1. Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people: for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God, thou hast loved a reward upon every cornfloor.
1. Ne laeteris Israel super exultatione sicuti populi, quia scortata es a Deo tuo: dilexisti mercedem super omnes areas tritici.
It is not known at what time the Prophet delivered this discourse, but it is enough to know that it is directed against the obstinate wickedness of the people, because they could by no means be turned to repentance, though their defection was, at the same time, manifest. He now declares that God was so angry, that no success could be hoped for. And this warning ought to be carefully noticed; for we see that hypocrites as long as God spares or indulges them, take occasion to be secure: they think that they have sure peace with God, when he bears with them even for a short time; and further, except the drawn sword appears, they are never afraid. Since, then, men sleep so securely in their vices, especially when the Lord treats them with forbearance and kindness, the Prophet here declares, that the Israelites had no reason to rejoice for their prosperity, or to flatter themselves under this cover, that the Lord had not immediately taken vengeance on them; for he says, that though all people under heaven were prosperous, yet Israel would be miserable, because he had committed fornication against his God.
We now perceive the meaning of the Prophet. Israel, he says, rejoice not thou with exultations like the people; that is, |Whatever prosperity may happen to thee, though God may seem propitious by not afflicting thee, but kindly bearing with thee, -- nay, though he may bountifully nourish thee, and may seem to give thee many proofs of paternal favor, yet there is no reason for thee to felicitate thyself, for vain will be this joy, because an unhappy end awaits thee.| Thou hast committed fornication, he says, against thy God This warning was very necessary. This vice, we know, has ever prevailed among men, that they are blind to their sins as long as the Lord spares them; and experience, at the present day, most fully proves, that the same disease still cleaves to our marrow. As it is so, let this passage of the Prophet awaken us, so that we may not rejoice, though great prosperity may smile on us; but let us rather inquire, whether God has a just cause of anger against us. Though he may not openly put forth his hand, though he may not pursue us, we ought yet to anticipate his wrath; for it is the proper office of faith, not only to find out from present punishment that God is angry, but also to fear, on account of any prevailing vices, the punishment that is far distant. Let us then learn to examine ourselves, and to make a severe scrutiny, even when the Lord conceals his displeasure, and visits us not for our sins. If, then, we have committed fornication against God, all our prosperity ought to be suspected by us; for this contempt, in abusing God's blessings, will have to be dearly bought by us.
The comparison here made is also of great weight. As other people, says the Prophet. He means, that though God might pardon heathen nations, yet he would punish Israel, for less excusable was his apostasy and rebellion in having committed fornication against his God. That other nations wandered in their errors, was no wonder; but that Israel should have thus cast off the yoke, and then denied his God, that he should have broken and violated the fidelity of sacred marriage, -- all this was quite monstrous. It is then no wonder that God here declares, by the mouth of his Prophet, that though he spared other people, he would yet inflict just punishment on Israel.
He then adds, Thou hast loved a reward upon every cornfloor He pursues the same metaphor, that Israel had committed fornication like an unchaste and perfidious woman. Hence he says, that they were like harlots, who are so enticed by gain, that they are not ashamed of their lewdness. He said yesterday, that the people had hired lovers; but now he says, that they were led astray by the hope of reward. These things are apparently contradictory; but their different aspect is to be noticed. Israel hired for himself lovers, when he purchased, with a large sum of money, a confederacy with the Assyrians; but, at the same time, when he worshipped false gods with the hope of gain, he was like strumpets, who prostitute their body to all kinds of filthiness, when any rewards entice them.
But a question may be here moved, Why does the Prophet say that the reward is meretricious, when a plenty of corn is sought for? for he reproaches the Israelites for no other thing, but that they wished their floors to be filled with wheat. This seems not indeed to be in itself worthy of reproof, for who of us does not desire a fruitful increase of corn and wine? Nay, since the Lord, among other blessings, promises to give abundance of provision, it is certainly lawful to ask by supplications and prayers what he promises. But the Prophet calls it a wicked reward, when what God has promised to give is sought from idols. When therefore we depart from the one true God, and devise for ourselves new gods to nourish us and supply our food and raiment, we are like strumpets, who choose by lewdness to gain support, rather than to receive it from their own husbands. This is then to be like a woman whom her husband treats bountifully, and she casts her eyes on others, and seeks a filthy reward from adulterers. Such are idolaters. For God offers himself freely to us, and testifies that he will perform the part of a father and preserver; but the greater part, despising the blessing of God, flee elsewhere, and invent for themselves false gods, as we see to be done under the Papacy: for who are the patrons (nutricios -- nourishers) they implore, when either drought or any other adverse season threatens sterility and want? They have an innumerable multitude of gods to whom they flee. They are then strumpets who hunt for gain from adulterers; while, at the same time, God freely promises to be a husband to them, and to take care that nothing should be wanting. Since, then, they are not satisfied with the blessing of God alone, it is a meretricious lust, which is insatiable, and in itself filthy and disgraceful.
We now then see what the Prophet repudiates in the people of Israel, and that is, They hoped for a larger abundance of corn from their idols than from the true God, as was the case with the idolaters mentioned by Jeremiah,
when we served,' they said, the queen of heaven, we abounded in wine and corn,' (Jeremiah 44:17.)
They compared God with idols, and denied that they were so well and so sumptuously provided for when they worshipped God alone. Since, then, idolaters give honour to fictitious gods, so as to think them to be more liberal to them than the true God, this is the reason that the Prophet now so severely blames Israel, when he says that they loved a meretricious reward on all the floors of wheat. It then follows --