Page images
PDF
EPUB

prophecies, that such a nation will be employed by divine Providence in the restoration of his ancient people; with whose restoration, as we have repeatedly seen, is intimately connected the personal appearance of the glorified Redeemer. Another requisite is mentioned. The profanation of the Sabbath must be removed, or no national prosperity can be expected; without this there is no reasonable ground of hope, that the British empire, or any part of it, shall be the favoured nation foretold in Scripture, which is to have so high and so great a destiny in the latter days– notwithstanding her maritime position, and other circumstances in her situation, or in the situation of her colonies, analogous to the country symbolized.

13. If thou shalt refrain thy foot from the Sabbath,"
From doing thy pleasure on my holy day;
And shalt call the Sabbath a delight,
Holy to Jehovah, and honoured:
And shalt honour it, not doing thine own ways;
Nor pursuing thy pleasures, nor speaking idle” words.

14. Then shalt thou delight thyself in Jehovah,
And I will cause thee to mount the high places of the earth:

And I will feed thee on the heritage of Jacob thy father:
Surely the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken.

If the application here given of this prophecy be correct, the morality of the Sabbath is at once established; and not only its obligation on Christian nations is en

* “Forbear to prosecute thy bath day.”—BP. Stock. worldly business, particularly * So Bishop Stock. Perhaps, needless journeys, on the Sab- “ordinary,” “common words.”

forced, but the critical importance of its most strict observance to the welfare of nations, is clearly pointed out: and from thence, I conceive, may fairly be induced the right and duty of Christiam sovereigns and magistrates, notwithstanding the clamours oflicentious liberty, to enforce the observation of a Sabbath by penal laws and restrictions.

SECTION XI.
IRemarks on the Fifty-minth Chapter.

W E pass to the next chapter, in our division the fiftyninth. Vitringa interprets this also of the low state of religion in the reformed or Protestant churches, imme

diately previous to the coming of Christ.

His words are

so remarkable, that I shall quote them in a note below. '

* * Ecclesia educta ex Babylonia mystica, post quam jam bonum tempus in hoc statu perstitisset ; sensim autem magis magisque arctaretur; affligeretur; minueretur; in priore zelo suo flaccesceret; multis sensim magis magisque invalescentibus scandalis obrueretur; et denique extrema quæque metueret, dum potissimi reges ad ejus exterminium conspirarent; quæque ecclesia proinde concipitur in magnis esse angustiis. Imo vero sensemus agi de hac Ecclesia, quo statu esse vitiato et afflicto, proxime Libcrationcm,

quam Deus ei, cum omnia desperata viderentur, præstaret. Cum igitur populus ille, qui se gloriabatur esse Populum Dei, et veram Ecclesiam, ab adulterina separatam, miraretur, se dum expectaverat longè adhiic ampliorem et generaliorem Reformationis effectum se progressum, sensim magis magisque immiuui et arctum cogi; adversarios vero suos vires sumere et invalescere; spem suam de regno ChristiJesu valdè amplicando concidere ; quinimo principes mundi in suum exterminium conspirare; dum ipse nullum circumspiciebat praesidium vel auxilium presens, quae causa sit, quod Deus populo quo imminenti periculo eximere- suo hactenus pro voto praesto non tur: introducantur hic fideles Dei fuisset,” &c. et Ecclesiae ministri, qui doceant wo, Septuagint and Syriac.

Bishop Horsley has also observed, “Some parts of the fifty-ninth chapter seem more particularly applicable to the time of licentiousness and infidelity that have taken place in Christendom since the Reformation, than to any period in the Jewish history; and are likely to receive a further accomplishment in the enormities that may be expected to arise out of the atheism, and democratical spirit of the times.” And after long hesitation, I cannot but agree with these learned commentators, though it makes the following chapter an awful prognostication, indeed, of the general fate of those parts of Christendom that call themselves reformed, and evangelical, and apostolical.

1. Lo, the hand of Jehovah is not shortened, that it cannot Save ; Neither is his ear dull, that he cannot hear; 2. But your iniquities have made a separation Between you and your Elohim: And your sins have caused him to be concealed, His countenance ‘is averted' from you, that he will not hear.

3. For your hands are polluted with blood,' And your fingers with iniquity.

This guilt of blood must refer to the wanton and unjust wars, in which even reformed and Protestant nations have engaged : and, I conceive, in a particular manner points out those religious parties in the Protestant world, who, forgetting the true spirit of the Gospel, even when its professors should be oppressed with violence —have taken the sword; and, in their unholy zeal, brought upon themselves the guilt of blood. Nor can we exclude the bloody executions with which most parties have, in their turn, stained the page of history, during the period of their predominance.

o

False doctrine also is clearly laid to their charge in the following verses, rebellion against the light of religion is asserted, and the faithlessness of their teachers and rulers : —

Your lips have spoken falsehood,
Your tongue hath muttered perverseness.

4. No one hath preached' in righteousness,
And no one hath judged in truth.

And how singular is the fact, that almost all the nations and communities reformed from Popery, should have, in the compass of a few years, given up the doctrines of the first reformers; and by their remonstrances, and refinements, and philosophical expositions, should have so ex- plained away the truth of the Bible, that the religion of Protestants, as publicly taught by many of their accredited teachers, has in reality become nothing better than a plausible system of ethics | Much truth is mixed in the insidious observations of the infidel historian, where he reviews the character and consequences of the Reformation: “ The doctrine of a Protestant church is far removed from the knowledge or belief of its private members; and the forms of orthodoxy, the articles of faith, are subscribed with a sigh, or a smile,

' rip signifies to proclaim, to read; and, as Schultens supposes, to teach, as the Arabic.

by the modern clergy. Yet the friends of Christianity are alarmed at the boundless impulse of inquiry and scepticism. The predictions of the Catholics are accomplished; the web of mystery is unravelled by the Arminians, Arians, and Socinians, whose numbers must not be computed from their separate congregations; and the pillars of revelation are shaken by those men who preserve the name without the substance of religion, who indulge the license without the temper of philosophy.” " And what has followed Behold in the following lines a symbolical representation of the mischievous and fine-spun theories of the infidel philosophy, which has already brought so much misery on the world:—

They have trusted in emptiness, and the word of falsehood;
They conceived useless toil, and brought forth vanity.

5. They have hatched the eggs of the basilisk,
And they have weaved the spider's web:
He that eateth of their eggs dieth,
And that which is pressed hatcheth a serpent.

6. Their webs shall not become a garment,
Neither shall they cover themselves with their works.

Their works are works of iniquity, -
And the deed of violence is in their hand.

[ocr errors]

. Their feet run to evil,
And they are swift to shed the blood of the innocent.

Their purposes are purposes of iniquity,
Destruction and misery are in their paths.

8. The way of peace they know not,
Neither is there any judgment in their track:

Their ways are crooked before them,
No one that entereth therein shall know peace.

* Gibbon's History, chap. liv. end.

« PreviousContinue »