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complete, nor the reign of David so prosperous and extensive, as to verify the amplitude of the style and composition49. If,' says Vitringa, 'the predicates of any subject can be understood, in their just emphasis, of none but Christ; and if applied to any other subject give a feeble and uninteresting meaning: as in Isai. xi. why should we pursue a flying and fallacious shadow, and not seize at once the solid substance of the prophecy? Especially when the New Testament is our guide3.'
The opposition, which princes and men in power were to carry on both against the propagation and against the progress of the gospel, the iid Psalm appears to point out in general terms. In the 2d verse, David says, the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed. Now such were Pilate and Herod, and, as Mr. Sam. Clark observes on this verse, other wicked kings in all ages;' and he pertinently refers to that parallel verse in the Rev. (xvii. 14), where it is said, that the Ten Kings-shall make war with the Lamb. But, says the psalmist in the 4th and 5th verses, he that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision: Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 'When they have spit their venom,' says the same commentator, and spun their thread to its full length, and are ripe for destruction, he will manifest his fury against them, by the punishment he inflicts upon them.' The inspired writer adds in the 6th verse, yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zions; and in the eighth, I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance; and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 'These words,' says Poole, declare the great amplitude of the kingdom of the Messiah.' How this is
49 Vol. II. p. 86.
50 Vitringa, in confirmation of what he here urges, specifies various passages of the New Testament. De Canonibus Verbi Prophetici recte exponendi, cap. ii. can. xii.
51 This expression, as Poole remarks (in loc.) is sometimes put for the Christian Church.'
to be effected we are told in the next verse, where the Deity is represented as solemnly addressing Christ in these tremendous words: thou shalt break them with a rod of irons2, thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel; that is, that description of persons, who had been previously mentioned, the Kings and the Rulers of the earth, who set themselves against the Lord's anointed, and breathe hostility against the true spirit of his religion. The Hebrew word, here translated set themselves, Maimonides observes on this verse, denotes firmness and perpetuity54; and, with respect to the obstruction made to the progress of the Messiah's kingdom, the monarchs of the world have certainly acted a very decided and uniform part.
Returning to the Evangelical prophets (for that is the title which the general suffrage of Christians has conferred on Isaiah), I shall cite from the xxivth chapter of his prophecies a remarkable passage, which is thought to have a particular reference to the war of Armageddon, to the fate of the princes who are engaged in it, and to the signal revolution which will be consequent to their overthrow. That this chapter relates to the latter ages of the world is observed by Dr. Wells in his commentary upon it. The images, which the prophet chiefly employs in this xxivth chapter are such, says bishop Lowth, as denote great revolutions; revolutions, involving all orders and degrees of men, changing entirely the face of things, and destroying the whole polity both religious and civil.' After declaring that the earth shall be in a distressed and a desolated state, Isaiah supposes a great and favorable change to take place,
52 That is, says Simeon de Muis, with the sword, as rabbies Ezra and Rasi interpret it.
53 The reader of this verse Mr. Sam. Clark pertinently refers to a parallel place in Daniel (ii. 44), where it is said, the God of heaven-shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms.
54 More Nevochim, p. 18.
55 He is so styled, says Mr. Lowth (in Pref.), because he foretold the Coming and Kingdom of the Messiah with greater clearness than any of the rest."
and accordingly says in v. 15 and 16, glorify ye the Lordin the isles of the sea. From the uttermost parts of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous. Praise ye the Lord throughout the nations of Europe; .35 and it is not thence only, but from the remotest parts of the world, that the voice of joy is heard, and the praises of the just and the upright are now to be resounded. After declaring in v. 19 and 20, that the earth (i. e. the symbolic earth) is moved exceedingly, and that the earth shall move to and fro, the prophet foretells in the two following verses, that it shall come to pass in that Day", that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pits, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited. To the war of Armageddon this passage is referred by Mr. Whiston: and Mr. Lowth says, cannot find any explication of this verse so agreeable to the natural sense of the words, as that of a late learned writer upon the Revelation, c. xix. 6, who explains it of the kings of the earth, who made war with Christ and his saints at Armageddon, Rev. xvi. 16.' If Mr. Lowth sup posed, that all, engaged in the war of Armageddon against the kings of the earth, were to be men of an holy character, he was, I apprehend, in an error. When large bodies. of men are united in accomplishing the very best designs, not a few among them will necessarily be of very exceptionable morals.
With respect to the kings of the earth being visited af ter many days, it may signify, says Matthew Henry, that
56 Look back to p. 75, where the expression, the isles of the sea, is explained.
57 In that Day. This phrase often denotes in Isaiah-an extraordinary season, remarkable for some signal events of providence, called else where, by way of excellence, the Day of the Lord.' Mr. Lowth on Isa. iv. 2. See this latter expression explained in p. 261. vol. I.
58 'Or dungeon.' Mr. Lowth.
59 See his Ess. on the Rev. p. 362.
'they shall be visited in wrath; it is the same word in another form that is used, v. 21, the Lord shall punish them: they shall be reserved to the day of execution as condemned criminals are.' To the same purpose speaks Dr. Wells.
They shall be visited, i. e. brought forth to public punishment.' That the word visited in this passage is to be explained of punishment is observed by Glassius", by Brenius, and by Vitringa; and the last of these truly learned men declares it to be extremely clear, that this prophecy in its figurative sense is to be explained of the very period, yet to come, which St. John treats of in the sixth seal, and of the great events which he has there foretold. That I appeal to so many unaccomplished predictions in the Hebrew scriptures needs not to awaken in the reader any degree of surprise; for Sir I. Newton does not hesitate to declare, that there is scarce a prophecy in the Old Testament concerning Christ, which doth not, in something or other, relate to his second coming?
Having quoted several passages from Isaiah, I shall here take the opportunity of inserting another, as it is a striking one, though with the subject of the chapter it has only an indirect connexion.
This prophet,' says Mr. Lowth, seems to have been favored with an entire view of the Gospel-state, from the very birth of the Messias, to that glorious period, when the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdoms of the Lord, and of his Christ? In correspondence with this, Dr. Apthorp observes, that the three last verses of ch. lvi. refer to the corruptions of Antichrist;' and the completion of this prophecy must, he declares, be sought in the conduct of the bishops and more eminent pastors and the whole ecclesiastical orders. To a large proportion of the
61 Philologia Sacra, 1711, p. 561.
62 P. 132.
64 Vol. II. p. 186, 189.
60 Thus this very phrase, after many days thou shalt be visited, is used, Ezek. xxxviii. 8.' Mr. Lowth in loc. And in this sense of punishment it is understood by a crowd of Jewish rabbis, who have commented on this
63 Pref. p. 4.
priests, belonging to all the countries of Christendom, it does, indeed, seem justly applicable: but there appears to be no solid reason, why Dr. Apthorp should have restricted it, as he has done, to the clergy of the middle ages.
The verses are expressed with the plainness of primitive times, and speak the language of censure without reserve. After foretelling in the preceding verse, in the diction of symbols, that the beasts of the forest would come to devour; the prophet says: His watchmen are blind; they are all ignorant; they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumbers. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain from the highest to the lowests. Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant. Now, says Mr. Lowth,
65 The image in this place is taken from the temple-service; in which there was appointed a constant watch, day and night.-The watches in the East, even to this day, are performed by a loud cry from time to time of the watchmen, to mark the time, and that very frequently, and in order to shew that they themselves are constantly attentive to their duty. Hence the greatest reproach to them is, that they are dumb dogs; they cannot bark.' Bp. Lowth on c. lxii. 6.
66 In the Versions of bp. Lowth and Mr. Dodson, the clause is thus rendered: Yea, these dogs are of untamed appetite: they know not to be satisfied. Upon this passage Vitringa pertinently cites our Lord's precaution (Mat. vii. 15), Beware of false teachers, which come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
67. They feed not the flock, but fleece it. They are every one looking to his own way, minding his own private interests.' M. Henry.
68 From the highest to the lowest is the amended translation of bp. Lowth and of Mr. Dodson.
69 That is, unto their brethren, by office, and in iniquity.' Poole in loc. If it be enquired, what description of persons have with most frequency attended at the banquet, and shared all the luxuries of the table, those who belong to corrupt governments and corrupt hierarchies will, I believe, without hesitation be fixed on. This part of the prophecy must then be admitted to be pertinently applied.