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and contemplate them amidst pressing difficulties, costly sacrisices, and heavy trials, trusting in him who never fails to verify his promises, and by their worthy example be animated to patient continuing in well doing.
3. For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places, and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord ;joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.
These words contain an explicit assurance of the certain accomplishment, os the glorious change which God was to make in the state of the church, by the abundant communications of his favour. Though in their primary and literal fense, they might have reserence to the remarkable happy alteration which the Almighty was to effect in the land of Canaan, aster it had long lain in a desolate condition, on the return of the Jews from captivity at Babylon, the sigurative spiritual import of the prediction demands our chief attention. The late learned Bishop of London justly observes, in his notes on these Prophecies, that the mystical or spiritual sense is very osten the most literal fense of all *. This remark is verified, I apprehend, in the verse before us, and upon this principle 1 proceed to consider the several parts whereof this prophecy is composed.—Glorious things are said in the Old and New Testament concerning Zion, the subject of this prediction. God is assirmed to have chosen Zion, to love the gates thereof, and to delight to dwell therein; and Christ is said to dwell there, and from thence his law and his salvation, with all the precious blessings it contains, are said to proceed. It is therefore represented as the joy of the whole earth; it is highly extolled cn account of its beauty, stability, and felicity, and
9 Page 237. of second edition.
often celebrated as the happy place wherein many inestimable promises are fulsilled, among which is the one now to be illustrated. These great benesits are not so applicable to the literal mount Zi on as to the church of God, which it presigured, and which is frequently .spoken of in scripture under that name. Indeed it is not uncommon, in the sacred writings, for the person or object typisied, to bear the name of what was intended to represent or foresignify that person or thing. Jesus Christ is called, by the apostle Paul *, our paflover, because that institution was designed to exhibit him, injt very striking point of view, who was sacrisiced'for us; for the fame reason the church is denominated Zion— This select, highly-favoured society, our prophet declares,
The Lord will comfort. He will invigorate and fortify the minds of his peculiar people, under the doubts, and fears, and sorrows, whereby they are distressed. If, for important reasons, he does not remove those evils, he will so alleviate them, by various means, that they shall sustain them with ease and chearfulness. Though they may continue for a season in an afflicted, destitute condition, yet in due time God will arise and have mercy on them, by relieving them from the miseries and sorrows whereby they are oppressed. He will give them substantial proofs of his loving-kindness and tender care, by saving them from their distresses, by defending them from their enemies, by seasonably fulsilling his promises, and by imparting the consolations of his Spirit. In a special manner—He will comfort all her waste places, &-c. These, with the wilderness and the defart, .mentioned in the following clauses of this verse, may denote the societies of the faithful, or those individuals whereof they are composed, from whom the inflences of divine grace had been in great measure withheld, who had not enjoyed the ministrations of the servants of God, nor the ordinances
* i Cor. viii. 7. , .
whereby the Church is improved and becomes sruitful in holiness and righteousness. Those who are in such forlorn circumstances God will comfort, by shewing them the necessity and utility of asflictions, by rendering their desolate condition subservient to their real benesit, by mitigating their distresses, by enabling them to bear their troubles with fortitude and patience, and by pouring refreshing consolations into their hearts. In consequence thereof, they shall adopt the grateful acknowledgment of an apostle, expressed in his own name and that of the Church of God,'Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Je'sus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all 'comfort, who comforteth us in all our tribulation*.'
Hewi/l make her wilderness like Eden, &c. Those who Lave been in a most desolate, hopeless condition, shall be made to assume a new, beautiful, and fruitful appearance, the very reverse of their former state. The country of Eden, situated on the banks of the Euphrates. is said to be one of the most delightful, fertile places in the world. There the Lord God planted a garden, formed a complete paradise, celebrated for its fertility, verdure, beauty, and fragrancy; for the sine shades asforded by the leaves of the trees and slirubs, the variety of rich delicious fruits, the odoriferous smell of beautiful flowers, and the pleasant rivers whereby it was watered. In this garden of delights were placed, by the great Creator, the sirst man with his companion. In scripture, any country that is remarkably pleasant and fruitful is compared to it, or called by its name; and, in the words Defore us, the Church, after having been comforted by Jehovah, is said to resemble Eden, the garden of the Lord. Though in time past like a neglected desert, having been enriched by the bounties of Providence, and the blessings of grace, their circumstances are entirely changed. Within their precincts is a beautiful variety of trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be gloVol. IV. B rified 5
* 2 Cor. i 3, 4.
risied; defended by divine Providence, warmed by the benign influence of the Sun of righteousness, watered by the dew of God's blessing and the river that makes glad the city of our God, silled with the precious fruits of faith and holiness, and tended by men eminent for sanctity, prudence, learning, and other useful accomplishments.— Such shall be the very pleasant aspect of the Church of God, after having been solaced and revived by the interpositions of Providence, and the liberal communications of his grace.
Joy and gladness Jhall be found therein, &c. The participation of the benesits above mentioned, and the blessed esfects wherewith they were to be attended, should give rise to exultation and joy only: they were to excite thanksgiving and the voice of melody, of which they are the genuine natural expressions. Gratitude and praise, which are the duty and delight of God's servants, were to be presented to their great Benefactor, as part of that homage he justly demanded for the blessings which in mercy he had seasonably conferred upon them. With thanksgiving was te be joined the voice of melody. Every heart and every voice was to be tuned, to celebrate the praises of Jehovah for his wonderful works, and to extol his glorious name for his mercy in promising, and his faithfulness in accomplishing, his good word unto his servants.—This prediction, which hath been fulsilled from time to time, according to the good pleasure of God aed the exigencies us his people, is not to be limited to any one period. It was in some measure verisied to the church founded in Zion and Jerusalem, which extended throughout Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. Those places which had been desolate like a desert, through the divine essicacy that accompanied the ministry of the gospel, were made to abound with the precious fruits of knowledge, faith, love, and other graces, in censequence whereof they resembled the fertile pleasant garden of Eden. And when the set time to savour /-ion arrives, the people
which which shall be created anew in Christ Jesus shall praise the Lord with joy and triumph, in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs. His name shall be declared, and his praises in Jerusalem.
4 Hearken unto me, my peop-e, and give ear unto>. me, O my nation: tor a law shall proceed From me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people.
The Messiah proceeds to call the attention of his chosen people to the sources of that consolation which he was to administer to the afflicted church, derived from the vocation of the Gentiles to the knowledge and worship of the living God, by means of the gospel. He addresses especially, I suppose, the Jewish people, who in a particular manner belonged to him, being emphatically denominated his own inheritance. They were his property, not only in common with other men, but he had appropriated them to himself from among all the kingdoms of the earth, that they might be to him a peculiar people, and with them he dealt as he neverdid with anyothernation. From them primarily he demanded the closest attention to the subject here introduced, being at once momentous and interesting. Tb>ere were doubtless many among them who did not advert to the excellence of the blessings to be conferred upon the Church, to the magnitude of the judgments to be inflicted on their enemies, nor to the predictions of the prophets, wherein these things were clearly foretold, and therefore they much needed to be roused to serious consideration.— From us, brethren, who profess to be the ransomed of the Lord, the great Redeemer requires the fame diligent attention, that we may understand the important truths he delivers, that we may ponder them in our hearts, and experience their sanctifying practical influence. Let us incline our ear and come unto him, hear and our soul shall live. .