19. The portion of Jacob is not like them; for he is the former of all things; and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: the Lord of hosts is his name.
19. Non sicut ipsi (vel, sicut ipsa, si ad idola referimus) portio Jacob; quia fictor omnium ipse, et virga haereditatis ejus, Jehova exercituum nomen ejus.
Had the Prophet only said that idols were mere impostures and mockeries, it would have been indeed something; but this part of his teaching would have been cold and uninteresting, had he not, on the other hand, proclaimed the glory of the one and only true God. We ought, indeed, to know that idols are nothing, that men are most foolishly deceived, and are wholly infatuated, when they imagine that there is in them some divinity. But the main thing is, that the true God himself is brought before us, and that we are taught to direct all our thoughts to him. This, then, is what is now done by the Prophet; for after having exposed the folly of the heathens in worshipping idols, and having shown that the whole is nothing but deception and falsehood, he now says, Not as they, the fictitious gods,
And, doubtless, the vanity which the Prophet before mentioned cannot be adequately understood, except the true God be known. For though some of the ancient philosophers ridiculed the grossest errors of the common people, yet they had nothing fixed or certain on which they could rest, like him, who, when asked, "What was God?" requested time to consider, and who after several delays confessed that the more he inquired into the nature of God, the more absorbed were all his thoughts. And this must necessarily be the case with men until they are taught what God is, which can never be done until he himself represents himself and his glory as it were in a mirror.
This is then the reason why the Prophet, while setting the only true God in opposition to idols and all the inventions of mortals, calls him
We then see that the Prophet speaks briefly but not frigidly; and from this passage we learn a useful doctrine, even that God cannot be comprehended by us except in his works. As then vain men weary themselves with speculations, which have not in them, so to speak, any practical knowledge, it is no wonder that they run headlong into many delirious things. Let us then be sober in this respect, so that we may not inquire into the essence of God more than it becomes us. When therefore we seek to comprehend what God is, or how to attain the knowledge of him, let us direct all our thoughts, and eyes, and minds to his works.
So also by this passage, when the Prophet calls God the worker or framer of all things, is exposed the vanity of all superstitions; and how? because we hence learn that the power which made not the heaven and the earth, is vain and worthless; but the only maker of heaven and earth is God, then he is God alone. Since he is the only true God, it follows that the inventions or figments of men are altogether delirious, and are therefore the artifices and impostures of the devil to deceive mankind. We hence see that the doctrine of the Prophet is exclusive, when he says that God is
He says at last,
1 Though the Hebrew here is exactly the same as in Jeremiah 10, except that "Israel" is omitted here, yet the Vulg., the Syr., and the Targ. give a different version; but in the Sept. it is the same. But many copies have "israel" here, which is no doubt the correct reading. -- Ed.
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