|Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings|
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by James Durham
Verse 11. Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers: every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver.
12. My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.
It is a great assertion which the Bride laid down, verse 10, that she was a wall, and had found favour in his eyes and it being of high concernment, if well grounded, therefore, to make out the warrantableness thereof she proceeds to demonstrate it, verses 11,12, thereby to give believers advertisement, that they should be well seen in the grounds of their own peace, and to shew the solid way how the well groundedness thereof may be found out and because, the conclusions, asserting our union with Christ and interest in him, follow on premises, whose major proposition is in the word, and whose assumption is to be searched, and confirmed from the conscience, speaking from inward experience and feeling, she doth formally proceed: first, by laying down a sum of the gospel, in a complex general doctrine, verse 11, to this purpose, Christ had a church, which he took pains on, for this end, that it might be fruitful, and that in such a measure. Then in the twelfth verse she compares her practice with that rule, and finds it suitable, therefore the conclusion follows. We may take it up thus in form, They who improve the trust well that is put upon them, to bring forth such fruits as Christ calls for in his covenant, may conclude, that 'they are a wall, and have found favour in his sight:' this truth is confirmed in the eleventh verse, because it is for that very end, and on these very terms, that Christ hath appointed the ordinances in his house, and made the promises to his people, that they should 'bring forth a thousand for the fruit thereof to him,' and he will not reject a consequence drawn from that which he himself hath appointed in his covenant; for, such grounds, as the word and covenant confirm, are only sure to reason from. Then she assumes, verse 12, but I have been sincere in that trust which was committed unto me, conform to the terms of the covenant, and have a thousand (according thereto) to give to Christ, Therefore, &c. And because this hath need to be well grounded also, she proves it, partly, by instancing the fruits that belonged to him and to the keepers, which she had brought forth, to shew that his ordinances were not in vain to her; and partly, by attesting himself immediately, in these words, 'Thou, O Solomon,' speaking to him in the second person, thereby to evidence her sincerity before him, who alone could bear witness thereof, and that it was not mere external performances (which, as such, are manifest to others) upon which she grounds what she asserts in the assumption. This is the native series and scope of the words, whereby they depend on the former, and by which, now before death, leaving this way of communion with Christ, which she enjoyed here-away mediately in ordinances, and before that eternal and immediate way beyond death (which is prayed for, verse 14.) she doth collect her interest, and confirm her assurance: the particular exposition of the words will clear it more.
From the scope, Observe. 1. That thorough persuasion of interest in Christ had need to be solidly grounded, and believers should be distinct in the grounds thereof, and not go by guess with their confidence. 2. The nearer that people come to dying, they should be the more accurate in this search, and have the evidences of their interest in Christ the more clear. 3. We may gather from her example that the solid and only way to be thoroughly cleared of our title to Christ, is when the grounds thereof are comprehended in the Lord's covenant; as he that believes, repents, hath the fruits of the Spirit, &c. he is justified, sanctified, &c. And when the assumption, bearing the application of these grounds to ourselves, will abide the trial in Christ's sight, and may be instanced before him in the effects thereof, thus, but it is so with me, therefore, &c. this is her way of concluding.
We come now to expound the words more particularly: and first, we conceive it is out of doubt, that they are mystically and spiritually to be understood, that is, by Solomon, Christ is meant, and by the vineyard, the church, &c. for, so the strain and nature of the allegory through out this Song and the manner of speaking all along doth require; and there being but one Solomon that is spoken of in this Song, his having of a vineyard must be understood as his making of a chariot, chap. 3:9,10, which being paved with love, could not be a piece of work framed by David's Son: we are not therefore, curiously to enquire here, what place this is, called Baal-hamon or, whether Solomon had such vineyards or not, let out at such a rent? These things make not to the scope.
Again, that they are the Bride's words, is clear not only from the scope and matter thereof, but also from these things, 1. She not only speaks of Christ (by the name of Solomon) in the third person, verse 11, but to him, 'Thou, O Solomon,' &c. in the second person, verse 12. It cannot therefore be the Bridegroom that here speaks, but the Bride, as personating a believer. 2. She is differenced from strangers and hypocrites, in this, that she hath fruit to give him, and hath that proposed to herself for her end: and she is differenced from the keepers of the vineyard, the ministers, verse 12, they get from her two hundred; it must therefore be the Bride, as personating a believer, who was speaking in the former verse, and continueth here in speaking. 3. The expressions, verse 12, where she applieth to herself what she had in the general asserted, verse 11, agree well to her, as the opening of them will clear.
The words do contain the proof of a believer's sincerity and reality in the covenant of God, made out by two things put together, 1. By laying down distinctly the nature and terms of the covenant, verse 11. 2. By comparing herself exactly and impartially therewith, verse 12. The general doctrine of the covenant, verse 11, runs on three heads; the first looks to the sum and end of all, that Christ had a church or vineyard, committed or given him. The second looks to Christ's administration in his church, by external ordinances, 'he let out to keepers.' The third holds forth the ends of his letting out this vine-yard, or the terms upon which it is leased, 'every one was to bring for the fruit thereof, a thousand pieces of silver.'
For explaining of the first, we are first to remember, that by Solomon, we are to understand Christ; for, as ever hitherto, so here, the allegory is continued, to express and set forth Christ in his way with his church, under that name. Next, the vineyard here is his church, Isa. 5:7, &c. the visible church in some respect is his vineyard, as she is separate from others, and appointed to bring forth fruits to him; but especially the church invisible and elect, who in a peculiar respect are Christ's as given to him and purchased by him, and so frequently in this Song, the believer is called a garden or vineyard. 3. The place where this vineyard is planted, is called Baal-hamon: which is the name of no proper place any where mentioned in scripture, but is borrowed for its signification, and it signifieth 'father of a multitude,' and so it points out that Christ's vineyard is planted in a soil that is fruitful, and bringing forth much; and it is on the matter the same with that, Isa. 5:l, 'my beloved had a vineyard in a fruitful hill,' or, horn of oil, as the word there in the Hebrew signifieth, to show that it was well situate in a good soil, and did lie well, and was by his industry well fitted for bringing forth of fruit. Now, Christ is said, and that in the peterite time, to have 'had' this vineyard, which shews his interest and propriety therein, and title thereto, and that by an eternal right, and afar other kind of title than he hath to the rest of the world beside: now this right of Christ's (in respect of which it is he had this vineyard) is not to be understood with relation to his essential dominion and sovereignty, whereby with the Father and Holy Ghost he created all things, and so as Creator, hath a conjunct interest in them; but this looks to that peculiar title, which Christ hath to the church of the elect, especially as mediator, by the Lord's giving of such and such particular persons to him to be saved, John 6:38,39, &c. for, he hath this vineyard as distinct from the world, and claims title to the given ones, when he disclaims the world, John 17:6, 8, 'they are mine' (saith he) 'because thou gavest them to me:' yet, in so far as the visible church is separated to him by external ordinances (and so all Israel are said to be elected, Deut. 6) they may be said to be Christ's; but it is those who are by God's election separated from others, given to Christ, and undertaken for by him, in the covenant of redemption, that especially are intended here, and it is necessary to advert, that there are four divers parties, to which the church in divers respects is said to belong. 1. She is the Lord's: the Father, Son, and Spirit, his by eternal election; this is the first right, John 17:6, 'thine they were,' to wit, by thy eternal purpose: and, from this flows the second, to wit, the mediator's right, and thou gavest them me;' the Father is the owner and proprietor of the vineyard, Matt. 21:40, called, John. 15:1, 'the husbandman;' for, the church is first his, and next Christ's who as Mediator is the great deputy, and universal administrator of grace, to whom the elect are given as to the great bishop and shepherd, and to whom all the ordering of what concerns their good is committed this right is by donation, and differs from the former. 3. The vineyard is said to be the Bride's, verse 12, and chap. 1:6, in respect of the believer's particular trust, with oversight of, and interest in, those things that Christ hath purchased for them, and bestowed on them, which they are to improve and trade with: in which respect, Matt. 25 and Luke 19 the talent is said to be not only the master's, but also the servants because the right improving of it, brings advantage unto the servant more properlythan to the master: and each believer in some kind hath a vineyard, because each of them shares of all the graces, privileges, benefits, &c. that are saving. 4. The vineyard is also the minister's; they have a title as under-keepers, overseers and dressers, therefore it is said to be let out to them by Christ; they are as farmers; Hence when Christ, Rev. 2:5, writes to the angel of the church of Ephesus, speaking to the angel, he calls the church, 'thy candlestick,' and chap. 2:15, while the vines are called 'our vines,' the minister's interest is asserted as well as Christ's: so all these interests mentioned in these two verses are well consistent.
Observe. 1. That our Lord Jesus hath some who beyond all others are his, by peculiar right and title; and he had this title to them before ever actually there was a church, this vineyard did belong to him otherwise than others, in the world; even before it was, which could not be but the Father's giving the elect to him. 2. Christ hath a notable right to, and propriety in, these elect who are given him, so that the vineyard is his, and it cannot be that one of these perish, without the impairing and prejudice of the property of our Lord Jesus. 3. There is an old transaction, concerning the salvation of the elect betwixt the Father and the Son, which can be no other thing but the covenant of redemption; for, the Son's having an interest in some and not in others, supposeth that some were given to him and accepted by him, as that word, John 17:6, bears out, 'thine they were, and thou gavest them to me,' and so they are mine. 4. Christ's church or vineyard, hath the only choice soil in all the world to live into, it is Baal-hamon where they are planted, though often their outward lot be not desirable, yet their 'lines have fallen in pleasant places.'
The second part concerns Christ's managing of his church when he hath gotten it; he doth not immediately dress it by himself, but 'he lets it out to keepers,' as a man having purchased a field, or planted a vineyard, doth set it, or farm it for such a rent; so hath Christ thought good to commit his church to keepers, that is, to watchmen and farmers, that by their ministry, he might in a mediate way promove their edification and salvation, which he accounts his rent: the very same parable, almost in the same words, pressing this scope, is recorded, Matt. 21:33, 'A certain householder planted a vineyard, and let it out to husbandmen, and sent servants to gather the fruit; the husbandmen are the ordinary office-bearers in the church (the scribes and pharisees did fill that room for the time) the servants are extraordinary prophets raised up of God, to put them to their duty; so here the keepers are the ministers, who are intrusted with the church's edification under Christ, as stewards are with distributing provision to the family, or shepherds with feeding their flocks, or a farmer with the labouring of his farm that he possesseth: and this name, of keepers given here to ministers, agreeth well with the names that ministers have in scripture, watchmen, overseers, stewards, builders, husbandmen, &c. and also with the nature of that office, which, 1 Cor. 3, is to plant and water this vineyard: and lastly, with the scope of this and the like parables, whereby Christ's mediate way of building up of his church, by the intervention of ordinances and ministers, is expressed. Particular professors are as vines, the ordinances like the press that presseth the grapes, the ministers like the dressers that dig, dung, prune, and water the trees, and put the grapes in the press, and gather the fruits, by applying of these ordinances convincingly to the consciences of hearers. Next, his setting of this vineyard, or church to the keepers, is borrowed from a proprietor, his farming of his heritage, and giving of a lease, or leasehold tenure under him, to some other, both for the better labouring of his land, and for furthering of his rent; and this is opposed to his immediate labouring of it himself: so here, as Christ is the proprietor (whose own the vineyard is) ministers are the farmers: which implieth, 1. That the minister hath a title and interest in the church of Christ, which no other hath, he is a farmer and keeper of it. 2. It supposeth, that it is but a subordinate title the minister hath; he is not as a lord of Christ's vineyard, or master of the faith of God's people, but as a farmer or subordinate overseer, he is to be a helper of their joy. In sum, the sense comes to this, that this trust that was put on Christ of governing his church, he thought meet not to discharge it all immediately, but hath appointed some others as instruments under him, to promote their edification, whom singularly, he hath entrusted for that end. Observe. 1. Since our Lord Jesus had a church militant, he hath thought good to guide it mediately, by a standing ministry and ordinances; and that is to set out his vineyard to keepers. 2. There ought none without Christ's tenure or lease, enter upon the ministry, and become keepers of his vineyard; for, they are but lease-holders, and what right they have, it is from him: thus that which is here called his setting a lease, is, Mal. 2:4,5, called the 'covenant of Levi.' 3. Although Christ employ ministers, yet he makes them not masters, but he reserves the propriety of his church to himself, and they are such as must give an account. 4. Though ministers be not masters, yet are they keepers, and have a special trust in the church; they are intrusted with the affairs of Christ's house, for carrying on of his peoples' edification; which is a trust that no others have committed to them.
The third thing in this verse, is the end for which he lets it out, or the terms upon which; and these are, 'that every one may bring a thousand pieces of silver for the fruit thereof:' and so the condition, upon which it is set out, is, that he might have a competent revenue and fruit, as is clear from Isa. 5 and Matt. 21 and the rent is agreed on by himself, and it is 'a thousand silverings,' which is mentioned, Isa. 7:23, as a great rent. The number is a definite for an indefinite, saying, in sum, that Christ's scope, in letting out his church, is thereby to make her fruitful, that by his servants' ministry he might have rent from her, as he saith, John 15:16. 'I have chosen and ordained you, to go and bring forth fruit.' &c. Which is especially to be understood in respect of their ministerial fruit (to say so) or the fruit of their ministry.
The sum required is alike to all, that every man may bring, &c, not implying, that all ministers will have alike fruit in effect, or de facto, but to shew, that all of them have one commission, and de jure, or of right, ought to aim at having much fruit to the landlord, and should by no means seek to feed themselves, but seek the master's profit. The words aim at these four things, 1. That Christ's great design in planting of a church, and sending of a ministry, is to have souls saved, that is the fruit which he aims at, for the travail of his soul: and so to have his people brought on towards heaven, by every step of knowledge, conversion, faith, repentance, holiness, till they be brought completely through. 2. It supposeth the people's duty, that they who are planted in the church, should be fruitful: this vineyard bears well, else the keepers could not pay so much. 3. The minister's duty is implied here also, and it is to crave in Christ's rent, that is his office, as a factor, or chamberlain to gather it in; so, Matt. 21:31, 'He sent his servants to gather in the fruits of the vineyard.' Ministers are to labour amongst the people, and either to bring fruit, or a report of ill success unto Christ. 4. Whatever fruits the minister have to render to Christ, he must return a reckoning; so the word, bring, imports a returning of an account to the owner that sent him. The last thing is the peremptoriness of this lease, in respect of the fruits or rent, which is held forth in two things, 1. It is determined it must be 'a thousand:' which saith, 1. It is not free to ministers to call for or to accept of what they will, or what men will, as enough for Christ's due; he must determine himself what he will have, and none other, and he hath determined it. 2. There can be no alteration of the terms which Christ hath set down and imposed, it is definite in itself what every one must bring. Again, 2. Its peremptoriness appears in this, that 'every one,' none excepted, are put at for this rent: this is the great article in all their leases, fruit, fruit. Observe. 1. Every minister of the gospel hath a weighty trust put on him, in reference to the church's edification. 2. Ministers' right discharging of their trust, may have much influence on a people's thriving, and Christ's getting of his rent from amongst them. 3. All Christ's ministers have every one of them the same commission, for the same end, and every one of them should endeavour fruits proportionable thereto. 4. The Lord hath every minister's fruit, as to the event, determined, as well as their duty is appointed them. 5. Though all ministers have not alike success, in respect of the number of souls brought in by their ministry; yet, where there is honesty and diligence, the Lord will account it a thousand, as well as where the fruit is more: therefore are they alike in his reckoning, though not in the event. O! but an unfruitful minister, and unfaithful also, who, besides what fruit a common Christian should render, ought to render a thousand for his ministry, will be much in Christ's debt, when he shall reckon with him! Let ministers consider well this double reckoning.
Having laid down the general doctrine, verse 11, she doth now in the twelfth verse make application thereof to herself: and this she doth. 1. By asserting of her own sincerity. 2. By proving it in two instances. Her assertion is, 'My vineyard, which is mine, is before me:' the Bride's vineyard is the particular trust which is committed to her, in reference to her soul's estate; called a vineyard, 1. Because every particular believer, intrusted with his own soul's concernment, is a part of, and of the same nature with the church of Christ, which is called a vineyard in scripture, 2. Because of the variety of graces bestowed on her, and the ordinances and privileges, whereof she is a partaker with the whole, as is said. It is called hers, because she must make a special account for her own soul, and the talent that is given to her, according to the trust that is put on her. We have almost the same phrase, chap. 1:6, where the Bride calls it, 'mine own vineyard:' this vineyard is said to he before her, which is like the expression, Psalm 18:22, 'all thy judgments were before me;' which the scope, by the words foregoing and following, shews to be, not a pleading of innocency, but of sincerity and watchfulness in keeping himself from his iniquity; and it is to be understood in opposition to departing wickedly from God, mentioned verse 21. And thus, to have her vineyard before her, signifieth watchfulness and tenderness, as those who have their eye always on their orchard, or vineyard; and it doth import, 1. Watchfulness, as has been said. 2. Diligence and carefulness; so it is opposed to the hiding of the talent, Luke 14. She did not so, but had the talent she was intrusted with, still before her, and among her hands, that she might trade with it. 3. It imports tenderness and conscientiousness, and so is opposed to mens' casting of God's law behind their backs, Psalm 50:16,17. This she did not, but the work God had appointed to her, and the trust which was committed to her, was always in her eye. 4. It implies sincerity and honesty in aiming at her duty, and that by a constant minding of it, as suffering it never to be out of her sight: all which, being put together, holds forth the sense of the words, Christ hath given every one in his church a trust (which is, as it were, the vineyard that every believer ought to have before him) and that (saith she) which was committed to me, I have been singly and conscientiously careful to do my duty in reference thereunto, so as I have a testimony in my conscience of it. And thus her case is far different from what it was, chap. 1:6, where she acknowledgeth that her own vineyard she had not kept. Observe. 1. It is no matter how well one be acquainted with the general truths of the gospel, if there be not a conformity of practice; whatever knowledge christians have, it will never further their peace, except their practice be suitable. 2. Every member of the church, and every believer, hath a particular trust committed to him; and he must be accountable for his carriage in reference thereto. 3. The right discharging of this trust calls for watchfulness and diligence, and it will require daily oversight and attendance, that so the believer's vineyard may be always before him. 4. They who assiduously wait upon the work committed to them, may through grace make good progress in it, and attain to a good testimony from their own consciences thereanent. 5. It is exceeding comfortable to believers, when they have a testimony within them, that they have been dili gent and careful in the duty committed to them. 6. Believers should reflect on their carriage in the trust committed to them, that they may be able to make some distinct report concerning the same. 7. They who are most tender in their duty, are also most diligent to search how it is with them, that they may know the condition of their vineyard, whether it thrive or not.
If it be moved here, how she could assert so much of her condition, seeing, chap. 1:6, she acknowledgeth the contrary, that her own vineyard, or, the vineyard which was hers, she had not kept; and it is evident, chap. 5:3, that she was under a great measure of security, in which case she fell into many escapes? I answer, both maybe true, in diverse considerations, 1. As David in one place acknowledged sin, yet, Psalm 18:21, 22, &c. pleadeth sincerity; so doth she here. Observe. 1. There may be a just ground of a plea for sincerity, where there is much guilt to be acknowledged: these are not inconsistant, otherwise she could not assert her sincerity so confidently here. 2. Believers' plea for peace in the discharge of their duty, and the testimony of their conscience thereanent, is not founded on perfection of degrees, but on sincerity. 2. Answer. Chap. 1:6, contains the Bride's case at one time; this speaks of her case afterward, when by repentance she was recovered and restored to his friendship. Observe. 1. There may be a great difference in the way of one and the same believer, in respect of different times: at one time (possibly in youth) most unwatchful, at other times tender and serious. 2. Those that sometimes have been under many challenges for unwatchfulness, may through God's blessing afterward obtain a good outgate, both from their sins and challenges. 3. Bygone failings, will not, nor should not, mar a present favourable testimony from the conscience, when God hath given to one the exercise of faith, repentance and true tenderness. 3. Answer. Since these failings, Christ hath spoken peace to her, and therefore now she remembers them not, for marring of her peace, though otherwise she hath regretted them for her humbling. Observe. When Christ speaks peace, believers should not obstruct it, by continuing the resentment of former provocations and quarrels to the prejudice thereof, though they should still mind them for furthering of their own humiliation.
She comes, in the next place, to make out this assertion which is done, 1. By the matter of her words, while she instanceth the fruits, that belonged both to the owner and to the keepers. 2. By the manner of her words, while she turneth her speech over to Christ himself; 'Thou, O Solomon, shalt have a thousand;' (for so it will read as well as, must have, &c. seeing either of the words, shall, or must, may be supplied) and this shews both what he should have, and with what cheerfulness she bestowed it on him. And, 1. She instanceth the fruits that Christ should have, and these are 'a thousand:' by the thousand that Christ is to get, is understood that which was appointed and conditioned in his lease of the vineyard, and is mentioned, verse 11. It is, in a word, thou shalt have what thou hast appointed, the terms shall not be altered by me. Hence it appears, that the 'thousand' which the minister was to bring in as the revenue of the vineyard, is the engaging of souls to Christ, and the making of them fruitful; for, then gets Christ his rent from his people, when this is effectuated by the ordinances. Observe. 1. That fruits are the best evidence of sincerity. 2. That there can be nothing offered to Christ as fruit, or which can be an evidence or proof of sincerity, but that same, for the matter and manner, which is prescribed by him in his covenant; our fruits must be suitable to what is called for, and accepted bv him, or they will be no ground of peace. 3. True sincerity will never alter the terms that Christ hath set down in his covenant, nor lessen his rent, which he hath prescribed as his due, but will think that most suitable which he hash prescribed, and will think it a mercy to have that to render to him.
The second instance, proving her fruitfulness, holdeth forth what the keepers should receive; the keepers shall have 'two hundred:' two hundred is a definite number for an indefinite. The scope is to shew, that she acknowledged Christ's care, in providing watchmen and ordinances to her, and as they were not useless to her, but were blessed for her good so he should have honour, and their pains taken on her, by her fruitfulness, should redound to their commendation and glory, yet (as it becomes) in a lesser degree than to the Master, and without wronging of the rent due to him; this 'two hundred,' (saith she) ought not, and shall not diminish his thousand. Now, this may relate either to the reward that faithful ministers shall have from Christ, spoken of, Dan. 12:3. O what joy and glory will result to them, from the people's fruitfulness (amongst whom they have laboured) in the day of the Lord 'that they have not run in vain, but with much success, will bring them much joy in that day; so, 1 Thess. 2:19,20, 'What is our hope' (saith the apostle) 'or crown of rejoicing, are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, at his coming? For ye are our glory and our joy.' It is a piece of their life and satisfaction, to see the work of the gospel thrive amongst the people: 'We live' (saith Paul, 1 Thess. 3:8) 'if ye stand fast in the Lord.' Or, 2. It may look to that which is called for from a people to their ministers, even here, they are to acknowledge them that are over them for their work's sake, to obey and submit to them, yea, to give themselves to them by the will of God, having given themselves first to Christ, 2 Cor. 8:5, and this being a testimony of believers' sincerity, it looks like the scope; and so the sense is, thou shalt have (saith she) that which is called for, as thy due, and the keepers shall have what respect and encouragement is due to them, for thy sake.
This 'two hundred' belonging to the keepers, is added here, and was not mentioned in the former verse: because there the terms that were required of the keepers themselves were set down, here the duty of every particular believer is expressed, which is to give Christ his due, and in doing that, to give to his ordinances and ministers as commissionate from him what is their due; and this is to be given them, not as men, nor as believers, but as keepers; which though immediately it be given to them, as to the ambassadors of Christ, yet that obedience, submission, &c. being to his ordinance, and given them only for their work's sake, 1 Thess. 5:3, it is rent also due to him, and called for by him.
If it be asked, why her giving of 'two hundred' to the keepers, is subjoined to the giving of him 'a thousand?' The answers to this are so many observations from the words; and the first is, that those who are trusted by Christ to be keepers of the vineyard, and his ministers, ought also to be respected by the people over whom they are set; and Christ allows this on them. 2. Where Christ is respected and gets his due, there the keepers will be respected and get their due: if Christ be made welcome, the feet of them that bring good tidings will be beautiful, Isa. 52:7. 3. It is a good sign of honesty and sincerity before Christ, when ministers and ordinances are respected in their own place, with subordination to the respect that is due Christ; therefore it is mentioned here. 4. It is no burden to an honest believer to acknowledge Christ's ministers, to obey their doctrine, and submit to their censures; for sincere believers both willingly do this, and engage to do it, as the Bride doth here. 5. The respect that is given to ministers, should be given to them as to his ministers, without derogating from, or encroaching upon, that which is the Master's due; therefore, his thousand is reserved whole for him, and this two hundred is no part thereof. 6. Where Christ gets his due among a people, and where his ordinances be received, there, and there only do ministers get their due; for, it is (as Paul saith) not yours but you, that we seek: and less will not be accepted by faithful ministers: they will never think they get their due, if the gospel be not taken well off their hand.
The last thing in the verse, is the way she takes to prove her uprightness, by attesting Christ to bear witness to the sincerity of her fruits; and this is held forth in the change of the person, from the third to the second, 'Thou, O Solomon' (saith she) 'shalt have a thousand:' which, in short, is done for evidencing of her sincerity, that it was such as might abide his trial; and so she doth pass sentence upon herself, as in his sight, who knew what was truth: and this doth not proceed from boasting, but from humble confidence, being desirous that he would accept of it, and approve her in it. Observe. 1. Sincerity gives one boldness in approaching to Christ. 2. It is a good evidence of sincerity, when believers are not very anxious, and careful what is the judgment of men concerning them, if they may have Christ's approbation; and therefore they consider their case and practice as speaking to Christ, and before him. 3. It is delectable, in the most spiritual passages of our inward walk, to turn them over into addresses to Christ, and to speak them over betwixt him and us. 4. It is best gathering conclusions concerning our condition, and best learning how to esteem of it, when we are set as in Christ's presence, and are speaking to him: every thing will then be best discerned, and the soul will be in the best posture for discerning itself.
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