|Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings|
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by James Durham
Verse 10. Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?
The tenth verse may be taken as the expression of his own esteem of her, and so it begins the second proof of her excellency, that not only they, but he esteems of her. Or, the words may be looked on as the continuance of their praise, and be read thus, 'They praised her,' saying (as often that word is to be supplied) 'who is she,' &c.? If they be thus taken, the scope is the same, holding forth their esteem of her; and his repeating of it, shews his approbation thereof: and we incline to take the words in this sense, because it continues the series better, and shews their concurring in their thoughts of her, with what were his thoughts, verse 4, which is his scope. This is peculiarly taken notice of by him as well grounded praise, upon this account, that their thoughts were conformed and agreeable to his. It will also difference the two confirmations better to begin the second, verse 11, than to take the words simply as the Bridegroom's words, wherein the same thing for substance with what was said, verse 4, is repeated.
However, in these words, her loveliness is set out, 1. In the manner of expression here used, 'who is she?' Like that chap. 3:6, which was spoken by the daughters, and so this looks the liker to be spoken by them also, as wondering at her, What is she? This she must be some singular person, and so it proves his scope, laid down, verse 9. 2. The matter of the words sets out her loveliness in four expressions or similitudes, tending to one thing, namely, to shew the lightsomeness (to say so) of the church, and her ravishing beauty. The first similitude is, that she 'looketh forth as the morning:' The morning is lightsome, compared with the night, and refreshful; so the Bride is like the morning, compared with the world that is darkness, and she is lovely, cheering and heartsome to look on beyond all others, so the morning is often opposed to affliction and heartlessness, Isa. 58:8, for, then birds and fields look cheerful, that before were dark and drooping. 2. She is 'fair as the moon:' the moon is the lesser of the two great lights, and was made to guide the night, and is a glorious creature, shining above all stars; so is the Bride like the moon in a dark night, very conspicuous and beautiful, and useful withal, to them that are acquaint with her. 3. She is 'clear as the sun:' This speaks yet more of her splendour, her taking excellent beauty, and usefulness, for the direction and comfort of the daughters that behold her: the sun being the most bright, lightsome and glorious creature of the world, and the greater light that is singularly useful to the world. 4. She is 'terrible as an army with banners,' which was spoken to, on verse 4, and is here repeated, to shew that it is no common, effeminate beauty, but a stately majesty, wherewith she is adorned, that hath an awfulnesss in it towards men, and a prevailing efficacy towards God. In sum, it describes the spiritual beauty of the Bride in these properties. 1. That it is light-some and shining, there is no true glory but this, which is like the light, all other beauty is but dark; grace maketh one shine 'like a light in a dark place,' Phil. 2:15. 2. It is a growing beauty, every step of these similitudes ascends higher and higher till the sun be rested in, 'The way of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more until the perfect day,' Prov. 4:24. 3. It is comprehensive, therefore it is compared to lights of all sorts; there is somewhat in grace that resembles every thing that is lovely, God's image being therein eminently. 4. It is stately and awful, being convincing and captivating to onlookers. 5. It is a beauty attended with a military and fighting condition, and therefore compared to armies the highest commendation of believers doth insinuate them to be in a fighting posture, and the more staidly they maintain their fight, and keep their posture, they will be the more beautiful. 6. A believer that prevails with Christ (as she did, verses 4, 5,) will also be awful to others, as here she is, and will prevail over them, as the Lord saith to Jacob, Gen. 32:28, 'Thou hast prevailed with God,' and then follows, 'thou shalt also prevail with men.'
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