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40. Comfort for God's People

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’S hand double for all her sins.

3The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: 5And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. 6The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: 7The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. 8The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

9O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! 10Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. 11He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

12Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? 13Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him? 14With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding? 15Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. 16And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. 17All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.

18To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him? 19The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains. 20He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved. 21Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: 23That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity. 24Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble. 25To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. 26Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. 27Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God?

28Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

9. Ascend on the high mountain. He proceeds with the same subject; for the Lord, having formerly promised that he would give prophets who should soothe the grief and fear of the people by promises, now commands that this consolation shall be more widely spread; because it is his pleasure to diffuse his grace throughout the whole of Judea.

Lift up thy voice aloud, O Jerusalem. Formerly he had given to Jerusalem, and Zion the hope of this joyful message; now he commands that the same voice shall be spread and shall be heard through other cities, and, for this reason, gives orders that the loud voice shall be lifted up, and proclaimed from a lofty place. Although by the words “Zion” and “Jerusalem” he means the same thing, yet the repetition is emphatic; for he shews that one city excels all other cities, for no other reason than because God hath chosen it to be his sanctuary.

That bringest tidings. He gives to the city this appellation, because there the priests and Levites were instructed according to the injunctions of the Law, that they might be the teachers of the whole people, and by their labors might spread the doctrine of salvation. (Malachi 2:7.) Yet we ought carefully to observe this commendation which God bestows on his Church, that it may not be without a clear mark of distinction; for an assembly in which the preaching of heavenly doctrine is not heard does not deserve to be reckoned a Church. In this sense also, Paul calls it (1 Timothy 3:15) “the pillar and foundation of the truth;” for although God might have governed us by himself, and without the agency of men, yet he has assigned this office to his Church, and has committed to it the invaluable treasure of his Word. For the same reason it will be called in another passage, “the mother of all believers.” (Isaiah 54:1; Galatians 4:26.) Hence it follows that nothing is more absurd and wicked than for dumb idols to boast of the name of the Church, as is done in Popery.

We are likewise taught, that the Church has not been instructed by God, in order that she may keep her knowledge hidden within herself, but that she may publish what she has learned. Besides, he commands that grace shall be freely and boldly proclaimed, that prophets and teachers may not speak with timidity, as if it were a doubtful matter, but may shew that they are fully convinced of the certainty of those things which they promise, because they know well that “God, who cannot lie,” (Titus 1:2,) is the Author of them. He enjoins the witnesses of his grace to proceed from Zion, that they may fill with joy the whole of Judea.

Behold your God! This expression includes the sum of our happiness, which consists solely in the presence of God. It brings along with it an abundance of all blessings; and if we are destitute of it, we must be utterly miserable and wretched; and although blessings of every kind are richly enjoyed by us, yet if we are estranged from God, everything must tend to our destruction. From this circumstance it ought also to be remarked, that nothing is more opposite to faith than to estimate by the present appearances of things what God declares by his prophets, who at that time must have been struck dumb, had they not raised their views above the world, and thus, through the power of unshaken boldness and perseverance, dared to draw others along with them, that they might cherish good hopes when matters were at the worst. And indeed when wicked men and wickedness prevail, the greater the terror that is spread all around, and the greater the seeming wretchedness of the Church, the more ought we to extol the grace of God, and to point out his presence to believers. 113113     “A ceux qui la veulent contempler en foy.” “To those who wish to behold it by faith.”


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