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S. Collecting the outcasts of Israel,
I will collect more to him besides those that are collected of his.
The Israel of the first advent about to be received into the Christian church is, as we have observed, in the view of the prophecy. It was certainly a feature of that era, that besides the natural Jews, there was a great multitude of proselytes all over the civilized world, that had embraced their religion, and were accustomed to go up to Jerusalem to worship at the temple. That the greater part of these proselytes, like the mass of the Jewish people, were " children of hell," according to our Lord's rehuke, is but too certain. Yet, as we find at that time, some in Jerusalem '' waiting for the consolation of Israel;" so we know that there were, among the strangers and proselytes, " devout men from every nation under heaven." And it appears from the narrative of the New Testament, that a very large portion of the Gentiles, who were added to the Christian church, had been previously Jewish converts or proselytes; as Cornelius, the eunuch of Ethiopia, and many of the multitude of believers that were brought to the knowledge of Christ at the day of Pentecost. The passage, therefore, before iis contains a promise to the sincere proselytes, that their worship should be accepted, and that they should be admitted into the full possession of the privileges of his people, when the promises made to the fathers should be fulfilled. While the Mosaic law was in force, the stranger was debarred from many privileges in the family of God; and the eunuch was, by an express statute, * excluded for ever from the congrega
* Deut. xidii. 1.
tion of the Lord. But now the " middle wall of partition was to be broken down," and all disqualifying clauses were to be removed. In Christ Jesus there ia neither "Jew nor Gentile, male or female, bond or free." The most despicable and injured of the human race are no longer excluded, but shall be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites.
Our Lord's quotation of the latter part of the seventh verse, and application of it to the temple as it stood at his first advent, is a corroboration that this exposition of the prophecy is correct. Though his words, his mysterious act of cleansing the temple from its polluters, as well as the prophecy before us, may still have a farther reference to a future condition of that temple and holy mountain, which with Jerusalem, at the time of our Lord's observations, was about to be " trodden under foot of the Gentiles, till the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled;" and then, as we have seen, was to be gloriously restored.
The latter Part of the Fifty-sixth, and the Fifty-seventh Chapter.
With the ninth verse should commence a new section; and the transition is most remarkable. It opens by denouncing great harm and destruction to the flock, just said to have been collected: —
9. All ye beasts of the field, come to devour,
"I know this," saith St. Paul to the elders of Ephesus "that after my departure shall grievous wolves enter in not sparing the flock:" and this exposure of the flock, it is intimated, would be brought about by the corruption, the ignorance, covetousness, and profligacy of the Christian priesthood.1
10. His watchmen are blind, they are all ignorant, They are all dumb dogs,
They cannot bark:
11. Dreaming,' stretched at length, loving to slumber;
Yet are they dogs of great appetite,
And as for these shepherds,
All are looking to their own ways,
12. "Come along, I will fetch wine,
And let us take our fill of strong drink:
And as to-day, so shall to-morrow be,
What a picture is this of the corruption, the venality,
3 Perhaps, " Know not how to teach."
4 n»p, " aliquando pro univcrtitate sive toto sumi voluiu, utGen. xix. 4; Jer. li. 33; Psalm xix. 15, etc." etc.—Simon.
"'From the highest to the lowest.'—Jerome and Bp. Lowth." —Horsley.
4 See Bishop Lowth's translation.
1 "TSif, at the beginning of the tenth verse, has no antecedent but bioir in the eighth; the discourse, therefore, is continued: and Vitringa makes this an argument, that the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth verses are to be understood of a corrupt hierarchy in the Christian church."
* mn. dcliravit, ut Arab. Ij* et ,_5 iVft, deliravit vcl per somnuin
find profligacy of the Christian clergy, which, in point of fact, begun very early to take place in the church, and continued for many ages. One cannot help thinking our poet Milton had this passage in view in his Lycidas : —
• Enow of such as for their bellies sake
Creep, and intrude, and climb into the fold.
Of other care they little reck'ning make,
Than how to bramble at the shearers' feast,
And shove away the worthy bidden guest;
Blind mouths'. that scarce themselves know how to hold
A sheep-hook, or have learn'd ought else the least
That to the faithful herdman's art belongs;
What recks it them? What need they? They are sped;
And when they list, their lean and flashy songs
Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw;
The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed;
But, swoll'n with wind, and the rank mist they draw,
Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread:
Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw
Daily devours apace, and nothing said, &c.
1. The righteous hath perished ' from off the earth,'
The beloved' have been gathered in,
Surely from the evil is the righteoun gathered,
They shall rest on their beds,
To walk each ' in a way' made straight before him.'
The two last verses quoted are certainly somewhat
1 Literally, men of loving kind- which God will render prosperous.
ness, or who are the olyecls 01 For this translation compare Judg.
possessors of grace. xviii. 6.
- Mule straight before linn, or
obscure. I think they refer to the great diminishing of the mystic body of Cljrist, so that its members come at length to be almost removed out of the sight of men ; and are few indeed, in comparison of the multitude of false teachers and carnal professors: compare Psalm xii.: "Help, Lord, there is not one godly man left," &c.; and also chap. xxiv. 16, &c. of this prophet. The last verse is parallel to Revelation, xiv. 13 4 "Write, from henceforth blessed are the dead, who die in the Lord. Even so, saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them."
From the connexion it ia evident, that what follows in the prophecy relates to the same apostate church, from whence the righteous had perished; "The faithful city" now " become a harlot" — the propagator of the most abominable idolatries. It seems to mark a progress in corruption: —
3. But ye, approach hither, ye sons of the sorceress, Ye seed of the adulterer and the harlot.
4. Of whom do ye make your sport.
At whom do ye widen the mouth, and loll the tongue?
5. Consoling yourselves with ' idols under every green tree?
Slaying the children in the valleys,
6. Among the smooth stones of the valley is thy portion;
Even to them thou pourest thy drink-ofFering,
The prophecy means, by specifying all the idolatrous