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state of open profaneness. The change is so obvious and so great, that they appear transported, as it were, to another climate-to another world. A spiritual summer is come suddenly upon them, and they appear all holy joy, all heavenly love: but in a little while 'offences arise because of the word.' The storms of persecution, or the blasts of temptation nip the opening graces of the Christian life, and the promised fruits of holiness.
'The winter is past.'-The TARGUM applies this to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, and other writers to the captivity in Babylon; justly conceiving that a state of captivity and bondage is properly represented by the image of winter, and the restoration of liberty and peace by spring. This applies to the gospel dispensation, and its blessings. Men are by nature servants of sin, bond-slaves of Satan, led captive by him at his will. The voice of the gospel is like the sound of the jubilee trumpet, the proclamation of true liberty. • If the Son
make ye free, then shall ye be free in'deed.'
-The flowers appear.'-The same Jewish commentators, who consider the winter as a state of captivity or bondage, explain the flowers of Moses and Aaron-of the Old Testament believers, and of the Messiah himself; and the young figs and grapes of the congregation of Israel: and, without following Jewish fancies, or Jewish fables, believers may, under the gospel dispensation, be considered as a kind of
first fruits unto God-the earnest of that grand harvest which shall be gathered by the angels, in the end of the world.
Bridegroom. My dove, [who art] in the clefts of the rock, In the secret fissures of the cliffs ;
'Let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy
For sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.'
Thé spouse is compared to the dove for her innocence, affection, and fidelity, of which this bird is the established emblem. The dove is innocent. 'Be ye harmless' as doves,' is one of the precepts of the Saviour to his disciples, who are required in this, as well as in other respects, to imitate their Master, who was 'holy, ' harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.' The cleanliness, the purity, and the modesty of these creatures are also no improper circumstances to describe the followers of the Lamba character very similar to that of the dove.
The dove is also the emblem of conjugal affection and fidelity. Constant to her mate, the. faithful bird admits no other partner of her affections, and is inconsolable in his loss; insomuch, that to "mourn like the widowed dove," is to mourn and grieve indeed. How truly is this the description of the sincere believer-of the church of Christ. He is the supreme object of her affection-" Whom have I in heaven but "thee? and there is none on earth that I desire "beside thee?" Without the divine presence the church is utterly inconsolable. O that I
knew where I might find him!'-She enquires, 'Have ye seen my beloved?' or, apostrophizing the great object of her regard, Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou 'feedest !'
In the present instance, however, the term may be rather expressive of the bridegroom's love than of the bride's. 6 My love, my dove, my undefiled,' are terms of the strongest tenderness and attachment.
Eastern doves are wont to hide themselves in the clifts and caverns of rocks'. The dove is a feeble, timid, and defenceless bird, and may therefore seek to hide itself in such recesses from the birds of prey, and from the storms of winter. And how often has this been the case with the church? How often has she been glad to hide herself in woods and solitary places, yea in caverns and in clefts of the rocks, to escape the storms of persecution, or the rage of persecutors? and in these retirements to worship God, and enjoy communion with him, out of the reach of the talons of the persecutor. Ah! ye Waldenses-ye Albigenses-ye Piedmontese-how often was this your case?—Yes, and ye ancient British nonconformists (of whom the world was not worthy) how often have ye retired to some solitary cottage in the wood, or in the forest-how carefully have ye closed the door-the chimney, and every avenue of sound-that the listening informer might
not hear? But the Lord hearkened and heard, and a book of remembrance was written in ' his presence.'
But from the following couplet it should pear that solitude might be the motive of retirement. The church is compared to a solitary dove, hiding among the rocks; and therefore her Lord calls upon her to come forth from her solitude, to shew her countenance and express her love. This hint will afford several useful reflections.
1. There is an ill-timed and improper solitude. In the primitive church, in times of persecution, there were many who had not the courage to confess Christ boldly, who yet dared not treacherously renounce him; and what should these do? They retired into solitude; there at once to avoid their enemies and enjoy their God. This was the origin of the hermetic life, which was afterward carried to excess; and weak, though sincere, Christians, fled from the standard of the cross, though they loved and would not renounce it. But there were others more noble than these, who were not ashamed nor afraid to avow their attachment to their crucified Redeemer before kings. The one sought to avail themselves of their Lord's permission, when persecuted in one city to flee to another: the other aspired to crowns of martyrdom-and they attained them.
The gentle voice of Christ reproves the timid conduct of his weak disciples- Come
forward,' as if he had said without a figurecome forward, and own yourselves to be ' mine. Let me see thy countenance and hear 'thy voice'.'
But there is probably another allusion. The solitary dove retires to moan among the rocks, and sadly entertain her sorrows with the echo of her own complaints. How true a picture of many a distressed believer-but let such listen to the call of the beloved.
6 The winter is past:'-then why mourn among the rocks. The gospel abounds with motives and grounds of joy, and is full of topics of consolation. You are a sinner:-to such only is the gospel addressed.—You are a great sinner:-you have the more need then to seek a "great salvation." You have multiplied transgressions: and he has promised to multiply pardons. You cannot repent: it is his office to give repentance as well as remission of sins. But you have no faith: "O ye "of little faith, wherefore do ye doubt?" Why fly from the Saviour you so much need? To whom will ye go? he only has the words of eternal life. Why then waste your complaints
The following Hindostan Ode, by the Emperor Shah Aulum, presents us with exactly the same form of expres
Shew me thy face, O my love!
* Let me hear thy voice, ere you quit me.'
Oriental Col. vol. II. p. 394.
"The wild dove who soothes me with her notes, like me has a dejected heart.' Carlyle's Specimens of Arab. Poetry.