21. That thou hast slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them?
21. Et maetasti filios meos, et posuisti eos ut transirent illis.
He strengthens the same sentence, and more clearly explains that they offered their sons and daughters by cruelly sacrificing them when they passed them through the fire. This was a kind of purifying, as we have seen elsewhere. When, therefore, they passed their children through the fire, it was a rite of illustration and expiation; and they brought them to the fire, as I have lately explained, in two different ways. Here the Prophet speaks especially of that cruel and brutal offering. We have already mentioned the sense in which God claims a right in the sons of his people, not as members of the Church properly speaking, but as adopted by God. And here again we must hold what Paul says, that all the progeny of Abraham were not lawful sons, since a difference must be made between sons of the flesh and sons of promise. (Romans 9:7, 8.) This is as yet partially obscure, but it may be shortly explained. We may remark that there was a twofold election of God: since speaking generally, he chose the whole family of Abraham. For circumcision was common to all, being the symbol and seal of adoption: since when God wished all the sons of Abraham to be circumcised from the least to the greatest, he at the same time chose them as his sons: this was one kind of adoption or election. But the other was secret, because God took to himself out of that multitude those whom he wished: and these are sons of promise, these are remnants of gratuitous favor, as Paul says. (Romans 11:8.) This distinction, therefore, now takes away all doubt, since the Prophet speaks of the unbelievers and the profane who had departed from the worship of God. For this their unbelief was a complete abdication. It is true, then, that as far as themselves were concerned, they were strangers, and so God's secret election did not flourish in them, but yet they were God's people, as far as relates to external profession. If any one objects that this circumcision was useless, and hence their election without the slightest effect, the answer is at hand: God by his singular kindness honored those miserable ones by opening a way of approach for them to the hope of life and salvation by the outward testimonies of adoption. Then as to their being at the same time strangers, that happened through their own fault. Hence we may shortly hold, that the Jews were naturally accursed through being Adam's seed: but by supernatural and singular privilege, they were exempt and free from the curse: since circumcision was a testimony of the adoption by which God had consecrated them to himself: hence they were holy; and as to their being impure, it could not, as we have said, abolish God's covenant. The same thing ought at this time to prevail in the Papacy. For we are all born under the curse: and yet God acknowledges supernaturally as his sons all who spring from the faithful, not only in the first or second degree, but even to a thousand generations. And so Paul says that the children of the faithful are holy, since baptism does not lose its efficacy, and the adoption of God remains fixed, (1 Corinthians 7:14,) yet the greater part is without the covenant through their own unbelief. God meanwhile has preserved to himself a remnant in all ages, and at this day he chooses whom he will out of the promiscuous multitude.
Now let us go on. I had omitted at the end of the last verse the phrase, Are thy fornications a small matter? By this question God wishes to press the Jews home, since they had not only violated their conjugal fidelity by prostituting themselves to idols, but had added the cruelty which we have seen in slaying their sons. Lastly, he shows that their impiety was desperate.