Imágenes de páginas

tion, but of his spiritual baptism, that Jesus undertook the work of a preacher: and so also, not every one regenerate of the Holy Ghost, but only those baptized with power from on high, may follow in his footsteps; but from one who hath received this baptism, the liberty may not on any account whatever be withheld. Articles and creeds are but man's covenants, for certain ends which he hath deemed good and necessary: they are advanced too high when they are made indispensable to the office of the preacher: this is to add to the ordinance of God, which no creature may take upon him to do; for he that addeth may take away. They were intended as testimonies for the truth against prevailing error, and as such are very precious; but they may not be made essential to the office of a preacher, without offending the great Head, and tempting him to withdraw the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which is the condition, and the only condition, to the executing of that blessed ministry ; and every one so baptized hath in him the full appointment and equipment for the office, when it pleaseth Christ in his providence to call him thereto. Witness how, when all the members of the church of Jerusalem were by persecution scattered abroad,“they went every where preaching the word” (Acts viii. 4). They were not all, or even many of them, preachers or teachers, while gathered together into a church, but did submit themselves to those in whom the gift appeared most conspicuous; but the power was latent in them, in virtue of their baptism with the Holy Ghost, and straightway appeared when they were dispersed abroad.--Thirdly, we learn that this same baptism of the Holy Ghost, at the same time that it conveyed the gift of preaching, did convey likewise power to “ do good, and to heal all that were oppressed of the devil ;” because God abideth with such a one, and confirmeth his testimony with works which no one can do but God ;-which the devils cannot do, because the works are good; which men cannot do, because they are supernatural. And these two things, the word of truth and the demonstration of power, which God hath joined together in that holy baptism, who is he that shall part asunder ? Not the Lord, who with his last words on earth did thus declare :“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.

He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe : In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark xvi. 15--18). Not the Apostle Paul, who thus declareth concerning the office of preaching the Gospel : "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the


2 R

Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him ; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will ?” (Heb. i. 3, 4.)-Forasmuch, then, as this prophecy of Isaiah, as applied by the Lord unto himself, and by him transmitted to his church, doth draw with it these and many other very great and important conclusions, we do well to search into it the more diligently, as we now essay to do,

in dependence upon that grace of God which is sufficient for us, and that strength which is perfected in weakness.

In respect to the beginning and the ending of the strain whereof our text is a part, it may be observed in general, that from the xlix th chapter to the lxvi th, with which the book of this prophet endeth, there is but one glorious revelation, by successive efforts, of the glory to which Messiah is to advance his people, and his land, and his city in the latter days. It is one object, exhibited in various aspects, under various lights. As a painter, having to represent a glorious city in the midst of the most sublime and superb scenery, goes about it and about it, and holds it up to view from every striking point, and then presents the many aspects as one representation of that whose various richness could not otherwise be represented ; so the Spirit of the Lord, being minded to set forth the excellent work which Messiah through infinite trials should accomplish for Mount Zion and Jerusalem, for the tribes of Israel and the land of promise, doth utter through the prophet Isaiah such a suscession of poetical creations as taken together do compose the most stupendous work of revelation by word which the Word of God himself hath ever uttered. For though the Apocalypse be more gorgeous and grand in respect of emblematical imagery, it must yield to these seventeen chapters of Isaiah in respect of burning words and breathing figures and wondrous combinations of thought. I cannot express, nay, I have never been able to conceive as one whole, the boundless variety of things which are gathered together within such narrow limits. Of these historical sketches of the Workman's labour, and graphical sketches of the work accomplished, one commenceth with the words of our text, at the beginning of the lxi st chapter, and ends, if I err not, with the 9th verse of the lxiid. That a new strain, or rather a new variation of the strain (for the strain is one, though the variations be many), begins with the lxi st chapter, is manifest by the way in which the lx th concludes, with what, both from the matter and the manner of it, is beyond question a full close ; and that the strain continues all through the lxi st chapter, and to the 10th verse of the following one, is apparent, I think, from the continuity of the ideas and the figures. The act is the restoration and reparation of Zion and Jerusalem, and her establishment in glory for ever. Then commenceth the act of gathering his people by the treading of the wine-press of Edom: which seems to be completed with the 6th verse of the lxiiid chapter. They form, as it were, two parts of one action, the raising up of Jerusalem by the ruin of Edom; and therefore it is twice over, once in each part, described as “the day of vengeance, and the year of the redeemed ” (lxi. 2, lxii. 4). Now, because the restoration of the inheritance, and the setting of the enslaved owner of it free, and the inquisition for the blood of his kindred during his captivity, were all parts of one glorious emancipation, which was received by all the people at the year of jubilee, we are disposed not to separate these two strains from one another (if indeed they be two, and not one), but shall take up the interpretation of the whole strain contained in the lxi st, lxiid, and the first six verses of the lxiiid chapter of the Prophet Isaiah. And, O my God, who knowest how I tremble at thy word, and with what awe of spirit I undertake these interpretations, grant me a double portion of thy Spirit for the work on which I now enter : and because the time is very short, grant me to leave a full witness behind me of the things which the Redeemer hath done, and also of the things which he hath to do, upon the earth.

The whole strain is, in its proper and literal sense, applicable to the children of Israel, to whom Christ came preaching redemption, nor suffered the twelve and the seventy to travel beyond Judah and Galilee, where they dwelt: it is written in the language of their ordinances, and throughout applies itself to them, as if there were no others to whom it did or could apply. The other nations are indeed noticed in it-the Gentiles in general lxi. 6, and Edom in particular lxii. 1-but always in contrast with God's own people, to whom it promises a year of redemption; to others a day of vengeance, and to Edom of utter destruction. This is its literal and historical, whatever may be its spiritual and mystical application; and, as we have observed, in order to arrive at the latter, the former must be reverently and diligently inquired into : for God is to the minutest jot and tittle jealous of his word. Our method, therefore, must be, to discover from the perusal of the passage what is its intention towards the Jewish people; and, rising through this by the teaching of the Holy Ghost, to apply it to the true Israel, who serve God in the spirit; to the new Jerusalem, which is their mother and to their promised possession, which is the inheritance of God and all things.

The prophecy opens with a proclamation of good tidings.unto a people poor and oppressed, broken-hearted and captive, utter by one who had been, anointed with the Spirit of the Lord God for that very end : “ The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto


the meek: he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound" (lxi. 1)--then sheweth at a glance that they shall be revenged upon their oppressors" To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn” (ver. 2). It then dwells with great exuberance of imagery upon the recompence of joy and blessedness which they shall have, instead of all their sorrow and spoiling : “ To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness ; that they might be called, Trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord ; that he might be glorified” (ver. 3). This is the first note, as it were, of preparation, for the all-busy scene which follows, where they are represented as building and repairing their wasted habitations, and serving themselves of those strangers who beretofore oppressed them; and so the strain proceeds from sorrow to joy, from joy to glory, and from glory to still greater glory. All this is represented as proceeding under the hand of one Person, who first appeareth as the Herald of the redemption, and afterwards as the Redeemer, with his garments dipped in the blood of Edom the oppressor. His meetness for this work of ridding Israel out of the hands of all his enemies, is declared to be altogether derived from the Spirit of the Lord God (Adonai-Jehovah, i. e. Jehovah the Support or Sustainer) resting upon him. The same redemption is ascribed to the same cause in the with chap. of this prophet, vers. 2–4; and in the xlv th Psalm, ver. 7; and in various other parts of Scripture; as, Is. xxxii. 15; xl. 13; lix. 19; Ixiï. 10, 14, &c. It is not the Spirit who doth it, but one who doth it by the Spirit; the Root from the stem of Jesse, the most Mighty King, the Redeemer of Israel. And the reason for which he hath this unction of gladness above his fellows, is because “ he loveth righteousness and hateth iniquity." His holiness maketh him to be, in God's sight, fairer than the children of men; grace is poured into his lips, and therefore God hath blessed him for ever. God took proof of him for thirty years; and finding him true and faithful and perfect before his law in all points, he baptized him with the Holy Ghost; which descended upon

him in the form of a dove, and never rose from him any more, but rested upon him for ever as his chosen habitation. After which he entereth straightway upon his weighty commission of preaching the glad tidings of the kingdom throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee; and evermore he is careful to testify, not of himself, but of God, and to declare that not he, but the Father, did witness within him. The Old and New Testaments agree together in giving the glory of the Great Preacher's work not to the man, but to the Spirit of the Lord


307 God that rested upon the man. The perfect holiness which obtained for him this pre-eminent distinction, of being the first who was baptized with the Holy Ghost, belongeth to the man; but the fruits of the baptism, the words and works of his ministry, belong unto the Holy Ghost, or the Spirit of the Father informing the man. Godhead, not manhood, hath the glory of the work and ministry of Jesus: manhood hath the glory of being the bearer and the occupier of such an unspeakable trea

And this is true, not only of the word of witness which he made concerning the Father, of the proclamation of glad tidings which he made to the Jews, and by us his members still maketh to all men ; but it is true also of the work which is to be accomplished when he cometh in his glory as the Redeemer of the tribes of Israel and the Governor of the nations. The new aspects under which human nature and this world shall then be exhibited, the joy and the blessedness, are all the offspring of that Spirit, with which Christ was fully anointed, and with which the Prophets that went before had been partially and occasionally furnished. Whose words and actings prophetical were all droppings of that Spirit, whereof the fulness rested upon Jesus personally, and now upon his church collectively; and hereafter upon all nations, and the world itself, according to an economy and distribution which He, the Head, shall appoint. If, then, it required this anointing of the Spirit to enable the Son of God, when he became mortal man, to preach ;-if the weakness of mortal flesh so sunk and obscured his Divine person as that he must be refreshed with the living streams of the Holy Ghost from the Father ;-if the heart and mind and tongue and hand of flesh were too weak, even when united to the person of the Son of God, to do the office of preaching the kingdom, until they were quickened, enlightened, inspired, and strengthened with the Spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind ;-who is he that will undertake the same office and occupation of preaching without the same heavenly gift? It is utterly ridiculous and absurd for a mere man to undertake without the Holy Ghost that which without the Holy Ghost, the Son of God'having become man attempted not. Judged by this standard, what are our preachers in general but presumptuous upstarts, going a warfare upon their

own charges? whom God in the days of their ignorance winked at, but now commandeth them every where to repent, and wait upon Him for that baptism which Christ was baptized withal, and now waiteth to bestow upon all who love him and keep his sayings, neither follow for doctrines the precepts of men...?

: So much in general for the glory of the Holy Ghost in the work of proclaiming God's Gospel. And now for the particulars.

• Because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings

« AnteriorContinuar »