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. All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, (yea,) all ye beasts 10 in the forest.* His watchmen (are] blind : they (are] all igno.
rant, they (are] all dumb dogs, they cannot bark 10 awaken the shepherds, or drive away the wolves ; they neither reprove nor
forewarn sinners ; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Il Yea, (they are] greedy dogs (which) can never have enough,
insatiable in their covetousness, and they [are) shepherds (that) cannot understand, that take no pains to understand : they all look to their own way, seek their own interest only, every one for
his gain, from his quarter, from his employment, department, or 12 place of abode. Come ye, (say they,] I will fetch wine, and we
will fill ourselves with strong drink ; and tomorrow shall be as this day, (and) much more abundant ; they not only run into excesses themselves, but tempt others to do 80 ; confident of the continuance of their prosperity, and deriding the threatenings of the prophets.
1. THE approach of God's salvation is a strong motive to be
1 holy. The gospel displayed the righteousness of God, or his method of justification, and was the glad tidings of salvation ; which the Jews were required to prepare themselves for, by doing justice and judgment. And now that salvation is made known unto us, it is our duty to do this ; to be honest and exact in our dealings, and upright in our whole deportment, out of gratitude to God for the salvation preached to us, and as we desire to partake of it ; especially as it is introductory to everlasting salvation. Let us there. fore awake out of sleep, and be active in God's service, since our sal. vation is nearer than when we believed.
2. We see the necessity of a serious and strict regard to the sabbath. Observe what stress is laid upon keeping it. It is indispensably required of all proselytes to the Jewish religion ; and of all who are joined to the christian church ; otherwise they can expect no comfort in God's service, nor will their prayers and praises be accepted. Let us then never waste any part of that holy time, nor neglect any part of the holy work of the day. But we must lay hold on this. It requires great resolution to do it, considering how many bad examples we have about us, and how many, eren of those who profess religion, act otherwise. This is the way to have the blessing of God upon our religious exercises, and upon our daily business and comforts.
3. How gracious is God in admitting strangers and Gentiles to the privileges of his people ! To bring those, who were once afar of; nigh, and take strangers and foreigners to be fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. Let us, who are the descend
• This verse beging a new prophecy, which is continued through some following chapters; describing the sins which introcluced their clamitics and ended in their captivity. The church is represented as God's fock, and their rinces and priescs as shepherds, to watch over, feed, and defend it ; but, because they vieglected this care, tlic will beasts at calkd won to devoit it. Their neglect is desciibid, .. !0,&c.
ants of strangers to the commonwealth of Israel, bless God for our christian privileges, and look upon them as sufficiently equivalent for the want or loss of children, or any earthly good. Let us improve them by a conscientious attendance upon God's house of prayer, and by loving and serving him who hath called us to the fellowship of the gospel : then we shall experience abundant satisfaction and joy in all our approaches to God.
4. How miserable is the state of a people whose shepherds deserve the character which is here given of those of Israel. When princes, magistrates, and ministers, are ignorani, idle, greedy, cow. ardly, and sottish, they not only do not answer the ends of their office, but are a reproach to it, corrupt others by their ill examples, and encourage wickedness by suffering it to go uppunished and un. reproved. Let us earnestly pray, that God would preserye our country and churches from such detestablemen ; and that he would engage all magistrates to be a terror to evil doers, and all ministers to watch for souls, as they that must give an account.
The prophet in this chalter goes on to reprove the Jews for their sire,
especially their idolatry; and begins with observing, how unafficied they were under the loss of good men, alluding perhaps to the death of Hezekiah or Josiah.
THE righteous perisheth, and no man layeth (it) to heart:
1 and merciful men (are) taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil (to come,) and that it 2 is a token that judgments are coming upon the land. He shall
enter into peace, or, go in peace : they shall rest in their beds, (each one) walking (in) his uprightness ; or, they shall rest in
their beds who have walked in uprightness. 3 But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the
adulterer and the whore ; ye pretend to be the seed of Abraham, 4 bul are idolaters, and the children of idolaters. Against whom
do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, [and] draw out the tongue? ridiculing God's servants, especially his prophets ; making wry mouths, and hanging out your congues
to insule them: (are) ye not children of transgression, a seed of 5 falsehood, or, a false seed ? Inflaming yourselves with idols un.
der every green tree, slaying the children in the vallies under 6 the clifts of the rocks? Among the smooth (stones) of the
stream (is) thy portion ; they, they (art] thy lot: even to them hast thou poured a drink offering, thou hast offered a meat of fering ; you have erected pillars to idols, and put them up in groves and by rivers, being quite given up to superstition and idolatry.
Should I receive comfort in these? in such a people, and from 7 such services as these ? Upon a lofty and high mountain hast
thou set thy bed; thou hasi built thy temples and allars for idols
upon high places : even thither wentest thou up to offer sacrifice. 8 Behind the doors also and the posts hast thou set up thy remem
brance, thy domestic idcls : for thou hast discovered (thyself to another] than me, and art gone up ; that is, leaving me, thou art gone up into an adulterous bed; thou hast enlarged thy bed, and made thee (a corenant) with them; thou lovedst their bed
where thou sawest it ; thou hast multiplied thine iduls and altars, 9 and taken pattern by the idols of others. And thou wentest to the
king with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers far off, and didst debase (thyself even) unto
hell; thou hasi sent presents to the kings of Assyria and Egype, in 10 the most mean ard abject manner. Thou art wearied in the
greatness of thy way ; (yet) saidst thou not, There is no hope ; courting one ally after another, yet wilt not own that it is in vain : thou hast found the life of thine hand ; therefore thou wast not grieved ; thou hast found out a way of preserving thy life for the
present, and therefore hast rested in that, without considering that 11 it will be upon the whole ruinous 10 thee. And of whom hast thou
been afraid or feared, that thou hast lied, and hast not remembered me, nor laid [it] to thy heart? why hast thou been afraid of injury from idols and idolatrous kings, and firoved fulse to me ? have not I held my peace even of old, forbearing to punish, and
treating thee with the utmost tenderness, and thou fearest me not ? 12 but hast shamefully abused my patience and goodness. I will de
clare thy righteousness, and thy works ; make it evidently appear, by my righteous judgments upon thee, that they are very different
from thy own conceit of them : for thev shall not profit thee, but 13 prove thy ruin. When thou criest, let thy companies, thy idols
or allies, deliver thee ; but the wind shall carry them all away ; vanity shall take them :) but he that putteth his trust in ine
shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain ; he 14 shall continue in the land, or return from captivity ; And shall
say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stum. bling block out of the way of my people ; all impediments shall
be removed, and a way be made for their safe and honourable re15 turn. For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth
eternity, whose name [is] Holy ; I dwell in the high and holy (place,] with him also (that is) of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the
contrite ones ; 10 afford them support and comfort in all their dif16 ficulties and afflictions. For I will not contend for ever, neither
will I be always wroth : for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls (which] I have made, lest they should grow impatient,
and their affliction should become insupportable, and I should only 17 destroy my creatures. For the iniquity of his covetousness was
I wroth, and smote him : I hid me, and was wroth, and he went 18 on frowardly in the way of his heart.* I have seen his ways,
• Covetousness was a prevailing sin in Israel. therefore thev were afflicter but few worse rather than letter by the correction. Yet God would have compassion upon thein, out ot regard to the few good men that were among theili.
and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners; that is, to those who mourn for
sin and the desolations of their land, which were the effects of it. 19 I create the fruit of the lips ; Peace, peace to shim that is) far
off, and (to him that is) near, saith the LORD ; and I will heal
him ; I will give occasion for joy and praise to the pious Jews in 20 every place, and heal all their grievances. But the wicked (are]
like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt ; their guilly conscience shall be a constant source of uneasiness, like the troubled sea, which can never rest, and which, though it may sometimes appear clear on the surface, halh a thick
sediment at the bottom, which is worked up when storms and tem. 21 pes's arise, and is all filth and confusion. (There is) no peace,
saith my God, to the wicked ; whatever external prosperity they enjoy, and though they may partake ever so largely of the temporal tlessings of my people.
1. IT is displeasing to God when the death of his servants is not
I laid to heart. They must die as well as others; sometimes he takes away many of them nearly together; and it is a bad omen to the public, a sign of God's displeasure, and that judgments are coming. The loss is very great to the public, as well as to their families. Not to lament it, and take warning by it, shows that men are insensible of the importance of religion, and unconcerned about it; that they are destitute of zeal for the glory of God, and the interest of the church. When God is exercising us with such scenes, let us be humble under his mighty hand ; lament the public loss; be more zealous to make it up; and earnestly pray, Help, Lord, for the godly man ceaseth.
2. When sinners contemn God, when they despise his laws, affront his messengers, or neglect his institutions, they forget what a great and awful Being he is; that he is possessed of almighty power and inflexible justice ; they think hii altogether such a one as Themselves. But they will find, that the Lord, whom they provoke to auger, is stronger than they; and that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
3. There is great reason to lament the obstinacy of sinners in an evil way. The conduct of these idolaters is very like the conduct of wicked men in general. They follow after happiness in this or the Oiher creature enjoyment; are wcaried in the greatness of their way ; are always disappointed, yet will not give out, they will try some other. They take unwearied pains to gratify their lusts ; and, because it gives them some present pleasure, they never think of the consequence, and that in the mean time they are dishonouring their rational natures, and debasing themselves even to hell. They had rather displease God than man, and be exposed to his vengeance, than receive and improve his mercies. But when trouble and death
come upon them, it will be in vain to cry to their companions, all will end in disappointment, anguish, and despair.
4. Let us adore the condescension of God, in his regard to humble and contrite souls. What a noble description is here of God ! as the eternal Being, who only hath immortality ; who is infinitely holy, and exalted above all creatures, and dwells in the glorious heavens. Yet he respects and loves the lowly ; visits them with his comforts and his favour ; condescends to their weaknesses, miti. gates their afflictions, and gives support under them. He will not contend for ever, for he knoweth their frame, he remembereth that they are but dust. Let us then cherish that humble and contrite spirit, which God will not despise.
5. The state of the wicked is a very deplorable one, and what we should all most carefully avoid. The wicked Jews, whether in Babylon or Jerusalem, are assured that they should have no comfort ; and the case is the same now with all the wicked. There is a principle of uneasiness and misery within ; a guilty conscience, turbulent passions, and fears of future wrath. They are often full of terror amidst their greatest mirth and gaiety ; and especially in times of affliction, and in the near views of death. May we then be solicitous to be in a state of peace with God and our own consciences. To repent, and return to him, is the way to obtain it. Let us mark the perfect man, and behold the uprighe; his conscience is easy, his hopes are lively, and his end will be peace.
This elegant chapter contains a severe reproof of the Jews on account
of their vices, an'l particularly of their hypocrisy in their fasts and ceremonial observances. It clearly points out their duty, and giver large promises of happiness and prosperity.
INRY aloud, O my prophet, spare not, lift up thy voice like
L a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and
the house of Jacob their sins, especiall:, in their religious wor2 ship. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God : they ask of me the ordinances of justice ; are desirous of knowing their duty ; they take delight in approach
ing to God; in coming to my temple and presenting their sacri. 3 fices. Wherefore have we fasted, and performed all other parts
of external worship, (say they,) and thou seest not? (wherefore] have we aflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, the reason is, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure,
and exact all your labour ; you find wherewith in please your 4 siltes, and yet are rigorous in burdening others. Behold, ye fast
for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness, that is, with a wick d fiel, handling the poor with severity: yo