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are generally considered to form one whole distinct vision, we may collect from the best interpreters, that the destruction here denounced against God's chosen people under the Law, was fulfilled first in the Babylonish captivity, and next in the siege and thorough demolition of the city by the Romans; and that further it has a reference to judgments yet to come upon God's chosen people under the Gospel, who for their pride, worldliness, and idolatry, fully equal to those of the Jews, under circumstances of greater aggravation, have to undergo, ere the end of the world, disaster and disgrace, proportionably more signal and severe. On the other hand, the good things here promised refer in part to the return from the Babylonish captivity, and in part to the coming of Christ, to the preaching of his Gospel unto all nations beginning at Jerusalem, to God's sanctifying unto Himself the Christian church, and endowing it with inestimable privileges, such as it has been endowed with from the first; and further that they point also to a state of blessedness not yet realized, to a degree of boliness and happiness which has never yet prevailed to any great extent on earth, but which every Christian ought constantly to aim at in himself, and constantly to pray for, and to labour to promote, in behalf of all mankind.
This repeated fulfilment of the same prophecy in a succession of events, each of which is a kind of type of those which follow, adds greatly to the marvel of prophecy fulfilled, and to the proof thereby afforded, that God foreknows all things in his wisdom, and orders all things by his rule. It adds also to our conviction of the certainty of things which are promised as yet for to come. The past is a pledge and an earnest of the future. Much as we have already profited by the preaching of the Gospel, we feel no doubt that the glorious things here said of it have a further and future fulfilment. And that which we enjoy already in part, assures us of that which we shall enjoy hereafter wholly. If the horrors of warfare have been in any wise mitigated by the power of Christianity, so much the more may we be sure, that a period is coming, when they shall not “ learn war any more.” Ch. 2. 4.
If the branch of the Lord," that Saviour whom Zechariah calls the man whose name is The Branch,” Zech. 6. 12, be now " beautiful and glorious,” in the eyes of some, by faith, He will be hereafter more largely glorified, more generally loved, honoured, and obeyed, by those whom He died to save. They who profess his faith will no longer disgrace his name.
The fountain opened in Him for all uncleanness will be thankfully resorted to by many more of sinful men. And “ the spirit of judgment,” and “the spirit of burning” having once again been applied to things that offend, the church will be all glorious without and within; a sanctuary of safety unto man, a temple meet for the indwelling of God.
The parable of the vineyard. Woes denounced. 1 Now will I sing to my well- they may be placed alone in the beloved a song of my beloved midst of the earth! touching his vineyand. My 9 In mine ears said the LORD wellbeloved hath a vineyard in of hosts, Of a truth many houses a very fruitful hill :
shall be desolate, even great and 2 And he fenced it, and ga- fair, without inhabitant. thered out the stones thereof, 10 Yea, ten acres of vineyard and planted it with the choicest shall yield one bath, and the seed vine, and built a tower in the of an homer shall yield an ephah. midst of it, and also made a 11 Woe unto them that rise winepress therein: and he looked up early in the morning, that that it should bring forth grapes, they may follow strong drink; and it brought forth wild grapes. that continue until night, till
3 And now, O inhabitants of wine inflame them! Jerusalem, and men of Judah, 12 And the harp, and the viol, judge, I pray you, betwixt me the tabret, and pipe, and wine, and my vineyard.
are in their feasts : but they 4 What could have been done regard not the work of the more to my vineyard, that I LORD, neither consider the opehave not done in it? wherefore, ration of his hands. when I looked that it should 13 Therefore my people are bring forth grapes, brought it gone into captivity, because forth wild grapes ?
they have no knowledge: and 6 And now go to; I will tell their honourable men you what I will do to my vine- mished, and their multitude yard: I will take away the hedge dried up with thirst. thereof, and it shall be eaten up; 14 Therefore hell bath enand break down the wall thereof, larged herself, and opened her and it shall be trodden down: mouth without measure: and
6 And I will lay it waste: it their glory, and their multishall not be pruned, nor digged; tude, and their pomp, and he that but there shall come up briers rejoiceth, shall descend into it. and thorns: I will also com- 15 And the mean man shall be mand the clouds that they rain brought down, and the mighty
man shall be humbled, and the .7 For the vineyard of the eyes of the lofty shall be humLORD of hosts is the house of bled : Israel, and the men of Judah 16 But the Lord of hosts his pleasant plant: and he look- shall be exalted in judgment, ed for judgment, but behold and God that is holy shall be oppression; for righteousness, sanctified in righteousness. but behold a cry.
17 Then shall the lambs feed 8 Woe unto them that join after their manner, and the house to house, that lay field to waste places of the fat ones field, till there be no place, that shall strangers eat.
LECTURE 1102. The woe of sinning in the midst of privileges. It would seem to be to God himself that the prophet sings this
song of God's own inspiring, and relating to God's own vineyard. Plain as is the application of this parable to the case of the Jews, it is no less plain and no less profitable to ours. Yes, for more has been done by God for us, more has been done by God in us.
We have knowledge more full, privileges more excellent; life and immortality brought to light, Christ crucified for us, the Holy Spirit sent to be our Comforter, and the way of serving and pleasing God finally revealed to us, in the example of God's own Son, and in the words of Christ and of his apostles. How much then must God most reasonably expect of us ! And we, alas, how far do we commonly fall short of that which He justly requires !
In the commonwealth of Israel the land was so divided, and its perpetual subdivision so provided for, that no one without violating the revealed Law could "join house to house,” and “ lay field to field,” as here described. Shall we think that Christians have a larger licence to be covetous ? Or can we doubt, that if we violate the spirit of this law, we shall be exposed to the visitation of the judgments here denounced? Though the Gospel lays down no rule for the partition either of land or of any other property, it is most opposed to a grasping disposition; and it is most plainly transgressed by every man, who selfishly amasses for his own pleasure, to the detriment of his brethren.' With wealth like this there usually comes also luxurious excess; though this is a sin which is by no means confined to the wealthy. To follow strong drink, and to be addicted to revelling and feasting, to waste both time and means in festivity, without regard to God in the use of his good gifts, without consideration of the uses to which Hy would have us put them, these are habits prevailing in all ranks of society. And they are habits, of which under the Law and under the Gospel the end alike is woe. case if God's people thus transgress, it must be “ because they have no knowledge.” They consider not that they are God's people. They have not the sense to reflect how high and holy is their calling, how inconsistent is the inheritance of heaven with a carnal and worldly life. Most fearful is the consequence, “ Therefore hell hath enlarged herself.” Most terrible is the thought, that these words are true, not only of the grave, not only of the region of departed spirits, but also of the place of torment! The justice of the Lord was magnified of old, by the captivity and the slaughter of the ungodly, and by the desolation of their country, in the hands of strangers. The same righteousness must be hereafter glorified on a larger scale, and by a more abiding judgment. And whilst many a gentle spirit, once alien unto God, will be found to have fed and thrived on the green pastures of the Gospel, there will be multitudes both of high and low, who from the eminence of their privileges possessed long, and largely, but in vain, must be thrust down, by the sentence of the Judge, to the depths of endless death.
And in any
Further woes denounced, and a fearful invasion. 18 Woe unto them that draw people, and he hath stretched iniquity with cords of vanity, forth his hand against them, and and sin as it were with a cart hath smitten them: and the rope:
hills did tremble, and their car19 That say, Let him make cases were torn in the midst of speed, and hasten his work, that the streets. For all this his we may see it: and let the anger is not turned away, but counsel of the Holy One of his hand is stretched out still. Israel draw nigh and come, that 26 And he will lift up an we may know it!
ensign to the nations from far, 20 Woe unto them that call and will hiss unto them from evil good, and good evil; that the end of the earth: and, beput darkness for light, and light hold, they shall come with speed for darkness; that put bitter for swiftly: sweet, and sweet for bitter !
27 None shall be weary nor 21 Woe unto them that are stumble among them ; none wise in their own eyes, and shall slumber nor sleep; neither prudent in their own sight! 1 shall the girdle of their loins be
22 Woe unto them that are loosed, nor the latchet of their mighty to drink wine, and men shoes be broken: of strength to mingle strong
28 Whose arrows are sharp, drink :
and all their bows bent, their 23 Which justify the wicked horses' hoofs shall be counted for reward, and take away the like flint, and their wheels like righteousness of the righteous a whirlwind : from him !
29 Their roaring shall be like a 24 Therefore as the fire de- lion, they shall roar like young voureth the stubble, and the lions : yea, they shall roar, and flame consumeth the chaff, so lay hold of the prey, and shall their root shall be as rottenness, carry it away safe, and none and their blossom shall go up as shall deliver it. dust: because they have cast 30 And in that day they shall away the law of the Lord of roar against them like the roarhosts, and despised the word of ing of the sea: and if one look the Holy One of Israel. unto the land, behold darkness
25 Therefore is the anger of and sorrow, and the light is darkthe Lord kindled against his ened in the heavens thereof.
LECTURE 1103. The use we ought to make of God's forbearance. To “ draw iniquity with cords of vanity,” probably means, to justify ourselves in sin with plausible excuses, and so to be the more hardened in transgression. Thus do sinners wilfully draw after them, and on them, like beasts of burden labouring at their load, the weight of guilt and vengeance. And one of the most audacious of their pleas is this, that God's judgment seems too distant to work upon their fears, and that if they do not serve God truly, it is because He does not manifest his justice sufficiently. Let such know, that for them is reserved the woe denounced on those, who say, “Let him make speed and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it."
There is a woe for them also “ that call evil good, and good evil;" a common abuse of language with the wicked ; who by such means would fain palliate their wickedness, and throw discredit on the righteous. Let such know, that things are not what men choose to call them, but what God has pronounced them to be; and that there is, in spite of all their perverse sayings, a dis. tinction between right and wrong, which, like unto God who has ordained it, is unchangeable and eternal. Further there is a "woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight.” Their wisdom is foolishness with God. And when this everlasting woe shall overtake them, oh what folly, what madness, will it seem unto themselves ! Once more there is woe denounced on those who are noted at once for their hard drinking and for their judging unjustly; men, who for a bribe acquit the guilty, and condemn the innocent; thus supplying the cost of their intemperance out of the wages of their corruption. These are not the same with the luxurious and careless livers spoken of before. Ver. 11, 12. But the end of both is woe. And it is hard to say which is the worst, that luxury which arises from forgetfulness of God, or that which is paid for by defrauding man.
No wonder that when practices like these prevailed, God counted his people for despisers of his law, and smote them as here stated, and threatened, as He here threatens, to smite them yet more severely. Rather we may marvel, that He forbears so long, when practices the very counterpart of these still affront his divine majesty, in the realms enlightened by his Gospel. When we think of what Christendom long has been, and still is, how largely Christians bave been addicted to all the sins here denounced, we may feel surprised, that no nations from far have been summoned by the voice of the Almighty, to overrun, and to overturn, and to destroy, as did they of old, with Babylon and Rome, with the people of Judah and Jerusalem. Oh that whilst God spares, his people may repent! Oh that whilst his dreadful judgments hang over our heads, we may all have grace to consider, that “ The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance !” 2 Pet. 3. 9.