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there are very few parts of Isaiah, which, in the pursuit of our object, we can altogether pass over. We may, I think, conveniently arrange his prophecies under three grand general divisions. First, in the thirty-five first chapters he delivers oracles, that address the Israelitish church generally, and that take hasty glances of its history throughout the ages to come: but as the Assyrian invasions, and the dispersion of the ten tribes, are events shortly to happen, these are mingled occasionally with the theme; and even the transactions of the last days are contemplated in their bearings on that event. For that part of the family of Abraham was now to be banished from the land of promise, to return no more, till the events of the second advent, or its harbingers at least, would begin to be disclosed. Some intimations we find, also, in this division, of the ravages of the Babylonians; but the Assyrian wars are the more prominent object, and the Assyrian king the leading type. The second series of prophecy, from the fortieth to the forty-eighth inclusive, is distinguished by this circumstance : — the holy prophet, though his bosom swells with the same theme — the dreadful judgments of the world at Messiah’s coming, and the endless blessedness that shall follow—is disturbed, as it were, by forebodings of a nearer judgment, that must sink most low the small remnant now left by the Assyrians in Jerusalem. This calamity is to be brought on them by the Babylonians, a people who are soon to sway the sceptre of the world. However, the prophet can see, in the visions of the Almighty, this obstacle removed; the “remnant restored,” and the mighty adversary brought down to the dust; — meet emblem and type of that mightier foe, that, after the prostration of Ashur and of Heber, shall fall, according to the oath of the Most High, when Israel shall be finally restored, to be dispersed no more. In the third series of these prophecies, from the fortyninth to the end, the inspired seer seems to have been conducted beyond these prospects; and is made to take his stand nearer to the distant scene that bounds the view of all prophecy—“the power and coming” of the Redeemer. Babylon, and the captivity, no longer appear as objects in the front ground of his landscape, magnified by their nearness, and prominent in the line in which he is obliged from his position to view the greater judgment, and the greater mercies beyond. The heavenly vision has taken him past this scene. The same object he saw before, he can now descry more plainly. But still they are not near; and, interposed, he seems to see the dark valley of humiliation stretched beneath his feet. The first advent is exposed to his view; and his astonished mind contemplates, by its sudden glances, in strange connexions, “the sufferings of Christ,” and “the glory that shall follow;” the deep depression of his people, while the world rejoices; and then the tremendous vengeance to be poured forth on the church's foes, and its unbounded glories in the last times. These three series of Isaiah's prophecies must first come under our consideration: we shall then make some extracts from the cotemporary prophets, Amos, Hosea, Micah, and Joel: we shall next pass to the prophet Zephaniah, who preceded a few years the prophets of the captivity, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Habakkuk. Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, who prophesied after the restoration, will form our last division.
THE FIRST serIEs of 1s AIAH's PRoPhecies.
IN commencing with the first of these series of Isaiah’s prophecies which I have marked out, the first chapter evidently presents us with Israel in that corrupt and apostate state into which they would fall, according to former prophecies. This picture of corruption is not to be confined to the actual state of things in the age in which the prophet writes.* This is proved by St. Paul’s application of the ninth verse to the Jews of his days.t So that we are guided, by one who could not mistake, to consider this first chapter as a general prophecy of the state of the Israelitish church at the time of its rejection, at the first advent. This will afford us an important clue to the understanding of what follows. As, however, a chart on a smaller scale is sometimes of use to teach the relative position of points and places, whose proportions and distances, being further disjoined on the larger scale, are not so readily discerned by the eye; I will beg the reader, before entering on this larger prophecy, to turn back to the song of remembrance,” directed by God to be taught to the Israelites, in view of this their apostacy. What the song said—“This is a corruption, their blemish is not of his children,” &c. the same is portrayed more at length by the prophet:—
* Such too appears to have ter.—See Biblical Criticism, vol. been the late bishop Horsley's ii. p. 1. view of the contents of this chap
+ Rona, ix. 29.
2. Hear, O heavens ! give ear, O earth!
I have nourished and brought up children,
3. The ox knoweth his owner,
* But Israel doth not know,
What would be the consequence, the song has told us— the rejection of that generation, their awful punishments, and the desolation of their beautiful country. So it is repeated by the prophet : —
Your country is desolate,
7. Your land, before your eyes, strangers devour it;
8. And the daughter of Zion is solitary,”
* Deut. xxxii. + Chap. i. 2.
* “ton, inundatio nonnullis. are gone. Thus the Arab. 5), Formae 5-p.”—SIMox. . on, to make a thing single, dis
* Is left a solitary object, “sur- tinct, or separate. Bishop Stock vives alone.” on, signifies to extend renders, “is left behind.” beyond; survive alone, when others
Like a lodge in the field,"
9. Were it not for Jehovah Sabaoth,
In a little we had been as Sodom,
Instructed by the apostle to apply this to that generation particularly, which rejected the Messiah at his first advent, what follows in the prophet will be found exactly to portray the superstitious and corrupt worship of the Pharisees—from the tenth to the sixteenth verse. In that verse, and the two following, how plain the demand of the moral law is stated . It discovers their guilt, not to be palliated or cleansed by formal sacrifices, and rites of ceremonial worship ! And, in contradistinction to this, how beautifully do the eighteenth and two following verses describe the introduction of the Gospel covenant!—
18. Come now, let us plead together,
* Literally in a field appro- watch or a watch-fire. Compare
priated to the growth of cucum-
specula, in qua fit observatio insi
diosa. Ty, derived from Ty, fervere, vigilare, may signify either a
the Chaldee, Ty, Dan. iv. 10.
the country, than can be supposed
to have been effected by Sennacherib's invasion.”—“I agree with St. Jerome, that the ruin threatened is that which took place after our Lord's ascension, and the publication of the Gospel.”—Horsley.