WE began yesterday to explain the words of Nebuzaradan which he spoke before all the Jews. We have said that though he directed his words to Jeremiah, yet what he said referred to the whole people; for he spoke in praise of Jeremiah, and subscribed to his prophecies: he hence concluded that the people deserved their extreme punishment. He says that God had spoken, not that he had faith in the words of Jeremiah, but as far as he saw, that they were serviceable to his purpose. He-gladly laid hold on what he approved, as ungodly men do, who embrace what is useful for them in God's Law and the Prophets, though they do not regard them with much reverence; and yet they pretend a great concern for religion. Such was the case with Nebu-zaradan; when he had got the victory over the Jews, he boasted that he was the minister of God; Jehovah, he says, has spoken, as though he had said, that the Jews suffered such punishment as they deserved, because God had long before declared that he would punish them.
And then he adds, that God had done as he had spoken, because they had sinned and hearkened not to his voice He was nothing better; but as I have already said, he boldly reproved others. And this is a common thing with hypocrites and all despisers of God; they are judges in another's cause, but look not, as one has said, on the other side of the wallet. Thus all are keen and ready enough to condemn others; and of this we have an example here in Nebuzaradan, for, as though he was the lawful judge of the people, he declared that the destruction of the city and Temple had not happened by chance, but that it was a just punishment inflicted by God on the wicked, because they had obstinately rejected the prophetic doctrine, and had been intractable and disobedient.
Nor is there indeed a doubt, as we hinted yesterday, but that God, in order to expose the Jews to greater shame, raised up for them this prophet; for when Jeremiah addressed them, and that for their safety, while yet there was time to repent, they had perversely rejected that favor of God. They then deserved to be addressed with no benefit by a foreign teacher, who exulted over them, as this unbelieving heathen did in the present instance.
As to the option given to Jeremiah, we said yesterday that it was openly made in the presence of the Jews, in order that Nebuzaradan might wound them the more. But at the same time it was God's purpose to make the perseverance of his servant an example, as we shall hereafter see. Let us now proceed, --