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the most difficult portions of the Old Testament. (3.) His prophe. cies are so closely connected with interesting historical events, and furnish so much opportunity of illustration from archæology, oriental customs, and the investigations of modern travellers, that it is highly desirable that all the light should be thrown upon thern which is possible from these sources. (4.) The fulfillment of prophecy is perhaps more clear, minute, and striking in Isaiah than in any other of the prophets; and a commentary, therefore, on his writings, compared with the present state of the countries to which his prophecies refer, as reported by modern travellers, and especially with the record of the life, and doctrines, and death of Christ, will constitute itself a demonstration of the divine origin of the Sacred Scriptures, and may be made one of the best antidotes against infidelity. It is impossible, it is believed, with an honest mind, to compare the predictions of Isaiah respecting Babylon, Moab, Tyre, and Idumea, with the Travels of Volney, Burckhardt, Seetzen, Sir R. K. Porter, Maundrell, Laborde, and Stephens, without the fullest conviction that he who uttered these predictions, two thousand and five hundred years
since, was divinely inspired. It is impossible to believe that this could have been the result of political sagacity ; it is equally impossible to believe that it could have been produced by chance or conjecture. And, in like manner, it is impossible to compare his full, minute, and glowing descriptions of the Messiah, with the life of the Lord Jesus Christ ; to collate minutely and critically, for example, the prophecies in the ixth, the xith, the xxxyth, the liid, the liid chapters, with what actually occurred in the life, the sufferings, and the death of the Redeemer, without the fullest conviction that he was permit. ted to see, in distinct vision, events which were to take place in fu. ture times. No man can be a close student of Isaiah, and remain an infidel; no man can study his writings with prayer, who will not find his faith confirmed, his heart warmed, his mind elevated and purified, and his affections more firmly fixed on the beauty of the everlasting truth of God.
But the main reason which led to the selection of Isaiah as a subject of exposition was, his strongly evangelical character, and the fact, that he, more than any other prophet, has unfolded the future glories, and predicted the triumphs of the Church on earth. He has been usually styled “ the fifth Evangelist;" and it is certain that there was vouchsafed to him a clearer view of the universal spread of the gospel, and of the blessedness of the reign of the Messiah, than was granted to any other of the ancient prophets. It was this characteristic mainly which has prompted to this attempt to make his sentiments more widely known, and more clearly understood. In an age distinguished, more than any other since that of the apostles, for efforts for the conversion of the whole world to God, nothing will
so entirely fall in with the leading characteristics and efforts of the times as an attempt to establish some just views of the right interpretation of the prophecies on this subject. Men will put forth great and noble exertions when the object is clearly defined, and when they have some distinct view of what it is possible to attain. A right apprehension of what is to be on earth, will do much to form the plans and shape the efforts of those who seek the world's conversion. It will do much to suppress unauthorized hopes, to repress wild and visionary schemes, and to secure well-founded and judicious efforts to accomplish the object. A correct understanding of the prophecies, therefore, is necessary to direct those who are forming plans for the conversion of the world, and to uphold the hands and to encourage the hearts of those who are engaged in practically executing the work.
There is one advantage on this subject, in contemplating the entire prophecies in a book, above what would arise from selecting the portions which relate to the final triumph of the gospel, and forming a commentary on them exclusively. As the predictions now stand in the prophets, they are intermingled with predictions respecung other events which have been strikingly and clearly fulfilled. The mind is carried forward therefore amidst demonstrations ; the certain conviction of the mind that the predictions respecting Babylon, Tyre, Moab, and Idumea have been fulfilled, is carried to the contemplation of the predictions respecting things yet to come. amidst proofs of the divine origin of the book which is examined ; and these proofs strengthen the faith in regard to the events which are yet to come. He performs some service for his generation, who contributes in any degree to unfold the meaning of the ancient predictions, and to show to the Christian Church what the world yet will be ; and he who contributes in any manner so to blend the arguments for the past fulfillment of prophecy with the predictions of what is yet to be on earth, does not live entirely in vain. It is doubtless with this view that the predictions respecting the Messiah, and the final universal triumph of the gospel, are scattered along, and in. termingled with predictions that relate to events that would be of more immediate fulfillment. The student of the prophecies thus walks amidst the monuments of their truth which time has set up along his way ;—not much unlike the traveller who is seeking a distant land amidst much that is obscure and uncertain; who encounters rapid streams and lofty crags and hills; whose paths leads through dense and entangled forests; but who yet finds every now and then monu. ments erected which show him that the road has been travelled, and which prove that the same path which others have trod will lead him to the place which he desires to reach. He who has attentively examined Isajah, and compared the predictions respecting events
The mind ranges
which are now passed, with their fulfillment, is not likely to be a man whose faith will be shaken in regard to the reality of the inspiration of the Book of God, or to the final prevalence of religion all over the world. As an illustration of the influence of Isaiah in forming the opinions of Christians in regard to the character of the better days which are to bless the world, we may advert to the fact that the views of most Christians respecting the Millennium are probably derived from this prophet; and that even after the revelations of the New Testament, if we wish to obtain full and clear conceptions of what the world is yet to be under the reign of the Prince of Peace, we instinctively turn to the glowing visions of the Son of Amoz. It has been one of the constant and earnest prayers of the author of these Notes, that his labours may contribute to the confirmation of the faith of Christians in respect to the final triumph of Christianity; and to the augmentation of their zeal in spreading the gospel around the world.
In the fulfillment of this design, as well as to exhibit the true meaning of the prophet, I have availed myself of all the helps within my reach, to show that the prophecies pertaining to events already passed have been minutely and strikingly fulfilled. In these portions of the book, my first aim has been to settle, as well as I could, the exact sense of the prophet by philological investigation, and then to adduce the testimony of madern travellers in regard to the present condition of the countries so described. Modern travellers have contributed much to the confirmation of the truth of the prophetic statements; and if these Notes have any value above what is found in the common expositions of Isaiah, it is probably in this respect. In illustration of this, reference may be made to the prophecies respecting Babylon, Moab, Damascus, Tyre, and Idumea, in the xiiith, xivth, xyth, xvith, xviith, xxxiiid, and xxxivth chapters.
In the preparation of these Notes I have availed myself of all the aids within my reach. The books from which I have derived most assistance are WALTON'S POLYGLOTT ; the Critici Sacri; Pool's Synopsis; Calmet's Dictionary; Vitringa ; Rosenmüller; Calvin ; Gesenius; Jerome; Bochart's Hierozoicon; Taylor's Heb. Con.; Lowth's and Noyes' Versions ; Keith on the Prophecies; Newton on the Prophecies; Hengstenberg's Christology; and the writings of oriental travellers to which I have had access. I have also de. rived considerable aid from the Biblical Repository, and from Prof. Bush's Scripture Illustrations.
This work is committed now to the Christian public with the fervent prayer
that it may do good. The public—for whose favour. able regards thus far in life I have had abundant reason to be grate. ful—will receive kindly what is kindly meant. It is not right to deprecate criticism, for every man who makes a book subjects him.
self, of his own choice, to the free remarks of all who may choose to notice his productions. His works, henceforward, whatever they may be, belong not to himself alone, but to the public at large ; and no author has a right to complain if his style, his opinions, his arguments, his illustrations, are freely examined. For such examination he should be grateful, come from what quarter it may-if it help him to amend his style, to correct his errors, to suggest better illustrations, to remove obscurity, to advance sounder arguments, and in any way to make his works more worthy of the patronage of the public. He has a right to demand only that criticisms should be in the spirit of Christian love—that they should not be made for the sake of criticism, and that they should not be carping or petulant. He has a right to ask that those who examine his positions should presume that he has bestowed labour and thought on them, and that labour and thought should be reciprocated in judging of them before they are condemned. He has a right to expect that assertion in regard to his opinions should not be deemed sufficient to supply the place of argument ; and that the uttering of an opinion ex cathedra should not be allowed to take the place of a candid and prayerful investigation of the meaning of words, and phrases, and figures of speech; of a careful inquiry into whatever in archæology, philology, geography, or travels, may throw light on the meaning of God's word. Argument should meet argument; thought conflict with thought; and truth should be elicited by manly, liberal, and candid discussion. The only object should be truth; and every author should be thankful to any man who will suggest to him what he had forgotten; communicate what to him was unknown; correct or refute what was erroneous; and thus make him more useful to his fellow-men.
It is not improper, however, as a matter of mere justice to myself, to suggest one other thing to those who may be disposed to examine this work. A man burdened with the cares and toils of a pastoral office, has not the advantages of preparing a work for the public which they have who are favoured with the entire command of their time, or whose professional duties require them to pursue a course of study that shall be in accordance with what they may choose to submit to the press. The pastors of the churches, for whose use more especially this work is intended, will know how to appreciate this remark; and they who know the toils of that office will not judge unkindly or severely of what is designed as a means of enlarging the sphere of usefulness in which a man is placed; or of contributing in any, the humblest degree, to illustrate the truth of the Bible, to confirm the churches in its inspiration, to unfold its beauties, and to aid in the exposition of truth. Lord Bacon has said, “I HOLD EVERY MAN TO BE A DEBTOR TO HIS PROFESSION ;” and they who appreciate the force of this remark will look with kindness on every effort to enlarge the sphere of the usefulness of those who are by their office expositors of the word God.
With these remarks, this work is committed to the world. The desires of my heart will be gratified if it is the means, in any degree, of confirming the faith of man in the inspiration of the divine oracles, and of hastening the triumphs of that day when “the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose," and when “the ransomed of JEHOVAH shall return and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads.” Isa. xxxv. 1, 10.
ALBERT BARNES. Philadelphia, Nov. 14, 1838.