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ages before those men were in being. The prophets were naturally prejudiced in favour of their own nation, but yet they foretel the infidelity and reprobation of the Jews, through their disbelieving of the Messiah, and therefore their rejection by God.
We will not multiply quotations to this purpose; it will be sufficient to produce one or two passages from the evangelical prophet Isaiah. The 53d chapter contains a most famous prophecy of the Messiah; and it begins with upbraiding the Jews for their unbelief: "Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" Which are expressly applied by the apostles, to the unbelieving Jews of their time, see John xii. 38, and Rom. x. 16. The prophet assigns the reason too, why they would not receive the Messiah ; namely, because of his low and afflicted-condition; and it is very well known that they rejected him on this account, having all along expected him to come as a temporal prince and deliverer, in great glory and power.
The prophet had before been commissioned to declare unto the people the judgments of God, for their infidelity and disobedience; and he said: "Go, and tell this people ;" this people, not my people; "hear ye indeed, but understand
not, and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed."
In the style of Scripture, the prophets are said to do what they declare will be done; and in like manner Jeremiah, chap. i. verse 10, is said to be set over the nations, and over the kingdoms, to root out, to destroy, and to throw down; to build, and to plant, because he was authorized to make known the Divine purposes and decrees; and because these events would follow in consequence of his prophecies. Make the heart of this people fat, is as much as to say, denounce my judgments upon this people, that their heart shall be fat, and their ears heavy, and their eyes shut.
This prophecy might relate, in some measure, to the state of the Jews before the Babylonish captivity; but it did not receive its full completion till the days of our Saviour; and, in this sense, it is understood and applied by the writers of the New Testament, and by our Saviour himself.
The prophet is then informed, that this infi
delity and obstinacy of his countrymen should be of long duration: "Then said I, Lord, how long?" And he answered, "Until the cities be wasted, without inhabitant; and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate and the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.”
Here is a remarkable gradation in the denouncing of judgments. Not only Jerusalem and the cities should be wasted without inhabitants, but even the single houses should be without man; and not only the houses of the cities should be without man, but even the country should be utterly desolate; and not only the people should be removed out of the land, but the Lord should remove them far away, and they should not be removed for a short period, but there should be a great, or rather, long forsaking in the midst of the land. And hath not the world seen all these particulars exactly fulfilled? Have not the Jews laboured under a spiritual blindness and infatuation, in hearing, but not understanding; in seeing, but not perceiving the Messiah, after the accomplishment of so many prophecies, after the performance of so many miracles?
And, in consequence of their refusing to con
vert, and be healed, have not their cities been wasted without inhabitants, and their houses without men? Hath not their land been utterly desolate ? Have they not been removed far away into the most distant parts of the earth? And have not their removal and banishment been now of more than 1700 years duration? And do they not continue deaf and blind, obstinate and unbelieving?
The Jews, at the time of the delivery of this prophecy, gloried in being the peculiar church and people of God; and would any Jew of himself have thought, or have said, that his nation would in process of time become an infidel or reprobate nation ; infidel and reprobate for many ages; oppressed by man, and forsaken by God? It was about 750 years before Christ, that Isaiah predicted these things; and how could he have predicted them, unless he had been illuminated by Divine vision? Or how could they have succeeded accordingly, unless the spirit of prophecy had been the Spirit of God?
Of the same nature are the prophecies concerning the calling and the obedience of the Gentiles. How could such an event be foreseen, hundreds of years before it happened? But the prophets are full of the glorious subject, and speak with delight and rapture of the
universal kingdom of the Messiah; that God would give unto him the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession; Psalm ii. 8; that all the ends of the earth should remember, and turn unto the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations should worship before Him; Psalm xxii. 27; "that, in the last days, the mountain of the house of the Lord should be established in the top of the mountains, and should be exalted above the hills, the people should flow unto it ;" Micah iv. 1: which passage is also to be found in Isaiah ii. 2; "that from the rising of the sun, even to the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering; for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts." Mal. i. 11.
But the prophet Isaiah is more copious upon this, as well as upon other evangelical subjects ; and his 49th and 60th chapters treat particularly of the glory of the church, in the abundant access of the Gentiles: "It is a light thing, that thou shouldst be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayst be my salvation to the ends of the earth." xlix. 6. Arise, shine, for thy light