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subject, so hard to be taken down by a visibly professing people under spiritual declension and defection, that some expositors conclude that it was for this very prophecy, that the people procured the prophet Isaiah to be put to death. And we know that Stephen's reciting and improving this passage in the first, and this verse, was in great part a cause of that rage the Jews expressed against him, Acts vii. 49, 50, 54. “As saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne and earth is my footstool : what house will ye build me, saith the Lord ? or what is the place of my rest?
Hath not my hand made all these things ?-When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But the more hard such words are to be borne, the more need there is that they should be spoken; and therefore the prophet faithfully delivers this message from the Lord, (ver. 1). “ Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool : where is the house that ye build unto me, and where is the place of my rest?” To beat down the vain confidence of the Jews, as if because God's temple was among them, therefore he could not go from them; the Lord here holds forth and asserts to them his incomprehensible greatness ; “ Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool.” He filled heaven and earth with his presence, yea heaven and the heaven of heavens could not contain him : He is not included in, or confined to any place : Hence he demands, “Where is the house that ye build unto me, and where is the place of my rest ?” This demand imports in general, that there could be no house built that should hold or contain God, wherein he might rest and repose himself; and in particular, upbraids them with imagining that the great God was confined to, or detained in the temple, as an idol in some cell or house framed for it; as if he could find no rest any where else but there. It is true, the temple was a great help, privilege and advantage to them; as it was a means of God's worship, and sign of God's presence among them; but they fondly supposing God to be bound to them thereby, made it of a help to become a hindrance.
In the text we have, 1. What God had done, expressed by way of concession or affirmative relation; which as things past, could give no security for future good : “ For all those things hath my hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord.”
2. What God would do, expressed by way of promise, which might be constantly and certainly depended upon : “ But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit and trembleth at my word.”
Concerning the former part of the words, there arise two questions :
Quest. I. What is the antecedent to the relative those, those things which it is said God had made, and that they had been?
Answ. Some refer it to the heaven and earth mentioned in the beginning of the first verse. Them, and whatsoever is contained in them, all the works of creation which we behold, above or below, in the sky or heavens, or on the earth. Others refer it to the house that had been built unto God, that had been the place of his rest, viz. the temple mentioned in the latter part of the first verse. It is not inconsistent or impossible but both may be referred to, having been just before both mentioned, and the repeating of the relative is not unlikely, but doth intimate so much; “ All those things hath my hand made,” viz. the works of creation. “ And all those things have been,” viz. that have pertained to my temple, house, rest and abode among you.
Quest. Il. What is the scope and drift of these words, to what end are they thus expressed ? - For all those things hath my hand made,” &c.
Ans. They may import either
1. Seeing that God is He who has given being to all things, one and another, he cannot be supposed to have any need of, to receive benefit by, or be engaged unto man for any service he hath done him. And so they respect and may be joined with the following words after this manner, q. d. Although I who am the author and creator of all things whatsoever, cannot therefore need or be engaged to any creature, yet I will condescend to show grace to such who are of a truly humble mind, and do fear before
My greatness shall not hinder me dwelling with, and regarding the lowly in spirit. Or else
2. It may be as if the Lord should say, It is true, my temple, my house, my rest, my worship, order and ordinances have been among you: “All these things have been :” But the bare being of these is no certain sign of my continuing presence and favor ; there may be many things that may drive me away, notwithstand ing all that may have been of this nature : But here I give you a certain mark by which you may try and be assured of my favor, viz. if these following properties be found in you ; that you be poor, contrite in spirit, and tremble at my word. 66 But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor,” &c.
I shall a little open this latter part of the words.
But to this man—scil. To every such man or woman ; and therefore to any company or society of such men as shall be so spirited; to any people that are in such a frame. What agrees to individuals, will also agree to the whole that is made up of such individuals.
Will I look.-Verbs of sense denote also suitable and proportionable affections. It imports therefore, to look with favor and acceptation, to respect, regard, take notice and take care of, to accept with good will, to embrace with favor and love. So
Exod. ïi. 25. “God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect to them.” Numb. xvi. 15. “ Moses was very wroth and said to the Lord, respect not thou their offering.” Ps. xi. 7. “ His countenance doth behold the upright." Amos v. 22. “Your meat-offerings I will not accept, neither will I regard,”—which is the same word with this here in the text.
Even to him that is poor.—The word sometimes signifies those which are outwardly poor and afflicted, and such frequently is the condition of those in this world who find most favor with God. But here it is to be understood of such who are spiritually poor, or poor in their own sight and esteem, poor in spirit, as they are called Matt. v. 3. that think modestly, lowly, meanly of themselves. They are meek and humble, that feel their need of divine answers to their cries, and of divine help. All men indeed are poor in spiritual regards, but it is the man that does duly sense his spiritual poverty, who understands himself to be and bears himself as a poor man, that is here meant. Qui nihil altum de se sapit. His heart is not haughty, nor his eye lofty, and he feels and believes that there is no cause they should.
And of a contrite spirit.—The word properly signifies, smitten in spirit, and intends one whose heart smites him for his sins and sinfulness, whose spirit is grieved and wounded under his guilt and pollution, who is in bitterness by looking on his “ Lord whom he has pierced by his sins,” and his heart yields and falls under the Lord's threatening of, and sentence against his sin.
And trembleth at my word,-i. e. That hath a filial fear of God wrought in his heart by the word, so as to stand in awe of the word and with reverence to receive and attend it. This trembling according to the use of the word 79 imports,
1. An awe of the word of God : that it commands and stills the heart ; that there is a fear of the threatenings, a fear of incurring the penalty of unbelief of and disobedience to the word; a fear of neglecting the commands and losing the reward proposed in the word. Amos iii. 6, 8. “ Shall a trumpet” (to which the voice of the Lord's prophet convincing of sin by the word is compared, Isa. lviii. i, “Lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression,") " be blown in the city and the people not be afraid ? The lion hath roared” (i. e. the invincible irresistible God hath threatened judgment by his word) “who will not fear?” It is expected such reproofs and threatenings by the word should work an awe.
2. A careful solicitude to attend the direction and prescript of the word of God. To give it due entertainment, to have it flourish
In this sense the word is used, 2 Kings iv. 13. “Behold thou hast been careful for us with all this care.” It is such a trembling, not as makes men fly from God, but as makes
them most careful to subject to the will of God revealed in his word, as makes them busy themselves to perform, and do what God's word requires.
3. A making haste to attend the commands of God's word. Making speed without delay to obey the word of God as that which we are afraid to put off or neglect at all. So the word sometimes signifieth to run in haste, or to run in fear or with trembling.
Thus God here gives the character of those whom he will in favor and mercy look to or upon. And this is to be understood as exclusive of all others, scil. that they are these only that God is engaged thus to look upon. He has something else to say to those of a contrary spirit and frame. Ps. cxxxviii. 6. “ Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect to the lowly, but the proud he knoweth afar off.” And this the Seventy do directly point to in their rendering this latter clause thus, Και επι τινα επιβλεψω, αλλ' η επι τον ταπεινον, etc. And upon whom should I look but upon for unto] him that is poor, &c. And I have seen English translation that renders the words in like manner, q. d. Whom else can it be thought I should regard with favor and set my
but such as are here characterized ? But these I will. Whence we may observe ;
Doct. That whatever may have been the great works of God in the world, or his signal dispensations toward any people, yet the standing trial of a person's, and so a people's acceptation with God, is their being of a poor and contrite spirit, and trembling at his word.
See this further confirmed, Isa. lvii. 15. “For thus saith the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Hos. xiv, 3. " In thee the fatherless findeth mercy.' Prov. iii. 34. “He giveth grace to the lowly.” Ps. li. 17. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."
I shall endeavor to lead you to the plain and clear understanding of this truth, by these following conclusions.
Concl. I. All the great things done in the world, they are the work of God. His hand has made and framed the whole fabric of heaven and earth. He hath hung out the globe of this world; hung the earth upon nothing; drawn over the canopy of the heavens ; laid the foundation of the earth in its place; created that fountain and centre of light, heat, and influence in this lower world, the sun ; together with all the lesser light bodies, which
are for times, for signs and for seasons, the moon and stars; and he hath set and settled the ordinances for them all. Ps. cii. 25. “ of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands.” Jer. xxxi. 35. “ Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night; which divideth the sea, when the waves thereof roar ; the Lord of Hosts is his name.” The seas, the vast mountains also, and the wind so undiscernible in its motions, and other strange meteors, they are his work. Amos iv. 13. “ For lo, he that formeth the mountains and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treads upon the high places of the earth; the Lord, the God of Hosts is his name. Job xxxvii. with xxxviii. The continued creation of those beings that are ever coming up, and going off the stage of this world, by a perpetual, orderly succession and propagation, they are also his work. Ps. civ. The whole administration of Providence in the upholding and government of all created beings, in a way of highest wisdom and exact order, it is all his work. All great revolutions, signal and remarkable dispensations, things beyond the ordinary course and power of nature, or such as do show forth the highest strains of wisdom, power, grace or justice, he doeth them all. Ps. lxxiv. 12-17. “ For God is my king of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth. Thou didst divide the sea by thy strength. Thou breakest the heads of the dragons in the waters. Thou breakest the heads of the leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness. Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood : thou driedst up mighty rivers. The day is thine, and the night also is thine, thou hast prepared the light and the sun. Thou hast set all the borders of the earth : thou hast made summer and winter.” Those potable changes in the world in the promoting or suppressing, exalting or bringing down of kingdoms, nations, provinces or persons, they are all wrought by him. Ps. lxxv. 6—8. “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge, he putteth down one, and setteth up another. For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red : It is full of mixture, and he poureth out of the same." Ezek. xvii. 24. " And all the trees of the field shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish : I the Lord have spoken, and have done it." The yearly seasons, also seed-time and harvest, summer and winter, binding up and covering the earth with frost, ice and snow, and the releasing and renewing of the face of the earth again, it is his work. Ps. cxlvii. 15, 18. “He sendeth forth his commandment