10. For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right.
10. Quia adulteriis referta est terra, quia a facie jurisjurandi (vel, perfidae) luxit terra, aruerunt speciosa deserti (vel, caulae deserti; nam pluribus modis vertunt;) et fuit cursus eorum malus, et robur eorum non rectum.
Jeremiah now assigns the reason why he was so much horrified by the insensibility which he observed in the prophets. If things were in good order, or if, at least, they were tolerable, the prophets would have more calmly addressed the Jews; for what need is there to make a great ado when men willingly follow what God commands? When, therefore, we have to do with meek and modest men, vehemence is foolish; and they who thus bestir themselves, and seek, through great ambition, to shew very fervid zeal when there is no need, are nothing but apes; but when things are in disorder and confusion, then vehemence is wanted. Jeremiah now declares that things were so extremely out of order, that the prophets could not have been silent, except they were like logs of wood.
These two things, then, ought to be connected together, -- that the prophets were dumb, -- and that they were dumb when there was the greatest necessity for speaking; for they saw the land filled with adulteries. Though he names adulterers, he yet condemns the crime. As then the land was polluted by adulteries and perjuries, as they all gave themselves up to do evil, it was by no means to be tolerated that the prophets should not be indignant, as though things were well ordered and peaceable.
We hence see how much God abhors sloth in the ministers of his word, in those whom he appoints as teachers in his Church, while they connive at wickedness, and heedlessly pass by adulteries, and fornications, and perjuries, and frauds, and other kinds of wrongs; for if there were even the least particle of religion in their hearts, they would certainly have been moved, and could not have been for a moment silent. For if that zeal ought to be in all God's children, which was in the Psalmist,
"The zeal of thine house has consumed me, and the reproaches of them who reproached thee have fallen upon me,"
how inexcusable must be the indifference of prophets, when they see God's name exposed to mockery, and when they see every kind of wickedness prevailing? We now see not only what the Prophet teaches in this passage, but also the usefulness of his doctrine and how it ought to be applied. Let us then learn, that the more liberty men take in sinning, and the more audaciously their impiety and contempt of God break out, the more sharply ought prophets and faithful teachers to reprove and condemn them; and that it is the time of fighting, when the world thus presumptuously and furiously rise up against God.
The Prophet mentions some kinds of evil, and yet does not enumerate all kinds; but under adulteries and perjuries he includes also other crimes. As to the word
Whenever then God raises his hand to punish men for their sins, if they themselves perceive it not, the very land, which is without sense and feeling, ought to fill them with shame for their madness; for mourning appears in the very land, as though it knew that God was displeased with it. When, therefore, men sleep in their sins, and thus disregard God's vengeance, how monstrous must be their torpor! And if this be intolerable in the common people, what can be said of the prophets, who ought to proclaim such words as these, -- "Cursed is he who has transgressed the precepts of this law" -- "cursed is he who has corrupted the worship of God" -- or, "who hath dealt unjustly with his neighbor," -- and whatever else the law contains? (Deuteronomy 27:26; Deuteronomy 28:47, 58.) We now then perceive how emphatical are the words when the Prophet says,
He adds, that their
1 The early Versions and the Targum differ as to this word: the Sept., the Syr., and the Arab. have "on account of these," that is, adulterers; the Vulg.," on account of a curse," that is of God; the Targ., "on account of false swearing." Blayney says, that there is nothing here about swearing, and renders the words "because of these:" but the 14th verse (Jeremiah 23:14) decides the question, where we have "adultery" and "walking in lies," ascribed to the same persons, the prophets. That,
As the land has been filled with adulterers, So for false swearing has the land mourned, Withered have the pastures of the wilderness; And their course has become calamitous, And their strength not firm, (that is, to run their course.)
Houbigant and Horsley have re-arranged the whole verse, and made several transpositions. Had these learned men for a moment reflected how such delocations of words, as they suppose, could have taken place, they would have, no doubt, restrained their innovating propensities. -- Ed.
Their will also hath been wickedness,
And their might without right.
He derives it from
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