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to some unscriptural rites, in which they place the whole of religion; and are too ready to say to others, We are holier than you. But such a temper as this is highly displeasing to God, v. 5. Those arc often, yea, generally, the most unholy, who think themselves most holy. Let us beware therefore, lest, being lifted up with firide, we fall into the condemnation of the devil.
3. We see what a difference God makes and will make between his servants and his enemies. This difference is here specified, and their respective conditions are set one over against the other. His servants have comfort in their earthly enjoyments; true peace, pleasure, and joy ; and they are really honourable. While his enemies are arrangers to true pleasure; are, and will be, contemptible. Let God's servants therefore be thankful for his grace manifested to them; and let his enemies tremble to think, how much worse their state will be hereafter, when the righteous shall be comforted, while they are tormented.
4. When God is doing great things for his church, it becomes us to observe and rejoice in them, v. 18. He is able to do great things for them ; as great, as making a new heaven and a new earth; and he will do it in his time. He will rejoice over his people himself; and it becomes us to rejoice with them, and take a part in their pleasure and gratitude. In the mean time, let us rejoice in the assurance and prospect of this happy period, and in every instance in which religion revives, and there are added to the church such as shall be saved.
This chapter consists of two parts; v. 1—7, is a reproof to the Jews for laying such a stress on the temple and temple worship in Christ's time, with an intimation that God would change it. In this view Stephen quotes it, Mts vii. 49, 50.
1 rT,HUS saith the Lord, The heaven [is] my throne, and
JL the earth [is] my footstool: where [is] the house that ye build unto me? and where [is] the place of my rest? where is the temple that suits my majesty, and where I may take up my
2 rest without any thought of a departure? For all those [things] hath mine hand made, and all those [things] have been, or rather, are mine, saith the Lord : but to this [man] will I look, [even] to [him that is] poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word ; who possesses habitual humility and seriousness,
3 and revereth my word. Without this dei-out temper. He that killeth an ox [is as if] he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a Iamb, [as if] he cut off a dog's neck ;• he that offereth an oblation,
• Thii Wm one of the sacrifices used by the heathens at the death of their friradi. mentioned by Homer.
[as if he offered] swine's blood; he that burneth incense, [as if] he blessed an idol ; the sacrifices of the unbelieving Jews loill not be accefitable to God, but very provoking to him. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their A abominations, or, their superstitions. I also will choose their delusions ; they shall be slaves to tradition and be deluded by false Christs, and will bring their fears upon them ; probably the Montana, for fear of whom they crucified Christ; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear; but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose [that] in which I delighted not.
5 Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified : but he shall appear to
6 your joy, and they shall be ashamed. A voice of noise from the city, a voice from the temple,* a voice of the Lord that rendereth recompense to his enemies ; to the unbelieving Jews, ivho shall be left to perish in the destruction of the city; while the christians, being warned by Christ, shall fty to the mountains and be secure. The remainder of the chapter refers, I think; to the glorious state of the Jews in the latter day.
7 Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, 6 she was delivered of a man child. Who hath heard such a
thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth, to produce fruit in all its perfection, in one day? [or] shall a nation be born at once ? without growing up, without any pain and difficulty, or any ill accident? for as soon as Zion tra9 vailed, she brought forth her children. Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth ? saith the Lord: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut [the womb ?] saith thy God; Shall I disappoint the expectations of my people, and fail to perform my work, when every thing is ripe for execution? Then follows an address to gentile christians, who had mourned over the
10 calamitous state of the Jews for many ages. Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her, rejoice for
11 joy with her, all ye that mourn for her: That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory, or stores ; as if he had said, That ye may be edified or delighted, by
12 the gifts and graces bestowed upon the Jewish church. For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace, or happiness, to her like a river, and the glory of the gentiles like a flowing stream, by the liberality and kindness of the Jews on their conversion: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon [her] sides, and be dandled upon [her] knees, as young children are by a fond and
13 tender parent. As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem, by the re
14 turn of the divine favour to it. And when ye see [this,] your heart
■ This is addresser! to the believing Jews, who were excommunicated imn>r a v,rettrpe of zeal for God, and persecuted in every city to which their enemies Urfd access.
shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb; that is, the Jews shall recover their ancient strength and beauty ; accord ing to St. Paul, it shall be as life from the dead: and the hand of the Lord shall be known toward his servants, and [his] indignation toward his enemies.
15 For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his
16 rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall
17 be many.• They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves In the gardens behind one [tree] in the midst, according to the rites of Ac hud, or an image of the sun in the garden of Achad, called, One, or the one great being, (a name given him by the ancient Persians, who used to sacrifice seven bats and seven mice to the sun,) eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord.
33 For I [know] their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see my glory, which shall be displayed in converting the
19 Jews, and in destroying their enemies. And I will set a sign, or standard, among them, and 1 will send those that escape of theru unto the nations, [to] Tarshish, Pu), and Lud, that draw the bow, [to] Tubal, and Javan, [to] the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the gentiles; I will send some of' the believing Jews to convert the Gentiles that yet remain in a state of ignorance and idolatry; or to their own brethren that are not gathered tvish
CO them. And ihcy shall bring all your brethren [for] an offering unto the Lord, (as St. Paul calls the conversion of the Gentiles, /torn. xv. 16.) 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; 1 will bring them in a swift, easy, and commodious manner, and take care that they be conveniently accommodated in their journey.
21 And I will also take of them for priests [and] for Levites, saith • the Lord ; the Jews shall again become a kingdom of priests, and
22 take pains to spread the gospel. For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain; this new state of things shall continue, and the Jews, when once converted, shall
'2o remain to the end a faithful people. And it shall come to pass, [that] from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord : gospel worship is described by these figures; as if he had *airf, The stated seasons of worship shall be regularly attended upon; yea, they shall keep one continuedfestival, and be habitually
- This refVTM to th? destructinn of those enemies that shall come to attack the Jpw$?fter '\:ir settlement, buppobetl to be the Tartars and other b^ibal uus nations Irooi the Iuai lb, isl,a ire :dolareT». .
24 devout and holy. And they shall go forth from Jerusalem and look uponthecardasses of the men that have transgressed against me; they shall see their enemies slain, as in v. 1G, for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched ; and thev shall be an abhorring unto all flesh; men shall abhor them as they do the stench of a dead carcass; they slmll afificar a livetu emblem of the torments of hell, and God's faithful servants shall look ufwn them to excite their joy and thankfulness.«
1. T ET us learn from hence a proper temper for divine worI -* ship and acceptance. We should think of that glorious Being whose throne is heaven, and earth his footstool, as a spiritual omniscient Being; whom no temple can contain, or be equal to his grandeur; who yet makes every humble heart his temple, and delights in the contrite, reverent worshipper. Let us approach him with a holy awe of his majesty, and an habitual sense of his purity. Vain are the most costly sacrifices, without a pious and devout heart, and delighting ourselves in his commandments.
2. It is no new thing to see the best of God's servants persecuted under a pretence of religion. The same bigotted spirit which prevailed among the Jews, which led them to persecute the apostles and first christians, hath too often shown itself in the world since; and even to this day they are cast out and evil entreated, because they adhere to God's pure worship and institutions. While zeal for God and the purity of religion is pretended, their end is to gratify their own pride, covetousness, and revenge. Let us not wonder at such scenes, but have no hand in such practices.
3. We see how easily God can multiply and increase his church; and how much reason we have to expect that he will perfect his own work. He expresses this in terms taken from the strongest and tenderest of human affections. However glorious and extensive his promises may be, they shall all be accomplished ; and not one of his good words shall fall to the ground. This is a great encouragement to labour and pray for the increase of the church.
4. Let us do our endeavour to bring our brethren as an offering to the Lord. Have we devoted ourselves to him? Let us exhort and encourage others to join themselves to the church; even all that we can influence. Let us persuade them to firesent their bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. This will be an act of the greatest kindness to (hem, and a labour of love highly pleasing to the Lord.
• As this is a prophecy of events yet to happen, no wonder th-it there is m::ch dmfcn ss, upon it ; the ff^rlernl meamn< of these figurative expressions seems to ne this: that God v. i'J, by an extraordinary energy of his Spirir, awiken th-.: Jews to si arch t!;,-ir scriptures, and see Christ to be their Messiah, and believe in him. This remarkanle chmfrc inrhem shaft irflpresS Mahometans, heathens, and deists, (who may proh-tMv he more m'in.rous hereafter) ind rhey shall be disposed to emb ic» the (tnspel And they will have so irreat .1 respect for rhe Jrw». as honourably to convey th -in to their own land, 'which they will easilv compter. Soon afri-r their settlement there, a violent attack shall be made upon rrtesm, pioeVibly by the norlherrt Mtinni, who sh«lt be wddciiy destroyed by the power of Cad.
5. Wherever God has a church, the solefnn exercises of worship are to be maintained. We see this required under every dispensation, Abrahamic, Jewish, and Christian. And it is foretold, that in the latter day all flesh shall come and worsMfl бе/ore God. There are to be stated times of worship to the end of the world. All flesh are to come, men, women, and children; neither the greatest nor the poorest will be excused. Therefore let us not forsake the assembling ourselves together, since God commands it, and promise» his blessing with it.
6. As a proper conclusion of this book, we may learn to pity the case of the poor Jews, and firmly to expect, and earnestly to pray for, their conversion. It is very wrong to persecute, or even to despise them ; for a blessing is in them. Our duty is, as it is expressed in v. 10. to mourn for them. They are standing, incontestable evidences of the truth of the gospel, and of the prophecies of the Old and New Testaments ; being kept a distinct people, notwithstanding the cruel manner in which they have been persecuted and reproached. They are not cast off for ever ; God intends great things for them; and at length, as a nation they shall be restored, and all that mourn for them shall rejoice with them. Let our hearts' desire and firaycr to God for Israel i>e, that they may be saved.