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And now, O 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. 9. Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse ; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, urith one chain of thy neck.
Thou hast utterly ravished me from myself, O 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 last 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 better is thy love than wine and the smell of thine ointments than all spices !
Oh low 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 flow 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;
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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 promegranates, with pleasant fruits ; camphire, with spikenard, spikenard and saffron ; calamus und cinnamon, wilh all trees of frankincense'; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices :
Thou art an orchard, yet a paradise, whose plants, which are thy faithful children that grow up in thee, are as pomegranate trees; the apples whercof 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, anil 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 flow from the hill of Libanus, which, like unto another Jordan, water all the Israel of God.
THE CHURCH. IV. 16. Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south ; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. 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, O 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 como into his own garden, which his own hand liath 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. 1. I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse ; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey ; I have drunk my wine with my milk ; eat, o friends ; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.
Behold, according to thy desire, I am come into my garden, O my sister, my Spouse: Í have received those fruits of thine obedience, 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 pleasant to me, as the honey and the honeycomb. I have allowed of the cheerfulness of thy service, and the wholesomeness of thy doc
omy and chaoticed imponeglec
trine. 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 fill yourselves, O my beloved, with the same spiritual dainties wherewith I am refreshed.
THE CHURCH. V. 2. I sleep, but my heart waketh : it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my unde filed : for my head is filled with dew, and my 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 the 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 keyhole, which he had thus before without success laboured about; and withdrew himself from soliciting mo any more: whereupon my heart and bowels yearned within me for him, and for the remorse of my so long fore-slowing his admittance unto me.
V. 5. I rose up to open to my beloved ; and my hands dropped 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 him such a plentiful blessing, as the monument of his late presence, upon the first motions of my heart, as that with the very touch of them I was both exceedingly refreshed, and moved to further.indignation at myself for delaying him.
V. 6. I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone : my soul failed when he spake : I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.
I opened to my beloved Saviour, but my Saviour had now, in my feeling, withdrawn himself, and hid his countenance from me, holding me short of those gracious offers and means which I had refused ; and now I was almost past myself with despair, to remember that sweet invitation of his, which I neglected : I sought him therefore in my thoughts, in the outward use of his ordinances and of my earnest prayers; but he would not as yet be found of me, or let me find that I was heard of him,
V. 7. The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.
Those, which should have regarded me, and by their vigilancy have secured me from danger, proved mine adversaries : instead of comforting me, they fell upon me, and wounded me with their false doctrines, drawing me on into further errors, spoiling me of that purity and sincerity of profession, wherewith, as with some rich and modest veil, I was formerly adorned and covered.
V. 8. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love.
I advise you solemnly, () all ye that wish well to me, for I care not who knows the vehemency of my passion, if you should find my Saviour's presence in yourselves before me, pray for the recovery of his love to me; and, bemoaning my estate to him, tell him how I languish with the impatient desire of his love and presence to be restored unto me.
V. 9. What is thy beloved more than another beloved, 0 thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us ?
O thou, which art the most happy, most gracious, and most glorious of creatures, the chosen of the Living God; what is thy well-beloved, whom thou seekest, above all others the sons of men? What such eminency is there in him above all saints and angels, that thou art both so far gone in affection to him, and dost so vehemently adjure us to speak unto him for thee?
V. 10. My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.
My well-beloved, if you know not, is of perfect beauty; in whose face is an exact mixture of the colours of the purest and healthfullest complexion of holiness : for he hath not received the Spirit by measure; and in him the Godhead dwells bodily: he is infinitely fairer than all the sons of men; and, for goodliness of person, may bear the standard of comeliness and grace amongst ten thousand.
V. 11. His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven.
The Deity, which dwelleth in him, is most pure and glorious ; and that fulness of grace, which is communicated to his human nature, is wondrously beautiful, and so sets it forth, as the black curled locks do a fresh and well-favoured countenance.
V. 12. His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of water, washed with milk, and fitly set. · His judgment of all things, and his respect to his Church, which are as his eyes, are full of love, and full of piety; shining like unto doves washed in water, yea, in milk, so as there is no spot or blemish to be found in them: and they are withal so fully placed, as is most comely and most expedient for the perfect sight of the estate and necessities of his servants.
V. 13. His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers : his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.
The manifestation of himself to us in his word, is sweet to our spiritual feeling; as a heap of spice, or those flowers that are used to make the best perfuming ointments, are to the other senses: his heavenly instructions and promises of his Gospel are unspeakably comfortable, and plenteous, in the grace that is wrought by them.
V. 14. His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl : his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.
His actions and his instruments, which are his hands, are set forth with much port and majesty, as some precious stone beautifies the ring wherein it is set: the secret counsels of his breast, and the mysteries of his will, are most pure and holy, and full of excellent glory.
V. 15. His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold : his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.
All his proceedings are firm and stable; and withal, as pillars of marble set in sockets of tried gold; so as they are neither subject to wavering, nor to any danger of infirmity and corruption: the shew and carriage of his whole person, whereby he makes himself known to his chosen, is exceeding goodly and upright, like to the straight and lofty cedars of Lebanon. · V. 16. His mouth is most sweet : yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.
His mouth, out of which proceed innumerable blessings and comfortable promises, is to my soul even sweetness itself; yea, what speak I of any one part? as you have heard in these particulars, he is all sweets: there is nothing but comfort in him, and there is no comfort but in him: and this, if ye would know, is my well-beloved ; of so incomparable glory and worthiness, that ye may easily discern him from all others.
FOREIGN CONGREGATIONS. • VI. 1. Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fuirest among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside ? that we may seek him with thee.