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Chapter 3 Verse 10

He made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom thereof of gold,
the covering of it of purple; the midst thereof being paved with
love, for the daughters of Jerusalem.

first wordchurch goes on to give some farther account of this chariot, which Christ, the true Solomon, had made for himself; and says,

I.That “the pillars of it were of silver.”

II.The “bottom of gold.”

III.The “covering of purple.” And,

IV.That “the midst of it was paved with love; and that either by or for the daughters of Jerusalem.” Now the explanation of these several parts must be according to the several senses which have been given of the chariot in the former verse. And,

I.If by the chariot we understand the human nature of Christ, then,

1st, By the pillars of it, are meant the several graces of the Spirit, which both adorned and supported it; for besides the habitual holiness of his nature, and the innocence of his life, there appeared in him a strong faith in God; and that not only throughout the whole of his life, but in the midst of his dolorous sufferings, nay, when deserted by his Father; as also great courage and magnanimity of mind, as well as much patience and humility in doing and suffering all he did: and these may be called pillars, both for the mighty strength that was in them; for grace was not weak in Christ, as it is in us; and also for the support they were of unto him; in the exercise of which the chariot of the human nature was kept, as it were, upon its wheels: and these are said to be of silver, to denote the excellency, brightness, and solidity of those graces; and which appeared to be so, even when as silver they were tried in the furnace of affliction. And,

2dly, By the “bottom of gold,” may be meant his deity; and so denotes, that the subsistence of the human nature is in the divine person; the human nature never did, nor never will subsist without it; as soon as ever it was conceived in the virgin’s womb, it was united to the divine person of Christ, and has ever been since supported by it, both in its state of humiliation and exaltation; it is this which lies at the bottom of, and puts an efficacy into all Christ’s mediatorial actions, and makes them powerful to answer the ends for Which they are performed; the effusion of his blood, the oblation of his sacrifice, and the bringing in of a righteousness, would not have been sufficient to have expiated sin, satisfied justice, answered the demands of a righteous law, and discharged the sinner, had they not been the blood, sacrifice, and righteousness of God; it is the impress of Deity upon them, which makes them efficacious to answer all these purposes. Now this being called a bottom, is no ways a lessening or a diminution of the glory of Christ’s deity, any more than his being called a foundation is; but rather serves to set forth the glory and greatness of it, as its being said to be of gold manifestly shews. And then also,

3dly, By the purple covering of this chariot, which seems to be in allusion to the curtains of the tabernacle, Exodus 26:1 may be meant, either the passion and sufferings of Christ in the human nature, by which his garments were as though they had been dyed; and he appeared red in his apparel; nay, clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; so that the covering of the human nature of Christ may well be said to be of purple: or else, it means his royal dignity, and his exaltation, after sufferings; this being a color used by kings and great persons; he was clothed with a purple robe before his sufferings, by way of derision; but now he is really made lord and Christ; he was then, in a way of mockery, crowned with thorns; but now, in the same nature, is crowned with glory and honor. And then,

4thly, By the midst of it, which is paved with love for the daughters of Jerusalem, may be meant the heart of Christ, which is filled with, and, as It were, paved with love for poor sinners; or, as the word430430ãwxr succensum, Montanus, Marckius; accensum, sive exustum, some in Vatablus, so Aben Ezra jpxr is used to signify a live coal, in Isaiah 6:6. vial. Mercer. in loc. so inflammatus amore conjugis, is used by Virgil, AEneid.1. 3. 5:330. may be rendered, enflamed, or set on fire with love: It was this that moved him to espouse their cause, take upon him the care and charge of their persons, assume their nature, and die in their room and stead; which love of his, as to its quality, is the best; as to its degree, the greatest; as to its duration, for ever; from whence there is no separation, to which there is no parallel; and at present, to us finite creatures, incomprehensible: and all this is for the daughters of Jerusalem, the elect of God, or young converts; that is, it is all for their sakes, and out of love to them he made this chariot, or assumed human nature, according to what is said, Hebrews 2:14, “forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same:” or else the meaning is,. that such is the love of Christ towards these daughters, that if any one could but look into his heart, they would find the very images and pictures of them drawn there; who are not only engraven upon the palms of his hands, but are also set as a seal upon his heart; which was prefigured by the high-priest’s bearing the names of the children of Israel in the breast-plate of judgment upon his heart, before the Lord continually; all which is expressive of that strong affection which he has unto them. But then,

II.If by the chariot we understand the church of Christ, then,

1st, By the pillars thereof are meant the ministers of the gospel; so of James, Cephas and John, the apostle Paul says, that they seemed to be pillars, and such as these are intended by the seven pillars, which wisdom had hewn out, and built her house upon, in Proverbs 9:1 who, for their strength, stability, and support to the church of Christ, may be compared to those two pillars in the porch of the temple, which are called, the one Jachin, and the other Boaz: for these are of great strength to the building; there is a very great weight rests upon them; these are the legs in Christ’s body, which, like pillars of marble, stand firm and immoveable, notwithstanding the several pressures of reproaches, afflictions, persecutions, etc. which fall very hard and heavy upon them; for none of these things move them; but with an unshaken courage and magnanimity of mind they stand up under them; and in so doing, are very great supports to the cause, interest, and church of Christ; for though Christ is the foundation and the chief corner-stone, yet these are pillars, and have their usefulness. Now these are said to be of silver, because of their valuableness, both in the esteem of Christ, who has placed them in his church, and from whom they have all their strength and usefulness; and likewise in the esteem of saints, to whom they are made useful; for the tongue of the just, and especially of a gospel-minister, is as choice silver: these are the silver trumpets, which sound forth and proclaim peace and pardon, life and salvation to poor, lost, and rebellious sinners; their words, when fitly spoken, and adapted to the eases of souls, either of afflicted saints, or distressed sinners, are like apples of gold in pictures of silver Moreover, this may be expressive of their shine and luster, both in doctrine and lift; who preach the gospel in its power and purity, hold the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience; and who, the more they are vilified, reproached, afflicted and persecuted for the sake of the gospel, the brighter they are, like silver purified seven times, And then,

2dly, By the “golden bottom,” may be meant Christ; who is the foundation of his church and people, on which they are laid and firmly built; and is the only foundation of their everlasting salvation, of all their faith, hope, joy and comfort here, and of their eternal happiness hereafter: and a good bottom this is; happy is every one that is upon it; it may well be said to be “of gold,” because of the glory and splendor of it; it is the “foundation of the apostles and prophets,” which they ministerially laid, and on which their persons are secured equally with others; hence the foundations of the new Jerusalem are said to be twelve, and each of them compared to a precious stoned to set forth the excellency thereof: nay, this foundation is a super-excellent one; for “other foundation can no man lay,” which is in any respect valuable, or upon any account to be compared to this “which is laid, which is Christ Jesus.” Moreover, for the durableness of it, it may be said to be of gold; for “the righteous is an everlasting foundation;” that is, the righteous man’s foundation is such an one; or he is built upon one that will last for ever; and such an one is Christ; a foundation that will never decay; but will always abide firm and strong; and is sufficient to bear the whole weight of the building to all eternity. And then,

3dly, The “purple covering” may intend either, 1. The suffering state of the church; being attended with a variety of afflictions tribulations and persecutions, and sometimes as it were covered with blood, as the histories of several ages testify. Or else, 2. Her regal dignity, to which she and all believers are advanced by Christ, who has made them “kings and priests to God and his father;” purple being a color in use among great persons, may very well represent this. Or, 3. Her being clothed with the robe of Christ’s righteousness; which may be said to be of a purple color, because it is the produce and effect of Christ’s blood, and is as it were dipped into it; hence believers are said to be “justified by his blood” in Romans 5:9. Or, 4. It may signify her being washed in Christ’s blood, together with the outward garments of her conversation, and so appear to be of this dye, And then,

4thly, By the midst thereof, which is “paved with love,” may be meant, either the hearts of believers, or of the church, filled with a sense of Christ’s love shed abroad in them, or inflamed with love to Christ431431Cujus media pars strata fuit amore foeminarum Jerusalem, Tigurine version; amorce filiarum, Vatablus, Mercerus. which, though it is sometimes in a decaying and declining condition, yet is never entirely moved; for who “can separate from the love of Christ?” that is, either from Christ’s love to his people, or from their love to him: or else, by this pavement of love in the midst of the church, may be meant the ordinances of Christ; which he has instituted for the sake of the daughters of Jerusalem, or young converts; through which he discovers his love unto them, and by an attendance on which they discover their love, both to Christ and to his church; and the church again discovers her love to them, by a cheerful admission of them to these ordinances. But then,

III.If by the chariot we understand the gospel and the preaching of it, then,

1st, By the silver pillars thereof,” are meant the truths and doctrines of it; which, like pillars, are solid and substantial, and continue firm and immoveable, and not like chaff, which is driven away with every wind; nor like such combustible and perishing things, as wood, hay and stubble; but like gold, silver, and precious stones; and are of very great use to support God’s children under the several trials and exercises which they are attended with, and that either in adversity or prosperity, in life or in death; and therefore for their value, utility and duration, may be compared to pillars of silver; and ought to be as diligently and carefully sought for and into as silver is, and to be received and preferred before it; for, to get wisdom in gospel-truths, “is better than gold;” and to get understanding in gospel-doctrines, “is rather to be chosen than silver,” Proverbs 16:16. And then,

2dly, By “the “golden bottom,” may be meant Christ himself, who is the sum and substance of the gospel: to preach Christ, and him only, as God’s way of salvation to sinners, was the old, primitive, and apostolical way of preaching; and which God blessed and owned, and continues so to do, for the conversion of sinners, and the comfort of saints: that gospel, of Which Christ is not the sum and substance, is like a chariot without a bottom; and such an one is good for nothing; for who would venture to ride in it? But where Christ is the main and principal subject insisted on, there is a good bottom, nay) a golden one; or a good seat, ajnakli>ton, “a reclining place,” as the Septuagint render it, to sit and rest in, or lean upon. And also,

3dly, By the “purple covering,” may be meant particularly those doctrines of the gospel, which concern our redemption from the law, and the curses of it; the pardon of our sins, and our justification through Christ’s precious blood; for which reason they may be said to be of this color. And,

4thly, This pavement of love may signify, that the whole gospel is full of love; wherein, in a very lively manner, is set forth the love of God the Father, in contriving and drawing the scheme and model of our salvation before all time; and in sending his Son in the fullness of time, to accomplish what was agreed on before, that he should do; as also the love of Christ in becoming man, sustaining all the sorrows of life, and sufferings of death; and al1 for the sake and in the room and stead of vile, sinful, and rebellious sinners; it gives us such instances of love as never were heard of before, which never were, nor never will be paralleled; its whole language is love; it is nothing else but a free promise and declaration of God’s love and grace to sinful man; so that it may well be said to be paved with it: and how delightful must such a pavement be to the daughters of Jerusalem, to all young converts, either to behold or sit upon, where nothing but the love that is between Christ and his church is beautifully described? But then,

IV.If by the chariot we understand the covenant of grace, then,

1st, By the silver pillars, may be meant the promises thereof; which, like pillars, are firm and. immoveable, solid and substantial; they are all yea and amen in Christ; not one of them shall ever fail, being free, absolute and unconditional; and therefore are called better promises, as being preferable to those in the covenant of works, which required conditions to be fulfilled before the enjoyment of the things promised. These, like pillars, are the support of God’s children, under the variety of troubles they are exercised with; these yield them relief, are reviving cordials, and fill them with joy and comfort when nothing else can. O! of what profit and advantage has a promise been to a sinking believer, when it has been seasonably brought, and suitably applied by the spirit! there are some promises which the saints would not have out of their bibles for millions of worlds: and these may be said to be of silver, because of their preciousness, richness and durableness; they are “exceeding great and precious,” are of more worth than “thousands of gold and silver;” and will last for ever, being the sure “mercies of David;” nay, the more they are tried, used, and handled by faith, the brighter and more glorious will they look. And then,

2dly, By the golden bottom of this covenant, must be meant. Christ; who is the covenant itself, not only materially, but fundamentally; he is not only the matter and substance of it, all the blessings and promises of it being comprised in him, but also the foundation of it; he bears the whole weight of the covenant, and is, as has been observed, the surety, mediator, and messenger of it. Now this bottom, for its richness, firmness and duration, may be said to be of gold; souls who are in this chariot, the covenant of grace, need never fear falling through; it can never be unbottomed; once in covenant, and always so; and therefore it is said to be ordered in all things, and sure; because it has such a bottom, it can never be broken, nor will it ever be removed. And then,

3dly, Its purple coveting may intend the blood of Christ, which is called “the blood of the everlasting covenant;” by which, not only the covenant is ratified, and confirmed; but all that are in it and are under this cover432432Purpura. sanguis Christi, ut autem operimentum, sive coelum lecti tegit eo qui in lecto sunt, ita & sanguis Christi nos tegit, Not. Tig. in loc. have their sins blotted out, hid and covered; so that when they are sought for, and the most diligent scrutiny made for them by justice, they shall not be found. Moreover, their persons are hereby eternally screened from the wrath of God; so that though showers of wrath shall fall upon the heads of Christless sinners, yet all under this purple covering shall be safe, and not have the least drop fall upon them; but shall, in this chariot of rich and glorious grace, be safely preserved, protected, and conveyed to eternal glory.

4thly, The midst of it being paved with love shews that this covenant is full of love: It was love that set Christ on work to make it, and engaged him to be the surety, mediator, and messenger of it; it is made up of nothing but love; love has filled it with precious promises and spiritual blessings; and all for the daughters of Jerusalem, to whom love in time communicates them: O! what a delightful and easy chariot must this be to ride in, which is 1ined with love! love is the hangings of it all around, and the velvet cushions and pillows on which faith leans; with what splendor, stateliness and majesty, as well as ease and pleasure then, does the believer go to glory? The Jewish writers as I have already observed, by the chariot, understand the tabernacle or temple; and by its pillars, bottom, covering and middle, the ark of the testimony, with the two tables of stone, which are more precious than gold and silver; the golden mercy-seat, the veil of blue and purple, and the seat of the Shekinah between the two Cherubims, which are upon the mercy-seat: To this purpose are the Targum, and the gloss of R. Solomon Jarchi upon the place. Moreover, besides the several senses which have been already given of these words, it may not be amiss to observe, that by this bride-chamber, as some render the word in verse 9 may be meant the royal palace; and how well the description of it in this verse agrees with what is given of the new Jerusalem, in Revelation 21 will best appear by comparing both together: which bridal-palace Christ is now preparing for his spouse, and when that is ready for her, and she for that, being “perfumed with myrrh and frankincense,” she shall be kindly welcomed and cheerfully received; where the nuptial feast will be kept, and Christ shall be seen by all the daughters of Zion in all his glory, and with his royal diadem upon his head, as he is described in the following verse.

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