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Lecture Seventh.

After God has admonished his servant as to the difficulty of his mission, he now strengthens him and exhorts him to unconquered freedom. Thou shalt say, says he, Thus saith the Lord, as if he should say, this alone is sufficient for overcoming all obstacles, that he has to take in hand God’s business. For even here God does not give fixed commands, that he will do afterwards in its place, but the observation is general. Thus saith Jehovah: that is, I bring forward nothing of myself, but faithfully relate what God has commanded. We see then the Almighty’s object here: viz., to oppose his name to the obstinacy of the people, and he orders the Prophet when instructed by his authority to be of a brave and intrepid disposition, although he has stern and hard-hearted enemies. Afterwards he adds, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear, yet they shall acknowledge that a prophet has been among them

Here, again, God exhorts his servant to persevere whatever be the event of his labor, for if we do not succeed according to the desire of our minds, we are inclined to despair: but God wishes us to proceed in the course of our duty, though all things should turn out contrary to our wishes. But he shows that there shall be some fruit of our labor, although the people, through their own depravity, reject what has been said to them: for this thought breaks the spirits of God’s servants, when they do not perceive the usefulness of their labor: for we always desire to accomplish something worth the trouble which we give to it. God therefore here signifies that he has some other object in view than the salvation of men; namely, the removal of all pretext for error, and the stripping off of every disguise of impiety in which men willingly clothe themselves. For even hypocrites, though they perish knowingly and willfully, yet think themselves excusable, unless God afford them the light of his doctrine. The meaning therefore is, although the Prophet’s teaching would not profit the Israelites, yet it would be useful in another way, namely, that they may perceive that there has been a prophet among them In this way there is no defect, although some think the words of the Prophet abrupt: for an important word seems to be wanting when he says, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, because they are a rebellious house, and they shall know, etc. For we have said that the copula ought to be resolved into the adversative particle, because even then they shall know: for their perverseness shall not prevent their being convinced by God. We may learn then from this place, that although the impious furiously endeavor to reject the doctrine of God, yet they obtain no other end than the more complete manifestation of their own wickedness. Hence, also, we may learn that God’s doctrine is precious to himself, and that he cannot bear us to despise it. The wicked then never can escape punishment when they treat with contempt the divine teaching, for it is as if they trampled upon inestimable treasure, Those who are left without the law and the prophets shall not escape God’s hand, because their conscience is sufficient to take away all excuse. (Romans 2:12.) But when God invites men to himself, and approaches near them, and offers himself to them in a peculiar manner as their Father and Teacher, if they reject so remarkable a benefit, truly their ingratitude is worthy of the utmost severity. For as often as God raises up prophets for us and faithful ministers of his doctrine, let this which has just been said come into our minds: unless we embrace such a benefit, we at length shall know that a prophet has been among us, because God will exact fearful vengeance for the contempt of his great loving-kindness. Now it follows —

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