21. For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.
21. Quia infatuati sunt pastores, et Jehovam non inquisierunt; propterea non egerunt prospere (alii, non intellexerunt,) et omnis pascua eorum (hoc est, quicquid in pascuis eorum erat) fuit destructum.
In the first place, he assigns a cause for the dreadful devastation of which he had spoken, and that was, because the shepherds were without thought and understanding. He still, as we see, goes on with his metaphor. Some confine this to the kings of Israel; but I do not agree with them: for I include under the name shepherds, the priests and the prophets as wen as the king and his counsellors. But Jeremiah did not mean to exempt the people from fault, when He, in an especial manner, accused the shepherds; but he only mentioned the origin and the primary cause of evils, -- that the kings, the prophets, and the priests were blind, and thus destroyed the flock of God. We have observed elsewhere the same mode of speaking; and yet the prophets did not intend to extenuate the vices of the people, nor to absolve the lower orders. But as it mostly happens that the lower ranks, and those in humble stations, rely much on the chief men who occupy places of authority, it was necessary that the prophets should notice this evil: and we also know how nmch pride and arrogance there is in kings and priests, and in all those who elljoy any honor or dignity; for they think themselves exempt from the restraint of laws, and will not be reproved, as though they were sacred persons. It was, therefore, for this reason, that the Prophet reproved such with so much vehemence and severity. Hence, he says, The shepherds are infatuated
The people, indeed, at that time repudiated the prophets, as the case is now under the Papacy. For even when the truth of God is dearly and perspicuously set forth, there are many who set up this shield, -- that they believe their bishops, prelates, and kings, and others of a similar kind. When, therefore, Jeremiah saw that the pure truth of God was subverted by vain splendor, he found it necessary to expose the disguise, and, so to speak, to pull off the mask. It was, then, for this reason, that he said that the shepherds were infatuated. If the prophets were under this necessity, what ought to be done by us at this day, when we see that all those who unblushingly boast that they are the representatives of the Church are sheer impostors, and draw miserable souls into destruction? What else, I pray, ought to be done by us, but what we learn was done by the prophets? And how foolishly and childishly do the Papal bishops prattle, when they would have themselves exempted from all reproofs, because power and government is in their own hands! For they cannot surely assume to themselves more than what belonged formerly to the Levitical priests; for God had chosen them, and all the priests under the law might have justly boasted that they were appointed by divine authority: yet we see that they were reproved, and were said to be infatuated. The Pope and his bishops have not been appointed by God, nor have they any evidence of their calling. Though, then, they arrogate all things to themselves, and seem to do so by divine right, yet they cannot be deemed superior to the ancient priests: they must, therefore, become subject to the judgment which God denounces here by the mouth of his Prophet.
He gives a reason why they were infatuated, because they sought not Jehovah We hence see, on the other hand, that true wisdom is to seek God. When, therefore, there is no care taken to seek God, however acute men may be, they must necessarily be altogether infatuated: and it was for this reason that Jeremiah called them who had not sought God foolish or fatuitous. This passage teaches us, that the only way of governing rightly is, when they who rule strive to give glory to God, and regard him in all their thoughts and actions: but when they act otherwise, they must necessarily play the feel and become infatuated, however wise they may appear to be.
Hence he says, they have not prospered The verb skl, shical, means to understand, and also to prosper. I see no reason for rendering it here, |they have not understood| or acted wisely; for it seems frigid, nor do I see what sense can be elicited. But the Prophet may be considered to have justly said, that neither the kings and their counsellors, nor the priests and the prophets ruled with any success, because they sought not God; and that as they had no care for true religion, they were become infatuated. And what follows confirms this view, And all that was in their pastures, etc.; for the Prophet seems here to add to his general statement a particular thing, and thus to prove that the government was unhappily conducted, being under the curse of God, because true religion had been neglected. He then adds this special thing, -- that the pastures had been deserted, that is, that the flock in the pastures had been wholly scattered. It follows --