Page images

-17 sufficient for a burnt offering. All nations, if they were assem

bled together to attend this great sacrifice, before him (are) as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing and

vanity. To caution the Jews against the idolatry of the Chalde. 18 ans, he proceeds; To whom then will ye liken God? or what 19 likeness will ye compare unto him ? The workman melteth a

graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, 20 and casteth silver chains to adorn it, or fasten it to a pillar. He

that [is] so impoverished that he hath no oblation to offer to the temple, will yet have a god, and therefore he chooseth a tree (that) will not rot ; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to pre.

pare a graven image [that] shall not be moved ; he thinks a 21 wooden god better than none. Have ye not known ? even you,

idolatrous Gentiles? have ye not heard ? hath it not been told vou from the beginning ? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? have you not learned by observation, by reflection, by tradition from the earliest ages, that the great God

Jehovah is the creator, and governor of the world, and of such in. 22 finite perfections, as not to be represented by any image? (It is)

he that sitteth upon the circle, or globe, of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof (are] as grasshoppers, the most inconsiderable insects : that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, or canopy, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in, as easily as a man

can open a curtain of a tent in the morning, and close it at night : 23 That bringeth the princes to nothing ; he maketh the judges of

the earth as vanity ; can easily confound, depose, and destroy the 24 greatest princes. Yea, they shall not be planted ; yea, they shall

not be sown : yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth : and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble : a beautiful gradation ; they shall have no power ; or, if they possess a little, yet

they shall have no lasting root; or, if they should continue for a 25 while, yet he will blow upon them, and destroy them. To whom

then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal ? saith the Holy

One. 26 Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these

[things,] that bringeth out their host by number : he calleth them all by names, he is acquainted with them, and commands them, as a general does his army, by the greatness of his might, for that she is) strong in power ; not one faileth ; nor one of

them shall wear out, or need repairing, or fail to answer his pur. 27 poses. Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, in thy

captivity, saying, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judg

ment is passed over from my God ? my affairs are perplexed, 28 and sunk, so that God cannot help me. Hast thou not known

belter than any other people ? hast thou not heard, [that] the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary ? he doth not, by length of time grow inactive, or negligent; though he delays, he neither wants ability nor power ; [there is) no searching of his understanding ; 29 no finding out the reasons of his dispensations. He giveth power

to the faint ; and to (them that have] no might he increaseth

strength ; he gives abundance of strength, therefore can give it 10 30 you in your affliction, though you are brought ever so low. Even

the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall

utterly fall; those of the best natural abilities, and who are most 31 confident in themselves : But they that wait upon the LORD, in

the way of faith, diligence, and prayer, shall renew (their) strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles ; they shall run, and not be weary ; [and] they shall walk, and not faint ; they shall grow stronger and stronger, surmount all diffi. culties, and obtain the blessings which they desire.


1. T T is good to think of the difference between the glory and

1 power of man, and that of God. All the glory of man is soon blasted, his power weak, his wisdom soon confounded, his beauty fading, and his promises fail; but JEHOVAH is the all wise and almighty God, faithful and true, and his word stands for ever. Let us imprint these thoughts upon our minds, that we may not be fond of the fading glories of this world ourselves, nor envy or admire them in others; but make God our portion, and his word our treasure ; it will be a source of everlasting security and joy.

2. With what veneration ought we to think and speak of this great and glorious Being! We have here some of the sublimest de. scriptions of the Deity in the whole Bible. When we read or think of them, they should fill us with awful admiration of his supreme majesty ; should engage us to worship him with the utmost reverence, since we are nothing, yea, less than nothing, in his sight; and to admire his condescension in giving his Son to be our saviour; the purposes of whose appearance are so important, and whose tenderness is so great.

3. It is frequently the case that those who can spare nothing for the service of God, can spare much for the service of their lusts, Those are remarkable words in v. 20. He who is so poor that he cannot afford a sacrifice for God's temple, can spare money to pur. chase an idol, of rich materials, and exquisite workmanship ; and the rich will spare no cost upon their gods. There are many idolaters of this kind among us, who make their money, their pleasures, and their bellies, their gods. They care not what pains they take, or what expense they are at, in the worship of these deities, but are never at a loss for objections against charitable donations, nor backward to plead poverty, when any thing is wanted for the house o: service of God. These will justly be condemned by the zcal and generosity of idolaters ; and the account of their expenses will make a detestable figure, when God comes to reckon with them at the great day.

4. How firmly should we trust the promises of God, and how cheerfully should we wait upon him! In times of affliction we are too apt to say, as v. 27. My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God. We indulge many foolish sears, and often make ourselves uneasy, which would be prevented by considering who God is, and what he hath promised. We should learn to trust in him, and not in our own or in others' wisdom and strength. Let young men remember, that without divine help they will faint and be weary in their christian course ; . therefore wait upon God, and go forth in his strength: and let us all consider, that the more faithfully we employ what strength he gives us in his service, the more shall we find it increase. The righteous shall hold on his way, and they that are upright in heart shall waz slronger and stronger.


In this and some of the following chapters, God makes a solemn chalLenge to the worshippers of idols, to show such wisdom, power, and goodness in their gods as he possessed, in order to convince the Is. raelites of the fully of idolatry, and encourage their hope of deliverance from their captivity from him alone.

IN EEP silence before me, o islands ; and let the peoplo

1. renew (their) strength, that is, muster up all their argu. ments : let them come near ; then let them speak : let us come 2 near together to judgment. Who raised up the righteous

(man) from the east, called him to his foot, gave the nations before him, and made Chim] rule over kings ?* he gave (them)

as the dust to his sword, [and] as driven stubble to his bow. 3 He pursued them, [and] passed safely ; [even) by the way [that]

he had not gone with his feet; he shall pursue his enemies 4 through sirange, unknown countries. Who hath wrought and

done (il,] calling the generations from the beginning ? I the Lord, the first, and with the last ; 1 [um] he who order the seve

eral successions of princes, and the seasons of bringing about their 5 designs. The isles saw [it] and feared ; they were astonished

at Cyrus's rising glory and victories ; the ends of the earth were

afraid, drew near, and came ; they joined in alliance to check his 6 growing greatness. They helped every one his neighbour ; and 7 (every one) said to his brother, Be of good courage. So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, [and] he that smootheth [with] the hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, It [is] ready for the sodering : and he fastened it with nails, (that) it

should not be moved ; they sought help of their gods, and made 8 new ones to pray 10. But thou, Israel, (art) my servant, Jacob

whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend ; be 7:06

• This is generally understood of Abraham ; but it seems rather to refer to Cyrus, who is said, in prophetic language, to be raised up, that is, he should certainly be so : he is called righteous, because it was to execute God's righteousness m the destruction of Ea.ylon.

9 afraid of them, for I will defend thee. (Thou) whom I have taken

from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief mem thereof, and said unto thee, Thou (art] my servant ; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away ; I will do it, and not cast

thee of, as thou hast reason to expec:, for thy transgressions. 10 Fear thou not ; for I (am) with thee : be not dismayed ; for

I (am) thy God: I will strengthen thee ; yea, I will help thee ;

yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteous.Il ness ; by my power and faithfulne88. Behold, all they that were

incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they

shall be as nothing ; and they that strive with thee shall perish. 12 Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, (even] them

that contended with thee : they that war against thee shall be

as nothing, and as a thing of nought ; they shall be brought to 13 ulter destruction. For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right

hand, saying unto thee, Fear not ; I will help thee; I will guide 14 and strengthen thee. Fear not, thou worm Jacob, (and) ye

men of Israel, though weak, despicable, and trampled upon ; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, I who have

delivered, and an still faithful, even the Holy One of Israel. 15 Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument

having teeth : thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat (them)

small, and shalt make the hills as chaff ; that is, the greater and 16 lesser kingdoms that oppose thee, Thou shalt fan them, and the

wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter

them : and thou shalt rejoice in the LORD, (and) shalt glory in 17 the Holy One of Israel. (When] the poor and needy seek

water, and (there is none, (and) their tongue faileth for thirst,

I the LORD will hear them, [1] the God of Israel will not for18 sake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in

the midst of the vallies : I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water ; I will supply the capa

lives in their return from Babylon : an allusion 10 what was done 19 for the Israeliles in the wilderness. I will plant in the wilderness

the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree ; I will set in the desert the fir tree, [and] the pine, and the box: tree together; I will make the face of nature beautiful; there

shall be trees bolh 10 sheller and refresh them ; intimating that 20 there should be a glorious alteration in their circumstances. That

they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that they may help one another 10 understand the divine dispensations, and that the hand of the LORD hath done this, and the

Holy One of Israel hath created it ; that God alone hath done it, 21 and no other. Produce your cause, saith the LORD ; bring forth

your strong [rcasons,) saith the King of Jacob ; challenging 22 idolaters and their gods to declare and do what he had done. Let

them bring [them) forth and show us what shall happen : let them show the former things, what they (be,) that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them ; or declare us things for to come ; let them foretell future events, and inform us VOL. V.


what prophecies they have delivered that have been accomplished. 23 Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may

know that ye (are] gods : yea, do good, or do evil, that we

may be dismayed, and behold [it] together, that we may be struck 24 with astonishment al such skill, and be led to worship you. Be

hold, ye are of nothing, and your work of nought : an abomina

tion (is he that) chooseth you ; that is, he that worshippeth you. 25 I have raised up (one) from the north, and he shall come :

from the rising of the sun shall he call upon my name, or firo

claim my name :* and he shall come upon princes as supon 26 mortar, and as the potter treadeth .clay. Who hath declared

from the beginning, as I do, Iwo hundred ycars before the eveni, that Cyrus shall conquer some nations and deliver others, that we may know ? and beforetime, that we may say, (He is) right. eous, in declaring truth and fulfilling his promises, and thus hath supported his claim to divinity : yea, (there is) none that show

eth, yea, (there is) none that declareth, yea, [there is) none that 27 heareth your words. The first (shall say) to Zion, Behold, be

hold them; I am the first who have said unto Zion, Behold thy deliverers, in Cyrus and his army: and I will give to Jerusalem one

that bringeth good tidings, which none of their gods can give, , 28 For I beheld, and (there was) no man; even among them, and

(there was) no counsellor, that, when I asked of them, could 29 answer a word. Behold, they [are] all vanity ; their works

[are] nothing : their molten images (are) wind and confusion ; they are ignorant and impotent gods, that can neither do any thing, nor foretell what shall be done.


1. UT E see that the cause of God and religion will bear a fair

trial, and need not fear it. This cl'apter is a challenge to idolaters to produce proofs of the divinity of the gods they worshipped, or disprove that of JEHOVAH. The servants of God may give the same challenge to the enemies of revelation, either to show it to be false, or produce any other religion of equal evidence and usefulness ; and good men may challenge the workers of iniquity to produce their strongest reasons in favour of vice, assured that they will carry their own confutation with them. Let us never be afraid to have our religious principles and practices fairly examined ; for if they are true and right, they will gain honour by the trial. Let us be ready to give to every one that asketh, a reason of the hope that is in us, with meekness and fear.

2. Let us learn to stir up one another to oppose prevailing vices, and to engage the favour of God. We see how the nations joined to oppose the growing reputation and success of Cyrus, and encour. aged one another to make new gods to take their part ; and shall we

• Cyrus by his father was fi orn Persia, which lay east of Babylon, and from Media by his mother, which lay north.

« PreviousContinue »