21. For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the Lord: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.
21. Quia infatuati sunt pastores, et Jehovam non inquisierunt; propterea non egerunt prospere (alii, non intellexerunt,) et omnis pascua eorum (hoc est, quicquid in pascuis eorum erat) fuit destructum.
In the first place, he assigns a cause for the dreadful devastation of which he had spoken, and that was, because the shepherds were without thought and understanding. He still, as we see, goes on with his metaphor. Some confine this to the kings of Israel; but I do not agree with them: for I include under the name shepherds, the priests and the prophets as wen as the king and his counsellors. But Jeremiah did not mean to exempt the people from fault, when He, in an especial manner, accused the shepherds; but he only mentioned the origin and the primary cause of evils, -- that the kings, the prophets, and the priests were blind, and thus destroyed the flock of God. We have observed elsewhere the same mode of speaking; and yet the prophets did not intend to extenuate the vices of the people, nor to absolve the lower orders. But as it mostly happens that the lower ranks, and those in humble stations, rely much on the chief men who occupy places of authority, it was necessary that the prophets should notice this evil: and we also know how nmch pride and arrogance there is in kings and priests, and in all those who elljoy any honor or dignity; for they think themselves exempt from the restraint of laws, and will not be reproved, as though they were sacred persons. It was, therefore, for this reason, that the Prophet reproved such with so much vehemence and severity. Hence, he says,
The people, indeed, at that time repudiated the prophets, as the case is now under the Papacy. For even when the truth of God is dearly and perspicuously set forth, there are many who set up this shield, -- that they believe their bishops, prelates, and kings, and others of a similar kind. When, therefore, Jeremiah saw that the pure truth of God was subverted by vain splendor, he found it necessary to expose the disguise, and, so to speak, to pull off the mask. It was, then, for this reason, that he said that the shepherds were infatuated. If the prophets were under this necessity, what ought to be done by us at this day, when we see that all those who unblushingly boast that they are the representatives of the Church are sheer impostors, and draw miserable souls into destruction? What else, I pray, ought to be done by us, but what we learn was done by the prophets? And how foolishly and childishly do the Papal bishops prattle, when they would have themselves exempted from all reproofs, because power and government is in their own hands! For they cannot surely assume to themselves more than what belonged formerly to the Levitical priests; for God had chosen them, and all the priests under the law might have justly boasted that they were appointed by divine authority: yet we see that they were reproved, and were said to be infatuated. The Pope and his bishops have not been appointed by God, nor have they any evidence of their calling. Though, then, they arrogate all things to themselves, and seem to do so by divine right, yet they cannot be deemed superior to the ancient priests: they must, therefore, become subject to the judgment which God denounces here by the mouth of his Prophet.
He gives a reason why they were infatuated, because
Hence he says,
1 The meaning of the verb
20. For stupidly-ignorant have become the shepherds, And Jehovah they have not sought; Therefore wisely have they not acted, And every one from their pastures is scattered.
The "scattering" was from the land or country to the fortified towns, referred to in Jeremiah 10:18. They left the country, like sheep quiting their shepherds' pastures, and visited towns. Then, in the next verse, the Prophet says, that even the towns also would be destroyed. In the first instance God would terrify them, and fling them, as it were, from the land, so that they would take shelter in fortresses: this would be owing to the foolish conduct or their shepherds. They would be driven, then, that their enemies might more easily find or take them: and in the following verse he announces the approach of their enemies who were coming to lay waste their towns.
All the versions give the idea of knowledge or wisdom to
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