27. Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee.
27. Et dices illis omnia verba haec, et non audient to (vel, non auscultabunt tibi,) et clamabis ad eos, et non respondebunt tibi.
Here is seen more clearly what I have stated, -- that the Jews were not addressed, because they had no ears. Here then God addresses his Prophet and says, "The children will be like their parents: for thou shalt indeed bear the commands which I give thee, but it will be without any advantage; for they will not hear, and when thou callest to them, they will not answer." It was a most grievous trial to the Prophet to know that his words would pass away with the air and produce no good. What was to be expected but that God's wrath would thus be still more kindled against the people? The Prophet then must have had his mind greatly depressed; for he doubtless labored for the good of his own nation; and we shall hereafter see how sad he was when he understood that their final ruin was at hand. But, as we have said elsewhere, the prophets were influenced by two feelings: for they did not divest themselves of all human affections, inasmuch as they loved their own nation and felt great sorrow, when God declared that he was coming to execute judgment: but this sympathy and sorrow did not prevent them from executing, in a bold manner, and with unshaken zeal, what God had committed to them. Thus then the prophets had feelings to condole with their own kindred, and at the same time were enabled to surmount whatever might check or hinder them from performing their office. Jeremiah did thus condole with his own nation, when he knew that shortly ruin would overtake them; but yet he felt bound to execute what God had bidden him to do, and to obey his call.
However bitter therefore was the declaration, Thou shalt speak to them, but they will not hear, yet Jeremiah went forth; for he knew that he must obey God's command, whatever might be the issue. The same resolution ought to be formed at this day by all the faithful ministers of God. They ought to strive as far as they can to promote the salvation of the people; but still when they see that their doctrine succeeds not as they wish, and that it is the savor of death to the whole world, they ought nevertheless to follow their course: why? because they are always a sweet and good savor to God, whatever may be the event. God then declares to his servant what would be the issue, in order that he might not cease to execute his office with invincible courage, even if no fruit appeared. It was also his purpose to shew before the time to the people their perverseness, if there was possibly any hope, or at least, that he might doubly prove them to be unhealable. It was further his design to consult the good of those few who cherished true religion in their hearts, though the multitude were running headlong to their own ruin.
In like manner at this day it is necessary thus to sustain the souls of the faithful; for while the ungodly rave against God, and while almost the whole world is seized with this madness, what would become of the godly, had they not this fact to think of, -- that it is nothing new for hypocrites, who boast that they are God's people and his Church, to reject his grace and to regard as nothing his servants. This truth then is serviceable to us at this day, and may be applied in the same way, so that our minds may not despond nor vacillate, when we see the majority of those, whom God addresses by his servants, heedless and deaf. Thou shalt speak to them, he says, all these words.
He says not without a reason, All these words; for if the Prophet had only briefly declared to them what he had heard from God's mouth, he might have discharged his office with less weariness; but when he had often repeated what had been committed to him, it was not done without great trouble and sorrow; for as we have said at the beginning, he spent his labor on the people, not for one year or for ten years; for he preached to them for twenty, thirty, forty years, and pursued his course even beyond that time. When he saw the truth of God thus rejected by the people, how could he otherwise than feel weariness at times? It is therefore not in vain intimated, as I have said, that he was chosen, that he might try, not only for one day, or for a few months or years, whether he could recover the people to the way of salvation, but that he was to go on through all obstacles, so as not to faint, whatever might take place. They will not hear thee, he says: and further, --
Thou shalt call to them, and they will not answer thee. This also, which God foretells him, is emphatical, -- that if the Prophet called most loudly, (as Isaiah is bidden to do, (Isaiah 58:1,) and in his person all teachers,) and called even to hoarseness, yet he is told they would not answer. This shews still more fully their perverseness; for they were not only deaf to God's voice and neglected plain teaching, but also disregarded the most vehement exhortations, he then adds --