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Chapter 1 Verse 11
We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.
having described the church’s comeliness in the former verse, as she was beautiful under the legal dispensation, with the precepts of the moral and ceremonial law, and with that measure of grace which was then bestowed on her, proceeds in this verse to promise in his own, and in the name of the other two persons, a greater glory, and a larger measure of grace unto her, under the gospel dispensation. And,
I.The thing promised is, to “make her borders of gold, with studs of silver.”
II.The persons by whom this is to be performed, who are more than one; “We will make thee,” etc.
I.The thing promised is, that she shall have borders of gold, with studs of silver” made her: some read it, “turtles of gold:” the Septuagint render it “similitudes, or likenesses of gold”;111111Omiw>mata crusi>ou, Set Muraenulas aureas,Vulg. Lat. and it is probable they mean the images of some things, perhaps turtles, which might be wrought in silver studs, with pieces, or plates of gold, which also R. Aben Ezra seems to intimate; others translate it, “rows of gold”,112112yrwt ordines, Marckius, Michaelis. as in the former verse, it being the same word which is used there; our translators render it borders, respecting the borders of garments, where the Jews wore their fringes, and which, in Christ’s time, the Pharisees, who were ambitious of being esteemed more holy than others, wore very large. Now a promise of golden borders may here intend the glorious righteousness of Christ; that golden and silver studded work of his, that raiment and needlework and curious piece of embroidery, with which the church and all believers are beautified and adorned; in which the church, the queen, stands at the right hand of the King, the Lord Jesus Christ, as one clad in gold of Ophir. Moreover, by these “borders, or rows of gold, with studs of silver,” may be meant, either, 1st, The ordinances of the gospel, which are far preferable to those under the law; the church’s cheeks and neck were comely with these rows and chains, under the legal dispensation; but these are not said to be rows or chains of gold; the words jewels and gold are not in the original, but supplied by our translators, as has been there observed; but when he speaks of gospel-ordinances, which he would appoint, and his church should enjoy under the gospel-dispensation, he makes mention of gold and silver; as the Lord does in the prophecy of Isaiah, when he is speaking of, and promising glory to the church in those times, saying (Isa. 60:17), “For brass, I will bring gold; and for iron, I will bring silver; and for wood, brass; and for stone, iron.” Gospel ordinances are preferable to the law: 1. They are more easy, pleasant, and delightful; the ceremonial law was a yoke of bondage, and some of the ordinances of it intolerable; but Christ’s yoke, under the gospel dispensation, “is easy, and his burden is light;” those ways were “ways of pleasantness,” in which God would have his people walk under the law, much more are those which they are directed to under the gospel; if those statutes and carnal ordinances were “more to be desired than gold, yea, than fine gold,” much more are those which believers enjoy now; the ordinances of that legal dispensation were servile and slavish, and suited to persons who were under a spirit of bondage; but those of the gospel became Christ’s freemen, to be found in obedience to, and are no ways an infringement of their spiritual liberty, but rather an advancement of it; these commandments are no ways grievous, but every way delightful and pleasant, and are suited to a free, ingenuous, and gospel-spirit. 2. They are more lasting and durable; the ordinances of the Mosaic dispensation were imposed upon the Jewish church until “the time of reformation,” that is, until the coming of Christ in the flesh, and the oblation of his sacrifice; for when he, the substance of all those shadows, was come, they vanished and disappeared; “the middle wall of partition is now broken down; the taw of commandments, contained in ordinances,” is entirely abolished, and the whole economy is at an end but the ordinances of the gospel will last till time shall be no more; when there will be no more need of such helps as these to assist our sight, or such lights as these to direct us in our way; they will last till the coming of Christ, till the “sun of righteousness arises with healing in his wings:” these are things which will remain, till then, unshaken and immoveable; the gospel-dispensation is a “kingdom which cannot be moved,” in opposition to the legal one, which is already moved, and entirely abrogated. 3. They are more clear and perspicuous; there was a great deal of obscurity in the legal dispensation; the faith of God’s children was led to Christ through dark representations and cloudy types and figures; but now, under the gospel dispensation, we all with open face beholding through those ordinances, which we now enjoy, “as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory.” 4. They are more spiritual; the ordinances of the ceremonial law are called carnal ordinances (Heb. 9:10). The external worship of the Jews was attended with a great deal of pomp and splendor, but not with so much spirituality and power of godliness as that of believers under the gospel, who “worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” 5. The obedience which was performed under the legal dispensation, was not so free and ingenuous as this, which is performed by believers under the gospel; that sprang from fear, and was performed under a spirit of bondage, but this from principles of love and grace. Believers, in their obedience to Christ, as under the constraints of love, are guided, influenced, and assisted by the Spirit of God, who is a free Spirit, or a spirit of liberty; for “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Or else, 2dly, The doctrines of the gospel may be here intended; which being “words fitly spoken, are like apples of gold in pictures of silver:” these may be called “rows, or borders of gold studded with silver;” for the doctrines of grace are by the apostle, in 1 Corinthians 3:12, compared to gold, silver, and precious stones, as are the doctrines of man’s invention to wood, hay, and stubble. Now these may be very well called “borders of gold studded with silver,” 1. For their valuableness; they are valued by souls who have tasted the sweetness, and felt the power of them, more than “thousands of gold and silver,” yea, more than their necessary food, nay, more than life itself; they contain riches of grace and glory, yea, “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” 2. For the glory and splendor of them; they give a glorious display of the divine perfections, and in a resplendent manner represent the glory of Christ’s person, office, and grace; and therefore the gospel is called the “glorious gospel of God and Christ (1 Tim. 1:11; 2 Cor. 4:4). 3. For their being tried ones; “The words of the Lord,” says the Psalmist, Psalm 12:6. “are pure words, as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times:” they have been tried by saints, and have never failed to support and comfort them, nor to guide and direct them in the right way; they have been tried by enemies, and have stood the brunt of all their rage, malice, and persecution. 4. For their durableness: they are as lasting as “borders of gold studded with silver.” Attempts have been made to destroy the gospel, and remove it out of the world, but have all proved abortive; it is an ever-lasting gospel, it is immoveable, a burdensome stone to all those who endeavor to subvert or remove it; though all things in nature are fading, perishing, and subject to change and alteration, yet “the word of God liveth and abideth for ever.” 5. They may be called “rows of gold,” for their orderly disposition and connection; there is an entire harmony and agreement between the truths of the gospel; one truth has an entire dependence upon another, and they have all close connection with each other; this is what the apostle calls the proportion or analogy of faith, Romans 12:6. 6. The gospel is full of the silver specks or studs of exceeding great and precious promises; it abounds with them, and is delightfully studded by them; it is filled with such a variety of them as are both useful and pleasant to believers.
Now there being such a display of the doctrines of grace, under the gospel dispensation, it appears to be far more glorious than the legal one; it is true, the law had a glory attending it, but the gospel has an excelling one; the law was “the killing letter, and the ministration of death,” but the gospel is the ministration of life, “the spirit that quickens;” the law is the “ministration of condemnation,” but the gospel is the “ministration of righteousness;” the law is that “which is done away,” but the gospel is that “which remaineth,” and will abide for ever. Or else, 3dly, By these “borders of gold, with studs of silver,” may be meant the rich and glorious graces of the blessed Spirit, and a larger increase of them under the gospel-dispensation; which are, 1. Rich and enriching, excellent and valuable as gold and silver; nay, grace is “much more precious than gold that perisheth;” it is rich in its own nature, and enriches all that are possessed of it; therefore, says Christ (Rev. 3:18), “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayst be rich.” 2. The graces of the Spirit adorn and beautify a soul, as much, nay, more than “borders of gold studded with silver” do the body; on the account of these the church is said to be “all glorious within;” and though believers in their nature-state were black, like those who “have been among the pots,” yet being called by, and adorned with the grace of God, are like “the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.” 3. The graces of the Spirit, are us lasting and durable as golden borders with silver studs; nay, more so, they shall not perish, can never be lost; grace is an immortal and incorruptible seed, which remains in the believer, and shall do so for ever. 4. A larger measure of grace is dispensed under the gospel-dispensation than was under the legal one; it was neither so clearly revealed, nor so largely communicated before Christ appeared in the flesh, “full of grace and truth,” as it was afterwards; and such a larger revelation and increase of grace must needs make the church look more glorious under the one than it did under the other. Or else, 4thly, These “borders of gold” intend the ground-work of a believers faith and hope, which is Christ, as “Jehovah our righteousness,” who is the only sure and safe foundation, and the “chief corner stone;” and the “silver studs” may the curious work of sanctification, with all the delightful fruits thereof, even those “beauties of holiness” which are so ornamental to, and do so much become the believer; Christ’s righteousness, imputed to us, is the ground-work and foundation of faith and hope; and his grace imparted to and wrought in us, is the superstructure that is raised upon it; the one the golden “borders,” the other the silver “studs.” Or, 5thly, Souls called by divine grace are meant, even the “precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold;” and as a great number of these being called in, enlarge the borders of the church, so they likewise increase the glory of it; this is one way by which Christ “beautifies the place of his sanctuary, and makes the place of his feet glorious.” Or, 6thly, and lastly, The glories of heaven may be here intended; for as Christ gives his people grace here, so he will give them glory hereafter, which he and the other two persons are preparing and making ready for them; and we need not wonder that these heavenly glories are represented by “borders of gold studded with silver; when the new Jerusalem is described, Revelation 21:18, 19, 21 as a “city of pure gold, like unto clear glass, and the street of it pure gold, as transparent glass, the wall of it of jasper, the foundations thereof garnished with all manner of precious stones, and the twelve gates, said to be twelve pearls.” Can any thing appear more glorious and magnificent than this account of that city, which has “foundations whose builder and maker is God?” and those, who are enriched by divine grace here, need not doubt of being partakers of the celestial glory hereafter. But let us now consider who they are that promise and will perform all this. For,
II.As the things promised are here mentioned, which are “borders of gold with studs of silver;” so the persons who promise to make these, are intimated in those words, “we will make thee,” etc. It is not the chorus of virgins, or the daughters of Jerusalem, who here speak; nor angels, who are both incapable of and unfit for such an undertaking; nor is God introduced here speaking regio more, in the manner of kings who sometimes use to speak in the plural number, when they only mean themselves; but a trinity of persons is, no doubt, here intended, even “the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, which three are one,” and are jointly concerned in all the works of grace, as they were in the works of creation: it is a way of speaking much like that in Genesis 1:26. R. Solomon Jarchi paraphrases it thus, “I and my house of judgment,” as he also does Genesis 19:24. Now the ancient Jews by this speech meant a trinity of persons, though the modern unbelieving ones, as Ainsworth observes, are ignorant of it; yet still retain the phrase, and use it as the forementioned Rabbi does, in those places where a trinity of persons manifestly appears: for the house of judgment never consisted of less than three persons. Now this work may very well be ascribed to them; for, 1st, The ordinances of the gospel are the institutions of all the three persons; divine adoration is given to them in all; and they are enjoined on believers, and are regarded by them, as being all equally concerned in authorizing them, and in sharing the glory which arises from them; thus for instance, baptism is required to be performed “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” (Matthew 28:19) and accordingly is performed in this manner, 2dly, The gospel itself is the work of all the three persons; God the Father is the author of it, and therefore it is called the “gospel of God,” (Rom. 1:1), and so is Christ, hence it is also called his, verse 16. and so is the Spirit, and therefore it is called “the ministration of the spirit,” (2 Cor. 3:8). The grace of all the three persons is discovered by it, and the glory of them all concerned in it; the Father sends it, Christ is the sum and substance of it, and the Spirit powerfully applies it. 3dly, The work of grace upon the soul is performed by all the three persons; thus the regeneration and quickening of a sinner, “dead in trespasses and sins,” is ascribed to God the Father, 1 Peter 1:3 to the Son, John 5:21, and to the Spirit, John 3:5. 4thly, The increase of grace, which seems to be the thing here intended, is owing to them all; thus grace and peace, that is, a larger measure of them, is wished and prayed for by John for the seven churches of Asia, from all the three persons (Rev. 1:4, 5). 5thly, All that glory which saints shall have hereafter, is procured and prepared by them all; the Father, he has prepared the kingdom for them from the foundation of the world, and it is his pleasure to give it to them; the Son he has opened the way to it with his blood, and is gone to prepare a place for them; and the Spirit, he is the earnest and pledge of it, he discovers the invisible glories of it to them, and will never leave them till he has made them meet for, and brought them into the enjoyment of them. So that all the three persons, in all these senses, may be very well understood as promising to make for the church these “borders of gold with studs of silver:” which shews, 1. That believers should have a great value for the gospel, and the ordinances thereof; seeing they are not only so valuable in themselves, being preferable to gold and silver, and are so useful and ornamental to the church, but are also the work of all the three persons, 2. That the work of grace upon the heart of a sinner, and the carrying it on to perfection, is done by an almighty power, and is the work of the eternal Three; the renewing of men requires the same power, and is effected by the same hands, as the first making of them did; those who said at the creation of man, “Let us make man,” say at this new creation, and in the carrying on and perfecting of the work, “We will make thee borders of gold,” etc. as they were all jointly concerned in the one, so they are in the other, which shows the greatness and glory of it. 3. That all these “borders of gold studded with silvers,” are made for the comfort, glory, and happiness of the church, “We will make thee, or for thee,” etc. the whole gospel, with all its doctrines and promises, are given for their instruction and consolation; all the ordinances thereof, for their comfort and improvement, as well as for God’s glory; all the grace which is provided in Christ, wrought by the Spirit in their hearts, as well as the glory which is laid up in heaven; all, I say, is to make them “a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.”
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