John the Baptist Prepares the WayMark 1 1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’ ”
The Baptism of Jesus9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The Temptation of Jesus12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
Jesus Begins His Ministry14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Jesus Calls the First Disciples16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
Jesus Heals a Man with an Unclean Spirit21 And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are — the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
Jesus Heals Many29 And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
Jesus Preaches in Galilee35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Jesus Cleanses a Leper40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.
Jesus Heals a ParalyticMark 2 1 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
Jesus Calls Levi13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
A Question About Fasting18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins — and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”
Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath23 One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
A Man with a Withered HandMark 3 1 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. 2 And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” 4 And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
A Great Crowd Follows Jesus7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea 8 and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. 9 And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, 10 for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. 11 And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.
The Twelve Apostles13 And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons. 16 He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
20 Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.
28 “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” — 30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
Jesus’ Mother and Brothers31 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
What I'm Reading
Though a part of what is here delivered belongs to the Israelites and to the Jews, he yet calls his Book by what it principally contains; he calls its the burden of Nineveh Of this word משא, mesha, we have spoken elsewhere. Thus the Prophets call their prediction, whenever they denounce any grievous and dreadful vengeance of God: and as they often threatened the Jews, it hence happened, that they called, by way of ridicule, all prophecies by this name משא, mesha, a burden. But yet the import of the word is suitable. It is the same thing as though Nahum had said that he was sent by God as a herald, to proclaim war on the Ninevites for the sake of the chosen people. The Israelites may have hence learnt how true and unchangeable God was in his covenant; for he still manifested his care for them, though they had by their vices alienated themselves from him.
He afterwards adds, ספר חזון, sapher chezun, the book of the vision. This clause signifies, that he did not in vain denounce destruction on the Ninevites, because he faithfully delivered what he had received from God. For if he had simply prefaced, that he threatened ruin to the Assyrian,, some doubt might have been entertained as to the event. But here he seeks to gain to himself authority by referring to God’s name; for he openly affirms that he brought nothing of his own, but that this burden had been made known to him by a celestial oracle: for חזה, cheze, means properly to see, and hence in Hebrew a vision is called חזון, chezun,. But the Prophets, when they speak of a vision, do not mean any fantasy or imagination, but that kind of revelation which is mentioned in Numbers 14, where God says, that he speaks to his Prophets either by vision or by dream. We hence see why this was added — that the burden of Nineveh was a vision; it was, that the Israelites might know that this testimony respecting God’s vengeance on their enemies was not brought by a mortal man, and that there might be no doubt but that God was the author of this prophecy.
Nahum calls himself an Elkoshite. Some think that it was the name of his family. The Jews, after their manner, say, that it was the name of his father; and then they add this their common gloss, that Elkos himself was a Prophet: for when the name of a Prophet’s father is mentioned, they hold that he whose name is given was also a Prophet. But these are mere trifles: and we have often seen how great is their readiness to invent fables. Then the termination of the word leads us to think that it was, on the contrary, the proper name of a place; and Jerome tells us that there was in his time a small village of this name in the tribe of Simon. We must therefore understand, that Nahum arose from that town, and was therefore called “the Elkoshite.” Let us now proceed —
Nahum begins with the nature of God, that what he afterwards subjoins respecting the destruction of Nineveh might be more weighty, and produce a greater impression on the hearers. The preface is general, but the Prophet afterwards applies it to a special purpose. If he had only spoken of what God is, it would have been frigid at least it would have been less efficacious; but when he connects both together, then his doctrine carries its own force and power. We now apprehend the design of the Prophet. He might indeed have spoken of the fall of the city Nineveh: but if he had referred to this abruptly, profane men might have regarded him with disdain; and even the Israelites would have been perhaps less affected. This is the reason why he shows, in a general way, what sort of Being God is. And he takes his words from Moses; and the Prophets are wont to borrow from him their doctrine: and it is from that most memorable vision, when God appeared to Moses after the breaking of the tables. I have therefore no doubt but that Nahum had taken from Exodus 34 what we read here: he does not, indeed, give literally what is found there; but it is sufficiently evident that he paints, as it were, to the life, the image of God, by which his nature may be seen.
He says first, that God is jealous; (amulus — emulous); for the verb קנא, kona, means to irritate, and also to emulate, and to envy. When God is said to be קנוא, konua, the Greeks render it jealous, ζηλωτην, and the Latins, emulous, (amulatorem) But it properly signifies, that God cannot bear injuries or wrongs. Though God then for a time connives at the wickedness of men? he will yet be the defender of his own glory. He calls him afterwards the avenger, and he repeats this three times, Jehovah avengeth, Jehovah avengeth and possesseth wrath, he will avenge. When he says that God keeps for his enemies, he means that vengeance is reserved for the unbelieving and the despisers of God. There is the same mode of speaking in use among us, Je lui garde, et il la garde a ses ennemis. This phrase, in our language, shows what the Prophet means here by saying, that God keeps for his enemies. And this awful description of God is to be applied to the present case, for he says that he proclaims war against the Ninevites, because they had unjustly distressed the Church of God: it is for this reason that he says, that God is jealous, that God is an avenger; and he confirms this three times, that the Israelites might feel assured that this calamity was seriously announced; for had not this representation been set before them, they might have thus reasoned with themselves, — “We are indeed cruelly harassed by our enemies; but who can think that God cares any thing for our miseries, since he allows them so long to be unavenged?” It was therefore necessary that the Prophet should obviate such thoughts, as he does here. We now more fully understand why he begins in a language so vehement, and calls God a jealous God, and an avenger.
He afterwards adds, that God possesses wrath I do not take חמה, cheme, simply for wrath, but the passion or he it of wrath. We ought not indeed to suppose, as it has been often observed, that our passions belong to God; for he remains ever like himself. But yet God is said to be for a time angry, and for ever towards the reprobate, for he is our and their Judge. Here, then, when the Prophet says, that God is the Lord of wrath, or that he possesses wrath, he means that he is armed with vengeance and that, though he connives at the sins of men, he is not yet indifferent, nor even delays because he is without power, or because he is idle and careless, but that he retains wraths as he afterwards repeats the same thing, He keeps for his enemies. In short, by these forms of speaking the Prophet intimates that God is not to be rashly judged of on account of his delay, when he does not immediately execute His judgments; for he waits for the seasonable opportunity. But, in the meantime there is no reason for us to think that he forgets his office when he suspends punishment, or for a season spares the ungodly. When, therefore, God does not hasten so very quickly, there is no ground for us to think that he is indifferent, because he delays his wrath, or retains it, as we have already said; for it is the same thing to retain wrath, as to be the Lord of wrath, and to possess it. It follows —
The Prophet goes on with the same subject; and still longer is the preface respecting the nature of God, which however is to be applied, as I have said, to the special objects which hereafter he will state. He says here that God is slow to wrath Though this saying is taken also from Moses yet the Prophet speaks here for the purpose of anticipating an objection; for he obviates the audacity of the ungodly who daringly derided God, when any evil was denounced on them, — Where is the mercy of God? Can God divest himself of his kindness? He cannot deny himself. Thus profane men, under the pretense of honoring God, cast on him the most atrocious slander, for they deprive him of his own power and office: and there is no doubt but that this was commonly done by many of the ungodly in the age of our Prophet. Hence he anticipates this objection, and concedes that God is slow to wrath. There is then a concession here; but at the same time he says that God is great in strength, and this he says, that the ungodly may not flatter and deceive themselves, when they hear these high attributes given to God, that he is patient, slow to wrath, merciful, full of kindness. “Let them,” he says, “at the same time remember the greatness of God’s power, that they may not think that they have to do with a child.”
We now then see the design of the Prophet: for this declaration — that God hastens not suddenly to wrath, but patiently defers and suspends the punishment which the ungodly deserve. This declaration would not have harmonized with the present argument, had not the Prophet introduced it by way of concession; as though he said, — “I see that the world everywhere trifle with God, and that the ungodly delude themselves with such Sophistries, that they reject all threatening. I indeed allow that God is ready to pardon, and that he descends not to wrath, except when he is constrained by extreme necessity: all this is indeed true; but yet know, that God is armed with his own power: escape then shall none of those who allow themselves the liberty of abusing his patience, notwithstanding the insolence they manifest towards him.”
He now adds, By clearing he will not clear. Some translate, “The innocent, he will not render innocent.” But the real meaning of this sentence is the same with that in Exodus 34; and what Moses meant was, that God is irreconcilable to the impenitent. It has another meaning at the end of Joel 3, where it is said, ‘I will cleanse the blood which I have not cleansed.’ On that text interpreters differ; because they regard not the change in the tense of the verb; for God means, that he would cleanse the filth and defilements of his Church, which he had not previously cleansed. But Moses means, that God deals strictly with sinners, so as to remit no punishment. By clearing then I will not clear; that is, God will rigidly demand an account of all the actions of men; and as there is nothing hid from him, so everything done wickedly by men must come forth, when God ascends his tribunal; he will not clear by clearing, but will rigidly execute his judgment.
There seems to be some inconsistency in saying, — that God is reconcilable and ready to pardon, — and yet that by clearing he will not clear. But the aspect of things is different. We have already stated what the Prophet had in view: for inasmuch as the ungodly ever promise impunity to themselves, and in this confidence petulantly deride God himself, the Prophet answers them, and declares, that there was no reason why they thus abused God’s forbearance, for he says, By clearing he will not clear, that is, the reprobate: for our salvation consists in a free remission of sins; and whence comes our righteousness, but from the imputation of God, and from this — that our sins are buried in oblivion? yea, our whole clearing depends on the mercy of God. But God then exercises also his judgment, and by clearing he clears, when he remits to the faithful their sins; for the faithful by repentance anticipate his judgment; and he searches their hearts, that he may clear them. For what is repentance but condemnation, which yet turns out to be the means of salvation? As then God absolves none except the condemned, our Prophet here rightly declares, that by clearing he will not clears that is, he will not remit their sins, except he tries them and discharges the office of a judge; in short, that no sin is remitted by God which he does not first condemn. But with regard to the reprobate, who are wholly obstinate in their wickedness, the Prophet justly declares this to them, — that they have no hope of pardon, as they perversely adhere to their own devices, and think that they can escape the hand of God: the Prophet tells them that they are deceived, for God passes by nothing, and will not blot out one sin, until all be brought to mind.
He afterwards says, that the way of God is in the whirlwind and the tempest; that is, that God, as soon as he shows himself, disturbs the whole atmosphere, and excites storms and tempests: and this must be applied to the subject in hand; for the appearance of God is in other places described as lovely and gracious: nay, what else but the sight of God exhilarated the faithful? As soon as God turns away his face, they must necessarily be immersed in dreadful darkness, and be surrounded with horrible terrors. Why then does the Prophet say here, that the way of God is in the whirlwind and storms? Even because his discourse is addressed to the ungodly, or to the despisers of God himself, as in Psalm 18; where we see him described as being very terrible, — that clouds and darkness are around him, that he moves the whole earth, that he thunders on every side, that he emits smoke frown his nostrils, and that he fills the whole world with fire and burning. For what purpose was this done? Because David’s object was to set forth the judgments of God, which he had executed on the ungodly. So it is in this place; for Nahum speaks of the future vengeance, which was then nigh the Assyrians; hence he says, The way of God is in the whirlwind and tempest; that is, when God goes forth, whirlwinds and tempests are excited by his presence, and the whole world is put in confusion.
He adds, that the clouds are the dust of his feet When any one with his feet only moves the dust within a small space, some dread is produced: but God moves the dust, not only in one place, — what then? he obscures, and thus covers the whole heaven, The clouds then are the dust of his feet. We now apprehend the whole meaning of the Prophet, and the purpose for which this description is given. Of the same import is what follows —
Nahum continues his discourse, — that God, in giving proof of his displeasure, would disturb the sea or make it dry. There may be here an allusion to the history, described by Moses; for the Prophets, in promising God’s assistance to his people, often remind them how God in a miraculous manner brought up their fathers from Egypt. As then the passage through the Red Sea was in high repute among the Jews, it may be that the Prophet alluded to that event, (Exodus 14:22.) But another view seems to me more probable. We indeed know how impetuous an element is that of the sea; and hence in Jeremiah 5, God, intending to set forth his own power, says, that it is in his power to calm the raging of the sea, than which nothing is more impetuous or more violent. In the same manner also is the majesty of God described in Job 28. The meaning of this place, I think, is the same, — that God by his chiding makes the sea dry, and that he can dry up the rivers. That the prophet connects rivers with the sea, confirms what I have just said, — that the passage through the Red Sea is not here referred to; but that the object is to show in general how great is God’s power in governing the whole world.
To the same purpose is what he adds, Bashan shall be weakened, and Carmel, and the branch of Lebanon shall be weakened, or destroyed. By these words he intimates, that there is nothing so magnificent in the world, which God changes not, when he gives proofs of his displeasure; as it is said in Psalm 104,
‘Send forth thy Spirit, and they shall be renewed;’
and again, ‘Take away thy Spirit,’ or remove it, ‘and all things will return to the dust;’ yea, into nothing. So also Nahum says in this place, “As soon as God shows his wrath, the rivers will dry up, the sea itself will become dry, and then the flowers will fade and the grass will wither;” that is, though the earth be wonderfully ornamented and replenished, yet all things will be reduced to solitude and desolation whenever God is angry. And he afterwards adds —
Nahum continues still on the same subject, — that when God ascended his tribunal and appeared as the Judge of the world, he would not only shake all the elements, but would also constrain them to change their nature. For what can be less consonant to nature than for mountains to tremble, and for hills to be dissolved or to melt? This is more strange than what we can comprehend. But the Prophet intimates that the mountains cannot continue in their own strength, but as far as they are sustained by the favor of God. As soon, then, as God is angry, the mountains melt like snow, and flow away like water. And all these things are to be applied to this purpose, and are designed for this end, — that the wicked might not daringly despise the threatening of God, nor think that they could, through his forbearance, escape the punishment which they deserved: for he will be their Judge, however he may spare them; and though God is ready to pardon, whenever men hate themselves on account of their sins, and seriously repent; he will be yet irreconcilable to all the reprobate and the perverse. The mountains, then, before him tremble, and the hills dissolve or melt.
This useful instruction may be gathered from these words, that the world cannot for a moment stand, except as it is sustained by the favor and goodness of God; for we see what would immediately be, as soon as God manifests the signals of his judgment. Since the very solidity of mountains would be as snow or wax, what would become of miserable men, who are like a shadow or an apparition? They would then vanish away as soon as God manifested his wrath against them, as it is so in Psalm 39, that men pass away like a shadow. This comparison ought ever to be remembered by us whenever a forgetfulness of God begins to creep over us, that we may not excite his wrath by self-complacencies, than which there is nothing more pernicious. Burned, then shall be the earth, and the world, and all who dwell on it
The Prophet shows here why he gave in the part noticed in the last lecture, such an awful description of God; it was that men might know, that when they shall come before his tribunal, no one will be able to stand unless supported by his favor. Of the Prophet’s main object we have sufficiently spoken, nor is it necessary to repeat here what has been stated. It is enough to bear this in mind, — that as the enemies of the Church relied on their power; and daringly and immoderately raged against it, the judgment of God is here set before them, that they might understand that an account was to be rendered to him whose presence they were not able to bear. But the question has more force than if the Prophet had simply said, that the whole world could not stand before God: for he assumes the character of one adjuring. After having shown how terrible God is, he exclaims, Who shall stand before his indignation? and who shall be able to bear his wrath? for his indignation, he says, is poured forth as fire. The Hebrew interpreters have here toiled in vain: as the verb נתך, nutae, means to pour forth it seems to them an inconsistent expression, that the wrath of God should be poured forth as fire; for this would be more suitably said of some metal than of fire. But to be poured forth here is nothing else than to be scattered far and wide. Poured forth then is thy wrath as fire; that is, it advances every moment, as when a fire seizes a whole forest; and when it grows strong, we know how great is its violence, and how suddenly it spreads here and there. But if a different meaning be preferred, I do not much object to it, “His wrath, which is like fire, is poured out.”
Some think that the Prophet alludes to lightnings, which, as it were, melt through the air, at least as they appear to us. But as the meaning of the Prophet is sufficiently evident, there is no need of anxiously inquiring how fire is poured out: for I have already mentioned, that the Prophet means no other thing than the wrath of God spreads itself, so that it immediately takes hold, not only of one city but also of the widest regions and of the whole world, and is therefore like fire, for it passes through here and there, and that suddenly.
He then says, that rocks are also broken or dissolved before him. We must be aware how great our brittleness is. Since there is no hardness which melts not before God, how can men, who flow away of themselves like water, be so daring as to set themselves up against him? We hence see that the madness of men is here rebuked, who, trusting in their own strength, dare to contend even with God, because they forget their own frailty. This is the import of the whole. It now follows —
The Prophet expresses more clearly here what we referred to in our last lecture, — that God is hard and severe toward refractory men, and that he is merciful and kind to the teachable and the obedient, — not that God changes his nature, or that like Proteus he puts on various forms; but because he treats men according to their disposition. As then the Prophet has hitherto taught us, that God’s wrath cannot be sustained by mortals; so now, that no one might complain of extreme rigor, he, on the other hand, shows that God favors what is right and just, that he is gentle and mild to the meek, and therefore ready to bring help to the faithful, and that he leaves none of those who trust in him destitute of his aid.
First, by saying that God is good, he turns aside whatever might be objected on the ground of extreme severity. There is indeed nothing more peculiar to God than goodness. Now when he is so severe, that the very mention of his name terrifies the whole world, he seems to be in a manner different from himself. Hence the Prophet now shows that whatever he had hitherto said of the dreadful judgment of God, is not inconsistent with his goodness. Though God then is armed with vengeance against his enemies he yet ceases not to be like himself, nor does he forget his goodness. But the Prophet does here also more fully confirm the Israelites and the Jews in the belief, that God is not only terrible to the ungodly, but that, as he has promised to be the guardian of his Church, he would also succor the faithful, and in time alleviate their miseries. Good then is Jehovah; and it is added for help. The intention of the Prophet may be hence more clearly understood, when he says that he is for strength in the day of distress; as though he said, — “God is ever ready to bring help to his people:” And he adds, in the day of distress, that the faithful may not think that they are rejected, when God tries their patience by adversities. How much soever then God may subject his people to the cross and to troubles, he still succors them in their distress.
He lastly adds, He knows them who hope in him. This to know, is no other thing than not to neglect them. Hence God is said to know them who hope in him, because he always watches over them, and takes care of their safety: in short, this knowledge is nothing else but the care of God, or his providence in preserving the faithful. The Prophet, at the same time, distinguishes the godly and sincere worshipers of God from hypocrites: when God leaves many destitute who profess to believe in him, he justly withholds from them his favor, for they do not from the heart call on him or seek him.
We now then understand the Prophet’s meaning. He shows, on the one hand, that God is armed with power to avenge his enemies; And, on the other, he shows that God, as he has promised, is a faithful guardian of his Church. How is this proved? He sets before us what God is, that he is good; and then adds, that he is prepared to bring help. But he does not in vain mention this particular, — that he takes care of the faithful, who truly, and from the heart, hope in him; it is done, that they may understand that they are not neglected by God, and also that hypocrites may know that they are not assisted, because their profession is nothing else but dissimulation, for they hope not sincerely in God, however they may falsely boast of his name. It now follows —
The Prophet goes on with the same subject, — that God can easily preserve his people, for he is armed with power sufficient to overcome the whole world. But the Prophet now includes the two things which have been mentioned: Having spoken in general of God’s wrath, and of his goodness towards the faithful, he now applies his doctrine to the consolation of his chosen people. It is then a special application of his doctrine, when he says, By inundation, he, passing through, will make a consummation in her place There is a twofold interpretation of this verse.
Some make this distinction, — that God, as it were, in passing through, would consume the land of Israel and Judah, but that perpetual darkness would rest on his enemies. Hence they think, that the distress of the chosen people is distinguished from the overthrow of the kingdom of Asshur, for God would only for a time punish his own people, while he would give up profane and reprobate men to endless destruction. Then, by passing through, must be understood, according to these interpreters, a temporary distress or punishment; and by darkness, eternal ruin, or, so to speak, irreparable calamities. But the Prophet, I doubt not, in one connected sentence, denounces ultimate ruin on the Assyrians. By inundation, then, he, in passing, will make a consummation in her place; that is, God will suddenly overwhelm the Assyrian, as though a deluge should rise to cover the whole earth. He intimates, that God would not punish the Assyrians by degrees, as men sometimes do, who proceed step by step to avenge themselves, but suddenly. God, he says, will of a sudden thunder against the Assyrians, as when a deluge comes over a land. Hence this passing of God is opposed to long or slow progress; as though he said — “As soon as God’s wrath shall break forth or come upon the Assyrians, it will be all over, for a consummation will immediately follow: by inundation, he, passing through, will make a consummation in her place.” By place he means the ground; as though he had said that God would not only destroy the face of the land, but would also destroy the very grounds and utterly demolish it. A feminine pronoun is here added, because he speaks of the kingdom or nation, as it is usual in Hebrew. But it ought especially to be noticed that the Prophet threatens the Assyrians, that God would entirely subvert them, that he would not only demolish the surface, as, when fire or waters destroy houses, but that the Lord would reduce to nothing the land itself, even the very ground.
He adds, And pursue his enemies shall darkness He has designated the Assyrians only by a pronoun, as the Hebrews are wont to do; for they set down a pronoun relative or demonstrative, and it is uncertain of whom they speak; but they afterwards explain themselves. So does the Prophet in this place; for he directs his discourse to the Israelites and the Jews, and he begins by announcing God’s vengeance on Nineveh and its monarchy; but now he speaks as of a thing sufficiently known and adds, Pursue shall darkness the enemies of God By this second clause he intimates that the ruin of that kingdom would be perpetual. As then he had said that its destruction would be sudden, as God would, as it were, in a moment destroy the whole land; so now he cuts off from them every hope, that they might not think that they could within a while gather strength and rise again as it is the case with the wicked, who ever contend against God. The Prophet then shows that evil which God would bring on them would be without remedy. Some render the verb יררף, iredaph, transitively in this form, “He will pursue his enemies by darkness:” but as to the meaning of the Prophet there is but little or no difference; I therefore leave the point undecided. On the subject itself there is nothing ambiguous; the import of what is said is, — that God would, by a sudden inundation, destroy his enemies, — and that he would destroy them without affording any hope of restoration, for perpetual darkness would follow that sudden deluge. He afterwards adds —
Some interpreters so consider this verse also, as though the Prophet had said, that the calamity of the chosen people would not be a destruction, as God would observe some moderation and keep within certain limits. The unbelieving, we know, immediately exult, whenever the children of God are oppressed by adverse things, as though it were all over with the Church. Hence the Prophet here, according to these interpreters, meets and checks this sort of petulance, What imagine ye against God? He will indeed afflict his Church, but he will not repeat her troubles, for he will be satisfied with one affliction. They also think that the kingdom of Judah is here compared with the kingdom of Israel: for the kingdom of Israel had been twice afflicted: for, first, four tribes had been led away, and then the whole kingdom had been overturned. As then one calamity had been inflicted by Shalmanezar, and another by Tiglathpilezar, they suppose that there is here an implied comparison, as though the Prophet said, “God will spare the kingdom of Judah, and will not repeat his vengeance, as it happened to the kingdom of Israel.” But this meaning is forced and too far-fetched. The Prophet then, I doubt not, continues here his discourse, and denounces perpetual ruin on the enemies of the Church. He says first, What imagine ye against Jehovah? He exults over the Assyrians, because they thought that they had to do only with mortals, and also with a mean people, and now worn out by many misfortunes. For we know that the kingdom of Judah had been weakened by many wars before the Assyrians made an irruption into the land: they had suffered two severe and grievous attacks from their neighbors, the king of Israel and the king of Syria; for then it was that they made the Assyrians their confederates. When therefore the Assyrians came against Judea, they thought that they would have no trouble in obtaining victory, as they engaged in war with an insignificant people, and as we have said, worn out by evils. But the Prophet shows here that the war was with the living God, and not with men, as they falsely thought. What then imagine ye against Jehovah? as though he said, “Know ye not that this people are under the care and protection of God? Ye cannot then attack the kingdom of Judah without having God as your opponent. As it is certain that this people are defended by a divine power, there is no reason for you to think that you will be victorious.” At the same time, I know not why the Prophet’s words should be confined to the tribe of Judah, since the purpose was to comfort the Israelites as well as the Jews.
Now this is a very useful doctrine; for the Prophet teaches us in general, that the ungodly, whenever they harass the Church, not only do wrong to men, but also fight with God himself; for he so connects us with himself, that all who hurt us touch the apple of his eye, as he declares in another place, (Zechariah 2:8.) We may then gather invaluable comfort from these words; for we can fully and boldly set up this shield against our enemies, — that they devise their counsels, and make efforts against God, and assail him; for he takes us under his protection for this end, that whenever we are injured, he may stand in the middle as our defender. This is one thing.
Now in the second clause he adds, that he will make a complete end, Rise up again shall not distress; that is, God is able to reduce you to nothing, so that there will be no need to assail you the second time. This passage, we know, has been turned to this meaning, — that God does not punish men twice nor exceed moderation in his wrath: but this is wholly foreign to the mind of the Prophet. I have also said already that I do not approve of what others have said, who apply this passage to the Church and especially to the kingdom of Judah. For I thus simply interpret the words of the Prophet, — that God can with one onset, when it seems good to him, so destroy his enemies, that there will be no need of striving with them the second time: Il n’y faudra plus retourner, as we say in our language. God then will make a full end; that is, he will be able in one moment to demolish his enemies and the ruin will be complete, that is, the wasting will be entire. There will be no distress again or the second time; for it will be all over with the enemies of God; not that God observes always the same rule when he punishes his enemies, nor does Nahum here prescribe any general rule; but he simply means, that God, whenever it pleases him, instantly destroys his enemies. He afterwards adds —
He goes on with this same subject, — that God when he pleases to exercise his power, can, with no difficulty, consume his enemies: for the similitude, which is here added, means this, — that nothing is safe from God’s vengeance; for by perplexed thorns he understands things difficult to be handled. When thorns are entangled, we dare not, with the ends of our fingers, to touch their extreme parts; for wherever we put our hands, thorns meet and prick us. As then pricking from entangled thorns make us afraid, so none of us dare to come nigh them. Hence the Prophet says, they who are as entangled thorns; that is “However thorny ye may be, however full of poison, full of fury, full of wickedness, full of frauds, full of cruelty, ye may be, still the Lord can with one fire consume you, and consume you without any difficulty.” They were then as entangled thorns.
And then, as drunken by their own drinking. If we read so, the meaning is, — God or God’s wrath will come upon you as on drunker men; who, though they exult in their own intemperance, are yet enervated, and are not fit for fighting, for they have weakened their strength by extreme drinking. There seems indeed to be much vigor in a drunken man, for he swaggers immoderately and foams out much rage; but yet he may be cast down by a finger; and even a child can easily overcome a drunken person. It is therefore an apt similitude, — that God would manage the Assyrians as the drunken are wont to be managed; for the more audacity there is in drunken men, the easier they are brought under; for as they perceive no danger, and are, as it were, stupefied, so they run headlong with greater impetuosity. “In like manners” he says, “extreme satiety will be the cause of your ruin, when I shall attack you. Ye are indeed very violent; but all this your fury is altogether drunkenness: Come, he says, to you shall the vengeance of God as to those drunken with their own drinking.
Some render the last words, “To the drunken according to their drinking;” and this sense also is admissible; but as the Prophet’s meaning is still the same, I do not contend about words. Others indeed give to the Prophet’s words a different sense: but I doubt not but that he derides here that haughtiness by which the Assyrians were swollen, and compares it to drunkenness; as though he said, “Ye are indeed more than enough inflated and hence all tremble at your strength; but this your excess rather debilitates and weakens your powers. When God then shall undertake to destroy you as drunken men, your insolence will avail you nothing; but, on the contrary, it will be the cause of your ruin as ye offer yourselves of your own accord; and the Lord will easily cast you down, as when one, by pushing a drunken man, immediately throws him on the ground.”
And these comparisons ought to be carefully observed by us: for when there seems to be no probability of our enemies being destroyed, God can with one spark easily consume them. How so? for as fire consumes thorns entangled together, which no man dares to touch, so God can with one spark destroy all the wicked, however united together they may be. And the other comparison affords us also no small consolation; for when our enemies are insolent, and throw out high swelling words, and seem to frighten and to shake the whole world with their threatening, their excess is like drunkenness; there is no strength within; they are frantic but not strong, as is the case with all drunken men.
And he says, They shall be devoured as stubble of full dryness מלא, mela, means not only to be full, but also to be perfect or complete. Others render the words, “As stubble full of dryness,” but the sense is the same. He therefore intimates, that there would be nothing to prevent God from consuming the enemies of his Church; for he would make dry their whole vigor, so that they would differ nothing from stubble, and that very dry, which is in such a state, that it will easily take fire. It follows —
The Prophet now shows why God was so exceedingly displeased with the Assyrians, and that was, because he would, as a protector of his Church, defend the distressed against those who unjustly oppressed them. The Prophet then designed here to give the Jews a firm hope, so that they might know that God had a care for their safety; for if he had only threatened the Assyrians without expressing the reason, of what avail could this have been to the Jews? It is indeed gratifying and pleasing when we see our enemies destroyed; but this would be a cold and barren comfort, except we were persuaded that it is done by God’s judgment, because he loves us, because he would defend us, having embraced us with paternal love; but when we know this, we then triumph even when in extreme evils. We are indeed certain of our salvation, when God testifies, and really proves also, that he is not only propitious to us, but that our salvation is an object of his care. This is the Prophet’s design when he thus addresses Nineveh.
From thee has gone forth a devisor of evil against Jehovah, an impious adviser The manner of speaking is much more emphatical, when he says, that the Assyrians consulted against God, than if he had said, that they had consulted against the Jews, or consulted against the chosen people of God.
But though this was said of the Jews, let us yet remember that it belongs also to us. The Prophet confirms the doctrine which I lately alluded to, that whenever the ungodly cause trouble to us, they carry on war with God himself, that whenever they devise any evil against us, they run headlong against him. For God sets up himself as a shield, and declares, that he will protect under the shadow of his wings all those who commit themselves to his protection. If we then lie hid under the guardianship of God, and flee to him in all our adversities, and while patiently enduring all wrongs, implore his protection and help, whosoever then will rise up against us will have God as his enemy. Why so? because he consults against him. And this reason shows, that whatever the Prophet has hitherto said against the Assyrians ought to be extended indiscriminately to all the enemies of the Church. For why did God threaten the Assyrians with a sudden inundation and with perpetual darkness? The reason is here subjoined, — because they consulted against him and his Church. The same thing then will also happen to our enemies, provided we remain quiet, as it has been said, under the protection of God.
But when he says that he had gone forth from that city who contrived evil against Jehovah, — this ought not to be confined to Sennacherib, but must rather be viewed as common to all the Assyrians; as though he said, “Thou produces the fruit which thou shalt eat; for from thee will arise the cause of thy ruin. There is no reason for thee to expostulate with God, as though he cruelly raged against thee; for from thee has gone forth he who devised evil against Jehovah: thou reapest now the reward worthy of thy bringing forth; for where have originated counsels against the Church of God, except in thine own bosom, and in thine own bowels? The evil then which has proceeded from thee shall return on thine own head.”
He then adds, An impious consulter, or counselor, בליעל יועף, ivots beliol. Respecting the word בליעל, beliol, the Hebrews themselves are not agreed. There are those who suppose it to be a compound word, בל יעל, It profits not; and they think that it is applied to designate things of nought as well as men of nought. 218 There are others who, like Jerome, render it, Without a yoke, but without reason. Then Beliol, is properly a vain thing, which is wholly unsubstantial; and so it designates a man in whom there is no integrity. It is also applied to all the wicked, and to their crimes: hence a thing or work of Belial is said to be any heinous sin or a detestable crime; and the man who acts perversely and wickedly is called Belial. And Paul takes Belial simply for the very gravity of Satan, and of all the wicked; for he opposes Belial to Christ, (2 Corinthians 6:15.) We now then understand the meaning of the Prophet to be this, — that God denounces war on the Assyrians, because they made war unjustly on his people, and consulted not only against the Jews, but also against God, who had taken them, as it has been stated, under his own keeping and protection. It follows —
The Prophet pursues here the same subject; but expresses more clearly what might have been doubtful, — that whatever strength there might be in the Assyrians, it could not resist the coming of God’s vengeance. For thus saith Jehovah, Though they be quiet and also strong, etc. I cannot now finish this subject, but will only say this, — The Prophet intimates that though Nineveh promised to itself a tranquil state, because it was well fortified, and had a wide and large extent of empire, yet this thy peace, he says, or this thy confidence and security, shall not be an impediment, that the hand of God should not be extended to thee. Though, then, they be many or strong etc.; for we can render רבים, rebim, strong as well as many; but either would suit this place; for we understand the Prophet’s meaning to be, that all God’s enemies would be cut off, however secure they might be, while depending on their own strength and fortresses. The rest to-morrow.
He confirms what the former verse contains, — that God would now cease from his rigor; for he says, that the deliverance of this chosen people was nigh, when God would break down and reduce to nothing the tyranny of that empire. This verse clearly shows, that a clause in the preceding verse ought not to be so restricted as it is by some interpreters, who regard it as having been said of the slaughter of the army of Sennacherib. But the Prophet addresses here in common both the Israelites and the Jews, as it is evident from the context; and this verse also sufficiently proves, the Prophet does not speak of the Jews only; for they had not been so subdued by the Assyrians as the Israelites had been. I indeed allow that they became tributaries; for when they had broken their covenant, the Assyrian, after having conquered the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Syria, extended his arms at length to Judea. It is then certain, that they had been in some measure under the yoke; but it was not so hard a servitude that the words of the Prophet could be applied to it. I therefore take the expression generally, that God would free from the tyranny of Nineveh his own people, both the Israelites and the Jews. If any one objects and says, that the Israelites were never delivered. This indeed is true; but as to Nineveh, they were delivered when the empire was transferred to the Chaldeans, and Babylon became the seat of the empire.
We now then see, that the meaning of our Prophet is simply this, — that though God by the Assyrians chastised his people, he yet did not forget his covenant, for the Assyrians were punished. It was then sufficient for his purpose to say that the Jews as well as the Israelites were no longer under the yoke of Nineveh, how much soever they might have afterwards suffered under other tyrants. And what is said about the yoke being broken, belongs also in some measure to the Jews; for when we extend this to both, the Israelites and also the Jews, it would not be unsuitable to say, that they were both under the yoke and bound with chains. For though the servitude of Israel was hard, yet the Jews had also been deprived of their liberty. It is then right that this which is said should be taken generally, I will now break his yoke from thee, and thy bonds will I burst
Now this verse teaches us, that the people were not so subdued by the tyranny of their enemies, but that their deliverance was always in the hand and power of God. For how came it, that the Assyrians prevailed against the Israelites, and then subjugated the Jews, except that they were as a rod in the hand of God? So Isaiah teaches us in the tenth chapter. Though they armed themselves, they were yet but as the weapons and arms of God, for they could not have made any movement, except the Lord had turned their course, wherever he pleased, as when one throws a javelin or a dart with his hand. It follows —
Nahum explains more clearly, and without a figure, what he had previously said of darkness, — that the kingdom of Nineveh would be so overturned, that it could never recruit its strength and return again to its pristine state. He indeed addresses the king himself, but under his person he includes no doubt the whole kingdom.
Commanded then has Jehovah, he says, respecting thee, let there not be sown of thy name; that is, God has so decreed, that the memory of thy name shall not survive: for to sow from the name of one, is to extend his fame. When, therefore, God entirely exterminates a race from the world, or when he obliterates a nation, he is said to command that there should not be sown of such a name; that is, that there should be no propagation of that name. In short, our Prophet denounces on the Assyrians a ruin, from which they were never to rise again. And when such a command is ascribed to God, it means, that by the sole bidding of God both nations and kingdoms are propagated, and are also abolished and destroyed: for what is said of individuals ought to be extended to all nations, ‘Seed, or the fruit of the womb,’ as it is said in the Psalms, ‘is the peculiar gift of God,’ (Psalm 127.) For how comes it, that many are without children, while others have a large and a numerous family, except that God blesses some, and makes others barren? The same is to be thought of nations; the Lord propagates them and preserves their memory; but when it seems good to him, he reduces them to nothing, so that no seed remains. And when the Prophet testifies, that this is the command of Jehovah, he confirms the faith of the Israelites and of the Jews, that they might not doubt, but that the Assyrians would perish without any hope of restoration; for it was so decreed by Heaven.
He afterwards adds, From the house, or from the temple, of thy gods will I cut off graven images. It is probable, and it is the commonly received opinion, that the Prophet alludes here to Sennacherib, who was slain in the temple of his idol by his own sons, shortly after his return from Judea, when the siege of the holy city was miraculously raised through the instrumentality of an angel. As then he was slain in the temple, and it was by his murder profaned, I am inclined to receive what almost all others maintain, that there is here a reference to his person: but, at the same time, the Prophet no doubt describes, under the person of one king, the destruction and ruin of the whole kingdom. Gods indeed, did at that time make known what he had determined respecting the empire of Nineveh and all the Assyrians; for from this event followed also the change, that Nebuchodonosor transferred the empire to Babylon, and that the whole race, and every one who assumed power, became detestable. When, therefore, the Assyrians were torn by intestine discords, it was an easy matter for the Chaldeans to conquer them. Hence the Prophet does not here predict respecting one king only; but as his murder was, as it were, a prelude of the common ruin, the Prophet relates this history as being worthy of being remembered, — that the temple would be profaned by the murder of Sennacherib, and that then the monarchy would be soon transferred to the Chaldeans.
When he says, I will appoint thy sepulcher, he connects this clause with the former; for how was it that idols were cut off from that temple, except that that tragic deed rendered the place detestable? For there is no one who feels not a horror at such a base crime as that of children killing their father with their own hands. We know when a proud woman at Rome ordered her chariot to be drawn over the dead body of her father, the road was counted polluted. So also the temple was no doubt viewed as polluted by the murder of the king. Then these two clauses ought to be read together, that God would cut off idols and graven images from the temple, — and then, that the sepulcher of Sennacherib would be there.
He adds, For thou art execrable I have rendered קלות, kolut, a thing to be abominated. It may indeed be referred to that history; but I take it by itself as meaning, that Sennacherib was to be abominable, and not he alone, but also the whole royal family, and the monarchy of Nineveh. For it is not consistent, as we have said already, to say, that all these things refer to the person of Sennacherib; for the Prophet speaks of the destruction of the city and nation, and that generally; at the same time, this does not prevent him from referring, as it were, in passing, to the person of Sennacherib.
It must, at the same time, be noticed, that the vain confidence, which the Assyrian kings placed in their idols and graven images, is here indirectly reproved; for we know that idolaters not only confide in their own strength, but that a part of their hope is also founded on their superstitions. Hence the Prophet says, that their temple was to be profaned by God, so that no aid would remain to the Assyrians, to the kings themselves any more than to the whole people. Let us proceed —
The Prophet again teaches us, that whatever he prophesied respecting the destruction of the city Nineveh, was for this end, — that God, by this remarkable evidence, might show that he had a care for his people, and that he was not unmindful of the covenant he had made with the children of Abraham. This prophecy would have otherwise produced no salutary effect on the Israelites; they might have thought that it was by chance, or by some fatal revolution, or through some other cause, that Nineveh had been overthrown. Hence the Prophet shows, that the ruin of the city, and of the monarchy of Nineveh, would be a proof of the paternal love of God towards his chosen people, and that such a change was to be made for the sake of one people, because God, though he had for a time punished the Israelites, yet purposed that some seed should remain, for it would have been inconsistent, that the covenant, which was to be inviolate, should be entirely abolished. We now then understand the Prophet’s object, and how this verse is to be connected with the rest of the context.
Behold, he says, on the mountains the feet of him who announces peace Some think that the Prophet alludes to the situation of Jerusalem. We indeed know that mountains were around it: but the Prophet speaks more generally, — that heralds of peace shall ascend to the tops of mountains, that their voice might be more extensively heard: Behold, he says, on the mountains the feet of him who announces peace; for all the roads had been before closed up, and hardly any one dared to whisper. If any one inquired either respecting peace or war, there was immediate danger lest he should fall under suspicion. As then the Assyrians, by their tyrannical rule, had deprived the Israelites of the freedom of speech, the Prophet says now, that the feet of those who should announce peace would be on the mountains; that is, that there would be now free liberty to proclaim peace on the highest places. By feet, he means, as we have explained, coming; and Isaiah speaks a similar language,
‘How beautiful are the feet of those who announce peace,
who announce good things!’ (Isaiah 52:7.)
Arise, then, he says, shall heralds of peace everywhere: and the repetition in other words seems to express this still more clearly; for he says, of him who announces and causes to hear He might have simply said מבשר, mebesher, but he adds משמיע, meshemio; not only, he says, he will announce peace, but also with a clear and loud voice, so that his preaching may be heard from the remotest places. We now perceive what the Prophet had in view, and what his words import.
Now he adds, Celebrate, Judah, thy festal days. It is indeed a repetition of the same word, as if we were to say in Latin, Festiva festivitates, feast festivities; but this has nothing to do with the meaning of the passage. I am disposed to subscribe to the opinion of those who think, that there is here an intimation of the interruption of festal days; for so disordered were all things at Jerusalem and in the country around, that sacrifices had ceased, and festal days were also intermitted; for sacred history tells us, that the Passover was celebrated anew under Hezekiah, and also under Josiah. This omission no doubt happened, owing to the wars by which the country had been laid waste. Hence the Prophet now intimates, that there would be quietness and peace for the chosen people, so that they might all without any fear ascend to Jerusalem, and celebrate their festal days, and give thanks to the Lord, and rejoice before him, according to the language often used by Moses. At the same time, the Prophet no doubt reminds the Jews for what end the Lord would break off the enemy’s yoke, and exempt them from servile fear, and that was, that they might sacrifice to God and worship him, while enjoying their quiet condition. And that he addresses Judah is not done without reason; for though the kingdom of Israel was not as yet so rejected, that God did not regard them as his people, yet there were no legitimate sacrifices among them, and no festal days which God approved: we indeed know that the worship which prevailed there was corrupt and degenerated. Inasmuch then as God repudiated the sacrifices which were offered in Israel, Nahum addresses here his discourse to Judah only; but yet he intimates, that God had been thus bountiful to the Israelites, that they, remembering their deliverance, might give him thanks.
Let us then know, that when the Lord grants us tranquillity and preserves us in a quiet state, this end ought ever to be kept in view, — that it is his will, that we should truly serve him. But if we abuse the public peace given us, and if pleasures occasion a forgetfulness of God, this ingratitude will by no means be endured. We ought, indeed, in extreme necessities to sacrifice to God, as we have need then especially of fleeing to his mercy; but as we cannot so composedly worship him in a disturbed state of mind, he is pleased to allow us peaceable times. Now, if we misapply this leisure, and indulge in sloth, yea, if we become so heedless as to neglect God, this as I have said will be an intolerable evil. Let us then take notice of the Prophet’s words in setting forth the design of God, — that he would free his people from the power of the Assyrians, that they might celebrate their festal days.
He adds, Pay thy vows He not only speaks here of the ordinary sacrifices and of the worship which had been prescribed; but he also requires a special proof of gratitude for having been then delivered by the hand of God; for we know what paying of vows meant among the Hebrews: they were wont to offer peace-offerings, when they returned victorious from war, or when they were delivered from any danger, or when they were relieved from some calamity. The Prophet therefore now shows, that it was right to pay vows to God, inasmuch as he had dealt so bountifully with his people; as it is said in Psalm 116, ‘What shall I return to the Lord for all his benefits which he has bestowed on me? The cup of salvation will I take, and on the name of the Lord will I call.’ We also find it thus written in Hosea,
‘The calves of thy lips to me shalt thou render,’
We now perceive what Nahum substantially meant, — that when peace was restored, the people were not to bury so great and so remarkable a kindness of God, but to pay their vows; that is, that the people were to testify that God was the author of their deliverance, and that the redemption which they had obtained was the peculiar work of God.
It follows, “Add no more to pass through thee shall Belial, for utterly is he cut off.” This passage must not be explained in a general sense; for we know that the Chaldeans became more grievous to the Jews than the Assyrians had been; but the Prophet here refers especially to the Ninevites, that is, to the Assyrians, whose metropolis, as it has been said, was Nineveh. That wicked one then shall not add any more to pass through thee. — Why? for he is entirely cut off. This reason given by the Prophet clearly proves, that he speaks not of the wicked generally, but that he especially points out the Assyrians. Now follows —Calvin's Bible Commentaries: Jonah, Micah, Nahum: (Forgotten Books)
The waster spoken of here by the Prophet, some consider him to have been Sennacherib, and others, Nebuchodonosor. The verb עלה, ole, is also variously explained: it is often taken metaphorically in Hebrew for vanishing, as we say in French, Il s’en va en fumee; for smoke ascends, and this is the reason for the metaphor. They then elicit this meaning, — that a destroyer had ascended before the face of the chosen people, that is, openly; so that it was evidently the work of God, that the Assyrians vanished, who had come to lay waste the whole land: Vanished then has the destroyer; and then before thy face, that is, manifestly, and before thine eyes. מצורה נצור, nutsur metsure, guard the fortress; that is let every one return to his own city, and keep watch, as it is usually done; for the country shall be left without men; and watch the way, that is, look out which way Sennacherib took in coming to assail the holy city; that way shall be now free from enemies; and then, keep firm or strengthen the loins, for חזק, chesek, sometimes means to keep firm, — keep firm then or strengthen the loins, that thou mayest not relax as before, but stand courageously, for there is no one who can terrify thee; and, lastly, fortify strength greatly, that is, doubt not but thou shalt be hereafter strong enough to retain thy position; for cut off shall be that monarchy, which has been an oppression to thee. But others take a different view and say, — that the destroyer had ascended, that is, that Sennacherib had come; and what follows, they think, was intended to strike terror, as though the Prophet said “Now while ye are besieged keep watch, and be careful to preserve your fortresses and strengthen all your strongholds; but all this will avail nothing. — Why? Because God has taken away the pride of Jacob as he has the pride of Israel.” This is the second explanation. Others again think, that the Prophet addresses here the Assyrians, and that Nebuchodonosor is here called a waster, by whom the empire was removed, and Nineveh, as it has often been stated, was destroyed. According to these interpreters, the Prophet here denounces ruin on the Assyrians in this manner, — “The destroyer now ascends before thy face.” The Assyrians might indeed have regarded such threatening with disdain, when they were surrounded by many provinces and had cities well fortified: — “It will not be,” he says, “according to your expectation; the waster will yet come” before thy face; and how much soever thou mayest now guard thy fortresses, watch thy ways, and carefully look around to close up every avenue against thy enemies, thou wilt yet effect nothing; strengthen the loins as much as thou pleasest and increase thy power, yet this shall be useless and vain.” If this view be approved, it will be in confirmation of what has been previously said, — that God had now determined to destroy the city Nineveh and the empire possessed by the Assyrians. This meaning then is not unsuitable; but if we receive this view, something additional must also be stated, and that is, — that God now designed to destroy Nineveh and its monarchy, because it had humbled more than necessary his people, the kingdom of Judah, as well as the ten tribes. I cannot proceed farther now.
What is now subjoined has been added, in my view, in reference to what had already taken place, that is that God had taken away the pride of Jacob, as the pride of Israel Some give this rendering, “God has made to returns or to rest;” and they take גאון, gaun, in a good sense, as meaning courage or glory. The sense, according to these, would be, — that God, having routed the army of Sennacherib, or destroyed the Assyrians, would make the ancient glory of his people to return; for both kingdoms had fallen. They then understand this to have been said respecting the restoration of the whole people; and they who translate, “he will make to rest,” think that continual peace is here promised to the Israelites, as well as to the Jews. But, on the contrary, it appears to me, that the Prophet shows, that it was the ripened time for the destruction of the city Nineveh, for God had now humbled his people. He had then taken away the pride of Jacob, as the pride of Israel; that is, God, having first corrected the pride of Israel, had also applied the same remedy to Judah: thus the whole people were humbled, and had left off their extreme height; for גאון, gaun, for the most part, is taken in a bad sense, for haughtiness or pride. This then is the reason why God now declares, that the ruin of Nineveh was nigh at hand; it was so, because the Jews and the Israelites had been sufficiently brought down. This sense is the most suitable.
And then for the same purpose is the next clause, — that the emptiers had emptied, that is that robbers had pillaged them, and left nothing to remain for them. There is a passage in Isaiah which corresponds with this, where it is said, — that when the Lord had completed his work on mount Zion and in Jerusalem, he would then turn his vengeance against the Assyrians, (Isaiah 10:12:) but why were they not sooner destroyed? Because the Lord designed to employ them for the purpose of chastising the Jews. Until then the whole work of God was completed, that is, until he had so corrected their pride, as wholly to cast it down, it was not his purpose to destroy the Ninevites; but they were at length visited with destruction. The same thing does our Prophet now teach us here, — that Nebuchodonosor would come to demolish Nineveh, when the Lord had taken away the haughtiness of his people.
What follows, Ανδ τηεψ ηαςε δεστροψεδ τηειρ σηοοτσ, or their branches, I take metaphorically, because the Israelites, as to outward appearances had been pulled up by the roots; for before the eyes of their enemies they were reduced to nothing, and their very roots were torn ups so that they perceived nothing left. The Lord indeed always preserved a hidden remnant; but this was done beyond the perceptions of men. But what the Prophet says metaphorically of the ruined branches, is to be understood of what was apparent.
The Prophet describes here how dreadful the Chaldeans would be when prepared against the Assyrians. He says, The shield of his brave men is made red Some think that their shields were painted red, that blood might not appear; and that the soldiers had on red garments, that they might not be frightened in case they were wounded; and this is what history records of the Lacedemonians. But as the habits of these nations are not much known to us, it is enough for us to know, that their warlike appearance is here described; as though he had said, that the Chaldeans would come against Nineveh with violent and terrible power. Hence he says, that the men of his strength would be clad in scarlet; he refers no doubt to the color of their dress. Some expound this of the Assyrians, and say that their shame is here designated; but this is too strained. The Prophet, I have no doubt, describes here the Chaldeans, and shows that they would be so armed that even their very appearance would put to flight their enemies, that is, the Assyrians.
For the same purpose he afterwards adds, With fire of torches, or lamps, is the chariot in the day of his expedition. The word פלדות, peladut, occurs nowhere else; and the Jews think that the letters are inverted, and that it should be לפידות, as this word is afterwards used by the Prophet in the next verse, and in the same sense. It is certainly evident from the context that either torches or lamps are meant by the Prophet. His chariot then is with the fire of lamps, that is, his chariots drive so impetuously that they appear as flames of fire, when wheels roll with such velocity.
And the fir-trees, he says, are terrible shaken Some translate, “are inebriated” or, “stunned;” and they apply this to the Assyrians, — that their great men (whom they think are here compared to fir-trees, or are metaphorically designated by them) were stunned through amazement. Astonished then shall be the principal men among the Assyrians; for the very sight of their enemies would render them, as it were, lifeless; for the verb רעל, rol, is taken by some in the sense of infecting with poison, or of stupefying. But their opinion is more correct who think that fir-trees are to be taken for lances, though they do not sufficiently express the meaning of the Prophet; for he means, I have no doubt, that such would be the concussion among the lances, that it would be like that of fir-trees, tossed here and there in the forest. For lances, we know, are made of fir-trees, because it is a light wood and flexible, as when any one says in our language, les lances branslent. The lances then trembled, or shook in the hands of the soldiers, as fir-trees shake. Thus we see that the Prophet here continues to describe the terrible appearance of the Chaldeans. Let us go on —
He still goes on with the same subject, — that they shall be furious in the streets that is, that they shall he so turbulent, as though they were out of their minds: as furious men are wont to be who are impetuously carried away beyond all reason and moderation, so shall they also become mad in their tumult. He then says, They shall hasten. The verb is derived from the hips; for he who hastens shakes the hips, and moves them with a quick motion; and if it be lawful to coin a word, it is, they shall hip; Ils remueront les hanches. This is what the Prophet meant. And then, Their appearance shall be as lamps. He refers here to the chariots. They shall then be like lamps; that is they shall dazzle the eyes of beholders with their brightness. All these things are intended to set forth what is terrific. He says also, as lightning they shall run here and there.
In short, he intimates, that the impetuosity of the Chaldeans would be so violent as to surpass what is commonly witnessed among men, that it would be, as it were, a species of fury and madness sent down from above. Thus, then, they were to be like lightning and flames of fire, that they might exceed every thing human. But these forms of speech, though they are hyperbolical, were not yet used without reason; for we may easily conjecture how great was then the security of the city Nineveh, and how incredible was the event of its ruin. That monarchy was then preeminent over every other in the whole world, and no one could have thought that it could ever be assailed. Since then it was difficult to persuade the Jews that ruin was nigh the Assyrians, it was necessary for the Prophet to accumulate these various forms of expressions, by which he sets forth the power of God in the destruction of the Assyrians. It afterwards follows —
Some interpreters explain this also of the Chaldeans: The king of Babylon then shall remember his mighty men; that is, shall recount his forces and whatever strength he will have under his power; all this he will collect to make war with Nineveh and the Assyrians. Others think that there is here a transposition in the words, (which is too strained,) “Mighty men shall remember,” as though it were a change of number. But I take the words of the Prophet simply as they are, — that he will remember mighty men: but this, as I think, refers to the Assyrians. He then, that is, either the king of Nineveh, or the people, will remember the mighty men; that is, he will gather from every quarter his forces and will omit nothing which may avail for defense; as it is usually done in great danger and in extremities: for they were noted then as warlike men; and every one who had any skill, every one who was endued with courage, every one who was trained up in arms, all these were mustered, that they might give help. So then the Prophet says, that such would be the dread in the land of Assyria, that they would collect together whatever force they had, to defend themselves against their enemies. The king then shall remember his mighty men, that is, he will muster all the subsidies within his reach.
Then he says, They shall stumble in their march; that is, the mighty men, when gathered, shall tremble and stumble like the blind: and this will be occasioned by fear; so that like men astounded, they will move to and fro, and have no certain footing. The Prophet then declares here two things, that the Assyrians would be diligent in gathering forces to repel the assault of their enemies, — but that yet they would effect nothing, for trembling would seize the minds of all, so that mighty men would stumble in their marches. They shall stumble, and then it is said, they shall hasten to its wall, that is, they shall ascend the wall; and it is added, Prepared shall be the covering, as it is usual in defending cities. Some apply this to the Chaldeans; prepared shall be the covering, that is, when they shall come to the wall. It was indeed usual, as it is well known from histories, for those who approached a wall to defend themselves either with turrets or hurdles. But the Prophet, I doubt not, intimates, that the Assyrians would come with great trembling to meet their enemies, but without any success. However then they might defend themselves, their enemies would yet prevail. He therefore subjoins —
By the gates of the rivers the Prophet means that part of the city which was most fortified by the river Tigris; for the Tigris flowed close by the city. As then the Tigris was like the strongest defense, (for we know it to have been a most rapid river,) the Prophet ridicules the confidence of the Ninevites, who thought that the access of enemies could be wholly prevented in that part where the Tigris flowed. The gates then of the rivers are opened; that is, your river shall not prevent your enemies from breaking through and penetrating into your city.
We hence see, that the Prophet removes all the hindrances which might have seemed available to keep off enemies; and he did so, not so much for the sake of Nineveh as for the sake of his chosen people, that the Israelites and Jews might know, that that city was no less in the power of God than any other; for God can no less easily pass through rivers than go along the plain, where there is no obstacle. We now see why the Prophet says, that the gates of the rivers were opened: and then he adds, The palace is dissolved; that is, there will be no impediment to prevent the approach of enemies; for all the fortresses will melt away, and that of themselves, as though they were walls of paper, and the stones, as though they were water. He afterwards adds —
There is some ambiguity in these words, and many interpreters think that הצב, estab, to be the name of the queen. The queen then they say, of the name of הצב, estab, is drawn away into exile; she is bidden to ascend, that she might migrate to a hostile land. But this view is too strained; nor was there any reason to suppose the word to be a proper name, except that there was a wish to say something, and that there was no other conjecture more probable. But I regard their opinion more correct, who refer this to the state of the kingdom; and there is here, I have no doubt, a personification, which is evident if we attend to the meaning. If any one prefers to regard the queen as intended, it would yet be better to take הצב, estab, in its proper and real meaning, — that the queen, previously hid in her palace, and hardly able, through being so delicate, to move a step, — that she was brought forth to the light; for גלה, gele, means to uncover, and also to cast out. If we render it, was made manifest, the Prophet alludes to hiding-places, and means that the queen did not go forth to the light, but was like delicate women who keep themselves within their chambers: but if we render it, Who is drawn forth into exile, it would be more suitable to one who was previously fixed in her dwelling. The word comes from יצב, itsab, to stand; but it is here in Hophal, הוצב, eustab,: it then signifies one who was before fixed and firmly settled, that is, in her concealment; she is drawn, he says, into exile. If then any one chooses to refer this to the person of the queen, the most suitable meaning would be, — that the queen, who before sat in the midst of her pleasures, shall be violently drawn into exile, and carried away to another country. And it is probable that the Prophet speaks of the queen, because it immediately follows, Her handmaids lead her as with the voice of doves, and smite on their breasts; that is, her maids, who before flattered her, shall laments and with sighing and tears, and mourning, shall lead away, as a captive, their own mistress. Thus the context would harmonize.
But, as I have said, their opinion seems right, who think that under the person of a woman the state of the kingdom is here described. She then, who before stood, or remained fixed, shall be drawn into captivity; or she, who before sat at leisure, shall be discovered; that is, she shall no more lie hid as hitherto in her retirement, but shall be forced to come abroad. And then, she shall ascend; that is, vanish away, for the verb is to be here taken metaphorically; she shall then vanish away, or be reduced to nothing. And as the Prophet sets a woman here before us, what follows agrees with this idea, — Her handmaids shall weep and imitate the doves in their moaning; that is, the whole people shall bewail the fate of the kingdom, when things shall be so changed, as when handmaids lead forth their own mistress, who had been before nourished in the greatest delicacies.
Now this accumulation of words was by no means in vain; for it was necessary to confirm, by many words, the faith of the Israelites and of the Jews respecting the near approach of the destruction of the city Nineveh, which would have been otherwise incredible; and of this we can easily form a judgment by our own experience. If any one at this day were to speak of mighty kings, whose splendor amazes the whole world, — if any one were to announce the ruin of the kingdom of one of them, it would appear like a fable. This then is the reason why the Prophet, by so many figures, sets forth an event which might have been expressed in few words, and confirms it by so many forms of speech, and even by such as are hyperbolical. He at length subjoins —
The prophet here anticipates a doubt which might have weakened confidence in his words; for Nineveh not only flourished in power, but it had also confirmed its strength during a long course of time; and antiquity not only adds to the strength of kingdoms, but secures authority to them. As then the imperial power of the city Nineveh was ancient, it might seem to have been perpetual: “Why! Nineveh has ever ruled and possessed the sovereign power in all the east; can it be now shaken, or can its strength be now suddenly subverted? For where there is no beginning, we cannot believe that there will be any end.” And a beginning it had not, according to the common opinion; for we know how the Egyptians also fabled respecting their antiquity; they imagined that their kingdom was five thousand years before the world was made; that is, in numbering their ages they went back nearly five thousand years before the creation. The Ninevites, no doubt, boasted that they had ever been; and as they were fixed in this conceit respecting their antiquity, no one thought that they could ever fail. This is the reason why the Prophet expressly declares, that Nineveh had been like a pool of waters from ancient days; 231 that is, Nineveh had been, as it were, separated from the rest of the world; for where there is a pool, it seems well fortified by its own banks, no one comes into it; when one walks on the land he does not enter into the waters. Thus, then, had Nineveh been in a quiet state not only for a short time, but for many ages. This circumstance shall not, however, prevent God from overturning now its dominion. How much soever, then, Nineveh took pride in the notion of its ancientness, it was yet God’s purpose to destroy it.
He says then, They flee: by fleeing, he means, that, though not beaten by their enemies, they would yet be overcome by their own fear. He then intimates, that Nineveh would not only be destroyed by slaughter, but that all the Assyrians would flee away, and despair would deliver them up to their enemies. Hence the Chaldeans would not only be victorious through their courage and the sword, but the Assyrians, distrusting their own forces, would flee away.
It afterwards follows, Stand ye, stand ye, and no one regards. Here the Prophet places, as it were, before our eyes, the effect of the dread of which he speaks. He might have given a single narrative, — that though one called them back they would not dare to look behind; and that, thinking that safety alone was in flight, they would pursue their course. The Prophet might have formed this sort of narrative: this he has not done; but he assumes the person of one calling back the fugitives, as though he saw them fleeing away, and tried to bring them back: No one, he says, regards We now see what the Prophet meant.
But from this passage we ought to learn that no trust is to be put in the number of men, nor in the defenses and strongholds of cities, nor in ancientness; for when men excel in power, God will hence take occasion to destroy them, inasmuch as pride is almost ever connected with strength. It can hardly be but that men arrogate too much to themselves when they think that they excel in any thing. Thus it happens, that on account of their strength they run headlong into ruin; not that God has any delight, as profane men imagine, when he turns upside down the face of the earth, but because men cannot bear their own success, nor keep themselves within moderate bounds, but many triumph against God: hence it is that human power recoils on the head of those who possess it. The same things must also be said of ancientness: for they who boast of their antiquity, know not for how long a time they have been provoking the wrath of God; for it cannot be otherwise but that abundance of itself generates licentiousness, or that it at least leads to excess; and further, they who are the most powerful are the most daring in corrupting others. Hence the increase at putridity; for men are like the dead when not ruled by the fear of God. A dead body becomes more and more fetid the longer it continues putrifying; and so it is with men. When they have been for a long time sinning, and still continue to sin, the fetidness of their sins increases, and the wrath of God is more and more provoked. There is then no reason why ancientness should deceive us. And if, at any time, we are tempted to think that men are sufficiently fortified by their own strength, or by numerous auxiliaries, or that they are, as it were sacred through their own ancientness, let what is said here come to our minds, — that Nineveh had been like a pool of waters from the ancient days; but that, when it was given up to destruction, it fled away; and that, when their enemies did not rout them, they yet, being driven by their own fear, ran away and would not stop, though one called them to return.
Here the Prophet, as it were, by the command and authority of God, gives up Nineveh to the will of its enemies, that they might spoil and plunder it. Some think that this address is made in the name of a general encouraging his soldiers; but we know that the Prophets assume the person of God, when they thus command any thing with authority; and it is a very emphatical mode of speaking. It is adopted, that we may know that the Prophets pour not forth an empty sound when they speak, but really testify what God here determined to do, and what he in due time will execute. As then we know, that this manner of speaking is common to the Prophets there is no reason to apply this to the person of Nebuchadnezzar or of any other. God then shows here that Nineveh was given up to ruin; and therefore he delivered it into the hands of enemies.
It is indeed certain, that the Babylonians, in plundering the city, did not obey God’s command; but yet it is true, that they punished the Assyrians through the secret influence of God: for it was his purpose to visit the Ninevites for the cruelty and avarice for which they had been long notorious, and especially for having exercised unexampled barbarity toward the Jews. This is the reason why God now gives them up to the Babylonians and exposes them to plunder. But as I have spoken at large elsewhere of the secret judgments of God, I shall only briefly observe here, — that God does not command the Babylonians and Chaldeans in order to render them excusable, but shows by his Prophet, that Nineveh was to be destroyed by her enemies, not by chance, but that it was his will to avenge the wrongs done to his people. At the same time, we must bear in mind what we have said elsewhere, — that the Prophets thus speak when the execution is already prepared; for God does not in vain or without reason terrify men, but he afterwards makes it manifest by the effect: as he created the world from nothing by his word, so also by his word he executes and fulfill his judgments. It is then no wonder, that the Prophet does here, as though he ruled the Chaldeans according to his will, thus address them, Take ye away, take ye away But this must be viewed as having a reference to the faithful; for the Babylonians, in plundering the city Nineveh, did not think that they obeyed God, nor did they give to God the praise due for the victory; but the faithful were thus reminded, that all this was done through the secret providence of God, and that it was also a clear, and, as it were, a visible evidence of God’s paternal love towards his Church, when he thus deigned to undertake the cause of his distressed people.
It then follows, There is no end of preparations: Some render תכונה, techune, treasure, or hidden wealth, and derive it from כון, cun, which is to prepare; but תכונה, tacune, is almost always taken for a measure. תכנות, tacanut, from תכון, tacun means a sum, for תכש, tacan, is to number or to count; and this meaning suits the passage. 232 But there is no need of laboring much about this word; if we take it simply for place, the meaning would be, that there was no plot of ground in that city which was not as it were a gulf filled up; for it had amassed all the wealth of the nations: and this sense would harmonize well with the subject of the Prophet, — that the soldiers were to plunder until they were satiated; for the place was, as it were, a deep abyss.
He afterwards adds, There is glory from every desirable vessel. Those who think מ, mem, a particle of comparison in this place are much mistaken, and misapply the meaning of the Prophet; their rendering is, In comparison with every desirable vessel; but this, as all must see, is very frigid. The Prophet, I have no doubt, declares that the wealth of Nineveh consisted of every desirable vessel; for they had for a long time heaped together immense wealth, and that of every kind. The Hebrews call what is precious a desirable thing; and their vessels we include under the term furniture. We now then perceive what the Prophet means. Some take כבד, cabed, as a participle, and give this version, It is burdened, or adorned, (for it means both,) with every desirable vessel. But the simpler mode of speaking is what we have explained, — that its glory was from every desirable vessel.
And here the Prophet condemns what the Assyrians had done in heaping together so much wealth from all quarters; for they had committed indiscriminate plunder, and gathered for themselves all the riches of the nations. They had indeed plundered all their neighbors, yea, and wholly stripped them. The Prophet now shows, in order to expose them to ridicule, that other robbers would be made rich, whom the Lord would raise up against them. The same is said by Isaiah,
‘O thou plunderer, shalt not thou also be exposed to plunder?’ (Isaiah 33.)
So also the Prophet shows in this passage, that men foolishly burn with so much avidity for money, and with so much anxiety heap together great wealth; for God will find out some who in their turn will plunder those who have plundered. It follows—
The Prophet here confirms what the last verse contains; for he shows why he had called the Chaldeans to take away the spoil, — because it was to be so. He did not indeed (as I have already said) command the Chaldeans in such a way as that their obedience to God was praiseworthy: but the Prophet speaks here only of His secret counsel. Though then the Chaldeans knew not that it was God’s decree, yet the Prophet reminds the faithful that the Ninevites, when made naked, suffered punishment for their cruelty, especially for having so hostilely conducted themselves towards the Jews: and hence he declares, that Nineveh is emptied, is emptied, and made naked. By repeating the same word, he intimates the certainty of the event: Emptied, emptied, he says, as when one says in our language, videe et revidee We hence see that by this repetition what the Prophet meant is more distinctly expressed that the faithful might not doubt respecting the event: and then for the same purpose he adds, she is made naked.
We now then perceive the Prophet’s design. As in the last verse he shows that he had power given him from above to send armies against Nineveh, and to give up the city to them to be spoiled and plundered; so he now shows that he had not so commanded the Chaldeans, as though they were the legitimate servants of God, and could pretend that they rendered service to Him. He therefore points out for what end he had commanded the Chaldeans to plunder Nineveh; and that was, because God had so decreed; and he had so decreed and commanded, because he would not bear the many wrongs done to his people whom he had taken under his protection. As then Nineveh had so cruelly treated God’s chosen people, it was necessary that the reward she deserved should be repaid to her. But the repetition, which I have noticed, ought to be especially observed; for it teaches us that God’s power is connected with his word, so that he declares nothing inconsiderately or in vain.
He then adds, that knees smite together; and every heart is dissolved, or melted, and also, that all loins tremble We hence learn, that there is in men no courage, except as far as God supplies them with vigor. As soon then as He withdraws his Spirit, those who were before the most valiant become faint-hearted, and those who breathed great ferocity are made soft and effeminate: for by the word heart is meant inward boldness or courage; and by the knees and loins the strength of body is to be understood. There is indeed no doubt but the Assyrians, while they ruled, were a very courageous people, as power ever generates boldness; and it is also probable that they were a warlike people, since all their neighbors had been brought under their power. But the Prophet now shows, that there would be no vigor in their hearts, and no strength in their loins, or in any part of their body. The heart, then, he says, is melted And hence we learn how foolishly men boast of their courage, while they seem to be like lions; for God can in a moment so melt their hearts, that they entirely lose all firmness. Then as to external vigor, we see that it is in God’s hand; there will be, he says, a confriction, or the knees will knock one against another, as they do when they tremble. And he says afterwards, And trembling shall be in all loins 234 He at last adds, And the faces of all shall gather blackness The word פארור, parur, some derive from פאר, par; and so the rendering would be, “all faces shall draw in or withdraw their beauty,” and so also they explain Joel 2:6, for the sentence there is the same. But they who disapprove of this meaning say, that קבף, kobets, cannot mean to draw in or to withdraw; and so they render the noun, blackness. But this is a strained explanation. פארור, parur, [they say,] does not mean a black color but a pot: when therefore a caldron or a kettle contracts blackness from smoke, it is then called פארור, parur: but in this place these interpreters are constrained to take it metaphorically for that color; which is, as I have said, strained and far-fetched. I am therefore inclined to adopt their opinion who render the sentence, all faces shall withdraw their beauty, or their brightness: but as to the import of the passage, there is little or no difference; let then every one have his free choice. With regard to the Prophet’s design, he evidently means, that the faces of all would be sad, for the Lord would fill their minds and thoughts with dread. The withdrawing then of beauty signifies an outward appearance of sorrow, or paleness, or whatever may appear in the countenance of men, when dejected with grief. In short, the Prophet means, that how much soever the Assyrians might have hitherto raised on high their crests, and breathed great swelling words, and conducted themselves insolently, they would now be dejected; for the Lord would prostrate their courage and melt their strength: he would, by casting down their high spirits, constrain them to undergo shame. This is the import of the whole. It now follows —
Here the Prophet triumphs over the Assyrians, because they thought that the city Nineveh was remote from every danger: as lions, who fear nothing, when they are in their dens, draw thither their prey in their claws or in their mouths: so also was the case with the Assyrians; thinking themselves safe, while Nineveh flourished, they took the greater liberty to commit plunders everywhere. For Nineveh was not only the receptacle of robbers but was also like a den of lions. And the Prophet more fully expresses the barbarous cruelty of the Assyrians by comparing them to lions, than if he had simply called them lions. We now then see what he means, when he says, Where is the place of lions? And he designedly speaks thus of the Assyrians: for no one ever thought that they could be touched by even the least injury; the fear of them had indeed so seized all men, that of themselves they submitted to the Assyrians. As then no one dared to oppose them, the Prophet says, Where? as though he had said that though all thought it incredible that Nineveh could be overthrown, it would yet thus happen. But he assumes the character of one expressing his astonishment, in order to intimate, that when the Lord should execute such a judgment, it would be a work of wonder, which would fill almost all with amazement. This question then proves that those are very foolish who form a judgment of God’s vengeance, of which the Prophet speaks, according to the appearance of things at the time; for the ruin of Nineveh and of that empire was to be the incomprehensible work of God, and which was to fill all minds with astonishment.
He says first, Where is the place of lions? The feminine gender is indeed here used; but all agree that the Prophet speaks of male lions. 236 He then adds, the place of feeding for lions? כפרים, caphrim, mean young lions as we shall hereafter see; and אריות, ariut, are old lions. He afterwards adds, Where אריה, arie came: and then comes לביא, labia, which some render, lioness; but לביא, labia, properly means an old lion; the Prophet, no doubt, uses it in the next verse in the feminine gender for lionesses. I therefore do not deny, but that we may fitly render the terms here, lion and lioness; afterwards, and the whelp of lions, and none terrifying. He then adds, Seize did the lion (the word is אריה, arie) for his whelps to satiety, that is, sufficiently; and strangle did he for his lionesses, ללבאתיו, lalabatiu. Here no doubt the Prophet means lionesses; there would otherwise be no consistency in the passage. He afterwards says,
And filled has he with prey his dens and his recesses with ravin; it is the same word with a different termination, טרף, thereph, and טרפה, therephe
Now the repetition, made here by the Prophet, of lion, young lion, and lioness, was not without its use; for he meant by this number of words to set forth the extreme ferocity of the Assyrians, while they were dominant. He no doubt compares their kings, their counselors, and their chief men, to lions: and he calls their wives lionesses, and their children he calls young lions or whelps of lions. The sum of the whole is, that Nineveh had so degenerated in its opulence, that all in power were like ferocious wild beasts, destitute of every kind feeling. And I wish that this could have only been said of one city and of one monarchy! But here, as in a mirror, the Prophet represents to us what we at this day observe, and what has always and in all ages been observed in great empires; for here great power exists, there great licentiousness prevails; and when kings and their counselors become once habituated to plunder, there is no end of it; nay, a kind of fury is kindled in their hearts, that they seek nothings else but to devour and to tear in pieces to rend and to strangle. The Prophet indeed wished here to console both the Israelites and the Jews by showing, that the injustice of their enemies would not go unpunished: but at the same time he intended to show how great, even to the end of the world, would be the cruelty of those who would rule tyrannically: and as I have said, experience proves, that there are too many like the Ninevites. It is indeed unquestionable, that the Prophet does not without reason speak so often here of lions and lionesses.
Hence he says, “Come thither did the lion, the lioness, and the whelp of the lion.” He means that when justice was sought in that city, it was found to be the den of cruel beasts; for the king had put off all humanity, as well as his counselors; their wives were also like lionesses, and their children and domestics were as young lions or the whelps of lions. And cruelty creeps in, somewhat in this manner: When a king takes to himself too much liberty, his counselors follow him; and then every one follows the common example, as though every thing received as a custom was lawful. This is the representation which the Prophet in these words sets before us; and we with our own eyes see the same things. Then he adds, ‘The lion did tear what sufficed his whelps, and strangled for his lionesses; he filled with prey his dens and his recesses with plunder. He goes on with the same subject, — that the Assyrians heaped for themselves great wealth by unjust spoils, because they had no regard for what was right. The lion, he says, did tear for his whelps: as lions accustom their whelps to plunder, and when they are not grown enough, so as to be able to attack innocent animals, they provide a prey for them, and also bring some to the lionesses; so also, as the Prophet informs us, was the case at Nineveh; the habits of all men were formed for cruelty by the chief men and the magistrates. By the word בדי, bedi, sufficiency, he means not that the Ninevites are satisfied with their prey, for they were insatiable; but it rather refers to the abundance which they had. And he says, that the lion strangled for his lionesses: I wish there were no lionesses to devour at this day; but we see that there are some who surpass their husbands in boldness and cruelty. But the Prophet says here what is natural, — that the lion strangles the prey and gives it afterwards to his lionesses. He then adds, that the Ninevites were not satisfied with daily rapines, as many robbers live for the day; but he says, that their plunder was laid up in store. Hence they filled their secret places and dens with their booty and spoils. Still further, though the Prophet speaks not here so plainly, as we shall see he does in what follows, it is yet certain, that the reason is here given, why God visited the Ninevites with so severe a vengeance, and that was, because they had ceased to be like men, and had degenerated into savage beasts. It follows —
To give more effect to what he says, the Prophet introduces God here as the speaker. Behold, he says, I am against thee He has been hitherto, as it were, the herald of God, and in this character gave an authoritative command to the Chaldeans to plunder Nineveh: but when God himself comes forward, and uses not the mouth of man, but declares himself his own decrees, it is much more impressive. This then is the reason why God now openly speaks: Behold, I am, he says, against thee. We understand the emphatical import of the demonstrative particle, Behold; for God, as if awakened from sleep, shows that it will be at length his work, to undertake the cause of his people, and also to punish the world for its wickedness, Behold, I am against thee, he says. We have elsewhere seen a similar mode of speaking; there is therefore no need of dwelling on it here.
I will burn, he says, with smoke her chariots Here by smoke some understand a smoky fire; but the Prophet, I think, meant another thing, — that at the first onset God would consume all the chariots of Nineveh; as though he had said, that as soon as the flame burst forth, it would be all over with all the forces of Nineveh; for by chariots he no doubt means all their warlike preparations; and we know that they fought then from chariots: as at this day there are employed in wars horsemen in armor, so there were then chariots. But the Prophet, by taking a part for the whole, includes all warlike forces: I will burn then the chariots. — How? By smoke alone, that is as soon as the first flame begins to emerge; for the smoke rises before the fire appears or gathers strength: in short, the Prophet shows that Nineveh would be, as it were, in a moment, reduced to nothing, as soon as it pleased God to avenge its wickedness.
He then adds in the third person, And thy young lions shall the sword devour He indeed changes the person here; but the discourse is more striking, when God manifests his wrath in abrupt sentences. He had said, Behold, I am against thee; then, I will burn her chariots, he now hardly deigns to direct his speech to Nineveh; but afterwards he returns to her, and thy young lions shall the sword devour Then God, by speaking thus in broken sentences, more fully expresses the dreadful vengeance which he had determined to execute on the Ninevites. He then says, And I will exterminate from the earth thy prey; that is, it will not now be allowed thee to go on as usual; for I will put a stop to thy inhuman cruelty. Thus prey may be taken for the act itself; or it may be fitly explained of the spoils taken from the nations, for the Ninevites, by their tyrannical ravening, had everywhere plundered; and thus it may be applied to the pillaging of the city. I will then exterminate from the land, that is from thy country, those riches which have been hitherto heaped together as though a lion had been everywhere gathering a prey.
And heard no more shall be the voice of thy messengers They who understand מלאכים, melakim, to be messengers, apply the word to the heralds, by whom the Assyrians were wont to proclaim wars on neighboring nations. As then they sent here and there their heralds to announce war, and as their terrible voice sounded everywhere, the words of the Prophet have this meaning given them, — that God would at length produce silence, so that they should not hereafter disturb all their neighboring countries with the clamor of war. But as this explanation is strained, I am inclined to adopt what others think, — that the grinding teeth are here intended. The word is not written, if it be taken for messengers, according to grammar; it is מלאככה, melakke; there ought not to have been the ה, he at the end, and י, jod, ought to have been inserted before the last letter but one: and if it be deemed as meaning the king, it ought then to have been written מלכך, melkak. All then confess, that the word is not written according to the rule of grammar; and as the Persians call the grinders מלאככה, melakke, we may give this version, which well suits the context, ‘No more shall be heard the sound of grinders.’ For since lions seize the prey with their teeth, 238 and also break the bones, and thus make a great noise when they tear an animal or a man with their teeth, this rendering seems to be the most suitable, Heard no more shall be the sound of teeth, that is, heard shall not be the noise made by thy teeth; for when thou now tearest thy prey, thy teeth make a noise. No more heard then shall the noise from that breaking, or the clashing or the crashing of the teeth. But as to the chief point, this is no matter of importance.
The Prophet simply teaches us here that it could not be, but that God would at length restrain tyrants; for though he hides himself for a time, he yet never forgets the groans of those whom he sees to be unjustly afflicted: and particularly when tyrants molest the Church, it is proved here by the Prophet that God will at length be a defender; and hence we ought to consider well these words, Behold, I am against thee For though God addresses these words only to the Assyrians, yet as he points out the reasons why he rises up with so much displeasure against them, they ought to be extended to all tyrants, and to all who exercise cruelty towards distressed and innocent men. But this is more clearly expressed in the following verse.Calvin's Bible Commentaries: Jonah, Micah, Nahum: (Forgotten Books)
The Prophet, as I have said, more clearly expresses here the reason why the vengeance of God would be so severe on the Ninevites, — because they had wholly given themselves up to barbarous cruelty; and hence he calls it the bloody city. Bloody city! he says. The exclamation is emphatical. Though הו, eu, sometimes means Woe; yet it is put here as though the Prophet would have constrained Nineveh to undergo its punishment, O sanguinary city, then, the whole of it is full of כחש cachesh: the word signifies leanness and the Prophet no doubt joins here together two words, which seem to differ widely, and yet they signify the same thing. For פרק, perek, means to lay by; and כחש, cachesh, is taken for a lie or vanity, when there is nothing solid in what is said: but the Prophet, I doubt not, means by both words the spoils of the city Nineveh. It was then full of leanness for it had consumed all others; it was also full of spoils, for it had filled itself. But the meaning of the Prophet is in no way dubious; for at length he adds, Depart shall not the prey; that is as some think, it shall not be withdrawn from the hands of conquerors; but others more correctly think that a continued liberty in plundering is intended, that the Assyrians were constantly employed in pillaging and kept within no bounds.
We hence see that the Prophet now shows why God says, that he would be an adversary to the Ninevites, because he could not endure its unjust cruelty. He bore with it indeed for a time; for he did not immediately execute his judgment; but yet he never forgot his own people.
As, then, God has once declared by the mouth of his Prophet that he would be the avenger of the cruelty which the Assyrians had exercised, let us know that he retains still his own nature; and whatever liberty he may for a time grant to tyrants and savage wild beasts, he yet continues to be a just avenger. It is our duty calmly to bear injuries, and to groan to him; and as he promises to be at length our helper, it behaves us to flee to him, and to ask him to succor us, so that seeing his Church oppressed, and tyrants exercising licentiously their power, he may hasten the time to restrain them. If then we were at all times to continue thus resigned under God’s protection, there is no doubt but that he would be ready even at this day to execute a similar judgment to that which the city Nineveh and its people had to endure.
The Prophet represents here as in a lively picture, what was nigh the Assyrians; for he sets forth the Chaldeans their enemies, with all their preparations and in their quick movements. The sound of the whip, he says; the whips, made a noise in exciting the horses: the sound of the rattling of the wheel; that is, great shall be the haste and celerity, when the horses shall be forced on by the whip; the horse also shaking the earth, and the chariot bounding; the horseman making it to ascend; and then, the flame of the sword and the lightning of the spear He then says, that there would be such a slaughter, that the whole place would be full of dead bodies.
We now then understand what the Prophet means: for as Nineveh might have then appeared impregnable the Prophet confirms at large what he had said of its approaching ruin, and thus sets before the eyes of the Israelites what was then incredible.
As to the words, some interpreters connect what we have rendered, the horseman makes to ascend, with what follows, that is, he makes to ascend the flame of the sword and the lightning of the spear But as a copulative comes between, it seems rather to be an imperfect sentence, meaning, that the horseman makes to ascend or mount, that is, his horses, by urging them on. With regard to the word להב, leb, it means I have no doubt, a flame. By this word, I know, is also understood metaphorically the brightness of swords, which appears like a flame: but the Prophet immediately adds lightning As then he says that spears lighten, I doubt not but that for the same reason he meant to say that swords flame. All these things were intended for the purpose of fully convincing the Israelites that Nineveh, however much it was supplied with wealth and power, was yet approaching its ruin, for its enemies would prevail against it: and therefore he adds, that all the roads would be full of dead bodies, that the enemies could not enter without treading on them everywhere. It follows —
The Prophet mentions again the cause why God would execute so dreadful a vengeance on that city, which yet procured by its splendor so much glory and respect among all people: and God seems in a manner to have but little regard for the order of the world when he thus overturns great cities. For since he is the Creator of the whole world, it seems to be his proper office to protect its various parts, especially those which excel in beauty, for they seem to deserve a higher regard. When therefore any splendid city is demolished, such thoughts as these occur to us, — That God is either delighted with the ruin of the world, or is asleep in heaven, and that thus all things revolve by chance and contingency. Therefore the Prophet shows, that God had just reasons for decreeing the ruin of Nineveh, and for deforming that beauty, that it might not deceive the eyes of men. Hence he compares Nineveh to a harlot. The similitude seems not to be very suitable: but yet if we take a nearer view of things, the Prophet could not have more fitly nor more strikingly set forth the condition of that city. He had before mentioned its barbarous cruelty, and said, that it was the den of lions, and that savage and bloody wild beasts dwelt there. He now begins to speak of the frauds and crafty artifices by which the kings of this world attain for themselves both wealth and power. The Prophet then makes the city Nineveh to be like a harlot for this reason, — because it had not only brought under its power neighboring nations by threats and terrors, and also by cruelty, but because it had ensnared many by oblique arts and fraudulent means, by captious dealings and allurements. This is the reason why it is now called a harlot by the Prophet.
The Prophets of God seem indeed to speak but with little reverence of great cities and empires: but we know that it rightly belongs to the Spirit of God, that in exercising his own jurisdiction, he should uncover the base deeds of the whole world, which otherwise would lie concealed and even under the appearance of virtues deceive the eyes and senses of the simple: and as men so much flatter themselves, and are inebriated with their own delusions, it is necessary that those who are too self-indulgent and delicate should be roughly handled. As then kings ever set up their own splendor that they may dazzle the eyes of the simple, and seem to have their own greatness as a beautiful covering, the Spirit of God divests them of these masks. This then is the reason why the Prophet speaks here, in no very respectful terms, of that great monarchy which had attracted the admiration of all nations. For when the Spirit of God adopts a humble and common mode of speaking, men, blinded by their vices, will not acknowledge their own baseness; nay, they will even dare to set up in opposition those things which cover their disgraceful deeds: but the Spirit of God breaks through all these things, and dissipates those delusions by which men impose on themselves.
Such is the reason for this similitude; On account of the multitude, he says, of the whoredoms of the harlot, who excels in favor It is said by way of concession that Nineveh was in great favor, that is, that by her beauty she had allured to herself many nations, like a harlot who attains many lovers: and thus the Prophet allows that Nineveh was beautiful. But he adds that she was the mistress of sorceries כשף, casheph, means sorcery, and also juggling: we may then render כשפים, cashaphim, used here, juggleries, (praestigias — sleights of hand.) But the Prophet seems to allude to filters or amatory potions, by which harlots dementate youths. As then harlots not only attract notice by their beauty and bland manners and other usual ways; but they also in a manner fascinate unhappy youths, and use various arts and delusions; so the Prophet under this word comprehends all the deceits practiced by harlots; as though he said, “This harlot was not only beautiful, but also an enchantress, who by her charms deceived unhappy nations like a strumpets who dementates unhappy youths, who do not take care of themselves.”
He afterwards adds, Who sells nations by her whoredoms, and tribes by her sorceries Though Nahum still carries on the same metaphor, he yet shows more clearly what he meant by whoredoms and sorceries, — even the crafts of princes, by which they allure their neighbors, and then reduce them to bondage. Then all the counsels of kings (which they call policies) are here, by the Spirit of God, called sorceries or juggleries, and also meretricious arts. This reproof, as I have already said, many deem to have been too severe; for so much majesty shone forth then in the Assyrians, that they ought, as they think, to have been more respectfully treated. But it behaved the Spirit of God to speak in this forcible language: for there is no one who does not applaud such crafty proceedings. Where any one, without mentioning princes, to ask, Is it right to deceive, and then by lies, deceptions, perjuries, cavils, and other arts, to make a cover for things? — were this question asked, the prompt answer would be, that all these things are as remote as possible from virtue, as nothing becomes men more than ingenuous sincerity. But when princes appear in public, and make this pretense, that the world must be ruled with great prudence, that except secret counsels be taken, all kingdoms would immediately fall into ruin, — this veil covers all their shameful transactions, so that it becomes lawful for them, and even praiseworthy, to deceive one party, to circumvent another, and a third to oppress by means of deception. Since then princes are praised for their craftiness, this is the reason why the Prophet here takes away, as it were by force, the mask, under which they hide their base proceedings; “They are,” he says, “meretricious arts, and they are sorceries and juggleries.”
It is of one city, it is true, that he speaks here; but the Prophet no doubt describes in this striking representation how kingdoms increase and by what crafty means, — first, by robberies, — and then by artful dealings, such as would by no means become honest men in the middle class of life. But princes could never succeed, except they practiced such artifices. We yet see how they are described here by the Spirit of God, — that they are like strumpets given to juggleries, and to other base and filthy arts, which he calls whoredoms. But I have said, that the meaning of the Prophet can be more clearly elicited from the second clause of the verse, when he says that the Ninevites made a merchandise of the nations. We see indeed even at this day that princes disturb the whole world at their pleasure; for they deliver up innocent people to one another, and shamefully sell them, while each hunts after his own advantage, without any shame; that he may increase his own power, he will deliver others into the hand of an enemy. Since then there are crafty proceedings of this kind carried on too much at this day, there is no need that I should attempt to explain at any length the meaning of the Prophet. I wish that examples were to be sought at a distance. Let us proceed —
The Prophet confirms here what he has said of the fall of Nineveh; but, as it was stated yesterday, he introduces God as the speaker, that his address might be more powerful. God then testifies here to the Assyrians, that they should have no strife or contention with any mortal being, but with their own judgment; as though he said, “There is no reason for thee to compare thy forces with those of the Chaldeans; but think of this — that I am the punisher of thy crimes. The Chaldeans indeed shall come; chariots shall make a noise and horses shall leap, and horsemen shall shake the earth; they shall brandish the flaming swords, and their spears shall be like lightning; but there is no reason for thee to think that the Chaldeans will, of themselves, break in upon thee: for I guide them by my hidden providence, as it is my purpose to destroy thee; and now the time is come when I shall execute on thee my judgment.”
I am, he says, Jehovah of hosts. The epithet צבאות tsabaut, must be referred to the circumstance of this passage; for God declares here his own power, that the Assyrians might not think that they could by any means escape. He then adds, I will disclose thy extremities on thy face He alludes to the similitude which we have lately observed; for harlots appear very fine, and affect neatness and elegance in their dress; they not only put on costly apparel, but also add disguises. Though then this fine dress conceals the baseness of strumpets, yet, were any to take the clothes of a harlot and throw them over her head, all her beauty would disappear, and all men would abhor the sight: to see her concealed parts disclosed would be a base and filthy spectacle. So God declares that he would strip Nineveh of its magnificent dress, that she might be a detestable sight, only exhibiting her own reproach. We now then apprehend the Prophet’s meaning; as though he said, “Nineveh thinks not that she is to perish. — How so? Because her own splendor blinds her: and she has willfully deceived herself, and, by her deceits, has dazzled the eyes of all nations. As then this splendor seems to be a defense to the city Nineveh, I the Lord, he says, will disclose her hidden parts; I will deprive the Assyrians of all this splendor in which they now glory, and which is in high esteem and admiration among other nations.”
And this passage ought to be especially noticed; for, as I have said, true dignity is not to be found in the highest princes. Princes ought, indeed, to seek respect for themselves by justice, integrity, mercy, and a magnanimous spirit: but they only excel in mean artifices; then they shamelessly deceive, lie, and swear falsely; they also flatter, even meanly, when circumstances require; they insinuate themselves by various crafty means, and by large promises decoy the simple. Since then their true dignity is not commonly regarded by princes, this passage ought to be observed, so that we may know that their elevation, which captivates the minds of men, is an abomination before God; for they do not discern things, but are blind, being dazzled by empty splendor.
Disclose, then, he says, will I thy shame He says first, Disclose will I thy fringes on thy face; and then I will show to the nations thy nakedness And the nakedness of great kings is shown to the nations when the Lord executes his vengeance: for then even the lowest of the low will dare to pass judgment, — “He deserved to perish with shame, for he exercised tyranny on his own subjects, and spared not his own neighbors; he never was a good prince; nay, he only employed deceits and perjuries.” When, therefore princes are cast down, every one, however low, becomes a judge, and ascends as it were, the tribunal to burden and load them with reproaches. And hence the Prophet says, in the person of God, Disclose will I thy fringes on thy face, and will show to the nations thy nakedness, and to kingdoms thy filthiness.
He afterwards adds, I will besprinkle thee with filth, or defilements. The Prophet still alludes to the similitude of a harlot, who is well and sumptuously adorned, and by her charms captivates the eyes of all: but when any one takes mire and filth from the middle of the road, and bespatters her with it, there is then no one who will not turn away his eyes from so filthy an object. But we have already explained the import of this. God is indeed said to besprinkle kingdoms with defilements, when he casts them down; for they all begin freely to express their opinion: and those who before pretended great admiration, now rise up and bring forth many reproachful things. Then it is, that the Lord is said to besprinkle great kingdoms with filth and defilements.
He then adds, I will disgrace thee נבל, nubel, is to fall, and it is applied to dead bodies; but it means also to disgrace, as it is to be taken here. I will make thee as the dung Some think רואי, ruai, to be dung, or something fetid: but as it comes from ראה, rae, to see, and is in many parts of Scripture taken for vision or view, they are more correct, in my judgment, who render it thus, I will make thee an example; so Jerome renders it; as though he said, “Thou shalt be a spectacle to all nations.” 241 And Nineveh is said to be made an example, because its ruin was more memorable than that of any other which had previously happened. Thou shalt then be a spectacle; that is, the calamity which I now denounce shall attract the observation of all. It afterwards follows —
When he says, כל-ראיך, cal-raik, ‘whosoever sees thee,’ we hence learn again that רואי, ruai, at the end of the last verse, is to be taken for example or spectacle; for the Prophet proceeds with the same subject: I will make thee, he says, an example, or a spectacle. — For what purpose? that whosoever sees thee may depart from thee 242 And it was an evidence of horror, though some think it to have been a reward for her cruelty, that no one came to Nineveh, but that she was forsaken by all friends in her desolation. And they take in the same sense what follows, Who will condole with her? and whence shall I seek comforters for thee? For they think that the Ninevites are here reproached for their cruelty, because they made themselves so hated by all that they were unworthy of sympathy; for they spared none, they allowed themselves full liberty in injuring others, they had gained the hatred of all the world. Hence some think that what is here intimated is, that the Ninevites were justly detested by and so that no one condoled with them in so great a calamity, inasmuch as they had been injurious to all: “It shall then happen, that whosoever sees thee shall go far away from thee and shall say, Wasted is Nineveh; who will condole with her? Whence shall I call comforters to her?”
But I know not whether this refined meaning came into the Prophet’s mind. We may explain the words more simply, that all would flee far away as a proof of their horrors and that the calamity would be such, that no lamentation would correspond with it. Who will be able to console with her? that is, were the greatness of her calamity duly weighed, though all were to weep and utter their meanings, it would not yet be sufficient: all lamentations would be far unequal to so great a calamity. The Prophet seems rather to mean this. Who then shall condole with her? and whence shall I seek comforters, as though he said, “The ruin of so splendid a city will not be of an ordinary kind, but what cannot be equaled by any lamentations.” It then follows —
The Prophet, in order to gain credit to his prophecy, produces here the ensample of Alexandria. It is indeed certain, from many testimonies of Scripture, that Alexandria is called No, which was a very ancient city, situated on the confines of Africa, and yet in Egypt. It might, at the same time, be, that the Alexandrians formerly had their own government, at least their own kings: and this is probable; for the Prophet says here, that Egypt and Ethiopia, as well as Africa and the Libyan nations, were the confederates of this city. It may hence then be concluded, that Alexandria was not then a part of Egypt, but had its own government, and was in alliance with the Egyptians, as with the other nations. But as Egypt, after the death of our Prophet, was in part overthrown by the Assyrians, and in part by the Chaldeans, some interpreters think, that the Prophet speaks of a ruin which had not yet taken place. 243 But this would not harmonize with his design; for the Prophet shows here, as in a mirror, that the chief empires fall according to the will of God, and that cities, the richest and the best fortified, come to nothing, whenever it pleases God. Unless, then, the destruction of Alexandria was notorious and everywhere known, the Prophet could not have suitably adduced this example: I therefore doubt not but that Alexandria had been then demolished. It is no matter of wonder that it afterwards returned to its former state and became rich; for the situation of the city was most commodious, not so much on account of the fertility of the land, as on account of its traffic; for ships from the Mediterranean sailed up near to it. It had, indeed, on one side, the lake Marcotis, which is not very healthy; and then the sea fortified it; and Pharos was a neighboring island: but yet the city was inhabited by many, and adorned with splendid buildings; for the advantage of traffic drew together inhabitants from all quarters. It was afterwards built again by Alexander of Macedon. But it is evident enough that it had been already an opulent city: for Alexander did not build a new city but enlarged it. 244 Let us now come to the words of the Prophet.
Shall it be better to thee than to Alexandria? The word אמון, amun, some render populous; and I am inclined to adopt this meaning, which has been received nearly by the consent of all. Others have supposed it to be the name of a king; but as proof fails them, I leave to themselves their own conjecture. Shall it then be better to thee than to Alexandria? For it stood, he says, between the rivers Alexandria had the Nile, as it were, under its own power; for it was then divided into many parts, so that it intersected the city in various places. So then he says, that Alexandria dwelt between the rivers; for it divided the Nile, as it suited its convenience, into several streams.
Then he says, The sea was around her: for it was surrounded on one side by the sea, and protected by the island Pharos, which had a tower, not only for the sake of defense, but that ships coming in from the Mediterranean, might have a signal, by which they might direct their course straight to the harbor. The sea then was around her; for the sea encircled more than half of the city; and then the lake Mareotis was on the other side to the south. He afterwards adds, And its wall or moat was the sea The word is written with י, iod, חיל, chil; but it means a wall or a moat, though Latins render antemurale — a front-work: for they were wont formerly to fortify their cities with a double wall, as old buildings still show. According to these interpreters חיל, chil, is the inner wall, and so they render its front-work: and there was also an outer wall towards the sea. But we may take חיל, chil, for a moat or a trench; and it is easy to find from other passages that it was a trench rather than a front-work. It is said that the body of Jezebel was torn by dogs in the trench, and the word there is חיל, chil. As to the object of the Prophet, he evidently intended to show, that Alexandria was so well fortified, that Nineveh had no reason to think herself to be in a safer state; for its fortress was from the sea, and also from Ethiopia, on account of the munitions which he has mentioned. Then he speaks of Africa and Egypt, and the Libyan nations, 245 and says in short, that there was no end of her strength; that is, that she could seek the help of many friends and confederates: many were ready to bring aid, even Africa, Ethiopia, and the Lybians.
Yet, he says, she departed into captivity a captive; that is, the inhabitants of Alexandria have been banished, and the city become as it were captive, for its inhabitants were driven here and there. Dashed, he says, have been their little ones at the head of every street The Prophet means, that so great a power as that of Alexandria did not prevent the conquerors to exercise towards her the most barbarous cruelty; for it was a savage act to dash little children against stones, who ought on account of their tender age, to have been spared. There was indeed no reason for raging against them, for they could not have been deemed enemies. But yet the Prophet says that Alexandria had been thus treated; and he said this, that Nineveh might not trust in her strength, and thus perversely despise God’s judgment, which he now denounced on it. He adds, They cast lots on her princess and bound were her great men with fetters In saying that lots were cast, he refers to an ancient custom; for when there was any dispute respecting a captive, the lot was cast: as for instance, when two had taken one man, to prevent contention, it was by lot determined who was to be his master. So then he says that lots were cast on their princes. This usually happened to the common people and to the lowest slaves; but the Prophet says that the conquerors spared not even the princes. They were therefore treated as the lowest class; and though they were great princes, they were led into captivity and bound with chains, in the same manner with the meanest and the lowest of the people. They were not treated according to their rank; and there was no differences between the chief men and the most degraded of the humbler classes; for even the very princes were so brought down, that their lot differed not from that of the wretched; for as common people are usually treated with contempt, so were the chiefs of Alexandria treated by their enemies.
Nahum, after having adduced the example of Alexandria, now shows that nothing would be able to resist God, so that he should not deal with Nineveh in the same manner; and he declares that this would be the case, Thou also, he says, shalt be inebriated. Well known is this metaphor, which often occurs in Scripture: for the Prophets are wont frequently to call punishment a cup, which God administers. But when God executes a heavy punishment, he is said to inebriate the wicked with his cup. The Prophet says now, that the chastisement of Nineveh would make her like a drunken man, who, being overcome with wine, lies down, as it were, stupefied. Hence by this metaphor he intended to set forth a most severe punishment: Thou then shalt be also inebriated The particle גם, gam, is here emphatical; it was introduced, that the Ninevites might know, that they could not possibly escape the punishment which they deserved; for God continues ever like himself. Thou then shalt be also inebriated This would not be consistent, were not God the judge of the world to the end. There is then a common reason for this proceeding; hence it necessarily follows, — since God punished the Alexandrians, the Assyrians cannot escape his hand, and be exempt from punishment.
He adds, Thou shalt be hidden Some refer this to shame, as though the Prophet had said, — “Thou indeed showest thyself now to be very proud, but calamity will force thee to seek hiding-places, in which to conceal thyself.” But I am more inclined to this meaning, — that Nineveh would vanish away, as though it never had been; for to be hidden is often taken in Hebrew in the sense of being reduced to nothing.
He afterwards says, Thou shalt also seek strength, or supplies, from the enemy. The words מעוז מאויב, meouz meavib, may admit of two meanings, — either that she will humbly solicit her enemies, — or that on account of her enemies she will flee to some foreign aid; for the preposition מ, mem, may be taken in both senses. If we adopt the first meaning, then I think that the Prophet speaks not of the Babylonians, but of the other nations who had been before harassed by the Assyrians. Thou shalt now then humbly pray for the aid of those who have been hitherto thine enemies, — not because they had provoked thee, but because thou hast as an enemy treated them. Now it is an extreme misery, when we are constrained to seek the help of those by whom we are hated, and hated, because we have by wrongs provoked them. But the other sense is more approved, for it is less strained: Thou shalt also seek aids on account of the enemy; that is, as strength to resist will fail thee, thou wilt seek assistance from thy neighbors. 246 It follows —
The Prophet here declares that the strongholds of the Assyrians would avail them nothing; whether they trusted in the number of their men, or in their walls, or in other defenses, they would be disappointed; for all things, he says, will of themselves fall, even without being much assailed. And he employs a very apposite similitude, “Thy fortifications,” he says, “which thou thinkest to be very strong, shall be like figs; for when the fruit is ripe, and any comes to the tree, as soon as he touches it or any of the branches, the figs will fall off themselves.” We indeed know that there is not much firmness in that fruit; when it is ripe, it immediately falls to the ground, or if it hangs on the branches, a very little shaking will bring it down. We now see the design of the Prophet.
And hence an useful doctrine may be deduced: whatever strength men may seek for themselves from different quarters, it will wholly vanish away; for neither forts, nor towers, nor ramparts, nor troops of men, nor any kind of contrivances, will avail any thing; and were there no one to rise against them, they would yet fall of themselves. It afterwards follows —
The Prophet declares here, that the hearts of them all would become soft and effeminate when God would proceed to destroy Nineveh. We have said before that the hearts of men are so in the hand of God, that he melts whatever courage there may be in them, whenever he pleases: and God prepares men for ruin, when he debilitates their hearts, that they cannot bear the sight of their enemies. God indeed can leave in men their perverseness, so that they may ever run furiously into ruin, and not be able, with a courageous heart, to repel the attacks of their enemies; but he often softens their hearts and deprives them of power, that he may make more evident his judgment: God does not, however, always work in the same way; for variety in his judgments is calculated to do us good, for thereby our minds are more powerfully awakened. Were his proceedings uniformly the same, we could not so well distinguish the hand of God, as when he acts now in this way, and then in another. But, as I have already said, it is what is well known, that God enervates men and strips them of all courage, when he gives them over to destruction.
So now the Prophet speaks of the Ninevites, Behold, he says, thy people are women 247 The demonstrative particle, Behold, is here emphatical: for the Assyrians, no doubt, ridiculed, as a fable, the prediction of the Prophet; and it was what the Israelites found it difficult to believe. This is the reason why the Prophet pointed out, as by the finger, what surpassed the comprehensions of men. By saying, in the midst of thee, he intimates, that though they should be separated from their enemies and dwell in a fortified city, they should yet be filled with trembling. This amplification deserves to be noticed: for it is nothing wonderful, when an onset frightens us, when enemies join battle with us, and when many things present themselves before our eyes, which are calculated to deprive us of courage; but when we are frightened by report only concerning our enemies, and we become fainthearted, though walls be between us, it then appears evident, that we are smitten by the hand of God; for when we see walls of stone, and yet our hearts become brittle like glass, is it not evident, that we are inwardly terrified by the Lord, as it were, through some hidden influence, rather than through intervening and natural causes? We now then perceive the Prophet’s meaning, when he says, that the people would become women, or effeminate, in the midst of the city, in its very bowels; as though he had said, that they would not cease to tremble, even while they were dwelling in a safe place.
By opening, opened shall be thy gates, he says, to thy enemies. He shows again, that though the Assyrians were fortified, every access would be made open to their enemies, as though there was no fortress. By saying, the gates of thy land, it is probable that he speaks not only of the city, but of all their strongholds. The Assyrians, no doubt, fortified many cities, in order to keep afar off the enemy, and to preserve the chief seat of the empire free from danger and fear. I therefore understand the Prophet as referring here to many cities, when he says, By opening, opened shall be the gates of thy land to thine enemies and fire shall consume thy bars He means, that though they had before carefully fortified the whole land around, so that they thought themselves secure from all hostile invasion, yet all this would be useless; for the fire would consume all their bars. By fire, the Prophet understands metaphorically the judgment of God. For as we see that so great is the vehemence of fire, that it melts iron and brass, so the Prophet means, that there would be no strength which could defend Nineveh and its empire against the hand of God. It follows —
The Prophet goes on with the same subject, — that the Ninevites would labor in vain, while striving anxiously and with every effort to defend themselves against their enemies. The meaning then is, “That though thou remittest no diligence, yet thou shalt lose all thy labor; for thou wilt not be able to resist the vengeance of God; and thou deceives thyself if thou thinkest that by the usual means thou canst aid thyself; for it is God who attacks thee by the Babylonians. How much soever then thou mayest accumulate of those things which are usually employed to fortify cities, all this will be useless.” Draw for thyself, he says, waters for the siege; that is, lay up provisions for thyself, as it is usually done, and have water laid up in cisterns; strengthen thy fortresses, that is, renew them; enter into the clay for the sake of treading the mortar: fortify, or cement, or join together; the brick-kiln (for what some think that חזק, chezek, means, here is to hold, or to lay hold, is wholly foreign to the Prophet’s meaning:) to fortify then the brick- kiln, that is, the bricks which come forth from the kiln, nothing else than to construct and join them together, that there might be a solid building: for we know that buildings often fall, or are overturned, because they are not well joined together: and he refers to the mode of building which historians say was in use among the Assyrians. For as that country had no abundance of stones, they supplied the defect by bricks. We now then understand the intention of the Prophet.
But he adds, There shall the fire consume thee There is much importance in the adverb of place, there, which he uses: there also, he says, shall the fire eat thee up: for he expresses more than before, when he said, that the Assyrians would weary themselves in vain in fortifying their city and their empire; for he says now, that the Lord would turn to their destruction those things in which they trusted as their defenses; There then shall the fire consume thee We now then see what the Prophet means.
We must at the same time observe, that he mentions water; as though he said, However sparingly and frugally thy soldiers may live, being content with water as their drink, (for it is necessary, when we would firmly resist enemies, to undergo all indulgences, and if needs be to endure want, at least the want of delicate meat and drink,) — though thy soldiers be content with water, and seek not water fresh from the spring or the river, but drink it from cisterns, and though thy fortresses be repaired, and thy walls carefully joined together in a solid structure, by bricks well fitted and fastened, yet there shall the fire consume thee; that is, thy frugality, exertion, and care, not only will avail thee nothing, but will also turn out to thy ruin; for the Lord pronounces accursed the arrogance of men, when they trust in their own resources.
He afterwards adds, Exterminate thee shall the sword; that is, the Lord will find out various means by which he will consume thee. By the fire, then, and by the sword, will he waste and destroy thee. He then says, He will consume thee as the chafer we may read the last word in the nominative as well as in the objective case — He as a chafer will consume thee. If we approve of this rendering, then the meaning would be, — “As chafers in a short time devour a meadow or standing corn, so thy enemies shall soon devour thee as with one mouthful.” We indeed know, that these little animals are so hurtful, that they will very soon eat up and consume all the fruit; and there is in these insects an astonishing voracity. But as the Prophet afterwards compares the Assyrians to chafers and locusts, another sense would be more suitable, and that is, — that God’s judgment would consume the Assyrians, as when rain, or a storm, or a change of season, consumes the chafers; for as these insects are very hurtful, so the Lord also exterminates them whenever he pleases. 248 He afterwards adds, to be multiplied; which is, as I have said, a verb in the infinitive mood. But the sentence of the Prophet is this, by multiplying as the chafer, to multiply as the locusts: but why he speaks thus, may be better understood from the context; the two following verses must be therefore added —
From these words we may learn what the Prophet before meant, when he said that the Assyrians were like locusts or chafers; as though he said, — “I know that you trust in your great number; for ye are like a swarm of chafers or locusts; ye excel greatly in number; inasmuch as you have assembled your merchants and traders as the stars of heaven.” Here he shows how numerous they were. But when he says, The chafer has spoiled, and flies away, he points out another reason for the comparison; for it is not enough to lay hold on one clause of the verse, but the two clauses must be connected; and they mean this, — that the Assyrians, while they were almost innumerable, gloried in their great number, — and also, that this vast multitude would vanish away. He then makes an admission here and says, by multiplying thy merchants, thou hast multiplied them; but when he says, as chafers and as locusts, he shows that this multitude would not continue, for the Lord would scatter them here and there. As then the scattering was nigh, the Prophet says that they were chafers and locusts.
We now understand the design of the Prophet: He first ridicules the foolish confidence with which the Assyrians were inflated. They thought, that as they ruled over many nations, they could raise great armies, and set them in any quarter to oppose any one who might attack them: the Prophet concedes this to them, that is, that they were very numerous, by multiplying thou hast multiplied; but what will this avail them? They shall be locusts, they shall be chafers. — How so? A fuller explanation follows, Thou hast multiplied thy merchants as the stars of heaven: but this shall be temporary; for thou shalt see them vanishing away very soon; they shall be like the chafers, who, being in a moment scattered here and there, quit the naked field or the meadow. But by merchants or traders some understand confederates; and this comparison also, as we have before seen, frequently occurs in the Prophets: and princes at this day differ nothing from traders, for they outbid one another, and excel in similar artifices, as we have elsewhere seen, by which they carry on a system of mutual deception. This comparison then may be suitable, Thou hast multiplied thy traders, — tes practiciens. But the meaning of the Prophet may be viewed as still wider; we may apply this to the citizens of Nineveh; for the principal men no doubt were merchants: as the Venetian of the present day are all merchants, so were the Syrians, and the Ninevites, and also the Babylonians. It is then nothing strange, that the Prophet, by taking a part for the whole should include under this term all the rich, Thou hast then multiplied thy merchants
He has hitherto allowed them to be very numerous; but he now adds, The chafer has spoiled, and flies away The verb means sometimes to spoil, and it means also to devour: The chafer then has devoured, and flies away; that is, “Thy princes, (as he afterwards calls them,) or thy principal men, have indeed devoured; they have wasted many regions by their plunders, and consumed all things on every side, like the chafers, who destroy the standing corn and all fruits: thou hast then been as a swarm of chafers.” For as chafers in great numbers attack a field, so Nineveh was wont to send everywhere her merchants to spoil and to denude the whole land. “Well,” he says “the chafer has devoured, but he flies away, he is scattered; so it shall happen,” says the Prophet, “to the citizens of Nineveh.” And hence he afterwards adds,
And thy princes are as locusts: this refers to the wicked doings, by which they laid waste almost the whole earth. As then the locusts and chafers, wherever they come, consume every kind of food, devour all the fields, leave nothing, and the whole land becomes a waste; so also have been thy princes; they have been as locusts and thy leaders as the locusts of locusts, that is, as very great locusts; for this form, we know, expresses the superlative degree in Hebrew. Their leaders were then like the most voracious locusts for the whole land was made barren by them, as nothing was capable of satisfying their avarice and voracity.
The Prophet then adds, They are locusts, who dwell in the mounds during the time of cold; but when the sun rises, not known any more is their place He now shows, that it would not be perpetual, that the Ninevites would thus devour the whole earth, and that all countries would be exposed to their voracity; for as the locusts, he says, hide themselves in caverns, and afterwards fly away, so it shall happen to thy princes. But this passage may be taken to mean, — that the Ninevites concealed themselves in their hiding-places during the winter, and that when the suitable time for plundering came, they retook themselves in different directions, and took possession of various regions, and brought home plunder from the remotest parts. This meaning may be elicited from the words of the Prophet; and the different clauses would thus fitly coalesce together, that when the Ninevites left their nests, they dispersed and migrated in all directions. I do not at the same time disapprove of the former meaning: they are then like locusts, who lodge in mounds during the time of cold; but when the sun rises, — that is, when the season invites them, (for he speaks not of the winter sun,) but when the heat of the sun prevails and temperate the air, — then, he says, the locusts go forth and fly away, and known no more is their place He means, in short, that the Ninevites plundered, and that they did so after the manner of locusts; and that a similar end also was nigh them; for the Lord would destroy them, yea, suddenly consume them, so that no trace of them could be found. It follows —
He confirms the preceding verse, and says that there would be no counsel nor wisdom in the leading men: for the shepherds of the king of Assyria were his counselors, in whose wisdom he trusted, as we know that kings usually depend on their counselors: for they think that there is in them prudence enough, and therefore they commit to them the care of the whole people. But the Prophet ridicules the confidence of the king of Assyria, because the shepherds would not have so much vigilance as to take care of themselves, and of the people, and of the whole kingdom. He speaks in the past tense, either to show the certainty of the prediction, or because the change of tenses is common in Hebrew. Lie still, he says, shall thy mighty men; that is, they shall remain idle; they shall not be able to sally out against their enemies, to stop their progress. They shall then lie still: and then he says, Scattered are thy people פוש, push, is not to scatter; hence I doubt not, but that there is a change of letter, that ש, schin, is put for ץ, tzaddi; and I am surprised that some derive the verb from פוש, push, when, on the contrary, it is from פוף, puts, and the change of these two letters is common in Hebrew. Thy people then are dispersed on the mountains and there is no one to assemble them.
By these words the Prophet means, that such would be the scattering of the whole kingdom, that there would be no hope of restoration; There will then be none to assemble them He had said before that the chiefs or mighty men would be still. Though it would be needful to go forth to check the progress of their enemies; yet he says, They shall idly lie down: He refers here to their sloth. But the people who ought to be quiet at home, as being weak and feeble, shall be dispersed on the mountains, and no one will be there to gather them It follows —
The Prophet shows here more clearly, that when the empire of Nineveh should be scattered, it would be an incurable evil, that every hope of a remedy would be taken away. Though the wicked cannot escape calamity, yet they harbor false expectations, and think that they can in a short time gather new strength. Hence, in order to take from them this hope, the Prophet says, that there would be no contraction of the fracture. And this is a striking similitude; for he compares the ruin of Nineveh to a wound which cannot be seamed and healed. There is then no contraction; some render it, a wrinkle, but improperly. There is then no contraction: and he adds, Thy stroke is full of pain; that is, the pain of thy stroke cannot be allayed. This is one thing, — that the ruin of Nineveh would be irreparable.
Then he says, Whosoever shall hear the report, shall strike the hand on thy account Many give this rendering, They shall clap the hand over thee, or with the hands; and they think that the singular is put for the plural number. But as in Hebrew to strike the hand is a token of consent, it would not be unsuitable to say, that the Prophet means, that wherever the report of this calamity would be heard, all would express their approbation, “See, God has at length proved himself to be the just avenger of so much wickedness.” To strike the hand is said to be done by those who make an agreements or when any one pledges himself for another. As then in giving pledges, and in other compacts, men are said to strike the hand; so also all shall thus give their assent to God’s judgment in this case, “O how rightly is this done! O how justly has God punished these tyrants, these plunderers.” They will then strike the hand on thy account; that is, “This thy ruin will be approved;” as though he said, “Not only before God art thou, Nineveh, accursed, but also according to the consent of all nations.” And thus he intimates, that Nineveh would perish in the greatest dishonor and disgrace. It sometimes happens that an empire falls, and all bewail the event: but God here declares, that he would not be satisfied with the simple destruction of the city Nineveh without adding to it a public infamy, so that all might acknowledge that it happened through his righteous judgment.
He afterwards adds, For upon whom has not thy wickedness passed continually? This is a confirmation of the last clause; and this reason will suit both the views which have been given. If we take the striking of the hand for approbation, this reason will be suitable. — How? For all nations will rejoice at thy destruction, because there is no nation which thou hast not in many ways injured. So also, in token of their joy, all will congratulate themselves, as though they were made free; or they will clap their hands, that is, acknowledge that thou hast been destroyed by the judgment of God, because all had experienced how unjustly and tyrannically thou hast ruled. As then thy wickedness has been like a deluge, and hast nearly consumed all the earth, all will clap or shake their hands at thy ruin.
And he says, continually, to show that God’s forbearance had been long exercised. Hence, also, it appears, that the Assyrians were inexcusable, because, when God indulgently spared them, they did not repent, but pursued their wicked ways for a long course of time. As then to their sinful licentiousness they added perverseness, every excuse was removed. But the Prophet does, at the same time, remind the Israelites, that there was no reason for them to be cast down in their minds, because God did not immediately execute punishment; for by the word תמיד, tamid, he insinuates, that God would so suspend for a time his judgment as to Nineveh, that his forbearance and delay might be an evidence of his goodness and mercy. We hence see that the Prophet here opposes the ardor of men, for they immediately grow angry or complain when God delays to execute vengeance on their enemies.
He shows that God has a just reason for not visiting the wicked with immediate punishment; but yet the time will come when it shall appear that they are altogether past recovery, — the time, I say, will come, when the Lord shall at length put forth his hand and execute his judgment.Calvin's Bible Commentaries: Jonah, Micah, Nahum: (Forgotten Books)
Abortion and homosexuality are a ‘living reflection of hell’: U.S. Archbishop
By Pete Baklinski 10/11/2017
SAN FRANCISCO, California, October 11, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Those who doubt the existence of hell, despite Our Lady of Fatima showing its horrors to three Portuguese shepherd children 100 years ago, can nevertheless see a “living reflection of hell” in abortion, euthanasia, and homosexuality, said San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone.
Archbishop Cordileone made his remarks during a homily last weekend as he consecrated his Archdiocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
He recalled during his October 7 homily the great evils witnessed in the past 100 years, including the great world wars, death camps, numerous genocides, and Christian persecution.
“Who would dare to say that such barbarity is not a mocking of God?” he asked.
Cordileone listed legal abortion as one of the many genocides.
The Reformation Isn’t Over
By Gregg R. Allison
On this eve of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, diverse voices sound out in response to the question, “Is the Reformation over?” For example, Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy at Boston University and an apologist for Roman Catholicism, maintains, “What happened in our day that never happened before was that both sides [Protestants and Catholics] listened with new openness and passion and honesty, and the result was a miracle: the central issue of the Reformation, which was the single most serious schism in Christian history, was resolved to the satisfaction of both sides without compromise.”
To what resolution does Kreeft refer? The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, signed by the World Lutheran Federation and the Roman Catholic Church in 1999. The Joint Declaration weds together statements about justification on which Catholics and Protestants agree, other statements that represent the unique Roman Catholic understanding of justification, and still other statements that represent the unique Lutheran understanding of the doctrine.
Accordingly, the Joint Declaration claims that the two traditions have found vast agreement on this doctrine. Given that justification was the material principle (the core doctrinal content) of Protestantism and a key reason for the division between Protestant churches and the Roman Catholic Church, the Joint Declaration, according to Kreeft, is “the greatest ecumenical achievement in the five hundred years since the Reformation” and signals that “the single greatest obstacle to reunion … has essentially been overcome.”3 In reality, the Protestants who have signed the Joint Declaration represent more liberal churches and denominations, who appear to be far more committed to ecumenism than to the theology of the Reformers.
This voice affirming the end of the Reformation contrasts with other voices denying it is finished. For example, Chris Castaldo and I, in our co-authored book, The Unfinished Reformation,4 applaud the many steps taken by Protestants and Catholics to better understand one another. We no longer kill one another over points of doctrinal disagreement, for example. Furthermore, we rejoice over our commonalities, doctrines such as the Trinity, the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Moreover, Catholics and Protestants protest against the culture of death whose shadow falls steadily over the United States, and together we champion religious freedom and other human rights.
At the same time, we do not believe the Reformation is over – not at all. “We say this because of the many basic doctrinal differences that still exist between the Catholic and Protestant traditions. These include views on Scripture and Tradition, justification, the nature and role of the church/Church, the sacraments, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, Mary and the saints, merits, indulgences, and purgatory.”
He is the secretary of the Evangelical Theological Society and currently serves as the book review editor for theological, historical, and philosophical studies, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society.
Allison is a pastor of Sojourn Community Church, where he serves on the Leadership Council.
Gregg R. Allison Books:
- 1 50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith: A Guide to Understanding and Teaching Theology
- 2 Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine: A Companion to Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology[ HISTORICAL THEOLOGY: AN INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE: A COMPANION TO WAYNE GRUDEM'S SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY ] by Allison, Gregg R. (Author) Apr-12-11[ Hardcover ]
- 3 Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment
- 4 Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church
- 5 The Baker Compact Dictionary of Theological Terms
- 6 The Kingdom of God
- 7 Building on the Foundations of Evangelical Theology: Essays in Honor of John S. Feinberg
- 8 Theology in Community (6 Book Series)
- 9 Did the Reformers Misread Paul?: A Historical-Theological Critique of the New Perspective (Studies in Christian History and Thought)
- 10 Getting Deep: Understand What You Believe about God and Why (Truthquest)
Speed with God
By Sinclair Ferguson 1/1/2009
When Sereno E. Dwight included the seventy resolutions in his biography of his great-grandfather Jonathan Edwards, he added the arresting comment: “These were all written before he was twenty years of age.”
Doubtless the resolutions display the marks of relative youth — references to God are frequent, while references to Christ and to grace are noticeably infrequent. Edwards’ sense of the need for radical consecration was then greater than his ability to show how such devotion would need to be resourced in Christ over the long haul. While this is not wholly lacking, there is no doubt that introspection dominates over divine provision. That notwithstanding, the “Resolutions” provide a very powerful illustration of an often-repeated divine pattern: those the Lord means to use significantly he often deals with profoundly in early years.
Edwards stood in a great puritan tradition of resolution-forming and covenant-making. Both are lost spiritual arts, substituted at best by life-plans that tend to focus on the externals. Edwards, by contrast, was deeply concerned with the internals. He early grasped the value of a deliberate binding of the conscience to a life of holiness and of expressing such commitment in a concrete, objective, and also very specific way. Thus for him, the practice of keeping a journal (in which half of his resolutions are found) was not merely an exercise in narcissism but a careful guarding of the heart against sin. In addition, Edwards was conscious from his teenage years that dealing with indwelling sin (“mortifying” it in the older terminology) meant a commitment to deal generally with all sin, and also repenting of — and mortifying — “particular sins, particularly” (Westminster Confession of Faith, 15.5; Rom. 8:13; Col. 3:5, 8–10. Indeed, these words of Paul form the unwritten backdrop to a number of the resolutions).
What can we learn for Christian living today from the resolutions themselves? Here are only three of many outstanding lessons:
Life is for the glory of God. Resolution 4 epitomizes this: “Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.”
The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards
By Jonathan Edwards 8/17/1723
Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake. Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week. 1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever. 2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things. 3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again. 4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it. 6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live. 22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of. 62. Resolved, never to do anything but duty; and then according to Eph. 6:6-8, do it willingly and cheerfully as unto the Lord, and not to man; “knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord.” June 25 and July 13, 1723. 11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances don’t hinder. 13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality. 69. Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Aug. 11, 1723. 5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can. 7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life. 17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die. 18. Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world. 19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump. 37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year. Dec. 22 and 26, 1722. 40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. Jan. 7, 1723. 41. Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better. Jan. 11, 1723. 50.Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world. July 5, 1723. 51.Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned. July 8, 1723. 52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723. 55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. July 8, 1723. 61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc. May 21, and July 13, 1723. 14. Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge. 15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings. 16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good. 31. Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution. 33. Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining, establishing and preserving peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects. Dec. 26, 1722. 34. Resolved, in narration’s never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity. 36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it. Dec. 19, 1722. 46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eve: and to be especially careful of it, with respect to any of our family. 58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity. May 27, and July 13, 1723. 59. Resolved, when I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times. May 12, July 2, and July 13. 66. Resolved, that I will endeavor always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise. 70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak. 9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death. 10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell. 67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them. 57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether ~ have done my duty, and resolve to do it; and let it be just as providence orders it, I will as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin. June 9, and July 13, 1723. 8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God. 12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by. 21. Resolved, never to do anything, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him. 32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that in Prov. 20:6, “A faithful man who can find?” may not be partly fulfilled in me. 47. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented, easy, compassionate, generous, humble, meek, modest, submissive, obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable, even, patient, moderate, forgiving, sincere temper; and to do at all times what such a temper would lead me to. Examine strictly every week, whether I have done so. Sabbath morning. May 5, 1723. 54. Whenever I hear anything spoken in conversation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, Resolved to endeavor to imitate it. July 8, 1723. 63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. Jan. 14 and July 3, 1723. 27. Resolved, never willfully to omit anything, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions. 39. Resolved, never to do anything that I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or no; except I as much question the lawfulness of the omission. 20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking. Assurance 25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it. 26. Resolved, to cast away such things, as I find do abate my assurance. 48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or no; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of. May 26, 1723. 49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it. The Scriptures 28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same. Prayer 29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept. 64. Resolved, when I find those “groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26), of which the Apostle speaks, and those “breakings of soul for the longing it hath,” of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be wear’, of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23, and August 10, 1723. The Lord’s Day 38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord’s day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722. Vivification of Righteousness 30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before. 42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church; and which I have solemnly re-made this twelfth day of January, 1722-23. 43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God’s, agreeable to what is to be found in Saturday, January 12, 1723. 44- Resolved, that no other end but religion, shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it. Jan.12, 1723. 45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion. Jan. 12-13, 1723. Mortification of Sin and Self Examination 23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God’s glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution. 24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it. 35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. Dec. 18, 1722. 60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination. July 4 and 13, 1723. 68. Resolved, to confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help. July 23 and August 10, 1723. 56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be. Communion with God 53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723. 65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this all my life long, viz. with the greatest openness I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance; according to Dr. Manton’s 27th Sermon on Psalm 119. July 26 and Aug. 10, 1723. Aug. 17, 1723 Jonathan Edwards was an American revivalist preacher, philosopher, and theologian.
Overall Life Mission
Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.
Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.
1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.
2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.
3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.
4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.
6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.
62. Resolved, never to do anything but duty; and then according to Eph. 6:6-8, do it willingly and cheerfully as unto the Lord, and not to man; “knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord.” June 25 and July 13, 1723.
11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances don’t hinder.
13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.
69. Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Aug. 11, 1723.
5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
18. Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.
19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.
37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year. Dec. 22 and 26, 1722.
40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. Jan. 7, 1723.
41. Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better. Jan. 11, 1723.
50.Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world. July 5, 1723.
51.Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned. July 8, 1723.
52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.
55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. July 8, 1723.
61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc. May 21, and July 13, 1723.
14. Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.
15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.
16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.
31. Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.
33. Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining, establishing and preserving peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects. Dec. 26, 1722.
34. Resolved, in narration’s never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.
36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it. Dec. 19, 1722.
46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eve: and to be especially careful of it, with respect to any of our family.
58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity. May 27, and July 13, 1723.
59. Resolved, when I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times. May 12, July 2, and July 13.
66. Resolved, that I will endeavor always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.
70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak.
9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.
67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.
57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether ~ have done my duty, and resolve to do it; and let it be just as providence orders it, I will as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin. June 9, and July 13, 1723.
8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.
12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.
21. Resolved, never to do anything, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.
32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that in Prov. 20:6, “A faithful man who can find?” may not be partly fulfilled in me.
47. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented, easy, compassionate, generous, humble, meek, modest, submissive, obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable, even, patient, moderate, forgiving, sincere temper; and to do at all times what such a temper would lead me to. Examine strictly every week, whether I have done so. Sabbath morning. May 5, 1723.
54. Whenever I hear anything spoken in conversation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, Resolved to endeavor to imitate it. July 8, 1723.
63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. Jan. 14 and July 3, 1723.
27. Resolved, never willfully to omit anything, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.
39. Resolved, never to do anything that I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or no; except I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.
20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.
25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.
26. Resolved, to cast away such things, as I find do abate my assurance.
48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or no; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of. May 26, 1723.
49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it.
28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.
64. Resolved, when I find those “groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26), of which the Apostle speaks, and those “breakings of soul for the longing it hath,” of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be wear’, of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23, and August 10, 1723.
The Lord’s Day
38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord’s day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.
Vivification of Righteousness
30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.
42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church; and which I have solemnly re-made this twelfth day of January, 1722-23.
43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God’s, agreeable to what is to be found in Saturday, January 12, 1723.
44- Resolved, that no other end but religion, shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it. Jan.12, 1723.
45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion. Jan. 12-13, 1723.
Mortification of Sin and Self Examination
23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God’s glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution.
24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.
35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. Dec. 18, 1722.
60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination. July 4 and 13, 1723.
68. Resolved, to confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help. July 23 and August 10, 1723.
56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
Communion with God
53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723.
65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this all my life long, viz. with the greatest openness I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance; according to Dr. Manton’s 27th Sermon on Psalm 119. July 26 and Aug. 10, 1723.
Aug. 17, 1723
Jonathan Edwards was an American revivalist preacher, philosopher, and theologian.Jonathan Edwards Books | Go to Books Page
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 113Who Is like the LORD Our God?
113 Praise the LORD.
113:1 Praise the LORD!
Praise, O servants of the LORD,
praise the name of the LORD!
2 Blessed be the name of the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore!
3 From the rising of the sun to its setting,
the name of the LORD is to be praised!
4 The LORD is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens!
5 Who is like the LORD our God,
who is seated on high,
6 who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth?
7 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
8 to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.
9 He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the LORD!
Chapter 4 | Papal PersecutionsThus far our history of persecution has been confined principally to the pagan world. We come now to a period when persecution, under the guise of Christianity, committed more enormities than ever disgraced the annals of paganism. Disregarding the maxims and the spirit of the Gospel, the papal Church, arming herself with the power of the sword, vexed the Church of God and wasted it for several centuries, a period most appropriately termed in history, the "dark ages." The kings of the earth, gave their power to the "Beast," and submitted to be trodden on by the miserable vermin that often filled the papal chair, as in the case of Henry, emperor of Germany. The storm of papal persecution first burst upon the Waldenses in France.
Persecution of the Waldenses in FrancePopery having brought various innovations into the Church, and overspread the Christian world with darkness and superstition, some few, who plainly perceived the pernicious tendency of such errors, determined to show the light of the Gospel in its real purity, and to disperse those clouds which artful priests had raised about it, in order to blind the people, and obscure its real brightness.
The principal among these was Berengarius, who, about the year 1000, boldly preached Gospel truths, according to their primitive purity. Many, from conviction, assented to his doctrine, and were, on that account, called Berengarians. To Berengarius succeeded Peer Bruis, who preached at Toulouse, under the protection of an earl, named Hildephonsus; and the whole tenets of the reformers, with the reasons of their separation from the Church of Rome, were published in a book written by Bruis, under the title of "Antichrist."
By the year of Christ 1140, the number of the reformed was very great, and the probability of its increasing alarmed the pope, who wrote to several princes to banish them from their dominions, and employed many learned men to write against their doctrines.
In A.D. 1147, because of Henry of Toulouse, deemed their most eminent preacher, they were called Henericians; and as they would not admit of any proofs relative to religion, but what could be deduced from the Scriptures themselves, the popish party gave them the name of apostolics. At length, Peter Waldo, or Valdo, a native of Lyons, eminent for his piety and learning, became a strenuous opposer of popery; and from him the reformed, at that time, received the appellation of Waldenses or Waldoys.
Pope Alexander III being informed by the bishop of Lyons of these transactions, excommunicated Waldo and his adherents, and commanded the bishop to exterminate them, if possible, from the face of the earth; hence began the papal persecutions against the Waldenses.
The proceedings of Waldo and the reformed, occasioned the first rise of the inquisitors; for Pope Innocent III authorized certain monks as inquisitors, to inquire for, and deliver over, the reformed to the secular power. The process was short, as an accusation was deemed adequate to guilt, and a candid trial was never granted to the accused.
The pope, finding that these cruel means had not the intended effect, sent several learned monks to preach among the Waldenses, and to endeavor to argue them out of their opinions. Among these monks was one Dominic, who appeared extremely zealous in the cause of popery. This Dominic instituted an order, which, from him, was called the order of Dominican friars; and the members of this order have ever since been the principal inquisitors in the various inquisitions in the world. The power of the inquisitors was unlimited; they proceeded against whom they pleased, without any consideration of age, sex, or rank. Let the accusers be ever so infamous, the accusation was deemed valid; and even anonymous informations, sent by letter, were thought sufficient evidence. To be rich was a crime equal to heresy; therefore many who had money were accused of heresy, or of being favorers of heretics, that they might be obliged to pay for their opinions. The dearest friends or nearest kindred could not, without danger, serve any one who was imprisoned on account of religion. To convey to those who were confined, a little straw, or give them a cup of water, was called favoring of the heretics, and they were prosecuted accordingly. No lawyer dared to plead for his own brother, and their malice even extended beyond the grave; hence the bones of many were dug up and burnt, as examples to the living. If a man on his deathbed was accused of being a follower of Waldo, his estates were confiscated, and the heir to them defrauded of his inheritance; and some were sent to the Holy Land, while the Dominicans took possession of their houses and properties, and, when the owners returned, would often pretend not to know them. These persecutions were continued for several centuries under different popes and other great dignitaries of the Catholic Church.
Persecutions of the AlbigensesThe Albigenses were a people of the reformed religion, who inhabited the country of Albi. They were condemned on the score of religion in the Council of Lateran, by order of Pope Alexander III. Nevertheless, they increased so prodigiously, that many cities were inhabited by persons only of their persuasion, and several eminent noblemen embraced their doctrines. Among the latter were Raymond, earl of Toulouse, Raymond, earl of Foix, the earl of Beziers, etc.
A friar, named Peter, having been murdered in the dominions of the earl of Toulouse, the pope made the murder a pretense to persecute that nobleman and his subjects. To effect this, he sent persons throughout all Europe, in order to raise forces to act coercively against the Albigenses, and promised paradise to all that would come to this war, which he termed a Holy War, and bear arms for forty days. The same indulgences were likewise held out to all who entered themselves for the purpose as to such as engaged in crusades to the Holy Land. The brave earl defended Toulouse and other places with the most heroic bravery and various success against the pope's legates and Simon, earl of Montfort, a bigoted Catholic nobleman. Unable to subdue the earl of Toulouse openly, the king of France, and the queen mother, and three archbishops raised another formidable army, and had the art to persuade the earl of Toulouse to come to a conference, when he was treacherously seized upon, made a prisoner, forced to appear barefooted and bareheaded before his enemies, and compelled to subscribe an abject recantation. This was followed by a severe persecution against the Albigenses; and express orders that the laity should not be permitted to read the sacred Scriptures. In the year 1620 also, the persecution against the Albigenses was very severe. In 1648 a heavy persecution raged throughout Lithuania and Poland. The cruelty of the Cossacks was so excessive that the Tartars themselves were ashamed of their barbarities. Among others who suffered was the Rev. Adrian Chalinski, who was roasted alive by a slow fire, and whose sufferings and mode of death may depict the horrors which the professors of Christianity have endured from the enemies of the Redeemer.
The reformation of papistical error very early was projected in France; for in the third century a learned man, named Almericus, and six of his disciples, were ordered to be burnt at Paris for asserting that God was no otherwise present in the sacramental bread than in any other bread; that it was idolatry to build altars or shrines to saints and that it was ridiculous to offer incense to them.
The martyrdom of Almericus and his pupils did not, however, prevent many from acknowledging the justness of his notions, and seeing the purity of the reformed religion, so that the faith of Christ continually increased, and in time not only spread itself over many parts of France, but diffused the light of the Gospel over various other countries.
In the year 1524, at a town in France, called Melden, one John Clark set up a bill on the church door, wherein he called the pope Antichrist. For this offence he was repeatedly whipped, and then branded on the forehead. Going afterward to Mentz, in Lorraine, he demolished some images, for which he had his right hand and nose cut off, and his arms and breast torn with pincers. He sustained these cruelties with amazing fortitude, and was even sufficiently cool to sing the One hundredth and fifteenth Psalm, which expressly forbids idolatry; after which he was thrown into the fire, and burnt to ashes.
Many persons of the reformed persuasion were, about this time, beaten, racked, scourged, and burnt to death, in several parts of France, but more particularly at Paris, Malda, and Limosin.
A native of Malda was burnt by a slow fire, for saying that Mass was a plain denial of the death and passion of Christ. At Limosin, John de Cadurco, a clergyman of the reformed religion, was apprehended and ordered to be burnt.
Francis Bribard, secretary to cardinal de Pellay, for speaking in favor of the reformed, had his tongue cut out, and was then burnt, A.D. 1545. James Cobard, a schoolmaster in the city of St. Michael, was burnt, A.D. 1545, for saying 'That Mass was useless and absurd'; and about the same time, fourteen men were burnt at Malda, their wives being compelled to stand by and behold the execution.
A.D. 1546, Peter Chapot brought a number of Bibles in the French tongue to France, and publicly sold them there; for which he was brought to trial, sentenced, and executed a few days afterward. Soon after, a cripple of Meaux, a schoolmaster of Fera, named Stephen Poliot, and a man named John English, were burnt for the faith.
Monsieur Blondel, a rich jeweler, was, in A.D. 1548, apprehended at Lyons, and sent to Paris; there he was burnt for the faith by order of the court, A.D. 1549. Herbert, a youth of nineteen years of age, was committed to the flames at Dijon; as was also Florent Venote in the same year.
In the year 1554, two men of the reformed religion, with the son and daughter of one of them, were apprehended and committed to the castle of Niverne. On examination, they confessed their faith, and were ordered to execution; being smeared with grease, brimstone, and gunpowder, they cried, "Salt on, salt on this sinful and rotten flesh." Their tongues were then cut out, and they were afterward committed to the flames, which soon consumed them, by means of the combustible matter with which they were besmeared.
Foxe's Book of Martyrs
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Put on your new clothes
(Oct 15) Bob Gass
‘Put on the new self.’
(Eph 4:24) and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. ESV
When you entertain wrong thoughts in the privacy of your mind, you may be tempted to excuse yourself by saying, ‘What harm will it do?’ More harm than you know! You become what you dwell on. The Bible says, ‘Put off your old self…put on the new self’ (vv. 22, 24 NIV 2011 Edition). You may not want to admit you’re still wearing some of those ‘old’ clothes (attitudes, pastimes, and practices), but the truth is you can’t put on your new ones until you take off the old ones. Furthermore, you can’t hang your old clothes in the wardrobe for a rainy day, or leave them on the floor to be tripped over. You’ve got to get rid of them. ‘Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires…put on the new self, created to be like God…Put off falsehood and speak truthfully…Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up…Do not grieve the Holy Spirit…Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you’ (vv. 22-32 NIV 2011 Edition). The word for you today is: it’s time to take off your old clothes and put on your new ones.
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
In an era when liberal federal judges have taken license to strike down properly passed laws, its interesting to look at the views of James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, who wrote on this day, October 15, 1788: “As the courts are generally the last in making the decision, it results to them, by refusing or not refusing to execute a law, to stamp it with its final character. This makes the Judiciary department paramount in fact to the Legislature, which was never intended, and can never be proper.” Also on this day, October 15, 1991, despite a vicious attack by liberals, Clarence Thomas was confirmed as a Justice on the Supreme Court by the U.S. Senate vote of 52-48.American Minute
by P.T. Forsyth, (1848-1921)
The Soul of Prayer
But, after all, our doom is our blessing. Our Judge is on our side. For if humiliation be wrung from us, still more is faith, hope, and prayer. Everything that rebukes our self-satisfaction does still more to draw out our faith. When we are too tired or doubtful to ask we can praise and adore. When we are weary of confessing our sin we can forget ourselves in a godly sort and confess our Saviour. We can say the creed when we cannot raise the song. He also hath given us the reconciliation. The more judgment we see in the holy cross the more we see it is judgment unto salvation. The more we are humbled the more we “roll our souls upon Christ.” And we recover our self-possession only by giving our soul again and again to Christ to keep. We win a confidence in self-despair. Prayer is given us as wings wherewith to mount, but also to shield our face when they have carried us before the great white throne. It is in prayer that the holiness comes home as love, and the love is established as holiness. At every step our thought is transformed to prayer, and our prayer opens new ranges of thought. His great revelation is His holiness, always outgoing in atoning love. The Christian revelation is not “God is love” so much as “love is God.” That is, it is not God’s love, but the infinite power of God’s love, its finality, omnipotence, and absoluteness. It is not passionate and helpless love, but it has power to subdue everything that rises against it. And that is the holiness of love—the eternal thing in it. We receive the last reconciliation. Then the very wrath of God becomes a glory. The red in the sky is the new dawn. Our self-accusation becomes a new mode of praise. Our loaded hearts spring light again. Our heavy conscience turns to grave moral power. A new love is born for our kind. A new and tender patience steals upon us. We see new ways of helping, serving, and saving. We issue into a new world. We are one with the Christ not only on His cross, but in His resurrection. Think of the resurrection power and calm, of that solemn final peace, that infinite satisfaction in the eternal thing eternally achieved, which filled His soul when He had emerged from death, when man’s worst had been done, and God’s best had been won, for ever and for all. We have our times of entrance into that Christ. As we were one with Him in the likeness of His death, so we are in the likeness of His resurrection. And the same Eternal Spirit which puts the preacher’s soul much upon the cross also raises it continually from the dead. We overcome our mistakes, negligences, sins; nay, we rise above the sin of the whole world, which will not let our souls be as good as they are. We overcome the world, and take courage, and are of new cheer. We are in the Spirit. And then we can preach, pray, teach, heal. And even the unclean lips then put a new thrill into our sympathy and a new tremor into our praise.
If it be not so, how shall our dangerous work not demoralize us, and we perish from our too much contact with holy things.
The minister’s holiest prayer is hardly lawful to utter. Few of his public would comprehend it. Some would dismiss it with their most opprobrious word. They would call it theological. When he calls to God in his incomprehensible extremity they would translate it into an appeal to Elijah (Matt. xxvii. 47). For to them theology is largely mythology.
We are called at the present day to a reconstruction of the old theology, a restatement of the old Gospel. We have to reappropriate and remint the truth of our experienced Christianity. But what a hardship it is that this call should search us at a time when the experimental power of our Christianity has abated, and the evangelical experience is so low and so confused as it often is! It must be the minister’s work to recover and deepen this experience for the churches, in the interest of faith, and of the truth in which faith renders account of itself. Theological inadequacy, and especially antagonism to theology, means at root religious defect. For the reformation of belief we must have a restoration of faith. And a chief engine for such recovery of faith is for us what it was for Luther and his like—prayer. And it is not mindless prayer, but that prayer which is the wrestling of the conscience and not merely the cry of the heart, the prayer for reconciliation and redemption and not merely for guidance and comfort, the prayer of faith and not merely of love.
I saw in a friend’s house a photograph from (I think) Durer—just two tense hands, palms together, and lifted in prayer. It was most eloquent, most subduing. I wish I could stamp the picture on the page here and fit it to Milton’s line:
The great two-handed engine at our door.
--- Forsyth, P. T. (1848-1921).
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
Any fool can count the seeds in an apple.
Only God can count all the apples in one seed.
--- Robert H. Schuller
Self-respect is the fruit of discipline,
the sense of dignity grows
with the ability to say no to oneself.
--- Abraham Joshua Heschel
I have friends who wear Star Wars costumes and act like the characters all day. I may not be that deep into it, but there's something great about loving what you love and not caring if it's unpopular.
--- Kristen Bell
... from here, there and everywhere
Thanks to Meir Yona
8. Now after one day had been interposed since the Romans ascended the breach, many of the seditious were so pressed by the famine, upon the present failure of their ravages, that they got together, and made an attack on those Roman guards that were upon the Mount of Olives, and this about the eleventh hour of the day, as supposing, first, that they would not expect such an onset, and, in the next place, that they were then taking care of their bodies, and that therefore they should easily beat them. But the Romans were apprized of their coming to attack them beforehand, and, running together from the neighboring camps on the sudden, prevented them from getting over their fortification, or forcing the wall that was built about them. Upon this came on a sharp fight, and here many great actions were performed on both sides; while the Romans showed both their courage and their skill in war, as did the Jews come on them with immoderate violence and intolerable passion. The one part were urged on by shame, and the other by necessity; for it seemed a very shameful thing to the Romans to let the Jews go, now they were taken in a kind of net; while the Jews had but one hope of saving themselves, and that was in case they could by violence break through the Roman wall; and one whose name was Pedanius, belonging to a party of horsemen, when the Jews were already beaten and forced down into the valley together, spurred his horse on their flank with great vehemence, and caught up a certain young man belonging to the enemy by his ankle, as he was running away; the man was, however, of a robust body, and in his armor; so low did Pedanius bend himself downward from his horse, even as he was galloping away, and so great was the strength of his right hand, and of the rest of his body, as also such skill had he in horsemanship. So this man seized upon that his prey, as upon a precious treasure, and carried him as his captive to Caesar; whereupon Titus admired the man that had seized the other for his great strength, and ordered the man that was caught to be punished [with death] for his attempt against the Roman wall, but betook himself to the siege of the temple, and to pressing on the raising of the banks.
9. In the mean time, the Jews were so distressed by the fights they had been in, as the war advanced higher and higher, and creeping up to the holy house itself, that they, as it were, cut off those limbs of their body which were infected, in order to prevent the distemper's spreading further; for they set the north-west cloister, which was joined to the tower of Antonia, on fire, and after that brake off about twenty cubits of that cloister, and thereby made a beginning in burning the sanctuary; two days after which, or on the twenty-fourth day of the forenamed month, [Panemus or Tamuz,] the Romans set fire to the cloister that joined to the other, when the fire went fifteen cubits farther. The Jews, in like manner, cut off its roof; nor did they entirely leave off what they were about till the tower of Antonia was parted from the temple, even when it was in their power to have stopped the fire; nay, they lay still while the temple was first set on fire, and deemed this spreading of the fire to be for their own advantage. However, the armies were still fighting one against another about the temple, and the war was managed by continual sallies of particular parties against one another.
10. Now there was at this time a man among the Jews, low of stature he was, and of a despicable appearance; of no character either as to his family, or in other respects: his name was Jonathan. He went out at the high priest John's monument, and uttered many other insolent things to the Romans, and challenged the best of them all to a single combat. But many of those that stood there in the army huffed him, and many of them [as they might well be] were afraid of him. Some of them also reasoned thus, and that justly enough: that it was not fit to fight with a man that desired to die, because those that utterly despaired of deliverance had, besides other passions, a violence in attacking men that could not be opposed, and had no regard to God himself; and that to hazard oneself with a person, whom, if you overcome, you do no great matter, and by whom it is hazardous that you may be taken prisoner, would be an instance, not of manly courage, but of unmanly rashness. So there being nobody that came out to accept the man's challenge, and the Jew cutting them with a great number of reproaches, as cowards, [for he was a very haughty man in himself, and a great despiser of the Romans,] one whose name was Pudens, of the body of horsemen, out of his abomination of the other's words, and of his impudence withal, and perhaps out of an inconsiderate arrogance, on account of the other's lowness of stature, ran out to him, and was too hard for him in other respects, but was betrayed by his ill fortune; for he fell down, and as he was down, Jonathan came running to him, and cut his throat, and then, standing upon his dead body, he brandished his sword, bloody as it was, and shook his shield with his left hand, and made many acclamations to the Roman army, and exulted over the dead man, and jested upon the Romans; till at length one Priscus, a centurion, shot a dart at him as he was leaping and playing the fool with himself, and thereby pierced him through; upon which a shout was set up both by the Jews and the Romans, though on different accounts. So Jonathan grew giddy by the pain of his wounds, and fell down upon the body of his adversary, as a plain instance how suddenly vengeance may come upon men that have success in war, without any just deserving the same.
by D.H. Stern
than hidden love.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest
The key to the missionary message
And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. --- 1 John 2:2.
The key to the missionary message is the propitiation of Christ Jesus. Take any phase of Christ’s work—the healing phase, the saving and sanctifying phase; there is nothing limitless about those. “The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!”—that is limitless. The missionary message is the limitless significance of Jesus Christ as the propitiation for our sins, and a missionary is one who is soaked in that revelation.
The key to the missionary message is the remissionary aspect of Christ’s life, not His kindness and His goodness, and His revealing of the Fatherhood of God; the great limitless significance is that He is the propitiation for our sins. The missionary message is not patriotic, it is irrespective of nations and of individuals, it is for the whole world. When the Holy Ghost comes in He does not consider my predilections, He brings me into union with the Lord Jesus.
A missionary is one who is wedded to the charter of his Lord and Master; he has not to proclaim his own point of view, but to proclaim the Lamb of God. It is easier to belong to a coterie which tells what Jesus Christ has done for me, easier to become a devotee to Divine healing, or to a special type of sanctification, or to the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Paul did not say—‘Woe is unto me, if I do not preach what Christ has done for me,’ but—“Woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel!” This is the Gospel—“The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!”
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
I served on a dozen committees;
talked hard, said little, shared the applause
at the end. Picking over
the remains later, we agreed power
was not ours, launched our invective
at others, the anonymous wielders
of such. Life became small, grey,
the smell of interiors. Occasions
on which a clean air entered our nostrils
off swept seas were instances
we sought to recapture. One particular
time after a harsh Morning
of rain, the clouds lifted, the wind
fell; there was a resurrection
of nature, and we there to emerge
with it into the anointed
air. I wanted to say to you: 'We
will remember this.' But tenses
were out of place on that green
island, ringed with the rain's
bow, that we had found and would spend
the rest of our lives looking for.
Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest
A writer who felt the danger of exposing his philosophic interest to the community would have to be a masochist to make such a statement. Although Maimonides does not explicate the teachings of Ma’aseh Merkavah and Ma’aseh Bereshit in the Mishneh Torah as he does in the Guide, one must appreciate his frankness in these statements. Whereas the Orthodox Jew might tolerate various philosophical exegeses of the Bible, he would nonetheless rage against the suggestion that the elite of his tradition—his prophets and cherished sages—consummated their love of God in “non-Jewish domains” of knowledge. The Orthodox Jew would reject the notion that philosophy is of greater significance than the study of Halakhah.
h) The most powerful argument against the supposed split in Maimonides’ thinking can be derived from the way he treats the Song of Songs. The Song of Songs is perceived by the traditional Jew as a parable of the passionate love affair between God and Israel. To the devout Jew, the Song of Songs is what intimate letters are to the passionate lover. In the Mishneh Torah Maimonides interprets the parable in terms of the love gained from the knowledge of God through nature.
As was noted, the god who is revealed in nature cannot be limited to a specific relationship with Israel. Thus to interpret a book—traditionally believed to express the intimate love affair of God and Israel—as a book about the love inspired by God in all beings capable of intellection is to negate the unique status of Israel in this love-relationship. Similarly, this interpretation unequivocally destroys a spiritual way of life in which God is exclusively a lawgiver.
Man’s ultimate relationship to God cannot be the exclusive experience of any particular historical community. Physics and metaphysics are disciplines which are accessible to all rational men. Reason, the image of God in man, does not separate the Jew from the non-Jew. “Beloved is man who is created in the image of God” (Avot 3:14). By making the passion of the Song of Songs a function of these philosophic disciplines, Maimonides broke the exclusivity of the love-relationship of the Jew with God:
Not only the tribe of Levi, but every single individual from among the world’s inhabitants whose spirit moved him and whose intelligence gave him the understanding to withdraw from the world in order to stand before God—to serve and minister to Him, to know God—and he walked upright in the manner in which God made him, shaking from his neck the yoke of the manifold contrivances which men seek—behold! this person has been totally consecrated and God will be his portion and inheritance forever and ever. God will acquire for him sufficient goods in this world just as he did for the Priests and Levites. Behold, David, may he rest in peace, says: “O Lord, the portion of my inheritance and of my cup, You maintain my lot” (Ps. 16:5).
What the previous discussion shows is that Maimonides was not simply attempting to secure legitimacy for philosophy. Had this been his motive in the Mishneh Torah he would never have made explicit claims which would shock the most sensitive religious feelings of traditional talmudists. Maimonides could have then chosen the path of some of our contemporary Orthodox Jewish scientists who neatly separate the world of science from religion. No talmudist of that era would take issue with the view that Torah taught true science before Aristotle. After all in the Mishnah it is written: “Study it [Torah] again and again, for everything is contained in it” (T.B. Avot 5:22).
In fact, if protecting philosophers was Maimonides’ aim, he could have achieved this with an acceptable argument that the study of the sciences enhances man’s appreciation of the wonder and majesty of God. But this was not his purpose. He placed knowledge of pardes above knowledge of the law and made it a condition for joining the ranks of the sages and prophets. He deliberately restructured the private love story of God and Israel. Maimonides exposed his legal reader to an understanding of Halakhah which enabled the reader to recognize the importance of objective study of the sciences for his personal observance of the commandments. To claim, as Strauss does, that Torah has significance for Maimonides solely in terms of political categories, as an instrument of social order, is to miss the point of Maimonides’ constant stress upon the importance of Aggadah for Halakhah.
The difference between the approaches of Strauss and others who overlook Maimonides’ integrated methods and the course taken here will come into sharper focus when specific problems in the Guide are analyzed later. But there is yet another instance in the Mishneh Torah in which Maimonides offers a rationale for the existence of Torah as an integrated system of norms and philosophy. If Torah is not to be simply a redundant way of formulation of philosophy, one must understand why Halakhah is a vital component in integration. To do this, Maimonides’ presentation of the conditions which preceded the giving of the Torah must be examined. If pre-Mosaic man could have appropriated the philosophic way to love of God, what made it necessary to introduce a Torah into history?
Before enumerating the laws of idolatry in the Mishneh Torah, Maimonides begins with a prolegomenon dealing with the historical origins of idolatry. In this introduction, three stages of biblical history are discussed: a) the origins of paganism, b) the revolt of Abraham against his pagan society, and c) the election of Moses and the giving of the Torah.
Maimonides describes three stages in history which he believes led to the abandonment of belief in God. The process began from a mistake in the form of worship. At first men believed in one God who governed the world through intermediary forces. Given this cosmology, they reasoned that just as a king is honored when respect is shown to his ministers, so too would God be pleased if men paid homage to His ministers, the heavenly bodies. This mistaken form of worship of intermediaries grew out of an honest mistake which resulted from a cosmology that perceived God as affecting the world through His intermediaries.
Maimonides does not explain why this form of worship is mistaken. What Maimonides does is to show the reader how mistaken forms of worship are compatible with a true belief in God and, therefore, why the change from pure monotheism to the beginnings of paganism is not a radical one. This is characteristic of Maimonides’ theory of human development which is presented in his theory of history in the Guide.
The second stage in the process of abandonment begins when “prophets” claim that the authority of God legitimatizes a pagan form of worship:
In course of time, there arose among men false prophets who asserted that God had commanded and expressly told them: “Worship that particular star, or worship all the stars. Offer up such and such sacrifices. Pour out such and such libations. Erect a temple. Make a figure, to which all the people—the women, children, and the rest of the folk shall bow down.”
Mistaken forms of worship, which initially resulted from human thought, are now claimed to represent the will of God. It is interesting that wise men who appeal to reason do not succeed in making intermediary-worship practice universal. In the stage of wise men, there were no images to worship—only temples devoted to the worship of the stars. The false prophets, however, introduced figures and images, and succeeded in bringing about the popular forms of idol-worship.
The final stage emerges only after a long period, when the masses of people come to know only the images and the wise men know only the spheres. What begins as a mistaken way of honoring God concludes with the complete absence of God from the minds of men.
Maimonides does not claim that such a process is necessary and can be predicted by an analysis of some metaphysical or natural concept. The stages of this process of alienation are not links in a logical chain, but descriptions of a human process, one which results from a tendency in man to treat means as ends in themselves.
Maimonides also noticed this process of alienation in man’s economic behavior. In his introduction to The Commentary to the Mishnah, he marvels at the involvement of man in economic pursuits which appear to have no relationship to human needs. Although human survival may be the initial reason for an economic activity, the reason is often forgotten once such activities are in motion. Thus, spheres, stars, figurines, and images become exclusive objects of worship in much the same way that economic pursuits, which may have little connection with one’s survival, dominate one’s whole life.
One who understands the tendency toward alienation in human behavior will be able to appreciate why, as a means of honoring God, the worship of intermediaries must be rejected. It is quite understandable how Maimonides can claim the testimony of reason in rejecting the claims of false prophets who demand the worship of intermediaries:
And we should not worry about his claim to prophecy nor shall we ask from him a miracle. And even if he performed miracles the likes of which we have never even heard so as to verify his claim, behold this [person] is punished by strangulation and one should not pay heed to those miracles, for the reason for the existence of those miracles is what Scripture said, “For the Lord your God is testing you” … (Deut. 13:4). For the testimony of reason which denies his prophecy is stronger than the testimony of the eye which sees his miracles, for it has already been made clear to men of reason that it is not proper to honor nor to worship other than the One who caused all beings to exist and is unique in [His] ultimate perfection.
The testimony of reason can refer both to one’s ability to reject theological claims which contradict demonstrative truth, and to reasoned arguments which are grounded in examination of human behavior. This point is crucial in Maimonides’ presentation of Abraham:
The world moved on in this fashion, till that Pillar of the World, the Patriarch Abraham, was born. After he was weaned, while still an infant, his mind began to reflect. By day and by night he was thinking and wondering: “How is it possible that this [celestial] sphere should continuously be guiding the world and have no one to guide it and cause it to turn round; for it cannot be that it turns round of itself.” He had no teacher, no one to instruct him in aught. He was submerged, in Ur of the Chaldees, among silly idolaters. His father and mother and the entire population worshiped idols and he worshiped with them. But his mind was busily working and reflecting till he attained the way of truth, apprehended the correct line of thought and knew that there is One God, that He guides the celestial sphere and created everything, and that among all that exists, there is no god beside Him.
And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
--- Luke 1:46–47.
Mary sings. Spurgeon's Sermons on New Testament Women, Book 2 When God shows himself, what music will suffice for the grand psalm of adoring wonder? In the Incarnation, it is the divine person who is revealed, wrapped in a veil of our lesser clay. Worthy of peerless music is the fact that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). There is no longer a great gulf fixed between God and his people; the humanity of Christ has bridged it. We can no longer think that God sits on high, indifferent to our wants and woes, for God has come down to our humble state. No longer need we lament that we can never participate in the moral glory and purity of God. Let us dream no longer in somber sadness that we cannot draw near to God, so that he will really hear our prayers and pity our necessities, since Jesus has become bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, born a babe as we are born, living as human as we must live, bearing the same infirmities and sorrows, and bowing his head to the same death. O can’t we come with confidence by this new and living way to the throne of the heavenly grace, when Jesus meets us as Immanuel—God with us?
The stress of the Virgin’s canticle is laid on God’s special grace to her. Those little words, the personal pronouns, tell us that it was truly a personal affair with her. My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. The Savior was, in a special sense, hers. You can never know the joy of Mary unless Christ becomes truly and really yours. But, oh! when he is yours, yours within, reigning in your heart, changing your nature, subduing your corruptions—yours within, an inexpressible and glorious joy—oh! then who can restrain your tongue?
The natural conception of the Savior’s holy body was not one-tenth so fitting a theme for congratulation as the spiritual conception of the holy Jesus within your heart when he will be in you the hope of glory. My dear friend, if Christ is yours, there is no song on earth too high, too holy for you to sing. No, there is no song that thrills from angelic lips, no note that thrills archangel’s tongue, in which you may not join. Even this day, the holiest, the happiest, the most glorious of words and thoughts and emotions belong to you. Use them! God help you to enjoy them. His be the praise while yours is the comfort evermore. Amen.
--- C. H. Spurgeon
God Looked Down …
Think of what you were when you were called,” said Paul. “Not many of you were wise … influential … of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things … ” --- 1 Co 1:26,27, NIV.
It had started on a bus in England. Gladys Aylward, a poorly educated 28-year-old parlormaid, was reading about China and the need for missionaries there; and from that moment, China became her life and passion. She applied to a missionary agency only to be turned down. Crushed with disappointment, she returned to her small servant’s room and turned her pocketbook upside down. Two pennies fell on top of her Bible. “O God,” she prayed, “here’s my Bible! Here’s my money! Here’s me!” Gladys began hoarding every cent to purchase passage to China. She knew she couldn’t afford to travel by ship, so she decided to go overland by train right across Europe and Asia, though it meant slicing through a dangerous war zone on the Manchurian border. On October 15, 1932 a little bewildered party gathered at London’s Liverpool Street Station to see Gladys Aylward off for China. The journey was hair-raising and nearly cost her life. But eventually Gladys reached China, showing up at the home of an older missionary who took her in—but didn’t quite know what to do with her.
And yet—to make a long story short—Gladys Aylward eventually became one of the most amazing single woman missionaries of modern history. Her missions career was so extraordinary that the world finally took notice. Her biography was made into a movie starring Ingrid Bergman. She dined with such dignitaries as Queen Elizabeth and spoke in great churches. She even became a subject of the television program “This Is Your Life.”
But Gladys never grew accustomed to the limelight, for her heart was always in Asia. “I wasn’t God’s first choice for what I’ve done for China,” she once said. “There was somebody else. … I don’t know who it was—God’s first choice. I don’t know what happened. Perhaps he died. Perhaps he wasn’t willing. And God looked down … and saw Gladys Aylward.”
My dear friends, remember what you were when God chose you. The people of this world didn’t think that many of you were wise. Only a few of you were in places of power, and not many of you came from important families. But God chose the foolish things of this world to put the wise to shame. He chose the weak things of this world to put the powerful to shame. --- 1 Corinthians 1:26,27.
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - October 15
“But who may abide the day of his coming?” --- Malachi 3:2.
His first coming was without external pomp or show of power, and yet in truth there were few who could abide its testing might. Herod and all Jerusalem with him were stirred at the news of the wondrous birth. Those who supposed themselves to be waiting for him, showed the fallacy of their professions by rejecting him when he came. His life on earth was a winnowing fan, which tried the great heap of religious profession, and few enough could abide the process. But what will his second advent be? What sinner can endure to think of it? “He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” When in his humiliation he did but say to the soldiers, “I am he,” they fell backward; what will be the terror of his enemies when he shall more fully reveal himself as the “I am?” His death shook earth and darkened heaven, what shall be the dreadful splendour of that day in which as the living Saviour, he shall summon the quick and dead before him? O that the terrors of the Lord would persuade men to forsake their sins and kiss the Son lest he be angry! Though a lamb, he is yet the lion of the tribe of Judah, rending the prey in pieces; and though he breaks not the bruised reed, yet will he break his enemies with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. None of his foes shall bear up before the tempest of his wrath, or hide themselves from the sweeping hail of his indignation; but his beloved blood washed people look for his appearing with joy, and hope to abide it without fear: to them he sits as a refiner even now, and when he has tried them they shall come forth as gold. Let us search ourselves this Morning and make our calling and election sure, so that the coming of the Lord may cause no dark forebodings in our mind. O for grace to cast away all hypocrisy, and to be found of him sincere and without rebuke in the day of his appearing.
Evening - October 15
“But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck.” --- Exodus 34:20.
Every firstborn creature must be the Lord’s, but since the ass was unclean, it could not be presented in sacrifice. What then? Should it be allowed to go free from the universal law? By no means. God admits of no exceptions. The ass is his due, but he will not accept it; he will not abate the claim, but yet he cannot be pleased with the victim. No way of escape remained but redemption—the creature must be saved by the substitution of a lamb in its place; or if not redeemed, it must die. My soul, here is a lesson for thee. That unclean animal is thyself; thou art justly the property of the Lord who made thee and preserves thee, but thou art so sinful that God will not, cannot, accept thee; and it has come to this, the Lamb of God must stand in thy stead, or thou must die eternally. Let all the world know of thy gratitude to that spotless Lamb who has already bled for thee, and so redeemed thee from the fatal curse of the law. Must it not sometimes have been a question with the Israelite which should die, the ass or the lamb? Would not the good man pause to estimate and compare? Assuredly there was no comparison between the value of the soul of man and the life of the Lord Jesus, and yet the Lamb dies, and man the ass is spared. My soul, admire the boundless love of God to thee and others of the human race. Worms are bought with the blood of the Son of the Highest! Dust and ashes redeemed with a price far above silver and gold! What a doom had been mine had not plenteous redemption been found! The breaking of the neck of the ass was but a momentary penalty, but who shall measure the wrath to come to which no limit can be imagined? Inestimably dear is the glorious Lamb who has redeemed us from such a doom.
STAND UP FOR JESUS
George Duffield, 1818–1888
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. (Ephesians 6:10)
A great city-wide revival swept across Philadelphia in 1858. It was called “the work of God in Philadelphia.” Of the participating ministers none was more powerful that the 29-year-old Episcopalian, Dudley Tyng, who was known as a bold and uncompromising preacher.
In addition to pastoring his own church, Dudley Tyng began holding noonday services at the downtown YMCA. Great crowds came to hear this dynamic young preacher. On Tuesday, March 30, 1858, over 5,000 men gathered for a noon mass meeting to hear Tyng preach from the text “Ye that are men, go and serve the Lord” (Exodus 10:11). Over 1,000 of these men committed their lives to Christ. At one point, the young preacher exclaimed:
I must tell my Master’s errand, and I would rather that this right arm were amputated at the trunk than that I should come short of my duty to you in delivering God’s message.
The very next week, while visiting in the country and watching the operation of a corn threshing machine in a barn, young Tyng accidentally caught his loose sleeve between the cogs; the arm was lacerated severely with the main artery severed and the median nerve injured. As a result of shock and a great loss of blood, the Rev. Dudley Tyng died.
On his death bed when asked by a group of sorrowing friends and ministers for a final statement, he feebly whispered, “Let us all stand up for Jesus.”
The next Sunday, Tyng’s close friend and fellow worker, the Rev. George Duffield, pastor of the Temple Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, preached his Morning sermon as a tribute to his departed friend. He closed his sermon by reading a poem that he had just finished writing, inspired, as he told his people, by the dying words of his esteemed friend.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus; ye soldiers of the cross; lift high His royal banner—it must not suffer loss. From vict’ry unto vict’ry His army shall He lead, ’till ev’ry foe is vanquished and Christ is Lord indeed.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus; the trumpet call obey; forth to the mighty conflict in this His glorious day. Ye that are men now serve Him against unnumbered foes; let courage rise with danger and strength to strength oppose.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus; the strife will not be long; this day the noise of battle—the next, the victor’s song. To Him that overcometh a crown of life shall be; He with the King of Glory shall reign eternally.
For Today: 2 Corinthians 1:20–22; Ephesians 6:10–18; James 1:12
Determine to live boldly and unashamedly for God in the strength and wisdom that He will provide. Sing as you go ---
Discourse IX - On The Wisdom Of God
Rom. 16:27. — To God only wise be glory, through Jesus Christ, for ever. Amen.
This chapter being the last of this Epistle, is chiefly made up of charitable and friendly salutations and commendations of particular persons, according to the earliness and strength of their several graces, and their labor of love for the interest of God and his people. In verse 17, he warns them not to be drawn aside from the gospel doctrine, which had been taught them, by the plausible pretences and insinuations which the corrupters of the doctrine and rule of Christ never want from the suggestions of their carnal wisdom. The brats of soul-destroying errors may walk about the world in a garb and disguise of good words and fair speeches, as it is in the 18th. verse; by “good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” And for their encouragement to a constancy in the gospel doctrine, he assures them, that all those that would dispossess them of truth, to possess them with vanity, are but Satan’s instruments, and will fall under the same captivity and yoke with their principal (ver. 18); “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” Whence, observe,
1. All corrupters of divine truth, and troublers of the church’s peace, are no better than devils. Our Saviour thought the name, Satan, a title merited by Peter, when he breathed out an advice, as an axe at the root of the gospel, the death of Christ, the foundation of all gospel truth; and the apostle concludes them under the same character, which hinder the superstructure, and would mix their chaff with his wheat (Matt. 16:23), “Get thee behind me, Satan.” It is not, Get thee behind me, Simon, or, Get thee behind me, Peter; but “Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art an offence to me.” Thou dost oppose thyself to the wisdom, and grace, and authority of God, to the redemption of man, and to the good of the world. As the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of truth, so is Satan the spirit of falsehood as the Holy Ghost inspires believers with truth, so doth the devil corrupt unbelievers with error. Let us cleave to the truth of the gospel, that we may not be counted by God as part of the corporation of fallen angels, and not be barely reckoned as enemies of God, but in league with the greatest enemy to his glory in the world.
2. The Reconciler of the world will be the Subduer of Satan. The God of peace sent the Prince of peace to be the restorer of his rights, and the hammer to beat in pieces the usurper of them. As a God of truth, he will make good his promise; as a God of peace, he will perfect the design his wisdom hath laid, and begun to act. In the subduing Satan, he will be the conqueror of his instruments: he saith not, God shall bruise your troublers and heretics, but Satan: the fall of a general proves the rout of the army. Since God, as a God of peace, hath delivered his own, he will perfect the victory, and make them cease from bruising the heel of his spiritual seed.
3. Divine evangelical truth shall be victorious. No weapon formed against it shall prosper: the head of the wicked shall fall as low as the feet of the godly. The devil never yet blustered in the world, but he met at last with a disappointment: his fall hath been like lightning, sudden, certain, vanishing.
4. Faith must look back as far as the foundation promise. “The God of peace shall bruise,” &c. The apostle seems to allude to the first promise (Gen. 2:15), —a promise that hath vigor to nourish the church in all ages of the world: it is the standing cordial; out of the womb of this promise all the rest have taken their birth. The promises of the Old Testament were designed for those under the New, and the full performance of them is to be expected, and will be enjoyed by them. It is a mighty strengthening to faith, to trace the footsteps of God’s truth and wisdom, from the threatening against the serpent in Eden, to the bruise he received in Calvary, and the triumph over him upon Mount Olivet.
5. We are to confide in the promise of God, but leave the season of its accomplishment to his wisdom. He will “bruise Satan under your feet,” therefore do not doubt it; and shortly, therefore, wait for it. Shortly it will be done, that is, quickly, when you think it may be a great way off; or shortly, that is, seasonably, when Satan’s rage is hottest. God is the best judge of the seasons of distributing his own mercies, and darting out his own glory: it is enough to encourage our waiting, that it will be, and that it will be shortly; but we must not measure God’s shortly by our minutes.
The apostle after this, concludes with a comfortable prayer, that since they were liable to many temptations to turn their backs apon the doctrine which they had learned; yet he desires God, who had brought them to the knowledge of his truth, would confirm them in the belief of it, since it was the gospel of Christ, his dear Son, and a mystery he bad been chary of and kept in his own cabinet, and now brought forth to the world in pursuance of the ancient prophesies, and now had published to all nations for that end that it might be obeyed; and concludes with a doxology, a voice of praise, to Him, who was only wise to effect his own purposes (ver. 25, 26, 27), “Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.” This doxology is interlaced with many comforts for the Romans. He explains the causes of this glory to God, power, and wisdom; power to establish the Romans in grace, which includes his will. This he proves from a divine testimony, viz., the gospel; the gospel committed to him, and preached by him, which he commends, by calling it the preaching of Christ; and describes it, for the instruction and comfort of the church from the adjuncts, the obscurity of it under the Old Testament, and the clearness of it under the New. It was hid from the former ages, and kept in silence; not simply and absolutely, but comparatively and in part; because in the Old Testament, the doctrine of salvation by Christ was confined to the limits of Judea, preached only to the inhabitants of that country: to them he gave “his statutes and his judgments, and dealt not so magnificently with any nation” (Psalm 147:19, 20); but now he causes it to spring with greater majesty out of those narrow bounds, and spread its wings about the world. This manifestation of the gospel he declares, 1. from the subject, All nations. 2. From the principal efficient cause of it, The commandment and order of God. 3. The instrumental cause, The prophetic Scriptures. 4. From the end of it, The obedience of faith.
Observ. 1. The glorious attributes of God bear a comfortable respect to believers. Power and wisdom are here mentioned as two props of their faith; his power here includes his goodness. Power to help, without will to assist, is a dry chip. The apostle mentions not God’s power simply and absolutely considered, for that of itself is no more comfort to men, then it is to devils; but, as considered in the gospel covenant, his power, as well as his other perfections, are ingredients in that cordial of God’s being our God. We should never think of the excellencies of the Divine nature, without considering the duties they demand, and gathering the honey they present.
Observ. 2. The stability of a gracious soul depends upon the wisdom as well as the power of God. It would be a disrepute to the Almightiness of God if that should be totally vanquished which was introduced by his mighty arm, and rooted in the soul by an irresistible grace. It would speak a want of strength to maintain it, or a change of resolution, and so would be no honor to the wisdom of his first design. It is no part of the wisdom of an artificer, to let a work wherein he determined to shew the greatness of his skill, be dashed in pieces, when he hath power to preserve it. God designed every gracious soul for a piece of his workmanship (Eph. 2:10). What, to have the skill of his grace defeated? If any soul which he hath graciously conquered should be wrested from him, what could be thought but that his power is enfeebled? If deserted by him, what could be imagined, but that he repented of his labor, and altered his counsel, as if rashly undertaken? These Romans were rugged pieces, and lay in a filthy quarry, when God came first to smooth them; for so the apostle represents them with the rest of the heathen (Rom. 1:19); and would he throw them away, or leave them to the power of his enemy, after all his pains he had taken with them to fit them for his building? Did he not foresee the designs of Satan against them, what stratagems he would use to defeat his purposes and strip him of the honor of his work; and would God so gratify his enemy, and disgrace his own wisdom? The deserting of what hath been acted is a real repentance, and argues an imprudence in the first resolve and attempt. The gospel is called the manifold wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10); the fruit of it, in the heart of any person, which is a main design of it, hath a title to the same character; and shall this grace, which is the product of this gospel, and therefore the birth of manifold wisdom, be suppressed? It is at God’s hand we must seek our fixedness and establishment, and act faith upon these two attributes of God. Power is no ground to expect stability, without wisdom interesting the agent in it, and finding out and applying the means for it. Wisdom is naked without power to act, and power is useless without wisdom to direct. They are these two excellencies of the Deity the apostle here pitches the hope and faith of the converted Romans upon for their stability.
Observ. 3. Perseverance of believers in grace is a gospel doctrine. “According to my gospel,” my gospel ministerially, according to that gospel doctrine I have taught you in this epistle (for, as the prophets were comments upon the law, so are the epistles upon the gospel), this very doctrine he had discoursed of (Rom. 8:38, 39), where he tells them, that neither death nor life, the terrors of a cruel death, or the allurements of an honorable and pleasant life, nor principalities and powers, with all their subtelty and strength, nor the things we have before us, nor the promises of a future felicity, by either angels in heaven or devils in hell, not the highest angel, nor things we have before us, nor the promises of a future felicity, by either angels in heaven or devils in hell, not the highest angel, nor the deepest devil, is able to separate us, us Romans, “from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.” So that, according to my gospel, may be according to that declaration of the gospel, which I have made in this epistle, which doth not only promise the first creating grace, but the perfecting and crowning grace; for not only the being of grace, but the health, liveness, and perpetuity of grace is the fruit of the new covenant (Jer.32:40.)
Observ. 4. That the gospel is the sole means of a Christian’s establishment; “According to my gospel,” that is, by my gospel. The gospel is the instrumental cause of our spiritual life; it is the cause also of the continuance of it; it is the seed whereby we were born, and the milk whereby we are nourished (1 Pet. 1:23); it is the “power of God to salvation” (1 Pet. 2:2), and therefore to all the degrees of it (John 17:17); “Sanctify them by tby truth,” or through thy truth; by or through his truth he sanctifies us, and by the same truth he establisheth us. The first sanctification, and the progress of it, the first lineaments, and the last colors, are wrought by the gospel. The gospel, therefore, ought to be known, studied, and considered by us. It is the charter of our inheritance, and the security for our standing. The law acquaints us with our duty, but contributes nothing to our strength and settlement.
Observ. 5. The gospel is nothing else but the revelation of Christ (ver. 25); “According to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ;” the discovery of the mystery of redemption and salvation in and by him. It is genitivus objecti, that preaching wherein Christ is declared and set out, with the benefits accruing by him. This is the privilege, the wisdom of God reserved for the latter times, which the Old Testament church had only under a veil.
Observ. 6. It is a part of the excellency of the gospel that it had the Son of God for its publisher: “The preaching of Jesus Christ.” It was first preached to Adam, in Paradise, by God; and afterwards published by Christ in person, to the inhabitants of Judea. It was not the invention of man, but copied from the bosom of the Father by him that lay in his bosom. The gospel we have, is the same which our Saviour himself preached when he was in the world: he preached it not to the Romans, but the same gospel he preached is transmitted to the Romans. It, therefore, commands our respect; whoever slights it, it is as much as if he slighted Jesus Christ himself, were he in person to sound it from his own lips. The validity of a proclamation is derived from the authority of the prince that dictates it and orders it; yet the greater the person that publisheth it, the more dishonor is cast upon the authority of the prince that enjoins it, if it be contemned. The everlasting God ordained it, and the eternal Son published it.
Observ. 7. The gospel was of an eternal resolution, though of a temporary revelation (ver. 25); “According to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began.” It is an everlasting gospel; it was a promise “before the world began” (Titus 1:2.) It was not a new invention, but only kept secret among the arcana, in the breast of the Almighty. It was hidden from angels, for the depths of it are not yet fully made known to them; their desire to look into it, speaks yet a deficiency in their knowledge of it (1 Peter 1:12.) It was published in paradise, but in such words as Adam did not fully understand: it was both discovered and clouded in the smoke of sacrifices: it was wrapped up in a veil under the law, but not opened till the death of the Redeemer: it was then plainly said to the cities of Judah, “Behold! your God comes!” The whole transaction of it between the Father and the Son, which is the spirit of the gospel, was from eternity; the creation of the world was in order to the manifestation of it. Let us not, then, regard the gospel as a novelty; the consideration of it, as one of God’s cabinet rarities, should enhance our estimation of it. No traditions of men, no inventions of vain wits, that pretend to be wiser than God, should have the same credit with that which bears date from eternity.
Observ. 8. That divine truth is mysterious; “According to the revelation of the mystery, Christ manifested in the flesh.” The whole scheme of godliness is a mystery. No man or angel could imagine how two natures so distant as the Divine and human should be united; how the same person should be criminal and righteous; how a just God should have a satisfaction, and sinful man a justification; how the sin should be punished, and the sinner saved. None could imagine such a way of justification as the apostle in this epistle declares: it was a mystery when hid under the shadows of the law, and a mystery to the prophets when it sounded from their mouths; they searched it, without being able to comprehend it (1 Peter 1:10, 11.) If it be a mystery, it is humbly to be submitted to: mysteries surmount human reason. The study of the gospel must not be with a yawning and careless frame. Trades, you call mysteries, are not learned sleeping and nodding: diligence is required; we must be disciples at God’s feet. As it had God for the author, so we must have God for the teacher of it; the contrivance was his, and the illumination of our minds must be from him. As God only manifested the gospel, so he can only open our eyes to see the mysteries of Christ in it. In verse 26 we may observe,
1. The Scriptures of the Old Testament verify the substance of the New, and the New doth evidence the authority of the Old, by the Scriptures of the prophets made known. The Old Testament credits the New, and the New illustrates the Old. The New Testament is a comment upon the prophetic part of the Old. The Old shews the promises and predictions of God, and the New shews the performance. What was foretold in the Old, is fulfilled in the New; the predictions are cleared by the events. The predictions of the Old are divine, because they are above the reason of man to foreknow; none but an infinite knowledge could foretel them, because none but an infinite wisdom could order all things for the accomplishment of them. The Christian religion hath, then, the surest foundation, since the Scriptures of the prophets, wherein it is foretold, are of undoubted antiquity, and owned by the Jews and many heathens, which are and were the great enemies of Christ. The Old Testament is therefore to be read for the strengthening of our faith. Our blessed Saviour himself draws the streams of his doctrine from the Old Testament: he clears up the promise of eternal life, and the doctrine of the resurrection, from the words of the covenant, “I am the God of Abraham,” &c. (Matt. 22:32.) And our apostle clears up the doctrine of justification by faith from God’s covenant with Abraham (Rom. 4.) It must be read, and it must be read as it is writ: it was writ to a gospel end, it must be studied with a gospel spirit. The Old Testament was writ to give credit to the New, when it should be manifested in the world. It must be read by us to give strength to our faith, and establish us in the doctrine of Christianity. How many view it as a bare story, an almanack out of date, and regard it as a dry bone, without sucking from it the evangelical marrow! Christ is, in Genesis, Abraham’s seed; in David’s Psalms and the prophets, the Messiah and Redeemer of the world.
2. Observe, The antiquity of the gospel is made manifest by the Scriptures of the prophets. It was of as ancient a date as any prophecy: the first prophecy was nothing else but a gospel charter; it was not made at the incarnation of Christ, but made manifest. It then rose up to its meridian lustre, and sprung out of the clouds, wherewith it was before obscured. The gospel was preached to the ancients by the prophets, as well as to the Gentiles by the apostles (Heb. 4:2); “Unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them.” To them first, to us after; to them indeed more cloudy, to us more clear; but they as well as we, were evangelized, as the word signifies. The covenant of grace was the same in the writings of the prophets, and the declarations of the evangelists and apostles. Though by our Saviour’s incarnation, the gospel light was clearer, and, by his ascension, the effusions of the Spirit fuller and stronger; yet the believers under the Old Testament, saw Christ in the swaddling bands of legal ceremonies, and the lattice of prophetical writings; they could not else offer one sacrifice, or read one prophecy with a faith of the right stamp. Abraham’s justifying faith had Christ for its object, though it was not so explicit as ours, because the manifestation was not so clear as ours.
3. All truth is to be drawn from Scripture. The apostle refers them here to the gospel and the prophets: the Scripture is the source of divine knowledge; not the traditions of men, nor reason separate from Scripture. Whosoever brings another doctrine, coins another Christ; nothing is to be added to what is written, nothing detracted from it. He doth not send us for truth, to the puddles of human inventions, to the enthusiasms of our brain; not to the See of Rome, no, nor to the instructions of angels; but the writings of the prophets, as they clear up the declarations of the apostles. The church of Rome is not made here the standard of truth: but the Scriptures of the prophets are to be the touch-stone to the Romans, for the trial of the truth of the gospel.
4. How great is the goodness of God! The borders of grace are enlarged to the Gentiles, and not hid under the skirts of the Jews. He that was so long the God of the Jews, is now also manifest to be the God of the Gentiles: the gospel is now made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God. Not only in a way of common providence, but special grace; in calling them to the knowledge of himself, and a justification of them by faith, he hath brought strangers to him, to the adoption of children, and lodged them under the wings of the covenant, that were before alienated from him through the universal corruption of nature. Now he hath manifested himself a God of truth, mindful of his promise in blessing all nations in the seed of Abraham. The fury of devils, and the violence of men could not hinder the propagation of the gospel: its light hath been dispersed as far as that of the sun; and that grace that founded in the Gentile’s ears, hath bent many of their hearts to the obedience of it.
5. Observe that libertinism and licentiousness find no encouragement in the gospel. It was made known to all nations for the obedience of faith. The goodness of God is published, that our enmity to him may be parted with. Christ’s righteousness is not offered to us to be put on, that we may roll more warmly in our lusts. The doctrine of grace commands us to give up ourselves to Christ, to be accepted through him, and to be ruled by him. Obedience is due to God, as a sovereign lord in his law; and it is due out of gratitude, as he is a God of grace in the gospel. The discovery of a further perfection in God weakens not the right of another, nor the obligation of the duty the former attribute claims at our hands. The gospel frees us from the curse, but not from the duty and service: “We are delivered from the hands of our enemies, that we might serve God in holiness and righteousness” (Luke 1:74.) “This is the will of God” in the gospel, “even our sanctification.” When a prince strikes off a malefactor’s chains, though he deliver him from the punishment of his crime, he frees him not from the duty of a subject: his pardon adds a greater obligation than his protection did before, while he was loyal. Christ’s righteousness gives us a title to heaven; but there must be a holiness to give us a fitness for heaven.
6. Observe, that evangelical obedience, or the obedience of Faith, is only acceptable to God. Obedience of faith; genitivus speciei, noting the kind of obedience God requires; an obedience springing from faith, animated and influenced by faith. Not obedience of faith, as though faith were the rule, and the law were abrogated; but to the law as a rule, and from faith as a principle. There is no true obedience before faith (Heb. 11:6.) “Without faith it is impossible to please God;” and therefore without faith impossible to obey him. A good work cannot proceed from a defiled mind and conscience; and without faith every man’s mind is darkened, and his conscience polluted (Tit. 1:15.) Faith is the band of union to Christ, and obedience is the fruit of union; we cannot bring forth fruit without being branches (John 15:4, 5), and we cannot be branches without believing. Legitimate fruit follows upon marriage to Christ, not before it (Rom. 7:4.) “That you should be married to another, even to him that is raised from the dead, that you should bring forth fruit unto God.” All fruit before marriage is bastard; and bastards were excluded from the sanctuary. Our persons must be first accepted in Christ, before our services can be acceptable; those works are not acceptable where the person is not pardoned, Good works flow from a pure heart; but the heart cannot be pure before faith. All the good works reckoned up in the eleventh chapter of the Hebrews were from this spring; those heroes first believed and then obeyed. By faith Abel was righteous before God, without it his sacrifice had been no better than Cain’s: by faith Enoch pleased God, and had a divine testimony to his obedience before his translation; by faith Abraham offered up Isaac, without which he had been no better than a murderer. All obedience hath its root in faith, and is not done in our own strength, but in the strength and virtue of another, of Christ, whom God hath set forth as our head and root.
7. Observe, faith and obedience are distinct, though inseparable “The obedience of faith.” Faith, indeed, is obedience to a gospel command, which enjoins us to believe; but it is not all our obedience. Justification and sanctification are distinct acts of God; justification respects the person, sanctification the nature; justification is first in order of nature, and sanctification follows: they are distinct, but inseparable; every justified person hath a sanctified nature, and every sanctified nature supposeth a justified person. So faith and obedience are distinct: faith as the principle, obedience as the product; faith as the cause, obedience as the effect; the cause and the effect are not the same. By faith we own Christ as our Lord. by obedience we regulate ourselves according to his command.
The acceptance of the relation to him as a subject, precedes the performance of our duty: by faith we receive his law, and by obedience we fulfil it. Faith makes us God’s children (Gal. 3:26). Obedience manifests us to be Christ’s disciples (John 15:8). Faith is the touchstone of obedience; the touchstone, and that which is tried by it, are not the same. But though they are distinct, yet they are inseparable. Faith and obedience are joined together; obedience follows faith at the heels. Faith purifies the heart, and a pure heart cannot be without pure actions. Faith unites us to Christ, whereby we partake of his life; and a living branch cannot be without fruit in its season, and “much fruit” (John 15:5), and that naturally from a “newness of spirit” (Rom. 7:9); not constrained by the rigors of the law, but drawn forth from a sweetness of love; for faith works by love. The love of God is the strong motive, and love to God is the quickening principle; as there can be no obedience without faith, so no faith without obedience. After all this, the apostle ends with the celebration of the wisdom of God; “To God only wise, be glory, through Jesus Christ forever.” The rich discovery of the gospel cannot be thought of, by a gracious soul, without a return of praise to God, and admiration of his singular wisdom.
Wise God. His power before, and his wisdom here, are mentioned in conjunction (in which his goodness is included, as interested in his establishing power) as the ground of all the glory and praise God hath from his creatures.
Only wise. As Christ saith (Matt. 19:17), “None is good, but God;” so the apostle saith, None wise, but God. As all creatures are unclean in regard of his purity, so they are all fools in regard of his wisdom; yea, the glorious angels themselves (Job 4:18). Wisdom is the royalty of God; the proper dialect of all his ways and works. No creature can lay claim to it; he is so wise, that he is wisdom itself. Be glory, through Jesus Christ. As God is only known in and by Christ, so he must be only worshipped and celebrated in and through Christ. In him we must pray to him, and in him we must praise him. As all mercies flow from God through Christ to us, so all our duties are to be presented to God through Christ. In the Greek, verbatim, it runs thus: “To the alone wise God, through Jesus Christ, to him be glory forever.” But we must not understand it, as if God were wise by Jesus Christ, but that thanks is to be given to God through Christ; because in and by Christ God hath revealed his wisdom to the world. The Greek hath a repetition of the article ῷ, and expressed in the translation, “To him be glory.” Beza expungeth this article, but without reason, for ῷ is as much as ἀιῷ, “to him;” and joining this, “the only wise God” with ver. 25, “to him that is of power to establish you;” reading it thus, “To him that is of power to establish you, the only wise God,” leaving the rest in a parenthesis, it runs smoothly, “to him be glory, through Jesus Christ,” And Crellius, the Socinian, observes, that this article ῷ, which some leave out, might be industriously inserted by the apostle, to shew that the glory we ascribe to God is also given to Christ. We may observe, that neither in this place, nor any where in Scripture, is the Virgin Mary, or any of the saints, associated with God or Christ in the glory ascribed to them.
In the words there is, 1. An appropriation of wisdom to God, and a remotion of it from all creatures; “only wise God.” 2. A glorifying him for it. The point I shall insist upon is, That wisdom is a transcendant excellency of the Divine nature. We have before spoken of the knowledge of God, and the infiniteness of it; the next attribute is the wisdom of God. Most confound the knowledge and wisdom of God together; but there is a manifest distinction between them in our conception. I shall handle it thus: I. Shew what wisdom is. Then lay down, II. Some propositions about the wisdom of God. And shew, III. That God is wise, and only wise. IV. Wherein his wisdom appears. V. The Use.
The Existence and Attributes of God