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saved shall walk in the light thereof, and there shall be no night there,
While we dwell in this lower creation, let us raise our thoughts to the superiour world, and here begin the devout and holy exercises which are to employ us there.
If all things were created for God's pleasure, let us remember, that for his pleasure we were created too. We are to live, not to ourselves, but to him to make, not our own, but his will, the rule of our actions—to please, not, ourselves, but him whose will is perfect—and to expect happiness, not in the world, but in his favour.
Be not then conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God.
God works, not for our Sakes only, but for his
Not for your cakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known
unto you ;
O the Jews, now in captivity at Babylon, the prophet, in this chapter, communicates God's gracious promise of their restoration to their own land ; and describes the happy circumstances which should attend it. They should be reinstat. ed in their former privileges-should receive plentiful effusions of the Holy Spirit-should be blessed with all temporal and spiritual good thingsin a word, the Lord would be their God, and they should be his people. But lest, on hearing such rich and gracious promises, their hearts should be lifted up in pride and selfconfidence, the caution in the text is subjoined—Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you ; be ashamed and confounded for your own ways. The same caution is before given in the 22d verse; Thus saith the Lord I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel ; but for my holy name's sake, which ye had profaned among the heathens, whither ye went. I have had pity for my holy name. I will sanctify my great name, which ye had profaned. The hea. then shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.
The reason of God's granting to the captive Jews, a restoration to their country, and so many attend. ing privileges, was founded, not in their worthi. ness, but his own mercy-not in a partial regard to them, but in a general regard to the human race.
We will illustrate our text
I. As it respects the case of the Jews in particu. lar.
II. In its more general application to others.
I. We will consider the text as it immediately respects the case of the Jews.
Their deliverance from Babylon was eminently the work of God-It was He, who did this. Taken in all its circumstances, it evidently appears to have been wrought by a divine hand. . .
The duration of their captivity was exactly foretold, before it began; and Cyrus, the prince who granted their release, was expressly named in prophecy, before he was born. During a period of seventy years, they were preserved a distinct people in the land of their enemies, while other nations were swallowed up and lost. They enjoyed some peculiar privileges in their captivity, especially the privilege of exercising their own religion, and attending the ministrations of their prophets. Some of their prophets and priests, men of distinguished abilities, gifts and virtues, were, by a wonderful concurrence of circumstances, admitted to great honour and influence in the court of Babylon, where, uncorrupted by their preferment, they retained their zeal for the religion, and concern for the interest of their nation, for whom they procured some signal favours. In this period Cyrus the Persian is born. Under him are united the Persian and Median pow. ers. He proves a wise and virtuous, as well as a warlike and victorious prince. A little before the time predicted for the deliverance of the Jews, he makes a conquest, and obtains the government of the Chaldean empire. He favours these captives, and grants them liberty to return to their own land. Under the authority of the decree passed in his reign, his successors continue to them this indulgence, and assist them in resettling their country, and rebuild. ing their city and temple. Some of their country. men, now in honour and affluence at Babylon, sacrifice all their worldly possessions and prospects to the interest of this despised people, and not only aid, but accompany them in their return. Here, under the smiles of Providence, they increase in number, strength and importance, and soon become respectable among the nations around them.
In this great event, utterly improbable to human foresight, so conspicuous was the divine hand, that when God turned again the captivity of Zion, it was said among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.
God would have them consider, that all this was done, not for their sakes, but for his name's sake.
It was done, not on account of their worthiness, but from pure mercy.
They had been sent into captivity for the sins which they committed in their own land ; and these sins they carried with them and still retained in the land of their captivity. Thus God complains of them in the preceding part of this chapter. “ When the house of Israel dwelt in their own lard, they defiled it by their own way, and by their doings ; wherefore I poured out my füry upon them, and I scattered them among the heathen.And
when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when it was said unto them, These are the people of the Lord, and they are gone forth out of his land.” As if it had been said, “By their evil practices they have brought a reproach on my name, and given occasion to the heathen to say, See what profligate and impious wretches these Jews are, who call themselves the servants of a holy God! No wonder he has expelled them out of the country, which he gave them.” When God promises their restoration, he calls upon them to remember all that they had done, and to be ashamed and confounded for their own ways.
This deliverance was not intended principally for their benefit ; but for a more general and extensive good. “I do this,” says the Almighty, “ for my name's sake, and that the heathen may know that I
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In this work God glorified his great name. He gave a striking display of his power, by rescuing these feeble captives from the hands of superior enemies—of his wisdom, in so disposing events as to accomplish this mighty purpose-of his foreknowl. edge, in pointing out the time, manner and circumstances of their deliverance-of his faithfulness, in fulfilling the promises, which had long before been made in their favour-of his goodness, in watching over this unworthy people, and pardoning their nu. merous provocations of his holiness, in chastising their iniquities of his justice, in punishing the oppressions of their enemies—of his sovereignty, in casting down a superiour nation to make way for their deliverance—and of the truth of the religion instituted among them, by accomplishing the predictions of his prophets.
God did not at first set his love upon them, be. cause they were more in number than any people ; for they were then the fewest of all people. Neither VOL. I.