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song, and that it was designed for a divine song, and of divine authority; for we read, i Kings iv. 32, that Solomon's songs were a thousand and five; this he calls the Song of songs, that is, the most excellent of all his songs, which it seems very probable to me to be upon that account, because it was a song of the most excellent subject, treating of the love, union, and communion between Christ and his church; of which, marriage and conjugal love was but a shadow. These are the most excellent lovers, and their love the most excellent love.

Mr. Henry, in the introduction to his Exp. of this book, says, “ It appears that this book was taken in a spiritual sense by the Jewish church, for whose use it was first composed, as appears by the Chaldee paraphrase, and the most ancient Jewish expositors." In the same place he says, “In our belief both of the divine extraction and spiritual exposition of this book, we are confirmed by the ancient, constant, and convincing testimony, both of the church of the Jews, to whom were committed the oracles of God, and who never made any doubt of the authority of this book, and of the Christian church, which happily succeeded them in that trust and honour."

[231] The Book of Solomon's Song. The divinity of this song is confirmed from the allusions there seem to be in the NewTestament to things herein contained; and particularly Christ, in John iv. 10. 14, speaking of a well of living water, seems to allude to the 15th verse of the iv. chapter of this song, “ a fountain of gardens, a well of living water.” So in Eph. v. 18, there seems to be an eye to chap. v. 1, of this song. See Notes on that passage in Ephesians.

336] It is one argument that the Book of Canticles is no common love song, that the bridegroom or lover there spoken of so often calls his beloved, “My sister, my spouse." This well agrees with Christ's relation to believers, who is become our brother and near kinsman by taking upon him our nature, and is our brother, and the son of our mother by his incarnation, as thereby he became a son of the church, and used the ordinances appointed in it, and so has sucked the breasts of our mother, and we are became his brothers also by the adoption of his Father. But this appellation would not well suit a common spouse among the Jews, who were so strictly forbidden to marry any that were near of kin to thein, and particularly to marry a sister. Levit. xviji. 9. “ The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or the daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.” It is neither likely that the Jews would marry such in Solomon's time, nor that it would be the custom to compare their spouses to such, especially that they would insist so much on such an appellation as though it was an amiable thing, and a thing to be thought of and mentioned with delight and pleasure, to have a spouse that was a sister, when God's law taught them to dread and abhor the thought of it.

[436] The Book of Canticles. The following places in the Psalms are a confirmation that by her, whom the bridegroom in this book calls, “ My love,” “My dove," " My sister," “ My spouse," and the like, is meant the church. viz. Ps. xxii. 20. xxxv. 17. lx. 4, 5. cviii. 6. cxxvii. 2. Ixxiv. 19.

(460] The Book of Solomon's Song, no common love song, but a divine song, respecting the union betucen the Messiah and the church. It is an argument of it that such figures of speech are made use of from time time in this song, as are elsewhere used concerning the Messiah and the church. Chap. i. 3. Grace is elsewhere compared to ointment. That, chap. i. 3, 4, Draw me, is parallel with Jer. xxxi. 3. There the Lord, speaking to the church of Israel, under the name of the virgin of Israel, says, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore, with loving kindness have I drawn thee.” Ver. 4. “The King hath brought me into his chambers ;” and elsewhere the saints are represented as dwelling in the secret place of the Most High. Hos. xi. 4. "I draw them with the bands of love." Representing the bridegroom as a shepherd, and the spouse's children as kids and lambs, chap. i. 7, 8, is agreeable to frequent representations of the Messiah, and the church in the Old Testament. The ornaments of the spouse are here represented as jewels and chains of silver and gold, chap. i. 10, 11, and iv. 1-9. Compare these with Ezek. xvi. 11, 12, 13. The excellencies both of bridegroom and bride are compared to spices, chap. i. 12, 13, 14. iv. 6. 10. 13, 14. 16. V. 5. 13. viii. 2. And ointment perfumed with spices, chap. i. 3. iv. 10. The same spices were made use of to represent spiritual excellencies in the incense, and anointing oil in the tabernacle and temple, and also in the oil for the light. Exod. xxx. 28. Chap. i. 16. “ Our bed is green." This is agreeable to figures of speech often used concerning the church. The comfort the spouse enjoyed in her bridegroom is compared to a shadow and the fruit of a tree. Chap. ii. 2, is agreeable to Isai. xxxv. 1, 2, and lv. 13, and Hos. xiv. 5. Chap. ii. 3. 5, is agreeable to Prov. jii. 18. “ She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her, and happy is every one that retaineth her;" and viii. 19. “My fruit is better than gold.” So the Messiah, in the prophecies, is often compared to a tree and branch. The comforts the bridegroom and bride have in each other, are in this book osten compared to wine. Chap. i. 2. ii. 5. v. 1. So wine was made use of in the tabernacle and temple service to represent both the comforts the church has in Christ, and also the gracious exercises and good works of the saints offered to God. See also Proverbs ix. 2, Isai. xxvii. 2, Hosea xiv. 7, Zech. ix. 15, and x. 7. The comforts the bridegroom and bride here enjoy mutually in each other are in the song compared to wine and milk, agreeable to Isai. lv. l; and also to the honey and honeycomb, agreeable to the frequent representations made of spiritual comforts in the scripture. The spouse here is represented feasting with the bridegroom. Chap. ii. 4. and v. 1. So the church of God is represented as feasting with him in the sacrifices and feasts appointed by Moses, and in the prophecies, Isai. xxv. 6, Iv. at the beginning. God's saints are all spoken of as the priests of the Lord, Isai. Ixi. 6; but the priests eat the bread of God. What the spouse entertains her lover with is called fruits, chap. iv. 16, vii. 13, viii. 2; as the good works of the saints abundantly are represented elsewhere as fruit which the church brings and offers to God. The spouse is here compared to fruitful trees, chap. is. 13, &c., vii. 7,8. The saints are compared to the same, Ps. i. 3, and Jer. xvii. 8, and Isai. xxvii. 6, and other places innumerable. The spouse is compared to a flourishing fruitsul vine, chap. ii. 13, vii. 8. So is the church of God often compared to a vine. The spouse's excellency is compared to the smell of Lebanon, chap. iv. 11. So is the excellency of the church, Hos. xiv. 6, 7. “ His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow shall return, they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine, the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.The fruits of the spouse are often compared to pomegranates in this song. Chap. iv. 3. 13. vi. 7. viii. 2. So the spiritual fruits of the church of God are reprerented by pomegranates in the tabernacle and temple. The spouse is in this song said to be like the palm-tree. Chap. vii. 7,8. So was the church of Israel, whose representation were the seventy elders, typified by seventy palm-trees. Exod. xv. 27. So the temple was every where covered with cherubims and palm-trees, representing saints and angels. 1 Kings vi. 29. 32. 35, vii. 36, 2 Chron. iii. 5. So in Ezekiel's temple, Ezek. xl. 16. The spouse in this song is compared to a garden and orchard, to a garden of spices, and of aloes, in particular, ch. iv. 12, to the end, and v. 1, and vi. 2, which is agreeable to the representations made of the church. Num. xxiv. 5, 6. “How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel. As the valleys are they spread forth, as the gardens by the rivers side, as the trees of ligo aloes which the Lord hath planted, as the cedar-trees be. VOL. IX


side the waters.” The spouse is compared to a fountain, chap. iv. 12, 13; so is the church, Deut. xxxiii. 28, Ps. Ixviii. 26. The twelve tribes of Israel are represented by twelve fountains of water. Exod. xv. 27. The spouse is called a fountain of gardens, chap. iv. 15. So the church of God is represented as a fountain in the midst of a land of corn and wine. Deut. xxxiii. 29. And a stream among all trees of unfading leaves, and living fruit. And as a watered garden, Isai. lviii. 11, Jer. xxxi. 12. The spouse is called a well of living waters, chap. iv. 15. The blessings granted to the church, and by the church are represented by the same thing Zech. xiv. 8. “Living waters shall go out of Jerusalem.” So Ezek. xlvii., where we read of waters going out of the temple and city of Jerusalem that gave life to every thing, and flowed in the midst of the trees of life. Another thing that is a very great evidence that this song is mystical, and that the spouse signifies not a person but a society, and the church of God in particular, is that she is compared to a city, and the city of Jerusalem in particular. Chap. vi. 4. “ Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem;" and that particular parts of the spouse are compared to buildings, and strong buildings, as towers and walls. Chap. iv. 4. “ Thy neck is like the tower of David, builded for an armory whereon they hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men." Chap. vii. 4. “ Thy neck is like a tower of ivory- Thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon, wbich looketh towards Damascus. Chap. viii. 10. “I am a wall, and my breasts like towers.". We find elsewhere people and societies of men represented by buildings, houses, and cities, but never particular persons. And the church of God is a society or people often represented in scripture by such similitudes, and particularly is often compared to a city with strong towers and bulwarks, and to the city Jerusalem especially, and that on the account of her many fortifications and strong bulwarks.

Again, it greatly confirms that the spouse is a people, and the church of God in particular, that she is compared to an army, an army terrible with banners. Chap. vi. 4. 10. “ And as a company of two armies, or the company of Mahanaim.” So the church of God when brought out of Egypt through the wilderness to Canaan, was by God's direction in the form of an army with banners. So the psalms and prophecies often represent the church of God as going forth to battle, fighting under an ensign, and gloriously conquering their enemies, and conquering the nations of the world. And the company of Jacob, that was as it were the church of Israel, with the host of angels that met them and joined them, to assist them against Esau's host, was the company of Mahanaim, or company of two armies, so called by Jacob on that account. Gen. xxxii. at the beginning.

So it is a great evidence of the same thing that the spouse is compared to war-horses, chap. i. 9, &c. which it is not in the least likely would ever be a comparison used to represent the beauty of a bride in a common Epithalamium or love song. But this is exactly agreeable to a representation elsewhere made of the church of God. Zech. x. 3. ^ The Lord of hosts hath visited his flock, the house of Judali, and haih made them as his goodly horse in the battle.” And ver. 5. “And they shall be as mighty men which tread down their enemies, as the mire of the streets in the battle. And they shall fight because the Lord is with them.” And ver. 7. “ And they of Ephraim shall be like mighty men."

These expressions show this song to be mystical. Chap. i. " My mother's children were angry with me," &c. If it is supposed to be used of the church, they are easily accounted for; they are agreeable to accounts in scripture history of Cain's enmity against Abel, and Esau's against Jacob; and their posterities enmity against Israel; and the prophecies that represent the future persecutions of the church, by false brethren.

Another thing that shows this to be no common love song, is that the spouse seeks company in her love to the bridegroom, endeavours to draw other women to join with her in loving him, and rejoices in their communion with her in the love and enjoyment of her beloved. Chap. i. 3, 4. “Therefore the VIRGINS love thee.” “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." Chap. vi. 1, 2. “ Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou lairest among women ; whither is thy beloved turned aside that we may seek him with thee? My beloved is gone down into his garden," &c.— Chap. viii. 13. “ Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice.”

The bridegroom in this song speaks of bis willing people, chap. vi. 12, which is agreeable to the language used concerning the people of the Messiah. Ps. cx. 2. (See Psalm xlv. No. 507.)

[86] Cant. i. 5. “As the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.” Kedar was a place where shepherds used to seat their tents and feed their flocks, a noted place for shepherds, as you may see, Isai. Ix. 7. “ All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered unto thee.” And Jer. xlix. 28, 29. Concerning Kedar. “Their tents and their flocks—they shall take to themselves their curtains.” The people of Kedar it seems used to dwell in tents, in moveable habitations, and lived by feeding of sheep; and therefore the church is very likely represented by these, and it is agreeable to many other representations in scrip

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