13. And the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them: thus shall it be done unto them.
13. Et Prophetae erunt in ventum, et sermo non est in eis; sic fiet illis.
The Prophet goes on with the same subject; and this passage is worthy of especial notice, as it commends to us in no common way the public preaching of the truth. For what can be imagined more abominable than to deny God? yet if his word is not allowed to have authority, it is the same as though its despisers attempted to thrust God from heaven, or denied his existence. We hence see how the majesty of God is, as it were, indissolubly connected with the public preaching of his truth. The design of this verse is the same, in which Jeremiah refers to the contempt manifested by the people.
He introduces the Jews as saying, The prophets shall become wind, there is not in them the word, and the evil with which they have threatened us, shall come upon their own heads. It may have been, that the Jews did not openly give vent to such a blasphemous language; but so gross was the contempt they shewed towards the prophets, that this impiety was sufficiently conspicuous in their whole life. It was not then without reason that the Prophet charged them with so base an impiety, that they said, that the prophets would become wind. The same is the case now; the greater part, when God thunders and gives proofs of his vengeance by his servants, ridicule everything, and heedlessly cast away every fear, -- "Oh, they are mere words; for the preachers fulminate boldly and terribly in the pulpit; but the whole vanishes, and whatever they denounce on us will fall on their own heads." We see at this day that many ungodly and profane men use such a bantering language as this. Though it might not have been, as I have said, that the Jews dared thus openly to shew their contempt towards God; yet the Holy Spirit, who extends his authority over the hearts, minds, and feelings of men, justly charged them with this gross impiety. It may also be learnt from other places, that they made such advances in audacity, that they hesitated not to treat with scoffs the threatenings announced by the prophets. However this may have been, the Prophet sets forth by a striking representation how great was the contemptuous perverseness of the people towards God: for there is here a vivid description, by which he sets as it were before our eyes how impious the Jews had become; inasmuch as they dared openly to assault the prophets and willfully to charge them with declaring what was vain, The prophets, they said, shall become wind; and farther, There is not in them the word.
By these words the Jews denied that the prophets were to be believed, however they might pretend God's name, for they boasted falsely that this or that was committed to them from above. Thus it was, as we see, that every instruction was trodden under foot, and the same we find to be the case in the present day; for what reverence is manifested anywhere for God's word? This passage then ought to be especially noticed by us; for it shews as in a mirror to what extent of audacity and madness men will break forth when they begin to discredit God's word.
They afterwards add, Thus shall it be done to them; or, "May it be thus done to them;" for some regard the words as an imprecation, as though the wicked had said, "Let the prophets find to their own destruction what the sword, the famine, and the pestilence are; as they cease not continually to stun our ears with these terrible things, may they themselves experience these scourges of God." But we may retain the form of the verb, Thus shall it be done to them;1 as though they set themselves in opposition to God's servants, and pretended that they were God's prophets, "Oh! we have a prophecy too: they terrify us by announcing the sword, the famine, and the pestilence; we can in our turn retaliate on them, and declare that the pestilence, the war, and the famine are nigh them; for what authority have they thus to assail us? Have we not authority to do the same to them?" We now then perceive what is meant in this last clause. It now follows --