14. Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.
14. Et dixit Jehova mihi, Mendacium prophetae prophetant in nomine meo; non misi eos, et non praecepi illis, et non loquutus sum cum illis: visionem mendacii (hoc est, mendacem) et divinationem et vanitatem (vel, rem nihili) et fraudem cordis sui ipsi prophetant vobis.
We now see more clearly why the Prophet related his own complaint, and also his astonishment, of which God alone had been the witness, and that was, that the people might be more attentive to his warning. For had he only said, |The prophets deceive you, and God would have this to be made known to you,| his address would not have been so powerful, as when this question precedes, |Lord God, what is this? the prophets promise peace to this people, and forbid them to fear pestilence and war.| As then the Prophet had set forth this according to his own view and the common view of the whole people, the answer, as I have said, becomes more forcible, and more easily penetrates into the mind. God then gives this answer, Falsehood do the prophets prophesy in my name
In my name, is emphatical; for God reminds us, that we ought to beware of every appearance of falsehood, that we ought not easily and rashly, and without discrimination, to believe all prophecies; for not everything boasted of as being divine is really so. We then see that this is a remarkable passage; for God reminds us, that we ought to exercise judgment as to prophecies, so that we may not be inconsiderately led away by anything brought forward under the pretext of his name. He would have us therefore wisely to distinguish between things; and hence I have said that this passage deserves to be specially noticed the Papists at this day vainly boast of their titles, and say that they are the real Church, that they are the pastors, and that the Church of God is the pinar of the truth; and thus they astonish and confound the simple, so that every discrimination is taken away, and whatever it pleases them to determine is to be received as an oracle. But God shews here, by the mouth of Jeremiah, that we are not rashly to believe every kind of prophecy. In my name, he says, the prophets prophesy, as though he had said, |My name is often impiously profaned by men. As then there are many who pass themselves as my servants and prophets, and who also occupy a place of dignity and exercise the ordinary office, yea, as there is such depravity in men, that they are not ashamed to abuse my name, wisdom and discretion ought to be exercised.| This is the first thing; for God intimates, that it is not enough for men to claim the prophetic office, except they also prove that they are true and faithful prophets.
He afterwards adds, I have not sent them, nor have I commanded them, neither have I spoken to them; a vision of falsehood, etc He here takes away authority from the false prophets; for he had not sent them, nor commanded them to speak, nor spoken to them. The latter clause is more general than the rest: but these three things ought to be carefully noticed, for they serve to distinguish true from false prophets. It was then God's purpose to mention here certain marks by which the difference between true and false prophets may be known.
He says first, that they were not sent, for they obtruded themselves. Hence a call is necessary, for God would not have disorder and confusion in his ChurJeremiah It is indeed true that the call of Jeremiah was extraordinary; for when the state of the Church was rightly formed, the chief priest was the teacher of religion and true doctrine, who was now the adversary of God's faithful servant. There were indeed some, like Amos, who were taken from the common people; yet there were none more fit for the prophetic office than the priests, for they were, as Malachi says, the messengers of the God of hosts. (Malachi 2:4, 7) But when they became degenerate, God, in order to reproach them, raised up other prophets from obscure vinages and from the common people. It was then sometimes an interior call only; but when the Church was duly formed, a regular outward call was also necessary. However this may have been, it is certain that such as were not called by God, falsely and wickedly pretended to have his authority, being both without the outward call and without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is the first thing.
It then follows, I have not commanded them Here is the second mark of distinction; for God testifies that no credit is due to the prophets, except as far as they faithfully deliver, as it were from hand to hand, what has been committed to them. If then a prophet mingles anything of his own, he is proved to be false and is not worthy of any credit. Let us hence know, that prophets are not endued with any other power, but to deliver faithfully what has been committed to them from above.
But the third mark, which is added, is still more clear: God says, that he had not spoken to them; for he thus intimates that no voice but his ought to be heard in the ChurJeremiah Why then does he bid honor and reverence to be payed to his prophets? Even because they bring nothing but what he has delivered. We hence see how God allows men no power of their own to rule in his Church; but he will have obedience to be rendered to himself, so that their duty is faithfully to declare what he has committed to them. Therefore as to the command, it refers to what was particular; but when he says, I have not spoken to them, what was general is intended; it is the same as though he had said, that it was not lawful nor right for prophets and teachers to bring forward anything but what they had received from heaven.
Hence he concludes, that they spoke falsehood and impostures, and divination and vanity, and the deceit of their own heart. We hence see that as soon as men depart even in the smallest degree from God's word, they cannot preach anything but falsehoods, wmities, impostures, errors, and deceits: and all who thoughtlessly give credit to men, without considering whether they have been sent by God, and faithfully deliver what he has committed to them, wilfully perish. But on this subject more shall be said.