28. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.
28. Propheta apud quem est somnium, narrabit somnium; et apud quem est sermo meus, narrabit sermonem meum veritatis: quid palae ad triticum, dicit Jehova?
We ought also to read this verse attentively, for doubtless it contains a doctrine especially useful. I have already said, that the faith of many might have failed at seeing a conflict in the Temple of God, not only among the common people, but also among the prophets of God. God did not appear from heaven, nor did he send his angels, but would have himself to be heard through men. They who came to the Temple expected the prophets to teach them. There the ministers of Satan appeared, who corrupted and perverted all things. There were a few, who sincerely declared the truth of God, and faithfully explained what God commanded. What could miserable men do in this case, who were willing to obey, and possessed a teachable spirit? Hence it was, that many threw aside every concern for religion, and gave themselves up to despair: |What means all this? why are there so many discords, so many disputes, so many contentions, so many invectives? Where can we now betake ourselves? It is better not to care for anything any more.| Thus many took occasion to indulge their indifference, choosing not to weary themselves any more, nor to seek what God was, what his will was, whether there was salvation for them, whether there was any hope, rather than to entangle themselves in troublesome and thorny disputes.
Such a temptation existed in the time of Jeremiah. He, therefore, applied in due time a suitable remedy and said, The Prophet, who has a dream, that is, with whom is a dream, he will relate a dream; and then, The Prophet with whom is my word, he will speak my word; as though God had said, that it was all extremely wicked thing to obstruct the way of truth by falsehood. But this is what usually happens, as I have already said; for where Satan has his agents, an obstacle seems to be in our way which prevents us to go on and proceed in the course of true religion. For when those who are right-minded, as we have said, see the prophets themselves contending, disputing, and quarrelling, they stand still, nay, they go backward. Now God shews that this is extremely unreasonable. Then the meaning is, as though he had said, |Let not the false prophets by Their fallacies impede the course of God's servants, that they may not proceed, and that his word should not be reverently heard.|
Unless we attend to this which the Prophet had in view, the passage will appear unmeaning. It has been often quoted, but this circumstance has not certainly been observed. We ought, therefore, ever to consider, why is a thing said. This verse depends on what is gone before; and God here answers a question, which might have been raised, -- |What then must we do, for falsehoods conflict with truth?| God answers, that his word ought not to be prejudiced by this circumstance; as though he had said, |Let nothing prevent my Prophets from teaching; I bid them to be heard.| We hence conclude, that those do wrong to God, who allege the controversies, by which religion is torn and as it were lacerated, and think that they thus obtain a license to indulge their impiety; for it is not a reason that can avail them, that Satan and his ministers labor to discredit the authority of God and of his servants. Though these false prophets insinuate themselves, though they may set up themselves against the true and faithful servants of God, yet let dreams, that is, prophetic revelations, retain their weight, and let him with whom is God's word, speak the word of God, so that it may be heard. This clause refers to the hearers; they were not to desist from rendering obedience to the Law, how much soever Satan might strive to subvert their faith by attempting to destroy its unity.
It afterwards follows, What is the chaff to the wheat? This addition was also wholly necessary, for many might have again objected and said, that they had no sufficient judgment to distinguish between the true and false prophets. God here gives the answer, that the difference between true and false doctrine was nothing less to him who made a careful examination than between wheat and chaff And by this comparison he shews how foolishly and absurdly many detract from the authority of the Law on this pretense, that there are many who falsely interpret it. For when any one rejects the wheat because it is covered with chaff, does he not deserve to perish through hunger? and who will pity him who says that he has indeed wheat on his floor, but that it is mixed with chaff, and therefore not fit for food? Why, then, thou silly man, dost not thou separate the chaff from the wheat? But thou choosest to perish through want, rather than to cleanse the wheat that thou mayest have it for thy food. So also in the Temple the wheat is often mixed with the chaff, the pure truth of God is often defiled with many glosses and vain figments; and yet, except it be our own fault, we shall be able to distinguish between the wheat and the chaff. But if we be negligent, and think that it is a sufficient excuse for despising the word of God, because Satan brings in his fallacies, we shall perish in our sloth like him who neglects to cleanse his wheat that he might turn it to bread. But the time will not allow me to say more.