(calvin, minor prophets. part 4)

           between their right hand and their left hand; and also much
           cattle? (Jon.4:10,11)

GOD shows here how like a father he provides for mankind. Each one of
us is cherished by him with singular care; but yet he represents here
a large number, that it might be more manifest that he has so great a
concern for mankind that he will not inconsiderately fulminate against
any one nation. God shows here to Jonah that he has been carried away
by his own merciless zeal. Though his zeal arose from a good
principle, yet Jonah was influenced by a feeling far too vehement.
This God proved by sparing so many infants hitherto innocent. And to
infants he adds the brute animals. Oxen were certainly superior to
shrubs. If Jonah justly grieved for one withered shrub it was far more
deplorable and cruel for so many innocent animals to perish. We hence
see how apposite are all the parts of this similitude, to make Jonah
loathe his folly, and to be ashamed of it; for he had attempted to
frustrate the secret purpose of God, and in a manner to overrule it by
his own will, so that the Ninevites might not be spared, although they
laboured by true repentance to anticipate the divine judgment.


GRANT Almighty God, that as thou hast, in various ways, testified and
daily also dost prove how dear and precious to thee are mankind, as we
enjoy daily so many and so remarkable proofs of thy goodness and
favour, - O grant that we may learn to rely wholly on thy goodness, so
many examples of which thou settest before us, and which thou wouldst
have us continually to experience, that we may not only pass through
our earthly course, but also confidently aspire to the hope of that
blessed and celestial life which is laid up for us in heaven, through
Christ alone our Lord. Amen.

     A Prophet's Lamentation

           For her wound is incurable; for it is come unto Judah; he
           is come unto the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem.

THE prophet here assumed the character of a mourner that he might more
deeply impress the Israelites; for they were almost insensible in
their torpidity. It was therefore necessary that they should be
brought to view the scene itself, that, seeing their destruction
before their eyes, they might be touched both with grief and fear.
Though the prophet here addresses the Israelites, we ought yet to
apply this to ourselves; for we are not much unlike the ancient
people: for however God may terrify us with dreadful threatening, we
still remain quiet. It is therefore needful that we should be severely
treated, for we are almost void of feeling. The prophet does here
these two things, - he shows the fraternal love which he entertained
for the children of Israel, as they were his kindred and a part of the
chosen people, - and he also discharges his own duty; for this
lamentation was, as it were, the mirror in which he sets before them
the vengeance of God towards men so extremely torpid. He therefore
exhibits to them this representation, that they might perceive that
God was by no means trifling with men, when he thus denounced
punishment on the wicked and such as were apostates.


GRANT, Almighty God, that being warned by so many examples, the record
of which thou hast designed to continue to the end of the world, that
we may learn how dreadful a judge thou art, to the perverse, - O
grant, that we may not at this day, be hardened against thy teaching
which is conveyed to us by the mouth of thy prophet, but that we may
strive to be so reconciled to thee, that, passing by all men, we may
present ourselves unreservedly to thee, so that, relying on thy mercy
alone, which thou hast promised to us in Christ, we may not doubt that
thou wilt be propitious to us, and be so touched with the spirit of
true penitence, that if we have been to others a bad example, and
offense, we may lead others to the right way of salvation, and each of
us may so endeavour to assist our neighbours in a holy life, that we
may together attain that blessed and celestial life which thine
only-begotten Son has procured for us by his own blood. Amen.

     Strengthened by the Spirit

           But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and
           of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his
           transgression, and to Israel his sin. (Mic.3:8)

HERE Micah, in a courageous spirit, stands up alone against all the
false teachers, even when he saw that they were a large number, and
that they appealed to their number, according to their usual practice,
as their shield. This confidence is what all God's servants should
possess, that they may not succumb to the empty and vain boastings of
those who subvert the whole order of the Church. Whenever, then, God
permits his pure truth to be corrupted by false teachers and allows
them to be popular among those high in honour, as well as with the
multitude, let this striking example be remembered by us lest we be
discouraged, lest the firmness and invincible power of the Holy Spirit
be weakened in our hearts; but let us proceed in the course of our
calling and learn to oppose the name of God to all the deceptions of
men, if indeed we are convinced that our service is approved by him as
being faithful. Micah no doubt shows here, on account of the necessity
of the occasion, that he was not supplied with ordinary or usual
power; for, according as God employs the labours of his servants, so
is he present with them, and furnishes them with suitable protection.


GRANT, Almighty God, that as thou wouldst have us to be ruled by the
preaching of thy word, - O grant that those who have to discharge this
office may be really endued with thy celestial power that they may not
attempt anything of themselves, but with all devotedness spend all
their labours for thee and for our benefit, that through them we may
be thus edified so that thou mayest ever dwell among us, and that we
through our whole life may become the habitation of thy majesty, and
that finally we may come to thy heavenly sanctuary, where thou daily
invites us, as an entrance there has been once for all opened to us by
the blood of thine only-begotten Son. Amen.

     A Fellowship of Nations

           And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go
           up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God
           of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will
           walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and
           the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Mic.4:2)

THE prophet shows in these words, that not only each one would be
obedient to God, when called, but that they would also encourage one
another; and this ardour is what is justly required in the faithful;
they ought to animate and urge on one another; for it is not enough
for each of us himself to obey God, but this zeal ought to be added,
by which we may strive to produce a mutual benefit. The manner of the
exhortation deserves to be noticed; for each one offers himself as a
companion in the journey. We see indeed that many are prompt enough
when others are to be stimulated in their duty; but they at the same
time lie still; their whole fervour is consumed in sending others, and
they themselves move not, no, not a finger; so far are they from
running with alacrity in company with others. The prophet shows here
that the faithful will be so solicitous about the salvation of their
brethren that they themselves also will strenuously run, and that they
will prescribe nothing to others but what they themselves perform.


GRANT, Almighty God, that since, at the coming of Christ thy Son thou
didst really perform what thy servants the prophets had foretold so
long before, and since thou daily invites us until now to the unity of
faith, that with united efforts we may truly serve thee, - O grant,
that we may not continue torn asunder, every one pursuing his own
perverse inclinations, at a time when Christ is thus gathering us unto
thee; nor let us only profess with the mouth and in words that we are
under thy government, but prove that we feel this very thing in real
sincerity; and may we then add to the true and lawful worship of thy
name brotherly love toward one another, that with united efforts we
may promote each other's good, and that our adoption may thus be
proved and be more and more confirmed that we may ever be able with
full confidence to call on thee as our Father, through Christ our
Lord. Amen.

     The Constancy of Faith

           For all people will walk every one in the name of his god,
           and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever
           and ever. (Mic.4:5)

MICAH, after having spoken of the restoration of the Church, now
confirms the same truth, and shows that the faithful would have reason
enough to cleave constantly to their God, and to despise all the
superstitions of the world, and that though they may be tossed here
and there by contrary opinions, they will yet continue in true piety.
This verse, then, is connected with the kingdom of Christ, for until
we are gathered, and Christ shines among us and rules us by his word,
there can be in us no constancy, no firmness. But when, under the
auspices of Christ, we join together in one body, the Church, such
then becomes the constancy of our faith that nothing can turn us aside
from the right course, though new storms were at any time to arise, by
which the whole world might be shaken, and though it were to happen
that the universe should pass away.
     This passage shows that faith depends not on the suffrages of
men, and that we ought not to regard what any one may think, or what
may be the consent of all, for the truth of God alone ought to be
deemed sufficient by us. How much soever, then, the whole world may
oppose God, our faith ought not to be changeable, but remain firm on
this foundation - that God, who cannot deceive, has spoken.


GRANT, Almighty God, that since under the guidance of thy Son we have
been united together in the body of thy Church, which has been so
often scattered and torn asunder, - grant that we may continue in the
unity of faith, and perseveringly fight against all the temptations of
this world, and never deviate from the right course, whatever new
troubles may daily arise; and though we are exposed to many deaths,
let us not be seized with fear, such as may extinguish in our hearts
every hope; but may we, on the contrary, learn to raise up our eyes
and minds and all our thoughts to thy great power, by which thou
quickenest the dead, and raises from nothing things which are not, so
that, though we be daily exposed to ruin, our souls may ever aspire to
eternal salvation, until thou at length really showest thyself to be
the fountain of life, when we shall enjoy that endless felicity which
has been obtained for us by the blood of thine only-begotten Son our
Lord. Amen.

     God's Requirements

"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD
require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk
humbly with thy God?" (Mic.6:8)

IT is evident that, in the first two particulars, he refers to the
second table of the law; that is, to do justice and to love mercy. Nor
is it a matter of wonder that the prophet begins with the duties of
love; for though in rank the worship of God precedes these duties and
ought rightly to be so regarded, yet justice, which is to be exercised
toward men, is the real evidence of religion. The prophet, therefore,
mentions justice and mercy, not that God casts aside what is first in
importance, - the worship of his name; but he shows by evidences or
effects, what true religion is. He afterwards adds what in order is
first, and that is, literally, "to be humble in walking with thy God."
No doubt as the name of God is more excellent than anything else in
the whole world, so the worship of him ought to be regarded as of more
importance than all those duties by which we prove our love towards
men. But the prophet, as I have already said, was not so particular in
observing order. His main object was to show how men were to prove
that they seriously feared God and kept his law; he afterwards speaks
of God's worship. But his manner of speaking, when he says, that men
ought to be humble, that they may walk with their God, is worthy of
special notice.


GRANT Almighty God, that as thou hast made known to us thy law, and
hast also added thy gospel, in which thou callest us to thy service,
and also invites us with all kindness to partake of thy grace, - O
grant, that we may not be deaf, either to thy command or to the
promises of thy mercy, but render ourselves submissive to thee
everywhere, and so learn to devote all our faculties to thee, that we
may in truth avow that the rule of a holy and religious life, has been
delivered to us in thy law, and that we may firmly adhere to thy
promises, lest through any of the allurements of the world, or through
the flatteries and delusions of Satan, thou shouldst suffer our minds
to be drawn away from that love which thou hast once for all
manifested to us in thine only-begotten Son, and in which thou daily
confirmest us by the teaching of the gospel, until we at length shall
come to the full enjoyment of this love in that celestial inheritance,
which has been purchased for us by the blood of thine only Son. Amen.

     A Prayer for God's Heritage

           Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage,
           which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel:
           let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old.

THE prophet here turns to supplications and prayers, by which he
manifests more vehemence than if he had affirmed what he had
previously said of the restoration of the Church; for he shows how
dreadful that judgment would be when God would reduce the land into a
solitude. This prayer no doubt contains what was at the same time
prophetic. He compares God to a shepherd, and this metaphor often
occurs. By calling them the flock of his heritage, he does not
consider what the people deserved, but fixes his eyes on their
gratuitous adoption. Since, then, it had pleased God to choose that
people, the prophet on this account dares to go forth to God's
presence and to plead their gratuitous election, - "O Lord, I will not
bring before thee the nobility of our race, or any sort of dignity, or
our piety, or any merits." What then? "We are thy people, for thou
hast declared that we are a royal priesthood. We are accordingly thy
heritage." How so? "Because it has been thy pleasure to have one
peculiar people sacred to thee." We now more clearly see that the
prophet relied on God's favour alone, and opposed the recollection of
the covenant to the trials which might have otherwise made every hope
to fail.


GRANT, Almighty God, that since we have so provoked thy displeasure by
our sins, that a dreadful waste and solitude appear everywhere, - O
grant that a proof of that favour which thou hast so remarkably
exhibited toward thine ancient people may shine upon us, so that thy
Church may be raised up in which true religion may flourish, and thy
name be glorified; and may we daily solicit thee in our prayers, and
never doubt that under the government of thy Christ thou can't again
gather together the whole world, though it be miserably dispersed, so
that we may persevere in this warfare to the end, until we shall at
length know that we have not in vain hoped in thee, and that our
prayers have not been in vain, when Christ evidently shall exercise
the power given to him for our salvation and for that of the whole
world. Amen.

     Nineveh's Fall

           But Nineveh is of old like a pool of water: yet they shall
           flee away. Stand, stand, shall they cry; but none shall
           look back. (Nah.2:8)

THE prophet here anticipates a doubt which might have weakened
confidence in his words, for Nineveh not only flourished in power, but
it had also confirmed its strength during a long course of time; and
antiquity not only adds to the strength of kingdoms, but secures
authority to them. Accordingly, as the imperial city of Nineveh was
ancient, it might even seem to have been perpetual. "Why! Nineveh has
ever ruled and possessed the sovereign power in all the East. Can it
be now shaken, or can its strength be now suddenly subverted? For
where there is no beginning we cannot believe that there will be any
end." The Ninevites, no doubt, boasted that they had been eternal, and
as they were fixed in this conceit concerning their antiquity, no one
thought they could ever fail. This circumstance shall not, however,
prevent God from now overturning its dominion. How much soever, then,
Nineveh took pride in the notion of its ancientness, it was yet God's
purpose to destroy it. From this passage we ought to learn that no
trust is to be put in the number of men, nor in the defenses and
strongholds of cities, nor in ancientness; for when men excel in power
God will hence take occasion to destroy them, inasmuch as pride is
almost always connected with strength.


GRANT, Almighty God, that as thou constantly remindest us in thy word,
and hast taught us by so many examples, that there is nothing
permanent in this world, but that the things which seem the firmest
tend to ruin, and instantly fall and of themselves vanish away, when
by thy breath thou shakest that strength in which men trust, - O grant
that we, being really subdued and humbled, may not rely on earthly
things, but raise up our hearts and our thoughts to heaven, and there
fix the anchor of our hope; and may all our thoughts abide there until
at length, when thou hast led us through our course on earth, we shall
be gathered into that celestial kingdom which has been obtained for us
by the blood of thine only-begotten Son. Amen.

     The Watch Tower

           I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and
           will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I
           shall answer when I am reproved. (Hab.2:1)

THE prophet finding himself sinking, and as it were overwhelmed in the
deepest abyss, raises himself up above the judgment and reason of men,
and comes nearer to God, that he might see from on high the things
which take place on earth, and not judge according to the
understanding of his own flesh but by the light of the Holy Spirit.
For the tower of which he speaks is patience arising from hope. If we
contend with Satan according to our own view of things, he will a
hundred times overwhelm us, and we can never be able to resist him.
Let us therefore know, that here is shown to us the right way of
fighting with him. When our minds are agitated with unbelief, when
things are so confused in this world as to involve us in darkness, so
that no light appears: we must bid adieu to our own reason; for all
our thoughts are worth nothing, when we seek, according to our own
reason, to form a judgment. Consequently until the faithful ascend to
their tower and stand in their citadel, of which the prophet here
speaks, their temptations will drive them here and there, and sink
them as it were in a bottomless gulf. The tower is the recess of the
mind; but how can we ascend to it? Even by following the word of the


GRANT, Almighty God, that as thou sees us labouring under so much
weakness, yea, with our minds so blinded that our faith falters at the
smallest perplexities, and almost fails altogether, - O grant, that by
the power of thy Spirit we may be raised up above this world, and
learn more and more to renounce our own counsels, and so to come to
thee, that we may stand fixed in our watch tower, ever hoping through
thy power, for whatever thou hast promised us, though thou shouldst
not immediately make it manifest to us, that thou hast faithfully
spoken; and may we thus give full proof of our faith and patience, and
proceed in the course of our warfare, until at length we ascend above
all watch towers into that blessed rest where we shall no more watch
with an attentive mind, but, see face to face, in thine image,
whatever can be wished, and whatever is needful for our perfect
happiness through Christ our Lord. Amen.

     Punishment for Avarice

           Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a
           taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that
           increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that
           ladeth himself with thick clay! (Hab.2:6)

ALL the people who had been collected, as it were, into a heap, would
take up a parable or taunt in order to scoff at the king of Babylon.

(continued in part 5...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-01: calmp-04.txt