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"known part of the poetical character, which equally difcriminates the prophetical and the "metrical books, from thofe acknowledged to "be profe: It will be of use to trace out and to "mark this conformity with all poffible accuracy; to observe how far the peculiar cha"racteristics of each ftyle coincide, and to fee "whether the agreement between them be fuch as to induce us to conclude, that the poetical "and the prophetical character of ftyle and "compofition, though generally supposed to be "different, yet are really one and the fame *.". And having endeavoured, with great accuracy and tafte, to establish his hypothefis, he fubmits to the judgment of the candid reader his cbfervations upon a fubject which hardly admits of proof and certainty, which is rather a matter of opinion and of taste than of science.


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The polished Dr. Hurd, bishop of Worcester, confiders the prophetic ftyle in his Ninth Sermon, introductory to the Study of the Prophecies. I cannot deny myself the pleasure of transcribing a few fentences from that excellent difcourfe. The juftly admired writer, in a deduction of the causes which produced the, character of the prophetic ftyle, fays, " He believes that charac"ter is truly given by those who affirm, that "the ftyle of the prophets was only the poeti"cal and highly figurative style of the Eastern "nations. " And having given an account of the emblematic and highly coloured expreffion, which glares fo ftrongly in the prophetic fcrip

*Page 3. Second Edit. † Vol. ii. p. 79. Fourth Edit. tures,


tures, he thus proceeds: "This then is the true "and proper account of that peculiar style which "looks fo ftrangely, and, to those who do not "advert to this original of it, perhaps fo fantaftically, in the writings of the prophets. "And what more natural, than that a mode of expreffion, which was fo well known, fo commonly practised, and so much revered; which was affected by the wittieft, nay, by the wifeft "of thofe times; which was employed in the theology of the Eaftern world, in its poetry, "its philofophy, and all the fublimer forms of compofition; what wonder, I fay, that this customary, this authorized, this admired strain of language, fhould be that in which the facred "writers conveyed their highest and most important revelations to mankind *?" Having quoted these two elegant authors on the fubject of ftyle, it is unneceffary for me to add any thing farther on this topic.



As to the diftribution of the feveral parts of which this book is compofed, and the arrangement of the difcourfes it contains: It comprehends a number of prophecies, delivered on various occafions, published at different seasons, and afterward collected together by the priefts, or fome other good men, perhaps under the infpection of pious king Hezekiah. Whilft that upright prince fat on the throne of Judah, the Proverbs of Solomon were copied out by his ment; and having collected and tranfcribed them, we may naturally fuppofe they would

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+ Prov. xxv. I.


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not allow the Prophecies of Ifaiah to lie neglect ed. The feveral prophecies are diftinguished by the titles prefixed to them, the fubjects of which they treat, or the time in which they were delivered, excepting the laft, contained in the fortieth, and following chapters to the end; the diftribution of which is not fo easily afcertained, as it is not divided into parts by the prophet, nor marked by infcriptions, and feems to be one continued compofition.

The whole prophetical part may be divided (according to the learned Vitringa*, to whofe excellent Commentary I acknowledge myself much indebted for affiftance in the following Lectures) into twenty-five difcourfes; fixteen of which are recorded in the first thirty-five chapters; the other nine are contained in the fortieth, and twenty-fix chapters that follow to the end. The hiftorical part occupies the thirty-fixth, thirty-feventh, thirty-eighth, and thirty-ninth chapters.

The prophecies may be diftributed into five parts, in the manner following:

1. The first twelve chapters, from the first to the twelfth inclufive, comprize five prophetic difcourfes, addreffed to the Jews and the ten tribes, whom the prophet, in different ways, reprehends, reproves, directs, and comforts.

2. The next twelve chapters, from the twelfth to the twenty-fourth inclufive, contain eight difcourfes; in which are narrated the various fortunes of the Babylonians, the Philistines, the

Proligom. page 24.


Moabites, the Syrians, the Affyrians, the Ethiopians, the Egyptians, the Arabians, and Tyrians.

3. The eleven chapters that follow, from the twenty-fourth to the thirty-fifth inclufive, comprehend a fong of triumph, and three long fermons, defcribing the awful judgments and calamities which were to be inflicted on the incorrigible Jews, the enemies of the church of Chrift; with which are interfperfed many precious promifes, directed to the peculiar people of God.

4. The ten chapters which intervene, from the thirty-ninth to the forty-ninth inclusive, relate four confolatory difcourfes; in which the advent of the great Meffiah is foretold; the figns, the circumftances, and effects of his appearance are marked; and the great deliverance he should accomplish for the church is predicted.

5. In the last seventeen chapters, from the forty-ninth to the end, are recorded five excellent difcourfes, abounding with the richest imagery and most beautiful figures, exhibiting the various viciffitudes and fortunes of the perfon and kingdom of Jefus Chrift; with which the prophecy concludes.

The hiftorical part, which is comparatively fhort, occupies the thirty-fixth, thirty-feventh, thirty-eighth, and thirty-ninth chapters. It is employed in defcribing fome remarkable occurrences of the times in which Isaiah fuftained the character of a prophet of the Lord, connected with the leading fubjects treated in this prophecy. Agreeable to this analyfis, I proceed in the following Lectures.

With refpect to the plan on which they are executed: The first and principal bufinefs of a lecturer, according to my notion of expofitory exercises or lectures (as we call fuch difcourfes in Scotland), is to give the plain and literal fenfe of the words, then to afcertain the meaning of the expreffion, to elucidate the fubject, and afterward to improve it, for inftruction, for reproof, for direction, or confolation, as the occafion feems to require. It is of great confequence rightly to underftand the phrafes and expreflions, particularly in the prophetical books, where from the literal are often deduced deep and recondite fenfes, which depend entirely on the juft and accurate interpretation of the words of prophecy. In difcuffing the parts which feem purely prophetical, it is requifite to explain the import of the phrafcology, to show the matter of the prediction, to point out the perfons and places to which they refer, and the time when they have been or fhall be accomplished. This is highly neceffary, that we may understand what is foretold, to whom it fhall be fulfilled, when and where its completion may be expected. I am fenfible that the application of the prophecies to their correfponding events is attended with confiderable difficulties. The obfcurity in which they are neceffarily involved, the general terms and mixed ftyle in which they are commonly announced, and the hyperbolical ftrain in which they are often delivered, render them more liable to misinterpretation than other parts of fcripture. Befides, inadvertence to the connection whereby events are linked together,


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