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creace with sythes, and the braunches shall be taken awaye with hokes."

_“ sprigs-branches,” Dub_h1023. These words express not simply sprigs and branches, but

useless shoots,' • luxuriant branches,' which bear no fruit, and weaken the plant; and properly such shoots and branches of a vine. A vine, in the prophetic language, is an image of the church of God; the branches of the vine are the members of the church; and the useless shoots and unfruitful luxuriant branches are the insincere nominal members of the church ; and the pruning of such shoots and branches of the vine is the excision of such false hypocritical professors, at least the separation of them from the church by God's judgments. This verse therefore, and the following, clearly predict a judgment to fall upon the church for its purification, and the utter destruction of hypocritical professors of the truth. It is remarkable, that the object of this mystical pruning is not named otherwise than as the species of the tree is implied in the names given to the branches. The reason of this may be, that the Israelites in particular having been often signified in prophecy under the image of the vine, so long as they in particular formed the whole of God's visible

church on earth : to have named the vine expressly might have given them occasion to appropriate this part of the prophecy to themselves; whereas it is another vine that will be the object of this pruning, as is evident from the season fixed for this visitation.

The season is fixed in the beginning of this verse, “For afore the harvest,” &c. This pruning will immediately precede the harvest and the ingathering. The season of the harvest and of the gathering of the fruit is the prophetic image of that period, when our Lord will send forth his angels to gather his elect from the four winds of heaven; of that period, when a renewed preaching of the gospel shall take place in all parts of the world, of which the conversion of the Jews will perhaps be the first effect. The purification of the Christian church by the awful visitations predicted in this passage seems to be the proper preparative for this renewal of the call to them that are near, the Jews, and to them that are yet afar off, the Gentile tribes not yet converted,

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Verse 6. * They shall be left together,” &c.

That is, the shoots and branches cut off as unfruitful and useless shall be left.

-"summer upon them--winter upon them.”


The pronoun of the third person in the original is singular, . it; and is very properly rendered by the singular pronoun by the Vulgate, the Syriac, Calvin, Junius and Tremellius, in the Great Bible, the Bishop's Bible, the English Geneva Bible; by Vitringa, Houbigant, and Bishop Lowth. But the greater part of these interpreters expound this singular pronoun as if in sense it were collective, which brings the passage to the same meaning as if it were plural. But the true antecedent of this singular pronoun in the original is the word 93950, my dwelling place,’ in verse 4; which dwelling place may be understood literally of Mount Sion. It was a prevailing opinion in the primitive ages that Antichrist's last exploit would be, to fix his seat of empire on that holy spot, where he would ultimately perish. To those to whom the prophetic style in the original language is not familiar, but to those, I think, only, it will appear strange that a pronoun should refer to an antecedent at so great a distance.

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Verse 7. $ In that time shall the present be brought,” &c.

“ In that time”- Immediately after this purgation of the church, at the very time when the bird


prey, with all the beasts of the earth, Antichrist with his rebel rout, shall have fixed his seat between the seas, in the holy mountain, "a present shall be brought,” &c. the nation, described in verse 2 as those to whom the swift messengers are sent, after their long infidelity, shall be brought as a present unto Jehovah. (Compare chap. Ixvi, 20.) They shall be converted to the acknowledgement of the truth, and they shall be brought to the place of the name of Jehovah, to Mount Sion : they shall be settled in peace and prosperity in the land of their original inheritance.

This then is the sum of this prophecy, and the substance of the message sent to the people dragged about and pluckt. That in the latter ages, after a long suspension of the visible interpositions of Providence, God, who all the while regards that dwelling place, which he never will abandon, and is at all times directing the events of the world to the accomplishment of his own purposes of wisdom and mercy, immediately before the final gathering of his elect from the four winds of heaven, will purify his church by such signal judgments as shall rouse the attention of the whole world, and in the end strike

all nations with religious awe. At this period the apostate faction will occupy the Holy Land. This faction will certainly be an instrument of those judgments by which the church will be purified. That purification therefore is not at all inconsistent with the seeming prosperity of the affairs of the atheistical confederacy; but after such duration as God shall see fit to allow to the plenitude of its power, the Jews converted to the faith of Christ will be unexpectedly restored to their antient possessions.

The swift messengers will certainly have a considerable share as instruments in the hand of God in the restoration of the chosen people. Otherwise, to what purpose are they called upon (verse 1) to receive their commission from the prophet? It will perhaps be some part of their business to afford the Jews the jassistance and protection of their fleets. This seems to be insinuated in the imagery of the 1 st verse. But the principal part they will have to act will be that of the carriers of God's message to his people. This character seems to describe some Christian country, where the prophecies relating to the latter ages will meet with particular attention; where the literal sense of those which promise the

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