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that are in thee, wherewith I desire to be endued, that all, whom thou hast blessed with the sense thereof, make as high and dear account of thy Gospel, whereby they are wrought, as of some precious ointment or perfume; the delight whereof is such, that, hereupon, the pure and holy souls of the faithful place their whole affection upon thee.
I. 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 than wine : the upright love thee.
Pull me therefore out from the bondage of my sins : deliver me from the world, and do thou powerfully incline my will and affections towards thee; and, in spite of all temptations, give me strength to cleave unto thee; and, then both I, and all those faithful children thou hast given me, shall all at once with speed and earnestness walk to thee and with thee; yea, when once my royal and glorious Husband hath brought me, both into these lower rooms of his spiritual treasures on earth, and into his heavenly chambers of glory, then will we rejoice and be glad in none but thee, which shalt be all in all to us ; then will we celebrate and magnify thy love, above all the pleasures we found upon earth; for all of thy righteous ones, both angels and saints, are inflamed with the love of thee.
I. 5. I am black, but comely, Oye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.
Never upbraid me, 0 ye Foreign Congregations, that I seem, in outward appearance, discoloured by my infirmities, and duskish with tribulations ; for whatsoever I seem to you, I am yet inwardly well-favoured in the eyes of Him whom I seek to please; and though I be to you black, like the tents of the Arabian shepherds, yet to Him and in Him I am glorious and beautiful, like the curtains of Solomon.
I. 6. Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me : my mother's children were angry with me ; they made me keeper of the vineyards : but mine own vineyard have I not kept.
Look not therefore disdainfully upon me, because I am blackish and dark of hue; for this colour is not so much natural to me, as caused by that continual heat of afflictions wherewith I have been usually scorched; neither this, so much upon mine own just desert, as upon the rage and envy of my false brethren, the world, who would needs force upon me the observation of their idolatrous religions and superstitious impieties; through whose wicked importunity and my own weakness, I have not 80 entirely kept the sincere truth of God committed to me, as I ought.
1. 7. Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon : for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions ?
Now, therefore, that I am some little started aside from thee, O thou whom my soul notwithstanding dearly loveth, shew me, I beseech thee, where and in what wholesome and divine pastures, thou, like a good shepherd, feedest and restest thy flocks with comfortable refreshings, in the extremity of these hot persecutions ; for how can it stand with thy glory, that I should, through thy neglect, thus suspiciously wander up and down, among the congregations of them that both command and practise the worship of false gods.
CHRIST TO THE CHURCH. I. 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 shep"herds' tents."
If thou know not, O thou my Church, whom I both esteem and have made most beautiful by my merits and thy sanctification, stray not amongst these false worshippers, but follow the holy steps of those blessed Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, which have been my true and ancient flock, who have both known my voice and followed me; and feed thou my weak and tender ones with this their spiritual food of life, far above the carnal reach of those other false teachers.
I. 9. I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots.
Such is mine estimation of thee, O my Love, that so far as the choicest Egyptian horses of Pharaoh, for comely shape, for honourable service, for strength and speed, exceed all other, so far thou excellest all that may be compared with thee.
I. 10. Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.
Those parts of thee, which both are the seats of beauty and most conspicuous to the eye, are gloriously adorned with the graces of my sanctification; which are, for their worth, as so many precious borders of the goodliest stones, or chains of pearls.
I. 11. We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.
And though thou be already thus set forth, yet I and my Father have purposed a further ornament unto thee, in the more plentiful effusion of our Spirit upon thee; which shall be to thy former deckings, instead of pure gold curiously wrought with specks of silver.
I. 12. While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.
Behold, O ye daughters, even now while my Lord and King
seems far distant from me, and sits in the throne of heaven among the companies of angels who attend around upon him, vet now do I find him present with me in spirit: even now the sweet influence of his graces, like to some precious ointment, spreads itself over my soul, and returns a pleasant savour into his own nostrils.
I. 13. A bundle of myrrh is my wellbeloved unto me ; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.
And though I be thus delightful to my Saviour, yet nothing so much as he is unto me : for lo, as some fragrant pomander of myrrh, laid between the breasts, sends up a most comfortable scent: so his love, laid close unto my heart, doth still give me continual and unspeakable refreshings.
I. 14. My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of En-gedi.
Or, if any thing can be of more excellent virtue, such smell as the clusters of camphire or cypress berries, within the fruitfullest, pleasantest, and richest vineyards and gardens of Judea, yield unto the passengers; such and more delectable, do I find the savour of his grace to me.
CHRIST. I. 15. Behold, thou art fair, my love ; behold thou art fair ; thou hast doves' eyes.
Neither dost thou on my part lose any of thy love, O my dear Church; for behold, in mine eyes, thus clothed as thou art with my righteousness, oh how fair and glorious thou art ! how above all comparison glorious and fair! Thine eyes, which are thy seers, (Prophets, Apostles, Ministers) and those inward eyes, whereby thou seest him that is invisible, are full of grace, chastity, simplicity.
I. 16. Behold thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant : also our bed is green.
Nay then, O my sweet Saviour and Spouse, thou alone art that fair and pleasant one indeed, from whose fulness I confess to have received all this little measure of my spiritual beauty; and behold, from this our mutual delight and heavenly conjunction, there ariseth a plentiful and flourishing increase of thy faithful ones, in all places, and through all times.
1. 17. The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.
And behold, the congregations of saints, the places where we do sweetly converse and walk together, are both firm and during, like cedars amongst the trees, not subject, through thy protect
ing grace, to utter corruption; and, through thy favourable acceptation and word, like to galleries of sweet wood full of pleasure and contentment.
Thou hast not without just cause magnified me, O my Church; for, as the fairest and sweetest of all flowers which the earth yieldeth, the rose and lily of the valleys, excel for beauty, for pleasure, for use, the most base and odious weeds that grow ; so doth my grace, to all them that have felt the sweetness thereof, surpass all worldly contentments.
II. 2. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.
Neither is this my dignity alone; but thou, O my Spouse, that thou mayest be a fit match for me, art thus excellent above the world, that no lily can be more in goodly shew beyond the naked thorn, than thou in thy glory thou receivest from me overlookest all the assemblies of aliens and unregenerates.
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 wellgrown apple tree, in comparison of all the barren trees of the wild forest, so art thou, O 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 mine afflictions, all my temptations and infirmities, against all the curses of the law, and dangers 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 flagons, comfort me with apples : for I am sick of love.
And now, O 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, which 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 desire, let my Saviour employ both his 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 awake my love, till he please.
In the mean time, I charge you, O 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 avoid my uttermost censures, 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.
Lo, I have no sooner called, but he hears and answers me with his 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 him: neither the hillocks of my lesser infirmities, nor the mountains 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 flesh 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, 1 hear him speak to me in a gracious
vain and your sin, to my belo