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that God, who is faithful, would certainly inflict the judgments threatened by his fervants on the Ephraimites and their allies, though they might flatter themselves with impunity. Many ftriking inftances of the truth I am illustrating occur in fcripture, to which I would have you carefully to advert; that you may be fully convinced that the word of God fhall ftand, and fhall never fail of being accomplished, notwithstanding every intervening obftacle.
But will arife against the house of evil doers. Every one that doeth evil is not included under this description, but those only who obftinately persist in evil-doing, and refufe to be reftrained by the authority, the clemency, and the judgments of God. Such incorrigible tranfgreflors were the houfe of Ifrael at the time this prophecy was delivered, concerning whom the Lord afterward declared by his fervant Jeremiah, Behold, thou haft fpoken and done evil
as thou couldeft *.-And against the help of them that work iniquity. The Egyptians, whofe afliftance was expected by the Ephraimites, in their prefent hazardous condition, feem to have been the perfons primarily intended by this defcription. After the manner of a great offended monarch, Jehovah declares, that he would go forth against both these nations, to inflict righteous vengeance upon them, for the injuries they have done to him and his kingdom-That he would arife, not merely to oppofe their progress by moral restraints, fuch as commands and threatenings, but effectually to give check to their acts of hoftility, by the exertion of his Omnipotence, and feverely to punish them for contempt fhewn to him and his laws. All refiftance, therefore, fhould prove altogether unavailing to counteract the purposes he had determined to accomplish.-If any thing prevent or ftop the progrefs of threatened evil, it is prayer and penitence. These peaceful meffengers have often arrefted divine judgments in their course, and hindered them from being infucted
Chap. iii. 5.
flicted. The Lord would have deftroyed Ifrael, had ⚫ not Mofes his chofen stood before him in the breach, 'to turn away his wrath, left he should have deftroy⚫ed them *.' In fome inftances prayers and tears may prove ineffectual to avert impending calamities; for thus faid the Lord to the prophet Jeremiah, Though Mofes and Samuel ftood before me, yet * my mind could not be toward this people caft ⚫ them out of my fight, and let them go forth.' The words plainly intimate, that the interpofition and fupplications of God's moft faithful fervants, in the cafe referred to, could not prevail to avert that merited deftruction, from which the pofterity of Jacob had enjoyed a long reprieve,
3 Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horfes flesh, and not fpirit. When the LORD fhall ftretch out his hand, both he that helpeth fhall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fall together.
The extreme folly and danger of those who placed dependence on Egypt is here farther reprefented. The propofition contained in the first part of the verse is incontrovertible, fo evident, that it must be univerfally acknowledged. The plaineft truths, however, fuch as that which lies now before us, muft not be overlooked or difregarded. Men, though wife and powerful, are but men; weak, frail, mortal creatures, whofe exiftence, faculties, and actions, depend entirely on divine Providence. They can do nothing more than God gives them ability to perform, nor can they execute any enterprife, but what he enables or permits them to accomplish. Hence the important advice given by our Prophet, Ceafe 'ye from man whofe breath is in his noftrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of?' It is better to
* Pfal. cvi. 23.
+ Chap. xv. 1.
truft in God than to put confidence in man. Had the Ifraelites attended to this fimple remark, they would not have confided in the Egyptians, but in the living God, who is omnipotent, invincible, and immortal. Their horfes are flesh, and not fpirit; of which they poffeffed neither the nature nor the properties. Though they might be celebrated on account of their excellence and their numbers, they were fubject to distempers, to decay, to accidents, to fatigue in confequence of long marches, they were liable to be wounded and flain in battle. They were therefore a vain thing for prefervation, neither could they deliver by their great ftrength. As faith the proverb, The horfe is prepared against the day ' of battle, but fafety is of the Lord.'-Some trust in chariots, and fome in horfes, but let us remember the name of the Lord our God, the strong tower to which the righteous run and are fafe. Of the truth of the preceding remark, the children of Ifrael were to receive convincing proof.
When the Lord fhall stretch out his hand, &c. In prophetic language God is faid to ftretch out his hand, when he inflicts righteous judgment upon men for their fins. Behold, therefore, (faith he by the prophet Ezekiel) I have ftretched out my hand over thee-and have delivered thee unto the will ⚫ of them that hate thee*. The expreffion is metaphorical, and alludes to the practice of those who extend their arm, when about to perform any arduous work. It plainly intimates, that Jehovah was to exert his Almighty power in punishing his ungrateful people, and those on whom they trufted for affiftance, whilft they neglected to repofe confidence in him, who had 'often helped and delivered their fathers. In confequence whereof-Both he that helpeth, &c. The overthrow both of the Egyptians and of the Ephraimites, who requested their fuccours, is clearly foretold in thefe words. Though you have called to your aid and protection, a powerful VOL. III.
Chap. xvi. 27.
nation, who hath helped other kingdoms in times of distress and danger, they fhall not be able to afford you the fupport you require; you and they fhall fail in accomplishing the end that you have in view. You may affociate yourselves together, but neither of you fhall escape deserved calamities, Though hand join in hand, though kingdom be confederated with kingdom, the wicked fhall not be unpunished. Curfed,' faith Jehovah, be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, 'whofe heart departeth from the Lord.'-Aware then of the extreme danger to which we fhall inevitably expose ourselves, by placing confidence in the creature; let us truft in the Lord Jehovah who made heaven and earth, and carefully abftain from this execrable practice, which terminates in disappointment, distress, and forrow.
4 For thus hath the LORD fpoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of thepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them; fo fhall the LORD of hofts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof.
Still farther to reprove the folly of the Ephraimites, another argument is fubjoined, derived from the protection which God was about to afford the inhabitants of Jerufalem, when affailed by the Affy rians. To excite reverence and attention to this fubject, Ifaiah declares, that the Most High had exprefsly communicated to him the following information, in which the invincible power, and tender compaffion of Jehovah, difplayed toward his peculiar people, are beautifully reprefented by two fimilitudes; the one taken from an animal remarkable for its ftrength and heroic courage, the other from
birds, whose vigilance and folicitude for the fafety of their young ones are well known-The former is borrowed from a lion, one of the strongest and most magnanimous beafts of the foreft, and a young lion in his full vigour, who remains undaunted in the poffeffion of his prey amid all the efforts employed to terrify him. By this figure is reprefented the conduct of the Almighty, who is not afraid of any, and who ought to be feared by all, when he appears executing awful vengeance upon his enemies. The prey on which the lion is faid to roar, in way of exultation, may denote the city Jerufalem, which of old was the feat of heathen fuperftition, from which it was forcibly taken, that it might be converted into the feat of true religion, and divine worship, under the immediate infpection and defence of Jehovah. A multitude of hepherds called forth against the lion, may fignify the numerous army affembled by the king of Affyria to befiege the metropolis of Judea, to fpoil its inhabitants, to diveft it of the guardian care of Jehovah, and to restore its ancient fuperftition and idolatry. At this eventful period, the Lord of hofts caufed his tremenduous voice to be heard, and gave intimation that he was determined to keep poffeffion of his chofen city, and to defend from their foes, the people he had appropriated to himself.-He will not be afraid of their voice, nor abafe, &c. Far from being in any meafure intimidated by the noife, and the approach of those who were called forth to injure the interests of the objects of his favour, far from hafting away and leaving them defencelefs, the Lord that fitteth in heaven had them all in derifion. This interpretation, which is fupported by other paffages in the Prophets, where God in the execution of awful judgments is spoken of under the fimilitude here used, does not require from me any formal vindication.
So fhall the Lord of bofts come down, &c. The preceding comparison ferves to give fome idea of the wonderful interpofition of Jehovah in behalf of