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The "oppressed must go free," —" every yoke must be broken." Who that reads this can forbear hailing the abolitionists of the slave trade as the deliverers of nations? What a disgusting and abhorrent sight in the eyes of heaven must England and other nations have been, prostrating themselves with signs of humiliation on public fast days, when at the same time this cruel oppression continued in their colonies! Let not, therefore, the friends of humanity and of England's welfare, remit their efforts in removing whatever real grievance remains, that unnecessarily curtails the liberty and happiness of any class of the community, or any portion of their fellow creatures.
Charity is to be extended to the necessitous. On this depends, we gather from the connexion, the prosperity of the nations reformed from the idolatrous worship of Rome. What an encouraging prospect is therefore held out to those persons who are actually and zealously employed in spending, and being spent, in the service of •those valuable institutions of charity which are the glory of this nation! It is the voice of prophecy to all Protestant nations, to improve the condition of their poor, as they hope to prosper in the dreadful conflict of the last times. A promise follows to nations who bring forth these "fruits meet for repentance:" and a conditional promise, in the language of prophecy, is, in some circumstances, though certainly not in all, an implied prediction that such a Spirit will be poured forth, that the Lord may bring upon his people the good that he hath said:— may such be his sovereign pleasure towards the reformed churches that yet remain!
8. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, And thy healing shall spring forth speedily;
And thy righteousness shall go before thee,
9. Then shalt thou call, and Jehovah shall answer,
By "thy righteousness," I understand God's righteous vindication of them from every evil, according to his promise to those who are his: and, by the " glory bringing up the rear," I understand, that their happy and triumphant career should.at length be closed, by the appearance of that divine glory of the Redeemer which is promised to all that wait for him. The reformed nations may say then, "there is hope in their latter end." But much remains to be done.
If thou remove from the midst of thee the yoke,
The putting forth of the finger, and the speech of falsehood.
Putting forth the finger has been understood of the pointing of the finger of scorn: and Mr. Parkhurst thinks it refers particularly to the insolent manner in which the ancients treated their slaves in giving them their orders. It may however, with great probability, be explained of the finger of the extortioner, counting his unfair gains; and in this case we may understand the speaking falsehood or vanity, of that '' getting of treasures with a lying tongue," * which Solomon calls " a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death." And is there not some fear that covetousness, and the dishonest principles on which trade is carried on, may ruin nations that have been saved from the idolatries of Rome?
* Prov. xxi. 6.
10. And shall draw out thy soul to the hungry, And shall satisfy the soul of the distressed.
This condition is again specified; and it is certain the structure of modern society has caused a great inequality in the command of the necessaries of life, and by rendering a large family, which used to be a species of wealth and power, a heavy burden to the industrious, has certainly produced, amidst all the improvements and increased wealth of society in general, much individual distress and suffering in many classes of the community.
Observe the promise that seems to await the Christian nation, that shall be found in this improved state : —
Then shall thy light arise out of darkness,
And thy thick darkness shall become as the noon:
11. And Jehovah shall guide thee continually, And shall satisfy thy soul in drought.
He shall renew thy strength,' and thou shall be as a watered
12. And they that be of thee shall build the ruins for ever.
And thou shalt be called the repairer of the breach,
A time of general gloom and darkness is foreboded, to overwhelm the nations; but there will soon be produced an exception in respect of such a people, should such a people, or remnant of a people, be found. And may we not infer from the passage before us, compared with other
1 Literally, " supply moisture of old, the foundations 'prostrated' to tby bones." for ages."—Stock.
* " Shall build the waste places
prophecies, that such a nation will be employed by divine Providence in the restoration of his ancient people; with whose restoration, as we have repeatedly seen, is intimately connected the personal appearance of the glorified Redeemer.
Another requisite is mentioned. The profanation of the Sabbath must be removed, or no national prosperity can be expected; without this there is no reasonable ground of hope, that the British empire, or any part of it, shall be the favoured nation foretold in Scripture, which is to have so high and so great a destiny in the latter days — notwithstanding her maritime position, and other circumstances in her situation, or in the situation of her colonies, analogous to the country symbolized.
13. If thou shall refrain thy foot from the Sabbath/
And shalt call the Sabbath a delight,
And shalt honour it, not doing thine own ways;
Nor pursuing thy pleasures, nor speaking idle * words.
14. Then shalt thou delight thyself in Jehovah,
And I will cause thee to mount the high places of the earth:
And I will feed thee on the heritage of Jacob thy father:
If the application here given of this prophecy be correct, the morality of the Sabbath is at once established; and not only its obligation on Christian nations is en
1 " Forbear to prosecute thy bath day."—Bp. Stock. worldly business, particularly 3 So Bishop Stock. Perhaps,
needless journeys, on the Sab- "ordinary," "common words."'
forced, but the critical importance of its most strict observance to the welfare of nations, is clearly pointed out: and from thence, I conceive, may fairly be induced the right and duty of Christian sovereigns and magistrates, notwithstanding the clamours of licentious liberty, to enforce the observation of a Sabbath by penal laws and restrictions.
We pass to the next chapter, in our division the fiftyninth. Vitringa interprets this also of the low state of religion in the reformed or Protestant churches, immediately previous to the coming of Christ. His words are so remarkable, that I shall quote them in a note below.1
1 " Ecclcsin educta ex Babylonia mystica, post quam jnm bonum tempus in hoc statu pcrbtitibbct; senbiin autem magis magisque arctaretur; afiligeretur; minucretur; in prioro zelo suo flaccesceret; multis sensim mngis magisque invalcscentibus scandalis obrueretur; et denique extrema qiufique inttucret, dum potissimi rcges ad ejus exteriuinium conspirarent; quseque ecclesia proimle coiicipitur in magnis tsse angustiis. lino vero sensemus agi dc hac Errlesia, quo statu esse vitiato ft afflicto, proximo Libcrationcm,
quam Deus ei, cum oinnia desperata viderentur, prsestaret. Cum igitur populus ille, qui se gloriabaturesse 1'upulum Dei, et veram Ecclesiam, ab adultcrina separatam, iniraretur, se dum expectaverat longfc adhuc ninpliorem et generaliorem Rrformnlionis eflectum se progreisum, sensim inagis magisque immiuui ct arctum cogi; adversaries vero suos vires sumere et invalcscere; spein suam deregno Christi Jusu valdo amplicando concidere; quiniino principes mundi in suniu extenniniinn consIiirnre; dum ipse nullum circumspiciebat