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PART OF THE PROPHECY OF isaiah, relaTING TO THE SUFFERINGS OF THE MESSIAH.
From Chap. lii, liii.
BEHOLD, my servant shall prosper; he shall be raised aloft, and magnified, and very highly exalted.
As many were astonished at him; (to such a degreeTM was his countenance disfigured, more than that of man; and his form, more than the sons of men ;)
So shall he sprinkle many nations: Before him shall kings shut their mouths: for what was not before declared to them, they shall see; and what they had not heard, they shall attentively consider.
Who hath believed our report: and to whom hath the arm of JEHOVAH been manifested?.
For he groweth up in their sight like a tender sucker and like a root from a thirsty soil: He hath no form nor any beauty, that we should regard him:nor is his countenance such, that we should desire kim.
Despised, nor accounted in the number of nien; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; as one that hideth his face from us: He was despised, and we esteemed him not..
Surely our infirmities he hath borne: and our sorrows, he hath carried them: yet we thought him judicially stricken smitten of GoD, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions; was smitten for our iniquities; the chastisement, by which+ our peace is effected, was laid upon him; and by his bruises we are healed.
We all of us like sheep have strayed; we have turned aside, every one to his own way; and JEHOVAH hath made to light upon him the iniquity of us all.
It was exacted, and he was made answerable; and he opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb; so he opened not his mouth.
By an oppressive judgment he was taken off; and his manner of life who would declare? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the trangression of my people he was smitten to death.
And his grave was appointed with the wicked; but with the rich man was his tomb.
Although he had done no wrong, neither was there any guile in his mouth; yet it pleased JEHOVAH to crush him with affliction.
If his soul shall make a propitiatory sacrifice, he shall see a seed which shall prolong their days, and the gracious purpose of JEHOVAH shall prosper in his hands.
Of the travail of his soul he shall see [the fruit], and be satisfied: by the knowledge of him shall my righteous servant justify many: for the punishment of their iniquity he shall bear.
Therefore will I distribute to him the many for his portion; and the mighty people shall he share for his spoil: because he poured out his soul unto death; and was numbered with the transgressors, and bare the sin of many; and made intercession for the transgressors*.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. Instead of attempting a very minute explanation of
* Bishop Lowth's translation.
this passage of prophecy, we will merely point out those circumstances which require particular attention.
The person here spoken of as the servant of Gon, is the MESSIAH, considered as Man. The prophet foretels that he should be raised to glory, but should first endure such unparalleled sufferings as would excite the wonder of the world; and he should sprinkle, with the dew of his doctrine and with baptism, many nations; that even kings should be silent through astonishment at the relation of the wonderful circumstances attending him, and think them worthy of their most serious consideration: yet numbers would remain incredulous, and disbelieve the report which the prophets should make, that the ARM of the LORD was manifested in him. For though the MESSIAH, according to his human nature, would proceed (as the prophet had before predicted) from the root of Jesse, and be the son or lineal descendant of David, he should bear no marks of royalty; and so far from being desired for a King by the Jews, he should be despised and rejected: and instead of possessing a greater share of worldly blessings than other men, his life would be a continual scene of affliction, as he would suffer not only in his own person, but would also take a benevolent share in all the pain and sorrow to which the whole race of mankind are subject; and at last submit to an ignominious death, which many should regard as a punishment inflicted on him by GoD for his crimes, and call him a malefactor.
To prevent these misapprehensions, the prophet was inspired to assign the cause why these sufferings were to fall on the MESSIAH; and thus we learn, that he was required to endure them for the sake of mankind, who, having offended JEHOVAH, and being unable to make atonement for their own sins, stood in need
of a propitiatory sacrifice to be offered in their stead: therefore God graciously resolved to accept his life as such, instead of condemning all sinners to eternal death.
It was farther revealed by the Prophet, that the MESSIAH would bear every affliction with the most exemplary meekness; that no advocate would appear to plead his cause; and that after he had suffered an ignominious death, his enemies would appoint him a grave with the wicked, but that he should notwithstanding be buried in the sepulchre of the rich.
Thus far the prophet, according to the fore-knowedge of God, foretold the exaltation of CHRIST, his preceding humiliation, sufferings, death, and burial, and also his intercession. He was then inspired to add a divine promise, that if the MESSIAH would willingly make this propitiatory sacrifice, he should after his death see a seed (meaning, as we may suppose, his disciples and fol lowers) springing as it were, from him, agreeably to our LORD's comparison of himself to a grain of wheat *; and that this seed should, through their belief of his doc. trine, prolong their days (even as the Gospel teaches us) to eternal ages. In this manner were the gracious purposes of Gop for the redemption of mankind to prosper in the hands of the MESSIAH; whilst the consequences of his humiliation, sorrow, sufferings, and death, should afford him the highest satisfaction; and his faithful fol lowers, who would be many, should be justified or ac cepted as righteous through the knowledge of him, because he would make the atonement required by divine justice for the sins of mankind, by offering himself in their stead and thus restore all who should believe in him,
See Seet. xil
and comply with the terms of salvation offered by him, to the favour of GOD, who would regard them as righteous for his sake. This gracious promise to the MESSIAH concludes with an assurance, that many should, through Divine influence, adhere to him, and that even the most mighty nations should be converted to the belief of him: because when he might have claimed an exemption from death as his due, he willingly" poured out his soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors, and bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."
Is it possible to draw a more exact representation of the MESSIAH, than is exhibited in this passage of prophecy, or to give a more satisfactory explanation of the purpose of his sufferings? It perfectly accords with the narrative of our LORD's life and doctrine written by the Evangelists, and is not applicable to any other per son who was ever born into the world. The doctrine of the Apostles, after the descent of the HOLY GHOST, illustrates it more fully.
There are many parts of the prophecies, besides those already introduced, which might with great propriety be interwoven in our LORD's history; as they shew the admirable connexion there is between the Old and New TESTAMENTS, and prove that they were dictated by the same Spirit. The Prophets inform, us what the MESSIAH would do and suffer; the Evangelists relate what he actually did and suffered.
Whoever reads the history of our LORD will perceive, that the events which befel him were such as might naturally have been expected, considering his si tuation, and the characters and power of his opponents, and that his words and actions were suited to each ocsasion with the exactest propriety; yet we are frequently