(calvin, minor prophets. part 3) An admonition And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. (Joel 2:30,31) THE prophet had hitherto promised that God would deal kindly and bountifully with his people; and everything he has said tended to elevate the spirits of the people and fill them with joy. But now he seems again to threaten them with God's wrath and to strike miserable men with fear, who had not as yet recovered breath; for at the time the prophet spoke the Jews, we know, were in the greatest sorrow. But it is rather an admonition than a threatening. The prophet warns them of what would be lest the faithful should promise themselves an exemption from all cares and troubles: for we know how prone men are to self-indulgence. Hence the prophet reminds us that though God would bountifully feed his Church, and testify by external tokens his paternal love, and though he would pour out his Spirit (a token far more remarkable), yet the faithful would continue to be distressed with many troubles. For God designs not to deal too delicately with his Church on earth; but when he gives tokens of his kindness, he at the same time mingles some exercises for patience, lest the faithful should become self-indulgent or sleep on earthly blessings, but that they may ever seek higher things. Prayer GRANT, Almighty God, that as we are now surrounded on every side by so many miseries, and as our condition is such that amidst groans and continual sorrows our life could be hardly sustained unless thou dost support us by spiritual grace, - O grant, that we may learn to look upon the face of thine Anointed and seek comfort from him in our misfortunes, and such a comfort as may not engross our minds, or at least retain us in the world, but raise our thoughts to heaven and daily seal to our hearts the testimony of our adoption, and that though many evils must be borne by us in this world we may yet continue to pursue our course and to fight and strive with invincible perseverance, until having at length finished all our struggles, we reach that blessed rest which has been obtained for us by the blood of thine only begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Calling on the Lord And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call. (Joel 2:32) GOD declares that the invocation of his name in a despairing condition is a sure port of safety. What the prophet had said was certainly dreadful, - that the whole order of nature would be so changed that no spark of life would appear, and that all places would be filled with darkness. What, therefore, he says now is the same as though he declared that if men called on the name of God life would be found in the grave. Since then God invites here the lost and the dead, there is no reason why even the heaviest distresses should preclude an access for us or for our prayers. If there is promised salvation and deliverance to all who shall call on the name of the Lord, it follows, as Paul reasons, that the doctrine of the gospel belongs to the gentiles also. It would have been a great presumption in us to present ourselves before God, except he had given us confidence and promised to hear us. We learn from this place that however much God may afflict his Church, it will yet be perpetuated in the world; for it can no more be destroyed than the very truth of God, which is eternal and immutable. Prayer GRANT Almighty God, that as thou not only invitest us continually by the voice of thy gospel to seek thee, but also offerest to us thy Son as our Mediator, through whom an access to thee is open, that we may find thee a propitious Father, - O grant, that relying on thy kind invitation, we may through life exercise ourselves in prayer, and as so many evils disturb us on all sides and so many wants distress and oppress us, may we be led more earnestly to call on thee, and in the meanwhile be never wearied in this exercise of prayer; until having been heard by thee throughout life, we may at length be gathered to thine eternal kingdom where we shall enjoy that salvation which thou hast promised to us, and of which also thou daily testifies to us by thy gospel, and be forever united to thine only-begotten Son of whom we are now members; that we may be partakers of a11 the blessings which he has obtained for us by his death. Amen. A Blessed Experience So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more. (Joel 3:17) THE prophet intimates that the favour of God had been so hidden during the afflictions of the people that they could but think that they were forsaken by God. His word ought indeed to be sufficient for us in the greatest evils; for though God may cast us into the deepest gulfs, yet when he shines upon us by his word it ought to be a consolation abundantly availing to sustain our souls. There is a twofold knowledge, the knowledge of faith, received from his word, and the knowledge of experience as we say, derived from actual enjoyment. The faithful ever acknowledge that salvation is laid up for them in God; but sometimes they do not by actual enjoyment know God to be their Father. The prophet therefore now treats of real knowledge when he says that they shall know that they have a God. How are they to know this? By experience. This passage teaches us that though God should not put forth his hand manifestly to help us, we ought yet to entertain good hope of his favour; for the prophet spoke for this end, that the godly might, before the event or the accomplishment of the prophecy should come, look to God and cast all their cares on him. Prayer GRANT Almighty God, that as we have, in this world, to fight continually, not only with one kind of enemies, but with innumerable ones, and not only with flesh and blood, but also with the devil, the prince of darkness, - O grant that being armed with thy power we may steadily persevere in this contest; and when thou afflictest us for our sins, may we learn to humble ourselves and so submit to thy authority that we may hope for the redemption promised to us; and though tokens of thy displeasure may often appear to us, may we yet ever raise up our minds by hope to heaven and from thence look for thine only-begotten Son, until, coming as Judge of the world, he assembles us for the enjoyment of that blessed and eternal life which he has obtained for us by his own blood. Amen. The Law of Worship And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD. (Amos 4:5) BY saying that the Israelites loved to do these things, he upbraids their presumption in devising at their own will new modes of worship, as though he said, "I require no sacrifices from you except those offered at Jerusalem, but ye offer them to me in a profane place. Therefore regard your sacrifices as offered to yourselves, and not to me." We, indeed, know how hypocrites ever make God a debtor to themselves; when they undertake any labour in their frivolous ceremonies, they think that God is bound to them. "Ye ought to have consulted me and simply to have obeyed my word, to have regarded what pleased me, what I have commanded; but ye have despised my word, neglected my law, and followed what pleased yourselves and proceeded from your own fancies. Since, then, your own will is your law, seek a recompense from yourselves, for I allow none of these things. What I require is implicit submission, I look for nothing else but obedience to my law; as ye render not this but according to your own will, it is no worship of my name." Prayer GRANT, Almighty God, that as thou wouldst have our life to be formed by the rule of thy law, and hast there revealed to us what pleaseth thee, that we may not wander in uncertainty, but render thee obedience, O grant that we may wholly submit ourselves to thee, and not only devote our whole life and all our labours to thee, but also offer to thee as a sacrifice our understanding and whatever prudence and reason we possess, so that by spiritually serving thee we may really glorify thy name, through Christ our Lord. Amen. A Solemn Exhortation Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel. (Amos 4:12) THIS passage may be explained in two ways; either as an ironical sentence, or as a simple and serious exhortation to repentance. If we take it ironically the sense will be, "Come now, meet me with all your obstinacy, and with whatever may serve you; will you be able to escape my vengeance by setting up yourselves against me, as you have hitherto done?" And certainly the prophet, in denouncing final ruin on the people, seems here as though he wished designedly to touch them to the quick, when he says, "Meet now thy God and prepare thyself;" that is, "Gather all thy strength and thy forces and thine auxiliaries; try what all this will avail thee." But as in the next chapter the prophet exhorts again the Israelites to repentance, and sets before them the hope of favour, this place may be taken in another sense, as though he said, "Since thou sees thyself guilty, and also as thou sees that thou art seeking subterfuges in vain, being not able by any means to elude the hand of thy judge, then see at last that thou meet thy God, that thou mayest anticipate the final ruin which is impending." The prophets, after having threatened destruction to the chosen people, ever moderate the asperity of their doctrine, as there were at all times some remnant seed, though hidden. Prayer GRANT Almighty God, that since by thy word thou kindly invites us to thyself, we may not turn deaf ears to thee, but anticipate thy rod and scourges; and that when, for the stupidity and thoughtlessness by which we have become inebriated, thou attest those punishments by which thou sharply urgent us to repent, - O grant, that we may not continue wholly intractable, but at length turn our hearts to thy service and submit ourselves to the yoke of thy word, and that we may be so instructed by the punishments which thou hast inflicted on us and still inflictest, that we may truly and from the heart turn to thee, and offer ourselves to thee as a sacrifice, that thou mayest govern us according to thy will, and so rule all our affections by thy Spirit, that we may through the whole of our life strive to glorify thy name, in Christ Jesus, thy Son our Lord. Amen. Headman and Prophet Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: (Amos 7:14) HAD Amos simply denied that he was a prophet, he might on this account have been thrust away from his office of teaching, for he lacked a call. But he means that he was not a prophet who had been from his childhood instructed in God's law to be an interpreter of Scripture: and for the same reason he says that he was not the son of a prophet; for there were then, we know, colleges for prophets, instituted for this end, that there might be always some nursery for the Church of God, so that it might not be destitute of good and faithful teachers. Amos says that he was not of that class. He therefore honestly confesses that he was an illiterate man: but by this he gained to himself more authority, inasmuch as the Lord had seized on him as it were by force, and set him over the people to teach them. It was a greater miracle that Christ chose rude and ignorant men as his apostles, than if he had at first chosen Paul or men like him, who were skilled in the law. If Christ had at the beginning selected such disciples their authority would have appeared less; but as he had prepared by his Spirit those who were before unlearned, it appeared more evident that they were sent from above. Prayer GRANT, Almighty God, that inasmuch as thou dost give such loose reins to Satan, that he attempts in all manner of ways to subvert thy servants, - O grant, that they who have been sent and moved by thee and at the same time furnished with the invincible strength of thy Spirit may go on perseveringly to the last in the discharge of their office; and whether their adversaries assail them by plots or oppose them by open violence, may they not desist from their course but devote themselves wholly to thee with prudence as well as with courage that they may thus persevere in continual obedience: and do thou also dissipate all the mists and all the wiles which Satan spreads to deceive the inexperienced, until the truth emerge, which is the conqueror of the devil and of the whole world, and until thy Son, the Sun of Righteousness, appear, that he may gather the whole world that in his peaceful kingdom we may enjoy the victory, which is daily to be obtained by us in our constant struggles with the enemies of thine only Son. Amen. The Power of God It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name. (Amos 9:6) THE prophet in general terms describes the power of God, that he might the more impress his hearers, and that they might not heedlessly reject what he had previously threatened respecting their approaching ruin; for he had said, "Lo, God will smite the land and it shall tremble." This was special. Now as men received with deaf ears those threatening, the prophet added, by way of confirmation, a striking description of the power of God; as though he said, "Ye do hear what God denounces; now, as he has clothed me with his own authority, and commanded me to terrify you by setting before you your punishment, know ye that ye have to do with God himself, whose majesty ought to make you all and all that you are to tremble. Ye exist only through his power, and whenever he pleases he can withdraw his Spirit and then this whole world must vanish, of which ye are but the smallest particles. Since, then, he alone is God, and there is in you but a momentary strength, and since this great power of God, the evidences of which he affords you through the whole order of nature, is so conspicuous to you, how is it that ye are so heedless?" Prayer GRANT, Almighty God, that as thou hast showed to us by evidence so remarkable that all things are under thy command, and that we who live in this world through thy favour are as nothing, for thou couldst reduce us to nothing in a moment, - O grant that being conscious of thy power we may reverently fear thy hand, and be wholly devoted to thy glory; and as thou kindly offerest thyself to us as a Father, may we be drawn by this kindness and surrender ourselves wholly to thee by a willing obedience, and never labour for anything throughout life but to glorify thy name as thou hast redeemed us through thine only-begotten Son, that so we may also enjoy through him that eternal inheritance which is laid up for us in heaven. Amen. Wisdom Destroyed Shall I not in that day, saith the LORD, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau? (Obad.:8) THOUGH men be in many respects blind, whom God guides not by his Spirit, and on whom he shines not with his word, yet the worst blindness is when men become inebriated with the false conceit of wisdom. God indeed permits the ungodly for a long time to felicitate themselves on account of their own acumen and counsels, as he suffered the Idumeans to go on prosperously. But we are warned by these words that if we excel in understanding, we are not to abuse this singular gift of God, as we see the case to be with the ungodly, who turn to cunning whatever wisdom the Lord has bestowed on them. There is hardly one in a hundred to be found who does not seek to be crafty and deceitful if he excels in understanding. We see that the world perverts this excellent gift of God; the more reason there is for us to labour, that our wisdom should be founded in true simplicity. This is one thing. Then we must also beware lest we trust in our own understanding and despise our enemies, and lest we think that we can ward off any evil that may impend over us; but let us ever seek from the Lord that he may vouchsafe to us at all times the Spirit of wisdom, that he may guide us even to the end of life. Prayer GRANT, Almighty God, that as thou hast once for all received us under thy protection, and hast promised that our salvation would be so much under thy care, that whatever Satan and the whole world may contrive thou wilt yet keep us safe and secure, - O grant that being endued with perseverance, we may remain within our borders, and not be carried away here and there either by craft or by wicked counsels; but be thou pleased to keep us in genuine integrity; that, being protected by thy help, we may, by experience, find that true which thou declares in thy word - that they who call on thee in truth shall ever know thee to be propitious to them; and since thou hast already made open to us an access to thee in the person of thine only-begotten Son, O grant that we, the sheep, may rely on him as our Shepherd, and resignedly abide under his protection until at length we be removed from all dangers into that eternal rest which has been obtained for us by the blood of Christ thine only Son. Amen. A Fearless Preacher And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. (Jon.3:4) JONAH here relates that he went to Nineveh according to the command of God. He shows then how faithfully he executed the duty enjoined on him, and thus obeyed the word of God. Hence Jonah came and began to enter into the city, and to preach on the first day. This promptness proves clearly how tractable Jonah had become, and how much he endeavoured to obey God in discharging his office. For had there been still a timidity in his heart, he would have inspected the city as careful and timid men are wont to do who inquire what is the condition of the place, what are the dispositions of the people, and which is the easiest access to them, and what is the best way and where is the least danger. We now see how prompt he was in his obedience who had before attempted to pass over the sea; he now takes hardly a moment to breathe, but he begins at the very entrance to testify that he had come in obedience to God. He says that he cried; this freedom shows that Jonah was divested of all fear, and endued with such boldness of spirit that he raised himself up above all the hindrances of the world. No fear was able to prevent him from doing his duty as a faithful servant, for he had evidently been strengthened by the Lord. Prayer GRANT Almighty Gods that as there is so much timidity in us that none of us is prepared to follow where thou mayest call us, we may be so instructed by the example of thy servant, Jonah, as to prepare ourselves for thorough obedience, and that though Satan and the world may oppose us with all their terrors, we may yet be strengthened by a reliance on thy power and protection, which thou hast promised to us, and may go on in the course of our vocation, and never turn aside, but thus contend with all the hindrances of this world, until we reach that celestial kingdom, where we shall enjoy thee, and Christ, thy only-begotten Son, who is our strength and our salvation; and may thy Spirit quicken us and strengthen all our faculties, that we may obey thee, and that at length thy name may be glorified in us, and that we may finally become partakers of that glory to which thou invites us through Christ our only Lord. Amen. The Mercy of God Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night. And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern (continued in part 4...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-01: calmp-03.txt .