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shall not fast as [ye do this] day, if ye would have God hear your prayers, and answer them from heaven, to make your voice to be
heard on high, either in clamorous devotions, or in quarrels 5 one with another. Is it such a fast that I have chosen ? thai I
will approve and accept of ? a day for a inan to afflict his soul, lo mortify himself by external abstinence, [is it] to bow down bis head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes (under
him ?] wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the 6 LORD? canst thou believe it will be 80 ? (Is) not this the fast * that I have chosen ? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo
the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke ? that is, cancel those obligations which have been e.xlorted in an unjust manner, and loosen those in some meas.
ure, where the rigour of justice would be destructive to the debtor : 7 [Is it] not to deal thy bread to the hungry, 10 send food to the
poor and indigent, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out, or afflicted, to thy house ? when thou seest the naked, that thou
cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh, 8 thy own kindred and countrymen ? Then shall thy light, or hafipiness, break forth as the morning, dart itself out as the sun through the clouds, and thine health shall spring forth speedily ; all thy wounds shall be quickly healed : and thy righteousness shall go before thee ; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rere
ward ; his providence shall secure thee from enenties before and 9 behind. Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer ; thou
shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I (am,] ready to help thee. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, all instruments
of oppression, the putting forth of the finger in contempt, and 10 speaking vanity, or falsehoud ; And [if] thou draw out thy soul,
thy affections and compassion, so that thy heart go along with thy gift, to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy
light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness [be] as the noon day : 11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul
in drought, and make fat thy bones ; fill thee with plenty, when others are in want : and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and
like a spring of water, whose waters fail not; which pours oui 12 its streams to all that want and come to receive them. And (they
that shall be) of thee, thy remnant or posterity, shall build the old waste places; the temple and city, that the enemies had destroy: ed: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations ; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach,: The restorer of paths to dwell in ; thou shalt build new towns, enlarge old ones; those parts of the country that are desolare, and the
paths overgrown, shall be restored, and fortified places built up 13 and repaired. If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath,
and (from) doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable ; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own
• This expression is taken from trampling under foot that which we disregard.
pleasure, or, making it a day of diversion, nor speaking [thine own] words, but the whole of thy discourse be suitable to the holie ness of the day : Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord, have true delight in the sabbath ; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, thou shalt make foreign cunquests,* and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father': for the mouth of the Lord hath spoke [it.]
1. I T is the duty of ministers to represent to their people their
I sin and danger. This is always proper to be done, for, without it, communities will probably be injured, and souls will certainly be lost : but it is especially so in times of public danger. Then God has particularly commanded it ; and they may hope to be heard with particular attention. They are neither to spare themselves nor their people ; but to show them their transgression and sin with great plainness, that all may understand it; with great seriousness and earnestness, and with tender compassion, as proceeding from real love to their souls. May all ministers have wisdom and courage to do so ; and all their people lend an obedient and attentive ear.
2. We here see how far hypocrites may go in external services. They may seek God daily, express some delight and satisfaction in attending his service; they may ask the way of duty, and take a pride in bringing their sacrifices to his temple ; yet indulge themselves in sensual pleasures, lay heavy burdens upon others, have strife and deceit among themselves, and smite with the fist of wickedness. All their pompous services are nothing but outward show, to make their voice to be heard on high, and can never be pleasing to that God who searches the heart, and requires truth in the inward parts. To all such God will say, Bring no more vain oblations ; your offerings and sacrifices are an abomination to me. It is not ceremonial observances, nor hanging the head like a bulrush, nor walking in sackcloth and ashes, but justice and charity that make our services acceptable to God; to remove heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free, break every yoke, deal bread to the hungry, clothe the naked, and utsit the sick and afflicted. Then shall we be happy in ourselves, acceptable to God, and he will surround us with his favour as with a shield: then shall our pravers be heard ; and when we call God shall answer, Here am I;, a present help in every time of need. Reformation and goodness is the way to comfort and happiness.
3. See the honour and happiness of God's faithful servants, Their souls are drawn out to God in devotion and love, and drawn out to the poor in compassion and tender affection ; and therefore God will pour down his choicest blessings upon them. Light shall
• This may signify, Thou shalt see thy country delivered froin tby enemies, and thou shalt go forth on horses or chariots to see the fortificacions once possessed by their Vol. V.
rise upon them in darkness ; God will guide them continually, satisfy their souls, while others are in want, make them as a watered garden, flourishing and fruitful. They and their families shall be blessed through many generations, and repair the breaches that sin and death have been making in the church and world. Happy they who are in such a case ! yea, thrice happy they whose God is the Lord.
4. We have here another powerful motive to regard the sabbath. If we remember the sabbath day 10 keep it holy, lay aside our business and pleasure, call it a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable, and honour him, not finding our own pleasures, nor speaking our own words ; then it is promised, thou shalt delight thyself in the Lord; enjoy the highest pleasures in communion with him and a sense of his favour. God will bring such to his holy mountain, make them joyful in his house of prayer, and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon his altar. Let this engage is to a strict observance of the sabbath, as one of the best preservatives of the power of religion in the soul, and as the most likely means to secure the divine blessing on ourselves, our families, and all our comforts. Hypocrites may keep solemn days of fasting ; but none but sincere and pious souls will constantly keep the sabbath from polluting it.
The Israelites having questioned God's power and goodness, because
he had not regarded their fastings and prayers, the prophet proceeds further to show them the cause of it.
I DEHOLD, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot
D save, his power is not weakened ; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear your prayers, those in particular which you
offer on your fast dlays : it is not from any inability or disinclina. 2 tion on his part, that you are not delivered ; But the true reason
of your present calamities is, that your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid [his) face,
that is, his favourable regard, from you, that he will not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with
iniquity ; your lips have spoken lies, your tonglie hath mutter
ed perverseness; you are guilty of murder, theft, and slander. 4 None calleth for justice, nor (any) pleadeth for truth : they
trust in vanity and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring
forth iniquity ; there is none 10 espouse the cause of justice and 5 truth. They hatch cockatrice eggs, or, the eggs of the basilisk,
and weave the spider's web, ( which is unprofitable) in order to deceive and entangle others : he that eateth of their eggs dieth, he that hath any dealing with them is sure to suffer by il, and that
which is crushed breaketh out into a viper ; instead of a fine 6 fowl there comes out a serpent which he dares not couch. Their
webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works : their works (are) works of iniquity,
and the act of violence [is in their hands; their designs shall 7 not come to perfection, nor do them any good. Their feet run to
evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood : their thoughts [are] thoughts of iniquity ; wasting and destruction [are) in
their paths; they are cager and intent upon all their schemes of 8 violence and mischief. The way of peace they know not, have not regarded, and [there is) no judgment, no respect to justice or
right, in their goings : they have made them crooked paths : 9 whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace. Therefore is
judgment far from us ; neither doth justice overtake us : we wait for light, but behold obscurity ; for brightness, [but] we walk in darkness ; we suffer oppression from our enemies abroad,
and from tyranny at home, and all our expectations are disappoint10 ed. We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope, or
wander, as if (we had] no eyes : we stumble at noon day as in the night ; [we are] in desolate places as dead (men ;] all our
schemes are confounded, our councils infatuated, and we are quile 11 sunk into despair. We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like
doves; the sorrow of some is noisy, and of others silent, or secret :
we look for judgment, but (there is) none ; for salvation, [but) 12 it is far off from us. For our transgressions are multiplied be
fore thee, and our sins testify against us : for our transgressions
[are) with us; and (as for) our iniquities, we know them ; our 13 own consciences give full evidence against us: In transgressing
and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from
the heart words of falsehood; we have been guilty of false judy14 ment and oppression against men, and of revolting from God. And
judgment is turned away backward, and justice standetli afar off ; as if afraid to enter among such a wicked crew, where she h 18 met with such opposition : for truth is fallen in the street, and there
is none io raise her up, and equity cannot enter into any of our 15 courts or public places. Yea, truth faileth in our commun con
versation ; and he [that] departeth from evil maketh himself a prey : and the LORD saw [it,) and it displeased him that (there
was) no judgment among his own people. 16 And he saw that (there was) no man, and wondered that
[there was no intercessor ; that there was none to aticmpt a reformation or even to intercede for the land : therefore his arm brought salvation unto him, to Israel ; and his righteousness, it sustained him ; his faithfulness carried him through all opposilion; that is, God detern:ined to show that it was his own good
ness in regard to his honour and fuithfulness, that led him to intere 17 pose. For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an hel
met of salvation upon his head; he appeared as a warrior, completely armed, against the Chaldeans and other enemies of his people ; and he put on the garments of vengeance to their eneo mies (for clothing, and was clad with zeal for his firofle as a
18 cloak. According to their] deeds, accordingly he will repay,
fury to his adversaries, recompense to his enemies ; to the isl
ands he will repay recompense; he will bring judgments on the - 19 country thai oppressed and injured his fieople. * So shall they fear
the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun ; many shall be brought to the knowledge and fear of God. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him ; if new enemies should come, like an inundation which threatens to bear down all before it, God by some secret powerful method will overcome them.
But this is only an earnest of what God would do for the Jerus hereafler ; a promise is added of their conversion to christianity in 20 the latter day, for 80 St. Paul expounds it, Rom. ii. 26. And the
Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord; Christ shall come for the
relief, deliverance, and salvation of all that will believe in and obey 21 him. As for me, this sis) my covenant with them, saith the
LORD; My spirit that [is] upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever; Christ shall not only have a transient triumph, or work out a temporal deliver. ance, but establish the Jews in God's covenant again, in which they shall continue to the end of the world ; teaching them by his word and spirit, and rendering them effectual on multitudes from one generation to another, even to the end of time : the Jews, when nationally converted, shall never revolt from God any more.
1. W E here see the source of national calamities, and what
V stops the current of divine favours; and that is, iniquity. God is still powerful, wise, and good ; able to restore our peace, to help us against our enemies, and to answer our prayers to their fullest extent. But sin separates between him and us; hinders our prayers from being acceptable to him, and intercepts his mercies when coming to us. We see how displeasing national degeneracy, and the want of piety, justice, and charity, are to him. That it is not only murder, theft, oppression, and false witness, that displease him ; but also lying, slander, muttering perverseness, and walking in any of the crooked ways of sin. God sees all this, and it displeases him. This occasions disappointment, confusion, and mourning. It is in vain to pray, unless we do our part to reform. Let every one of us in his private character, and as members of society, remember, that if we regard iniquity in our hearts the Lord will not hear us.
Bp. Lowth translates the verse thus; Meis mighty to recoin Donse ; he thitis mighty to recum pense will require wrath to his adversaries, recompense to his ensinies, 19 t'he vista: Cuts a TCCN pense will he reguite.