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his sweetnesses; or most pleasant to him. Moreover, as Christ sups with his saints, so he hath promised they shall sup with him, to complete that fellowship they have with him. Christ provides for their entertainment in a most eminent manner. There are beasts killed, and wine is mingled, and a table furnished Prov. ix. 2. ; He calls the spiritual dainties that he hath for them a feast, a wedding, “ A feast of fat things, wine upon the lees,' &c. The fatted calf is killed for their entertainment. Such is the communion, and such is the mutual entertainment of Christ and his saints in that communion.
Cant. ii. 1—7. 'I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among the thorns, so is my love among the daughters : as the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons: in his shadow I delighted and sat down, and his fruit was sweet to my taste,' &c.
In the two first verses, you have the description that Christ gives, first of himself, then of his church. Of himself, ver. 1. that is, what he is to his spouse: 'I am the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys.' The Lordd Christ is in the Scripture compared to all things of eminency in the whole creation. He is in the heavens the sun, and the bright morning star: as the lion among the beasts, the lion of the tribe of Judah. Among the flowers of the field here, he is the rose and the lily. The two eminencies of flowers, sweetness of savour, and beauty of colour, are divided between these. The rose for sweetness, and the lily for beauty (Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these), have the pre-eminence. Farther, he is 'the rose of Sharon,'a fruitful plain, where the choicest herds were fed; 1 Chron. xxvii. 29. so eminent that it is promised to the church, that there shall be given unto her the excellency of Sharon; Isa. xxxv. 2. This fruitful place doubtless brought forth the most precious roses. Christ is the savour of his love, and in his righteousness (which is as the garment wherein Jacob received his blessing, giving forth a smell as the smell of a pleasant field;' Gen. xxvii. 27.), is as this excellent rose, to draw and allure the hearts of his saints
c Isa. xxy. 6. Matt. xxii. 8. Rev, xix. 7. d Mal. iv. 2. Rev. xii. 1. Luke i. 78. áraton Eloug. Nume xxiv. 17. 2 Pet. i. 19. Rev. xxii. 16. Gen. xlix. 9. Mich. v. 8. Rev. v. 5.
e Isa. xxxiii. 9. lxv. 10.
unto him. As God smelled a sweet savour from the blood of his atonement, Eph. v. 2. so from the graces wherewith for them he is anointed, his saints receive a refreshing, cherishing savour; Cant. i. 2. A sweet savour expresses that which is acceptable and delightful; Gen. viii. 21. He is also the lily of the valleys, that of all flowers is the most eminent in beauty; Matt. vi. 29. most desirable is he for the comeliness and perfection of his person; incomparably fairer than the children of men, of which afterward. He then being thus unto them, abundantly satiating all their spiritual senses, their refreshment, their ornament, their delight, their glory; in the next verse he tells us what they are to him : “As the lily among the thorns, so is my beloved among the daughters.’ That Christ and his church are likened unto, and termed the same thing (as here the lily), is, as from their union by the indwelling of the same Spirit, so from that ‘conformity and likeness that is between them, and whereunto the saints are appointed. Now she is a lily, very beautiful unto Christ: as the lily among the thorns, 1. By the way of eminency: as the lily excelleth the thorns, so do the saints all others whatever in the eye of Christ. Let comparison be made, so will it be found to be. And, 2. By the way of trial: the residue of the world, being ‘pricking briars and grieving thorns to the house of Israel; Ezek. xxviii. 24. ‘The best of them is a briar, and the most upright of them sharper than a thorn hedge;’ Mich. vii. 4. And thus are they among the daughters; even the most eminent collections of the most improved professors, that are no more but so. There cannot be in any greater comparison, a greater exaltation of the excellency of any thing. So then is Christ to them indeed, ver. 1. So are they in his esteem and indeed, ver. 2. How he is in their esteem and indeed, we have ver. 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.” To carry on this intercourse, the spouse begins to speak her thoughts of, and to shew her delight in, the Lord Christ; and, as he compares her to the lily among the thorns, so she him to the apple-tree among the trees of the wood. And she adds this
f Rom. viii. 29.
reason of it, even because he hath the two eminent things of trees, which the residue of them have not. 1. Fruit for food. 2. Shade for refreshment. Of the one she eateth, under the other she resteth, both with great delight. All other sons, either angels, the sons of God by creation, Job i. 6. xxxviii. 7. or the sons of Adam, the best of his offspring, the leaders of those companies, which ver. 2. are called daughters; or sons of the old creation, the top branches of all its desirable-things, are to an hungry, weary soul (such alone seek for shade and fruit), but as the fruitless, leafless trees of the forest, which will yield them neither food nor refreshment. In Christ, saith she, there is fruit, fruit sweet to the taste. ‘Yea, his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed;’ John vi. 55. Moreover, he hath' brought forth that everlasting righteousness, which will abundantly satisfy any hungry soul after it hath gone to many a barren tree for food, and hath found none. Besides, he aboundeth in precious and pleasant graces, whereof I may seat, yea, he calls me to do so, and that abundantly. These are the fruits that Christ beareth. They speak of a tree that bringeth forth all things needful for life in food and raiment. Christ is that tree of life, which hath brought forth all things that are needful unto life eternal: in him is that righteousness which we "hunger after; in him is that water of life, which whoso drinketh of, shall thirst no more. Oh how sweet are the fruits of Christ's mediation to the faith of his saints. He that can find no relief in mercy, pardon, grace, acceptation with God, holiness, sanctification, &c. is an utter stranger to these things (“wine in the lees), that are prepared for believers. Also, he hath shades for refreshment and shelter. Shelter from wrath without, and refreshment because of weariness from within. The first use of the 'shade, is to keep us from the heat of the sun, as did Jonah's gourd. When the heat of wrath is ready to scorch the soul, Christ interposing bears it all; under the shadow of his wings we sit down constantly, quietly, safely putting our trust in him : and all this with great delight. Yea, who can express the joy of a soul safe sha
g Cant. v. 1. h Matt. v. 6. i John vii. 38.
dowed from wrath, under the covert of the righteousness of the Lord Jesus? There is also refreshment in a shade from weariness : “he is as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land ;' Isa. xxxii. 2. From the power of corruptions, trouble of temptations, distress of persecutions, there is in him quiet, rest, and repose; Matt. xi. 27, 28.
Having thus mutually described each other, and so made it manifest, that they cannot but be delighted in fellowship and communion; in the next verses that communion of theirs is at large set forth and described. I shall briefly observe four things therein.
(1.) Sweetness. 'He brought me to the banqueting house;' or house of wine.' It is all set forth under expressions of the greatest sweetness, and most delicious refreshment: flagons, apples, wine, &c. he entertains me, saith the spouse, as some great personage. Great personages, at great entertainments are had into the banqueting house, the house of wine, and dainties. These are the preparations of grace and mercy, love, kindness, supplies revealed in the gospel, declared in the assemblies of the saints, exhibited by the Spirit. This love is better than wine ; Cant. i. 1. it is ‘not in meats and drinks, but righteousness, andm peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.' Gospel dainties are sweet refreshments; whether these houses of wine be the Scriptures, the gospel, or the ordinances dispensed in the assemblies of the saints, or any eminent and signal manifestations of special love (as banqueting is not every day's work, nor used at ordinary entertainments), it is all one. Wine that cheereth the heart of man, that makes him forget his misery; Prov. xxxi. 6, 7. that gives him a cheerful look and countenance; Gen. xlix. 12. is thạt which is promised. The grace exhibited by Christ in his ordinances, is refreshing, strengthening, comforting, and full of sweetness to the souls of the saints. Woe be to such full souls, as loathe these honeycombs. But thus Christ makes all his assemblies, to be banqueting houses, and there he gives his saints entertainment.
m Rom. xiv. 17. John vii. 37. Prov. xxvii. 7.
(2.) Delight. The spouse is quite ravished with the sweetness of this entertainment, finding love, and care, and kindness, bestowed by Christ in the assemblies of the saints: hence she cries out, ver. 5. Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples, for I am sick of love. Upon the discovery of the excellency and sweetness of Christ in the banqueting house, the soul is instantly overpowered, and cries out to be made partaker of the fulness of it. She is sick of love : not (as some suppose) fainting for want of a sense of love, under the apprehension of wrath, but made sick, and faint, even overcome with the mighty actings of that divine affection, after she had once tasted of the sweetness of Christ in the banqueting house. Her desire deferred, makes her heart sick : therefore she cries, 'stay me,' &c. I have seen a glimpse of the 'king in his beauty;' tasted of the fruit of his righteousness; my soul melteth in longing after him. Oh support and sustain my spirit, with his presence in his ordinances, those 'flagons and apples of his banqueting house,' or I shall quite sink and faint. Oh what hast thou done blessed Jesus? I have seen thee and my soul is become as the chariots of Ammi-nadib ; let' me have something from thee to support me, or I die. When a person is fainting on any occasion, these two things are to be done, strength is to be used to support him, that he sink not to the ground; and comfortable things are to be applied to refresh his spirits. These two, the soul overpowered, and fainting with the force of its own love, raised by a sense of Christ's, prayeth for: it would have strengthening grace to support it in that condition, that it may be able to attend its duty; and consolations of the Holy Ghost, to content, revive, and satiate it, until it come to a full enjoyment of Christ. And thus sweetly and with delight is this communion carried on. :
(3.) Safety. "His banner over me was love;' ver. 4. The banner is an emblem of safety and protection, a sign of the presence of an host. Persons belonging to an army, do encamp under their banner in security ; so did the children of Israel in the wilderness, every tribe kept their camps under their own standard. It is also a token of success and victory; Psal. xx. 6. Christ hath a banner for his saints; and that is love. All their protection is from his love; and they shall have all the protection his love can give them. This