16. Now, when I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed unto the Lord, saying,
16. Et prcatus sum Jehovam postquam dedi librum emptionis Baruch filio Neriae, dicendo,
17. Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched-out arm; and there is nothing too hard for thee;
17. Heu Domine Jehova! Ecce tu fecisti coelos et terram in potentia tua magna et brachio tuo extento; non est ulla res abscondita a to, (vel, mirabilis)
18. Thou shewest loving-kindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: The Great, the Mighty God, the Lord of hosts, is his name.
18. Faciens (vel, tu facis) clementiam erga mille et rependis iniquitatem patrum in sinum filiorum eorum post ipsos; Deus fortis, potens, Jehova exercituum nomen ejus, ( et quoe sequuntur)
Though the Prophet was discharging his own office, yet he confesses that he was himself perplexed at the vision. It hence appears that God's counsel was not always made known in everything to the Prophets, but as far as it was expedient. However, the Prophets were not seized with ecstasies like heathen soothsayers, who pretended they were carried away beyond all their senses. There was not then this fanaticism in the Prophets, so that they spoke like sounding brass, or like the ass of Balaam; but the Lord discovered to them what they taught. They were then disciples, so that they delivered faithfully to the people, as if it were from hand to hand, what was committed to them. But the knowledge with which they were endued was not inconsistent with ignorance as to some things; as when the Prophet said,
We now then perceive how these two things are consistent, -- the prophetic knowledge with which Jeremiah was endued, and the ignorance which compelled him to make this exclamation. He knew with certainty what had been shewn to him in the vision, but what was the design and how the work could be done by God, seemed incomprehensible, and hence his astonishment. He therefore says that he prayed: and by this we are taught, that whenever thoughts creep into our minds, which toss us here and there, we ought to flee to prayer. For many increase their anxieties by fomenting them, while they turn themselves to all quarters, and indulge their own thoughts, and weary themselves without any benefit. Whenever, therefore, any anxiety stealthily lays hold on our minds, let us know that the remedy ought to be in due time applied, that is, to pray to God; so that he may relieve us, and not suffer us to sink into the deep, as it usually happens to all who are curious, and give loose reins to their own imaginations.
We now see that the Prophet was greatly astonished, and yet in such a way as not to look for more than what was profitable; but he immediately prayed, that God would make him to understand what grieved his mind. His prayer follows, which, however, does not immediately discover the mind of the Prophet, for he does not shew the purpose of his prayer until he comes to the 25th verse (Jeremiah 32:25). But he seems here to refer to many things unconnected with his subject. His design must be ascertained from the conclusion of his prayer, "O Lord," he says, "why hast thou bidden me to buy the field which is now in the hand of enemies? the Chaldeans possess it; and thou hast bidden me to throw away my money." This was substantially his prayer.
But Jeremiah seems to wander and take long circuits when he says, "Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by thy great power and stretched-out arm; nothing is wonderful to thee; thou shewest mercy to thousand generations; thou repayest the iniquity of fathers to their children; thy name is Jehovah of hosts; thou art great in council and excellent in work; thine eyes are open," etc. These things seem not to belong in any degree to the present subject. But the Prophet's object, no doubt, was to restrain himself, as it were, by putting on a bridle, so that he might acquiesce in the counsel of God, though it was hid and incomprehensible to him: for if he had immediately rushed into prayer, he might, at the first burst of his feelings, have contended with God; for such is the disposition and character of man, when he suddenly addresses God, that he boils over beyond all moderation. The Prophet then, who well understood that there is no such moderation in men as to judge rightly and calmly of God's works, set up against himself these fences, and placed, as it were, barriers around him, that he might not take more liberty than what was right. Let. us then know that these high terms in which the Prophet spoke were designed for this end, -- that he might produce moderation and humility in himself, so that he might check all those roving thoughts by which men are wont to divert themselves. Let us come now to the words:
He then adds,
I do not, however, reject the other meaning, given by Jerome, that there is nothing difficult to God, or wonderful, because all things are subject to his will. Thus the Prophet might say, continuing the same thought, that the power of God, which shines forth to our view in the heavens and in the earth, may at the same time be observed in the permanent government of the world; for he who has created the heavens and the earth can do all things, so that nothing is wonderful to him, that is, nothing is difficult for his power as soon as he has decreed this or that. The main object of the Prophet is, however, still the same.1
He now adds,
We must at the same time briefly observe, that the innocent are not punished when God includes children with their fathers, and casts the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children, for he does not refer to the innocent and the righteous, but to the wicked. Some, when they saw that this truth militated against the common feelings of mankind, have laid hold of an evasion, that is, that God by a temporal punishment renders to children what their fathers had deserved. But God speaks without exception, that he repays to the bosom of children the reward due to their fathers. But how ought this to be understood? It is a part of this punishment, that God withholds from them his Spirit. When, therefore, his purpose is to punish the vices of fathers in their posterity, he withholds from their posterity the light and grace of his Spirit. It cannot then be but that they will ever accumulate evils on evils, and thus they are entangled in the guilt of their fathers. God then proceeds by degrees in the work of punishing sins; for when it is his purpose to forgive the son the punishment which he together with his father has deserved, he draws him to himself by his Spirit, so that he is freed from punishment; but if his purpose is to execute vengeance on sons and grandsons, he withholds from them, as I have already said, the gift of the Spirit, so that they do nothing but provoke his wrath more and more, and thus they become involved in the same guilt with their fathers; hence fathers and children receive in common the same punishment.
This indeed seems not at the first view to be just and right; but let us remember that God's judgments are hid from us, and for this reason, -- that we may cultivate meekness and humility and learn to be soberly wise, and so confess God to be a just judge as to know that our minds cannot penetrate into this deep abyss. But still the solution given seems plain enough, that is, that God never punishes the innocent. For when he visits the sins of fathers on their children, a part of that punishment is, as I have already stated, that he withholds from the children the light of his Spirit; being blind, they ever run headlong to their own ruin, and thus by the continual commission of new sins they provoke God's vengeance against themselves. When therefore God renders to them the reward due to their fathers, he punishes them at the same time for what they themselves have deserved; nor have they any reason to complain, because they have been guilty in common with their fathers: there is, therefore, nothing strange that they share with them in their punishment. But it, however, depends on the hidden mercy of God, that. he favors some with pardon, and thus delivers them from ruin, while he forsakes others; and as they are wicked, they deserve all the punishment he inflicts on them:
He afterwards exclaims,
He afterwards changes the person, which is a proof of vehemence and ardor; for it is, as we have seen, a prayer. He does not now address God directly, but says,
1 The Targ. and the versions, except the Vulg., give the first sense; but the latter is no doubt the true meaning, as the word never means properly to be hidden. The phrase here literally is, "Not harder (or more marvellous) than thou shall anything be,"that is, not harder than what thou canst do. Exactly the same phrase occurs in Genesis 18:14. The word, in a similar clause, in Deuteronomy 30:11, is rendered "hidden;" but the clause literally is, "It is not harder than thou," that is, than what thou canst attain, or do, as the context proves, see Jeremiah 32:14. -- Ed.
18. He who sheweth mercy to thousands, And who returns the iniquity of fathers To the bosom of their children after them, Is God, the great, the powerful; Jehovah is his name, --
19. Great in counsel and mighty in his doings: Who -- thine eyes are open On the ways of the sons of men, To give to each according to his ways, And according to the fruit of his doings;
20. Who, etc., etc.
"God, the great," etc., is connected with shewing mercy and requiting iniquity. His greatness is in counsel or wisdom, and his power or might is manifested in his doings. The
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