12. And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.
12. Et stabilivit sermonem suum, quem loquutus fuerat super nos, et super judices, ut adduceret super nos malum magnum quod non factum est sub toto coelo, sicut factum est in Jerusalem.
Daniel pursues the same sentiment, shewing how the Israelites had no cause whatever for expostulating with God on account of their being so heavily afflicted, and no reason for doubting either its origin or intention. For now all had come to pass exactly as it had been long ago predicted. God, therefore, has stirred up his word against us; as if he had said, there is no reason why we should strive with God, for we behold his truthfulness in the punishments which he has inflicted upon us, and his threats are no mere vain scarecrows, or fabulous inventions manufactured to frighten children. God now really proves how seriously he had spoken. What then is the use of our turning our backs upon him, or why should we seek vain excuses when God's truthfulness shines brightly in our destruction? Do we wish to deprive God of his truthfulness? surely whatever our earnestness we shall never succeed. Let, therefore, this suffice to condemn us, -- God has predicted everything which occurs, and thus effectually and experimentally proves himself an avenger. God, therefore, ratified his word; that is, God's word would have remained without the slightest efficacy and rigor, unless this curse had been suspended over our head; but while we lie prostrate and almost buried under our calamities, God's word is borne aloft; that is, God makes his truthfulness conspicuously visible, which otherwise would scarcely be perceptible at all. Unless God punished the wickedness of men, who would not treat the threatening of his law as childish? But when he demonstrates by certain proofs the very best reasons for terrifying mankind, efficacy and rigor are immediately imparted to his words. Besides this, Daniel here intends to cast off all subterfuges, and to cause the people candidly to acknowledge, and really to feel themselves justly afflicted. He says, against us and against our judges, who judged us. Again, Daniel throws down all haughtiness of the flesh, with the view of exalting God alone and of preventing any mortal splendor from obscuring the authority of the Law. For we know how the common people think they have a shield for the defense of all their crimes, when they can quote the example of kings and judges. At this very day, whenever we argue against the superstitions of the Papacy, they say, |Well! if we do make a mistake, yet God has set over us both kings and bishops who rule us after their manner, why then should we be blamed when we have God's command for following those who are endued with power and dignity?| As, therefore, the vulgar generally catch at a subterfuge like this, Daniel again affirms, that although those who transgress God's law are endowed with great worldly authority, yet they are not exempt from either blame or punishment, nor can the ordinary multitude be excused if they follow their example. Therefore, as he had spoken by Moses against our judges who judged us, he says; that is, although power had been conferred upon them for ruling us, yet the whole ordination of it is from God: yet after they had utterly abused their government, and violated God's justice, and thus had endeavored to draw down God, if possible, from his elevation, Daniel asserts that their loftiness will by no means shelter them from the consequences of transgression.
He afterwards adds, To bring upon us a great evil, which has never happened under the whole heavens, as it has now occurred at Jerusalem. Here Daniel foresaw an objection which had some slight force in it. Although God had deservedly punished the Israelites, yet when he displayed his anger against them more severely than against other nations, he might seem forgetful of his equity. Daniel here removes all appearance of incongruity, even if God is more severe against his elect people then against profane nations, because the impiety of this people was far greater than that of all others on account of their ingratitude, contumacy, and impracticable obstinacy, as we have already said. Since the Israelites surpassed all nations in malice, ingratitude, and all kinds of iniquity, Daniel here declares how thoroughly their disastrous afflictions were deserved. Again, we are here reminded, whenever God severely chastises his Church, of that principle to which we must return, namely, our impiety is the more detestable to God the nearer he approaches us; and the kinder he is to us, the more chargeable we are, unless in our turn we prove ourselves grateful and obedient. This state of things ought not to seem troublesome to us, as vengeance begins at the house of God, and he puts forth examples of his wrath against his own people far more tremendous than against others; this, I say, we ought not to take ill, as I have already explained the reason of it. It does not surprise us to find the Gentiles groping in darkness, but when God shines upon us and we resist him with determined willfulness, we are doubly impious. This comparison, therefore, must be noticed, as evil was poured out upon Jerusalem; meaning, no similar punishment was inflicted upon other nations, for what happened to Jerusalem, says Daniel, never occurred under the whole heaven. It follows, --