14. So the Spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me.
14. Et Spiritus sustulit me, et sumpsit me: et profectus sum amarus pro indignatione spiritus mei, et manus Iehovae super me fortis.
He confirms what we have formerly seen, namely, that he was acted upon by the Spirit of God, so that it was in some way without himself, and not as profane men have invented, enthusiastically: for their Prophets were deprived of self-control, and the devil so dealt with them, that they were not of sound mind. Hence the Prophet does not understand that he was deprived of self-control, because God's Prophets were of a sedate and composed mind; but he understands that he was so governed by the Spirit of God, that he was unlike himself, and did not breathe a terrestrial air; lastly, he understands that visible marks were graven upon him, which obtained for his doctrine authority with all the people. And it was the more necessary that the Prophet should be adorned with his own proofs, on account of the dullness of the people, and also because his message was distasteful to them, and he had not previously discharged the duty of a teacher. It was needful, therefore, that he should be so renewed that the people should acknowledge him as inspired. He had lived familiarly among his friends, and was sufficiently known both by appearance and character. Meanwhile God, as I have said, separated him from common life, that he should represent something celestial; and the object of this was, as we have shown, to conciliate confidence and reverence towards his teaching. He felt indeed the agitation of the Spirit, and it is scarcely to be doubted that the people also knew it, otherwise they would scarcely have had confidence in him when speaking of himself.
The object of this remarkable government of the Spirit was, that the Israelites, if only awake and attentive to the miracle, might know the Prophet to be in some manner renovated. But what follows seems opposed to the former sentence; for he says (Ezekiel 3:3) the volume was sweet as honey, but now that he departed in the bitterness of his spirit;. but as I briefly explained yesterday, this is easily reconciled; for the Prophet was not deprived of all sensation. Although he was entirely consecrated to God, and in no degree remitted his diligence and alacrity, yet he retained some human feelings: hence the spirit of bitterness of which he speaks, which he calls his own spirit. Whence we perceive an implied contrast between that motion by which he was caught up and that feeling, which, although not sinful, was in some way different from the grace of the Spirit, because the Prophet so burnt with zeal that he performed the commands of God almost in forgetfulness of self: yet, at the same time, he felt within him something human, since the power of the Spirit had not extinguished all sorrow. We hold, therefore, that the Prophet was in some degree inspired by the Spirit, and yet that his own spirit was bitter. He adds, and the hand of Jehovah was strong upon me. By "hand," some understand prophecy, but in my opinion ignorantly: I do not doubt that its meaning is power or authority. He says, the hand of God was strong, because he ought to obey God, although the bitterness of which he spoke should draw him in a contrary direction. As Paul says, (2 Corinthians 5:14, and Philippians 1:23,) that he was constrained by a zeal of God, so also the Prophet signifies that he was constrained by the secret instinct of the Spirit, so that he did not act from human motives, nor yet obey the wishes of his own mind, nor follow his own individual will, but was only intent on rendering obedience to God. In this sense, then, he says, that the hand of God was strong upon him. Otherwise it might be objected -- why did he not fall away when he was so oppressed with grief, and anxiety so overwhelmed his spirit? he replies, the hand of God was strong and prevailed, since otherwise he would have failed a hundred times, had he not been supported by the power of God. And thus we see that there was some repugnance in the Prophet, since as man he was affected with sorrow, but the power of the Holy Spirit ruled over him, so that he denied himself and all his human affections.
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