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Be not straight handed in thine alms, but give them liberally to all that have need ; for thou knowest not how soon thou mayest have need of others' bounty, nor how soon thou shalt be bereaved of an opportunity to give thine own.
XI. 3 If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth : and if the tree fall toward the
south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be. As the clouds which are full of rain empty themselves upon earth, so the liberal heart that is full of bounty empties itself in seasonable contributions; and which way soever thou castest thy beneficence, whether to the south or north, thou shalt be sure there to find it, through God's gracious remuneration, with advantage.
XI. 4 He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap. Let not every circumstance of vain fear discourage thee from doing good and distributing: be, that is too curious to observe every wrind that blows, shall never find opportunity to sow.
XI. 5 As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. As thou knowest not how or when the soul comes into the body; or how and by what degrees the child is formed, in all the several parts thereof, within the womb of the mother : so, much less canst thou know those secret works of God, which he will do in time to come.
XI. 6 In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand : for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether &c. Be thou constant and assiduous in doing good, and desist not at any time: if one of thy endeavours succeed not, yet another may ; and thou know'est not which of them may speed the best.
XI. ? Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun : Indeed life is sweet, and light gives cheerfulness unto our life; it is a comfortable thing to enjoy the benefit thereof, which our eye sends into our soul:
XI. 8 But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all ; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity. But let a man live, and enjoy both the light and all the pleasures and delights of this life, never so many years; yet, let him bethink himself of that darkness of death, and the grave whereinto he is entering, and consider the long continuance of that darkness, in comparison of this short and momentary life and light; be shall have no lust to surfeit of these things, but shall confess that all that comes is vanity.
XI. 9 Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth. Go to then, () thou vain young man, take thy full scope of pleasure in thy youth, &c. Deny nothing to thyself, that either ihine
eye seeth or thy heart desireth; live wantonly and jocundly; but be thou assured, that a day of reckoning will come, when, for all these wild and lawless courses of thine, God will call thee to a just and severe judgment.
XI. 10 Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity. Therefore strive to refrain all thy headstrong passions, and rid thyself of those vicious affections and dispositions whereto thou art subject; for thy childhood and youth, wherein thou now vainly rejoicest, are momentary things, gone and passed, ere thou canst find thou enjoyest them.
XII. 2 While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain : Before thine eyes grow dim with age, so as thou dost not clearly discern the sun, the moon, or stars, and before the evils and miseries of
age succeed one another in thee, in a woeful vicissitude: XII. 3 In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, Before the time, that thine arms, which are the guard of this thy house of clay, shall tremble with palsies; and thy legs, which were thy strong supporters, shall bow themselves; and thy teeth grind slowly and difficultly, because they are few; and thine eyes, which are as glasses in the windows of the head, be dusky and darkened :
XII. 4 And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low ; When the street doors shall be shut upon thee, as now retired to thine own home, without care of others' visitations or affairs; when thy slow feeding shall have made thee unfit for other men's tables ; when every little noise, but of a bird, shall wake thee out of thy sleep;
and when thy spirits shall be so dull and dejected, that thou shalt take no pleasure in the hearing of the most melodious music:
XII. 5 Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail : because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets : When thy decrepit age shall make thee so unfit to move, that thou shalt be afraid of every rub or clod that lies in thy way; when the white blossoms of age shall cover thy head; and every light thing, though it be but of the weight of a grasshopper, shall seem bur. densome to thee; and all those lusts and desires, which baunted thy stronger times, are now gone and past: for there is no way but this one; man goeth to his long home, the grave; and the mourners, in a hired formality, go about the streets :
XII. 6 Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be brohen, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern,
Before ever all thy natural and vital spirits be utterly exhausted, and all the functions and offices of life be quite discharged; which shall be in the last act of death; for, as, when the cord is loosed, and the bucket broken, and the pitcher broken at the well, or the wheel at the cistern, no water can any more be drawn; so when these vital parts fuil, can there be no longer protraction of life.
XII. 10 The preacher sought to find out acceptable words : and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. The Preacher sought to find out excellent and divine sentences, and matters of high and singular use; and such he hath indeed attained unto; for that, which is written by him, is full of admirable wisdom and truth.
XII. 11 The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. The words of the wise and boly prophets of God are of singular benefit, for they are as goads to prick us forward to all good duties: yea, they go yet deeper; they are as nails driven up to the head, by gracious teachers, so as they cannot easily be pulled out: which words, however they be delivered to us, by several messengers, yet they come all originally from one hand, even from the great Pastor of his Church, the Word of his father.
XII. 12 And further, by these, my son, be admonished : of making many books there is no end ; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. By these divine words, O my son, do thou content thyself to be admonished; not roving in thy desires after multitude of other volumes, whereof there is no end; in the compiling and reading of which, there is much toil and weariness of the flesh, and much expence of the spirits.
THE SONG OF SOLOMON.
THE CHURCH TO CHRIST.
1. 2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth : for thy love is better than wine. Oh that he would bestow upon me the comfortable testimonies of his love; and that he would vouchsafe me yet a nearer conjunction with himself; as in glory hereafter, so for the mean time in bis sensible graces! For thy love, () my Saviour, and these fruits of it, are more sweet unto me, than all earthly delicates can be to the bodily taste.
1. 3 Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee. Yea, so wonderfully pleasant are the savours of those graces that are in thee, wherewith I desire to be endued, that all, whom thou hast blessed with the sense thereof, make as high and dear account of thy Gospel, whereby they are wrought, as of some precious ointnient or perfume; the delight whereof is such, that, hereupon,
the pure and holy souls of the faithful place their whole affection
I. 4 Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers : we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine : the upright love thee. Pull me therefore out from the bondage of my sins: deliver me from the world, and do thou powerfully incline my will and affections toward thee; and, in spite of all temptations, give me strength to cleave unto thee; and then both I, and all those faithful children thou hast given me, shall all at once with speed and earnestness walk to thee and with thee: yea, when once my royal and glorious Husband hath brought me, both into these lower rooms of his spiritual treasures on earth, and into bis heavenly chambers of glory, then will we rejoice and be glad in none but thee, which shalt be all in all to us; then will we celebrate and magnify thy love, above all the pleasures we found upon earth ; for all of thy righteous ones, both angels and saints, are inflamed with the love of thee.
I. 5 I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of K'edar, as the curtains of Solomon. Never upbraid me, () ye Foreign Congregations, that I seem, in outward appearance, discoloured by my infirmities, and duskish with tribulations; for whatsoever I seem to you, I am yet inwardly well-favoured in the eyes of Him whom I seek to please; and though I be to you black, like the tents of the Arabian shepherds, yet to Him and in Him I am glorious and beautiful, like the curtains of Solomon.
1. 6 Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother's children were angry with me ; they made me keeper of the vineyards : but mine own vineyard hace 1 not kept. Look not therefore disdainfully upon me, because I am blackish and dark of hue; for this colour is not so much natural to me, as caused by that continual heat of afflictions wherewith I have been usually scorched; neither this, so much upon mine own just desert, as upon the rage and envy of my false brethren, the world, who would needs force upon me the observation of their idolatrous religions and superstitious impieties; through whose wicked importunity and my own weakness, I have not so entirely kept the sincere truth of God committed to me, as I ought.
I. 7 Tell me, I thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon : for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions ? Now, therefore, that I am some little started aside from thee, O thou whom my soul notwithstanding dearly loveth, shew me, I beseech thee, where and in what wholesome and divine pastures, thon, like a good shepherd, feedest and restest thy Hocks with comfortable refreshings, in the extremity of these hot persecutions; for how can it stand with thy glory, that I should, through thy neglect, thus suspiciously wander up and down, among the con
gregations of them that both command and practise the worship of false gods.
CHRIST TO THE CHURCH.
1. 8 If thou know not, I thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents. If thou know not, O thou my Church, whom I both esteem and have made most beautiful by my merits and thy sanctification, stray not amongst these false worshippers, but follow the holy steps of those blessed Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, which have been my true and ancient flock, who have both known my voice and followed me; and feed thou my weak and tender ones with this their spiritual food of life, far above the carnal reach of those other false teachers.
I. 9 I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots. Such is mine estimation of thee, () my Love, that so far as the choicest Egyptian horses of Pharaoh, for comely shape, for honourable service, for strength and speed, exceed all other, so far thou excellest all that may be compared with thee.
I. 10 Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold. Those parts of thee, which both are the seats of beauty and most conspicuous to the eye, are gloriously adorned with the graces of my sanctification ; which are, for their worth, as so many precious borders of the goodliest stones, or chains of pearls.
I. 11 We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver. And though thou be already thus set forth, yet I and my Father have purposed a further ornament unto thee, in the more plentiful effusion of our Spirit upon thee; which shall be to thy former deckings, instead of pure gold curiously wrought with specks of silver.
I. 12 While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof. Behold, Oye daughters, even now, while my Lord and King seems far distant from me, and sits in the throne of heaven among the companies of angels who attend around upon him, yet now do I find him present with me in spirit: even now the sweet influence of his graces, like to some precious ointment, spreads itself over my soul, and returns a pleasant savour into his own nostrils.
I. 13 A bundle of myrrh is my wellbeloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts. And though I be thus delightful to my Saviour, yet nothing so much as he is unto me: for lo, as some fragrant pomander of myrrh, laid between the breasts, sends up a most comfortable