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in.* "Therefore with joy draw ye water out of "the wells of salvation."+ Receive the seals of the new covenant, the earnests of your eternal inheritance. The season of communion is the season of your solemn espousals: let it be that of the gladness of your heart. Ye are not merely witnesses, but parties in the contract: and, "blessed are they, "who are called to the marriage supper of the "Lamb!"
CHRIST'S POWER TO PROTECT AND BLESS.
ISAIAH XXXII. 2.—A man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
THE prophecy of which our text is a part, was originally intended to comfort the faithful in Judea, under the grievous calamities, which their land and people were about to suffer, from the kings of Babylon and Assyria. This is conformable to a practice frequently exemplified in the prophetic scripWhen the awful and unavoidable judg→ ments of God on his backsliding people are denounced, there are usually added, for the consolation of the true Israel among them, promises of the happiness which the church was to attain, in a better state of things, on the advent of the Messiah. These promises, so consolatory to them, ought to be still more interesting to us, who actually live under the Messiah's reign. In this view, the language of the text may be considered as peculiarly intended for christians. Some of those, to whom it was first addressed, may perhaps, indeed, have understood it of the rise of an illustrious temporal prince, who, by his valour and conduct, should rescue them from their foreign enemies; and by his active administration of justice, and vigilant attention to the
welfare of his subjects, should promote tranquillity and improvement at home. But the security and the happiness, to be enjoyed under the king who was to "reign in righteousness," that increase of knowledge and goodness, of which he was to be the author, as described in the succeeding verses, are such as no political wisdom, or earthly power could produce; and, together with other circumstances enumerated in the prophecy, demonstrate, that it points to a greater deliverer, and a mightier king, than the most celebrated of the temporal princes of Judah. We may add that, unless it be thus interpreted, it has failed of its accomplish-ment for there is no Jewish ruler, after Isaiah's times, whose character, and the effects of whose government, are at all commensurate to the descriptions which this chapter contains.
On most subjects, but especially on those which relate to the Messiah, the language of the prophets is commonly figurative. The vast ideas, with which the Almighty inspired them, of the events to be effected by his power, required a phraseology, stronger than the common modes of speech, to express them. Bold comparisons, and metaphors drawn from the most stupendous works, and the richest blessings of nature, were the only channels, by which they could convey suitable impressions of those subjects, on which they were commissioned to instruct mankind. Did they predict judgments? "The stars of heaven, and the constella"tions thereof, shall not give their light: the sun "shall be darkened in his going forth; and the
moon shall not cause her light to shine."* Did
*Isaiah xiii. 10.
they dwell on the peace and happiness of the Mes siah's reign?" The wolf shall dwell with the lamb; "and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and "the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling to
gether; and a little child shall lead them."‡ Was the Messiah himself their theme? his power to protect, and his fullness to bless, the object of their description? Their language is, "A man shall "be as an hiding place from the wind, and a "covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a "weary land."
The full force and beauty of this imagery we, in these lands, cannot perceive. Our lot is cast in a temperate clime, where the extremes of sultry calms, and sweeping tempests, are unknown. It was not so in Judea, even in that promised land, which flowed with milk and honey. There, sometimes, the heavens became as brass, and the earth as iron the springs of water were dried up, and the fruits of the field failed. While at other seasons, the winds, let loose, overwhelmed the forests and the habitations of men; or famine and pestilence destroyed the people. To those, who were acquainted with such scenes, who had probably. often felt the torments of parching thirst, and witnessed the ravages of the tempest, the comparisons employed in the text would convey the liveliest ideas of security and comfort.-But the inhabitants of Judea knew more. Their country was contiguous to the dreary region of the Arabian desart. Of this the soil is generally nothing more than an immense extent of loose and arid sands; which,
* Isaiah xi. 6.
when agitated by the furious hurricanes of those climates, roll on in collected bodies, like the vast waves of a tempestuous ocean; overwhelming, with irresistible force, every object in their course. Under these, whole armies have been buried; and have found at once their death and their tomb. Here too, blow gales, which, though gentler in their motion, are armed with scorching heat, or pestilential poison, of which it is disease, if not death, to breathe.* And those, who, at certain seasons deemed more safe than others, attempt to traverse this dreary solitude, must carry with them not only their food, but their water: as here rain seldom falls, and fountains are unknown. On its borders, the children of Israel wandered forty years and Moses reminds them of its horrors, that they might not "forget the Lord, their God, who "led them through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, "and drought: where there was no water."+ What words, then, could describe to the people of Judea, so impressively, as the allusions here employed, the wretchedness and danger of guilty men, on the one hand; and on the other, the plentitude of power and blessing, united in the Messiah, for their deliverance and their happiness? But to us, also, they may teach the most important lessons. Figure to yourselves the traveller, contemplating with horror the mountainous waves of the desart rolling towards him, pressed on by mighty winds. Would he stay to amuse himself with the pebbles
*The noxious wind, called the Simoom; the effects of which are always deleterious, and often instant death.
† Deut. viii. 15.