25. Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name: for they have eaten up Jacob, and devoured him, and consumed him, and have made his habitation desolate.
25. Effunde iram tuam super gentes, quae te non noverunt, et super cognationes (vel, familias) quae nomen tuum non invocaverunt; quia comederunt Jacob, comederunt inquam ipsum, et consumpserunt eum, et tabernacula ejus vastarunt.
The Prophet confirms his prayer by this reason -- that God had sufficient ground for executing his vengeance on the wicked and ungodly heathens who were alienated from him; and there is no doubt but that he had respect to the promise to which we have referred; for the Prophet knew that what had been said once to David was promised to the whole Church throughout all ages. Hence He reminds God, as it were, of the difference which he had made between domestics and foreigners; as though he had said, "O Lord, though it is right and also useful for our salvation to be chastised by thy hand, yet thou dost not indiscriminately visit with vengeance the sins of men; for thou hast promised paternally to chastise thy children: but as to aliens, thou art their judge, so that they may be wholly destroyed. Now then, O Lord, shew that this has not been said in vain; and as thou hast been pleased to adopt us as thy peculiar people, forgive us according to thy paternal kindness." Hence we see that the Prophet did not inconsiderately pour forth his prayer into the air, but had a regard to God's promise, and referred to that difference which God himself was pleased to make between his Church and unbelievers.
He then says,
There is no doubt but that the Prophet, or whoever he was who composed the seventy-ninth Psalm, borrowed the words used here, for it is there said,
"Pour forth thy wrath on the nations who know not thee, and on the kingdoms which have not called on thy name; for they have consumed Jacob and his inheritance." (Psalm 79:6, 7)
It may be that Jeremiah himself wrote that Psalm, after having been driven into Egypt, when that city had been destroyed. It was, however, suitable to the time when dreadful scattering had happened; for the Psalm seems to have been composed for the benefit of the miserable, and as it were of the lost Church. It is yet more probable that it was written under the tyranny of Antiochus, or at the time when the cruelty of God's enemies raged against his people. However this may be, the author of that Psalm wished to repeat what is contained here.
It may now be asked, Whether it is right to pray for evils on the ungodly and wicked, while we are doubtful and uncertain as to their final doom. For as God has not made it known how he purposes to deal at last with them, the rule of charity ought on the contrary to turn us another way, -- that we are to hope for their salvation and to pray God to forgive them: but the Prophet; consigns them only to destruction; and he speaks not according to his own private feeling, but dictates a prayer which all the faithful were to use. To this I answer, -- that we are not to denounce a sentence on this or that man individually, and that our prejudging would be presumptuous, were we to consign individuals to eternal death and to pray for evil on them: but we may use this form of prayer generally with regard to the obstinate enemies of God, so as still to refer to him the certainty of the issue; and yet we are not to mix in one mass all those whom we know to be now ungodly, for this, as I have said, would be presumptuous It would then be more becoming in us to pray for the good of all and to wish their salvation, and, as far as we can, to promote it. Yet when we thus entertain love towards every individual, we may still so pray in general, that God would lay prostrate, consume, scatter, and reduce to nothing his enemies. There is then no doubt but that the Prophet here turns his own thoughts to God's judgment, as though He had said, "Lord, it was thy work to make a distinction between domestics and aliens; it has pleased thee to adopt this people; what now remains, but that thou shouldest deal mercifully with them, inasmuch as thou sustainest towards them the character of a Father? As to the heathen nations, as they are aliens to thee and belong not to thy flock, destruction awaits them; let them therefore perish."
Now the Prophet in thus speaking of heathen nations, does not anticipate God's judgment so as to restrain him from doing what he pleased: but he only mentions, as I have already said, what he derived from God's word, -- that some are elected, and that others are reprobates. He infers God's election from his vocation or his covenant; and, on the other hand, he regards all those reprobate on whom God has not been pleased to bestow the privilege of his paternal favor.
The question then is now solved: and hence it appears how it is lawful for us to pray for the destruction of the reprobate, and of those who despise God, -- that our prayers ought not to anticipate God's judgment, -- and that we are not to determine as to individuals, but only remember this distinction -- that God acts as a Father towards his elect, and as a judge towards the reprobate.
He lastly adds,
Grant, Almighty God, that since we are so torpid in our sins, except thou rousest us, that we profit not by the severe warnings by which thou didst formerly stimulate thine ancient people, and since we have also been already warned by many signs of thy wrath to seek repentance with increasing assiduity, -- O grant that we may earnestly persevere in this course, and so submit to thee, that with patient and calm minds we may bear thy corrections: and may we in the meantime be fully assured that thou wilt ever be our Father, and never hesitate, even in death itself, to flee to thy mercy, until thou pourest forth thy wrath on the ungodly and the profane despisers of thy name, and shewest such compassion towards us, that we may know that thou hast not in vain promised that thy chastisements would ever be kind and paternal, in visiting the sins of those who hope in thee, through Christ our Lord. -- Amen.
1 Blayney for no good reason has omitted the verb "consumed," following the Septuagint and one MS. The Vulgate, the Syriac, and the Targum, retain the two verbs. So far is the last verb from being without meaning, as this author says, that it has an especial emphasis, it being stronger than the preceding verb, --
24.Pour forth thine indignation on the nations, Who know not thee, and on the families, Who on thy name have not called; For they have devoured Jacob, Yea, they have devoured him and consumed him, And his habitation have they made desolate.
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