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Jeremiah 51:15-16

15. He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding.

15. Qui fecit terram in virtute sua, qui statuit (alii vertunt, paravit) orbem in sapientia sua, et in sua intelligentia; extendit coelos;

16. When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens; and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth: he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.

16. Ad vocem dando copiam aquarum in coelis, qui attollit (et attollit, ad verbum) elevationes a fine (vel, extremitate) terrae; fulgura in pluviam facit, educit ventum de thesauris suis.

 

The Prophet commends here, as I have already said, in high terms, the power of God; but we must bear in mind his purpose, for abrupt sentences would be otherwise uninteresting. His object was to encourage the Jews to entertain hope; for they were not to judge of Babylon according to its splendor, which dazzled the eyes of all; nor were they to measure by their own notions what God had testified, he bids the faithful to raise all their thoughts above the world, and to behold with admiration the incomprehensible power of God, that they might not doubt but that Babylon would at length be trodden under foot; for had they fixed their eyes on that monarchy, they could have hardly believed the words of prophecy; for the Prophet spoke of things which could not be comprehended by the human mind.

We now then understand why the Prophet set forth the power of God, even that. the faithful might learn to think of something sublimer than the whole world, while contemplating the destruction of Babylon, for that would not be effected in a way usual or natural, but through the incredible power of God. The same words are also found in the tenth chapter; and the five verses we meet with here were there explained. But Jeremiah had then a different object in view, for he addressed the Jewish exiles, and bade them firmly to persevere in the worship of God: though religion was oppressed, and though the victorious Chaldeans proudly derided God, he yet bade them to stand firm in their religion, and then said,

“When ye come to Babylon, say, Cursed are all the gods who made not the heaven and the earth.” (Jeremiah 10:11)

And there, indeed, he used a foreign language, and taught them to speak in the Chaldee, that they might more plainly profess that they would persevere in the worship of the only true God. He afterwards added what he now repeats, even that the power of God was not diminished, though he had chastised for a time his own people. But now, as we have said, he speaks in sublime terms of the power of God, in order that the faithful might know that what the judgment of the flesh held as impossible, could easily be done by that God who can do all things.

He says first, He who made the earth He does not mention God’s name; but the expression is more emphatical, when he says, the Maker of the earth; as though he had said, “Who can be found to be the creator of the heaven and the earth except the only true God?” We hence see more force in the sentence than if God’s name had been expressed; for he thus excluded all the fictitious gods, who had been devised by the heathens; as though he had said, “The only true God is He who made the earth.” Then he says, by his power He speaks of God’s power in connection with the earth, as it is probable, on account of its stability.

He afterwards adds, Who hath constituted the world by his wisdom, and by his knowledge extended the heavens The wisdom of God is visible through the whole world, but especially in the heavens. The Prophet indeed speaks briefly, but he leads us to contemplate God’s wonderful work in its manifold variety, which appears above and below. For though it may seem a light matter, when he says, that the world was constituted by the wisdom of God, yet were any one to apply his mind to the meditation of God’s wisdom in the abundance of all fruits, in the wealth of the whole world, in the sea, (which is included in the world,) it could not, doubtless, be, but that he must be a thousand times filled with wonder and admiration: for the more carefully we attend to the consideration of God’s works, we ourselves in a manner vanish into nothing; the miracles which present themselves on every side, before our eyes, overwhelm us. As to the heavens, what do we see there? an innumerable multitude of stars so arranged, as though an army were so in order throughout, all its ranks; and then the wandering planets, not fixed, having each its own course, and yet appearing among the stars. Then the course of the sun, how much admiration ought it to produce in us! — I say, not in those only who understand the whole system of astronomy, but also in those who see it only with their own eyes; for when the sun, in its daily course, completes so great and so immense a distance, they who are not amazed at such a miracle must be more than stupid; and then the sun, as it is well known, has its own course, which is performed every year, and never passes in the least beyond its own boundaries; and the bulk of that body is immense (for, as it is well known, it far exceeds the earth,) and yet it rolls with great celerity and at the same time in such order as though it advanced by degrees quietly. Surely it is a wonderful specimen of God’s wisdom. The Prophet, then, though he speaks in an ordinary way, yet suppress the godly with materials of thought, so that they might apply their minds to the consideration of God’s works. Some explain the words, that God expands the heavens whenever they are covered with clouds; but this is wholly foreign to the meaning of the Prophet; for there is no doubt but that he points out in this verse the perpetual order of nature, as in the next verse he speaks of those changes which sometimes happen.

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