Margaret Durham was the wife of James Durham. This is an extract from her Epistle Dedicatory, 1669, to her husband’s Commentary on the Song of Solomon. Her letter is impressive, being much more spiritually full and edifying, savoring of a rich, experiential acquaintance with the deeps truths of Christ’s Word, than even the preface to the reader by the justly renowned scholar, John Owen. In it you will find, sweetly and graphically described, Christ’s communion with His beloved people.
My blessed husband [James Durham], the author of this piece, as according to the grace given unto him… has been led to open up [this] book of the holy scriptures, wherein the Lord’s people did very much desire to know the mind of the Spirit, [it] being somewhat darker, and less easily understood, than many, if not than all the rest… this book of Solomon, the Song of Songs, or the most excellent Song;
containing the largest and liveliest discoveries of the love of Jesus Christ, the King, Bridegroom, and Husband of his church, to her His Queen, Bride, and Spouse; and of hers to Him, with those spiritually glorious interviews, holy courtings, most superlative, but most sincere, commending and cordial entertainings of each other, those mutual praisings and valuings of fellowship;-those missings, lamentings, and bemoanings of the want thereof;-
those holy impatiencies to be without it, swelling to positive and peremptory determinations, not to be satisfied, nor comforted in any thing else, those diligent, painful and restless seekings after it, till it be found and enjoyed, on the one hand;-and those sweet, and easy yieldings to importunity, and gracious grantings of it, on the other; with those high delightings, solacings, complacencies, and acquiescings in, and heartsome embracings of one another’s fellowship:-
…those failings, faultings, lyings a-bed, and lazinesses, and thereupon, when observed, those love-faintings, swarfings, swoonings, seekings and sorrowings on the one side; and those love followings, findings, pityings, pardonings, passings by, rousings, revivings, supportings, strengthenings, courings, confirmings, and comfortings, with most warm and kindly compellations, on the other: (O let men and angels, wonder at the kingly condescending, the majestic meekness, the stately stooping, the high humility, and the lofty lowliness that conspicuously shines forth here on the Bridegroom’s part!)
-those love languishings, feverings, sickenings, holy violentions, apprehendings, and resolute refusings to let go on the one part, and those love unheartings, heart-ravishings, captivatings, and being overcome: those love arrests and detainments in the galleries, as if nailed (to speak so with reverence) to the place, and sweetly charmed into a kind of holy impotency, to remove the eye from looking on so lovely an object, on the other:
-those bashful, but beautiful blushings, humble hidings, and modest thinking shame to be seen or heard speak, on the Bride’s part, and those urgent callings, and in a manner compellings, to compear, with those serious professings of singular satisfaction, to hear her sweet voice, and to see her comely countenance on the Bridegroom’s part…
…Those frequently claimed, avouched, boasted of, and gloried in, mutual interests:- Those love restings, and resposings on the arm, and on the bosom of one another, with these serious and solemn chargings and adjurings not unseasonably to disturb and interrupt this rest and repose:
-Those mutual kind invitings, and hearty accepting of invitations; those comings and welcomings; those feastings, feedings, and banquetings on all manner of pleasant fruits, chief spices, and best wines, even the rarest and chiefest spiritual dainties and delicates:
-Those pleasant, refreshful airings and walkings together in the fragrant fields, villages, woods, orchards, gardens, arbours, umbrages, and as it were, labyrinths of love:
-Those stately magnificent and majestic describings of one another, as to stature, favor, beauty, comely proportion of parts, curious deckings and adornings, seet-smelling odoriferous anointings, powderings, and perfumings, holding forth their respective qualifications, endowments, accomplishments, perfections, and excellencies, whereof all things in the world, bearing such names, are but dark, dull, and empty resemblances…
Who can speak suitably, and as he ought of this noble, notable subject, the love of Christ to His church, that breathes so sweetly and strongly throughout this Song, and that which by its sovereign influence so powerfully draw forth the church’s love after Him: a heart be-drenched with, and a tongue and pen dipped in the sense of this love, would do well; sure the reading, writing, speaking, hearing, and meditating of this song, treating of so transcendently excellent a theme, and in so spiritually sublime and lofty a strain, calls for a most spiritual and divine frame of heart.