2. Thou hast planted them, yea, they have taken root: they grow, yea, they bring forth fruit: thou art near in their mouth,and far from their reins.
2. Plantasti eos, etiam radieem egerunt; prodierunt, etiam fecerunt frueturn (produxerunt fructum:) prope es in ore ipsorum, et procul es a renibus ipsorum (hoc est, ab intimo affectu, renes enim alibi dixinms accipi pro affectibus arcanis)
When the happiness of the wicked disturbs our minds, two false thoughts occur to us, -- either that this world is ruled by chance and not governed by God's providence, or that God does not perform the office of a good and righteous judge when he suffers light to be so blended with darkness. But the Prophet here takes it as granted, that the world is governed by God's providence; he therefore does not touch the false notion, which yet harasses pious minds, that fortune governs the world. Well known are these words, |I am disposed to think that there are no gods.| It was thought there were no gods who ruled the world, because he died who deserved a longer life. And the wisest heathens have thus spoken, |I see fortune, which yet no reason governs; I see fortune, which prevails more than reason in these matters.| But the Prophet, who was far removed from these profane notions, held this truth, that the world is governed by God; and he now asks, How it was that God exercised so long a forbearance? The ungodly, the thoughtless, and inconsiderate might have said that this forbearance was far too scanty. But the Prophet, as I have said, clearly describes what the Jews deserved.
Then he says, that they had been planted by God; for they could not have prospered had not God blessed them. The metaphor of planting, as we have before seen, often occurs, but in a different sense. When the celestial life is the subject, God is said to have planted his own elect, because their salvation is sure. He is said also to have planted his people in the land which he had given to them as an heritage. Now, when he speaks of the reprobate, the Prophet says that they had been planted by God, and for these reasons, because they flourished, because they produced leaves, and because they brought forth some fruit. In short, as Scripture, for various reasons, compares men to trees, so it employs the word planting in a corresponding sense. The Prophet indeed says that the ungodly are supported by God, and this is certain; for were not God to deal kindly with them for a time, they could not but instantly perish. Hence their prosperity is a proof of God's indulgence. But the Prophet expresses his wonder at this, not so much through his own private feeling, as for the purpose of shewing to the Jews that it was a strange thing that they were tolerated so long by God, as they had a hundred times deserved to be wholly destroyed.
Yea, he says, they have taken root By this metaphor he means their continued happiness. He says also, that they had advanced aloft; that is, were raised high and increased. He then adds, that they had brought forth fruit The fruit of which he speaks was nothing else than their offspring; as though he had said, that the ungodly were not only prosperous to the end of life, but that they also propagated their kind, so that they had children surviving them, so that their families became celebrated. But the import of the whole is this, -- that God not only endured the ungodly for a time, but extended his indulgence to many ages, so that their descendants continued in the same wealth, dignity, and power, with their dead fathers.
He afterwards adds, Thou indeed art nigh in their mouth, but thou art far from their reins Jeremiah no doubt intended to anticipate them; for he knew that the Jews would have objections in readiness, -- |What art thou, who summonest us here before God's tribunal, and who pleadest with God that he may not too patiently bear with us? Are not we his servants? Do we not daily offer sacrifices in the Temple? Are we not circumcised? Do we not bear in our bodies the sign of our adoption? Do we not possess a kingdom and a priesthood? Now, these are pledges of God's paternal love towards us, But thou wouldest have thyself to be more just than God himself. Can God deny himself? He has bound his faithfulness to us by the sign of circumcision, by the Temple, by the kingdom, by the priesthood, and by the sacrifices; and when we do anything amiss, then our sins are expiated by sacrifices and washings, and other rites.|
As then the Prophet knew that the Jews were wont thus loquaciously and perversely to defend their own cause, he says, |O, I see what they will say to me, even that which they are wont to say; for the common burden of their song is, that they are the children of Abraham, that they sacrifice, and have other ways of pacifying God, and then that they possess a priesthood and a kingdom. These things,| he says, |are well known to me: but, O Lord, thou knowest that they are mere words; thou knowest that they act fallaciously, and that they do nothing but declare what is false when they pretend these vain shifts and evasions; for thou knowest the heart, (kardiognostes;) thou therefore understandest that there is nothing right or sincere in their mouth; for their reins are far from thee, and thou also art far from their reins.| We hence also perceive with more certainty the truth of what I have stated, -- that the Prophet here pleads with God, in order that the Jews might know that they could in no way be absolved when they came before God's tribunal. It, follows --