16. But I will leave a few men of them from the sword, from the famine, and from the pestilence; that they may declare all their abominations among the heathen whither they come; and they shall know that I am the Lord.
16. Et residuos faciam ex illis homines numeri1 a gladio, a fame, a peste, ut enarrent cunctas abominationes suas in gentibus, ad quas venient; et cognoscent quod ego Iehovah.
Some think that God here speaks of the faithful, whom he had determined to preserve in the very midst of death. And certainly there is some mitigation of his former vengeance. But it is not in harmony with the rest to understand the faithful here, for he is speaking of the people in general. But as we have already seen that the slaughter of the city was such that God scattered the remnant to the four winds, and this the Prophet confirms. We must hold, then, first of all, that this promise was not directed peculiarly to the elect or to God's Church, but rather that God is showing that exile will not be the end of woes to the captives, although they will not be directly cut to pieces. Their condition, indeed, might seem preferable, but God pronounces that he would be inexorable towards them. Although all should not perish by the sword, or famine, or pestilence, and some remnant should be left, that will happen, says he, not because I am going to be reconciled to them, but that I may spread their crimes among the Gentiles. For when he says, that they may narrate, he does not mean that they would be witnesses to their own sins, as the pious are accustomed, as we shall see elsewhere, to extol the mercy of God, and candidly to confess their faults before men. He does not mean that kind of confession which is a sign of repentance, but rather a real speech.2 For that exile uttered with a loud voice, that those men were abandoned whom God treated with such hostility. He had chosen the people, was the guardian of the city, and would have been their perpetual preserver, if their perverseness had not prevented it. Hence their being destitute of his aid, their being deprived of all their goods, their being treated tyrannically by their enemies, this made their extreme wickedness clearly appear. They narrated, then, not by words but by their actual position, their own sins to the Gentiles.
Now, therefore, we understand the intention of God: although some remained alive and unconcerned by either the sword, or famine, or pestilence, yet they were cursed, since their expulsion to a distance served no other purpose than that of spreading their disgrace and rendering them detestable, so flint the profane Gentiles acknowledged that they deserved vengeance for their wickedness. Therefore they shall narrate among the Gentiles all their abominations, and they shall know that I am Jehovah. Again he repeats that sentiment, that they should know too late what they had despised: since God had acted towards them as a father, and they had not acknowledged his favor; and at length they should be compelled to feel him as their judge, even to their eternal destruction.
Grant, Almighty God, since thou declarest to us by so many proofs the formidable nature of thine anger, especially against the obstinate and rebellious, who reject thy word familiarly spoken to them: Grant, I say, that we may embrace what is proposed to us in thy name with the humility and reverence becoming' to thy children, so that we may repent of our sins, and obtain their pardon, until at length we are freed from all corruptions of the flesh, and become partakers of that eternal and celestial glory which thy only-begotten Son has purchased for us by his blood. -- Amen.
Lecture Thirty third
1 That is, "few men." -- Calvin.
2 "Realis sermo." -- Calvin. "Une parole par effect, c'est a dire, reelle." -- Fr.
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