14. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.
14. Revertimini filii rebelles, dieit Jehova, quoniam ego maritus vester (vel, dominatus sum in vobis, ut alii vertunt; alii, taedio affectus sum in vobis; dicemus postea de hoc verbo,) et assumam vos, unum e civitate, et duos e familia (vel, cognatione, vel, tribu,) et addueam vos in Sion.
Jeremiah repeats the same thing in other words; but God by so many words shews clearer how ready he would be to grant pardon, provided the Israelites really repented. It would have been enough for God to testify once, that he would be reconcilable, but seeing that they were slow and hard to believe, he proceeds in the same strain. It is a wonderful forbearance and kindness that God, finding his favor neglected, and as it were rejected through the sloth of men, should yet persevere, and invite them again and again. What man would thus patiently bear the loathing of his favor and kindness? But we see that God does not immediately reject the tardy and the slothful, but adds new stimulants that he might at length move them, though this may seem more than necessary. How great is our torpidity? Were not God daily to urge us, how little attention would any of us give to his admonitions? It is, therefore, no wonder that he, pardoning our tardiness, should again and again invite us to repentance; which we find is done continually in the Church.
This, then, is the reason why the Prophet now repeats the same thing,
We now, then, perceive the real meaning of the Prophet: despair might have laid hold on the Israelites so as to dread that access to which the Prophet had invited them; but that no terror might hinder them to repent, God here declares that he would become their husband, and that he had not forgotten that relationship with which he had once favored them. The sum of what he says is, "I have once embraced you with the love of a husband; ye have, indeed, become alienated from me, but return, and I am ready to forgive and to receive you, as though ye had always been faithful to me."
Interpreters, indeed, explain one from a city as meaning, that though the multitude should perish, yet God would not deny forgiveness to three or four; but they teach not what is especially worthy of notice, that two or three are mentioned, because this thought, as it has been said, might have perplexed them, that is, that they had been all in common chosen as a holy people.
What is here taught may be useful to us in the present day. For we see many foolishly excluding themselves from the hope of salvation, and seeking no access to God, because they have a regard to one another, and the great mass hold them entangled. How is it under the Papacy, that so many pertinaciously resist God? even because they think themselves safely hid in the multitude. We also find among us that some are an hindrance to others. Let this truth be ever remembered, that when God stretches forth his arms, he is ready to receive, not only all, were they with one consent to come to him, but also two or three, even from one city, or from a whole people.
1 Nor is there an instance of such a meaning. Literally it is, "For I have been married with (or to) thee." When this verb is followed by
2 The word is taken sometimes in a limited sense, and means what we understand by family: but it has here evidently a more extended meaning, and signifies a tribe, a community; for it includes more than a city. Such is its meaning in Jeremiah 8:3; and in Amos 3:l, it comprehends the whole community of Israel. It is rendered "
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