« PreviousContinue »
thorn, than thou in thy glory thou receivest from me overlookest all the assemblies of aliens and unregenerates. ·
THE CHURCH. II. 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. And, to return to thy own praises, as some fruitful and well-grown apple tree, in comparison of all the barren trees of the wild forest, so art thou, () my beloved Saviour, to me, in comparison of all men; and under thy comfortable shadow alone, have I ever wont to find safe shelter against all nine afflictions, all my temptations and infirmities, against all the curses of the law, and dan. gers of judgment, and to cool myself after all the scorching beams of thy Father's displeasure, and besides, to feed and satisfy my soul with the sovereign fruit of thy holy word unto eternal life.
II. 4 He brought me to the banquetting house, and his banner over me was love. He hath graciously led me by his Spirit, into the midst of the mysteries of godliness; and hath plentifully broached unto me the sweet wines of his Scriptures and Sacraments. And look how soldiers are drawn by their colours from place to place, and cleave fast to their ensign; so his love, which he spread forth in my heart, was my only banner, whereby I was both drawn to him, directed by him, and fastened upon him.
II. 5 Stay me with fagons, comfort me with apples : for I am sick of love. And now, ( ye faithful Evangelists, Apostles, Teachers, apply unto me, with all care and diligence, all the cordial promises of the Gospel : these are the full flagons of that spiritual wine, which only can cheer up my soul ; these are the apples of that tree of life, in the midst of the garden, wbich can feed me to immortality. Oh come and apply these unto my heart; for I am even overcome with a longing expectation and desire of my delayed glory.
II. 6 His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me. And while I am thus spiritually languishing in this agony of de. sire, let my Saviour employ both bis hands to relieve mine infirmity: let him comfort my head and my heart, my judgment and affections, which both complain of weakness, with the lively heat of his gracious embracements; and so let us sweetly rest together.
II. 7 I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor uwake my love, till he please. In the mean tiine, I charge you, () all ye that profess any friendship or affinity with me, I charge you, by whatsoever is comely, dear, and pleasant unto you, as you will aroid my uttermost cen, sures, take heed how you vex and disquiet my merciful Saviour, and grieve his Spirit, and wrong his Name, with your vain and lewd conversation; and do not dare, by the least provocation of your sin, to interrupt his peace.
II, 8 The voice of my beloved ! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. Ló, I have no sooner called, but he hears and answers me with bis loving voice: neither doth he only speak to me afar, but he comes to me with much willingness and celerity ; so willingly, that no human resistance can hinder bim : neither the hillocks of my lesser infirmities, nor the nnuntains of my grosser sins once repented of, can stay his merciful pace towards me;
II. 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 lattice. So swiftly, that no roe or hind can fully resemble him in this his speed and nimbleness : and lo, even now, before I can speak it, is he come near unto me, close to the door and wall of my heart. And though this wall of my Hesh hinder my full fruition of him, yet lo, I see him by the eye of faith, looking upon me; I see him as in a glass ; I see him shining gloriously, through the gates and windows of his word and sacraments, upon my soul.
II, 10 My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. And now, methinks, I hear him speak to me in a gracious invita. tion, and say, Arise, O my Church, rise up, whether from thy security or fear: hide not thy head any longer, () my beautiful Spouse, for danger of thine enemies ; neither suffer thyself to be pressed with the dulness of thy nature, or the careless sleep of thy sins; but come forth into the comfortable light of my presence, and shew thyself cheerful in me.
II. 11 For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. For behold, all the cloudy winter of thy afflictions is passed : all the tempests of temptations are blown over : the heaven is clear; and now there is nothing, that may not give thee cause of delight.
II. 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; Every thing now resembles the face of a spiritual spring: all the sweet fowers and blossoms of holy profession put furth, and shew themselves in their opportunities : now is the time of that heavenly melody, which the cheerful saints and angels make in mine ears, while they sing songs of deliverance, and praise me with their Hallelujahs, and say, Glory to God on high, in earth peace, good will towards men.
II. 13 The figtree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. trise, my love, my fair one, and come away. What speak I of blossoms? behold, those fruitful vines and fig. trees of my faithful ones, whom my husbandry hath carefully tended and dressed, yield forth both pleasant, though tender,
fruits of obedience, and the wholesome and comfortable savours of better desires ; wherefore now, O my dear Christ, shake off all that dull security, wherewith thou hast been held, and come forth and enjoy me.
II. 14° 0 my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice ; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. () my beautiful, pure, and chaste Spouse, which, like unto some solitary dove, hast long hid thy head in the secret and inaccessible clefts of the rocks, out of the reach and knowledge of thy persecutors; however thou art concealed from others, shew thyself in thy works and righteousness unto me, and let me be ever plied with thy words of imploration and thanksgiving: for thy voice, though it be in mourning, and thy face, though it be sad and blubbered, are exceedingly pleasing unto me.
II. 15 Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines : for our vines have tender grapes. And in the mean time, Ő all ye that wish well to my Name and Church, do your utmost endeavour to deliver her from her secret enemies ; not sparing the least, who, either by heretical doctrine or p:ofane conversation, hinder the course of the Gospel, and pervert the faith of many, especially of those that have newly given up their names to me, and are but newly entered into the profession of godliness. * II. 16 My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies. My beloved Saviour is mine, through my faith; and I am his, through his love : and we both are one, by virtue of that blessed union on both parts, whereby we mutually enjoy each other with all-sufficient contentment. And how worthily is my love placed upon him, who leadeth me forth into pleasant pastures, and at whose right hand there is the fulness of joy for evermore!
II. 17°Until 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. Come therefore, () my Saviour, and until the day of thy glorious appearance shall shine forth to the world, wherein our spiritual marriage shall be consummate, and until all these shadows of ignorance, of infidelity, of troubles of conscience, and of outward tribulations be utterly dispersed and chased away, come and turn thee to me again: thou, which, to the carnal eyes of the world seemest absent, come quickly, and delay not; but, for the speed of thy return, be like unto some swift roe or hind, upon those smooth hills of Gilead, which Jordan severs from the other part of Jewry. ,
III. 1 By night on my bed I sought him whon my soul loveth : I sought him, but I found him not. My security told me, that my Saviour was near unto my soul, yea with it, and in it; but when, by serious and silent meditation, I
$earched my own heart, I found that, for ought my own sense could discern, he was far off from me.
III. 2 I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth : I sought him, but I found him not. Then thought I with myself, Shall I lie still contented with this want? No, I will stir up myself; and the help I cannot find in myself, I will seek in others: of all that have been experienced in all kind of difficulties, of all deep philosophers, of the wisest and honestest worldlings, I will diligently inquire for my Saviour : amongst them I sought him, yet could receive no answer to my satisfaction. '
III. 3. The watchmen that go about the city found me : to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth? Missing him there, I ran to those wise and careful Teachers, whom God hath set as so many watchmen upon the walls of his Jerusalem, who sooner found me than I could ask after them; to whom I said, as thinking no man could be ignorant of my love, Can you give me no direction where I might find him whom my soul loveih ?
III. 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 mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me. Of whom when I had almost left hoping for comfort, that gracious Saviour, who would not suffer me to be tempted above my measure, presented himself to my soul : lo then, by a new act of faith, I laid fast hold upon him ; and will not let him any more part from my joyful embracements, until both I have brought him home fully into the seat of my conscience, and have won him to. a perpetual cohabitation with me, and a full accomplishment of my love, in that Jerusalem which is above, which is the mother of us all.
CHRIST. III. 5 I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please. Now that my distressed Church hath been, all the night long of my seeming absence, toiled in seeking me, I charge you, O all that profess any friendship with me, I charge you, by wbatsoever is comely, dear, and pleasant unto you, that, as you will answer it, you trouble not her peace with any unjust or unseasonable suggestions, with uncharitable contentions, with any novelties of Hoctrine ; but suffer her to rest sweetly in that divine truth which she hath received, and this true apprehension of me wherein she rejoiceth.
III. B Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillar's of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant ? Oh who is this? how admirable! how lovely! who but my Church, that ascendeth thus gloriously out of the wilderness of
the world, wherein she hath thus long wandered, into the blessed mansions of my Father's house, all perfumed with the graces of perfect sanctification, mounting right upward into her glory, like some straight pillar of smoke, that ariseth from the most rich and pleasant composition of odours that can be devised !
THE CHURCH. III. 7 Behold his bed, which is Solomon's ; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel. I am ascended, and lo how glorious is this place, where I shall eternally enjoy the presence and love of my Saviour! How far doth it exceed the earthly magnificence of Solomon! About his . bed do attend a guard of threescore choicest men of Israel :
III. 8 They all hold swords, being expert in war :' every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night. All stout warriors, able and expert to bandle the sword; which, for more readiness, each of them wears hanging upon his thigh, . so as it may be bastily drawn upon any sudden danger : but about this heavenly pavilion of my Saviour attend millions of angels, spiritual soldiers, mighty in power, ready to be commanded service by him.
III. 9 King Solomon made himself a chariot (or, bed) of the wood of Lebanon. The chariot, or bed, that Solomon made, so much admired of the world, was but of the cedar's of Lebanon ;
III. 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 pillars but of silver, and the bedstead of gold; the tester or canopy, but of purple; the coverlet wrought with the curious and painful needlework of the maids of Jerusalem : but this celestial resting place of my God is not made with bands, nor of any corruptible metal, but is full of incomprehensible light, shining evermore with the glorious presence of God.
III. 11 Go forth, 0 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 gladness of his heart. And as the outward state, so the majesty of his person, is above all comparison. Come forth, () ye daugbters of Zion, lay aside all private and earthly affections, look upon King Solomon, as he sits solemnly crowned in the day of his greatest royalty and triumph; and compare his highest pomp, with the divine magnifi. cence of my Saviour, in that day when his blessed marriage shall be fully perfected above, to the eterual rejoicing of himself and his Church, and see whether there be any proportion betwixt them.
. CHRIST. IV. 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 gouts, that appear from mount Gilead.