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gregations of them that both command and practise the worship of false gods.
CHRIST TO THE CHURCH.
I. 8 If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents.
If thou know not, O thou my Church, whom I both esteem and have made most beautiful by my merits and thy sanctification, stray not amongst these false worshippers, but follow the holy steps of those blessed Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, which have been my true and ancient flock, who have both known my voice and followed me; and feed thou my weak and tender ones with this their spiritual food of life, far above the carnal reach of those other false teachers.
I. 9 I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots.
Such is mine estimation of thee, O my Love, that so far as the choicest Egyptian horses of Pharaoh, for comely shape, for honourable service, for strength and speed, exceed all other, so far thou excellest all that may be compared with thee.
I. 10 Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.
Those parts of thee, which both are the seats of beauty and most conspicuous to the eye, are gloriously adorned with the graces of my sanctification; which are, for their worth, as so many precious borders of the goodliest stones, or chains of pearls.
I. 11 We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver. And though thou be already thus set forth, yet I and my Father have purposed a further ornament unto thee, in the more plentiful effusion of our Spirit upon thee; which shall be to thy former deckings, instead of pure gold curiously wrought with specks of silver.
I. 12 While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.
Behold, O ye daughters, even now, while my Lord and King seems far distant from me, and sits in the throne of heaven among the companies of angels who attend around upon him, yet now do I find him present with me in spirit: even now the sweet influence of his graces, like to some precious ointment, spreads itself over my soul, and returns a pleasant savour into his own nostrils.
I. 13 A bundle of myrrh is my wellbeloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.
And though I be thus delightful to my Saviour, yet nothing so much as he is unto me: for lo, as some fragrant pomander of myrrh, laid between the breasts, sends up a most comfortable
scent; so his love, laid close unto my heart, doth still give me continual and unspeakable refreshings.
1. 14 My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of En-gedi.
Or if any thing can be of more excellent virtue, such smell as the clusters of camphire or cypress berries, within the fruitfullest, pleasantest, and richest vineyards and gardens of Judea, yield unto the passengers; such and more delectable, do I find the savour of his grace to me.
I. 15 Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes.
Neither dost thou on my part lose any of thy love, O my dear Church; for behold, in mine eyes, thus clothed as thou art with my righteousness, oh how fair and glorious thou art! how above all comparison glorious and fair! Thine eyes, which are thy seers, (Prophets, Apostles, Ministers) and those inward eyes, whereby thou seest him that is invisible, are full of grace, chastity, simplicity.
I. 16 Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green.
Nay then, O my sweet Saviour and Spouse, thou alone art that fair and pleasant one indeed, from whose fulness I confess to have received all this little measure of my spiritual beauty; and behold, from this our mutual delight and heavenly conjunction, there ariseth a plentiful and flourishing increase of thy faithful ones, in all places, and through all times.
I. 17 The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir. And behold, the congregations of saints, the places where we do sweetly converse and walk together, are both firm and during, like cedars amongst the trees, not subject, through thy protecting grace, to utter corruption; and, through thy favourable acceptation and word, like to galleries of sweet wood, full of pleasure and contentment.
II. 1 I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the vallies. Thou hast not without just cause magnified me, O my Church; for, as the fairest and sweetest of all flowers which the earth yieldeth, the rose and lily of the vallies, excel for beauty, for plea sure, for use, the most base and odious weeds that grow; so doth my grace, to all them that have felt the sweetness thereof, surpass all worldly contentments.
II. 2 As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.
Neither is this my dignity alone; but thou, O my Spouse, that thou mayest be a fit match for me, art thus excellent above the world, that no lily can be more in goodly shew beyond the naked
thorn, than thou in thy glory thou receivest from me overlookest all the assemblies of aliens and unregenerates.
II. 3 As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
And, to return to thy own praises, as some fruitful and well-grown apple tree, in comparison of all the barren trees of the wild forest, so art thou, O my beloved Saviour, to me, in comparison of all men; and under thy comfortable shadow alone, have I ever wont to find safe shelter against all mine afflictions, all my temptations and infirmities, against all the curses of the law, and dangers of judgment, and to cool myself after all the scorching beams of thy Father's displeasure, and besides, to feed and satisfy my soul with the sovereign fruit of thy holy word unto eternal life. II. 4 He brought me to the banquetting house, and his banner over me was love.
He hath graciously led me by his Spirit, into the midst of the mysteries of godliness; and hath plentifully broached unto me the sweet wines of his Scriptures and Sacraments. And look how soldiers are drawn by their colours from place to place, and cleave fast to their ensign; so his love, which he spread forth in my heart, was my only banner, whereby I was both drawn to him, directed by him, and fastened upon him.
II. 5 Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love.
And now, O ye faithful Evangelists, Apostles, Teachers, apply unto me, with all care and diligence, all the cordial promises of the Gospel: these are the full flagons of that spiritual wine, which only can cheer up my soul; these are the apples of that tree of life, in the midst of the garden, which can feed me to im mortality. Oh come and apply these unto my heart; for I am even overcome with a longing expectation and desire of my delayed glory.
II. 6 His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me.
And while I am thus spiritually languishing in this agony of desire, let my Saviour employ both bis hands to relieve mine infirmity let him comfort my head and my heart, my judgment and affections, which both complain of weakness, with the lively heat of his gracious embracements; and so let us sweetly rest together.
II. 1 I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the rocs, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.
In the mean time, I charge you, O all ye that profess any friendship or affinity with me, I charge you, by whatsoever is comely, dear, and pleasant unto you, as you will avoid my uttermost cen
sures, take heed how you vex and disquiet my merciful Saviour, and grieve his Spirit, and wrong his Name, with your vain and lewd conversation; and do not dare, by the least provocation of your sin, to interrupt his peace.
II. 8 The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.
Lo, I have no sooner called, but he hears and answers me with his loving voice: neither doth he only speak to me afar, but he comes to me with much willingness and celerity; so willingly, that no human resistance can hinder him: neither the hillocks of my lesser infirmities, nor the nountains of my grosser sins once repented of, can stay his merciful pace towards me;
II. 9 My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice.
So swiftly, that no roe or hind can fully resemble him in this his speed and nimbleness and lo, even now, before I can speak it, is he come near unto me, close to the door and wall of my heart. And though this wall of my flesh hinder my full fruition of him, yet lo, I see him by the eye of faith, looking upon me; I see him as in a glass; I see him shining gloriously, through the gates and windows of his word and sacraments, upon my soul.
II. 10 My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
And now, methinks, I hear him speak to me in a gracious invitation, and say, Arise, O my Church, rise up, whether from thy security or fear hide not thy head any longer, O my beautiful Spouse, for danger of thine enemies; neither suffer thyself to be pressed with the dulness of thy nature, or the careless sleep of thy sins; but come forth into the comfortable light of my presence, and shew thyself cheerful in me.
II. 11 For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. For behold, all the cloudy winter of thy afflictions is passed: all the tempests of temptations are blown over the heaven is clear; and now there is nothing, that may not give thee cause of delight.
II. 12 The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; Every thing now resembles the face of a spiritual spring: all the sweet flowers and blossoms of holy profession put forth, and shew themselves in their opportunities: now is the time of that heavenly melody, which the cheerful saints and angels make in mine ears, while they sing songs of deliverance, and praise me with their Hallelujahs, and say, Glory to God on high, in earth peace, good will towards men.
II. 13 The figtree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
What speak I of blossoms? behold, those fruitful vines and figtrees of my faithful ones, whom my husbandry hath carefully tended and dressed, yield forth both pleasant, though tender,
fruits of obedience, and the wholesome and comfortable savours of better desires; wherefore now, O my dear Christ, shake off all that dull security, wherewith thou hast been held, and come forth and enjoy me.
II. 14 O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.
O my beautiful, pure, and chaste Spouse, which, like unto some solitary dove, hast long hid thy head in the secret and inaccessible clefts of the rocks, out of the reach and knowledge of thy persecutors; however thou art concealed from others, shew thyself in thy works and righteousness unto me, and let me be ever plied with thy words of imploration and thanksgiving: for thy voice, though it be in mourning, and thy face, though it be sad and blubbered, are exceedingly pleasing unto me.
II. 15 Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.
And in the mean time, O all ye that wish well to my Name and Church, do your utmost endeavour to deliver her from her secret enemies; not sparing the least, who, either by heretical doctrine. or profane conversation, hinder the course of the Gospel, and pervert the faith of many, especially of those that have newly given up their names to me, and are but newly entered into the profession of godliness.
II. 16 My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies.
My beloved Saviour is mine, through my faith; and I am his, through his love: and we both are one, by virtue of that blessed union on both parts, whereby we mutually enjoy each other with all-sufficient contentment. And how worthily is my love placed upon him, who leadeth me forth into pleasant pastures, and at whose right hand there is the fulness of joy for evermore!
II. 17 Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.
Come therefore, O my Saviour, and until the day of thy glorious appearance shall shine forth to the world, wherein our spiritual marriage shall be consummate, and until all these shadows of ignorance, of infidelity, of troubles of conscience, and of outward tribulations be utterly dispersed and chased away, come and turn thee to me again: thou, which, to the carnal eyes of the world seemest absent, come quickly, and delay not; but, for the speed of thy return, be like unto some swift roe or hind, upon those smooth hills of Gilead, which Jordan severs from the other part of Jewry.
III. 1 By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.
My security told me, that my Saviour was near unto my soul, yea with it, and in it; but when, by serious and silent meditation, I