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every sinful method to help ourselves, and seeking direction and help from the Lord of hosts. Thus will our strength be increased, our peace rendered sscure, and vie shall never be ashamed of our hofie.
2. God's holiness is the great terror of sinners. The thought is too weighty, and the expression too serious, for men that choose to go on in their sin_ ; for, if he be a holy Being, he must hate and punish those that are unholy. Hence they love those ministers that firofihtsy urnvith thing*, that deal in generals, and give their consciences no alarm. But those that show them the evil of sin, preach searching sermons, and reprove their vices, they dislike. Yet faithful ministers must and will tell sinners, whether they like it or not, that God is an holy Being, offiurer еуса than to behold iniquity; and that without /lolinese no man shall sre the Lord. It is better that they should be roused and displeased, than that they should be condemned for impenitence, and their ministers for unfaithfulness.
3. See what a blessing the means of grace are, and how highly they should be valued. God promises his people that though they should be afflicted, reduced to famine and straits, yet t Ley should have their teachers continued; and those who know the value of the word, its instructions, warnings, and counsels, will look upon this as a great favour, sufficient to sweeten the bread of adversity; though it is to be feared that many had rather be without teacher« s'.ncl means of grace, than lose their substance, or be in straits. It is a blessing to have faithful friends, to admonish us, a tender conscience, that will check ns when doing evil, and the spirit of God, to impress the warnings of the word and the convictions of conscience. We are all in danger of mistaking <jur way; of turning to the right hand or to the left ; of going into one error or another; fet us therefore reverence the word of God, esteem his faithful ministers in love, and attend to that friendly admonition, from whomsoever it comes, This is the tuay, walk ye in it.
4.-4Vith what joy should we celebrate onr spiritual deliverances t The Israelites went with gladness and songs to celebrate their rescue from the Assyrians; and have we not much greater reason, with gladness nf heart, to celebrate in the house of tlie Lord our deliverance from Satan, sin, and death ; those erremies of our souls and their eternal welfare? Let us rejoice in it, and give God the glory of it ; but rejuicevntA trembling, lest our enemies should gain the dominion over us, and drive us down to hell ; of which Tophet was bat a faint image, though our Lord chooses by it to describe the horrors of the infernal world, even that lake which burntth Ti-itlijirc and brimslutic i vihire (he \iorm didfi not, end the Jirt » not quenched.
CHAP. XXXI, XXXII.
This prophecy is a continuance of the former. The first part of the thirty second chapter seems to refer to the beginning of tlezckialfs reign ; from the ninth to the fifteenth verse, to the troubles in the middle of it; and the conclusion, to the prosperity of the latter end.
1 "\7fyTO to them that go down to Egypt for help; and
V V stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because [they are] many ; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the
2 Lord ! Yet he also [is] wise, and will bring evil, and will not callback his words: but will arise against the house of the evil doers, and against the help of them that work iniquity: a severe b ony; as if he had said, You boast of the wisdom of your polities, but God has some wisdom, and is as able to help as they, therefore to show your folly he will punish you for your evil doings, and the
2 Egyptians your helpers for their iniquity. Now the Egyptians [are] men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit; they have no more strength and swiftness than common creatures, and are liable to be frighted, wounded, and destroyed: when the Lord shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail
4 together; but God is a surer defence. For thus hath the Lord spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, [he] will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them : so shall the Lord of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thertof; all the noise of the Assyrian army is no more to him than a fiarcel of shepherds shouting against a lion, whom they dare not go near, he minds it not, neither
5 hoses his firey, nor carries it off with greater speed. As birds flying speedily to their nests to secure their young, or to drive away an enemy, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver [it; and] passing over he will preserve [it.] // is the same word as is used for passing over tie Israelites' houses in F.gypt, and has reference to their former deliverance; Jerusalem shall first be reformed, and then saved.
6 Turn ye unto [him from] whom the children of Israel have
7 deeply revolted. For in that day every man shall cast away his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which your own hands have made unto you [for] a sin ; though they were the work of your own hands, the materials valuable, and you had worshipped them, yet being the occasion of sin you shall cast them away.
9 Then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of a mighty man, who smites openly; and the sword, not of a mean mm, who smites secretly, shall devour him: but he shall flee from the sword of the angel, and his young men, or choice ones, shall be
9 discomfited. And he, that is, the king, shall pass over to his strong hold for fear, and his princes shall be afraid of the ensign,. which the angel shall wave over them as a marl- of God's care of Jerusalem, or rather of any fiorty of the Jews, however inconsiderable, saith the Lord, whose fire, or altar, [is] in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem; where God is darly worshipped, and from whence fire shall come forth to destroy his enemies.
1 Chap. XXXII. Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness,
2 and princes shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land; referring to the protection, repose, and happiness they should enjoy in Hezekiah's reign, after the troubles in the reign of
3 his predecessors. And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken; the prophets shall deliver their message clearly and faithfully, and the people at
4 tend to, understand, and obey it. The heart aho of the rash*, the hasty and thoughtless, shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly ; rude and illiterate people shall understand divine things, and speak readily
5 concerning them. The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said [to be] bountiful, or honourable; a good judgment shall be formed of men; worthy, valuable persons shall be promoted, and others discountenanced; the reason of this is given
6 afterward. For the vile person will speak villany, and his heart will work iniquity, to practise hypocrisy, and to utter error against the Lord, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail; a vile person will show his iniquity by his practice, his profaneness against God,
7 and his cruelty to man. The instruments also of the churl [are] evil: he deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right ; he will find some wicked men to be active in his evil designs, and by specious pre
8 tences destroy the needy when he has a good cause. But the Kberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand; he will aim to do all the good he can, and shall be established in prosperity and reputation.
9 Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech. The women are addressed, because grown extremely delicate and luxurious, and least
10 able to bear pubi'c calamities. Many days and years, or, as in the margin, many days above a year, or whilst the Assyrian invasion shall last, shall ye be troubled, ye careless women: for the
11 vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come. Tremble, ye women that are at ease; be troubltd, ye careless ones: strip
,ye of your ornaments, and make ye bare, and gird [sackcloth] ^upon [your] loins; or, as it may be rendered, upon your mourn
12 ing breasts. They shall lament for the teats,/or the loss of their cattle and milk, for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.
13 Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns [and] briars; yea, upon all the houses of joy [in] the joyous city ; upon the playhouses, gaming houses, and taverns; the fenced cities of Judah thall be destroyed and laid waste, and they shall have no heart to' follow their pleasures even in Jerusalem, while it is besieged: 1* Because the palaces shall be forsaken ; the multitude of the city shall be left, or, the city shall be forsaken of its multitude; the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks; they shall have no heart to repair them again,
15 at least it will be a long time before it can be done; Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, till God shall send his spiritual influence to reform us, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest ; there shall be good times after the Assyrians are destroyed; the wildernest shall become so fruitful, that what was before reckoned fruitful nhalt appear like a forest in comparison of it ,- or it may only denote a
16 great and wonderful change. Then judgment shall dwell in the wflderness,and righteousness rumain in the fruitful field; righteous judgment shall be executed among the rich and poor in the
17 city and country, in the cultivated lands and in the wilderness. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever; the increase of
18 righteousness shall promote peace, harmony, and all good. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure
19 dwellings, and in quiet resting places; When it shall hail, coming down on the forest ; and the city shall be low in a low place, or, utterly abased; there shall be no invasion from foreign enemies, but they shall be destroyed, and their cities laid low; or it
20 may signify, you shall be sheltered from the storm. Blessed [are] ye that sow beside all waters, and send forth [thither] the feet of the ox and the ass; you shall go out without fear of your enemies, to cultivate your land, and enjoy great plenty as well a* peace.
1. T TOW kind is God who invites sinners to return to him, X 1 and promises them protection and happiness! Those perverse people that trusted in Egypt and their own politics, and had affronted the only wise and powerful God, were invited to return, yea, though they had deeply revolted. Thus does God still address sinners, though their backslidings are great and aggravated, and long continued in ; yet if they turn to him, he will receive and bles3 them. Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die, O house of Israel?
2. See the happiness of a good prince, and a righteous government. This was designed to encourage Hezekiah in his reforming work, to teach. the people how to value and improve the blessings which they enjoyed under him, and to. give instruction to future kings and princes. Let us bless God that we have a king over us, who, we hope, will always rule in righteousness, be a covert to the persecuted and oppressed, advance the worthy and virtuous, discountenance and frown upon the wicked, and thus secure the reputation of religion, and promote the public peace. And let us pray that this may be more and more his character; and the blessing» here described, be the blessings of his reign.
3. It is a good sign, when men and things are called by their proper names ; when -vile ptrsan* are not called liberal, or gentlemen ; and churla, men of a selfish, surly disposition, stiled honourable. It is happy for a nation, when only good things are called by good names ; when virtue and virtuous men are esteemed, and held in reputation ; when men are valued, not by their rank anilities, but by their beneficence and usefulness. If difference of character was not so wretchedly confounded as it is in our common language, and there was greater openness and plainness of-~ discourse, it would tend greatly to the support of righteousness. Let us then emulate the character of a citizen of Zion, in whose tyee a vile per-' eon is contemned, and who honoureth them that fear the Lord.
4. Liberality is not the way to contempt and ruin, for the liberal man deviteth liberal things, and by them shall he stand. He contrives how he may be able to do good; he retrenches superfluities, and saves needless expenses, not that he may hoard up wealth, but that he may do the more good. He endeavours to be as extensively beneficent as possible, and by his charity he shall stand; his prosperity shall be increased by the blessing of heaven ; he shall be esteemed by men, have peace in his own mind, and obtain favour of the Lord; and he that does not think this an abundant equivalent for parting with his money, is a vile and churlish person.
5. We see the wisdom of being religious, -v. 17. The pious chalí enjoy peace, undisturbed by the crosses of the world. Religious exercises are pleasant; there is great satisfaction in reflecting upon them, and a gracious reward awaits them, even everlasting quietness and assurance. These inestimable blessings are only to be found in the way of righteousness; in that way therefore let us •walk, and never turn aside from it.
6. Let us rejoice in the government of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the happiness of his faithful subjects, ch. xxxii. v. 1, &c. Though this has a primary reference to Hczekiah, yet it has also a reference to Christ, and the blessings of his gospel, as is common in the prophets. He rcigne in righteoumets, being himself perfectly holy, and his administration inflexibly just. He is a shelter and refreshment to his people in every storm. By his gospel, knowledge, holiness, liberality, peace, and joy are promoted and diffused. Let us show, by the practice of these virtues, that we have received it» influence; and earnestly pray that the spirit may be pouted forth from on high upon us, our churches, and all the world; that the wilderness maij be a fruitful Jield, and the earth may become like the puradiäc of (Jod above.