Imatges de pÓgina
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SECTION V.

Chap. III. Ver. 2-5.

Spouse. Upon my bed by night I sought him whom my soul

loveth:

I sought him, but I found him not.

I will arise now, and go about the city;
In the streets, and in the broad ways,

• I will seek him whom my soul loveth.'

I sought him, but I found him not.

The watchmen, who go round the city, found me:
Have ye seen him whom my soul loveth?'

Scarcely had I passed from them,

When I found him whom

my soul loveth:

- I held him, and would not let him

go,

Until I had brought him to my mother's house,
To the apartment of her who bore me.

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the antelopes, and by the hinds of the field,
That ye disturb not, nor awake this lovely one until
he please.

THIS scene evidently opens with the morning and I confess myself well satisfied with the hypothesis of Hufnagel, Dathe, and Doderlein, that this and the similar passage in chap. v. relate the dreams of the spouse: indeed the latter passage is express, for no language can more justly and beautifully describe a dream than that of the spouse, I slept, but my ⚫ heart waked.' And though the same introduction is not used here, a parity of circumstances, and similitude of style, lead us naturally to the same conclusion.

Solomon says

a dream cometh from the

'multitude of business:' and, without entering into the theory of dreaming, we may observe from our own experience, that the same objects which exercise the mind by day, often agitate it by night. The merchant dreams of business, the sportsman of the chase, and the lover of the beloved object. Thus it is with the spouse here. She had been ardently desirous of the presence of her beloved, and in her dream she anticipates his return: Upon my bed by night I sought him.'

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But there is another reason which might lead Solomon to adopt this figurative mode of speaking. It was in this mode that God usually revealed himself to the prophets, and in particular to the author of this poem.

This method of interpretation silences many objections, and answers many queries, hard, if not impossible, to be answered on any other hypothesis. Such as, How should a princess be suffered to ramble about the city in the night, and be assaulted by the watchmen? &c. A thousand circumstances combine in vision which never can exist together in reality. But let us examine the vision.

By night on my bed I sought him'.

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'Two circumstances have puzzled the cominentators without reason, namely, the absence of the beloved by night; and the spouse leading him to her mother's house. As to the for-" mer, we have already observed, (p. 146) that after the consummation it was usual for the Hebrew bride and bridegroomto pass the remaining nights of the week separate. This appears also to have been the custom, at least for one night,

terpreters generally consider this bed as the image of a state of supineness and of sloth: and suppose that the reason the spouse found not her beloved was, because she sought him in her bed. But is this appropriate and just? Has not a bride a right to expect her husband to be the partner of her bed?

Taking the passage according to our hypothesis, I may be permitted to offer the following reflections.

First. This dream shews how much the mind of the spouse was occupied with the object of her affection. He was the subject of her enquiry both by day and night. This will apply spiritually to the case of believers. DAVID tells us repeatedly how much his mind was occupied with God his Saviour in the night season and it appears that this was the grand subject of the prophetic vision.-Jacob saw him on the celestial ladder; David beheld him on the right hand of God; and Daniel in the clouds of heaven.

2. There appears a restlessness in the con

of the week, among the Greeks. In this case it is said the bride lodged at the house of her parents. [See Potter's Antiq, vol. II. p. 294.] As the Greeks borrowed many of their customs from the east, it is probable such a practice might obtain among the Hebrews during the nights of separation.-But how could Pharaoh's daughter sleep at her mother's? Suppose only, that her mother had accompanied her from Egypt (a circumstance probable also from ver. 11. of this chapter) and had a suit of apartments assigned for her in the palace, and it is easy to be accounted for. Though, after all, as I consider this only as a dream, I am not concerned to bring all the circumstances within the verge of probability.

duct of the church, which very well represents the state of a mind awakened to enquiries after the Lord. She sought him a-bed; but he was not there. She arose and sought him in the city—in the open court, and in the narrow street; hither and thither she pursues himenquires of all she meets, and rests not till she finds him. Thus is it with an awakened soul— with one that seeketh after God. The mind' being convinced of the true and only source of happiness, it is in vain to present other objects; it is the beloved of her soul she seeks, and her cry is with Job, O that I knew where 'I might find him.' She may find the watchmen, but they can be of no use, unless they direct to the beloved.

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We must also notice, what is said of these watchmen-their office and their conduct. We know that ministers of God, under both dispensations, have been called watchmen. So the Lord to Ezekiel: Son of man, I have set thee 'a watchman over the house of Israel:' and St. Paul explains the term in adapting it to ministers of the New Testament—' They watch for souls.' This is doubtless meant by going about the city they are the guardians of the night, and it is their office particularly to notice such enquirers- They found me.'

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It is observable in the next place that her enquiries were not eventually in vain. They 'that seek shall find,' is the great promise of the gospel. But when did she find her beloved? 'It was but a little that I passed from them,' I i

namely, the watchmen. It should seem that their information was of use to direct her; for she met the object of her enquiries immediately afterward.

We must not omit to notice the affectionate and expressive character she gives him- Him whom her soul loveth.' Observe she gives him no name and full (as we observed above1) of the object of her love, she finds no name requisite--her soul loveth him, and she is ready that all must know him as well as

to suppose

she did.

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She found him, and how did she then treat him? She held him, and would not let him go, till she brought him to her mother's house. The vision of Jacob, and the angel of Jehovah, will furnish us with a true explanation of this expression. He found him in Bethel: I will 'not let thee go,' said he, 'except thou bless me.' -He had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept and made supplication unto him".' She brought him to her mother's house; that is, according to most commentators, to the church, the temple, the house of God. Possibly the simple meaning may be, she conducted him where she could best enjoy his company; but this will lead us to the same idea, for where is the divine presence so much to be enjoyed as in the house of God?

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Will the reader say, this was all a dream? It was so; and such are all our enjoyments in the

1 See page 147. ·

2

See Gen. xxxii. 24. and Hos. xii. 4..

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