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Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume Two
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[65] Prov. iv. 23. “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” It is probable here is an allusion to the blood’s issuing from the heart. The heart is the fountain of the blood, which is called the life. Gen. ix. 4. and other places. Solomon was so great a philosopher, that doubtless he understood that the heart was the fountain of the blood.

[462] Prov. xxx. 27. “The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands.” The following is taken from the Evening Post of January 4th, 1748. Extract of a letter from Transylvania, Aug. 23, concerning the locusts that had lately appeared there.

“These dreadful creatures with which we are afflicted, move in two columns; the first places they invaded were the territories of Bellegisch, and Banoize, where they passed the night; the next morning they directed their flight towards Peekska, Maradick, &c. And the day following towards Irriga, where they have ate the leaves, the grass, the cabbages, the melons and cucumbers, to the very roots. Yesterday they were in motion towards Schuliom, bending their flight manifestly towards Zealmo and the parts thereabouts. They continue in the air, or if one may use the expression, they march generally two hours and a half at a time. They form a close compact column about fifteen yards deep, in breadth about four musket shot, and in length near four leagues. They move with such force, or rather precipitation, that the air trembles to such a degree as to shake the leaves upon the trees. They darken the sky in such a manner, that when they passed over us, I could not see my people at twenty feet distance.

“P. S. At this instant we have notice that two swarms more are approaching, which after having settled in the neighbourhood of Warasch, have returned back by Nerraden and Iasack, making a prodigious buzz, or humming noise, as they passed.” The same account is also in the Boston Gazette of January 26th, 1748.

[90] Eccles i. 6. “The wind goeth towards the south, and turneth about unto the north, it whirleth about continually, and the wind retuneth again according to his circuit.” Whenever the wind blows from one quarter for a long time there must needs be a circulation in the atmosphere. When the wind blows from the north, there must at the same time be another wind from the south, or in some other place, otherwise long and strong winds would leave some regions empty of air, and it would mightily heap up in others. This I take to be what is meant in this place.

[91] Eccles. ii. 16. “There is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool.” Man’s reason naturally expects a future reward, and that all the good, that good and wise men have of their labour, should not be confined to this short life.

[316] Eccles. vi. 3. “So that the days of his years be many and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial. I say that an untimely birth is better than he.” Have no burial, i. e. is one that God takes no care of in his death, does him no honour, takes no care of either soul or body, as having any value for, or care of, either, or any respect for their memory. For it is the wicked that the wise man is here speaking of, the same that is spoken of chap. viii. 12, 13. which is a place very parallel with this. And it will be further evident by comparing this and the following verse with chap. v. 13-17. Burial is the respect which friends show to the memory and remains of those that are dead. God will show no regard to any thing that remains of wicked men after death. God treats their souls when they die, and will treat their bodies at the resurrection, with contempt, as men treat the dead bodies of those creatures they have no honour or regard for, and are abominable to them, as are the carcasses of unclean beasts. Jer. xxii. 19. “He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.” And Isa. xiv. 19, 20. “But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with the sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcass trodden under feet. Thou shalt be joined unto them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land.” God takes care of the righteous when they die, he finds a repository of rest for their souls, and their dust is precious to him. As God buried Moses in the mount, they are gathered to their fathers and received into Abraham’s bosom, but God treats the souls of the wicked when they die as men treat the dead, putrid carcass of an ass or a dog: they are cast forth out of the city of God’s Jerusalem, and shall be for ever shut out thence.

[147] Solomon’s Song. The name by which Solomon calls this song, confirms me in it that it is more than an ordinary love song, and that it was designed for a divine song, and of divine authority; for we read, 1 Kings iv. 32. that Solomon’s songs were a thousand and five; this he calls the Song of songs, that is, the most excellent of all his songs, which it seems very probable to me to be upon that account, because it was a song of the most excellent subject, treating of the love, union, and communion between Christ and his church; of which, marriage and conjugal love was but a shadow. These are the most excellent lovers, and their love the most excellent love.

Mr. Henry, in the introduction to his Exp. of this book, says, “It appears that this book was taken in a spiritual sense by the Jewish church, for whose use it was first composed, as appears by the Chaldee paraphrase, and the most ancient Jewish expositors.” In the same place he says, “In our belief both of the divine extraction and spiritual exposition of this book, we are confirmed by the ancient, constant, and convincing testimony, both of the church of the Jews, to whom were committed the oracles of God, and who never made any doubt of the authority of this book, and of the Christian church, which happily succeeded them in that trust and honour.”

[231] The Book of Solomon’s Song. The divinity of this song is confirmed from the allusions there seem to be in the New Testament to things herein contained; and particularly Christ, in John iv. 10, 14. speaking of a well of living water, seems to allude to the 15th verse of the 4th chapter. of this song, “a fountain of gardens, a well of living water.” So in Eph. v. 18. there seems to be an eye to chap. v.1. of this song. See Notes on that passage in Ephesians.

[336] It is one argument that the Book of Canticles is no common love song, that the bridegroom or lover there spoken of so often calls his beloved, “My sister, my spouse.” This well agrees with Christ’s relation to believers, who is become our brother and near kinsman by taking upon him our nature, and is our brother, and the son of our mother by his incarnation, as thereby he became a son of the church, and used the ordinances appointed in it, and so has sucked the breasts of our mother, and we are become his brothers also by the adoption of his Father. But this appellation would not well suit a common spouse among the Jews, who were so strictly forbidden to marry any that were near of kin to them, and particularly to marry a sister. Lev. xviii. 9. “The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or the daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.” It is neither likely that the Jews would marry such in Solomon’s time, nor that it would be the custom to compare their spouses to such, especially that they would insist so much on such an appellation as though it was an amiable thing, and a thing to be thought of and mentioned with delight and pleasure, to have a spouse that was a sister, when God’s law taught them to dread and abhor the thought of it.

[436] The Book of Canticles. The following places in the Psalms are a confirmation that by her, whom the bridegroom in this book calls “My love,” “My dove,” “My sister,” “My spouse,” and the like, is meant the church, viz. Psal. xxii. 20. xxxv. 17. lx. 4, 5. cviii. 6. cxxvii. 2. lxxiv. 19.

[460] The Book of Solomon’s Song, no common love song, but a divine song, respecting the union between the Messiah and the church. It is an argument of it that such figures of speech are made use of from time to time in this song, as are elsewhere used concerning the Messiah and the church. Chap. i. 3. Grace is elsewhere compared to ointment. That, chap. i. 3, 4. Draw me, is parallel with Jer. xxxi. 3. There the Lord, speaking to the church of Israel, under the name of the virgin of Israel, says, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore, with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.” Ver. 4. “The King hath brought me into his chambers;” and elsewhere the saints are represented as dwelling in the secret place of the Most High. Hos. xi. 4. “I draw them with the bands of love.” Representing the bridegroom as a shepherd, and the spouse’s children as kids and lambs, chap. i. 7, 8. is agreeable to frequent representations of the Messiah and the church in the Old Testament. The ornaments of the spouse are here represented as jewels and chains of silver and gold, chap. i. 10, 11. and iv. 1-9. Compare these with Ezek. xvi. 11, 12, 13. The excellencies both of bridegroom and bride are compared to spices, chap. i. 12, 13, 14. iv. 6, 10, 13, 14, 16. v. 5, 13. viii. 2. and ointment perfumed with spices, chap. i. 3. iv. 10. The same spices were made use of to represent spiritual excellencies in the incense, and anointing oil in the tabernacle and temple, and also in the oil for the light. Exod. xxx. 28. Chap. i. 16. “Our bed is green.” This is agreeable to the figures of speech often used concerning the church. The comfort the spouse enjoyed in her bridegroom is compared to a shadow and the fruit of a tree. Chap. ii. 2. is agreeable to Isa. xxxv. 1,2. and lv. 13. and Hos. xiv. 5. Chap. ii. 3, 5. is agreeable to Prov. iii. 18. “She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her, and happy is every one that retaineth her;” and viii. 19. “My fruit is better than gold.” So the Messiah, in the prophecies, is often compared to a tree and branch. The comforts the bridegroom and bride have in each other, are in this book often compared to wine. Chap. i. 2. ii. 5. v. 1. So wine was made use of in the tabernacle and temple service to represent both the comforts the church has in Christ, and also the gracious exercises and good works of the saints offered to God. See also Proverbs ix.2. Isa. xxvii. 2. Hosea xiv. 7. Zech. ix. 15. and x. 7. The comforts the bridegroom and bride here enjoy mutually in each other are in the song compared to wine and milk, agreeable to Isa. lv. 1. and also to the honey and honeycomb, agreeable to the frequent representations made of spiritual comforts in the Scripture. The spouse here is represented feasting with the bridegroom. Chap. ii. 4. and v. 1. So the church of God is represented as feasting with him in the sacrifices and feasts appointed by Moses, and in the prophecies. Isa. xxv. 6. lv. at the beginning. God’s saints are all spoken of as the priests of the Lord, Isa. lxi. 6. but the priests eat the bread of God. What the spouse entertains her lover with is called fruits, chap. iv. 16. vii. 13. viii. 2. as the good works of the saints abundantly are represented elsewhere as fruit which the church brings and offers to God. The spouse is here compared to fruitful trees, chap. iv. 13,. &c. vii. 7,8. The saints are compared to the same, Ps. i. 3. and Jer. xvii. 8. and Isa. xxvii. 6. and other places innumerable. The spouse is compared to a flourishing fruitful vine, chap. ii. 13. vii. 8. So is the church of God often compared to a vine. The spouse’s excellency is compared to the smell of Lebanon, chap. iv. 11. So is the excellency of the church, Hos. xiv. 6, 7. “His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive-tree, and his smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow shall return, they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine, the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.” The fruits of the spouse are often compared to pomegranates in this song. Chap. iv. 3, 13. vi. 7. viii. 2. So the spiritual fruits of the church of God are represented by pomegranates in the tabernacle and temple. The spouse is in this song said to be like the palm-tree. Chap. vii. 7, 8. So was the church of Israel, whose representation were the seventy elders, typified by seventy palm-trees. Exod. xv. 27. So the temple was every where covered with cherubims and palm-trees, representing saints and angels. 1 Kings vi. 29, 32, 35. vii. 36. 2 Chron. iii. 5. So in Ezekiel’s temple. Ezek. xl. 16. The spouse in this song is compared to a garden and orchard, to a garden of spices, and of aloes, in particular, ch. iv. 12, to the end,. and v. 1. and vi. 2. which is agreeable to the representations made of the church. Num. xxiv. 5, 6. “How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel. As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river’s side, as the trees of lign-aloes which the Lord hath planted, as the cedar-trees beside the waters.” The spouse is compared to a fountain, chap. iv. 12,13. so is the church, Deut. xxxiii. 28. Ps. lxviii. 26. The twelve tribes of Israel are represented by twelve fountains of water. Exod. xv. 27. The spouse is called a fountain of gardens, chap. iv. 15. So the church of God is represented as a fountain in the midst of a land of corn and wine. Deut. xxxiii. 28. And a stream among all trees of unfading leaves, and living fruit. And as a watered garden, Isa. lviii. 11. Jer. xxxi. 12. The spouse is called a well of living waters, chap. iv. 15. The blessings granted to the church and by the church are represented by the same thing. Zech. xiv. 8. “Living waters shall go out of Jerusalem.” So Ezek. xlvii. where we read of waters going out of the temple and city of Jerusalem that gave life to every thing, and flowed in the midst of the trees of life. Another thing that is a very great evidence that this song is mystical, and that the spouse signifies not a person but a society, and the church of God in particular, is that she is compared to a city, and the city of Jerusalem in particular. Chap. vi. 4. “Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem;” and that particular parts of the spouse are compared to buildings, and strong buildings, as towers and walls. Chap. iv. 4. “Thy neck is like the tower of David, builded for an armory whereon they hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.” Chap. vii. 4.“Thy neck is like a tower of ivory Thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon, which looketh towards Damascus.” Chap. viii. 10. “I am a wall, and my breasts like towers.” We find elsewhere people and societies of men represented by buildings, houses, and cities, but never particular persons. And the church of God is a society or people often represented in Scripture by such similitudes, and particularly is often compared to a city with strong towers and bulwarks, and to the city Jerusalem especially, and that on the account of her many fortifications and strong bulwarks.

Again, it greatly confirms that the spouse is a people, and the church of God in particular, that she is compared to an army, an army terrible with banners. Chap. vi. 4, 10. “And as a company of two armies, or the company of Mahanaim.” So the church of God when brought out of Egypt through the wilderness to Canaan, was by God’s direction in the form of an army with banners. So the psalms and prophecies often represent the church of God as going forth to battle, fighting under an ensign, and gloriously conquering their enemies, and conquering the nations of the world. And the company of Jacob, that was as it were the church of Israel, with the host of angels that met them and joined them, to assist them against Esau’s host, was the company of Mahanaim, or company of two armies, so called by Jacob on that account, Gen. xxxii. at the beginning.

So it is a great evidence of the same thing, that the spouse is compared to war-horses, chap. i. 9,. &c. which it is not in the least likely would ever be a comparison used to represent the beauty of a bride in a common epithalamium or love song. But this is exactly agreeable to a representation elsewhere made of the church of God. Zech. x. 3. “The Lord of hosts hath visited his flock, the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle.” And ver. 5. “And they shall be as mighty men which tread down their enemies, as the mire of the streets in the battle. And they shall fight because the Lord is with them.” And ver. 7. “And they of Ephraim shall be like mighty men.”

These expressions show this song to be mystical. Chap. i. “My mother’s children were angry with me.” If it is supposed to be used of the church, they are easily accounted for; they are agreeable to accounts in Scripture history of Cain’s enmity against Abel, and Esau’s against Jacob; and their posterities’ enmity against Israel; and the prophecies that represent the future persecutions of the church, by false brethren.

Another thing that shows this to be no common love song, is that the spouse seeks company in her love to the bridegroom, endeavours to draw other women to join with her in loving him, and rejoices in their communion with her in the love and enjoyment of her beloved. Chap. i. 3, 4. “Therefore the VIRGINS love thee.” “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 than wine.” “THE UPRIGHT love thee.” Chap. vi. 1,2. “Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women; whither is thy beloved turned aside, that we may seek him with thee? My beloved is gone down into his garden,” &c. Chap. viii. 13. “Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice.”

The bridegroom in this song speaks of his willing people, chap. vi. 12. which is agreeable to the language used concerning the people of the Messiah. Ps. cx. 2. (See Psalm xlv. No. 507.)

[86] Cant. i..5. “As the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.” Kedar was a place where shepherds used to seat their tents and feed their flocks, a noted place for shepherds, as you may see, Isa. lx. 7. “All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered unto thee.” And Jer. xlix. 28, 29. Concerning Kedar “Their tents and their flocks they shall take to themselves their curtains.” The people of Kedar it seems used to dwell in tents, in movable habitations, and lived by feeding of sheep; and therefore the church is very likely represented by these, and it is agreeable to many other representations in Scripture, where God’s people are called his sheep, his flock, and Christ and his ministers shepherds, and the church is also compared to a tabernacle or tents: it is fitly compared to movable tents, for here we are pilgrims and strangers, and have no abiding place; these are the shepherds’ tents referred to in the 8th verse.

[458] Cant. i. 5. “As the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.” That the spouse in this song is compared to a tent, and to the curtains of the tabernacle and temple, is an evidence that this song is no ordinary love song, and that by the spouse is not meant any particular woman, but a society, even that holy society, the church of God. It is common in the writings of the Old Testament to represent the church of God by a tent, or tents, and a house and temple, but never a particular person. See Isa. liv. 2. Zech. xii. 7. Isa. xxxiii. 20. Lam. ii. 4, 6. Isa. i. 8. And the tabernacle and temple were known types of the church, and the curtains of both had palm-trees embroidered on them, which are abundantly made use of to represent the church. The church of God is called a house, in places too many to be mentioned. The church used to be called the temple of the Lord, as appears by Jer. vii. 4. The church is represented by the temple, as is evident by Zech. iv. 2-9.

[461] Eccles. i. 9. “The thing that hath been is that which shall be, and that which is done is that which shall be done, and there is no new thing under the sun,” &c. It appears by the connexion of these words with what went before, that the design of the wise man is here to signify that the world, though it be so full of labour, mankind, from generation to generation, so constantly, laboriously, unweariedly pursuing after happiness and satisfaction, on some perfect good wherein they may rest; yet they never obtain it, nor make any progress towards it. Particular persons while they live, though they spend their whole lives in pursuit, do but go round and round, and never obtain that satisfying good they seek after. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing,” ver. 8. And as one generation passeth away, and another comes, (v. 4.) the successive generations constantly labouring and pursuing after some good wherein satisfaction and rest may be obtained, not being discouraged by the disappointment of former generations, yet they make no progress, they attain to nothing new beyond their forefathers, they only go round in the same circle, as the sun restlessly repeats the same course that it used to do in former ages, and as the wind and water after their running and flowing have got no further than they were formerly; for to the place from whence they came, they constantly return again; and as the sea is no fuller now than it used to be in former ages, though the rivers have all the while with constant and indefatigable labour and continual expense of their waters, been striving to fill it up. That which goes round in a link let it continue moving never so swiftly, and never so long, makes no progress, comes to nothing new.

[395] “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.” In the 2d verse of this chapter. is represented the church in her state of persecution; in the 3d, 4th, 5th, and 6th. verses is represented the comforts and supports Christ gives her in this state of hers; in this verse is represented her duty in patience, meekness, and love to her enemies, and humble and patient waiting for Christ’s deliverance, in Christ’s trial while she is in this state of suffering. In the five following verses is represented Christ’s coming to her deliverance, to put an end to the suffering state of the church, and introduce its prosperous and glorious day. In this 7th verse, it is strictly charged upon all professing Christians, that they should not stir up nor awake Christ till he please, i. e. that they should not take any indirect courses for their own deliverance while the church is in her afflicted state, and Christ seems to neglect her, as though he were asleep, but that they should patiently wait on him till his time should come, when he would awake for the deliverance of his church. He that believeth, shall not make haste. They that take indirect courses to hasten their own deliverance, by rising up against authority, and resisting their persecutors, are guilty of tempting Christ, and not waiting till his time comes, but going about to stir him up, and force deliverance before his own time. They are charged by the roes and hinds of the field, who are of a gentle and harmless nature, and not beasts of prey, do not devour one another do not fight with their enemies, but fly from them, and are of a pleasant loving nature, Prov. v. 19. So Christians should flee when persecuted, and should not be of a fierce nature, to resist and fight, but should be of a gentle and loving nature, and wait for Christ’s awaking.

The same thing is represented in the 3rd chap. ver. 5. There as that chap. in the 1st verse, is represented the fruitless seeking of the church in her slothful, slumbering, dark state that precedes the glorious day of the Christian church, and then is represented her seeking him more earnestly when more awakened, ver. 2. and then the introduction of her state of light and comfort by that extraordinary preaching of the word of God, which will be by the ministers of the gospel, and then, in the 5th verse, is the church to wait patiently for Christ’s appearance, without using undue indirect means to obtain comfort before his time comes. And then in the following verses is more fully represented the happy state of the church after Christ has awaked and come out of the wilderness where he had hid himself. The like change we have again, chap. viii. 4. which in a like sense also agrees well with the context.

[444] Cant. ii. 14. “O 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.” There is probably respect here to the rock of mount Zion, on which Solomon’s house was built, or of the mountain of the temple, and to the stairs by which they ascended that high rock, to go up to Solomon’s palace. See Neh. iii. 15. and xii. 37. or the stairs by which they ascended through the narrow courts into the temple; it comes much to the same thing, whether we suppose the rocks and stairs referred to, to be of the mountain of Solomon’s palace or temple, for both were typical of the same thing, and both mountains seemed to have been called by the same name, mount Zion. The church, in her low state, before that glorious spring spoken of in the foregoing verses, is not admitted to such high privileges, and such nearness to God, and intimacy with him, as she shall be afterwards, is kept at a greater distance not only by God’s providence, but through her own darkness and unbelief, and remains of a legal spirit, whereby she falls more under the terrors of God’s majesty manifested at mount Sinai under that legal dispensation through which Moses, when God passed by, hid himself in the clefts of the rock. Her love to the spiritual Solomon causes her to remain near his house, about the mountain on which his palace stands, watching at his gates, and waiting at the posts of his doors, and by the stairs by which he ascends to his house, but yet hides herself as if ashamed, and afraid, and unworthy to appear before him, like the woman that came behind Christ to touch the hem of his garment. She has not yet obtained that glorious privilege spoken of, Psal. xlv. 14, 15. and Rev. six. 7, 8. which she shall be admitted to in the glorious day approaching, when she shall enter into the king’s palace. She remains now waiting at the foot of the stairs that go up to the house, as Jacob lay at the foot of the ladder, at the place of which he said, This is the house of God, this is the gate of heaven, and there she hides herself in the secret places of the stairs, but then she shall be made joyfully to ascend, and with boldness and open face to go to the king in his palace.

[486] Cant. iv. 3. “Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet.” There is probably a special respect to the speech of the saints in prayer, which is dyed in the blood of Christ, and by this means becomes pleasant and acceptable, and of an attractive influence, like a scarlet cord to draw down blessings. The prayers of saints are lovely and prevalent only through the incense of Christ’s merits.

[487] Cant. iv. 3. “Thy neck is like the tower of David, builded for an armory, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.” This probably represents faith, for it is that by which the church is united to her head. For Christ is her head; or if we look at ministers as a subordinate head, yet they are so no otherwise than as they represent Christ, and act as his ministers, and the same that is the union of believers to Christ in their union to ministers, and in receiving them they receive him. It is by the same faith whereby they receive Christ, and obey his word, that they receive and obey the instructions of ministers, for their instructions are no other than the word of Christ by them. Faith is the church’s life, and strength, and constant support, and supply, as the neck is to the body. Faith is the church’s shield; Eph. vi. 16.; it is the church’s armory furnishing her with shields, because it provides them out of Christ’s fulness which is contained in the promises.

[488] Cant. iv. 5. “Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies.” Like two young roes, i. e. fair, loving, and pleasant. See Prov. v. 19. Roes which feed among the lilies, not in a wilderness, but in a good pasture, or a pleasant garden, fair and flourishing. And by their being the white unspotted lilies for their nourishment, may also represent her chastity and purity, that her breasts are not defiled by an impure love. By the church’s breasts are meant means of grace; see Cant. viii. 1, 8. Isa. lxvi. 11. 1 Peter ii. 2. These two breasts may signify the same with the two olive-trees, with the golden pipes emptying the golden oil out of themselves, and the two anointed ones, Zech. iv. 3, 11, 12, 14. and the two witnesses in Revelation, the two testaments, and two sacraments; another thing meant is love, the two breasts are love to God and love to men.

[428] Solomon’s Song, iv. 8. “Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, come 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.” This call and invitation of Jesus Christ may be looked upon as directed either to her that is already actually the spouse of Christ, or her that is called and invited to be his spouse, that is, already his spouse no otherwise than in his gracious election. So the Gentiles are called a sister in the last chapter of this song, even before they were in a church estate, before she had any breasts. So in the 43d of Isaiah., where respect is had to the calling of the Gentiles, God calls those his sons and daughters, that were so as yet only in his decree of election. Ver. 6. “I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth.”

Lebanon, Amana, Shenir, and Hermon, were certain noted mountains in the wilderness, in the confines of the land of Canaan, that were wild and uninhabited. Hence the wonderful work of God in turning barbarous and heathenish countries to Christianity, is compared to the turning such a wild forest as Lebanon into a fruitful field. Isa. xxix. 17. “Is it not yet a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest?” They were mountains that were haunts of wild beasts, and probably some of them at least very much frequented by lions and leopards, those most fierce and terrible of wild beasts; they were places where lions had their dens, and either these or some other noted mountains in the wilderness, were so frequented by leopards, that they were called the mountains of the leopards. It is from such places as these that the spouse, or she that is invited to be the spouse, is invited to look to Jesus Christ, where she was without the limits of the pleasant land of Canaan, wandering and lost in a howling wilderness, where she was in continual danger of being devoured and falling a prey to those terrible creatures. Christ graciously calls and invites her to look to him from the tops of these desolate mountains towards the land of Canaan, and towards the holy city Jerusalem, where he dwelt, though far off; yea, to come with him; for Christ is come into this wilderness to seek and to save her that is lost, to come and leave those horrid places, and come and dwell with him in the pleasant land, yea, in the city Jerusalem, that is the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth. Yea, though the lions had actually seized her, and carried her into their dens, there to be a feast for them, yet Christ calls and encourages her to look to him from the lions’ dens.

David represents his praying to God in a state of exile and in distressing circumstances, by his remembering God from the land of the Hermonites. Psal.xlii.6. Christ saves souls out of the dens of lions, as he did Daniel, and out of the mouths of wild beasts, as David did the lamb from the mouth of the lion and the bear. He invites sinners that are naturally under the dominion of Satan, that roaring lion that goes about seeking whom he may devour; and invites saints under the greatest darkness, and distresses, and temptations, and buffetings of Satan, to look to him.

[435] Cant. iv. 9. “Thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.” What that one chain of the spouse’s neck is, that does so peculiarly ravish the heart of Christ, we may learn by Psal. xlv. 10, 11. “Forget thine own people, and thy Father’s house; so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty.” The thing here recommended to the spouse, in order to the king’s greatly desiring or being ravished with her beauty, is poverty of spirit. That this peculiarly delights and attracts the heart of Christ, is agreeable to many scriptures. 1 Peter iii. 2, 3. “Whose adorning, let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and wearing of gold, and putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” This is in a peculiar manner a sweet savour to God. Psal. li. 17. This in a peculiar manner draws the eye of God, Isa. lx. 2. and attracts his presence. Isa. lvii. 15. Psal. xxxiv. 18. Or perhaps it may be the eye of faith that includes poverty of spirit and love. These graces being exercised in faith, are peculiarly acceptable; faith derives beauty from Christ’s righteousness, by which all mixture of deformity is hid.

[489] Cant. v. 14. “His belly is as bright ivory, overlaid with sapphires.” The word is the same in the original, which in ver. 4. is rendered bowels, and wherever it is attributed to God, it denotes affection, and is rendered bowels, as Isa. lxiii. 15. Jer. xxxi. 20. his affection is said to be like bright ivory overlaid with sapphires, representing the justice and mercy which are both so perfectly exercised, and manifested in him, in the work of redemption. The bright or pure white ivory, represents his perfect justice. Solomon’s throne of justice was ivory, which substance was chosen to be the matter of his throne in all probability, because it fitly represented justice; as the throne of Christ at the day of judgment, Rev. xx. is represented as a great white throne. His belly was overlaid with sapphires, being a precious stone of a beautiful azure or sky blue, the softest of all the colours, to represent mercy. Thus the throne of God had the appearance of sapphire, Ezek. i. 26. to signify that he sat on a throne of grace.

[85] Cant. vi. 13. “What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies,” or, “the company of Mahanaim.” The two armies that are the company of Mahanaim are the church of God in earth and in heaven; the company of Jacob and the company of the angels, see Gen. xxxii. 2.; or the church militant and the church triumphant, for both these armies make one spouse of Jesus Christ.

[490] Cant. vii. 1. “How beautiful are thy feet with shoes, O prince’s daughter!” This is to signify the amiableness of her conversation, and that her conversation is not naturally amiable, but that this beauty of conversation is put upon her. And another thing implied is, that she was prepared for travel, as the people in Egypt were to have their shoes on their feet. Exod. xii. 11. So the apostle directs that Christians should have their feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, Eph. vi. 15. i. e. a preparation for travel according to the gospel, and by the gospel of peace.

To the same scope is what follows “The joints of thy thighs are like jewels, the work of the hand of a cunning workman. 544544    Cant. vii. 1. ” The joints, the knees, and hips, are especially the seat and means of motion in walking. When it is said, The joints of thy thighs are the work of a cunning workman, this may be explained by that of the apostle, Eph. i. 10. “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath fore-ordained that they should walk in them.” The whole body of the church is fitly joined together by joints and bands; the joints are kept firm, and fit for their proper motion and operation by mutual charity, holy love and union, and communion of saints.

[491] Cant. vii. 2. “Thy navel is like a round goblet; which wanteth not liquor.” The navel, according to the ancient notions they had of things, was the seat of health. Prov. iii. 8. “It shall be health to thy navel.” Job xl. 16. “His force is in the navel of his belly.” So that the thing which is here most probably represented is the spiritual health of the church: her navel is compared to a goblet which wanteth not liquor, i. e. full of wine, that enlivening, invigorating liquor. The word signifies mixture or temperament, or wine mixed or tempered; that is, wine that is so prepared as to make it the most agreeable and wholesome; (see Prov. xxiii. 30. and ix. 2.;) probably the same may be meant that is called spiced wine, in chap. viii. 2.

[492] Cant. vii. 4. “Thine eyes are like the fish-pools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bath-rabbim.” It seems there were two or more noted fish-pools near to the city of Heshbon, the chief city in the country of Moab, by one of the gates of that city, called the gate of Bath-rabbim, i. e. the gate of the house of the multitude, probably so called because at that gate was a house for the resort of the multitudes that resorted to these pools for the sake of the water of that pool, and fish which were caught there, and to wash themselves there; and perhaps these pools might be remarkable for the clearness of the water, and their fitness to exhibit a true and distinct image of the multitudes that resorted thither, wherein men might see themselves as they were, and might see the spots and filth which they would wash off, and wherein was a true representation of other things. So that the thing signified by the eyes of the spouse may be the spiritual knowledge and understanding of the church, by which she has a true knowledge of herself and her own pollutions, and also a true representation or idea of other things. And also hereby may be signified the benevolence and bountifulness of the eyes of a true saint, so that they as it were yield meat and drink to a multitude, as it is probable these fish-pools did. Prov. xxii. 9.

[493] Cant. vii. 4. “Thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon, which looketh towards Damascus.” The tower of Lebanon, looking towards Damascus, was probably some tower built in Lebanon, on the frontier next to the kingdom of Damascus, to watch over that country, and for the defence of Israel from its inhabitants. By the account which history gives of Damascus, it was a magnificent city, and an exceeding pleasant, delightful place, like a mere garden of pleasure, and therefore, it is called the city of praise and joy, Jer. xl. 25. and in Amos i. 2. is called Beth-Eden, or the house of Eden. Men of carnal minds would prefer the land to the land of Israel, that God calls the pleasant land, and the glory of all lands. Naaman, the Syrian, contemned the waters of Israel in comparison of Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus. And it seems their religion and worship was exceedingly pompous, tending much to please a vain carnal mind that savours the things of men more than the things of God. King Ahaz was greatly taken up with the curious fashion and workmanship of the altar he saw there, and he sent to Urijah the priest a pattern of it, that he might make one like it in the courts of God’s house, and chose rather to offer his sacrifice on this new altar than on the altar of the Lord. 2 Kings xvi. 10,. &c.

The nose is the organ of smelling; therefore here the church is commended for her spiritual scent, which was a good defence to her from corrupt doctrine, and false ways of worship of men’s invention, however specious and fair, and tending much more to please a carnal taste than the true religion of Jesus Christ.

Pomp and magnificence, and the curious inventions of men, and the things which men’s wisdom teaches, please men of corrupt minds; but a true saint, through a spiritual taste or scent, nauseates those things, and is defended from them. This spiritual scent is the best defence from those things that would corrupt her mind from the simplicity that is in Christ.

[494] Cant. vii. 5. “Thine head upon thee is like Carmel, (or crimson, as it is in the margin,) and the hair of thine head like purple.” If by head here be understood the eldership of the church; then her head is compared to Carmel, probably because Carmel was a very fruitful hill, and a high hill, whose fruits were seen at a distance, as Christ compares his disciples to a city set on a hill, whose works could not be hid. (See Note on chap. iv. 1.) The hair is the fruit of the head, and may represent both the doctrine and conversation of faithful ministers, who know nothing, and savour of nothing either in their doctrine or life, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified, and so their preaching and walk is, as it were, coloured with his blood. And this also may be signified by it, that the holy doctrine and conversation of ministers are a princely ornament to them, purple being the colour of the robes of princes.

But, perhaps, by the head of the spouse, here may be meant the doctrine which she holds, the doctrine of the gospel, which is represented as a glorious crown on her head in Rev. xii. 1. This may be compared to Carmel, that fruitful hill, because it is the doctrine that is according to godliness or to crimson, because Jesus Christ and him crucified, or Christ’s shedding his blood, is the sum and substance of it.

[495] Cant. vii. 7. “And thy breasts to clusters of grapes.” By her breasts here, most probably, is intended the grace of love, or spiritual complacency; affection to her husband and his children. The bosom is put for love; so Christ is said to be in the bosom of the Father. This agrees with that in Prov. v. 19. “Let her breasts satisfy thee at all times, and be thou ravished always with her love.” Christ’s love is compared to wine, chap. i. And so is the love of the spouse, chap. iv. 10. “How much better is thy love than wine!” And here her breasts are compared to clusters of grapes. See No. 488.

[496] Cant. vii. 8. “And the smell of thy nose like apples.” As by the roof of the mouth in the next verse, is not intended simply the roof of the mouth itself, as though that were exceedingly pleasant to the bridegroom, this being a part of the body that is hidden; but thereby is probably meant the speech which comes from the mouth: so here, by the nose, is not meant the nose itself, but the breath; so the bridegroom would hereby signify that the smell of her breath was sweet, her vitals being sound, and pure, and sweet, being made so by the food she ate, viz. apples, the food she from time to time desires to be refreshed with, it being the fruit that he yields, who is as the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, whose fruit was sweet to her taste. Persons’ breath commonly smells of the food which they eat; thus the breath of the spouse is represented as smelling like apples.

[497] Cant. vii. 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.” By the roof of the mouth is here probably meant his discourse, which is like excellent wine that goes sweetly down, and so refreshes and enlivens other saints whom here Christ calls his beloved, that it causes those of them that are asleep, and in the dullest frame, to speak; it enlivens their hearts and tongues in divine things.

[8] Cant. viii. 1. “O that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother I when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee, yea, I should not be despised.” Which wish of the church is now accomplished, by Christ’s incarnation; the Son of God, who is infinitely higher than we, is come down unto us in our nature, and has familiarized himself to us.


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