The merchandise of gold and silver, and precious stones,
and of pearls
Things for treasure and ornament, and with which the great whore is said to be decked, ( Revelation 17:4 ) and, literally understood, may denote the vast riches which these spiritual merchants, or factors for Rome, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests, monks, and friars, bring into their own coffers and the pope's, by the trade they drive in her wares with the souls of men; and may have also a regard to what their images, chalices, crowns, mitres are made of, and what some of them are adorned with; and as Tyre, to whom the reference is in the several particulars of this account, had her merchants for these things, ( Ezekiel 27:12 Ezekiel 27:16 Ezekiel 27:22 ) so Mr. Brightman thinks that in these, and in some following ones, Spain is Rome's merchant, which fetches them from the Indies for her: but these things, mystically taken, sometimes design the doctrines of the Gospel, ( 1 Corinthians 3:12 ) and which are to be preferred to, and more to be esteemed than thousands of gold and silver; and these Rome's merchants pretended to deliver out; but instead of them, they put off wood, hay, and stubble, yea, doctrines of devils, and lies in hypocrisy; and sometimes the grace of God is meant, ( Revelation 3:18 ) which is more precious than gold that perisheth; and this they pretend to convey to men "ex opere operato", in the ordinances, as baptism and to communicate the Spirit, with his gifts and graces, for money, which is direct simony; yea, they pretend to sell eternal life, nay, Christ, and God himself:
and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet:
things which belong to apparel and dress; and, literally taken, the "fine linen" is for their copes, wore by bishops and by chanters, and sub-chanters, and for surplices wore by their priests, in imitation of the Jewish priests, and for Mass clothes the "purple, silk", and "scarlet", were for the popes, cardinals, archbishops, and bishops; so the woman on the scarlet coloured beast is said to be arrayed in purple and scarlet, ( Revelation 17:4 ) , Tyre had its merchants for these, ( Ezekiel 27:7 Ezekiel 27:16 Ezekiel 27:24 ) the fine linen and silk may mystically denote the holy lives, good works, and merits of the saints, those of them called works of supererogation, which become the church's stock, and they sell out for others that want; which is a monstrous kind of ware, and a dreadful imposition upon men, since men cannot be saved and justified by works; and the best of men are so far from having a redundancy of works, that in everything they sin and offend, and are greatly deficient: and they are so far from helping others, that they are unprofitable servants themselves: the purple and scarlet may signify the blood of Christ, which they pretend to sell in the Mass; nay, they have pretended to have had the very liquid blood of Christ, which they have carried in a crystal glass, thick on one side, and transparent on the other; and so could not be seen by persons in a mortal sin, until they had given a good deal of money, and then the clear side was by sleight of hand turned to them; and which was no other than the blood of a duck, renewed weekly by the priest; which trick for a long time brought in vast sums of money, and was detected at Hales in Gloucestershire, in Henry the Eighth's time; or these may intend the sufferings of the saints, which likewise come into the treasure of the church, and are at its dispose for money, the virtue of which being very great for the salvation of men's souls:
and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner
vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble:
things for utensils and furniture, not so much for their houses, as for their churches; Tyre had its merchants for these, ( Ezekiel 27:5 Ezekiel 27:6 Ezekiel 27:12 Ezekiel 27:13 Ezekiel 27:15 ) . "Thyine wood", Pliny says F9, was very durable, and of it the rafters of ancient temples were made; and may design such like lasting and odoriferous wood as cypress, cedar used in the Popish churches, for the embellishing of them, and for images in them; it may be the same with the wood of the Almug, or Algum trees, since these are rendered thyine wood in the Vulgate Latin version in ( 1 Kings 10:11 1 Kings 10:12 ) ( 2 Chronicles 9:10 2 Chronicles 9:11 ) vessels of ivory may be boxes made thereof, in which the host is put, and the relics of saints are preserved: and "vessels of most precious wood", or "stone", as the Alexandrian copy, Vulgate Latin, and Ethiopic versions read,
and of brass, iron, and marble,
may intend various vessels used in their churches; as vessels for holy water, fonts of marble, and other valuable stones, for baptism, censers of iron and brass to burn incense in. Cocceius thinks that by these vessels of different materials are meant good men; who are like sweet smelling wood for the fragrancy of their doctrines and lives; and like iron, brass, and marble, for their courage, constancy, and patience; and who have been canonized for saints, which has brought in much money into the pope's coffers: this is a practice in imitation of the Heathens, who deified men, and set them over particular days and affairs; and the privileges of such canonization among the Papists are, that such a saint has his name set in the calendar in red letters, may have churches and altars dedicated to him, and his image set up in them, and a holiday be kept for him, and may be prayed to, and worshipped; a practice dreadfully derogatory to the glory of Christ's person and office, but is that in which these merchants have found their account; for through references, commissions, and reports, for proof of the saint's character and miracles, his friends are at very great expense before the affair is issued, especially if rich; our King Henry the Seventh was very desirous of having his kinsman Henry the Sixth canonized, and solicited the pope for it, but he would not do it under fifteen hundred ducats of gold, which the king thought was too much, and so declined it.
F9 Nat. Hist. l. 13. c. 16.