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PROPHECIES OF ISAIAH COMPARED WITH THE BOOK OF
TRUTH can bear every trial. ful and true can never be shaken. eth forever. As the Scriptures are searched to see whether these things are so, prophet after prophet shows how they all spake by the same Spirit, as of the same times of the restitution of all things. In courts where distinctions are made between law and equity, and where truth is not always distinguishable from error, and in which witnesses often disagree and judges differ-and in regard to things spiritual, a decision vainly deemed expedient for settling a church, can be given without any reference to one word of Scripture it is a special pleader's part, as a case advances to proof, to extract contradictions if he can, or to neutralize, if it be adverse, the testimony of one witness by that of another. The witnesses whom God hath chosen, and by whom He spake, may be gainsaid; but their evidence can not be confuted; and scriptural questions can be settled by Scripture alone. Futurity, to which it was the office and the prerogative of the prophets to appeal, has never failed, when changed into the present or the past, to ratify their sentences and ere the times of restitution come, desolations show, in city after city, and country after country, the effects, as they predicted, of another rule than that of the Lord, and of another faith than that of his word. As they testified of local judgments that are past, their words agree together as the things agree with them. And in whatever manner their testimony be tried-whether verse by verse in single psalms or visions be compared with other scriptures for their own as well as mutual illustration, or different testimonies to the same things be compared, as in the separate sections of the Tables, with those of various scriptures—the word of truth, if thus rightly divided, shows its inherent brightness,
Testimonies that are faith-
even as, when suffered to shine in its own light, and kept from contact with the grosser earth, the diamond ever sparkles, whichever way it be turned. The word of the Father of lights is not to be outshone by any of his works. The preciousness of the knowledge it imparts, though incomparably greater than that of all earthly gems, is not unsearchable like that of the richness of the grace which it reveals.
Isaiah has been called "the evangelical prophet." He testified indeed of the incarnation and of the decease, but also of the deity and the dominion of Jesus, as the gospel itself is the gospel of the kingdom. He alone of all the prophets records in express terms the promise of the new heavens and the new earth, for which apostles and primitive believers looked, according to it. But, as God spake by the prophet, He identifies his own creating of these with his creating Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy, at the coming and kingdom of the Lord, when He shall plead with all flesh by fire and by his sword, and the worm shall not die nor the fire be quenched of them that have transgressed against him, and the blessedness and peace even on earth shall be such that only incomprehensible figures adequately picture its inconceivable nature and degree.
The subject of his prophecy throughout, according to the title of his book, is, if his testimony be believed, the things which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem, in the days of the four kings of Judah, during whose reigns he prophesied. He saw the judgments that have come upon that people and that city, as the burden which they have borne for ages bears witness to their literality; nor was it kept from the view of the prophet that the last would be the greatest, and that the Lord at his coming will render indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, to the Jew first, when Jerusalem shall be his furnace, and the Lord shall wash away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall purge the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning; thereafter to be made an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations. -Akin to the same theme, or linked, in judgments on their enemies, to Judah and Jerusalem, testimonies were borne by Isaiah as by other prophets, to things that they saw concerning the enemies of Israel of old, and their cities and countries; the accomplishment of which has shown and still
shows the literal truth of the words of God, as much as the dispersion of the Jews among all nations, and the treading down of Jerusalem by the Gentiles, to this day. But here too the prophet's vision embraced the final judgments at Israel's redemption, also on the Gentiles. He saw, as only partly shown in the preceding Table, the day of the Lord's vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion. But as to that day of which the Lord hath spoken, and the vengeance He will then render to his enemies, the words of Isaiah, as alike those of the Lord, have all the weight of the song of Moses, while they rise higher than it, as to the glory that shall follow.
A volume, not a chapter, can best convey a just idea of the actual and all-pervading harmony of prophecy, by a comparison of the book of Isaiah with other scriptures, if each be read as it is written. In these simple words Christ and his apostles appealed to the word of God by the prophets. The expression had lost none of its divine import, however little care has been taken to build upon the foundation both of apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner-stone; or however much the apostolic and more than apostolic example has been neglected, and the authoritative expression-it is written-instead of being accounted absolutely conclusive, has been practically disused or disowned, and other things substituted for those which the Lord hath spoken. But the word of the Lord standeth ever sure. Though Jesus, who was of the tribe of Judah, wept over Jerusalem, and told that the time of the treading down of it by the Gentiles hung on the fulfillment of the times of the Gentiles themselves, and that Jerusalem would not see him again, till it shall hail him coming in the name of the Lord-yet Judah and Jerusalem, Jacob and Zion, except where judgments fall, have been displaced, if fancy could displace them, from the writings of Isaiah and other prophets of Israel, till a "Commentary on Isaiah as it is" may seem a startling title to many-whom any actual though not avowed commentary on the book of Isaiah as it is not written would have failed to surprise, as if there could be shown in it the prophet's meaning far better than he knew it, or far other than he told it. Yet the things which Isaiah saw are things which the Lord revealed and it is written is the watchword to which an exclusive comparison of scripture with scripture necessitates the return, if truth
be sought at its centre and its source, whence naught but harmony can flow.'
Some instances may here be shown how the things recorded by John are illustrated by the prophecies of Isaiah ; and how separate testimonies to the same things, or to those which God had joined together in his Word, throughout the Scriptures, are ever shown to be interwoven, while new things are added to old as the opening of the book and reading it as written unfold the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.
The second chapter has already in part been compared with the opening of the sixth seal. Reaching beyond the great day of the wrath of the Lamb, as also depicting it, the vision opens with the sight of the establishment of the mountain of the Lord's house on the top of the mountains, as all nations shall flow unto it. Universal peace shall prevail when the law shall go forth out of Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem, and the house of Jacob shall walk with the nations in the light of the Lord. The third chapter is full of judgments on Jerusalem ruined, and Judah fallen, which no Gentile has appropriated. But in the same vision it is written, in that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. Jerusalem purged from its filth and its blood, and every one called holy that is written among the living in Jerusalem, the fiery judgments are past, and "all the glory" remains. That shall be the day when the song of Moses and the Lamb shall be sung, and the nations shall rejoice with his people, and walk in the light of the new Jerusalem-" in the light of the Lord," as the Lamb is the light thereof.
The Apostle Paul, while he marks the distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles, throughout three consecutive chapters in the Epistle to the Romans, as clearly as does Isaiah, cites, "Esaias" four times by name, and also twice, not less emphatically, as it is written. In the last of these, before closing with the exclamation of praise, O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! he testifies to the salvation of all Israel at last "as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for
1 See Isaiah as it is.
this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes; but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance (or change of purpose)." Rom. xi. 26–29. The first of these quotations from Isaiah is, "Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved -for He will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness-because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth." Rom. ix. 27, 28.—“ And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness. For the Lord God of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land (earth). Isa. x. 20-23.
In the following chapter, and in continuation of the same vision, it is shown how the Lord will execute the judgment written, or the consumption decreed, and how that consumption shall overflow with righteousness, and the vision next closes with a triumphant song of praise, when the anger of the Lord is turned away, and the Lord Jehovah is Israel's strength and song, when He also is become her salvation.