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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Hosea 8:6

Commentary On Hosea by Jean Calvin

Hosea 8:6

6. For from Israel was it also: the workman made it; therefore it is not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces.

6. Quia ex Israele etiam (sic verto) artifex fecit eum, et non est Deus: quia in frusta (vel, fragmenta; contritiones alii verterent; alii, scintillas: sed clarus est sensus, si ita vertatur, in fragmenta) erit vitulus Samariae.

The beginning of this verse is not rightly explained, as I think, by those who so connect the pronoun demonstrative hv', eva, as if it had an interposed copulative; and this ought to be noticed, for it gives a great emphasis to the Prophet's words. Even this is from Israel But what does the Prophet mean? He means this, that the calf was from Israel, as they had long before, at the beginning, formed to themselves a calf in the desert. But we do not yet clearly apprehend the mind of the Prophet, unless we perceive that there is here an implied comparison. For he accuses the Israelites of being the first founders of this superstition, and that they had not been, as it were, deceived by others; for they had not borrowed this corruption from the Gentiles, as it had been at times the case; but it was, so to speak, an intrinsic invention. From Israel, he says, it is; that is, |I find that you are now the second time the fabricators of this impious superstition. Could your fathers, when they forged a calf for themselves in the desert, make excuse (as they did) and say, that they were led by the faith of others? Could they plead that this cause of offence was presented to them by the Gentiles, and that they were ensnared, as it often happens, when some draw others into error? By no means. As then your fathers, when no one tempted them to superstition, became the founders of this new superstition through their own inclination, and, as it were through the instigation of the devil, so this calf is the second time from Israel, for ye cannot otherwise account for its origin, ye cannot transfer the fault to other nations; within, within,| he says, |has this evil been generated.| We now perceive the meaning of the Prophet, which is, that this superstition was not derived from others, but that Israel, under the influence of no evil persuader, had devised for themselves, of their own accord, this corruption, through which they had departed from the true and pure worship of God. It ia indeed true, that oxen and calves were worshipped in Egypt, and the same also might be said of other nations; but rivalship did not influence the people of Israel. What then? It cannot certainly be denied, but that they had stimulated themselves to this impious denial of God.

The same thing may be brought against the Papists of this day; that is, that the filthy mass of superstitions, by which the whole worship of God is corrupted by them, has been produced by themselves. If they object and say, that they have borrowed many rites from the heathens: this is indeed true; but was it the imitation of heathens which led them to these wicked inventions? By no means, but their own lust has led them astray; for being not content with the simple word of God, they have devised for themselves strange and spurious modes of worship; and afterwards additions were made according to the caprices of individuals: thus it has happened, that they are sunk in the deepest gulf. Whence then have the Papists so many patrons, on whom relying, then despise Christ the Mediator? Even because they have adopted them for themselves. Whence also have they so many ungodly ceremonies, by which they pervert the worship of God? Even because they have fabricated them for themselves.

We now then see how grievous was the accusation, that the calf was even from Israel. |There is no reason then|, the Lord says, |for you to say that you have been deceived by bad examples, like those who are mixed with profane heathens and contract their vices, as contagion creeps in easily among men, for they are by nature prone to vice; there is no reason,| he says, |for any one to make an objection of this kind.| Why? |Because the calf your fathers made for themselves in the desert was from Israel; and this calf also is from Israel, for it was not thrust upon you by others, but Jeroboam, your king, made it for you, and you willingly and applaudingly received it.|

The workman, he says, made it, and it is not God Here the Prophet derides the stupidity oú the people; and there are many other like places, which occur everywhere, especially in the Prophets, in which God reprobates this madness of having recourse to modes of worship so absurd. For what is more contrary to reason than for man to prostrate himself before a dead piece of wood or before a atone, and to seek salvation from it? The unbelieving indeed put on their guises and say that they seek God in heaven, and, because idols and images are types of God, that they come to him through them; but yet what they do appears evident. These pretencea are then altogether vain, for their stupidity is openly seen, when they thus bend their knees before a wood or stone. Hence the Prophet here inveighs against this senseless stupidity, because man had made the idol. |Can a mortal man make a god? Ye do certainly ascribe divinity to the calf; is this in the power of the workman? Man has not bestowed life on himself, and cannot for one moment preserve that life which he has obtained at the pleasure of another; how then can he make a god from wood or stone? What sort of madness is this?|

He then adds, It is not God, for in fragments shall be the calf of Samaria The Prophet shows here from the event, how there was no power or no divinity in the calf, because it was to be reduced to fragments. The event then would at length show how madly the Israelites played the fool, when they formed to themselves a calf, to be as it were the symbol of the divine presence. We now see what the Prophet means: for he enhances the sin of Israel, because they had not been enticed by others to depart from the pure and genuine worship of God, but they had been their own deceivers. This is the meaning. It follows --

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