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his people, and of the remarkable proofs he was tý give on the occasion above mentioned, of his power and presence manifested for the protection of Mount Zion, and the hill thereof, whereon stood the palace and the city of David, with the magnificent temple dedicated to the worship of the living God. It likewise places, in a striking point of view, the fruitless attempts of the most formidable enemies of Jerusalem, whilst the Almighty continued to extend to that city his guardian care and defence. It teaches with what sovereign contempt the Most High over all the earth, treats the hostile exertions of those who are inimical to the sacred interests of his church, and the perfect safety which they shall enjoy whom he compasseth with favour as with a shield.-How impregnable the defence which God forms around them that hope in his mercy! They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people, from henceforth even for ever. The gracious protection afforded bythe Lord to his ancient church; represented by the hills that encompassed the holy city, and rendered it invincible, whilst the inhabitants reposed their confidence in the divine omnipotence, prefigured the still greater felicity of those under the New Testament, whose refuge and fortrefs is Jehovah. Such may adopt the triumphant language of the royal poet, • The Lord liveth, and • blessed be my rock, and let the God of my salva. tion be exalted *.'
5 As birds flying, so will the LORD of holts defend Jerusalem : defending also he will deliver it, and paffing over, he will prea serve it.
The subject now before us is illustrated in this verse by another plealing fimilitude, which marks
Pfal. xviii. 46,
with peculiar beauty and energy, the tender affection and constant solicitude, which God, in whom compassions flow, never fails to discover for the safety of his children, especially when they are in danger. There are two ways by which the feathered tribes show affection for their young ones, and their anxiety for defending them from injury. Some, alarmed at the approach of any creature, by whom they suspect their brood may be hurt, fly hither and thither with great velocity through a certain space around their nefts, gaping, crying, and fluttering with their wings. Others, when terrified that their young ones are in danger, fly instantly to their protection, stretch forth their wings for their defence, whilft they appear determined that they will rather indanger their own life, than permit their helpless charge to be hurt. To birds of this last description, I suppose that our Prophet chiefly refers, though he might also have respect to those first mentioned. The agreeable protection which Almighty God vouchfafes to convey to his beloved people, is frequently described in fcripture, in allution to this weil known emblem. • Shew me thy marvellous loving • kindness,' (laid the royal poet) hide me under • the shadow of thy wings *.' And again, · Because * thou Lord has been my help, in the shadow of • thy wings will I rejoice t.' By this familiar image, Jesus Christ illustrates his compassion toward Jerufalem, “How often would I have gathered thy chil*dren together as a hen gathereth her chickens un• der her wings I.' In these moving words, the gracious Redeemer expresses his divine benevolence and tender pity toward the ungrateful, obitinate inhabitants of that highly favoured city, and reminds them that with paternal fondness, he would readily have admitted them to share in his kind protection. The prediction before us then imports, that as the parent bird on the approach of danger, takes her young ones under her wings to thield them from whatever
* Psal. xvii. 8. + Pfa'. Ixiii. 7. Matt. xxiii. 37.
might hurt or annoy them, so the Lord of hosts would guard his peculiar people from the hostile attempts of their powerful enemies. The subject is farther explained in the next words.
Defending also he will deliver it, &c. Such is the extenfive unremitting care which Jehovah exercises over the objects of his love, that in the moft perilous fituation, they enjoy desirable safety. The Lord is their rock, their fortress, and their deliverer; they dwell in the secret place of the Most High, and abide under the shadow of the Almighty-Also be will deliver them. No weapon formed against them could prosper; for God himself was to save them from the intended destruction; so that according to the prophecy of Obadiah, · Upon Mount Zion, there • Thall be deliverance.'-Passing over he will preferve it. There seems here to be an obvious allufion to the memorable event that happened at the time wherein God brought forth the children of Ilrael out of the land of Egypt. The angel of the Lord went forth, and in one night slew all the first born in that kingdom, whilft he paffed over all the first born of the Israelites, whose door posts were sprinkled with the blood of the paschal lamb. In like manner, the angel sent to slay the Assyrian army, which laid siege to Jerusalem, was to pass over the inhabitants of that city, who were to be preserved alive, whilft by the terrible vengeance of heaven, their enemies were to be totally routed. I forbear at present to say any thing of the history which relates the exact accomplishment of what is here foretold, to which I have already had frequent occafion to refer.-Who is a God like unto thee, who pardoneth iniquity, who palleth by the transgression of the remnant of thy heritage, he retains eth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. How astonishing the interpositions of divine Providence for the preservation of the church, which indeed resembles the bush burning and not consumed. The gracious assurances which God hath
given to his servants, of his watchful care, and the wonderful deliverances he hath wrought for them, ought to excite us to exalt his name, to celebrate his praises, and to place unsuspecting confidence in his mercy, power, and faithfulness. How excellent is thy loving kindness, O God, therefore we put our truft under the shadow of thy wings.
6 Turn ye unto him from whom the chil. dren of Israel have deeply revolted,
A suitable exhortation to a most important duty, which may also be considered as a prophetic declaration of what was to happen at the period to which Isaiah looked forward, is subjoined to the reviving predictions delivered in the preceding verses. When God is about to work some great deliverance for his people, he prepares them thankfully to receive the mercy he intends to bestow, and then seasonably confers it upon them. This remark is exemplified in the paffage of scripture now before us. Having foretold the preservation of the inhabitants of Jeru. falem amidst imminent dangers, that they might give this distinguishing favour a proper reception, our Prophet calls upon his countrymen to turn to him from whom they had revolted. He clearly sets before them their duty, and urges the practice of it by a very forcible motive. The prophet Jeremiah, in the name of the Lord, brought this heavy charge against the children of Israel, and the children of Judah, ' They have turned to me the back, and not
the face, though I taught them rising up early and * teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to re
ceive instruction *? By forsaking the fountain of living water, and having recourse to broken cisterns, they manifested the moft criminal contempt of the all-sufficient God. I do not affirm that they were always conscious of acting under the influence of this odious disposition, or that they were sensible of that aversion from God, which they discovered by their conduct. I mean to say, that they were gone aftray from God, every one to his own way. By acting in this manner, they preferred temptations to tranfgrefsion to the promises of God, the enjoyment of the creature to the favour of the Creator, indulgence in fin, to the practice of commanded duty. They slighted the divine perfections of Jehovah, they forfeited the protection of his providence, they neglected the duties of his worship, they violated his fupreme authority, and set at nought the riches of his goodness. Thus estranged from God, were the pofterity of Jacob, when, lo, the voice of mercy is heard.
that * Chap. xxxii. 33.
Turn ye, &c. The expression is metaphorical, , borrowed from the relative fituation of objects, after their position is reversed. It plainly imports, that their internal dispositions, and their external deportment, with respect to God and the objects with which they were connected, ought to have been totally altered, so as to form a contrast to their former condition. They were required to assume a new temper, posture, and aspect, quite different from those wherein they indulged in times past, after they had revolted from the Most High. Their minds, formerly occupied with vain, foolish, sceptical thoughts, were to be employed in contemplating with admiration and pleasure, the attributes, the providence, the word, and falvation of Jehovah. Their hearts, which had gone after idols and earthly objects, were to relinquish criminal attachment to these lying vanities, that they might be confecrated entirely to God, who vouchlafed to demand them for himself. The homage which they had given to dead idols, the work of mens hands, was to be transferred from them, and appropriated to the only liv. ing and true God, who hath done whatsoever he plea-, fed in heaven and earth. From being obdurate, perverse, and disobedient, they were to become tender, flexible, and submillive to God; inclined to that