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in favor of the sense we have given of the prophecy, they do not satisfy this intractable age, which is always ready to embrace anything that seems likely to enervate the truths of religion. Sincerity requires us to acknowledge, that although our prophecy is clear of itself, yet there ariseth some obscurity from the order in which it is placed, and from its connection with the foregoing and following verses. On each we will endeavor to throw some light, and, for this purpose, we will go back, and analyse this, and the two preceding chapters.
When Isaiah delivered this prophecy, Ahaz reigned over the kingdom of Judah, and Pekah, the son of Remaliah, over that of Israel. You cannot be ignorant of the mutual jealousy of these two kingdoms. There is often more hatred between two parties whose religion is almost the same, than between those whose doctrines are in direct opposition. Each considers the other as near the truth: each is jealous lest the other should obtain it : and, it is more likely that they, who hold the essential truths of religion, should surpass others sooner than they, who raise the very foundations of it, the former are greater objects of envy than the latter. The kingdoms of Israel and Judah were often more envenomed against one another than against foreigners. This was the case in the reign of Ahaz, king of Judah. Pekah, king of Israel, to the shame of the ten tribes, discovered a disposition like that, which hath sometimes made the christian world blush; I mean, that a prince, who worshipped the true God, in order to destroy his brethren, made an alliance with an idolater. He allied himself to Rezin, a pagan prince, who reigned over that part of Syria, which constituted the kingdom of Damascus. The kingdom of Judah had often yielded to the forces of these kings, even when
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each had separately made war with it. Now they were united ; and intended jointly to fall on the Jews, and to overwhelm, rather than to besiege, Jerusalem. Accordingly, the consternation was so great in the holy city, that the scripture says, The heart of Ahaz was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind, Isa. vii. 2. Although the kingdom of Judah had too well deserved the punishments, which threatened it; and although a thousand outrages, with which the inhabitants had insulted the Majesty of heaven, seemed to guarantee their country to the enemy, yet God came to their assistance. He was touched, if not with the sincerity of their repentance, at least with the excess of their miseries. He commanded Isaiah to encourage their hopes. He even promised them, not only that all the designs of their enemies should be rendered abortive : but that the two confederate kingdoms within three score and five years, ver, 8. should be entirely destroyed. Moreover, he gave Ahaz the choice of a sign to convince himself of the truth of the promise. Ahaz was one of the most wicked kings, that ever sat on the throne of Judah: so that the scripture could give no worse character of this prince, nor describe his perseverance in sin more fully, than by saying that he was always Ahaz.” He refused to choose a sign, not because he felt one of those noble emotions, which makes a man submit to the testimony of God without any more proof of its truth than the testimony itself: but because he was inclined to infidelity and ingratitude, and, probably, because he trusted in his ally, the king of Assyria. Notwithstanding his refusal, God gave him signs, and informed him, that before the prophet's two children, one of whom was already boim, and the other would be born shortly, should arrive at years of discretion, the two confederate kings should retreat from Judea, and should be entirely destroyed. Of the first child, see what the seventh chapter of the Revelations of our prophet says. We are there told, that this son of the prophet was named Shearjashub, that is, the remnant shall return, ver. 3. a name expressive of the meaning of the sign, which declared that the Jews should return from their rebellions, and that God would return from his anger. The other child, then unborn, is mentioned in the eighth chapter, where it is said the prophetess bare a son, ver. 3. God commanded the prophet to take the first child, and to carry him to that pool, or piece of water, which was formed by the waters of Siloah, which supplied the stream known by the name of The fuller's conduit, 2 Kings xviii. 17. and which was at the foot of the easterm wall of Jerusalem. The prophet was ordered to produce the child in the presence of all the affrighted people, and to say to them, Before this child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest, shall be forsaken of both her kings, Isa. vii. 16. If this translation be retained, the land signifies the kingdom of Israel, and that of Syria, from which the enemy came, and which on account of their coming the Jews abhorred. I should rather render the words, the land, for which thout art afraid, and by the land understand Judea, which was then in a very dangerous state. But the prophecy began to be accomplished in both senses about a year after it was uttered. Tiglath Pileser, king of Assyria, not only drew off the forces of Rezin and Pekah, from the siege of Jeru
* 2 Chron. xxviii. 22. This is that king Ahaz, Eng. Version. C'estoit toujoursle roi Achaz, Fr. Idemeratorer 4chaz, Jun, Tremel.
salem, but he drave them also from their own countries. He first attacked Damascus. Rezin, quitted his intended conquest, and returned to defend his capital, where he was slain; and all his people where carried into captivity, 2 Kings xvi. 9. Tiglath Pileser then marched into the kingdom of Israel, and victory marched along with him at the head of his army, 1 Chron. v. 26. He subdued the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, all the inhabitants of Galilee, and the tribe of Nephthalim, and carried them captives beyond Euphrates; and sixty five years after, that is, sixty five years after the prediction of the total ruin of the kingdom of Israel by the prophet Amos, the prophecy was fulfilled by Salmanassar, chap. vii. 1 1. according to the language of our prophet, within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people, Isa. vii. 8. Thus was this prophecy accomplished, before this child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land, for which thou art afraid, shall be forsaken of both her kings.
God determined that the prophet's second child should also be a sign of the truth of the same promise. He assured Isaiah, that before the child, who should shortly be born, could learn to articulate the first sounds which children were taught to pronounce; before the child should have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus, and the spoil of Samaria, that is, of the kingdom of Israel, should be taken away by the king of Assyria, chap. viii. 4. This is the same promise confirmed by a second sign. God usually giveth more than one, when he confirmeth any very interesting prediction, as we see in the history of Pharaoh, and the patriarch Joseph, Gen. xii. 1, &c.
But, as all the mercies, that were bestowed on the Jews from the time of Abraham, were grounded on the covenant, which God had made with that patriarch, their common father and head ; or rather, as, since the fall, men could expect no favor of God but in virtue of the mediator of the church; it is generally to be observed in the prophecies, that when God gave them a promise, he directed their attention to this grand object. Either the idea of the covenant, or the idea of the mediator, was a seal, which God put to his promises, and a bar against the unbelief and distrust of his people. Every thing might be expected from a God, whose goodness was so infinite, as to prepare such a noble victim for the salvation of mankind. He, who would confine Satan in everlasting chains, and vanquish sin and death, was fully able to deliver his people from the incursions of Rezin, and Pekah, the son of Remaliah. To remove the present fears of the Jews, God reminds them of the wonders of his love, which he had promised to display in favor of his church in ages to come: and commands his prophet to say to them, “Ye trembling leaves of the wood, shaken with every wind, peace be to you! Ye timorous Jews, cease your fears let not the greatness of this temporal deliverance which I now promise you, excite your doubts | God hath favors incomparably greater in store for you, they shall be your guarantees for those, which ye are afraid to expect. Ye are in covenant with God. Ye have a right to expect those displays of his love in your favor, which are least credible. Remember the blessed seed, which he promised to your ancestors, Gen. xxii. 18. Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel, Isa. vii. 14. The spirit of prophecy, that animates me, enables me to penetrate