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Commentary On Jeremiah And Lamentations Volume 3 by Jean Calvin

Lecture Ninety-Seventh

We began yesterday to explain the verse in which Jeremiah bids all nations to drink of the cup until they were drunken. Of the metaphor of the cup an explanation has already been given: the reason is, because God in his infinite wisdom knew what every one deserved, or how just it was to chastise at one time in a lighter, and at another time in a heavier degree. As then the measure is not the same, the similitude of a cup is most suitable. Further, God sometimes gives a cup to drink, that he who cannot bear a heavier punishment may only taste it. For we know that God deals more severely with the strong and the obstinate: but when any one is weak, he is treated more gently, and is made only to sip or to taste of the cup.

But the Prophet says here that they were to drink until they became drunken, according to what is said in another place, when the heathens are spoken of, |They shall even exhaust the yew dregs.| And God makes men drunken, as I have said before, even when he blinds them and gives them the spirit of giddiness or stupor. (Obadiah 26 [sic].) But the word drunkenness refers to external chastisements. Drink ye, then, and be drunken; that is, |think ye not that you have suffered all, when God begins to punish you and has given you one draught only; but the Lord will make you thoroughly drunken.| And hence he adds, Vomit ye and fall; for they who indulge in excess and fill themselves, so that they almost burst, must necessarily disgorge themselves. And vomiting disorders the brain, so that the feet can no longer perform their office, and no part of the body retains its power. The meaning then is, that as God had for a long time deferred his judgment, and all nations had hardened themselves when his long-suffering invited them to repentance, the most dreadful vengeance was now nigh them all, a vengeance which would compensate for the delay or the length of endurance.

Some interpreters hence conclude, that the punishment of all the nations of whom the Prophet now speaks, would be of no avail to them: but this seems not to me to be well founded. For he has spoken of the chosen people; and it is certain that some of them repented, however small the number was, and we shall also see that pardon and salvation are promised even to the heathens, after the execution of God's judgments. I therefore thus simply interpret these words, -- that they should not only taste of the cup, but also drink to excess, so as to become like drunken men, wholly stupified, because the heaviness of their punishment would deprive them of reason. In no way more solid is the reason given by Jerome, when he says that the Prophet's discourse refers to the reprobate, because he subjoins, And rise no more Jerome thought, that by this expression extreme despair is intimated. But the Prophet, in my judgment, meant nothing else than that God's vengeance on all the nations would be so great that vestiges of it would remain after a length of time; as the case is with a drunkard, who cannot get rid of the effects of his excess in a night or in a day, but he remains stupid for some time, or becomes frantic. This is what the Prophet means when he says, and they shall rise no more

It now follows, On account of the sword which I send among you. He now expresses without a figure what he had said of drunkenness and vomiting, even that so great a horror would seize their minds, that they would lie down wholly stupified. But God declares that he would send a sword against them, that the Jews might understand, as it has been already stated, that when all things would be in a state of almost entire confusion, yet God's judgment would be within the limits of moderation. It now follows --

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