13. I will come into thy house with burnt-offerings; I will pay thee my vows, 14. Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble. 15. I will offer unto thee burnt-sacrifices of fatlings, with the incense of rams;1 I will bring bullocks, with goats. Selah. 16. Come, hear, I will tell to all them that fear God, what he hath done for my soul.
"Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry?
let him sing psalms." (James 5:13)
How many are there who lavish their hypocritical praises upon God in the career of their good fortune, while they are no sooner reduced to straits than the fervor of their love is damped, or gives place to the violence of fretfulness and impatience. The best evidence of true piety is when we sigh to God under the pressure of our afflictions, and show, by our prayers, a holy perseverance in faith and patience; while afterwards we come forward with the expression of our gratitude. The words, which my lips have uttered, are not an unmeaning addition, but imply that he had never allowed himself to be so far overcome by grief as not to throw his desires into the express form of petition, declaring that he cast himself for safety into the hands of God. On the subject of vows, I may just shortly repeat the remarks which have been given at greater length elsewhere. First, the holy fathers never vowed anything to God but what they knew to be sanctioned by his approval. Secondly, their sole end in vowing was to evidence their gratitude. The Papists, therefore, can find no warrant, from their example, for the rash and impious vows which they practice. They obtrude upon God whatever chances to come first into their lips; the end which they propose to themselves is the farthest removed from the right one; and with devilish presumption they engage themselves to things which are not allowed them.
1 Here Calvin, as well as our English Bible, joins incense with rams, appearing to mean by incense, offering by fire, the smoke produced by the sacrifice. But the burning of incense was a distinct offering from that of animal sacrifices; and therefore many critics read the verse so as to make incense a distinct offering. Thus Horsley, altering the punctuation, translates,
"Offerings of fatlings I will offer unto thee, with incense;
"I will sacrifice rams, bullocks, and full-grown goats."
This, we think, gives an improved view of the passage. It may be here observed, that the Hebrews were not allowed to sacrifice other animals than these three kinds, rams, bullocks, and goats.
2 "Le Prophere loue yci le perfum de son holocauste, combien qu'il n'en peust monter au ciel qu' une odeur puante et infecte: mais il faut noter que les beliers et autres bestes qu'on sacrifioit flairoyent bon devant Dieu, entant que c'estoyent figures de Iesus Christ." -- Fr.