Lecture One Hundred and Forty-Second
7. It may be they will present their supplication before the Lord, and will return every one from his evil way: for great is the anger and the fury that the Lord hath pronounced against this people.
7. Si forte cadat precatio ipsorum coram facie Jehovae, et convertantur quisque a via sua mala; quia magna est excandescentia et magna iracundia quam locutus est Jehova contra populum hunc.
Jeremiah, after having dictated to the scribe Baruch what he had before preached to the people, repeats what the object was, which we have previously observed; for it was God's will to make the trial, whether the people could by any means be restored to a sound mind. This had, indeed, been in vain attempted for a long time; but God was yet willing to proceed to the utmost extent in his mercy. Hence Jeremiah now declares the purpose for which he wished the book to be read to the people. Nor is there a doubt but that Baruch had been thus admonished, that he might exhort the people to repentance as it were from the mouth of Jeremiah.
Now, there are two things mentioned as necessary in order to obtain pardon, -- prayer, and turning or conversion. For if any one only in words seeks to be reconciled to God, he will not succeed. Turning or conversion cannot be separated from prayer. But then were a sinner to repent a thousand times, he would still remain exposed to God's judgment; for reconciliation, by which we are absolved, does not depend on repentance, but on the gratuitous favor of God; for God does not receive us into favor because he sees that we are changed to a better mind, as though conversion were the cause of pardon; but he embraces us according to his gratuitous mercy. This, then, is the reason why Jeremiah joins together these two things -- prayer, and conversion or repentance; for as I have said, hypocrites confess in words their sins and seek pardon, but it is with a feigned or a double heart. Hence that prayer may be genuine, repentance must be added, by which men shew that they loathe themselves. And then, ou the other hand, it is not enough for us to turn or repent, except the sinner flees to the mercy of God, for pardon flows from that fountain; for God, as it has been said, does not forgive us for any merit in us, but because it seemeth him good to bury our sins. The sum of the whole is, that God would have the prophecies of Jeremiah to be recited before the whole people, as they were conducive to their safety and salvation. The manner is described, -- that the people were humbly to pray and also really to repent.
As to the expression,
1 So the verb is rendered in the Sept. and Vulg.; but "accepted" by the Syr. and Targ. Our version is a paraphrase; to convey fully the meaning the word "humbly" ought to have been introduced," It may be, they will humbly present their supplication," etc. -- Ed.
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