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come partakers of his great salvation, ver. 4—5.—He announces the total abolition of the Old Testament dispensation, to make way for the establishment of the new œconomy of grace, the perpetuity of which is described in very strong terms, Ver. 6.—After which he predicts the certain destruction of his adversaries, who were to oppose the interests of his kingdom, and to act in hostility against his people, ver. 7—8.—The Church is then brought forward, encouraging themselves in the power of Jehovah, who of old had delivered their fathers from oppression in Egypt, and invested them in the possession of the land of Canaan, ver. 9—u.— This is followed with an assurance of God's merciful regard, and a prediction of the overthrow os those kingdoms who were to refuse assistance in founding the new kingdom of God, ver. 12—16.—Having mentioned the direful calamities which were to befal the people of God, they are called upon to be of good comfort in the reviving prospect of their deliverance, ver. 17—20.—The chapter concludes with an explicit declaration of their release from asfliction, and the execution of righteous vengeance on their enemies, ver. 21—23.
HEARKEN to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.
To comfort his peculiar people, who feared the Lord and obeyed the voice of his servant, the Messiah demands their special attention, and exhorts them to call to mind the stock from which they were descended. The persons to whom he addressed his discourse are thus characterized, Te that follow after righteousness. The Hebrew word tranflated righteousness, is used in
Scripture Scripture in various fenses, and is of such extensive import, that it is not easy sometimes to ascertain its precise meaning. Here it may denote truth and justice—the doctrine of the Son of God is emphatically denominated ' the word of truth,' inasmuch as it contains the most certain and important discoveries, ratisied and consirmed by God, who cannot lie, the precious promises made unto the fathers, and fulsilled unto their children; and ' the word of righteousness,' because the righteousness of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ, are •therein celebrated, which being believed from the heart, men become righteous before the Lord. It comprehends whatsoever enlightned reason, and the holy law of God requires; things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, and of good report. To follow after righteousness intimates, that, notwithstanding it was far from them, and apt to escape their vigilance, they prosecuted this worthy object with ardour and assiduity, convinced, that in the belief and obedience of the word of righteousness and truth consists their chief excellence, beauty, and utility; that destitute of righteousness, they should be deformed, miserable, and odious.—What an inestimable acquisition is this. 'The way of the wicked,' (faith the proverb), 'is an abomination to the Lord; but he • Joveth him that followeth after righteousness V This righeousness is the beauty and ornament of human nature, it constitutes a principal part of the divine resemblance, it is the peculiar esfect of the operation of God, the richest jewel we can acquire, the precious feed that springs up into everlasting life, the amiable object which we ought to endeavour with diligence and constancy to attain.
Te that seek the Lord, sirmly convinced of your absolute need of the enjoyment of his favour, which is4better than life, to your possessing true happiness, ye seek his face with your whole hearts, in the diligent use of those means he hath instituted. Deeply sensible, that his mercy, his assistance, direction, and protection, are indespensibly requisite to your
* Prov. Xv. 9.
felicity and comfort, ye are earnestly desirous to obtain from God these important blessings. In obedience to his command, and encouraged by his promises, who allows none of the posterity of Jacob to seek him in vain, ye assiduously endeavour, in the ways he hath pointed out, to obtain the fruits of his lovingkindness. Ye who are the generation of them that seek the face of the God of Israel, solicitous to enjoy the light of his countenance, and the good of his chosen people.—' It is now time to seek the Lord,' as faith the prophet Hosca *: it is not yet too late to commence this important business, in which I would have you, brethren, immediately to engage, animated by the gracious assurances, that they who are thus employed shall not lack any good thing, and that when you search for God with all your heart he will be found of you.—Persons of this dersciption are required,
To look unto the rock, &-c Scripture allusions to natural objects are adapted to the ordinary capacities of mankind, and therefore in some cases, as in the one before us, -do not require nice disquisition to unfold their import. The sigurative language used in this verse, was doubtless well understood by those to whom it was primarily directed, and for the benesit of all is explained in the following verse. The meaning of the exhortation seems to be this, Consider the ancestors from whom ye are descended, and from a careful survey of their character and circumstances, ye may learn many useful instructive lessons. Steadily contemplate the patriarch Abraham, the friend of God, the father of the faithful, your renowned progenitor, and six your thoughts on the good conduct of his virtuous companion for life, whose children ye are as iong as ye do well.
2. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you; for I calkd him alone, and blessed him, and increased 'him.
. * Chap. x. 12.
Fixyourattention.lsay, on this highly-favoured man, and his beloved wife, from whom ye have the honour of being lineally descended. Recollect how the Lord God was graciously pleased to call him, with his spouse, from among an idolatrous people, living in Ur of tie Chaldees, to enjoy the most valuable privileges, to worship the living and true God, to be the father of many nations, the heir of the world, the heir also of the righteousness that is by faith, and an eminent example of faith in God and obedience to his command. This vocation is said to have been peculiar to Abraham, because he only received command from God to leave his country and kindled, and to go out into a place which he should afterwards receive for an inheritance; and he went forth, not knowing whither he went *. Terah his father, Sarah his wife, and Lot his brother's son, accompanied him in his journey from Ur, to the land whither he travelled, determined to share in the fortunes of their respected relation. What an inestimable favour was conferred on the servant of the most high God, in being separated by divine authority from the society of those who were addicted to gross idolatry, that he might be wholly appropriated to the service of Jehovah! What a strong sense of duty must the patriarch have felr, what entire acquiescence in the wisdom and goodness of Providence, when, surrendering all his worldly interests, he became a stranger and sojourner on the earth! This is a subject, taken in connection with what follows, truly worthy of attentive consideration.
And bleffed him, with all manner of temporal and spiritual blessings. The Lord God blessed him with great riches, and large possessions, as his principal servant reported to the family of Laban. * The Lord,' said he, ' hath blessed my master greatly, and he is
* become great; and he hath given him flocks and
* herds, and silver and gold, and men-servants and
* maid-servants, and camels and asses j-.' He was blessed with frequent delightful converse with God,
* Heb. xi. 8. f Gen. xxiv. 3c.
who vouchsafed to enter into covenant with him, who granted him the forgiveness of sins, the acceptance of his person and services; hence we read, that 'Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to * him for righteousness *.' Besides, the Almighty rendered him a public blessing, all the families of the earth being blessed in him and in his posterity, whilst in his conduct he exhibited an illustrious example of faith in the promises of God, and of resignation to his will.—And increased him. All circumstances considered, this was an extraordinary event. Before the increase in Abraham's family took place, which is here referred to, the patriarch was near one hundred years old, Sarah was also arrived at old age, and never had any children. In this state the promise of an increasing posterity, numerous as the stars of heaven, must have seemed chimerical and absurd. Notwithstanding the promises that God had made to him, respecting his being the father of many nations, appeared highly improbable, yet Abraham was strong in faith that he would perform what he had promised, and against hope believed in hope. And his expectation was fully gratisied in due time.—These and other circumstances, relative to the father of the faithful, Jehovah requires those who follow after righteousness attentively to consider, that they may thereby be induced to imitate his good conduct. If, after the example of this great man, you are prepared, in obedience to the command of God, to leave your most valued possessions, and, reposing unsuspecting considence in the power and faithfulness of Jehovah, to surmount every difficulty that lies in the way of duty, you shall experience in due time the truth of his promises. In this view, compliance with the direction 1 have been explaining appears in a strong light, as highly useful to establilh faith and hope in the providence and word of God. When your condition seems most destitute, turn your thoughts to this venerable servant os God, and his partner for life,
* Rom. i». 3.