8. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.
8. Qui observant vanitates mendaces, misericordiam suam (vel, clementiam) derelinquent (hoc est, derelinquunt.)
9. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.
9. Ego autem in voce laudis sacrificabo tibi, quae vovi reddam: salus est Jehovae.
Here Jonah says first, that men miserably go astray, when they turn aside to vain superstitions, for they rob themselves of the chief good: for he calls whatever help or aid that is necessary for salvation, the mercy of men. The sense then is that as soon as men depart from God, they depart from life and salvation, and that nothing is retained by them, for they willfully cast aside whatever good that can be hoped and desired. Some elicit a contrary meaning, that the superstitious, when they return to a sound mind, relinquish their own reproach; for
I doubt not, therefore, but that Jonah here sets his own religion in opposition to his false intentions of men; for it immediately follows,
But this passage deserves a careful notice; for we hence learn what value to attach to all superstitions, to all those opinions of men, when they attempt to set up religion according to their own will: for Jonah calls them lying or fallacious vanities. There is then but one true religion, the religion which God has taught us in his word. We must also notice, that men in vain weary themselves when they follow their own inventions; for the more strenuously they run, the farther they recede from the right way, as Augustine has well observed. But Jonah here adopts a higher principle, -- that God alone possesses in himself all fullness of blessings: whosoever then truly and sincerely seeks God, will find in him whatever can be wished for salvation. But God is not to be sought but by obedience and faith: whosoever then dare to give themselves loose reins, so as to follow this or that without the warrant of God's word, recede from God, and, at the same time, deprive themselves of all good things. The superstitious do indeed think that they gain much when they toil in their own inventions; but we see what the Holy Spirit declares by the mouth of Jonah. The Lord says the same by Jeremiah
"They have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and cisterns have they digged for themselves," (Jeremiah 2:13.)
There the Lord complains of his chosen people, who had gone astray after wicked superstitions. Hence, when men wander beyond the word of God, they in a manner renounce God, or say adieu to him; and thus they deprive themselves of all good things; for without God there is no salvation and no help to be found.
Jonah therefore rightly adds,
It must be noticed here farther, that the worship of God especially consists in praises, as it is said in Psalm 1:1: for there God shows that he regards as nothing all sacrifices, except they answer this end -- to set forth the praise of his name. It was indeed his will that sacrifices should be offered to him under the law; but it was for the end just stated: for God cares not for calves and oxen, for goats and lambs; but his will was that he should be acknowledged as the Giver of all blessings. Hence he says there, 'Sacrifice to me the sacrifice of praise.' So also Jonah now says, I will offer to thee the sacrifice of praise, and he might have said with still more simplicity, "Lord, I ascribe to thee my preserved life." But if this was the case under the shadows of the law, how much more ought we to attend to this, that is, -- to strive to worship God, not in a gross manner, but spiritually, and to testify that our life proceeds from him, that it is in his hand, that we owe all things to him, and, in a word, that he is the Source and Author of salvation, and not only of salvation, but also of wisdom, of righteousness, of power?
And he afterwards mentions his vows, I will pay, he says, my vows. We have stated elsewhere in what light we are to consider vows. The holy Fathers did not vow to God, as the Papists of this day are wont to do, who seek to pacify God by their frivolous practices; one abstains for a certain time from meat, another puts on sackcloth, another undertakes a pilgrimage, and another obtrudes on God some new ceremony. There was nothing of this kind in the vows of the holy Fathers; but a vow was the mere act of thanksgiving, or a testimony of gratitude: and so Jonah joins his vows here with the sacrifice of praise. We hence learn that they were not two different things; but he repeats the same thing twice. Jonah, then, had declared his vow to God for no other purpose but to testify his gratitude.
And hence he adds, To Jehovah is, or belongs, salvation; that is, to save is the prerogative of God alone; Jehovah is here in the dative case, for prefixed to it is
"Qui vana idola colunt,
Felicitatis suae auctorem deserunt --
They who worship vain idols,
Desert the author of their own happiness."
More literally --
"They who attend on the idols of vanity,
Their own goodness forsake."
There is a contrast between vain idols and their own goodness, that is, the goodness received by them from God. Grotius gives this paraphrase, "They who worship idols are vain; for they forsake their own mercy, that is, God, who is able to help them in their distress." Henry suggests another view, "They who follow their own inventions, as Jonah had done, when he fled from the presence of the lord to go to Tarshish, forsake their own mercy, that mercy which they may find in God." -- Ed.
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