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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 2 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 17:24-25

24. And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the LORD, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein;

24. Et erit, si audiendo audieritis me, dicit Jehova, ne efferatis onus per portas urbis hujus die Sabbathi, et ad sanctificandum diem (hoc est, si sanctificatis diem,) non agendo in eo quicquam operis;

25. Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain for ever.

25. Tunc (copula enim hic accipitur pro adverbio temporis) ingredientur per portas urbis hujus Reges et principes, sedentes super solium Davidis, vecti curru et equis, ipsi et proceres eorum, vir Jehudah, et incolae Jerusalem, et habitabitur urbs haec in perpetuum.

Jeremiah introduced, as I have said, a condemnation as to the fathers, that he might make the Jews of his age ashamed of themselves, lest they shouhl imitate the example of those whom they saw to have been disobedient to God. He yet shews, that God would be reconciled to them, provided they from the heart repented; as though he had said, -- |Your fathers indeed provoked, for many years, and even for ages, the vengeance of God; but as he is ever inclined to mercy, he is ready to forgive you, if only you cease to follow your fathers and return to him.| In short, he promises them pardon for the time past, if they turned to God.

If by hearing ye will hear, he says, so as to carry no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath-day, and to sanctify (this is connected with |hear|) the sabbath-day, so that ye do no work on it; then shall enter through the gates of this city kings and princes, etc. He first promises them a perpetuity as to the kingdom; and it was the chief happiness of the people to have a king from the posterity of David; for thus they saw as it were with their eyes the favor of God present, with them, inasmuch as David and his posterity were visible pledges of God's favor. And we must remember also, that that kingdom was a type of a better kingdom, which had not yet been plainly discovered. Hence in the posterity of David the Jews beheld Christ, until he was manifested. For this reason I said, that they were miserable without a king, and that the perpetuity of the kingdom was a main part, of their happiness. This is the reason why Jeremiah now sets before them, as a singular benefit, the continuance of David's kingdom among them, provided they observed the sabbath-day: and thus God did not only strictly demand what he had a ritht to do, but also allured them by the sweetness of his promise, according to his usual manner. He may indeed in one word command what he pleases; but when he invites us by promises, he has a regard to our infirmity.

But it may be here asked, Was the rest on the seventh day of such a moment, that God should on that account promise to them the perpetuity of the kingdom? The answer has been already given, that is, that the end, which was spiritual, was connected with the outward rite; for God commanded the people to keep holy this day, that they might have a manifest symbol:, as it has been said, of their own sanctification. When therefore the Prophet thus speaks, If ye carry no burden through the gates of this city, that is, If ye observe the sabbath-day, the perpetuity of the kingdom shall be secured to you, -- when he thus speaks, he had doubtless, as I have said, a regard to a true observance of the day, which consists not in the naked rite, but included something greater and more excellent, even that they might learn by self-denial to render themselves up to God to be ruled by him; for God will not work in us, unless we first renounce our own reason and the thoughts and feelings of our flesh. In the observance of the Sabbath, therefore, is briefly included the whole of religion: hence he says, Enter in shall kings and princes, sitting on the throne of David.

Noticed also ought to be the state of things at that time: It was a time when the country was nearly in ruins and the kingdom greatly weakened, so that the kings and the whole people were daily exposed to danger. When therefore there were hardly any means to defend the city and to support the kingdom, Jeremiah promised it, as a special favor from God, that the kings and the Princes would be rendered secure. From the family of David, as it is well known, were descended the royal counsellors; and hence he says of the counsellors as well as of the king, that they would sit on the throne of David: and he further says, They shall ride in a chariot and on horses, they the kings and their princes; and he adds, the men of Judah, etc. He extends the promise to the whole body of the people; after having spoken of the chief men, he then adds, that the whole community would be partakers of this blessing and favor of God; for the kingdom was formed, that the whole people might know that they were under God's care and protection. It was not then without reason that Jeremiah states here that this blessing would be conferred in common on the whole people.

And inhabited, he says, shall be the city perpetually. For the same reason he also adds this; for Jerusalem was then in great danger; nay, there were new terrors daily, and there was a horrible desolation in every part, for the whole country had been visited with many calamities. Jeremiah therefore promised now what in a manner seemed incredible, that is, that the city would be made safe, if they truly and faithfully worshipped God, and testified that by observing the Sabbath. The meaning is, that it would be their own fault, if they found not the aid of God sufficient for them, that even if they were besieged by enemies, yet God would be a sure protector of their safety, provided they became his true and faithful servants. He afterwards adds --

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