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| Or, reading.
The preacher's care to edify.
The general conclusion.
Before CHirst preacher was wise, he still taught the
12 And further, by these, my son, chaTST about 977. people knowledge; yea, he gave good be admonished: of making many about
heed, and sought out, and a set in books there is no end; and much d i Kings 4. order many proverbs.
|| study is a weariness of the flesh. 10 The preacher sought to find out 13 | || Let us hear the conclusion 0r, The end + Heb. words + acceptable words : and that which of the whole matter : Fear God, and of
was written was upright, even words keep his commandments : for this is het been of truth.
the whole duty of man. 11 The words of the wise are as
14 For God shall bring every & 24.10 goads, and as nails fastened by the work into judgment, with every secret 2 Cor. 5. 10. masters of assemblies, which are given thing, whether it be good, or whether from one shepherd.
it be evil.
of the matter, even all that
e Rom. 2. 16.
11. The words of the wise &c.] The words of the cepts; and, if thou extendest thy desires beyond this, wise, and so these instructions, are intended, and ought thou mayest turn over infinite volumes, which are to excite men to virtue, as goads excite the ox to go continually increasing, and serve only to distract thy forward : and, as nails fastened in a board stick fast, so mind and tire thy spirits, and impair thy health, but should these instructions stick fast in the minds of men; yield little profit after the expense of much time and which they will the less fail to do, if duly inculcated by labour. Bp. Patrick. “the masters of assemblies," or those who rule and 13. Let us hear the conclusion &c.] Solomon, to govern in the sacred assemblies; which masters or whom God gave a wise and understanding heart, so teachers are appointed and directed by “one Shepherd ” that before him there was none like him, neither shall or Supreme Governour, namely, God. Dr. Wells. any like him arise after him, who had carefully consi
12. And further, by these, my son, be admonished : &c.] dered, and thoroughly examined, all things under the Therefore be advised, my son, (or whoever thou art sun, and was therefore most likely to give a true judgthat shalt read these things, whose happiness I wish as ment, gives his clear opinion in this affectionate conclumy own,) be advised by me, and not only believe these sion of his book, " Fear God, and keep his commandthings, but rest contented with such useful knowledge, ments; for this is the whole," the whole duty and and do not trouble thyself with composing or reading happiness “of man;" this is that alone which will many books; for all that is needful to instruct men carry him securely through the world, and lead him how to be happy may be comprised in a few wise pre- / without errour to his final happiness. Dr. S. Clarke.
The following Chapters from Ecclesiastes are appointed for Proper Lessons on Holydays.
St. John the Evangelist .......... ..Morning.
THIS Book was written by Solomon, to whom it is expressly ascribed by the Hebrew title. It is almost uni
versally allowed to have been a marriage song of that monarch, composed on the celebration of his nuptials with a very beautiful woman called “the Shulamite," the daughter, as has been supposed, of Pharaoh, and
the favourite and distinguished wife of Solomon. Solomon was eminently skilled in the composition of songs, and he is related to have produced above one thou
sand, 1 Kings iv. 32 ; out of which number, probably, this alone was attributed to the suggestion of the Holy Spirit; for this alone has escaped the waste of time, by being preserved in the sacred volume, into which it was received as unquestionably authentick; and it has uniformly been considered as canonical by the Christian Church.
The royal author appears, in the typical spirit of his time, to have designed to render a ceremonial appointment
descriptive of a spiritual concern ; and this song is accordingly considered by judicious writers to be a mystical allegory of that sort which induces a more sublime sense on historical truths, and which, by the description of human events, shadows out Divine circumstances. The sacred writers were, by God's condescension, authorized to illustrate his strict and intimate relation to the Church by the figure of a marriage ; and the emblem must have been strikingly becoming and expressive to the conceptions of the Jews, since they annexed ideas of peculiar mystery to this appointment, and imagined that the marriage union was a counterpart representation of some original pattern in heaven. Hence it was performed among them with very peculiar ceremonies and solemnity, with every thing that could give dignity and importance to its rites. Solomon therefore, in celebrating the circumstances of his marriage, was naturally led, by a train of correspondent reflections, to consider that spiritual connexion which it was often employed to symbolize; and the idea must have been the more forcibly suggested to him, as he was at this period preparing to build a temple to God, and thereby to furnish a visible representation of the Hebrew Church. The spiritual allegory, thus worked up by Solomon to its highest perfection, was very consistent with the prophetick style, which was accustomed to predict evangelical blessings by such parabolical figures : and Solomon was more immediately furnished with a pattern for this representation by the author of the forty-fifth Psalm, who describes, in a compendious allegory, the same
future connexion between Christ and his Church. But though the work be certainly an allegorical representation, many learned men, in an unrestrained eagerness
to explain the Song, even in its minutest and most obscure particulars, have too far indulged their imaginations; and, by endeavouring too nicely to reconcile the literal with the spiritual sense, have been led beyond the boundaries which a reverence for the sacred writings should ever prescribe. The ideas which the sacred writers furnish concerning the mystical relation between Christ and his Church, though well accommodated to our apprehensions by the allusion of a marriage union, are too general to illustrate every particular contained in this poem; which may be supposed to have been intentionally decorated with some ornaments appropriate to the literal construction. When the general analogy is obvious, we are not always to expect minute resemblance, and should not be too curious in seeking for obscure and recondite allusions. Solomon, in the glow of an inspired fancy, and unsuspicious of misconception or deliberate perversion, describes God and his Church, with their respective attributes and graces, under colourings familiar and agreeable to mankind, and exhibits their ardent affection under the authorized figures of earthly love. No similitude could indeed be chosen so elegant and apposite for the illustration of this intimate and spiritual alliance, as a marriage union ; if considered in the chaste simplicity of its first institution, or under the interesting circumstances with
which it was established among the Jews. This poem may be considered, as to its form, as a dramatical poem of the pastoral kind. There is a succession
of time; and a change of place, to different parts of the palace and royal gardens. The persons introduced as speakers, are the bridegroom and bride, and their respective attendants. The interchange of dialogue is carried on in a wild and digressive manner, but the speeches are adapted to the persons with appropriate elegance. The companions of the bride compose a kind of chorus, which seems to bear some resemblance to that afterwards adopted in the Grecian tragedy. Solomon and his queen assume the pastoral simplicity of style which is favourable to the communication of their sentiments. The poem abounds throughout with beauties, and presents every where a delightful and romantick display of nature, painted at its most interesting season, and described with every ornament that an inventive fancy could furnish. It is justly entitled A Song of Songs, or most excellent song, as being superior to any that an uninspired writer could have produced, and tending, if properly understood, to purify the mind, and to elevate the affections from earthly to heavenly things. Dr. Gray.
The church's love unto Christ. SOLOMON'S SONG. She confesseth her deformity. It was the practice of the Jews to forbid their children the reading of this Book till their judgment was sufficiently matured ; lest, in the fervour of youth, they should give too wide a scope to fancy, and interpret to a bad sense the spiritual ideas of Solomon. This was a very prudent and judicious precaution; and may well serve to restrain the practice, which has unfortunately prevailed among some Christians of modern times, of applying in an indecorous manner the strong figurative expressions which occur throughout this poem. Dr. Gray, Edit.
that is reiled.
of Kedar, as the curtains of SoloCHRIST
CHAP. I. written
about 1014. about 1014. i The church's love unto Christ. 5 She con
6 Look not upon me, because I am
yard have I not kept.
7 Tell me, O thou whom my soul
loveth, where thou feedest, where 2 Let him kiss me with the kisses thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: a Chap 4,10. of his mouth: a for + thy love is better for why should I be || as one that 10r, as one than wine.
turneth aside by the flocks of thy
by the footsteps of the flock, and
rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love, to a company of horses in Pha-
10 Thy cheeks are comely with 5 I am black, but comely, O ye rows of jewels, thy neck with chains daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of gold.
b John 6. 44.
love thee uprightly.
Chap. I. ver. 1. The song of songs,] This title denotes to be divided, as is sometimes the case in Hebrew diction, the excellence of the song, not only in its structure and “ I am black as the tents of Kedar, but comely as the composition, but more particularly in regard to the sub- curtains of Solomon.” Bp. Lowth. ject of which it treats, as representing the earnest desire 6. Look not upon me, &c.] Do not despise me, by of the Church of God, which is the spouse or bride of considering my outward hue, for my brothers and sisChrist, to enjoy the great blessing of Christ's coming, ters have done me injury by making me a slave to the as being her bridegroom; or He, by whose merits all meanest employments, in which I was exposed to the the faithful are blessed or made happy. Bp. Patrick, rays of the sun, and could not preserve my beauty. Bp. Dr. Wells.
Patrick. For a general notion of the allegorical sense con 7. — where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon :) In veyed by the different parts of this book, the reader is hot countries, the shepherds and their flocks are always referred to the heads of the several chapters.
forced to retire for shelter during the burning heats of 2. Let him &c.] The bride here breaks out into expressions of tenderness, and addresses him when absent, 9. I have compared thee, &c.] The bridegroom, seeas if he were present; being interrupted at times by the ing perhaps, at some little distance, the bride anxiously bridemaids who attend her, ver. 4. 8. Bp. Percy. seeking for him, here commends her conjugal affection by
3. -- the savour of thy good ointments] Fragrant oint- various compliments to her charms, and the dialogue is ments were especially used at nuptials, and on other fes- thus carried on to chap. ii. 8, in a very poetical, but untival occasions; see Ps. xlv. 8 ; Prov. vii. 17; Amos connected manner. Bp. Percy. vi. 6: hence the odour of sweet ointments became a to a company of horses] This comparison will common metaphor to express the extensive acceptable- not be deemed coarse or vulgar when it is considered ness of a good name. Bp. Percy.
what beautiful and delicate creatures the Eastern horses 3. – as the tents of Kedar,] Volney says, the tents are, and how highly they are valued. It is very remarkof the Bedoween Arabs, woven of goats' or camels' hair, able that a Greek poet, Theocritus, has made use of a are black or brown. Parkhurst. The tents of the wild similar comparison to a Thessalian steed, to express the Arabs are to this day of a very dark or black colour, beauty of Helen. Bp. Percy. being made of the shaggy hair of their black goats. 10. — comely with rows of jewels, &c.] Olearius supD'Arvieux.
poses the head-dress of the bride here referred to, to be as the curtains of Solomon.] Rather, “as the the same with that which is now frequently used in the tapestry of Solomon :” perhaps comparing her to one East. He says that all the head-dress of the Persian of the beautiful figures on fine tapestry. Dr. Hodgson. ladies consist in two or three rows of pearls, which are
“I am black, but comely,” &c. The expressions are not there worn about the neck, but round the head, be
Before CHRIST about 1014.
& 5. 12.
companion. doves' eyes.
& 8. 4.
Christ giveth her gracious promises. CHAP. I, II. The mutual love of Christ and his church.
11 We will make thee borders of 2 As the lily among thorns, so is
my love among the daughters.
delighted and 13 A bundle of myrrh is my well his shadow with great delight, and his sat down, &c. beloved unto me; he shall lie all night fruit was sweet to my † taste.
+ Heb. palate. betwixt my breasts.
4 He brought me to the + banquet- + Heb. house
of wine. 14 My beloved is unto me as a ing house, and his banner over me 1 Or, cypress. cluster of || camphire in the vineyards was love. of En-gedi.
5 Stay me with flagons, + comfort Heb, straw c Chap. 4. 1. 15 Behold, thou art fair, || my me with apples : for I am sick of apples. . Or, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast love.
6 a His left hand is under my a Chap. 8. 3. 16 Behold, thou art fair, my be- head, and his right hand doth emloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is brace me. green.
7 +b I charge you, O ye daugh- Heb. I. 17 The beams of our house are ters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and b Chap. 3. 5. | Or, cedar, and our || rafters of fir. by the hinds of the field, that ye stir galleries. CHAP. II.
not up, nor awake my love, till he 1 The mutual love of Christ and his church.
please. 8 The hope, 10 and calling of the church.
8. The voice of my beloved ! be14 Christ's care of the church. 16 The hold, he cometh leaping upon the profession of the church, her faith and mountains, skipping upon the hills. hope.
9 . My beloved is like a roe or a c Ver. 17. I
AM the rose of Sharon, and the young hart: behold, he standeth be-
hind our wall, he looketh forth at the ginning at the forehead, and descending down the cheeks, Chap. II. ver. 1. rose of Sharon,] Sharon, or Saron, and under the chin, so that their faces seem to be set in was a town which gave name to a spacious and fruitful pearls. Harmer,
valley, reaching from Cesarea to Joppa. Dr. Wells. It 12. - my spikenard] Spikenard, or nard, is a plant is meant, “I am a mere rose of the field.” The bride growing in the East, whose root is very small and slen- now speaks, and seems with becoming modesty to repreder; it puts forth a long small stalk, and has several sent her beauty as nothing extraordinary, as a mere ears or spikes even with the ground; whence it has the common wild flower: this the bridegroom in the next name of spike-nard. Calmet.
verse denies, insisting that she as much surpasses the 14. — as a cluster of camphire] Interpreters have been generality of maidens, as the flower of the lily does much puzzled by these words which we translate “clus- that of the bramble. Bp. Percy. ter of camphire." That which we call camphire was then lily of the valleys.] Not the beautiful flower unknown; and therefore the word is better translated known among us by the name of “lily of the valley," in the margin by cypress ;” not meaning the tree but probably a Syrian plant of the lily kind, wont to known by that name, but an aromatick plant, (properly grow in low lands. Harmer. called cyprus,) known in the East, which produced a 3. As the apple tree among the trees] Perhaps rather, sweet-scented bush of flowers, and also berries, not much according to the Chaldee paraphrase, “as the citron tree." differing from the fragrancy of spikenard. These shrubs Parkhurst. seem to have been cultivated at En-gedi near Jericho, 5. Stay me with flagons,] This verse is a description after the manner of vines; and hence probably the of one falling into a swoon; in which it is usual to call nurseries of them are here called vineyards. Bp. Pa- for strong reviving smells. Bp. Patrick. trick.
7. I charge. you,-by the roes, &c.] This is a rural 15. — thou hast doves' eyes.] To understand the force form of adjuring. The bride entreats her virgin comof this expression, we must not refer it to our common panions by those delicate and sprightly creatures, which doves or pigeons, but to the doves of Syria, which have add so much to the beauty of the sylvan scenes, and in large and beautiful eyes. Those who have seen the fine pursuit of which, as nymphs fond of rural sports, they Eastern bird, the carrier pigeon, will require no further may be supposed to have taken frequent pleasure. It is commentary on this verse. Sir T. Brown. Or perhaps, natural to conjure a person by whatever is most affectas the dove is always considered as emblematick of con- ing, dear, or valued. Bp. Percy.. jugal tenderness and affection, the comparison to “doves' By the roes.” The animal designed seems rather eyes " may bear reference to the soft qualities which the the gazelle or antelope. Parkhurst. eyes of the bride expressed. Harmer. But see note at 8. The voice &c.] The bride here takes up the dischap. v. 12.
course to chap. iii. 6. Bp. Percy. 17. The beams of our house are cedar,] Perhaps the - The voice of my beloved !] This would be more intranslation should be, “ The beams of our house are ce- telligible, if we were to supply, as in the old version, dar, and fir our roof;” and the expression, concurring “ It is the voice.” Dr. Durell. with that of the last verse, may shew, that they were not - he cometh leaping &c.] Allusion is here still in a house, but in a grove, where the heads of the firs made to the roes, ver. 7. and the cedars are poetically called the beams and roof 9. — behold, he standeth behind our wall, &c.] The of their chamber. Dr. Hodgson.
Eastern buildings generally surrounded a square inner
Christ's care of the church. SOLOMON'S SONG. The church's victory in temptation. windows, + shewing himself through
CHRIST about 1014. the lattice.
about 1014. 10 My beloved spake, and said flourishing. unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair 1 The church's fight and victory in temptation.
6 The church glorieth in Christ.
on my bed I sought him
12 The flowers appear on the him, but I found him not.
ways I will seek him whom my soul
ye him whom my soul loveth?
the chamber of her that conceived
of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by 16 9 My beloved is mine, and the hinds of the field, that ye stir I am his : he feedeth among the not up, nor awake my love, till he lilies.
please. 17 e Until the day break, and 6 • Who is this that cometh out b Chap. 8. 5.
the shadows flee away, turn, my be- of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, f Chap. 8. 14. loved, and be thou flike a roe or a perfumed with myrrh and frankin
young hart upon the mountains || of cense, with all powders of the mer-
& 8. 4.
d Chap. 6. 3. & 7. 10.
e Chap. 4. 6.
| Or, of division.
court. The bridegroom seems here to be described as been objected to; but we learn from Dr. Shaw, that entering the outward apartments, and gradually seen, as “jackals of the lesser kind eat roots and fruits, and frehe made his approach, first, behind the wall, then look- quent the gardens every night.”. So Hasselquist says, ing through the window, and lastly, putting his head " There is plenty of these animals near the convent of through the lattice. Bp. Percy.
St. John in the desert, about vintage time; inso12. – the turtle] This bird is in some sense, and much that the owners are obliged to set guards over the sometimes, if not always, a bird of passage, as appears vines, to prevent these creatures from destroying them." from Jer. viii. 7, where it is said to “ know its time." These then are clearly the animals, which are here Aristotle, Varro, and Cicero say the same. Script. illust. meant. Fragments to Calmet. Expos. Ind.
17. Until the day break,] “Until the day breathe,” 13. the vines with the tender grape] In many ver- literally; or,“ till the day blow fresh.” There is a pecusions these words are rendered, "the vines in blossom." liar beauty in this expression: in those warm climates That the blossom of the vine may give a fragrant smell the dawn of day is attended with a fine refreshing breeze, in hot countries, is shewn by the practice of the ancients, of the most delightful kind. Bp. Percy. who used to put the dried flowers of the vine into their turn,--and be thou like a roe] That is, come to new wine, in order to give it fragrancy and a pure or me with the swiftness of a roe or antelope, from thy flosculous spirit. Bp. Percy.
lurking places. Dr. Durell. 14. — in the clefts &c.] Solomon having in the lan upon the mountains of Bether.] In the margin, guage of affection called her his dove, nothing was more “mountains of division," " craggy, intersected mounnatural, in an Oriental imagination, than the immediate tains ;" which is preferable perhaps to considering Bether comparing of the then residence of the Jewish queen to as a proper name. Parkhurst, the rocky clefts in which their doves were wont to build. It appears that doves in those countries usually take up Chap. III. ver. 6. Who is this &c.] The dialogue their abode in the hollow places of rocks and cliffs. The seems to be taken up by the companions of the bride; word, which we translate "stairs," occurs but once afterwards (ver. 11) by the bride, and (chap. iv. 1,) by more; namely in Ezek. xxxviii. 20, and there is trans- the bridegroom. Bp. Percy. lated “steep places.” It might be better perhaps here like pillars of smoke,] It is customary at Eastern to translate the word, “ steep places or lofty cliffs.” marriages for virgins to lead the procession with silverHarmer.
gilt pots of perfume. In the present instance, so libe15. — foxes, that spoil the vines :] As foxes in Eng- rally were these rich perfumes burnt, that, at a distance, land do not destroy vines, this passage has sometimes a pillar or pillars of smoke arose from them; and the