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"the mystery of Christ, which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed to his holy Apostles and Prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ, by the gospel."
Isaiah, in his 42d chapter, introduces the Messiah as the reigning Lord over the Gentiles. "Behold my servant, whom I uphold, mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him, he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry nor up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth." St. Matthew quotes this prophecy, for the purpose of applying the latter part to Christ's humility, in withdrawing himself when he was opposed, and desiring the multitude not to make him known.‡ The former part of the prophecy plainly foretels the publication of the gospel to the Gentiles. This is still more clearly seen + Isaiah xlii. 1-3. Matt. xii. 18, 19.
Ephes. iii. 4-6.
in the 6th verse. "I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles."*
The prophecy in the 54th chapter of Isaiah, appears, from its very extensive nature, to have reference to the time when both Jews and Gentiles would be converted to a belief in Christ. It announces the conversion of the Gentiles, in words addressed to the Jewish church, as the emblem of the Christian. "Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child for more are the children of the desolate, than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord. For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left, and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. For thy Maker is thine husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel, the God of the whole earth shall he be called."+ When the gospel had been offered to the Jews, and been preached with success to the
*Isaiah xlii. 6.
+ Isaiah liv. 1-3 and 5.
Gentiles, the Messiah might be properly called the God of the whole earth. In a still more enlarged sense will he possess this title, when the Jews shall also turn to the Lord, when the fulness of the Gentiles shall have come in, and when all Israel shall be saved.
Bishop Lowth observes, that the subject of the 16th chapter of Isaiah is the great increase and the flourishing state of the church of God' by the conversion and accession of the heathen nations to it, which is set forth in such ample and exalted terms, as plainly shew that the full completion of this prophecy is reserved for future times. The subject is displayed in the most splendid colours, under a great variety of images highly poetical, designed to give a general idea of that perfect state of the church, which we are taught to expect in the latter days.**
The chapter begins, "Arise, shine, for the light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the
Bishop Lowth. Mant.
Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about and see; all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear and be enlarged, because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee."
The Gentiles are spoken of in scripture frequently as inhabiting the isles of the sea or the sea coasts. Here it seems to be foretold that many nations separated from each other by the sea, shall flow together, and be united under the banner of the great captain of their salvation, Jesus Christ.
In the 26th chapter is a prophecy of the manner in which the Almighty sometimes made use of his chosen people for the purpose of spreading the knowledge of himself among the other nations of the world. "It shall come that I will gather all nations and tongues, and they shall come and see my glory. And I will
*Isaiah lx. 1-5.
set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles."*
This purpose in scattering the people is likewise declared in other parts of the prophetic writings; thus in the Prophet Ezekiel it is said, "they shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall scatter them among the nations, and disperse them in the countries; but I will leave a few men of them from the sword, from the famine, and from the pestilence, that they may declare all their abominations among the heathen whither they come, and they shall know that I am the Lord."+
The Jews were chosen of God as his peculiar people, and they were destined to be a sign unto the world under any circumstances. If they were obedient to the voice of the Lord their God, and rendered themselves worthy of the blessings which God promised to bestow upon them, they would be a burning and a
Isaiah Ixvi. 18, 19. + Ezek. xii. 15, 16.