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Chapter 8 Verse 14
haste, my beloved and be thou like to a roe or
to a young hart, upon the mountains of spices.
are the words of the church, earnestly imploring the presence of Christ. She begins and ends this song; and in both signifies her great affection to him, how much she valued his company, and how desirous she was of it: this appears throughout the whole song to lie uppermost in her heart, affections and desires; she had had much nearness of access to Christ, and much communion with him, as appears from this chapter, and yet she wants more; she cannot be easy without the everlasting enjoyment of him on the mountains of apices. In the words may be considered,
I.The title she gives him; “my beloved.”
II.The request she makes to him; “make haste,” etc.
I.The title she gives him, is, “my beloved;” and is what she had often given him in this song: she seems to take delight in using it; in which she expresses her love and affection to him, with the continuance of it; she acknowledges that he was her beloved still; she claims her interest in him, a comfortable sense of which she now enjoyed; hereby she also distinguishes him from all other beloveds, and shows that she was not ashamed to own him as such; as indeed she had no reason; and perhaps she may have a particular view in giving him this title here, which is to improve her interest in him, as a motive or argument to obtain her request; for such suits that are founded upon the near relation which souls bear to Christ, seldom miss of succeeding. But having more largely explained this character elsewhere, I shall not insist longer upon it; but proceed,
II.To consider the request she makes: which may be regarded, either, 1. As a passionate wish for the incarnation of Christ, that he would speedily come and appear on mount Zion, and in the temple where the sacrifices were offered up, and the sweet-smelling incense ascended, which were both typical of his sacrifice and mediation; nothing was more desirable or more importunately prayed for, or more impatiently longed for by the Old Testament-church than this was, and yet nothing more slighted than it was, when brought about. 2. It may be understood as the desire of the church after the spiritual presence of Christ, in his house, and upon the mountains of Zion, where he commands his blessing, even life forevermore: nothing is more satisfying to believers than Christ’s presence; it is preferred by them to all the enjoyments of life; if thy presence go not with me, says Moses (Ex. 33:15), carry “us not up hence;” this puts joy and gladness into the souls of God’s people, more than when corn and wine increase; they are oftentimes impatient without it, pant for it, as the hart panteth after the water-brooks; for as his absence is death unto them, so his presence is life; this fills their hearts with comfort, diffuses an universal pleasure throughout their souls; banishes their doubts and fears, supports them under all the pressures, sorrows and afflictions of the; sets them above the fears of death, and makes them that they can look into another world, and an awful eternity, with the utmost satisfaction and serenity of mind; so that it is no wonder that Christ’s gracious presence should be so desirable to saints: besides, there was good reason for the church to make such a request here; seeing he had, in the preceding verse, enjoined her to cause him to hear her voice; that is, to preach his gospel, set forth the glory of his person, and open the treasure of grace to souls; which to perform aright, she knew that she was unable of herself; for who indeed is sufficient for these things? for even those who are furnished with the greatest gifts and largest capacities for such a work, are yet insufficient to think any thing as of themselves, much less to go through so great a work; but their sufficiency is of God; and therefore the church here desires the presence of Christ with her, and that speedily, in order to do it: it is as if she should say, I am very willing to be found faithful and diligent in the discharge of this work, which thou hast called me to; but I am not able to perform it myself; do thou therefore hasten to my assistance, and grant me thy presence, “without which I can do nothing;” and this also Christ knows full well, and therefore he has promised his ministering servants to be with them always in their work, even unto the end of the world. Or else, 3. This petition of hers may regard the spreading of the gospel over all the nations of the world: the gospel shall not only be preached to all nations, but this precious box of ointment being opened, the savor of Christ’s knowledge shall be diffused in every place: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea, Isaiah 11:9, multitudes of souls shall be converted to Christ, and made subject to the scepter of his grace; those voices shall then be heard in heaven, that is, in the church below (Rev. 11:15), the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ: those nations which before were comparable to lions dens, and the mountains of the leopards, may now be called the mountains of spices, for their fragrancy and fruitfulness; on which Christ appears in his glory; the time being come that the prophecy should be fulfilled (Zech. 14:9), and the Lord shall be king over all the earth; in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one; what can be more desirable to the saints than this? no wonder the church should be so importunate in her request. Though, 4. I rather think, that she intends the second coming of Christ; as the Old Testament saints breathed after his first coming, so New Testament saints earnestly desire his second coming; they love it, they long for it, they pray for it; nay, as the apostle Peter says (2 Peter 3:12), they are hasting to it, that is, “they desire Christ to hasten it;” they do not care how soon that day comes; for though it will be awful and terrible to the wicked, yet it will be much to their profit and advantage; for Christ “will appear a second time without sin unto salvation:” his first appearance was “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” and with all the sins of his people charged upon him; for which he made satisfaction to justice, and thereby procured eternal salvation for them; but his next appearance will be without any sin at all, in any sense whatever, being fully discharged from all, as the head, surety and representative of his people; when he will put them into the actual possession of that salvation he before procured. Now it may be observed, that this is the last petition of the church’s; she closes the song with it, as John does his book of the Revelation; “surely I come quickly,” says Christ; “Amen,” says John, “even so come, Lord Jesus:” from whence we may observe, that the coming of Christ to take his people to himself, that where he is, there they may be also, is the completion of all believers prayers and joys; when this is obtained, they have no more to ask for, nor any more indeed do they want; it may be said of them then, what is said of David in the 72d Psalm; which whole Psalm regards the glory and peace of Christ’s everlasting kingdom; “the prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended;” that is, all his wishes are granted, and his requests fulfilled, when this is effected. But now let us consider a little more particularly the several phrases, by which the church expresses her desire for the coming of Christ. And,
1st, She says, “Make haste, my beloved:” not that she desired him to come before the time appointed of the Father: for as there was a set time, which is called “the fullness of time,” which was agreed upon for Christ’s coming in the flesh; so there is a time fixed and determined, for his second coming; as the person, so “the day is appointed by God, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness;” though “of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son,” as he is man, “but the Father;” therefore it is both vain and sinful for persons curiously to inquire into it, and bold and daring to attempt the fixing of it; for “it is not for us to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power.” Now Christ will not come before, nor will he stay longer than this time appointed; and this his church knew; nor does she desire him to come sooner; yet could be glad to see those things accomplished which must precede it; such as the conversion of the Jews, and the bringing in the fullness of the Gentiles; all which the Lord will hasten, but it will be in “his own time:” nor does the church mean any other; but by using this expression, she signifies the earnestness of her desire to have this accomplished, being as it were impatient until it was done; her language is much like Sisera’s mother’s, who said concerning him, “Why is his chariot so long in coming? why tarry the wheels of his chariots?” Moreover it may be observed, that the word here translated, “make haste,” may be rendered, “flee away;”10371037jrb fuge, Sept. fuge, Vulgate Latin version, Pagninus, Montanus, Mercerus, Cocceius, Brightman; fugito, Tigurine version; accurre, Junias. the meaning of which is, not that the church desired to remove or depart from her; no, she valued his presence at another rate than to desire him to withdraw from her; those indeed who prefer their lusts, their pleasures, their profits, their swine before Christ, say, depart from us; but as for the church, when she has found him, she holds him fast, and will “not let him go:” so that when she desires him to “flee away,” something else must be understood; which is, that she being weary of a sinful and troublesome world, breathed after an everlasting rest with him upon the spicy mountains; and therefore she would have him remove from his garden below, where he was, and take her along with him to glory; where she might eternally enjoy him, without any disturbance or molestation.
2dly, She desires that he would be “like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of spices;” for what reasons Christ may be compared “to a roe or a young hart,” has been shown on chapter 2:9. Her meaning here is, that he would come quickly and speedily, and be as swift in his motion as the roe or young hart, and flee as swift as they;10381038Cervique fugaces, Virgil. Georgic. 50:3. prope finem. Vid. Plauti Paenulum, act. 3. sc. 1. 5:26,27 which run upon the mountains, and other high places, where they delight to skip and leap (see Hab. 3:19), and by these “mountains of spices,” we are not to understand mount Moriah, and the temple built upon it, as R. Solomon Jarchi interprets them; but rather, the mountains of Zion, or the several congregations and churches, where she desired his gracious presence until his second coming; which may be compared to mountains for their height and sublimity, being established and exalted above all others (Isa. 2:2), as well as for their permanence and immoveableness; for, “they that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which can never be removed, but abideth for ever,” Psalm 125:1, and may be called “mountains of spices,” because of those precious plants which grow there; and those fragrant cruces with which they abound; as well as those sweet-smelling sacrifices of prayer and praise, which are there offered up. Though I rather think, that the joys and glories of the heavenly state are here intended; where the church desires to have everlasting and uninterrupted communion with her beloved, and that speedily, if it was his will; where she should be on high, and out of the reach of every snare and every enemy; where she would be safe, secure and immove-able, and in the possession of pleasures that will never end. For, 1. These mountains may denote the height and sublimity of this happy state; It is above, it is an “inheritance reserved in heaven; a hope laid up there, a prize of the high calling of God Christ Jesus.” 2. May express the permanence and everlastingness thereof: it is a “city which hath foundations,” and these immoveable; it is a “building of God, eternal in the heavens;” these habitations are everlasting, from whence there never will be a remove. 3. May signify the exceeding pleasantness and delightfulness thereof: that state may well be represented by spicy mountains, seeing in the presence of Christ there “is fullness of joy, and at his right hand there are pleasures for evermore;” no wonder then that the church should so passionately wish for the enjoyment of this happiness; and close this song in the manner she does, saying, “Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of spices.”
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