9. Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children's children will I plead.
9. Propterea adhuc contendam (vel, disceptabo) vobiscum, dicit Jehovah; et cum filiis filiorum vestrorum disceptabo.
The particle vd oud, yet, or still, is not without weight; for the Prophet intimates, that if God had already punished the perfidy and wickedness of the people, he still retained whole his right to do so, as though he had said, |Think not that you have suffered all your punishment, though I have already severely visited your fathers for their wickedness and obstinacy; for as ye proceed in the same course, and as there is no moderation nor limits to your sins, I will not desist from what I have a right to do, but will punish to the last both you and your children, and all succeeding generations.| We now then understand what the Prophet means.
It is indeed usual with hypocrites foolishly to cast off all fear, especially after having been once chastised by the Lord; for they think it enough that they have suffered punishment for their sins; and they do not consider that God moderately punishes the sins of men to invite others to repentance, and that he is in such a way sharp and severe as yet to restrain himself, in order that there may be room for hope, and that they who have sinned, while waiting for pardon, may thus more readily and willingly return to the right way. This is what hypocrites do not consider; but they think that God on the first occasion expends all his rigor, and so they promise themselves impunity as to the future. As for instance, -- When God chastises a city, or a country, with war, pestilence, or famine, while the evils continue there is dread and anxiety: most of those whom God thus afflicts sigh and groan, and even howl; but as soon as some relaxation takes place, they shake off the yoke, and having no concern for their wickedness, they return again as dogs to their vomit. It is hence necessary to declare to hypocrites what we see to have been done here by Jeremiah, -- that God so visits men for their sins, that in future he ceases not to pursue the same course, when he sees men so refractory as not to profit under his scourges.
Still, therefore, he says: this threat no doubt exasperated the minds of the nation: for as they dared to clamor against God, as we find in many places, and said that his ways were thorny, they spared not the prophets, and this we shall hereafter see: they indeed gave the prophets an odious character; and what? |These prophets,| they said, |chatter nothing else but burdens, burdens, as though God ever fulminated against us; it would be better to close our ears than to be continually frightened by their words.| It must then have been a severe thing to the Jews, when the Prophet said, Still God will contend with you But it was needful so to do.
Let us then learn from this passage, that whenever God reproves us, not only in words, but in reality, and reminds us of our sins, we do not so suffer for one fault as to be free for the future, but that until we from the heart repent, he ever sounds in our ears these words, Still God will contend with you: and a real contention is meant; for Jeremiah speaks not of naked doctrine, but intimates that the Jews were to be led before God's tribunal, because they ceased not to provoke his wrath: and he declares the same thing respecting their children and the third generation. It afterwards follows --