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a remnant in Protestant nations, it does not appear from what we shall read hereafter, that the Roman Catholic world will ever be cured of this infection of disloyalty to lawful governments, and of infidelity towards God, so remarkably mixed with it: "Blasphemers," " traitors," according to the apostle, mark the " last" " perilous times" *—" promising them liberty, when they themselves are the servants of corruption." f
22. And he shall cast his eyes upward, and glance them on die
And lo! distress and darkness 1
As this relates to things to come, we can but conjecture its meaning. It may be considered as a general picture of great distress. The afflicted world, reaping the fruits of anarchy and irreligion, shall look around for some alleviation of their miseries; but heaven and earth shall deny it to them. Nothing but darkness and distress meet their eyes, whichever way they turn them. A rising storm comes driven along, and threatens to overwhelm them all in perpetual darkness. If this be the meaning, it is parallel to Daniel, xii. 1, and to Luke, xxi. 26, 26. But, perhaps, we are to explain the looking up of the apostate foe as a proud defiance against the Most High; his " glance upon the earth," or " upon the land," perhaps we are to explain, as some scheme of ambition, probably, against the Holy Land. This last interpretation, I think, to be corroborated by the connexion of what follows; though we must confess the language to be involved in difficulties.' I would venture to explain it: in this state of things in " Chittim," amidst these apostates of the last days, shall be gathered the materials of that mystic storm, which, you have learnt from prophecy, must at that season burst on our land from the north, and carry desolation through it, from one end to another. A storm is now, indeed, brooding, (the prophet referring to his own times), on the same border, which is the immediate occasion of
• 2 Tim. iii. f 8 Peter, ii. 19.
1 njrcr 'iwn," splendour of con- Perhaps, " darkness of tribula
densation;" not light, but darkness tlon," " blnckmss uf despair."
visible, or tftm, may be derived * Jttm rrJBK, " darkness of iro
from tyr, " faintness."—Park- pulse,"" accumulated darkness."
Hubst. "Dissolutio." — Vclg. —Lowtu.
'The passage is unquestionably difficult. I have preferred the rendering which, upon the whole, I think most correct. Bp. Lowth translates: " But there shall not hereafter be darkness in the land that was distressed; in the former time he debased the land of Zebulon, and the land of Naphtali; hut, in the latter time, he hath made it glorious: even the way of the sea beyond Jordan, Galilee of the n3110118."—Bishop Stock translates: " Nevertheless, the gloom shall not be as when the sore pressure was upon her; (is in the former season he made vile," &c. 'jpn and Taan are clearly in opposition to each other, and will bear the meanings ascribed to them by these right reverend cnininenUitors, (it'" ilI.l1:iMn<r," or " making
vile;" and of " making glorious:"' but I prefer the meanings given in our public translation—would only refer them to the gloom of the storm of the former line; it should first pass lightly over, but at a future period should rest heavy upon the laud. I think this is strongly corroborated by the manner in which the evangelist has quoted this passage; he omits the lines containing bpn and T3an, which, could they be rendered "to make vile," and '• to make glorious," the country, would have been particularly to his purpose. But he only mentions the countries specified, and points them out as the scene of wlmt the next verse describes. Bishop liorsley, however, contends for the senses of " debasing," and making " glorious."
the prophecy: but this is not that mystic storm of the ancient prophets, though you may, in the ravages of the proud Assyrian, behold a type of the last invader symbolized thereby.
1. Surely not the gloom that is about to overwhelm it! At the first period it shall lightly afflict
The land of Zebulon, and the land of Naphtali;
But, at the latter, it shall more grievously afflict
The storm that was to desolate the whole land of Israel and Judah, had now gathered, and had begun to settle on their northern border; they saw it, as it were, hanging black and gloomy on their horizon, and threatening speedily to pass through their country. But, at a future period, when Ashur and Heber should be destroyed, f a greater storm would gather in that district: You see, indeed, this country, at this present time, overwhelmed in the gloom of that black tempest, which hangs suspended over it: but that country, previously to that more awful storm of the last days, is to be a scene of peculiar mercies: —
2. The people who were walking in darkness,
The dwellers in the land of the deadly shade,
The land now metaphorically overwhelmed in the gloom of the approaching storm, and over which a heavier
» Chap. i*. f Numb. xxiv. 24.
storm will one day be seen to gather, will previously be the spot chosen for the manifestation of light, even the light of salvation, as we know from the fulfilment of the prediction. In this country, according to a former prophecy, we shall remember the Virgin's Son, growing up to years of maturity, was to " eat butter and honey." A more ancient oracle, also, had said: —
O, Naphtali, filled with favour!
Ay, replete with the blessings of Jehovah,
Are the sea, and the south of his inheritance!
The fulfilment of the part of the prophecy we are now considering, is thus pointed out by St. Matthew: " And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt at Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zebulon and Naphtalim. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet Esaias, saying, The land of Zebulon, and the land of Naphtalim," 8tc. &c.
What follows is remarkable : —
3. Thou hast multiplied the nation to him,'
They rejoice before thee like the joy of harvest,
To what time, it may be asked, can this apply? Certainly not to the prophet's days, nor to the season of the first advent, when the district above described was to be enlightened with the Saviour's presence in the days of his flesh. His people were then " a little flock," that " sorrowed while the world rejoiced." It appears, therefore,
1 11 MSS. the Keri, Vulg. and Syr. have -fr. See also Bp. Lowth.
that the prophet has resumed the subject; that what he had said of the lighter storm of the Assyrian invasion, and of the privileges of Zebulon and Naphtali at the first advent, was only introduced after the manner of a parenthesis; but that he now returns to speak of that mightier storm, which, it was known before, should in the last days arise on the same northern border of the land of Canaan. * The ravages of this storm, however, when it had fulfilled its commission, were to be succeeded by the everlasting blessedness " of His land, and of His people;"f accordingly, we find that it is the victory over their great enemy, which is the occasion of their rejoicing.
4. For the yoke of his burden,
The rod of him that oppressed him,
5. For all the work has been achieved in tumult,