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Jeremiah Buys a Field During the Siege


The word that came to Jeremiah from the L ord in the tenth year of King Zedekiah of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar. 2At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and the prophet Jeremiah was confined in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah, 3where King Zedekiah of Judah had confined him. Zedekiah had said, “Why do you prophesy and say: Thus says the L ord: I am going to give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it; 4King Zedekiah of Judah shall not escape out of the hands of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him face to face and see him eye to eye; 5and he shall take Zedekiah to Babylon, and there he shall remain until I attend to him, says the L ord; though you fight against the Chaldeans, you shall not succeed?”

6 Jeremiah said, The word of the L ord came to me: 7Hanamel son of your uncle Shallum is going to come to you and say, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.” 8Then my cousin Hanamel came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the L ord, and said to me, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.” Then I knew that this was the word of the L ord.

9 And I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver. 10I signed the deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and weighed the money on scales. 11Then I took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions, and the open copy; 12and I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, in the presence of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all the Judeans who were sitting in the court of the guard. 13In their presence I charged Baruch, saying, 14Thus says the L ord of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, in order that they may last for a long time. 15For thus says the L ord of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.

Jeremiah Prays for Understanding

16 After I had given the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah, I prayed to the L ord, saying: 17Ah Lord G od! It is you who made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. 18You show steadfast love to the thousandth generation, but repay the guilt of parents into the laps of their children after them, O great and mighty God whose name is the L ord of hosts, 19great in counsel and mighty in deed; whose eyes are open to all the ways of mortals, rewarding all according to their ways and according to the fruit of their doings. 20You showed signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and to this day in Israel and among all humankind, and have made yourself a name that continues to this very day. 21You brought your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and wonders, with a strong hand and outstretched arm, and with great terror; 22and you gave them this land, which you swore to their ancestors to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey; 23and they entered and took possession of it. But they did not obey your voice or follow your law; of all you commanded them to do, they did nothing. Therefore you have made all these disasters come upon them. 24See, the siege ramps have been cast up against the city to take it, and the city, faced with sword, famine, and pestilence, has been given into the hands of the Chaldeans who are fighting against it. What you spoke has happened, as you yourself can see. 25Yet you, O Lord G od, have said to me, “Buy the field for money and get witnesses”—though the city has been given into the hands of the Chaldeans.

God’s Assurance of the People’s Return

26 The word of the L ord came to Jeremiah: 27See, I am the L ord, the God of all flesh; is anything too hard for me? 28Therefore, thus says the L ord: I am going to give this city into the hands of the Chaldeans and into the hand of King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon, and he shall take it. 29The Chaldeans who are fighting against this city shall come, set it on fire, and burn it, with the houses on whose roofs offerings have been made to Baal and libations have been poured out to other gods, to provoke me to anger. 30For the people of Israel and the people of Judah have done nothing but evil in my sight from their youth; the people of Israel have done nothing but provoke me to anger by the work of their hands, says the L ord. 31This city has aroused my anger and wrath, from the day it was built until this day, so that I will remove it from my sight 32because of all the evil of the people of Israel and the people of Judah that they did to provoke me to anger—they, their kings and their officials, their priests and their prophets, the citizens of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 33They have turned their backs to me, not their faces; though I have taught them persistently, they would not listen and accept correction. 34They set up their abominations in the house that bears my name, and defiled it. 35They built the high places of Baal in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter my mind that they should do this abomination, causing Judah to sin.

36 Now therefore thus says the L ord, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say, “It is being given into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence”: 37See, I am going to gather them from all the lands to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation; I will bring them back to this place, and I will settle them in safety. 38They shall be my people, and I will be their God. 39I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for all time, for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40I will make an everlasting covenant with them, never to draw back from doing good to them; and I will put the fear of me in their hearts, so that they may not turn from me. 41I will rejoice in doing good to them, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.

42 For thus says the L ord: Just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good fortune that I now promise them. 43Fields shall be bought in this land of which you are saying, It is a desolation, without human beings or animals; it has been given into the hands of the Chaldeans. 44Fields shall be bought for money, and deeds shall be signed and sealed and witnessed, in the land of Benjamin, in the places around Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, of the hill country, of the Shephelah, and of the Negeb; for I will restore their fortunes, says the L ord.

He amplifies the sin of the people, that they never departed from their vices. And he mentions the ten tribes, and also the tribe of Judah. The ten tribes, we know, had departed from the pure worship of God, when as yet true religion continued at Jerusalem. By mentioning then the children of Judah, he no doubt aggravated their guilt, intimating that they had fallen together with the Israelites, while yet they had for a time been preserved. The Israelites had become degenerated, afterwards the whole seed of Abraham became implicated in the same defection, so that they forsook the true worship of God. But afterwards he mentions only the children of Israel, but he includes also the tribe of Judah. For it ought to be observed, that when Scripture connects Israel with Judah, Israel then means the ten tribes, and that for the sake of honor or reproach the house of Judah is referred to separately; from the kingdom of Israel; but that when Israel is alone mentioned, it includes generally all the children of Abraham without exception. So it is in this place, when he says that the children of Israel and the children of Judah had done nothing but provoked God. Afterwards he mentions only Israel, and includes the twelve tribes.

But he says that the children of Israel and of Judah had only provoked him from their youth The particle אך ak, is sometimes taken as an affinnative, and sometimes as an adversative, but, or nevertheless; and this latter sense would be suitable, were the context to allow it. I am inclined to agree with those who render it “only;” and the Prophet seems to have removed all ambiguity, for he not only says, that they had done, but that they had been doing evil, which is a mode of speaking that intimates a continued action; they had then been doing evil, that is, they never ceased. And he confirms this declaration by saying אך, ak, only, that is, their purpose had been nothing else, or all their study has been no other than to provoke me without end and measure. 6868     The particle אך means also truly, verily, surely. It is rendered “only,” by the Sept., — “continually,” by the Vulg., — “verily,” by the Targ., — and is omitted by the Syr; Its most proper meaning is, “nevertheless,” but is often rendered “surely” in our version: and it might be rendered here, surely or doubtless. — Ed. We hence see that every ground of complaint is taken away from the Jews, because God, by long forbearance, had deferred his vengeance, for he might have punished them many ages before. As then they had never ceased to provoke God, the rigor shewn to them could not have appeared too much, for he had, in his goodness, invited them to repentance, but with no effect.

And from their youth here is not to be understood of individuals, but is to be extended to the whole people; and so youth is to be taken for the time of their redemption, as we shall hereafter see. For the Church was in a manner then born, and in the desert, when they had been recently brought to the light, for God had delivered them from the darkness of death. In their very childhood they began to provoke God; from that time they had always been perverse in their wickedness.

The meaning then is, that the people of Israel had been of such a perverse disposition that it became necessary at length to punish them severely, for they ceased not to add evils to evils. And the particle אך ak, shews their aggravated guilt, because they applied their whole minds to provoke God, and had been ingenious in devising superstitions, by which they polluted the worship of God: They have then, he says, been only doing evil

And he adds, with the work of their hands This explanation is added, because the Israelites might have raised a clamor, and asked what that evil was. God had indeed shewn sufficiently that it availed them nothing to seek evasions, for he had made himself their judge when he said, before my eyes; for by these words the Prophets intimate that a right judgment cannot be formed of men’s works by themselves, for willing or unwilling, they must stand or fall according to the judgment of God. Whenever then God declares that men have sinned before his eyes, he means that it is in vain for them to seek subterfuges, by alleging their good intentions, as they are wont commonly to say, because with him is the authority to judge. But this truth he confirms, when he says, that they had provoked him by the work of their hands 6969     It appears evident, that the last clause of this is explanatory of the first, as Calvin shews. “The evil,” for the article precedes it, was “the work of their hands,” that is, idolatry:
   For the children of Israel and the children of Judah have doubtless been doing the evil before mine eyes from their youth; for the children of Israel have doubtless been provoking me with the work of their hands, saith Jehovah.

   The connection in this way appears more obvious. — Ed.
By the work of their hands the Prophet means the superstitions will tell the people had invented for themselves. And we must ever bear in mind the contrast between God’s commands and the works of our hands, for whatever we obtrude on God besides his Law is the work of our hands; but obedience is better than sacrifice. Then God here expressly condemns all the inventions of men, as though he had said, that however men may delight in their own superstitions, they are yet impious and detestable, for it is not lawful to devise anything. For God having given us his Law, has left nothing for us to do, except to follow what he has commanded; and when we turn aside and add something of our own, we do nothing but what is sacrilegious. It now follows —

He confirms what we have just said, even that God, however, severely he might punish the Jews, would not yet exceed due limits in his judgment, because their iniquity had reached the highest pitch. It was a dreadful judgment when the city was wholly demolished by fire, and the Temple destroyed. Hence the atrocity of the punishment might have driven many to complain that God was too severe. Here he checks all such complaints, and says, that the city had been built as it were for this end, even to provoke him, as we say in French, Elle a este faite pour me depiter, pour me facher. Some read, “Reduced to me has been the city;” but they pervert and obscure the meaning. It might more properly be rendered, “The city has been destined to me for my wrath and indignation.” But the meaning which I have given is simpler. Thus the words אפי, aphi, and חמתי chemeti, are to be taken passively, even that the city Jerusalem had been in a manner devoted to this madness, so that it ceased not to inflame more and more against itself the vengeance of God. In a word, he repeats in other words what he had before said, even that the children of Israel did nothing else than provoke God by their misdeeds.

There is then nothing new said here, but as it was a thing difficult to be believed, the Prophet dwells on it, and says, that the city Jerusalem had been for the wrath and indignation of God, from the time in which it had been founded And we may gather from the end of the verse that this is the true meaning, for he says, Even to this day, that I should remove it from my sight; as though he had said, that the Jews had made no end of sinning, so that it was now quite the time to punish a people so wicked, whose impiety was un-healable. And he points out their persistency when he says, even to this day 7070     It has been found difficult to render this verse literally, though the general meaning is evident, and is given in our version, which is more paraphrastic than usual. If we take על for עלה, in its Chaldee sense, as in Daniel 6:5, 6, we shall find the version easy, —
   31. For the occasion of my wrath, and the occasion of my indignation, has this city been to me from the day that they have built it even

   32. to this day; so that I shall remove it from my sight on account of all the wickedness of the children of Israel, etc. etc.

   So the latter part of Jeremiah 32:31 ought to be connected with the following verse. The verb for “remove” is in the infinitive mood preceded by ל. It is an elliptical phrase, as is sometimes the case, where a resolution, obligation, or duty is intended. — Ed
For the people had not only begun to sin in the wilderness, but they pursued in a regular course, so to speak, their impiety, so that at no age, in no year, in no day, did they cease from their vices. Here then is pointed out their constant habit of sinning. It follows —

This verse is connected with the last: God had complained, that the city had been so perverse in its character, that it seemed to have been founded and built for the purpose of seeking its own ruin by its sins. He confirms that declaration by adding, On account of all the wickedness of the children of Israel, and of the children of Judah. By all the wickedness or evil, he means what he before said, that they had been doing only evil, for they had offended not only in one thing, but had abandoned themselves to impiety, so that there was nothing pure or honest among them; for they had given themselves up to impiety, so that they omitted nothing that was calculated to provoke God. A universal blot is extended to every part of life, as though he had said, that they were imbued with so much wickedness, that no sound part remained in them. It is possible for man’s body to labor under one or two diseases, while there may be soundness in some of the members; but the Prophet means here, that the Israelites had become so corrupt, as it is said in Psalm 14:1, that nothing remained whole among them.

Now God condemns here all ranks of men: in the first place he says, that the kings had sinned; for they not only themselves had forsaken the true worship of God, but had become the cause of defection or apostasy to others. To kings he adds princes, or counsellors, and then priests and prophets. And, doubtless, the kings with their counsellors ought to have been one eye, the priests and the prophets the other; for the two eyes in a true and legitimate government are the judges and the pastors of the Church. But the Prophet says, that the kings and their counsellors had been ungodly, and then that the priests and the prophets had been implicated in similar crimes. And it was indeed something monstrous to see such blindness and madness in those priests whom God had, by a hereditary right, set over the Church as the interpreters of the Law, according to what is said,

“The priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the Law at his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 2:7)

And when the priests failed in their office, either through ignorance or sloth, God raised up prophets in their place, and his purpose was to prevent by such a help the ruin of his Church. But Jeremiah says, that the prophets had become like the priests.

This passage deserves to be carefully noticed; for we see how delighted many are when the Church is disturbed by discords; for they think that they are thus excused, when they cast aside every care and every concern for religion; and many indulge in this kind of indifference. But if the faithful had been so careless at that time, must not religion have a thousand times vanished away, having been wholly extinguished and obliterated from their hearts? Let us then learn, that though false prophets may rise and obscure pure doctrine by their fallacies, and though the sacrificers should become apostates, and raise up, as it were, a banner to demolish the whole Church — yet let us learn to be firm; for our faith ought not to be shaken, though the whole world were in confusion, nay, though Satan mingled heaven and earth together. In short, it is the real trial of our faith, when we firmly abide in God’s truth at the time when Satan attempts above all things to throw everything into confusion. For Jeremiah does not speak here of the Egyptians or the Assyrians, but of the chosen people, the children of Abraham, the sacred heritage of God; and yet he says that the priests and prophets had become leaders to the people in their sinful courses, so that they cast aside the true worship of God, perverted the Law, and in short, departed from religion.

He afterwards adds, and the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem He speaks not of the Israelites, who had long ago become polluted, and had abandoned themselves to ungodly superstitions, for they had become, as it were, aliens to the people of God; but he names only the Jews, who remained alive, that God’s Church might continue in the world. He proceeds by degrees, for he mentions the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the last place. It was indeed less to be endured that those, who had the Temple before them, who were constantly reminded of God’s true worship, should be apostates, than if they dwelt in villages; for those who lived in the country, and were wont to come to the Temple three times a year, had apparently some excuse. But as the citizens of Jerusalem enjoyed so many religious means, as the Law of God continually sounded in their ears, as the sacrifices were as trumpets by whose blast they were summoned to serve and fear God, it was, as we have said, a great aggravation to their guilt. Hence the Prophet, for the sake of a greater reproach, joins them to the men of Judah It follows —

Here the Prophet expresses more clearly the perverseness of the people, as though he had said, that they had deliberately rejected every instruction, and had shewn no regard for God; for he who turns his back on us, does this knowingly and wilfully, and indeed not without contempt. When any one addresses me, and I look another way, is it not a manifest sign of contempt or disdain? and he who speaks, does he not see that he is disregarded? Thus God then complains that the Jews had not fallen away through ignorance, but as it were through a premeditated obstinacy: they then turned to me, he says, the neck, 7171     So the original is; but we say the back. The same words are found in Jeremiah 2:27. — Ed. when yet they ought to have been attentive to hear the doctrine of the Law. For God shews to us his face whenever he is pleased to prescribe what ought to be done, or to shew the way of salvation. When he looks on us, how detestable must be our pride, if we look not also on him in return? This, then, is the first thing, that the Jews had knowingly and wilfully despised God and his Law.

Then he amplifies their guilt by saying, And I taught them, I rose up early and taught them, and they hearkened not 7272     The words for teaching, and early rising, are participles, dependent on “me,” in the previous clause, and by making a little change in the order of the words, the sense would be more evident, —
   And they turned the neck and not the face to me, while teaching them, early-rising and teaching; yet they hearkened not to receive instruction.

   They turned their back, while God was teaching them! — Ed.
If the Law had been only once promulgated, the Jews might have objected and said, that they were for the most part illiterate; but no color of pretense remained for them, since the Prophets were continually interpreting the Law, as God had also promised by Moses,

“A Prophet will I raise up for thee from the midst of thy brethren.” (Deuteronomy 18:18)

For he intimates that this benefit would be perpetual in the Church, so that there would never be wanting Prophets to shew the right way to the people. For he sets Prophets in opposition to soothsayers, diviners, foretellers, and all other ministers of Satan, as though he had said, that there was no reason for the people to seek the fallacies of Satan, since the Prophets were sufficient. Lest the Jews then should complain that they were hardly dealt with, God here shews that he had taught them, for he ascribes to himself what he had done by his Prophets: and doubtless Prophets and teachers are nothing else but the instruments of the Holy Spirit; for no one is fit to teach, but when he is guided by the Spirit of God. Justly then does God claim for himself these offices, so that all the praise for the building up of his Church is due to him, though he employs the labors of men. In this sense it is, that he says, that he had taught them.

Then he adds, that he rose up early, that is, that he had been sedulous. As a master of a family, who is solicitous for his own, early inquires how they are, and looks around the whole house; so also God represents himself here, speaking of his care in teaching the Israelites, as though he had said, that not only his Law was set before their eyes, by which they might learn what was right, but that Prophets were also given who ceased not to admonish and exhort them.

Now this manner of speaking ought to be particularly observed, as we hence learn how base their ingratitude is who reject the teaching of the Prophets; for they not only disregarded men, but God himself, as Christ also declares,

“He who hears you, hears me; and he who rejects you, rejects me.” (Luke 10:16)

This form of speaking, then, commends the truth of the doctrine taught by the Prophets; for God comes forth and shews that he speaks by his servants. And on the other hand, we learn what an incomparable blessing it is to have faithful and true teachers; for God, through them and their labors, with certainty declares that he cares for our salvation, as though he watched over us, as though he rose up early, as though he visited us; and the preaching of the Gospel is not without reason called the visitation of God. There is, then, no reason for us to seek anything better, when God is present with us by his word; for we have a sure testimony of his presence whenever true and faithful teachers rise up.

He adds, to receive correction He intimates by the word מוסר musar, that the Jews had not sinned through ignorance, but that they had been intractable, for they refused to be corrected. The word is, indeed, taken sometimes for doctrine, but it means here correction, even when any one, who generally holds a right course, deviates from the right way, but being warned, repents. We hence see what the Prophet means, even that the Jews had not only closed their eyes against the clear light which shone forth in the Law, but that they had been wholly refractory, so that they could not be subdued when God called them to repentance, that when he sought to heal their diseases, they showed such stubbornness that they cast aside all correction and discipline. 7373     It is true that the word means correction as well as instruction; but as “teaching” is what was previously mentioned, our version, which gives the latter word, seems to present the true meaning here. It is so rendered by Blayney.Ed. We hence learn that the time of vengeance had come, because God had tried all means to promote their welfare, and had lost, as the common saying is, both pains and cost. It follows, —

There was here, as it were, an extreme wickedness, for the Jews had profaned the Temple itself. It was a grievous offense, when every one had, as we have seen, private services at home, where they burned incense on the roofs, and poured libations to foreign gods; but when impiety had gone so far, that even the Temple itself was polluted with idols, what hope was there of repentance?

He says that they had set their abominations in the Temple. It is called, indeed, a house after the manner of the Hebrews, but it is afterwards distinguished from private buildings, when he says, on which my name is called 7474     The Vulg. and the Targ. very incorrectly render the words, “In which my name is called.” The Sept. and the Syr. are the same as our version. It was, no doubt, a house of prayer; but what is here meant is, that it was called God’s house. — Ed. and then, that they might defile it God here shews that the Temple had been dedicated to him; it was then a sacrilegious profanation when they offered their sacrifices to idols. They were, indeed, already apostates; but such a sacrilege was not so notorious in their private superstitions as in the Temple; for this was to deprive God of his own honor. Though it was not right in them to abandon themselves to all kind of wickedness when they came forth from the Temple; yet the Temple itself ought to have continued, as it were, safe and free from every defilement. For this reason, therefore, he says that it was called by his name, and then that the Temple itself had been defiled, so that they did not spare his sacred name. The rest I shall defer till to-morrow.

After having complained of the profanation of his own Temple, God now says that the Jews had sinned through another superstition, even because the valley of the son of Hinnom had become to them a temple instead of the true one. God had forbidden in the Law sacrifices to be offered except where he appointed,

“Thou shalt not do so to thy God, but thou shalt come to the place where he has put the memorial of his name.”
(Deuteronomy 12:4, 5)

As God then had expressly testified that sacrifices are not acceptable to him except in one Temple, and on one altar, he shews here that the lawful worship had been corrupted by the Jews, even because they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire in honor to Molech. And yet in a former passage he calls him Baal. Hence it appears, as we said yesterday, that the word Baal includes all kinds of idols. For the Jews, no doubt, while they worshipped their Baalim, ever wished to ascribe to the one true God the chief sovereignty, but, at the same time, they devised patrons for themselves, and hence was the multitude of their gods. But Molech was a particular deity, as we learn from other parts of Scripture.

We now, then, perceive the Prophet’s meaning, — that the Jews had not been satisfied with one kind of idolatry, but built high places or altars for themselves; for so do some explain במות, bemut: במה beme, means a high place, and is everywhere taken for the groves, as they were called, that is, tall trees. But as mention is tiere made of a valley, some think that the word high-places is not suitable here; therefore they render the word “altars.” 7575     In Jeremiah 7:31, we have “the high places,” or elevations, “of Tophet.” Blayney thinks that they were artificial mounts thrown up for the purpose of performing some of their superstitious rites. Trees were, no doubt, planted on some of the high places; but there might be mounts without trees. That these high places were in a valley, favor the idea that they were artificial mounts without trees. And it indeed appears from this verse and from Jeremiah 7:31, that the image of Molech was set on the artificial mounts, for it is said that they built or erected these high places for this purpose, — that they might burn their children to Molech. And, probably, there were several mounts in this valley, in order to accommodate a large number of people. — Ed. As to the main point, God no doubt condenms the Jews here, because they had dared to set up a foreign mode of worship in the valley of Hinnom, when the Law expressly forbade it. The relative אשר asher, as I have said, may be applied to the altars as well as to Baal. But it seems to me a more suitable meaning, if we say that Baal himself, that is, the idol, was in the talley of Hinnom. Of the passing through the fire, I have spoken elsewhere — it was a kind of lustration. There is no doubt, however, but that some exceeded the moderation commonly observed, who wished to excel others in the fervor of their zeal; for they actually burned their sons and their daughters, which was a deed the most savage. But they yet thought that it was a service acceptable to God. Others performed their superstition in a milder manner, as they deemed it enough that their children should pass through the fire as a symbol of purification, as also the heathens were wont to purify themselves. 7676     There is no ground for this supposition as to the practice in Tophet; for, in other parts of Scripture, what they did is specifically mentioned. In this very book it is said, that they burnt their children in the fire, Jeremiah 7:31, and that they burnt them as burnt-offerings to Baal, Jeremiah 19:5. See also Deuteronomy 12:31; Ezekiel 23:37. — Ed.

But the Prophet speaks of sons and of daughters, in order to shew that so great was the intemperate zeal of the Jews, that they not only prostituted themselves before their idols, but also contaminated their offspring with these defilements.

He at last says, that he had commanded no such thing, and that it never came to his mind We have said elsewhere, that whenever this manner of speaking occurs, God cuts off every handle from objectors, because the superstitious ever have something to allege as a pretense when they are summoned to an account. We know that the Papists, by pretending good intentions, confidently glory against God; and they think that this one pretense is sufficient to defend them against all reproofs; and they think also that the servants of God and the Prophets are too morose and scrupulous when such an excuse does not satisfy them. But God, that he might not tediously contend with the superstitious, assumes this principle, — that whatever they attempt beyond the Law is spurious, and that, therefore, the inventions of men cannot be defended by any disguise or pretense. Let us then know that true religion is always founded on obedience to God’s will; and hence everything devised by men, when there is no command of God, is not only frivolous, but also abominable, according to what was said yesterday respecting the work of the hands; and so here the command of God is set in opposition to all the inventions of men. But as such declarations often occur, I now touch but slightly on this passage.

This doctrine, however, ought to be especially noticed, that is, that there is no need of a long refutation when we undertake to expose fictitious modes of worship, which men devise for themselves according to their own notions, because, after all that they can say, God in one word gives this answer, that whatever he has not commanded in his Law, is vain and mischievous. He then says, that he had not commanded this, and that it had never entered into his mind.

God in the last clause transfers to himself what applies only to men; for it cannot be said with strict propriety of God, that this or that had not come to his mind. But here he rebukes the presumption of men, who dare to introduce this or that, and think that an acceptable worship of God which they themselves have presumptuously devised; for they seek thus to exalt their own wisdom above that of God himself. And we even find at this day that the Papists, when we shew that nothing has proceeded from the mouth of God of all the mass of observances in which they make religion to consist, do always allege that they do not without reason observe what has been commanded by the fathers, as though some things had come into the minds of men which had escaped God himself! We then see that God in this place exposes to ridicule the madness of those, who, relying on their own inventive wits, devise for themselves various kinds of worship; for they seek, as we have said, to be wiser than God himself. We now, then, perceive the force of the expression, when God says that it never came to his mind, because men boast that it had not been contrived without reason, and glory in their own acuteness, as though they were able to appoint a better thing than God himself.

He afterwards says, That they should do this abomination God now goes farther, and calls whatever he had not commanded an abomination. And this clause confirms what I have before said, that there is no need of long arguments when the question is respecting the inventions of men, for nothing can be approved of in the worship of God but what he has himself commanded. Whatever therefore has proceeded from the notions of men, is not only frivolous and useless, but it is also an abomination; for God so represents it in this place. It is therefore not enough at this day to repudiate and to treat with disdain the fictitious modes of worship in which the Papists so much glory; but if we would prove that we have a true zeal for religion, we must abominate all these fictitious things; for God has once for all declared them to be abominable.

He adds, that Judah might sin, or, that they might make Judah to sin: either is admissible, and there is a twofold reading. 7777     The Keri, החטיא “to cause to sin,” is no doubt the true reading, even the את before Judah is a proof of it, and it is the meaning given by the versions and the Targ.Ed. However this may be, he declares that those who build not on the Law, do nothing but sin, though they may think that they render to God the best service, even because they ought to have begun with this principle, — to do nothing but according to what the Law prescribes. It follows, —

VIEWNAME is study