25. Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.
25. Iniquitates vestrae averterunt haec, et scelera vestra prohibuerunt bonum a vobis.
Inasmuch as hypocrites, according to what has been said before, often reply to God, and bring this and that objection, the Prophet here checks what they might have alleged; for he says that God's beneficence had been restrained by them, and that it was indeed their fault that it did not flow to them. For they might have thus objected, "Thou indeed preachest well respecting God's paternal bounty, because he supplies us with food; but the heat at one time burns our corn, the unseasonable rains at another time destroy our provisions: in a word, there is nothing certain, but all things are in a state of disorder." That he might therefore obviate this objection, he says, that it was on account of their wickedness and depravity, that God did not so regulate every part of the year as to allow them to see with their eyes his continued bounty.
This passage is worthy of special notice: for God's paternal favor does not so continually shine forth in our daily sustenance, but that many clouds intercept our view. Hence it is, that ungodly men think that the years are now barren and then fruitful through mere chance. We indeed see nothing so regulated in every respect in the world, that the goodness of God can be seen without clouds and obstructions: but we do not consider whence this confusion proceeds, even because we obstruct God's access to us, so that his beneficence does not reach us. We throw heaven and earth into confusion by our sins. For were we in right order as to our obedience to God, doubtless all the elements would be conformable, and we should thus observe in the world an angelic harmony. But as our lusts tumultuate against God; nay, as we stir up war daily, and provoke him by our pride, perverseness, and obstinacy, it must needs be, that all things, above and below, should be in disorder, that the heavens should at one time appear cloudy, and that continuous rains should at another time destroy the produce of the earth, and that nothing should be unmixed and unstained in the world. This confusion then, in all the elements, is to be ascribed to our sins: and this is what is meant by the Prophet. Though indeed the reproof was then addressed to the Jews, we may yet gather hence a lesson of general instruction.
These two things are then both true, -- that God is not without a testimony as to his beneficence, for he gives rain, he gives suitable seasons, he renders the earth fruitful, so as to supply us with food, -- and also, that heaven and earth are often in great disorder, that many things happen unseasonably, as though God had no care for us, because we provoke him by our sins, and thus confound and subvert the order of nature. These two things then ought to be viewed as connected together: for in the ordinary course of nature we may see the inconceivable bounty of God towards mankind; but as to accidental evils, the cause ought to be considered, even this -- because we do not allow God to govern the world in a regular and consistent order, but as far as we can we disturb and confound his providence. We hence see how suitably the Prophet has added this truth -- that the iniquities of the people had turned away the beneficence of God.1 It afterwards follows --
1 There is a correspondence between the terms here used, and those in the last verse. Their iniquities had turned aside, or diverted from their right course, the appointed seasons; and their sins had restrained the good, the seasonable rain which had been given them. As it is commonly the case in the prophets, the last thing mentioned in the previous verse, is the first thing referred to here, and then what is antecedently mentioned.-Ed.
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