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ISAIAH L. 4.
The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.
READING this comforting declaration, one cannot but ask, of whom speaketh the prophet, of himself, or of some other? Perhaps Isaiah might have some respect to the difficulties in his own work, and the encouragement he had to go on in it. A greater than Isaiah is here. In some preceding chapters the deliverance from the Babylonish captivity is celebrated in most lofty strains. Lest, after the accomplishment, it should be thought that this deliverance appeared much greater, and more glorious in prophecy than in fact, when the Jews returned from Babylon in a poor condition; the prophet in chap. xxix. shows, that the prophecy ultimately respected another redemption, which would as far surpass these expressions, as the Babylonish deliverance might seem to come short of them. The prophet has in his eye the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ, who is spoken of in the most elevated strains as God's servant, infinitely higher than Cyrus.
In this chapter God shows that those who were under calamities had themselves to blame. He neither divorced them as their husband, nor sold them as their Father. Their not being delivered was not for want of power in him; for, says he, "Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? Behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness." Sin was the The text may be considered as a proclamation of comfort to those who were captives, till they should be released. It is designed to solace the hearts of weary saints and sinners to the end of time. Under the Old Testament dispensation, Christ comforted the weary, and spake to them by his servants the prophets. In the fulness of time he spake in his own person. Then was this prophecy accomplished when he said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls." It is still fulfilled where Christ addresses sinners in his word and ordinances. It is the continued comfort of the church, that Jehovah has given to Christ the tongue of the learned, that he should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary. The phrase in the end of the verse, he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learner, applied to Isaiah or any minister, signifies, that God daily excited them to duty and assisted them in it: that to comfort others it behooved them to learn experimentally and in order to give instructions to sinners, they must receive them from
God. Applied to Christ, the phrase intimates that God prepared him a body, and bored his ear;-that day by day he listened to his Father that he might do his will; that his holy human nature was animated and assisted in his arduous work; and that to succour and comfort the weary he learned obedience by suffering, and had an experimental acquaintance with their trials.
In discoursing from these words I propose,
First, To delineate the character of those for whom provision is made,—the weary.
Secondly, To illustrate the gracious declaration, the Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to the weary. After which I shall endeavour in the
Third place, To explain the manner of procedure when Christ employs the tongue of the learned and refreshes the weary.
I. I begin with delineating the character of those for whom provision is made. While all have access to Christ, the weary only will improve it. Till sinners feel themselves in that situation, they neither know their need of the tongue of the learned, nor will take the benefit of the gracious words of the Redeemer. Therefore while Christ excludes none, he has persons of this description particularly in his eye.
1. The weary may be known from the opposite character. As we learn what light is by darkness, so
one description by the contrary. These of the opposite character are variously described in Scripture, and every account of them tends to illustrate that of the weary. They are said to be at ease in Zion. They neither feel their own misery, nor the affliction of Joseph. Sin within or around them gives them no trouble. They are neither disturbed by the dishonour done to God, nor the hurt to themselves. They are not disquieted by the suggestions of Satan. Like a strong man he keeps the house in peace, and the goods undisturbed. They are led by him; but they are led willingly, and without reluctance. Having made a covenant with Hell and Death, these neither break nor disturb their ease. They are said to be asleep. If there is any difference between this branch of their character and the last, it denotes a higher degree of security. Sleep is the native effect of ease. The spiritually weary neither find sleep to their eyes, or slumber to their eyelids. There is nothing in the sleep of sinners calculated to make them weary. They are in a state both of insensibility and delusion. Their dreams are such as please them, and till they awake their disappointment is unknown. Should they attend to the external performance of duties, or make a profession, still they are asleep. Not so the weary. In both senses they may well say, Our eyes, debarred from rest and sleep, thou makest still to wake. They are said to be whole. While of this description they cannot be weary, and feel no need of Christ's comforting medicine. A contrite heart and broken bones make persons uneasy, and keep them awake. As long as sinners are whole, they feel little or no pain.
It is far otherwise with the weary. They can scarcely tell where they feel most. They cry, as in Psa. xxxi. 9, 10, "Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly. For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing; my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed." In figurative language, should they attempt to move and employ any member, they find them all defective and diseased. Their hand is withered. Their eye is blind from their birth. Their legs are lame, and their loins filled with a loathsome disease. They find in experience "that there is no soundness in the flesh because of the Lord's anger: neither is there any rest in their bones because of sin." They are said to be rich, and increased in goods, and standing in need of nothing. In direct opposition to this, the weary know and feel that "they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." Nay, these are the very things which make them weary. It is a great part of their distress that they are naked, and have nothing to cover their shame, and defend them from the storm; and that they are blind, and neither see their danger nor deliverance. Extreme poverty completes their misery, and makes them weary, as they have nothing to buy food, medicine, or raiment. If Job was weary when a wind from every quarter blew down his son's house, and destroyed his children; the weary find that all their refuges were built on sand. The waves and winds dashed against them with fury, and levelled them with the ground. Finding themselves destitute of shelter,