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Hos 4:1 Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because [there is] no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.
Ver. 1. Hear the word of the Lord ] This is the beginning of a new sermon, or judicial act of God against the ten tribes, which are here convented, convinced, sentenced. It begins with an Oyez, like that of St Paul, Acts 13:16 , "Men of Israel, and ye that fear God" (if any such be in so general a defection), "give audience." Ye have heard God’s mind before parabolically delivered and in types; now hear it in plain terms, that you may "see and understand and be converted, and I may heal you." Hear, and your souls shall live. Hear him that speaketh from heaven, even that excellent speaker as he is called, Daniel 10:4-9 , that arch-prophet, whom ye are bound to hear, Deu 18:18 Matthew 17:5 , upon pain of death, Hebrews 12:25 , the Lord Christ I mean, who speaketh with authority, and is mighty in word and deed, Acts 10:36 . He it was whom Isaiah saw upon his throne, and heard speaking, John 12:41 . And it is a rule in divinity, that where the Old Testament bringeth in God appearing and speaking to the patriarchs, prophets, and people, it is to be understood of the Second Person. "Hear, therefore, and give ear; be not proud: for the Lord hath spoken it," Jeremiah 13:15 . "The lion hath roared, who will not fear?" Amos 3:8 . The Lord God hath spoken, who can but hear and fear, humble and tremble?
Ye children of Israel ] But oh, how altogether unlike your father! Even as unlike as Jehoiakim (that degenerate plant) was to his father, Josiah, that "plant of renown," Ezekiel 34:29 . His heart melted when he heard the law, 2 Chronicles 34:18-19 , but Jehoiakim cut it with a penknife and cast it into the fire, Jeremiah 36:23 . These were Israel’s children, and named "the house of Jacob," as those in Micah 2:7 ; but an empty title yields but an empty comfort at last. Is the spirit of the Lord straitened? (saith the prophet there;) were these Jacob’s doings? Do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly? Were you Israelites indeed, I should not thus lose my sweet words upon you; but you would incline your ears and come unto me, Isaiah 55:3 , hear as for life itself: especially since I am sent unto you (as once Ahijah was to Jeroboam’s wife, 1Ki 14:6 ) with heavy tidings, with such a citation or process from heaven as may well be unto you as Samuel’s message was to Eli, that made both his ears to tingle; or as the handwriting was to Balthasar, that made his knees knock together.
For the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land ] The former title (children of Israel) was too good for them: they had disgraced their father’s family, and were therefore (Reuben-like) fallen from their dignity. They shall henceforth be called the inhabitants of the land, as the wicked are called, Revelation 12:12 , in opposition to "the heavens and those that dwell therein," the burgesses of the new Jerusalem. Abraham had seed of two sorts, some were as the dust of the earth, Genesis 13:16 , others as the stars of heaven, Genesis 15:5 . And all are not Israel that are of Israel, Romans 9:6 . Multi sacerdotes et pauci sacerdotes, saith Chrysostom. There are many ministers, and yet but few; many in name, but few in deed, workmen that need not be ashamed; Nomen inane, crimea immane. It was cold comfort to Dives in flames, that Abraham called him son; or to Judas, that Christ called him friend; or to these rebellious Jews, that God sometimes called them his people, and had rooted out the cursed Canaanites to make room for them, when as they lived in God’s good land, but not by God’s good laws. For which cause the Lord hath here a controversy with them, a suit at law; and being himself both plaintiff and judge, he is sure to cast them; yea, to cast them out of that good land as evil tenants ( Malae fidei possessores ), that should hold no longer: for, Hosea 4:3 , he threateneth to plead against them, non verbis sed verberibus, with pestilence and with blood, as Ezekiel 38:22 , to make them say, as Isaiah 45:9 , "Woe to him that striveth with his Maker," that hath him for his adversary at law; such a one is sure to be undone unless he agree with him quickly, Matthew 5:25 , while he is yet in the way with him, and before he be brought to the tribunal. "For even our God is a consuming fire," Hebrews 12:29 ; his tribunal also is of fire, Ezekiel 1:27 , his pleading with sinners "in flames of fire," 2 Thessalonians 1:7 , the trial of men’s works shall be by fire, 1 Corinthians 3:13 , the place of punishment a lake of fire fed with a river of brimstone, Isaiah 30:33 . O pray, therefore, and prevent, that God enter not into judgment with us: for if so, no man living shall be justified in his sight. God’s people may have and shall be sure to have the devil an adversary at law against them, as St Peter’s word, αντιδικος , signifies, 1 Peter 5:8 . The accuser of the brethren he is called, which accuseth them before God day and night, Revelation 12:12 . But him they may resist stedfast in the faith, and recover cost and charges of him, as I may so say; for they have Christ to appear for them in heaven, Hebrews 9:24 , as a lawyer for his client, 1 John 2:2 , to thwart all the devil’s accusations. The Spirit also (as a paracletus or advocate) maketh request for them to God in their hearts, and helpeth them to make apologies for themselves, 2 Corinthians 7:11 . Again, "If a man sin against another, the judge shall judge him," saith old Eli to his wicked sons; that is, the umpire may come and take up the controversy and put an end to the quarrel. "But if a man have sinned against the Lord, who shall entreat for him?" 1 Samuel 2:29 . Who dare be his daysman? no mediation of man can make his peace; no reconciliation can be here hoped for, but by running from God as a Judge, to God as a Father in Christ. Let men, therefore, be wrought upon by the reprehensions of God’s faithful ministers, by whom he appealeth and impeacheth them. If they stand out as the old world did against that preacher of righteousness, by whom he went and preached to those spirits now in prison (because they would not take up the matter in time, but futured and fooled away their own salvation), he will break off his patience, and say, as Genesis 6:3 , "My Spirit shall not always strive with these men, for that they also are flesh," &c., and are therefore the worse, because they ought to be better ( Ideo deteriores quia meliores esse debebant ); therefore they shall fare the worse, because they would be no better. I have hewed them by my prophets, Hosea 6:5 , but can make no good work of them. Like ill timber, they fall to splinters; and like ill stones, they crumble all to gravel; they are therefore fitter for the highway and chimney corner then for my building. My Spirit shall therefore strive no more with these perverse persons, either by preaching, disputing, convincing, &c., in the mouth of my ministers; or in their own minds and consciences, by inward checks and motions, which they reject, refusing to be reformed, hating to be healed. I will take away my Spirit, and silence my prophets (as he doth Hos 4:4 ), and resolve upon their utter ruin; since there is no good to be done upon them. See Hosea 4:17 . See Trapp on " Hos 4:17 " Currat ergo poenitentia, ne praecurrat sententia, &c.
Because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land ] Lo, here the charge: and "knowing the judgment of God," you must needs say that "those that commit such things are worthy of death," Romans 1:32 . For "if the word spoken by angels" (the law given by angels in the hand of Moses a mediator) "were stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience" (that is, every commission and omission) "received a just recompense of reward," Hebrews 2:2 , how should these miscreants escape, that had left off to do good? and for evil, they did it with both hands earnestly; for the second table of the law, it is articled against them (for matter of omission or defect) that there was "neither truth nor mercy in the land"; and for the first table, that there was no sound "knowledge of God" there; and, consequently, no care of God, either inward or outward worship: for there can be neither faith, nor repentance, nor due obedience yielded to an unknown God. A Samaritan service there may be ("ye worship ye know not what," Joh 4:22 ), but not a rational service, Romans 12:1 , such as whereof a man can render a reason. Now God will not have a blind sacrifice, Malachi 1:8 1 Chronicles 28:9 ; it is worthless that men are virtuous, unless they join to their virtue knowledge, 2 Peter 1:5 ; nor that they offer sacrifice, if they bring the "sacrifice of fools," Ecclesiastes 5:1 . Those must needs be "abominable and disobedient" that are to "every good work reprobate," injudicious, as the word signifies, Titus 1:11 ; and what marvel though men be "alienated from the life of God" (or a godly life), "through the ignorance that is in them?" Ephesians 4:18 . But let us take the words in order. "There is no truth." Here God declareth against them (as lawyers do against offenders in court), and not for trifles, but first for want of truth or trustiness in word and deed; without which human society is but funiculus ex arena, a rope of sand, or arena sine calce, sand without lime, it cannot hold together. It was an old complaint of the prophets, that "Truth was fallen in the streets, and faithfulness failed from among the children of men," Isa 59:14 Psalms 12:1 . When Varus was slain Augustus grieved excessively; and that because non esset a quo verum audiret, he had none about him that would tell him the truth of things, and deal plainly with him. Multis annis iam transactis, nulla fides est in pactis, &c. Jeremiah bewails it in his treacherous countrymen, that they "bent their tongues like their bows for lies; but they were not valiant for the truth on the earth," Jeremiah 9:3 ; they were mendaciorum loquaeissimi (as Tertullian phraseth it), loud and lewd liars, and (as Hegesippus saith of Pilate) they were viri nequam et pravi facientes mendacium, naughty men, and such as made nothing of a lie. But God’s people are said to be "children that will not lie," Isaiah 63:8 , they are φιλαληθεις , lovers of truth, which was the title of honour given to Arrian, the Greek historian; whereas of all other historians Vopiscus testifieth, that there is none qui non aliquid est mentitus, that taketh not the liberty to lie more or less. And for slipperiness in contracts and covenants nothing is more common among men; it is counted a peccadillo. But the God of truth, the faithful and true witness, as Christ is called, counteth it not so. See Ezekiel 17:15-21 1Ti 4:2 2 Timothy 3:3 . There are those who take truth here for justice, according to Zechariah 8:16 , and so it suits well with that which followeth.
Nor mercy ] These two are set together, Micah 6:8 (to do justly, and to love mercy), as the sum of the second table. Mouth mercy there was enough, such as was that in St James’ days, James 2:15-16 . "But there is not any one that taketh Zion by the hand," Isaiah 51:18 , that "draweth out his soul to the hungry, and dealeth his bread to such," Isaiah 58:7 ; Isaiah 58:10 . Sodom hath fulness of bread, but would part with none to strengthen the hands of the poor and needy, Ezekiel 16:49 . Therefore she had "judgment without mercy," that had showed no mercy, James 2:13 . Whereas Tyre, when once she left heaping and hoarding, and brought forth her merchandise for them that dwell before the Lord to "eat sufficiently," and for "durable clothing," Isaiah 23:18 , is renowned and reckoned among those that came to Christ with their desirable things, as some read that text, Haggai 2:7 . Colligent omnes suos thesauros (so Calvin readeth it), they shall come with strong affections, with large contributions, as those primitive saints did, Acts 4:34 . The same Hebrew word, chasid, signifieth both saint and merciful; and it comes of chesed, the word here rendered mercy, or bounty. The tender mercies of the Almighty shed forth abundantly upon such, leave a compassionate frame upon their hearts, as in the jailer, Acts 16:33 . Their thoughts, steeped in the mercies they have received, are dyed of the same colour as cloth is in the dye fat, Colossians 3:12 . This text, after no mercy, fitly adds,
Nor knowledge of God in the land ] Heb. "And no knowledge of God": or, "because there is no knowledge of God in the land." Did men but know God savingly, had they but tasted and seen how good the Lord is, they would not be so hide bound, and strait handed to their poor brethren; but "ready to distribute, willing to communicate," 1 Timothy 6:18 . They are the "dark places of the earth" that are "full of the habitations of cruelty," Psalms 74:20 . But in the kingdom of Christ they "shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain," saith the Lord: and why? "For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea," Isaiah 11:9 . St Paul thanks his ignorance for his persecutions and blasphemy, 1 Timothy 1:13 , and resolves the sin of those killers of Christ into their "not knowing of him," 1 Corinthians 2:8 . Surely as toads and serpents grow in dark and dirty cellars, so doth all sin and wickedness in an ignorant and blind soul. Hence, in this text, after "no knowledge of God in the land," followeth that black bead roll of abominations in the next verse: "By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing," &c. As blind alehouses are sinks and sources of all villany, so are blind hearts.
In the land ] Though it were a land of light, a very Goshen in comparison to the rest of the world; though in Judah was God known, and his name great in Israel, Psalms 76:1 ; men may remain grossly ignorant amidst a multitude of means, and "in a land of righteousness deal unjustly": and why? they will not behold the majesty of the Lord, Isaiah 26:10 . They will not see. They are "willingly ignorant," saith St Peter: Ut liberius peccent libenter ignorant, saith Bernard. They "hate the light," saith our Saviour, John 3:20 2 Peter 2:1-22 ; it "is unto them as the shadow of death," saith Job, Job 24:17 . Hence they shut the windows, lest it should shine upon them; or if it do, they rebel against it, rush against it, as bats do against torches in the night. That light they have by nature, or otherwise (as a prophet from God), they detain and imprison in unrighteousness, Romans 1:18 . Their knowledge of God, if any, is only apprehensive, and not affective, cognoscitiva, non vitae directiva, enlightening, not transforming into the same image, so as to make them children of light: it is notional knowledge, not experimental and practical. Hence such outrages in their lives, such errors and enormities: for,
Hos 4:2 By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.
Ver. 2. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing ] Heb. to swear, and lie, and kill, and steal, and commit adultery. To do all this is held, licitum et solenne, lawful, or at least pardonable. It is grown to a common practice; and custom of sinning hath taken away sense of sin.
By swearing ] Heb. by cursing, or swearing with an execration and cursing, which was commonly added to an oath, to confirm it the more, Deuteronomy 29:12 ; Deu 29:21 Nehemiah 10:29 . And, indeed, in every lawful oath God is called to witness, to bless us if we swear right, and to curse ns if otherwise. Such an oath is a special part of God’s worship, and is oft put for the whole, as here false and frivolous oaths are put for the violation of the whole first table, and set in opposition to the knowledge of God in the land; like as lying is opposed to truth, and killing, stealing, whoring, to mercy or kindness. Before, God had complained of their defects, or omissions; here, of their commissions and flagitious practices. Swearers (but especially false swearers) are traitors to the state, as appeareth here and Jeremiah 23:10 ; they bring a curse, nay, a large roll of curses (ten yards long, and five yards broad, Zec 5:2 ), upon their hearts, and shall one day howl in hell. The same word that is here rendered swearing signifieth also to howl or lament, Joel 1:8 . Go to now, therefore, ye swearers, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you, James 5:1 ; James 5:12 . Weep here, where there be wiping handkerchiefs in the hand of Christ: better do so, than yell with devils who have borrowed your mouths, to utter horrid blasphemies. Swearing is "of the devil," saith our Saviour, Matthew 5:37 , and it brings men to the devil, saith St James, James 5:12 . They object that they swear nothing but the truth. But that is not always so. Swearing and lying are here set together, as seldom sundered. The marvel, if he that sweareth commonly do not forswear frequently; for he sweareth away all his faith and truth. But, say they swear truth, yet that excuseth not. Truth is but one circumstance of an oath, Jeremiah 4:2 . Men, as they must swear in truth, so in righteousness (not rashly, furiously), and in judgment, not in jest. Swear not in jest, lest ye go to hell in earnest. It is the property and duty of a godly man to fear an oath, Ecclesiastes 9:2 , and not to forbear it only. As on the other side, no surer sign of a profane person than common and customary swearing. It were well if such were served as Louis IX of France served a citizen of Paris; he seared his lips for swearing with a hot iron. And when some said it was too cruel an act, I would to God, said he, that with searing my own lips with a hot iron I could banish out of the realm all abuse of oaths. Those that plead they have gotten a custom to swear, and therefore they must be borne with, shall have the like answer from God that the thief had from the judge. He desired the judge to spare him, for stealing had been his custom from his youth, and now he could not leave it. The judge replied, it was also his custom to give judgment against such malefactors; and therefore he must be condemned.
And lying ] Fitly linked with swearing. Some gravel or mud ever passeth away with much water; so do some lies with much swearing. How oft do men forget their oaths, and swear again that they have not sworn at all! Should men’s excrements come from them as oft, and they not feel it, they would be full sorry, and ashamed thereof. Now swearing and lying defile men much worse than any jakes can do, Mark 7:22 , and render them odious to God and good men. Lying is a blushful evil; therefore doth the liar deny his lie, as ashamed to be taken with it, and our ruffians revenge it with a stab. God ranks and reckons it with the most monstrous sins, and shuts it out of heaven, Revelation 21:8 . Aristotle saith, It is in itself evil and wicked, contrary to the order of nature (which hath given words to express mens’ minds and meanings), destructive to human society. Pythagoras was wont to say, that in two things we become like unto God: 1. In telling truth; 2. In bestowing benefits. Now, Mentiri, is contra mentem ire; to lie is to go against reason, to lie is to utter a known untruth with an intention to deceive or hurt. The Cretans of old were infamous for this, Titus 1:12 , Kρητες αει ψευσται , the friars of late. ‘Twas grown to a proverb among our forefathers, a friar, a liar; ‘tis now among us, every liar is, or would be, a thief. Hence, lying and stealing go coupled together here; but between them both stands killing, as ushered in by the former, and oft occasioned by the latter, Proverbs 1:19 .
And killing ] This follows fitly upon the former; for truth hath always a scratched face. The devil was first a liar, and then a murderer, John 8:44 . He cannot so well murder without slandering first. The credit of the Church must first be taken away, and then she is wounded, Song of Solomon 5:6 . The people here in England once complained that Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, that noble patriot, was twice murdered: first by detraction, aud then by deadly practice. The French have a proverb: Those that have a mind to kill their neighbour’s dog make the world believe he was mad first. This is their proverb, and accordingly was their practice in the massacre of Paris. A little before which they gave out, that the Protestants met by night, to plot against the state, and to commit all manner of uncleanness among themselves. This is an old trick of the devil and his instruments, first to slander the Church, and to represent her to the world in the ugliest hue, and then to persecute her, like as of old they used to put the poor Christians in bears’ or lions’ skins, and then bait them with dogs. Paulus Fagius reports a story of an Egyptian, who said that the Christians were a colluvies of moist, filthy, lecherous people. And for their keeping of the Sabbath; he saith, they had a disease upon them, and were therefore fain to rest every seventh day. The Papists accused the Waldenses (those ancient Protestants) for Manichees; and that they affirmed there were two beginnings of things, God and the devil, &c.; and all because they constantly affirmed that the emperor had no dependence upon the pope. They gave them out also for Arians (and published their croisados against them as enemies to Christ), and all because they denied that a crust was transubstantiated into Christ. To make way for the ruin of England by the gunpowder plot, they broadcast it abroad that the people here looked as black as devils, were grown barbarous, and did eat young children. That we held opinion to worship no God, to serve the times, to prefer profit before right, to pretend the public cause to our private lusts, to cover hatred with flattery, to confirm tyranny by shedding innocent blood, to keep faith no longer than will serve our own turns, &c. (Eudaem. Johannes.) And if the plot had taken effect, they had fathered it upon the Puritans (having proclamations ready framed for the purpose), that under that name they might have sucked the blood and revelled in the ruins of all such here as had but the love or any show of sound religion. The word here used for killing signifies to kill with a murdering weapon, such as David felt in his bones, Psalms 42:10 , such as Colignius and other the poor Protestants felt in the French massacre: where the queen of Navarre was poisoned, the most part of the peerless nobility in France murdered, together with their wives and children; and of the common people a hundred thousand in one year, in various parts of the realm. What should I speak of the innocent blood of Ireland, for which God hath already and yet still will make diligent inquisition. If the blood of Abel had so many tongues as drops, Genesis 4:10 , what then of so many righteous Abels? "Surely I have seen yesterday" (saith God) "the blood of Naboth," 2 Kings 9:26 . Murder ever bleeds fresh in his eye: to him many years, yea, that eternity that is past, is but yesterday. Neither is he wanting to punish it even in this present world. He avengeth the innocent blood that Manasseh shed a long while after his death: he would not pardon it, no, though Manasseh repented of it, 2 Kings 24:4 . The mountains of Gilboa were accursed, for the blood of Saul and Jonathan spilt upon them, 2 Samuel 1:21 ; and what a deal of do we find in the law made when a man was murdered! Deuteronomy 21:1-4 , the valley which the expiatory sacrifice was slain in that case was from thenceforth to be neither eared nor sown: in all to show what a precious esteem God hath of man’s life, and what controversy with a land for shedding of blood.
And stealing ] Those publici latrones especially, public thieves that sit in purple robes, and by wrong judgment oppress and rob the poor innocents, are here intended, as Calvin thinks; see Isaiah 23:17-18 ; Isaiah 33:1 . So are all others that either by force or fraud get into their hands their neighhours’ goods; whether, I say, it be by violence or cunning contrivance, the Lord is the avenger of all such, 1 Thessalonians 4:6 . So that though haply they lie out of the walk of human justice, and come not under man’s cognizance, yet God will find them out, and send his flying roll of curses after them, Zechariah 5:2-3 : "he shall vomit up his sweet morsels" here, Job 20:15 , or else digest in hell what he hath devoured on earth; as his "belly hath prepared deceit," Job 15:35 , so God will take it out of his guts again; either he shall make restitution of his ill-gotten goods, or for not doing it he shall one day cough in hell, as Father Latimer phraseth it (Serm. before King Edw. VI).
And committing adultery ] "This is also a heinous crime" (saith holy Job), "yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges," Job 31:11 . Heathens have punished it very severely. Of one people we read that they used to put the adulterer’s or adulteress’s head into the paunch of a beast where the filth of it lay, and so stifled him. God punished those stinking Edomites with stinking brimstone for their loathsome brutishness; and adjudged adultery to death: because society and purity of posterity could not otherwise continue among men. We read not, in any general commandment of the law, that any should be burnt with fire, but the high priest’s daughter for adultery, Leviticus 21:9 ; yet it seems it was in use before the law, or else Judah was much to blame for sentencing his daughter-in-law Tamar to the fire, Genesis 38:2-3 . Let us, beware of that sin, for which so peculiar a plague was appointed, and by very heathens executed see Jeremiah 29:22-23 . If men be slack to take vengeance on such, yet God will hold on his controversy against them and avenge the quarrel of his covenant (for so wedlock is called, Pro 2:17 ), either by his own bare hand, or else by the hands of the adulterers themselves. See an instance of both these even in our times. In the year 1583, in London, two citizens committing adultery together on the Lord’s day were struck dead with fire from heaven in the very act of uncleanness: their bodies being left dead in the place, half burnt up, sending out a most loathsome savour, for a spectacle of God’s controversy against adultery and sabbath breaking. This judgment was so famous and remarkable that Laurentius Bayenlink, a foreign historian, hath thought good to register it to posterity (Opus Chronologiae Orbis Universi, Antwerp, 1611, p. 110). Mr Cleaver reports of one that he knew that had committed the act of uncleanness, and in the horror of conscience he hanged himself, but before, when he was about to kill himself, he wrote in a paper, and left it in a place, to this effect: Indeed, saith he, I acknowledge it to be utterly unlawful for a man to kill himself, but I am bound to act the magistrate’s part, because the punishment of this sin is death. This act of his was not to be justified, viz. to be his own executioner; but it shows what a controversy God hath with adulterers, and what a deep gash that sin makes in the conscience.
They break out ] Like wild horses over hedges, or proud waters over the banks. The Septuagint renders it εκκεχυται , they are poured out. And St Jude hath a like expression, speaking of the libertines of his time, Hosea 4:11 , they run greedily, Gr. εξεχυθησαν : they were poured out, or poured away as water out of a vessel: they ran headlong, or gave themselves over to work all uncleanness with greediness, to satisfy their lusts, and to oppose with crest and breast whatsoever stands in their way; bearing down all before them. So Sodom and Gomorrah are (in Jdg 1:7 ) said by unbridled licentiousness to "give themselves over to fornication," in scortationem effusae (Beza). And when Lot sought to advise them better, they set up the bristles at him, with
Base busy stranger, comest thou hither thus,
Controller-like, to prate and preach to us?
Thus these effractories (as the Psalmist somewhere calleth them), these breach makers, break Christ’s bands in sunder (as Samson did the seven green withes, Jdg 16:9 ), and cast away his cords from them, Psalms 2:3 . These unruly Belialists get the bit between their teeth, like headstrong horses; and casting their rider, rise up against him. They, like men (or rather like wild beasts), "transgress the covenant," Hosea 5:7 , resolving to live as they list, to take their swing in sin: "for who" (say they) "is Lord over us?" Psalms 12:4 . Tremellius reads that text, tanquam hominis, just as man, they transgress it as if it were the covenant of a man: they make no more of breaking the law than as if they had to do with dust and ashes like themselves, and not with the great God that can tame them with the turn of his hand, and with the blast of his mouth blow them into hell. Hath he not threatened to "walk contrary to those that walk contrary to him," to be as cross as they for the hearts of them, and to bring upon them seven times more plagues than before, and seven times and seven to that, till he have got the better of them? for is it fit that he should cast down the bucklers first? I think not. He will be obeyed by these exorbitant, yokeless, lawless persons, either actively or passively. The law was added because of transgression: and is given, saith the apostle, 1 Timothy 1:9 , "not to the righteous," for they are αυτονομοι , a law to themselves (as the Thracians boasted), but to the lawless and disobedient, who count licentiousness the only liberty, and the service of God the greatest slavery; who think no venison sweet but that which is stolen, nor any mirth but that which a Solomon would say to, Thou mad fool, what doest thou? Ecclesiastes 2:2 . Lo, for such rebels and refractories, for such masterless monsters as send messages after the Lord Christ, saying, "We will not have this man to reign over us," for these, I say, was the law made, to hamper them and shackle them, as fierce and furious creatures; to tame them and tear them with its four iron teeth, 1. Of irritation, Romans 7:7 Romans 7:2 . Of induration, Isaiah 6:10
3. Of obligation to condign punishment, Genesis 4:4 Genesis 4:4 . Of execration, or malediction, Deuteronomy 28:16-17 , &c. Let men take heed, therefore, how they break out against God: let them meddle with their matches, and not contend with him that is mightier than they: it is the wise man’s counsel, Ecclesiastes 6:10 .
And blood toucheth blood ] i.e. there is a continuation, and, as it were, a concatenation of murders, and other horrible villanies, as was at Jerusalem in the murder of Zacharias, the son of Barachias; the blood of the sacrificer was mingled with the blood of the sacrifice, and, as Luke 13:1 , the like occured. So at Athens, when Sulla took the town, there was ανελεης σφαγη , a merciless slaughter; the gutters running with blood. And so at Samaria (which the prophet may here probably intend), when there was such killing of kings (and they fall not alone); Hosea killed his predecessor Pekah, as he had done Pekahiah; Menahem killed Shallum, as Shallum had done Zacharias: so true is that of the poet (Juvenal),
“ Ad generum Cereris sine crude et sanguine pauci,
Descendunt Reges, et sicca morte tyranni. ”
What got most of the first Caesars by their adoption, or designation to the empire, Nisi ut citius interficerentur, but to be killed so much the sooner? All, or most of them, till Constantius, died unnatural deaths, as afterwards, Phocas the traitor killed the good Emperor Mauritius, stewing him in his own broth. Heraclius slew Phocas, putting him to a shameful and tormentful death. Conradinus, King of Germany and Duke of Sweden, was beheaded by Charles, King of Naples and Sicily; and the headsman presently beheaded by another, ne extaret qui iacraret tam generosum sanguinem a se effusum (saith mine author), that there might not be any left to boast that he had spilt so noble blood. Our Richard III, that bloody and deceitful man, is said to have used the instruments of his cruel plots (his cut-throats, I mean) as men do their candles; burn the first out to a suuff, and then, having lighted another, tread that underfoot. Fawkes (that fatal actor of the intended gunpowder tragedy) should have been thus rewarded by his brethren in evil had the plot taken effect. It is that famous and never-to-be-forgotten 5th of November, 1651, wherein I write these lines, and therefore, in way of thankfulness to our ever gracious deliverer, I here think good to set down the relation as Mr John Vicars (in his Quintessence of Cruelty, or Poem of the Popish Gunpowder Plot) hath declared it to the world, as he had it from Mr Clement Cotton, the composer of the English Concordance, who also received it from Mr Pickering, of Titsmarsh Grove, in Northamptonshire, and it is thus: This Mr Pickering, being in great esteem with King James, had a horse of special note, on which he used to hunt with the king: this horse was borrowed from him (a little before the blow was to be given) by his brother-in-law, Keyes (one of the conspirators), and conveyed to London, for a bloody purpose, which thus was plotted. Fawkes on the day of the fatal blow was appointed to retire himself to St George’s Fields, where this said horse was to attend him to make his escape as soon as the Parliament House was blown up. It was likewise contrived, that the said Mr Pickering (noted for a Puritan) should be that very morning murdered in his bed, and secretly conveyed away: as also that Fawkes himself should have been murdered in St George’s Fields, and there so mangled and cut in pieces that it might not be discovered who it was. Whereupon it was to be rumoured abroad that the Puritans had blown up the Parliament House: and the better to make the world believe so, there was Mr Pickering with his horse ready to make an escape, but that God stirred up some, who seeing the heinousness of the fact, and he ready to escape by flight, in detestation of so horrible a deed fell upon him, and killed him, and so had hacked him in pieces. And yet to make it to be more apparent to be so indeed, there was his horse found also, which was of special speed and swiftness, to carry him away: and upon this rumour, a massacre should have gone through the whole kingdom upon the Puritans. But when this plot, thus contrived, was confessed by some of the conspirators, and Fawkes in the Tower was made acquainted with it (who had been borne in hand to be bountifully rewarded for his service in the Catholic cause), when he saw how his ruin was contrived, he also thereupon confessed freely all that he knew touching that horrid and hideous conspiracy, which (before) all the torture of the rack could not force him to. The truth of all this is attested by Mr William Perkins, an eminent Christian and citizen of London, who had it from the mouth of Mr Clement Cotton: which I could not but here insert, as coming to my mind and pen, on the very day whereon (46 years since) it should have been acted, when myself was but four years of age, and it being the utmost that I can remember; but if ever I forget, let my right hand forget her cunning. Remember, O Lord, these children of Edom, &c., these Romish Edomites, Esauites, Jesuits, who said, "Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation, O daughter of Babylon," &c., Psalms 137:5 ; Psalms 137:7-8 . The Rabbis call the Romists Edomites (they interpret the mount of Esau, Obad. Obadiah 1:21 , to be meant of Rome), and well they may, for their blood guiltiness, for which they are hated of God, Psalms 5:6 . Who cannot but remember that their sins (as a cart rope) have reached up to heaven, Revelation 18:5 , there having been a concatenation, or a continued series of them, as the Greek there imports, ηκολουθησαν , and (as some here interpret) "blood touching blood," according to Isaiah 1:15 , "Your hands are full of blood"; and Hosea 4:4 , "The filth of the daughter of Zion, and the blood of Jerusalem." This sense, the Chaldee paraphrase maketh. The Septuagint (with their μισγυουσι , "mingle blood with blood") seem to understand it of incestuous matches and mixtures forbidden, Leviticus 18:6 , and yet avowed by David George and his disciples, and practised in the court of Spain, by papal dispensation.
Hos 4:3 Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.
Ver. 3. Therefore shall the land mourn ] Here the Lord proceeds to give sentence; and it is dreadful indeed. Lugebit terra, languebit incola, &c. You will not mourn, therefore your land shall; the ugly face of your sin shall appear in the miserable desolation of your country. "There is no truth, mercy, or knowledge of God in your land"; which even groans under your burden, its axle spokes being ready to break; therefore it shall be eased of you, by my sore, and great, and strong sword, which shall soon make work among you, and lay all waste. And as God’s red horse of war is followed by the black horse of famine, and that black one by the pale horse of pestilence, Revelation 6:4-5 ; Revelation 6:8 , so shall it be here. As by swearing and lying, &c., you have broke out, so shall my whole wrath break out upon you as a mighty torrent. As blood hath touched blood, so punishment shall follow hard upon sin; for these two are knit together with chains of adamant, saith the poet. "If thou do evil, sin lies at the door," saith God, Genesis 4:7 , that is, supplicium imminer, idque proximum et praesentissimum, saith Junius there. Evil shall hunt the wicked man to destroy him: his sin shall find him out as a blood hound, and haunt him as a hell hag. Where iniquity breaks fast calamity will be sure to dine; to sup where it dines, and to lodge where it sups. No sooner had man sinned but the earth was cursed for his sake, Genesis 3:17-18 . It was never beautiful nor cheerful since. At this day it lies bedridden, and looks to be burnt up shortly with her works, 2 Peter 3:10 . Here it is brought in as a mother in mourning, bewailing the loss of all her children, and refusing to be comforted. And surely though the land be eased of a very heavy burden, as I have said, when purged by God’s just judgments of her ungrateful and wicked inhabitants; yet because she lies under the dint of Divine displeasure at such a time, therefore is she rightly said to mourn in this case, and to be in a sad, disconsolate condition, see Jer 12:4 she becomes a very Ahil (that is the word here used, see Jdg 11:33 ), a Bochim, a Hadadrimmon, an Irisland; and being desolate, she mourneth unto thee: for she seeth that her convulsions are like to end in a deadly consumption.
And every one that dwelleth therein shall languish ] Heb. shall wither as a flower, Nahum 1:4 . Or, shall be weakened. Those that now stand upon their tip toes, and face the very heavens, stouting it out with God, shall then be weak as water, withered as a flower, strengthless as a moth eaten cloth, Psalms 39:11 , low spirited and crest fallen, as the king of Sodom (erst man good enough to look four kings in the face, but a non-suppliant to Abraham, a forlorn foreigner, Gen 14:21 ). Manasseh, that sturdy rebel, in trouble basely hides his head among the bushes, 2 Chronicles 33:11 . Caligula in time of thunder ran under beds and benches. Affliction will tame, and take down the proudest spirits: they break in adversity that bore their heads on high in prosperity: they speak out of the ground, and whisper out of the dust, Isaiah 29:4 , that look to be brought into the dust of death, Psalms 22:15 . It is the pestilence that here seemeth to be threatened (as before sword and famine), and a universal pestilence too; reaching not only to men, but to other creatures made for man’s uses, which shows the greatness of the wrath: like as when a king not only executeth the traitor, but also pulleth down his house, confiscateth his goods, and disinheriteth his children, &c. But what have those sheep done? the beasts, birds, and fishes, that they must suffer also? It is but reason they should, since, first, they are part of men’s enjoyments: secondly, they are many times (though harmless in themselves, yet) instruments of men’s sin (Pareus); and therefore well doth the Chaldee here paraphrase Diminutionem patientur propter hominum peccata, they shall suffer for man’s sin: who may therefore well say to them, as Judah did to Tamar, "Thou art more righteous than I"
With the beasts of the field ] Which shall die by the murrain.
And the fowls of the air ] Which shall catch the contagion, and fall down dead; as those birds do that attempt to fly over the Dead Sea.
And the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away ] Colligentur, conficientur, they shall be gathered together, as seeking help one of another in a common danger: and yet they shall be destroyed, the very waters being pestilential, as they were here in King Edward III’s days; so that the very fowls and fishes had botches upon them. This was a heavier judgment than that which befell the old world; for then the fishes perished not, though the Jewish doctors would persuade us that these also died in the flood; for that the waters thereof were boiling hot.
Hos 4:4 Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people [are] as they that strive with the priest.
Ver. 4. Yet let no man strive nor reprove another ] Let him not lose so much good labour, and spill so many sweet words upon this people; for they are grown uncounsellable, incurable, incorrigible. They have rejected the counsel of God within, or against, themselves, Luke 7:30 , corripiuntur sed non corriguntur; it is because the Lord intendeth to destroy them, 1 Samuel 2:25 , yea, he hath determined it, 2 Chronicles 25:16 . Hence as dying men lose their hearing and other senses by degrees, so those that are destined to destruction grow stupid and stubborn, and will neither hear good counsel, nor see the things that concern their peace, but spurn at admonition and scorn at reproof.
“ Tunc etiam docta plus valet arte malum. ”
And therefore God forbids to reprove such, as deplored and desperate; to cast pearls of good counsel before such dogs, who prefer loathsome carrion before sweet odours; yea, rage at them as tigers do, and fly in the faces of such as present them; or, at best, grunt and go their ways, as swine; leave good counsel where they find it, not putting it in practice. Now, as dogs and swine were counted unclean creatures, and unfit for sacrifice, so are such for admonition. Let a man be never so able and apt to teach, let him be vir praestans, eximius, insignis, a gallant man (as the word אושׁ here used sometimes signifieth), and one that can do his work never so well, yet the wisdom of his words shall be despised, Proverbs 23:9 . Let him strive till his heart aches, et disputatos arguere, as St Jude speaketh ( ελεγχετε διακρινομενοι , Jdg 1:22 ), he shall but strive against the stream, and by reproving a scorner get him a blot, Proverbs 9:7 . The Pharisees denied our Saviour, and blew their noses at him ( εξεμυκτηριζον ), Luke 16:14 . Let them alone, therefore, saith our Saviour to his disciples, they be blind leaders of the blind, Matthew 15:14 ; there is no good to be done of them: therefore "let him that is filthy be filthy still," Revelation 22:11 , and he that is ignorant let him be ignorant, since he will needs be so, 1 Corinthians 14:38 . Let him "pine away in his iniquity," Leviticus 26:38 . Let him pine and perish, go on, despair, die, and be damned. My spirit shall no longer strive with him, unless it be by furious rebukes, Ezekiel 5:15 , and by fire, Amos 7:4 . Oecolampadius upon this text doubts not to say that the sin of such as reject admonition is the sin against the Holy Ghost: certainly it is worse than all the forementioned, swearing, lying, &c. Blind nature could see and say as much. Hesiod saith that there are three sorts of men: the first and best are those that live so well as not to need reproof ( ουτος μεν παναριστος . Hesiod. Oper. et Dier. V 29). The second (and those not bad) are such as do not so well, but can be content to hear of it. The third and worst are they that will neither do as they ought, nor be advised to do better. Plutarch saith those that are troubled with tooth ache will go to the physician; those that have a fever will send for him; but he that is frantic or stark mad will do neither, but reject the remedy and strike at the physician. So doth the scorner. See my commonplace of admonition.
For this people are as they that strive with the priest ] Though God’s officer, and in his stead, 2 Corinthians 5:20 , though the people’s oracle to preserve and present knowledge to them, Malachi 2:7 , and though to strive with such be to invert God’s order, who hath appointed the people to hear and obey their teacher, and not to prescribe to them; to follow their guides, and not to run before them, Hebrews 13:7 ; Hebrews 13:17 1 Timothy 1:20 2 Timothy 1:15 Numbers 16:1-3 . From which texts and 1 Corinthians 11:2-3 , a grave divine argueth thus. It is a vile sin to vex our ministers by our obstinace, yea, though they were not able to make so full demonstration; yet when they reprove such and such things out of a spiritual jealousy and fear they corrupt their hearts, they are to he heard; how much more when they come "in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power?" 1 Corinthians 2:4 . And yet how full is the Church and ever hath been of such Vitilitigatores as contend with the best ministers, quarrel at God’s word, and take up arms against it! snuffing at it, Malachi 1:13 , chatting at it, Romans 9:19-20 , casting reproaches upon it, Jeremiah 20:8-9 , enviously swelling at it, Acts 13:45 . The more you touch these toads the more they swell; the more you meddle with these serpents the more they gather poison to spit at you. Go about to cool them with fair words, you shall but add to their heat; as the smith’s forge fries when cold water is cast upon it; and as hot water, if stirred, casteth up the more fume. Vultures unguento irritantur et scaraboni rosa: vultures cannot endure sweet odours (Plin. Elian.). Tigers, if they hear the sound of a drum, will rage and tear themselves. Ahab cannot abide Micaiah; nor Herod, John Baptist. The people contested with Jeremiah and cursed him, Jeremiah 15:10 , though he were concionator admirabilis, as Keckerman hath it, an admirable preacher; yet they sought his life, saying, "Prophesy not in the name of the Lord, that thou die not by our hands," Jeremiah 11:21 (Rhet. Eclesiast. cap. ult.), yea, they told him, flat and plain, "The word which thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord we will not hear," Jeremiah 44:16 . O lewd losels (as that martyr in like case exclaimed), O faithless hard hearts, O Jezebel’s guests, rocked and laid asleep in her bed! O sorrowless sinners and shameless harlots! (Bradford). Ministers are lights, offensive to sore eyes; the salt of the earth, which is bitter to wounds. Among the Athenians, if the comedians (which were their teachers, such as they had) pleased not the people, they were overwhelmed with stones. "Once was I stoned," saith Paul, 2 Corinthians 11:25 . And Jeremiah is said to have met with the like death from his flagitious countrymen in Egypt, among whom he was ever a man of strife, and his service was (in that behalf) like that of Manlius Torquatus among the Romans, who gave it over, saying, Neither can I bear their manners, nor they my government.
Hos 4:5 Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother.
Ver. 5. Therefore shalt thou fall ] How could they do otherwise that were a nation so incorrigibly flagitious, so unthankful for mercies, so impatient of remedies, so incapable of repentance, so obliged, so warned, so shamelessly, so lawlessly wicked?
Therefore shalt thou fall in the day ] Vivens vidensque peribis, thou shalt stumble at noon day, because there is no knowledge of God in the land; but thou hast loved darkness rather than light, therefore shalt thou have enough of it; thy feet shall stumble upon the dark mountains, Jeremiah 13:16 , yea, thou shalt stumble and fall and never rise again, which is threatened expressly to these swearers, Amos 8:14 , and implied in the Hebrew word here used. Such was Eli’s fall off his stool, and Haman’s fall before Mordecai the Jew, Esther 6:13 . Impenitent persons are brats of fathomless perdition, they are ripe for ruin, shall fall into remediless misery, and (though never so insolent and angry against those that deal plainly and faithfully with them, as in the former verse, yet) they shall never want a Hosea to tell them so to their teeth; that those that will not bend may break, that if they will needs fall they may fall with open eyes, and not have cause to say that they were not forewarned. And this shall be done today, αυθημαρ , that is, very shortly, in this present age (so some interpret it), aut certe clarissima luce, saith Mercer, or else in the open light, and in the view of all men, not in huggermugger. Tremellius thinks it is as much as rebus adhuc integris subito opprimentur, Thou shalt be suddenly surprised when thou art in thy flourish, and fearest no changes. What can be more fair and flourishing than the field a day before harvest? than the vineyard a day before the vintage? certissime citissimeque corrues. Most ertainly, most certainly, fall down. Every wicked man may apply it; wherefore also it is delivered in the second person singular, Thou, even thou: to thee be it spoken.
And the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night ] The Chaldee hath it, "as in the night, if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him," John 11:10 . The false prophet cannot lay his hand upon his breast and say, as dying Oecolampadius did, Hic sat lucis, Here is store of light. Such are woefully benighted, yet more may look to be, for "their right eye shall be utterly darkened," Zechariah 11:17 (being blind leaders of the blind), yea, the night shall be upon them, and it shall be dark unto them; the sun shall go down over their heads, Micah 3:6 , and when they fall together with those seduced souls into the ditch of destruction, themselves shall fall undermost, Matthew 15:14 , and receive the deeper damnation, Matthew 23:14 . If others shall be damned, they must look to be double damned, as Dives feared to be, if ever his brethren (by his example) came to that place of torment. Mercer’s note here is very good, Nocte casuros dicit, &c. He saith they shall fall in the night, as signifying, by an allegory, that when calamity shall lay hold upon these false prophets, they shall also be pricked in their consciences, which shall tell them that ventris causa, for their bellies’ sake, and other base respects, they have brought upon the seduced people so great mischiefs. This shall be as a dagger at their hearts, and shall fill their consciences with horror and distress.
And I will destroy thy mother ] i.e. the whole synagogue, yea, the whole Church and state, the university of the Israelites; so that their nation and name should perish together. Is it not so with the ten tribes? who can tell at this day where to find them or whence to expect them? whether from China, as some think and allege, Isaiah 49:12 , or from Tartary, as others, who say that Tartar (alias Tatari, or Totari ) comes from תותר Tothar, a residue or remnant. This is no other than a vain and capricious fancy, saith learned Breerwood. Is it not altogether unlikely that the Lord in this threat might allude to that law, Deuteronomy 22:6 , "Thou shalt not take the dam" (Heb. the mother) "with the young"; but I that am above law, saith God, will cut off dam and young together in the nest, I will utterly cut off the whole nation. This was fulfilled 2 Kings 17:5-7 , and our prophet lived to see it, to his great heart-break. O that we could be warned, &c. Let holy mother Church of Rome (as they call her) look to it, with her doctrine of infallibility. These Israelites gloried as much of their mother, and thought (as Dionysius did of his kingdom) that the Church had been tied to their nation with chains of adamant (’ Aδαμαντι δεδεμενην ωετο την αρχην κεκτησθαι ), but their mother is here threatened to be cut off: and of the see of Rome it is long since foretold, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen," Revelation 18:2 . It is a question among divines whether the Church can fail? It is answered, that the Catholic invisible Church cannot; but any particular and visible Church may, as this of Israel, and that of Rome, which hath long since cast off Christ, and the public exercise of true religion; and is become ex aurea argentea, ex argentea ferrea, ex ferrea terrea: superest iam ut in stercus abeat, said one of her own sons, an Augustine friar, in 1414, and many others of their own writers say the same, necessario potius quam libenter, as wrested from them by the truth, rather than of any itching humour to disgrace their mother by uncovering her nakedness.
Hos 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
Ver. 6. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge ] "My people" (there is the wonder of it), of whom it was wont to be said by the heathen, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people": and well it might: for what nation ever had God so nigh unto them, &c., and statutes and judgments so righteous, &c.? Deuteronomy 4:6-8 ; what nation ever had prophets and priests as they had, to teach Jacob his statutes and Israel his law? Deuteronomy 33:10 . All means of knowledge they had that might be; so that God might say to them, as once Abijam did to Jeroboam and all Israel, "Ought you not to have known this?" 2 Chronicles 13:5 ; should ye not all "know the Lord from the least to the greatest?" should not your land be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea? Habakkuk 2:14 . Doth not wisdom cry in your streets? and knowledge (in the abundance of means) bow down to you as trees do that are laden with fruit, so that a child may gather them? How is it then that you (my people) are yet so hard and blockish, as rude and ignorant of me and my will, of yourselves and your duties, as the blind Ethnics? For some of you have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. Yea, "who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the Lord’s servant?" Isaiah 42:19 . I speak it with grief and stomach, and therefore I so oft speak it. Surely to whomsoever much is given much is required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more, Luke 12:48 . It is a grievous thing to receive the grace of God in vain, 2 Corinthians 6:1 ; and when for the time men might have been teachers, to have need to be taught the very first principles of the oracles of God, Hebrews 5:12 . For if God will pour out his wrath upon the heathen that know him not, Jeremiah 10:25 , who yet were left in the dark, to grope after him as they could, Acts 17:27 ; and if the poor philosophers (who had but the rush candle of nature’s dim light to work by) were yet delivered up to a reprobate sense, because they glorified God no better, Romans 1:28 ; oh the bloody weals that he will make upon the backs of his non-proficients, sots and dullards in his school! Ingentia beneficia, flagitia supplicia.
Are destroyed ] Or, silenced, as Matthew 22:12 . The Chaldee rendereth it obrutuerunt, they are besotted, and so fitted for destruction; for Deus quem destruit dementat. Ignorance is the mother, not of devotion (as Papists say), but of destruction; and ignorant persons shall be silent in darkness, as holy Hannah hath it; they shall lie down in sorrow, as the prophet Isaiah. And although they always wander and err in heart, as not knowing God’s ways, Psalms 95:10-11 , yet they cannot go so far wide as to miss hell, where they are sure to suffer both pain of loss and pain of sense; for they shall be "punished with everlasting destruction, in a flame of fire" (there is pain of sense), "from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power" (there is pain of loss), 2 Thessalonians 2:8-9 . Lo, here the portion of all ignorant persons, and withal take notice of a usual and equal proceeding of God’s impartial justice in punishing such. He delights to punish sin in kind, to pay wicked persons in their own coin, to overshoot them in their own bow, to answer them in their own language, as he once did those bold Babel builders, Genesis 11:4 . Go to, say they; Go to, saith he: Let us build up to heaven, say they; Let us go down, and see that building, saith he: Let us make us a name, say they; Let us confound their language, that they may not so much as know their own names, saith he: Lest we be scattered, say they; Let us scatter them abroad in the world, saith he. Thus God worded it with them, and confuted their folly from point to point. And the like he will do with ignorant people at that great day. Depart from us, say they now to God, Job 21:14 ; Depart from me, ye cursed, will he then say to them. We desire not the knowledge of thy ways, say they, ibid. ; Therefore I have sworn in my wrath, that you shall never enter into my rest, saith he. Ye have loved darkness better than light, ye shall therefore have your belly full of it in the bottom of hell. God loves to retaliate, as we may see here, and go no farther. "Because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee; seeing thou hast forgot the law of thy God, I will also" (to cry quittance with thee) "forget thy children." Thus, by giving ignorant persons their own, he will so silence them, and even button up their mouths, that they shall stand speechless, as being self-condemned.
For lack of knowledge ] Propter non scientiam, for mere nescience, for such an ignorance as is privative only, and of pure negation, which doth somewhat excuse a tanto, though not a toto; as in that servant that knew not his master’s will, yet did commit things worthy of stripes, and had a few, Luke 12:48 . But Israel’s ignorance was more than all this, and a great deal worse. "For did not Israel know?" Romans 10:19 , and "have they not heard?" yes, verily. Hos 4:18 No people under heaven like them for that, Psalms 147:19 . But they rejected knowledge, and affected ignorance; they hated the light, and loved darkness better. This was the condemnation, the mischief of it, saith our Saviour, who (besides this wilful ignorance, that mother of mischief, and main support of Satan’s kingdom) laid down his life for the nesciences, the not-knowings of his people, δια των αγνοηματων , Hebrews 9:7 , and prayed for his persecutors at his death: "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."
Because thou hast rejected knowledge ] And that out of an utter hatred of it (as the Greek word made of the Hebrew signifieth, מאם thence μισεω ), out of deep disdain, as of a thing below thee, and vile in thine eyes, not worthy of thy pains, or pursuit. Wisdom is the principal thing (saith Solomon, and he meaneth that wisdom that hath the fear of God for its foundation), therefore get wisdom, Proverbs 4:5 . It is here called hadagnath , that knowledge, by an excellence, and with an accent, in opposition to that science, falsely so called, 1 Timothy 6:20 ; that knowledge that puffeth up, 1 Corinthians 8:1 , as it did Joseph Scaliger (that gulf of learning), for whom it had been happy, that he had been ignorant but of this one thing, that he knew so much. It is the "acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness" (as the apostle describeth it, Tit 1:1 ), that perfects the best part of a man, that confirmeth, settleth, guideth, discerneth, differenceth him from others, who are no better than brutes (though wise in their own generation, as are the fox, serpent, &c.), and maketh his face to shine, Ecclesiastes 8:1 , as St Stephen’s did, who was taught of God, and mighty in the Scriptures. This holy knowledge was highly prized by Agur, Proverbs 30:2 , but slighted by those two slubbering priests, the sons of Eli, sons of Belial, they knew not the Lord, 1 Samuel 2:12 ; they knew him apprehensively, but not effectively; they professed that they knew God, but in their works they denied him, being abominable, and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate, Titus 1:16 . "He that saith, I know him" (saith St John, 1Jn 2:4 ), "and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." Many of these Jeroboam’s priests were ignorant asses; like that bishop of Durkelden, in Scotland, who boasted, yea, thanked God, that he never knew what the Old and New Testament was, and that he would care to know nothing but his Portuise and his Pontifical; or that idol pastor in Germany, who being asked by the visitors, whether he taught his people the Decalogue? answered, that he had not the book so called (Joh. Manl. loc. com.). Others of them, that knew more of God’s mind, yet neither cared to practise it, nor to teach transgressors God’s ways, that sinners might be converted unto him, Psalms 51:13 .
I will also reject thee ] And that with a witness, with an unwonted and extraordinary rejection, as the Hebrew word, Veemaseka (not found elsewhere in the same form), seemeth to import (Tremel. in locum); God will kick such ignoramuses out of the priesthood, cast them out of the hearts of his people, throw them to the dunghill, as unsavoury salt; yea, so reject them, as never to be received again, Ezekiel 44:13 . God will shake them out from his house, and from his labour, Nehemiah 5:13 (as the Tirshatha did those apostate priests, Ezr 2:63 ), and lay them by, as broken vessels of which there is no further use; taking from them even that which they seemed to have, Luke 8:18 , and blasting their gifts. See Zechariah 11:17 , See Trapp on " Zec 11:17 "
Seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God ] i.e. All that holy learning which thou, being a priest, oughtest to have and to hold in firm and fresh remembrance, for the good of the poor people, which, by thy default, is cut off for lack of knowledge, even the knowledge of the salvation by the remission of their sins, which thou shouldest have given them, Luke 1:77 , not by infusion, but by instruction, which is the priest’s proper office. But thou (alas) hast forgotten that little of my law thou once hadst attained unto; and art grown as very a dolt and dotard as Theodorus Gaza (once a great scholar, but), in his dotage so ignorant, that he knew not his letters; he could not read. Nay, thou art not only a silly ass, but a slow belly; all thy care is for fat sacrifices and benefices, thy wits are in thy belly, and thy guts in thy brain; hence thy forgetfulness of my law, and of my people’s welfare. The Arabic translation hath it thus, "Inasmuch as thou hast loved this, and the consolation, therefore I will reject and forget thee," &c. Demas forsook Paul, and embraced this present world; yea, he became afterwards a priest in an idol temple at Thessalonica, as Dorotheus testifieth. The Vulgate Latin translation rendereth this text in the feminine gender, quia oblita est, against all grammar and good reason; for the Lord here speaketh to the priest, and chiefly to the chief priest, qui certe femina non erat, who certainly was not a woman, saith Polanus, who sure was no woman; unless the old interpreter (like another Balaam’s ass) would have this to have been spoken against the see of Rome, wherein Pope Joan sometime sat, A.D. 854. Sure it is, that the arch-priests of Rome are so delighted in the feminine gender, that they had rather attribute the breaking of the serpent’s head to a woman, the Virgin Mary, than to the "man Christ Jesus"; for in their last edition of the Latin Bible, they print, Genesis 3:15 , Ipsa conteret tibi caput, She shall bruise thine head, &c. Thus Polanus.
I also will forget thy children ] Thy spiritual children, say some, even that whole people who saluted their priests (as the Papists do their padres) by the name of father, and observed their institutes. But they do better that understand the text of their natural children, whom God here threateneth to forget, that is, to put them by the priest’s office, as he threatened Eli, 1 Samuel 2:30 , and thrust out Abiathar, 1 Kings 2:27 , fourscore years after. It is a dreadful thing to be forgotten of God. We take it ill to be forgotten of a friend, and to be as a dead man, out of mind, Psalms 31:12 . O take heed that God forget not us and our children: that he cast not off the care and keeping of us. He is so liberal a Lord, and doth so little forget our labour of love and patience of hope, as that he provideth for the posterity of his people: Psalms 69:36 , "The seed also of the servants shall inherit it: and they that love his name shall dwell therein." Who then would not hire himself to such a master; who would not remember God’s law and teach it others, if but for his poor children’s sake, who else will rue for it?
Hos 4:7 As they were increased, so they sinned against me: [therefore] will I change their glory into shame.
Ver. 7. As they were increased ] sc. in number, wealth, and honour. Their prosperity undid them, they flourished at this time in court and country, they waxed fat and kicked. The priests are here accused of detestable ingratitude, and of insufferable pride and insolence.
As they were multiplied or magnified, they have sinned against me ] That is, they have abused my gifts to my great dishonour. Like fed hawks, they have forgotten their master. Nay, like young mules, which, when they have sucked, turn up their heels and kick their dam; so did these haughty and haunty priests. Their hearts were fat as grease, they were enclosed in their own fat, but they delighted not in God’s law, Psalms 17:10 ; Psalms 119:70 . Cum ipsis opibus lascivire coepit Ecclesia, saith Platina. The Church began to be rich and wanton at once, rich and riotous. They had golden chalices, but wooden priests, repugnante ceutra teipsum felicitate tua, as Salvian saith to the Church in his time: thy prosperity is thy bane. What would he have said if he had seen the pope in his princely state, thundering from his capitol, and heard their big swollen titles of Padre benedicto, Padre Angelo, Archangelo, Cherubino, Seraphino? &c. Ammianus Marcellinus, a heathen historian, inveighed against the bishops of Rome, even in those purer times, for their pride and luxury. Odi fastum illius ecclesiae, saith Basil, I hate the haughtiness of that Western Church. It caused the lamentable separation of the Greek Church from the Latin; the other four patriarchs (not without the like pride and stomach) dividing themselves from the bishop of Rome, and at their parting using these or the like words: Thy greatness we know, thy covetousness we cannot satisfy, thine encroaching we can no longer abide: live to thyself. And yet, if they could have held them there, and shunned those evils which they blamed in others (walking humbly with God, and committing themselves to him in well doing), they might have flourished to this day. But wrangling away the truth, and contracting rust with long ease and prosperity, God was forced to scour off their rust with bloody war by the Turks. Of whom these Churches, being in fear and danger, fled to carnal combinations: sent and subjected themselves to the bishop of Rome, that they might have his help. But all in vain; for shortly after they were destroyed, and lost all. God covered them with confusion, and turned their glory into shame. So he hath done the Roman glory in part, and will do more every day (Parei Medull.).
Roma diu titubans variis erroribus acta,
Corruet: et mundi desinet iste caput.
God will cast dirt in the faces of proud prelates, he will stain the pride of all glory, cast upon them with ignominy, Isaiah 23:9 , reproach, Proverbs 18:3 , crush their crown with a woe, Isaiah 28:1 , change their glory (their dignity and greatness wherein they gloried) into shame, not without much bitterness in the change, as the Hebrew word אמיר here used seemeth to import. Miserum enim est, fuisse felicem.
Hos 4:8 They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity.
Ver. 8. They eat up the sin of my people ] That is, the sin offerings, as Exodus 29:14 . This they might lawfully do, Leviticus 6:16 ; Leviticus 6:18 ; Leviticus 6:23 ; Leviticus 6:26 ; Leviticus 6:29-30 ; Leviticus 10:17 . But they were greedy dogs; and looked every one to his gain from his quarter, Isaiah 5:6 ; Isaiah 5:11 . They winked at the people’s sins, and cared not what evils they fell into, so that they would bring in store of fat and good expiatory sacrifices, which made for the priest’s advantage. They ate that on earth which they were to digest in hell; they fed upon such diet as bred the worm of conscience, that never dies. Just so the Papists do at this day: they teach the people, though they sin, yet, by giving money for so many masses to be mumbled over by a greasy priest, or by so many indulgences and dirges purchased of the pope’s pardon mongers, they shall be delivered, etiamsi, per impossibile, matrem Dei vitiassent. although impossible, they may damage the mother of God, I tremble to translate it. Tecelius told them so in Germany; and got huge masses of money for the pope’s coffers. The common sort of Papists (for want of better teaching) will say, when we have sinned we must confess: and when we have confessed we must sin again, that we may confess again; and make work for new indulgences and jubilees. But have these "workers of iniquity no knowledge, that eat up God’s people as they eat bread?" Psalms 14:4 , that drink up the blood of souls, much more worth than the lives that David’s men had jeopardized to procure him the water of the well of Bethlehem, which therefore he dared not drink of? This surely is that filthy lucre ( αισχροκερδεια ) ministers should be free from, 1 Peter 5:2 . Let all non-residents look to it, that carry only forcipes et mulctrum, tongs and a milking pail, those instruments of a foolish shepherd, Zechariah 11:15 See Trapp on " Zec 11:15 " feeding themselves, but starving the flock: a heavy account will they one day make to the arch-shepherd, of their sacrilegious rapacity.
And they set their hearts on their iniquity ] Heb. they lift up their souls: that is, they not only prick up their ears, as Danaeus expounds it, to listen after sins and sin offerings, but they greedily desire and earnestly look after Such emoluments, such belly timber: being gulae mancipia, slaves to their guts, and wholly given up to gormandise. See the same expression, and in this sense, Jer 22:27 Deuteronomy 24:15 Ezekiel 24:25 , and compare the practice of Popish priests, who make infinite gain of everything almost, as their ringing of saints’ bells, places of burial, selling of licences for marriage and meats, selling of corpses and sepulchres. All things are saleable and soluble at Rome; and the savour of gain sweet, though it comes out of a stinking stews, or Jew’s counting house. The priests had a trick by wires to make their images here wag their chaps apace, if some good gift were presented; as, if otherwise, to hang the lip in token of discontent.
Hos 4:9 And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings.
Ver. 9. And there shall be like people like priest ] i.e. they shall share alike in punishment, as they have done in sin; neither shall their priesthood protect them, any more than it did Eli’s two sons, whose white ephod covered foul sins. A wicked priest is the worst creature upon earth. Who are devils but they that were once angels of light? and who shall have their portion with the devil and his angels but those dehonestamenta cleri malae monetae ministri, bad lived ministers. It was grown to a proverb in times of Popery, that the pavement of hell was pitched with soldiers’ helmets and shavelings’ crowns. Letters also were framed and published as sent from hell; wherein the devil gave the Popish clergy no small thanks, for so many millions of souls as by them were daily sent down to him. The priests might haply hope to be privileged and provided for in a common calamity, for their office sake; as Chrysostom saith that Aaron (though in the same fault with Miriam, Numbers 12:1 , yet) was not smitten with leprosy as she, for the honour of the priesthood ( δια το της ειροσυνης αξιωμα . Chrys.), lest such a foul disease on his person should redound to the disgrace of his office. But I rather think he escaped by his true and timely repentance; whereby he disarmed God’s indignation, and redeemed his own sorrow and shame. For God is an impartial judge; neither is there with him respect of persons: priest and people shall all be carried captive one with another (the priests for the people, according to that of Isaiah 6:5 , "I am a man of polluted lips": for what reason? "I live among a people of polluted lips," and have learned their language; and especially the people for the priests, Jeremiah 23:10 ; Jeremiah 23:14-15 ; from the prophets there goes profaneness quite through the land), so they shall fare the worse one for another; they shall all be involved in the same punishment. Only it shall be more grievous to the priest, by how much higher thoughts he had of himself; looking on the people as his underlings, as they did, John 7:49 .
And I will punish them for their ways ] Heb. visit them. So Exodus 32:34 , "In the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them." God hath his visitation days wherein to visit those visitors, the priests; and his articles will be as strict and as critical (saith one) as ever was the Inquisition of Spain or Lambeth. It was therefore good counsel that a martyr gave his wife in a letter, Among all other prisoners visit your own soul, and set all to rights there: for else, what will you do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what will you answer him? Job 31:14 . And that which Tertullian gave Scapula, a pagan persecutor; Si nobis non parcis, tibi parce: si non tibi, Carthagini: God will surely make inquisition for our blood: therefore if thou wilt not spare us, yet spare thyself; if not thyself, yet spare thy country, which must be responsible when God comes to visit.
And reward them for their deed ] Heb. I will make to return your doings. Hence this is well observed, by a good interpreter: Sin passeth away in the act of it with much sweetness; but God will make it return back again in the guilt of it, with much bitterness.
Hos 4:10 For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD.
Ver. 10. For they shall eat and not have enough ] Only they shall be filled with their own ways, Proverbs 14:14 , but that is but to feed upon the wind with Ephraim, Hosea 12:1 , which breedeth nothing but troublesome belching, or a dog-like appetite (as they call it), that cannot be satisfied ( Bουλιμια , appetitus caninus desire of a dog). These greedy dogs, the priests, that did eat up the sins of God’s people, and thought to have fullly gorged themselves therewith, they met with that sore plague of unsatisfiableness for the present (a man may as soon fill a chest with wind as soul with wealth ( Non plus satiatur cor auro quam corpus aura, Aug.); see Ecc 5:10 ) See Trapp on " Ecc 5:10 " and for the future they coveted an evil covetousness to themselves, for they got God’s curse along with their illgotten goods which will bring them to a morsel of bread they have not only sucked in the air, but pestilential air, that not only not fills them, but kills them too. See Trapp on " Hag 1:6 "
They shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase ] The Chaldee renders it, They shall take wives, but shall not beget sons. Sol et homo generant hominem, saith the philosopher; but unless God, the first agent, concur, that cannot be neither. Lo, "Children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward," saith David to his son Solomon, who found it true by experience, Psalms 127:3 , for by all his wives and concubines (no less than a thousand) he had but one son that we read of and he was none of the wisest; nothing like Edward VI, whom alone Henry VIII left (with his two sisters) to succeed him; though he had so many wives and concubines. Wantonness is a sin commonly punished with warn of posterity: especially when it is accompanied with obstinace in evil courses, as in Ahab who, to cross God’s threat of rooting out him and his posterity, took many wives; and so bestirred him, that he begat of them seventy sons, but with evil success; for they were all cut off in one day, 2 Kings 10:7 . Wicked men must not think to carry it against God; and to have their wills al disputo di Dio, as that profane pope said; and as that graceless Ahaziah, who sent a third captain, after that the former two had been consumed by fire; as if he would despitefully spit in the face of heaven, and wrestle a fall with the Almighty. Let no man expect to prosper in unlawful practices, to increase by whoredom, as these profane priests sought to do, that they might be full of children (anyhow): and leave the rest of their substance to their babes, Psalms 17:14 . But fertility is not from the means (right or wrong), but from the author (many a poor man hath a house full of children by one wife; while Solomon hath but one son by many houses full of wives), and Job could tell that whoredom is a fire that consumeth to destruction, and would root out all his increase, Job 31:12 .
Because they have left off to take heed to the Lord ] God is not bound to render a reason for his proceedings, yet doth it oft, as here, that he may be justified, and every mouth stopped. Their apostasy is here shown to be the cause of their calamity. There was a time when they took some heed to God and his ways: they kept close to him, and observed his commandments to do them (as the word here importeth), but now they had left off to be wise, and to do good, Psa 36:3 until their iniquity was found to be hateful, and themselves altogether filthy, Psalms 53:3 , wicked doers against the covenant, Daniel 11:30 ; Daniel 11:32 . Apostates cannot choose unto themselves a worse condition, 2 Peter 2:20 ; 2 Peter 2:22 Matthew 12:43 ; Matthew 12:45 , let them look to it. Hath ever any waxed fierce against God and prospered? Job 9:4 ; even of late my people are risen up against me as an enemy, Micah 2:8 , but what will they do in the end thereof?
Hos 4:11 Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.
Ver. 11. Whoredom and wine and new wine have taken away the heart ] i.e. Have robbed my people of themselves, and laid a beast in their room. Any lust allowed and wallowed in will eat out the heart of grace; and, at length, all grace out of the heart. Hence temporizers grow in time so sapless, heatless, and heartless to any good; some unmortifled lust or other there is, that, as a worm, lieth grubbing at the root, and makes all to wither; that, like a drone in a hive, proves a great waster; that, as a moth in fine cloth, consumes all; or, as the light of the sun, puts out the light of the fire: so here. But, above all others, sensual sins and fleshly lusts (such as are here instanced, whoredom and drunkenness) do war against the soul, 1 Peter 2:11 , do take away the heart; they besot and infatuate a man, they rob him of his reason, and carry away his affections, &c. Grace is seated in the power of nature. Now these carnal sins disable nature; and so set it in a greater distance from grace. They make men, that formerly seemed to give light as a candle, to become as a snuff in a socket, drowned in the tallow; or as a quagmire, which swallows up the seed sown upon it, and yields no increase. Who are void of the Spirit but such as are sensual? Judges 1:18-19 . And who are they that say unto God, Depart from us, but those that dance to the timbrel and harp, &c., Job 21:11 . "They saw God, and did eat and drink," Exodus 24:11 ; that is, say some, though they had seen God, yet they turned again to sensual pleasures: as if it had reference to that eating, and drinking, and rising up to play, upon the dedication of their calf, which was presently after. Aristotle writeth of a parcel of ground in Sicily that sendeth forth such a strong smell of fragrant flowers to all the fields and grounds thereabouts, that no hound can hunt there; the scent is so confounded with the sweet smell of the flowers. Let us see to it that the pleasures of sin take not away all scent (and sense too) of heavenly delights; that the flesh, as a siren, befool not Wisdom’s guests, and get them away from her, Proverbs 9:16 ; as Aelian tells of a whore that boasted that she could easily get all Socrates’ scholars from him, but he could not recover one again from her. Indeed, none that go unto her return again, saith Solomon, Proverbs 2:19 , for she gets their hearts from them: as David found, and Solomon complained. David was never his own worthy again, after he had fouled himself with that beastly sin. And Solomon, when he gave himself to wine and women (though his mother had sufficiently warned him, Pro 31:3-4 ), he quickly took hold of folly, Ecclesiastes 2:3 , his sensualities drew out his spirits and dissolved him, and brought him to so low an ebb in grace, that many question his salvation. Bellarmine reckons him among reprobates: but I like not his judgment. Let ministers of all men (this is spoken of the priests chiefly, as some think) see to it that they flee fleshly lusts: that they exhort the younger women with chastity, as St Paul did Timothy: and drink (if any, yet but) a little wine for their health’s sake: remembering that the sins of teachers are teachers of sins; and that their evil practices flee far upon those two dangerous wings of example and scandal. Ministers should be no winebibbers or ale stakes, 1 Timothy 3:3 , ne magis solliciti de mero quam de vero, magis ament mundi delicias quam Christi divitias, lest being "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God," that should befall them that Solomon foretelleth, Proverbs 23:33 , thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Venter aestuans mere spumat in libidinem, a belly filled with wine foameth out filthiness, saith Jerome. Wine is the milk of Venus, saith Aristotle. Vina parant animos Veneri, saith Ovid. Whoredom is usually ushered in by drunkenness: hence they stand so close together in this text.
Hos 4:12 My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused [them] to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God.
Ver. 12. My people ask counsel at their stocks ] That is, at their images, which are here called stocks in contempt, as Hezekiah called the brazen serpent (when it was idolized by the people) Nehushtan, or, a piece of brass; and as Julius Palmer, martyr, called the rood in Paul’s a jackanapes; and as the poet, in contempt of his own god Priapus, brings him in saying
“ Olim truncus eram ficulnus, inutile lignum. ”
So the prophet cries shame upon the house of Israel for saying to a stock, Thou art my father, and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth, Jeremiah 2:27 Isaiah 44:11 . But to such senseless practices men fall many times when they grow sensual; see 2Th 2:10 Revelation 17:5 . Spiritual whoredom and bodily go usually together. Rivet tells us here of a nobleman that went out of the church from hearing mass into the very next house, where he kept a whore; and said to the bystanders, a lupanari ad missam unum tantum esse passum, that there is but one step from the mass to a whore house.
And their staff ] That is, saith Kimchi, their false prophets, upon whom they lean, and by whom they are led, as a blind man by his staff. But I rather think it is meant of rhabdomancy, a a kind of odd way of divining by rods and staves, as Nebuchadnezzar is brought in doing, Ezekiel 21:22 , and was common in those eastern parts. Or else hereby are meant the soothsayers’ and magicians’ rods, as Exo 7:12 Hebrews 11:21 . It is said that Jacob worshipped leaning upon the top of his staff, and thereby lifting up his body to do reverence to God, where the Vulgate text, omitting the preposition, hath committed a manifest error, in saying that Jacob worshipped the top of his rod or staff; as if there had been some picture there engraven. The Hebrew is, towards the bed’s heads. And it is certain that Jacob worshipped none but God; and bowed himself either towards the bed’s head, or leaning upon his staff, to testify his humility, faith, and hope, which adoration how far it was from the worshipping of images (which the Papists urge from this place), who seeth not?
For the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err ] That unclean spirit, Zechariah 13:2 , the devil (who is ειδωλοχαρης , as Synesius saith, a delighter in idols), drives them satanico impetu, to commit whoredom, both spiritual and corporal, with strength of affection. Now, if that spirit of error, 1 John 4:6 , and of giddiness, Isaiah 19:14 , cause men to err, and carry them with a vehement impetus to idol worship (which indeed is devil worship), what wonder? Men that are that way bent know not of what spirit they are; little think that they are acted and agitated by the devil. O pray with David, Psalms 143:10 , that that good Spirit of God may lead us into all truth and holiness.
And they are gone a whoring from under their God ] i.e. from under the yoke of his obedience; they are gone out of his precincts, and therefore also out of his protection; as a whore that forsaketh her husband, and is therefore worthily cast off.
a Divination by means of a rod or wand; spec. the art of discovering ores, springs of water, etc., in the earth by means of a divining rod. ŒD.
Hos 4:13 They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof [is] good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery.
Ver. 13 They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, &c. ] As nearer to heaven; and in an apish imitation of the patriarchs, who, before the tabernacle was set up, sacrificed in high places (as Abraham on Mount Moriah, &c.), that their bodies being mounted, aloof, they might the better lift up their hearts and eyes to heaven, saying, as it were, to all worldly cares and cogitations, as Abraham did to his servants whom he left at the foot of the hill, "Abide you here with the ass," Genesis 22:5 . Jerome upon this place hath his note: Israel, saith he, loveth high places, for they have forsaken the high God; and they love the shadow, having left the substance. But what could be more absurd than to think, as they did, that God, who is omnipresent, was nearer to them on hills and high places, and farther off them in valleys. See Isa 57:7 Ezekiel 6:13 . This they had partly also learned of the heathens; from whom nevertheless God had shut them up, as it were, in an island (so their land is called, Isa 20:6 ), that having little commerce with them, they might not learn their manners. But our nature is very catching this way; and doth as easily draw and suck idolatry to it as the lode stone doth iron, or turpentine fire.
Under oaks, and poplars, and elms, because the shadow thereof is good ] So they proceed from one evil to another; for sin is infinite, and when a man is fallen down one round of hell’s ladder he knows not where he shall stop, or how he shall step back. These idolaters, as they had their high places in imitation of the patriarchs, so their groves of shady trees consecrated to their idols; to strike reverence into their hearts, as they conceited, and for the greater solemnity. Sin comes commonly clothed with a show of reason, Exodus 1:10 . Come, let us deal wisely, say they: yet every oppressor is a fool, Proverbs 28:16 . It will so blear the understanding that a man shall think he hath reason to be mad, and that there is some sense in sinning. But especially will worship hath a show of wisdom, Colossians 2:23 , or the reason of wisdom, as the word there signifieth, the very quintessence of it. Hence the Papists write rationals, whole volumes of reason for their rites and ceremonies in divine service, - the shadow is good, say these, therefore we get under trees. (See Dr Sheldon’s Mark of the Beast, serm.) And John Hunt, a blasphemous Papist, in his humble appendix to King James, chap. vi, was not afraid to say, That the God of the Protestants is the most uncivil and evil mannered God of all those who have borne the name of gods upon the earth; yea, worse than Pan, god of the clowns, which can endure no ceremonies nor good manners at all. O tongue worthy to be pulled out, cut in gobbets, and driven down the throat of this hideous blasphemer; for he could not but know the God of the Protestants (as he scornfully termeth him) to be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Did not Rabshakeh rail after this rate upon good Hezekiah, for taking down the high places and altars of God (as he called them), which yet God well approved of? 2 Kings 18:22 . Mr Burroughes maketh mention of a lady in Paris, who, when she saw the bravery of a procession to a saint, she cried out, Oh, how fine is our religion beyond that of the Huguenots? They have a mean and beggarly religion, but ours is full of solemnity and bravery, &c. The Catholics, in their supplication to King James for a toleration, plead that their religion is ( inter cratera ) so pleasing to nature, and so suitable to sense and reason, that it must therefore needs be the right. A proper argument surely; and not all out so convincing as that of Cenalis, Bishop of Auranches, who, writing against the Christian congregation at Paris, and basely slandering their meetings, as if they were to maintain whoredom, will, in conclusion, needfully prove (if he could) the Catholics to be the true Church, because they had bells to call them together; but the Huguenots had claps of harquebuses, or pistolets, for that purpose.
Therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom ] Impune, they shall do it, and for a punishment of your idolatry; and inasmuch as you have prostituted your souls (that is, my spouse) to the devil, your houses shall be whore houses, to your utter disgrace and heart break. Certain it is, that where there is most idolatry there is most adultery; as at Rome, which is nothing else but a great brothel house, and hath fully made good that of the poet;
“ Roma quod inverso delectaretur amore,
Nomen ab inverso nomine fecit Amor. ”
Thus God punished the idolatrous Ethnics, by delivering them up to passions of dishonour, or vile affections; to Sodomitical practices, which did abase them below those fourfooted beasts which they adored, Romans 1:23-24 . Some put off all manhood, became dogs, worse than dogs, scalded in their own grease, εξεκαυθησαν , Romans 1:27 , and this is there called a meet recompense, αντιμισθιαν , such as God here threateneth. Mr Levely (a very learned interpreter) thinketh that when God saith here, Your daughters shall commit wboredom, and your daughters-in-law (for so he renders it) shall commit adultery, he meaneth it not of voluntary whoredom, but of that which is forced, according to that of Amos to Amaziah Amos 7:17 , "Therefore thus saith the Lord thy wife shall be a harlot in the city, and thy sons and daughters shall fall by the sword"; that is, thy wife shall be ravished by the enemy. Theodoret also is of the same judgment.
Hos 4:14 I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people [that] doth not understand shall fall.
Ver. 14. I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom ] q.d. I will not once foul my fingers with them, or be at pains to correct them but they shall take their swing in sin for me &c. Origen in a certain homily, quoting this Scripture, saith, Vis indignantis Dei terribilem vocem audire, &c. (Hom. 8 in Exo 20:1-26 ): Will you hear the terrible voice of a provoked God; hear it here, I will not punish, &c. You shall be without chastisement, for an argument that you are bastards, and not sons. Never was Jerusalem’s condition so desperate as the time when God said unto her, "My fury shall depart from thee, I will be quiet and no more angry," Ezekiel 16:42 . Feri, Domine, feri, cried Luther, Strike, Lord, strike, and spare not.
“ Ferre minora volo, ne graviora feram. ”
There is not a greater plague can befall a man than to prosper in sinful practices. Bernard calleth it misericordiam omni indignatione crudeliorem, a killing courtesy. Ezekiel 3:20 , I will lay a stumbling block before him: that is, saith Vatablus, I will prosper him in all things, and not by affliction restrain him from sin. Job surely counts it for a great favour to sorry man, that God accounts him worth melting, though it be every morning; and trying, though it be every moment, Job 7:17-18 . And Jeremiah calleth for correction as a thing that he could not well be without: "Correct me, O Lord," &c.
For themselves are separated with whores ] God seemeth to speak this to others by change of person: Ac si puderet ipsum cum putidis hircis verba facere, as if he were ashamed to speak any longer to such stinking goats (Rivet). Separates they were, but of the worst sort. They separated themselves with harlots, they got into byways, far from company (especially of those that know them), that they might more freely act filthiness (Auson.). But what could the heathen say, Turpe quid acturus, Te sine teste time. Shameful what he will do, fear you without witness. Conscience is a thousand witnesses: and men must not think long to lie hidden; for God will be a "swift witness against the adulterers," Malachi 3:5 , See Trapp on " Mal 3:5 " and, it may be, "bring them into all evil, in the midst of the congregation and assembly," Proverbs 5:14 . See Trapp on " Pro 5:14 " Some render it, they beget bastards, such as the mule is (which also hath his name pered, from this root, yithparedu ). Or they shall be unfruitful as the mule. Wantonness is commonly punished with want of children. See Trapp on " Hos 4:10 " Those children that they had took after them, it appeareth here, they were naught by kind, as being an adulterous generation, a seed of evildoers, a race of rebels; and therefore it was no matter how little they multiplied. Let those that have children, and others under their charge, keep home as much as may be; and not be separate from their families (with whores especially), lest their daughters meanwhile commit whoredom (counted but a trick of youth, a sin that that slippery age may easily slip into, and not easily be descried, Pro 30:19 ), and their spouses commit adultery, by occasion of their lewd absence, and to cry quittance with them at home. Let them also make Nebuchadnezzar’s law, that none under their roof say or do aught "against the God of heaven," Daniel 3:29 ; and themselves be first in the practice of it, as so many living laws, walking statutes; so may they hope to keep their houses chaste and honest, and provide for the credit and comfort both of themselves and of theirs.
And they sacrifice with harlots ] Heb. Holy harlots, sacrificing harlots, such as Solomon speaketh of, Proverbs 7:14 , and as those wicked women that lay with Eli’s sons at the door of the tabernacle, 1 Samuel 2:22 . Or as King Edward IV’s holy whore, as he used to call her, that came to him out of a nunnery, when he wished to send for her (Speed). His kinsman, Louis XI of France (knowing his disposition), invited him to the court, promising him his choice of beauties there, and adhibebimus tibi Cardinalem Burbonium, then shall Cardinal Bourbon impose penance on you, and absolve you of all your misdoings (Comin.) It is well enough known what foul work the heathens made at their sacra Eleusinia, Bacchanalia, Lupercalia, Priapdia (the same with the sacrificing to Baal Peor, as Jerome holds). And to these this text may seem to refer; and this people too have separated themselves to that shame.
Therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall ] Heb. shall be beaten, as some render it, shall be perplexed, and troubled, so as they know not what to do, or how to help themselves, as Aben Ezra from the Arabic. The Chaldee interprets it collidetur, shall be dashed in pieces. Ignorance is much instanced and threatened in this chapter, three or four different times at least. Not because men sin only by ignorance, as the Platonists think, Omnis peccans est ignorans; but, 1. To aggravate the hatefulness of this: sin, which men use so to excuse and extenuate; 2. To taunt and abase the rebellious nature of man, who now is set in gross ignorance, and ready to pitch headlong into hell, as the just reward of his aspiring and reaching after forbidden knowledge; 3. Because ignorance (affected especially) is the source of many sins, and a main support of Satan’s kingdom. See Trapp on " Hos 4:1 " See Trapp on " Hos 4:6 " &c.
Hos 4:15 Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, [yet] let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor swear, The LORD liveth.
Ver. 15. Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend ] Lest if God lose his glory among them too, he lose it altogether. Judah was grown almost as bad as Israel (in the days of that stigmatic Ahaz especially, 2Ch 28:22 ); Aholibamah, as Aholibah, Ezekiel 23:36 . But let it not be so, saith the prophet, since not to be warned by the harms of another is a just both presage and desert of ruin. Alterius igitur perditio tua sit cautio. Therefore by their destruction, let you be warned. Seest thou another shipwreck? look well to thine own tackling. God will take that from Israel which he will not from Judah; because these had many means and privileges that the other had not; as the temple, priests, ordinances, &c. Now good turns aggravate unkindness; and men’s offences are increased by their obligations. Judah was and would be therefore the worse, because they ought to have been better. And God can better bear with aliens than with his own people, when they offend. The Philistines may cart the ark, but if David do it woe be to Uzzah. You only have I known of all the families of the earth, therefore (whosoever escape) I will punish you for all iniquities, Amos 3:2 . The unkindness of your sins is more than all the rest: it grieves God’s Spirit, and goes near his heart.
Come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven ] Alias Bethel, the house of God, so called by Jacob, who there had visions of God, and said, "How fearful is this place! It is even the house of God and gate of heaven." But now it was become the hate of heaven, and gate to destruction, as being abused to idolatry. Corruptio optimi fit pessima. Corruption of the best become the worst. Bethel is become Bethaven, the house of iniquity and misery, of sin and of sorrow: for "their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god," Psalms 16:4 . The word gnatsabim, there rendered sorrows, signifieth also idols, Psalms 115:4 ; Psalms 106:36 , because they that worship them are sure of sorrows.
Come not therefore to Gilgal, &c. ] Gilgal was the key of Canaan, situated between Jordan and Jericho, famous for various services there performed to God, as were easy to instance; but now basely abused to idol worship. Hence this charge (and the like in Amo 5:5 ) not to come near it; and the rather because it was a border town, and so more dangerous. "Keep thee far from an evil matter," saith Moses, Exodus 23:7 ; "Come not nigh the doors of the harlot’s house," saith Solomon, Proverbs 5:8 . From such stand off, or keep aloof, saith Paul, 1 Timothy 6:5 . Shun them as the seaman doth sands and shoals, as the same apostle’s word, στελλεσθαι , imports, 1 Thessalonians 3:6 . A man cannot touch such pitch but he shall be defiled; nor live any while in Mauritania but he shall be discoloured. Cum fueris Romae, &c. Let them look to it that so much affect to see Italy, Rome, the pope, the mass &c. But, "What dost thou here, Elijah?" may God well say, as 1 Kings 19:9 . What protection hast thou here, either from infection of sin or infliction of punishment? Saith not the heavenly oracle, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues," Revelation 18:4 . Mr Ascham (school master to Queen Elizabeth) was wont to thank God, that he was but nine days in Italy: wherein he saw in that one city of Venice more liberty to sin than in London he ever heard of in nine years. And is it safe pressing into such pest houses? tampering with such temptations? Tertullian tells of a Christian woman, who being at a play, was possessed of a devil. And when he was asked by those that came to cast him out, how he dared possess one that was a Christian, he answered, I found her in mine own place. Take heed, therefore, ye come not where the devil hath to do. He that doth so, and yet prays, "Lead us not into temptation," may as well thrust his finger into the fire, and then pray that it may not be burnt.
Nor swear, The Lord liveth ] i.e. Swear not by God and Malcham, Zephaniah 1:5 , make not a mixture of religions; halt not between two opinions, think not to serve two masters, Matthew 6:23 . What agreement hath Christ with Belial, or the temple of God with idols? 2 Corinthians 6:15 . Cast away (saith one to a neuter passive, Nicodemus) either thy wings or thy teeth; and loathing this bat-like nature, be what thou art, either a bird or a beast (Dr Hall, Epist. to W. Laud). There were (belike) in Judah, that thought they could both frequent places of idol worship, and serve Jehovah, swearing by his name. God will have none of that; if he be served by men at all he must be served truly, that there be no halting, and totally, that there be no halving, To swear vere, rite, iuste, truly, solomnly and justly, as Jeremiah 4:1 , is a piece of God’s service, and we may well reckon it among our good works. But to swear by idols, or before idols, made to represent the true God (as those bugs at Dan and Bethel, &c.), or by the creature, Matthew 5:24 , is utterly unlawful. It is a great dishonour to God, and a great dishonour to ourselves also; for we always swear by the greater, Hebrews 6:16 .
Hos 4:16 For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place.
Ver. 16. For Israel slideth back, as a back sliding heifer ] Iuvenea petulca, as an unruly heifer, which kicketh against the milk pail, and wriggleth against the yoke. As a mad cow, δαμαλις παροιστρωσα , so the Septuagint. Mr Dearing told Queen Elizabeth in a sermon, that whereas once she wrote in Woodstock windows, tanquam ovis, as a sheep to the slaughter; now she was tanquam indomita iuvenca, as an untamed heifer; and might well fear lest God would feed her as a lamb in a large place as here, and feed her with his rod, as Micah 7:14 . The Chaldee rendereth, sicut bos qui saginatur et recalcitrat, as an ox that waxeth fat and kicketh. But the Hebrew word is feminine; and in all creatures, the female is observed to be more headlong and headstrong. (Virg. Georg. III):
“ Scilicet ante omnes furor est insignis equarum. ”
Heifers also are more wild, wanton, and untractable: noting the children of disobedience, those refractory rebels: that, as false jades, will not stand and pull (as countrymen call it), set their shoulders to the yoke, and their sides to the work, but give in and kick against the prick.
Now the Lord will feed them as a lamb in a large place ] i.e. He will keep them short, as a heifer kept in a sheep pasture, where there is nothing for her to bite on, it is so bare. A lamb can live where a heifer cannot; a lamb can pick up the grass of the wilderness, and pick a living out of it. God threateneth these heifers, they shall have henceforth short commons. Thus Gaulther carries it. Mercer will have it thus: I will feed them as a lamb, i.e. daintily and plentifully, that being the sooner fatted, they may be fitted for the shambles. Other thus, and I think better, he shall feed them, that is, punish them, as Micah 5:4 ; Micah 5:6 ; Mic 7:14 as a lamb, one single helpless lamb, that goes bleating up and down in the wide waste wilderness, having none to tend it, or take care of it: it shall be all alone in a large place. How much better and safer were it to be in God’s fold, where (though penned, or pent up in a narrower room, yet) God’s lambs are sure to be fed daily and daintily. Whereas those that affect freedom from God’s service, and hold themselves at best ease when they have elbow room enough to satisfy their lusts without restraint or control, they shall be fed with God’s rod, Micah 7:14 , yea, they shall find that he hath two rods, beauty and bands, Zechariah 11:7 , the latter for those that fight the former. Or if he feed them as a lamb in a large place, alone, and at random, they will quickly become a prey to the wolf, and soon have enough of that wild liberty that they so much affected.
Hos 4:17 Ephraim [is] joined to idols: let him alone.
Ver. 17. Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone ] Ephraim, that is, the ten revolted tribes, who are called Ephraim in opposition to Judah: 1. Because that tribe was the greatest of the ten; 2. Jeroboam, the ringleader of that revolt, was of that tribe; 3. They rebelled at Shechem, which was in that tribe, and from thenceforth was joined or glued to idols, as the fornicator is to his harlot, with whom he becometh one flesh, and from whom there is no dissuading him. Some fetch the metaphor from enchanters; who by their conjuring art have society and fellowship with the devils; so had Ephraim with idols; and like an enchanted person, he could not stir from them, but stood fastened to them as to a stock or stake. The Tyrians, when besieged by Alexander, fearing the departure of their god Apollo from them, laid chains upon his statue, and fastened him to his temple. Ephraim was so fastened to his idols ( terriculis so Junius renders this text) that there is no likelihood of his being sundered from them: he had taken fast hold of deceit, Jeremiah 8:5 , and would not loose his hold. Let him alone, therefore, saith either God to the prophet (lay out no more words, lose no more labour upon him) or the prophet to Judah; let them even go, have nothing to do with them, though they be your brethren, meddle not with them; let Christ alone, to deal with them at his coming: Maranatha, the Lord cometh. Meanwhile, they lie under a dreadful spiritual judgment, worse than all the plagues of Egypt; even a dead and dedolent disposition, whereunto they are delivered. This is worse than to be delivered to Satan: for so a man may be, and recover out of his snare by repentance, as the incestuous Corinthian did: but when God shall say, Let such a man alone, let him take his course, I have done with him, and let my ministers trouble themselves no more about him, there is thenceforth but an inch between him and hell, which even gapes for him, where he shall rue it among reprobates. Well he may flourish a while, and feel no hurt; as Saul did not of many years after his rejection; and as the Pharisees, after Christ had said of them, "Let them alone, they are blind leaders of the blind," Matthew 15:14 ; but they shall pine and swelter away in their iniquities, Leviticus 26:39 , which is the last of those dismal plagues there, threatened; they shall not be purged till God s wrath hath rested upon them, Ezekiel 24:13 , so that now they may go and serve every one his idols, since they have such a mind to it, Ezekiel 20:39 , and since they have made a match with mischief, they may take their belly full of it. Oh let us fear, lest this should be any of our cases; that God should say, Let him alone, be is resolved of his way, and I of mine; he will have his swing in sin, and I am bent to have my full blow at him. "I am fully persuaded" (saith a reverend man, now with God) "that in these days of grace the Lord is much more quick and peremptory in rejecting men than heretofore: the time is shorter, neither will he wait so long as he used to do." See for ground of this, Hebrews 2:8 , God is often quick in the offer of his mercy: Go and preach the gospel, saith Christ (go, and be quick: tell men what to trust to, that, as fools, they may not be semper victuri, always conquerers, ever about to be better, but never begin to set seriously to work), "He that believeth shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned": I shall not longer dally with him. "Destruction cometh, and they shall seek peace, and there shall be none. Mischief shall come upon mischief, and rumour upon rumour; then shall they seek a vision of the prophet; but the law shall perish from the priest, and counsel from the ancients," Ezekiel 7:25-26 ; when men are even dropping into hell, and have a hell beforehand in their consciences, then they will send hastily for the minister, as they did in the sweating sickness here, so long as the ferventness of the plague lasted. Then the ministers were sought for in every corner, you must come to my lord, you must come to my lady, &c. But what if God had said of such a one, Let him alone, as he reproved Samuel for mourning for Saul, and as he forbade Jeremiah to pray for the Jews, and his apostles to take care for the Pharisees? Oh how dreadful is that man’s condition! and what can a minister say more than what the king of Israel said to the woman that complained to him of the scarcity of Samaria, "If the Lord help thee not, whence shall I help thee? out of the barnfloor, or out of the winepress?" 2 Kings 6:27 . If any dram of comfort be applied to a wicked man, the truth of God is falsified, and that minister will be reckoned among the devil’s dirt daubers and upholsterers, that daub with untempered mortar and sew pillows under men’s elbows, Ezekiel 13:18 . Let such alone, therefore, and let God alone to deal with them.
Hos 4:18 Their drink is sour: they have committed whoredom continually: her rulers [with] shame do love, Give ye.
Ver. 18. Their drink is sour ] That is, they are past grace, and it is now past time a day to do them good: for thou seest how the matter mends with them, even as sour ale mends in summer: and how they even stink above ground, as Psalms 14:2 . Vina probantur odore, colore, sapore, &c., but their wine hath neither good colour, smell, nor savour or taste; it is dead and gone, and they are as trees twice dead and rotten, and therefore pulled up by the roots, such as the Latins call vappae, worthless fellows, that is, past the best, and now good for nothing: see Isaiah 1:22 . What life or sweetness can be in apostates? yea, how sour and unsavoury to such are all fleshly comforts! They use to drink away their terrors, and drive away their melancholy dumps with merry company. But will that hold? what are such plasters better than the devil’s drugs, than his whistle, to call men off from better practices? There is a cup in the hands of the Lord, it is full of mixture, but extremly sour; and the very dregs thereof all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them up, Psalms 75:8 , though it be eternity to the bottom.
They have committed whoredom continually ] Here they are taxed for whoredom, as before for drunkenness (so some carry it), and afterwards for covetousness. This is that chariotmen of shame, flagitiorum trigae, whereby the prophet persuadeth Judah to shake off Israel, as not fit to be conversed with. He had charged them before with fornication of both sorts; here he showeth how unwearied they were in their wickedness, and in addition how intense, for fornicando fornicati sunt, they have done wickedly as they could, they have eked out their idolatries and adulteries, and though wearied and even wasted with the multitude of their wickedness, yet they have not given over, but are unsatisfied, and would sin in perpetuity: as that filthy fornicator who said he would desire no other heaven but to live for ever on earth, and to be carried from one brothel house to another. "She hath wearied herself with lies, and yet her great scum went not forth out of her: therefore shall it be in the fire," Ezekiel 24:12 . Therefore shall graceless wretches be tormented for ever, because they would sin for ever; and therefore suffer all extremity, because they do wickedly with both hands earnestly, Micah 7:3 ; woefully wasting the marrow of their time, the flower of their age, the strength of their bodies, the vigour of their spirits, in the pursuit of their lusts, in the froth and filth whereof is bred that worm that never dieth; which is nothing else but the furious reflection of the soul upon its own once wilful folly, and now woeful misery.
Her rulers with shame do love, Give ye ] Her shields (oh shameful!) do love, Give ye; where there is in the original an elegant alliteration that cannot be translated, אהבו הבו Dilexerunt Afferte, not Afferre, as the Vulgate corruptly readeth it. The Doric dialect, the horse leech’s language, Give, Give, they are perfectly skilled in: δωροφαγια , gift-greediness, is all their delight: like the ravens of Arabia, that fullgorged, have a tuneable sweet record, but empty, screech horribly. Plerique officiarii, saith one: Very many rulers do as Plutarch reporteth of Stratocles and Dromoclites, a couple of corrupt officers, qui sese mutuo ad messem auream invitare solebant, who were wont to invite one another to the golden harvest, thereby meaning the court, and the judgment seat (Plutarch in Politic.). These follow the administration of justice as a trade only, with an unquenchable and unconscionable desire for gain: which justifieth the common resemblance of the courts of justice to the bush, whereunto while the sheep do flee for defence in weather, he is sure to lose part of his fleece. Now are these shields? are they not rather sharks? Are they protectors, and not rather pillagers, latrones publici, public robbers, as Cato called them? These shields of the earth belong to God, saith David, Psalms 47:9 , should they not then be like him "Now there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor accepting of persons, nor receiving of gifts," 2 Chronicles 19:7 , neither by, himself nor by his man Elisha, nor by his man’s man Gehazi, without distaste. By one period of speech, by one breath of the Lord, are they both forbidden: Deuteronomy 16:18-20 , "Thou shalt not respect persons, nor receive a gift": For what reason: "A gift doth blind the eyes of the wise," yea, it transforms them into walking idols, that have eyes and see not, ears and hear not: only it leaveth them hands to handle, that the very touching whereof will infect and venom a man, as Pliny writes of the fish Torpedo. Let such, therefore, shake their hands from bribes, Isaiah 33:15 , as Paul shook off the viper: and be so far from saying, Give ye, that he should rather say to those that offer it, "Thy money perish with thee." "He that hateth gifts shall live," Proverbs 15:27 . Jethro’s justice of peace should be a man of courage, fearing God, hating covetousness, Exodus 18:21 ; not bound to the peace (as one phraseth it) by a gift in a basket, nor struck dumb by the appearance of angels.
Hos 4:19 The wind hath bound her up in her wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.
Ver. 19. The wind hath bound her up in her wings ] The evil spirit (saith Jerome) hurries them towards hell, which is the just hire of the least sin; how much more of these afore mentioned abominations! Take it rather to be spoken of the suddenness, swiftness, and unresistableness of God’s judgments, set forth by mighty winds rending the rocks, and tearing up the mountains by the roots, Job 38:9 . How then shall wicked men (compared to chaff or "dust of the mountains") stand before the tempest of God’s wrath, the thunder of his power? Well they may applaud and stroke themselves for a time; but the wind shall bind them up in her wings; God shall blow them to destruction, Job 4:9 : his executioners have the "wings of a stork," large and long, and "wind in those wings," to note their ready obedience, Zechariah 5:9 . And although, Ezekiel 1:26 , God be represented as sitting upon a throne to show his slowness to punish, yet that "throne hath wings and hands under those wings," to show his swiftness and readiness to do seasonable execution upon his enemies.
And they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices ] Wherein they trusted, but now see themselves disappointed, their idols not able to help them. Then shall they cast their idols of silver and of gold, which they have made each for himself to worship, "to the moles and to the bats, to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks," Isaiah 2:20-21 ; see also Isaiah 30:22 . If they be not thus ashamed of their former fopperies, they are the more to be pitied, Illum ego periisse dice cui periit pudor. He is an undone man that shames not, does not hesitate for his evil practices, that blusheth not, bleedeth not before God for them, lying down in his shame, Jeremiah 3:25 , as fully ashamed of his former hopes, Psalms 119:116 , which now he seeth how far they have abused him.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Hosea 4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24