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'more than conquerors through him that 'loved us.'
In consequence of the fidelity required on the part of the church, idolatry, of every kind, is spiritual adultery, and as offensive to the Lord, as infidelity to the marriage bed must be to an affectionate husband. This is true, not only of idol worship, or the worship of improper objects; but also of all inordinate affection to the world and its enjoyments. So, 'covetousness is idolatry,' and as such, a species of spiritual adultery. Thus saith the Spirit to the angel of the church in Thyatira: 'I 'know thy works:-notwithstanding I have 'a few things against thee, because thou suf'ferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth 'herself a prophetess, to teach, and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornications, and she repented not. Behold I will cast her into a bed', and them that commit adultery 'with her, into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. From this passage, taken in connection with the context, it appears that heresy3 as well as idolatry is considered by the Head of the church as spiritual
A bed,' namely of sickness and affliction but the king's MS. reads as Quλenny, into prison.'
Rev. ii. 19-24.
By heresy, I understand such a deviation from the grand and fundamental truths of the gospel, as is inconsistent with Christian communion, and consequently forms a sect, which is the primitive idea of the word peris, heresy.
adultery, and as such resented and punished by him for it should seem, it is the heresy of the Gnostics, who penetrated the depths of Satan' and 'the doctrines concerning demons,* which are here particularly alluded to.
Having thus far considered the conjugal characters of Christ and the church, it is proper to enquire who are intended, mystically, by the virgins, the daughters of Jerusalem,' and 'the companions of the bridegroom.' Commentators seem divided on this subject; but we have a happy clue to our enquiry in an infallible expositor. When the dispute was agitated between the disciples of John and those of Jesus, why the former fasted, and not the other: Jesus calls his own disciples children of the bride-chamber',' which seems of the same import with companions of the bridegroom: These are introduced in two parts of the song in a manner corresponding to their office, which was to wait upon, and occasionally negotiate between the parties, as well as to partake of the marriage feast. John the Baptist assumes this character when he calls himself the friend of the bridegroom,' rejoicing to hear his voice. This character seems to answer then to the ministers of the gospel as we shall find what is said of them does to their office.
'The daughters of Jerusalem' are literally its inhabitants, and more particularly, the ladies of the palace, and the female attendants
on the Haram, or apartments of the women: but who are mystically intended, is a more difficult question.
That it cannot design mere hypocrites, which are always hateful in the sight of God, is, I think, sufficiently obvious from the manner in which they are introduced, and spoken of, as well as from their bearing the character of virgins who love the bridegroom. And yet it seems desireable to make some distinction between the bride and her attendants'. I should suppose therefore that the daughters of Jerusalem may intend young converts,' or such persons whose hearts are touched by divine grace, and attracted by the charms of piety and holiness; but not yet admitted into their full privileges as believers, nor enjoying that complete communion of established Christians. In this interpretation I meet the ideas of Dr. GILL, and the best spiritual expositors.
So much for the characters of this poem : our next enquiries should be directed to the time and scenery; avoiding as much as possible the use of terms which, though harmless in themselves, are profaned by their application. to a licentious theatre.
The time we have supposed to be the seven days which the Jewish weddings lasted; but these days are divided, in the manner of the Hebrews, into evening and morning, which
'It may be thought, that if the spouse intends the Jewish church, these virgins may be proselytes from the Gentiles: but then why call them daughters of Jerusalem? The daughters of a place are in scripture language its inhabitants. See Luke xxiii. 28.
scem sufficiently distinguished by internal marks, as I shall endeavour to shew in the sequel of this Commentary: but as the whole of this is matter of hypothesis, rather than absolute certainty, I have marked the periods only as distinct sections, adding the common divisions of chapter and verse, for the sake of reference, as in our common versions.
It is an important observation of Bp. PERCY', that the marriage festivals of the Hebrews began on the morning after the celebration of the nuptials, which always took place at night. Here therefore the Song begins; and this sufficiently accounts for the poet introducing no account of the ceremony, though most of the circumstances are afterward alluded to. He adds, that after the consummation of the marriage on the first night, the bride and bridegroom associated only in the day time during the continuance of the feast, which accounts for the bridegroom's absence during two nights particularly mentioned.
The ingenious Bossuet observes, that every part of the Canticles abounds in poetic beauties and he shews the objects which present
themselves on every side' to be either in themselves the most beautiful in nature, or rendered so by contrast' with others which are terrific and sublime; the dens of the lions,' and the mountains of the leopards. These beauties it will be part of our employment to survey as we travel through them and to direct our views to objects of a spiritual nature, still more beautiful and sublime.
New Translation, p. 19. See also LEWIS'S Heb. Antiq. Vol. III. p. 308.
Ch. I. ver. 2—4.
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
Because of the odour of thy good ointments
O draw me!
After thee will we run.
We will celebrate thy love more than wine.
THE scene of this first section is evidently the royal apartments of the women, called by the Hebrews Hadarim, and by the Turks, the Harem. Here the royal spouse is supposed to be newly introduced, and is accompanied by the virgin daughters of Jerusalem, her attendants. The time appears to be the morning; because she purposes to meet her beloved in his noon retirement; and, as I conceive, the morning after the celebration of the nuptials.
The poem commences with an abrupt expression of the attachment of the spouse to her beloved, without naming the object of her affections: a circumstance which strongly indicates their sincerity and ardour. This is, literally taken, a poetical beauty; and spiritually understood, highly characteristic of a mind full of sentiments of piety and devotion. The church is supposed to be deeply engaged in meditating on his expected appearance, who