The Commentaries of John Calvin on the Prophet Hosea.


Commentaries on the Twelve Minor Prophets

by John Calvin

Now first translated from the original Latin by the Rev. John Owen,
vicar of Thrussington, Leicestershire

Volume First, Hosea

Wm. M. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, 1950, Michigan.
Printed in the United States of America



Table of Contents

Translator's preface
Postscript
Portrait of Calvin
The Epistle Dedicatory
John Calvin to the Christian Reader, health.
John Budaeus, to Christian Readers, health.
John Crispin to Christian Readers, health.
The Commentaries of John Calvin on the Prophet Hosea.
Commentaries on the prophet Hosea









Translator's preface

    Prejudice has often deprived many of advantages which they
might have otherwise derived: and this has been much the case with
respect to The Works of Calvin; they have been almost entirely
neglected for a long time, owing to impressions unfavourable to the
Author. In his own and the succeeding age, the authority of Calvin
as a Divine, and especially as an Expounder of Scripture, was very
high, and higher than that of any of the Reformers. Though an
eminent writer of the present day, Dr D'Aubigne, has pronounced
Melanchthon "the Theologian of the Reformation," yet there is
sufficient reason to ascribe that distinction to Calvin; and to him,
no doubt, it more justly belongs, than to any other of the many
illustrious men whom God raised up during that memorable period.

    It is not difficult to account for what happened to our author.
Various things combined to depreciate his repute. In this country
his views on Church government created in many a prejudice against
him; and then the progress of a theological system, not more
contrary to what he held than to what our own Reformers maintained,
increased this prejudice; and where the former ground of difference
and dislike did not exist, the latter prevailed: so that, generally
in our Church, and among Dissenting bodies, the revered name of
Calvin has been regarded with no feelings of affection, or even of
respect; no discrimination being exercised, and no distinction being
made between his great excellencies as an Expounder of Scripture,
and his peculiar views on Church discipline, and on the doctrine of
Predestination.
    
    On the Continent other things operated against his reputation.
Popery owed him a deep grudge; for no one of the Reformers probed
the depths of its iniquities with so much discrimination, and with
such an unsparing hand as he did. His remarkably acute mind enabled
him to do this most effectually; and there is much on this subject
in the present work, which renders it especially valuable at this
period, when Popery makes such efforts to spread its errors and
delusions. The two weapons which he commonly employed were Scripture
and common sense, - weapons ever dreaded by Popery; and to blunt
their edge has at all times been its attempt, the first, by vain
tradition, and the other, by implicit faith, not in God, or in God's
word, but in a palpably degenerated Church. But these weapons Calvin
wielded with no common skill, dexterity, and power, being deeply
versed in Scripture, and endued with no ordinary share of sound and
penetrating judgement. In addition to this, his doctrinal views were
diametrically opposed to those of Popery, and especially to the
papal system, as modified by and concentrated in Jesuitism, which
may be considered to be the most perfect form of Popery. For these
reasons, the Writings of Calvin could not have been otherwise than
extremely obnoxious to the adherents of the Church of Rome: and the
consequence has been, that they spared no efforts to vilify his
name, and to lessen his reputation.
    
    The first writer of eminence and acknowledged learning in this
country, who has done any thing like justice to Calvin, was Bishop
Horsley; and when we consider the very strong prejudice which at
that time prevailed almost in all quarters against Calvin, to
vindicate his character was no ordinary proof of moral courage.
There were, no doubt, some points in which the two were very like.
They both possessed minds of no common strength and vigour, and
minds discriminating no less than vigorous. In clearness of
perception, also, they had few equals; so that no one needs hardly
ever read a passage in the writings of either twice over in order to
understand its meaning. But probably the most striking point of
likeness was their independence of mind. They thought for
themselves, without being swayed by authority either ancient or
modern, and acknowledged no rule and no authority in religion but
that which is divine. The Bishop had more imagination, but the
Pastor of Geneva had a sounder judgement. Hence the Bishop,
notwithstanding his strong mind and great acuteness, was sometimes
led away by what was plausible and novel; but Calvin was ever sober
minded and judicious, and whatever new view he gives to a passage,
it is commonly well supported, and for the most part gains at once
our approbation.
    
    But something must be said of the present work.
    
    It embraces the most difficult portion, in some respects, of
the old Testament, and of that portion, as acknowledged by all, the
most difficult is the Book of the prophet Hosea. Probably no part of
Scripture is commonly read with so little benefit as the Minor
Prophets, owing, no doubt, to the obscurity in which some parts are
involved. That there is much light thrown on many abstruse passages
in this work, and more than by any existing comment in our language,
is the full conviction of the writer. Acute, sagacious, and
sometimes profound, the author is at the same time remarkably
simple, plain, and lucid and ever practical and useful. The most
learned may here gather instruction, and the most unlearned may
understand almost every thing that is said. The whole object of the
Author seems to be to explain, simplify, and illustrate the text,
and he never turns aside to other matters. He is throughout an
expounder, keeps strictly to his office, and gives to every part its
full and legitimate meaning according to the context, to which he
ever especially attends.
    
    The style of Hosea is somewhat peculiar. Jerome has long ago
characterised it as being commatic, sententious; and those links,
the connective particles, by which different parts are joined
together, are sometimes omitted. This is, indeed, in a measure the
character of the style of all the Prophets, hut more so with respect
to Hosea than any other. What at the same time creates the greatest
difficulty is the rapidity of his transitions, and the change of
person, number, and gender. Persons are spoken to and spoken of
sometimes in the same verse; and he passes from the singular to the
plural number, and the reverse, and sometimes from the masculine to
the feminine gender. To account for these transitions is not always
easy.
    
    It has been thought by many critics, that the received Hebrew
text of Hosea is in a more imperfect state than that of any other
portion of Scripture; but Bishop Horsley denies this in a manner the
most unhesitating; and those emendations which Archbishop Newcome
introduced in his version, about 50 in number, the Bishop has swept
away as unauthorised, and, indeed, as unnecessary, for most of them
had been proposed to remedy the anomalies peculiar to the style of
this Prophet; and some of those few emendations, which the Bishop
himself introduced, founded on the authority of Mss., Calvin's
exposition shows to be unnecessary. The fact is, that different
readings, collected by the laborious Kennicott and others, have done
chiefly this great good - to show the extraordinary correctness of
our received text. Throughout this Prophet, there is hardly an
instance in which the collations of Mss. have supplied an
improvement, and certainly no improvement of any material
consequence.
    
    This work of Calvin appears now for the first time in the
English language. There is a French translation, but not made by the
author himself, as in the case of some other portions of his
writings, and can therefore be of no authority. The following
translation has been made from an edition printed at Geneva in 1567,
three years after Calvin's death, compared with another, printed
also at Geneva in 1610.
    
    It has been thought advisable to adopt our common version as
the text, and to put Calvin's Latin version in a parallel column.
His version is a literal rendering of the original, without any
regard to idiom, and to translate it has been found impracticable,
at least in such a way as to be understood by common readers. His
practice evidently was to translate the Hebrew word for word, and to
make this his text, and then in his Comment to modify the
expressions so as to reduce them into readable Latin, and his
version thus modified agrees in most instances with our authorised
version. The agreement is so remarkable, that the only conclusion is
that this work must have been much consulted by our Translators.
    
    In making quotations from Scripture, the author seems to have
followed no version, but to have made one of his own; and they are
often given paraphrastically, the meaning rather than the words
being regarded. The same is often done also with respect to the
passages explained, the words being frequently varied. In these
instances the author has been strictly followed throughout in this
translation, and his quotations, and the text when paraphrased, are
marked by a single inverted comma.
    
    The Hebrew words which occur in the Lectures are not
accompanied with the points, and it has not been deemed necessary to
add them. The words are given in corresponding English characters,
with the insertion of such vowels only as are necessary to enunciate
them, and these vowels, to distinguish them from the Hebrew vowels,
are put in Roman characters. The Hebrew vowels are uniformly given
the same, and not with that almost endless variety of sounds to
which the points have reduced them. The "vau" is always represented
by "u", except when in some instances it is followed by a vowel, and
then by "v". The Hebrews have four vowels corresponding with a, e,
u, i, and o, in English.
    
    This work is calculated to be of material help to those engaged
in translations. Our Missionaries may derive from it no small
assistance, as it gives as literal a version of the Hebrew as can
well be made, and contains much valuable criticism, and develops, in
a very lucid and satisfactory manner, the drift and meaning of many
difficult passages. There is no existing commentary in which the
text is so minutely examined, and so clearly explained. There are
also many of the most approved expositions given by others referred
to and stated; and the translator has added, on interesting and
difficult passages, what has been suggested by learned critics since
the time of the Author.
    
    If it be a right rule to judge of the impressions which the
perusal of this volume, now presented to the public, may produce on
others, by what one has himself experienced, the editor will mention
one thing in particular, and that is, that he fully expects that
those who will carefully read this volume will be more impressed
than ever with the extreme propensity of human nature to idolatry,
and with the amazing power and blinding effects of superstition. The
conduct of the Israelites, notwithstanding all the means employed to
restore them to the true worship of God, is here described with no
ordinary minuteness and speciality. Though God sent his prophets to
them to remind them of their sins, to reason and expostulate with
them, to threaten and to exhort them, to draw and allure them with
promises of pardon and acceptance; and though God chastised them in
various ways, and then withheld his displeasure, and showed them
indulgence, they yet continued obstinately attached to their
idolatry and superstition, and all the while professed and boasted
that they worshipped the true God, and perversely maintained that
their mixed service, the worship of God, and the worship of idols,
was right and lawful, and vastly superior to what the prophets
recommended.
    
    Having this case of the Israelites in view, we need not be
surprised at the fascinating and blinding influence of Popery, whose
idolatry and superstitions are exactly of the same character with
those of the Israelites; no two cases can be more alike. Their
identity is especially seen in this, - that there is an union of two
worships - of God and of images; and this union was the idolatry
condemned in the Israelites, and is the very idolatry that now
exists in the Church of Rome: and as among the Israelites, so among
the Papists, though God is not excluded, but owned, yet the chief
worship is given to false gods and their images. That the two
systems are the same, no one can doubt, except those who are under
the influence of strong delusion; and this is what is often referred
to and amply proved in this work.
    
    It may be useful to subjoin here an account of the time in
which the twelve Minor Prophets lived. The precise time cannot be
ascertained: they flourished between the two dates which are here
given. The names of the other four Prophets are also added.
    
    Before the Babylonian Captivity.
    
                        before Christ.
    
    1. Jonah             856 - 784.
    2. Amos              810 - 785.
    3. Hosea             810 - 725.
        1. Isaiah        810 - 698.
    4. Joel              810 - 660.
    5. Micah             758 - 699.
    6. Nahum             720 - 698.
    7. Zephaniah          640 - 609.
    
    Immediately previous to and during the Captivity.
    
        2. Jeremiah       628 - 586.
    8. Habakkuk           612 - 598.
        3. Daniel        606 - 534.
    9. Obadiah                588 - 583.
        4. Ezekiel            595 - 536.
    
    After the Captivity.
    
    10. Haggai                520 - 518.
    11. Zechariah         520 - 518.
    12. Malachi           436 - 420.
    
    In the last volume, the fourth, will be given the two indices
appended to the original work.
    
    Thrussington, September 1, 1846.
    
    J. O.
    
    
    
    
    
    

Postscript
    
    After the preceding preface had gone through the press, it has
been discovered that The Twelve Minor Prophets cannot be comprised
in four volumes of the size generally published in the present
Series of The Works of John Calvin.
    
    The Translation, though it be as brief and concise as the idiom
of the English language will well admit, takes up more space than
the editor at first anticipated. His first calculation was made from
the Latin: he was not then fully aware of the great disparity in the
two languages as to relative diffuseness of style. He has since
found, by a minute comparison, that a work in Latin, comprised in
five volumes, would require at least six of the same size and type
in English: and in the present instance, what was calculated would
be contained in four, must be extended to five volumes, on account
of the respective Prefaces and Notes, &c. by the editor, besides the
Literal Translations of each of the Books of The Twelve Minor
Prophets, which it has since been resolved shall be appended to each
successive commentary.
    
    The arrangement of this Work, now made with some degree of
certainty, is as follows:
    The first volume is to contain Hosea;
    The second volume, Joel, Amos, and Obadiah;
    The third volume, Jonah, Micah, and Nahum;
    The fourth volume, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and Haggai; and
    The fifth volume, Zechariah and Malachi; with the tables and
    indices to the whole work.
    
    On this account, the volumes cannot be all of equal size, some
being considerably above, and some below, the average extent of the
present Series of Calvin's Works, being 500 pages on the average. To
avoid such inequality, it would have been needful to divide some of
the Books - a thing by no means desirable in any case, and which has
been studiously shunned in all the other commentaries.
    
    In addition to what was originally contemplated, there will be
given at the end of each Book a continuous literal translation of
Calvin's Latin version, as modified by his commentary; and the
editor is requested to state that a similar plan is to be observed
in all the other prophetical books of the Old Testament.
    
    Editor.
    
    Thrussington, September 1846.
    
    
    
    
    
    

Portrait of Calvin

Engraved in facsimile, and prefixed to the present volume.

    It has been deemed a matter of importance as well as curiosity
to preserve, in the present series of English Translations of The
Works of Calvin, facsimile engravings of all the authentic
contemporaneous portraits which can still be recovered of the great
Genevan Reformer.
    The portrait which accompanies the present volume is preserved
in the curious and valuable collection of likenesses, or portraits,
and characters of illustrious Reformers, published by Theodore Beza,
the pupil, friend, and biographer of Calvin, under the title of
"Icones", &c.; which work passed through several editions in Latin
and French. The characters of the individuals represented in the
wood engravings are annexed to each portrait, and are therefore
necessarily drawn up with great conciseness, but with Beza's usual
ability and discrimination.
    The facsimile in question has been taken from a very fresh
impression contained in a copy of the French edition belonging to
the secretary, which was formerly in the library of the Duke of
Sussex. The title-page is as follows: -
    
    "Les Vrais Pourtraits des Hommes Illustres en piete et
doctrine, du travail desquels Dieu s'est serui en ces derniers
temps, pour remettre sus la vraye Religion en divers pays de la
Chrestiente. Avec les Descriptions de leurs via & de leurs faits
plus memorables. Plus qurarantequatre Emblemes Chretiens. Traduicts
du latin de Theodore de Bexze. A Geneve, par Iean de Laon.
M.D.LXXX."
    
    Both the Latin and French copies are dedicated to James VI. of
Scotland, and have a curious early portrait of that King prefixed.
The latter is addressed, "A tres-illustre Prince, Iacques Sixiesme,
par la grace de Dieu serenissime Roy d'Escosse;" and closes, "De
Geneve, le premier iour de Mars, l'an cI-.cI-.lxxx. De vostre
serenissime & Royale Maieste le tres-humble Serviteur, Theodore de
Besze." Care has been taken to have this facsimile carefully
collated with an impression in another copy of the same edition,
also belonging to the Secretary, which was purchased by him at the
sale of the duplicates of the Library of the Faculty of Advocates,
Edinburgh.
    It has been considered indispensable that all the facsimiles
which accompany The Calvin Translations shall be executed with most
scrupulous fidelity; and therefore no liberty is allowed the artists
employed, in the way of improving the style of the original
engraving, or of remedying any artistical defects; but to present an
accurate and exact copy, line for line, &c., precisely as in the
original.
    The following graphic Character of Calvin, by Beza, is annexed
to the Portrait: -
    
John Calvin, of Noyon in Picardy,
The pastor of the Church of Geneva.
[by Theodore Beza.]

    As the testimony of a son respecting his own father cannot be
altogether free from suspicion, let all then know, by what thou hast
done, O Calvin, that thou hast been a remarkable instrument in the
hand of the Almighty and all-gracious God, who has by thy ministry
completed the Restoration of true Religion, happily commenced by
others some years before. For to thee this especially belongs - to
thy doctrine, diligence, and ardent zeal; to which France and
Scotland are indebted for the re-establishment of the kingdom of
Christ among them; other Churches, scattered in great number through
the whole world, acknowledge themselves to be also in this respect
under great obligations to thee.
    Of this let these be the witnesses - first, thy writings, which
shall ever live; and all men, who are learned and fear God, confess
them to have been prepared with judgement so remarkable, with
erudition so solid, and in a style so beautiful, that no one has
been hitherto found, who has with so much skill expounded the Holy
Scripture. And there is another band of witnesses - the furious
matheologians, (men of science,) the sworn enemies of God's truth,
who have poured the scum of their rage upon thee before and after
thy death. But thou however enjoyest, near thy Master, Jesus Christ,
the reward with which he recompenses thy faithful services. And ye,
Churches of the Son of God, continue to peruse the works of this
great Teacher; who, though he speaks no longer, has left what, in
spite of envy, you may every day learn.
    As to you, Sophists, hateful monsters and doomed to perdition,
what you do by continuing to depreciate this holy and learned
Theologian, is to discover more and more your infatuation and
wickedness, to the end that you may be condemned and accursed when
the righteous Judge shall come to give to every one according to his
works.
    It may be added, that Calvin, having become consumptive through
excessive study and abstinence, died at Geneva in one thousand five
hundred and sixty-four, on the twenty-seventh day of May, at the age
of fifty-four; twenty-five of which he had been employed in the
charge of a Pastor and Teacher to that Church, which had been built
up and established by him with no small difficulties, and which he
had happily governed in connection with other learned fellow-
labourers in the ministry during that time.
    He was interred without any pomp, according to the express
charge which he had given; and his loss was lamented as that of a
father by all at Geneva, and by many of the faithful, dispersed in
different parts of the world. Among others, I was one who expressed
my feelings on his death in a Latin Epigram, which has been
translated into French as follows: -
    
Epigram by Beza on the death of Calvin,
translated into French.

[French translation omitted]

[Latin original omitted]

The same in English.
    
    Rome's greatest terror he, whom now being dead
    The best of men lament, the wicked dread:
    Virtue itself from him might virtue learn; -
    And dost thou ask why Calvin did not earn
    A place more splendid for his last repose,
    Than that small spot which does his bones inclose?
    But know, that modesty even from the womb
    Had been his guest, - and she has built his tomb.
    O happy clod! thy tenant, great was he;
    The gorgeous shrines may justly envy thee.
    
    
    
    
    
    
    

The Epistle Dedicatory

John Calvin to the most serene and most mighty King Gustavus, the
king of the Goths and Vandals.

    What I once said most excellent king, when the Annotations on
Hosea, taken from my Lectures, were published, I now again repeat, -
that I was not the author of that edition: for I am one who is not
easily pleased with works I finish with more labour and care. Had it
been in my power, I should have rather tried to prevent the wider
circulation of that extemporaneous kind of teaching, intended for
the particular benefit of my auditory and with which benefit I was
abundantly satisfied.
    But since that specimen, (The Commentary on Hosea,) published
with better success than I expected, has kindled a desire in many to
see that one Prophet followed by the other eleven Minor Prophets, I
thought it not unseasonable to dedicate to your Majesty a work of
suitable extent, and replete with important instructions not only
that it may be a pledge of my high regards, but also that the
dedication to so celebrated a name might procure for it some favour.
It is not, however, ambition that has led me to do this, for I have
long ago learned not to court the applause of the world, and have
become hardened to the ingratitude of the many; but I wished that
some fruit might come to men of your station from the recesses of
our mountains; and it has also been my legitimate endeavour, that
many to whom I am unknown, being influenced by the sacred sanction
of their king, might be made more impartial, and come better
prepared to read the work.
    And this, I promise to myself, will be the case, as you enjoy
so much veneration among all your subjects, provided you condescend
to interpose your judgement, such as your singular wisdom may
dictate; or, as age may possibly not bear the fatigue of reading,
such as your Majesty's eldest son Heric, the heir to the throne, may
suggest, whom you have taken care to be so instructed in the liberal
sciences, that this office may be safely intrusted to him. And that
I might have less doubt of your kindness, there are many heralds of
your virtues, and even some judicious and wise men, who are entitled
to be deemed competent witnesses. It is not, therefore, to be
wondered, most noble king, that a present from so distant a region
should be offered to your Majesty by a man as yet unknown to you,
who, on account of the excellent and heroic endowments of mind and
heart in which he has understood you to excel, thinks himself to be
especially attached to you.
    But though the excellency of the Book may not, perhaps, be such
as will procure much favour to myself, you will not yet despise the
desire by which I have been led to manifest the high regards I
entertain towards your Majesty, nor will you yet find this present
now offered to you wholly unworthy, however much it may be below the
elevated station of so great a king. If God has endued me with any
aptness for the interpretation of Scripture, I am fully persuaded
that I have faithfully and carefully endeavoured to exclude from it
all barren refinements, however plausible and fitted to please the
ear, and to preserve genuine simplicity, adapted solidly to edify
the children of God, who, being not content with the shell, wish to
penetrate to the kernel. What I have really done it is not for me to
say, except that pious and learned men persuade me that I have not
laboured without success. But these Commentaries may not, perhaps,
answer the wishes and expectations of all; and I myself could have
wished that I had been able to give something more excellent and
more perfect, or at least what would have come nearer to the
Prophetic Spirit. But this, I trust, will be the issue, - that
experience will prove to upright and impartial readers, and those
endued with sound judgement, provided they read with well-disposed
minds, and not fastidiously, what I have written for their benefit,
that more light has been thrown on the Twelve Prophets than modesty
will allow me to affirm.
    With the industry of others I compare not my own, (which would
be unbecoming,) nor do I ask any thing else, but that intelligent
and discreet readers, profiting by my labours, should study to be of
more extensive advantage to the public good of the Church; but as it
has not been my care, nor even my desire, to adorn this Book with
various attractives, this admonition is not unseasonable; for it may
invite the more slothful to read, until, by making a trial, they may
be able to judge whether it may be useful for them to proceed
farther in their course of reading. Indeed, the fruit which my other
attempts in the interpretation of Scripture have produced, and the
hope which I entertain of the usefulness of this, please me so much,
that I desire to spend the remainder of my life in this kind of
labour, as far as my continued and multiplied employments will allow
me. For what may be expected from a man at leisure cannot be
expected from me, who, in addition to the ordinary office of a
pastor, have other duties, which hardly allow me the least
relaxation: I shall not, however, deem my spare time in any other
way better employed.
    I now return again to you, most valiant king. He who knows your
prudence and equity in managing public affairs, your moral habits,
your whole character and virtues, will not wonder that I have
resolved to dedicate to you this work. But as it is not my design to
write a long eulogy on what is praiseworthy in you, I shall only
briefly touch on what is well known, both by report and public
writings: - God tried you in a wonderful manner before he raised you
to the throne, for the purpose not only of exhibiting in you a
singular proof of his providence, but also of setting forth to our
age as well as to posterity, an illustrious example of a steady
perseverance in a right course. You have, doubtless, been thus
proved by both fortunes, that there might not be wanting a due trial
of your temperance and moderation in prosperity, and of your
patience in adversity, until it was given you from above to emerge
at length, no less happily than in a praiseworthy manner, from so
many dangers, perils, difficulties, and hindrances, that having set
the kingdom in order, you might publicly and privately enjoy a
cheerful tranquillity. And now by the unanimous consent of all
orders, you bear a burden more splendid and honourable to you than
grievous, for all venerate your authority, and show their esteem by
love as well as by commendations.
    In addition to these benefits of God comes this, the chief,
which must not be omitted, - that your eldest son, Heric, a
successor chosen by you from your own blood, is not only of a
generous disposition, but also adorned with mature virtues; and
hardly any one more fit, had you no children, could the people have
chosen for themselves. And this, among other things, is his rare
commendation, that he has made so much progress in the liberal
sciences, that he occupies a high station among the learned, and
that he is not tired with diligent application to them, as far as he
is allowed by those many cares and distractions in which the royal
dignity is involved. At the same time, the principal thing with me
is this, that he has consecrated in his palace a sanctuary, not only
to the heathen muses, but also to celestial philosophy. The more
confidence therefore I have, that some place will be there found,
and some favour shown to these Commentaries, which he will find to
have been written according to the rule of true religion, and will
perceive calculated to be of some small help to himself.
    May God, O most serene king! keep your Majesty long in
prosperity, and continue to enrich you with all kinds of blessings.
May He guide you by his Spirit, until, having finished your course,
and migrating from earth to the celestial kingdom, you may leave
alive behind you the most serene king Heric, your successor, and his
most illustrious brothers, John Magnum and Charles: and may the same
grace of God, after your death, appear eminent in them, as well as
fraternal and unanimous concord.
    
    Geneva January 26, 1559.














John Calvin to the Christian Reader, health.

    Since I can truly and justly say, and prove by competent
witnesses, that the writings, which I have hitherto sent forth to
the public, and which might have been finished with more care and
attention, have been almost extorted from me by importunity, it is
evident that these Annotations, which I thought might bear a
hearing, but were unworthy of being read, would have never through
me been brought forth to the light. For if, by many watchings, I can
hardly succeed in rendering even a small benefit to the Church by my
meditations, how foolish were it in me to claim a place for my
sermons among the works which are published? Besides, if, with
regard to those compositions which I write or dictate privately at
home, when there is more leisure for meditation, and when a finished
brevity is attained by care and diligence, my industry is yet made a
crime by the malignant and the envious, how can I escape the charge
of presumption, if I now force upon the whole world the reading of
those thoughts which I freely poured forth for the present
edification of my hearers? But since to suppress them was not in my
power, and their publication could not be otherwise prevented by me
than by undertaking the labour (which my circumstances allowed not)
of writing the whole anew, and many friends, thinking me to be too
scrupulous a judge of my own labours, cried out, that I was doing an
injury to the Church, I chose to allow this volume, as it is, taken
from my lips, to go forth to the public, rather than by prohibition
to impose on myself the necessity of writing; which I was forced to
do as to The Psalms, before I found out, by that long and difficult
work, how unequal I am to so much writing.
    Let, then, these explanations on Hosea go forth, which it is
not in my power to keep from the public. But how they have been
taken down, it is needful to declare, not only that the diligence,
industry, and skill of those who have performed this labour for the
Church, may not be deprived of their commendation, but also that
readers may be fully persuaded, that there are here no additions,
and that the writers did not allow themselves to change a single
word for a better one. How they assisted one another, one of their
number, my best friend, and through his virtues, dear to all good
men, Mr John Budaeus, will, as I expect, more fully explain.
    But it would have been incredible to me, had I not clearly
seen, when the day after they read the whole to me, that what they
had written differed nothing from my discourse. It would have
perhaps been better had more liberty been taken to cut off
redundancies, to bring the arrangement into better order, and to
use, in some instances, more distinct or graceful language: but I do
not interpose my judgement; this only I wish to witness with my own
hand, that they have taken down what they have heard from my lips
with so much fidelity, that I perceive no change. Farewell,
Christian reader, whoever thou be, who desires with me to make
progress in celestial truth.
    
    Geneva, February 13, 1557.
    











John Budaeus, to Christian Readers, health.

    When some years ago the most learned John Calvin, at the
request and entreaty of his friends, undertook to explain in the
school The Psalms of David, some of us, his hearers, took notes from
the beginning of a few things in our own way, for our own private
meditation, according to our own judgement and discretion. But being
at length admonished by our own experience, we began to think how
great a loss would it be to many, and almost to the whole Church,
that the benefit of such Lectures should be confined to a few
hearers. Having therefore gathered courage, we fully thought that it
was our duty to unite a care and concern for the public with our own
private benefits and this seemed possible, if, instead of following
our usual practice, we tried, as far as we could, to take down the
Lectures word for word. Without delay I joined myself as the third
to two zealous brethren in this undertaking; and it so happened,
through God's kindness that a happy issue was not wholly wanting to
our attempt: for when the labours of each of us were compared
together, and the Lectures were immediately written out, we found
that so few things had escaped us, that the gaps could easily be
made up. And that this was the case as to the work in which was made
the first trial of our capacities, Calvin himself is a witness to
us; and that this has been far more fully the case with respect to
the Lectures on Hosea, (as by long use and exercise we became more
skilful,) even all the hearers will readily acknowledge.
    But the design on this occasion was to induce him, if possible,
to publish complete Commentaries on this Author; but it then
happened to us otherwise than we expected: for all hope of obtaining
this object he cut off from us from reverence to Bucer, who, in this
case, as well as in all other things, had performed most faithful
and most useful services, as the whole Church acknowledges, and as
Calvin in particular has at all times most honourably declared to us
and to all. It therefore remained that the Lectures, as taken down
by us, should be published. And as all the most pious promised to
themselves great benefit from our labour, we daily increased our
exertions, that such a hope might not pass away into smoke. Being
therefore stirred on by these desires, as well, doubtless, as by the
prospect of benefiting the godly, we exerted ourselves so much, that
all readily allowed that we exercised nothing short of the greatest
diligence. The more wonderful it may seem, that he was afterwards
induced to change his mind, so as to frustrate our hope and that of
many of the godly; and that, on the other hand, he was constrained,
however anxious to perform a most useful service to the Church, to
incur the great envy and implacable hatred of many. But those who
plead only the authority of Bucer in this affair are moved, I
willingly acknowledge, by a reason not altogether unjust; yet they
will seem to me too stiff and unbending, if they will not suffer
themselves to be influenced by sufficient excuses, which I hope will
be the case before long. But as to those who are carried away by the
insane love of evil-speaking, and avail themselves of the least
opportunity of strife, as they ought to be disregarded and detested
as monsters by all the godly, so it is not needful to labour much to
satisfy them, for the barking of dogs, provided it hurt not the
Church, may without great danger be passed by and despised.
    We have, indeed, prefaced these things for the sake of those
who have very often solicited us respecting the Lectures on the
Psalms, that they may not think themselves to have been deceived by
us with a vain expectation; for, let them know, that they shall
sometimes have, through God's favour, correct and complete
Commentaries on The Book of Psalms. But if this long desire does
much distress them, let them remember that we also no less anxiously
look for that great treasure. But it is right that we both should
pardon a man who has constant and most burdensome occupations, and
somewhat moderate our too prurient and premature wishes: and to
indulge him seems right even on this one account, that he, the least
of all, indulges himself, never taking any rest or relaxation of
mind from his vast labours, so that it is a matter of doubt to none
but that he drags a little body, not only through the divine
kindness, but by a singular miracle, which cannot be told to
posterity, - a body, by nature weak, violently attacked by frequent
diseases, and then exhausted by immense labours; and, lastly,
pierced by the unceasing stings of the ungodly, and on all sides
distressed and tormented by all kinds of reproaches.
    But as this is not the place for making complaints, I now come
to you, Christian Readers, to whom it is our purpose to dedicate
this work, The Lectures on the Prophet Hosea; and we dedicate it,
not that we claim any thing as our owns except the diligence we
employed in collecting it: but we hesitate not to make it, as it
were, our own, for it would have never come to you except through
our assistance. For though we judged the work altogether excellent
which is now offered to the Church, yet we could hardly at last
convince the author of this; and he suffered himself to be overcome
by our importunate entreaties only on this condition, that we were
to be accountable for whatever judgement good men might form of the
work: so unfit a judge he is of his own productions. But we, though
he may modestly extenuate them more than what is right, yet dare to
promise to ourselves, that not only the author's labour will be duly
appreciated by you, but that we shall also secure to ourselves no
common favour.
    These Lectures, we trust, will not be less acceptable to you,
because the author, regarding the benefit of the school, (as it was
right,) in some degree departed from the usual elegance of all his
other works, and from embellishment of style. For, being oppressed
with a vast quantity of business, he was constrained to leave home,
after having had hardly, for the most part, half an hour to meditate
on these Lectures: he preferred to advance the edification and
benefit of his hearers by eliciting the true sense and making it
plain, rather than by vain pomp of words to delight their ears or to
regard ostentation and his own glory. I would not, at the same time,
deny but that these Lectures were delivered more in the scholastic
than in the oratorical style. If, however, this simple, though not
rude, mode of speaking should offend any one, let him have recourse
to the works of others, or of this author himself, especially those
in which, being freed from the laws of the school, he appears no
less the orator than the illustrious theologian: and this we declare
without hesitation, and with no less modesty than with the full
consent and approbation of the best and the most learned.
    We do not indeed thus speak as if we would, by a censorious
superciliousness, claim for him alone the glory of an orator, or
would not, by calling him a theologian, acknowledge many others as
celebrated men. Far from us be such a folly. But an occasion such as
this being offered of testifying our mind, we could hardly, even in
any other way, excuse our neglect to the godly, to whom it is well
known, that our silence concerning Calvin has not hitherto well
pleased turbulent men; who are more willing to have their vanity
expressly reprobated by us, than to suffer us by a tacit consent and
modest silence either to approve of his doctrine, and to acknowledge
in him an evidence, the most clear, of God's kindness towards us, or
to cover by a fraternal dissimulation their madness; and thus each
of us would have to mourn by himself in silence.
    But, as I have said, the language here is unadorned and simple,
very like that which we know was ever wont to be used formerly in
Lectures: not such as many of whom we have heard employ, who repeat
to their hearers from a written paper what had been previously
prepared at home; but such as could be formed and framed at the
time, more adapted to teach and edify than to please the ear.
Except, then, we are greatly mistaken, he so expresses almost to the
life the mind of the Prophet, that no addition seems possible. For,
after having carefully examined every sentence, he then briefly
shows the use and application of the doctrine, so that no one,
however ignorant, can mistake the meaning: in short, he so unfolds
and opens the subjects and fountains of true theology, that it is
easy for any one to draw from them what is needful to restore and
refresh the soul; yea, the ministers of the word may hence
advantageously derive ample streams, with which, as by a celestial
dew, they may abundantly refresh the people of God, whether by
exhortation, or consolation, or reproof, or edification. And of
these things we clearly see some instances and examples in all his
discourses, especially in those in which he so accommodates the
doctrine of the Prophets to our own times, that it seems to suit
their age no better than ours.
    But that we may at length make an end, it remains, Christian
Readers, that we receive and embrace with suitable gratitude all the
other innumerable gifts of God which he daily pours on us in great
abundance, as well as this incomparable treasure of his goodness,
and employ them for the purpose of leading a holy and godly life to
the glory of his name, and to the edification of our brethren: and
that this may be done, we must pray for the Spirit of God, that we
may come to the reading of Scripture instructed by him, and bring a
mind purified from the defilements of the flesh, and a meek spirit
capable of receiving celestial truth. And for this end much help may
be given us by the short prayers which we have taken care to add at
the close of every Lecture, as gathered by us with the same care and
fidelity as the Lectures were: the minds of the pious may by these
be refreshed, and may collect new vigour for the next Lecture; and
the ignorant may also have in these a pattern, as it were, painted
before them, by which they may form their prayers from the words of
Scripture. For as at the beginning of the Lectures he ever used the
same form of prayer, which we intend also to add, that his manner of
teaching may be fully known to you; so he was wont ever to finish
every Lecture by a new prayer formed at the time, as given him by
the Spirit of God, and accommodated to the subject of the Lecture.
    If we shall understand that these Commentaries will be
acceptable to you, though the work is the fruit of another s labour,
we shall yet engage, God favouring us, to do the same as to the
remaining Prophets. When he shall undertake to lecture on them, it
is our purpose to follow him with no less diligence, and take down
what remains to the end. In the meantime, enjoy these. Farewell.
    
    Geneva, February 14, 1557.









John Crispin to Christian Readers, health.

    As it may seem wonderful to some, and indeed incredible, that
these Lectures were taken down with such fidelity and care, that Mr
John Calvin uttered not a word in delivering them, which was not
immediately written down; it may be needful here shortly to remind
pious readers of the plan they pursued who have transmitted them to
us. And this is done, that their singular diligence and industry may
stimulate others to do the same, and that the thing itself may not
appear incredible.
    And, first, it must be remembered, that Calvin himself never
dictated, as many do, any of his Lectures, nor gave any orders that
any thing should be noted down while he was interpreting Scripture,
much less after finishing the Lecture, or on the day after its
delivery; but he occupied a whole hour in speaking, and was not wont
to write in his book a single word to assist his memory. When,
therefore, some years ago, Mr John Budaeus and Charles Jonvill, with
two other brethren, (whom Budaeus himself mentions in his preface,
and that so it was many know,) found, in writing out The Exposition
on the Psalms, that their common labour would not be wholly in vain,
they were impelled by a stronger desire and alacrity of minds so
that they resolved to take down, with more diligence than before, if
possible, the whole exposition on what are called The Twelve Minor
Prophets. And, in copying, they followed this plan. Each had his
paper prepared in a form the most convenient, and each took down by
himself with the greatest speed. If a word had escaped one, (which
sometimes happened, particularly on points of dispute and in those
parts which were delivered with some warmth,) it was taken up by
another; and when it so happened, it was easily set down again by
the writer. Immediately at the close of the Lecture, Jonvill took
with him the papers of the other two, placing them before him, and
consulting his own, and collating them together, he dictated to some
other person for the purpose of copying what they had hastily taken
down. At last he read the whole over himself, that he might be able
to recite it the following day before Mr Calvin at home. When
sometimes any little word was wanting, it was added in its place;
or, if any thing seemed not sufficiently explained, it was readily
made plainer.
    Thus it happened that these Lectures came forth to the light;
and what great benefit they will derive from them, who will
seriously read them, can by no means be told: for who, endued with a
sound judgement, does not see that such was the way which this most
illustrious man possessed in explaining Scripture, that he had it in
common with very few? He everywhere so unfolds the design of the
Holy Spirit, so gives his genuine meaning, and also so sets before
our eyes every recondite doctrine, that you find nothing but what is
openly explained; and this is what his many writings most abundantly
testify, in which he has made every point of the Christian religion
so plain, that all, except they be wholly blind to the sun,
acknowledge him to be a most faithful interpreter.
    But that I may now say nothing of his many Commentaries, he has
so surpassed himself in these Lectures that one can hardly persuade
himself that a style so elegant, and so perfect in all its parts,
could have flowed extemporaneously, for he explains the weightiest
sentiments in suitable words, clearly handles obscure things,
clothes them with various ornaments, and so proceeds in his
teaching, that the language he uses, spontaneously poured forth,
seems to have been long and much laboured. But of all these things I
prefer that a judgement should be formed by a perusal, rather than
that I should longer detain readers by a lengthened discussion of
particulars. Then farewell all ye who hope for some benefit from
these Lectures.
    
    Geneva, February 1, 1559.










The Commentaries of John Calvin on the Prophet Hosea.



The prayer which John Calvin was wont to use at the beginning of his
lectures:

May the Lord grant, that we may engage in contemplating the
mysteries of his heavenly wisdom with really increasing devotion, to
his glory and to our edification. Amen.





Commentaries on the prophet Hosea

The Argument

    I have undertaken to expound The Twelve Minor Prophets. They
have been long ago joined together, and their writings have been
reduced to one volume; and for this reason, lest by being extant
singly in our hands, they should, as it often happens, disappear in
course of time on account of their brevity.
    Then the Twelve Minor Prophets form but one volume. The first
of them is Hosea, who was specifically destined for the kingdom of
Israel: Micah and Isaiah prophesied at the same time among the Jews.
But it ought to be noticed, that this Prophet was a teacher in the
kingdom of Israel, as Isaiah and Micah were in the kingdom of Judah.
The Lord doubtless intended to employ him in that part; for had he
prophesied among the Jews, he would not have complimented them;
since the state of things was then very corrupt, not only in Judea,
but also at Jerusalem, though the palace and sanctuary of God were
there. We see how sharply and severely Isaiah and Micah reproved the
people; and the style of our Prophet would have been the same had
the Lord employed his service among the Jews: but he followed his
own call. He knew what the Lord had intrusted to him; he faithfully
discharged his own office. The same was the case with the Prophet
Amos: for the Prophet Amos sharply inveighs against the Israelites,
and seems to spare the Jews; and he taught at the same time with
Hosea.
    We see, then, in what respect these four differ: Isaiah and
Micah address their reproofs to the kingdom of Judah; and Hosea and
Amos only assail the kingdom of Israel, and seem to spare the Jews.
Each of them undertook what God had committed to his charge; and so
each confined himself within the limits of his own call and office.
For if we, who are called to instruct the Church, close our eyes to
the sins which prevail in it, and neglect those whom the Lord has
appointed to be taught by us, we confound all order; since they who
are appointed to other places must attend to those to whom they have
been sent by the Lord's call.
    We now, then, see to whom this whole book of Hosea belongs, -
that is, to the kingdom of Israel.
    But with regard to the Prophets, this is true of them all, as
we have sometimes said, that they are interpreters of the law. And
this is the sum of the law, that God designs to rule by his own
authority the people whom he has adopted. But the law has two parts,
- a promise of salvation and eternal life, and a rule for a godly
and holy living. To these is added a third part, - that men, not
responding to their call, are to be restored to the fear of God by
threatening and reproofs. The Prophets do further teach what the law
has commanded respecting the true and pure worship of God,
respecting love; in short, they instruct the people in a holy and
godly life, and then offer to them the favour of the Lord. And as
there is no hope of reconciliation with God except through a
Mediator, they ever set forth the Messiah, whom the Lord had long
before promised.
    As to the third part, which includes threats and reproofs, it
was peculiar to the Prophets; for they point out times, and denounce
this or that judgement of God: "The Lord will punish you in this
way, and will punish you at such a time." The Prophets, then, do not
simply call men to God's tribunal, but specify also certain kinds of
punishment, and also in the same way they declare prophecies
respecting the Lord's grace and his redemption. But on this I only
briefly touch; for it will be better to notice each point as we
proceed.
    I now return to Hosea. I have said that his ministry belonged
especially to the Kingdom of Israel; for then the whole worship of
God was there polluted, nor had corruption lately begun; but they
were so obstinate in their superstitions, that there was no hope of
repentance. We indeed know, that as soon as Jeroboam withdrew the
ten tribes from their allegiance to Rehoboam, the son of Solomon,
fictitious worship was set up: and Jeroboam seemed to have wisely
contrived that artifice, that the people might not return to the
house of David; but at the same time he brought on himself and the
whole people the vengeance of God. And those who came after him
followed the same impiety. When such perverseness became
intolerable, God resolved to put forth his power, and to give some
signal proof of his displeasure, that the people might at length
repent. Hence John was by God's command anointed King of Israel,
that he might destroy all the posterity of Ahab: but he also soon
relapsed into the same idolatry. He executed God's judgement, he
pretended great zeal; but his hypocrisy soon came to light, for he
embraced false and perverted worship; and his followers were nothing
better even down to Jeroboam, under whom Hosea prophesied; but of
this we shall speak in considering the inscription of the book.








Chapter 1

Lecture first.

Hosea 1:1
The word of the LORD that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the
days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, [and] Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in
the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.

    This first verse shows the time in which Hosea prophesied. He
names four kings of Judah, - Uzziah, Jotham, Ahab, Hezekiah. Uzziah,
called also Azariah, reigned fifty-two years; but after having been
smitten with leprosy, he did not associate with men, and abdicated
his royal dignity. Jotham, his son, succeeded him. The years of
Jotham were about sixteen, and about as many were those of king
Ahab, the father of Hezekiah; and it was under king Hezekiah that
Hosea died. If we now wish to ascertain how long he discharged his
office of teaching, we must take notice of what sacred history says,
- Uzziah began to reign in the twenty seventh year of Jeroboam, the
son of Joash. By supposing that Hosea performed his duties as a
teacher, excepting a few years during the reign of Jeroboam, that
is, the sixteen years which passed from the beginning of Uzziah's
reign to the death of Jeroboam, he must have prophesied thirty-six
years under the reign of Uzziah. There is, however, no doubt but
that he began to execute his office some years before the end of
Jeroboam's reign.
    Here, then, there appear to be at least forty years. Jotham
succeeded his father, and reigned sixteen years; and though it be a
probable conjecture, that the beginning of his reign is to be
counted from the time he undertook the government, after his father,
being smitten with leprosy, was ejected from the society of men, it
is yet probable that the remaining time to the death of his father
ought to come to our reckoning. When however, we take for granted a
few years, it must be that Hosea had prophesied more than forty-five
years before Ahab began to reign. Add now the sixteen years in which
Ahab reigned and the number will amount to sixty-one. There remain
the years in which he prophesied under the reign of Hezekiah. It
cannot, then, be otherwise but that he had followed his office more
than sixty years, and probably continued beyond the seventieth year.
    It hence appears with how great and with how invincible courage
and perseverance he was endued by the Holy Spirit. But when God
employs our service for twenty or thirty years we think it very
wearisome, especially when we have to contend with wicked men, and
those who do not willingly undertake the yoke, but pertinaciously
resist us; we then instantly desire to be set free, and wish to
become like soldiers who have completed their time. When therefore,
we see that this Prophet persevered for so long a time, let him be
to us an example of patience so that we may not despond, though the
Lord may not immediately free us from our burden.
    Thus much of the four kings whom he names. He must indeed have
prophesied (as I have just shown) for nearly forty years under the
king Uzziah or Azariah, and then for some years under the king Ahab,
(to omit now the reign of Jotham, which was concurrent with that of
his father,) and he continued to the time of Hezekiah: but why has
he particularly mentioned Jeroboam the son of Joash, since he could
not have prophesied under him except for a short time? His son
Zachariah succeeded him; there arose afterward the conspiracy of
Shallum, who was soon destroyed; then the kingdom became involved in
great confusion; and at length the Assyrian, by means of
Shalmanazar, led away captive the ten tribes, which became dispersed
among the Medes. As this was the case, why does the Prophet here
mention only one king of Israel? This seems strange; for he
continued his office of teaching to the end of his reign and to his
death. But an answer may be easily given: He wished distinctly to
express, that he began to teach while the state was entire; for, had
he prophesied after the death of Jeroboam, he might have seemed to
conjecture some great calamity from the then present view of things:
thus it would not have been prophecy, or, at leas, this credit would
have been much less. "He now, forsooth! divines what is, evident to
the eyes of all." For Zachariah flourished but a short time; and the
conspiracy alluded to before was a certain presage of an approaching
destruction, and the kingdom became soon dissolved. Hence the
Prophet testifies here in express words, that he had already
threatened future vengeance to the people, even when the kingdom of
Israel flourished in wealth and power, when Jeroboam was enjoying
his triumphs, and when prosperity inebriated the whole land.
    This, then, was the reason why the Prophet mentioned only this
one king; for under him the kingdom of Israel became strong, and was
fortified by many strongholds and a large army, and abounded also in
great riches. Indeed, sacred history tells us, that God had by
Jeroboam delivered the kingdom of Israel, though he himself was
unworthy, and that he had recovered many cities and a very wide
extent of country. As, then, he had increased the kingdom, as he had
become formidable to all his neighbours, as he had collected great
riches, and as the people lived in ease and luxury, what the Prophet
declared seemed incredible. "Ye are not," he said, "the people of
the Lord; ye are adulterous children, ye are born of fornication."
Such a reproof certainly seemed not seasonable. Then he said, "The
kingdom shall be taken from you, destruction is nigh to you." "What,
to us? and yet our king has now obtained so many victories, and has
struck terror into other kings." The kingdom of Judah, which was a
rival, being then nearly broken down, there was no one who could
have ventured to suspect such an event.
    We now, then, perceive why the Prophet here says expressly that
he had prophesied under Jeroboam. He indeed prophesied after his
death, and followed his office even after the destruction of the
kingdom of Israel, but he began to teach at a time when he was a
sport to the ungodly, who exalted themselves against God, and boldly
despised his threatening as long as he spared and bore with them;
which is ever the case, as proved by the constant experience of all
ages. We hence see more clearly with what power of the Spirit God
had endued the Prophet, who dared to rise up against so powerful a
king, and to reprove his wickedness, and also to summon his subjects
to the same judgement. When, therefore, the Prophet conducted
himself so boldly, at a time when the Israelites were not only
sottish on account of their great success, but also wholly insane,
it was certainly nothing short of a miracle; and this ought to avail
much to establish his authority. We now then, see the design of the
inscription contained in the first verse. It follows --
    
Hosea 1:2
The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to
Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of
whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, [departing]
from the LORD.
    
    The Prophet shows here what charge was given him at the
beginning, even to declare open war with the Israelites, and to be,
as it were, very angry in the person of God, and to denounce
destruction. He begins not with smooth things, nor does he gently
exhort the people to repentance, nor adopt a circuitous course to
soften the asperity of his doctrine. He shows that he had used
nothing of this kind, but says, that he had been sent like heralds
or messengers to proclaim war. The beginning, then, of what the Lord
spake by Hosea was this, "This people are an adulterous race, all
are born, as it were, of a harlot, the kingdom of Israel is the
filthiest brothel; and I now repudiate and reject them, I no longer
own them as my children." This was no common vehemence. We hence see
that the word "beginning" was not set down without reason, but
advisedly, that we may know that the Prophet, as soon as he
undertook the office of teaching, was vehement and severe, and, as
it were, fulminated against the kingdom of Israel.
    Now, if it be asked, why was God so greatly displeased? why did
he not first recall the wretched men to himself, since the usual
method seems to have been, that the Prophet tried, by a kind and
paternal address, to restore those to a sound mind who had departed
from the pure worship of God, - why, then, did not God adopt this
ordinary course? But we hence gather that the diseases of the people
were incurable. The Prophet, no doubt, intimates here distinctly,
that he was sent by God, when the state of things was almost past
recovery. We indeed know that God is not wont to deal so severely
with men, but when he has tried all other remedies; and this may
doubtless be easily learned from the records of Scripture. The ten
tribes, immediately after their revolt from the family of David,
having renounced the worship of God, embraced idolatry and ungodly
superstitions. They ought to have retained in their minds the
recollection of this oracle, 'The Lord has chosen mount Zion, where
he has desired to be worshipped; this,' he said 'is my rest forever;
here will I dwell, for I have chosen it,' (Ps. 132: 13,14.) And this
prediction, we know, had not been once or ten times repeated, but a
hundred times, that it might be more firmly fixed in the hearts of
men. Since, then, they ought to have had this truth fully impressed
on their hearts, that the Lord would have himself worshipped nowhere
except on mount Zion, it was monstrous stupidity in them to erect a
new temple and to make the calves. That the people, then, had so
quickly fallen away from God was an instance of the most perverse
madness. But, as I have said, they had reached the highest point of
impiety. When God punished so great sins by Jehu, the people ought
then to have returned to the pure worship of God, and there was some
reformation in the land; but they ever reverted to their own nature,
yea, the event proved that they only dissembled for a short time; so
blinded they were by a diabolical perverseness, that they ever
continued in their superstitions. It is not, then, to be wondered
at, that the Lord made this beginning by Hosea, "Ye are all born of
fornication, your kingdom is the filthiest brothel; ye are not my
people, ye are not beloved." Who, then, will not allow, that God, by
fulminating in so dreadful a manner against this people, dealt
justly with them, and for the best reason? The contumacy of the
people was so indomitable that it could be overcome in no other way.
We now understand why the Prophet used this expression, "The
beginning of speaking which God made."
    Then it follows, "in Hosea". He had said in the first verse,
"The word of Jehovah which was to Hosea"; he now says, "beHoshea",
in Hosea; and he adds God spake and said to Hosea, repeating the
preposition used in the first verse. The word of the Lord is said to
have been to Hosea, not simply because God addressed the Prophet,
but because he sent him forth with certain commissions, for in this
sense is the word of God said to have been to the Prophets. God
addresses his word also indiscriminately to others whomsoever he is
pleased to teach by his word, but he speaks to and addresses his
Prophets in a peculiar way, for he makes them the ministers and
heralds of his word, and puts, as it were, into their mouth what
they afterwards bring forth to the people. So Christ says, that the
word of God came to kings, because he constitutes and appoints them
to govern mankind. "If he calls them gods," he says, "to whom the
word of God came;" and that psalm, we know, was written with a
special reference to kings. We now perceive what this sentence in
the first verse contains. "The word of God came to Hosea"; for the
Lord did not simply address the Prophet in a common way, but
furnished him with instructions, that he might afterwards teach the
people, as it were, in the person of God himself.
    It is now added in the second verse, "The beginning of
speaking, such as the Lord made by Hosea". They who give this
rendering, "with Hosea," seem to explain the Prophet's meaning
frigidly. The letter beth, I know, has this sense often in
Scripture; but the Prophet, no doubt, in this place represents
himself as the instrument of the Holy Spirit. God then spake "in
Hosea", or by Hosea, for he brought forth nothing from his own
brain, but God spake by him; this is a form of speaking with which
we shall often meet. On this, indeed, depends the whole authority of
God's servants that they give not themselves loose reins, but
faithfully deliver, as it were, from hand to hand, what the Lord has
commanded them, without adding any thing whatever of their own. God
then spake in Hosea. It afterwards follows, "The Lord said to
Hosea". Now this, which is said the third time, or three times
repeated, is nothing else than the commission in different forms. He
first said in general, "The word of the Lord which was to Hosea;"
now he says, "The Lord spake thus," and he expresses distinctly what
the word was which he referred to in the first verse.
    "Go", he says, "take to thee a wife of wantonness, and the
children of wantonness"; and the reason is added, "for by
fornicating, or wantoning, has the land grown wanton". He doubtless
speaks here of the vices which the Lord had long endured with
inexpressible forbearance. "By wantoning then has the land grown
wanton, that it should not follow Jehovah".
    Here interpreters labour much, because it seems very strange
that the Prophet should take a harlot for a wife. Some say that this
was an extraordinary case. Certainly such a license could not have
been borne in a teacher. We see what Paul requires in a bishop, and
no doubt the same was required formerly in the Prophets, that their
families should be chaste and free from every stain and reproach. It
would have then exposed the Prophet to the scorn of all, if he had
entered a brothel and taken to himself a harlot; for he speaks not
here of an unchaste woman only, but of a woman of wantonness, which
means a common harlot, for a woman of wantonness is she called, who
has long habituated herself to wantonness, who has exposed herself
to all, to gratify the wish of all, who has prostituted herself, not
once nor twice, nor to few men, but to all. That this was done by
the Prophet seems very improbable. But some reply as I have said,
that this ought not to be regarded as a common rule, for it was an
extraordinary command of God. And yet it seems not consistent with
reason, that the Lord should thus gratuitously render his Prophet
contemptible; for how could he expect to be received on coming
abroad before the public, after having brought on himself such a
disgrace? If he had married a wife such as is here described, he
ought to have concealed himself for life rather than to undertake
the Prophetic office. Their opinion, therefore, is not probable, who
think that the Prophet had taken such a wife as is here described.
    Then another reason, utterly unresolvable, militates against
them; for the Prophet is not only bidden to take a wife of
wantonness, but also children of wantonness, begotten by whoredom.
It is, therefore, the same as if he himself had committed whoredom.
For if we say that he married a wife who had previously conducted
herself with some indecency and want of chastity, (as Jerome at
length argues in order to excuse the Prophet,) the excuse is
frivolous, for he speaks not only of the wife, but also of the
children, inasmuch as God would have the whole offspring to be
adulterous, and this could not be the case in a lawful marriage.
Hence almost all the Hebrews agree in this opinion, that the Prophet
did not actually marry a wife, but that he was bidden to do this in
a vision. And we shall see in the third chapter almost the same
thing described; and yet what is narrated there could not have been
actually done, for the Prophet is bidden to marry a wife who had
violated her conjugal fidelity, and after having bought her, to
retain her at home for a time. This, we know, was not done. It then
follows that this was a representation exhibited to the people.
    Some object and say, that the whole passage, as given by the
Prophet, cannot be understood as relating a vision. Why not? For the
vision, they say, was given to him alone, and God had a regard to
the whole people rather than to the Prophet. But it may be, and it
is probable, that no vision was presented to the Prophet, but that
God only ordered him to proclaim what had been given him in charge.
When, therefore, the Prophet began to teach, he commenced somewhat
in this way: "The Lord places me here as on a stage, to make known
to you that I have married a wife, a wife habituated to adulteries
and whoredoms, and that I have begotten children by her." The whole
people knew that he had done no such thing; but the Prophet spake
thus in order to set before their eyes a vivid representation. Such
then, was the vision, a figurative exhibition, not that the Prophet
knew this by a vision, but the Lord had bidden him to relate this
parable, (so to speak,) or this similitude, that the people might
see, as in a living portraiture, their turpitude and perfidiousness.
It is, in short, an exhibition, in which the thing itself is not
only set forth in words, but is also placed, as it were, before
their eyes in a visible form. The reason is added, "for by wantoning
has the land grown wanton".
    We now then see how the words of the Prophet ought to be
understood; for he assumed a character, when going forth before the
public, and in this character he said to the people, that God had
bidden him to take a harlot for his wife, and to beget adulterous
children by her. His ministry was not on this account made
contemptible, for they all knew that he had ever lived virtuously
and temperately; they all knew that his household was exempt from
every reproach; but here he exhibited in his assumed character, as
it were, a living image of the baseness of the people. This is the
meaning, and I see nothing strained in this explanation; and we, at
the same time, see the meaning of this clause, "By wantoning has the
land grown wanton." Hosea might have said this in one word, but he
had to address the deaf, and we know how great and how stupid is the
madness of those who delight themselves in their own superstitions,
they cannot bear any reproof. The Prophet then would not have been
attended to, unless he had exhibited, as in a mirror before their
eyes, what he wished to be understood by them, as though he had
said, "If none of you can so know himself as to own his public
baseness, if ye are all so obstinate against God, at least know now
by my assumed character, that you are all adulterous, and derive
your origin from a filthy brothel, for God declares thus concerning
you; and as you are not willing to receive such a declaration, it is
now set before you in my assumed character."
    "That it should not follows Jehovah", literally, "From after
Jehovah", "me'acharei". We here see what is the spiritual chastity
of God's people, and what also is the signification of the word
wantoning. Then the spiritual chastity of God's people is to follow
the Lord; and what else is this to follow, but to suffer ourselves
to be ruled by his word, and willingly to obey him, to be ready and
prepared for any work to which he may call us? When then the Lord
goes before us with his instruction and shows the way, and we become
teachable and obedient, and look up to him, and turn not aside,
either to the right or to the left hand, but bring our whole life to
the obedience of faith, - this is really to follow the Lord; and it
is a most beautiful definition of the spiritual chastity of God's
people.
    And we may also, from the opposite of this, learn what it is to
grow wanton; we do so when we depart from the word of the Lord, when
we give ear to false doctrines, when we abandon ourselves to
superstitions; when we, in short, wander after our own devices, and
keep not our thoughts under the authority of the word of the Lord.
But as to the word wantoning, more will be said in chap. 2; but I
only wished now briefly to touch on what the Prophet means when he
chides the Israelites for having all become wanton. Now follows -
    
Prayer.
    
    Grant, Almighty God, that as thou hast once adopted us, and
continues to confirm this thy favour by calling us unceasingly to
thyself, and dost not only severely chastise us, but also gently and
paternally invite us to thyself, and exhort us at the same time to
repentance, - 0 grant that we may not be so hardened as to resist
thy goodness, nor abuse this thine incredible forbearance, but
submit ourselves in obedience to thee; that whenever thou mayest
severely chastise us, we may bear thy corrections with genuine
submission of faith, and not continue untameable and obstinate to
the last, but return to thee the only fountain of life and
salvation, that as thou has once begun in us a good work, so thou
mayest perfect it to the day of our Lord. Amen.
    
    
Lecture Second

Hosea 1:3,4
So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived,
and bare him a son.
And the LORD said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little
[while], and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of
Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.

    We said in yesterday's Lecture, that God ordered his Prophet to
take a wife of whoredoms, but that this was not actually done; for
what other effect could it have had, but to render the Prophet
contemptible to all? and thus his authority would have been reduced
to nothing. But God only meant to show to the Israelites by such a
representation, that they vaunted themselves without reason; for
they had nothing worthy of praise, but were in every way
ignominious. It is then said, "Hosea went and took to himself Gomer,
the daughter of Diblaim." "Gomer", means in Hebrew, to fail; and
sometimes it signifies actively, to consume; and hence "Gomer" means
consumption. But "Diblaim" are masses of figs, or dry figs reduced
to a mass. The Greeks call them "palathas". The Cabalists say here
that the wife of Hosea was called by this name, because they who are
much given to wantonness at length fall into death and corruption.
So consumption is the daughter of figs, for by figs they understand
the sweetness of lusts. But it will be more simple to say, that this
representation was exhibited to the people, that the Prophet set
before them, instead of a wife, consumption, the daughter of figs;
that is, that he laid before them masses of figs or "palathas",
representing Gomer, which means consumption and that he adopted a
similar manner with mathematicians, when they describe their
figures, - "If this be so much, then that is so much." We may then
thus understand the passage, that the Prophet here named for his
wife the corrupt masses of figs; so that she was consumption or
putrefaction, born of figs, reduced into such masses. For I still
persist in the opinion I expressed yesterday, that the Prophet did
not enter a brothel to take a wife to himself: for otherwise he must
have begotten bastards, and not legitimate children; for, as it was
said yesterday, the case with the wife and the children was the
same.
    We now then understand the true meaning of this verse to be,
that the Prophet did not marry a harlot, but only exhibited her
before the eyes of the people as though she were corruption, born of
putrified masses of figs.
    It now follows, the wife "conceived", - the imaginary one, the
wife as represented and exhibited. She "conceived", he says, "and
bare a son: then said Jehovah to him, Call his name Jezreel". Many
render to "Jizre'el", dispersions and follow the Chaldean
paraphraser. They also think that this ambiguous term contains some
allusion; for as "zera'" is seed, they suppose that the Prophet
indirectly glances at the vain boasting of the people; for they
called themselves the chosen seed, because they had been planted by
the Lord; hence the name Jezreel. But the Prophet here, according to
these interpreters, exposes this folly to contempt; as though he
said, "Ye are Israel; but in another respect, ye are dispersion: for
as the seed is cast in various directions so the Lord will scatter
you, and thus destroy and cast you away. You think yourselves to
have been planted in this land, and to have a standing from which
you can never be shaken or torn away; but the Lord will, with his
own hand, lay hold on you to cast you away to the remotest regions
of the world." This sense is what many interpreters give; nor do I
deny but that the Prophet alludes to the words sowing and seed; with
this I disagree not: only it seems to me that the Prophet looks
farther, and intimates that they were wholly degenerate, not the
true nor the genuine offspring of Abraham.
    There is, as we see, much affinity between the names Jezreel
and Israel. How honourable is the name, Israel, it is evident from
its etymology; and we also know that it was given from above to the
holy father Jacob. God, then, the bestower of this name, procured by
his own authority, that those called Israelites should be superior
to others: and then we must remember the reason why Jacob was called
Israel; for he had a contest with God, and overcame in the struggle,
(Gen. 32: 28.) Hence the posterity of Abraham gloried that they were
Israelites. And the prophet Isaiah also glances at this arrogance,
when he says, 'Come ye who are called by the name of Israel,' (Isa.
48: 1;) as though he said, "Ye are Israelites, but only as to the
title, for the reality exists not in you."
    Let us now return to our Hosea. "Call", he says "his name
Jezreel;" as though he said, "They call themselves Israelites; but I
will show, by a little change in the word, that they are degenerate
and spurious, for they are Jezreelites rather than Israelites." And
it appears that Jezreel wag the metropolis of the kingdom in the
time of Ahab, and where also that great slaughter was made by Jehu,
which is related in the tenth chapter of 2 Kings. We now perceive
the meaning of the Prophet to be, that the whole kingdom had
degenerated from its first beginning, and could no longer be deemed
as including the race of Abraham; for the people had, by their own
perfidy, fallen from that honour, and lost their first name. God
then, by way of contempt, calls them Jezreelites, and not
Israelites.
    A reason afterwards follows which confines this view, "For yet
a little while, and I will visit the slaughters of Jezreel upon the
house of Jehu". Here interpreters labour not a little, because it
seems strange that God should visit the slaughter made by Jehu,
which yet he had approved; nay, Jehu did nothing thoughtlessly, but
knew that he was commanded to execute that vengeance. He was,
therefore, God's legitimate minister; and why is what God commanded
imputed to him now as a crime? This reasoning has driven some
interpreters to take "bloods" here for wicked deeds in general: 'I
will avenge the sins of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu.' Some say,
"I will avenge the slaughter of Naboth:" but this is wholly absurd,
nor can it suit the place, for, "upon the house of Jehu," is
distinctly expressed; and God did not visit the slaughter on the
house of Jehu, but on the house of Ahab. But they who are thus
embarrassed do not consider what the Prophet has in view. For God,
when he wished Jehu with his drawn sword to destroy the whole house
of Ahab, had this end as his object, - that Jehu should restore pure
worship, and cleanse the land from all defilements. Jehu then was
stirred up by the Spirit of God, that he might re-establish God's
pure worship. When a defender of religion, how did he act? He became
contented with his prey. After having seized on the kingdom for
himself, he confirmed idolatry and every abomination. He did not
then spend his labour for God. Hence that slaughter with regard to
Jehu was robbery; with regard to God it was a just revenge. this
view ought to satisfy us as to the explanation of this passage; and
I bring nothing but what the Holy Scripture contains. For after Jehu
seemed to burn with zeal for God, he soon proved that there was
nothing sincere in his heart; for he embraced all the superstitions
which previously prevailed in the kingdom of Israel. In short, the
reformation under Jehu was like that under Henry King of England;
who, when he saw that he could not otherwise shake off the yoke of
the Roman Antichrist than by some disguise, pretended great zeal for
a time: he afterwards raged cruelly against all the godly, and
doubled the tyranny of the Roman Pontiff: and such was Jehu.
    When we duly consider what was done by Henry, it was indeed an
heroic velour to deliver his kingdom from the hardest of tyrannies:
but yet, with regard to him, he was certainly worse than all the
other vassals of the Roman Antichrist; for they who continue under
that bondage, retain at least some kind of religion; but he was
restrained by no shame from men, and proved himself wholly void of
every fear towards God. He was a monster, and such was Jehu.
    Now, when the Prophet says, "I will avenge the slaughters of
Jezreel" upon the house of Jehu, it is no matter of wonder. How so?
For it was the highest honour to him, that God anointed him king,
that he, who was of a low family, was chosen a king by the Lord. He
ought then to have stretched every nerve to restore God's pure
worship, and to destroy all superstitions. This he did not; on the
contrary, he confirmed them. He was then a robber, and as to
himself, no minister of God.
    The meaning of the whole then is this: "Ye are not Israelites,
(there is here only an ambiguity as to the pronunciation of one
letter,) but Jezreelites;" which means, "Ye are not the descendants
of Jacob, but Jezreelites;" that is, "Ye are a degenerate people,
and differ nothing from king Ahab. He was accursed, and under him
the kingdom became accursed. Are ye changed? Is there any
reformation? Since then ye are obstinate in your wickedness, though
ye proudly claim the name of Jacob, ye are yet unworthy of such an
honour. I therefore call you Jezreelites."
    And the reason is added, "For yet a little while, and I will
visit the slaughters upon the house of Jehu". God now shows that the
people were destitute of all glory. But they thought that the memory
of all sins had been buried since the time that the house of Ahab
had been cut off. "Why? I will avenge these slaughters," saith the
Lord. It is customary, we know, with hypocrites, after having
punished one sin, to think that all things are lawful to them, and
to wish to be thus discharged before God. A thief will punish a
murder, but he himself will commit many murders. He thinks himself
redeemed, because he has paid God the price in punishing one man;
but he lets go others, who have been his accomplices, and he himself
hesitates not to commit many unjust murders. Since, then, hypocrites
thus mock God, the Prophet now justly shakes off such senselessness,
and says, "I will avenge these slaughters". "Do ye think it a deed
worthy of praise in Jehu, to destroy and root out the house of Ahab?
I indeed commanded it to be done but he turned the vengeance
enjoined on him to another end." How so? Because he became a robber;
for he did not punish the sins of Ahab, because he did the same
himself to the end of life, and continued to do the same in his
posterity, for Jeroboam was the fourth from him in the kingdom.
"Since, then, Jehu did not change the condition of the country, and
ye have ever been obstinate in your wickedness, I will avenge these
slaughters."
    This is a remarkable passage; for it shows that it is not
enough, nay, that it is of no moment, that a man should conduct
himself honourably before men, except he possesses also an upright
and sincere heart. He then who punishes evil deeds in others, ought
himself to abstain from them, and to measure the same justice to
himself as he does to others; for he who takes to himself a liberty
to sin, and yet punishes others, provokes against himself the wrath
of God.
    We now then perceive the true sense of this sentence, "I will
avenge the slaughters of Jezreel", to be this, that he would avenge
the slaughters made in the valley of Jezreel on the house of Jehu.
It is added "and I will abolish the kingdom of the house of Israel".
The house of Israel he calls that which had separated from the
family of David, as though he said, "This is a separated house." God
had indeed joined the whole people together, and they became one
body. It was torn asunder under Jeroboam. This was God's dreadful
judgement; for it was the same as if the people, like a torn body,
had been cut into two parts. But God, however, had hitherto
preserved these two parts, as though they were but one body, and
would have become the Redeemer of both people, had not a base
defection followed. And the Israelites having become, as it were,
putrified, so as now to be no part of his chosen people, our
Prophet, by way of contempt and reproach, rightly calls them the
house of Israel. It now follows -

Hosea 1:5
And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of
Israel in the valley of Jezreel.
    
    This verse was intentionally added; for the Israelites were so
inflated with their present good fortune, that they laughed at the
judgement denounced. They indeed knew that they were well furnished
with arms, and men, and money; in short, they thought themselves in
every way unassailable. Hence the Prophet declares, that all this
could not prevent God from punishing them. "Ye are," he says,
"inflated with pride; ye set up your velour against God, thinking
yourselves strong in arms and in power; and because ye are military
men, ye think that God can do nothing; and yet your bows cannot
restrain his hand from destroying you. But when he says, "I will
break the bow", he mentions a part for the whole; for under one sort
he comprehends every kind of arms. But as to what the Prophet had in
view, we see that his only object was to break down their false
confidence; for the Israelites thought that they should not be
exposed to the destruction which Hosea had predicted; for they were
dazzled with their own power, and thought themselves beyond the
reach of any danger, while they were so well fortified on every
side. Hence the Prophet says, that all their fortresses would be
nothing against God; for "in that day", when the ripe time for
vengeance shall come, the Lord will break all their bows, he will
tear in pieces all their arms, and reduce to nothing their power.
    We are here warned ever to take heed, lest any thing should
lead us to a torpid state when God threatens us. Though we may have
strength, though fortune (so to speak) may smile on us, though, in a
word, the whole world should combine to secure our safety, yet there
is no reason why we should felicitate ourselves, when God declares
himself opposed to and angry with us. Why so? Because, as he can
preserve us when unarmed whenever he pleases, so he can spoil us of
all our arms, and reduce our power to nothing. Let this verse then
come to our minds whenever God terrifies us by his threatening; and
what it teaches us is, that he can take away all the defences in
which we vainly trust.
    Now, as Jezreel was the metropolis of the kingdom, the Prophet
distinctly mentions the place, "I will break in pieces the bow of
Israel in the valley of Jezreel"; that is, the Lord sees what sort
of fortress there is in Samaria, in Jezreel; but he will make an end
of you there, in the very midst of the land. Ye think that you have
there a place of safety and a firm position; but the Lord will bring
you to nothing even in the valley of Jezreel. It follows -

Hosea 1:6
And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And [God] said unto
him, Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the
house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away.
    
    The Prophet shows in this verse that things were become worse
and worse in the kingdom of Israel, that they sinned, keeping within
no limits, that they rushed headlong into the extremes of impiety.
He has already told us, by calling them Jezreelites, that they were
from the beginning rejected and degenerate; as though he said, "Your
origin has nothing commendable in it; ye think yourselves to be very
eminent, because ye derive your descent from holy Jacob; but ye are
spurious children, born of a harlot: a brothel is not the house of
Abraham, nor is the house of Abraham a brothel. Ye are then the
offspring of debauchery." But he now goes farther and says, that as
time advanced, they had ever been falling into a worse state; for
this word, Loruchamah, is a more disgraceful name than Jezreel: and
the Lord also denounces here his vengeance more openly, when he
says,
    "I will no more add to pursue with mercy the house of Israel".
"Racham" means to pity, and also to love: but this second meaning is
derived from the other; for "racham" is not simply to love, but to
show gratuitous favour. By calling the daughter, then, Lo-ruchamah,
God intimates that his favour was now taken away from the people. We
know, indeed, that the people had been freely chosen; for if the
cause of adoption be inquired for, it must be said to have been the
mere mercy and goodness of God. Now then God, in repudiating the
people, says, "Ye are like a daughter whom her father casts away and
disowns, because he deems her unworthy of his favour." We now, then,
comprehend the design of the Prophet; for, after having shown the
Israelites to have been from the beginning spurious, and not the
true children of Abraham, he now adds, that, in course of time, they
had become so corrupt, that God would now utterly disown them, and
would no longer deem them as his house. He, therefore, charges them
with something more grievous than before, by saying, 'Call this
daughter Lo-ruchamah;' for she was born after Jezreel. Here he
describes by degrees the state of the people, that it continually
degenerated. Though they were at the beginning depraved; but they
were now, after the lapse of some time, utterly unworthy of God's
favour.
    "I will no more add", he says, "to pursue with favour the house
of Israel". God here shows what constant forbearance he had
exercised towards this people. "I will no more add", he says; as
though the Lord had said, "I do not now sally forth at the first
heat of wrath to take vengeance on you, as passionate men are wont
to do, who seize the sword as soon as any affront is given; I become
not so suddenly hot with anger. I have, therefore, hitherto borne
with you; but now your obstinacy is intolerable; I will not then
bear with you any more." The Prophet, as we see, evidently intimates
that the Israelites had very long abused the Lord's mercy, while he
spared them, so that now the ripe time of vengeance had come; for
the Lord had, for many years showed his favour to them, though they
never ceased at any time to seek destruction to themselves. Hence we
learn, as stated yesterday, that the Prophet's vehemence was not
hasty: for God had before given warnings, more than sufficient, to
the Israelites; he had also forgiven them many sins; he had borne
with them until the state of things proved that they were altogether
incurable. Since, then, the forbearance of God produced no effect on
them, it was necessary to come to this last remedy, that the Lord
should, as it were, with a drawn sword, appear as a judge to take
vengeance.
    He afterwards says, "ki naso esa lahem". This sentence is
variously explained. Some think that the verb is derived from the
root "nasah", with a final "he"; which means "to forget", as though
it was said "By forgetting, I will forget them;" and the sense is
not unsuitable. The Chaldean paraphraser wholly departs from this
meaning, for he renders the clause, "By sparing, I will spare them."
There is no reason for this; for God, as the context clearly shows,
does not yet promise pardon to them; this meaning, then, cannot
stand. They come nearer to the design of the Prophet who thus
translate, "I will bring to them," that is, the enemy; for "nasa"
signifies to take, and also to bring into the middle. But I prefer
embracing their opinion who consider that "lahem" is placed here for
"otam"; for the servile letter "lamed", has often the same meaning
with the particle "et", which is prefixed to an objective case. Then
the rendering is, literally given, "For, by taking away, I will take
them away:" and the Hebrews often use this mode of speaking, and the
sense is plainer, "By taking away, I will take them away." Some
render the passage, "I will burn them;" but this explanation is
rather harsh. I am satisfied with the meaning, to take, but I
understand it in the sense of taking away. Then it is, "By taking
away, I will take them away."
    And this is what the following verse confirms; for when the
Prophet speaks of the house of Judah, the Lord says, "With mercy
will I follow the house of Judah, and will save them." The Prophet
sets "to save" and "to take away" in opposition the one to the
other.
    We may then learn by the context what he meant by these words,
and that is, that Israel had hitherto stood through the Lord's
mercy; as though he said, "How has it happened that ye continue as
yet alive? Do you think yourselves to be safe through your own
valour? Nay, my mercy has hitherto preserved you. Now, then, when I
shall withdraw my favour from you, your ruin will be inevitable; you
must necessarily perish, and be brought to nothing: for as I have
hitherto preserved you, so I will utterly tear you away and destroy
you." A profitable lesson may be farther gathered from this passage,
and that is, that hypocrites deceive themselves when they boast of
the present favour of God, and, at the same time, exult without any
fear against him; for as God for a time spares and tolerates them,
so he can justly destroy and reduce them to nothing. But the next
verse must be also joined.

Hosea 1:7
But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by
the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor
by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.
    
    This verse sufficiently proves what I said yesterday, that the
Prophet was specifically appointed to the kingdom of Israel; for he
seems here to speak favourably of the Jews, who yet, we know, had
been severely and deservedly reproved by their own teachers. For
what does Isaiah say, after having spoken of the dreadful
corruptions which then prevailed in the kingdom of Israel? 'Come,'
he says, 'into the house of Judah, they at least continue as yet
pure: there,' he says, 'all the tables are full of vomiting; they
are drunken; there reigns also the contempt of God and all impiety,'
(Isa. 28: 8.) We see then that the Jews were not a virtuous people,
of whom the Prophet has spoken so honourably. For though the
exterior worship of God continued at Jerusalem, and the temple, at
least under Uzziah and Jotham, was free from every superstition, and
also under king Hezekiah; yet the morals of the people, we know,
were very corrupt. Avarice, and cruelty, and every kind of fraud,
reigned there, and also filthy lusts. The conduct, then, of that
people was nothing better than that of the Israelites. Why, then,
does the Prophet dignify them with so great an honour as to exempt
them from God's vengeance? Because he had an eye to the people to
whom he was appointed a Prophet. He therefore institutes a
comparison. He interferes not with the Jews, for he knew that they
had faithful pastors who reproved their sins; but he continued among
his own hearers. But this comparison served, in an especial manner,
to touch the hearts of the people of Israel; for the Prophet, we
know, made this reference particularly for this end, to condemn
fictitious worship. He now sets the worship at Jerusalem in
opposition to all those superstitions which Jeroboam first
introduced, which Ahab increased, and all their posterity followed.
Hence he says, "I will show favour" to the house of Judas.
    That we may better understand the mind of the Prophet, it may
be well to repeat what we said yesterday: - The kingdom of Judah was
then miserably wasted. The kingdom of Israel had ten tribes, the
kingdom of Judah only one and a half, and it was also diminished by
many slaughters; yea, the Israelites had spoiled the temple of the
Lord, and had taken all the gold and silver they found there. The
Jews, then, had been reduced to a very low state, they hardly dared
to mutter; but the Israelites, as our Prophet will hereafter tell
us, were like beasts well fed. Since, then, they despised the Jews,
who seemed despicable in the eyes of the world, the Prophet beats
down this vain confidence, and says, "With mercy will I follow the
house of Judah". "The house of Judah seems now to be almost nothing,
for they are few in number, nor are they very strong, and wealth
abounds not among them as among you; but with them shall dwell my
favour, and I will take it away from you."
    It after arts follows, "And I will save them by Jehovah their
God". Salvation is here set in opposition to the destruction which
the Prophet mentioned in the last verse. But Hosea shows that
salvation depends not in the least either on arms or on any of the
intervenients, as they say, of this world; but has its foundation
only on God's favour. "I will save them", he says - why? "because my
favour will I show them". This connection ought to be carefully
noticed. Where the Lord's favour is, there is life. 'Thou art our
God, then we shall never perish,' as it is written in the first
chapter of Habakkuk. Hence the Prophet here connects salvation with
God's gratuitous favour; for we cannot continue safe, but as long as
God is propitious to us. He has, on the other hand, declared that it
would be all over with the Israelites as soon as God would take away
from them his favour.
    But he says, "By Jehovah their God". An antithesis is to be
understood here between the false gods and Jehovah, who was the God
of the house of Judah. It is the same as though the Prophet said,
"Ye indeed profess the name of God, but ye worship the devil and not
God: for ye have nothing to do with Jehovah, with the God who is the
creator and maker of heaven and earth; for he dwells in his own
temple; he pledged his faith to David, when he commanded him to
build a temple for him on mount Zion; he dwells there between the
cherubim, as the Prophets invariably declare: but the true God is
become exiled from you." We hence see how he condemns here all the
worship which the Israelites then so highly valued. Why did he do
so? Because it was not acceptable to God.
    And this passage deserves to be noticed, for we see how stupid
men are in this respect. When once they are persuaded that they
worship God, they are seized by some fascination of Satan so as to
become delighted with all their own dotages, as we see to be the
case at this day with the Papists, who are not only insane, but
doubly frantic. If any one reproves them and says, that they worship
not the true God, they are instantly on fire - "What! does not God
accept our worship?" But the Prophet here shows by one word that
Jehovah is not in any place, except where he is rightly worshipped
according to the rule of his word. I will save them, he says - How?
"By Jehovah their God"; and God himself speaks: He might have said,
"I will save them by myself;" but it was not without reason that he
used this circuitous mode of speaking; it was to show the Israelites
that they had no reason to think that God would be propitious to
them. How so? Because God had chosen an habitation for himself on
mount Zion and in Jerusalem. A fuller declaration afterwards
follows, "I will save them neither by the bow, nor by the sword, nor
by war, nor by horses, nor by horsemen". But this clause, by God's
favour, I will explain tomorrow.
    
Prayer.
    
    Grant, Almighty God, that as we were from our beginning lost,
when thou wert pleased to extend to us thy hand, and to restore us
to salvation for the sake of thy Son; and that as we continue even
daily to run headlong to our own ruin, - O grant that we may not, by
sinning so often, so provoke at length thy displeasure as to cause
thee to take away from us the mercy which thou hast hitherto
exercised towards us, and through which thou hast adopted us: but by
thy Spirit destroy the wickedness of our heart, and restore us to a
sound mind, that we may ever cleave to thee with a true and sincere
heart, that being fortified by thy defence, we may continue safe
even amidst all kinds of danger, until at length thou gatherest us
into that blessed rest, which has been prepared for us in heaven by
our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Lecture Third
    
    We have to explain first this clause, "I will save the house of
Judah neither by the bow, nor by the sword, nor by war, nor by
horses, nor by horsemen". What the Prophet had touched upon before
is here more clearly expressed, and that is, that God has no need of
foreign aids, for he is content with his own power. But Hosea
continues his contrast; for the people of Israel, as they possessed
much carnal power, thought themselves, as they say, beyond the reach
of darts: but the kingdom of Judah was exposed to all dangers, as it
was not powerful in forces and arms. This folly the Prophet exposes
to contempt, and says, that safety is dependent on God alone, that
men in vain trust in their own velour, and that there is no reason
why the needy and destitute should despair of their safety, as God
alone is abundantly sufficient to preserve the faithful. The meaning
then is, that though the destitute condition of the kingdom of Judah
was an object of contempt to all, yet this would be no obstacle,
that it should not be preserved through God's favour, though it
obtained no aid from men. And let us learn from this place, that we
are not so preserved by the Lord, that he never employs any natural
means; and further, that when he has no recourse to them, he is
abundantly sufficient to secure our safety. We ought then so to
ascribe our safety to the Lord as not to think that any thing comes
to us through ourselves, or through angels, or through men. Let us
now proceed -

Hosea 1:8,9
Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son.
Then said [God], Call his name Loammi: for ye [are] not my people,
and I will not be your [God].
    
    The "weaning" the Prophet mentions here is by some understood
allegorically; as though he said, that the people would for a time
be deprived of prophecies, and of the priesthood, and of other
spiritual gifts: but this is frigid. The Prophet here, I have no
doubt, sets forth the patience of God towards that people. The Lord
then, before he had utterly cast away the Israelites, waited
patiently for their repentance, if, indeed, there was any hope for
it; but when he found them be ever like themselves, he then at
length proceeded to the last punishment. Hence Hosea says, that the
daughter, who was the second child, was weaned; as though he said,
that the people of Israel had not been suddenly cast away, for God
had with long patience borne with them, and thus suspended heavier
judgement, until, having found their wickedness to be unhealable, he
at length commenced what follows, "Call" the third child Lo-ammi.
    The reason is added "For ye are not my people, and I will not
hereafter be yours". This, as I have said, is the final disowning of
them. They had been before called Jezreelites, and then by the name
of the daughter God testified that he was alienated from them; but
now the third name is still more grievous, "Ye are not my people";
for God here abolishes, in a manner, the covenant he made with the
holy fathers, so that the people would cease to have any pre-
eminence over other nations. So then the Israelites were reduced to
a condition in which they differed nothing from the profane
Gentiles; and thus God wholly disinherited them. The Prophet,
doubtless, was not well received, when he denied them to be God's
people, who had yet descended from Abraham according to the flesh,
who had ever been so accounted, and who continued proudly to boast
of their election.
    But let us hence learn, that those awfully mistake who are
blind to their own vices, because God spares and indulges them. For
we must ever remember what I have said before, that the kingdom of
Israel was then opulent; and yet the Prophet denies them, who
flourished in strength, and power, and riches, to be God's people.
There is then no reason for hypocrites to felicitate themselves in
prosperity; but they ought, on the contrary, to have regard to God's
judgement. But though these, as we see to be the case, heedlessly
despise God, yet this passage reminds us carefully to beware lest we
abuse the present favours of God. It follows -

Hosea 1:10
Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the
sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to
pass, [that] in the place where it was said unto them, Ye [are] not
my people, [there] it shall be said unto them, [Ye are] the sons of
the living God.
    
    Now follows consolation, yet not unmixed. God seems here to
meet the objections which we know hypocrites had in readiness,
whenever the Prophets denounced destruction on them; for they
accused God of being unfaithful if he did not save them. Arrogating
to themselves the title of Church, they concluded that it would be
impossible for them to perish for God would not be untrue in his
promises. "Why! God has promised that his Church shall be for ever:
we are his Church; then we are safe, for God cannot deny himself."
In what they took as granted they were deceived; for though they
usurped the title of Church, they were yet alienated from God. We
see that the Papists swell with this pride at this day. To excuse
all their errors they set up against us this shield, "Christ
promised to be with his own to the end of the world. Can the spouse
desert his Church? Can the Son of God, who is the eternal Truth of
the Father, fail in his faithfulness?" The Papists magnificently
extol the faithfulness of Christ, that they may bind him to
themselves: but at the same time, they consider not that they are
covenant breakers; they consider not that they are manifestly the
enemies of God; they consider not that they have divorced themselves
from him.
    The Prophet, therefore seeing that he had to do with proud men,
who were wont to arraign the justice of God, says, "The number of
the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea"; that is,
"When the Lord shall cut you off, still safe will remain this
promise which was given to Abraham; 'Look at the stars of heaven,
number, if thou can't, the sand of the sea; so shall thy seed be,'"
(Gen. 22: 5.) We indeed know, that whenever the Prophets severely
reproved the people and denounced destruction, this was ever opposed
to them, "What! can it be that the Lord will destroy us? What would
then become of this promise, Thy seed shall be as the stars of
heaven and as the sand of the sea?" Hence the Prophet here checks
this vain-confidence, by which hypocrites supported themselves
against all threatening, "Though God may cut you off, he will yet
continue true and faithful to the promise, that Abraham's seed shall
be innumerable as the sand of the sea."
    I indeed admit that the Prophet here gave hope of salvation to
the faithful; for it is certain that there were some remaining in
the kingdom of Israel. Though the whole body had revolted, yet God,
as it was said to Elijah, had preserved to himself some seed. The
Prophet then was unwilling to leave the faithful, who remained among
that lost people, without hope of salvation; but, at the same time,
he had regard to hypocrites, as we have already stated. We now see
the design of the Prophet, for he teaches that there would be such a
vengeance as he had spoken of, though God would not yet be forgetful
of his word; he teaches that there would be such a casting away of
the people, though God's election would yet remain firm and
unchangeable; in short, he teaches that the adoption by which God
had chosen the offspring of Abraham as his people would not be void.
This is the import of the whole. Then the number of the children of
Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which is not to be measured
nor numbered.
    He afterwards adds, "And it shall be in the place where it had
been said to them", (shall be said, literally,) "Ye are not my
people; there it shall be said, Ye are the sons of the living God".
It has been asked, whether this prophecy belongs to the posterity of
those who had been dispersed. This, indeed, would be strange; for so
long a time has passed away since their exile, and dejected and
broken, they dwell at this day in mountains and in other desert
places; at least many of them are in the mountains of Armenia, some
are in Media and Chaldea; in short, throughout the whole of the
East. And since there has been no restoration of this people, it is
certain that this prophecy ought not to be restricted to seed
according to the flesh. For there was a prescribed time for the
Jews, when the Lord purposed to restore them to their country; and,
at the end of seventy years, a free return was granted them by
Cyrus. Then Hosea speaks not here of the kingdom of Israel, but of
the Church, which was to be restored by a return, composed both of
Jews and of Gentiles. So Paul, a fit interpreter of this passage,
reminds us, 'Whom he has called, not only of the Jews, but also of
the Gentiles; as he says by Hosea, I will call a people, who were
not mine, my people; and her beloved, who was not beloved: and it
shall be, where it had been said to them, Ye are not my people;
there shall they be called the sons of the living God,' (Rom. 9: 24,
&c.) Paul applies this passage, and that rightly, to the whole body
of the faithful, collected without any difference, from the Jews as
well as from the Gentiles: for otherwise, as we have said, the
correctness and truth of prophecy would not be evident: and this
view also agrees best with the design of the Prophet which I have
just explained. For, since hypocrites in a manner tie to themselves
the power of God, the Prophet says, that God can, if he chooses,
raise up in an instant a new Church, which would exceed in number
the sand of the sea. How so? God will create a Church for himself.
From what? From stones, from nothing: for, as Paul says elsewhere,
'he calls those things which are not, as though they were,' (Rom. 4:
17.) At the same time, God, as it has been said, by his goodness
contended with the wickedness of that people; for though they
rejected his favour, yea, and obstinately thrust it away from
themselves, yet such perverseness did not hinder the Lord from
preserving a remnant for himself.
    Now, this passage teaches, that they are very perverted in
their notions, who, by their own feelings, form a judgement of the
state of the Church, and accuse God of being unfaithful, when its
external appearance does not correspond with their opinion. So the
Papists think; for except they see the splendour of great pomp, they
conclude that no Church remains in the world. But God at one time so
diminishes the Church, that it seems to be almost reduced to
nothing; at another time, he increases and multiplies it beyond all
hope, after having raised it, as it were, from death. Isaiah says in
the tenth chapter, ver. 22, 'Were the number of the children of
Israel as the sand of the sea, a remnant only shall be saved.' The
Prophet there designedly exposes to scorn the hypocrites, who
falsely pleaded that prophecy, 'Look on the stars of heaven, and on
the sand of the sea, if thou can't number them; so shall thy seed
be.' Since, then, Isaiah saw that hypocrites, relying on that
prophecy, were rising so perversely against him, he said, "Be it so,
be it so, that ye are as the stars of heaven, and as the sand of the
sea; yet a remnant only shall be saved;" which means, "The Lord will
at last cut you down, and reduce you to so small a number, that ye
shall be extremely few." Now, on the other hand, Hosea says, That
after the Israelites shall be reduced to a very small number, that
nothing but waste and solitude will appear, then the Lord will
restore the Church beyond all human thoughts and will prove that he
had not in vain promised to Abraham that his seed would be as the
sand of the sea. Since, then, the Lord wonderfully defends his
Church, and preserves it in this world, so that at one time he seems
to bury it, and then he raises it from death; at one time he cuts it
down as to its outward appearance, and then afterwards he renews it;
we ought to take heed, lest we measure according to our own
judgement and carnal reason, what the Lord declares respecting the
preservation of his Church. For its safety is often hid from the
eyes of men. However the case may be, God does not bind himself here
to human means, nor to the order of nature, but his purpose is to
surpass by his incredible power whatever the minds of men can
conceive.
    Thus then ought this passage, "The number of the children of
Israel shall be as the sand of the sea", to be expounded: God will
gather his Church from all quarters, from the Gentiles as well as
from the Jews when the whole world will think it to be extinct.
    "And it shall be in the place where it had been said, Ye are
not my people; there it shall be said, Ye are the sons of the living
God". The Prophet, in these words, amplifies by a comparison the
grace of God; as though he said, "When God shall restore anew his
Church, its state shall be more excellent than before." How so?
"They shall not only," he says, "be the people of God, but also the
sons of the living God;" which means, that God will more familiarly
show himself a Father to those, whom he will thus suddenly gather
into one body. I indeed allow that the ancients under the law were
honoured with this title; but we ought to attend to the present
passage; for the Prophet contrasts the two clauses, the one with the
other: "And it shall be in the place where it had been said, Ye are
not my people; it shall be said there, Ye are the sons of the living
God". He might have said, "And it shall be in the place where it had
been said, Ye are not my people; there it shall be said, Ye are nosy
my people:" but he ascends higher; God will confer more honour on
his new people, for he will more clearly manifest his favour to them
by this title of adoption: and it belongs in common to all, to the
Gentiles as well as to the Israelites. We ought not to apply this,
as it is commonly done, exclusively to the Gentiles: for Hosea
speaks not here only of the Church which God attained for himself
from the Gentiles, but of the whole Israel of God, a part of whom is
the seed of Abraham. Let us then know that God here offers his grace
generally, to the Israelites as well as to the Gentiles, and
testifies, that after having justly cast away this people, he would
make all to know that he had not been unmindful of his covenant, for
he would attain to himself a much larger Church - from whom? From
the children of Abraham, as it has been said, as well as from
strangers.
    And there is an important meaning in the verb, 'It shall be
said:' "It shall be where it had been said, Ye are not my people,
there it shall be said", - The Prophet means, that our salvation
appears not, before the Lord has begun to testify to us of his
good-will. Hence the beginning of our salvation is God's call, when
he declares himself to be propitious to us: without his word, no
hope shines on us. Hosea might have said, 'It shall be in the place
where it had been said, Ye are not my people, there they shall begin
to be the sons of God:' but he expresses more, 'It shall be where it
had been said, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said, Ye are
the sons of the living God.'
    As to the first clause, it must be referred to the threatening
which have been already explained; and in this way was also checked
the contumacy of the people, who heedlessly despised all the
Prophets. "What! God has bound himself to us: we are the race of
Abraham; then we are a holy and elect nation." But the Prophet here
claims authority to himself as a teacher: "I am a herald of God's
vengeance, and seriously proclaim to you your rejection: there is
then no reason why ye should now harden your hearts and close your
ears; for now at length will follow the execution of that vengeance
which I now declare to you." The Prophet then declares here that he
had not rashly pronounced what we before noticed, that it was not an
empty bug bear, but that he had spoken in the Lord's name; as Paul
also says, 'Vengeance is prepared by us against all them who extol
themselves against Christ,' (2 Cor. 10: 6.) And we see also what was
said to Ezekiel, 'Go and besiege Jerusalem; turn thy face, and stand
there until thou stormest it, until thou overthrowest it.' The
prophet was not certainly furnished with an army, so that he could
make an attack upon Jerusalem: but God means there that there is
power enough in his word to destroy all the ungodly. So also Hosea
signifies the same here: "When by the word alone the Israelites
shall be cast away it shall be said, Ye are the sons of the living
God." Let us then know, that God rises upon us with certain
salvation, when we hear him speaking to us. It follows

Hosea 1:11
Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be
gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall
come up out of the land: for great [shall be] the day of Jezreel.
    
    The Prophet speaks here peculiarly of the children of Abraham;
for though God would make no more account of them than of other
nations, he yet wished it to be ascribed to his covenant, that they
in honour excelled others; and the right of primogeniture, we know,
is everywhere given to them. Then as Abraham's children were
first-begotten in the Church, even after the coming of Christ, God
here especially addresses them, "Ascend together from the land shall
the children of Israel and the children of Judah, and they shall
assemble together, and appoint for themselves one head". In the last
verse, Hosea spake of the universal gathering of the Church; but now
he confines his address to the natural race of Abraham. Why? Because
God commenced a restoration with that people, when he extended his
hand to the miserable exiles to bring them back from the Babylonian
captivity to their own country. As then this was the beginning of
the gathering, the Prophet, not without reason, turns his address
here to them, and thus sets them in higher honour, not that they
were worthy, not that they could by any merit claim this dignity;
but because God would not make void his covenant, and because he had
chosen them that they might be the first-begotten, as it has been
already stated, and as they are also elsewhere called, 'My
first-begotten is Ephraim,' (Jer. 31:  9.) We now then understand
the order and arrangement of the Prophet, which is to be carefully
noticed, and the more so, because interpreters confound all these
things, and make no distinctions, when yet the Prophet has not here
mingled together the children of Israel and the children of Judah
with the Gentiles, except for a certain purpose.
    Let us now consider the words of the Prophet. "Assembled
together", he says, "shall be the children of Israel and the
children of Judah". No doubts the Prophet has in view the
scattering, which had now lasted more than two hundred years, when
Jeroboam had led away the ten tribes. Inasmuch as the body became
then torn asunder, the Prophet says, "Together shall be gathered the
children of Judah and the children of Israel". And designedly does
he thus speak, lest the Israelites should felicitate themselves on
their own power; since they were a mutilated body without a head;
for the king of Israel, properly speaking, was not legitimate. The
Lord had indeed anointed Jeroboam; and afterwards Jehu, I admit, had
been anointed; but it was done for the sake of executing judgement.
For when the Lord intended really to bless the people, he chose
David to rule over them; and then he committed the government over
all the children of Abraham to the posterity of David. There was
therefore no legitimate head over the people of Israel. And the
Prophet intended distinctly to express this by saying, "Gathered
together shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel";
which means this, "Ye are now secure, because fortune smiles on you;
because ye are overflowing with money and all good things; because
ye are terrible to your neighbours; because ye have cities well
fortified; but your safety depends on another thing, even on this, -
that ye be one body under one head. For ye must be miserable except
God rules over you; and the only way in which this can be is, that
ye be under the government of David. Your separation, then, proves
your state to be accursed; your earthly happiness in which you
felicitate yourselves, is unhappiness before God." The Prophet then
reminded the people of Israel, that God would at last deal kindly
with them by restoring them to their first unity. The import of the
whole then is, that the children of Abraham shall then at length be
blessed, when they shall unite again in one body, and when one head
shall rule over them. They "shall" then "be gathered together, and
appoint one head". The Prophet shows here also what kind of
assembling this will be which he mentions, which was to be this, -
they shall be gathered under the government of one king. For
whenever God speaks of the restoration of the people, he ever calls
the attention of the faithful to David: 'David shall rule, there
shall be one shepherd.' Then one king and one head shall be among
them. We now perceive the design of the Prophet.
    But this passage clearly teaches, that the unity of men is of
no account before God, except it originates from one head. Besides,
it is well known that God set David over his ancient people until
the coming of Christ. Now, then, the Church of the Lord is only
rightly formed, when the true David rules over it; that is, when all
with one consent obey Christ, and submit to his bidding, and how
Christ designs to rule in his Church, we know; for the sceptre of
his kingdom is the gospel. Hence, when Christ is honoured with the
obedience of faith, all things are safe; and this is the happy state
of the Church, of which the Prophet now speaks. It seems, indeed,
strange, that what is peculiar to God should be transferred to men -
that is, to appoint a king. But the Prophet has, by this expression,
characterised the obedience of faith; for it is not enough that
Christ should be given as a king, and set over men, unless they also
embrace him as their king, and with reverence receive him. We now
learn, that when we believe the gospel we choose Christ for our
king, as it were, by a voluntary consent.
    He afterwards subjoins, "They shall ascend from the land". He
expresses more than at the beginning of the verse; for he says, that
God would restore them from exile to their own country. He then
promises what was very necessary, that exile would be no hindrance
to God to renew his Church; for it was the people's ruin to be
removed far from their country, and consequently to be deprived of
their promised inheritance during their dispersion among heathen
nations. The Lord then takes away this difficulty, and distinctly
declares, that though for a time they should be as wholly destroyed,
they should yet come again to their own land. They "shall",
therefore, "ascend", (this is said with regard to Judea, for it is
higher than Chaldea) - they "shall", therefore, "ascend" from
Chaldea and other places in which they had been dispersed. We now
understand what the Prophet means by saying, "Gathered together
shall be the children of Israel and the children of Judah" - that
is, into one body; and further, they shall appoint for themselves
one head. This is the manner of the gathering; and it must be also
added, that the Church then obeys God, when all, from the first to
the last, consent to one head: for it is not enough to be
constrained, unless all willingly offer themselves to Christ; as it
is said in Psalm 110:, 'There shall be a willing people in the day
in which the King will call his own.' Then the Prophet intended to
express the obedience of faith, which the faithful will render to
Christ, when the Lord shall restore them.
    And they "shall ascend", he says, "from the land; for great
shall be the day of Jezreel". It may be asked, why does he here call
the day of Jezreel great; for it seems contrary to prophecy? This
passage may be explained in two ways. Great shall be the day of
Jezreel, some say, because Goal will sow the people whom he had
before scattered. So they think that the Prophet, as in a former
instance, alludes to the word, Jezreel. But the sense seems to me to
be another. I do not restrict this clause to the last, nor to the
promise, but apply it to the slaughter which has been before
mentioned; for they correspond with one another. "They shall ascend
from the land; for great shall be the day of Jezreel". The
Israelites were as yet resting in their nests, and thought that they
could not by any means be torn away; besides, the kingdom of Judah
did not then fear a near destruction. The Prophet, therefore,
intimates here, that there would be a need of some signal and
extraordinary remedy; for it shall be the severe and dreadful
slaughter in the day of Jezreel. We now perceive the real meaning of
the Prophet, "They shall ascend from the land; for I great shall be
the day of Jezreel".
    They might, indeed, have otherwise objected, and said, "Why
dost thou thus prophesy to us about ascending? What is this
ascending? Do we not rest quietly in the inheritance which God
formerly promised to our fathers? What meanest thou, then, by this
ascending?" The Prophet here rouses them, and reminds them that they
had no reason to trust in their now quiet state, as wine settled on
its lees; and this very similitude is even used in another place,
(Jer. 48: 11.) The Prophet here declares, that there would be a most
dreadful slaughter, which Would call for the signal mercy of God;
for he would in a wonderful manner restore the people, and draw them
out like the dead from their graves: "for great" then shall be the
day of Jezreel; that is, "As the calamity which the Lord shall bring
on you will be grievous and dreadful, I do not in vain promise to
you this return and ascending." This seems to be really the meaning
of the Prophet.
    
Prayer.

Grant, Almighty God, that as we have not only been redeemed from
Babylonian exile, but have also emerged from hell itself; for when
we were the children of wrath thou didst freely adopt us, and when
we were aliens, thou didst in thine infinite goodness open to us the
gate of thy kingdom, that we might be made thy heirs through thy
Son, - O grant that we may walk circumspectly before thee, and
submit ourselves wholly to thee and to thy Christ, and not feign to
be his members, but really prove ourselves to be his body, and to be
so governed by his Spirit, that thou mayest at last gather us
together into thy celestial kingdom, to which thou daily invites us
by the same Christ our Lord. Amen.




Chapter 2.

Lecture Fourth.

Hosea 2:1
Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah.
    
    The Prophet having spoken of the people's restoration, and
promised that God would some time receive into favour those whom he
had before rejected, now exhorts the faithful mutually to stir up
one another to receive this favour. He had previously mentioned a
public proclamation; for it is not in the power of men to make
themselves the children of God, but God himself freely adopts them.
But now the mutual exhortation of which the Prophet speaks follows
the proclamation; for God at the same time invites us to himself.
After we are taught in common, it remains then that each one should
extend his hand to his brethren, that we may thus with one consent
be brought together to the Lord.
    This then is what the Prophet means by saying, "Say ye to your
brethren, ami, and to your sisters ruchamah"; that is, since I have
promised to be propitious to you, you can now safely testify this to
one another. We then see that this discourse is addressed to each of
the faithful, that they may mutually confirm themselves in the
faith, after the Lord shall offer them favour and reconciliation.
Let us now proceed -

Hosea 2:2
Plead with your mother, plead: for she [is] not my wife, neither
[am] I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of
her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts;
    
    The Prophet seems in this verse to contradict himself; for he
promised reconciliation, and now he speaks of a new repudiation.
These things do not seem to agree well together that God should
embrace, or be willing to embrace, again in his love those whom he
had before rejected, - and that he should at the same time send a
bill of divorce, and renounce the bond of marriage. But if we weigh
the design of the Prophet, we shall see that the passage is very
consistent, and that there is in the words no contrariety. He has
indeed promised that at a future time God would be propitious to the
Israelites: but as they had not yet repented, it was needful to deal
again more severely with them, that they might return to their God
really and thoroughly subdued. So we see that in Scripture, promises
and threatening are mingled together, and rightly too. For were the
Lord to spend a whole month in reproving sinners they may in that
time fall away a hundred times. Hence God, after showing to men
their sins adds some consolation and moderates severity, lest they
should despond: he afterwards returns again to threatening, and does
so from necessity; for though men may be terrified with the fear of
punishment, they do not yet really repent. It is then necessary for
them to be reproved not only once and again, but very often.
    We now then perceive what the Prophet had in view: he had
spoken of the people's defection; afterwards he proved that the
people had been justly rejected by the Lord; and then he promised
the hope of pardon. But now seeing that they still continued
obstinate in their vices, he reproves again those who had need of
such chastisement. He, in a word, has in view their present state.
    Almost all so expound this verse as if the Prophet addressed
the faithful: and with greater refinement still do they expound, who
say, that the Prophet addresses the faithful who had fallen away
from the synagogue. They have and I have no doubt, been much
deceived; for the Prophets on the contrary, shows here that God was
justly punishing the Israelites, who were wont to excuse themselves
in the same way as hypocrites are wont to do. When the Lord treated
them otherwise than according to their wishes, they expostulated,
and raised up contention - "What does this mean?" So do we find them
introduced as thus speaking, by Isaiah in chapter 58. There, indeed,
they fiercely contend with God, as if the Lord dealt with them
unjustly, for they seemed not conscious of having done any evil.
Hence the Prophet, seeing the Israelites so senseless in their sins,
says, "Contend, contend with your mother". He speaks here in the
person of God: and God, as it has been stated, uses the similitude
of a marriage. Let us now see what is the import of the words.
    When a husband repudiates his wife, he fixes a mark of disgrace
on the children born by that marriage: their mother has been
divorced; then the children, on account of that divorce, are held in
less esteem. When a husband repudiates his wife through waywardness,
the children justly regard him with hatred. Why? "Because he loved
not our mother as he ought to have done; he has not honoured the
bond of marriage." It is therefore usually the case, that the
children's affections are alienated from their father, when he
treats their mother with too little humanity or with entire
contempt. So the Israelites, when they saw themselves rejected,
wished to throw the blame on God. For by the name, "mother", are the
people here called; it is transferred to the whole body of the
people, or the race of Abraham. God had espoused that people to
himself, and wished them to be like a wife to him. Since then God
was a husband to the people, the Israelites were as sons born by
that marriage. But when they were repudiated, the Israelites said,
that God dealt cruelly with them, for he has cast them away for no
fault. The Prophet now undertakes the defence of God's cause, and
speaks also in his person, "Contend, contend," he says "with your
mother". In a word, this passage agrees with what is said in the
beginning of the 50th chapter of Isaiah, 'Where is the bill of
repudiation? Have I sold you to my creditors? But ye have been sold
for your sins, and your mother has been repudiated for her
iniquity.' Husbands were wont to give a bill of divorce to their
wives, that they themselves might see it: for it freed them from
every reproach, inasmuch as the husband bore a testimony to his
wife: "I dismiss her, not that she has been unfaithful, not that she
has violated the bond of marriage; but because her beauty does not
please me, or because her manners are not agreeable to me." The law
compelled the husband to give such a testimony as this. God now says
by his Prophet, "Show me now the bill of repudiation: have I of my
own accord cast away your mother? No, I have not done so. Ye cannot
accuse me of cruelty, as though her beauty did not please me, and as
though I had followed the common practice approved by you. I have
not willingly rejected her, nor at my own pleasure, and I have not
sold her to my creditors, as your fathers were sometimes wont to do,
as to their children, when they were in debt." In short, the Lord
shows there that the Jews were to be blamed, that they were rejected
together with their mother. So he says also in this place, Contend,
contend with your mother; which means, "Your dispute is not with
me:" and by the repetition he shows how inveterate was their
perverseness, for they never ceased to glamour against God. We now
see the real meaning of the Prophet.
    In vain then do they philosophise, who say that the mother was
to be condemned by her own children; because, when they shall be
converted to their former faith, they ought then to condemn the
synagogue. The Prophet meant no such thing; but, on the contrary, he
brings this charge against the Israelites, that they had been
repudiated for the flagitious conduct of their mother, and had
ceased to be counted the children of God. For the comparison between
husband and wife is here to be understood; and then the children are
placed as it were in the middle. When the mother is dismissed, the
children indignantly say that the father has been too inhuman if
indeed he wilfully divorces his wife: but when a wife becomes
unfaithful to her husband, or prostitutes herself to any shameful
crime, the husband is then free from every blame; and there is no
cause for the children to expostulate with him; for he ought thus to
punish a shameless wife. God then shows that the Israelites were
justly rejected, and that the blame of their rejection belonged to
the whole race of Abraham; but that no blame could be imputed to
him.
    And for a reason it is added, "Let her then take away her
fornication from her face, and her adulteries from the midst of her
breasts". The Prophet, by saying, "Let her then take away her
fornications", (for the copulative "waw" ought to be regarded as an
illative,) confirms what we have just now said; that is that God had
stood to his pledged faith, but that the people had become
perfidious; and that the cause of the divorce or separation was,
that the Israelites persevered not, as they ought to have done, in
the obedience of faith. Then God says, "Let her take away her
fornications". But the phrase, "Let her take away from her face and
from her breasts", seems singular; and what does it mean? because
women commit fornication neither by the face nor by the breasts. It
is evident the Prophet alludes to meretricious finery; for harlots,
that they may entice men, sumptuously adorn themselves, and
carefully paint their face and decorate their breasts. Wantonness
then appears in the face as well as in the breasts. But interpreters
do not touch on what the Prophet had in view. The Prophet, no doubt,
sets forth here the shamelessness of the people; for they had now so
hardened themselves in their contempt of God, in their ungodly
superstitions, in all kinds of wickedness, that they were like
harlots, who conceal not their baseness, but openly prostitute
themselves, yea, and exhibit tokens of their shamelessness in their
eyes as well as in every part of their bodies. We see then that the
people are here accused of disgraceful impudence as they had grown
so callous as to wish to be known to be such as they were. In the
same way does Ezekiel set forth their reproachful conduct, 'Spread
has the harlot her feet, she called on all who passed by the way,'
(Ezek. 16: 25.)
    We now then understand why the Prophet expressly said, "Let her
take away from her face her fornication, and from her breasts her
adulteries": for he teaches that the vices of the people were not
hidden, and that they did not now sin and cover their baseness as
hypocrites do, but that they were so unrestrained in their contempt
of God, that they were become like common harlots.
    Here is a remarkable passage; for we first see that men in vain
complain when the Lord seems to deal with them in severity; for they
will ever find the fault to be in themselves and in their parents:
yea, when they look on all impartially, they will confess that all
throughout the whole community are included in one and the same
guilt. Let us hence learn, whenever the lord may chastise us, to
come home to ourselves, and to confess that he is justly severe
towards us; yea, were we apparently cast away, we ought yet to
confess, that it is through our own fault, and not through God's
immoderate severity. We also learn how frivolous is their pretext,
who set up against God the authority of their fathers, as the
Papists do: for they would, if they could, call or compel God to an
account, because he forsakes them, and owns them not now as his
Church. "What! has not God bound his faith to us? Is not the Church
his spouse? Can he be unfaithful?" So say the Papists: but at the
same time they consider not, that their mother has become utterly
filthy through her many abominations; they consider not, that she
has been repudiated, because the Lord could no longer bear her great
wickedness. Let us then know, that it is in vain to bring against
God the examples of men; for what is here said by the Prophet will
ever stand true, that God has not given a bill of divorce to his
Church; that is, that he has not of his own accord divorced her, as
peevish and cruel husbands are wont to do, but that he has been
constrained to do so, because he could no longer connive at so many
abominations. It now follows -

Hosea 2:3
Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born,
and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay
her with thirst.
    
    Though the Prophet in this verse severely threatens the
Israelites, yet it appears from a full view of the whole passage,
that he mitigates the sentence we have explained: for by declaring
what sort of vengeance was suspended over them, except they timely
repented, he shows that there was some hope of pardon remaining,
which, as we shall see, he expresses afterwards more clearly.
    He now begins by saying, "Lest I strip her naked, and set her
as on the day of her nativity". This alone would have been dreadful;
but we shall see in the passage, that God so denounces punishment,
that he cuts not off altogether the hope of mercy: and at the same
time he reminds them that the divorce, for which they were disposed
to contend with God, was such, that God yet shows indulgence to the
repudiated wife. For when a husband dismisses an adulteress, he
strips her entirely, and rightly so: but God shows here, that though
the Israelites had become wanton, and were like a shameless woman,
he had yet so divorced them hitherto, that he had left them their
dowry, their ornaments and marriage gifts. We then see that God had
not used, as he might have done, his right; and hence he says, "Lest
I strip her naked"; which means this, "I seem to you too rigid,
because 1 have declared, that I am no longer a husband to your
mother: and yet see how kindly I have spared her; for she remains as
yet almost untouched: though she has lost the name of wife, I have
not yet stripped her; she as yet lives in sufficient plenty. Whence
is this but from my indulgence? for I did not wish to follow up my
right, as husbands do. But except she learns to humble herself, I
now gird up myself for the purpose of executing heavier
punishments." We now comprehend the whole import of the passage.
    What the Prophet means by the day of nativity, we may readily
learn from Ezek. 16; for Ezekiel there treats the same subject with
our Prophet, but much more at large. He says that the Israelites
were then born, when God delivered them from the tyranny of Egypt.
This then was the nativity of the people. And yet it was a miserable
sight, when they fled away with fear and trembling, when they were
exposed to their enemies: and after they entered the wilderness,
being without bread and water, their condition was very wretched.
The Prophet says now, "Lest I set her as on the day of her
nativity", and "set her as the desert". Some regard the letter caph
to be understood, as if it were written, "kavemidbar", as in the
desert; that is, I will set her as she was formerly in the desert;
and this exposition is not unsuitable; for the day of nativity, the
Prophet doubtless calls that time, when the people were brought out
of Egypt: they immediately entered the desert, where there with the
want of every thing. They might then have soon perished there, being
consumed by famine and thirst, had not the Lord miraculously
supported them. The sense then seems consistent by this rendering,
"Lest I set her as in the deserts and as in a dry land". But another
exposition is more approved, "Lest I set her like the desert and dry
land".
    With regard to what the Prophet had in view, it was necessary
to remind the Israelites here of what they were at their beginning.
For whence was their contempt of God, whence was their obstinate
pride, but that they were inebriated with their pleasures? For when
there flowed an abundance of all good things, they thought of
themselves, that they had come as it were from the clouds; for men
commonly forget what they formerly were, when the Lord has made them
rich. As then the benefits of God for the most part blind us, and
make us to think ourselves to be as it were half-gods, the Prophet
here sets before the children of Abraham what their condition was
when the Lord redeemed them. "I have redeemed you," he says, "from
the greatest miseries and extreme degradation." Sons of kings are
born kings, and are brought up in the midst of pomps and pleasures;
nay, before they are born, great pomps, we know, are prepared for
them, which they enjoy from their mother's womb. But when one is
born of an ignoble and obscure mother, and begotten by a mean and
poor father, and afterwards arises to a different condition, if he
is proud of his splendour, and remembers not that he was once a
plebeian and of no repute, this may be justly thrown in his face,
"Who were you formerly? Why! do you not know that you were a
cow-herd, or a mechanic, or one covered with filth? Fortune has
smiled on you, or God has raised you to riches and honours; but you
are so self-complacent as though your condition had ever been the
same."
    This is the drift of what the Prophet says: "I will set thy
mother", he says, "as she was at her first nativity. For who are
you? A holy race, a chosen nation, a people sacred to me? Be it so:
but free adoption has brought all this to you. Ye were exiles in
Egypt, strangers in the land of Canaan, and were nothing better than
other people. Besides, Pharaoh reduced you to a base servitude, ye
were then the most abject of slaves. How magnificent, with regard to
you, was your going forth! Did you not flee away tremblingly and in
the night? And did you not afterwards live in a miraculous way for
forty years in the desert, when I rained manna on you from the
clouds? Since then your poverty and want has been so great, since
there is nothing to make you to raise your crests, how is it that
you show no more modesty? But if your present condition creates in
you forgetfulness, I will set you as on the day of your nativity."
It now follows -

Hosea 2:4,5
And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they [be] the
children of whoredoms.
For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them
hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that
give [me] my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and
my drink.
    
    The Lord now comes close to each individual, after having
spoken in general of the whole people: and thus we see that to be
true which I have said, that it was far from the mind of the Prophet
to suppose, that God here teaches the faithful who had already
repented, that they ought to condemn their own mother. The Prophet
meant nothing of the kind; but, on the contrary, he wished to check
the waywardness of the people, who ceased not to contend with God,
as though he had been more severe than just towards their race. Now
then he reproves each of them; "your children", he says, "I will not
pity; for they are spurious children". He had indeed said before
that they had been born by adultery; but he afterwards received them
into favour. This is true; but what I have said must be remembered
that the Prophet as yet continues in his reproofs; for though he has
mingled some consolation, he yet saw that their hearts were not as
yet contrite and sufficiently humbled. We must bear in mind the
difference between their present state and their future favour. God
before promised that he would be propitious to apostates who had
departed from him: but now he shows that it was not yet the ripe
time, for they had not ceased to sin. Hence he says, "I will not
pity your children".
    Having spoken of the mother's divorce, he now says that the
children, born of adultery, were not his: and certainly what the
Prophet promised before was not immediately fulfilled; for the
people, we know, had been disowned, and when deprived of the land of
Canaan, were rejected, as it were, by the Lord. The Babylonian exile
was a kind of death: and then when they returned from exile, a small
portion only returned, not the whole people; and they were tossed,
we know, by many calamities until Christ our Redeemer appeared.
Since then the Prophet included the whole of this time, it is no
wonder that he says that the children were to be repudiated by the
Lord, because they were born of adultery: for until they returned
from captivity, and Christ was at length revealed, this repudiation,
of which the Prophet speaks, ever continued. "Thy children", he
says, "I will not pity". At first sight it seems very dreadful, that
God takes away the hope of mercy; but we ought to confine this
sentence to that time during which it pleased God to cast away his
people. As long, then, as that temporary casting away lasted, God's
favour was hid; and to this the Prophet now refers, "I will not"
then pity her children, "for they are born by adultery". At the same
time, we must remember that this sentence specifically belonged to
the reprobate, who boasted of being the children of Abraham, while
they were profane and unholy, while they impiously perverted the
whole worship of God, while they were wholly ungovernable. Then the
Prophet justly pronounces such a severe judgement on obstinate men,
who could be reformed by no admonitions.
    He afterwards declares how the children became spurious; "their
mother, who conceived" or bare "them, has been wanton; with shameful
acts has she defiled herself". "Bosh" means, to be ashamed; but here
the Prophet means not that the Israelites were touched with shame,
for such a meaning would be inconsistent with the former sentence;
but that they were like a shameless and infamous woman, touched with
no shame for her baseness. "Their mother", then, "had been wanton,
and she who bare them had become scandalous". Here the Prophet
strips the Israelites of their foolish confidence, who were wont to
profess the name of God, while they were entirely alienated from
him: for they had fallen away by their impiety from pure worship,
they had rejected the law, yea, and every yoke. Since then they were
wild beasts, it was extreme stupidity ever to set up for their
shield the name of God, and ever to boast of the adoption of their
father Abraham. But as the Jews were so perversely proud, the
Prophet here answers them, "Your mother has been wanton, and with
shameful acts has she defiled herself; I will not therefore count
nor own you as my children, for ye were born by adultery."
    This passage confirms what I have shortly before explained, -
that it is not enough that God should choose any people for himself,
except the people themselves persevere in the obedience of faith;
for this is the spiritual chastity which the Lord requires from all
his people. But when is a wife, whom God has bound to himself by a
sacred marriage, said to become wanton? When she falls away, as we
shall more clearly see hereafter, from pure and sound faith. Then it
follows that the marriage between God and men so long endures at
they who have been adopted continue in pure faith, and apostasy in a
manner frees God from us, so that he may justly repudiate us. Since
such apostasy prevails under the Papacy, and has for many ages
prevailed, how senseless they are in their boasting, while they
would be thought to be the holy Catholic Church, and the elect
people of God? For they are all born by wantonness, they are all
spurious children. The incorruptible seed is the word of God; but
what sort of doctrine have they? It is a spurious seed. Then as to
God all the Papists are bastards. In vain then they boast themselves
to be the children of God, and that they have the holy Mother
Church, for they are born by filthy wantonness.
    The Prophet pursues still the same subject: "She said, I will
go after my lovers, the givers of my bread, of my waters, of my
wool, and of my flax, and of my oil, and of my drink." The Prophet
here defines the whoredom of which he had spoken: this part is
explanatory; the Prophet unfolds in several words what he had
briefly touched when he said, "your mother has been wanton". Now, if
the Jews object and say, How has she become wanton? Because, "she
said, I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my waters,
&c." The Prophet here compares false gods to lovers, who seduce
women from their conjugal fidelity; for he pursues the similitude
which he had introduced. The Church, to whom God has pledged his
faith, is represented as a wife; and as a woman does, when enticed
by gifts, and as many women follow covetousness and become
lascivious, that they may dress sumptuously, and live luxuriously,
so the Prophet now points out this vice in the Israelitic Church,
"She said, I will go after my lovers". Some understand by lovers
either the Assyrians or the Egyptians; for when the Israelites
formed connections with these heathen nations, they were drawn away,
we know, from their God. But the Prophet inveighs especially against
false and corrupt modes of worship, and all kinds of superstitions;
for the pure worship of God, we know, is ever to have the first
place, and that justly; for on this depend all the duties of life. I
therefore doubt not, but that he includes all false gods, when he
says, "I will go after my lovers".
    But by introducing the word, "said", he amplifies the
shamelessness of the people, who deliberately forsook their God, who
was to them as a legitimate husband. It indeed happens sometimes
that a man is thoughtlessly drawn aside by a mistake or folly, but
he soon repents; for we see many of the unexperienced deceived for a
short time: but the Prophet here shows that the Israelites
premeditated their unfaithfulness, so that they wilfully departed
from God. Hence "she said"; and we know that this "said" means so
much; and it is to be referred, not to the outward word as
pronounced, but to the inward purpose. "She" therefore "said", that
is, she made this resolution; as though he said, "Let no one make
this frivolous excuse, that they were deceived, that they did it in
their simplicity: ye are, he says, avowedly perfidious, ye have with
a premeditated purpose sought this divorce." He, however, ascribes
this to their mother: for defection began at the root, when they
were drawn away by Jeroboam into corrupt superstitions; and the
promotion of this evil became as it were hereditary. He therefore
intended to condemn here the whole community. Hence, "she said, I
will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my waters". But I
cannot finish today; I must therefore break off the sentence.
    
Prayer.
    
    Grant, Almighty God, that as thou hast not only of late adopted
us as thy children, but before we were born, and as thou hast been
pleased to sign us, as soon as we came forth from our mother's womb,
with the symbol of that holy redemption, which has been obtained for
us by the blood of thy only begotten Son, though we have by our
ingratitude renounced so great a benefit, - O grant, that being
mindful of our defection and unfaithfulness, of which eve are all
guilty, and for which thou hast justly rejected us, we may now with
true humility and obedience of faith embrace the grace of thy gospel
now again offered to us, by which thou reconciles thyself to us; and
grant that we may steadfastly persevere in pure faith, so as never
to turn aside from the true obedience of faith, but to advance more
and more in the knowledge of thy mercy, that having strong and deep
roots, and being firmly grounded in the confidence of sure faith, we
may never fall away from the true worship of thee, until thou at
length receives us in to that eternal kingdom, which has been
procured for us by the blood of thy only Son. Amen.

Lecture Fifth.
    
    It remains for us to explain what the Prophet declares
concerning the Israelites, that they boasted of their abundance of
wine and oil, and all good things as having come to them through
their superstitions. What, then, they ought to have ascribed to God
alone, they absurdly transferred to their idols. Of this ingratitude
the Prophet here accuses them in the person of God himself, and at
the same time shows that the ungodly are so deluded by prosperity,
that they harden themselves more and more in their superstitions;
and this is not the case only at one time, but almost universally in
the world. We see how full of pride the Papists are at this day,
because they bear rule in the world, and possess riches and honours.
They think their services acceptable to God, because he shows not
himself openly opposed to and angry with them; and so it has been
from the beginning.
    But the Prophet here condemns this foolish presumption, that we
may learn not to judge at all times of God's love by the prosperous
issue of events. There are then two things to be observed here, -
that the superstitious falsely ascribe to their idols what comes
from God alone; - and further, that they conclude that they are
loved by God, whenever he does not immediately take vengeance on
them. The Sodomites, we find, became obstinate in their sins for the
same reason; when all kinds of pleasures abounded, they thought
themselves to be approved of God. Let us now proceed to what
follows.

Hosea 2:6
Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a
wall, that she shall not find her paths.

    The Prophet here pursues the subject we touched upon yesterday;
for he shows how necessary chastisement is, when people felicitate
themselves in their vices. And God, when he sees that men confess
not immediately their sins, defends as it were his own cause, as one
pleading before a judge. In a word, God here shows that he could not
do otherwise than punish so great an obstinacy in the people, as
there appeared no other remedy.
    "Therefore", he says, "behold I"--. There is a special meaning
in these words; for God testifies that he becomes the avenger of
impieties, when people are brought into straits; as though he said,
"Though the Israelites are not ready to confess that they suffer
justly, yet I now declare that to punish them will be my work, when
they shall be deprived of their pleasures, and when the occasion of
their pride shall be removed from them." And he intimates by the
metaphorical words he uses, that he would so deal with them, as to
keep the people from wandering, as they had done hitherto, after
their idols; but he retains the similitude of a harlot. Now when an
unchaste wife goes after her paramours, the husband must either
connive at her, or be not aware of her base conduct. However this
may be, wives cannot thus violate the marriage-vow, except they are
set at liberty by their husbands. But when a husband understands
that his wife plays the wanton, he watches her more closely, notices
all her ways day and night. God now takes up this comparison, "I
will close up", he says, "her way with thorns, and surround her with
a mound", that there may be no way of access open to adulterers.
    But by this simile the Prophet means that the people would be
reduced to such straits, that they might not lasciviate, as they had
done, in their superstitions; for while the Israelites enjoyed
prosperity, they thought everything lawful for them; hence their
security, and hence their contempt of the word of the Lord. By
hedge, then, and by thorns, God means those adversities by which he
restrains the ungodly, so that they may cease to flatter themselves,
and may not thoughtlessly follow, as they were before wont to do,
their own superstitions. "She shall not" then "find her ways"; that
is, "I will constrain them so to groan under the burden of evils,
that they shall no longer, as they have hitherto done, allow loose
reins to themselves." It afterwards follows -

Hosea 2:7
And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake
them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find [them]: then shall
she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then [was it]
better with me than now.

    God now shows what takes place when he chastises hardened and
rebellious people with heavy punishment. In the first clause he
shows that perverseness will cleave so completely to their hearts,
that they will not immediately return to a sound mind. "She will
follow her lovers", he says, "and seek them". Here the Prophet tells
us, that though the Israelites should be chastised by frequent
punishments, they would yet continue in their obstinacy. It hence
appears how hard a neck they had, and how uncircumcised in heart
they were; and such did the Prophets, as well as Moses, represent
them to be. And we hence learn, that had they been only moderately
corrected, it would not have been sufficient for their amendment.
Amazing, indeed, was their obstinacy; for God had divorced them, and
then led them into great straits; and yet they went on in their
course, as though they were utterly stupid and destitute of every
feeling. Is it not a prodigious madness, when men run on so
obstinately, even when God sets his hand so strongly against them?
Such, however, is represented to have been the obstinacy of the
Israelites.
    The meaning then is, that when they were subdued, God would not
immediately soften their hearts. Then God, though he bruised, did
not yet reform them; for their hardness was so great, that they
could not be turned immediately to a docile state of mind; but, on
the contrary, they followed their lovers. By the word, follow, is
expressed that mad zeal which possesses idolaters; for as we see,
they are like men who are frantic. As then the superstitious know no
bounds, nor any moderation, but a mad zeal at times lays hold on
them, the Prophet says "She will follow her lovers and shall not
overtake them". What does the latter clause mean? That God will
frustrate the hope of the ungodly, that they may know that they in
vain worship false gods and follow with avidity absurd
superstitions. "They will seek them", he says, "and shall not find
them". He ever speaks of the people under the character of a
shameless and unfaithful wife.
    We then see what the Prophet intended to do, - to vindicate God
from every blame, that men might not raise a glamour, as though he
dealt unkindly with them. He shows that God, even when so rigid,
produces hardly any effect; for the ungodly in their perverseness
struggle against his scourges, and suffer not themselves to be
brought immediately into due order.
    But in the second clause the Prophet adds, that some benefit
would at length arise, that though idolaters abused God's goodness,
and even hardened themselves against his rods, yet this would not be
perpetually the case; for the Lord would grant better success. Hence
it follows, "She will then say, I will go and return to my former
husband". Here the Prophet shows more clearly a hope of pardon,
inasmuch as he speaks of the people's repentance; for men, we know,
repent not without benefit, as God is ever ready to receive them
when they return to him in genuine sorrow. Then the Prophet here
avowedly speaks of the repentance of the people, that the Israelites
might hence know, that corrections, which men naturally ever
dislike, would be profitable to them. It is our wish that God should
always favour us, and that we should be nourished kindly and
tenderly in his bosom; but in the meantime, he cannot allure us to
himself, by whatever means he may try to do so: and hence it is,
that chastisements are bitter to us, and our flesh immediately
murmurs. When the Lord raises his finger, before he strikes us, we
instantly groan and become angry, and even roar against him: in
short, men can never be brought willingly to offer themselves to be
chastised by God. Hence the Prophet now shows, that the severity of
God is profitable to us; for it drives us at length to repentance:
in a word, he commends the favour of God in his very severity, that
we may know that he furthers our salvation, even when he seems to
treat us most unkindly. "She will then say, I will go and return to
my former husband".
    But we must observe, that when men really repent, they do so
through the special influence of the Spirit; for they would
otherwise perpetually remain in that perverseness of which we have
spoken. Were God for a hundred years continually to chastise
perverse men, they would not yet change their disposition; and true
is that common saying, "The wicked are sooner broken than reformed."
But when men, after many admonitions, begin to be wise, this change
comes through the Spirit of God. We may also learn from this passage
what true repentance is; that is, when he who has sinned not only
confesses himself to be guilty, and owns himself worthy of
punishment, but is also displeased with himself, and then with
sincere desire turns to God. Many, we see, are ready enough, and
disposed, to confess their sins, and yet go on in the same course.
But the Prophet shows here that true repentance is something very
different, "I will go and return", he says. Repentance then consists
(as they say) in the act itself; that is, repentance produces a
reforming change in man, so that he reconciles himself to God, whom
he had forsaken.
    "I will then go and return to my former husband". Why? "Because
better was it with me then than now". The Prophet again confirms
what I lately said, - that the faithful are not made wise, except
they are well chastised; for the Prophet speaks not here of the
reprobate, but of the remnant seed. The people of Israel were to be
exterminated; but the Prophet now declares that there would be some
remaining who would at last receive benefit from God's
chastisements. Since then we must understand the Prophet as speaking
of the elect, we may hence readily conclude, that chastisements are
necessary for us; for we grow torpid in our vices, as long as God
spares us. Unless, then it appears that God is really displeased
with us, it will never come to our minds, that we ought to repent.
Let us now proceed -

Hosea 2:8
For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and
multiplied her silver and gold, [which] they prepared for Baal.
Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof,
and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my
flax [given] to cover her nakedness.
    
    God here amplifies the ingratitude of the people, that they
understood not whence came such abundance of good things. "She
understood not", he says, "that I gave to her corn and wine". The
superstitious sin twice, or in two ways; - first, they ascribe to
their idols what rightly belongs to God alone; and then they deprive
God himself of his own honour, for they understand not that he is
the only giver of all things, but think their labour lost were they
to worship the true God. Hence the Prophet now complains of this
ingratitude, "She understood not that I gave to her corn and wine
and oil". And this was an inexcusable stupidity in the Israelites,
since they had been abundantly instructed, that the abundance of all
good things, and every thing that supports man, flow from God's
bounty. Of this they had the clear testimony of Moses; and then the
land of Canaan itself was a living representation of the Divine
favour. It was then a prodigious madness in the people, that they
who had been taught by word and by fact, that God alone is the Giver
of all things, should yet not consider this truth. The Prophet,
therefore, condemns this outrageous folly of the people, that
neither experience nor the teaching of the law availed anything,
"She knew not", he says. There is stress to be laid on the pronoun,
she; for the people ought to have been familiarly acquainted with
God, inasmuch as they had been brought up in his household, as a
wife, who is her husband's companion. It was then incapable of any
excuse, that the people should thus turn their minds and all their
thoughts away from God.
    "She knew not" then "that I had given to her corn and wine and
oil, that I had multiplied to her the silver, and also the gold she
has prepared for Baal". The verb "'asah" means specifically, to
make: but here to appropriate to a certain purpose. They have,
therefore, prepared gold for Baal; when they ought to have dedicated
to me the first-fruits of all good things, in obedience to me and to
the honour of my name, they have appropriated to Baal whatever
blessings I have bestowed on them. We then see that in this verse
two evils are condemned, - that the people deprived God of his just
honour, -  and that they transferred to their own idols what they
ought to have given to God only. But he touched upon the last
wickedness in the fifth verse, where he said in the person of the
people, "I will go after my lovers, who give my bread and my waters,
my wool and my wine, &c." Here again he repeats, that they had
prepared gold for Baal.
    As to the word Baal, no doubt the superstitious included under
this name all those whom they called inferior gods. No such madness
had indeed possessed the Israelites, that they had forgotten that
there is but one Maker of heaven and earth. They therefore
maintained the truth, that there is some supreme God; but they added
their patrons; and this, by common consent, was the practice of all
nations. They did not then think that God was altogether robbed of
his own glory, when they joined with him patrons or inferior gods.
And they called them by a common name, Baalim, or, as it were,
patrons. Baal of every kind was a patron. Some render it, husband.
But foolish men, I doubt not, have ever had this superstitious
notion, that inferior gods come nearer to men, and are, as it were,
mediators between this world and the supreme God. It is the same
with the Papists of the present day; they have their Baalim; not
that they regard their patrons in the place of God: but as they
dread every access to God, and understand not that Christ is a
mediator, they retake themselves here and there to various Baalim,
that they may procure favour to themselves; and at the same time,
whatever honour they show to stones, or wood, or bones of dead men,
or to any of their own inventions, they call it the worship of God.
Whatever then, is worshipped by the Papists is Baal: but they have,
at the same time, their patrons for their Baalim. We now then
perceive the meaning of the Prophet in this verse.
    It now follows "Therefore will I return, and take away my corn
in its time, and my new wine in its stated time". Here, again, the
Prophet shows that God was, by extreme necessity, constrained to
take vengeance on an ungodly and irreclaimable people. He makes
known how great was the hardness of the people, and then adds, "What
now remains, but to deprive those who have been so ungrateful to me
of all their blessings?" It is, indeed, more than base for men to
enjoy the gifts of God and to despise the giver; yea, to exalt his
creatures to his place, and to reduce, as it were, all his authority
to nothing. This the superstitious indeed do, for they thrust God
from his pre-eminence, and insult his glory. Will God, in the
meantime, so throw away his blessings as to suffer them to be
profaned by the ungodly, and himself to be thus mocked with
impunity? We now then see the object of the Prophet; for God here
shows that there was no other remedy, but to deprive the Israelites
of all their gifts: he had indeed enriched them, but they had abused
all their abundance. It was therefore necessary to reduce them to
extreme want, that they might no longer pollute God's gifts which
ought to be held sacred by us.
    And he uses a very suitable word; for "natsal" means properly,
to pluck away to set free. "I will by force take away", he says, "my
wool and my flax". It seems, indeed, to denote an unjust possession,
as when one takes away by force from the hand of a robber what he
unjustly possesses, or as when any one rescues wretched men from the
power of a tyrant. So God now speaks, 'I will pluck away my gifts
from these men who basely and unjustly pollute them.'
    And he adds, "to cover her nakedness". "'Erwah", properly,
though not simply, means nakedness: it is the nakedness of the
uncomely parts. Moses calls any indecorous part of the body
"'erwah"; and so it means what is uncomely. This word we ought
carefully to notice; for God here shows, that except he denudes
idolaters, they will ever continue obstinate. How so? Because they
use coverings for their baseness. While the ungodly enjoy their
triumphs in the world, they regard them as veils drawn over them, so
that nothing base or disgraceful can be seen in them. The same is
the case with great kings and monarchs; they think that the eyes of
all are dazzled by their splendour; and hence it is, that they are
so audaciously dissolute. They think their own filth to be fine
odour: such is the arrogance of the world. It is even so with the
superstitious; when God is indulgent to them, they think that they
have coverings. When, therefore, they abandon themselves to any kind
of wickedness, they regard it as if it were a holy thing. How so?
Because, whatever obscene thing is in them, it is covered by
prosperity. When God observes such madness as this in men, can he do
otherwise than pluck away his blessings, that such a pollution may
not continually prevail? For it is an abuse extremely gross, that
when God's blessings are so many images of his glory, and when his
paternal goodness shines forth even towards the ungodly, the world
should convert them to a purpose wholly contrary, and make them as
coverings for themselves, that they may conceal their own baseness,
and more freely sin and carry on war against God himself. Hence he
says, "That they may no longer cover their baseness, I will pluck
away whatever I have bestowed on them."
    When he says, "I will take away the corn and wine in its time,
and in its stated time", he alludes, I have no doubt, to the time of
harvest and vintage; as though he said, "The harvest will come, the
vintage will come: there has been hitherto great fruitfulness; but I
will show that the earth and all its fruits are subject to my will.
Though, then, the Israelites are now full, and have their
storehouses well furnished, they shall know that I rule over the
harvest and the vintage, when the stated time shall come." Now, the
Spirit of God denounced this punishment early, that the Israelites,
if reclaimable, might return to a right course. But as their
blindness was so great that they despised all that had been said to
them, no excuse remained for them. It now follows -

Hosea 2:10-12
And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and
none shall deliver her out of mine hand.
I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new
moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.
And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath
said, These [are] my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I
will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them.
    
    He pursues the same subject; and the Prophet explains at large,
and even divides what he had briefly said before, into many clauses
or particulars. He says firsts "I will uncover her baseness". How
was this done? By God, when he took away the coverings by which the
Israelites kept themselves hid: for, as we have said hypocrites
felicitate themselves on account of God's gifts, and thus hide
themselves as thieves do in caverns; and they think that they can
mock God with impunity; for, through the fatness of their eyes, as
it is said in Psal. 73: 7, they have but a very dim sight. Now then
God declares, that the filthiness of the people would be made to
appear, when he deprived them of those gifts with which he had for a
time enriched them.
    "Now", he says, "will I uncover her baseness before the eyes of
her lovers". By this sentence he intimates a change, of which the
people were not apprehensive; for, as long as the wicked feel not
the strokes, they laugh at all threatening. Hence God, that he might
rouse them from such an indifference, says, "Now will I uncover her
before the eyes of her lovers". The Prophet, no doubt, speaks of
false gods, and of all those devices by which the Israelites
corrupted the pure worship of God: for I cannot be persuaded to
explain this either of the Assyrians or of the Egyptians. I indeed
know, as I mentioned briefly yesterday, that the treaties into which
the Jews, as well as the Israelites, entered with idolaters, were
the tenter-hooks of Satan: this I allow; but at the same time, I
look on what the Prophet especially treats of; for he directly
inveighs here against absurd and vicious modes of worship. What then
does he mean by saying, that God will uncover the baseness of the
people before their lovers? He alludes to shameless women, who dare,
by terror, to check their husbands, that they may not exercise their
own right. "What! do you treat me ill? there is one who will resent
this conduct." Even when husbands indignantly bear their own
reproach, they often attempt not to assert their own right, because
they see that fear is in the way. But God says, "Nothing will hinder
me from chastising thee as thou deserves (for he addresses the
people under the character of a wife;) before thy lovers then will I
uncover thy baseness."
    "And no man shall rescue thee from my hand". The word man is
put here for idols; for it is a word of general import among the
Hebrews. Sometimes when brute animals are spoken of, this word, man,
is used; and it is also applied to the fragments of a carcass. For
when Moses describes the sacrifice made by Abraham, 'Man,' he says,
'was laid to his fellow;' that is, Abraham joined together the
different parts of the sacrifice, as we say in French, Il n'y a
piece. God then speaks here of idols: "No one", he says, "shall
rescue them from my hand". We now comprehend the meaning of the
Prophet.
    We must, at the same time, see what he had in view. The
Israelites indeed thought, that as long as their corrupt modes of
worship prevailed, they were safe and secure: it seemed impossible
to them that any adversity should happen to them while idolatry
continued. As, then, they imagined their false gods to be to them
like an invincible rampart, "Thy idols," he says, "shall remain, and
yet thou shalt fall: for I will before thy lovers uncover thy
baseness, and not one of them shall deliver thee from my hand."
    The Prophet now descends to particulars; and, in the first
place, he says, that the people would be deprived of their
sacrifices and feast-days, and of that whole external pomp, which
was with them the guise of religion. He then adds, that they would
be spoiled of their food, and all their abundance. He has hitherto
been speaking of their nakedness; but he now describes what this
nakedness would be: and he specially mentions, that sacrifices would
cease, that feast days, new-moons, and whatever belonged to external
worship, would cease. "I will make to cease", he says, "all her
joy". He speaks doubtless, of sacred joys; and this may be easily
collected from the context. He adds, "her every festal-day". As they
were wont to dance on their festal-days, this word may be referred
to that practice. He afterwards adds, "her sabbath", and all
feast-days. Then the first kind of nakedness was, that God would
take away from the Israelites that fallacious and empty form of
religion in which they foolishly delighted. The second kind of
nakedness was, that they were to be stripped of all earthly riches,
and be reduced to misery and extreme want. But I cannot finish
to-day.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that inasmuch as we are so dull and slothful,
that though often admonished, we yet consider not our sins, yea,
though chastised by thy hand, we yet return not immediately to a
right mind, - O grant, that we may hereafter profit more under thy
rod, and not he refractory and untractable; but as soon as thou
raises thy hand, may each of us mourn, know our own evils, and then,
with one consent, surrender ourselves to be ruled by thee; and may
we, in the meantime, patiently and calmly endure thy chastisements,
and never murmur against thee, but ever aspire to the attainment of
true repentance, until, having at length put off all the vices and
corruptions of our flesh, we attain to the fulness of righteousness,
and to that true and blessed glory which has been prepared for us in
heaven by Jesus Christ. Amen.

Lecture Sixth.

    We began yesterday to explain the verse in which the Lord
speaks of the intermission of the Sabbath, and of the new-moon, and
of external worship. The people of Israel, as we have stated, were
to be deprived of these excellent gifts with which they had been
favoured. And God, we know, is in two respects bountiful to men.
There is his common bounty as to foods and other earthly benefits:
but he is especially bountiful to his people in those gifts which
are called supernatural. Hence the Prophet says in the first place,
"I will make to cease the sabbath, and the new-moon, and the
festal-days". They indeed thought themselves, blessed when they
celebrated the festal-days, when they offered sacrifices, and in a
word, when the external pomp of God's worship shone forth among
them: yet we know that they worshipped God neither in a lawful place
nor in a right manner, as he had commanded in the law; for they
mingled many superstitions; nay, the whole of religion among them
was polluted; and yet they thought that their worship pleased God.
We now see that the object of their punishment was this, - that the
people of Israel might now cease to felicitate themselves on account
of their external form of religion, when deprived of their temple,
and sacrifices, and all outward worship: and all this happened when
the Israelites were driven away into exile. We indeed know that they
did not leave off their superstitions until they were deprived of
their country and driven into banishment.
    I now come to the second kind of nakedness: the Prophet says,
"I will waste" or "destroy her vine and her fig-tree, of which she
has said, Reward are these to me; that is", These things are wages
to me, "which my lovers have given to me: and I will make them a
forest, and feed on them shall the beast of the field". The second
part of the spoiling, as we have said, is, that the Israelites would
be reduced to miserable want, who, before, had not only great
abundance of good things, but also luxury, as we shall hereafter see
more fully in other passages. As then they were swollen with pride
on account of their prosperity, the Prophet now announces their
future nakedness, "I will take away", he says, "the vine and the
fig-tree". It is a mode of speaking by which a part is to be taken
for the whole; for under the vine and the fig-tree the Prophet
intended to comprehend every variety of temporal blessings. Whatever
then belongs to man's support, the Prophet here includes in these
two words: and he repeats what he had said before, that the
Israelites falsely thought, that it was a reward paid them for their
superstitions, while they worshipped false gods.
    "She said, These are my reward". The word is derived from the
verb "tanah": some have rendered it gift, but not rightly. I indeed
allow that "natnu", which means to give, follows shortly after; from
which some derive this word. But we know that in many parts of
Scripture "'etnah" is strictly taken for reward; and is sometimes
applied to hired soldiers: but the Prophets often use this word when
they speak of harlots. Hence the Prophet here introduces the people
of Israel under the character of a harlot; "These are my reward",
or, "These things are my reward, which to me have my lovers given".
    Since then the Israelites had so hardened themselves in their
superstitions, that this false persuasion could not be driven out of
them, until they were deprived of all their blessings, he announces
to them this punishment, - that God would take away whatever they
thought had come to them from their idols or false gods: "I will
turn", he says, "all these into a forest", that is, "I will reduce
to a waste, both the vineyards and all the well cultivated parts; so
that they will produce nothing, as is usually the case with desert
places." We now understand the whole meaning of the Prophet. Let us
proceed -

Hosea 2:13
And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned
incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her
jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the
LORD.
    
    He confirms what he taught last. We have said before, that this
admonition is very necessary, that whenever God deals severely with
men, he thus visits their sins, and inflicts a just punishment. For
though men may consider themselves to be chastised by the Lord, they
yet do not thoroughly search and examine themselves as they ought.
Hence the Prophet repeats what we have before met with, and that is,
that this chastisement would be just; and at the same time, he shows
us as by the finger what chiefly displeased God in the Israelites,
which was, that religion was corrupted by them: for there is nothing
more necessary to be known than that in order that men may ever
habituate themselves to worship God in a pure manner, this should be
testified to them, that all superstitions are such an abomination to
God that he cannot bear them.
    He therefore says, "I will visit upon her the days of Baalim";
that is, when the Israelites shall find themselves to be without a
temple, deprived of sacrifices and new-moons, and having no more any
external form of worship, let them know that they are thus punished,
because they worshipped Baalim instead of the only true God. The
Prophet, at the same time, alludes again to harlots, who more finely
adorn themselves and with greater care, when they look for their
lovers, that they may captivate them with their charms. "She decked
herself", he says, "with her ear-ring and her jewel". This the
superstitious usually do, when they celebrate their fast-days; for
they think that a great part of holiness consists in the splendour
of vestments; and we see that this stupidity prevails at this day
among those under the Papacy: for they would think themselves to be
doing great dishonour to God, or rather to their idols, were they
not to adorn themselves when going to perform sacred duties. This,
no doubt, was then a common error and custom. But in order to show
more clearly that God abominated each gross superstitions, the
Prophet says that they were like harlots. For as a strumpet, in
order to allure men, paints herself, and also dresses splendidly,
puts on her ornaments, and decks herself with jewels and gold; even
so, he says, the Israelites did; they played the wanton, and bore
the tokens of their lewdness. This then is the allusion, when the
Prophet says, that "she decked herself with jewels and an ear-ring,
and went after her lovers".
    But most grievous is what he adds at the end of the verse,
"Me", he says, "has she forgotten". God here complains that the
fellowship of marriage availed nothing: though he had lived with the
people a long time, and treated them bountifully and kindly, yet the
memory of this was buried, "Me", he says, "has she forgotten". There
is then here an implied comparison between the Israelites whom God
had joined to himself, and other nations who had known nothing of
true religion, nor understood who the true God was. It was indeed no
wonder for the Gentiles to be deceived by the impostures of Satan:
but it was a monstrous ingratitude for the Israelites, who had been
rightly taught and long habituated to the pure worship of God, to
cast away the recollection of him. It was like the bestial depravity
of a wife, who, having for a time lived with her husband, and having
been kindly treated by him, afterwards prostitutes herself to
adulterers, and no more cherishes or retains in her heart any love
for her husband. We now see for what end it was added, that the
Israelites had forgotten God. It was indeed a grave and severe
reproof to say, that they, after having long worshipped the true
God, had been led away into such madness as to worship false gods,
the figments of their own brains: for they had before learnt who the
true and the only God was.
    The Prophet, in a word, confirms in this verse (as I have
before reminded you) the truth, that the punishment which God was
about to inflict on this ungodly people would not only be just, but
also necessary; and he proves at the same time, how basely they had
violated their marriage-vow, since the recollection of God did not
prevail among them, after they had become the followers of idols,
and of the figments of their own hearts. Let us now go one -

Hosea 2:14
Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the
wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.

    Here the Lord more clearly expresses, that after having long,
and in various ways, afflicted the people, he would at length be
propitious to them; and not only so, but that he would also make all
their punishments to be conducive to their salvation, and to be
medicines to heal their diseases. But there is an inversion in the
words, "Behold, I will incline her", and "I will make her to go into
the wilderness"; and so they ought to be explained thus, "Behold, I
will incline her, or, persuade her, after I shall have drawn her
into the desert; then, I will speak to her heart." "Patah" is often
taken in a bad sense, to deceive, or, to persuade by falsehoods or,
to use a vulgar word, to wheedle: but it means in this place, to
speak kindly; so that God persuades a rebellious and obstinate
people as to what is right: and then he declares that this would
take place, when he led the people into the wilderness. This is
connected with the former sentence, where it is said, 'I will set
her as on the day of her nativity:' for God alludes to the first
redemption of the people, which was like their birth; for it was the
same as though the people had emerged from their grave; they
obtained a new life when they were freed from the tyranny of Egypt.
God therefore begot them a people for himself.
    But the Prophet adds, After having led her into the wilderness,
"I will incline her"; that is, render her pliable to myself. He
intimates by these words, that there would be no hope of repentance
until the people were led to extreme evils; for had their punishment
been moderate, their perverseness would not have been corrected.
Then God shows in this verse, that there would be no end or
lessening of evils until the people were drawn into the wilderness,
that is, until they were deprived of their country and sacrifices,
and all their wealth; yea, until they were deprived of their
ordinary food, and cast into a wilderness and solitude, where the
want of all things would press upon them, and extreme necessity
would threaten them with death. If then the people had been visited
with light punishment, nothing would have been effected; for their
hardness was greater than could have been softened by slight or
common remedies.
    But this declaration was full of great comfort. The faithful
might have otherwise wholly desponded, when they found themselves
led into exile, and the sight of the land, which was, as it were,
the mirror of the divine adoption, was taken from them, when they
saw themselves scattered into various parts, and that there was now
no community, no seed of Abraham. The Lord, therefore, that despair
might not swallow up the faithful, intended in this way to ease
their sorrow; assuring them, that though they were drawn again into
the wilderness, God, who first redeemed them, was still the same,
and endued with the same strength and power which he put forth in
behalf of their fathers. We now apprehend the design of the Prophet.
Calamity might have shaken their hearts with so much terror, as to
take away every confidence in God's favour, and make them to think
themselves wholly lost: but God sets the desert before them, "What!
have I not once drawn you out of the desert? Has my power diminished
since that tithe? I indeed continue to be the same God as your
fathers found me to be: I will again draw you out of the
wilderness." But at the same time, God reminded them that their
diseases would be unhealable, until they were led into the
wilderness, until they were deprived of their country and all the
tokens of his favour, that they might no more delude themselves with
vain confidence.
    He therefore says, "After I shall draw her into the wilderness,
then I will persuade, or, turn her". I prefer the word, turning or
inclining, though the word, persuading, is by no means unsuitable.
But there seems to be an implied comparison between the present
contumacy of the people, and the obedience they would render to
their God after having been subdued by various afflictions. "The
people," he says, "will be then pliable, when they shall be drawn
into the wilderness."
    "And I will speak then to her heart". What is the import of
this expression we know from Isa. 40. To speak to the heart is to
bring comfort, to soothe grief by a kind word, to offer kindness,
and to hold forth some hope, that he who had previously been worn
out with sorrow may breathe freely, gather courage, and entertain
hope of a better condition. And this kind of speaking ought to be
carefully observed; for God means, that there was now no place for
his promises, because the Israelites were so refractory. Paul did
not say in vain to the Corinthians 'Open ye my mouth, O Corinthians;
for I am not narrow towards you; but ye are narrow in your own
bowels,' (2 Cor. 6: 11,12.) The Corinthians, when alienated from
Paul, had obstructed, as it were, the passage of his doctrine, that
he could not address them in a paternal manner. So also in this
place, the Lord testifies that the floor was closed against his
promises; for if he gave to the Israelites the hope of pardon, it
would have been slighted; if he had invited them kindly to himself,
they would have scornfully refused, yea, spurned the offer with
contempt, so great was their ferocity; if he had wished to be
reconciled to them, they would have despised him, or refused, or
proceeded in abusing his kindness as before. He then shows, that it
was their fault that he could not deal kindly and friendly with
them. Hence, "After I shall draw her into the wilderness, I will
address her heart."
    Let us then know, that whenever we are deprived of the sense of
God's favour, the way has been closed up through our fault; for God
would ever be disposed willingly to show kindness, except our
contumacy and hardness stood in the way. But when he sees us so
subdued as to be pliable and ready to obey, then he is ready in his
turn, to speak to our heart; that is, he is ready to show himself
just as he is, full of grace and kindness.
    We hence see how well the context of the Prophet harmonises.
There are, in short, two parts, - the first is, that God takes not
away wholly the hope of pardon from the Israelites, provided there
were any healable among them, but shows that though the chastisement
would be severe, it would yet be useful, as it would appear from its
fruit; this is one clause; - and the other is, that they might not
be too hasty in inquiring why God would not sooner mitigate his
severity, he answers that the time was not as yet ripe; for they
would not be capable of receiving his kindness, until they were by
degrees subdued and humbled by heavier punishment. Let us now
proceed -

Hosea 2:15
And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of
Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days
of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of
Egypt.
    
    The Prophet now plainly declares, that God's favour would be
evident, not only by words, but also by the effects and by
experience, when the people were bent to obedience. The Prophet said
in the last verse, 'I will speak to her heart;' now he adds, 'I will
bring a sure and clear evidence of my favour, that they may feel
assured that I am reconciled to them.' He therefore says that he
would give them vines. He said before, 'I will destroy her vines and
fig-trees;' but now he mentions only vineyards: but as we have said,
the Prophet, under one kind, comprehends all other things; and he
has chosen vines, because in vines the bounty of God especially
appears. For bread is necessary to support life, wine abounds, and
to it is ascribed the property of exhilarating the heart, Psal. 104:
'Bread strengthens,' or, 'supports man's heart; wine gladdens man's
heart.' As then vines are usually planted not only for necessary
purposes, but also for a more bountiful supply, the Prophet says,
that the Lord, when reconciled to the people, will give them their
vineyards from that place.
    "And I will give", he says, "the valley of Achor," &c. He
alludes to their situation in the wilderness: as soon as the
Israelites came out of the wilderness, they entered the plain of
Achor, which was fruitful, pleasant, and vine-bearing. Some think
that the Prophet alludes to the punishment inflicted on the people
for the sacrilege of Achan, but in my judgement they are mistaken;
for the Prophet here means nothing else than that there would be a
sudden change in the condition of the people, such as happened when
they came out of the wilderness. For in the wilderness there was not
even a grain of wheat or of barley, nor a bunch of grapes; in short,
there was in the wilderness nothing but penury, accompanied with
thousand deaths; but as soon as the people came out, they descended
into the plain of Achor, which was most pleasant, and very fertile.
The Prophet meant simply this, that when the people repented, there
would be no delay on God's part, but that he would free them from
all evils, and restore a blessed abundance of all things, as was the
case, when the people formerly descended into the plain of Achor. He
therefore brings to the recollection of the Israelites what had
happened to their fathers, "Her vines", then, "will I give her from
that place", that is, "As soon as I shall by word testify my love to
them, they shall effectually know and find that I am really and from
the heart reconciled to them, and shall understand how inclined I am
to show kindness; for I shall not long hold the people in suspense."
    And he adds, "For an opening", or "a door of hope". He
signifies here, that their restoration would be as from death into
life. For though the people daily saw with their eyes that God took
care of their life, for he rained manna from heaven and made water
to flow from a rock; yet there was at the same time before their
eyes the appearance of death. As long, then, as they sojourned in
the wilderness, God did ever set before them the terrors of death:
in short, their dwelling in the wilderness, as we have said, was
their grave. But when the people descended into the plain of Achor,
they then began to draw vital air; and they felt also that they at
length lived, for they had obtained their wishes: they had now
indeed come in sight of the inheritance promised to them. As then
the valley of Achor was the beginning, and as it were the door of
good hope to their fathers, so the Prophet, now alluding to that
redemption, says, that God would immediately deal with so much
kindness with the Israelites as to open for them a door of hope and
salvation, as he had done formerly to their fathers in the valley of
Achor.
    "And she shall sing there". We may easily learn from the
context that those interpreters mistake who refinedly philosophise
about the valley of Achor. It is indeed true that the root of the
word is the verb "'achar", which means, to confound or to destroy,
and that this name was given to the place on account of what had
occurred there: but the Prophet referred to no such thing, as it
appears clearly from the second clause; for he says, "She shall sing
there as in the days of her youth", and as in the day in which she
ascended from the land of Egypt. For then at length the people of
God openly celebrated his praises, when they beheld with their eyes
the promised land, when they saw an end to God's severe vengeance,
which continued for forty years. Hence the people then poured forth
their hearts and employed their tongues in praises to God. The
Prophet, therefore, teaches here, that their restoration would be
such, that the people would really sing praises to God and offer him
no ordinary thanks; not as they are wont to do who are relieved from
a common evil, but as those who have been brought from death into
life. She "shall sing then as in the days of her childhood, as in
that day when she ascended from the land of Egypt".
    Thus we see that a hope of deliverance is here given, that the
faithful might sustain their minds in exile, and cherish the hope of
future favour; that though the face of God would for a time be
turned away from them, they might yet look for a future deliverance,
nor doubt but that God would be propitious to them, after they had
endured just punishment, and had been thus reformed: for as we have
said, a moderate chastisement could not have been sufficient to
subdue their perverseness. It follows -

Hosea 2:16
And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, [that] thou shalt call
me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali.
    
    The Prophet now expands his subject, and shows that when the
people repented, the fruits of repentance would openly appear. One
fruit he records, and that is, that they would then begin to worship
God purely, all superstitions being abolished. "It shall be", he
says, "in that day that thou shalt call me, My husband"; and he
mentions the word, husband, to show to the people, that after having
been corrected, they would be mindful of the covenant which God had
made with them; and in that covenant, as stated before, there was
the condition of a mutual engagement.
    We hence see what the Prophet means: he tells us that the
people would then be no more given to superstitions as before, but
on the contrary would be mindful of God's covenant, and would
continue sincere and true to their conjugal vow. Hence, "thou shalt
call me, My husband"; that is, "Thou shalt know what I am to thee,
that I am joined to thee by a sacred and inviolable marriage." "And
thou shalt not call me, My Baal; that is, "Thou shalt not give me a
false and heathenish name:" for the word, Baal, as I have said
before, was everywhere in every one's mouth. But the next verse must
be added -

Hosea 2:17
For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they
shall no more be remembered by their name.
    
    In this verse the Prophet more clearly unfolds what he said
before, that there would be a new mind in the people, so that they
would worship God purely, though they were before entangled in their
superstitions. The meaning then is, that religion will then return
to its true state, for the names of Baalim shall cease. We have
already stated whence this name had arisen. Not even the heathens
wished to thrust the only true God from his celestial throne, by
forming for themselves many gods: but while they allowed some
Supreme Being, they wished to have patrons, whom they employed in
conciliating his favour and good-will. That this was for the most
part the common doctrine, may be easily learnt from Plato: and the
Jews also, no doubt, thought of becoming wise by following the
common judgement of others; they hence had their Baalim. But though
they called their patrons Baalim, they yet gave this name to God:
"Let us worship Baalim." The Papists do the same; when they enter
their temples, they immediately turn to the image of Mary or of some
saint, and dare not come to God. At the same time they worship God,
that is, pretend to worship God, and they call superstition God's
worship. So it was among the Israelites; though the majesty of the
Supreme God was not denied, yet that happened which the Papists also
say, "That Christ is not distinguished from his Apostles;" all
things were with them mixed together and confused. He therefore
says, "I shall take away Baalim from her mouth, and she will no more
remember the name of Baalim"; which means, "They will be content
with the profession of pure faith, and will celebrate the name of
the only true God; they will no more mix their own glosses with the
doctrine of the law, and thus vitiate the pure and holy worship of
God;" We now understand the meaning of the Prophet.
    Now we learn from this place, that the Church cannot be rightly
reformed except it be trained to obedience by the frequent scourges
of God; for the Lord thereby creates a new people for himself. We
see at this day what great stupidity possesses their minds, who have
not been well prepared for the worship of God. They indeed laugh at
the superstitions of the Papacy; but, at the same time, they are a
sort of Cyclops: we see that there is nothing but barbarous
ignorance in their hearts. The Prophet then says, not in vain, that
the state of religion would then be right, when the Lord had wholly
subdued his people. Hence "in that day", which refers to the heavy
punishment which God would inflict on the Israelites - "In that
day", then, "saith the Lord, thou wilt no more call me, Baal; but
thou wilt call me, Husband". How so? Because "I will take away" the
names of Baalim from thy mouth; that is, I will make the people to
cast away their own devices, and to be content with the pure
doctrine of my law.
    We ought also to remember that a confession of faith is here
commended by the Prophet. It is no doubt the fruit of true
penitence, when we testify by the mouth and tongue that the only
true God is our God, and when we are not ashamed to confess his name
before the world, though it may rage madly against us.
    We are further reminded by these words, that too much diligence
and care cannot be taken to cleanse ourselves wholly from all sorts
of pollutions; for as long as any relics of superstition continue
among us, they will ever entangle us, and thus we shall stumble, or,
at least not run so briskly as we ought. Since, then whatever men
retain of their own corrupt devices is a hindrance to them in
obtaining a direct access to God, it is meet for us to labour that
the names of Baalim should cease, and be abolished among us; and for
this end, that nothing may hinder and retard us in the true worship
of God. Now follows -

Prayer.

Grant, Almighty God, that as we set up against thee so many
obstacles through the depravity of our flesh and natural
disposition, that we seem as it were to be designedly striving to
close up the door against thy goodness and paternal favour, O grant,
that our hearts may be so softened by thy Spirit, and the hardness
which has hitherto prevailed may be so corrected, that we may submit
ourselves to thee with genuine docility, especially as thou dost so
kindly and tenderly invite us to thyself, that being allured by thy
sweet invitation, we may run, and so run as not to be weary in our
course, until Christ shall at length bring us together to thee, and,
at the same time, lead us to thee for that eternal life, which he
has obtained for us by his own blood. Amen.

Lecture Seventh.

Hosea 2:18
And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of
the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and [with] the creeping
things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the
battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely.
    
    The Prophet shows here that the people would be in every way
happy after their return to God's favour: and, at the same time, he
reminds us that the cause of all evils is, that men provoke God's
wrath. Hence, when God is angry, all things must necessarily be
adverse to us; for as God has all creatures at his will, and in his
hand, he can arm them in vengeance against us whenever he pleases:
but when he is propitious to us, he can make all things in heaven
and earth to be conducive to our safety. As then he often threatens
in the Law, that when he purposed to punish the people, he would
make brute animals, and the birds of heaven, and all kinds of
reptiles, to execute his judgement, so in this place he declares
that there would be peace to men when he received them into favour.
    "I will make a covenant", he says, "in that day with the beast
of the field". We know what is said in another place, 'If thou
shuttest thyself up at home, a serpent shall there bite thee; but if
thou goest out of thy house, either a bear or a lion shall meet thee
in the way,' (Amos 5: 19;) by which words God shows that we cannot
escape his vengeance when he is angry with us; for he will arm
against us lions and bears as well as serpents, both at home and
abroad. But he says here, 'I will make a covenant for them with the
beasts;' so that they may perform their duty towards us: for they
were all created, we know, for this end, - to be subject to men.
Since, then, they were destined for our benefit, they ought,
according to their nature, to be in subjection to us: and we know
that Adam caused this, - that wild beasts rise up so rebelliously
against us; for otherwise they would have willingly and gently
obeyed us. Now since there is this horrible disorder, that brute
beasts, which ought to own men as their masters, rage against them,
the Lord recalls us here to the first order of nature, "I will make
a covenant for them, he says, with the beast of the field", which
means, "I will make brute animals to know for what end they were
formed, that is, to be subject to the dominion of men, and to show
no rebelliousness any more."
    We now then perceive the intention of the Prophet: he reminds
the Israelites that all things were adverse to their safety as long
as they were alienated from God; but that when they returned into
favour with him, this disorder, which had for a time appeared, would
be no longer; for the regular order of nature would prevail, and
brute animals would suffer themselves to be brought to obedience.
This is the covenant of which the Prophet now speaks when he says,
"I will make a covenant for them, that is, in their name, with the
beast of the field, and with the bird of heaven, and with the
reptile of the earth".
    It follows, "I will shatter the bow, and the sword, and the
battle", that is, every warlike instrument; for under the word
"milchamah", the Prophet includes every thing adapted for war.
Hence, "I will shatter" every kind of weapons "in that day, and make
them dwell securely". In the last clause he expresses the end for
which the weapons and swords were to be shattered, - that the
Israelites before disquieted by various fears, might dwell in peace,
and no more fear any danger. This is the meaning.
    But it is meet for us to call to mind what we have before said,
that the Prophet so speaks of the people's restoration, that he
extends his predictions to the kingdom of Christ, as we may learn
from Paul's testimony already cited. We then see that God's favor,
of which the Prophet now speaks, is not restricted to a short time
or to a few years but extends to Christ's kingdom, and is what we
have in common with the ancient people. Let us therefore know, that
if we provoke not God against us by our sins, all things will be
subservient to the promotion of our safety, and that it is our fault
when creatures do not render us obedience: for when we mutiny
against God, it is no wonder that brute animals should become
ferocious and rage against us; for what peace can there be, when we
carry on war against God himself? Hence were men, as they ought, to
submit to God's authority, there would be no rebelliousness in brute
animals; nay, all who are turbulent would gently rest under the
protection of God. But as we are insolent against God, he justly
punishes us by stirring up against us various contentions and
various tumults. Hence, then swords, hence bows, are prepared
against us, and hence wars are stirred up against us: all this is
because we continue to fight against God.
    It must, at the same time, be further noticed, that it is a
singular benefit for a people to dwell in security; for we know that
though we may possess all other things, yet miserable is our
condition, unless we live in peace: hence the Prophet mentions this
as the summit of a happy life. It now follows -

Hosea 2:19,20
And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee
unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness,
and in mercies.
I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt
know the LORD.
    
    The Prophet here again makes known the manner in which God
would receive into favor his people. As though the people had not
violated the marriage vow, God promises to be to them like a
bridegroom, who marries a virgin, young and pure. We have before
spoken of the people's defection; but as God had repudiated them, it
was no common favor for the people to be received again by God, and
received with pardon. When a woman returns to her husband, it is a
great thing in the husband to forgive her, and not to upbraid her
with her former base conduct: but God goes farther than this; for he
espouses to himself a people infamous through many disgraceful acts;
and having abolished their sins, he contracts, as it were, a new
marriage, and joins them again to himself. Hence he says, "I will
espouse thee to me". We now perceive the import of the word,
espouse: for God thereby means, that he would not remember the
unfaithfulness for which he had before cast away his people, but
would blot out all their infamy. It was indeed an honorable
reception into favor, when God offered a new marriage, as though the
people had not been like an adulterous woman.
    And he says, "I will espouse thee to me for ever". There is
here an implied contrast between the marriage of which the Prophet
had hitherto spoken, and this which God now contracts. For God,
having redeemed the people, had before entered, as we have said,
into marriage with them: but the people had departed from their vow;
hence followed alienation and divorce. That marriage was then not
only temporary, but also weak and soon broken; for the people did
not continue long in obedience: but of this new marriage the Prophet
declares, that it will continue fast and for ever; and thus he sets
its durable state in contrast with the falling away which had soon
alienated the people from God. Hence he says, "I will espouse thee
to me for ever".
    He then declares by what means he would do this, even in
righteousness and judgment, and then in kindness and mercies, and
thirdly, in faithfulness. God had indeed from the beginning
covenanted with the Israelites in righteousness and judgment; there
was nothing disguised or false in his covenant: as then God had in
sincerity adopted the people, to what vices does he oppose
righteousness and judgment? I answer, These words must be applied to
both the contracting parties: then, by righteousness God means not
only his own, but that also which is, as they say, mutual and
reciprocal; and by "righteousness" and "judgment" is meant
rectitude, in which nothing is wanting. We now then perceive what
the Prophet had in view.
    But he adds, secondly, "In kindness and mercies": by which
words he intimates, that though the people were unworthy, yet, this
would be no impediment in their way, to prevent them to return into
favor with God; for in this reconciliation God would regard his own
goodness, rather than the merits of his people.
    In the third place, he adds, "In faithfulness": and this
confirms what we have before briefly referred to, - the fixed and
unchangeable duration of this marriage.
    The words, righteousness and judgment, are, I know, more
refinedly explained by some. They say that righteousness is what is
conferred on us by God through gratuitous imputation; and they take
judgment for that defense which he affords against the violence and
the assaults of our enemies. But here the Prophet, I doubt not,
intimates in a general way, that this covenant would stand firm,
because there would be truth and rectitude on both sides. That this
may be more clearly understood, let us take a passage from the 31st
chapter of Jeremiah; where God complains, that the covenant he had
made with the ancient people had not been firm; for they had
forsaken it. 'My covenant,' he says, 'with your fathers has not
continued.' - Why? 'Because they departed from my commandments.' God
indeed in perfect sincerity adopted the people, and no righteousness
was wanting in him; but as there was no constancy and faithfulness
in the people, the covenant came to nothing: hence God afterwards
adds, 'I will hereafter make a new covenant with you; for I will
engrave my laws on your hearts,' &c. We now then see what the
Prophet means by righteousness and judgment, even this, that God
would cause the marriage vow to be kept on both sides; for the
people, restored from exile, would no more violate their pledged
faith nor act unfaithfully.
    But we must notice what is added, "In goodness and mercies".
And this part Jeremiah does not omit, for he adds, 'Their iniquities
I will not remember.' As then the Israelites, conscious of evils
might tremble through fear, the Prophet seasonably anticipates their
diffidence, by promising that the marriage which God was prepared
anew to contract, would be in kindness and mercies. There is then no
reason why their own unworthiness should frighten away the people;
for God here unfolds his own immense goodness and unparalleled
mercies. The Prophet might indeed have expressed this in one word,
but he adds mercies to goodness. The people had indeed sunk into a
deep abyss, that restoration could have been hardly hoped: hence the
word, kindness, or goodness, would have been hardly sufficient to
raise up their minds, had not the word, mercies, been added for the
sake of confirmation.
    Now he adds, "in faithfulness"; and by faithfulness is to be
understood, I doubt not, that stability of which I have spoken; for
what some philosophize on this expression is too refined, who give
this explanation, 'I will espouse thee in faith,' that is by the
gospel; for we embrace God's free promises, and thus the covenant
the Lord makes with US is ratified. I simply interpret the word as
denoting stability.
    And the Prophet shows afterwards that this covenant would be
confirmed, because faithfulness would be reciprocal, "they shall
know", he says, "Jehovah". Jeremiah, I doubt not, borrowed from this
place what is written in the 31st chapter; for there he also adds,
'No one shall hereafter teach his neighbor, for all, from the least
to the greatest shall know me, saith Jehovah.' Our Prophet says here
in one sentence, they shall know Jehovah. Hence then is the
stability of the covenant, because God by his light shall guide the
hearts of those who had before strayed in darkness and wandered
after their own superstitions. Since then a horrible darkness
prevailed among the Israelitic people, Hosea promises the light of
true knowledge; and this knowledge of God is such, that the people
fall not away from the Lord, nor are they seduced by the fallacies
of Satan. Hence God's covenant stands firm. We now understand the
import of the words.
    Jerome thinks that the Prophet promises espousals thrice,
because the Lord once espoused the people to himself in Abraham,
then when he led them out of Egypt, and, thirdly, when once he
reconciled the whole world in Christ: but this is too refined, and
even frivolous. I take a simpler meaning, - that the Prophet
proclaims an espousal thrice, because it was difficult to restore
the people from fear and despair, for they well understood how
grievously and in how many ways they had alienated themselves from
God: it was hence necessary to apply many consolations, which might
serve to confirm their faith. This is the reason why the Lord does
not say once, "I will espouse thee to myself", but repeats it
thrice. The Prophet indeed seemed then to speak of a thing
incredible: for what sort of an example is this, that the Lord
should take for his wife an abominable harlot? Nay, that he should
contract a new marriage with an unclean adulteress, immersed in
debauchery? This was like something monstrous. Hence the Prophet,
that nothing might hinder souls from recumbing on the promise, says,
"Doubt not, for the Lord very often assures you, that this is
certain."
    Now, since we have this promise in common with them, we see by
the words of the Prophet what is the beginning of our salvation: God
espoused the Israelites to himself, when restored from exile through
his goodness and mercies. What fellowship have we with God, when we
are born and come out of the womb, except he graciously adopts us?
for we bring nothing, we know, with us but a curse; this is the
heritage of all mankind. Since it is so, all our salvation must
necessarily have its foundation in the goodness and mercies of God.
But there is also another reason in our case, when God receives us
into favor; for we were covenant-breakers under the Papacy; there
was not one of us who had not departed from the pledge of his
baptism; and so we could not have returned into favor with God,
except he had freely united us to himself: and God not only forgave
us, but contracted also a new marriage with us, so that we can now,
as on the day of our youth, as it has been previously said, openly
give thanks to him.
    But we must notice this short clause, "They shall know
Jehovah". We indeed see that we are in confusion as soon as we turn
aside from the right and pure knowledge of God, nay, that we are
wholly lost. Since then our salvation consists in the light of
faith, our minds ought ever to be directed to God, that our union
with him, which he has formed by the gospel, may abide firm and
permanent. But as this is not in the power or will of man, we draw
this evident conclusion, that God not only offers his grace in the
outward preaching, but at the same time in the renewing of our
hearts. Except God then recreates us a new people to himself, there
is no more stability in the covenant he makes now with us than in
the old which he made formerly with the fathers under the Law; for
when we compare ourselves with the Israelites, we find that we are
nothing better. It is, therefore, necessary that God should work
inwardly and efficaciously on our hearts, that his covenant may
stand firm: nay, since the knowledge of him is the special gift of
the Spirit, we may with certainty conclude, that what is said here
refers not only to outward preaching, but that the grace of the
Spirit is also joined, by which God renews us after his own image,
as we have already proved from a passage in Jeremiah: but that we
may not seem to borrow from another place, we may say that it
appears evident from the words of the Prophet, that there is no
other bond of stability, by which the covenant of God can be
strengthened and preserved, but the knowledge he conveys to us of
himself; and this he conveys not only by outward teaching, but also
by the illumination of our minds by his Spirit, yea, by the renewing
of our hearts. It follows -

Hosea 2:21
And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD,
I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth;
And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and
they shall hear Jezreel.
    
    The Lord promises again that he will not be wanting to the
people, when they shall be reconciled to him. We must, indeed, in
the first place, seek that God may be propitious to us; for they are
very foolish who desire to live well and happily, and in the
meantime care nothing for God's favor. The Prophet shows when the
happiness of men begins; it begins when God adopts them for his
people, and when, having abolished their sins, he espouses them to
himself. It is therefore necessary, in the first place, to seek
this; for as we have said, the desire of being happy is
preposterous, when we first seek the blessings of an earthly life,
when we first seek ease, abundance of good things, health of body,
and similar things. Hence the Prophet now shows, that we are then
only happy when the Lord is reconciled to us, and not only so, but
when he in his love embraces us, and contracts a holy marriage with
us, and on this condition, that he will be a father and preserver to
us, and that we shall be safe and secure under his protection and
defense.
    But at the same time he comes down to things of the second
rank. Our happiness is, indeed, as we have said, in the enjoyment of
God's love; but there are accessions which afterwards follow; for
the Lord provides for us, and exercises a care over us, so that he
supplies whatever is needful for the support of life. Of this later
part the Prophet now treats: he says, "In that day". We see that he
reminds us of the covenant, lest we be content with worldly
abundance; for as it has been said, men are commonly devoted to
their present advantages. Hence the Prophet sets here before our
eyes the Lord's covenant; he afterwards adds, that God's favor would
reach to the corn, and to the wine, and the oil.
    But we must notice the Prophet's words, "I will hear", he says,
or "I will answer", ("'anah" means to answer, but it is here
equivalent to hear,) "I will hear" then, "I will hear the heavens,
and they will hear the earth". The repetition is not superfluous;
for the Israelites had been for some time consumed by famine, before
they were led away into exile; as though the heavens were iron, no
drop of rain came down. They might hence have thought that there was
now no hope; but God here raises them up, "I will hear, I will
hear", he says; as though he said, "There is no reason for the
miserable condition in which I have suffered you long to languish as
your sins deserved, to discourage you; for I will hereafter hear the
heavens." As the Prophet before reminded them that when the beasts
were cruel to them, it was a token of God's wrath; so also he
teaches by these words that the heavens are not dry through any
hidden influence; but that when God withholds his favor, there is no
rain by which the heavens irrigate the earth. Then God here plainly
shows that the whole order of nature, as they say, is in his hand,
that no drop of rain descends from heaven except by his bidding, nor
can the earth produce any grass; in short, that all nature would be
barren were he not to fructify it by his blessing. And this is the
reason why he says, "I will hear the heavens and they will hear the
earth, and the earth will hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil,
and all these will hear Jezreel".
    The Prophet used the word, Jezreel, before in a bad sense; for
his purpose was to reproach the Israelites with their
unfaithfulness: when they boasted of being the seed of Abraham, and
always claimed that honorable and noble distinction, the Lord said,
'Ye are Jezreel, and not Israel.' It may be that the Prophet wished
to show again what they deserved; but he teaches, at the same time,
that God would by no means be prevented from showing kindness to the
unworthy when reconciled to him. Though, then, they were rather
Jezreelites than Israelites, yet their unworthiness would be no
impediment, that God should not deal bountifully with them. There
may also be an allusion here to a new people; for it follows in the
next verse, "uzra'tiha", and I will sow her; and the word, Jezreel,
has an affinity to this verb, it is indeed derived from "zara'",
which is to sow: and as the Prophet presently adds, that Jezreel is,
as it were, the seed of God, I do not disapprove of this supposed
allusion. But yet the Prophet seems here to commend the grace of
God, when he declares that they were Jezreelites with whom God would
deal so kindly as to fructify the earth for their sake.
    Let us now again repeat the substance of the whole, "The corn,
and the wine, and the oil, will hear Jezreel". The Israelites were
famished, and as it is usual with those in want of food, they cried
out, 'Who will give us bread, and wine, and oil?' For the stomach,
as it is said, has no ears; nor has it reason and judgment: when
there is extreme want, men, as if they were distracted, will call
for bread, and wine, and oil. God then has regard for these blind
instincts of men, which only crave what will gratify them: hence he
says, The corn, and wine, and oil, will hear Jezreel, - but when?
Even when the earth will supply trees with sap and moisture, and
extend to the seed its strength; it is then that the earth will hear
the corn, and the wine, and the oil: for these grow not of
themselves, but derive supplies from the earth; and hence the earth
is said to hear them. But cannot the earth of itself hear the corn,
or the wine, or the oil? By no means, except rain descends from
heaven. Since, then, the earth itself draws moisture and wetness
from heaven, we see that men in vain cry out in famine, except they
look up to heaven: and heaven is ruled by the will of God. Let men,
therefore, learn to ascend up to God, that they may seek from him
their daily bread.
    We now, then, see how suitable is this gradation employed by
the Prophet, by which God, on account of the rude and weak
comprehension of men, leads them up at last to himself. For they
turn their thoughts to bread, and wine, and oil; from these they
seek food: they are in this matter very stupid. Be it so; God is
indulgent to their simplicity and ignorance; for by degrees he
proceeds from corn, and wine, and oil, to the earth, and then from
the earth to heaven; and he afterwards shows that heaven cannot pour
down rain except at his will. It follows at last -

Hosea 2:23
And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon
her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to [them which were]
not my people, Thou [art] my people; and they shall say, [Thou art]
my God.
    
    The Prophet here takes the occasion to speak of the increase of
the people. He had promised a fruitful and large increase of corn,
and wine, and oil; but for what end would this be, except the land
had numerous inhabitants? It was hence needful to make this
addition. Besides, the Prophet had said before, 'Though ye be
immense in number, yet a remnant only shall be preserved.' He now
sets God's new favor in opposition to his vengeance, and says, that
God will again sow the people.
    From this sentence we learn that the allusion in the word,
Jezreel, has not been improperly noticed by some, that is, that
they, who had been before a degenerate people and not true
Israelites shall then be the seed of God: yet the words admit of two
senses; for "zara'" applies to the earth as well as to seed. The
Hebrews say, 'The earth is sown,' and also, 'The wheat is sown,' or
any other grain. If then the Prophet compares the people to the
earth, the sense will be, I will sow the people as I do the earth;
that is, I will make them fruitful as the earth when it is
productive. It must then be thus rendered, 'I will sow her for me as
the earth', that is, as though she were my earth. Or it may be
rendered thus, I will sow her for myself in the earth, and for this
end, that the earth, which was for a time waste and desolate, might
have many inhabitants, as we know was the case. But the relative
pronoun in the feminine gender ought not to embarrass us, for the
Prophet ever speaks as of a woman: the people, we know, have been as
yet described to us under the person of a woman.
    And he afterwards adds, "Lo-ruchamah". He speaks here either of
Lo-ruchama, an adulterous daughter, or an adulterous woman, whom a
husband takes to himself. As to the matter itself, it is easy to
learn what the Prophet means, which is, that God would diffuse an
offspring far and wide, when the people had been brought not only to
a small number, but almost to nothing: for how little short of
entire ruin was the desolation of the people when scattered into
banishment? They were then, as it has been stated, like a body torn
asunder: the land in the meantime enjoyed its Sabbaths; God had
disburdened it of its inhabitants.
    We then understand the meaning of the Prophet to be, that God
would multiply the people, that the small remnant would increase to
a great and almost innumerable offspring. "I will then sow her in
the earth", that is, throughout the whole land; "and I will have
mercy on Lo-ruchama", that is, I will in mercy embrace her, who had
not obtained mercy; "and I will say to the no-people, Ye are now my
people". We see that the Prophet insists on this, - That the people
would not only seek the outward advantages of the present life, but
would make a beginning at the very fountain, by regaining the favor
of God, and knowing him as their propitious Father: for this is the
meaning of the Prophet, of which something more will be said
to-morrow.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that as we are in this life subject to so many
miseries, and in the meantime grow insensible in our sins, - O grant
that we may learn to search ourselves and consider one sins, that we
may be really humbled before thee, and ascribe to ourselves the
blame of all our evils, that we may be thus led to a genuine feeling
of repentance, and so strive to be reconciled to thee in Christ,
that we may wholly depend on thy paternal love, and thus ever aspire
to the fulness of eternal felicity, through thy goodness and that
immeasurable kindness which thou testifies is ready and offered to
all those, who with a sincere heart worship thee, call upon thee,
and flee to thee, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
    
    

Chapter 3.
    
Lecture Eighth.
    
    We said in our lecture yesterday, that the Prophet does not in
vain bear a testimony again to God's paternal favor to his people;
for it is our chief happiness, when God acknowledges us as his own,
and when we also can come to his presence with sure confidence.
Hence the order of the Prophet's words ought to be noticed: "I will
have mercy", he says, "on Lo-ruchama"; which means, I will be
propitious to the Israelites whom I have hitherto deprived of my
favor: "and I will say to the no-people, My people are you": then it
follows "and they will say to me, Thou art our God.
    The Prophet, indeed, means that God anticipates us with his
favor; for we are otherwise restrained from access to him. Then God
of his own good-will precedes, and extends his band to us, and then
follows the consent of our faith. Hence God first speaks to the
Israelites, that they might know that they are now counted his
people: and then, after God has testified of his favor, they answer,
'Thou beginnest now to be from henceforth our God.' We hence see
that the beginning of all good is from God, when he makes of aliens
friends, and adopts as his sons those who were before his enemies.
    The third chapter follows.

Hosea 3:1
Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of [her]
friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward
the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of
wine.

    The substance of this chapter is, That it was God's purpose to
keep in firm hope the minds of the faithful during the exile, lest
being overwhelmed with despair they should wholly faint. The Prophet
had before spoken of God's reconciliation with his people; and he
magnificently extolled that favor when he said, 'Ye shall be as in
the valley of Achor, I will restore to you the abundance of all
blessings; in a word, ye shall be in all respects happy.' But, in
the meantime, the daily misery of the people continued. God had
indeed determined to remove them into Babylon. They might,
therefore, have despaired under that calamity, as though every hope
of deliverance were wholly taken from them. Hence the Prophet now
shows that God would so restore the people to favor, as not
immediately to blot out every remembrance of his wrath, but that his
purpose was to continue for a time some measure of his severity.
    We hence see that this prediction occupies a middle place
between the denunciation the Prophet previously pronounced and the
promise of pardon. It was a dreadful thing, that God should divorce
his people and cast away the Israelites as spurious children: but a
consolation was afterwards added. But lest the Israelites should
think that God would immediately, as on the first day, be so
propitious to them as to visit them with no chastisement, it was the
Prophet's design expressly to correct this mistake, as though he
said, 'God will indeed receive you again, but in the meantime a
chastisement is prepared for you, which by its intenseness would
break down your spirits were it not that this comfort will ease you,
and that is, that God, though he punishes you for your sins, yet
continues to provide for your salvation, and to be as it were your
husband.' We now perceive the intention of the Prophet. But I shall
first run over the words, and then return to the subject
    "Jehovah said to me, Go yet and love a woman". There is no
doubt but that God describes here the favor he promises to the
Israelites in a type or vision: for they are too gross in their
notions, who think that the Prophet married a woman who had been a
harlot. It was then only a vision, as though God had set a picture
before the eyes of the people, in which they might see their own
conduct. And when he says, "yet", he refers to the vision, mentioned
in the first chapter. But he bids a woman to be loved before he took
her to be the partner of his conjugal bed; which ought to be
noticed: for God intends here to make a distinction between the
people's restoration and his hidden favor. God then before he
restored the people from exile, loved them as it were in their
widowhood. We now understand why the Prophet does not say, 'Take to
thee a wife,' but, 'love a woman.' The meaning is this: God
intimates, that though exile would be sad and bitter, yet the
people, whom he treated with sharpness and severity, were still dear
to him. Hence, "Love a woman, who had been loved by a husband".
    The word "rea'" is here to be taken for a husband, as it is in
the 2d chapter of Jeremiah where it is said, 'Perfidiously have the
children of Israel dealt with me, as though a woman had departed
from her husband, "mere'ah"', or, 'from her partner.' And there is
an aggravation of the crime implied in this word: for women, when
they prostitute themselves, often complain that they have done so
through too much severity, because they were not treated with
sufficient kindness by their husbands; but when a husband behaves
kindly towards his wife, and performs his duty as a husband, there
is then less excuse for a wife, in case she fixes her affections on
others. To increase then the sin of the people, this circumstance is
stated that the woman had been loved by her friend or partner, and
yet that this kindness of her husband had not preserved her mind in
chastity.
    He afterwards says, "According to the love of Jehovah towards
the children of Israel"; that is, As God loved the people of Israel,
who yet ceased not to look to other gods. This metaphor occurs often
in Scripture, that is, when the verb "panah", which means in Hebrew,
to look to, is used to express hope or desire: so that when men's
minds are intent on any thing, or their affections fixed on it, they
are said to look to that. Since then the Israelites boiled with
insane ardor for their superstitions, they are said to look to other
gods.
    It then follows, "And they love flagons of grapes". The
Prophet, I doubt not, compares this rage to drunkenness: and he
mentions flagons of grapes rather than of wine, because idolaters
are like drunkards, who sometimes so gorge themselves, that they
have no longer a taste for wine; yea, the very smell of wine offends
them, and produces nausea through excessive drinking; but they try
new arts by which they may regain their fondness for wine. And such
is the desire of novelty that prevails in the superstitious. At one
time they go after this, at another time after that, and their minds
are continually tossed to and fro, because they cannot acquiesce in
the only true God. We now then perceive what this metaphor means,
when the Prophet reproaches the Israelites, because they loved
flagons of grapes.
    I now return to what the Prophet, or rather God, had in view.
God here comforts the hearts of the faithful, that they might surely
conclude that they were loved, even when they were chastised. It was
indeed necessary that this difference should have been well
impressed on the Israelites, that they might in exile entertain hope
and patiently bear God's chastisement, and rise that this hope might
mitigate the bitterness of sorrow. God therefore says that though he
shows not himself as yet reconciled to them, but appears as yet
severe, at the same time he is not without love. And hence we learn
how useful this doctrine is, and how widely it opens; for it affords
a consolation of which we all in common have need. When God humbles
us by adversities, when he shows to us some tokens of severity or
wrath, we cannot but instantly fail, were not this thought to occur
to us, that God loves us, even when he is severe towards us, and
that though he seems to cast us away, we are not yet altogether
aliens, for he retains some affection even in the midst of his
wrath; so that he is to us as a husband, though he admits us not
immediately into conjugal honor, nor restores us to our former rank.
We now then see how the doctrine is to be applied to ourselves.
    We must at the same time notice the reproachful conduct of
which I have spoken, - That though the woman was loved yet she could
not be preserved in chastity, and that she was loved, though an
adulteress. Here is pointed out the most shameful ingratitude of the
people, and contrasted with it is God's infinite mercy and goodness.
It was the summit of wickedness in the people to forsake their God,
when he had treated them with so much benignity and kindness. But
wonderful was the patience of God, when he ceased not to love a
people, whom he had found to be so perverse, that they could not be
turned by any acts of kindness nor retained by any favors.
    With regard to the flagons of grapes we may observe, that this
strange disposition is ever dominant in the superstitious, and that
is, that they wander here and there after their own devices, and
have nothing fixed in them. Lest, then, such charms deceive us, let
us learn to cleave firmly and constantly to the word of the Lord.
Indeed the Papists of this day boast of their ancientness, when they
would create an ill-will towards us; as though the religion we
follow were new and lately invented: but we see how modern their
superstitions are; for a passion for them bubbles up continually and
they have nothing that remains constant: and no wonder, because the
eternal truth of God is regarded by them as of no value. If, then,
we desire to restrain this depraved lust, which the Prophet condemns
in the Israelites, let us so adhere to the word of the Lord, that no
novelty may captivate us and lead us astray. It now follows -

Hosea 3:2-5
2 So I bought her to me for fifteen [pieces] of silver, and [for] an
homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:
3 And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt
not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for [another] man: so
[will] I also [be] for thee.
4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king,
and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image,
and without an ephod, and [without] teraphim:
5 Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD
their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his
goodness in the latter days.
    
    These verses have been read together, for in these four the
Prophet explains the vision presented to him. He says, first, that
he had done what had been enjoined him by God; which was conveyed to
him by a vision, or in a typical form, that by such an exhibition he
might impress the minds of the people: "I bought", he says, a wife
for fifteen silverings, and for a corus of barley and half a corus;
that is, for a corus and a half. He tells us in this verse that he
had bought the wife whom he was to take for a small price. By the
"fifteen" silverings and the corus and half of barley is set forth,
I have no doubt, her abject and mean condition. Servants, we know,
were valued at thirty shekels of silver when hurt by an ox, (Exod.
21: 32.) But the Prophet gives her for his wife fifteen silvering;
which seemed a contemptible gift. But then the Lord shows, that
though he would but scantily support his people in exile, they would
still be dear to him, as when a husband loves his wife though he
does not indulge her, when that would be inexpedient: overmuch
indulgence, as it is well known, has indeed often corrupted those
who have gone astray. When a husband immediately pardons an
adulterous wife, and receives her with a smiling countenance, and
fawningly humbles himself by laying aside his own right and
authority, he acts foolishly, and by his levity ruins his wife: but
when a husband forgives his wife, and yet strictly confines her
within the range of duty, and restrains his own feelings, such a
moderate course is very beneficial and shows no common prudence in
the husband; who, though he is not cruel, is yet not carried away by
foolish love. This, then is what the Prophet means, when he says,
that he had given for his wife fifteen silverings and a corus and
half of barley. Respectable women did not, indeed, live on barley.
The Prophets then, gave to his wife, not wheat-flour, nor the fine
flour of wheat, but black bread and coarse food; yea, he gave her
barley as her allowance, and in a small quantity, that his wife
might have but a scanty living. We now then understand the Prophet's
meaning.
    Some elicit a contrary sense, that the Lord would splendidly
and sumptuously support the wife who had been an adulteress; but
this view by no means harmonizes with the Prophet's design, as we
have already seen. Besides, the words themselves lead us another
way. Jerome, as his practice is, refines in allegorizing. He says,
that the people were bought for fifteen silverings, because they
came out of Egypt on the fifteenth day of the month; and then he
says, that as the Hebrew homer contains thirty bushels, they were
bought for a corus and half, which is forty-five bushels. because
the law was promulgated forty-five days after. But these are puerile
trifles. Let then the simple view which I have given be sufficient
for us, - that God, though he favored her, not immediately with the
honor of a wife and liberal support, yet ceased not to love her.
Thus we see the minds of the faithful were sustained to bear
patiently their calamities; for it is an untold consolation to know
that God loves us. If a testimony respecting his love moderates not
our sorrows, we are very ill-natured and ungrateful.
    The Prophet then more clearly proves in these words, that God
loved his people, though he seemed to be alienated from them. He
might have wholly destroyed them: he yet supplied them with food in
their exile. The people indeed lived in the greatest straits; and
all delicacies were no doubt taken from them, and their fare was
very sordid and very scanty: but the Prophet forbids them to measure
God's favor by the smallness of what was given them; for though God
would not immediately receive into favor a wife who had been an
adulteress, yet he wished her to continue his wife.
    Hence he adds, "I said to her, For many days shalt thou tarry
for me, and thou shalt not become wanton, and thou shalt not be for
any man", that is, 'Thou shalt remain a widow; for it is for this
reason that I still retain thee, to find out whether thou wilt
sincerely repent. I would not indeed be too easy towards thee, lest
I should by indulgence corrupt thee: I shall see what thy conduct
will be: you must in the meantime continue a widow.' This, then was
God's small favor which remained for the people, even a sort of
widowhood. God might, indeed, as we have said, have utterly
destroyed his people: but he mitigated his wrath and only punished
them with exile, and in the meantime, proved that he was not
forgetful of his banished people. Though then he only bestowed some
scanty allowance, he yet did not wholly deprive them of food, nor
suffer them to perish through want. This treatment then in reality
is set forth by this representation, that the Prophet had bidden his
wife to remain single.
    He says, "And I also shall be for thee": why does he say, "I
also"? A wife, already joined to her husband, has no right to pledge
her faith to another. Then the Prophet shows that Israel was held
bound by the Lord, that they might not seek another connection, for
his faith was pledged to them. Hence he says, I also shall be for
thee; that is, 'I pledge my faith to thee, or, I subscribe myself as
thy husband: but another time must be looked for; I yet defer my
favor, and suspend it until thou givest proof of true repentance.'
"I also", he says, "shall be for thee"; that is, 'Thou shalt not be
a widow in vain, if thou complainest that wrong is done to thee,
because I forbid thee to marry any one else, I also bind myself in
turn to thee.' Now then is evident the mutual compact between God
and his people, so that the people, though a state of widowhood be
full of sorrows ought not yet to succumb to grief, but to keep
themselves exclusively for God, till the time of their full and
complete deliverance, because he says, that he will remain true to
his pledge. "I will then be thine: though at present, I admit thee
not into the honor of wives, I will not yet wholly repudiate thee."
    But how does this view harmonize with the first prediction,
according to which God seems to have divorced his people? Their
concurrence may be easily explained. The Prophet indeed said, that
the body of the people would be alienated from God: but here he
addresses the faithful only. Lest then the minds of those who were
healable should despond, the Prophet sets before them this comfort
which I have mentioned, - that though they were to continue, as it
were, single, yet the Lord would remain, as it were, bound to them,
so as not to adopt another people and reject them. But we shall
presently see that this prediction regards in common the Gentiles as
well as the Jews and Israelites.
    He afterwards adds, "For many days shall the children of Israel
abide". He says, for many days, that they might prepare themselves
for long endurance, and be not dispirited through weariness, though
the Lord should not soon free them from their calamities. "Though
then your exile should be long, still cherish," he says, "strong
hope in your hearts; for so long a trial must necessarily be made of
your repentance; as you have very often pretended to return to the
Lord, and soon after your hypocrisy was discovered; and then ye
became hardened in your wilful obstinacy: it is therefore necessary
that the Lord should subdue you by a long chastisement." Hence he
says, "The children of Israel shall abide without a king and without
a prince.
    But it may still be further asked, What is the number of the
days of which the Prophet speaks, for the definite number is not
stated here; and we know that the exile appointed for the Jews was
seventy years? (Jer. 29: 10.) But the Prophet seems here to extend
his prediction farther, even to the time of Christ. To this I
answer, that here he refers simply to the seventy years; though, at
the same time, we must remember that those who returned not from
exile were supported by this promise, and hoped in the promised
Mediator: but the Prophet goes not beyond that number, afterwards
prefixed by Jeremiah. It is not to be wondered at, that the Prophet
had not computed the years and days; for the time of the captivity,
that is, of the last captivity, was not yet come. Shortly after,
indeed, four tribes were led away, and then the ten, and the whole
kingdom of Israel was destroyed: but the last ruin of the whole
people was not yet so near. It was therefore not necessary to
compute then the years; but he speaks of a long time indefinitely,
and speaks of the children of Israel and says, "They shall abide
without a king and without a prince": and inasmuch as they placed
their trust in their king, and thought themselves happy in having
this one distinction, a powerful king, he says, They shall abide
without a king, without a prince. He now explains their widowhood
without similitudes: hence he says, "They shall be without a king
and a prince", that is, there shall be among them no kind of civil
government; they shall be like a mutilated body without a head; and
so it happened to them in their miserable dispersion.
    "And without a sacrifice", he says, "and without a statue". The
Hebrews take "matsevah" often in a bad sense, though it means
generally a statue, as a monument over a grave is called "matsevah":
but the Prophet seems to speak here of idols, for he afterwards
adds, "teraphim"; and teraphim were no doubt images, (Gen. 31:
19-30,) which the superstitious used while worshipping their
fictitious gods, as we read in many places. The king of Babylon is
said to have consulted the teraphim; and it is said that Rachel
stole the teraphim, and shortly after Laban calls the teraphim his
gods. But the Hebrews talk idly when they say that these images were
made of a constellation, and that they afterwards uttered words: but
all this has been invented, and we know what liberty they take in
devising fables. The meaning is, that God would take away from the
people of Israel all civil order, and then all sacred rites and
ceremonies, that they might abide as a widow, and at the same time
know, that they were not utterly rejected by God without hope of
reconciliation.
    It is asked, why "ephod" is mentioned; for the priesthood
continued among the tribe of Judah, and the ephod, it is well known,
was a part of the sacerdotal dress. To this I answer, that when
Jeroboam introduced false worship, he employed this artifice - to
make religion among the Israelites nearly like true religion in its
outward form: for it seems to have been his purpose that it should
vary as little as possible from the legitimate worship of God: hence
he said, 'It is grievous and troublesome to you to go up to
Jerusalem; then let us worship God here,' (1 Kings 12: 28.) But he
pretended to change nothing; he would not appear to be an apostate,
departing from the only true God. What then? "God may be worshipped
without trouble by us here; for I will build temples in several
places, and also erect altars: what hinders that sacrifices should
not be offered to God in many places?" There is therefore no doubt
but that he made his altars according to the form of the true altar,
and also added the ephod and various ceremonies, that the Israelites
might think that they still continued in the true worship of God.
    But it follows, "Afterwards shall the children of Israel return
and seek Jehovah their God, and David their king". Here the Prophet
shows by the fruit of their chastisement, that the Israelites had no
reason to murmur or clamour against God, as though he treated them
with too much severity; for if he had stretched out his hand to them
immediately, there would have been in them no repentance: but when
thoroughly cleansed by long correction, they would then truly and
sincerely confess their God. We then see that this comfort is set
forth as arising from the fruit of chastisement, that the Israelites
might patiently bear the temporary wrath of God. "Afterwards", he
says, "they shall return"; as though he said, "They are now led away
headlong into their impiety, and they can by no means be restrained
except by this long endurance of evils."
    "They shall" therefore "return, and then will they seek Jehovah
their God". The name of the only true God is set here in opposition,
as before, to all Baalim. The Israelites, indeed, professed to
worship God; but Baalim, we know, were at the same time in high
esteem among them, who were so many gods, and had crept into the
place of God, and extinguished his pure worship: hence the Prophet
says not simply, They shall seek God, but they shall "seek Jehovah
their God". And there is here an implied reproof in the word
"Elohehem"; for it intimates that they were drawn aside into ungodly
superstitions, that they were without the true God, that no
knowledge of him existed among them; though God had offered himself
to them, yea, had familiarly held intercourse with them, and brought
them up as it were in his bosom, as a father his own children. Hence
the Prophet indirectly upbraids them for this great wickedness when
he says, "They shall seek their God". And who is this God? He is
even Jehovah. They had hitherto formed for themselves vain gods: and
though, he says, they had been deluded by their own devices, they
shall now know the only true God, who from the beginning revealed
himself to them even as their God. He afterwards adds a second
clause respecting King David: but I cannot now finish the subject.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that as thou often dost justly hide thy face
from us, so that on every side we see nothing but evidences of thy
dreadful judgment, - O grant, that we, with minds raised above the
scene of this world, may at the same time cherish the hope which
thou constantly settest before us, so that we may feel fully
persuaded that we are loved by thee, however severely thou mayest
chastise us and may this consolation so support and sustain our
souls, that patiently enduring whatever chastisements thou mayest
lay upon us, we may ever hold fast the reconciliation which thou
hast promised to us in Christ thy Son. Amen.

Lecture Ninth.
    
    We have now to consider the second clause, respecting King
David. The Prophet tells us, that when the Israelites shall be moved
with the desire of seeking God, they shall also seek David their
king. They had, as it is well known, departed from their allegiance
to him; though God had set David over the whole people for this end,
- that they might all be happy under his power and dominion, and
remain safe and secure, as though they beheld God with their own
eyes; for David was, as it were, the angel of God. Then the revolt
of the people, or of the ten tribes, was like a renunciation of the
living God. The Lord said to Samuel, 'Thee have they not despised,
but rather me,' (1 Sam. 8: 7:) this must have been much more the
case with regard to David, whom Samuel, by God's command, had
anointed, and whom the Lord had honored with so many bright
commendations; they could not have cast away his yoke, without
openly rejecting, as it were, God himself. Hence Hosea, speaking of
the people's repentance, does not, without reasons distinctly
mention this, that they shall return to David their king: for they
could not sincerely and from the heart seek God, without subjecting
themselves to that lawful authority to which they had been bound,
not by men, nor by chance, but by God's command.
    It is indeed true that David was then dead; but Hosea sets
forth here, in the person of one man, that everlasting kingdom,
which the Jews knew would endure as the sun and moon: for well known
to them all was this remarkable promise, 'As long as the sun and
moon shall shine in heaven, they shall be faithful witnesses to me,
that the throne of David shall continue,' (Psal. 72: 5, 18.) Hence,
after the death of David, the Prophet shows here that his kingdom
would be forever, for he survived in his children; and, as it
evidently appears, they commonly called their Messiah the son of
David. We must now of necessity come to Christ: for Israel could not
seek their king, David, who had been long dead; but were to seek
that King whom God had promised from the posterity of David. This
prophecy, then, no doubt extends to Christ: and it is evident that
the only hope of the people being gathered was this, that God had
testified that he would give a Redeemer.
    We now then see what the Prophet had in view: the Israelites
had become degenerate; and, by their perfidy, they ceased to be the
true and genuine people of God, as long as they continued alienated
from the family of David. The Prophet, speaking of their full
restoration, now joins David with God; for they could not be
restored to the body of the Church, without uniting with the Jews in
honoring one and the same head. But we must, at the same time,
remember, that the king, whom the Prophet mentions, is not David,
who had been long dead, but his son, to whom the perpetuity of his
kingdom had been promised.
    This doctrine is especially useful to us; for it shows that God
is not to be sought except in Christ the mediator. Whosoever, then,
forsakes Christ, forsakes God himself; for as John says, 'He who has
not the Son, has not the Father,' (1 John 2: 23.) And the thing
itself proves this; for God dwells in light inaccessible; how great,
then is the distance between us and him? Except Christ, then,
presents himself to us as a middle person, how can we come to God?
But then only we begin really to seek God, when we turn our eyes to
Christ, who willingly offers himself to us. This is the only way of
seeking God aright.
    Some, with more refinement, contend, that Christ is Jehovah,
because the Prophet says, that he is to be sought not otherwise than
as God is. By the word, seeking, the Prophet indeed means, that the
Israelites bad no other way of being safe and secure than by fleeing
under the guardianship and protection of their legitimate king, whom
they knew to have been divinely ordained for them. This, then, would
not be sufficient to confute the Jews. I take the passage in a
simpler way, as meaning, that they would seek their God in the
person of the king, whose hand and efforts God intended to employ in
the preservation of the people.
    It further follows, "And they shall fear Jehovah and his
goodness in the last days". The verb "pachad" means sometimes; to
dread, to be frightened as they are who are so terrified as to lose
all courage. But in this place it is to be taken in a good sense, to
fear, as it appears evident from the context. Then he says, "They
shall fear God and his goodness". The Israelites had before shaken
off the yoke of God: for it was a proof of wanton contempt in them
to build a new temple; to devise, at their own will, a new religion;
and, in a word, to allow themselves an unbridled licentiousness.
Hence he says, They shall hereafter begin to fear God, and shall
continue in his service.
    And he adds, "and his goodness"; by which he means that God
would not be dreaded by them, but that he would sweetly allure them
to himself, that they might obey him spontaneously and freely, and
even joyfully: and doubtless God does then only make us really to
fear him, when he gives us a taste of his goodness. For God's
majesty strikes terror into us; and we, in the meantime, seek hiding
places; and were it possible for us to withdraw from him, each of us
would do so gladly; but it is not to worship God with due honor,
when we flee away from him. It is then a sense of his goodness that
leads us reverentially to fear him. 'With thee,' says David, 'is
forgiveness, that thou mayest be feared,' (Ps. 130: 4:) for except
men know God to be ready to be at peace with them, and feel assured
that he will be propitious to them, no one will seek him, no one
will fear him, for without knowing this, we could not but wish his
glory to be abolished and extinguished, and that he should be
without authority, lest he should become our judge. But every one
who has tasted of God's goodness, so orders himself as to obey God.
    What the Prophet then means when he says, "They shall then fear
God", is this, that they shall understand that they were miserable
as long as they were alienated from him, and that true happiness is
to submit to his authority.
    But further, this goodness is to be referred to Christ. Some
take "tuvo" for glory, as in Exod. 33; but the connection of this
passage requires the word to be taken in its proper sense. And God's
goodness, we know, is so exhibited to us in Christ, that not a
particle of it is to be sought for anywhere else: for from this
fountain must we draw whatever refers to our salvation and happiness
of life. Let us then know that God cannot from the heart be
worshipped by us, except when we behold him in the person of his
Son, and know him to be a kind Father to us: hence John says, 'He
who honors not the Son, honors not the Father,' (John 5: 23.)
    Lastly, he adds, "In the extremity of days"; for the Prophet
wished again to remind the Israelites of what he had said before, -
that they had need of long affliction, by which God would by degrees
reform them. He then shows that their perverseness was such, that
they would not soon be brought into a right mind; but that this
would be "in the extremity of days". At the same time he relieves
the minds of the godly, that they might not, through weariness, grow
faint: for though they were not at first to taste of God s goodness,
the Prophet reminds them that there was no reason to despair,
because the Lord would manifest his goodness in the extremity of
days. We may add, that this extremity of days had its beginning at
the return of the people. When liberty was granted to the Jews to
return to their own country, it was the extremity or fulness of
days, of which the Prophet speaks. But a continued series from the
people's return to the coming of Christ, must at the same time be
understood; for the Lord then performed more fully what he declares
here by his Prophet. Hence everywhere in Scripture, especially in
the New Testament, the manifestation of Christ is placed in the last
times. This chapter is now explained. The fourth now follows.
    
    
    
Chapter 4.

Hosea 4:1,2
Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath
a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because [there is]
no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.
By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing
adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.
    
    This is a new discourse by the Prophet, separate from his
former discourses. We must bear in mind that the Prophets did not
literally write what they delivered to the people, nor did they
treat only once of those things which are now extant with us; but we
have in their books collected summaries and heads of those matters
which they were wont to address to the people. Hosea, no doubt, very
often descanted on the exile and the restoration of the people,
forasmuch as he dwelt much on all the things which we have hitherto
noticed. Indeed, the slowness and dullness of the people were such,
that the same things were repeated daily. But it was enough for the
Prophets to make and to write down a brief summary of what they
taught in their discourses.
    Hosea now relates how vehemently he reproved the people,
because every kind of corruption so commonly prevailed, that there
was no sound part in the whole community. We hence see what the
Prophet treats of now; and this ought to be observed, for hypocrites
wish ever to be flattered; and when the mercy of God is offered to
them, they seek to be freed from every fear. It is therefore a
bitter thing to them, when threatening are mingled, when God sharply
chides them. "What! we heard yesterday a discourse on God's mercy,
and now he fulminates against us. He is then changeable; if he were
consistent, would not his manner of teaching be alike and the same
today?" But men must be often awakened, for forgetfulness of God
often creeps over them; they indulge themselves, and nothing is more
difficult than to lead them to God; nay, when they have made some
advances, they soon turn aside to some other course.
    We hence see that men cannot be taught, except God reproves
their sins by his word; and then, lest they despond, gives them a
hope of mercy; and except he again returns to reproofs and
threatening. This is the mode of address which we find in all the
Prophets.
    I now come to the Prophet's words: "Hear", he says, "the word
of Jehovah, ye children of Israel, the Lord has a dispute", &c. The
Prophet, by saying that the Lord had a dispute with the inhabitants
of the land, intimates that men in vain flatter themselves, when
they have God against them, and that they shall soon find him to be
their Judge, except they in time anticipate his vengeance. But he
also reminds the Israelites that God had a dispute with them, that
they might not have to feel the severity of justice, but reconcile
themselves to God, while a seasonable opportunity was given them.
Then the Prophet's introduction had this object in view - to make
the Israelites to know that God would be adverse to them, except
they sought, without delay, to regain his favor. The Lord then,
since he declared that he would contend with them, shows that he was
not willing to do so. for had God determined to punish the people,
what need was there of this warning? Could he not instantly execute
judgment on them? Since, then, the Prophet was sent to the children
of Israel to warn them of a great and fatal danger, God had still a
regard for their safety: and doubtless this warning prevailed with
many; for those who were alarmed by this denunciation humbled
themselves before God, and hardened not themselves in wickedness:
and the reprobate, though not amended, were yet rendered twice less
excusable.
    The same is the case among us, whenever God threatens us with
judgment: they who are not altogether intractable or unhealable,
confess their guilt, and deprecate God's wrath; and others, though
they harden their hearts in wickedness, cannot yet quench the power
of truth; for the Lord takes from them every pretext for ignorance,
and conscience wounds them more deeply, after they have been thus
warned
    We now then understand what the Prophet meant by saying, that
God had a dispute with the inhabitants of the land. But that the
Prophet's intention may be more clear to us, we must bear in mind,
that he and other faithful teachers were wearied with crying, and
that in the meantime no fruit appeared. He saw that his warnings
were heedlessly despised, and that hence his last resort was to
summon men to God's tribunal. We also are constrained, when we
prevail nothing, to follow the same course: "God will judge you; for
no one will bear to be judged by his word: whatever we announce to
you in his name, is counted a matter of sport: he himself at length
will show that he has to do with you." In a similar strain does
Zechariah speak, 'They shall look on him whom they have pierced,'
(Zech. 12: 10:) and to the same purpose does Isaiah say, that the
Spirit of the Lord was made sad. 'Is it not enough,' he says, 'that
ye should be vexatious to men, except ye be so also to my God?'
(Isa. 7: 13.) The Prophet joined himself with God; for the ungodly
king Ahab, by tempting God, did at the same time trifle with his
Prophets.
    There is then here an implied contrast between the dispute
which God announces respecting the Israelites, and the daily strifes
he had with them by his Prophets. For this reason also the Lord
said, 'My Spirit shall no more strive with man, for he is flesh,'
(Gen. 6: 3.) God indeed says there, that he had waited in vain for
men to return to the right way; for they were refractory beyond any
hope of repentance: he therefore declared, that he would presently
punish them. So also in this place, '"The Lord has a trial at law";
he will now himself plead his own cause: he has hitherto long
exercised his Prophets in contending with you; yea, he has wearied
them with much and continual labour; ye remain ever like yourselves;
he will therefore begin now to plead effectually his own cause with
you: he will no more speak to you by the mouth, but by his power,
show himself a judge.' The Prophet, however, designedly laid down
the word, dispute, that the Israelites might know that God would
severely treat them, not without cause, nor unjustly, as though he
said, "God will so punish you as to show at the same time that he
will do so for the best reason: ye elude all threatenings; ye think
that you can make yourselves safe by your shifts: there are no
evasions by which you can possibly hope to attain any thing; for God
will at length uncover all your wickedness." In short, the Prophet
here joins punishment with God's justice, or he points out by one
word, a real (so to speak) or an effectual contention, by which the
Lord not only reproves men in words, but also visits with judgment
their sins.
    It follows, "Because there is no truth", no kindness, no
knowledge of God. The dispute, he said, was to be with the
inhabitants of the land: by "the inhabitants of the land", he means
the whole body of the people; as though he said, "Not a few men have
become corrupt, but all kinds of wickedness prevail everywhere." And
for the same reason he adds, "that there was no truth", &c. in the
land; as though he said, "They who sin hide not themselves now in
lurking-places; they seek no recesses, like those who are ashamed;
but so much licentiousness is everywhere dominant, that the whole
land is filled with the contempt of God and with crimes." This was a
severe reproof to proud men. How much the Israelites flattered
themselves, we know; it was therefore necessary for the Prophet to
speak thus sharply to a refractory people; for a gentle and kind
warning proves effectual only to the meek and teachable. When the
world grows hardened against God, such a rigorous treatment as the
words of the Prophet disclose must be used. Let those then, to whom
is intrusted the charge of teaching, see that they do not gently
warn men, when hardened in their vices; but let them follow this
vehemence of the Prophet.
    We said at the beginning, that the Prophet had a good reason
for being so warm in his indignation: he was not at the moment
foolishly carried away by the heat of zeal; but he knew that he had
to do with men so perverse, that they could not be handled in any
other way. The Prophet now reproves not only one kind of evil, but
brings together every sort of crimes; as though he said, that the
Israelites were in every way corrupt and perverted. He says first,
that there was among them no faithfulness, and no kindness. He
speaks here of their contempt of the second table of the law; for by
this the impiety of men is sooner found out, that is, when an
examination is made of their life: for hypocrites vauntingly profess
the name of God, and confidently arrogate faith to themselves; and
then they cover their vices with the external show of divine
worship, and frigid acts of devotion: nay, the very thing mentioned
by Jeremiah is too commonly the case, that 'the house of God is made
a den of thieves,' (Jer. 7: 11.) Hence the Prophets, that they might
drag the ungodly to the light, examine their conduct according to
the duties of love: "Ye are right worshipers of God, ye are most
holy; but in the meantime, where is truth, where is mutual
faithfulness, where is kindness? If ye are not men, how can ye be
angels? Ye are given to avarice, ye are perfidious, ye are cruel:
what more can be said of you, except that each of you condemns all
the rest before God, and that your life is also condemned by all?'
    By saying that truth or faithfulness was extinct, he makes them
to be like foxes, who are ever deceitful: by saying that there was
no kindness, he accuses them of cruelty, as though he said, that
they were like lions and wild beasts. But the fountain of all these
vices he points out in the third clause, when he says, that they had
no knowledge of God: and the knowledge of God he takes for the fear
of God which proceeds from the knowledge of him; as though he said,
"In a word, men go on as licentiously, as if they did not think that
there is a God in heaven, as if all religion was effaced from their
hearts." For as long as any knowledge of God remains in us, it is
like a bridle to restrain us: but when men become wanton, and allow
themselves every liberty, it is certain that they have forgotten
God, and that there is in them now no knowledge of God. Hence the
complaints in the Psalms, 'The ungodly have said in their heart,
There is no God,' (Ps. 14: 1:) 'Impiety speaks in my heart, There is
no God.' Men cannot run headlong into brutal stupidity, while a
spark of the true knowledge of God shines or twinkles in their
minds. We now then perceive the real meaning of the Prophet.
    But after having said that they were full of perfidiousness and
cruelty, he adds, "By cursing, and lying, and killing", &c., "'Alah"
means to swear: some explain it in this place as signifying to
forswear; and others read the two together, "'aloh wechachesh", to
swear and lie, that is to deceive by swearing. But as "'alah" means
often to curse, the Prophet here, I doubt not, condemns the practice
of cursing, which was become frequent and common among the people.
    But he enumerates particulars in order more effectually to
check the fierceness of the people; for the wicked, we know, do not
easily bend their neck: they first murmur, then they clamour against
wholesome instruction, and at last they rage with open fury, and
break out into violence, when they cannot otherwise stop the
progress of sound doctrine. How ever this may be, we see that they
are not easily led to own their sins. This is the reason why the
Prophet shows here, by stating particulars, in how many ways they
provoked God's wrath: 'Lo,' he says 'cursings, lyings, murder,
thefts, adulteries, abound among you.' And the Prophet seems here to
allude to the precepts of the law; as though he said, "If any one
compares your life with the law of God, he will find that you
avowedly and designedly lead such a life, as proves that you fight
against God, that you violate every part of his law."
    But it must be here observed, that he speaks not of such
thieves or murderers as are led in our day to the gallows, or are
otherwise punished. On the contrary, he calls them thieves and
murderers and adulterers, who were in high esteem, and eminent in
honor and wealth, and who, in short, were alone illustrious among
the people of Israel: such did the Prophet brand with these
disgraceful names, calling them murderers and thieves. So also does
Isaiah speak of them, 'Thy princes are robbers and companions of
thieves,' (Isa. 1: 23.) And we already reminded you, that the
Prophet addresses not his discourses to few men, but to the whole
people; for all, from the least to the greatest, had fallen away.
    He afterwards says, "They have broken out". The expression no
doubt is to be taken metaphorically, as though he said, "There are
now no bonds, no barriers." For the people so raged against God,
that no modesty, no shame on account of the law, no religion, no
fear, prevailed among them, or checked their intractable spirit.
Hence "they broke out". By the word, breaking out, the Prophet sets
forth the furious wantonness seen in the reprobate; when freed from
the fear of God, they abandon themselves to what is sinful, without
any moderation, without any restraint.
    And to the same purpose he subjoins, "Bloods are contiguous to
bloods". By bloods he means all the worst crimes: and he says that
bloods were close to bloods, because they joined crimes together,
and as Isaiah says, that iniquity was as it were a train; so our
Prophet says here, that such was the common liberty they took to
sin, that wherever he turned his eyes, he could see no part free
from wickedness. Then bloods are contiguous to bloods, that is,
everywhere is seen the horrible spectacle of crimes. This is the
meaning. It now follows -

Hosea 4:3
Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein
shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of
heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.

    The Prophet now expresses more clearly the dispute which he
mentions in the first verse; and it now evidently appears, that it
was not a judgment expressed in words, for God had in vain tried to
bring the people to the right way by threats and reproofs: he had
contended enough with then; they remained refractory; hence he adds,
"Now mourn shall the whole land"; that is, God has now resolved to
execute his judgment: there is therefore no use for you any more to
contrive any evasion, as you have been hitherto wont to do; for God
stretches forth his hand for your ultimate destruction. Mourn,
therefore, shall the land, and "cut off shall be every one that
dwells in it", as I prefer to render it; unless the Prophet, it may
be, means, that though God should for a time suspend the last
judgment, yet the Israelites would gain nothing, seeing that they
would, by continual languor, pine away. But as he mentions mourning
in the first place, the former meaning, that God would destroy all
the inhabitants, seems more appropriate. He adds, "gathered shall
they be all", or destroyed, (for either may suit the place,) "from
the beast of the field, and the bird of heaven, to the fishes of the
sea". The Prophet here enlarges on the greatness of God's wrath; for
he includes even the innocent beasts and the birds of heaven, yea,
the fishes of the sea. When Godly vengeance extends to brute
animals, what will become of men?
    But some one may here object and say, that it is unworthy of
God to be angry with miserable creatures, which deserve no such
treatment: for why should God be angry with fishes and beasts? But
an answer may be easily given: As beasts, and birds, and fishes,
and, in a word, all other things, have been created for the use of
men, it is no wonder that God should extend the tokens of his curse
to all creatures, above and below, when his purpose is to punish
men. We seek, indeed, for the most part, some vain comforts to
delight us, or to moderate our sorrows when God shows himself angry
with us: but when God curses innocent animals for our sake, we then
dread the more, except, indeed, we be under the influence of extreme
stupor.
    We now then understand why God here denounces destruction on
brute animals as well as on birds and fishes of the sea; it is, that
men may know themselves to be deprived of all his gifts; as when a
person, in order to expose a wicked man to shame, pulls down his
house and burns his whole furniture: so also does God do, who has
adorned the world with so much and such varied wealth for our sake,
when he reduces all things to a waste: He thereby shows how
grievously offended he is with us, and thus constrains us to become
humble. This then is the Prophet's meaning.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that since we are at this day as guilty before
thee as the Israelites of old were, who were so rebellious against
thy Prophets, and that as thou hast often tried sweetly to allure us
to thyself without any success, and as we have not hitherto ceased,
by our continual obstinacy, to provoke thy wrath, - O grant, that
being moved at least by the warnings thou givest us, we may
prostrate ourselves before thy face, and not wait until thou puttest
forth thy hand to destroy us, but, on the contrary, strive to
anticipate thy judgment; and that being at the same time surely
convinced that thou art ready to be reconciled to us in Christ, we
may flee to Him as our Mediator; and that relying on his
intercession, we may not doubt but that thou art ready to give us
pardon, until having at length put away all sins, we come to that
blessed state of glory which has been obtained for us by the blood
of thy Son. Amen.

Lecture Tenth.

Hosea 4:4
Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people [are] as
they that strive with the priest.
    
    The Prophet here deplores the extreme wickedness of the people,
that they would bear no admonitions, like those who, being past
hope, reject every advice, admit no physicians, and dislike all
remedies: and it is a proof of irreclaimable wickedness, when men
close their ears and harden their hearts against all salutary
counsels. Hence the Prophet intimates, that, together with their
great and many corruptions, there was such waywardness, that no one
dared to reprove the public vices.
    He adds this reason, "For the people are as chiders of the
priest", or, they really contend with the priest: for some take
"caph", in this place, not as expressive of likeness, but as
explaining and affirming what is said, 'They altogether strive with
the priest.' But I prefer the former sense, which is, that the
Prophet calls all the people the censors of their pastors: and we
see that froward men become thus insolent when they are reproved;
for instantly such an objection as this is made by them, "Am I to be
treated like a child? Have I not attained sufficient knowledge to
understand how I ought to live?" We daily meet with many such men,
who proudly boast of their knowledge, as though they were superior
to all Prophets and teachers. And no doubt the ungodly make a show
of wit and acuteness in opposing sound doctrine: and then it appears
that they have learnt more than what one would have thought, - for
what end? only that they may contend with God.
    Let us now return to the Prophet's words. "But", he says: "ach"
is not to be taken here as in many places for "verily:" but it
denotes exception, "In the meantime". "But", or, in the meantime,
"let no one" chide and reprove another. In a word, the Prophet
complains, that while all kinds of wickedness abounded among the
people, there was no liberty to teach and to admonish, but that all
were so refractory, that they would not bear to hear the word; and
that as soon as any one touched their vices, there were great
doctors, as they say, ready to reply.
    And he enlarges on the subject by saying, that they "were as
chiders of the priest"; for he declares, that they who, with
impunity, conducted themselves so wantonly against God, were not yet
content in being so wayward as to repel all reproofs, but also
willfully rose up against their own teachers: and, as I have already
said, common observation sufficiently proves, that all profane
despisers of God are inflated with such confidence, that they dare
to attack others. Some conjecture, in this instance, that the priest
was so base, as to become liable to universal reprobation; but this
conjecture is of no weight, and frigid: for the Prophet here did not
draw his pen against a single individual, but, on the contrary,
sharply reproved, as we have said, the perverseness of the people,
that no one would hearken to a reprover. Let us then know that their
diseases were then incurable, when the people became hardened
against salutary counsels, and could not bear to be any more
reproved. It follows -

Hosea 4:5
Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall
fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother.

    The copulative is to be taken here for an illative, "Fall,
therefore, shalt thou". Here God denounces vengeance on refractory
men; as though he said, "As ye pay no regard to my authority, when
by words I reprove you, I will not now deal with you in this way;
but I will visit you for this contempt of my word." And thus God is
wont to do: he first tries men, or he makes the trial, whether they
can be brought to repentance; he severely reproves them, and
expostulates with them: but having tried all means by words, he then
comes to the last remedy, by exercising his power; for, as it has
been said, he deigns no longer to contend with men. Hence the Lord,
when he saw that his Prophets were despised, and that their whole
teaching was a matter of sport, determined, as it appears from this
passage, that the people should shortly be destroyed.
    Some render "hayom", to-day, and think that a short time is
denoted: but as the Prophet immediately subjoins, "And fall together
shall the Prophet with thee", "laylah", "in the night", I explain it
thus, - that the people would be destroyed together, and then that
the Prophets, even those who, in a great measure, brought such
vengeance on the people, would be drawn also into the same ruin.
Fall shalt thou then in the day, and fall in the night shall the
Prophet, that is, "The same destruction shall at the same time
include all: but if ruin should not immediately take away the
Prophets, they shall not yet escape my hand; they shall follow in
their turn." Hence the Prophet joins day and night together in a
continued order; as though he said, "I will destroy them all from
the first to the last, and no one shall rescue himself from
punishment; and if they think that those shall be unpunished who
shall be later led to vengeance, they are mistaken; for as the night
follows the day, so also some will draw others after them into the
same ruin." Yet at the same time the Prophet, I doubt not, means by
this metaphor, "the day", that tranquil and joyous time during which
the people indulged their pride. He then means that the punishment
he predicted would be sudden: for except the ungodly see the hand of
God near, they ever, as it has been observed before, laugh to scorn
all threatening. God then says that he would punish the people "in
the day", even at mid-day, while the sun was shining; and that when
the dusk should come, the Prophets would also follow in their turn.
    It is evident enough that Hosea speaks not here of God's true
and faithful ministers, but of impostors, who deceived the people by
their blandishments, as it is usually the case: for as soon as any
Prophet sincerely wished to discharge his office for God, there came
forth flatterers before the public, - "This man is too rigid, and
makes a wrong use of God's name, by denouncing so grievous a
punishment; we are God's people." Such, then, were the Prophets, we
must remember, who are here referred to; for few were those who then
faithfully discharged their office; and there was a great number of
those who were indulgent to the people and to their vices.
    It is afterwards added, "I will also consume thy mother". The
term, mother, is to be taken here for the Church, on account of
which the Israelites, we know, were wont to exult against God; as
the Papists do at this day, who boast of their mother church, which,
as they say, is their shield of Ajax. When any one points out their
corruptions, they instantly flee to this protection, - "What! Are we
not the Church of God?" Hence when the Prophet saw that the
Israelites made a wrong use of this falsely-assumed title, he said,
'I will also destroy your mother,' that is, "This your boasting, and
the dignity of Abraham's race, and the sacred name of Church, will
not prevent God from taking dreadful vengeance on you all; for he
will tear from the roots and abolish the very name of your mother;
he will disperse that smoke of which you boast, inasmuch as you hide
your crimes under the title of Church." It follows -

Hosea 4:6
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast
rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no
priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will
also forget thy children.

    Here the Prophet distinctly touches on the idleness of the
priests, whom the Lord, as it is well known, had set over the
people. For though it could not have availed to excuse the people,
or to extenuate their fault, that the priests were idle; yet the
Prophet justly inveighs against them for not having performed the
duty allotted to them by God. But what is said applies not to the
priests only; for God, at the same time, indirectly blames the
voluntary blindness of the people. For how came it, that pure
instruction prevailed not among the Israelites, except that the
people especially wished that it should not? Their ignorance, then,
as they say, was gross; as is the case with many ungodly men at this
day, who not only love darkness, but also draw it around them on
every side, that they may have some excuse for their ignorance.
    God then does here, in the first place, attack the priests, but
he includes also the whole people; for teaching prevailed not, as it
ought to have done, among them. The Lord also reproaches the
Israelites for their ingratitude; for he had kindled among them the
light of celestial wisdom; inasmuch as the law, as it is well known,
must have been sufficient to direct men in the right way. It was
then as though God himself did shine forth from heaven, when he gave
them his law. How, then, did the Israelites perish through
ignorance? Even because they closed their eyes against the celestial
light, because they deigned not to become teachable, so as to learn
the wisdom of the eternal Father. We hence see that the guilt of the
people, as it has been said, is not here extenuated, but that God,
on the contrary, complains, that they had malignantly suppressed the
teaching of the law: for the law was fit to guide them. The people
perished without knowledge, because they would perish.
    But the Prophet denounces vengeance on the priests, as well as
on the whole people, "Because knowledge hast thou rejected", he
says, "I also will thee reject, so that the priesthood thou shalt
not discharge for me". This is specifically addressed to the
priests: the Lord accuses them of having rejected knowledge. But
knowledge, as Malachi says, was to be sought from their lips, (Mal.
2: 7;) and Moses also touches on the same point in Deut. 33: 10. It
was then an extreme wickedness in the priests, as though they wished
to subvert God's sacred order, when they sought the honor and the
dignity of the office without the office itself: and such is the
case with the Papists of the present day; they are satisfied with
its dignity and its wealth. Mitred bishops are prelates, are chief
priests; they vauntingly boast that they are the heads of the
Church, and would be deemed equal with the Apostles: at the same
time, who of them attends to his office? nay, they think that it
would be in a manner a disgrace to give attention to their office
and to God's call.
    We now then see what the Prophet meant by saying, "Because thou
hast knowledge rejected, I also will thee reject, so that thou shalt
not discharge for me the priesthood". In a word, he shows that the
divorce, which the priests attempted to make, was absurd, and
contrary to the nature of things, that it was monstrous, and in
short impossible. Why? Because they wished to retain the title and
its wealth, they wished to be deemed prelates of the Church, without
knowledge: God allows not things joined together by a sacred knot to
be thus torn asunder. "Dost thou then," he says, "take to thyself
the office without knowledge? Nay, as thou hast rejected knowledge,
I will also take to myself the honor of the priesthood, which I
previously conferred on thee."
    This is a remarkable passage, and by it we can check the
furious boasting of the Papists, when they haughtily force upon us
their hierarchy and the order, as they call it, of their clergy,
that is, of their corrupt dregs: for God declares by his word, that
it is impossible that there should be any priest without knowledge.
And further, he would not have priests to be endued with knowledge
only, and to be as it were mute; for he would have the treasure
deposited with them to be communicated to the whole Church. God
then, in speaking of sacerdotal knowledge, includes also preaching.
Though one indeed be a literate, as there have been some in our age
among the bishops and cardinals, - though then there be such he is
not yet to be classed among the learned; for, as it has been said,
sacerdotal learning is the treasure of the whole Church. When
therefore a boast is made of the priesthood, with no regard to the
ministration of the word, it is a mere mockery; for teacher and
priest are, as they say, almost convertible terms. We now perceive
the meaning of the first clause.
    It then follows, "Because thou hast forgotten the law of thy
God, I will also forget thy children". Some confine this latter
clause to the priests, and think that it forms a part of the same
context: but when any one weighs more fully the Prophet's words, he
will find that this refers to the body of the people.
    This Prophet is in his sentences often concise, and so his
transitions are various and obscure: now he speaks in his own
person, then he assumes the person of God; now he turns his
discourse to the people, then he speaks in the third person; now he
reproves the priests, then immediately he addresses the whole
people. There seemed to be first a common denunciation, 'Thou shalt
fall in the day, the Prophet in the night shall follow, and your
mother shall perish.' The Prophet now, I doubt not, confirms the
same judgment in other words: and, in the first place, he advances
this proposition, that the priests were idle, and that the people
quenched the light of celestial instruction; afterwards he denounces
on the priests the judgment they deserved, 'I will cast thee away,'
he says, 'from the priesthood;' now he comes to all the Israelites,
and says, "Thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also
forget thy children". Now this fault was doubtless what belonged to
the whole people; there was no one exempt from this sin; and this
forgetfulness was fitly ascribed to the whole people. For how it
happened, that the priests had carelessly shaken off from their
shoulders the burden of teaching the people? Even because the people
were unwilling to have their ears annoyed: for the ungodly complain
that God's servants are troublesome, when they daily cry against
their vices. Hence the people gladly entered into a truce with their
teachers, that they might not perform their office: thus the
oblivion of God's law crept in.
    As then the Prophet had denounced on the priests their
punishment, so he now assures the whole people that God would bring
a dreadful judgment on them all, that he would even blot out the
whole race of Abraham, "I will forget", he says, "thy children". Why
was this? The Lord had made a covenant with Abraham, which was to
continue, and to be confirmed to his posterity: they departed from
the true faith, they became spurious children; then God rightly
testifies here, that he had a just cause why he should no longer
count this degenerate people among the children of Abraham. How so?
"For ye have forgotten my law," he says: "had you remembered the
law, I would also have kept my covenant with you: but I will no more
remember my covenant, for you have violated it. Your children,
therefore, deserve not to be under finch a covenant, inasmuch as ye
are such a people." It follows -

Hosea 4:7
As they were increased, so they sinned against me: [therefore] will
I change their glory into shame.

    Here the Prophet amplifies the wickedness and impiety of the
people, by adding this circumstance, that they the more perversely
wantoned against God, the more bountiful he was to them, yea, when
he poured upon them riches in full exuberance. Such a complaint we
have before noticed: but the Prophets, we know, did not speak only
once of the same thing; when they saw that they effected nothing,
that the contempt of God still prevailed, they found it necessary to
repeat often what they had previously said. Here then the Prophet
accuses the Israelites of having shamefully abused the indulgence of
God, of having allowed themselves greater liberty in sinning, when
God so kindly and liberally dealt with them.
    Some confine this to the priests, and think the meaning to be,
that they sinned more against God since he increased the Levitical
tribe and added to their wealth: but the Prophet, I doubt not, meant
to include the whole people. He, indeed, in the last verse,
separated the crimes of the priests from those of the people, though
in the beginning he advanced a general propositions: he now returns
to that statement, which is, that all, from the highest to the
lowest, acted impiously and wickedly against God. Now we know that
the Israelites had increased in number as well as in wealth; for
they were prosperous, as it has been stated, under the second
Jeroboam; and thought themselves then extremely happy, because they
were filled with every abundance. Hence God shows now that they had
become worse and less excusable, for they were grown thus wanton,
like a horse well-fed, when he kicks against his own master, - a
comparison which even Moses uses in his song, (Deut. 32: 19.) We now
see what the Prophet means. Hence, when he says, "kerubam",
"according to their multiplying", I explain this not simply of men
nor of wealth, but of every kind of blessing: for the Lord here, in
a word, accuses the people of ingratitude, because the more kind and
liberal he was to them, the more obstinately bent they were on
sinning.
    He afterwards subjoins, "Their glory will I turn to shame". He
here denounces God's judgment on proud men, which they feared not:
for men, we know, are blinded by prosperity. And it is the worst
kind of drunkenness, when we seem to ourselves to be happy; for then
we allow ourselves every thing that is contrary to God, and are deaf
to all instruction, and are, in short, wholly intractable. But the
Prophet says, "I will commute this glory into shame", which means,
"There is no reason for them to trust in themselves, and foolishly
to impose on themselves, by fixing their eyes on their present
splendor; for it is in my power," the Lord says, "to change their
glory." We then see that the Prophet meant here to shake off from
the Israelites their vain confidence; for they were wont to set up
against God their riches, their glory, their power, their horses and
chariots. "This is your glorying; but in my hand and power is
adversity and prosperity; yea," the Lord says, "on me alone depends
the changing of glory into shame." But at the same time, the Prophet
intimates, that it could not be that God would thus prostitute his
blessings to unworthy men as to swine: for it is a kind of
profanation, when men are thus proud against God, while he bears
with them, while he spares them. This combination then applies to
all who abuse God's kindness; for the Lord intends not that his
favor should be thus profaned. It follows -

Hosea 4:8
They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their
iniquity.

    This verse has given occasion to many interpreters to think
that all the particulars we have noticed ought to be restricted to
the priests alone: but there is no sufficient reason for this. We
have already said, that the Prophet is wont frequently to pass from
the people to the priests: but as a heavier guilt belonged to the
priests, he very often inveighs against them, as he does in this
place, "They eat", he says, "the sin of my people, and lift up to
their iniquity his soul", that is, 'every one lifts up his own
soul,' or, 'they lift up the soul of the sinner by iniquity;' for
the pronoun applies to the priests as well as to the people. The
number is changed: for he says, "yochelu" and "yis'u" in the plural
number, "They will eat the sin, and shall lift up", &c., in the
third person; and then "his soul"; it may be, their own; it is,
however, a pronoun in the singular number: hence a change of number
is necessary. We are then at liberty to choose, whether the Prophet
says this of the people or of the priests: and as we have said, it
may apply to both, but in a different sense.
    We may understand him as saying, that the priests lifted up
their souls to the iniquity of the people, because they anxiously
wished the people to be given to many vices, for they hoped thereby
to gain much prey, as the case is, when any one expects a reward
from robbers: he is glad to hear that they become rich, for he
considers their riches to be for his gain. So it was with the
priests, who gaped for lucre; they thought that they were going on
well, when the people brought many sacrifices. And this is usually
the case, when the doctrine of the law is adulterated, and when the
ungodly think that this alone remains for them, - to satisfy God
with sacrifices, and similar expiations. Then, if we apply the
passage to the priests, the lifting up of the soul is the lust for
gain. But if we prefer to apply the words to sinners themselves, the
sense is, 'Upon their iniquity they lift up their soul,' that is,
the guilty raise up themselves by false comforts, and extenuate
their vices; or, by their own flatteries, bury and entirely smother
every remnant of God's fear. Then, according to this second sense,
to lift up the soul is to deceive, and to take away all doubts by
vain comforts, or to remove every sorrow, and to erase every guilt
by a false notion.
    I come now to the meaning of the whole. Though the Prophet here
accuses the priests, yet he involves, no doubt, the whole people,
and deservedly, in the same guilt: for how was it that the priests
expected gain from sacrifices? Even because the doctrine of the law
was subverted. God had instituted sacrifices for this end, that
whosoever sinned, being reminded of his guilt, might mourn for his
sin, and further, that by witnessing that sad spectacle, his
conscience might be more wounded: when he saw the innocent animal
slain at the altar, he ought to have dreaded God's judgment.
Besides, God also intended to exercise the faith of all, in order
that they might flee to the expiation which was to be made by the
promised Mediator. And at the same time, the penalty which God then
laid on sinners, ought to have been as a bridle to restrain them. In
a word, the sacrifices had, in every way, this as their object, - to
keep the people from being so ready or so prone to sin. But what did
the ungodly do? They even mocked God, and thought that they had
fully done their duty, when they offered an ox or a lamb; and
afterwards they freely indulged themselves in their sins.
    So gross a folly has been even laughed to scorn by heathen
writers. Even Plato has so spoken of such sacrifices, as to show
that those who would by such trifles make a bargain with God, are
altogether ungodly: and certainly he so speaks in his second book on
the Commonwealth, as though he meant to describe the Papacy. For he
speaks of purgatory, he speaks of satisfactions; and every thing the
Papists of this day bring forward, Plato in that book distinctly
sets forth as being altogether sottish and absurd. But yet in all
ages this assurance has prevailed, that men have thought themselves
delivered from God's hand, when they offered some sacrifice: it is,
as they imagine, a compensation.
    Hence the Prophet now complains of this perversion, "They eat",
he says, (for he speaks of a continued act,) "the sins of my people,
and to iniquity they lift up the heart of each"; that is, When all
sin, one after the other, each one is readily absolved, because he
brings a gift to the priests. It is the same thing as though the
Prophet said, "There is a collusion between them, between the
priests and the people." How so? Because the priests were the
associates of robbers, and gladly seized on what was brought: and so
they carried on no war, as they ought to have done, with vices, but
on the contrary urged only the necessity of sacrifices: and it was
enough, if men brought things plentifully to the temple. The people
also themselves showed their contempt of God; for they imagined,
that provided they made satisfaction by their ceremonial
performances, they would be exempt from punishment. Thus then there
was an ungodly compact between the priests and the people: the Lord
was mocked in the midst of them. We now then understand the real
meaning of the Prophet: and thus I prefer the latter exposition as
to 'the lifting up of the soul,' which is, that the priests lifted
up the soul of each, by relieving their consciences, by soothing
words of flattery, and by promising life, as Ezekiel says, to souls
doomed to die, (Ezek. 13: 19.) It now follows -

Hosea 4:9,10
And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them
for their ways, and reward them their doings.
For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom,
and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to
the LORD.
    
    The Prophet here again denounces on both a common punishment,
as neither was free from guilt. "As the people", he says, "so shall
be the priest"; that is "I will spare neither the one nor the other;
for the priest has abused the honor conferred on him; for though
divinely appointed over the Church for this purpose, to preserve the
people in piety and holy life, he has yet broken through and
violated every right principle: and then the people themselves
wished to have such teachers, that is, such as were mute. I will
therefore now" the Lord says, "inflict punishment on them all alike.
As the people then, so shall the priest be."
    Some go farther, and say, that it means that God would rob the
priests of their honor, that they might differ nothing from the
people; which is indeed true: but then they think that the Prophet
threatens not others as well as the priests; which is not true. For
though God, when he punishes the priests and the people for the
contempt of his law, blots out the honor of the priesthood, and so
abolishes it as to produce an equality between the great and the
despised; yet the Prophet declares here, no doubt, that God would
become the vindicator of his law against other sinners as well as
against the priests. This subject expands wider than what they mean.
The rest we must defer till to-morrow.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that, since thou hast hitherto so kindly
invited us to thyself, and daily invites us, and often interposes
also thy threatening to rouse our inattention, and since we have
been inattentive to thy reproofs, as well as to thy paternal
kindness, - O grant, that we may not, to the last, proceed in this
our wickedness, and thus provoke the vengeance thou here denounces
on men past recovery; but that we may anticipate thy wrath by true
repentance, and be humbled under thy hand, yea, be thy word, that
thou mayest receive us into favor, and nourish us in thy paternal
bosom, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
    
Lecture Eleventh.

    One thing escaped me in yesterday's lecture, on which I shall
now briefly touch. It may be asked why the Prophet says, that the
priest was to be robbed of his honour, who was not a true nor a
legitimate priest; for there was among the Israelites, we know, no
temple in which God was rightly worshipped. For though it was
customary with them to profess the name of the true God, yet we are
aware that all their pretenses were vain. Since the lord had chosen
one sanctuary only at Jerusalem, it hence follows, that all the
priests among the people of Israel were false. It could not then be
that God had taken from them their honor. But it is nothing new for
God to punish the ungodly, by taking from them what they seem to
possess.
    The case is the same this day as to the Papacy; for they who
vaunt themselves as being clergy and priests are mere apes: as,
however, they retain the title, what the Prophet threatened to the
false priests of his age may be justly said to them, that their
shame shall be made manifest, so that they shall cease to boast of
their dignity, by which they now deceive the simple and ignorant.
    We now then understand the Prophet's meaning: his meaning is
the same as when he said before, "I will draw thee to the desert,
and then the ephod shall cease, and the seraphim shall cease." There
was, we know, no ephod which the Lord approved, except that alone
which the legitimate priest did wear: but as there was emulation
between the Israelites and the Jews, and as they who had departed
from the true and pure worship of God, did yet boast that they
worshipped the God of Abraham, the Lord here declares, that he would
not suffer them to lurk under such masks.
    I now return to that passage of the Prophet, in which he says,
"They shall eat and shall not be satisfied", and again, "They shall
play the wanton and shall not increase; because Jehovah have they
left off to attend to". The Prophet here again proclaims the
judgment which was nigh the Israelites. And first, he says, "They
shall eat and shall not be satisfied"; in which he alludes to the
last verse. For the priests gaped for gain, and their only care was
to satisfy their appetites. Since then their cupidity was
insatiable, which was also the cause why they conceded sinful
liberty to the people, he now says, "They shall eat and shall not be
satisfied". The Prophet intimates further by these words, that men
are not sustained by plenty or abundance of provisions, but rather
by the blessing of God: for a person may devour much, yet the
quantity, however large, may not satisfy him; and this we find to be
often the case as to a voracious appetite; for in such an instance,
the staff of bread is broken, that is, the Lord takes away support
from bread, so that much eating does not satisfy. And this is the
Prophet's meaning, when he says, "They shall eat and shall not be
satisfied". The priests thought it a happy time with them, when they
gathered great booty from every quarter; God on the contrary
declares, that it would be empty and useless to them; for no
satisfying effect would follow: however much they might greedily
swallow up, they would not yet be satisfied.
    He afterwards adds, "They shall play the wanton and shall not
increase"; that is, "However much they might give the reins to
promiscuous lusts, I will not yet suffer them to propagate: so far
shall they be from increasing or generating an offspring by lawful
marriages, that were they everywhere to indulge in illicit
intercourse, they would still continue barren." The Prophet here, in
a word, testifies that the ungodly are deceived, when they think
that they can obtain their wishes by wicked and unlawful means; for
the Lord will frustrate their desires. The avaricious think, when
they have much, that they are sufficiently defended against all
want; and when penury presses on all others, they think themselves
beyond the reach of danger. But the Lord derides this folly:
"Gather, gather great heaps; but I will blow on your riches, that
they may vanish, or at least yield you no advantage. So also strive
to beget children; though one may marry ten wives, or everywhere
play the wanton, he shall still remain childless." Thus we see that
a just punishment is inflicted on profane men, when they indulge
their own lusts: they indeed promise to themselves a happy issue;
but God, on the other hand, pronounces upon them his curse.
    He then adds, "They have left Jehovah to attend", that is that
they may not attend or serve him. Here the Prophet points out the
source and the chief cause of all evils, and that is, because the
Israelites had forsaken the true God and his worship. Though they
indeed retained the name of God, and were wont, even boldly, to set
up this plea against the Prophets, that they were the children of
Abraham, and the chosen of the supreme God, he yet says that they
were apostates. How so? Because whosoever keeps faith with God,
keeps himself also under the tuition of his word, and wanders not
after his own inventions; but the Israelites indulged themselves in
any thing they pleased. Since then it is certain that they had
shaken off the yoke of the law, it is no wonder that the Prophet
says, that they had departed from the Lord. But we ought to notice
the confirmation of this truth, that no one can continue to keep
faith with God, except he observes his word and remains under its
tuition. Let us now proceed -

Hosea 4:11
Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.
    
    The verb "lakach" means to take away; and this sense is also
admissible that wine and wantonness take possession of the heart;
but I take its simpler meaning, to take away. But it is not a
general truth as most imagine, who regard it a proverbial saying,
that wantonness and wine deprive men of their right mind and
understanding: on the contrary, it is to be restricted, I doubt not,
to the Israelites; as though the Prophet had said, that they were
without a right mind, and like brute animals, because drunkenness
and fornication had infatuated or fascinated them. But we may take
both in a metaphorical sense; as fornication may be superstition,
and so also drunkenness: yet it seems more suitable to the context
to consider, that the Prophet here reproaches the Israelites for
having petulantly cast aside every instruction through being too
much given to their pleasures and too much cloyed. Since then the
Israelites had been enriched with great plenty, God had given way to
abominable indulgences, the Prophet says, that they were without
sense: and this is commonly the case with such men. I will not
therefore treat here more at large of drunkenness and fornication.
    It is indeed true, that when any one becomes addicted to
wantonness, he loses both modesty and a right mind, and also that
wine is as it were poisonous, for it is, as one has said, a mixed
poison: and the earth, when it sees its own blood drank up
intemperately, takes its revenge on men. These things are true; but
let us see what the Prophet meant.
    Now, as I have said, he simply directs his discourse to the
Israelites, and says, that they were sottish and senseless, because
the Lord had dealt too liberally with them. For, as I have said, the
kingdom of Israel was then very opulent, and full of all kinds of
luxury. The Prophet then touches now distinctly on this very thing:
"How comes it that ye are now so senseless, that there is not a
particle of right understanding among you? Even because ye are given
to excesses, because there is among you too large an abundance of
all good things: hence it is, that all indulge their own lusts; and
these take away your heart." In short, God means here that the
Israelites abused his blessings, and that excesses blinded them.
This is the meaning. Let us now go on -

Hosea 4:12
My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth
unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused [them] to err,
and they have gone a whoring from under their God.
    
    The Prophet calls here the Israelites the people of God, not to
honor them, but rather to increase their sin; for the more heinous
was the perfidy of the people, that having been chosen, they had
afterwards forsaken their heavenly Father. Hence "my people": there
is here an implied comparison between all other nations and the seed
of Abraham, whom God had adopted; "This is, forsooth! the people
whom I designed to be sacred to myself, whom of all nations in the
world I have taken to myself: they are my heritage. Now this people,
who ought to be mine, consult their own wood, and their staff
answers them!" We hence see that it was a grievous and severe
reprobation when the Lord reminded them of the invaluable kindness
with which he had favored the children of Abraham.
    So at this day our guilt will be more grievous, if we continue
not in the pure worship of God, since God has called us to himself
and designed us to be his peculiar flock. The same thing that the
Prophet brought against the Israelites may be also brought against
the Papists; for as soon as infants are born among them, the Lord
signs them with the sacred symbol of baptism; they are therefore in
some sense the people of God. We see, at the same time, how gross
and abominable are the superstitions which prevail among them: there
are none more stupid than they are. Even the Turks and the Saracenes
are wise when compared with them. How great, then, and how shameful
is this baseness, that the Papists, who boast themselves to be the
people of God, should go astray after their own mad follies!
    But the Prophet says the Israelites "consulted" their own wood,
or inquired of wood. He no doubt accuses them here of having
transferred the glory of the only true God to their own idols, or
fictitious gods. They consult, he says, their own wood, and the
"staff" answers them. He seems, in the second clauses to allude to
the blind: as when a blind man asks his staff, so he says the
Israelites asked counsel of their wood and staff. Some think that
superstitions then practiced are here pointed out. The augurs we
know used a staff; and it is probable that diviners in the East
employed also a staff, or some such thing, in performing their
incantations. Others explain these words allegorically, as though
wood was false religion, and staff the ungodly prophets. But I am
inclined to hold to simplicity. It then seems to me more probable,
that the Israelites, as I have already stated, are here condemned
for consulting wood or dead idols, instead of the only true God; and
that it was the same thing as if a blind man was to ask counsel of
his staff, though the staff be without any reason or sense. A staff
is indeed useful, but for a different purpose. And thus the Prophet
not only contemptuously, but also ironically, exposes to scorn the
folly of those who consult their gods of wood and stone; for to do
so will no more avail them than if one had a staff for his
counselor.
    He then subjoins, "for the spirit of fornication has deceived
them". Here again the Prophet aggravates their guilt, inasmuch as no
common blame was to be ascribed to the Israelites; for they were, he
says, wholly given to fornication "The spirit", then, "of
fornication deceived them": it was the same as if one inflamed with
lust ran headlong into evil; as we see to be the case with brutal
men when carried away by a blind and shameful passion; for then
every distinction between right and wrong disappears from their eyes
- no choice is made, no shame is felt. As then such heat of lust is
wont sometimes to seize men, that they distinguish nothing, so the
Prophet says with the view of shaming the people the more, that they
were like those given to fornication, who no longer exercise any
judgment, who are restrained by no shame. "The spirit", then, "of
fornication has deceived them": but as this similitude often meets
us, I shall not dwell upon it.
    "They have played the wanton", he says, "that they may not obey
the Lord". He does not say simply, 'from their God,' but 'from
under' "mitachat"; "they have then played the wanton, that they
might no more obey God", or continue under his government. We may
hence learn what is our spiritual chastity, even when God rules us
by his word, when we go not here and there and rashly follow our own
superstitions. When we abide then under the government of our God,
and with fixed eyes look on him, then we chastely preserve our
faithfulness to him. But when we follow idols, we then play the
wanton and depart from God. Let us now proceed -

Hosea 4:13,14
They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon
the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow
thereof [is] good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom,
and your spouses shall commit adultery.
I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your
spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with
whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people [that]
doth not understand shall fall.
    
    The Prophet shows here more clearly what was the fornication
for which he had before condemned the people, - that they worshipped
God under trees and on high places. This then is explanatory, for
the Prophet defines what he before understood by the word,
fornication; and this explanation was especially useful, nay,
necessary. For men, we know, will not easily give way, particularly
when they can adduce some color for their sins, as is the case with
the superstitious: when the Lord condemns their perverted and
vicious modes of worship, they instantly cry out, and boldly contend
and say, "What! is this to be counted fornication, when we worship
God?" For whatever they do from inconsiderate zeal is, they think,
free from every blame. So the Papists of this day fix it as a matter
beyond dispute that all their modes of worship are approved by God:
for though nothing is grounded on his word, yet good intention (as
they say) is to them more than a sufficient excuse. Hence they dare
proudly to clamour against God, whenever he condemns their
corruptions and abuses. Such presumption has doubtless prevailed
from the beginning.
    The Prophet, therefore, deemed it needful openly and distinctly
to show to the Israelites, that though they thought themselves to be
worshipping God with pious zeal and good intention, they were yet
committing fornication. "It is fornication," he says, "when ye
sacrifice under trees." "What! has it not ever been a commendable
service to offer sacrifices and to burn incense to God?" Such being
the design of the Israelites, what was the reason that God was so
angry with them? We may suppose them to have fallen into a mistake;
yet why did not God bear with this foolish intention, when it was
covered, as it has been stated, with honest and specious zeal? But
God here sharply reproves the Israelites, however much they
pretended a great zeal, and however much they covered their
superstitions with the false title of God's worship: "It is nothing
else," he says, "but fornication."
    "On tops of mountains", he says, "they sacrifice, and on hills
they burn incense, under the oak and the poplar and the teil-tree",
&c. It seemed apparently a laudable thing in the Israelites to build
altars in many places; for frequent attendance at the temples might
have stirred them up the more in God's worship. Such is the plea of
the Papists for filling their temples with pictures; they say, "We
are everywhere reminded of God wherever we turn our eyes; and this
is very profitable." So also it might have seemed to the Israelites
a pious work, to set up God's worship on hills and on tops of
mountains and under every tall tree. But God repudiated the whole;
he would not be in this manner worshipped: nay, we see that he was
grievously displeased. He says, that the faith pledged to him was
thus violated; he says, that the people basely committed
fornication. Though the Prophet's doctrine is at this day by no
means plausible in the world, so that hardly one in ten embraces it;
we shall yet contend in vain with the Spirit of God: nothing then is
better than to hear our judge; and he pronounces all fictitious
modes of worship, however much adorned by a specious guise, to be
adulteries and whoredoms.
    And we hence learn that good intention, with which the Papists
so much please themselves, is the mother of all wantonness and of
all filthiness. How so? Because it is a high offense against heaven
to depart from the word of the Lord: for God had commanded
sacrifices and incense to be nowhere offered to him but at
Jerusalem. The Israelites transgressed this command. But obedience
to God, as it is said in 1 Sam. 15, is of more value with him than
all sacrifices.
    The Prophet also distinctly excludes a device in which the
ungodly and hypocrites take great delight: "good:", he says, "was
its shade"; that is, they pleased themselves with such devices. So
Paul says that there is a show of wisdom in the inventions and
ordinances of men, (Col. 2: 23.) Hence, when men undertake voluntary
acts of worship, - which the Greeks call "etelotreskeias",
superstitions, being nothing else than will-worship, - when men
undertake this or that to do honor to God, there appears to them a
show of wisdom, but before God it is abomination only. At this
practice the Prophet evidently glances, when he says that the shade
of the poplar, or of the oak, or of teil-tree, was good; for the
ungodly and the hypocrites imagined their worship to be approved of
God, and that they surpassed the Jews, who worshipped God only in
one place: "Our land is full of altars, and memorials of God present
themselves everywhere." But when they thought that they had gained
the highest glory by their many altars, the Prophet says, that the
shade indeed was good, but that it only pleased wantons, who would
not acknowledge their baseness.
    He afterwards adds, "Therefore your daughters shall play the
wanton, and your daughters-in-law shall become adulteresses: I will
not visit your daughters and daughters-in-law". Some explain this
passage as though the Prophet said, "While the parents were absent,
their daughters and daughters-in-law played the wanton." The case is
the same at this day; for there is no greater liberty in
licentiousness than what prevails during vowed pilgrimages: for when
any one wishes to indulge freely in wantonness, she makes a vow to
undertake a pilgrimage: an adulterer is ready at hand who offers
himself a companion. And again, when the husband is so foolish as to
run here and there, he at the same time gives to his wife the
opportunity of being licentious. And we know further, that when many
women meet at unusual hours in churches, and have their private
masses, there are there hidden corners, where they perpetrate all
kinds of licentiousness. We know, indeed, that this is very common.
But the Prophet's meaning is another: for God here denounces the
punishment of which Paul speaks in the first chapter of the Romans,
when he says, 'As men have transferred the glory of God to dead
things, so God also gave them up to a reprobate mind,' that they
might discern nothing, and abandon themselves to every thing
shameful, and even prostitute their own bodies.
    Let us then know, that when just and due honor is not rendered
to God, this vengeance deservedly follows, that men become covered
with infamy. Why so? Because nothing is more equitable than that God
should vindicate his own glory, when men corrupt and adulterate it:
for why should then any honor remain to them? And why, on the
contrary, should not God sink them at once in some extreme baseness?
Let us then know, that this is a just punishment, when adulteries
prevail, and when vagrant lusts promiscuously follow.
    He then who worships not God, shall have at home an adulterous
wife, and filthy strumpets as his daughters, boldly playing the
wanton, and he shall have also adulterous daughters-in-law: not that
the Prophet speaks only of what would take place; but he shows that
such would be the vengeance that God would take: 'Your daughters
therefore shall play the wanton, and your daughters-in-law shall be
adulteresses;' and "I will not punish your daughters and your
daughters-in-law"; that is, "I will not correct them for their
scandalous conduct; for I wish them to be exposed to infamy." For
this truth must ever stand firm, 'Him who honors me, I will honor:
and him who despises my name, I will make contemptible and
ignominious,' (1 Sam. 2: 30.) God then declares that he will not
visit these crimes, because he designed in this way to punish the
ungodly, by whom his own worship had been corrupted.
    He says, "Because they with strumpets separate themselves".
Some explain this verb "parad" as meaning, "They divide husbands
from their wives:" but the Prophet, no doubt, means, that they
separated themselves from God, in the same manner as a wife does,
when she leaves her husband and gives herself up to an adulterer.
The Prophet then uses the word allegorically, or at least
metaphorically: and a reason is given, which they do not understand
who take this passage as referring literally to adulteries; and
their mistake is sufficiently proved to be so by the next clause,
'and with strumpets they sacrifice.' The separation then of which he
speaks is this, that they sacrificed with strumpets; which they
could not do without violating their faith pledged to God. We now
apprehend the Prophet's real meaning: 'I will not punish,' he says,
'wantonness and adulteries in your families.' Why? "Because I would
have you to be made infamous, for ye have first played the wanton."
    But there is a change of person; and this ought to be observed:
for he ought to have carried on his discourse throughout in the
second person, and to have said, "Because ye have separated with
strumpets, and accompany harlots;" this is the way in which he ought
to have spoken: but through excess, as it were, of indignation, he
makes a change in his address, 'They,' he says, 'have played the
wanton,' as though he deemed them unworthy of being spoken to. They
have then played the wanton with strumpets. By "strumpets", he
doubtless understands the corruptions by which God's worship had
been perverted, even through wantonness: "they sacrifice", he says,
"with strumpets", that is, they forsake the true God, and resort to
whatever pollutions they please; and this is to play the wanton, as
when a husband, leaving his wife, or when a wife, leaving her
husband, abandon themselves to filthy lust. But it is nothing
strange or unwonted for sins to be punished by other sins. What Paul
teaches ought especially to be borne in mind, that God, as the
avenger of his own glory, gives men up to a reprobate mind, and
suffers them to be covered with many most disgraceful things; for he
cannot bear with them, when they turn his glory to shame and his
truth to a lie.
    He afterwards adds, "And the people, not understanding, shall
stumble". They who take the verb "lavat as meaning, "to be
perverted," understand it here in the sense of being "perplexed:"
nor is this sense inappropriate. "The people then shall not
understand and be perplexed;" that is, They shall not know the right
way. But the word means also "to stumble," and still oftener "to
fall;" and since this is the more received sense, I am disposed to
embrace it: "The people" then, "not understanding, shall stumble".
    The Prophet here teaches, that the pretence of ignorance is of
no weight before God, though hypocrites are wont to flee to this at
last. When they find themselves without any excuse they run to this
asylum, - "But I thought that I was doing right; I am deceived: but
be it so, it is a pardonable mistake." The Prophet here declares
these excuses to be vain and fallacious; for the people, who
understand not, shall stumble and that deservedly: for how came this
ignorance to be in the people of Israel, but that they, as it has
been before said, willfully closed their eyes against the light?
When, therefore, men thus willfully determine to be blind, it is no
wonder that the Lord delivers them up to final destruction. But if
they now flatter themselves by pretending, as I have already said, a
mistake, the Lord will shake off this false confidence, and does now
shake it off by his word. What then ought we to do? To learn
knowledge from his word; for this is our wisdom and our
understanding, as Moses says, in the fourth chapter of Deuteronomy.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that inasmuch as we are so disposed and
inclined to all kinds of errors, to so many and so various forms of
superstitions, and as Satan also ceases not to lay in wait for us,
and spreads before us his many snares, - O grant, that we may be so
preserved in obedience to thee by the teaching of thy word, that we
may never turn here and there, either to the right hand or to the
left, but continue in that pure worship, which thou hast prescribed,
so that we may plainly testify that thou art indeed our Father by
continuing under the protection of thy only-begotten Son, whom thou
hast given to be our pastor and ruler to the end. Amen.

Lecture Twelfth.

Hosea 4:15
Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, [yet] let not Judah offend;
and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor
swear, The LORD liveth.
    
    The Prophet here complains that Judah also was infected with
superstitions, though the Lord had hitherto wonderfully kept them
from pollutions of this kind. He compares Israel with Judah, as
though he said, "It is no wonder that Israel plays the wanton; they
had for a long time shaken off the yoke; their defection is well
known: but it is not to be endured, that Judah also should begin to
fall away into the same abominations." We now then perceive the
object of the comparison. From the time that Jeroboam led after him
the ten tribes, the worship of God, we know, was corrupted; for the
Israelites were forbidden to ascend to Jerusalem, and to offer
sacrifices there to God according to the law. Altars were at the
same time built, which were nothing but perversions of divine
worship. This state of things had now continued for many years. The
Prophet therefore says, that Israel was like a filthy strumpet, void
of all shame; nor was this to be wondered at, for they had cast away
the fear of God: but that Judah also should forsake God's pure
worship as well as Israel, - this the Prophet deplores, "If then
thou Israel playest the wanton, let not Judah at least offend".
    We here see first, how difficult it is for those to continue
untouched without any stain, who come in contact with pollutions and
defilements. This is the case with any one that is living among
Papists; he can hardly keep himself entire for the Lord; for
vicinity, as we find, brings contagion. The Israelites were
separated from the Jews, and yet we see that the Jews were corrupted
by their diseases and vices. There is, indeed, nothing we are so
disposed to do as to forsake true religion; inasmuch as there is
naturally in us a perverse lust for mixing with it some false and
ungodly forms of worship; and every one in this respect is a teacher
to himself: what then is likely to take place, when Satan on the
other hand stimulates us? Let all then who are neighbors to
idolaters beware, lest they contract any of their pollutions.
    We further see, that the guilt of those who have been rightly
taught is not to be extenuated when they associate with the blind
and the unbelieving. Though the Israelites boasted of the name of
God, they were yet then alienated from pure doctrine, and had been
long sunk in the darkness of errors. There was no religion among
them; nay, they had hardly a single pure spark of divine light. The
Prophet now brings this charge against the Jews, that they differed
not from the Israelites, and yet God had to that time carried before
them the torch of light; for he suffered not sound doctrine to be
extinguished at Jerusalem, nor throughout the whole of Judea. The
Jews, by not profiting through this singular kindness of God, were
doubly guilty. This is the reason why the Prophet now says, "Though
Israel is become wanton, yet let not Judah offend".
    "Come ye not to Gilgal", he says, "and ascend not into Beth-
aven". Here again he points out the superstitions by which the
Israelites had vitiated the pure worship of God; they had built
altars for themselves in Bethel and Gilgal, where they pretended to
worship God.
    Gilgal, we know, was a celebrated place; for after passing
through Jordan, they built there a pillar as a memorial of that
miracle; and the people no doubt ever remembered so remarkable an
instance of divine favor: and the place itself retained among the
people its fame and honorable distinction. This in itself deserved
no blame: but as men commonly pervert by abuse every good thing, so
Jeroboam, or one of his successors, built a temple in Gilgal; for
the minds almost of all were already possessed with some reverence
for the place. Had there been no distinction belonging to the place,
he could not have so easily inveigled the minds of the people; but
as a notion already prevailed among them that the place was holy on
account of the miraculous passing over of the people, Jeroboam found
it easier to introduce there his perverted worship: for when one
imagines that the place itself pleases God, he is already captivated
by his own deceptions. The same also must be said of Bethel: its
name was given it, we know, by the holy father Jacob, because God
appeared there to him. 'Terrible,' he said, 'is this place; it is
the gate of heaven,' (Gen. 28: 17.) He hence called it Bethel, which
means the house of God. Since Jacob sacrificed there to God,
posterity thought this still allowable: for hypocrites weigh not
what God enjoins, but catch only at the Fathers' examples, and
follow as their rule whatever they hear to have been done by the
Fathers.
    As then foolish men are content with bare examples, and attend
not to what God requires, so the Prophet distinctly inveighs here
against both places, even Bethel and Gilgal. "Come not", he says,
"to Gilgal, and ascend not into Beth-aven". But we must observe the
change of name made by the Prophet; for he calls not the place by
its honorable name, Bethel, but calls it the house of iniquity. It
is indeed true that God revealed himself there to his servant Jacob;
but he intended not the place to be permanently fixed for himself,
he intended not that there should be a perpetual altar there: the
vision was only for a time. Had the people been confirmed in their
faith, whenever the name of the place was heard, it would have been
a commendable thing; but they departed from the true faith, for they
despised the sure command of God, and preferred what had been done
by an individual, and were indeed influenced by a foolish zeal. It
is no wonder then that the Prophet turns praise into blame, and
allows not the place to be, as formerly, the House of God, but the
house of iniquity. We now see the Prophet's real meaning.
    I return to the reproof he gives to the Jews: he condemns them
for leaving the legitimate altar and running to profane places, and
coveting those strange modes of worship which had been invented by
the will or fancy of men. "What have you to do," he says, "with
Gilgal or Bethel? Has not God appointed a sanctuary for you at
Jerusalem? Why do ye not worship there, where he himself invites
you?" We hence see that a comparison is to be understood here
between Gilgal and Bethel on the one hand, and the temple, built by
God's command on mount Zion, in Jerusalem, on the other. Moreover,
this reproof applies to many in our day. So to those who sagaciously
consider the state of things in our age, the Papists appear to be
like the Israelites; for their apostasy is notorious enough: there
is nothing sound among them; the whole of their religion is rotten;
every thing is depraved. But as the Lord has chosen us peculiarly to
himself, we must beware, lest they should draw us to themselves, and
entangle us: for, as we have said, we must ever fear contagion;
inasmuch as nothing is more easy than to become infected with their
vices, since our nature is to vices ever inclined.
    We are further reminded how foolish and frivolous is the excuse
of those who, being satisfied with the examples of the Fathers, pass
by the word of God, and think themselves released from every
command, when they follow the holy Fathers. Jacob was indeed, among
others, worthy of imitation; and yet we learn from this place, that
the pretence that his posterity made for worshipping God in Bethel
was of no avail. Let us then know that we cannot be certain of being
right, except when we obey the Lord's command, and attempt nothing
according to men's fancy, but follow only what he bids. It must also
be observed, that a fault is not extenuated when things, now
perverted, have proceeded-from a good and approved origin. As for
instance the Papists, when their superstitions are condemned, ever
set up this shield, "O! this has arisen from a good source." But
what sort of thing is it? If indeed we judge of it by what it is
now, we clearly see it to be an impious abomination, which they
excuse by the plea that it had a good and holy beginning.
    Thus in baptism we see how various and how many deprivations
they have mixed together. Baptism has indeed its origin in the
institution of Christ: but no permission has been given to men to
deface it by so many additions. The origin then of baptism affords
the Papists no excuse, but on the contrary renders double their sin;
for they have, by a profane audacity, contaminated what the Son of
God has appointed. But there is in their mass a much greater
abomination: for the mass, as we know, is in no respect the same
with the holy supper of our Lord. There are at least some things
remaining in baptism; but the mass is in nothing like Christ's holy
supper: and yet the Papists boast that the mass is the supper. Be it
so, that it had crept in, and that through the craft of Satan, and
also through the wickedness or depravity of men: but whatever may
have been its beginning, it does not wipe away the extreme infamy
that belongs to the mass: for, as it is well known, they abolish by
it the only true sacrifice of Christ; they ascribe to their own
devices the expiation which was made by the death of the Son of God.
And here we have not only to contend with the Papists, but also with
those wicked triflers, who proudly call themselves Nicodemians. For
these indeed deny that they come to the mass, because they have any
regard for the Papistic figment; but because they say that there is
set forth a commemoration of Christ's supper and of his death. Since
Bethel was formerly turned into Beth-aven, what else at this day is
the mass? Let us then ever take heed, that whatever the Lord has
instituted may remain in its own purity, and not degenerate;
otherwise we shall be guilty, as it has been said, of the impious
audacity of those who have changed the truth into a lie. We now
understand the design of what the Prophet teaches, and to what
purposes it may be applied.
    He at last subjoins, "And swear not, Jehovah liveth". The
Prophet seems here to condemn what in itself was right: for to swear
is to profess religion, and to testify our profession of it;
particularly when men swear honestly. But as this formula, which the
Prophet mentions, was faultless, why did God forbid to swear by his
name, and even in a holy manner? Because he would reign alone, and
could not bear to be connected with idols; for "what concord,' says
Paul, 'has Christ with Belial? How can light agree with darkness?'
(2 Cor. 6: 15:) so God would allow of no concord with idols. This is
expressed more fully by another Prophet, Zephaniah, when he says, 'I
will destroy those who swear by the living God, and swear by their
king,' (Zeph. 1: 5.) God indeed expressly commands the faithful to
swear by his name alone in Deut. 6 and in other places: and further,
when the true profession of religion is referred to, this formula is
laid down, 'They shall swear, The Lord liveth,' (Jer. 4: 2.) But
when men associated the name of God with their own perverted
devices, it was by no means to be endured. The Prophet then now
condemns this perfidy, Swear not, Jehovah liveth; as though he said,
"How dare these men take God's name, when they abandon themselves to
idols? for God allows his name only to his own people." The faithful
indeed take God's name in oaths as it were by his leave. Except the
Lord had granted this right, it would have certainly been a
sacrilege. But we borrow God's name by his permission: and it is
right to do so, when we keep faith with him, when we continue in his
service; but when we worship false gods, then we have nothing to do
with him, and he takes away the privilege which he has given us.
Then he says, 'Ye shall not henceforth blend the name of the only
true God with idols.' For this he cannot endure, as he declares also
in Ezek. 20, 'Go ye, serve your idols; I reject all your worship.'
The Lord was thus grievously offended, even when sacrifices were
offered to him. Why so? Because it was a kind of pollution, when the
Jews professed to worship him, and then went after their ungodly
superstitions. We now then perceive the meaning of this verse. It
follows -

Hosea 4:16
For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will
feed them as a lamb in a large place.
    
    The Prophet compares Israel here to an untamable heifer. Some
render it, "A straying heifer", and we may render it, "A wanton
heifer." But to others a defection seems to have been more
especially intended, because they had receded or departed from God:
but this comparison is not so apposite. They render it, "As a
backsliding," or "receding heifer:" but I prefer to view the word as
meaning, one that is petulant or lascivious: and the punishment
which is subjoined, "The Lord will now feed them as a tender lamb in
a spacious place", best agrees with this view, as we shall
immediately see.
    It must, in the first place, be understood, that Israel is
compared to a heifer, and indeed to one that is wanton, which cannot
remain quiet in the stall nor be accustomed to the yoke: it is hence
subjoined, "The Lord will now feed them as a lamb in a spacious
place". The meaning of this clause may be twofold; the first is,
that the Lord would leave them in their luxuries to gorge themselves
according to their lust, and to indulge themselves in their
gormandizing; and it is a dreadful punishment, when the Lord allays
not the intemperateness of men, but suffers them to wanton without
any limits or moderation. Hence some give this meaning to the
passage, "God will now feed them as a lamb", that is, like a sheep
void of understanding, and in a large place, even in a most fruitful
field, capable of supplying food to satiety. But it seems to me that
the Prophet meant another thing, even this, that the Lord would so
scatter Israel, that they might be as a lamb in a spacious place. It
is what is peculiar to sheep, we know, that they continue under the
shepherd's care: and a sheep, when driven into solitude, shows
itself, by its bleating, to be timid, and to be as it were seeking
its shepherd and its flock. In short, a sheep is not a solitary
animal; and it is almost a part of their food to sheep and lambs to
feed together, and also under the eye of him under whose care they
are. Now there seems to be here a most striking change of figure:
"They are", says the Prophet, "like unnamable heifers", for they are
so wanton that no field can satisfy their wantonness, as when a
heifer would occupy the whole land. "Such then," he says, "and so
outrageous is the disobedience of this people, that they can no
longer endure, except a spacious place be given to each of them. I
will therefore give them a spacious place: but for this end, that
each of them may be like a lamb, who looks around and sees no flock
to which it may join itself."
    This happened when the land was stripped of its inhabitants;
for then a small number only dwelt in it. Four tribes, as stated
before, were first drawn away; and then they began to be like lambs
in a spacious place; for God terrified them with the dread of
enemies. The remaining part of the people was afterwards either
dispersed or led into exile. They were, when in exile, like lambs,
and those in a wide place. For though they lived in cottages, and
their condition was in every way confined, yet they were in a place
like the desert; for one hardly dared look on another, and waste and
solitude met their eyes wherever they turned them. We see then what
the Prophet meant by saying, They are like an untamable or a wanton
heifer: "I will tame them, and make them like lambs; and when
scattered, they will fear as in a wilderness, for there will be no
flock to which they can come." Let us proceed -

Hosea 4:17
Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.
    
    As if wearied, God here bids his Prophet to rest; as though he
said, "Since I prevail nothing with this people, they must be given
up; cease from thy work." God had set Hosea over the Israelites for
this end, to lead them to repentance, if they could by any means be
reformed: the duty of the Prophet, enjoined by God, was, to bring
back miserable and straying men from their error, and to restore
them again to the obedience of pure faith. He now saw that the
Prophet's labour was in vain, without any success. Hence he was, as
I have said, wearied, and bids the Prophet to desist: Leave them, he
says; that is, "There is no use for thee to weary thyself any more;
I dismiss thee from thy labour, and will not have thee to take any
more trouble; for they are wholly incurable." For by saying that
they had joined themselves to idols, he means, that they could not
be drawn from that perverseness in which they had grown hardened; as
though he said, "This is an alliance that cannot be broken." And he
alludes to the marriage which he had before mentioned: for the
Israelites, we know, had been joined to God, for he had adopted them
to be a holy people to himself; they afterwards adopted impious
forms of worship. But yet there was a hope of recovery, until they
became wholly attached to their idols, and clave so fast to them,
that they could not be drawn away. This alliance the Prophet points
out when he says, "They are joined to idols".
    But he mentions the tribe of Ephraim, for the kings, (I mean,
of Israel,) we know, sprang from that tribe; and at the same time he
reproaches that tribe for having abused God's blessing. We know that
Ephraim was blessed by holy Jacob in preference to his elder
brother; and yet there was no reason why Jacob put aside the
first-born and preferred the younger, except that God in this case
manifested his own good pleasure. The ingratitude of Ephraim was
therefore less excusable, when he not only fell away from the pure
worship of God, but polluted also the whole land; for it was
Jeroboam who introduced ungodly superstitions; he therefore was the
source of all the evil. This is the reason why the Prophet now
expressly mentions Ephraim: though it is a form of speaking,
commonly used by all the Prophets, to designate Israel, by taking a
part for the whole, by the name of Ephraim.
    But this passage is worthy of being noticed, that we may attend
to God's reproofs, and not remain torpid when he rouses us; for we
ought ever to fear, lest he should suddenly reject us, when he is
wearied with our perverseness, or when he conceives such a
displeasure as not to deign to speak to us any more. It follows -

Hosea 4:18
Their drink is sour: they have committed whoredom continually: her
rulers [with] shame do love, Give ye.
    
    The Prophet, using a metaphor, says here first, that their
drink had become putrid; which means, that they had so intemperately
given themselves up to every kind of wickedness, that all things
among them had become fetid. And the Prophet alludes to shameful and
beastly excess: for the drunken are so addicted to wine, that they
emit a disgusting smell, and are never satisfied with drinking,
until by spewing, they throw up the excessive draughts they have
taken. The Prophet then had this in view. He speaks not, however, of
the drinking of wine, this is certain: but by drunkenness, on the
contrary, he means that unbridled licentiousness, which then
prevailed among the people. Since then they allowed themselves every
thing they pleased without shame, they seemed like drunken men,
insatiable, who, when wholly given to wine, think it their highest
delight ever to have wine on the palate, or to fill copiously the
throat, or to glut their stomach: when drunken men do these things,
then they send forth the offensive smell of wine. This then is what
the Prophet means, when he says, "Putrid has become their drink";
that is, the people observe no moderation in sinning; they offend
not God now, in the common and usual manner, but are wholly like
beastly men, who are nothing ashamed, constantly to belch and to
spew, so that they offend by their fetid smell all who meet them.
Such are this people.
    He afterwards adds, "By wantoning they have become wanton".
This is another comparison. The Prophet, we know, has hitherto been
speaking of wantonness in a metaphorical sense, signifying thereby,
that Israel perfidiously abandoned themselves to idols, and thus
violated their faith pledged to the true God. He now follows the
same metaphor here, 'By wantoning they have become wanton.' Hence he
reproaches and represents them as infamous on two accounts, -
because they cast aside every shame, like the drunken who are so
delighted with wine, that through excess they send forth its
offensive smell, - and because they were like wantons.
    At last he says, "Her princes have shamefully loved, Bring ye".
Here, in a peculiar way, the Prophet shows that the great sinned
with extreme licentiousness; for they were given to bribery: and the
eyes of the wise, we know, are blinded, and the hearts of the just
are perverted, by gifts. But the Prophet designedly made this
addition, that we might know that there were then none among the
people who attempted to apply a remedy to the many prevailing vices;
for even the rulers coveted gain; no one remembered for what purpose
he had been called. Hence it happened that every one indulged
himself with impunity in whatever pleased him. How so? Because there
were no censors of public morals. Here we see in what a wretched
state the people are, when there are none to exercise discipline,
when even the judges gape for gain, and care for nothing but for
gifts and riches; for then what the Prophet describes here as to the
people of Israel must happen. "Her princes, then, have loved, Bring
ye".
    Respecting the word "kalon" we must shortly say, that Hosea
does not simply allude to any kinds of gifts, but to such gifts as
proved that there was a public sale of justice; as though he said,
"Now the judges, when they say, Bring ye, when they love, Bring ye,
make no distinction whatever between right and wrong, and think all
this lawful; for the people are become insensible to such a
disgraceful conduct: hence they basely and shamefully seek gain."
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that since thou hast at this time deigned in
thy mercy to gather us to thy Church, and to enclose us within the
boundaries of thy word, by which thou preserves us in the true and
right worship of thy majesty, - O grant, that we may continue
contented in this obedience to thee: and though Satan may, in many
ways, attempt to draw us here and there, and we be also ourselves,
by nature, inclined to evil, O grant, that being confirmed in faith,
and united to thee by that sacred bond, we may yet constantly abide
under the guidance of thy word, and thus cleave to Christ thy
only-begotten Son, who has joined us for ever to himself, that we
may never by any means turn aside from thee, but be, on the
contrary, confirmed in the faith of his gospel, until at length he
will receive us all into his kingdom. Amen.
    
Lecture Thirteenth.

Hosea 4:19
The wind hath bound her up in her wings, and they shall be ashamed
because of their sacrifices.
    
    If this rendering be approved, "The wind hath bound her in its
wings", the meaning is, that a sudden storm would sweep away the
people, and thus would they be made ashamed of their sacrifices. So
the past tense is to be taken for the future. We may indeed read the
words in the past tense, as though the Prophet was speaking of what
had already taken place. The wind, then, has already swept away the
people; by which he intimates, that they seemed to have struck long
and deep roots in their superstitions, but that the Lord had already
given them up to the wind, that it might hold them tied in its
wings. And wings, we know, is elsewhere ascribed to the wind, Ps.
104: 3. And thus the verse will be throughout a denunciation of
vengeance.
    The other similitude or metaphor is the most appropriate, and
harmonizes better with the subject; for were not men to support
their minds with vain confidence, they could never with so much
audacity despise God's word. Hence they are said to tie the wind in
their wings; being unmindful of their own condition, they attempt as
by means of the wind to fly; but when they proudly raise up
themselves, they have no support but the wind. Let us now proceed -


Chapter 5.

Hosea 5:1
Hear ye this, O priests; and hearken, ye house of Israel; and give
ye ear, O house of the king; for judgment [is] toward you, because
ye have been a snare on Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor.
    
    The Prophet here again preaches against the whole people: but
he mainly directs his discourse to the priests and the rulers; for
they were the source of the prevailing evils: the priests, intent on
gain, neglected the worship of God; and the chief men, as we have
seen, were become in every way corrupt. Hence the Prophet here
especially inveighs against these orders, and at the same time,
records some vices which then prevailed among the people, and that
through the fault of the priests and rulers. But before I pursue
farther the subject of the Prophets something must be said of the
words.
    When he says, "To you is judgment", some explain it, "It is
your duty to do judgment," to maintain government, that every one
may discharge his own office; for judgment is taken for rectitude;
the word "mishpat" means a right order of things. Hence they think
that the priests and rulers are here condemned for discharging so
badly their office, because they had no care for what was right. But
this sense is too strained. The Prophet, therefore, I doubt not,
summons here the priests and the king's counselors to God's
tribunal, that they might give an answer there; for the contempt of
God, we know, prevailed among the great; they were secure, as though
exempt from judgment, as though released from laws and all order.
"To you", then "is judgment"; that is, God addresses you by name,
and declares that he will be your avenger, though ye heedlessly
despise his judgment.
    Some again take "Mitspah" for a beacon, and thus translate, "Ye
have been a snare instead of a beacon." But this mistake is refuted
by the second clause, for the Prophet adds immediately, "a net
expanded over Tabor": and it is well known that Mizpah and Tabor
were high mountains, and for their height celebrated and renowned;
we also know that hunting was common on these mountains. The
Prophet, then, no doubt means here, that both the priests and the
king's counselors were like snares and nets: "As fowlers and hunters
were wont to spread their nets and snares on mount Mizpah and on
Tabor; so the people also have been ensnared by you." This is the
plain meaning of the words. Some conjecture, that robbers were there
located by the kings of Israel to intercept the Israelites, when
they found any ascending into Jerusalem, as we now see everywhere
persons lying in wait, that no one from the Papacy may come over to
us. But this conjecture is too far fetched. I have already explained
the Prophet's meaning: he makes use, as we have said, of a
similitude.
    Let us now return to what he teaches: "Hear this", he says, "ye
Priests, and attend, ye house of Israel, and give ear, ye house of
the king". The Prophet, indeed, includes the whole people in the
second clause, but turns his discourse expressly to the priests and
the king's counselors; which ought to be specially noticed; for it
is indeed, as we shall hereafter see, the general subject of this
chapter. He did not without reason attack the princes, because the
main fault was in them; nor the priests, because they were dumb
dogs, and had also led away the people from God's pure worship into
false superstitions; and so great was their avidity for filthy lucre
that they perverted the law and every thing that was before pure
among the people. It is no wonder then that the Prophet, while
treating a general subject, suitable to all orders indiscriminately,
should yet denounce judgment on the priests and the king's
counselors. With regard to these counselors, they, in order to
confirm the kingdom, had also approved of false and spurious forms
of worship, as it has been before stated; and they had also followed
other vices; for the Prophet, I doubt not, condemns here other
corruptions besides superstitions, and those which we know
everywhere prevailed among the people, and of which something has
been already said.
    And to show his earnestness, he uses three sentences: "Ye
priests, hear this"; then, "house of Israel, attend"; and in the
third place, "house of the king, give ear"; as though he said, "In
vain do they seek subterfuges, for the Lord will execute on them the
judgment he now declares:" and yet he gives them opportunity and
time for repentance, inasmuch as he bids them to attend to this
denunciation.
    Now this passage teaches, that even kings are not exempted from
the duty of learning what is commonly taught, if they wish to be
counted members of the Church; for the Lord would have all, without
exception, to be ruled by his word; and he takes this as a proof of
men's obedience, their submission to his word. And as kings think
themselves separated from the general class of men, the Prophet here
shows that he was sent to the king and his counselors. The same
reason holds good as to priests; for as the dignity of their order
is the highest, so this impiety has prevailed in all ages, that the
priests think themselves at liberty to do what they please. The
Prophet therefore shows, that they are not raised up so much on
high, but that the Lord shines eminently above their heads with his
word. Let us know, lastly, that in the Church the word of God so
possesses the highest rank, that neither priests, nor kings, nor
their counselors, can claim a privilege to themselves, as though
their conduct was not to be subject to God's word.
    This then is a remarkable passage for establishing the word of
God: and thus we see how abominable is the boast of the Papal clergy
of this day; for they spread before us the mask of the priesthood,
when the word of God is brought forward, as though they would
outshine by the splendor of their dignity the whole Law, all the
Prophets, and the very Gospel. But the Lord here upholds his word
against all degrees of men, and shows that both kings and priests
must be brought down from their eminence, that they may obey the
word. Yea, we must bear in mind what I have before said, that though
the whole people had sinned, yet kings and priests are here in a
special manner reproved, because they deserved a heavier punishment,
inasmuch as by their depraved examples they had corrupted the whole
people.
    When he compares them to snares and nets, I do not then confine
this to one thing; but as the contagion among the whole people had
proceeded from the priests and the king's counselors, and also from
the king himself, the Prophet compares them, not without reason, to
snares; not only because they were the authors of superstitions, but
also because they perverted judgment and all equity. Let us go on -

Hosea 5:2
And the revolters are profound to make slaughter, though I [have
been] a rebuker of them all.

    The verb "shachat" means, to kill, to sacrifice; and this place
is usually explained of sacrifices; and this opinion I do not
reject. But though the Prophet spake of sacrifices, he no doubt
called sacrificing, in contempt, killing: as though one should call
the temple, the shambles, and the killing of victims, slaughtering,
so also the Prophet says, "In sacrificing and killing, they, having
turned aside, have become deeply fixed"; that is, By turning aside
to their own sacrificing, they have completely hardened their
hearts, so that their depravity is incurable. For by saying that
they had gone deep, the meaning is, that they were so addicted to
their own superstitions, that they could not be restored to a sound
mind, however often admonished by the Prophets. Yet this verb has
another meaning in Scripture, even this, that men flatter themselves
with their own counsels, and think that by twining together reasons
of their own, they can deceive God: and this metaphor the Prophets
employ with regard to profane despisers of God, whom they call
"letsim", mockers: for these, while they deceive men, think that
they have nothing to do with God. The same we see at this day:
courtiers and proud men of the same character, flatter themselves
with their own deceptions, and complacently laugh at our simplicity;
because they think that wisdom was born with them, and that it is
enclosed as it were within their brains. But I know not whether this
idea is suitable to this passage. That simpler meaning which I have
already stated, I prefer, and that is, that the Israelites were so
obstinate in their superstitions, that they perversely despised all
counsels, all admonitions, yea, that they petulantly resisted every
instruction.
    But each word must be noticed: "turning aside in sacrificing",
he says, "they became deep". By saying, that they had turned aside
in sacrificing, he no doubt makes a distinction between false and
strange forms of worship and the true worship of God, prescribed in
the law. The frequency of sacrificing could not indeed have been
condemned in itself either as to the Israelites or the Jews; but
they turned aside, that is, departed from what the law prescribes.
Hence the more zealously they engaged in sacrificing, and the more
victims they offered to God, the more they provoked God's vengeance
against themselves. We then see that the Prophet points out here as
by the finger the sin he reproved in the people of Israel, and that
was, - they sacrificed not according to God's command and according
to the ritual of the law, but turned aside and followed their own
devices. Hence it is, that in contempt and in scorn he calls their
sacrificing, killing, or cutting the throat: "they are," he says
"executioners," or, "they are butchers. What is it to me, that they
bring their victims with great pomp and show? That they use so many
ceremonies? I repudiate," the Lord says, "the whole of this; it is
profane butchering; these slaughterings have nothing in common with
the worship which I approve."
    That our sacrifices then may please God, they must be according
to the rule of his word; for 'obedience,' as it has been said
already, 'is better than all sacrifices,' (1 Sam. 15: 22.) But when
men retake themselves to false forms of worship or such as are
invented, nothing then is holy or acceptable to God, but an
abominable filth. And further, the Prophet, as I have said, not only
accuses the people of having turned aside to perverted forms of
worship, but also of having become obstinately fixed in them. They
have become deep, he says, in their superstitions: as he said
before, that they were fast joined to their idols, that they could
not be torn away from them; so also he says now, that they were
deeply rooted in their iniquity.
    It follows, "And I" have been, or will be, "a correction to
them all". Some think that the Prophet in the person of God
threatens the Israelites, that God declares that he himself would
become the avenger, because the people had so stubbornly followed
wicked superstitions, - "I sit as a judge in heaven, nor will I
suffer you to fall away with impunity, since you are become so
hardened in your wickedness." But they are more correct who think
that their sin was more increased by this circumstance, that God by
his Prophets had not ceased to recall the Israelites to a sound
mind, since they might not have been wholly irreclaimable: I have
been to them a correction; that is, "They cannot excuse themselves
and say, that they had fallen through error and ignorance; for there
has been in them a wilful obstinacy, as I have not ceased to show
them the right way by my Prophets. I have, then, been a correction
to them; but I could not bend them, so indomitable has been that
stubbornness, or rather madness, with which they were inflamed
towards their idols." It is now seen which of the two views I deem
the most correct.
    But I will adduce a third: God may be thought to be here
complaining that he had been an object of dislike to the Israelites,
as though he said, "When I sent my Prophets, they could not bear to
be admonished, because my word was too bitter for them." Reproofs
are not easily endured by men. We indeed know, that those who are
ill at ease with themselves, are yet not willing to hear any
reproof: every one who deceives himself, wishes to be deceived by
others. As then the ears of men are so tender and delicate, that
they will patiently receive no reproof, this meaning seems not
inappropriate, "I have been to them all a correction", that is, "My
doctrine has been by them rejected because it had in it too much
asperity." But the other explanation, which I have mentioned as the
second, has been more approved: I was, however, unwilling to omit
what seems to me to be no less suitable.
    We may now choose or receive either of these two expositions, -
either that the Lord here takes away from the Israelites the excuse
of error, because he had continued to reprove their vices by his
Prophets, - or that he expostulates with the Israelites for having
rejected his word on the ground that it was too rigid and severe:
yet this main thing will still remain the same, that the people of
Israel were not only apostates, having fallen away from the lawful
worship of God into their own superstitions but were also
contumacious and refractory in their wickedness, so that they would
receive no instruction, no salutary counsels. Let us proceed -

Hosea 5:3
I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me: for now, O Ephraim,
thou committest whoredom, [and] Israel is defiled.
    
    God shows here that he is not pacified by the vain excuses
which hypocrites allege, and by which they think that the judgment
of God himself can be turned away. We see what great dullness there
is in many, when God reproves them, and brings to light their vices;
for they defend themselves with vain and frivolous excuses, and
think that they thus put a restraint on God, so that he dares not
urge them any more. In this way hypocrites elude every truth. But
God here testifies, that men are greatly deceived when they thus
judge, by their own perception, of that celestial tribunal to which
they are summoned; "I", he says, "know Ephraim, and Israel is not
hid from me". There is to be understood an implied contrast, as
though he said, that they were ignorant of themselves; for they
covered their vices, as I have said, with frivolous excuses. God
testifies that his eyes were not dazzled with such fine pretenses.
"How much soever, then, Ephraim and Israel may excuse themselves,
they shall not escape my judgment: vain and absurd are these shifts
which they use; I indeed am not ignorant."
    Let us then learn not to belie, by our own notions, the
judgment of God; and when he reproves us by his word, let us not
delude ourselves by our own fancies; for they who harden themselves
in such a state of security gain nothing. God sees more keenly than
men. Let use then, beware of spreading a veil over our sins, for
God's eyes penetrate through all such excuses.
    That he names Ephraim particularly, was not done, we know,
without reason. From that tribe sprang the first Jeroboam: it was
therefore by way of honor that the name of Ephraim was given to the
ten tribes. But the Prophet names Ephraim here, who thought
themselves superior to the other tribes, by way of reproach: I know
them, and Israel is not hid from me. He afterwards expresses what he
knew of the people, which was, that Ephraim was wanton, and that
Israel was polluted; as though he said "Contend as you please; but
you will do so without profit: I have indeed my ears stunned by your
lies; but after you have adduced everything, after you have
sedulously pleaded your own cause, and have omitted nothing which
may serve for an excuse, the fact still will be, that you are
wantons and polluted." In short, the Prophet confirms in this second
clause what I have before stated, that men, when they flatter
themselves, deceive themselves; for God in the meantime condemns
them, and allows no disguise of this kind. Israel and Ephraim
gloried, then, in their superstitions, as though they held God bound
to them: "This is wantonness," he says, "This is pollution." The
Prophet indeed does here cut off the handle from all those
self-deceptions which men use as reasons, when they defend
fictitious forms of worship; for God from on high proclaims, that
all are polluted who turn aside from his word.

Hosea 5:4
They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the
spirit of whoredoms [is] in the midst of them, and they have not
known the LORD.

    Some translate thus, "their inclinations allow them not to turn
themselves;" and this meaning is probable, that is, that they were
so much given to their own superstitions, that they were not now
free, or at liberty, to return to the right way; as though the
Prophet said, "They are entirely enslaved by their own diabolical
inventions, that their inclinations will not allow them to repent."
But the former meaning (it is also more generally approved) seems
more adapted to the context. "They will not apply", he says, "their
endeavors to turn to their God". Here God declares that it was all
over with the people, and that no hope whatever remained: as he said
before, "Leave them, why shouldest thou do anything more? for they
will not receive wholesome instruction; as they are entirely given
up to destruction, there is now no reason for thee to be solicitous
about their salvation, for that would be useless;" - so also he says
in this place, They will not apply their endeavors to turn to their
God
    If the Prophet speaks here in his own person, the meaning is,
"Why do I weary myself? God has indeed commanded me to reprove this
people; but I find that my labour is in vain; for I have to do with
brute animals, or with stones rather than with men; there is in them
no reason, no discernment; for the devil has fascinated their minds:
never, then, will they apply their endeavors to turn to their God."
If we prefer to view the sentence as spoken in the person of God,
still the doctrine will remain nearly the same: God here declares
that the people were incurable. "Never", then, "will they apply
their endeavors". How so? For they are sunk, as it were, into a deep
gulf, and their obstinacy is like the abyss. Inasmuch, then, as they
are thus fixed in their superstitions, they will never apply their
endeavors to turn to their God
    But God in the meantime not only shows here, that there was no
more any remedy for the diseases of the people; but he also gravely
and severely reprobates their iniquity, because they thought not of
seeking reconciliation with their God; as though he said, "What,
then, do I require of these wretched men, but to return to their
God? This they ought to have done of their own accord; but now, when
they are admonished, they care not; on the contrary, they fiercely
resist wholesome instruction. Is not this a strange and monstrous
madness?" We hence see that there is an important meaning in the
words, "They will not apply their endeavors to return to their God";
for the Prophet might have simply said, "to return to Jehovah," or
"to God;" but he says, "to their God", and he says so, because God
had made himself familiarly known to them, nay, brought them up in
his own bosom, as though they were his children and he their Father:
they had forsaken him and had become apostates; and when the Lord
would now reprove this perfidy, was it not strange that the people
should close their ears and harden their hearts against every
instruction? We hence see how sharp this reproof is.
    And he says, "Because the spirit of wantonness is in the midst
of them"; that is, they are so pleased with their own filthiness,
that there is no shame, no fear. But the reason of this comparison,
which I have before explained, must be borne in mind. As a wife,
though not faithful to her husband, yet retains still some modesty,
as long as she continues at home, and while she is in any place
classed with faithful and chaste women; but when she once enters a
brothel, and openly prostitutes herself to all, when she knows that
her baseness is universally known, she then throws off every shame,
and entirely forgets her own character: so also the Prophet says,
that the spirit of wantonness was in the midst of the people of
Israel; as though he said, "The Israelites are so imbrued with their
superstitions, that they cannot now be touched or moved by any
reverence for God; they cannot be restored to the right way, for the
devil has demented them, and having cast off every shame, they are
like abominable strumpets."
    And he afterwards adds, "Jehovah they have not known". By this
sentence the Prophet extenuates not the sin of the people, but, on
the contrary, amplifies their ingratitude, because they had
forgotten their God, who had so indulgently treated them. As they
had been redeemed by God's hand, as the teaching of the law had
continued among them, as they had been preserved to that day through
God's constant kindness, it was truly an evidence of monstrous
ignorance, that they could in an instant adopt ungodly forms of
worship, and embrace those corruptions which they knew were
condemned in the law. It was surely an inexcusable wickedness in the
people thus to withdraw themselves from their God. This is the
reason why the Prophet now says, that "they knew not Jehovah". But
if they were asked the cause, they could not have said that they had
no light; for God had made known to them the way of salvation.
Hence, that they knew not Jehovah, was to be imputed to their
perverseness; for, closing their eyes, they knowingly and willfully
ran headlong after those wicked devices, which they knew, as it had
been stated before, to be condemned by God.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that since thou continues daily to exhort us,
and though thou sees us often turning aside from the right course,
thou yet ceases not to stretch forth thy hand to us, and also to
rouse us by reproofs, that we may repent, - O grant, that we may not
be permitted to reject thy word with such perverseness as thou
condemnest here in thine ancient people by the mouth of thy Prophet;
but rule us by thy Spirit, that we may meekly and obediently submit
to thee, and with such teachableness, that if we have not hitherto
been willing to become wise, we may not at least be incurable, but
suffer thee to heal our diseases, so that we may truly repent, and
be so wholly given to obey thee, as never to attempt any thing
beyond the rule of thy word, and without that wisdom which thou hast
revealed to us, not only by Moses and thy Prophets, but also by thy
only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Lecture Fourteenth.

Hosea 5:5
And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore shall
Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity; Judah also shall fall
with them.
    
    The Prophet having condemned the Israelites on two accounts -
for having departed from the true God - and for having obstinately
refused every instruction, now adds, that God's vengeance was nigh
at hand. "Testify then shall the pride of Israel in his face"; that
is, Israel shall find what it is thus to resist God and his
Prophets. The Prophet no doubt applies the word, pride, to their
contempt of instruction, because they were so swollen with vain
confidence, as to think that wrong was done them whenever the
Prophets reproved them. It must at the same time be observed, that
they were thus refractory, because they were like persons inebriated
with their own pleasures; for we know that while men enjoy
prosperity, they are more insolent, according to that old proverb,
"Satiety begets ferocity."
    Some think that the verb "'anah" means here "to be humbled;"
and this sense is not unsuitable: "The pride of Israel shall then be
humbled before his face." But another exposition has been most
approved; I am therefore inclined to embrace it, and that is, that
God needed no other witness to convict Israel than their own pride;
and we know that when any one becomes hardened, he thinks that there
is to be no judgment, and has no thought of rendering an account to
God, for his pride takes away every fear. For this reason the
Prophet says, "God will convict you, because ye have been hitherto
so proud, that he could effect nothing by his warnings."
    But he adds, "Israel and Ephraim shall fall in their iniquity".
He pursues the same subject, which is, that they in vain promised
impunity to themselves, for the Lord had now resolved to punish
them. He adds, "Judah also shall fall with them." The Prophet may
seem to contradict himself; for when he before threatened the people
of Israel, he spoke of the safety of Judah, - 'Judah shall be saved
by his God, not by the sword, nor by the bow.' Since then the
Prophet had before distinguished or made a difference between the
ten tribes and the kingdom of Judah, how is it that he now puts them
all together without any distinction? To this I answer, that the
Prophet speaks here not of those Jews who continued in true and pure
religion, but of those who had with the Israelites alienated
themselves from the only true God, and joined in their
superstitions. He then refers here to the degenerate and not to the
faithful Jews; for to all who worshipped God aright, salvation had
been already promised. But as many as had abandoned themselves to
the common superstitions, he declares that a common punishment was
nigh them all. "The Jews then shall fall together", that is, "As
many of the Jews as have followed impious forms of worship and other
deprivations, shall not escape God's judgment." We now then perceive
the true meaning of the Prophet. It now follows -

Hosea 5:6
They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the
LORD; but they shall not find [him]; he hath withdrawn himself from
them.
    
    The Prophet here laughs to scorn the hypocrisy of the people,
because they thought they had ready at hand a way of dealing with
God, which was, to pacify him with their sacrifices. He therefore
shows that neither the Israelites nor the Jews would gain any thing
by accumulating burnt-offerings, for they could not in this way
return into favor with God. He thereby intimates that God requires
true repentance, and that he will not be reconciled to men, except
from the heart they seek him and consecrate themselves to his
service; and not because they offer brute beasts. The faithful, no
doubt, expiated their sins at that time by sacrifices, but only
typically: for they knew for what end and purpose God had made the
law concerning sacrifices, and that was, that the sinner, being
reminded by the sight of the victim, might confess himself to be
worthy of eternal death, and thus flee to God's mercy and look to
Christ and his sacrifice; for in him, and nowhere else, is to be
found true and effectual expiation. For this end then had God
instituted sacrifices: so the faithful, while offering sacrifices,
did not suppose any satisfaction to be done by the external work,
nor even imagined it to be the price of redemption; but they
exercised themselves in these rites in faith and repentance.
    The Prophet now, by implication, sets oxen, and rams, and
lambs, in opposition to spiritual sacrifices; for a contrast is to
be understood in the words, "They shall come with their sheep", &c.
What bring they to God's presence? They bring, he says, only their
rams, they bring oxen; but God commands what is far different: he
commands men to consecrate themselves to him, and that in a
spiritual manner, and as to external rites, to refer them to Christ,
and to the true expiation, which was yet hid in hope. Since then the
Israelites brought only their oxen and lambs to God, they in vain
expected him to be propitious to them; for he is not pacified by
such trifles; inasmuch as every one who separates the outward
sacrifice from its design, brings nothing but what is profane.
Indeed, the true and lawful consecration is by the word; and by the
word we are guided to faith in Christ, we are guided to repentance:
when these are neglected and disregarded, and men securely trust in
their sacrifices, they do nothing but mock God. We hence see that
the Prophet exposes not here without reason this folly of the
Israelites, that they sought God with their flocks and their herds.
    And he says, "They shall come", or shall go, "to seek God". By
this sentence he intimates that hypocrites sedulously labour to
reconcile God to themselves; and we even see with what zeal they
weary themselves; and of this there is a remarkable instance at this
day in the Papists; for they spare no diligence, when they seek to
pacify God. But the Prophet says that this labour is vain and
foolish. "Let them go," he says, that is, "Let them weary
themselves; but they shall do so without profit, for they shall not
find God." But when he says, that they would come to seek Jehovah,
he is not to be understood as saying, that they would really do so;
for hypocrites turn aside from God by circuitous courses and
windings, rather than seek access to him. But yet they propose it as
their final intention, as they speak, to seek God: they do not
indeed come afterwards to him; nay, they dread his face, and shun it
as much as they can; and yet when one asks them what they intend by
sacrificing and by performing other rites, the answer is ready on
their lips, "We worship God," that is, "We desire to worship him."
Since then hypocrites are wont to boast of this, the Prophet speaks
by way of concession, and says, "They shall come to seek God, but
shall not find him".
    The Papists of this day pursue a similar course, when they go
round their altars, when they gad away to perform vowed pilgrimages,
when they whisper their prayers, when they hear and buy masses; for
to what purpose are all these things, but by interposing these veils
to escape God's judgment? They know themselves to be exposed to his
judgment; their conscience forces them to pacify God: but what do
they in the meantime? "I will find out a way in which God will not
pursue me: let this then be the price of redemption, let this be a
compensation." In a word, we see that the Papists mock God with
their ceremonies, that they have nothing else in view but to seek
hiding-places: and hence the Lord by his Prophet complains, that his
temple was like a den of robbers, (Jer. 7: 11:) for men securely
sin, when they publicly offer such expiations. Nay, the Papists,
when they mutter their prayers, say that the final intention is
pleasing to God, though they may wander in their thoughts: for if,
when they begin to pray, it should come to their minds, that God is
prayed to, though they may not attend to their prayers, though they
may pollute themselves with many depraved lusts yet, if with the
mouth they utter prayers, they maintain that the final intention
pleases God. -  Why? Because their design is to seek God. This is,
indeed, extremely sottish and puerile: but, as I have already said,
the Prophet does not press this point, but concedes to the
Israelites what they pretended, "Ye seek God; but yet ye run not in
the right way; and these circuitous courses will not lead you to
God." How so? "For ye recede farther from him." So Isaiah says, 'She
will greatly weary herself in her ways:' but in the meantime she
followed not the right way, but, on the contrary, turned aside after
various errors, and thus receded from the Lord, and came not to him.
    By saying, that "God had removed or separated himself from
them", he intimates that he is not propitious but to the faithful,
who think not so grossly of him, as to seek to feed him with the
flesh of oxen or other sacrifices, or to pacify him with
disagreeable odour; but who seek him spiritually and from the heart,
who bring true repentance. It now follows -

Hosea 5:7
They have dealt treacherously against the LORD: for they have
begotten strange children: now shall a month devour them with their
portions.

    He says that "they had acted perfidiously with God", for they
had violated his covenant. We must bear in mind what I have said
before of the mutual faith which God stipulates with us, when he
binds himself to us. God then covenants with us on this condition,
that he will be our Father and Husband; but he requires from us such
obedience as a son ought to render to his father; he requires from
us that chastity which a wife owes to her husband. The Prophet now
charges the people with unfaithfulness, because they had despised
the true God, and prostituted themselves to idols.
    And he also aggravates this crime by saying, that they had
"begotten strange children": for he intimates, that their condition
had become so vitiated, that there remained no better hope as to
their posterity. Some explain the words, that they had begotten
strange children, in this way, - that they had taken wives from
heathen nations, contrary to the law. But this sense is very frigid.
Others understand, that they had begotten spurious children, because
they brought up their children badly, having, from their infancy,
attached them to depraved superstitions. This is indeed true, but
the prophet, as I have already said, looked further; he meant that
the Israelites had not only become alienated from God, but had also
taken away every hope as to the future. It may indeed be, and it
sometimes happens, that men for a time abandon themselves to many
vices, and afterwards return to the right way; but when corruption
has so prevailed that the children are infected with the same vices,
and impiety itself takes full possession of them, then the state of
things is past recovery. We now then see that the Prophet means,
that the Israelites were not only covenant-breakers with respect to
God, but that they had also led their children into the game
perfidy, so that there was no hope of repentance.
    He therefore subjoins the punishment, "Devour them shall a
month together with their portions." Some restrict the word, month,
to the times of the new moon, or to the new moons; and these days,
we know, were festivals among the Jews: but this seems too
far-fetched and strained. The Prophet therefore, I doubt not, takes
here a month for a short time; and so the Hebrew scholars explain
it, and yet they do not sufficiently unfold this form of speaking.
Now, the Prophets are wont to use various figures, when they intend
to mark out a short time. Isaiah says, 'Yet for three years, as the
time of a hireling:' for hirelings were wont to hire themselves for
three years; hence he says, This is the time fixed by the Lord as
the appointed day. Contracts, also, we know, were then monthly, as
they are at this day yearly, both with reference to the interest of
money and other exchanges. Since, then, they usually made agreements
for single months, the Prophet here, I have no doubt, takes a month
metaphorically for a certain and fixed time. I do not therefore
agree with the Hebrew scholars, who say that only a short time is
expressed by the Prophet, but he expresses not only a short, but
also a fixed time; and he did this that the Israelites might not
vainly look for any deferring or respite, for hypocrites ever
procrastinate and extend time by vain delusions. The Prophet
therefore says here, "A month shall devour them", which means,
"Vengeance is now suspended over their heads, and this they shall
not escape."
    And he says, "with their portions". He intimates here, no
doubt, that though they then overflowed with abundance, yet nothing
would be a help to them to keep them from being destroyed, for the
hand of God was against them. We indeed know, that as long as men
are well furnished with provisions and protection, they are not very
solicitous about their state, but heedlessly despise whatever
dangers there may be in the world: therefore the Prophet says, that
though they were opulent and well supplied, though they possessed
every kind of defense, yet nothing would avail for their safety, but
a month should devour them, together with all their wealth. It
follows -

Hosea 5:8
Blow ye the cornet in Gibeah, [and] the trumpet in Ramah: cry aloud
[at] Bethaven, after thee, O Benjamin.
    
    The Prophet speaks here more emphatically, and there is in
these words a certain lively representation; for the Prophet assumes
here the character of a herald, or he introduces heralds who declare
and proclaim war. The truth itself ought indeed to storm not only
our ears, but also our hearts, and be more powerful than any
trumpet: but we yet see how unconcerned we are. Hence the Lord is
constrained here to clothe his servant with the character of a
herald, or at least he bids his servant to send forth heralds to
proclaim war everywhere throughout the whole kingdom of Israel. This
was not, properly speaking, the office of a Prophet; but we see that
Ezekiel was ordered by the Lord to besiege Jerusalem for a time, -
and why? Because his whole teaching, after the Jews had been a
thousand times threatened, became frigid: God then added visions,
which more effectually roused torpid men. So also does Hosea in this
place, "Shout with the trumpet in Gibeah, blow the cornet in Ramah,
and sound the horn in Beth-aven"; for God, as we have said, is
pursuing Israel, and will not suffer them to rest; so that the
Israelites might know that God threatens not in vain, that his
reproofs are not bugbears, but that he deals in earnest when he
reproves the ungodly, and that execution, as they say, will follow
what he teaches. In the same manner does Paul also say, 'Vengeance
is prepared by us, and is in readiness against all those who extol
themselves against the greatness of Christ, how great soever they
may be,' (2 Cor. 10: 5, 6.) As, then, the ungodly are wont to make
this objection, that the Prophets preach nothing but words, Hosea
here testifies that he did not in vain terrify men, but that the
effect, as they say, would immediately follow, unless they
reconciled themselves to God.
    Now, as we perceive the Prophet's purpose, let us take care to
receive by faith that peace which the Lord daily proclaims to us by
his messengers. For what is the Gospel but what Paul declares it to
be? 'We discharge the office of ambassadors,' he says, 'for Christ,
that ye may be reconciled to God, and in Christ's name we exhort you
to return into favor with God,' (2 Cor. 5: 20.) We then see that all
the ministers of the Gospel are God's heralds, who invite us to
peace, and promise that God is ready to grant us pardon, if with the
heart we seek him. But if we receive not this message and this
embassy, there will remain for us the dreadful judgment, of which
the Prophet now speaks, and our impiety will procure for us this
awful doom. As though God then were now declaring war against all
the ungodly and the despisers of his grace, the Prophet says that
they shall find that God is armed for vengeance.
    Moreover, the Prophet doubtless has here mentioned "Gibeah,
Ramah", and "Beth-aven", because in these places great assemblies
usually met; and it may be also that they were strong fortresses.
Since then the Israelites thought themselves unconquerable, because
they had invincible strongholds against their enemies, the Prophet
here expressly declares war against them. Everywhere then sound ye
the trumpet, or blow the horn, or blow the cornet, especially in the
chief places of the kingdom.
    "After thee, O Benjamin". Benjamin is here to be taken, by a
figure of speech, for the whole of Israel, because he was a brother
of Joseph by the same mother: the tribe of Benjamin is therefore
everywhere joined with Ephraim. It is at the same time certain, that
the Prophet confines not here his address to one tribe, but
includes, under one tribe or one part, the whole kingdom of Israel.
It follows -

Hosea 5:9
Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke: among the tribes of
Israel have I made known that which shall surely be.
    
    Here the Prophet asserts, without any figure, that their
chastisement would not be slight or paternal, but that God would
punish the Israelites as they deserved, that he would reduce them to
nothing. God, we know, sometimes spares the ungodly, while he
chastises them: signs of his wrath daily appear through the whole
world; but at the same time they are moderate punishments which God
inflicts on men; and he in a manner invites them to repentance, when
he thus mercifully chastises their sins. But the Prophet says here,
that God would no longer act in this manner; for he would destroy
and wholly blot out the whole kingdom of Israel. They had been
already often warned, not only in words, but also in deeds and had
often felt the wrath of God; but they still persisted in their
course. And now, as God saw that they were wholly stupid, he says,
"Now, in the day of correction, Ephraim shall be for desolation"; as
though he said, "I will not correct Israel as heretofore, for they
have been before in various ways chastised, but have not repented; I
will therefore now lay aside those paternal corrections which I have
hitherto used, for I have in vain applied such remedies: I will then
henceforth so correct Israel, that they shall be entirely
destroyed." We now comprehend the Prophet's meaning.
    But this is a remarkable passage; for men are always slow and
dilatory; even when God pricks them, as it were, with goads, they
remain slothful in their sins. God adds corrections, one after the
other; and when he sees men continuing as it were out of their
senses, he then testifies that it is no time for reproof, but that
final destruction is at hand. We hence see that every hope is here
cut off from the Israelites, that they might not think that they
would be punished in the usual way for their sins; for as soon as
the Lord would begin to reprehend them, he would destroy and blot
out their names: Israel then shall be for desolation in the day of
correction.
    He then adds, "through the tribes of Israel I have made known
the truth". Some regard this sentence as spoken in the person of
God, and refer it to the first covenant which God made with the
whole people; and so consider this to be the sense, "I do not now of
a sudden proceed to take vengeance on the Israelites; for I have
begotten this people, nourished them, brought them up to manhood.
Since this is the case, there is now no reason for them to complain,
that I am too precipitant in taking vengeance." This is one meaning:
but I rather incline to their opinion, who regard this as spoken in
the person of the Prophet; I do not yet follow altogether their
opinion, for they suppose that the fault of the people in being
unteachable is alone set forth: I have made known the truth through
the tribes of Israel, as though the Prophet had said, "This people
is unworthy that God should chastise them in a paternal manner, for
they have hardened themselves in their wickedness; and though they
have been more than sufficiently taught their duty, they have yet
openly despised God, and have done this, not through ignorance, but
through perverseness: since then the people of Israel have blinded
and demented themselves, as it were, willfully, what now remains,
but that God will bring them to desolation?" So they expound this
place. But it seems to me that a protestation is what suits this
passage: I have made known the truth through the tribes of Israel,
as though he said, "This is fixed and ratified, which I now declare,
and it shall certainly be; let then no one seek any escape for
himself, for God threatens not now, as often before, for the purpose
of recalling men to repentance, but declares what he will do."
    That this may be better understood, the mode of speaking in
familiar use among all the Prophets is to be noticed: they often
threaten, and then give hope of pardon, and promise salvation, so
that they seem to exhibit some sort of contradiction: for after
having fulminated against the people, they come at once to preach
grace, they offer salvation, they testify that God will be
propitious. At first sight the Prophets seem not to be consistent
with themselves. But the solution is easy, for they threatened
vengeance to men under condition; afterwards, when they saw some
fruit, they then set forth the mercy of God, and began to be heralds
of peace, to reconcile men to God, and make an agreement between
them. Thus our Prophet often threatened the Israelites; and had they
repented, the hope of salvation would not have been cut off from
them. But after he had found them to be so obstinate that they would
not receive any instruction, he then said, "I have announced the
truth through the tribes of Israel", that is, God does not now say,
"Except ye repent, you are lost;" but he speaks positively; because
he sees that the well known doctrine has been despised: this then is
the truth. It is the same as if he said, "This is the last
denunciation, which shall be fixed and unalterable."
    And Jeremiah also speaks in the same manner: his book is full
of various threatenings; and yet they are conditional threatening.
But after God had taken the matter in hand, he began to act in a
different way: "I now call you no more to repentance, I contend not
with you, I do not now set forth God as a judge, that ye may flee to
him for mercy; all these things are come to an end; what remains
now", he says, "is the last command, to show that you are now past
hope." This is the true and real meaning of the Prophet here; and
whosoever will consider the whole context, will easily perceive that
this was the Prophet's intention. He had said before, "Ephraim shall
be for desolation in the day of correction," that is, "The Lord will
no longer reprove Ephraim as heretofore, but will entirely destroy
him:" then he adds, "I have promulgated or published the truth
through the tribes of Israel:" "Now," he says, "know ye that
vengeance will come shortly, and that it is ratified before God;
know also that I speak authoritatively, as if the hand of God were
now stretched forth before your eyes." Now follows -
    
Prayer.

Grant, Almighty God, that as we are already by nature the children
of wrath, and yet thou hast deigned to receive us into favour, and
hast set before us a sacred pledge of thy favor in thine
only-begotten Son, and that as we have not yet ceased often to
provoke thy wrath against us, and also to fall away by shameful
perfidy from the covenant thou hast made with us, - O grant, that
being at least touched by thy admonitions, we may not harden our
hearts in wickedness, but be pliant and teachable, and thus endeavor
to return unto favor with thee, that through the interceding
sacrifice of thy Son, we may find thee a propitious Father, and be
for the future so wholly devoted to thee, that those who shall
follow and survive us may be confirmed in the worship of thy
majesty, and in true religion, through the same Jesus Christ our
Lord. Amen.
    
Lecture Fifteenth.

Hosea 5:10
The princes of Judah were like them that remove the bound:
[therefore] I will pour out my wrath upon them like water.
    
    Here the Prophet transfers the blame of all the evils which
then reigned in the tribe of Judah to their princes. He says, that
the people had fallen away and departed from God through their
fault, and he uses a most fit similitude. We know that there is
nothing certain in the possessions of men, except the boundaries of
fields be fixed; for no one can otherwise keep his own. But by the
metaphor of boundaries in fields, the Prophet refers to the whole
political order. The meaning is, that all things were now in a state
of disorder and confusion among the Jews; because their leaders who
ought to have ruled the people and kept them in obedience, had
destroyed the whole order of things. We now then understand what the
Prophet had really in view.
    But it must be observed that the tribe of Judah had been
hitherto kept separate, as it were by limits, as God's heritage; for
Israel had become alienated. The possession of God had been
diminished by the defection of Jeroboam; and he retained only one
tribe and a half in his service. The Prophet says now, that the Jews
had mixed with the Israelites, and had thus become themselves
alienated from the Lord; for the princes themselves had taken away
the boundaries, that is, they had, through indolence and other
vices, destroyed all reverence for God, all care for religion, and
also every concern for what was just and right: he therefore
severely threatens them, "I will pour out", he says, "my wrath upon
them like waters".
    By this metaphor, he means that God would deal much more
severely with them than with the common people: "I," he says, "will
with full force pour forth upon them my fury, as if it were the
deluge of antiquity." The meaning is, "I will overwhelm them in my
vengeance, because they have done more evil by their bad examples,
than if they had been private individuals." We hence see that the
corruption of the people is imputed to the princes, and therefore
God's more dreadful vengeance is denounced on them.
    But we must bear in mind what I have before said, that the
Prophet gives here metaphorically the name of boundaries to the
lawful worship of God, and to whatever he had enjoined on the
people, that they might be his certain possession, as fields among
men are usually separated by bounds that every one may keep his own.
It follows. -

Hosea 5:11
Ephraim is oppressed [and] broken in judgment, because he willingly
walked after the commandment.

    Here again the Prophet shows that the vengeance of God would be
just against Israel, because they willingly followed the impious
edicts of their king. The people might indeed have appeared to be
excusable, since religion had not been changed by their voice, or by
public consent, or by any contrivance of the many, but by the
tyrannical will of the king alone: Jeroboam was not induced by
superstition, but by subtile wickedness, to erect altars elsewhere,
and not at Jerusalem. The people then might have appeared to be
without blame; for the king alone devised this artifices to secure
himself from danger. But the Prophet shows that all were implicated
in the same guilt before God, because the people adopted with
alacrity the impious forms of worship which the king had commanded.
He therefore says, that "Ephraim is exposed to plunder, that he is
broken by judgment", (or, "shall be broken," for the words may be
rendered in the future tense.) That the people then were thus torn,
and were also to bear in future far more grievous things, was not,
as he says, because they had to suffer all these things
undeservedly, for they were not innocent. - How so? Because they
willingly followed the commands of their king; for the king did not
force them to forsake the doctrine of the law, but every one went
voluntarily after impious superstitions. Since then they willingly
obeyed their king, they could not now excuse themselves, they could
not object that this was done by one man, and that they were not
admitted to consult with him. Their promptitude proved them to be
perfidious.
    Some render "ho'il" to begin," and "ya'al" is often taken in
this sense: but as it oftener signifies, "to be willing," the
Prophet no doubt means here, that the Israelites had not been
compelled by force and fear to go astray after superstitions; but
that they were prompt and ready to obey, for there was in them no
fear of God, no religion. If any one should now ask, whether they
are excusable, who are tyrannically drawn away into superstitions,
as we see to be done under the Papacy, the answer is ready, that
those are not here absolved who regarded men more than God: nor is
terror, as we know, a sufficient excuse, when we prefer our own life
to the glory of God, and when, anxious to provide for ourselves and
to avoid the cross, we deny God, or turn aside from making a
confession of the right and pure faith: but the fault is rendered
double, when men easily comply with any thing commanded by tyrants;
for they show, that they were already fully inclined to despise God
and to deny true religion. Hence the impiety of Jeroboam discovered
the common ungodliness and wickedness of the whole people; for as
soon as he raised his finger and bid them to worship God corruptly,
all joyfully followed the impious edict. There was an occasion then
offered to them; but the evil dwelt before in their hearts; for they
were not so inclined and prompt to obey God. We now then see what
the Prophet had in view.
    He says that God would justly punish all the Israelites, yea,
even all the common people; for though Jeroboam alone had commanded
them to worship God corruptly, yet all of them willingly embraced
what he wished to be done: and thus it became manifest that they had
in them no fear of God. We now see how vain is the excuse of those
who say that they ought to obey kings, and at the same time forsake
the word of God: for what does the Prophet reprove here, but that
the Israelites had been too submissive to their king? "But this in
itself was worthy of praise." True, when the king commanded nothing
contrary to God's word; but when he perverted God's worship, when he
set up corrupt superstitions, then the people ought to have firmly
resisted him: but as they were too pliant, nay, willingly allowed
themselves to be drawn away from the true worship of God, the
Prophet says here, that they had no reason to complain, that they
were too sharply and too severely chastised by the Lord. It follows
-

Hosea 5:12
Therefore [will] I be unto Ephraim as a moth, and to the house of
Judah as rottenness.
    
    God now denounces punishment in common on the two kingdoms; but
he speaks not as before, he says not that his fury would be like a
deluge, to overwhelm and drown the people. What then? He compares
himself to little worms which gnaw wood and consume cloths; or he
compares himself to rottenness; for, as we have said, the second
word is to be so taken, as "rakav" is properly rottenness, and is
derived from "rakav", to rot;" it is then rottenness or putrescence.
But as I have said, some would render it, "a grub;" and there is a
probable reason for this, because he first mentioned moth; and these
two, moth and grub, would be more suitable to each other, than moth
and rottenness. However, the meaning of the Prophet is by no means
obscure, and that is, that the Lord would by a slow corrosion
consume both the people; that though he would not by one onset
destroy them, yet they would pine away until they became wholly
rotten. This is the meaning.
    But we must observe why the Prophet used this metaphor. It was,
that the Israelites and the Jews might understand, that though the
Lord would in some measure withhold his hand from resting heavily
upon them, and that though he would spare them, yet they would not
be safe, because they would by little and little feel a slow decay,
that would consume them. And the Lord meant in this way to turn the
people to repentance; but he effected nothing: for such was their
hardness, that they felt not this slow decay; as those who are
stupid are not moved, except they feel a most grievous pain; they
think that they are doing well, and they struggle against their own
disease: many such we see. Hence the Prophet here reminds them, that
though the Lord should not openly fulminate against the Israelites
and the Jews, they yet in vain flattered themselves, because the
Lord would be to them a moth and a worm; that is, that however
gradually he might consume them, they would yet be greatly deceived,
if they did not perceive that they had to do with him.
    The chief instruction is, that God does not always punish men
in the same way; for he deals with them differently, either to
promote their salvation, or to render them in this way more
inexcusable. Hence God sometimes pours forth his severity, and at
another time he slowly chastises us. But whatever may be the way, we
are reminded that we ought not to sleep, whenever the Lord awakens
us; nor should we wait until he appears as a lion or a bear, until
he devours us, until he rages against us in dreadful fury. We are
then reminded that there is no reason why we should wait for this;
but that when God consumes us by degrees, it ought instantly to
occur to us, that though the moth and the worm are but very small
insects, hardly seen by the eyes, yet a hard and firm tree is
consumed by these little worms, or by its own cariousness; and that
cloths are consumed with putridity, when once the moth enters into
them; we see valuable furniture perishing. Since it is so, there is
no reason for men to be secure when God shows any sign of his wrath,
though he pours not forth his horrible vengeance, but is as a hidden
putrefaction. We now perceive what Hosea means in this verse. It now
follows -

Hosea 5:13
When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah [saw] his wound, then went
Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not
heal you, nor cure you of your wound.

    Here the Lord complains that he had in vain chastised the
Israelites by the usual means, for they thought that they had
remedies ready for themselves, and turned their minds to vain hopes.
This is usually done by most men; for when the Lord deals mildly
with us, we perceive not his hand, but think that what evils happen
to us come by chance. Then, as if we had nothing to do with God, we
seek remedies, and turn our minds and thoughts to other quarters.
This then is what God now reproves in the Jews and the Israelites:
"Ephraim", he says, "saw his disease, and Judah his wound". What
then did he do? "Ephraim went to Assyria", he says, "and sent to
king Jareb", that is, "They returned not to me, but thought that
they had remedies in their own hand; and thus vain became the labour
which I have taken to correct them." This is the meaning.
    He says that Ephraim had seen his disease, and Judah his wound:
but it is not right so to take this, as if they well considered the
causes of these; for the ungodly are blind to the causes of evils,
and only attend to their present grief. They are like intemperate
men, who, when disease seizes them, feel heat, feel pain in the
head, and other symptoms, at the same time there is no concern for
the disease, neither do they inquire how they procured these pains
for themselves, that they might seek fit remedies.
    So "Ephraim knew his disease", but at the same time overlooked
the cause of his disease, and was only affected by his present pain.
So also "Judah knew his wound"; but he understood not that he was
struck and wounded by the hand of God; but was only affected with
his pain, like brute beasts who feel the stroke and sigh, while they
have, in the meantime, neither reason nor judgment to understand
whence, or for what cause the evil has come to them. In a word, the
Prophet here condemns this brutish stupidity in both people; for
they did not so far profit under God's rod as to return to him, but,
on the contrary, they sought other remedies; because stupor had
taken such hold on their minds, that they did not consider that they
were chastised by God, and that this was done for just reasons. As
then no such thing came to their mind, but they only felt themselves
ill and grieved as brutes do, they went to the Assyrian, and sent to
king Jareb.
    The Prophet seems here to inveigh only against the ten tribes;
but though he expressly speaks of the kingdom of Israel, there is no
doubt but that he accused also the Jews in common with them. Why
then does he name only Ephraim? Even because the beginning of this
evil commenced in the kingdom of Israel: for they were the first who
went to the king of Assur, that they might, by his help, resist
their neighbors, the Syrians: the Jews afterwards followed their
example. Since then the Israelites afforded a precedent to the Jews
to send for aids of this kind, the Prophet expressly confines his
discourse to them. But there is no doubt, as I have already said,
but that the accusation was common.
    We now perceive what the Prophet meant: "Ephraim", he says,
"saw his disease, and Judah his wound"; that is, "Though I have,
like a moth and a worm, consumed the kingdom of Israel as well as
the kingdom of Judah, and they have felt themselves to be, as it
were, decaying, and though their disease ought to have led them to
repentance, they have yet turned their thoughts elsewhere; they have
even supposed that they could be made whole by seeking a remedy
either from the Assyrians or some others: thus it happened that they
hastened to Assyria, and sought help from king Jareb." We then see,
in short, that the stupidity and hardness of the people are here
reproved, because they were not turned by these evils to repentance.
    Some think Jareb to have been a city in Assyria; but there is
no ground for this conjecture. Others suppose that Jareb was a
neighboring king to the Assyrian, and was sent to when the Assyrian,
from a friend and a confederate, became an enemy, and invaded the
kingdom of Israel; but this conjecture also has no solid grounds. It
may have been the proper name of a man, and I prefer so to take it.
For it seemed not necessary for the Prophet to speak here of many
auxiliaries; but after the manner of the Hebrews, he repeats the
same thing twice. Some render it, "to revenge;" because they sent
for that king, even the Assyrian, as a revenger. But this exposition
also is forced. More simple appears to me what I have already said,
that they sent for the Assyrian, that is, for king Jareb.
    Then it follows, "Yet could he not heal you, nor will he cure
you of your wound". Here God declares that whatever the Israelites
might seek would be in vain. "Ye think," he says, "that you can
escape my hand by these remedies; but your folly will at length
betray itself, for he will avail you nothing; that is, king Jareb
will not heal you." In this clause the Prophet shows, that unless we
immediately return to God, when he warns us by his scourges, it will
be in vain for us to look here and there for remedies: for in this
world many allurements come in our way; but when we hope for any
relief, the Lord will at length show that we have been deluded.
There is, then, but one remedy, - to go directly to God; and this is
what the Prophet means, and this is the application of the present
doctrine. He had said before that Ephraim had felt his disease and
Judah his wounds; that is, "I have led them thus far, that they have
acknowledged themselves to be ill; but they have not gone on as they
ought to have done, so as to return to me: on the contrary, they
have turned aside to king Jareb and to other delusions." Then it
follows, "But these remedies have turned ant rather for harm to you;
they certainly have not profited you." A confirmation of this
sentence follows -

Hosea 5:14
For I [will be] unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the
house of Judah: I, [even] I, will tear and go away; I will take
away, and none shall rescue [him].
    
    As I have said, the Prophet confirms this truth, that Israel
had recourse in vain to false physicians, when they left God. How
so? Because the whole world, were it to favor us, could not yet help
us, against the will of God and his opposing power. But God here
declares that he would be adverse to the Israelites; as though he
said, "Provide human aids as much as you please; but will the
Assyrian be superior to me in power? Can he hinder me from pursuing
you as I have determined?" Thus God shows that he would deal in a
new and different manner with the Israelites and the Jews: "I will
not," he says, "be any longer like a moth and a worm; I shall come
like a lion to you, with an open mouth to devour you: now let the
Assyrian king come forth, when I shall thus go armed against you;
can he put any hindrance in my way, that I should not execute my
vengeance, as it shall seem good to me?" We now then perceive the
design of the Prophet.
    He had said, that God would punish the Israelites and the Jews,
by consuming them by degrees, that there might be more time for
repentance: but he says that this would be useless, for they would
not think that it was done seriously. They would therefore deceive
themselves with vain fallacies. What would then at last remain? Even
this, "I will," he says, "put on a new form and go to battle: I will
be to you as a lion and a young lion; I will rage against you as a
fierce wild beast: your grievance shall not now be from moths and
worms; but you shall have an open and dreadful contest with the lion
and the young lion. What then will the Assyrian king avail you?" And
this place teaches, that men, when they attempt to oppose vain helps
to the wrath of God, gain only this, that they more and more provoke
and inflame his wrath against themselves. After God has first
gnawed, he will at length devour; after he has pricked, he will
deeply wound; after he has struck, he will wholly destroy. All this
we bring on ourselves by our perverse attempts, when we try to seek
escapes for ourselves. Except, then, we would willingly kindle God's
displeasure, that he may appear as a lion and rage against us with
the whole force of his wrath, let us take heed, that we deceive not
ourselves by vain reliefs.
    He therefore says, "I, I will take away", or, "tear," or, "tear
in pieces;" for "taraf" properly means this, and it agrees better
with the rest of the context. "I will then, as lions and young lions
are wont to do, tear in pieces, limb from limb, the whole people."
Then he says, I will "go away" as a lion, who, after he has enjoyed
his prey, departs a conqueror with more courage being not put to
flight, for he is moved by no fear. So also the Prophet says, "Let
the Assyrian king come, he will not constrain me to retreat, nor
will he rescue the spoil from me: and when I shall be satiated with
your destruction, I shall not then have any fear on account of the
Assyrian king, that I should stealthily flee away, as foxes are wont
to do; I will not craftily contend; but I will go forth openly, my
violence will be sufficient to put him to flight: I will thus depart
of my own accord; for your subsidies will occasion me no fear. I
will tabs away, he says, and none shall rescue." We now comprehend
the whole meaning of the Prophet.

Hosea 5:15
I will go [and] return to my place, till they acknowledge their
offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me
early.
    
    The word "shachar" signifies the morning: hence the verb means,
"to seek early," or, "to rise early," as men do when they apply
themselves diligently to anything: but in many places of Scripture
it is taken simply in the sense of seeking; and this simple meaning
seems most suitable to this place, "They will seek me in their
tribulation". God here declares, that after having been dreadfully
fierce against both the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, he would for a
time rest quietly and wait from heaven what they would do. He then
adds, "They will at length return to a sane mind: when they shall
perceive the finishing part, they will then, having lost their
perverseness, acknowledge their sins and be truly humbled." This is
the meaning.
    The mode of speaking seems apparently strange, when God says,
that he will go away; for he neither so hides himself in heaven,
that he neglects human affairs, nor withdraws his hand, but that he
sustains the world by the continued exercise of his power, nor even
takes away his Spirit from men, especially when he would lead them
to repentance; for men never of their own accord turn themselves to
God, but by his hidden influence. What then does he mean by this, "I
will go and return to my place?" Why, indeed, he speaks here of the
external state of the people: then the meaning is, "After the two
kingdoms shall be cut off, I will then for a time hide my face from
both the people; and they will think that I care not for their
salvation; they will think that they are far removed from me." We
hence see that the Prophet here only refers to what would be the
external condition of the people; and then we also see, that these
forms of speech are accommodated to the perceptions of men. So God
also himself speaks in Isaiah 18, though for a different purpose;
yet the Prophet expresses there in reality the same thing; 'I will
rest,' he says, 'and I will wait in my tabernacle.' What was that
rest of God, and what was his tabernacle? Why, when God exercised
his judgments, we are then constrained to feel his presence, and
when he kindly favors us and exhibits the kindness of a Father, he
then really shows himself propitious to us: but when he neither
visits us for our sins, nor gives us tokens of his favor, he seems
to withdraw himself from us, and to show no regard for our life. We
now then understand that the Prophet speaks of the time of exile; as
though he said, "After God shall execute against you his extreme
judgment, and ye shall be liken away into exile, God will then
forsake you, as if he in no way regarded you, but were unmindful of
you; for he will leave you there to rest, even in Chaldea and
Assyria; and then he will not send forth any light of salvation. God
therefore will be as it were idle in heaven." This is one thing.
    But the Prophet shows at the same time the final issue, that
is, that they will afterwards return to the Lord; and that this is
also the purpose of God he affirms, "Till they acknowledge", he
says, "that they have sinned". For it is the beginning of healing,
when men consider the cause of their disease. He had said before
that Israel saw his disease, but not in a right way; for the origin
of the disease was hid from him, and continued as yet hid. But now
the Prophet distinctly shows that it is to seek God, when people
acknowledge and confess their sins. This word continually occurs in
Scripture when sacrifices are spoken of. Hence men are said then to
sin, when they go forth before God, making a true confession, when
they acknowledge their guilt and pray for pardon. So also in this
place he says, "Until they confess that they have sinned I will for
a time hide myself." And he adds, "They will seek my face". This is
the second thing in attaining salvation - to seek the face of God:
for we are reconciled to God, we know, by repentance and faith; not
that repentance procures pardon for us, but because it is
necessarily required; it is a cause, as they say, which is
indispensable.
    The first step then towards healing, as we have already said,
is to be touched with grief, when we perceive that we have provoked
the wrath of God, and when thus our sins displease us. But he who is
thus become in himself a sinner, that is, who begins to be his own
judge, ought afterwards to add this second thing - to seek the face
of God, that is, to present himself a suppliant before God, and to
ask for pardon; and this arises from faith. It is then to repentance
that the word "'asham" belongs, which is to "acknowledge sin:" and
to "seek the face of God," properly belongs to faith.
    Now let us see what is the application of this doctrine as to
both people. When the Israelites and the Jews lived in exile, it was
of great benefit for them to have this testified, that God was
hiding his face for a time, that he might afford them time to
repent; this is one thing. Now when men considerately attend to
this, that they are to seek God, that they may repent, they are
encouraged; and this is the sharpest goad to rouse men, that they
may no longer be torpid in their vices: and this is what the Prophet
meant. When the Lord shall banish into exile both the Jews and the
Israelites, let them not think that though for a time he will seem
to cast them away they are wholly deserted; for as yet a convenient
time for repentance will be given them. He afterwards describes the
way of reconciliations that is, that they shall acknowledge that
they have sinned, and then that they shall seek the face of God.
    And at the same time he makes known the fruit of affliction,
and says, "Where affliction shall be to them, then they will seek
me". The Prophet here shows, that exile, though very bitter to
Israel, would yet be useful; as when a physician gives a bitter
draughts or is compelled to use strong medicine to cure an
inveterate disease; so the Prophet shows that this punishment would
be useful to the people, and even pleasant, however bitter it might
be for a time. How so? For they will return to the Lord; and he says
distinctly, "They will seek me". He includes in this expression both
faith and repentance; for he separates not the two clauses as
before, but shows generally that the end of affliction would be,
that the people would turn themselves to God. With respect to the
expression, "to seek early," I have said already that I do not
approve of that meaning; for neither the Israelites nor the Jews,
sought God early, but were with difficulty at lasts after a long
period, and a long series of seventy years, led to repentance. What
sort of seeking early was this? I do not then approve of rendering
the word, 'They shall seek me early;' but, as I have said the simple
idea of "seeking" is more suitable.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that as we continue to kindle often thy wrath
against us by our innumerable sins, - O grant, that when thou
warnest and wouldest restore us to the right way, we may at least be
pliant, and without delay attend to the scourges of thy hand, and
not wait for extreme severity, but timely repent; and that we may
truly and from the heart seek thee, let us not put on false
repentance, but strive to devote ourselves wholly to thee, through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Chapter 6.

Lecture Sixteenth.

Hosea 6:1
Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will
heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.
    
    In the last chapter the Prophet said, that the Israelites,
after having been subdued by chastisements and judgments, would
again turn back from following error to seek God. But as terror
drives men away from approaching God, he now adds, that the measure
of afflictions would not be such as would discourage their minds and
produce despair; but rather inspire them with the assurance, that
God would be propitious to them: and that he might set this forth
the better, he introduces them as saying, "Come, let us go to the
Lord": and this mode of speaking is very emphatical.
    But we must know that the reason here given, why the Israelites
could return safely and with sure confidence to God, is, that they
would acknowledge it as his office to heal after he has smitten, and
to bring a remedy for the wounds which he has inflicted. The Prophet
means by these words, that God does not so punish men as to pour
forth his wrath upon them for their destruction; but that he
intends, on the contrary, to promote their salvation, when he is
severe in punishing their sins. We must then remember, as we have
before observed, that the beginning of repentance is a sense of
God's mercy; that is, when men are persuaded that God is ready to
give pardon, they then begin to gather courage to repent; otherwise
perverseness will ever increase in them; how much soever their sin
may frighten them, they will yet never return to the Lord. And for
this purpose I have elsewhere quoted that remarkable passage in Ps.
130, 'With thee is mercy, that thou mayest be feared;' for it cannot
be, that men will obey God with true and sincere heart, except a
taste of his goodness allures them, and they can certainly
determine, that they shall not return to him in vain, but that he
will be ready, as we have said, to pardon them. This is the meaning
of the words, when he says, "Come, and let us turn to the Lord; for
he has torn and he will heal us"; that is, God has not inflicted on
us deadly wounds; but he has smitten, that he might heal.
    At the same time, something more is expressed in the Prophet's
words, and it is this, that God never so rigidly deals with men, but
that he ever leaves room for his grace. For by the word, torn, the
Prophet alludes to that heavy judgment of which he had before spoken
in the person of God: the Lord then made himself to be like a cruel
wild beast, "I will be as a lion, I will devour, I will tear, and no
one shall take away the prey which I have once seized." God wished
then to show that his vengeance would be dreadful against the
Israelites. Now, though God should deal very sharply with them, they
were not yet to despair of pardon. However, then, we may find God to
be for a time like a lion or a bear, yet, as his proper office is to
heal after he has torn, to bind the wounds he has inflicted, there
is no reason why we should shun his presence. We see that the design
of the Prophet's words was to show, that no chastisement is so
severe that it ought to break down our spirits, but that we ought,
by entertaining hope, to stir up ourselves to repentance. This is
the drift of the passage.
    It is further needful to observe, that the faithful do here, in
the first place, encourage themselves, that they may afterwards lead
others with them; for so the words mean. He does not say, "Go,
return to Jehovah;" but, "Come, let us return unto Jehovah". We then
see that each one begins with himself; and then that they mutually
exhort one another; and this is what ought to be done by us: when
any one sends his brethren to God, he does not consult his own good,
since he ought rather to show the way. Let every one, then, learn to
stimulate himself; and then, let him stretch out his hand to others,
that they may follow. We are at the same time reminded that we ought
to undertake the care of our brethren; for it would be a shame for
any one to be content with his own salvation, and so to neglect his
brethren. It is then necessary to join together these two things, -
To stir up ourselves to repentance, - and then to try to lead others
with us. Let us now proceed -

Hosea 6:2
After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us
up, and we shall live in his sight.
    
    This place the Hebrew writers pervert, for they think that they
are yet to be redeemed by the coming of the Messiah; and they
imagine that this will be the third day: for God once drew them out
of Egypt, this was their first life; then, secondly, he restored
them to life when he brought them back from the Babylonish
captivity; and when God shall, by the hand of the Messiah, gather
them from their dispersion, this, they say, will be the third
resurrection. But these are frivolous notions. Not withstanding,
this place is usually referred to Christ, as declaring, that God
would, after two days, and on the third, raise up his Church; for
Christ, we know, did not rise privately for himself, but for his
members, inasmuch as he is the first-fruits of them who shall rise.
This sense does not seem then unsuitable, that is, that the Prophet
here encourages the faithful to entertain hope of salvation, because
God would raise up his only-begotten Son, whose resurrection would
be the common life of the whole Church.
    Yet this sense seems to me rather too refined. We must always
mind this, that we fly not in the air. Subtle speculations please at
first sight, but afterwards vanish. Let every one, then, who desires
to make proficiency in the Scriptures always keep to this rule - to
gather from the Prophets and apostles only what is solid.
    Let us now see what the Prophet meant. He here adds, I doubt
not, a second source of consolation, that is, that if God should not
immediately revive his people, there would be no reason for delay to
cause weariness, as it is wont to do; for we see that when God
suffers us to languish long, our spirits fail; and those who at
first seem cheerful and courageous enough, in process of time become
faint. As, then, patience is a rare virtue, Hosea here exhorts us
patiently to bear delay, when the Lord does not immediately revive
us. Thus then did the Israelites say, "After two days will God
revive us; on the third day he will raise us up to life".
    What did they understand by two days? Even their long
affliction; as though they said, "Though the Lord may not deliver us
from our miseries the first day, but defer longer our redemption,
our hope ought not yet to fail; for God can raise up dead bodies
from their graves no less than restore life in a moment." When
Daniel meant to show that the affliction of the people would be
long, he says, 'After a time, times, and half time,' (Dan. 7: 25.)
That mode of speaking is different, but then as to sense it is the
same. He says, 'after a time,' that is, after a year; that would be
tolerable: but it follows, 'and times,' that is, many years: God
afterwards shortens that period, and brings redemption at a time
when least expected. Hosea mentions here two years, because God
would not afflict his people for one day, but, as we have before
seen, subdue them by degrees; for the perverseness of the people had
so prevailed, that they could not be soon healed. As when diseases
have been striking roots for a long time, they cannot be immediately
cured, but there is need of slow and various remedies; and were a
physician to attempt immediately to remove a disease which had taken
full possession of a man, he certainly would not cure him, but take
away his life: so also, when the Israelites, through their long
obstinacy, had become nearly incurable, it was necessary to lead
them to repentance by slow punishments. They therefore said, "After
two days God will revive us"; and thus they confirmed themselves in
the hope of salvation, though it did not immediately appear: though
they long remained in darkness, and the exile was long which they
had to endure, they yet did not cease to hope: "Well, let the two
days pass, and the Lord will revive us."
    We see that a consolation is here opposed to the temptations,
which take from us the hope of salvation, when God suspends his
favor longer than our flesh desires. Martha said to Christ, 'He is
now putrid, it is the fourth day.' She thought it absurd to remove
the stone from the sepulchre, because now the body of Lazarus was
putrified. But Christ in this instance designed to show his own
incredible power by restoring a putrid body to life. So the faithful
say here, "The Lord will raise us up after two days": "Though exile
seems to be like the sepulchre, where putridity awaits us, yet the
Lord will, by his ineffable power, overcome whatever may seem to
obstruct our restoration." We now perceive, as I think, the simple
and genuine sense of this passage.
    But at the same time I do not deny but that God has exhibited a
remarkable and a memorable instance of what is here said in his
only-begotten Son. As often then as delay begets weariness in us,
and when God seems to have thrown aside every care of us, let us
flee to Christ; for, as it has been said, His resurrection is a
mirror of our life; for we see in that how God is wont to deal with
his own people: the Father did not restore life to Christ as soon as
he was taken down from the cross; he was deposited in the sepulchre,
and he lay there to the third day. When God then intends that we
should languish for a time, let us know that we are thus represented
in Christ our head, and hence let us gather materials of confidence.
We have then in Christ an illustrious proof of this prophecy. But in
the first place, let us lay hold on what we have said, that the
faithful here obtain hope for themselves, though God extends not
immediately his hand to them, but defers for a time his grace of
redemption.
    Then he adds, "We shall live in his sight", or before him. Here
again the faithful strengthen themselves, for God would favor them
with his paternal countenance, after he had long turned his back on
them, "We shall live before his face". For as long as God cares not
for us, a sure destruction awaits us; but as soon as he turns his
eyes to us, he inspires life by his look alone. Then the faithful
promise this good to themselves that God's face will shine again
after long darkness: hence also they gather the hope of life, and at
the same time withdraw themselves from all those obstacles which
obscure the light of life; for while we run and wander here and
there, we cannot lay hold on the life which God promises to us, as
the charms of this world are so many veils, which prevent our eyes
to see the paternal face of God. We must then remember that this
sentence is added, that the faithful, when it pleases God to turn
his back on them, may not doubt but that he will again look on them.
Let us now go on -

Hosea 6:3
Then shall we know, [if] we follow on to know the LORD: his going
forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the
rain, as the latter [and] former rain unto the earth.
    
    In this verse the faithful pursue what we have before
considered, making the hope of salvation sure to themselves: nor is
it a matter of wonder that the Prophet dwells more fully on this
subject; for we know how prone we are to entertain doubt. There is
nothing more difficult, especially when God shows to us signs of his
wrath, than to recover us, so that we may be really persuaded that
he is our physician, when he seems to visit us for our sins. We must
then, in this case, earnestly strive, for it cannot be done without
labour. Hence the faithful now say, "We shall know, and we shall
pursue to know Jehovah". They show then by these words that they
distrust not, but that light would arise after darkness; for this is
the meaning of the words: We shall then know, they say; that is,
"Though there is now on every side horrible darkness, yet the Lord
will manifest his goodness to us, even though it may not immediately
appear." They therefore add, "And we shall pursue after the
knowledge of Jehovah". We now perceive the purport of the words.
    Now this passage teaches us, that when God hides his face, we
act foolishly if we cherish our unbelief; for we ought, on the
contrary, as I have already said, to contend with this destructive
disease, inasmuch as Satan seeks nothing else but to sink us in
despair. This his device then ought to be understood by us, as Paul
reminds us, (2 Cor. 2: 11;) and the Holy Spirit supplies us here
with weapons, by which we may repel this temptation of Satan, "What?
Thou seest that God is angry with thee; nor is it of any use to thee
to attempt to come to him, for every access is shut up." This is
what Satan suggests to us, when we are sensible of our sins. What is
to be done? The Prophet here propounds a remedy, "We shall know;"
"Though now we are sunk in thick darkness, though there never shines
on us, no, not even a spark of light, yet we shall know (as Isaiah
says, 'I will hope in the Lord, who hides his face from Jacob') that
this is the true exercise of our faith, when we lift up our eyes to
the light which seems to be extinguished, and when in the darkness
of death we yet continue to promise to ourselves life, as we are
here taught: We shall then know; further, We shall pursue after the
knowledge of Jehovah; though God withdraws his face, and, as it were
designedly, doubles the darkness, and all knowledge of his grace be,
as it were, extinct, we shall yet pursue after this knowledge; that
is, no obstacle shall keep us from striving, and our efforts will at
length make their way to that grace which seems to be wholly
excluded from us."
    Some give this rendering, We shall know, and shall pursue on to
know Jehovah, and explain the passage thus, - that the Israelites
had derived no such benefit from the law of Moses, but that they
still expected the fuller doctrine, which Christ brought at his
coming. They then think that this is a prophecy respecting that
doctrine, which is now by the Gospel set forth to us in its full
brightness, because God has manifested himself in his Son as in a
living image. But this is too refined an exposition; and it is
enough for us to keep close to the design of the Prophet. He indeed
introduces the godly thus speaking for this reason - because there
was need of great and strong effort, that they might rise up to the
hope of salvation; for it was not to be the exile of one day, but of
seventy years. When therefore so heavy a trial awaited the godly,
the Prophet here wished to prepare them for the laborious warfare:
"We shall then know, and follow on to know Jehovah".
    Then he says, "As the morning shall come to us his going
forth", - a similitude the most appropriate; for here the faithful
call to mind the continued succession of days and nights. No wonder
that God bids us to hope for his grace, the sight of which is yet
hid from us; for except we had learnt by long experience, who could
hope for sudden light when the darkness of night prevails? Should we
not think that the earth is wholly deprived of light? But seeing
that the dawn suddenly shines, and puts an end to the darkness of
night, and dispels it, what wonder is it that the Lord should shine
forth beyond our expectation? His going forth then shall be like the
morning.
    He here calls a new manifestation the going forth of God, that
is, when God shows that he regards his people with favor, when he
shows that he is mindful of the covenant which he made with Abraham;
for as long as the people were exiled from their country, God seemed
not, as we have said, to look on them any more; nay, the judgment of
the flesh only suggested this, that God was far distant from his
people. He then calls it the going forth of God, when God should
show himself propitious to the captives, and should wholly restore
them; then the going forth of God shall come, and shall be like the
morning. We now then see that he confirms them by the order of
nature, as Paul does, when he chides the unbelief of those to whom a
future resurrection seemed incredible, because it surpasses the
thoughts of the flesh; "O fool!" he says, "does thou not see that
what thou sowest first decays and then germinates? God now sets
before thee in a decaying seed an emblem of the future
resurrection." So also in this place, since light daily rises to us,
and the morning shines after the darkness of night, what then will
not the Lord effect by himself, who works so powerfully by material
things? When he will put forth his full power, what, think we, will
he do? Will he not much more surpass all the thoughts of our flesh?
We now then see why this similitude was added.
    He afterwards describes to us the effect of this manifestation,
"He shall come", he says, "as the rain to us, as the late rain, a
rain to the earth". This comparison shows, that as soon as God will
deign to look on his people, his countenance will be like the rain,
which irrigates the earth. When the earth is dry after long heat and
long drought, it seems to be incapable of producing fruit; but rain
restores to it its moisture and vigor. Thus then the Prophet, in the
person of the faithful, does here strengthen the hope of a full
restoration. He shall come to us as the rain, as the late rain.
    The Hebrews call the late rain "malkosh", by which the corn was
ripened. And it seems that the Prophet meant the vernal rain by the
word "geshem". But the sense is clearly this, that though the
Israelites had become so dry that they had no longer any vigor,
there would yet be no less virtue in God's grace than in the rain,
which fructifies the earth when it seems to be barren. But when at
the end he adds, a rain to the earth, I doubt not but that he meant
seasonable rain, which is pleasant and acceptable to the earth, or
which the earth really wants; for a violent shower cannot be called
properly a rain to the earth, because it is destructive and hurtful.
It follows -

Hosea 6:4
O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto
thee? for your goodness [is] as a morning cloud, and as the early
dew it goeth away.

    Some so expound this passage as that God would not once
irrigate his people, but would continue this favor; as though he
said, "He is deceived, who thinks that the redemption, which I bid
you to hope from me, will be momentary, for I will, by a continued
progress, lead my people to a full fruition of salvation." But this
sense is altogether foreign. The Prophet then, no doubts introduces
God here as speaking thus, "What shall I do to you? because ye
cannot receive my favor, so great is your depravity." The context
seems indeed to be in this way broken off; but we must remember this
canon, that whenever the Prophets make known the grace of God, they
at the same time add an exception, lest hypocrites falsely apply to
themselves what is offered to the faithful alone. The Prophets, we
know, never threatened ruin to the people, but that they added some
promise, lest the faithful should despair, which must have been the
case, except some mitigation had been made known to them. Hence the
Prophets do this in common, - they moderate their threatening and
severity by adding a hope of God's favor. But at the same time, as
hypocrites ever draw to themselves what belongs only to the
faithful, and thus heedlessly deride God, the Prophets add another
exception, by which they signify, that God's promise of being
gracious and merciful to his people is not to be deemed universal,
and as appertaining to all indiscriminately.
    I will more fully repeat this again: The Prophets had to do
with the whole people; they had to do with the few faithful, for
there was a small number of godly people among the Israelites as
well as among the Jews. When therefore the Prophets reproved the
people, they addressed the whole body: but at the same time, as
there was some remnant seed, they mingled, as I have said,
consolations, and mingled them, that the elect of God might ever
recumb on his mercy, and thus patiently submit to his rod, and
continue in his fear, knowing that there is in him a sure salvation.
Hence the promises which we see inserted by the Prophets among
threats and chidings, ought not to be referred in common to all, or
indiscriminately to the people, but only, as we have said, to the
faithful, who were then but few in number. This then is the reason
why the prophets shook off self-complacencies from the wicked
despisers of God, when they added, "Ye ought not to hope any
salvation from the promise I set forth to God's children; for God
throws not to dogs the bread which he has destined for his children
alone." In the same strain we find another Prophet speaking, 'To
what end is the day of the Lord to you? It is a day of darkness, and
not of light, a day of death, and not of life,' (Amos 5: 18.) For as
often as they heard of the covenant which God made with Abraham,
that it would not be void, they thus vaunted, "We are now indeed
severely treated, but in a little while God will rescue us from our
evils; for he is our Father, he has not in vain adopted us, he has
not in vain redeemed and chosen our race, we are his peculiar
possession and heritage." Thus then the presumptuous flatter
themselves; and this indeed they seem to have in common with the
faithful; for the faithful also, though in the deepest abyss of
death, yet behold the light of life; for by faith, as we have said,
they penetrate beyond this world. But at the same time they approach
God in real penitence, while the ungodly remain in their
perverseness, and vainly flatter themselves, thinking that whatever
God promises belongs to them.
    Let us now then return to our Prophet. He had said, "In their
tribulation they will seek me:" he had afterwards, in the words used
by the people, explained how the faithful would turn themselves to
God, and what true repentance would bring with it. It now follows,
"What shall I do to thee, Ephraim? what shall I do to thee, Judah?"
that is, "What shall I do to all of you?" The people was now divided
into two kingdoms: the kingdom of Judah had its own name; the ten
tribes had, as it has been said, the common name of Israel. Then
after the Prophet gave hope of pardon to the children of God, he
turns himself to the whole body of the people, which was corrupt,
and says, "What shall I do now to you, both Jews and Israelites?"
Now God, by these words, intimates that he had tried all remedies,
and found them useless: "What more then," he says, "shall I do to
you? Ye are wholly incurable, ye are inexcusable, and altogether
past hope; for no means have been omitted by me, by which I could
promote your salvation; but I have lost all my labour; as I have
effected nothing by punishments and chastisements, as my favor also
has had no account among you, what now remains, but that I must
wholly cast you away?"
    We now then see how varied is the mode of speaking adopted by
the Prophets; for they had to do, not with one class of men, but
with the children of God, and also with the wicked, who continued
obstinately in their vices. Hence then it was, that they changed
their language, and so necessarily. Alike is the complaint we read
in Isaiah, chap. 1, except that there mention is only made of
punishments, 'Why should I strike you more? for I have hitherto
effected nothing: from the sole of the foot to the top of the head
there is no soundness; and yet ye remain like yourselves.' In chap.
5 he speaks of God's favors, 'What could have been done more to my
vineyard than what I have done?' In these two places the Prophet
shows that the people were so lost, that they could not be brought
into a sane mind; for God had in various ways tried to heal them,
and their diseases remained incurable.
    Let us now return to the words of Hosea, "What shall I do to
thee, Ephraim? What shall I do to thee Judah?" "I indeed offer
pardon to all, but ye still continue obstinately in your sins; nay,
my favor is by you scorned: I do not therefore now contend with you;
but declare to you that the door of salvation is closed." Why?
"Because I have hitherto in various ways tried in vain to heal you."
    He afterwards says that their goodness was like the morning
dew, "Your goodness", he says, is as the dew of the morning." Some
take "chesed" for the kindness which God had exercised towards both
the Israelites and the Jews. Then it is, "Your kindness," that is,
the mercy which I have hitherto exhibited to you, "is as the morning
dew, as the cloud which passes away early in the morning", that is,
"Ye immediately dry up my favor;" and this seems not unsuitable, for
we see that the unbelieving by their wickedness absorb the mercy of
God, so that it produces no good, as when rain flows over a rock or
a stone, while the stone within, on account of its hardness, remains
dry. As then the moisture of rain does not penetrate into stones, so
also the grace of God is spent in vain and without advantage on the
unbelieving.
    But the Prophet speaks rather of their goodness, that they made
a show of feigned excellency, which vanished like the morning dew;
for as soon as the sun rises, it draws the dew upwards, so that it
appears no more; the clouds also pass away. The Prophet says that
the Jews and the Israelites were like the morning clouds and the
dew, because there was in them no solid or inward goodness, but it
was only of an evanescent kind; they had, as they say, only the
appearance of goodness.
    We now then perceive the meaning of the Prophet, that God here
complains that he had to do with hypocrites. Faith, we know, is
regarded by him; there is nothing that pleases God more than
sincerity of heart. We know further, that doctrine is spread in
vain, except it be received in a serious manner. Then, as hypocrites
transform themselves in various ways, and make a display of some
guises of goodness, while they have nothing solid in them, God
complains that he loses all his labour: and he says at length that
he will no longer spend labour in vain on hypocritical men, who have
nothing but falsehood and dissimulation; and this is what he means,
when he intimates that he should do nothing more to the Israelites
and the Jews.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that as we do not, by due gratitude, respond to
thy favors, and after having tasted of thy mercy, have willingly
sought ruin to ourselves, - O grant, that we, being renewed by thy
Spirit, may not only remain constant in the fear of thy name, but
also advance more and more and be established; that being thus armed
with thy invincible power, we may strenuously fight against all the
wiles and assaults of Satan, and thus pursue our warfare to the end,
- and that being thus sustained by thy mercy, we may ever aspire to
that life which is hid for us in heaven, through Jesus Christ our
Lord. Amen.

Lecture Seventeenth.

Hosea 6:5
Therefore have I hewed [them] by the prophets; I have slain them by
the words of my mouth: and thy judgments [are as] the light [that]
goeth forth.

    God shows here, by his Prophet, that he was constrained by
urgent necessity to deal sharply and roughly with the people.
Nothing, we know, is more pleasing to God than to treat us kindly;
for there is not found a father in the world who cherishes his
children as tenderly: but we, being perverse, suffer him not to
follow the inclination of his nature. He is therefore constrained to
put on, as it were, a new characters and to chide us severely,
according to the way in which he here says, he had treated the
Israelites; "I have cut them, he says, by my prophets, and killed
them by the words of my mouth".
    Some render the words otherwise, as though God had killed the
Prophets, meaning thereby the impostors, who corrupted the pure
worship of God by their errors. But this view seems not to me in any
way suitable; and we know that it was a common mode of speaking
among the Hebrews, to express the same thing in two ways. So the
Prophet speaks here, I have cut or hewed them by my Prophets, I have
killed them by the cords of my mouth. In the second clause he
repeats, I doubt note what we have already briefly explained,
namely, that God had cut or hewed them by his Prophets.
    But we must see for what purpose God declares here that he had
commanded his Prophets to treat the people roughly. Hypocrites we
indeed know, however much in various ways they mock God, are yet
tender, and cannot bear any rebuke. Their sine are gross, except
when they disguise themselves; but at the same time, when God begins
to reprove, they expostulate and say, "What does this mean? God
everywhere declares that he is kind and merciful; but he fulminates
now against us: this seems not consistent with his nature." Thus
then hypocrites would have God to be their batterer. He now answers,
that he had been constrained, not only for a just cause, but also
necessarily, to kill them, and to make his word by the Prophets like
a hammer or an ax. This is the reason, he says, why my Prophets have
not endeavored mildly and gently to allure the people. For God
kindly and sweetly draws or invites to himself those whom he sees to
be teachable; but when he sees so great a perverseness in men, that
he cannot bend them by his goodness, he then begins, as we have
said, to put on a new character. We now then under stand God's
design: that hypocrites might not complain that they had been
otherwise treated than what is consistent with God's nature, the
Prophet here answers in God's name, "Ye have forced me to this
severity; for there was need of a hard wedge, as they say, for a
hard knot: "I have therefore hewed you by my Prophets, I have hewed
you by the words of my mouth"; that is, I have used my word as an
ax: for ye were like knotty and tough wood; it was therefore
necessary that my word should be to you like an ax: and I have
killed you by the words of my mouth; that is my word has not been
sweet food to you, as it is wont to be to meek men; but it has been
like a two-edged sword; it was therefore necessary to slay you, as
ye would not bear me to be a Father to you."
    It then follows "Thy judgments are light that goes forth". Some
understand by "judgments" prosperity as if God were here reproaching
the Israelites, that it was not his fault that he did not win them:
"I have not neglected to treat you kindly, and under my protection
to defend you; but ye are ungrateful." But this is a strained
exposition. The greater part of interpreters explain the passage
thus, "That thy judgments might be a light going forth." But I do
not see why we should change any thing in the Prophet's words. God
then simply intimates here, that he had made known to the Israelites
the rule of a religious and holy life, so that they could not
pretend ignorance; for the Hebrews often understand "judgments" in
the sense of rectitude. I refer this to the instruction given them:
Thy judgments then, that is, the way of living religiously, was like
light; which means this, "I have so warned you, that you have sinned
knowingly and willfully. Hence, that you have been so disobedient to
me, must be imputed to your perverseness; for when ye were pliant, I
certainly did not conceal from you what was right: for as the sun
daily shines on the earth, so my teaching, has been to you as the
light, to show to you the way of salvation; but it has been with no
profit." We now then understand what the Prophet meant by these
words. It follows -

Hosea 6:6,7
For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God
more than burnt offerings.
But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they
dealt treacherously against me.
    
    God in this place declares that he desires mercy, and not
sacrifices; and he does so to prevent an objections and to
anticipate all frivolous pretenses. There is never wanting to
hypocrites, we well know, a cover for themselves; and so great is
their assurance, that they hesitate not sometimes to contend with
God. It is indeed their common practice to maintain that they
worship God, provided they offer sacrifices to him, provided they
toil in ceremonies, and accumulate many rites. They think then that
God is made bound to them, and that they have fully performed their
duty. This evil has been common in all ages. The Prophet therefore
anticipates this evasion, and says, "Mercy I desire, and not
sacrifice"; as though he said, "I know what you are ready to allege,
and that you will say, that you offer sacrifices to me, that you
perform all the ceremonies; but this excuse is deemed by me
frivolous and of no moment." Why? "Because I desire not sacrifices,
but mercy and faith." We now understand the main object of this
verse.
    It is a remarkable passage; the Son of God has twice quoted it.
The Pharisees reproached him for his intercourse with men of bad and
abandoned life, and he said to them in Matth. chap. 9, 'Mercy I
desire, and not sacrifice:' he shows, by this defense, that God is
not worshipped by external ceremonies, but when men forgive and bear
with one another, and are not above measure rigid. Again, in the
twelfth chapter of Matthew, when the Pharisees blamed the disciples
for gathering ears of corn, he said 'But rather go and learn what
this is, Mercy I desire, and not sacrifice.' Inasmuch as they were
so severe against his disciples, Christ shows that those who make
holiness to consist in ceremonies are foolish worshipers of God; and
that they also blamed their brethren without a cause, and made a
crime of what was not in itself sinful, and what could be easily
defended by any wise and calm expounder.
    But that we may more fully understand this sentence of the
Prophet, it must be observed, firsts that the outward worship of
God, and all legal ceremonies, are included under the name of
sacrifice and burnt-offerings. These words then comprise a part for
the whole. The same may be said of the word "chesed", which means,
mercy or kindness; for the Prophet here, no doubt, sets faith or
piety towards God, and love towards neighbors, in opposition to all
external ceremonies. "I desire," he says, "mercy;" or, "mercy
pleases me more than sacrifice, and the knowledge of God pleases me
more than burnt-offerings." The knowledge of God here is doubtless
to be taken for faith or piety, because hypocrites suppose that God
is rightly worshipped when they use many ceremonies. The Prophet
derides all such pomp and empty show, and says, that the worshipping
of God is far different; it being only done when he is known. The
chief point is, that God desires to be worshipped otherwise than
sensual men dream; for they only display their rites, and neglect
the spiritual worship of God, which stands in faith and love.
    These two clauses ought then to be read conjointly - that
kindness pleases God - and that faith pleases God. Faith by itself
cannot please God, since it cannot even exist without love to our
neighbor; and then, human kindness is not sufficient; for were any
one to abstain from doing any injury, and from hurting his brethren
in any thing, he might be still a profane man, and a despiser of
God; and certainly his kindness would be then of no avail to him. We
hence see that these two sentences cannot be separated, and that
what the Prophet says is equally the same as if he had connected
piety with love. The meaning is, that God values faith and kindness
much more than sacrifices and all ceremonies. But when the Prophet
says that sacrifice does not please God, he speaks, no doubt,
comparatively; for God does not positively repudiate sacrifices
enjoined in his own law; but he prefers faith and love to them; as
we more clearly learn from the particle "mem", when he says,
"me'olot", than burnt-offerings." It then appears that God is not
inconsistent with himself, as though he rejected sacrifices which he
himself had appointed; but that he condemns the preposterous abuse
of them, in which hypocrites gloried.
    And here two things are to be noticed: God requires not
external ceremonies, as if they availed any thing of themselves, but
for a different end. Faith of itself pleases God, as also does love;
for they are, as they say, of the class of good works: but
sacrifices are to be regarded differently; for to kill an ox, or a
calf, or a lamb, what is it but to do what the butcher does in his
shambles? God then cannot be delighted with the slaughter of beasts;
hence sacrifices, as we have said, are of themselves of no account.
Faith and love are different. Hence the Lord says, in Jer. chap. 7,
'Have I commanded your fathers, when I brought them out of Egypt, to
offer sacrifices to me?' no such thing; 'I never commanded them,' he
says, 'but only to hear my voice.' But what does the law in great
measure contain except commands about ceremonies? The answer to this
is easy, and that is, that sacrifices never pleased God through
their own or intrinsic value, as if they had any worth in them. What
then? Even this, that faith and piety are approved, and have ever
been the legitimate spiritual worship of God. This is one thing.
    It is further to be noticed, that when the Prophets reprove
hypocrites, they regard what is suitable to them, and do not
specifically explain the matters which they handle. Isaiah says in
one place, 'He who kills an ox does the same as if he had killed a
dog,' and a dog was the highest abomination; 'nay, they who offer
sacrifices do the same as if they had killed men,' (Isa. 66: 3.)
What! to compare sacrifices with murders! This seems very strange;
but the Prophet directed his discourse to the ungodly, who then
abused the whole outward worship prescribed by the law: no wonder
then that he thus spake of sacrifices. In the same manner also ought
many other passages to be explained, which frequently occur in the
Prophets. We now then see that God does not simply reject
sacrifices, as far as he has enjoined them, but only condemns the
abuse of them. And hence what I have already said ought to be
remembered, that the Prophet here sets external rites in opposition
to piety and faith, because hypocrites tear asunder things which
are, as it were, inseparable: it is an impious divorce, when any one
only obtrudes ceremonies on God, while he himself is void of piety.
But as this disease commonly prevails among men, the Prophet adds a
contrast between this fictitious worship and true religion.
    It is also worthy of being observed, that he calls faith the
knowledge of God. We then see that faith is not some cold and empty
imagination, but that it extends much farther; for it is then that
we have faith, when the will of God is made known to us, and we
embrace it, so that we worship him as our Father. Hence the
knowledge of God is required as necessary to faith. The Papists then
talk very childishly about implicit faith: when a man understands
nothing, and has not even the least acquaintance with God, they yet
say that he is endued with implicit faith. This is a romance more
than foolish; for where there is no knowledge of God, there is no
religion, piety is extinct and faith is destroyed, as it appears
evident from this passage.
    God then subjoins a complaint, - "But they like men have
transgressed the covenant; there have they dealt treacherously
against me". Here God shows that the Israelites boasted in vain of
their sacrifices and of all the pomps of their external worship, for
God did not regard these external things, but only wished to
exercise the faithful in spiritual worship. Then the import of the
whole is this, "My design was, when I appointed the sacrifices and
the whole legal worship, to lead you so to myself, that there might
be nothing carnal or earthly in your sacrificing; but ye have
corrupted the whole law; you have been perverse interpreters; for
sacrifices have been nothing else among you but mockery as if it
were a satisfaction to me to have an ox or a ram killed. You have
then transgressed my covenant; and it is nothing that the people say
to me, that they have diligently performed the outward ceremonies,
for such a worship is not in the least valued by me."
    And he proceeds still farther and says, "There have they dealt
treacherously against me". He had said before, 'They have
transgressed the covenant;' as though he said, "If they wished to
keep my covenant, this was the first thing, - to worship me
spiritually, even in faith and love; but they, having despised true
worship, laid hold only on what was frivolous: they have therefore
violated my covenant." But now he adds, that "there" appeared their
perfidy; yea, that they were convicted of violating their faith, and
shown to be covenant-breakers, by this, - that they abused the
sacred marks by which God had sanctioned his covenant, to cover
their own perfidy. There is then great importance in the adverb
"sham", as if he had said, "In _that_ particular you have acted
perfidiously:" for the Prophet means, that when hypocrites
especially raise their crests, they are convicted of falsehood and
perjury. But how? Because they set forth their own ceremonies, as we
see them introduced as speaking thus in the fifty-eighth chapter of
Isaiah, 'Wherefore have we fasted, and thou hast not regarded?' In
this passage they accuse God of too much rigor, because they lost
all their toil when they worshipped so laboriously, "We have then in
vain spent labour and so diligently worshipped him." God answers:
'Who has required this at your hands?' So also in this place the
Prophet says, and more sharply, There have they dealt treacherously
against me: that is, "They think that my mouth would be stopped by
this defense only, when they brought forward their sacrifices, and,
after their manner, made a great display, as if they were the best
observers of religion; but I will show that in this very thing they
are covenant-breakers." How? "Because there is no falsehood worse
than to turn the truth of God into a lie, and to adulterate his pure
doctrine." And this is what all hypocrites do, when they thus turn
sacraments into gross abuses and false worship, when they build
temples, when they imagine that God is rightly worshipped whenever
an ox or a ram is offered. Since then hypocrites so grossly mock God
and turn away sacrifices from Christ, they turn away from the
doctrine of repentance and faith; in a word, they regard God only as
a dead idol. When then they thus deprave the whole worship of God
and adulterate it, when they so impiously corrupt the word of God
and pervert his institutions, are they not covenant-breakers? There
then they perfidiously acted against me. This ought to be carefully
observed, because it has not been noticed by interpreters.
    Some thus render the word "adam", - "As the covenant of man
have they transgressed it," transferring it to the genitive case,
"And they have transgressed the covenants as if it was that of man;"
that is, as if they had to do with a mortal man, so have they
despised and violated my holy covenant; and this exposition is not
very unsuitable, except that it somewhat changes the construction;
for in this case the Prophet ought to have said, "They have
transgressed the covenant as that of a man;" but he says, 'They as a
mere,' &c. But this rendering is far from being that of the words as
they are, 'They as men have transgressed the covenant.' I therefore
interpret the words more simply, as meaning, that they showed
themselves to be men in violating the covenant.
    And there is here an implied contrast or comparison between God
and the Israelites; as though he said, "I have in good faith made a
covenant with them, when I instituted a fixed worship; but they have
been men towards me; there has been in them nothing but levity and
inconstancy." God then shows that there had not been a mutual
concord between him and the Israelites, as men never respond to God;
for he sincerely calls them to himself, but they act unfaithfully,
or when they have given some proof of obedience, they soon turn back
again, or despise and openly reject the offered instruction. We then
see in what sense the Prophet says that they had transgressed the
covenant of God as men.
    Others explain the words thus, "They have transgressed as Adam
the covenant." But the word, Adam, we know, is taken indefinitely
for men. This exposition is frigid and diluted, "They have
transgressed as Adam the covenant;" that is, they have followed or
imitated the example of their father Adam, who had immediately at
the beginning transgressed God's commandment. I do not stop to
refute this comment; for we see that it is in itself vapid. Let us
now proceed -

Hosea 6:8
Gilead [is] a city of them that work iniquity, [and is] polluted
with blood.
    
    I shall first speak of the subject, and then something shall be
added in its place of the words. The Prophet here notices, no doubt,
something special against Gilead, which through the imperfection of
history is now to us obscure. But in the first place, we must
remember, that Gilead was one of the cities of refuge; and the
Levites possessed these cities, which were destined for fugitives.
If any one killed a man by chance, that the relatives might not take
revenge, the Lord provided that he should flee to one of these
cities appointed for his safety. He was there safe among the
Levites: and the Levites received him under their protection, the
matter being previously tried; for a legal hearing of the cause must
have preceded as to whether he who had killed a man was innocent. We
must then first remember that this city was occupied by the Levites
and the priests; and they ought to have been examples to all others;
for as Christ calls his disciples the light of the world, so the
Lord had chosen the priests for this purpose, that they might carry
a torch before all the people. Since then the highest sanctity ought
to have shone forth in the priests, it was quite monstrous that they
were like robbers, and that the holy city, which was as it were the
sanctuary of God, became a den of thieves.
    It was then for this reason that the Prophet especially
inveighs against the city Gilead, and says "Gilead is a city of the
workers of iniquity, and is covered with blood". But if Gilead was
so corrupt, what must have been the case with the other cities? It
is then the same as if the Prophet had said, "Where shall I begin?
If I reprove the people indiscriminately, the priests will then
think that they are spared, because they are innocent; yea, that
they are wholly without blame: nay," he says, "the priests are the
most abandoned, they are even the ringleaders of robbers. Since then
so great corruptions prevail among the order of priests, in whom the
highest sanctity ought to have shone forth, how great must be the
licentiousness of the people in all kinds of wickedness? And then
what must be said of other cities, since Gilead is so bad, which God
has consecrated for a peculiar purpose, that it might be a sort of
sanctuary? Since then Gilead is a den of robbers, what must be the
other cities?" We now comprehend the meaning of the Prophet.
    "Polluted with blood," "'akubah midam": "akav" in Hebrew, means
"to deceive," and also, "to hold" or "retain." "'Akev" is the sole
of the foot; hence "'akav" signifies "to supplant." And there is no
doubt but that "to deceive" is its meaning metaphorically. I will
now come to the meaning of the Prophet; he says that the city was
"'akubah midam"; some say, "deceptive in blood," because they did
not openly kill men, but by lying in wait for them; and hence they
elicit this sense. But I approve more of what they hold who say,
that the city was "full of blood;" not that such is the strict sense
of the Hebrew word; but we may properly render it, "occupied by
blood." Why so? Because "'akav", as I have said, means sometimes to
hold, to stay, and to hinder. We may then properly and fitly say,
that Gilead was "occupied" or "possessed by blood." But here follows
a clearer and a fuller explanation of this sentence -

Hosea 6:9
And as troops of robbers wait for a man, [so] the company of priests
murder in the way by consent: for they commit lewdness.

    The Prophet pursues more at large what he had briefly touched;
for he does, not now confine himself to the common people, but
directs his accusation against the sacerdotal order. "See," he says,
"the priests conspire among themselves like robbers, that they may
slay wretched men, who may meet them in the way." It is indeed
certain that the Prophet speaks not here of open murders; for it is
not credible that the priests had proceeded into so great a
licentiousness, that Gilead had become a slaughter-house. But the
Prophets, we know, are thus wont to speak, whenever they upbraid men
with being sanguinary and cruel; they compare them to robbers, and
that justly. Hence he says, "The faction of the priests kill men in
the way", as if they were robbers conspiring together. And then he
shows that the priests were so void of every thing like the fear of
God, that they perpetrated every kind of cruelty as if they were
wholly given to robberies. This is the meaning.
    The word "shechmah" is no doubt taken by the Prophet for
"consent." What is meant by "shechem" is properly the "shoulder;"
but it is metaphorically changed into the sense which I have
mentioned; as it is in the third chapter of Zephaniah, 'They shall
serve the Lord "shechem echad", with one shoulder;' that is, "with
one consent." So also in this place, the priests conspire together
"shechmah" ,with consent." For they who think that the name of a
place is intended are much mistaken.
    Now in the last clause of the verse it is made evident why the
Prophet had said that the priests were like robbers, 'because,' he
says, 'they do the thought,' or 'wickedness.' The verb to "zamam"
signifies "to think," as it has been already said: hence "zimah" is
"thought" in general; but is often taken by the Hebrews in a bad
sense, for a "bad design," or "wicked trick:" They do then their
conceived wickedness. We hence learn that they were not open
robbers, and publicly infamous in the sight of men, but that they
were robbers before God, because the city was full of wicked
devices, which were there concocted; and since they executed their
schemes, it is justly said of them by the Prophet, that they
imitated the licentiousness of robbers. Let us now go on -

Hosea 6:10,11
I have seen an horrible thing in the house of Israel: there [is] the
whoredom of Ephraim, Israel is defiled.
Also, O Judah, he hath set an harvest for thee, when I returned the
captivity of my people.
    
    Here God declares that he is the fit judge to take cognizance
of the vices of Israel; and this he does, that he might cut off the
handle of vain excuses, which hypocrites often adduce when they are
reproved. Who indeed can at this day persuade the Papists that all
their worship is a filthy abomination, a mere profanation? We see
how furiously they rise up as soon as any one by a whisper dares to
touch their superstitions. Whence this? Because they wish their own
will to stand for reason. Why? Good intention, they say, is the
judge; as if this good intention were, forsooth, the queen, who
ought to rule in heaven and earth, and God were now excluded from
all his rights. This fury and this madness, even at this day,
possess the Papists; and no wonder, for Satan dementates men, when
he leads them to corrupt and degenerated forms of worship, and all
hypocrites have been thus inebriated from the beginning. This then
is the reason why the Prophet now says in the person of God, "I have
seen", or do see, "infamy in the kingdom of Israel". God does here
by one word lay prostrate whatever men may set up for themselves,
and shows that there remains no more defense for what he declares he
does not approve, however much men may value and applaud it. "What!
you think this to be my worship; and in your imagination, this is
most holy religion, this is the way of salvation, this is
extraordinary sanctity; but I on the contrary declare, that it is
profanation, that it is turpitude, that it is infamy. Go now," he
says, "pass elsewhere your fopperies, with me they are of no value."
    We now understand the meaning of the Prophet, when he says, "In
the house of Israel have I seen infamy": and by the house of Israel
the Prophet means the whole kingdom of the ten tribes. How so?
"Because there is the fornication of Ephraim"; that is, there
idolatry reigns, which Jeroboam introduced, and which the other
kings of Israel followed.
    Thus we see that the Prophet spared neither the king, nor his
counselors, nor the princes of the kingdom; and he did not spare
before the priests. And this magnanimity becomes all God's servants,
so that they cast down every height that rises up against the word
of the Lord; as it was said to Ezekiel, 'Chide mountains and reprove
hills,' (Ezek. 6: 2; 36: 1.) An example of this the Prophet sets
before us, when he compares priests to robbers, and then compares
royal temples to a brothel. Jeroboam had built a temple in which he
thought that God would be in the best manner worshipped; but this,
says the Prophet, is a brothel, this is filthy fornication.
    Then he adds, "Judah also has set a plantation for thee". That
I may finish the chapter, I will briefly notice this verse.
Interpreters render it thus, "Also Judah, thou hast set for thyself
an harvest:" but the verb, as it is evident, is in the third person;
it cannot then be rendered otherwise than, 'Also Judah has set.'
They who render it in the second person, "Thou hast set for thyself
an harvest," elicit this sense, "Thou also Judah, whom I have chosen
for myself, hast set for thyself an harvest, that is, thou hast
prepared a miserable harvest for thyself; for thou sowest
ungodliness, whose fruit thou shalt hereafter gather:" but this is
strained. Now since the word "katsir" signifies in Hebrew not only
"harvest," but also "a plant," it may properly be so taken in this
place, "Also Judah, while I was returning the captivity of my
people, did set for himself a plant"; that is, he propagated his own
impieties. God indeed addresses here the Israelites, and complains
of Judah; for the Jews, we know, were retained by the Lord, when the
ten tribes separated. This defection of the ten tribes did not cause
religion to fail wholly among the whole people. There remained the
pure worship of God, at least as to the outward form, at Jerusalem.
The Lord then complains not here of Judah without a cause. He had
said before, 'Judah shall be saved by his God;' but now he says,
'Judah also has set for himself a plant;' that is, "superstitions
have been long and widely enough springing up among all Israel, they
have spread through all the corners of the land: and now Judah
also," he says, "is planting his own shoots, for he draws the
Israelites to himself;" there is therefore a new propagation, and
this is done, "While I am returning the captivity of my people";
that is, "while I am seeking to restore the scattering of my
people."
    In a word, God shows here that there was no part any longer
whole. When one undertakes the cure of a diseased body, and when he
sees at least some parts whole, he has some hope of applying a
remedy; but when not even a finger remains sound, what can the
physician do? So also the Lord says in this place, "There was at
least some hope of Judah, for some form of my worship remained
there, and the purer teaching of the law continued; out now Judah
propagates superstitions for Israel; observing that the whole land
of Israel is full of superstitions, he takes from thence shoots and
slips, and corrupts the remaining portion of the land, which has
hitherto remained sacred to me." We now perceive, as I think, the
genuine meaning of the Prophet.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that as we are prone to every kind of
wickedness, and are so easily led away to imitate it, when there is
any excuse for going astray and any opportunity is offered, - O
grant, that being strengthened by the help of thy Spirit, we may
continue in purity of faith, and that what we have learnt concerning
thee, that thou art a Spirit, may so profit us, that we may worship
thee in spirit and with a sincere heart, and never turn aside after
the corruptions of the world, nor think that we can deceive thee;
but may we so devote our souls and bodies to thee, that our life may
in every part of it testify, that we are a pure and holy sacrifice
to thee in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
    
Lecture Eighteenth.

Chapter 7.

Hosea 7:1
When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was
discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria: for they commit
falsehood; and the thief cometh in, [and] the troop of robbers
spoileth without.
    
    God, that he might show how corrupt was the state of all the
people of Israel, compares himself here to a physician, who, while
he wishes to try remedies, acknowledges that there are hid more
grievous diseases; which is often the case. When a sick person sends
for a physician, his disease will be soon discovered; but it may be
that he has for many years labored under other hidden complaints,
which do not immediately come to the knowledge of the physician. He
may indeed think that the symptoms of the disease are those which
proceed from a source more hidden; but on the third or fourth days
after having tried some remedies he then knows that there is some
hidden malady. God then says, that by applying remedies he had found
out how corrupt Israel was, "While I was healing my people", he
says, "then I knew what was the iniquity of Samaria and of all
Ephraim".
    By Samaria he means the principal part of the kingdom; for that
city, as it is well known, was the capital and the chief seat of
government. The Prophet therefore says, that the iniquities of
Samaria were then discovered to be, not common, but inveterate
diseases. This is the meaning. We now see what God had in view; for
the people might deceive themselves, as it often happens, and say,
"We are not indeed wholly free from every vice; but God ought not
however to punish us so severely, for what nation is there under the
sun which does not labour under the common diseases?" But the
Prophet here answers, that the people of Israel were so corrupt,
that light remedies would not do for them. God then here undertakes
the office of a physician, and says, "I have hitherto wished to heal
Israel, and this was my design, when I hewed them by my Prophets,
and employed my word as a sword; and afterwards when I added
chastisements; but now I have found that their wickedness is greater
than can be corrected by such remedies." The inequity of Ephraim
then has been discovered, he says, and then I perceived the vices of
Samaria.
    Now this place teaches, that though the vices of men do not
immediately appear, yet they who deceive themselves, and disguise
themselves to others, gain nothing, nor are they made free before
God, and their fault is not lessened, nor are they absolved from
guilt; for at last their hidden vices will come to light: and this
especially happens, when the Lord performs the office of a physician
towards them; for we see that men then cast out their bitterness,
when the Lord seeks to heal their corruptions. Under the papacy,
even those who are the worst conceal their own vices. How so?
Because God does not try them; there is no teaching that cauterizes
or that draws blood. As then the Papists rest quietly in their own
dregs, their perverseness does not appear. But in other places,
where God puts forth the power of his word, and where he speaks
effectually by his servants, there men show what great impiety was
before hid in them; for in full rage they rise up against God, and
they cannot bear any admonition. As soon then as God begins to do
the office of a physician, men then discover their diseases. And
this is the reason why the world so much shun the light of heavenly
doctrine; for he who does evil hates the light, (John 3: 20.) We may
also observe the same as to chastisements. When God indulges the
wicked, they then with the mouth at least bless him; but when he
begins to punish their sins they clamour against him and are angry,
and at length show how much fury was before hid in their hearts. We
now see what the Prophet here lays to the charge of the people of
Israel. It may also be observed at this day through the whole world,
that the curing of diseases discovers evils which were before
unknown.
    But we have said, and this ought to be borne in mind, that
Ephraim is here expressly named by the Prophet, and also the city,
Samaria, because he wished to intimate that their diseases were
inveterate, existing not only in the extreme members, but deeply
fixed in the head and bowels, and occupying the vital parts. It then
follows, "Because they have acted mendaciously, or, done falsely.
The Prophet signifies by this expression, that there was nothing
sound in the whole people, because they were addicted to their own
depravities. By the word "sheker", he means every kind of falseness,
that is, that men were thoroughly imbued with depraved lusts, and
that there was now remaining in them nothing sound or whole. This
then is the main point, that the wickedness of the people was
discovered, and that it could not be cured by moderate severity,
because it had penetrated into the very bowels and spread over the
whole body.
    What follows interpreters are wont to regard as the punishment
which God had already inflicted. The Prophet says "The thief has
entered in, and the robber has plundered without". They therefore
think that this is to be referred to the manner in which God had
already begun by punishment to recall the people to a sound mind; as
though he said, "You have been pillaged by thieves as well as
harassed by robbers." But I rather think that the Prophet here
pursues the same subject, and shows that the people were inwardly
and outwardly so infected with vices, that there was now no whole
part; and that by mentioning a part for the whole, he here
designates every kind of evil, for he specifies two kinds which may
stand for all things in general. He therefore says, "The thief has
entered in", that is, stealthily, and does mischief insidiously, or
even openly like robbers, who use open violence; which means, that
impiety so prevailed, either by frauds or by open war, that they
were in every way corrupt. But when he says, that the thief had
entered in, he means, that many of the people were like foxes, who
craftily do mischief; and when he says, that the robber had
plundered abroad, he means that others, like lions, seized openly
and without shame on what belonged to others, and thus by open force
stripped and plundered the miserable and the poor.
    We now apprehend the meaning of the Prophet. Having said that
the Israelites and the citizens of Samaria had conducted themselves
so deceitfully, he now, by specifying two things, shows how they had
departed from all uprightness, and prostituted themselves to every
kind of wickedness; because where violence reigned, there also
frauds and all kinds of evil reigned. The thief then had entered in,
and the robber plundered abroad; that is, they secretly circumvented
their neighbors, and also went forth like robbers openly and without
any shame. It then follows -

Hosea 2:2
Plead with your mother, plead: for she [is] not my wife, neither
[am] I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of
her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts;

    The Prophet shows here that the Israelites had advanced to the
highest summit of all wickedness; for they thought that no account
was ever to be given by them to God. Hence arises the contempt of
God; that is, when men imagine that he is, as it were, sleeping in
heaven, and that he rests from every work. They dare not indeed to
deny God, and yet they take from him what especially belongs to his
divinity, for they exclude him from the office of being a judge.
Hence then it is that men allow themselves so much liberty, because
they imagine that they have made a truce with God; yea, they think
that they can do any thing with impurity, as if they had made a
covenant with death and hell, as Isaiah says, (Isa. 28: 15.) Of this
sottishness then does the Prophet here arraign the Israelites, "They
have not said", he says, "in their heart, that I remember all their
wickedness"; that is, "They so audaciously mock me, as though I were
not the judge of the world; they consider not that all things are in
my sight, and that nothing is hid from me. Since then they suppose
me to be like a dead idol, they have no fear, nay, they abandon
themselves to every wickedness."
    He then adds, "Now their wicked deeds have surrounded them",
for
"they are in my sight"; that is, "Though they promise impunity to
themselves, and flatter themselves in their hypocrisy, all their
works are yet before me; and thus they surround them;" that is,
"They shall at last perceive that they are infolded in their own
sins, and that no escape will be open to them." We now understand
the object of the Prophet; for after having complained of the
stupidity of the people, he now says that they thus flattered
themselves with no advantage, because God is not in the meantime
blind. Though then they think that a veil is drawn over their sins,
they are yet mistaken; for all their sins are in my sight, and this
they themselves shall at last find out by experience, because their
sins will surround or besiege them.
    Let us learn from this place, that nothing ought to be more
feared than that Satan should so fascinate us as to make us to think
that God rests idly in heaven. There is nothing that can stir us up
more to repentance, than when we adorn God with his own power, and
be persuaded that he is the judge of the world, and also when we
walk as in his sight, and know that our sins cannot come to
oblivion, except when he buries them by pardon. This then is what
the Prophet teaches in the first part of the verse. Now when we
imagine that we have peace with God, and with death and hell, as
Isaiah says in the place we have quoted, the prophet teaches that
God is yet awake, and that his office cannot be taken from him, for
he knows whatever is carried on in this world; and that this will at
length be made openly known, when our sins shall surround us, as it
is also said in the fourth chapter of Genesis, 'Sin will lie down at
thy door.' For we may for a time imagine that we have many escapes
or at least hiding-places; but God will at length show that all this
is in vain, for he will come upon us, and has no need of forces,
procured from this or that quarter; we shall have enemies enough in
our own vices, for we shall be besieged by them no otherwise than if
God were to arm the whole world against us. Let us go on -

Hosea 7:3
They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with
their lies.

    The Prophet now arraigns all the citizens of Samaria, and in
their persons the whole people, because they rendered obedience to
the king by flattery, and to the princes in wicked things,
respecting which their own conscience convicted them. He had already
in the fifth chapter mentioned the defection of the people in this
respect, that they had obeyed the royal edict. It might indeed have
appeared a matter worthy of praise, that the people had quietly
embraced what the king commanded. This is the case with many at this
day, who bring forward a pretext of this kind. Under the papacy they
dare not withdraw themselves from their impious superstitions, and
they adduce this excuse, that they ought to obey their princes. But,
as I have already said, the Prophet has before condemned this sort
of obedience, and now he shows that the defection which then reigned
through all Israel, ought not to be ascribed to the king or to few
men, but that it was a common evil, which involved all in one and
the same guilt, without exception. How so? "By their wickedness", he
says, "they have exhilarated the king, and by their lies the
princes"; that is, If they wish to cast the blame on their
governors, it will be done in vain; for whence came then such a
promptitude? As soon as Jeroboam formed the calves, as soon as he
built temples, religion instantly collapsed, and whatever was before
pure, degenerated; how was the change so sudden? Even because the
people had inwardly concocted their wickedness, which, when an
occasion was offered, showed itself; for hypocrisy did lie hid in
all, and was then discovered. We now perceive what the Prophet had
in view.
    And this place ought to be carefully noticed: for it often
happens that some vice creeps in, which proceeds from one man or
from a few; but when all readily embrace what a few introduce, it is
quite evident that they have no living root of piety or of the fear
of God. They then who are so prone to adopt vices were before
hypocrites; and we daily find this to be the case. When pious men
have the government of a city, and act prudently, then the whole
people will give some hope that they will fear the Lord; and when
any king, influenced by a desire of advancing the glory of God,
endeavors to preserve all his subjects in the pure worship of God,
then the same feeling of piety will be seen in all: but when an
ungodly king succeeds him, the greater part will immediately fall
back again; and when a magistrate neglects his duty, the greater
portion of the people will break out into open impiety. I wish there
were no proofs of these things; but throughout the world the Lord
has designed that there should exist examples of them.
    This purpose of God ought therefore to be noticed; for he
accuses the people of having made themselves too obsequious and
pliant. When king Jeroboam set up vicious worship, the people
immediately offered themselves as ready to obey: hence impiety
became quite open. They then "delighted the king by their
wickedness, and the princes by their lies"; as though he said, "They
cannot transfer the blame to the king and princes. Why? Because they
delighted them by their wickedness; that is, they haltered the king
by their wickedness and delighted the princes by their lies." It
follows -

Hosea 7:4
They [are] all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker, [who]
ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be
leavened.

    The Prophet pursues the same subject in this verse: he says
that they were all adulterers. This similitude has already been
often explained. He speaks not here of common fornication, but calls
them adulterers, because they had violated their faith pledged to
God, because they gave themselves up to filthy superstitions, and
also, because they had wholly corrupted themselves, for faith and
sincerity of heart constitute spiritual chastity before God. When
men become corrupt in their whole life, and degenerate from the pure
worship of God, they are justly deemed adulterers. In this sense
does the Prophet now say, that they were all adulterers, and thus he
confirms what I have said before, that as to the corruptions which
then prevailed, it was not few men who had been drawn into them, but
that the whole people were implicated in guilt; for "they were all
adulterers". To say that they had been deceived by the king, that
they had been forced by authority, that they had been compelled by
the tyranny of their princes, would have been vain and frivolous,
for "all" of them were "adulterers".
    He afterwards compares them to a furnace or an oven, "They
are", he says, "as a furnace or an oven, heated by the baker, who
ceases from stirring up until the meal kneaded is well fermented".
The Prophet by this similitude shows more clearly, that the people
were not corrupted by some outward impulse, but by their own
inclination and propensity of mind; yea, by a mad and furious desire
of acting wickedly. He had previously said that they had willfully
sinned, when they readily embraced the edict of the king; but now he
goes still farther and says that they had been set on fire by an
inward sinful instinct, and were like a hot oven. Then he adds that
this had not been a sudden impulse, as it sometimes happens; but
that it had so continued, that they were confirmed in their
wickedness. When he says, that adulterers are like a burning oven,
he means, that their defection had not only been voluntary, so that
the blame was in themselves; but that they had also ardently seized
on the occasion of sinning, and had been heated, as an hot oven. The
ungodly often restrain their desires, and suppress them when no
occasion is presented, but give vent to them when they have the
opportunity of sinning with impunity. So God now declares that the
people of Israel had not only been prone to defection, but had also
greedily desired it, so that their madness was like a burning flame.
    But a third thing follows, and that is, that this fire had not
been suddenly lighted up, but had been for a long time gathering
strength. Hence he says "As an oven heated by the baker, who
ceases", he says, "from stirring up after the shaking or mixing of
the meal, until it be fermented. "Lush" means "to besprinkle,"
"empaster" is what they say here. Some foolishly hold that they were
like those who sleep and afterwards awake early in the morning. But
the Prophet had a different thing in view, and that was, that by
length of time their wickedness had increased, and, as it were, by
degrees. He means, in short, that they had not been under a sudden
impulse, like men who often break out through want of thought, and
immediately repent; and their lust, which had been in a moment set
on fire, in a short time abates. The Prophet says, that the frenzy
of the people of Israel had been different; for they had been like
an oven, which the baker, after having lighted up, allows to grow
quite hot even to the highest degree; for he waits while the dough
is becoming well fermented. It was not then the intemperance and
lust of a few days; but they made their hearts quite hot, as when a
baker heats his oven, and puts in a great quantity of fuel, that
after a time it may become heated, while the dough is fermenting.
    The word "me'ir", "from stirring up," is to be taken for
"meha'ir"; for what some say, that the baker rested from the city,
that is, to manage public affairs, is frigid. Others render it thus,
"He rests from the city," so as not to be a citizen, - to what
purpose? There is then no doubt but that the Prophet here pursues
his own similitudes which he will again shortly repeat. It follows -

Hosea 7:5
In the day of our king the princes have made [him] sick with bottles
of wine; he stretched out his hand with scorners.
    
    The Prophet here reproves especially the king and his
courtiers. He had spoken of the whole people, and showed that the
filth of evils was every where diffused: but he now relates how
strangely the king and his courtiers ruled. Hence he says, "The day
of our king! the princes have made him sick"; that is, so great has
been the intemperance of excess, that the king himself became sick
through too much drinking, and extended his hand to mockers. In
short, the Prophet means, that the members of government in the
kingdom of Israel had become so corrupt, that in the hall or palace
of the king there was no regard for decency, and no shame.
    By "the day of the king," some understand his birth-day; and we
know that it has been a very old custom even for the common people
to celebrate their birth-day. Others refer it to the day of
coronation, which is more probable. Some take it for the very
beginning of his reign, which seems strained. "The day of our king!"
that is "Our king is now seated on his throne, he has now undertaken
the government of the kingdom; let us then feast plentifully, and
glut ourselves with eating and drinking." This sense suits well; but
I do not know whether it can bear the name of day; he calls it "the
day of the king". I would then rather adopt their opinion, who
explain it as the annual day of coronation: The day then of our
king. There are yet interpreters, who render the sentence thus, "In
the day the princes have made the king sick;" but I make this
separation in it, "The day of the king! the princes have made him
sick".
    It was not indeed sinful or blamable to celebrate yearly the
memory of the coronation; but then the king ought to have stirred up
himself and others to give thanks to God; the goodness of the Lord,
in preserving the kingdom safe, ought to have been acknowledged at
the end of the year; the king ought also to have asked of God the
spirit of wisdom and strength for the future, that he might
discharge rightly his office. But the Prophet shows here that there
was nothing then in a sound state; for they had turned into gross
abuse what was in itself, as I have said, useful. The day then of
our king - how is it spent? Does the king humbly supplicate pardon
before God, if he has done any thing unworthy of his station, if in
any thing he has offended? Does he give thanks that God has hitherto
sustained him by his support? Does he prepare himself for the future
discharge of his duty? No such thing; but the princes indulge
excess, and stimulate their king; yea, they so overcome him with
immoderate drinking, that they make him sick. This then, he says, is
their way of proceeding; nothing royal now appears in the king's
palace, or even worthy of men; for they abandon themselves like
beasts to drunkenness, and so great intemperance prevails among
them, that they ruin the king himself with a bottle of wine.
    Some render this, "a flagon;" "chamat" means properly a bottle;
and we know that wine was then preserved in bottles, as the
Orientals do to this day. Then "with a bottle of wine", with
immoderate drinking, they made the king sick.
    He then says, that the king "stretched forth his hand to
scorners"; that is, forgetting himself, he retained no gravity, but
became like a buffoon, and indecently mixed with worthless men. For
the Prophet, I doubt not, calls those "scorners," who, having cast
away all shame, indulge in buffoonery and wantonness. He therefore
says, that the king held forth his hand to scorners, as a proof of
friendship. As he was then the companion of buffoons and worthless
men, he had cast away from him everything royal which he ought to
have had. This is the meaning. The Prophet, therefore, deplores this
corruption, that there was no longer any dignity or decency in the
king and his princes, being wholly given, as they were, to excess
and drunkenness; yea, they turned sacred days into this abuse, when
the king ought to have conducted himself in a manner worthy of the
rank of the highest honor: he prostituted himself to every kind of
wantonness, and his princes were his leaders and encouragers. This
so great a depravity the Prophet now deplores. It follows -

Hosea 7:6
For they have made ready their heart like an oven, whiles they lie
in wait: their baker sleepeth all the night; in the morning it
burneth as a flaming fire.
    
    Here the Prophet says, that the Israelites did secretly, and by
hidden means, prepare their hearts for deeds of evil; and he takes
up nearly the same similitude as he did a little while before,
though for a different purpose; for he says that they had prepared
their hearts secretly, as the baker puts fire in the night in his
oven, and then rests, and in the morning the oven is well heated,
having attained heat sufficient to bake the bread. The oven becomes
hot in the morning, though the baker sleeps. How so? Because an
abundance of fuel had been put together, so that it is heated by the
morning. Hence nocturnal rest does not prevent the fire from making
hot the oven, when it has a sufficient quantity of fuel, when the
baker has so filled his oven, that the fire cannot be extinguished,
nor be gradually smothered. When the baker has thus set in order an
heap of wood, he then securely rests, for the fire can continue
until the morning. We now then see the design of the Prophet.
    "They have prepared", he says, "their hearts insidiously"; that
is, though they have not at first made evident their wickedness,
they have yet previously prepared their hearts, as the oven is
lighted up, or as the furnace is heated before the bread is
prepared; nay, there is no need of much bustle, -  there is no need
of much noise when the baker lights up his oven, for he prepares the
wood, and then he goes to rest; and, in the meantime, while he
sleeps all the night, the fire is burning. So also they, though all
do not perceive their wickedness, they have yet, in the meantime,
heated their hearts like an oven; that is, evil deeds have, by
degrees and during a long period of time, been conceived by them,
before they came forth into open acts of wickedness.
    We hence see that the similitude of an oven is set forth here
by the Prophet in a sense different from what it had been before;
and this ought to be noticed, because interpreters heedlessly pass
over this wholly, as if the Prophet meant in both places the same
thing. But the meaning, as it is evident, is far different. For he
intended only, in the first instance, to reprove the mad lust with
which they were burning; but he now speaks of their plots and
concealed frauds; that is, that the Israelites before openly showed
themselves to be ungodly and wicked, but that they were now wicked
before God. How so? Because they were now like an oven lighted up in
the night; for as the baker, having closed the door of his house,
puts in fire, while none perceive that the furnace or the oven is
being heated; so also the people fed and nourished their wickedness
before God; and afterwards, in course of time, it broke forth
openly, whenever an opportunity was offered.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that since thou hast once shone upon us by thy
gospel, - O grant, that we may always be guided by this light, and
so guided, that all our lusts may be restrained; and may the power
of thy Spirit extinguish in us every sinful fervor, that we may not
grow hot with our own perverse desires, but that all these being
subdued, we may gather new fervor daily, that we may breathe after
thee more and more: nor let the coldness of our flesh ever take
possession of us, but may we continually advance in the way of
piety, until at length we come to that blessed rest, to which thou
invites us, and which has been obtained for us by the blood of thy
only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Lecture Nineteenth.

Hosea 7:7
They are all hot as an oven, and have devoured their judges; all
their kings are fallen: [there is] none among them that calleth unto
me.
    
    The Prophet repeats what he had said before, that the
Israelites were carried away by a mad zeal into their own
superstitions and wicked practices, and could not be allayed or
quieted by any remedies; and he shows at the same time that this
malady or intemperance raged in the whole people, lest the vulgar
should accuse a few men, as if they were the authors of all the
wickedness. He gives proof of their frenzy, because they could not
have been hitherto amended by any corrections. "They have eaten", he
says, "their own judges; their kings have fallen; and in the
meantime not one of them cries to me". What the Prophet says here I
refer to good kings, or to those who were able to uphold an ordinary
government among the people. He says that judges as well as kings
had fallen; by which words he means, that the Israelites had been
deprived of good and wise governors; and this was a sad and
miserable disorder to the people; it was the same as if the head
were taken from the body. He says, in short, that the body was
mangled and mutilated, because the Lord had taken away the kings and
judges. We indeed know that kings in continual succession reigned
among the Israelites; but we must consider of what kings the Prophet
here speaks.
    But let us now notice what he says: "Judges have been
devoured". Some hold that the people through their wantonness had
risen up against their judges, and, as if freed from all laws, had
by main force upset all order; but this seems to me strained. The
Prophet, I doubt not, means that the judges had been devoured,
because the people had through their own fault made, as it were,
entirely void the favor of God, as it often happens daily. God
indeed so begins to do good, that he intends to continue his
benefits to us to the end; but we devour his benefits; for we dry
up, as it were, the fountain of his goodness, which would otherwise
be exhaustless and perpetually flow to us. As then the goodness of
God, which is otherwise inexhaustible, is in a manner dried up to
us, when we allow it not to approach us; it is in this sense that
the Prophet now complains that judges had been devoured by the
Israelites; for through their impiety they had been deprived of this
singular kindness of God; and they had consumed it, as rust or some
other fault in brass destroys good fruit. We now comprehend the
meaning of this verse.
    God first shows that the Israelites were so ardent, that their
frenzy could not be corrected or quieted. How so? "I have tried," he
says, "whether their disease was healable; for I have taken away
their kings and governors, which was no obscure sign of my
displeasure: but I have effected nothing." Then it follows, "'ein
kore' bahem 'elai", "There is no one, he says, among them who cries
to me". He had said that all were burning with the lust of
committing sin; now, accusing their stupidity, he excepts none. We
hence see that the whole people were so seized with frenzy, that
when chastised by God's hand, they did not yet cry to him. It is
indeed certain that the Israelites did cry, but without repentance;
and it is usual with hypocrites to howl when God punishes them; but
they yet direct not to him their supplications and their groans, for
their heart is locked up by obstinacy. Thus then ought this clause
to be expounded, that they repented not, nor fled to God for mercy.
Then it follows -

Hosea 7:8
Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake
not turned.
    
    God now complains, that Ephraim, whom he had chosen to be a
peculiar possession to himself, differed nothing from other nations.
The children of Abraham, we know, had been adopted by God for this
end, that they might not be like the heathens: for the calling of
God brings holiness with it. And we ought to remember that memorable
sentence, which often occurs, 'Be ye holy, for I am holy.' The
Israelites then ought to have been mindful of their calling, and to
resolve to worship God purely, and not to pollute themselves with
the defilements and filth of the Gentiles. But God says here that
Ephraim differed now nothing from the uncircumcised nations. He
mingles himself, he says, with the peoples. And there is an emphasis
to be noticed in the pronoun demonstrative, "hu'", "Ephraim
himself", he says: for surely this was unworthy and by no means to
be endured, that Ephraim, on whom God had engraven the mark of his
election, was now entangled in the superstitions of the Gentiles. We
now then see the drift of the Prophet's words, "He, even Ephraim,
mingles himself with the nations". If the condition of Israel and of
all the nations had been alike and equal, the Prophet would not have
thus spoken; but as God had designed Ephraim to be holy to himself;
the Prophet here amplifies his sin, when he says that even Ephraim
had mingled himself with the nations.
    He then adds, "Ephraim is like bread baked under the ashes,
which is not turned". This metaphor most fitly suits the meaning of
the Prophet and the circumstances of this passage, provided it be
rightly understood. And I think the Prophet simply meant this, that
Ephraim was in nothing fixed, but was inconstant and changeable; as,
when we in vulgar language notify their changeableness who are not
consistent with themselves, and in whom there is no sincerity, we
say, "Il n'est ne chair ne poisson", (It is neither flesh nor fish.)
So also in this place the Prophet says, that Ephraim was like a cake
burnt on one side, and was on the other doughy, or a crude and
unbaked lump of paste. For Ephraim, we know, boasted themselves to
be a people sacred to God; and since circumcision distinguished that
people from other nations, there seemed to be some difference; but
in the meantime the worship of God was corrupted; all the sacrifices
were adulterated, as we have already seen and the whole of their
religion was a confused mixture; yea, a chaos composed of Gentile
superstitions and of something that resembled true and legitimate
worship. When, therefore, the Israelites were thus perfidiously
mocking God, they had nothing fixed: hence the Prophet compares them
to a cake, which, being placed on the hearth, is not turned; for on
one side it must be burnt, while on the other it remains unbaked.
    The Prophet here anticipates what the Israelites might object;
for hypocrites, we know, never want pretenses. The Israelites might
then bring forward this defense, "Thou sayest that we are now
entangled in the pollutions of the heathens; but the heathens have
no circumcision; among them the God of Israel is despised, there is
no altar on which the people can sacrifice to the true God; we, on
the contrary, are the children of Abraham, we have the God who
stretched forth his hand to deliver us from Egypt, and the
priesthood ever abides with us." As then the Israelites might have
introduced these pretenses for their superstitions, the Prophet
says, by anticipation, that they were "like bread baked under the
ashes", which, being thrown on the hearth, is not turned, so that
the baking might be equal; for then on the one side it would receive
heat, and on the other there would be no proportionate temperature.
"Ye are," he says, "on one side burnt, but on the other crude; so
that with you there is nothing but mere perfidiousness." We now
understand what the Prophet means.
    But this similitude might also be referred to their punishment;
for God had shown before in many places, that the Israelites were so
perverse, that they could not be subdued nor brought to a sound mind
by any distresses: and he again repeats this complaint. The meaning
of the words may then be this, That Ephraim was like a cake, which
was not turned on the hearth, because he had been sharply and
severely chastised, but without any benefit; being like reprobates,
who, though the Lord may bruise them, yet continue obstinate in
their hardness. They are then on one side burnt, because they are
nearly wasted away under their evils; but on the other side they are
wholly unbaked, because the Lord had not softened their
perverseness. But what I have adduced in the first place is more
suitable to the context.
    We now then understand what the Prophet says: in the first
clause God accuses Ephraim, because he had made himself profane by
receiving the rites and superstitions of heathens, so that there
was, as I have said before, a confused mixture. In the second place,
he answers the Israelites, in case they pleaded in their favor the
name of God, for it was usual for them to make false pretenses. He
therefore says, that they were in some things different from the
uncircumcised nations, but that this difference was nothing before
God, for they were like bread baked under the ashes, which is
neither baked nor unbaked on either side; for on one side it is
burnt, and on the other it remains unbaked. It now follows -

Hosea 7:9
Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth [it] not: yea,
gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not.
    
    The Prophet follows the same subject, that is, that Israel had
not repented, though the Lord had in various ways invited them to
repentance; yea, and constrained them by his scourges. It is indeed
a proof of desperate and incurable wickedness, when God prevails
nothing with us either by his word or by his stripes. When we are
deaf to his teaching and admonitions, it is quite evident that we
are wholly perverse: but when the Lord also raises up his hand and
inflicts punishment, if then we bend not, what can be said, but that
our sins have taken such deep roots, that they cannot be torn away
from us? Hence God in these words shows that the Israelites were now
past all remedy; for after having been so often and in so many ways
warned, they did not return to the right way; nay, they did not
think of their sins, but remained insensible. And Paul says of such
that they are "apelgekotas", ("past feeling," Eph. 4: l9,) that is
void of feeling. When men are touched by no grief in their
distresses, it is certain that they are smitten by the spirit of
giddiness. Notwithstanding, the Israelites no doubt felt their
evils; but the Prophet means, that they were so stupefied, that they
did not consider the cause and source of them. And what can it
avail, when one knows himself to be ill, and yet looks not to God,
nor thinks that he is justly visited? Hence when any one cries only
on account of the strokes, and regards not the hand of the striker,
as another Prophet says, (Isaiah 9: 13,) there is certainly in him
complete stupidity. We hence see what the Prophet had in view when
he said, that "Israel did not understand while he was devoured by
strangers, while hoariness was spreading over him"; for he attended
not to the cause of evils, but remained stupid; nor did he raise up
his mind to God, so as to impute to his sins all the evils which he
suffered.
    He says, that "his strength was eaten by strangers". God had
promised that the people would be under his protection; and when
they were exposed to the plunder of strangers, why did they not
perceive that they were deprived of God's protection? And this could
not have happened, except their own sin had deprived them of this
privilege. Hence the Israelites must have been extremely blind and
alienated in mind, when they did not perceive that they were thus
spoiled by strangers, because God did not now defend them, nor was
their patron, as he was wont to be formerly.
    He adds, that "hoariness was upon him". Some understand by
this, that the Israelites were not improved by long succession of
years. Age, as we know, through long experience, brings to men some
prudence. Young people, even when the Lord invites them to himself,
are carried away by some impulse or another; but in the aged there
is greater prudence and moderation. Many hence think that the
Israelites are here condemned because they had profited nothing -
no, not even by the advance of age. But the Prophet, I doubt not,
expresses the greatness of their calamities by this mode of
speaking, when he says that "hoariness was sprinkled over him"; for
we know, that when any one is grievously pained and afflicted, he
becomes hoary through the very pressure of evils; inasmuch as
hoariness proceeds not only from years, but also from troubles and
heavy cares, which not only waste men, but consume them. We indeed
know that men grow old through the suffering of evils. And here, in
my judgment, the Prophet means, that "hoariness had come upon
Israel," - that is, that he had been visited with so many evils,
that he was worn out, as it were, with old age; and that, after all,
he had derived no benefit. We now perceive the truth of what I have
said before, that it was the constant teaching of the Prophet, that
the diseases which prevailed among the people of Israel were
incurable, for they could by no remedies be brought to repentance.
It follows -

Hosea 7:10
And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not
return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this.
    
    The Prophet now confirms his previous doctrine, and speaks
generally, that "the pride of Israel shall bear testimony to him to
his face", or shall humble him to his face. The word "'anah" means,
in Hebrew, "to testify," and often, also, "to humble," or "to
afflict," as it was stated in the fifth chapter; and the words of
the Prophet are now the same, and both senses are appropriate. I do
not, however, make much of this, for the design of the Prophet is
clear; what he means is, that God had so openly chastised the
Israelites, that they must have perceived his hand, except they were
blind indeed, and that, being at the same time warned, they ought to
have suppliantly humbled themselves. Whether then we read, "to
testify" or "to humble," the sense will be the same, and the design
of the Prophet will appear to be the same. "The pride, then, of
Israel will humble him to his face," or, "the pride of Israel will
testify to his face:" for the Prophet means, that however fiercely
the Israelites might rise up against God, and be uncourteous to his
Prophets and however perversely they might reject all teaching, and
also excuse their own sins, yet all this would avail them nothing,
since they were so cast down by their pride, that the Lord regarded
them as convicted as much so as if their crime had been proved by
many witnesses, and their mask now taken away; in short, there was
no longer any doubt: this is what the Prophet means.
    "The pride", then, "of Israel testifies", or, "humbles him to
his face"; that is, though Israel had appeared hitherto inflexible
against all admonitions, against all punishments, they were yet held
as convicted; and, at the same time, "they return not", he says, "to
their God, and seek him not for all these things". We now perceive
what I have said, that the previous complaint respecting the
diabolical perverseness which so reigned in the people is here
confirmed, so that their salvation was now past hope. And he says
that "they returned not to Jehovah their God"; for they were running
constantly after their idols, as we have before seen; yea, they were
possessed with that inordinate zeal of which the Prophet speaks in
the beginning of the chapter; but they returned not to Jehovah; they
were wholly taken up with the multitude of their deities, and at the
same time had no regard for God.
    And when he says, "their God", he conveys a strong reprobation;
for God had manifested himself to them; yea, he had made himself
plainly known to them by his law. That they then did not return to
him, was not simply through ignorance or error; but through a
diabolical madness, as if they wished of their own accord and
deliberately to perish. God then calls himself here the God of
Israel, not for honour's sake, but that he might the more expose
their ingratitude, and enhance their perfidiousness, because they
had fallen away from him, and would not seek him.
    What he means, when he says, "For all these things", is, that
every kind of remedy had been tried, and hence that their disease
was wholly incurable. When we can do nothing in one way, we often
try another. Now God had not tried in one way only to bring Israel
back to himself, but he had tried all remedies. When no good
followed, what was to be said, but the people were lost, and past
all hope? This then is what the Prophet means here. It now follows -

Hosea 7:11,12
Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt,
they go to Assyria.
When they shall go, I will spread my net upon them; I will bring
them down as the fowls of the heaven; I will chastise them, as their
congregation hath heard.
    
    The Prophet here first blames Israel for foolish credulity, and
compares them to a dove; for they had invited the Egyptians and sent
to Assyria for help. Simplicity is indeed a commendable virtue, when
joined to prudence. But as everything reasonable and judicious in
men is turned into wickedness when there is no integrity; so when
men are too credulous and void of all judgment and reason, it is
then mere folly. But when he says that Israel is like a dove, he
does not mean that the Israelites had sinned through mere ignorance,
but that they were destitute of all judgment; and this folly is
opposed to the knowledge which God had offered to them in his law:
for God had never ceased to guide Israel by sound doctrine; he had
ever exhibited before them the torch of his word; but when God thus
gave them light, Israel was so credulous as to give heed to the
delusions of Satan and of the world. We now then perceive the
meaning of the Prophet.
    Some render "potah" by "turning aside:" and its root "patah",
no doubt, means "to turn aside;" and it means also sometimes "to
persuade:" hence some give this rendering, "a persuasible," or, "a
credulous dove." But the Prophet, I doubt not, means, that they were
enticed by flatteries, or deceived by allurements, which is the same
thing. Israel then was like a dove, deceived by various lures.
    How so? Because they ran to the Assyrians, they invited the
Egyptians. If Israel had attended to the law of God, they might have
felt assured that they were not in danger of going astray; for the
Lord keeps us not in suspense or doubt, that we may fluctuate, but
makes our minds fixed and tranquil by his word, as it is also said
in another place, 'This is rest.' It was then determined by the
Israelites not to fix their feet as it were on solid ground; and
they preferred to fly here and there like doves; and their credulity
led them to many errors. How? Because they chose rather to give
themselves up to be deceived by the Egyptians as well as by the
Assyrians, when yet God was willing to guide them by sound
knowledge. We now understand the design of this accusation of the
Prophet to be, that Israel wilfullly refused the way of safety
offered to them, which they might have followed with confidence, and
with a tranquil and composed mind; but in the meantime they flew up
and down, and became wilfully erratic; for they suffered themselves
to be deceived by various lures.
    Now this place teaches us that men are not to be excused by the
pretext of simplicity; for the Prophet here condemns this very
weakness in the Israelites. We ought then to attend to the rule of
Christ, 'To be innocent as doves, and yet to be prudent as
serpents.' But if we inconsiderately abandon ourselves, the excuse
of ignorance will be frivolous; for the Lord shines upon us by his
word and shows us the right way; and he has also in his power the
spirit of prudence and judgment, which he never denies to those who
ask. But when we despise the word, and neglect the Spirit of God,
and follow our own vagrant imaginations, our sin is twofold; for we
thus despise and quench the light of the word, and we also wilfully
perish, when the Lord would save us.
    But a denunciation of punishment afterwards follows,
"Wheresoever", he says, "they shall go, I will expand over them my
net, and will draw them down as the birds of heaven". God shows that
though the Israelites might turn about here and there, yet their end
would be unhappy; for he would have his expanded net: and he follows
up the simile he used in the last verse. He had said that they were
like doves, which are carried by a sudden instinct to the bait, and
consider not the expanded net. If then the dove sees only the lure,
and at the same time shuns not the danger, it is a proof of foolish
simplicity. Hence God says, I will expand my net; that is, I will
cause all your endeavors and purposes to be disappointed, and all
your hopes to be vain; for wheresoever they shall fly, my net shall
be expanded.
    This is a remarkable passage; for we hence learn, that the
issue will always be unfortunate, if we attempt any thing contrary
to the word of the Lord, and it we hold consultations over which his
Spirit does not preside; as it is said by Isaiah ch. 30 and 31, 'Woe
to them who weave a web, and draw not from my mouth! Woe to them who
take counsel, and invoke not my Spirit!' This passage wholly agrees
with the words of Isaiah, though the form of speaking is different.
It belongs then to God to bless our counsels, that they may have a
prosperous and the desired success. But when God is not favorable,
but even opposed to our designs, what end shall at last await us,
but that whatever we may have attained shall at length be turned to
our ruin? Let us then know, that whatever men do in this world is
ruled by the hidden providence of God; and as God leads by his
extended hand his own people, and gives his angels charge to guide
them; so also he has his expanded net to catch all those who wander
after their own erratic imaginations. Hence he says, "Wheresoever
they shall go, I will expand over them my net"; and farther, "I will
draw them down as the birds of heaven".
    The Prophet seems to allude to the vain confidence, which he
mentioned, when he said that Israel had bound wind in his wings. For
when men presumptuously undertake any thing, they at the same time
promise to themselves, that there will be nothing to prevent them
from gaining their object. Inasmuch then as men, elated with this
foolish confidence, gather more boldness, yea, at length furiously
assail God, and seem as though they would break through the very
clouds, the Prophet says, "I will draw them down as the birds of
heaven"; that is, "I will allow them to be carried up for a time;
but when they shall penetrate to the clouds, I will draw them down,
I will make them to know that their flying will avail them nothing."
And we must notice from whence the Israelites had been drawn down.
For who would not have thought that so much protection must have
been found in the Assyrians or in the Egyptians, that they could not
in vain expect deliverance? But the Lord laughs to scorn this vain
power of the world; for whatever hope men may conceive when they
alienate themselves from God, it will entirely vanish like smoke.
    And he afterwards adds, "I will chastise them", or, 'I will
bind them:' for the verb "yasar" means both "to chastise" as well as
"to bind;" so that either sense may be taken. If the word, "to
bind," be approved, it will well agree with the metaphor, as though
he said, "I will hold you fast in my nets." For as long as birds are
allowed to fly, they think the whole heaven to be theirs; but when
they fall into nets, they remain confined; they are then unable to
fly, and cannot move their wings. So then this sense, "I will bind
them", is very suitable; which means, "They will not be able to
break my net, but I will hold them there bound to the end." But if
one prefers the other sense, "I will chastise them", I do not
object; and as far as the meaning is concerned, we see that there is
not much difference which sense we take, except that the word, "to
bind," as I have said, harmonizes better with the metaphor.
    He says, "According to the hearing of their assembly". Nearly
all so render this, as if God had said that he would punish them as
he had threatened by Moses, and as if it was also an indirect
accusation of their carelessness, because they did not become wise
after having been long admonished, but even despised those
denunciations, which constantly resounded in their ears. For God had
not only prescribed in his law the rule of a religious life, but
also added heavy and severe threatening, by which he gave a sanction
to the doctrine at the law. We know how dreadful are those curses of
the law. Since then God had even from the beginning thus threatened
the Israelites, ought they not to have walked more carefully before
him? But they were not terrified by these denunciations. Hence God
here indirectly reproves this great madness, that the Israelites did
not sufficiently attend to his threatening, by which they might have
been recalled to the right way; for Moses did by these put a
restraint even on the furious passions of men, if only there
remained in them a particle of sound understanding. Still further,
the same admonitions had been often pressed on them by the Prophets;
nor had God ever ceased to arouse them, until the ears of them all
had become deaf to his voice. He therefore says, 'I will hold them
fast bound,' or, 'I will chastise them, according to the hearing of
their assembly;' that is, "The punishment which I shall inflict must
have been long ago known to them, for I have openly commanded my law
to be promulgated, that I might thus testify my people by severe
threatening; I will now then execute the judgment, which they have
not believed, because I have hitherto spared them."
    As I have already said, interpreters nearly all agree in this
view, except that they do not consider the design of the Prophet;
they do not perceive that the Israelites were upbraided for their
hardness; but they only speak of punishment, without any intimation
of the end or object for which God had promulgated maledictions in
his law, and renewed the recollection of them by his Prophets.
Jerome brings forward another meaning, even this, that God would
punish the people according to the report of their assembly; that
is, that as they had with one consent violated the worship of God,
and transgressed his laws, so he would punish them all. I will at
the same time add this view, that God would chastise them according
to the clamour of their assembly, so that the Prophet points out,
not only a conspiracy among the people of Israel, but also their
violence in eliciting one another to sin. As, then, they had thus
tumultuously risen up against God, so the Prophet in his turn
declares, that God would punish them; as though he said, "Your
tumult will not prevent me from quelling your fury. Ye do indeed
with great noise oppose me, and think that you will be safe, though
addicted to your sins; but this your violence will be no hindrance,
for I have in my power the means of chastising you."
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that since thou sees us to be so prone to all
the allurements of Satan and the world, and at the same time so void
of judgment, and carried away by mere levity, - O grant, that by thy
Spirit leading us, we may proceed in the right course, on which we
have already entered under thy guidance and directing hand, so that
we may never go astray from thy word, nor by any means turn aside
from pursuing towards the mark which thou hast set before us; and
though Satan may attempt to draw us aside, may we yet continue
steadfast in thy service, and thus proceed, until we arrive at that
blessed rest which, after the warfare of the present life, thou hast
promised to us in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Lecture Twentieth.

Hosea 7:13
Woe unto them! for they have fled from me: destruction unto them!
because they have transgressed against me: though I have redeemed
them, yet they have spoken lies against me.
    
    Here the Prophet takes away from the Israelites the hope of
pardon, and declares that it was all over with them, for God had now
resolved to destroy them. For as God everywhere declares himself to
be ready and inclined to pardon, hypocrites hope that God will be
propitious to them; and entertaining this vain confidence, they
despise his threatening and boldly rise up against him. Hence the
Prophet here shows, that God would hereafter be inexorable to them,
because they had too long pertinaciously abused his patience. "Woe
to them!" he says, "for they have withdrawn from me: desolation to
them! for they have acted perfidiously towards me". There is then no
reason, says the Prophet, for them to delude themselves in future
with vain confidence, as they have hitherto done; for this has been
once for all determined by God - to indict on them his extreme
vengeance, for their defection deserves this.
    He then adds, "I will redeem them, and they have spoken lies
against me". They who render the first word in the future tense,
think that the Prophet asks a question, "Shall I redeem them? for
they have spoken lies against me:" and they think it to be an
indefinite mode of speaking - "Should I redeem them, men of no
faith; for what good should I do by such kindness?" Others give this
expositions - "Though I wished to redeem them, yet I found that this
would not be beneficial nor just, because they speak lies against
me;" as though God did not express here what he had done, but what
he had wished to do. But the past tense is not unsuitable to this
place; and we know how common and familiar to the Hebrews was the
change of tenses. The meaning, then, will be, "I have redeemed them,
and they have spoken lies against me;" that is, "I have often
delivered them from death, when they were in extreme peril; but they
have not changed their disposition; nay, they have deprived me of
the praise due for their deliverance, and they have lived in no way
better after their deliverance. Since, then, I have hitherto
conferred my benefits to no good purpose, nothing now remains but
that I must destroy them." And this seems to me to be the Prophet's
meaning.
    He then declares, in the first clause, that they hoped for
mercy in vain from God, because their ultimate destruction was
decreed. Then follows the reason for this, because they had
foolishly and impiously abused the favor of God, inasmuch as, having
been redeemed by him, they yet went on in their own wickedness, and
even acted perfidiously towards God, while yet they pretended to act
differently. Since, then, there was no change for the better, God
now shows that he would spend his favor no longer on men so impious.
Now this place teaches how intolerable is our ingratitude, when,
after having been redeemed by the Lord, we keep not the faith
pledged to him, and which he requires from us; for God is our
deliverer on this condition, that we be wholly devoted to him. For
he who has been redeemed ought not so to live, as if he had a right
to himself and to his own will; but he ought to be wholly dependent
on his Redeemer. If, then, we thus act perfidiously towards God,
after having been delivered by his grace, we shall be guilty of such
impiety and perfidiousness as deserve a twofold vengeance: and this
is what the Prophet here teaches.
    We indeed know how mercifully God had spared the people of
Israel: after they had fallen away into superstitious worship, and
had also violated their faith to the posterity of David, the Lord
did not yet cease to show to that people many favors,
notwithstanding their unworthiness. We know also, that under
Jeroboam prosperity had attended them beyond all human expectation.
But they yet hardened themselves more and more in their wickedness,
so far were they from returning to the right way. Let us now proceed
-

Hosea 7:14
And they have not cried unto me with their heart, when they howled
upon their beds: they assemble themselves for corn and wine, [and]
they rebel against me.

    The Prophet here again reproves the Israelites for having not
repented, after having been so often admonished; for, as it was said
yesterday, all the chastisements which God by his own hand inflicts
on us, have this as the object - to heal us of our vices. Now the
Prophet says here that the Israelites had not cried to God, which is
yet the chief thing in repentance. But this expression is to be
noticed. "They have not cried to me with their heart"; that is
sincerely. We indeed know that some worship of God had ever remained
among them; though the Israelites devised for themselves many gods,
yet the name of the true God had never been wholly obliterated among
them; but they blended the worship of God with their own inventions;
God, at the same time, could not endure these fictitious
invocations. Hence he says, "that they cried not from the heart". He
accuses them, not that they performed no outward act, but that they
did not bring a real desire of heart; nay, they only cried to God
dissemblingly. We now perceive what the Prophet meant by saying,
They slave not cried to me with their heart. As calling on God is
the chief exercise of religion, and especially manifests our
repentance, the Prophet expressly notices this defect in the
Israelites - that they cried not to the Lord. But as they might
object and say, that they had formally prayed, he adds, that they
did not do so from the heart; for the outward act (ceremonial)
without the exercise of the heart, is nothing else but a profanation
of God's name. In short, the Prophet shows here to the Israelites
their hardness; for when they were smitten by God's hand, they did
not flee to him and supplicate pardon, at least they did not do this
from the heart or sincerely.
    He then adds, "Because they howled on their beds". Some explain
the particle "ki" adversatively; as though the Prophet had said,
"Though they howl on their beds, they do not yet direct their
petitions to me." But we may take it in its proper sense, and the
sentence would thus run better: They howl then on their beds, that
is, "They bring not their concerns to me; for like brute animals
they utter their howlings:" and this we see to be the case with the
unbelieving; for they fear the presence of God, and the very mention
of him is dreaded by them; hence they howl, that is, they pour forth
their impetuous feelings, but at the same time they shun every
access to God as much as they can. The sense then is, "They cry not
to me from the heart, for they only howl; but it is only by an
animal effort without any reason." If, however, any one prefers to
take the particle "ki" adversatively, the sense would not be
unsuitable, "Though they howl on their beds, they do not yet cry to
me;" that is, "Though grief urges them to make great noises, they
are yet mute as to any cry of prayer." If any one more approves of
this meaning, I say nothing against it: but as the particle "ki" is
commonly taken as a causative, I prefer thus to explain it, "As they
cry on their beds, they raise not up their voice to God."
    Then it follows, "They assemble", or, will assemble "themselves
for corn and wine". This place is explained in two ways. Some think
that the Israelites are here in an indirect way reproved, inasmuch
as when they found wine and corn in the market, having obtained
their wishes, they went on heedlessly in their sins, and despised
God, as if they had no more need of his help. They then ran together
for wine and corn; that is, as soon as they heard of wine or corn,
they provided themselves with provisions, and afterwards neglected
God. But this sense seems too frigid and strained. The Prophet then,
I doubt not, opposes the running together of which he speaks, to
true and sincere attention to prayer; as though he said, "They are
not touched with grief for having offended me, though they see by
evident proofs that I am displeased with them; they regard not my
favor or my displeasure, provided they enjoy plenty of wine and
corn: this satisfies them, and it is all the same with them whether
I am adverse or propitious to them." This seems to be the genuine
meaning of the Prophet.
    But that this reproof may be more evident, we must observe what
Christ teaches, that we ought first to seek the kingdom of God. For
men act strangely when they anxiously 1abour only for this life, and
strive only to procure for themselves food, and what is needful for
the wants of the flesh: we ever make a beginning here; and yet it is
a most thoughtless anxiety, when we are so attentive to a frail
life, and in the meantime neglect the kingdom of God. Inasmuch then
as men by this perverted feeling derange the whole order of
religion, the Prophet here shows that the Israelites did not truly
and from the heart cry unto God, because they were only solicitous
about wine and corn; for except when they were hungry, they despised
God, and allowed him to rest quietly in heaven: hence penury and
want constrained them. As brute beasts, when they are hungry, go to
the stall, and seek not to be fed by the Lord; so also did the
Israelites, when they were touched by some feeling of need; but at
the same time they were contented with their wine and corn; nor had
they any other God. Hence they so cried, that their voice did not
come to God, as they did not indeed go really and directly to him.
The Prophet then does here, by a particular instance, convict the
Israelites of impious dissimulation, inasmuch as they did not seek
God, but were only intent on food; and provided the stomach was well
supplied, they neglected God, and desired not his favor, and only
wished to have full barns and full cellars; for plenty of
provisions, without the paternal favor of God, was their only
desire. It is hence sufficiently evident that they did not cry to
the Lord.
    This place is worthy of being observed; for we here see that
our prayers are faulty before God, if we begin with wine and bread,
and seek not first the kingdom of God, that is, his glory; and if we
apply not our minds to this - to live, so to have God propitious to
us. When we go to Him, the fountain of divine blessing, God only
desire to glut ourselves with the abundance of the good things which
he has to bestow, then all our prayers are deservedly rejected by
him. We see this to be the case with the Papists; when they present
their supplications, they are wholly like animals. They indeed
implore God for rain and for dry weather; but have they any desire
of reconciling themselves to God? By no means; for they wish, as
much as possible, to be at the farthest distance from him: but when
want and famine constrain them, they then ask for rain, - for what
purpose? only that they may abound in bread and wine. We ought then
to preserve a legitimate order in our prayers. If the Lord shows to
us proofs of his wrath, we must strive first to return into favor
with him, and then his glory must be regarded by us, and he is to be
sought with the real feeling of piety, that he may be a Father to
us: and then may be added in their place the things which belong to
the condition and preservation of the present life.
    We must also notice what he adds, "They have revolted from me".
The verb "sur" means, "to recede," and also "to revolt;" and this
second sense is the most suitable; for the Prophet said before that
they had receded or departed from God; but now he seems to signify
something more grievous, and that is, that they had revolted from
God. Thus hypocrites, when they pretend to seek God in a circuitous
course, betray their own revolt; for they are unwilling to be
reconciled to him on the condition that they are to change for the
better their life, to cast away the affections of the flesh, to
renounce themselves and their depraved desires. These things they by
no means seek. Hence then it becomes evident that they are witnesses
to their own revolt, and also to dissimulation in their prayers,
even when there is some appearance of piety. It follows -

Hosea 7:15
Though I have bound [and] strengthened their arms, yet do they
imagine mischief against me.

    God again reproaches the Israelites for having in a base manner
abused his goodness and forbearance. Some consider the verb "yasar"
as meaning, "to chastise," because God had disciplined the
Israelites; and, as I have said yesterday, it is often taken in this
sense. But as it signifies sometimes "to bind," it seems a fitter
metaphor for this place. "I have bound and strengthened their arms";
as though God had said, that he had caused their arms not to be
enervated. For we know that the strength of the arm depends on the
structure of the nerves. Except the bones were bound together by the
nerves, a dissolution would immediately follow. Hence God says, I
have bound and strengthened their arms; which two things combine for
the same end, and the notion of chastising seems not to me to be in
any way suitable to the context. The meaning is, that the Israelites
had hitherto continued, because God had sustained them by his power.
As when one binds up and strengthens a weak or a loosened arm, so
God here reminds Israel that he had preserved them in their
position. And the Prophet, I have no doubt, alludes here to the many
calamities by which the strength of Israel might have been broken,
had not a timely remedy been applied by the Lord.
    God then compares himself here to a physician or a surgeon,
when he says that he had bound the arm of Israel and strengthened
it, when it might have been otherwise broken: for they had been
often as it were enervated, but the Lord restored them. We now
understand the meaning of the Prophet to be, that God had not only
by his power sustained the Israelites, but had also performed the
office of a surgeon or a physician, when he saw their arms broken,
when they were wasted by slaughters in wars, and by other
adversities.
    Now the Israelites were so far from being grateful to to God
and mindful of him, that they were even devising evil against him.
For after having obtained victories, after having been restored and
even replenished with fulness of all blessiggs, they the more boldly
conspired against him; for under this pretence were superstitions
established, and then followed the indulgence of all vices; for
pride, and cruelty, and ambition, and frauds, prevailed more and
more. Since then the Israelites had thus perverted the blessings of
God, was not the hope of pardon and salvation justly cut off from
them? Now we are reminded in this place, that whenever God heals our
evils, and raises us up in adversity and succors us, we ought
devoutly to acknowledge his favor, and not to meditate evil against
him, when he so kindly extends his hand to us. Let us now proceed -

Hosea 7:16
They return, [but] not to the most High: they are like a deceitful
bow: their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their
tongue: this [shall be] their derision in the land of Egypt.

    The Prophet again assails the perverse wickedness of Israel,
and also their fraud and perfidiousness. Hence he says that they
feigned some sort of repentance, but it was nothing else than false;
for they returned not to God. "They return", he says, "but not to
God". Some however think that "'al" is a preposition, and that
something is understood, as if it were an elliptical phrase: "They
return, but not for anything;" that is, when they return, were any
one to inquire what is in their minds, or what is their purpose, he
would find it to be mere form and nothing real. But this exposition,
as we see, is strained. Besides, the context requires that we should
consider "'al" to be for God, as it is also in other places; for
this is nothing new. Then it is, "They return not to God".
    The Prophet then declares here that the Israelites were wholly
perverse, so that God could force out of them no repentance; that
when they pretended something it was mere deceit, for they did not
come in a direct way to God. For hypocrites, as it has been said
before, when God's hand presses hard on them, seem indeed to be
different from what they were previously, but they always shun God.
The Lord does not in vain exhort the people by Jeremiah to return to
him, 'If thou wilt return, O Israel,' he says, 'return unto me,'
(Jer. 4: 1.) For he knew that by devious windings men always go
astray and keep not to the straight course. This is the meaning.
    Then the Prophet adds, that "they there like a deceitful bow".
This is an explanation of the last sentence; and hence we conclude
that the word "'al" cannot be otherwise taken than for God. The
Prophet shows how the Israelites withdrew themselves from God, while
they seemed to repent, for "they were", he says, "like a deceitful
bow". Some expound it, the bow of darting or shooting; and no doubt
"ramah" means to dart and to shoot; but this sense cannot be taken
here, for we see that what the Prophet had in view was to show, that
the Israelites put on a guise, and did nothing but deceive, when
they made a show of repentance. To confirm this, he says, that they
were like an oblique bow. For the archer, when he intends to shoot
an arrow, first levels at a certain mark; then the arrow seems to be
directed to that place which the archer fixes on by his eyes. Now if
the bow is oblique, the arrow will fly elsewhere; or the bow may
slip, so as to throw back the arrow to the archer himself. The like
comparison is found in Ps. 78, where it is said, that the Jews were
turned back 'like a deceitful bow;' and in that passage this very
word occurs. But there is here no ambiguity; for God accuses the
people that they had turned back; that is, that they had turned
backward their course, even like a deceitful bow. If one reads "the
bow of darting," or, "of shooting," there will be no sense; nay, it
will be vapid and absurd. It is then better to render the expression
here, 'a deceitful bow.'
    And we must notice the import of the similitude, to which I
have already referred, that is, that as archers aim the arrow to the
mark, as they direct its flight by winking and leveling, and shoot;
so hypocrites seem to strive with great effort, but, at the same
time, they are deceitful bows; that is, their mind is driven back,
and they fly away from God, and, by tortuous windings, go astray, so
that they never come to God, but rather turn their backs on him.
    He then adds, "Their princes shall fall by the sword for the
pride of their tongue". The Prophet again denounces vengeance on the
Israelites, that they might feel assured that the heavenly decree
respecting their destruction could not be changed. For though
hypocrites always dread, and cannot hope anything from God, yet they
never cease to flatter themselves, and always to contrive some new
hope. Inasmuch then as they are so bountiful in vain promising, the
Prophet says that there was no reason for the Israelites to hope for
any remedy in their distresses. "Their princes" then "shall fall":
and in saying 'princes,' he takes a part for the whole; for God does
not thus threaten princes, or denounces ruin on them, as though he
intended to except the common people; but he implies, that that
destruction would be common to all, which not even the princes
themselves would escape. And we know that in battles, when a great
slaughter is made, the common soldiers lie dead in great numbers,
and but few of the chiefs. But God says here, "I will take away the
whole flower of the people. And if none of the princes shall remain,
what will become of the ignoble vulgar, who are deemed of no
account?" "The princes" then "shall fall by the sword".
    He then adds, "For the pride of their tongue". Some expound
this phrase actively, as though the Prophet had said, that they had
provoked God's wrath by their blasphemies and profane speeches; but
I rather take it for their high vaunting: For the pride of their
tongue, he says, they shall fall; that is, because they haughtily
boasted of their strength, and held in contempt all the prophecies,
because they dared to vomit forth their blasphemies against God, and
dared, also, no less obstinately than proudly, to defend their own
impious and depraved forms of worship, I will revenge, he says,
"this pride." We hence see that "pride," here, is to be taken for
that disdain which the impious show by their high vaunting, as it is
said elsewhere, 'They raise to heaven their tongues,' (Ps. 73: 9.)
    "This will be their derision in the land of Egypt". As the
Israelites, then relying on the cursed treaty which they had made
with the Egyptians, continued perverse against God, he says, "I will
expose them to derision among their confederates: they boast of the
power of Egypt: they think themselves beyond the reach of harm, as
they can instantly call the Egyptians, to their aid, were any one to
oppose them, or were any enemy to invade them. Since, then, their
confidence so rests on Egypt, I will make," he says, "the Egyptians
to regard them with scorn; and they shall not only be counted
ignominious by those who rival or envy them, but also by the friends
in whom they glory. I will give them up to every kind of dishonor
among their lovers." He indeed compares, as we have before seen, the
Egyptians as well as the Assyrians, to lovers, and compares his
people to an unfaithful wife, who, having deserted her husband,
prostitutes her own chastity. "Thou," he says, "sellest thyself to
thy lovers, and strives to please them, and faintest and adornest
thyself to allure them: I will cover thee all over with everything
disgraceful and ignominious, that thy lovers shall abhor thy very
sight." So also in this place, he says that the Israelites shall be
for derision in the land of Egypt; that is, not enemies, whom they
fear, shall have them in derision; but they shall be a
laughing-stock to those who they think will be their defenders, and
through whose arms they imagine that they shall be free from every
disgrace. The eighth chapter follows.


Chapter 8.

Hosea 8:1
[Set] the trumpet to thy mouth. [He shall come] as an eagle against
the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed my covenant,
and trespassed against my law.
    
    Interpreters nearly all agree in this, that the Prophet
threatens not the kingdom of Israel, but the kingdom of Judah, at
the beginning of this chapter, because he names the house of God,
which they take to be the temple. I indeed allow, that the Prophet
has spoken already, in two places, of the kingdom of Judah, but as
it were in passing. He has, it is true, introduced some reproofs and
threatening, but so that the distinction was quite clear; and we see
that he now goes to the kingdom of Judah, but in the second verse,
he names Israel, and yet continues hid discourse. "To thy mouth", he
says, "the trumpet", &c.; and afterwards he adds, "To me" shall they
cry, My God; we know thee, Israel. Here, certainly, the discourse is
addressed to the ten tribes. I am therefore by no means induced to
explain the beginning of the chapter by applying it to the kingdom
of Judah: and I certainly do wonder that interpreters have mistaken
in a matter so trifling; for the house of God means not only the
temple, but also the whole people. As Israel retained this boast,
that they were a people holy to God, and that they were his family,
he says, "Put or set the trumpet to thy mouth, and proclaim the war,
which is now nigh at hand; for the enemy hastens, who is to attack
the house of God, that is, this holy people, who cover themselves
with the name of God, and who, trusting in their election and
adoption, think that they shall be free from all evils; war shall
come as an eagle against this house of God."
    Had the Prophet added any thing which could be referred
peculiarly to the kingdom of Judah, I should willingly accede to
their opinion, who think that the house of God is the sanctuary. But
let the whole context be read, and any one may easily perceive, that
the Prophet speaks of Israel no less in the first verse than in the
second and third. For, as it has been said, he lays down no
difference, but pursues throughout his teaching or discourse in the
same strain.
    He says first, "A trumpet to thy mouth", or, "Set to thy mouth
the trumpet." It is an exhibition, (hypotyposis;) for we know that
God, in order to affect more powerfully the people, clothes his
Prophets with various characters. The Prophet then is introduced
here as a herald who proclaims war, or a messenger, or by whatever
name you may be pleased to call him. Here then the Prophet is
commanded, not to speak with his mouth, but to show by the trumpet
that war was nigh, as though God himself by his trumpet declared war
against Israel, which was to be carried on soon after by earthly
enemies. The enemies were soon after to come, and the herald was to
come in the usual manner to declare war. The Greeks call them
"kerukes", proclaimers, we says "Les heraux". As these earthly kings
have their proclaimers, or "keurkes", or heralds, or messengers, who
proclaim war; so the Lord sends his Prophet with the usual charge to
declare war: "Go then, and let the Israelites know, not now by thy
mouth, but even by thy throat, by the sound of the trumpet, that I
am an enemy to them, and that I am present with a strong army to
destroy them." It is indeed certain that the Prophet did not use a
trumpet; but the Lord by this representations as I have already said
increased the reality of what was taught that the Israelites might
perceive, that it was not in sport or in play that the Prophet
threatened them, but that it was done seriously, as though they now
saw the heralds who was to proclaim war; for this was not usually
done except when the army is already prepared for battle.
    He then says, "As an eagle against the house of Jehovah". We
have already said what the Prophet means by the house of Jehovah,
even that people who thought that they would be exempt from every
evil, because they had been adopted by the Lord. Hence the
Israelites called themselves God's household; and though under this
cover, they impiously and profanely abandoned themselves to every
kind of turpitude, yet they thought that they were on the best of
terms with God himself. "There shall come," he says, "a common ruin
to you all; this boasting shall not prevent me from taking vengeance
at last on your sins." But he adds "As an eagle", that the
Israelites might not think that there was to be a long delay; for
the impious procrastinate, when they see any danger at hand. Hence,
that the Israelites might not continue torpid in their vices, the
Prophet says, that the destruction of which he spoke would be like
the eagle; for in a moment the eagle goes over an immense distance,
and we wonder when we see it over our heads, though a little before
it did not appear. So also the Prophet says, that destruction,
though not yet seen, was however nigh at hand, that being smitten
with terror, though now late, yet as the Lord was thus urging them,
they might return to him.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that since thou continues daily to restore us
to thyself, both by scourges and by thy word, though we cease not to
go astray after sinful desires, - O grant, that by the direction of
thy Spirit, we may at length so return to thee, that we may never
afterwards fall away, but be preserved in pure and true obedience,
and thus constantly continue in the pure worship of thy majesty and
in true, obedience, that after this life past, we may at last reach
that blessed rest, which is reserved for us in heaven, through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lecture Twenty-first.
    
    We were not able yesterday to complete the first verse of the
eighth chapter. It then remains for us to consider the latter
clause, in which the Prophet expresses the cause of the war which he
had previously proclaimed by God's command. He says, that the
Israelites had transgressed the covenant of the Lord, and conducted
themselves perfidiously against his law. He repeats the same thing
twice, for the covenant and the law are synonymous; only the word,
law, in my view, is added as explanatory, as though he had said,
that they had violated the covenant of the Lord, which had been
sanctioned or sealed by the law. God then had made a covenant with
Israel, which he designed to be comprehended in the tables. Since
then it was not unknown to the Israelites what they owed to God,
they were covenant-breakers. It was then the doubling of their
crime, as the Prophet shows, that they had not fallen through
mistake when they transgressed the covenant of the Lord, for they
had been more than sufficiently taught by the law what faith and
what purity the Lord required of them: at the same time, the
covenant which the Lord so openly made with them was yet neglected.
It follows -

Hosea 8:2,3
Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee.
Israel hath cast off [the thing that is] good: the enemy shall
pursue him.
    
    By the Prophet saying, "To me shall they cry", some understand
that the Israelites are blamed for not fleeing to God; and they thus
explain the Prophet's words, "They ought to have cried to me." It
seems to others to be an exhortation, "Let the Israelites now cry to
me." But I take the words simply as they are, that is that God here
again touches the dissimulation of the Israelites, "They will cry to
me, We know thee"; and to this the ready answer is "Israel has cast
away good far from himself; the enemy shall pursue him". I thus join
together the two verses; for in the former the Lord relates what
they would do, and what the Israelites had already begun to do; and
in the latter verse he shows that their labour would be in vain,
because they ever cherished wickedness in their hearts, and falsely
pretended the name of God, as it has been previously observed, even
in their prayers. Israel, then will cry to me, "My God, we know
thee". Thus hypocrites confidently profess the name of God, and with
a lofty air affirm that they are God's people; but God laughs to
scorn all this boasting, as it is vain, and worthy of derision. They
will then cry to me; and then he imitates their cries, "My God, we
know thee". When hypocrites, as if they were the friends of God,
cover themselves with his shadow, and profess to act under his
guardianship, and also boast at the same time of their knowledge of
true doctrine, and boast of faith and of the worship of God; be it
so, he says, that these cries are uttered by their mouths, yet facts
speak differently, and reprove and expose their hypocrisy. We now
then see how these two verses are connected together, and what is
the Prophet's object.
    The verb "Zanach" means "to remove far off," and "to throw to a
distance;" and sometimes, as some think, "to detest." There is here,
I doubt not, an implied contrast between the rejection of good and
the pursuing of which the Prophet speaks afterwards, "Israel has
driven good far from himself"; some expound "tov" of God himself, as
if it was of the masculine gender: but the Prophet, I have no doubt,
simply accuses the Israelites of having receded from all justice and
uprightness; yea, of having driven far off every thing right and
just. Israeli then, has repelled good; "the enemy", he says, "will
pursue him". There is a contrast between repelling and pursuing, as
though the prophet said, that the Israelites had by their defection
obtained this, that the enemy would now seize them. There is then no
better defense for us against all harms than attention to piety and
justice; but when integrity is banished from us, then we are exposed
to all evils, for we are deprived of the aid of God. We then see how
beautifully the Prophet compares these two things - the rejection of
good by Israel - and their pursuit by their enemies. He then adds -

Hosea 8:4
They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I
knew [it] not: of their silver and their gold have they made them
idols, that they may be cut off.

    The Prophet here notices two things, with respect to which he
reprobates the perfidy and impious perverseness of the people, -
they had, against the will of God, framed a religion for themselves,
- and they had instituted a new kingdom. The salvation of that
people, we know, was, as it were, founded on a certain kingdom and
priesthood; and by these two things God testified that he was allied
to the children of Abraham. We know where the happiness of the godly
is deposited, even in Christ; for Christ is to us the fulness of a
blessed life, because he is a king and a priest. Hence I have said,
that through a certain kingdom and priesthood did the favor of God
towards the people then shine forth. Now when the Israelites
overturned the kingdom, which God by his own authority instituted,
and when they corrupted and adulterated the priesthood, did they
not, as it were, designedly extinguish the favor of God, and strive
to annihilate whatever was needful for their salvation? This then is
what the Prophet now speaks of, that is, that the Israelites in
changing the kingdom and priesthood had undermined the whole
appointment of God, and openly showed that they were unwilling to be
ruled by God's hand; for they would have never dared to turn asides
even in the least degree, from the kingdom of David, nor would they
have dared to set up a new and spurious priesthood, if any particle
of the fear of God had prevailed in their hearts.
    We now perceive the design of the Prophet, which interpreters
have not sufficiently considered; for some refer this to the
covenants, as it seemed strange to them, that the Israelites should
be so severely reproved for setting up Jeroboam as their king, since
Ahijah the Shilonite had already declared by God's command, that it
would be so. But they attend not sufficiently to what the Prophet
had in view; for, as I have already said, when God instituted the
priesthood, there shone forth in it the image of Christ the
Mediator, whose office it is, to intercede with God that he might
reconcile him to men; and then in the person of David shone forth
also the kingdom of Christ. Now when the people tumultuously chose a
new king for themselves without any command from God, and when they
built for themselves a new temple and altar contrary to what the law
prescribed, and when they divided the priesthood, was not all this a
manifest corruption, a denial of religion? It is hence evident that
the Israelites were in both these respects apostates; for they
forsook God in two ways, - first, by separating from the house of
David, - and then by forming for themselves a strange worship, which
God had not commanded in his law.
    With regard to the first, he says, "They have caused to reign,
but not through me; they have instituted a government, and I knew it
not", that is, without my consent; for God is said not to knov what
he does not approve, or that concerning which he is not consulted.
But some one may object and say, that God knew of the new kingdom
since he was the founder of it. To this the answer is, that God so
works, that this pretext does not yet excuse the ungodly, since they
aim at something else, rather than to execute his purpose. As for
instance, God designed to prove the patience of his servant Job: the
robbers who took away his property, were they excusable? By no
means. For what was their object, but to enrich themselves by
injustice and plunder? Since then they purchased their advantage at
the expense of another, and unjustly robbed a man who had never
injured them, they were destitute of every excuse. The Lord,
however, did in the meantime execute by them what he had appointed,
and what he had already permitted Satan to do. He intended, as it
has been said, that his servant should be plundered; and Satan, who
influenced the robbers, could not himself move a finger except by
the permission of God; nay, except it was commanded him. At the same
time, the Lord had nothing in common or in connection with the
wicked, because his purpose was far apart from their depraved lust.
So also it must be said of what is said here by the Prophet. As God
intended to punish Solomon, so he took away the ten tribes. He
indeed suffered Solomon to reign to the end of his days, and to
retain the government of the kingdom; but Rehoboam, who succeeded
him, lost the ten tribes. This did not happen by chance; for God had
so decreed; yea, he had declared that it would be so. He sent Ahijah
the Shilonite to offer the kingdom to Jeroboam, who had dreamt of
nothing of the kind. God then ruled the whole by his own secret
counsel, that the ten tribes should desert their allegiance to
Rehoboam, and that Jeroboam, being made king, should possess the
greater part of the kingdom. This, I say, was done by God'a decree:
but yet the people did not think that they were obeying God in
revolting from Rehoboam, for they desired some relaxation, when they
saw that the young king wished tyrannically to oppress them; hence
they chose to themselves a new king. But they ought to have endured
every wrong rather than to deprive themselves of that inestimable
blessing, of which God gave them a symbol and pledge in the kingdom
of David; for David, as it has been said, did not reign as a common
king, but was a type of Christ, and God had promised his favor to
the people as long as his kingdom flourished, as though Christ did
then dwell in the midst of the people. When therefore the people
shook off the yoke of David, it was the same as if they had rejected
Christ himself because Christ in his type was despised.
    We hence see how base was the conduct of the people in joining
themselves to Jeroboam. For that sedition was not merely a proof of
levity, as some people do often rashly upset the state of things; it
was not merely a rash levity, but an impious denial of God's favor,
the same as if they had rejected Christ himself. They had also, in
this way, torn themselves from the body of the Church; and though
the kingdom of Israel surpassed the kingdom of Judah in wealth and
power, it yet became like a putrid member, for the whole soundness
depended on the head, from which the ten tribes had cut themselves
off. We now then see why the Prophet so sharply expostulates with
the Israelites for setting up a kingdom, but not through God; and
solved also is the question, how God here declares that that was not
through him, which yet he had determined and testified by the mouth
of his prophet, Ahijah the Shilonite; that is, that God, as it has
been said, had not given a command to the people, nor permitted the
people to withdraw themselves from their allegiance to Rehoboam. God
then denies that that kingdom, with respect to the people, was set
up by his decree; and he says that what was done was this, - that
the people made a king without consulting him; for the people ought
to have attended to what pleased him, to what the Lord himself
conceded; this they did not, but suddenly followed their own blind
impulse.
    And this place is worthy of being observed; for we hence learn
that the same thing is done and not done by the Lord. Foolish men at
this day, not versed in the Scripture, excite great commotions among
us about the providence of God; yea, there are many rabid dogs who
bark at us, because we say, (what even Scripture teaches
everywhere,) that nothing is done except by the ordination and
secret counsel of God, and that whatever is carried on in this world
is governed by his hand. "How so? Is God, then a murderer? Is God,
then a thief? Or, in other words, are slaughters, thefts, and all
kinds of wickedness, to be imputed to him?" These men show, while
they would be deemed acute, how stupid they are, and also how
absurd; nay, rather what mad wild beasts they are. For the Prophet
here shows that the same thing was done and not done by the Lord,
but in a different way. God here expressly denies that Jcroboam was
created king by him; on the other hand, by referring to sacred
history, it appears that Jeroboam was created king, not by the
suffrages of the people, but by the command of God; for no such
thing had yet entered the mind of the people, when Ahijah was bidden
to go to Jeroboam; and he himself did not aspire to the kingdom, no
ambition impelled him; he remained quiet as a private man, and the
Lord stirred him up and said, "I will have thee to reign." The
people knew nothing of these things. After it was done, who could
have denied but that Jeroboam was set on the throne, as it were, by
the hand of God? All this is true; but with are regard to the
people, he was not created by God a king. Why? Because the Lord had
commanded David and his posterity to reign perpetually. We hence see
that all things done in the world are so disposed by the secret
counsel of God, that he regulates whatever the ungodly attempts and
whatever even Satan tries to do, and yet he remains just; and it
avails nothing to lessen the fault of evils when they say, that all
things are governed by the secret counsel of God. With regard to
themselves, they know what the Lord enjoins in his law; let them
follow that rule: when they deviate from it, there is no ground for
them to excuse themselves and say that they have obeyed God; for
their design is ever to be regarded. We hence see how the Israelites
appointed a king, but not by God; for it was sedition that impelled
them, when, at the same time, the law enjoined that they should
choose no one as a king except him who had been elected by God; and
he had marked out the posterity of David, and designed that they
should occupy the royal throne till the coming of Christ.
    Then follows the other charge, - that "they made to themselves
idols from their gold and from their silver". God here complains
that his worship was not only fallen into decay, but that it was
also wholly corrupted by superstitions. It was an impiety not to be
borne, that the people had desired a new king for themselves; but it
was the summit of all evils, when the Israelites converted their
gold and their silver into idols. "They have made", he says, "their
gold and silver idols"; that is, "I destined the gold and the
silver, with which they have been enriched, for very different
purposes. When, therefore, I was liberal to them, they abused my
kindness, and from their gold and their silver they made to
themselves idols or gods." Here, then, the Prophet, by implication,
sharply reproves the blind madness of the people, that they made to
themselves gods of corruptible things, which ought, in the meantime,
to be serviceable to them; for to what purpose is money given us by
the Lord, but for our daily use? Since, then, the Lord has destined
gold and silver for our service, what frenzy it is when men work
them into gods for themselves! But this main point must be ever
remembered, that the Israelites, in all things, betrayed their own
defection; for they hesitated not to overthrow the kingdom which God
had instituted for their salvation, and they dared to pervert the
whole worship of God, together with the priesthood, by introducing
new superstitions.
    Then follows a denunciation of punishment - "Therefore Israel
shall be cut of". Were any, indeed, to object and say that God was
too rigid, there would be no reason for such an objection; for they
had betrayed and violated their pledged faith, and by condemning and
treading under foot both the kingdom and priesthood, they had
rejected his favor. We hence see that the Prophet threatens them now
with deserved destruction. Let us proceed -

Hosea 8:5
Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast [thee] off; mine anger is kindled
against them: how long [will it be] ere they attain to innocency?
    
    The Prophet goes on with the same subject; for he shows that
Israel perished through their own fault, and that the crime, or the
cause of destruction, could not be transferred to any other. There
is some ambiguity in the words, which does note however, obscure the
sense; for whether we read calf in the objective case, or say, "thy
calf has removed thee far off", it will be the same. Some say, "has
forsaken thee," as they do above, "Israel has forsaken good;" but
the sense of throwing away is to be preferred. Thy calf, then,
Samaria, has cast thee off", or, "The Lord has cast far off thy
calf." If we read thy calf in the "objective" case, then the Prophet
denounces destruction not only on the Israelites, but also on the
calf in which they hoped. But the probable exposition is, that the
calf had removed far off", or driven far Samaria or the people of
Samaria; and this, I have no doubt, is the meaning of the words; for
the Prophet, to confirm his previous doctrine, seems to remind the
Israelites again, that the cause of their destruction was not
anywhere to be sought but in their wickedness, and especially
because they, having forsaken the true God, had made an idol for
themselves, and formed the calf to be in the place of God. Now, it
was a stupidity extremely gross and perverse, that having
experienced, through so many miracles, the infinite power and
goodness of God, they should yet have betaken themselves to a dead
thing. They forged for themselves a calf! Must they not have been
moved, as it were, by a prodigious madness, when they did thus fall
away from the true God, who had so often and so wonderfully made
himself known to them?
    Hence God says now "Thy calf O Samaria"; that is "The captivity
which now impends over thee will not happen by a fortuitous chance,
nor will it be right to ascribe it to the wrong done by enemies,
that they shall by force take thee to distant lands; but thy very
calf drives thee away. God had indeed fixed thee in this land, that
it might be to thee a quiet heritage to the end; but thy calf has
not suffered thee to rest here. The land of Canaan was indeed thy
heritage, as it was also the Lord's heritage; but after God has been
banished, and the calf has been introduced in his place, by what
right can you now remain in the possession of it? Thy calf, then,
expels thee, inasmuch as by thy calf thou hast first attempted to
banish the true God." We now perceive the mind of the Prophet.
    He afterwards says that "his anger kindled against them". He
includes here all the Israelites, and shows that it cannot be
otherwise, but that God would inflict on them extreme vengeance,
inasmuch as they were not teachable, (as we have before often
observed,) and could not be turned nor reformed by any admonitions.
    "How long", he says, "will they be not able to attain
cleanness, or innocence?" He here deplores the obstinacy of the
people, that at no period or space of time had they returned to a
sane mind, and that there was no hope of them in future. "How long
then will they not be able to attain innocence?" "Since it is so;
that is, since they are unimpressible, as they commonly say, since
they are void of all purity or innocence, I am, therefore, now
constrained to adopt the last remedy, and, that is, to destroy
them." Here God shuts the mouth of the ungodly, that they could not
object that the severity which he so rigidly exercised towards them
was immoderate. He refutes their calumnies by saying, that he had
patiently borne with them, and was still bearing with them. But he
saw them to be so obstinate in their wickedness, that no hope of
them could be entertained. It follows -

Hosea 8:6
For from Israel [was] it also: the workman made it; therefore it
[is] not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces.

    The beginning of this verse is not rightly explained, as I
thinks by those who so connect the pronoun demonstrative "hu'" as if
it had an interposed copulative; and this ought to be noticed, for
it gives a great emphasis to the Prophet's words. "Even this is from
Israel. But what does the Prophet mean? He means this, that the calf
was from Israel, as they had long before, at te beginning, formed to
themselves a calf in the desert. But we do not yet clearly apprehend
the mind of the Prophet, unless we perceive that there is here an
implied comparison. For he accuses the Israelites of being the first
founders of this superstition, and that they had not been, as it
were, deceived by others; for they had not borrowed this corruption
from the Gentiles, as it had been at times the case; but it was, so
to speak, an intrinsic invention. "From Israel", he says, "it is";
that is, "I find that you are now the second time the fabricators of
this impious superstition. Could your fathers, when they forged a
calf for themselves in the desert, make excuse (ae they did) and
say, that they were led by the faith of others? Could they plead
that this cause of offence was presented to them by the Gentiles,
and that they were ensnared, as it often happens, when some draw
others into error? By no means. As then your fathers, when no one
tempted them to superstition, became the founders of this new
superstition through their own inclination, and, as it weren through
the instigation of the devil, so this calf is the second time from
Israel, for ye cannot otherwise account for its origin, ye cannot
transfer the fault to other nations; within, within," he says, "has
this evil been generated." We now perceive the meaning of the
Prophet, which is, that this superstition was not derived from
others, but that Israel, under the influenee of no evil persuader,
had devised for themselves, of their own accord, this corruption,
through which they had departed from the true and pure worship of
God. It ia indeed true, that oxen and calves were worshipped in
Egypt, and the same also might be said of other nations; but
rivalship did not influence the people of Israel. What then? It
cannot certainly be denied, but that they had stimulated themselves
to this impious denial of God.
    The same thing may be brought against the Papists of this day;
that is, that the filthy mass of superstitions, by which the whole
worship of God ia corrupted by them, has been produced by
themselves. If they object and say, that they have borrowed many
rites from the heathens: this is indeed true; but was it the
imitation of heathens which led them to these wicked inventions? By
no means, but their own lust has led them astray; for being not
content with the simple word of God, they have devised for
themselves strange and spurious modes of worship; and afterwards
additions were made according to the caprices of individuals: thus
it has happened, that they are sunk in the deepest gulf. Whence then
have the Papists so many patrons, on whom relying, then despise
Christ the Mediator? Even because they have adopted them for
themselves. Whence also have they so many ungodly ceremonies, by
which they pervert the worship of God? Even because they have
fabricated them for themselves.
    We now then see how grievous was the accusation, that the calf
was even from Israel. "There ia no reason then", the Lord says, "for
you to say that you have been deceived by bad examples, like tbose
who are mixed with profane heathens and contract their viccs, as
contagion creeps in easily among men, for they are by nature prone
to vice; there is no reason," he says, "for any one to make an
objection of this kind." Why? "Because the calf your fathers made
for themselves in the desert was from Israel; and this calf also is
from Israel, for it was not thrust upon you by others, but Jeroboam,
your king, made it for you, and you willingly and applaudingly
received it."
    "The workman", he says, "made it, and it is not God". Here the
Prophet derides the stupidity oЈ the people; and there are many
other like places, which occur everywhere, especially in the
Prophets, in which God reprobates this madness of having recourse to
modes of worship so absurd. For what is more contrary to reason than
for man to prostrate himself before a dead piece of wood or before a
atone, and to seek salvation from it? The unbelieving indeed put on
their guises and say that they seek God in heaven, and, because
idols and imaneg are types of God, that they come to him through
them; but yet what they do appears evident. These pretencea are then
altogether vain, for their stupidity is openly seen, when they thus
bend their knees before a wood or stone. Hence the Prophet here
inveighs against this senseless stupidity, because man had made the
idol. "Can a mortal man make a god? Ye do certainly ascribe divinity
to the calf; is this in the power of the workman? Man has not
bestowed life on himself, and cannot for one moment preserve that
life which he has obtained at the pleasure of another; how then can
he make a god from wood or stone? What sort of madness is this?
    He then adds, "It is not God, for in fragments shall be the
calf of Samaria". The Prophet shows here from the event, how there
was no power or no divinity in the calf, because it was to be
reduced to fragments. The event then would at length show how madly
the Israelites played the fool, when they formed to themselves a
calf, to be as it were the symbol of the divine presence. We now see
what the Prophet means: for he enhances the sin of Israel, because
they had not been enticed by others to depart from the pure and
genuine worship of God, but they had been their own deceivers. This
is the meaning. It follows -

Hosea 8:7
For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it
hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the
strangers shall swallow it up.

    The Prophet here shows by another figure how unprofitably the
Israelites exercised themselves in their perverted worship, and then
how vainly they excused their superstitions. And this reproof is
very necessary also in the present day. For we see that hypocrites,
a hundred times convicted, will not yet cease to clamour something:
in short, they cannot bear to be conquered; even when their
conscience reproves them, they will still dare to vomit forth their
virulence against God. They will also dare to bring forward vain
pretences: hence the Prophet says, that they have sown the wind, and
that they shall reap the whirlwind. It is an appropriate metaphor;
for they shall receive a harvest suitable to the sowing. The seed is
cast on the earth, and afterwards the harvest is gathered: "They
have sown", he says, "the wind, they shall then gather the
whirlwind", or, the tempest. To sow the wind is nothing else than to
put on some appearance to dazzle the eyes of the simple, and by
craft and guise of words to cover their own impiety. When one then
casts his hand, he seems to throw seed on the earth, but yet he sows
the wind. So also hypocrites have their displays, and set themselves
in order, that they may appear wholly like the pious worshipers of
God.
    We hence see that the design of the Prophet's metaphor, when he
says that they sow the wind, is to show this, that though they
differ nothing from the true worshippers of God in outward
appearance, they yet sow nothing but wind; for when the Israelites
offered their sacrifices in the temple, they no doubt conformed to
the rule of the law, but at the same time came short of obedience to
God. There was no faith in their services: it was then wind; that
is, they had nothing but a windy and an empty show, though the
outward aspect of their service differed nothing from the true and
legitimate worship of God. They then sow the wind and reap the
whirlwind. But we cannot finish to-day.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that since the rule of thy true and lawful
worship is sufficiently known to us, and thou continues to exhart us
to persevere in our course, and to abide in that pure and simple
worship which thou hast fully approved, - O grant, that we may, in
true obedience of faith, respond to thee: and though we now see the
whole world carried here and there, and all places full of the awful
examples of apostacy, and so much madness everywhere prevailing,
that men become more and more hardened daily, - O grant, that, being
fortified by invincible faith against these so many temptations, we
may persevere in true religion, and never at any time turn aside
from the teaching of thy word, until we be at length gathered to
Christ our King, under whom, as our head, thou hast promised that we
shall ever be safe, and until we attain that happy life which is
laid up for us in heaven, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lecture Twenty-second.
    
    We were not able in the last lecture to finish what the Prophet
haa said in the seventh verse; that is, that whatever hope the
Israelites entertained would be deceptive and fruitless; for they
imagined many deliverances as arising from nothing. He had before
condemned their wandering and perverse circuitous courses, now
flying to Egypt, then to Assyria, in order to seek assistance, and
at the same time overlooking and neglecting God. He therefore says
now, that they would have to gather fruit corresponding with what
was sown: "They had sown the wind, they shall reap", he says, "the
whirlwind". And by this figure he signifies that their confidence
was vain, that their counsels were frivolous.
    He afterwards adds, that there would be no stalk; and pursuing
the same similitude, he says, "The bud shall yield no meal; if so be
it yields, strangers shall swallow it up". The meaning is, that the
Israelites went astray in their counsels, and had nothing real; it
was the same as if one had sown the wind. Then follows the harvest
of the whirlwind; for their seed would not spring up, no corn would
grow which would yield meal; but if their counsels attained any
fruit, or if they reaped any thing, strangers would devour it; for
the Lord would at length cause that their enemies would scatter
whatever they thought that they had attained. It further follows -

Hosea 8:8
Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a
vessel wherein [is] no pleasure.

    He uses the same word as before when he spake of the meal, and
says, that not only the provision of Israel shall be devoured, but
also the people themselves; and he upbraids the Israelites with
their miseries, that they might at length acknowledge God to be
adverse to them. For the Prophet's object was this - to make them
feel their evils, that they might at length humble themselves and
learn suppliantly to pray for pardon. For it is a great wisdom, when
we so far profit under God's scourges, that our sins come before our
eyes.
    He therefore says, "Israel is devoured and is like a cast off
vessel, even among the Gentiles", when yet that people excelled the
rest of the world, as the Lord had chosen them for himself. As they
were a peculiar people, they were superior to other nations; and
then they were set apart for this end, that they might have nothing
in common with the Gentiles. But he says now that this people is
dispersed, and everywhere despised and cast off. This could not have
been, except God had taken away his protection. We hence see that
the Prophet had this one thing in view - to make the Israelites feel
that God was angry with them. It now follows

Hosea 8:9,10
For they are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass alone by himself:
Ephraim hath hired lovers.
Yea, though they have hired among the nations, now will I gather
them, and they shall sorrow a little for the burden of the king of
princes.

    Here again the Prophet derides all the lahour the people had
undertaken to exempt themselves from punishment. For though
hypocrites dare not openly and avowedly to fight against God, yet
they seek vain subterfuges, by which they may elude him. So the
Israelites ceased not to weary themselves to escape the judgment of
God; and this folly, or rather madness, the Prophet exposes to
scorn. "They have gone up to Assyria", he says, "as a wild ass
alone; Ephraim had hired lovers". In the first clause he indirectly
reprobates the brutish wildness of the people, as though he said,
"They are like the wild animals of the wood, which can by no means
be tamed." And Jeremiah uses this very same similitude, when he
complains of the people as being led away by their own indomitable
lust, being like the wild ass, who, snuffing the wind, betakes
himself, in his usual manner, to a precipitant course, (Jer. 2: 24.)
Probably he touches also, in an indirect way, on the unbelief of the
people in having despised the protection of God; for the people
ought not to have thus hastened to Assyria, as if they were
destitute of every help, because they knew that they were protected
by the hand of God. And the Prophet here reproves them for regarding
as nothing that help which the Lord had promised, and which he was
really prepared to afford, had not the Israelites betaken themselves
elsewhere. Hence he says, "Ephraim, as a wild ass, has gone up to
Assyria"; he perceived not that he would be secure and safe,
provided he sheltered himself under the shadow of the hand of his
God; but as if God could do nothing, he retook himself to the
Assyrians: this was ingratitude. And then he again takes up the
similitude which we have before noticed, that the people of Israel
had shamefully and wickedly departed from the marriage-covenant
which God had made with them: for God, we know, was to the
Israelites in the place of a husband, and had pledged his faith to
them; but when they transferred themselves to another, they were
like unchaste women, who prostitute themselves to adulterers, and
desert their own husbands. Hence the Prophet again reproves the
Israelites for having violated their faith pledged to God, and for
being like adulterous women. He indeed goes farther, and says, that
they hired adulterers for wages. Unchaste women are usually enticed
by the charms of gain; for when adulterers wish to corrupt a woman,
they offer gifts, they offer money. He says that this practice was
inverted; and the same thing is expressed by the Prophet Ezekiel;
who, after having stated that women are usually corrupted by having
some gain or some advantage proposed to them, adds, 'But thou
wastest thine own property, and settest not thyself to hire, but on
the contrary thou hirest wantons,' (Ezek. 16: 31-33.) So the Prophet
speaks here, though more briefly, "Ephraim", he says, "has hired
lovers".
    But it follows, "Though they have hired among the nations, now
will I gather them". This place may be variously expounded. The
commonly received explanation is, that God would gather the hired
nations against Israel; but I would rather refer it to the people
themselves. But it admits of a twofold sense: the first is, that the
great forces which the people has on every side acquired for
themselves, would not prevent God from destroying them; for the verb
"kabats" which they render, "to gather," often means in Hebrew to
throw by a slaughter into an heap, as we say in French, Trousser,
(to bundle.) And this meaning would be very suitable - that though
they extended themselves far and wide, by gathering forces on every
side, they would yet be collected in another way, for they would be
brought together into a heap. The second sense is this - that when
Israel should be drawn away to the Gentiles, the Lord would gather
him; as though he said, "Israel burns with mad lusts, and runs here
and there among the Gentiles; this heat is nothing else than
dispersion; it is the same as if he designedly wished to destroy the
unity in which his safety consists; but I will yet gather him
against his will; that is, preserve him for a time."
    It then follows, "They shall grieve a little for the burden of
the king and princes". The word which the Prophet uses interpreters
expound in two ways. Some derive "yachelu" from the verb "chal", and
others from "chalal", which means, "to begin;" and therefore give
this rendering, "They shall begin with the burden of the king and
princes;" that is, They shall begin to be burdened by the king and
princes. Others offer this version, "They shall grieve a little for
the burden of the king and princes;" that is, They shall be
tributaries before the enemies shall bring them into exile; and this
will be a moderate grief.
    If the first interpretation which I have mentioned be approved,
then there is here a comparison between the scourges with which God
at first gently chastised the people, and the last punishment which
he was at length constrained to inflict on them; as though he said,
"They complain of being burdened by tributes; it is nothing, or at
least it is nothing so grievous, in comparison with the dire future
grief which their last destruction will bring with it."
    But this clause may well be joined with that mitigation which I
have briefly explained, and that is, that when the people had
willingly dispersed themselves, they had been preserved beyond
expectation, so that they did not immediately perish; for they would
have run headlong into destruction, had not God interposed an
hindrance. Thus the two verses are to be read conjointly, "They
ascended into Assyria as a wild ass"; that is, "They showed their
unnameable and wild disposition, when thus unrestrainedly carried
away; and then they offer me a grievous insult; for as if they were
destitute of my help, they run to the profane Gentiles, and esteem
as nothing my power, which would have been ready to help them, had
they depended on me, and placed their salvation in my hand." He then
reproaches their perfidy, that they were like unchaste women, who
leave their husbands, and abandon themselves to lewdness. Then it
follows, "Though they do this", that is, "Though having despised my
aid, they seek deliverance from the profane Gentiles, and though
they despise me, and choose to submit themselves to adulterers
rather than to keep their conjugal faith with me, I will yet gather
them, when thus dispersed." The Lord here enhances the sin of the
people; for he did not immediately punish their ingratitude and
wickedness, but deferred doing so for a time; and in his kindness he
would have led them to repentance, had not their madness been wholly
incurable: rrhough then they thus hire among the Gentiles, I will
yet gather them, that is, "preserve them;" and for what purpose?
That they may grieve a little, and that is, that they may not wholly
perish, as persons running headlong into utter ruin; for they seemed
designedly to seek their last destruction, when they were thus
wilfully and violently carried away to profane nations. That is
indeed a most dreadful tearing of the body, which cannot be
otherwise than fatal. "They shall", however, "grieve a little"; that
is, "I will so act, that they may by degrees return to me, even by
the means of moderate grief."
    We hence see more clearly why the Prophet said, that this grief
would be small, which was to be from the burden of the king and
princes. It was designed by the Israelites to excite the Assyrians
immediately to war; and this would have turned out to their
destruction, as it did at last; but the Lord suspended his
vengeance, and at the same time mitigated their grief, when they
were made tributaries. The king and his counsellors were constrained
to exact great tributes; the people then grieved: but they had no
other than a moderate grief, that they might consider their sins and
return to the Lord; yet all this was without any fruit. Hence the
less excusable was the obstinacy of the people. We now perceive what
the Prophet meant. It now follows -

Hosea 8:11
Because Ephraim hath made many altars to sin, altars shall be unto
him to sin.
    
    The Prophet here again inveighs against the idolatry of the
people, which was, however, counted then the best religion; for the
Israelites, as it has been said were become hardened in their
superstitions, and had long before fallen away from the pure and
lawful worship of God. And we know, that where error has once
prevailed, it attains firmness by length of time: hence the
Israelites had become hardened in their perverted and fictitious
worship. They thought that they did the most meritorious deed
whenever they sacrificed, while at the same time, they provoked in
this way the wrath of God more and more against themselves. And as
they had become thus hardened, the Prophet says, "that they
multiplied for themselves altars for the purpose of sinning, and
that there would be altars for them to sin". It was (as I have
already said) most difficult to persuade theme that their altars
were for the purpose of sinnings and that the more attentive they
were in worshipping God, the more grievously they sinned.
    We see how Papists of this day glory in their abominations. It
is certain that they do nothing but what is accursed before God; for
there reigns among them every kind of filthiness, and there is no
purity whatever: they therefore continue to offend God as it were
designedly. Put at the same time it is their highest holiness to
multiply altars: the same also was the prevailing error in the
Prophet's time. This was the reason why he said, that "altars were
multiplied in order to sin". Who at this day can persuade the
Papists, that many chapels as they build, are so many sins by which
they provoke the wrath of God? But the faithful ought to be content,
not with one altar, (for there is now no need of an altar,) but they
ought to be content with a common table. The Papists, on the
contrary, build altars to themselves without end, where they
sacrifice; and they think that God is thus bound to them as by so
many chains: as many chapels as are under the papacy are, they
think, so many holds for God, and that God is there held inclosed.
But if any one should say, that so many fiends dwell in euch places,
we know how furiously angry they would be.
    It is then no superfluous repetition, when the Prophet says,
that "altars were multiplied in order to sin"; and then, "that
altars would be for sin": for in the second clause, he speaks of the
punishment which God would inflict on superstitious men. In the
first clause, he shows that their good intentions were frivolous,
and that they were greatly deceived, when at their pleasure they
devised for themselves various forms of worship. This is one thing.
Then it follows, "There shall then be to them altars to sin"; as
they would not willingly repent, nor embrace salutary admonitions,
God would at last really show how much he valued what they called
their good intentions; for now a dreadful vengeance was at hand,
which would prove to them, that in increasing altars, they did
nothing else but increase sins. It then follows -

Hosea 8:12
I have written to him the great things of my law, [but] they were
counted as a strange thing.

    The Prophet shows here briefly, how we ought to judge of divine
worship, and thus intends to cut off the handle from all devices, by
which men usually deceive themselves, and form disguises, when at
any time they are reproved. For he sets the law of God, and the rule
it prescribes, in opposition to all the inventions of men. Men think
God unjust, except he receives as good and legitimate whatever they
imagine to be so; but God, as it is said in another place, prefers
obedience to all sacrifices. Hence the Prophet now declares, that
all the superstitions, which then prevailed among the people of
Israel, were condemned before God; for they obeyed not the law, but
had spurious and perverted modes of worship, which they had invented
for themselves. We then see the connection of what the Prophet says:
he had said in the last verse, that they had multiplied altars for
the purpose of sinning; but so great, as I have said, was the
obstinacy of the people, that they would by no means bear this to be
told to them; he then adds in the person of God, that his law had
been given them, and that they had departed from it.
    We hence see, that there is no need of using many words in
contending with the superstitious, who daringly devise various kinds
of worship, and wholly different from what God commands; for they
are to be distinctly pressed with this one thing, that obedience is
of more account with God than sacrifices, and further, that there is
a certain rule contained in the law, and that God not only bids us
to worship him, but also teaches us the way, from which it is not
lawful to depart. Since, then, the will of God is known and made
plain, why should we now dispute with men, who close their eyes and
wilfully turn aside, and deign not to pay any regard to God? "I have
written" then, the Lord says: and to give this truth more weight, he
introduces God as the speaker. It would have indeed been enough to
say, "God has delivered to you his law, why should you not seek
knowledge from this law, rather than from your own carnal judgment?
Why do you wish thus licentiously to wander, as if no restraint has
been put upon you?" But it is a more emphatical way of speaking,
when God himself says, "I have written my law, but they have counted
it as something foreign"; that is, as if it did not belong to them.
    But he says, that he had written "to Israel". He does not
simply mention writing, but says, that the treasure had been
deposited among the people of Israel; and the worse the people were,
because they acknowledged not that so great an honor had been
conferred on them, for this was their peculiar inheritance. I have
written then my law, "and I have not written it indiscriminately for
all, but have written it for my elect people; but they have counted
it as something extraneous." For the word may be rendered in either
way.
    He adds, "The great things", or, "the precious", or, "the
honorable things" of my law. Had he said, "I have written to you my
law," the legislator himself was doubtless worthy, to whom all ought
to submit with the greatest reverence, and to form their whole life
according to his will; but the Lord here extols his own law by a
splendid eulogy, and this he does to repress the wickedness of men,
who obscure its dignity and excellency: I have written, he says, the
great things of my law. "How much soever they may despise my law, I
have yet set forth in it a wisdom which ought to be admired by the
whole world; I have in it brought to light the secrets of heavenly
wisdom. Since then it is so, what excuse can there be for the
Israelites for despising my law?" He says, that they counted it as
something foreign, when yet they had been brought up under its
teaching, and the Lord had called them to himself from their very
infancy. Since then they ought to have acknowledged the law of God
as a banner, under which the Lord preserved them, he here reproaches
them for having counted it as something extraneous. It then followa
-

Hosea 8:13
They sacrifice flesh [for] the sacrifices of mine offerings, and eat
[it; but] the LORD accepteth them not; now will he remember their
iniquity, and visit their sins: they shall return to Egypt.
    
    Interpreters think that the Israelites are here derided because
they trusted in their own ceremonies, and that their sacrifices are
reproachfully called flesh. But we must see whether the words of the
Prophet contain something deeper. For the word "havhav" some rightly
expound, in my judgment, as meaning "sacrifices," either burnt or
roasted; it is a word of four letters. Others derive it from
"yahav", which signifies "to give gifts;" and hence they render
thus, "sacrifices of my gifts;" and this is the more received
opinion. I view the Prophet here as not only blaming the Israelites
for putting vain trust in their own ceremonies, which were perverted
and vicious; but also as adducing something more gross, and by which
it could be proved, that their folly was even ridiculous, yea, to
profane men and children. When we only read, "The sacrifices of my
gifts," which they ought to have offered to me, the sense seems
frigid; but when we read, "The sacrifices of my burnt-offerings!
they offer flesh", the meaning is, So palpable is their contempt,
that they cannot but be condemned even by children. How so? Because
for burnt-offerings they offer flesh to me; that is they fear lest
any portion of the sacrifices should be lost: and when they ought,
when offering burnt-sacrifices, to burn the flesh, they keep it
entire, that they may stuff themselves. Hence they make a great
display in sacrificing: and yet it appears to be palpable mockery,
for they turn burnt-offerings into peace-offerings, that the flesh
may remain entire for them to eat it. And no doubt, it has ever been
a vice dominant in hypocrites to connect gain with superstitions.
How much soever, then, idolaters may show themselves to be wholly
devoted to God, they yet will take care that nothing be lost.
    The Prophet then seems now to reprove this vice; I yet allow
that the Israelites are blamed for thinking that God is pacified by
sacrifices which were of themselves of no value, as we have had
before a similar declaration. But I join both views together - that
they offered to God vain sacrifices without piety, and then, that
they offered flesh for burnt-offerings, and thus fed themselves and
cared not for the worship of God. "The sacrifices" then "of my
burnt-offerings they offer"; but what do they offer? "Flesh". Nor
does he seem to have mentioned in vain the word flesh. Some say that
all sacrifices are here called flesh by way of contempt; but there
seems rather to me to be a contrast made between burnt sacrifices
and flesh; because the people of Israel wished to take care of
themselves and to have a rich repast, when the Lord required a
burnt-offering to be presented to him: and he afterwards adds, and
they eat. By the word eating, he confirms what I have already said,
that is, that he here reproves in the Israelites the vice of being
intent only on cramming themselves, and of only putting forth the
name of God as a vain pretence, while they were only anxious to feed
themselves.
    It is the same with the Papists of our day, when they celebrate
their festivals; they indulge themselves, and think that the more
they drink and eat, the more God is bound to them. This is their
zeal; they eat flesh, and yet think that they offer sacrifices to
God. They offer, then, their stomach to God, when it is thus well
filled. Such are the oblations of the Papists. So also the Prophet
now says, "They eat the flesh which they ought to have burned."
    "The Lord", he says, "will not accept them". Here again he
briefly shows, that while hypocrites thus make pretences, they are
self-deceived, and will at last find out how vainly they have lied
to God and men: "God will not accept them." He here repudiates, in
the name of God, their sacrifices; for whatever they might promise
to themselves, it was enough that they devised for themselves these
modes of worship; for God had never commanded a word respecting
them.
    It then follows, "Now will he remember their iniquity, and
visit their sins". The Prophet denounces a future punishment, lest
hypocrites should flatter themselves, when God's fury is not
immediately kindled against them, for it is usual with them to abuse
the patience of God. Hence Hosea now forewarns them, and says,
"Though God may connive for a time, there is yet no reason for the
Israelites to think that they shall be free from punishment: God
will at length," he says, "remember their iniquity." He uses a
common form of speaking, which everywhere occurs in Scripture: God
is said to remember when he really, and as with a stretched-out
hand, shows himself to be an avenger. "The Lord now spares you; but
he will, in a short time, show how much he abominates these your
impure sacrifices: He will remember, then, your iniquity."
Visitation follows this remembering, as the effect the cause.
    "They shall flee", he says, "to Egypt". The Prophet, I doubt
not, intimates here, that vain would be all the escapes which the
Israelites would seek; and though God might allow them to flee to
Egypt, yet it would be, he says, without any advantage: "Go, flee to
Egypt, but your flight will be useless." The Prophet expressed this
distinctly, that the people might know that they had to do with God,
against whom they could make no defense, and that they might no
longer deceive themselves by foolish imaginations. And though the
people were blinded by so great an obstinacy, that this admonition
had no effect; yet they were thus rendered the more inexcusable. It
now follows -

Hosea 8:14
For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples; and Judah
hath multiplied fenced cities: but I will send a fire upon his
cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof.
    
    Here the Prophet concludes his foregoing observations. It is
indeed probable that he preached them at various times; but, as I
have already said, the heads of the sermons which the Prophet
delivered are collected in this book, so that we may know what his
teaching was. He then discoursed daily on idolatry, on
superstitions, and on the other corruptions which then prevailed
among the people; he often repeated the same threatenings, but
afterwards collected into certain chaptera the things which he had
spoken. The conclusion, then, of his former teaching was this, that
"Israel had forgotten his Maker", whilst for himself he had been
"building temples". He says, that he forgot his Maker by building
temples because he followed not the directions of the law. We hence
see that God will have himself to be known by his word. Israel might
have objected and said, that no such thing was intended, when he
built temples in Dan and Bethel, but that he wished by these to
retain the remembrance of God. But the Prophet here shows that God
is not tryly known, and that men do not really remember him, except
when they worship him according to what the law prescribes, except
when they submit themselves wholly to his word, and undertake
nothing,and attempt nothing, but what he has commanded. What then
the superstitious say is remembrance, the Prophet here plainly
testifies is forgetfullness. The case is the same at this day, when
we blame the Papists for their idols; their excuse is this, that
what they set forth is in pictures and statues the image of God, and
that images, as they say, are the books of the illiterate. But what
does the Prophet answer here? That "Israel forgot his Maker". There
was an altar in Bethel, and there Israel was wont to offer
sacrifices, and they called this the worship of God; but the Prophet
shows that each worship was accursed before God, and that it had no
other effect than wholly to obliterate the holy name of God from the
minds of men, so that the whole of religion perished.
    Remarkable then is this passage; for the Prophet says, that the
people forgot God their Maher, when they built temples for
themselves. But what was in the temples so vicious, as to take away
the remembrance of God from the world? Even because God would have
but one temple and altar. If a reason was asked, a reason might
indeed have been given; but the people ought to have acquiesced in
the command of God. Though God may not show why he commands this or
that, it is enough that we ought to obey his word. Now, then, it
appears, that when Israel built for himself various temples, he
departed from God, and for this reason, because he followed not the
rule of the law, and kept not himself within the limits of the
divine command. Hence it was to forget God. We now apprehend the
object of the Prophet.
    Though then they were wont to glory in their temples, and there
to display their pomp and splendor, and proudly to delight in their
superstitions, yet the Prophet says, that they had forgotten their
Creator, and for this reason only, because they had not continued in
his law. He says, that they had forgotten God "their Maker"; by the
word "Maker", the Prophet alludes not to God as the framer of the
world and the creator of men, but he applies it to the condition of
the people. For, as we well know, the favor of God had been peculiar
towards that people; he had not only made them, as a part of the
human race, but also formed them a people to himself. Since then God
had thus intended them to be devoted to him, the Prophet here
increases and enhances their sin, when he says, that they obeyed not
his word, but followed their own devices and depraved imaginations.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that as we have already so often provoked thy
wrath against us, and thou hast in thy paternal indulgence borne
with us, or at least chastised us so gently as to spare us, - 0
grant, that we may not become hardened in our wickedness, but
seasonably repent, and that we may not be drawn away after the
inventions of our flesh, nor seek ways to flee away from thee, but
come straight forward to thy presence, and make a humble, sincere,
and honest confession of our sins, that thou mayest receive us into
favor, and that being reconciled to us, thou mayest bestow on us a
larger measure of thy blessings, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lecture Twenti-third.
    
    It remains for us to consider the second part of the last verse
of the eighth chapter, in which the Prophet blames the tribe of
Judah for multiplying fenced cities. This was not in itself
condemnable before God; but the Prophet saw that the confidence of
the people was transferred to these cities as it usually happens.
Rare indeed is the example, when any people are well fortified, that
they become not implicated in this charge of misplaced confidence.
But as this vice in the tribe of Judah was well known, the Prophet
does not here complain without reason, that they reposed their hope
on their fortified cities, and thus deprived God of his just praise.
And then he denounces a punishment. "I will send Jire upon his
cities, and it shall devour his palaces". The meaning is, that when
men turn away their minds from God, and rely on perishable things, a
fatal destruction will at last follow; for the Lord will frustrate
the hope of those who thus deprive him of his honor. This then is
the meaning. Now follows the ninth chapter.

Chapter 9.

Hosea 9:1
Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as [other] people: for thou hast
gone a whoring from thy God, thou hast loved a reward upon every
cornfloor.

    It is not known at what time the Prophet delivered this
discourse, but it is enough to know that it is directed against the
obstinate wickedness of the people, because they could by no means
be turned to repentance, though their defection was, at the same
time, manifest. He now declares that God was so angry, that no
success could be hoped for. And this warning ought to be carefully
noticed; for we see that hypocrites as long as God spares or
indulges them, take occasion to be secure: they think that they have
sure peace with God, when he bears with them even for a short time;
and further, except the drawn sword appears, they are never afraid.
Since, then, men sleep so securely in their vices, especially when
the Lord treats them with forbearance and kindness, the Prophet here
declares, that the Israelites had no reason to rejoice for their
prosperity, or to flatter themselves under this cover, that the Lord
had not immediately taken vengeance on them; for he says, that
though all people under heaven were prosperous, yet Israel would be
miserable, because he had committed fornication against his God.
    We now perceive the meaning of the Prophet. "Israel", he says,
"rejoice not thou with exultations like the people"; that is,
"Whatever prosperity may happen to thee, though God may seem
propitious by not afflicting thee, but kindly bearing with thee, -
nay, though he may bountifully nourish thee, and may seem to give
thee many proofs of paternal favor, yet there is no reason for thee
to felicitate thyself, for vain will be this joy, because an unhappy
end awaits thee." "Thou hast committed fornication" he says,
"against thy God". This warning was very necessary. This vice, we
know, has ever prevailed among men, that they are blind to their
sins as long as the Lord spares them; and experience, at the present
day, most fully proves, that the same disease still cleaves to our
marrow. As it is so, let this passage of the Prophet awaken us, so
that we may not rejoice, though great prosperity may smile on us;
but let us rather inquire, whether God has a just cause of anger
against us. Though he may not openly put forth his hand, though he
may not pursue us, we ought yet to anticipate his wrath; for it is
the proper office of faith, not only to find out from present
punishment that God is angry, but also to fear, on account of any
prevailing vices, the punishment that is far distant. Let us then
learn to examine ourselves, and to make a severe scrutiny, even when
the Lord conceals his displeasure, and visits us not for our sins.
If, then, we have committed fornication against God, all our
prosperity ought to be suspected by us; for this contempt, in
abusing God's blessings, will have to be dearly bought by us.
    The comparison here made is also of great weight. "As other
people", says the Prophet. He means, that though God might pardon
heathen nations, yet he would punish Israel, for less excusable was
his apostasy and rebellion in having committed fornication against
his God. That other nations wandered in their errors, was no wonder;
but that Israel should have thus cast off the yoke, and then denied
his God, that he should have broken and violated the fidelity of
sacred marriage, - all this was quite monstrous. It is then no
wonder that God here declares, by the mouth of his Prophet, that
though he spared other people, he would yet inflict just punishment
on Israel.
    He then adds, "Thou hast loved a reward upon every cornfloor".
He pursues the same metaphor, that Israel had committed fornication
like an unchaste and perfidious woman. Hence he says, that they were
like harlots, who are so enticed by gain, that they are not ashamed
of their lewdness. He said yesterday, that the people had hired
lovers; but now he says, that they were led astray by the hope of
reward. These things are apparently contradictory; but their
different aspect is to be noticed. Israel hired for himself lovers,
when he purchased, with a large sum of money, a confederacy with the
Assyrians; but, at the same time, when he worshipped false gods with
the hope of gain, he was like strumpets, who prostitute their body
to all kinds of filthiness, when any rewards entice them.
    But a question may be here moved, Why does the Prophet say that
the reward is meretricious, when a plenty of corn is sought for? for
he reproaches the Israelites for no other thing, but that they
wished their floors to be filled with wheat. This seems not indeed
to be in itself worthy of reproof, for who of us does not desire a
fruitful increase of corn and wine? Nay, since the Lord, among other
blessings, promises to give abundance of provision, it is certainly
lawful to ask by supplications and prayers what he promises. But the
Prophet calls it a wicked reward, when what God has promised to give
is sought from idols. When therefore we depart from the one true
God, and devise for ourselves new gods to nourish us and supply our
food and raiment, we are like strumpets, who choose by lewdness to
gain support, rather than to receive it from their own husbands.
This is then to be like a woman whom her husband treats bountifully,
and she casts her eyes on others, and seeks a filthy reward from
adulterers. Such are idolaters. For God offers himself freely to us,
and testifies that he will perform the part of a father and
preserver; but the greater part, despising the blessing of God, flee
elsewhere, and invent for themselves false gods, as we see to be
done under the Papacy: for who are the patrons (nutricios -
nourishers) they implore, when either drought or any other adverse
season threatens sterility and want? They have an innumerable
multitude of gods to whom they flee. They are then strumpets who
hunt for gain from adulterers; while, at the same time, God freely
promises to be a husband to them, and to take care that nothing
should be wanting. Since, then, they are not satisfied with the
blessing of God alone, it is a meretricious lust, which is
insatiable, and in itself filthy and disgraceful.
    We now then see what the Prophet repudiates in the people of
Israel, and that is, They hoped for a larger abundance of corn from
their idols than from the true God, as was the case with the
idolaters mentioned by Jeremiah, 'when we served,' they said, 'the
queen of heaven, we abounded in wine and corn,' (Jer. 44: 17.) They
compared God with idols, and denied that they were so well and so
sumptuously provided for when they worshipped God alone. Since,
then, idolaters give honour to fictitious gods, so as to think them
to be more liberal to them than the true God, this is the reason
that the Prophet now so severely blames Israel, when he says that
they loved a meretricious reward on all the floors of wheat. It then
follows -

Hosea 9:2
The floor and the winepress shall not feed them, and the new wine
shall fail in her.

    God now denounces such a punishment as the Israelites deserved.
They had been drawn away, as we have said, from the pure worship of
God by allurements; they hoped for more profit from superstitions.
Hence God shows, that he would on this account punish them by taking
away from them their wine and corn, as we have already noticed in
chap. 2: for it is the only way by which the Lord restores men to a
sane mind, or at least renders them inexcusable, to deprive them of
his blessings. The harlot, as long as gain is to be had, as long as
she surpasses all honest and chaste matrons in her dress and mode of
living, is pleased with herself and blinded by her own splendour;
but when she is reduced to extreme want, when she sees herself to be
the laughing-stock of all, and when she drags a miserable life in
poverty, she then sighs and owns how infatuated she had been in
leaving her husband. So the Lord now declares by his Prophet, that
he would thus deal with the Israelites, that they might no longer
please themselves with such delusions.
    Hence he says, "The floor and the wine-press shall not feed
them, and the new wine shall disappoint them", (mentietur illis -
shall lie to them;) - that is, the vineyards shall not answer their
expectation. It is the same as though he said, "As these men regard
only their stomach, as they deem nothing of any moment but
provision, therefore the floor and the wine-press shall not feed
them; I will deprive them of their support, that they may understand
that they in vain worship false gods." Let us take a common
similitude: We see some boys so disingenuous as not to be moved
either by disgrace or even by stripes; but as they are subject to
the cravings of appetite, when the father deprives them of bread,
they nearly lose all hope. Stripes do no good, all warnings are
slighted; but when the boy who loves excess sees that bread is
denied him, he finds out that his father's displeasure ought to be
feared. Thus God corrects men addicted to excessive indulgence; for
they are so insensible, that no other remedy can do them any good.
    We now, then, apprehend the meaning of the Prophet. He first
reproaches the Israelites for loving a reward, for hastening after
fictitious gods, that they might glut themselves with great
abundance of things: but when the Lord saw that they had become
stupefied in their fatness, he said, "I will deprive them of all
their provisions; neither wine nor wheat shall be given them; this
want will at length drive them to repentance." We hence see how the
Lord deals with men according to their disposition. And his manner
of speaking ought to be noticed; he says, that neither the floor nor
the wine-press shall feed them. He does not say, that the fields
shall be barren; he does not say, that he would send hail or storm;
but he says, that neither the floor nor the wine-press shall feed
them; and further, that the new wine shall disappoint them; that is,
when they shall think themselves to be blessed with all plenty, when
the harvest shall appear abundant, and when they shall have already,
by anticipation, swallowed up the large produce of their vineyards,
all this shall come to nothing; for neither the floor nor the
wine-press shall feed them; nay, the very wine which they thought to
have been prepared shall disappoint them. It follows -

Hosea 9:3
They shall not dwell in the LORD's land; but Ephraim shall return to
Egypt, and they shall eat unclean [things] in Assyria.

    The Prophet proclaims here a heavier punishment - that the Lord
would drive them into exile. It was indeed a dreadful repudiation,
when they were deprived of the land of Canaan, which was the Lord's
rest, as it is called in the Psalms, (Ps. 132: 14.) While they dwelt
in the land of Canaan, they lived as it were in the habitations of
God, and could have a sure hope that he would be a father to them:
but when they were thence expelled, the Lord testified that he
regarded them as aliens; it was the same as when a father
disinherits his son. The Prophet now threatens them not only with
the want of food, but also with repudiation, which was far more
grievous - "They shall not dwell", he says, "in the Lord's land".
    There is an elegant play on words in the verbs here used;
"yeshvu" and "weshav"; the one is from "yashav" and the other from
"shuv". 'They shall not dwell in the Lord's land; but Ephraim shall
return into Egypt:' and the other circumstance is still more
dreadful. In Assyria they shall eat what is unclean; for it was the
same as if the Lord intended to blend that holy people with the
profane Gentiles, so that there should be afterwards no difference;
for the uncleanness of which the Prophet speaks would have the
effect of destroying the distinction which the adoption of God made
between that people and the profane nations. It was indeed by badges
that the Lord retained the people of Israel, when he ordered them to
abstain from unclean meats: but when they differed nothing, as to
common food, from the Gentiles, it was evident that they were
rejected by God, and that the holiness which belonged to them
through the free covenant of God was obliterated. "They shall eat",
then, "what is unclean in Assyria"; that is, "They shall not now be
under my care and protection; they shall live according to their own
will, as the other nations. I have hitherto preserved them under
some restraint; but now, as they will not bear to live under my law,
they shall have their own liberty, and shall be profane like the
rest of the world, so that they shall become involved in all the
defilements and pollutions of the Gentiles." This is the meaning.
    And now we ought to consider, whether it be right, when we are
among idolaters, to conform to the rites approved by them. This
place, no doubt, as other places, most clearly shows, that nothing
more grievous can happen to us than the doing away of all difference
between us and the profane despisers of God, even in the outward
manner of living. Had the Prophet said, "The Israelites shall now be
hungry in a far country; - the Lord has hitherto fed them with
plenty, for he has performed what he had formerly promised by Moses;
this land has in every way been blessed, and has supplied us with
great abundance of wine, wheat, and oil; yea, honey has flowed like
water; but they shall now be constrained to pine away with want
among their enemies:" - Had the Prophet said this, it would have
been a grievous and severe denunciation; but now he fills them, as
it has been already said, with much greater horror, for he says,
'They shall eat what is unclean.' There seemed to be some great
importance belonging to the external rite: but the outward
profession was the badge of divine adoption. When therefore the
people loosened the reins and ate indiscriminately any meat, and
made no choice according to the directions of the law, then the
distinction was removed, so that they ceased to be the people of
God. It is the same also, at this day, with those who turn aside
from a sincere profession of their faith and associate with the
Papists; they renounce, as far as they can, the favour of God, and
abandon themselves to the will of Satan.
    Let us then know that it is a dreadful judgement of God, when
we are not allowed to profess our faith by outward worship; and when
the ungodly so rule, as to put us under the necessity of which the
Prophet here speaks, even of eating unclean things, that is, of
being implicated in their profane superstitions. It is then a
favour, to be highly valued, when we are permitted to abstain from
all defilements and to worship God purely, so that no one may
contaminate himself by dissimulation: but when we are compelled,
under the tyranny of the ungodly, to conform to impure
superstitions, it is a sign of the dreadful judgement of God; and
there is nothing by which any one can excuse himself in this respect
or extenuate his fault, as many do, whom yet conscience bites
within, though they deem it sufficient to spread forth their own
excuses before the eyes of men. But there is nothing by which such
men can either flatter themselves, or dazzle the eyes of the simple;
for it is an extreme reproach, when people, who ought to be sacred
to God and to profess outwardly his pure worship, suffer themselves
to be polluted with unclean food. It follows -

Hosea 9:4
They shall not offer wine [offerings] to the LORD, neither shall
they be pleasing unto him: their sacrifices [shall be] unto them as
the bread of mourners; all that eat thereof shall be polluted: for
their bread for their soul shall not come into the house of the
LORD.
    
    It is uncertain whether the Prophet testifies here, that they
should lose their labour and their oil (as they say) when they
sacrificed to God; or whether he declares what would be the case
when they had been driven into exile. Both views seem probable. Now,
if we refer the words of the Prophet to the time of exile, they seem
not unsuitable, "They shall not then pour out wine to Jehovah, and
their sacrifices shall not be acceptable to him; no oblation shall
come any more to the temple of Jehovah." And thus many understand
the passage; yet the former sense is the most appropriate, as it may
be easily gathered from the context. The Prophet says, that they
shall not pour out wine to Jehovah, and that their sacrifices shall
not be acceptable to him; and then he adds, "All that eat shall be
polluted". It seems not by any means applicable to exiles, that they
should vainly endeavour to pour out wine to God; for their religion
forbade them to do such a thing. Further, when he says, "Their
sacrifices shall be to them as the bread of mourners", - this must
also be understood of sacrifices, which they were wont daily to
offer to God; for in exile (as it has been said) it was not lawful
for them to make any offering, nor had they there an altar or a
sanctuary.
    What, then, is the meaning of the Prophet, when he says, "All
that eat of their sacrifices shall be polluted"? We must know that
the Prophet speaks here of the intermediate time, as though he said,
"What the Israelites now sacrifice is without any advantage, and God
is not pacified with these trifles for they bring polluted hands,
they change not their minds, they obtrude their sacrifices on God,
but they themselves first pollute them." Of this same doctrine we
have already often treated; I shall not then dwell on it now; but it
is enough to point out the design of the Prophet, which was to show
that the Israelites were seeking in vain to pacify God by their
ceremonies, for they were vain expiations which God did not regard,
but deemed as worthless.
    They shall not then pour out wine to God. There is an important
meaning in this sentence; for it is certain that as long as the
Israelites lived in their country, they were sedulous enough in the
performance of outward worship, and that drink-offerings were not
neglected by them. Since, then, this custom prevailed among them,
the Prophet must be speaking here only of the effect, and says, that
they exercised themselves in vain in their frivolous worship, for
they poured not out wine to Jehovah, that is, their libation did not
come to Jehovah; and he explains himself afterwards, when he says,
Their drink-offerings shall not be pleasant to him. However much,
then, the Israelites might labour, the Prophet says that their
labour would be fruitless, for the Lord would reject whatever they
did. He then adds what is to the same purpose, "Their sacrifices
shall be unto them as the bread of mourners; all that eat shall be
polluted"; that is, all their sacrifices are polluted. The Prophet
now shows more clearly, not that there would be no sacrifices, but
that they would be in vain, because the Lord would abominate them,
and would repudiate all the masks which they would put on in his
presence, and under the cover of which they withdrew themselves from
their allegiance to him. The reason is, because when any one unclean
touches pure flesh, he pollutes it by his uncleanness. God then must
necessarily abominate whatever impure men offer, unless they seek to
purify their minds. And this principle has ever prevailed among the
very blind, -
    
    An impious right hand does not rightly worship the celestials.
    (Non bene coelestes impia dextra colit.)
    
    These words, which spread everywhere, have been witnesses of
the common feeling; for the Lord intended to draw out men, as it
were, from their coverts, when he forced them to make such a
confession. It is no wonder that the Prophet now says (as this truth
is also often taught in Scripture) that the sacrifices of the
people, who continued in their own perfidy, would be like the bread
of mourners; as Isaiah says, 'When one kills an ox, it is the same
as if he slew a man; when one sacrifices a lamb, it is the same as
if he killed a dog,' (Isaiah 66: 3.) He compares sacrifices to
murders; nor is it to be wondered at, for it is a more atrocious
crime to abuse the sacred name of God than to kill a man, and this
is what ungodly men do.
    Then he says, "If any one eats, he will be polluted." He
enlarges on what he said before, and says that if any one clean
should come, he would be polluted by being only in company with
them. We now see how sharply the Prophet here arouses hypocrites,
that they might now cease to promise to themselves what they were
wont to do, and that is, that God would be propitious to them while
they pacified him with their vain things. "By no means," he says;
"nay, there is so much defilement in your sacrifices, that they even
contaminate others who come, being themselves clean."
    But it may be asked, Can the impiety of others pollute us, when
we afford no proof of companionship, nor by dissimulation manifest
any consent? when we then abstain from all superstition, does
society alone contaminate us? The answer is easy: The Prophet does
not avowedly discuss here how another's impiety may contaminate men
who are clean; but his object was to show in strong language how
much God abhors the ungodly, and that not only he is not pacified
with their sacrifices, but also holds them as the greatest
abominations. But with regard to this question, it is certain that
we become polluted as soon as we content to profane superstitions:
yet when ungodly men administer either holy baptism or the holy
supper, we are not polluted by fellowship with them, for the deed
itself has nothing vicious in it. Then the act only does not pollute
us, nor the hidden and inward impiety of men. This is true: but we
are to understand for what purpose the Prophet said, that all who
eat of their sacrifices shall be polluted.
    He proceeds with the same subject, "Their bread for their
souls" &c. This clause, "for their soul," may be explained in two
ways. In saying, Bread for their soul, the Prophet spake by way of
contempt; as though he said, "Let them serve themselves and their
stomach with bread, and no more offer it to God; let them then
satiate themselves with bread, for they cannot consecrate to God
their bread, when they themselves are unclean." But I am inclined to
follow what has been more approved, that bread for their soul shall
not come to the house of the Lord; for men, we know, are then wont
to offer their sacrifices to God to reconcile themselves to him, or
at least to present emblems of their expiation: hence the Prophet
says, that bread is offered for the soul according to the directions
of the law; but that the ungodly could not bring bread into the
house of Jehovah, because the Lord excludes them, as it were, by an
interdict. Not that hypocrites keep away, for we see how boldly they
thrust themselves into the temple; nay, they would occupy the first
place; but the Lord yet forbids them to come to his presence. This
is the reason why he says, that the bread of the ungodly shall not
come before God, though in appearance their oblations glitter before
men. It follows -

Hosea 9:5
What will ye do in the solemn day, and in the day of the feast of
the LORD?

    The Prophet here alludes again to their exile, and shows how
deplorable the condition of the people would be, when deprived of
all their sacrifices. It is indeed true that the Israelites, when
they changed the place of the temple, and when new and spurious
rites were introduced by Jeroboam, became wholly rejected, so that
from that time no sacrifice pleased God, for they sacrificed to
idols and demons and not to God, as it is elsewhere stated, (Deut.
32: 17;) but yet, as they had some kind of divine worship, as
circumcision remained, and sacrifices were offered, as it were, by
Moses' command, and they boasted themselves to be the children of
Abraham and lived in the holy land, they were satisfied with their
condition. But when in exile they saw no sign of God's favour, when
they were deprived of the temple and altar and all sacrifices, when
on every side mere solitude and waste met their eyes, when God thus
manifested that he was far removed from them, great sorrow must have
entered their hearts. Hence the Prophet says, What will ye do in the
solemn day?
    And he expressly mentions solemn and festal-days. "If the
morning and the evening oblation, which is wont to be made, will not
be remembered, and if the other sacrifices will not occur to your
minds, what will you do when the festal days will come? for the Lord
will then show that he has nothing to do with you." For the trumpets
sounded on the festivals, that the people might come from the whole
land into the temple; and it was, as it were, the voice of God,
sounding from heaven: but when the feast-days were forgotten, when
there were no holy assemblies, it was the same as if the Lord, by
commanding silence, had proved that he no longer cared for the
people. That the Israelites then might not think that exile only was
threatened to them, the Prophet here shows that something worse was
connected with it, and that was, that the Lord would wholly forsake
them, and that there would exist no token of his presence, as though
they were cut off from the Church. What then will ye do on the
solemn day, on the day of Jehovah's festivity? That is, "Do you
think that something of an ordinary kind is denounced on you when I
speak of exile? The Lord will indeed take away the whole of your
worship, and will deprive you of all the evidences of his presence.
What then will you do? But if a brutish stupor should so occupy your
minds, that this should not recur to your thoughts daily, the solemn
and festal-days will at least constrain you to think how dreadful it
is, that you have nothing remaining among you, which may afford a
hope of God's favour." We now apprehend the meaning of the Prophet.
    We hence learn what I have said before, that nothing worse can
happen to us in this world, than to be scattered without any order,
when no outward evidence appears by which the Lord collects us to
himself. It would therefore be better for us to be deprived of meat
and drink, and to go naked, and to perish at last through want, than
that the exercises of religion, by which the Lord holds us, as it
were, in his own bosom, should be taken away from us. When therefore
we are deprived of these aids, and God thus hides his face from us,
and mournful waste discovers to us dread on every side, it is an
extreme calamity, an evidence of the dreadful judgement of God. Let
us then learn, when our flesh is touched, when sterility or some
other evil impends over us - let us learn to dread this deprivation
still more, and to fear lest the Lord should deprive us of our
festal-days; that is, take away all the aids of religion by which he
holds us together in his house, and shows us to be a part of his
Church. This then, in the last place, ought to be noticed: what
remains we shall consider in our next lecture.
    
Prayer.

Grant, Almighty God, that inasmuch as thou drawest us at this time
to thyself by so many chastisements, While we are yet insensible,
through the slothfulness and the indolence of our flesh, - O grant,
that Satan may not thus perpetually harden and fascinate us; but
that we, being at length awakened, may feel our evils, and be not
merely affected by outward punishments, but rouse ourselves, and
feel how grievously we have in various ways offended thee, so that
we may return to thee with real sorrow, and so abhor ourselves, that
we may seek in thee every delight, until we at length offer to thee
a pleasing and acceptable sacrifice, by dedicating ourselves and all
we have to thee, in sincerity and truth, through Jesus Christ our
Lord. Amen.
    
Lecture Twenty-fourth.

Hosea 9:6
For, lo, they are gone because of destruction: Egypt shall gather
them up, Memphis shall bury them: the pleasant [places] for their
silver, nettles shall possess them: thorns [shall be] in their
tabernacles.
    
    The Prophet confirms here what is contained in the last verse,
that is, that the Israelites would at length find that the Prophets
had not in vain threatened them, though they at the time heedlessly
despised the judgement of God. "Lo", he says, "they have departed":
he speaks of the exile as if it had already taken place, when it was
only nigh at hand. The Israelites were then dwelling in their own
country, he yet speaks of them as having already gone away. But he
sets forth the certainty of the prediction by this manner of
speaking, that profane men might cease to promise themselves
impunity when God summons them to his tribunal: yea, he shows that
he was already armed to take vengeance: "They have gone away," he
says, "on account of desolation." Then he adds, "Egypt shall gather
them". To gather here is to be taken in a bad sense; for it means
the same as trousser (to pack up, to bundle) in our language; and it
is often taken in this sense by the Prophets, when mention is made
of destruction: and this appears still clearer from the word,
burying, which the Prophet immediately subjoins. Egypt shall gather
them: He certainly speaks not of a kind retreat, but declares that
Egypt would be a sepulchre to them, in which they should remain shut
up: and thus he takes away from them any hope of deliverance. The
Israelites expected that they should find shelter for a season in
Egypt, when they bent their course there for fear of their enemies.
The Prophet now shows that they would be disappointed in dreaming of
a return, for they would remain there gathered up; that is, a free
return, as they imagined, would not be allowed them, but a perpetual
habitation, yea, a grave.
    'Egypt will gather them, Memphis will bury them.' There is a
striking correspondence between the words here used, "kavar" and
"kavats". By the first the Prophet signifies that they should be
shut up, so as to be, as it were, bound and fixed to a place; and
then he adds that they should be buried.
    He then says, "The desirable place of their silver the nettle
shall possess, as by hereditary right, and the thorn", &c.; some
render it paliurus; but I follow what is more received, "the thorn
then shall be in their tabernacles". The meaning is, that the
Israelites would be exiles and sojourners, not for a short time, but
that their exile would be so long that their land would become waste
and uncultivated; for neither nettles nor thorns grow in an
inhabited place. Hosea then declares that their land would be
deserted and without inhabitants, for nettles and thorns would
occupy it instead of men. Now it tended greatly to increase the
sorrow of exile, that the hope of return was cut off from them; and
God had also declared that Egypt, where they had promised a refuge
for themselves, would be to them like a grave. And thus it happens
for the most part to the ungodly, who retake themselves to vain
solaces, that they may escape the vengeance of God; for they throw
themselves into deep labyrinths; where they think to find a harbour
of rest for a time, and a commodious habitation; but there they find
either a gulf or a grave. This is the meaning. Let us proceed -

Hosea 9:7
The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come;
Israel shall know [it]: the prophet [is] a fool, the spiritual man
[is] mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred.
    
    The Prophet, by saying that the days of visitation had come,
intended to shake off from hypocrites that supine torpor of which we
have often spoken; for as they were agitated by their own lusts, and
were in a state of continual fervour, so they hardened themselves
against God's judgement, and, as it were, covered themselves over
with hardness. It was then necessary to deal roughly with them in
order to break down such stubbornness. This is the reason that the
Prophet repeats so often and in so many forms what might be
expressed in this one sentence - That God would be a just avenger.
Hence he cries out here, that the days of visitation had come. For
when the Lord spared them, as sacred history relates, and as we said
at the beginning, (and under the king Jeroboam the second, the son
of Joash, their affairs were prosperous,) their pride and contempt
of God the more increased. Since then they thought themselves to be
now beyond the reach of harm, the Prophet declares that the days had
come. And there is here an implied contrast in reference to the time
during which the Lord had borne with them; for as the Lord had not
immediately visited their sins, they thought that they had escaped.
But the Prophet here distinguishes between time and time: "You have
hitherto thought," he says, "that you are at peace with God; as if
he, by conniving at the sins of men, denied himself, so as not to
discharge any more the office of a judge: nay, there is another
thing to be here considered, and that is, that God has certain days
of visitation, which he has fixed for himself; and these days are
now come."
    And he again teaches the same thing, "The days of retribution
have come". He uses another word, that they might know that they
could not go unpunished for having in so many ways provoked God. For
as the Lord disappoints not the hope of his people, who honour him;
so also there is a reward laid up for the ungodly, who regard as
nothing his judgement. "God will then repay you what you have
deserved, though for a time it may please him to suspend his
judgement."
    Then he says, "Israel shall know". This is the wisdom of fools,
as it is said even in an old proverb; and Homer has also said,
"pathoon de te nepios egnoo", (Even the foolish knows when he
suffers.) The foolish is not wise, except when he suffers. Hence the
Prophet says, that Israel, when afflicted, would then perceive that
instruction had been despised, and that all warnings had been
trifled with, at least had not been regarded. Israel then shall
know; that is, he shall at length, when too late, understand that he
had had to do with God, even when the time of repentance shall be no
more. The meaning then is that as the ungodly reject the word of
God, and obey not wise admonitions and counsels, they shall at
length be taken to another school, where God teaches not by the
mouth but by the hand. Whosoever then does not now willingly submit
to his teaching, shall find God to be a judge, and shall not escape
his hand.
    They who join what follows elicit this meaning, "Israel shall
know the Prophet to be foolish, the man of the spirit to be mad";
that is, Israel shall then understand that he was deluded by
flatteries, when the false Prophets promised that all things would
be prosperous. We indeed know that they catched at those prophecies
which pleased their ears; for which Micah also reproves them; hence
he calls those who gave hope of a better state of things, the
Prophets of wine and oil and wheat, (Micah 2: 11.) The world wishes
to be ever thus deceived. Since then there were many in Israel, who
by their impositions deceived the miserable, he says, Israel shall
at last know that he has been deluded by his own teachers. If we
receive this sense, there is then here a reproof to Israel for
thinking that the vengeance of God was in some way restrained, when
the false Prophets said that he was pacified, and that there was no
danger to be feared. For do not men in this way stultify themselves?
And how gross is their stupidity, when they think that God's hands
are tied, when men are silent, or when they perfidiously turn the
truth into a lie? And yet even at this day this disease prevails in
the world, as it has prevailed almost in all ages. For what do the
ungodly seek, but to be let alone in their sins? When mouths are
closed, they think that they have gained much. This madness the
Prophet derides, intimating that those profane men, who have such
delicate ears, that they can bear no words of reproof, shall at last
know what they had gained by hiring prophets to flatter them. We
hence see, in short, that the adulations, by which the ungodly
harden themselves against God, will be to them the occasion of a
twofold destruction; for such fallacies dementate them, so that they
much more boldly provoke against themselves the wrath of God.
    But if we read the two clauses apart, the rendering will be
this, "The Prophet is a fool, the man of the spirit is mad." And as
to the matter itself, there is not much difference. I will not then
dwell on the subject; for when we are agreed as to the design of the
Prophet and the truth remains the same, it is vain, at least it is
of no benefit, to labour very anxiously about the form of the
sentence. If then we begin a sentence with these words, "'ewil
hanavi'", the sense will be this, "I know that the Prophets promise
impunity to you; but they who thus hide your sins, and cover them
over as with plasters, are insane men, yea, they are wholly
infatuated. There is then no reason why their flatteries should
delight you; for the event will show that they are mere absurdities
and idle ravings." We now see that there is no great difference in
the sense: for this remains still unaltered, that there were many
flatterers among the people, who made it their business to lie, that
they might thus procure the favour of the people; and this ambition
has prevailed in all ages: and sometimes also cupidity or avarice
takes such hold on men, that they use a meretricious tongue, and
excuse all vices however grievous, and elude all threatening. This
is what the Prophet shows in the first place; and then he shows,
that men without any advantage indulge their vices, when there is no
one severely to reprove them, or boldly to exhort them to repent;
and that though all the Prophets should give them hope of safety
they should yet perish: for men cannot by their silence restrain God
from executing at last his judgement. Nay, we must remember this,
that God spares men when he does not spare them; that is, when he
chastises them, when he reproves their sins, and when he constrains
them by terror, he then would spare them. And again, when God
spares, he does not spare; that is, when he connives at their sins,
and leaves men to their own will, to grow wanton at their pleasure,
without any yoke or bridle, he then by no means spares them, for he
destines them for destruction.
    "The man of the spirit," some render "the man of the wind;" and
some "the fanatical man;" but they are in my judgement mistaken; for
the Prophet, I doubt not, uses a respectful term, but yet by way of
concession. He then calls those the men of the spirit who were by
their office prophets, but who abused that title, as those who at
this day call themselves pastors when they are really rapacious
wolves. The Prophets, as we know, always declared that they did not
speak from their own minds but what the Spirit of God dictated to
them. Hence they were men of the Spirit, that is, spiritual men: for
the genitive case, we know, was used by the Hebrews to express what
we designate by an adjective. The Prophets then were the men of the
Spirit. He concedes this name, in itself illustrious and honourable,
to impostors; but in the same sense as when I speak generally of
teachers; I then include the false as well as the true. This then is
the real meaning of the expression, as we may gather from the
context: for he says the same thing twice, "'ewil hanavi'", "Fool is
the Prophet", and then, "meshuga' 'ish haruach", "Mad is the man of
the spirit". As he spoke of a Prophet, so he now mentions the same
by calling him a man of the spirit, or a spiritual man.
    At the end of the verse he adds, "For the multitude of thine
iniquity, for great hatred", or, much hatred; for it may be rendered
in these two ways. Here the Prophet shows, that though the false
Prophets stultified by their fallacies the people, yet this could by
no means avail for an excuse or for extenuating the fault of the
people. How so? Because they suffered the punishment of their own
impiety. For whence comes it, that the Lord takes away his light
from us, that after having once shown to us the way of salvation, he
turns suddenly his back on us, and suffers us to go astray to our
perdition? How does this happen? Doubtless, because we are unworthy
of that light, which was a witness to us of God's favour. For as
much then as men through their own fault procure such a judgement to
themselves, the Lord neither blinds them nor gives to Satan the
power of deluding them, except when they deserve such a treatment.
Hence the Prophet says, For the multitude of thine iniquity, and for
thy crimes, by which thou hast excited against thyself the wrath and
hatred of God. We hence see how frivolous are the pretences by which
men clear themselves, when they object and say that they have been
deceived and that if their teachers had been faithful and honest,
they would have willingly obeyed God. When therefore men make these
objections, the ready answer is this, that they had been deprived of
true and faithful teachers, because they had refused the favour
offered to them, and extinguished the light, and as Paul says,
preferred a lie to the truth; and that they had been deceived by
false Prophets, because they willingly hastened to ruin when the
Lord called them to salvation. We now then understand the import of
what is here taught.
    The Prophet says, in the first place, that the day of vengeance
was now at hand, because the Lord by forbearance could prevail
nothing with the obstinate. He then adds, that as all threatenings
were despised by the people, and as they were deaf to every
instruction, they would at length know that God had not spoken in
vain but would perceive that their were justly treated; for the Lord
would not now teach them by his word, but by scourges. He adds, in
the third place, that the Prophet was foolish and delirious, and
also, that they who boasted themselves to be the men of the spirit
were mad: by which expressions he meant that the flatteries, by
which the people were lulled asleep were foolish; for God would not
fail at last, when the time came, to execute his office. And, lastly
he reminds them that this would happen through the fault of the
people, that there was no reason for them to trace or to ascribe the
cause of the evil to any thing else; for this blindness was their
just punishment. The Lord would have never permitted Satan thus to
prevail in his own inheritance, had not the people, by the immense
filth of their sins, provoked God for a long time, and as it were
with a determined purpose. It now follows -

Hosea 9:8
The watchman of Ephraim [was] with my God: [but] the prophet [is] a
snare of a fowler in all his ways, [and] hatred in the house of his
God.
    
    Interpreters obscure this verse by their various opinions.
Almost all suppose a verb to be understood that Ephraim "had set" a
watchman. But I see no need to make any change in the words of the
Prophet: I therefore take them simply as they are. Now some think
that there is here a comparison between the old Prophets who had not
turned aside from God's command, and those flatterers who pretended
the name of God, while they were the ministers of Satan to deceive.
They therefore thus distinguish them, The watchman of Ephraim was
with my God; that is, there was a time formerly when the watchmen of
Ephraim were connected with God, and declared no strange doctrine,
when they drew from the true fountain all that they taught; there
was then a connection between God and the Prophets, for they
depended on the mouth of God, and the Prophets delivered to the
people, as from hand to hand, whatever God commanded; there was then
nothing corrupt, or impure, or adventitious in their words. But now
the Prophet is a snare of a fowler; that is, the dice is turned, a
deplorable change has taken place; for now the Prophets lay snares
to draw people by their disciples into destruction; and this
abomination bears rule, that is, this monstrous wickedness prevails
in the temple of God: these Prophets live not in caves nor traverse
public roads, but they occupy a place in the temple of God; so that
of the sacred temple of God they make a brothel for the impostures
of Satan. Such is their view.
    But I read the verse as connected together, "The watchman of
Ephraim", who ought to have been "with God, even the Prophet, is a
snare of a fowler on all his ways". The former view would have
indeed met my approbations did not the words appear to be forced;
and I do not love strained meanings. This is the reason which
prevents me from subscribing to an exposition which in itself I
approve, as it embraces a useful doctrine. But this simple view is
more correct, that the watchman of Ephraim, a Prophet, is a snare of
a fowler: and he adds, with God; for it is the duty of teachers to
have nothing unconnected with God. Hosea then shows what Prophets
ought to do, not what they may do. A Prophet then is he who is a
watchman of Israel; for this command, we know, is given in common to
all Prophets - to be as it were on their watch-tower, and to be
vigilant over the people of God. It is therefore no wonder that the
Prophet dignifies with his own title all those who were then
teachers among God's people. But he thus doubles their crime, by
saying that they were only keen and sharp-sighted to snare the
people. Then the watchmen of Israel, the Prophet, who was placed on
the watch-tower to watch or to exercise vigilance over the safety of
the whole people - this Prophet was a snare of a fowler! But he
triplicates the crime when he says, "With my God": for as we have
already observed, teachers could not faithfully discharge their
office, except they were connected with God, and were able truly to
testify that they brought forth nothing that was invented, but what
the Lord himself had spoken, and that they were his organs. We now
then apprehend the real meaning of the Prophet; and according to
this view there is nothing strained in the words.
    The Prophet also thus confirms what he had said before, that
the Prophets were fools, that is, that their prophecies would at
length appear empty and vain; for they could not prevent God from
inflicting punishment on the wicked by their fallacious flatteries;
he confirms this truth when he says, "The watchmen of Ephraim is a
snare of a fowler on all his ways": that is, he ought to have guided
the people, and to have kept them safe from intrigues. But now the
people could not move a foot without meeting with a snare; and
whence came this snare but from false doctrine and impostures? What
then was to be at last? Could the snares avail to make them
cautious? By no means; but Satan thus hunts his prey, when he
soothes the people by his false teachers, and keeps them, as it
were, asleep, that they may not regard the hand of God. There was
then no reason for the Israelites to think well of the fowlers by
whom they were drawn into ruin.
    This indignity is more emphatically expressed, when he says,
that there was "a detestable thing in the temple of God". There was
not, indeed, a temple of God in Bethel, as we have often said; but
as the people were wont to pretend the name of God, the Prophet,
conceding this point, says, that these abominations were covered
over by this pretence. There is then no need anxiously to inquire
here, whether it was the temple at Samaria or at Bethel, or the
house and sanctuary of God; for a concession proves not a thing to
be so, but it is to speak according to the general opinion. So then
the Prophet does not without reason complain, that the place, on
which was inscribed the name of God, was profaned, and that, instead
of the teaching of salvation, there was fowling everywhere, which
drew the people into apostasy, and finally into utter ruin. It
follows -

Hosea 9:9
They have deeply corrupted [themselves], as in the days of Gibeah:
[therefore] he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their
sins.

    Hosea declares here, that the people were so sunk in their
vices, that they could not be drawn out of them. He who has fallen
can raise up himself when one extends a hand to him; and he who
strives to emerge from the mire, finding a helper to assist him, can
plant his foot again on solid ground: but when he is cast into a
gulf, he has no hope of a recovery. I extend my hand in vain, when
one sinks in a shipwreck, and is fallen into the deep. So now the
Prophet says, that the people were unhealable, because they were
deeply fixed; and further, because they were infected with
corruptions. He therefore intimates that their diseases were
incurable, that they had struck roots so deeply, that they could by
no means be cleansed. "They were then deeply fixed, and were corrupt
as in the days of Gibeah".
    The Gibeonites, we know, were so fallen, that their city
differed nothing from Sodom; for unbridled licentiousness in all
kinds of vices prevailed there, and lusts so monstrous reigned among
them, that there was no distinction between good and evil, no shame
whatever. Hence it was, that they ravished the Levite's wife, and
killed her by their filthy obscenities: and this was the cause of
that memorable slaughter which nearly demolished the whole tribe of
Benjamin. The history is related in the Book of Judges, chapters 19,
20, and 21; and it deserved to be recorded, that people might know
what it is not to walk with care and fear in obedience to the Lord.
Who could indeed have believed that a people taught in the law of
God could have fallen into such a state of madness as this city did,
which was nigh to Jerusalem, the destined place of the temple,
though not yet built? and, not to mention the temple, who could have
thought that this city, which was in the midst of the people, could
have been so demented, that, like brute beasts, they should abandon
themselves to the filthiest lusts? nay, that they should have been
more filthy than the beasts? For monstrous lusts, as I have said,
were there left unpunished, as at Sodom and in the neighbouring
cities.
    The Prophet says now, that the whole of Israel had become as
corrupt as formerly the citizens of Gibeah. Deeply sunk, then, were
the Israelites in their vices, and were as addicted as the
inhabitants of Gibeah to their corruptions. What, then, is to
follow? "God", he says, "will remember their iniquities, and will
visit their sins". The Prophet means two things first, that as the
Israelites were wholly disobedient, and would receive no
instruction, God would in no other way deal with them, as though he
said, "The Lord will no longer spend labour in vain in teaching you,
but he will seize the sword and execute his vengeance; for ye are
not worthy of being taught by him any longer; for his teaching is
counted a mockery by you." This is one thing; and the other is, that
though God had hitherto spared the people of Israel, he had not yet
forgotten the filth of sins which prevailed among them. Hence God,
he says, will at length remember and, as he had said before, will
visit your sins.
    We now then perceive the simple meaning of the Prophet. But let
us hence also learn to rouse ourselves; and let us, in the first
place, notice what the Prophet says of the Israelites, that they
were deeply fixed; for men must be filled with contempt to God, when
they thus descend, as Solomon says, (Prov. 18: 4,) to the deep. Lets
then each of us stir up himself to repentance and carefully beware
lest he should descend into this deep gulf. But since he says, "the
Lord will remember and will visit", let us know that they are
greatly deceived who indulge themselves as long as the Lord
mercifully bears with their sins; for though he may for a time
conceal his displeasure yet an oblivion will never possess him: but
at a fit time he will remember, and prove that he does so by
executing a just punishment.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that as thou shinest on us by thy word, we may
not be blind at mid-day, nor wilfully seek darkness, and thus lull
our minds asleep: but that exercising ourselves in thy word, we may
stir up ourselves more and more to fear thy name, and thus present
ourselves, and all our pursuits, as a sacrifice to thee, that thou
mayest peaceably rule, and perpetually dwell in us, until thou
gatherest us to thy celestial habitation, where there is reserved
for us eternal rest and glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lecture Twenty-Fifth.

Hosea 9:10
I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as
the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: [but] they went to
Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto [that] shame; and [their]
abominations were according as they loved.
    
    In this verse God reproves the Israelites for having preferred
to prostitute themselves to idols, rather than to continue under his
protection, though he had from the beginning showed his favour to
them; as though he had said that they having been previously
favoured with his free love, had transferred their affections to
others; for he says, that he had found them as grapes in the
wilderness. The word wilderness, ought to be joined with grapes, as
if he had said, that they had been as sweet and acceptable to him as
a grape when found in a desert. When a traveller finds, by chance, a
grape in a barren and desolate place, he not only admires it, but
takes great delight in a fruit so unlooked for. And thus the Lord,
by this comparison, shows his great love towards the Israelites. He
adds, - "As the first fruit of the figtree"; for the fig-tree, we
know, produces fruit twice every year. Therefore, God says, - "As
figs at the beginning" (or, as they say, the first fruits) are
delightful, so have I taken delight in this people. The Prophet does
not however mean, that the people were worthy of being so much
loved. But the Hebrews use the word, to find, in the same sense as
we do, when we say in French, - Je treuve cela a mon gout, (I find
this to my taste.) I have therefore regarded Israel as grapes in the
wilderness. And this remark is needful, lest some one should
subtilely infer, that the Israelites were loved by God, because they
had something savoury in them. For the Prophet relates not here what
God found in the people, but he only reproves their ingratitude, as
we shall presently see.
    The first part then shows that God had great delight in this
people. It is the same or similar sentence to that in chap. 11,
where he says, 'When Ephraim was yet a child, I loved him,' except
that there is not there so much fervour and warmth of love
expressed; but the same argument is there handled, and the object is
the same, and it is to prove, that God anticipated his people by his
love. There remained, in this case, less excuse, when men rejected
God calling them, and responded not to his love. A perverseness like
this would be hardly endured among men. Were any one to love me
freely, and I to slight him, it would be an evidence of pride and
rudeness: but when God himself gratuitously treats us with kindness,
and when, not content with common love, he regards us as delectable
fruit, does not the rejection of this love, does not the contempt of
this favour, betray, on our part, the basest depravity? We now then
understand the design of the Prophet. In the first clause, he says,
in the person of God, "I have loved Israel, as a traveller does
grapes, when he finds them in the desert, and as the first ripe figs
are wont to be loved: since then, I so much delighted in them, ought
they not to have honoured me in return? Ought not my gratuitous love
to have inflamed their hearts, so as to induce them to devote
themselves wholly to me?"
    But "they went in unto Baal-peor". So I interpret the verb
"ba'u"; and it is taken in this sense in many other places. For the
Hebrews say, "they went in," to express in a delicate way the
intercourse between husbands and wives. And the Prophet does not,
without reason, compare the sacrifices which the people offered to
Baal-peor to adultery, as being like the intercourse which an
adulterer has with an harlot. They then went in unto Baal-peor; and
he adds, that they "separated themselves". Some interpret the word
"nazar" as referring to worship, and as meaning that they
consecrated themselves to Baal-peor; and others derive it from
"zarah", which they think is here in a passive sense, and means, "to
be alienated." But I take it in the same sense as when Ezekiel says,
"They have separated themselves from after me," "me'acharai", chap.
14; that is, that they may not follow me. God here expostulates with
the people for following their fornication, and for thus repudiating
that sacred marriage which God contracts with all his people. I
therefore read the two sentences as forming one context, "The
Israelites went in unto Baal-peor, as an adulterer goes in unto a
harlot; and they separated themselves; for they denied God, and
violated the faith pledged to him; they discarded the spiritual
marriage which God made with them." For the Prophet, we know,
whenever he refers to idolatries speaks allegorically or
metaphorically, and mentions adultery.
    They "have separated themselves", he says, "to reproach"; that
is, though their filthiness was shameful, they were yet wholly
insensible: as when a wife disregards her character, or as when a
husband cares not that he is pointed at by the finger, and that his
baseness is to all a laughing-stock; so the Israelites, he says, had
separated themselves to reproach, having cast away all shame, they
abandoned themselves to wickedness. Some render the word "boshet",
obscenity, and others refer it to Baal-peor, and render the sentence
thus, "They have separated themselves to that filthy idol." For some
think Priapus to have been Baal-peor; and this opinion has gained
the consent of almost all. But I extend wider the meaning of the
word "reproach," as signifying that the people observed no
difference between what was decent and what was shameful, but that
they were senseless in their impiety. They were therefore
abominable, or abominations according to their lovers. The Prophet,
I doubt not, connects here the Israelites with idols and with
Baal-peor itself, that he might strip them of all that holiness
which they had obtained through God's favour. We now apprehend the
meaning of the Prophet.
    Now, what is here taught is worthy of being noticed and is
useful. For, as we have said, inexcusable is our wickedness, if we
despise the gratuitous love of God, bestowed unasked. When God then
comes to us of his own accord, when he invites us, when he offers to
us the privilege of children, an inestimable benefit, and when we
reject his favour, is not this more than savage ferocity? It was to
reprobate such conduct as this that the Prophet says, that God had
loved Israel, as when one finds grapes in the desert, or as when one
eats the first ripe figs. But it must, at the same time, be noticed
why the Prophet so much extols the dealings of God with the people
of Israel; it was for this reason, because their adoption, as it is
well known, was not an ordinary privilege, nor what they enjoyed in
common with other nations. Since, then, the people had been chosen
to be God's special possession, the Prophet here justly extols this
love with peculiar commendation. And the like is our case at this
day; for God vouchsafes not to all the favour which has been
presented to us through the shining light of the gospel. Other
people wander in darkness, the light of life dwells only among us:
does not God thus show that he delights especially in us? But if we
continue the same as we were, and if we reject him and transfer our
love to others, or rather if lust leads us astray from him, is not
this detestable wickedness and obstinacy?
    But what the Prophet says, that they "separated themselves to
reproach", is also worthy of being noticed; for he exaggerates their
crime by this consideration, that the Israelites were so blinded,
that they perceived not their own turpitude, though it was quite
manifest. The superstitions which then prevailed in the land of Moab
were no doubt very gross; but Satan had so fascinated their minds
that they gave themselves up to a conduct which was worse than
shameful. Let us then know that our sin is worthy of a heavier
punishment in such a case as this, that is, when every distinction
is done away among us, and when we are hurried away by the spirit of
giddiness into every impiety and when we no longer distinguish
between light and darkness, between white and black; for it is a
token of final reprobation. When, therefore, shame ought to have
restrained them, he says, that the Israelites had yet "separated
themselves to reproach, and became abominable like their lovers";
that is, As Baal-peor is the highest abomination to me, so the
people became to me equally abominable. It now follows -

Hosea 9:11,12
[As for] Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the
birth, and from the womb, and from the conception.
Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave them, [that
there shall] not [be] a man [left]: yea, woe also to them when I
depart from them!
    
    The Hebrews, we know, have often abrupt sentences as in this
place, "Ephraim! their glory has fled". Ephraim is to be placed by
itself; and the speech seems striking, when the Lord thus breaks off
the sentence, Ephraim! he does not continue the sense, but
immediately adds, "Like a bird their glory has fled". When he speaks
of Ephraim, he no doubt refers especially to his offspring; and by
mentioning a part for the whole, he includes whatever was then
deemed to be wealth, or glory, or power. The Prophet, I say, speaks
of offspring, for he immediately adds, "from the birth, and the
womb, and the conception". But they are mistaken who confine this
sentence to offspring only; for it is, as I have said, a mode of
speaking, by which a part is taken for the whole. According to the
letter, he mentions children or offspring; but yet he includes
generally the whole condition of the people.
    Then "as a bird the glory of Ephraim fled away". In what
respect? From the birth, from the womb, from the conception. The
Prophet, no doubt, sets forth here the gradations of God's
vengeance, which was yet in part near at hand to the Israelites, and
which was in part already evident by clear proofs. He says, from the
birth, then from the womb, and, lastly, from the conception. If,
then, the glory of Ephraim had vanished at the beginning, the
Prophet would not have thus spoken; but as the Lord showed signs of
his wrath by degrees, that vengeance at length might reach the
highest point, the Prophets in the first place, mentions birth, then
the womb; as though he said, "The glory of Israel shall vanish from
the birth, but if they still continue proud, and seem not subdued by
this punishment, I will slay them in the womb itself; nay, in the
conception, if they repent not; they shall be suffocated as in the
very womb."
    He then adds, "though they shall bring up children, I will yet
exterminate them, so that they shall not be men, or, before they
grow up", as some expound the words. The meaning is, that though
Ephraim then flattered himself, yet a dreadful ruin was at hand,
which would extinguish the whole seed, so that there would be
nothing remaining. But lest they should think that all was over,
when the Lord had inflicted on them one punishment, he lays down
three gradations; that God would slay them first in the birth, then
extinguish them in the womb, and, lastly, before conception; but if
he spared them, so that they would raise up children, it would yet
be without advantage, inasmuch as God would take away the youths in
the flower of their age. Thus, then he threatens entire destruction
to the kingdom of Israel.
    And, lastly, he closes the verse in these words, "And surely
woe will be to them when I shall depart from them". The Prophet
means by these words, that men become miserable and accursed, when
they alienate themselves from God, and when God takes away from them
his favour. After having mentioned especially the vengeance of God
which was at hand, he says here that the cause and occasion of all
evils would be, that God would depart from them, inasmuch as they
had previously renounced their faith in him. But we must bear in
mind the reason why the Prophet added this clause, and that is,
because wicked men dream, that though God be displeased, things will
yet go on prosperously with them: for they neither ascribe
adversities to the wrath of God, nor acknowledge the fountain of all
blessings to be God's free and paternal favour. As then profane men
do not understand this truth, however much God may proclaim that he
is an enemy to them, that he is armed to destroy them, they care
nothing, but promise to themselves a prosperous fortune: until they
feel the hand of God and the signs of destruction appear, they
continue still secure. This is the reason why the Prophet says, that
there is woe to men when God departs from them. Forasmuch, then, as
Scripture teaches everywhere that every desirable thing comes and
flows to us from the mere grace of God and his paternal favour, so
the Prophet declares in this place, that men are miserable and
accursed when God is angry with them. But it follows -

Hosea 9:13
Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, [is] planted in a pleasant place: but
Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer.

    Hosea here confirms his previous statements that the Israelites
in vain trusted in their present condition, for the Lord could
reverse their prosperity whenever it pleased him. Men, we know,
harden themselves in their vices, when they enjoy their wishes and
when they are sunk in pleasures; for prosperity is not without
reason often compared to wine, because it inebriates men; nay,
rather it dementates them. We see what happened to the Sodomites and
to others; yea, the abuse of God's forbearance has ever been the
cause of destruction to almost all the reprobate, as Paul also says.
Such pride reigned in the people of Israel, that they heedlessly
despised all threatening, as it has been already often stated. To
this then the Prophet refers when he says, "Ephraim is like a tree
planted in Tyrus: yet he shall bring forth his children to the
slaughter". The Prophet then points out here the indulgences of
Israel, and then adds, that in a short time the Lord would draw them
forth to judgement, though he had treated them as a precious tree,
by fostering them gently and tenderly for a time.
    Some render this place thus, "I have seen Ephraim planted like
Tyrus;" and they render the next word, "venaweh", "in pleasantness."
But since it means a house or a habitation, I am disposed to retain
its proper sense. Interpreters, however, vary in their opinion; for
some say, "I have seen Ephraim like Tyrus;" because an event awaits
this people similar to that which happened to Tyrus; for, as
punishment was inflicted on Tyrus, so Ephraim shall not escape
unpunished. This is the exposition of some, but in my view it is too
refined. As, however, there is here a preposition, "lamed", I am
inclined to consider "a tree" or "plant," or some such word,
understood. Ephraim then was, as if one beheld a tree in Tyrus,
literally to Tyrus, or in Tyrus. This letter, as a preposition, I
allow, is redundant in many places; and yet it preserves some
propriety, except when necessity interferes: and in this place what
I have already stated is the most suitable rendering, "Ephraim is
like a tree planted in Tyrus, in a dwelling" or shed. Tyrus, we
know, was built on an island in the sea; it had gardens the most
pleasant, but not formed without much expense and labour. It was
washed on every side by the sea; and unless mounds were set up, the
dwellings were confined. Since, then, it was difficult to raise
trees there, much work and labour was doubtless necessary, as it is
usually the case; for men often struggle with nature. And if we say
that Ephraim was planted like Tyrus in a dwelling, what can it mean?
We therefore say, that he was like a tree preserved as in a
dwelling: for we see that there are some trees which cannot bear the
cold air, and are kept during winter in a house that they may be
preserved; and it is probable that the Syrians, who were rich and
had a lucrative trade, employed much care in rearing their trees.
    The meaning is, that Ephraim was like tender trees, preserved
by men with great care and with much expense; but that they should
hereafter bring forth their children for the slaughter. This
bringing forth is set in opposition to the house or dwelling. They
had been kept without danger from the cold and heat, like a tender
tree under cover; but they would be constrained to draw forth their
children to the slaughter; that is, there would be no longer any
dwelling for them to protect them from the violence of their
enemies, but that they would be drawn forth to the light.
    We now see that the words harmonise well with the view, that
the people of Israel in vain flattered themselves because they had
hitherto been subject to no evils, and that God had preserved them
free from calamity. There is no reason, the Prophet says, for the
people to be proud, because they had been hitherto so indulgently
treated; for though they had been like tender trees, they would yet
be forced to draw forth their children to be killed. And this
comparison, which he amplifies, is what often occurs in Scripture.
'If Jehoiakim were as a ring on my right hand, saith the Lord, I
would pluck him thence.' Men are wont to abuse even the promises of
God. As king Jehoiakim was of the posterity of David, he thought it
impossible that hid enemies could ever deprive him of his kingdom;
"But it shall not be so; for though he were as a ring on my hand, I
would pluck him thence." So also in this place; "Though the
Israelites had been hitherto brought up in my bosom, and though I
have kindly given them all kinds of blessings, and though they have
been like tender trees, yet their condition hereafter shall be
entirely different." Then it follows -

Hosea 9:14
Give them, O LORD: what wilt thou give? give them a miscarrying womb
and dry breasts.

    Interpreters translate these words in a different way: "Give
them what thou art about to give," then they repeats "Give them;"
but, as I think, they do not comprehend the design of the Prophet,
and are wholly mistaken; for the Prophet appears here as one anxious
and perplexed. He therefore presents himself here before God as a
suppliant, as though he said, "Lord, I would gladly intercede for
this people: what then is it that I should chiefly desire for them?
Doubtless my chief wish for them in their miserable dispersion is,
that thou wouldest give them a killing womb and dry breasts;" that
is, that none may be born of them. Christ says, that when the last
destruction of Jerusalem should come, the barren would be blessed
(Luke 23: 29;) and this he took from the common doctrine of
Scripture, for many such passages may be observed in the Prophets.
Among the blessings of God, this, we know, is not the least, the
birth of a numerous offspring. It is, therefore, a token of dreadful
judgement, when barrenness, which in itself is deemed a curse, is
desired as an especial blessing. For what can be more miserable than
for infants to be snatched from their mothers' bosom? and for
children to be killed before their eyes, or for pregnant women to be
slain? or for cities and fields to be consumed by fire, so that
children, not yet born, should perish together with their mothers?
But all these things happen when there is an utter destruction.
    We hence see what the prophet chiefly meant: the state of the
people would be so deplorable that nothing could be more desirable
than the barrenness of the women, that no offspring might be
afterwards born, but that the name and memory of the people might by
degrees be blotted out.
    He has, indeed, already denounced punishments sufficiently
grievous and dreadful; but we know that the contumacy and hardness
of those are very great on whom religion has no hold. Hence all
threatening were derided by that obstinate people. This is the
reason why the Prophet now takes the part of an intercessor. "O
Lord,", he adds "give them;" that is, "O Lord, forgive them at least
in some measure, and grant them yet something." And "what wilt thou
give?" Here he reasons with himself, being as it were in suspense
and perplexity; and he also reasons with God as to what would be the
most desirable thing. "I am indeed a suppliant for my own nation,
whom I pity; but what shall I ask? I would wish thee, Lord, to
pardon this people; but what shall be the way, what can give me
comfort, or what sort of remedy yet remains? Certainly I see nothing
better than that they should be barren, that none hereafter should
be born of them; but that thou shouldest suffer them to consume and
die away; for this will be their chief happiness in a condition so
deplorable." It was then the Prophet's design here, to strike
hypocrites and profane men with terror, that they might understand
that God's vengeance, which was at hand, could by no means be fully
expressed; for it would be the best thing for them to be deprived of
the blessing of an offspring, that their infants might not perish
with them, that they might not see women with child cruelly slain by
their enemies, or their children led away as a spoil. That such
things as these might not take place, the Prophet says, that
barrenness ought to be desired by them as the chief blessing. The
Prophet, I doubt not, meant this. It now follows -

Hosea 9:15
All their wickedness [is] in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the
wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, I
will love them no more: all their princes [are] revolters.

    He says first, that "all their evil was in Gilgal"; though they
thought that they had the best pretence for offering there their
sacrifices to God's honour, because it had been from old times a
sacred place. He had said before that they had multiplied to
themselves altars to sin, and by these to give way to sins; he now
repeats the same in other words, "All their evil", he says, "is in
Gilgal"; as though he said, "They indeed obtrude on me their
sacrifices, which they offer in Gilgal, and think that they avail to
excuse all their wickedness. I might, perhaps, forgive them, if they
were given to plunder and cruelty, and were perfidious and
fraudulent, provided pure worship had continued among them, and
religion had not been so entirely adulterated; but as they have
changed whatever I commanded in my law, and turned this celebrated
place to be the seat of the basest impiety, so that it is become, as
it were, a brothel, where religion is prostituted, it is hence
evident, that the whole of their wickedness is in Gilgal."
    It is certain that the people were also addicted to other
crimes; but the word "kol", all, is to be taken for what is chief or
principal. The Prophet speaks comparatively, not simply; as though
he had said, that this corruption of offering sacrifices at Gilgal
was more abominable in the sight of God than adulteries, or plunder,
or frauds, or unjust violence, or any crime that prevailed among
them. Their whole evil then was at Gilgal. But why the Prophet
speaks thus, I have lately explained; and that is because
superstitious men put forth their own devices, when God reproves
them, "O! we have still many exercises of religion." They bring
forward these by way of compensation. But the Lord shows that he is
far more grievously offended with these superstitions, with which
hypocrites cover themselves as with a shield, than with a life void
of every appearance of religion: for "these," he says, "I conceived
a hatred against them, on account of the wickedness of their works."
    Here again the Prophet condemns what men think to be their
special holiness. Who indeed can persuade hypocrites that their
fictitious modes of worship are the greatest abominations? Nay, they
even extol and imagine themselves to be like angels, and, as it
were, cover all their wickedness with these disguises; as we see to
be the case with the Papists who think, that when they obtrude on
God their many masses and other devised forms, every sort of
wickedness is redeemed. Since then hypocrites are thus wont to put
on a disguise before God, and at the same time flatter themselves,
the Prophet here declares that they are the more hated by God for
this very wickedness, of daring to corrupt and adulterate his pure
worship.
    He then adds, "I will eject them from my house". When God
threatens to eject Israel from his house, it is the same as though
he said, "I will wholly cast you away;" as when one cuts off a
withered branch from a tree, or a diseased member from the body. It
is indeed certain that the Israelites were then like bastards; for
they were not worthy of any account or station in the Church,
inasmuch as they had a strange temple and profane sacrifices; but as
circumcision, and the priesthood in name, still remained among them,
they boasted themselves to be the children of Abraham, and a holy
people; hence the Prophet denounces here such a destruction, that it
might appear that they in vain gloried in these superior
distinctions, for God would expunge them from his catalogue. We now
understand the design of the Prophet: but we shall, to-morrow,
notice the remaining portion.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that inasmuch as thou hast freely embraced us
in thy only-begotten Son, and made us, from being the sons and race
of Adam, a holy and blessed seed, and as we have not hitherto ceased
to alienate ourselves from the grace thou hast offered to us, - O
grant, that we may hereafter so return to a sound mind, as to cleave
faithfully and with sincere affection of heart to thy Son, and so
retain by this bond thy love, and be also retained in the grace of
adoption, that thy name may be glorified by us as long as we sojourn
in this world, until thou at length gatherest us into thy celestial
kingdom, which has been purchased for us by the blood of thy Son.
Amen.

Lecture Twenty-sixth.

    We stated yesterday how God expels from his house those who
ought to have been deemed to be already among such as are without:
for hypocrites always invent coverings for themselves until the Lord
himself openly shows to them their baseness. It is therefore
necessary that what they seem to have, as Christ also declares
respecting hypocrites, should be taken away from them, (Matth. 13:
12.)
    It then follows, - "I will not proceed on to love them". A
question may be moved here - why does God speak thus of his love?
for he had already ceased to love that people, as it maybe fully
gathered from facts. - Though this saying may not be strictly
correct, yet it is not unsuitable. Profane men, and those who are in
love with worldly things estimate the love of God by present
appearances. When the Lord feeds them well and plentifully, when
they enjoy their pleasures, when they have no troubles to bear, they
think themselves to be most acceptable to God. Such was the case
with this people, as it has been already often stated, as long as
the Lord suspended his vengeance; and this was especially the case
under king Jeroboam the second, far we know that the Lord then
spared and greatly favoured them. It was then a certain kind of
love, when the Lord thus cherished them, God allured them to
repentance by the sweetness of his goodness. But now, as he sees
them to be growing harder and harder, he says, "I will not continue
my love towards them; for I will now really show that I am angry
with them, as I see that I have done nothing by my forbearance,
which they do in a manner laugh to scorn." Thus we see that men are
rejected by God nearly in the same way, when he exterminates them
from his Church, as when he withdraws his blessing, which is, as it
were, the pledge and symbol of his love.
    The reason afterwards follows, "Because heir princes are
perfidious": and this is expressly mentioned, for it was needful
that the origin of the evil should be stated. The Prophet then shows
here that corruptions originated not with the common people, but
with the princes. Now we know for what end God would have rank and
dignity to exist among men, and that is, that there might be
something like a bridle to restrain the waywardness of the
multitude. When, therefore, princes become leaders to every
wickedness, all things must then go on in the worst manner; for what
ought to be a remedy becomes the cause of ruin. This, then, is what
the Prophet meant in the first place. But by accusing the princes he
does not absolve the people; but, as it has been said in another
place, he insinuates that they must have been very blind, when they
suffered themselves to be drawn into the ditch by the blind: for the
people doubtless went astray of their own accord and willingly,
though they had erring leaders; and though, as it has appeared
elsewhere, they anxiously sought excuses for their errors. But we
may hence learn how frivolous is the excuse of those who at this day
exculpate themselves by the pretext of obeying princes and bishops;
for the Lord here denounces punishment on the whole people, because
the princes were perfidious. If it be so, we see that the whole body
is involved, when wicked leaders rule and draw the people from the
right way; yea, when they precipitate them into the same
transgressions, and carry them along with them. When, therefore,
there is such a confusion, universal punishment, which consumes all
together, must follow. Let us proceed -

Hosea 9:16
Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no
fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay [even] the
beloved [fruit] of their womb.

    The Prophet again threatens extreme vengeance to the
Israelites. It is no wonder that the same sentence is so often
repeated; for hypocrites, we know, too much flatter themselves, and
are not frightened even by the most grievous threatening. As then
hypocrites are so stupid, they must be often, nay, frequently
pricked, and most sharply, that they may at length be awakened out
of their torpor. Hence the Prophet repeats the threatening which he
had often before announced, and says, that Israel had been so
smitten, that their root had dried up. The comparison is taken from
a tree, which not only has had its branches cut off, but has also
been torn from the roots. The meaning is, that God would take such
vengeance on this miserable people, as wholly to destroy them,
without any hope of recovery. The root then is dried up, they will
produce fruit no more.
    He then leaves this similitude or metaphor, and says, "If they
generate, I will slay the desirable fruit of their womb"; that is,
though some seed be begotten, I will yet destroy it.
    We now then apprehend the design of the Prophet, which was to
show, that the Lord would no more be content with some moderate
punishment, for he had often found that this abandoned people were
in vain chastised by paternal love; but that extreme vengeance
awaited them, which would consume not only the men, but also their
children so that no residue should remain. The reason is afterwards
added -

Hosea 9:17
My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him:
and they shall be wanderers among the nations.

    The Prophet, as I have lately hinted, assigns a reason why God
had resolved to deal so severely with this people, namely because he
saw their unnameable perverseness. For the Prophets always defend
the justice of God against the impious complaints of those men who
murmur whenever God severely punishes them, and cry out that he is
cruel, and exceeds moderation. The Prophets do therefore shut up the
mouth of the ungodly, that they may not vomit out their blasphemies
against God; and the Prophet is now on this subject. Hence he says,
that destruction was nigh the Israelites, because God had rejected
them; for the verb "ma'as" means to reject, to cast away, to
despise. As long then as the Lord vouchsafed to care for this
people, they possessed at least some eminence; but the Prophet says
that now they were wholly cast away. What then remained for them but
entire ruin?
    And he says, "My God will cast them away". By this expression
he claims authority to himself, and thunders against the whole
people; for though the whole worship of God was shamefully corrupted
in the kingdom of Israel, they yet boasted that they were the holy
seed at Abraham, and the name of God was as yet ready in every
mouth, as we know that the ungodly take to themselves the liberty of
profaning the name of God without any hesitation or shame. Since
then this false glorying prevailed as yet among the Israelites, the
Prophet says, "He is no more your God, mine he is." Thus he placed
himself on one side, and set himself alone in opposition to the
whole people. But at the same time he proves that he has more
authority than they all; for he brings forward God as the supporter
and defender of his doctrine. 'My God,' he says, 'will cast them
away.' So also Isaiah says, when reproving Ahab, 'Is it not enough
that ye be troublesome to men, except ye be also troublesome to my
God?' (Isaiah 7: 13.) And yet Isaiah was not the only one who
worshipped God purely. This is true; but he had respect to the king
and his company; and therefore he connected himself with God, and
separated them all from himself, inasmuch as they had already by
their perfidy separated themselves from him.
    Then he says, 'My God will cast them away.' So at this day we
may safely take the name of God in opposition to the Papists; for
they have nothing in common with the true God, since they have
polluted themselves with so many abominations: and though they may
be proud against us, trusting in their vast multitude, and because
we are few; yet we may boldly oppose them, since God, we know, can
never be separated nor drawn away from his word, and his word, we
know, stands on our side. We may then lawfully reprove the Papists,
and say that God is opposed to them, for we fight under his banner.
    "Because", he says, "they have not obeyed me". We see that the
cause of extreme vengeance is perverseness; that is, when men
designedly harden their hearts against God. The Gentiles also
perish, indeed, without any instruction; but vengeance is doubled,
when the Lord extends his hand to the erring, and seeks to recall
them to the way of salvation, and when they obstinately refuse to
obey; yea, when they show their heart to be perverse in their
wickedness. When, then, such perverseness is added to errors and
vicious affections, God must necessarily come forth with his extreme
vengeance, as he threatens here by his Prophet.
    As, then, they obeyed not, the Lord will cast them away, and
they shall be fugitives among the nations. This seems to be a
lighter punishment than what he had previously stated respecting
their seed being destroyed. But we must remember the contrast
between the rest given them by God, and this vagrant wandering, of
which the Prophet now speaks. The land of Canaan was to them a quiet
habitation, where they rested as though God cherished them under his
wings; and hence it is even called the rest of God in Ps. 95. But
now, when the Israelites wandered as fugitives, and sought rest here
and there, and could not find it, it was more evidently a rejection
of them; for the Lord proved, every day and every moment, that they
were repudiated by him, inasmuch as they were deprived of that rest
which he had promised them. Let us proceed -




Chapter 10.

Hosea 10:1
Israel [is] an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself:
according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the
altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly
images.
    
    Interpreters explain this verse in various ways. Those who
think "bokek" here applied to the vine, means "empty," are mistaken;
for the Prophet means rather, that Israel was like a vine, which is
robbed after the ingathering is come: for the word "bakak" means
properly to pillage, or to plunder. But the Prophet compares the
gathering of grapes to robbing; and this view best suits the place.
He says, then, that "Israel is like a robbed vine"; for it was
stripped of its fruit; and then he adds, "He will make fruit for
himself". The verb "shuh" means to equal; and many render it thus, -
"He will equalise fruit to himself," or, "fruit has been squalled to
him." But this rendering brings out no clear sense. I rather follow
those who render it, "to lay up." This verb means also sometimes "to
lie;" at least some thus render the clause, "Fruit will lie to him:"
and though, in the sense of lying, it has a different final letter,
"shu'", it is yet said to be derived from this root, so that there
is a change of "alef" into "he", as grammarians think: and yet it
does not seem probable that "shu'" means to lie. But they elicit
this sense, "Israel is a plundered vine; therefore fruit will lie to
him;" that is, it will bring no produce, for that will happen to it
which is wont to be, when robbers have laid waste fields and
vineyards. But as I have said already, some more correctly render
it, "to lay up;" He will lay up fruit for himself. Some, however,
read the sentence as a question, - "Will Israel lay up fruit for
himself?" Then the sense is, that Israel was so plundered, that no
restitution could be hoped for. But these interpreters do not seem
to understand the mind of the Prophet.
    I collect a different meaning from the words, and that is, that
Israel would lay up fruit for himself after the robbing, and sacred
history confirms this view: for this people, we know, had been in
various ways chastised; so, however, that they gathered new
strength. For the Lord intended only to admonish them gently, that
they might be healed; but nothing, as it has before appeared, was
effected by God's moderation. The case, however, was so, that Israel
produced new fruit, as a vine, after having been robbed one year,
brings forth a new vintage; for one ingathering does not kill the
vine. Thus also Israel did lay up fruit for himself; that is, after
the Lord had collected there his vintage, he again favoured the
people with his blessing, and, as it were, restored them anew; as
vines in the spring throw out their branches, and then produce
fruit.
    But what did happen? "According to the abundance of his fruit",
he says, "he multiplied his altars". Here God complains, that
Israel, after having been once gathered, went on in his own
wickedness. Chastisements ought at least to have availed so much as
to induce Israel to retake himself to the pure worship of God. But
God not only reproves the people here for having been always
obstinate but also for having, as it were designedly increased their
vices. For it was like a horrible conspiracy against God for the
people, as soon as they acquired new strength, to multiply altars to
themselves, when yet the Lord had already shown, by clear evidences,
that fictitious modes. of worship did not please him; nay, that they
were to him the greatest abominations. We now apprehend the meaning
of the Prophet. Then "Israel, a robbed vines multiplied altars for
himself"; that is, Israel has indeed been gathered but the Lord
restored to him wealth and abundance of provisions, and whatever
appertains to a safe and happy condition; has Israel become better
through correction? Has he repented after the Lord has so mercifully
withdrawn his hand? By no means, he says; but he has multiplied
altars for himself, he has become worse than he was wont to be; and
"according to the goodness of his land, he has been doing good in
statues".
    Now this is a very useful doctrine; for we see how the Lord
forbears in inflicting punishments - he does not execute them with
the utmost rigour; for as soon as he lays on a few stripes, he
withholds his hand. But how do they act who are thus moderately
chastised? As soon as they can recruit their spirits, they are
carried away by a more headstrong inclination, and grow insolent
against God. We see this evil prevalent in the world even in our
day, as it has been in all ages. We need not wonder, then, that the
Prophet here expostulates with the people of Israel: but it is, at
the same time, right for us to apply the doctrine for our own
instruction. Though, then, the Lord should spare us, and, after
having begun to chastise us, should soon show indulgence, and
restore us as it were anew, let us beware lest a forgetfulness of
our former sins should creep over us; but let his chastisements
exert over us an influence, even after God has put a limit and an
end to them. For the import of what the Prophet teaches is this,
that men are not to forget the wrath of God, though he may not
always, or continually, lay on stripes, but to consider that the
Lord deals thus gently that they may have more time to repents and
that a truce is granted them that they may more quietly reflect on
their sins.
    But he says, "According to the goodness of their land, they
have been doing good in statues". I have before stated, that some
take this as meaning, that they made good statues, and consider
"good" to be elegant. But I repeat the preposition "lamed" before
altars. When the Prophet said that Israel multiplied altars to
himself, the literal reading is, that he multiplied in altars, or as
to altars; that is, he did much, or very liberally spent money on
altars. So also here, it is proper to repeat, that they did good as
to statues. But a concession is made in the verb "hetivu"; for it is
certain that they grievously sinned; they would not have provoked
the wrath of God had they not dealt wickedly in altars and statues.
But the Prophet speaks ironically of the perverted worship of God,
as when we say at this day, that the Papists are mad in their good
intentions: when I call intentions good, I concede to them a
character which does not rightly belong to them. It is therefore
according to their sense that the Prophet speaks here; but he says,
ironically, that they did good in statues; that is, that they seemed
to themselves to be the most holy worshipers of God; for they made a
show of great zeal. It was, as they say, insane devotion. But there
appeared here something more than blind hardness, inasmuch as they
had so soon forgotten the Lord's displeasure, of which they had been
reminded by evident tokens. We now then perceive the object of the
Prophet, and what is the application of his doctrine. Let us go on -

Hosea 10:2
Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty: he shall
break down their altars, he shall spoil their images.

    He says first that their heart was divided, that is, from God;
for this, we know, is principally required, that people should
faithfully cleave to their God. "And now Israel, what does thy God
require of thee, but to cleave to him with the whole heart?" Since
God then binds us to himself by a holy union, it is the summit of
all wickedness, when our heart is divided from him, as it is when an
unchaste and perfidious wife alienates her affection from her
husband. For as long as the husband keeps the heart of his wife, as
it were, tied to himself, conjugal fidelity and chastity continue;
but when her heart is divided from her husband, it is all over, and
she abandons herself to lewdness. So also the Prophet says here that
the heart of the people was divided from God; for they did not
devote themselves to God with a pure and sincere affection, as they
ought to have done. "This people then have withdrawn their heart
from me."
    But he says, "Now they shall be guilty"; that is I will now
show what they deserve, so that they shall not hereafter, as they
are wont to do, sport with their cavils; for the verb "'asham" is
not to be referred to the deeds but rather, as, they say, to its
manifestation. Then he says that they shall be guilty, for they
shall be convicted: as, to be justified means to be absolved, so
also to be guilty means to be condemned. The meaning is, that as
this people could not perceive the Lord's wrath as long as their
condition was easy to be borne, he would inflict such dreadful
punishment as would convince them, so that they might no longer
deceive and flatter themselves. They shall then be now condemned.
How? For the Lord "will overturn their altars". This may be referred
to the minister of vengeance; but as no name is expressed, I prefer
to understand God as being meant. God then shall overturn their
altars and destroys or reduce to nothing, their statues.
    This was added, because ungodly men, we know, trust in their
own devices, and can never be brought to serious fear, except when
they understand that they have been deceived by the crafts of Satan,
while they gave themselves up to superstitions and idolatry. Hence
the Prophet declares that their altars shall be overturned, and
their statues reduced to nothing, that hypocrites might lay aside
the confidence by which they had hitherto grown proud against God.
But a confirmation of this view follows -

Hosea 10:3
For now they shall say, We have no king, because we feared not the
LORD; what then should a king do to us?

    He explains more at large what he had briefly referred to, when
he said, that the condemnation, which would discover their
wickedness, was now near at hand. He now adds, that even they
themselves would, of their own accord, say, that they were
deservedly punished in being deprived of a king; nay, that a king
would avail them nothing, because they had not feared Jehovah. There
is always to be understood a contrast between the perverse boasting
of the people and the feeling of God's wrath, of which the Prophet
now speaks. For as long as God spared the Israelites, they abused
his forbearance and his kindness. They did not then think that there
was any thing to be reprehended in their life; nay, we know how
petulantly they contended with the Prophets: as soon as a severe
word came out of the mouth of any Prophet, great contentions arose.
"What! dost thou treat thus the people of God, and the elect race of
Abraham?" Since, then, they so obstinately spurned every
instruction, the Prophet says here, "The time shall come, when they
shall say that they have no king, because they did not fear the
Lord." The meaning is, that as they did not profit by the word of
the Lord, another kind of teaching was soon to be adopted; for the
Lord would really show his wrath, and even force them to confess
against their will what they now excused: for this confession of sin
would have never been expressed, had not the Lord dealt severely
with them. They shall therefore say, - when? even when they shall be
taken to another school; for the Lord will not henceforth
remonstrate with them in words, but will so strike them with his
hand, that they will understand that they have to do with him.
    But it must be observed, that the Prophet speaks not here of
the repentance of the people, nor relates their words, but rather
mentions the thing itself. Hypocrites either clamour against God
when he visits their sins, or feignedly own that they are worthy of
such punishments, and all the while the same perverseness remains
within. But when the Prophet introduces them as speaking, he does
not mean that they will say what he relates; but, as I have said
already, he rather speaks of the thing itself. Hence "They will
say", that is, the event itself will declare, that they are deprived
of a king, because they feared not Jehovah; yea, that though a king
ruled over them, he would be useless. Though, then, the Israelites
had never ceased to clamour against God, nor given over openly to
vomit forth their blasphemies against him, yet this, which the
Prophet says, would have been still true. How so? Because it was
sufficient that they were in reality convicted, though God had not
extorted from them this confession; yea, they were themselves made
to feel that they were justly smitten by the hand of God, however
they might obstinately deny this before men.
    The Prophet shows here also, that profane men, while any hope
on earth is set before them, proudly despise the hand of God, and
grow torpid in their own security, as in their own dregs. While
Israel saw their king in the midst of them, they thought themselves
safe from every harm, and boldly despised all threatening. This,
then, is what the Prophet meant. Still further, when the Lord takes
away every thing that dazzles the eyes of profane and wicked men,
they then begin to own how foolishly they had flattered themselves,
and how much they had been deceived by Satan. This is what is meant
by Hosea, when he says, that the Israelites shall be constrained to
know that they had no king, because they feared not God: but this
repentance would be too late, for it would be without advantage. It
now follows -

Hosea 10:4
They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant: thus
judgement springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field.
    
    "They have spoken words", they have uttered words. Some give
this explanation, that they daringly followed their own counsels, as
the despisers of God are wont to settle and determine what comes to
their minds according to their own will; for they deign not to
inquire of God what is right. Thus they take the meaning to be; but
I view it to be different, that is, that they spoke words, or very
freely testified, that they would be the best and the most faithful
worshipers of God. Then it follows, "By swearing falsely". Some
refer this to covenants. I will explain the words one by one; for I
shall hereafter speak of the real meaning of the Prophet.
    Then he says, that "they swore falsely", that is, according to
some because there was in them much levity and changeableness. And,
indeed, I confess it to be true, that they procured for themselves
grievous punishments by their perjuries; but the Prophet rather
means those who swore falsely to the Lord. It then follows, "By
cutting a covenant", by making a covenant. Here again the Prophet no
doubt reproves them for renewing their covenant with God
perfidiously; for it was a mere dissimulation. But it follows,
"Judgement will germinate as wormwood". Some render the word
"karosh" as gall; but the similitude is not suitable, since the
Prophet speaks here of fields; for he adds, "In the furrows of the
field;" that is, judgement will germinate in the furrows as wormwood
or some other bitter plant.
    I have thus briefly explained how some understand this verse,
namely, that Israel was daring and haughty in their counsels, boldly
determining whatever pleased them, as if it were not in the power of
God to change what men resolve to do, - and then, that they
implicated themselves in many compacts, that without any faith they
violated them with this and that nation, and that at last they had
nothing but bitterness. This is their exposition: but I rather think
that the cause of God is here pleaded by the Prophet; that is, that
the Israelites, as often as they promised some repentance, and gave
some sign of it, only dissembled and lied to God. Hence he says
"They have spoken words," but they were only words; for they were
never from a heart touched with any feeling as to God's wrath, so as
to abhor themselves for their vices. They therefore uttered words
only.
    He afterwards expresses the same deceitfulness in other words:
"They have sworn falsely", he says, and made a covenant; which
means, that though they seemed to wish to return to God, it was yet
a fallacious pretence; yea, a perjury. When they wished to prove
themselves to be especially faithful, they then sinned more
grievously by renewing their covenant.
    "Judgement shall" therefore "germinate as wormwood in the
furrows of the field". Judgement is here to be taken as rectitude,
as though the Prophet had said, "When they exhibit some appearance
of religion, and give a colour to their impieties, it seems indeed
to be judgement, there seems to be some justice; but it will be at
last wormwood, and will germinate in the furrows of the field."
    Interpreters seem not to me to have understood the design of
the Prophet. For why does he say, "in the furrows of the field,"
rather than in the field? Even for this reason, because there is
some preparation made, when the field is sloughed, for the good seed
to grow. When therefore, noxious herbs grow on the furrows of the
land, it is less to be endured than when they grow in dry and desert
places; for this is what is wont naturally to happen. But when
wormwood grows up instead of wheat in the furrows, that is, on lands
well cultivated, it is a thing more strange and less to be endured.
We now then apprehend what the Prophet meant. They indeed seemed at
times to be touched with some feeling of piety, and promised much,
and were very liberal in good words; they even swore, and seemed
prepared to renew their covenant with God, - but what was all this?
It was the same as if a husband man had prepared his field, and
noxious herbs had grown up where he had bestowed much labour and
toil. Such was their rectitude, - a disguised form or shadow of
religion; it was nothing else, but like wormwood growing in
well-cultivated land.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that as thou dost train us up with so much
diligence and assiduous care, and regard us as dear and precious
like an hereditary vine, - O grant, that we may not bring forth wild
grapes, and that our fruit may not be bitter and unpleasant to thee,
but that we may strive so to form our whole life in obedience to thy
law, that all our actions and thoughts may be pleasant and sweet
fruits to thee. And as there is ever some sin mixed up with our
works, even when we desire to serve thee sincerely and from the
heart, grant that all stains in our works may be so cleansed and
washed away by the sacrifice of thy Son, that they may be to thee
sacrifices of sweet odour, through the same, even Christ Jesus, who
has so reconciled us to thee, as to obtain pardon even for our
works. Amen.

Lecture Twenty-seventh.

Hosea 10:5
The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of
Bethaven: for the people thereof shall mourn over it, and the
priests thereof [that] rejoiced on it, for the glory thereof,
because it is departed from it.

    I shall first briefly touch on what I have mentioned in reading
over the text; that is, that some interpreters expound this verse of
the exile of the people. The word "gur" signifies to be banished:
and it means also to fear; but the context, as we shall see, will
not allow it to be taken here in the sense of being banished. Some
render the other word "shachan" to dwell, but they are mistaken. The
Prophet simply means that the inhabitants of Samaria were now
glorying in their calves, (for the calves we know, were in Dan and
Bethel,) but that in a short time the Lord would strike them with
terror, and the cause we shall see hereafter.
    I now come to show the real meaning of the prophet. "The
inhabitants of Samaria", he says "shall fear", because of the calves
of Bethaven. The Prophet derides the folly of the people of Israel
in worshipping calves, and in thinking that the whole hope of safety
was included in them. How so? "They are constrained" he says, "to
weep for the exile of their calf; so far is it from being able to
bring them any aid, that the citizens of Samaria in vain deplore its
captivity." By way of contempt, he calls the calves, heifers. He
might have used the masculine gender; but the whole of the verse
glances at the madness of the people of Israel, because they were so
grossly delirious in their superstitions, and yet were wholly
insensible. Then the inhabitants of Samaria shall fear for the
calves of Bethaven, because idolaters, when they see some danger to
their idols, tremble, and would gladly bring aid; and this very fear
betrays their stupidity and madness. For why do not the gods help
themselves, instead of expecting help from mortals? We now
understand the design of the Prophet.
    But he says, "They will mourn over it". The number is here
changed. He had said, "because of the heifers;" and now he expresses
the kind by putting down a relative of the masculine gender "wau".
He therefore returns to "calves," and afterwards uses the singular
number; for there was one only at Bethaven, the other was at Dan.
But we have already shown why the Prophet called them heifers.
    "Its people", he says, "shall mourn for it", yea, even the
priests also. Some think that "kemerim", priests were called by this
terms because they put on black vestments in celebrating their
rites; for the word "kemer" means black; but this is a vain
conjecture: and the Rabbis, as it often appears, are very bold in
their figments; for they regard not what is true, but only make
conjectures, and wish that whatever comes to their minds to be
counted as oracular; nor do they regard history, but advance without
reason what pleases them. Another explanation of the word may be
adduced, and one in my judgement more probable; for the word
signifies also to ring again or to resound; and the priests, we
know, made, in performing their services, great noises and howling;
as Elijah says 'Cry aloud, for your Baal is perhaps asleep,' (1
Kings 18: 27.) If their conjecture is allowable, I would rather say
that they were called by this word on account of the noise they
made. But I leave the thing undecided. It was, however, a name
commonly in use, as it appears from other places. For by this name
"kemarim" were those new priests called, whom Josiah took away, as
it is related in 2 Kings 23. But whether they had this name from
their noises, or the black colour of their vestments, it is still
certain that they were the priests of false gods.
    The Prophet now says, that the priests also shall mourn, for
the verb "'aval" is to be repeated. He afterwards adds, "yagilu 'al-
kevodo"; the relative, who, is wanting - who exult, but it is to be
understood after "kemarim", who exult for it. But why should they
mourn? They shall mourn for its glory, because it had departed: they
shall now begin to mourn, because the glory of the calf had passed
away from it. Here the Prophet teaches that the glorying, by which
hypocrites deceive themselves, will not be permanent; for the Lord
will surely lead them, as we shall see, to sudden and unexpected
shame. He then says that there would be mourning for the calves
among the citizens of Samaria. They indeed thought that the kingdom
was well fortified, for they had erected temples in their borders,
to be, as it were, their fortresses. They hence imagined themselves
to be safe from every incursion of enemies. The Prophet says, "Nay,
they shall mourn for their calf." How so? Truly its own people shall
mourn for it. He goes farther, and calls all its worshipers, the
people of the calf: and we know that the whole kingdom of Israel was
implicated in that superstition. Yea, he says, even the priests, who
exult for it, shall mourn. Why? Because its glory shall depart from
it. It now follows -

Hosea 10:6
It shall be also carried unto Assyria [for] a present to king Jareb:
Ephraim shall receive shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his own
counsel.

    Here the Prophet expresses more clearly the cause of mourning
to the priests and to the whole people, "The calf", he says, "shall
be carried into Assyria, and carried as a present to king Jareb". It
is probable, that when extreme danger came, the king of Israel was
constrained either to cast the calf into a new form, or to break it
in pieces, to redeem peace from the Assyrian king. As then the whole
kingdom was reduced to great want, we may infer from this place that
the calf or calved were carried into Assyria for pacifying the king.
Since then the Israelites saw that they were stripped of their
protection, (for they were now without any hope of safety, as there
was no God among them,) the Prophet mentioned above their grief: but
he now shows that exile was nigh at hand, not only to the
Israelites, but also to the calves which they worshipped and by
whose aid they thought themselves to be secure and safe in their
country.
    There is a particular emphasis in the particle "gam", as though
the Prophet said, "Not only the Israelites shall migrate, but the
very calf shall also be carried into Assyria." Of the word "Jareb,"
we have spoken in the fifth chapter: it seems to have been the
proper name of a man. Some conjecture it to be a city in Assyria,
though not noticed by writers. Others think it to be the name of a
neighbouring king to the Assyrian, but without reason, and they are
refuted by this very passage; for the Prophet doubtless points out
here the Assyrian king. He yet calls him Jareb; it may be that he
was as yet a private man, or he may have so called him by way of
reproach. This is however uncertain. Jerome renders the word,
"avenger." But it is sufficiently evident that it was a proper name,
not of a city or place, but, as it has been said, of a man. And I am
disposed to think, that he calls him king Jareb by way of contempt,
for this contempt prevailed among the Israelites as long as they
thought themselves strong enough to resist. But the Lord afterwards
checked this pride: hence the Prophet says now in a cutting manner,
"The calf shall be carried into Assyria to pacify king Jareb."
    He afterwards adds, "Ephraim shall receive shame", or reproach;
"Israel shall be made ashamed of his counsel". He says the same
thing in different ways and not without reason; for it was difficult
at first to persuade the Israelites that what they thought to have
been wisely contrived would turn out to their shame. The king
Jeroboam the first, when he erected temples did indeed think it the
best device to prevent the people, were they to repent, from
submitting themselves again to the posterity of David. Hence he
thought that the ten tribes were wholly torn away, when he set up
that peculiar worship, which had nothing in common with that of the
tribe of Judah. And doubtless had the ten tribes worshipped the true
God at Jerusalem, this union might have been the means of again
reuniting them into one body under one head. Hence the king Jeroboam
thought that he had provided well for his kingdom, to render it
permanent, by cutting off all communication between the two people:
and there was none in Israel who did not approve of this counsel;
for they took delight in their wealth, in the number of their men,
and in other advantages. Since then the kingdom of Judah was much
inferior, the Israelites were vastly pleased with themselves. This
is the reason why the Prophet says, "Ephraim shall receive shame";
Israel shall be made ashamed of his counsel. But this, as I have
said, could not appear credible at first. For men promise to
themselves the success they wish in their own craftiness: and hence
it comes also, that they dare to attempt any thing they please
without the aid of God. This is the reason why the Prophet repeats
the same sentence, "Ephraim," he says, "shall receive shame; Israel
shall be made ashamed," - for what? for their counsel. They think
that their own counsel will be most useful to them; yea, they place
their safety in their own craftiness. But the Lord will overrule for
their shame whatever they have devised. It follows -

Hosea 10:7
[As for] Samaria, her king is cut off as the foam upon the water.
    
    The Prophet proceeds with the same subject, nor ought it to be
deemed a useless prolixity. It would have indeed been sufficient by
one word to threaten the Israelites, had they been pliable and
obedient; but as they were stupid in their perverseness, it was
necessary to stun their ears with continual threatening, that they
might be at least less excusable before God. Hence the Prophet says
now, that "the king of Samaria shall be cut off like the foam": and
he thus speaks of the king, because the Israelites thought their
king, next to their idols, to be to them an invincible fortress. For
thus ungodly men, as it has been mentioned before, always imagine
their stronghold to be in the world and earthly things. Hence, the
Lord denounces a just punishment, by saying that he would cut off
the king; for the impious confidence, of which I have spoken, could
not be otherwise corrected. Therefore "the king of Samaria shall be
cut off" - in what manner? "Like a foam". It is a most apt
comparison; for the Prophet shows that the condition of the kingdom,
which they imagined to be firm and perpetual, had nothing in it but
an empty appearance, like the foam, which has nothing substantial.
And further, he seems to me to point out another thing, that is,
that the kingdom, though it showed itself to be above other
kingdoms, was yet but an excrement. The foam floats above the waters
of the sea, and by its height seems eminent; but what is the foam
but the excrement of the water? for whatever is decayed in the
waters passes into foam. So Israel thought, that as they were endued
with power, and in every way excelled the tribe of Judah, they could
ride, as it were, over their heads. The Prophet, on the contrary,
says that they were foam, and also their king. "Your king," he says,
"though the king of Judah cannot be compared with him, is yet a
foam. By his height he seems indeed wonderful, and hence has arisen
your pride, for you are now become hardened against God; but the
Lord will cut him off like a foam." The Prophet then not only
compares the king of Israel to a bubble or to foaming waters; but he
says, that with respect to the king of Judah, he is an excrement. We
now then understand the meaning of the Prophet.

Hosea 10:8
The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed:
the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars; and they
shall say to the mountains, Cover us; and to the hills, Fall on us.
    
    We see how much the Prophet dwells on one thing: but, as I have
already said, there was need of a strong hammer to beat this iron;
for the hearts of the people were iron, or even steel. This hardness
could not then be broken except with violence. This is the reason
why the Prophet goes on with his threatening and places before their
eyes in so many forms the vengeance of God; of which it would have
been enough for him briefly to remind them, had they not been so
perverse.
    And first he says, "The high places of Aven have perished", or
shall perish. He now calls Bethel Aven, as he called it before
Bethaven. We have stated the reason for changing the name. Jeroboam
might indeed have disguised the worship, which he had profanely
introduced by this pretext, that God had appeared in that place to
holy Jacob, and we know its name was given to it by God: but in the
meantime, as the people had made a wrong use of the Patriarch's
example, the place was called Bethaven. Bethaven, we know, is the
house of iniquity; as though the Prophet had said, "God dwells not
in this place, as superstitious men imagine; but it has been
corrupted by ungodly worshipers." He therefore says, "The high
places of Aven;" that is, of impiety. But it may be expedient to
repeat here what we have before said, namely, that when men
degenerate from the pure teaching of God, they in vain cover their
profanations with empty names, as we see the Papists doing at this
day; for they adorn that profanation, the Mass, with the title of
Sacrament, as if it was something allied to it. They wish even their
own Mass to be regarded as the Holy Supper, as if it were in their
power to abolish what has been prescribed by the Son of God, and to
substitute in its place their own inventions. Hence, how much soever
the Papists may dignify their profanations with honourable names
they effect nothing. How so? Because God loudly proclaims respecting
Bethel that it is Bethaven; and the reason is well known, because
Jeroboam erected temples, and appointed new sacrifices, without
God's command. Whenever, then, men depart from the word of the Lord,
it will avail them nothing to disguise their own dreams; for the
Lord approves of nothing but what he himself commands. Hence the
high places of Aven have perished, or "shall perish."
    He adds "The sin of Israel". This sentence, placed in
apposition, belongs to the former. What is meant is, The sin of
Israel shall perish. But, as it was said yesterday, the Israelites
thought that they performed a service acceptable to God; and hence
it was that they were so sedulously attentive to their holy rites;
but God, on the contrary, pronounced them to be sin. How so? Because
it is profanation and idolatry in men to leave off following God's
command, and to give way to their own fancies and inventions. We
must then understand, that it is not in the power of men to form any
modes of worship they please; nor is it in their power to decide on
this or that worship, whether it be lawful or spurious; but nothing
remains for us but to attend to what the Lord says. When, therefore,
the Lord pronounces that to be profane which pleases us, we ought to
acquiesce in his judgement; for it does not become us to dispute
with him, and it would be vain to do so.
    "The thorn and the thistle", he says, "shall come up on their
altars". It may be asked, Ought the Prophet simply, by these tokens,
to have reproved the superstition of the people, seeing that the
same thing happened to the temple a short time after, though not
built by the counsel of men, but by that of God? Since, then, the
grass grew where the temple was, was not that worship, which we know
was founded by God, exposed to ridicule? It is only the same that
can be said of the calves. We grant that the calves were carried
into Assyria, as a price from the wretched Israelites to pacify the
king, who was angry with them. Was not the ark of the covenant taken
also into captivity by enemies? Did not king Nebuchadnezzar take
away the vessels of the temple? And was not pious Hezekiah
constrained to strip the doors of the temple of their ornaments?
Then this seems not to have been fitly spoken by the Prophet. The
answer to all this may be readily given: The Israelites promised to
themselves what they saw, and found afterwards to be vain as is the
case with hypocrites, who securely despise all judgements and all
punishments. How so? Because they thought their own perverted
worship to be sufficient for their safety; though they were in their
whole life abominable yet as some form of religion was observed by
them, they thought that God was bound to be with them: such and so
supine was the security of that people. Very different was the case
with the tribe of Judah. For God, by his Prophets, proclaimed aloud,
"Trust not in words of falsehood; for ye boast continually, The
temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, (Jer. 7: 4,) but I no
longer dwell in that temple:" and Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord
departing elsewhere, (Ezek. 10: 4.) What is said here could not then
apply to the temple, nor to the true and lawful altar, nor to the
true worshipers of God; but the Prophet justly reproaches the
Israelites for expecting safety from their own altars, while yet
they were provoking God's wrath against themselves by such
inventions. We ought, then to remember this difference between the
tribe of Judah and the ten tribes.
    But he adds, - "They shall say to the mountains, Cover us: end
to the hills, Fall on us". By this form of speaking, the Prophet
intended to express the dreadful vengeance of God; as if he had
said, that the destruction, which was at hand, would be so grievous
that it would be better to perish a hundred times than to remain in
that state alive. For when men say to hills, Fall on us, and to
mountains, Cover us, they doubtless desire a death too dreadful to
be spoken of; but it is the same as if the Prophet had said, that
life and light, and the sight of the sun and the common air, would
become a horror to them, for they would perceive the hand of God to
be against them. And further, it is a sign of extreme despair, when
men willingly seek the abyss, where they may sink to avoid the
presence of God and present destruction. And hence Christ has also
transferred this passage to set forth the last judgement, of which
he speaks, - 'They shall say to the mountains, Cover us; and to the
hills, Fall on us;' that is, what was once said by the Prophet shall
then be again fulfilled; that the wicked will prefer a hundred
deaths to one life; for both light and the vital air will be hated
and detested by them; because they will perceive themselves to be
oppressed by the dreadful hand of God. It follows -

Hosea 10:9
O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah: there they
stood: the battle in Gibeah against the children of iniquity did not
overtake them.
    
    He here reproaches Israel for having been long inured in their
sins, and not for being lately corrupted. This is the substance. He
had said in the last chapter that they were deep in their sins, as
in the days of Gibeah: we then explained why the Prophet adduced the
example of Gibeah, and that was, because the Gibeonites had fallen
away from all fear of God, as if not a word about the law had ever
been heard among them. We indeed know that they abandoned themselves
to filthy and monstrous lusts, like the inhabitants of Sodom and
Gomorra. Seeing, then, that so great obscenity prevailed openly and
with impunity in Gibeah, rightly did the Prophet say that the
Israelites were then lost and past hope, as the case was at that
time. But now he regards another thing, even this, - that from that
time they had not ceased to accumulate evils on evils, and thus to
spin, as it were, a continuous rope of iniquity, as it is said in
another place, - "From the days then of Gibeah hast thou, Israeli
sinned".
    But this seems an unjust charge; for we know that the whole
people united together against the tribe of Benjamin. Since, then,
the Israelites revenged that wickedness which was committed in the
city of Gibeah, why does the Prophet bring against them the crime of
which they had been the avengers? But we know that it often happens,
that they who execute the vengeance of God are in no respect better;
and we had a remarkable example of this at the beginning in Jehu;
for he had been God's minister in punishing superstitions; yet God
calls him a robber, and compares the vengeance he executed to
robbery; 'I will avenge,' he says, 'on the head of Jehu the blood of
the house of Ahab, which he has shed.' And yet we know that he was
armed with the sword of God. This is indeed true; but he acted not
with a sincere and upright heart, for he afterwards followed the
same example. So now the Prophet says, that the Israelites had
sinned even from that time; as though he said, "The Lord by the hand
of your fathers took vengeance on the Gibeonites and on the whole
tribe of Benjamin: but they were wholly like them. This corruption
has from that time overwhelmed, like a deluge, the whole land of
Israel. There is then no reason for you to boast that you have been
better, inasmuch as it afterwards fully appeared what you were, for
you imitated the Gibeonites." We now then understand the design of
the Prophet, and how justly he brings this charge against the
Israelites, that they had sinned from the days of Gibeah. They
indeed thought that that crime was confined to a small corner of the
land; but the Prophet says that the whole land was covered with it,
and that they all exposed themselves to God's judgement, and
deserved the same punishment with the Gibeonites and their brethren,
the whole tribe of Benjamin. 'Thou, Israel, hast then sinned from
the days of Gibeah:' the Israelites said, that the Benjamites alone
sinned; but that sin, he says was common.
    "There they stood". This clause is variously explained. Some
think that the people are reproved for wishing to retreat after
having twice fought without success. We hence see that their minds
were soft and cowardly, since they so soon succumbed to their trial.
They therefore think that this want of confidence is pointed out by
the Prophet; 'There they stood,' he says, that is, retreated from
the battle; for as they did not succeed as they wished, they thought
that they had been deceived. Hence it is concluded, that they did
not ascribe his just honour to God, and were on this account
reprehensible. But others say, that God had then testified by a
clear proof that the Israelites were equal in guilt to the
Gibeonites; for how came it, they say, that when they engaged in
battle, they were compelled twice to retreat? All Israel were armed
against one tribe; how then was it that they did not immediately
overcome? But the Benjamites, we know, were not at last conquered
without a great loss. It is then certain that God plainly showed
that the Israelites were unworthy of so honourable an office; for
the Israelites wished to execute God's judgement, when they were
themselves equally wicked. The Lord then openly reminded them, that
it was not for them to turn their zeal against others, when they
were no less guilty themselves. It seems to others that their
obstinacy is here pointed out: 'There they stood;' that is, from
that time they have been perverse in their wickedness, and 'the
battle against the children of iniquity did not lay hold on them.'
This third exposition is what I mostly approve; that is, that the
Israelites, when they became ungodly and wicked, though they
professed great zeal and ardour against the tribe of Benjamin, did
not yet cease from that time to conduct themselves perversely
against God, so that they at last arrived at the highest pitch of
impiety.
    But what follows, "The battle in Gibea against the children of
iniquity did not lay hold on them", may also be variously explained.
Some say, that the Israelites ought not to have defended themselves
with this shield, that God had so severely punished the Gibeonites
and their kindred. "The Lord spared you once, but what then? He has
deferred his vengeance for a long time; but will he on that account
deal more mildly with you now? Nay, a heavier vengeance awaits you;
for from that time he has not forced repentance out of you." But
others read the sentence as a question, "Has the battle in Gibeah
against the children of iniquity laid hold on you?" But the simple
sense of the words seems to me to be this, that the battle had not
laid hold on the Israelites, because they had not been touched by
that example. The judgements of God, we know, are set forth before
our eyes, that each of us may apply them for our own benefit. The
Prophet now reproves the neglect of the Israelites in this matter,
because they disregarded the event as a thing of no moment. Hence
the battle did not lay hold on them; that is, they did not perceive
that they were warned at the expense of others to repent, and to
live afterwards a holier and purer life in subjection to God. And
this view is confirmed by the last clause, "against the children of
iniquity;" for why is this expressly added by the Prophet, except
that the Lord testified that they should not be unpunished, who were
like the Gibeonites, with whom he dealt so rigidly and severely.
Since, then, the Israelites had not been touched, their stupidity
was hence proved. And for the same reason Paul says, that the wrath
of God shall come on the children of disobedience or of unbelief,
(Eph. 5: 6:) for when God takes vengeance on one people or on one
man, he doubtless shows himself in that particular judgement to be
the judge of the world. This seems to me to be the genuine meaning
of the Prophet.
    We ought further to bear in mind, that when men go on in their
wickedness, whatever sins their fathers have done are justly imputed
to them. When we return to the right way, the Lord instantly buries
all our sins, and reconciles us to himself on this condition, that
he will pardon whatever fault there may be in us: though we may,
through our whole life, have provoked his wrath against us, he will
yet as I have said, instantly bury the whole. But if we repent not,
the Lord will remember, not only our own sins, but also those of our
fathers, as it is evident from what is here said by the Prophet.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that as thou hast once appeared in the person
of thy only-begotten Son, and hast rendered in him thy glory visible
to us, and as thou dost daily set forth to us the same Christ in the
glass of thy gospel, - O grant, that we, fixing our eyes on him, may
not go astray, nor be led here and there after wicked inventions,
the fallacies of Satan, and the allurements of this world: but may
we continue firm in the obedience of faith and persevere in it
through the whole course of our life, until we be at length fully
transformed into the image of thy eternal glory, which now in part
shines in us, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.


Lecture Twenty-eighth.

Hosea 10:10
[It is] in my desire that I should chastise them; and the people
shall be gathered against them, when they shall bind themselves in
their two furrows.
    
    When God says that he desires to chastise the people, he
intimates that this was his purpose, as when one greatly wishes for
anything; and it may be an allowable change in the sentence, if the
copulative was omitted, and it be rendered thus, - It is in my
desire to chastise them. But to depart from the words seems not to
me necessary; I therefore take them apart as they stand, in this
sense, - that God would follow his desire in chastising the people.
The sentence seems indeed to be repugnant to many others, in which
God declares his sorrow, when constrained to deal severely with his
people, but the two statements are not discordant. Passions, we
know, belong not to God; but in condescension to men's capacities,
he puts on this or that character. When he seems unwilling to indict
punishment, he shows with how much love he regards his own people,
or with what kind and tender affection he loves them. But yet, as he
has to do with perverse and irreclaimable men, he says that he will
take pleasure in their destruction; and for this reason also, it is
said that God will take revenge. We now then understand the meaning
of the Prophet: he intimates, that the purpose which God had formed
of destroying the people of Israel could not now be revoked; for
this punishment was to him his highest delight.
    He further says, "I will chastise them, and assembled shall
peoples be against them". By these words God shows that all people
are in his hand, that he can arm them whenever he pleases; and this
truth is everywhere taught in the Scriptures. God then so holds all
people under his command, that by a hiss or a nod he can, whenever
it pleases him, stir them up to war. Hence, as heedless Israel
laughed at God's judgement, he now shows how effectual will be his
revenge, for he will assemble all people for their destruction.
    And for the same purpose he adds, "When they shall have bound
themselves in two furrows". By this clause the Prophet warns the
Israelites, that nothing would avail them, though they fortified
themselves against every danger, and though they gathered strength
on every side; for all their efforts would not prevent God from
executing his vengeance. When therefore they shall be bound in their
two furrows, I will not on that account give over to assemble the
people who shall dissipate all their fortresses. We now apprehend
the design of the Prophet. He no doubt mentions two furrows, with
reference to sloughing; for we shall see that the Prophet dwells on
this metaphor. However much then the Israelites might join together
and gather strength, it would yet be easy for God to gather people
to destroy them.
    Some refer this sentence to the whole body of the people; for
they think that the compact between the kingdom of Judah and Israel
is here pointed out: but this is a mere conjecture, for history
gives it no countenance. Others have found out another comment, that
the Lord would punish them all together, since Judah had joined the
people of Israel in worshipping the calves: so they think that the
common superstition was the bond of alliance between the two
kingdoms. There are others who think that the Prophet alludes to the
two calves, one of which, as it is well known, was worshipped in
Dan, and the other at Bethel. But all these interpretations are too
refined and strained. The Prophet, I doubt not, does here simply
mention the two furrows, because the people, (as godless men are
wont to do,) relying on their own power, boldly and proudly despised
all threatening. "Howsoever," he says, "they may join themselves
together in two furrows, they shall yet effect nothing by their
pride to prevent me from executing my vengeance." Let us proceed -

Hosea 10:11
And Ephraim [is as] an heifer [that is] taught, [and] loveth to
tread out [the corn]; but I passed over upon her fair neck: I will
make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plow, [and] Jacob shall break his
clods.

    Some read the two words, "taught," and "loveth," separately,
"melumadah" and "'ohavti"; for they think that at the beginning of
the verse a reproach is conveyed, as though the Prophet had said,
that Ephraim was wholly unteachable: though God had from childhood
brought him up under his discipline, he yet now showed so great
stubbornness, that he even ceased not to rebel against God, and went
on obstinately in his own wickedness. "Ephraim then is like a
trained heifer." But this meaning seems too far fetched: I therefore
connect the whole together in one context, and follow what has been
more approved, Ephraim is a heifer trained to love, or, that she may
love, threshing; that is, Ephraim has been accustomed to love
threshing.
    There is here an implied comparison between ploughing and
threshing. There is more labour and toil, we know, in ploughing than
in threshing; for the oxen are coupled together, and then they are
compelled to obey, and in vain do they draw here and there, when
they are joined together. But when oxen thresh, they are loose, and
the labour is less toilsome and heavy. The Prophet then means this,
- that Ephraim pretended some obedience, and yet would not take the
yoke, so as to be really and in everything submissive to God. Other
nations did not understand what it was to obey God; but there was
some appearance of religion in Israel; they indeed professed to
worship the God of Israel, they had temples among them; but the Lord
derides this hypocrisy, and says, - Ephraim is like a heifer, which
will not submit her neck to the yoke, but will only, for
recreation's sake, pass through the threshing-floor and tread the
corn, as hypocrites are wont to do; for they do not wholly repudiate
every truth, but in part receive it; yet, when the Lord presses on
them too much, they then fiercely resist, and show that they wish to
do according to their own will. Almost the whole world exhibit,
indeed, some appearance of obedience, I know not what; but they wish
to make a compact with God, that he should not require more then
what their pleasure may allow. When one is a slave to many vices, he
desires a liberty for these to be allowed him; in other things, he
will yield some obedience. We now understand the meaning of the
Prophet, and see what he had in view. He then derides the
hypocritical service which the Israelites rendered to God; for they
were at the same time unwilling to bear the yoke, and were
untameable. To the threshing they were not unwilling to come; for
when God commanded anything that was easy, they either willingly
performed it, or at least discharged their duty somehow in that
particular; but they would not accustom themselves to slough.
    Since it was so, "I have passed over", he says, "upon her
beautiful neck". God shows why he treated Ephraim with severity; for
he was made to submit, because he was so obstinate. 'I have passed
over upon the goodness of her neck;' that is, "When I saw that she
had a fat neck, and that she refused the yoke, I tried, by
afflictions, whether such stubbornness could be subdued." Some refer
this to the teaching of the law, and say, that God had passed over
upon the beautiful neck of Israel, because he had delivered his law
in common to all the posterity of Abraham. But this is foreign to
the context. I therefore doubt not but that the mind of the Prophet
was this, - that God here declares, that it was not without reason
that he had been so severe in endeavouring to tame Israel, for he
saw that he could not be otherwise brought to obedience. "Since,
then, Ephraim only loved the treading, I wished to correct this
delusion, and ought not to have spared him. If he had been a wearied
ox, or an old one broken down and emaciated, and of no strength,
some consideration for him ought to have been had: but as Israel had
a thick and fat neck, as he was strong enough to bear the yoke, and
as he yet loved his own pleasures and refused the yoke, it was
needful that he should be tamed by afflictions. I have therefore
passed over upon the goodness, or the beauty, of the neck of
Ephraim."
    But as God effected nothing in mildly chastising Israel, he now
subjoins, - "I will make him to ride". Some render it, "I will
ride:" but as the verb is in Hiphel, (the causative mood,) it is
necessary to explain it thus, that God will make Israel to ride. But
what does this mean? They who render it, "I will ride," saw that
they departed from what grammar requires; but necessity forced them
to this strained interpretation. Others will have "al", one to be
understood, "I will make to ride on Ephraim," and they put in
another word, "I will make the nations to ride on Ephraim." But the
sentence will accord best with the context, if we make no change in
the words of the Prophet. Nay, they who adduce the comments I have
mentioned, destroy the elegance of the expression and pervert the
meaning. Thus, then, does God speak, - "Since Ephraim loves
treading, and the moderate punishments by which I meant to subdue
him avail nothing, I will hereafter deal with him in another way: I
will make him," he says, "to ride:" that is, "I will take him away,
as it were, through the clouds." The Prophet alludes to the
lasciviousness and intemperance of Israel; for lust had so carried
away that people, that they could not walk straight, or with a
steady step, but staggered here and there; as also Jeremiah says,
that they were unnameable bullocks, (Jer. 31: 18.) What does God
declare? 'I will make them to ride;' that is, I will deal with this
people according to their disposition. There is a similar passage in
Job, chap. 30; where the holy man complains that he was forcibly
snatched away, that God made him to ride on the clouds. 'God,' he
says, 'made me to ride,' (he uses there the same word.) What does it
mean? Even that the Lord had forcibly carried him here and there. So
also the Prophet says here, - "Israel is delicate, and, at the same
time, I see so much voluptuousness in his nature, that he cannot
take the yoke; nothing then remains for him but to ride on the
clouds. But what sort of riding will this be? Such as that, when the
people shall be carried away into exile; since they cannot rest
quietly in the land of Canaan, since they cannot enjoy the blessings
of God, they shall ride, that is, they shall quickly be taken away
into a far country." We now then see how God dealt with Israel, when
he saw what his disposition required; for he could not be
constrained to obedience in his own land; it was then necessary to
remove him elsewhere, as it was done.
    He afterwards subjoins, "Judah shall plough, Jacob shall harrow
for himself"; that is, the remaining portion of the people shall
remain in their afflictions. These punishments were indeed grievous,
when considered in themselves; but it was far easier and more
tolerable for Judah to plough and to harrow among his people, than
if he had to ride. Judah then suffered grievous losses, and the Lord
chastised him also with afflictions; but this punishment, as I have
said, was much less than the other. It was the same as when an ox,
drawn out of the stall, is led into the field, and is forced to
endure his daily labour; his toil is indeed heavy and grievous; but
the ox at least lives after his work, and refreshes himself by his
rest during the night. He also undergoes some toil by harrowing, and
grows weary; but he returns to the stall; and then his master is not
so cruel, but that he grants his ox some indulgence. We hence see
the purport of this comparison, that Judah shall plough, and that
Jacob, that is, the remaining part of the people, shall harrow;
which means, that the rest of the people shall break the clods, -
for to harrow among the Latins is to break the clods - but that the
Lord will make Ephraim to ride. This, I doubt not, is the genuine
sense of the passage; but I leave to others their own free
judgement. It now follows -

Hosea 10:12
Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your
fallow ground: for [it is] time to seek the LORD, till he come and
rain righteousness upon you.

    He exhorts here the Israelites to repentance; though it seems
not a simple and bare exhortation, but rather a protestation; as
though the Lord had said, that he had hitherto laboured in vain as
to the people of Israel, because they had ever continued obstinate.
For it immediately follows -

Hosea 10:13
Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten
the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the
multitude of thy mighty men.

    The reason is here found, why I thought that the Prophet did
not simply exhort the people, but rather charged them with obduracy
for not growing better, though often admonished. He then relates how
much God had previously done to restore the people to a sound mind;
for it had been his constant teaching, "Sow for yourselves
righteousness, reap, in proportion, kindness", or according to the
proportion of kindness; "plough a ploughing for yourselves; it is
the time to seek the Lord". Though then the people heard these words
daily, and had their ears almost stunned by them, they did not yet
change for the better, nor made themselves pliable; nay, as it were
with a fixed purpose, they ploughed, he says, ungodliness, they
reaped iniquity; they therefore did eat the fruit of falsehood, for
they sustained just punishments, or satiated themselves with
falsehood and treachery. We now apprehend the meaning of the
Prophet: I will come to particulars.
    "Sow for yourselves righteousness". He shows that the salvation
of this people had not been neglected by God; for he had tried
whether they were healable. The remedy was, that the people were to
know that God would be pacified towards them, if they devoted
themselves to righteousness. The Lord offered his favour: "Return
only to me; for as soon as the seed of righteousness shall be sown
by you, the harvest shall be prepared, a reward shall be laid up for
you; ye shall then reap fruit according to your kindness."
    But if any one asks, whether it be in the power of men to sow
righteousness, the answer is ready, and that is that the Prophet
explains not here how far the ability of men extends, but requires
what they ought to do. For whence is it that so many of God's curses
often overwhelm us, except that we sow seed similar to the produce?
that is, God repays us what we have deserved. This then is what the
Prophet shows, when he says, "Sow for yourselves righteousness:" he
shows that it was their fault, if the Lord did not cherish them
kindly and bountifully, and in a paternal manner; it was because
their impiety suffered him not.
    And the Prophet only speaks of the duties of the second table,
as also the Prophets do, when they exhort men to repentance: they
often begin with the second table of the law, because the
perverseness of men with regard to this is more palpable, and they
can thereby be more easily convicted.
    But what he afterwards subjoins, "niru nir", "plough the
ploughing", is not, I confess, in its proper place; but there is in
this nothing inconsistent: for after having exhorted them to plough,
he now adds, that they were like uncultivated and desert fields, so
that it was not right to sow the seed until they had been prepared.
The Prophet then ought, according to the order of nature, to have
begun with ploughing; but he simply said what he wished to convey,
that the Israelites received not the fruit they desired, because
they had only sown unrighteousness. If they now wished to be dealt
with more kindly, he shows the remedy, which is to sow
righteousness. If it was so, that they were already filled with
wickedness, he shows that they were like a field overgrown with
briers and thorns. When therefore a field has long remained
uncultivated, thorns and thistles and other noxious herbs grow
there, and a double ploughing will be necessary, and this double
labour is called Novation; and Jeremiah speaks of the same thing,
when he shows that the people had grown hardened in their
wickedness, and that they could not bear any fruit until the thorns
were torn up by the roots, and until they had been well cleansed
from the vices in which they had become fixed; and hence he says, -
'Plough again your fallow-ground,' (Jer. 4: 3.)
    "And it is the time for seeking Jehovah, until he come". Here
the Prophet offers a hope of pardon to the people, to encourage them
to repent: for we know that when men are called back to God, they
are torpid and even faint in their minds, until they are assured
that God will be propitious to them; and this is what we have
treated of more fully in another place. The Prophet now handles the
same truth, that it is the time for seeking the Lord. He indeed uses
the word "'ot", which means a seasonable time. It is then the time
for seeking the Lord; as though he said, "The way of salvation is
not yet closed against you; for the Lord invites you to himself, and
he is of his own self inclined to mercy." This is one thing. We are,
however, at the same time, taught that there ought to be no delay;
for such tardiness will cost them dear, if they despise so kind an
invitation of God, and go on in their own obstinacy. It is then the
time for seeking Jehovah; as Isaiah also says 'Seek the Lord while
he may be found, call on him while he is nigh: Behold, now is the
time of good-pleasure; behold, now is the day of salvation,' (Isa.
55: 6.) So also in this place, the Prophet testifies that God will
be easily entreated, if Israel returned to the right way; but that,
if they continued obstinately in their sins, this time would not be
perpetual; for the door would be shut, and the people would cry in
vain, after having neglected this seasonable invitation, and abused
the patience of God.
    "It is then the time", he says, "for seeking the Lord", until
he come. This last clause is a confirmation of the former; for the
Prophet here expressly declares that it would not be useless labour
for Israel to begin to seek God - 'He will come to you.' He at the
same time warns them not to be too hasty in their expectations; for
though God may receive us into favour, he does not yet immediately
deliver us from all punishments or evils. We must, then, patiently
wait until the fruit of reconciliation appears. We hence see that
both points are here wisely handled by the Prophet; for he would
have Israel to hasten with deep concern, and not to delay long the
time of repentance, and also to remain quiet, if God did not
immediately show himself propitious, and show tokens of his favour;
the Prophet wished, in this case, the people to be patient.
    "And rain righteousness upon you". The word "yarah" means
indeed "to teach," and also "to throw;" but as the word "moreh",
derived from this verbs as it is well known, means the rain, I could
not explain it here otherwise than "he will rain righteousness upon
you." What, indeed, could the teaching of righteousness mean? For
the Prophet alludes to the harvest; and the people might say, "Are
we sure of provision, if we seek God?" "Certainly," he says; "he
will come - he will come to you, and will rain righteousness, or the
fruit of righteousness, upon you." In short, the Prophet here shows,
that whenever God is sought sincerely and from the heart by sinners,
he comes forth to meet them, and shows himself kind and merciful.
But as he had spoken of ploughing and sowing, the fruit or the
harvest was now to be mentioned; that he might therefore hold forth
a promise that they who had sown righteousness would not lose their
expense and toil, he says, the Lord will rain upon you the fruit of
righteousness.
    Now follows the other verse, which, as I have said, completes
the passage, "Ye have ploughed ungodliness, iniquity have ye reaped:
ye have eaten the fruit of falsehood". The Prophet shows that the
people had in vain been daily admonished, and so kindly and sweetly
allured by the Lord; for they had not only slighted wholesome
warnings, but had, in their perverse wickedness, abandoned
themselves to a contrary course: "ye have ploughed", he says,
"impiety"; God has exhorted you to sow righteousness, - what have ye
sown? Impiety; and then ye have reaped iniquity. Some think that the
punishments which the people had to bear are pointed out here; as
though the Prophet had said, "God has returned to you such a produce
as was suitable to your sowing; ye are therefore satiated with
falsehood - that is, with your own false confidence." But he seems
rather to pursue the same strain of thought, and to say, that they
had ploughed impiety - that is, that they had been from the
beginning ungodly; and then, that they had reaped iniquity - that
is, that they had continued their wickedness to the very harvest,
and laid up their fruit as it were in a storehouse, that they might
satiate themselves with treachery. The Prophet, I think, speaks in
this sense; but let there be a free choice. I only show what seems
to me most suitable.
    For it follows then, "For thou hast trusted in thine own way,
in the multitude of thy valiant ones". Here the Prophet points out
the chief spring-head of all sins; for the Israelites, trusting in
their own counsels, gave no ear to the word of God: and then, being
fortified by their own strength, they dreaded not his judgements,
nor fled to his pledged protection to defend them. This pride is not
then named here by the Prophet without reason as the chief source of
all sins. For when one distrusts his own wisdom, or is afraid, being
conscious of his weakness, he can be easily subdued; but when pride
possesses man's minds so that he thinks himself wise, nothing will
then prevail with him, neither counsel nor instruction. It is the
same when any one greatly extols his own strength, and is inflated
with pride, he cannot be made tractable, were he admonished a
hundred times. The Prophet then defines here the falsehood, the
impiety, and the iniquity of which he had been speaking. For though
the people sinned in various ways, the fountain and root was in this
lie or falsehood, that they were wont to set up their own strength
in opposition to God, and thought themselves so endued with wisdom,
that they had no need of teachers. Since, then, the people were so
blinded with their own pride, the Prophet shows here that it was
this lie with which they had satiated themselves. It follows -

Hosea 10:14,15
Therefore shall a tumult arise among thy people, and all thy
fortresses shall be spoiled, as Shalman spoiled Betharbel in the day
of battle: the mother was dashed in pieces upon [her] children.
So shall Bethel do unto you because of your great wickedness: in a
morning shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off.
    
    The Prophet here denounces punishment, having before exposed to
view the sins of the people, and sufficiently proved them guilty,
who by subterfuges avoided judgement. He now adds, that God would be
a just avenger. "A tumult then shall arise among thy people". Thou
hast hitherto satiated thyself with falsehood; for hope in thine own
courage has inebriated thee, and also a false notion of wisdom; but
the Lord will suddenly stir up tumults among thy people; that is, a
tumult shall in one moment arise on every side. He intimates that
its progress would not be slow, but that the tumult would be each as
would confound things from one corner of the land to the other. "A
tumult" then, or perdition, "shall arise among thy people"; for the
word "sha'on" means perdition or destruction; but I prefer "tumult,"
as the verb, "k'am" seems to require. "Every one of thy fortresses,"
he says, "shall be demolished." He shows that whatever strength the
people had would be weak and wholly useless, when the Lord had begun
to raise a tumult; for this tumult would reduce to ruin all their
fortified cities.
    He then adds an instance, which some refer to Shalmanezar. He
only mentions Shaman; and Shalmanezar is indeed a compound name; but
it is not known whether the Prophet had put down here his name in
its simple form, Shaman: and then he mentions Betharbel, a city,
referred to in some parts of Scripture, which was, with respect to
Judea, beyond Jordan. If we receive this opinion, it seems that the
Prophet wished to revive the memory of a recent slaughter, "Ye know
what lately happened to you when Shalmanezar marched with so much
cruelty through your country, when he laid waste your villages and
towns and cities, and ye especially know how fierce the battle was
in Betharbel, when a carnage was made, when mothers were violently
thrown on their children, when the enemy spared neither sex nor age,
which in the worst wars is a most cruel thing." Such, then, may have
been the meaning of the Prophet. But others think that he relates a
history, which is nowhere else to be told. However this may be, it
appears that the Prophet spake of some slaughter which was in his
day well known. Then the report of it was common enough, whether it
was a slaughter made by Shalmanezar, or any other, of which there is
no express mention found. We no see the meaning of the Prophet; but
we cannot finish to-day.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that as we remain yet in our own wickedness,
though often warned and sweetly invited by thee, and as thou
prevailest not with us by thy daily instruction, - O grant, that we
may, in a spirit of meekness, at length turn to thy service, and
fight against the hardness and obstinacy of our flesh, till we
render ourselves submissive to thee, and not wait until thou puttest
forth thy hand against us, or at least so profit under thy
chastisements, as not to constrain thee to execute extreme vengeance
against us, but to repent without delay; and that we may indeed,
without hypocrisy, plough under thy yoke, and so enjoy thy special
blessings, that thou mayest show thyself to us not only as our Lord,
but also as our Father, full of mercy and kindness, through Christ
our Lord. Amen.
    
Lecture Twenty-ninth.

    We explained yesterday the 14th verse of chap. 10, in which the
Prophet denounced the vengeance of God on his people, such as they
had experienced either when the country was laid waste by the army
of Shalmanezar, or when some other slaughter was made. From the
words, we certainly learn that a battle had been fought in Arbel,
which was a town, as we have said, beyond Jordan. But the Prophet
shows also how much had been the atrocity of that battle, and how
grievous and dreadful would be that slaughter which he now threatens
to the people, by saying that even the mother had been violently
thrown upon her children. And the Prophet also shows that God's
vengeance would be just, because the Israelites had provoked God by
their superstitions.
    He then points out in the last verse the cause why the Lord
would deal so severely with his people; and his manner of speaking
ought to be observed. "So", he says, "shall Bethel do unto you". He
might have said, 'So will God do unto you;' but he more distinctly
shows that the evil, or the cause of the evil, was in themselves;
"Bethel", he says, "shall do this unto you". It is certain that the
war did not arise from Bethel; but as they had corrupted the worship
of God by worshipping the calf, the Prophet says, that the Assyrian
was not, properly speaking, the author of this slaughter, but that
it was to be imputed to that corruption which had arisen in Bethel.
Bethel then shall do this unto you.
    But he adds, "Because of wickedness - of your wickedness". Some
give this explanation, "Because of the wickedness of wickedness," by
which is expressed something extreme, as the genitive case is often
used by the Hebrews in the place of the superlative degree; but it
may be viewed as a simple repetition, "This shall be for wickedness
- your wickedness, and it shall be so, that ye may not be able to
transfer the blame to any other cause; for ye are yourselves the
authors of all the evils."
    He says, in the last place, "In a morning shall the king of
Israel be utterly cut off", or, by perishing shall perish. The
Prophet means by these words, that the Lord would so punish the
people of Israel, that it would appear plain enough, that it was not
done by man or by chance; for the Lord would suddenly overturn that
kingdom which had been so well fortified, which flourished so much
in wealth and power. Cut off then in a morning, or in one morning,
shall be the king of Israel. Some read, "as the morning," instead
of, "in a morning," "kashachar", "beshachar". 'The king of Israel
shall perish like the dawn;' for the dawn, we know, immediately
disappears when the sun rises: the sun brings with it the full day,
and then the dawn immediately passes away. But the other is the more
correct reading, as it has also been more commonly received, that
is, "In a morning, or in one morning, shall the king of Israel
perish;" as we say in French, Cela n'est que pour un desiuner. For
that proud people thought that no adversity could happen to them for
many years, as they had a blind confidence in their own strength.
The Prophet derides this madness, and says, that the slaughter would
be sudden, that the king would in a moment be destroyed, though he
thought himself well supplied with soldiers and all other defences.
Now follows -
    
    
Chapter 11.

Hosea 11:1
When Israel [was] a child, then I loved him, and called my son out
of Egypt.

    God here expostulates with the people of Israel for their
ingratitude. The obligation of the people was twofold; for God had
embraced them from the very first beginning, and when there was no
merit or worthiness in them. What else, indeed, was the condition of
the people when emancipated from their servile works in Egypt? They
doubtless seemed then like a man half-dead or a putrid carcass; for
they had no vigour remaining in them. The Lord then stretched forth
his hand to the people when in so hopeless a state, drew them out,
as it were, from the grave, and restored them from death into life.
But the people did not acknowledge this so wonderful a favour of
God, but soon after petulantly turned their back on him. What
baseness was this, and how shameful the wickedness, to make such a
return to the author of their life and salvation? The Prophet
therefore enhances the sin and baseness of the people by this
circumstance, that the Lord had loved them even from childhood;
"when yet", he says, "Israel was a child, I loved him". The nativity
of the people was their coming out of Egypt. The Lord had indeed
made his covenant with Abraham four hundred years before; and, as we
know, the patriarchs were also regarded by him as his children: but
God wished his Church to be, as it were, extinguished, when he
redeemed it. Hence the Scripture, when it speaks of the liberation
of the people, often refers to that favour of God in the same way as
of one born into the world. It is not therefore without reason that
the Prophet here reminds the people that they had been loved when in
childhood. The proof of this love was, that they had been brought
out of Egypt. Love had preceded, as the cause is always before the
effect.
    But the Prophet enlarges on the subject: "I loved Israel, even
while he was yet a child; I called him out of Egypt"; that is, "I
not only loved him when a child, but before he was born I began to
love him; for the liberation from Egypt was the nativity, and my
love preceded that. It then appears, that the people had been loved
by me, before they came forth to the light; for Egypt was like a
grave without any spark of life; and the condition this miserable
people was in was worse than thousand deaths. Then by calling my
people from Egypt, I sufficiently proved that my love was gratuitous
before they were born." The people were hence less excusable when
they returned such an unworthy recompense to God, since he had
previously bestowed his free favour upon them. We now understand the
meaning of the Prophet.
    But here arises a difficult question; for Matthew, in chap. 2,
accommodates this passage to the person of Christ. They who have not
been well versed in Scripture have confidently applied to Christ
this place; yet the context is opposed to this. Hence it has
happened, that scoffers have attempted to disturb the whole religion
of Christ, as though the Evangelist had misapplied the declaration
of the Prophet. They give a more suitable answer, who say that there
is in this case only a comparison: as when a passage from Jeremiah
is quoted in another place, when the cruelty of Herod is mentioned,
who raged against all the infants of his dominion, who were under
two years of age, 'Rachel, bewailing her children, would not receive
consolation, because they were not,' (Jer. 31: 15.) The Evangelist
says that this prophecy was fulfilled, (Matth. 2: 18.) But it is
certain that the object of Jeremiah was another; but nothing
prevents that that declaration should not be applied to what Matthew
relates. So they understand this place. But I think that Matthew had
more deeply considered the purpose of God in having Christ led into
Egypt, and in his return afterwards into Judea. In the first place,
it must be remembered that Christ cannot be separated from his
Church, as the body will be mutilated and imperfect without a head.
Whatever then happened formerly in the Church, ought at length to be
fulfilled by the head. This is one thing. Then also there is no
doubt, but that God in his wonderful providence intended that his
Son should come forth from Egypt, that he might be a redeemer to the
faithful; and thus he shows that a true, real, and perfect
deliverance was at length effected, when the promised Redeemer
appeared. It was then the full nativity of the Church, when Christ
came forth from Egypt to redeem his Church. So in my view that
comment is too frigid, which embraces the idea, that Matthew made
only a comparison. For it behaves us to consider this, that God,
when he formerly redeemed his people from Egypt, only showed by a
certain prelude the redemption which he deferred till the coming of
Christ. Hence, as the body was then brought forth from Egypt into
Judea, so at length the head also came forth from Egypt: and then
God fully showed him to be the true deliverer of his people. This
then is the meaning. Matthew therefore most fitly accommodates this
passage to Christ, that God loved his Son from his first childhood
and called him from Egypt. We know at the same time that Christ is
called the Son of God in a respect different from the people of
Israel; for adoption made the children of Abraham the children of
God, but Christ is by nature the only-begotten Son of God. But his
own dignity must remain to the head, that the body may continue in
its inferior state. There is then in this nothing inconsistent. But
as to the charge of ingratitude, that so great a favour of God was
not acknowledged, this cannot apply to the person of Christ, as we
well know; nor is it necessary in this respect to refer to him; for
we see from other places that every thing does not apply to Christ,
which is said of David, or of the high priest, or of the posterity
of David; though they were types of Christ. But there is ever a
great difference between the reality and its symbols. Let us now
proceed -

Hosea 11:2
[As] they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto
Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.

    The Prophet now repeats the ingratitude of the people in
neglecting to keep in mind their redemption. The word, "called," is
here to be taken in a different sense. For God effectually called,
as they say, the people, or his Son, from Egypt: he has again called
by the outward voice or teaching through his Prophets. Hence, when
he said before that he called his Son from Egypt, it ought to be
understood, as they say, of actual liberation: but now when he says,
"They have called them", it is to be understood of teaching. The
name of the Prophets is not expressed; but that they are intended is
plain. And the Prophet seems designedly to have said in an
indefinite manner, that the people had been called, that the
indignity might appear more evident, as they had been called so
often and by so many, and yet had refused. Hence "they have called
them". When he thus speaks, he is not to be understood as referring
to one or two men, or to a few, but as including a great number of
men, doing this everywhere. Even thus now have they called them;
that is, this people have been called, not once or twice, but
constantly; and God has not only sent one messenger or preacher to
call them, but there have been many Prophets, one after the other,
often thus employed, and yet without any benefit. We now perceive
what the Prophet meant.
    "They have called them", he says, "so they went away from their
presence". The particle so, "ken", is introduced here to enliven the
description; for the Prophet points out, as by the fingers how
wickedly they conspired to execute their own counsels, as if they
wished purposely to show in an open manner their contempt. "So they
went away"; when the Prophets called them to one course, they
proceeded in an opposite one. We then see, that to point out thus
their conduct was not superfluous, when he says, that they in this
manner went away: and then he says, "from their face". Here he shows
that the people sought hiding-places and shunned the light. We may
indeed conclude from these words, that so great was the perverseness
of the people, that they not only wished to be alienated from God,
but also that they would have nothing to do with the Prophets. It is
indeed a proof of extreme wickedness, when instruction itself is a
weariness, and ministers cannot be endured; and no doubt the Prophet
meant to set forth this sin of the people.
    He afterwards says, that they "sacrificed unto Baalim", and
burnt incense to graven images. In the former clause, he shows the
contumacy of the Israelites, that they deigned not to give ear to
God's servants. He now adds, that they made incense to graven images
and also offered worship to their idols. By Baalim, as it has been
already stated, the Prophet means the inferior gods. For no such
stupidity prevailed among the people as not to think that there is
some chief deity; nay, even profane Gentiles confessed that there is
some supreme God. But they called their advocates Baalim, as we see
to be the case at this day under the Papacy, this same office is
transferred to the dead; they are to procure for men the favour of
God. The Papists then have no grounds for seeking an evasion by
words; for the very same superstition prevails at this time among
them, as prevailed formerly among Gentiles and the people of Israel.
Here the Prophet enhances the wickedness of the people; for they not
only contemptuously neglected every instruction in religion, but
also openly perverted the whole worship of God, and abandoned
themselves to all abominations, so as to burn incense to their own
idols. Let us go on -

Hosea 11:3
I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they
knew not that I healed them.

    Here again God amplifies the sin of the people, by saying, that
by no kindness, even for a long time, could they be allured, or
turned, or reformed, or reduced to a sound mind. It was surely
enough that the people of Israeli who had been brought by the hand
of God from the grave to the light of life, should have repudiated
every instruction; it was a great and an atrocious sin; but now God
goes on farther, and says, that he had not ceased to show his love
to them, and yet had attained nothing by his perseverance; for the
wickedness and depravity of the people were incurable. Hence he
says, "I have led Ephraim on foot". Some are of opinion that it is a
nouns from "regel", foot, and it seems the most suitable. For
otherwise there will be a change of a letter, which grammarians do
not allow in the beginning of a word; for "tau", in this case would
be put instead of "he"; and put so as if it was of frequent
occurrence in Hebrew; but no such instance can be adduced. So they
who are skilful in the language think that for this reason it is a
noun, and with them I agree. They, however, who regard it as a verb,
give this view, - "I have led him on foot, "tirgalti"; that is, as a
child who cannot yet walk with a firm foot, is by degrees accustomed
to do so, and the nurse, or the father, or the mother, who lead him,
have a regard for his infancy; so also have I led Israel, as much as
his feet could bear. But the other version is less obscure, and that
is, "My walking on foot" was for him; that is, I humbled myself as
mothers are wont to do; and hence he says, that he had carried the
people on his shoulders; and we shall presently see the same
comparison used. And Moses says in Deut. chap. 32, that the people
had been carried on God's wings, or that God had expanded his wings
like the eagle who flies over her young ones. With regard to the
matter itself the meaning of the Prophet is not obscure; for he
means, that this people had been treated by God in a paternal and
indulgent manner; and also, that the perseverance of the Lord in
continuing to bestow his blessings on them had been without any
fruit.
    He afterwards adds, "To carry on his arms". Some render the
expression, "kacham", "He carried them," as if the verb were in the
past tense; and they consider the word, Moses, to be understood. But
it is God who speaks here. Some think it to be an infinitive - "To
carry," as when one carries another on his shoulders; and this seems
to be the most suitable exposition. There is in the sense no
ambiguity; for the design of the Prophet is what I have already
stated, which is to show that this people were most wicked in not
obeying God, since they had been so kindly treated by Him. For what
could they have expected more than what God had done for them? As he
also says by Isaiah, 'What, my vine, ought I to have done more than
what I have done?' So also in this place, "My walking has been on
foot with Ephraim"; and for this end, "to carry them", as when one
carries another in his arms. 'They yet,' he says, 'did not know that
I healed them;' that is, "Neither the beginning of my goodness, nor
its continued exercise, avails anything with them. When I brought
them forth from Egypt, I restored the dead to life; this kindness
has been blotted out. Again, in the desert I testified, in various
ways, that I was their best and most indulgent Father: I have in
this instance also lost all my labour." How so? "Because my favour
has been in no way acknowledged by this perverse and foolish
people." We now then see what the Prophet meant: and he continues
the same subject in the next verse.

Hosea 11:4
I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to
them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat
unto them.
    
    The Prophet states, first, that this people had not been
severely dealt with, as either slaves, or oxen, or asses, are wont
to be treated. He had said before, that the people of Israel were
like a heifer, which shakes off the yoke, and in wantonness loves
only the treading of cor. But though the perverseness of the people
was so great, yet God shows here that he had not used extreme
rigour: "I have drawn him", he says, "with human cords and lovely
bands". By the cords of man, he means humane government. "I have
not," he says, "treated you as slaves, but dealt with you as with
children; and I have not regarded you as cattle, I have not driven
you into a stall; but I have only drawn you with lovely bands." The
sum of the whole is, that the government which God had laid on the
people was a certain and singular token of his paternal favour, so
that the people could not complain of too much rigour, as if God had
considered their disposition, and had used a hard wedge (as the
common proverb is) for a hard knot; for if God had dealt thus with
the people, they could have objected, and said, that they had not
been kindly drawn by him, and that it was no wonder if they did not
obey, since they had been so roughly treated. "But there is no
ground for them," the Lord says, "to allege that I have used
severity: for I could not have dealt more kindly with them, I have
drawn them with human cords; I have not otherwise governed them than
as a father his own children; I have been bountiful towards them. I
indeed wished to do them good, and, as it was right, required
obedience from them. I have at the same time laid on them a yoke,
not servile, nor such as is wont to be laid on brute animals; but I
was content with paternal discipline." Since then such kindness had
no influence over them, is it not right to conclude that their
wickedness is irreclaimable and extreme?
    He then adds "I have been to them like those who raise up the
yoke upon the cheeks". "I have not laden you," he says, "with too
heavy burdens, as oxen and other beasts are wont to be burdened; but
I have raised up the yoke upon the cheeks. I have chosen rather to
bear the yoke myself, and to ease these ungodly and wicked men of
their burden." And God does not in vain allege this, for we know
that when he uses his power, and vindicates his authority, he does
this not to burden the people, as earthly kings are wont to do; but
he bears the burden which he lays on men. It is no wonder then that
he says now, that he had "lifted the yoke upon the cheeks" of his
people, like one who wishes not to burden his ox, but bears up the
yoke himself with his own hands, lest the ox should faint through
weariness.
    He afterwards adds, "And I have made them to eat in quietness,
or", "I have brought meat to them." Some think the verb "'owchil" to
be in the future tense, and that "'owchil" is put for "'e'echil";
that is, I will cause them to eat; and that the future is to be
resolved into the past: and it is certain that the word "'at" means
tranquil sometimes. Then it will be, "I have caused them quietly to
eat." But another exposition is more commonly received; as the word
"'at" is derived from "natah", to raise, it is the same as though
the Prophet had said, that meat had been brought to them.
    God then does here in various ways enhance the ingratitude and
wickedness of the people, because they had not acknowledged his
paternal kindness, when he had himself so kindly set forth his
favour before their eyes; "I have", he says, "extended meat to
them"; that is, "I have not thrown it on the ground, nor placed it
too high for them; they have not toiled in getting it; but I have,
as it were, brought it with mine own hand and set it before them,
that they might eat without any trouble." In short, God declares
that he had tried in every way to find out, whether there was any
meekness or docility in the people of Israel, and that he had ill
bestowed all his blessings; for this people were blind to favours so
kind, to such as clearly proved, that God had in every way showed
himself to be a Father. It follows -

Hosea 11:5
He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall
be his king, because they refused to return.

    Here the Prophet denounces a new punishment, that the people in
vain hoped that Egypt would be a place of refuge or an asylum to
them; for the Lord would draw them away to another quarter. For the
Israelites had cherished this hope, that if by any chance the
Assyrians should be too powerful for them, there would yet be a
suitable refuge for them in Egypt among their friends, with whom
they had made a treaty. Since, then, they promised themselves a
hospitable exile in Egypt, the Prophet here exposes their vain
confidence: "This their expectation," he says, "that they shall find
a way open to Egypt, shall disappoint the people: it is shut up," he
says, "They shall not return to the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian
shall be their king". By saying, that the Assyrian shall rule over
them, he means that the people would become exiles under the
Assyrians, which indeed happened. He then anticipates here all the
vain hopes by which the people deceived themselves, and by which
they hardened themselves against all the threatening of God. "There
is no reason for them," he says, "to look towards Egypt; for the
Lord will not allow them to go there; for he will draw them to
Assyria."
    He afterwards gives the reason, "Because they have been
unwilling", he says, "to return". This "return" is to be taken in
another sense: but there is here a striking similarity in the words.
They thought that there would be to them a free passage into Egypt;
and yet they had been unwilling to pass over unto God, when he had
so often called them. The Prophet therefore says that a return into
Egypt was now denied them, inasmuch as they had been unwilling to
return to God. The import of what is said is, that when men
perversely resist God, they in vain hope for any free movements
either to this or that quarter; for the Lord will hold them tied and
bound. As it is wont to be done to wild beasts, who, when they show
too much ferocity, are shut up in cages or bound with chains, or as
it is usually done to frantic men, who are bound with strong bands;
so also the Lord does with obstinate men; he binds them fast, so
that they cannot move a finger. This, then, is the meaning of the
Prophet.
    There is, at the same time, to be understood, an implied
comparison between the former bondage they endured in Egypt, and the
new bondage which awaited them. They had known of what sort was the
hospitality of Egypt, and yet so great a blindness possessed their
minds, that they wished to return there. Their fathers had been
kindly enough received; but their posterity were grievously
burdened; nay, they were not far from being entirely destroyed. What
madness was this, to wish of themselves to return to Egypt, when
they knew how great was the ferociousness and cruelty of the
Egyptians? But as I have said, something more grievous awaited them;
they were not worthy to return to Egypt. To return there would have
been indeed a dreadful calamity; but the Lord would not, however
open a way for them to go there; for he would force them to pass to
another country; yea, they were to be by force dragged away by their
conquerors into Assyria. The drift of the whole is, that though the
people had been cruelly treated in Egypt, there was now drawing nigh
a more grievous tyranny; for the Assyrians would double the
injuries, and the violence, and all kinds of wrongs and reproaches,
which had been exercised against this people.
    Some think that it was added for consolation, that God, though
greatly provoked by the people, was yet unwilling to lead them again
into Egypt, lest the former redemption should be made void; but that
a middle course was prepared by which he would chastise the
ungrateful and yet retain them as his peculiar possession. But I
have already shown what I mostly approve. At the same time,
whichever view is taken, we see how grievous and severe was the
denunciation of the Prophet.

Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that as thou hast deigned to choose us before
the foundations of the world were laid, and included us in thy free
adoption when we were the children of wrath and doomed to utter
ruin, and afterwards embraced us even from the womb, and hast at
length favoured us with a clearer proof of thy love, in calling us
by thy gospel into a union and communion with thy only-begotten Son,
- O grant, that we may not be unmindful of so many and so singular
benefits, but respond to thy holy calling, and labour to devote
ourselves wholly to thee, and labour, not for one day, but for the
whole time designed for us here, both to live and to die according
to thy good pleasure, so that we may glorify thee to the end,
through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Lecture Thirtieth.

Hosea 11:6
And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his
branches, and devour [them], because of their own counsels.
    
    As it was difficult to persuade proud people that the overthrow
was at hand, which Hosea had foretold, seeing, as they did, that
they were furnished with many defences, it is therefore now added,
that their fortified cities would not prevent the enemy to break
through, and to devastate the whole country, and to lead away the
people captive. We now understand how this verse is connected with
the last. The Prophet had threatened exile; but as the Israelites
thought themselves safe in their nests, he adds, that there was no
reason for them to trust in their fortresses, for the Lord could by
the sword destroy all their cities.
    He therefore says, "The sword shall fall" on their cities. The
verb "chul" means to abide, and to encamp, and sometimes to fall or
rush upon: and this second sense is more suitable to this place.
Some, however, render it, The sword shall "abide" on the cities
until it consume them. But as to the meaning, there is not much
difference. I will, however, briefly state what I deem the right
view. "The sword then shall fall", or rush, "upon his cities"; and
further, "it shall consume his bars". The Hebrews often call bars or
bolts "badim", still oftener, branches, or members, - the branches
of a tree, or the members of man. Hence some take the word
metaphorically, as meaning towns and villages; for they are, as it
were, the branches or members of cities. Others, however, explain it
as signifying sons, who grow from their parents as branches from the
tree: but this seems too far-fetched. I do not disapprove of the
opinion, that the Prophet refers here to towns and villages, which
are, as it were, the appendages of cities, as branches spread out
here and there from the tree. The sense then is not amiss, that the
sword will consume and devour towns and villages, when it shall fall
on the cities. But what I have already said of bolts seems more
suitable to the design of the Prophet. We must at the same time
consider the word "badim" as including a part for the whole; for
bolts were only a part of the fortifications; but the gates, being
closed and fastened, render the cities strong. So this place, by
taking a part for the whole, may be thus expounded, that the sword,
when it fell on cities, would consume and destroy whatever strength
and defence they possessed.
    He at the same time mentions the cause, "Because", he says, "of
their own counsels". No doubt, he added this expression, because the
Israelites thought themselves wise; for ungodly men arrogate to
themselves much prudence; and this they do, that they may, as it
were, from their height look down on God, and laugh at every
instruction. Since then they who despise God seem to themselves to
be very wise, and to be fortified by their good counsels, the
Prophet shows that the cause of ruin to the Israelites would be,
that they were swollen with this diabolical prudence, and would not
condescend to obey the word of the Lord.

Hosea 11:7
And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called
them to the most High, none at all would exalt [him].

    This verse is variously rendered. Some explain the word
"telu'im" as signifying "perplexed;" as though the Prophet had said,
that the people would suffer a just punishment through being anxious
and looking around them, and yet finding no comfort; for this would
be the reward of their defection or apostasy. Hence he says, "My
people are in suspense"; that is, there is no wonder that the
Israelites are now tormented with great anxiety, and find no end to
their evils; for they who have rebelled against the Lord are worthy
of being thus bound fast by him. It is the fruit of their defection
that they are now so full of sorrow, and also of despair. This is
one exposition. Others say that God here complains of the wickedness
of the people, as of those who deliberated whether they ought to
repent. They then take suspense for doubt, "My people are in
suspense"; that is, they debate on the subject as on a doubtful
matter, when I exhort them to repent, and they cannot at once decide
what to do, but alternate between divers opinions, and now incline
to one thing and then to another; as if truly the subject itself
made it necessary for them to deliberate. Doubtless what is right is
in no way hid from them: but as they are unwilling, they seek for
themselves, by evasions, some excuses for doubting; for the Prophets
cry to them, and no one extols them. This is the second exposition.
    It must at the same time be observed, that the word "meshuvat"
is variously taken; for the first render it, "turning away," and the
"job" that is affixed must then be expounded passively, and must
mean their turning away from God, because the Israelites had fallen
away from him; as in Isaiah, chap. 56, he calls that the house of
his prayer in which the people were wont to pray. Then the turning
away from God, according to them, is to be taken passively, because
the people were alienated from him. Others render it, "conversion."
But the Hebrew doctors will have this word to be ever taken in a bad
sense, and affirm that there is no place where it signifies any
thing but rebellion or apostasy. Since it is so, I am inclined to
consider it to be turning away; and thus the second sense, that the
people deliberated whether they ought to hear the admonitions of the
Prophets, will not stand.
    The Prophet also seems to me to mean what is different from
what I have referred to in the first place, as the opinion of those
who say, "My people are in suspense"; that is, they anxiously
torment themselves on account of their defection, because I punish
them for their apostasy; through which it has happened, that,
forsaking me, they have wandered after their own inventions. But I
take the passage otherwise, as I have already said, "My people are
fastened"; that is, my people have not only once departed from me,
but they are, as it were, fastened in their defection. He says, that
they were fastened, not that they were sorrowful and endured great
tortures, and found their affairs perplexed; but that they were
fastened, because they remained obstinate; as when one says, that a
man is fastened to a thing, when he cannot be moved. This being
fastened, is indeed nothing else but the obstinacy of the people.
They were then fastened to defection.
    He afterwards adds, "To him on high they call them; none at all
rises up". What an indefinite sentence signifies we stated
yesterday. The Prophet means that instruction had been given the
people, and that many witnesses or preachers had been sent by the
Lord, but that all this had been wholly useless. Hence he says,
"They call them to him on high, no one raises up himself". Some
indeed consider the word, God, to be understood; and this is the
commonly received opinion; but in my judgement they are mistaken;
for the Prophet, speaking of the Israelites, doubtless means that
they remained in the same state, and were not moved by any
instruction to make any progress, or to show any sign of repentance.
Hence, "no one rises up". He uses the singular number, and puts down
the particle "yachad" as though he said, "There is no one, from the
first to the last, who is touched with grief, for they continue
obstinate in their wickedness." And when he says, "No one raises up
himself", he seems to allude to the word, fastened. They are then
fastened to their defection; and when the Prophets cry and
diligently exhort them to repent, they do not rise up; that is, they
do not aspire to God; and this indeed they neglect with one consent,
as if they all alike blindly united in one and the same wickedness.
    In this verse then the Prophet brings again to view the sins of
the people, that it might more fully appear that God threatened them
so dreadfully not without a cause; for they who were so perversely
rebellious against God were worthy of the most grievous punishment.
This is the sum of the whole. Let us now proceed -

Hosea 11:8,9
How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? [how] shall I deliver thee,
Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? [how] shall I set thee as
Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled
together.
I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return
to destroy Ephraim: for I [am] God, and not man; the Holy One in the
midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city.

    Here God consults what he would do with the people: and first,
indeed, he shows that it was his purpose to execute vengeance, such
as the Israelites deserved, even wholly to destroy them: but yet he
assumes the character of one deliberating, that none might think
that he hastily fell into anger, or that, being soon excited by
excessive fury, he devoted to ruin those who had lightly sinned, or
were guilty of no great crimes. That no one then might assign to God
an anger too fervid, he says here, "How shall I set thee aside,
Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee up, Israel? How shall I set thee
as Sodom?" By these expressions God shows what the Israelites
deserved, and that he was now inclined to inflict the punishment of
which they were worthy and yet not without repentance, or at least
not without hesitation. He afterwards adds in the next clause, "This
I will not do; my heart is within me changed"; I now alter my
purpose, "and my repenting are brought back again"; that is it was
in my mind to destroy you all, but now a repenting, which reverses
that design, lays hold on me. We now apprehend what the Prophet
means.
    As to this mode of speaking, it appears indeed at the first
glance to be strange that God should make himself like mortals in
changing his purposes and in exhibiting himself as wavering. God, we
know, is subject to no passions; and we know that no change takes
place in him. What then do these expressions mean, by which he
appears to be changeable? Doubtless he accommodates himself to our
ignorances whenever he puts on a character foreign to himself. And
this consideration exposes the folly as well as the impiety of those
who bring forward single words to show that God is, as it were like
mortals; as those unreasonable men do who at this day seek to
overturn the eternal providence of God, and to blot out that
election by which he makes a difference between men. "O!" they say,
"God is sincere, and he has said that he willeth not the death of a
sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live." God must
then in this case remain as it were uncertain, and depend on the
free-will of every one: it is hence in the power of man either to
procure destruction to himself, or to come to salvation. God must in
the meantime wait quietly as to what men will do, and can determine
nothing except through their free-will. While these insane men thus
trifle, they think themselves to be supported by this invincible
reason, that God's will is one and simple. But if the will of God be
one, it does not hence follow that he does not accommodate himself
to men, and put on a character foreign to himself, as much as a
regard for our salvation will bear or require. So it is in this
place. God does not in vain introduce himself as being uncertain;
for we hence learn that he is not carried away too suddenly to
inflict punishment, even when men in various ways provoke his
vengeance. This then is what God shows by this mode of speaking. At
the same time, we know that what he will do is certain, and that his
decree depends not on the free-will of men; for he is not ignorant
of what we shall do. God then does not deliberate as to himself, but
with reference to men. This is one thing.
    But we must also bear in mind what I have already said, that
the Prophet here strikes with terror proud and profane despisers by
setting before their eyes their own destruction, and by showing how
little short they were of the lot of Gomorra and other cities. "For
what remains," the Lord says, "but that I should set you as Sodom
and Zeboim? This condition and this recompense awaits you, if I
execute the judgement which has been already as it were decreed."
Not that God would immediately do this; but he only reminds the
Israelites of what they deserved, and of what would happen to them,
except the Lord dealt mercifully with them. Thus much of the first
part of the verse.
    But when he says that his "heart was changed", and that his
"repentings were brought back again", the same mode of speaking
after the manner of men is adopted; for we know that these feelings
belong not to God; he cannot be touched with repentance, and his
heart cannot undergo changes. To imagine such a thing would be
impiety. But the design is to show, that if he dealt with the people
of Israel as they deserved, they would now be made like Sodom and
Gomorra. But as God was merciful, and embraced his people with
paternal affection, he could not forget that he was a Father, but
would be willing to grant pardon; as is the case with a father, who,
on seeing his son's wicked disposition, suddenly feels a strong
displeasure, and then, being seized with relenting, is inclined to
spare him. God then declares that he would thus deal with his
people.
    Then follows an explanation of this sentence, "I will not
execute the fury of my wrath": by which figurative mode of speaking
he sets forth the punishment which was suitable to the sins of men.
For it must ever be remembered, that God is exempt from every
passion. But if no anger is to be supposed by us to be in God, what
does he mean by the fury of his wrath? Even the relation between his
nature and our innate or natural sins. But why does Scripture say
that God is angry? Even because we imagine him to be so according to
the perception of the flesh; for we do not apprehend God's
indignation, except as far as our sins provoke him to anger, and
kindle his vengeance against us. Then God, with regard to our
perception, calls the fury of his wrath the heavy judgement, which
is equal to, or meet for, our sins. I will not execute, he says,
that is, "I will not repay the reward which you have deserved."
    What then? "I will not return to destroy Ephraim". The verb
"'ashuv" seems to have been introduced for this reason, because God
had in part laid waste the kingdom of Israel: he therefore says,
that the second overthrow, which he would presently bring, would not
be such as would destroy the whole of Israel, or wholly consume
them. "I will not then return to destroy Ephraim"; that is, "Though
I shall again gird myself to punish the sins of the people, I shall
yet restrain myself so that my vengeance shall not proceed to the
destruction of the whole people." The reason is subjoined, "For I am
God, and not man".
    As he intended in this place to leave to the godly some hope of
salvation, he adds what may confirm this hope; for we know that when
God denounces wrath, with what difficulty trembling consciences are
restored to hope. Ungodly men laugh to scorn all threatening; but
those in whom there is any seed of piety dread the vengeance of God,
and whenever terror seizes them, they are tormented with marvellous
disquietude, and cannot be easily pacified. This then is the reason
why the Prophet now confirms the doctrine which he had laid down: "I
am God", he says, "and not man"; as though he had said, that he
would be propitious to his people, for he was not implacable as men
are; and they are very wrong who judge of him, or measure him, by
men.
    We must here first remember, that the Prophet directs not his
discourse promiscuously to all the Israelites, but only to the
faithful, who were a remnant among that corrupt people. For God, at
no time, suffered all the children of Abraham to become alienated,
but some few at least remained, as it is said in another place, (1
Kings 19: 18.) These the Prophet now addresses; and to administer
consolation, he moderates what he had said before of the dreadful
vengeance of God. This saying then was not to relieve the sorrow of
hypocrites; for the Prophet regarded only the miserable, who had
been so smitten with the feeling of God's wrath, that despair would
have almost swallowed them up, had not their grief been mitigated.
This is one thing. But further, when he says that he is God, and not
man, this truth ought to come to our minds, that we may taste of
God's gratuitous promises, whenever we vacillate as to his promises,
or whenever terror possesses our minds. What! Do you doubt when you
have to do with God? But whence is it, that we with so much
difficulty rely on the promises of God, except that we imagine him
to be like ourselves? Inasmuch then, as it is our habit thus to
transforms him, let this truth be a remedy to this fault; and
whenever God promises pardon to us, from which proceeds the hope of
salvation, how much soever he may have previously terrified us by
his judgements, let this come to our mind, that as he is God, he is
not to be judged of by what we are. We ought then to recumb simply
on his promises. "But then we are unworthy to be pardoned; besides,
so great is the atrocity of our sins, that there can be no hope of
reconciliation." Here we must take instant hold on this shield, we
must learn to fortify ourselves with this declaration of the
Prophet, "He is God, and not man": let this shield be ever taken to
repel every kind of diffidence.
    But here a question may be raised, "Was He not God, when he
destroyed Sodom and the neighbouring cities?" That judgement did not
take away from the Lord his glory, nor was his majesty thereby
diminished. But these two sentences are to be read together; "I am
God, and not man, holy in the midst of thee". When any one reads
these sentences apart, he does wrong to the meaning of the Prophet.
God, then, does not only affirm here that he is not like men, but he
also adds, that he is holy in the midst of Israel. It is one view of
God's nature that is here given us, and what is set forth is the
immense distance between him and men, as we find it written by
Isaiah the Prophet, 'My thoughts are not as yours: as much as the
heaven is distant from the earth, so distant are my thoughts from
your thoughts,' (Isa. 55: 8.) So also in this place, the Prophet
shows what God is, and how much his nature differs from the
dispositions of men. He afterwards refers to the covenant which God
made with his people: and what was the purport of that covenant?
Even that God would punish his people; yet so as ever to leave some
seed remaining. 'I will chastise them,' he says, 'with the rod of
men; I will not yet take away from them my mercy,' (2 Sam. 7: 14.)
Since God then had promised some mitigation or some alleviation in
all his punishments, he now reminds us, that he will not have his
Church wholly demolished in the world, for he would thus be
inconsistent with himself: hence he says, "I am God, and not man,
holy in the midst of thee; and since I have chosen thee to myself to
be my peculiar possession and inheritance, and promised also to be
for ever thy God, I will now moderate my vengeance, so that some
Church may ever remain."
    For this reason he also says "I will not enter into the city".
Some say, "I will not enter another city but Jerusalem." But this
does not suit the passage; for the Prophet speaks here of the ten
tribes and not of the tribe of Judah. Others imagine an opposite
meaning, "I will not enter the city," as though he said, that he
would indeed act kindly towards the people in not wholly destroying
them; but that they should hereafter be without civil order, regular
government, and other tokens of God's favour: 'I will not enter the
city;' that is, "I will not restore you, so that there may be a city
and a kingdom, and an united body of people." But this exposition is
too forced; nay, it is a mere refinement, which of itself vanishes.
There is no doubt but that the similitude is taken from a warlike
practice. For when a conqueror enters a city with an armed force,
slaughter is not restrained but blood is indiscriminately shed. But
when a city surrenders, the conqueror indeed may enter, yet not with
a sudden and violent attack, but on certain conditions; and then he
waits, it may be for two days, or for some time, that the rage of
his soldiers may be allayed. Then he comes, not as to enemies, but
as to his own subjects. This is what the Prophet means when he says,
'I will not enter the city;' that is, "I will make war on you and
subdue your and force you to surrenders and that with great loss;
but when the gates shall be opened, and the wall demolished, I will
then restrain myself, for I am unwilling wholly to destroy you."
    If one objects and says, that this statement militates against
many others which we have observed, the answer is easy, and the
solution has already been adduced in another place, and I shall now
only touch on it briefly. When God distinctly denounces ruin on the
people, the body of the people is had in view; and in this body
there was then no integrity. Inasmuch, then, as all the Israelites
had become corrupt, had departed from the worship and fear of God,
and from all piety and righteousness, and had abandoned themselves
to all kinds of wickedness, the Prophet declares that they were to
perish without any exception. But when he confines the vengeance of
God, or moderates it, he has respect to a very small number; for, as
it has been already stated, corruption had never so prevailed among
the people, but that some seed remained. Hence, when the Prophet has
in view the elect of God, he applies then these consolations, by
which he mitigates their terror, that they might understand that
God, even in his extreme rigour, would be propitious to them. Such
is the way to account for this passage. With regard to the body of
the people, the Prophet has already shown, that their cities were
devoted to the fire, and that the whole nation was doomed to suffer
the wrath of God; that every thing was given up to the fire and the
sword. But now he says, "I will not enter;" that is, with regard to
those whom the Lord intended to spare. And it must also be observed,
that punishment was mitigated, not only with regard to the elect,
but also with regard to the reprobate, who were led into captivity.
We must yet remember, that when God spared them for a time, he
chiefly consulted the good of his elect; for the temporary
suspension of vengeance increased his judgement on the reprobate;
for whosoever repented not in exile doubled, as it is evident, the
wrath of God against themselves. The Lord, however, spared his
people for a time; for among them was included his Church, in the
same way as the wheat is preserved in the chaff, and is carried from
the field with the straw. Why so? Even that the wheat may be
separated. So also the Lord preserves much chaff with the wheat; but
he will afterwards, in due time, divide the wheat from the chaff. We
now understand the whole meaning of the Prophet, and also the
application of his doctrine. It follows -

Hosea 11:10,11
They shall walk after the LORD: he shall roar like a lion: when he
shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west.
They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the
land of Assyria: and I will place them in their houses, saith the
LORD.
    
    When the Prophet says, that "they shall walk after Jehovah", he
proceeds farther than before; for here he refers not to the
mitigation of punishment, but promises restoration. He had said
before, that though the Lord would deal severely with his people,
there would yet be some moderation in his wrath, so that he would
not destroy the whole people. Now, it follows, that God, after
having thus restrained himself, will extend his favour even to the
restoration of the people, and bring to life those who seemed to
have been dead. We now then perceive what the Prophet means.
    But to expound this, - "they shall walk after Jehovah", of the
obedience of the people, as it is done by interpreters, does not
seem right to me. It is indeed certain that no people can be
restored except they repent; yea, it is the main beginning of God's
favour, when he chastises men and heals them of their wickedness.
But here the Prophet handles another thing, even that the Lord will
show himself a leader to his people, who had been for a time
dispersed. As long as the people were scattered in Assyria and in
other distant lands, they were without any head, as a mutilated
body. But when the ripened time of restoration came, the Lord
revolved to deliver them, and proclaimed himself the leader of his
people; and in this manner the people were gathered to God. This is
what the Prophet now means when he says, "after Jehovah": that is,
for a time, indeed, God will forsake them, that they may languish in
their dispersion; but at length he will gather them, and show
himself as their leader in their journey, that he may restore them
to their country. "They shall" then, he says, "follow Jehovah, and
he shall roar as a lion: when he shall roar, then children from the
sea shall tremble"; that is, God will be formidable to enemies so
that none will hinder the return of his people. Many, indeed, will
be the enemies, many will labour to set up opposition: but the
people shall nevertheless come forth free. How so? For the Lord will
fill all with dread, and restrain all the efforts of their enemies;
so that they shall be constrained to withdraw from the Assyrians, as
well as from the Egyptians. Though, on one side, the Egyptians may
resist, and, on the other, the Assyrians, they shall not yet impede
the return of the people. Why? Because the Lord will put them to
flight, and he will be to them as a lions and fill them all with
terror. But the rest we shall defer.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that since we are too secure and torpid in our
sins, thy dread majesty may come to our minds, to humble us, and to
remove our fear, that we may learn anxiously to seek reconciliation
through Christ, and so abhor ourselves for our sins, that thou
mayest then be prepared to receive us: and that unbelief may not
shut the door against us, enable us to regard thee to be such as
thou hast revealed thyself, and to acknowledge that thou art not
like us, but the fountain of all mercy, that we may thus be led to
entertain a firm hope of salvation, and that, relying on the
Mediator, thy only-begotten Son, we may know him as the throne of
grace, full of compassion and mercy. O grant, that we may thus come
to thee, that through him we may certainly know that thou art our
Father, so that the covenant thou hast made with us may never fail
through our fault, even this, that we are thy people, because thou
hast once adopted us in thy only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus
Christ. Amen.


Lecture Thirty-first.

    In the last lecture, we began to explain what the Prophet means
by saying, that "the Israelites shall come after the Lord": that is,
that when the time of the exile shall be completed, God will be the
leader of his people in their journey, that they might return safe
to their country. And for this reason, he also subjoins, that the
Egyptians as well as the Assyrians would be timid; and hence he
compares them to doves and sparrows, or birds; for when the nations
should attempt to hinder the return of the people, and strive
against them with great forces and great efforts, God would break
down their courage. For as God had determined to redeem his people,
his decree could not have been nullified, no, not by the whole
world. Whatever then, the Assyrians, and also the Egyptians, might
attempt to do, though powerful in forces, it would yet avail
nothing; nay, God would strike into both such fear and dread, that
they should not make any stir when the Lord restored his people.
There is a similar mode of speaking in Joel, chap. 3, except that he
does not introduce the similitudes that they would be like birds and
doves. But he speaks of the roaring of God, as though he said, that
the power of God would be terrible and invincible, so that he would
defend and protect his people, and no one would dare to rise up
against him; and that if one should dare, he would be constrained
instantly to succumb. Let us now proceed -

Hosea 11:12
Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with
deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the
saints.

    I shall not stay now to recite the opinions of others; nor does
it seem necessary. I might have indeed referred in the last verse to
what some say respecting the roaring of God, - that his voice will
roar through the Gospel: but as this and the like are refinements of
which I think the Prophet never thought, it is enough to understand
the simple meaning of the Prophet, and not to accumulate the
sentiments of others. I indeed know that this makes a great display,
and there are some who are delighted with a mass of opinions; but I
regard what is more useful.
    I come now to the last verse, in which the Lord complains,
"that he had been compassed with the falsehood and fraud of the
people". By these words he means that he had in every thing found
the multiplied perfidy of the Israelites; for this is the import of
the word, "compassed". We now then perceive that the Prophet means
that the Israelites, not only in one way, or in one thing, acted
unfaithfully towards God, and used frauds: but that it was the same,
as when one besieges an enemy with a great army; so that they were
thus full of innumerable frauds, with which on every side they
surrounded God. And this is what hypocrites are wont to do; for not
only in one thing do they endeavour to deceive God, but they
transform themselves in various ways, and ever seek some new
subterfuges. When they are caught in one sin, they pass into
another; so that there is no end to their deceit. This subject the
Prophet now takes up, that is, that the Israelites never ceased to
act deceitfully towards God.
    And he speaks of frauds and falsehood; for they thought that
they escaped, provided they covered themselves with some disguise
whenever the Prophets reproved them. But God here testifies, that
they gained nothing by their craftiness, as though he said, "Ye
think indeed that your coverings will avail with me, but they are
vain. I indeed see myself as it were encompassed by your falsehoods,
for on every side ye attempt to cover your sins; but they are false
coverings." In short, the Prophet reprobates those specious excuses,
by which people think that they are absolved before God, so as to
elude through this confidence all the threatening and reproofs of
the Prophets. "I see," the Lord says, "what the Israelites bring
forward for themselves; but they are only falsehoods and frauds."
This passage then teaches, that men in vain make excuses before God;
for when they contrive pretences to deceive God, they are themselves
greatly deceived; for he clearly perceives their guiles and
falsehoods.
    He afterwards subjoins, that "Judah still ruled", or, "held
sovereignty, with God, and was faithful with the saints". By saying
that he held sovereignty with God, he declares, I doubt not, that
the kingdom of Judah was legitimate, because it was connected with a
pure and lawful priesthood. For whence did arise the corruptions in
the other kingdom, but because the people had revolted from the
family of David? Hence it was that the new king changed both the law
and the worship of God, and erected new temples. Israel then did not
rule with God, for the kingdom was spurious, and the beginning of
the dispersion, so that the people forsook God. But of Judah the
Prophet speaks much otherwise, that "he still ruled with God",
because the posterity of David, though we know that they laboured
under many vices, had not yet changed the worship prescribed by the
law, except that Ahab had erected an altar like one at Damascus, as
the sacred history relates, (2 Kings 16: 12;) but yet pure religion
always prevailed at Jerusalem. But the Prophet speaks comparatively,
as it will be presently seen: for he does not wholly excuse the
Jews, but says that in comparison with Israel they yet ruled with
God; for the kingdom and the priesthood, as we have said, were
joined together in Judah, and both had been divinely instituted.
    He says further, that he "was faithful with the saints". By
saints some understand God. The word "kedoshim", we know, is plurals
and sometimes an epithet of the singular number is joined to it,
though not often. In the last chapter of Joshua we have these words,
"kedoshim hu", holy is he. But as I have said, these examples are
rare. And here I know not whether or not the Prophet means God. I
would rather refer this word to the holy fathers or to the whole
Church; so that the Prophet calls here "kedushim", saints, Abraham
and others who justly deserved to be counted among the children of
God; and I am inclined to include the angels. But of the sanctuary
we do not find this word anywhere used; when the Scripture refers to
the sanctuary, the letter "mem" is added. He uses indeed the plural
number, though one may suppose that both the sanctuary and its
worship are here intended. But as this application would be
strained, and without example, I am satisfied with this plain
meaning - that Judah was "faithful with the saints"; that is, that
he retained faith in God together with the fathers, and departed not
from the pure worship which had been delivered to him, according to
which God had made his covenant with Abraham and his seed.
    But the Prophet here praises the tribe of Judah, not because he
wished to flatter them; but, as it has been stated in a former
place, he had regard to the office deputed to him. When we at this
day cry against our domestic evils, when we say that things are
better ordered elsewhere, under what supposition is this done? We
take it as granted, that others have their own teachers by whom they
are reproved and if there be any vices prevailing, there are those
who are to apply the remedy. This consideration then ought often to
be remembered by us, that we may, by way of reproach, bring forward
the conduct of others, when we wish deeply to wound those, the care
of whom has been committed to us by God. Even so our Prophet did: at
the same time, those who then taught at Jerusalem did not spare the
Jews; they cried boldly and vehemently against their vices. But
Hosea, as we have said, does here attend to his own vocation; and
hence he exposes the sin of the ten tribes in having departed from
the legitimate worship of God, when they had at the same time a
well-known and memorable example in the tribe of Judah, who had
continued in obedience to the law. This is the meaning. Let us now
go on -
    
    
Chapter 12.

Hosea 12:1
Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily
increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the
Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt.

    The Prophet here inveighs against the vain hopes of the people,
for they were inflated with such arrogance, that they despised all
instruction and all admonitions. It was therefore necessary, in the
first place, to correct this vice, and hence he says, "Ephraim feeds
on wind". For when one gulps the wind, he seems indeed to fill his
mouth, and his throat, and his chest, and his whole stomach; but
there is nothing but air, no nourishment. So he says that Israel
entertained indeed much confidence in their crafty ways, but it was
to feed only on the wind. They dreamt that they were happy, when
they secured confederacies, when they had both the Assyrians and the
Egyptians as their associates. They are only blasts, says the
Prophet; nay, he says, they are noxious blasts; for by the "east" he
understands the east wind, which blows from the rising of the sun;
and this, as they say, is in Judea a dry and often a stormy wind.
Other winds either bring rain or some other advantage: but this wind
brings nothing but drought and storms. It hence then appears that
the Prophet meant that Israel, through this their vain confidence,
procured for themselves many sorrows and ever remained void and
empty. "Ephraim then feeds on the wind", and further, "he follows
after the east wind".
    Hosea explains afterwards his mind more clearly, "He daily
multiplies falsehood and desolation", he says. By falsehood he
glances, I have no doubt, at the impostures by which the people
deceived themselves, as hypocrites do, who, by sharpening their wits
to deceive God, involve themselves in many fatal snares. So also is
Israel said to have multiplied falsehood; for they made themselves
so obstinate, as to become quite hardened against God's teaching;
and this obstinacy is called falsehood for this reason, for
unbelieving men, as we see, fabricate for themselves many excuses;
and though they be impostures, they yet think themselves safe
against all the threatening of God, provided they set up, I know not
what, something which they think will be sufficiently available.
Hence the Prophet repeats again, that there was nothing but
falsehood in all their crafty decrees.
    He then presses the point still more, and says, that it was
"desolation", that is, the cause of desolation. He then first
derides the vain confidence of the people, because they thought that
they could blind the eyes of God by their vain disguises; "This is
falsehood," he says "this is imposture." Then he presses them more
heavily and says "This is your perdition: you shall at last
perceive, that you have gained nothing by your counsels but
destruction."
    How so? Because they made a "covenant". I take this latter
clause as explanatory: for if the Prophet had only spoken generally,
the impiety of the people would not have been sufficiently exposed;
and the masks of secure men must be torn away, and their crimes, as
it were, painted, that they may be ashamed; for except they are
drawn forth as it were before the public, and their turpitude
exposed to the view of all, they will ever hide themselves in their
secret places. This then is the reason why the Prophet here
specifically points out their frauds, which he had before mentioned.
"Behold", he says, "they made a covenant with the Assyrian, and
carry their oil into Egypt"; that is, they hunt for the friendship
of the Assyrian on one side, and on the other they conciliate with
great importunity the Egyptians; nay, they spare not their own
goods, for they carry presents in order to gain them. We now then
understand how Israel had multiplied falsehood and desolation; for
they implicated themselves in illicit compacts. But why it was
unlawful for them to fly to the Assyrians and Egyptians, we have
explained elsewhere, nor is it needful here to repeat at large what
has been said: God wished the people to be under his protection; and
when God promised to be the defender of their safety, they ought to
have been satisfied with his protection alone: but when they retook
themselves to Egypt and to Assyria, it was a clear evidence of
unbelief; for it was the same as to deny the power of God to be
sufficient for them. And we also know that the Israelites never went
to Assyria or to Egypt, except when they meditated the destruction
of their own brethren; for they often laboured to overturn the
kingdom of Judah: they only sought associates to gratify their own
cruelty. But this one reason, however, was abundantly sufficient to
condemn them, that they fortified themselves by foreign aids, when
God was willing to keep them as it were inclosed under his own
wings. Whenever then we attempt to provide for ourselves by unlawful
means, it is the same thing as if we denied God; for he calls and
invites us to come under his protection: but when we run in our
thoughts here and there, and seek some vain helps, we grievously
dishonour God: it is, as it were, to fly into Egypt or into Assyria.
And for this purpose ought the doctrine of this verse to be applied.
It follow -

Hosea 12:2
The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob
according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense
him.

    It may seem strange that the Prophet should now say, that God
"had a controversy with Judah"; for he had before said, that Judah
stood faithful with the saints. It seems indeed inconsistent, that
God should litigate with the Jews, and yet declare them to be
upright and separate them from the perfidious and ungodly. What then
does this mean? The Prophet, as we have said, spake comparatively of
the tribe of Judah, when he said that they remained faithful with
the saints: for he did not intend wholly to exculpate the Jews, who
were also full of grievous evils; but he intended to praise the
worship which as yet prevailed at Jerusalem, that the impiety of the
ten tribes might appear less excusable, who of their own accord had
departed from the rule which God had given.
    When any one at this day reproves the Papists, they say, that
another mode of worship is unknown to them, and that they have been
thus taught by their forefathers, and that the worship which they
observe has so continued from antiquity, that they dare not either
to change it or to deviate from it. Such might have been the excuse
made by the Israelites. But the prophet charges them with voluntary
defection, for the temple which God had chosen for himself stood in
their sight; there the face of God was in a manner to be seen; for
all things were arranged according to the heavenly pattern which had
been shown to Moses in the mount. Since then pure religion was
before their eyes, was not their sin proved by this very fact, that
having neglected the word of God, they gave themselves up to new and
fictitious modes of worship? The Prophet then had before praised the
worship, but not the manners, of the tribe of Judah; and he now
comes to their manners, and says, that there were many things in
Judah which God would chastise.
    "The Lord then has a controversy with Judah"; and he will begin
with that tribe, and will then come down to "the house of Jacob".
The Prophet, however, speaks here only in passing of the house of
Judah, and touches but lightly on the controversy he had with that
portion of the people. How was this? Because be was not a teacher,
as it has been said already, set over the kingdom of Judah, but only
over the Israelites. He now refers only to that kingdom for the
purpose of striking terror into his own people: as though he said
"Think ye that the forbearance of God is to be forever, because he
has hitherto borne with you? Nay, God will begin to contend with the
tribe of Judah. I have said, indeed, that they are innocent compared
with you; but yet they shall not escape punishment; for in a short
time God will summon them to judgement. If he will not spare the
Jews, how can your great crimes go unpunished? For certainly you
deserve hundred deaths in comparison with the Jews, among whom at
least some integrity and uprightness exist; for they have made no
change in the worship of God. Their life is corrupt; but yet the law
of God and religion are not despised by them as they are by you. If
then God will not spare them, much less will he spare you."
    We now understand for what purpose the Prophet says that God
had a controversy with Judah; for it was not his design to terrify
the Jews themselves, or to exhort them to repentance, except it may
be by the way; but his object was to present an example to the
Israelites, that they might fear; for they ought to have thought
within themselves, "If this shall be done in the green, what shall
become of the dry tree? (Luke 23: 31.) If God will exercise with so
much severity his vengeance against our brethren the Jews, among
whom pure religion as yet exists, what sort of end and how dreadful
is that which awaits us, who have departed from the law, the
worship, the teaching, and the obedience of God, who are become
truce-breakers, and degenerate, and in every way profane?"
    Hence he immediately adds, "And will punish Jacob". "God will
indeed begin with the tribe of Judah; this will be the prelude, and
he will treat the Jews more mildly than you; but against you he will
thunder in full force. It will not then be a remonstrance to draw
you to repentance, but a punishment such as ye deserve; for he has
already contended with you more than enough."
    "According to his ways. according to his doings, will he
recompense him". He sets down here "ways" and "doings", with no
superfluous repetition, but to show that the repentance of this
people had been already more than sufficiently looked for; for they
had not ceased for a long time to pursue their own wickedness. The
Prophet then, no doubt, condemns here the Jews for their perverse
wickedness, that they never left off their sins, though they had now
for a long time been admonished, and had been often reproved by the
Prophets. It now follows -

Hosea 12:3-5
3 He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength
he had power with God:
4 Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made
supplication unto him: he found him [in] Bethel, and there he spake
with us;
5 Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD [is] his memorial.
    
    In all this discourse the Prophet condemns the ingratitude of
the people; and then he shows how shamefully they had departed from
the example of their father, in whose name they yet took pride. This
is the substance. Their ingratitude is showed in this, that they did
not acknowledge that they had been anticipated, in the person of
their father Jacob, by the gratuitous mercy of God. The first
history is indeed referred to for this end, that the posterity of
Jacob might understand that they had been elected by God before they
were born. For Jacob did not, by choice or design, lay hold on the
heel of his brother in his mother's womb; but it was an
extraordinary thing. It was then God who guided the hand of the
infant, and by this sign testified his adoption to be gratuitous. In
short, by saying that Jacob held the foot of his brother in his
mother's womb, the same thing is intended, as if God had reminded
the Israelites, that they did not excel other people by their own
virtue or that of their parents; but that God of his own good
pleasure had chosen them. The same is alleged against them by
Malachi, 'Were not Jacob and Esau brethren? Yet Jacob I loved, and
Esau I regarded with hatred,' (Mal. 1: 2, 3.) For we know wish what
haughtiness this nation has ever exalted itself. "But whence have ye
arisen? Look back to your origin: ye are indeed the children of
Abraham and Isaac. In what then do ye differ from the Idumeans? They
have certainly been begotten by Esau; and Esau was the son of Isaac
and the brother of Jacob, and indeed the first-born. Ye then do not
excel as to any dignity that may exist in you. Own then your origin,
and know that whatever excellency may be in you proceeds from the
mere favour of God, and this ought to bind you more and more to him.
Whence then is this pride?"
    Even thus does our Prophet now speak, "Jacob held the foot of
his brother in his mother's womb"; that is, "You have a near
relationship with Esau and his posterity; but they are detested by
you. Whence is this? Is it for some merit of your own? Boast when
you can show that any thing has proceeded from you which could gain
favour before God. Nay, your father Jacob, a most holy man indeed,
while yet in his mother's womb, laid hold on the foot of his brother
Esau; that is, when he became superior to his brother and gained
primogeniture, he was not grown up, and could do nothing by his own
choice or power, for he was then inclosed in his mother's womb, and
had no worthiness, no merit. Your ingratitude is now then the more
base, for God had put you under obligations to him before ye were
born; in the person of the holy patriarch he chose you for his
possession. But now, having forsaken him, and relinquished the
worship which he has taught in his law, ye abandon yourselves to
idols and impious superstitions. Bring now your pretences by which
ye cover your impiety! Is not your baseness so gross and palpable,
that you ought to be ashamed of it?" We now then understand the end
for which the Prophet said that Esau's foot was laid hold on by
Jacob in his mother's womb.
    Moreover, this passage clearly shows that men do not gain the
favour of God by their free-will, but are chosen by his goodness
alone before they are born, and chosen, not on account of works, as
the Papists imagine, who concede some election to God, but think
that it depends on future works. But if it be so, the charge of the
Prophet was frigid and jejune. Now since God through his good
pleasure alone anticipates men, and adopts those whom he pleases,
not on account of works, but through his own mercy, it hence follows
that those who have been chosen are more bound to him, and that they
are less excusable when they reject the favour offered to them.
    But here someone may object and say, that it is strange that
the posterity of Jacob should be said to have been elected in his
person, and yet they had in the meantime departed from God; for the
election of God in this case would not be sure and permanent; and we
know that whom God elects he also justifies, and their salvation is
so secured, that none of them can perish; all the elect are also
delivered to Christ as their preserver, that he may keep them by his
divine power, which is invincible, as John teaches in chap. 10. What
then does this mean? Now we know, and it has been before stated,
that the election of God as to that people was twofold; for the one
was general, and the other special. The election of holy Jacob was
special, for he was really one of the children of God; special also
was the election of those who are called by Paul the children of the
promise, (Rom. 9: 8.) There was another, a general election; for he
received his whole seed into his faith, and offered to all his
covenant. At the same time, they were not all regenerated, they were
not all gifted with the Spirit of adoption. This general election
was not then efficacious in all. Solved now is the matter in debate,
that no one of the elect shall perish; for the whole people were not
elected in a special manner; but God knew whom he had chosen out of
that people; and them he endued, as we have said, with the Spirit of
adoption, and supplied with his own grace, that they might never
fall away. Others were indeed chosen in a certain way, that is, God
offered to them the covenant of salvation; but yet through their
ingratitude they caused God to reject them, and to disown them as
children.
    But the Prophet subjoins, that Jacob "by his strength had power
with God, and had prevailed also with the angel". He reproaches here
the Israelites for making a false claim to the name of Jacob, since
they had nothing in common with him, but had shamefully departed
from his example. He had then power with the angel and with God
himself; and he prevailed over the angel. But what sort of persons
were they? As the heathen Poets called the Romans, when they became
degenerated and effeminate, Romulidians, and said that they had
sprung from those remarkable and illustrious heroes, whose prowesses
were then well known, and for the same reason called them
Scipiadians; so also the Prophet says, "Come now, ye children of
Jacob, what sort of men are ye? He was endued with a heroic, yea,
with an angelic power, and even more than angelic; for he wrestled
with God and gained the victory: but ye are the slaves of idols; the
devil retains you devoted to himself; ye are, as it were, in a bawdy
house; for what else is your temple but a brothel? And then ye are
like adulterers, and daily commit adultery with your idols. Your
abominations, what are they but filthy chains, and which grove that
there is no knowledge and no heart in you? For you must have been
fascinated, when ye forsook God and adopted new and profane modes of
worship." This difference between the holy patriarch Jacob and his
posterity must be marked, otherwise we shall not understand the
object of the Prophet; and it will avail but little to collect
various opinions, except first we know what the Prophet meant, and
what was the purport of this upbraiding, and of this narrative, that
Jacob had power with God and the angel.
    But it must be noticed, that God and angel are here mentioned
in the same sense; we may, indeed, render it angel in both places;
for "'elohim" as well as "mal'ach" signifies an angel. But, however,
every doubt is removed by the Prophet, when he at last adds,
"Jehovah, God of hosts, Jehovah is his name", for here the Prophet
expressly mentions the essential name of God, by which he testifies,
that the same was the eternal and the only true God, who yet was at
the same time an angel. But it may be asked, How was he the eternal
God, and at the same time an angel? It occurs, indeed, so frequently
in Scripture, that it must be well known to us, that when the Lord
appeared by his angel, the name of Jehovah was given to them, not
indeed to all the angels indiscriminately but to the chief angel, by
whom God manifested himself. This, as I have said, must be well
known to us. It then follows that this angel was truly and
essentially God. But this would not strictly apply to God, except
there be some distinction of persons. There must then be some person
in the Deity, to which this name and title of an angel can apply;
for if we take the name, God, without difference or distinction, and
regard it as denoting his essence, it would certainly be
inconsistent to say, that he is God and an angel too; but when we
distinguish persons in the Deity, there is no inconsistency. How so?
Because Christ, the eternal Wisdom of God, did put on the character
of a Mediator, before he put on our flesh. He was therefore then a
Mediator, and in that capacity he was also an angel. He was at the
same time Jehovah, who is now God manifested in the flesh.
    But we must, on the other hand, refute the delirium, or the
diabolical madness of that caviller, Servetus, who imagined that
Christ was from the beginning an angel, as if he was a phantom, and
a distinct person, having an essence apart from the Father; for he
says, that he was formed from three untreated elements. This
diabolical conceit ought to be wholly discarded by us. But Christ,
though he was God, was also a Mediator; and as a Mediator, he is
rightly and fitly called the angel or the messenger of God, for he
has of his own accord placed himself between the Father and men.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that inasmuch as thou slowest thyself to us at
this day so kindly as a Father, having presented to us a singular
and an invaluable pledge of thy favour in thy only begotten Son, - 0
grant, that we may entirely devote ourselves to thee, and truly
render thee that free service and obedience which is due to a
Father, so that we may have no other object in life but to confirm
that adoption, with which thou hast once favoured us, until we at
length, being gathered into thy eternal kingdom, shall partake of
its fruit, together with Christ Jesus thy Son. Amen.


Lecture Thirty-second.

    Yesterday we explained how it seemed proper to call him who
appeared to holy Jacob in Bethel both God and an angel; for the
name, Jehovah by which is expressed the eternal power, essence, and
majesty of God, could not be transferred to a mere angel. It is
hence certain that he was the only true God. But it could not be,
that he was simply and without any distinction called an angel; but
as Christ even then sustained the character of a Mediator, he was
not inconsistently called an angel; and yet we know that he is the
eternal God. So this passage is worthy of being remembered, as it
bears testimony to the divinity of Christ; for the Prophet clearly
affirms that he is Jehovah, the Creator of heaven and earth, and
that he is so by his own power; and that he does not subsist in
another, as all creatures do. Since then he is so, his sovereignty
is proved, so that he is not inferior to the Father.
    But he says, that this is his "memorial", or remembrance. This
expression has reference to men; the Prophet then means, that this
wonderful and magnificent name would be well known in the world,
when Christ should be revealed. The people, indeed, even then
acknowledged that the true God appeared to their father Jacob; but
the knowledge of a Mediator was hitherto obscure. The Prophet then
seems to have respect here to the coming of Christ; as though he
said, that the name, Jehovah, would be widely known to all, when the
Mediator would be more clearly exhibited. But I will come now to the
other parts of the passage.
    The Prophet says that he "was a prince", or had power, "by his
strength with God". What this saying imports, I shall shortly
explain. The name, Israel, was given to Jacob, because of the
victory he obtained in that noble wrestling, of which mention is
made in Gen. 32: for the holy man had not a contest with a mortal
being, but with God himself; and he overcame in that combat, and is
hence called the conqueror of God. As this mode of speaking is
harsh, some have endeavoured by a comment to turn it to something
more moderate, that is, that Jacob was a "prince with God", meaning,
that God approved of his unwonted courage. But God meant to express
something more, when he gave this name to his servant; for he
confessed that he gave way, being, as it were, overcome, and yielded
the palm of victory to holy Jacob. And this ought not to appear
strange to us; for we know that whenever God proves our faith, and
tries us by temptations, these are so many combats by which he
contends with us; for he seeks to find out what is the strength of
our faith. Now? when we are said to wrestle with God, and the issue
of the contest be such, that God leaves the victory to us, we are
not then improperly called conquerors, yea, even of God himself. But
how? Because God works wonderfully in his saints, so that by his own
power he casts down himself; and while he wrestles with us, he
supplies us with strength, by which we are enabled to bear the
weight and pressure of the contest. Were God to assail us, what
would he find but weakness? But when he calls us to the struggle, he
at the same time supplies us with the necessary arms.
    And it is a wonderful marshalling of the contest, when God on
one side makes himself an antagonist, and, on the other, fights in
us against his own temptations, or against all those wrestlings by
which he tries our faith. Hence God is said to be overcome by us,
when, by the power and aid of his own Spirit, he strengthens and
renders us unconquerable; yea, when he makes us to triumph over
temptations, and when we consider everything, such is the state of
the case, that God will have the greater portion of strength to be
on our side, and that he only takes the weaker portion to tempt and
try us. There is not indeed, in this case, to be imagined by us, any
such separation, as if God was divided against himself; but we know,
that when he tries our faith, he comes forth as if he were a
contender, or as if he challenged us to the contest. This is indeed
certain. For what are temptations, or what is their object, but to
afford us an occasion to exhibit, as on a field of battle, an
example and proof of our strength and firmness? But this could not
be done without an adversary; for what advantage would it be to
fight with a shadow? or when no one engages with us? Hence God is
like an adversary whenever he tries our faith; and, as it has been
said before, we have this contest not with men, but with God
himself. We have indeed to contend with the devil; for Paul says,
that we have to fight not (only) with flesh and blood, but with
mighty powers, (Eph. 6: 12.) This is doubtless true; but the Lord,
at the same time, holds the first place, as that remarkable passage
in Job testified, 'The Lord gave, the Lord has taken away,' (Job 1:
14.) So, then, we must engage with God himself. How so? Because he
tries and proves us. But he does not tempt us, as James says, (James
1: 14;) for a person is tempted when he is drawn away by his own
lust. He does not tempt us to evil; he does not instil into us
corrupt desires, which grow up spontaneously, and which are innate
in our nature: but he tempts, that is, proves us, as he is said to
have tempted Abraham, (Gen. 22: 1.)
    Since it is so, we must now wrestle with God; but for what end?
That we may conquer: for God intends not to overwhelm us, while he
is making known our faith and constancy of obedience; but, on the
contrary, he builds a theatre, on which to show his gifts. We
therefore come to the struggle with the hope of overcoming. That we
may overcome, he, as I have said, not only exhorts us to be strong,
but supplies us also with arms, endues us with strength, and also
fights himself, in a manner, with us, and is powerful in us, and
enables us to overcome our temptations. For this reason, Jacob is
said to have power with God, or to have been God's conqueror.
    But what the Prophet adds may seem strange, that this was done
by "his strength". He had power with God, he says, by his own
strength. But if Israel had fought by his own valour, he could not
have borne even the shadow of God, for he must have fallen. He must
have been brought to nothing, had he not power greater than that of
man. What, then, does this mean, that he was a conqueror by his own
strength? We grant, that this strength, of which the Prophet speaks,
may be ascribed to holy Jacob when he gained dominion. There is no
better title, as they commonly say, than that of donation; and God
is wont to transfer to us whatever he bestows, as if it were our
own. It is then necessary to distinguish wisely here between the
strength which man has in himself, and that which God confers on
him. The Papists, as soon as any mention is made of the strength or
power of man, instantly lay hold on it, and say, "If there is no
freewill in man, there is no strength, or there is no power to
resist." But they betray their own stupidity and thoughtlessness,
inasmuch as they cannot distinguish between the intrinsic strength
which is in man himself by nature, and the adventitious strength
with which God endues men, and which is the gift of the Holy Spirit.
And the Prophet, when he here commends the strength of holy Jacob,
does not extol his free-will, as though he derived strength from
himself, by which he overcame God; but he means that he was divinely
endued with unconquerable power, so that he came forth a conqueror
in the contest. We now then apprehend the meaning of the Prophet.
    And since this was especially worthy of being remembered, he
repeats, that he had power with the angel, and prevailed. But we
have already said how Jacob prevailed not indeed of himself, but
because God had so distributed his power, that the greater part was
in Jacob himself. I am therefore wont, when I speak of the wrestling
and of the daily contests with which God exercises the godly, to
adduce this similitude, -  That God fights with us with his left
hand, and defends us with his right hand, that is, he assails us in
a weak manner, (so to speak,) and at the same time stretches forth
his right hand to defend us: he displays, in the latter instance,
his greater power, that we may become victorious in the struggle.
And this mode of speaking, though at the first view it seems harsh,
does yet wonderfully set forth the grace and goodness of God,
inasmuch as he deigns to humble himself for our sake, so as to
choose to concede to us the praise of victory; not indeed that we
may become proud of ourselves, but that he may be thus more
glorified, when he prefers exercising his power in defending us
rather than in overwhelming us, which he could do with one breath of
his mouth. For he has no need of making any effort to reduce us to
nothing: if he only chooses to blow on the whole human race, the
whole world would in a moment be extinguished. But the Lord fights
with us, and at the same time suffers us not to be crushed; nay, he
raises us up on high, and, as I have already said, concedes to us
the victory. Let us now go on.
    The Prophet adds, that he wept and entreated: "He wept", he
says, "and made supplication unto him". Some explain this clause of
the angel; but I know not whether weeping was suitable to him. The
saying may be indeed defended that the angel was as it were a
suppliant, when he yielded up the conquest to the holy man; for it
was the same as though he who owns himself unequal in a contest were
to throw himself on the ground. Then they explain weeping thus, "The
angel entreated the patriarch when he said, 'Let me go;' and this
was a confession of victory." The sense would then be, that the
patriarch Jacob did not gain any ordinary thing when he came forth a
conqueror in the struggle; for God was in a manner the suppliant,
for he conceded to him the name and praise of a conqueror. But I
prefer explaining this of the patriarch, and to do so is, in my
judgement, more suitable. It is not indeed said that Jacob wept;
that is, it is not, I own, stated distinctly and expressly by Moses;
but weeping may be taken for that humility which the faithful ever
bring to the presence of God: and then weeping was meet for the
patriarch; for he so gained the victory in the combat, that he did
not depart without grief and loss, inasmuch as we know that his leg
was put out of joint, and that his thigh was dislocated so that he
was lame all his life. Jacob then obtained the victory, and there
triumphed with God's approbation: but yet he departed not whole, for
God had left him lame. He felt then no small grief, since this
weakness in his body continued through life. Hence weeping did not
ill become the holy man, who was humbled in the struggle, though he
carried away the palm of victory.
    And this ought to be carefully noticed; for here the Prophet
meets all calumnies, when he so moderates the sentence, that he
takes away nothing from God and his glory, though he thus splendidly
adorns the victory of the patriarch. He was then a prince with God;
he prevailed also, he became a conqueror, - but how? He yet wept and
entreated him; which means, that there was no cause for pride that
he carried away the palm of victory from the contest, but that God
led him to humility even by the dislocation of his thigh or leg: and
so he entreated him. The praying of Jacob is related by Moses, which
he made, when he asked to be blessed. But the less, as the Apostle
says, is blessed by the greater, (Heb. 7: 7.) Then Jacob did not
exalt himself, as blind men do, who claim merit to themselves; but
he prayed to God, and asked to be blessed by Him, who owned himself
to be overcome. And this ought to be carefully observed, especially
the additional circumstance; for we hence learn that there is no
cause why they who are proved by temptations should flee away from
God, though our flesh indeed seeks ease, and desires to be spared.
    But when a temptation is at hand, we withdraw ourselves, and
there is no one who would not gladly make a truce, and also hide
himself at a distance from the presence of God. Inasmuch then as we
desire God to be far from us, when he comes forth as an antagonist
to try our faith, this praying of Jacob ought to be remembered; for
though he had his leg disjointed, though he was worn out with
weariness, he did not yet withdraw himself, he did not wish the
departure of the angel, but retained him as it were by force: "Thou
shalt bless me; I would rather contend with thee, and be wholly
consumed, than to let thee go before thou blesses me." We hence see
that we ought to seek the presence of God; though he may severely
try us, though we may suffer much, though our strength fail, though
we may be made lame through life, we ought not yet to shun the
presence of God, but rather embrace him with both arms, and retain
him as it were by force; for it is much better to groan under our
burden, and to feel his power who is above us, than to continue free
from toil, and to rot in our pleasures, as they do whom God
forsakes. And we see how much such an indulgence ought to be dreaded
by us; for unless we are daily sharpened by various temptations, we
immediately gather rust and other evils. It is therefore necessary,
in order that we may continue in a sound state, that our contests
should be daily renewed: and hence I have said, that we ought to
seek the presence of God, however severe the wresting may be.
    It follows, "He found him in Bethel". To remove every
ambiguity, I would render it, "In Bethel he had found him." It is
indeed a verb in the future tense; but it is certain that the
Prophet speaks of the past. But when we take the past tense,
ambiguity in the language still remains; for some thus understand
the place, that God had afterwards found Jacob in Bethel, or, that
Jacob had found God; that is, when the name of Israel was confirmed
to him, after the destruction of the town of Sichem; for, to console
his grief, God appeared to him there again. They then explain this
of a second vision in that place. But it seems to me that the
Prophet had another thing in view, even this, that God had already
found Jacob in Bethel, that he had met him when he fled to Syria,
and went away through the fear of his brother. It was then for the
first time that God appeared to his servant, and exhorted him to
faithfulness: he promised to him a safe return to his own country.
The Prophet then means, that Jacob gained the victory, because God
had long before began to embrace him in his love, and also testified
his love when he had manifested himself to him in Bethel. Hence he
found him in Bethel. This might indeed be referred to Jacob, "He
found him in Bethel;" that is, he found God. But as it is
immediately added, "There he spake with us", and as this cannot be
applied to any other than to God himself, I am inclined to add also,
that God had found Jacob in Bethel. And the Prophet commends to us
again the gratuitous goodness of God towards Jacob, because he
deigned to meet him on his way, and to show that he was the leader
of Jacob on his journey: for he did not think previously that God
was nigh him, as he says himself, 'This is the house of God, and the
gate of heaven, and I knew it not,' (Gen. 28: 16, 17.) When
therefore the holy man thought himself to be as it were cast away by
God, and destitute of all aid, when he was alone and without any
hope, God is said to have found him; for of his own good will he
presented himself to him, when the holy man hoped no such thing, nor
conceived such a thing in his mind. Hence God had already found his
servant in Bethel; and there he spake, or (that the same strain may
be continued) had spoken to him.
    "There he had spoken with us". Some take "'imanu" for "'imo",
he had spoken with him; and they do this, being forced by necessity;
for they find no sense in the words that God spake with us in
Bethel. But there is no need to change the words contrary to rules
of grammar. Others who dare not to depart from the words of the
Prophet, imagine a sense wholly different. Some say, "He spake with
us there;" that is, "The Lord speaks by me, Hosea, and by Amos, who
is my colleague and friend: for we denounce on you, by his
authority, utter ruin and destruction; and God has made known to us
at Bethel whatever we bring to you." But how strained is this, all
must see: this is to wrest Scripture, and not to explain it. Others
also speak still more frigidly: "There he spake with us," as though
the angel had said, "Wait, the Lord will speak with us; I have
called thee Israel, but the Lord will at length come, who will
ratify what I now say to thee:" as if he was not indeed the eternal
God; but this he immediately expresses when he says "Jehovah is his
memorial, Jehovah of hosts". But thus the Jews trifle, who are like
irrational beings whenever there is a reference made to Christ.
    There does not seem, however, to be any great reason why we
should toil much about the Prophet's words: and some even of the
Rabbis (not to deprive them of their just praise) have observed this
to be the meaning, That the Lord had so spoken with Jacob, that what
he said belonged to the whole people. For doubtless whatever God
then promised to his servant appertained to the whole body of the
people, and all his posterity. Why then do interpreters so greatly
torment themselves, when it is evident that God spake through the
person of one man with all the posterity of Abraham? And this agrees
best with the context; for the Prophet now applies, so to speak, to
the whole people what he had hitherto recorded of the patriarch
Jacob. That they might not then think that the history of one man
was related, he says that it belongs to all. How so? Because the
Lord had so spoken with holy Jacob, that his voice ought to resound
in the ears of all. For what was said to the holy man? Did God only
reveal himself to him? Did he promise to be a Father only to him?
Nay, he adopted his whole seed, and extended his favour to all his
posterity. Since then he had so spoken to all the Israelites, they
ought now to be more ashamed of their defection, inasmuch as they
had so much degenerated from their father, with whom they were yet
connected. For there was a sacred bond of unity between Jacob and
his children, since God embraced them all in his love, and favoured
them all with his adoption. We now perceive the mind of the Prophet.
Let us proceed -

Hosea 12:6,7
Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgement, and wait
on thy God continually.
[He is] a merchant, the balances of deceit [are] in his hand: he
loveth to oppress.

    The Prophet is now here urgent on the people. Having referred
to the example of the patriarch, he shows how unlike him were his
posterity, with whom God could avail nothing by sound teaching,
though he was constantly solicitous for their salvation, and stirred
up his Prophets to bring back the lost and scattered to the way of
safety. Since then it was so, the Prophet accuses them of
ingratitude. But he speaks first of repentance; and then he shows
that he and other ministers of God had laboured in vain; for such
was the perversity of the people, that teaching had no effect. His
sermon is short, but yet it contains much.
    "Turn", he says, "to thy God". He glances here at the apostasy
of the people, by bidding them to turn to their God, and, at the
same time, condemns whatever the Israelites were wont to set up as a
defence, when the Prophets reproved them. For they wished their own
fictitious modes of worship to come in as a reason; they wished the
gods devised by themselves to occupy the place of the true God. The
Prophet cuts off the handle from subterfuges of this kind by
commanding the people to turn to their God. "Why," he says, "you do
indeed worship gods, and greatly weary yourselves in your
superstitions; but confess that you are apostates, who have rejected
the law delivered to you by the true God. Return, then, to your
God." And he calls God the God of Israel, not to honour them, but
to-reproach them, because they had willingly and designedly cast off
the worship of the true God, who had made himself known to them.
    There is afterwards shown the true way of repentance. The
beginning of the verse, as I have already said, requires the people
to repent; but as we know that men trifle with God when they are
called to repentance, it is not in vain that a definitive, or, at
least, a short description of repentance, is added by which is made
evident what it is to repent, or to turn to God. Then the Prophet
says, - "Keep mercy", or kindness "and judgement". He begins with
the second table, and then he adds piety towards God. But he lays
down two things only, in which he included the whole teaching of the
second table. For what is God's design, from the fifth to the last
commandment, but to teach us to shape our life according to the rule
of love? We are then taught in the second table of the law how we
ought to act towards our brethren; or if one wishes to have a
shorter summary, in the second table of the law are shown the mutual
duties of men. But the Prophet begins here with the second part of
the law; for the Prophets are not wont strictly to observe order,
Nor do they always observe a regular method; but it is enough with
them to mention the main things by which they explain their subject;
and hence, it is no wonder that the Prophet here, according to his
usual manner, mentions love in the first place, and then goes on to
the worship of God. This order, as I have said, is not indeed either
natural or legitimate; but this is of no importance; nay, it was not
without the best reason that the Prophets usually did this; for
repentance is better tested by the observance of the second table,
than by that of divine worship. For as hypocrites dissemble, and
hide themselves with wonderful coverings, the Lord applies a
touchstone, and this he does whenever he draws them to the light,
and exposes to public view their frauds, robberies, cruelty,
perjuries, thefts, and such like vices. Since, then, hypocrites can
be better convicted by the second table of the law, the Lord rightly
appeals to this when he speaks of repentance; as though he said,
"Let it now be made evident what your repentance is, whether it be
feigned or sincere; for if you act justly and uprightly towards your
neighbours, if you observe equity and rectitude, it is a sure
evidence of your repentance."
    At the same time, the Prophet overlooks not the worship of God;
for he adds, - "Hope always in thy God". By the word, hope, he first
requires faith, and then prayer, which arises from it, and
thanksgiving, which necessarily follows. Thus the whole worship of
God is briefly included, as a part for the whole, in the word, hope.
The meaning of the Prophet then is, that Israel, forsaking their own
superstitions, should recumb on the one true God, and place all
their salvation on him, that they should fly to him, and ascribe to
him alone the praise due for all blessings. By so doing, they would
restore the pure worship of God, and cast away all their adulterous
superstitions. He had spoken already of the second table of the law.
    We hence see that repentance is nothing else but a reformation
of the whole life according to the law of God. For God has explained
his will in his law; and as much as we depart or deviate from it, so
much we depart from the Lord. But when we turn to God, the true
proof is, when we amend our life according to his law, and begin
with worshipping him spiritually, the main part of which worship is
faith, from which proceeds prayer; and when, in addition to this, we
act kindly and justly towards our neighbours, and abstain from all
injuries, frauds, robberies, and all kinds of wickedness. This is
the true evidence of repentance.
    But while the Prophet exhorted the Israelites to repentance, he
adds, that such was their perverseness, that it was done without any
fruit. "Canaan!" he says; I read this by itself; for what some
consider to be understood is frigid, as, "He was assimilated to, or
was like Canaan, in whose hand," &c. But, on the contrary, the
Prophet here condemns the Israelites by one word; as though he said,
that they were wholly aliens, and unworthy to be called the children
of Abraham. And thus what we say is often abrupt, when we speak
indignantly. The Prophet then calls them "Canaan" through
indignation; which means this, "Ye are not the children of Abraham;
ye falsely boast of his name, which cannot be suitable to you; for
ye are Canaan."
    He afterwards adds "In his hand is the balance of fraud, he
loves to plunder", or to spoil. Literally it is, he loves to spoil.
But the sense is clear, that they loved to plunder; that is, they
were carried away with all greediness to acts of robbery. It must
first be noticed, that the Prophet here exposes to infamy the carnal
descendants of Abraham by calling them Canaan, and this imputation
is often to be met with in the Prophets. And the reason why they
were thus addressed was, that these senseless men were wont proudly
to set up as their shield the distinction of their race. "What! we
are a holy people." Since by this pretence they rejected all the
warnings of the Prophets, God casts back this reproach, "Ye are not
the children of Abraham; but ye are Canaan:" as though he said,
"Nothing in that nation has as yet changed, the Israelites are
always like themselves." The Lord had once cleansed the land of
godless men: but when the descendants of Abraham became like the
Canaanites, they were called the seed of Canaan; as though the same
nation, which was there formerly, had still remained; for there was
no difference in their manners, for they were equal or the same in
depravity.
    But the reason follows why he calls them the race of Canaan
even because they carried in their "hand a deceitful balance" , and
devoted themselves with all avidity to plunder. The deceitful
balance may be extended to their dissimulations, fallacies, and
falsehoods, by which God, as he had before complained, was
surrounded; but as it immediately follows, "He loves robberies", I
prefer to understand here those two modes of doing injury which
include almost every kind of wickedness; for men either craftily
defraud when they injure others, or they do harm to their neighbours
by open force. Since, then, they who wrong their neighbours do
either openly injure them, or circumvent the simple by their frauds
and crafty dealings, Hosea lays down here, in the first place, the
deceitful balance, and then he adds their greediness in spoiling or
plundering. It is then the same as if he had said that they were
fraudulent, and that they were also robbers who proceeded with open
violence. He means that they were, without law or any restraint,
addicted to acts of wrong and injustice, and were so intent on doing
mischief, as to do it either by craft or by open force. There is
then no wonder that they were called an uncircumcised race. Why?
Because they had nothing to do with God, inasmuch as they had thus
departed from his law; yea, they abhorred kindness and mercy. It
also follows that they were void of all piety, since they were thus
unmindful of all equity towards their neighbours. This is the
meaning.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that as thou appearest not now to us in shadows
and types, as formerly to the holy fathers, but clearly and plainly
in thy only-begotten Son, - O grant, that we may be wholly given to
the contemplation of thine image, which thus shines before us; and
that we may in such a manner be transformed into it, as to make
increasing advances, until at length, having put off all the filth
of our flesh, we be fully conformed to that pure and perfect
holiness which dwells in Christ, as in him dwells the fulness of all
blessings and thus obtain at last a participation of that glory
which our Lord has procured for us by his resurrection. Amen.


Lecture Thirty-third.

Hosea 12:8
And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out
substance: [in] all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me
that [were] sin.

    Here God complains by his Prophet, that the Israelites
flattered themselves in their vices, because their affairs succeeded
prosperously and according to their wishes: and it is a vice too
common, that men felicitate themselves as long as fortune, as they
commonly say, smiles on them, thinking that they have God then
propitious to them. Since then the condition of the people was such,
they despised all the Prophets and their reproofs. Of this hardihood
the Lord now complains. "Ephraim has said I am yet become rich".
There is an emphasis to be noticed in the adversative particle
"ach". It is sometimes in Hebrew a simple affirmative; but here the
Prophet meant to express another thing, even this, that the
Israelites laughed at all reproofs, because God seemed to be
propitious to them, as though he manifested his favour by
prosperity. "I am, however, become rich; and therefore I care
nothing for what the Prophets may say, for I am contented with my
lot." This, as I have said, is a common evil; and hence this passage
ought to be carefully noted, lest when the Lord spares us for a
time, we may think that we are innocent before him; for there is
nothing more to be feared than the dazzling of our eyes by a
prosperous and desirable state of things. Though the Lord then may
bear with us, and not immediately draw forth his vengeance against
us, but, on the contrary, cherish us as it were kindly in his bosom;
yet if he reproves us by his word, we ought to attend to his
threatenings.
    But they further add, "All my labours shall not find iniquity",
or, they shall not find iniquity in all my labours. Many read simply
as the words are, "My labours shall not find iniquity:" but as the
expression seems stiff, I have tried to render it smoother, as
others also have done, "They shall not find iniquity in all my
labours." This boasting went farther, for the Prophet shows that the
people were not only secure, because the Lord gave them some tokens
of his paternal favour; but that they were also inebriated with this
impious confidence, that God would not have favoured them had they
not been exempt from every fault and vice: and this second clause
ought to be carefully noticed. Now it is a depravity that is by no
means to be endured, when men begin to despise God, because he deals
kindly with them, and when they abuse his levity so as to condemn
all his teaching and all his threatening; this is indeed a very
great perversion: but when to all this is added such a pride, that
ungodly and reprobate men persuade themselves that they are just,
because God does not immediately punish them, - this is, as it were,
a diabolical madness; and yet we see that it is a common thing. For
godless men are not only proud of their wealth, they are not only
inflated with their own power; but they also think that God is in
some way under obligations to them. "Why! it must be that God
regards me innocent, and pure from every vice, for he favours me: he
then does not find in me what is worthy of punishment." Thus the
wicked raise up their horns against God, while he indulges them, and
appears not so severe towards them as they have deserved.
    When at the present day we perceive these evils prevailing
among the greater portion of mankind, there is no reason to feel
astonished: but we ought at the same time to profit by the
instruction of the Prophet, so that we may not be blinded by
prosperity, and despise reproofs, and flatter ourselves in our sin;
and also, that we may not accumulate for ourselves a store of God's
wrath, when he deals kindly with us. Let us not then abuse his
forbearance; let us not think that we are innocent before him,
because he does not immediately execute his judgements; but let us
rather learn to make a scrutiny of ourselves, and to shake off our
vices, so that we may humble ourselves under his hand, though he
restrains himself from inflicting punishment. This is the
application of the present doctrine.
    But we must notice what the Prophet adds, "They shall not find
iniquity in my labours"; that is, iniquity shall not be found in my
labours, because this is "wickedness" or a crime requiring
expiation. I wonder that interpreters explain this place so
frigidly; for they say, that there shall not be found in my labours
iniquity or sin. But the Prophet does not set down a copulative, but
uses the particle "'asher", which is to be taken here exegetically.
And the meaning is, that hypocrites, while they claim to themselves
the praise of innocence, for the sake of dissembling, detest
ostensibly every wickedness and crime. "Iniquity shall not be found
in my labours, for this is wickedness; far be it that I should be
discovered to be a wicked person in my doings; for I am without
fraud in all my dealings." But is this the case? By no means; but as
they judge of God's favour by prosperous fortune, they think that
God would not be so kind to them unless he regarded them as just and
pure. Hence we see how securely hypocrites mock God, when they begin
to despise his teaching and warnings. We need not then wonder that
at this day so much perverseness prevails everywhere in the world.
But let us also use this mode of teaching which the Prophet sets
before us. Let us now proceed -

Hosea 12:9
And I [that am] the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt will yet
make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn
feast.

    In the first clause God reproaches the Israelites for having
forgotten the benefit of his redemption, the memory of which ought
ever to have prevailed and flourished among them. "I yet", he says,
"am thy God from the land of Egypt"; that is, "It is strange that
you are so forgetful that your redemption does not come to your
mind, which yet ought to be well known, and be ever, as it were,
before your eyes." That was, as we know, a memorable instance of
God's kindness. But when he says that he is the God of that people
from the land of Egypt, he points out the end of redemption, as
though he said, "I redeemed thee for this end, that thou mightest be
forever bound to me." For we know that when he delivered that people
from their cruel tyranny, he at the same time acquired for himself
an eternal kingdom; he was then sanctified in his elect people. The
end of redemption is then to be observed in the words of the
Prophet, "I am," he says, "thy God from the land of Egypt; how
otherwise couldest thou have come forth from thy grave?" For they
were like the dead, when God stretched out his hand to them. From
the land of Egypt then I am thy God, which means this: "Since thou
hast been so wonderfully restored from death to life by my favour,
am not I thy God from that day? Thou owest then thyself and all
thine to me; for I purchased thee for myself as a peculiar
possession. When now thou detest petulantly to reject my Prophets,
who speak in my name, it is surely an ingratitude not to be endured,
that thou forgettest thy redemptions and the end for which I made
known to thee my power and grace."
    But as to the second clause, interpreters vary; some explain it
in this way, that God would not cease to show mercy to the
Israelites, however unworthy they were, "I will make thee to dwell
in thy tabernacles"; and they take tabernacles, not strictly proper,
for houses. Then they say, "according to the days of Moed", that is,
of ancient agreement, or, according to appointed days; for God had
promised to give the land of Canaan to the posterity of Abraham for
their perpetual rest. But this exposition seems not suitable. Others
say, that the Israelites are here reproved, because they neglected
the command of God, who had instituted a festal-day, on which they
were to commemorate yearly their redemption. We indeed know that
there was the annual feast of tabernacles: so they think the meaning
of the Prophet to be this "I not only once redeemed thee, but I also
wished that there should be a memorial of this favour; and for what
purpose have I commanded you to keep a yearly festival, except that
ye might retain in your memory what otherwise might have been
forgotten? But I have effected nothing by this rite, for I am now
rejected, and my prophets possess no authority among you." But this
sense also is frigid. Some think that the Prophet here threatens the
Israelites, as though he said, "God will again drive you out, that
you may dwell in tents as you did formerly in the desert." Though I
do not reject this opinion, yet I think there is something more
emphatical in the Prophet's words, that is, that God here says in an
indirect way, that there was need of a new redemption, that he might
bind the people more to himself; as though he said, "I see that you
are unmindful of my former redemption; for I see that you esteem it
as nothing, as if it were obsolete; I must then lose all my labour,
except the memory of my ancient favour be renewed: I will therefore
make thee to dwell again in tents. It is necessary to eject thee
again from thy heritage, and to restore thee again, and that in a
manner unusual and least expected, that thou mayest understand that
I am thy Redeemer.
    We now then apprehend what the Prophet meant. After God had
said that he was the God of Israel from the land of Egypt, he then
adds, "Inasmuch as your former redemption has lost all its influence
through your wicked forgetfulness, I will become again your
Redeemer; I will therefore make thee to abide or dwell in tents as
formerly; as your first redemption avails nothing, I will add a
second, that you may at length repent, and know how much you are
indebted to me." "The days of Moed" he takes for their manner of
proceeding in the desert as described by Moses; for they assembled
together for sacrifices from their camps. Hence God does not speak
here of the convention he had made with his people, as if he pointed
out some perpetual compact; but he calls those the days of Moed on
which the Israelites were assembled, when they were located in their
camps according to the account given by Moses. It now follows -

Hosea 12:10
I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions,
and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.

    The Prophet amplifies the sin of the people in having always
obstinately opposed God, so that they were without any pretext of
ignorance: for men, we know, evade God's dreadful judgement as long
as they can plead either ignorance or thoughtlessness. The Prophet
denies that the people had fallen through want of information, for
they had been often, nay, continually warned by the Prophets. It
then appears that this people were become, as it were, wilfully
rebellious against God; for they had ever despised the Prophets, not
once or twice, but when the Lord sent them in succession: I have
spoken, he says, upon my prophets, or, by my Prophets; for "'al" is
variously taken: 'I have spoken upon my Prophets,' that is, I have
deposited with them the doctrine which ought to have restored you to
the right way; and not only so, but I have "multiplied visions"; it
has not been in one way that I have tried to gather you, but I have
accumulated many visions: and then he says, "In the hand of Prophets
I have placed similitudes"; that is, I have endeavoured in every way
possible to restore you to a sound mind; for God speaks after the
manner of men. He might indeed, if he chose, effect this by the
secret movement of his Spirit; but it is enough to take away every
excuse from men to allege the fact, that they obey not the word, and
offer not themselves to God as submissive and teachable, when he by
his Prophets cohorts them to repentance. It is then an enhancing of
sin worthy of being noticed, when God remonstrates, and says, that
he had uselessly spent all his efforts to collect the dispersed
Israel, though he had constantly employed the labours of his
Prophets.
    But this reproach may be also applied to us at this day; yea,
whatever the Prophet has hitherto said may justly be turned against
us. For we see how the world hardens itself against all warnings;
and we see also how long the Lord suspends his judgements, and
tolerates men who scoff at his forbearance. Then the same depravity
rages now in the world, which the Prophet describes in this place.
Besides, God has not only redeemed us from Egypt, but from the
lowest hell, and we know that we have been redeemed by Christ for
this end, - that we may be wholly devoted to God; for Christ died
and rose again for this purpose, - that he might be the Lord of the
living and of the dead. But we see how much is the perverseness of
men, and how with impunity they grow wanton against God. Who among
us remember that they are no longer their own, because they have
been purchased by the blood of Christ? Few think of this. And not
only this only true and perpetual redemption ought to be kept in
mind by us; for the Lord again redeemed us when we were sunk in the
gulf of Popery; and daily also does he renew the same kindness
towards us; and yet we are so forgetful, that often the grace of God
is not remembered by us. We now see how necessary is this doctrine
even for our age.
    Besides, God, as I have already said, ceases not daily to
stimulate and urge us; he multiplies prophecies and similitudes;
that is, he in various ways accommodates himself to us; for by
similitudes he means all forms of teaching. And doubtless we see
that God in a manner transforms himself in his word, for he speaks
not according to his own majesty, but as he sees to be suitable to
our capacities and weakness; for the Scriptures set before us
various representations, which show to us the face of God. Since God
then thus accommodates himself to our rudeness, how great is our
ingratitude, when no fruit follows? Let us then remember that the
Prophet so reproved the men of his age, that he also speaks to us at
this day. Let us now proceed -

Hosea 12:11
[Is there] iniquity [in] Gilead? surely they are vanity: they
sacrifice bullocks in Gilgal; yea, their altars [are] as heaps in
the furrows of the fields.

    It is an ironical question, when the Prophet says, "Is there
iniquity in Gilead?" and he laughs to scorn their madness who
delighted themselves in vices so gross, when their worship was
wholly spurious and degenerated. When they knew that they were
perfidious towards God, and followed a worship alienated from his
law, they yet were so perverse, that they proudly refused all
admonitions. Since then they were blinded in their vices, the
Prophet asks them ironically, Is there iniquity in Gilead? They are
as yet doubtful, forsooth, whether they are guilty before God,
whether they bear any blame. "Surely", he says, "they are vanity";
that is, "How much soever they may seek specious pretences for
themselves, and deny that they are conscious of doing wrong, and
also introduce many reasons for doubt, that they may not be forced
to own their sin, they yet, he says, are guilty of falsehood; all
their glosses contain nothing solid, but they are mere disguises,
which avail nothing before God." We now then apprehend the meaning
of the Prophet.
    But there is no doubt but that he also condemns here their
perverted worship, by which the Israelites at the same time thought
that they rendered the best service to God. But obedience, we know,
is better than all sacrifices. The Prophet then inveighs here
against all fictitious modes of worship, devised without God against
the authority of God's law. But at the same time, as we have just
hinted, he indirectly exposes their thoughtlessness for imagining
themselves excusable, provided they set up their own good intention,
as it is commonly done, and say, that they built altars with no
other design than to make known everywhere the name of God, to
preserve among themselves some tokens of religion. Since, then, they
thus raised up a cloud of smoke to cover their impiety, the Prophet
says, "They indeed still inquire, as of a doubtful thing, whether
there is iniquity in Gilead; let them inquire and dispute; surely,"
he says, "they are vain;" literally, surely they have been
falsehood: but he means that they foolishly brought forward those
frivolous excuses, by which they tried to escape the crime and its
punishment. How was it that they were vain? Because God values his
own law more than all the glosses of men, and he will have all men
to obey, without dispute, his own word: but when they thus
licentiously depart from his commandments, it is what he cannot
endure. They are then false and deceive themselves, who think that
their own inventions are of any value before God. He then lays down
their crimes
    "In Gilgal", he says, "have they sacrificed oxen". Jerome
translates, "They sacrifice to oxen," and thinks that the Israelites
are reprehended here for sacrificing to the calves: but this seems
too remote from the words of the Prophet. The Prophet then mentions
their sin - that they sacrificed oxen and multiplied altars. And yet
it seemed to be a diligence worthy of praise, that they increased
many altars, that they worshipped God everywhere, that they spared
neither expense nor labour, that they were not content with few
sacrifices, but added a great number; - all this seemed to deserve
no common praise: but the Lord, as it has been already said, valued
not these corrupt practices; for he would have himself to be alone
worshipped by his people, and would have their piety to be attested
by this single evidence - their obedience to his word. When we then
turn aside from God's word, nay, when we with loose reins abandon
ourselves to new inventions, though we may plausibly profess that
our object is to worship God, yet all this is a vain and fallacious
pretence, as the Prophet here declares.
    Jerome is mistaken in thinking that Gilgal was a town in the
tribe of Judah; and the supposition cannot suit this place: for
Judah, we know, was then free from those gross pollutions; Judah was
not as yet polluted with the defilements which the Prophet here
condemns in the kingdom of Israel. It is then certain, that Gilgal
was a town of Israel; and we know that a celebrated temple and altar
were there: hence he especially points out this place.
    But he afterwards adds, "Their altars are as heaps on the
furrows of the field". There was then we know, only one legitimate
altar; and God would not have sacrifices offered to him, except in
one place. Hence the more active the Israelites were in multiplying
altars, the more they provoked the vengeance of God: how much soever
it was their purpose to worship God, yet God spurned that foolish
affectedness. We then see why the Prophet here compares the altars
then erected in the kingdom of Israel to heaps of stones; as though
he said "As one gathers stones into a heap, when the land is stony,
that he may drive his plough more easily, so every one forms an
altar for himself, as though he were raising up a hillock in his own
field: thus it comes, that they perversely corrupt the pure and
lawful worship which I have appointed." We now then understand the
meaning of the Prophet to be, that superstitious men gain nothing,
when they boldly and openly boast that they worship God; for
whatever disguise they may invent for themselves and others, the
Lord yet abominates every thing that is contrary to his word: and
our mode Of worshipping God is alone true and lawful, when we only
follow what he prescribes, and allow to ourselves nothing but what
is according to his command and appointment. This is the meaning.
Let us proceed -

Hosea 12:12,13
And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel served for a
wife, and for a wife he kept [sheep].
And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a
prophet was he preserved.

    THE Prophet now employs another kind of reproof, - that the
Israelites did not consider from what source they had proceeded, and
were forgetful of their origin. And the Prophet designedly touches
on this point; for we know how boldly and proudly the people boasted
of their own eminence. For as a heathen gloried that he was an
Athenian, so also the Jews think that all we are brute animals, and
imagine that they have a different origin from the rest of mankind,
because they are the posterity of Abraham. Since then they were
blinded by such a pride as this God meant to undeceive them, as he
does here: "Jacob your father, who was he? What was his condition?
What was his nobility? What was his power? What was his dignity and
eminence according to the flesh? Yea, truly, he was a fugitive from
his own country: had he always lived at home, his father was but a
sojourner; but he was constrained to flee into Syria. And how
splendidly did he live there? He was indeed with his uncle; but he
was treated no better than if he had been some worthless slave: He
"served for a wife". And how did he serve? He was a keeper of sheep.
Go then now and boast of your dignity, as if ye were nobler than
others, as if your condition were better than that of the common
sort of people." God then brings against them the condition of their
father, in whose name they gloried, but who was an abject person and
a fugitive, who was like a worthless slave, who was a keeper of
sheep; who, in short, had nothing which could be deemed reputable
among men.
    And God, he says, "brought you up by a Prophet from Egypt, and
by a Prophet you have been preserved". This was, as it were, their
second nativity. Some think that the comparison is between their
first origin and their deliverance; as though Hosea had said,
"Though you were born of a very poor and ignoble man, yet God has
favoured you with singular privilege; for he gave Moses to be the
minister of your liberation." But in my judgement the Prophet speaks
in a more simple way; for, first, he shows what was the first origin
of the people, that they were from Jacob; and then he shows what was
their second origin; for God had again begotten them when he brought
them out of Egypt. And they were there, as it is well known, very
miserable, and they did not come out by their own velour, they did
not attain for themselves their liberty; but Moses alone extended
his hand to them, having been sent for this end by God. Since the
case was so, it was strange that they now provoked God, as he says
in the last verse, by their altars.
    And it very frequently occurs in the Prophets, that God reminds
the Israelites whence or from what source they had arisen, "Look to
your origin, to the stone from which ye were cut off; for Abraham
was alone and childless, and his wife also was barren;" and yet God
multiplied their race, (Isa. 51: 2.) This was said, because the
Israelites did not look to God, but in their adversity despaired,
when no way appeared by which they could be restored; but in their
prosperity they became proud, and regarded as nothing the favour of
God. We then see what the Prophet had in view. The Lord says,
"Acknowledge what you owe to me; for I have chosen Jacob your
father, and have not chosen him because he was eminent for his great
dignity in the world; for he was a fugitive and a keeper of sheep,
and served for his wife. I afterwards redeemed you from the land of
Egypt; and in that coming forth there was nothing that you did;
there is no reason why you should boast that that liberation was
obtained by your velour; for Moses alone was my servant in that
deliverance. I did then beget you the second time, when I redeemed
you. How great is your ingratitude, when you do not own and worship
me as your Redeemer?" We now then see that the Prophet thus treated
the people of Israel, that it might in every way appear that they
were unworthy of so many and so great benefits bestowed on them by
God; for they had perverted all the works of God, and so perverted
them, that they did not think that any thing, belonged to him, and
they returned no thanks to God; nay, they extolled themselves, as if
God had never conferred on them any kindness.
    But I will not dwell on the history of Jacob, for it is not
necessary for elucidating the meaning of the Prophet, and it is well
known: it is enough to refer only to what is suitable to this place.
"Jacob" then "fled into the country of Syria"; and then he says,
"Israel served for a wife". He mentions the name, Israel, after
Jacob. The name, Israel, was noble and memorable; yea, it was given
by God to the holy patriarch: but at the same time Jacob did not in
himself or in his own person excel; he nevertheless served, and was
in a most humble condition, and he served for a wife; that is, that
he might have a wife; for we know how he made an agreement with his
uncle Laban.
    Further, "By a Prophet he brought them out of Egypt". This was
their second nativity: and "by a Prophet Israel was preserved".
There is an allusion here to the word "shamar"; for I take the word
"nishmar" passively. He had said before that Jacob "kept" sheep; and
he says now, "nishmar", "kept was" Israel by a Prophet; as though he
said, "Ye now see that God has given you a reason for humility in
your father, since he was suffered to be so miserably distressed;
and shen he preserved you beyond the hope of men, and by no human
means except by Moses, who was also a fugitives and who came forth
as from a cave, for he was also a keeper of sheep. Since, then, ye
have been thus kept by the favour of God, how comes it that your
present condition fascinates you, and that ye consider not that you
were once redeemed by the Lord for this end, that ye might be wholly
devoted to him forever?" Now he adds - (I will also run over this
verse, for there will be no lecture to-morrow, nor the day after) -

Hosea 12:14
Ephraim provoked [him] to anger most bitterly: therefore shall he
leave his blood upon him, and his reproach shall his Lord return
unto him.
    
    The Prophet says first, that "Ephraim had provoked God by his
high places". Some, however, take the word "tamrurim" for
bitternesses. Then it is, "Israel or Ephraim have provoked God to
bitterness." But since this word in other places as in the
thirty-first of Jeremiah, is taken for high places and as it clearly
appears that the Prophet here inveighs avowedly against Israel and
their vicious worship, I doubt not but that he points out these high
places in which the Israelites appointed their false and impious
modes of worship. Ephraim then have provoked him with their high
places: Ephraim having in so many ways immersed themselves in their
superstitions, provoked God in their high places.
    Then "his blood shall remain on him". As the word "natash"
signifies "to pour out," and signifies also to "remain," some render
it, "His blood shall remain;" others "Shall be poured upon him." But
this makes but a little difference as to what is meant; for the
Prophet intends to show, that Ephraim would have to suffer the
punishment of their impiety; as though he said, "They shall not at
last escape from the hand of God, they shall receive the wages of
their iniquities."
    "And his reproach shall his Lord return unto him". Here he
calls God himself the Lord of Israel, though Israel had shaken off
the yoke, and alienated themselves from the service of God. They
cannot, he says, escape the authority of God, though they have
spurned his law; though they have become wanton in their
superstitions, they shall yet know that they remain under the hand
and power of God, they shall know that they effect nothing by this
their petulance; though they thus wander after their abominations,
yet the Lord will not lose his right, which he had obtained for
himself by redeeming Israel. Their Lord then shall render to them
their own reproach, of which they are worthy.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that as we have not only been created by thee,
but when thou hast placed us in this world, thou hast also enriched
us with abundance of all blessings, - O grant, that we may not
transfer to others the glory duo to thee, and that especially since
we are daily admonished by thy word, and even severely reproved, we
may not with an iron hardness resist, but render ourselves pliable
to thee, and not give ourselves up to our own devices, but follow
with true docility and meekness, that rule which thou hast
prescribed in thy word, until at length having put off all the
remains of errors, we shall enjoy that blessed light, which thou
hast prepared for us in heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.








Chapter 13.

Lecture Thirty-fourth.

Hosea 13:1
When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when
he offended in Baal, he died.

    Interpreters agree not in their view of this verse. Some say
that trembling was excited in Israel when Ephraim, that is,
Jeroboam, who was born of that tribe, exhorted the people to worship
the calves. By the word "ratat", "trembling," they understand, that
the people were so astonished, that they without thought immediately
obeyed the will, or rather the humour, of their impious king. And if
this sense be approved, the word, trembling, may be in another way
explained, even in this, - that the people did not immediately
embrace that perverted worship, but dreaded, as is wont to be the
case with regard to new things, and which seem to have nothing
reasonable in their favour. But these expounders wholly depart, in
my judgement, from the intention of the Prophet; for, on the
contrary, he sets forth here the twofold state of the kingdom of
Israel, that it might hence be manifest that the ten tribes had been
through their own fault rejected by the Lord, and had thus fallen
from that dignity unto which the Lord had raised them.
    He therefore says, "When Ephraim spake formerly, his voice
dreaded, and he raised himself in Israel"; that is, among the whole
race of Abraham. But now "he is dead", or is fallen, "after he has
begun to sin in Baal". Then, in the first sentence, the Prophet
records the honours with which God had favoured that tribe. Ephraim,
we know, was the younger of the sons of Joseph. Manasseh ought not
only to have had the pre-eminence, but also to have reigned alone in
that family; for the people were divided into twelve tribes. But God
intended to raise up two chiefs in the house of Joseph, and
preferred the younger to the first-begotten. Hence Ephraim, who had
increased in number and power, and had at length obtained the royal
dignity, ought to have acknowledged the singular favour of God. And
by way of reproach, the Prophet here says, that all trembled at the
single voice of Ephraim; that is, when he became endued with
authority, and then, that he was exalted in Israel. He ought to have
been deemed of no account, he ought to have been inferior to his
brother, who was the first-born, and yet he excelled all the tribes.
Since, then, God had conferred so much honour on the tribe of
Ephraim, the more grievous was his fault, that he afterwards had
fallen away unto idols; yea, that he began his reign with
superstition, when God was pleased to choose and anoint Jeroboam
king. And surely that he, when raised beyond all hope to the throne
by the hand of God, should, instead of testifying his gratitude,
immediately corrupt the whole worship of God, this was extremely
inconsistent.
    But the Prophet says, in the second place, that they "died"
from the time they had thus fallen away from true and lawful
worship, in order that they might understand that they received the
just reward of their impiety when God's hand was opposed to them,
when they were oppressed by adversity. We now perceive the obvious
meaning, of the Prophet to be, that the Israelites formerly
flourished, especially the tribe of Ephraim, from whom Jeroboam
arose, so that, by their voice alone, they subdued all their
neighbours, and that beyond the expectation of men, they suddenly
emerged and erected a new kingdom among the children of Abraham.
    He afterwards adds, that after "they had sinned by Baal, they
became dead": for God deprived the tribe of Ephraim of the power
with which he had before adorned him, so that they were but little
short of being destroyed. For though his kingdom had not wholly
fallen, it had yet come to such an extremity that the Prophet might
justly say that they, who were so far removed from their former
state, were dead. But when he says that they "sinned by Baal", he
does not mean that this was the beginning of their idolatry; for
Jeroboam at first made the calves, and it was his successor who
built Baal, and borrowed that superstition, as it is supposed, from
the neighbouring Sidonians. But God records here what is more
grievous, and less excusable, - that the Israelites polluted
themselves with the filth of the Gentiles, so that they differed
nothing from the profane and unbelieving, who had no acquaintance
with sound doctrine.
    We are moreover taught in this place, that when kings are
endued with any authority, when they are strong in power, all this
comes from God; for unless God strikes terror into men, no one would
receive the yoke of another, at least all would desire equality, or
one would raise himself above others. It is then certain, that when
any one excels among many in power, this is done through the secret
purpose of God, who constrains to order the common people, and
causes them not to deny obedience to the command of one man. This is
what Hosea now teaches, when he upbraids the tribe of Ephraim with
respect to this terror; for if Ephraim had been formidable through
his own power, there would have been no room for the Prophet's
reproof: but as this was the peculiar gift of God, the Prophet
justly says, that the tribe of Ephraim were in great honour until
they had fallen into superstition. Let us now proceed -

Hosea 13:2
And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of
their silver, [and] idols according to their own understanding, all
of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that
sacrifice kiss the calves.

    In this verse the Prophet amplifies the wickedness of the
people, and says, that they had not only in one day cast aside the
pure worship of God, and entangled themselves in superstitions; but
that they had been obstinate in their own depravity. "They have
added", he says, "to their sin, and have made a molten thing of
their silver". When Israel, as we have said, departed from the
worship of God, they made calves, and made them under a specious
appearance; but when many superstitions were added, one after
another, there was, as it were, an accumulation of madness, as if
the Israelites designedly wished to subvert the law of God, and to
show that they cared nothing for the only true God, by whom they had
been redeemed. This is the reason why the Prophet says that they
made progress in wickedness, and observed no moderation in sinning,
and this is what usually happens, unless God draws men back. As soon
as they fall away, they rush headlong into evil; for they take a
greater liberty in sinning, after they have turned their back on
God.
    Hence this reproof of the Prophet ought to be noticed, for he
inveighs against the obstinate wickedness of Israel; and says, that
"they made" for themselves "of their silver a molten thing". As we
have seen above, they abused the gifts of God by devoting to
superstition what the Lord had destined for their use. The end for
which God has bestowed silver, we know, is, that men may carry on
commerce with one another, and apply it also to other useful
purposes. But when they make to themselves gods of silver, there is
an astonishing stupidity in their ingratitude, for they pervert the
order of nature, and forget that silver is given for another end,
and that is as we have said for their use. The Prophet at the same
time intimates, that the Israelites were less excusable, inasmuch as
when they were enriched, they became proud of their wealth. Satiety,
we know, is the cause of wantonness, as, it will be shortly stated
again.
    But what the Prophet adds ought to be especially observed,
"According to their own understanding". Here he severely reproves
the Israelites, because they had not subordinated all their thoughts
to God, but, on the contrary, followed what pleased themselves. It
was then according to their own invention. The word which the
Prophet uses is not unsuitable, though "understanding," the word
which the Prophet adopts, is among the Hebrews taken in a good
sense. But what is treated of here is the worship of God, with
respect to which all the prudence, all the reason, all the wisdom of
men, and, in short, all their senses, ought to be suspended: for if,
in this case, they of themselves adopt any thing, be it ever so
little, they inevitably vitiate the worship of God. How so? Because
obedience, we know, is better than all sacrifices. This then is the
rule, as to the right worship of God, - that men must become
foolish, that they must not allow themselves to be wise, but that
they are only to give ear to God, and to follow what he commands.
But when men's presumption intrudes, so that they devise a new mode
of worship, they then depart from the true God, and worship mere
idols. The Prophet then by the word, "understanding," condemns here
whatever pleases the judgement and reason of men; as though he said,
"The true rule of religion, as to the worship of God, is, that
nothing human is to be mingled, that no one is to bring forward what
is his own, or what seems good to himself." In short, the
understanding of men is here opposed to the command of God; as
though the Prophet said, "One great difference between the true
worship of God and all fictitious and degenerated modes of worship,
is obedience to the word of God; if we be wise according to our own
judgement, all we do is corrupt." How so? Because whatever men
devise of themselves is a pollution of divine worship. Hence Paul,
in Col. 2, refutes all the fancies of men by this one argument,
"They are," he says, "the traditions of men, though they may have
the show of wisdom."
    We now apprehend what the Prophet meant, and why he added the
word "understanding;" it was, that the Israelites might learn, that
all the worship which was in use among them, was perverted and
vicious; for it was not founded on the command of God, but flowed
from a different source, even the understanding of men. It then
follows, as we have said before, that in religion nothing is to be
attempted by us, but we are to follow this one law in worshipping
God - simply to obey his word.
    He afterwards adds, "Idols, the work of artificers altogether".
The Prophet, in the second place, derides the grossness which had
fascinated the minds of the people, as they worshipped in the place
of God the works of men. For it is usual with all the Prophets, in
order to render the stupidity of men as it were palpable, to show
that it is wholly unreasonable to worship idols; for a material
cannot with any propriety be worshipped. When there is before us a
great mass or a great heap of gold or silver, no one imagines that
there is in it any divinity: when one passes through a wood, he
transfers not to trees the glory due to God; and the same may be
said of stones. But when the hand of the artificer is applied, the
plate of gold begins to be a god; so also the trunk of a tree seems
to put on the glory of God, when it receives a certain form from the
workman; and the same is the case with other things. Now it is
extremely absurd to suppose that an artificer, as soon as he has
hewn some wood, or as soon as he has melted gold or silver, can make
a god, and convey divinity to a dead thing; and yet it is well known
that this is thought everywhere to be the case. Superstitious men
allege in excuse, that this does not proceed from the hand of the
artificer, but that as they wish for some sign of God's presence,
and as they cannot otherwise set forth what God is, God is in that
form. But this still remains true, that workmen by their skill make
gods of lifeless things, to which no honour can belong. Since it is
so, the Prophet now justly says, that what the people of Israel
worshipped was the work of artifices; and he said this, that they
might know that they became shamefully foolish, when they left the
true God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and prostrated themselves
before idols made by hands.
    But he adds, that "they say to one another while they sacrifice
men, Let them kiss the calves". Though this place is in various ways
explained, I am yet content with the obvious meaning of the Prophet.
He again derides them for exhorting one another to worship the calf:
For by kissing he means by a figure a profession of worship or
adoration, as it is evident from other parts of Scripture. It is
said in 1 Kings 19, I have preserved for myself seven thousand men,
who have not bent the knee before Baal, nor kissed him. To kiss Baal
then was a sign of reverence. And this practice, we see, has been
retained by the superstitious, as the case is at this day with the
Papists, who observe this special custom of kissing their idols. But
what does the Prophet now say? "They encourage one another", he
says, "in the worship of the calves", and in the meantime "they
sacrifice men". The Prophet doubtless condemns here that abominable
and savage custom of parents sacrificing their children to Moloch.
It was utterly repugnant to the feeling of nature for parents to
immolate their own children. For though this was once commanded to
Abraham, we yet know that the design was, that God intended by this
proof to try the obedience of his servant: but Abraham was not at
last suffered to do what he purposed.
    They then immolated men. If it was right to sacrifice men,
surely such a service ought to have been rendered at least to the
only true God. If it was lawful to sacrifice man for the sake of
man, it was certainly ridiculous to do so to conciliate the calf;
and it was especially strange, when parents hesitated not to appease
dead statues by the blood of their children. This absurdity then the
Prophet now points out as with the finger, that he might try to make
the Israelites ashamed of their base conduct. "See," he says, "how
brutish ye are; for ye immolate to the calves and kiss them, and
more still, ye sacrifice men. Is there so much worthiness in the
calf, that man, who far excels it, must be killed before it? Is not
this wholly inconsistent with every thing like reason?" We now
understand what the Prophet meant. They say then one to another,
while they immolate men, Let them kiss the calves.
    But we learn from this and similar places, that we ought to
notice those absurdities in which wretched men involve themselves,
when they are lost in their own devices, after having left the word
of God: for this word is to be to us as a bridle to keep us from
going astray with them in their monstrous devices; for when we
observe these delirious things which even nature itself abhors, it
is evident that God thereby restrains and preserves us as it were by
his outstretched hand. With this design the Prophet now shows how
stupid the Israelites were, and how prodigious was their frenzy when
they kissed the calves with great reverence, and also sacrificed
men. So at this day with respect to those under the Papacy, we ought
not only to adopt this argument, that they departed from the true
God when they sought for themselves new and strange modes of
worship, without the warrant of his word, but we ought also to bear
in mind that their puerilities are to be ascribed to the same cause.
And we see how God has given them up to a reprobate mind, so that
they throw aside no kinds of absurdities. And this consideration, as
I have said, will serve to awaken those who are as yet healable,
when they understand that they have been infatuated; having been in
this manner admonished, they may return to the right way. And that
we ourselves may give thanks to God, and detest more and more that
filth in which we were for a time involved, and remember that there
is nothing more to be dreaded than that the Lord should allow us
loose reins, the very example of his vengeance as to all idolaters
is made known to us; for as soon as they departed from the pure
worship of God, they gave themselves up, as we have stated, to the
most shameful stupidity. Let us proceed -

Hosea 13:3
Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew
that passeth away, as the chaff [that] is driven with the whirlwind
out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney.

    The Prophet employs here four similitudes to show the condition
of Israel. How much soever they flourished for a time, and might be
deemed happy, their state would yet be fading and evanescent. "They
shall be", he says, "as the morning cloud": though they be loftily
proud, the Lord will yet shake off from them whatever power they may
have. Secondly, they shall be "as the dew that rises up in the
morning" - having nothing substantial in them. Thirdly they shall be
"as the chaff which from the floor is driven by a whirlwind". And,
lastly they shall be, he says, "as the smoke"; for as the smoke
produces thick darkness, and, after having gone out of the chimney,
disperses and disappears, so these proud people, how much soever
they may have praised themselves, would not continue in a permanent
condition.
    We hence conclude, that the Israelites were not so much like
the dead, but that yet they had some power remaining in them: for
God would have otherwise threatened to no purpose, that they should
be made like a cloud, and the dew, and the chaff, and the smoke: but
they had been already in a great measure consumed. And God denounces
on them here utter destruction, that they might not think that they
had already suffered the last punishment, and that they might not
suppose that they could gather new strength: for proud men entertain
vain confidence, through which they remove to a distance the
judgement of God. Lest, then, they should delude themselves with
such allurements, the Prophet here declares that their condition
would be fading, such as would soon come to ruin. It follows -

Hosea 13:4,5
Yet I [am] the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt
know no god but me: for [there is] no saviour beside me.
I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.
    
    The Prophet now repeats the sentence which we have noticed in
the last chapter for the sake of amplifying the sin of the people.
For had they never known sound doctrine, had they never been brought
up in the law, there would have been some colour for alleviating
their fault; because they might have excused themselves by saying,
that as they had never known true religion, they had gone astray
according to the common practice of men; but as they had from
infancy been taught sound doctrine, as God had brought them up as it
were in his own bosom, as they had learned from their first years
what it was to worship God purely, when they thus retook themselves
to the superstitions of the heathens, what could there be for an
excuse for them? We then see the bearing of the complaint, when God
says, that he had been "the God of Israel from the land of Egypt".
    "I am then", he says, "Jehovah your God". By calling himself
Jehovah, he glances at all their fictitious gods; as though he said
"I am doubtless justly, and in mine own rights your God; for I am of
myself - I am the Creator of the world, no one can take away my
power: but whence have these their divinity, except from the madness
of men?" He says further, "I am thy God", O Israel; that is, "I have
manifested myself to thee from the land of Egypt, from thy very
nativity. When I redeemed thee from Egypt I brought thee out as it
were from the womb to the light of life; for Egypt was to thee like
the grave. Thou didst then begin to live, and to be some sort of
people, when I stretched forth my hand to thee."
    And now also ought to be noticed what I have said before, that
the people were redeemed on this condition, that they should devote
themselves wholly to God. As we are at this day Christ's, and no one
of us ought to live according to his own will, for Christ died and
rose again for this end, that he might be the Lord of the living and
of the dead: so also then, the Israelites had been redeemed by God,
that they might offer themselves wholly to Him. And since God ruled
by this right over the people of Israel, how shameful and
inexcusable was their defections when the people wilfully abandoned
themselves to the superstitions of the Gentiles?
    "A God", he says, "besides me thou oughtest not to know". These
words the Prophet had not before used. This sentence, then, is
fuller, for it more clearly explains the import of what he had said,
that God had purchased Israel for himself by bringing them out of
Egypt, and that is, that Israel ought to have been content with this
one Redeemer, and not to seek for themselves other gods. A God,
then, besides me thou shalt not know. For if this one God was
sufficient for redeeming his people, what do the people now mean,
when they wander, and seek aid here and there? For they ought to
render to God the life received from him, which they now enjoy, and
ought to acknowledge to be sufficiently safe under his protection.
We now then see why this was added, Thou shalt not know a God
besides me.
    A reason, confirmatory of this, follows: "For no one, he says,
is a Saviour except me". The copulative "waw" ought to be regarded
here as a causative, For no one, &c., or, Surely no one is a Saviour
except me. And this is a remarkable passage; for we learn that the
worship of God does not consist in words, but in faith, and hope,
and prayer. The Papists of the present day think that they do not
profane the worship of God, though they fly to statues, though they
pray to dead men, though they look here and there for the
accomplishment of their hopes. How so? Because they ever retain the
only true God, that is, they do not ascribe the name of God to
Christopher or to Antony. The Papists think themselves free from all
blame, since God retains his own name. But we see how differently
the matter is regarded by the Lord. "I am," he says, "the only true
God." How is this? "Because I am the only Saviour: feign not to
thyself another God, for thou shalt find none that will save thee."
Then God puts an especial value on the honour that is due to him
from hope and prayer; that is, when our soul recumbs on him alone,
and when we seek and hope for salvation from no other but from him.
We see then how useful is the doctrine contained in this passage, in
which the Prophet clearly shows, that the Israelites acted absurdly
and shamefully when they formed another god for themselves, for no
Saviour, except the one true God, can be found.
    He afterwards adds "Thee I knew in the desert, in the land of
droughts". God here confirms the truth that the Israelites had acted
very absurdly in having turned their minds to other gods, for he
himself had known them. The knowledge here mentioned is twofold,
that of men, and that of God. God declares that he had a care for
the people when they were in the desert; and he designates his
paternal solicitude by the term, knowledge: I knew thee; that is, "I
then chose thee a people for myself, and familiarly manifested
myself to thee, as if thou were a near friend to me. But then it was
necessary that I should have been also known by thee." This is the
knowledge of men. Now when men are known by God, why do they not
apply all their faculties, so that they may remain fixed on him? For
when they divert them to other objects, they extinguish, as much as
they can, this benefit of God. So also Paul speaks to the Galatians,
'After ye have known God, or rather after ye are known by him,'
(Gal. 4: 9.) In the first clause, he shows that they had done very
wickedly in retaking themselves to various devices after the light
of the gospel had been offered to them: but he increases their sin
by the next clause, when he says, 'Rather after ye are known by
him;' as though he said, "God has anticipated you by his gratuitous
goodness. Since, then, God has thus first known you, and first
favoured you with his grace, how great and how shameful is now your
ingratitude in not seeking to know him in return?" We now then see
why the Prophet added that the Israelites had been known by God in
the desert, in the land of droughts.
    And there is an express mention made of "the desert": for it
was then necessary for the people to be sustained miraculously by
the Lord; for except God had rained manna from heaven, and had also
given water for drink, the people must have miserably perished.
Since, then God had thus supported the people contrary to the usual
course of nature, so that without his paternal care there could have
been no hope of life, the Prophet now rightly adds, In the desert,
in the land of droughts; that is, in that dry solitude, where not a
grain of corn grew, so that the people could not live except God
had, as it were, with his own hand, given them meat, and put it in
their mouth. We now see that the extreme impiety of the people is
here manifestly proved; for having been taught in God's law, and
been encouraged by so many benefits, they yet went astray after
profane superstitions. And the Prophet, at the same time, adds -

Hosea 13:6
According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled,
and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me.

    The Prophet shows here that the people were in every way
intractable. He has indeed handled this argument in other places;
but the repetition is not superfluous. After he had said that the
people were ungrateful in not continuing in the service of their
Redeemer, by whom they had been so kindly and bountifully treated in
the desert, where they must have perished through famine and want,
had not the Lord in an unwonted manner brought them help in their
great necessity, he now adds, "The Lord would have also allured you
by other means, had you not been of a wholly wild and barbarous
disposition: but it is hence manifest, that you are utterly
disobedient; for after you have been brought out of the desert, you
came to rich pastures." For the land of Israel is here compared to
rich and fertile pastures; as though he said, "God has placed you in
an inheritance where you might eat to the full, as when a shepherd
leads his sheep to a spot especially fertile." What did take place?
"To their pastures they came, and were filled; they were filled, and
elevated became their heart, and they forgat me".
    Since, then, the Israelites had extinguished the memory of
their redemption, after the Lord had fed them when hungry in the
desert, and since in their fulness they rejected God, and shook off
his yoke, and, like ferocious horses, kicked against him, it became
evident that their nature was so unnameable, that they could by no
means be reduced to obedience or submission. We shall defer the rest
till tomorrow.

Prayer.

Grant, Almighty God, that as thou dost so kindly call on us daily by
thy voice, meekly and calmly to offer ourselves to be ruled by thee,
and since thou hast exalted us to a high degree of honour by freeing
us from the dread of the devil, and from that tyranny which kept us
in miserable fear, and hast also favoured us with the Spirit of
adoption and of hope, - O grant, that we, being mindful of these
benefits, may ever submit ourselves to thee, and desire only to
raise our voice for this end, that the whole world may submit itself
to thee, and that those who seem now to rage against thee may at
length be brought, as well as we, to render thee obedience, so that
thy Son Christ may be the Lord of all, to the end that thou alone
mayest be exalted, and that we may be made subject to thee, and be
at length raised up above, and become partakers of that glory which
has been obtained for us by Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lecture Thirty-fifth.
    
    We observed in our yesterday's lecture, that the Israelites
were condemned, because they were, when fed in rich pastures, like
mettlesome horses; and this is what commonly happens. And even Moses
foretold this in his song, 'My chosen, having become fat, kicked
against me,' (Deut. 32: 15.) What the Prophet said was now
fulfilled; fulness had produced ferocity in the people of Israel.
"According to their pastures, he says, they were filled; they were
satiated, and their heart was elevated". Ezekiel declares the same
of Sodom; when their stomach was well filled they became proud,
(Ezek. 16: 49.) But the Prophet speaks there of their cruelty
towards men; for he says, that the Sodomites, while abounding in all
blessings, were full of cruelty, so that they contemptuously
despised the poor. But the prophet condemns here a worse thing in
the people of Israel, for their heart was inflated with pride
against God.
    And there is, in the last place, a mention made of their
forgetfulness of God. It is impossible, when men are blinded by a
wilful self-confidence, but that they will cast aside every fear of
God and every concern for religion. And this passage teaches us,
that we ought to use our abundance temperately and frugally, and
that we ought, in the first place, beware lest the bounty of God
should introduce a forgetfulness of him. For it is an extreme
perversion, that when the more largely God pours his gifts upon us,
our hearts should be more narrow, and that his benefits should be
like veils to cover our eyes. We ought then to labour, that the
benefits of God may, on the contrary, renew the recollection of him
in our minds: and then, as I have said, let moderation and frugality
be added. Let us now proceed -

Hosea 13:7,8
Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way
will I observe [them]:
I will meet them as a bear [that is] bereaved [of her whelps], and
will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like
a lion: the wild beast shall tear them.

    The Prophet denounces again on the Israelites the vengeance of
God; and as they were become torpid through their own flatteries, as
we have already often observed, he here describes the terrible
judgement of God, that he might strike fear into the obstinate, so
that they might at length perceive that they had to do with God, and
begin to dread his power. And this, as we have said, was very
necessary, when the Prophets intended to awaken hypocrites; for self-
confidence so inebriates them, that they hesitate not to despise a11
the threatenings of God: and this is the reason why he adopts these
three similitudes. He first compares God to a lion, then to a
leopard, and then to a bear. "I will be, he says, like a lion, like
a leopard, and then like a bear". God, we know, is in his own nature
merciful and kind; when he says that he will be like a lion, he puts
on as it were another character; but this is done on account of
men's wickedness, as it is said in Ps. 18, 'With the gentle, thou
wilt be gentle; with the perverse, thou wilt be perverse.' For,
though God speaks sharply and severely through his Prophet, he yet
expresses what we ought to remember, and that is, that he thus
speaks, because we do not allow him to treat us according to his own
nature, that is, gently and kindly; and that when he sees us to be
obstinate and unnameable, he then contends with us (so to speak)
with the like contumacy; not that perversity properly belongs to
God, but he borrows this similitude from men, and for this reason,
that men may not continue to flatter themselves when he is
displeased with them. I shall therefore be like a lion, like a
leopard in the way.
    As to the word "Assur", interpreters take it in various ways.
Some render it, Assyria, though it is here written with Kamets: but
the Hebrews consider it as an appellative, not the name of a place
or country. Some again render it thus, "I will look on them," and
derive it from "shur", and take aleph, as designative of the future
tense. Others derive it from "asher", and will have it to be in the
conjugation Pual: and here they differ again among themselves. Some
render it, "I will lay in wait for them:" and others think it to be
"Shoar", "I will be a layer in wait like a leopard." But this
variety, with regard to the meaning of the passage, is of but little
moment; for we see the drift of the Prophet's object. He intends
here to take away from hypocrites their vain confidence, and to
terrify them with the apprehension of God's vengeance which was
impending. He therefore says that though God had hitherto spared
them, nay, had in a manner kindly cherished them, yet since they
continued to provoke his wrath, their condition would soon be very
different; for he would come against them like a lion; that is, he
would leap on them with the greatest fury; he would also be like a
leopard: and a leopard, we know, is a very cruel beast: and, lastly,
he compares him to a bereaved she-bear, or, a bereaved bear.
    But he afterwards adds, "I will rends or will tear, the
inclosure" of their heart. They who understand the enclosure of the
heart to be their obstinate hardness, seem to refine too much on the
words of the Prophet. We know, indeed, that the Prophets sometimes
use this mode of speaking; for they call that a hard heart, or a
heart covered with fatness, which is not pliant, and does not
willingly receive sound doctrine. But the Prophet rather alludes to
the savageness of the bear, when he says, I will rend or tear in
pieces the membrane of the heart, and will devour you as a lion. For
it is the most cruel kind of death, when the lion with his claws and
teeth aims at the heart itself and tears the bowels of man. The
Prophet therefore intended to set forth this most cruel kind of
death. "I will therefore," he says, "tear asunder the pericardium,
or the enclosure of the heart." I do not at the same time say, that
the Prophet does not allude to the hardness of the people, while he
retains his own similitude.
    And "the beast of the field shall rend them". He speaks now
without a similitude; for God means that all the wild beasts would
be his ministers to execute his judgement. "I will then send all the
beasts of the field to rend and tear them, so that nothing among
them shall remain safe." We now see the purport of this passage, and
to what use it ought to be applied. If we are by nature so slothful,
yea, and careless, and when God does not stir us up, we indulge our
own delusions, we ought to notice those figurative representations
which tend to shake off from us our tardiness and show to us how
dreadful the judgement of God is. For the same purpose are those
metaphors respecting the eternal fire and the worm that never dies.
For Gods seeing the feelings of men to be so torpid has in Scripture
applied those things which may correct their sluggishness. Whenever
then God puts on a character not his own, let us know that it is
through our fault; for we suffer him not to deal with us according
to his own nature, inasmuch as we are intractable. Let us go on -

Hosea 13:9-11

9 O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me [is] thine help.
10 I will be thy king: where [is any other] that may save thee in
all thy cities? and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king
and princes?
11 I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took [him] away in my
wrath.

    In the first place, God upbraids the Israelites for having in
their perverseness rejected whatever was offered for their safety:
but he proceeds farther and says, that they were past hope, and that
there was a hidden cause which prevented God from helping them, and
bringing them aid when they laboured under extreme necessity. "He
has destroyed thee, Israel", he says. Some consider the word, calf,
to be understood, "The calf has destroyed thee:" but this is
strained. Others think that there is a change of person: and I am
inclined to adopt this opinion, as this mode of speaking we know, is
very common: Destroyed thee has Israel; thou art the cause of thine
own destruction, or, "Israel has destroyed himself." Though then
there is here a verb of the third person, and there is afterwards
added an affixed pronoun at the second person, we may yet thus
render the passage, "Israel has destroyed himself." At the same
time, when I weigh more fully every particular, this passage, I
think, would be better and more fitly explained by being taken
indefinitely: "Something has destroyed thee, Israel:" as though he
said, "Inquire now who has destroyed thee." God then does not here
name Israel as the author, nor does he point out any as the author
of their ruin; but yet he shows that Israel was lost, and that the
cause of their destruction was to be sought in some one else, and
not in him. This is the meaning. Then it is, "Something has
destroyed thee, Israel; for in me was thy help". God shows and
proves that Israel, who had been hitherto preserved, is now
destroyed through their own fault; for God had once adopted the
people, and for this end, that he might continue to show his favour
towards them. If then the wickedness and ingratitude of the people
had not hindered, God would have been doubtless always like himself,
and his goodness towards that people would have flowed in a
continuous and uniform stream.
    This is what he means in the second clause, when he says, "In
me was thine help"; by which he seems to say, "How comes it, and
what is the reason, that I do not now help thee according to my
usual manner? Thou hast indeed found me hitherto to be thy
deliverer: though thou hast often struggled with great and grievous
dangers, I was yet never wanting to thee; thou hast ever found from
me a prompt assistance. How comes it now that I have cast thee away,
that thou criest in vain, and that no one brings thee any help? How
comes it, that thou art thus forsaken, and receives no relief
whatever from my hand, as thou hast been wont to do? And doubtless I
should never be wanting to thee, if thou wouldest allow me; but thou
closest the door against me, and by thy wickedness spurnest my
favour, so that it cannot come to thee. It then follows, that thou
art now destroyed through thy own fault: "Something then has
destroyed thee." He speaks here indefinitely; but this suspended way
of expression is more emphatical when he shows that Israel was
without reason astonished, and had also without reason expostulated
with God. "There is then no ground for contending with God, as if he
had frustrated thy expectation, and despised thy desires and crying;
God indeed is consistent with himself, for he is not changeable;" as
though he said, "Their perdition is from another cause, and they
ought to know that there is some hindrance, why God should not
extend his hand to help them, as he has hitherto usually done."
    We now perceive the mind of the Prophet: he in the first place
records what God had been hitherto to the people; and then he takes
for granted that he does not change, but that he possesses a uniform
and unwearied goodness. But since he had hitherto helped his people,
he concludes, that Israel was destroyed through some other cause,
inasmuch as God brought him no aid; for unless Israel had
intercepted God's goodness, it would have certainly flowed as usual.
It then appears that its course was impeded by the wickedness of the
people; for they put as it were an obstacle in its way.
    And this passage teaches us, that men in vain clamour against
God in their miseries: for he would be always ready to help them,
were they not to spurn the favour offered to them. Whenever then God
does not help us in our necessity, and suffers us to languish, and
as it were to pine away in our afflictions, it is doubtless so,
because we are not disposed to receive his favour, but, on the
contrary, we obstruct its way; as it is said by Isaiah, "Shortened
is not the Lord's hand, that it cannot save, nor is my ear heavy,
that it does not hear. Your sins, he says, have set up a mound
between you and me," (Isa. 59: 1, 2.) To the same purpose are the
words of the Prophet here when he says, that we ought to inquire
what the cause of our destruction is, when the Lord does not
immediately deliver us: for as he has once given us a taste of his
goodness so he will continue to do the same to the end; for he is
not wearied in his kindness, nor can his bounty be exhausted. The
fault then belongs to us. We hence see how remarkable is this
passage, and what useful instruction it contains.
    He afterwards more fully confirms the same by saying, "I will
be"; and then he says, "Thy king, where is he?" By saying, 'I will
be,' God retreats what he had before declared, that he would always
be the same; for, as James says 'No overshadowing happens to him,'
(James 1: 17.) Hence 'I will be;' that is, "Though the Israelites
rail against me, that I do not pursue my usual course of kindness,
it is yet most false; for I remain ever the same, and am always
ready to show kindness to men; for I do not, as I have elsewhere
declared, forsake the works of my hands, (Ps. 138: 8.) Seeing then
that I thus continue my favour towards men, it must be that the way
to my favour is closed up by their wickedness. Let them therefore
examine themselves, when they cry and I answer not. When in their
evils they in a manner pine away, and find no relief, let them
acknowledge it to be their own fault; for I would have made myself
the same as ever I have been, and they would have found me a
deliverer, had not a change taken place in them." We now comprehend
the meaning of the Prophet in the ninth verse, and as to the
expression, "'ehi", I will be, in the verse which follows.
    He then says, "Where is thy king? God again reproaches the
Israelites for having reposed their confidence in their king and
other earthly helps, by which they thought themselves to have been
well fortified. "Where is thy king?" he says. He derides the
Israelites; for they saw that their king was now stripped of every
power to help, and that all their princes were destitute both of
prudence and of all other means. Since then there was no protection
from men, the Prophet shows now that Israel had but a vain trust,
when they thought themselves safe under the shadow of their king,
when they considered themselves secure as long as they were governed
by prudent men. All these things, he says, are vain. But we must
ever bear in mind what he had said before "I will be"; for had not
this shield been set up, hypocrites would have ever said in return,
"Where now is God? What is his purpose? Why does he delay?" Hence
God mentioned before that he was ready to help them, but that they
by their wickedness had closed up the way.
    But he further derides them for having in vain placed their
hope and their help in their king and princes. "Where is thy king,
he says, that he may save thee in all thy cities?" It is not without
reason that the Prophet mentions cities, because the Israelites
despised all threatening, while their cities were on every side
unassailable and strong to keep out enemies. Hence when God
threatened them by his Prophets, they regarded what was said to them
as fables, and thus defended themselves, "How can enemies assail us?
Though there were hundred wars nigh at hand, have we not cities
which can resist the onsets of enemies? We shall therefore dwell in
safety, and enjoy our pleasures, though God should shake heaven and
earth." Since then they were so inebriated with this false
confidence, the Prophet now says, "I know that you excel in having
great and many cities; but as you deem them as your protection, God
will show that this hope is vain and deceptive. Where then is thy
king that he may save thee in thy cities? And though thy king be
well furnished with an army and with defences, it will yet avail
thee nothing, when God shall once rise up against thee."
    But he subjoins, "And thy judges of whom thou hast said, Give
me a king and princes?" Here the Prophet ascends higher; for he
shows that the people of Israel had not only sinned in this respect,
that they had placed their hope in their king, and in other helps;
but that they had also chosen for themselves a king, whom God had
not approved. For David, we know, was anointed for this end, that he
might unite together the whole body of the people; and God intended
that his Church and chosen people should remain under one head, that
they might be safe. It was therefore an impious separations when the
ten tribes wished for themselves a new king. How so? Because a
defection from the kingdom of David was as it were a denial of God.
For if it was said to Samuel, 'Thee have they not rejected, but me,
that I should not reign over them,' (1 Sam. 8: 7,) it was certainly
more fully verified as to David. We now then see what the Prophet
meant: after having inveighed against the false confidence of the
people for thinking that they were safe through the power of their
king, he now adds, "I will advance to another source: for thou didst
not then begin to sin, when thou didst transfer the glory of God to
the king, but when thou didst wish to have a kingdom of thine own,
being not content with that kingdom which he had instituted in the
person of David." The Prophet does now then accuse the people of
defection, when a new king, that is, Jeroboam, was elected by them.
For though it was done according to the certain purpose of God, as
we have elsewhere observed, yet this availed nothing to alleviate
the fault of the people; for they, as far as they could, renounced
God. As the foot, if cut off from the body, is not only a mutilated
and useless member, but immediately putrefies; so also was Israel,
being like a half part of a torn and mutilated body; and they must
have become putrified, had they not been miraculously preserved. But
at the same time God here justly condemns that defection, that
Israel, by desiring a new king, had broken asunder the sacred unity
of the Church and introduced an impious separation.
    These are "the princes, of whom thou hast said, Give me a king
and princes. I gave to thee in my wrath, and took away in my fury";
that is "It was a cursed beginning, and it shall be a cursed end;
for the election of Jeroboam was not lawful; but through an impious
wilfulness, the people then rebelled against me, when they revolted
from the family of David." Nothing successful could then proceed
from so inauspicious a beginning. For it is only then an auspicious
token, when we obey God, when his Spirit presides over our counsels,
when we ask at his mouth, and when we begin with prayer to him. But
when we despise the word of God, and give loose reins to our own
humour, and fix on whatever pleases us, it cannot be but that an
unhappy and disastrous issue will follow. God therefore says, that
he gave them a king in his wrath; as though he said, "Ye think that
you have done nobly, when Jeroboam was raised to the throne, that he
might become eminent: for the kingdom of Judah was then far inferior
to that of Israel, which not only excelled in power, but also in the
number of its subjects. Ye think that you were then happy, because
Jeroboam ruled over you: but he was given you in the anger and wrath
of God," saith the Prophet. "But God commanded Jeroboam to be
anointed." True, it was so: but this, says God, I did in my wrath;
and now I will take away in my fury; that is, "I will deprive you of
that kingdom which I see is the cause of your blindness. For if that
kingdom remains entire, I shall be nothing, the authority of my word
will be of no weight among you. It is then necessary that this
kingdom should be wholly subverted; for ye began to be unhappy as
soon as ye sought a new king."
    We now understand what the Prophet means. At the same time, we
learn from this passage, that God so executes his judgements, that
whatever evil there is, it ought to be ascribed to men. For the
raising of Jeroboam to the kingdom, we certainly allow to have been
rash and unjust; for thereby was violated that celestial decree made
known to David, "My Son art thou, I have this day begotten thee. Ask
of me, and I will give thee the Gentiles,' &c., (Psal. 2: 8.) But
who appointed Jeroboam to be king? The Lord himself. How could it
be, that God raised Jeroboam to the throne, and that he yet by his
decree set David, not only over the children of Abraham, but also
over the Gentiles, with reference to Christ who was to come? God
seems here to be inconsistent with himself. By no means; for when he
set David over his chosen people, it was a lawful appointment: but
when he raised Jeroboam to the throne, it was a singular judgement;
so that in God there is no inconsistency. The people at the same
time, who by their suffrages adopted Jeroboam and made him their
king, acted impiously and perversely. "Yet God seems to have
directed the whole by his providence." True; for before the people
knew any thing of the new king, God had already determined to elect
him and resolved also to punish in this way the defection and
ingratitude of Solomon. All these things are true, that is, that God
by his secret counsel had directed the whole business, and yet that
he had no participation in the sin of the people.
    Thus let us learn wisely to admire the secret judgements of
God, and not imitate those profane cavillers, who make a great
noise, because they cannot understand how God thus makes use of
wicked men, and how he directs for the best end what is done by men
wickedly and foolishly. As they do not perceive this, they conclude
that if the Lord governs all things, he must be the author of sin.
But the Scripture, as we see, when it speaks of the wrath and fury
of God, does at the same time set forth to us his rectitude in all
his judgements, and distinguishes between God and men, even as the
difference is great; for God does not turn the perverse designs of
men to answer their own ends - he is a just judge. And yet his
purpose is not always apparent to us: it is, however, our duty
reverently and with chastened minds to admire and adore those
mysteries which surpass our comprehension. It follows -

Hosea 13:12,13
The iniquity of Ephraim [is] bound up; his sin [is] hid.
The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he [is] an
unwise son; for he should not stay long in [the place of] the
breaking forth of children.

    He says, first, that "sealed is the iniquity of Ephraim", and
that "hidden is his sin"; by which words he means, that hypocrites
in vain flatter themselves while God suspends his vengeance; for
though he may connive for a time, yet he does not sleep; nor ought
it to be believed that he is blind, but he seals up the sins of men,
and keeps them inclosed until the proper time for revealing them
shall come. This is the chief point; but the Prophet has expressed
something more. For as Jeremiah says, 'The sin of Judah is written
with a pen of iron, with the point of a diamond,' (Jer. 17: 1;) so
now also does Hosea say, that the iniquity of Ephraim was sealed up.
For writings may perish, when they spread abroad: but what is laid
up and put under a seal always remains. What, then, Hosea now means
is, that the people flattered themselves in vain, while a truce was
granted them; for the Lord kept their sins under his seal; as though
he said "God forgets not your iniquity: as he, however, spares you
only for a time, it would be far better to suffer immediate
punishment, for thus the memory of your sin would pass away; but he
now carefully keeps all your iniquities as it were under seal, and
your sins are laid up in store."
    We now see that what the Prophet means in this verse is, that
the Israelites had made such advances in their sins, that now no
pardon or remission could be hoped for. "God then shall never be
propitious to you, for your sin is sealed up." And this sentence
applies to all those who disguise themselves before God, when he
does not severely treat them, but, on the contrary, kindly sustains
and bears with them. Since, then, they thus disappointed his
forbearance, it was necessary that this should befall them, that he
should seal up their iniquities, and keep inclosed their sina.
    He afterwards says, that the "sorrows of one in travail would
come" on this proud and rebellious people. He pursues the same
subject, but under another figure; for by the sorrows of one in
travail he points out the sudden destruction which befalls careless
men. And this mode of speaking is common in Scripture. There will
come then the sorrows of one in travail on these men; that is, "As
they promise to themselves continual peace, and are now awakened by
any threatenings, and as they proudly despise both my hand and my
word, a sudden destruction shall crush them." Thus much as to the
beginning of the verse, There shall come on them the sorrows of one
in travail.
    He then adds, "He is an unwise son", that is, he is altogether
foolish. Here God reprobates the extreme madness of the people of
Israel, as though he had said, "If any particle of sound
understanding remained in this people, they would at least perceive
the judgement which is impending; and there would then be some hope
of a remedy: but this people are now wholly infatuated." And this
proves their folly, for they ought not, he says, to stay in the
breaking forth of children. This clause, however, some interpreters
explain thus, "The time will come, they will not stay in the
breaking forth of children." But rather the contrary is meant by the
words; for the Prophet means, that when the time of birth came, the
people would stop in the breaking forth; which they would not do,
were they endued with a right and sound mind.
    It must be noticed, that the Prophet alludes to the time of
birth; for he had said before, that the sorrows of one in travail
would come on the people of Israel; he now declares that these
sorrows would be filial. Though a woman be in labour and in great
danger in giving birth, she is yet freed in a moment, and as Christ
says, joy and gladness arise from that sorrow, (John 16: 21.) But
the Prophet says that this bringing forth would be very different;
for it would be an abortion, and the child would be retained to
putrefy in the womb. If a woman in the very birth restrains effort
and shrinks in her strength, she destroys the child and herself at
the same time; for she cannot bring forth without exertion. Since
then the safety of the woman depends on the exertion made, the
Prophet now says, that the contrary would be the case with the
people of Israel. They are, he says, like a woman in travail; but
they are at the same time blinded with folly, for they retain the
child in the womb and make no effort: so this parturition must at
last be fatal to them. Why? Because they make no effort to bring
forth the child.
    THE Prophet by these figurative representations no doubt
glances at the obstinate hardness of the people; for when they ought
to bewail and humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, we
know how perversely they hardened themselves against all punishment.
Since, then, this people did thus as it were champ the bridle, and
at the same time make hard their heart, partly by their fierce
temper, partly by stupidity, partly by desperation, it was no wonder
that the Prophet said that they were an unwise and insane people,
for "they stayed at the breaking forth of children"; that is they
made no effort to obtain the wished-for end to their evils. For when
the Lord afflicts us, and we bring forth, this bringing forth is our
deliverance. Now, how can there be deliverance except we hate
ourselves for our sins, except we raise up our minds to God, and
thus open a passage for God's grace? But when we oppose God
pertinaciously through our fierceness and stupidity, it is the same
as if one closed up every avenue. We now then see how appropriate is
this metaphor used by the Prophet, when he says that the people were
mad; for when the time of bringing, forth came, they stayed in the
breaking forth; that is, at the opening of the womb, for this is
what the Prophet means by the word. Since then they stayed in the
very opening, and restrained, as it were, every effort, and ceased
from all strivings, they must have perished. We now see what the
obstinacy of men produces when they harden themselves, when they
thus contracts as it were, within narrow limits their heart and mind
and all their faculties. For when a woman who is in travail
restrains all efforts, she wilfully seeks death for herself: so they
do the same who harden themselves against all punishments, and
especially when the time of birth is come; and to this the word,
breaking forth, refers: for when the Lord strikes us not only once,
but continues to lay on us many stripes, so that we must either
repent or perish for ever, it is the ripened time for bringing
forth; for God then leads us to an extremity, and nothing remains
for us but to humble ourselves under his mighty hand or to perish.
The Prophet then calls that condition, the breaking forth, in which
obstinate men continue, who will not obey God. It is necessary to
join with these verses the two which follow: this I shall do
to-morrow.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that as thou hast given us thy only begotten
Son to rule us, and hast by thy good pleasure consecrated him a King
over us, that we may be perpetually safe and secure under his hand
against all the attempts of the devil and of the whole world,- O
grant, that we may suffer ourselves to be ruled by his authority,
and so conduct ourselves, that he may ever continue to watch for our
safety: and as thou hast committed us to him, that he may be the
guardian of our salvation, so also suffer us not either to turn
aside or to fall, but preserve us ever in his service, until we be
at length gathered into that blessed and everlasting kingdom, which
has been procured for us by the blood of thy only Son. Amen.
    
    
Lecture Thirty-sixth.

Hosea 13:14
I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them
from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy
destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.

    The Prophet, I doubt not, continues here the same subject,
namely, that the Israelites could not bear the mercy offered to them
by God, though he speaks here more fully. God seems to promise
redemption, but he does this conditionally: they are then mistaken,
in my judgement, who take these words in the same sense as when God,
after having reproved and threatened, mitigates the severity of his
instruction, and adds consolation by offering his grace. But the
import of this passage is different; for God, as we have already
said, does not here simply promise salvation, but shows that he is
indeed ready to save, but that the wickedness of the people, as it
has been said, was an impediment in the way. Let us, however, more
carefully examine the words.
    "From the hand of the grave", he says. By the hand he doubtless
means power: for Jerome does nothing but trifle, when he speaks here
of works, and says that the works of the grave are our sins. But
this is far away from the mind of the Prophet. It is indeed a
metaphor common in Scripture, that the hand is put for power or
authority. Then it is, "I will redeem them from the power of the
grave, I will redeem them from death"; that is, except they resist,
I will become willingly their Redeemer. Some have therefore rendered
the passage in the subjunctive mood, "From the hand of the grave I
would redeem them, from death I would deliver them." But there is no
need to change the tense, though, as I have said, they who do so
faithfully set forth the design of the Prophet. But lest any one say
that this is too remote from the words, the text of the Prophet may
be very well understood, though the future tense be preserved. "I
will then redeem them", as far as this depends on me; for a
condition is to be introduced as though God came forth and declared
that he was present to fulfil the office of a Redeemer. What, then,
does stand in the way? Even the hardness of the people; for they
would have preferred to perish a hundred times rather than to turn
to the Lord, as we shall presently see.
    He afterwards adds, "I will be thy perdition, O death; I will
be thy excision, O grave". By these words, the Prophet more
distinctly sets forth the power of God, and magnificently extols it,
lest men should think that there is no way open to him to save, when
no hope according to the judgement of the flesh appears. Hence the
Prophet says, "Though men are now dead, there is yet nothing to
prevent God to quicken them. How so? For he is the ruin of death,
and the excision of the grave;" that is, "Though death should
swallow up all men, though the grave should consume them, yet God is
superior to both death and the grave, for he can slay death, for he
can abolish the grave." We now perceive the real meaning of the
Prophet.
    And we may learn from this passage, that when men perish, God
still continues like himself, and that neither his power, by which
he is mighty to save the world, is extinguished, nor his purpose
changed, so as not to be always ready to help; but that the
obstinacy of men rejects the grace which has been provided, and
which God willingly and bountifully offers. This is one thing. We
may secondly learn, that the power of God is not to be measured by
our rule: were we lost a hundred times, let God be still regarded as
a Saviour. Should then despair at any time so cast us down, that we
cannot lay hold on any of God's promises, let this passage come to
our minds, which says, that God is the excision of death, and the
destruction of the grave. "But death is nigh to us, what then can we
hope for any more?" This is to say, that God is not superior to
death: but when death claims so much power over men, how much more
power has God over death itself? Let us then feel assured that God
is the destruction of death, which means that death can no more
destroy; that is, that death is deprived of that power by which men
are naturally destroyed; and that though we may lie in the grave,
God is yet the excision of the grave itself. This is the application
of what is here taught. But some one gives this version, "I will be
thy perdition to death," as if this was addressed to the people: it
is an absurd perversion of the whole passage, and deprives us of a
most useful doctrine.
    But many interpreters, thinking this passage to be quoted by
Paul, have explained what is here said of Christ, and have in many
respects erred. They have said first, that God promises redemption
here without any condition; but we see that the design of the
Prophet was far different. They have then assumed, that this is said
in the person of Christ, "From the hand of the grave will I redeem
them." They have at the same time thought, with too much refinement,
that [the grave or] hell is put for the torments with which the
reprobate are visited, or for the place itself where they are
tormented. But the Prophet repeats the same thing in different
words, and well known is this character of the Hebrew style. The
grave then here differs not from death; though Jerome labours and
contends that the grave means what is wholly different from death:
but the whole of what he says is frivolous. They have then been
deceived as to these words. And then into the words of the Prophet
"I will be thy excision, O hell, (or grave,") they have introduced
the word, bait, and have allegorically explained it of Christ, that
he was like a hook: for as a worm, when fastened to the hook, and
swallowed by a fish, becomes death to it; so also Christ, as they
have said, when committed to the sepulchre, became a fatal bait; for
as the fish are taken by the hook, so death was taken by the bait of
the death of Christ. And these vain subtilties have been received
with great applause: hence under the whole Papacy it is received
without doubt as a divine truth, that Christ was the bait of death.
But yet let any one narrowly examine the words of the Prophet, and
he will see that they have ignorantly and shamefully abused the
testimony of the Prophet. And we ought especially to take care, that
the meaning of Scripture should be preserved true and certain.
    But let us see what to answer to that which is said of Paul
quoting this passage. The solution is not difficult. The Apostles do
not avowedly at all times adduce passages, which in their whole
context apply to the subject they handle; but sometimes they allude
to a word only, sometimes they apply a passage to a subject in the
way of resemblance, and sometimes they bring forward passages as
testimonies. When the Apostles use the testimonies of Scripture,
then the genuine and real truth must be sought out; but when they
glance only at one word, there is no occasion to make any anxious
inquiry; and when they quote any passage of Scripture in the way of
resemblance, it is a too scrupulous anxiety to seek out how all the
parts agree. But it is quite evident that Paul, in 1 Cor. 15, has
not quoted the testimony of the Prophet for the purpose of
confirming the doctrine of which he speaks. What then? As the
resurrection of the flesh was a truth very difficult to be believed,
nay, wholly contrary to the judgement of nature, Paul says that it
is no matter of wonder, inasmuch as Christ will come to raise us.
How so? Because it is the peculiar prerogative of God to be the
perdition of death and the destruction of the grave; as though he
said, "Were men to putrefy a thousand times, God would still retain
that power of which he declared when he said, that he would be the
ruin of death and the destruction of the grave." Let us then know,
that, though the judgement of nature rejects the truth, yet God is
endued with that incomprehensible power by which he can raise us
from a state of putrefaction; nay, since he created the world from
nothing, he will also raise us up from the grave, for he is the
death of death, the grave of the grave, the ruin of ruin, and the
destruction of destruction: and the simple object of Paul is, to
extol by these striking words that incredible power of God, which is
beyond the reach of human understanding.
    Now were any one to quote for the same purpose this place from
the Psalms, "The Lord's are the issues of death, (Psalm 68: 20,)
would it be needful to inquire in what sense David said this or of
what time he speaks? By no means; but what is spoken of is the
unchangeable prerogative and power of God, of which he can never be
deprived, so also in this place we see what he declares by Hosea,
and what he would have done, had there not been an obstacle in the
ingratitude of the people; for he says "I will be thy ruin, O grave;
I will be thy death, O death". And since God has promised this, let
us feel assured that we shall at last find this to be true as to
ourselves. We now then perceive how the real meaning of the Prophet
agrees with the subject handled by Paul.
    It now follows, "consolation", or, "repentance is hid from my
eye"; for "nacham" means both. "Nacham" signifies to repent, and it
signifies to receive consolation. If the term, consolation, be
approved, the sense will be, "There is no reason for any one to
wonder that I speak so sharply, and do nothing but thunder against
my people; for consolation has now no place among them; therefore
consolation is hid from my eyes." And this was the case, because the
irreclaimable wickedness of the people did not allow God to change
his severity into mildness, so as to give any hope of pardon and
salvation. In this sense then it is said that consolation was hid
from his eyes. But if the word, repentance, be more approved, it
will show exactly the same thing, - that it was fully determined to
destroy that people. "There is then no reason for you to hope that I
can become milder in course of time; for repentance is hid from mine
eyes. This shall remain fixed, you shall be reduced to nothing; for
ye are past all hope." We then see that both the words refer to the
same thing, that God takes away from this miserable and reprobate
people every hope of salvation. Now it follows -

Hosea 13:15
Though he be fruitful among [his] brethren, an east wind shall come,
the wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness, and his
spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up: he
shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels.
    
    God again confirms what had been said that Israel in vain
trusted in their strength and fortresses and that certain
destruction was nigh them on account of their sins which they
followed without any limits or restraint. But the Prophet begins
with these words, "He among brethren will increase". He alludes, I
doubt not, (as other interpreters have also noticed,) to the
blessing of the tribe of Ephraim, which is mentioned in Gen. 48; for
we know that though Ephraim was the younger, he was yet placed first
by Jacob, so that he was preferred in honour to his brother, who was
the firstborn: and further, the prophecy, we know, which Jacob then
announced, was really fulfilled; for the tribe of Ephraim excelled,
both in number and in other respects, all the rest, except only the
tribe of Judah. Ephraim had evidently gained high eminence among the
whole people. But when he ought to have ascribed all this to the
gratuitous goodness of God, he became inflated with pride. This
ingratitude the Prophet now reproves, "He", he says, "among his
brethren will increase": but whence this increase? Whence was this
so great a dignity, except that he was preferred to Manasseh, who by
right of nature was the first? Now it was not enough for this
wretched people to forget so great a favour of God, without at the
same time abusing their wealth in fostering pride, and without
hardening themselves in contempt of God. For whence came so great an
audacity in their rebellion, whence so great stupidity and so great
a madness as to despise the judgement of God, except from this -
that they had increased among their brethren?
    Though, then, he increases among his brethren, yet "there shall
come an east wind, the wind of Jehovah, which shall dry his spring,
and his fountain shall be dried up". Here God declares what had been
before mentioned, that it was in his power to take away from the
people of Israel what he had gratuitously bestowed, as he could dry
up the fountains whenever he wished. And he applies a most suitable
similitude. As the east wind, he says, dries and burns up, and if it
long prevails, the fountains will be dried up; so will I, he says,
dry up all the springs of Ephraim. Whether or not he thinks that he
possesses more vigour than fountains, which have an exhaustless
source, it is certain that fountains dry up whenever it so pleases
me. I will then dry up the springs and fountains of Ephraim: though
he thinks that he draws from a deep fountain, yet the wind, when it
shall rise, will dry up his whole vigour and moisture. We now
understand what the Prophet means.
    Now as to the words, some render "kadim" improperly, the south
wind; for it means the east wind: and then others incorrectly
explain the wind of Jehovah, as meaning a strong wind. I indeed
allow that what is unusual is often said to be divine; but in this
place the Prophet intended to express, that God has winds ever
ready, by which he can dry up whatever vigour there may be or seem
to be in men. Hence the name of Jehovah is set in opposition to
natural causes or means. It shall not then be a fortuitous wind that
shall dry up the springs of Ephraim, but one raised up by the
counsel and certain purpose of God; as though he said, "This wind
will be the scourge of God."
    We are then taught here, that when God for a time blesses us,
we must beware lest we abuse his favour and entertain a false
confidence, as we see that Ephraim had done: for he flourished among
his brethren, and then raised up his head; and thus he obliterated
God's favour through his pride and haughtiness. We ought then, when
prosperous, ever to fear, lest something like this should happen to
us. The more kindly then God deals with us, the more constantly
ought we to be roused up to pray to him, that he may be pleased to
carry on his work to the end, lest we slumber in our enjoyments
while God is indulgent to us. This, in the first place, we ought to
bear in mind. Then we must also notice the warning of the prophet,
that God can suddenly, and, as it were, in a moment, upset the
prosperity of men, that there is nothing in this world which cannot
be immediately changed whenever God withdraws from us his favour.
This comparison then ought often to occur to us; when the air is
tranquil, when the season is quiet, a wind will in a moment rise up,
which will dry the earth, which will also make dry the fountains;
and yet the vigour of fountains seems to be perpetual; what then may
not happen to us? Cannot the Lord at any moment make us dry, since
we have in ourselves no source of strength? He might indeed have
said in this place what we find in the fortieth chapter of Isaiah
that man is like the flower that soon fadeth; but he intended to
express something more profound; for this people, being deeply fixed
in their own strength, thought that they were supplied by
exhaustless fountains, and that their vigour could not be dried up:
hence he says, "Though thou hast fountains and springs, yet God will
dry thee up; for he will find a wind that has power, as experience
proves, to dry up springs and fountains."
    But it follows, "It will rob the treasure of every desirable
vessel". This may seem to be improperly applied to wind; but yet the
meaning of the Prophet is sufficiently clear, even this, that
nothing shall remain untouched in the tribe of Ephraim, when the
Lord shall raise up his wind. "However hidden," he seems to say,
"your treasures may be, yet this wind shall penetrate into the
inmost recesses, so that nothing shall be safe from its violence."
In short, the Prophet means, that the force of God's vengeance would
be so violent, that Ephraim could not be secure in any of his
fortresses; for the wind of God would penetrate unto the very inmost
springs of the earth. This is the meaning. It follows -

Hosea 13:16
Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her
God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in
pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.
    
    This is the conclusion of the discourse: this verse has then
been improperly separated from the former chapter; for the Prophet
enters not here on a new subject, but only confirms what he had said
of the ultimate destruction of Samaria and of the whole kingdom.
"Samaria then shall be desolated"; as though he said "I have already
often denounced on you what you believe not, that destruction is
nigh at hand; of this be now persuaded; but if you believe not, God
will yet execute what he has determined, and what he now pronounces
by my mouth." At the same time he adds the cause, "For they have
provoked their God". That they might not complain that they were
severely dealt with, he says, that they only suffered the punishment
which they deserved. He also specifies the kind of destruction that
was to be, "They shall fall by the sword, their children shall be
dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women squall be torn asunder",
that the child may be extracted from the womb. In saying that the
citizens of Samaria, and the inhabitants of the whole country, shall
fall by the sword, he doubtless intimates that God would make use of
this kind of punishment by sending for enemies who would consign
them to destruction.
    We now then see what is included in the words of the Prophet.
He first shows that it was all over with Samaria and the whole
kingdom of Israel; as God could by no means bring them to
repentance, he would now take vengeance on so desperate an
obstinacy. He afterwards shows that God would do this justly,
because he had been provoked; and, lastly, he shows what kind their
punishment would be. That they might not think that the Assyrians
would come by chance, the Prophet says that this army, which was to
invade and destroy the country of Samaria, would be, as it were,
conducted by the hand of God; for though the Assyrians wished to
extend their own borders, and were influenced by their own avarice
and cupidity, yet God would use them as instruments to execute his
own judgement; and that they might know how dreadful the vengeance
would be, he relates two kinds of evils, - that their children would
be dashed in pieces, and that their women would be rent asunder, and
their offspring extracted from their wombs. Even to speak of this is
horrible; and it is what never takes place, except when enemies are
greatly enraged and extremely provoked. We now then comprehend the
meaning of the Prophet.
    But if any one objects and says, that infants, and babes as yet
concealed in the wombs of their mothers, deserve not such a grievous
punishment, as they have not hitherto merited such a thing; it may
be answered, that the whole human race are guilty before God, so
that infants though not yet come forth to the light, are yet
included as being under guilt; so that God cannot be charged with
cruelty, though he may use his own right towards them. And further,
we hear what he declares in many places, that he will devolve the
sins of parents on their children. Since it is so, let us learn to
acquiesce in these awful judgements of God, though very repugnant to
our feelings; for we know that we must not contend with God, and
that it would be extreme presumption to do so; nay, it would be
impious audacity. Though then the reason for this punishment may not
appear to us, we ought yet reverently to regard this judgement of
God. We may moreover thus reason - If infants be not spared, even
those as yet hid in the mother's womb, what will become of adults?
what will become of the old, who through their whole life have
continued to provoke the vengeance of God? The Lord no doubt
intended by these words to terrify those godless despisers of his
word, with whom he had to do. "How great a judgement," he says,
"hangs over you, and how tremendous! since your infants shall not be
exempted: for I shall involve you in the same judgement, when they
shall be dashed against the stones, after having been drawn out of
their mothers' womb. When such a dreadful punishment shall be
inflicted on them, what shall be done to you? for the cause of the
evil exists in you." We have now then explained this verse. Then
follows an exhortation.




Chapter 14.

Hosea 14:1,2
O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by
thine iniquity.
Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away
all iniquity, and receive [us] graciously: so will we render the
calves of our lips.
    
    Here the Prophet exhorts the Israelites to repentance, and
still propounds some hope of mercy. But this may seem inconsistent
as he had already testified that there would be no remedy any more,
because they had extremely provoked God. The Prophet seems in this
case to contradict himself. But the solution is ready at hand, and
it is this, - In speaking before of the final destruction of the
people, he had respect to the whole body of the people; but now he
directs his discourse to the few, who had as yet remained faithful.
And this distinction, as we have reminded you in other places, ought
to be carefully noticed; otherwise we shall find ourselves perplexed
in many parts of Scripture. We now then see for what purpose the
Prophet annexed this exhortation, after having asserted that God
would be implacable to the people of Israel; for with regard to the
whole body, there was no hope of deliverance; God had now indeed
determined to destroy them, and he wished this to be made known to
them by the preaching of Hosea. But yet God had ever some seed
remaining among his chosen people: though the body, as a whole, was
putrid and corrupt; yet some sound members remained, as in a large
heap of chaff some grains may be found concealed. As God then had
preserved some (as he is wont always to do,) he sets forth to them
his mercy: and as they had been carried away, as it were by a
tempest, when iniquity so prevailed among the people, that there was
nothing sound, the Prophet addresses them here, because they were
not wholly incurable.
    Let us then know that the irreclaimable, the whole body of the
people, are now dismissed; for they were so obstinate that the
Prophet could address them with no prospect of success. Then his
sermon here ought to be especially applied to the elect of God, who,
having fallen away for a time, and become entangled in the common
vices of the age, were yet not altogether incurable. The Prophet now
exhorts them and says "Return, Israel, to Jehovah thy God; for thou
hast fallen by thine iniquity". This reason is added, because men
will never repent unless they are made humble; and whence comes true
and genuine humility, except from a sense of sin? Unless then men
become displeased with themselves, and acknowledge that they are
worthy of perdition, they will never be touched by a genuine feeling
of penitence. These two things are then wisely joined together by
Hosea, that Israel had fallen by their iniquities, and then, that it
was time to return to Jehovah. How so? Because, when we are
convinced that we are worthy of destruction, nays that we are
already doomed to death for having so often provoked God, then we
begin to hate ourselves; and a detestation of sin drives us to seek
repentance.
    But he says, "Turn thou, Israel, to thy God". The Prophet now
kindly invites them; for he could not succeed by severe words
without mingling a hope of favour, as we know that there can be no
hope of repentance without faith. Then the Prophet not only shows
what was necessary to be done, but says also, 'Thou art Israel, thou
art an elect people.' He does not, however, as it has been already
stated, address all indiscriminately, but those who were the true
children of Abraham, though they had for a time degenerated. "Turn
thou, Israel, then to thy God; for how much soever thou hast for a
time fallen away, yet God has not rejected thee: only return to him,
and thou shalt find favour, for he is placable to his own people."
    He afterwards shows the way of repentance: and this passage
deserves to be noticed; for we know that men bring forward mere
trifles when they speak of repentance. Hence when the word,
repentance, is mentioned, men imagine that God is to be pacified
with this or that ceremony, as we see to be the case with those
under the Papacy. And what is their repentance? Even this, - if on
certain days they fast, if they mutter short prayers, if they
undertake vowed pilgrimages, if they buy masses, - if with these
trifles they weary themselves, they think that the right and the
required repentance is brought before God: but all this is
altogether absurd. As then the world understands not what repentance
means, and to what it leads, the Prophet here sets forth true
repentance by its fruits. He therefore says, "Take with you words,
and turn to Jehovah; and say to him, Take away all iniquity and
bring good, and we will render to thee the calves of our lips". When
he bids them to take or find words to present instead of sacrifice,
he no doubt alluded to what the law teaches.
    First, it is certain that the Prophet speaks not of feigned
words; for we know what God declares by Isaiah, 'This people draw
nigh me with their lips, but their heart is from me far distant,'
(Isa. 29: 13.) But he bids them to take words, by which they might
show what was conceived and felt in their heart. Then he means this
first, that their words should correspond with their feeling.
    It must, secondly, be noticed, that the Prophet speaks not here
of any sort of words, but that there is to be a mutual relation
between the words of God and the words of men. How are we then to
bring words to God, such as prove the genuineness of our piety? Even
by being teachable and submissive; by suffering willingly when he
chastises us, by confessing what we deserve when he reproves us, by
humbly deprecating vengeance when he threatens us, by embracing
pardon when he promises it. When we thus take words from God's
mouth, and bring them to him, this is to take words according to
what the Prophet means in this place. We hence see the import of the
Prophet's exhortation, when he bids us to take words: but I cannot
proceed further now.
    
Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that as we now carry about us this mortal body,
yea, and nourish through sin a thousand deaths within us, - O grant,
that we may ever by faith direct our eyes towards heaven, and to
that incomprehensible power, which is to be manifested at the last
day by Jesus Christ our Lord, so that in the midst of death we may
hope that thou wilt be our Redeemer, and enjoy that redemption,
which he completed when he rose from the dead; and not doubt but
that the fruit which he then brought forth by his Spirit will come
also to us, when Christ himself shall come to judge the world; and
may we thus walk in the fear of thy name, that we may be really
gathered among his members, to be made partakers of that glory,
which by his death he has procured for us. Amen.


Lecture Thirty-seventh.
    
    "Take with you words and turn to Jehovah and say to him, Take
away all iniquity, and bring good, and we will pay thee the calves
of our lips". We mentioned in our last lecture the sort of words the
Prophet here bids the Israelites to take, while exhorting them to
repent: for as they had been hitherto deaf and mute, he commands
them to be not only attentive to the word of the Lord, but also
prompt to respond, that there might be a mutual consent between the
doctrine heard and their own confession. He now explains himself and
says, "Take away all iniquity, and bring good". These are the words
with which he bids them to come to God. He dictates to them the
confession which the Lord requires.
    He first bids them to ask remission and the pardon of sins; for
if a sinner desires to return into favour with God, and yet does not
confess his guilt, he adopts a way the most strange. The very
beginning must be a confession, such as the Prophet here describes.
For the Israelites, by asking God to remit their sins, at the same
time confessed themselves to be guilty before Him; yea, they
condemned themselves that they might obtain gratuitous absolution.
And emphatical is what they said, "Take away all iniquity". Thus
they confessed themselves to be guilty not only of one sin, but also
of many sins, for which God might justly punish them, had he not
been propitious to them. In short, they acknowledge here their
various and multiplied guilt.
    But they add, "Bring good". This sentence is commonly explained
as if the Israelites said, that they had hitherto been barren and
empty of good works, but that now being reconciled, they would be
useful and profitable servants of God. But this sense seems not to
me suitable to this place; for he afterwards subjoins the evidence
of gratitude, "We shall pay the calves of our lips". He here speaks,
I doubt not, of God's blessing, which flows from the gratuitous
pardon of sins: for God does not simply receive us into favour, but
also really shows that he is not in vain reconciled to us; for he
adds the fruits of his paternal love, by favouring us with his
kindness. As then the Prophet commanded the Israelites to bring
words before God, so now he introduces them as praying that God
would bring good: and Scripture is wont commonly to join these two
together, - the favour of God, by which he freely remits sins, - and
his blessing, which he grants to his children, after he has embraced
them in his paternal love. Hence bring good; that is, "O Lord, first
receive us into favour, and then prove in reality that thou art
propitious to us, even by outward benefits."
    It now follows, "And we shall pay, or render, the calves of our
lips". In this passage, the faithful confess that they have nothing
with which they can pay God in return, when he has bountifully
granted them all things, except that they will celebrate his
goodness in their praises, and confess that they owe all things to
him. This is then a remarkable passage; for it sets forth God's
goodness towards men, and then it teaches that men can render no
mutual compensation, but can only bring praises by which they
celebrate God's goodness, and nothing more, as it is said in Ps.
116, 'What shall I repay the Lord for all the benefits which he has
conferred on me? The cup of salvation will I take, and on the name
of the Lord will I call.' There also the Prophet testifies that God
is not liberal towards men because he expects or demands any thing
from them, for what can they give? but that he still requires
thanksgiving, and that he is content with the sacrifice of praise,
as we find it also said in Ps. 50. But we learn the same thing from
this passage, "O Lord, they says bring good"; that is, "Though we
have in various ways exposed ourselves to thy judgement, having by
our innumerable sins provoked thy wrath, yet let thy goodness
surpass all our iniquities; having made us clean, bring also that
good which has been hitherto, as it were, far away from us." For
while God shows signs of his wrath, we are destitute of all his
blessings. They therefore ask God, after restoring them to favour,
to manifest to them his kindness. And what do they at last say? "O
Lords we promise thee no compensation, for thou requires none, nor
is it in our power to give any; but we will pay to thee the calves
of the lips;" that is, "We will confess that we owe all things to
thee; for it is only the sacrifice of praise that we can render
thee, when thou hast loaded us with all kinds of blessings."
    And calves of the lips the Prophet fitly calls the praises
which God requires as the chief sacrifice; for under the law, some
offered calves when they paged their vows. But the Prophet shows
that God regards not external sacrifices, but only those exercises
which men perform in another way, even the sacrifices of
thanksgiving. This then is the meaning of the metaphor; as though he
said, "The calves which are wont to be offered are not the true
sacrifices in which God delights, but tend rather to show that men
are to offer praise to God." We now then perceive the meaning of
this verse. It follows -

Hosea 14:3
Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will
we say any more to the work of our hands, [Ye are] our gods: for in
thee the fatherless findeth mercy.

    This verse ought to be joined with the last, as the Israelites
show here more clearly and fully in what they had sinned, and, at
the same time, give proof of their repentance; for when they say,
"The Assyrian shall not save us, we shall not mount on horses, we
shall not say to the work of hands, Our gods", it is to be
understood as a confession, that they had in these various ways
roused against themselves the vengeance of God; for they had hoped
for safety from the Assyrians, ran here and there, and had thus
alienated themselves from God; they had also fled to statues and
idols, and had transferred to dumb images the honour due to the only
true God. We hence see, that though the faithful speak of future
time, they yet indirectly confess that they had grievously sinned,
had forsaken the only true God, and transferred their hopes to
others, either to the Assyrians or to fictitious gods. But at the
same time, they promise to be different in future; as though he
said, that they would not only be grateful to God in celebrating his
praises, but that their way of living would be also new, so as not
to abuse the goodness of God. This is the substance of what is here
said.
    By saying, "The Assyrian shall not save us", they doubtless
condemned, as I have already stated, the false confidence with which
they were before deluded, when they sought deliverance by means of
the Assyrians. There is, indeed, no doubt, but that the Israelites
were ever wont to pretend to trust in the name of God; but in
thinking themselves lost without the succour of the Assyrians, they
most certainly defrauded God of his just honour, and adorned men
with spoils taken from him. For except we be convinced that God
alone is sufficient for us, even when all earthly aids fail us, we
do not place in him our hope of salvation; but, on the contrary,
transfer to mortals what belongs alone to him. For this sacrilege
the Israelites therefore condemn themselves, and, at the same time,
show that the fruit of their repentance would be, to set their minds
on God, so as not to be drawn here and there as before, or to think
that they could be preserved through the help of men. Let us hence
learn, that men turn not to God, except when they bid adieu to all
creatures, and no longer fix their hopes on them. This is one thing.
    What follows, "On a horse we shall not mount", may be explained
in two ways; - as though they said, that they would no longer be so
mad as to be proud of their own power, or consider themselves safe
because they were well furnished with horses and chariots; - but the
clause may be more simply explained, as meaning, that they would not
as before wander here and there to procure for themselves
auxiliaries; "We shall not then mount a horse", but continue quiet
in our country; and this sense seems more appropriate. I do not then
think that the Prophet brings forward any new idea, but I read the
two sentences conjointly, "The Assyrian shall not save us, we shall
not then mount on a horse", that is, that we may ride in haste; for
they had wearied themselves before with long journeys: as soon as
any danger was at hand, they went away afar off into Assyria to seek
help, when God commanded them to remain quiet.
    The meaning of this will be better understood by referring to
other passages, which correspond with what is here said. God says by
Isaiah, 'On horses mount not; but ye said, We will mount: then
mount,' says he, (Isa. 30: 16.) Here is a striking intimation, that
the Jews against God's will rode and hastened to seek aids. "I see
you," he says, "to be very prompt and swift: then mount, but it
shall be for the purpose of fleeing." We see what was the design of
this reproof of the Prophet; it was to show that the Jews, who ought
to have remained still and quiet, fled here and there for the sake
of seeking assistance. So also in this place, when they would show
the fruit of their repentance, they say, "We will not hereafter
mount a horse, for the Lord, who promises to be our aid, is not to
be sought as one far off: we will not then any more fatigue
ourselves in vain." It seems to me that this is what is meant by the
Prophet.
    Then he adds, "And we shall not say, Our gods, to the work of
our hands". As they had spoken of the false trust they placed in
men, so now they condemn their own superstition. And these are the
two pests which are wont to bring destruction on men; for nothing is
more ruinous than to transfer our hope from God; and this is done in
two ways, either when men trust in their own strength, or pride
themselves on human aids and despise God, as if they can be safe
without him, - or when they give up themselves to false
superstitions. Both these diseases ever prevail in the world, when
men entangle themselves in their own superstitions, and form for
themselves new gods, from whom they expect safety; as we see to be
the case with those under the Papacy. God is almost of no account
with them, Christ is not sufficient. For how comes it that they
contrive so many patrons for themselves, that they devise so many
guardianships, except that they despise the help of God, or so
extenuate it, that they dare not to hope for salvation from him? We
hence see that superstition draws men away from God, and becomes
thus the cause of the worst destruction. But there are some, who are
not thus given up to superstitions, but who derive a hope from their
own velour or wisdom; for the children of this world are inflated
with their own strength; and when princes have their armies
prepared, when they have fortified cities, when they possess
abundance of money, when they are strengthened by many compacts,
they are blinded with false confidence. So then this verse teaches
us, that these are two destructive pests, which commonly draw men
away from real safety; and if then we would repent sincerely from
the heart, we must purge our minds from these two evils, so that we
may not ascribe any thing to our own strength or to earthly helps,
nor form any idols to be in the place of God, but feel assured that
God alone is a sufficient help to us.
    But it follows, "For in thee" will the fatherless find "mercy".
Here the Israelites show that it is necessary for us to be depressed
that we may remain dependent on God alone; for those are compared to
the fatherless who are so humbled, that they cast away all vain
hopes, and, conscious of their nakedness and want, recumb on God
alone. Hence, that God's mercy may find a way open to come to us, we
must become fatherless. Now what this metaphor means is well known
to us. The fatherless, we know, are, first, destitute of aid, and,
secondly, of wisdom; and they are also without strength. They are
then dependent on the aid of another, and stand in need of
direction; in short, their safety depends on the assistance of
others. Thus, also, we are really fatherless, when we rely not on
our own prudence, nor recumb on our own strength, nor think that we
can be safe through the aids which come from the earth, but cast all
our hopes and cares on God alone. This is one thing. "The
fatherless" then shall find mercy "in thee"; that is, "When thou,
Lord, dost so afflict us, that we become wholly cast down, then we
shall find mercy in thee; and this mercy will be sufficient for us,
so that we shall no more wander and be drawn aside by false devices,
as it has hitherto been the case with us." When, therefore, they
say, in God will the fatherless find mercy, they mean that the grace
offered by the Lord will be sufficient, so that there will be no
need any more of seeking aid from any other. We now understand what
the Prophet means in this verse. It follows -

Hosea 14:4
I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine
anger is turned away from him.
    
    God here confirms what we have observed respecting his
gratuitous reconciliation, nor is the repetition useless; for as men
are disposed to entertain vain and false hopes, so nothing is more
difficult than to preserve them in dependence on the one God, and to
pacify their minds, so that they disturb not nor fret themselves, as
experience teaches us all. For when we embrace the promises of free
pardon, our flesh ever leads us to distrust, and we become harassed
by various fancies. "What! can you or dare you promise with
certainty to yourself that God will be propitious to you, when you
know that for many reasons he is justly angry with you?" Since,
then, we are so inclined to harbour distrust, the Prophet again
confirms the truth which we have before noticed, which is, that God
is ready to be reconciled, and that he desires nothing more than to
receive and embrace his people.
    Hence he says, "I will heal their defections". The way of
healing is by a gratuitous pardon. For though God, by regenerating
us by his Spirit, heals our rebellion, that is, subdues us unto
obedience, and removes from us our corruptions, which stimulate us
to sin; yet in this place the Prophet no doubt declares in the
person of God, that the Israelites would be saved from their
defections, so that they might not come against them in judgement,
nor be imputed to them. Let us know then that God is in two respects
a physician while he is healing our sins: he cleanses us by his
Spirit, and he abolishes and buries all our offences. But it is of
the second kind of healing that the Prophet now speaks, when he
says, I will heal their turnings away: and he employs a strong term,
for he might have said, "your faults or errors" but he says, "your
defections from God;" as though he said, "Though they have so
grievously sinned, that by their crimes they have deserved hundred
deaths, yet I will heal them from these their atrocious sins, and I
will love them freely."
    The word "nedavah" may be explained either freely or
bountifully. I will then love them bountifully, that is, with an
abounding and not a common love; or I will love them freely, that is
gratuitously. But they who render the words "I will love them of
mine own accord," that is, not by constraint, pervert the sense of
the Prophet; for how frigid is the expression, that God is not
forced to love us; and what meaning can hence be elicited? But the
Lord is said to love us freely, because he finds in us no cause of
love, for we are unworthy of being regarded or viewed with any
favour; but he shows himself liberal and beneficent in this very act
of manifesting his love to the unworthy.
    We then perceive that the real meaning of the Prophet is this,
that though the Israelites had in various ways provoked the wrath of
God, and as it were designedly wished to perish, and to have him to
be angry with them; yet the Lord promises to be propitious to them.
In what way? Even in this, for he will give proof of his bounty,
when he will thus gratuitously embrace them. We now see how God
becomes a Father to us, and regards us as his children, even when he
abolishes our sins, and also when he freely admits us to the
enjoyment of his love. And this truth ought to be carefully
observed; for the world ever imagines that they come to God, and
bring something by which they can turn or incline him to love them.
Nothing can be more inimical to our salvation than this vain fancy.
    Let us then learn from this passage, that God cannot be
otherwise a Father to us than by becoming our physician and by
healing our transgressions. But the order also is remarkable, for
God puts love after healing. Why? Because, as he is just, it must be
that he regards us with hatred as long as he imputes sins. It is
then the beginning of love, when he cleanses us from our vices, and
wipes away our spots. When therefore it is asked, how God loves men,
the answer is, that he begins to love them by a gratuitous pardon;
for while God imputes sins, it must be that men are hated by him. He
then commences to love us, when he heals our diseases.
    It is not without reason that he adds, that "the fury" of God
"is turned away from Israel". For the Prophet intended to add this
as a seal to confirm what he taught; for men ever dispute with
themselves when they hear that God is propitious to them. "How is
this, that he heals thine infirmities? for hitherto thou hast found
him to be angry with thee, and how art thou now persuaded that his
wrath is pacified?" Hence the Prophet seals his testimony respecting
God's love, when he says, that his wrath has now ceased. Turned away
then is my fury. "Though hitherto I have by many proofs, manifested
to thee my wrath, yet I now come to thee as one changed. Judge me
not then by past time, for I am now pacified to thee, and my fury is
from thee turned away." It follows -

Hosea 14:5
I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and
cast forth his roots as Lebanon.
    
    The Prophet now again repeats what he had said, that God, after
restoring the people to favour, would be so beneficent, as to render
apparent the fruit of reconciliation. Seeing that the Israelites had
been afflicted, they ought to have imputed this to their own sins,
they ought to have perceived by such proofs, the wrath of God. They
had been so stupid as to have on the contrary imagined, that their
adversities happened to them by chance. The Prophet had been much
engaged in teaching this truth, that the Israelites would be ever
miserable until they turned to God, and also, that all their affairs
would be unhappy until they obtained pardon. He now speaks of a
change, that God would not only by words show himself propitious to
them, but would also give a proof by which the Israelites might know
that they were now blessed, because they had been reconciled to God;
for his blessing would be the fruit of his gratuitous love. Thus
then ought this sentence, "I will be to Israel as the dew", to be
connected: He intimates that they were before dry, because they had
been deprived of God's favour. He compares them to a rose or lily:
for when the fields or meadows are burnt up by the heat of the sun,
and there is no dew distilling from heaven, all things wither. How
then can lilies and roses flourish, except they derive moisture from
heaven, and the dew refreshes the grounds that they may put forth
their strength? The reason then for the similitude is this, because
men become dry and destitute of all vigour, when God withdraws his
favour. Why? Because God must, as it were, distil dew, otherwise, as
it has been said, we become wholly barren and dry. I will be then as
dew to Israel.
    And further, "He shall Flourish as the lily, and his roots he
shall send forth". Some render "weyach", "and he will strike;" and
"nachah" means to strike. Others render the words, "His branches
will extend:" but the verb is in the singular number, and the noun,
"roots," is in the plural. The Prophet then speaks of Israel, that
he strikes his roots; but he means to fix in a metaphorical sense:
he will then fix his roots. As when we strike, we fetch a blow, and
extend our arms; so he will spread forth his roots as Libanus. This
is the second effect of God's favour and blessing; which means, that
the happiness of the people would be perpetual. With regard to the
rose or lily, the meaning of the metaphor is, that God would
suddenly, and as in a moment, vivify the Israelites, though they
were like the dead. as in one night the lily rises, and unexpectedly
also the rose; so sudden would be the change signified by this
metaphor. But as the lilies and the roses soon wither, it was not
enough to promise to Israel that their salvation would come
suddenly; but it was needful to add this second clause, - that
though they would be like lilies and roses, they yet would be also
like tall trees, which have deep roots in the ground, by which they
remain firm and for a long time flourish.
    We now then perceive the meaning of the Prophet. He mentions
here the twofold effect of God's blessing as to the Israelites, -
that their restoration would be sudden, as soon as God would distil
like the dew his favour upon them, and also that this happiness
would not be fading, but enduring and permanent. And the words may
be rendered, "as Libanus", or as "those of Libanus": as Libanus he
shall cast forth his roots, as the trees which grow there; or, he
shall cast forth his roots as the trees which are in Libanus. But as
to the sense there is no difference. It follows -

Hosea 14:6,7
His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive
tree, and his smell as Lebanon.
They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive
[as] the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof [shall be] as
the wine of Lebanon.

    The Prophet goes on with the same subject, but joins the
beginning of the first verse with the second clause of the former
verse. He had said that the roots of the people would be deep when
God should restore them. Now he adds, that their branches shall go
on. He mentions here "to go on" metaphorically for extending far;
for branches of trees seem to go on, when they extend and spread
themselves far and wide. His branches, then, shall go on; which
means, that a tree, after striking roots, remains not in the same
state, but grows and spreads forth its branches in all directions.
In short, God promises a daily increase to his blessing, after he
has once begun to show himself bountiful to the people of Israel. "I
will then be bountiful at the beginning; and further, he says, my
blessing shall, as time passes, increase and be multiplied."
    He afterwards adds, "His comeliness shall be like the olive".
The Prophet accumulates similitudes, that he might more fully
confirm the people. And we certainly see that the minds of men grow
faint, when they look for prosperity from this or that quarter; for
there is hardly one in a hundred who is fully persuaded that when
God is propitious, all things turn out well and happily: for men
regard not the love of God when they wish things to be well with
them, but wander here and there through the whole world; and now
they seek prosperity from themselves, then from the earth, now from
the air, then from the sea. Since then it is so difficult to impress
this truth fully on the hearts of men, that the love of God is the
fountain of all blessings, the Prophet has collected together a
number of similitudes to confirm what he teaches. Then "his
comeliness, he say, shall be like the olive"; and further, "his
fragrance like that of Libanus": and odoriferous trees, we know,
grow on Mount Libanus. But by these various similes the Prophet
shows that the state of the people would be prosperous and happy as
soon as they should be received by God into favour. He afterwards
adds, "the dwellers under his shadow shall return"; but I defer this
till to-morrow.

Prayer.
    
Grant, Almighty God, that as we are so miserable as soon as thou
withdrawest thy favour from us, - O grant, that we may deeply feel
this conviction, and thus learn to be humble before thee, and to
hate our ownselves, and that we may not in the mean lime deceive
ourselves by such allurements as commonly prevail, to put our hope
in creatures or in this world, but raise our minds upwards to thee,
and fix on thee our hearts, and never doubt, but that when thou
embraces us with thy paternal love, nothing shall be wanting to us.
And in the meantime, may we suppliantly flee to thy mercy, and with
true and genuine confession, acknowledge this to be our only
protection - that thou deign to receive us into favour, and to
abolish our sins, into which we not only daily fall, but by which we
also deserve eternal death, so that we may daily rise through thy
free pardon, till at length our Redeemer Christ thy Son shall appear
to us from heaven. Amen.


Lecture Thirty-eighth.
    
    "The dwellers under his shadow shall return", (so it is
literally;) "they shall revive themselves with corn", (or, revive as
the corn;) "they shall grow as the vine: his odour shall be as the
wine of Libanus". The Prophet proceeds with the same subject, that
God would show himself bountiful to his people, that it might
plainly appear from their different state that they had before
suffered just punishment. And he says, "The dwellers under his
shadow shall return". But the verb "yashuvu" in this place rightly
means, "to be refreshed," as in Psal. 19; where the law of God is
spoken of as "meshivat", converting the soul; which signifies the
same as refreshing or restoring the soul. So the Prophet intimates,
that after the Israelites shall begin to flourish again, their
shadow would be vivifying, such as would restore and refresh those
lying under it. He calls the "dwellers under his shadow", all those
who belong to the people; and compares the common state of the
people of Israel to a tree full of leaves, which extends its
branches far and wide, so that they who flee under its shadow are
defended from the heat of the sun. We now see the design of this
metaphor, and what the Prophet means by the verb "yashuvu".
    He afterwards adds "They shall vivify themselves with corn",
or, revive as corn. If we read the word in the nominative case, the
preposition "caph" is to be understood. The ablative case is more
approved by some, "They shall vivify themselves with corn." But the
former sense seems more suitable; for, as I have said yesterday, the
Prophet, as he handles a truth difficult to be believed, does on
this account accumulate similitudes, such as serve for confirmation.
Hence they shall revive as corn; that is, they shall increase. As
from one grain, we know, many stalks proceed; so also, since the
prophet speaks of the increase of the people after their restoration
to God's favour, he says that they would grow like corn.
    But he adds, "They shall germinate as the vine". This
similitude strengthens what I have just said, that the people are
compared both to trees and to corn, and also to vines. And what is
said of dwellers ought not to appear strange, for he wished more
fully to express how this common benefit would come, that is, to
every one. He afterwards adds, His odour shall be as the wine of
Libanus; that is, when they shall germinate as the vine, they shall
not produce common or sour wine, but the sweetest, such as is made
on Mount Libanus, and which is of the best odour. But the Prophet
means no other thing than that the Israelites will be happy, and
that their condition will be prosperous and joyful, when they shall
be converted from their superstitions and other vices, and shall
wholly surrender themselves to be governed by God. This is the
meaning. Let us now proceed -

Hosea 14:8
Ephraim [shall say], What have I to do any more with idols? I have
heard [him], and observed him: I [am] like a green fir tree. From me
is thy fruit found.

    The Prophet again introduces the Israelites speaking as before,
that they would deplore their blindness and folly, and renounce in
future their superstitions. The confession then which we have before
noticed is here repeated; and it is a testimony of true repentance
when men, being ashamed, are displeased with themselves on account
of their sins, and apply their minds to God's service, and detest
their whole former life. To this subject belongs what the Prophet
now says. It is a concise discourse; but yet its brevity contains
nothing obscure. "Ephraim", he says, "What have I to do with idols?"
There is indeed a verb understood, 'Ephraim "shall say", What have I
to do with idols?' But still it is evident enough what the Prophet
means. There is then in these words, as I have said, a sincere
confession; for the ten tribes express their detestation of their
folly, that they had alienated themselves from the true God, and
became entangled in false and abominable superstitions: hence they
say, What have we to do with idols? and when they add, "any more",
they confess that their former life had been corrupt and vicious: at
the same time they announce their own repentance, when they say that
they would have nothing more to do with fictitious gods.
    The reason follows, because God will hear and look on Israel,
so as to become to him a "shady tree". Some so explain this, as
though God promised to be propitious to Israel after they had
manifested their repentance. But they pervert the sense of the
Prophet; for, on the contrary, he says, that after the Israelites
shall perceive, and find even by the effect, that God is propitious
to them, they will then say, "How foolish and mad we were, while we
followed idols? It is now then time that our souls should recumb on
God." Why? "Because we see that there is nothing better for us than
to live under his safeguard and protectio