17. For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name..
17. Et auferam nomina Baalim ex ore ejus, et non recordabitur amplius nominis ipsorum (Baalim scilicet.)
In this verse the Prophet more clearly unfolds what he said before, that there would be a new mind in the people, so that they would worship God purely, though they were before entangled in their superstitions. The meaning then is, that religion will then return to its true state, for the names of Baalim shall cease. We have already stated whence this name had arisen. Not even the heathens wished to thrust the only true God from his celestial throne, by forming for themselves many gods: but while they allowed some Supreme Being, they wished to have patrons, whom they employed in conciliating his favour and good-will. That this was for the most part the common doctrine, may be easily learnt from Plato: and the Jews also, no doubt, thought of becoming wise by following the common judgement of others; they hence had their Baalim. But though they called their patrons Baalim, they yet gave this name to God: "Let us worship Baalim." The Papists do the same; when they enter their temples, they immediately turn to the image of Mary or of some saint, and dare not come to God. At the same time they worship God, that is, pretend to worship God, and they call superstition God's worship. So it was among the Israelites; though the majesty of the Supreme God was not denied, yet that happened which the Papists also say, "That Christ is not distinguished from his Apostles;" all things were with them mixed together and confused. He therefore says,
Now we learn from this place, that the Church cannot be rightly reformed except it be trained to obedience by the frequent scourges of God; for the Lord thereby creates a new people for himself. We see at this day what great stupidity possesses their minds, who have not been well prepared for the worship of God. They indeed laugh at the superstitions of the Papacy; but, at the same time, they are a sort of Cyclops: 1 we see that there is nothing but barbarous ignorance in their hearts. The Prophet then says, not in vain, that the state of religion would then be right, when the Lord had wholly subdued his people. Hence "in that day", which refers to the heavy punishment which God would inflict on the Israelites --
We ought also to remember that a confession of faith is here commended by the Prophet. It is no doubt the fruit of true penitence, when we testify by the mouth and tongue that the only true God is our God, and when we are not ashamed to confess his name before the world, though it may rage madly against us.
We are further reminded by these words, that too much diligence and care cannot be taken to cleanse ourselves wholly from all sorts of pollutions; for as long as any relics of superstition continue among us, they will ever entangle us, and thus we shall stumble, or, at least not run so briskly as we ought. Since, then whatever men retain of their own corrupt devices is a hindrance to them in obtaining a direct access to God, it is meet for us to labour that the names of Baalim should cease, and be abolished among us; and for this end, that nothing may hinder and retard us in the true worship of God. Now follows --
Grant, Almighty God, that as we set up against thee so many obstacles through the depravity of our flesh and natural disposition, that we seem as it were to be designedly striving to close up the door against thy goodness and paternal favour, O grant, that our hearts may be so softened by thy Spirit, and the hardness which has hitherto prevailed may be so corrected, that we may submit ourselves to thee with genuine docility, especially as thou dost so kindly and tenderly invite us to thyself, that being allured by thy sweet invitation, we may run, and so run as not to be weary in our course, until Christ shall at length bring us together to thee, and, at the same time, lead us to thee for that eternal life, which he has obtained for us by his own blood. Amen.
1 Fabled giants with one eye. These referred to had an eye to see the absurdities of Popery; but they had no eye to see the beauty and glory of the Gospel. --Ed.