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they had regained their cities, and made reprisals on the provinces of the Jewish monarch". At the accession of Hezekiah to the throne of Judah, they hoped to make yet further inroads on the Jewish territory: and the Prophet Isaiah was inspired to foretell, that they should not only fail in their attempts, but be utterly vanquished by him, whom they so fondly thought to subdue and subjugate.
Read the passage in this view, and the whole address will appear extremely spirited and beautiful. “ Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken;” (i.e. because thou hast triumphed over Uzziah's son:) “ for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, or adder; and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.” (Uzziah bit thee only as a common serpent: but his grandson Hezekiah shall inflict a wound as fatal as an adder; and prove as irresistible as a fiery flying serpent.) “ And the first-born of the poor (Jews, whom thou hast so oppressed) shall feed, and the needy (whom thou hast so terrified) shall lie down in safety: whilst thy root shall be destroyed by famine, and thy remnant with the sword.” (Instead then of rejoicing, “ Howl, O gate; cry, O city; thou whole Palestina art dissolved: for there shall come from the north (Judea) a smoke (and dust of an army in full march :) and none shall be alone (or decline serving in this army) at the appointed time.” (In the mean time,) “ what shall one then answer the messengers of the nation,” (when they come, full of alarm and terror', announcing thy preparations to invade the land of Judah!) Answer, “ that the Lord hath founded Zion : and the poor of his people shall trust in it;” and that no weapon ever formed against them shall prosper.
The words thus explained we shall consider as proclaiming,
6 2 Chron. xxvii. 18.
c The general interpretation of their being foreign ambassadors sent to congratulate Hezekiah, enervates the whole force of the passage, and is in opposition to the text itself, which speaks of them as the messengers of the nation, and not of foreign nations.
I. An unquestionable fact-
[He has founded it in his eternal counsels ; and he has founded it also in his covenant engagements. He determined from all eternity that he would have a Church and People from amongst the sinners of mankind; and that he would get glory to himself from the introduction of sin into this lower world. For this end he entered into covenant with his co-equal, coeternal Son; and engaged, that if he would become a man, and “make his own soul an offering for sin,” he should have from amongst our fallen race, a people, who should be his purchased possession, and should for ever shew forth his praised. This covenant being made, he gave to his Son "a multitude, whom no man can number, out of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues ;” and agreed to accomplish in them all his good pleasure, and to bring them in due season to the full possession of that glory, which by their transgressions they had lost. To this the Lord Jesus Christ repeatedly refers, declaring, that he was invested with “power to give eternal life to as many as the Father had given hime:" and under this character the Lord Jesus Christ prayed for them', and committed them into the Father's hands to be kept for him, and declared his assured expectation of having them, in due time, as the trophies of his grace, and the partners of his gloryh.]
poor of his people also shall trust in it" [God never leaves his chosen people to trust in themselves : he never has done it: he never will do it. From the beginning he has made them to feel their need of a Saviour; and has caused them to build on “ that foundation which he has laid in Zion." The institution of sacrifices even in Paradise (for we doubt not but that the beasts, with the skins of which our first parents were clothed by God himself, had been offered in sacrifice to God) taught them from the beginning to rely, not on themselves, but on a sacrifice which should in due time be offered: and his grace has invariably wrought to the production of this one effect, according to that declaration of the prophet, “ Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation; and he that believeth shall not make haste, or, as St. Paul interprets it, shall not be ashamedi."]
But in the text there is also contained, II. An instructive lesson
It teaches us, d Isai. liii. 10. e John xvii. 2. f John xvü.9. & John xvii. 11. h John xvii. 24. i Isai. xviii. 16. with Rom. ix. 33.
1. That our trust must be on God alone
[To none can we look, but to our Covenant God and Saviour. There is no other foundation, but that which God has laidk; nor any other name whereby a human being can be saved, but the name of Jesus Christ'. Hence his invitation, “ Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earthm." Hence also that solemn declaration, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by men.” To confide in the creature, is to entail only a curse upon ourselves'. Whence was it that the Jews, with all their earnestness in following after righteousness, could never attain it? It was, because they would
rely upon themselves, and not seek it by a simple exercise of faith on the Lord Jesus Christ P. So it will be with us also, if our reliance be not altogether on the providence and grace of God: for what God said to his people respecting the Egyptians, he says to us ; " The creature shall help in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength is to sit still."]
2. That confidence in him shall never be disappointed
[When it is said in our text, “The poor of his people shall trust in it,” the meaning evidently is, that by so doing they shall be secure. And certain it is, that “the name of the Lord is a strong tower; and that the righteous runneth to it and is safe.” Find in the whole annals of the world one person who, when trusting in God, was disappointed of his hope. Did Manasseh rely on the mercy of God? He, even he, obtained pardon. Did Asa, or Jehoshaphat, or Hezekiah, rely on the power of God? No enemy could withstand them. Did Abraham believe in the truth and faithfulness of God? The long-expected seed was given to him, that became “as the stars of heaven for number, and as the sands upon the sea-shore innumerable.” Thus shall every one be blessed who putteth his trust in God: “ he shall be firm, and immoveable as Mount Zion itself, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever"." The question, “Who ever put his trust in God and was confounded?” never has been, and never can be answered, but in a way of universal negation.]
The text should be yet further viewed as,
It is unspeakably consoling,
| Acts iv. 12. m Isai. xlv. 22. n John xiv. 6.
o Jer. xvii. 5. p Rom. ix. 30-32. Isai. xxx. 7,
r Ps. cxxv, J.
[Many are the enemies of the Church at this day, as well as in former times : nor were the Philistines half so envious at the prosperity of Zion, as millions of Christians, so called, are at this very hour. But when the Church was in its infancy, and had all the power and policy both of Jews and Gentiles combined against it, it stood as a rock, that defies all the efforts of the tempestuous ocean. The waves that menace its existence are dashed in pieces at its feet. So shall it still be to the end of time: whatever confederacies are formed against the Church shall come to nought: for “it is founded on a rock; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."]
2. In reference to the poorest and weakest of its members [The chief of its members are characterized
a poor and afflicted people, who trust in the name of the Lord : and their conscious weakness often proves to them a source of great discouragement. But how consoling is the truth, that they are pre-eminently destined to receive the benefits of Christ's heavenly mission', and to be the objects of his peculiar care !! It is under the very character of persons poor and weak and destitute, that they are designated as triumphing over all their enemies ; ( the foot shall tread them down, even the feet of the poor, and the steps of the needy* :") and their weakness is described as carried to the utmost extent than can be imagined, even as resembling that of persons wounded, and captive, and dead : and yet in that very state is success insured to them; for “though lame, they shall take the prey';”.
though captives, they shall take those captive whose captives they were, and shall rule over their oppressors ? ;” and though slain, they shall rise and overcome, and their enemies shall fall under the slaina.” Hence the weakest amongst them all, “ knowing in whom he has believed,” may adopt the triumphant language of the prophet, “ The Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded : therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. He is near that justifieth me: who will contend with me? Let us stand together: who is mine adversary ? let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord God will help me: who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as doth a garment; the moth shall eat them up b."] APPLICATION
[Look then, Brethren, to the Scriptures, to see what God has done in former ages
See what instruction is to be Zeph. iii. 12.
Isai. Ixi. 1-3. u Isai. xl. 11. * Isai. xxvi. 6. v Isai. xxxüi. 23. z Isai. xiv. 2. a Isai. x, 4.
b Isai. 1. 7-9.
gathered from those records, for your own conduct And know, that God is as ready to perfect his own strength in your weakness," as he has been in any instance from the foundation of the world --- Only realize the thought of his universal agency in the government of the world, and
of his watchful care over the interests of his peculiar people ; and then “you need not fear, though the earth be moved, and the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea." See David's composure amidst such troubles as drove his friends to despair: “In the Lord,” says he, "put I my trust: how say ye then to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain; for, lo! the wicked bend their bow; they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart; and, if the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do ?” What? “The Lord is in his holy temple: the Lord's throne is in heaven :" and that is ample security for med. Such composure may you also, even the least and weakest of you, enjoy, if you confide in God : for “there is no wisdom nor counsel against the Lord;” but “his counsel shall stand; and he will do all his will?."] c Ps. xlvi. 2.
d Ps. xi. 1-4. e Prov. xxi. 30.
f Isai. xlvi. 10.
CHRIST A GREAT SAVIOUR.
Isai. xix. 20. They shall cry unto the Lord because of the
oppressors, and He shall send them a Saviour, and a great One, and he shall deliver them.
GOD usually vouchsafes his mercies when we are reduced to the greatest straits. This is manifest in his most remarkable dispensations of providence and of grace. In the greatest extremity God promised to send a deliverer to Egypta. But there is a further reference to Christ as the Saviour of the Gentile
a In this view it seems applicable to the angel who slew 185,000 of Sennacherib's army : for, though that deliverance was more immediately vouchsafed to the Jews under Hezekiah, yet in its consequences it extended to Egypt. Sennacherib had before conquered and ravaged Egypt; and it was most probable that if he had taken Jerusalem he would have again proceeded thither with his victorious army, and reduced that already desolated kingdom to the lowest ebb of misery. But perhaps there may be a further reference to some other deliverers.