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And let him return to Jehovah, that he may have pity on
And to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8. For your purposes are not my purposes,
Nor your ways my ways, Jehovah hath said. 9. For high as the heavens are above the earth,
So are my ways high above your ways,
The call of God regenerates the heart; hence the children of God are said to be begotten by the word:
any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, all things are become new.” The repentant sinner changes his course, and walks in the ways of God; his schemes and purposes are altered. This is true with respect to every individual who is raised up as a spiritual child to Abraham ; and it is to be so with all his natural descendants, when the Lord shall take away the stony heart out of their flesh, and has given them a heart of flesh: and in this change there is nothing more remarkable than the surrender, which the convert of divine grace makes of his own wisdom, and of his own thoughts, respecting the ways of God in his dealing with mankind : the things of God, which appeared to him as foolishness before, are now understood, and appear in all their grandeur and beauty. This is especially the case with respect to the doctrines of divine influences, which are evidently alluded to in the following verses :
10. For as the rain descendeth,
Or the svow from the heavens,
That it may produce seed for the sower,
And bread for the eater.
It returneth not to me fruitless;
We learn, therefore, from this passage, that “ the gift and callings” of God, which, from their general language, may seem on some occasions to be vouchsafed in vain, as to the intention of the Giver, have always a definite and designed object; in regard of which, they neither do nor can fail, but accomplish all the purpose of God's grace.
This is true of the work of redemption that is now going on among the Gentiles' churches; they are a people " called according to his purpose.” But the context demands that we should apply this language first to Israel. It might be asked, Have not all the favours of God to this people proved fruitless, as the rain that falleth on the barren ungrateful soil? Who hath believed our report?
The word spoken hath not profited them, not being mixed “ with faith in them that heard it.”
We shall remember the apostle's reflections, when he contemplates this state of things in the Israel of the first advent, and expresses his “ heaviness and continual sorrow of heart," while he contemplates so many privileges bestowed on his “ kinsmen according to the flesh,” apparently without effect. He says, “ Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect,” or “ failed,” or “ foundered in its course, or “ fallen to the ground” short of its aim. “For,” he assigns his reason,
they are not all Israel that are of Israel.” God's designs of mercy to the real Israel have, therefore, never been
frustrated, nor rendered inefficient or ineffectual. As then, therefore, "a remnant according to the election of grace” was quickened among the natural seed of Abraham, and a believing people united to them from the Gentile nations, which was God's special design in sending forth his word at that time; so shall God's declared design that when “this fulness of the Gentiles be come in,” “ all Israel shall be saved,” and “ the Redeemer come to Zion”—be equally and as completely effected in its appointed season.
The miraculous passage of the desert is again before the prophet:
12. Surely with joy shall ye go forth,
And be conducted in peace.
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands : 13. And instead of the thorn shall spring up the pine,
And instead of the bramble shall spring up the myrtle :
may say then, at this present moment, the ignorance and unbelief of the Israelites is an impediment in the way of all those glories which the universal church is looking and waiting for; because it is ascertained from prophecy, that they must first be gathered, and be restored to the God of their fathers, and to their own land. Some assert this to be a most unlikely event. It is enough that the zeal, or ardent affection, of Jehovah Sabaoth shall accomplish this in its season.
The First Part of the Fifty-sixth Chapter.
The eight first verses of the fifty-sixth chapter should form a section by themselves.
1. Thus hath Jehovah said,
Observe ye judgment, and do righteousness;
And my righteousness to be revealed. 2. Blessed is the man that doeth this,
And the Son of man that holdeth it fast.
- The people of God, “ whose hearts are directed into the love of God, and patient waiting for Jesus Christ,” are to “commit themselves to him in well doing.” I think it will appear from the sequel, that the first erection of the Gospel church in the days of the apostles, is principally in view of the Spirit of prophecy. That church was to be composed of a remnant, both of Jews and Gentiles. The terms man, son of man," seem to extend the privileges of the kingdom: and the mention of the Sabbath may not only refer to that ordinance as kept by the Jewish proselyte, but also to the Christian Sabbath about to supersede it. The observance of this institution upon a true principle of faith, as well as the submission to the moral law in general—“ in Christ,” and in “ newness of spirit”—would be the sure proof of discipleship among that people, who were “ turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he had raised up from the dead:” and, I think, we may distinguish in this passage a special regard to the Jewish proselytes, who, at the erection of the Gospel church, were prepared by believing the writings of Moses to receive the faith of Jesus Christ,
3. And let not the son of the stranger speak,
Who hath joined himself unto Jehovah, saying,
Lo, I am a withered tree!
Who shall keep my Sabbaths;
And shall hold fast my covenant; 5. That I will give them a place in my house, and within my
That which shall not be cut off.
To minister to him, and to love the name of Jehovah,
And holdeth fast my covenant:
And will make them glad in my house of prayer;