6. They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The Lord says; and the Lord has not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word.
6. Viderunt vanitatem, divinarunt mendacium, dicentes, dicit Iehovah, et non misit eos Iehovah: et sperare fecerunt1 ad stabihendum sermonem.
Here again he pronounces generally that those false prophets were vain, and this assertion depends upon the principle that they had spoken from their own heart or spirit, for nothing false or vain can proceed from God. It follows, therefore, that they are here condemned of vanity and lying, because they dared falsely to use the name of God when they uttered nothing but their own dreams. He now confirms what we saw in the last verse, when he says, they hoped to establish their word. Hence they puffed up the people with vain hope, when they said that God would not be so severe as to exact continual punishment of the holy and elect nation. True prophets also often recall sinners to the mercy of God, and magnify it so, that those who wrestle with despair may not doubt God's long-suffering, since he is said to be slow to anger, and inclined to reconciliation; and his pity endures for a life, while his anger passes away in a moment. (Numbers 14:18; Psalm 103:8, and Psalm 30:5.) True prophets indeed act thus; but they join two members which must not be separated, otherwise God himself would be, as it were, dissipated.2 Hence, when true prophets exhort sinners to hope and predict God's freeness to pardon, they likewise discourse about penitence; they do not indulge sinners, but rouse them, nay, wound them sharply with a sense of God's anger, so as in some way to stir them up, since God's mercy is set before us for that end, that by it we may seek life. Hence we must be dead in ourselves; but false prophets sever between the two, and divide God, as it were, in half, since they speak only of his freeness to forgive, and declare his clemency to be set before all, while they are profoundly silent about repentance. Now, therefore, we see why the Prophet here reproves these traitors3 who abused the name of God, since they made the people to hope. Without hope, indeed, the sinner could not be animated to seek God: but they promised peace, as he will say directly, when there was no peace. Therefore let us proceed with the exposition.
1 Others translate, "to be hoped for;" but the word is here taken transitively. -- Calvin.
2 Dissipetur: The French has "fust luy-mesme deschire par picces."
3 Calvin's Latin is nebulones; the French translation "belistres;" the familiar English "rascals."
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