10. For they prophesy a lie unto you, to remove you far from your land; and that I should drive you out, and ye should perish.
10. Quia mendacium ipsi prophetant vobis, ut procul abducant vos e terra vestra, et ejiciam vos, et pereatis.
This verse also confirms what I have said, -- that this discourse was designed for the Jews, and that it was peculiarly for them; for what is said here could not be applied to heathen nations. What then had been lately said of augurs, magicians, and diviners, ought no doubt to be understood of those impostors who, under the name of prophets, deceived that miserable people.
He says that they prophesied falsehood Many, no doubt, adduced, for the purpose of opposing him, their own evasions: |Art thou alone to be believed? dost thou alone tell the truth? how dost thou prove that what thou teachest is an oracle from heaven, and that these deceive us?| For so do the ungodly usually clamor, as we see to be the case at this day with the Papists, who cover themselves with a pretense of this kind: for whatever abomination there may be, they cover it over by means of this sophistry alone -- that the Scripture is obscure, and that controversy is uncertain, and that therefore nothing is to be believed but what the Church has decreed: so with them the definition of men, as they say, is the only rule of faith; and hence, also, the whole authority of Scripture is by them trodden under foot, as though God had in vain spoken by his own prophets and apostles. There is no doubt but the doctrine of Jeremiah was opposed by such clamors: he however persevered in the course of his office, and boldly condemned the prophets, that they only deceived the Jews by their lies.
He adds, that they may remove you far from your land I have said that this cannot be applied to other nations: but God gave a hope of mercy to his people, provided they willingly obeyed the king of Babylon. It was not indeed a full pardon; yet it was owing to his kindness that God did not treat the Jews with strict justice, but chastised them with gentleness and paternal moderation: for it was an endurable punishment, to remain in their own country and to pay tribute to the king of Babylon. God then would have mitigated the punishment of the people, if only they had willingly undertaken the yoke., This is what Jeremiah now says: |The false prophets seek only this, to drive you far from your country; for they would have you to think that you shall be free from all punishment: but God is prepared to deal gently with you; though he will not wholly pass by your vices, yet your chastisement will be one easily borne, for ye shall remain in your own country. But if ye will believe these impostors, they will lead you away into distant exile; for God says, I will cast you away, and ye shall perish.|
If it be objected again that the Jews could not form a certain opinion, whether Jeremiah was to be believed rather than the others who were many, the answer is at hand: they were themselves conscious of being wicked, and there was no need of long debates to ascertain what was true; for every one found God's judgment to be against himself, as they had departed from the pure worship of God, and had polluted themselves with many ungodly superstitions, and a license in all kinds of sins had also prevailed among them: they had been warned, not once, nor for one day, but by many prophets, and also continually and for a long time. As then they had thus provoked God's vengeance by their obstinate wickedness, how could they be in doubt respecting Jeremiah, whether he had, as from the mouth of God, and as a celestial herald declared to them what they deserved? And surely whenever men pretend that they have fallen through error or ignorance, they can always be deprived of this evasion; for their own conscience convicts them, and is sufficient to condemn them.
God adds, that the Jews would perish, except they anticipated extreme judgment, that is, except they submitted to paternal chastisement. This passage deserves to be specially noticed, as we shall presently see again; for we are here taught that whenever God shews some signs of displeasure, there is nothing better for us than to prepare ourselves for patience; for we shall thus ever give place and a free passage to his mercy: but by pertinacity we gain nothing, and do nothing but kindle his wrath more and more. This then is what Jeremiah means when he declares, that they who submitted not to the king of Babylon would perish. It follows --