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Hos 5:1 Hear ye this, O priests; and hearken, ye house of Israel; and give ye ear, O house of the king; for judgment [is] toward you, because ye have been a snare on Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor.
Ver. 1. Hear ye this, ye priests ] For you are not so wise but that ye may "hear and increase learning," Pro 1:5 Hosea 4:6 ; and besides, from you is profaneness gone forth into all the land, Jeremiah 23:15 . For you, therefore, in the first place, I have a citation to appear before God’s tribunal to hear your sin and your sentence, your crime and your doom. God cited Adam immediately and by himself, Genesis 3:9 , "Adam, where art thou?" so he did Cain, Laban, Nabal, and others, when he sends for them by death, saying as once to that pope, Veni miser in iudicium, Come away, and hear thy sentence. Centum revolutis annis Deo respondebitis et mihi. Mediately he citeth men by the mouth of his ministers; as he did the Council of Constance by his faithful martyr, John Huss, and his word stood: and as he doth here the three estates of the kingdom, priests, people, and princes, by the prophet Hosea. That was very strange and extraordinary, that Mr Knox reporteth in his history of Scotland, of one Sir John Hamilton, murdered by the king’s means; that he appeared to him in a vision with a naked sword drawn, and strikes off both his arms with these words, Take this before thou receive a final payment for all thine impieties: and within twenty-four hours two of the king’s sons died. It is, indeed, but part of their punishment that wicked men here receive, seem it never so grievous, when God entereth into judgment with them, as here it is said.
For judgment is toward you ] That is, I am about to pronounce sentence against you, and to do execution: and therefore hear, hearken, and give ear, the first, second, and third time I admonish you, that ye may know that my citation is serious and peremptory: and that your damnation sleepeth not. Priest and people are set before the house of the king; because theirs was sedes prima, et vita ima, a high place but a low life (Salvian). And besides, courtiers and great men, though they be in other cases forward enough to take the places of others, yet in point of punishment they slink back, and are well content that others should go before them. God regards none for his greatness ( potentes potenter torquebuntur ), neither spareth he any for his meanness, or because they were borne down either by the laws or lives of their superiors. The people are here placed between the priests and princes, and with them appealed and impreached, to show how frigid and insufficient their excuse is, who plead that they did but as they were taught by their ministers, and as they were commanded by their governors. "Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment," as it is in Hosea 5:11 . See Trapp on " Hos 5:11 "
For judgment is toward you ] Vengeance is in readiness for the disobedient, be he what he will, Caesar or captive, lord or losel, priest or people; every whit as ready in the Lord’s hand as in the minister’s mouth, 2 Corinthians 10:6 , neither shall multitudes privilege or secure them. Though they be quiet or combined, and likewise many, yet thus shall they be cut down, when he shall pass through, Nahum 1:12 , yea, though they be briers and thorns that set against him in battle (and those never so much strengthened and sharpened), yet God will "go through them, and burn them together," Isaiah 27:4 , he will cut off the spirit of princes, and destroy a whole rabble of rebels that rise up against him.
Because ye have been a snare on Mizpah ] That God may be justified and every mouth stopped, a reason is here rendered of his most righteous proceedings, and the same recited (after the manner of men) in the preamble to their condemnatory sentences.
Because ye have been a snare on Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor ] These were two very high hills, much haunted by hunters, and frequented by fowlers, to whom these idolaters (striving to catch people, ritibus suis velut retibus et laqueis, with their nets and snares of errors and superstitions) are fitly compared. For they lie in wait for men’s souls, and catch many of them either by persuasions or punishments, by allurements or by causing fear, as Julian the apostate did of old, and as the Papists do at this day. That Jeroboam and his counsellors set watchers in these two mountains, to observe who would go from him to Judah to worship, that he might intercept them and punish them, is a plausible opinion, but lacks proof. I know what is alleged, viz. 1Ki 12:28 Hosea 6:8 , according to the Vulgate translation. I confess also that it is not unlikely that such things should be done then (as lately wait was laid by the Papists for such as had a mind to betake themselves to Geneva, Tygur, Basil, &c.) for conscience’ sake. It is more probable that upon those high hills idolatry was committed, Hos 4:13 See Trapp on " Hos 4:13 " and thereby people insnared, as birds and wild beasts are in the mountains; and so made slaves to the devil, and even fatted for his tooth. Hence in the next words,
Hos 5:2 And the revolters are profound to make slaughter, though I [have been] a rebuker of them all.
Ver. 2. And the revolters are profound to make slaughter ] They lay their nets and snares deep, and lie down upon the ground, that they may take the silly birds that dread no danger. He "croucheth and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall into his strong paws," Psalms 10:10 . He studies the devil’s depths, Revelation 2:24 ; poisonous and pestilent policies, Machiavellian mysteries of mischief. His head is a forge and fountain of wicked wiles: he hath store and strength of strange traps and trains, frauds and fetches, to draw in and deceive the silly simple. That these seducers were deeply revolted, Isaiah 31:6 , they had deeply corrupted themselves, Hosea 9:9 , they sinned not common sins; as Korah and his accomplices died not a common death. They made great slaughter of men’s souls, and of their bodies too, that refused to yield to them. Craft and cruelty seldom sundered in seducers: as some write of the asp that he never wanders alone, without his companion with him; and as those birds of prey and desolation, Isaiah 34:16 , it is said that none of them lack their mate. The devil lendeth them his seven heads to plot, and his ten horns to push and gore, &c.
Though I have been a rebuker to them all ] Heb. a correction ( מוסר ). Understand it either to be the prophet, that he had dealt plainly with them, and done his utmost to reclaim them, yet they refused to be reformed, hated to be healed; We would have cured Babylon, but she would not be cured: or else of God, that he had both by words and scribes rebuked their superstitions, but nothing had wrought upon them. They "were tormented with the wrath of God, but repented not to give him the glory," Revelation 16:9 . Corripimur, might they say, sed non corrigimur; plectimur, sed non flectimur. See how God complains of this stubbornness, Jeremiah 6:28-30 , and learn to tremble at his rebukes, to profit by his chastisements, lest a worse thing befall us. "The just Lord is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame," Zephaniah 3:5 . There are those who take the words passively, and render them thus, Ego vero illis omnibus castigationi sum, I have been rebuked or corrected by them all. See the like, Lamentations 3:13 , and in the Psalms often: I am a reproach to mine enemies: Thou makest us a reproach to all that are round about us, &c. So the prophet here may seem to complain, as Jeremiah did after him, that he was "born a man of contentions, that all the people cursed him," that he was a common byword and but mark: that they sharpened their tongues against him and flew in his face. To preach, saith Luther, is nothing else but to derive the rage of the whole world upon a man’s self, totius orbis furorem in se derivare. Wisdom (that should be justified of her children, εδικαιωθη ) is again judged of her children, as some read those words of our Saviour, Matthew 11:19 , iudicatur vel sententia pronunciatur. But I like the active sense better.
Hos 5:3 I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me: for now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, [and] Israel is defiled.
Ver. 3. I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me ] Those that by Ephraim understand the princes, and by Israel the common people, etiam hoc operae addant, et illud ex Scriptura probent, saith Tarnovius, let them prove what they say by Scripture, and we will say with them: till then we take them for synonyms ( Repetitione etiam auget populi rebellionem. Rivet ). A hypocritical nation they were, Isaiah 9:17 , and atheistically they thought, by hiding God from themselves, to hide themselves from God. Hear them else, Hosea 12:8 , "And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance: in all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin": that were a heinous business that iniquity should be found in them, though they were a people laden with iniquity, Isaiah 1:4 . But I know them through and through, intus et in cute, saith God, I am privy to all their plots and policies. And although they are profound to make slaughter (Tyndale reads it, They kill sacrifices on heaps to deceive), yet let not them be deceived, I am not mocked. They must not think to put me off with shows and shadows; to colour and cover their base spirits and vile ends with specious pretences. For I search the hearts, and try the reins: "neither is there any creature" (no, not the creature of the heart, the thoughts and intentions) "that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and open" (naked for the outside, γυμνα , and open for the inside; the Greek word, τετραχηλισμενα , signifieth dissected, quartered, and as it were cleft through the backbone) "before the eye of him with whom we have to deal," Hebrews 4:13 . Indeed, he is all eye; and every man before God is all window, ολοφθαλμος : so that no man needeth a window in his breast, pectus clathratum (as the heathen Momus wished), for God to look in at. "For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings. There is no darkness nor shadow of death where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves," Job 34:21-22 . "His eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men," Psalms 11:4 . The former points out his knowledge, the latter his critical descant. David, Psalms 139:8 , findeth God not only at his finger ends, but at his tongue’s end too, Hosea 5:4 . His knowledge stays not here in the porch or lobbies, but passeth into the presence, yea, privy chamber, Hosea 5:2 , yea, my thoughts in potential before I think them. Deus intimo nostro nobis intimior. The word is to God a sea of glass, Revelation 4:6 , a clear transparent body: "and his eyes are as a flaming fire," Revelation 1:14 , which needs no outward light, because it seeth extramittendo by sending out a ray; so that the "night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to him," Psalms 139:12 . What wonder therefore though he know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from him? And how should this both humble them (for which cause it is here urged) and caution them for the future, as it did that holy man, who had written upon the walls and windows of his study these verses,
“ Ne pecces, Deus ipse videt, bonus Angelus astat,
Accusat Satanas, et lex, mens conscia culpae. ”
For now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, and Israel is defiled ] In body and soul, rushing into all impiety without restraint; working all uncleanness with greediness, Ephesians 4:19 , being filled "with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness: full of envy, murder, debate, deceit," &c., Romans 1:29-30 . All these evil things "come from within, and defile a man," Mark 7:23 , worse than any leprosy, worse than the vomit of a dog, or the mire of a swine. It is the pollution of flesh and spirit, 2 Corinthians 7:1 , it is the putrefication of a dead carcase, the sanies of a plague sore, the devil’s excrement, and that which defileth far worse than that which is cast into the draught, Mark 7:21 . It sets defilement upon ourselves, others, the whole land, Jeremiah 3:1 , yea, upon the visible heavens, which must therefore be purged by that last fire. And this was typified by those many Levitical washings and purifications of garments, vessels, persons. "Wash you, therefore, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings," &c., Isaiah 1:16 . "Wash thy heart from wickedness, O Jerusalem," not thy hands only, as Pilate, though those too, Jam 4:8 Jeremiah 4:14 . "Cleanse yourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit," 2 Corinthians 7:1 . Of the flesh, that is, fleshly lusts and gross evils, as uncleanness, earthly mindedness; or of spirit, that is, those more spiritual lusts that lie more up in the heart of the country, such as are pride, creature confidence, self-deceit, presumption, &c. Out with all these: there is both a stain and a sting in them. Run to the bath of Christ’s blood, that blessed fountain, Zechariah 13:1 , and there wash and be clean. Look not upon God’s Jordan with Syrian eyes, as Naaman did. Abanah and Pharpar may wash and scour; but Jordan is for cure. And if God see fit to lay us a frosting to fetch out our filth, yea, or cast into the fire to take away our defilements, let us be contented.
Hos 5:4 They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms [is] in the midst of them, and they have not known the LORD.
Ver. 4. They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God ] Or, their doings will not suffer them. That is, they are so habituated and hardened in sinful practices, that they are not only disenabled to conversion, but evil affected thereunto: they stand across to all good; to their sinews of iron they have added bows of brass, Isaiah 48:4 ; to their sin they add rebellion, which is as bad as witchcraft, 1 Samuel 15:23 ; till at length they lose all passive power also of being converted, and so are transformed, as it were, into so many devils: having by custom contracted a necessity of sinning, they are become incurable; they neither will nor can return to their God; they will not frame their doings to it. The Vulgate hath it, their studies, the Septuagint, their counsels, Castalio, their endeavours, Pagnine, their pains, &c. The original is very elegant and metrical, לשׁיב אל־אלהיהם לא יתנו מעלליחם I scarce know a like text in all the Scripture, unless it be that in Lamentations 5:16 , אוי־נא לנו בי חטאנו , "Woe to us that we have sinned!" which is so elegant also in the original, that master Wheatly of Banbury (who used to be very plain in his preaching, and not to name a Greek, Latin, or Hebrew word) quoted it once in the Hebrew, as witness learned Master Leigh, who lived some while under his ministry (Master Leigh’s Saints’ Encouragement, &c. ep. dedic.). But to return to the text: whereas some might possibly conceive or reply, Ephraim is far gone indeed, but he may return. No, never, saith God; for he will not give his mind to it, or show his good will: he is even set, and there is no removing of him; he hath made his conclusion, and is as good as ever he meaneth to be. They are so far from yielding themselves unto the Lord, as 2 Chronicles 30:8 , that they stand in full opposition to him, yea, send messages after him, "We will not have this man to rule over us." The Jews were an untoward generation, saith Peter, Acts 2:40 ; they, by their obstinate refusal of the gospel, judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life, saith Paul, Acts 13:46 : there were unmalleable, unframeable, so knotty, that they were fit for nothing but the fire; so nasty, that they were fit for no place but the dunghill. And why?
The spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them ] The devil is at inn with them, as Master Bradford said; he even sits abrood upon them, hatching all manner of evil counsels and courses, he worketh effectually in these children of disobedience, Ephesians 2:2 , as a smith doth in his forge, an artificer in his shop; he acts them and agitates them, making their souls and all the powers thereof nothing else but a shop of sin, their bodies and all the parts thereof tools of sin, their lives and all their actions of both soul and body a trade of sin, a web of wickedness spun out and made up by the hands of the devil and the flesh, an evil spinner, and a worse weaver. Hence they lie rotting all their lives long in the graves of sin, wrapt up in the winding sheet of hardness of heart (they will not frame their doing to turn to God) and blindness of mind (they have not known the Lord); and as a carcase crawleth with worms, so do these men swarm with those noisome lusts, that are able to poison up an honest heart. How can it be otherwise? the spirit of fornication is in the midst of them, as a king in his kingdom; yea, hath filled their hearts from corner to corner, as he had done the hearts of Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:3 . That unclean spirit besiegeth the purest hearts, and compasseth them about, seeking to devour them, 1 Peter 5:8 , but they keep him out, "stedfast in the faith," or if he in any way get in, they quickly cast him out again; so that he cannot long rest or roost, much less reign there; for the Spirit of God keepeth them, and that evil one toucheth them not tactu qualitativo, with a deadly touch, 1 John 5:18 (Cajetan); they regard not iniquity in their heart, there is no way of wickedness found in them. Of the spirit of whoredoms. See Trapp on " Hos 4:11 "
And they have not known the Lord ] He knows them well enough, Hosea 5:3 , and they shall know it, Jeremiah 16:21 , to their cost; but they know not the Lord, sc. savingly and effectually, for if they did, they could not be so vile and vicious, so loose and licentious. A man is properly said to know no more of God’s mind than he practiseth; like as of our Saviour it is said, that "he knew no sin," that is, he did none, 2 Corinthians 5:21 ; with an intellectual knowledge he knew it (how else could he reprove it), but not with a practical; and as it is said of Eli’s two sons, that they "knew not God," because they obeyed him not. Lo, such was the ignorance of this people, affected and acquired; and this is the peccatorum omnium fons et fomes, the mother of all mischief and misery, as hath been often set forth in the notes upon the former chapter.
Hos 5:5 And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity; Judah also shall fall with them.
Ver. 5. And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face ] Pride is the great pockmark of the soul; it will bud, and cannot be hidden, Ezekiel 7:10 . It is the grandiabolo, that filthy spirit is gotten into the midst of men, into the very heart of the country as it were. It is the leprosy of the soul that breaks forth in the very forehead, and so testifieth to his face. It proceeds from ignorance of God and his will, of a man’s self and his duty; hence that connection of this verse and the former. They "know not the Lord"; and the "pride of Israel testifieth to his face." The Laodiceans were therefore proud, because ignorant: thou knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, &c. So those question-sick fantastics in St Paul were "proud, knowing nothing," 1 Timothy 6:4 . "And I would not have you ignorant of this mystery," saith he to the Romans, Romans 11:25 , "lest ye should be puffed up in your own conceits." Humble Agur, though full of heavenly light, yet vilifies and nullifies himself to the utmost, Proverbs 30:2 , and so exemplifies that proverb of Solomon, "with the lowly is wisdom," Proverbs 11:2 . And as wisdom maketh the face to shine, and humility rendereth a man lovely, so pride, on the contrary, sitteth in the face, and deformeth it. The proud man flattereth himself in his own lies, till his iniquity be found to he hateful, Psalms 36:2 , till his swelling break forth in loathsome ulcers. Thus Miriam’s pride testified to her face, and Uzziah’s, and Sodom’s, Isaiah 3:9 ; the show of their countenance witnessing against them. Pride is a foolish sin, it cannot keep in, it will be aboveboard, and discover itself by lofty looks, big swollen words, proud gait, ridiculous gestures, garish attire, that nest of pride; but especially by stoutness and stubbornness against God and his ways (as here in this text it is to be taken), when men commit sin with a high hand, and, as it were, in despite of God, and on purpose to cross him. Hence it is that God so hateth this sin above other; for whereas all other sins flee from God, pride lets fly at him, nay, flies in his face, saying, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey him?" Hence he will be a swift witness against such, and a severe judge. Learned Mr Levely reads this text thus: "The excellency of Israel" (that is, God, as Amo 8:7 2Sa 1:19 ) "will testify to Ephraim’s face," give in evidence against them. He will indeed be index, iudex, vindex sign, judge and protector to such; for he resisteth the proud, and delighteth to stain their glory, to cast dirt in those faces of theirs, that are so hatched with impudence, as to face the very heavens, and to contest with omnipotence. Hence their fall with a violence, with a vengeance.
Therefore shall Ephraim and Israel fall in their iniquity ] Corruet, they shall fall with a push, with a powder, as we say, and in their iniquity, that is worse than all the rest. "Ye shall die in your sins," saith Christ to those rebellious Jews, John 8:21 ; that was a great deal worse than to die in prison, to die in a ditch, or in the world’s disfavour. Or, "in their iniquity," that is, for their iniquity, which is indeed the cause of calamities. At the loss of Calais, when a proud Frenchman demanded of an English captain, When will you fetch Calais again? he gravely replied, Quando peccata vestra nostra graviora, When your sins shall weigh down ours. If any man ask (saith Tarvonius upon this text), Unde hodie tanta passim in Germania vastitas? efficit hanc peccatorum atrocitas. Whence so great desolations in Germany? It is for the grievousness of our iniquity. Why, this was better yet than the result of that consultation held once at Hamburg by some of his Lutheran fellow ministers concerning the cause and cure of Germany’s calamities. They concluded (saith Mr Burroughes, vol. i. p. 465, on Hosea, from the mouth of a minister there, who told it him with grief) that it was because their images in churches were not adorned enough, which therefore they would procure done. A sad business! Solomon would have told them that it is a man’s pride that brings him low, Proverbs 29:23 . And that "before destruction the heart of a man is haughty," Proverbs 18:12 . And that "pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall," Proverbs 16:18 . If the pride of Israel doth testify to his face, the next news we shall hear of him is, that "Israel and Ephraim are fallen in their iniquity." A bulging wall cannot stand; a swelling sore will shortly break. "This shall they have for their pride, because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the people of the Lord of hosts. The Lord will be terrible unto them; for he will famish all the gods of the earth," &c., Zephaniah 2:10-11 ; all those deunculi, those pretty pictures that men so much dote upon; which should not be suffered, if for nothing else, yet for the distraction they may cause in divine worship. In the council chamber of the Lacedaemonians no picture or image was allowed, lest in consultation of weighty matters their minds thereby might be distracted. Irenaeus reproveth the Gnostics for their pictures of Christ, though made in Pilate’s time, after his own proportion. Austin denieth that images can be set up in churches, sine praesentissimo idololatrim periculo, without exceeding great danger of idolatry. Epiphanius saith, it is an abomination of desolation to set up pictures in the churches of Christians. Plutarch, a heathen, saith it is sacrilege (Paul. Jovius, lib. iv.). And Solyman, the Great Turk, when he had taken Buda in Hungary, would not enter into the great church there, to give God thanks for the victory, till all the images were cast out. But this by the way only. Let us take heed by those mistaken Lutherans, whom a deceived heart hath turned aside, that we likewise fall not from our own stedfastness, Isaiah 44:20 .
Lest Judah also fall with them ] Lest we be wrapped up in the same condemnation, lest we follow Germany in her plagues, as we began apace to do in her sins; for the which we have also already severely smarted. If Judah comply with Israel in false worship, they shall fall with Israel. God is not tied to any people, but can well be without them. The Lord is with you while ye are with him. "If ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you," 2 Chronicles 15:2 . But will the Lord be certainly found of them that seek him? Yes, if they seek him seriously and seasonably, in a time when he may be found, and before he be utterly departed, Psa 32:6 Isaiah 55:6 . But here was the mistake, and the mischief of it. These apostates went to seek the Lord, and they went with their cost, but they came too late; they had sinned away their God, and wiped off all their comfortables, as Saul had done before them. "The Philistines are upon me," saith he, "and God hath forsaken me: he answereth me no more, neither by prophets nor by dreams," 1 Samuel 28:15 . It is said, 1 Chronicles 10:14 , that Saul did not inquire of the Lord, therefore he slew him. He did, and yet he did not, because he sought him not with all his heart; his devotion was feigned and forced. Now it is a rule in civil law, Ficta pro factis non habentur; nec videtur fieri quod non legitime fit. Feigned service is lost labour; neither is that done to any purpose that is not orderly done. And this was the case of these sacrificers in the next verse: Sodomites God calleth them, Isaiah 1:10 .
Hos 5:6 They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the LORD; but they shall not find [him]; he hath withdrawn himself from them.
Ver. 6. They shall go with their flocks, and with their herds ] Cursitabunt, they shall cut up and down, from altar to altar, with all their stock, as if they would buy off their sins, redeem their sorrows, with hecatombs, a large number of animals for sacrifce and store of holocausts; whole burnt offerings and then be ready to say, as that heathen emperor did, when he was to meet his enemy in the field, Non sic Deos coluimus, aut sic viximus ut ille nos vinceret (Antonin. Philosoph.). We have not so served the gods, or lived so, that the enemy should have the better of us. They thought they had merited better at God’s hands by their thousands of rams, and ten thousand rivers of oil, Micah 6:7 , than to fall, as in Hosea 5:5 , than to be relinquished by him, as here. Lo, this is the guise of graceless hypocrites: by their outward performances they think to oblige God unto them, and by their good deeds to set off for their bad. Thus Brunheldis (that French Athaliah), after many murders and much mischief wrought by her, 600 AD, built many colleges for priests and monks in Burgundy and Austria, eo scilicet beneficio maleficia sun expiavit, saith the French chronicler; thereby thinking to satisfy for all her cruelty. So here in King Stephen’s time, there were more abbeys built than in a hundred years before. So the Papists at this day spend and are spent in their blind devotions; they "lavish money out of the bag," and run up and down from saint to saint with their cost; they pray publicly in public calamities, for forty hours together, by the pope’s command, that they may pacify God, and divert his displeasure ( Quarantoras Italico nomine istas preces recant. Polan. in loc.). For the same cause they make the same man (in their greater cities appointed) to preach every day in Lent without intermission; so as six days in the week he preacheth on the gospel of the days; and on the Saturday, in honour and praise of our Lady, as they call her (Spec. Europ.). Lo, thus they go, as they think, to seek God with their will worship and work done, but they find him as little as they did here, with their flocks, and with their herds. And why? First, they go to seek him; they run, but in a wrong way; and so fulfil that sacred proverb, "He that hasteth with his feet sinneth," Proverbs 19:2 ; for the faster he runs the farther he is out. Next, they pretend to seek him, but indeed they seek themselves; they seek him, but it is to be rid of his rod; they do not so much serve him as serve themselves, and their own turns upon him; as those hypocrites in Zachary fasted to themselves; not to get off their sins, but their chains, Zechariah 7:6 . Thirdly, they go with their flocks, &c.; not mine, but theirs, saith God; he will not so much as own them, though they were tendered to him in sacrifice; because brought with a wicked mind, Proverbs 21:27 , as Balak and Balaam did, Numbers 23:1-2 , and as Cain did, Genesis 4:5 , to whom therefore God had no respect, because he brought non personam sed opus personae, not himself but his sacrifice, as Luther hath it; who also calleth all those Cainists that offer to God the work done, but present not their bodies for a lively sacrifice, Romans 12:1 . Hence he rejects their services with infinite disdain, as Isaiah 1:11-12 ; Isaiah 66:2-3 , though never so numerous and precious, Micah 6:7 Hosea 8:13 . And to set forth this, as he calleth them here, their flocks, and not his, so, fourthly, he calleth them flocks and herds, not sacrifices; that was too good a name for them. Thus, Jeremiah 7:21 , in scorn he calleth their sacrifice flesh; such as was ordinary, sold in the meat markets. And thus also, Hosea 9:4 , speaking of the meat offering appointed, Leviticus 2:5 , he calleth it, their bread for their souls, or, for their life and livelihood, the bread for their natural sustenance; and saith, it shall not come into his house, he will have none of it. See Malachi 1:7 . See Trapp on " Mal 1:7 "
But they shall not find him ] Non erit ipsis domi, non favebit eis, saith an interpreter here, he will not be at home, not within, to open to them when they knock at his door; it will be as strange to them as ever they were to him, because they bring him not that best sacrifice of a broken heart; and because they come too late when the gate of grace is shut, when the gale of grace is over, when he hath fully resolved upon their ruin, and will not repent.
When he hath withdrawn himself from them ] Heb, חלע hath snatched away himself, hath thrown himself out of their company, as Peter threw himself, επεβαλων , out from the rude soldiers into a bycorner, to weep bitterly, Mark 14:72 . Cum se proripuisset, so Beza rendereth it. When God is well pleased with his people, they can no sooner cry but he will say, Here I am, Isaiah 58:9 . And though they offer but small things unto him, as Samuel did a sucking lamb, 1 Samuel 7:9 , they are highly accepted, and graciously answered. "But woe unto them when I depart from them," saith God, Hosea 9:12 ; yea, woe upon woe when God’s soul is once disjointed from them, Jeremiah 6:8 . "An evil, an only evil, behold, is come. An end is come, the end is come: it watcheth for thee; behold, it is come," Ezekiel 7:5-6 . And why? Because God was withdrawing from them. Hence all evils came rushing in, as by a sluice. In the ninth, tenth, and eleventh chapters of that prophecy God maketh divers removals. And still, as he goes out, some judgment comes in. First he removeth from the cherubims in the oracle to the threshold, Ezekiel 9:3 , and upon that removal, see what followeth, Ezekiel 9:5-7 , &c. Secondly, he removeth to the cherubims on the right side of the house, Ezekiel 10:1 , and see what follows, Ezekiel 10:2 . Thirdly, to the east gate of the house, and the first entrance into the temple, Ezekiel 10:19 , and then see what succeeds, Ezekiel 11:8-10 . Fourthly, he removed to Mount Olivet, quite out of the city, Ezekiel 11:23 , and when God was quite gone, then followed the fatal calamity in the ruin thereof. As there is no light in the world but from the sun, no water but from the sea; so no sound comfort or happiness to be had but with and in God. Better have him angry with us than not have him at all with us. The loss of God is a piece of hell: in the suburbs whereof the saints feel themselves when but a while deserted.
Hos 5:7 They have dealt treacherously against the LORD: for they have begotten strange children: now shall a month devour them with their portions.
Ver. 7. They have dealt treacherously against the Lord ] They have dealt deceitfully in the covenant, they are a perfidious cursed crew of them; this I see well enough, saith God, though they may think to darken my eyesight with the smoke of their many sacrifices, or to stop my mouth with their great presents. See how he complaineth, as in this prophecy often, so Jeremiah 3:20 , "Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have you dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel." Now in such a case a man will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts; he will not be a pander to his own bed unless he be very base indeed, Proverbs 6:35 . Most certain it is, that God will not endure any such doings; but though he loves his spouse never so well, yet if she plays false with him, and admit any other into the bridal bed, he will forsake his house that has been so dishonest, he will leave his heritage that has been so embased, he will give the dearly beloved of his soul into the hand of her enemies, Jeremiah 12:7 , who shall hate her more than ever they loved her, as Amnon did Tamar, and deal cruelly with her, as Eze 16:1-63 is at large discoursed. The wickedness of this people was the greater, for that they pretended religion as in Hos 5:6 to their base beastly practices. Dissembled sanctity is double iniquity. See how heinously God takes it, Jeremiah 7:9-10 . And when others deal treacherously and unworthily with you, see whether you have not done as badly and worse against the Lord, Alphonsus, king of Aragon, in a speech to the pope’s ambassador, professed that he did not so much wonder at his courtiers’ ingratitude to him (who had raised various of them from mean to great estates) as at his own to God.
For they have begotten strange children ] Bastards, such as the Jews call Mamzer, as ye would say, aliena labes, a strange blot. They call them also brambles, such as was Abimelech, who grew in the hedge row of a harlot, and scratched and drew blood to purpose, Judges 9:14 . That which is here charged upon the Israelites is, that they had not only taken to wife the daughters of a strange god, or begotten bastards of harlots, but they had muzzled up their children in idolatry, and so made them sevenfold worse the children of the devil than before. This was a very great aggravation of their treachery, that they should empoison their posterity and propagate their wickedness from one generation to another; that there should be a line and a succession of it from their loins. None are so ready to drink in false principles and corrupt practices as young ones. Such parents as have a hand in undoing their children, either by ill counsel or example, are peremptores potius quam parentes, saith Bernard, rather parricides than parents. They shall give a heavy account to God for their children’s misdeeds. Let it therefore be the care of parents, as to keep themselves pure, so to see to their little ones, that they be not corrupted. Satan bears an implacable spite and hatred to them, as the seedplot of heaven; and hath his emissaries abroad to mar them. Such was Protagoras, of whom Plato reporteth, that he gloried of this, that whereas he had lived sixty years in all, forty of them he had spent in corrupting young people (Plato in Menone). Of Julian the apostate it is reported, that being of excellent parts and proof, both in learning and religion, while he was young, he was afterwards corrupted by his two heathenish tutors, Libanius and Jamblichus, through the carelessness of Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia, who should have seen better to it and that this was a main cause of his apostasy.
Now shall a month devour them with their portions ] Some read it thus, Now shall the enemy devour them month after month; others put menses for menstrua, and give this sense. Like as this people make no bones to break their faith with God by spiritual fornication, mingling as it were their seed with strange gods and foreign people; so shall it come to them which happeneth to women worn with adulteries (as Ezekiel speaketh), that their monthly diseases, procured by inordinate lust, shall eat up and consume their bodies. (See Tremel. and Jun. Annot.) For confirmation, they allege (but not so properly) Jeremiah 2:24 . I willingly concur with those that by a month understand a little short time. How soon is a month run out And yet what havoc will an enemy make in a month’s time! as we have had woeful experience in these late stripping and killing times. Them and their portions shall one month make an end of. Death heweth its way through a wood of men in a minute of time from the mouth of a murdering piece. "The sword contemneth the rod," Ezekiel 21:13 , as if it should say, What doth this silly rod do here? Let me come; I will quickly make work among them. I will dung the land with their carcases, &c., with their portions, the lots of their inheritance. Wicked men also have their portions in this life, Psalms 17:14 , they live in pleasure on the earth, and are wanton, James 5:5 , but their portion is none other but a month may devour it: their pleasure none other but one drop of an evil conscience may damp and dissweeten it. But if God be thy portion, &c.
Hos 5:8 Blow ye the cornet in Gibeah, [and] the trumpet in Ramah: cry aloud [at] Bethaven, after thee, O Benjamin.
Ver. 8. Blow ye the cornet in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah ] Clangite, clamate, not with the inverse trumpets of Furius Fulvius, which sounded a retreat when they should have sounded an alarm. But blow ye the cornet; give notice to all the country, that Hannibal est ad portas, the enemy is at the very gates, sending a summons, and sounding for a surrender. The desolation of war had been denounced in the former verse; here it is proclaimed, as it were, by sound of trumpet; the prophet acting the part of a herald; and, by a rhetorical hypotyposis, representing the enemies’ approach, as if it were already under view; and not foretold, but acted before their eyes. Rhetoric, we see here, is an art sanctified by God’s Spirit; and may lawfully be used in handling of God’s word. The Scripture is full of it in every part; and happy is that minister that thereby can make himself master of his hearers’ affections; as potent in his Divine rhetoric as Pericles or Cicero were in their human. Let him (by our prophet’s example) strive to make the things whereof he preacheth to the people as real before their eyes as possibly he can. The power of a ministry consisteth much in this: to set forth sin, Christ, heaven, hell, in such lively colours that the hearer (though unlearned) may be convinced of all, judged of all, and having the secrets of his heart made manifest, he may fall down on his face, worship God, and report that God is in the minister of a truth, 1 Corinthians 14:24-25 ; lo, this is preaching indeed. For as every sound is not music, so neither is every pulpit discourse preaching. Nihil frigidius est doctore verbis solummode philosophante (Chrysostom). Ezekiel must lay siege to Jerusalem, portraying it upon a tile, Ezekiel 4:1 . So did Jeremiah and other prophets use signs and similitudes. St Paul’s speech and preaching was not indeed with enticing words of man’s wisdom (he did not so paint the window as to keep out the light), but yet in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power, close to the conscience, 1 Corinthians 2:4 .
Blow ye the cornet in Gibeah ] That is, in the bounds of the kingdom of Judah, Gibeah of Benjamin, Gibeah of Saul.
And the trumpet in Ramah ] Samuel’s country, afterward called Arimathaea, Joseph’s country: this is said to be in the borders of Israel. Strong garrisons they were both, and places of great resort: they are now alarmed, and bidden to prepare for the approach of the Assyrian.
Cry aloud at Bethaven ] Or Bethel, as Hosea 10:15 , a city (as it is said of Athens, κατειδωλος , Act 17:16 ) wholly given to idolatry; and therefore more stupid and stubborn than the rest. Here, therefore, the prophet cries louder than ordinary, classicum canit, sic clamat ut stentora vincere possit, he sets up his note, that he may the sooner awaken them, and cause them to apprehend their danger, as present and real. Bethaven was the great place of superstition, and now Rome is the nest of Antichrist, "the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, a cage of every unclean and hateful bird": therefore the angel crieth mightily with a strong voice, saying, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen," certo, cito, penitus, surely, suddenly, utterly, Revelation 18:2 .
After thee, O Benjamin ] Who art at the back of Bethaven, and farest the worse for her neighbourhood: like as Hamath did for Damascus, Zechariah 9:2 . See Trapp on " Zec 9:2 " Some understand Hostis adest, the enemy is at thy heels; make away, or stand upon thy guard; for thou art like to be put to it. And this concise kind of warning here given implies a mind moved and disturbed, either with fear or anger.
Hos 5:9 Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke: among the tribes of Israel have I made known that which shall surely be.
Ver. 9. Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke ] Correptionis, vel Correctionis, ut Pagmnus; " When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity," &c., Psalms 39:11 . God hath a day for such sharp rebukes, or ahidings by way of conviction or argument (as the word signifieth), wherein he will be sure to carry it, with a great deal of sound reason and evident demonstration; so that Ephraim shall have nothing to say, why he should not be desolated; yea, so desolated as to make the beholders amazed thereat, as the Hebrew word importeth ( לצפה Vastari ita ut videntes obstupescant ). God will not now dally with Ephraim, or deal favourably with him as heretofore; he will not shake his rod at him only, but wait it to the very stumps; he shall be utterly destroyed from being a people; the day that now comes is a black day indeed, a day not of instruction, but of destruction, not of correction, but of execution; a very doomsday, wherein God will bring them into the furnace, and there leave them, Ezekiel 22:20 . And that none may think this sentence overly severe, or not so sure but that it might be avoided or vacated, see what followeth in the text:
Among the tribes of Israel have I made known that which shall surely be ] i.e. either, I have forewarned them sufficiently, but they would take no warning, which is both a just presage and desert for their ruin; or else thus: I am now fully resolved upon their ruin, neither is there cause that any man should deceive himself with a vain hope, as if these evils that I foretell should not befall you. Experience, the mistress of fools, shall teach you, that the sentence I now pronounce is precise and peremptory, not conditional, as heretofore, but absolute, and unchangeable; and this I here assure you of by this solemn contestation.
Hos 5:10 The princes of Judah were like them that remove the bound: [therefore] I will pour out my wrath upon them like water.
Ver. 10. The princes of Judah were like them that remove the bound ] A wickedness condemned by the law and light both of nature and Scripture, Deuteronomy 27:17 ; Deu 19:14 Proverbs 22:28 . The princes are mentioned, because corruption in a people (as putrefication in a fish) begins at the head. Now the landmark of limit is removed many ways: as, first, religione, in religion; when the true is changed into that which is false, as was here in Queen Mary’s days, against her promise to the Suffolk men (Tarnon.). Secondly, in regione, in the civil state; when one man violently invadeth the right of another (as Ahab did Naboth’s vineyard), and no man must question them, because it is facinus maioris abollae (Juvenal), the fact of a great one. Thirdly, in officio, in a man’s office or particular station, when he keeps not within his circle, but takes liberty to transgress, prescribing new worships, as 2 Kings 16:10-11 2 Chronicles 28:23 ; taking upon them to teach ministers what to teach them, as Micah 2:6 ; or themselves invading the ministerial office uncalled thereunto, as did Jeroboam, 1 Kings 12:33 ; 1 Kings 16:3 , and Uzziah, 2 Chronicles 26:16 , to their cost. This (saith an interpreter) is grandis culpa, et atrox crimen, a foul fault, a crimson crime. Let our lay preachers and levellers look to it, unless they covet a curse. Deuteronomy 27:17 , "He that breaketh a hedge, a serpent shall bite him." Fourthly, in negotio, in businesses and transactions, in contracts and covenants: he removeth bounds who defrauds and circumventeth another in any matters, 1 Thessalonians 4:6 . These must remember that God is the avenger of all such; and that it is a fearful thing to fall into the punishing hands of the living God, Hebrews 10:31 . The Papists fall foul upon us as innovators, and removers of the ancient bounds, because we reject their ecclesiastical traditions and unwritten verities (as they call them) commended unto us by the ancients, and embraced by whole nations tbr many ages. To whom we answer, that multitude and antiquity are but ciphers in divinity; they must (at least) have no more authority than what they can maintain. Let them boast, with the Gibeonites, of their old shoes, mouldy bread, &c., we hold us to the Scriptures, for our limits and landmarks unmoveable and immutable. And when they shall ask us, as they often do, where was your religion before Luther? we answer, as one once did, In the Bible, where yours never was. Erasmus met with an adversary so silly as to charge him for a remover of the ancient bounds, because he had anew translated the New Testament; a work of singular use to the Church of Christ in those dark times. (Erasm. in Apolog.).
Therefore I will pour out my wrath upon them like water ] Which shall overflow the banks to overwhelm those that remove the bounds. Yea, God will pour it upon them by whole pailfuls, or spouts (as they call them at sea). Or if but by vials, as Revelation 16:1 , which are vessels of narrow mouths, and pour out slowly, howbeit they drench deeply, and distil effectually the wrath of God, which wretched sinners shall never be able to avoid or abide. Oh when God shall set himself to set open the cataracts of his wrath as once at Noah’s flood, and to come against a sinner with a deluge of destruction, to pour out his indignation upon him, as water hastily, heavily, irresistibly, what will he do, and where will he find refuge? This made David pray so hard, "Let not the waterfloods overflow me; nor the deep swallow me up," Psalms 69:15 . It is the privilege of every godly person, that in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh to him, Psalms 32:6 . Or if they come up to his neck, yet they shall not take away his breath: for his head is ever above water. Washed he may be (as Paul was in the shipwreck), drowned he cannot be. Sink he may seem to do once and again to the bottom; but he shall up again with Jonah, if out of the deep he call upon the Lord, who will set him on a rock that is higher than he.
Hos 5:11 Ephraim [is] oppressed [and] broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment.
Ver. 11. Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment ] Calumniam passus est Ephraim, so the Vulgate hath it: Ephraim was falsely accused and slandered; he suffered much by malicious accusers, who depraved his good actions, drew him before the judgment seats, and there oppressed him, as James 2:6 . But the word here used signifieth all manner of injuries and oppressions, whether by vexatious suits, by fraud or by force, virulent tongues or violent hands, wrangling or otherwise wronging a man, to his crushing and utter undoing many times: for a poor man in his house is like a snail in his shell; crush that, and you kill him. Ephraim was crushed in judgment by his countrymen, who would do him no right; but much more by the cruel Assyrians, who soon after this carried him captive, and left him without all remedy of law, without hope of a better condition or place for a worse. And what wonder though men so set against him, when God was pouring out his wrath upon him as water? since all creatures are up in arms against God’s rebels. If the cause go against a man, though he have never so much right on his side (for often times cedit viribus aequum, might overcomes right), and he be broken in judgment, let him see whether things be right between God and himself; and if broken in judgment, let him be of a broken spirit, and he shall be relieved.
Because he willingly followed after the commandment ] He was too sequacious and obsequious to Jeroboam and his princes, commanding him to worship the golden calves. Quoniam voluit, iuvat, like a tame fool, or at least as a foolish child (so this prophet calleth him), he was soon won over, he came off with litle ado. Jeroboam did but hold up his finger, and he had him straight; a mere crass stupidity carried away to those dumb idols even as he was led, 1 Corinthians 12:2 ; a Melchite, such a generation of heretics there were in the primitive Church, so called because they followed the examples and decrees of the emperors; resolving to be of the king’s religion, whatsoever it were, right or wrong (Nicephorus). The Russians are such at this day. God and their emperor, they say, know best what is truth or falsehood; and it is their part to obey, not to inquire. But all Christ’s sheep are rational; and will try before they trust, look before they leap; the spiritual man judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged by no man, 1 Corinthians 2:15 . Show him a clear text of Scripture for what you would persuade him to, and convince him thereby that it is the mind of God, and you may have what you will of him, James 2:1 . But for these masters of opinions, such as are magistri nostri Parisienses, that obtrude their own placets upon people, and require to be believed upon their bare word without further proof, he abhors them. And for the decrees of princes and rulers, if they cross the Scriptures, he will take leave to disobey them, as the apostles did, Acts 4:19 , as the three children in Daniel did, and Daniel himself, Daniel 6:10-11 , and as all the holy confessors and martyrs both ancient and modern did. The Bishop of Norwich asked Roger Coo, martyr, whether he would not obey the king’s laws? he answered, Yes, as far as they agree with the law of God I will obey them. Then said the bishop, Whether they agree with the word or not, we are bound to obey them, if the king were an infidel. Coo answered, If Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had done so, Nebuchadnezzar had never confessed the living God. True it is that magistrates must be obeyed; those that are good must be obeyed as God, those that are bad, for God ( δια τον Yεον , Basil); but then it must be in licitis, in things lawful, and warrantable by the word and herein we must not frame excuse. The blessed Virgin, though inconvienent, went four days’ journey (so far was it from Nazareth to Bethlehem) to obey Augustus’ decree; the challenge was not so peremptory, but the obedience was as exemplary. "Whoso keepeth the commandment," sc. of the king, "shall know no evil thing," Ecclesiastes 8:4-5 . And whereas some might reply, Why, then, let us do all the king bids us without sciscitation, without further delay or inquiry; Solomon answers in the next words, "And a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment," that is, he knows both when and how, and how far forth, fitly and lawfully the commands of a king may be despatched, and no farther will he go than he can with a good conscience. The pope writing to Bernard, requiring him to do that which was unlawful, Bernard writes back again this answer, and it was taken; I as a child do not obey, and I obey in disobeying. Antigona in Sophocles saith well, Magis obtemperandum est Diis, &c.: We should rather obey God, with whom we must live ever, than men, with whom we have but a while to sojourn. Lo, blind nature saw so much. See Trapp on " Act 4:19 " It may not be forgotten or slipped over, that the word here rendered the commandment signifies Command thou, צן ; because he willingly walked after Command thou; he danced after Jeroboam’s pipe, saying to him, as he did once to Julius Caesar,
“ Iussa sequi tam velle mihi quam posse, necesse est ”( Lucan ).
Or as Tiberius answered Justin (though upon a better ground and end), Si tu volueris, ego sum si tu non vis, ego non sum; If you will be willing, so will I, if you are not willing neither am I I am only thy clay, and thy wax, utere me pro rota figulari, to use me for the potters wheel. Plaut. Or lastly, as Luther at first submitted to the pope in these words (though afterwards, God gave him more courage in his cause), I prostrate myself at your Holiness’ feet, with all that I am and have. Vivifica, occide, voca, revoca, approba, reproba, vocem tuam vocem Christi in te praesidentis et loquentis agnoscam; that is, Quicken me, kill me, call me, recall me, receive me, reject me; I shall acknowledge your voice as the voice of Christ himself ruling and speaking in you (1518 AD. Epist. ad Leon. Pontific.). Jeroboam is not once named here, nor the word (commandment) set down at large, out of detestation (likely) both of it and him, because it was a wicked commandment; and he no better than a usurper (Kimchi). For although he had it cleared to him that God’s will was that he should be king over the ten tribes, yet because it was a will of God’s decree, and not of his command, as of a duty done by him, he goes among divines for an intruder and usurper in and for that fact of his. It is obedience when we follow a divine precept; but not ever when we follow a divine instinct.
Hos 5:12 Therefore [will] I [be] unto Ephraim as a moth, and to the house of Judah as rottenness.
Ver. 12. Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth ] Their sin was the greater because they were so willing to it, and so easily drawn to idolatry, as most agreeable to their nature, and making much of their ease; which was Jeroboam’s main argument. It may very well be that he threatened punishment to those that disobeyed his commandment: but here they should have stood out, and have bid the worst; choosing affliction rather than sin; which because they did not, therefore they should perish by their own hand and counsels; they shall be moth-eaten, as a garment that breedeth the moth, and as a tree that breedeth the worm that wasteth it. Not but that God had a special hand in their punishment; and this not permissive only, but active too: "I will be unto Ephraim," &c. For is there evil in a city and he hath not done it? The changes and periods of kingdoms are of him, Psalms 75:6-7 , that men may know that the heavens do rule, Daniel 4:26 ; so are the alterations in men’s bodies and estates, as Job setteth it forth, Job 4:19 ; Job 13:28 ; Job 27:18 . Every one (say some chemists) hath his own balsam within him; his own bane it is sure he hath; his clay cottage is every day ready to drop on his head, 2 Corinthians 5:1 . And for his estate, there are often times secret issues and drains of expense, at the which it runs out, as at a hole in the bottom of the bag, Haggai 1:6 . See Trapp on " Hag 1:6 " Howbeit God’s holy hand is in all this; "I will be unto Ephraim as a moth," &c., that is, I will waste them sensim, sine sensu. Secretly, insensitively, slowly; but surely, and inevitably: this David after Job, acknowledgeth: Psalms 39:11 , "When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth," thou castest him into a corruptio totius substantive, as the physicians call the hectic: "Surely every man is vanity. Selah." Yea, he is "altogether vanity"; yea, and that in his best estate, when he is best underlaid, when settled on his best bottom, Hosea 5:5 ; when he is gotten upon his mount with David, and thinks to die in his nest with Job; when he counts upon much good laid up in store for many years, as that rich fool, that reckoned without his host, as we say, Psa 30:7 Job 29:18 Luke 12:19 . Tinea damnum facit, et sonitum non facit, saith Gregory. The moth maketh no noise, but doth a great deal of harm among clothes. The worm here, rendered rottenness, is minutissimus vermiculus, saith Luther here, a very small creature, but doth no small mischief, ( teredo ), for it eats out the heart of the strongest wood, yea, of the strongest oaken planks at sea. See here what a poor creature is man, yea, a whole kingdom, whenas a moth and a little worm may consume them; when they may be crushed before the moth, as Job speaks, Job 4:19 ; he saith not before the lion, but before the moth. Learn also to take heed of sin, yea, of secret sins, 2 Kings 17:9 , lest we be secretly wasted, our graces cast into a consumption, our comfortables wiped away, our consciences wearied with secret buffets, as being smitten with the rod of God’s mouth, Isaiah 11:4 ; our estates melted as the fat of lambs before the fire, and our land insensibly wasted, and by degrees desolated; as Ephraim and Judah were, as the Greek empire was, and as it began to be here with us, in Queen Mary’s reign, which was never prosperous after she had abolished the gospel; for beside foreign losses, of Calais, extreme dearths raged, much harm was done by thunder from heaven, and by fire in the royal navy, and all things went to worse, till Queen Elizabeth came in, "a repairer of the breach, a restorer of paths to dwell in," Isaiah 53:12 ; according to that glorious epitaph, caused by King James to be inscribed upon her princely monument by him erected.
Hos 5:13 When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah [saw] his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound.
Ver. 13. When Ephraim saw his sickness ] i.e. felt himself moth-eaten, hard-driven, and at a very great under, as those must needs be whom God setteth against.
And Judah his wound ] Heb. his ulcer, that needeth crushing to get out the filth, Jeremiah 30:13 Obadiah 1:7 . Ephraim was sick (God hath made him sick in smiting him, Mic 6:13 ) and Judah was sore, yet ulcerated, imposthumated, and they were both aware of it; but none otherwise than brute beasts, which, when they are smitten or sick, feel it, and howl out, but have not the reason to think whence the pain comes, what may be the cause and cure of it. Ephraim and Judah make out indeed for help, but they run to wrong remedies and refuges; they turn not to him that smote them, neither do they seek the Lord of hosts; therefore is not his anger turned away, but his hand is stretched out still, Isaiah 9:12-13 . If God be angry, no other help can relieve us, no creature comfort us, no combination with King Jareb secure us. In a mine, if a damp come, it is vain to trust to your lights; they will burn blue and dim, and at last vanish: you must make haste to be drawn upward if you would be safe. So must men make to God; fleeing from his anger to his grace. Blood letting is a cure of bleeding, and a burn a cure against a burn; and the running to God is the way to escape him; as to close and get in with him that would strike you doth avoid the blow. In a tempest at sea it is very dangerous to strike the shore; the safest way is to have sea room, and to keep in the main, still, &c. Jareb cannot be a defender (according to the import of his name) if God come against a people or person. Brass and iron can fence a man against a bullet or a sword; but if he were to be cast into a furnace of fire it would help to torment him; if into a pit of water, to sink him. Now our God is a "consuming fire," and his breath a stream of brimstone, Isaiah 30:33 , as a reverend man maketh the comparison (Dr Reynolds’ Sermon before Parliament, July 27, 1642).
Then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and Judah sent to king Jareb ] Or, to the king of Jareb, or to the king that should plead, and revenge his cause and quarrel. Ad regem propugnaturum, saith Junins. Help, O king, said she in the holy history. Kings should be helpers, propugnaters, protectors; sanctuaries of safety to the oppressed, whether subjects or neighbours; such as the late king of Sweden was to the oppressed princes of Germany; and before him, Queen Elizabeth to the Low Countrymen; whose protection when she undertook, the king of Sweden that then was said, that she had taken the crown off her own head, and set it upon the head of fortune. But what a madness was it in Ephraim and Judah to call in the Assyrians to their help, as they did, 2 Kings 16:7 2 Chronicles 28:16 ; 2 Chronicles 28:21 ; but especially 2 Kings 15:19-20 ; 2 Kings 17:3 . This was to invite the enemy into their kingdom, and to show gold-thirsty Babel where she might have her full draught. Thus Judea was (after the return from Babylon) lost again to the Romans, by their calling Pompey to decide the controversy between the disagreeing brethren. And such an ungainly course was attempted by John, king of England, when, being overlaid in his barons’ wars, he sent to the monarch of Morocco for aid, offering to hold his kingdom for him, and to receive the law of Mahomet; but he was rejected with scorn. Afterwards, he passed away his kingdom to the pope, in hope of help; but had so little joy of it, that he was heard to complain, Postquam me ac men regna (proh dolor) Rom. subieci Ecclesiae, nulla mihi prospera, sod omnia contraria advenerunt, I never prospered since I subjected myself and my kingdoms to the see of Rome. No more did the Greek Churches, as above hath been mentioned. "By iniquity," saith Solomon, "shall no man be established," Proverbs 12:3 . "Shall they escape by iniquity?" saith David. What! no better means and ways to help themselves by? "In thine anger cast down such a people, O God," Psalms 56:7 . It is not more a prayer than a prophecy; and it was fulfilled upon this people.
Yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound ] Kings have their names in Greek from healing (’ Aναξ from ακος , medela , cure); they should be physicians, and binders-up of wounds, as Isaiah 3:7 . (See Corn. a Lapide on that text.) But King Jareb proved a physician of no value: instead of healing the wound, he made it wider; instead of helping King Ahaz, "he distressed him," saith the text, 2 Chronicles 28:20 . The creature was never true to those that trusted to it. Such are sure to be frustrated, Jeremiah 14:3 ; subjected to God’s wrath, Psalms 78:22 ; cursed with a curse, Jeremiah 17:5-6 ; pointed at as forlorn fools, Psalms 52:7 .
Hos 5:14 For I [will be] unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, [even] I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue [him].
Ver. 14. For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion ] I, that is, my Assyrian, the rod of my wrath, will be as a lion, or leopard, a creature swift and fierce above measure. The Vulgate rendereth it a lioness, which, saith Aelian, is robustissimum et bellicosissimum animal, a most strong and stout creature; hence Semiramis gloried much when in hunting she had taken not a lion, but a lioness. "What is stronger than a lion?" said those Philistines to Samson, Judges 14:18 . See 2Sa 1:23 Proverbs 30:30 . The lion (but especially the young lion, that is in his hot blood) fears no other creature, falls upon his prey with great fury, and teareth it; carrieth it away when he hath done in his mouth, or devours it in the place, and fears no rescue. If pursued he altereth not his gait, though he die for it. Some say that he is frightened at the crowing of a cock, or the creaking of wheels. But the Lion of the tribe of Judah cannot be terrified by anything or turned out of his track. And Nebuchadnezzar, his servant, is often compared to a lion, Isa 5:29 Jer 41:7 Daniel 7:4 , as being set to work by God to revenge the quarrel of his covenant upon a perverse and perfidious nation. Hence that often repetition here of the pronoun I
even I, will tear and go away ] Tear the very core of their heart in sunder, tear them by the teeth of my terrible sword, which shall devour flesh and drink blood; yea, be drenched and drunk in the gall of these ungodly wretches. They have no way to help themselves better than to fall down flat before this Lion ( satis est prostrasse leoni. Plin. lib. 8, cap. 15), to rend their hearts and not their garments, to break off their sins by repentance, and to be abrupt in the work, lest he tear them to pieces, and there be none to deliver them. If this be not timely and truly done, God will go on in his wrath, and of a moth and little worm become a ramping and a roaring lion. The little cloud, though at first but as a handbreadth, will soon overspread the whole heaven: yea, as one cloud followeth thick upon another, so will one judgment upon another, if the sun of repentance do not interpose and disperse them. Light afflictions not improved to this purpose will be but as a drop of wrath forerunning the great storm: as a crack forerunning the ruin of the whole building. That is a known text, "If you will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more," and seven times more, and seven to that, Leviticus 26:18 ; Leviticus 26:28 . Three different times God raiseth his note, and he raiseth it by sevens, and those are discords in music. Such sayings will be heavy songs, and their execution heavy pangs to the wicked.
Hos 5:15 I will go [and] return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.
Ver. 15. I will go and return to my place ] To my palace of heaven: so the Chaldee rendereth it. will withdraw my majesty, and return into the habitation of my holiness, which is in heaven. I will go from them, that they may come to themselves with the prodigal; I will forget them, that they may remember themselves; I will trouble myself no farther with them (when God comes against sinners he is said to come out of his place, and so to disease himself, Isa 26:21 cf. Lam 3:33 ), that they may be afflicted and weep and mourn after me, James 4:9 ; I will take my rest, and I will consider in my dwelling place, as Isaiah 18:4 . "I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation," &c., Deuteronomy 32:20 , and they shall see that I will be as froward as they, for the hearts of them, Psalms 18:26 . "I will gather them in mine anger and in my fury, and I will leave them there," Ezekiel 22:20 ; that they may know the worth of my gracious presence (which they have not prized) by the want of it, and be pricked on thereby to pray, "Return, O Lord, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants. O satisfy us early with thy mercy," &c., Psalms 90:13-14 . Thus mothers use to leave their children (or at least turn their backs upon them) till they mourn and make moan after them. Thus the lion seems to leave her young ones till they have almost killed themselves with roaring and howling, but at the last gasp she relieves them, whereby they become the more courageous. God also will return to his people when they once turn short again upon themselves, and see their sin-guiltiness, and seek his favour. This is God’s end, 1 Corinthians 11:32 , and the happy effect of affliction sanctified, 1 Kings 8:47 .
Till they acknowledge their offence ] Heb. till they become guilty, till they plead guilty, and carry themselves accordingly, blushing and bleeding in my presence. Thus St James, be afflicted, or be miserable, Hosea 4:9 : ye are so, but see yourselves to be so; tremble and humble at God’s feet for mercy; give glory to God, my son, and confess thy sin, Joshua 7:19 . The viper beaten, casts up her poison. The traitor on the rack confesseth all. He that in affliction acknowledgeth not his offence, and seeketh God’s face, is more hard-hearted than a Jew, as is to be seen here and Psa 78:34 and 1 Samuel 7:6 . In the year of grace 1556, at Weissenstein, in Germany, a Jew, for theft, was in this cruel manner to be executed. He was hanged by the feet with his head downward, between two dogs, which constantly snatched and bit at him. The strangeness of the torment moved Jacob Andreas, a grave divine, to go to behold it. Coming thither, he found the poor wretch as he hung repeating verses out of the Hebrew Psalms, wherein he cried out to God for mercy. Andreas hereupon took occasion to counsel him to trust in Jesus Christ, the true Saviour of mankind (Melch. Adam. in Vit. Jac. Andrea). The Jew, embracing the Christian faith, requested but this one thing, that he might be taken down and baptized, though presently after he were hanged again (but by the neck, as Christian malefactors suffered), which was accordingly granted him. Latimer reports a like story of one in his time, who being executed at Oxford, was cut down, but not quite dead. And means being used to recover him, he came again to himself, and then confessed all his villany, which before he would not be drawn to do. In the Life of Master Perkins also mention is made of a lusty fellow at Cambridge, who being upon the ladder, and frightened with the forethought of hell torments, was called down again by Master Perkins, who prayed with him and for him so effectually, as that the beholders could not but see a blessed change thereby wrought in the prisoner, who took his death with such patience and alacrity, as if he actually saw himself delivered from the hell which he feared before, and heaven opened for the receiving of his soul, to the great rejoicing of the beholders (Master Fuller and Mr Clark, in Mr Perkins’ Life). How well might these men say with Themistocles, Periissem nisi periissem, I had been undone if I had not been undone. David was brought home by the weeping cross, Psalms 119:67 . Affliction was a better schoolmaster to Queen Elizabeth than Master Ascham. Nocumenta documenta, Harmful lesson, said Croesus, when he was in the hands of his enemies, παθηματα μαθηματα (Herod. lib. 1). The Burgundians, well beaten by the Huns, fled to Christ, the God of the Christians, and embraced his religion.
And seek my face ] Out of a deep sense of their sin-guiltiness. This is the work of faith, as the former of repentance. God was not so gone from his people, nor so far out of their call, but that if they could find a praying heart he would find a pitying heart; if they would acknowledge their offence he would forgive the iniquity of their sin, Psalms 32:5 . If they would set their faith a work (as she in the Gospel did, of whom it is said, that when Christ would have hid himself it could not be, for a certain woman, whose daughter was diseased, came and fell at his feet, fetched him out of his retiring-room, Mar 7:24-25 ), he would break the heavens and come down from his place, Isaiah 64:1-2 ; he would come leaping over all lets and impediments, those mountains of Bether, or of division, to the relief of his people. See Trapp on " Son 5:1 " &c. Provided that they seek not so much their own ease and ends as his face and favour, the sense of his presence and light of his countenance, the fear of his name, and comforts of his Spirit. Thus David, Psalms 63:1 , "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee in a dry and barren land." Carnal prayers in time of misery are but such as the dry earth or the hungry raven make. They are the prayers of nature for ease, not of the spirit for grace; such as was that of Pharaoh, when the rack made him roar, the rod flatter: see Zechariah 7:5-6 . See Trapp on " Zec 7:5 " See Trapp on " Zec 7:6 "
In their affliction they will seek me early ] Manicabunt. They will morning me, so the original hath it, ορθριουσι , Sept. They will do it, saith God, for I will give them to do it; both to will it and to work it; for otherwise afflictions (God’s hammers) do but beat cold iron. Wicked men grow worse for corrections, as water is more cold after a heat, as naughty boys are more stubborn or more stupid after a whipping. These also may cry to God, as prisoners at the bar, or malefactors upon the rack. Yea, seek him early, after a sort, and yet not find him, Proverbs 1:27 ; no, though they seek him with their herds and flocks Hosea 5:6 , because they seek him not early, and earnestly, or diligently, as Proverbs 7:15 ; inflamedly, as Baruch, Nehemiah 3:20 , and Jabez, 1 Chronicles 4:10 ; accurately and anxiously, as the Church sought her Beloved, Song of Solomon 5:1 , as the Virgin Mary sought her lost Son, Luke 2:43-46 . They seek him not for himself, but for his grain, wine, and oil, Hosea 7:14 ; they seek not him, but his; they seek him not till they have nothing else to seek to. Most justly, therefore, may God reject their suits and regest upon them, Depart from me, ye wicked, get ye to the gods whom ye have chosen, Judges 10:14 . Justly may he say to them, as once Jephthah did to his countrymen, Do ye now come to me in your distress, who in your prosperity said unto me, Depart from us, we will have none of the knowledge of thy ways? Those that will find God must seek him early: "O, satisfy us early with thy mercies," Psalms 90:14 . They must seek him early and late too, Isaiah 26:9 ; "always and by all means," as the apostle speaketh in another case; but especially in affliction, as here; for he looks for it. Our Saviour, being in an agony, prayed more intensively; so did David out of the deep, Jonah out of the whale’s belly, the Church when she was in danger; as she thought of losing God, then she set up her note and cried, "Thou art put in the midst of us, leave us not," Jeremiah 14:9 . Extingui lucem nec patiare tuam. Thus affliction exciteth devotion in the saints; and although they "seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face evermore," yet especially, in their distress they cry unto the Lord, and he heareth them, Psalms 120:1 ; in the night of affliction they take the light of a lively faith, and seek him early. And that they may not fail to find him, they call in help of others, as here in the next chapter: "Come, and let us return," &c.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Hosea 5". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29