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Lamentations 3:32

32. But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.

32. Quia si dolore affecerit, etiam miserebitur secundum multitudinem clementiarum suarum.

 

We saw in the last Lecture that the best and the only true remedy for sorrows is, when the faithful are convinced that they are chastised only by the paternal hand of God, and that, the end of all their evils will be blessed. Now this they cannot of themselves assume; but God comes to their aid, and declares that he will not be angry for ever with his children. For this promise extends generally to the whole Church,

“For a moment I afflicted thee, in the time of mine indignation, but with perpetual mercies will I follow thee,” (Isaiah 54:7, 8)

and again,

“I will visit their iniquities with a rod, yet my mercy I will not take away from them”
(Psalm 89 33, 84.)

When therefore the faithful feel assured that their punishment is only for a time, then they lay hold on hope, and thus receive invaluable comfort in all their evils.

Jeremiah now pursues the same subject, even that God will shew compassion according to the multitude of his mercies, though he causes sorrow to men. This may indeed be generally explained as to all mankind; but, as we have said, God has promised this to his own Church. All miseries, regarded in themselves, are tokens of the wrath and curse of God; but as all things turn out for good and for salvation to the children of God, when they embrace this truth, that God, as the Prophet Habakkuk says, remembers mercy in wrath, (Habakkuk 3:2,) so they restrain themselves and do not despond, nor are they overwhelmed with despair. We now then understand the Prophet’s object in saying, that though God afflicts he yet remembers mercy.

But we must at the same time bear in mind what I have before shewed, that the faithful are exposed to various evils, because it is profitable for them to be chastised by God’s hand. Hence appears the necessity of this doctrine, for were we exempt frown all adversities, this admonition would be superfluous. But as it cannot be but that God will smite us with his rods, not only because we deserve to be smitten, but also because it is expedient, it is necessary to flee to this consolation which is offered to us, even that God having afflicted us with grief will again shew us compassion, even according to the multitude of his mercies He confirms the truth of what he alleges by a reference to the very nature of God himself. Hence, that the faithful might not debate with themselves whether God would be propitious to them, after having inflicted on them a temporary punishment, the Prophet comes to their aid, and sets before them the mercy of God, or rather mercies, in the plural number; as though he had said, that it could not be that God should deny himself, and that therefore he would be always merciful to his people; for otherwise his mercy would be obliterated, yea, that mercy which is inseparable from his eternal essence and divinity.

And hence, when God is pleased briefly to shew what he is, he sets forth his mercy and patience; for except his goodness and mercy meet us, when we come to him, dread would immediately absorb all our thoughts; but when God comes forth as if clothed and adorned with mercy, we may then entertain hope of salvation; and though conscious of evil, yet while we recumb on God’s mercy, we shall never lose the hope of salvation. We not: apprehend the Prophet’s meaning. It follows, —

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