« ZurückWeiter »
In this tumultuous obedience, where the frighted waters, one would imagine, should have swept away every thing in their course, an invisible hand governed them with as much ease as a mother governs and handies a child she had first swathed, and afterwards put in his cradle. It is under these images God represents to us what he did at that time. (e) Who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth as if it had issued out of the womb? When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swadling band for it; and brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, and said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further; and here shall thy prond waves be stayed. There is no occasion to raise the beauty of these last words, for who is not atiected with them? God marked out bounds to the sea, and it did not dare to transgress them: [[ ] that which was written on its shores prevented it from going beyond them; and that element, which appears the most ungovern: able, was equally obedient both in its flight and in its stay. This obedience las continued the same for many ages; and how tumultuous soever the waves may appear, the instant they come near the shore, God's prohibition keeps them in awe, and stops their progress. III. THE BEAUTY OF THE SCRIPTURES DOES NOT
ARISE FROM THE WORDS, BUT THE THINGS. It is well known, that the most excellent Greek and Latin authors lose most of their graces when translated literally; because a great part of their beauty consists in the expression: but as that of the Scriptures consists more in the things than the words, we find that it subsists and strikes in the most verbal translation, This will plainly appear from every part of the Scripture. I shall content myself with transcribing only two or three passages from it.
1.  Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth. In mine ears
 Job xxxviii. 8,10. [f] Jerem. V. 22.  Isa. v. 8, 9.
said the Lord of hosts, of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair without inhabitant.
There is nothing in all the Eloquence of the heathens, comparable to the vivacity of the reproach which the prophet here makes to the wise men of his time, who, neglecting the law of God, which had assigned to every man in particular, a proportion of the promised land, with a prohibition to alienate it for ever; swallowed up in their vast parks, the vineyard, the field, and the house of those who were so unhappy as to live near them.
But the reflection which the prophet adds, seems to me no less eloquent, notwithstanding its great simplicity; In mine ears said the Lord of hosts. I hear the Lord; his voice is at my ear. Whilst the whole world attends to nothing but their pleasures, and that no one hears the law of God, I already hear his thunder roaring against those ambitious rich men, who think of nothing but building and establishing their abode upon the earth. God echoes in mine ear a perpetual threat against their vain enterprises, and a kind of oath more dreadful than the threat itself, because it proves the latter ready to break forth, and irrevocable: Of a truth many houses shull be desert, &c.
2. The same prophet describes the characteristics of the Messiah in a wonderful manner. [h] For unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Il'onderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of peace.
I shall consider only the following expression, and the
goverment shall be upon his shoulder; this includes a wonderful image, and has a peculiar energy when considered with due attention.
Jesus Christ shall be born an infant, but then he shall not wait either for years or experience before he reigns. He shall not stand in need of being acknowledged by his subjects, nor of being assisted by his armies, in order to subdue rebels; for he himself will be
(6] Isaiah ix. 6.
his strength, his power, his royalty. He shall differ infinitely from other kings, who cannot be such unless they are acknowledged by some state; and who fall into the condition of private men, if their subjects refuse to obey them. Their authority is not their own, nor from themselves, nor can they give it duration. But the child who shall be born, even when he shall appear to be in want of all things, and to be incapable of commanding, shall bear all the weight of divine majesty and royalty. [i] He shall support every thing hy bis efficacy and power; and his sovereign authority resides fully and wholly in himself, and the government shall be upon his shoulder. Nothing shall prove this better than the manner in which he shall chuse to reign. He must have from himself, and independant of all exterior means, a sovereign power, in order to make him be worshipped by mankind, notwithstanding the ignominy of the cross, which he shall vouchsafe to take upon himself; and to change the instrument of his punishment into the instrument of his victory, and the most splendid mark of his sovereignty; the government shall be upon his shoulder,
Those who study the Scriptures attentively, find that the beauty of it consists in the strength and greatness of the thoughts.
1. Cyrus was the greatest conqueror, and the most accomplished prince mentioned in history, the reason of which the Scripture gives us, viz. that God himself had taken a pleasure in forming him, for the accomplishment of his intended mercy to his people. He calls him by his name two hundred years before his birth, and declares, that he himself will set the crown on his head, and put a sword in his hand, in order to make him the deliverer of his people.
[k] Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right-hand I have holden, to subdue nations beHeb. i. 3. Isa. xl. 10, [k] Isa, xlv. 1, 2. 5.
fore him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two-leaved gates, and the gates shall not be shut. I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron... I am the Lord, and there is none else; there is no God besides
I girded thee though thou hast not known me. In another place, he commands Cyrus, king of the Persians, then called Elamites, to set out with the Medes; he orders the siege to be made, and the walls to fall down. [l] March, Elam; Mede, do thou besiege. In fine, Babylon will no longer make others sigh. Let him come now at my command; let him join with the Medes; let him besiege a city which is an enemy to my worship and to my people; let him obey me without knowing me; let him follow me with his eyes shut; let him execute my commands without. being either of my counsel, or in my confidence; and let him teach all princes, and even all men, how I am sovereign over empires, events, and even wills; since I make myself to be equally obeyed by kings, and
every private soldier in the armies, without have ing any occasion either to reveal myself, or to exhort, or employ any other means than any will, which is also my power. [m] That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is none else.
How majestic are these few words! Goup, Elain;. Prince of the Persians, set out. Besiege, Mlede : and you, prince of the Medes, forun the siege. I have made all their groans to cease: Babylon is taken and plundered: it has no power; its tyranny is at an end.
2. The Scriptures have painted in the strongest colours, how greatly sensible God is to the oppression of the poor and weak, as well as to the injustice of the judges and the mighty of the earth.
[n] Isaiah represents truth feeble and trembling, imploring, but in vain, the assistance of the judges, (l) Isa. xxi. 2.
[»] Ibid. lix. 14-16. (m) Ibid. xlv, 6,
and representing herself to no purpose before every tribunal. Access is denied her every where; she is in all places rejected, forgotten, and trodden under foot. Interest prevails over right, and the good man is delivered up a prey to the unjust. And the Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. And he saw that there was no man, and he u'ondered that there was no intercessor.
Ilis silence would make me conclude, either that he does not see those disorders, or that he is indifferent to them. It is not so, says the prophet in another place; every thing is prepared for judgment, whilst men are not thinking any thing of the matter. ·  The invisible judge is present. He is standing in order To take in hand the defence of those who have no other; and to pronounce a very different sentence against the unjust, and in behalf of those who are poor and weak. The Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof ; for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor
is in their houses. What mean ye that ye heat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? says the Lord God of hosts. Nothing can be stronger or more cloquent than the reproaches which God makes in this place, to the judges and princes of his people. How! You who ought to defend my people, as a vine that was committed to your care; you who ought to serve as a hedge and a rampart to it; it is you yourselves have made wild havoc of this vine, and ruined it, as though the [p] fire had past over it. And you cat the cine.
Had you been but a little tender to your brethren, and not ruined them entirely! but after you had stripped my people, you lay them in the wine-presses, in order to squeeze the marrow out to their bones: You bruise them; you crush them under the mill, in order to grind them to dust ; you grind them. You perhaps intend to conceal your thefts and rapine from me, by converting them into proud furniture for the ornament of your houses. I [O] Isan iii. 13-35.
(P) So the original says.