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heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine33. And I will punish the world for their evil34; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall move out of her place, in the day of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger35.
Surely language like this appears to point at somewhat more than the victory of one arbitrary prince over a brothermonarch, and the removal of one set of rapacious nobles in order to make way for another. On the last of these verses, Vitringa says, 'to no man, who is skilled in the diction of prophecy, is this figurative language obscure.It signifies, that the greatest commotions would arise in the world; and that, in the political government of it, stupen dous changes would be effected (together with the clearest demonstration of the Divine justice and severity), not otherwise than if the heavens were to fall, and the earth to move out of its place.'
This sagacious commentator, speaking of this part of Isaiah, says, one object of this prophecy is to teach, 'that the fate of the figurative Babylon, and of all the kingdoms of the world, which should oppose themselves to the kingdom of the Son of God, would resemble the fate of the real Babylon3 And he adds a little farther, that pious
that the two first verses of the first ch. of Genesis, where haarets is used, prove beyond all contradiction, that this is a word of the most comprehen. sive import. It is there said, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void.
33 Maimonides speaks of this and of v. 13, as having beyond all doubt a political and symbolic signification. More Nevochim, p. 265.
34 In bp. Lowth's more correct Version it is: I will visit the world for its evil. The Hebrew word, translated world, is of the most extensive import, and could not have been otherwise rendered. How this expression can be exclusively applied to the empire of the king of Babylon, it does not seem easy to conceive.
35 XIII. 9, 10, 11, 13.
36 In Jesai. vol. I. p. 377.
men may, from this prophecy, anticipate the destruction of the enemies of Christ's kingdom, and of all power which is hostile to it. One or two remarks, from the argument of Mr. Lowth on the xiiith ch. of Isaiah, shall also be cited. After the description of those glorious times, which should come to pass in the latter days, the prophet foretells the destruction of God's enemies, and begins with Babylon, whither God's people were to be carried captive, and therefore was a type or figure of Antichrist, the great oppressor of God's church in after-times. See Rev. xvii. 5. And whoever carefully considers several particulars in this and the next chapter-will easily find, that these prophecies have an aspect beyond the taking of Babylon by Cyrus, inasmuch as the prophets describe this judgment as a decisive stroke, that should thoroughly vindicate the cause of oppressed truth and innocence.' But this cause cannot, I apprehend, be completely vindicated, till all the oppressive governments, not only of Europe, but of the world, shall be overthrown, and every remnant of aristocratic usurpation shall be swept away; when those, who glitter in their elevated stations in the political world, like the sun, the moon, and the stars in the natural, shall be perfectly darkened, and, in the expressive language of the prophet, the arrogancy of the proud shall cease, and the haughtiness of the terrible shall be laid low.
It is in the name of Almighty God, that the prophet says, I will shake the heavens, i. e. the governments of the world, and the earth shall remove out of her place. That the earth is a symbol of the great body of the people has before been remarked; and accordingly its removal out of its place appears here to signify, that they shall be raised from their present oppressed and degraded state, and shall assume their proper rank in society. Though contenting myself with the concisest mention of this passage of Isaiah, I yet cannot but entertain the expectation, that, after all which has been said in this and the two preceding chapters, it will be thought, by many of my readers, pointedly to foretell VOL. II.
the future accomplishment of these happy events, and perfectly to harmonise with the memorable predictions of Daniel, of John, and of our Lord himself.
A parallel passage shall with brevity be referred to, for the explanation of which there is certainly no occasion to have recurrence to that double sense, which, as there is reason to think, is sometimes found in prophecy. In the 2d and 4th verses of the iid ch. of Isaiah, that prophet says, It shall come to pass in the last days3, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it; and they shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning hooks; a prediction manifestly descriptive, in its proper and primary sense, of the millennium. Our writers,' says the learned Brenius, every where apply the expression of the last days or times to the times of the Messiah, which run from that period, in which he obtained in heaven the kingdom even unto that time, in which he shall again deliver the kingdom to the Father. He says then in the last days, that is, in the time of the Messiah, the mountain of the Lord's house, that is, the kingdom of the people of God is about to be exalted upon all the kingdoms of the world. By Daniel the same is predicted under the image of a stone, cut out of a mountain, and become a mountain, which fills the whole earth.But although this does not yet appear, as the monarchies of the world are still standing, which are first to be destroyed; yet when the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled, and the fullness of them shall have entered in, and the end of the monarchies exhibited to Daniel in his vision shall be arrived, then at length this prophecy shall with all completeness be accomplished. Mountain we often see employed in the prophetic scriptures for a kingdom or king.38?
37 In the Improved Translations of bp. Lowth and Mr. Dodson it is, in the latter days.
38 Numerous are the passages to which Brenius refers, for the purpose of proving this.
After this striking prediction of what is to take place at the commencement, and during the progress, of the millennium, Isaiah, a few verses farther, enters more particularly into the events which shall distinguish the first æra of that memorable period. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. For the day of the Lord of Hosts shall be upon every one that is lifted up, and he shall be brought low. And upon ALL the high mountains, and upon ALL the hills that are lifted up.. -And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth40, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. This prophecy, which resembles that of the sixth seal, and appears in no small degree to countenance the glorious doctrine of Equality of Rights, is classed by Mr. Whiston among those, which relate to the destruction at Armageddon, and to the downfal of Antichrist. The shaking of the earth, says Mr. Macculloch, a clergyman of Scotland, here intimates, that, at the period referred to, the nations of the world should be violently agitated, and terrible commotions excited43."
The prediction, to which I shall next concisely refer, forms a principal part of the concluding prophecy of Haggai; and I am the rather induced to mention it, short as it is, because it furnishes an undoubted specimen of symbolic diction being immediately afterwards interpreted by words of a plain and obvious import44. In the name of that great
39 i. e. Upon the greater and the lesser kingdoms, for Dr. Lancaster has observed, as analogy would lead us to expect, that a hill, as well as a mountain, is the symbol of a kingdom.
40 That this is a very proper and familiar image to express terror, and drawn from actual observation and experience, bp. Lowth has shewn at length (in loc.)
41 Or rather, as it is in the Translations of bp. Lowth and Mr. Dobson, from the fear of Jehovah, and from the glory of his majesty.
42 See his Ess. on the Rev. p. 361. 43 Lect. on Isaiah. 1791.
44 Look back to p. 258. vol. I.
Being, who decrees and superintends the revolutions of the world, the prophet in the 21st and 22d verses of the iid chapter says, I will shake the heavens and the earth; and I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen. That the latter part of this passage is a literal explication of the figu rative language of the former part, is observed by Mr. Collyer45 and by bp. Chandler46. To the same purpose speaks Mr. Thomas Jeffery. The shaking of the earth is explained by the prophet himself, by shaking the nations and kingdoms of the earth; and then shaking the heavens may very naturally refer to the altering the government in them47.' The prophecy contained in the 21st and 22d verses of the iid ch. of Haggai ' plainly relates,' says Mr. Lowth, ‘to the second coming of Christ, or to that illustrious appearance of his kingdom, which shall put a period to the kingdoms of the earth.See Dan. ii. 44.'
Any prophecy of superior authority to that of our Saviour it is impossible to cite. On this subject I can, however, refer the reader to one of much higher antiquity. It is in the second Psalm. This psalm, which is applied to Jesus in the Acts of the Apostles, 'contains,' says bishop Patrick,
a most illustrious prophecy of the kingdom of Christ;' and accordingly Simeon De Muis, a much esteemed commentator on the Psalms, informs us, that it was regarded by celebrated writers of antiquity among the Jews as prophetic of the Messiah.
'If we compare this poem with the events of the life and reign of David, illustrious as they were; we find,' says Dr. Apthorp, the ideas and expressions too disproportioned to the subject, to admit of a literal application. For neither were his enemies so powerful, nor their submission so
45 The Sacred Interpreter, by Collyer, late vicar of Coxwell, Berks, Carlisle, 1790, vol, I. p. 321.
46 Def. of Chr. p. 205.
47 Christianity the Perfection of all Religion, Nat. and Rev. p. 343. 48 Those celebrated rabbis, Aben Ezra and Kimchi, are specified by bp. Chandler, as maintaining this opinion. Def. of Chr. p. 212.