|Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings|
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by James Durham
Verse 3. I am my Beloved's, and my beloved is mine; he feedeth among the lilies.
The second part of her answer to the daughters' question, is, verse 3, and it contains the great ground whereon she quiets herself, and wherein she rests, as being that which makes Christ lovely to her, even though absent; 'I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine:' this now is the anchor which she casts, when all other means seemed to disappoint her. We had the same words for substance, and to the same scope, chap. 2:16, wherein she first asserted her interest, and secondly maintained it against an objection, even as she doth here. Besides what was said there, we may consider the words here, first, as in them her interest is repeated, though it was once formerly asserted: which shews, 1. That believers, though once clear anent their interest, may have their difficulties and doubts recurring upon them. 2. That when new difficulties recur, there is no new way to be taken for discussing of them, but the same way of believing, which is again to be renewed and kept in exercise. 3. It shews that miscarriages do not break off that union, which is betwixt Christ and his people; for, although there had been many failings in her former carriage, yet her interest is still the same. 4. Believers, even over, and notwithstanding of, many challenges, may lay claim to an interest in Christ, when they are in the exercise of repentance, faith and, other graces. 4. Her thus repeating and again owning of her interest, shews, that she was exceeding clear and persuaded thereof: whence observe, believers may attain a great degree of assurance, and may and should not only aim to have it, but to preserve and keep it clear; for, that is of great concernment as to their peace; and the weight of their consolation, in their confident application of all the promises, depends on it.
2. Consider, altho' the words be the same, yet the order is changed; it was, chap. 2:16, 'my Beloved is mine,' &c. So there she begins at asserting her interest in him, but here she begins at asserting his interest in her, or her betaking of herself to him, for clearing of her interest in him. 'I am' (saith she) 'my Beloved's' or, I am to my Beloved; and from her betaking herself to him, and adhering to the bargain, she concludes he also is hers: which shews, 1. That they, who are clear of their adhering to Christ, and of their fleeing to him, as their choice, may warrantably conclude, that Christ is theirs, even though sense should say the contrary. 2. When there is nothing in Christ's dispensation to us, that looks convincing-like of his love to us, it is good to reflect on our acting on him, and if it be found that we have fled to him, and closed with him, then there is ground to conclude our union with him, and interest in him: and there cannot be a sounder way of reasoning than that. For, if we on our part be answerable to the call, we are not to question his part (namely his bestowing of himself on us, according to the tenor of his offers) but to believe it according to his word: believers may sometimes be put to this way of arguing, and it is sure.
If we consider the words, as following on her former desertion and exercise, and as being now intended by the Bride (as her scope) to fix herself; they give ground to observe, 1. That faith is still a refuge; when all God's dispensations, and every thing in the believer's case, seems to leave the heart in disquietness, faith is then the last and great refuge. 2. Faith is then most satisfying when repentance is exercised, and all other means diligently gone about; therefore may she now cast this anchor, after she hath been in the exercise of repentance, and in the use of other means (as we have seen in the former chapter) which had been presumption to have been done at first, these being slighted; faith will sustain souls in duty, but presumption puffs up (as in verse 3,) even when they are out of it; faith preserves from fainting under discouragements in the way of God, presumption strengthens against just challenges, when folks are out of his way.
The second part of the verse, 'He feeds among the lilies,' was also spoken to, chap. 2:16. It is brought in here to remove that objection, if he be thine, where is he? Is he not away? And if he be away, why claimest thou interest in him? She answers them, though he be not present to sense, yet is he ever kind to his people, and therefore cannot but be kind to me, which makes me conclude, that though he be not present to sense, yet he is mine, and I am his. Believers are called lilies often,
1. For their native beauty, Matt. 6:29. 2. For their savouriness, chap. 5:13. 3. For their growing, and making increase, as the lily, Hos. 14:5. And so the similitude points at these three excellencies of the believer, 1. The native beauty and loveliness of Christ's grace in them. 2. The sweet relish and savouriness of their graces. And, 3. Their spiritual growth in grace, from one degree of it to another. Christ's feeding among his lilies, shews, the great delight he takes in them, and the pleasure he hath to do them good, as was cleared, chap. 2:16. Observe. 1. Christ is exceeding loving to, and tender of, all his people, of one as well as of another, and hath been so from the beginning, that none had ever any reason to complain. 2. Christ's way in general to his people, when well taken up, may notably quiet, content, and comfort any of them, when a difficulty comes on, or when under any darkness or desertion, as the Spouse here was; he never did any of his own wrong. 3. A believer, that hath clearness anent his fleeing to Christ, by faith, may draw comfortable conclusions from, and comfortably apply, the way of Christ with others of his people to themselves, and expect that same kindness from him, that they have met with; for, the covenant is one and the same with them all. 4. Believers may sometimes be put to gather their comfort, and to sustain their faith, more from the experience of others, in what they have found, and how Christ hath carried to them, than from any thing that is in their own present condition. 5. She propounded Christ's kindness to his people (the lilies) to encourage the daughters of Jesusalem to seek him, verse 2, now here, she makes use of the same ground, for quieting of herself. Hence learn two things, 1. That same which warrants believers at first to approach to Christ, may encourage them to renew, and continue the exercise of their faith, in making application of him and his comforts. 2. It is good in our own practice, to make use of the same grounds, and to walk by the same rules, that we would propose to others.
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