7. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.
7. Et quaerite pacem urbis ad quam transtuli vos illuc (sed abundat), et orate pro ea Jehovam, quia in pace ejus erit vobis pax.
Jeremiah goes still farther, even that the Jews had been led to Babylon, on the condition of rendering willing obedience to the authority of King Nebuchadnezzar, and of testifying this by their prayers. He not only bids them patiently to endure the punishment laid on them, but also to be faithful subjects of their conqueror; he not only forbids them to be seditious, but he would have them to obey from the heart, so that God might be a witness of their willing subjection and obedience.
But he was not satisfied with external efforts, but he would have them to
He repeats again what he had said, (though I had passed it by,) that they had been
Grant, Almighty God, that we may be more and more habituated to render obedience to thee, and that whenever thou chastisest us with thy scourges, we may examine our own consciences, and humbly and suppliantly deprecate thy wrath, and never doubt but thou wilt be propitious to us, after having chastised us with thy paternal hand; and may we thus recumb on thy fatherly kindness, that we may ever look forward with quiet minds, until the end appears, which thou hast promised to us, and that when the warfare of this present life shall be finished, we may reach that blessed rest, which has been prepared for us in heaven, through Christ our Lord. -- Amen.
Lecture One Hundred and Tenth
In the last Lecture we did not finish the seventh verse, in which the Prophet says that the Jews, as long as God would have them to be exiles, were to be so fixed in Babylon, that they ought to have deemed their union such, as though they were of the same body. For by saying that
At the first view this may seem hard; for we know how cruelly that miserable people had been treated by the Chaldeans. Then to pray for the most savage enemies, might have appeared unreasonable and by no means suitable. But the Prophet mitigates the hardness of the work by saying, that it would be profitable to them to pray for the happy condition of Babylon, inasmuch as they were the associates of their fortune. We know how much the prospect of what is profitable avails to persuade us, as we think not of undertaking anything except what we deem will be successful. For this reason then the Prophet teaches the Jews that they ought not to refuse what was required from them, when God bade them to pray for Babylon, because the prosperity of that kingdom would be for their benefit, he intimates also, as I have already hinted, that they were so connected with
Babylon, that they could not expect to be exempt from all trouble and annoyance, if any adversity happened to Babylon, for they were of the same body. We now perceive the meaning of the Prophet.
But we may hence deduce a very useful doctrine, -- that we ought not only to obey the kings under whose authority we live, but that we ought also to pray for their prosperity, so that God may be a witness of our voluntary subjection. For if it was the duty of the Jews to pray for the wellbeing of the Chaldeans for this reason, because they were for a certain time under their authority, there is no excuse for us, when we live under any legitimate prince, and that not only for a few days, unless we testify our voluntary submission before God; and he who prays to God for the happy state of the country in which he lives, will not surely neglect his other duties.3 The principal thing indeed is to testify before God what our feeling is; and then other things must be added, such as promptitude to perform all duties of obedience and everything of the like kind. It now follows, --
1 To, "seek the peace of the city" was, no doubt, to promote it by their efforts, to be careful in preserving it. To "seek the land," in Deuteronomy 11:12, was to care for it; "not to seek the day," in Job 3:4, was not to regard it. Hence, to "seek the peace of the city," was to care for, or regard it, so as to do everything to promote it. It is said of Mordecai that he was "seeking the wealth (rather, the good) of his people." (Esther 10:3) His whole conduct was a proof of this. To "seek one's hurt," as in Psalm 38:12, was not to pray for it, but to use all means to effect it. Therefore the first sense given by Calvin is the right one. -- Ed.
2 It is literally, "whom I have removed," or transplanted; "moved from home," is the Sept.; "transferred," the Vulg.; "made to migrate," the Targ. -- Ed.
3 To pray for the peace of a city or country, and for the health or eternal salvation of rulers, is very different from wishing success to their ambitious, rapacious, or sanguinary undertakings; though this distinction is not generally attended to." -- Scott.
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