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1. A Rebellious Nation

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 2Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. 3The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. 4Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.

5Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. 7Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. 8And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 9Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.

10Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. 11To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. 12When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? 13Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. 14Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. 15And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.

16Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 17Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. 18Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: 20But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

21How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. 22Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water: 23Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them. 24Therefore saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:

25And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin: 26And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city. 27Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.

28And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the Lord shall be consumed. 29For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen. 30For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water. 31And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.

20. But if ye refuse and rebel The wicked always think that the severity of the punishment is greater than their guilt, even though the Lord chastise them very gently; and although they do not venture to justify themselves entirely, yet they never cease, as I formerly said, to accuse God of excessive severity. But the Prophet threatens that there will be no end of their calamities till they be destroyed; and lest they should imagine that they had nothing more to fear than those slight and inconsiderable punishments which they had hitherto suffered, he declares that far heavier judgments of God are still awaiting them.

The papists torture this passage to support the doctrine of freewill, and argue in the following manner: — “If men be happy whenever they are willing to obey God, it follows that this is placed in our own power.” The argument certainly is very childish; for the Lord does not inform us by the Prophet what is the nature or extent of our capacity for good or evil; but he reminds us that it is our own fault if we do not enjoy good things, and that the calamities with which we are afflicted are the punishments of our disobedience. The question, whether a man can make his bad will good, is altogether different from the question, whether, by the bad will, which is natural to him, he brings upon himself all the evils which he endures. Unjustly and falsely, therefore, do those skillful and ingenious doctors employ this passage to support their doctrine about a free choice of good and evil.

For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it 2626     This paragraph, which our Author had inadvertently inserted in his exposition of the nineteenth verse, is here restored to its proper place. — Ed. Since men who are blinded by their lusts are little moved by threatenings, the Prophet, in order to arouse them from deep slothfulness, reminds them that this declaration is not uttered by a mortal man, but has proceeded from the mouth of God, who is not changeable like men, but adheres constantly to his purpose. 2727     “For Jehovah hath spoken, who fulfills his threatening as well as his promises, and does not rashly recall what he hath spoken.” — Rosensmuller. He therefore mentions the mouth of the Lord, in order to terrify them, that they who in their vices have fallen into a deep slumber may give earnest attention to his threatenings.


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