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on the winds, and increase your griefs, by reverberating them among the echoing rocks? Let him see your countenance-let him hear voice. your voice. Go then to the throne of grace: shew thyself cheerful in his house of prayer: for to him thy voice is sweet, and thy countenance is comely. The world may deride thy cries, and ridicule thy grief: but tears of penitence are pearls in his sight; and the sighings of a contrite heart are melody in his ears.
Virgins. Take for us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines,
For our vines have tender grapes.
These words are evidently the language of the chorus, and seem addressed by the virgins to the companions of the bridegroom, requesting their protection and defence, under the metaphor of defending the vineyard from the foxes, which not only disturb the vineyard, and devour the grapes; but gnaw the branches and roots, so as to destroy the vines. It should be remembered that the Jewish weddings were commonly attended with a guard; and this was particularly the case in the present inSee chap. III. 7.
It is pretty well agreed among the commentators and divines, that by fores here may allegorically be understood false prophets among the Jews, and false or heretical teachers among ourselves. This idea is certainly scriptural. EZEKIEL says, "O Israel, thy prophets are like fores in the desert." What do foxes in
the desert? No doubt they lie in wait for watching for any animal that may fall within their power, of which they may be able to make a prey. On this character I beg to offer a few remarks.
The Fox is the emblem of treachery, and his character, I apprehend, comprizes two things, cunning and cruelty. This gives us the true description of a false prophet and an heresiarch. He is a man of an artful head, and a hard heart. The object of the false prophet was to mislead the Israelite from the worship of the true God to the adoration of idols. The character of the heretic is that of an artful sectary, who endeavours to withdraw Christians from the simplicity of Christ, in order to raise a party, or a name. The attentive reader may observe, in the New Testament, a strong line of distinction between mistaken brethren and heretical teachers. To the former is shewn all tenderness and compassion: to the latter none. This can only be accounted for by marking the difference of character. Heretical teachers have a base and corrupt design they are charged with cunning craftiness," whereby they lie in wait to deceive:" mistaken brethren are deluded and deceived.
By little foxes may perhaps be meant the jackalls, which though small are most dangerous and destructive; for the jackall often precedes
The LXX, and some Heb. copies, omit the second. word, foxes; and read, Take us the little foxes,' &c.
the lion, and is proverbially his provider. Even this may be allegorized without violence. Those are the most dangerous errors which have the worst moral tendency. Those erroneous teachers who labour to set aside the Saviour, or to smooth the way to sin, may be too justly considered as the agents of him who, as "a. "roaring lion, goeth about, seeking whom he may devour."
It is commanded to take these foxes: i. e. to detect, expose, and antidote their errors, and separate them from our communion: and it were well if the professed ministers of Christ went no farther. Such expressions have been too often perverted to imply the power of the sword; and Peter's sword we know was early stained with blood. The reason given is, that they spoil or destroy the tender grapes. Foxes, it seems, live and fatten upon grapes. Stript of its allegorical dress the meaning evidently is,
1. That such persons live on the spoil of others they devour widows houses, and for a pretence make long prayers.'
2. That these heretics prey upon young Christians, and destroy the promise of their tender blossoms, and their early buds. weaker age, the weaker sex, and the weaker talents, are peculiarly their prey-they lead 'captive silly women.'
It may be a useful improvement of this verse, to point out some of the pretences that false teachers employ to delude weak minds-and some traits of weakness that expose certain characters to their deceptions.
It was a common practice among antient heretics to affect peculiar austerities. The old naturalists say, that foxes will sometimes fain themselves dead in order to ensnare their prey: so it is with some who affect to be uncommonly dead and mortified to the world, in order to draw disciples.--Another pretence made use of is, the attributing greater glory to Christ. Thus, under the notion of making him our sanctification, holiness has been discarded as legal, and Christ himself has been made, virtually, the minister of sin.
Among the circumstances which subject certain tempers to delusion, are the following.
The love of something new and beyond the vulgar ken is a great snare with weak minds. They are fond of mystery, love to penetrate into deep subjects of enquiry, and are particularly pleased, to be thought wiser than their fellow Christians. The gnostics appear to have been of this stamp. The affectation of novelty and singularity is another great snare, in as much as it leads to useless and impertinent enquiries, and to be wise above what is writ'ten.'
Another dangerous temptation is, that of affecting to be super-evangelical and high in doctrine; an affectation that reproaches, not only the best men of modern times, but the apostles, and our Lord himself, many of whose discourses would by no means answer to the standard of these hyper-orthodox divines.
Ver. 16, 17.
Spouse. My beloved is mine and I am his;
Until the day breathe, and the shades flee away,
Like an antelope, or a young hart, upon the craggy
These verses stand perfectly distinct from the preceding, and form a a sense complete of themselves. The spouse expresses her satisfaction in her relation to her beloved, and the enjoyment of his affections, with a desire for their continuance.
My beloved is mine, and I am his'.' i. e. I am his spouse, and he is my husband. This relation between Christ and the church has been already explained, and it is desirable to avoid repetition; but we may enlarge a little upon the mutual affection between the parties, and their mutual interest in each other.
My beloved is mine.' He is the supreme object of my affection, the sum of all my delights. • Whom have I in heaven but thee? ' and there is none on earth that I desire beside 'thee.' The love of God is not only supreme, but, where it eminently prevails, in a manner absorbs all other affections. Those who love God eminently, love their fellow creatures in him. In him they embrace all the tender
From the moment that I heard the divine sentence, "I "have breathed into man a portion of my Spirit," I was assured that we were his, and he ours." Sir W. Jones's Works, vol. I. p. 45.