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by James Durham
PART IV.-CHRIST'S WORDS.
Verse 15. Behold, thou art fair, my love: behold, thou art fair, thou hast doves eyes.
These words contain a part of that excellent and comfortable conference between Christ and the Spouse: there is here a mutual commendation one of another, as if they were in a holy contest of love, who should have the last word in expressing of the other's commendation. In the verse before, the bride hath been expressing her love to Christ, and he again comes in upon the back of this, expressing his esteem of her, and that with a behold: 'behold,' &c.
If ye look upon this verse in itself, and with its dependance on the former words, it will hold out these things. 1. That love-fellowship with Christ must be a very heartsome life, O the sweet, mutual satisfaction that is there! 2. That Christ must be a very loving and kindly husband; so have all they found him, that have been married to him: and therefore, Eph. 5:27. He is proposed as a pattern to all husbands, and may well be so. That our Lord Jesus thinks good sometimes to intimate his love to believers, and to let them know what he thinks of them: and this he doth, that the believer may be confirmed in the faith of his love: for this is both profitable, and also comfortable, and refreshful. Lastly, from the connexion observe, that there is no time wherein Christ more readily manifests and intimates his love to believers, than when their love is most warm to him. In the former verse, she hath a room provided between her breasts for him, and in these words our Lord comes in with a very refreshful salutation to her: for though his love go before ours in the rise of it; yet he hath ordered it so, that the intimation of his love to us, should be after the stirring of ours towards him, John 14:21.
In the commendation that he here gives her, consider these five particulars, 1. The title he gives her, 'my love.' 2. The commendation itself, 'thou art fair.' 3. The note of attention prefixed, 'behold.' 4. The repetition of both. 5. A particular instance of a piece of that beauty he commends in her.
1. The title is a very kindly and sweet one: and this makes it lovely, that therein he not only intimates, but appropriates his love to her, allowing her to lay claim thereto as her own; 'my love,' saith he; and it says, that there can be nothing more cordial and refreshful to believers, than Christ's intimating of his love to them; and therefore, he chooseth this very title for that end: the men of the world exceedingly prejudge themselves, that they think not more of this, and study not to be acquaint with it.
The commendation that he gives her is, 'thou art fair.' If it be asked, what this imports? We may look upon it these three ways, 1. As it imports an inherent beauty in the Bride. 2. As it looks to the clearness and beauty of her state, as being justified before God; and this she hath, as being clothed with the righteousness of Christ. 3. As it holds forth Christ's loving estimation of her, that tho' there were many spots in her; yet he pronounces her fair (and lovely, because of his delight in her, and his purpose to make her fair) and without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing: from all which, these three truths may be gathered, 1. That such as are Christ's, or have a title to him, are very lovely creatures, and cannot but have in them exceeding great loveliness, because there is to he found with them a work of his grace, a new creature, and a conversation some way levelled to the adorning of the gospel. 2. Christ Jesus hath a very great esteem of his Bride, and tho' we cannot conceive of love in him, as it is in us; yet the expressions used here, give us ground to believe, that Christ hath a great esteem of believers, how worthless soever they be in themselves. Lastly, comparing this with verse 5, we may see, that believers are never more beautiful in Christ's eyes, than when their own spots are most discernible to themselves; and oft times when they are sharpest in censuring themselves, he is most ready to absolve and commend them.
The third thing is, the rousing note of attention which is prefixed; and this is here added to the commendation of the Bride, for these reasons, which may be as observations, 1. That he may shew the reality of that beauty that is in believers, that it is a very real thing. 2. That he may shew the reality of the estimation, which he hath of his Bride. 3. It imports a desire he had to make her believe, and a difficulty that was in bringing her to believe, either the beauty that was in her, or his estimation of her; and therefore is this note of attention doubled. She hath her eyes so fixed on her own blackness, that she hath need to be roused up, to take notice both of the grace of God in her, and also of the esteem that Christ had of her.
The particular that he commends in her, in the last part of the words is, 'thou hast dove's eyes.' He insists not only in the general, but is particular in this commendation he gives her. And this shews, 1. Christ's particular observation not only of the believer's state, frame and carriage in general, but of their graces in particular. 2. That there may be some particular grace, wherein believers may be especially eminent; even as it is in corrupt, natural men, that are still under the pollution and dominion of the body of death; yet there is some one or other predominant lust that is strongest: in some sort it is so with the believer, there is some one thing or other, wherein grace especially vents, and puts forth itself in exercise. Abraham is eminent for faith, Moses for meekness, Job for patience: and hence the believer is considered sometimes under the notion of one grace, and sometimes of an other, as we may see, Matt. 5:3. That our blessed Lord Jesus hath a particular delight in the holy simplicity and sincerity of a believer: or, holy simplicity and sincerity, puts a great loveliness upon believers; for, by this, 'thou hast dove's eyes,' we conceive to be understood a holy simplicity, separating her in her way, from the way of the men of the world: for, while their eyes, or affections run after other objects, hers are taken up with Christ; for by eyes are set out men's affections in scripture; so, Matt. 6:22, and often in this song, the eyes signify the affections, as in that expession, 'thou hast ravished me with one of thine eyes,' &c. The eyes being some ways the seat, and also the doors of the affections. Now 'dove's eyes' set out not only the Bride's affection, and love to Christ, but also the nature of her love, which is the thing here mainly commended, as simplicity, chastity, and singleness, for which that creature is commended, Matt. 10, 'Be simple as doves.' And this is the commendation of the love that true believers have to Christ, that it is chaste, single and sincere love: singleness is the special thing Christ commends in his people. It is that for which believers are so much commended, Acts 2:46.
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