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Son 8:1 O that thou [wert] as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! [when] I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised.
Ver. 1. Oh that thou wert as my brother. ] Heb., Who will give thee for a brother to me? - q.d., Men may give me many other things, but God alone can give me thy brotherhood, love, and communion, which I wish above all, saith the bride here. "Spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ" Eph 1:3 are chiefly to be desired and endeavoured after. Quaerite primum bona animi, saith philosophy, Seek first the good things of the mind. Quaerite primum regnum Dei, saith divinity, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness": and then other things shall seek you, shall be cast into the bargain as it were. Let the "many say, Who will show any good?" David prefers one glance from God’s countenance before all the world’s wealth. Psa 4:7 "Oh that Ishmael might live in thy sight," said Abraham. Oh that he might be "written among the living in Jerusalem," be an heir of life truly so called, for Aeterna vita vera vita! a "The Lord make his face to shine upon you," said the priests to the people. Num 6:24-25 "Grace be to you, and peace," saith Paul; whatever else be wanting, "Covet earnestly the best things," saith he. 1Co 12:31 "With all thy getting, get understanding," saith Solomon. Pro 4:7 He desired wisdom above wealth; and despatched the temple in seven years’ time, whenas he was thirteen years ere he finished his own house, as holding it a work of less haste and care. Elisha begs a "double portion": the spouse Son 2:5 calls for whole "flagons"; nothing less would content her. The prophet Isaiah chides men for laying out their money on "that which is not bread," Isa 55:1-2 or but panis lapidosus, bread made of gravel; and our Saviour bids, "Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for the meat that endureth to eternal life." Joh 6:27 Mors privare potest opibus, non operibus: these die not with us (as Hortentius’s orations did with him), but follow us to heaven when we die, and shall be "found to praise, honour, and glory at that day." 1Pe 1:7 Hence the Church so earnestly desireth here to have more close conjunction and consociation with Christ "as a brother"; yea, as a most natural and kind hearted brother that had "sucked the breasts of her mother," that had been her collactaneus, and so more inwardly affected toward her, as Joseph was toward his brother Benjamin. Genesis 43:29-30 ; Gen 43:34 In sum, she wisheth that she may feel Christ dwelling in her heart; that he would remove all impediments of their happy conjunction, and hasten the accomplishment thereof in heaven.
When I should find thee without (or at the door), I would kiss thee.] As the bride was wont to do the bridegroom, receiving and welcoming him with all comely familiarity and sweetness. "Kiss the son," and covet his kisses. Psa 2:12 Son 1:2 Be not ashamed or afraid to perform all duties of a holy love and sound obedience towards him. He was not ashamed of us, when we had never a rag to our backs. Eze 16:3-13 He stretched the skirt of his love over us, and said unto us, "Live"; when he might well enough have loathed to look on us. ib. Eze 16:6
Yea, I should not be despised. ] Heb., They should not despise me; or if they did, yet they should not dishearten me from duty. "If this be to be vile, I will be yet more vile," said David to his mocking Michal. 2Sa 6:22 We may not suffer ourselves to be mocked out of our religion. Barren Michal hath too many sons that scorn the holy habit and exercises; but they shall be plagued, as their mother was, with continual fruitlessness; they shall also one day - viz., when they are in hell - behold those with envy whom now they behold with scorn; as the scoffers of the old world, from the tops of the mountains that could not save them, beheld Noah’s ark floating upon the waters. It is as impossible to avoid, as necessary to contemn, the lash of lewd tongues, whether by bitter scoffs or scurrilous invectives, as full of scorn commonly as the wit of malice can make them. The Church here resolveth so to deport herself, as that none shall have cause to contemn her; or if they do, bravely to slight all contumelies and contempts for her conscience, taking them as crowns and confirmations of her conformity to Christ.
a Aug., De Pec. Mort., lib. i. cap. 11.
Son 8:2 I would lead thee, [and] bring thee into my mother’s house, [who] would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate.
Ver. 2. I would lead thee and bring thee. ] With solemnity and joy. She speaks it twice, as fully resolved to do it; and hereby to bind herself more straitly to a performance, I would not only kiss thee at the door, but bring thee into the house. Many are strict abroad and in company, but much too loose at home and in their own houses; follow these stage players to their dressing rooms, where they disrobe themselves, and you shall soon see what they are. Heed must be taken, say the very heathen, Aedibus in propriis quae prava aut recta gerantur. Religion admits not of that distinction between a good man and a good governor. If you will be for the public, be good in private; bear your own fruit, work in your own hives, reform your own hearts and houses, man your own oars, and make good your own standing. Cato could say that he could pardon all men’s faults but his own. a And Augustus, going about to redress some abuses in the state, was upbraided with his own domestic disorders. Abraham had a well ordered family; so had Joshua, Jos 24:15 David. Psa 101:1-8 And although his house were not so with God, yet that was all his desire. 2Sa 23:5 And he well knew that it was the care, not the cure, of his charge that he stood charged with. b Noah may bring the Lord Christ into his house, and labour to set him up in the hearts of his children, speaking persuasively to that purpose; but when all is done, God must "persuade Japheth," and speak to his heart. Now this the Lord doth, Monendo potius quam minando, docendo quam ducendo. Hence the Church in the next words cries out,
Thou shalt instruct me. ] For so the text is to be rendered. Thou who art the arch-prophet, a teacher sent from God, anointed and appointed for the purpose to put divine learning into us, "thou shalt instruct or learn us." Now, quando Christus magister, quam cito discitur quod docetar? saith Augustine. Christ is a quick teacher; and all his scholars are very forwardly. Nescit tarda molimina gratia Spiritus Sancti, saith Ambrose. God’s people must needs be well taught, because they are "all taught of God." c
I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine. ] Such as we call Ipocras, which, besides the nature and strength of the wine itself, hath, by the mixture of many spices with it, great power and pleasantness, to the comforting of the heart, and satisfying of the smell. And this was the διδακτρον Minervale, recompense, that Christ should have for teaching her. She resolveth to testify her thankfulness by her obedience, rendering unto him such fruits of faith and holiness as should be sweetened and spicened with his own Spirit in her, and should exceedingly delight him. Contrary to these λιπαρα και λαμπρα , these "dainty and goodly fruits," Rev 18:14 are those nasty and naughty ones, Isa 5:4 that, besides their stench, are so offensive to the taste that they cannot be eaten, they are so naught. Jer 24:2 Wicked men’s grapes are of gall, and their wine is venom; Deu 32:32-33 both their natures and practices are abominable.
a Plut.; Dio.
b Curam exegeris, non curationem. - Bern.
c Yεοδιδακτοι . Joh 6:45
Son 8:3 His left hand [should be] under my head, and his right hand should embrace me.
Ver. 3. His left hand should be under my head. ] Or, prayerwise, Let his left hand, &c. Conscious and sensible of her own inability, she begs the benefit of both Christ’s hands, and all little enough - his whole power and providence to support and relieve her.
“ Una est in tenui mihi re medicina, Iehovae
Cor patrium, os verax, omnipotensque manus. ”
See Trapp on " Son 2:6 "
Son 8:4 I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake [my] love, until he please.
Ver. 4. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem. ] See Trapp on " Son 2:7 "
Why should you stir up? ] What shall you get by it? or what reason can ye give for it? But lust is headlong, and considers not what an "evil and bitter thing sin is." Jer 2:19 Besides, it so blears the understanding that a man shall think he hath reason to be mad, and that there is great sense in sinning.
Son 8:5 Who [is] this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth [that] bare thee.
[Ver. 5. Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness?] See Trapp on " Son 3:6 " There are continual ascensions in the hearts of God’s people while here. And whereas the men of this world, "which have their portion here," Psa 17:14 animus etiam incarnaverunt, as Bernard complaineth, and are borne downward to hell by their own weight; the saints of God are ever aspiring, and do "groan, being burdened," as knowing that "while they are at home in the body," such a home as it is, "they are absent from the Lord," 2Co 5:4 ; 2Co 5:6 from their heavenly home. Either Egypt was not Moses’s home, or but a miserable one; and yet, in reference to it, he called his son, born in Midian, Gershom - i.e., a "stranger there." If he so thought of his Egyptian home, where was nothing but bondage and tyranny, what marvel though the saints think of that home of theirs above, and hasten to it in their affections, where is nothing but rest and blessedness?
Leaning upon her beloved. ] For otherwise she could not ascend, as unable to sustain her steps. Jer 10:23 The Church, as the vine, is the most fruitful, but the weakest of all trees, and must have a supporter; hence she "leans upon her beloved," which phrase, beside recumbency, denotes a more than ordinary familiarity, qua solent amantes in sinus amasiorura se proiecere, like as lovers throw themselves sometimes into their sweethearts’ arms or bosoms. a Now thus to lean upon Christ is an act of faith, of "the faith of God’s elect." Others seem to lean upon Christ, but it is no otherwise than as the apricot, which leaneth against the walls, but is fast rooted in the earth. So these lean upon Christ for salvation, but are rooted in the world, in pride, filthiness, &c., and though they make some assays, yet, like the door upon the hinges, they will not come off. See the folly and confidence of these wretched men (the same Hebrew word signifies both, and may both ways be taken, Psa 49:13 ) graphically described by the prophet, "The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money; yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? none evil can come upon us." Mic 3:11 These men perish by catching at their own catch, hanging on their own fancy, making a bridge of their own shadow; they will not otherwise believe but that Christ is their sweet Saviour, and so doubt not but they are safe, when it is no such matter. They grow aged and crooked with such false conceits, and can seldom or never be set straight again. These must know that to rely upon Christ is to be utterly unbottomed of a man’s self, and of every creature; and so to lean upon Christ alone, that if he fail thou sinkest, if he set not in thou art lost for ever. Papists think that as he that standeth on two firm branches of a tree is surer than he that standeth upon one; so he that trusteth to Christ and his own works too. But it must be considered, first , That he which looketh to be justified by the law is fallen from grace; "Christ is of no effect" unto him. Gal 5:4 He will not mingle his purple blood with our puddle stuff, his rich robes with our tattered rags, his eagles’ feathers with our pigeons’ plumes. There can be but one sun in heaven, Sol quasi solus, and they set up rush candles to the sun that join other saviours to this Sun of righteousness. Secondly, He that hath one foot on a firm branch, another on a rotten one, stands not so sure as if wholly on that which is sound. Away then with all such mock stays. See the fruit of creature confidence, Job 6:17 ; Job 8:15 , and know that no man trusts Christ at all that trusts him not alone. He that stands with one foot on a rock, and another foot on a quicksand, will sink and perish as certainly as he that standeth with both feet on a quicksand. See Psalms 6:2 ; Psalms 2:5-6 .
I raised thee up under the apple tree, &c. ] Here the bride answereth to the bridegroom’s question, Who is this? or, What woman is this that cometh up from the wilderness? &c., that goes in a right line to God, leaning on her beloved, that will not break the hedge of any commandment to avoid any piece of foul way? I am she, saith the Church, even the very same that raised thee up under the appletree, &c., viz., by mine earnest prayers. When thou wast asleep under the apple tree, and I had straightly charged the damsels of Jerusalem not to disquiet thee by their sins, yet I took the boldness to arouse thee, and say, as in Psalms 44:23 , "Awake; why sleepest thou, O Lord? Arise, cast us not off for ever"; and with those drowning disciples, "Master, carest thou not that we perish?" Sometimes, saith one, God seems to lose his mercy, and then we must find it for him, as Isaiah 63:10 , sometimes to sleep, and then we must waken him, quicken him. Psa 40:17 Isa 62:7 God will come, but he will have his people’s prayers lead him, as in Daniel 10:12 , "I am come for thy words." Christ himself is the apple tree here mentioned, as Song of Solomon 2:3 . Though there are that interpret it as the cross, that tree whereon he "bare our sins in his own body." 1Pe 2:24 Others better, of the tree of offence, the forbidden fruit. Gen 2:16-17 And that when Eve tasted of that fruit, which they herehence conclude to have been an apple, though the word be more general, Nux enim pomum dicitur, then, as Christ’s mother, she brought him forth, by believing the promise there made unto her, that Messiah of her seed should break the serpent’s head. Look how the Virgin Mary conceived Christ when she yielded her assent. When the angel spake to her, what said she presently? "Be it as thou hast said," let it be even so. She yielded her assent to the promise, that she should conceive a son, and she did conceive him. So Eve believed the promise of pardon and salvation, she "saw it afar off, was persuaded of it, and embraced it," Heb 11:13 and is therefore said here to bear and bring forth Christ, yea, to travail of him with sorrow, as the word signifies; for as there is no other birth without pain, so neither is the newbirth. Those that have passed through the narrow womb of repentance, and been born again, will say as much. See Isaiah 26:17 . If God broke David’s bones, and the angel’s back, saith one, he will break thy heart too, if ever he save thee. No sound heart ever went to heaven, as, in another sense, none but sound could ever come thither. Cot integrum cor scissum, " Rend your hearts."
a Brightman. Sunt qui exponunt dilicians.
Son 8:6 Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love [is] strong as death; jealousy [is] cruel as the grave: the coals thereof [are] coals of fire, [which hath a] most vehement flame.
Ver. 6. Set me as a seal upon thine heart, ] i.e., Be thou as "a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God." Hebrews 2:17 Exodus 28:21 ; Exo 28:29 Remember me for good, and make mention of me to thy father. Have me also in precious esteem, as great men have the signets upon their right hands; and as whatsoever is sealed with a seal, that is excellent in its own kind, as in Isaiah 28:25 , hordeum signatum, excellent barley. Christ wears his people as a signet, or as great men wear their jewels, to make him glorious in the eyes of men; neither will he be plundered of them by the Church’s enemies; to touch them is to "touch the apple of his eye," Zec 2:8 that tenderest piece of the tenderest part. The proverb is, Oculus et fama non patiuntur iocos; The eye and the good name can bear with no jests. As the saints are in Christ’s heart, ad commoriendum et convivendum, so they are also "upon his arm"; so that if they do out come and say in any danger or difficulty, "Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; awake as in the ancient days," &c. Isa 51:9 he will "redeem his people with his arm"; Psa 77:15 yea, with his "outstretched arm," Exo 6:6 that is, with might and open manifestation of his love; he will "awake as one out of sleep, and like a man that shouteth by reason of wine." Psa 78:65
For love is strong as death. ] And yet death is so strong that it passeth over all men, Rom 5:12 and devoureth them as sheep; Psa 49:14 as a rot it overruneth the whole flock, having for its motto Nulli cedo, I yield to none. Only love is "strong as death," nay, stronger. Jonathan would have died for the love of David, David of Absalom. Arsinoe interposed herself between the murderers’ weapons, sent by Ptolemy, her brother, to kill her children. Priscilla and Aquila for St Paul’s life laid down their own necks. Rom 16:4 Paul was "in deaths often" for Jesus’ sake. Those primitive martyrs "loved not their lives unto the death." Rev 12:11 Certatim gloriosa in certamina ruebantur, saith Sulpicius; they were prodigal of their dearest lives, and even ambitious of martyrdom, that thereby they might seal up their entire love to the Lord Jesus. If every hair of mine head were a man, I would suffer death in the opinion and faith that I am now in, said John Ardley, martyr, to Bishop Bonner. a Ignis, crux, bestiarum conflictationes, ossium distractiones, &c. Let me suffer fire, cross, breaking of my bones, quartering of my members, crushing of my body, and all the torments that men or devils can devise, so I may enjoy my Lord Jesus Christ, saith holy Ignatius, whose motto was Amor meus crucifixus, My love was crucified. Love is itself a passion, and delights to show itself in suffering for the party beloved; yea, though it were to pass through a thousand deaths for his sake. And this is here yielded as a reason why the spouse first awakened Christ, and now desires to be so nearly knit unto him, to be "set as a seal upon his hand, yea, upon his heart." "The love of Christ constrained" her, and lay so hard upon her, that she could do no less than beg such a boon of him, than covet such a courtesy as a compensation of her dearest love to him. And surely to account Christ precious as a tree of life, although we be fastened to him as to a stake to be burned; this is love; and this our labour of love cannot be in vain in the Lord.
Jealousy is cruel as the grave. ] Or, Zeal is hard as hell. This follows well upon the former, for, Non amat qui non zelat, saith Augustine. b Zeal is the extreme heat of love and other affections for and toward any whom we esteem; burning in our love to him, desire of him, delight in him, indignation against any that speak or do aught against him. The object of zeal is either man, as 2Co 7:7 Colossians 4:17 ; - Basil, venturing himself very far for his friend, and by some blamed for it, answered, Ego aliter amare non didici, I cannot love a man, but I must do mine utmost for him; or, secondly, God, as John 3:17 2Co 7:11 Revelation 3:19 . And here our love will be, and must appear to be fervent, desire eager, delights ravishing, hopes longing, hatred deadly, anger fierce, fear terrible, grief deep, deeper than those black deeps (a place so called) at the Thames’ mouth, whereinto Richard III caused the dead bodies of his two smothered nephews to be cast, being first closed up in lead, &c. c
The coals thereof are coals of fire. ] Or, Fiery darts that set the soul all on a light fire, and turn it into a coal or lump of love to Christ. The word here used is elsewhere taken for fiery thunderbolts, Psa 78:48 and for brass tipped arrows, that gather heat by motion, Psa 76:3-4 also for a carbuncle or burning fever. Deu 32:24 The Church had said before, more than once, that she was "sick of love"; here she feels herself in a fever, as it were, or as if her liver were struck through with a love dart, by that "spirit of judgment and of burning" Isa 4:4 kindling this flame of God, as she calls it here, upon the hearth of her heart. The word signifies the consuming flame of God; and zeal may be very fitly so called. For as it comes from above, even from the Father of lights, as the fire of the altar did, so it tends to him, and ends in him; it carries a man up, as it were, in a fiery chariot, and consumes his corruptions by the way. It quencheth also those fiery darts of the devil (as the sunbeams will put out the kitchen fire), and sets the tongue awork, as the Holy Ghost set on fire the apostles’ tongues, Act 2:2-4 whenas wicked men’s tongues, full of deadly poison, are yet further "set on fire from hell"; Jam 3:6 yea, the whole man to work for God and his glory, as Elias with his Zelando zelavi (he sucked in fire with his mother’s breast, as some have legended). St Paul is mad for God (so some misjudged him, 2Co 5:13 ), as ever he had once been against him. Act 26:11 Peter was a man made all of fire, walking among stubble, saith Chrysostom. And of one that desired to know what manner of man Basil was, it is said, there was presented in a dream a pillar of fire with this motto, Talis est Basilius; such a one is Basil. Such also was Savonarola, Farel, Luther, Latimer, that bold Valiant for Truth, who, when he was demanded the reason why there was so much preaching, and so little practised, answered roundly, deest ignis, the flame of God is wanting in men’s hearts.
a Acts and Mon., fol. 1438.
b Contra Adamant., c. 13.
c Speed, 935.
Son 8:7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if [a] man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.
Ver. 7. Many waters cannot quench love. ] Water was proven long since to be above fire, in that ancient contest between those two nations about the precedence and precellence of their gods, the one worshipping fire and the other water. But though there be "gods many," and "lords many," yet to the Church there is but "one Lord," and to him she will go through thick and thin, through fire and water. Her love to him is such as no good can match it, no evil overmatch it; it cannot be quenched with any calamity; nay, it is much kindled by it, as fire in the smith’s forge, or as lime that is the hotter for the water that is cast upon it. Elias would have water poured on the sacrifice (covered therewith), that the power of God might the more appear in the fire from heaven. Similarily Christ suffers the ship of his Church to be covered sometimes with waves of persecutions and afflictions, that the strength of their love to him may be the more manifested, and the "thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." Luk 2:35 It is easy to swim in a warm bath, and every bird can sing in a summer’s day, but to swim to heaven (as Queen Elizabeth did to her throne) through a sea of sorrows, to sing (as some birds will do in the spring) most sweetly, then when it rains most sadly, that is a true trial indeed. Many will embark themselves in the Church’s cause in a calm, that, with the mariners in the Acts, will flee out of the ship in a storm. Many will own a prospering truth, a blessing ark, but he is an Obed Edom indeed that will own a persecuted, tossed, banished ark, an ark that brings the plague with it. God sets a high price on their love that stick to him in affliction, as David did on those men that were with him at Gath, those Cherethites and Pelethites that stuck to him when Absalom was up. 2Sa 15:18 And notwithstanding their recent rebellion at Ziklag, he takes them to Hebron with him (where he was to be crowned), that as they had shared with him in his misery, so they might partake of his prosperity. Lo, thus likewise deals our heavenly David with all his fellow sufferers. He removes them at length from the ashes of their forlorn Ziklag to the Hebron of heaven. And at the general judgment, in that great amphitheatre of men and angels, Christ will stand forth and say, "Ye are they that continued with me in my temptations, and I appoint unto you a kingdom," &c. Luk 22:28-29
Neither can the floods drown it. ] Surgit hic afflictio Neh 1:9 This is not a vain repetition; but serves to show that no persecution, tribulation, anguish, though never so grievous - though the devil should cast out of his mouth water enough to carry us down the stream a as Rev 12:15 - shall be able to separate the saints from the love of Christ. Rom 8:35
If a man would give all the substance of his house, &c., ] i.e., To buy this love of me, or to get it from me, I should cry out with Peter, "Thy money perish with thee," or with Luther, " Contemptus est a me Romanus et favor et furor, I care neither for Rome’s favour nor fury. When they offered to make him a cardinal if he would be quiet, he replied, No, not if I might be Pope. And when they consulted about stopping his mouth with money, one wiser than the rest cried out, Hem! Germana illa bestia non carat aurum, Alack! that German beast cares not for money. Galiacius Caracciolus, b that noble Italian convert, left all for the love of Christ, and went to live a poor obscure life at Geneva. Where, when he was tempted to defect for money, he cried out, Let their money perish with them, who esteem all the gold in the world worth one day’s society with Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit. And cursed be that religion for ever, that by such baits of profit, pleasure, and preferment, seeks to draw men aside from the way of truth and holiness. The Papists propose rewards to such as shall relinquish the Protestant religion and turn to theirs: as in Augsburg, where they say there is a known price for it of ten florins per year, and in France, where the clergy have made contributions for the maintenance of apostate ministers. c Stratagema nunc est Pontificum ditare multos ut pii esse desinant, saith one d that was no stranger to them: It is a cunning trick that the popes have taken up to enrich men, that they may rob them of their religion. And though Luther would not swallow that hook, yet there are those that will, not a few. Tell men a tale of utile, usefulness, promise them preferment, and you may persuade them to anything. Fac me Pontificem et ero Christianus, said one Pammachius, a heathen, once to the Pope: Make me a bishop, and I’ll turn Christian. But, as one said of Papists, that they must have two conversions ere they come to heaven - one from Popery and another from profaneness (like as grain must be first threshed and then winnowed) - so this money merchant, this preferment proselyte might have been a Christian at large, had he had his desired bishopric; but Christ never favoured any such self-seeking followers; Mat 8:20 Joh 6:26 their love he knows to be no better than meretricious and mercenary. It is a sad thing that any Augustine should have cause to comphdn, Vix diligitur Iesus propter Iesum, that scarce any man loves Christ but for his rewards; like the mixed multitude that came up with Israel out of Egypt, for a better fortune; or those Persians that, in Mordecai’s days, for self-respect became Jews. All God’s people should be like those Medes in Isaiah that "regarded not silver, and as for gold they delighted not in it." Isa 13:17 Christ’s love should be "better to them than wine" Son 1:2 and when in exchange for it, the devil doth offer them this world’s good, they should answer him as the witch of Endor did Saul, "Wherefore layest thou a snare for my soul to cause me to die?" 1Sa 28:9 or, as the vine and fig tree in Jotham’s parable answered the rest of the trees, "Should I leave my fatness and sweetness," Jdg 9:11 derived unto me from Christ, and so go out of God’s blessing into the world’s warm sun? God forbid that I should part with my patrimony, as Naboth said; take an apple for paradise, as Adam did; lose the love of Christ for the world’s blandishments, &c.
a ποταμαφορητον .
b His life, by Mr. Crashaw.
c Spec. Europ.
d Joh. Bapt. Gell., dial. 5.
Son 8:8 We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?
Ver. 8. We have a little sister. ] Thou, Lord, and I have such a sister - sc., the Church of the Gentiles, known to thee, and afore appointed to conversion, as James speaketh in that first Christian council, Act 15:18 from the beginning of the world; unknown to me - more than by hearsay from the holy prophets, who "prophesied of the grace that should come" 1Pe 1:10 unto her - but not unloved or undesired. Now, therefore, as a fruit of my true love unto thee, such as no floods of troubles can quench or drench, no earthly commodity can compass or buy off, I desire not only to deliberate with thee about the enlargement of thy kingdom, by the accession of the elect Gentiles thereunto, but also by making, as I may say, large and liberal offers, set forth my care and study for their eternal salvation. See the like affection in St Paul toward his countrymen the Jews, proceeding from that full assurance that he found in himself. Romans 8:38-39 ; Rom 9:1 And learn we to pray as earnestly for their conversion as they have done for ours; longing after them from the very heart rooted in Jesus Christ, as Php 1:8 and turning to the Lord, that they may sooner find compassion. It is Hezekiah’s reason, and a very remarkable one 2Ch 30:9
And she hath no breasts, ] i.e., She is not yet Nubilis apta viro, marriageable and fit for Christ, to be presented as a chaste virgin unto him; she wanted such paranymphs as Paul was to do it for her. 2Co 11:2 She had not an established ministry to nurse up her children with it. And at this same pass was the old Church at first, not only small, but unshapen. Eze 16:7-8 A society of men without the preaching of the Word is like a mother of children without breasts. All the Church’s children must "suck and be satisfied"; Isa 66:11 they must desire the sincere milk of the Word and grow thereby, 1Pe 2:2 not like the changeling Luther speaks of, ever sucking, never battling. Such shall be made to know that their mother hath verbera as well as ubera - rods as well as dugs. Their father will also repent him, as once David did of his kindness to Nabal, and take up his old complaint, Isaiah 1:2 , "I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner," &c., the most savage creatures will be at the beck and check of those that feed them; disobedience, therefore (under means of grace especially), is against the principles of nature. It is to be "like the horse and mule," yea, like the young mule, which hath no sooner done sucking her dam’s teats, but she turns up her heels and kicks her.
What shall we do for our sister. ] Love is not more cogitative than operative, and delights to be doing for the beloved. "I love the Lord," &c., "What shall I render unto him? I will pay my vows," &c. Psa 116:14 Jonathan will disrobe and strip himself even to his sword and belt for David, because he "loved him as his own soul." 1Sa 18:3-4 Shechem will do all that can be done for his beloved Dinah. The Macedonians will over do it for their poor brethren; Paul’s love to the Jews was like the ivy, which if it cleave to a stone or an old wall, will rather die than forsake it. Rom 9:3 He tells his Hebrews of their labour of love. Heb 6:10 All love is laborious.
In the day when she shall be spoken for. ] Or, Wherein speech shall be had concerning her, viz., for a husband for her; how we may best prefer her in marriage. The care of disposing young people to fit yoke fellows, lay upon their parents and other kindred, The Church, as an elder sister, shows herself solicitous, and propounds the matter to Christ, as the only best husband for her, the partition wall being broken down.
Son 8:9 If she [be] a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she [be] a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar.
Ver. 9. If she be a wall, we will build upon her, &c. ] Christ answers, If she be, as she ought to be, strong and well grounded in the faith, able to bear a good weight laid upon her, as a wall, pillar, and ground of truth, not sinking or fainting under the heaviest burden of these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, but patient and perseverant in the faith unto the death, then will I do all for her that may be done, to make her happy. This speech is somewhat like that of Solomon concerning Adonijah, "If he show himself a worthy man," &c. 1Ki 1:52
We will build upon her a palace of silver. ] The whole blessed Trinity will have a hand in building the Church of the Gentiles upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. Eph 2:20 God "plants the heavens, and lays the foundation of the earth, that he may say to Zion, Thou art my people." Isa 51:16 None can come to Christ except God the Father draw him. Joh 6:44 Christ the second person is both "author and finisher of our faith." Heb 12:2 The Holy Ghost is "the same Spirit of faith" in David and Paul, 2Co 4:13 and is received by "the hearing of faith." Gal 3:2 He is "the God of all grace," 2Pe 1:19 antecedent, concomitant, subsequent. We have nothing of which any of us can say, Mihi soli debeo., I am not bound to God for it.
And if she be a door, &c. ] As she is "the house of God, and gate of heaven." Gen 28:17 If she will open the "everlasting doors to the King of glory," Psa 24:7 and open "a great door and effectual" to his faithful ministers, 1Co 16:9 who come to "build her for a habitation of God through the Spirit." Eph 2:22 If she open the gates, "that the righteous nation, which keepeth the truth, may enter in," Isa 26:2 then will the Lord Christ "enclose her," board her, and beautify her with fair, sweet, and strong cedars, as with curious and costly wainscot, which shall be monimentum, munimentum, ornamentum, &c. But all this is promised upon the condition that she be a wall and a door, that is, that she receive and retain Christ with her; for otherwise she can claim nothing. He may desert her without breach of covenant, as he did the old Church, and many particular Churches of the New Testament now under the Turk, for their perfidy and apostacy. The Church of Rome, though utterly revolted, yet lays strong claim to Christ still; and concludes, "I sit as a queen, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day. For, strong is the Lord God who judgeth her." Rev 18:7-8 See Trapp on " Rev 18:7 " See Trapp on " Rev 18:8 " About the year of grace 1414, Theodoricus Urias, an Augustine friar in Germany, said that the Church of Rome was, even so long since, become ex aurea argenteam, ex argentea ferream, ex ferrea terream, superesse ut in stercus abiret, a of gold silver, of silver brass, of brass iron, of iron clay. There remains nothing now, but that of clay she become dung, to be swept out of doors with the besom of destruction.
a Jac. Revius, De Vit. Pontif., p. 229.
Son 8:10 I [am] a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.
Ver. 10. I am a wall; and my breasts like towers. ] If she be a wall, saith Christ. I am a wall, saith this Church of the Gentiles; I will carefully keep the doctrine of truth committed unto me, I will stand firm in the faith, being founded upon the rock of ages. And whereas lately I was looked upon as breastless, Son 8:8 now my breasts are fashioned, Eze 16:7 yea, they are grown far greater than those of mine elder sister’s; so that they look "like towers." The Church of the Gentiles, though little at first, and scarce considerable, yet after Christ’s ascension, was marvellously increased and multiplied; so that she herself stood amazed to see her children come from far, flying to her as a cloud, most swiftly, and in such flocks, as if a whole flight of doves, driven by some hawk or tempest, should scour into the columbary, and rush into the windows. Isa 60:8
Then was I in his eyes as one that found favour. ] Heb., Peace: even as that Jerusalem Shulamite; nothing inferior to the old Church; yea, before her in this, that she for present is fallen off, and "through her fall, salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy." Rom 11:11 But when God shall have united these two sticks, Eze 37:19 and made way for those kings of the east, Rev 16:12 then it shall be said of Jacob and Israel, "What hath God wrought?" Num 23:23
Son 8:11 Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand [pieces] of silver.
Ver. 11. Solomon had a vineyard in Baalhamon. ] So hath Christ in a "very fruitful hill." Isa 5:1 Solomon’s vineyard must needs be of the best, for he abounded both with wealth and wit, to make it so. He let it also to farm for a very great rent, which showeth the fruitfulness of it, so many vines set for so many silverings. Isa 7:23 But Solomon’s vineyard falls far short of Christ’s (wherewith it is here compared in many respects). For as it is nothing so fruitful, so he was fain to let it out to vinedressers. He could not dress and manure it himself, keep it in his own hands, as his father David his; 1Ch 27:27 neither could he take all the fruit, for the tenant also must live, and reason good. If Solomon have a thousand, the poor labourers may well have two hundred. But I, saith Christ here, neither let out the Church, my vineyard, but look to it myself, though I have a great deal of pains with it; nor suffer any part of the profits to go from me, so jealous I am of mine inheritance, being ever in the midst of it.
Son 8:12 My vineyard, which [is] mine, [is] before me: thou, O Solomon, [must have] a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.
Ver. 12. My vineyard, which is mine, &c. ] And therefore most dear unto me, for ownness makes love. Patriam quisque amat: non quia pulchram, sed quia suam. a Every man loves his own things best. The Church is Christ’s own by a manifold right, by donation, conquest, purchase - not with silver and gold, but with the dearest and warmest blood in all his heart. 1Pe 1:18 No wonder therefore though she be always before him; though he look carefully to her that cost him so dear, that he trust not others with her, as Solomon was forced to do; but whomsoever he employs about her - "for we are labourers together with God," saith the apostle; "ye are God’s husbandry" 1Co 3:9 - himself is ever one. Ipse adest et praeset, he is present and president. "Feed my sheep," said he to Peter, but do it for me, as the Syriac translator, respecting the sense, adds there. Joh 21:15 "Take not unto thee the instruments of a foolish shepherd," Zec 11:11 that is, forcipes et mulctram, as an ancient saith, like those that are more intent, attonsioni gregis quam attentioni, fisco quam Christo. Peter must not do any of this, much less must he "lord it over God’s inheritance," as his pretended successors do, with whose carcases therefore Christ shall shortly dung his vineyard, and water the roots of his vines with their blood. He must look to lip feeding, and, when himself is converted, "strengthen his brethren"; neither must he intervert or take to himself any part of the fruits, as Solomon’s farmers did. He may not seek his own things, but the things of Jesus Christ. "Paul may plant, and Apollos water," but, since it is "God that gives the increase," let God reap all the glory; they shall also "reap in due season, if they faint not," if they grow not "weary of well doing." Gal 6:9 See Trapp on " Son 8:11 "
Son 8:13 Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear [it].
Ver. 13. Thou that dwellest in the gardens, ] i.e., O thou Church universal, that dwellest in the particular churches, frequently called gardens in this book. The French Protestants at Lyons called their meeting house paradise.
The companions hearken to thy voice. ] The angels, so some interpret it, learn of the Church, and profit in the knowledge of the "manifold wisdom of God" in man’s redemption. Ephesians 3:10 1Co 11:10 1Pe 1:12 Or rather, thy fellowChristians, thine obedient children, that will hearken to their mother’s counsel. No sooner can she say, "Hear and give ear, be not proud, for the Lord hath spoken it," but they "give glory to the Lord their God," Jer 13:15-16 glorify his Word, Act 13:48 set to their seals, Joh 3:33 dispute not Christ’s commands, but despatch them; Illi garriant, nos credamus, said Augustine of heretics that would not be satisfied. The philosophers called the Christians credentes, believers, by way of reproach; because they believed God upon his bare word. "We believe and know," saith Peter. Joh 6:69 And "we believe and speak," saith Paul after David. 2Co 4:13 And we believe and practise, as Noah, and those other worthies did, Heb 11:7 laying faith for a foundation of all their doings and sufferings in and for the Lord, like as Ezr 6:4 the foundation of the temple was laid with "three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber." This is the guise of the Church’s children; they are soon persuaded to believe and obey their mother, whom they look upon as the pillar and ground of truth.
Cause me to hear it. ] See Trapp on " Son 2:14 " Tremellius renders it, Fac ut me audiant, Cause them to hear me: deliver nothing to them for truth but what is consonant to my word of truth; let all thy doctrines bear my stamp, come forth cum privilegio, carry mine authority. What said Augustine to an adversary - it was Faustus the Manichee, I thing - What matter is it what either thou sayest or I say to this or that point Audiamus ambo quid dicit Dominus, Let us both hear what God saith, and sit down by it.
Son 8:14 Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.
Ver. 14. Make haste, my beloved. ] Heb., Flee, or speed thee away, as Amaziah said to Amos, "Go, flee thee away into the land of Judah." Amo 7:12 And as a senator of Hala in Suevia wrote to Brentius, Fuge, fuge, Brenti, cito citius citissime, Make all possible speed, haste, haste, haste; so the Church is at it here, with her "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly." Rev 22:20 O mora! Christe, veni. Oh delay, Christ come. Thus, as this book began with a wish, so it ends. Tota vita boni Christiani sanctum desiderium est: a The whole life of a good Christian is a holy wish. He loves, and longs, and looks for Christ’s second appearance, and even spends and exhales himself in continual sallies and egressions of affection unto him in the meanwhile. He hath taken some turns with Christ upon those "mountains of spices," - so heaven is called for its unconceivable height and sweetness; he hath tasted of the grapes of this celestial Canaan; hence he is as eager after it as once the Gauls were after Italy, when they had once tasted of the sweet wine of those grapes that grew there. b The old character of God’s people was, they waited for the consolation of Israel, Christ’s first coming. Now they long as much for his second as the espoused maid doth after the marriage, as the apprentice for his freedom, the captive for his ransom, the traveller for his inn, the mariner for the haven, "looking for, and hasting c the coming of that day of God." 2Pe 3:12
b Plut. in Vita. Camilli.
c σπευδοντας την παρουσιαν , see /LXXE Isaiah 16:5 , Septuag.
Soli Deo gloria aeternum
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 8". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/