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their season, supply them ; in a more immediate sense they denote a speedy and gracious deliverance, but in a remote sense they refer to the resurrection of Christ, (compare Hosea vi. 2.

with 1 Cor. xv. 4.) and the blessings of the Gospel. DISCOURSE 3. The prophet's exhortations to repentance proving in

effectual, God complains by him of their obstinate iniquity and idolatry (vi. 4-11. vii. 1-10.) and denounces that Israel will be carried into captivity into Assyria by Sennacherib, notwithstand

ing their reliance on Egypt for assistance. (vii. 11-16. viii.) DISCOURSE 4. The captivity and dispersion of Israel is further

threatened (ix. x.), the Israelites are reproved for their idolatry, yet they shall not be utterly destroyed, and their return to their own country is foretold (xi.)! Renewed denunciations are made

on account of their idolatry. (xij. xiii. 148.) DISCOURSE 5. After a terrible denunciation of divine punishment,

intermixed with promises of restoration from captivity (xiii. 9—16.); the prophet exhorts the Israelites to repentance, and furnishes them with a beautiful form of prayer adapted to their situation (xiv. 1-3.); and foretels their reformation from idolatry, together with the subsequent restoration of all the tribes from their dispersed state, and their conversion to the Gospel. (4-9.)

IV. The style of Hosea, Bishop Lowth remarks, exhibits the appearance of very remote antiquity ; it is pointed, energetic, and concise. It bears a distinguished mark of poetical composition, in that pristine brevity and condensation which is observable in the sentences, and which latter writers have in some measure neglected. This peculiarity has not escaped the observation of Jerome, who remarks that this prophet is altogether laconic and sententious. “But this very circumstance, which antiently was supposed to impart uncommon force and elegance, in the present state of Hebrew literature, is productive of so much obscurity, that, although the general subject of this writer is sufficiently obvious, he is the most difficult and perplexed of all the prophets. There is, however, another reason for the obscurity of his style. Hosea, we have seen, prophesied during the reigns of the four kings of Judah, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah : the duration of his ministry, therefore, in whatever manner we calculate it, must include a very considerable space of time. We have now only a small volume of his remaining, which, it seems, contains his principal prophecies; and these are extant in a continued series, with no marks of distinction as to the times when they were published, or of which they treat. It is, therefore, no wonder if, in perusing the prophecies of Hosea, we sometimes find ourselves in a similar predicament with those who consulted the scattered leaves of the Sibyl.93

1 The prediction in Hosea xi. 10. 11. respecting the return of the Israelites to their own country, was partly fulfilled in consequence of Cyrus's decree (2 Chron. xxxvi. 22, 23. Ezra i. 1-4.); but, in its fullest extent, it remains to be accomplished in the future restoration of the Jews to their own land. This is one instance, among many, in which the language of the prophets is adapted to two or more events. We have the authority of an inspired writer to extend this remark to another part of the same chapter. (Compare xi. 1. with Matt. ii. 15.) Smith's Summary View of the Prophets, p. 177.

2 Præf. in xii. Proph.

3 Lowth's Prmloot


ON THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET ISAIAH. 1. Author and date. - II. Scope. - III. Analysis of the contents of

this book. - IV. Observations on its style.


1. THOUGH fifth in the order of time, the writings of the prophet Isaiah are placed first in order of the prophetical books, principally on account of the sublimity and importance of his predictions, and partly also because the book, which bears his name, is larger than all the twelve minor prophets put together.

Concerning his family and descent, nothing certain has been recorded, except what he himself tells us (i. 1.), viz. that he was the son of Amos, and discharged the prophetic office in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah who successively flourished between A. M. 3194 and 3305. There is a current tradition that he was of the blood-royal ; and some writers have affirmed that his father Amoz or Amos was the son of Joash, and consequently brother of Uzziah king of Judah. Jerome, on the authority of some rabbinical writers, says, that the prophet gave his daughter in marriage to Manasseh king of Judah ; but this opinion is scarcely credible, because Manasseh did not commence his reign until about sixty years after Isaiah had begun to discharge his prophetic functions. He must, indeed, have exercised the office of a

, prophet, during a long period of time, if he lived to the reign of Manasseh ; for the lowest computation, beginning from the year in which Uzziah died, when he is by some supposed to have received his first appointment to that office, brings it to sixty-one years. But the tradition of the Jews, which has been adopted by most Christian commentators, that he was put to death by Manasseh, is very uncertain ; and Aben Ezra, one of the most celebrated Jewish writers, is rather of opinion that he died before Hezekiah ; which Bishop Lowth thinks most probable. It is, however, certain, that he lived at least to the fifteenth or sixteenth year of Hezekiah ; which makes the least possible term of the duration of his prophetic office to be about forty eight-years.

The name of Isaiah, as Vitringa has remarked after several preceding commentators, is in some measure descriptive of his high character, since it signifies the Salvation-of-Jehovah ; and was given with singular propriety to him who foretold the advent of the Messiah, through whom alt flesh shall see the salvation of God. (Compare Isa. xl. 5. with Luke iii. 6. and Acts iv. 12.) Isaiah was contemporary with the prophets Amos, Hosea, Joel, and Micah. as to the cause of the obscurity which is observable in the prophecies of Hosea. Bishop Horsley ascribes it, not to the great antiquity of the composition, nor to any thing peculiar to the language of the

author's age, but to his peculiar idioms, fre. quent changes of person, his use of the nominative case absolute, his anomalies of number and gender, and the ambiguity of pronouns. See the Proface to his vor, sion of Hosea, pp. xxix. xliii.

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Isaiah is uniformly spoken of in the Scriptures as a prophet of the highest dignity ; Bishop Lowth calls him the prince of all the prophets, and pronounces the whole of his book to be poetical, with the exception of a few detached passages. It is remarkable, that his wife is styled a prophetess in viii. 3., whence the rabbinical writers have concluded that she possessed the spirit of prophecy : but it is very probable that the prophets' wives were called prophetesses, as the priests' wives were termed priestesses, only from the quality of their husbands. Although nothing further is recorded in the Scriptures concerning the wife of Isaiah, we find two of his sons mentioned in his prophecy, who were types or figurative pledges of God's assurance; and their names and actions were intended to awaken a religious attention in the persons whom they were commissioned to address, and to instruct. Thus, Shearjashub (vii. 3.) signifies, “a remnant shall return," and showed that the captives who should be carried to Babylon, should return thence after a certain time; and Maher-shalal-lashbaz (viii. 1. 3.), which denotes “ make speed (or run swiftly) to the spoil,” implied that the kingdoms of Israel and Syria would in a short time be ravaged.

Besides the volume of prophecies, which we are now to consider, it appears from 1 Chron. xxvi. 22. that Isaiah wrote an account of the Acts of Uzziah king of Judah: this bas perished with some other writings of the prophets, which, as probably not written by inspiration, were never admitted into the canon of Scripture. There are also two apocryphal books ascribed to him, viz. The Ascension of Isaiah," and " The Apocalypse of Isaiah ;" but these are evidently forgeries of a later date, and the Apocalypse has long since perished. 3

II. The scope of Isaiah's predictions is three-fold, viz.

1. To detect, reprove, aggravate, and condemn the sins of the Jewish people especially, and also the iniquities of the ten tribes of Israel, and the abominations of many Gentile nations and countries; denouncing the severest judgments against all sorts and degrees of persons, whether Jews or Gentiles.

2. To invite persons of every rank and condition, both Jews and Gentiles, to repentance and reformation, by numerous promises of pardon and mercy. It is worthy of remark that no such promises are intermingled with the denunciations of divine vengeance against Babylon, although they occur in the threatenings against every other people.

3. To comfort all the truly pious (in the midst of all the calamities and judgments denounced against the wicked) with prophetic promises of the true Messiah," which seem almost to anticipate the Gospel history, so clearly do they foreshow the divine character I Gray's Key, p. 365.

2 Gray's Key, p. 372. 3 Ascensio enim Isaiæ et Apocalypsis Isajæ hoc habent testimonium. Jerom. Comment. on Isaiah, c. Ixiv. (Op. tom. iii. p. 473.) See also tom. iv. p. 344. The anabaticon or ascension of Isaiah is mentioned by Epiphanius, among the books received by Hierax, founder of the sect of the Hieracites, in the fourth century. Hæres. 67. Dr. Lardner's Works, vol. iii. p. 402. For a further account of this apocryphal production, see Vol. I. Appendix, No. V. Sect. I. pp. 631, 633, 634.

of Christ (ch. vii. 14. compared with Matt. i. 18—23. and Luke i. 27-35. ; vi. ix. 6. xxxv. 4. xl. 5. 9, 10. xlii. 6–8. Ixi. 3. compared with Luke iv. 18. lxi. 11. lxii. 1-4.); his miracles (ch. xxxv. 5, 6.) ; his peculiar qualities and virtues (ch. ix. 2, 3. xl. 11. xliii. 1-3.) ; his rejection (ch. vi. 9-12. compared with Mark xi. 14. vii. 14, 15. lii. 3.); and sufferings for our sins (ch. I. 6. liii. 4—11.);' his death, burial (ch. liii. 8, 9.), and victory over death (ch. xxv. 8. liii. 10. 12.); and, lastly, his final glory (ch. xlix. 7. 22, 23. lii. 13—15. liii. 4, 5.), and the establishment, increase (ch. ii. 24. ix. 7. xlii. 4. xlvi. 13.), and perfection (ch. ix. 2. 7. xi. 4-10. xvi. 5. xxix. 18—24. xxxii. 1. xl. 4, 5. xlix. 9-13. li. 3—6. lii. 6–10. lv. 1-3. lix. 16–21. lx. lxi. 1-5. Ixv. 25.) of his kingdom ; each specifically pointed out, and pourtrayed with the most striking and discriminating characters. It is impossible, indeed, to reflect on these, and on the whole chain of his illustrious prophecies, and not to be sensible that they furnish the most incontestable evidence in support of Christianity."2

III. The predictions of Isaiah are contained in sixty-six chapters; of which the five first are generally supposed to have been delivered in the reign of Uzziah ; the sixth in the reign of Jotham; the seventh to the fifteenth in the reign of Ahaz; and the remainder in that of Hezekiah. Various modes of classifying them have been proposed, in order to present them in the most useful and lucid arrangement; some commentators and critics dividing them into three parts :- 1. Evangelico-Legal, which contain denunciations of the divine vengeance, intermixed with evangelical promises ;2. Historical, comprising the narrative part; - and 3. Evangelical, comprising prophecies and promises relative to the deliverance of the Jews from captivity, and the yet greater deliverance of mankind from the bondage of sin, by the Messiah. By other writers, the book of the prophet Isaiah is divided into, - 1. Reprehensory, including sharp reproofs and threatenings of the Jews for their sins, in which are mingled promises to the penitent ;-2. Minatory, containing threatenings against the enemies of the Jewish church, and also against the Jews themselves ;- 3. Narrative or Historical ; and, 4. Consolatory and evangelical promises concerning Messiah and the church. Other classifications have been proposed, which it is not necessary to specify ; but, without adopting any of them, we apprehend that the following synopsis will be found to exhibit a clear view of the various topics discussed by the royal prophet. The predictions of Isaiah, then, may be divided into six paris, each containing a number of discourses, delivered by the prophet to the various nations or people whom he was commissioned to address.3

1 The Ethiopian eunuch appears to have been made a proselyte by Saint Phi. lip's explication of this chapter. Vide Acts viii. 32. The whole of it is so minutely descriptive of Christ's passion, that a famous Rabbi, likewise, on reading it, was converted from Judaism. - Who, indeed, can resist its evidence ?

2 Gray's Key, pp. 369, 370.

3 These general divisions of the prophecy are according to the scheme proposed by Vitringa (Comment. in Esaiam, tom. i. p. 24.) and Bishop Tomline (Elements of Christ. Theol. vol. i. p. 107.) In the various discourses, or prophetic serinuns

PART I. contains a general description of the estate and condition of

the Jews, in the several periods of their history; the promulgation and success of the Gospel, and the coming of Messiah to judgment. (ch. i.-v.) The predictions in this section were delivered during the reign of Uzziah king of Judah. DISCOURSE 1. (ch. i. throughout). The prophecy in this first chapter (to which, as well as to the whole book, the first verse forms a general title), stands single and unconnected, constituting an entire piece of itself. If, as we suppose to have been the case, it was delivered in the reign of Uzziah, the desolation which it describes may refer to the calamities which were occasioned before that time by Jehoash king of Israel (compare 2 Kings xiv. 12–14.); or, the prophet may describe scenes yet future, as already passing before his eyes, to denote their certainty. As, however, the portrait, which it presents of the desolate and distressed state of the land of Judah, agrees much better with the wicked and afflicted reign of the apostate Ahaz, than with the flourishing circumstances in the reigns of Uzziah and Jotham, (who were both, in the main, good princes): on this account the learned Dr. John Taylor thinks it probable that the prediction in this chapter was uttered in the reign of Ahaz, and intends the invasion of Judah by Rezin and Pekah, kings of Syria and Israel. But whichever of these conjectures may be preferred, the chapter contains a severe remonstrance against the inclinations to idolatry, want of inward piety, and other corruptions, prevailing among the Jews of that time, intermixed with powerful exhortations to repentance, grievous threatenings to the impenitent, and gracious promises of better times, when the nation shall have been reformed by the just judgments of God. The whole of this discourse affords a beautiful example of the prophet's elegant and impressive manner of writing. DISCOURSE 2. (ch. ii. iii. iv.) contains the following particulars: 1. The preaching of the Gospel, and the conversion of the Gentile world. (ii.

1-5.) 2. A prediction of the punishment of the unbelieving Jews, for their idolatrous

practices, for their self-confidence, and distrust in God; and likewise the destruction of idolatry, in consequence of the establishment of Messiah's

kingdom. (ii. 6—20.) 3. A prophecy of the destruction of the Jews by the Babylonians (and probably

also by the Romans), with a particular amplification of the distress of the proud and luxurious daughters of Sion. (iii. 1—26. iv. 1.)

comprised under each section, we have principally followed Bishop Lowth, in his admirable translation of, and notes upon, the prophet Isaiah.

1 Commentators are divided in opinion, whether the title in verse 1. (the vision of Isaiah) belongs to the whole book, or only to the prophecy contained in this chapter. The former part of the title seems properly to belong to this particular prophecy; the latter part, which enumerates the kings of Judah under whom Ísaiah exercised his prophetic office, seems to extend it to the entire collection of prophecies delivered in the course of his ministry. Vitringa (with whom Bishop Lowth agrees) has solved this doubt very judiciously. He supposes that the former part of the title was originally prefixed to this single prophecy; and that, when the collection of all Isaiah's prophecies was made, the enumeration of the kings of Judah was added, to make it at the same time a proper title to the whole book. As such it is plainly taken in 2 Chron. xxxii. 32. where the book of Isaiah is cited by the title of " The Vision of Isaiah the Prophet, the son of Amoz." Vitringa, tom.i.

pp. 25-29. Bishop Lowth's Isaiah, vol. ii. p. 4. 2 Scheme of Scripture Divinity, chap. xxxiv. in vol. i. of Bishop Watson's Col. lection of Tracts, pp. 143, 144.

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