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A DISCOVERY of the NEAR and DEAR LOVE, UNION and COMMUNION, betwirt Christ.
and his Church ;
BETWIXT HIM AND EVERY BELIEVING SQUL.
FOURTH, Fifth, and Sixth Chapters of CANTICLES.
CANTICLES v. 1. " I have come into my garden, my fifter, my Spouse ; I have eaten
my honeycomb with my honey ; I have drank my wine, with my milk: Eat, О friends ; drink, yea drink abundantly, 0 beloved!
common understanding ; but as none entered into the holy of holies, but the high priest, so none can enter into the mystery of this Song of Songs, but such as have more near communion with Christ. Songs, and especially marriage-fongs, ferve to express mens own joys, and others praises. So this book contains the mutual joys, and mutual praises, bet wixt
Christ and his church.
And as-Christ and his church are the greatest persons that partake of human nature, so whatsoever is excellent in the whole
world, is borrowed to set out the excellencies of these two great lovers.
It is called Solomon's Song, who, next unto Christ, was the greatest son of wisdom that ever the church bred; whose understanding, as it was large as the sand of the sea, fo his affections, especially that of love, was as large ; as we may fee by his many wives, and by the delight he fought to take in whatsoever nature could afford. Which affection of love in him mifplaced, had been his undoing, but that he was one beloved of God; who, by his fpirit, raised his foul to lovely objects of a higher nature. Here, in this argument, there is no danger for the deepest wit, or the largest affection (yea of a Solomon) to overreach; for the knowledge of Christ to his church, is above all knowledge-Ephef. iii. 19. The angels themselves may admire it, though they cannot comprehend it. It may well therefore be called the Song of Solomon ; the most excellent song of a man of the highest
conceit and deepest apprehension, and on the highest matters-the intercourse betwixt Christ, the highest Lord of Lords, and his best beloved contracted spouse.,
There are divers things in this Song, that a corrupt heart, (unto which all things are defiled), may take offence at; but to the pure all things are pure. Such a sinful abuse of this heavenly book is far from the intention of the Holy Ghost in it; which is, by stooping low to us, to take advantage to raise us higher unto him ; that by taking advantage of the sweetest paffage of our life (marriage), and the most delightful affection (love), in the sweetest manner of expression (by a song), he might carry up the soul to things of a heavenly nature. We see in fummer, that one heat weakens another; and a great light, being near a Jittle one, draws away and obscures the flame of the other : fo it is when the affections are taken up higher to their fit object, they die unto all earthly things, whilst that heavenly flame confumes and wastes all base affections and earthly desires. Amongst other ways of mortification, there are two remarkable :
1. By embittering all earthly things unto us, whereby the affections are deadened to them.
2. By fhewing more noble, excellent, and fit objects.
That the foul, ifsuing more largely and strongly into them, may be diverted, and so by degrees die unto other things; the holy spirit bath chosen this way in this Song ; by elevating and raising our affections and love, to take it off from other things, that so it might run in its right channel. It is a pity that a sweet stream should not rather run into a garden, than into a puddle, What a pity is it that man, having in him such excellent affections, as love, joy, and delight, should cleave to dirty base things that are worse than himself, so becoming debased like them? Therefore, the spirit of God, out of mercy and pity to man, would raise up his affections, by taking comparison from earthly things, leading to higher matters, that only deserve love, joy, delight, and admiration. Let God's stooping to us, occasion our rising up unto him ; for here, the greatest things-the mystery of mysteries, the communion between Christ and his church, is set out in the familiar comparison of a marriage, that so we might the better see it in the glass of comparison, which we cannot so directly conceive of, as we may see the sun in the water, whofe beams we cannot so directly look upon. Only our care must be, not to look so much on the colours as on the picture ; and not so much on the picture, as on the person itself reprefented ; that we look not fo much to the resemblance, as to the person resembled.
Some would have Solomon, by a spirit of prophecy, to take here a view of all the time, from his age, to the fecond coming of Christ; and, in this Song, as in an abridgement, to set down the several passages and periods of the church, in several ages, as containing divers things which are more correspondent to one age of the church than another. But howsoever this song may contain (we deny not) a story of the church in several ages; yet this hinders not, but that most passages of it agree to the spiritual state of the church in every age, as most interpreters have thought. In this Song, there is,
1. A strong defire of the church, of nearer communion with Christ; and then,
2. Some declining again in affection.
3. After this we have her recovery and regaining again of love ; after which,
4. The church falls again into a declining of affection, whereupon follows a further strangeness of Christ to her than before ; which continues until,
5. That the church perceiving of Christ's constant affection
unto her, notwithstanding her, unkind dealing, recovers and cleaves faster to Christ, than ever before-chap. iii.
These paffages agree to the experience of the best Christians in the state of their own lives. This obfervation must carry strength through this whole Song, That there is the same regard of the whole church, and of every particular member, in regard of the chiefest privileges that accompany salvation. There is the same reason of every drop of water, as of the whole ocean-all is water; and of every spark of fire, as of the whole element of fire-all is fire; of those homogeneal bodies, as we call them, there is the same respect of the part, and of the whole. And therefore, as the whole church is the spouse of Christ, so is every particular christian ; and as the whole church defires still nearer communion with Christ, so doth every particular member. But to come to the words :
I am come into my garden, &c. The chapter is not so well broken and divided from the former as it might have been ; for it were better and more consequent, that the last verse of the former chapter were added to the beginning of this.
Cant. iv. 16.--- Awake, O north wind, and come, thou fouth, blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out ; let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits."
And therefore, by reason of the connexion of this chapter with the former verse, we will first speak somewhat of it briefly, only to make way for that which follows. The words contain,
1. A turning of Christ's speech to the winds to blow upon his garden: with the end, why? « That the spices thereof may flow out."
2. We have an invitation of Christ, by the church, to come unto his garden, with the end, “ To eat his pleasant fruits.” It
may be a question, Whether this command be the words of Christ, or the desire of his spouse ?
Answ.-The words are spoken by Christ, because he calls it my
garden;" and the church after invités him to eat of « his pleasant fruits," not of hers; yet the words may be likewise.