23. Yet, Lord, thou knowest all their counsel against me to slay me: forgive not their iniquity, neither blot out their sin from thy sight, but let them be overthrown before thee; deal thus with them in the time of thine anger.
23. Et tu Jehovah nosti omnia consilia eorum super me in mortem; ne propitius sis (vel, placabilis) super iniquitate eorum, et peccatum eorum (vel, scelus eorum) a facie tua ne deleas (quidam existimant
I shall not be able to explain this verse to-day.
Grant, Almighty God, that since thou exhortest us daily, and even constantly to repent, by the doctrine of thy Gospel, and shewest thyself to us reconcilable, -- O grant, that we may not disregard so incomparable a benefit, but with resigned minds devote ourselves wholly to thee, and that we may not so far provoke thy wrath as to be altogether reiected by thee, and to find at last that there is no mercy for us; but may we anticipate extreme judgment, while the time of thy good-will continues, and thus embrace the benefit of reconciliation which thou offerest to us, so that being thankful to thee and accepted in thine only-begotten Son, we may proceed in the course of our vocation, until we shall at length enjoy that eternal inheritance which thine only-begotten Son has obtained for us by his own blood. -- Amen.
The words of the last verse of the eighteenth chapter we gave yesterday. Let us now see what the Prophet means by them, and what fruit we ought to gather from them. He says, that God was a witness of the wickedness of his enemies -- that all their counsels had in view his destruction. There is, moreover, to be understood a contrast, -- that the Prophet, as we have before seen, cared faithfully for their salvation. It was then a most base ingratitude in them to plot the death of the holy Prophet, who was not only innocent, but highly deserved their thanks for laboring for their salvation. We hence conclude that they deserved no mercy.
We said in our last lecture that this vehemence, as it was dictated by the Holy Spirit, is not to be condemned, nor ought it to be made an example of, for it was peculiar to the Prophet to know that they were reprobates: and we also shewed why no common law is to be made from particular examples: for Jeremiah was endued with the spirit of wisdom and judgment, and zeal also for God's glory so ruled in his heart, that the feelings of the flesh were wholly subdued, or at least brought under subjection; and farther, he pleaded not a private cause. We said in the first place, that it was oracular; for God designed to make it known, that they who thus obstinately resisted true doctrine were reprobate and irreclaimable. As all these things fall not to our lot, we ought not indiscriminately to imitate Jeremiah in this prayer: for that would then apply to us which Christ said to his disciples,
"Ye know not what spirit, governs you." (Luke 9:55.)
And doubtless it ought to fill us with dread when we hear,
To the same purpose is what follows,
He in the last place adds,
Whenever then the Scripture speaks of the time of God's wrath, let us know that under this form of speaking there is an exhortation to patience, so that excessive ardor may not lead us beyond the limits of moderation, but that we may wait with resigned minds until the due time of judgment comes. This is one thing; but at the same time the Prophet expresses also something more: for he would have the reprobate of whom he speaks, to be so involved in endless judgment as never to be able to extricate themselves. It is said in Psalm 106:4,
"Remember me, O Lord, with the favor of thy people,"
that is, "O Lord, this only I ask, to be joined to thy people; for even when thy Church is afflicted and deemed miserable, it will still be enough for me to be of the number of those whom thou honorest with thy paternal favor." The favor then of God's people is that paternal regard which he entertains for his Church. So, on the other hand, the time of wrath is that judgment by which God devotes the reprobate to eternal perdition, so that there is no hope of salvation remaining for them. Deal thou with them, but when? even in the time of thy wrath; that is, deal with them as thou art wont to deal with thine irreclaimable enemies, to whom thou wilt never be reconcilable.1 This is the meaning. Now another discourse follows.
1 The last line in the Syriac is, --
In the time of thine indignation act against them.
"Take vengeance on them," is the paraphrase of the Targum. Horsley would have it," deal with them," leaving out "thus" in our version. It is no doubt an expression which includes more than what is stated. It may be rendered "do for them," that is, wholly destroy them; -- Ed.
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