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THE SECOND SERIES OF THE PROPHECIES OF ISAIAH,
FROM THE FORTIETH CHAPTER TO THE FORTY-
We now enter upon a train of prophecies, most beautiful and most important, which all admit to relate, as to their ultimate objects, to Christ and his kingdom. Some, with Vitringa, 1 apply the language — which will indeed with difficulty bear any other application-immediately to these great objects; others, with Bishop Lowth, suppose an allusion throughout to the restoration from the Babylonian captivity ; considering that restoration as a type, or mystical allegory, of future spiritual mercies.
These spiritual mercies have been too generally understood, both by those who consider them as immediately referred to, and by those who suppose them remotely alluded to under the guise of allegory, respecting the
1“ Binas deprehendi hypotheses, quas docti viri in prophetia exponenda sectantur. Altera eam directè refert ad regnum Messiæ.” -“ Altera ad statum Ecclesiæ Judaicæ, liberandæ ex exilio Babylonico.”—“ Priori sententiæ plerique subscribunt interpretes Christiani; veteres certe omnes, Euseb.
Hieron. Cyrill. Theod. Procop. et Lyranus quoque; ad quos eousque accedunt Judæi, ut ipsi quoque hanc prophetiam nostram, et plerasque sequentes ad tempora Messiæ referunt, et plane asserant, sermonem hic verti ad Ecclesiam Judaicam afflictam ut se habet in præsenti exilio,"_VITRINGA.
present privileges and enjoyments of the faithful under the Gospel. Privileges and enjoyments great indeed, and, in the anticipation of Christian hope, all that prophecy has predicted; but still in themselves by no means agreeing with the plain language of prophecy: or, if a type and allegory be admitted, most unmeet to fulfil such type, most unlike the symbol of such allegory. For these Gospel privileges, in their fullest possession, as we have had occasion to remark before, leave a people “ waiting for their Lord” — a people “groaning, being burdened.” But the prophecies on which we enter, discover a people vindicated in the full enjoyment of promised glory; and their Redeemer manifested in power, and in the splendour of the divine majesty.
The events of the first advent often, indeed, come within the view of the prophetic vision, and something of an inceptive fulfilment may sometimes be admitted; but the main view of the prophecy extends itself far beyond. A conquering, not a suffering Messiah, with a triumphant, not an afflicted and dispersed church, is the grand theme of the whole prophecy, from the fortieth chapter to the end of the book.
This part of Isaiah, however, may conveniently be divided into two series. The one from this chapter to the forty-eighth is distinguished, as we have observed before, by the circumstance of its interweaving with the main subject some notices and predictions of the more immediate catastrophe of the Babylonian captivity, and the restoration of a remnant of Judah; not, I think, in the way of type and mystical allegory; but more in the nature of an episode, - a side-way glance, as it were, from the main subject, in the same manner as Assyria, and sometimes Babylon, has been the subject of prophecy in the
former part of the book. From the forty-eighth chapter, however, we have entirely lost sight of Babylon; and the interwoven subject is more especially the transactions of the first advent, and of Gospel times. This circumstance distinguishes the last series of the prophecies of Isaiah, from the one we are now to consider.
Remarks on the Fortieth Chapter.
The prophecy, cn which we now enter, opens with a consolatory message to Jerusalem, a congratulation that the time of her hard service, which she had been compelled to endure on account of her sins, is now ended — that her Lord had inflicted upon her chastisements, which he deemed equivalent to her offences.
1. Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people,
Shall your Elohim say.
And proclaim unto her,
So Bishop Stock. Bishop Lowth has, " Speak animating words.” Literally,“ Speak to the heart."
?“ Niph. præt. nyt acceptata, approbata est (pena iniquitatis ejus), vel rectius soluta est (coll. conjug. transit Arab. ,et groel, contentum redidit, dedit quoä pla
cerit; hinc apud Thalmudicos, non numeravit pecuniam. V. I. D. Michaelis in Suppl., p. 2262. Et in passivo solutus est.”—Simon.
“ Magistri Judæorum vocem 1789, hoc loco vertunt perficere, absolvere, et jw accipiunt non pro peccato, sed pro vzw peccati poena, ut sensus sit; absoluta perfectaque
That she hath received at the hand of Jehovah,
This, if the attending circumstances agreed, which they do not, might be supposed to relate to the termination of the seventy years captivity; but can by no means relate to the justifying of the ungodly, through the atonement in the blood of Christ. The Jerusalem here ad. dressed had been the object of punishment, or chastisement, as a people for her sins: the punishment had not been remitted, but the time was arrived when the imposed penalty had been paid; which is the meaning of the phrase, “ Her warfare,” or “ time of hard service, is accomplished.” As, therefore, neither the events of the restoration from Babylon, nor of the first advent as they affected Jerusalem, correspond with the prophecy, we are compelled to fix our eyes on the already predicted era of her final restoration, and reconciliation to her covenanted God: and we shall find it to be the common description of prophecy, and of the Scriptures in general, that until that epocha, Jerusalem is in a state of affliction and desolation, both as to her“ people,” and her “ land;" but that then, at length, the righteous discipline of God
est poena iniquitatis ejus; quod cannot be “ Jerusalem's punishsecutus Piscator vertit perfectam ment has been double the desert esse ponam ejus.” Compare Lev. of her sin." xxvi. 34; Job, xiv. 6.-VITRINGA. obs, I conceive, has the force Perhaps more literally
of the term duplicate” in our taliation.” Bishop Lowth has ren language, expressing one of a dered, “ Biessings double to the pair,” one thing that corresponds punishment of all her sins;" but, I to another. Thus the Arab. Jis, apprehend, without sufficient au 7503, which signifies properly “ duthority. The meaning of the pas- plum,” siguifies also “par," sage, however, as he justly argues, milis." VOL. 1.
has attained its object, "the consumption decreed is accomplished.” The cup of trembling is taken from the hand of Jerusalem, and given into the hand of her enemies.
3. A voice crieth:
In the wilderness prepare ye the way of Jehovah;
Level in the desert an highway for our Elohim. 4. Let every valley be raised, And every
hill and eminence be lowered : And let the projections be levelled,
And the rough places be made smooth:
And all flesh shall see it together :
The idea of a voice proclaiming an order for the preparation of a road through the desert, " is taken,” as Bishop Lowth observes, “ from the practice of the Eastern monarchs, who, whenever they entered upon an expedition, or took a journey, especially through desert and unfrequented countries, sent harbingers before them to prepare all things for their passage, and pioneers to open the passes, to level the ways, and to remove all impediments." The neaning of the language before us, disrobed of its imagery, is, that Jerusalem is to prepare for the coming of her King. But why is a way to be prepared in the wilderness? Is this a mere ornamental circumstance of the metaphor? or does the Divine Presence approach in this direction to Zion, before its manifestation to all flesh? The last prophecy which we considered, and the parallel one of the sixty-eighth psalm, with other Scriptures, * fully prove that a miraculous conducting of Israel,