18. And I will persecute them with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment; and an hissing, and a reproach, among all the nations whither I have driven them.
18. Et persequar (ad verbum est, post eos: persequar eos) gladio, fame et peste; et ponam eos in commotionem (vel, concussionem) cunctis regnis terrae, in execrationem, et in stuporem, et in sibilum, et in probrum inter cunctas gentes ad quas expulero eos (vel, quo expulero eos illuc:)
19. Because they have not hearkened to my words, saith the Lord, which I sent unto them by my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; but ye would not hear, saith the Lord.
19. Propterea quod non audierunt sermones meos, inquit Jehovah, quos misi ad eos peer servos meos Prophetas, mane surgendo et mittendo; et non audistis, inquit Jehova.
He goes on with the same subject, -- that he would not cease to consume them with pestilence, famine, and the sword, until he wholly destroyed them, according to what we find in the twenty-fourth chapter. He repeats what is in that chapter; but the words are taken from the twenty-eighth chapter of Deuteronomy, and from the twenty-ninth. The prophets, we know, drew the substance of their doctrine from the fountain of the Law, and, strictly speaking, brought forward nothing new, but accommodated the doctrine of Moses to the circumstances of the time in which each lived.
Hence we find among the curses of the Law these words, I will set them for a commotion, or a concussion. The word may be explained in two ways, -- either that the nations would tremble at such a sad spectacle, -- or that they would shake their head. The second view is to be preferred, according to what I have stated elsewhere, I will then set them for a commotion, that is, every one who shall see their miseries, will shake his head in contempt, as though he had said, "All will assent to the just vengeance of God, and ye shall be objects of reproach among all the heathens; for all will acknowledge that ye suffer most justly for your sins."
He adds, for a curse. The word hla, ale, is properly an oath, but is taken in many places for a curse, which is introduced or understood when we swear. But as men often expose themselves to punishment for perjury, the word means, frequently, a curse; and what is to be understood, as it has been explained elsewhere, is a pattern or formula of a curse; and we have seen in what sense the Prophet said this, that is, that every one who wished to curse himself or others, or to imprecate, as they say, some dire things, would take the Jews for an example, "May God curse thee as he did the Jews;" or, "May he draw forth his severity to thy ruin, as he did to the Jews." He then says that they would be for a curse, that is, that they would be so miserable that they would be taken as an example in imprecations.
He afterwards adds, for an astonishment, as he had spoken of the shaking of the head, so now he mentions astonishment, which is something more grievous, that is, when such a spectacle presents itself as makes all men to stand astonished, as not knowing what it means. Hissing is mentioned; as it is said elsewhere that they would be a proverb, lsm, meshel, and also a taunt, so Jeremiah says in this place, that they would be a hissing, as he has spoken of the shaking of the head.
And lastly he adds, that they would be a reproach even to all nations, for all would deem them worthy of their calamities, however grievous they were, when a comparison would be made between their iniquities and God's vengeance. The reason follows, because they hearkened not to God. But I cannot now finish.
Grant, Almighty God, that as thou hast given so remarkable a proof both of thy wrath and of thy paternal kindness in thy dealings with thine ancient people, -- O grant, that we may not by our obstinacy provoke thine extreme wrath, but in time anticipate thy judgment, so that we may find thee reconcilable, and never doubt but that thou wilt be merciful to us when we sincerely turn to thee; and as we are so prone to all evil, yea, and rush headlong into it, and as our wickedness and hardness are so great, grant to us, we pray thee, the spirit of meekness, that we may in all things submit ourselves to thee, and thus render ourselves thy children, that we may also find thee to be our Father in thine only-begotten Son. -- Amen.
Lecture One Hundred and Twelfth
The Prophet, after having denounced God's judgment on those who remained in their own country as well as on the exiles, subjoins this reason, because they hearkened not to the word of the Lord; and this was a most grievous sin. Though ignorance is no excuse before God, for those who are without the Law must perish; yet the servant who knew his Lord's will and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes. And the more abundant God's grace is in calling us to the right way of salvation, the more base is our ingratitude when we close our ears and disregard the concern and care which he manifests for our salvation. Let us then know that nothing is less tolerable than the rejection of the prophetic word.
And we must notice what follows, which I sent them by my servants the prophets. The Jews might have otherwise objected and said, that they did not intend to be rebellious against God, but that there were many contentions among the prophets. Lest, then, they should seek an evasion by a pretense of this kind, he says that the word, brought by his ministers and witnesses the prophets, was worthy of no less reverence than if angels came down from heaven to them. And this passage serves to shew the use of external doctrine, which fanatical men despise, thinking the hidden word sufficient, that is, whatever they may dream. But God thus proves the obedience of our faith, while he rules us by the hand and labor of men. Whosoever then rejects the faithful teachers of the word, shews that he is a despiser of God himself. The meaning is, that God defines his word, not as an oracle of any kind, but as the doctrine which has been deposited with faithful teachers.
He afterwards adds, rising up early and sending. The metaphor is taken from men who are sedulous and diligent. We indeed know that God never awakes and never changes place; but he could not otherwise express his paternal care toward his people, as though he had said, that he was sedulously engaged in admonishing them. And thus the more inexcusable was rendered the sloth of the people; for God hastened as it were to rise up early, as they who spare no labor, but willingly deprive themselves of some portion of their sleep, that they may complete their work or their journey. As God then manifested so much diligence in securing the wellbeing of men, the more shameful is the sloth of men, when they become deaf, or are not moved, but remain in their indifference. It now follows, --