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God would soon take vengeance on them for all these sins; and that the Jews should be deprived of all the privileges they enjoyed.
Reflections after reading the chapter.
I. When we read the prophet's reproaches of the Jews for their ingratitude, we are led to consider, that God, in admitting us into the bosom of his church, and adopting us for his children, has conferred greater favours on us than on his ancient people: and therefore we shall be infinitely more guilty, and expose ourselves to more heavy chastisements, if we ungratefully rebel against him. II. God declares in this chapter, that it is in vain to worship him in public, and attend on him in the religious assemblies, and practise the most solemn acts of devotion, whilst we live in sin, and that God abhors such worship. III. This chapter teaches us, that the only way to avoid the wrath of God, is to purify our hearts by repentance, to cease from doing evil, and learn to do well; that God is always ready graciously to receive sinners that are converted.; Dut that the disobedient and hardened shall perish in their impenitency. IV. It must be observed, that Isaiah particularly complained of the depravity of the judges and magistrates of Jerusalem, saying, that they were companions of thieves, that they loved gifts, and followed after rewards. These censures and the threatenings denounced against wicked magistrates, prove, that sins committed by persons of a public character are usually attended with a general corruption, and with the most severe judgments of God: and that, on the contrary, it is a great blessing on cities and states, when God sets over them just and upright rulers.
The prophet foretells in this chapter, I. That all nations should be called to the knowledge and service of the true God. II. That God would reject the Jews, because of their idolatry and other sins.
III. That he would destroy, by his almighty power, those that set themselves against him: and that he would abolish idolatry.
This chapter contains three prophecies; the first of which foretold the calling of the Gentiles; the second the rejection of the Jews; and the third the destruction of the wicked, who are the enemies of Gold. We see the completion of these prophecies. The several nations of the world have been called to the knowledge of the true God by the Gospel, and are come into the church, and made partakers of the covenant of God; the Jews have been rejected, by reason of their sins, and their incredulity; and God lias in all times confounded the pride and power of the ungodly, and the enemies of his kingdom. The use then we should make of reading this chapter is, to be very sensible of the great advantage we enjoy in being in the number ofthose whom God has admitted into his church; and to express our gratitude by a sincere endeavour to know his will, by serving him with purity and zeal, and by walking in his way. We should improve, by the example of the Jews, and by the judgments which are denounced against those who oppose God, lest bv our rebellion we expose ourselves to those dreadful judgments, which he will pour upon the wicked, and on all those who do not reverence his power.
Isaiah foretells the utter destruction of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and of the kingdom of Judah; which, he says, would come upon them for their sins; and chiefly for the injustice which the rulers of the people openly committed, and the luxury and immodesty of the women of Jerusalem.
The prophet foretells in this chapter, that in those troublesome times the Jewish nation should be extremely diminished; but that God would restore the remnant of that people, sanctify, and protect them. Reflections on chapters iii. and iv.
These chapters teach us, I. That God withdraws his protection from nations that provoke him by their sins; and that he punishes them, particularly, by setting over them rulers that know not how to govern well. II. That when men, instead of concealing their sins, proclaim them openly; and, instead of being ashamed of them, commit them without reserve, there is reason to believe the judgments of God are not far off. III. That among the sins which provoke the wrath of God, he is, above all, offended with the injustice committed by persons of a public character, and with luxury and pride. The description is very remarkable which Isaiah here gives of the luxury and vanity of the maidens and women of Jerusalem, their various ornaments, their wanton attire, their immodesty, their pride, their soft and dissolute lives. We here see, that idleness and luxury were introduced into Jerusalem, with other sins; and the prophet expressly declares that this would be one cause of the ruin of the Jews, and of the miseries that were going to fall upon them. This leaves no room to doubt but luxury is very odious in the sight of God, and still more odious in Christians than in the Jews, and that when immodesty, idleness, vanity, effeminacy, and love of pleasures generally prevail, they are a sure mark of great corruption, and forerunners of the divine judgments. Lastly, God gives here tokens of his goodness, in promising that after the Jews had been chastised, he would restore and sanctify them. This he did, when he delivered them from their enemies, who were shortly to attack them; when he recovered them from the Babylonish captivity;
and chiefly, by sending his Son into the world, to bless them, and to redeem them from their sins.
I. Isaiah represents, by the similitude of a well cultivated but barren vine, the care that God had taken of the Jews, the ingratitude of that people, and the judgments that were shortly to fall upon them. II. He particularizes the chief sins of that nation, which were covetousness, injustice, drunkenness, love of pleasures, contempt of God's judgments, profaneness, and the iniquity of judges in taking bribes to corrupt them. III. The prophet foretells, that the Jews should be punished for all these sins, and that distant nations, as the Assyrians and Chaldeans, should come against Jerusalem.
Reflections. The complaints which God makes of the ingratitude and disobedience of the Jews, which he represents by the similitude of a barren vine, plainly teach us, that God does all that is necessary for the good of men; that he makes use of the most proper means to engage them to love and fear him; that therefore he is not the author of their ruin; and that if they perish, it is wholly owing to their own fault. This comparison teaches us, likewise, that when men abuse the methods that God takes to render men happy, he deprives them of them, and forsakes them. Besides this, it appears from this chapter, that there are some sins which in a particular manner expose men to the divine vengeance; as covetousness, and an immoderate desire of riches; drunkenness, the love of mirth, feastings, and pleasures; security, and a contempt of the divine threatenings, impious opinions and discourses, and the injustice committed by judges and magistrates. The Jews were delivered into the hands of the Chaldeans for these sins; and we may see by their example, that when men give themselves up to work wickedness, they are infallibly exposed to God's wrath.
The prophet relates a vision, in which God appeared to him in his glory, and commanded him to speak to the Jews in his name, and to declare to them, that since their obstinacy was past remedy, their cities should be laid waste; but that nevertheless their ruin should not be past recovery.
There are two things in this chapter which chiefly demand our serious attention. I. The magnificent vision which the prophet Isaiah had, wherein he saw the Lord seated upon his throne, and surrounded by his holy angels, who celebrated his holiness and infinite majesty. By this remarkable vision, which filled the prophet with fear and trembling, God designed to confirm him in his calling as a prophet, and prepare him to say and do whatever he should command. The account given us of this vision should inspire us with a great reverence and dread of the majesty of God, and stir us up to praise and adore him continually with the angels, saying, with profound humility: Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory. II. We must observe, that what is here said of the blindness and obstinacy of the Jews, is not to be understood as if God had blinded them, and hardened their hearts. God only informs the prophet what would be the success of his ministry, and foretells that the Jews would harden themselves wilfully. We ought never to attribute to God the sin and obstinacy of men, since he is so far from blinding and hardening them, that he does all that is necessary to enlighten them, to convert and save them: and if they continue in their sins, and perish in them, it is wholly owing to their own wickedness, and because they would have it so.