We began in the last Lecture to explain the answer of Jeremiah, when he said to Hananiah, |May God confirm thy words, and may the vessels of the Temple be restored to this place and return together with the captive people.| We briefly stated what is now necessary again to repeat, that there were two feelings in the Prophets apparently contrary, and yet they were compatible with one another. Whatever God had commanded them they boldly declared, and thus they forgot their own nation when they announced anything of an adverse kind. Hence, when the Prophets threatened the people, and said that war or famine was near at hand, they doubtless were so endued with a heroic greatness of mind, that dismissing a regard for the people, they proceeded in the performance of their office; they thus strenuously executed whatever God had commanded them. But they did not wholly put off every humane feeling, but condoled with the miseries of the people; and though they denounced on them destruction, yet they could not but receive sorrow from their own prophecies. There was, therefore, no inconsistency in Jeremiah in wishing the restoration of the vessels of the Temple and the return of the exiles, while yet he ever continued in the same mind, as we shall hereafter see.
If any one objects and says that this could not have been the case, for then Jeremiah must have been a vain and false prophet; the answer to this is, that the prophets had no recourse to refined reasoning, when they were carried away by a vehement zeal; for we see that Moses wished to be blotted out of the book of life, and that Paul expressed a similar wish, even that he might be an anathema from Christ for his brethren. (Exodus 32:32; Romans 9:3.) Had any one distinctly asked Moses, Do you wish to perish and to be cut off from the hope of salvation? his answer, no doubt, would have been, that nothing was less in his mind than to cast away the immutable favor of God; but when his mind was wholly fixed on God's glory, which would have been exposed to all kinds of reproaches, had the people been destroyed in the Desert, and when he felt another thing, a solicitude for the salvation of his own nation, he was at the time forgetful of himself, and being carried away as it were beyond himself, he said, |Rather blot me out of the book of life,| and the ease of Paul was similar. And the same view we ought to take of Jeremiah, when he, in effect, said, I would I were a false prophet, and that thou hast predicted to the people what by the event may be found to be true.| But Jeremiah did not intend to take away even the least thing from God's word; he only expressed a wish, and surrendered to God the care for the other, the credit and the authority of his prophecy, he did not, then, engage for this, as though he ought to have made it good, if the event did not by chance correspond with his prophecy; but he left the care of this with God, and thus, without any difficulty, he prayed for the liberation and return of the people. But it now follows --