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THE FIRST SERIES OF ISAIAJl's PROPHECIES.
In commencing with the first of these series of Isaiah's prophecies which I have marked out, the first chapter evidently presents us with Israel in that corrupt and apostate state into which they would fall, according to former prophecies. This picture of corruption is not to be confined to the actual state of things in the age in which the prophet writes.* This is proved by St. Paul's application of the ninth verse to the Jews of his days, f So that we are guided, by one who could not mistake, to consider this first chapter as a general prophecy of the state of the Israelitish church at the time of its rejection, at the first advent. This will afford us an important clue to the understanding of what follows. As, however, a chart on a smaller scale is sometimes of use to teach the relative position of points and places, whose proportions and distances, being further disjoined on the larger scale, are not so readily discerned by the eye; I will beg the
• Such too appears to have ter.—See Biblical Criticism, vol. been the late bishop Horsley's ii. p. I. view of ^he contents of this chap
t Rom. ix. 29.
reader, before entering on this larger prophecy, to turn back to the song of remembrance,* directed by God to be taught to the Israelites, in view of this their apostacy. What the song said—" This is a corruption, their blemish is not of his children," &c. the same is portrayed more at length by the prophet: —
2. Hear, O heavens! give ear, O earth!
I have nourished and brought up children,
3. The ox knoweth his owner,
'But' Israel doth not know,
My people doth not understand, &c. t
What would be the consequence, the song has told us— the rejection of that generation, their awful punishments, and the desolation of their beautiful country. So it is repeated by the prophet: —
Your country is desolate,
7. Your land, before your eyes, strangers devour it;
8. And the daughter of Zion is solitary, *
• Deut. xxxii. f Chap. i. 2.
1 " ani, inundatio nonnullis. are gone. Thus the Arab. £.
Forma e a-\p."—Simon. im, to make a thing single, dis
'Is left a solitary object, " sur- tinct, or separate. Bishop Stock
vives alone." TTr, signifies to extend renders, "is left behind." beyond; survive alone, when others
Like a lodge in the field,1
9. Were it not for Jehovah Sabaoth,
In a little we had been as Sodom,
Instructed by the apostle to apply this to that generation particularly, which rejected the Messiah at his first advent, what follows in the prophet will be found exactly to portray the superstitious and corrupt worship of the Pharisees — from the tenth to the sixteenth verse. In that verse, and the two following, how plain the demand of the moral law is stated! It discovers their guilt, not to be palliated or cleansed by formal sacrifices, and rites of ceremonial worship! And, in contradistinction to this, how beautifully do the eighteenth and two following verses describe the introduction of the Gospel covenant ! —
18. Come now, let us plead together,
1 Literally in a field appropriated to the growth of cucumbers, melons, &c.; in which, probably, a solitary lodge was built during the season of the fruit, and at other times deserted.
* lift, insidiosa observatio, speculatio; et per metanymiam specula, in qua fit observatio insidiosa. TP, derived from ny, fervere, vigilare, may signify either a
watch or a watch-fire. Compare the Chaldee, Tjr, Dan. iv. 10.
3 " This ninth verse must allude to some greater desolation of the country, than can be supposed to have been effected by Sennacherib's invasion."—" I agree with St. Jerome, that the ruin threatened is that which took place after our Lord's ascension, and the publication of the Gospel.''—Horsley. Are they red like crimson?
Be they like wool.
The event has shown, that, except that very small remnant spoken of above, Israel refused the Gospel message; and, for their contumacy, were given up to the sword of the Romans; their goodly land, also, is become a desert. Thus it had been foretold in the song to which I have referred, and which they were taught, that it might "bear witness against them." — "I will heap mischiefs upon them," &c.
Now, we have seen, in this shorter sketch of Israel's history, that after their awful visitation by these Roman enemies (so to call them by anticipation), the song immediately proceeds to describe these enemies, " Surely they are a nation lost to counsel," &c. * Their tremendous judgment is then described as the last victim of divine vengeance, and after that, the restoration and final happiness of Israel. Guided by this, I understand what follows in the prophecy, we are now considering, of these Roman adversaries: and the fulfilment of part of the prophecy has explained to us how that people, who dispersed Israel, afterwards sustain their character as a city of God upon earth; and became like them apostate, and the great adversary still of God and his people.
20. Surely the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken! * Deut. xxxii. 28.
21. How hath She become an harlot!
I filled her with judgment,
22. Thy silver hath become dross,
23. Thy princes are rebellious,
And are the companions of thieves.
Each of them hath loved gifts,
They do not right to the fatherless,
Neither doth the cause of the widow come before them.
This is but too true, as a picture of government and society, in that part of mankind which Rome civilized, and who were afterwards converted to the faith of the Gospel. The great city has long since become apostate; and is designated in subsequent oracles as '' the great whore," making drunk with the wine of her fornication the kings of the earth. The robbery of the great, and the criminal neglect of the poor, are awful features in the history of times foretold. In the great seat of Roman civilization, agreeably with what we saw in the close of Balaam's prophecy, will be found the last earthly enemy of God and his Christ. It follows: —
24. Therefore, the Lord hath said,
Jehovah Sabaoth, the mighty ' one* of Israel:
Ah! I will ease me of mine adversaries,
25. And I will again take thee in hand. *
* " Manum tibi itcruin admovebo, ut artifex operi."