55. When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then you and thy daughters shall return to your former estate.
A clearer explanation of the former doctrine now follows, that the Jews, should thus feel God merciful when his mercy reached Samaria and Sodom; but that never could be done, and hence the Jews were reduced to despair; for, as I have said, the Prophet argues from what is impossible and almost absurd. Just as Virgil writes --
"The inhabitants of seas and skies shall change,
And fish on shore, and stags in air shall range:"
Virgil, Dryden's, Eclogue 1. V. 60 --
which can never take place: so that it implies the complete denial of what might seem doubtful. This way of speaking is proverbial, when Ezekiel says that the Sodomites and Israelites should return to their ancient state or their former dignity; and that could never be hoped for, as I have said: hence it follows, that the Jews could not be safe when God draws them into the same punishment. Besides, the Prophet speaks as if the city should be cut off and temple overthrown, since the Jews had often been threatened with this, and he had shown them the wrath of God present before their eyes. But, although they had always hoped well, yet he despises their pride by which they were blinded, and utters his prophecies openly as if God had executed whatever he had threatened. For this reason he says, the captivity of thy captivities shall be in the midst of them. But they might object, that they enjoyed their country, that they still cultivated their fields, and had sufficient food for their support although besieged by their enemies. But the Prophet looked down upon it all, because before God the city was as it were taken and all were exiles, since God had not threatened them in vain. Weakness here compels me to break off.
Grant, Almighty God, since in your inestimable mercy you have deigned to separate us from the profane nations, and to adopt us into thy family, that we may so conduct ourselves that you may not treat us as strangers: but while you acknowledge us as thy sons, may thy Spirit govern us until the end, so that thy name may be glorified in us, and at length we may be made partakers of that glory which has been acquired for us through Jesus Christ our Lord. -- Amen.
1 "To their ancient state." -- Calvin.
2 That is, "to their former state." -- Calvin.
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