IN yesterday's lecture, God complained that he had spent labor in vain in chastising the children of Israel; for they were of a nature utterly untamable and refractory, incapable of being improved. Hence he says, |I have in vain endeavored by punishments to bring you back to the right way.| But he now exaggerates their crime of obduracy, as they not only had rejected wholesome instruction, but had also shed innocent blood, and persecuted as their enemies the prophets who had been sent to them from above, in order to promote their wellbeing. God then condemns them here not only for perverseness, but also for cruelty; for he says, that he had not gained his object in leading them to repentance, and also, that they had not only been refractory and incorrigible, but that they had besides cruelly raged against the prophets: and Jerusalem, we know, had been a slaughter -- house where many of the prophets had been killed.
Some explain the passage of false teachers, as though the Prophet had said, that it was to be ascribed to the wickedness of the people, that prophets, who were false and mendacious, suffered just punishment; and they lay hold on one word, even because they are called their prophets. Hence Jerome says, that they were said to be your, and not my prophets; as though God thus denied that he had given them any commission. But this view is forced and strained.
We must, then, understand the meaning to be what I have stated, -- that when God used means to heal the vices of the people, the very prophets, the ministers of salvation, were cruelly slain by the people. And this exposition best suits the expressions which follow, as a devouring lion For God says, that the Jews raged against the prophets, as though they had entered a forest full of lions. It now follows --