Lecture Twenty-Ninth

Jeremiah 7:20

20. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched.

20. Propterea sic dicit Dominus Jehova, Ecce ira mea et furor meus (vel, excandescentia, nam verbum hoc significat) conflata est super locum hunc, super hominem et super animal (brutum; alii vertunt, jumentum, bestiam,) super arborem agri, et super fructum terrae; et ardebit, et nullus extinguet.


Jeremiah proceeds still with the same subject, and explains more at large what we have noticed in the preceding lecture, that the ruin of Mount Sion and of the Temple was nigh at hand, according to what God had before done to Shiloh, where the Ark had long been kept. But that his threatening might have more weight, he introduced God as the speaker, --

Behold, he says, my wrath, even mine indignation, has been poured down on this place. He refers to the metaphor he had before used; and hence is confirmed what I then said, -- that God spoke not of prophetic teaching, but of the punishments which he had already inflicted and was prepared to inflict. On this account he says, that his wrath, or vengeance (the cause is put for the effect) had been poured down on the city Jerusalem, so as to bring destruction on the cattle as well as men, and also on the fruit of the land. It is indeed certain that brute animals, as well as trees and the productions of the earth, were innocent; but as the whole world was created for man and for his benefit, it is nothing strange that God's vengeance should extend to innocent animals and to things not endued with reason: for God does not inflict punishment on brute animals and on the fruits of the earth, except for the purpose of shewing, by extending the symptoms of his wrath to all the elements, how much displeased he is with men. The whole world, we know, bears at this day in some measure the punishment which Adam deserved: and hence Paul says, that all the elements labor in pain, aspiring after a deliverance; and he says also, that all creatures have been subjected to corruption, though not willingly, that is, not through their own fault, but through the sin and transgression of man. (Romans 8:20-22.) It is no wonder, then, that God, wishing to terrify men, should daily set before their eyes the various forms of his vengeance as manifested towards animals, as well as trees and the fruits of the earth.

The meaning then is, -- that God was so angry, that he purposed to destroy, not only the Jews, but the land itself, in order that posterity might know how grievously they had sinned, against whom God's just vengeance had thus kindled. There is therefore no need for us curiously to inquire why God shewed his displeasure towards trees and brute animals: for it is enough for us to know that God does not in a strict sense punish brute animals and trees, but that this is done on account of man, that such a sad spectacle may fill them with fear. He afterwards adds --