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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 2 by Jean Calvin

Jeremiah 18:11-12

11. Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.

11. Et nunc (agedum) dic ad virum Jehudah (hoc est, ad unumquemque,) et incolas Jerusalem, dicendo (alloquere omnes Judaeos et incolas Jerusalem,)sic dicit Jehova, Ecce ego fingo super vos malum, et cogito super vos eogitationem; revertimini igitur quisque a via sua mala, et rectas facite vias vestras et studia vestra.

12. And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.

12. Et dixerunt, Actum est; quia post cogitationes nostras ambulabimus, et quisque pravitatem cordis sui mali faciemus.

The Prophet is now bidden to turn his discourse to the Jews, that he might apply the doctrine of repentance, to which he had referred; for a doctrine generally stated, as it is well known, is less efflcient. He then contends here, as it were, in full force with his own nation: Say then to the Jews and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who indeed ought to have shewn the way to others, but were themselves the worst of all, return ye, he says, every one from his evil way. Here God shews, that what he had before stated generally, applied peculiarly to the Jews, -- that he is reconcilable when a sinner returns to him, and that they who disregard and despise his goodness cannot possibly escape unpunished.

Return ye, he says, every one from his evil way, and make right your ways; why so? For behold I frame for you an evil, and I think for you a thought; that is, |Vengeance is now prepared and is suspended over your heads, except ye turn in due time; but if ye truly and from the heart repent, I am ready to receive you.| We see how God includes the two things before referred to: He had previously said, |If I speak against a nation, and it turns from its sins, I immediately repent; but when I promise to be a father to a nation or a kingdom, I do not allow myself and my bounty to be despised, which men do when they reject what I offer.| But he now says, Behold, I think, etc.; this refers to the former clause, the threatenings; and then when he adds, Return ye, he promises pardon; for as it has been said elsewhere and often, there can be no exhortation to repentance without a hope of favor, as God cannot be feared, except there be propitiation with him, according to what is said in Psalm 130:4

God then shews in this verse, that he was ready to receive the Jews if they repented; but that if they continued perverse as they were wont to be, he would not suffer them to go unpunished, for he thought of evil for them. But this thought included the effect, the execution, as he was the potter, in whose hand and power they were.

Then the Prophet adds what shews how hopeless was the impiety of the people, for all his labor was in vain. It was indeed a monstrous stupidity, when they could not be terrified by God's threatenings not allured by his kind promises. But the Prophet meant also to shew, that God tried all means to restore the people from ruin to life and salvation, but that all means were tried in vain, owing to the irreclaimable character of the people. I cannot finish the subject to-day; I must therefore defer it till to-morrow.

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