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. * All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, [yea,] all ye beasts
10 in the forest.• His watchmen [are] blind: they [are] all ignorant, they [are] ail dumb dogs, they cannot bark to awaken the shepherds, or drive away the waives ; they neither reprove nor forewarn sinners; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.
11 Yea, [they are] greedy dogs [which] can never have enough, insatiable in their covetousness, and they [are] shepherds [that] cannot understand, that take no pains to understand: they all look to their own way, seek their own interest only, every one for his gain, from his quarter, from his employment, department, or
12 place of abode. Come ye, [say they,] I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink ; and tomorrow shall be as this day, [and] much more abundant; they not only run into excesses themselves, but tempt others to do so; confident of the continuance of their prosperity, and deriding the threatenings of the prophtts.
1. r I ''H E approach of God's salvation is a strong motive to be JL holy. The gospel displayed the righteousness of God, or his method of justification, and was the gljtd tidings of salvation; which the Jews were required to prepare themselves for, by doing justice and judgment. And now that salvation is made known unto us, it is our duty to do this; to be honest and exact in our dealings and upright in our whole deportment, out of gratitude to God for the salvation preached to us, and as we desire to partake of it; especially as it is introductory to everlasting salvation. Let us therefore awake out of sleep, and be active in God's service, since our salvation is nearer than whtn we believed.
2. We see the necessity of a serious and strict regard to the sabbath. Observe what stress is laid upon keeping it. It is indispensably required of all proselytes to the Jewish religion ; and of all who are joined to the christian church ; otherwise they can expect no comfort in God's service, nor will their prayers and praises be accepted. Let us then never waste any part of that holy time, nor neglect any part of the holy work of the day. But we must lay hold on this. It requires great resolution to do it, considering how many bad examples we have about us, and how many, even of those who profess religion, act otherwise. This is the way to have the blessing of God upon our religious exercises, and upon our daily business and comforts.
3. How gracious is Cod in admitting strangers and Gentiles to the privileges of his people! To bring those, who were once afar ofl\ nigh, and take strangers and foreigners to be fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of Clod. Let us, who are the descend
• This verse bepins anew prophecy, which in continued through somc following chapftr»; describing the lius which introduced their c .lamities ami ended in their captivity. The church is represented »s Grid's flock, and their i rinces :»nd priests as shepherd,, to wi-.tch over, feed, and defend it ; hut, because lhev i.riilected this cire, the wild beasts ait called upon to dcvo'ff it. Their neglect is desci hVd, v. Io, cite.
ants of strangers to the commonwealth of Israel, bless God For our Christian privileges, and look upon them as sufficiently equivalent for the want or loss of children, or any earthly good. Let us improve them by a conscientious attendance upon God's house of prayer, and by loving and serving him who hath called us to the fellowship of the gospel : then we shall experience abundant satisfaction and joy in all our approaches to God.
4. How miserable is the state of a people whose shepherds deserve the character wbich is here given of those of Israel. When princes, magistrates, and ministers, are ignorant, idle, greedy, cowardly, and sottish, they not only do not answer (he ends of their office, but are a reproach to it, corrupt others by their ill examples, and encourage wickedness by suffering it to go unpunished and unreproved. Let us earnestly pray, that God would preserve our country and churches from such detestable men; and that he would engage all magistrates to be a terror to evildoers, and all ministers to watch for souls, at they that must give an account.
The prophet in this chapter goes on to reprove the Jetas for their sin/t, especially their idolatry; and begins with observing, Лот tinafftcted they were under the lass of good men, alluding perhaps t« the death of Hczckiah or Joniah.
\ r I ''HE righteous perisheth, and no man layeth [it] to heart:
J_ and merciful men [are] taken away, none considering that
the righteous is taken away from the evil [to come,] and that it
2 i* a toten that judgments are coming upon the land. He shall enter into peace, or, к о in fieace: they shall rest in their beds, [each one] walking [in] his uprightness; or, they shall reit in their bed» who have walked in uprightnens.,
3 But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore; ye pretend to be the aeed of Abraham,
4 but are id'j/aters, and the children of idolaters. Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, [and] draw out the tongue? ridiculing God's xervanis, especially Us prophète; making ivry mouth«, and hanging out your tongue» to insult them: [are] ye not children of transgression, a seed of
5 falsehood, or, a faite teed? Inflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree, slaying the children in the values under
6 the clifts of the rocks? Among the smooth [stones] of the stream [is] thy portion; they, they [an.] thy lot: evtn to them hast thou poured a drink offering, thou hast offered a meat offering; you have erected pillars to idol», and put r Arm uf> in grove» and Лу rivers, being quite given up to superstition and idolatry. Should I receive comfort in these? in such a people, and from
7 such services as these? Upon a lofty and high mountain hast thou set thy bed; thou hast built thy temples em! altars for idolf
upon high places: even thither wentest thou up to offer sacrifice.
8 Behind the doors also and the posts hast thou set up thy remembrance, thy domestic idols: for thou hast discovered [thyself to another] than me, and art gone tip; that is, leaving me, thou art gone lifi into an adulterous bed; thou hast enlarged thy bed, and made thee [a covenant] with them; thou lovedst their bed where thou sawest it; thou hast multiplied thine idols and altars,
9 and taken fiattern by the idols of others. And thou wentest to the king with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers far off, and didst debase [thyself even] unto hell; thou hast sent presents to the kings of Assyria and Hgyfit, in
10 the most mean and abject manner. 'Thou art wearied in the greatness of thy way; [yet] saidst thou not, There is no hope; courting one ally after another, yet wilt not own that it is in vain: thou hast found the life of thine hand; therefore thou wast not grieved ; thou hast found out a way of firesrrving thy life for the present, and therefore hast rested in that, without considering that
11 it will be ufion the whole ruinous to thee. And of whom hast thou been afraid or feared, that thou hast lied, and hast not remembered me, nor laid [it] to thy heart I why hast thou been afraid of injury from idols and idolatrous kings, and proved false to me? have not I held my peace even of old, forbearing to furnish, and treating thee with the utmost tenderness, and thou fearest me not?
12 but hast shamefully abused my patience and goodness. I w ill declare thy righteousness, and thy works ; make it evidently afifiear, by my righteous judgments upon thee, that they are very different
from thy own conceit of them; for they shall not profit thee, but
13 prove thy ruin. When thou criest, let thy companies, thy idols or allies, deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take [them :] but he that pulteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain; he
14 shall continue in the land, or return from caplivity; And shall say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people; all impediments shall be removed, and a way be made for their safe and honourable rr
15 turn. For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabitcth eternity, whose name [is] Holy; I dwell in the high and holy [place,] with him also [that is] of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to rtvive the heart of the contrite ontts; to afford them support and comfort in all their dif
16 ftcutties and afflictions. Tor I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls [which] I have made, lest they should grow impatient, and their affliction should become insupportable, and I should only
17 destroy my creatures. Tor the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went
18 on frowardly in the way of his heart.• I have seen his ways,
• Covetousnes, win a prevailing sin in Israel, therefore They were afflicted. Sur grew worse rather than In-ltrr t,v the correction. Yet T.cmi would have compassinn ui^on them.out ot rigird to the few giKxl ratli that were among thun.
and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners; that is, to those who mourn for tin and the desolations tf their land, which were the effects of it.
19 I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to [him that is] far off, and [to him that is] near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him; I will give occasion for joy and ftraise to the fiious Jews in
20 every /ilace, and heal all their grievances. But the wicked [are] like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt; their guilty conscience shall be a constant source of uneasiness, tike the troubled sea, which can never rest, and which, though it may sometimes a/iftear clear on the surface, hath a thick sediment at the botinm, which is worked uft when storms and tem
21 /ifKts arise, and is all Jilth and confusion. [There is] no peace, saith my God, to the wicked; whatever external /irosfierity they rnj'ju, and though they may fiartake ever so largely of the temfioral tlessing.t of my (teofile.
l. T T is displeasing to God when the death ofhis servants is not JL laid to heart. They must die as well as others; sometimes he takes away many of them nearly together; and it is a bad omen to the public, a sign of God's displeasure, and that judgments are coming. The loss is very great to the public, as well as to their families. Not to lament it, and take warning by it, shows that men are insensible of the importance of religion, and unconcerned about it; that they are destitute of zeal for the glory of God, and the interest of the church. When God is exercising us with such scenes, |;;t us be humble under his mighty hand; lament the public loss; be more zealous to make it up; and earnestly pray, Helft, Lord, for the geeilt/ man reaseth.
2. When sinners contemn God, when they despise his laws, affront his messengers, or neglect his institutions, they forget what a great and awful Being he is; that he is possessed of almighty power and inflexible justice; they think him altogether such a one an themselves. But they will find, that the Lord, whom they provoke lo aiiger, is stronger than they; and that it is a fearful thing to full into the hands of the living Gor/.
3. There is gre:\t reason to lament the obstinacy of sinners in an ovil way. The conduct of these idolaters is very like the conduct of wicked men in general. They follow after happiness in this or the olher creature enjoyment; are v>rari< d in the greainctts of their way; ave always disappointed, yet will not give out, they will try sonic other. They take unwearied pains to gratify their lusts; and, because it gives them so.ne present pleasure, they never think of the consequence, and that in the mean time they are dishonouring their rational natures, and debasing themselves even to hell. They had rather displease God than man, and be exposed to his vengeance, than receive and improve his mercies. But when trouble and death come upon them, it will be in vain to cry to their companions, all will end in disappointment, anguish, and despair.
4. Let us adore the condescension of God, in his regard to humble and contrite souls. What a noble description is here of God 1 as the eternal Being, who only hath immortality; who is infinitely holy, and exalted above all creatures, and dwells in the glorious heavens. Yet he respects and loves the lowly; visits them with his comforts and his favour; condescends to their weaknesses, mitigates their afflictions, and gives support under them, fíe mill not contend for ever, for he knoiaeth thtirframe, he remembereth that th-y are but dust. Let us then cherish that humble and contrite spirit, which God will not despise.
5. The state of the wicked is a very deplorable one, and what we should all most carefully avoid. The wicked Jews, whether in Babylon or Jerusalem, are assured that they should have no comfort; and the case is the same now with all the wicked. There is a principle of uneasiness and misery within; a guilty conscience, turbulent passions, and fears of future wrath. They are often full of terror amidst their greatest mirth and gaiety; and especially in times of affliction, and in the near views of death. May we then be solicitous to be in a state of peace with God and our own consciences. To repent, and return to him, is the way to obtain it. Let us mai k the perfect man, and behold the upright; his conscience is easy, hi» hopes are lively, and his end will be peace.
This elegant chapter contains a severe reflrcofqf the Jcn-.i en account of their vices, ami particularly of their hypocrisy in their fasts mid ceremonial observances. It clearly points out their duty, and ffirfi large promises of happiness and prosperity.
\ /"4 R Y aloud, О my prophet, spare not, lift чр thy voice like: V-Л a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins, especially in their religiovn vor
2 ship. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their Got!: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; are desirous of knowing their duty; they take delight in approEchtng to God; in coming to my temfile and //restating their sacn
3 ßces. Wherefore have we fasted, and performed ail other pari* of external worship, [say they,] and tbou seest net ? [wherefore] have we afflicted our soul, and thoti takest no knowledge? Behold, the reason is, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure.', and exact all your labour; you ßnd wKeremth to pleas? yaw
4 stlies, and yet are rigorous in burdening ci/iern. Behold, ye fast for strife and débat'-, and to smite with the fist of uitktdntss, ¡hat it, with a wick. J fis!, handling t/ie poor with severity': yc