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signify a victorious champion; one of our own nature—a “very man," who should overcome the power of evil. But no less clearly does it predict his suffering. The serpent should "wound his heel.”
All through the pages of prophecy this truth is kept in prominence.
The great words on this subject are the familiar verses of Isaiah 53rd chapter where, in language of unsurpassed tenderness and beauty, he tells the awful story of the humiliation suffering and death of the Messiah—the servant of Jehovah. Familiar as they are we cannot forbear to quote them.
"Who hath believed our report"-i. e. the thing that we heard—? It was not new but it was so wonderful that it was incredible to men. “My servant shall be exalted and extolled and be very high” yet this exalted one shall be abased, despised, rejected and had in contempt, “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;" one from whom men would turn away their faces in aversion. Then that marvelous, pathetic, sublime and awful elegy.
"Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." "He was wounded for our transgressions." "He was bruised for our iniquities.
“The chastisement of our peace was upon him and with his stripes we are healed.”
"He was oppressed, yet he humbled himself.”
"Although he had done no violence neither was any deceit in his mouth yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him.”
"He bear the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressor."
HE book that bears Isaiah's name is one of the few books that may be called majestic.
It has the elements of grandeur, dignity and state
liness rarely found in such perfection, and, I think, nowhere else so well combined with the gentler grace of poetic beauty.
The grandeur of the thoughts, the dignity of its style and the splendor of its imagery do not destroy, but rather enhance the sweet and kindly fervor of its sentiments. It is a book to be loved as well as admired. It speaks as a friend to a friend, as well as a prophet of God to men.
Whether the book is the work of one author or two or more, is of slight importance, save to critics. If the leading violinist in the orchestra chose to change his instrument once, or often, during a concert, we find no fault, if the instruments are good and in tune with those of the other players. If this great singer who gave us the first thirty-nine chapters of this book be not the same as he who uttered the remaining chapters, very well; so be it. There is no fault in the harmony, they are well in tune, the motif is sustained and we feel confident that the music is by the same great composer-that it is God's niessage.
All that we have said of prophecy in general is eminently true of all the contents of this book. It speaks with an authority that finds the conscience, and awakens responsive echoes in what we feel to be our best and noblest consciousness.
No other critic is so unsparing in denunciation of men's folly and wickedness; no one so persistent in goading us on and up, out of our sin and our sloth and our weakness. He turns the
keen edge of his satire upon the pleasant lies we are so fond of telling ourselves. He scorns our pretended devotions, and our bargaining worship.
“To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me saith the Lord; I am full of the burnt offering of rams and the fat of fed beasts. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand to tread my courts?
Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies. I cannot away with it; it is iniquity even the solemn meeting.” Thus, and with much more of the same stern, indignant protest against the insincerity and empty formalism of his time, he scourges the people he loved. Then, almost in the same breath, he pleads with them in the tones of gracious invitation.
“I will not hear you for your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doing from before mine eyes ; cease from evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be like crimson, they shall be as wool."
These verses may be taken as a fair example of Isaiah's preaching; for preaching it is, eloquent and persuasive preaching, unsparing in criticism of their faults, but tender in pleading for reform and in the offer of pardon and peace.
Much of the book is of this character; but the bright vision of redemption and of a golden age to come is ever the ground of his hope, and the chief incentive offered for nobler living. This vision reaches its culmination in the splendid passages of chapters ix and xi e. g. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulders; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, 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 forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will perform this." Chapter 1x:6-7.
The familiar verses of the eleventh chapter beginning, “There shall come forth a shoot out the stem of Jesse; and a branch shall grow out of his roots," is second only to those just quoted, and together they give us the loftiest conception of the hopes of Israel, but the same glorious expectation gives color and brightness to almost every page of the book.
A large part of the book is occupied with these two themes —the call to nobler living, and the sweet hopes of a redeemed and purified nation which should draw to itself, by its own inherent beauty the good and great of all the nations.
The various "burdens” respecting the neighboring nations are very much like the sermons delivered to his own countrymen. Through them all sings the gospel call.
"Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our Lord, for he will abundantly pardon.”
But these calls to repentance and reform are not mere exhortations to better morals. They are very much more than this, they constantly remind the people that they can never of themselves recover their lost estate, or cleanse themselves from sin. No prophet, nor apostle, ever preached so boldly the absolute sovereignty of God or the depravity of man.
His theory of salvation was as simple as it was great. The favor of God granted on the condition of repentance was the very essence of it all. It was evangelical to the last degree.
The weight of argument seems to favor the view that the latter part of the book-chapters XL-LXV were not by the same author as the first, but I confess it is very hard to feel that
the 52d chapter for example, was not sung by the same great voice that sang the first six chapters. If it is another, it is wonderfully tuned to unison both of style and sentiment. And the second part seems to develop from the first, and to complete it, in such symmetrical and perfect proportions, that it cannot be separated without great loss of artistic beauty and logical force.
We cannot now follow out in detail the various contents of the book, nor is it at all our purpose to attempt a commentary
Our purpose must be limited to the mere outline of the history of the redemption.
Much that we have said of prophecy in general is illustrated and exemplified particularly in this book; but there is one doctrine of the very first importance that appears distinctly for the first time in the latter chapters of Isaiah. It may be designated as the doctrine of the "Suffering Servant."
The idea that the world's salvation should be accomplished not without conflict; and the wounds of battle, was distinctly implied in the very first announcement of the gospel. The protevangelium of the garden of Eden promised that the seed of the woman shall crush the serpent's head, but the serpent shall "wound his heel.”
This prediction has been indeed abundantly fulfilled in the conflict waged in all the ages between the powers of darkness and the children of light—“That great fight, by truth and freedom ever waged with wrong”—but nothing more specific than this seems to have been conceived of till Isaiah's day.
But the conception of Israel as the priest of the world leads to the thought that, since salvation is to come by suffering, the servant of God, by whom this salvation is to be mediated to the world, must of necessity be a suffering servant-must serve his office by suffering—and, as the priest of the world, standing as the world's peculiar representative must vicariously suffer. Then, as the thought evolves in the nature of its own