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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Hosea 2

 

 

Verse 1

Hosea 2:1 Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah.

Ver. 1. Say unto your brethren, Ammi] Besides the public preaching of this gracious promise, Hosea 1:10, "There it shall be said unto them," &c., charge is here given that this be the subject of their more private discourse also: and that they that fear the Lord speak often one to another, We that were not a people, are now a people: we that had not obtained mercy, have now obtained mercy. Iubet per prophetam ne haec vox in ecclesia taceatur (Mercer). God commands by the prophet that these sweet words, Ammi, Ruhamah, be tossed and spoken of at every friendly meeting; I will not leave you fatherless: in me the fatherless findeth mercy: I will never leave thee, I will not, not, not forsake thee ( ουδε, ου μη, Hebrews 13:5): so many "nots" there are in the original for more assurance. God would have such precious passages as these to be rehearsed (even in the "places of drawing water," 5:11, where the maids met to fetch water, or do other ordinary chars) for mutual encouragement, and for the praise of his name. Oh, the matchless mercy of our God! Oh, the never enough adored depth of his free grace! who would not fear thee, O King of nations! Jeremiah 10:7; who would not be telling of thy goodness in the morning, and of thy faithfulness every night? Read that triumphant Psalms 114:1-8, and be you ever chanting out (as they of old at their daily employments), aliquid Davidicum; so building up one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Think but on these two words in the text, and you cannot want matter. Is it nothing to be in covenant with God, and to be under mercy? Oh, blessed are the people "that have the Lord for their God," saith David, Psalms 144:15. "But I obtained mercy," saith Paul, 1 Timothy 1:16, and that was his μεγαλαυχημα, his confident boasting, wherever he came, being a constant preacher of God’s free grace: (as was likewise Augustine, which makes him hardly censured by the Semipelagian Papists and Arminians as an enemy to nature, because so high a friend to grace). Neither is he forgetful to tell his Ephesians and others to whom he writeth, that they were once dead in sins and trespasses, but now "quickened together with Christ," &c. They were foreigners, but now fellow citizens with saints: they were darkness, but now light in the the Lord, and should therefore "walk as children of light," Ephesians 5:8, and talk of his praises, who had drawn them out of dreadful darkness into marvellous light. Come, saith David, and I will tell you what God hath done for my soul, Psalms 66:16. The Lord hath done great things for us, saith the Church, whereat we are glad, Psalms 126:3. He which is mighty hath done to me great things: and holy is his name, saith the blessed Virgin, Luke 1:49. Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi, and to your sisters, Ruhamah. Say it, say it, to brethren and to sisters, upon every opportunity, and with the utmost importunity, that it may take impression upon their spirits, and not be as a seal set upon the water, nor as rain falling upon a rock that leaves no sign behind it. The Grecians being delivered out of servitude by Flaminius, the Roman general, rang out Soter, Soter, that is, Saviour, Saviour, with such a courage, that the very birds of the air, astonished thereat, fell to the earth. The people of Israel gave such a loud shout at the return of the ark, that the earth rang again. A drowning man, being pulled out of the water by Alphonsus, king of Aragon, and rescued from so great a death, cried out (as soon as he came again to himself) by way of thankfulness, Aragon, Aragon. Let us cry as loud Ammi, Ruhamah, hitherto God hath helped us, 1 Samuel 7:12, who were lately (with those Israelites in the wilderness) talking of our graves. Say therefore with the Psalmist, "Because thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, my feet from falling, I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living," &c., Psalms 116:8.


Verse 2

Hosea 2:2 Plead with your mother, plead: for she [is] not my wife, neither [am] I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts;

Ver. 2. Plead with your mother, plead] Here of right begins the second chapter (the former verse being not so fitly separated from the former chapter), and it is nothing else but a commentary upon the first, as Pareus well noteth. For the prophet here proceedeth in accusing the people of disloyalty and ingratitude: whereupon he denounceth a divorce and punishment: and then foretelleth their repentance and return into favour with God under the kingdom of the Messiah. Now the end wherefore both the accusation and the promise is here reiterated, is not so much to confirm what had been before affirmed, as to set forth the means whereby this cast off people was to be at length added unto the Church: viz. partly by external means (as sharp sermons and sore afflictions), and partly by the internal grace of the Spirit of God, and good affiance of his love sealed up to them, by various spiritual and temporal favours conferred upon them; as so many love tokens. Come we now to the words of this verse; where Oecolampadius begins the chapter: Plead with our mother, plead It is verbum forense, saith Mercer; an expression borrowed from pleaders at the bar: q.d. Be in good earnest with her, rebuke her roundly and openly, according to the nature of her offence: that she may be sound in the faith, and ashamed of her perfidiousness. What though she be your mother, and in that respect to be honoured by you, yet she is a perverse rebellious woman, as Saul once said of his son Jonathan’s mother, 1 Samuel 20:30 (how truly I inquire not: malice little regards truth, so it may gall or kill), and therefore to be barely and boldly told her own. Besides, we cannot better show our respect to parents than by seeking their souls’ health, and by dealing fairly but freely with them therein. Not as Walter Mapes (sometime Archdeacon of Oxford) did by his mother Church of Rome: for relating the gross simony (a) of the Pope in confirming the election of Reginald, bastard son of Jocelin, Bishop of Sarum, into the see of Bath, he thus concludes his narration, Sit tamen Domina materque nostra Roma baculus in aqua fractus: et absit credere quae vidimus: yet let our lady and mother Rome be as a stick put into the water, which seems to be broken, but is not so: and far be it from us to believe our own eyes against her. Was this charity? or stupidity rather? Charity may be ingenuous, but not servile and blockish. It is not love, but hatred (if Moses may judge), to suffer sin in a dearest friend to pass uncontrolled, Leviticus 19:17. Good Asa deposed his own mother for her idolatry: and our Edward VI would not be drawn by any persuasion of friends or fear of enemies, to indulge his sister, the Lady Mary, to have mass said in her house. The truth is, those Ammis and Ruhamahs that have found mercy from God, they have their hearts so fired up thereby with a holy zeal for him, that they cannot endure to see him dishonoured, but must appear and plead for him against any in the world. Again, as any one is more assured of his own salvation by Christ, the more he thirsteth after the salvation of others; as we see evidently in St Paul, that vessel of mercy. I am persuaded, saith he, or I am sure, that neither life nor death, &c., shall ever separate me from God’s love in Christ. And what follows in the very next words, but this, "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also hearing me witness in the Holy Ghost; that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ, for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites," &c., Romans 8:38-39; Romans 9:1-4. And how effectually and convincingly he pleadeth with them to draw them to Christ and hold them close to him, that golden Epistle to the Hebrews will well witness to the world’s end.

For she is not my wife] For I have put her away by a bill of divorcement, Isaiah 50:1, with a Habe tibi quae tua sunt (which was the form of divorce among the Romans), Take thine own things and be gone. Now, the Jewish synagogue had nothing she could properly call her own, but sin and misery: when God first took her, she had not a rag to her back, Ezekiel 16:10, nor any kind of comeliness, but what he was pleased to put upon her, Ezekiel 16:14. But she (foolish woman and unwise, Deuteronomy 32:6), trusting in her borrowed beauty, played the harlot, and poured out her fornication on every one that passed by: his it was, Ezekiel 16:15. The synagogue of Rome is such another meretrix meretricissima quae gremium claudit nemini, as her own sons say of her, by way of commendation. St John calleth her the whore, the great whore, Revelation 17:1; Revelation 17:15; and further telleth us that she sitteth upon her paramours in a base manner, in an unseemly sort, she sitteth upon their very consciences, and keeps them under by force: whereas Stephen, king of Poland (one of her sons, but not altogether so obsequiuus), was wont to say, that God had required three things to himself, sc. ex nihilo aliquid facere, scire futura, et dominari velle conscientiis, that is, to make something of nothing, to know things to come, and to bear rule over men’s consciences. How she forceth men to commit folly with her by the cruel Inquisition; and bow she hireth others for preferments (Luther was offered a cardinalship; Bessarion of Nice was won over to her by such an offer; Thomas Saranzius was of a poor shoemaker’s son made bishop, cardinal, and pope, all in one year, and called Nicolas V the like might be said of Aeneas Sylvius, Canon of Trent, afterwards Pope Pius II), and for a price too, is notoriously known to the Christian world. Stratagem nunc est Pontificium ditare multos ut pii esse desinant, saith a good author. It is one of the pope’s stratagems to enrich men that he may oblige them to himself, and bring them into his own vassalage (John Baptist. Gelli. Dialog. 5). In various towns of Germany (as at Augsburg, &c.) there was a known allowance by the year for such Lutherans as would become Papists. Thus this whore of Rome imitateth her in the text: of whom it is elsewhere complained, Ezekiel 16:33, "They give gifts to all whores" (and so buy repentance at too dear a rate, Nolo tanti paenitentiam emere, Dem.), but "thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and hirest them that they may come unto thee on every side for thy whoredom: yea, thou hast played the harlot with them, and yet couldst not be satisfied," Ezekiel 16:28. It was but time therefore that God should cast her off as now no wife of his, but an adulteress of the devil, as she showed herself notably in the Trent Conventicle: where with a whore’s forehead that refused to be ashamed, Jeremiah 3:3, she not only established by a law their abominable idolatry, but also set forth that heathenish decree, whereby she equaleth (at least) the Apocrypha to the holy Canon, the vulgar puddle to the Hebrew and Greek fountains, unwritten verities and traditions to the sacred Scriptures: and further addeth, that the Holy Ghost himself is not to be hearkened unto speak he never so plainly and expressly, nisi accedat meretricis purpuratae effrons interpreratio, unless she may have the interpreting of his meaning according to her way. O monstrous impudence, deserving a divorce! True it is that God hateth putting away, Malachi 2:16, Isaiah 50:1; he tells these Jews that he had not given their mother a bill of divorcement, ut solent morosi et crudeles mariti, as cruel and froward husbands used to do for every light offence. But what he had done this way, he was merely compelled to it; as not able to wink any longer at their flagitious practices. Hear his own words, "Thus saith the Lord, Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities you sold yourselves; and for your transgressions is your mother put away." And yet not so far put away either, but that if she repent, she may be received again: and that is no small mercy. See Jeremiah 3:1, "They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the Lord." Lo, God is above law; and his mercy is matchless: he will do for his people what none else in like case would ever he drawn to do: Micah 7:18, "Who is a God like unto thee?" saith the prophet, by way of admiration. David never came near his concubines more after Absalom had gone in to them; and Ahithophel judged that act would be such an injury, as David would never put up with, and therefore gave that pernicious counsel. But God’s thoughts are not as man’s thoughts, neither are our ways his ways, of mercy, and multiplied pardons. But "as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are his ways higher than our ways, and his thoughts than our thoughts," Isaiah 55:8-9. We are not to measure things according to our own model; and to have as low thoughts of God and his goodness as those miscreants once had of his power when they demanded, "Can God prepare a table for us in the wilderness? Can he give us water out of the rock?" Surely a finite creature cannot believe the infinite attributes of God thoroughly, without supernatural grace: which therefore must be implored, and every one of us excited not to cast away our confidence which hath so great recompense, so great encouragement: but to say to our mother, and each to other, "Put away your whoredoms," &c., "Cast away all your transgressions," Ezekiel 18:31. "Ye have done all this wickedness" (saith Samuel to the revolted people of his time), but what of that? "yet turn not aside from following the Lord": for that were to add rebellion to sin, as Herod to all his other hateful practices added that of beheading the Baptist. Do not therefore turn aside from following the Lord, but go home again to him, and he will speak peace. "For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: since it hath pleased the Lord once to make you his people," 1 Samuel 12:20-22. He chose you for his love: and now loves you for his choice; yea, he cries after you, as once, "Return, you blacksliding children, and I will heal your backsliding." Oh that you would reciprocate and say, "Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God," Jeremiah 3:22.

Let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight] Not out of my sight (as a Lapide readeth it, neither according to the original, nor yet his own Vulgate translation), but "out of her sight," or from her face, (b) and her adulteries from between her breasts. Sed quid hoc sibi vult? saith Calvin here. But what may be the meaning of this? It surely seemeth harsh to say that women play the whores, either with their faces or with their breasts: and yet it is not unknown to the learned what Archesilaus the philosopher said to a young wanton, that cast lustful looks and lascivious glances upon others: Nihil interest quibus membris cinaedi sitis, posterioribus an prioribus: You may be naughty packs more ways than one. And Plutarch tells of a certain orator, that said of an impudent fellow: Quod in oculis haberet non κορας sed πορνας, that he had in his eyes not pupils, but punks. (c) And St Peter saith of the heretical sects of his time, that they had eyes full of the adulteress (so runs the original, μεστους μοιχαλιδος), and that could not cease to sin, 2 Peter 2:14. It is evident enough (saith Calvin) that the prophet in this text alludeth to the manner of harlots painting their faces, decking or laying out their breasts to allure lovers. Filthy dressing and naked breasts (saith another divine), this is whoredom between the breasts. A third calleth naked breasts and wrists, abhorred filth. Jerome saith, If a man or woman adorn or carry themselves so as to provoke others to lust after them, though no evil follow upon it, yet the parties shall suffer eternal damnation; because they offered poison to others, though none would drink it. In Scripture, women taxed for this were notorious wicked persons, and usually whores: as Tamar, Jezebel, those damsels, Isaiah 3:12; Isaiah 3:16-17 Dives, the rich man, Luke 16:19-31 Lupa Romana, the Roman wolf, Revelation 17:3. Our Henry VI, when a mask of women were presented unto him, whereof some of them showed their naked breasts, he left the presence, crying, “Fie, fie, ladies, in sooth ye are to blame, to bare those parts to the eyes of man that nature appointed modesty to conceal.” Frederick the Emperor, seeing some country wenches, near Florence, in dancing to show their naked legs, Eamus, said he, meretricum hic ludus est non virginum, Let us go hence, for this is not maids’ play, but whores’ rather. That younker in the Proverbs was met by a woman with the attire of a harlot, and subtle of heart, or trussed up about the breasts, with her upper parts naked, like a bedlam. So Levi Ben Gersom, she met him with her naked breasts, yea, with something else naked, (d) which modesty forbids to name, as some construe that text, Proverbs 7:10. So she caught him and kissed him, Hosea 2:13, with strange impudence: and no question but having caught him, her lust grew more flagrant: as by unclean touches of the face and breasts men are more enkindled. Hence that of our Saviour in expounding the seventh commandment, Matthew 5:30, "If thy right hand offend thee," sc. by dalliance and wanton touches, "cut it off," &c. Hippocrates observeth that there are venae et viae ab utero ad mamillas, veins and passages that go from the belly to the breasts; and that is the reason he gives of the temptation to lust that is in the breasts. "Keep thyself pure," saith St Paul to his son Timothy. And again, "The younger women exhort with purity," or chastity. It is not safe to pry into the beauty of young women. Ut vidi ut perii, &c. The eyes are those windows of wickedness and loop holes of lust. "Let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight." And let not the strange woman "take thee with her eyelids," saith Solomon, Proverbs 6:25. For prevention hereof, in Chrysostom’s time, the women were separated from the men in the church by a wooden wall. And Tertullian saith to the Christian women, Iudicabunt vos Arabiae feminae ethnicae, &c., The heathen women of Arabia shall judge you: for they do not only cover their faces but their heads too; and rather than they will have any part appear naked, they will let the light but into one eye. In Barbary, they say, it is death for any man to see one of the Xeriffe’s concubines; and for them too, if when they see a man (though but through a casement) they do not suddenly screech out. Millions of people have died of the wound in the eye. Aholah and Aholibah, that is, Israel and Judah, no sooner saw the Assyrians (those desirable young men), though but portrayed upon the wall, but they doted upon those paramours, and received them into the bed of love, Ezekiel 23:16-17. Et divaricavit tibias suas, Ezekiel 16:25, and multiplied their whoredoms. The very sight of the altar at Damascus set Ahaz agog to have one of the same fashion, 2 Kings 16:10. And Jeroboam, coming out of Egypt, where the ox was worshipped, brought home two calves with him; and set them up at Dan and Bethel. The Nicodemites and Familists hold it no sin to be present at idol service, and allege a text for it out of Apocryphal Baruch. But Mr Burroughes, a good interpreter, well observeth, that that which is intended specially here, in these words, "Let her put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries," &c., is, that they should not be content merely with change of their hearts, to say, Well, we will acknowledge the Lord to be the true God, and our hearts shall wholly trust in him; but for these external things, what great matter is in them? Oh no, they must abstain from all appearance of evil, from the badges of idolatry, &c. Thus he. Those badges or ensigns of idolatry they usually carried between their breasts (saith another author), to testify that the idol had their hearts; whereas Christ should have been there, Song of Solomon 1:13, who to show his dear love to his Church appeared to John, girt about the paps with a golden girdle, Revelation 1:13. {See Trapp on "Revelation 1:13"} Cor sedes amoris. The heart is the seat of the affections. Hence God calleth for it; "My son, give me thine heart": and the devil strives for it, Luke 22:3, Acts 5:3. Once he strove about a dead man’s body, 1:9, but his design therein was to have set up an idol for himself in the hearts of the living. His eldest son and successor, the pope, useth the same policy. It was a watch word in Gregory XIII’s time, in Queen Elizabeth’s days, My son, give me thy heart: dissemble, go to Church, be a Papist in heart, and then do what ye will: take the oath of allegiance, supremacy, anything that shall be put to you, I will absolve you. Do but carry a crucifix between your breasts (that is the place where they wear such idols), and kiss it when you have sworn (as Louis XI of France used to do), and it shall suffice. An oath upon the conscience of a popish idolater is like a collar upon a monkey’s neck, - that he will slip on for his master’s pleasure and slip off again for his own. Pascenius scoffs King James for the invention of the oath of allegiance. Equivocation the Jesuits have invented, or revived rather, ad consolationem afflictorum Catholicorum, for the comfort of afflicted Catholics, as Garnet and Blackwell profess. So impudent is idolatry, such frontless whoredoms appear in their very faces, they openly prostitute themselves; Imo volunt extare signa foeditatis sum, saith Calvin, here they hang out their filthy superstitions in the sight of the sun, as Sodom: they set them upon the cliff of the rock, as Jerusalem, Ezekiel 24:7-8, ut similes sint publicis scortis, like common whores that solicit lovers, and send to them, as she, Ezekiel 23:2-21. It was a sad complaint God made, Hosea 7:1 of this prophecy, "When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, then it broke forth as the leprosy in their foreheads": their fornications were not only covert, but overt. Their whoredoms in the face were their worshipping the two golden calves and Baalim (saith Pareus); their "adulteries between their breasts" were their trust in idols, in the arm of flesh, in confederacies, &c., when they would seem nevertheless to trust in God alone: as now the Papists profess to do, and have therefore coined diverse nice distinctions of worship, per se, et per accidens, proprie, et impropriae, and a hundred the like evasions. But there is no hiding of their asses’ ears by these subtilties. Dr Reynolds, in his Books de Idolatria Romana, hath (among others) proved them rank idolaters. Weston writes, that his head ached in reading that book; but they all yield it unanswerable: and yet they "repent not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood, which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk," Revelation 9:20. But, as those that make them are like unto them, so are all those that trust in them, stockish and stupid; given up to the efficacy of error, to believe a lie, yea, and that against common sense, Isaiah 44:17, which is no small stumblingblock to both Jews and Mahometans.


Verse 3

Hosea 2:3 Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst.

Ver. 3. Lest I strip her naked] Deus ideo minatur ut non puniat. God therefore threateneth, that he may not proceed to punish. Here he doth not so much direct as threaten, as conditionally terrify, from the pernicious effect or sad issue of their adulteries, a full and final desolation, after an utter deprivation of God’s gifts and graces, shadowed under a fourfold metaphor. 1. Of stripping her of all her borrowed beauty, those jewels, and that comeliness that he had put upon her. 2. Of reducing her to her first forlorn condition wherein he found her, Ezekiel 16:6, viz. in her blood, in her blood, in her blood, as it is there said and set out for greater emphasis. 3. Of laying her waste as a wilderness (by the incursions and hostilities of cruel enemies), or, as in the wilderness (so some read it, by understanding the particle in) that is, as in the wilderness of Arabia, where they were put to great straits when they came out of Egypt. The very first handful God gave them there was bitterness and thirst. It was by Marah that they came to Elim, &c. 4. Of afflicting and punishing her with the most miserable and insufferable kind of death; "I will slay her with thirst," which is worse than to be slain with hunger. All which is foretold, with some hope nevertheless of grace and forgiveness, if she return and seek the Lord; as by the word lest is secretly given to understand:

Lest I strip her naked] As a jealous husband snatcheth away with indignation the clothes and ornaments that he had bestowed upon his adulterous wife. The Lord threateneth the wanton women of Zion to make naked their secret parts, Isaiah 3:17, so that their shame should be seen, Isaiah 47:3, even all their nakedness, Ezekiel 16:37, to discover their skirts upon their face, as Nahum 3:5. Thus the great whore of Babylon is threatened with nakedness, Revelation 17:16. And this we see already performed upon her in part, as Mr Philpot barely told Chadsey in that vehement expression of his, "Before God, you are bare breeched in all your religion": he uttereth it somewhat more grossly. There was a base custom in Rome, that when any woman was taken in adultery, they compelled her (for a punishment) openly and beastly to play the harlot: ringing a bell while the deed was doing, that all the neighbours might be made aware. This the good Emperor Theodosius took away, and made better laws for the punishment of adultery. God, when he threateneth to strip the Jewish synagogue naked, meaneth (saith Mercer) that he will take away ornamenta regai et sacerdotii, those ornaments of the kingdom and of the priesthood, leave them, as 2 Chronicles 15:3, without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law, sine lege, sine rege, sine fide, without law, a king and trust, as the Brazilians are said to be. "The children of Israel" (saith our prophet, Hosea 3:4, where he interprets this text) "shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacririce, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim"; that is, without any form of civil government, and without any exercise of true (yea, or of false) religion. What a comfort was it to good David, in his banishment, and after the slaughter of the priests by Saul (even "fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod," 1 Samuel 22:18), that Abiathar, the son of Ahimelech, came down to him to Keilah, with an ephod in his hand, and that thereby he could inquire of God what to do, as he did! 1 Samuel 30:7. And what a grief and misery to Saul, that God had forsaken him in those visible pledges of his favour, and would not be found of him! Hence he lay all open and naked to his enemies, who now might do what they would to him, and none to hinder them. This also was the case and condition of the people, when Aaron (by making the golden calf at their command) had made the people "naked unto their shame among their enemies," Exodus 22:25, that is destitute of God’s powerful protection, and deprived of their former privileges. A people, or a person, may sin away their happiness, and forfeit the favours they formerly enjoyed. A hypocrite may lose his gifts and common graces; as that idle and evil servant did his talent; his light may be put out in obscure darkness. See Ezekiel 43:11; Ezekiel 43:17. {See Trapp on "Ezekiel 43:11"} {See Trapp on "Ezekiel 43:17"}

And set her as in the day that she was born] Not only nudam tanquam ex matre, Naked as ever she was born (the Albigenses in France, those old Protestants, were turned out stark naked, both men and women, at the taking of Caracasson, by command of the popish bishop: and so were thousands of good Christians by the bloody rebels in Ireland now of late), but as she was born of the Amorite and Hittite; her navel was not cut, her birth blot was not washed in water, nay, she was cast out into the open field, and no eye pitied her (as the princess did Moses, and as the shepherdess did Romulus and Remus). See all this and more, most elegantly set out, Ezek. xvi., together with what high honour and sumptuous ornaments God did put upon her, Hosea 2:11-12. What this people were in the day of their nativity, Joshua telleth them in part, Joshua 24:2 : "Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and served other gods." And I took your father Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees, as a brand out of that fire, &c., and gave him Isaac. And I gave unto Isaac Jacob, who, together with his children, went down into Egypt, where they fell to the worshipping of idols, Ezekiel 16:26. And although they were there, held under miserable servitude, yet they continued exceeding wicked and abominable. The fire of their afflictions seemed to harden their hearts as much as the fire of the furnace did the bricks they made. Hence, as they hardened their hearts, God hardened his hand, and had hastened their destruction, had it not been that he had feared the wrath of the enemy: lest their "adversaries should behave themselves strangely, and lest they should say, Our hand is high, and the Lord hath not done all this," Deuteronomy 32:27. The Psalmist was sensible of all this, and therefore saith, "Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt, they remembered not the multitudes of thy mercies, but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red Sea. Nevertheless, he saved them for his name’s sake," Psalms 106:7-8. And what was it else but the respect to his own great name and the remembrance of his holy covenant that moved the Lord to premonish this perverse people of their present danger: and not to suffer his whole wrath to arise against them, and to rush in upon them without a Ne forte, "lest I set her as in the day," &c. "Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God," Amos 4:12, with entreaties of peace, lest your house be left unto you desolate, Luke 21:20; lest wrath seize upon you, and that without remedy.

And make her as a wilderness] After that I have brought her out of a wilderness, and set her in a land that floweth with milk and honey. God can quickly curse our blessings, and destroy us after that he hath done us good. See this excellency set forth, Isaiah 5:5, Jeremiah 17:5-6, Psalms 107:34, Zechariah 7:14, {See Trapp on "Isaiah 5:5"} {See Trapp on "Jeremiah 17:5"}{see Trapp on "Zechariah 7:14"}{see Trapp on "Jeremiah 17:6"} {See Trapp on "Zechariah 7:14"} and take heed lest living in God’s good land, but not by God’s good laws, we forfeit all into his hands, and he take the forfeiture. For he had rather that wild beasts should devour the good of the land, yea, that satyrs and devils should dance there, than that wicked and stubborn sinners should enjoy it. If Philip of Spain could say he would rather have no subjects than Lutheran subjects; and if the council of Toulouse (out of a like blind zeal for propagating popery) did decree that the very house should be pulled down in qua fuerit inventus haereticus, wherein a heretic (as they then called God’s true servants) was found; how much more shall the King of heaven, the righteous Judge, root out and pluck up a rabble of rebels that refused to be ruled by him! Idolatry is a land desolating sin, and brings in the devouring sword, 5:8, Psalms 78:58-59; Psalms 78:62, Jeremiah 22:7-9. Cavete ab idolis, Beware of idols, 1 John 5:21.

And slay them with thirst] Surgit hic oratio, surgit afflictio. To be slain with thirst is a grievous judgment. Lysimachus parted with his kingdom for a draught of water in a dry land; and made himself of a great king a miserable captive to the king of Getae. Darius, fleeing from his enemies, was glad to drink of a dirty puddle that had carrion lying in it; professing it was the sweetest draught that ever he drank in his life. Dives would have given all that ever he was worth for a drop of cold water. The members, enfeebled for want of due moisture, seek to the veins for relief, the veins to the liver, the liver to the entrails, the entrails to the ventricle, the ventricle to the orifice. But these being not able to impart what they cannot receive, out he cries, "Father Abraham." But hospitable Abraham hath it not for him: fire and brimstone, storm and tempest, is now the portion of his cup: extreme thirst is a piece of hell’s pains, and one of the greatest of earth’s miseries. A dear servant of God in Queen Mary’s days (kept and pined in prison) would fain have drunk his own water: but for want of nourishment could make none. Inward refreshings he had, even those divine consolations of the martyrs: he drank of the river of God’s pleasures, Psalms 36:8, which cast him into a sweet sleep: at which time one clad all in white seemed to stand before him and to say, Samuel, Samuel, be of good cheer, for after this day thou shalt never be hungry or thirsty more (for soon after this he was buried): and from that time till he should suffer, he felt neither hunger nor thirst (as himself declared), though he were kept by the cruel Bishop of Norwich with two or three morsels of bread every day, and three spoonfuls only of water. Mercer expounds this text of spiritual thirst, the same that was foretold by Amos, Amos 8:11, Ideoque subdit, Hosea 2:4, saith Oecolampadius, and therefore God addeth in the next verse, that he will not have mercy upon her children, but will kill them with death, hurl them to hell, as he threateneth to do Jezebel’s children, Revelation 2:23. Oh, when the poor soul shall be in a wilderness, in a dry and thirsty land, scorched and parched with the sense of sin and fear of wrath; when the terrors of God fall thick upon it, even the envenomed arrows of the Almighty; besides the buffetings of Satan, that hail-shot, hell-shot of fiery darts, Ephesians 6:16, so called for the dolor and distemper they work (in allusion to the poisoned darts used in war by the Scythians and other nations, the venomous heat whereof is like a fire in the flesh), - when conscience, I say, shall by this means lie burning and boiling, what would it not give for a cup of consolation, yea, for any consolation in Christ as the apostle hath it, Philippians 2:1, for any Beerlahairoi, to fill the bottle at, yea, for any Enhakkore, any cleft in a jaw bone to revive a thirsty Samson, that must else be slain with thirst, Genesis 16:14, 15:19. David never so desired after the water of the well of Bethlehem, as he did after God in a dry and thirsty land, where no water was, Psalms 63:1. As the hunted hart (the hind, saith the Septuagint, ελαφος) panteth after the water brooks, so panteth or brayeth my soul after thee. "My soul thirsteth for God," &c. "Oh, when shall I come and appear before God? The tears have been my meat," &c., Psalms 42:1-3. Hunters say the hart sheds tears (or something like) when hotly pursued and cannot escape. He is a beast thirsty by nature, and whose thirst is much increased when he is hunted. The female especially, in whom the passions are stronger than in males. Christ, that Aijeleth Shachar, that is, the morning hart or stag, as he seemeth to be styled, Psalms 22:1, in the title, felt his soul heavy to the death in his bitter agony; and tasted so deep of that dreadful cup, that in a cold winter night he sweat great clots of blood, which, through clothes and all, fell down to the ground. And when this Lamb of God was even a roasting in the fire of his Father’s wrath, he cried out, "I thirst." At which time men gave him cold comfort, even vinegar to drink: but God, his Father, most sweetly supported him: so that he might better say than David, "In the multitude of my perplexed thoughts within me, thy comforts have refreshed my soul." But what shall those poor creatures do that are strangers to the promises, and have no water of the well of life to relieve them, when God’s wrath is as a fire in their bones, and falleth upon their flesh like molten lead or running bell metal. Then they that have sucked in sin as an ox sucks in water, shall suck the gall of asps and venom of vipers, and have none to pity them. Francis Spira felt this spiritual thirst.


Verse 4

Hosea 2:4 And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they [be] the children of whoredoms.

Ver. 4. And I will not have mercy upon her children] Lo, here another "and" to those four before; and more dreadful than the rest. Like as that in Jeremiah 16:13, where "I will not show you favour," was worse to them than their captivity in a strange country. Say that God do cast off his people, yet if he say, "they shall be as if I had not cast them off, and will hear them," Zechariah 10:6, the affliction is nothing so great as when he sends an evil, an only evll without mixture of mercy, as here, Ezekiel 7:5. Oh, this pure wrath, this judgment without mercy, must needs be very heavy: when it is once grown to hatred, there is little hope: Hosea 9:15, "All their wickedness is in Gilgal, for there I hated them." God is not of himself μισανθρωπος, a hater of mankind, but the contrary, φιλανθρωπος, Titus 3:4. But such is the venomous nature of sin, and so contrary is it to God’s both holy nature and just law, that he cannot but hate it in whomsoever he finds it: yet with thin difference, that he pities it rather in his saints, and hates it in his enemies: as we hate poison in a toad, but we pity it in a man; because in the one it is their nature, in the other their disease. And as revenge is the next effect of hatred, wicked men may expect no better dealing from God than a man would afford to his stubborn enemy. Pharaoh had plague upon plague: neither did the Lord leave him till he had dashed the breath out of his body: so true is that of the Psalmist, "With the froward thou wilt wrestle," Psalms 18:26, and that of Solomon, "The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways," Proverbs 14:14. He hath made a match with mischief, he shall have his belly full of it. He would needs have his own way, and had it ("for I would have purged him, but he would not be purged"). Now I will have my way another while: "for thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness any more, till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee," Ezekiel 24:13. So our Saviour to those refractory Jews in the Gospel, "I would have gathered thee as the hen gathereth her chickens," I would, but thou wouldst not: therefore they shall "lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee." And I will not have mercy upon her children Lo, God is so incensed by a general defection, that he will make havoc and destroy even the mother with the children (which was Jacob’s great fear, Genesis 32:11), yea, he will dash the mother in pieces upon the children, as Shalman did at Betharbel, Hosea 10:14, he will put young and old into the same bag together, as fowlers deal by birds, which yet was forbidden by a law, Deuteronomy 22:6; his eyes shall not spare children, as Isaiah 13:18. And why?

For they are the children of whoredoms They are mali ex malis, the bad of the bad, as Jerome interprets it: they love and live in the adulteries of their mother: they take after her, as the birth usually followeth the belly, and as in a syllogism, the conclusion follows the weaker proposition. (a) Those Jews in the Gospel boldly boasted to our Saviour that they were not the children of fornication, for they had Abraham to their father, John 8:33, nay, God to their Father, John 8:41. But he as boldly telleth them, that they are a bastardly brood, yea, a serpentine seed; and that they were of their father the devil, John 8:44. And in another place, as serpents, saith he, "ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" If mercy interpose not, as the cold grave must one day hold your bodies, so hot hell your souls. But I will have no mercy upon her children: for they are the children of fornications, i.e. they are not only misbegotten and illegitimate (which though no fault of theirs, yet is their reproach, as hath been said in the notes on the former chapter), but they are children of fornications in an active sense too; they have learned of their mother to fornicate: they are as good at resisting the Holy Ghost as ever their fathers were, Acts 7:51; they fill up the measure of their fathers’ sins, that wrath may come upon them to the utmost. Children, as they derive from their parents a cursed birth blot, which comes by propagation; so they are very apt to fall into their vices by imitation: and then they sue both their own and their parent’s iniquities.


Verse 5

Hosea 2:5 For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give [me] my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.

Ver. 5. For their mother hath played the harlot] Being a "wife of whoredoms," Hosea 1:2 {See Trapp on "Hosea 1:2"} therefore I will not have mercy upon her children, but will root out all her increase, Job 31:12. Either she shall commit whoredom, and not increase, Hosea 4:10; or if she do, it is for mischief she shall bring forth children to the murderer: or at least she shall bequeath them a fearful legacy of sin and punishment, worse than that leprosy that Gehazi left to his posterity, or that Joab left to his, 2 Samuel 3:29 : lameness and gonorrhoea, &c. It is a dangerous thing to keep up the succession of a sin in the world, and to propagate guilt from one generation to another: it is a great provocation. When the wickedness of such is ripe in the field (and they have filled up the measure of their fathers’ sins), God will not let it shed to grow again: but cuts it up by a just and seasonable vengeance. Let parents therefore break off their sins and get into God’s favour; if for nothing else, yet for their poor children’s sake: labouring to mend that by education which they have marred by propagation and evil example. And let children of wicked parents (as they tender their own eternal good) take God’s counsel, Ezekiel 20:18; Ezekiel 20:30 : Are ye polluted after the manner of your fathers? and commit ye whoredom after their abominations? Oh, walk ye not after the statutes of your fathers: neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols. True it is men are wondrous apt to dote upon their fathers’ doings, and are hardly drawn off from their vain conversation received by tradition from their ancestors, 1 Peter 1:18. A bore maiori discit arare minor (Ovid). Prescription is held authority sufficient. Me ex ea opinione quam a maioribus accepi de cultu deorum nullius unquam movebit oratio, saith Cicero, No man shall ever dissuade me from that way of divine worship that my forefathers lived and died in. It is reported of a certain monarch of Morocco, that having read St Paul’s Epistles, he liked them so well that he professed that were he then to choose his religion, he would, before any other, embrace Christianity. But every one ought, said he, to die in his own religion: and the leaving of the faith wherein he was born was the only thing that he disliked in that apostle. Thus he. Sed toto erravit coelo, Antiquity must have no more authority than what it can maintain. Eμοι αρχεια εστον Iησους ο Cριστος, Mine antiquity (said Ignatius) is Christ Jesus, who said not to the young man, Do as thy forefathers, but Follow thou me.

She that conceived them hath done shamefully] She hath utterly shamed herself and all her friends, husband, children, all. The woman is, or should be, the glory of the man. Solomon’s good housewife was she, Proverbs 31:28-29. Her children rise up and call her blessed: her husband also, and he praiseth her, saying, "Many daughters have done virtuously: but thou excellest them all." Alphonsus, king of Aragon, was once resolved never to commend his wife, lest he should be accounted immodest or uxorious: but afterwards he changed his mind, and was so taken with his wife’s virtues and constancy, that he resolved to praise her quocunque in trivio, cuique obvio, sine modo, et modestia, in all places and companies. So did Budaeus, Pareus, and others. But a wicked wife (a harlot especially) puts her husband to the blush, and is a great heart-break, as Livia was to Augustus (Eudemus was both her physician and her stallion); his children also proved stark naught: which made him wish that either he had lived a bachelor, or died childless, (a) "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a shame to any people," Proverbs 14:34. It is the snuff that dimmeth their candlestick, the leaven that soureth their passover, the reproach that rendereth them a proverb and a byword, an astonishment and a hissing, a taunt and a talk to other countries, Deuteronomy 28:37, Jeremiah 25:9, Ezekiel 5:15 Such was Israel’s apostasy and idolatry, their subjecting religion to carnal policy in setting up the two calves and Baalim: when Ephraim spake "there was trembling, and then he exalted himself in Israel: but when he offended in Baal, he died," Hosea 13:1. While he kept close to God, who but Ephraim? None dared to quack, but all quaked at the name of Ephraim: he was on high, and much honoured. But when he declined to idolatry, he became contemptible: and every paltry adversary cast dirt in his face, and crowed over him. So true is that of Solomon, "The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools," Proverbs 3:35 What a victorious prince was Henry IV of France, till he (for political respects) turned Papist! Till then he was Bonus Orbi: the good of the world, but after that Orbus Boni, bereft of good, as the wits of the time played upon his name Borbonius, by way of anagram. Once he was (before his revolt) persuaded by Du Plessy to do public penance for having abused the daughter of a certain gentleman in Rochelle, by whom he had a son (Life of Phil. de Mornay). Hereunto he was drawn with some difficulty, being ready to fight a battle: and this was no disgrace to him. But when, by compliance at least, he became an idolater for lucre of a crown and love of life, he became a vile person, as Antiochus is called, Daniel 11:21, and was worthily lashed with rods by the pope, in the person of his ambassadors; and butchered by the instigation of those Jesuits whom he basely recalled into France, whence they had been banished, and admitted them into his bosom; making Father Cotton his confessor et sic probrose se gessit, et rem confusione dignam admisit, as here. He both shamed and undid himself.

For she hath said, I will go after my lovers] Amasios meos, My sweethearts, those that have drawn away my heart from my husband. But if that persecutor could say to the martyr, What a devil made thee to meddle with the Scriptures? how much better might it be said to the synagogue, and so to all apostates, What a devil meant you to go a whoring from such a husband who is totus, totus desiderabilis, altogether lovely, even the chief of ten thousand, Song of Solomon 5:16, after dumb idols, and false prophets, who are their brokers ( proxenetae et proci) and spokesmen? Athenaeus brings in Plato bewailing himself and his own condition, that he was taken so much with a filthy whore. Adultery is a filthiness in the abstract: so is also idolatry: and therefore idols are called by a word that signifieth the very excrements that come out of a man, {gelulim, Ezekiel 22:8} a term too good for those dung hill deities, those abominable idolatries, as St Peter expresseth it, 1 Peter 4:3. Mention is made in histories of a certain heathen people that punish adultery with death: and with such a death as is suitable to the sin. For they thrust the adulterer’s or adulteress’s head into the paunch of a beast where lieth all the filth and garbage of it, there to be stufficated to death. Sodom and Gomorrah had fire from heaven for their burning lust, and stinking brimstone for their stinking brutishness. They are also thrown out (as St Jude phraseth it) for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire, προκεινται, 1:7. And in the like pickle are the beast and the false prophet (those arch-idolaters), for these both are cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone, Revelation 19:20. And worthily, since they declared their sin as Sodom, they hid it not, Isaiah 3:9. And as this housewife in the text, who said, "I will go after my lovers"; she did, of wickedness forethought, upon deliberation, de industria, ex consilio, wilfully and of purpose, impudently and without all shame of sin, say, "I will go after." This was shameless indeed: they should rather have gone after her, than she after them. Moses fitly compareth a whore to a salt bitch that is followed after by all the dogs in a town, Deuteronomy 23:18. "Am I a dog’s head?" said Abner to Ishbosheth, 2 Samuel 3:8, that is, Am I so given to lust and lasciviousness as dogs are that run after every salt bitch? But this harlot verified that saying in Ezekiel: The contrary is in thee from other women in thy whoredoms: whereas none followed thee to commit whoredoms, thou followest them; and gloriest in thy so doing, as Lot’s daughters did in their detestable incest, naming their children, Moab, that is, a birth by my father; and Benammi, that is, begotten by one of my near kindred. These all might have held their tongues with shame enough. But such kind of sinners are singularly impudent, Jeremiah 3:3, infatuated, Hosea 4:11, and past feeling, Ephesians 4:19. And so are idolaters wickedly wilful, and irreclaimable for most part. See Jeremiah 44:16-17; Jeremiah 2:10, Isaiah 44:19-20 : "A seduced heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul; nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?" How stiff are Papists to this day in defence of their image worship! how severe against such as deface or but disgrace them! Murder is not so heinous a sin.

That give me my bread and my water, &c.] What can be more like to the doings of the Papists than this? saith Danaeus. Who knows not what suit they make, and what thanks they return to their he-saints and she-saints, and how they sacrilegiously transfer the glory due to God alone, to the creature. The Lord rightly resolveth the genealogy of grain, wine, and oil into himself, Hosea 2:22 of this chapter. And the apostle tells us that it is he that "filleth men’s hearts with food and gladness," Acts 14:17.

-- “ Et cum charissima semper

Munera sint Author quae preciosa facit. ”

This should make us lift up many a humble, joyful, and thankful heart to God: well content if we may have offam et aquam, bread and water, and the gospel; and vowing with Jacob, Genesis 28:20, that if God will give us bread to eat and raiment to put on, then shall he be our God, and we will honour him with the best of our substance. As for other gods, whether pagan or papagan, say we as that heathen did, Contemno minutulos istos deos modo Iove mihi propitium habeam, I care not for these petty deities: I trust in the living God, who giveth us all things richly to enjoy: all things, I say, both ad esum, et ad usum, for back and belly (besides better things), which is all that carnal people care for. There be many (too many) that say (and can skill of no other language), Who will show us any good? Psalms 4:6; who will give us bread, water, wool, oil? &c.; they look no higher, know no heaven but plenty, hell but penury, God but their belly, whereunto they offer sacrifice, with Poliphemus, and care for no more, quam ut ventri bene sit ut lateri, than that their bellies may be filled, their backs fitted. Let them have but plenty of victuals, and the queen of heaven shall be their good lady, Jeremiah 44:17. Base spirits look only after low things: gain and credit carry them any way. They work for their penny a day; and are like little children, which will not say their prayers unless they may be promised their breakfast. Whereas a true worshipper of God soareth aloft, hath his feet, at least, where other men’s heads are, trades for higher commodities, cannot be put off with mean matters. When great gifts were sent to Luther, he refused them with this brave speech, Valde protestatus sum me nolle sic satiari: I deeply protested that I would not be put off by God with these low things (Melch. Adam). The Papists offered to make him a cardinal if he would be quiet. He replied, No, not if I might be pope. They sent Vergerius, the pope’s nuncio, (b) to tempt him with preferment, and to tell him of Aeneas Sylvius, who following his own opinions, with much slavery and labour, could get no further preferment than to be Canon of Trent, but being changed to the better, became bishop, cardinal, and, finally, Pope Pius II. The same Vergerius also minded him of Bessarion of Nice, who of a poor collier of Trapezond, became a great renowned cardinal, and wanted not much of being pope. But what said Luther to all this? Contemptus est a me Romanus et favor et furor, I care neither for the favour nor fury of Rome. The bramble thought it a brave business to reign over the trees: not so the vine and fig tree. We read of Pope Silvester, that he gave his soul to the devil for seven years’ enjoyment of the popedom; which Luther spurned at. One good cast of God’s loving countenance was more to David than a confluence of all outward comforts and contentments. "Thou hast put gladness in my heart," saith he, "more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased," Psalms 4:7. Their grain and their wine he calleth it; because it is their portion (poor souls), and they are too well paid of it. Wealth upon any terms is welcome to them, and those are their lovers that will keep them to it, yea, though it be the devil himself: whose language also here they seem to have learned when they say, "My grain and my water," &c. All is their own if you will believe them: like as the devil said to our Saviour, Luke 4:6, "All this wealth is mine, and to whomsoever I will, I give it." But God is the true proprietary, the owner of all: and it is his alone to say Cui vole, do illa, Daniel 4:22. The devil is god of this world, 2 Corinthians 4:4; but it is but titular only, as a king at chess; or at best, by usurpation only, as Absalom was a king; and as the pope is lord of all the kingdoms of the world, both for temporals and spirituals, to dispose of them at his pleasure. When he makes cardinals, he useth these big swollen words, Estote confratres nostri, et principes mundi, Be you brethren to us, and princes of the world. And by such high honours, bishoprics, and benefices, he prevaileth with very many to be wholly at his devotion. One of his poor beneficiaries ingenuously confessed that he and those of his rank preached the gospel for nothing else, nisi ut nos pascat et vestiat, than to get a poor living by it. Let saints say, Non est mortale quod opto, We breathe after better things: we have the moon under our feet, Revelation 12:1, and are above grain, wool, flax. The devil shall not stop our mouths with these palterments. Balaam may run and ride after the wages of wickedness, and get a sword in his guts. Ahab may make a match with mischief, and sell himself to do wickedly; Judas hunt after lying vanities, and hasten to his own place; but Moses was of another spirit, and "refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter," Hebrews 11:24. And those worthies that were tempted with offers of profit and preferment, could not be won over, but resisted the devil, and he fled from them, Hebrews 11:37. The world was crucified to St Paul, and he to the world, he was of too generous a spirit: he was no malleable matter: all was but dung and dog’s meat in his account, Philippians 3:8. Dr Taylor, martyr, was promised not only his pardon, but great promotion; yea, a bishopric: but he would have none of it. Another Dr Taylor, Bishop of Lincoln, was violently thrust out of the parliament house in his robes, in Queen Mary’s reign, and deprived. So was Hirmanius, Archbishop of Colen, for certain reformations done by the aid and advice of Martin Bucer. I dare say (said Bishop Bonner to Mr Hawkes, martyr) - that Cranmer would recant if he might have his living: so judging others by himself. But Latimer and Shaxton parted with their bishoprics in King Henry VIII’s time, rather than submit to the Six Articles. And John Knox refused a bishopric offered him by King Edward VI, as having aliquid commune cum Antichristo (Knox’s Life, by Mr Clark): so did Miles Coverdale in Queen Elizabeth’s reign, choosing rather to continue a poor schoolmaster. Pliny saith of Cato, that he took as much glory in those dignities and honours that he denied as he did in those that he enjoyed (Plin. Nat. Hist. praef.). He was wont also to say that he had rather men should question why he had no statue or monuments erected to him, than why he had: certainly it is so with the saints; and upon better grounds.


Verse 6

Hosea 2:6 Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths.

Ver. 6. Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns] i.e. with difficulties and distresses. So God had fenced up Job’s way that he could not pass, Job 19:8, he had thrown the cross in his way, to stop him in his career. And so he had hedged the Church about, that she could not get out, Lamentations 3:7, he had enclosed her ways with hewn stone, and made her paths crooked, Lamentations 3:9. A great mercy if well considered, though grievous to the flesh, that loveth not to be cooped or kept within compass. Man is fitly compared to a wild ass’s colt used to the wilderness, snuffing up the wind at her pleasure, rude and unruly, untamed and untractable, Jeremiah 2:24, Job 11:12. To be kept by hedges and fences within a pasture, seems to such no small punishment: neither count they anything liberty but licentiousness; or a merry life, unless they may have the devil their playfellow: but the devil plays at no small games: capite blanditur, ventre oblectat, cauda ligat: he plays indiscriminately, he lies in wait for the precious life, as that harlot, Proverbs 6:26; nothing less will content him. In great wisdom, therefore, and no less mercy to men’s souls, doth God restrain, and bind them by afflictions that they may not run wild as they would nor feed upon the devil’s commons, which would fatten them indeed, but for the slaughter. This made Job prize affliction as a special favour, Job 7:18. Jeremiah prayeth, "Correct me, O Lord," Jeremiah 10:24; and Luther to like purpose, Feri Domine, feri clementer: Strike, Lord, strike, it shall be a mercy. And King Alfred prayed God always to send him some sickness, whereby his body might be tamed, and he the better affectioned to Godward. It is observed by one of our chroniclers, that affliction so held in the Saxon kings in the Danish wars, as having little outlets or leisure for ease and luxury, they were made the more pious, just, and careful in their government: otherwise it had been impossible so to have held out. Sure it is that if God did not hedge us in (as by his hedge of protection, Isaiah 5:5, so) by his hedge of affliction, as here, no reason would rule us, no cords of kindness would contain us within the bounds of obedience. David himself, before he "was afflicted, I went astray," saith he: but God brought him home again by weeping cross. He once so leapt over the pale, that he broke his bones, and felt the pain of it to his dying day: he brake God’s hedge, and a serpent bit him, Ecclesiastes 10:8; his conscience flew in his face, the guilt whereof is compared by Solomon to the biting of a serpent and sting of an adder, Proverbs 23:32; "he roared for the disquietness of his heart": but better so, than roar in hell, where is punishment without pity, misery without mercy, sorrow without succour (help), crying without comfort, mischief without measure, torment without end and past imagination. The prophet Amos likeneth incorrigible persons to horses running upon a rock, where first they break their hoofs, and then their necks, Amos 6:12. Another fitly compareth them to that Jesuit in Lancashire, who followed by one that found his glove with a desire to restore it him, but pursued inwardly by a guilty conscience, leaps over a hedge, plunges into a clay pit behind it unseen and unthought of, wherein he was drowned. To prevent their deserved destruction (if it may be) God telleth them here that he will not only hedge them in but wall up their way.

And make a wall] Macerabo maceriam, I will wall a wall, and immure her: as jealous husbands do their wives whom they mistrust. And this God speaks by an apostrophe to others, as loathing the thought that ever he should be put to it.

I will make a wall that she shall not find her paths] q.d. I will hamper her and handle her as she was never handled. By a like passionate apostrophe, Genesis 49:4, old Jacob, speaking of Reuben’s incest, "Thou wentest up to thy father’s bed: then defiledst thou it": moved with the odiousness of the fact, he breaks off his speech with Reuben, and turning him to the rest, he addeth, "He went up to my couch": q.d. Out upon it, I am the worse to think of it. Maginus tells us, that in Lithuania the men are such fools, that they allow their wives to have their stallions, whom they call Connubii adiutores, and prize them far above all their acquaintance. And Balthasar Exnerus telleth us of a certain Duke of Oppania, who marrying a Lithuanian lady, and going forth to meet her, when she came first to him, he found in her company one of that rank, a lusty young fellow; whom, when he understood what he was, and wherefore he came, voluit laniandum canibus obiecere, he was once in mind to make dog’s meat of him. But understanding that it was the custom of that country, he sent him home again without further hurt. The Lord our God is a jealous God: and be the gods of the heathens good fellows, saith one, yet he will not endure co-rivals; nor share his glory with another. "Why trimmest thou thy way to seek love? And why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way? Thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt as thou wast ashamed of Assyria. Yea, thou shalt go forth from him," i.e. from the Egyptian, thy present patron and protector; "and thy hands upon thy head," which was the gesture of women in great sorrow, 2 Samuel 13:19 : "for the Lord hath rejected thy confidence, and thou shalt not prosper in them," Jeremiah 2:33; Jeremiah 2:36-37. This people, to have a stake in store, howsoever the dice chanced to turn, sought to join friendship as soon with the Assyrian as with the Egyptian, and so to secure themselves: but it would not do. They followed after these lovers, but could never overtake them. Egypt proved but a broken reed. Assyria, the rod of God’s wrath, the staff in his hand, Isaiah 10:5, yea, the hedge of his making, hemmed them in by strait sieges, both at Samaria and Jerusalem: till at length the Romans came, and walling them about, till they were forced to yield, took away both their place and their nation, according to that they feared, John 11:48, and caused to cease the daily sacrifice, which they would needs till then hold out in opposition to the gospel.

That she shall not find her paths] Those highways to hell, wherein she hath hitherto tired herself by trotting after her lovers. Drusius noteth here that a harlot hath her name in the Chaldean tongue from her tracing up and down, יעתכרא, delighting to be abroad altogether, to see and to be seen, that she may draw in the silly simple. See Proverbs 7:11-12. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 7:11"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 7:12"} God is able to strike such people with such blindness as he did the wicked Sodomites at Lot’s door, subito scotomate, saith Junius, such as tormented their eyes as if they had been pricked with thorns, as the Hebrew moral there signifieth, Genesis 19:11. See Psalms 75:6, Isaiah 29:19; Isaiah 19:11-13. The fool knoweth not how to go to the city, Ecclesiastes 10:15, they are so blinded and baffled many times in their own ways. God loves to make fools of them.


Verse 7

Hosea 2:7 And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find [them]: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then [was it] better with me than now.

Ver. 7. And she shall follow after her lovers] Follow them hot foot, pursue them eagerly and earnestly, as the hunter doth his game, or the pursuivant the party to be arrested; so little was she bettered by her former sufferings. Thus the blind Sodomites continue groping still for the door as if they were ambitious of destruction, which was now even at next door by. And thus Pharaoh, that sturdy rebel, rageth against God, and menaceth Moses with death, then, when that palpable gross darkness was upon him. This was one of those wild bulls in a net that was full of the fury of the Lord, Isaiah 51:20. He was full of it, and yet lay raging against it, adding impatience to his impenitence, and passive disobedience to his active. Another bull of the same breed was Ahaziah, who sent a third captain after the two former had been consumed with fire from heaven; as if he would despitefully spit in the face of heaven, and wrestle a fall with the Almighty. And a third was that stubborn stigmatic Ahaz, who the more he was distressed the more he trespassed: "This is that king Ahaz," 2 Chronicles 28:22. These men lost the fruit of their afflictions; which indeed was a great loss, but that they were not sensible of it ( Perdidistis fructum afflictionis. Aug.). Those that belong to God shall have stroke upon stroke, one cross in the neck of another, till they be kindly humbled, and brought home to their first busband. God will strike a parting blow between them and their sweethearts; and make them pollute the idols which they had once perfumed, Isaiah 30:22.

She shall follow them, but she shall not overtake them] Persequetur, sed non assequetur. She shall meet with disappointment, but it shall be in mercy: she shall be crossed with a blessing, chastened by the Lord, that she may not be condemned with the world. She shall seek for favour and help from her sweethearts’ hands, but all in vain, they shall all forsake her, and shall change their ancient love into mortal hatred, Jeremiah 2:36, Ezekiel 36:17. It is the usual practice of the devil and his instruments to bring men into the briars, and there to leave them to shift as they can: thus the Pharisees dealt by Judas; "What is that to us?" say they; "see thou to that," Matthew 27:4 : they left him when they had led him to his bane; like as familiars leave their witches, when they have once brought them into fetters. God dealeth not so with any of his, when he is most angry. But as in very faithfulness he afflicts them, that he may be true to their souls; so when they follow hard after him, as David did, they are sure to overtake him, though perhaps not presently; when they seek him, they are sure to find him, so they search for him with all their heart, Jeremiah 29:13. True it is, that God often by the hand of the enemy, as by a pursuivant at arms, fetcheth in bankrupt tenants, that is, his own untoward and backsliding people, and leaveth them in the pursuivant’s hand, till they take some course to satisfy for their arrears. But that once done, he will soon set them at liberty, and make them glad, according to the days wherein he had afflicted them, Psalms 90:15. Let a poor soul but say, as here,

I will go and return to my first husband] That is, to God. I have run away from him by my sins; I will now return again to him by repentance. Let there be but such language in the hearts of God’s prodigals, and he will soon relent toward them, meet them on the way, Isaiah 65:24, fall upon their necks and kiss them, Luke 15:20, he will receive them with all sweetness. Iam ex hoc loco licet colligere quae sit vera resipiscentia, saith Calvin here. By this text we may gather what true repentance is: namely, when a sinner not only confesseth himself guilty, and worthy of punishment, but truly displeaseth himself, and seriously returns to God. Here we have those two essential parts of true repentance, sc. contrition and conversion; or humiliation and reformation. The former is called in Scripture repentance for sin, the latter, repentance from sin: and the one without the other is to no purpose or profit.

For then was it better with me than now] It was so: but how came you to conceive or consider of it in this sort? but by disappointments and afflictions? These are to us as Benhadad’s best counsellors, that sent him with a cord about his neck to the merciful king of Israel. The Septuagint render the text thus, For he was good to me then, or he is now. And what wonder? Is there anything to be gotten by departing from Christ, by leaving thy first love, by quenching the Spirit, and making apostasy from former degrees of grace and holiness? Can any son of Jesse do for us as Christ can? or do we think to mend ourselves by running out of God’s blessing into the world’s warm sun, as Demur did? "O call me not Naomi," said she once, but "call me Marah: for I went out full, and am come home empty," Ruth 1:20. So doth a revolted Christian say, when he comes from the act of sinning, when he hath been seeking after his sweethearts: he went with his heart full of peace, and his hand full of plenty; and meeting with a bargain of sinning, thought to eke out his happiness, and make it fuller (as Solomon did), but came home empty; empty of comfort, but laden with crosses. He hath lost his evidences, is excommunicated from the power of the ordinances, is under the terror of a wounded spirit, is buffetted by Satan, is out of hope of ever recovering the radiance of his graces, hath his back burden of afflictions: so that he is forced to confess it to be the greatest madness in the world to buy the sweetest sin at so dear a rate. David found it so. The Shulamite found it so, Song of Solomon 5:1-2, &c. No rest she had at home, nor comfort abroad, till she had recovered her first husband’s company; for then it was better with her than now; and yet now, too, upon her hearty repentance, all becomes as well with her as ever it had been before, Hosea 6:4, &c. Was it not so likewise with Ephraim, Jeremiah 31:19-21, with the prodigal, Luke 15:16-19, with Peter after his shameful backslidinging and denial? Let this then be to all God’s relapsed people as a valley of Achor, a door of hope, that they may be re-admitted. Shall Sarah receive Hagar into favour? Joseph his brethren? David his Absalom? Philemon his Onesimus? Shall that man Ahab show mercy to his professed enemies, the Syrians, that had the second time set upon him? And shall not God receive his repenting children? fetch home his banished yea, though they may seem to be as water spilt upon the ground? bring them back into his own bosom, though they have never so far wandered out of the way? He will, he will. Only he expects that they should say, and do, as the Church of Israel here, and as the Church of Ephesus is advised, Revelation 2:4. First, Remember whence ye are fallen: sc. not only from your former feelings and comforts, but also from your former fitness for God’s kingdom; that ius aptitudinale (as the schools call it) that David himself had parted with for a season, and therefore is called plain David so oft together, and not my servant David, as formerly, 2 Samuel 24:12, &c. Secondly, Repent: Sigh out that of Job, "Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me; when his candle shone upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness; as I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle; when the Almighty was yet with me," Job 29:2-4. Oh, it was far better then with me than now. Thus relent, repent, revenge upon your backslidings; spare for no pains, but be extraordinarily humbled: detest yourselves, give God no rest till he return unto his rest. Thirdly, Do your first works with a redoubled diligence for your former negligence; and tie yourselves thereto by solemn covenant. Begin (though at first but faintly) to pray, read, confer, meditate, cease from sin, shun the occasions, recover by degrees as a weak body doth by good diet, moderate exercise, &c.


Verse 8

Hosea 2:8 For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, [which] they prepared for Baal.

Ver. 8. For she did not know] i.e. She would not be known or affected, of this she was willingly ignorant, 2 Peter 3:5. Ut liberius peccet libenter ignorat, as Bernard. Her ignorance was not a mere nescience, or an invincible ignorance, such as she could not help; but it was wilful, affected, acquired: they not only desired not the knowledge of God’s ways, but hated it, spurned and scorned at it, shutting the windows lest the light should come in: and being blinded by the god of this world, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them 2 Corinthians 4:4, lest they should see and say that which nature and Scripture do both teach them, viz. that all their accommodations and comforts come from me alone. Had this their ignorance been merely negative, yet had they not been wholly excused ( Tu aedepol, si sapis quod scis nescies. Terent.). The apostle noteth, that our Saviour laid down his precious life even for the not-knowings of the people which were such as they could not help, Hebrews 9:7 ( υπερ των του λαου αγνοηματων), but their ignorance being affected, it was a high degree of ingratitude and impudence, and a very great aggravation of their sin: it made it to be sin with an accent, wickedness with a witness. Israel was herein worse than the ox and the ass (that "knows his owner and his master’s crib," Isaiah 1:3), they fell below the stirrup of reason, nay, of sense. Hence God so stomacheth the matter both there and here. Non semel hoc peccatum carpit, saith Mercer: he cannot satisfy himself in saying how much it troubled him to be thus unkindly, ungratefully, and unreasonably dealt withal: it runneth in his thoughts, his heart is grieved at it, and he must vent himself. And when he hath told his grief, and aggravated his wrong, yet he hath not done with it: but is upon it again and again; still convincing, upbraiding; charging Israel for their foul and inexcusable unfaithfulness and unthankfulness. Eandem sententiam quia sancta et necessaria est, repetit, saith Oecolampadius here; he repeats over the same he had said before, out of the trouble of his spirit, and that they might once lay it to heart and be humbled.

That I gave her corn and wine and oil, &c.] A great deal more than she reckons upon, Hosea 2:5, and yet pays her rent there to a wrong landlord too. God is well content that we have the benefit and comfort of his creatures, so he may have the praise: this is all the rent he looks for; and this he indents with us for, Psalms 50:15; the saints also, knowing his mind, promise it him, and bind themselves to it, as did Jacob, Genesis 28:20-21; David, Psalms 51:15. For they know that ingratitude forfeits all (as in this text. She would not know, but I will make her know: ut qui ex copia datorero non senserunt, sentiant ex penuria, for she shall fast another while, and go naked), like as the merchant’s non-payment of customs may prove the utter loss of all his commodities. Hence their first care to see God in all, as Moses often urgeth this people in Deuteronomy, to taste the superabundant sweetness of God in the sweetness of the creatures; to look upon all as swimming towards them in the blood of Christ, as being a piece of his purchase; and this exceedingly sweeteneth all their comforts. "God give thee the dew of heaven," saith Isaac to his son Jacob, Genesis 27:28. Profane Esau, likewise, had the like, but not with a God give thee, neither cared he how he had it, so he had it any way; but it is otherwise with the saints. See but the difference in these two brethren long after this, Genesis 33:9; Genesis 33:11, Esau, as a mere natural man, contenting himself (like a brute beast made and taken to be destroyed) with a natural use of the creature, cries out, "I have enough, my brother: keep that thou hast to thyself." But mark how Jacob delivers himself in another manner: "Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough." See a like difference between the rich fool’s Habes multa, "Thou hast much goods laid up for many years," Luke 12:19, and David’s doxology, 1 Chronicles 29:13; 1 Chronicles 29:16, "O Lord our God, all this store cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own." And to the same purpose speaks Eliezer, Genesis 24:35, "The Lord hath given my master flocks, herds, silver, gold"; and Job, Job 1:21. The neglect of this observing of God and ascribing all to him is the source of much sin in the world, and the mother of much mischief. Jeremiah 2:5, God chargeth his people that they were gone far from him, and had made his heritage an abomination, Hosea 2:7, and why? but because they did not say, "Where is the Lord that brought us up out of the land of Egypt?" &c., Hosea 2:6. Were men but sensible of what God doth for them every day and hour, they could not in equity and common ingenuity serve him as they do. He preserveth and provideth for us all; lays us down and takes us up, gives us all things richly to enjoy, commanding the best of his creatures to cater for us, Hosea 2:21, and to bring us in the best of the best for our subsistence, Psalms 8:1-9. Every good gift temporal, and perfect giving spiritual and eternal, cometh from the Father of lights, James 1:17, as naturally and as constantly as light doth from the sun, or water from the sea. Let us therefore imitate those lights of heaven and rivers of the earth, do all the good we can with those good things God hath given us, grain, wine, silver, gold, &c., and then reflect back toward, and return all the glory and praise unto the sun of our righteousness and sea of our salvation. The beams of the moon and stars return as far back to glorify the face of the sun which gave them their beauty, as they can possibly. Let us likewise ever send back to God’s own glorious self the honour of all his gifts, by a fruitful improvement of them, and fresh songs of praise. Let the streams of God’s daily bounty lead us (as the water course doth, either upward to the spring, or downward to the main ocean) to the source and fountain whence they flow. Let the returns we make be from God, of God, to God; from him as the efficient, of him as the material, and to him as the final cause. David joineth these three together, Psalms 86:4-5; and Paul, Romans 11:36. In fine, let us labour to be like the full ears of grain that hang down the head toward the earth, their original. Or if any be so graciously exalted, so freely favoured above his fellows, that his stalk is so stiff that it beareth him up above the rest of his ridge, let him look up to heaven; not in thoughts of pride, but humble vows of thankfulness. Be not as horse and mule, that drink of the brook, but never think of the spring; or as swine, that haunch up the mast, but never look up to the tree; or as the barren earth, that swallows the seed, but returns nothing to the sower.

Which they have prepared for Baal] Or, wherewith they have made Baal: lavishing gold out of the bag, and weighing silver in the balance, they hired a goldsmith, and he made it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship, Isaiah 46:6. This Baal was a special idol of the Zidonians, but first of the Chaldees, who called him Bel; the Carthaginians, Bal, whence those compositions Hannibal, Hasdrubal; as among the Babylonians Belteshazzar, Mehelabel, &c. Varro (though a heathen) inveighs much against idols and images, and saith, that they that first brought them increased error, and took away fear, errorem auxerunt, metum dempserunt. Plutarch saith, it is a sacrilege to worship by images, &c. It is thought they came first from Babylon. For Ninus having made an image of his father, Belus (this Baal in the text), all that came to see it were pardoned for all their offences; whence, in time, that image came to be worshipped. A great promoter of this kind of idolatry in Israel was Ahab, in favour of his wife, Jezebel, and to ingratiate with her kindred, 1 Kings 16:31, and this was the ruin of his house. This Baal was by the Zidonians called Jupiter Thalassius, or their sea Jupiter, and is thought to be their chief god. They had their Dii minorum gentium, petty gods (called in Scripture the host of heaven, the queen of heaven, and a little farther in this chapter Baalim); the Greeks called them Dαιμονες: which, saith Plato, are certain middle powers or messengers between God and man, to carry up prayers, and bring down blessings, &c. Quam autem haec daemonum theologia conveniat cum sanctorum et angelorum cultu apud pseudochristianos, res ipsa loquitur, saith learned Master Mede. How this doctrine of devils or heathen deities agreeth with saint worship and angel worship among Papists is easy to be discerned. A great stumbling it is to both Jews and Turks, who know it to be contrary to the first commandment, and image worship to the second (Melch. Ad. de Germ. Theol.). Whence the Turks will not endure any images, no, not upon their coins. And Paulus Jovius tells us, when Sultan Solyman had taken Buda, in Hungary, he would not enter into the chief temple of that city, to give praise to Almighty God for the victory, till all the images were first down, and thrust out of the place. We read also of a certain Turkish ambassador who, being demanded why the Turks did not turn Christians? he answered, Because the Christian religion is against sense and reason; for they worship those things that are of less power than themselves, and the works of their own hands: as these in the text, that made them Baal, yea (as if God had hired them to be wicked), they made it of the very gold and silver which he had given them, though for a better purpose. And this was horrible wickedness, hateful ingratitude. This was to sue God with his own money, to fight against him with his own weapons, as David did against Goliath, as Jehu did against Jehoram, and as Benhadad did against Ahab with that life that he had lately given him. I read of a monster who, that very night that his prince pardoned and preferred him, slew him, and reigned in his stead. This was Michael Balbus, and he is and shall be infamous for it to all posterity (Zonarus in Annal.). Ingratitude is a monster in nature. Lycurgus made no law against it, quod prodigiosa res esset beneficium non rependere. To render good for evil is divine, good for good is human, evil for evil is brutish; but evil for good is devilish. And yet, alas! how ordinary an evil is this among us, to abuse, to God’s great dishonour, our health, wealth, wit, prosperity, plenty, peace, friends, means, day, night, grain, wine, silver, gold, all comforts and creatures, our times, our talents, yea, the Holy Scriptures, the gospel of grace, and our golden opportunities, the offers of mercy, and motions of the Spirit, turning our backs upon those blessed and bleeding embracements, and pursuing our lusts (those idols of our hearts), those Baals, that is, lords and husbands that have us at their beck and check? But is this fair dealing? Do we thus requite the Lord, foolish and unwise as we are? Deuteronomy 32:5. Holy Ezra thinks there is so much unthankfulness and disingenuity in such an entertainment of mercy, that heaven and earth would be ashamed of it, Ezra 9:13. Should we do so? saith he, oh, God forbid us any such wickedness. Others render it, which they have sacrificed, or dedicated to Baal, for idolaters spare for no cost, dum Deum alienum dotant, as some render that text, Psalms 16:4, while they give their goods not to the saints (as David) that are on the earth, but to another god. They lavish gold out of the bag: as we read of a certain king of this land, who laid out as much as the whole crown revenues came to in a year upon one costly crucifix: and of another, that left by a will a very great sum of money for the transporting of his heart, to be buried in the Holy Land, as they called it. How profuse Papists are in decking their images and monuments of idolatry, is better known than that it needeth here to be spoken of. Their lady of Loretto, that queen of heaven, as they call her, stilo veteri, pillar of antiquity, hath her churches so stuffed with vowed presents and memories, as they are fain to hang their cloisters and churchyards with them.


Verse 9

Hosea 2:9 Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax [given] to cover her nakedness.

Ver. 9. Therefore will I return] i.e. I will alter my course, change my stand, change the way of mine administrations, deal otherwise with them than yet I have done: they shall bear their iniquities, and know my breach of promise, as Numbers 14:34; they shall know the worth of mine abused mercies by the want of them another while. "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," Hosea 5:15. Finally, I will cut them short of alimony, and hold them to strait allowance; and then I shall be sure to hear them howling upon their beds for grain and wine, Hosea 7:14, as dogs do that are tied up, and cannot come at their meat.

And take away my corn and my wine] Those precious fruits of the earth, as St James calleth them, James 5:7, the product of God’s great care, from year’s end to year’s end, Deuteronomy 11:12, without which the earth could not yield her increase: neither would there be a vein for the silver, a mine for the gold, iron taken out of the earth, or brass molten out of the stone, Job 28:2. All that we have is his, in true account, and he is the great proprietor who only can say (as he in the Gospel), "May not I do what I will with mine own?" Matthew 20:15. And what should he sooner and rather do than take away food from his child that mars it? If fulness breed forgetfulness (as the fed hawk forgets his master, and as the full moon gets farthest off from the sun), so men, when they have all things at the full, forget God, and wickedly depart from him, what can he do less than forget them (that so they may remember themselves), and make fat Jeshurun look with lean cheeks, that they may leave kicking, and learn righteousness? Deuteronomy 32:15, Isaiah 26:9. Neither doth God do this till greatly provoked, till there is a cause for it, therefore I will return. He may well say, as that Roman emperor did, when he was to pronounce sentence of death, Non nisi coactus, I am even compelled to it, there is no other remedy, 2 Chronicles 36:16. As a woman brings not forth but with pain; and as a bee stings not, but provoked: so here, Ille dolet quoties cogitur esse ferox, he afflicteth not willingly, nor grieves the children of men, Lamentations 3:33. It is sin that maketh him return, as here; that puts him out of his road of mercy into ways of iudgment, that putteth thunderbolts into his hand, and maketh him "do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act," Isaiah 28:21. What can a prince do less than disarm a rebel? what can God do less than take away his own and be gone from such an impudent adulteress, as is here described? should he allowr her with his grain "to make cakes to the queen of heaven," Jeremiah 7:18, and to pour ou this wine for drink offerings to other gods, that they might provoke him to anger? No: rather than so, he will -

take away the corn in the time thereof, and his wine in the season thereof] He will cut off the meat from their very mouths, Joel 1:16, and pull their morsel from between their teeth. Just at harvest, when their grain is to be harvested, God will blast it, or otherwise blow upon it; when all their old store is spent, and they reckoned upon a good recruit, they shall be defeated and frustrated. "Therefore hath God watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us," saith Daniel, Daniel 9:14. Lo, God watcheth his time when to be even with his enemies: and taketh his fittest opportunity for their greater mischief. They that are wicked overmuch shall die before their time, Ecclesiastes 7:17. Not before God’s time (for stat sua cuique dies, every man’s time is set, Job 7:1, our bounds are prescribed us, and a pillar pitched up by him, who bears up the heavens, which we are not to trespass), but before their own time that they had propounded and promised to themselves, as that rich fool, Luke 12:19, who talked to himself (as fools use to do), Luke 12:17, saying, "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years." But we know what became of him that very night; his many years were quickly up, his glass was run when he thought it had been but new turned. God shot at him with an arrow suddenly, Psalms 64:7, he fetched off this bird with a bolt while he was gazing at the bow or pruning himself upon a bough. He chopped into the earth before he was aware as one that walketh in the snow chops into a pit. He died, tempore non suo (as some render that forecited text in Ecclesiastes), not in his own time, but in God’s time; then when it had been better for that fool to have done anything than to have died, because (like Eli’s sons) he died in his sins: and, like Jezebel’s children, he was killed with death, Revelation 2:23 This made Austin say, that he would not for the gain of a world be an atheist for one half hour: because he knew not but that God might in that time, call him; and then, "what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained when God taketh away his soul?" Job 27:8. He is troubled, when God taketh away "his corn in the time thereof, and his wine in the season thereof": he is hungry and hardly bestead, and therefore ready "to curse God, and look upward," Isaiah 8:21, howling against heaven, as the hungry wolf. But first he should consider, that the corn and wine and wool and flax that he hath in keeping is not his, but God’s; and that he reserves the propriety of all in his own hand: neither hath any man aught, in reference to him, the monarch of the world, that he can call his own. The rich fool indeed talked much in this manner, Luke 12:18 : "I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods." All was his own belike: God was not in all this man’s thoughts; for if he had, he would soon have known what to have done: sc. he would have acknowledged God the author and owner of all (as Moses mindeth men, Deuteronomy 8:17-18), he would also have fed the hungry with his corn, and clothed the naked with his wool and flax, as Tyre converted did with her merchandise, Isaiah 23:18, he would have said to God, as David did, "All things come of thee, and of thine own we give thee," 1 Chronicles 29:14. Bernard reports of Pope Eugenius, that meeting with a poor but honest bishop, he secretly gave him certain jewels wherewith he might present him. If God did not first furnish us out of his treasury we should have nothing wherewith either to honour him or to help ourselves or others God’s poor, I mean, whom Solomon calleth owners of our goods, and maketh us but their stewards, Proverbs 3:27 : withhold not thy goods from the owners thereof. Next, the hunger bitten hypocrite should consider that there is worse hunger yet behind, and a heavy account to be given of the grain, wine, wool, and flax, the creatures that he hath detained in un righteousness, and spent upon his lusts, James 4:3. If the husbandman must be ashamed, and howl because the harvest of the field is perished; if the drunkards must wake, weep, and wail because the new wine is cut off from their mouths, Joel 1:5; Joel 1:11; how shall they much more howl in hell, ubi nullus unquam cibus est, nulla consolatio, saith Bernard, where there is no manner of meat, no drop of water to be had for love or money; where they must fast, and find no mercy for ever; where they must hunger and thirst in aeterno Dei, as the schools speak, as long as God is God. The sufferings of this world to the wicked is but as the falling of the leaves in comparison of the trees that will fall upon him hereafter, in that eternity of extremities. If here, "In the fulness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits, and every hand of the troublesome shall come upon him. When he is about to fill his belly God shall cast the fury of his wrath upon him, and shall rain it upon him while he is eating," as it is threatened, Job 20:22-23, what, think we, will their portion be in hell? Meanwhile God will

recover his wool and his flax] He will snatch it away (as the word signifieth) in great displeasure, as a man doth his stolen goods out of the hands of a thief; he will rescue them, as Abraham did Lot and the captives from Chedorlaomer, Genesis 14:16, as David did his wives, goods, and friends from the Amalekitish rovers, 1 Samuel 30:18-20. The poor creatures, grain, wine, wool, &c., groan heavily under the abuse of graceless persons, Romans 8:22, and God heareth them, as he did the oppressed Israelites in Egypt, "for he is gracious," he hears them, I say, and recovers them; he spoils their possessors of them, as Jacob did Laban of his sheep, as the Israelites did the Egyptians of their jewels: the same word is used there, as here, הצלתי, Genesis 31:10; Genesis 31:16, and it is a wonderful significant word, saith Mercer. St Paul imitateth it when he saith the creature shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption. This God doth when he snateheth away kingdoms from tyrants, wealth from worldlings, strength from roysters, spiritual common gifts from the proud and secure, Zechariah 11:17. {See Trapp on "Zechariah 11:17"} When men abuse mercies, they forfeit their right in them: wicked men have not only a civil title but a right before God to the things that they possess; it is their portion, Psalms 17:14. And what Ananias had was his own while he had it, Acts 5:4. And God gave Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar as pay for his pains in taking Tyre. True it is, all was forfeited in Adam; but wicked men have yet a right to all they do enjoy in a lawful way, by divine donation, till the day of execution: as when a traitor hath his life given him, for a time at least, he hath meat and drink also given him to maintain his life for that time. God dealeth not as that cruel Duke D’Alva did, who starved some prisoners after that he had given them quarter, saying, Though I promised you your lives, I promised not to find you meat (Hist. of Netherlands). That which wicked men are charged with, and shall be accountable for, is, not their right to use the creatures, but their not right using them. This makes the creature cry in its kind and long for liberty; even as birds do that thrust a long neck out of the cage (so much the apostle’s word importeth, Romans 8:19, αποκαραδοκια). And God, who heareth the cry of the widow and fatherless, and looseth his prisoners, Psalms 146:7, hears and frees the poor creatures groaning under man’s abuse.

Given to cover her nakedness] This is the end of garments, so called quasi gardmentes; they arm and fence our bodies against the injury of wind and weather, against heat of summer, cold of winter; they also cover our nakedness and deformity, those parts especially that are by an antiphrasis called verenda et pudenda (here principally perhaps intended), because they ought never to be laid naked, but kept covered, pudoris gratia, for common honesty’s sake (Vatablus), "that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear," Revelation 3:18. Nature teacheth to cover our nakedness; therefore also when a man hath committed a sin he blusheth; the blood, as it were, would cover the sin. But nothing will do that, save only the righteousness of Christ, the fleece of that immaculate lamb of God, whom therefore we must put on, Romans 13:14, in all his offices and efficacies. Our first parents indeed were born with the royal robe of original righteousness on their back; but the devil soon stripped them of it, and from that time on they became sore ashamed of their bodily nakedness (but chiefly of their spiritual), which therefore they sought to hide as they could, their privities especially. Whence some are of the opinion that to look upon the nakedness of another is a sin against nature. The prophet Habakkuk taxeth it in the Chaldees, Habakkuk 2:15, and the Hebrews there say, It was a filthy custom among them, common at their feasts. Clothes are the ensigns of man’s sins and the cover of our shame. To be proud of them is as for a thief to be proud of his halter: to brag of them is as for the lepper to brag of a plaster laid to his filthy sore: the fineness of such is their filthiness; their neatness nastiness, as one speaketh.


Verse 10

Hosea 2:10 And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of mine hand.

Ver. 10. And now will I discover her lewdness] Or her filthiness, baseness, foolishness, saplessness; perhaps the same with her nakedness, Hosea 2:9. {See Trapp on "Hosea 2:9"} How shameless the heathen idolaters were, the worshippers of Priapus especially (which Jerome and Isidore say was the same with Baalpeor, and made Maacha, the mother of Asa, guilty of that villany), with their infamous Nos, pudore pulso, stamus sub Iove coleis apertis, &c., is notoriously known; how they ran about naked in their Lupercalia, Bacchanalia, and other beastly solemnities. God threateneth to make her naked here in another manner, to her utter disgrace and ignominy ( Chaldeus reddit ignominiam, ut quam velatam desiderabant, apertam contemnant. Jerome). He had threatened her before with poverty, now with scorn and contempt: these go seldom asunder; but when self-procured they are very grievous. See Deuteronomy 28:15-68. Fornicators are fools, Jeremiah 29:23, Genesis 34:7, Shechem committed folly in Israel, and is therefore called a lad or a child {Genesis 34:19, Neque distulit puer} for his witlessness, as being carried not by right reason, but blind affection. So Amnon was for this as one of the fools in Israel, 2 Samuel 13:12, a Nabal, a Nebulo, one that falls below the dignity of a man, below the stirrup of reason, flagitious and profligate.

Spiritual fornicators are all this and more. They hunt after lying vanities, and so forsake their own mercies, Jonah 2:8, being singularly foolish (as the word here used importeth) and miserable by their own election. The indignity and iniquity of their practice, see Jeremiah 2:9-13. Satan deals by them as he did by Adam when he gave him an apple for Paradise; and set him to the tree of knowledge that he might not taste the tree of life. And like unto them (saith a Lapide here) is every wicked person who by Satan’s persuasion preferreth the creature before the Creator, earth before heaven, the devil before God, hell before heaven, sin before sanctity, evil before good. These are lewd persons of sordid and servile dispositions, homines ad servitutem parati (as Tiberius said of the Romans), men of an under-spirit, as those, 1 Chronicles 4:23. Hedge rogues Mr Dyke calleth them.

In the sight of her lovers] That her whom they have so desired while she was veiled they may deride when laid open. There can nothing befall a woman more grievous than to be stripped naked, but especially before her sweethearts: Lamentations 1:8, "All that honoured her despise her, because they have seen her nakedness: yea, she sigheth and turneth backward." It is the paint or the dress many times that makes the lewd woman lovely. Think the same of idolatry: how pompous is it, and theatrical! but God will detect it, and make it ridiculous every day more and more. Erasmus was very instrumental this way, and did prejudice Popery by his witty jeering as much as Luther did by his stomaching and inveighing, saith Capito. Though it cannot be denied but that pruriginosa istorum hominum scabies asperiori strigili fricanda fuerat, the scabby hides of those popelings called for a sharper currycomb, as another learned man phraseth it (Amama. Anibarb. Praefat.).

And none shall deliver her out of my hand] Not her idols, not her confederates. "An idol is nothing in the world," 1 Corinthians 8:4, and all nations set by God are as a drop of a bucket, or dust of a balance: they can no more stand before him than a glass bottle can before a cannon shot. It was bootless, therefore, for this adulteress to hope for help from her lovers when God once took her in hand. He would give her her due, ipsis spectantibus et stantibus instar stipitum, while they looked on and stood like so many stocks, not daring to stir for her rescue and relief. See for this, Revelation 18:10. {See Trapp on "Revelation 18:10"}


Verse 11

Hosea 2:11 I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.

Ver. 11. I will also cause her mirth to cease] Idolaters are frolic and jovial, the greatest mirth mongers, the merry Greeks of the world; set altogether upon the merry pin, they spend their days in pleasure, and suddenly turn into hell, Job 21:13. Thus it was with these old idolaters. See Amos 6:4. And thus it is with the Papists at this day. They have a proverb among them, Spiritns Calvinianus est spiritus melancholicus, A Calvinistic spirit is a melancholy spirit. Turn Protestant once, and you must for ever bid adieu to mirth and jollity, and lead a monkish, melancholy life. In their supplication to King James for a toleration, they used this as an argument for their religion above ours, because more suitable and pleasing to man’s nature. It is indeed an alluring, tempting, bewitching religion, Revelation 13:14. Sir Walter Raleigh knew what he said, That were he to choose a religion for licentious liberty, lasciviousness, and merry making, he would be a Papist. Hence the whole world is said to wonder after the beast, which is said to be like unto a leopard or panther ( πανθηρ, quod omnium animalium amicus sit. Isidor). Now the panther is admired and followed by most other beasts of the field (and thence hath his name), either for the beauty of his hide, or for the sweetness of his smell. So is the pope for those sensual delights and swinish pleasures he alloweth his followers. Lupanar utriusque Veneris Roma condidit, saith Agrippa, concerning Pope Sixtus Quintus. But what should I rake in that dunghill? Such sinful mirth, as it is base born, so it is of short continuance: God will make it to cease, and to go soon out in a vexing snuff. For what reason? There is a snare (or cord) in the sin of the wicked, sc. to strangle their joy with, but the righteous sing and are merry, Proverbs 29:6, yea, they are merry (or right set in their minds, as the apostle’s word, ενθυμει, signifies, James 5:13), and therefore they sing, yea, and shall sing for joy of heart, when wicked men shall cry for sorrow of heart, yea, howl again for vexation of spirit, Isaiah 65:14. Meanwhile their mirth is but the hypocrisy of mirth. It may wet the mouth, but not warm the heart; smooth the brow, but not fill the breast. It is like a little counterfeit complexion; as they repent only in the face, Matthew 6:16, so they rejoice only in the face, 2 Corinthians 1:5; 2 Corinthians 1:12. Indeed, they revel rather than rejoice, and the end of that mirth is heaviness, Proverbs 14:13; as lightning is attended with thunder, and as comets end in a pestilent vapour. Let the Lord but turn his hand and take away his grain, &c., destroy vine and fig trees, &c., and this carnal mirth is at an end: their light is put out in obscure darkness, they lie down in sorrow, and are all amort, they are filled with unmedicinable perplexities, and are ready to run mad, Deuteronomy 28:34. Whereas a godly man, as he hath a constant spring of comfort within him, and can be merry without music, so he can stand under the greatest weight of affliction without buckling, as Paul: he can be mediis tranquillus in undis, as Noah: he can confidently say, with Habakkuk, Habakkuk 3:17, "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation."

Her feast days, her new moons] Not the matter of their joy only shall be abolished, but the times too; she shall neither have holy days nor good days (as they are called, Esther 8:17), to keep and celebrate. Here then the Lord shows how he will uncover this harlot’s nakedness, viz. first he will strip her of her spirituals, and next of her temporals, Hosea 2:12. Her feast days, new moons, sabbaths, and solemn feasts were but apish imitations of those commanded by God, whose ape Satan will needs be. Habent et vespse favos; simiae imitantur heroines: wasps also have honey combs as well as bees; and apes will be doing at men’s actions. Satan’s synagogue may seem a true Church. The ten revolted tribes kept also divers solemn days, partly commanded by the law (as new moons and sabbaths) and partly instituted by Jeroboam, in honour of their idols, as now among the Papists, in pretended honour of the saints, with feasting, dancing, ringing, roaring of organs, &c. These solemnities, therefore, the Lord here first utterly disowneth, calling them her feast days, her sabbaths, &c., and none of his, because they did lacte gypsum miscere, mingle lime with milk, as Irenaeus saith of Plato; Non mea, tua sunt, as Martial saith of his epigrams, ill read by another. And secondly, that he will take them away (sc. by carrying themselves away captive. See Hosea 9:4-5), and so pull off their vizor, wash off their varnish of rites and ceremonies, and lay them open to all in their own colours.


Verse 12

Hosea 2:12 And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These [are] my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them.

Ver. 12. And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees] Not her wine and her figs only, i.e. her delicious drinks and deserts (even all her plenty), sed vineta ipsa et ficeta, as Rivet observeth: which shows a great deal of anger (for fruit trees were not to be destroyed in an enemies’ country), like as he discovered a great deal of fear of the Spanish Inquisitors, that brought one of them his pears (which he had sent for), tree, and all by the roots. It is wisdom to meet God by repentance, lest he stub up root and branch together, lest he "overturn, overturn, overturn, so as it shall be no more," Ezekiel 21:27; lest he cry, "Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?" since it is not for fruit, let it be for the fire, Luke 13:7.

Whereof she hath said, These are my rewards] The wages of my wickedness, the hire of my harlotry, Deuteronomy 23:18, Ezekiel 16:34, pretium meritorium. Adultery is costly. Whores must have their rewards, they lie in wait for a prey, Proverbs 23:21, and will soon bring a rich man to beggary, Proverbs 6:26. Solomon himself was so exhausted by such she sinners (so they call them, Cruces et crumenimulgas, suck purses the poet calleth them) that he was forced to oppress his subjects to supply his coffers: which occasioned the loss of ten tribes. Harlots know no other language but that of the horse leech, Give, give; and may fitly be compared to the ravens of Arabia, that fully gorged, have a tunable sweet voice; but empty, they screech horribly.

Corpus, opes, animum, famam, vim, lumina, scortum,

Debilitat, perdit, necat, aufert, eripit, orbat. ”

Idolatry also is no less costly: witness this harlot’s habit, Hosea 2:13, and the purple whore of Rome, with all her trinkets, and those masses of money that she drains out of many parts of Christendom for the support of her state. Otto (one of her mice catchers, muscipulata res, as the story calleth him), sent hither into England by Gregory IX, after three years’ raking together of money for pardons, and other palterments, at last departing, he left not so much money in the whole kingdom, as he either carried with him or sent to Rome before him. What will not men part with to purchase heaven? Now they persuaded the poor people (and still they do) that good works (and what so good as to gratify the pope with great sums?) were mercatura regni coelestis, the price to be given for heaven (Bellarm.). Idolaters are all merit mongers: they will have heaven as a purchase; they lay claim to it, as wages for their work. They say, with that wretched monk, Redde mihi aeternam vitam quam debes, Give me eternal life which thou owest me, "Give me the portion that belongeth to me," Luke 15:12. God forbid, saith another Papist, that we should enjoy heaven as of mere alms to us. On the other side, the godly disclaim their own merits, beg hard for mercy, expect a recompense of reward from him, but all of free grace; accounting all that they can do for God but a little of that much that is due to him, and that they could well beteem him: they do all righteousness, but rest in none: they know that God’s kingdom is partum et non paratum; that their reward is the reward of inheritance, and not of acquisition; and that if they could do anything this way, yet would it be mercy in God to "reward every one according to his work," Psalms 62:12.

And I will make them a forest] See this more fully set forth Isaiah 5:5-6. Such is the hatred God beareth to sin that he makes bloody weals, as it were, upon the backs of the insensible creatures for man’s sake. "A fruitful land turneth he into barrenness for the wickedness of them that dwell therein," Psalms 107:34. Thus he dealt by Sodom, which was once as Egypt, yea, as Eden, but is now a place of nettles and salt pits; by Judea, that once lumen totius orbis, the light of the whole world, now laid desolate; as Babylon, where Strabo saith their barley yielded three hundred fold increase, and their palm tree three hundred and sixty several sorts of commodities, as bread, honey, wine, vinegar, &c.; but what devastation befell it by the Medes, see Isaiah 13:19, &c. It were easy to instance in the seven Churches of Asia, the Palatinate and other parts of Germany, in Ireland, and now Scotland: and what may England look for? Shall we altogether pass unpunished? Shall we still sit safely under our vines and fig trees, and not be forested, and by those wild beasts of the field devoured? Sure it is, that no beast of the field doth show itself more raging or ravenous than do the wicked, when God suffers, or rather sends, them to break into his vineyard. Witness those breathing devils, the Irish rebels, more cruel than any cannibals. Cursed be their wrath; for it was cruel, transcendently so, extending itself both to the living and the dead. Ursi non saeviunt in cadavera: but these bears, Psalms 58:4, boars, Psalms 80:13, lions, leopards, did rage against dead carcases, and tore them with their teeth. Histories tell us that the first founders of Rome were nourished by a wolf: certain it is that the offspring of that people have the hearts of wolves, being savage and cruel above measure. Their city was first founded in blood, and so was the papacy: for the foundation of that see was laid when Phocas slew his liege lord and emperor, Mauritius, whom he stewed in his own blood. Whence the poet wittily;

Suffocas, Phoca, imperium; stabilisque Papatum.

The habit of that harlot is, according to her heart, purple and scarlet; and her diet is the diet of the cannibals. "I saw her drunken with the blood of the saints," Revelation 17:6. They are wholly bloody, both in their positions and dispositions, their plots and practices. The pope is said to be a leopard, or panther, with his feet like a bear, and his head like a lion, Revelation 13:2. {See Trapp on "Revelation 13:2"} And of their St Dominic (the father of the Dominicans) it is reported, that when his mother was with child of him she dreamed that she brought forth a wolf, with a firebrand in his mouth: and he proved, accordingly, a brutish man, skilful to destroy, to devour the man more righteous than himself, by his bloody inquisitors, Ezekiel 21:31, Habakkuk 1:2-3. I pray that God would deliver his turtle from these savage creatures; that he would cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land, Ezekiel 34:25, that the beasts of the land may no more devour them, Ezekiel 34:28.


Verse 13

Hosea 2:13 And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD.

Ver. 13. And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim] That is, I will punish the sins committed in those days wherein they went after those multitudes of heathenish gods: 30,000 of them Hesiod reckons up in his days. And Servius upon Virgil tells us, that for fear of offending any of them they used to close up their petitions with Diique Deaeque omnes, All ye gods and goddesses. Some of the Hebrews by Baalim understand Dominos domuum, the lords of the houses: for the planets are said to have their houses. Oecolampadius understands it to be those idols which they worshipped under the name of the stars, called elsewhere the queen of heaven, or the heavenly constellations. Others by Baal conceive to be meant their chief god; called also by them Baal-samen, or the lord of heaven: by Baalim their undergods, medioxuma numina inter mortales caelicolasque vectores. This was Plato’s Demonology. (See the note above, upon Hosea 2:8 of this chapter.) St Paul is thought to have been well read in Plato’s writings (his αναζωπυρειν, 2 Timothy 1:6, is verbum Platonicum), and to have alluded to him in that passage, 1 Corinthians 8:5-6 : "Though there be that are called gods" (Baalim signifieth lords), "whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many and lords many), but to us there is but one God, the Father, and one Lord Jesus Christ," that is, but one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who indeed in regard of his human nature is inferior to the Father, but yet such a Lord by whom are all things, and we by him. The Papists acknowledge but one God, but they have many Baalims, many lords and mediators, both of intercession and of redemption too. But this is a heathenish opinion, as indeed many of theirs are: whence they are called Gentiles, in opposition to the holy city, the Church, Revelation 11:2.

Wherein she burnt incense to them] Which typified prayer, both in the sweet savour and ascending property; elationibus fumi, with pillars of smoke, Song of Solomon 3:6. This should have been done to God alone, He is the proper object of prayer, as being omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent; and besides in covenant with his people: he never said to the seed of Jacob, "Seek ye me in vain." No: he scorns that, and leaves that to the heathen idols to do, Isaiah 45:18-19. "Our Rock is not as their rock, our enemies themselves being judges," Deuteronomy 32:31. He is not like Baal, that, pursuing his enemies, could not hear his friends. Nor like Jupiter of Crete, that was carved without ears, and could not be at leisure to attend small matters, no, nor greater neither, unless it were at certain times when he was pleased to look down through certain chinks in heaven, as Lucian feigneth. He is not as Diana, who, being present at Alexander’s birth, could not at the same time preserve her Ephesian temple from the fire. "O thou that hearest prayer" (saith David: that is one of his titles of honour, Psalms 65:2), "unto thee shall all flesh come." Whither else should I go? Basil makes prayer a chain tied to God’s ear and man’s mouth. Jamblichus saith it is copula qua homines cum Deo coniunguntur, a tie wherewith men are knit unto God. Damascen saith it is an ascent of the heart to heaven, αναβασις του νου. The Church is said to ascend out of the world by these pillars of incense, Song of Solomon 3:6. And as the angel that appeared to Manoah, by ascending up in the flame of the altar, is said to do wondrously, 13:19-20, so do the saints by their daily devotions coming up (as Cornelius’s prayers and alms did) for a memorial before God, Acts 10:4, and being a precious incense, Psalms 141:2, far beyond that of Baal priests or chimney chaplains, who were called Chemarims, or black ones, ab incensione thuris, from their much offering up of incense, with the smoke whereof they were blacked and sooted, as some hold, Zephaniah 1:4.

And she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels] Harlot-like: matrons adorn not themselves so pompously. Whence Cicero compares the Latin tongue to a grave matron; the Greek to a sumptuous harlot in all her bravery. This draws the senses, and is therefore much in use among adulterers and idolaters: as Papists, for instance, with their excessive gaiety in God’s service; their palls, copes, and other mass vestments of as great price, some of them, as Demetrius’, king of Macedon, robe was: which none of his successors would wear, propter invidiosam impendii magnificentiam, for the richness thereof. God likes no such doings today in his service. The high priest indeed of old was sumptuously attired from head to foot. Os humerosque Deo similis, as representing the person of God, that he might dazzle the eyes of the beholders, and breed reverence in them by such an appearance. But now it is far otherwise. Cor aureum requirit Deus, non vestem. God looks not for gorgeous array, but gracious hearts: faith and love within, modesty and humility without: these are things of great price in the sight of God, 1 Peter 3:4; these beautify the soul better than Isaac’s jewels did Rebecca’s body. It was therefore excellent counsel that Tertullian gave the young women of his time, and may be useful to us all: Vestite vos serico pietatis, byssino sanctitatis. Clothe yourselves, saith he, with the silk of piety, with the satin of sanctity, with the purple of modesty (Lib. de Cult. Femin.), so shall you have God himself to be your suitor: Christ will make love to you, and greatly desire your beauty, Psalms 45:11. "The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold," Hosea 2:13. She is like that Spartan woman mentioned by Plutarch, who, when her neighbours were showing their apparel and jewels, she brought out her children, virtuous and well taught, and said, These are my ornaments and jewels.

And she went after her lovers] This is oft objected to her as a foul business indeed: this was the sin that disjointed God’s soul from her, to the making of her desolate, a land not inhabited, Jeremiah 6:8. We must take special care that no creature creep into the bridal bed between Christ and the soul: or if any do, complain to him betime, and he will play Phineas’s part, as Master Bradford phraseth it.

And forget me, saith the Lord] This is reserved to the last, as the foot and root of all the forementioned evils, both of sin and punishment. See the lack of God’s holy fear: Romans 3:18, "There is no fear of God before their eyes." And thence it is, that their throat is a gaping grave, their mouth full of gall and guile, that destruction and misery are in their ways. Fearlessness and forgetfulness of God go always together, Jeremiah 5:22-23; these that remember him and his presence cannot but bear an awful respect to him. It is a problem in Aristotle, why are men credited more than other creatures. His answer is, οτι Yεους νομιζουσι, μονον, because they believe a deity. Man alone remembereth, and therefore reverenceth God. Those therefore that so forget him, after long experience, especially of his gracious care to protect them and to provide for them, as a husband doth for the wife of his bosom, these are strange creatures, and must look to be visited and reminded of him from whom they have so deeply revolted: for of all things God cannot abide to be forgotten. See Isaiah 17:10, Deuteronomy 8:11.


Verse 14

Hosea 2:14 Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.

Ver. 14. Therefore, behold, I will allure her] A strange "therefore." It may very well have "behold" at the heels of it: for the sense is this; because she hath quite forgotten me, and will never be converted of herself, I will prevent her by my mercy, recalling her mildly but mightily by my gospel. Seducam eam et deducam in desertum. Such another sweet text as this we have in Isaiah 57:17-18 : "For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will heal him." Ways? what ways? his covetousness, frowardness, &c. And it is as if God should say, I see these froward children will lay nothing to heart: frowns will not humble them, blows will not better them. If I do not save them till they seek me they will never be saved: therefore I "will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners: I will create the fruit of the lips peace to him." Oh, the never enough adored depth of God’s free grace and superabundant love to his people! This David well understood, and therefore prayed, "Pardon my iniquity; for it is great," Psalms 25:11. He knew that God both could and would remit more than he could commit, and that mercy rejoiceth against judgment; while God for his own sake (though not for ours) blotteth out the thick cloud as well as the cloud, enormities as infirmities, Isaiah 44:22. See his non-obstante, Psalms 106:8, his resolve, Genesis 8:21, and his mandamus, Psalms 14:4, and then it must needs be done, though no God would do it but himself’, Micah 7:18, though no man could imagine how it should be done, Isaiah 55:7-8.

I will allure her] That is, I will effectually persuade her by the preaching of the gospel. Men may speak persuasively, but God only can persuade; they may speak to the ear, but he to the heart: and this he doth to his elect, not only by a moral persuasion, but by an irresistible inward attraction, Acts 11:17, by a merciful violence, by making them willing to follow the Lamb wheresoever he goeth. They kiss the Son with a kiss of love and homage, having first been kissed with the kisses of his mouth: whereupon immediately follows, "Draw me, we will run after thee," Song of Solomon 1:1; Song of Solomon 1:4. Elisha could do more with a kiss than his man could with a staff in raising the dead child. Christ works upon his people fortiter, but yet suaviter, powerfully, but yet sweetly, he inclineth their hearts to his testimonies, and not to covetousness, Psalms 119:36, and brings them to the obedience of faith, monendo potius quam minando, docendo quam ducendo. (Recte Calvin textum hunc reddit, Inclinabo eam.) If he do seduce them (as some render the word here) it is for no hurt, it is but to speak a word in private to them, as one friend may with another: it is but to give them his loves, as he speaks in the Canticles; to show them his glory, as he did Moses; to spread before them his beauty, and so to catch them by guile, as St Paul did the Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 12:16 to steal away their hearts before they are aware, according to that, Song of Solomon 6:12, that they thenceforth may be an Aminadib, a willing people, a free hearted people, Psalms 110:3, waiting for the law, Isaiah 42:4, and walking by the rule, Galatians 6:16, &c. Oh, it is a blessed thing to be thus allured, thus inveigled, thus seduced out of the ways of sin and death, into the ways of holiness and happiness, by the doctrine of the gospel, which is the true πειθω, the suadae medulla, qua capiuntur homines, sed bone sue, the divine rhetoric, wherewith men’s minds are taken, but for their greatest good.

And I will bring her into the wilderness] Look how I at first allured my people out of Egypt, where they sat by the flesh pots, and enjoyed the pleasures of sin for a season (out of Egypt have I called my son, that I might set him higher than the kings of the earth), and brought them into the wilderness, and there extraordinarily provided for them (never was prince so served in his greatest pomp), and spake to their hearts, giving them "right judgments and true laws, good statutes and commandments," Nehemiah 9:13, to their great comfort, Psalms 19:8. So will I again do for them, and much more than so, by Christ, in the days of the gospel. Indeed, as the people at their first setting foot upon the promised land met with trouble in the valley of Achor by the sin of Achan, so shall the saints be sure of troubles: but Christ will not leave them comfortless; a door of hope he will open unto them in their deepest distresses. Death shall be unto them, not a trap-door to hell (as it is to the wicked), but an inlet into life eternal, where they shall sing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb, Revelation 15:3. Let the saints therefore rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation. Vineyards God will give them here, some grapes at least of the heavenly Canaan beforehand, spiritual benedictions, divine comforts to sustain them, such generous wine as shall make the lips of those that are asleep to speak, Song of Solomon 7:9; yea, to sing, Ephesians 5:18-19. Lo, such wine of the breasts and such songs of joy shall the saints have for those vines which before he threatened to destroy, Hosea 2:12, and that mirth which he would cause to cease, Hosea 2:11. Repentance can turn crosses into comforts, and (like the philosopher’s stone) make golden afflictions, 1 Peter 1:7. As it is the fair and happy daughter of an ugly and odious mother, viz. sin, εχθρου πατρος φιλτατον τεκνον; so it is the mother of all mercies and benefits: for it is repentance unto life, Acts 11:18, yea, to salvation, and therefore never to be repented of, 2 Corinthians 7:10. It is that rainbow, which, if God sees shining in our hearts and lives, he will not only not drown us, but do us all good.

And speak comfortably to her] Heb. speak to her heart such things as shall cheer her up, and make her heart leap and even dance levaltos. See Isaiah 60:1 cf. 1 Samuel 15:35. Observe that the same word נכם nacham, signifieth to repent first, and then to comfort. And to this purpose it is that some translate the text thus, "After I have brought her into the wilderness," and so humbled her thoroughly, as I once did her forefathers there, I will speak to her heart: yea, I will take her alone for the purpose, even into a solitary wilderness, where I may more freely impart my mind to her (so some sense it), that having her whole desire, she may come up from the wilderness leaning upon her beloved, Song of Solomon 8:5, and so be brought into the bride house with all solemnity. {Confer Genesis 34:3 Ruth 2:13 19:3. Postquam perduxero eam. After I will guide her. Tremell. Benigne alloquar. Castalio.}


Verse 15

Hosea 2:15 And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.

Ver. 15. I will give her her vineyards from thence] Or, from thenceforth: either from that time, or from that place. God, as out of his melting heartedness toward her, he thinks she hath suffered double for all her sins, Isaiah 40:2 (though she think she hath suffered less than her sins, Ezra 9:13); so he is ready, upon her repentance, to make her (strait) a plentiful amends. He destroyed her vineyards and damped her mirth, Hosea 2:11-12. Now she shall have all again, with advantage: not her grain only for necessity, but her vineyards also for delight: yea, an honest affluence of both. She shall have real manifestations of his love: and although he take her into the wilderness, yet will he not be unto her a wilderness, or a land of darkness: wherefore then should his people say, "We are lords, we will come no more unto thee?" Jeremiah 2:31; why should they not rather reason thus with the prodigal: "I will go to my father; for in his house is bread enough." I will return to my first husband, for then was it better with me than now. I will repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, &c. Lo, this is the right way of reasoning, sc. from mercy to duty, from deliverance to obedience, Ezra 9:14. "The love of Christ constraineth us," saith Paul: the grace of the gospel teacheth us to deny ungodliness, and to live godly, &c. The kindness of God leadeth to repentance: and if bethought by the mercies of God to present our bodies for a sacrifice to God, how can we do otherwise? 2 Corinthians 5:14, Titus 2:14, Romans 2:4, Romans 12:1. If God bring vineyards out of wildernesses, comforts out of crosses, meat out of eaters, honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock, that is, mercies out of difficulties, they must needs be very hardhearted that are not melted and mollified thereby, Deuteronomy 32:13.

And the valley of Achor for a door of hope] The valley was near unto Jericho, that city of palm trees, and was fertile, fat, and full of vines, Isaiah 65:10, thought to be the same with Engeddi, which is often mentioned in the Canticles. This valley was a kind of door or inlet into the promised land: and here they began first to eat of the fruits of the land, which they had so much longed for, Joshua 5:12, and now hoped for the enjoyment of the whole; whereof that valley was a pledge and earnest. Hereby, then, is covertly promised to God’s people deliverance by Christ, together with the firstfruits and earnest of the Spirit, whereby they shall be brought to an assured hope of the harvest of happiness, of the whole bargain of Christ’s benefits. Spes in humanis incerti nomen boni: spes in divinis nomen est certissimi; Hebrews 11:1, this is hope unfailable, as proceeding from faith unfeigned, which can believe God upon his bare word, and that against sense in things invisible, and against reason in things incredible. It can take a man out of the valley of Achor, that is, of trouble, {see Joshua 7:6} and set him on the everlasting mountains, where, as from Pisgah, he may have a full prospect of heaven; the hope whereof maketh absent joys present, wants plenitudes, and beguiles calamity (as good company doth the way), yea, looks upon it as an inlet to mercy, a promise whereof to apostatizing Israel some make this fat valley of Achor to be, dotis nomine, as a dowry; in allusion to the manner of the Jews in their marriages, to give some piece of ground to the spouse as a pledge.

And she shall sing there] As rejoicing in hope, Romans 12:12. Et res plena gaudio et spes, as Bernard hath it. "They shall shout for joy, they shall also sing," Psalms 65:13. Some think the prophet here alludeth to that custom of the Jews to sing in the time of their vintage, see 9:27, Isaiah 16:10. Others will have it to be an allusion to their marriage songs; that being the time of the rejoicing of a man’s heart, Song of Solomon 3:11, viz. at the recovery of his lost rib. The Septuagint render it, she shall be humbled; and indeed the word signifieth both to be humbled and to sing. Some are humbled, but not humble; low, but not lowly; these must look for more load; but they that mourn in a godly manner are sure to be comforted. God will turn all their sighing into singing; they shall sing aloud upon their beds, which they have soaked in tears, and made to swim again, as David, Psalms 6:6. A reconciled condition is a singing condition. Bernard was so overjoyed at his conversion, that he was almost beside himself. Cyprian telleth his friend, Donatus, that his comforts then were inexpressible. Austin saith the like of himself. The saints cannot but sing at this door of hope, though they be not yet got in at it. See Psalms 138:5, "they shall sing in the ways of the Lord," though they be yet but wayfarers. "God’s statutes are their songs even in the house of their pilgrimage," Psalms 119:54, as hoping to sing shortly in the "height of Zion, to flow to the bountifulness of the Lord," Jeremiah 31:12. "As in the days of her youth, and in the day when she came up," &c., out of a low country, but a lower condition; being shiftless and succourless (helpless). Then did God put timbrels into their hands and ditties into their mouths. See Exodus 15:20. And so it is here said, he will do again in the time of the gospel. Let our non-singers here take notice, that singing (and that jointly with others) is a gospel ordinance; and for further proof let them read Mr Cotton’s excellent treatise upon this subject.


Verse 16

Hosea 2:16 And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, [that] thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali.

Ver. 16. And it shall be in that day] A sweet promise of a thorough reformation, much like that Zechariah 13:2. God will turn to his people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord to serve him with one shoulder, Zephaniah 3:9, for which end he forms their speech for them, and tutors them here how to term him. Ishi they must call him, but not Baali, my husband, but not my lord: not that there was any hurt in the word, my Baal or Lord; but because it had been abused and given to idols, God would have none of it (so Tyrannus, fur sophista); or because it was grown among the better sort a name of contempt: like as for the same reason the word burden is rejected, Jeremiah 23:36. Or lastly, lest the people, while they spoke of one thing, should think of another; and naming Baal, should be put in mind of an idol. This is Jerome’s reason. Some distinguish thus between the two words, that Ish is a name of love, Baal of fear (Lyra). Others observe that Ish signifieth an excellent man, and is therefore made choice of as every way better than Baal, or Lord (Oecolamp.). Augustus forbade men to call him Lord; and desired rather that more amiable name of Father of his country. It is wisdom, when we call upon God, to make choice of fit titles, not only such as he in his word hath warranted, but also such as may be suitable to our requests, and helpful to our faith in prayer; such as wherein we may see the thing prayed for coming towards us, as it were. This will notably excite devotion. Instances of it, see Psalms 80:1, Acts 1:24; Acts 4:24-30 Note there and in the next verse, that there is no small danger in words and names. What a deal of mischief hath the word Huguenot done in France, and Puritan here. In 1572, Cardinal Allen at Rheims instructed his emissary seducers, sent over hither, to divide the people under the names of Protestant and Puritan: provoking them thereby to real and mutual both hate and contempt. His Rheimists in their annotations on 1 Timothy 1:20 warn their readers of using the words of heretics (so they call us), though they have no great hurt in them, and hold to their old terms of mass, penance, priest, &c. They call us innovators, but we may call them so bettor. The truth is, we may not teach nova, new truths nor yet nove novelties. Castalion cannot be excused in his Iana Genius Respublica for ecclesia and other affected novelties. Melancthon’s wish was that men would not only teach the same things, but in iisdem verbis, in iisdem syllabis, in the same words, yea, in the same syllables; for he that feigneth new words brings in new doctrines (it may be thought), as did Arminius. And yet it is not many years since here, among us, that he that would not be an Arminian was held no better than a practical Puritan. But let us keep our old words (said those veterans), and we shall easily keep our old faith. The devil doth sometimes speak the truth for his own ends. But was Winchester well advised when he made the Lord, and not to say our Lord, to be symbolum haereticorum, a note of a heretic. Or Dr Story, whose rule to know a heretic was this, they will say the Lord, and we praise God, and the living God. This was not Novum nomen, new name but Novum crimen, new fault, Gaius Caesar. Much like that of Pope Paul II, who pronounced them heretics that did not name the name academy either in earnest or in jest; and another pope made it heresy to hold that there were any in direct opposition to.


Verse 17

Hosea 2:17 For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name.

Ver. 17. For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth] So precise she shall be, so circumspect, according to Exodus 23:13, that she should spit out of her mouth those dunghill deities with utmost contempt, as David had done before her, Psalms 16:4. If bodily filthiness may not be once named among Christians, Ephesians 5:3, why should spiritual? The primitive Christians would not call their days of the week by the heathenish names of Dies Martis, Dies Mercurii, &c. (as Mercurius Trismegist had superstitiously named them), but the first, second, third, &c., day of the week: as not willing to have the names of those idols mentioned among God’s people. Mentioned they may be (no doubt), recitative without sin, as Baal is, Romans 11:4, and Castor and Pollux, Acts 28:11, but not honoris gratia, for honour’ sake, or without some expression of detestation of them; such as was that of Cyril, who, speaking of paganish idolatries, breaks out thus, Bορβορουμεθα ταυτα λεγοντες, we rake a dunghill in a discourse of dunghill gods. What a pathetic speech or rather shriek is that of Almighty God, Jeremiah 44:4, "Oh! do not this abominable thing": do not honour idols in the least. Shall I bow my knee to yonder jackanapes? said that martyr, pointing to the Rood in Paul’s. Should I kiss Baal? as, they did 1 Kings 19:18; or so much as kiss my hand in honour to him? as Job 31:27 were not this to deny the God that is above Job 31:28. And how can those be excused that have so often in their mouths Iupiter omnipotens Mehurcule, Mecastor, et caetera magis portenta quam numina, saith Jerome? and those that think their verses nothing so neat, unless there be often naming, and sometimes invocating too, of Apollo Minerva, Venus, &c.? Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? James 3:11. Those that say they think no hurt in all this are no more excused thereby than he, that said (Ovid),

Lasciva est nobis pagina, vita proba.

Those who thus borrow garnish from the Egyptians may therewith get their botches and boils. Howsoever, they may fear to have Bellarmine himself (who was no precisian) to rise up in judgment against them and condemn them; who would not have Paul called Divus Paulus, Divine Paul, but Beatus, blessed, because Divus and Diva were the words of the heathens for their gods and goddesses.

And they shall no more be remembered] so without indignation and detestation, without: "What have I to do any more with idols?" "Get you hence," Hosea 14:1, Isaiah 30:22 Abite hinc, abite longe, Away from here, be far gone, as Charles V said of all his worldly pomp and achievements at the last as Amnon thrust Tamar out of doors when he had had his will of her, when he had moiled himself in that filthy guzzle, and sullied his conscience. "She multiplied her whoredoms" (saith the prophet) "in calling to remembrance the days of her youth wherein she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt," Ezekiel 23:21, Hosea 2:8. Not the new scent of meat, but the remembrance of their old flesh pots moved Israel they found sweetness in a lust twice sod, they had still the "broth of those abominable things in their vessels," as the prophet Isaiah hath phrased it, Isaiah 65:4. To remember with delight sins past is to recommit them; and herein the deceitful heart is with all care to be looked unto, that when we call to mind former evil practices, though with an intent to be humbled for them, we be not insnared, and drawn to commit them afresh by being tickled in the thought of them.


Verse 18

Hosea 2:18 And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and [with] the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely.

Ver. 18. And in that day will I make my covenant for them with the beasts, &c.] At the first creation all things were subject to man on this condition that he should be subject to his Maker as his master. Rebellis autem facta est quia homo numini, creatura homini (Augustin). But no sooner did man rebel against God but the creature began to rebel against him. Look how a nobleman’s servants wilt draw in defence of their lord, and soldiers fight for their general: so here, God is Lord of hosts. "They continue this day according to thine ordinance" (and fight in their courses, 5:20), "for they are all thy servants," Psalms 119:91; ready pressed they are to seize a sinner, and to do execution upon him, as a traitor, and rebel to the highest majesty: as the sword that Hector gave Ajax turned into his own bowels, when once he began to abuse it to the hurt of hurtless creatures. Now here God promiseth to abolish that enmity, to make peace, even pacem omnimodam, peace, peace, as the prophet Isaiah hath it, Isaiah 26:8, a multiplied peace, a perfect, sheer, pure peace with God, with themselves, with all creatures; and to restore them in Christ that dominion they once had over the works of his hands, Psalms 8:6, Hebrews 2:7, yea, power over all nations, Revelation 2:26, with a promise that all shall work together for their good, Romans 8:28, and they shall be fully freed, if not from the smart, yet from the hurt of every creature. Compare Ezekiel 34:25, Job 5:23, Isaiah 11:6-7, where the prophet seemeth to allude to the carriage of the beasts in Noah’s ark, all bloodiness and rapine laid aside. The Jews foolishly argue, from these texts, that Christ is not yet come, because the lion yet rageth, the wolf devoureth, serpents yet sting, and spare not the beast. And some interpreters of ours are of the opinion, that these promises shall be literally fulfilled at the restitution of all things, which they make to be at the time of the call of the Jews. But when I find Nebuchadnezzar and other enemies of the Church to be called lions, leopards, wolves, &c., as Jeremiah 5:6, and elsewhere, I cannot but think that these might be here meant, in part at least, ponentque ferocia Poeni cords volente Deo (Virg.); according to Peter’s vision, Acts 10:10-16, and that God will so meeken the spirits of his converts, that they shall not hurt nor destroy in all his holy mountain, Isaiah 11:9. The literal sense is very good, I grant; but yet it is still to be taken (as all such promises are), 1. with exception of the cross here, 2. with expectation of the full accomplishment hereafter, in the state of perfection.

And I will break the bow, and the sword, and the battle out of the earth] These words seem to be opposed to that threat, Hosea 1:5, "I will break the bow of Israel," &c. And it is as if he should say, After that I have broken their power, and tamed their pride by the enemies’ forces, then I wiI1 punish those enemies, and so take order with them, that they shall not hurt my people by any of their hostilities. Lo, peace is a piece of God’s covenant; and covenant mercies are very sweet, when all the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, Psalms 25:10; not mercy only, but truth too, that comes by virtue of a covenant. Mark what God saith to Abraham, Genesis 17:20-21; I have blessed Ishmael; twelve princes shall he beget: but my covenant will I establish to Isaac. And in the same chapter, divines observe, that in ten verses thereof God repeateth his covenant which he made with Abraham thirteen times, to note thus much, that that was the mercy indeed that must satisfy Abraham in all his troubles, sorrows, and afflictions: for the covenant of God’s peace shall not be removed, no, not "when the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed," Isaiah 54:10. "The Lord will give strength to his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace," Psalms 29:11.

And will make them to lie down safely] Being gathered under my wings, they shall repose themselves upon my power and providence, committing themselves to me in well doing. All true and solid security, whether inward or outward; all true peace, whether of country or of conscience, floweth from God’s favour. Psalms 3:3-8; Psalms 4:1-8 Hence the apostle wisheth grace and peace, and the angels sang, "Glory be to God on high, and peace on earth," even the peace of goodwill toward men, the goodwill of him that dwelt in the bush, Ephesians 1:2, Luke 2:14, Deuteronomy 33:16. "The Lord is with me," saith David, "I will not fear what man can do unto me." I will sleep and wake, and wake and sleep again; for the Lord sustaineth me, Psalms 4:8. No wonder I slept so soundly and safely (said King Philip) when Antipater watched me. Abner watched not so well, when David fetched away Saul’s spear and pitcher, and was barely told of it. Ishbosheth was slain while he slept. The saints go ever under a double guard, the peace of God within them, and the power of God without them, and may therefore, in utramque aurem dormire, lie down safely, {see Jeremiah 23:6} call their souls to rest, Philippians 4:7, 1 Peter 1:5, Leviticus 26:5, Psalms 116:7.


Verse 19

Hosea 2:19 And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.

Ver. 19. And I will betroth thee unto me for ever] This, because it could not be easily believed, is thrice repeated. We believe not (whatever men may dream to the contrary) without much ado and many conflicts. When faith goes about to lay hold on Christ, the devil raps her on the fingers, and would beat her off. Hence she is fain to take great pains for it, to work hard for her living. The apostle speaks more than once of the work of faith, το εργον της πιστεως, 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 2 Thessalonians 1:11. And it is no less difficult (say divines) to believe the gospel than to fulfil the law. No man can come unto the Son except the Father draw him, John 6:44. The soul naturally hangs back, and had as lief put off its immortality as put on Christ: the devil also doth his utmost to hinder. The contest was not so great between Michael and him concerning Moses’ dead body as it is here between the believer and him concerning Christ’s living body. And should not God mightily assist, the business would never be done. Hence faith is called the faith of God’s power, Colossians 2:12, the faith of his operation; and what an Almighty power God doth therein put forth is elegantly described by the apostle in that sixfold gradation, Ephesians 1:19, which shows it to be more than a moral persuasion. Betroth thee, I will, I will, I will, saith God here; and some think the sacred Trinity is hero (though darkly, according to the manner of those times) brought in betrothing the Church in this trina repetitio. threefold repition. And mark, that he doth not say, I will be reconciled unto thee, and receive thee again after thy foul plays with me (for Reconciliationes fere sunt vulpinae amicitiae inter homines, Men are seldom reconciled heartily), but I will espouse thee, marry thee unto me, and that for ever. I will null the bill of divorce, love you no less than if you had continued true to me, or were now a pure virgin. Quis hanc Dei bonitatern digne collaudet? saith Drusius. Who can sufficiently set forth this goodness of God? When God once pardoneth sin, he will remember it no more; he will not come with back reckonings. Discharges in justification are never repealed or called in again. Peccata non redeunt sins are not returned, is a true axiom; and it is no less true that peccata non minuunt iustificationem. God can pardon sins of all sizes, and as soon disperse the thick cloud as the cloud, Isaiah 44:22. See the matchlessness of his mercy to a repenting adulteress, Jeremiah 3:5. What greater love can he show to her than to marry her again, and rejoice over her as a bridegroom rejoiceth over his bride, Isaiah 62:5. Yea, to rest in his love, and to joy over her with singing, Zephaniah 3:17, and to do this for ever (as it is here promised), so that there shall be no more breach of conjugal love and communion for ever between them. Area amorem illius, Oh love this love of his, saith Bernard, and reciprocate. And as the wife will keep her bed only for her husband (saith Mr Bradford, martyr), although in other things she is content to have fellowship with others, as to speak, sit, eat, drink, go, &c.; so our consciences (which are Christ’s wives) must needs keep the bed, that is, God’s sweet promises, alone for ourselves and our husband; there to meet together, to embrace and laugh together, and to be joyful together. If sin, the law, the devil, or anything would creep into the bed, and lie there, then complain to thine husband Christ, and forthwith thou shalt see him play Phineas’ part; and again, if Satan should summon us, saith he, to answer for our sins, or debts, in that the wife is no suitable person, but the husband, we may well bid him enter his action against our husband Christ, and he will make him a sufficient answer. Thus Mr Bradford in a certain letter of his unto a friend.

In righteousness and in judgment, in lovingkindness, &c.] These are the gems of that ring that Christ bestoweth upon his spouse, saith Mercer. These are those κειμηλια, or love tokens, that Christ the bridegroom giveth to his bride the Church, saith Tarnovius. Here he promiseth to perform to her, and to work in her, all those offices and requisites due from married couples in that estate the one to the other. God will both justify her by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness; and sanctify her by the Spirit of judgment, that is, of sanctification. {See John 16:10-11 Matthew 12:20} {See Trapp on "Matthew 12:20"} And because the best have their frailties, and although they be vessels of honour, yet are they but earthen vessels, and have their flaws, their cracks; therefore it is added, "I have betrothed thee unto me in lovingkindness and in mercies," q.d. My heart and ways towards you shall be full of gentleness and sweetness, without morosity or hardness. My lovingkindness shall be great, Nehemiah 9:17, marvellous great, Psalms 31:21, excellent, Psalms 36:7, everlasting, Isaiah 54:8, merciful, Psalms 117:2, multitudes of lovingkindnesses, Isaiah 63:7; as for my mercies, or bowels of compassion towards you, they are incomprehensible, as having all the dimensions, Ephesians 3:18. "Thy mercy, O God, reacheth unto the heavens," there is the height of it, Psalms 36:5. "Great is thy mercy towards me, and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowermost hell," there is the depth of his mercy, Psalms 86:13. "The earth is full of thy goodness," there is the breadth of it. "All the ends of the earth have seen thy salvation," there is the length of it. O pray to see that blessed sight, Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 3:18, that beholding, as in a glass, this glory of the Lord, shining bright in his attributes, you may be "transformed into the same image, from glory to glory," 2 Corinthians 3:18; and as in water face answereth face, as lead answereth the mould, as tallow answereth tallow, indenture, indenture, so may we resemble and express the Lord, our husband, in righteousness, holiness, lovingkindness, tender mercies, and faithfulness, that as the woman is the image and glory of the man, so may we be of Christ. For our encouragement it must be remembered that the covenant that Christ maketh with us is a double covenant, to perform his part as well as ours, to make us such as he requireth us to be in all holy conversation and godliness; for which end, also, we have a duplicate of his law written in our hearts, Jeremiah 31:33, a law in our mind, answerable to the law of his mouth, Romans 7:23. In a word, he graciously undertaketh for both parts; therefore is the covenant everlasting, and the fruits of it are sure mercies, compassions that fail not. In foedere nero nihil potest incidere quo minus sit aeternum, quum non sit ei adiecta conditio, saith Mercer upon this text; that is, in the new covenant there can nothing happen whereby it should not be everlasting, since there is no condition required on our part. That faith or faithfulness mentioned in the next verse God requireth not as a mutual restipulation of our part (as works were in the old covenant); but here it is rather a declaration of his pleasure what he would have us to do, and whereto he will enable us. It is not a condition, to endanger the covenant; but an assurance, that he will give us strength to keep it.


Verse 20

Hosea 2:20 I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.

Ver. 20. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness] Tremellius, Drusius, and Tarnovius render it in fide, in faith, and interpret it of de fide vera et salvifica, of that true justifying faith whereby we are united to Christ; and for this they urge the next words as an exposition of these. "And they shall know the Lord": alleging some other texts of Scripture wherein saving knowledge is put for justifying faith, as Isaiah 53:11, Jeremiah 31:33, John 17:3. The Septuagint also render it επιγνωση. Now επιγνωσις in the New Testament is often used for saving and growing faith, Titus 1:1, Colossians 2:1; Colossians 3:10, which indeed is the bond of the spiritual marriage, and is itself nothing else but a fiducial assent presupposing knowledge. For man is a rational creature, faith a prudent thing, comprehending in itself these three Acts 1:1-26. Knowledge in the understanding; 2. Assent, or rather consent, in the will; 3. Trust or confidence in the heart; certainty of adherence, if not of evidence. The Papists fasten faith in the will as in the adequate subject, that they may the meanwhile do what they will with the understanding and the heart. To which purpose they exclude all knowledge, aud detest trust in Christ’s promises, expunging the very name of it everywhere by their Indices Expurgatorii. A blind belief, as the Church believes, is as much as they require of their misled and muzzled proselytes. Bellarmine saith that faith may far better be defined by ignorance than by knowledge. But how shall men believe on him of whom they have not heard? Let us leave to the Papists their implicit faith and their blind obedience, and cry after Christ as that poor man did, "Lord, that mine eyes might be opened," and that I may "know the Lord"; yea, "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." "These things have I written unto you" (saith St John to those that were no babies or zanies in faith or knowledge) "that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may (yet more) believe in the Son of God," 1 John 5:13. David, though he had proceeded farther in the discovery of divine truths than those before him, Psalms 119:99, yet he was still to seek of that which might be known, Psalms 119:96. Even as those great discoverers of the newly found lands in America were wont to confess, at their return, that there was still a plus ultra, more yet, to be discovered.


Verse 21

Hosea 2:21 And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth;

Ver. 21. And it shall come to pass in that day] In that time of grace and reconciliation, fitly set forth by the name of a day in regard of, 1. Revelation 2:1-29. Adornation; 3. Consolation; 4. Distinction; 5. Speedy preterition.

I will hear, saith the Lord of hosts] That is, I that have the command of both the upper and nether springs and forces, sun, moon, stars, &c., Deuteronomy 4:9, those storehouses of God’s good treasure which he openeth to our profit, Deuteronomy 28:12, and therehence makes a scatter of riches upon the earth by their influence. I that stop and unstop those bottles of the sky, the clouds, which there hang and move, though weighty with their own burden; I that make the earth to bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and meat to the eater, Isaiah 55:10, &c.

I will hear the heavens] Heb. I will answer, that is, I will so hear as that I will answer; so will not great ones sometimes, or if they do, yet the poor man speaks supplications, but the rich answereth him roughly, Proverbs 18:23. Solyman II, the grand signor, when many thousands of his poor Christian subjects, to be eased of their heavy taxations, fell down before him and offered to turn Mahometans, rejected their conversion, and doubled their taxations. God hath here a great sort of suppliants (the poets feign that litae, or supplications, are always about Jupiter); the heaven, the earth, the grain, &c., and he heareth and speedeth them all. Never any humble petitioner went sad out of his presence. Never said he to the house of Israel, Seek ye me in vain. The heathen idols may do so, but he scorns it. "Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give flowers?" Jeremiah 14:22. Surely they cannot, till God have heard and answered them. The genealogy of rain, of grain, and wine is here resolved into Jehovah; and he promiseth to endow his beloved spouse with them as part (though the least part) of her jointure. "All are yours, for you are Christ’s," 1 Corinthians 3:23. In marrying with the heir you have right to all. Here is omnium rerum ubertas ob Dei semen Christum, saith Jerome, plenty of all things for Christ’s sake, who, wherever he comes, cometh with a cornucopia; a horn of salvation, besides a largess of outward comforts. This was a very necessary doctrine at all times to be taught in the Church, lest, pressed with miseries, men should faint in tbeir minds. Christ knows we have need of these things also, and therefore not only bids us pray, but promiseth to give us our daily bread by a concatenation of causes, by a ladder of providences, which the heathens call destiny, but the saints call it the harmony of the world; a gallant description whereof we have in Ezekiel 1:1-28, far different from the Stoics’ fate or the doctrine of Plato and Aristotle, and other of the world’s wizards, concerning the Divine providence, which they either denied or imbased.

And they shall hear the earth] Which, being chapped and scorched, seemeth to solicit showers and fattening influences by an elegant personification, as if these insensible creatures understood what they did. When men are once in covenant with God all the creatures will be serviceable to them, yea, greedy to do them good, they will even cry for it.


Verse 22

Hosea 2:22 And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel.

Ver. 22. And the earth shall hear] That is, shall bear great store of grain, wine, and oil ( vinum pendulum, i.e. uvas). New and fresh oil the word signifies, newly expressed, clear and shining, such as is called golden oil, Zechariah 4:12. God’s dear children shall have the best of the best, Isaiah 55:1-6. Even the kidneys of wheat, or whatsoever dainties the earth can afford them. They shall suck honey out of the rock; or, if it be but water, yet it shall be to them as sweet as honey, because therein they taste and see the Lord’s goodness, and they have meat to eat that the world knows not of.

And they shall hear Jezreel] That is, they shall answer the pains and prayers of God’s people, who are here called Jezreel still (though the Septuagint read it Israel), not to upbraid them with their former wickedness and calamities thereby procured (which yet was the first reason of that name given them, Hosea 1:4), but rather to set forth the riches of his grace imparted to such a graceless people. And in addition to show that nothing could hinder them from partaking of those covenant mercies and that happy communion with God whereto they were now restored. This very name of theirs, once their shame, should now turn to their glory. Of Jezreel, scattered by God (which is one signification of the name), they should become Jezreel, a seed of God (which is another), that they might comfort themselves with the hope of Christ, the promised seed, and know that their posterity should not so degenerate into gentility, but that many of them should embrace Christ and inherit the promises, as did Araunah the Jebusite, who became a famous proselyte, Zechariah 9:7, {See Trapp on "Zechariah 9:7"} and as Jether the Ishmeelite, 1 Chronicles 2:17, was for his faith and religion called an Israelite, 2 Samuel 17:25, and as Christ calleth himself Jesus of Nazareth, as a title of honour, which was once cast upon him as a reproach.


Verse 23

Hosea 2:23 And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to [them which were] not my people, Thou [art] my people; and they shall say, [Thou art] my God.

Ver. 23. And I will sow her unto me in the earth] Not in the air, as once, when they were scattered into the four winds of heaven; but in the earth which the heavens should hear, Hosea 2:21, the inhabitants whereof should be multiplied, and become as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered, Hosea 1:10, {See Trapp on "Hosea 1:10"} and Jeremiah 31:27, Ezekiel 36:37. The preaching of the gospel is a kind of sowing of seed, 1 Peter 1:23, and this seeding is in the earth, that they may be gathered into heaven, where the mower shall fill his hand, and he that bindeth sheaves his bosom, Psalms 129:7. And although God’s elect lie here for a time under the clods, yet at length they shall fructify, and many spring from them by whom the name of Christ shall be so propagated. "He shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand," Isaiah 53:10.

And I will have mercy upon her] Her unhappy name, Lorubamah, shall be done away, and the contrary come in place. Lo! this is as it were the epilogue of the sermon, and it is very comfortable. The Sun of righteousness loves not to set in a cloud. "Gracious is the Lord, and righteous, yea, our God is merciful." Be it that he is once righteous, yet he is both gracious and merciful for it, Psalms 116:5. The Jews, for their seventy years’ captivity in Babylon, had seven seventies of years (set forth by Daniel’s weeks) granted for the enjoying of their own country. God’s mercies bear the same proportion to his punishments (when he hath to deal with his elect people) which seven, a complete number, hath to a unity. This promise here made the apostle testifieth, Romans 9:25, to be begun to be fulfilled in his time by the conversion of some Jews, and calling of some Gentiles. The full accomplishment thereof we daily expect and pray for.

And I will say to them] That is, I will make them so, as when he said to Lazarus, Come forth of the grave, he brought him forth; together with his word there went forth a power.

And they shall say] Dicere nostra est fides et obedientia nostra, saith Pareus here; we say thus when we believe and obey. There shall be, restored, therefore, between God and his people a most sweet harmony, and an intimate conjunction, such as he had before described to be between himself and all the second causes, for his Church’s sake; and truly it is never well with us, indeed, till the heavens answer the earth till Christ, the Sun of righteousness, so shine into our hearts, that we melt and comply as here, and as Zechariah 13:9. {See Trapp on "Zechariah 13:9"}

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Hosea 2:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/hosea-2.html. 1865-1868.

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Sunday, December 15th, 2019
the Third Week of Advent
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