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ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1838, by
ALBERT BARNES, In the Office of the Clerk of the District Court of the Eastern District of
It is with unaffected diffidence that this work is offered to the patronage of the Christian public. It has been prepared amidst the toils and responsibilities of a most laborious pastoral charge, and at such intervals as could be secured without seeming to infringe on the direct and immediate duties demanded in my station. Those hours have been, with scarcely an exception, the early morning hours; and whatever may be the manner in which this book may be received by the public; whether it shall or shall not contribute in any degree to advance the knowledge of the truth, and the love of the Sacred Scrip. tures ; its preparation, by requiring me to commence each day with the direct contemplation of an interesting portion of inspired truth, has for four years constituted one of the most delightful parts of my labors. It is the production of many a laborious, but many a pleasant hour; and while I desire to render thanks to the Giver of life and health, that he has granted me strength to engage in these studies, I shall ever look back with gratitude to the deeply interesting moments in which I have been endeavoring to illustrate the “ Visions of Isaiah."
When I commenced the work, I designed nothing farther than an enlargement of Lowih on Isaiah. It occurred to me that it might be useful to retain his Notes as a basis, with some additional illustrations somewhat in his manner. But this plan was soon abandoned ; and no other use has been made of Lowth than that which is common with other writers. Valuable as are his Notes, and beautiful as is his version, yet it was soon perceived, or thought to be perceived, that grea'er usefulness might be secured by enlarging the plan, and making a work entirely new. Very valuable helps have been furnished, since the time of Lowth, for the illustration of the Hebrew prophets; and it was deemed desirable to avail myself of them all, so far as it was in my power. Most of those helps will be found enu. merated in the list of works on Isaiah, at the close of the Introduction $ 8, (14.)
esting historical events, and furnish so much opportunity of illustration from archaeology, oriental customs, and the investigations of modern travellers, that it is highly desirable that all the light should be thrown upon them which is possible from these sources. (4.) The fulfilment of prophecy is perhaps more clear, minute and striking in Isaiah than in any other of the prophets; and a commentary, therefore, on his writings, with a comparison of the present state of the countries to which his prophecies refer, as reported by modern travellers, and especially with the record of the life, and doctrines, and death of Christ in the New Testament, will constitute itself a demonstration of the divine origin of the Sacred Scriptures, and may be made one of the best antidotes against infidelity. It is impossible, it is believed, with an honest mind, to compare the predictions of Isaiah, respecting Babylon, Moab, Tyre, and Idumea, with the Travels of Volney, Burckhardt, Seetzen, Sir R. K. Porter, Maundrell, Laborde, and Stephens, without the fullest conviction that he who uttered these predictions two thousand and seven hundred years since, was divinely inspired. It is impossible to believe that this could have been the result of political sagacity; it is equally impossible to believe that it could have been produced by chance or conjecture. And, in like manner, it is impossible to compare his full, minute, and glowing descriptions of the Messiah, with the life of the Lord Jesus Christ ; to collate mi. nutely and critically, for example, the prophecies in the ixth, the xith, the xxxth, the liid, the liid chapters, with what actually occurred in the character, the lise, the sufferings, the diguity, and the death of the Redeemer, without the fullest conviction that he was permitted to see, in distinct vision, events which were to take place in future times. No man can be a close student of Isaiah, and remain an infidel; no man can study his writings with prayer, who will not find his faith con. firmed, his heart warmed, his mind elevated and purified, and his affections mcre firmly fixed on the beauty of the everlasting truth of God.
But the main reason which led to the selection of Isaiah as a sub.
and predicted the triumphs of the Church on earth. He has been usually styled “the fifth Evangelist;" and it is certain that there was vouchsafed to him a clearer view of the universal spread of the gospel, and of the blessedness of the reign of the Messiah, than was granted to any other of the ancient prophets. It was this characteristic mainly which has prompted the attempt to make his sentiments more widely known, and more clearly understood. In an age that is distinguished more than any other since that of the apostles, for efforts for the conversion of the whole world to God, nothing will so entirely fall in with the leading characteristics and efforts of the times as an attempt to establish some just views of the right interpretation of the prophecies on this subject. Men will put forth great and noble exertions when the object is clearly defined, and when they have some distinct view of what is possible to attain. A right apprehension of what is to be on earth, will do much to form the plans, and shape the efforts of those who seek the world's conversion. It will do much to suppress unfounded hopes ; to repress wild and visionary schemes ; and to secure well-founded and judicious efforts to accomplish the object. A correct understanding of the prophecies, therefore, is necessary to direct those who are forming plans for the conversion of the world, and to uphold the hands and to encourage the hearts of those who are engaged in practically executing the work.
There is one advantage on this subject in contemplating the entire prophecies in a book, above what would arise from selecting the portions which relate to the final triumph of the gos; el, and forming a commentary on them exclusively. As the predictions now stand in the prophets, they are intermingled with predictious respecting other events which have been strikingly and clearly fulfilled. The mind is carried forward therefore amidst demonstrations; the certain convic. tion of the mind that the predictions respecting Babylon, Tyre, Moab, and Idumea have been fulfilled, is carried to the contemplation of the predictions respecting things yet to come.
The mind ranges amidst demonstrations; it lives amidst proofs of the divine origin of the book which is examined ; and these proofs strengthen the faith in regard to the events which are yet to come. He performs some service for his generation, who contributes in any degree to unfold the
meaning of the ancient predictions, and to show to the Christian Church what the world yet will be ; and he who contributes in any manner so to blend the arguments for the past fulfilment of prophecy with the predictions of what is yet to be on earth, does not live entirely in vain. It was doubtless with this view, and to this end, that the predictions respecting the Messiah, and the final universal triumph of the gospel, are scattered along, and intermingled with predictions that relate to events that would be of more immediate and rapid fulfilment. The student of the prophecies thus walks amidst the monuments of their truth which time has set up along his way ;-not much unlike the traveller who is seeking a distant land amidst much that is obscure and uncertain ; who encounters many rapid streams and lofty crags and hills; whose path leads through dense and dark and entangled forests, but who yet finds every now and then monuments erected which show him that the road has been travelled ; and which proves that the same path which others have trod will conduct him to the complete surmounting of all his embarrassments. The man who has attentively examined Isaiah, and compared the predictions respecting events which are now passed with their fulfilment, is not likely to be a man whose faith will be shaken in regard to the reality of the inspiration of the Bouk of God, or to the final prevalence of religion all over the world. As an illustration of the general character of Isaiah on the subject of the final prevalence of the true religion, and of the character of the better days which are to bless the world, we may advert to the fact that the views of most Christians respecting the Millennium are probably derived from this prophet ; that his descriptions are the great store-house of argument and illustration on this subject ; and that even after the full revelations of the New Testament, if we wish to obtain full and clear conceptions of what the world is yet to be under the reign of the Prince of Peace, we instinctively turn to the glowing visions of the Son of Amoz. It has been one of the constant and earnest prayers of the author of these Notes, that his labors may contribute to the confirmation of the faith of Christians in respect to the final triumph of Christianity; and to the augmentation of their confidence in God, and their zeal in spreading the gospel around the world.
In the fulfilment of this design, as well as to exhibit the true mean. ing of the prophet, I have availed myself of all the helps within my