Page images


Remarks on Chapter the Fifth.

The fifth chapter opens with “ the song of the vineyard,” parallel to that part of the song of remembrance, “ The Creator, his work is perfect,” &c. The vineyard is to be desolated -“ I will remove its hedge,” &c. ver. 5. We have the suffrage of many commentators, * to understand this of the desolation by the Romans, which we now behold. This Scripture is, therefore, written for our admonition, who succeed to Israel's forfeited privileges, “ lest we should fall after the same example of unbelief.” What follows regards, I conceive, the churches of the Gentiles, as contemplated at the eve of Messiah's second coming. The original of the eighth verse has led me to this conclusion :

8. Alas! for them that join house to house,

And lay field to field,
Until no place be left:
And ye are dwelling alone by yourselves,
In the midst of the earth.

According to the text, a people distinct from those who join house to house, &c. seem to be addressed as those that “ dwell alone.” This, therefore, is, perhaps, description of the flourishing state of those nations who


• Tertullian, Theodore, Cyril, Jerome, Luther, Brentius, Ecolampadius, Coccejus, Schmidius.—See VITRINGA.

« the

inherit Israel's forfeited privileges; while they are living as strangers and solitary beings in the midst of them, “ and find no rest for the sole of their feet.” The joining of house to house, and laying, or more correctly, making of field to approach to field,” I understand to mean, not the engrossing of houses and lands by individuals, so much as the general extension of building and cultivation. I guess the lengthening streets of modern cities, and the forced cultivation extending itself to every nook of the surrounding country, are the scenes in the view of the prophetic Spirit. But may not the improvements of agriculture, and of the subordinate arts, bid defiance to the want and famine foreboded in the following verses ? Alas! who can promise this?

9. In mine ear hath Jehovah Sabaoth spoken:

Truly many houses shall become desolate,

Great and fair without inhabitant; 10. For ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath,

And a homer of seed shall produce an ephah.'

[ocr errors]

We know who can make a fruitful land barren, for the iniquity of them that dwell therein : and the deterioration of seasons, at certain intervals, has been already very alarming to the crowded population of Europe.

A picture of habitual and continual drunkenness, with the luxurious banquetings of a careless people, that have forgotten God, follows:11. Alas! for them that rising early in the morning follow liquor,

And sitting late at even, wine inflames them:

1 A bath is a measure of eight gallons, and an ephah is the tenth part of a homer, or chomer. 108,

which we render acre, is properly
the quantity of land ploughed by a
yoke of oxen.

12. And there are the lyre and the harp,

The tabret and pipe, with the wine of their banquets ;
But they regard not the work of Jehovah,
Nor see they the operation of his hand.

To whatever extent drinking and drunkenness may have prevailed in ancient times, still this is in a particular manner characteristic of the habits of modern life in Europe, since the invention of spirituous liquors. Think of the millions of money spent annually on this enjoyment!-of the multitudes of habitual drunkards in every rank of life - and of the many that come not under that degrading term, who make drinking the great solace of their lives; and pursue it, in the intervals of labour and business, to such an extent, as to drown all thought and serious reflection! And how ends the day with a vast portion of the higher classes all over Europe, but as here described ? Hence the general ignorance of better things that prevails, which has scattered and driven away the flock of God; and brought on a famine, not of bread and water, but of the knowledge of the Lord.

13. Therefore my people are made naked, for want of know

And their nobility die with hunger,
And their busy crowd is parched with thirst.

And what, we may remark, has so much led to that remarkable ignorance of all classes respecting that in which all true knowledge consists, as the relaxed and luxurious habits of modern life, in which priest and people, nobles and plebeians, have indulged? There was always, no doubt, too much of luxury and self-indulgence among those of mankind who possessed the means; but still we

know, from other prophecies, that it was to be a distinguishing trait in the character of the last days, that they should be “ lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God:” and, as we should ever remember, prophecy rarely con'cerns itself with other nations, but with those alone, who are the professors of the religion of revelation. But their judgment slumbereth not:

14. Therefore Hades hath enlarged his appetite,

And opened his jaws without measure:
And down go her pomp, and her busy throng,

And her festive noise, with him that rejoiceth in her: 15. And man is brought down, and mortals are humbled;

Ay, the countenances of the lofty are humbled : 16. And Jehovah Sabaoth is exalted in judgment,

And God, the Holy One,' is sanetified in justice:

ad sheep pasture at their leisure, And kids' feed on the desolated dwelling of the luxurious.

The personification of Hell, or Hades, in this passage, representing a monster gorging himself with


has been always considered as a fine metaphor of the ravages of war, and it's attendant calamities; but, as applied to that awful visitation of the ungodly in the last days, so much the theme of prophecy, we perceive a greater strictness in the truth of the symbol. For to “ go down alive into hell,” to fall suddenly ingulfed in everlasting

So Bishops Lowth and Stock. -Perhaps literally, “and that God, who is the Holy One," the same, I. doubt not, as

“ the Holy One of ," the Holy One of Israel, that

is, Jesus, made to us of God sanctification.

2 Turell and Serker. “Strange ones."-HORSLEY,

flames, is ever in prophecy the fate that impends the last oppressors of Israel, and the last enemies of the Gospel. The result of this visitation is, “ God's name is hallowed,” and man is humbled: the Holy One of God, who appears as the advocate of his people, is vindicated in all his rights, and whatever could sully the purity of his holy religion, is removed for ever. Perhaps the last verse is a symbolical representation of Christ's kingdom, when, “after the wicked shall be cast out of it,” “The meek shall possess the earth, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”

In the eighteenth and following verses, á new picture is given us of these ungodly of the last days:

18. Alas! for them that draw out iniquity as cords of rope,'

And wickedness as the twistings of the wheel : ? 19. Them that say; Let him hasten, let him speed his work,

That we may see it; let it approach and come,
The design of the Holy One of Israel, that we may know it.

“Evil seducers,” as we shall learn hereafter, are to " wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived :"

finely expressed in the next verse." -ws XOLVL paxgw.Septuagint. Bishop Stock renders:

' Simon observes, on this difficult word, xw, forte seinel, Jes. v. 17, “ funiculus.” Coll. Syr.11204 'funiculus,' ab equabili, permixtis inter se rad. I et niv. Bishop Lowth explains this line,“ By long progression in iniquity, and continued accumulation of sin, men arrive at length to the highest degree of wickedness; bidding open defiance to God, and scoffing at bis threatened judgments; as is

Woe unto them who draw on their

punishment with cords of folly, And the reward of sio like a cart


? So I understand abay, the wheel, or machine, by which the ropemaker twisted his larger ropes.

« PreviousContinue »