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also represents the Ifraelites complaining for want of room for themselves and their Friends (v. 19. and c. liv. 2.) For thy waste and thy defolate Places, and the Land of thy Deftruction fhall even now be too narrow by reafon of the Inhabitants; and they that fwallowed thee up fhall be far away. Many fhall gather together, and thou shalt wonder at the Number of thy Children, which by the aufpicious Influence of the Almighty, fhall fuddenly return from all Parts of the World. Thefe Subjects the Prophet purfues to the End of the Chapter.
Every Reader will easily observe, that this Chapter contains an Account of a Dereliction and a Reftitution, and that both of them, in fome Measure, refpect the Ifraelites. Some refer these Prophecies to the Babylonifh Times, and others will have them to regard the Days of the Meffiah; and this laft Opinion is the more probable fince the Kingdom of the Meffiah is treated of throughout this whole Chapter. Befides, if we compare that State which the Prophet here foretels, with the Return from Babylon, we fhall foon find that they will not agree with each other. A univerfal Redemption and Recollection from all Parts of the Earth is here promifed; (v. 12.) but the other was neither univerfal, with refpect to the Children of Ifrael, nor the Places from whence they returned. Moreover thefe Ifraelites which returned, are here brought in as complaining of the Straitnefs of their Country; but in their Return from Babylon, they found a defolate Land, and there were fcarce Hands fufficient for the Cultivation of it. In a Word, that Deliverance from Babylon was brought about without Slaughter and Blood; but here their Enemies are drenched, or made drunken with their own Blood, and prostrate at the Feet of the Ifra lites, they lick the Duft of the Earth (v. 26. compare it with Rev. xvi. 6.) C 3 Thefe
These things are foreign to the Deliverance from the Babylonifh Captivity, and muft be fought for in after Ages. But it is in vain to look for them in any Generations already paft, as we have feveral times fhewed; therefore the Jews may rejoice in Hope, and wait for the future Accomplishment of thefe glorious Prophecies.
Let us accompany the Prophet to the fifty firft Chapter, where we meet with the fame or greater Teftimonies concerning the flourishing Estate of the Jews after their Reftitution, The Prophet commands them to look to Abraham (v. 2.) their Father; and as God had promised to be his God, it follows that he would be mindful of his Covenant. (v. 3.) For the Lord shall comfort Sion: he will comfort all her wafte Places, and he will make her Wildernefs like Eden, and her Defart like the Garden of the Lord: Joy and gladness fhall be found therein, Thanks giving and the Voice of Melody.
And to confirm this, whatsoever Changes should happen, he fays, (v. 7.) that tho' the Heavens and Earth fhould vanish away, yet his Salvation should for ever endure towards Ifrael.
In the following Verfes the Prophet encourages the Jews by putting them in mind of their Deliverance from the Egyptian Bondage, and other Miracles performed by the Divine Omnipotence, and then adds, (v. 11.) Therefore the Redeemed of the Lord fhall return and come with Singing unto Sion, and everlasting Foy all be upon their Head: they shall obtain Gladness and Foy, and Sorrow and Mourning fall flee away. What could they poffibly defire more? But before this full and entire Redemption the Prophet fhews that Ifrael muft drink the Cup of the Divine Fury. That is, muft fuffer most fevere and bitter Punishments, Defolation, Destruction, Famine and the Sword. But at length having for
their Parts drank thefe Calamities, the bitter Cup is delivered into the Hand of their Enemies, that they may drink the remainder: For thus fays the Prophet, (v. 21, 22, 23.) Therefore hear now this, thos afflicted and drunken, but not with Wine, thus faith thy Lord, and thy God that pleadeth the Caufe of his People; Behold, I have taken out of thine Hand the Cup of Trembling, even the Dregs of the Cup of my Fury, thou Shalt no more drink it again. This feems to be phefied concerning the laft Affliction. But I will put it into the Hand of them that afflict thee, who have Said to thy Soul, bow down that we may go over: and thon haft laid thy Body as the Ground, and as the Street
to them that went over.
Some refer all these Things to Chrift, and rightly indeed to Chrift the Deliverer. But the Queftion is about the People to whom the Prophet here foretels Deliverance; for he does not here treat about any fingle Perfon, but fome Nation, and if I mistake not the Ifraelitifh one, as appears from the whole Chapter. For there we find that the Jews, after a moft fevere Affliction, were to be favoured with the greatest Deliverance.
As for those who improperly apply thefe Prophecies to the adverfe State of the Jews in the Babylonish Captivity, and their profperous Condition after their Return, they feem to compare great things with fmall.
Certainly the Jews did not drink the Cup of the Divine Fury to the utmost in that Captivity: There remained one to be drank much larger, and more. bitter; when many more Jews perifhed by Famine, Sword and Pestilence, at the Siege and Destruction of Jerufalem, than formerly returned from Babylon*.
Compare Nehem, c. vii, with Jofephus's Wars of the Jews Book VII. c. 17.
Befides there was a cruel Slaughter made in other Cities of the Jews, which Titus afterwards fought against and overturned. And when Judea was at length laid wafte, and almoft turned into a Defart, the Romans carried away above ninety thoufand Prifoners, and difperfed them thro' various Countries and Nations. Nor did the Jews only fuffer the greatest Evils from the Romans, who were Heathens, but alfo from the Chriftians who went under the Roman, or fome other Name. How great thefe Miferies were, I tremble to recite,
It is with regret I thus far mention these Calamities: But what fays the Prophet about the Reftauration of the Jews. Let us fee what Face that defolate Country will wear when it shall be restored. It fhall be like Eden or Paradife, as Ifaiah informş us; and he foretels that the People who fhall be brought back will be free from every kind of Evil, and rejoice with perpetual Felicity. (v. 6, 11.) Now this State of Things here delineated both in a natural and moral Confideration, fo far tranfcends the flender Fortune and Felicity of the Jews after their return from Babylon, that it very much exceeds the prefent Force of Nature, and Difpenfation of Things at this Day. The Prophet fpeaks concerning the Reftauration of Paradife, and planting the Heavens and Earth, as it were, anew. (v. 16.) He defcribeş this not only as a State of Indolence, but of everlafting Joy: All Evils of Mind, Body and Fortune being far removed, when all the Ends of the Earth fhall fee the Salvation of God. (See c. lii. 9, 10.) Now the Jews never met with fuch severe Afflictions, nor yet fo great Reftaurations before the time of our Saviour. Indeed fince that time they have been in the moft afflicted Condition, and their Troubles anfwer to this prophetic Description. For which Reafon it is neceffary that there be fome fu
ture Restauration, which may in like manner be agreeable to this promised Felicity. Let us proceed to the fifty fourth Chapter.
God here offers to the Ifraelites fome Confiderations to strengthen their Faith, left they should defpond in their deferted and oppreffed Condition. He mentions his ancient Love under the Character of a Husband, and teftifies that whatever chilling Accidents might intervene, this Affection fhould revive and be perpetual, (v. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.) and remain unmoved as the Covenant established with Noah. He farther adds, that tho' the Mountains should depart, and the Hills be removed, yet he would never depart from the Stability and Strength of his Promife. (v. 9, 10.) They who would take away these Promifes from the Jews, ought ingenuously and openly to tell us, who we are to understand by the Husband here mentioned, and what is the Signification of these Phrafes, a Wife of Youth, the Divorce, and the Widowhood here fpoken of. Let them farther confider the Apparatus of the returning Bride, and the Promises made to her and her Children; (v. II, 12.) and laftly, let these be compared with the Words of the Prophet, (c. lix. 20, 21.) as St. Paul expounds them, (Rom. xi, 26, 27.) But we haften to the fixtieth Chapter, wherein many glorious and magnificent Events are foretold; but fome are doubtful to whom they belong, whether to the Jews or the Chriftians. As for my Part I should willingly include them both as united in the Kingdom of the Meffiah For almost all agree, that the Prophet is here difcourfing concerning the State of that Empire. So far, I fay, it is generally agreed; but is difputed what Reign of the Meffiah the Prophet has in his view, whether the first or the last. I confess there is a great Difference between these two Kingdoms. And fince St. John has taken many