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Behold, according to thy desire, I am come into my garden, my sister, my Spouse: I have received those fruits of thine obedience, which thou offeredst unto me, with much joy and pleasure. I have accepted, not only of thy good works, but thy endeavours and purposes of holiness, both which are as pleasant to me, as the honey and the honeycomb. I have allowed of the cheerfulness of thy service, and the wholesomeness of thy doctrine, And ye, O my friends, whether blessed angels or faithful men, partake with me in this joy arising from the faithfulness of my Church cheer up and fill yourselves, O my beloved, with the same spiritual dainties wherewith I am refreshed.

THE CHURCH,

V, 2 I sleep, but my heart waketh it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night,

When the world had cast me into a secure sleep, or slumber rather, for my heart was not utterly bereaved of a true faith in my Saviour, even in this darkness of my mind, it pleased my gracious Redeemer not to neglect me: he came to me, and knocked oft, and called importunately at the door of my heart, by his word and chastisements, and said, Open the door of thy soul, O my sister, my dear, chaste, comely, unspotted Church; let me come in, and lodge and dwell with thec, in my graces; shut out the world, and receive me with a more lively act and renovation of thy faith; for lo, I have long waited patiently for this effect of thy love, and have endured all the injuries both of the night and weather of thy provocations, that I might at last enjoy thee.

V. 3 I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?

I answered him again, pleading excuses for my delay; Alas, Lord, I have now, since I left my forward profession of thee, avoided a great number of cares and sorrows; must I take them up again to follow thee? I have lived clean from the soil of these evils, and shall I now thrust myself into danger of them?

V. 4 My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.

When my Saviour heard this unkind answer of delay, he let his hand fall from the keyhole, which he had thus before without success laboured about; and withdrew himself from soliciting me any more: whereupon my heart and bowels yearned within me for him, and for the remorse of my so long fore-slowing his admit

tance unto me.

V. 5 I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.

And now I roused up my drowsy heart, what I could, that I might,' in some cheerful manner, desire to receive so gracious a Saviour which when I but endeavoured, I found that he had left behind

him such a plentiful blessing, as the monument of his late presence, upon the first motions of my heart, as that with the very touch of them I was both exceedingly refreshed, and moved to further indignation at myself for delaying him.

V. 6 I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. I opened to my beloved Saviour, but my Saviour had now, in my feeling, withdrawn himself, and hid his countenance from me, holding me short of those gracious offers and means which I had refused; and now I was almost past myself with despair, to remeinber that sweet invitation of his, which I neglected: I sought him therefore in my thoughts, in the outward use of his ordinances and of my earnest prayers; but he would not as yet be found of me, or let me find that I was heard of him.

V. 7 The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.

Those, which should have regarded me, and by their vigilancy have secured me from danger, proved mine adversaries: instead of comforting me, they fell upon me, and wounded me with their false doctrines, drawing me on into further errors, spoiling me of that purity and sincerity of profession, wherewith, as with some rich and modest veil, I was formerly adorned and covered.

V. 8 I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love.

I advise you solemnly, O all ye that wish well to me, for I care not who knows the vehemency of my passion, if you should find my Saviour's presence in yourselves before me, pray for the recovery of his love to me; and, bemoaning my estate to him, tell him how I languish with the impatient desire of his love and pre

sence to be restored unto me.

V. 9 What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us?

O thou, which art the most happy, most gracions, and most glorious of all creatures, the chosen of the Living God; what is thy well-beloved, whom thou seekest, above all other the sons of men? What such eminency is there in him above all saints and angels, that thou art both so far gone in affection to him, and dost so vehemently adjure us to speak unto him for thee?

V. 10 My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten

thousand.

My well-beloved, if you know not, is of perfect beauty; in whose face is an exact mixture of the colours of the purest and healthfullest complexion of holiness: for he hath not received the Spirit by measure; and in him the Godhead dwells bodily: he is infinitely fairer than all the sons of men; and, for goodliness of person, may bear the standard of comeliness and grace amongst ten thousand.

V. 11 His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and` black as a raven.

The Deity, which dwelleth in him, is most pure and glorious; and that fulness of grace, which is communicated to his human nature, is wondrously beautiful, and so'sets it forth, as the black curled locks do a fresh and well favoured countenance.

V. 12 His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of water, washed with milk, and fitly set.

His judgment of all things, and his respect to his Church, which are as his eyes, are full of love, and full of piety; shining like unto doves washed in water, yea, in milk, so as there is no spot or blemish to be found in them: and they are withal so fully placed, as is most comely and most expedient for the perfect sight of the estate and necessities of his servants.

V, 13 His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.

The manifestation of himself to us in his word, is sweet to our spiritual feeling; as a heap of spice, or those flowers that are used to make the best perfuming ointments, are to the other senses : his heavenly instructions and promises of his Gospel are unspeakably comfortable, and plenteous, in the grace that is wrought by them.

V. 14 His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.

His actions and his instruments, which are his hands, are set forth with much port and majesty, as some precious stone beautifies the ring wherein it is set: the secret counsels of his breast, and the mysteries of his will, are most pure and holy, and full of excellent glory.

V. 15 His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.

All his proceedings are firm and stable; and withal, as pillars of marble set in sockets of tried gold; so as they are neither subject to wavering, nor to any danger of infirmity and corruption: the shew and carriage of his whole person, whereby he makes himself known to his chosen, is exceeding goodly and upright, like to the straight and lofty cedars of Lebanon.

V. 16 His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem. His mouth, out of which proceed innumerable blessings and comfortable promises, is to my soul even sweetness itself; yea, what speak I of any one part? as you have heard in these particulars, he is all sweets: there is nothing but comfort in him, and there is no comfort but in him: and this, if ye would know, is my wellbeloved; of so incomparable glory and worthiness, that ye may easily discern him from all others.

FOREIGN CONGREGATIONS.

VI. 1 Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee.

Since thy well-beloved is so glorious and amiable, O thou which art for thy beauty worthy to be the spouse of such a husband, tell us, for thou only knowest it, and to seek Christ without the Church we know is vain, tell us where this Saviour of thine is to be sought; that we, ravished also with the report of his beauty, may join with thee in the same holy study of seeking after him.

VI. 2 My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies,

My well-beloved Saviour, if you would know this also, is to be sought and found in the particular assemblies of his people, which are his Garden of Pleasure; wherein are varieties of all the beds of renewed souls, which both he hath planted and dressed by his continual care, and wherein he walketh for his delight; feeding and solacing himself with those fruits of righteousness and new obedience, which they are able to bring forth unto him.

VI. 3 I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.

And now, lo, whatsoever hath happened cross to me in my sensible fruition of him, in spite of all temptations my beloved Saviour is mine through faith, and I am his through his love, and both of us are by an inseparable union knit together; whose conjunction and love is most sweet and happy, for all that are his he feedeth continually with heavenly repast.

CHRIST.

VI. 4 Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners.

Notwithstanding this thy late blemish of neglecting me, O my Church, yet still in mine eyes, through my grace, upon this thy repentance, thou art beautiful, like unto that neat and elegant city Tirzah, and that orderly building of Jerusalem, the glory of the world; and with this thy loveliness, thou art awful unto thine adversaries, through the power of thy censures, and the majesty of him that dwelleth in thee.

VI. 5 Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me: thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Gilead. Yea, such beauty is in thee, that I am overcome with the vehemency of my affection to thee: turn away thine eyes a while from beholding me; for the strength of that faith, whereby they are fixed upon me, ravisheth me from myself with joy : I do therefore again renew thy former praise; that thy gracious profession, and all thy appendances and ornaments of expedient ceremonies, are so comely to behold, as it is to see a flock of well fed goats grazing upon the fruitful hills of Gilead.

VI. 6 Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep which go up from washing, whereof every one beareth twins, and there is not one barren among them.

Thy teachers, that chew and prepare the heavenly food of thy soul, are of sweet accordance one with another, having all one heart and one tongue; and both themselves are sanctified and

purged from their uncleanness, and are fruitful in their holy labours unto others; so that their doctrine is never in vain, but is still answered with plentiful increase of souls to the Church.

VI. 7 As a piece of a pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks. That part of thy countenance, which thou wilt have seen, though dimly and sparingly, is full of holy modesty and bashfulness; so blushing, that it seemeth like the colour of a broken piece of pomegranate.

VI. 8 There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number.

Let there be never so great a number of people and nations, of churches and assemblies, which challenge my Name and Love; and perhaps, by their outward prosperity, may seem to plead much interest in me, and much worth in themselves:

VI. 9 My dove, my undefiled is but one: she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.

Yet thou only art alone my true and chaste Spouse, pure and undefiled in the truth of thy doctrine, and the imputation of my holiness: thou art she, whom that Jerusalem which is above, the mother of us all, acknowledgeth for her only true and dear daugh ter. And this is not my commendation alone, but all those foreign assemblies, which might seem to be rivals with thee of this praise, do applaud and bless thee in this thire estate, and say; Blessed is this people, whose God is the Lord:

VI. 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? And, admiring thy goodness, shall say; Who is this, that looks so freshly as the morning new risen; which, from these weak be-. ginnings, is grown to such high perfection, that now she is as bright and glorious, as the sun in his full strength, and the moon in a clear sky; and withal is so dreadful, through the majesty of her countenance and power of her censures, as some terrible army with ensigns displayed is to a weak adversary?

VI. 11 I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded.

Thou complainedst of my absence, O my Church: there was no cause; I meant not to forsake thee; I did but only walk down into the well dressed orchard of thine assemblies, to recreate and joy myself with the view of their forwardness, to see the happy progress of the humble in spirit, and the gracious beginnings of those tender souls which are newly converted unto me.

VI. 12 Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Ammi-nadib.

So earnestly did I long to revisit thee, and to restore comfort unto thee, that I hasted I know not which way; and with insensible speed I am come back, as it were upon the swiftest chariots, or the wings of the wind.

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