Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

phet puts into their mouth a solemn hymn of praise and · victory. He représents them, as giving thanks unto the

Lord for having turned away his anger from them, and for having comforted them; as joyfully drawing living waters from the fountains of salvation ; as celebrating the stupendous work of their conversion and restoration, a work made manifest in all the earth; and as exulting in the glorious appearance of the Holy One in 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 forining the eldest branch of the triumphant millennian Church *.

- The part of the prophecy, which I have hitherto ex. amined, may by itself be considered as a perfect whole ; inasmuch as it predicts the restoration of Jadah 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 pur. pose 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 downfal of the literal Babylon, uses the appellation mystically alone ; and describes under that title the papal Roman empire, both temporal and spiritual, as is, manifest from the compound symbol of the woman riding upon the tenhorned beast, and (I may add) from the general context of the Apocalypse. Whereas Isaiah, writing before the downfal 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

* " This chapter (Isaiah xii.) is a hymn of praise proper to be used in that triumphant state of the Church described in the foregoing chapter.Argu. ment to Lowth's Comment. on Isaiah xii.

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

with the pro with the 12th chap, even indepen prophecy of

the nathem, an own land

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; 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 restora. ... tion of Judah from the Babylonian captivityt. 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 Judah. 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 Baby

m

*These will presently be noticed and commented upon.
| See Mr. Lowth's Comments on Isaiah xiv, 2. are

[ocr errors]

tani, 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 sup-
pose, we are to understand, that they shall acknowledge
the primogeniture of the Levitical Church, and both tem-
porally and spiritually minister to its restoration and sup-
port 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
I house of Israel; and every member of it will admit of a"

most easy and natural interpretation, if we do thus look : forward. Accordingly Bp. Lowth, induced (I appreWihend) by such a train of reasoning as I have here drawn

out at length, observes very justly, that “ the name of
Vacob and Israel, used apparently with design in this
place, each of which names includes the twelve tribes;
and other circumstances, 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 prophecy.extends its
views beyond that eventf.”. And, if it do extend its

[ocr errors]

* Matt. xxiij. 15. + See Isaiah ü. 1-5mxlix. 22, 23---18---Ixvi. 12, 19, 20.-Rom. xi. 11.--36. # Mr. Lowth, like myself, supposes Isaiah xi. xii. xiii. and xiv. to form one continued prophecy ; nay he even extends it somewhat ur warrantably, I think, to the end of chap. xxvii. He very justly maintains, that the Babylon of this prediction must unavoidably be understood in a double sense, “ After

views beyond that event, to what can it extend them ex. čept the final and general restoration of the house of Jacob? And, if it extend its views to this final restoration, as it plainly must do, then both Babylon and her king must be understood mystically. For it is said, that, in the day of that very restoration and deliverance which the prophet had been so fully describing, the people of the Lord shall take up their parable against the king of Babylon, But the literal Babylon has long since been blotted out of the list of nations. Therefore the Babylon, which is to be destroyed at the era of the yet future restoration of Isreal, can only be a mystical Babylon : and consequently its king can only be a mystical king of Babylon*.

The accurate completion of the prophecy, particularly that part of it which is contained in the 13th chapter, in the downfal and present state of the literal Babylon, I shall pass over as being foreign to my subject : observ.

ing only, that the day of its overthrow is styled the · day of the Lord, as being typical of the great day of the

second advent ; that is represented as being attended with signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, the usual prophetic imagery to describe political revolutions t; and that the prediction, respecting the present desolate state of Babylon, has been manifestly copied and transferred by St. John to the future state of the mystical Babylon. 1.

the description of those glorious times which should come to pass in the latter days, the prophet foretells the destruction of God's enemies, and begins with Babylon, whither 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 whoever carefully considers several particulars in this and the next chapter (Isaiah xiji xiv.), and compares them with the former part of chap. xxi. with chap xlvii. and Jerem. I and li:“which treat of the same subject, will easily find that these prophecies have an aspect beyond the tak. ing of Babylon by Cyrus, inasmuch as the prophets describe this judgment as a decisive stroke, that should thoroughly vindicate the cause of oppressed truth and innocence, and put a final period to idolatry and to all the miseries and oppressions of God's people.” Argument to Comment. on Isaiah xiii.

* Mr. Lowth remarks, that Isaiah xiv. is “a continuation of the same subject” as that treated of in the three preceding chapters, « containing a prediction of the utter downfal of the Babylonian empire and extirpation of the royal family there, under which description is figuratively represented the destruction of the powers of Antichrist; the consequence of which would be the deliverance and restoration of the Jewish nation in particular, and of the Church in general.” Argument to Comment. on Isaiah xiv. † See Mr. Lowth on Isaiah xiii. 10.

Compare Isaiah xiii. 19.-22 with Rev. xviii. 2, 22, 23. Mr. Lowth remarks, that from the tenor of ver. 19 " we may conclude that this prophecy

I have observed, that the mystical Babylon is the whole papal Roman empire, both temporal and spiritual ; which, at the era of the final restoration of Judah, will have coalesced into a grand confederacy of the beast under his last or Carlovingian head, the false prophet or the Romish hierarchy, and the vassal federal kings of the Latin earth. Such being the case, it may be a matter of some doubt, whether by the king of Babylon we are to understand the temporal, or the spiritual, chief of the Roman empire ; the Carlovingian head (which recent events apparently teach us to identify with the infidel Antichristian king), or the false prophet. There are certainly many points of resemblance in the predicted character of this mystical king of Babylon, which might lead us to conceive him to be the apostate bishop of Rome ; and there is undoubtedly no small similarity between his character and that of the

prince of Tyre, as exhibited to us by Ezekiel, who teach· es us like Isaiah to refer the overthrow of this prince to

the days of the final restoration of Israel *. Now the prince of Tyre, as I shall hereafter shew at large, can only, from the description which is given of him, be the papal man of sin: whence we might suppose, that the king of Babylon, who is to perish at the very same era with the mystical prince of Tyre, must be the papal man

of sin likewise, or the spiritual sovereign of the Roman · empire. This however, I apprehend, is not the case ; for

there is a sufficient degree of difference between the two portraits to shew that they cannot both have been intendcd for the same person.

The prince of Tyre is represented as having once been perfect, and as afterwards corrupting himself; as having long been in the holy mountain of God, whence he is at length cast out on account of his sins; and as defiling his sanctuaries by the iniquity of his traffic. Whereas the king of Babylon is depicted as having been uniformly corrupt; as oppressing the nations with armed violence,

kooks further to another Babylon, mentioned in the Revelation. This is : pregnant instance among many others, that the mystical sense of several pro.. phecies, that is, the sense which is more remotely intended, comes nearer to the letter of the prophecies than that which some call the literal sense, and think to have been immediately designed by the prophet.'*

* See Ezek. xxviii.

« EelmineJätka »