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30. Prosperity After Turning to the Lord

1And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither Jehovah thy God hath driven thee, 2and shalt return unto Jehovah thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul; 3that then Jehovah thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the peoples, whither Jehovah thy God hath scattered thee. 4If any of thine outcasts be in the uttermost parts of heaven, from thence will Jehovah thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: 5and Jehovah thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. 6And Jehovah thy God will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love Jehovah thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. 7And Jehovah thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, that persecuted thee. 8And thou shalt return and obey the voice of Jehovah, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day. 9And Jehovah thy God will make thee plenteous in all the work of thy hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, for good: for Jehovah will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers; 10if thou shalt obey the voice of Jehovah thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law; if thou turn unto Jehovah thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul.

11For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not too hard for thee, neither is it far off. 12It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, and make us to hear it, that we may do it? 13Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, and make us to hear it, that we may do it? 14But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.

15See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; 16in that I command thee this day to love Jehovah thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, that thou mayest live and multiply, and that Jehovah thy God may bless thee in the land whither thou goest in to possess it. 17But if thy heart turn away, and thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; 18I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish; ye shall not prolong your days in the land, whither thou passest over the Jordan to go in to possess it. 19I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed; 20to love Jehovah thy God, to obey his voice, and to cleave unto him; for he is thy life, and the length of thy days; that thou mayest dwell in the land which Jehovah sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

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6. And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart. This promise far surpasses all the others, and properly refers to the new Covenant, for thus it is interpreted by Jeremiah, who introduces God thus speaking, —

“Behold, the days come that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and the house of Judah, not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, which covenant they brake, but I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts.” (Jeremiah 31:31-33.)

Moses now declares the same thing in different words, that, lest the Israelites, according to their wonted instability, should fall back from time to time into new rebellions, a divine remedy was needed, i.e., that God should renew and mould their hearts. In short, he reminds them that this would be the chief advantage of their reconciliation, that God should endow them with the Spirit of regeneration. There is a metaphor in this word circumcise; for Moses alludes to the legal sign of consecration, whereby they were initiated into the service of God. The expression, therefore, is equivalent to his saying, God will create you spiritually to be new men, so that, cleansed from the filth of the flesh and the world, and separated from the unclean nations, you should serve Him in purity. Meanwhile, he shews that, whatever God offers us in the Sacraments, depends on the secret operation of His Spirit. Circumcision was then the Sacrament of repentance and renewal, as Baptism is now to us; but “the letter,” as Paul calls it, (Romans 2:27,) was useless in itself, as also now many are baptized to no profit. So far, then, is God from resigning the grace of His Spirit to the Sacraments, that all their efficacy and utility is lodged in the Spirit alone.

Although Moses seems to make a division of the matter between men and God, so as to ascribe to them the beginning of repentance, and to make Him the author of perseverance (only, 285285     Added from Fr. ) nevertheless this difficulty is easily solved; for according to the ordinary manner of Scripture, when he exhorts them to repentance, he is not teaching them that it is a gift of the Spirit, but simply reminding them of their duty. Meanwhile, the defenders of free-will foolishly conclude, that more is not required of men than they are able to perform; for in other places they are taught to ask of God whatever He enjoins. Thus, in this passage, Moses treats of the means of propitiating God, viz., by returning into the right way with an unfeigned heart; but, after he has testified that God will be gracious to them, he adds, that there is need of a better remedy, so that, being once restored by Him, they may be perpetual recipients of His grace. Still, it is not his intention to restrict the circumcision of the heart to the subsequent course of their lives, as if it depended on their own will and choice to circumcise themselves before God should work in them. And surely it is not at all more easy to rise when you have fallen, than to stand upright after God has set you up. I confess that perseverance is an excellent grace; but how shall the sinner, who is enthralled to Satan, free himself from those chains, unless God shall deliver him? Therefore, what Moses lays down as to the gift, of perseverance, applies no less to the commencement of conversion; but he only wishes to teach us that, although God should pardon our sins, that blessing would be but transient, unless He should keep us in subjection to His Law. And, in fact, He regenerates by His Spirit unto righteousness all those whose sins He pardons.




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