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the midst of Jerusalem. Such we may conceive will be the songs of the ancient people of God, when brought to the knowledge of the crucified Redeemer, and when forming the eldest branch of the triumphant millennian Church *. · The part of the prophecy, which I have hitherto exarnined, may by itself be considered as a perfect whole; inasmuch as it predicts the restoration of Judah and Israel, points out the mode in which a way will be prepared for that restoration, hints at the overthrow of Antichrist, and describes the glory and happiness of the Millennium. Isaiah however, in a manner not unusual with the ancient prophets, of which we shall hereafter see many instances, resumes, in the 13th and 14th chapters, a division of his subject, concerning which he had as yet spoken but slightly; I mean the overthrow of the Antichristian confederacy. This confederacy he exhibits to us under the mystic name of Babylon, a name used for the same purpose by St. John in the Revelation. There is a difference nevertheless in the manner wherein the two prophets apply the name St. John, writing after the downfall of the literal Babylon, uses the appellation mystically alone ; and describes under that title the papal Roman empire, both temporal and
* “ This chapter (Isaiah xii.) is a hymn of praise proper ed to be used in that triumphant state of the Church described “ in the foregoing chapter.” Argument to Lowth's Comment. on Isaiah xii.
spiritual, as is manifest from the compound symbol of the woman riding upon the ten-horned beast, and (I may add) from the general context of the Apocalypse. Whereas Isaiah, writing before the downfall of the literal Babylon, uses the appellation both literally and mystically : and thus predicts the overthrow both of the literal and the mystical Babylon. Yet, so far as the arrangement of his prophecy is concerned, he seems to devote the 13th chapter principally to the one, and the 14th to the other; though, I believe, without excluding a double meaning from either chapter.
But it may naturally be asked, What is my authority for adopting this double mode of interpretation? Why may not the whole prophecy be applied to the literal Babylon? And why should it be supposed to have any connection with the prophecy, which may not improperly be thought to conclude with the 12th chapter.
I answer, that my authority, even independent of certain remarkable passages contained in the prophecy of the burden of Babylon *, for adopting this double mode of interpretation is the opening of the 14th chapter. It is there predicted, that the Lord will have compassion on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel; that he will give them rest in their own land ; that the stranger shall be joined unto them, and shall cleave unto the house of Jacob;
These will presently be noticed and commented upon.
that that the nations shall take them, and bring them into their own place; that the house of Israel shall possess them, as servants and as handmaids, in the land of the Lord; that they shall take those captive, whose captives they were; and that they shall rule over their oppressors. Now, when all these matters are accomplished; when the Lord has given them rest from their affliction, from their disquiet, and from their hard servitude: in that day, they are to take up a parable against their fallen enemy, the king of Babylon. These matters however can by no means be said to have been accomplished merely by the restoration of Judah from the Babylonian captivity *. Here the whole house of Jacob is to be brought back: then Judah alone returned; for it is little better than a quibble, as Bp. Horsley justly observes, to interpret the prophecies respecting the general restoration of Israel as accomplished in the return of a few scattered individuals of the ten tribes with Júdah. Here the stranger is to be joined unto them, an august prediction of the gathering in of the Gentiles to the millennian Church, the eldest branch of which will be the converted of Israel: then, if the prophecy be applied to the restoration of Judah from Babylon, a single proselyte was occasionally converted to the law; and latterly at least, as our Lord assures us, the conversion of such proselytes served
only to make them two-fold more children of hell than their Pharisaical converters * Here the nations are to take them, and to bring them into their own place: then the Jews were restored by the instrumentality of the Medo-Persians only. Here the house of Israel is to possess those nations that restored them, as servants and as handmaids; by which, I suppose, we are to understand, that they shall acknowledge the primogeniture of the Levitical Church, and both temporally and spiritually minister to its restoration and support f: then the Jews did not possess their restorers the Persians, as servants and as handmaids, in any sense that the words are capable of. Here they are to take those captive, whose captives they were, . and are to rule over their oppressors: then the Jews neither took any of the Babylonians.captive, nor exercised any authority over the nation that had oppressed them. In short, if we admit this part of the prophecy to have been at all accomplished at the return of Judah from Babylon, we can only admit it in a very lax and vague manner, in a merely inchoate and imperfect sense. Every member of it compels us to look forward to the yet future restoration of the whole house of Israel; and every member of it will admit of a most easy
. * Matt. xxiii. 15.
+ See Isaiah ii. 1-5-xlix. 92, 93—Ix-lxvi. 12, 19, 20---. Rom. xi. 11-36. VOL. I. "
and natural interpretation, if we do thus look forward. Accordingly Bp. Lowth, induced (I apprehend) by such a train of reasoning as I have bere drawn out at length, observes very justly, that “the “ name of Jacob and Israel, used apparently with “ design in this place, each of which names in“ cludes the twelve tribes; and other circum"stances, mentioned in the two first verses of the "14th chapter, which did not in any complete " sense accompany the return from the captivity of “ Babylon; seem to intimate, that this whole pro“phecy extends its views beyond that event *.”
* Mr. Lowth, like myself, supposes Isaiah xi. xii. xiii. and xiv, to form one continued prophecy; nay he even extends it somewhat unwarrantably, I think, to the end of chap. xxvii. He very justly maintains, that the Babylon of this prediction musť unavoidably be understood in a double sense.“ After " the description of those glorious times which should come " to pass in the latter days, the prophet foretells the dea “ struction of God's enemies, and begins with Babylon, whii thar God's people were to be carried captive, and therefore “ was a type or figure of Antichrist the great oppressor of " God's Church in after times. And wboever carefully cone “siders several particulars in this and the next chapter “ (Isaiah xiii. xiv.), and compares them with the former part “ of chap. xxi. with chap. xlvii. and Jerem. l. and li. which on treat of the same subject, will easily find that these pro6 phecies have an aspect beyond the taking of Babylon by “ Cyrus, inasmuch as the prophets describe this judgment as " a decisive stroke, that should thorougbly vindicate the " cause of oppressed truth and innocence, and put a final " periód to idolatry and to all the miseries and oppressions i of God's people.” Argument to Comment, on Isaiah xiïi.