6. I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle.
6. Attendi et audivi, non loquentur recte; nemo est quem poeniteat (ad verbum, non vir poenitens super malo suo; sed sensus clarior est, nemo est quem poeniteat) malitiae suae, dicendo, Quid feci? omnis vertitur (ad verbum pro omnes vertuntur) ad cursos suos, sicut equus ruit (ad verbum, inundat; sed metaphorica est locutio; Sicut ergo equus praeceps ruit) in praelium.
These words may be considered as spoken by God himself, -- that he from heaven examined the state of the people; but it is more suitable to regard them as spoken by the Prophet; for he was placed, as it were, in a watch -- tower in order to observe how the people acted towards God. He now testifies, that having seen their pursuits and their doings, he saw nothing that was right. The people ought to have been more touched by these words. We indeed know how ready we are naturally to lay hold on any pretences, when we wish to continue quiet in our dregs. So the greater part are wont to object and say, |O, indeed, thou reprovest me, but inconsiderately; for thou knowest not what is in my heart.| Hence the Prophet says, that he had carefully examined what sort of people they were, and that he spoke of what was well known to him, and fully seen by him, --
I have heard, he says, and attended; but they speak not rightly He means, that so far were the Jews from repenting truly and sincerely, that they did not even with their mouths profess to do so. It is less to confess sins than really to amend; but the Prophet says, that they did not even say what was right. It hence follows, that they were very far from having any serious thoughts of repentance, since they were so wanton with their tongues, or at least afforded no evidence of sorrow.
He then adds, that there was no one who repented, saying, etc. This clause is explanatory, for Jeremiah proves here more clearly that they did not speak rightly, for they did not say, What have I done? But he says first, that there was no one who repented of his wickedness He afterwards shews, that what is first necessary for repentance is, that the sinner should call himself to an account; for as long as we rest secure in our sins, it is impossible for us to repent, It is hence necessary that every one should examine himself, so as to call himself to an account, and in a manner to summon himself before God's tribunal. We then see that men can never be brought to repentance, except they set their own evils before their eyes, so as to feel ashamed, and to ask themselves, as it were in great fear, What have we done? for this question is an evidence of terror. Many, we know, formally own their sins; but this is useless, for afterwards such an acknowledgement vanishes without producing any benefit. Then real repentance necessarily requires that the sinner should not only be displeased with himself, should not only be ashamed, but that he should also be filled with terror at his own sins; for this is what is meant by the inquiry, What have I done? for it implies astonishment.
We now perceive the meaning of the Prophet's words: he says, that he did not inconsiderately reprove the people, but that he found such perversity in them that no one spoke rightly, that no one repented, because they did not consider what they were, nor examined their own lives, but slept securely in their sins.
He pursues the same subject when he says, that all turned to their own courses, that is, to their own lusts. But by the word |courses| the Prophet means impetuous movements; as though he had said, that the Jews were so precipitant in following their lusts, that they in a manner ran headlong after them; and he compares them to horses rushing into battle. We know with what impetuosity horses advance when they hasten to battle; for they seem to fly, to cut the air, and to dig the ground with their hoofs. Thus the comparison is exceedingly suitable, when the Prophet says that the Jews were so impetuous in pursuing their lusts, that they rushed on, not less precipitantly than war -- horses when advancing to battle. It now follows --