(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. Prayer 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. (Mic.1:9) 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. Prayer 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. Prayer 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. Prayer 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. Prayer 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. Prayer 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. (Mic.7:14) 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. Prayer 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. Prayer 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 Lord. Prayer 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 .