Page images

gather themselves together, [and] come to thee. [As] I live, saith the LORD, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them [on thee,) as a bride [doeth :) mothers consider their children as their greatesi ornaments, so the

purity and piety of christians shall be an ornament 10 the church.* 19 For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy de

struction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabi20 tunts, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away. The

children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other,

shall say again in thine ears, The place [is] too strait for me : 21 give place to me that I may dwell. Then shalt thou say in thine

heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro ? and who hath brought up these and educalıd them, so that they come with dispositions to be the beauty, strength, and glory of the

church? Behold, I was left alone ; these, where (had) they 22 (been ?] Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will lift up mine

hand to the Gentiles, I will beckon them, and they shall come, and set up my standard to the people ; and they shall bring thy sons in (their) arms, and thy young daughters shall be carried upon

(their) shoulders ; they and their children shall eagerly come, and 23 be joined to the church. And kings shall be thy nursing

fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers; they shall become good themselves, and be the protectors of religion and liberty : they shall bow down to thee with (their) face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet ; they shall do honour and pay deference to the church of Christ ; and thou shalt know that I (am)

the LORD : for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me. 24 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful cap

tive delivered ? An objection made by the Jews to their deliver.

ance from captivity, without being ransomed or exchanged. To 25 which God answers, But thus saith the Lord, Even the captives

of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered : for I will contend with him that contendeth

with thee, and I will save thy children ; my almighty power shall 26 effect this. And I will feed them that oppress thee with their

own flesh ; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine ; the nations that join with Babulon shall contend with and destroy one another :t and I the LORD (am) thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.


W E have great reason to rejoice in Christ's commission to

VV save the Gentiles. This sublime description is addressed to us of these isles, for to us is the word of luas salvalion

• The following verses are gen. rally interpreted of the Jews : but their land we never $0 populous a r the captivity as before ; they had not the whole land of Daan, as in Solo. mon's time. I cherstore think it reters to the accession of Gentile converts,

+ Cyrus conquered some countries which were in allianc: wich th: C5aldeans, and then made use of their soldiers in his witack upon Babylon.


sent. This great and populous nation is become christian ; has been enlightened by the sun of righteousness ; we enjoy plenty of the means of grace, and are directed in the way to eternal life. Let us then adore the grace that has been afforded us, and say, as in v. 13. Sing, o heavens ; and be joyful, o carth ; and break forth into singing, O mountains : for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.

2. It is no new thing for faithful ministers to complain of their want of success. They labour, take pains, and are diligent in their work, spend their health and strength in endeavouring to do good ; yet little good is done. It is a most discouraging circumstance ; but it was the case with our Master, though never man stiake as he did ; and this is our encouragement, as it was his, that our work is with the Lord, and our reward with our God : He will not forget it ; but will proportion his reward, not to our success, but to our fidelity.

3. Now is the accepled time, now is the day of salvation. This is the apostle's remark on v. 8. See 2 Cor. vi. 2. God heard and assisted his Son, that he might execute his work, and preach reconciliation. Therefore, while the gospel sounds in our ears is the time when we may be accepted, and the day when we may be saved." Let us therefore attend to it ; for when our time on earth ends, there is no other accepted time, no other day of salvation, Today therefore if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hear18.

4. Let us admire and trust in the compassion of God to his people in their distresses. That is a most beautiful, tender and delightful image in v. 14. It is next to impossible that a woman should forget her sucking child, or even the son of her womb; though she is more likely to forget the child she bore, than the child she suckles. But they may forget ; mothers may prove monsters, and be unnatural to their children ; as those are who wickedly destroy them, or even send them to be suckled by strangers when they are able to do it themselves. But God will not forget his church in its lowest distress, nor his people, though they may sometimes, through long atlliction, be ready to despair.

5. Let us encourage ourselves to expect the continuance and enlargement of the church. There are many delightful promises in this chapter, of its spread among the gentiles, of kings becoming holy and zealous, and of numerous converts being added to it. Let this excite our prayers for the propagation of the gospel, and our thankfulness when any are added to the church, and especially those that are a peculiar ornament and credit to it. Though many diffi. culties seem to lie in the way, an almighty God has engaged that they shall be surmounted ; and therefore they shall not be ashameel Wict wait for him.


This chapter is a vindication of God's dealings with his people ; and

concludes with an exhortation to trust in God and not in ourselves.

IMT HUS saith the Lord, Oye captives, Where [is] the

1 bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away? representing the jewish church as their mother, and alluding to the power which husbands had to put away their wives, God inquires for the bill of divorce, in which the reasons would appear why they were rejected : or which of my creditors [is it] to whom I have sold you ? An allusion to persons when oppressed with debt selling themselves, or their children, to their creditors, as was frequenily done among the Jews, see 2 Kings iv. 1. and Matt, xviji. 25. but this, says God, cannot be my case ; I am not urged by any such ne. cessity ; I am not in debt to the Chaldeans or Romane. Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away ; you sold yourselves for the

gratification of your lusts, und were put away for your own folly 2 and wickedness. Wherefore, when I came, (was there] no man ?

when I called, (was there] none to answer ? if it were not so, why did you refuse my offers, and despise and abuse my messensers, especially my own Son ? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem ? or have I no power to deliver ? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness : their fish stinketh, because (there is no water, and dieth for

thirst ; I have the same power as I ever had, therefore it was 100 3 owing to me that you were not delivered, but to your sins. I clothe

the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering ; a reference lo the Egyptian darkness, Exod. x. 21. The

Messiah is then introduced as slieaking in his oron name, 4 The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned,

that I should know how to speak á word in season to [him that is) weary : he wakeneth morning by morning : he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned ; or rather, as learners or schelars; (an allusion to a master calling up his scholars and servan's in the morning ;) as if he had said, God reveals his will to me, and 5 gives me ability to instruct and comfort the afflicted. The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back ; he hath instructed me in the discharge of my

office, given me to understand why I must suffer ; and I was will6 ing to do what he required. I gave my back to the smiters, and

my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair : I hid not my face 7 from shame and spitting.* For the Lord God will help me ;

therefore shall I not be confounded ; not be overborne by 174 enemies, nor disappointed in my work and of my hope : therefore

have I set my face like a flint, I am bold and courageous, and I 8 know that I shall not be ashamed. [He is] near that justifieth

• These great indignities Christ suffered patiently, Luke xviii 31,3%. Mt. xiv. 63. xx.: 4.

me; God is at hand to vindicate my innocence ; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who [is] mine adversary ?

let him come near to me ; I challenge him to a judicial process.* 9 Behold, the Lord God will help me ; who [is] he (that) shall

condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment ; the moth shall eat them up ; Herod, Pilate and the wicked Jews, the persecutors of Christ, shall be destroyed. The following verse is

addressed 10 every humble christian. 10 Who (is) among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the

voice of his servant, that walketh [in] darkness, and hath no light? thuugh he suffers hardships, and is exercised with afflictions, and doubts, and fears, let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God ; upon the goodness of God, and his faith

fulness lo his covenant. On the other hand, confusion and destruc11 lion are threatened to proud sinners. Behold, all ye that kindle

a fire, that compass (yourselves) about with sparks : walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks (that) ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand ; ye shall lie down in sorrow; an allusion to a benighted traveller, who lights a litile fire to warm himself by, and thereat kindles a torch 10 piroceed on his journey ; but it goes out, leaves him in darkness, and exposed to many dangers ; 80 those who seek their happiness in worldly comforts, and neglect God, or trust in the merits of their own righteousne88, shall be disappointed.


W E are here taught that it is men's own sin that undoes

VV them. This the Jews are reminded of in the beginning of the chapter ; their own iniquities brought their calamities upon them. When sinners are destroyed by acts of divine justice, it is owing to their own wickedness. God takes no pleasure in their destruction ; he is as ready to pity and help as ever lie was : but if they will not regard the message of his Son, and comply with the demands of his gospel, their destruction will be upon their own heads ; they might have been saved, but would not.

2. It is the duty of christians, like their Master, to be willing to learn and to suffer. It is especially the duty of ministers to seek of God the tongue of the learned ; that rich experience of divine things, and ability to speak comfortably to mourning souls, which is a better qualification than the largest store of human learning and philosophy. Let christians in private stations of life learn from their Master to apply their minds to understand divine things, and the will of God; to read his word, and attend upon his ministers, as men awake, and willing to learn, shaking off drowsiness, and taking pains to understand and remember. And let us earnestly pray against a drowsy distracted mind; and that God would awaken us

This was literally fulfilled in Christ, who by signs and wonders, and a voice from beaven, und especially by his resurrection from the dead, was vindicated from all accusations.

and keep us attentive. So likewise we should be willing to suffer whatever Providence calls us to ; setting our faces like a flint, as Christ did ; being bold, resolute, and undaunted in the work of religion ; and by divine help we shall not be borne down by opposition, but God will justify and accept us. The apostle probably refers to verse 8, when he says, (Rom. viii. 32.) Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's tlect? It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth ?

3. Let us carefully observe the difference between a humble trusting in God, and a vain confidence in ourselves. Those who fear God, and obey the voice of Christ, his servant, and who comply with the terms of his gospel, may walk in darkness and have no light; they may have many doubts and fears, and want spiritual peace and joy. But let them trust in a good and faithful God, and he will at length restore them to light and joy, which shall endure for ever. On the other hand, those who walk in the light of their own fire, seek their happiness in earthly things, trust to their own righteousness, or some sudden flashes of zeal and aftection, may amuse themselves for a while, and seem full of light, hope, and joy, but will soon lie down in sorrow. The darkest state of a saint is therefore infinitely preferable to the brightest state of a sinner.


The design of this chapter is to encourage the Jewish captives to trust

in God's promises ; especially in those relating to Christ ; assuring them that he would pity their misery and help them ; having given sufficient proofs of his power in his former dealings with that nation.

IDEARKEN to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye

IT that seek the Lord: look unto the rock (whence) ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit (whence) ye ars digged ; re2 member your small beginning and low estate. Look unto Abra

ham your father, and unto Sarab [that] bare you : for I called him alone, when a single person, who had no family, and blessed

him, and increased him; therefore am able to do great things for 3 you still. For the LORD shall comfort Zion : he will comfort

all her waste places ; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD ; joy and

gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of 4 melody. Hearken unto me, my people, and give ear' unto me,

O my nation, or, O ye nations, that is, ye Gentiles : for a law shall

proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest, or 5 rather, to break forth for a light of the people. My righteousness (is) near : my salvation is gone forth, the time is at hand when I will perform my promises, and mine arms, that is, my power, shall judge the people : the isles shall wait upon me,

« PreviousContinue »