« AnteriorContinuar »
Apostle Paul in the ixth of the Romans. With these helps, therefore, let us endeavour to interpret the passage in this its higher intention.
Taking this key of interpretation in our hand, we would open the passage thus,—that Immanuel would prove a sanctuary to those that put their trust in him; but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, a gin and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The Prophet is called upon to place him as the confidence of the people. As he had been commanded to present him to king Ahaz for a sign of safety, so now doth he enlarge his discourse, and present him to all the princes and to all the people of Judah, in all ages to come as a sufficient help against all confederacies that might be formed against the liberties of Zion; to present him, instead of all confederacies, as the bulwark of his people. Having in strains of defiance insulted over all the nations, at hand and afar off, who should take counsel together against Immanuel and his people, he is commanded by the Lord to urge the people away from trusting in Assyria at that time, to put their trust in that Name which is a rock and a sure defence. And, although the passage hath received in the New Testament a special application to Immanuel when he had become flesh, yet no doubt it hath an application to Him in all time, from the time that it was delivered till the time when Christ shall come in his power and glory, if the people of God, whether Jews or Christians, had given heed to this exhortation and instruction which the Lord spake to Isaiah with a strong hand, and had trusted in Immanuel, the Son of the Virgin, there is no doubt that to this hour they would never once have been put to shame; and whenever, from trusting in him, they went about forming confederacies with the nations, it hath never failed that they have been snared and entrapped in their own device. His name hath ever been, and ever will
prove to be, either a sanctuary or a snare. And thus more and more the dignity and importance of this great prophecy appears. The Lord chose a time for giving it altogether worthy of the great hope which he was about to give: it was the eve of Judah's first confederacy with Assyria, to protect herself from the confederacy of Samaria and Damascus : at such a moment for the rising and falling of the nation, God thrust in, as its eternal palladium, the promise of Immanuel the virgin's Son: and having presented them with a pearl of such price, he would set it in a manner worthy of its value ; and therefore instructeth the Prophet to hold this high discourse concerning the issues which would come from receiving or from rejecting this the hope of Israel.
The discourse of the Prophet thus proceedeth vers. 16–18 : “ Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. And
I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.” In these verses, we know, as hath been said from the Epistle to the Hebrews, that Christ is the speaker; and though, like the preceding, they may have a local and temporary application to the times of the Prophet, who with his two children were indeed for signs in Israel-Shear-jashub signifying that the remnant should return, and Maher-shalal-hash-baz signifying that they were to return to the prey which the Lord would hasten-and the Prophet himself also being separated from the midst of them ; still this is not the great and principal application of the passage, which the Apostle expressly referreth to Christ, and to the children God had given to him. Taking this, then, for our key of interpretation, the passage will thus unfold itself:-Messiah, contented with the purposes of God that for a season he should be a stumbling-block to both the houses of Israel, saith, Be it so: be it according to my Father's will. If I am at this time only to have the election according to grace, and not the congregation of the whole people, let my Father's will be done ; let the testimony and the law be bound up among my disciples, unto whom may it be for a sanctuary. And seeing it is the will of my Father that the many should stumble upon the Stone which he hath laid for a foundationstone and the head of the corner, let it even so remain ; and let me wait upon the Lord, who hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and let me look for him in his own time.' These two verses receive a beautiful and distinct illustration from the xlixth chapter of this prophet, where Christ relates to all nations the dialogue, so to speak, which passed between him and the Father, when he ascended up on high; the first three verses containing the dignity which God had promised him; the fourth, his languishment and complaint, that, like Jacob, he had not received Rachel, the proper hire of Jacob, as his spouse: then in the fifth to the seventh verses the Father makes known to him the greater glory of the present spiritual dispensation, which was to be given to him in the mean time; and from the eighth verse forward we have that which is so longed after, even the gathering of the tribes of Israel, on account of which the whole earth rejoiceth and is glad. This strain of prophecy, in chap. xlix, is the enlargement of the same feeling which is expressed in the 16th and 17th verses, now under consideration, which represent Christ as the Master of a few disciples walking in the light of his law and his testimony, and he himself expecting the time when the Lord shall turn his face toward the house of Jacob; then the 18th verse represents him as the father of a family, who are set for signs and wonders
in Israel, from the Lord of hosts, who dwelleth in Mount Zion. These children are the sons of God by regeneration; those who " received power from Christ to become the sons of God, even those who believe on his name.” And the Apostle argues, that because we (the children) were partakers of flesh and blood, Christ himself also took part of the same: and for what end ? that “ by death he might destroy him that had the power of death.” Now, I would ask upon this passage two questions : First, is it not the same flesh and blood which the children have that Christ partaketh of? And, secondly, is it not for the purpose of dying that he partaketh of the same? And then I ask, thirdly, whether flesh and blood fallen, or flesh and blood unfallen, be liable to death ? If he had taken flesh and blood not in the state of sin, and not under the sentence of death, then was he as far from death as before he became incarnate; for Adam could not die until Adam sinned. He was made under the law, that he might keep the law, and take up the old testament, as hath been said above, and do with it after his own good and gracious pleasure: and he was brought into the condition of death, that by dying he might destroy death, and the devil, who hath the power of it; and so become Lord of death, to raise all the dead. And, by being gifted with the Spirit, when he ascended up on high he received power to beget children into that spiritual likeness which he received by resurrection from the dead. And these three things, as it appeareth to me, first, the deliverance of the children of Israel, the natural seed of Abraham, from the unanswerable conditions of the law, which he did by perfect obedience ; secondly, the delivery of all men from the power of death, which he did by his resurrection; and thirdly, begetting of children unto God, which he doth by regeneration : these three great achievements of God in our nature, do consummate the work which he took upon himself to perform. Now, besides these remarks, which I am drawn into partly by the use which the Apostle makes of this passage, and partly, I confess, by the deplorable ignorance and detestable error which prevaileth at present on these subjects in the church, there is another, hardly less important, subject contained in the passage before us, which is, what Christ and his children were set for: it is said, “ for signs and wonders in Israel.” And to this, I think, the Apostle maketh allusion, in the same second chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, at the 4th verse: “ God also bearing them witness with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost.” This appointment of Christ and his children to be for signs and wonders, is given with the same generability, with the same universality, with which the rest of the passage is written. Christ, and the children which God had given him, were to possess the law and the testimony; they were to keep the light during the long interval of the Lord's hiding his face from Israel ; and during this time it was said they were to be for signs and for wonders,” even as Christ and the primitive disciples were. I do not go into this matter any further, having no distinct warrant from the holy Scriptures; but it coincides with a conviction which is strongly brought to my own mind, that the church ought to look upon her nakedness of spiritual gifts, as a token of her want of faithfulness, as a punishment of God for her unbelief and unrighteousness; not the original constitution in which she was placed, and in which, if she had trusted in the name of Immanuel, she would have continued till this day.
And now, having established the great principles of interpretation in this passage, and the main drift of the prophetic discourse, we may proceed with the more expedition over the intervening verses, till we come to vers. 6, 7 of chap. ix., which contain the complete name, and under it the complete office and action, of Immanuel, the Virgin's Son.
During this while, Messiah represents himself as waiting upon the Lord till the end of that calamity, “And I will wait upon the Lord that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. Behold, I, and the children whom the Lord hath given me, are for signs and for wonders in Israel, from the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.” (Isa. viii. 17, 18.) Then he instructeth them in the cause of that fearful darkness which was to overwhelm them, and the only safeguard against it, “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep and that mutter ; should not a people seek unto their God for the living to the dead ? To the law and to the testimony.” (Isa. viii. 19, 20.) Then comes the description of the desolate condition and maddened misery of those who had rejected this counsel, “If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them (literally that no morning to them,”, i.e. say, that there shall be no morning to them). And they shall pass through it (the darkness) hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that, when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward. And they shall look upon the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness. Nevertheless, the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation ;” or, (as the Vulgate and Mede render this first part of the ixth chapter, which they connect with the preceding description of the darkness) “and to cleaving darkness, and from their straits they shall not be able to escape.' (Isa. viii. 20—22, and ix. 1.)
When these the fatal effects of rejecting his person, and his testimony, and his law, ministered by the Holy Spirit through the Apostles, have been fully declared, this wonderful prophecy proceedeth to open the dawning of the light upon that long and wintry night. And the Prophet perceiveth it breaking upon the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, in recompence, as it were, for the darkness of conquest and captivity which first set in upon that side of the land in the time of Hoshea, king of Israel. And here I must follow the Vulgate and Joseph Mede, in translating the latter part of ver. 1, as I did in translating the former part; for in our version it is utterly unintelligible, and mars one of the most beautiful and perfect prophecies in Scripture, " In the first time the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali were undervalued, but in the last time shall the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the nations, be honoured; the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” (Isa. ix. 2.) Whether this was wholly accomplished in his first coming, to which it is applied in the Gospel by Matthew, I leave every one to judge for himself; but to me it seems manifest that it was not, both because they profited little by the light then afforded to them, which can therefore hardly be said to have much exalted or recompensed them, but rather, as our Lord argues, aggravated their condemnation. But inasmuch as it points to the place where the great light was to burst forth, there can be no doubt that it is a very remarkable prophecy, though, in respect to the complete fulfilment, I have my suspicion that it remains yet to be shewn, against that time when the light of the Gentiles shall begin to become the glory of his people Israel, and “the Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings.” (Mal. iv. 2.) On this subject, however, I do no more than express my own conviction, while I feel assured that no one can doubt tñat of what immediately follows no part hath been fulfilled : and now we must begin to be more minute.
“ Thou hast multiplied the nation." That this is a characteristic feature of the restoration of the Jewish people at the future advent of Messiah, is manifest from almost all Scripture which hath reference thereto; as from Isa. xxvi. 15, “ Thou hast increased the nation, O Lord, thou hast increased the nation: thou art glorified : thou hadst removed it far unto all the ends of the earth.” - From Isa. xxvii. 6, “ He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit." From Isa. xlix. 19, 20, “For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inbabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away. The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the