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Chapter 6 Verse 12

Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib.

first wordare either the words of the church, or else the words of Christ: if we consider them as the words of the church, then they may be expressive, either,

1st, Of that rapture which her soul was in, in the views of those heavenly joys which, some800800Diodat. in loc. think, she had been taking notice of, and meditating upon in the former verse; which, whilst she was doing, “or ever she was aware,” her soul took wing, and fled as swiftly in thought801801Nihil celorlus mente, Cicero. towards those happy regions, as ever the chariots of Amminadib ran: she seems to be in much such an ecstasy as the apostle Paul was (2 Cor. 12:2-4), when he was “caught up into the third heaven, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter;” who then knew not whether he was “in the body” or “out of the body,” and therefore in his account of it, leaves it as a thing only known to God; so she here says, “or ever I was aware,” or, as it is in the Hebrew text “I knew not;”802802yt[dy al ouk egon, Sept. ouk oida, Symmachus; nescivi, Vulg. Lat. version, Mcrcerus; nescio quid rei sit, Tigurine version; non novi, Montanus; me nescientem, Cocccius that is, scarce where I was, or, whither I was going; or whither I was in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell; so sudden was the snatch, so surprising the rapture, that I cannot tell what better to compare it to, than the swift run of Amminadib’s chariots. Or,

2dly, Of her ignorance where Christ was, and yet her diligence in seeking of him; “I knew not, that is, where my beloved was: he departed from me, and was absent a considerable time, and I could hear no tidings of him; it is true, I had heard him say that he was come into his garden; but, alas! through my drowsiness and sleep I had entirely forgot it, until discoursing with the daughters of Jerusalem about him, it came fresh into my mind; but even then, when I knew not where he was, “my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib;” I ran about here and there in search of him until I found him, as swiftly as ever his chariots did; see chapter 3:1, 2 and 5:6-8, 9. Or else,

3dly, Of that prodigious haste she made, as soon as ever she knew where he was; and it is as if she should say, As soon as ever I understood that my beloved was gone down into his garden, to take a view of the trees and plants which grow there sudden, as it were and of the fruits of it; immediately, on a at unawares, such was the strength of my love and affection to him, that I moved as swiftly after him as if I had been in one of the chariots of Amminadib. Or,

4thly, Of her courage and resolution in surmounting all difficulties for the sake of him: love makes persons bold and oaring; “perfect love,” as the apostle says (1 John 4:18), “casts out fear;” and so it did in her; for she feared nothing that might befall her, and what did, did not discourage her; for though she was abused by the watchmen, and unveiled by the keepers of the walls, yet she drove on as briskly and as courageously as ever Amminadib drove on his chariots in the field of battle. Or,

5thly, They may be expressive of the modesty and humility of the church, in not thinking that such praises as those which had been given her, both by Christ and by the virgins in the preceding verses, belonged to her; “I knew not;” I did not think, being conscious to myself of my own imperfections, that such commendations belonged to me; but finding that they did, nay soul made the greater haste to answer those characters, and to enjoy the company of him whom I dearly love; and therefore she takes her leave of the virgins, her companions, who had hitherto accompanied her in the search of her beloved, that she might be alone with him; which occasioned them to say, in the following words “Return, return, O Shulamite, return, return, that we may look upon thee.” Though I rather think, that these are the words of Christ, as those in verse 11, also are; who, having gone down into his garden, to observe the fruitfulness of the trees and plants of it, declares in these words in what case he found them, or rather, in what he did not; “I knew not,” or I did not perceive them to be in a fruitful and flourishing condition: and to this purpose Junius and Tremellius read the words, Nondum percipientem haec, “Not yet perceiving these things;” that is, the vines to flourish, or the pomegranates to bud; therefore his soul put him upon using speedy methods to bring his garden, and the plants of it, into a more fruitful condition. From whence we may observe, 1. That sometimes there may be but little fruitfulness appearing in the churches of Christ: faith may be very low, as to its actings and exercise; the life and power of godliness may be much decayed; there may be but little warmth, zeal and activity for Christ, his gospel, cause and interest; the ministry of the word may meet with but small success; so that there may be no pomegranates budding, as well as no vines flourishing. But, 2. Christ will not always leave his churches in such a condition; but will make haste unto them, and bring them into a more fruitful state; he will come and revive his work upon the hearts of his people, and make them fruitful in every good word and work; he will bless the ministry of the word, not only for comfort and edification, so as his vines shall flourish, but also for conversion, so that the pomegranates shall bud forth. And, 3. It may be observed, that it is Christ’s presence that makes churches fruitful: as his absence causes a winter-season, both with churches and particular believers; so his presence is as the returning spring which renews the face of the earth, causes the flowers to appear above ground; the pomegranates to bud, and the vines to put forth their tender grapes; he is that ‘sun of righteousness,” by whose warm and quickening beams of light and love, souls “ grow up as calves of the stall.”

Moreover, these words may be expressive of that transport of love, with which Christ was filled towards his church, which caused him so speedily to return to her, as is here intimated; “or ever I was aware,” that is, on a sudden, and in a surprising manner, my love and affection to my church broke eat and discovered itself; which powerfully moved and inclined me to make speedy haste unto her, and afford her all the assistance I could, as well as grant her my presence, which she was so desirous of: not that we are to suppose that any thing comes to Christ at unawares, or is done inadvertently by him; but this he says to show the strength of his love, and in what a sudden and surprising manner it brake forth towards his church and people. And in these words may be considered these three things:

I.What it was that put him upon this speedy return to his church; “my soul made me,” etc.

II.In what manner this was effected, or what his soul made him to his church, in his return to her; it made him “like the chariots of Amminadib.”

III.Whose chariots these are which Christ’s soul made him like unto, or set him upon; or rather, who the persons are to whom his soul made him as chariots.

I.In these words we have an account of what it was that moved him to, or put him upon this speedy return to his church; which was not any worth or worthiness, love or loveliness in her; it was not her grace, nor the exercise of it, considered in themselves, but his own soul that moved him to it; that is, that love and affection which he bore in his own heart towards her; it was this that moved him first to undertake. her cause, assume her nature, and die in her room and stead; and it is this which causes him to manifest himself in a way of grace, and pay those love-visits to her, which he frequently does.

II.The manner in which this was effected, or what his soul made him to his church and people, may he here also observed; it made him “like the chariots of Amminadib.” 1. Like these chariots he moved swiftly to her: Christ is a “present help” to his people in their time of need; he helps them, “and that right early;” he makes haste, and delays not to afford them his assistance; for which reason he is said to be as “a roe or a young hart, leaping upon the mountains, and skipping upon the hills,” in chapter 2:8, 9. 2. He is like chariots to support, bear up and carry his people; he takes them up in his chariots of salvation, and carries them through all the troubles and difficulties of this life, safe to glory, as he himself declares he will, in Isaiah 46:3, 4. 3. He is as chariots to them, to protect and defend them from their enemies: That which chariots and horses are to others, that is Christ to them, and much more so; whilst ‘some trust in chariots, and others in horses, they trust in the name of the Lord their God; who comes with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire,” (Isa. 66:15). 4. It may denote the majesty and glory in which he visited her; which, as it was an instance of his condescension, so it was putting an honor upon her; that one so great as he, who is the King of kings, and Lord of lords, should visit one so poor and mean as she.

III.It may also be considered whose chariots these are, which Christ’s soul made him like unto, or who the persons are to whom his soul made him as chariots. Some take Amminadib here to be the proper name of a person;803803bydn ym[ twbkrm a{rmata jAminada>b, Sept. quadrigas Aminadab. Vulg. Lat. version; currus Aminadib, Tigurine version. who perhaps was one of Solomon”s chariot-drivers, and was famous in that way; was an artist in it, and who, Jehu-like, drove on swiftly, and furiously; and therefore Christ, speedily returning to his church, compares himself thereunto. Though I rather think, with R. Aben Ezra Jarchi, and others, that it should be considered as two words, thus, ammi, which signifies my people, and nadib, willing or princely; and so the words may be rendered, “the chariots of my willing or princely people. And this may be understood, either,

1st, Of angels, who are Christ’s willing people; who are always ready to do his pleasure, obey his orders, and execute his commands with the utmost cheerfulness and alacrity imaginable (see Ps. 103:20, 21), and therefore, one of the petitions in that prayer, which Christ directed his disciples to, is, that God’s will might “ be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” These are also the chariots of the Lord, as is manifest from Psalm 68:17. The chariots of the Lord are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: These are made use of by him in a providential way, to execute his will, and do his pleasure (see Zech. 6:5), and so they are in a way of grace; they are made use of by him to carry messages of grace to his people; for they are “all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.” These are his chariots, which he sends out to bring his children home; in these Elijah was conducted, body and soul, to glory; for the chariots and horses of fire, which carried him thither, were no other than angels, who appeared in such a form; by whom also Lazarus was carried into Abraham’s bosom; and perhaps Christ might here make use of the ministry of angels, and ride in these chariots in this discovery of himself to his church. Or else,

2dly, It may be meant of the ministers of Christ; who preach Christ and his gospel freely; “not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.” These may be called the chariots of the Lord; as Elijah, in 2 Kings 2:12, is called the “chariot and horsemen of Israel:” and they may be called so, because they bear the name of Christ, and carry and spread his gospel throughout the world, and are his chariots to bring home souls unto him, as the trophies of his grace (see Isa. 66:20), and in which Christ frequently rides and shows himself unto his people. Though,

3dly, I should rather think, that the people of Christ themselves are here intended, whom Christ is as chariots to; for so I think the words may very well be rendered, “or ever I was aware, my soul made me as chariots to my willing or princely people;” and so it points out the persons who shared in this instance of his grace: and these are said, in Psalm 110:3, to be “a willing people in the day of his power;” and they may be called so, 1. Because they are made willing to part with sin: This God requires, but man is naturally loth to do it; for sin is a sweet morsel in his mouth; “he hides it under his tongue, be spares and forsakes it not, but keeps it still within his mouth;” but when the Spirit of God convinces him of the exceeding sinfulness of it rhea what was before sweet, is now bitter; and what was delightful is now odious; and what his soul adored, it now abhors, and says, as in Hosea 14:8 with Ephram, “What have I to do any more with idols?” 2. Because they are made willing to part with sinful companions: This is what God calls his people to; but is a thing that is not so easily complied with, until by mighty grace they are made willing to it; for it is no other than a forsaking a man’s own people, and his father’s house; besides a great deal of reproach is cast upon them for so doing; for “he that departs from evil, maketh himself a prey;” but when the spirit of God convinces the soul of the necessity of parting with such company, and the danger of continuing in it; it is not only willing to do it, but also laments that it has been so long in it, saying, as in Psalm 120:5,6. “Woe is me that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!” 3. Because they are made willing to part with their own righteousness; not in point of obedience, but in point of dependence; not as ornamental to the Christian, but as constitutive of him; not as it glorifies God, but as it is made use of as a plea with him, either for grace here, or glory hereafter: again, not as it is a guard or fence against the reproaches of men, but as matter of boasting before God; not as it is agreeable to God’s law, but as it is opposite to God’s revealed method of justifying sinners by his Son-righteousness: but this, man is not naturally willing to; it goes against him to part with it, because this is most agreeable to nature; it is his own offspring, the effect of great labor and toil, and what affords matter of boasting to him; but when the Spirit of God convinces him of the weakness and insufficiency of it, and shows him the glory and fullness of Christ’s righteousness; he then desires with the apostle Paul (Phil. 3:9), to be “found in him, not having on his own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ.” 4. Because they are willing to be saved alone by Christ: man is naturally for bringing his own works, either as the sole cause of, or as partners with Christ in salvation-work; but when souls are made to see the imperfection of these, and that salvation is only by Christ, and in no other, their language is, “Ashur shall not save us; we desire to be saved no other way than by Christ;” and therefore they say, with Job, chapter 13:15,16, “though he slay us, yet will we trust in him; he also shall be our salvation.” 5. Because they are as willing to serve Christ as they are to be saved by him; and this, not from fear of punishment, but from a principle of love the love of Christ constrains them to it; nor do they perform it in a servile mercenary way, but freely; not as a task, but as a pleasure: for to them wisdom’s “ways are ways of pleasantness, and her paths are paths of peace.” 6. Because they are willing to bear the cross of Christ; this Christ requires of them, and this they readily and voluntarily submit unto: Christ’s cross is to them preferable to crowns and kingdoms: with Moses (Heb. 11:25, 26), they choose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” Now to such a free and willing people as these Christ makes himself as chariots.

But again, the word may be rendered, “my princely people;” and such are the people of Christ (see Ps. 113:7, 8), they are all princes, being the sons of a king; they are all heirs to a kingdom, have a crown of life, righteousness and glory laid up for them, and a throne of glory prepared for them to inherit; they wear princely robes, enjoy princely fare, and have a princely equipage; the angels of the Lord attend them continually as their life-guard. So the church is said to be a prince’s daughter, in chapter 7:1, and to her Christ here make himself as chariots, and takes her up along with him, that she might enjoy his delightful company, which she had so long sought after, and so much desired; which occasioned the daughters of Jerusalem, who had hitherto accompanied her in the search of him, to say, in the following words:

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