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the place of Messiah's birth, we will now use this as our clue for traversing the labyrinths (if such they will have them to be, but I prefer to say the highway) of that prophecy, which we thus assuredly know doth refer to Messiah. Being possessed of this key to the Person there spoken of, we must next endeavour to separate the strain in which it occurs from the other parts of the Book ; to find out the beginning and the ending of that piece of which the text referring to Messiah is a part. For that the whole of Micah is not one strain, there is both evidence in the composition of the book itself, and from the title or inscription in the first verse, setting forth that it came to him in the reigns of three successive kings, Jotham, Abaz, and Hezekiah. While I thus undertake to separate the book of Micah into its several strains of prophecy, I am fully aware that of him, as of all the Prophets, it may be affirmed that there is a unity, not only of style and manner, but also of subject, which causes that one book is not the repetition of another, but the presentation of the common truth under another aspect. The prophets were the preachers of ancient times, sent forth to bring men back from their wanderings into the ways of God; to warn them of calamities which were near at hand, and to instruct them by what means they might avoid them. Each prophet, therefore, takes the colour of the times in which he lived, of the degree and form of the wickedness which he was sent to reprove, and of the judgments which he came to avert from the people by their timely repentance. This is not the place to give a scheme of the several niches in the temple of truth which these messengers of Heaven occupy, and to characterize their several embassies to the world : but of Micah the prophet, with whom we have now to do, it is necessary that we should observe one or two things, as preliminary to this duty which now falls to our hand.

The days of Jotham, Abaz, and Hezekiah, during which he wrestled against the wickedness of Samaria and Jerusalem, were days of great tribulation and disaster to both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, whereof these were the capital cities. To the former they brought utter overthrow and captivity at the hand of the king of Assyria, as is recorded in the xvii th chapter of the Second Book of Kings; and to the latter they brought a most fearful influx of idolatry from Damascus, and a terrible invasion from Assyria, recorded in the xxviii th and xxxiid chapters of the Second Book of Chronicles. To restrain the fast flowing tide of iniquity, and to prevent the direful calamities which it ever bears along with it, Hosea and Amos and Isaiah had uttered some part of their prophecies; who all began to prophesy before the days of Micah, and were also contemporary with him. The progress which iniquity had made during the in

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terval, the greater dereliction of their duties both by priests and princes, the deeper darkness of the prophets, and the greater deceitfulness of all classes of the people, is, I think, to be clearly discerned in the descriptions of the second and seventh chapters of Micah. I question whether, in all the Scriptures, and in all language, there be such a description of a dissolving and dissolute society as is contained in the latter of these two places (vii. 1—7); or of cruel and tyrannical and sinful rulers, as is to be found in the former (ii. 1—8). He lived to see his words accomplished to the full upon Israel, whose utter ruin took place in the reign of Jotham, whom Hezekiah succeeded; and in the reign of this latter king he lived to see Judah sorely chastised by the Assyrians, and Jerusalem wonderfully delivered. Now, as it is almost a constant rule of prophecy that the far-off judgment or deliverance was seen through one near at hand, which resembled it, and was in truth typical of it, so as that the one could be expressed in terms of the other ; we shall, if I err not, find these historical notices serviceable in laying down the several parts of Micah's prophecy.

It is clear to me, that the language of the fifth chapter, where our key-text lies, carries a reference to the siege which Jerusalem endured and the deliverance which she received in the days of Hezekiah. “He bath laid siege against thee” (ver.1); "when the Assyrian shall come into our land” (ver. 5); “they shall smite the judge of Israel” (ver. 1); “now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth ;” “ they shall waste Assyria with the sword :” these, and other expressions, speak to my ear, familiar with the prophetic method, of an event in which Jerusalem is besieged by the daughter of troops, and her king insulted by the Assyrian; but afterwards both delivered and amply revenged ;- an event which happened to Hezekiah alone, of those three kings in whose days Micah prophesied, or indeed of all the kings who came after. It is equally clear to me, that the strain included in the two preceding chapters is written in times of a captivity, of a twofold captivity-of Israel and of Judah-whereof the former are cast out far away, and the latter abide a persecuted remnant ; unti} the time when the mountain of the Lord's house is exalted upon the top of the mountains, and the first dominion returns unto the daughter of Zion, who travails in great pain at Babylon, and is at length delivered of her great and everlasting Ruler. There is

There is so very clear a connection between this strain and that which follows in the fifth chapter, that the one cannot be interpreted without a continual reference to the other; and, indeed, the diligent study of them hath convinced me that they are one and the same, given at the same time, upon the eve of the siege of Jerusalem and its

deliverance by the miraculous overthrow of Sennacherib's host. Besides this, there are only, as I judge, two other strains of prophecy in the book of Micah : the one introductory, contained in the first two chapters; the other conclusive, contained in the last two. The former of these opens with a glorious prophecy of the coming of the Lord, when he shall tread upon the high places of the earth, and all nature shall shrink at his presence abashed, because of its sinfulness. It concludes with the exhibition of him as THE BREAKER, the Stone of Israel ; which smites the confederacy of all nations, and grinds them to powder, in order to remove the oppressor of his people, and establish them kings over all the earth. The last vision of the book, contained in the sixth and seventh chapters, reveals more fully than the others the great glory of Israel, as the mistress of the nations ; and the willing homage which the nations of the earth shall come under to her, in whom God hath manifested all his power and glory. This might haply be spoken after Judah was established in peace, when the king of Babylon, hearing of her wonderful deliverance, sent to congratulate Hezekiah on his recovery (Isai. xxxix.); which is a wonderful type of the time yet about to be, when the kings of all the earth shall come bowing to Jerusalem (Isai. Ix. 14), and shall send gifts thither, because of her holy temple, the dwelling-place of the great King (Psa. Ixviii. 29). Such, then, is our arrangement of Micah's prophecy: one strain, occupying the first two chapters, with which the prophet's mouth was opened to speak of the coming of the Lord to redeem Israel out of all her iniquity; a second, contained in the three following chapters, to bring on, and comfort them under, the captivity brought to pass by Shalmaneser, to shew beforehand, and to improve, the deliverance of Jerusalem, and Hezekiah its king; a third, contained in the sixth and seventh chapters, upon the occasion of the peace and celebrity which for a while came to them in consequence of that event. It is to the second of these that our attention is now particularly drawn, illustrated as it is by all the others.

In consequence of the intimate connexion between the third, fourth, and fifth chapters of our prophet, we must therefore take up our interpretation from the beginning of the third chapter, and conclude it with the ending of the fifth chapter;- a passage which exhibits in a remarkable manner that concise, rapid, and abrupt style for which Micah is remarkable amongst the Prophets ; and which renders him much more difficult of interpretation than Isaiah, with whom we have been heretofore conversant. The more need have we to pray, and the more earnestly do we pray, for the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

According to the scheme of our Prophet laid down above, it appears to me a thing beyond doubt, that the third, fourth, and VOL. 11.-NO. III.

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fifth chapters constitute one grand strain of prophecy concerne ing the destiny of Zion, the mountain of the Lord's holiness, and Jerusalem, the city of his habitation; given to justify Himself for that demolition and desecration to which he was about to give them over for a while, and to shew forth the eternal glory and universal supremacy on earth, which abideth them when that evil time of trouble should be ended. The purpose and method of the prophecy will open themselves the more as we proceed in its interpretation; but, to understand the necessity for this and similar strains, it must be borne in mind, that in the days of David, when Zion was taken from the Jebusites and became known by the name of the City of David, God chose it in the most solemn manner, and with the most holy and mighty words did consecrate it, as the seat of his throne and the place of the soles of his feet for ever. It is not in one Psalm, nor yet in ten, but I should judge in thirty or forty, that the fixed purpose and ratified decree of God is written, that he would for ever and ever make his name and his glory to rest upon Zion. Christ, God's King, who is to break the nations, is “set upon the holy hill of Zion” (Psalm ii.); and from Zion Jehovah sendeth “the rod of Christ's great power” (Psalm cx.) And when all the earth besides is judged, “ Mount Zion rejoiceth, and the daughters of Judah are glad, because it is the city of our God, and he will establish it for ever” (Psalm xlviii.) « The hill of God is as the hill of Bashan; an high hill, as the hill of Bashan. Why leap ye, ye high hills ? this is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the Lord will dwell in it for ever (Psalm lxviii. 15, 16). But, amongst a hundred other testimonies of God's eternal purpose to consecrate Zion as the foundation of his temple and his own dwelling-place, perhaps the most famous is the whole of the cxxxiid Psalm, which thus concludes: For the Lord hath chosen Zion : he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever : here will I dwell, for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision : I will satisfy her poor with bread. I will also clothe her priests with salvation; and her saints shall shout aloud for joy. There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for mine Anointed. His enemies will I clothe with shame; but upon himself shall his crown flourish” (vers. 13-18). Now, in the face of a thousand declarations to this effect, which were sung in the ears of his people every day, God is about to cast down the glory of this city and mountain, which since the days of David and Solomon--that is, for three hundred years—had been built

For than two thousand years he had resolved to cast them into the most terrible furnace of affliction which any city had ever known. Around that mountain he was about to bring the tumults of a thousand wars, and to deluge the country around with oceans of blood. Every nation which in succession should rise to the supremacy, with all their confederated bands, were destined to tread on Zion, and shout their revelry within the sacred walls of Jerusalem : and to the eye of man, no place was to be shewn so hated of God, so lost and vexed, as this Zion, upon which such splendid prophecies had gone before. If God doth not shew cause for all this, and if he doth not shew the consistency of all with the word which he had spoken of Mount Zion's eternal and abiding glory, then his promise hath failed; his purpose hath changed within himself, or is overthrown by the machinations of men. To the end, therefore, of justifying himself in that which he was to do, and preventing any one from supposing that his purpose concerning Zion and Jerusalem had undergone either modification or change, he giveth all his pains to foreshew, by the mouth of that band of prophets which he raised up half a century before the siege of the city by Sennacherib, and a whole century before the sack of it by Nebuchadnezzar, that this giving up was only for a season, in order to manifest his holiness in the sight of all the nations; and that he would restore her again with everlasting mercies. The strain of prophecy which we are now called upon to open is one of this sort; explaining the causes, and limiting the continuance, and defining the last end of Zion's troubles, and the eternal destination of power and glory which thereafter is reserved for her, according to the promises which went before upon her. While, therefore, it is very important in this respect, that it opens the whole purpose of God with respect to Zion and Jerusalem for ever, it is still more so, at all times, and especially in days like these, when strong nations and noble cities are breaking up under the hand of the Lord, because it exhibits the great principles of national and civic prosperity, the standing causes of national and civic downfall. God grant me his grace rightly to open this great subject, and faithfully to apply it to the case of our own nation and the nations with which we are surrounded ! It is too large for one interpretation, and may be aptly divided into three parts; the two former including the third and fourth chapters, and treating of the downfall and restoration of the mountain and city ; the last including the fifth chapter, and treating of the Person by whom it was to be accomplished.

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I. The prophecy addresseth itself to the “ heads of Jacob and the princes of the house of Israel,” in whom the nation is looked upon by God as represented; for whose faithfulness it is blessed, for whose unfaithfulness it is punished. If any one doubt concerning this principle of the Divine government, whether over cities or nations, let him read the history of the children of Israel, as it is recorded in the Books of Samuel, the Kings, and

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