I am Black, but Comely, O Ye Daughters of Jerusalem, as the Tents of Kedar, as the Curtains of Solomon.
As the greatest graces of God tend always to produce in us a deeper knowledge of what we are, and as they would not come from Him, if they did not give, in their degree, a certain taste of the misery of the creature, so it is with this soul; scarcely has she emerged from the store chambers of the King before she discovers that she is black. What is this thy blackness, O thou incomparable maiden? (we say to her;) tell us, we pray thee. I am black, she says, because I perceive by the light of my divine Sun, hosts of defects, of which I was never aware until now; I am black, because I am not yet cleansed of self.

But, nevertheless, I am comely as the tents of Kedar; for this experimental knowledge of what I am, is extremely pleasing to my Bridegroom, and induces Him to visit me as a place of rest. I am comely, because, having no voluntary [11] stain, my Spouse renders me fair with His own beauty. The blacker I am in my own eyes, the fairer I am in His.

I am comely, too, as the curtains of Solomon, The curtains of the divine Solomon are the holy Humanity, which conceals the Word of God made flesh. I am comely, she says, as His curtains, for He has made me a partaker of His beauty in this, that as the holy Humanity concealed the Divinity, so my apparent blackness hides the greatness of God's workings in my soul.

I am black also from the crosses and persecutions which attack me from without; but I am comely as the curtains of Solomon, because blackness and the cross make me like Him.

I am black because outward weaknesses [12] appear in me, but I am comely, because my intention is pure within.

3 the king hath brought
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