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for the destruction of their temple, and longing to see it restored. See ch. 63. 18. 64. 11. And in after ages they proved reluctant to believe that any man could become a member of God's church, without worshipping at Jerusalem and fulfilling all the ordinances of the Law. Here therefore God solemnly proclaims, that heaven is his throne, and the earth his footstool, signifies that He needs no temple made with hands, teaches that it is by contrition of heart and soul that He delights to be worshipped, and denounces as abominable will worship all attempt to revive under the new dispensation the sacrifices and ceremonies of the Old Testament. See Heb. 9. 10. A salutary warning, not only to Jews, but to Gentile Christians also; numbers of whom in all ages have been prone to superstitious usages, yea, whole churches, and such as seemed to be most Catholic, regarding their places of worship as absolutely sacred, their ministers as sacrificing priests, their communion of the Lord's Supper as a propitiatory sacrifice, and at the same time burning incense in the course of their divine services. Let us be strictly on our guard against delusions such as these. And whilst we pay all due respect to every thing connected with the worship of God in the congregation, let us bear in mind, that according to God's own word, He “is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” John 4. 24.
At the beginning of the Gospel there were among the converts many who were zealous for the Law, whose mistaken zeal is largely reproved by St. Paul in his Epistles, and is here long before denounced by Isaiah. In order to glorify God, as they conceived, they would have cast out their brethren from the church. But soon did the Lord interpose for the comfort of his people. From the city and from the temple of Jerusalem arose a sound which signified the vengeance which He was taking on his enemies, and which for ever silenced all scruples of this kind on the part of his mistaken friends. The ceremonial law was abrogated, the holy place of its celebration being utterly profaned. And a way was thereby opened for the comprehension of all nations in the one holy Catholic church of the Gospel. How blest the mother of a family so flourishing! Instead of mourning for her pains, how much more fitly may we rejoice in her fruitfulness, and thank God for her, and for ourselves, that we and all mankind have access to the same sources of consolation, and are privileged to take delight in the same abundance of glory. The peace of Jerusalem, and the glory of the Gentiles is now all one. One church is the mother of all. One God is the Father of al). It is so now. It has been so ever since the unbelieving Jews were rejected. How much more will it be so when they shall be again received! See Rom. 11. 15.
Judgments awaiting sinners. The piety of God's saints. 15 For, behold, the Lord will 20 And they shall bring all come with fire, and with his your brethren for an offering chariots like a whirlwind, to unto the LORD out of all nations render his anger with fury, and upon horses, and in chariots, his rebuke with flames of fire. and in litters, and upon mules,
16 For by fire and by bis sword and upon swift beasts, to my will the Lord plead with all holy mountain Jerusalem, saith flesh: and the slain of the the LORD, as the children of Lord shall be many.
Israel bring an offering in a 17 They that sanctify them- clean vessel into the house of selves, and purify themselves the Lord. in the gardens behind one tree 21 And I will also take of them in the midst, eating swine's for priests and for Levites, saith flesh, and the abomination, and the Lord. the mouse, shall be consumed 22 For as the new heavens and together, saith the Lord. the new earth, which I will
18 For I know their works and make, shall remain before me, their thoughts: it shall come, saith the Lord, so shall your that I will gather all nations and seed and your name remain. tongues; and they shall come, 23 And it shall come to pass, that and see my glory.
from one new moon to another, 19 And I will set a sign among and from one sabbath to another, them, and I will send those shall all flesh come to worship that escape of them unto the before me, saith the LORD. nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and 24 And they shall go forth, Lud, that draw the bow, to and look upon the carcases of Tubal, and Javan, to the isles the men that have transgressed afar off, that have not heard my against me: for their worm fame, neither have seen my shall not die, neither shall their glory; and they shall declare fire be quenched; and they shall my glory among the Gentiles.
be an abhorring unto all flesh.
LECTURE 1182. The certainty of things promised or threatened by God. In concluding the prophecies of Isaiah we close one of the most striking of all the books of Holy Scripture. Nothing indeed can surpass the sublime but yet tender and affectionate style, in which this prophet continually asserts the heavenly doctrines of the unity, greatness, holiness, and goodness of Almighty God, and in which he expostulates with the sinful people of the Lord by reason of their manifold transgressions. Nothing can exceed the plainness of speech, with which he sets forth the great duties of justice, truth, temperance, and charity, as binding upon all men; whilst at the same time he points out the true source of strength, whereby we may serve and please God, as well as the
only means of atonement and reconciliation when by our sins we have displeased Him.
In doing this Isaiah is led to dwell at large on the sins and chastisements of his own generation, and on those of the generations immediately succeeding. But he enters no less fully into the particulars of what would happen a century or two after his time; things of which there could not be the slightest probability, humanly speaking, at the period of his writing. Nay he also enters minutely into the particulars of the history of our blessed Lord, and plainly foretels his suffering for sin, his exaltation in glory, the growth of the Gospel, the rejection of the Jews, and the comprehensive calling of the Gentiles. All these things he unfolds in a marvellous connexion, in a tissue of events which nothing but divine prescience could foresee, nothing but divine power bring to pass. The thousands of years which have intervened since these prophecies were written have thrown continually fresh light on their fulfilment, without producing one single event inconsistent with their true scope and tenour. And the time which the world has yet to last will doubtless do the like. So that all generations from the study of this book may learn these great lessons, namely, that it is not man, nor fate, nor chance, but a great and wise and good Spirit that governs the world; and that He governs throughout all time, even to all eternity, on the same principles, and for the same ends, to promote righteousness, to punish wickedness, and to magnify the riches of his grace in the redemption of sinners by his Son.
These are the great topics which pervade this wondrous book. These are the instructive lessons which are here taught us most impressively as this book concludes. At the commencement of
there appears to be an allusion to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. See Matt. 22. 1—7. And we may probably also do right to interpret these words of some terrible judgments yet to come upon the earth, and referred to in corresponding terms in the book of the Revelation of St. John 16. 14—21. The chief tribes of infidels, those who at that period shall most obstinately hold out against the truth, whatever be the form of their unbelief or their apostasy, shall be consumed in that terrible destruction. God will prove, that though they suppose He sees them not, yet does He know their works, yea, and also their thoughts; and He will make an example of them before all nations. But even among these hardened wicked ones He will lift the ensign of the cross.
He will do his marvellous works of grace in converting some among them, and sending them to work for the conversion of others. Those nations in particular, which once were Christians, but which at present are overrun by unbelievers, shall be converted anew by their means, and shall contribute to bring converts to Jerusalem, to gain members for the Christian church, shall delight to offer Christian worship, and
to supply Christian ministers, to be taken without distinction of nation or of tribe, and made serviceable, according to Christ's ordinance, in the propagation of the Gospel. Thus in that new dispensation the spiritual seed of Israel never will fail. They will endure before God, even as the new heavens and the new earth which He has undertaken to make. And so also will the wicked abide for a memorial of the justice of God, and of his abhorrence of iniquity. He will be glorified at once in the piety of saints, and in the perpetual sufferings of sinners.
And these things will surely come to pass. Yes, prophecy already to a great extent fulfilled leaves us no room to doubt the certainty of that which has been unfulfilled hitherto. The present state of things must cease to be. This world of sense must fade away. This order of nature, as we call it, must give place to a new creation. And God, the great, the good, the holy Lord God Almighty, will then be seen ruling in the universe, and will be felt to be ever present unto all his creatures. Do we tremble at the thought of his appearing? Nay, let us rather hope to arise with joy when He appears. Let us long to see Him face to face. Let us be assured that it is for this that He has instructed us, and warned us, by his prophets, his apostles, and his Son, that we may be saved. This is his gracious will in our behalf, that we should be saved in Christ Jesus. On this let us rely. For this let us now praise his holy name. For this let us trust that we shall be employed in praising Him to all eternity.
God be praised, for giving his own Son, to die for us men, and for our salvation! God be praised for revealing unto man these glad tidings of great joy, from the one end of his word unto the other! God grant that we, through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord, may attain unto the joy of magnifying his holy name in heaven for evermore!
The period in which Jeremiah prophesied. i The words of Jeremiah the his reign. son of Hilkiah, of the priests 3 It came also in the days of that were in Anathoth in the land Jehoiakim the son of Josiah of Benjamin:
king of Judah, unto the end of 2 To whom the word of the the eleventh year of Zedekiah LORD came in the days of Jo- the son of Josiah king of Judah, siah the son of Amon king of unto the carrying away of JeruJudah, in the thirteenth year of salem captive in the fifth month.
LECTURE 1183. God's tenderness of affection manifested in this prophet. The prophecies of Jeremiah are neither so frequently read, nor so generally well known, as those of the preceding prophet Isaiah. This has arisen partly from the singularly sublime style in which the prophecies of Isaiah are expressed; and partly from the circumstance, that Isaiah treats of subjects more familiar to most of us, and more readily applied to our present hopes and fears, our duties, dangers, and deliverances, than those which are chiefly dwelt upon by Jeremiah. But we must not think that reasons such as these will excuse us in neglecting to study with all our diligence each successive portion of the word of God. We must not doubt that the book before us will be profitable, and largely profitable, if duly studied, for our instruction in righteousness. If we find not here such express revelations of the chief doctrines of the Gospel, as in the preceding prophet, still we shall find abundant testimony of Christ, to convince us that He, and his salvation, were objects foremost in the view of all those holy men of old, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. If we are not struck with the same matchless energy and solemnity of language, we shall remark a tenderness of compassionate affection which may be said to be characteristic of Jeremiah’s writings, as sublimity is of Isaiah's. And how apt to affect our hearts for good is this sympathy manifested by the prophet for those against whom He is commissioned from on high to denounce calamity and woe! How suitable is this quality of compassion, in the prophet's character, to remind us of those divine attributes which appeal most strongly to our love, the mercy and the love of God ! Surely even when God threatens us, still He pities us. Even when He dooms sinners to captivity and death, still He would fain have them repent and be saved. May we, moved by the many proofs and expressions of his mercifulness, given us in his word, turn, whilst we yet have time, with tears of penitence towards Him, who, according to the tenour of his word spoken by this his servant, appeals to us with tears of love! See
Ch. 9. 1.