Lecture Fifty-Second

Jeremiah 13:10

10. This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing,

10. Populus hic malus1 renuentes audire verba mea, ambulantes in pravitate cordis sui; et ambulant post deos alienos ut serviant ipsis et adorent ipsos; eterunt (collectivum nomen populi est singulare) tanquam baltheus hic, quiad nihilum prodest (qui ad quiquam non est utilis)


The Prophet said, according to what we observed yesterday, that the people would be like the belt which he had hidden in a hole and found putrified: but now the cause is expressed why God had resolved to treat them with so much severity. He then says that he would be an avenger, because the Jews had refused to obey his voice, and preferred their own inventions in walking after the hardness, or the wickedness of their own heart. We hence see that the cause of this calamity was, that the people had rejected the teaching of the prophets. This indeed was far more grievous than if they had fallen away through mistake or ignorance, as we often see that men go miserably astray when the teaching of the truth is taken away. But when God shews the way, and prescribes what is right, when by his servants he exhorts his people, it is an inexcusable hardness if men repudiate such a kindness. But as this subject has been elsewhere largely treated, I shall only touch on it now briefly.

We see then that God threatens his people with extreme calamity, because they would not. bear to be taught by his prophets. Then he adds, that they had walked after the wickedness of their own heart, and had walked after foreign gods. He in the first place complains that they had been so refractory as to prefer to obey their own impious inclinations than to be ruled by good and salutary counsels. But it was necessary to specify their crime; for had the Prophet only spoken of their hardness, they might have had their objections ready at hand; but when he said that they had walked after foreign gods, there was no longer any room for evasion. The word to walk has a reference to a way. This metaphor has indeed a relation to something else; for men are not wont to take a course without going somewhere, we must therefore have some end in view when we walk along any way. Now, there is to be understood here a contrast, that the people despised the way pointed out to them by God, and that they had preferred to follow their own errors. God was ready to guide the Jews; by his own law; but they chose rather, as I have said, to abandon themselves to their own errors, as it were designedly.

He says, that they had walked after alien gods, that they might serve them, and prostrate themselves before them; for such is the meaning of the last verb. The Prophet no doubt repeats the same thing, for to serve is not only to obey, but also to worship. And hence is refuted that folly of the Papists, who imagine that worship (duliam) is not inconsistent with true religion; for they say that service (latriam) is due only to God, but that worship may be given to angels, to statues, or to dead men, as though God, forsooth! in condemning superstitions, did not use the word dbe obed, to serve. It hence follows that it is extremely ridiculous to devise two sorts of worship, one peculiar to God, and another common to angels as well as to men and dead idols. We now understand the import of this verse: the Prophet draws this conclusion, that the Jews would become like a useless or a putrefied belt. It afterwards follows --

1 These words are in the Septuagint and the Vulgate put in apposition with the last words of the preceding verse; but in the Syriac and Targum they form the nominative case to the verb "shall be," as in our version, near the end of the verse, the w before it being omitted; but the simpler mode of construction is to consider the substantive verb, is, to be understood in the first clause; then the whole verse would run thus, --

This is a wicked people, Who refuse to hear my words, Who walk in the resolutions of their own heart, And walk after foreign gods, To serve them and to bow down to them; And they shall be as this girdle, Which will not be good for anything.

On "the resolutions," see vol. 1. "For anything," the lk here evidently means "anything," as it means in some other places "any," or any one. -- Ed.


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