6. Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the LORD.
6. Tu habitas in dolo (hoc est, inter homines dolosos; nam subaudiendum est nomen, quemadmodum soepe alibi vidimus genitivum casum poni pro epitheto, et subaudiri nomen substantivum; Tu igitur habitas inter homines dolosos;) in dolo renuunt cognoscere me, dicit Jehova.
The Prophet here introduces God as the speaker, that the Jews might know that they had not to do with mortal man. For they might, according to their usual perverseness, have raised this objection, |Thou indeed severely condemnest us, and treatest us reproachfully; but who has made thee our judge?| Lest then they should think that the words which he had hitherto declared, were the words of man, he interposes the authority of God, Thou, he says, dwellest in the midst of a deceitful people
But we must observe that this admonition to the Prophet was necessary for two reasons. For when God searches the minds and hearts of men by his word, ministers of the word are necessary to exercise this jurisdiction, men endued with wisdom, understanding, and prudence. The word, says the apostle, is like a two -- edged sword, or it is one that cuts on both sides, for it penetrates into the hearts and thoughts of man and into their very marrow. (Hebrews 4:12.) We also know what Paul says,
|When an unbeliever comes into your assembly, his conscience is searched; so that he will be constrained to fall down and to give glory to God.| (1 Corinthians 14:24, 25.)
To the same purpose is this saying of Christ,
|When the Spirit is come, He will judge the world,| (John 16:8)
for by the Spirit He means the preaching of the Gospel. It is then necessary that the ministers of the word, in order that they may faithfully and profitably perform their office, should be taught to understand the deceits and subterfuges by which men are wont to deceive. As then there are many hidden things in the hearts of men, he who would effectually teach must know that the innermost recesses of the heart must be probed and searched. The Prophet had heard from God that the people, over whom He was appointed, were fallacious and filled with guiles and frauds: Thou, He says, dwellest in the midst of a deceitful people; as though he had said, |Thou hast to do with dishonest men, who not only openly betray their wickedness, but also deceive when they pretend any repentance or profess obedience to God: that they may not therefore weaken or cajole thy resolution by their deceptions, settle it in thy mind that thou wilt have to contend with their wiles.| This is one reason.
There is another reason; for as God's servants ought to know their wiles, which they are bidden to reprove, so there is need of courage and perseverance, lest hypocrisy should dishearten them: for such a thought as this may occur to the minds of God's servants, |What shall I do? for hidden to me are the thoughts of men: now the truth ought to penetrate into the whole soul; but I know not what lies hid within in any one.| Thus pious teachers might be weakened in their efforts and disheartened, or wholly discouraged, unless God supported them. It was then for this reason that Jeremiah was expressly told, that He had to do with a deceitful and false people.
He afterwards adds, Through guile they refuse to know me God had before complained, that he was not known by the people; but he now exaggerates their crime by saying, that they craftily evaded every light, as though he had said, that they could not plead ignorance or any levity; for through guile, says God, they refuse to know me. As they wholly flattered themselves with deceptions, they designedly extinguished, as far as they could, the light. By guile then he means that obstinate craftiness by which the people cast aside every instruction. It afterwards follows --