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57. God's Accusation Against Wicked

The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. 2He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.

3But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore. 4Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood, 5Enflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree, slaying the children in the valleys under the clifts of the rocks? 6Among the smooth stones of the stream is thy portion; they, they are thy lot: even to them hast thou poured a drink offering, thou hast offered a meat offering. Should I receive comfort in these? 7Upon a lofty and high mountain hast thou set thy bed: even thither wentest thou up to offer sacrifice. 8Behind the doors also and the posts hast thou set up thy remembrance: for thou hast discovered thyself to another than me, and art gone up; thou hast enlarged thy bed, and made thee a covenant with them; thou lovedst their bed where thou sawest it. 9And thou wentest to the king with ointment, and didst increase thy perfumes, and didst send thy messengers far off, and didst debase thyself even unto hell. 10Thou art wearied in the greatness of thy way; yet saidst thou not, There is no hope: thou hast found the life of thine hand; therefore thou wast not grieved. 11And of whom hast thou been afraid or feared, that thou hast lied, and hast not remembered me, nor laid it to thy heart? have not I held my peace even of old, and thou fearest me not? 12I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works; for they shall not profit thee.

13When thou criest, let thy companies deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take them: but he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain; 14And shall say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumblingblock out of the way of my people. 15For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. 16For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made. 17For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. 18I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners. 19I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him. 20But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. 21 There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.

3. And draw near, ye sons of the sorceress. After having spoken of the happy and peaceful death of good men, he breaks out with very great vehemence against the wicked, who did not cease to lead a base and shameful life, and were not moved by the death of believers. As he had said that good men enjoy peace, so he threatens that the wicked shall have ceaseless war. He taught that to the holy servants of God death shall even be like a hiding-place, to shelter them from the whirlwind, and storm, and other tempests, that he might threaten the worst of evils against the obstinate despisers of God. Here we ought to observe the contrast, between good men who walk before God, and the wicked, who cease not rebelliously to resist God. The former shall enjoy peace when they die; the latter shall have no peace during life, and shall feel dreadful torments in death.

He orders them to come forth to the judgment­seat of God, which they hope that they will be able to escape by their disguises; and therefore he affirms that they gain nothing by their refusal, for they shall be dragged against their will. The more hardened they were, the sharper were the excitements that must be applied to them; and therefore the harshness of the Prophet could not be excessive, either in arousing their stupidity, or in casting down their pride. And indeed it is well known how insolent was the vanity of the Jews on account of their genealogy; for which reason the prophets frequently beat down their haughtiness and pride, and affirmed that they were not the children of Abraham, because they were bastards and traitors.

On this account Isaiah calls them “the seed of the adulterous and the whore.” In like manner Ezekiel reproaches them, “Thy father is an Amorite; thy mother a Hittite.” (Ezekiel 16:3) Similar forms of expression are found ill many parts of Scripture. Thus he beats down their intolerable hardihood, and drags them forward unwillingly and reluctantly, that they might not think that they could escape the judgment­seat of God.

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