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Chapter 4 Verse 6
the day break, and the shadows flee away
I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.
492492Vid. Ainsworth & Sanct. in loc. think these are the words of the church; who, not being able to bear any longer to hear herself so highly commended, as in the preceding verses resolves to betake herself to some private place, where she might be out of the hearing of such praises and commendations: or else, being under great temptations and darkness of soul, resolves to go to the mountain of the Lord’s house, the church of Christ, and there in reading, meditation, prayer, and other exercises, wait for his presence, and the manifestations of himself unto her: or rather, being in distressed circumstances, she is resolved to go to Christ himself, “the rock that is higher than” she; who, for the odor of his sacrifice, the fragrancy of his intercession, and sweet-smelling garment of his righteousness, may be called “the mountain of myrrh,” and “hill of frankincense,” as he is “a bundle of myrrh,” in chapter 1:13. But I am rather inclined to think, that they are the words of Christ; in which we are told,
First, The place where he resolves to go to, and abide; “the mountain of myrrh, and hill of frankincense;” which I apprehend intend one and the same place; though two places in Arabia were so called.493493Shilte Hagibborim, c. 88. fol. 95. 4. The allusion may be to mountains and hills, where those odoriferous plants grew; such as were in or near Judea: it is said of Pompey the Great, that when he passed over Lebanon, after-mentioned, verse 8, he went through sweet-smelling groves, and woods of frankincense and balsam;494494Florus de Gest Roman. 1. 3. c. 5. and Lebanon is thought by some,495495Vid. Gabriel Sionit. de Orient. Urb. c. 6. p. 14. to have its name from the frankincense that grew upon it; though rather, from the whiteness of the snow continually on it; and is, in the Targum of verse 8. called “the mountain of snow;” (see Jer. 18:14).
Secondly, How long he proposes to continue here; “until the day break, and the shadows flee away.”
Now by “the mountain of myrrh, and hill of frankincense,” most of the Jewish writers496496Targum, R. Aben Ezra, & R. Sol. Jarchi in loc. & Zohar in Genesis fol. 75-1, Alihech interprets it of mount Sinai, and the day-break of the captivity of Egypt. understand the temple, which was built on mount Moriah (2 Chron. 3:1), the place where Abraham offered up his son Isaac; in which mountain as the Lord then, so frequently in after-ages, especially when the temple was built, appeared unto his people. Now the temple may be called “the mountain of myrrh, and hill of frankincense,” either in allusion to Moriah, the name of the mountain on which it was built; which perhaps might have its name originally from the abundance of myrrh which grew upon it; or else, because in it was the holy anointing oil, one ingredient in which was “pure myrrh;” and also the incense, which was made of “pure frankincense,” together with other spices; which was likewise put upon their meat-offerings, which were there offered up unto the Lord: and this sense of the words is not altogether to be despised; for in the temple, the shechinah or divine majesty dwelt, until Christ came in the flesh, when the gospel-day broke, and the shadows of the ceremonial law vanished, fled and disappeared, as has been shewn in chapter 2:17. Though I think rather, by “the mountain of myrrh, and hill of frankincense,” is intended the church of Christ;497497So the Cabalistic doctors by these understand malcuth, the congregation of Israel, or the church: Lexic. Cabal. p. 229, 277. where he has taken up his residence, and resolves to dwell until his second coming; which may be compared to a hill or mountain, 1. For their height: hills and mountains are higher than any other parts of the earth; and so is the church of Christ than the rest of the world: saints are higher in Christ’s esteem than all the world besides; and are exalted by his grace, and dignified with favors by him above all others; and however love and mean they may now appear in the eyes of the world, the time is coming when this “mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills,” (Isa. 2:2). 2. For their immoveableness: hills and mountains cannot be removed; no more can the church or believers in Christ, Psalm 130:1, for “they that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever:” they shall never be removed either from Christ’s hands or Christ’s heart; they shall never be removed from a state of justification to a state of condemnation; they ate secured by electing love, and preserved in Christ Jesus; they are held fast by covenant-bands, and are built upon “a sure foundation, upon a rock,” against which “the gates of hell can never prevail.” 3. For being places where trees grow, as oaks, cedars, olives,” etc. and famous for these were Bashan, Hermon, Lebanon, the mount of olives,” etc. in the church of Christ are “trees of righteousness,” which, being planted by Christ’s father, flourish like palm-trees, and grow like cedars in Lebanon. 4. For being places of pasture for cattle; such were Bashan, Carmel, and Gilead: in the church of Christ there is pasture for all his sheep; there plenteous provisions of grace are made; “a feast of fat things,” wine mingled, bread prepared, mad a table sufficiently furnished for all Christ’s friends and guests, in this his holy mountain, the church. 5. In hills and mountains worship used to be given, and sacrifices offered up to God, as may be collected from the discourse of Christ with the woman of Samaria (John 4:20, 21), as well as from other places of scripture: in the church of Christ the worship of God is maintained, the word of God is preached, his ordinances are administered, and the sacrifices of prayer and praise are offered up to him in the name and through the mediation of Christ Jesus. And as it may be compared to a mountain and hill, so likewise to “a mountain of myrrh, and hill of frankincense,” (1.) Because of the fragrancy of those graces with which the church is perfumed: hence she is said, in chapter 3:6. to be “perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant;” and in this chapter, verse 10. the smell of them is said to exceed all spices; and that more especially when they are in exercise; so grateful, well-pleasing, and sweet-smelling are they then to Christ Jesus. (2.) Because of sacrifices which are of “a sweet-smelling savor, that are offered up here, as the sacrifices of prayer, which, in Revelation 5:8, are called odors; and are more especially so to God the Father, when they are offered up through Christ’s mediation, being perfumed with his much incense: here are also the sacrifices of praise, which are of an exceeding grateful and delightful odor to God; for being offered up to him through Christ, these spiritual sacrifices become acceptable to him. (3.) Because of that pleasure and delight which Christ takes in his people, and that sweet communion which they here enjoy with him; so that to them both it is “a mountain of myrrh and hill of frankincense;” where the one concludes, it is good to be, and the other resolves to stay “till the day break,” etc. The saints are “the excellent in the earth,” with whom Christ delights to converse, and to whom his “goodness extends;” he says, “the lines are fallen to him in pleasant places, and that he has a goodly heritage assigned him by his Father; inasmuch as they are his to live and dwell with him for evermore: and to the saints, Christ’s “tabernacles are amiable” and lovely; they count “a day spent in his courts, better than a thousand elsewhere;” because there they see him, and have fellowship with him whom their souls love. Now in this “mountain of myrrh, and hill of frankincense,” Christ, as he delights, so he resolves to dwell, “until the day break,” etc. Which is,
1st, Until the day of grace breaks in upon every elect soul, All that the Father hath loved with an everlasting love, and hath chosen in Christ before the world began, he put into his hands; who, upon the reception of them, laid himself under obligation to redeem them by his blood, and bring them safe to glory; and as he has already done the former, he is now doing the latter, through the ministry of the word; and therefore the preaching of the gospel, a standing ministry, and a church state, are continued on earth; in which he will stay, until every one of those other sheep are called by divine grace, whom he has laid himself under obligation to bring in: and now, when grace breaks in upon a poor sinner’s heart, it is like the break of day unto him; light springs into his understanding, which before was darkened; he was darkness itself, is now made light in the Lord; and is no more reckoned among the children of the night, bat among the children of the day; for now the shadows of ignorance and infidelity are fled away; the scales of darkness are fallen from his eyes, and in God’s light he sees light: he now sees his lost and undone state without Christ, the corruption and depravity of his nature, and the plague of his own heart; he sees the impurity” and imperfection of his own righteousness, and the glory and fullness of Christ’s; he sees Christ as a proper, suitable, able and willing Savior; he sees things he never saw before, and which will ever remain invisible to a carnal eye. Now until the day of grace has thus broke in upon every elect soul; and the shadows of blindness, ignorance, and infidelity, are thus fled and gone; Christ has taken up his residence, and will dwell in his church, which, to him, is a mountain of myrrh and hill of frankincense. Or else,
2dly, Until the day of glory breaks; that everlasting day, in which there will be no more night; when nil shadows of darkness, infidelity, doubts and fears, will flee away; when saints shall be attended no more with the long, tedious and dark nights of afflictions and sorrows, and shall stand in no need of shadowy ordinances; but shall enjoy Christ, the sum and substance of all, and dwell and be delighted with him perpetually, upon the everlasting mountains of spices, as has been shewn on chapter 2:17.
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