Page images

what they foretold. This remark tends to confirm our faith in the prophecies ; and the same remark, in some measure, is applicable to the whole scripture.

2. There is need of great resolution not to be led away by popular panics or common errors. The prophet himself seems to have been in danger of catching the fears of the people, therefore it was that God warned him against it with a strong hand, with a considerable force on his mind. We are ready to catch the groundless terror's of others, to imitite their example, and walk in the way of the people around us. We ought to watch against this, and labour after a sober singularity ; earnestly praying that God would secure us against the infection of ill examples, and preserve us in the way of holiness and peace.

3. A holy fear of God is the best remedy against the fear of man. I Pell's iii. 14. Sanctify the Lord of hosts in your hearts ; and make him your fear and your dread ; give him the glory of his power, providence, and promises ; reverence his universal domin. ion ; fear his displeasure ; and acquiesce in his disposals. This will keep our minds in peace ; preserve us from that fear which hath torment : and he will be our refuge and strength, and a very presenı help in lime of trouble.

4. Let us be thankful for the law and the testimony, and keep close to them. What is sealed up from the blinded Jews, is opened to us, the disciples of Christ, who have seen many of these pro. phecies fulfilled. Let us learn hence, to reverence and study the scriptures, to abhor the wicked practices of those who use spells and charms, who pretend to discover secrets and tell fortunes : this is heinous wickedness, and ought never to be encouraged by any that believe in the providence and word of God. It is our duty to seek direction from him by prayer, and consult bis word ; to conforin to it in sentiments and practice ; otherwise we shall displease him, and wander in the paths of error, sin, and ruin. Let his testimonies be our delight and our counsellors ; they will guide us in a safe and pleasant way, and conduct us to a happy end.

CHAP. IX. CHAP. X. 1-4. .

The same prophecy is continued, as in the former chapter. It is here

foretold that the troubles of Judah should not be so great as those of the other ten tribes, because they should be but short, and then the promised Messiah should come.

I N EVERTHELESS the dimness [shall] not [be] such as

IV (was] in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously alict [her ;] or, as ii may be beller translaled, as the first time made vile the land of Zebulun, (that is, by The Assyrians,) so the latter time shall make them glorious, [by] • the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.* 2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light :

they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, that is, the

thickest and most perplexing darkness, upon them hath the light · shined. Thou hast multiplied the nation, (and) not increased

the joy ; or rather, and hast increased the joy to him, or to it, thai is, to the Jewish nation : they joy before thee according to the

joy in harvest, [and] as (men] rejoice when they divide the 4 spoil, their joy shall be exceeding great. For thou hast broken

the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian ; as when Gideon over

threw the Midianites, (Judges vii. 22.) by such unlikely and con5 temptible means. For every battle of the warrior [is] with con

fused noise, with shouts, and groans, and sounding of arms, and garments rolled in blood ; but (this) shall be with burning [and] fuel of fire ; referring to the deliverance of God's people by Chrisi, from the yoke of sin and Satan. The preaching of the gospel might scem an unlikely means, but it should be successful, owing to the

influences of the Spirit which should be like fire, and spread like a 6 flame. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given ; and

the government shall be upon his shoulder : this deliverance shall certainly be accomplished, for Christ shall be born for our redemption, and his name shall be called, that is, he shall be the Wonderful, Counsellor, acquainted with the counsels of God, 80 as to reveal the most important truths to men, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, the great almighty governor, and the father of the ages, or the dispensation to come, and the Prince of

Peace ;t he shall be peaceful himself, and promote the peace of his 7 subjec!s. . Of the increase of his government and peace

(there shall be) no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this, for his own honour and the happiness of mankind. The following verses contain a prophecy of the ca

lamity and destruction of the len tribes. 8 The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon

Israel ; because they would not regard it, therefore it fell upon 9 them with great violence, as an insufiportable burden. And the threatening shall be accomplished, for, all the people shall know,

and feel the truth of it, seven) Ephraim and the inhabitant of 10 Samaria, that say in the pride and stoutness of heart, The

bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones : thic sycamores are cut down by our enemies, but we will change (them

* It is called Galilee of the Gentiles, because it was peopled by many of the heathen, br reison of its nearless to Tyre and Sidon, and to distinguish it from the other Gjilce: ! thus it agrees Xictly with the quotat 10.1 in the New Testament. B. 1.owth translates the verse thuis : But there shall not herentrer be darkness in the land which was distics . bu the former time he debasert the land of 2 bulun and the land of phili; but in the latier time behaath made it glorious, even the way of the sea be yond Jordan, Galilee of the nations.'

Bp. l.owth translates it, . The mighty God, the father of the everlasting age, the princa of peace

V: V.

il into] cedars ; thus defying the judgments of God. Therefore

the Lord shall set up the adversaries of Rezin against him,
that is, Israel ; and join his enemies together ; the Syrians, Is-

rael's allies, being conquered by the Assyrians, shall be forced to 12 serve against Israel. The Syrians before, and the Philistines

behind ; and they shall devour Israel with open mouth, like a
wild beast. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his

hand [is] stretched out still ; he will continue to punish them. 13 For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither 14 do they seek the Lord of hosts. Therefore the LORD will cut

off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day ; the . 15 rich and poor, the noble and the base. The ancient and honoura

ble, the prince and the magistrale ; he [is] the head ; and the

prophet that teacheth lies, he [is] the tail, the most contemptible 16 of all the people. For the leaders of this people, their governors

and prophets, cause (them) to err, and (they that are] led of 17 them (are] destroyed. Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in

their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows : for every one [is] an hypocrite, a profane person, and an evil doer, and every mouth speaketh tolly ; they have no pity, on those that used to be the objects of complacency, or of com

passion. For all this, because all are alike corrupi, his anger is 18 not turned away, but his hand [is] stretched out still. For

wickedness burneth as the fire : it shall devour the briars and thorns, and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up (like) the lifting up of smoke ; it produceth mis.

ery and causeth ruin, and the high and low shall be devoured by it. 19 Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts is the land darkened,

and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire : no man shall

spare his brother ; civil wars shall be among them, and they shall 20 destroy one another. And he shall snatch on the right hand,

and be hungry ; and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied : there shall be a grievous famine, 80 that they will be ready to eat their own fesh; they shall eat every man

the flesh of his own arm ; shall prey upon those that might have 21 defended them. Manasseh, Ephraim ; and Ephraim, Manas

seh ; even they who have been leagued together against Judah, shall devour one another ; [and] they together (shall be] against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand [is] stretched out still.

Chap. X. Wo unto them, to those Israelites, that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness (which) they have prescribed, who are guilty of injustice and oppression, of

passing unrighteous sentences, and those who put them in execua 2 tion. To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take

away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may 3 be their prey, and (that) they may rob the fatherless! And

what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation [which] shall come from far, from the Assyrians ? to whom will ye fee for help? what ally will ye seek to then ? and where

[ocr errors]

will ye leave your glory ? your wealth that you gained by oppres4 sion, who shall secure it? Without me they shall bow down un

der the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain ; because you have cast me off, and I have forsaken you, ye shall be taken prisoners and slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand [is] stretched out still.


W H AT a blessing is the gospel that brings light, joy and

W liberty to the nations. Without it the world was in darkness and danger ; but when the sun of righteousness arose, a glorious light spread itself; and men are guided by it in the way of truth, peace, and happiness. The burden of grief and guilt is taken away by the word and spirit of God, the yoke of sin and Satan is broken, and they become free. No wonder this occasions great joy; especially when the gospel comes with power on particular souls, and produces these blessed effects.

2. A glorious idea is here given us of the person, offices, and government of Christ, which it is proper and comfortable to reflect upon. He is wonderful in his person and offices; a counsellor, as he discovers the most important truths, and the gracious purposes of God; a mighty God, able to save unto the uttermost; the father of the age, the greatest friend and benefactor to it; and he is the prince of peace, whose administration is righteous, peaceful, and happy; and whatever opposition may be made to it, it shall increase and prosper, till it terminates in everlasting glory ; of his government and peace there shall be no end. Let us reverence this glorious prince, and magnify the Lord of hosts, whose pity, love, and zeal have performed all this for us.

3. We are taught the design of affliction. God smites us that we may turn to him, and seek him with sincerity and fervour. If this end be not answered, his hand will be stretched out still to cor rect us more heavily. Let us therefore humble ourselves under his mighty hand, and comply with the designs of his providence, that the stroke may be turned away from us, and our afflictions be succeeded by hope and joy.

4. We see the sad consequences of continuing unreformed by the judgments of God, ch. x. 3. A day of visitation will come ; a day of judgment and strict inquiry into our conduct, and the principles on which we have acted ; and a day of desolation to the im. penitent, when no place shall be found to which they may fly ; all their glory shall vanish, and they shall find it no more. It becomes us all seriously to think of this day of visitation, and secure a refuge in Jesus Christ ; that we may obtain that salvation, which is by him unto eternal glory,


CHAP. X. 5, to the end.

We have here an account of the design of the Assyrians in invading

Judah, and God's design in permitting it ; and also a prophecy of * their destruction, and the deliverance of God's fieople.

50 ASSYRIAN, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their

hand is mine indignation ; the Assyrian monarch is my 6 instrument ; my anger against Israel gives him all his power. I

will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets ; the Israelites are hypocritical, they are not hearty in Hezekiah's reformation, nor sincere in their prayers and professions ; therefore the Assyrian shall plunder their 7 country, and strip them of their wealth. Howbeit he meaneth

not so, neither doth his heart think so; he does not intend to do iny will ; but [it is) in his heart to destroy and cut off nations

not a few ; to enlarge his dominions, and gratify his ainbitinn. 8 For he saith, Care] not my princes altogether kings ? have not

I many princes tributary to me, and are not my courtiers and offi9 cers as great as kings? (Is) not Calno as Caichemish ? (Is) not

Hamath as Arpad ? [is] not Samaria as Damascus ? are not ihe

cities of Judah as easy to be taken as those I have already conquer. 10 ed ? As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, and

whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Sama11 ria ; Shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do

to Jerusalem and her idols ? as my hand hath destroyed kingdoms

and cities whose gods are reckoned more powerful than Jeho. 12 vah, shall I not as easily destroy Judah? Wherefore it shall

come to pass, [that] when the Lord hath performed his yhole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, when I shall have done qvhat I intended, and chastened and humbled my people, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and

the glory of his high looks. I will punish his high words, which are 13 the fruit of his proud heart. For he saith, by the strength of my

hand I have done [it] and by my wisdom ; for I am prudent : and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a val

iant (man ;] I have shown my wisdom, srength, and valour, by 14 removing the bounds of the people and transplanting colonies. And

my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people ; and as one gathereth eggs (that are] left, have I gathered all the earth ; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped ; I have carried away their wealth, as easily as a nan robs a bird's nest, and they durst not complain. Thus the

great king of Assyria boasted and threatened ; we shall 11070 81€ 15 what a greater king saith to him. Shall the as boast itself against

him that heweth therewith ! [or] shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake (itself)

« PreviousContinue »