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Jeremiah 43:1-3

1. And it came to pass, that when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking unto all the people all the words of the LORD their God, for which the LORD their God had sent him to them, even all these words.

1. Et factum est quum finiisset Jeremias loqui ad totum populum cunctos sermones Jehovae Dei ipsorum, pro quibus miserat ipsum Jehova Deus ipsorum ad ipsos omnes (inquam) hos sermones;

2. Then spake Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud men, saying unto Jeremiah, Thou speakest falsely: the LORD our God hath not sent thee to say, Go not into Egypt to sojourn there:

2. Tune dixit Azarias filius Ozaiae, et Joannes filius Kareae, et omnes duces, et omnes viri superbi, dicentes Jeremiae, Mendacium tu loqueris, non misit to Jehova Deus noster ad dicendum, Ne eatis in Aegyptum ad peregrinandum illic:

3. But Baruch the son of Neriah setteth thee on against us, for to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they might put us to death, and carry us away captives into Babylon.

3. Sed Baruch filius Neriae incitat to contra nos, ut tradat nos in manum Chaldaeorum ad interficiendum nos et transferendum nos Babylonem.

 

Here the Prophet proceeds with the remaining part of the narrative. He says that the whole people obstinately persevered in their wicked design, so that he effected nothing by his warning and protest. Now this stupidity of the people was monstrous; for they had found out by experience the fidelity of the Prophet for many years; and further, they had gone to him because they believed that he was a faithful and an approved servant of God. He had not merely answered them in God’s name, but as he knew their hardness, he added protestations which might have moved even stones. But he addressed the deaf; and it hence appears that they were wholly fascinated by the devil. And thus let us learn not to mock God, nor bring a double heart when we inquire as to his will, but to suffer ourselves to be ruled by his word.

Now he says, that when he had finished speaking to the whole people, as God had commanded, then John the son of Kareah, and Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, being the first among them, spoke against him. As to Azariah, we cannot know with any certainty what he was. But we have here in John the son of Kareah an example deserving of notice. We have seen that he was a bold, wise, and prudent man, and also of an upright mind. In short, when we consider what the Prophet has before said of him, we cannot but think he was by nature a heroic man; nay, when he is compared with Gedaliah, who, at the same time, was an excellent man, and whom the Prophet has adorned with high commendations, he yet far excelled him. Gedaliah, indeed, had a kind disposition, he was courageous in protecting the people, he was a man of integrity; and, besides, he was a father to the people, and so conducted himself when things were in a hopeless state, that, beyond the expectation of all, he gathered together the remnant of the people; and we have also seen that by his efforts the Prophet had been delivered from instant death. But John the son of Kareah had been a remarkable helper to him, having come to him of his own accord, and offered to him his assistance; and further, he faithfully and prudently warned him to beware of the perfidy of that unprincipled man, by whom he was afterwards killed. Gedaliah fell through extreme credulity. John, then, the son of Kareah, had a greater appearance of excellency than Gedaliah had exhibited. But what does the Spirit of God now declare respecting him and his associates? They are said to have been proud and obstinate. We hence see that some men excel in greatness of mind, and are yet of a refractory disposition; and this is for the most part the case during’ a disturbed state of things. For some come forth wonderfully courageous; but when things do not fall in with their wishes, they become ferocious and rebel against God and men, and besides, they will never bear to be brought under submission. Such, then, was John the son of Kareah: at one time he manifested extraordinary virtue, but at length it appeared what he really was.

The Prophet, with the authority of a judge, declares that he and his associates were proud: then Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and John the son of Kareah, and all the proud men, said, A falsehood dost thou speak. This was extremely insolent and reproachful; for they had lately testified that they regarded Jeremiah as God’s faithful servant, and that they would receive whatever he might bring as God’s true oracle; but now they charge him with falsehood! how great was this presumption! But it hence appears how deep and various, and how tortuous are the recesses which are in the hearts of men; for at one time they announce honied words, and afterwards they utter nothing’ but virulence. So from the same mouth, as it were, almost in the same moment, comes forth what is sweet; and what is bitter.

Let us hence learn that the heart of man is full of every kind of deceit, until it be cleansed by the Spirit of God. We also see, when once impiety boils up, to what extremes it will proceed; for these men were not only insolent and reproachful towards Jeremiah, but also towards God himself. And they did not now make evasions as before, nor did they raise objections; but they openly raved against the Prophet. Thus hypocrisy has indeed for a time its coverings, but when the ungodly are urged by God, then they observe no bounds: Thou speakest what is false

They afterwards throw the blame on Baruch, who had been the Prophet’s faithful servant. As they could not find out any reason why Jeremiah should speak falsely, they turned their fury against Baruch. They did not then spare Jeremiah for honor’s sake, but as they had no reason whatever to speak evil of him, they fixed the blame on Baruch, who yet was as innocent as Jeremiah. Baruch, they said, excites thee against us Had Jeremiah so prophesied through the influence of another, yet his crime might have been at least extenuated. Now they said that he was mendacious, and brought forth nothing but impositions; but the ungodly do not regard what they say, for the devil drives them on headlong. And they charged Baruch with a very great crime, that he wished to betray them to the Chaldeans, and then to expose them to slaughter, and to deliver them that they might be driven into exile. All this would have been the greatest cruelty.: But then if we consider what sort of man Baruch had been, and how innocently he had conducted himself, how he had endangered his life in defending the true worship of God and prophetic doctrine, there was surely no reason for loading him with so great a reproach.

But we see that God’s servants have been always exposed to extreme reproaches, even when they have exhibited the greatest integrity. If then, at this day, we hear of evil reports, after having labored to act uprightly, it ought not to appear to us a hard or a new thing to bear them with patience. We must, indeed, do what we can to stop the mouths of the malevolent and the wicked; nor ought we to give occasion, as Paul admonishes us, to the malignant. But when we have done our duty faithfully, if yet dogs bark at us, if we be loaded with many reproaches and crimes, let us learn patiently to endure them. This, then, ought to be done by us, since we see that Baruch was accused of extreme perfidy and cruelty.

What now had Baruch to do with the Chaldeans? Had he fled to them? Was he anxious to gain influence for himself? or to procure favor for himself? There was no such thing; he always followed Jeremiah wherever he went. Jeremiah had indeed obtained some favor; but this was to be attributed to the gratuitous kindness of God. Baruch, then, had got leave from the Chaldeans to remain with the Prophet; for the condition of both was the same. But yet he had not followed the Chaldeans, when his option was given to him. For when the Chaldeans offered quietness and rest to Jeremiah, Baruch might have also gone to that fertile country; but he chose to remain in the land. We hence see that he had removed from himself every suspicion, and yet he could not stop the mouths of the malevolent, but they slandered and. calumniated him. Let us then know that God’s servants prove their firmness and constancy, when they are assailed on every side by the calumnies of men, and yet are satisfied with the testimony of their own conscience, and go on in their course, and look forward to the judgment of God, and care not what men think or speak, provided God approves of them, and is their judge in heaven.

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