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world"; and it is in seasons of heavy dejection that He reveals himself to them: to him therefore we must look as the Saviour foretold in the text. I. In what respects He is “ a great Saviour”—
It is justly said by the Psalmist that “ his greatness is unsearchable"; nevertheless we may, not unprofitably, endeavour to illustrate it. He is great when considered in his own person
[He has a name above every name either on earth or in heaven. He is exalted to be a Prince that can give repentance and remission of sinsd. The voice of inspiration calls him, " the great God and our Savioure." He speaks of himself in terms of similar import'; nor can any thing be more glorious than the description given of him by the prophets. This Saviour, “though a man, thinks it not robbery to be equal with Godh. He is God manifest in the flesh',” even “God over all blessed for everk.")
He is also great in respect of the salvation he has wrought out for us
[Who can count the number of the sins from which he has delivered us? or estimate the misery from which he has redeemed us? --- Through our whole lives we have been heaping up treasures of wrath'. Yet is there no condemnation to us if we be interested in himm; besides, he has purchased for us an eternal inheritance in heaven. Who can estimate all that is there enjoyed ?-- - We must know all the glories of heaven and the horrors of hell, before we can fully appreciate the greatness of his salvation.]
But before we speak peace to ourselves, it becomes us to inquire, II. For whose deliverance he is sent
Great as his mercy is, it will not indiscriminately extend to all. They, for whose relief he comes, are oppressed” with the burthen of sin
[The generality, alas! are well contented with their bondage. If he should offer to deliver them, they would thrust him from them, as the Israelites of old did their saviour Moses". But there are some who mourn like the saints of oldo. They desire nothing so much as to be delivered from their corruptions For these Jesus came down from heaven, and died upon the cross Nor, though they be lawful captives, will he leave them in the hand of their enemies P.]
b This appears from the whole context, ver. 18—25.
e Tit. ü. 13. f Isai. xlv. 22. 8 Isai. ix. 6.
h Phil. ii. 6. i 1 Tim. iii. 16. k Rom. ix. 5.
i Rom. ï. 5. m Rom. viii. 1.
n Acts vii. 37, 39.
They at the same time “cry earnestly to the Lord” for deliverance
[There are some, it must be confessed, who are uneasy in their sins, yet do not with fervour and constancy implore his mercy
Such therefore, notwithstanding their uneasiness, obtain no help from him. His mercy is promised to those alone who seek it with importunity". But humble and believing suppliants shall never be rejected by him — They shall find him a great, compassionate, and all-sufficient Saviour ---] APPLICATION
[Are any among you unconcerned about their sins ? O! reflect on your state.
Would God have sent you such Saviour, if your condition had not required it? Or, will you take occasion from this stupendous grace, to live more securely in your sins? O! consider that your cries, however available now, will soon, if delayed, become of no effects .
Are others of you conflicting with sin and Satan? Lift up your heads with joy. However desperate your state may seem, your redemption draweth nigh, nor shall all the powers of darkness rescue you from your Redeemer's hands
Are there here any who have experienced deliverance ? Adore your Lord, and go on, "strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Only commit yourselves entirely to him, and you shall join in eternal Hallelujahs to God and to the Lamb.]
o Isai. vi. 5. Rom. vii. 24. p Isai. xlix. 24, 25. q Ps. xxxii. 3, 4. Hos. vii. 14. I Matt. vii. 7. Ezek. xxxvi. 37. s Luke xvi. 24, 25.
t John x. 28.
THE CONVERSION OF JEWS AND GENTILES. Isai. xix. 24, 25. In that day shall Israel be the third with
Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land; whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.
THERE is among God's ancient people an idea, that, so far from their nation being converted to Christianity, the whole world is, in due season, to be converted to Judaism. Nor do we wonder much that this error should obtain amongst them; since, in the prophetic writings, the change which is to be wrought upon the Gentiles is very generally described in terms taken from the Jewish Law. This is peculiarly observable in the passage before us, where Assyria and Egypt, the representatives of God's enemies in all ages, are spoken of as “raising an altar to the Lord," and “offering sacrifices thereon;” and “ making vows unto the Lord,” and “swearing by his name;” and as “ raising up to him a pillar,“ such as the Israelites formed after their passage through Jordan, “ to be a sign and a witness to the Lord” that they were his redeemed people, and that he alone was their God”. But a more thorough knowledge of their prophecies would convince them, that they are to enjoy a far different dispensation from that of Moses—a dispensation, not of works, but of grace; a dispensation, suited not to one small nation only, but to Egyptians and Assyrians, and to every people under heaven. In fact, though legal terms are here used to express the piety which shall characterize the latter day, it is of that day that my text speaks, when“ all the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ ;” and it is in this view that God expresses such satisfaction in it.
Let us consider, I. The event in which God expresses such delightIt is the conversion of the whole world to God
[Egypt and Assyria, and the whole Gentile world, when the Lord Jesus Christ shall be erected as a standard in the midst of them, shall flock to it from every quarter; and, together with the outcasts of Israel, and the dispersed of Judah, form one universal Church,“ one fold under one Shepherd . ” “ With Assyria and Egypt shall Israel be a third, even a blessing in the midst of the land.” Hitherto, “ the Israelites have only been a curse in the different countries over which they have been dispersedo:" for whilst they have been universally they will
a See these different expressions, ver. 18—21. • Compare ver. 23, 24. with xi. 10-12, 15, 16. c Zech. viii. 13.
execrated, they have been a snare to their enemies, and an occasion of greatly aggravating their guilt. But “in that day will they prove a blessing” to all amongst whom they dwell":
prove a blessing, as examples “ whose conversion will be as life from the dead to the whole world a:" they will prove a blessing, too, as instruments, who, being themselves converted, “will declare God's glory amongst the Gentiles," and, like the priests of old, present thousands and millions of them as free-will offerings upon God's altar. We all know of what use the showers are which descend upon the face of the earth, wheresoever God is pleased to send them: and precisely that office are the Jews, now dispersed over the earth, in due season destined to perform'. The whole process is well described by the Prophet Zechariah, who says, that “ many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of Hosts in Jerusalem, every one of them taking hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you; for we have heard that God is with you."] In this event God will greatly rejoice
[To this effect he has said, " I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy: and I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my peopleh.” The expressions in my text are peculiarly striking to this effect: “ The Lord of Hosts shall bless all his converts, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance." All will be regarded by him with peculiar affection, whilst yet his people Israel shall possess their original and distinctive honour, as " his peculiar people,” the lot of his inheritance!.” But when God pronounces these "blessed,” he makes them so: he makes them blessed by the richest communications of
mercy, and his peace: and in due season he will consummate their blessedness in the fullest possible enjoyment of his presence and glory. Such is the blessedness prepared for all who believe in Christ, whatever may have been their former state. We may have been as hostile to Christ as the superstitious Jews, or as far from him as the idolatrous Gentiles; and yet, if we embrace and obey the Gospel, this blessedness shall be ours.]
And is this event now fast approaching ? Let us then consider, II. The effect which the prospect of it should produce
on usSurely we should not be insensible to it. No: it should prevail, d Rom. xi. 12, 15. e Isai. lxvi. 19, 20, 21.
f Mic. v. 7. & Zech. viii. 20—23. h Isai. lxv. 18, 19. i Deut. xxxii. 9. k Zech. viii. 6.
1. To enlarge our philanthropy
[We are, for the most part, very narrow and contracted in our regards for our fellow men. Rarely do we feel much for any, except our own immediate neighbours, or those in whose welfare we have some personal interest. And even then, it is for their temporal, rather than their spiritual welfare that we are chiefly concerned. But we ought to extend our regards to the whole family of man dispersed throughout the earth; and, above all, to feel for their eternal interests. Behold how Jehovah expresses himself in our text. One would have thought that the great oppressors of his people, Egypt and Assyria, might have been excepted from his benevolent regards; but we find he contemplates their return to him with the utmost complacency and delight. Thus, then, should it be with you. You should be like-minded with God in this holy feeling. The whole world, whether Jews or Gentiles, should be objects of your deepest solicitude. To see them ignorant of God and his Christ, should fill you with pain : and to have a prospect of their conversion, should excite in you the liveliest joy. Let me not be mistaken: I would not have your neighbours overlooked, either in relation to their temporal or their eternal interests : but I would have your hearts expanded, even as God's is, to embrace the whole family of man; and, as the conversion of their souls to God is, beyond all comparison, the most important object, I would have that to occupy the chief place in your minds.] 2. To raise our expectations
[We think it almost impossible to enlighten the minds of the idolatrous Gentiles; and we quite ridicule the idea of converting the bigoted and superstitious Jews. But the work shall be done: for the prophet says, “If this be marvellous in your eyes, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the Lord of Hostsk.” Beloved Brethren, not only is this event certain, but it is also near. Between two and three thousand years ago, the Prophet Isaiah had such clear views of it, that he saw it through this long vista, exhibited as it were before his eyes: “Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee. As I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all as with an ornament, and bind them on thee as a bride doth .... Thou shalt say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone : these, where had they been'?" “Who are these that fly as doves to their windows m?” Now,
| Isai. xlix. 18, 21.
m Isai. Ix. 8.