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God’s Response and Promise

18

Then the Lord became jealous for his land,

and had pity on his people.

19

In response to his people the Lord said:

I am sending you

grain, wine, and oil,

and you will be satisfied;

and I will no more make you

a mockery among the nations.

 

20

I will remove the northern army far from you,

and drive it into a parched and desolate land,

its front into the eastern sea,

and its rear into the western sea;

its stench and foul smell will rise up.

Surely he has done great things!

 

21

Do not fear, O soil;

be glad and rejoice,

for the Lord has done great things!

22

Do not fear, you animals of the field,

for the pastures of the wilderness are green;

the tree bears its fruit,

the fig tree and vine give their full yield.

 

23

O children of Zion, be glad

and rejoice in the Lord your God;

for he has given the early rain for your vindication,

he has poured down for you abundant rain,

the early and the later rain, as before.

24

The threshing floors shall be full of grain,

the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.

 

25

I will repay you for the years

that the swarming locust has eaten,

the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,

my great army, which I sent against you.

 

26

You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,

and praise the name of the Lord your God,

who has dealt wondrously with you.

And my people shall never again be put to shame.

27

You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,

and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other.

And my people shall never again be put to shame.

 

God’s Spirit Poured Out

28

Then afterward

I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;

your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

your old men shall dream dreams,

and your young men shall see visions.

29

Even on the male and female slaves,

in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

 

30 I will show portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. 32Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.


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The Prophet here again repeats, that prayers would not be in vain, provided the Jews truly humbled themselves before God. Then God, he says, will be jealous for his land and spare his people. He confirms what I have already said that God would deal mercifully with his people, because they were his heritage, that is because he had chosen them for himself. For the title of heritage, whence does it proceed except from the gratuitous covenant of God? for the Jews were not more excellent than others, but election was the only fountain from which the Jews had to draw any hope. We now then see why these words, God will be jealous for his land, are added; as though he said “Though this land has been polluted by the wickedness of men, yet God has consecrated it to himself: He will, therefore, regard his own covenant, and thus turn away his face from looking on their sins.” He will spare, he says, his people, that is, his chosen people: for, as I have said, the Prophet no doubt ascribes here the safety of the people, and the hope of their safety, to the gratuitous election of God; for the jealousy of God is nothing else but the vehemence and ardor of his paternal love. God could not, indeed, express how ardently he loves those whom he has chosen without borrowing, as it were, what belongs to men. For we know that passions appertain not to him; but he is set forth as a father, who burns with jealousy when he sees his son ill-treated; he acknowledges his own blood, his bowels are excited, — or, as a husband, who, on seeing dishonor done to his wife, is moved; and though he had been a hundred times offended, he yet forgets every offense; for he regards that sacred union between himself and his wife. Such a character, then, does God assume, that he might the better express how much and how intensely he loves his own elect. Hence he says, God will be jealous for his land. As he has hitherto been inflamed with just wrath, so now a contrary feeling will overcome the former; not that God is agitated by various passions, as I have already said, but this mode of speaking transferred from men, is adopted on account of our ignorance.

He afterwards says, God has answered 88     There is no reason for rendering this in the past tense: it is in the same predicament with the verb, “will be jealous,” in the former verse, and ought to be rendered like it in the future time, “will answer.” The comment founded on this rendering, though true in itself, is yet too refined, and suits not this place. — Ed. and said to his people, Behold, I will send to you corn, wine, and oil. The Prophet does not here recite what had been done, but, on the contrary, declares, that God in future would be reconciled to them; as though he said, “I have hitherto been a herald of war, and bidden all to prepare themselves for the coming evil: but now I am a messenger to proclaim peace to you; if only you are resolved to turn to God, and to turn unfeignedly, I do now testify to you that God will be propitious to you; and as to your prayers know that they are already heard; that is, know that as soon as they were conceived, they were heard by the Lord.” Hence he says, He has answered; that is “If, moved by my exhortation, ye return with sincerity to God, he will meet you, nay, he has already met you; he waits not until ye have done all that ye ought to do; but when he bids you to come to his temple and to weep, he at the same time wipes off your tears, he removes every cause of sorrow and anxiety.” God, then, has answered; that is, “I am to you a certain and sufficient witness, that your prayers have been already accepted before God, though, as I have before reminded you, ye have not offered them.”

And, at the same time, he speaks of the effect, Behold, I will send to you corn, wine, and oil; and ye shall be satisfied. Here, by the effects, he proves that God would be propitious; for want of food was the first evidence of God’s displeasure, to be followed by the destruction which the Prophet had threatened. What does he say now? God will restore to you abundance of corn, wine, and oil; and he says further, I will not give you to the Gentiles for a reproach that they may rule over you

We now then apprehend the meaning of the Prophet; for he not only promises that God would be placable but also declares that he was already placable; and this he confirms by external tokens; for God would immediately remove the sins of his wrath, and turn them into blessings. Hence he says, ‘He will give you abundance of corn, wine, and oil, so as fully to satisfy you.’ As they had perceived that God was angry with them by the sterility of the land, and also by its produce being consumed by chafers, by locusts, and other animals or insects; so now the Lord would testify his love to them by the abounding fruitfulness of every thing. And then he joins another sentence, I will not give you any more for a reproach to the Gentiles. When he says, “any more,” he intimates that they had been before exposed to reproach; and we indeed know that they were then suffering many evils; but there remained that destruction of which we have heard. God does then here promise, that they should no more be subject to the reproaches of the Gentiles provided they repented; for the Prophet ever speaks conditionally. It now follows —

In this verse he more fully confirms the Jews, that they might not be afraid of reproach from the Gentiles. It may have been that the Assyrians were now in readiness, prepared for war; it was then difficult to free the Jews from every fear. The Prophet had said generally that they would be no more subject to the mockeries of the Gentiles; but yet fear could not but be felt by them. “We see the Assyrians already armed; and what can we expect but to be devoured by them? for we are not able to resist them.” Anxiety then must have constantly tormented the Jews, had he not distinctly and in express words declared, “It is in God’s power to drive away the Assyrians, and to confound all their attempts.” The Prophet, therefore, is now on this subject. The Northlander, 99     Dr. Henderson agrees with Calvin in rendering this word, Northern or Highlander, and quotes Coverdale as rendering it, Him of the North. He considers this word as of “prime importance in the interpretation of this prophecy.” Locusts visited Palestine not from the north, but from the south. “That, however,” he adds, “which determines the question, is the addition of the patronymic י to צפון, indicating that the North was not merely the quarter whence the subject of the discourse came, but that its native country lay to the North of Palestine; just as התימני, the Temanite, means the Southern, etc. — Ed. he says, will I remove far from you. The Chaldeans and the Assyrians, we know, were northward of Judea. He then means here by the North those enemies, whose preparations terrified the Jews. Hence he says, I will drive them from you, and drive them far into a land of desert and of drought 1010     Literally, “Into a land dry and desolate.” — Ed. . By these words he intimates, that though furnished with the greatest forces, and gaping for the land of Judea, and ready in their cupidity to devour it, the Syrians would yet return home without effecting anything; I will cast them into a desert land. In vain, he says, they covet your abundance, and desire to satisfy themselves with the fertility of your land; for I will drive them and their dread away.

He then adds, His face to the east sea, and his rear to the hindmost sea; that is, I will scatter them here and there, so that his front shall be to one sea, (supposed to be the Salt Sea,) and his extremity to the hindermost sea, which was doubtless the Mediterranean: for the Salt Sea was east to the Jews, that is, it lies, as it is well known, towards the east. We now perceive in part what the Prophet means. But it must, at the same time, be added, that the Prophet removes fear from the Jews, which occupied their minds by observing the power of the Assyrians so great and extensive. “What is to be done? though God is present with us, and protects us by his help, yet how will he resist the Assyrians, for that army will fill the land”. “God will yet find means,” says the Prophet; “though the Assyrians should occupy the whole land, from the Salt or the East Sea to the Meridian or Mediterranean Sea, yet will God drive away this vast multitude: there is no reason then that ye should fear.” Hence the Prophet has designedly set forth how terrible the Assyrian forces would be, that he might show that they could not be resisted, unless the Lord should disperse them and disappoint all their efforts. At last he adds, And his ill savor shall ascend: but I am not able to finish to-day.

Here he shows that God would have his turn to exalt himself, which the Assyrian presumptuously attempted to do. For God seems for a time to lie still, when he withholds himself, when he puts not forth his power, but waits to see the tendency of the insane conspiracies and the Satanic madness of those who rise up against him and his Church. But having for a time thus restrained himself, he at length comes forth; and this is what the Prophet means when he says, God has highly exalted himself to do his purpose. The Assyrian first attempted this; but now the Lord in his turn will raise up himself. God indeed could have done this before, but he would not; and we see this to be his usual mode of proceeding, to connive at the presumption of men, till the ripened time comes which he has predetermined; and then he dissipates in a moment their enterprises.

God, then, has now nobly exalted himself; therefore rejoice and exult, O Land. But he says first, Fear not, O Land; and then, Exult and rejoice For it was necessary, in the first place, to remove the fear with which the minds of all were now seized. The Prophet, then, begins with consolation; for the Jews could have hardly entertained any joy, except the fear that oppressed them was first shaken off. Hence the Prophet maintains due order by saying, “Fear not, O Land, but rather exult and rejoice.” He afterwards subjoins —

Here the Prophet turns his address to the beasts; not that his instruction suited them; but it was a more efficacious mode of speaking, when he invited the very beasts to a participation of the people’s joy; for except the Jews had been made to know that God’s wrath was now nigh at hand, no consolation which the Prophet has hitherto applied would have been of any weight with them. But now since they perceived that God’s wrath did not only suspend over them, but extended much farther, even to the beasts, and since the Lord would have mercy on them, so that his blessing would be partaken in common by the beasts and brute animals, the address was far more impressive. We hence see that the Prophet, for the best reason, directed his discourse to the very beasts, though destitute of mind and discernment. For in addressing brute animals he addressed men with double force; that is, he impressed their minds more effectually, so that they might seriously confess how great was God’s wrath, and also how great would be his blessing.

Beasts, he says, fear not. Then the beasts of the field ought to have dreaded the judgment of God which he had before denounced; for except God had been pacified to his people, the fire of his wrath would have consumed the whole land, trees and pastures; so all the beasts must have been famished. But now when God is reconciled to his people, his blessing will smile on the brute animals. What then is to be said of men? For God is properly propitious to them, and not to brute animals. We hence see that the fruit of reconciliation is made more evident, when it is in part extended to the brute creation.

He therefore says, Fear not, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the desert will grow, the trees will bring forth their fruit. By these words the Prophet intimates, that had God’s wrath toward his people been implacable, the sterility of the land would not have been improved. Now then whence came so sudden a change that the pastures grew, that the trees produced their fruits, both the fig-tree and the vine, except that God was pleased to bless the land, after having received men into favor? We now then apprehend the meaning of the Prophet, even this, — that the land would be made by an angry God to execute his judgment, and that there would be no remedy for the barrenness of the land until men propitiated God. This is the sum of the whole. It now follows —

He now exhorts the Jews also to rejoice, but in a way different from that of the land and of the beasts. Rejoice, he says, in your God. For the beasts and the sheep, while rejoicing, cannot raise their thoughts higher than to their food: hence, the joy of brute animals, as they say, terminates in its object. But the Prophet sets forth God before the Jews as the ground of their joy. We then see how he distinguishes them from brute animals from the land and other elements; for he not only bids them to rejoice in meat and drink, in the abundance of provisions, but he also bids them to rejoice in the Lord their God; and he says no more, “The land will yield its strength, or the vines and fig-trees, or the trees, will produce their fruit, and the pastures will grow;” no, he speaks not now in this manner, but he says “God himself will give you rain:” for he had to do with men, endued with understanding, yea, with those very Jews who had been from their childhood taught in the law of God: he speaks, not only of the land, not only of bread and wine, but of the Giver himself.

He then reminds them of God’s blessing, and declares that God would be so propitious to them as to pour down his grace upon them, and act the part of a father and a guardian towards them. God then, he says, will bring forth or give to you rain according to what is necessary. Some translate המורה emure a teacher; and the meaning of the word, we know, is doubtful. At the same time מורה mure is very often taken for rain, and sometimes generally, and sometimes for a particular kind of rain, as we shall presently see. Though then מורה mure signifies a teacher, yet the context here seems not to allow that sense. They who have thus taken it seem to have been led by this one reason, — that it is absurd to set in the first place, and as it were on a higher grade, those fading blessings which belong only to the support and nourishment of the body. But this reason is very foolish; for the Prophets, we know, lead children as it were by initial principles to a higher doctrine. No wonder then that the Prophet here affords them a taste of God’s favor in blessings belonging to the body; he afterwards ascends higher, as we shall see: and this view is certainly what the context demands; for the Prophet says at last, “I will hereafter pour my Spirit on all flesh,” etc. In these words the Prophet commends the favor of God, which ought to be held as the most valuable: but he begins now with temporal benefits, that he might lead by degrees, and by various steps, a people, rude and weak, to something higher.

Then the word, teacher, by no means suits this place; and we must mark also what immediately follows. He introduces a word derived from מורה mure; he afterwards adds מורה mure the second time, which no doubt, means rain; all confess this, and confess it to be taken for rain in the same verse. When all agree then on this point, it seems somewhat strained to render it in the same verse a teacher and also rain; especially since we find that the Prophet’s object is this, — to make the people to recognize God’s blessing in outward things. There is also another thing which has lead astray these interpreters. There follows immediately the word לצדקה latsadke, according to what is just. When they join together these word, המורה לצדקה emure latsadke, they ask, What is the rain of righteousness? They have hence thought that a teacher is here meant. But we know that משפט and צדקה meshapheth and tsadke are often taken in Scripture for a just measure, for equity. “God then will not deal with you unequally as hitherto; but having been reconciled to you, he will reassume the part of a father, and will also observe towards you a legitimate order; for things have been on both sides in confusion, inasmuch as ye have been carrying on war against God, and your wickedness has subverted the whole order of nature. But now, God being pacified towards you, there will be on both sides an equable state of things, everything will be in a fitting condition; he will not deal with you any more in an irregular manner.” We now then perceive the real meaning of the Prophets and see how frivolous are the reasons which influenced these interpreters, who have rendered the words, “Teacher of righteousness.” I do not love strained expositions.

Let us now return to the words of the Prophet: He will give to you, he says, rain according is what is fit; then he adds, He will make to descend on you showering rain, (using another word;) and he adds again the word מורה mure, which, no doubt, means rain, and no one denies this. But yet it seems that the word גשם geshem has here a specific meaning, and some think it to be a violent shower, occasioned by a storm or tempest; and yet we may gather from many parts of Scripture that the word means rain in general. Now מורה mure seems here to be taken for the rain of September, which the Greeks call τξωιμον, προιμον; and so they call מלקוש melkush οψιμον, opsimon, or the latter rain, as a common interpreter has rendered it. And the cultivated land, we know, needs these two rains, that is, after sowing, and when the fruit is ripening, — after sowing, that the ground by receiving moisture may make the seed to grow; for it then wants moisture to nourish the roots. Hence, the rain of September or October, which is after sowing, is rightly called seasonable rain; and the Greeks, as I have already said, call it πρωιμον proimon; and James, following them, so calls it in James 5, ‘He will give you rain,’ he says, ‘both of the first time and the late rain,’ that is, of the month of March. For in those warm climates the harvests we know, is earlier than with us. We here gather the corn in July but they gather it there in May. The fruit then ripens with them in March, when they need the late rain. And in Jeremiah 5 it appears quite evident, that מורה mure, as in this place, is called the rain, which comes down after sowing; for God says there, ‘I will give you,’ etc., and first he uses the general word גשם geshem, and then he adds the two kinds of rain, which are also mentioned here; and afterwards he adds, ‘In their time,’ that is, each rain in its time and season. — Then מורה mure has its time, and מלקוש melkush also has its time; otherwise the words of the prophet would not be consistent.

We now see what the Prophet means. Of the word מלקום melkush we have said something in Hosea. Then the Prophet says now, that God would be so propitious to the Jews, as to neglect no means of testifying his favor towards them; for he would give them rain in the month of October and in the month of March, to fertilize the ground after sowing, and before the harvest or before the fruit came to maturity. Here then is promised to the Jews that the land would be made fertile by natural means. It now follows —

He goes on with the same subject in this verse, and shows the effects of rain; for when the earth is irrigated and satiated with sufficient moisture, it brings forth fruit, rich and plentiful. God then will cause that the rains shall not be useless, for the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine as well as oil. He afterwards adds —

The Prophet confirms what he had previously said, and states what is of an opposite character, — that God can as easily restore a rich fruitfulness to the land as he had before rendered it barren by sending devouring insects. I will give you years, (for the other years,) he says; and that the Jews might more fully understand that all this was in God’s hand, he expressly declares that the cankerworms, the chafers, and the locusts 1111     There are four sorts mentioned in Hebrew as in the first chapter: one of them is omitted here and in the Latin text. — Ed. , were his army and as it were his hired army, whom he had employed as it seemed good to him. The spoilers, then, which had destroyed the whole produce of the land, were, as the Prophet declares, the messengers of God: it was not, he says, by chance that the locusts, or the cankerworms, or the chafers came; but God hired these soldiers, they were his forces and his army to distress the whole people; then famine and want consumed them. It is not then to no purpose that the Prophet mentions here that these destructive insects were God’s army; it is to show more fully what is here promised; for God, who had by this army devoured the whole increase of the land, can now easily restore plenty for the barrenness of past years. Now, when any one lays down his arms, the land is afterwards cultivated, and brings forth its usual fruit: so the Lord also now shows, that the land had been barren, because he had sent forth his army, which laid waste its whole produce. But now, he says, when I shall restore you to favor, there will be no army to devour your fruit: the land then will nourish you, for there will be nothing to prevent you to receive its wonted produce.

Had not the Jews been made assured that the land had been sterile, because the locusts, and the chafers, and the cankerworms, were the army which the Lord had prepared they might have ever dreaded these spoilers: “Surely the locusts will spring up, the chafers and the cankerworms will come, to devour all the fruit.” The Prophet shows that this happened not by chance: “Now then, when God shall be reconciled to you, the land will yield its increase, and nothing shall hinder you from enjoying its abundance.”

By calling this army great, he shows that God has no need of strong forces to subdue men; for when he prepares locusts and insects, which are but little things, they snatch food from the mouths of men and leave them in want; though no one puts forth a sword against them, they yet pine away with hunger. The Prophet then derides here the arrogance of men, and shows that God needs not do much, when he intends to reduce them to nothing. Let us now proceed —

He now concludes what he has hitherto said of God’s blessing. As the Jews were starving while God was offended, so he promises that when reconciled to him they should have abundance of produce from the land: Ye shall eat plentifully, he says, and satisfy yourselves. But he mentions also their gratitude; for it was an evidence of true repentance when they praised the name of God, whom they understood to be the giver of their abundance; for he had before proved that the land was under his power, when he consumed its whole substance, so that none of it came to supply the wants of man. Hence the Prophet exhorts them to give thanks, that they might thus declare that they from the heart repented. Ye shall then praise the name of Jehovah your God”. Why? “Because he will deal with you wonderfully. He takes away here every plea for ignorance. We know how difficult it is to lead men to do this act of religion, for which we yet confess that we were born; for what is more natural than to acknowledge God’s bounty towards us, when we enjoy many blessings? But yet, though God in various ways stimulates us, he cannot draw from us genuine gratitude. This is the reason why the Prophet now says, “God will deal with you wonderfully: though ye are stupid, God will yet by his power awaken you; for he will not deal with you in a common way.” He then mentions something miraculous, that he might leave to the Jews no excuse, in case they considered not God’s bounty and perceived not in this change, first, what they had deserved and then how merciful God had been to them: for this change could not have been ascribed to chance; nor was it a common thing, that when the Jews had been for four successive years nearly consumed with wants and when the enemy was at hand, they should see the land now fruitful, that they should see it freed from destructive insects, that they should be also at peace, and not disturbed by the dread of any foreign enemy. Since the Lord, then, would beyond hope give them a serene instead of a turbulent sky, should not such a wonderful change deeply affect them? This is what the Prophet now means, — “As the Lord will deal with you wonderfully, there will be no excuse for your torpidity, if ye will not be diligent in praising his name.”

Not ashamed, he says, shall my people be for ever. The Jews are here reminded by implication of their former disgrace; for they had been greatly confounded; though enemies touched them not, no, not even with their finger, they yet died through famine; an enemy was also prepared, as we have seen, to destroy them. They were therefore frightened with dread, and also perplexed with their own evils, by which God had almost worn them out. The Prophet says now, My people shall not be ashamed for ever, intimating that God would at length relieve his people from their evils, that they might not, as hitherto, be ashamed. He at last subjoins —

He repeats the same sentence; and in the beginning of the verse he unfolds what I have already said — that the miracle would be such as to constrain the people to praise God. Ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: and this was the case, because God showed not in an ordinary way his kindness to them, and especially because it had been foretold, and also because this reason had been adduced — that God was mindful of his covenant. The manner, then, in which he dealt with them, and farther, the prediction itself, left to the people no pretext for ignorance. Hence the Prophet now says, ‘Ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,’ and still more, ‘that I am Jehovah your God.’ By these words the Prophet reminds us, that the deliverance of the people from their evils was to be wholly ascribed to the gratuitous mercy of God; for we have already seen, that things would have been past hope, had not this consolation been added — ‘Turn ye even now to me.’ The Prophet therefore repeats, that there would be no other reason why God would deal so kindly with his people, and so mercifully spare them, but this — that he dwelt in the midst of Israel: but whence was this dwelling, except that God had gratuitously chosen this people? This indeed availed much to raise up the people; for how could they have hoped that God would be propitious to them, had they not been reminded of this truth that God was dwelling in the midst of them? Not because they were worthy, but because he deigned to come down to them.

He afterwards adds, And none else. By this sentence the Prophet more sharply stimulates them to return immediately to God; for if they deferred longer disappointment would be in delay. That the Jews, then, might not, after their usual manner, procrastinate, he says that there is no other God; and thus he shows that there was no remedy for their evils, except they sought to be reconciled to God. “There is then no God besides me, and I dwell in the midst of thee.” The Lord claims to himself every power, and then kindly invites the people to himself, and for this reason, — because he dwells in the midst of them. That the people, then, might not form other expectations, God shows that all their hope was in him alone. He farther shows, that salvation was not to be sought afar off, provided the people had not forgotten the covenant, that God was dwelling in the midst of them. But a higher doctrine follows —

We have explained why the Prophet began with earthly blessings. One may indeed think that this order is not regular; for Christ does not in vain remind us, that the kingdom of God ought to be first sought, and that other things shall be added in their place, (Matthew 6;) for food, and every thing that belongs to this frail life, are, as it were, additions to the spiritual life. But the Prophet designedly mentioned first the evidence of God’s favor in outward benefits; for we see how slow the perceptions of men are, and how slothful they are in seeking spiritual life. As, then, men rise to things above with so much difficulty, the Prophet makes use of the best helps; and we must indeed be dealt with as we usually deal with children. For as there is not so much discernment in them as to be influenced by reasons, we set before them what is suitable to their weak and simple comprehension; so the Prophet did; for he showed first that God would be kind to the Jews in food for the body, and having used this as a help, he then added, Afterwards I will pour my Spirit upon all flesh.

By these words the Prophet reminds us, that people act absurdly when they are satisfied with vanishing things, when they ask of God nothing more excellent than to be pampered like brute animals; for in what do the children of God differ from asses and dogs, except they aspire after spiritual life? The Prophet, then, after having set before them lower things, as though they were children, now brings before them a more solid doctrine, (for thus they were to be led,) and affords them a taste of the favor of God in its external signs. “Ascend, then, now,” he says, “to spiritual life: for the fountain is one and the same; though when earthly benefits occupy and engross your attention, ye no doubt pollute them. But God feeds you, not to fill and pamper you; for he would not have you to be like brute animals. Then know that your bodies are fed, and that God gives support to you, that ye may aspire after spiritual life; for he leads you to this as by the hand; be this then your object.” We now, then, understand why the Prophet did not at first speak of the spiritual grace of God; but he comes to it now. He began with temporal benefits, for it was needful that an untutored people should be thus led by degrees, that on account of their infirmity, sluggishness, and dullness, they might thus make better progress, until they understood that God would for this end be a Father to them.

As the particle גם gam amplifies in Hebrew, it seems singular that the Prophet now limits to a few a gift common to all; for he had previously said, “Upon all flesh will I pour out my Spirit;” and now, “Upon servants and handmaids;” and he puts down “Also”. If he had simply said “Upon servants and handmaids will I pour out my Spirit,” there would have been no inconsistency, for it would have been the explanation of his former statement; for we know that what the Prophet says of all men must be taken with exception, inasmuch as many who were unbelievers were without this gift, and even those who before excelled in some sort of divine knowledge; we indeed know that the Jews were blinded, and we also know that not all among the common people were partakers of this excellent gift. There is no doubt, therefore, but that this which is said of “all flesh,” must be limited to the Church. It would not, then, have appeared strange, had the Prophet now added, “Upon servants and handmaids;” but the particles וגם ugam, “And also,” create difficulty: it is a way of speaking to enlarge on what has been said, but here it seems not to enlarge; for to pour out the Spirit upon all the people, is more than to pour it out on servants and handmaids. The solution is twofold: the particles וגם ugam are sometimes to be taken confirmatively. ‘I have blessed him,’ said Isaac of his son Jacob, ‘and also blessed shall he be.’ So in this place we may take the words of the Prophet to be, yea surely, being a repetition serving to confirm what had been said: but I prefer another sense; for the Prophet, I doubt not, meant here to add something more incredible than what he had previously said, “Upon servants and maid-servants will I pour out my Spirit,” that is, even upon those who were before Prophets; for they shall be enriched with a new gift, and shall gain increasing knowledge after the restoration of the Church, which is now approaching. We apprehend this to be the meaning of the Prophet. He had promised the grace of the Spirit to the whole body of the faithful, which appears, as I have said, from comparing the ancient state with our own: but now, after having spoken of the mass or the common people, he comes to the Prophets, who were superior to others who before performed the office of teaching, who attained rank and degree in the Church; these also shall gain accessions; that is, “My Spirit shall not only be conspicuous in the ignorant and the common people, but also in the Prophets themselves.”

Surely it is a greater thing when they are taught who were before superior to others, and whom the Lord had set over the Church, and when they appear as new men, after having received a gift which the Lord had not previously conferred on them. When, therefore, new light appears in such men, it is certainly a greater thing than when the Spirit is poured out on the common people. We now then see the Prophet’s meaning as to the servants and the handmaids. 1212     However true in itself is what is here advanced, yet the exposition seems rather too refined, and what the passage does not require. The difficulty stated will vanish, when we consider that “all flesh” is a general expression, afterwards particularized and limited: and “and all flesh,” according to what is subsequently specified, evidently means all conditions of men, men in all states and of every age, and not the whole of mankind. “And also,” in verse 29, is very emphatical, as the persons afterwards mentioned were of the lowest grade, “servants and handmaids,” that is, slaves: and such were many of the first converts to Christianity. See Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11. Though the word for ‘servants’ does not necessarily mean those in a servile condition, yet it has that meaning. The same is true of the word for handmaids. Hagar, expressly called a bondwoman by Paul, is called by this name, Genesis 16:1. And to view the words as signifying slaves, would make the prophecy more striking, as being literally fulfilled at the first promulgation of the Gospel.

He then repeats, In those days, intimating that so sudden and incredible the change will be, that Prophets will seem to have been before untaught men; for a much more excellent doctrine shall be given them. Then God shall so pour out his Spirits that all the ancient prophecies will appear obscure and of no value, compared with the great and extraordinary light which Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, will bring at his rising. And he mentions “handmaids”, for there were, we know, Prophetesses under the Law. Let us now go on —

The Prophet seems here to contradict himself; for he had hitherto promised that God would deal kindly and bountifully with his people; and every thing he has said tended to elevate the spirits of the people and fill them with joy: but now he seems again to threaten them with God’s wrath and to strike miserable men with fear; who had not as yet a breathing time; for at the time the Prophet spoke, the Jews, we know, were in the greatest sorrow. What then is his purpose in adding a new cause of grief, as though they had not sorrow and lamentation enough? But it is rather an admonition than a threatening. The Prophet warns them of what would be, lest the faithful should promise themselves some happy condition in this world, and an exemption from all cares and troubles; for we know how prone men are to self-indulgence. When God promises any thing, they flatter themselves and harbor vain thoughts, as though they were beyond the reach of harm, and free from every grief and every evil. Such indulgence the flesh contrives for itself. Hence the Prophet reminds us, that though God would bountifully feed his Church, supply his people with food, and testify by external tokens his paternal love, and though also he would pour out his Spirit, (a token far more remarkable,) yet the faithful would continue to be distressed with many troubles; for God designs not to deal too delicately with his Church on earth; but when he gives tokens of his kindness he at the same time mingles some exercises for patience, lest the faithful should become self-indulgent or sleep on earthly blessings, but that they may ever seek higher things.

We now then understand the Prophet’s design: he intends not to threaten the faithful, but rather to warn them, lest they should deceive themselves with empty dreams, or expect what is never to be, that is, to enjoy a happy rest in this world. Besides, the Prophet regards also another thing: we know indeed that men are hardly led to seek the grace of God, except when they are, as it were, forcibly drawn; hence spiritual life is neglected, and whatever belongs to the celestial kingdom, when we have all kinds of supplies on earth. The Prophet then commends here the spiritual grace of which he speaks, for this reason, — that the condition of men would be miserable, were not the Lord to exhilarate their minds and refresh them with the comfort which we have already noticed. — How so? There will be prodigies in heaven and on earth, the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, and all things shall be in disorder and in horrible darkness. What then would become of men, were not God to shine on them by the grace of his Spirit, to support them under such a confusion in heaven and on earth, and to show himself to be their Father?

We then see that this was added for the fuller commendation of God’s grace, that men might know, that they would be much more miserable if God called them not to himself by the shining light of his Spirit. And that this was the Prophet’s design, we may learn from the discourse of Christ, which he made to his disciples a short time before his death. They asked what would be the sign of his coming, when he reminded them of the destruction of the temple, (Matthew 24:3-25:46). They thought that he would immediately accomplish that triumph of which they had heard, that they would be made participators of that eternal beatitude of which Christ had so often spoken to them. Christ then warned them not to be deluded with so gross a notion. He spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem, and then declared that all these things would be only the presages of evils — “These,” he says, “shall be only the preludes; for tumults will arise, wars shall be, and all places will be full of calamities; in a word, there will be an immense mass of all evils.” As Christ then corrected the mistake, with which the minds of the disciples were imbued, so the Prophet here checks vain imaginations, lest the faithful should think that Christ’s kingdom would be earthly, and fix their minds on corn and wine, on pleasures and quietness, on the conveniences of the present life: I will give you, he says, prodigies in heaven and on earth blood, fire, and dark clouds; the sun all be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before it shall come the day of Jehovah, great and terrible

We now see why the Prophet adds here this sad catalogue, and how well these things harmonize together, — that God would testify his paternal love by the manifestation of Christ, — and that he would exhibit tokens of his wrath, which would fill the whole world with anxiety and fear.

What he says of blood and darkness is, no doubt, to be taken metaphorically for a disordered state of things; for we know that calamities are often compared to obscurity and darkness. It is the same as though he said, “So great will be the succession of evils, that the whole order of nature will seem to be subverted that the very elements will put on a new form; the sun, which illuminates the earth, will be turned into darkness, the moon into blood; the calamities which shall come will take away every token of God’s kindness. Then nothing will remain, but that men, sunk, as it were, in the deepest abyss of all evils, will seek some spark of grace from God and never find it; for heaven will be dark, the earth will be covered with thick darkness.” We then see that the Prophet does not express what would be, word for word, nor is he to be understood as speaking, as they say, literally, but he uses a figurative mode of speaking, by which he sets forth such a dreadful state of things, that the very elements would put on a new appearance; for the sun would not any more perform its office, and the moon would refuse its light to the earth. As God, then, would take away all tokens of his favor, so the Prophet, by blood, by darkness and by dark clouds, sets forth metaphorically that sorrows by which the minds of men would necessarily be possessed.

Now if any one asks, why by the coming of Christ was God’s wrath more stirred up against men? for this may seem to be without reason. To this I answer, that it was, as it were accidental: for if Christ had been received as he ought to have been, if all embraced him with due reverence, he would have certainly been the giver, not only of spiritual grace, but also of earthly happiness. The felicity of all, then, would have in every respect been made complete by the coming of Christ, had not their wickedness and ingratitude kindled up anew the wrath of God; and we see what a flood of evils burst forth immediately after the preaching of the gospel. Now when we consider how severely God afflicted his people formerly, we cannot but say that much heavier have been the calamities inflicted on the world since the manifestation of Christ, — whence this? Even because the world’s ingratitude had arrived to its highest point, as indeed it is at this day: for the light of the gospel has gone forth again, and God has exhibited himself to the world as a Father, and we see how great is the wickedness and perversity of men in rejecting the gifts of God; we see some contemptuously rejecting the Gospel, and others impelled by satanic fury to resist the doctrine of Christ; we see them making a boast of their blasphemies, and we see them kindled with cruel rage and breathing slaughters against the children of God; we see the world full of ungodly men and of the despisers of God; we see an awful contempt of God’s grace prevailing everywhere: we see such an unbridled licentiousness in wickedness, that it ought to make us ashamed of ourselves and weary of our life. Since, then, the world is so ungrateful for such a favor, is it a wonder that God should show more dreadful tokens of his vengeance? For certainly at this day, when we closely examine the condition of the world, we find that all are miserable, and even those who applaud themselves, and whom the world admire as semigods. How can it be otherwise? The common people, doubtless, groan under their miseries, and that because God thus punishes the contempt of his grace, which he has again offered to us, and which is so unworthily rejected. Inasmuch, then, as so base an ingratitude on the part of men has provoked God’s wrath, it is no wonder that the sound of his scourges is everywhere heard: for the servant who knows his lord’s will and does it not, is worthy, as Christ declares, of heavier stripes, (Luke 12.) And what happens through the whole world is, that after God has shone by his gospel, after Christ has everywhere proclaimed reconciliation, they now openly fall away, and show that they prefer having God angry than propitious to them: for when the gospel is rejected, what else is it but to declare war against God, and to scorn and not to receive the reconciliation which God is ready to give, and of which he treats of his own accord with men?

It is then no wonder that the Prophet says here, that the world would be full of darkness after the appearance of Christ, who is the Sun of Righteousness, and who has shone upon us with his salvation: but it was, as it were, accidental, that God exhibited himself with so much severity to the world, when yet it was the acceptable time, when it was the day of salvation and of good-will; for the world suffered not that to be fulfilled which God had promised to us by the Prophet Joel, nor received the Spirit of adoption, when they might have safely fled to God; nay, when God was ready to cherish them in his own bosom. But since they were refractory and untractable, it was necessary for God to visit such perverseness in an unusual manner. It is no wonder then that the Prophet says, that in those days there shall be prodigies in heaven and on earth, for the sun shall be turned into darkness, etc., before it shall come the day of Jehovah, great and terrible

It may be asked what day the Prophet refers to: for he has hitherto spoken of the first coming of Christ; and there seems to be some inconsistency in this place. I answer, that the Prophet includes the whole kingdom of Christ, from the beginning to the end; and this is well understood, and in other places we have stated that the Prophets common speak in this manner: for when the discourse is concerning Christ’s kingdom, they sometimes refer to its commencement only, and sometimes they speak of its termination; but they often mark out by one delineation the whole course of the kingdom of Christ, from its beginning to its end; and such is the case here. The Prophet, by saying, ‘After those days I will pour out my Spirit,’ no doubt meant that this, as we have explained, would be fulfilled when Christ should commence his kingdom, and make it known through the teaching of the gospel: Christ poured out then his Spirit. But as the kingdom of Christ is not for a few days, or for a short time, but continues its course to the end of the word, the Prophet turns his attention to that day or that time, and says, “There shall, in the meanwhile, be the greatest calamities: and whosoever shall not flee to the grace of God shall be very miserable; they shall never find rest nor comfort, nor the light of life, for the world shall be sunk in darkness; and God shall take away from the sun, the moon, the elements, and all other aids, the tokens of his favor; and he will show himself everywhere to be angry and offended with men.” The Prophet further shows, that these evils of which he speaks would not be for a few days or a few years, but perpetual; ‘Before,’ he says, ‘the day of Jehovah, great and terrible, shall come.’ In short, he means that all the scourges of God, which he had hitherto mentioned, would be, as it were, preparations to subdue the hearts of men, that they might with reverence and submission receive Christ. As, therefore, men carry by nature a high spirit, and cannot bend their neck to recede the yoke of Christ, hence the Prophet says here that they were to be subdued by severe scourges, when God would remove all evidences of his love, and fill heaven and earth with dread. Thus, then, he would in a manner change the hardness and contumacy which is innate in men, that they might know that they had to do with God. And, at the same time, the Prophet reminds them, that unless they were amended by these scourges, something more dreadful remained for them, — the Judge would at last come from heaven, not only to clothe the sun and moon in darkness, but to turn life into death. It would, indeed, be far better for the reprobate to die a hundred times than always to live and thus to sustain eternal death in life itself.

The Prophet then means, that men persisting in their obstinacy shall meet with something more grievous and more ruinous than the evils of this life, for they must all at last stand before the tribunal of the celestial Judge: for the day of Jehovah, great and terrible, will come. He refers, in this sentence, to unbelievers and rebels against God; for when Christ shall come, he will be a Redeemer to the godly; no day in their whole life will shine on them so pleasantly; so far will this day be from bringing terror and fear to them, that they are bidden, while expecting it, to lift up their heads, which is a token of cheerfulness and joy. But as the Prophet Joel’s object was to humble the confident pride of the flesh, and as he addressed the refractory and the rebellious, it is no wonder that he sets before them what is terrific and dreadful.

We said yesterday that the Prophet denounced future calamities, that he might thus stimulate men, distressed by many evils, to seek God: we indeed know how tardy we are by nature, except the Lord goads us continually. The subject, then, on which we discoursed yesterday tended to show, that as so many and so grievous calamities would press on the Jews, all would be miserable who fled not to God, and that this consolation only would remain to them in their extreme evils: but now the Prophet seasonably adds, Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered. Having then stimulated men to seek God, he now gives them firm assurance of being saved, provided they in sincerity and from the heart fled to God.

This is indeed a remarkable passage, for God declares that the invocation of his name in a despairing condition is a sure port of safety. What the Prophet had said was certainly dreadful, — that the whole order of nature would be so changed, that no spark of light would appear, and that all places would be filled with darkness. What, therefore, he says now is the same as though he declared, that if men called on the name of God, life would be found in the grave. They who seem to be even in despair, and from whom God seems to have taken away every hope of grace, provided they call on the name of God, will be saved, as the Prophet declares, though they be in so great a despair, and in so deep an abyss. This circumstance ought to be carefully noticed; for if any one takes this sentence of the Prophet by itself, though then it would not be frigid, it would not yet be so striking; but when these two things are joined together, — that God will be the judge of the world, who will not spare the wickedness of men, but will execute dreadful vengeance, — and that yet salvation will be given to all who will call on the name of the Lord, we see how efficacious the promise is; for God offers life to us in death, and light in the darkest grave.

There is, therefore, great importance in the expression, והיה ueie, ‘Then it shall be;’ for the copulative is to be regarded as an adverb of time, ‘Then whosoever shall invoke the name of the Lord,’ etc. And he uses the word “deliver;” for it was needful to show that the saved differ nothing from the lost. Had the Prophet used the word “preserve,” he would have spoken less distinctly; but now when he promises deliverance, he bids us to set up this shield against trials even the heaviest; for God possesses power sufficiently great to deliver us, provided only we call on him.

We now then understand what the Prophet had in view: He shows that God would have us to call on him not only in prosperity, but also in the extreme state of despair. It is the same as though God had called to himself the dead, and declared that it was in his power to restore life to them and bring them out of the grave. Since then God invites here the lost and the dead, there is no reason why even the heaviest distresses should preclude an access for us or for our prayers; for we ought to break through all these obstacles. The more grievous, then, our troubles are, the more confidence we ought to entertain; for God offers his grace, not only to the miserable, but also to those in utter despair. The Prophet did not threaten a common evil to the Jews, but declared that by the coming of Christ all things would be full of horror: after this denunciation he now subjoins, ‘Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered.’

But as Paul cites this place in Romans 10, and extends it to the Gentiles, we must inquire in what sense he takes the testimony of the Prophet. Paul means to prove that adoption was common to the Gentiles, that it was lawful for them to flee to God, and familiarly to invoke him as a Father: ‘Whosoever,’ he says, ‘shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ He hence proves that the Gospel ought to have been preached even to the Gentiles, as invocation arises from faith: for except God shines on us by his word, we cannot come to him; faith, then, is ever the mother of prayer. Paul seems to lay stress on the universal particle, Whosoever; as though he said, that Joel did not speak of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles, that he testified that God would indiscriminately, and without exception, receive all who would seek him. But Paul appears to misapply the Prophet’s words; for Joel no doubt addresses here the people, to whom he was appointed as a teacher and prophet. What Paul then applies generally to all mankind seems not to have been so intended by the Prophet. But to this there is an easy answer; for the Prophets after having spoken of the kingdom of Christ, had no doubt this truth in view, that the blessing in the seed of Abraham had been promised to all nations; and when he afterwards described the miserable state in which the whole world would be, he certainly meant to rouse even the Gentiles, who had been aliens from the Church, to seek God in common with his elect people: the promise, then, which immediately follows, is also addressed to the Gentiles, otherwise there would be no consistency in the discourse of the Prophet. We therefore see that Paul most fitly accommodates this place to his subject: for the main thing to be held is this, that the blessing in Christ was promised not only to the children of Abraham but also to all the Gentiles. When, therefore, the Prophet describes the kingdom of Christ, it is no wonder that he addresses the Jews and Gentiles in common: and then, what he said of the state of the world, that it would be full of horrible darkness, undoubtedly refers, not to the Jews only, but also to the Gentiles. Why was this done, except to show that nothing else remains for them but to flee to God? We then see that an access is here opened to the Gentiles that they may with one consent call on God together with the Jews.

If there is promised salvation and deliverance to all who shall call on the name of the Lord, it follows as Paul reasons that the doctrine of the Gospel belongs to the Gentiles also; for their mouths must have otherwise been closed, yea, and the mouths of us all: had not God himself anticipated us by his word, and exhorted us to pray, we must have been dumb. It would have been a great presumption in us to present ourselves before God, except he had given us confidence and promised to hear us. If then the liberty of praying is common to all, it follows that the doctrine of salvation is common to all. We must now also add, that as deliverance is promised to all who shall call on the name of God, his own power is taken from God, when salvation is sought in any other but in him alone: and we know that this is an offering which he claims exclusively for himself. If, then, we desire to be delivered, the only remedy is, to call on the name of Jehovah.

He afterwards adds, For in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as Jehovah has promised. The Prophet here intimates, that though the people might seem apparently to have been destroyed, yet God would be mindful of his covenant so as to gather the remnant. Such, indeed, was the slaughter of the people, that no hope whatever, according to the flesh, remained; for they were scattered through various parts of the world; there was no social body, no distinct nation, no civil government, no worship of God. Who, then, could have thought that the Church of God would survive? Nay, the probability was, that after thirty or fifty years, the name of Abraham and of his seed would have become wholly extinct; for they had joined in one body with the Chaldees and the Assyrians. That scattering then was, as it were, the death of the whole nation. But God, by Joel, declares here, that there would yet be deliverance in mount Zion and in Jerusalem; that is, “Though I shall for a time exterminate this people, that the land may remain desolate, there shall yet be a restoration, and I will again gather a certain body, a Church, on mount Zion and in Jerusalem.” This is the substance.

We learn from this place, that however much God may afflict his Church, it will yet be perpetuated in the world; for it can no more be destroyed than the very truth of God, which is eternal and immutable. God indeed promises, not only that the state of the Church shall be perpetual, but that there will be, as long as the sun and moon shall shine in heaven, some people on earth to call on his name. Since it is so, it follows, that the Church cannot be utterly subverted or wholly perish, however severely and heavily the Lord may chastise it. However great then the scattering of the Church may be, the Lord will yet gather members, that there may be a people on earth to show, that he who is in heaven is true and faithful to his promises. And this truth deserves a careful attention; for when we see the Church scattered, immediately this doubt creeps into our minds, “Does God intend wholly to destroy all his people, — does he mean to exterminate all the seed of the faithful?” Then let this passage be remembered, “In mount Zion there will be deliverance,” after the Lord shall have punished the profane despisers of his name, who abused his patience, and falsely professed his name.

But he adds, As Jehovah has promised, which serves for confirmation; for the Prophet bids us here to regard God rather than our own state. When indeed we believe our eyes, we cannot but think sometimes that it is all over with the Church; for when God inflicts heavy punishment on his servants, there seems to us no remedy; and when we believe the diseases of the Church to be incurable, our hearts immediately fail us, except God’s promise comes to our minds. Hence the Prophet recalls our thoughts to God, as though he had said, “Judge not of the safety of the Church by sight, but stand and rely on the word of God: he has spoken, he has said, that the Church shall be perpetual.” Let us plant our foot on this promise, and never doubt but that the Lord will perform what he has declared.

But it is subjoined by the Prophet as a sort of correction, And in the remnant whom Jehovah shall call: and it was necessary to state this distinctly, lest hypocrites, as they usually do, abuse what had been said. They who occupy high stations in the Church, and pass in name for the children of God, swell, we know, with great confidences and boldly trifle with God; for they think that he is bound to them, when they make a show either of external badges or of profession, in which they glory before men: they think this display sufficient. We may indeed gather from many parts of Scripture, that the Jews were inflated with this false presumption of the flesh, that they imagined God to be bound to them. Hence the Prophet shows, that he did not address all the Jews indiscriminately, because many of them were spurious children of Abraham, and had become degenerated. If then under this pretense alone they wished to lay hold on the promise of salvation, the Prophet shows that they were excluded from the Church of God, since they were not legitimate children, after having departed from the faith and piety of their father Abraham. He therefore mentions remnant: and by this word be means, in short, that the whole multitude could not be saved, but only a small number.

When therefore we speak of the salvation of the Church, we ought not to gather into one bundle all who profess themselves to be the children of God; for we see that hardly one in a hundred worship God in truth and without hypocrisy, for the greater part abuse his name. We see, at this day, how dishonest is the boasting of the Papists; for they think that the Church of God dwells among them, and they scorn us because we are few. When we say that the Church of God is to be known by the word and the pure administration of the sacraments, “Indeed,” they say, “could God have forsaken so many people among whom the gospel has been preached?” They think that after Christ has been once made known, his grace remains fixed, and cannot by any means be taken away whatever may be the impiety of men. Since then the Papists so shamefully lay claim to the name of Church, because they are many in number, it is no wonder that the Prophet, who had the same contest with the Jews and Israelites, had here expressly mentioned a remnant; as though he said, “In vain do the ungodly boast of God’s name, since he regards them not as his people.” The same truth we observe in Psalm 15, and in Psalm 24; where the citizens of the Church are described; they are not those who pride themselves on external symbols, but who worship God with a sincere heart, and deal honestly with their neighbors; such dwell on the mountain of God. It was not a difficult thing for hypocrites to thrust themselves into the sanctuary, and to present there their sacrifices to God; but the Prophet shows that none are owned by God, but those who have a sincere heart and pure hands. So also in this place Joel says, that this Church indeed would be saved, but not the vast multitude, — who then? the remnant only.

But the clause which follows must be noticed, Whom Jehovah shall call. We have already seen that the Church of God consists often of a very small number; for God counts not any his children, but those who devote themselves sincerely and from the heart to his service, as Paul says ‘Whosoever calls on the name of God, let him depart from iniquity;’ and many such are not found in the world.

But it is not enough to hold, that the Church of God is only in the remnant; it must be also added that the remnant abide in God’s Church for no other reason but that the Lord has called them. Whence then is it that there is a portion in the Church, which shall remain safe, while the whole world seems to be doomed to destruction? It is from the calling of God. And there is no doubt but that the Prophet means by the word, call, gratuitous election. The Lord is indeed often said to call men, when he invites them by the voice of his gospel; but there is what surpasses that, a hidden call, when God destines for himself those whom he purposes to save. There is then an inward call, which dwells in the secret counsel of God; and then follows the call, by which he makes us really the partakers of his adoption. Now the Prophet means, that those who will be the remnant shall not stand by their own power, but because they have been called from above, that is, elected. But that the election of God is not to be separated from the outward call, I allow; and yet this order ought to be maintained, that God, before he testifies his election to men, adopts them first to himself in his own secret counsel. The meaning is, that calling is here opposed to all human merits, and also to virtue and human efforts; as though he said, “Men attain not this for themselves, that they continue a remnant and are safe, when God visits the sins of the world; but they are preserved by his grace alone, because they have been chosen.” Paul also speaks of the remnant in Romans 11, and wisely considers that passage, ‘I have kept for myself seven thousand.’ [1 Kings 19:18.]

It is then God’s peculiar province to keep those who fail not: and hence Paul says that they are the remnant of grace; for if God’s mercy were taken away, there would be no remnant among the whole human race. All, we indeed know, are worthy of death, without any difference: it is therefore the election of God alone which makes the difference between some and others. Thus we see that the gratuitous goodness of God is extolled by the Prophet, when he says that a remnant shall be saved, who shall be called by the Lord: for it is not in the power of men to keep themselves unless they are elected; and the gratuitous goodness of God is the security as it were of their salvation. Now follows —




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