41. Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.
41. Et laetabor super ipsos beneficiendo ipsis, et plantabo eos in terra hac, in veritate (id est, fideliter) in toto corde meo, et in tota anima men.
When God says that he would take pleasure in doing good to his people, he adopts the language of man, for fathers rejoice when they can do good to their children. God then, as the paternal love with which he regards his people could not have been otherwise expressed, made use of this similitude. Further, the contrast also ought to be noticed, even that God had rejoiced when he punished his people for their wickedness. For God delights in judgment as well as in mercy. God then for a time rejoiced when he punished the peopie; for as his judgment is right, he delights in it. But now he says that he would manifest his paternal affection, so as to take pleasure in doing them good.
He adds, I will plant them in this land He had indeed planted them, when, by Joshua, the possession of the land was given them, according to what is said in the 80th Psalm, where a similar expression is used, even that God had brought his vine out of Egypt, and planted it in the promised inheritance. (Psalm 80:8) But afterwards the people were plucked up by the roots. Hence the first possession of the land to the time of the exile was not, strictly speaking, a plantation, for the people did not then strike firm roots. God then promises here something new and unusual, when he speaks of a plantation. Nor is there a doubt but the perpetuity, of which mention has been made, is intended; for this plantation of the people depends on the covenant, and the covenant is not temporary as before the exile, but perpetual in its duration.
We now then understand what the Prophet means when he compares to a plantation the restoration of the people after their return from exile. We know, indeed, that the people from that time had not been banished, and that the Temple had ever stood, though the faithful had been pressed down with many troubles; but this was only a type of a plantation. We must therefore necessarily pass on to Christ, in order to have a complete fulfillment of this promise. The beginning, as we have said, and I am often compelled to repeat this, is to be taken from this return; but Christ is not to be excluded from that liberation which was like the morning star, before the sun of righteousness itself appeared in its own splendor. When Christians explain this passage and the like, they leave out the liberation of the people from Babylonish exile, as though these prophecies did not belong at all to that time; in this they are mistaken. And the Jews, who reject Christ, stop in that earthly deliverance. But the Prophets, as I have said, begin with the return of the people, but they set Christ also in the middle, that the faithful might know that that return was but a slight taste of the full grace, which was alone to be expected from Christ; for it was then, indeed, that God really planted his people.
Further, when the Jews were afterwards expelled from the land of Canaan, it was owing to their ingratitude; and it was a total abdication. In the meantime, however, God planted there his own vine until Jerusalem was extended and had its limits in the farthest parts of the earth: and we are said to be grafted in Christ and planted, when God adopts us into his Church; and hence that saying of Christ,
|Every tree which my Father hath not planted shall be rooted up.| (Matthew 15:13)
Let us then know that the Church was planted in Judea, for it remained to the time of Christ. And as Christ has pulled down the wall of partition, so that there is now no difference between Jews and Gentiles, God plants us now in the holy land, when he grafts us into the body of Christ.
He says, in truth, that is, faithfully, so as never to pull them up again. And he adds, with my whole heart and with my whole soul The words are indeed singular, for God transfers to himself the affections and feelings of men; but it is necessary that he should in a manner transform himself, that he may be understood by us; for unless he prattled, where would be found so much understanding as would reach the immense altitude of his wisdom? As then the mysteries with which he favors us are incomprehensible, it is necessary that he should accommodate himself to our limited capacities. By the whole heart, then, and the whole soul, he means that faithfulness and constancy which will ever endure until the faithful shall obtain eternal life. Integrity in man is called the whole heart, because there may be a double heart. It cannot, it is true, be for this reason applied to God or to his nature. But as I have already said, he says by a similitude that he would do this with the whole heart, because he will do it so perfectly that there will be nothing wanting to render salvation complete, and the same thing is also meant by truth; though some philosophize more refinedly as to this word, for by truth they understand the firmness or veracity of the promises, But we know that according to the usage of the Hebrew language, that truth means often what is solid and perpetual. He means then that the plantation would be so firm and solid, that there would be no danger that the people would ever be removed elsewhere, even because there would be a living root, as we have explained: the Church was fixed in Judea until the coming of Christ, who brought in the real accomplishment of this plantation; for when we are grafted into him, we already in a manner possess eternal life and are become the citizens of heaven.