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Chapter 4 Verse 16b
part Let my beloved come into his garden,
and eat his pleasant fruits.
north-wind being awaked, and the south-wind having blown upon Christ’s garden, the church, according to his order, the spices did flow out; her graces were stirred up, and begin now to exercise themselves; which causes her, before he had well done speaking, and made a stop, to break forth in these words, and earnestly desire his presence and company in his garden; so that in this one verse we have both Christ and his church speaking. In these words are to be considered,
I.A title or character she gives him; “my beloved.”
II.A request or invitation she makes him; to “come into his garden.”
III.Her end in it; to “eat his pleasant fruits.”
I.Here is a title or character which she gives him, “my beloved;” which, as it comes from her mouth, is expressive, 1. Of her love to him: he wag the object of her love, him whom her soul loved; and indeed how could she do otherwise than love so lovely a person, one who loved her so dearly, and had given such undeniable demonstrations of it? love, we usually say, begets love; and no wonder that Christ’s love should beget love in her, when we consider his person, the nature of his love, and how undeserving she was of it. 2. Of her faith, as to her interest in him; she could point him out, and distinguish him from all others, and had strength of faith enough, to claim him as hers; faith and love go together, they are twins; they are born together in a regenerate soul, and grow up together; when one is in exercise, usually the other is also; for “faith works by love.” 3. She makes use of this title as an argument to obtain her request, or make her invitations the more forcible: she who in this manner earnestly desires that he would come into his garden, was one who dearly loved him, stood nearly related to him, and had an interest both in his person and affections: arguments taken by the saints from their union and relation to Christ, and their interest in him, have very great influence upon him, and are not disregarded by him: David knew this, and therefore uses this way of speaking at the throne of grace, “I am thine”, says he, Psalm 119:94, ‘save me.”
II.Here is a request made, or an invitation given, by the church to Christ, to “come into his garden.” By the garden is meant the church; and why it is so called, has been shown on 5:12, and in what sense it is Christ’s, and how he came to have a right to it, and property in it, has been observed in the former part of this verse, where Christ claims it, and the church here owns it; he calls to the south-wind, and says, “ blow upon my garden ;” she here says, “let my beloved come into his garden:” believers are willing to acknowledge that all they have, or are, belong to Christ; that they are not their own, but “are bought with a price;” and therefore all they have and are, are for his use, and at his service; which they openly declare, and would have others take notice of, and therefore say (Ps. 100:3), “Know ye, that the Lord he is God; it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves;” that is, who hath re-made as: we are new creatures in Christ, and are his workmanship, and not our own; “we are his people,” in a way of special and covenant-grace; “and the sheep of his pasture,” whom he has taken the care and charge of, as the great shepherd; has laid down his life for, and feeds and leads into good pasture.
The next thing to be taken notice of, is, what is meant by Christ’s “coming into his garden.” There is a threefold coming of Christ, mentioned in the scripture.
1st, His coming in the flesh. This was what the Old Testament saints earnestly desired, prayed and longed for: it was not only the wish of David, but of the whole church; he spoke the language of all their hearts, when he said, Psalm 14:7. “O that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion!” This being long promised, and long expected, the faith of the saints sometimes grew weak and languid concerning it; therefore the promises which respected it, were frequently renewed and repeated, and the prophets bid to say, Isaiah 35:4, to them that were of a fearful heart, Fear not, be strong, your God will come and save you;” and when they by faith saw the time near at hand, and him approaching, they were filled with joy and exultation; hence it is said, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! behold thy king cometh unto thee,” (etc., Zech. 9:9), but this, I apprehend, is not intended in these words of the church.
2dly, There is his coming at the last day to judge the world, which is usually called his second coming; which is what the apostle intends, when he says, Hebrews 9:28. “Unto them that look for him, shall he appear the second time, without sin unto salvation.” The first time of his appearing in the flesh, though it was without sin of his own, yet not without the sins of his people; which were imputed to him, charged upon him, and he answered for them; but when he appears the second time, it shall be without them, they being already expiated and atoned for. He came the first time to obtain salvation for sinners, and will come the second time to put them into the full possession of it; and as the first coming of Christ was desired by the Old Testament saints; so this is desired by the New Testament saints; who, upon Christ’s saying, “surely I come quickly,” answer, “Amen, even so come, Lord Jesus:” it will fill the saints with wonder and joy; for he, when he comes, will be both glorified in them, and admired by them, though it will strike the wicked with dread and terror, and fill them with the utmost consternation; for his coming will be “in flaming fire, to take vengeance” on them. But neither is this, I think, she coming intended here. But,
3dly, There is a spiritual coming of Christ; which is, when he comes and pays a visit, grants his presence, manifests his love, discloses the secrets of his heart unto his people; which was what he promised his sorrowing disciples, when he was about to remove from them, and they were no longer to enjoy” his bodily presence; says he, John 14:18. “I will not leave you comfortless, ojrfanou>v, orphans or fatherless, I will come to you;” which promise Christ made good unto them, as he does to all his people at one time or another; for, says he, (John 14:23). “If any man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him:” that is, Father, Son, and Spirit, “and make our abode with him;” which is what the church desires here, that Christ would grant her his spiritual, gracious and comfortable presence, and that she might have more intimate communion with him. From whence we may observe, 1. That Christ is sometimes absent from his church and people: He does not always manifest himself unto them; he sometimes hides his face, withdraws his presence, and seems to stand at a distance from them; he is sometimes Deus absconditus, the hidden God; he was so to the Jews in the days of his flesh, and he is so sometimes to his own flesh for “he hideth his face from the house of Jacob;” his own church and people, for whom he has the greatest love and regard: not that Christ is ever really and wholly absent from his church; he is always in his garden; he has promised to be always with his people and ministers unto the end of the world, and his faithfulness stands engaged to make it good; but he does not always alike manifest himself unto them; they have not always alike views of his person, discoveries of his love, and enjoyments at his presence; which sometimes makes them say, with Job, “O that I were as in months past!” etc. nay, sometimes in their apprehensions he is entirely gone, which is the church’s case, in chapter 5:9, and such is their infirmity, and the strength of unbelief in them, that they are ready to say, He is gone, and will never return more; and therefore, as David did, read all that in the affirmative, which you will find in Psalm 77:7-9, though I do not think this to be the case of the church here; she seems not to be without the manifestation of Christ’s love, and enjoyments of his presence, being in such a fruitful state, the south-wind having blown upon her, her grace appearing to be in exercise, and she in a comfortable frame; though she wanted more nearness to him, more intimate communion and fellowship with him: believers never think themselves near enough to Christ, nor never wilt, till they are with him in glory: the highest enjoyment of Christ here below, though exceeding ravishing and delightful, falls short of giving full satisfaction; for still the soul desires more and greater: the apostle Paul, who had as much communion and fellowship with Christ, as perhaps ever any man had on earth; and yet, when he had in view that eternal being with Christ hereafter, speaks as if he had never been with him here; all his communion with him here was nothing, when compared with that which he expected in another world, and therefore he had “a desire to depart, that he might he with Christ.” 2. From hence may be observed, that Christ’s presence is exceeding desirable to believers; this is the one thing they seek after, and cannot be easy without; which, when enjoyed, gives them the utmost pleasure, and fills them with inexpressible joy: and the reason why Christ’s company and presence is so desirable to them, is because he is nearly related to them; he is their beloved, their head and husband; they are “members of his body, his flesh, and of his bones;” he is their “all in all;” and when he is in the garden596596Vid. R. Sol. Jarchium in loc. , all they want, and all they desire is there; for there is none in heaven nor in earth with them comparable to him; his coming revives the plants and herbs, and makes them fruitful; it causes the spices to flow, grace to appear in exercise; it is like “the rain, and as the latter and former rain unto the earth:” also it is doing the saints the greatest honor; they have reason to say, Whence is this to us, that not “the mother of our Lord,” as Elizabeth said to Mary, but our Lord himself should come to us? and yet this honor have all the saints. Moreover, Christ’s coming is always beneficial to believers; he never comes empty-handed; he never pays a visit, but he brings something with him; he never sups with his people, but he is at the charge of the whole entertainment. Again, it is Christ’s presence that makes his garden, the church, an Eden of pleasure, a heaven on earth; which makes it a Bethel, and “the gate of heaven:” it is this which makes Christ’s tabernacles “amiable and lovely, his ways, ways of pleasantness, and his paths, paths of peace;” it is this which makes his “yoke easy? And his “burden light,” and all his commandments not to be grievous, but delightful; and when all this is considered, it is no wonder that believers are so desirous of Christ’s presence and company in his garden. 3. Hence it appears, that Christ’s granting his presence with his church, is an act of wonderful grace and condescension; and therefore she asks it as a favor of him; and a surprising instance of his grace it is, that he who is the high and lofty one, should vouchsafe his presence to such vile and unworthy creatures as we be. The Septuagint render it, “let him descend into his garden”597597Katabh>tw ei~v kh+pon ajutou, Sept. ; and, agreeable hereunto in chapter 6:2, he is said to be “gone down into his garden,” intending his wonderful condescension: Solomon, at the dedication of the temple, said, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth?” We have reason to say with Judas, not Iscariot, “Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not unto the world?” especially when, with the centurion, we consider, that we are not worthy that he should come under our roof.
III.The end of her making this request or invitation, is, that he might “eat his pleasant fruits:” in which may be considered, 1st, What these fruits are. 2dly, Whose they are. 3dly, That they are pleasant ones. And, 4thly, What is meant by eating them.
1st, What these fruits are. By fruits are meant, either the graces of the Spirit, which are called “the fruit of the spirit,” (Gal. 5:22), or else, the duties and services of God’s people, their good works, which are performed in the exercise of grace, believers are “trees of righteousness;” and the fruits which they bear are called “fruits of righteousness;” being by grace made good trees, they bring forth good fruit, and are said to be “ fruitful in every good work;” now these Christ is here invited to eat. The Targum expounds it of the offerings of the people, which God graciously accepted.
2dly, Whose fruit is this, is the next inquiry; and they are said to be his, that is, Christ’s: the garden is his, and all the fruit of it; only, as one598598Durham in loc. well observes, the weeds are hers; every thing else in the garden, that is either for service or pleasure, belongs to him. The graces of the Spirit are his, 1. He is the procurer and possessor of them; he obtained all grace for his church and people in the everlasting covenant; he then asked for it, and it was granted him and given to us in him, on condition of his performing certain articles then agreed upon; so that, as the glorious mediator of the covenant, he is “full of grace and truth, and from his fullness do saints receive grace for grace;” it is all lodged in his hands, and from thence given forth to us. 2. He is the author of all grace; he is said to be the author and finisher of faith; and as he is the author of that, so he is of all other grace; he gives it to us, and by his Spirit works it in us; he is the green fir-tree, from whom all our fruit is found, for otherwise we have none of ourselves. 3. He is the object of all grace, particularly faith, hope, and love; he is the person in whom we believe, trust and depend on for life and salvation; on whom our hope of glory is fixed, and to whom our love and affections are drawn; so that these fruits may be truly said to be his; also our duties, services, and good works, performed in the exercise of grace, are his; for, (1.) They are performed by virtue of union to him; and therefore the fruits of righteousness are said to be by Jesus Christ; and “as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine,” no more can any bear fruit, or perform good works aright, except they are engrafted and abide in Christ: he is the root which bears the branches, and from whence they receive sap and nourishment, which causes them to abound with fruit; “the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit,” says Solomon, 12:12. now the righteous man’s root is Christ. (2.) They are done, “not in their own strength, but in his;” for without him they can do nothing; it is he who works in them, both “to will and to do of his good pleasure;” therefore they ascribe all their works, duties and services to him; and say, as the apostle did, when he had asserted that he had labored more abundantly than the rest of the apostles, corrects himself thus, “yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (3.) They are designed for his honor and glory, when performed aright; they do not seek themselves, their own carnal interest, nor worldly applause, nor expect to merit any thing by them; but what they do, is in a way of obedience and gratitude to Christ, and that he in all things may be glorified; they are performed in his strength, and designed his use; and so are properly his; which being considered, destroys that notion which advances the merit of good works.
3dly, These fruits are said to be pleasant, that is, grateful, well-pleasing, and acceptable to Christ; so are the graces of the Spirit, especially when in exercise, as appears from verses 9,10, and so are the good works of his people, when performed in faith, from a principle of love to him, and are directed to his glory; the smallest services of his saints to him, and the least acts of charity to his, are acceptable to him, when performed in the exercise of grace; and he will take notice of them, and openly declare it one day before angels and men, how well pleased he is with them.
4thly, What is meant by eating them: and this intends Christ’s acceptation of them, and delight in them, as also his enjoyment of them; the phrase of eating and drinking being; with the Jews, expressive of enjoyment: and it also farther declares, the church’s acknowledgment of Christ being the owner of the garden; for who should eat of the fruits of it, but he who has planted it, and takes care of it, and to whom all the fruit belongs? Knowing it therefore to be so, she here invites him to his own; which invitation is not disregarded, but observed by him, as appears from the following words.
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