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We admire Grapho's zeal, but he seems to overlook the virtues of candour and prudence. There is “ a time for all things," and surely vothing would be more injurious to the cause of Unitarianism than to take advantage of a public meeting convened on the principle of agreeing to differ, to obtrude that system upon the unwilling ears of Trinitarians. Not a little appears to us to be gained on behalf of truth, when the discourses of Unitarian ministers on the common salvation, are heard by a mixed audience with approbation.
Mr. S. Freeman on the Prophecies of Isaiah, ch. vii.
Enfield, Of the latter, Pekah, son of Remaliah, SIR,
June, 1823. was now king; and, in the 17th year IN the year 1788, at which time I of his reign, Ahaz, son of Jotham, suc
was settled with a congregation ceeded his father as king of Judah. of Protestant Dissenters at Honiton, This latter had for some time past in Devonshire, as their minister, a been governed by kings who, in the discourse by the late Dr. Blayney, the main, did that which was right in the learned translator of Jeremiah, on the sight of the Lord; but who, neverthesign given to Ahaz, Isaiah vii. 14-16, Jess, did not exert themselves to defell into my hands. I was just about stroy the high places on which the that tiine, or had just before been, people use contrary to their law, engaged in drawing up for my own (as being nearer in their apprehension use a chronology of the Old Testa- to heaven, the habitation of their diviment history, so far as that alone nities,) to offer sacrifice and burn inwould carry me.
In the prosecution cense to the hosts of heaven. It inay of this design I had been minutely be reasonably supposed that, on this comparing many passages of the pro- account, towards the close of the reign phets with others in the direct histo- of Jotham, (see 2 Kings xv. 37,) the rical books. My mind being then Lord began to send against Judah, full of the subject, I was dissatisfied Rezin, the king of Syria, and Pekah, with several things which were ad- Remaliah's son, king of Israel. Such vanced in the Doctor's discourse, and was the situation of affairs when Abaz penned for my own satisfaction the came to the throne of Judah. following piece, containing observa Not alarmed at this appearance of tions on those parts of the Doctor's things, nor incited by it to turn unto sermon to which I felt objections. I the Lord and serve him wholly, he was, as will be seen, not pleased with did worse than his fathers; he walked the double sense of prophecy, and in in the ways of the kings of Israel, and relation to that had prefixed to my made molten images for Baalim (2 essay a quotation from Cicero, “Veri. Chron. xxviii. 24). Then Rezin tatis cultores, fraudis inimici;" think- and Pekah having made all necessary ing that the double sense savoured too preparations, came up to Jerusalem much of the ambiguity of the old hea- to make war against it. They besieged then oracles, and tended but too plainly it, and routed the army of Abaz more to sink the dignity of the former to a than once; but they could not overlevel with the baseness and duplicity of come him so as to bring him into the latter. If a performance that has subjection, or render him tributary to lain by me unnoticed for 35 years is them (2 Kings xvi. 5, 6, &c. 2 Chron. worthy of your attention, and suitable xxviii. 5-15, and Isaiah vii. 1). That to the purposes of your instructive Judah might be brought very low, miscellany, it is at your service. because of Ahaz the king, who transSTEPHEN FREEMAN. gressed sore against the Lord, other
enemies were brought up against this On the Prophecies of Isaiah, ch. vii. people; the Edomites and Philistines
Previous to the immediate conside invaded the country, and carried away ration of the prophecy itself, and as captives (2 Chron. xxviii. 16-19). introductory to it, it may not be use- In the midst of his distress, instead of less to take notice of the state of turning to the God of his fathers and public affairs at this time, and to give seeking succour from him, Ahaz sent a brief historical detail of the events unto the king of Assyria to help him. then taking place in Judah and Israel. And to induce Tiglath-pileser to come
These had now subsisted as separate to his assistance, he humbly calls himkingdoms above two hundred years. self his servant and son, and sends
him a magnificent present of the silver tation of the prophecy, and as to the and gold which he found in the house meaning of what the prophet had deof the Lord, and in the treasures of clared. The variety of opinion and the king's house (2 Kings xvi. 7, 8). difference of interpretation arise from God is always gracious, patient and what follows from the 10th to the long-suffering. He is willing, before 16th verse inclusive. But the chief Ahaz absolutely and entirely, casts difficulty lies in the 14th, 15th and liim off, by trusting in princes instead 16th verses. There is a general agreeof Jehovah, in an arm of flesh instead ment with respect to the explanation of the Most High, to try him, by clear- of the others, except so far as that ly manifesting mercy and love in the interpretation may be affected by the midst of deserved judgmert. Hence, meaning given to the three verses just when Ahaz is alarmed at the tidings mentioned. that Syria and Israel are confederate “ Moreover the Lord spake again against him, God sends the prophet unto Ahaz,” or as it is in the margin, Isaiah to give him comfort, and con and literally translated from the Hesole him with the assurance, that brew, And the Lord added to speak though Syria and Israel had taken unto Ahaz; he, at that time, after counsel against him, yet it should not having inentioned what occurs in the stand, neither should it come to pass preceding verses, continued to speak (Isa. vii. 2, 3, 5, 7–9). “The head unto Ahaz, saying, as it there follows; of Syria is Damascus, and the head of or, if it was at another time, it was Damascus is Rezin; the head of nevertheless relating to the same Ephraim (or Israel) is Samaria, and things on which he had already spoken the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son to hin, or to such as were in some (Pekah). Within threescore and five way immediately connected with them years shall Ephraim be broken, that it "Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy be not a people.” Such are the tidings God,” which it was then usual for of comfort which Isaiah the prophet men to ask and for God to grant, in brought from the Lord to Ahaz the confirmation of what had been deking—tidings which, had he believed clared by the mouth of the prophet; in God, would have allayed his fears ask it either in the depth or in the and filled his heart with confidence height above," you are at liberty to and joy.
choose the sign from any thing on To this it is added, “ If ye will not earth, or any thing in heaven, according believe, surely ye shall not be esta- to what you may deem most convincblished"-an intimation this to Ahaz, ing and satisfactory to your own mind. that though such as is mentioned in But Ahaz said, I will not ask for the 16th verse would be the fate of a sign, neither will I tempt the Lord." Samaria and Pekah and Rezin, yet he Not that he hearkened and readily bémust not thence indulge a confidence, lieved, without any such sign, what and rejoice in the expectation that he God had declared, and, therefore, did and his posterity would therefore be not need one for the confirmation of secure in possession of the crown and his faith, did he refuse to choose a kingdom of Judah. For though he sign ; but because he was an idolater, would be saved from the hands of his walking in the ways of the kings of present enemies, yet unless he be- Israel, and his heart being alienated lieved in the Lord, and turned his from Jehovah he hardened himself in heart towards him, neither should he his iniquity, and refused to turn to be established: his security and confi- the Lord, and give ear to his words dence would be then of only short by the mouth of the prophet. duration. In a little tiine the Lord “ And he,” the Lord, or rather the would bring against him other ene- prophet by the command of the Lord, mies who should woefully harass him, (for it is said, my God," said, and who shall finally bring him into “ Hear ye now, O house of David," subjection, reduce his kingdom under of which family was_Ahaz, hearken their dominion, efface all its glory, thou descendant of David unto my and carry aivay the whole strength of words. “ Is it a small thing for you the nation captives into a far country. to weary men,” by despising what · Thus far Jews and Christians are they say, and ill treating them for all generally agreed in their interpre- speaking the truth ; " but will you
Mr. S. Freeman on the Prophecies of Isaiuh, ch. vii. 499 weary my God also,” who has now connexion of the discourse, particuspoken unto you by my mouth, and larly from the striking expression of whose words you will not hear, but knowing “to refuse the evil and choose contemn? “Therefore the Lord him- the good,” that the same child is here self shall give you a sign:" though spoken of that was before introduced you are so perverse and obstinate in to our notice. See his Sermon, p. 5, your rebellion against God that you note. will not believe what he says, nor de 1. If it be asked, in defence of Dr. sire a sign, when he calls on you to K.'s supposition, for what reason do so, for the confirmation of your should Isaiah's son go with him, since faith; yet so gracious and patient is without that supposition his presence he towards you, that he will himself seems to have been quite unnecessary, nevertheless give you a sign, perad- it may be replied, that for aught that venture when you see the fulfilment appears to the contrary, the prophet's of one declaration, you may be induced son knew already to refuse the evil to believe the other also, and thus and to choose the good; and then the shall you save yourself and all your sign could not apply to him or he be house. Behold, a virgin shall con the sign referred to in the prophecy. cei and bear a son, and shall call And that he was already sufficiently his name Immanuel. Butter and old for this, there is at least as much honey shall he eat, when he shall reason to suppose as the contrary. know to refuse the evil, and shall It is not said that the prophet should choose the good. For before this child take or carry this child with him. But shall know to refuse the evil, and to he and his son are commanded to go choose the good, the land that thou forth to meet Ahaz. And then, if we abhorrest shall be forsaken of both suppose him of such an age as to acher kings. But the Lord shall bring company his father, he might go with upon thee, and upon thy people,” &c. hiin, because he was training up to “ days that have not come,” &c. speak in the name of the Lord.
Before I proceed to state what ap 2. According to Dr. K.'s suppopears to me the natural and most con- sition again, the sign promised to sistent interpretation of this prophecy, Ahaz could not refer to the birth of it may not be amiss to notice some the child, spoken of in verses 14, other methods which the learned have 15; but to the event mentioned in adopted in explaining it, and to men the 16th verse, that before Sheartion the objections which appear to lie jashub should know to refuse the evil against them.
and choose the good, the land of It is a commonly received opinion Syria and of Israel which Ahaz abthat this prophecy relates to the birth hórred, should be left desolate of of our Saviour, and this opinion seems both their kings. The question will
o have been much favoured, if it did then return respecting the 14th and not even originate in the application 15th verses, What was the design of made of this prophecy to the birth of introducing the prediction of such an our Saviour, in the beginning of the event at this time? The only plausiEvangelist Matthew. Hence it has ble reason which occurs is this: the met with many and strenuous sup Deity would hereby intend to place porters, who in various ways have de- the certainty of the event predicted to fended their cause.
Ahaz, on the same evidence or ground 1. It is supposed by Dr. Kennicott of belief with all the predictions and that the 14th and 15th verses contain promises given to the children of a prophecy concerning our Saviour, Israel as a peculiar and favoured and that the child spoken of in the people, and especially with those 16th verse is Shear-jashub, the son of which referred to the Messialı repeatthe prophet, who went with his father edly promised throughout the history by the command of the Lord to meet of this people. Thus he would diAhaz; see ver. 3. *On what Dr. Ken- rect the attention of Ahaz to those nicott founded this opinion I know various prophecies and promises which not, not having had an opportunity of he had given in favour of that people, reading his sermon on this passage. and in relation to those events leading But, as Dr. Blayney observes, it seems on to that most important one of all, poure natural to conclude from the the coming of the Messiah, which