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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.

5. Inflaming yourselves. Others render it, “Taking delight” or “consolation;” but the Prophet makes use of a metaphor which is often found in Scripture, and which is exceedingly adapted to the present subject; for the Lord compares the ardor by which idolaters are hurried along to the love of a harlot, by which poor wretched men are inflamed so as to be transported with blind eagerness. (Jeremiah 3:1; Hosea 2:2; 4:5) Idolaters have no moderation, and do not permit themselves to be reclaimed from their madness by any arguments. In the sight of God idolatry is a very base kind of fornication.

Under the oaks, or, with the gods. Some translate אלים (elim) “gods,” and others “oaks.” 109109     See Commentary on Isaiah, Vol. 1, p. 84, n. 1. I leave every one at liberty to adopt either reading; for the meaning will always be the same, and commentators are agreed that the Prophet condemns idolatry. I do not dispute, therefore, about the reading; though it is probable that the same thing is twice repeated, in accordance with the practice of Hebrew writers, in a particular and in a general form, and yet that the Prophet, by means of an ambiguous word, alludes to “the gods.”

Sacrificing children. Here he bears still harder on the Jews, and shows that they are not the true seed of Abraham; seeing that they pollute themselves with superstitions of every kind. In consequence of the delight which the Jews took in such practices, he exposes their vileness. “You shelter yourselves, indeed, under the name of religion, but I declare that you commit fornication with idols.” In this manner it was proper to expose and freely to point out that wickedness which base and malicious men endeavor to cloak under various pretenses; and thus the Prophet boldly discharges his duty by summoning men to the judgment­seat of God, and holding them to be guilty, though they wish to take every method of excusing themselves. He shows that they are treacherous, and have departed from the law of God by abominable idolatry, and mentions one kind of shocking and even accursed and monstrous worship; namely, the “sacrificing of children,” from which it is very evident how powerful is the spirit of error, when men have once turned aside from God. Satan seizes their minds (2 Thessalonians 2:9) in such a manner that he drives them altogether to madness and rage. They who do not hesitate to slay their children, as if on the ground of its being a righteous sacrifice, must be in a state of furious madness.

And yet those cruel murderers of their children did not want some pretense; for they cloaked their crime under the example of Abraham, who did. not spare (Genesis 22:16) his only­begotten son; and the ancient Hebrew writers pronounce it to have been (κακοζηλία) a wicked imitation “If we are Abraham’s descendants, we ought not to spare our children.” But Abraham did this (Genesis 22:2) by the command of God; while they did it of their own accord, and without God’s command. It was an extraordinary example, by which the Lord intended to try and attest Abraham’s faith. Besides, Isaac was not sacrificed; for the Lord was satisfied with Abraham’s cheerful and ready will. (Genesis 22:12) They slew their children. It was, therefore, a perverse and damnable imitation, for they differed widely from their father This should be carefully observed; for a large portion of superstitions has proceeded from this source of (κακοζηλία) wicked imitation. Men have rashly and without discrimination seized on everything that was done by the fathers.

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