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Chapter 4 Verse 5
two breasts are like two young roes that are twins,
which feed among the lilies.
words contain the seventh and last particular instance of the church’s beauty; in which her breasts are compared to “two young roes,” very elegantly expressing the beauty of them; they are compared to “two young roes” for smallness, large breasts not being accounted handsome; to “young does that are twins,” because they are of equal size and bigness, not one larger and higher than the other, for that would be a deformity; and to “two young roes that feed among the lilies.” which are fat and plump, and so web expresses the fullness of them, they being not dry and empty breasts: such are sometimes called sororiantes484484Papillae sororiabant, Plauti Frivolarla, Fragm.1. 7. Mammas sororiantes, Pliny 1. 31. c. 6. as if they were sisters, being alike; and full and distended with milk, reach and join to, and as it were kiss each other as such; or, “two fawns, the twins of a doe:” providence, as Plutarch485485De Liberis Educand. vol. 2. p. 5. observes, has given to women two breasts, that, should they have twins, both might have a fountain of nourishment, and though the hind, for the most part, brings but one roe at a time; yet the philosopher observes486486Aristol. de Animal.1. 6. c. 29. there are some that bring twins. Now by the church’s breasts, we may understand either,
First, The ministers of the gospel. The Targum here makes mention of the Jews two Messiahs; which is a Talmudic fiction, and shews the work to be a later one than what is pretended: the words are thus paraphrased in it; “Thy two redeemers which shall redeem thee, Messiah the son of David, and Messiah the son of Ephraim, are like to Moses and Aaron, the sons of Jochebed, who are compared to two young toes that are twins; who, in their integrity, fed the people, the house of Israel, forty years in the wilderness, with manna and fatted fowls, and water of the well of Miriam.” And agreeable to this paraphrase, other Jewish, writers487487R. Sol. Jarchi, Alahech, and Yalkut in loc. would have Moses and Aaron here intended, who suckled and fed the people of Israel, and as twins, were very like one another. But I think they may be much better applied to the ministers of the gospel; who impart the “sincere milk of the word” to persons; deliver the sweet, comfortable, and nourishing, doctrines of grace; which may be compared to milk out of the breasts, with which they feed them, as the apostles says (1 Cor. 3:2), “I have fed you with milk;” which is nourishing to new-born souls, suitable to their natures, and easily” digested by them. Now these breasts of the church, the ministers of the gospel, may be compared,
1st, To two young does, which are, 1. Loving and pleasant creatures; “let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe,” (etc., Prov. 5:19), ministers of the gospel are loving and affection. ate to such souls more especially who are born again under their ministry, whom they feed with the milk of the word; they are as fond of them, and bear as great an affection to them, as the tender mother or nurse do to their sucking babes, according to what the apostle says (1 Thess. 2:7, 8). “But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children; so being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear to us;” than which nothing can be more passionately spoken, nor in a more lively manner represent that strong affection and tender love and regard that ministers shew to souls: moreover as they are as the loving hind unto those souls, so they are as the pleasant roe in their esteem; they love them, and are loved by them; they appear exceeding beautiful and lovely in the eyes of those to whom God has made them useful; for the very feet of them that bring glad tidings are beautiful to them. 2. Those creatures are sharp-sighted ones; ministers of the gospel, having their understandings opened, their judgments informed, and their souls led by the Spirit of God, into “the truth, as it is in Jesus,” have light, knowledge and penetration into the scriptures of truth, and are capable of directing and guiding the feet of, and shewing the way of salvation unto others. 3. They are swift creatures: thus the apostles and first ministers of the gospel, like young roes, ran, spread, and carried the gospel all over the Gentile world; “their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the end of the world:” and it may also denote in general, how expedite and quick of dispatch ministers are in doing of their Lord’s work, notwithstanding a great many difficulties are in the way; yet, like young toes, they leap over these mountains, and skip over these hills, and are” not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” 4. Here is only mention made of two young roes, and that to suit with the number of her breasts; and two breasts being sufficient for one person, denotes the sufficient number of ministers which Christ provides for his church: when he had sent out the twelve apostles, he afterwards sent out other seventy disciples, and these he sent out “two and two;” and so in all ages of the world, as he has removed some, he has sent others, and when there has been want of such workmen in his vineyard, he has prayed “the Lord of the harvest” to send forth more laborers; and as the fruit of his ascension and intercession, sufficient gifts have been given to a competent number of men to fit them for the ministry, for the good of his body, the church.
2dly, They are compared, not only to two young roes, but two young roes that are twins; which is expressive of their equal authority, joint commission, and harmony of doctrine, as has been already observed on verse 2.
3dly, They are compared to two young toes that “feed among the lilies; the lilies of the field,” for such there were (Matthew 6:28), and we sometimes read of harts and hinds being among lilies488488En aspicis ilium, candida qui medius cubat inter lilia, cervum? Calphurnius apud Bochart. Hiorozoic par. 1.1. 3. c. 24. col. 924. Now the lilies, among which the ministers of the gospel feed, are either, 1. The scriptures, which they make their principal study, and the main subject of their contemplation; here their own souls are delighted, comforted and instructed, and so become useful in comforting and instructing others; from hence they gather food for themselves, and being nourished with the wholesome words of faith and sound doctrine, they are capable of feeding others also. Or, 2. The saints: in what respects the people of God may be compared to lilies, has been shewn on chapter 2:2. among these the ministers of the gospel feed, and to these they break and impart the bread of life. 3. It may be observed, that it is where Christ himself feeds, as in chapter 2:16. The ministers of the gospel feed where Christ feeds, and Christ feeds where they do: the great end of the gospel-ministry is, not only that saints may have communion one with another, but also with their head, Christ Jesus: Would any therefore enjoy communion with Christ? Are any desirous of knowing where Christ feeds? he feeds where his ministers do, and that is among the lilies, in the congregation of the saints; it may serve then as a direction to such, to sit under a gospel-ministry. Or,
Secondly, We may understand by the church’s two breasts, the two Testaments, the Old and the New: A Jewish writer489489R. Aben Ezra in loc. would have their two laws here intended, namely, the written law, and the oral law; the written law is that which was written on the two tables of stone; the oral law is what they imagine God gave to Moses by word of mouth, which he gave to Joshua, and so was handed down from one to another, and makes up the volume of their vain, unprofitable, and numerous traditions, called the Misnah: but it is much better applied by another of them490490R. Solom. Jarchi in loc. so in Yallentin loc. to the two tables themselves, on which were written the ten commandments, five on one table, and five on the other; and so, like two young roes that are twins, answered one another: though the two Testaments, the Old and the New, seem to bid much fairer to be the sense of these words; which two breasts contain and impart the whole “sincere milk of the word,” and afford every thing that is nourishing and refreshing to believers; here is milk for babes, and meat for strong men; and, like “two young roes,” are exceeding pleasant and delightful to believers; they rejoice the heart, cheat the spirits, and fill the soul with an universal pleasure; and as two young roes that are twins are alike, there is an harmony and agreement between them: they look to one another as the two cherubim over the mercy-seat did. They agree, 1. In the person, office, and grace of Christ: the Old-Testament has said nothing concerning the Messiah, what he should be, do or suffer, but what the New Testament has fully confirmed and more clearly discovered: and the New. Testament says nothing of Christ, his person, office and grace, but what the Old bears a testimony to; and therefore, says Christ to the Jews (John 5:39), “search the scriptures,” that is, of the Old Testament; “for they are they which testify of me.” 2. They are alike in their doctrines; the doctrines concerning Christ’s person, the remission of sins by his blood, justification by his righteousness, etc. are the same in both Testaments, notwithstanding they were spoken at ‘sundry times,” and delivered in” divers manners;” though perhaps they are more clearly revealed in the one than in the other: the apostle Paul, that great asserter of the doctrines of grace under the New Testament, said no other firings than what Moses and the prophets said under the Old. 3. The promises and prophecies of the Old-Testament have their completion in the New; there was nothing promised to be done, or prophesied that should be, but what has been exactly fulfilled and brought to pass; neither is there scarcely any thing in the New Testament, but what was promised and prophesied of under the Old. 4. The types and figures of the old law are exactly answered in the New-Testament: the law was nothing else but a “shadow of good things to come;” the passover-lamb, the brazen serpent, the rock and manna, the Jewish sabbaths, sacrifices, new moon, washings and purifications, all prefigured and had their fulfillment in Christ Jesus. there is scarce any thing in the New-Testament, but what was typified under the Old; and nothing prefigured under the Old, but what has its completion in the New; and thus are they like two young roes that are twins: and they may also be said to be like roes that “feed among the lilies,” because they abound with the lilies of gospel promises and gospel-doctrines; these two fields are full of them; there are “exceeding great and, precious promises,” and heavenly and delightful truths, which make for the consolation, edification, and instruction of God’s people. Or,
Thirdly, By the church’s two breasts may be intended, the two ordinances of the gospel, baptism, and the Lord’s supper; which are not dry breasts, but the breasts of consolation, out of which believers suck and are satisfied; in the Lord’s supper, by faith they “eat the flesh,” and “drink the blood” of the Son of God, and feed upon the bruised and broken body of a crucified Jesus, and in so doing, receive much strength and nourishment; in the ordinance of baptism, they look to a buried and risen Jesus, behold the place where their Lord lay, “who was delivered for their offenses, and rose again for their justification;” and oftentimes go away, as the eunuch did, rejoicing: now these, like “two young roes,” are exceeding pleasant and delightful to believers, when they have the presence and Spirit of God with them, and the discoveries of his love unto them; for then are wisdom’s ways, “ways of pleasantness, and all her paths, paths of peace.” Again, like two roes that are twins, they are both instituted by Christ, both lead the faith of God’s children to him; they both require the same subjects, namely, believers, and ought to go inseparably together; he that has a right to the one, has an indubitate right to the other; and he that subjects to the one, should also to the other; for so did the first primitive Christians, who, as soon as converted, were baptized, and the same day joined themselves to the church, and steadfastly continued in holy fellowship and communion with it; a practice to be imitated and followed by us now. Moreover, these may be said to “feed among the lilies,” because they are all acknowledged, received, and submitted to by the saints, who are compared to lilies; who not only entertain them, but maintain and vindicate them against all opposers.
There are some491491Bernard & Carpath. in Sanct. in loc. who think by the church’s breasts are meant, love to God, and love to our neighbor, which are the two great commandments of the law; and therefore love is avid to be the “fulfilling of the law.” Now “we love God, because he first loved us,” and we love the saints, because they are loved with the same love, redeemed by the same blood as we are, have the same grace wrought in their hearts; as we ourselves have, and all as the fruit and effect of divine grace; and being thus filled with a sense of God’s love, they become very fruitful in good works, and, like “two young roes,” are exceeding pleasant and delightful to Christ; and therefore he says, in verse 10: “How fair is my love, my sister, my spouse,” etc. both to me and to my saints: and like two young roes that are twins, are wrought at one and the same time in the soul; bear a very great resemblance to each other in their natures, properties, and usefulness, and do inseparably go together; for where there is love to God, there will be love to the saints: for to say we love God, and do not love our brother, is a manifest contradiction, as the apostle John says, 1 John 4:20, “He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” and these being fed by scripture-precepts and examples, grow and increase abundantly, like two young roes which are fat and plump, feeding among the lilies: but the other senses of the words before-mentioned seem better to agree with them.
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