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Zec 13:1 In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.
Ver. 1. In that day there shall be a fountain opened ] Nunc fructum poenitentiae adiungit, saith Calvin here. This is the fruit of their repentance. No sooner mourn they over Christ, but they are received to mercy. "I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord: and" (or ever I can do it) "thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin," Psalms 32:5 ; that is, both the sting and stain of it, the guilt and the filth, the crime and the curse. Repent, and your sins shall be blotted out, saith Peter to those nefarious kill-Christs, Acts 3:19 . God will cross the black lines of your sins with the red lines of his Son’s blood, 1 John 1:6 . A fountain shall be opened; not a cistern, but a spring; a pool better than that of Siloam, which is by interpretation, Sent, John 9:7 , and so a type of Christ, who "loved us, and washed us from our sins with his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen," Revelation 1:5-6 . To seal up this matchless mercy to us, he sent first, by the hand of his forerunner, and baptized those that repented for the remission of sins, Mat 3:2 Acts 2:38 , and afterwards he set wide open this blessed fountain, this laver of "regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost," Titus 3:5 . Saying by his ministers to every believer, as once to Paul, "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord," Acts 22:16 ; whereunto salvation is promised, Rom 10:18 Joel 2:22 . Baptism also is said to save us, 1 Peter 3:21 , sc. sacramentally, for it sealeth up salvation to the believer, Mark 16:16 , and is of perpetual and permanent use to him, for that purpose, his whole life throughout, ut scaturigo semper ebulliens, as a fountain bubbling up to eternal life. Here then the sacrament of baptism is prophesied and promised. And hence, haply, the baptism of John is said to have been from heaven, Matthew 21:25 . All the Levitical purifications pointed to this king’s bath of Christ’s meritorious blood, this everflowing and overflowing fountain, for the grace of our Lord Jesus hath abounded to flowing over (as St Panl’s expression is) with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. Neither can it ever be dried up, as was the river Cherith, the brooks of Tema, &c., but is an inexhausted fountain, a fresh running spring, for all that have but a mind to make toward it. Tam recens mihi nunc Christus est, ac si hac hora fudisset sanguinem, saith Luther; Christ is still as fresh and sovereign to me as if this very hour he had shed his blood. He was the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world; and shall be so to the end thereof. Cruci haeremus, sanguinem sugimus, et intra ipsa Redempteris nostri vulnera figimus linguam, saith Cyprian of the Lord’s Supper; i.e. We cleave to the cross at this holy ordinance; we suck Christ’s blood, we thrust our tongues into the very wounds of our Redeemer, and are hereby purged from all pollutions of flesh and spirit.
To the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem ] i.e. To all sorts and sexes of penitents, be they noble or ignoble, strong Christians or weak, Zec 12:8 none shall be secluded from this fountain, thus opened or exposed to all, not sealed and shut up, as that Song of Solomon 4:12 "God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him," Acts 10:34-35 .
For sin and for uncleanness ] i.e. For all sorts of sins, though they be such as in their desert do separate us from communion with God and company of men, Lev 12:1-8 Lev 15:1-33 render us worthy to be excommunicated, proscribed, and banished out of the world, as pests and botches of human society, by a common consent of nations; as the obstinate Jews are at this day for their inexpiable guilt in crucifying Christ. The Vulgate here hath it, Ad ablutionem peccatoris et menstruatae, For washing clean the sinner and the menstruous woman; alluding (as doth also the Chaldee) to the waters of expiation made of the ashes of a red cow, Numbers 19:11 ; Numbers 19:17 ; see the note there; and importing the purging both of he-sinners and she-sinners; or, as some will have it, both of actual and original sin. Lo, this is the virtue of Christ’s merit and spirit, 1 Corinthians 6:10-11 , far beyond that of Abanah and Pharpar, of Jordan and Siloam, which yet are said not only to wash and scour, but also to heal and cure. The Saracens naturally stink like goats; but by washing themselves and their children in the pool of Siloam they become sweeter. The Turks make use of it to sharpen their eyesight. At Cyzicum there is a well called Cupid’s well, the water whereof is said to quench the fire of lust. This is better yet than those baths of Rome, concerning which Seneca no less wittily than truly complained, Postquam munda balnea inventa sunt, spurciores sunt qui lavant; or those wanton baths of upper Baden, in Helvetia, much frequented, yet not so much for health as filthy pleasure. "They that are in Christ have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts," Galatians 5:24 ; they are not only washed from their wickedness, Jeremiah 4:14 , but bereft of their swinish natures, ne tanquam sus ad volutabrum, not as a pig returning to his watering hole. 2 Peter 2:22 .
Zec 13:2 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, [that] I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.
Ver. 2. I will cut off the names of the idols ] Heb. of the fray bugs, gnatsabim terriculorum, scarecrows (as they are likewise called, 1Sa 31:9 1Ch 10:9 Psalms 115:4 ; in contempt, as Priapus in Horace - furum aviumque, Maxima formido - ), or, grievous idols, as Psalms 16:4 , because they tormented the minds of the superstitious, and put them to great pains to no purpose; as is to be seen in Popish pilgrims, who though used hardly, and lose much of their estates and other comforts, yet satisfy themselves in this, I have that I came for, viz. the sight of a dumb idol, as Calvin noteth on that place, Seek ye my face. Now of these idols and monuments of idolatry, these Balaam’s blocks, the Lord here promiseth to rid the land, as he did under the Maccabees. And as in the primitive Church he did by the Christian emperors, styled therefore by the superstitious Iconomachi and Iconoclastae; and of late, by the renowned reformers, as at Geneva, Bern, Basle (where they were burnt all together on an Ash Wednesday of God’s own making), and here in England by the command of King Edward VI; who the self-same day obtained a signal victory at Mussleborough Field.
And they shall no more be remembered ] Unless it be with shame and detestation, as Eze 16:61 Psa 16:4 Hosea 14:8 . Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? He shall pollute the idols which he once perfumed, and say unto them, "Get you hence," Isaiah 30:22 . I was an obstinate Papist (saith Latimer of himself) as any was in England, and a gross idolater, &c. But after that he came to a sight of his error, he so far forth abhorred idols, that being brought forth after he was condemned to die to see a procession, he ran as fast as his old bones would carry him to one Spencer’s shop near Carfax, in Oxford, and would not once look toward it (Act. and Mon. fol. 1230).
And also I will cause the prophets ] So they will needs be called and counted; when as they are no better than unclean spirits, See Geneva on " Zec 13:2 " or at least are acted and set on work by that unclean spirit, the devil, Mat 12:43 Mar 1:26 John 8:44 Rev 16:13 See Trapp on " Mat 12:43 " See Trapp on " Mar 1:26 " See Trapp on " Joh 8:44 " See Trapp on " Rev 16:13 " indeed, they are false prophets, Matthew 7:15 , false teachers, "who privily bring in damnable heresies," 2 Peter 2:1 , vanae orationis, cui nulla veritatis vel virtutis ratio subest, sunt artifices stulte loquaces et garruli, saith Montanus; they are loud and lewd liars, inspired by that unclean spirit, the father of lies, ut impurati impurent alios et seducant seducti (Junius in loc.), that being themselves defiled and seduced, they may defile and seduce others. For by corrupt teachers Satan catcheth men; as a cunning fisher by one fish catcheth another, that he may feed upon both.
And the unclean spirit to pass out of the land ] This connection is worthy to be noted, saith reverend Calvin here, because it shows us the source of all errors, viz. the letting loose the reins to perverse teachers. I confess, saith he, we are apt enough of ourselves to run after falsities, such is the corruption of our natures. Sed interea ubi grassatur licentia quidvis docendi, necesse est corrumpi totam pietatem, et sic misceri omnia ut nihil differat lux a tenebris, &c. But where in matters of religion every man may think what he lists, and utter what he thinks, and defend what he utters, and publish what he defends, and gather disciples to what he publisheth, this libertas prophetandi, this liberty, or licentiousness, rather, of prophesying (alas, poor England!) must needs bane the Church, and bring in confusion. God therefore here gives us to know that a Church cannot stand unless false teachers be forbidden to turn the truth into a lie, and to prate at their pleasure against the word of God; and this, saith he, is diligently to be noted. Videmus enim ut hodie nebulones quidam, &c.; For we see how at this day certain vile persons take it up for a principle that the Church is not free unless every man may be suffered to preach or broach what he pleaseth; and that it is greatest cruelty to punish a heretic, and not to give him leave to blaspheme the truth. But the prophet here showeth that the Church of God cannot be kept in pure state, nor stand entire and safe, unless the rashness and impudence of such be restrained as dare pervert sound and sincere doctrine. Thus he.
Zec 13:3 And it shall come to pass, [that] when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the LORD: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesieth.
Ver. 3. And it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy ] Here the prophet showeth how God will effect the former promise. He will first give unto his people a spirit of judgment, and then a spirit of burning, as Isaiah 4:4 , so that they shall be able to discern both good and evil, and not be led away with the error of the wicked, to fall from their own steadfastness, Hebrews 5:14 2 Peter 2:17 . They shall also be adeo perciti zelo, so carried on by zeal of God’s glory, and so blessedly blown up, as I may so say, in his cause, that they shall fall upon their dearest relations in this case, and labour to bring their own children to condign punishment, according to the law of God in that behalf provided, Deuteronomy 13:8-9 . Neither let any object here, that this is Old Testament: we find no such thing in the gospel, for the prophet here speaketh of the times of the gospel Zec 12:10 and of the kingdom of Christ. Sequitur ergo, saith Mr Calvin here well and worthily, non mode legem illam fuisse Iudaeis positam, quemadmodum nugantur fanatici homines, qui vellent hodie sibi permitti orbis, turbandi licentiam; sed extenditur ad nos etiam eadem lex. It followeth, therefore, that that law, Deuteronomy 13:9 , was not made for the Jews only (as some brain sick people conceit it, who would fain get leave to trouble the world with their fopperies), but the same law extendeth itself even to us; for if at this day thieves, and witches, and adulterers, &c., are held worthy of punishment, how much more are heretics, seducers, blasphemers, who poison men’s souls, rob God of his glory, confound the whole order of the Church, &c. See Rom 13:4 1 Peter 2:13-14 , and hold to that old rule, Non distinguendum, ubi scriptura non distinguit, Men must not distinguish where the Scripture doth not.
That his father ] In whose heart there is naturally an ocean of love to his own child, as we see in David toward Absalom, in old Andronicus, the Greek emperor, in our William the Conqueror, and Maud, his wife, toward their unnatural son, Robert Curtuoise, whom she maintained out of her own coffers in his quarrel for Normandy; which the king her husband knew, and took as a cause rather of displeasure than of hatred, as proceeding from motherly indulgence for advancing their son.
That begat him ] This is twice here repeated, for honour’s sake, to these zealots, who had forgotten all natural and carnal respects for the vindication of God’s glory and his sincere service. See Matthew 10:37 . See Trapp on " Mat 10:37 "
Thou shalt not live ] sc. To do more mischief, and to draw more souls to the devil. Non Catilinae te genui sed partita, said Aulus Fulvius, when he slew his own son taken in Catiline’s conspiracy; I begat thee not for Catiline, but for thy country. More to be commended a great deal than Philip II, that bloody King of Spain, who said openly, that he had rather have no subjects than Lutheran subjects; that he would not leave a Lutheran in his dominions; that if he thought his shirt smelt of that heresy, he would tear it from his own back; and out of a blind zeal he suffered his oldest son, Charles, to be murdered by the cruel Inquisition, because he seemed to favour our profession. For which noble exploit that mouth of blasphemy, the Pope, gave him this commendation, Non pepercit filio suo, sed dedit pro nobis: He spared not his own son, but gave him up for us. Oh horrible!
For thou speakest lies in the name of the Lord ] Lies in hypocrisy, 1Ti 4:12 Revelation 2:24 , doctrines of devils, depths of Satan, that artificer of lies, and father of them, John 8:44 , which yet he would fain father and fasten upon the God of Amen, or of truth, as he is called, Psalms 31:5 ; like as varletesses a beget bastards, and lay them at honest men’s doors to be kept: "Thou speakest lies in the name of the Lord." This is to substitute the devil in the place of God, or to transform God, so as that he should nothing differ from the devil. No wonder, therefore, though he that break the least commandment, and teach men so, be called least in the kingdom of heaven, Matthew 5:19 , especially if he pretend God’s authority for it, as the false prophets of old, and the Swenckfeldian heretics slate entitle themselves, The confessors of the glory of Christ; for this is the highest indignity, or rather contumely, that can be put upon God; it is a more detestable evil than to kill an innocent man; yea, to commit parricide, or treason. Imo quaecunque poterunt numerate scelera non pervenient ad hoc crimen, saith Calvin upon the text. Let sectaries and seducers look to it, those harmless, hornless creatures, as they would be accounted.
Shall thrust him through when he prophesieth ] As Phineas did that stinking couple in the flagrancy of their lust, Numbers 25:8 , and as Levi, in like case, consecrated himself to the Lord, even every man upon his son and upon his brother, Exodus 32:29 . He said unto his father and mother (when God’s glory required it), I have not seen him, neither did he acknowledge his brethren nor know his own children, Deuteronomy 33:9 . All natural relations and self-respects should be drowned in the glory of God and the good of our own and other men’s souls. They should be even swallowed up thereby, as the fuel is by the fire, and as the sorcerer’s serpents were by Moses’ serpent, or the fat kine by the lean.
a A person of a low, mean, or knavish disposition; a knave, rogue, rascal. ŒD
Zec 13:4 And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision, when he hath prophesied; neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive:
Ver. 4. The prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision ] Of their Midianitish dreams, which they had first dreamed, and then told it for gospel to their fond neighbours. They shall be so clearly convinced, that they shall blush and bleed to think how they have been besotted, how many souls they have murdered, how often they have even straddled over hell’s mouth, and yet have been preserved, 2 Thessalonians 2:10 ; 2 Thessalonians 2:12 ; See Trapp on " 2Th 2:10 " See Trapp on " 2Th 2:10 " This makes them shame and shent disgrace themselves in the presence of God and his people, saying, "O my God, I am ashamed, and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God; for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our guilt is grown up to the heavens," Ezra 9:6 . This was fulfilled in those scribes and Pharisees that afterwards became believers, and said, with Saint Paul, "Beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh," Philippians 3:2-3 . Luther revolted from the Popish religion which he had held and maintained, taking it for an honour to be called apostate by them; that is, as he interpreted it, one that had fallen from the devil, Qui fidem diabolo datam non servavit. Bugenhagius, when he first read Luther’s book de Captivitate Babylonica, pronounced it to be the most pestilent piece that ever was published; but afterwards, when he had better considered, he grew ashamed of that rash censure, and protested that Luther only was in the right, and all that held not the same that he did were utterly deceived. Latimer was of the like mind after that he had once heard Bilney’s confession. Vergerius, after he had read Luther’s books with purpose to confute them, Denckius and Hetserus, two great Anabaptists in Germany, retracted their former false doctrines, and repented of their licentious and abominable practices (Scultet. Annul.). The former of them, being converted by Oecolampadius, grew ashamed of his pretended visions, and died piously at Basle. The latter was beheaded at Constance for his multiplied adulteries: which first he sought to defend by Scripture, but afterwards died very penitently, confessing his former filthinesses, giving glory to God, and taking shame to himself. These two were learned men, well skilled in the Hebrew; and had joined their forces in translating the prophets into the Dutch tongue. But oh how few such as these and of that sort of people shall a man meet with today! Copp, indeed, that arch-ranter, Venereus ille furcifer, et Cleri dehonestamentum, is said to have newly set forth his recantation, which I have not yet seen, and therefore cannot tell what to say to it. Only I wish he deal not as Bernard Rotman, that first Anabaptist, and Islebius Agricola, that first Antinomian, did in Germany; who both of them, having condemned their own errors, and recanted them in a public auditory, printing their revocation, yet afterwards they relapsed into the same errors, and stoutly stood to them, when Luther was dead and more liberty was afforded, so hard a thing it is to get poison out when once swallowed down; and having once said yea to the devil, though but in a little, to say him nay again, when a man pleaseth; such a man especially, quem puduit non fuisse impudentem (Augustin), who had gloried in his shame and taken pleasure in his unrighteousness, 2 Thessalonians 2:12 qui noluit solita peccare, who not wishing to become accustomed to sinning, as Seneca saith of some in his time, that is, none of the ordinary sort of sinners, but hath sought to out sin others, as unhappy boys strive who shall go furthest in the dirt.
I will not say but such, by the Almighty power of God, may be reclaimed, and made to see that there is no fruit to be had of those errors and enormities whereof they are now ashamed, since the end of those things (in the desert of them) is death, Romans 6:21-22 ; but now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, they will have very great cause to be thankful to God for the cure; sith jealousy, frenzy, and heresy are held hardly curable, the leprosy in the head concludes a man utterly unclean, and excludes him the camp. Heresy is by the apostle compared to a precipice, vortex, or whirlpool, that first turns a man round, and then sucks him in, περιφερεσθε , Hebrews 12:9 , and by others to the Syren’s banks, covered with dead men’s bones, to Goodwin’s Sands, that swallow up all ships that come near them, or to the harlot’s house, whence few or none return alive, Proverbs 7:26-27 .
Zec 13:5 But he shall say, I [am] no prophet, I [am] an husbandman; for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.
Ver. 5. But he shall say, I am no prophet ] Oυκ ειμι μοναχος , I am no monk, no clerk, I am not book learned, was the ignorant man’s plea in Chrysostom’s time, and so it is still to this day; though it serves not his turn. But here the like speech is taken up for a better purpose. Hoc etenim principium est resipiscentiae, saith Calvin here. Here begins their repentance, viz. in a free acknowledgment of their ignorance and utter unfitness for the office they had usurped.
I am no prophet ] As for self-respects, that my belly might be filled and my back fitted, Si ventri bene, si lateri (Horat.), I sinfully took upon me to be one, but I am a husbandman, and can better hold the plough than handle a text; feed and follow a flock of sheep than feed the flock of God (that have golden fleeces, precious souls), taking the oversight thereof, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind. 1 Peter 5:2
For man taught me to keep cattle from my youth ] q.d. Shepherdy and husbandry I have been ever trained up to, and can better therefore skill of than of preaching, which is certainly Ars artium et scientia scientiarum, the art of arts, the science of sciences, as one said; whereunto Melancthon addeth that it is the misery of miseries. And of the same mind was his colleague, Luther, when he said, A householder’s pains is great, a magistrate’s greater, but a minister’s greatest of all; and afterward added, that if it were lawful to him to leave his calling, he could with more ease and pleasure dig for his living, or do any other hard labour, than undergo a pastoral charge. The mystery thereof is not an idle man’s occupation, an easy trade, as some fondly conceit. The sweat of the brow is nothing to that of the brain; besides dangers on every hand for the work’s sake, and armies of cares, that give neither rest nor respite, but are ready to overwhelm a man, επισυστασις , 2 Corinthians 11:28 , agmen subinde irruens (Illyr.). This made Luther affirm that a minister labours more in a day many times than a husbandman doth in a month. Let no man, therefore, in taking up the ministry, dream of a delicacy; neither let slow bellies either invade it or hold it (as Popish asses and some impudent Alastores today do) to pick a living out of it. It was an honest complaint of a Popish writer, We, saith he, handle the Scripture, tantum ut nos pascat et vestiat, only that it may feed us and clothe us. And Cardinal Cajetan, not without cause, cries out, that those among them that should have been the salt of the earth had lost their savour; and were good for little else but looking after the rites and revenues of the Church (Com. in Mat 5:1-48 ). Now for such as these that serve not the Lord Jesus Christ, but their own bellies, that, like body lice, live upon other men’s sweat, or, like rats and mice, do no more but devour victuals and run squeaking up and down, good is the counsel of the apostle, "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth," Ephesians 4:28 ; let him earn it before he eat it, 2 Thessalonians 3:10 . This is hard to persuade those abbey lubbers, that live at ease in cloisters, feeding on the fat and drinking of the sweet; and those idol shepherds, that feed themselves and not the flock. O Monachi vestri stomachi. Erasmus truly told the Elector of Saxony that Luther, by meddling with the Pope’s triple crown and with the monks’ fat paunches, had procured himself so great ill-will among them. One of them brake out in a sermon into these angry words: If I had Luther here I would tear out his throat with my teeth; and then make no doubt with the same bloody teeth to eat my maker at the Eucharist. How much better were it for such false prophets with "quietness to work and eat their own bread," 2 Thessalonians 3:14 , than to drink the blood of other men with their lives (as David spake in another case, 1Ch 11:19 ), yea, with their souls, which perish by their insufficiency and gastrimargy! Sed venter non habet aures. But the belly hath no ears. Ease slayeth the foolish. Non minus difficulter a deliciis abstrahimur, quam canis ab uncto corio, among other scandals and lets of the Jews’ conversion this is not the least, that they must quit their goods to the Christian. And the reason is, for that in baptism they renounce the devil and all his works, part whereof (say the Papists among whom they live) are the Jews’ goods; being gotten either of themselves or of their ancestors by usury. Now this is such cold comfort to men of their metal, that they have little mind to turn Christian; and as little doubtless have such as, with these in the text, have got their living by lying; and through covetousness with feigned words made merchandise or prize of men’s precious souls, to return to the hard labour of husbandry or any other lawful but painful employment; yet this was done both in Wycliffe’s days by many friars that fell to him, and embraced his opinions, and in the reformation by Luther, many monks and nuns betook themselves to honest trades, renouncing their Popish vows and orders; yea, Scultetus reporteth that at Augsburg, in Germany, by the powerful preaching of Dr John Speiser, A. D. 1523, some harlots forsook the public stews, and married to honest men, lived chastely, and were great painstakering persons.
Zec 13:6 And [one] shall say unto him, What [are] these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, [Those] with which I was wounded [in] the house of my friends.
Ver. 6. And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? ] Jerome here supposeth the false prophet crucified for his false doctrine, and thereupon thus questioned. This is better than that of the Popish interpreters, who will needs have it to be meant of Christ, and of his wounds on the cross, as a deceiver of the people, Oπλανος , Matthew 27:63 , that deceiver to our very faces (Eustath.). Lucian the atheist villanously termeth him εσκολοπισμενον σοφιστην , the crucified deceiver; but the text is clear that the person here spoken to, and returning an answer, is the false prophet, now a true convert; as appeareth by his fruits, which he bears quick and thick; being like Aaron’s rod, soon changed from a withered stick into a flourishing tree. Ashamed he is at heart of his former falsities; and as in heart, so in habit he is altered; for he will no longer wear a rough garment, the garb of prophets in those days, to deceive, as the Capuchins and other orders of friars, or rather liars, at this day, 2Ki 1:8 Isaiah 20:2 Matthew 3:4 . He abrenounceth and abjureth, quasi conceptis verbis, his former profession of a prophet or chief speaker among others.
I am no prophet ] But a plain husbandman, or a shepherd; that is all I can truly pretend to. And lastly, in this verse, having passed through the Church’s discipline as a seducer, he shall do as Joshua advised Achan, Give glory to the Lord my son, and confess thy sin, Joshua 7:19 ; he shall approve of the Church’s severity used for his correction, though he should go maimed or marked for it to his dying day. In point of seducement (saith Mr Cotton, descanting upon this text), if a man upon conviction shall see the wickedness of his way, and humble his soul before God, and give satisfaction to the Church and State where he shall be convinced, on such conviction and repentance we find liberty to pardon, but yet stigmatize him. But what reason had the convocation held at Oxford to set a brand of ignominy upon the cheeks of those outlandish divines that came to assist them, because they pleased them not in the point of priests’ marriage, which they defended? Or Bishop Laud for his Stigmata Landis on renowned Mr Prinne, for his constancy to the truth? How much better his predecessors, Stephen Langton, who crucified that pseudo Christ, who showed marks of wounds in his hands, feet, and sides, A.D. 1206, and Odo Severus, who burnt King Edwin’s concubine (whom he most doted on) in the forehead with a hot iron, and banished her into Ireland, A. D. 934.
Zec 13:7 Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man [that is] my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.
Ver. 7. Awake, O sword, against my shepherd ] A powerful expression, containing a commission given out to the sword by way of apostrophe.
Awake ] Or, up, as the Septuagint; up and about, thou that hast long lain locked up in the scabbard. Thus the sword is of God’s sending; it is "bathed in heaven," Isa 34:5 Eze 14:17 Jeremiah 47:6-7 . It is he that awakes it and sets it on work; he commands it, Amos 9:4 , and ordereth it, Jeremiah 50:25 . Let this patient us under it, as it did Job, Job 1:15 ; Job 1:17 ; Job 1:21 . Among philosophies the most noted sect for patience was that of the Stoics, who ascribed all to destiny.
O sword ] Framea, which seems to come of ρομφαια (the Septuagint’s word here), by putting φ before ρ ; or Gladie, which comes a clade, from destruction; like as the Hebrew word Chereb, from desolating and laying waste. Hence the sword is said to "contemn the rod," Ezekiel 21:10 ; Ezekiel 21:13 , that is, all lighter and lesser judgments, which are but its forerunners, and whereof it seems to say, What does this silly rod do here? Will not men stoop? Let me come: I will make them either bend or break; either yield, or I will have their blood.
Against my shepherd ] i.e. Saith Calvin, against magistrates and ministers, God’s under shepherds and associates in feeding the flock, labourers together with him, 1 Corinthians 3:9 . But because Christ is the great Shepherd, Hebrews 13:20 , and "the good Shepherd," John 10:11 , Optimus maximus, that is, God’s fellow companion, and yet, suspending his glory, became a man, to seek him out a flock in the wilderness; and afterwards laid down his life for his sheep, John 10:11 , underwent the deadly dint of God’s devouring sword put into the hands of those men of God’s hand, Psalms 17:13 , who put him to many a little death all his life long, and at length to that cursed and cruel death of the cross: at which time the Shepherd was smitten and the sheep scattered, as this text is most fitly applied, Matthew 26:31 ; therefore I understand it chiefly of Christ, the chief Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, who "was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities," &c., Isaiah 53:5 . And this not by chance, or malice of his enemies only (though they laid upon him without mercy, nailing him to the tree in the hands and feet, which in all men are the most sensitive parts of the body, as being fullest of nerves and sinews, but in him much more as being of the finest temperature and most exquisite sense), but by the determinate counsel of God, as St Peter shows those kill-Christs, Acts 2:28 , and according to the Scriptures, that went before of him, and foretold all his passion, even to the casting of the dice upon his clothes, Psa 22:1-31 Isaiah 53:1-12 , by the reading of which lively description of Christ’s sufferings in that chapter, Johannes Isaac, a Jew, confesseth that he was converted to the faith of Christ, Hoc ego ingenue confiteor, ait ille, caput illud ad fidem Christi me adduxisse. He is called God’s Shepherd, because God anointed and appointed him to that office, putting a charge into his hands, John 10:1-18 ; John 17:13-21 , that he might tend them and tender them, and at length return them up again to his heavenly Father, without loss of any one. He is also called the Man by an excellence, that matchless man the chief of ten thousand; as his mother is called hagnalma, that famous virgin, whom all generations are bound to call blessed. He is Man God, both in one; and is therefore also called God’s fellow, or mate, as being consubstantial to the Father according to the Godhead, and very near akin to him according to the manhood, by reason of the hypostatical union of both natures into one person; the man Christ Jesus.
Smite the shepherd ] That that blessed fountain of his blood mentioned Zec 13:1 may be opened, and the flock of God washed and healed and satiated, as the people were at the time when the rock was smitten and so set abroach; and as when God clave a hollow place in the jaw bone of the ass, so that there came water thereout, Samson drank and was revived, Judges 15:19 ; and as when the alabaster box of ointment was broken all the house was filled with a sweet savour.
And the sheep shall be scattered ] Scattered and scattered; shifting for themselves, and leaving Christ to the mercy of his enemies, who seized upon him, as so many carrion kites a upon a silly dove. Thomas (who once said, Come, lest us go die with him) disappears and is lost; Peter follows aloof off, but better he had been further off; John (if at least it were he) flees away stark naked for haste; Judas comes nearer to him, but to betray him with a kiss. But is this thy kindness to thy friend? Christ had indented with the enemy beforehand for their security, John 18:8 , so that they needed not have retreated so disorderly, and scattered as they did. But "the fear of man bringeth a snare," Proverbs 29:25 . Howbeit, man’s badness cannot break off the course of Christ’s goodness. For though they thus unworthily forsake him, and leave him at the worst (as they say), yet I will turn my hand, saith he, upon the little ones, i.e. I will recollect my dispersed flock (how little soever either for number, or respect in the world) and bring back my banished. So soon doth it repent the good Lord concerning his servants. He remembereth not iniquity for ever, saith the prophet, because mercy pleaseth him; and again, "He remembereth us in our low estates; for his mercy endureth for ever," Mic 7:18 Psalms 136:23 . He looked back upon Peter when his mouth was now big swollen with oaths and execrations, and set him a weeping bitterly. He called for Thomas after his resurrection, and confirmed his weak faith by a wonderful condescension. He sealed up his love to them all again, restoring them to their ministerial employment; and not so much as once upbraiding them with their base dereliction but only with their unbelief. Lyra and other sense the text thus: I will turn my hand upon the little ones, that is, I will so smite the Shepherd Christ, that not only the sheep shall be scattered, but the little lambs also, even the least and lowest Christians, shall have their share of sufferings, shall feel the weight of my hand, shall pledge the Lord Christ in that cup of afflictions that I have put into his hand shall be conformed to the linage of God’s Son as his co-sufferers, that he may be the firstborn among many brethren, Romans 8:29 . And this was fulfilled in the persecutions that followed soon after our Saviour’s death. Eccle sia haeres crucis, saith Luther; and Persecution est Evangelii genius, saith Calvin. Persecution is the black angel that dogs the Church, the red horse that follows the white at the heels. And the comfort is, that God’s holy hand hath special stroke in all those afflictions, that are laid upon his faithful people, "I will turn mine hand."
a A bird of prey of the family Falconidae and subfamily Milvinae, having long wings, tail usually forked, and no tooth in the bill. ŒD
Zec 13:8 And it shall come to pass, [that] in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off [and] die; but the third shall be left therein.
Ver. 8. Two parts therein shall be cut off and die ] q.d. They shall, they shall, however strange or incredible this sad tidings seems to you; it shall be even so, take my word for it. "Behold the severity of God," Romans 11:22 . In the Greek it is the resection, or, cutting off ( αποτομιαν ), as a surgeon cutteth off proud and dead flesh. "The just Lord is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity," &c., Zephaniah 3:5 . Fiat iustitia, ruat coelum, Let justice be done, let the heavens be destroyed, may seem to be his motto. In point of justice he stands not upon multitudes, Psalms 9:17 . It is all one to him "whether against a nation or against a man only," Job 34:29 . National sins bring national plagues; heinous sins heavy punishments. In the universal deluge God swept away all, as if he had blotted out that part of his title, "The Lord, the Lord, gracious, merciful," &c., and had taken up that of Attilas, Orbis flagellum, the world’s scourge. Sodom’s sins were multiplied above measure; "therefore God took them away as he saw good," Ezekiel 16:49-50 ; and hath thrown them out ( προκεινται ), as St Jude speaketh, for an example suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Herodotus, a heathen historian, saith the very same of the destruction of Troy, viz. that the ruins and rubbish thereof are set forth for an example of that noted rule, that God greatly punisheth great offences, and that heinous sins bring hideous plagues. Here we have two parts of three cut off in the land of Judea; as it happened at the last destruction thereof by the Romans; at which time more than a million of men perished, see Matthew 24:21 . See Trapp on " Mat 24:21 " And what think we shall become of Babylon the Great? Her sins reach up to heaven, whereunto they are even glued and fastened, as the word εκολληθησαν signifies, Revelation 18:5 , therefore she shall be brought down to hell with Capernaum (for flagitium et flagellum sicut acus et filium ), therefore shall her plagues come in one day to confute their fond conceit of an eternal empire, death, and mourning, and famine, and she shall be utterly overthrown with fire; for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her, full able to effect it, seem it to Babel’s brats never so improbable or impossible, Revelation 18:18 . It was never besieged since it became Papal, but it was taken; whereas before it was held invincible. Sin that lieth at the bottom will easily undermine and overturn the walls, though never so strong built; as the voice from heaven told Phocas the murderer. The blood of that innocent Lamb of God lies heavily upon the whole nation of the Jews to this day. Their last devastation and present dismal dispersion is such, as that one of their own Rabbis concludes from thence that their Messiah must needs be come; and they must needs suffer so much for killing him.
But the third shall be left therein ] A holy remnant kept for a reserve. Good husbands cast out all their grain into the oven, but keep some for seed. "But yet in it shall be a tenth," saith another prophet, Isaiah 6:13 : there shall be "two or three berries in the top of a tree, four or five in the outmost branches," Isaiah 17:6 . God’s elect are so very few, that the world shall wonder, Isaiah 8:18 , and even hoot to see Christ’s flock so very little, little, as our Saviour speaks, Luke 12:22 , as Israel stood like two little flocks of kids, when the Syrians filled the country, 1 Kings 20:27 . There were but a few names in Sardis; and many bad in the best Churches; as at Philippi, Philippians 3:18 . Christ wondered at one good Nathanael, as rara avis in terris; a rare bird in the earth, and when he comes, shall he find faith? How many, think you, shall be saved in this city? saith Chrysostom, in his fourth sermon to the people at Antioch. It will be a hard speech to you, but I will speak it: Though there be so many thousands, yet there cannot be found a hundred that shall be saved. And I doubt about them, too. And again, in his third sermon upon the Acts, he breaks out into this speech, Non arbitror inter sacerdotes multos esse qui salvi fiant, I do not think that there are many, no, not among the ministry, that can be saved, since many are called, but few are chosen; like as all the people were called together by Samuel, but Saul only was chosen king. Only the called according to purpose are elected, and shall be glorified, Romans 8:28-29 . Christ at the last day will do as Joshua did to find out who had stolen the Babylonish garment; there were many brought together, and all to find out one, Jos 7:16-21 So, all shall then appear; out of them a small number deducted, that have heard of Christ. Out of them, those that have professed him, and out of them, those that have professed him in sincerity, and these will be Mithe mispar, a small few indeed. Hence they are called pearls, which are but few to the number of pebbles; jewels, which are but little to the lumber; strangers, that are nothing so many as homedwellers; sons of God, and of the royal blood; and of such there are but a few to common subjects. They are as a fold in a wide field; as a garden in a wild waste. Rari quippe boni, saith the poet (Juvenal). And Pauci sunt qui philosophantur, few there are who philosophize, saith Ulpian, the lawyer.
Zec 13:9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It [is] my people: and they shall say, The LORD [is] my God.
Ver. 9. And I will bring the third part through the fire ] Few they were, but not faultless; they must, therefore, go through the fire, that there they may leave their dregs and dross behind them. For Quod ignis est auro, lima ferro, ventilabrum tritico, lixivium panno, sal carni, hoc tribulatio est viro iusto, saith Corn. a Lapide upon this text; that is, what the fire is to the gold, the file to iron, the fan to wheat, the soap to clothes, the salt to flesh, that is tribulation sanctified to a righteous man. God is said to have his "fire in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem," Isaiah 31:9 , to carry his through fire and through water, Psalms 66:12 , from above to send fire into their bones, Lamentations 1:13 , to put them to the fiery trial, 1 Peter 4:12 ; yea, he himself is a refiner’s fire unto them, and fullers’ soap. Malachi 3:2 See Trapp on " Mal 3:2 " He knows them to be right gold, which will endure the seventh fire (alchemy gold will not so), and, therefore, he puts them to it; "that the trial of their faith, being much more precious than that of gold that perisheth, though tried in the fire, may be found to praise and honour and glory," 1 Peter 1:7 ; himself, meanwhile, goeth with them into the fire and pulleth them out as a brand, Zechariah 3:2 Non sic impii, not so the ungodly, Psalms 1:4 . True it is, the trial of their works also shall be by fire, 1 Corinthians 3:13 , and they shall give an account one day with all the world on a light flame about their ears, 2 Peter 3:12 . Then shall they find that the law they are judged by is a fiery law, the tribunal is of fire, Ezekiel 1:27 , the judge a consuming fire, Hebrews 12:29 , his attendants seraphims, that is, flaming creatures, Hebrews 1:7 , his pleading with sinners in fire of flame ( εν πυρι φλογος ), 2 Thessalonians 1:8 , the place of punishment a lake of fire fed with a river of brimstone, Isaiah 30:33 , a formidable fire it is, fed with tormenting temper, and kindled by God’s own breath instead of bellows. Bellarmine is of the opinion that one glimpse of this fearful fire were enough to make a man not only turn Christian and sober, but hermit and monk, and to live after the strictest order that can be. Pope Clement V, upon the death of a nephew of his, and one of his catamites, a sent his chaplain to a conjuror, to inquire how it fared with him in the other world. The conjuror showed him to the chaplain, lying in a bed of fire in hell. This news so affected the wretched Pope, that he never held up his head, but, Nabal-like, died within a few days after it. But oh what a dreadful shriek gave his guilty soul, to see itself launching into an infinite ocean of scalding lead, and to think that it must swim naked therein for ever.
And will refine them as silver is refined ] This is all the hurt he doth them by the fire; he hides pride from them, Job 33:19 , &c., and divides between the sin which he hates and the son whom he loves. For by this the iniquity of Jacob shall be purged; and this is all the fruit, the taking away of their sin, Isaiah 27:9 , which they may very well spare, and never hurt themselves. Surely, as one poison is antidotary to another, so is affliction to sin; when sanctified, it is no more penal, but medicinal; not a curse, but a cure: as oil of scorpions is good against the biting of scorpions; as the wine wherein a viper hath been drowned cureth a leprosy; as the juice of hemlock (a deadly plant) heals hot corroding ulcers, and assuageth the inflammation of the eyes; or as rhubarb, though full of choler, doth mightily purge choler. Moses neglected to circumcise his child (as we do our hearts, it is such a bloody work) till God met him and would have killed him. David could never see the benefit of affliction till God, by those sharp waters, had cleared up his eyesight. Gehazi’s leprosy cured him; his white forehead made him have a whiter soul. Surely, as the refining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold, so is affliction to the soul. Corrections of instruction are the way of life, Proverbs 6:23 , but "he that refuseth correction despiseth his own soul," Proverbs 15:32 . Winds and thunder clear the air (whereof they are the besoms, saith Rupertus), so do crosses the soul. If the outward man decay, the inward is thereby renewed, 2 Corinthians 4:16 ; and the winter of the one is the spring of the other. As the viper, when he is lashed, casteth up his poison; so doth the good soul, when afflicted, purge itself from all filth of flesh and spirit, striving to perfect holiness in the fear of God. These Jews, after they had been in the Babylonish furnace for idolatry, hated and feared that sin as much as the burnt child dreads the fire. They would die any death rather than admit an idol. Josephus tells how stoutly they opposed Pilate and Petronius, that would have set up Caesar’s statue in their temples, offering their throats to the swords of the soldiers rather than they would endure that idol in God’s house. What God is now doing with them, and for them, in this long time of their sad desolation and dispersion, who can tell? There are those who think that, after much purging and proving, as here, God will gather a Church of them to himself; according to that which followeth; "They shall call upon my name, and I will hear them: I will say, it is my people," &c. And that upon their profession of Christ shall come the sorest time of affliction that ever was, Zechariah 14:1-2 , when Gog and Magog, with all his troops and armies, shall compass the beloved city, Revelation 20:8-9 . But the Jews shall get a glorious conquest; for God himself from heaven will miraculously fight for them, Zechariah 14:3-5 , together with all the holy angels, the ministers of his judgments, Zechariah 14:5 . Sure it is, that the Turks fear some such thing as this; and therefore they cannot abide that any Jew among them should turn Christian. In the year 1528 a certain Jew, dwelling in Constantinople, became a good Chrisitian, and was baptized; which the Turks understanding, were vehemently exasperated against him for it; fearing lest his conversion should prove prejudicial to their Mahometan religion, and, therefore, they apprehended and cruelly murdered him.
And try them as gold is tried ] viz. That when I have tried them they may come forth as gold, Job 33:10 . Hence God’s people fall into manifold temptations, James 1:2 ; they fall, they go not into them step by step, but are precipitated, plunged into them; and not into one of them, or a few, but into manifold temptations, or trials; yea, fiery trials, so afflictions are called, because thereby God proves what is in his people, Deu 8:16 Revelation 2:10 . Not to better his own knowledge of them either; for he knows all things, and is intimo nostro intimior nobis, Joh 2:25 Act 1:24 Hebrews 4:12 . Artificers perfectly know the nature and properties of their own works, and shall not God see? Psalms 94:9-10 . But tentat ut sciat, hoc est, ut seire nos faciat (August.), he trieth us, 1. That he may make discoveries of himself unto us, especially of his power and goodness; and so get him a name, as Isa 63:11-13 2 Corinthians 12:9 . Elijah would have water poured upon the sacrifices, yea, the altar covered therewith, that God’s power might the more appear, in consuming it with fire from heaven, and the people thereupon might cry, Jehovah, he is God! Jehovah, he is God! 1 Kings 18:39 : think the same here. 2. That he may make discoveries of us to ourselves, and to others; who are apt to misjudge and undervalue us; as not only Satan did, Job 1:9 , but even Elihu also (though otherwise a good man, and the best of his friends), xxxiv. 36. But when they see our holy carriage under the cross, they can say of us, as that centurion did of our Saviour, Luke 23:1-56 "Verily, this was the Son of God"; and as one Culocerius, in the Church-histery, when he saw the piety and constancy of the martyrs, he cried out, Vere magnus est Deus Christianorum, The Christian’s God is a great God indeed. But as by afflictions we are made known to others, so to ourselves much more. We are apt either to overvalue or else to undervalue ourselves, till put to the trial; as is to be seen in the history of Saunders and Pendleton. Hard weather tries what health; wind and storms what sap; withered leaves soon fall off. Rotten boughs with heavy weights quickly break. Wooden vessels, set empty to the fire, soon break and leak; not so vessels of gold and silver. The best divination what men are is at the parting-way, as Ezekiel 21:21 . When the fire comes to green wood it will appear what is within; when the pond is empty, what is in the bottom. It is not known what corn will yield
And will refine them as silver is refined ] This is all the hurt he doth them by the fire; he hides pride from them, Job 33:19 , &c., and divides between the sin which he hates and the son whom he loves. For by this the iniquity of Jacob shall be purged; and this is all the fruit, the taking away of their sin, Isaiah 27:9 , which they may very well spare, and never hurt themselves. Surely, as one poison is antidotary to another, so is affliction to sin; when sanctified, it is no more penal, but medicinal; not a curse, but a cure: as oil of scorpions is good against the biting of scorpions; as the wine wherein a viper hath been drowned cureth a leprosy; as the juice of hemlock (a deadly plant) heals hot corroding ulcers, and assuageth the inflammation of the eyes; or as rhubarb, though full of choler, doth mightily purge choler. Moses neglected to circumcise his child (as we do our hearts, it is such a bloody work) till God met him and would have killed him. David could never see the benefit of affliction till God, by those sharp waters, had cleared up his eyesight. Gehazi’s leprosy cured him; his white forehead made him have a whiter soul. Surely, as the fining-pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold, so is affliction to the soul. Corrections of instruction are the way of life, Proverbs 6:23 , but "he that refuseth correction despiseth his own soul," Proverbs 15:32 . Winds and thunder clear the air (whereof they are the besoms, saith Rupertus), so do crosses the soul. If the outward man decay, the inward is thereby renewed, 2 Corinthians 4:16 ; and the winter of the one is the spring of the other. As the viper, when he is lashed, casteth up his poison; so doth the good soul, when afflicted, purge itself from all filth of flesh and spirit, striving to perfect holiness in the fear of God. These Jews, after they had been in the Babylonish furnace for idolatry, hated and feared that sin as much as the burnt child dreads the fire. They would die any death rather than admit an idol. Josephus tells how stoutly they opposed Pilate and Petronius, that would have set up Caesar’s statue in their temples, offering their throats to the swords of the soldiers rather than they would endure that idol in God’s house. What God is now doing with them, and for them, in this long time of their sad desolation and dispersion, who can tell? There are those who think that, after much purging and proving, as here, God will gather a Church of them to himself; according to that which followeth; "They shall call upon my name, and I will hear them: I will say, it is my people," &c. And that upon their profession of Christ shall come the sorest time of affliction that ever was, Zechariah 14:1-2 , when Gog and Magog, with all his troops and armies, shall compass the beloved city, Revelation 20:8-9 . But the Jews shall get a glorious conquest; for God himself from heaven will miraculously fight for them, Zechariah 13:3-5 , together with all the holy angels, the ministers of his judgments, Zechariah 13:5 . Sure it is, that the Turks fear some such thing as this; and therefore they cannot abide that any Jew among them should turn Christian. In the year 1528 a certain Jew, dwelling in Constantinople, became a good Chrisitian, and was baptized; which the Turks understanding, were vehemently exasperated against him for it; fearing lest his conversion should prove prejudicial to their Mahometan religion, and, therefore, they apprehended and cruelly murdered him.
And try them as gold is tried ] viz. That when I have tried them they may come forth as gold, Job 23:10 . Hence God’s people fall into manifold temptations, James 1:2 ; they fall, they go not into them step by step, but are precipitated, plunged into them; and not into one of them, or a few, but into manifold temptations, or trials; yea, fiery trials, so afflictions are called, because thereby God proves what is in his people, Deu 8:16 Revelation 2:10 . Not to better his own knowledge of them either; for he knows all things, and is intimo nostro intimior nobis, Joh 2:25 Act 1:24 Hebrews 4:12 . Artificers perfectly know the nature and properties of their own works, and shall not God see? Psalms 94:9-10 . But tentat ut sciat, hoc est, ut scire nos faciat (August.), he trieth us, 1. That he may make discoveries of himself unto us, especially of his power and goodness; and so get him a name, as Isa 63:11-13 2 Corinthians 12:9 . Elijah would have water poured upon the sacrifices, yea, the altar covered therewith, that God’s power might the more appear, in consuming it with fire from heaven, and the people thereupon might cry, Jehovah, he is God! Jehovah, he is God! 1 Kings 18:39 : think the same here. 2. That he may make discoveries of us to ourselves, and to others; who are apt to misjudge and undervalue us; as not only Satan did, Job 1:9 , but even Elihu also (though otherwise a good man, and the best of his friends), Job 34:36 . But when they see our holy carriage under the cross, they can say of us, as that centurion did of our Saviour, Luke 23:47 "Verily, this was the Son of God"; and as one Culocerius, in the Church histery, when he saw the piety and constancy of the martyrs, he cried out, Vere magnus est Deus Christianorum, The Christian’s God is a great God indeed. But as by afflictions we are made known to others, so to ourselves much more. We are apt either to overvalue or else to undervalue ourselves, till put to the trial; as is to be seen in the history of Saunders and Pendleton. Hard weather tries what health; wind and storms sap the strength; withered leaves soon fall off. Rotten boughs with heavy weights quickly break. Wooden vessels, set empty in the fire, soon break and leak; not so vessels of gold and silver. The best divination what men are is at the parting way, as Ezekiel 21:21 . When the fire comes to green wood it will appear what is within; when the pond is empty, what is in the bottom. It is not known what grain will yield till it come to the flail; nor what grapes, till it come to the press. Grace is like the stone chrysolampis, quem lux celat prodit obscurum, which shines brightest in the dark (Solinus). The skill of a pilot is unknown but in a tempest; the valour of a captain but in a battle; the faithfulness of a wife but in an assault. The wicked tried are found to be but reprobate silver; or, at best, but alchemy gold, that endureth not the seventh fire. They are αμφιβιοι , as crocodiles, chameleons, bats, spunges, &c. They murmur when tried, as Psalms 78:40-41 ; or curse, as Micah’s mother, Judges 17:2 ; or fret, and howl upward, as wolves when hungry, Isaiah 8:21 ; or faint in the day of affliction, as Saul, who lay upon the ground like a beast, 1 Samuel 28:20 , or Nabal, who lay in his bed like a block; or desert God and his cause, as those renegades, Daniel 11:32 , and those in the Palatinate, who defected to Popery as fast as leaves fall off the trees in autumn. Many titular Christians among us were, in times of peace, but as wolves in a cage, but as lions tamed by art; they wanted nothing but liberty and opportunity to show their wolvish and worrying natures, which now these late shedding and discriminating times have sufficiently discovered. "Have all these workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up God’s people as they eat bread, and call not upon God," Psalms 14:4 . They shall call upon my name, and I will hear them. No time for hearing of prayers and obtaining of suits like that of affliction. Those are mollissima fandi tempera, the time of affliction is the very time of supplication; then our hearts are largest, then God’s ear is most open. Then the saints may have anything for asking, Psalms 50:15 ; Psalms 91:15 . Thus Lot had Zoar at his request, Genesis 19:18-23 . Paul had all the souls in the ship given him, Act 27:22-25 Jacob, greatly fearing to be bereft of his Benjamin, prayed, God give you bowels of mercy before the man, Genesis 43:14 . He prayed it, and he had it, Genesis 43:30 "For Joseph made haste; for his bowels did yearn upon his brother," &c. God reserves his best comforts for the worst times; as the feast maker kept his best wine till the last, John 2:10 ; as the mother brings forth ber conserves and cordials when the child is the most sick. Israel was never so royally provided for as in the wilderness. I will bring her into the wilderness and speak to her heart, Hosea 2:14 . As a bone, once broken, is stronger after setting, and as lovers are never greater friends than after falling out; so is it between God and his people. Affliction exciteth devotion, as the bellows do the fire, and excited devotion prevaileth much, James 5:16 .
I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God] By a gracious compliance they shall, with highest estimations, most vigorous affections, and utmost endeavours, bestow themselves upon that God that hath so far owned and honoured them as to strike a covenant with them; the fruits whereof are sure mercies, compassions that fail not, all the blessings of this and a better life. A covenant is the collection of many promises, as a constellation is the collection of many stars; and though it be (in sum) but one promise, "I will be thy God," yet it is such a one as comprehends all, and is therefore fifteen times, at least, mentioned in Scripture. It is the substance of the covenant of grace, saith Junius; the soul of it, saith Pareus; the head or top of it, saith Musculus; Deus meus et omnia, saith Luther, God is mine, all is therefore mine. But then, as God must be our All-sufficient, so we must be his altogether; and when he cries out, Who is on my side, who? "One shall say, I am the Lord’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand to the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel," Isaiah 44:5 . Oh it is a blessed sign that God hath chosen us first, 1 John 4:19 , when we choose God, as Psalms 73:25 , sincerely avouching him for our God. Sincerity (or evangelical perfection) is the only absolute condition of the covenant of grace, Genesis 17:1 . God and the saints have ever judged of men by this: "Judge me, O Lord, according to mine integrity," saith David. The promises are made to it, Psa 119:1 Matthew 5:8 . God’s eye is upon it, as in David the man after God’s own heart. He blesseth the little that such have, as in Nathanael, Cornelius, the eunuch. He passeth by their infirmities, as in Asa, 1 Kings 15:14 , and accepteth their services nevertheless, as 2 Chronicles 30:19-20 .
a A boy kept for unnatural purposes. ŒD
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Zechariah 13". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter