5. Then the prophet Jeremiah said unto the prophet Hananiah, in the presence of the priests, and in the presence of all the people that stood in the house of the Lord,
5. Tunc dixit Jeremias propheta Chananiae prophetae coram oculis sacerdotum et coram oculis totius populi, qui stabant in domo Jehovae (hoc est, in Tempe,)
6. Even the prophet Jeremiah said, Amen: the Lord do so: the Lord perform thy words which thou hast prophesied, to bring again the vessels of the Lord's house, and all that is carried away captive, from Babylon into this place.
6. Et dixit Jeremias propheta, Amen, sic faciat Jehova, stabiliet Jehova sermones tuos, quos prophetasti ad reducendum (hoc est, ut reducantur) vasa Templi et tota captivitas ex Babylone ad hunc locum.
I have shortly reminded you of the design of the Prophet; for it was to be feared that the people would not hear him, or at least that they would not well receive him, as he had threatened them and handled them roughly and severely. We know that men ever seek to be flattered; hence adulations are ever delightfully received. Such is the pride of men, that they cannot bear to be called to an account for what they have done; and they become also indignant, when they see their crimes and vices brought to light; besides, they are so delicate and tender, that they avoid as much as they can all adverse rumors; and if any fear assails them, they instantly resist.
Now Jeremiah had been furnished with a twofold message, to expose the vices of the people, to shew that the Jews were unworthy to inherit the land, as they were covenant-breakers and despisers of God and of his Law; and then, as they had been so often refractory and perverse, he had another message, that they would not be suffered to escape unpunished, as they had in so many ways, and for so long a time continued to provoke God's wrath; all this was very displeasing to the people. It was therefore Jeremiah's object to turn aside the false suspicion under which he labored, and he testified that he desired nothing more than the well-being of the people; "Amen," he said, "may it thus happen, I wish I were a false prophet; I would willingly retract, and that with shame, all that I have hitherto predicted, so great is my care and anxiety for the safety of the public; for I would prefer the welfare of the whole people to my own reputation." But he afterwards added, as we shall see, that the promise of Hananiah was wholly vain, and that nothing would save the people from the calamity that was very near at hand.
Grant, Almighty God, that as thou continuest to invite us to thyself, and often to remind us of our sins, that we may embrace the hope of mercy that is offered to us, -- O grant, that we may not be ungrateful for this so great and invaluable a blessing, but come to thee in real humility and true repentance, and that trusting in thine infinite goodness, we may not doubt but that thou wilt be propitious to us, so that we may be kindled with the desire for true religion, and in all things obey thy word, that thy name may be glorified in us, until we shall at length come into that celestial glory, which thy Son hath obtained for us by his blood. -- Amen.
Lecture One Hundred and Seventh
We began in the last Lecture to explain the answer of Jeremiah, when he said to Hananiah, "May God confirm thy words, and may the vessels of the Temple be restored to this place and return together with the captive people." We briefly stated what is now necessary again to repeat, that there were two feelings in the Prophets apparently contrary, and yet they were compatible with one another. Whatever God had commanded them they boldly declared, and thus they forgot their own nation when they announced anything of an adverse kind. Hence, when the Prophets threatened the people, and said that war or famine was near at hand, they doubtless were so endued with a heroic greatness of mind, that dismissing a regard for the people, they proceeded in the performance of their office; they thus strenuously executed whatever God had commanded them. But they did not wholly put off every humane feeling, but condoled with the miseries of the people; and though they denounced on them destruction, yet they could not but receive sorrow from their own prophecies. There was, therefore, no inconsistency in Jeremiah in wishing the restoration of the vessels of the Temple and the return of the exiles, while yet he ever continued in the same mind, as we shall hereafter see.
If any one objects and says that this could not have been the case, for then Jeremiah must have been a vain and false prophet; the answer to this is, that the prophets had no recourse to refined reasoning, when they were carried away by a vehement zeal; for we see that Moses wished to be blotted out of the book of life, and that Paul expressed a similar wish, even that he might be an anathema from Christ for his brethren. (Exodus 32:32; Romans 9:3.) Had any one distinctly asked Moses, Do you wish to perish and to be cut off from the hope of salvation? his answer, no doubt, would have been, that nothing was less in his mind than to cast away the immutable favor of God; but when his mind was wholly fixed on God's glory, which would have been exposed to all kinds of reproaches, had the people been destroyed in the Desert, and when he felt another thing, a solicitude for the salvation of his own nation, he was at the time forgetful of himself, and being carried away as it were beyond himself, he said, "Rather blot me out of the book of life," and the ease of Paul was similar. And the same view we ought to take of Jeremiah, when he, in effect, said, I would I were a false prophet, and that thou hast predicted to the people what by the event may be found to be true." But Jeremiah did not intend to take away even the least thing from God's word; he only expressed a wish, and surrendered to God the care for the other, the credit and the authority of his prophecy, he did not, then, engage for this, as though he ought to have made it good, if the event did not by chance correspond with his prophecy; but he left the care of this with God, and thus, without any difficulty, he prayed for the liberation and return of the people. But it now follows --
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