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Chapter 4 Verse 16a
Awake, O north wind, and come thou south, blow
upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.—
having taken notice of the fruitfulness of his garden, the church, in verse 12-14, and she, in verse 15, having acknowledged that it was all owing to himself, who is the fountain of gardens; he, in this verse, that nothing may be wanting to continue and increase the fruitfulness thereof, calls to the north and south winds, the one to awake, and the other to “come and blow upon his garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.” The reason why I take these words to be the words of Christ, and not of the church, as some,584584Coceius, Marckius, Michaelis. are, 1. Because the language seems best to suit with him; who has created the winds, and gathered them in his fist, and holds them there; who opens his hand and lets them loose, and can and does recall them at his pleasure; Who has his storehouse and magazines of them, and, when he pleases, brings them forth out of his treasures; who, in the days of his flesh, gave a surprising instance of his power over them, in rebuking the wind and sea, and commanding a calm, when the disciples, with others, were in imminent danger; which occasioned the men to say, “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him!” he can shut up and let loose the winds, when he thinks fit; he has them at his command, and uses them as he pleases; so that it may be truly said of him, what the heathen poet585585Ovid. Metamorph. 1. 1. fab 7. said of his Jove:
AEoliis aquilonem claudit in antris,
Emittitque notum ; madidis notus evolat alis.
2. It does not appear so agreeable that the church should petition Christ to let loose the north wind upon her; especially, if by it we understand, as I think we must, some rough dispensation of providence, as afflictions, temptations, etc., which though Christ knows they are wholesome and useful to his people, and he makes them so, and therefore in his wisdom and grace sends them; yet they are not desirable to the saints; they do not pray for them. 3. The person here speaking, claims a right and property in this garden, on which the south wind, is to blow. Now the church is not her own garden, but Christ’s, as she in the following part of the verse acknowledges; therefore it appears to be Christ who here speaks, and says, “blow upon my garden.” Taking them then to be his words, I shall now consider what he says. And,
I.He calls to the norm wind to awake, “Awake, O north wind.” Which some586586Foliot, Sanctius, & Tig. not in loc. so Ambrose, in Psal. 1:5. p. 686. Theodoret in loc.& Tres Patres apud ibid. understand as a command, to remove and be gone, and blow no longer upon his garden: in Psalm 107:25 we read that God commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind; it is in the Hebrew text, dm[yw “and causeth the stormy wind to stand;” so that the raising of the wind, and continuing it, in that language was called a causing it to stand; and perhaps a recalling it was, as here, called an awaking or raising it up, in order to be gone: and there are some reasons which may be alleged why it may be supposed that it was not the design of Christ, that the north wind should blow, but rather that it should not, 1. Because it was now spring time; “the wither was past, the rain was over and gone; the flowers appeared in the earth, the fig-tree put forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes gave a good smell.” Chapter 2:11-13, and therefore it was time for the north wind to cease blowing. 2. It being a cold and nipping wind, would be hurtful and injurious to the plants in his garden, mentioned in verses 13,14, and therefore it may be supposed that he would not have it blow. 3. The verb yjwph blow, is in the singular number, and seems to be only in construction with the south wind; and therefore is alone ordered to blow, and not the north wind. 4. Winds diametrically opposite to each other587587Aristot. Meteorolog. 50:2. c. 6. , as the north and south be, cannot blow together under one and the same horizon with a continued blast; for if they blow with equal force, they will hinder each other from blowing freely; and if one is more powerful than the other, the weaker will be obliged to join the other, or else subside; though winds contrary may blow together obliquely and sideways; but the more oblique they are, the greater tempest they raise, which cannot be supposed to be Christ’s design here: and now, when he orders the north wind to awake, arise, and be gone, he intends every thing that may be noxious, hurtful, and injurious to his garden. Though others think the meaning of this phrase, “Awake, O north wind,” is, arise, exert thyself, and blow, together with the south wind, upon my garden; and so the Jewish writers think,588588R. Sol. Jarchi, & R. Aben Ezra, & Yalcut in foe, , that both winds are designed to blow. The north wind, though a cold and nipping wind, yet Pliny says589589Lib, 2, c. 47. , that it is the most wholesome wind that blows: and the scripture informs us, that though out of the north comes forth the cold; yet also from it proceeds fair weather; (Job 37:9-22) and Solomon tells us, that the north-wind drives away rain (Prov. 25:23), and then by the north wind, as I hinted before, we may understand rough dispensations of providence, as temptations, afflictions, etc. which Christ is pleased to suffer to come upon his people, and which he brings them under, for their good and his glory: and this shews, (1.) That none of these things come upon the saints without Christ’s knowledge, permission, or appointment; there is not a wind blows upon them without his will and order: afflictions do not come out of the dust, nor trouble spring out of the ground, but are sent from heaven to the saints as covenant mercies; no temptation comes upon them, but what is common to man; and Christ takes care that they are not tempted above that they are able to bear, and in his own way and time gives them deliverance from it. (2.) These are all for their good; it is, if need be, they are in heaviness through manifold temptations; all adverse and rough dispensations of providence, all afflictions, work together for their good; they are all in mercy to them, otherwise he that holds the wind in his fist, would not suffer the blustering north wind to blow upon them. (3.) They serve to make the spices flow out; that is, they are useful for the trial, exercise, and increase of grace; tribulation works patience, and patience experience, and experience hope; that is, tribulation exercises and tries these graces, and makes them to appear more bright and glorious: the manifold temptations the saints are attended with, are suffered to come upon them, “that the trial of their faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honor, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ,” (1 Peter 1:6, 7).
II.He calls to the south wind, to come and blow upon his garden. The church is compared to a garden, in verse 12, and why it is so, has been there shewn. Here Christ claims a property in it; and it is his, 1. By choice; he chose this spot of ground, and preferred it to all others, for this purpose and use. 2. By gift; he asked it of his Father, and he gave it to him; “thine they were, and thou gavest them me,” (John 17:6). 3. By purchase; he has bought it, and at a clear rate; not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the invaluable price of his own precious blood. 4. By his powerful and efficacious grace, has distinguished and separated it from the wilderness of this world. 5. He uses it as his own; he purchased and set it apart for his own use and recreation, and here delights to walk;” he is frequently to be found, seen, and heard of here: and this being his own garden, which he himself chose, his Father gave him, which he has purchased with his own blood, distinguished by his grace, and where he delights to take his walks; he therefore calls upon the south wind to blow upon it. And by the south wind, and blowing of it, I apprehend, is intended the Spirit of God, in his powerful operations, and special influences of grace, in and upon the hearts of God’s people; and shall now consider how he may be compared,
First, To the wind in general. The Spirit of God bears the same name, and several of the properties thereof are applicable to him. 1. The wind, as our Lord says, John 3:8, bloweth where it listeth; the Spirit of God is a free agent; he works how and where he pleaseth; he acts freely in the first application of grace to a poor sinner; and so he does in all the after actings, operations and influences of it, as well as in the donation of those gifts, which he bestows upon men for different purposes; for though there “are diversities of gifts, differences of administrations, and diversities of operations; yet all these worketh that one and the self-same spirit; dividing to every one severally as he will,” (1 Cor12:4-11). 2. The wind blows imperceptibly; thou hearest, as Christ says in the above-mentioned place, “the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; and so is every one that is born of the Spirit:” the workings of the Spirit of God in regeneration are invisible and imperceptible to the natural man; he can no more discern the Spirit’s grace, than he can see the wind when it blows; he can no more tell from whence this grace comes, and how it is acted, than he can point at the treasures of wind, and tell from whence they take their rise, and why they blow sometimes one way and sometimes another; why sometimes only in a gentle breeze, and at other times rise to violent storms; why sometimes their drive on in a direct line, and at other times have a circular motion: and as he cannot account for these things, no more can he for the operations of the Spirit; for he neither knows his person nor his grace. 3. It blows powerfully and irresistibly; there is no stopping of it; it blows when, where, and how it listeth, for any thing that man can do; none but he who has created the winds, and gathered them in his fist, can rule them at pleasure; and, when he lets them loose, and gives them a command, they carry all before them; throw down houses, pluck up trees by the roots, rend the mountains, and break the rocks in pieces; for which reason the Spirit of God is compared to “a mighty rushing wind,” (Acts 2:2), which filled the house in which the disciples were, on the day of Pentecost, and filled them with extraordinary gifts: the Spirit of God, in his mighty operations of grace upon a sinner’s heart, carries all before him; there is no withstanding his grace and power; he throws down Satan’s strong holds, and demolishes the fortifications of sin; all mountains become a plain before him; and the whole posse of hell, and the corruption of a man’s heart, are not a match for him; for when he works, none can let: he has conquered the hearts of the vilest and most notorious sinners; such as a Manasseh, a Mary Magdalene, and a persecuting Saul; there is no resisting his grace and the power of it, nor holding of his almighty arm. 4. The wind is of a purifying nature, therefore some call it nature’s fan; it clears the air of infectious and noxious vapors; we are scarce sensible how much our health is owing to it; for without this, the air would soon be stagnated, and quickly destroy the life both of man and beast: the Spirit of God purifies our hearts by faith; width he does by leading it to the blood of Jesus, which cleanseth from all sin; and by sprinkling it upon our consciences, whereby they are purged from dead works; these dead weights and heavy clogs, which hinder us in serving the living God. 5. It is of a piercing and searching nature; it penetrates into every hole and cranny: the Spirit of God searches, not only the deep things of God, but the deep things of man also; what is said (Prov. 20:27), of the spirit of man, may in a higher sense be said of the Spirit of God, that it is “the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly; it penetrates into the utmost recesses of a man’s heart, and discovers those hidden swarms of corruption, which before lay indiscernible; it pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is both a discerner and revealer of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 6. It is of a cooling nature; so is the Spirit of God, in his operations of grace upon a sinner’s heart; which is often enflamed with wrath, through the workings of a fiery law, and the injections of Satan’s fiery darts; the heat of which he allays, by acting as comforter, and as the spirit of promise, bringing home and applying to the conscience of the distressed sinner, the exceeding great and precious promises of the gospel, which cool and refresh, by removing wrath and terror from thence.
Secondly, He may be compared to the south-wind in particular, 1. Because it blows warmly, brings heat with it, breaks up frosts, and thaws the ice; “when ye see the south-wind blow,” says Christ, (Luke 12:55), “ye say there will be heat, and it cometh to pass:” so the Spirit of God brings heat along with him to the cold heart of a sinner, “dead an trespasses and sins;” and by the mighty influence of his grace, thaws and melts his hard and frozen soul; and with his soul-warming gales, and comfortable discoveries of love, warms, enlivens, comforts and refreshes the saint, when in a cold lifeless and uncomfortable frame. 2. It brings serenity along with it: it is not a blustering and tempestuous wind, as the north-wind is; but is still, gentle and quiet; blows softly as Elihu said to Job 37:17. “Dost thou know how thy garments are warm, when he quieteth the earth by the south-wind? the Spirit of God brings peace unto, and commands quietness in the heart of a distressed sinner, where were nothing before but storms and tempests: the fruit of the Spirit is peace, a conscience peace, “a peace that passeth all understanding;” which he works in the sinner’s heart, by leading him to the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ. 3. It is very fructifying; by its warmth, together with the sun, it loosens the trees, and causes the sap to flow, which was congealed by the cold, and clothes them with leaves, flowers and fruit: the Spirit of God, by his mighty grace and special influence, makes souls fruitful in every good word and work. 4. The south-wind usually brings rain, hence it is called nubilus auster;590590Ovid. Metamorph. 1. 11. 5:663. Fluvioque madescit ab austro, Ibid. 1. 1. fab. 2. Pluvialibus austria, Virgil Georgic. 50:3. 5:429, and therefore the poet represents it as flying, cum madidis alis, with wet and moistened wings. Pliny591591Lib. 2. c. 47. says, it produces greater flood; than others do; which suits well with Junius’s version, who renders the next clause thus, “let the waters flow through the spices thereof:”592592Perfluant aquae aromata cjus, Junius, the Spirit of God blows, and causes the floods of grace to rise; which, running about the several plants in the garden, makes them fruitful.
Thirdly, According to the mind of some Expositors593593Diodat. & Durham in loc., , the Spirit of God is intended by both winds, the north and south; and that, 1. On the account of his different operations; for which reason we read of “ the seven spirits” of God, (Rev. 1:4), not that there are so many distinct spirits personally existing; but by them are intended the variety and perfection of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit of God, who works them in, and bestows them on whom he will. 2. If the Spirit is intended by both winds, it may be expressive of the usual order of the Spirit in his operations: he is first as the north-wind, sharp and knipping: and then as the south-wind, warm and refreshing; he first acts the part of a convincer, and then that of a comforter; he first kills, and then makes alive; wounds, and than he heals; he humbles souls, and makes them low in their own eyes, and then exalts them: he brings them “into the wilderness,” and then “speaks comfortably to them.” 3. It may shew that Christ’s garden stands in need of both winds: that the saints sometimes need the Spirit as a reprover, to bring them to a sense of themselves; as well as a comforter, to relieve them under their distresses: the cold and nipping north-wind, as well as the warm and comfortable south-wind. 4. Both winds are called upon, and that to cause the spices to flow out, that the odor of them may be spread far and near, that it might be carried from pole to pole, even all the world over. Now when Christ is here represented, saying to the Spirit, “come and blow upon my garden;” it must be understood of him as mediator, calling unto, and as it were demanding of the Spirit to do his work assigned him in the church which does not suppose any inferiority in the Spirit to Christ for all the three persons having jointly agreed in the everlasting council and covenant of peace, to take their several distinct parts in man’s salvation; and the Father having distinguished this spot of ground, this garden, by his grace; and Christ having purchased it by his blood; and the Spirit having planted it with precious plants, herbs and spices; Christ calls upon him, by virtue of this former agreement, to do the remaining part of his work (see John 14:16, 16:7), to blow upon his garden, that it may grow and flourish, and the sweet smell of these spices be carried far and near. Which brings me to consider,
III.The reason why he would have the south-wind blow upon his garden; and that is, “that the spices may flow out;” might emit a fragrant smell: though Virgil594594Floribus austrum perditus, Bucolic. eclog. 2; 5:58. Velut primos expiraturus ad austros—flos, Statii Sy1v. 1. 2. ode 1. 5:106. represents the south-wind as hurtful to flowers, so it might be in Italy, where it dried them up, as Severius on the place observes; and yet be useful to them in Palestine, where it blew from the sea, by which the south is sometimes called (Ps. 107:3). Now by spices, we must understand the graces of believers; which, like spices, are rare, excellent, precious, sweet and odorous, especially to Christ Jesus, by whom they are preferred to all spices: and the “flowing out” of them intend, either, 1. The exercise of them: grace is not always in exercise, but is like flowers, shut up; or like plants, herbs and fruits, which seem to be withering; or like coals covered with ashes, that want to be “stirred up”595595Verbum ajnazwpurei~n, significat ignem cineribus tectura excitare, sopitam favillam in flammam proferre, Aretius in 2 Timothy 1:6. 1 or blown upon, as in 2 Timothy 1:6, but this believers are not capable of doing themselves; for they can no more exercise grace, than they can work it of themselves: Christ knew full well, that this is the Spirit’s work; therefore he calls upon him to blow, and thereby open these flowers, revive these plants, and blow off the ashes from these coals, and draw forth grace into exercise upon himself, the proper object of it. Or, 2. The evidence and shewing forth of it to others: Christ would not only have grace in the hearts of his people, but would have it exert and shew itself in the life and conversation; he would have these “lights shine before men,” and this grace appear, not only to himself but to others. Or, 3. The increase of grace: that these herbs and plants might be fruitful, the spices smell, and the whole garden be in a flourishing condition; in short, that the Spirit would be ripening and bringing to maturity grace in the souls of believers, and finish what he had begun there. Or else, 4. The diffusive odor of them: that their, graces might emit such a sweet odor, both to himself and others, as a garden does, when, after a delightful shower of rain, the wind gently blows upon it. Which request, or rather demand of his, no doubt was answered, as appears from the following words.\
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