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Chapter 2 Verse 16
My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies.
having given such evidences of his love, and instances of his care and kindness to the church in the preceding verses; she, in this, declares her faith in him, and signifies the obligations which she lay under to observe his commands. “My beloved is mine;” he hath given himself to me, his heart is set upon me, and is always careful of me, and concerned for me; of which he has given the fullest proofs I could wish for: “and I am his;” I give up myself to him, and am at his dispose, and think myself obliged to observe whatever he enjoins me; and to follow him whethersoever he calls me; especially seeing it is for my good; it makes both for my pleasure and profit, as well as for his glory; for “he feedeth among the lilies.” I need not fear his leading me into danger, or any desolate places, but where lilies grow, where is all delight and pleasure; he will lead me into green pastures; where I may have food, and fullness of it. And,
First, These words are expressive of the mutual interest and property which Christ and the church have in each other; “my beloved is mine, and I am his;” he has interest in me, and I have the same in him.
1st, She says, “my beloved is mine.” She first asserts her interest in Christi and then his interest in her; for Christ is first ours, and then we are his, because he is ours; he loves us before we love him; he first gives himself to us, and then we give ourselves to him. But how comes Christ to be ours? I answer, 1. By the Father’s gift; he gave him for us, and he gave him to us; therefore Christ is called (John 4:10), “the gift of God.” and that by way of eminence; he being the first: and best gift, the most comprehensive one, that includes all others in it; and brings them with it; for he that gives the greater gift, will give the lesser; if he gives his own son, “he will give all things with him;” him he has given to be an husband to his church, and a head over her; he has given him to be a priest to offer up sacrifice, and to make intercession for her; to be a prophet to teach, and a king to rule her; and Surely such a gift as this deserves the utmost thanks; so that there is reason to say with the apostle (2 Cor. 9:15), “thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift; and thus Christ becomes ours. 2. By his own gift; he has given himself to us; as well as for us; he gave himself a sacrifice for us, and that as an instance of his love to us, as well as a fruit of his having given himself in covenant to us before. 3. By marriage! Christ has not only espoused our cause, but has also espoused our persons; and betrothed us to himself “in righteousness and in judgment., and in loving-kindness, and in mercies, and in faithfulness,” and that for ever; so that, O astonishing grace! he that is our Maker is become our husband. 4. By possession: we have him and all things pertaining to life and salvation with him; we have him in us as the hope of glory, dwelling in our hearts by faith, living there as in his own house and temple, and reigning there by his grace and spirit, as in his own palace; and those souls who can experience this, may say with the Church, my beloved is mine; I have an interest in him; for I am in possession of him. Thus Christ is the church’s. But,
2dly, She says also, that she was his; I am his; and that because he is mine; Now how come souls to be Christ’s? I answer, 1. By the Father’s gift: he that gives Christ to us, gives us also to Christ; and this he did in the everlasting covenant, to be his bride and wife, to be his portion and inheritance, and to be kept and preserved by him safe to glory. Christ having pitched his love upon us, chose us for his own, and asked us of his Father, who granted his request; “thine they were,” says Christ (John 17:6), “and thou gavest them me.” 2. By purchase: he has bought us with a price, and that not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with his own most precious blood; so that he does, as he justly may, claim an interest in us upon this account. 3. By the conquest of his grace upon our hearts: he pulls down the. strong-holds of our hearts; enters in with his glorious train and retinue of grace, dispossesses Satan, dethrones sin, sets up a throne for himself, and places his own spirit in the midst of us, which is the grand evidence of our being his; “for if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his;” from whence it may be inferred, that he that has the spirit of Christ, is one of his. 4. By a voluntary surrender of ourselves unto him; which cannot be better expressed than it is in Isaiah 44. 5. “One shall say, I am the Lord’s;” which is the language of the church here: “another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; “which is the name of Christ’s church” “and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel;” and this in New-Testament-language, is called a giving themselves to the Lord, and to the church by the will of God; so that as Christ is ours by his own consent, we are Christ’s by our consent, being made a willing people in the day of his power.
Now from Christ’s being ours, it follows, 1. That all he has is ours; all his perfections are ours; not that they are communicated to us, for that would be to deify us; but they are all engaged for our eternal good and welfare; we have the comfort of them: Is he the Almighty? then he is able to save us from law, sin, hell and death, and to keep and preserve us safe to his kingdom and glory: Is he omnipresent? hence saints enjoy his gracious presence, in all places, in all his ordinances; he can be with them, when and where he pleases: Is he omniscient? He knows their persons, their wants; their enemies, etc. and is both able and willing to help them: Is he immutable? Is he Jesus? the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever?” they need not then fear any variation of his mind, any alteration in his love, nor change in their state; and thus all other of his divine perfections serve to advance their comfort and happiness. 2. That all he has is theirs; his person is theirs, to render them acceptable to God; his blood theirs, to cleanse and pardon them; his righteousness theirs, to justify and acquit them before God; his fullness theirs, to supply their wants; and all covenant-blessings and promises which he has in his hands, are theirs. Therefore, 3. It follows, that they can want no good thing; for as he has ability to help them, he has a heart to do it, and will not withhold any thing that may be needful and proper for them, especially seeing they have an indisputable right to and interest in them.
Moreover, from our being Christ’s, it follows, that we are not our own; our persons, our time and talents, our gifts and graces, are not our own, but his; and therefore we should give up all unto him, and glorify him with all: nor are we any others; we are not Satan’s, for Christ has delivered us as lawful captives out of his hands: nor sin’s, for Christ has redeemed us from it; nor the world’s, for Christ has both chosen and called us out of it; and therefore we should serve none but him, who has an incontestable right to us, and a sovereign power over us.
Secondly, These words are expressive of a near union, that there is between Christ and his church; these two are one in a conjugal relation, as husband and wife are one; my beloved is my husband, and I am his wife, and we are both one flesh. Which union is, 1. Personal: it is an union of persons, that is to say, the whole person of Christ, as God-man, is united to a believer; and the whole person of a believer, body and soul, is united to Christ; and by virtue of this union, as the souls of the saints shall be receives into everlasting habitations till the resurrection-morn, so the bodies of the saints shall be raised from their dusty beds, and shall then live with Christ for evermore. 2. It as a spiritual union; “he that is joined to the Lord, is one spirit:” Christ and his church being one, they have one and the same spirit; Christ has it without measure, and the church in measure; and this she has as the fruit of her union to Christ, and also as the evidence of it. 3. It is a vital union; such an one as is between the vine and branches: where the spirit of Christ is given, a principle of life is implanted; when souls are engrafted into Christ, they receive life from Christ; nay, he lives in them, and maintains this spiritual life by fresh communications of life from himself, who is the fountain of it; and because he lives, they shall live also; as long as there is life in the head, there shall be life in the members; and because there is life in the root, the branches shall not wither. 4. It is very mysterious: the union of the three persons in one divine essence, and that of two natures in Christ’s person, are very mysterious; these, without controversy, are the great mysteries of godliness: and next to them is this union of souls to Christ, which the apostle having spoken of, thus says (Eph. 5:32), “This is a great mystery, but I speak of Christ and the church;” that is, of the union there is between Christ and the church; that it; is an ineffable and unconceivable one, appears from its being; compared to the union of the divine persons in the Godhead (John 17:11-23). 5. It is an indissoluble one: Christ and the church can never be separated; the union-bond can never be broken; and what is that? The generality of divines say, that it is the spirit on Christ’s side, and faith on ours; but neither the spirit nor faith are the bond of union, but the fruits and effects of it: the reason why the spirit is given, or faith, or any other graces are wrought, is, because the soul is already united to Christ. What then is the bond of union? I answer, Christ’s everlasting love; it is this which is the cement that knits and joins souls unto him: What was it that knit and united the souls of David and Jonathan together, and made them as if they had been but one soul, but love? What is it that knits the saints together? so as they appear to be of one heart and one soul, but love? This is the bond of union between them; and so it is between Christ and his church; and now who or what can separate from this love? This betrothment, which was done in loving kindness and in mercies, can never be made void; this marriage-knot can never be loosed; this union-bond can never be broken; Christ’s love is everlasting, unchangeable, and inseparable.
Now from this union flow, 1. An interest in all he has; he being ours, and we his by marriage; all his goods are ours, all the aforementioned things are ours. 2. A communication of names the church is called by the name of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12; Jer. 23:16 compared with Jer. 33:6), and Christ is called by the church’s name (Isa. 49:3), which is somewhat remarkable; for though it is usual for the wife to take the name of the husband, yet not the husband the name of the wife. 3. Conformity to Christ: by virtue of this union, the soul receives the same spirit that Christ has, and has grace daily communicated from, is indulged with transforming views of, and therefore cannot but bear some resemblance to him; which will more fully appear in the other world, when saints shall be like him, and shall see him as he is. 4. Communion and fellowship with him: communion with Christ follows upon union to him; because his saints and he are both one, he is not ashamed to call them brethren; but takes them into his bosom, indulges them with his presence, grants them nearness to and familiarity with him.
Thirdly, These words are also expressive of the mutual affection, delight and complacency, which Christ and his church has in each other: it is as if she should say, He is a beloved to me, and I am the same to him; he loves me, and I love him; yea, there is no love lost between us. He says, that the lines are fallen to him in pleasant places, and that he has a goodly heritage: he is well pleased with his portion, and I am well pleased with mine: for, “whom have I in heaven but him? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides him.” He says, that I am in his eye “the fairest among women,” the greatest beauty in the world, and so is he in mine; he is white and ruddy, a complete beauty, “the chiefest among ten thousand.”
Fourthly, There is in them a manifest declaration of the assurance of that knowledge and faith which she had of her interest in Christ; it shews us, mat such a thing is attainable; and, sure I am, next to the enjoyment of the heavenly glory, nothing is more desirable; it is a mercy not only to have an interest in Christ, but also to know it, to be capable Of saying with Thomas, “My Lord and my God;” or with Job, “I know that my Redeemer liveth;” or with the apostle Paul, “I know whom I have believed;” for this makes much for the comfort of souls. The church seems to speak this in the triumph of faith, rejoicing in the comfortable views of Christ as her own; and as it were boasting of it, excluding all other beloveds, as not worthy of her notice, and as not to be mentioned with her beloved.
Lastly, She tells us, that this beloved of hers was feeding among the lilies; “he feedeth among the lilies:” which may be regarded either as an apostrophe to him, and may be read thus, “O thou that feedest among the lilies!” thou, and thou only art mine, and I am thine: or else, these words may be descriptive of his person, and prevent a question that might be asked, viz. who her beloved was, that she thus claimed an interest in? To which she answers, My beloved is that yonder person you see feeding among the lilies; and at the same time also points out to us the place where he was, and what he was about: his employment was feeding, that is, either feeding himself; which. Christ does, when he delights and recreates himself in his gardens, the churches, and among his lilies, the saints; observing how their faith grows, and how that and all other graces are exercised upon himself: Or else, feeding his flock, as R. Sol. Jarchi observes; for as he bears the character of a shepherd, so he performs the work of one; “he feeds his flock like a shepherd;” see chapter 1:7. The place where he is here said to feed, is among the lilies; by which may be meant, either a good, quiet, and delightful pasture, as R. Sol. Jarchi glosses it; Christ leads and feeds his people in “green pastures, beside the still or quiet waters;” and what can be more delightful than to lie down among, or to sit and feed where lilies grow? or else, by these lilies may be meant the scriptures of truth, the precious promises and comfortable doctrines of the gospel; and the ordinances thereof, with which Christ feeds his church: or rather, by them may be meant the saints, who are compared thereunto, in verse 2. of this chapter. Now it is among these that Christ feeds; and therefore do any want to know where Christ feeds, as the church did, in chapter 1:7? He feeds among his saints, where they are congregated in gospel order, where his lilies grow. It may be observed, it is not said, he feedeth on, or feeds his flock. with lilies, but among them; for it is remarked374374Tuccius apud Soto Major in loc. that sheep will not eat them: or the sense may be, Christ feeds himself, and feeds his people, and feeds among them, as if he was crowned with lilies, and anointed with the oil of them; as was the custom of the ancients at festivals375375Fortunat. Schac. Eleochrysm. Sacr.1. 1. c. 28. p. 137. thought to be here alluded to by some, who read the words, “that feeds;” that is, feeds, sups in or with lilies, being crowned with them, and anointed with the oil of them. The lily is a summer flower376376Theophrast. apud Athen. Deipnosophist.1. 15. c. 7. P. 679. the winter was now past, verse 11, and so agrees with the time when those words were spoken.
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