« AnteriorContinuar »
deep waters, will be our gratitude for deliverance from them": in proportion as we have passed through the afflictive scenes of David,
will be the zeal and ardour with which we shall henceforth make boast of our great Deliverer: “ Who is so great a God as our Godi?” When we feel that we have “ had much forgiven us, we shall love much."]
The Bride however used not her exertions in vain; as we see by, II. The successful issue of them
[In her search after her Beloved, she inquired of the watchmen, whether they had seen him, or could give her any intelligence respecting him. And, soon after she had parted with them, she found him. By "the watchmen," we understand the ministers of God, who "watch for souls," whose special commission is, to “strengthen the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees, and to say to the fearful heart, Fear not; your God will come and save youk.” And it should seem that it was in following her directions she attained her end. But, however this might be, we see clearly from her example, that persevering endeavours shall be crowned with success. This is expressly promised by God himself
[Exceeding strong is that declaration of our blessed Lord; “ Ask, and ye shall have; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened!.” It is not said indeed that the answer shall be given, as it was to Daniel, in the very act of prayer : but it is secured from the first moment that we ask in faith; and it shall be given in the best manner, and at the fittest time; according as the Prophet Hosea has said ; “ Then shall
ye know, if ye follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and the former rain, unto the earthm." “ The vision is for an appointed time: and if we wait for it, it shall come, and not tarry an instant beyond the time” fixed in the counsels of unerring wisdom". ] It is also confirmed by actual experience
[The poor Canaanitess who was so urgent in her supplications to Christ to come and heal her daughter, met with a denial ; and such a denial as seemed to preclude any hope of ultimate success;
He answered her not a word." The Disciples then interceded for her, and requested, that she might
h Ps. xl. 1-3.
i Ps. lxxvii. 1-4, 13. k Isai. xxxv. 3, 4. m Hos. vi. 3. n Hab. ii. 3. and Heb. x. 37.
be dismissed with a favourable answer, if it was only to prevent her from wearying them with her entreaties: yet they also were refused, and in such a manner as effectually to silence them: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Still however she would not give up all hope, but with deeper prostration than before renewed her petition : but the answer she received was more discouraging than before, in that it blamed her presumption in hoping to participate in any respect the blessings which were designed only for God's peculiar people: “ It is not meet to take the children's bread, and cast it unto dogs.” Who would believe, that, after all this, she should persevere in her request, and succeed at last? Yet so she dido: and such shall be the success of every
child of man that "continues instant in prayer.” To this effect our Lord assures us, in a parable which was spoken for the express purpose of encouraging persons "to pray and not faint.” A poor widow, we are told, obtained redress from an unjust judge through mere dint of her importunity: and from thence we are taught to draw this inference; " And shall not God avenge his own elect who cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you, that he will avenge them speedilyp." Here then we are warranted in affirming that the Bride's success shall be realized in us, if only, like her, we rise to the occasion, and press through every impediment to the enjoyment of our God. God "never did, nor ever will, say to any, Seek ye my face in vain."]
But that we may profit more fully by the example of the Bride, let us notice, III. The use she made of her success
Having found her Beloved, she held him and would not let him go, till she had brought him into her mother's house, where she hoped her communion with him would be more intimate, and free from interruption. And thus should we also, 1. Exert ourselves to retain the Saviour with us
[There is a holy violence which we are permitted to use, like that of Jacob, who “wrestled all night with the Angel, and said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me 9.” But how often, for want of this, is our enjoyment of the Saviour short and transient, " like the early dew, or the morning cloud that passeth away!” We should “stir ourselves up to lay hold on him;" and, if he would leave us, we must constrain him, as the disciples at Emmaus did, to take up his abode with us'. We should dread nothing so much as the loss of his presence: and knowing what a holy and a jealous God he is, we should strive with all imaginable care to hold him fast, and avoid every thing which may “grieve his Spirit," and provoke him to depart from us.]
• Matt. xv. 22-28.
a Gen. xxxii, 24-28.
p Luke xviii. 1-8.
2. Seek to enjoy the most intimate communion with him
[The Church," which is the Mother of us all®,” may be considered as the place to which the Bride strove to bring her Beloved. And we also, both in the closet and the Church, should seek such manifestations of his love, as cannot be enjoyed in the noise and bustle of the world. In all the ordinances of his grace, and at his holy table especially, we should labour to ensure his presence; since without him they are only “ as wells without water,” which “ fill with shame and confusion" the thirsty soult. Nor be satisfied with any small communications of his grace and peace: seek the largest possible measure of them, even to“ be filled with all the fulness of God." In a word, so “ dwell in him, and let him dwell in you;" and so be “one with him, and let him be one with you;” that you may even now, in communion with him, have an earnest of the blessedness of heaven, even of that joy, all “ fulness of which is at his right hand for evermore.") From her example, let us LEARN,
1. To fix our hearts supremely on the Lord Jesus Christ
[Four times does the Bride designate him by this character, “Him whom soul loveth." Let him be familiarized to us also under the same endearing name. O let him be in our estimation “ fairer than ten thousand, and altogether lovely;" so that, if he interrogate us as he did Peter, Lovest thou me? we may be able to make the same appeal to him as Peter did, “ Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee."] 2. Not to indulge sloth in our pursuit of him
[“ The idle soul shall suffer hunger; but the diligent soul shall be made fat." What darkness have many brought upon their souls by their unwatchfulness! Peter was warned by our Lord to “watch and pray, that he might not enter into temptation.” But Peter slept; and, though repeatedly awaked and reproved, gave way to sloth again, the instant he was left to himself. What advantage Satan took of him, we all know, and what were the bitter fruits of his supineness. be sober and vigilant.” Let us not pray“ upon our bed,” as regardless whether we are heard or not, but let us stir
ourselves to r Luke xxiv. 28, 29. & Gal. iv. 26. t Jer. xiv, 3.
lay hold on Christ;" and then “cleave unto him with full purpose of heart.” If we would succeed in our pursuit of heavenly joys, we must not only pray, but “watch unto prayer with all perseverance."]
3. Not to yield to despondency, because we find him not so present with us as we could wish
(We are very apt to be impatient under the hidings of his face, and to conclude, that he has utterly forsaken us. This was the fault of the Church in the days of old: but God expostulated with her, and reproved her u - and assured her, that she was so indelibly engraven on the palms of his hands, that he could not possibly forget her*: he might indeed “ forsake her for a moment, but with everlasting kindness would he have mercy upon her y." If then similar fears arise in your breast, say as David did, after he had unhappily given way to them, “ This is mine infirmityz.” Be assured, that God, who is faithful to his promises, “will never leave you nor forsake you*:" that “ if you seek him, he will be found of youb:” and that “ in due season
u Isai. xl. 28–31.
* Isai. xlix. 14--16.
y Isai. liv. 7, 8. b 2 Chron. xy. 2.
SPIRITUAL SLOTH REPROVED. Cant. v. 2–8. 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 undefiled : for my head is filled with dew, and my
locks with the drops of the night. I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on ? I have washed my feet ; how shall I defile them? My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. 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. 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. 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. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love.
TWO things we should guard against in reading the Song of Solomon ; namely, the laying an undue stress on particular words, and the dwelling too
minutely on particular circumstances. There is a latitude due to the very species of composition, that may well exempt it from severe criticism, and from an over-strained application of its several parts. No one can have ever read the Holy Scriptures without seeing many expressions, which modern delicacy and refinement constrain us to pass over, as offensive to
These expressions occur both in the Law and in the Prophets; and therefore we cannot wonder if they occur in a composition intended to exhibit the mutual love subsisting between Christ and his Church, and shadowing it forth under the most delicate of all images, the mutual regards of a bridegroom and his bride. Allowance must be made for the customs of different nations: a thing may not be at all improper in one age or country, which in another age and country would be highly indecorous, as not being sanctioned by common usage. Besides, there are many customs which obtained in the days of Solomon, which, if they were known to us, would reflect light on many parts of this poem, which are involved in obscurity because we want the key to the explanation of them. Even what we do know must be touched upon with the greatest delicacy, lest what was written only for the inflaming of our spiritual affections, should become rather an occasion of evil. The true way to profit by this book is to take the general
pe of it, rather than its particular images, as the subjects for our reflection. And, if we attend to this rule, we shall find the passage which we have now read, replete with instruction. It informs us of the reproof which the Bride received, for the indifference with which on one occasion she treated her beloved.
Let us distinctly notice, 1. The indolence she indulged
She was in a state, not of absolute sleep, like the ungodly world, but of slumber, half asleep, and half awake; “ I sleep, but my heart waketh.”
Moreover, when her beloved came to hold communion with her, she was inattentive to his voice : yea, notwithstanding he addressed her in terms of