|Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings|
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by James Durham
Verse 6. Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.
The words in this sixth verse, express the second way, how Christ evidenceth his respect to his Bride, he is so affected with her beauty, that he tells her, he cannot but haunt her company and answer her prayers. For, comparing this verse with verse 17, chap. 2, we find it a clear answer of her petition she puts up there. The words contain, 1. A promise. 2. A term set to the performance of it, shewing the continuance of his performance. The promise is, 'I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense:' by this in general is understood no withdrawing of Christ's, or shutting of himself up in heaven from her; for, that will not agree to the scope, which is to shew how he loves her, and comforts her; nor will that be an answer of her prayer, but the contrary: it must then hold forth some comfortable act of Christ's, evidencing his respect to her for her consolation; which we conceive to be a promise of his presence with her to the end of the world. By 'mountain' is often understood the church (as Isa. 2:1, and Mic. 4:1) called so for her endurance and stability; for typifying of which, the temple was built on mount Moriah. And it is called a 'mountain of myrrh, and hill of frankincense,' to difference this one mountain (which is in the singular) from the mountains, or excellencies in the world, after mentioned, verse 8, which are many: it is a sweet mountain, not of leopards but of 'myrrh' and 'frankincense:' these were spices much used in the ceremonial services, Exod. 30:23,24, and signified the preciousness, and savouriness of the graces of God's people, and of their prayers, Psalm 141:2. 'Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense,' &c. Here then is understood that place of the world (namely the church) where the graces of God's people flow, and their prayers (as acceptable sacrifices) are put up to him; and so it answers the scope, and is opposed to the mountains of the world, mentioned in the eighth verse. The church is called the 'mountain of myrrh,' and 'hill of frankincense:' 1. Because it is the place, where the graces signified by these are to be found; it is only in believers they do abound. 2. Because there they abound in prayers and praises, which ascend before him as incense from a high place. 3. Because he accepts so kindly of their duties, that they are pleasant to him, and he delights to rest amongst them beyond all other places, as being a 'mountain of myrrh:' in which respect, the house of God is called the house of prayer, because of the exercise of that duty frequently performed there.
The second thing is the term he sets to the performance of this promise, in these words, 'until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me' (saith he) 'to the mountain of myrrh,' till that day; the sense is, amongst all the places of the world, the church is the place in which I will choose to reside, and with believers abounding in the exercise of grace and prayer; they shall not want my presence, for there will I abide, until the everlasting day of immediate fellowship with them break up; and so this makes for the Bride's comfort; thou mayest my spouse (saith he) expect my company, and the acceptation of thy prayers (which are an incense to me) until that day come, as thou desirest: where we may see, (besides what was spoken upon this expression, chap. 2:17.) 1. That Christ conforms his answers to our suits, and makes the one as extensive as the other; the term she proposed is that he accepts of. 2. His hearing of one prayer, gives ground to his people to expect that he will hear all their prayers, and so he is called the 'hearer of prayer' indefinitely, Psalm 65:2, and this is the reason why he says not, he will turn to her: (which would look to that one prayer, chap. 2:17) but he saith, he will 'get him to the hill of frankincense,' which looks to all her prayers, and so his answer is more extensive, than the particular sought; which shews, 3. That as Christ will not mince his answers to believers, and make them less than their prayers, so he will often enlarge them, and make them more extensive than their prayers.
Next, from this that he gives believers such a name, as the 'hill of frankincense,' which is a special way, with respect to their prayers. Observe 1. That believers ought to be very frequent in prayer, like a hill that abounds in incense. 2. That Christ's presence is ever to be found, where these spiritual sacrifices of prayers and praises abound; for, wherever he hath an altar built to himself, and records his name, there he will come and bless his people, Exod. 20:24.
And that he sets down this by way of promise, it gives us ground to observe, 1. That even our sense of Christ's presence is in, and by, a promise; and it's the promise thereof that should comfort and satisfy the believer, even when sense is removed, and is not for the time enjoyed, John 14:21,23. 2. Christ limits himself to no other term-day, for continuing of the fulfilling, and performing of his promises, than that very time when believers shall be entered into the possession of what is promised; for I will grant thy desire (saith he) 'until the day break,' &c. that is, until the great day come, I will keep this course with believers. 3. Christ's promise of coming, and his making that sure, is one of the greatest evidences of love which he can bestow on his people. 4. There is no society or place (to speak so) but the church, nor any person in the church, but such as abound in spiritual sacrifices, who hath a promise of Christ's presence. 5. Christ would have the thoughts of eternal life, and of immediate enjoying of himself, entertained in his Bride, and would have her confirmed in the faith of it; and therefore is there here a particular repetition of the term which had been mentioned, chap. 2:17. 6. He would by this repetition also express, that (some way) he longs for that day of the consummation of the marriage, as well as she doth, and that he would gladly have all shadows gone betwixt him and her; which serves much to confirm her in the faith of it, and comfort her till it come.
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