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The eight first verses of the fifty-sixth chapter should form a section by themselves.
1. THUs hath Jehovah said,
Observe ye judgment, and do righteousness;
2. Blessed is the man that doeth this,
That observeth the Sabbath, and not to profane it;
—The people of God, “whose hearts are directed into the love of God, and patient waiting for Jesus Christ,” are to “commit themselves to him in well doing.” I think it will appear from the sequel, that the first erection of the Gospel church in the days of the apostles, is principally in view of the Spirit of prophecy. That church was to be composed of a remnant, both of Jews and Gentiles. The terms “man,” “son of man,” seem to extend the privileges of the kingdom: and the mention of the Sabbath may not only refer to that ordinance as kept by the Jewish proselyte, but also to the Christian Sabbath about to supersede it. The observance of this institution upon a true principle of faith, as well as the submission to the moral law in general—“in Christ,” and in “newness of spirit”—would be the sure proof of discipleship among that people, who were “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he had raised up from the dead:" and, I think, we may distinguish in this passage a special regard to the Jewish proselytes, who, at the erection of the Gospel church, were prepared by believing the writings of Moses to receive the faith of Jesus Christ,
And let not the son of the stranger speak,
And let not the eunuch say,
. For thus hath Jehovah said of the eunuchs,
Who shall keep my Sabbaths;
And shall choose that in which I delight,
. That I will give them a place in my house, and within my
An everlasting name will I give them,
. And the sons of the stranger that cleave to Jehovah,
To minister to him, and to love the name of Jehovah,
Every one who observeth the sabbath, not to profane it,
. I will even bring them to my holy hill,
And will make them glad in my house of prayer;
Their offerings and their sacrifices
For my house shall be called the house of prayer,
8. Collecting the outcasts of Israel,
I will collect more to him besides those that are collected of his.
The Israel of the first advent about to be received into the Christian church is, as we have observed, in the view of the prophecy. It was certainly a feature of that era, that besides the natural Jews, there was a great multitude . of proselytes all over the civilized world, that had embraced their religion, and were accustomed to go up to Jerusalem to worship at the temple. That the greater part of these proselytes, like the mass of the Jewish people, were “children of hell,” according to our Lord's rebuke, is but too certain. Yet, as we find at that time, some in Jerusalem “waiting for the consolation of Israel;” so we know that there were, among the strangers and proselytes, “devout men from every nation under heaven.” And it appears from the narrative of the New Testament, that a very large portion of the Gentiles, who were added to the Christian church, had been previously Jewish converts or proselytes; as Cornelius, the eunuch of Ethiopia, and many of the multitude of believers that were brought to the knowledge of Christ at the day of Pentecost. The passage, therefore, before us contains a promise to the sincere proselytes, that their worship should be accepted, and that they should be admitted into the full possession of the privileges of his people, when the promises made to the fathers should be fulfilled. While the Mosaic law was in force, the stranger was debarred from many privileges in the family of God; and the eunuch was, by an express statute, * excluded for ever from the congrega
* Deut. xxiii. 1.
tion of the Lord. But now the “middle wall of partition was to be broken down,” and all disqualifying clauses were to be removed. In Christ Jesus there is neither “Jew nor Gentile, male or female, bond or free.” The most despicable and injured of the human race are no longer excluded, but shall be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites. Our Lord's quotation of the latter part of the seventh verse, and application of it to the temple as it stood at his first advent, is a corroboration that this exposition of the prophecy is correct. Though his words, his mysterious act of cleansing the temple from its pollutors, as well as the prophecy before us, may still have a farther reference to a future condition of that temple and holy mountain, which with Jerusalem, at the time of our Lord's observations, was about to be “trodden under foot of the Gentiles, till the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled;” and then, as we have seen, was to be gloriously restored.
The latter Part of the Fifty-sixth, and the Fifty-seventh Chapter.
With the ninth verse should commence a new section; o and the transition is most remarkable. It opens by de
nouncing great harm and destruction to the flock, just
said to have been collected:—
9. All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, All ye beasts of the forest.
“I know this,” saith St. Paul to the elders of Ephesus “ that after my departure shall grievous wolves enter in not sparing the flock:” and this exposure of the flock, it is intimated, would be brought about by the corruption, the ignorance, covetousness, and profligacy of the Chris
What a picture is this of the corruption, the venality,
* “Tex, at the beginning of the tenth verse, has no antecedent but bnow in the eighth; the discourse, therefore, is continued: and Vitringa makes this an argument, that the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth verses are to be understood of a corrupt hierarchy in the Christian church.”
* T. deliravit, ut Arab.lo et Jés, deliravit vel per sommum vel per morbum.
* Perhaps, “Know not how to teach.”
* Hyp, “aliquando pro universitate sive toto sumi volunt, utCen. xix. 4; Jer. li. 33; Psalm xix. 15, etc.” &c.—S1Mon.
“‘From the highest to the lowest.”—Jerome and Bp. Lowth.” —HoRsley.
* See Bishop Lowth's translation.