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Chapter 4 Verse 15
A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.
having commended his church as a well watered garden, and declared her fruitfulness; she breaks forth in these words, and ascribes it all to him, saying, “O fountain of gardens, and well of living waters,” etc. as the words are rendered by some:575575So Ainsworth, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Marckius. though others576576Isidore, Cocceius. Schmidt, Heunischius; so the Cabalistic doctors interpret the well of living waters of malcuth, or the bride, the church, Lexic Cabal. p. 183. take them to be the words of Christ; but rather are the church’s. It is true, as if she should say, I am a garden, and a garden enclosed by thy sovereign grace, where the streams and flows of thy grace run and water all my plants, and make them so fruitful as they are: but I am not the spring, the fountain from whence they flow it is thou who art the fountain of gardens, from whence I am supplied, and am put into, and kept in the flourishing condition I am; it is not owing to myself, but it is by thy grace I am what I am; and therefore I will ascribe all the glory to thee. So that the church here acknowledges Christ,
I.To be “a fountain of gardens”.
II.“A well of living waters.” And,
III.His grace to be like “streams from Lebanon.”
There seems to be a respect to several places called by these names: there was one called “the Fountain of Gardens,” which flowed from Lebanon, six miles from Tripoli, and watered all the gardens about, whence it had its name, and all the country that lay between those two places:577577Adrichom. Theatrum Terra Sanctae, p. 107, 108. and there was another, called “the Well of living Waters,” a little mile to the south of Tyre; it had four fountains, from whence were cut various aqueducts and rivulets, which watered all the plain of Tyre, and all its gardens; which fountains were little more than a bow’s cast from the main sea; and in which space six mill, were employed:578578Ibid. p. 6. and there is a rupture in mount Lebanon, as Mr. Maundrel579579Journey from Alleppo, etc. p.1. 2, 143. says, which runs up in seven hours traveling; and which on both sides is steep and high, and clothed with fragrant greens from top to bottom; and every where refreshed with fountains, failing down from the rocks, in pleasant cascades, the ingenious work of nature: and Rauwolff,580580Travels, part 2. ch. 12. p. 187, 188. edit. Ray. who was on this mountain in 1575, relates; “We came, says he, into pleasant groves, by delightful rivulets that arose from springs, that made so sweet a noise as to be admired by king Solomon,” (Song 4:15).
I.She acknowledges him to be “a fountain of gardens.” By gardens may be intended, either particular believers, whose souls are made like watered gardens, whose springs fail not; or rather, particular churches: Christ has mere gardens than one; every particular church is a garden; such were the churches at Rome, Corinth, Colosse, Philippi, Thessalonica, and the seven churches of Asia; but though there have been, and still are many gardens, yet there is but one fountain, from whence they are supplied, and by which they are all watered, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ, as the church here owns; in him all fullness of grace dwells, and from thence believers “receive grace for grace;” he is the fountain from whence it all flows, all justifying grace flows from this fountain; in him alone is our justifying righteousness before God; by him are all the elect justified, and that from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses; in doing which abundance of grace is displayed, both in bringing it in and applying it to the ungodly sinner; all which grace flows from this fountain: all sanctifying grace flows from hence; a holy nature, as well as a justifying righteousness, we have from Christ; he is both our sanctification and our righteousness; to him we must look for, and from him we must receive the one as well as the other: all the streams of pardoning grace take their rise from hence; Christ shed his blood to obtain the pardon of sin, and he has obtained it thereby for all his people; so that now as forgiveness of sin is according to the riches of God’s grace, it is also upon the foot of justice, being founded upon redemption through the blood of Jesus; hence God’s justice and faithfulness are concerned in the pardon of sin, as well as his grace and mercy displayed; Christ is “the fountain opened,” to wash in “for sin and for uncleanness;” it is his blood alone which “cleanseth from all sin” whatever: He is the fountain of all the blessings and promises of the everlasting covenant; of all that light and life that we are made partakers of; of all that strength and wisdom that are given forth to us, to act for him in our several stations of life; and of all that joy, comfort, and peace in believing, which our souls are at any times possessed of: He is the fountain of all fructifying and persevering grace, by which the plants in his garden become fruitful, and continue to do so: in short, he is the fountain from whence all his churches are supplied not only with grace, but with the gifts of the Spirit; he is ascended on high, “that he might fill all things;” he is filled himself as man and mediator, with the Spirit without measure; he has received “the promise of the Father,” and plentifully sheds it abroad among his people; he fills his churches with members and officers, and all these with suitable gifts and graces for their respective places; all comes from this “fountain of gardens.”
II.She declares him to be “a well of living water:” we read, in Isaiah 12:3 of wells of salvation, in the plural number, which intend the same as here; and are so called to denote the fullness, completeness, and excellency of salvation in Christ: Christ is a well that is, 1. Large and deep; like that which Isaac called Rehoboth, either from the largeness of it, or the liberty he had then obtained in enjoying it; or like Jacob’s well, which was very deep, at which Christ met the woman of Samaria: the fullness of grace in Christ has its heights and depths, its lengths and breadths; it is bottomless and unfathomable, it is immeasurable and incomprehensible. 2. Christ is a full well: we read, 2 Peter 2:17 of some that are wells without water; but such an one is not Christ; he is a full welt, and not full of any thing, of any sort of water, but of living water; he is fur of grace and truth, 3. This well was dug by, and filled alone with sovereign grace; it pleased the Father; it was an act of his sovereign grace, that Christ should be the mediator, and that all fullness of grace should dwell in him as such; when he treasured up in him before the world began: the Lord, says Wisdom (Prov. 8:22), possessed me; with what? with all fullness of grace; and when did he do this? in the beginning of his way, before his works of old; O boundless, sovereign grace! 4. Faith is the grace with which we draw from hence: it may indeed be said to us, what the woman of Samaria said to Christ (John 4:11), “sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep:” we have nothing of our own to draw with; but Christ, who has opened our eyes, as the Lord did Hagar’s, to behold himself, the well of living waters, gives us faith, whereby we draw out of the wells of salvation, and receive from this overflowing fountain grace for grace. 5. The waters we draw from hence are living ones; such Christ told the woman of Samaria he could, as undoubtedly he afterwards did give unto her, even living water. Christ is a well, and a well full of living waters; which are so called, (1.) Because grace given forth, from Christ’s fullness to dead sinners, makes them alive; these waters are like the waters of the sanctuary, in Ezekiel’s vision; which, wherever they come, not only keep alive those that are so, but quicken such who are dead in trespasses and sins, and in this respect excel them: we are told (Prov. 10:11), that the mouth of a righteous man is a well of life; certainly Christ’s mouth is so, when he says to sinners, whilst in their blood, live; his grace may then be said to be living water. (2.) Grace given forth from Christ’s fullness, revives and quickens saints when dull, lifeless and fainting; it comforts their hearts, and makes them cheerful, lively and active. (3.) Grace maintains and supports life in believers: we have our life alone from Christ; he is the author of it, and with him it is hid, secured, and preserved; it is by his mighty grace that our souls are upheld in it; from his fullness we have all the communications of it; and because he lives, therefore we do, and shall live also. (4.) It is this grace of Christ’s that gives saints a right to, prepares them for, and will end in eternal life; justifying grace gives them a right to eternal life; sanctifying grace makes them meet for it, which is in them “a well of water springing up into everlasting life,” (John 4:14). (5.) These are called living waters, because they are ever running581581Flumine vivo, Virg. AEneid. 50:2. 5:715. semper fluenti, i.e. naturali, Servius in Ibid. ; and so opposed to standing waters, which are dried up in the summer season: Christ’s grace is perpetual, everlasting and inexhaustible; like himself, it is “the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever;” the fullness of grace in Christ, and the communications of it, are like those living or ever-running waters, mentioned in Zechariah 14:8. “And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them towards the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea; in summer and in winter shall it be;” that is, at all times and seasons of the year shall these waters flow: the saints before and after the flood, the saints before and under the law; the saints under the Old Testament, and the saints under the New, have all received from this fountain and fullness of grace in Christ; all the grace that angels have, and all that men have or shall have. all comes from hence; and yet it is an ever-running, overflowing, and inexhaustible fullness, And this I take to be the principal reason why it is called “living water.”
III.The church here acknowledges the grace of Christ to be like streams from Lebanon: mount Lebanon gave rise to Eleutherus, etc. and as these took some rivers, as Jordan582582Plin. 1.5. c. 20. & Joseph. Antiq 1. 5. c. 3. s. 1. their rise and streamed from thence, so does grace from Christ, “whose countenance is as Lebanon,” chapter 5:15, who is intended here from this high, goodly, pleasant, fruitful, and fragrant mountain, flow all the streams of divine grace to our souls. Now by this expression are intended, 1. The discoveries and breakings forth of grace to those who are the objects of it: the river of God’s love ran under ground from eternity; so that those who are interested in it, and are the objects of it, know nothing of it, till it breaks forth in effectual vocation; when it comes pouring in unto them, like streams from Lebanon. 2. This expression may denote the rapidity, force, and power of divine grace; as the streams from Lebanon fall with great rapidity:583583Roizountov apo tou Abianou, Sept. quae finunt impetu de Libano, V. L. Et impetus descendens a libano. Ambros. in Psal. cxviii, octon. 17. col. 1041. All agreeable to the accounts before given of those streams. grace comes like a mighty torrent, and carries all before it; throws down the strong holds of Satan, and is a match for the corruption of nature; for when this works, nothing can let; all mountains become a plain; all obstacles and impediments are removed out of the way; and nothing can stand before it, when the exceeding greatness of its power is exerted; it is irresistible, invincible, end always victorious. 3. This phrase maybe expressive of the abundance of grace which flows from Christ: there are aboundings of sin in our nature; but grace, streaming from Christ, abounds overall; where sin abounded, says the apostle, Romans 5:20 “grace did much more abound;” it flows into, and it overflows in a believer’s heart; the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant, uJperepleo<nekse, it abounded; yea, it superabounded with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus: there is an abundance of grace given forth to a single believer; how much then must it be that is given forth to them all! and how large that fullness which is in Christ! 4. Though this grace flows in abundance to poor sinners, yet it is in measure; grace is in Christ without measure, but in us in measure; it is in him as in a fountain, but is given forth to us in streams; and these streams should lead us to the fountain from whence they flow; for though we should rejoice in, and adore grace for the streams, yet we should not rest contented, without often going to the fountain itself. 5. The communications of grace are called streams, and said to be as streams from Lebanon, because they are exceeding grateful and delightful to souls; even as streams of water were in those hot countries: the streams which flow in this river of divine grace make glad the city of God; a spring of water to a thirsty traveler in the Arabian deserts, cannot be more welcome and delightful than the discoveries of grace, those streams from Lebanon, are to a believing soul; and therefore Christ is said to be “as rivers of water in a dry place, anal as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land,” Isaiah 32:2. 6. It intends the continued supplies of grace to believers: grace is always running, streaming, flowing to them; could rue communications of grace be stopped, were those streams from Lebanon to cease; they would soon be in an empty, miserable, and wretched state and condition; but this “river of the water of life is proceeding out of the throne of God and of the lamb;” it ever did, and so it does still, and ever shall; “my God will supply all your need,” (etc., Phil. 4:19). 7. It intimates unto us the freeness of it; it is like the streams from Lebanon; it runs freely; whosoever will, may come and take of this water of lit e freely. The first of these expressions in the text, denotes the fullness of grace in Christ; the second, the perpetuity and inexhaustibleness of it; and this third, the exceeding freeness of it.
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