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27But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, “Thus says the Lord God”; let those who will hear, hear; and let those who refuse to hear, refuse; for they are a rebellious house.
After a silence, God shows by what commands he wishes to instruct his servant, namely, by such as would exasperate the people, as we have formerly seen. His embassy therefore was hateful, since the Prophet begins with this insult — “If ye wish to hear, hear; but if not, I am not concerned.” Those who are sent as ambassadors are usually ordered to try whether they can conciliate, by courteous and friendly discourse, those with whom they have to deal. But God here follows a method completely the contrary. For what is the meaning of these words, He who hears, let him hear: he who desists, let him, desist? namely, that the Israelites may understand that the Prophet was sent to them, not because there was any hope of their becoming wise again, since they had borne witness by experiments sufficiently numerous that they were altogether desperate: but the Lord sends the Prophet, that he may strike and wound them further, and at length inflict a deadly blow. Now, therefore, we see that confirmed which the Prophet previously brought forward, that the office of teaching was enjoined upon him, not because his labor would be useful and fruitful with reference to the common people, but that he might inflame the Israelites to madness, if they were unwilling to grow wise again, that he might break them if they would not bend, and if they rejected him, that he should accuse them before God, who would be their judge, and in the meanwhile the course of Prophetic teaching would be free, however pertinaciously they might resist it. Now we understand the intention of the Prophet. Hence also we collect what I have lately touched upon: that God deals with the reprobate in various ways. Sometimes he makes it doubtful whether they be curable, and destines Prophets for them, who should exhort them to repentance. But when he sees them in their ingratitude burying all the light, then he deprives them of all doctrine; afterwards it shines forth again: at length other and denser darkness succeeds: therefore let us hasten, as long as the doctrine of salvation shines upon us, lest God darken all our minds and senses, and deprive us of that singular benefit, when the image of his paternal favor is engraven on us, as we have said. Let us go on —