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The subject of this Chapter is not unsimilar to the former. The Holy Ghost, by his servant the Prophet, is reproving the unfaithfulness of the people. The close of the Chapter contains one of the most sublime and consolatory representations of Jehovah, in the greatness and graciousness of his character, that can be conceived.
The chapter open, with remarking the inattention of the world to the operations of God in his providence's. God's faithful servants die, and the breach is not lamented as it ought; none considering that by so much grace as they possessed, that portion is taken from among men. Their prayers for Zion, those graces they exercised, and the supplications they put up for poor perishing sinners, cease with them. Here is cause for lamentation; for then it may be said, as by the Church of old, Abraham is ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledgeth us not, Isaiah 63:16 . But for them no tears need fall: could they speak to us, they would say, in language somewhat like that of Jesus, If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I go to my Father, John 14:28 . Reader! cherish the sweet thought! Hast thou thy friends departed, who left a blessed testimony behind them, that they are gone to be with Jesus? Think where they now are, entered into rest! Jesus is their rest, and their refreshing; Isaiah 28:12 ; Matthew 11:28-30 ; Psalms 116:7 .
What a change is here! Oh! the awfulness of an unawakened, unregenerated nature! What a sad thought is it, that from generation to generation, the deadly seeds of sin thus bring forth, and blossom, and spread their baleful fruit! Look into the world, as it is in the present day, and compare what is here said, with what every serious beholder is compelled to be a witness to, among the great mass of men. Was there ever a period in the annals of mankind; when the sons of the sorceress, the despisers of God and of his Christ, came forward with a more impudent and uncovered face? And, as might well be expected, when the fountain of true religion is corrupted, the streams would break out in adultery and whoredom: was there ever a generation more marked than the present for general profligacy of life and manners? Blessed be God! the promise still continues fulfilled: and must and ever will be fulfilled; Jesus hath a seed that serve him, who are accounted to the Lord for a generation, Psalms 22:30 . But while these are the salt of the earth, to preserve it from universal putrefaction; the whole world, as the Apostle said in his days, and it may be said with equal truth in ours, the whole world lieth in wickedness, 1 John 5:19 . Reader! amidst the multitudes who flock to the standard of Satan, now erected, are you of the happy distinguished few, whom Jesus hath gathered and brought into his own fold? Read attentively that alarming scripture, Revelation 12:12 . Read also that scripture, and consider how blessed it is to know that we have a personal interest in it, Colossians 1:12-13 .
This, it should seem, is a representation of such awful characters as were before described, disappointed in the pursuit of their pleasures, pausing over their dreadful state, and yet, though confessing all to be vanity and vexation of spirit, still going on from bad to worse, until life is over, and they lie down in sorrow. So the Lord elsewhere describes them; and so the world daily finds them; Isaiah 50:11 . Elihu hath drawn the most finished picture of such men, Job 35:9-10 : he represents them as crying out, and exclaiming continually under the vexation of a disappointed soul; but none of them cry out upon the Lord for deliverance. They are wearied in the greatness of their strength; but still they weary themselves for very vanity. Reader! mark from such characters what a dreadful blindness and captivity that must be, where sin forgeth such irons! But if the Lord removes the stumbling-block of a natural state, out of the way of his people (and none but the Lord can do it) the chain is then broken, and the poor deluded prisoner is free. Oh! Lord! in mercy look upon thine that are yet in the prison-house! Luke 4:18-19 ; John 8:36 .
Reader! how blessed and lovely do these sweet verses come in, after what was said before! The former representation of our poor nature, was like a dreary wilderness, or the heath in the desert, that knoweth not when good cometh. But this is like the refreshing herbage, or the cooling stream, discovered in a weary land, where no spring was expected. I pray you read the verses again and again, that their full grace and comfort may be felt in your soul. When God saith thus, well may every poor broken-hearted sinner hear. See how Jehovah pledgeth his own divine perfections for the confirmation of his holy word; and do not overlook that most precious part, that though Jehovah inhabiteth eternity, yet doth he also dwell in the heart of the humble. Solomon was struck with wonder at the thought, that God would visit his house; but what would he have said, had he lived to see Jesus dwelling in a body of flesh? And what ought you and I to say, under a consciousness that our bodies are his temple? 1 Kings 8:27 ; John 1:14 ; 1 Corinthians 3:16 .
Can there be a sweeter description than these words contain, of the graciousness of God, in his dealings, with sinners? The Lord corrects; the Lord hides his face; the Lord sends affliction. Wave follows wave, until the unthinking soul becomes humbled. But when at length the hand that smites, applies instruction to the stroke; and the Lord, who sends the rod, causeth the poor creature to hear the rod, and who hath appointed it; then the cry goeth forth from the soul, Save, Lord, or I perish! But I beseech you, Reader, to remark in all this, that it is the Lord's sole work, and wholly to the Lord's own glory. The Lord creates, and new creates, both the heart and the lips. It is he that both wounds and heals. Oh! the blessedness of sovereign grace!
These words are as awful, as the foregoing were comfortable. But every day's experience showeth, that the one is as sure as the other. When God's judgments and chastisements do not soften, they harden. The same heat which melts wax, makes the clay stoney. Alas! the heart that remains hardened under the calls of grace, will increase in obduracy, and, like the horse's hoof, with increasing years, become more callous. Well may everyone cry out, in the prayer of the Church, From all blindness of heart, good Lord, deliver us!
MY soul! learn, from this blessed chapter, to form a right estimate of the departure of the faithful. They enter into rest. They are taken away from the evil to come. And inasmuch as a state of rest surpasseth toil and trouble; a state of holiness, that of temptation; and victory is better than conflict; by so much ought believers to rejoice, when the souls of the faithful enter into their rest in Jesus. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
But what an awful state, as here described, is that of the unreclaimed sinner! And what a melancholy close to a life of sin and vanity, must be a departure under vexation of spirit! Come not thou, my soul, into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united.
From such views of the horrible lives, and more tremendous deaths, of unawakened sinners, do thou, my soul, turn thy thoughts, to contemplate the wonders of grace, recorded in this chapter, concerning that High and Lofty One, that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy. Oh! for grace to know, to feel, to enjoy, the blessedness here promised! Lord! I would say, do as thou hast said. Make my soul, by thy grace, suited for thyself: and then come and dwell in me, come and revive me; come and comfort me, that the bones broken by sin may rejoice.
Blessed be my God, thou hast indeed smitten for sin, and thou hast healed. God the Holy Ghost hath convinced of sin; and it is the same God the Holy Ghost that hath convinced of the righteousness of Jesus. Yea, Lord! it is thou that hast created indeed the fruit of the lips, and formed my heart anew in Christ Jesus. And to whom but to my God, in the riches of his sovereign grace, shall I ascribe the praise, that while to the unsubdued corruptions of sinners, there can be nothing but distress, and horror, and tempest, like the troubled ocean; I have peace with my God, through Jesus Christ our Lord! Blessed, blessed forever be God for Jesus Christ!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 57". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13