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12. And there are the lyre and the harp,
The tabret and pipe, with the wine of their banquets;
But they regard not the work of Jehovah,
To whatever extent drinking and drunkenness may have prevailed in ancient times, still this is in a particular manner characteristic of the habits of modem life in Europe, since the invention of spirituous liquors. Think of the millions of money spent annually on this enjoyment ! — of the multitudes of habitual drunkards in every rank of life — and of the many that come not under that degrading term, who make drinking the great solace of their lives; and pursue it, in the intervals of labour and business, to such an extent, as to drown all thought and serious reflection! And how ends the day with a vast portion of the higher classes all over Europe, but as here described? Hence the general ignorance of better things that prevails, which has scattered and driven away the flock of God; and brought on a famine, not of bread and water, but of the knowledge of the Lord.
W. Therefore my people are made naked, for want of knowledge;
And their nobility die with hunger,
And what, we may remark, has so much led to that remarkable ignorance of all classes respecting that in which all true knowledge consists, as the relaxed and luxurious habits of modern life, in which priest and people, nobles and plebeians, have indulged? There was always, no doubt, too much of luxury and self-indulgence among those of mankind who possessed, the means; but still we know, from other prophecies, that it was to be a distinguishing trait in the character of the last days, that they should be " lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God:" and, as we should ever remember, prophecy rarely con'cerna itself with other nations, but with those alone, who are the professors of the retigioa of revelation. But their judgment slumbereth not: —
14. Therefore Hades hath enlarged his appetite, And opened his jaws without measure:
And down go her pomp, and her busy throng,
And her festive noise, with him that rejoiceth in her:
15. And man is brought down, and mortals are humbled; Ay, the countenances of the lofty are humbled:
16. And Jehovah Sabaoth is exalted in judgment, And God, the Holy One,' is sanctified in justice:
JS&d sheep pasture at their leisure,
And kids' feed on the desolated dwelling of the luxurious.
The personification of Hell, or Hades, in this passage, representing a monster gorging himself with prey, has been always considered as a fine metaphor of the ravages of war, and its attendant calamities; but, as applied to that awful visitation of the ungodly in the last days, so much the theme of prophecy, we perceive a greater strictness in the truth of the symbol. For to "go down alter into hell," to fall suddenly ingulfed in. everlasting
1 So Bishops Lowth and Stock. is, Jesus, made to us of God Muk>
—Perhaps literally, "aud thatGod, tification.
who is the Holy One," the same, I 8 Turell and Seeker. "Strange
doubt not, as "the Holy One of ones."—Horsi.kt. God," the Holy One of Israel, that
flames, is ever in prophecy the fate that impends the last oppressors of Israel, and the last enemies of the Gospel. The result of this visitation is, " God's name is hallowed," and man is humbled: the Holy One of God, who appears as the advocate of his people, is vindicated in all his rights, and whatever could sully the purity of his holy religion, is removed for ever. Perhaps the last verse is a symbolical representation of Christ's kingdom, when, "after the wicked shall be cast out of it," "The meek shall possess the earth, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace."
In the eighteenth and following verses, a new picture is given us of these ungodly of the last days: —
18. Alas! for them that draw out iniquity as cords of rope,' And wickedness as the twistings of the wheel:'
19. Them that say; Let him hasten, let him speed his work, That we may see it; let it approach and come,
The design of the Holy One of Israel, that we may know it.
"Evil seducers," as we shall learn hereafter, are to "wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived:"
1 Simon observes, on this difficult word, trap, forte seinel, Jes. v 17," funiculus." Coll. Syr.JAjo*. 1 funiculus,' ab equabili, permixtis inter se rad. ma et K;b'. Bishop Lowth explains this line, " By long progression in iniquity, and continued accumulation of sin, men arrive at length to the highest degree of wickedness; bidding open defiance to God, and scoffing at In, threatened judgments; as is
finely expressed in the next verse." —' wf e-%omw iuaxgw.'—beptungmt. Bishop Stock renders: —
Woe unto them who draw on their punishment with cords of folly,
And the reward of sin like a cartrope.
'So I understand rhty, the wheel, or machine, by which the roperaaker twisted his larger ropes. there are, especially, to be in the "last times, scoffers walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming?" &c.
Nor can we well mistake the following verses, when we reflect upon the prodigies of moral instructors, who have engaged the attention of mankind in these late ages — the boasted ages of reason and philosophy: —
20. Alas! for them that call evil good, and good evil; Placing darkness for light, and light for darkness; Placing bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.
21. Alas! for them that are wise in their own eyes, And understanding in their own sight.
But this vaunted philosophy, it seems, applies no effectual remedies to the profligacy and injustice of the times: —
22. Alas! for them that are powerful to drink wine, And men of might to mingle strong drink ;'
Justifying the guilty for the sake of a gift,
And taking away the righteousness of the righteous from him.
The description, in the former part of this verse, had appeared wonderful indeed, were we strangers to those walks of life, where the ability and bad pre-eminence here described, has been displayed; and in very deed has brought many a man into notice, and into a connexion with the great, that has made him a future arbiter of the fortunes of mankind — and such an arbiter as was to be expected, and as the latter verse describes. Profligacy— the road to power among nations professing godliness, and power exercised by the unprincipled over the flock of
1 To manage.—Br. Stoci. VO1. I. L
Christ—is, therefore, among the signs of the last times — when the fire shall consume the ungodly: —
24. Therefore, as a flame of fire devouretb the stubble,' And as the blaze consumeth the chaff;
Their root shall be as powder,'
And their shoot shall ascend as dust;
Because they have despised the instruction of Jehovah
25. Therefore the anger of Jehovah U kindled against his people. And he hath stretched out his hand against them.
When he smote them, the mountains trembled,
And their bodies were as dung in the midst of the fields:
For all this his anger is not turned away,
These verses se'em to denote some signal judgment, which shall, previously to their consumption by fire, be inflicted on the apostates. "These are the beginnings of sorrows." Shall we point to the situation of Europe for these last thirty years? Truly the '' mountains," every thing elevated for rank and authority among mankind, '' have trembled :"' and the soil has been enriched with the corpses of millions of her inhabitants!
The executors of the last judgment, described in the twenty-sixth and following verses, I conceive to be no armies of mortal men; but the hosts of holy oues, symbolized in the parallel prophecies as coming with the Redeemer. The lion, therefore, of the twenty-ninth verse, in none other than the " lion of the tribe of Judah :"r-t:
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