Jeremiah 46:28

28. Fear thou not, O Jacob my servant, saith the Lord: for I am with thee; for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee; but I will not make a full end of thee, but correct thee in measure: yet will I not leave thee wholly unpunished.

28. Tu ne timeas, serve mi Jacob, dicit Jehova, quia ego tecum, quia faciam consumptionem in cunctis gentibus ad quas te expulero illuc (est supervacuum hms;) et tecum non faciam consumptionem; et castigabo te in judicio, et excidendo non excidam te (alii vertunt, non faciam te innocentem, sed male, ut postea dicemus.)


He repeats the same thing, and no wonder, for under circumstances so hopeless it was not easy to raise up and sustain the minds of the people, so that they might patiently wait for the time of their redemption. He had to raise them to light as it were from the lowest depths, for captivity was little short of death, according to what Ezekiel says, (Ezekiel 37) who shews that the common saying among them was,

"Can God raise the dead from their graves?"

Whenever the Prophets promised that God would become their Redeemer, they said, "Oh, will God raise us up again? It is all a fable." For this reason God commanded dead and dry bones to rise and to assume their own skin and flesh, at least this was shewn to the Prophet in a vision.

We now then understand why the Prophet repeated twice what was in itself sufficiently clear, Fear not, my servant Jacob, even because they could not apprehend God's mercy, except they looked off from their great difficulties, and further, because it was not enough for them once to embrace this promise, without recumbing on it constantly. Hence the Prophet, in order to encourage them firmly to hope, and at the same time to render them persevering, and to confirm them, says twice, Fear not, my servant Jacob. He then adds, I am with thee. And this promise, as it has been said, depends on gratuitous adoption, because God had chosen that people for himself, that they might be a priestly kingdom.

He afterwards adds, For I will make a consummation among all the nations, etc. By this comparison he softens and alleviates all sorrow: for however bitter the condition of the people might be, yet when they considered that fled would deal milder with them than with other mortals, it was a cause of ample consolation. The Prophet, then, seeing that the Jews, while their minds were embittered, could not accept God's favor, shews here, that however severely God might chastise them, he yet would be more merciful to them than to other nations: how so? because, he says, I will make a consummation among other nations, that is, they shall be destroyed without any remedy; as though he had said, that the wound he would inflict on other nations would be deadly, but that he would not make a consummation as to his chosen people.

This seems not to agree with what he had said before, that Egypt should be again inhabited as in days of old. How can the restoration of Egypt be consistent with the words of the Prophet here? To this I answer, that when God mitigates his rigor towards the unbelieving, he is not yet propitious to them, nor is the indulgence shewn to them a proof of his paternal favor, as I have before observed. Though then there were Egyptians who remained alive after the ruin of their kingdom, yet God made a consummation in Egypt, for there his vengeance continued after that, time. Now, when we come to the chosen people, God says in many places, I will not make a consummation. There seems to be here again some contrariety, when any one attends only to the words; for God is said to have made a consummation as to his elect people: but this was the case, when he destroyed the whole body of the people; and that consummation was external; there ever remained at the same time some hidden root.

In short, when God says, that he makes a consummation as to heathen nations, it ought to be understood, that God curses them from the root. As when a tree stands, when its root is dead; so also heathen nations, as it were, stand, but in the meantime they are consumed, for God has doomed them to eternal ruin. But consummation is said to be as to God's children, when nothing appears on the surface, but perhaps a dry trunk; yet a living root remains, which will again grow up, and from it branches will arise. We hence see how God makes a consummation as to all the unbelieving, and yet does not make a consummation as to his chosen people.


Grant, Almighty God, that as thou hast testified that thou wilt be a Father to us, and hast given us a pledge of thy adoption, thine only-begotten Son, -- O grant, that we, trusting in thy promise, may never doubt, even when thou severely chastisest us, but that thou wilt at length be merciful to us, and that we may thus never cease to flee to thy mercy, and thus submit to thee, and suffer ourselves to be corrected; and may, in the meantime, this hope sustain us, and alleviate all our sorrows, that in all our miseries we shall yet ever glorify thy name, through the same, thy Son our Lord. -- Amen.

Lecture One Hundred and Sixty-Eighth

WE explained yesterday what is meant by not making a consummation. The meaning is, that sometimes God's vengeance is such towards his Church, that it seems to be consumed, while yet some hidden hope remains, for God raises his own as it were from death. We said, that in this sense is to be understood what Jeremiah now promises to the chosen people: for God makes a distinction between the Israelites and strangers; for on account of the covenant he had made with them, he would spare them, so that some hope remained, though the Church itself seemed for a time to be lost.

And he explains himself in other words, I will chastise thee, he says, in judgment; for to chastise in judgment is to exercise moderation, so that rigor may not issue in destruction. In the tenth chapter, Jeremiah says the same, "Chastise me, O Jehovah, but in judgment, and not in thine anger." The Prophet, then, in the person of the faithful submitted himself to the scourges of God, because it was useful for them to be corrected, for had the Lord spared them, they would have abused his indulgence, and have become thus putrid in their vices. Hence the Prophet offered himself to be chastised by God, but deprecated his anger, which he set in opposition to judgment. The word judgment, in Hebrew, is taken in various senses; but in that passage, as I explained there, it means due measure, or moderation. When God punishes the unbelieving, he cannot be charged with extreme severity, for he is ever just and regards a due measure. But, as I have already said, judgment means not only rectitude, but also the paternal love of God, when he moderates punishment, so as to render it medicinal and salutary to his elect. Hence he promises to punish his Church moderately, not only because he is just, but also because he mercifully spares his own, and regards what they can bear, and what is useful for them.

Now this passage ought to be especially noticed, from which we may derive great consolation; for we are here taught that punishments inflicted on us are temporary, and that God prescribes limits to them, such as he knows to be best for us: for whence comes despair which overwhelms the unbelieving, except that being sunk in the deep, they know not that God will be merciful to them, but apprehend nothing but his wrath? Hence then it comes that they have no comfort in their evils and sorrows. Whenever, then, excessive anxiety lays hold on us, or our evils drive us into despair, let us learn to flee to this consolation, even that the punishments by which we are chastised are only for a time.

He afterwards adds, And cutting off I will not cut thee off. There are some who give another rendering, "I will not make thee innocent: " and in this sense the verb hqn, nuke, is sometimes to be taken; but it is not suitable to the context here, unless the copulative be rendered as an adversative, "Though I shall not make thee innocent, I shall yet chastise thee with paternal moderation." As this, however, seems forced, I doubt not but that the Prophet means, that chastisement would be moderated, because God would not wholly cut off his chosen people, according to the exposition I gave on the thirtieth chapter of this book; and thus the Prophet confirms what I have already said, that God spares his children, because he purifies them by afflictions, as gold is melted and purified by fire, so that punishment does not issue in their destruction. Now follows the forty-seventh chapter:


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