« PreviousContinue »
*.--- to comfort all that mourni, to give Seat. VII. « them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy “ for mourning ?," &c. The meaning of all the figurative expressions here used by the prophet, is this; that Meffiah Thould, at his appearance, confer upon such as were disposed to receive them, the two great evangelical blefsings, viz. remission of fins, and a participation of the Spirit of joy and gladness, with which God had “ anointed 65 him above his fellows.” The inauguration of Jesus to all the offices of the Meffiah, by this divine unction, John had beheld, when, after his baptism, he saw the Holy Ghost descending upon him, and thereby knew him to be that “ Rod,” or “Branch of Jesse,” on whom Isaiah had elsewhere foretold, that “ the “ Spirit of the Lord should rest b.” Nothing therefore could be more appofite, than this part of Christ's answer, “ The poor have the Gospel preached “ unto them;" the full import of which, considered as referring to the Lxift chapter of Isaiah, and addressed to St. John,
a Ifai. lxi. 1. bo Ibid. xi, 1,2,
Se&t. VII. is as followeth --- Go fhew John again, m that the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit
of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of might and counsel, which Isaiah foretold should rest upon the Rod and Branch of Jeffe, and which John saw descending and abiding upon me, in the likeness of a dove, at my baptism, is not departed from me. The unction of the Spirit was not given me for mine own use ; nor is it spent, or consumed, although it hath powerfully diffused itself to all about me. By it the poor are made rich, being instated in the kingdom of grace and of the gospel, and anointed heirs unto the kingdom of glory. By it every contrite heart is healed ; such as were shut up are set at liberty; such as were bound are loosed; and by it the yoke of the oppressor is brokena.
We must not omit to mention the end for which, according to the prophet, all these changes were wrought in the converts to the Gospel ; “ That “ they might be called Trees of Right“eousness, the planting of the Lord, a See the Works of Dr Jackson, Vol.ii. p. 542.
“ that he might be glorified.” The Se&.VII. “ Rod,” the “ Branch of Jeffe," the “ Righteous Branch of David,” were the known titles of the Meffiah, or Son of David; and it was his glory, while he lived upon earth, to make others, like himself, “ Trees,” or “ Plants of “ Righteousness.” This expression, as it standeth here joined with others plainly descriptive of evangelical benefits and comforts, unfoldeth to us the true nature of those wonders which Isaiah foretold should be wrought in the wilderness, and which he hath reprefented under so rich a variety of poetical imagery; such as, streams of water breaking forth in the desarts, causing them to blossom as the rose; myrtles coming up, inftead of briars ; cedars, firs, and olive trees, instead of thorns, &c. The purport of these figurative predictions appears, by the passage before us, to be this; that the dry and barren places of Judea, where John baptized, and preached repentance, should, in the days of the Messiah, become a fruitful nursery of a new kind of plants, prepared for the celestial pa
Se&.VII. radise. "Thefe were men of humble,
peaceable, contrite hearts; fuch as poverty and disease had rendered thofe who came to be healed by Christ, and the confideration of our fins and infirmities should render us all. To such is the gospel of the kingdom preached, and they with joy receive it. “Blessed « are the poor in fpirit; for theirs is “ the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are “ the meek; for they shall inherit the “ earth. Blessed are they that mourn ; “ for they shall be comforted.”
To these beatitudes let us add one more, with which our Lord concludeth his answer to the question asked by
Fobn's difciples. « Blessed is he whofo“ ever is not offended in me." In other words ---- And now, blessed, thrice blessed are all they, who shall fo confider the wonderful works done by me, as not to be offended at my poor and lowly appearance, during the time of my humiliation and suffering here on earth ; or at the seeming harshness of my salutary doctrines to flesh and blood. For I well know, that many, though they have beheld me giving fight to the blind, and vigour to the impotent, Sect. VII. cleansing lepers, making the deaf tom hear, and raising the dead to life again; yet, because the truths, which I deliver, are contrary to their interests, their pleasures, their pride, their prejudices, which they are determined not to quit, even for the kingdom of heaven; many, I say, will reject what they cannot but acknowledge to be the counsel of God, and put away the word of salvation from them. Let a man only suppress his inordinate desires of things temporal, and he will be difposed to hear what I shall tell him of things eternal. Let him cease to love the world, and he will cease to have any objection to the Gofpel. Let but his heart be open to con- : viction, and when the evidence hath been once fairly laid before him, he will never again ask the question, “ Art “ thou he that should come, or do we “ look for another ?”