4. And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms.
4. Et filiorum ejus non miserabor, quia filii adulterini sunt.
5. For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.
5. Quia scortata est mater eorem, probriis foedata est quae concepit ipsos, (vel, genitrix ipsorum:) dixit enim, Ibo post amatores meos, datores panis mei (vel, qui dant panem meum) et aquas meas, lanam meam et linum meum, et oleum meum et potum meum.
The Lord now comes close to each individual, after having spoken in general of the whole people: and thus we see that to be true which I have said, that it was far from the mind of the Prophet to suppose, that God here teaches the faithful who had already repented, that they ought to condemn their own mother. The Prophet meant nothing of the kind; but, on the contrary, he wished to check the waywardness of the people, who ceased not to contend with God, as though he had been more severe than just towards their race. Now then he reproves each of them;
Having spoken of the mother's divorce, he now says that the children, born of adultery, were not his: and certainly what the Prophet promised before was not immediately fulfilled; for the people, we know, had been disowned, and when deprived of the land of Canaan, were rejected, as it were, by the Lord. The Babylonian exile was a kind of death: and then when they returned from exile, a small portion only returned, not the whole people; and they were tossed, we know, by many calamities until Christ our Redeemer appeared. Since then the Prophet included the whole of this time, it is no wonder that he says that the children were to be repudiated by the Lord, because they were born of adultery: for until they returned from captivity, and Christ was at length revealed, this repudiation, of which the Prophet speaks, ever continued.
He afterwards declares how the children became spurious;
This passage confirms what I have shortly before explained, -- that it is not enough that God should choose any people for himself, except the people themselves persevere in the obedience of faith; for this is the spiritual chastity which the Lord requires from all his people. But when is a wife, whom God has bound to himself by a sacred marriage, said to become wanton? When she falls away, as we shall more clearly see hereafter, from pure and sound faith. Then it follows that the marriage between God and men so long endures at they who have been adopted continue in pure faith, and apostasy in a manner frees God from us, so that he may justly repudiate us. Since such apostasy prevails under the Papacy, and has for many ages prevailed, how senseless they are in their boasting, while they would be thought to be the holy Catholic Church, and the elect people of God? For they are all born by wantonness, they are all spurious children. The incorruptible seed is the word of God; but what sort of doctrine have they? It is a spurious seed. Then as to God all the Papists are bastards. In vain then they boast themselves to be the children of God, and that they have the holy Mother Church, for they are born by filthy wantonness.
The Prophet pursues still the same subject: "She said,
But by introducing the word, "said", he amplifies the shamelessness of the people, who deliberately forsook their God, who was to them as a legitimate husband. It indeed happens sometimes that a man is thoughtlessly drawn aside by a mistake or folly, but he soon repents; for we see many of the unexperienced deceived for a short time: but the Prophet here shows that the Israelites premeditated their unfaithfulness, so that they wilfully departed from God. Hence she said; and we know that this said means so much; and it is to be referred, not to the outward word as pronounced, but to the inward purpose. She therefore said, that is, she made this resolution; as though he said, "Let no one make this frivolous excuse, that they were deceived, that they did it in their simplicity: ye are, he says, avowedly perfidious, ye have with a premeditated purpose sought this divorce." He, however, ascribes this to their mother: for defection began at the root, when they were drawn away by Jeroboam into corrupt superstitions; and the promotion of this evil became as it were hereditary. He therefore intended to condemn here the whole community. Hence, "she said, I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my waters". But I cannot finish today; I must therefore break off the sentence.
Grant, Almighty God, that as thou hast not only of late adopted us as thy children, but before we were born, and as thou hast been pleased to sign us, as soon as we came forth from our mother's womb, with the symbol of that holy redemption, which has been obtained for us by the blood of thy only begotten Son, though we have by our ingratitude renounced so great a benefit, -- O grant, that being mindful of our defection and unfaithfulness, of which eve are all guilty, and for which thou hast justly rejected us, we may now with true humility and obedience of faith embrace the grace of thy gospel now again offered to us, by which thou reconciles thyself to us; and grant that we may steadfastly persevere in pure faith, so as never to turn aside from the true obedience of faith, but to advance more and more in the knowledge of thy mercy, that having strong and deep roots, and being firmly grounded in the confidence of sure faith, we may never fall away from the true worship of thee, until thou at length receives us in to that eternal kingdom, which has been procured for us by the blood of thy only Son. Amen.
It remains for us to explain what the Prophet declares concerning the Israelites, that they boasted of their abundance of wine and oil, and all good things as having come to them through their superstitions. What, then, they ought to have ascribed to God alone, they absurdly transferred to their idols. Of this ingratitude the Prophet here accuses them in the person of God himself, and at the same time shows that the ungodly are so deluded by prosperity, that they harden themselves more and more in their superstitions; and this is not the case only at one time, but almost universally in the world. We see how full of pride the Papists are at this day, because they bear rule in the world, and possess riches and honours. They think their services acceptable to God, because he shows not himself openly opposed to and angry with them; and so it has been from the beginning.
But the Prophet here condemns this foolish presumption, that we may learn not to judge at all times of God's love by the prosperous issue of events. There are then two things to be observed here, -- that the superstitious falsely ascribe to their idols what comes from God alone; -- and further, that they conclude that they are loved by God, whenever he does not immediately take vengeance on them. The Sodomites, we find, became obstinate in their sins for the same reason; when all kinds of pleasures abounded, they thought themselves to be approved of God. Let us now proceed to what follows.