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Book of the Prophet ISAIAH.
INTRODUCTION. ISAIAH began to prophesy about seven hundred and fixty
years before Christ, and continued to exercise his office in the reigns of Uzzich, Fotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and Manaseh, by whom it is generally thought he was fawn afunder, after a faithful discharge of his office for more than sixty years. He was contemporary with the prophets Hofea, Joel, Amos, and Micah. He is remarkable for loftiness of thought and file; his images are often borrowed from the appendages of royalty, (which were familiar to him, being one of the royal family;) and are elegant and noble. His prophecies, especially of the Mejjah, are so cleár, minute, and circumstantial, that they might often feem to be rather narratives of things past, than predictions of things to come; hence he is commonly called the Evangelical prophet; and it is observed, that there are more pasages cited in the New Testament out of this one prophet, than out of all the others.
Of these prophecies, the five first chapters are generally suppofed to have been delivered in the reign of Uzziah, the sixth in the reign of Fotham, the following chapters to the fifteenth, in the reign of Ahaz, and the remainder in that of Hezekiah.
CHAPTER I. This chapter contains a fevere remonstrance against the ingrati.
tude and corruptions of the jews in that age; warm exhortations to repentance; heavy threatenings to the impenitent; and, after previous corrections, gracious promises of better times.
HE vision of Isaiah, or, the clear discovery that was made to Ifaiah, the fon of Amoz, which
he faw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, [and] Hezekiah, ikings of Judah. The prophet, with a boldness and majesty
becoming the herald of the most High, begins with calling om 2 the whole creation to attend when Jehovah speaks. Hear,
O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath
spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and 3 they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his
owner, and the ass his master's crib: [but] Ifrael doth
not know their relation to me, my people doth not con4 sider the great things that I have done for them. Ah sinful
nation! an expression of wonder, anger, grief, and Mame, a people laden with iniquity, guilty of great and heinous fins, a feed of evil doers, a generation treading in the steps of their forefathers, children that are corrupters, or destroyers, both of themselves and others: they have forfaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward, grown
worse and worse, and insolently turned their backs upon me. 5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt
more and more; intimating that corrections were intended for their amendment, but that when
found ineffe&tual God would cease to use them: the whole head is sick, and the whole 6 heart faint. From the fole of the foot even unto the
head (there is) no foundness in it; [but] wounds, and bruises, and putrifying fores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with oint
ment; the whole state is corrupt, and no attempts are made 7 for reformation. Therefore Your country [is] desolate,
your cities (are) burned with fire; your land, strangers
devour it in your presence, and (it is) desolate, as 8 overthrown by strangers." And the daughter of Zion, that is, Jerusalem, is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as
lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city; it is contemptible, like a mean hut in a vineyard, which is
not regarded when the vintage is over; or rather, like a 9 besieged city, from which every one is glad to flee. Except
the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, a few good men, we should have been as Sodom, [and] we should have been like unto Gomorrah, ena tirely swallowed up and destroyed.
· This was probably uttered in the reign of Ahaz, or when Jerusalem was beweged by Sennacherib.
Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of GomorII rah, ye who are like them in wickedness. To what pur
pofe [is] the multitude of your facrifices unto me? faith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams,
and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood 12 of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye
come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? who hath required such
kind of attendance without fincerity and a pious disposition? 13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomina
tion unto me; the new moons and fabbaths, the calling
of assemblies, I cannot away with ; [it is] iniquity, even 14 the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your ap
pointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto 15 me; I am weary to bear (them.] And when ye spread forth
your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear, nor regard your services : your hands are full of blood; cruelty,
oppression, and murder are found among you. 16 Therefore, if you hope for acceptance, Wath ye, make
you clean; put away the evil of your doings from be17 fore mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well;
seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the father18 less, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us
reason together, and accommodate the difference that is between us, faith the Lord: though your fins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be
red like crimson, they shall be as wool; your fins Mall 19 be fully pardoned: and not only so, but, If ye be willing
and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land, enjoy 20 all sorts of temporal blessings: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye
shall be devoured with the sword : for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken [it.]
How is the faithful city become an harlot? it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it, in the time of David and Solomon; but now murderers, and confe
quently b Cities are often represented by women. Jerusalem was once a faithful betrothed virgin; the covenant between her and God was faithfully kept.
22 quently many other heinous criminals. Thy filver is be
come dross, thy wine mixed with water; corruption is 23 mingled with every thing that is good: Thy princes (are] re.
bellious against God, and companions of thieves, unjust to men: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the
cause of the widow come unto them; they refuse to do 24 right to those that cannot bribe them. Therefore faith the
Lord, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel,
Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge 25 me of mine enemies: And I will turn my
upon thee, to punish those things which I have connived at before,
and purely purge away thy drofs, and take away all thy 26 tin, separate the bad from the good: And after the captivity
I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy coun-
afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteous27 nefs, the faithful city. Zion shall be redeemed, 0:
Javed, with judgment, and her converts, those that re28 turn from the captivity, with righteousness. And the
deftruction of the transgressors and of the finners [shall
be] together, and they that forsake the Lord shall be 29 consumed. For they shall be ashamed of the oaks
which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for
confounded when they see that their gods, which were wore 30 Shipped in groves and gardens, cannot fave them. For as
ye have finned under oaks and in gardens, so ye shall be as
an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no 31 water, deprived of all your enjoyments and delights. And
the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a
An expression taken from men, who find eafe in venting their anger and punishing incorrigible offenders.
REFLECTIONS. ATIONAL fins bring national judgments.
This chapter contains a beautiful and strong description of the wickedness of Israel, aggravated by all the great things which God had done for them; who, not being reformed by corrections, should be awfully punished ; and neither their holy nor royal city should fécure them. Corruptions of the body politic, like the cancer or leprosy spreading over the natural body, are exceeding dangerous and loathsome, and will end in death; the few good men that remain preserve it. This calls for our humiliation, lest, resembling Ifrael in guilt, we should suffer like them. Let us labour to be ourselves of the remnant, and increafe the number of those who stand in the gap. 2. How dangerous is it to reft
in the externals of religion, while obedience is wanting. This people were punctual in their facrifices and ritual obfervances; they kept their feasts, and prayed; yea, made many prayers, and spread forth their hands, to show their earnestnefs. But God would not hear; yea, he was greatly displeased, even by their religious exercises, because they continued wicked. If men are ever so zealous for the forms of religion, yet are destitute of the power of it, violate the laws of God, injure and oppress their brethren, all their prayers and fervices are hypocrisy. He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, shall find that God will turn away his ear from hearing his prayer.
3. We see the grace of God in inviting finners to return to him, and the happy consequences of such returns. What ample encouragement is here given to this wicked people! Scarlet and crimson fins shall be pardoned, peace restored, and publick blessings continued, if they will turn to God, be obedient to his laws, and willing and cheerful in his service. Thus does God reason the case with finners now; thus does he promise them mercy upon their repentance; and if they will not hear, their condemnation will be righteous, and God will be justified when he judgeth them.