Page images
[ocr errors]

the world, wherein she bath 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 bath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night. All stout warriors, able and expert to handle the sword; which, for more readiness, each of them wears hanging upon his thigh, so as it may be hastily 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 Solornon 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 cedars 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 hands, 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 daughters 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 magnificence of my Saviour, in that day when his blessed marriage shall be fully perfected above, to the eternal 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 goats, that appear from mount Gilead.

Oh how fair thou art and comely, my dear Spouse! How inward. ly fair with the gifts of my Spirit! how fair outwardly in thy comely administration and government! Thy spiritual eyes of understanding and judgment are full of purity, chastity, simplicity; not wantonly cast forth, but modestly shining amidst thy locks : all thy gracious profession, and all thy appendances and ornaments of expedient ceremonies, are so comely to behold, as is to see a flock of well-fed goats grazing upon the fruitful hills of Gilead.

IV. 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. Those, that chew and prepare the heavenly food for thy soul, are both of gracious simplicity, and of sweet accordance one with another; having all one heart and one tongue: and both themselves are sanctified and purged from their uncleanness, and ar fruitful in their holy labours unto others; so that their doctrine is never in vain, but is still answered with plentiful increase of souls added to the Church.

IV. 3 Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks. Thy speech, especially in the mouth of thy Teachers, is both gracious in itself, and such as administers grace to the hearers; full of zeal and fervent charity, full of gravity and discretion : and that part of thy countenance, which thou wilt have seen, though dimly and sparingly, is full of holy modesty and bashfulness; so blushing, that it seemeth like the colour of a broken piece of pomegranate.

IV. 4 Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men. Those, who, by their holy authority, sustain thy government, which are as some straight and strong neck to bear up the head, are like unto David's high tower of defence, furnished with a rich armoury, which affords infinite ways of safe protection, and infinite monuments of victory.

IV. 5 Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies. Thy two Testaments, which are thy two full and fair breasts whereby thou nursest all thy faithful children, are as two young roes; twins, for their excellent and perfect agreement one with another, in all resemblances of young roes, that are daintily fed among the sweet flowers, for the pleasant nourishment which they yield to all that suck thereof.

IV. 6 Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense. Until the day of my gracious appearance shall shine forth, and until all these shadows of ignorance, infidelity, afflictions, be utterly and suddenly dispersed, O my Spouse, I will retire myself,

in regard of my bodily presence, into my delightful and glorious rest of heaven.

IV. 7 Thou art all fair, my love ; there is no spot in thee. Thou art exceeding beautiful, O my Church, in all the parts of thee: for all thy sins are done away, and thine iniquity is covered; and lo, I present thee to my Father without spot, or wrinkle, or any such deformity.

ÍV. 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. And now, () thou which I profess to have married to myself in truth and righteousness, thou shalt be gathered to me from all parts of the world; not only from the confines of Judea, where I planted and found thee, but from the remotest and most savage places of the nations; out of the company of infidels, of cruel and bloody persecutors, who, like lions and leopards, have tyrannized over thee, and mercilessly torn thee in pieces.

IV. g' 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. Thou hast utterly ravished me from myself, () my Sister and Spouse; for so thou art, both joined to me in that spiritual union, and coheir with me of the same inheritance and glory: thou hast quite ravished my heart with thy love: even one cast of one of thine eyes of faith, and one of the ornaments of thy sanctification, wherewith thou art decked by my Spirit, have thus stricken me with love; how much more, when I shall have a full sight of thee, and all thy graces, shall I be affected towards thee!

IV. 10 How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse ! how much belter is thy love than wine ! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices! Oh how excellent, how precious, how delectable are those loves of thine, O my sister, my Spouse ! How far surpassing all earthly delicates! And the savour of those divine virtues, wherewith thou art endued, more pleasing to my scent, than all the perfumes in the world!

IV. 11 Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb : honey and milk are under thy tongue ; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon. The gracious speeches, that proceed from thee, are as so many drops of the honeycomb that fall from thy lips; and whether thou exhort, or confess, or pray, or comfort, thy words are both sweet and nourishing; and the savour of thy good works, and outward conversation, is to me as the smell of the wood of Lebanon to the sense of man.

IV. 12 A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse ; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. My sister, my Spouse, is as a garden or orchard full of all variety of the heavenly trees and flowers of grace: not lying carelessly open, either to the love of strangers, or to the rage of enemies, which, like the wild boar out of the wood, might root up and destroy her choice plants; but safely hedged and walled about, by my protection, and reserved for my delight alone: she is a spring and well of wholesome waters, from whom Row forth the pure streams of my word; but, both, inclosed and sealed up: partly, that she may the better, by this closeness, preserve her own natural taste and vigour, from the corruptions of the world ; and partly, that she may not be defiled and mudded by the profane feet of the wicked.

IV. 13, 14 Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense ; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices : Thou art an orchard, yea a paradise, whose plants, which are thy faithful children that grow up in thee, are as pomegranate trees; the apples whereof are esteemed, for the largeness, colour, and taste, above all other: or, if I would feed my other senses, the plentiful fruits of thy holy obedience, which thou yieldest unto me, are, for their smell, as some composition of cypress, spikenard, saffron, sweet cane, cinnamon, incense, myrrh, aloes, and whatsoever else may be devised, unto the most perfect scent.

IV. 15 A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, und streams from Lebanon. Thou art so a spring in my garden, that the streams, which are derived from thee, water all the gardens of my particular congregations, all the world over: thou art that fountain, from whose pure head issue all those living waters, which whoso drinketh shall never thirst again; even such clear currents, as Aow from the hill of Libanus, which, like unto another Jordan, water all the Israel of God.


IV. 16 Awake, 0 north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may now out. Let

Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits. If I be a garden, as thou sayest, O my Saviour, then arise, () all ye sovereign winds of the Spirit of God, and breathe upon this garden of my soul, that the sweet odours of these my plants may both be increased, and may also be dispersed afar, and carried into the nostrils of my well-beloved : and so let him come into his own garden, which his own hand hath digged, planted, watered; and accept of the fruit of that service and praise, which he shall enable me to bring forth to his name.

CHRIST. V. i I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse : I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with wy honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, friends ; drink, yea, drink abundently, 0 beloved.

Behold, according to thy desire, I am come into my garden, O my sister, my Spouse: I have received those fruits of thine obe. dience, which thou offeredst unto me, with much joy and pleasure. I have accepted, not only of thy good works, but thy endeavours and purposes of holiness, both which are as pleasant to me, as the honey and the honeycomb. I have allowed of the cheerfulness of thy service, and the wholesomeness of thy doctrine, And ye, O my friends, whether blessed angels or faithful men, partake with me in this joy arising from the faithfulness of my Church : cheer up and till yourselves, () my beloved, with the same spiritual dainties wherewith I am refreshed.


V. ? I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my be- . loved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and


locks with the drops of the night. When the world had cast me into a secure sleep, or slumber rather, for my heart was not utterly bereaved of a true faith in my Saviour, even in this darkness of my mind, it pleased my gracious Redeemer not to neglect me: he came to me, and knocked oft, and called importunately at the door of my heart, by his word and chastisements, and said, Open the door of thy soul, O my sister, my dear, chaste, comely, unspotted Church ; let me come in, and lodge and dwell with thee, in my graces; shut out the world, and receive me with a more lively act and renovation of thy faith: for lo, I have long waited patiently for this effect of thy love, and have endured all the injuries both of the night and weather of thy provocations, that I might at last enjoy thee.

V. 3 I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them? I answered him again, pleading excuses for my delay; Alas, Lord, I have now, since I left my forward profession of thee, avoided a great number of cares and sorrows; must I take them up again to follow thee? I have lived clean from the soil of these evils, and shall I now thrust myself into danger of them?

V. 4 My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. When my Saviour heard this unkind answer of delay, he let his hand fall from the keybole, which he had thus before without success laboured about; and withdrew himself from soliciting me any more: whereupon my heart and bowels yearned within me for him, and for the remorse of my so long fore-slowing his admite tance unto me,

V. 5 I rose up to open to my beloved ; and my hands drapped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock. And now I roused up my drowsy heart, what I could, that I might, in some cheerful manner, desire to receive so gracious a Saviour ; which when I but endeavoured, I found that he had left behind

« PreviousContinue »