Page images
PDF
EPUB

Verse 1o, " And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs, AND EVERLASTING JOY UPON THEIR HEADS. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."

The same two facts are again connected in Isaiah xlix." Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive be delivered? But thus saith the Lord, even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible"-(the distinguishing epithet of the roman power, their captors,) — “ shall be delivered. For (in due season) I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I WILL SAVE THY CHILDREN" (the remnant of Israel in the last days). “And I will feed them that oppress thee, with their own flesh, and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine;":-(shall be made instrumental to their own chastisement, by one destroying the others :)—“ and (then) all flesh shall know that I am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob,"

[ocr errors]

To illustrate this point, let us compare with these declarations that very singulrr prophecy in Isaiah xviii. Here the people in whose favor the divine edict of redemption is promulgated, are described by several epithets which are pointedly applicable to the Jews, and to no other people. *-" Go ye

swift messengers to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled.—The scattering and plundering of the jews by the romans is notorious, and there is good foundation also for the epithet “ terrible," which the prophet ascribes to them in respect of their almighty Protector, who adopted them in their great ancestor Abraham, and will be with them (both in exaltation and depression) even to their latest posterity. t In these latter times of the christian dispensation, the jews have been held forth a spectacle to the world, and an object of astonishment and terror to

* See Sect. iv. p. 119, note. + Isai. xli. 2; Dan, xü, 1.

all reflecting minds, * when we behold in thent so undeniable a proof of the power of God to deal with unrepenting sinners, and so strong an assurance of the certainty of his word that he will do it. This people has truly been“ meted out-sifted like wheat among the nations of the earth, and every where trodden down and trampled upon with the insulting foot of the oppressor. Their land, which anciently flowed with milk and honey, is also

spoiled," desolated and ruined by floods of barbarians, more merciless and ignorant than the heathen, their original destroyers.

To a people distinguishable by these well known characteristics, when the fulness of time for their redemption draws 'near,

the prophet calls the solemn attention of mankind; and points out the signals by which their approaching deliverance will be indicated to the believers in the truth of prophecy. Verse 3. By the lifting up of an ensign on the mountains, and the blowing of the

* Deut. xxviii, 37.

great trumpet for the commencement of their march; to be conducted by some great instrument of Providence, raised up for the oce casion.

After this preparation, there follows an allusion to the dreadful vengeance that will at this time be taken upon their enemies, on which occasion (as seems intimated in several prophecies introduced before, the jews will probably make good the prophet's words, by shewing themselves in a light of terror hitherto unexampled, and becoming the active in struments of the divine vengeance.

The HARVEST and VINTAGE are the two emblems appropriated in the prophecies, to prefigure this dreadful destruction, which will in all likelihood happen in two calamitous events following one upon the other, in like manner as these do in nature. vent misapprehension, here is a distinction pointed out between a common vintage and this mystical one, that whereas in the former there proceeds from the fruit of the well ri

But to pre

pened grape " wine that maketh glad the beart of man;" in the latter case the fruit when cut down, shall be thrown out as accursed of God and abominable. It “ shall be left unto the fowls of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth: and the fowls shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them.”—This answers to the flesh feast prepared for the carnivorous birds, to which they are collected together by an angel standing in the sun, and crying with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God.

The same images of the harvest and vintage are also applied to the same occasion by St John; and he represents the grapes as being previously " thrown into the GREAT WINE PRESS OF THE WRATH OF GOD; when blood instead of wine, issues out in hideous torrents, even up to the horses bridles."*

This hyper

* Rer. xiv. 20.- This, says Newton, “ is a strong hyperm bolical way of speaking, not unknown to the jews, for the JeVOL. II.

GG

« PreviousContinue »