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God’s Fidelity Assured
When all these things have happened to you, the blessings and the curses that I have set before you, if you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you,
1. And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come. He again confirms what we have elsewhere seen, that God never so severely afflicts His Church as not to be ready to return to mercy; nay, that by their punishments, however cruel in appearance, the afflicted, who were destroying themselves as if their hearts were bent upon it, are invited to repentance, so as to obtain pardon. Although, therefore, cause for despair is everywhere besetting them from the burning wrath of God, still he bids them take heart and be of good hope. Still, we must bear in mind what I have already shewn from the words of Moses, that reconciliation is not offered to all indiscriminately, but that this blessing exists by peculiar privilege in the Church alone; and this we gather also from the special promise, 278278 2 Samuel 12:14, 15; Psalm 89:32, 33. I will visit their iniquities with the rod; nevertheless I will not take away my loving-kindness from them. Now, however, it must also be added, that this is not common to all who profess to be members of the Church, but only belongs 279279 “Residuum semen.” — Lat. “La semence, que Dieu se reserve;” the seed which God reserves to Himself. — Fr. to the residue of the seed, and those whom Paul calls the remnant of grace, (Romans 11:5;) for it is no more profitable for the hypocrites, though they are mixed with believers, to be smitten with the scourges of God unto salvation, than it is for strangers. Wherefore this promise is only addressed to a certain number, because it was always necessary that some people should remain as a residue, in order that God’s covenant should stand firm and sure.
Still, Moses does not only enjoin the Israelites to profit by the corrections of God, but also to reflect upon His blessings whereby they might be led to serve Him with pleasure. For this comparison was of no slight avail in illustration of the judgments of God. 280280 “A donner lustre a la gloire de Dieu;” to give lustre to the glory of God. — Fr. If the punishments alone had occupied their minds, their knowledge would have been but partial or more obscure; whereas, when on the one hand they considered that they had not served God in vain, and on the ether, that in forsaking Him they had fallen from the height of felicity into the deepest misery, it was easy for them to infer that whatever misfortunes they suffered were the fruit and reward of their ungodliness. Nor is it to be doubted but that, under the Law, God so adapted Himself to a tender and ignorant people, that the course of his blessings and curses was perfectly manifest; so that it was plainly shewn that they neither threw away their labor in keeping the Law, nor violated it with impunity. Often does He declare by the Prophets, that, as long as His children were obedient, He on His part would be their Father; that thence it might be more clearly perceived that the deterioration of their circumstances arose from His just indignation. Under this pretext, indeed, the wicked formerly endeavored to defend their superstitions; as, for instance, when in order to refute Jeremiah, they proudly boasted that it was well with them when they “burnt incense unto the frame of heaven;” 281281 See margin, A.V., Jeremiah 44:17. but such wanton depravity is admirably reproved by the Prophet, who shews that God had most manifestly avenged such pollutions by the destruction of their city and the fall of the Temple. (Jeremiah 44:17, 22.) The distinction, therefore, of which Moses now speaks, could not escape them, unless they willfully shut out the light. Moreover, because it rarely happens that men are wise in prosperity, he advises the Israelites to return to their senses, at any rate when sorely afflicted; for He addresses the exiles, who, disinherited by God, had no hope left; and promises them, that if, when banished to distant lands, they at length repented, God would be propitiated towards them. For “to 282282 “Call them to mind.” — A.V. “And thou shalt cause them to return to thine heart, or reduce, bring again to thine heart, i.e., call to mind, consider seriously; so in Deuteronomy 4:39.” — Ainsworth. bring back to their heart” is equivalent to considering what before had been despised through contempt, or neglect, or stupidity, and buried as it were in voluntary oblivion. Still, lest they should presume on God’s kindness, and only seek for pardon in a perfunctory manner, serious conversion is required, the results of which should appear in their life, since newness of life accompanies (genuine 283283 Added from Fr. ) repentance. Nor does Moses speak only of the outward correction of the life, but demands sincere desires to obey, for we have elsewhere seen 284284 See ante on Deuteronomy 4:29, p. 271. that “all the heart” means with integrity of heart.