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Book of the Prophet ISAIA H.
ISAIAH began to prophefy about feven hundred and fixty years before Chrift, and continued to exercife his office in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and Manaffeh, by whom it is generally thought he was fawn afunder, after a faithful discharge of his office for more than fixty years. He was contemporary with the prophets Hofea, Joel, Amos, and Micah. He is remarkable for loftiness of thought and ftile; 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 Meffiah, are fo clear, minute, and circumftantial, that they might often feem to be rather narratives of things paft, than predictions of things to come; hence he is commonly called the Evangelical prophet; and it is obferved, that there are more paffages cited in the New Teftament out of this one prophet, than out of all the others.
-Of thefe prophecies, the five first chapters are generally fuppofed to have been delivered in the reign of Uzziah, the fixth in the reign of fotham, the following chapters to the fifteenth, in the reign of Ahaz, and the remainder in that of Hezekiah.
This chapter contains a fevere remonftrance against the ingrati. tude and corruptions of the jews in that age; warm exhortations to repentance; heavy threatenings to the impenitent ; and, after previous correllions, gracious promises of better times.
HE vifion of Ifaiah, or, the clear discovery that was made to Ifaiah, the fon of Amoz, which he faw concerning Judah and Jerufalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, [and] Hezekiah, kings of Judah. The prophet, with a boldness and majesty
becoming the herald of the most High, begins with calling on 2 the whole creation to attend when Jehovah fpeaks. 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 confider the great things that I have done for them. Ah finful nation! an expreffion of wonder, anger, grief, and shame, 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 deftroyers, both of themselves and others: they have forfaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Ifrael unto anger, they are gone away backward, grown worfe and worse, and infolently turned their backs upon me. 5 Why fhould ye be ftricken any more? ye will revolt more and more; intimating that corrections were intended for their amendment, but that when found ineffectual God would ceafe to use them: the whole head is fick, 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 bruifes, and putrifying fores: they have not been clofed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment; the whole ftate is corrupt, and no attempts are made 7 for reformation, Therefore Your country [is] defolate,
your cities [are] burned with fire: your land, ftrangers devour it in your prefence, and [it is] defolate, as 8 overthrown by ftrangers. And the daughter of Zion, that is, Jerufalem, is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as
a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a befieged 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 befieged city, from which every one is glad to flee. Except the LORD of hofts had left unto us a very fmall rem`nant, a few good men, we fhould have been as Sodom, [and] we should have been like unto Gomorrah, entirely fwallowed up and destroyed.
This was probably uttered in the reign of Ahaz, or when Jerufalem was besieged 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 wickednefs. 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 fuch kind of attendance without fincerity and a pious difpofition? 13 Bring no more vain oblations; incenfe is an abomina
tion unto me; the new moons and fabbaths, the calling of affemblies, I cannot away with; [it is] iniquity, even 14 the folemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my foul hateth: they are a trouble unto 15 me; I am weary to bear [them.] And when ye fpread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear, nor regard your fervices: your hands are full of blood; cruelty, oppreffion, and murder are found among you.
Therefore, if you hope for acceptance, Wash ye, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from be17 fore mine eyes; ceafe to do evil; Learn to do well; feek judgment, relieve the oppreffed, judge the father18 lefs, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reafon together, and accommodate the difference that is between us, faith the LORD: though your fins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as fnow; though they be red like crimson, they fhall be as wool; your fins shall 19 be fully pardoned: and not only fo, but, If ye be willing
and obedient, ye fhall eat the good of the land, enjoy 20 all forts of temporal bleffings: But if ye refuse and rebel, fhall 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
Cities are often reprefented by women. Jerufalem was once a faithful betrothed virgin; the covenant between her and God was faithfully kept.
22 quently many other heinous criminals. Thy filver is become drofs, thy wine mixed with water; corruption is 23 mingled with every thing that is good: Thy princes [are] rebellious against God, and companions of thieves, unjust to men: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherlefs, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them; they refuse to do 24 right to thofe that cannot bribe them. Therefore faith the
Lord, the LORD of hofts, the mighty One of Ifrael, Ah, I will eafe me of mine adverfaries, and avenge 25 me of mine enemies: And I will turn my hand upon
thee, to punish thofe things which I have connived at before, and purely purge away thy drofs, and take away all thy 26 tin, feparate the bad from the good: And after the captivity I will reftore thy judges as at the firft, and thy counfellors as at the beginning, as in the time of the judges: afterward thou fhalt be called, The city of righteouf27 nefs, the faithful city. Zion fhall be redeemed, or faved, with judgment, and her converts, thofe that re28 turn from the captivity, with righteoufnefs. And the
deftruction of the tranfgreffors and of the finners [fhall be] together, and they that forfake the LORD fhall be 29 confumed. For they fhall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have defired, and ye fhall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chofen; they fhall be afbamed and confounded when they fee that their gods, which were wor30 Shipped in groves and gardens, cannot fave them. For as ye have finned under oaks and in gardens, fo ye fhall be as an oak whofe leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no 31 water, deprived of all your enjoyments and delights. And the ftrong fhall be as tow, and the maker of it as a fpark, and they fhall both burn together, and none fhall quench [them;] the makers and the worshippers of idols fhall be easily confumed by my judgments, yea, their work fhall be as a spark, that is the inftrument of confuming them.
An expreffion taken from men, who find eafe in venting their anger and punishing incorrigible offenders.
ATIONAL fins bring national judgments. This chapter contains a beautiful and strong description of the wickedness of Ifrael, aggravated by all the great things which God had done for them; who, not being reformed by corrections, fhould be awfully punished; and neither their holy nor royal city fhould fecure them. Corruptions of the body politic, like the cancer or leprofy fpreading over the natural body, are exceeding dangerous and loathfome, and will end in death; the few good men that remain preferve it. This calls for our humiliation, left, resembling Ifrael in guilt, we fhould fuffer like them. Let us labour to be ourselves of the remnant, and increase the number of those who ftand 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 fpread forth their hands, to fhow their earneftnefs. But God would not hear; yea, he was greatly difpleafed, 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 hypocrify. He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, fhall find that God will turn away his ear from hearing his prayer.
3. We fee the grace of God in inviting finners to return to him, and the happy confequences of fuch returns. What ample encouragement is here given to this wicked people! Scarlet and crimson fins fhall be pardoned, peace restored, and publick bleffings continued, if they will turn to God, be obedient to his laws, and willing and cheerful in his fervice. Thus does God reafon the cafe 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.