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by James Durham
Verse 8. The voice of my beloved! Behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.
9. My beloved is like a roe, or a young hart: behold he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice.
These words contain a case of the Bride's, different from her case in the former words; there she was in Christ's arms; here she sees him afar off; there she was endeavouring to keep him still; here she is sensible that he is away, and verse ult. is praying for his return. Observe then from the connexion, the most satisfying and comfortable conditions of a believer, while upon earth, are not abiding; even the Bride must experience distance, as well as presence. 2. Sometimes sensible presence will not continue, even when believers are most careful to retain it, as we find she was in the words before.
Her distance hath two steps, 1. There are some views of Christ, and some intercourse with him, though afar off, in this chapter: then 2. She is deprived even of that, in the first part of the chapter following: and readily distance once begun, doth proceed from a lesser to a greater degree before it be removed.
More particularly, we would observe here, I. What is Christ's carriage, when the Bride doth not enjoy sensible presence in so lively a way: and that in two things, 1. What he is doing: he is coming, leaping, standing behind the wall, looking through the lattice, &c. 2. What he is saying; he is speaking to her, and, as it were, writing kind love-letters to her at that same time: Christ is both doing and speaking kindly to a believer, even when he is away to sense, if it be well discerned. II. We may see what is the Bride's carriage suitable to his, in four steps (worthy to be imitated by believers, for their own peace, in their disconsolate condition.) 1. She observes what he doth, though it be but a twilight discovery she hath of him. 2. She records what he saith, and reads his epistle often over. 3. She comforts herself in keeping the faith of her interest, and the hope of future enjoying of him, clear. And, 4. Prays in the mean time, for some manifestations of his love, till that come. The first is, verses 8, and 9. The second, verses 10. to 16. The third, verses 16, and 17. The fourth in the close of the 17th verse, In her observation of Christ's way with her, verse 8. Consider, 1. His practice, which she observes. 2. Her observation of it. 3. How she is affected with it. And lastly, her expression of it.
The first of these is contained in these words, 'He cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.' There are four things here to be taken notice of, 1. A supposed distance, for when he is said to be coming, he is not present: this distance is not in reality, as to the union that is betwixt Christ and a believer, that is always the same, but it is to be understood as the sense of his presence which may be interrupted. 2. It is said 'he cometh;' coming imports his drawing near to remove the distance, as being already on his way. Observe. 1. It is his coming that removes the distance between him and his people: the first motion of love is still on his side. And, 2. even when Christ is absent, if he were well seen, he is making way for our nearer union with him, and is upon his way coming again, John 14:3. Even when he is away he is still coming, though it may be afterward the distance seem to grow greater, and the night of absence darker. The third thing is, that there are mountains which he comes over, that is something standing between him and us, marring our access to him, and his familiarity with us, till he remove it, as mountains obstruct men's way in travel; and so difficulties in the way of God's work are compared to mountains, Zech. 4:7, 'Who art thou, O great mountain?' &c. So here, as there are difficulties to be removed, before the union betwixt Christ and us be made up; so also there are particular sins, as perjury, breach of covenant, and other clouds of guiltiness, which must be removed, ere his presence can be restored, after he goeth away. Again, coming over mountains, maketh one conspicuous and glorious afar off; so Christ's march and return to a believer is ever in triumph, over some great ground of distance, which makes him discernibly glorious. 4. Christ is said to be leaping and skipping which imports, 1. An agility in him, and a facility to overcome whatever is in the way. 2. A cheerfulness and heartiness in doing of it; he comes with delight over the highest hill that is in his way, when he returns to his people. 3. It holds forth speediness: Christ comes quickly, and he is never behind his time, he cannot mistryst a believer; his term-day is their necessity, and be sure he will meet with them then. 4. It imports a beauty, majesty and stateliness in his coming, as one in triumph; and so he comes triumphantly and in great state; and what is more stately than Christ's triumphing over principalities and powers, and making a shew of them openly, by over-coming the difficulties in his way to his Bride.
The second thing in the verse, is her observation of this; Christ in his way is very discernible to any that is watchful, and believers should observe his way when absent, as well as present. If it be asked how she discerned it? there is no question, faith is here taking up Christ according to his promise, John 14:3, 'If I go away, I will come again;' and faith lays hold on this: faith is a good friend in desertion, for as we may here see, it speaks good of Christ even behind his back: when sense would say, he will return no more, faith says he is coming, and prophesies good of Christ, as there is good reason.
The third thing is, how she is affected with it; this observation proves very comfortable to her, as her abrupt and cutted expression imports, 'the voice of my beloved:' as also the 'behold,' she puts to it, which shows, 1. That her heart was much affected with it. 2. That she thought much of it. 3. That it was someway wonderful that Christ was coming, even over all these difficulties to her; there is no such ravishing wonder to a sensible believing sinner, as this, that Christ will pass by all his sins, yea take them all on himself, and come over all difficulties unto him, therefore is this, behold, added here.
The fourth thing is her expression of this, which confirms the former, and it is such as sets out a heart, as it were, surprised, and overcome with the sight of a coming friend. Hence, Observe. 1. A sinner's thoughts of a coming Christ, will be deeply affecting; and these thoughts of him are misshapen and of no worth, that do not in some measure cast fire into, and inflame the affections. And, 1. A heart suitably affected with the power of Christ's wonderful grace and love will be expressing somewhat of it to others, as the Bride is doing here.
In the 9th verse the observation of his carriage is continued: where, 1. He is commended. 2. His carriage is described, with her observation of it. The commendation she gives him is, 'He is like a roe, or a young hart:' these creatures are famous, for loving and kindly carriage to their mates, as also for loveliness and pleasantness in themselves, Pro. 5:19. Thus he is kindly and loving: O so kind as Christ is to his church and chosen! Jonathan's love to David passed the love of women, but this surpasseth that, beyond all degrees of comparison. 2. He is timeous and seasonable, in fulfilling his purposes of love to his Bride; no roe or hart for swiftness is like him in this and this may be the ground, from which she concludeth that he was coming and leaping in the former words, because Christ's affections, and way of manifesting them, is such as this:
2. His carriage is set forth in three steps, held forth in allegoric expressions. The first is, 'he stands behind our wall,' that is as a loving husband may withdraw from the sight of his spouse for a time, and yet not be far away, but behind a wall, and there standing to see what will be her carriage, and to be ready to return; or as nurses will do with their little children, to make them seek after them; so says she, though Christ now be out of sight, yet he is not far off, but, as it were, behind the wall; and it is called 'our' wall, in reference to some other she speaks with, of him; and a wall, because often we build up these separations ourselves, betwixt him and us (Isa. 56:1.) that hides Christ, as a wall hides one man from another; yet even then Christ goes not away, but waits to be gracious, as weary with forbearing: there is much love on Christ's side, in saddest desertions, and our hand is often deep in his withdrawings: it is sad when the wall that hides him, is of our building: there is often nothing betwixt him and us, but our own sin.
The second step is, 'he looketh forth at the window,' which is to the same purpose. The meaning is, though I get not a full sight of him, yet he opens, as it were a window, and looks out, and I get some little glance of his face: sometimes Christ will neither (as it were) let the believer in to him, nor will he come out to them; yet he will make windows, as it were, in the wall and give blinks of himself unto them.
The third step is, 'he shows himself through the lattice:' that is, as there are some windows that have tirlesses, or lattices on them, by which men will see clearly, and yet be but in a little measure seen; so, says she, Christ is beholding us, though we cannot take him up fully: yet the smallest bore whereby Christ manifests himself, is much and to be acknowledged. All this she observes with a 'behold,' as discerning something wonderful in all these steps: Christ hath several ways of communicating his love to his people (and that also even under desertions and withdrawings) and there are several degrees of these, yet the least of them is wonderful, and should be welcomed by believers, if it were to see him but through the lattice.
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