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Chapter 5 Verse 16a
Former part. His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely.
these words we have,
I.The tenth and last particular instance of Christ’s beauty, or distinguishing character of him, whereby he might be known from all other beloveds; “his mouth is most sweet,” or “sweetnesses.”
II.A comprehensive summary of all his excellencies and glories; “yea, he is altogether lovely.”
I.She here describes him by his mouth, which, she says, is most sweet735735So this phrase is used of lovers by Solon, in Plutarch, in Erotica. p. 751. and in Aprilrli Apolog. p. 192.etc. Theocrit Idyll g. 5:82. ; yea, sweetness itself, and that in the highest degree of it; sweetnesses, as the word may be rendered736736µyqtmm dulcedines, Pagninus, Montanus, Marckius, Michaelis. . And by Christ’s mouth here may be meant, either,
1st, The words of his mouth737737So the Targum and R. Solomon Jarchi in loc. . In this sense is the word used, in Proverbs 5:3 and 8:7, and by them may be meant, the “doctrines of the gospel;” which are “the gracious words” that proceed out of Christ’s mouth; and are sweet to believer’s taste, administer spiritual refreshment to his soul, and are preferred by him to his “necessary food:” likewise the precious promises” of it are the words of Christ’s mouth; which, if ever spoke to any purpose to a believer, they are spoke by Christ; and when they are so, they are exceeding sweet, and fill the soul with an unspeakable satisfaction. The kind invitations of the gospel also are not to be excluded, such as Isaiah 55:1; Matthew 11:28; Revelation 22:17, which manifestly speak out the love and grace of Christ to sinners; and when applied with power by the blessed Spirit, are exceeding sweet, comfortable, and refreshing to the consciences of distressed sinners. Moreover, the comforts which Christ speaks to his people, either by his Spirit or by his ministers, may be included here; as well as his commands, which also are the words of his mouth, which he has enjoined us the observation of, and which are no ways grievous, but joyous to a believer; especially when he has the presence of Christ, the discoveries of his love, and is under the influences of the Spirit of grace, whilst he is engaged in acts of obedience to them: these “statutes and judgments of the Lord,” as they are right and just in themselves, so they are to believers “more to be desired than gold, yea, than fine gold; sweeter also than the honey or the honey-comb;” for such is the grace of Christ, that what he has made the believer’s duty, he also has made his privilege; and hence it is, that all wisdom’s ways are “ways of pleasantness” to him, and the words of Christ’s mouth are carefully regarded by him. Or,
2dly, The kisses of Christ’s mouth may be here intended, or the sensible manifestations of his love and grace to souls, which are what the church earnestly desired, in chapter 1:2, than which nothing can be more delightful to the saints: these give them more pleasure and satisfaction than all the things this world can afford; but both these seem to be intended before, namely, the words of his mouth by his lips, and the manifestations of his love by his cheeks; and therefore perhaps something different from these is designed here. And,
3dly, Some738738Greg. Myssen. in Cant. Homil. 14. think, that Christ’s voice in his ministers is here meant; this is net omitted in that glorious description of Christ which John gives, in Revelation 1, and which bears some resemblance to this, and is there said to be as the sound of many waters: now if it is not intended here, it does not appear in this whole description; and whether the word be translated, “the throat, mouth,” or “roof of the mouth,” as it may be either, they are all the instruments of the voice, and so may be expressive of it: moreover, nothing is more common with lovers, than to admire each other’s voice; Christ was takes with the church’s voice, and therefore desired to hear it, in chapter 2:14, saying, “Let me hear thy voice—for sweet is thy voice;” and no wonder then that the church should admire Christ’s voice, and that it. should make such sweet music in her ears, as it seems from hence it did; his mouth or voice is most sweet; I am charmed with it: and so would you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, did ye but hear it.
The voice of the law is harsh and unpleasant; it pronounces guilty, curses and condemns; it is a voice of wrath and terror; it is a soul-cutting and soul-killing one; it is a voice of words, and of words that are not grateful; and therefore those who had once heard it, entreated that it might not be spoken to them any more: but the voice of Christ in the gospel is exceeding sweet, delightful and alluring; and no wonder it is so, for it is a voice of love, grace and mercy; it speaks peace and pardon, and brings the agreeable news of life and salvation by Christ to lost sinners; it is also the voice of the church’s beloved, of him whom she loves with all her heart and soul, and therefore must needs be sweet unto her; it is what she is well acquainted with, perfectly knows, and can distinguish from a stranger’s; nor is she ever more delighted than when under the sound of it; hence, in chapter 8:13, she says, as it is commonly understood, “O thou that dwellest in the gardens? where the companions hearken to thy voice,” and are charmed and ravished with those warbling notes of thine, cause me also to hear it; for no concert of music whatever is equal to it.
4thly, The word translated mouth, may be rendered taste, as it is in chapter 2:3, or rather, “the palate or roof of the mouth,” which is the instrument of tasting, as it is in chapter 7:9, and as the roof of the church’s mouth is there commended by Christ, why may not the roof of Christ’s mouth be here commended by the church? Christ has a palate or taste, that, as Job says, chapter 6:30, can discern perverse things; distinguish between the precious and the vile, knows the difference between the good and bad, and can tell what food is best for his people, and what a portion of it is necessary for them; and therefore gives to every one of them their portion of meat in due season: he has a taste that disrelishes all carnal and earthly things, even in his own people, as well as others; that savors nothing but what is spiritual; a believer being a compound of flesh and spirit, the spiritual part of him savors the things of the spirit, and the carnal part the things of the flesh; but Christ having no flesh, no carnal part in him, savors nothing but the things of the spirit: hence he provides no food for his people but what is wholesome in itself, and savory to them; and they may very safely eat of it, when Christ, whose taste is most sweet, has prepared it for them, set it before them, and bid them welcome; nay more, he himself sits at the table, and sups with them, and they with him. And, “his taste is most sweet,” that is, the taste of him is so; “Come, taste and see,” says the Psalmist (Ps. 34:8), “that the Lord is good;” and every regenerate soul finds him so: Christ, and all of Christ, is sweet to a believer’s taste, his person, grace, and righteousness; what he is in himself, and what he has done for his people, are all so; and hence the church could say, in chapter 2:3, by good experience, his fruit was sweet unto my taste. Or else,
5thly, and lastly, By Christ’s mouth may be meant, the breath of his mouth739739So Sanctius in loc. : which being most sweet, wonderfully recommends him to the church’s lave and affection. Job’s breath was strange to his wife; but Christ is sweet to his people, nay, sweetness itself; and by it we may understand, either, 1. The expressions of Christ’s love to his people: wicked men breathe out threatenings, cruelty, ruin, and destruction to God’s children; but Christ breathes out nothing but love, grace and mercy: fury is not in him, but mercy is; for with the Lord is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption; it is true, “the breath of the Lord is like a stream of brimstone,” even an overflowing stream to destroy the wicked for with the breath of his lips shall he slay them; but it is like an overflowing stream of love, grace and mercy, which abounds and super-abounds towards his people in their everlasting salvation. Or, 2. It may be understood of Christ’s mediation: the prayers of believers are called their breathing , in Lamentations 3:36. Christ’s prayers, mediation and intercession, upon the account of his people, may bear the same name. Now this is most sweet, and is therefore compared to incense; it is sweet and acceptable unto God, and what sweetens and perfumes the saints sacrifices of prayer and praise; and hence it is, that the prayers of the saints are called odors (see Rev. 5:8, 8:3, 4). Though, 3. A late writer740740Bishop Patrick in loc. thinks, that this may as well be referred to Christ’s breathing upon his apostles, when he bid them receive the Holy Ghost; which was one of the finishing actions of his life on earth, as this is the finishing part of his description here: and indeed, Christ’s breathing the gifts and graces of his Holy Spirit upon his apostles then, mad upon his churches and ministers in all ages since, he having the fullness of it with him, renders him exceeding amiable and lovely to them.
II.She sums up the whole character, and doses the description of him, in saying, “Yea, he is altogether lovely; or, he is all desire”741741µydmjm wlkw kai olov epiqumia. Sept totus ipse desideria, Mercetus, Montanus, Marckius; totus desiderabilis, Vulg. Lat. version, Cocceius, , as the Septuagint read it; or, “all desires,” as it is in the Hebrew text: he is exceeding desirable to believers; there is none in heaven or in earth they desire besides him; and one of the characters which he was known by, under the Old Testament, was, “the desire of all nations. And now what makes him so desirable to the church and to all believers, are, The divine excellencies and perfections which appear in his person; for “ in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily: there is no perfection or excellency in the Deity, but what may be found in Christ; and if so, there can be nothing that is excellent in any creature, either in heaven or earth, but what is eminently so in him; and therefore he must needs be a desirable person. 2. The mediatorial qualifications he is possessed of; he has a fullness of the gifts and graces of the Spirit in him, which qualify him as man end mediator for his office; he has a fullness of fitness for it, and a fullness of abilities to carry him through it; which render him a suitable and a desirable high-priest unto us. 3. The fullness of grace, life and salvation in him, makes him altogether desirable to souls; when they can see nothing in themselves, and all in Christ, an emptiness in the creature, and a fullness in him; that it is in vain to expect salvation elsewhere; but that there is enough in him to answer all their wants, present and future; every thing that will make them comfortable here, and happy hereafter; how can he be otherwise than exceeding desirable to them? 4. His agreeable carriage and deportment towards souls render him so; which is so wise and prudent, so loving, tender and compassionate, so week and humble, so courteous and affable, and attended with such an air of familiarity; that it at once fixes our eyes upon him, attracts our affections to him, and makes him all desires unto us. 5. The names and titles which he bears: he has a name that is above every name, which awes and commands our fear, being full of majesty; and he has a name which draws our love, being full of sweetness, which is that sweet and precious name Jesus; which is as ointment poured forth, and therefore do the virgins love him; and so are all those names which are given him, in Isaiah 9:6. 6. The characters he bears, and the relations he stands in to his people, make him exceeding desirable to them; and indeed, how can he be otherwise than so unto them, when he stands in the relations, and bears the characters of a tender husband, an indulgent father, a loving brother, and a faithful friend? He is all things to them742742Omnia Caesar erat, Lucan. Pharsal. 1. 3. 5:108. id unum dixero, quam ille omnibus omnia fuerit, Paterculus, 1. 2. kai sunteleia logwn to pan evin auto, Ecclesiast. c. 43. 29. , even all in all.
Again, if we read the words as they are translated in our bibles, “he is altogether lovely,” we may observe, 1. That Christ, and all of Christ, is lovely to believers; he is so in his person, in all his offices, in his people, and in his ordinances; nay, the worst of Christ, or what may seem the most scaring and frightful to others, is lovely to the saints; as the cross of Christ, reproaches and sufferings on his account; for tho’ they are not lovely in themselves, yet they are for his sake; and are therefore preferred by believers to the pleasures of sin, and profits of this world (see Heb. 11:25, 26). 2. That there is a perfect loveliness in Christ, every thing in him is lovely, and there is nothing lovely but what is in him; he is comprehensively so: if the church is a perfection of beauty, and is perfectly comely, “through the comeliness” which Christ has put upon her; he must needs be so from whom she has it, even “altogether lovely.” 3. That he is so to all: he is lovely to his Father, as he is his own Son, the dear son of his love; and as he is man and mediator, engaged in our cause, as having assumed our nature, and obtained eternal redemption for us; he is so to all the holt angels, many of whom descended at his incarnation, and sang his praise, ministered to him in his state of humiliation, attended on him when tempted in the wilderness, and when in his agonies in the garden; and gazed with wonder and delight upon his glorious person, as they accompanied him in his ascension to glory: hence this is said to be one branch of the “great mystery of godliness,” that God, who was “manifest in the flesh, was seen of angels,” and appeared lovely to them: and so he is to all the saints, for “to them that believe, he is precious;” and indeed he is so to all but Christless sinners; who see no beauty, form nor comeliness in him, wherefore they should desire him. 4. As Christ is lovely in himself, and lovely to all others, so it is he that makes all the saints lovely to God: there is nothing in them, nor done by them, that can make them grateful to him; they are only accepted with him “in the beloved;” he is pleased with Christ and his righteousness, and with them as considered therein: he must needs be lovely, yea, “altogether lovely,” that makes all the saints lovely too.
Now the church having given such an ample description of her beloved to the daughters of Jerusalem, they might from henceforward cease to wonder, why she, who was “the fairest among women,” was so deeply fallen in love with Christ; why she made such a stir about him, was so much concerned at his absence, was so diligent in her search of him, and gave them so strict a charge concerning him; as well as they need not now be any longer at a loss to know who and what he was, he having given such distinguishing characters of him; and having done this, she closes all with claiming an interest in him, and appropriates him to her own soul, in the latter part of this verse; she having a clear sight of him, and her faith more strengthened in him.
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