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and contemplate them amidit pressing difficulties, costly facrifices, 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, of 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 sense, they might have reference to the remarkable happy alteration which the Almighty was to effect in the land of Canaan, after it had long lain in a desolate condition, on the return of the Jews from captivity at Babylon, the figurative 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 senfe is very often the most literal sense of all *. This remark is verified, I apprehend, in the verse before us, and upon this principle I 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 affirmed 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 bleflings it contains, are said to proceed. It is therefore represented as the joy of the whole earth; it is highly extolled on account of its beauty, ftability, and felicity, and
often Page 237. of second edition.
often celebrated as the happy place wherein many inestimable promises are fulfilled, among which is the one now to be illustrated. These great benefits are not so applicable to the literal mount Zion as to the church of God, which it prefigured, and which is frequently spoken of in scripture under that nane. indeed it is not uncommon, in the sacred writings, for the person or object typified, to bear the name of what was intended to represent or forefignify that person or thing. Jesus Christ is called, by the apostle Paul *, our paffover, because that inftitution was designed to exhibit him, in a very striking point of view, who was sacrificed for us; for the same 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 va. rious means, that they shall sustain thein with ease and chearfulness. Though they may continue for a season in an afflicted, deltitute 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 faving them from their distresses, by defending them from their enemies, by seasonably fulfilling his promises, and by imparting the consolations of his Spirit. In a special manner-He will confort all her waste places, &c. These, with the wilderness and the de. fart, 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 whereby the Church is improved and becomes fruitful in holiness and righteousness. Those who are in such forlorn circumstances God will confort, by fhewing them the necessity and utility of afflictions, by rendering their desolate condition subservient to their real benefit, 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*.'
whereby 1 Cor. viii. 7.
He will make ber wilderness like Eden, &c. Those who have been in a most desolate, hopeless condition, shall be made to affume a new, beautiful, and fruitful appearance, the very reverse of their former state. The country of Eden, fituated 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 fine shades afforded by the leaves of the trees and shrubs, the variety of rich delicious fruits, the odoriferous finell of beautiful flowers, and the pleasant rivers whereby it was watered. den of delights were placed, by the great Creator; the firit 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 before 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 glo. Vol. IV. B
In this gar
2. Cor. i 3,4.
rified ; 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, filled with the precious fruits of faith and holiness, and tended by men eminent for fanctity, prudence, learning, and other useful accomplishments. Such fhall be the very pleasant aspect of the Church of God, after ha. ving been solaced and revived by the interpofitions of Providence, and the liberal communications of his grace.
Joy and gladness fall be found therein, &c. The participation of the benefits above mentioned, and the blessed effects 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 bleflings which in mercy he had feafonably conferred upon them. With thanksgiving was to 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 fervants. This prediction, which hath been fulfilled from time to time, according to the good pleasure of God and the exigencies of his people, is not to be limited to any one period. It was in some measure verified to the church founded in Zion and Jerusalem, which extended throughout Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. Thote places which had been defolate like a desert, through the divine efficacy that accompanied the ministry of the gospel, were made to abound with the precious fruits of knowledge, faith, love, and other graces, in confequence whereof they retembled the fertile pleasant garden of Eden. And when the set time to favour Zion arrives, the people which shall be created anew in Christ Jesus shall praise the Lord with joy and triumph, in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual fongs. His name shall be declared, and bis prailes in Jerufalem.
4 Hearken unto me, my people, and give ear unto me, O my nation : for 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 coniolation which he was to administer to the afflicted church, derived fron the vocation of the Gentiles to the knowledge and worship of the living God, by means of the golpel. 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 coinmon 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 then he dealt as he never did with any other nation. From them primarily he demanded the closest attention to the subject here introduced, being at once momentous and interesting. There 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 rouled to serious confideration. From us, brethren, who profess to be the ransomed of the Lord, the great Redeemer requires the saine diligent attention, that we may understand the important truths he delivers, that we may ponder them in our hearts, and experience their fanctifying practical influence. Let us incline our ear and come unto him, hear and our soul shall live.