New Translation, Isaiah Chapter 18
(Albany: E. & E. Hosford, 1814)
Isaiah's Message to the American Nation:
ISAIAH, CHAPTER XVIII,
NOTES CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY,
A REMARKABLE PROPHECY, RESPECTING THE RESTORATION OF THE JEWS,
AIDED BY THE AMERICAN NATION;
AN UNIVERSAL SUMMONS TO THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON, AND A
DESCRIPTION OF THAT SOLEMN SCENE.
BY JOHN McDONALD., A.M.
Pastor of the Presbyterian Church, in Chapel Street, Albany.
PRINTED BY E. & E. HOSFORD,
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Of all the Jewish prophets, ISAIAH holds the most distinguished place. His predictions embrace subjects of great variety, extent and importance, and he delivers them with an elegance and energy peculiarly his own. In him the richest vein of pietic genius is united to an uncommon portion of the spirit of inspiration.
With great propriety he stiles his revelations from God, visions; for Jehovah, not only addressed his ear, but delineated the scenes themselves, with all their agents, colouring and circumstances, and presented them to his eye. He continued to prophecy the greater part of an hundred years, and has unfolded a prophetic history of the church of God till the consummation of all things.
Interesting, however, as his communications are, and though in general written with great perspicuity, there is no portion of scripture that presents, in several instances, difficulties more serious to the Theological student. These arise, from the vast variety of his subjects: from his rapid and abrupt transitions: from the sudden and unexpected change of the speakers: from his bold and figurative diction: from the paucity of the historical records of the nations that he introduces: from the numerous verbal errors, which through the carelessness of transcribers have crept into the original text: -- from obscurity in translation.
The prophecy which we have ventured to translate and offer to the public, with some explanatory observations, has been universally acknowledged as the least intelligible in the whole collection. No two translators, no two commentators are completely agreed in their application of it.
Lowth, sometimes Bishop of London, a distinguished Hebrew scholar and scripture critic, who, has given an elegant translation of Isaiah, with valuable annotations, begins his notes on this chapter, in these words: "This is one of the
most obscure prophecies in the whole book of Isaiah. The subject of it -- the end and design of it -- the people to whom it is addressed -- the history to which it belongs -- the person who sends -- the messengers and the nation to whom the ambassadors are sent, are all obscure and doubtful."
Since the publication of the Bishop's translation, the study of the prophecies and of sacred criticism, has been conducted on principles and with an ardour, formerly unknown. Faber, Fraser, and others, have laboured with credit and success. Providence in recent astonishing events and revolutions, is daily furnishing illustrations on this subject.
Horsley. late Bishop of St. Asaph, a scholar and critic of a superior order, dissatisfied with the common translations of this prophecy, gave a new version accompanied with notes. These he published in a letter, and Faber, with just econmiums has since added the translation and notes, to the second volume of his dissertations on the prophecies. Horsley with his Ithuriel spear smites this sealed vision, the seals burst open, and for the first time revealed, tho' obscurely, the real treasure. Impatience or other avocations prevented that important interrogation to which alone prophecy will listen.
Commencing a course of morning lectures on Isaiah, upwards of two years ago, the author soon discovered that his knowledge of its contents was beyond conception limited and obscure. Recourse for aid, to such commentators as lay within reach, convinced him that they were far from being enlightened and satisfactory guides. Diffuse where they might have been silent; and silent where difficulty and darkness prevailed. Even Calvin, the most judicious of that class, very frequently illustrates his Theological system, where he ought to give, and we expect his exposition of the prophecy.
Disappointed in himself and in his aids, he determined to become his own translator, and to keep a steady eye on the prophet, in his manner as well as in his expressions. Unless under the influence of self deception, a case very uncommon; be views his labour and patience amply repaid.
On his first approach to this chapter he found it enveloped in darkness impenetrable. Every attempt to discover its meaning was fruitless. He left it sealed as he found it.
Several months elapsed, before a ray of light fell upon it. In the close of the prophecies, and especially in the last chapter, phrases similar to those in this prophecy frequently occurred. He found that they all had a reference to that awful day with which God shall terminate the present, and introduce a more glorious dispensation.
Under these impressions, he returned and began to apply the contents of this chapter to the same event, and the application appeared natural and satisfactory. Horsley's translation, about the same time, falling in his way, added confidence to his own conjecture. He resolved to publish the result of his enquiries, as they appear related to a scene, on which the present aspect of providence seems to invite the public eye. The view of the prophecy as here exhibited, is calculated to press on the American mind the important part which Heaven has destined our nation to act in this wonderful drama. Pious students in Theology it is hoped may also be stirred up to prepare themselves or their successors to undertake the divine embassy to which God will call them in his providence, as he now calls them in his prophecy.
The author relies, in confidence, on the candour and indulgence of those best qualified to judge of the subject with its evidence and the execution.
In a first attempt on a subject both difficult and delicate, where alterations and corrections -- not always improvements, are constantly taking place, smoothness and uniformity of stile cannot be preserved, nor is it possible entirely to exclude ambiguity in expression and grammatical violation.
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1. God calls aloud on the American nation -- her situation and national characteristics described -- sheltered under the out spread wings of her own eagle -- placed beyond the rivers of Cush, at that time the western boundary of Jewish Geographical knowledge -- sending ambassadors by sea and in vessels of reeds on the face of her own waters. 2. A commission given to her gospel messengers, represented as qualified and prepared to carry her message to the dispersion of Jacob -- his description of this people -- scattered -- plundered -- subjected to terror in the extreme -- of marvelous expectations -- in deep oppression, whose country is in complete desolation. 3. A summons to all the inhabitants of the world on seeing the standard unfurled and hearing the sound of the trumpet to prepare and hasten to the battle of God. 4. Jehovah's private message to the prophet, stating the nature of his providential dispensation till the time of the battle. 5. A prophetic vision of the battle under the similitude of the destruction of a vineyard on the very eve of vintage. 6. A view of the field of battle, with the armies and their principal leader, abandoned unburied, to beards and beasts of prey. 7. The American nation, uniting with the friends of Christ of all nations, in presenting the Jews wonderfully changed, as an oblation to God of the first fruits of men, in Mount Zion.
8 ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII.
VERSE I."Ho! the land of the overshadowing wings that lieth beyond the rivers of Cush, that sendeth ambassadors by sea and in vessels of reeds on the face of the waters.
NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS.In this verse, Jehovah addresses, in the hearing of the prophet, a distant country, of which it is probable he submitted to his view, a prophetic landscape. The prophet reports what he heard and saw
ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 1. 9
Ho! the land.] This an earnest claim on her attention, and not as, in our translation, and imprecation. The scope and spirit of the address breathes nothing but friendship and confidence. In this sense it is employed by the prophet himself, chap. lv. 1. "Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." The word in the original is employed in scripture, to give utterance to any violent agitation of mind, excited by apprehension of danger or produced by strong aversion or desire.
Land of the overshadowing wings.] This is evidently designed, to point out a country, distinguished by the appendage of wings, either literal or metaphorical. Persons and places, are frequently represented in scripture by some of their appropriate qualities. Pharoah, in allusion to the Crocodile of his Nile is called the Dragon of the river. The princes of Moab are called Bulls of Bashan, on account of the distinguished breed of cattle that were reared in that noble district. Alexander of Macedon, from his nerve in exertion, from his caprice, and from the rapidity of his motions, guided more by love of fame than by thirst of blood, is stiled by Daniel, the He Goat of Macedonia. Our Saviour describes the Roman armies, by eagles, from the figure of that bird which decorated their marching Legions, their battles and their camp. Rome, because built on seven celebrated hills is named the beast with seven heads. Guided by these analogies we may fairly infer, that the country addressed will probably be distinguished, by a bird with wide spreading wings painted on her national standards, or by the features of the country, which in the vision met the prophet's eye and awakened his poetic imagination.
Near the close of the eighteenth century, a nation emerged on the eastern shore of the American continent, that chose an eagle with expanded wings for her national ensign. The Persian conqueror and the Roman Republic, adopted the same bird to distinguish their respective standards. But their eagles represented that winged bird in hostile attitude, and eager for the prey. The American eagle, without one unfriendly feature, extends her wings for the protection of her own nation, and offers a shelter for the persecuted of all the nations of the earth. Armed on one side with the branch of peace extended, and on the other with the weapons of her aborigines, she is prepared for defence and not
10 ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 1.
for aggression. Happy nation didst thou understand the language of this emblem, and didst thou follow its instructions?
The standard and the genius of the nation happily harmonize. History records no other government, that has been established solely for the protection of the governed, and the refuge of the stranger. America is the only nation on earth that invites persons of all countries, of all languages, of all religions, of all complexions, habits and manners, to repair to her standard, to settle on her soil, and to share without degrading distinctions, in all her invaluable privileges. Other nations, almost without exception, dread, hate and repel the stranger, and instead of presenting the olive and the wing, meet them with the spear and the sword.
That our application of this epithet to the American nation, is in strict analogy to other predictions of the same prophet already accomplished, will appear from his celebrated description of Cyrus, chap. xlvi 10, 11. God had appointed him by prophecy as the scourge of Babylon and the deliverer of the captive Jews. He produces this decree as proof of his knowledge and fore ordination of all future events. "My counsel shall stand and I "will do all my pleasure, calling from the east an eagle, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country." Ravenous bird, the English version is the description, instead of the name of the bird. Eagle, makes the inspired prophecy exactly agree with Xenophon the Grecian biographer of Cyrus. The historian in his 7th book, informs us, that when the conqueror entered on this expedition he ordered a golden eagle to be elevated as the standard of his army, and under it he destroyed Bablyon. The Persian and Hebrew name of this bird is "aet" and so scrupulous is the historian that hr retains the name with the addition of the Greek termination os, making it aetos. No one will deny that the prediction referred to Cyrus, and was fulfilled in him. It may with confidence be asked, can the overspreading wing, when applied to America, be less intelligible than eagle, when applied to Cyrus? Time has rendered the one clear as demonstration: time is gradually enlightening the other.
Were it possible, that the eye of the American patriot, who first suggested the adoption of the eagle, as the ensign of his country, or even who concurred in the device, should meet and approve of these remarks, astonishment and serious reflection
ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 1. 11
must be excited. Full and frank must be their acknowledgement, that with no more knowledge of the prophecy of Jehovah, or of intention of fulfilling it, their selection was made, than Cyrus had, when, from accidental suggestion, he constructed his golden eagle.
Land beyond the rivers of Cush.] This part of the description ascertains the situation of the country addressed. Cush was the eldest son of Ham. His descendants appear in the tenth chapter of Genesis, to have occupied the regions round ancient Babylon, on the streams of the Euphrates, and soon after the flood, became numerous and powerful. At a very early period not recorded in history, a colony of this family emigrated, and settled on the shores of the Arabian Gulf, and on the waters of the Upper Nile, and were known in scripture by the appellation of Cushites; but by the Greeks and Romans, they were called Ethiopians.
Meroe, surrounded by the waters of the Nile, the Atapas and the Astobaros, their capital city, lay south west of Jerusalem, and in the days of Isaiah, terminated on the west the geographical knowledge of the Jews, and by them was accounted the ends of the earth.
On passing these rivers, the most extensive and frightful desart [sic] in the world commences, and continues without intermission for nearly three thousand miles, till it reaches the shores of the Atlantic, no commercial streams, ever did, or can exist. Beyond this, in the same direction then, this winged nation must be sought.
Guided by the prospective view of the prophet, we pass the wide Atlantic wave. On reaching its western shore, a new and then unknown world is discovered.
From each side of a narrow Isthmus, resembling a neck, two vast continents stretch, to the frozen regions of the south, and the north. They resemble the wings of a bird. Ridges of central mountains, covered with lofty forests, like varigated plumage, extend almost to their extremities. In front, and almost connected with the continents, the West-India Islands, decked in all their tropic colours, like the decorated head of a bird, project and meet the eye. Sheltered under the northern, and most expansive wing of this gigantic Bird, the American nation bursts on the view,
12 ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 1.
bearing on her standard, her Eagle, emblem of the profile of her hemisphere, and the genius of her government.
On a slight inspection of a common map of America, without much aid from fancy, the resemblance will appear. But when God drew the landscape, with all its features, and in all the glowing tints of light and shade, and presented it to the vivid imagination of the sacred Poet, must he not have re-echoed; Land of the overshadowing wings! Can we on listening to the description and comparing it with America, withhold exclaiming: It is the picture of our own country, painted by our own God!
Which sendeth Ambassadors bu sea.] This is the third descriptive feature in the Character of the country, that Jehovah addresses. The term ambassador, as Bp. Horsley observes, includes commercial as well as political agents. America, is distinguished for the number of the agents that she employs in both capacities. Every other nation, ancient or modern with whose history or manners we are acquainted, could, and actually did, send their ambassadors by land. The ancient Romans and Carthagenians, the British, the Danes, and others of the same description, furnish no exceptions. They sent ambassadors over narrow arms of the sea only, a passage generally performed in the space of a few houts. Recent attempts of the British and French, to send ambassadors by sea, to China, proved unsuccessful, and had they succeeded, they might have been sent by land.
America is the only nation on earth, which cannot send her ambassadors to any civilized, or commercial nation, or state, but by sea. She is constantly dispatching ambassadors to various countries, in this channel. She has hardly attained the thirtieth year of her national existence, and in the number of her ambassadors, she is scarcely exceeded by the oldest and most powerful nations of the world.
And in vessels of reeds, on the face of the waters.] This is the fourth and last discriminating characteristic of this this distant nation. The preceding respected her commerce with foreign nations; this regards the manner of internal intercourse among her own citizens.
No country in the world is more favoured with navigable waters for light vessels, than America; and none of equal population, employs them in greater number on the face of their streams. Her rivers with their various ramifications, spread over the face
ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 2. 13
of the whole country, and visit every corner of her extensive territory. In every direction we find the boatman wafting the produce of her soil, to her different emporiums. Her inland seas, sufficiently capacious and deep, to float the largest navies of the globe, are with their tributary streams, wonderfully extensive and intimately connected with each other. Majestic, as her rivers and lakes are, they are rendered inaccessible in a great measure to every foreign sail. This will perpetrate and increase her internal navigation, and secure to her the name of the country of the Canoe, through future ages.
Vessels of reeds.] In Egypt, whose canals were shallow and her rivers rapid, vessels of reeds were constructed to surmount these impediments. Isaiah had probably seen these vessels, or at least had heard them described. In his vision, when he saw the American waters, covered with her bark canoes, and light batteaux, which so much resembled the vessels of the Nile, he calls them by the same name -- vessels of Bulrushes.
The whole of the American land, from the St. Lawrence to the Mississippi, and from the ocean to Ontario, and her sister lakes, exhibits her numerous waters, all alive by the number and variety of her swift sailing vessels. This species of communication is in rapid growth, and the time is probably not far distant when her statesmen, her judges, her merchants and her travellers, shall employ no other vehicle, to convey them to their seats of legislation, of justice and of commerce.
Of all the nations and states that have rivers, and flourished, and sunk for the space of twenty-five hundred years, to none of them can the preceding marks be applied with propriety. All expositors acknowledge this. To the American nation, every one of them may be applied with an aptitude, the most astonishing and exact. The nation addressed must be America. The proof which it furnishes for the truth of prophecy, is new and beautiful. The prescience of God, in events and circumstances the most minute and apparently the most fortuitous, ought to appal the heart of the most obstinate infidel, and dispose him to yield to evidence so clear; -- it ought to confirm the confidence and faith of every pious believer!
VERSE 2."Swift messengers, Go ye to a nation, dispersed and plundered, to a people in terror in the extreme, a nation of expectation,
14 ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 2.
of expectation, and trodden down, whose country, rivers have spoiled."
NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS.Here a new scene is introduced. Without any previous notice or explanation, Jehovah abruptly withdraws the eye and attention of the prophet from the country and its description, and directs them to a more interesting subject. Persons in the habit and attitude of messengers, present themselves prepared and ready to receive the charge, and commission of their King. In the hearing and view of the prophet, he addresses them in these solemn and rapid accents!
Swift Messengers, Go ye.] Angels or messengers, the epithet in the text, is employed in scripture to designate, agents dispatched by God, from heaven with messages of mercy to men, or those ministers of religion whom he qualifies and calls to instruct sinners in the way of salvation. Messengers of the former kind were frequently sent to Abraham, and to Jacob, to prophets and apostles in every age. By this name also, our Saviour. in each of his letters to the Asiatic churches, addresses their respective Pastors or Bishops. Christ himself, when in the execution of his prophetical office, is called also by the same name. Malachi, when closing the canon of the Old Testament, promises Christ, and his forerunner, under this appellation, "Behold I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and Jehovah, whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, the messenger of the covenant in whom ye delight."
The persons who receive the charge in the text, we may therefore conclude, are American Clergymen, whom God by his grace shall qualify, and in his providence raise up, for engaging in a work, on which his heart had long been set. Blessed are they, who shall be called!
In some parts of this prophecy, a call is given to particular nations in the eastern hemisphere, to engage in this service, Isa. lx:4-10. In other places the whole world is represented as united in the same cause, chap. lxvi:19, 20. Among these no doubt the American nation was included.
But God delights to distinguish his last born nation, and the youngest of Zion's daughters, with special tokens of regard. To her he devotes a whole prophecy, sends her a separate message,
ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 2. 15
and delivers the commission to her Angels, by his own mouth. Once by regal tyranny and prelatical intolerance and pride, she was in her infancy separated from all the nations and churches on earth, and driven for shelter to the very ends of the world. God in holy retribution, shall remember the sons of the pilgrims, and shall, in the last days bestow on them separate honors.
Nation and churches of New-England, cradle and nurse of the American churches, exert yourselves with your learned and venerable Pastors, to train up messengers for God! By your influence, and by multiplying your prayers, prepare your sons and your posterity by your exertions, as legions of angels to unite with your Redeemer, in bringing back to him, his kindred according to the flesh!
already the nations of Europe are awake, and preparing for that eventful hour. Denmark to her immortal honour has taken the lead in preparing and sending forth missionaries of talents, prudence and zeal. Britain follows with exertions more vigorous, corresponding to her numbers, opulence and zeal. America has also engaged in this holy cause. Missionary and Bible societies, executing translations into numerous languages, rapidly increase. From the remote inland seas of America, they already extend to the frozen wilds of Siberia. Emperors, princes, nobles, and an innumerable host of the untitled pious, unite and give support and countenance to this heaven delighting work!
The study of the prophecies, a sure sign of the approach of some important revolution in the religious world, is prosecuted with unusual ardour and success. When our Daniels set their hearts to understand the prophecies, deliverance may be expected as near.
A new and unaccountable impulse has recently been communicated to Hebrew students. This study flourishes in Europe, and young American Clergymen of every denomination, have recently turned their attention with ardour, to this venerable language. Hebrew literature, accompanied with an intimate acquaintance with prophecy, may be considered as the best external accomplishment for Jewish missionaries. To these let burning zeal, and charitable and holy affections be added, with disinterested generosity, and we may soon expect the downfall of Jewish infidelity -- Jerusalem inhabited -- and Zion rising from the dust in more than primeval splendor.
16 ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 2.
Swift.] The import of this epithet, it is not easy, perhaps it is impossible yet accurately to ascertain. It is probable from the spirit of the text, that the call will be instantaneous and at a season when the circumstances of the Jews, shall have become critical. Speed and exertion will then become absolutely necessary, and that in a high degree.
It may have a special reference to the ardour and external accomplishments of the missionaries. They shall partake of the spirit of the primitive preachers of the gospel, as they engage in similar labours.
Messengers may be called swift, from the rapidity and ease with which they are conveyed. In this view, it may have respect to the naval vessels which distinguish their country, and are so well adapted, for aiding them in every part of their destined employment.
The central and eastern regions of Asia, are generally supposed to be the present seats of the Israelitish dispersion. What nation, then, of Christendom can convey with so much ease and expedition, as the American, their messengers, to the shores of that vast and unexplored country? What nation is better qualified to search and to discover them, in their unknown retreats?
Sheltered in the capacious bosom of mountains that reach the clouds, occupying the extensive sides of rivers, rapid and broad, whose waves never felt a keel, and on whose banks, a high way has never been stretched. To European missionaries, their retreat would be inaccessible without great expense of time and labour. These obstacles oppose difficulties easily surmounted by the nation of the Canoe. Bred with the paddle in their hand, and taught to construct vessels lighter than the bulrush, they can ascend every stream, wind round the feet of every mountain, and, as circumstances require, they can either carry their canoes, or may be carried in them.
Fathers of piety and zeal, rouse your exertions! Sons that burn with holy ambition to enter into the service of the captain of your salvation, prepare with loins girded, and lamps well trimmed, for receiving the call of your Lord!
ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 2. 17
The description of the people to whom the messengers are sent, next claim our attention. Of all the nations that dwell on earth their degradation and distress appear the greatest, and yet they are represented as the prculiar objects of divine solicitude. Their name, as unnecessary, is not mentioned; for no person acquainted with the scriptures and with the history of the Jews, will hesitate to apply the description, to that unhappy people.
To a nation dispersed.] This part of the description is peculiarly their own and has no parallel in history. Nations have been found in slavery and oppression: nations have been dispersed among other nations and have lost their original name: nations have been incorporated with other nations without injury or dishonour; but the Jewish nation alone has been dispersed and still exist, a distinct people without any perceptible change if national character, in manners, government or religion.
This is the accomplishment of a prediction coeval with the existence of the nation; "And the Lord shall scatter thee among all nations from one end of the earth to the other, and thou shalt find no ease, nor shall the sole of thy foot find rest." Deuteronomy, xxviii:64, 65.
No nation has been permitted to refuse them a residence: no nation, either by persuasion or by threats, has been able to withdraw them from their national and religious habits: no nation, with all their hatred and resentments, has been allowed to extirpate or to enslave them. Scattered, killed and not destroyed!
Jews may be found in every climate, from the burning line to the frozen pole, under every government, free and despotic, among persons of every religious denomination -- Hindoo, Moslem, Christian, without suffering the least change of national character.
Physiologists describe an animal of a singular nature, which when cut in pieces, every section becomes a complete polypus, perfect in every respect as the original body. The Jew is a polypus in the moral world. Divided and subdivided, united or separated, this nation appears in every section, in every assemblage completely Jewish.
This stability of disposition, formed no part of their original character. Never was there a people, previous to this prophecy, more fickle, or more prone to imitate the manners of their neighbours, and to adopt their government and religion. No remonstrance,
18 ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 2.
no correction, could restrain or reclaim them. Fickleness produced their corruption, their ruin, their dispersion. God has now enstamped on them a new character. It is designated as a sign, that he intends to collect and reconcile them again without schism into one national body under Messiah their head.
Dispersed Israelites, hear, and in full confidence obey the call of your own prophet. "Come and let us return to the Lord, for he hath torn and he will heal us, he hath smitten and he will bind us up: after two days he will revive us, on the third he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight." Hosea, vi:1, 2.
And plundered.] This describes the oppression and injustice to which this people are exposed in their property. The word seems selected to intimate the cruelty that accompanies the depredation. Peeled, as those who have their hair and garments, their ornament and covering wantonly plucked off, to gratify the malignity as well as the cupidity of their spoilers. This has been awfully and universally realized.
For many years they have been ignobly industrious and remarkably inoffensive and submissive. Far from screening them from injury and injustice; this seems to have invited both. Every nation in Europe, in Asia, and Africa has stained their character and their history, with the pillage of the Jews.
Among innumerable instances on record we shall only refer to a flagrant example recorded by Hume, in his history of England, vol. 2, chap. 10.
Jewish societies wherever dispersed may be aptly compared to hives of Bees. Separated from all the world besides, with incessant labour and application and from sources neglected by others, they gather their scanty stores in which they highly delight. No sooner have they laid up sufficient to gladden their own hearts and to attract the notice of their foes, than their treasure is rudely seized by some merciless plunderer. Nor is it unfrequent, that with their hard earned wealth, they also lose their lives. None endure losses of this nature with more grief and regret; but they are never discouraged. Instantly, as if destined by heaven to provide for others, they renew their toil on the same spot, and among the same ravagers, with the cheerless prospect, that whenever their acquisitions shall invite temptation, the same calamity shall be repeated.
ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 2. 19
This is the exclusive inheritance of the Jew. Two thousand years have nearly elapsed since in every nation under heaven they have endured these indignities. Who can read this and continue to doubt the authenticity of the scriptures? Oh that the eye of these prodigal children would catch these lines, consider the cause of their sufferings, and return under the guidance of their own Messiah, where, in their Father's house they would enjoy great kindness and ample protection!
A people of terror, even in the extreme.] Our English translation neither corresponds with the Hebrew, nor with the scope of the passage, nor with the history of the people described. The word in the original is in the passive voice and represents the people as subjects of terror and not as the authors of dread to others. The design of the whole description is to mark the Jews as in the most abject, forlorn and contemptible condition.
The Jews from the call of Abraham to this hour never appeared terrible to any nation. They were considered by the nations, as Isaac by Ishmael, objects of ridicule and contempt. Nor is their contempt and courage, after the crucifixion of Christ, an exception. Their desperate deeds, and contempt of death rendered them objects of horror, rather than terror to the Romans. On every occasion they discovered more of the desperation, the despair of the coward, than the courage of the collected and brave. Conscious of their own cruel and faithless hearts they dared not to rely on the humanity, the generosity, the promises of the Romans. In no instance, and at no time were their terror, their cowardice, and fears more conspicuous, than when in wild despair they became their own executioners after imbruing their hands in the blood of their friends, their wives and their children.
This terror Moses predicted. "If ye shall despise my statutes, I will even appoint over you terror, and the Lord shall give you a trembling heart and failing of eyes, and horror of mind, and thy life shall hang in doubt before thee, and thou shalt fear day and night and shall have none assurance of life." Levit:xxvi:16 -- Deut:xxxvii:65, 66.
Ever since the day, that this nation marred the visage of the son of God, the mark of Cain has been branded deep, on their brow, and his terrors dwell in their heart; nor have dread and suspicion ever departed from their dwellings. No Jew however personally
20 ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 2.
innocent and amiable he may be, but discovers to every discerning eye timidity and restlessness. Europeans observe this mark. Travellers inform us that among Hindoos and Turks it escapes not their notice. Terror, more than persecution, have ' urged them to seek concealment in the deep recesses of Asia.
In the very extreme.] On comparing, with other passages of scripture, this phrase in many translations, this appears to be the most obvious meaning. Perhaps without charge of extravagance, some might read, from that event, even to the present time. From the death of Christ the principal cause of their sorrows, till the period of their restoration, the Jews shall continue a nation devoted to terror. This would amount to nearly the same as our translation.
A nation of expectation, of expectation.] This is a well known form of speech among the Hebrews, employed to express great, intense, unremitting expectation. To the Jews this epithet may be applied with the utmost propriety, but to no other people on earth.
The expectation began with Abraham, the founder of the nation. He was the son of "hope," and rejoiced with gladness in the expectation of Messiah's reign. "Many prophets and righteous men died with a strong desire of seeing this period," Paul declared before Agrippa: "I am judged for the hope of the promise of God made unto the Fathers, unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night hope to come." Acts xxvi:6, 7.
Ever since the destruction of Jerusalem the expectation of the Jews, wherever scattered, is as strong as in the days of John the Baptist. This expectation has exposed them to great impositions from false Christs, and involved them in dreadful calamities and disgrace. But nothing can extinguish their hope. The expectation at this hour is as strong as ever, and is cherished wherever a Jew is found.
Buchanan, a British Missionary, in the year 1802, visited different Jewish settlements in India, and reports: "In many interesting conferences with them, two things struck me forcibly. Their constant reference to the desolation of Jerusalem, and their confident hope that it shall be rebuilt. Their hope of
ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 2. 21
rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, the third time under the auspices of Messiah, is always expressed with great confidence. They have a general impression that their deliverance is not very remote. They say it is a sure sign of our approaching restoration, that in almost all countries there is a general relaxation of the persecution against us."
De Chateaubriand's reflections on Jerusalem and the Jews (1806,) are pertinent and beautiful.
"What they did five thousand years ago they still continue to do. Seventeen times have they witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem, yet nothing can discourage them, nothing can prevent them from turning their faces to Zion. To see the Jews scattered over the whole world according to the word of God must doubtless excite surprize, but to be struck with supernatural astonishment, you must view them at Jerusalem, you must behold these rightful masters of Judea, living as slaves and strangers in their own country, you must behold them under all apprehensions expecting a king who is to deliver them. Crushed by the cross that condemns them and is planted on their heads, skulking near the temple, of which not one stone is left upon another, they continue in their deplorable infatuation. The Persians, the Greeks and the Romans are swept from the earth, and a petty tribe whose origin preceeded that of those great nations, still exists, among the ruins of its native land. If any thing among nations wears the character of a miracle, that character in my opinion is here legibly impressed." Chateaubriand's Travels, p. 407. Phila. edition.
Trodden down.] This respects the personal outrages to which this nation and people are exposed. This part of the description applies to the Jews with evidence irresistible. The cruelties of every kind which they have endured, exceed in duration and degree, not only that of any one nation, but of all the nations of the earth, besides. They have literally been trodden down, like grapes in a wine vat, with expressions of joy instead of grief.
The Romans who boasted that their ruling passion was to crush the proud and to "spare the submissive," forgetting in the destruction of Jerusalem, every sentiment of pride and humanity, exercised the most savage cruelty and rage on the miserable remains of that infatuated nation. Regardless of age, of sex and
22 ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 2.
of dignity, they trode down those who resisted, and those who sued for mercy, as reptiles the most vile and noxious.
On the shores of the sea of Galilee the same wanton outrage was renewed. Offenders and not offending, because Jews, were equally involved in destruction. The bodies of those who fell were left unburied, till the air infected, destroyed their destroyers. The transparent waters of the lake, were empurpled with blood, and covered with the floating dead. Jordan, that once opened a passage for this nation into their own country, had his own passage impeded by the carcases of her miserable children, slain by the enemy on her own plains. Twelve hundred prisoners who implored mercy, were marched to Tiberias and literally trodden to death in the amphitheatre. The most humane Emperors that ever wore the imperial purple, were spectators -- were instigators! The judgment was from heaven! They were the executioners.
The streets of every nation in Europe have witnessed scenes of Jewish outrage. Their deaths have been attended with the joy of those who tread the vintage, rather than with the grief of those, who were sprinkled with human blood, unrighteously shed.
Even the humane Hindoo, who recoils from the blood of beast and of bird, rose with relentless fury, and with remorseless hate, engaged in Jewish massacre. The city of Cranganor, displayed scenes of blood hardly less attrocious in cruelty and extent than those of Jerusalem and Galilee. See Buchanan, p. 219, 220, Boston edition.
Ever since this unhappy nation, estimated the life of their Messiah, the desire of nations, at thirty pieces of silver, the price of a dog, they receive the opprobrious name of Jewish Dogs from every nation on earth, and endure the indignities offered to that impure animal.
In many of the countries in the east, Jews are not permitted to live in the same parts of the city with other inhabitants; they are excluded from every honourable office; they are compelled to perform the most degrading work and to toil in arts the least respectable. In the capital of Yeman they are not allowed to dwell nor to lodge within the walls of the city. See Niebuhr's Travele passim.
ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 2. 23
Infidels of talents, and education, seriously compare these facts with the prediction, and unless determined to abandon reason and modesty, dare not insinuate that the scriptures are either cunningly or foolishly devised fables!
Descendants of Abraham, formerly so highly honoured of God reflect on your present afflicted condition and the causes of it. Listen to the prediction of your own favourite prophets, and turn not away your eyes any longer from the man of sorrows, whom your Fathers in ignorance and unbelief crucified. He still regards you with compassion and with love. Embrace him as the glory of Israel and soon will you hear; "Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee."
Rise, American ambassadors, and prepare to carry the tidings of joy and salvation, to your Saviour's kinsmen in disgrace -- so deep and of so long duration!
A people whose country the rivers have spoiled.] This step completes the climax. The land is exposed to grief and disgrace corresponding to those of its owners. Expelled more than seventeen hundred years, scattered to the extremities of the world, destitute of any sure dwelling place, God has not extinguished their claim and title, to the inheritance of Jacob, the glory of all lands. It bears their name, it remains unclaimed by any, all who know it acknowledge, that it is the land of the Jews. But how greatly changed in beauty and riches, from that country which Moses describes; "A good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of vallies and hills, a land of wheat; a land of oil, olive and honey; a land, wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig much brass." Deut. viii:7, 8, 9.
O! Jerusalem, O! Palestina, the rivers have spoiled thee! Thy flocks and thy herds are all swept away! Thy cities and villages sunk in earth, cannot be traced! Thy vineyards and thine olive-yards uprooted, are borne away! Land of honey, thy bees have forsaken thy rocks! The very soil of thy hills and of thy vallies has been torn up with the inundation and has disappeared! A bloody Arab, a polluted Moslem brandishes the scymetar where David once swayed the sceptre! The songs of vintage, of
24 ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 2, 3.
new moons, of Zion is heard no more! Thou sittest in dust as a widow forsaken, and berift of all her children!
Rivers, is a prophetic metaphor employed in describing hostile nations rushing like floods, into fertile and cultivated countries, and spreading destruction and desolation over the whole. No country on earth hath suffered ravages of this kind more numerous and destructive than Judea since the time of this prediction. The Assyrian; the Chaldean; the Syrian and Egyptian, successors of Alexander; the Romans; the Saracens; the Crusaders; and the Turks, have followed in succession -- They poured in their forces like rivers, not for settlement, but for devastation. They have literally spoiled the land.
The accurate and affecting account which Doctor Edward D. Clarke, has recently given of this country furnishes an exact and extensive commentary on this part of the verse. Travels in Holy Land, chap. xiii-xviii.
VERSE 3."All ye inhabitants of the world, and ye that dwell on earth, when the standard is lifted upon the mountains, look ye! and when the trumpet is sounded, listen ye!"
NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS.A new scene and a new subject are here introduced -- Jehovah dismisses from the vision the swift messengers, and oppressed nation. He submits to the eye of the prophet a view of the world and its various inhabitants, and with a loud voice, charges them in his hearing, to watch for his signals and to hasten to the field without delay.
By the stile and spirit of the charge, with its standard and trumpet, a battle is evidently pretended. By the ardour and extent of the address, its importance to every individual of the human race is suggested. All must appear as actors -- not as spectators.
From the place, in the visions, which this scene occupies, we are taught to look for this solemn summons, soon after the messengers shall have entered on their benevolent labours. Subsequent prophecies shed encreasing light on this short and pathetic prediction. Similarity of phrase and other circumstances lead us with evidence sufficiently satisfactory to refer the whole, to that decisive
ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 3. 25
battle, which shall terminate the present administration of providence and grace, and prepare the world for the last and most glorious dispensation of the gospel on earth.
It is intimated in scripture that the success of the Messengers in the conversion of the Jews shall be extraordinary and rapid. "They shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." Ignorance and infidelity shall yield to the powerful influence of the gospel. New born desires and united endeavours shall be produced of returning to their own land and of submitting themselves to Jesus their king. They shall commence their journey powerfully aided by the very nations that formerly despised and oppressed them.
The report of their advance, their numbers and their pious zeal, shall reach and alarm the churches of Antichrist. Alliances with infidel nations shall be formed, and they shall undertake an expedition with numerous forces to oppose the return and re-settlement of the converted Jews in Judea. Their collected forces shall assemble near the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, at the ancient Megiddo, which from the destruction that shall follow, shall be known, for ever after with the addition of charem, a curse, by the name of Armageddon.
The place of mustering, and the delusive arts that shall be employed, to engage the nations and their kings in this fatal war, are beautifully described by John the Divine: "And I saw three unclean spirits, like frogs, come out of the mouth of the Dragon, and out of the mouth of the Beast, and out of the mouth of the False Prophet, for they are the spirits of Devils working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of the great day of God almighty, and he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." Rev. xvi:13, 14, 16.
From Armageddon this vast and mixed army shall ascend the mountains of Judea, according to the prophecy of Daniel. "He shall plant the tabernacles of his palaces between the seas in the glorious holy mountain." Daniel xi:45.
On these mountains also Jehovah shall lift up his ensign, which shall be seen by all the inhabitants of the world. Probably he shall display some splendid meteor like the star which guided the wise men of the east to the cradle of the new Redeemer.
26 ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 3.
Its influence on every eye and on every heart shall be irresistible, but various. It shall fill the hearts of those who know and receive it as the Banner of their Lord with joy inexpressible, and they shall hasten to witness the victory of the captain of their salvation. But this ensign shall fill the army of the enemies of Christ with rage and fury; and perhaps impelled by those impure spirits which delude them, it may be employed, to lure them in confidence of victory, to their defeat and destruction.
The trumpet shall sound, and at its blast the armies and their leaders shall prepare for combat. "The feet of Jehovah shall stand in that day on the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east." He shall cry "assemble yourselves and come all ye heathen and gather yourselves together round about. Thither cause thy mighty ones to come down O Lord." Zach. xiv:4, 5. Joel iii:4, 12. How little shall the heathen think that God gives the word of command!
Let us now attend to this scene as described by John, Rev. xix:11-19.
"I saw Heaven opened, and behold a white horse, and he that sat on him was called faithful and true, and in righteousness doth he judge and make war. His eyes were like a flame of fire and on his head were many crowns: and he had a name written that no man knew but himself, and he was called THE WORD OF GOD, and the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses clothed in fine linen, white and clean, and out of his mouth goeth a sharp two edged sword, that with it he should smite the nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron."
Against them shall the opposing host advance. And "I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse and against his army."
The issue of the battle, on the part of the saints and their king shall be decisive and glorious. The sword which he shall employ is the word of his mouth, by which he shall command the artillery of heaven to descend, and in a moment shall fearfully destroy his enemy, and that, without hands. His followers shall have only to witness the strength of his glorious arm, that secures to him the victory, and to raise in gratitude and admiration the song of
ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 3. 27
triumph. Of the victory, John writes: "And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone, and the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse which proceeds out of his mouth." Rev. xix:20, 21.
The time when this battle shall take place, though predicted with remarkable precision, both by the prophet Daniel and the evangelist John, has greatly perplexed and divided the conjectures of christian interpreters. God it appears has fixed the period, and for wise reasons left the year in obscurity till revealed by the event.
In several prophecies, two singular sovereign powers, one in the west and the other in the east, both hostile to the christian cause, are represented as rising within the pale of christianity. Their reign is limited to 1260 years. At the expiration of these years the battle shall take place and terminate their reign, and existence. It is generally supposed, and supported by powerful arguments, that the Papal and Mahometan governments so diverse in their nature and progress from all others, hitherto known, are the powers predicted.
In the year of our Lord, 606, the Papal power made its first appearance in Rome, and the Mahometan in the very same year in Medina. If we admit this as the real commencement of the 1260 years, we may expect the battle in 1866. But it may be alledged that though they rose and received their right to their sovereignities in that year, they did not actually exercise it, nor were publicly recognized, till some years afterwards. For the years of sovereigns are numbered not from their birth, but from the time of their investiture and entering on the execution of their office. This will make the time of the battle so much later than 1866 as their legal entering on office shall be posterior to the time when they receive their right. Perhaps, as in the case of the seventy years captivity, the prophecy may have a double accomplishment.
About the year 1866, we may expect, if not the battle, some important event. The swift messengers must receive the call, some years at least before the battle, for the converts shall constitute a part of the army that shall follow Messiah Angels of
28 ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 3. $.
the American churches rise and make ready! It appears that you are on the very eve of receiving the call. Continue like the waiting apostles in prayer and preparation till your Lord visit you according to his promise!
VERSE 4."Then, thus did JEHOVAH say to me, I will now sit still, and I will now look intently from my habitation, like serene heat after clear sunshine, and like a dewy cloud in the heat of harvest.
NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS.Then, thus did JEHOVAH say to me.] This verse presents a new subject delivered in a new mode of revelation. The contents of the three first verses were submitted to the eye of the prophet and accompanied with explanation by the voice of God. They were fitted for vision as peculiarly affecting and pathetic. The subject of this verse is more abrasive and mysterious and less suited to the public ear; it is therefore spoken in confidence to the prophet himself.
The intention of Jehovah it appears, is to announce the plan on which he had determined to conduct the government of the world from that time till the battle of Armageddon. Hitherto his agency, in the direction and controul of human affairs, had been obviously remarkable. His voice and his arm had openly associated temporal blessings and temporal judgments with distinguished piety, and with atrocious crimes. The deluge, the overthrow of Sodom, the defeat and destruction of Pharoah, of Midian and of Senacherib, revealed the immediate hand of the avenger and judge. The protection of Abraham and of Joseph, of David and of Hezekiah, proclaimed him the guide and defender of innocence and piety oppressed. His whole administration respecting the tribes of Jacob, from their admission into the land of Palestine, till the time of this prophecy exhibited God, in constant action, as their guide, their protector and their judge.
The time had now arrived, destined by the wisdom of Heaven, when he was to withdraw himself more from human eye, and to conceal his agency, in the temporal affairs of men. His wonderful deeds had been committed to imperishable records, and by tradition had been spread among the nations of the earth. Predictions had now extended the view of the church not only to the days of the Son of Man, but to the end of time. The person, the character
ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 4. 29
the doctrines, the life and death of the Messiah, had been delineated with such accuracy, and in such extent, that the evangelists and apostles, have added little else ro them, than the historical form.
The vineyard thus prepared, the husbandsman shall withdraw his personal presence from it, and while secretly dispensing his influence, shall remain in his habitation waiting till the time of vintage.
I will now sit still.] The word, now, is introduced as expressive of the emphatic letter added, to the verb in the original. To sit still is a scripture phrase, applied to God when he retires from conspicuous labour, or seems to delay the execution of his judgments. On the evening of the sixth day when the external works of creation were completed, God is said to enter into his rest. The Psalmist, in his distress, frequently calls on him, to rise and scatter his enemies.
God has now prepared like a vineyard, the system of his moral government, and was about to withdraw his voice and his arm from the view of the world. His agency, though continued, was seldom to appear, except thro' the laws that he had established in his word, and in his works. He was, like the husbandsman, to retire from the public eye, into his tower, from which he might inspect and order unseen the affairs of his vineyard, and thus wait till the time of vintage.
About the end of the Jewish captivity, this change in his administration took place, and still continues. The ladder which reached from heaven to earth, and on which angels had for ages, descended and ascended from God to men, was removed. The spirit of prophecy, which had continued to instruct the church, in a succession of inspired teachers disappeared. The oracle which since the days of Moses, furnished divine counsel, in critical emergencies, became silent.
The visits of that God, whose presence shook the mountains and divided the waves, were repeated no more. No more, was his holy arm made bare, to humble the rebellious proud, and save the oppressed of the earth.
Infliction of awful judgments, on the criminal and impious was restrained. Jerusalem and Rome might surpass Sodom and
30 ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 4.
Babylon in cruelty and wickedness, without suffering everlasting destruction, by inundation and flame.
Ahabs and Jezabels have risen and tormented the Jewish and christian church, and have been permitted to prolong their lives in honour, and to descend into the tombs of their Fathers without tasting the signal vengeance of insulted heaven. How many despisers of divine institutions, have escaped the leprosy of Miriam, and the dreadful descent into hell alive, with Korah and his rebellious associates? How many priests have offered strange fire, on gospel altars, without being consumed at their feet, like Nadab and Abihu? The Neros and Herods, with the French, the Roman and the British persecutors, have drank the blood of the saints, and have not lost their first born, and their own lives like Pharoah in the execution of their bloody deeds. Nay, at the time when Jew and Gentile, when priests and magistrates, accused, insulted, afflicted, condemned and crucified his only begotten Son, God appeared to sit still, though the rocks sympathized with the sufferer, the sun and earth testified their horror, at the heaven-daring deed! The language of providence was in the words of the Saviour: "Let them grow together till the harvest."
Sons of violence, of prosperity and of irreligion, your present peace arises from the dispensation, and not from the approbation of God! He sits still, but he looks intently from his holy habitation.
Meek and faithful sufferers of the lamb, follow him with patience; there is a need be, for your present sorrows, that ye may reign with him in glory.
"God shall come and shall not keep silence -- A fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heaven and to the earth. Gather my saints together unto me."
I will now look intently from my habitation.] This feature of his administration denotes his constant attention to his vineyard. Though silent and unseen; "He looketh from the heavens, he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation, he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He considereth all their works." Psal. xxxiii:13, 14, 15.
Of the nature of this inspection, Christ himself gives specimens. "He that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, saith
ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 4. 31
I know thy works, and thy labors, and thy patience and how thou canst not bear them that are evil, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and not fainted. I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty; but thou art rich. I know where thou dwellest, even where Satan's sear is. Be faithful unto the death."
"He that hath the sharp sword with two edges, saith: -- I know that thou hast a name, that thou livest and art dead, I know that thou art neither cold, nor hot, but like-warm, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, and knowest not, that thou art wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. Repent, or else I will fight against thee with the sword of my mouth." Revelation ii. iii.
The eye of God sees the conduct and searches the heart. He records every action and will bring every secret thing into judgment. Though silent, his detestation of sin, is as strong as if he reproved in tempest and thunder. The service, the tears, and the pious trust, of those who fear him, are beheld with as much complacency as if an angel should announce, "thy prayers and thine alms come up for a memorial before God."
Bright sun shine.] This appears sufficiently literal and well adapted to the design of the text. The common version, is herbs. Horsley translates it lightning, Lowth, grass. Neither of them offer satisfactory reasons, in support of their versions. Lowth, with infantile candour, adds, "This meaning of the word seems to make the best sense in this place; it were to be wished that it were better supported."
The word occurs first, in the opening of the book of Genesis. God said let there be light and there was light. In every place where we afterwards meet with it, in Job xxxvii:11 not excepted, it preserves the same signification.
Bright sun shine, is indespensably necessary for the production of the grape. Vines demand the sunny hill. They must be planted in such order, that every plant may receive without obstruction, the genial rays of the sun. Without his potent beam the bud is never happily protruded, nor the blossom successfully unfolded. The world light, which by circumlocation, we translate bright sun shine, evidently is designed to mark this effect. Till the bud and blossom are evolved, the serene heat can be of no avail.
32 ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 4.
Light, in scripture, and especially in the gospel by John, is synonimous with life. "In him was life and the life was the light "of men." In the context Christ is declared the creator of the material world. Here he is represented as the author of the spiritual principle. If we could safely consider the expression as including vegetable and animal, as well as moral life, we might view light in this place as the vegetable principle. This would equally suit the metaphorical application of the phrase.
Like serene heat. This is necessary to cherish and protect the bursting bud and the expanding blossom. Cold at that period would chill; and the rude blast would scatter the tender embrios in the destructive storm. A judge on this subject exclaims:
Perditus -- immisi." -- Virg. Eclog: 11. 59.
The metaphor in the text reveals that gracious and mild government, about to be established, and under which we now live. "God is causing his sun to shine and his rain to descend equally on the evil and on the good." The labours and the exertions of the wicked, shall share in this serene heat and terminate with as much success, as those of the just. Impiety and injustice, under this mild dispensation, neither dread nor suffer temporal judgments. Profligacy and intemperance are supplied, with abundance, without feeling the rebuke and scourge of him, whose goodness they abuse. Honour and prosperity, dwell in the tabernacle of monsters, the destroyers of human happiness, who deluge the world with blood, and force the tears from those, of whom the world is not worthy.
God is furnishing every thing necessary for securing a generous vintage, while they are abusing them to his dishonour and their own ruin. "He leaves not himself without a witness in granting them fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness."
It is true, that fearful and frequent calamities take place under this dispensation. But these are not judgments inflicted from heaven; but the fruits which wickedness, by the eternal laws of wisdom produces. They form no part of that punishment which God as a righteous judge, reserves for the wicked. They resemble the pains and remorse of the criminal, and not the stroke of the executioner.
ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 4. 33
Singular piety, under this still conducted administration receives no particular external protection or reward. Her privileges belong to another kingdom invisible to the world, and disregarded by it. Her afflictions arise either from herself or from surrounding circumstances, from which God never intended nor promised that she should receive serene heat. Such afflictions when patiently borne shall however ripen her "for a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
Like a dewy cloud in the heat of harvest.] Harvest is a critical season to the vines. The heat, which the productions of the field require, to enrich, and mature them, would prove destructive to the vineyard. To mitigate the intemperate heat of this season providence raises an easy and seasonable remedy. In harvest when the days are untolerably arid, the nights lengthen and become chilling. This change of atmosphere generates copious dews in the vallies which surround the hilly vineyards. With the rising sun these dews ascend in fleecy clouds and veil the vineyard, refresh the grape, and oppose a transparent covering to the autumnal sun.
God in the text engages to provide dewy clouds of a moral texture, in the same secret and mysterious manner, for the shelter of the plants of his moral vineyard. As his natural dews fall alike on grapes of every quality, so shall his moral dews on his moral plants. This is a subject delicate and difficult. It distinguishes the present plan of providence. It extends alike to nations and to individuals, to objects the most magnificent and the most minute.
In how many instances, since the prediction has been uttered, have destroying tyrants risen, followed by infatuated nations and have threatened not only the peace, but the existence of the race of man. Intoxicated by success, exasperated by opposition, and hardened to human sensibility, by cruel deeds, they would have made the world a complete desolation, had not God interposed. His invisible hand spread the toils in which they have been intangled, and raised the apparently contemptible object that said, "thou shalt proceed no farther." Europe has recently furnished, and continues to furnish illustration of this subject that awaken the attention of the most torpid, and compel infidelity herself to
34 ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 4.
own that there is a God who now works silently but most powerfully.
The politic and powerful attempts to establish universal monarchy, on the ruins of the Roman empire, on which God had prophesied, that ten kingdoms shall stand till the day of the battle shall come; -- have all been crushed by an agency unseen.
The attempts of christendom, to extirpate the disciples of Mahomet before the period of their vintage, have all proved abortive. Infidel France, with her associates, could only wound without destroying the papal power, because her grapes are not yet ripe.
Ten successive persecutions, within the space of a few years, after the commencement of christianity, threatened to extinguish the christian name. How vain their efforts? He, who looks from his habitation, with his dewy cloud defeated the attempts. Errors rose supported by eloquence and defended by power that appeared to undermine the foundations of the church. In Athanasius and Cyprian; in Augustine and Luther, appear the dewy clouds, that cherished and defended the planting of the Lord's right hand.
Particular critical periods, in the lives of Charles V. and his bigotted and cruel son Philip; of Henry VIII. of England, and the house of Guise in France, furnish materials, in abundance to show the secret, but powerful agency of God in his vineyard.
In humble life, in domestic scenes, in individual adventures, evidences of the same agency multiply. Let the proud and arrogant Pharisee, who boasts in his morality, listen and he may hear the whisper -- I kept thee back. Observe the real christians, and on every deliverance, and at the close of every successful exertion, you will find him inscribing on his grateful memory, Ebenezer.
Enter into the cabin of poverty, and profligacy in the purlieus of populous cities, even there you must read a comment on the text. Mark that wretch with quivering lip, pouring out blasphemy and murder! view him convulsed by disappointment, by remonstrance, by inebriation and remorse! Watch his wildly rolling eye balls, and his hand grasping the instrument of death! The night advances, -- in darkness, his wife and innocent babes, whom he had once sworn to protect, standing in tears and terror,
ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 5. 35
without strength or protector * * * What are your anticipations of the morning scene * * * Mangled corpses before the frantic murderer! No! All is serene and smiling, and the storm forgotten! What could produce a scene so unexpected? The dewy cloud of your God. They were not yet ripe for misery or for mercy. The picture is not over charged. Such terrific scenes are often reacted. The result the same -- God reigns.
VERSE 5."But while the harvest was passing away, when the bud had become perfect, and the blossom had changed into the juicy grape: He cut down the luxuriant branches with pruning hooks! he removed the standard vine! he cut in pieces!"
NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS.This is a new subject, forming a part of the general vision and intimately connected with the preceding verse. The relation stops, and the vineyard itself rises in scenic representation, to the prophet's eye. From the description he must have instantly recognized the vineyard. Jehovah is therefore silent, and Isaiah under apparent agitation of mind, reports what he saw.
While the harvest was passing away.] Harvest in the original appears personified. It is represented in the attitude of preparation, ready to surrender all the fruits of its season, in full perfection to vintage approaching, and ready to receive them with joy. This personification, unnoticed, has been the chief source of ambiguity in almost every translation. It is generally translated before harvest. This though verbal, is not just. It intimates that the scene took place before the time of harvest, while it is evident from what follows that it was at the very close of it. The obscurity will be removed, if we translate literally, in the presence of, or under the eye of harvest. Harvest had not yet retired, nor had vintage actually entered the vineyard. At this interesting period, The calamity, The awful summons, The dreadful conflict will probably happen when the prospects of the devoted victims have become most flattering: This is often the case, at the fall and death of the prosperous wicked.
When the bud has become perfect.] This is the first important
36 ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 5.
change in the vine. The sun had acted with full influence, and had given a favorable birth to the bud. The serene heat had in due season, succeeded to the powerful sunbeam. The blossom had spread itself in all its beauty and fragrance. The destroying touch of cold and frost had not been felt. The agitating storm had not shaken off one of its delicate leaves. The embrio grape was completely formed and vigorous. All had advanced thus far to a happy vintage. Summer had fully performed her part.
The blossom had changed into the juicy grape.] This marks the second critical period in the vineyard. The embrio berry requires warmth, with moisture. Harvest often shrivels up the grape, and before, by time, it acquires its just dimension, and flavour, ripens it prematurely, and thus destroys the expectation and represses the joys of vintage. The vineyard had by the aid of the dewy cloud, escaped these dangers. The blossom had passed into the juicy mellow grape of swelling size, and generous flavour. Under such circumstances, the fears of the husbandman are all dismissed, and he prepares himself for the season of festivity. Such was the state of the vineyard which Isaiah saw. How delightful! Such is the condition of the prosperous sinner, who retains his riches and his blossoming honours till the evening of life. He views himself fortunate, and men call him happy. None deserve such titles, till the master say, come ye blessed!
He cut down the luxuriant branches with pruning hooks.] We may suppose that the prophet waited for the arrival of the husbandman, accompanied with grape gatherers, bearing their baskets with all the expressions of joy usual on such occasions, and with the vintage song. On a sudden Jehovah, in whose presence he stood, advanced with his ponderous pruning hook, and probably, as hooks are in the plural, with all his angels with him. No countenance of joy, no song. The countenance of disappointment and vengeance prevailed. A pruning hook in a vineyard at the opening of vintage, is an instrument out of season.
With this instrument, instead of the barren, he cut down the most luxuriant branches, regardless of their rich clusters, and lays them inglorious on the ground. Fruit and branch, the glory of the present year, and the hope of the following are completely destroyed! The name of the person, so conspicuous, in his terror,
ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 5. 37
he mentions not. Nor was it necessary. Who but Jehovah, the master of the vineyard, could perform this dreadful work!
We translate the verb in the past tense. The conjunctive particle, is rather emphatic then conversive. The scope of the passage, the great arbiter of tenses in the Hebrew language, demands this tense. A vision always implies the real existence of what is seen, and requires the translation in the perfect or present tenses. Predictions, for the same reason as they represent what is not in existence, always demand the future. Fuller observations, on particular grammar will not be necessary to oriental scholars, and can not be well understood by others.
He removed the standard vine.] This appears to be the translation of the phrase. It is designed to represent complete destruction of the vineyard. Nor root, nor branch of these degenerate plants, shall ever encumber, and pollute the ground. He cast them out of the vineyard.
He cut in pieces.] This expresses the marks of his displeasure, and of his vengeance, even when cast out of the vineyard. Death shall not terminate the disgrace and punishment of sinners. They shall be delivered to the tormentors. As he cuts, he will add, "Let no fruit grow on thee hereafter, for ever."
This scene, and this work is affecting, if confined to a common vineyard, they would mark great provocation and disappointment. But it rises in importance, when we know that it is emblematical of the dreadful destruction of sinners in the battle of Armageddon. Omitting other passages of scripture, and arguments on a point in which few differ, we only produce the following: "Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come get down, for the press is full, the vats over flow, for their wickedness is great." Joel iii:10, 13.
"And I looked and beheld, a white cloud, and upon the cloud sat one like the son of man, having on his head, a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle, and another angel came out of the temple, crying, with a loud voice, to him that sat on the cloud: Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: For the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the throne, thrust in his sickle on the earth: and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out, from the altar, which had power over fire: and cried
38 ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 5.
with a loud voice to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great wine-press of the wrath of God. And the wine-press was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the wine-press, unto the horses' bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs." Rev. xv:14, 20.
The agent, in this dread scene is described by Isaiah: "Who is this that cometh from Edom with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in his apparel traveling in the greatness of his strength! I that speak in righteousness mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine vat? I have trodden in the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none to help me. For I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my vesture." Isa. lxiii:1, 3.
This is the description of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He shall then lay aside his robe of salvation, and he shall clothe himself with vengeance like a cloak of war. The proud of the earth can make no more resistance to him than the grape to the pruning hook. The day of vengeance shall be in his heart, and fearful will be the recompence of that hour.
The stroke and the agonies of death, shall be the battle of Armageddon! to every obstinate rebel, to every impenitent sinner. It comes when every thing around smiles, and when the heart dreads no danger. The uplifted instrument may be now taking aim, to cut down the man whose eye passes over these lines. -- Cut down, uprooted, cast out, cut in pieces! Like the prophet, the heart palpitates, the frame trembles!
VERSE 6."They abandon them, promiscuously, to the eagle of the mountains, and to the beasts of the field. On Him the eagle of the mountains is glutted, even on Him all the beasts of the field insultingly riot."
NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS.This is the last scene of this remarkable vision. The wine-press
ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 6. 39
of the former verse is turned to a field of carnage, and the bruised grapes into corpses floating in their own blood.
This rapid transformation from the sign to the thing signified; or from the figures taken from the vegetable to those of the animal world, may at first glance appear violent and incongruous. But the description is not of scenes as they appear in nature; but as they appear in mental visions and dreams. The operations of the faculties of sensation and memory, and those of the faculty of dreaming, to which visions appear to belong, are under different laws and associations. In mental visions the principal link of association is fancied resemblance in the qualities, disposition, utility, and fitness of the subjects under review, or even of abstract objects. The man and the brute, the fowl and the quadruped, the loving and the dead, things near and things remote in time and in place, present resembling qualities, and the faculty of mental vision combines them and forms images the most fantastic. However absurd they may appear in our waking moments, they never offend during the operation of the faculty.
This appears to have been the case in the present instance. The colour of the juice of the vine, expressed by the indignation and disappointment of the husbandsman, was easily associated by this wonderful faculty with the blood of dying men in the field of battle, under the fury and power of an offended king. Examples of the same nature occur in other scriptures, that describe the scene to which the text relates. The Saviour accounts for the color and redness of his apparel at one time, because he had trodden the wine-press till his raiment was stained with the juice of the grape, and immediately after, he adds, that their colour was red, because he had in fury trampled on his enemies, and sprinkled all his garments with their blood, Isa. lxiii:1, 3. The apostle John, describes this vision thus: "He gathered the vine of the earth and cast it into the wine-press of the wrath of God, trodden without the city, and blood came out of the wine-press, even to the horse bridles." Rev. xiv:19, 20.
The prophets saw no difficulty in these mixed representations, no incongruity. Nor shall we, if we consider it as an inspired dream, and not as a narrative addressed to the ear, or a prospect submitted to the eye.
40 ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 6.
The faculty of dreaming was no doubt originally bestowed on man for the most noble purpose. It is not improbable that it was destined, as it is still sometimes employed, for enabling us to hold converse with superior intelligences. Our apostacy from God cut off this spiritual intercourse, and renders the faculty now like an organ without its legitimate object. This may account for its vagaries; but in the wildest of them, we cannot fail to receive deep impressions of the dignity of the human soul; and the extent of its powers! Attention to this faculty in its operations and laws, as they occur occasionally in scripture, and are developed in experience, is of more importance in unfolding prophetic visions and dreams recorded in scripture, than many suppose.
They abandon them.] The verb is here translated in the present tense. Every Hebrew scholar knows, that this language has no appropriate present. And strange, as it may seem to those unacquainted with the oriental languages, their future performs this office not only with sufficient precision, but with peculiar significance and force. Besides the prophet describes what he actually saw in existence; and therefore it cannot be transmitted in the future. Every succeeding prophet, in the old testament, and the apostle John, who wrote in Greek, in the new, where no ambiguity of tense can be even pretended, describe all their visions in the past or present time, all as having existence.
They abandon them promiscuously to the Eagle of the, &c.] The scene appears to open with the close of encouragement. The prospect fills the prophet with surprize and horror. They abandon them! On one side, the victorious army is returning in triumph. Behind them the defeated foe is left in the gory bed of death. Burial, refused by none but informed savages, is denied by the Prince of clemency, and his humane followers. They shrink from the touch of the bodies of miscreants detested by God and man. They account them so abominable that the house of corruption refuses to admit them. They must, dying and dead, remain exposed. The most doleful creatures of air and earth must devour, and decompose them in their bowels before they are permitted to mingle with dust. All around the heavens are blackened with flocks of birds of prey, rushing down from every mountain; and the earth trembles under the multitude
ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 6. 41
and roar of savage beasts of prey, hastening from their dark retreats, to the sacrifice and feast which God had prepared, and to which he had invited them.
"Thus saith the Lord God; speak to every fowl and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come, gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice, that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice, upon the mountains of Israel, that you may eat flesh and drink blood, ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the Princes of the earth." Ezek. xxxix:17, 18.
"And I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, come, and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men. Rev. xix:17, 18.
Who doth not see that these passages are descriptions of the scene in the text? Who can deny that they all refer to the same great day of the Lord? Who can proceed to the parts of the description omitted without observing the mixed nature of metaphors in dreams and visions and instead of receiving them with disgust, deriving peculiar pleasure from their associations.
On Him also shall the Eagle of the mountains, &c.] A contrast is evidently intended between this member of the sentence and the promiscuous throng in the beginning of the verse. A character distinguished for dignity and crime; for suffering and disgrace, is here introduced. By the repetition of the pronoun, an emphasis is designed. He is not only abandoned, but exposed to the eagle, and to all the wild beasts of the field.
Let us examine the description of this battle, delivered by other prophets, and the result will at once remove every shade of obscurity from the passage, by discovering the illustrious personage, who met the Prophet's eye, and held a place so conspicuous, that he thinks it unnecessary to mention his name.
Daniel says, "I beheld even till the Beast was slain and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame." A double punishment is here predicted in very forcible expressions. His
42 ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 6.
body first destroyed, and after this destruction it was given to the flame.
John is more circumstantial. "And the Beast was taken, and with him the false prophet, these both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone." Dan. vii:11. Rev. xix:20, 21.
The Beast of these prophets and the nameless personage in the text, are the same. The beast, is the representative of the Roman empire, under the dominion of the dragon, attended by the Papal power or false prophet, and composed of ten kingdoms, at the time of this awful event. France appears now, to be the representative of Rome, her chief shall probably command the rebel army, and shall be exposed to the examplary punishment and indignity described in the text. The beast and the false prophet are sometimes considered as one individual, as they were animated and directed by the same spirit, and some time as two, as they are naturally distinct, and sometimes acted in opposition.
The eagle of the mountains are glutted.] To glut, to be surfeited, to be satiated to loathing, is beyond dispute the meaning of the original. To summer upon, is a word found no where else in scripture, and rarely in the English language, never in a respectable situation, and even then with a meaning very different from what appears to be intended in the text.
The reason from etymology assigned for this translation is singular in the extreme. The word to summer, it is said, is derived from the verb to satiate, because that season abounds with the treasures of the opening earth. Then from this derived noun, they derive a new verb, renouncing its original signification, and adopting the signification of its parent noun. But they produce no other place, nor can they produce one, where this verb conveys such meaning.
On him insultingly riot.] This appears the uniform sense of the word, wherever ot occurs in scripture. But under precisely the same etymological process to which
This version first appears in the Vulgate Bible, revised by Jerome. It is probable that this excellent and stern critic, is the
ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 6. 43
author both of the translation and the reasons on which it is supported. The apparently mixed metaphor offended his rules of rhetoric, and he sought relief in his etymology. His success has been such as might have been expected. Few passages of scripture can be produced in which the unwarrantable liberties of the translator is more glaring. And in attempting to render the metaphors consistent, he has been reduced to the necessity of making the eagle, the tiger, the lion, the vulture, and the wolf to feed in summer and in winter, on the branches and clusters of the vine. Had he applied to the text, the laws of visions instead of those of grammar, his trouble would have been less, and his labours more satisfactory.
In the septuagint, the most ancient version of the Scriptures in existence, and from which the vulgate in this place borrows without benefit, the translation is thus, "upon them shall the fowls of Heaven be gathered together, upon him shall all the beasts of the earth come."
The spirit of the language employed breathes punishments intolerable and of long continuance. In this respect it agrees with other scriptures on the same subject. It is not impossible that God shall preserve the bodies of the slain, from being consumed though constantly fed upon by birds and beasts, as a lasting monument of their crimes and of his wrath, and as an emblem of that everlasting torment, without annihilation, to which the wicked shall be subjected, in the eternal estate. The last verse of our prophet is remarkable. "And they shall go forth and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring to all flesh." See also Zach. iv:12. Ezek. xxxix:9-12.
By no interpretation can such passages be applied to events on record; or, to the punishments that await the wicked in a future state.
The punishment of the Beast, their king, as exceeding in wickedness and crimes, his associates, shall be correspondingly dreadful and protracted. We cannot resist the impression, made by the text, and by similar descriptions of his being exposed alive to the torments here described. John declares he was taken alive. Isaiah says, the eagle, and all the beasts, insultingly fed on him. Daniel
44 ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 6.
says, his body, when destroyed, was given to the burning flame, and John affirms that he was still alive, when cast into the lake, burning with fire and brimstone. Can these texts, taken collectively lead to any other conclusion, than, that he shall actually endure tortures of body on the field of battle, till at last apparently consumed and destroyed, and yet alive, he shall like the dragon his lord, be cast into everlasting burning.
The classic reader will already have in thought recurred to the terrific fable of Tityus.
Relinquit ales, nequitiae additus,
Custos." -- Hor. Od. II. 4.
This affecting portion of ancient mythology received its birth in Phenicia, and we strongly suspect with Alexander Pope, that it was stolen from the same sacred fountain from which Virgil silently and slyly drew his celebrated Pollio.
The reflections which this subject suggests, nay forces on the mind, is of the most awful and interesting nature. Our bodies may not be exposed in that field. But before that day, they may if we enlist not under the banners of the son of God, be in similar circumstances. "Except we repent we shall all likewise perish." Who can think of perishing in that course of life that shall so soon associate us with those execrable rebels? Reader, will you dare to indulge in sloth and in irresolution for another day? Will you persist in your course of crime and dissipation any longer? Will you venture for another hour to wage an impious war in heaven, by rejecting his son. -- Know, "there is but a step between you and death."!
VERSE 7."At that time, shall a present be brought to Jehovah of hosts, of a people dispersed and pillaged; even of a people under terror in the very extreme; a nation of expectation, of expectation and trodden down, whose country rivers have spoiled -- to the place of the name of Jehovah of hosts -- mount Zion."
NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS.Jehovah, in his own person, introduced this remarkable prophecy and with his strong emotions of pity dispatched swift American messengers to the relief of his prodigal children, in long and deep affliction. In this verse, the prophet closes the drama
ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 6. 45
on strains of exultation, in view of the success, that shall crown their faithful services, in the glorious restoration of his nation.
At that time.] From the emphasis, generally allowed to the demonstrative pronoun, the text seems strongly to intimate, that the battle and oblation, shall take place on the same day. The victorious Redeemer shall hasten down from the mountains of prey, to receive with joy, "those who have turned away from transgression in Jacob." "For then shall the redeemed of the Lord have returned, and have come with singing unto Zion, and with everlasting joy upon their head," to be presented to their deliverer, in the place of his name. Then shall the song be sung with raptures unknown before; "Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the king of glory shall come in. Who is this king of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle. The Lord of hosts he is the king of glory. Selah." Psal. xxiv.
Shall a present be brought to Jehovah of hosts.] Oblations to God, the voluntary expressions of gratitude and affection, are services reasonable and acceptable. Such did Abel offer with tokens of divine regard. In this place it is evident from Isaiah, lxxvi:20, That there is an allusion to the yearly offering of the first fruits among the Jews, These consisted of the earliest and most valuable productions of their fields, and of their flocks, as an acknowledgment, that to God they owed their harvest, and all their other enjoyments. In the same spirit the swift messengers, in evidence of their gratitude for their success, present the first and most excellent fruits of their labour, an oblation to Jehovah of hosts, on the day of his victory.
In ancient times, it was customary for cities, nations and individuals to offer golden crowns and other precious gifts to distinguished conquerors. The gifts were always in proportion, to their esteem of the conqueror, and the value they set on the splendor, and importance of his achievements.
What gift shall be offered to Zion's king? His dignity and his conquests are splendid and interesting beyond conception, The text describes the oblation and leaves astonishment astonished! An oblation of a people in numbers, in personal attractions, in talents, in estimation the most abject and contemptible which earth supported!
46 ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 7.
God himself, with a divine pencil, has drawn their picture and history, and experience attests, that the features are not over-charged. But they were now transformed. They had, by the ministry of the messengers, been raised from their graves. The spirit of God had reanimated them, and furnished them with new qualities, with new endowments. Their husband who is their maker, made them "look forth, as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners."
Isaiah, transported and overwhelmed, with the view, returns to their former character, as received from God, and contrasts it with their present condition. In the ardour of his soul, and the glow of his description, he omits, in the first member of the enumeration the preposition OF, for I cannot suppose with others, and that without evidence, and without necessity, that it has dropt from the original text.
"A present of a people, long dispersed and scattered among all the nations of men -- Disowned by God -- despised by the world -- without personal charms -- without talents, without government, temple, priest, magistrate, as unseemly to the eye as the stones and rubbish of their own temple -- useless as branches cut off from their Olive. Behold now a nation distinguished for personal and mental attractions, united in one body, the glorious centre, round which all the tribes of men rally, seated in the country of their Fathers, enjoying Zion, in all her gospel privileges with the son of the eternal at their royal head, and you must acknowledge, This is the doings of the Lord, and wonderous in our eyes."
A PRESENT OF A PEOPLE, "robbed, spoiled, snared in holes, and hid in prison houses, a prey to every one, a prey whom none delivered, in behalf of whom none said RESTORE." Behold this people, receiving now the wealth and the honours of the world. "The labour of Egypt, and the merchandize of Ethiopia are theirs. Peace is extended to them like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. They draw nourishment from the breast of kings, they are borne on the sides, they are dandled on the knees, as one who is comforted by his mother, so God comforteth them. On Jerusalem shall he comfort them."
ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 6. 47
"A present of a people, on whom for ages, the terror of God and the dread of man rested; a people who ceased not, to discover restlessness and dismay in their countenance, and signs of continual apprehension of calamity and danger in their heart, a people who seemed to read enmity in every man's eye; and on whom the smile of friendship was never once kindled. Behold the change and admire the power and compassion of their once offended Jehovah. In composure of mind, and reposing unsuspecting confidence, in God and in man, they appear within the sacred enclosure of Zion. That blood that cried so long and so loud for vengeance and pursued them to the ends of the earth, now pleads for mercy and has driven all their fears away."
A present of a nation, heirs of expectation the most extensive and sublime, yet inheriting for so many years disappointed hopes in the extreme. They saw empires rise and disappear, they saw science blaze and science languish; revolution had under their eyes succeeded revolution, but change in the moral or in the natural world afforded them not one ray of hope that their redemption was drawing near, that God was again to restore the kingdom to Israel, or that the hope of their fathers was advancing to visit them. Behold now, the hand of the Lord that bears the torch of day, causing "the day spring from on high to visit them." His proclamation has gone forth to the ends of the world, "saying to the daughter of Zion, behold thy salvation cometh, behold his reward is with him, and his work before him, and they shall call them holy people, the redeemed of the Lord, and then Zion shall be called, sought out, a city not forsaken." Isa. lxii:11, 12.
A present of a nation trodden down, as the mire of the street, trampled under foot like the grape in the wine vat. God had made them as the "off-scouring, and refuse in the midst of the people." The nations in violence eat them as bread, and poured out their blood like water on the earth. Behold the astonishing revolution in the sentiments of men, as soon as God hath demanded them as an oblation. "The sons of them that afflict them, shall come bending unto them, and all they that despise them shall bow themselves down at the soles of their feet, and they shall call them, the people of the Lord, the Zion of the holy one of Israel."
48 ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 7.
A PRESENT OF A NATION, whose country the rivers had spoiled. Over their country, as over themselves, wave after wave, and inundation succeeding inundation, had passed. Her very visage so marred, that hardly one of her former fair and interesting features can be found. Her soil, like the flesh of one consumed by disease has wasted away. Her beautiful hills and her majestic mountains have become frightful, like the unshapely bones of a skeleton. Naked and bare, the eye recoils from the hideous and repulsive form. Vegetation herself as if affrighted refuses to ascend and to cover her naked shoulders and sides. The race of domestic animals and civilized tribes of men, have forsaken her. They have abandoned her once delightful abodes, to the obscene and howling beasts of the rocks and the forest; or to bloody and ferocious Arabs, more vile and savage than they, Behold the change which that day shall witness, -- A new earth is created. "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them, and the desart shall rejoice and blossom as a rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given unto her, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord and the excellency of our God." Isa. xxxiv:1.
A change so great and so glorious must affect with joy and gladness every feeling and benevolent heart. Should the eye of a descendant of Jacob meet these lines, they ought to fill him with rapture. It is for your nation that this scene is preparing. You love, you deeply love, your nation and the memory of faithful Abraham, and well you may; turn your eye to his SEED, to him in whose day Abraham delighted! Dare to take the gospels in your hand, compare them with the writings of your own seraphic prophet, your own unrivalled poet, and pass a decision. We hear you exclaim Jesus of Nazareth is Isaiah's virgin's son, the man of sorrows and the man that loved our nation, whom we have cruelly rejected!
To the place of the name, &c.] Zion is the place where the oblation shall be presented, accepted and lodged, with their king. For ages past, his name has been recorded there. Zion was the sacred depository if the records of all his deeds of wonder and of grace. On her east side, on those towering mountains, where, in her view, he achieved his recent victory of deathless fame, of fame which neither earth nor seas can bound. "Who can utter
ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 6. 49
the mighty acts of the Lord? Who can show forth all his praise. His name shall endure for ever. His name shall be continued as long as the sun. Let the whole earth be filled with his glory, Amen and amen."
The persons who present the oblation are not mentioned, nor is there any need. They must ne the same, to whom the charge was given above. They are the swift messengers, O nation with the overshadowing wing.
But America shall not be alone in this arduous, in this honourable employment. Every nation, whose churches continue faithful to their Lord, shall send their sons, and employ their substance in this heaven-planned expedition. Britain and Denmark have already united in this laudable enterprise. "Surely the Isles, shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring my sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the holy one of Israel, because he hath glorified thee!" Their white sails, their lofty prows, their equable and regular motion, their great numbers shall excite surprize. "Who are these that fly like doves to their windows," shall be re-echoed along Zion's shore. After the first fruits, a new set of messengers shall immediately depart from the field of battle, to gather in the remaining harvest. "And I will send those that escape of them unto the nation of Tarshish, (probably the East-Indies) to Put, and Lud that draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan to the Isles afar off, that have not heard of my fame, neither have seen my glory, and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles. And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering to the Lord, out of all nations, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain, Jerusalem, saith the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel, into the house of the Lord." Isa. lxvi:19, 20.
To this the millenium state succeeds. A period fully and frequently predicted, but so faintly described, as to admonish us to say little, and speak with caution.
The following texts seem to comprize the substance of what God has thought proper to reveal.
"Ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the
50 ISAIAH, CHAP. XVIII. V. 7.
thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the briar, shall come up the myrtle tree, and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off." Isa. lv:15.
"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb; and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion, and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the suckling child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice's den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." Isa. xi:6, 7, 8, 9.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people, and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her; nor the voice of crying. No more shall there be an infant of days; nor an old man that hath not filled his days. For he that dieth at an hundred years shall die a youth: and the sinner that dieth at an hundred years, shall be deemed accursed. For as the days of a tree; shall be the days of my people. Isa. lxv:19, 22.
In that happy state the Jews shall be as highly exalted as they are now depressed, and be esteemed more than any other nation beside. "Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of aliens shall be your plowmen, and vine dressers. But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord. Ye shall be called the Ministers of our God: Ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves. All that see them shall be acknowledge them, that they are the Seed which the Lord hath Blessed." Isa. lxi:5, 6.
"And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil, and satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years should be fulfilled." Rev. xx:1, 2, 3.
The Continents of the New World as a Land of Biblical Prophecy
A Land Shadowing with Wings?
(under construction)A quotation from Mrs. Simon's 1836 book:
Moses prospectively characterizes the tribe of Ephraim in his blessing upon Joseph, in language almost identical; "And of Joseph, he said, Blessed of the LORD be his land for the precious gifts of Heaven, for the dew and for the void place (abyss) that coucheth beneath. For the precious gifts brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon; and for the chief things of the enduring mountains and for the precious things of the eternal high places; for the precious things of the earth in its fulness, -- His favour that dwelt in the thorn-bush continues on the head of Joseph: and on the crown of the separated from his brethren."
cf: Simon's 1829 Hope of Israel, pp. 185-87.
A sermon on the premature and lamented death of General Alexander Hamilton
Christ's warning to the American churches a sermon preached January 12th, 1815 ... by John M'Donald
Language: English Type: Book : Microform Microform Publisher: Albany [N.Y.] : E. & E. Hosford, 1815.
Jehovah-Shalom, or, The peace sending Jehovah a thanksgiving sermon, preached April 13th, 1815 ...
Letters by John M'Donald addressed "to the Friends of Religion" : criminating the Presbytery of Albany and the Synod of New-York and New-Jersey ; with answers by John M'Donald; Jonas Coe Language: English Type: Book Publisher: Albany : printed by Charles R and George Webster ..., 1801.
The duty of America enforced an exhortation. Delivered at Cooperstown, on the evening of the national fast, April 25th, 1799. by John M'Donald Language: English Type: Book : Microform Microform Internet Resource Internet Resource Publisher: Cooperstown [N.Y.] : Printed by Elihu Phinney, 1799.
The faithful steward a sermon, preached at the ordination of Mr. Aaron Condict, at Stillwater, January 15, 1793. by John M'Donald; First Presbyterian Church (Stillwater, N.Y.) Language: English Type: Book : Microform Microform Internet Resource Internet Resource Publisher: Albany-- : Printed by Charles R. and George Webster, no. 46, State-Street, corner of Middle-Lane., M. DCC. XCIII. 
The first Pastor was Rev. John McDonald, father of Eliza MCDONALD b. c. 1776 Kenmore, Perthshire, Scotland (Mrs. Archibald McIntyre)
1887 -- Eastern Question in Its Various Phases By J. P. Weethee -- pp. 142-144 "Land Shadowing"