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“When shall these eyes thy heaven-built w
And pearly gates behold ?
And streets of shining gold?
"O, when, thou city of my God,
Shall I thy courts ascend,
And Sabbaths have no end ?
“There happier bowers than Eden's bloom,
Nor sin nor sorrow kuow: Blest seats ! through rude and stormy scenes I onward
Why should I shrink at pain and woe?
Or feel at death dismay ?
And realins of endless day.
* Apostles, martyrs, prophets, there,
Around my Savour stand;
Will join the glorious band.
• Jerusalem! my glorious home !
My soul still pants for thee; Then shall my labours have an end,
When I thy joys shall see."
AIDS TO THE DEVELOPMENT
REV. J. BALDWIN BROWN, B.A.
HAVE FAITH IN GOD.
“Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God ?”—Isaiah xl, 27.
THERE was no man living at that time in Israel, or on earth, who had such reason to be hopeless as the man who wrote these words. Let no man, let no age, dare despair, if Isaiah, when those words were penned, was able to hold fast his faith in God. There is reason to believe that they were written early in Manasseh's reign. The last twenty-six chapters of his prophecies constitute one sublime poem, the grandest ideal poem in the world—Isaiah's Paradise regained. His other prophecies are fragmentary; state-papers, composed at various times, and as the varying circumstances of his people called for them. They have been arranged confusedly, without any regard to chronological order, though with some kind of reference to the subjects and the peoples with whose fortunes they concerned themselves. But these last chapters are a grand whole, composed as a whole, and having an internal unity ag
deep and strong as the unity of any epic in the world's literature. They form the epic of Messiah's reign. I believe this work to have been composed in the early years of the reign of Manasseh. Hezekiah was buried with his fathers, and his reformation was buried with him. The brief gleam of splendour which lit the decline and fall of the Jewish state and church was shrouded in gloom again; and to the eye of the old prophet, who had been the author and mainspring of Hezekiah’s reformation, the darkness was denser and drearier than ever-an Egyptian darkness, a darkness which might be felt. The picture of the times is drawn by a graphic hand in the twenty-first chapter of the first book of Kings. I believe Hezekiah to have been far too weak a man to originate and conduct a reformation ; Isaiah was the hero of it, and he wrote its epitaph. Doubtless there was a crowd of courtiers who hated Isaiah while they fawned on him, who cursed his reformation while they conformed to it, and pleased themselves with visions of idolatrous orgies, and frantic revelries, which should repay the self-denials he had imposed on them, when the old hero's head should be laid helpless in the dust. The day came at length when the tide turned, and bore the brutal idolaters on its flood to power. It is probable that in the second year of Manasseh's reign the grand old prophet sealed his prophecy with his life-blood, under the savage sentence of the impious king. Jewish tradition tells the tale, that“ asunder ;” in the epistle to the Hebrews, is Isaiah's epitaph. But he lived to write this prophecy, to utter the sublimest. words of hope and aspiration, to assert the eternal faithfulness of the Most High, the might of His hand, the purpose of His heart to redeem and glorify humanity, in words which for power and splendour are unmatched in the literature of mankind. I picture the aged man--fourscore years oldshutting himself up with his Bible and his God, shutting out
some were sawn
the blasphemies and obscenities which had usurped the air, and banished the hymns and litanies with which Hezekiah had filled it, and, far from abandoning his great hope, projecting it on the far future :-" For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given : and the government shall be upon his shoulder : and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Is. ix, 6, 7.) This he had been inspired to preach in the dark reign of Ahaz. Judaism might seem to perish, the world itself might seem to go to wreck, but nothing should kill the hope of the reign of that Divine Redeemer and King of Men, whose advent he had been commissioned to announce to the world. Earth may suggest no hope, the floods of evil are out, and they sweep every trace of a Divine reign ruthlessly away, but they do not sweep away God:“ Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But 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.” (Is. xl, 26-31.)
If this picture be true, no man then living had such reason to feel worn and weary, sad and even desperate, as this man. And yet, I know of no work which is charged with a hope so profound and yet so elastic, a joy so buoyant and exulting, as this song of the aged seer, whose every earthly hope had withered, and who was watching the toils of his tyrants closing steadily round him, and dragging him to a cruel and bloody death. Verily, it is from the deepest wells men see the stars most brightly. The lowest valleys grow the fairest, freshest flowers, whose odours fling far and wide on the breezes the
breath of their beautiful and joyous life. The words of richest cheer are ever spoken to us by the men who by all human standards should be the most cheerless. It is not racks and flames, pestilent dungeons, stripes, or torments, which can kill the hope of a man who has learnt that man's hope—the world's hope, is in the living God.
I. Isaiah here reaches and rests upon
foundations of the faith, trust, and hope of mankind--the living God.
Creation rests on His hand; man, the child of the higher creation, rests on His heart. That there is a mighty Divine hand behind and beneath all the apparent confusion of creation, the order of its disorder, the constancy of its change, the progress of its monotonous cycles, ruling the strife of its birth and death, its decay and regeneration, and holding in calm unswerving control the orbits of its stars, is the ground of our belief in the permanence of nature the maintenance through days and nights, years, generations, ages, and milleniums, of the constitution which regulates the whole life of this lower world. We rest on nature with the most trustful assurance; no shadow of a doubt saddens our gaze on the sunset splendour, lest for the last time the glow of its glory was being flung over the wearied world. In truth we are resting on God. Our minds search behind the veil of the visible for a mind with which ours may claim kindred, to whose wise and benign decisions we can trust with an absolute confidence which no fortuitous concourse and concert of atoms could inspire. Beyond the fact, the ultimate fact of creation, the will of the living God, none of us can penetrate. We come here to the end of creation, an end which is endless; all our convictions, assurances, hopes, find there their ultimate foundation ; they have no root, if they are not rooted in Him. What His power is to the material universe, His moral