A garden enclosed [is] my sister, [my] spouse
At a little distance from Bethlehem are pools of water, and below these runs a narrow rocky valley, enclosed on both sides with high mountains which the friars, as Mr. Maundrell says F4 will have to be the enclosed garden here alluded to; but it is more likely that the allusion is to a garden near Jerusalem, called the king's garden, Adrichomius F5 makes mention of, which was shut up, and only for the king's use and pleasure: to which the church may be compared; for its being distinguished from the world's wide waste, by the sovereign grace of God; and for the smallness of it in comparison of that; and for its pleasantness and fruitfulness, having pleasant and precious plants of great renown; or consisting of persons of different gifts and graces; in whose hearts these are not naturally, or do not grow there of themselves; but are sown or planted and raised up by the Spirit of God, for which the fallow ground of their hearts is thrown up: and that everything may be kept in good order, as in a garden, the plants are watered with the grace of God; the trees of righteousness are pruned by Christ's father, the vinedresser; the fences are kept up, and the whole is watched over night and day; and here Christ, the owner of it, takes his delightful walks, and grants his presence with his people. And the church is like an "enclosed" garden; for distinction, being separated by the grace of God, in election, redemption, effectual calling and for protection, being encompassed with the power of God, as a wall about it; and for secrecy, being so closely surrounded, that it is not to be seen nor known by the world; and indeed is not accessible to any but to believers in Christ; and is peculiarly for his use, who is the proprietor of it; see ( Song of Solomon 4:16 ) ( 5:1 ) ; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed;
the allusion may be to the sealed fountains great personages reserved for their own use; such as the kings of Persia had, of which the king and his eldest son only might drink F6; and King Solomon might have such a spring and fountain in his garden, either at Jerusalem or at Ethan, where he had pleasant gardens, in which he took great delight, as Josephus F7 relates: and near the pools, at some distance from Bethlehem, supposed to be his, is a fountain, which the friars will have to be the sealed fountain here alluded to; and, to confirm which, they pretend a tradition, that Solomon shut up these springs, and kept the door of them sealed with his signet, to preserve the waters for his own drinking; and Mr. Maundrell F8, who saw them, says it was not difficult so to secure them, they rising underground, and having no avenue to them, but by a little hole, like to the mouth of a narrow well. Now the church may be thus compared, because of the abundance of grace in her, and in each of her members, which is as a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life, ( John 4:14 ) ; and because of the doctrines of the Gospel, called a fountain, ( Joel 3:18 ) ; with which Gospel ministers water the plants in Christ's garden, the members of the church; whereby they are revived, refreshed, and flourish; and their souls become as a watered garden, whose springs fail not. Though some read this clause in connection with the former; "a garden enclosed [art thou], with a spring" or flow of water "shut up, [and] with a fountain sealed" F9; meaning Christ and his fulness; from whence all grace is received by the church and its members; and with which they are supplied, and their souls are watered: and the phrases, "shut up" and "sealed", which, whether applied to the doctrines of grace and truth, in and from Christ, may denote the secrecy and safety of them from the men of the world; or to the grace of Christ, communicated by him to the saints, may denote the security of it, the invisible operations of it, and the sole exercise of it on him: for these phrases denote the inviolable chastity of the church to Christ, in her faith, love, service, and worship; see ( Proverbs 5:15-18 ) ; and are used in the Jewish writings F11, to express the chastity of the bride. Ambrose affirms F12, that what Plato
F13 says concerning Jove's garden, elsewhere called by him the garden of the mind, is taken out of Solomon's Song.
F4 Journey from Aleppo p. 89. Edit. 7.
F5 Theatrum Terrae Sanctae, p. 170.
F6 Theatrum Deipnosoph. l. 12. c. 2. p. 515.
F7 Antiqu. l. 8. c. 7. s. 3. Vid. Adrichom. p. 170.
F8 Journey from Aleppo &c. p. 88, 89.
F9 "Cum fluctu obserato, cum fonte obsignato", Marckius, so some in Michaelis.
F11 T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 75. Apud Wagenseil. Sota, p. 240. Seder Tephillot, fol. 203. 1. Ed. Basil. vid. Targum, Jarchi & Aben Ezra in loc.
F12 De Bono Mortis, c. 5.
F13 In Sympos. p. 1194.