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3. Judah's Complaint

I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. 2He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light. 3Surely against me is he turned; he turneth his hand against me all the day. 4My flesh and my skin hath he made old; he hath broken my bones. 5He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travail. 6He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old. 7He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out: he hath made my chain heavy. 8Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer. 9He hath inclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked. 10He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places. 11He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces: he hath made me desolate. 12He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow. 13He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins. 14I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day. 15He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood. 16He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes. 17And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity. 18And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord: 19Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. 20My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. 21This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.

22 It is of the Lord’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. 24The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. 25The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. 26 It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. 27 It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. 28He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. 29He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope. 30He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach. 31For the Lord will not cast off for ever: 32But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. 33For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. 34To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth, 35To turn aside the right of a man before the face of the most High, 36To subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approveth not. 37Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not? 38Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good? 39Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins? 40Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord. 41Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens. 42We have transgressed and have rebelled: thou hast not pardoned. 43Thou hast covered with anger, and persecuted us: thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied. 44Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through. 45Thou hast made us as the offscouring and refuse in the midst of the people. 46All our enemies have opened their mouths against us. 47Fear and a snare is come upon us, desolation and destruction. 48Mine eye runneth down with rivers of water for the destruction of the daughter of my people. 49Mine eye trickleth down, and ceaseth not, without any intermission, 50Till the Lord look down, and behold from heaven. 51Mine eye affecteth mine heart because of all the daughters of my city. 52Mine enemies chased me sore, like a bird, without cause. 53They have cut off my life in the dungeon, and cast a stone upon me. 54Waters flowed over mine head; then I said, I am cut off. 55I called upon thy name, O Lord, out of the low dungeon. 56Thou hast heard my voice: hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry. 57Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not. 58O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life. 59O Lord, thou hast seen my wrong: judge thou my cause. 60Thou hast seen all their vengeance and all their imaginations against me. 61Thou hast heard their reproach, O Lord, and all their imaginations against me; 62The lips of those that rose up against me, and their device against me all the day. 63Behold their sitting down, and their rising up; I am their musick.

64Render unto them a recompence, O Lord, according to the work of their hands. 65Give them sorrow of heart, thy curse unto them. 66Persecute and destroy them in anger from under the heavens of the Lord.

To conversion he joins prayer; for we cannot be reconciled to God except he buries our sins; nor can repentance and faith be separated. Moreover, to taste of God’s mercy opens to us the door of prayer. And this ought to be carefully noticed, because the unbelieving seem at times to be very busy in seeking to return to God’s favor, but they only attend to the outward change of life; and at the same time they are not anxious about pardon, but go boldly before God, as though they were not exposed to his judgment.

And we see under the Papacy that while they make long sermons on repentance, they hardly ever make any account of faith, as though repentance without faith were a restoration from death to life.

Hence I said that we ought to notice the mode of teaching which our Prophet adopts: he begins with self-examination, then he requires conversion; but he does not separate it from faith. For when he exhorts us to pray, it is the same thing as though he had set before us the judgment of God, and had also taught us that we cannot escape death except God be propitious to us. How then is pardon to be obtained? by prayer: and prayer, as it is well known, must be always founded on faith.

By telling us to raise up our hearts to God together with our hands, he bids us to banish all hypocrisy from our prayers. For all without a difference raise up their hands to God; and nature itself, when we are pressed down with evils, leads us to seek God. But the greater part stifle this feeling of nature. When affliction comes, it is a common thing with all to raise up their hands to heaven, though no one should bid them to do so; but still their hearts remain fixed on the earth, and they come not to God. And the greater part of men are included in that class mentioned by Isaiah,

“This people come to me with their tongue,
but their heart is far away.” (Isaiah 29:13.)

As, then, men deal thus formally with God, and present a naked ceremony, as though God had changed and suffered his eyes to be covered, the Prophet bids all dissimulation to cease from prayer; Let us raise up hands, he says, to God, and also hearts. Joel speaks somewhat differently, when he says,

“Rend your hearts and not your garments,” (Joel 2:13;)

for he seems to exclude the outward rite, because men, wishing to shew that they were guilty before God, rent their garments. Joel says that this was superfluous and useless; and doubtless the rite itself was not so very necessary. But as prayers, when they are earnest, move the hands, our Prophet refers to that practice as useful. At the same time he teaches us that the chief thing ought not to be omitted, even to raise up the hearts to God: Let us, then, he says, raise up our hearts together with our hands to God; and he adds, to God who is in heaven: for it is necessary that men should rise up above the world, and to go out of themselves, so to speak, in order to come to God.

We now then understand the meaning of the Prophet, — that those who repent from the heart ought not to go before God, as though they were not guilty before his tribunal, but that on the contrary they ought to be penitent and humble, so that they may obtain pardon. He afterwards shews that the right way of praying is, when we not only perform the outward ceremonies, but when we open our hearts and raise them up as it were to heaven itself. It is, then, the right way of praying, when the inward feeling corresponds with the external posture. It follows, —


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