|Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings|
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by James Durham
Verse 5b. I raised thee up under the apple-tree: there thy mother brought thee forth; there she brought thee forth that bare thee.
The second part of this verse, in these words, 'I raised thee up,' &c. are not without obscurity: we take the words to be a new argument of the Bride's, whereby (after this exclamation of the daughters of Jerusalem) she comes in to press her former suit upon the Bridegroom, and proceeds in it, as being loath to be interrupted or diverted from her direct application to him; wherefore she seems to take no notice of what the daughters spoke, and makes no reply, but instantly goes on in her wrestling with him, as if nothing had been spoken by them. That they are words spoken to him, the affixes in the original make it clear; for, although there be no such difference in our language, whereby we may discern whether the word 'thee,' be masculine or feminine, as spoken to man or woman, yet in the Hebrew there is a clear difference and so, the word 'thee, I raised thee,' being in the original of the masculine gender, it is 'thee' man, or 'thee' my beloved, or husband: and therefore; they cannot be understood as his words to her, but as hers to him, seeing it may be clearly discerned in the original that they belong to a man and it is a different word from that which is ordinarily spoken of a woman; and there being no convincing example to the contrary, we must so understand the words here, and to understand them otherwise, would bring in needless confusion in that language. Next, that her scope is to press for nearness with him, both what went before, and what follows, do demonstrate: which also the opening of the words will confirm. In them there are two experiences asserted, which tend both to this scope: the first is her own experience, 'I raised thee up under the apple-tree.' The second is, the experience of all other believers, 'there thy mother brought thee forth, there she brought forth' (for 'thee' in this repeated expression, is not in the original) 'that bare thee.'
By the 'apple-tree,' we understand Christ himself, who is so called, chap. 2:3, because of his fruit and shadow, under which she sat down. To be 'under the apple-tree,' supposes her to be near him, and actually delighting herself on him, as being abundantly refreshed under his shadow, as was cleared, chap. 2:3. Her raising up of Christ, imports these three things. 1. A duty on her part (to say so) patting him to shew himself someway for her, more than formerly he had done; so to raise, or awake, when it is applied to God, signifies, as, Psalm 7:6; Psalm 44:23, 'Awake, why sleepest thou? Arise, cast us not off?' So then, the meaning of this expression, 'I raised thee,' is, I dealt with, and importuned thee in this. 2. It implies importunity in dealing with Christ, incessantly she stirred him, and with petitions pressed him; so, when it is said, Isa. 64:7, 'No man stirs up himself,' &c. The word, 'stirs up,' is the same word, and imports more than to pray: it signifies liveliness and wrestling in it, as fowls use to stir their young ones when they would have them flying, from which the word is borrowed. 2. It implies success, I not only made application to thee, and was helped to be serious; but I prevailed, and thou wast awaked and raised, and did make thyself in more than an ordinary way manifest to me, and for me, when I being admitted under thy shadow, took that opportunity to deal with thee. This then is the scope and strength of this first assertion, it is no marvel (saith she) that I long for thy company; for, by former experience I have found the good of it, not only for present ease under sad difficulties, but also I have been thereby helped to more liberty in prayer, and have had success for attaining new experience of thy love; therefore, I desire thy company still, and cannot but desire it.
The second assertion is more broad and extensive, not only I (saith she) have found it so; but all thy people have found access to thee, or thy blessed company and presence singularly useful, to make them fruitful, as having much influence thereon, so, by Christ's mother, here we conceive is understood the believer, in whom he is formed and brought forth, as we cleared on chap, 3:11, and they bring forth Christ. 1. By giving him a being in their hearts, where he had it not before; his image is in some respect herself, and when his image is brought forth in the soul, Christ is said to formed and brought forth there. 2. By bringing forth of the fruits of Christ's Spirit before others, when being, as it were, in travail in the pursuit of holiness, they are helped to manifest his image (after which they are created) in their conversations. 3. By attaining to the knowledge of this, that Christ is in them; believers being, as it were, in travail, till they know their delivery; but when that is clearly made out, and intimated to them, then (as the woman that brings forth a man-child, John 16:21,) they are at quietness, as being delivered. The force of the argument lies in the word 'there,' which relates to the 'apple-tree;' under the apple-tree (saith she) where I raised thee up, being admitted to thy fellowship; there also they were made fruitful, and delivered from their former pangs and travail, even as I was; and when it is found in the experience of all thy people, as well as by me (saith she) that thy presence and company is so useful, it can therefore be no delusion, nor is it any wonder that I so press after it and by this it seems, that bringing forth of Christ in this second part, is the same in substance with raising him up in the former, to wit, the obtaining of some sensible manifestation of Christ's respect, by which, those who were formerly in pain to have Christ formed in them, are now delivered and eased from the flames of jealous love, that are as pangs to such as travail in birth (as it were) to have their interest in Christ made clear, as the words in the following verse express.
Observe. 1. That which in a believer's experience hath proven useful, is in a special manner lovely and commendable to him: experience is a most convincing demonstration of the worth of any thing, and leaves the deepest impression thereof behind it. 2. The more any by experience have learned Christ's worth, and the more they have 'tasted that he is gracious,' their affections do the more vehemently stir after him. 3. Christ's presence hath many great and excellent advantages waiting on it; it brings ease and quietness to the soul, and gives refreshment under his shadow, it gives access to pray with freedom, and duties then have usually a sensible success. 4. The believer looks upon it as a great mercy to have freedom in prayer, and to be heard when he prays; that by prayer she raised Christ up is remembered as a mercy not to be forgotten, and this yet commends unto her the good of sitting under his shadow. 5. Access to Christ is no time for security, but for prayer; and when the believer is admitted to solace himself in Christ's presence, then should he be diligent in wrestling with him, and improving that opportunity for pressing after a farther manifestation of him. 6. There are some experiences that are unquestionable to all believers, though they be mysteries to all others in the world. 7. It is not a little strengthening, yea, exceedingly confirming to believers, when their experience and the experiences of other believers co-incide, and jump in the proof of the same thing. 8. Although believers may in some things differ, yet there are some things commonly found good in experience by them all: this is the advantage of Christ's company, there was never a believer that attained it, but he found much good of it; and those who still travail for it, apprehend groundedly that there is an unspeakable good in it.
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