Imatges de pÓgina
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That these are the words of the spouse, rather than of the bridegroom, I infer, not so much from the words, rose and lily,' being of feminine termination; but chiefly from the current of the dialogue, in which they seem naturally to belong to the spouse, and the preceeding and following verses to the beloved. And this I find is the general opinion of the

Jewish doctors, as well as of some very respectable Christian interpreters'.

Among the Greeks the rose was called the plant of love, and considered as sacred to Venus: and they suppose, if Jupiter were to set a king over the flowers, it would be this. The easterns, both in antient and modern times, are no less fond of images derived from the same

The great Mogul, in a letter to our king James I. compliments him by comparing, him to this flower : and most of the eastern poets celebrate its charms. The original word here used for the rose is supposed in its derivation to signify the shadowing plant ; and we read of rose-trees of great extent and prodigious size; but I rather incline to the opinion, that it strictly means the rose-bud, or shadowed rose, that is, shaded with the calyx”.

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· Viz. Ainsworth, Brightman, Lyra, Vatablus, Cocceius, Michaelis, Dr. Percy, Mr. Harmer, &c.

See Parkhurst innbyan, who observes that Aquila renders this word in the only two places in which it occurs, καλυκωσις and καλυξ, which properly signify a rose half blown. And it is worthy of remark, that this appears to be a very favourite image with the eastern poets. So the Persian author of Bahur Danush, translated by Mr. Scott, represents the

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PLINY reckons the lily the next plant in excellency to the rose, and the gay ANACREON compares Venus to this flower.

In the east, as with us, it is the emblem of purity and moral excellence. So the Persian poet SADI compares an amiable youth to the white lily in a . bed of narcissuses ;' because he surpassed all

the young shepherds in piety, goodness, and vigilance.

These hints are sufficient to point out the general design of the emblems; let us now apply them to their proper object in the allegory.

1. The church compares herself to the rose and the lily, as the genuine emblems of love and virtue, innocence and purity; for such are the characters of the church, and, through grace, of the individuals who compose it. This is not, however, their character by nature; for they are wild plants till they are transplanted, and cultivated by grace, which can convert

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rose-bud in love with the nightingale under several points of view : 1. As reserved and coy: I said, Why is the rose-bud

so reserved? And I heard that it wished to conceal its treasures.' Vol. III.

p. 210. 2. As uneasy under the restraints of a single life, and desirous of admitting the addresses of the nightingale : Say ve • to the rose-bud, be not uneasy at thy conħnement; for thou * wilt soon be released by the breath of dawn, and the wavings of the zephyrs.' Vol. II. p. 152.

3. As at length bursting with passion to receive the caresses of its favourite bird. • The rose exposed itself from

every opening; rending the vesture of its bud into a thou• sand fragınents. Vol. I. p. 53.

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weeds and wild flowers into beautiful and pleasant plants.

2. The church expresses herself with modesty'.-She is a rose, but it is a rose of the field; a lily, but only a lily of the vallies. Not the elegant productions of a royal garden, but the spontaneous growth of the field and valley: Again, the rose to which she compares herself is not the full blown flower, but the bud with its beauties shaded and concealed; the finest emblem in nature of modesty and unassuming excellence.

The lily was a favourite emblem with the Hebrews, and much employed in their carving, embroidery, and other ornamental works; and this I think not without some mystery. The lily was, I suppose, sacred to the light?:and so to Christ the true immortal light, the sun of righteousness; and this perhaps accounts best for the so frequent use of lily-work in the temple, and in the dresses of the high-priest. :

In another respect the church is compared to this flower, remarkable for growth as well as beauty, and singularly fruitful : Israel shall

grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Le• banon?'

So Bp. Percy; but Mr. Harmer interprets it, I conceive very unnaturally, as the language of jealousy and complaint, p. 63.

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? See Parkhurst in ww. The lotos, which resembles this flower in its distinctive character as a six-leaved flower, was certainly a sacred emblein in Egypt and other parts of the

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3 Hos. xiv. 5.

The spouse considers herself as a lily in a valley of lilies, &c. that is, as one beauty among a multitude; but the bridegroom, in his reply, places her above competition : she is a lily among thorns, and excels the other fair-ones as a lily doth the thorns.

Observe, 1. Christ's church is in his sight, not
only supremely excellent, but singularly and
only so-a lily among

thorns. So believers are
the ‘salt of the earth—the light of the world-
a seed to serve the Lord in the midst of a
crooked and perverse generation.'

2. A lily among thorns has been supposed
properly to represent the church in affliction
and temptations. So R. SOLOMON JARCHI,

As the lily among thorns, which prick it, yet
• stands continually in its beauty; so is my love

among the daughters, who entice her to fol-
' low after them, and go a whoring after
* other gods, but yet continues in her religion'.
I confess this sense forced and arbitrary ; yet
I mention it because it agrees well with the
analogy of scripture ;—for the inspired writers
frequently speak of afflictions, &c. under the
image of thorns; and it is promised, as one of
the felicities of the future state, that there
* shall be no more a pricking briar, or a grieving
• thorn.'

The spouse raises her beloved also above

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It should seen as if this celebrated rabbin understood the compliment from Solomon to his new spouse, as'a reflection upon his other wives, who enticed away his heart to idols, and attempted to entice her, though without success.

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competition and comparison, as he had exalted her : and, upon this occasion, she relates the pleasure and delight received in his company and conversation.

The tree to which the bride compares her beloved, is commonly understood to be the apple tree; but this has justly been called in question. The CHALDEE paraphrase renders it the citron tree, which agrees better to all that is said of it in scripture', as well as to the natural history of Judea ; since the eastern apples are very indifferent, and their citrons very fine ?. As much then as the citron tree excels the vulgar trees of the wood', so much does the beloved all other men. This image is pursued in the subsequent

Having compared her beloved to a tree, she compares the enjoyment of his company to sitting under its shadow, and eating plentifully of its fruit *.

verse,

It is represented as noble and delightful, Joel, i. 12. Gold coloured, Prov. xxv. 11. and very fragrant and refreshing. Cant. vii. 8. ii. 3, 5.-See Harmer's Observations, vol. I, chap. iv. obs. 31.

2 'Russel's Nat. Hist. of Aleppo, p. 21.

* A lofty and spreading tree is a favourite image with the best poets : so in Ossian: 'I was a lovely tree in thy pres * sence, Oscar, with all my branches round me.' (Battle of Lora.) Compare Ps. cxxviii. 3.

4 Entertainments under trees are common in the east. Egmont and Heyman drank coffee under the orange trees in the garden at Mount Sinai; and Dr. Pococke was entertained in a garden at Sidon, under the shade of some apricot trees, and the fruit was shaken upon him, See Harmer on Sol. Song, p. 248.

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