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a Bible passage
17. And thou say in, thy heart. He describes that kind of pride of which we have lately spoken, viz., when men attribute to their own industry, or labor, or foresight, what they ought to refer to the blessing of God. It has indeed been said, that our hearts are uplifted in other ways also; but this is the principal ground of pride, to assume and assign to ourselves what belongs to God. For nothing so greatly confines us within the boundaries of humility and modesty as the acknowledgment of God’s grace; for it is madness and temerity to raise our crests against Him on whom we depend, and to whom we owe ourselves and all we possess. Rightly, then, does Moses reprove the pride of the human heart which arises from forgetfulness of God, if they think that they have gained by their own exertions (marte suo) what God has given them of His own pleasure, in order to lay them under obligation to Himself. “To say in the heart,” is a Hebraism for thinking in one’s self, or reflecting in one’s self. He does not, therefore, only require the outward expression of the lips, whereby men profess that they are grateful to God’s bounty, (for in this there is often nothing more than hypocrisy and vanity;) but he would have them seriously persuaded that whatever they possess is derived from His sheer beneficence. He has already said, that although when they entered the land they would be fed with bread and other foods, still the manna wherewith God had supported them in the wilderness would be a perpetual proof that man is not sustained by bread only, but by the secret virtue of God, which inspires the principle of life. Another lesson is now added, viz., that because God formerly fed and clothed them gratuitously, and without any act of their own, they thence are taught that, even whilst they strenuously labor and strive, whatever they acquire is not so much the reward of their own industry as the fruit of God’s blessing. For he not only affirms that at their first entrance into the land they were enriched, because God dealt with them liberally, but He extends this to the whole course of human life, that men obtain nothing by their own vigilance and diligence, except in so far as God blesses them from above. And this he more fully explains immediately afterwards, where he commands them to remember therefore that “it is God who giveth them power,” etc. For although God would not have us slumber in inactivity, yet what Paul says of the preaching of the Gospel,266266 A parenthesis is here added in the Fr., (“selon qu’il est prins de la similitude des laboureurs;”) as it. is taken from the similitude of laborers. holds good also in the most trifling matters, viz., that “neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth,” but all things are in the power of God, by whose only influence it is that the earth brings forth fruit. (1 Corinthians 3:7.) We must then recollect that although God reproves man’s slothfulness, and punishes it with want and hunger, still they who are active in labor do not get wealth by their own diligence, but by the blessing of God alone. On this doctrine the prayer which Christ dictated to us is founded, in which we ask to have our daily bread given us. But although this relates alike to all mankind, yet Moses appropriates it especially to God’s chosen people, in whom God’s blessing shines forth most brightly, and at the same time admonishes them that the fact of His supplying them with food depends on the covenant whereby He adopted the race of Abraham to Himself.