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by James Durham
Verse 1. I am come into my garden, my Sister my Spouse: I have gathered my myrrh, with my spice; I have eaten my honey-comb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends, drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.
This chapter hath four parts, according to the parties that sucessively speak. In the first part, verse 1. Christ speaks, and that it is he who speaks, doth at the first reading appear; they are kindly words, well becoming him, and are the answer of her suit in the former words: and so depend on them (for the division of this Song, as also of other scriptures into chapters, not being done by the penmen of the Holy Ghost, but by the translators, is not to be stuck on where there is no question in the matter) she desired him, verse last of the former chapter, to come, and now in this verse, behold I am come, saith he, &c. In it we have 1. His yielding to come. 2. His carriage when he is come, as to himself: and also his intimation of both. 3. His invitation to others, which may be also a part of carriage when come, taken up in three. 1. He makes himself welcome; and, 2. Others. 3. He intimates it.
The title being spoken of formerly, the first thing is, 'I am come into my garden' (as thou desired) 'my sister,' &c. Hence observe, 1. Christ hath particular and peculiar ways of coming to his people, and of nearness to them, even as he hath of withdrawing from them. 2. There are some peculiar times wherein he is more near than at other times. 3. Sometimes he will not only draw near to his people, but let them know that he is near, and put them out of doubt that he is come.
Again, if we look to this as the answer of the former prayer, we will see, 1. Christ is easily invited and prevailed with to come to his people; and sometimes there will not be long betwixt their prayer and his answer, it is the very next word. 2. Few words may be an effectual prayer to Christ (as the former suit was) a breathing or sigh will not be rejected by him, where sincerity is. 3. Christ will sometimes not only answer prayer in the thing sought, but he will intimate, and let his people know that he hath answered it.
More particularly, we may consider the answer, 1. As it agrees with her prayer. 2. As it seems defective. 3. As it's beyond it.
1. It agrees fully to her last suit, she prayed he would come and eat, he comes and eats. Observe. Christ will carve and shape out sometimes his answer, even according to his people's desires, as if they had the power of prescribing their own answers. For, when our prayers make for our good, Christ will alter nothing in them; but will grant them in the very terms in which they are put up.
Again, I say there seems to be somewhat defective, there is no return recorded of the first suit of liveliness; and her drowsy, lazy case, verse 2,3, gives ground to think, that that petition was not as yet answered. Observe. 1. Christ may be particular in answering one petition of the same prayer, when yet he may for a time suspend an answer to another, in itself as acceptable to him. Yea, 2. He may answer the last prayer, and seem to pass over somewhat formerly sought for.
Finally, compare this answer with their last suit, he doth more than she required; for she desired him only to come and eat, but he comes, eats, gathers, &c. Christ will often stuff in more in the answer, than was in the desire of his people; and will do above what they asked or thought, Eph. 3:20.
Next, his carriage (as to his own satisfaction) is in three steps, 1. 'I have gathered my myrrh with my spice:' myrrh and spice signify (as hath been often said) the graces that grow in believers, who are his garden; His gathering of them is his pulling (to say so) and dressing of them, as gardeners do their herbs and fruits, for making them useful; here, ere he eat he gathers, signifying, that as the spices are his, so he must prepare them for himself; she cannot prepare what provision Christ gives her, till he do it: she cannot put forth to exercise the grace she had received, till he breathe on it.
2. 'I have eaten my honey-comb with my honey:' when he hath prepared, he eats: by honey-comb and honey, is signified the same thing (as chap. 4:verse 1I.) because as that was savoury and wholesome food in these days and places, so are believers' graces a feast to Christ.
3. 'I have drunk my wine with my milk:' milk was for nourishing, wine for refreshing; Christ mentions drinking of both, to shew, how abundantly he was satisfied, and fully feasted, both for meat and drink: and how heart-comely he entertained himself on it, as a friend that thinks himself very welcome. Consider here, 1. Meat and drink are mentioned: Christ will not want entertainment where he is, he will invite and treat himself, where he gets welcome: where Christ gets welcome, he will never complain of the want of fare, he hath there a feast. 2. He accepts all heartsomely; as Christ is easily invited, so is he cheerful and pleasant company: where he comes, he takes what there is to give him, he is not sour and ill to please. 3. There is myrrh and spice, milk and honey and wine; which is not only to shew that there are diversities of graces, but that Christ casts out nothing of grace that is found in his people, he takes the milk as well as the wine; he makes much of the weaker grace, as well as of the most lively. 4. He gathers, and eats; as Christ provides food for himself, (so to speak with reverence) he is his own cook, none can dress dishes for Christ, but himself. 5. Where he gets the most serious invitation to come, there may be much unpreparedness for him when he comes, until he right it, and prepare his own entertainment himself. 6. Though things be not prepared for him, yet sometimes he will not suspend his coming on that, nor will it mar his cheerfulness in his carriage, when he comes and is made welcome, he dresseth and eateth. 7. He intimates all this: sometimes Christ may be well pleased with believers, and be feasting himself on their graces, and yet they not discern it, nor believe it, until he intimate it and make it known to them: and therefore that their joy may be full, he graciously condescends now and then to put them upon the knowledge of it, and persuades their hearts of it.
The last thing, is his invitation to his friends to eat with him, which is pressed, 1. By kindly compellations, 'Friends' and 'beloved.' 2. By three words, 'eat, drink,' and that 'abundantly,' By 'friends' and 'beloved,' are understood believers, there are none other capable of these titles, and it was she that prayed, that is here understood by friends and beloved, and so he answers her. Hence we see, the believer is Christ's friend, as Abraham, James 2:23, and Lazarus, John 11:11, were called. It imports, 1. A privilege on the believer's part, to be admitted to a special league of friendship with him, when others are slaves or enemies. 2. A special friendliness in Christ's carriage to them; familiarly, freely, telling them all his mind, so far as is needful for them to know, John 15:15, and lovingly manifesting himself to them, as one doth to his friend. 3. It holds out a duty lying on the believer, to carry friendly to Christ and them that are his, John 15:14. 'A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly' (Prov. 18:24,) to them and seeing he trusts them, and expects no ill from them, they should be like Christ's friends, answerable to their trust. They are also beloved, the title that the husband gives the wife, for evidencing special love: all Christ's friends are beloved, and believers are (whatever they be as to their desert, or in the eyes of men) both friends and beloved: no friend hath such bowels for his friends, as Christ hath for his friends. 'Friends' and 'beloved' are in the plural, 1. To shew he excludes no believer, but includes all, and that with the same seriousness he invites and makes them all welcome to feast with him, whether they be strong or weak. 2. Because his mercy to one may be cheering to many, and he allows and would have others of his people to be cheerful, because of his kindness and mercy manifested to one.
His entertaining of them is held out in three words. 1. 'Eat,' that declares his desire to have believers partaking with him in the soul-refreshing blessings of his purchase, by their reflecting act of faith comforting themselves in the privileges, promises, and mercies allowed on them. Observe. 1. The same feast, is a feast to Christ and believers both. 2. Where he is cheerful, they should be so also. The second word is, 'drink:' he drinks, that is, satisfies himself as fully feasted, to wit, with the graces of his people (such is the complacency he hath in them, when he stirs them up to any liveliness of exercise) and he allows them in this case to be refreshed, satisfied, and feasted also; it becomes them to drink when he drinks, and bids them drink. The third word is, 'drink abundantly:' that shews the largeness of his allowance, and the heartiness of his welcome: as a gladsome host, so cherishes he his guests; and all this is to be understood spiritually, of the joy. and comfort which he allows on his people, even to be 'filled with the Spirit,' in opposition to wine, Eph. 5:18, which is more satisfying, cheering, and refreshing to the inner man, than wine is to the body. The scope and dependance points out these things, 1. There is much notable soul-refreshing to be had in Christ's company; wherever he is, there is a feast, Rev. 3:20. 2. He allows his people largely to share of it; yea, it is his will that all should liberally improve this allowance, he willeth it. 3. If our joy run in a spiritual channel, there cannot be excess in it, if it were to be drunken with it, so as to forget our poverty, and to re member our misery no more. 4. Christ is never fully satisfied at his own feast, till he get his friends feasted and cheered also: he eats not his morsels alone, but is desirous to communicate his good things, according as they are communicable. 5. Christ's preparing and dressing is rather for the welcoming of his friends, than for himself. I have gathered, eat ye, saith he. 6. Christ is a most heartsome distributer to others, and entertainer of his friends: there needs be no sparing to eat where he invites. 7. Believers, even Christ's friends, need invitation, by reason of unbelief, sense of unworthiness (which makes them sinfully modest) and the dulness of their spiritual appetite; and therefore they will need (to say so) bidding and entreaty oftentimes to eat their meat, and to cheer themselves in him, and he will not let them want that. 8. Wherever Christ is present, there is a feast with him for them that are in his company; he sups with them, and makes them sup with him; and all is his own, and of his own dressing. 9. It is a gift of Christ's mercy, not only to have grounds of consolation, but to be enabled to comfort ourselves in these grounds; (as in outward things, it is one gift to have, and another to have the cheerful use of that which we have) for the believer may have the one when he wants the other; and when he hath the one, to have the other added is a double mercy, as the exhortation, 'eat, drink,' &c. imports. 10. It is not every one who is Christ's friend, nor every one that hath that honour to comfort and feast themselves with him; it is a privilege that is peculiar to them who are his friends indeed.
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