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will not hear, they will be broken, and snared, and taken ; and the word will be a savour of death unto death to their souls.
3. Let us regard the Lord Jesus Christ as a sure foundation stone, and trust in him. The sixteenth verse is expressly applied to him in the New Testament. He is a corner stone, which unites and supports the whole building ; precious in the sight of God and all true believers : he is a sure stone, that cannot be broken or removed. He that builds his final hopes on this foundation shall not be confounded ; but whatever else we build upon, it will be a refuge of lies, which the hail will sweep atvay. There is no security but in Christ ; and blessed are all they that 'rust in him.
4. We see the danger of making a jest of the word of God. There were scornful men in Jerusalem, who ridiculed the prophet's reproofs and admonitions, therefore God made their bands strong ; and gave them up to their hearts' lusts. They were held in fetters of iniquity, as well as made captives by the Assyrians. We should be particularly cautious against this sin. If what ministers say should not be quite agreeable to our inclinations, or their manner to our taste, we should not be mockers. Serious things must not be turned into a jest ; for God and his word jest with no man. What is honestly intended ought to be well taken, and what is seriously spoken ought to be seriously regarded. When men despise the word, and become sermon proof, sin gains dominion over them ; and whether they heed and believe them or not, the threatenings of God shall be executed, and the consumption determined shall destroy them.
5. God is to be acknowledged in all the skill and sagacity of mankind ; and in the different circumstances and conditions of human life. The business of the husbandman seems to require no great instruction or discretion, but in reality it does ; and it is to be wished, that farmers would not plod on in the way of their fathers, without considering how far it is right; but endeavour by reading, experience, and observation to improve upon it. Especially should they ask instruction and discretion from God in their business, and give him praise for their success. Let the different dispensations of Providence to us, to our friends, and to the world, be considered as the appointments of him who is wonderful in counsel; that we may not mourn and complain, but in patience possess our souls, and cheerfully cominit all events to God, who gives men all their wis dom and understanding, and must himself be infinitely wise.
This prophecy refers to the Assyrian invasion. It contains promises and threatenings, reproofs and encouragements, according to the character of the people.
I IN O to Ariel, to Ariel, the city (where] David dwelt !*
VV add ye year to year ; let them kill sacrifices ; go up regularly to your sole in feasts, and kill sacrifices as usual, but all 2 will be in vain, while you continue hypocritical ; for Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow ; notwithstanding this your formal worship, wherein you confide so much, both city and temple shall be brought into great straits : and it shall be unto me as Ariel ; both Jerusalem and the neighbourhood about it shall be like the altar, filled with the bodies of dead men ; many shall be killed in sallying out, and many die within the city. 3 And I will camp against thee round about, and will lay siege 4 against thee with a mount, and I will raise forts against thee. And
thou shalt be brought down, [and] shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust ; thou shalt be very huma
ble, and speak low, through faintness or fear of the enemy ; yet 5 God will deliver thee. Moreover the multitude of thy strangers
shall be like small dust, and the multitude of the terrible ones [shall be) as chaff that passeth away : yea, it shall be at an in- .
stant suddenly ; referring to the destruction of the Assyrians, 6 Thou shalt be visited of the LORD of hosts with thunder, and
with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire. And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, even all that fight against her and
her munition, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a 8 night vision. It shall even be as when an hungry (man) dream
eth, and, behold, he eateth ; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty : or as when a thirsty (man) dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh ; but he awaketh, and, behold, she is] faint, and his soul hath appetite : so shall the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against mount Zion ; their hopes shall be disappointed ; they think to enrich themselves with its spoil, and swallow it up in their imagination ; but they shall be deceived, and their disafia
poinlment be the more grievous. 9 Stay yourselves, and wonder ; cry ye out, and cry ; they are
drunken, but not with wine ; they stagger, but not with strong
drink ; referring to the stupidity of the people in the midst of these 10 alarming providences. For the Lord hath poured upon you the
spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes : the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered ; that is, God hath
• Ariel signifies, the Lion of God; it means Jerusalem, and has a particular reference to che altar of burnt offerings ibere, which consumed the sacrifices,
given then up to a stupid, heavy, senseless temper, aad permilied
the eyes of their understanding to be covered, because they would Il not consider. And the vision of all is become unto you as the
words of a book that is sealed, which (men) deliver to one that
is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee : and he saith, I can12 not ; for it (is) sealed : And the book is delivered to him that
is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee : and he saith, I am not learned. Though the learned know it to be a book that is a prophecy, and an important one too, yet they are not desirous nor willing to read it ; and the unlearned complain that it is dark and obscure, above their capacities, and therefore they give themselves no concern about it ; thus the prejudices of the learned, and
the ignorance of the unlearned, will defiat the end of the prophet's 13 instructions. Wherefore the LORD said, Forasmuch as this
people draw near (me) with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their sear toward me is tauglit by the precept of men, by false pros
phets, or traditions of their teachers, as our Lord explains it : 14 Therefore, behold I will proceed to do a marvellous work among
this people, [even) a marvellous work and a wonder : for the wisdom of their wise (men) shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent (men) shall be hid ; because they will not understand, they shall not ; their sins shall be their punishment ; and this shall be a marvellous thing, the fieonle shall lose their under
standing in a wonderful degree, especially those who are now fa. 15 mous for it. Wo unto them that seek deep to hide their coun
sel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us? Wo to the politicians who think God does not know their scheines, and who have formed them without any regard to his word, his prophets, or his provia
dence ; who know their counsels are not agreeable to his will, and 16 therefore wish to conceal them. Surely your turning of things
upside down shall be esteemed as the potter's clay : for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding ? Their inverting the order of things, and leaving God oul of their politics, without whom they have no inore power to do any thing than clay has without the frotter, is in effect denying him
to be their Creator, cr denying his wisdom. 17 (Is) it not yet a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned
into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest ? A proverbial expression of a great and surprising alteration, and is applicable both to the happy consequences of Sennache
rib's defeat, and Hezekial's forwarding a reformation among them. 18 And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and
the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of dark19 ness. The meck also shall increase their] joy in the Lord,
and the poor among mien shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel ;
the book shall be no longer scaled ; humble souls shall learn God's 20 will, shall do it, and rejoice in it. For the terrible one, the Assy. rian enemy abroad, is brought to nought, and the scorner, at home,
is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity, for opportunities of 21 sin and mischicf, are cut oif: That make a man an offender for
a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and 22 turn aside the just for a thing of nought.* Therefore thus saith
the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of
Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face 23 now wax pale. But when he seeth his children, the work of
mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctily my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel; a new generation of the faithful shall spring up, who shall
be in covenant with God, and shall sanctify him, and all good men 24 shall rejoice in the progress of the reformation. They also that
erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine ; those who were formerly prejudiced shall become humble ; those who said the word is hard, or the low unreasonable, shall find it otheravise, and b'e made trise and good by it.
1. TROM this chapter we are taught the vanity and wicked
T ness of hypocritical devotion. The Israelites in their degenerated state went on, year after year, to kill and offer up sacrifices; but all was in vain while they remained impenitent and unreformed. Thus vain will it be for men to go on in a round of religious services, while they do things that are unjust, impure, and sensual. May we guard against that detestable character described in v. 13. To worship God, is to draw nigh to him with an intent to honour him ; but if the heart be not engaged, if that be absent, or unaffected, and we follow the precepts and customs of men, and not the rules of scripture, God will be highly displeased. It is no uncommon thing for persons to get a kind of mechanical habit of hearing and praying, without attention or seriousness, till they become quite stupid, and incapable of receiving any religious impression. He that does not grow better by religious services, grows worse, and is hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
2. We see the constant dependence of the human mind upon God for all its thoughts and operations. He can easily close men's eyes, and stupify their understandings ; can puzzle their politics, and confound their devices. They can no more do what they contrive and intend without him, than the clay can form itself without the potter. He can, on the other hand, enlighten the most stupid, and bring those that have erred 10 understand doctrine. This therefore should teach us to improve our wisdom and skill for God, and to pray daily to him, that he would enlighten our understandings, and direct our steps.
. Those who opposed Hezekiah's reformation, and inocked the prophets, were glad to find any defects and imprudences in good men, that they might wound religion thereby : for this purpose they strained every word, and were especially glad to find any thing amiss in magistrates or ministers. Many of these were perhaps slain by the Assyrians.
3. The great advantages of a meek, teachable disposition of mind are here set forth ; particularly, as it will promote our cheerfulness. Those who are meek, poor in spirit, humble and patient, will have joy in the Lord ; and that joy will increase as those graces do. But passion, pride, and impatience are the greatest enemies to the soul in which they are indulged, and deprive it of real joy. Let us there. fore learn of Christ to be meek and lowly in heart, and in patience to pros8e88 our souls ; that, whatever our poverty or afflictions may be, we may rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of our salvation.
4. We see how odious to men and displeasing to God, the char. acter of censorious and scornful men is. Too many who bear the christian name, resemble the persons here described ; they watch for iniqui'y ; take a malignant pleasure in discovering any blemishes in the characters of their neighbours, and reporting them to their disadvantage ; they make a man an offender for a word ; for a neglected compliment, a dubious expression, or a friendly admonition. They are particularly watchful to reproach a minister for a little impropriety of thought or expression in prayer or preaching; and are upon the watch to ensnare those who are appointed to reprove. However such men may pride themselves in their wit and discernment, and think themselves persons of peculiar sagacity and penes tration, the Lord calls them scorners, and declares that they shall be consumed and cut off. Wherefore, my brethren, let every one of us be swife to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.
CHAP. XXX The Israelites here, as often before, are reproved for their confidence
in Egypt, when the Assyrians came against them.
To to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take
counsel, but not of me ; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit ; they seek shelter in Egypt, but not such a
one as I have directed them to seek ; that they may add sin to sin, 2 by trusting to one alliance after another : That walk, that is, con
trive and take pains, to go down into Egypt, and have not asked
at my mouth ; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pha. 3 raoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt. Therefore shall
the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the 4 shadow of Egypt (your) confusion. For his princes were at
Zoan, and his ambassadors came to Hanes; the ambassadors of
Israel met those of Egypt there ; they had a congress to settle the 5 terms of the alliance : but They were all ashamed of a people
[that] could not profit them, nor be an help nor profit, but be a
shame, and also a reproach, they were so weak or 80 treacherous, 6 The burden of the beasts of the south: into the land of trouble
and anguish, from whence (come) the young and old lion, the viper and fiery fiving serpent, they will carry their riches upon the shoulders of young asses, and their treasures upon the