39. As for you, e house of Israel, thus says the Lord God, Go you, serve you every one his idols, and hereafter also, if you will not hearken unto me: but pollute you my holy name no more with your gifts, and with your idols.
39. Et vos domus Israel, sic dicit Dominator Iehovah, Quisque idolis suis ite servite, postquam non auditis me, et nomen sanctitatis meae,1 ne profanetis amplius in muneribus vestris, et idolis vestris.
Now again God expressly bears witness that he rejects the Israelites because they infected the pure worship of the law with their mixtures; for we said that they were deceived by a vain imagination when they thought God pleased with their obedience, while they worshipped him only half-heartedly. When they heaped up fictions, they thought this diligence would be pleasing to God, because they professed to acknowledge the true God as their redeemer. Here again he announces that he rejects all half-worship, since he wished to have the entire affections, and to admit no rival: Now, says he, O house of Israel, thus says Jehovah, Go each of you and serve your idols, just as if he would cast them off from his family. And yet we see that they were always under his dominion; and thus some kind of inconsistency arises when God rejects them from his sway, and yet retains them as his right. But the liberty which is now granted is to show them that it is in vain to worship God by halves.
This passage is peculiarly remarkable, since at this time many are deceived, while they rest upon their own inventions, and think that they best discharge their duty towards God when they partially obey his commandments, and then pile up a great heap of superstitions, partly received from their fathers and partly fabricated by themselves. Again, scarcely one in a hundred will be found who does not think it better partially to worship God than entirely to devote themselves to idols; and this indeed is true as far as man is concerned; for the impiety is more foul and detestable when men openly reject God, and divorce themselves from him, and devote themselves to idols, than if they partly worshipped God and partly idols. But in the meantime, we see that God pronounces that he cannot bear this profanation; and we must diligently notice the reason which is added; for when gross and palpable impiety is indulged in, God's name is not so profaned as when clever men reconcile the pure worship of God with superstitions: and for this reason, that monstrous Indecision2 was in God's sight worse than the papacy; and why so? for although the papists profane God's name, yet their madness is at present so detected, that it openly appears that they are idolaters; but that invention mingled darkness with light, and infected the pure doctrine with its leaven. But God here exclaims that he could not endure this deception when men profess to worship him, for they defile themselves with superstitions, since profaneness is added to impiety, and both are the result of hypocrisy. The rest tomorrow.
Grant, Almighty God, since you have once redeemed us by the death of your only-begotten Son, that we may not interrupt the course of thy favor by our ingratitude; but may we so proceed in obedience to thy Gospel, that we may be brought at length to the perfection of that grace which is commenced within us, and may proceed more and more every day in true piety, till at length we are gathered into thy heavenly kingdom, and enjoy the inheritance promised and obtained for us by the same Christ our Lord. -- Amen.
We yesterday saw the reason why God prefers that men should be entirely devoted to their superstitions rather than mingle them with the resemblance of true piety, since this is but a profanation of his holy name. He wishes to be kept separate from all idols. Hence it is not surprising that he loosens the reins from the Israelites, that they should cast themselves entirely on their idolatries; and he repeats again what he had said, that his name was profaned by gifts and idols, since the unbelievers pretended to worship him, but at the same time transferred his glory to idols. Hence he does not suffer himself to be trifled with in this way; so wherever offerings and idols occur, we should notice that all mixtures by which the pure simplicity of lawful worship is corrupted are condemned. It now follows --
1 Verbally, meaning "my holy name." -- Calvin.
2 Calvin's language is here rather remarkable. He calls the clinging to the worship of God, while bowing down to idols, illud prodigiosum Interim, which is in the French translation ce beau monstre D'interim. The same idea is also expressed by the word commentum, translated ceste belle invention ainsi forgee.
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