean and plea­sant, like Ivory; rich and precious like Saphires; and well or­dered and wisely vented for the good of his people, as bright Ivory curiously enambled with Saphires: His love is a most ex­cellent, curious and pleasant object, the like whereof is not to be found amongst all the beloveds of the world. This verse com­mends Christ's heart and in-side, which is unsearchable as to it's heighth, depth, breadth, and length: It may therefore be hard, and some way hazardous to offer doctrines on, or to form expres­sions concerning, that which passeth knowledge, Eph. 3. 18, 19. the comprehending experimental knowledge of it, will be the best commentary on it; yet these things are clear and safe,

1. There is singular love, affection and bowels in our Lord Je­sus to his people; so singular, that there is none can compare with him in this, no husband, nay nor wife, it passeth the love of women; No tender-hearted mother, and much lesse any idol can compet with him in this; It's inconceivable in it self, and it's wonderful in it's effects. 2. There is nothing that will contri­bute more to make believers see Jesus Christ as admirable in himself, and lovely to them, than the right apprehension of his [Page 319] love: This is the constraining, ravishing, ingaging, and soul-in-ebriating consideration of Christ, the conceiving of him rightly in his admirable love; and they will never esteem of Christ rightly, who discerns not that, it is (as it were) his crown; and the be­lieving of it, is in a sort the putting of the crown on his head: Amongst all his excellencies, none takes the believer more up than his love, and nothing is more remarkable in him than that, and right thoughts of Christ's love is no ill token. 3. Our Lord Je­sus his love and bowels are a rich Jewel when seen, a precious stately sight; bright Ivory overlaid with Saphires is but a small and dark shaddow of it; Christ's love is a possession beyond Jew­els, a very beautiful object to look on, beyond the most excel­lent creature: It's both a wonder and a heart-break that it is so little thought of, and that men are not more delighted in it.

4. Although there be much in many mouths of Christ's love, yet there are few that really knows and believes the love that he hath to his people, 1 Ioh 3. 1. As this is the cause that so few loves him, and why so many sets up other beloveds beside him; so, the solid faith of this, and the expectation of good from him, hath a great ingaging vertue to draw sinners to him, Heb. 11. 6. and for that end it's made use of here. 5. Whatever seeming smiles, idols may give to their lovers, yet will they not prove lovers in the end to them; for, that is proper to Christ, he only hath strong love and bow­els of affection to his own to the end, but other lovers in the end will fail men, Only our Lord Jesus continueth a loving Husband to the end; for, whom he loves, he loves to the end. 6. It is be­yond all peradventure, good and desirable to be matched with Je­sus Christ, where so much honour, riches, power, wisdom, loveli­nesse and love meet all together; for, the scope of this, and of all the rest of the commendations, is to ingage sinners to match with him. 7. There is no cause to be jealous of Christ's love, his people have a most loving Husband, and never a sport or ground of jealousie hath defiled his bowels since the world began, but they to this day are, and will be for ever as bright Ivory. 8. Christ's love is excellent in it self, and is also excellent in the way of it's communicating it self to his people; therefore it's not as Saphires that are confusedly casten together, but that are artificially set; [Page 320] or, our Lord Jesus vents not his love fondly (to speak with reve­rence) or imprudently, but most wisely, skilfully, and seasonably, so as it may be for the good of his people; not as a fond and too indulgent mother, that gives that which is even hurtful because the childe desires it, but as a wise father who gives that which is useful, though it be unpleasant: He guids his love by discretion, and according to expediency, as Ioh. 16. 7. It's expedient for you that I go, and therefore he will go, though they were even made sad with it. 9. Although some pieces of Christ's love, being con­sidered in themselves, seem not so pleasant and lovely, like preci­ous stones not rightly set, yet when all are seen together, and every thing taken up as in it's own place, and proportionably corresponding with one another, and especially in respect of the fountain of love from which they come, they will then (being all lookt on together) be seen to be very beautiful and pleasant and well ordered, like bright Ivory, that is regularly and curiously enambled, or indented with Saphires: The time comes, when Christ's love will be thought to be exquisitly and wisely let out and conveyed, even in these things wherein it is most suspected now by his own.

Vers. 15.‘His legs are as pillars of Marble, set upon sockets of fine Gold: his counte­nance is as Lebanon, excellent as the Ce­dars.’

The eighth and ninth particulars of Christ's commendation, are in vers. 15. The first of them here commended is his legs: The word legs, comes from a root in the Original, that signifieth to walk; and so takes in things and feet, which are also useful in motion. In Scripture, and by Analogy, they are made use of to signifie these two, 1. A mans way in the series of his carriage and deportment, as ordinarily his life is called a walk: So, Eccl. 5. 1. Take heed unto thy feet, that is, to thy carriage; Hence the ini­quities [Page 321] of the heels are spoken of, Psal. 49. 5. to set out mens defects, that cleave to them in their conversation, as their feet leave prints or footsteps behind them in their walking. 2. This metaphor signifieth strength and activity, as Psal. 147. 10. The Lord delights not in the strength of an horse, nor in the legs of a man; wherefore (very probably) Eccles. 12. 3. they are called the strong men, because they sustain or bear up the body: Here be­ing applyed to Christ, we conceive they signifie his way, or admi­nistration of providence, which he useth with his people, it being by his dispensations that he walks amongst them. Hence the series of common providence is so often in Scripture called the way of the Lord, as Ezek. 18. 25. The Lords way is equal, his carriage in his dispensations is still just, opposite to their way, or walk, which is there called unequal: And the dispensation of grace is called a way, Rom. 11. 33. How unsearchable are his judgements, and his wayes past finding out; which take-in the contrivance, and admi­nistration of his grace, as the scope there doth clear. His way is more general and comprehensive than his works, and takes-in these three (for which it is called a way.) 1. His design and end, that he proposeth to himself. 2. His wise and powerful plot in con­triving and applying means suitable thereunto, for bringing it about, especially the principle (to say so) by which he walks and works, to wit, hs wisdom, power and love. 3. His convoy of, and the progresse which he makes in, these, by which he is ever proceeding towards his end, as a man doth in his way by walking with his legs: In all these respects, the Lords way of carrying on his design is said to be unsearchable: This we take as intended here, to set forth and commend the gracious and glorious steps of the Lord, in the administration of his grace, both in it's con­trivance and application amongst his people, whereby his wisdom, power and goodnesse, are in these paths of his (that are all mercy and truth to his own, Psal. 25. 10.) made exceeding lovely and stately, as the commendation following imports. This is con­firmed, 1. by the Analogy that is betwixt the legs and walking, and the frequent use that the Scripture makes of this similitude for that end, and no other thing can suit so well. 2. In Rev. 2. 18. Where Christ's legs and feet are spoken of, with a commendation [Page 322] not unlike what follows here, namely, that they are like fine brass, as his eyes are expounded, vers. 23. by this, that he searcheth the heart, and tryeth the reins; so his feet are set out by this, that he renders to every one according to their works, that is, he keeps an equal and just way in his administration towards every one. 3. The scope likewise confirms this, Christ being by his way to his people commendable above all, and this being a special commendation of his, that all his works are perfect, and all his wayes are judge­ment, Deut. 32. 4. As also the property attributed to his legs, and from which they are commended, will clear this, which is, that they are like pillars of Marble: Marble is a stone that is firm, good and pleasant, therefore was it prepared by David, for the Temple, 1 Chron. 29. 2. Pillars signifie strength, orderlinesse and beauty, as was cleared on Chap. 3. 10. which may be applyed here: So pillars of Marble say, that his wayes are curiously, skilfully and sickerly contrived; and wisely, dexterously and infallibly exe­cuted, and firmly settled like pillars, and that of Marble, for un­moveablenesse: The amplification of the commendation con­firms this also, they are not only like pillars of Marble, but also like pillars set on sockets of fine Gold; pillars are durable, according to the bases or foundation upon which they are set and founded, Now Gold (as often hath been said) signifieth preciousnesse and solidity, so all of them are setled and fixed on a good and preci­ous ground, which cannot fail, and therefore they cannot shake, slide, nor slip, but prosper he must in his wayes, and nothing can mar his design, for he is of one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, that he doth, Job 23. 13. Yet not only are his feet or legs of brasse, (which shews severity against enemies, in his troding on them, Dan. 10. 6.) but the sockets are of Gold, as his head was, vers. 11. all is of Gold that is in him, he is a golden Mediator and Beloved from head to foot, whereas others are clay-beloveds: The sockets are of Gold, to shew his graciousnesse to his people, as Psalm 25. 10. all his wayes are setled on mercy and truth, all his decrees anent them are made lovely and sure by grace, and so cannot be but precious and excellent as to them.

Observ. 1. Our Lord Jesus hath a design, a gracious design, that he is carrying on amongst his people, and he is ever promoving [Page 323] therein for the end which he hath proposed; he is not like the idols of the Gentiles, Psal. 115. 7. which have feet and walk not, but as he sees with his eyes, and works with his hands, so doth he walk and make progresse with his legs. 2. Christ's way with his people, is a most excellent and stately way; or, in all his convoy of grace towards his people, there is a special excellency shining; All his ways and works are holy and righteous, Psal. 145. 17. Iust and true, Rev. 15. 3. Gracious and loving, even all mercy and truth, Psal. 25. 10. This King of Saints is marvelous in his way of grace, as he is in all his works. 3. Christ's purpose cannot [...]ail, neither can his design be altered, the contrivance thereof is so wise, and the execution so powerful, he cannot but attain his point. 4. However men may quarrel with Christ's way, and say it's not equal, as Ezek. 18. 25. And although his way may be sometimes in the deep waters, and not discernable, Psal. 77. 19. yet, it is ever ordered in deep wisdom, that there can be nothing more just, holy and glorious, so that there is no reason to com­plain thereof; and this holds, not only in one step or two, but in the whole series of his way. 5. A right sight of Christ's wise, glorious and Omnipotent way of grace, will make him singular in the estimation of his people, and put him above all other be­loveds, whose ways are neither for wisdom, nor stability, any way comparable to his; for, all the counsels and designs of the world beside his, will come to nought, and be made, nill they will they, subservient to his: clay-idols have their breath in their nostrils, and in that same very day when it goeth out, their thoughts perish, Psal. 146. 4. but it is not so with his, they are more so­lidly founded, and these strong legs, that are of Marble, can nei­ther be bowed nor broken: It must then be most sure and safe for the Lord's people to drive this as their design, to side and share with Christ in his designs; and it must be a most desperat thing to drive contrary designs to him, whose legs are as pillars of Marble, and before whom none can stand. 6. Where there is respect to Christ, there will be an high estimation of his way; and it's a good sign of an especial esteem of Christ, when his ways are admi­red and loved.

The ninth particular instance, brought to prove that he is the [Page 324] chiefest among ten thousand, is, that his countenance is like Leba­non: The word countenance, as it is in the Original, comes from a root that signifieth to see, therefore countenance is used in Scripture, not only to signifie the face, but the whole stature and presentation of a person, or that which gives a full sight of one in all his parts together; and so it's here, and differs from the cheeks mentioned, vers. 13. as being more extensive and comprehensive: Therefore that phrase, which, 2 Sam. 23. 21. is rendered a goodly man, or man of countenance (as it's in the Original) is, 1 Chron. 11. 23. (where that same story is recorded) expressed by this, that the Egyptian was a man of stature, as if it were said, a brave personage of a man, and so it takes-in face, legs, body and altoge­ther, when all these are so proportioned, as they make one, a per­son goodly to be seen and lookt on: Now this being applyed to Christ, as subjoyned to the particulars formerly mentioned, we conceive it takes-in his matchless stateliness, as it results from all his properties together, so that not only this or that part of Christ is lovely, but whole Christ, when seen, is exceeding stately and love­ly to the view and faith of a discerning believer, whatever others think of him; So then, the meaning is, ask ye what my Beloved is? (saith she) as all his parts are beautiful severally considered, so all being put together, he is a most stately and lovely Object to behold, when he gives a full view of his countenance. It sets out then, a more full view of Christ, or Christ in a more full view, as if not only a mans head or legs were seen, but his whole stature, whereby he is more fully discernable: Thus Christ's countenance in Scripture, is put to signifie his manifestations to his people; and here being subjoyned to the cheeks, as more extensive, it signifieth more full manifestations, whereby a view (as it were) of whole Christ is attained at once by the believers faith, as by faith, Heb. 11. 27. Moses is said to have seen him that is invisible: And this will agree well with the scope, and the commendation following, which is in two things, 1. It is as Lebanon, a most plea­sant, stately hill, and therefore that which is excellent, is often compared to it, as was said on Chap. 4. 8. 11. 15. 2. It's ampli­fied, that it is excellent as the Cedars: They were useful, stately and tal [...] trees, especially these that grew in Lebanon; The word is, [Page 325] elect, or choice as the Cedars, which agrees well with a goodly pre­sentation, to be tal, straight and stately, as they were: Therefore the Brides stature is compared to a palm-tree, Chap. 7. 7. In a word, my Beloved (when seen) looks excellently and passing-well (saith she) so as there is no other Beloved in the world that hath such an aspect as he; who can look on him and not love him?

Observ. 1. Although there is no fully comprehensive view of Christ to be gotten here, even by the faith of a believer (while we are upon the earth we cannot see him as he is, that being re­served for heaven) yet there are more full up-takings of him at­tainable, even here-away, than ordinarily believers meet with; yea, such full views of him are to be had, which in respect of our other ordinary attainments may be called a beholding of his coun­tenance, whereas these are but a beholding of his cheeks, for he hath a countenance which is discernable: neither doth the Bride speak of that she never saw, but of what she hath seen; and it im­ports a more full, near, thorow and distinct [...]ight of him than is usual. 2. There is no such lovely, delightsome, spiritually gal­lant, stately and glorious Object, as our Lord Jesus, complexly considered as in himself; and there will be no sight more satisfy­ing to a believer than this, when admitted to behold it. 3. All other beloveds, whatever they be in themselves, are yet exceed­ingly, nay infinitly short of him when he is seen; this differenceth him from them all, the more and the better other beloveds be seen, they are found to be the more fecklesse, insignificant and little worth; but the more full view be gotten of Christ, he is found to be the more excellent. 4. Slight and passing views of Christ, makes men think the lesse of him, whereas more full, di­stinct and near beholding of him, doth highten the esteem of him, and lessen the esteem of all others beside him. 5. Faith in Christ will make a real impression of him, and of his excellency upon the heart of a believer▪ even as if he had been seen by sense: there­fore she speaks so of his countenance; and it's a good sign, to be distinct and confident in our apprehensions of Christ's excellen­cies.

Vers. 16.‘His mouth is most sweet; yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my Beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Je­rusalem.

The tenth and last particular commended in him, is in the be­ginning of the 16. vers. and it is his mouth, which is compared to sweetnesse, or sweetnesses in the plural number. By mouth some­times is understood the words of the mouth, but it's not so used in this Song: The Brides words, and his also are set out by their lips, and it's not like, that that being spoken of, vers. 13. is re­peated here. Again, the mouth, and it's sweetnesse especially, may be mentioned to signifie friendlinesse and love, or rather the sensible manifestations of these, as the husband doth by kissing his wife; and in this sense is taken, Chap. 1. 2. and we take that to be aimed at here, to wit, the sweetnesse of Christ's more immediat manifestations of himself unto the spiritual sense of his people, by shedding the love of God abroad in their hearts, by the Holy Ghost, Rom. 5. 5. For, this sensible manifestation of his love, is a thing that much commends him to his people, and is their satisfaction, in opposition to all the creature-satisfactions that others have, Psalm▪ 4. 6, 7. therefore it agrees well with the scope. Again, it's a different commendation from any that is mentioned, 1. It dif­fers from his lips, or the comfort that one hath from the Word, as from the Word (though it is not to be separate from that, but to carry that alongst with it) yet this is more immediat and sensible, and that is mediate, though real and sure unto [...]aith. 2. It differs from seeing his cheeks, in that this is more full, near and immediate also, she being, as it were, admitted to enjoy Christ's sweet embracements. 3. It differs from beholding his countenance, because that may be, and only can be taken up by faith, beholding him in his excellent qualifications and offices; but this is discernable to the believers spiritual sense, when Christ [Page 327] applyeth his love, as Chap. 1. 2. In which (to say so) we are more passive, as being fed by him, and having it infused and shed abroad in our hearts by the Spirit. If we may in a holy way follow the similitude in a spiritual sense (which is necessary for understand­ing of the thing) kisses of his mouth, are his applying and venting of his love, as one doth by kissing another; this also will agree with the commendation, it's most sweet, it's but one word in the Original, in the abstract, and that in the plural number, sweetnes­ses, to shew the exceeding sweetnesse and lovelinesse, the soul-ra­vishing delight that is in that, to which no similitude or compa­rison can come up, clearly and perfectly to resemble it, it is very sweetnesse it self. If we might allude to what Philosophers say of fire in it's element, or water in it's element, that being there, they are more properly and eminently fire and water; so sweetnesse is in it's element here; or, Christ's mouth is the very element thereof, in respect of it's sensible refreshfulnesse to the spiritual senses of his people, to whom he manifests it. Ask ye then what my Beloved is? (saith she) he is indeed stately to look on, but his mouth when it's felt in his kissing of his own Bride, by manifest­ing his love to her sense, there, there, O there, exceeding unex­pressible and unconceivable delight and satisfaction is to be found!

Observ. 1. Christ hath more near and sensible ways of mani­festing himself to the spiritual sense of his people, as if he had a mouth to kisse them. 2. There is nothing comparable to the re­freshing sweetnesse, that these manifestations have with them; It's a peace that passeth understanding, Phil. 4. 7. and a joy that is un­speakable and full of glory, 1 Pet. 1. 8. 3. This sensible feeling of the sweetnesse of Christ's mouth, should be ai [...]ed at, and sought after by believers, although the manner, measure, time, and other circumstances thereof should be submitted to him, yet this is not only commendable in it self, but also as such, is proposed and commended to the daughters of Ierusalem, to be sought after by them. 4. The experimental feeling of this, doth notably demonstrate Christ's worth to the soul that enjoyes it, and makes him incomparably sweet and lovely above all things whatsoever, Psal. 4. 7. 5. There is no other thing can have any such sweet­nesse or relish to a believer as Christ hath; and to a spiritual [Page 328] taste, the excellency of all created beloveds will be as the white of an egg in comparison of this. Only Christ's mouth is sweetness; and so he differs from all others: And it's a good sign, when our affections, or spiritual senses, can relish nothing but Christ.

Next, it is added; yea, he is altogether lovely: Although she hath spent many sweet words (and indeed there hath been no straitning in her) in commending Christ, and although all her words be sweet, and especially when she drawes near the close, her expressions be the more massy and significant, yet as being neces­sitate to succumb under the great task of describing the excel­lency of her Beloved, she must give over particulars, and conclude with a general, as if she would say, would ye know him? O, I, even I cannot tell you all his excellent properties; for, he is most justly called wonderful, Isa. 9. 6. but in sum, I may say, he is altogether lovely: The word is, he is all desires, or, all he desires: The word that is rendered lovely, comes from a root that signifieth to co­vet, as in Ioshua 7. 21. It is said of Achan, when he saw the wedge of gold, that he coveted it, so it's such a desire as ardently covets the thing desired: And thus Christ is not simply lovely, but of such an attractive excellency, as makes him the proper Object of the most ardent and holy-cove [...]ing desires, or after which all de­sires should go forth, as towards the best and most desirable Ob­ject: The words are mean to expresse somewhat that is not ex­pressible, or rather the unexpressiblenesse of that Beloved she had been commending, lest they should think she were satisfied, as if she had fully described him. We may consider the words several wayes, 1. Negatively, as they shew there is nothing in him, but what is desirable: As if she said, all he is desires, there is no­thing of any other nature in him, but such as I have mentioned, he is a God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is he. 2. Take them positively, and so they shew whatever is in him, is exceeding desirable; go through all his parts, qualifications, attri­butes and works, whereof I have given you but a hint (saith she) and ye will see them all exceedingly desirable. 3. Take them conclusively or comprehensively, and so while she saith, he is all desires, the meaning is, there is nothing truly desirable, but it is to be found in him, the soul cannot rationally imagine that satis­faction [Page 329] that is not to be found in Christ, otherwise all desires were not in him; this is sweet, even very [...]sweet, what idol is perfect? there are many defects in all other beloveds, but (saith she) my Beloved is perfect: All the beauties and perfections that are scat­tered amongst all creatures, are in an eminent and transcendent way gathered together, contracted and to be found in him at once, so that whatever can be desired, whether it be for this life, or that which is to come, whether for sanctification, justification, or consolation, it's eminently to be found in our Lord Jesus, in whom all fulnesse dwells, Col. 1. 19. and who alone is all and in all to his own, as being full of grace and truth, Joh. 1. 14. 4. We may take them exclusively, or privatively, as they deny any thing desirable to be in any beloved, but in Christ, he is all, and so con­sequently they must be nothing, he is altogether lovely, and so they must be altogether loathsome: Christ is never rightly con­ceived of, nor commended, but where other things come down, evanish and disappear, when compared with him; Whom have I in heaven but thee? and I desire none on earth beside thee, saith the Psalmist, Psal. 73. 25. as having full satisfaction, and all that can be wished for in him. It's hard to observe what may be suitable to Christ's lovelinesse, when the Bride gives it over: But we may say, 1. The more that believers insist on Christ's lovelinesse, their hearts will warm the more with it, and it will be found to be the greater depth; for, now her expressions grow, till at last they be swallowed up. 2. Where there is true respect to Christ, no commendation of Christ that believers can invent (whatever it be) will be satisfying to them: For, there have been, 1. many excellent commendations given of Christ, as being like Gold, Myrrhe, Spices, &c. Yea, 2. like such Gold, Lilies and Ivory, as are not in the world; and finally she hath left and given over com­parisons, and betaken her self to the abstract, sweetnesse it self; yet all comes short, and she must quite the thing as unexpressible: It's the very hight of souls love-rhethorick, to close with a kind of holy amazement and admiration, which ends in silence, because they cannot say enough, when they have said all they can say. O what a lovely Object then must Christ Jesus be! They never knew him rightly, who were satisfied with their own apprehensions of [Page 330] him, or expressions concerning him. 3. There is an universal lovelinesse in Christ, whole Christ is lovely, neither is he to be divided in our apprehension and esteem, but as every thing in him is wonderful and lovely, so is it to be admired and loved; even his lowest sufferings, and seeming infirmities, his frowns and seeming greater austerity, are lovely and profitable; he is altoge­ther lovely. 4. There is a wonderful desirablenesse in our Lord Jesus, and incomparable satisfaction to be gotten in him; there can be nothing more to draw a soul to love it, than what is here, whatever may be attractive, is here; and there is nothing wanting to satisfie the soul that injoyes him, and hath yielded to his call, to such he is all desires. 5. Christ is never rightly taken up, so long as any thing desirable is supponed to be gotten elsewhere, he must be all desires: and therefore, where any thing hath the least share of the affections beside him, he hath not his own place. 6. Empty and undesirable are all beloveds in the world befide Christ, and broken cisterns will they all prove; and it's no mar­vel; for, all desires are in him, and therefore, not one desirable thing is or can be found in them. 7. They have a good bargain who have Christ; It's the short cut (to say so) and compendious way to happinesse, and to the inheriting of all things, to unit with Christ by faith, and to possesse him; for, all desires are in him: and miserable will the persons be who shall misse Christ, although they were gainers of the whole world.

Having somewhat answered the daughters of Ierusalem their question, by insisting in this excellent description of Christ, now by way of application and holy boasting in the close of the verse, she reasons thus: Ye asked what my beloved was more than o­ther beloveds? and for your satisfaction, I have described him as I can many several ways, though all fall very far short of full expressing of his matchlesse worth: Now (saith she) this excellent person is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Ierusa­lem; bring all other beloveds, and compare them with him, and see if he be not the chiefest and standard-bearer amongst them all; and in this confident boasting of the excellency of her beloved, she closes: Which sweet discourse wants not it's fruit on them, as we will see in the Chapter following. Consider the words [Page 331] four wayes, 1. In the matter, they hold forth two sweet relati­ons betwixt Christ and the believer, and this sweetens all, not only that this beloved is an excellent person, but that he was hers, she saith, he is my beloved, and also my friend; he is her friend (as she is his friend, vers. 1.) that is, one that is friendly to her, and will do for her, beyond what a brother, or mother, or the nearest of all relations will or can do; he is one that is born for the day of her adversity, and one whom she trusts as her own soul, he is so dear to her, and she to him; for, this [...]ye of friendship is mutual betwixt them. In a word (saith she) he is much in himself, and much to me, unspeakably excellent in him­self, and very dear and precious to me, my husband, and my friend: In sum, my friendly husband, and my loving friend.

Obs. 1. There are many sweet relations that Christ [...]stands in to the believer, as husband, friend, brother, &c. even as there are many relations that she stands in to him, as spouse, sister, dove, &c. 2. Christ fills all the relations that he stands in to his people, and that exceedingly well; he is a singularly loving, faithful, kind and tender husband; and a singularly kind, faithful & unchange­able friend, the best friend that ever a believer had; for, the ex­pression, this is, &c. saith, that what Christ is, he is indeed, and singu­larly so, as having no equal, he is a matchlesse husband and friend, this is the scope. 3. Christ and the believer are upon one side, they are friends, there is a league of friendship betwixt them, and they have common friends, and common [...] ad [...]ersries. 4. These who are Christ's friends (as vers. 1. eat, O friends) Christ may be claimed by them as their friend, and what▪ that can [...]infer▪ they may expect from him; for, he hath no bare title, neither sustains he any empty relation. 5. Believers should lean much to Christ, trust him, and expect good from him, as their friend. 6. It's a notable and singular consolation for solks to have Christ their friend, it's comfortable in life, death▪ and judgement, in prospe­rity and adversity. It implyes these things in which he is forth­coming to his friends, 1. Constant kindnesse and faithfulnesse at all times, he loves at all times, Prov. 17. 17. and, chap. 18. last: he never fails, nor can at any time be charged with that which Absalom casts up to Hushai, 2 Sam. 16. 17. Is this thy kindnesse [Page 332] to thy friend? 2. Sympathy, and condescending to supply their wants, he cleaves closer than a brother, Prov. 18. 24. It's such a love, as one hath who aimeth at his friends good, as well as his own. 3. Familiarity in mutual communion, as useth to be be­twixt friends, and freedom in conversing, as, Exod. 33. 11. the Lord spoke with Moses as a man doth with his friend. 4. It takes in a mutual confidence that one may have in another, as in his very own self, and more than in any other; all which are eminently in Christ, as ointment and per [...]ume rejoice the heart, so doth the sweet­nesse of a man's friend, and eminently of this friend, by hearty counsel, Prov. 27. 9. No other friends are comparable to this friend, happy, happy for evermore are they, whose friend Christ Jesus is. 7. Where Christ is a friend, there is he also the souls beloved; or, believers choising of Christ for their beloved, and his being kindly to them as a friend, go together; these two re­lations, my beloved; and my friend are never separat. Now to be the souls beloved, implyes these things, 1. That comparatively, Christ is eminently and only loved by his people, and nothing is admitted to share in their affections with him, Phil. 3. 8. 2. That there is in the soul an high esteem of him, which begets this love. 3. That there is such an ardent affection to him, as makes them long for union with him, as love naturally desires union with that which it loves, it desires to be with Christ here, and hereafter, as that which is far the best of all, Philip. 1. 23. 4. It suppons a de­light and [...] that their souls take in Christ, and expect from union with him; their happinesse lyes in it, and they are disquieted, and someway holily discontented and weighted, when they misse it, and under desertion and absence, easily fear, lest their heart beguile and de [...]ude them in that concerning-matter, as the scope of this place, and her present exercise shews. 5. It suppones a kindlinesse in their love, and a well groundednesse, such as a wife hath to her husband, and not such as it betwixt the adulteresse and the adulterer, which is all the love that the men of the world have to their idols, but the love that the Bride hath to Christ, is a native and avowed love, of which she hath no reason to be ashamed (as men will one day be of all their idols) but to boast and glory in him; and Christ is to the be­liever, [Page 333] not what idols are to the men of the world, but what a most loving husband is to his wife, being the object of her heart­contenting and satisfying love: where ever these properties of true love to Christ are, there may the soul lay claim to him as it's friend, and be confident to find him it's true and kindly friend; for, where he is the souls beloved, he is the souls friend. 8. This is implyed, that whatever other beloveds men set their love upon beside Christ, they will prove un [...]ound, and unfaithfull friends in the time of need; or, confidence in any thing but Christ, will [...]ail a man at the last; for, he is their friend, and no other beloved deserves that name, all other things will be like a broken tooth, or a foot out of joint, Prov. 25. 19. or like pools in the wildernesse, that run dry in the heat, and makes the way­faring men ashamed, such as Iob's friends did prove to him, Iob 6. 15. miserable comforters will they be to men, in the day of their greatest need, but then especially will Christ Jesus be found to be a friend indeed; for, there is an excellency in Christ in every relation which he stands under to his people, and an infinite disproportion betwixt him and all creatures, in respect of this.

A second way that we may consider the words, is as they re­late to the daughters of Ierusalem their question, vers. 9. ye ask what he is more than other beloveds? now (saith she) this is he, who is singular and matchlesse in all his properties; and so, it looks not only to her choice of him, to be her beloved and her friend, but saith also, that he is singularly and matchlesly such, even a non-such beloved and friend, and one who will be found, after tryal, only worthy to be chosen and closed with as such. Obs. 1. Be­lievers in their answers to others, would, as particularly as may be, bring home what they say to some edifying use (for, this best clears any question proposed) and would not insist on generals, much lesse evanish in empty speculations, but would lavel at edification, and frame what they say, so, as it may best reach that end, and therefore she applyes her answer to their question. 2. When Christ in his excellency and worth is a little insisted and dwelt on, he will be found to be incomparable; and the more souls search into him, the more confidently may they assert his incom­parable excellency; this, she here doth, and saith, as it were, Is [Page 334] he not, and see ye him not now to be the chiefest among ten thousand, and more excellent than all others? as having made her assertion demonstrative, and undenyable. 3. Christ's worth can bide the tryal, and there are, and may be gotten, good grounds to prove that he is well worthy of all the respect, that can be put upon him; and in reason, his worth and excellency may be made convincing unto others, and it may be demonstrat to consciences, that Christ is of more worth than all the world; and her resuming of it thus, supposeth it now to be so clear, that they could say nothing against it, as appears more fully from the words following. 4. No other beloved, nor friend that men choose beside Christ, can abide the tryal; the more they are in­quired into, and searched out, they will be found to be of the lesse worth: therefore she appeals (as it were) all men to bring their beloveds before Christ, if they durst compare with him, as being confident none durst enter the lists, purposly and professed­ly to compete with him.

3. We may consider these words, as her application made to the daughters of Ierusalem, holding forth her scope, to edifie them by this description of Christ, and pressingly (for their good) to bear it in upon them, that they might be made to fall in love with this Christ, that had so high a room in her heart; for, so the very strain of the words seem to run. Hence, Observe, 1. These who love Christ themselves, will be desirous to have others knowing and loving him also: and this may be a mark of love to Christ, an earnest desire to have him esteemed of, and loved by others. 2. These who love Christ and others truly, will endea­vour nothing more, than to have Christ made known to them, and to have them divorced from their idols, and ingaged to him; thus love to them, as well as to him, manifests it self. 3. It's a piece of the duty of mutual communion to which the Lords people are oblieged, to instruct others in the knowledge of the excellencies of Christ, that they may be brought in love with him; and where that end is proposed, according to mens several places and stations, no opportunity would be missed, nor pains spared, which may attain it. 4. That this duty of commending Christ to others, so as it may be profitable, would be exceeding [Page 335] warrily and circumspectly gone about, as all the Brides strain clears; For, she goes about it, 1. Tenderly, not upbraiding their ignorance. 2. Lovingly, speaking still to them as friends. 3. Wisely and seasonably, taking the fit opportunity of their que­stion. 4. Fully, solidly and judiciously, bearing forth the main things of Christ to them. 5. Affectionatly and gravely, as being affected with the thing, and in love with Christ her self. 6. Ex­emplarly and convincingly, as going before them in the practice of that her self, which she endeavours to presse upon them; that is, by loving and seeking Christ above all, her self, she studies to commend that to others the more effectually. 5. Obs. That the right uptaking of Christ in his excellency, and the pressing of him upon the heart, is the most solid way of wearing all other beloveds out of request with the soul: If he once get room, the esteem of other things will quickly blow up; and there is no way to have the heart weaned from them, but to have Christ great in the af­fections of his people; therefore, when they ask, what he is more than other beloveds? she answers, not by crying them down, or by discovering their worthlessenesse, but by the describing of his worth, and thereby giving them a solid proof of his excellency to be a ground of their faith, which doth necessarily in [...]er the o­ther; for, who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Iesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5. 5.

4. We may consider this close, as it holds forth the holy in­sulting, and boasting of her soul in Christ, who is so far in excel­lency beyond all others: This is clear from her claiming of in­terest in him, and her repeating of the phrase, this, this singular this, is my beloved; and again, this, is my friend; especially compared with the scope, whereby now she holds him out, not on­ly as a matchless beloved and friend, but to be hers, and she thinks no shame of him; her heart with holy gladness and joy doth exult in this excellent choise of hers above all others: As if she said, Ask ye what he is? this now so described, is he that is mine, he is not like the worthlesse, empty and stinking beloveds, which others have, I avow him, and count my self happy, and well come to in him, the contentment I have in him is incomparably beyond the counterfiet contentment, that all other beloveds can give. [Page 336] This the manner of expression, and the frame of her heart in the utering of it, and the scope (which is to shew her confidence in this his commendation, as most worthy to be commended) do imply. Observ. 1. That there is matter of boasting, and holy bragging in Christ Jesus, whether we consider the excellency that is in himself, or the confidence that his people may have in him, as one who will make all that is in him forthcoming to the out­most, for the good of his own. 2. That there is nothing beside him, that one can confidently boast of; for, this her boasting is so appropriate to him, as it's implyed, to be utterly unsuitable that men should boast of any other thing, Let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord, that is, in him, and in no other thing beside him. 3. That believers who have interest in him, and have ta­ken him to be their Beloved and their Friend, may make their boast in him, Psal. 34. 2. may glory in him, Isa. 45. 25. and may blesse themselves, as happy eternally in him, Isa. 65. 16. This holy boasting implyeth, 1. an high estimation of him. 2. Con­fidence in him, without fear. 3. Satisfaction with him, and ha­ving full contentment in him. 4. An eminent joy resulting from these, which cannot be shaken, all the former being in an eminent degree. 4. Obs. That it is incumbent to the believer who hath chosen Christ, sometimes to boast in him, and in a lovely and holy way to vaunt and boast (if we may so speak) of him above all, so are we commanded, to glory in his holy Name, Psal. 105. 3. and this is one of the wayes we are to commend him, and Christ will take it as a piece of notable respect put upon him, when it is se­riously done. 5. When a believer is in a right frame, and clear anent his interest, he will boast himself in Christ, as having the lines fallen to him in pleasant places, Psal. 16. 6. whatever else be his lot in the world: Christ is a bargain, that one day will be found worth the boasting of.


Vers. 1.‘Whether is thy Beloved gone? O thou fairest among women, whether is thy Beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee.’

THe sweet conserence begun in vers. 8. of the former Chapter, and continued to the end thereof, betwixt the Bride and the daughters of Ierusalem, is further drawn out in this Chapter; and first they return a new serious question, vers. 1. In the second place she replyes, vers. 2. and 3. After which in the third place, the Bridegroom himself comes in, with a no­table expression of his love to his Bride, and an affectionat com­mendation of her graces: And so, according to the number of the parties that speak, we have three parts of the Chapter.

The question proposed by the daughters of Ierusalem, is, vers. 1. and it supposeth them to be convinced of Christ's worth, by the former discourse; and that they now are provocked, as being deeply in love with him, to desire and thirst after him and com­munion with him. Now as it depends upon the former discourse, and is the continuance thereof, it gives ground to observe, 1. That serious and faithful endeavours to gain these that are weak, are often followed with a blessing on these upon whom such pains are taken; for, now the daughters are ingaged to seek him with the Bride: And this should notably encourage to the dis­charge of this duty. 2. As it's the duty of one to admonish and instruct another, so it's all mens duty to accept of admonition and instruction from others, and in the Lord to yield themselves thereunto, as these daughters do. 3. It makes christian-fellow­ship sweet and pleasant, where there is faithful tendernesse upon the one-side, and submissive yielding on the other: A wise repro­ver upon an obedient ear, is an excellent jewel, even as an ear-ring [Page 338] of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, Prov. 25. 11. 4. Yielding to instruction, and acknowledging of a conviction after a mistake (especially concerning Christ) is one of the first things, whereby desire of obtaining Christ doth appear; whereas such grumblings, as who made thee a reprover, or instructer? &c. evidence an unhum­bled frame, out of case for any true desire after Christ. 4. This may give some directions, for Christians profitable conversing one with another: as, 1. A necessary and profitable subject, would be proposed to be spoken of; for, so much the matter of the daugh­ters question imports. 2. It would be entertained by both sides when once tabled, and all diversions barred out, and the subject proposed, closely followed with answers suitable to it. 3. The end designed, would be practice and edification (for, so it's here, to seek him with them) and not a meer notional contemplation. 4. The manner would be grave and serious, suitable to the mat­ter. 5. Compellations and expressions that are used, would be respective of each one to another. 6. These who [...]re weak would not shun to speak, and move questions, in these things that may edifie them, as we may see in the daughters carriage here. 7. They who have knowledg would not despise these who are weak, but condescend unto them. 8. It's sometimes useful to suspend explicit following of our own case, (especially when these who are present seem strangers to it) and to condescend to insist upon the case of others for their edification; thus doth the Bride with the daughters.

More particularly, in the words of, vers. 1. Consider, 1. the title which the daughters give the Bride, O thou fairest among women: It's the same which was, Chap. 5. 9. but here it shews their continuing in respect to her, which they vent by suitable grave expressions; It's not much at the beginning to carry re­spectively to the lovers of Christ, but it's much after some fami­liar acquaintance to continue so doing, which is the lesson that may be learned here. 2. Consider the question, whether is thy Beloved gone? and it's repeated, to shew how serious they were in it, and how desirous of an answer. 3. There is the end, or motive, that draws this question from them, and that is, that we may seek him with thee.

[Page 339] She had told them that her Beloved was withdrawn; Now they (when convinced of his worth) ask, whether? &c. which is a further step of their desire of being acquaint with Christ and his way, than what was holden out in their question, Chap. 5. 9. yet having infirmity also: And it shews, 1. that where there is any conviction of what Christ is, then the great design and main en­quiry should be to know where he is, and how he may be attained. 2. There may be some acknowledgement of Christ's worth, and affection to him, where yet there is much ignorance of the way how to come by him. 3. It's no lesse necessary for a person, to know rightly where and how to seek Christ, than to know what he is. 4. There may be some honesty of desire after, and love to Christ, where faith dar not claim him as the believers own; for, say they, where is thy Beloved? they say not, where is our Beloved? beginners are often very anxious and afraid to make this applica­tion, although it may be, before their conviction and conversion, they did never question it.

Next, we would consider, that the daughters here leave the Brides case, and enquire for instructing of themselves, whence Observe, 1. Whosoever have any affection to Christ, and any op­portunity to be instructed anent him, would thriftily improve it; if they had but the fellowship of an intelligent private Christian, it should be made good use of to that purpose. 2. Young be­ginners often forget all others cases but their own, and the more experienced should bear with that, and for others good passe over their own case, and be content it be laid aside and forgotten for a time. 3. They ask this, that they may be the more enabled to sympathize, and concurr with her, in what she required of them: which teacheth, that they can be most useful to others, that have some distinctnesse in their own condition; for, confusion in our own condition, doth much obstruct the sympathy, and faithful burthen-bearing that we owe to others in theirs.

The end they propose, is, That we may seek him with thee: Which may be considered, first, as their end in enquiring; Tell us (as if they had said) for, we ask not for curiosity, but to be helped in practice. Whence Observe, 1. The great end and de­sign of all endeavours for knowledge, would not be to rest in spe­culation, [Page 340] but to be furthered in practice. 2. It saith, no sooner should folk be clear in a duty, but instantly should they set about the practice of it. 3. Mens practice should be according to their knowledge; their seeking, and knowing where to seek, should go together. 4. The finding of Christ is the great end of all Reli­gious duties, wherein we are to seek him, as these duties are the end of knowledge. 5. Often good desires after Christ, are much impeded by ignorance and confusion, even in the judgements of these that affectionatly love him.

Again, we may consider the words as a motive proposed to the Bride, to make her to answer; which is, shew us we pray thee where we may find him; for, we are in earnest, and would gladly seek him with thee. And from the words so considered, Observe, 1. Nothing will nor should more prevail with a tender believer, to move him to be helpful to others, than this, that they are serious and yet weak: Yea, 2. singlenesse of desire to profite by the means, is a piece of that frame that's necessary in order to our edification by them; for, thus they strengthen themselves in the expectation of an edifying answer, which otherwayes they could not have expected; they who are serious and single, though feck­lesse, may look for God's guiding of them.

3. These words may be considered, as holding forth the daugh­ters purpose, and (as it were) an obligation that they come under: tell us (say they) and we will seek him with thee: And this teacheth, that humble, single purposes, are neither unsuitable, nor unprofitable to beginners; yea, it's very necessary, that they seriously devote, and ingage themselves in that blessed work of seeking after Jesus Christ.

Further, the words, we will seek him with thee, considered in themselves, import not only a seeking, but a joint seeking with her, as coming in to share in the same exercise that she was taken up with. Which shews, 1. that they acquiesced in the same way of Religion, which they that were in Christ before them did fol­low. 2. That there is an union to be kept amongst the worship­ers of Christ, and a joint cordial concurrence in going about of duties. 3. That this united, or joint-way is profitable to all, both to beginners, and to these that are more experienced; other­wayes [Page 341] it would not be such a motive, as it is here held forth to be. 4. Although believers, and all professors, have an union and communion amongst themselves (as the Bride hath formerly kept with the dauthters of Ierusalem) yet when sincerity is be­gun to be more fresh and lively, or when it is begotten where it was not before, there follows a more near union and communion than that which was before: Now they mind another joint way of seeking him, than formerly they had done. 5. Often the persons by whom souls have gotten good, are very dear to them, and in much respect with them, so that their way hath a testimony from them, as approvable; for (saith the daughters) we will seek him with thee, who instructed us: It's true, that this may sometimes degenerate (so that folks may drink in the dregs from such per­sons, with their wine) yet it seems, in the main principles of practical godllinesse, not to be unsafe, as, Heb. 13. 7, 8. 6. The great, main, and native use of what is spoken of Christ's excellen­cy, is to have souls brought in love with him, and ingaged to seek him; and if this be not gained, any other effect of what is spoken, is little worth, as to what mainly concerns themselves: As this was the scope of all the Bride spoke concerning Christ, so it is attained on these daughters to whom she spoke; and it is the great thing we should aim at, when either we speak of Christ's worth, or hear it spoken of.


Vers. 2.‘My Beloved is gone down into his Garden: to the beds of Spices, to feed in the Gardens, and to gather Lilies.’

The Bride is not long in returning her answer, but being glad to have the opportunity to further their edification, instantly she replyes, vers. 2. My beloved is gone down, &c. as being well ac­quaint with the place, where he useth and haunts: If ye would find him (saith she) his withdrawings are not far off, but as a man [Page 342] retiers sometimes to his garden, and is not in his chamber, so Christ when withdrawn from sense (which is the Chamber, chap. 1. 4.) he is to be found in the assemblies of his people, in his Church and Ordininces, which are (as it were) his garden, there ye would seek him: This is the sum of vers. 2. and then, vers. 3. having instructed them by this notable digression, she returns to quiet her self (when all outward means fail) in the faith of her interest in him.

If it were asked, how the daughters could ask the Bride, where Christ was, or how she now can tell them, when she her self is seeking, and knoweth not (as she seemed to professe, chap. 5, 6, 7, 8.) where to find him? Ans. 1. Believers will often give more distinct advice to others, in their difficulties, than they can take to themselves in [...]heir own exercises; because light and reason guids them unbyassedly, in reference to others, and sense, inclina­tion and affection sway too much in their own cases. 2. Believ­ers may complain they know not how to find him, not so much from defect of light as of life, when either in their own practice, or in their successe in duties, they are not answerable to what they aim at; exercised souls are ready to aggrege their own in­firmities; and what is indeed in them, is to their own account as not in them, till the Lord shine upon it and quicken it, and so bring it out and make it appear.

In the first part of her answer, vers. 2. she speaks to these two, 1. Where Christ is. 2. What he is doing. The first gives them direction where to seek him; the second incourages them to fall about it, as a thing acceptable to him: The place where he is, is set forth by two expressions, 1. He is gone down to his garden, which implyeth the simili [...]ude formerly expressed, of a man's re­tiering from his chamber, or closet to his garden: This garden signifies the Church, as, Chap. 4. 12. 15. and here, as opposed to gardens, in the words following, it holdeth forth the Catholick visible Church, as gardens signifie particular societies, or congre­gations: The Church is like a garden that is within one precinct, yet divided into diverse quarters and inclosurs: This being the Church that hath the promise of Christ's presence, and where he is ever to be found, must be understood of no particular Church, [Page 343] of which that cannot be asserted, that Christ shall be alwayes there: it must therefore be the Catholick Church, distinguished from particular Churches, or gardens. 2. He is gone to the beds of spices: As gardens have distinct plots of flowers, and beds of spices, and some particular parts are alloted for these, where es­pecially they grow; so in the Church, Christ hath his plants, whereof some are sanctified with grace (therefore compared to spices) and these in some parts of the visible Church, are more abounding than in other parts (as spices in beds together that may be elsewhere but in particular stalks, and not so frequent) and as men love and frequent that plot of their garden most; so doth Christ most manifest himself in his Ordinances ordinarily, where he hath his spices and lilies in greatest abundance: And thus this last part qualifies the former, he is in his Church, but es­pecially where his spices are most abounding; and therefore would you have him? seek him in his Church and amongst his people, and especially in such societies of his people, where true and lively believers are most to be found. Here observe (beside what was observed on chap. 4. 12.) Christ's Church, though it have many subdivisions, yet is it one Church, one whole Catholick Church, whereof particular Churches are parts, 1 Cor. 12. 28. 2. It is in that Church and no where else, that Christ's presence is to be found, and where believers, the spices and lilies are planted. 3. There may be in that one visible Church, many moe real con­verts in one part thereof, than in another; spices in beds are not in every place of the garden. 4. Though Christ hath a singular care of, and respect for, his whole Church, and hath a peculiar presence there where ever there is any part thereof, yet where he hath much people, beyond what he hath in other places (as in Antioch, Act. 11. 21. in Corinth, Act. 18. 10. and Ephesus, Act. 19. 20.) there especially is he present, and there ordinarily con­tinues he the power and life of his Ordinances. 5. These who de­sire Christ, would not run out of the Church to seek him, or re­spect any way of finding him, which others have not found ou [...] before them; but would seek after him▪ by the ordinary means, in his Church; for, this answers their questions, where is he? proposed for that end, that they might s [...]ek him and find him.

[Page 344] He hath a twofold exercise in his gardens, for he is not idle, he is gone there, 1. To feed in the gardens. By gardens, in the plural number, are understood the subdivisions, and particular plots of that one garden, formerly mentioned; the Jews had their Synagogues, where the people did meet, and the Law was read (as we have our distinct congregations) as, Psal. 74. 8. and Act. 15. 21. do evidence. To feed, taken actively (as chap. 1. 7. where thou feeds, &c.) signifieth his taking care, to provide for his own in the Church; if taken passively, he is gone down to feed, that is, that himself may eat, and it is the same with what was, chap. 5. 1. I have come to my garden, I have eaten, &c. and the scope in both, looks to be the same, and so the meaning of the similitude is, that as men have their gardens, wherein they solace themselves, and feed upon the pleasant fruits that are in them, so doth Christ delight himself in his Church, and take pleasure therein, as, Psal. 147. 11. he taketh pleasure in them that fear him; and he delighteth in the habitable parts of the earth, Prov. 8. 31. that is, where Saints dwell, and where the place of his rest and haunt is; other places being but as an unhabited wildernesse to Christ, the Church is the garden, wherein he delights and finds fruit. He is said to feed in the gardens, and not in the garden, 1. To shew, that the way of his manifesting himself to his Church, is by erecting his Ordinances in particular societies, and thus he derives his blessings. 2. To shew, that though there be diverse so­cieties, or particular Churches, yet his presence is not excluded from, or tyed to, any one of them: He walks amongst the Candle­sticks, as observing every one of them, and manifesting himself among them, as he seeth good.

The second part of his exercise is, to gather lilies: By lilies, in this garden (as often hath been said) are understood believers, chap. 2. 2. 16. To gather, is a borrowed expression from men that use to gather some flowers they delight in, to bring to their chambers with them, or some fruits, that they may dresse and prepare them, as we heard, chap. 5. 1. Christ's gathering of his lilies, points, 1. At his calling of them effectually who belong to him; the elect may be called lilies to be gathered, as they are called sons of God to be gathered, Joh. 11. 51, 52. Thus also, [Page 345] Matth. 23. 37. is Christ's expression, I would have gathered you, &c. whereby their bringing-in to him is signified. 2. It points at his glorifying of them, which is in part, when particular believers are gathered to their fathers, as the phrase is, Gen. 25. 8. and 35. 29. This is, as his pulling of some lilies for his own satisfaction: and this gathering will be perfected, when all the Elect shall be ga­thered from the four winds, Matth. 24. 31. and the Angels shall gather the good fish into vessels, but cast the bad away, Mat. 13. 48. In a word then, the sense and scope of the whole is this, Would ye (saith she) have my beloved, or know where he is that ye may seek him? he is in his Church, seek him in the way of his Ordinances; for, he is there, purposly to delight himself in doing good to his people, it's his errand to welcome and gather them as a hen doth her chickens under her wings, therefore (saith she) seek him there; for, ye can find no better opportunity. Obs. 1. Our Lord Jesus takes pleasure to be amongst his people, and to do them good; he feeds on this with delight, as a hungry man doth on his meat. 2. The moe Christ gains (to say so) he feeds the better, and is the more cheerful: he feeds and gathers at once, and this ga­thering of souls, is as sweetly refreshing and delightsome to our blessed Lord Jesus, as the plucking of the sweetest flowers is to a man walking in a garden; and there is nothing more acceptable and welcome to him, than a seeking-sinner. 3. Wherever Christ's Ordinances are, there may his presence be expected, in one par­ticular Church, as well as in another; for, he feeds in the gar­dens. 4. The great scope of Ordinances, is to gather-in believ­ers, and build them up; and there is nothing more acceptable to Christ, than to have some to gather, some whom he may save. That's a refreshing feast to him, Iohn 4. 34. 5. Our Lord Jesus hath delight in all his people, and in every one of them, where sincerity is, though it be not in the greatest measure: Therefore it's said he gathers lilies indefinitly, that is, one of them as well as another. 6. So long as our Lord Jesus hath a Church and Or­dinances in it, as long doth he continue to gather, and he is not idle, but is still gathering, though at sometimes, and in some places, this may be more sensible and abundant than ordinary. 7. It's a great incouragement to poor sinners to seek for Christ, to know, [Page 346] that this is his very errand in his Ordinances, to gather them, and that he is waiting on, like the Prodigals father, ready to run with delight to welcome them; This is proposed as a motive to the daughters, to seek him. 8. Although believers may seem for a time to be neglected, and, as it were, forgotten, yet will the Lord gather them all in at last, as his choice of all the world, they be­ing the flowers of his gardens; there is a good day coming to believers, when not one of them shall be le [...]t to grow in this fighting Church, but he shall take them in to the King's Palace, there to be for ever with him. 9. The readinesse of Christ to welcome sinners, and the delight that he hath in doing them good, should exceedingly provock and hearten sinners to seek him, while he may be found; This is the great scope of this verse.

Vers. 3.‘I am my Beloveds, and my Beloved is mine: He feedeth among the Lilies.’

The second part of her answer to the daughters question, is, vers. 3. and it contains the great ground whereon she quiets her self, and wherein she rests, as being that which makes Christ love­ly to her, even though absent, I am my Beloveds, and my Beloved is mine: This now is the anchor which she casts, when all other means seemed to disappoint her. We had the same words for substance, and to the same scope, Chap. 2. 16. Wherein she first as­serted her interest, and secondly maintained it against an objecti­on, even as she doth here. Beside what was said there, we may consider the words here, first, as in them her interest is repeated, though it was once formerly asserted; Which shews, 1. that be­lievers, though once clear anent their interest, may have their difficulties and doubts recurring upon them. 2. That when new difficulties recur, there is no new way to be taken for discussing of them, but the same way of believing, which is again to be re­newed and kept in exercise. 3. It shews that miscarriages do not break off that union, which is betwixt Christ and his people; for, although there had been many failings in her former carriage, [Page 347] yet her interest is still the same. 4. Believers, even over, and not­withstanding of, many challenges, may lay claim to an interest in Christ, when they are in the exercise of repentance, [...]aith and other graces. 5. Her thus repeating and again owning of her in­terest, shews, that she was exceeding clear and perswaded thereof; Whence observe, believers may attain a great degree of assu­rance, and may and should not only aime to have it, but to pre­serve and keep it clear; for, that is of great concernment as to their peace; and the weight of their consolation in their confi­dent application of all the promises, depends on it.

2. Consider, although the words be the same, yet the order is changed, it was, Chap. 2. 16. my Beloved is mine, &c. So there she be­gins at asserting her interest in him, but here she begins at asserting his interest in her, or her betaking of her self to him, for clearing of her interest in him, I am (saith she) my Beloveds, or, I am to my Beloved; and from her betaking her self to him, and adhering to the bargain, she concludes he also is hers: Which shews, 1. that they who are clear of their adhering to Christ, and of their fleeing to him, as their choice, may warrantably conclude, that Christ is theirs, even though sense would say the contrary. 2. When there is nothing in Christ's dispensation to us, that looks convincing­like of his love to us, it's good to reflect on our acting on him, and if it be found that we have fled to him, and closed with him, then there is ground to conclude our union with him, and interest in him, and there cannot be a sounder way of reasoning than that: For, if we on our part be answerable to the call, we are not to question his part (namely his bestowing of himself on us, accor­ding to the tenor of his offers) but to believe it according to his word: Believers may sometimes be put to this way of argu­ing, and it's sure.

3. If we consider the words, as following on her former deser­tion and exercise, and as being now intended by the Bride (as her scope) to fix her self; they give ground to Obs. 1. That [...]aith is still a refuge; when all God's dispensations, and every thing in the believers case, seems to leave the heart in disquietnesse, faith is then the last and great refuge. 2. Faith is then most satisfying, [Page 348] when repentance is exercised, and all other means diligently gone about; therefore may she now cast this anchor, after she hath been in the exercise of repentance, and in the use of other means (as we have seen in the former Chapter) which had been presumpti­on to have been done at first, these being slighted; faith will sustain souls in duty, but presumption puffs up (as in vers. 3.) even when they are out of it; faith preserves from fainting under discouragements in the way of God, presumption strengthens against just challenges, when folks are out of his way.

The second part of the verse, He feeds among the Lilies, was al­so spoken to, Chap. 2. 16. It's brought-in here to remove that objection, if he be thine, where is he? Is he not away? and if he be away, why claims thou interest in him? She answers them, though he be not present to sense, yet is he ever kind to his people, and therefore cannot but be kind to me, which makes me conclude, that though he be not present to sense, yet he is mine, and I am his. Believers are called Lilies often, 1. For their native beauty, Matth. 6. 29. 2. For their savorinesse, Chap. 5. 13. 3. For their growing, and making increase, as the Lilie, Hos. 14. 5. And so the similitude points at these three excellen­cies of the believer, 1. The native beauty and lovelinesse of Christ's grace in them. 2. The sweet relish and savorinesse of their graces. And, 3. their spiritual growth in grace, from one degree of it to another. Christ's feeding among his Lilies, shews, the great delight he takes in them, and the pleasure he hath to do them good, as was cleared, Chap. 2. 16. Observ. 1. Christ is exceeding loving to, and tender of, all his people, of one as well as of another, and hath been so from the beginning, that none had ever any reason to complain. 2. Christ's way in general to his people, when well taken up, may notably quiet, content and comfort any of them, when a difficulty comes on, or when under any darknesse or desertion, as the spouse here was; He never did any of his own wrong. 3. A believer that hath clearnesse anent his fleeing to Christ by faith, may draw comfortable conclusions from, and comfortably apply, the way of Christ with others of his people to themselves, and expect that same kindnesse from him, that they have met with; for, the Covenant is one and the same [Page 349] with them all. 4. Believers may sometimes be put to gather their comfort, and to sustain their faith, more from the experi­ence of others, in what they have found, and how Christ hath ca­ried to them, than from any thing that is in their own present condition. 5. She propounded Christ's kindnesse to his people (the Lilies) to encourage the daughters of Ierusalem to seek him, vers. 2. now here, she makes use of the same ground, for quieting of her self. Hence learn two things, 1. That same which warrands believers at first to approach to Christ, may encourage them to renew, and continue the exercise of their faith, in mak­ing application of him and his comforts. 2. It's good in our own practice, to make use of the same grounds, and to walk by the same rules, that we would propose to others.


Vers. 4.‘Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners.’

In vers. 4. (which begins the third part of the Chapter) Christ, the Bridegroom, comes in and speaks: Our Lord Jesus (as it were) hath been long silent, and here he breaks in, with­out any preface, and makes up all his former absence and silence, by his singular kindnesse, when he manifests himself to his Bride; which kindnesse, appears in the warmnesse and sweetnesse of his many and various expressions. He continues speaking unto vers. 10. of Chap. 7. after he had knocked at her door, Chap. 5. 2. he had been longing, as it were, to be in, and now when he wins in, he insists the more, and several wayes prosecutes, and amplifies the commendation of his Bride. This is, 1. generally propoun­ded in three similitudes, vers. 4. 2. It's aggreged in one instance thereof, vers. 5.—3. He descends to particulars, vers.—5, 6, 7: 4. He takes her up in diverse considerations, that speak her to be lovely and beautiful, vers. 8, 9. 5. This is confirmed by two [Page 350] instances and proofs, 1. What the daughters did esteem of her, and their praise is marked, vers. 9, 10. 2. It's instanced in the influence that her lovelinesse had on him, vers. 11, 12, 13. And, 6. he proceeds in a different method from what he had, Chap. 4. to set out the particulars of her lovelinesse, Chap. 7.

Generally she is set out, vers. 4. by three comparisons, 1. She is beautiful as Tirzah: This was a City of the Tribe of Manasseh, The word in the Original comes from a root, that signifieth ac­ceptable; whereby it seems, that this City hath been exceeding pleasant: It was the seat of one of the Kings of Canaan, Josh. 12. 24. and of the Kings of Israel, after the rent of the ten Tribes from the house of David, until Zimri burnt it; after which Omri built Samaria, as is to be seen at large, 1 King. 16. Thus the spiritual beauty of holinesse in believers (Psal. 110. 3.) is set out as having in it so much lovelinesse as may commend it, and make it desirable and acceptable to others. 2. She is comely as Ieru­salem: This was the head City of Iudah, beautiful for situation, and the joy of the whole earth, Psal. 48. 2. but most beautiful for the Ordinances and worship of God, which were there; therefore glori­ous things are spoken of it, more than any thing that was to be seen by carnal eyes, and it was loved on that account, more than all the dwellings of Iacob, Psal. 87. 2, 3. It's ordinarily taken for a type of the Church, which is set out by it, as, Psal. 122. It seems here the Lord doth respect the believers spiritual beauty, with reference to that comelinesse and orderlinesse, which is to be seen among them, and is maintained by them in the exercise of his Ordinan­ces; and also in respect of his estimation, every believer is a Ie­rusalem to him, where he dwells, where he is worshipped, and to whom he hath given the promise of his presence: Believers are to him as Tirzah and Ierusalem, the most beautiful Cities of that Land, for the time. Or, the first similitude, taken from Tirzah, may look to outward beauty; for, Tirzah was a beautiful City: and the other similitude, taken from Ierusalem, may look to Church-beauty, as the Ordinances were there; and so the sense runs, my love thou art to me as the most excellent thing in the world; yea, as the most excellent thing in the visible Church, which is more precious to him than any thing in the world. 3. She [Page 351] is terrible as an army with banners: An army is strong and fearful; a banner'd army is stately and orderly, under command and [...] readinesse for service; an army with banners, is an army in it's most stately posture: The Church is terrible as such an army, ei­ther, 1. Considered complexly or collectively, her Ordinances have power, authority and efficacy, like a banner'd army: So the Churches spiritual weapons are said to be mighty and powerfull through God, 2 Cor. 10. 5, 6. This being compared with the 9. and 10. verses, may have it's own place. But, 2. the scope here, and the words following, look especially at the statelinesse, majesty, and spiritual valour that is in particular believers, who are more truly generous, valorous and powerful, than an army with banners; when their faith is exercised, and kept lively, they prevail where­soever they turn, they carry the victory over the world, 1 Joh. 5. 4. over devils, which are enemies whom no worldly army can reach; but by the power of faith they prevail, even to quench the vio­lence of fire, as it's in Heb. 11. 34. and by faith they waxed vali­ent in fight: But mainly this holds in respect of Christ himself, they prevail over him in a manner, by their princely carriage, as Ia­cob did, Gen. 32. 28. As a prince hast thou had power with God and men, and hast prevailed: See Hos. 12. 4. he had power over the An­gel, and prevailed: And indeed, no army hath such influence upon him, as believers have, which is such, that he cannot (as it were) stand before them, or refuse them any thing, that they with weep­ing and supplications wrestle with him for, according to his will: Now, that it is in this respect mainly, that the believer is called terrible as an [...]my with banners, is clear, 1. From the scope, which is to comfort a particular believer, who hath been wrest­ling with him already under desertions. 2. The next words con­firm it, Turn away thine eyes from me (saith he) for they have overcome me: What statelinesse, or terriblenesse (might one say) is in a poor believer? It's easily answered, that this is not any awful or dreadful terriblenesse that is here intended, but the effi­cacy of faith, and the powerful victory which through the same, by Christ's own condescending, the believer hath over him; and so in his account, as to prevailing with him, Christ's Bride is more mighty than many armies, in their most stately posture; therefore [Page 352] (saith he) thine eyes (that is her faith) have overcome me (that's her terriblenesse) turn them away, I cannot (to say so) abide them: And these three together, make the believer (or rather Christ's love, who useth these expressions) wonderful, 1. The be­liever is beyond all the world for beauty. 2. The visible Church, and believers in her, in respect of Ordinances and her Ecclesiastick estate, is very comely and lovely; and yet the believers inward beauty is beyond that also, the Kings daughter is all glorious with­in. 3. Believers in regard of the power of their faith, are more terrible than armies, or all military power among men: Thou art (saith he) so to me, and hast such influence on me, and may expect thus to prevail with, and in a manner to overcome, me: And so Christ is so far from quarrelling with her, for her by-gone carriage now, that he effectually comforts and commends her. Hence, Observe, 1. Our Lord Jesus is a most friendly welcomer of a sinner, and the sweetest passer-by of transgressions that can be; there is no upbraiding here for any thing, but every word speaks how well he takes with her. 2. Our Lord Jesus, his manifestati­ons are seasonable and wise: Seasonable, that now he comes when the Bride hath left no mean unessayed, and was at a stand; wise, that he comes not until she had found the bitternesse of her own way, and was brought to a more lively exercise of faith, repen­tance, holinesse and profitable experiences therein; of which we have spoken in what goeth before. 3. The Lord is not displeased with humble believing, and with the claiming of interest in him by his own, even when his dispensations to sense are dark, but takes very well with it, and hath a special compl [...]ncy in it, and therefore comes in with this intimation of his love here, impor­ting his hearty accepting of her. 4. The Lords commendati­ons of his people, and the intimations of his love to them are such, as it may be seen he conforms and proportions them to their condition and exercise, and when they have been under any long and sharp exercise, (as the Bride was in the former Chapter) he makes, when he comes, his manifestations the more sweet and full, as here. 5. Believers, when grace is exercised, must needs be beautiful creatures, and much esteemed of by Christ, who thus commends them. 6: Grace and holinesse in a believers walk, is [Page 353] much more beautiful and acceptable to Christ, than the external Ordinances (though excellent in themselves) as separable from it; for, Ierusalem, that was very beautiful as to Ordinances, is but an emblem of this. 7. There is an awfulnesse and terrible­nesse in believers, as well as lovelinesse, which makes them ter­rible to the prophane, even whether they will or not, a godly carriage puts a restraint on them. 8. Lovelinesse, terriblenesse and authority in holinesse, are knit together; when a particular believer, or Church, is lively in holinesse, then have they weight and authority, and when that fails, they become despicable. 9. The believer hath great weight with Christ, he is the only army that prevails over him, as faith is the only weapon, being humbly ex­ercised, by which they overcome: This is more fully expressed in the next verse.

Vers. 5.‘Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me:—’

The first part of the fifth verse contains the amplification and heightening of the Brides lovely▪ terriblenesse, and the great in­stance and proof thereof, is held forth in a most wonderful expres­sion, Turn away thine eyes from me▪ and as wonderful a reason, for they have overcome me, saith the beloved: Wherein consider, 1. That, wherein this might and irresistable terriblenesse of hers consisted, It's her eyes, which are supposed to be looking on him, even when she knew not, to her sense, where he was: By eyes, we shew, Chap. 4. 9. were understood her love to him, and saith in him, whereby she was still cleaving to him under desertion, and in the present dark condition she was in, seeking to find him out. 2. This phrase, Turn away thine eyes, is not so to be taken, as if Christ approved not her looking to him, or her faith in him; but, to shew the exceeding great delight he had in her placing her faith and love on him, which was such, that her loving and be­lieving looks ravished him (as it's Chap. 4. 9.) and (as it were) his heart could not stand out against these looks, more than one man could stand out against a whole army, as the the following expres­sion [Page 354] clears: It's like these expressions, Gen. 32. 28. I pray thee let me go, and, Exod. 32. 10. Let me alone, Moses; which shews, that it's the believers strength of faith, and importunity of love, exercised in humble dependence on him, and cleaving to him, which is here commended; for (saith he) they have overcome me: This shews, that it is no violent, or unwilling victory over him. But (in respect of the effect that followed her looks) it holds forth the intensnesse of his love, and the certainty of faiths prevailing, that (to speak so with reverence and admiration) he is captivat, ravished and held with it, as one that is overcome, be­cause he will be so; yea, according to the principles of his love, and the faithfulnesse of his promises, whereby he walks, he cannot but yield unto the believing importunity of his people, as one overcome. In sum, it's borrowed from the most passionat love that useth to be in men, when they are so taken with some lovely object, that a look thereof pierceth them: This, though in every thing (especially as implying defects) it cannot be applyed to Christ, yet in a holy spiritual manner, the effects, for the believ­ers comfort, are as really and certainly, but much more wonder­fully in Christ. These expressions are much of the same nature with these spoken of, upon Chap. 3. 4. and Chap. 4. 9. and therefore the do­ctrines there, will follow here. But further from the scope and repe­tition. Obs. 1. That the believers eyes may look, that is, their love and faith may be exercised on Christ, even in their dark and de­serted conditions; and it's their property to look alway to him, even when their eyes are, as it were, blind through desertion, he is still the Object they are set upon. 2. That when these graces of faith and love are exercised on Christ, they are never fruitlesse, but alwayes prevail and obtain, though it be not alwayes sensible to the believer. 3. The love and faith of believers, have weight with Christ and affect him, even when he keeps up himself, he may be overcome even then; for, the expression in the text looks to what was past. 4. Faith working by love, is a most gallant, and holy darring thing, bold in it's enterprises to pursue after, to grip, and stick to Christ over all difficulties (as may be seen in her former carriage) and most successful as to the event. 5. The more stayedly and stoutly, with love, humility and diligence, that [Page 355] [...]aith set on Christ, it's the more acceptable to him, and hath the greater commendation, as the eleventh of the Hebrews, and his commendation of that womans faith, Matth. 15. 25. do confirm: Tenaciousnesse, and importunity in holding of, hanging on, and cleaving to Christ by faith, may well be marvelled at, and com­mended by Christ, but will never be reproved nor rejected: They greatly mistake Christ, who think that wrestling by faith will dis­please him; for, even though he seem to keep up himself, it is but to occasion, and to provoke to more of the exercise of these graces, in which he takes so much delight.

Vers. 5.‘—Thy hair is as a flock of Goats, that appear from Gilead.
Vers. 6.‘Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep which go up from the washing, whereof every one beareth twins, and there is not one barren among them.’
Vers. 7.‘As a piece of a Pomegranate, are thy Temples within thy locks.’

The following particulars of her commendation, in the end of the 5. and in the 6. and 7. verses, are set down in the same words, Chap. 4. 1, 2, 3. and therefore we need say no more for their ex­plication, only we would consider the reason of repeating them in the same words, which is the scope here, and it's this; Al­though he commended her formerly in these expressions, yet con­sidering her foul slip, Chap. 5. 2, 3. and his withdrawing on the back of it, she might think that he had other thoughts of her now, and that these priviledges and promises which she had ground to lay claim to before, did not belong to her now, and therefore she could not comfortably plead an interest in them now as be­fore; [Page 356] to remove this mistake or doubt, he will not only com­mend her, but in the same very words, to shew that she was the same to him, and that his respect was not diminished to her, therfore he will not alter her name, nor her commendation, but will again repeat it for her confirmation, intimating his love thereby; and also for her instruction, teaching the Bride her duty by these particulars of her commendation, and shewing her what she should be: And this commendation had not met so well with her case, nor expressed so well his unchangeable love, if it had been given in other terms. From this we may Observe, 1. as believers are ready to slip and fail in their duty, so are they ready to suspect Christ to be changing towards them because of their failings; they are very apt from their own ficklenesse and changes, to ap­prehend him to be changeable also, and to refuse comfort from all by [...]gone evidences and intimations of his love, and from all words that have comforted them, till they be restored and set right again. 2. Our Bridegroom is most constant in his affecti­on to his Bride, continuing still the same, and as he is the most free forgiver of wrongs to his own, so he is the most full forget­ter of them, when they return; and therefore he continues speak­ing to her in the same terms as formerly, without any alteration, as if no such wrong on her side had been committed. 3. Renew­ing of repentance and faith by believers after failings, puts them in that same condition and capacity with Christ, for laying claim to his love, and their wonted priviledges and comforts, wherein they were before, even as if such failings and miscarriages had ne­ver been. 4. Our Lord Jesus would have his people confirmed, and strengthned in the faith of the constancy of his love, the un­changeablenesse of their interest, and the priviledges following thereon: And seing he thus loves his people, he allowes them to believe it. 5. It is not easie to fix and imprint Christ's words on believers hearts, and to get them affected with them: therefore often, both promises and duties must be repeated; and what was once spoken must be again repeated for their good, especially af­ter a slip and fit of security, the same word hath need to be made lively again, and fresh to their relish, which the Lord doth here. 6. Unlesse Christ speak and make the word lively, the sweetest [Page 357] word, even that which once possibly hath been made lively to a believer, will not savour, but will want it's relish and luster, if he repeat it not.

Vers. 8.‘There are threescore Queens, and fourscore Concubines, and Virgins with­out number.’
Vers. 9.‘My Dove, my undefiled is but one: she is the onely one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her: the daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the Queens and the Concubines, and they praised her.’

This kind Bridegroom proceeds in the commendation of his Bride, vers. 8, 9. and shews the rich excellency that is in her, by considering her several wayes, whereby she is preferable to what is most excellent: And then in the following verses, he confirms this by a twofold proof; and lastly, vers. 13. closeth the Chapter with a kind invitation, whereby, as it were, by a new proof of his love, he puts the commendation given her, out of doubt.

For understanding the 8. and 9. verses, we are to conceive, that by Daughters, Virgins, Queens, Concubines, by this Dove that is one, and the mother that bears, are not understood any party di­stinct from the Church or Bride, but the same Bride diversly con­sidered, taking-in first the Church as visible, which is beautiful in her Ordinances, external profession and order; for, she is the mo­ther that bears the daughters (who are the daughters of Ierusa­lem) and that is said to be seen; both which expressions hold forth this, and accordingly mother and daughters have hitherto been [Page 358] understood in this Song, Chap. 3. 4, 5. Secondly, and especially, the Church as invisible, and the real believers who are members of the Church invisible; for, the scope here is to commend her graces; and if we consider the commendation preceeding, and the proofs given, it will appear that they especially belong to her, and by Analogy agree to the visible Church, wherein she is com­prehended.

This diverse consideration of the Church as one and moe, Is not, 1. disagreeable to other Scriptures, in which Christ useth to commend her, as we see, Psal. 45. 9, 13, 14. where there is the Queen, called the Kings daughter, and the Virgins; or Daugh­ters her companions, who are with her, yet by all is understood the same invisible Church, considered collectively as one body, or distributively in her several members. Nor, 2. is it unsuitable to the strain of this Song, nor is it absurd, as was shown in the Preface, and needs not now be repeated. And, 3. it agrees well with Christ's scope here (where he is (to say so) seeking how to expresse fully the commendation of his Bride, as singular and emi­nent) thus to consider her; for, the moe wayes she be considered, her excellency appears the more, she being excellent, whatever way she be lookt on: And if as visible, she be glorious, and some­way one in him, much more as invisible she is so, which is the scope, as is clear, vers. 9. By Queens, Concubines and Virgins then, we understand believers of different growths and degrees: I say, believers, 1. because these titles agree best to them, accor­ding to the strain of this Song and of Psalm 45. 2. They are supposed to be of one mother. 3. They praise the Bride, which is an evidence of honesty and sincerity, and a greater argument of her excellency, that she is praised and commended by such as had discerning: I say, we are here to understand believers of diffe­rent growths and degrees, so that some believers are Queens, that is, more glorious, and admitted to the highest priviledges; Some are as Concubines, who were accounted lawful wives as to conju­gal fellowship, but differed in this, that they had not such govern­ment over the family, and their children had not right to inherit, therefore they are as half wives, as the word in the Original will bear; Some are Virgins, that are not so far admitted, yet are of [Page 359] a chast carriage, and so differenced from others, as was said on Chap. 1. 3. Next, the commendation is, that though there be many Queens, moe Concubines, and Virgins without number (that is, though there be many believers of different [...] and degrees) yet there is but one Bride, which is a singular excellency in her, and an unheard-of thing, that so many make up but one Bride; the like whereof is not to be found in any marriage that ever was in the world: Or, we may conceive thus, though men for their satis­faction, sought out many Queens, Concubines and Virgins, be­cause there was not to be found in any one what was satisfying, yet, saith he, my one Bride is to me many virtually, as if the worth of so many Queens, Concubines, and Virgins were combined in one: And thus as she set him out chief of all husbands, so doth he set her out as chief of all Brides, and as comprehending in her alone, all that was desirable, as the next part of the 9. vers. clear [...]. By the number, 60. 80. and without number, we conceive an in­definit number is to be understood, that is, they are many, only they of the inferior ranks are manyest, that is, there are moe Concubines than Queens, far advanced in Christianity, and again, moe Virgins than Concubines, because experienced believers of an high degree are most rare, and these who are not grown up, to have their senses exercised, are most numerous; In a word, there are moe weak than strong believers. Which saith, 1. that there are degrees amongst true believers, all have not the same degree of grace, though all have the same grace for kind, and though all be in the same Covenant; there are old men, or fa­thers, young men, and little children, or babs, 1 Joh. 2. 12, 13. 2. Among believers, there are many moe weak than strong. 3. He accounts of them all as honorable, and reckons even the Virgins as commendable, though they come not up to be Queens. Yet, 4. where grace is most lively, and faith most strong, there he dig­nifies believers with a most special and ample commendation, vers. 9.

The 9. vers. makes up the scope with the former, By D [...]e and undefiled, we said is understood the Church, especially the in­visible Church of believers, who all partake of the same nature and property, and so of the same priviledges; the titles are spo­ken [Page 360] of before: The commendation is threefold, 1. She is one, which sets her out not only with unity in her affections, but (to say so) with a kind of onenesse in her self: Thus the visible Catho­lick Church is one garden, vers. 2 comprehending many beds of spices; one Church, made up here of many particular Churches: And thus onenesse or unity, is a great commendation to her, or a special part of her excellency. But, 2. the invisible Church is but one, all believers make up one body; though there be many of different growths, yet there is but one Bride: This is a singu­lar thing, and this makes for the scope, of commending the Bride; and points out two things, 1. That all the excellencies in be­lievers combine in one, and that must be excellent, every one of them partakes of anothers excellency, by vertue of the mutual union and communion they have with Christ, the Head and Hus­band, and one with another, as the beauty of the face adornes the leg, and the straightnesse of the legs commends the face, because both hold forth one glorious body. 2. It illustrats her com­mendation thus, There are many Queens stately, many Concu­bines and Virgins lovely amongst men, yet one cannot be all; but (saith he) although there be many of these in the Church, yet is she one, and although she be one, yet is she all, collectively sum­ing up all.

2. She is the only one of her mother: This sets her out singu­larly and exclusively, there is not another but she: By mother here, is understood the Catholick Church, wherein children are conceived and brought forth, she is the mother of all that be­lieve, Gal. 4. 26. Ierusalem that is above, is free, which is the mother of us all: This Church considered as from the beginning of the world to the end, is one; and is the mother, in respect of the Church considered as being in this or that place for the time present, which is understood by us all, wherever we live, we be­long to that mother, Gal. 4. 26. There is no Church but that one, and who are begotten to God, are brought forth by her, and belong to her.

3. She is the choice one of her that bare her: This sets her out comparatively, 1. She is the choice one in respect of the world, this one Church is more excellent than the multitude of all the [Page 361] societies that are there. 2. She is the choice one in respect of all visible professors as such, she is beyond the daughters; amongst all her mothers children, or prosessing members of the Church, the believer doth excel. 3. The Church considered complexly doth excel particular believers, as having all their excellencies combined together: Or, the scope of these two verses, being to prefer the Bride as singular, and eminently beyond all other be­loveds, whether Queens, Concubines, such as are joyned unto men, or Virgins, such as are yet suited and sought for, we may conceive it thus, my love, (saith he) my dove hath not a match, but is chief; and as she called him the chief of all beloveds, Chap. 5. 10. so here he commends her as the most lovely of all Brides, that can be wedded or wooed; although there be many of these: Yet, 1. my dove is but one, that is, in respect of her singular ex­cellency, she comprehends all. 2. She is the only one of her mo­ther, there are no moe of that family, that are born of that mo­ther, beside her self, that I can set my heart on, or can match with: And thus, all the world beside the believer, is cryed down. 3. Com­paratively, she is the choice one of her that bare her, that is, not only by comparing her with the world, but by comparing her with all meer external professors, she is still the choice of all.

That this is the scope, is clear, and the enumerating of so ma­ny Queens, Concubins and Virgins, doth illustrat it, either by shewing her singularity and perfection, as having all in her alone, which is to be had in many; or, by preferring her to all, although they be many: and thus in his commending of her, he is even and equal with her in the commendation she gave him, which was both comparative, that he was chief of ten thousand; and also absolute and comprehensive, that he was all desires, that nothing was wanting, but that all things desirable were comprehended in him: so now he commends and extols her above all others, as having more in her alone than was to be found in all others; to shew that his love to her, and his estimation of her, was nothing inferiour to hers of him, and that he was satisfied with her alone, without seeking to multiply Queens or Concubins, as many men of the world did.

This commendation out of Christ's mouth, of a Bride so un­dutiful, [Page 362] may seem strange; therefore, to make it unquestionable▪ he brings in a double confirmation, both which, respect what go­eth before, to make it the more convincing. The first is in the end of the ninth verse, and it is taken from that esteem that o­thers had of her, The daughters saw her, and they blessed her, &c. This beauty (saith he) is real and singular, even such that it makes on-lookers, the most glorious and discerning (not only the Daughters but even the Queens and Concubines) to be much af­fected; the beauty of my Bride is such as takes them all up. The daughters, that is, professors, saw her, they beheld this beauty of hers (as Chap. 3. 6.) and they blessed her, that is, 1. They were convinced of her excellency, and accounted her blessed and happy, as Mary saith of her self, Luk. 1. 48. And, 2. they wish­ed well to her, desiring God to blesse her, as, Psal. 129. 8. We blesse you in the Name of the Lord; for, these two are compre­hended in one man's blessing of another. Next, the Queens and Concubins, that is, these who either in the world, or in the Church, are thought most of, they praised her; by which is understood some external expression of their esteem of her, and their endea­vour to paint out her excellency and beauty to the view of o­thers, so as they might fall in love with her: As the first then looks to the high thoughts, and inward esteem they had of her; so this looks to the outward expression of that esteem, by which they study to set her out in the eyes of all others: So they yield­ed the Bride to be excellent, and called her fairest among women, Chap. 5. 9. which is an evidence of her lovelinesse, and of the lovelinesse of grace in an exercised believer; and whatever o­thers thought of her, yet that such praised her, it shews, there was reality in the ground thereof. This is also spoken to their commendation, who did thus commend her; And it holds out, 1. the notice which he takes of the thoughts and words which men have of his Bride; our Lord knows what men say or think of his people, and records it. 2. How pleasing it is to him, to have them speaking respectively of her, especially when she is exer­cised with any dark or afflicting dispensation.

Vers. 10.‘Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the Moon, clear as the Sun, and terrible as an army with banners?’

The tenth verse may be taken as the expression of his own e­steem of her, and so it begins the second proof of her excellency, that not only they, but He esteems of her. Or, the words may be looked on as the continuance of their praise, and be read thus, They praised her, saying (as often that word is to be supplied) who is she, &c? If they be thus taken, the scope is the same, holding forth their esteem of her; and his repeating of it, shews his approbation thereof: and we incline to take the words in this sense, because it continues the series better, and shews their concurring in their thoughts of her, with what were his thoughts, vers. 4. which is his scope. This is peculiarly taken notice of by him as well grounded praise, upon this account, that their thoughts were conform and agreeable to his. It will also difference the two confirmations better to begin the second, vers. 11. than to take the words simply as the Bridegrooms words, wherein the same thing for substance with what was said, vers. 4. is repeated. However, in these words, her lovelinesse is set out, 1. In the manner of expression here used, who is she? Like that, Chap. 3. 6. which was spoken by the daughters, and so this looks the liker to be spoken by them also, as wondering at her, What is she? this she must be some singular person, and so it proves his scope, laid down, vers. 9. 2. The matter of the words, sets out her lovelinesse in four expressions or similitudes, tending to one thing, namely to shew the lightsomnesse (to speak so) of the Church, and her ravishing-beauty: The first similitude is, that she looketh forth as the morning: The morning is lightsome, com­pared with the night, and refreshful; so the Bride is like the morning, compared with the world that is darknesse, and she is [Page 364] lovely, chearing and heartsome to look-on beyond all others, so the morning is often opposed to affliction and heartlesnesse, Isa. 58. 8. for, then birds and fields look chearful, that before were dark and drooping. 2. She is fair as the Moon: The Moon is the lesser of the two great lights, and was made to guid the night, and is a glorious creature, shining above all stars; so is the Bride like the Moon in a dark night, very conspicuous and beautiful, and useful withall, to them that are acquaint with her. 3. She is clear as the Sun: This speaks yet more of her splendor, her taking-excellent beauty, and usefulnesse, for the direction and comfort of the daughters that behold her; The Sun being the most bright, lightsome and glorious creature of the world, and the greater light that is singularly useful to the world. 4. She is terrible as an army with banners, which was spoken to, on vers. 4. and is here repeated, to shew that it is no common, effeminate beauty, but a stately majesty, wherewith she is adorned, that hath an awfulnesse in it towards men, and a prevailing efficacy towards God. In sum, it describes the spiritual beauty of the Bride in these properties, 1. That it is lightsome, and shining, there is no true glory but this, which is like the light, all other beauty is but dark; Grace maketh one shine like a light in a dark place, Phil. 2. 15. 2. It's a growing beauty, every step of these simili­tudes ascends higher and higher, till the Sun be rested in, The way of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more untill the perfect day, Prov. 4. 24. 3. It's comprehensive, therefore it's compared to lights of all sorts; There is somewhat in grace that resembles every thing that is lovely, Gods Image being therein eminently. 4. It is stately and awful, being convincing and cap­tivating to on-lookers. 5. It is a beauty attended with a mili­tary and fighting condition, and therefore compared to armies: The highest commendation of believers, doth insinuate them to be in a fighting posture, and the more stayedly they maintain their fight, and keep their posture, they will be the more beautiful. 6. A believer that prevails with Christ (as she did, vers. 4, 5.) will also be awful to others, as here she is, and will prevail over them, as the Lord saith to Iacob, Gen. 32. 28. Thou hast prevailed with God, and then follows, thou shalt also prevail with men.

Vers. 11.‘I went down into the Garden of Nuts, to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the Vine flourished, and the Pomegranates budded.’
Vers. 12.‘Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the Chariots of Amminadib.

Follows now in the 11. and 12. verses, the second proof of the reality of the beauty and statelinesse of the Bride, which puts all out of controversie; and this proof he takes from his own expe­rience, respecting what was said, vers. 4, 5. and it may be summed thus, That must be stately beauty, that ravisheth me; (that is un­derstood) but hers is such; This is proved from experience, I went down (saith he) to the Garden of nuts (having withdrawn from that sensible communion which was entertained with the Spouse, as a man doth out of his chamber to his Garden) and was looking to the case of my plants, according as the Bride had in­formed the daughters of Ierusalem, vers. 2. but (saith he) ere I was aware, she did cast an eye after me, that so suddenly and effect­ually ravished me, that I could not but return, and that speedily, as if I had been mounted upon the swiftest Chariots, and there­fore this cannot but be stately lovelinesse: Which agrees with, and relates to what is said, vers. 5. Thou hast overcome me: And so we may look on the words, as if he therein, for her consolation, were giving her an account of his absence, and what he was doing; and he shews her that even while he was absent, her cryes (which Chap. 5. 6. she thought had not been heard) and her looks to him, were not forgotten, nor slighted, even when to her sense she saw him not, yet even then (saith he) they pierced me, and made my affections warm, that I could not but be affected, and return, as now thou seeth.

The 11. vers. sheweth where he was, and what he was doing, [Page 366] when he was absent: The 12. vers. how he returned. The place whether he went, was to the Garden of nuts, that same which was called the Garden and beds of Spices, vers. 2. His going down, is his withdrawing from her sense, and as in that same place, so here, his end is set out in two expressions (which expounds how he feeds in his Gardens.) 1. It is to see the fruits of the valley: The Church, called the Garden formerly, is here called the val­ley, because she is planted, as it were, in a good valley-soil, where fruits use to thrive best. His going to see them, holds forth his accurat observing in general how it is with them, and his taking delight (as it were) to recreat himself by beholding of them, as men do who visite their Gardens. Next, and more particularly, it is to see whether the Vine flourished, and the Pome­granates budded: By Vine and Pomegranate, are understood parti­cular believers, who are as several trees of his Garden, as was cleared on Chap. 4. 13. Their flourishing, or budding, looks to the beginnings of grace, scarce come to ripe fruit, but (as in the bud, Chap. 2. 15.) being exceeding tender; and these are men­tioned distinctly, beside the former general, of seeing the fruits; To shew, 1. his taking particular notice of every particular be­liever, as a man that goes from tree to tree in his Garden. 2. His special notice taking of beginners, and of the beginnings of his work in them, as being especially delighted with the first buddings of grace, and careful that nothing wrong them: This is his feed­ing in his Gardens, and his gathering Lilies, to be delighted with fruitfulnesse in his people, even with their weak and tender be­ginnings, and to be solicitously careful of their good, as men use to be of the thriving of their fruit-trees.

Observ. 1. Where our Lord Jesus hath a Garden, which he hath planted, and on which he takes pains, he looks for fruits; His Garden should never want fruit. 2. There are diverse growths, degrees or measures of grace amongst his people; for, some of his trees have fruits, and some but blossoms. 3. Our Lord Jesus takes special notice of his peoples fruitfulnesse, and that as parti­cularly of every one of them, as if he went from one to another (as the Gardener doth from tree to tree) to discover it. 4. Our Lord Jesus is especially delighted with the kindly blossomings of [Page 367] beginners, and he takes especial notice of the young and tender buddings of their grace, and will be so far from crushing them, because they are not ripe fruits, that he will more tenderly care for them. 5. Our Lord Jesus accuratly takes notice of his Brides carriage, and expects her fruitfulnesse, when he seems to her sense to be absent, and is especially much delighted with it then; for, when he is gone down to his Garden, this is the errand, to see the fruits of the valley, whether, &c. when he withdraws, he hath a friendly design, yet, saith he, although that was intended, I was made (as it were) to alter my purpose, and not to stay.

And so we come to the 12. verse, in which is set down, how suddenly he is transported with affection to his Bride; while he is viewing her graces in his absence from her, he is so taken with love to her, that he can stay no longer from her. We may consi­der in the verse, these three things▪ 1. An effect, as it were, wrought on him, He is made like the Chariots of Amminadib, or, set as in the Chariots of Amminadib: Chariots were used to tra­vel with, and that for the greater speed; or, they were used in war, for driving furiously (like Iehu) and mightily, over difficul­ties and obstructions in the way; The word Amminadib may be read in one word, and it is to be taken for a proper name of a Prince, and thus the expression sets out excellent Chariots, such as belonged possibly to some such valiant men of that name; or it may be read in two words, Ammi nadib, which in the Original signifie, my willing people: So, Ammi signifieth, my people, as, Hos. 2. 1 Say to your brethren Ammi, that is, my people; And Nadib is the same word that is rendered, Psal. 110. 3. willing, Thy people shall be willing; It's a princely beautifulnesse and wil­lingnesse. The word, Chap. 7. 1. O Princes daughter, is from the same root, and we rather take it so here, as being more suit­able to the scope, which shews what effect his Brides affection had on him, and the word is often so elsewhere translated; and so it may be rendered, the Chariots of my princely willing people: They get this name for their princely behaviour, in wrestling with him under difficulties. Again, the word, I was made, may be ren­dered, was set (according to the more usual interpretation of the word) thus the effect may be taken two wayes, to one scope, [Page 368] 1. I was made like the most swift Chariots for speedy return, that nothing could detain me from returning to my Bride. Or, 2. if we may call the prayers, faith and love of his people, their Chariots, he is set on them, as taking pleasure to ride and triumph in them, and to be brought back by them, as if by Chariots sent from them he had been overcome: And this suits with what is spoken, vers. 5. for, while he accounts her as an army; these must needs be her weapons and Chariots, to wit, a longing willingnesse to be at him, and soul-sicknesse, casting her eyes after him, and in a manner, even fainting for him.

2. There is the manner how this effect is brought about, He is suddenly, as it were, surprized, or ever I was aware, &c. I knew not (as if he said) till I was transported with an irresistable power of love toward my Bride, who in the exercise of faith, repentance and prayer, was seeking after me, while I had withdrawn my self. The expression is borrowed from men (for, properly it agrees not to him) who by sudden effects that fall out beyond their expecta­tion, use to aggrege the wonderfulnesse of the cause that brings them about: Thus, I know not how it was, it was or I was aware, or, while I was not thinking on it, so forcibly, and, as it were, in­sensibly the thing prevailed over me: Christ expresseth it thus, to shew the wonderfulnesse of the thing that came on him, that he could not but do it, and could not shun it, more than if he had had no time to deliberat about it. This narration of Christ's, is not to resent that effect, but to shew how natively it was brought forth, so that when they (to say so) sent their Chariots to him, and did cast a look after him, he could not but yield, because he would yield, as the third thing in the verse shews, and that is, what it was that so easily prevailed with him, the cause is within himself that set him on these Chariots of his willing people, and made him to be overcome, it was even his soul, my soul made me, or set me, that is, my inward soul, my af­fections, my bowels were so kindled (as it's Ier. 31. 20.) and my soul cleaved so to my loving and longing Bride, and was so stirred with her exercise, that I could not but hastily and speedily yield, because I could not resist my own affections. Hence, Obs. 1. wil­lingnesse [Page 369] is much prized by Jesus Christ, when the soul yields to open to him, and longs for him, vers. 5. and cannot want him, there Christ (as Chap. 5. 6.) will not, and cannot continue at a distance. 2. Although Christ's affection doth not properly sur­prize him, nor do the effects thereof fall from him inadvertantly, but most deliberatly, yet both his affection and the effects there­of, are most wonderful and astonishing in themselves, and ought as such, in a singular manner to affect us. 3. The first rise and cause of all the believers good, and that which makes their faith, prayer, love, &c. bear weight with Christ, is in himself; It's his own soul, and good-will that overcomes and prevails with him in all these: It is not any worth or power in their graces, as con­sidered in themselves, that hath this influence upon him, but his intimate love to believers themselves, that makes their graces have such weight with him: All that ever came speed with him, were prevented by his love. 4. The believer hath a notable friend in Christ's own bosome, his soul is friendly to them, and is in a kindly-way affected with their conditions, even though in his dispensations no such thing appear: And while he is man, and hath a soul, they want not a friend. 5. Considering this as the exer­cise of his soul, when he was withdrawn to her sense, and she was complaining, Observe, That Christ's bowels and soul are never more affected toward his people, then when he seems most offen­ded with them, and when they are most affected with the wrongs done to him, Ier. 31. 19, 20. Iudg. 10. 16. There be many incon­ceivable turnings in his bowels, even when he seems to speak against them to their sense, then he earnestly remembers them still, and their friend love, steps to, and takes part for them, and so prevails, that by his own bowels he is restrained from execu­ting the fiercenesse of his anger (Hos. 11. 8. compared with 9.) and constrained even when he is provoked to take some other course, to expresse marvellous loving kindnesse to them.

Vers. 13.‘Return, return, O Shulamite, re­turn, return, that we may look upon thee: what will ye see in the Shulamite? as it were the company of two armies.’

The thirteenth verse continueth the same scope, and is a con­firmation of the interpretation given of the former verse, and a new expression of his love, whereby as a kind husband, having for­gotten bypast failings in his wife, he invites her to return to her former familiarity, with a motive signifying the love which he had to her, and that upon so good ground (in his gracious estima­tion) as that by her yielding to return, he puts no question, but what he had spoken of her stately terriblenesse, would be found to be a truth. The verse contains these three, 1. A most affe­ctionat invitation. 2. A most loving motive proposed, perswa­ding to embrace it, which is his end. 3. An objection removed, whereby the motive is confirmed and illustrate. In the exhorta­tion or invitation, Consider, 1. the party invited, or called. 2. The duty called for. 3. It's repetition. The party called, is a Shulamite: This word comes either from Solomon, as the hus­bands name is named over the wife, Isa. 4. 1. and it's from the same root that signifies peace, from which Solomon had his name; and it is in the feminine gener, because it's applyed to the Bride: Thus it holdeth forth, 1. the strict union betwixt him and her, that she with him partakes of the same name: See Ier. 23. 6. compared with Ier. 33. 16. where ye will find the like communi­cation of his name to her. 2. It shews the priviledge she was ad­mitted unto, through her tye to him and union with him, by which she is made his, and is admitted to share with him in all that is his; for, it is not an empty stile she gets, while called by his name, it being to signifie that she was his, and that whatever he had (whereof she was capable, and might be for her good) was hers. 3. It shews his affection that he so names her now, wishing her [Page 371] a part of his own peace, and intitling her to it. Or, 2. this word may be derived from Salem, which properly taken, is Ierusalem, Psal. 76. 1. and Heb. 7. 1. Melchisedec was king of Salem, which signifieth peace, and so, as Shunamitish comes from Shunem, so Shulamite from Salem, and so taking the derivation thus, it comes to the same thing with the former, both being derived from the same root; And this holds forth his respect to her, as acknowledging her new-birth and Original from the new Ieru­salem. 2. The exhortation is, return: This implyes, 1. a di­stance whether in respect of sin, Ier. 3. 1. for, sin breeds distance betwixt Christ and his people, Isa. 59. 2. or, in respect of sensible manifestations of his love; for, howsoever, the distance brought on by sin, was in some measure taken away, and she returned to her former obedience and wonted tendernesse, yet she wants the sense of his love, and is seeking after it: return, here then, sup­poseth somewhat of these. 2. A duty laid on her, to quite this distance and to return; this the very expression bears. 3. A kind offer of welcome, which is implyed in his offers and exhor­tations, whenever he calls: So Ier. 3. 14. Ier. 4. 1. and thus the sense is, as if he had said, There hath been a distance betwixt us, and thou art suspicious of my love; but, return and come hither, and neither thy former [...]aults, nor present jealousie shall be re­membred; and this shews, that the words are his, both because the scope is continued, and also because none can call the Bride properly or effectually to return, but he, neither would the voice of another be so confirming to her of his affection, and his scope is to confirm her, as to that.

3. This exhortation is twice doubled, Return, return, and a­gain, return, return: 1. To shew the hazard she was in. 2. Her duty to prevent it. 3. The necessity of speedy putting the ex­hortation in practice. 4. The difficulty that there was to bring her over her discouragements. 5. His great and earnest desire to have them all removed, and to have the duty performed. These words shew, 1. That there may be a distance betwixt Christ and his Bride; even the beautiful believer may fall into a distance of sin, 2. of indisposition, 3. of comfortlessnesse, and 4. of dis­couragement and heartlessnesse, which follows on the former. [Page 372] 2. There is often a loathnesse to come home, when there hath been a straying; discouragement and shame may prevail so far, as to s [...]ar fainting believers (who fain would have him) from hearty apply­ing of his allowances to themselves. 3. Souls that are at distance with Christ, whatever kind of distance it be, would not sit down under it, or give way to it, but wrestle from under it, over all diffi­culties that are in their way. 4. This would be done speedily, and without all delay, dispute or dalying, therefore doth the Lord so double his call; there will sure, be no advantage by delaying, or putting off this great businesse of returning from our distance to him. 5. The return of a believer after a slip, to confident walking with Christ, and comforting of themselves in him, is al­lowed by him and well pleasing to him, as well as the conversion and coming home of a sinner at first. 6. Believers after their slips, are not easily perswaded of Christ's kindnesse, in the measure that he hath it to them; nor are they easily brought to that confidence of it, that formerly they had. 7. Our Lord Jesus allows his peo­ple to be fully confident of his love, and of obtaining welcome from him; for which reasons this return, as a sure evidence and testimony of his kind and hearty welcome, is four times repeat­ed, to shew that he is intreating and waiting for it, and cannot abide to have it delayed.

2. The end proposed, that makes him so serious, is in these words, that we may look upon thee: It doth him good (to speak so) to get a sight of her: This looking of his, is not for curiosi­ty, but for delightsome satisfaction to his affection, as one desires to look upon what he loves, so, Chap. 2. 14. speaking to his Bride, Let me see (saith he) thy face, for thy countenance is comely. This is to take away all jealousie from the Bride, and to shew how he was taken with her, so that her returning would be a singular pleasure to him, which is indeed wonderful.

Obs. 1. Our Lord Jesus allows the Bride, when returning to him after her departings from him, to be confident in him, and fa­miliar with him. 2. The more that nearnesse to him be sought after and entertained, he is the more satisfied. 3. When believ­ers hide themselves from Christ, even though it be through dis­couragement, and upon just ground and reason, as they think; yet [Page 373] doth it some way mar Christ's delightsome complacency, and he is not satisfied till they shake off their discouragement, and shew themselves to him with confidence.

Again, we would consider, that it is not said, that I may look on thee; but, that we, &c. Which is to shew, that she is delight­some to many, her beauty may be seen by any that will look upon her: This word, we, 1. may import the blessed Trinity, the Fa­ther, Son and Spirit, as, Chap. 1. 11. we will make, &c. A returning sin­ner will be welcome to all the persons of the Godhead. 2. We, that is, I with the Angels, who (Luk. 15. 10.) rejoice at the conversion of a sinner. And, 3. we may import, I and all the daughters that admire thee. The thriving of one believer, or, the returning of a sinner may make many cheerful, and is to be accounted a lovely thing by all the professors of Religion.

3. The third thing in the verse, comes-in by way of question, either to highten the lovelinesse that is in Christ's Bride; what is it that is to be seen in her? as, Luk. 7. 24. &c. what went ye out for to see? No common sight: or, it is to meet with an objection that strangers may have, what delightsome thing is to be seen in her, that seems so despicable? Or, she her self might object, what is in me worth the seeing? It may be, when it is well seen, that it be lesse thought of. The Lord to prevent such doubts, especially in her, moves the question, that he himself may give the answer; what (saith he) will ye see in the S [...]lamite? (that is) which may be pleasant, and delightful; and he answers, as it were the company of two armies; which in general holds out, 1. We will see much majesty and statelinesse in her; even so much as I have asserted, in comparing her to an army with banners. 2. Two armies may be mentioned, to shew, that when she is rightly, and with a believing eye looked upon, her beauty will appear to be double to what it was said to be; and so, two ar­mies signifie an excellent army, as, Gen. 32. 1, 2. God's hosts of Angels get the same name in the Original, it's Mahanaim, that same which Iacob imposeth as the name upon the place, where these hosts of Angels met him; and there may be an allusion to this, these two wayes, 1. Ask ye what is to be seen in her? even as it were Mahanaim, that is, for excellency she is like an host of [Page 374] Angels, such as appeared to Iacob; she is an Angelick fight, more than an ordinary army: this is a notable commendation, and serves his purpose well, which is to confirm her: and therefore, that his poor Bride may be incouraged to presse-in on him, and re­turn to him, he tells her, she may be as homely with him as An­gels, that are holy and sinlesse creatures; which is a won­derful priviledge, yet such as is allowed on his people, by him who hath not taken on the nature of Angels, but of men, that he might purchase them a room amongst Angels that stand by, Zech. 3. 6, 7. 2. It may allude thus, what is to be seen in her? what­ever it be to the world, it is to me (saith he) excellent and re­freshful, as these hosts of Angels were to Iacob at Mahanaim, when he had been rescued from Laban, and was to meet with Esau: either of these suits well the scope, and saith, it will be, and is a sweet and refreshful meeting, that is betwixt Christ and a returning sinner, a little view whereof is in that parable, Luk. 15. 20. of the Prodigal his fathers hearty receiving of his lost son, and making himself and all his servants merry with him.

Obs. 1. Our Lord is very tender of believers doubts and per­plexities, and therefore prevents their objections which they may make, by giving answers to them, before the objections be well formed or stated in their hearts. 2. Believers may, and usually do, wonder what ground there is in them, for such kindnesse as Christ shews to them, when he magnifieth them and their graces so much, that are so defective and full of blemishes: And indeed it's such, that are readiest to wonder most at his love, and esteem least of themselves, whom he makes most of, and of whom he hath the greatest esteem. 3. It's a wonderful welcome that Christ gives to repenting sinners, he receives them as Angels, and ad­mits them to such freedom with him, and hath such esteem of them, as if they were Angels; for, to be received as an Angel, signifies honourable and loving entertainment, Gal. 4. 14. 4. The returning of sinners to Christ, and Christ's loving welcome which he gives them upon their return, makes a heartsome and refresh­ing meeting betwixt him and them: And O what satisfaction and joy shall there be, when they being all gathered together, shall meet with him at the last day!


Vers. 1, 2, 3.‘BRIDEGROOM.’

THis Chapter hath two parts: In the first, reaching to the tenth verse, Christ continueth in the commendation of his Bride: In the second, thence to the close, the Bride expresseth her complacency in him and in his love, her inlarged desires after communion with him, and that she might be found fruitful to his praise.

That it is Christ, the Bridegroom, who was speaking in the end of the former Chapter, that continues his speech throughout the first part of this, there is no just ground to question, the scope, stile and expressions being so like unto, and co-incident with what went before; and what is spoken in the first person, vers. 8. can be applyed to none other, neither would it become any to speak thus but himself, his love is inlarged and loosed (as it were) in it's expressions, and this love of his is indeed a depth, that is not easily reached. In this commendation, he doth first enumerat ten particulars (as she had done when she commended him, Chap. 5.) Then, 2. he shews his acquiescing in her, as being ravished with her beauty, vers. 6. &c. We had occasion to say something in the general of such commendations, Chap. 4. 1. which is now to be remembred, but not repeated; we take this to be understood after the same manner as that was, and although the visible Church be in some respect Christ's Bride, and therefore, we will not condemn the application of some of the parts of this commendation to her, as so considered; yet, since the scope is mainly to comfort true believers, as differenced from others, and that it is she to whom he speaks, who had ravished him with her eyes in the former Chapter (which can agree properly to the true believer only) and considering also, that some parts of the com­mendation do respect inherent grace in his people (and indeed it is this which is the great ground of the Brides commendation) we therefore incline still to take these commendations, as holding [Page 376] forth the continuance of the expressions of Christ's love to these, who are his own by sa [...]ing saith; and so much the rather, as the words being taken so, are of special and particular use for be­lievers.

There are four differences in this commendation, from that mentioned, chap. 4. and that which was spoken to, on chap. 6. 6, 7. which by answering four questions, we shall clear.

Quest. 1. Wherefore is this subjoined now, after so large a com­mendation in the words immediatly preceeding. Ans. The for­mer commendation shews Christ's love to his Bride (to say so) immediatly after their marriage, or on the back of some agree­ment, after an out-cast; but, this is added, to shew what is Christ's ordinary way of carriage to his people, and what are his usual thoughts (to say so) of them; he is not kind only at fits (as men sometimes use to be, and do not continue) or, when he was surprized (as it were) with a sudden gale of affection, Chap. 6. 12. no, he is constantly kind; and therefore, these expressions are [...]ow renewed, to shew that such are his ordinary kind wayes of dealing towards them, even when there is no connexion betwixt his dealing and their present condition, nor any thing in them that can be looked on as the immediat rise thereof: Our blessed Lord is a most fair, loving and friendly speaker unto, and converser with his Bride.

Quest. 2. Why is this commendation inlarged beyond the for­mer, having moe particulars in it? Ans. Thereby the Lord shews, 1. the soveraignty of his love, in making the intimations thereof, lesse or more as he pleaseth. 2. The last commendati­on is most full, in expressing the riches of his love, to shew that Christ never speaks so kindly to one of his own, but there is more behind in his heart than hath yet vented it self, and that there is more which they may expect from him, than they have yet met with, however that may be very much. 3. It's to make it the fresher unto them, when by this it is evidenced to be a new intimation of his kindnesse, although it proceed on the same grounds, on which former intimations did; and this may be a reason also of the third difference, and question following, which is,

[Page 377] 3. Why are the same parts named, as eyes, hair, &c. and yet the commendation is different from what it was, for the most part? Ans. 1. This is to shew the beauty of grace, which is such, that one commendation cannot reach it. 2. The account that he in his love hath of her, which is so great, that one expression doth not fully answer it. 3. The various and abundant wayes, that love hath to speak comfortably to a believer, there is strange eloquence and rhetorick in the love of Christ, when he thinks good to vent it.

Quest. 4. Why is the way he followed before changed? He be­gan formerly at the head, now at the feet? Ans. This is also a piece of his soveraignty, and shews how he delights to vary the expressions of his love to his people; and that it may be seen, that whatever way we will follow in looking upon grace in a be­liever, it is still beautiful in it self, and acceptable to him.

Vers. 1.‘How beautiful are thy feet with shoes, O princes daughter! the joynts of thy thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a cunning workman.’

The first verse contains two pieces of the Brides commendati­on, The first part that is commended is the feet, How beautiful are thy feet? &c. In this consider the title she gets. 2. The part commended. 3. The commendation it self. 4. The manner of expressing of it. First, the title is, O princes daughter! This was not given her before, it's now prefixed to this commendation in general, to usher-in all that follows, and to make it the more gaining on her affection: The word in the first Language is, Na­ [...]ib, which signifies a bounteous prince, or, one of a princely dis­position, Isa. 32. 5. It's given to the visible Church, Psal. 45. 13. The Kings daughter is all glorious within. For more full taking up of the meaning, consider, that it doth here include these three, 1. A noblenesse and greatnesse in respect of birth, that the Bride [Page 378] is honourably descended: From which we may learn, That be­lievers (whatever they be in respect of the flesh) are of a roy­al descent and kindred, a royal priesthood, 1. Pet. 2. 9. sons and daughters to the Lord God Almighty, 2. Cor. 6. 18. 2. It respects her qualifications, as being princely in her carriage, suitable to such a birth, Eccles. 10. 17. Hence observe, the believer should be of a princely disposition and carriage, and when he is right, he will be so; for, he is indued with princely qualifications, with noble and excellent principles, beyond the most generous, noble, gallant and stately dispositions of men in the world: A believer when right, or in good case, is a princely person indeed. 3. It re­spects her provision and expectation; that she is provided for, waited upon, and to be dealt with, and even dalted, not as chil­dren of mean persons, but of princes, to whom it is her fathers good pleasure to give a Kingdom, and such a one as is undefiled, and fadeth not away, Luk. 12. 32. 1 Pet. 1. 4. Hence observe, That the believer is royally dealt with by Jesus Christ, and hath a roy­al princely allowance bestowed on him; the charter of Adoption takes-in very much, even to inherit with him all things: No lesse than this may be expected, and is the claim of a daughter to the King of Kings, Rev. 21. 7.

2. The part commended is, the feet, by which a believers walk and conversation, as grace shines in it, is understood, as we may see frequently, Psal. 119. v. 59. 101. 105. So likewise shedding of blood, or other defiling sins, such as leave soul prints upon a mans conversation behind them, are called the iniquities of the heels, Psal. 49. 5. by which the nakednesse and offensivenesse of ones conversation is let forth: And on the contrary, the Brides feet thus commended, set out her good conversation.

3. Her feet are commended from this, that they are not bare, but, beautiful with shoes: To be bare-footed, imports three things in Scripture, 1. A shameful condition, Isa. 20. 4. 2. A present sad affliction, the sense whereof makes men carelesse of what is adorning; So David, 2 Sam. 15. 30. under heavy afflicti­on, walks bare-footed. 3. An unfitnesse for travel: Therefore, when the people were to be in readinesse for their journey, Exod. 1 [...]. 11. their feet were to be shod: So then, to have on shoes, [Page 379] doth on the contrary import three things, 1. The honourable estate and dignity to which believers are advanced; and more especi­ally, it holds out a singular beautifulnesse in their walk, whereby their shame is covered. 2. A thriving in their spiritual condi­tion. 3. A readinesse and promptnesse of obedience, to what they are called unto: All which are beautiful in themselves, and adorning to the believer. We take it, in a word, to hold out a conversation such as becomes the Gospel, Philip. 1. 27. which is, to have the feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace, Eph. 6. 15. because, that as by shoes, men are enabled to walk with­out hurt in rough ground, and are in the company of others not ashamed of their nakednesse; So, a Gospel [...] conversation quiets the mind, keeping it in peace against difficulties, and doth exceeding­ly strengthen the confidence of believers in their conversing with others, and becomes exceeding lovely, that they care not (as it were) who see them, as, Ezek. 16. 10. I shod thee, &c. whereas a disorderly conversation is shameful, even like one that is bare­footed.

4. The manner of the expression is, to aggrege the lovelinesse of a well ordered walk, How beautiful are thy feet with shoes! It cannot be told how beautiful a tender and well ordered conver­sation is, it is exceeding lovely, and acceptable to me (saith he) to see thy holy walk.

Obs. 1. Our Lord Jesus takes notice of every step of a believ­ers carriage, and can tell whether their feet be shod or bare, whe­ther their conversation be such as adorneth, or shameth the Gos­pel. 2. The believer hath, or at least ought to have, and if he be like himself, will have a well ordered walk, and will be in his carriage stately and princely. 3. A conversation that is well or­dered, is a beautiful and pleasant thing; grace exercised in a Christians practice, is more commendable to Christ, than either greatnesse, riches, wisdom, or what the world esteems most of, none of these hath such a commendation from Christ, as the be­liever, who, it may be, is not much in the world's esteem: Pra­ctical holinesse is a main part of spiritual beauty, and is valuable above speculative knowledge and many gifts. 4. Believers should be walking creatures, therefore hath the new nature feet, that is, [Page 380] they should be much in the practice of holy duties, according to the commands he hath given in his word; and in their way, they should be making progresse towards perfection; for, that is their mark, Philip. 3. 13. Sitting still, or negligence, much more go­ing backward is unlike a believer. 5. The conversation of all others, though never so fairded with much civility, and great profession, and many parts, is yet naked and abominable before God, and subject to bruisings, stumblings, and such inconvenien­ces, as feet that are bare are lyable to. 6. A well ordered walk is sure and safe: He that walks uprightly walks surely, Prov. 10. 9. And, saith the Psalmist, Great peace have they who love thy law, and nothing shall offend them, Psal. 119. 165. Their feet are shod against an evil time, and there is nothing safer when offences abound than that.

The second part of the commendation is to the same scope, The joints of thy thighs, &c. It's the coupling and turnings of them, as the word bears; they are also useful in motion, and help the feet to stir, the same thing is intended as in Chap. 5. 15. by his thighs or legs; only it seems to look to the principles of their walk, as the feet do respect their way more immediatly: These are compared to Iewels, which are precious and comely, serving much for adorning; and it is not to ordinary Jewels, to which they are compared, but such as are the work of the hands of a cun­ning skilful artificer, or workman, that is, such as are set orderly and dexterously, by skill and Art; the work not of a novice, but of one that is expert, by which, not only the matter of their practice is holden forth to be solid, but also, in respect of the principles from which their way and duties have their spring and rise, and the manner of their performing them, they are rightly gone about, with an holy kind of Art and dexterity: Which saith, 1. That there are many things necessarily concurring in a well or­dered conversation; there must be skill to do rightly, what is in it self right, to make it commendable: It is needful that holy duties, and what is on the matter called for, be done in the right manner, and according to Art, and not put-by thus and so. 2. Believers are singularly expert, in doing of the same duties of Religion which other men do, they do them in another manner. [Page 381] 3. The several pieces of a holy walk, are in a manner but spilt, when not rightly ordered, and every one put in their own place, like Jewels undexterously set by one that is unskilful. 4. There is an holy Art required to these that would walk commendably, and men naturally are unskilful in such practices, untill they be taught them. 5. Being right in the manner, is no lesse necessary to make a mans way commendable, than to be right in the mat­ter, as much of the commendation lyes in this, as in the other; when these two go together in a believers conversation, it's ex­cellent and beautiful, there is no Jewel, most finely set, compa­rable to a well ordered walk. 6. Believers that use to walk in the way of godlinesse, may attain to this spiritual dexterity and skilfulnesse in a great measure; and there is no other way of at­taining of it, but by accustoming our selves to it; when her feet are once shod, this commendation follows, that the joints of her thighs are like Iewels.

Vers. 2.‘Thy navel is like a round Goblet, which wanteth not liquor, thy belly is like an heap of Wheat set about with Lilies.’

In the second verse, the Lord proceeds from the thighs, to the navel and belly: which parts, were not touched in her commendati­on, chap. 4. These parts in mens bodies have not much beauty in them; and therefore, it seems, that by them the Lord points ra­ther at what is inward and useful, in the spiritual complexion and constitution of believers, than what is outward and visible in their walk, that serving no lesse to their commendation than this.

The navel hath much influence on the intestines, and when it is sound, it furthers much the health of the whole body; So, Prov. 3. 8. it's said, the fear of the Lord shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones, that is, it will be exceeding useful and profit­able for thy well-being, as it's useful for the body to have that part in good case: And on the contrary, a wretched miserable condition (such as is our condition by nature) is described by [Page 382] this, Thy navel was not cut, &c. Ezek 16. 4. It's known also, that in nature, the navel hath much influence on the child in the womb, which may be especially taken notice of here, as appears by the following commendation, namely, that it's like a round goblet, that is, well formed and proportioned (opposit to a navel not cut, Ezek. 16. 4.) which wanteth not liquor, that is, furnished with moisture for the health of the body, or entertainment and nourishment of the child in the womb.

Before we further clear the words, or observe any thing from them, we shall joyn to this the fourth part here commended, and that is, the belly: The word differs in the Original, from that which is translated belly, being spoken of him, chap. 5. 14. and it is taken for the inward parts, Ier. 15. 35. Prov. 18. 8. It hath a special influence on the health of the body, and on the bringing forth of children: It's here compared to an heap of wheat; To an heap, to shew her bignesse, as being with child, and still fruit­full, and that in abundance: To an heap of the grain of wheat, To shew, it was not big with wind, but with good grain, even the best, whereby she feeds him, her self, and others: And so, as in the former similitude, she is represented to be furnished with liquor, so here she is set forth to be furnished with bread, where­by her spiritual livelinesse and healthfulnesse may be understood. Again, this heap of wheat is said to be set about with lilies, not only thereby to expresse it's beautifulnesse, with it's usefulnesse, but also the fruitfulnesse thereof, in having particular graces as lilies growing about it, which are moistened and nourished by these two parts, the navel and the belly. Now we conceive, that most likely (though it be hard to be peremptory) the graces of the Spirit may be understood here, which being infused in their habits, and drawn forth in their actings by the influences of the Spirit, are compared to waters and liquor, and are said to be in the belly of the believer, Ioh. 7. 38. (He that believes on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of waters) because they have such influence on the new man, and (to speak so) are the health of the navel thereof. In sum, the sense of the words comes to this, O princes daughter, thou hast a lively spiritual constitution, by the inward flowings of the Spirit, whereby thy navel is formed and [Page 383] beautified (which was by nature otherwise) and therefore thou art not barren, but fruitful, and that of the most precious fruits. Hence observe, 1. that believers inward constitution and frame, is no lesse beautiful than their outward conversation and walk: This Kings daughter is all glorious within, Psal. 45. 13. 2. Sound­nesse within, or heart-soundnesse is no lesse needful than outward fruits, for compleating a believers commendation; to have the navel well formed, is as necessary and requisit, as to have the feet beautiful with shoes. 3. Inward livelinesse, or a well furnished inside, hath most influence on a believers livelinesse in all exter­nal duties: This keeps all fresh, being like precious liquor which makes Christ's Spouse fruitful and big, and that not with wind, but wheat.

Vers. 3.‘Thy two breasts are like two young Roes that are twins.’

The two breasts (which is the fifth part here commended) are spoken to in this third verse: They were spoken of, Chap. 4. 5. with the same commendation, and we conceive the same thing hinted there, is aimed at here, namely, to shew, that as she was healthful in her self, and prosperous (like that which is said, Iob 21. 24. his breasts are full of milk) so was she both fitted to com­municat, and loving in communicating the graces that was in her, as nurses their milk to their children: Which clears, that the scope in short is to shew, that the believer is not only a beauti­ful bride, but a fruitful mother for bringing forth, vers. 2. and nourishing and bringing-up, v. 3. which was (especially in these times) a great commendation of a wife, and a thing that ingaged husbands to them, Psal. 128. 3. Gen. 29. 34. as on the contrary, barrennesse was a reproach to themselves, and a burden to their husbands: Now, Christ's Bride hath breasts, and is furnished as becomes a mother and a wife, contrary to that of the litle sister, Chap. 8. 8. whose desolate condition is set out by this, that she had no breasts; and this is repeated particularly, to shew the Lords particular taking notice thereof, and his respect thereunto.

Vers. 4.‘Thy neck is as a tower of Ivory; thine eyes like the fish-pools in Heshbon, by the gate of Beth-rabbim: thy nose is as the tower of Lebaanon, which looketh toward Damascus.

In the fourth verse, three more of the Brides parts (which make the sixth, seventh and eighth) are commended. The sixth is the neck: It was spoken of, chap. 4. 4. neither doth the com­mendation differ much: There, it was said to be like the tower of David, here it is as a tower of Ivory, that is, both comely and pre­cious, being made of the Elephants teeth, a tower whereof, must be very precious; and by this we conceive, the great defensive efficacy of faith is set forth, which is still a tower, yet comparable to many, it's so excellent and sure; they dwell safely who are be­lievers, because they dwell in God, and in his son, Jesus Christ. And so we may here observe, 1. Faith is a precious defence; for, Christ is a precious hiding-place, and faith must be precious, be­cause Christ is precious: Hence it is not only precious as Ivory, but much more precious than Gold, 1 Pet. 1. 7. 2. Faith is a sure defence, and is the believers tower, whereto he betakes himself when he hath to do. 3. It is lovely and pleasant to Christ, when believers by faith betake themselves to him; He will never quar­rel with them for it, seing he so commends it. 4. There is no safe tower to any of the world, but what the believer hath; for, he, and he only, hath a tower of Ivory to make use of: Christ is the only rock and sure foundation, and it's only believers that build their house upon him.

The seventh part instanced, is her eyes, which were several times mentioned before; they point at her spiritual discerning, and understanding of spiritual things, and the believing-uptaking of them; in which respect, all natural men are blind, because of their [Page 385] ignorance and unbelief; she only hath eyes. They are compared to fish-pools in Heshbon, at the gate of Beth-rabbim: This city Heshbon is mentioned, Numb. 21. 25, 26. It was a royal city, where Si [...]on King of the Amorits dwelt; and it's like, there hath been some place there called Beth-rabbim, for the great resort that was made thereunto: And the fish-pools that were there, it seems, were excellent and clear, and fit to give a shaddow to these who looked into them. Now it would seem, that believers eyes are compared to these pools, because of the clear, distinct and be­lieving knowledge they have of themselves, of Christ, and of o­ther spiritual objects. And from this we may observe, 1. That solid and distinct knowledge in spiritual things, is very commen­dable. 2. That a believer hath another kind of insight in spirit­ual things, than the most understanding natural man, he hath eyes in respect of him; The natural man (who hath no exprimental, nor believing knowledge of spiritual things) is but blind. 3. He is sharpest sighted that discerns himself, and can rightly take up his own condition; the wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: So believers eyes, or knowledge is compared to a fish-pond, that gives representations of a mans face to him.

The eight particular is, the nose (it was not mentioned in her commendation, Chap. 4.) It is not to be taken here for the whole countenance, but for a part thereof: Therefore it is distinguish­ed from the eyes, and is described as being eminent (like a tower) beyond the rest of the face, and so it is to be applyed to the nose properly, which ariseth with a height on the face, like a tower, and is the feat of smelling to discover what is hurtful, or savory; also anger or zeal appear in it, therefore is it in the He­brew Language in the Old Testament, sometimes put for these, because it shews a real indignation, when a mans anger smokes forth at his nose, Psal. 18. 8. It's said, 1. to be like the tower of Lebnon: There is no particular mention of such a tower, but, that Solomon built there a stately house, 2 Chron. 8. 3. called the house of the forrest of Lebanon, wherein, 2 Chron. 9. 15, 16. he put many targets and shields; and Lebanon being on the north of Iulah, near to Syria (where enemies soon brake out against Solo­mon) it's not unlike, but either this house was made use of as a [Page 386] frontier-tower, or that some other was there builded, for pre­venting of hurt from that hand, to which this alludes. Next, this tower is said to look toward Damascus: Damascus was the head City of Syria; So, Isa. 7. 8. It's said, the head of Syria is Da­mascus; these that dwelt in it, were at that time amongst the most malicious enemies that Israel had: They were so in Davids time, a Sam. 8. 5. he slew two and twenty thousand of them; They were so in Solomons time, 1 King. 11. 24. Rezon (whom God raised up to be an enemy to him) did reign in Damascus; and generally they continued to be so. They lay on the north of Iudah (therefore it's called evil from the north, which came from Syria) and Lebanon was on the north border of Israel next to it: And it's like that for this cause, either Solomon did change that place into a tower, or built some other of new, to be a watch especially against that enemy, which was his chief enemy, to prevent the hurt that might come from that hand; therefore, it's said to look toward (or to the face of) Damascus, as having a special respect to that enemy. Now we conceive, that by this, the Brides watchfulnesse and zeal, in prosecuting and maintaining her spiritual war against her enemies, is understood; As also, her sagacity, in smelling and discovering the stirrings and motions of her spiritual enemies, as the nose doth easily smell and discover what is pleasant or hurtful to sense. Christ's Bride hath many e­nemies, and some more terrible than others; therefore, she hath her watches, and (as it were) sentinels at the post, to observe their motions, especially she hath an eye upon her most inveterat and malicious enemy, the enemy neerest her doors, that is na­turally most predominant, and her great care is to be kept from her iniquity, Psal. 18. 21. This we conceive, agrees both with the scope, and also with the description and comparison here made use of.

Obs. 1. The most beautiful Bride of our Lord Jesus hath ene­mies, and such enemies, as are strongly seated and fortified (as the Syrians at Damascus were) to watch against. 2▪ There are some particular quarters, or enemies, from which, and by which, believers often suffer most; and although they have enemies on all hands, yet is there ordinarily some one particular enemy, more [Page 387] terrible, malicious and predominant than others, from which they are most in danger. 3. Believers should ever be on their watch against those enemies, and must neither make peace with them, nor be negligent to provide against them. 4. Although the believer should not be secure or carelesse, in reference to any ill, but every evil is to be carefully watched against; yet, where one ill doth more often assault him than others, and is more strong, by the concurrence of tentations from without, or from his own inclination within, there the believer hath need of a special watch. 5. This watchfulnesse impartially extended, and constantly maintained, is a main piece of spiritual beauty, and hath much influence on the adorning of a believer, and is a good evidence of a person that is commendable before Jesus Christ.

Vers. 5.‘Thine head upon thee is like Car­mel, and the hair of thine head like Pur­ple: the King is held in the Galleries.’

The first part of vers. 5. contains the ninth and tenth particu­lars, that are commended in the Bride: The ninth is her head; It looks here to be taken for the uppermost part of the head (from which sense and motion do flow) as being distinct from eyes and nose; therefore it is said, Thy head upon thee, to wit, upon and above those parts before mentioned: Next it is said to be like Carmel; which may be understood, 1. as it relates to a fruitful place, mentioned with Sharon, Isa. 35. 2. the excellency of Carmel and Sharon. 2. It may be translated Scarlet or Crimson, as the same word is, 2 Chron. 3. 14. thus it's a rich colour, where­with princes and great men used to be decored; and the hair be­ing in the next words compared to purple, it's not unlike that it is taken for a colour here also.

By head, we must understand either Christ himself, who stands in that relation to the believer, and in respect of dignity is called a head to all men, 1 Cor. 11. 3. Or, 2. (which is not inconsistant [Page 388] with the former) some grace in the believer, acting on Christ, and quickning the new life; and seing the scope is to commend the believer from inherent grace, and the new nature being com­pared to an inner-man, which is described from it's several parts, and so must have an head, we think that it is some particular grace that is here especially aimed at. By head then, we conceive the grace of hope may be understood, it being the grace whereby the soul still sticks to Christ, expecting the injoyment of him; for, not only is hope a grace necessary and commendable (and so it cannot be unsuitable to the scope, to take it in upon one branch or other) but it may be called the head, 1. Because it is above, having Christ himself for it's object; and though the word may be said to be the object of hope, yet it's not so much the word, as Christ held forth in the word; and therefore, hope is said to be within the vail, Heb. 6. 19. for, properly we hope for him, be­cause of his word, and so he is our hope, 1 Tim. 1. 1. 2. Hope is a grace, which hath it's rise from faith, and is supported by it, as the head is by the neck; though hope be some way above faith, yet doth faith sustain it, and give it a being; the believer hopes, because he believes. 3. It hath much influence on all spiritual duties, and especially on our consolation, and is useful in the spi­ritual war, as being an essential piece of the believer's spiritual armour, and is therefore called the helmet or head-piece of sal­vation, 1 Thess. 5. 8. and the head-piece may be some way called the head; So hope, which keepeth (to say so) graces head, may not unfitly be called the head, seing without it the head will be at least without it's helmet: And taking it so, for this special piece of the believers armour, it follows well on watchfulnesse: however, it is certain, that hope bears up the believer under difficulties, Rom. 8. 24. and that it rests on Christ, who therefore is called our hope: And so, corelatively being considered, as acting on him, it may get the name of head, as faith is upon the like account called our righteousnesse, and thus our head is Christ hoped upon: And the commendation, that it's like Crim­son, will suit well with this interpretation, the red or Crimson colour having a special reference to Christ's death and sufferings, which puts the right colour on our hope, and makes it of this [Page 389] dye, that it's never ashamed nor stained, Rom. 5. 3. Obs. 1. The exer­sing of hope is a necessary piece of a believers beauty, and as to have the heart sustained and comforted in the hope of what is not seen, is both necessary and profitable; so, when by the power of hope, a believers head is helpt up, and kept above in all waters, that he fink not, it is his singular ornament. 2. Hardly will a be­liever be in good case, without this grace of hope, and when o­ther graces are lively, hope will be so also: These pieces of ar­mour, and spiritual decoring go together. 3. There is no other in the world that hath a well grounded hope but the believer; it's only the believer, whose head is like Crimson: all others, their hope makes ashamed, and their confidence shall be rooted out, whileas his will be alwayes fresh and green.

The tenth and last particular here commended in the Bride, is her hair: This was spoken of, Chap. 4. 1. But here, both the word in the Original, and the commendation that is given of it, do differ from that which is there recorded; The word here translated hair, is not elsewhere to be found: It comes from a root that gives ground to expound it smalnesse, or tendernesse; therefore, it's taken by some, to signifie a pin, or some of the small decore­ments of the head: and it is compared to purple, for it's preci­ousnesse, lovelinesse, and other reasons formerly mentioned in speaking of that colour.

We take the scope here to be, to shew the universal loveliness and preciousnesse of grace in a believer, even in the least things; What shall I say (saith he) that thy feet, navel, eyes and head are beautiful? even thy hair, or the pins that dresse it, are lovely and excellent: so glorious, princely and stately a creature is this Bride, that there is not a wrong pin or hair to be found upon her: And thus, all the commendation is well closed with this. By the hair then, we conceive is understood, even the meanest gestures and circumstances of a believers walk, which being or­dered by grace, are beautiful, and serve much to the adorning of the Gospel.

Obs. 1. That grace makes an observable change upon the whole man, it regulats even the least things, it orders looks, gestures and circumstances, wherein often men take too much liberty. [Page 390] 2. Grace vented in the meanest piece of a Christian carriage, is very beautiful; it puts a special beauty and lustre upon the meanest cir­cumstances of the Christians actions: Or, when a believer squares all his walk, even in the least things, by the right rule, it makes his way exceeding lovely; whereas, often a little folly, or un­watchfulnesse in such, proves like a dead flee, that makes a whole box of ointment to stink, Eccles. 10. 1. 3. Our Lord takes no­tice of the smallest things in a believer, even of the hair, yea, of the smallest thereof; There is nothing in his people so mean, but he takes notice of it, and there is nothing so little, but grace should be exercised therein: In a word, all things in a believer should be suitable, eyes, hair, head, &c.

The particulars of the Brides commendation, of which we have spoken (if they were understood) certainly they contain much; but, as if these were little, he proceeds in expressing this beauty of, or rather his love to, his Bride, in three wonderful expressi­ons, as proofs of what he hath said concerning her lovelinesse and beauty, or (if we may improperly so call them) aggravations thereof, whereby that commendation is raised and heightned to an exceeding great height. The first is in the end of the fifth verse, and it is this, the King is held (or bound) in the Galleries: The sense in a word is, what ravishing lovelinesse is this that is to be found in this Bride, that the King is thereby (as it were) held and bound, and must stand to look upon it, he is so delighted with it? 1. This King is our Lord Jesus, the Prince of the Kings of the Earth; he is not only here, but elsewhere often styled the King, because he is eminently so, and it's much to the believers consolation that he is so, if the faith of it were fixed in them. Our Lord is a most royal kingly person. 2. The Galleries here, are the same that were, Chap. 1. 17. called there Rafters, The word there is our Galleries: Galleries are places where great men use to walk, and here (Christ and the believer having one house, wherein they dwell together) the Galleries signifie the means or Ordinances, wherein, in a more special way they come to walk together. 3. To be held (or bound as the word is) signifies a holy constraint that was on him, that he could do no otherwise, because he would do no otherwise, it was so delight­some [Page 391] to him, as, Chap. 3. 4. and, 4. 9. and Chap. 6. 5. 12. where, on the matter, the same thing is to be found. The word here used, is borrowed from the nature of affection amongst men, that de­tains them to look on what they love: In sum, this in an abrupt manner comes in on the close of the particulars of the Brides commendation; as if it were said, So lovely art thou, that Christ as captivat, or overcome, cannot withdraw, but is held (as, chap. 3. 4.) to look upon thy beauty; which is the more wonderful, that he is so royal a person, whom enemies, death and devils could not detain, yet he is so prevailed over by a believer. And it is observable, that there is not one thing oftner mentioned in this Song, than the wonderful expressions of Christ's yielding himself to be prevailed over by them, as if his might were to be imployed for them, rather than for himself, and as if he glo­ried in this, that he is overcome by them, which is indeed the glory of his grace. Obs. 1. There are some more than ordinary admissions to neernesse with Christ, that believers may meet with; which are more than ordinary for clearnesse, so as they may be said to have him in the Galleries, and also for continuance, so as they may be said to have him held there. 2. Christ Jesus by the holy violence of his peoples graces (so to speak) may be held and captivat to stay and make his abode with them; it's good then to wrestle with Christ, that he may be held and prevailed with. 3. Holinesse in a believers walk, hath much influence on the at­taining and entertaining of the most sensible manifestations of Christ: Thus he is held in the Galleries. 4. Our Lord Jesus thinks no shame to be out of love prevailed over by his people; yea, he esteems it his honour, therefore is this so often recorded for the commendation of his love, and the comfort of believers.

Vers. 6.‘How fair, and how pleasant art thou, O Love, for delights!’

This verse contains the second expression, whereby the Brides commendation is heightned, in three things, 1. By the title he gives her, O Love, for delights! He calls her in the abstract, love [Page 392] it self, there can be no more said, she is not only lovely, but love it self; for delights is added as the reason of it, because of the various and abounding delights that are to be found in her; she is (to say so) a person so excellently beautiful, and hath so many lovely things in her. The second thing is the commendation he joyns with this title, and it is in two words, 1. She is fair: This looks to the external lovelinesse of her person. 2. She is plea­sant, this respects the sweetnesse, and amiableness of her inward dis­position: These two may be separate in others, but they meet in the believer, as they do in Christ; therefore she had given him these two epithets, chap. 1. 16. The third thing is the manner of expression, which heightens all this: It's expressed with an How? How fair, &c? (as, chap. 4. 10.) shewing an incomparable­nesse, and an inexpressiblenesse to be in her beauty: whereby in sum, the love of this blessed Bridegroom shews his satisfaction in his Bride, by multiplying such wonderful expressions, as hold forth the high esteem that he hath of her. Obs. 1. There is no­thing so lovely in all the world, as grace in a believer; the most delightsome pleasant thing in the world is nothing to this. 2. The love that Christ hath to his people, is inexpressible; although he useth many significant wayes to expresse it, yet must it close with an indefinite expression and question, to which an answer cannot be made, How fair? It cannot be told how fair, and men cannot take it up otherwise than by wondering at it. 3. This lovelinesse of the Bride, and the Kings being kept in the Galleries, or the sense of the injoyment of his presence go together; and there­fore is it subjoyned here, as the cause of the former, like one that is ravished with the admiration of some excellent sight, he stayes and beholds it, and O (saith he) how pleasant is it! The believer is the uptaking object of the love of Christ, wherein he delights. 4. There is no lovely nor delightsome thing in all the world, that Christ cares for, or esteems of, as he doth of the be­liever: Grace makes a person Christ's love for delights: riches, honour, favour, parts, will be of no value without this; where­as one without these, may with this, have Christ's affection in­gaged to them.

Vers. 7.‘This thy stature is like to a Palm­tree, and thy brests to clusters of Grapes.’
Vers. 8.‘I said, I will go up to the Palm-tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof: now also thy brests shall be as clusters of the Vine, and the smell of thy nose like Apples.’
Vers. 9.‘And the roof of thy mouth like the best Wine, for my Beloved, that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep, to speak.’

The former two expressions, v.—5. 6. have fallen from him (to speak so) in a ravished, abrupt manner, by way of exclama­tion: The third way how he amplifies the commendation of the Bride, follows, vers. 7, 8, 9. (as subjoyned to the preceeding particular description) And this amplification is expressed these three wayes: 1. By commending her stature, as the result of all her parts (formerly described) put together, with a repetition of one of these parts mainly taken notice of, vers. 7. 2. By shew­ing his resolution to haunt her company, by which his respect to her appears, vers. 8. 3. By promising gracious effects to follow on his performing the former promise, of his keeping company with her, vers. 8, 9.

The seventh verse then speaks to two things, Her stature and her brests; Her stature respects all the bygone parts being now put together, for so they represent the whole stature: And by stature is understood the proportionablenesse and comelinesse that [Page 394] is in the whole, being considered as jointly united in one body, as well as severally (as was said of him, Chap. 5. 16.) and the re­lative this, clears it, this, that is, this which is made up of all the se­veral parts I have been enumerating, they being put together, make thy stature, and thy stature thus made up of these members and parts, is like the Palm-tree: And so from this similitude, her stature is commended: The Palm-tree is recorded in Scripture to have diverse commendable properties, 1. It's straight; therefore it's said of the idols that they are upright like the Palm-tree, Jer. 5. 10. straightnesse is comely in a stature, He was like to a Cedar, Chap. 5. 15. she is like to a Palm-tree here. 2. A Palm-tree hath good fruits, the Daits are the fruit thereof. 3. It's a tree of long continuance, and keeps long green; Hence, Psal. 92. 12, 14. It's said of the righteous, they shall flourish like the Palm-tree; there­fore, Ioel 1. 12. it's an evidence of great drought, when the Palm-tree withereth. 4. They were looked on as most fit to be used in times when men were about to expresse their joy in the most solemn manner, and so when Christ is coming triumphantly to Ierusalem, Joh. 12. they cut down branches of Palm-trees, to carry before him, and, Rev. 7. 4. these Victors have Palms in their hands, and in Levit. [...]. 40. we find branches of these trees commanded to be made use of in the joyful feast of Tabernacles, and the seventy Palm-trees that were found by the Israelits at Elim, are mentioned, Numb. 33. 9. as refreshful, so is the City of Palm-trees also mentioned as a most pleasant place, Deut. 34. 3. All these may be applyed to believers, who, both by the change that is wrought upon them by the grace of Christ, and also, as they are in him by faith, are such; They are straight, not crooked, but beautiful and flourishing, and to him refreshful, as the next verse shews, being the living signs and monuments of his victory over Death and the Devil. Obs. 1. There ought not only to be in a believer, a thriving of graces distinctly, but a right joyning, ordering, and compacting of them together, that they may keep a proportionablenesse, and make up complexly a lovely stature: that is, not only should all graces be kept in exercise together, but as members of one new man, each ought to be subservient to another, for making up of a sweet harmony in the result; love [Page 395] should not wrong zeal, nor zeal prudence; but every grace, as being a distinct member of the new man, should be settled in it's own place, to make the stature lovely. 2 When this proportion is kept, and every grace hath it's own place, it is exceeding lovely, like a beautiful stature; whereas grace, when acting un­orderly (if then it may be called grace) is like an eye, beautiful in it self; but not being in the right place of the face, doth make the stature unlovely and disproportionable: It's not the least part of spiritual beauty, when not only one hath all graces, but hath every one of them acting according to their several na­tures, even when they are acting joyntly together. 3. This fur­thers much believers fruitfulnesse, and continues them fresh and green, when the whole stature of grace is right, and kept in a due proportionablenesse.

The particular that is again repeated, is her breasts, which are compared to a cluster of grapes, or wine, as it is in the eight verse, We conceive, by brests here, is signified her love and affection, whereby he is entertained, So, Chap. 1. 13. he shall lye all night between my brests; and so it agreeth well with that expression, Prov. 5. 19. let her brests satisfie thee at all times, and be thou alwayes ravisht with her love: This is confirmed from the similitude unto which it is compared, and that is, grapes, or wine; Shewing, that her love is refreshful, and cordial (to speak so) to him: Thy brests (saith he) that is, to lye between thy brests, and to be kindly entertained by thee, is more than wine to me: And this is the same thing which was said, Chap. 4. 10. How much better is thy love than wine? And the similitude being the same, we think the thing is the same that is thereby set forth and commended, and it is singularly taken notice of by Christ through all the Song, and marked in Chap. 4. and here, as that which makes all her sta­ture so lovely in it self: Love makes every grace act (therefore is it the fulfilling of the law) and makes grace in it's actings beau­tiful and lovely to him. These words then, may either express, 1. the lovelinesse of her love: Or, 2. the delight which he took in it, as esteeming highly of it; she was so very lovely, that no­thing refreshed him so much as her brests: Which expression (as all the rest) holds out intense spiritual-love, under the expressions [Page 396] that are usual amongst men. And it sayes, 1. that the beauty of grace is a ravishing beauty; or Christ's love delights in the love of his people; a room in their hearts is much prized by him. 2. Christ hath a complacency and acquiescense in his people, which he hath in none other, and where more grace is, there his complacency (though one in it self) doth the more manifest it self. 3. When a believer is right and in good case, then his love to Christ is warm: And particularly, a right frame is by nothing sooner evidenced, than by the affections; and it's ordinarily ill or well with us, as our love to Christ is vigorious or cold.

The second way how our Lord expresseth his love to his Bride, is in the beginning of vers. 8. and it's by expressing of his resolu­tion to accompany with her, beyond any in the world: She was compared to a Palm-tree in the former verse, Now (saith he) I will go up to the Palm-tree (that is, to the Palm-tree before mentioned) It's on the matter the same with that promise, chap. 4. 6. I will get me to the mountain of Myrrhe, &c. Consider here, 1. the thing promised or proposed, and that is, his going up to the Palm-tree, and taking hold of the boughs thereof: That the scope is to hold forth his purpose of manifesting himself to her, is clear, 1. By the dependence of t