Hosea 2:4-5

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; your children, he says, I will not pity; for they are spurious children. He had indeed said before that they had been born by adultery; but he afterwards received them into favour. This is true; but what I have said must be remembered that the Prophet as yet continues in his reproofs; for though he has mingled some consolation, he yet saw that their hearts were not as yet contrite and sufficiently humbled. We must bear in mind the difference between their present state and their future favour. God before promised that he would be propitious to apostates who had departed from him: but now he shows that it was not yet the ripe time, for they had not ceased to sin. Hence he says, I will not pity your children.

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. Thy children, he says, I will not pity. At first sight it seems very dreadful, that God takes away the hope of mercy; but we ought to confine this sentence to that time during which it pleased God to cast away his people. As long, then, as that temporary casting away lasted, God's favour was hid; and to this the Prophet now refers, I will not then pity her children, for they are born by adultery. At the same time, we must remember that this sentence specifically belonged to the reprobate, who boasted of being the children of Abraham, while they were profane and unholy, while they impiously perverted the whole worship of God, while they were wholly ungovernable. Then the Prophet justly pronounces such a severe judgement on obstinate men, who could be reformed by no admonitions.

He afterwards declares how the children became spurious; their mother, who conceived or bare them, has been wanton; with shameful acts has she defiled herself. swb bush, means, to be ashamed; but here the Prophet means not that the Israelites were touched with shame, for such a meaning would be inconsistent with the former sentence; but that they were like a shameless and infamous woman, touched with no shame for her baseness. Their mother, then, had been wanton, and she who bare them had become scandalous. Here the Prophet strips the Israelites of their foolish confidence, who were wont to profess the name of God, while they were entirely alienated from him: for they had fallen away by their impiety from pure worship, they had rejected the law, yea, and every yoke. Since then they were wild beasts, it was extreme stupidity ever to set up for their shield the name of God, and ever to boast of the adoption of their father Abraham. But as the Jews were so perversely proud, the Prophet here answers them, "Your mother has been wanton, and with shameful acts has she defiled herself; I will not therefore count nor own you as my children, for ye were born by adultery."

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, I will go after my lovers, the givers of my bread, of my waters, of my wool, and of my flax, and of my oil, and of my drink. The Prophet here defines the whoredom of which he had spoken: this part is explanatory; the Prophet unfolds in several words what he had briefly touched when he said, your mother has been wanton. Now, if the Jews object and say, How has she become wanton? Because, "she said, I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my waters, etc. The Prophet here compares false gods to lovers, who seduce women from their conjugal fidelity; for he pursues the similitude which he had introduced. The Church, to whom God has pledged his faith, is represented as a wife; and as a woman does, when enticed by gifts, and as many women follow covetousness and become lascivious, that they may dress sumptuously, and live luxuriously, so the Prophet now points out this vice in the Israelitic Church, She said, I will go after my lovers. Some understand by lovers either the Assyrians or the Egyptians; for when the Israelites formed connections with these heathen nations, they were drawn away, we know, from their God. But the Prophet inveighs especially against false and corrupt modes of worship, and all kinds of superstitions; for the pure worship of God, we know, is ever to have the first place, and that justly; for on this depend all the duties of life. I therefore doubt not, but that he includes all false gods, when he says, "I will go after my lovers".

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.

Lecture Fifth

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.