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him as a
the prophecy with my own conjectures, am obliged-seeing it is all one piece, a description of his very person and actings, so close that it is made to inhere in him and be
upon piece of his raiment—to hold fast the truth that it is all prophecy of the personal actings of the Son of Jesse. But if, as we have argued above, the passage of the Thessalonians be the quotation of or a reference to this prophecy, then the Apostle's additional word, “at his coming,” clears this matter from all doubt : for he expressly saith, that the wicked is to be destroyed at his coming, and by his coming. And if so, we have him coming to the earth to do the action of ver. 4; and the action of the following verses, which describe his government, is therefore an event after, and not before, his coming. And seeing that all interpreters agree that they describe the millennial blessedness of the world, we are left without an excuse if we hold that this millennial blessedness is to be anterior to his coming, when it is declared by the Apostle that the destruction of the wicked one is to be accomplished by his coming. This argument I count of the more value, as that passage in the Thessalonians has always been used by the church to demonstrate that Antichrist is to continue until Christ's coming, and to be destroyed by the brightness thereof. The Reformed churches used it likewise against the Papacy: and in this they were not wrong, for the beast cometh out of the Papacy, and the false prophet shareth with the beast in his portion. But all churches, that have put forth any form of doctrine, have agreed in this, that to destroy Antichrist is Christ to come. The conversion of the Papacy is a dream of Evangelical Liberality; and so is a spiritual advent, that precious absurdity of the same unlearned school.
To find out the thing which is intended by the twofoldness of the verse before us, I have reflected much. I can find no custom in any country of wearing two girdles : and if there were two girdles, we should not expect them to be around the same part of the body; one might be about the loins, and another about the paps, as in the Apocalypse; but here the one is about the loins, and the other about the reins, which are in the same region of the body. Nor is it a repetition of the same thing; for the one is the girdle of “righteousness," and the other is the girdle of “faithfulness.” The only solution of this difficulty which I have been able to make is, that, while the loins refer to the outward man, the reins refer to the inward man. This may seem fanciful, but a little knowledge of the Hebrew way of speaking will convince us of the contrary. The reins are commonly used to denote the seat of inward and deep emotion : "My heart was grieved; and I was pricked in my reins” (Psalm lxxiii. 21). The arrows of the Lord's quiver which pierce the deepest, are, both by Jeremiah and Job, said to have entered their reins (Job xvi. 13, Lam. iii. 13). What can be stronger than that saying, Rev. ii.
23, “ I am he which searcheth the hearts and trieth the reins?" Again, in contrast with what is outward (Jer. xii. 2), “Thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins.”
And in many other, I had almost said all other, parts of Scripture, are the reins used as the most inward part of a man, deeper sunk into his being than the heart itself. In this way I have been accustomed to explain that text spoken of our Lord (Psalm xvi 7): “I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel; my reins also instruct me in the night seasons; ”—that, while he walked all the day by the coursel of Jehovah, setting him always before him, he derived instruction in the night season from meditating upon his inward man: when all was dark and silent, he saw God guiding the current of his thoughts; he looked in upon himself, and praised God for what he saw and felt. If this be the true notion which the Hebrews had of the reins, as the seat of the very inmost affections, then the reduplication of our text is indeed very instructive: “Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins :" He shall rule all outward things according to the moral law of God. As the girdle includeth all the vestments of a man, so perfect conformity to God's will should include all the actions of his government, go round and bind in the earth as a cincture; and make all wickedness and iniquity, cruelty and malignity, to disappear. “And faithfulness shall be the girdle of his reins :" He shall in his inmost spirit be faithful unto his Father; he shall execute to the very truth the word of God: every promise shall have its accomplishment: not one word of all that hath been uttered by God's mouth but in him shall dwell and from him flow forth. Moreover, unlike those wicked and unfaithful kings whom he had removed, and upon whom no dependence could be placed, carried away as they were by their ambitions and pleasures, perhaps thwarted by a greater force and power than their own; he should be true as God, to be relied upon as God, faithful to his
very heart's feeling, without one single deviation; while nothing without should prevail to swerve him from his rooted purpose of perfect integrity. Such I conceive to be the simple exposition of the passage,--that all the acts of his government should be according to the law of God, given for the world, but which no one save Christ hath kept; which then all men living shall keep, or instantly be cut off: and that all the acts of his inward man should proceed upon the most entire faithfulness; no hypocrisy, no formality, nothing for appearance; an inward truth co-extensive with the outward act, a faithfulness co-extensive with the righteousness. And what the consequence of such a government will be, the Prophet straightway proceedeth to unfold.
“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' 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" (vers. 6-9). Those who interpret this of the effects of the Gospel upon the wildness of the human heart, do certainly come far short of the mark, besides breaking up the continuity and structure of the prophecy altogether, which all along, up to this point, hath borne a simple literal interpretation. When I say literal, I do not mean to the exclusion of the figures and metaphors with which it hath abounded; I mean honest, according to the natural sense of such language, plain or figurative, as the prophet useth. There hath been a state of the world applicable to the word of the prophecy hitherto : it has had its realization in an historical event, which either hath been or is to be. It is not in one in: stance an allegorical delineation of the states of the regenerate or unregenerate soul, but a regular prophecy of the Assyrian and the Messiah ; which so far hath had accomplishment in fact, and so far waiteth for accomplishment in fact. We hold it therefore to be the wildest empiricism, and utterly inadmissible, for any interpreter at this point to start aside, and say, 'Now the prophet leaves his great subject of the Assyrian and Messiah, and dips into the allegorical, to represent, by language proper to the Fairie Queen, Quarle's Emblems, or any other such poem, what will be the improvement wrought in the heart of man by the preaching of the Gospel.' And those who thus take it upon them to interpret, are, as might be expected, the loudest to decry all such as would bring them back to the honest and simple truth. Nevertheless, we most willingly allow that it is the province of the preacher to make his own use of all those historical events of Divine Providence for the end of teaching lessons of divinity and morality ; but first he must know what the events are ; and to lay them out clearly belongs to our present province of an interpreter.
Setting to a side, then, those allegorical interpretations where no allegory is found, we observe, that the only possible diversity of opinion which can arise, between men of good sound sense, in considering this passage, is, whether it be intended for a figurative or a literal description of the world, after the Assyrian's yoke is broken and Messiah's reign begun; whether, like the forest scenery introduced above, it be used to represent a state of mankind under Christ, without any respect whatever to the lower creation. It is common among the poets, and I have seen it also in ancient sculptures, to represent the blessedness of mankind by the figure of a little child leading the lion and the lamb. I have such an one before me at present, upon the cover of Palingenesia, which my admirable friend the author (the Lord keep him !) told me was taken from an ancient gem, wherein the ox and the lion are sporting together, and the serpent looking innocently on; and Justice, or the personification of some other virtue, writing on a stone table, is seated upon the summit of a wheel: which, though I be not skilled in such things, I easily interpret to signify, that, in the time when the age of righteousness shall come round, the unclean and the clean, the fierce and the mild, the cunning and the simple, shall dwell in peace and enjoyment with one another. In the Comprehensive Bible, which is now before me, I find a quotation from an Eastern poet: · Through the influence of righteousness, the hungry wolf becomes mild, though in the presence of the white kid.' And I doubt not many such examples might be found in every language ; conveying this profound truth, that from the breach of the law of righteousness all moral evil was introduced into the world, and with the restoration of moral righteousness it shall depart away. The great truth is told out, that the creatures were made subject to vanity, not of their own will, but by reason of us; through whom they shall receive their emancipation, in the day of the manifestation of the sons of God. Seeing, then, that it is not an unusual thing for poets and artists to body forth that blessed age, to which all nations that have any memory of antiquity look forward, by figures of the kind before us in the text, I have no objection to its being understood and interpreted as figurative language, containing under it the delineation of the perfect harmony of human society, the innocency of strength, the harmlessness of subtlety, the bountifulness of power, and the subserviency of all to the child of reason. The forest having been completely hewn down, the pruriency of nature regulated, the tendency of the earth to produce briers and thorns corrected, the forest being turned into à fruitful field; the figure were incomplete without the additional account of the condition of the forest tribes—the wolf, the leopard, the lion, the bear, the asp, the cockatrice-when their haunts were utterly destroyed. This want is supplied by saying that they shall quietly lie down beside the domestic cattle; the tenants of the wood and wilderness beside the tenants of the plain and fertile field, upon whose provender they will be conteni to feed; and all together be blessed in their conditions. To this interpretation I object not; I believe it will be so; and that this state of human society is contained somewhere in the bosom of the prophecy. Whether it may be included in the preceding verse, where righteousness and faithfulness, outward propriety and inward integrity, are laid down as the basis of human society; and whether another additional thing with respect to the state of the lower creation be here described, may be made a
question; but that the thing above stated is really and substantially contained between them no one can doubt.
There is a beautiful confirmation of this method of interpretation in the thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth chapters of this Prophet; where a certain portion of the earth, called Idumea
-which in the Apocalypse is identified with the ten Roman kingdoms, and expressly termed the land of God's cursebeing visited for its persecution of Zion. (xxxiv. 8.) [both literal and spiritual], is reduced to a most barren, noxious, abominable condition ; and into it, as a vile harbour, are driven all the filthy and foul beasts of the earth, out of all countries [“ Babylon, the den of every unclean beast and the cage of every foul bird"]; whereupon all other places of the earth, which heretofore these wicked beasts had tenanted, are called upon to rejoice because of the riddance which they had received, and to blossom like the rose. By which highly figurative language the thing meant is, that, in the day when God rises to right oppressed Zion, he will beat off from her desolate land all spoilers, “the satyr, the screech owl, the great owl, the vultures ”-that is, the wicked potentates of darkness, the strong and valiant enemies of Christ-and gather them all into a land of burning pitch and brimstone: upon whose dispossession that land of his, which had been a wilderness, shall become glorious as Lebanon, and excellent as Carmel and Sharon : and to the land, thus cleansed and purified, and blessed with budding beauty and flowing plenty, the tribes of Israel shall return. This glorious prophecy, which presents us Rome and her vassal kingdoms in worse than Sodom's desolation, Zion and the earth under her in Carmel's beauty and Lebanon's glory, giveth much countenance to the interpretation which makes these wild beasts in our text to be figures of the powerful wickednesses which are upon the earth, preventing its peace and blessedness : these being put down with the Assyrian the wicked one, the kingdoms which they wielded for mutual destruction shall all be guided and directed into the ways of righteousness, zealous to aggrandize the meek and the poor in spirit, who in that day shall inherit the earth. Or, as it is expressed in the key of all the prophecies, “ And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it, and the kings of the earth do bring their glory into it” (Rev. xxi. 24). Nevertheless, when this interpretation hath been admitted to be good so far as it goes, it doth not contain the whole truth of the
passage ; nor doth it exactly express the truth which it aimeth to express.
The key to these verses, 6, 7, 8, containing the beautiful description of peaceful and harmonious life, through all its gradations from the child to the serpent, is not to be found so much in the verse preceding them, which gives the cause no doubt of that blessed society, as in the verse which follows them, con