(Calvin, Commentary on Amos, part 16)

Lecture Sixty-fourth.

Amos 7
10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of
Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the
house of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words.
11 For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel
shall surely be led away captive out of their own land.
12 Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into
the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there:
13 But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it [is] the king's
chapel, and it [is] the king's court.
    The Prophet here relates the device by which Satan attempted to
depress his mind, that he might not go on in the discharge of his
prophetic office. He says, that Amaziah had sent to the king to
induce him to adopt some severe measure; for he pretended that as
Amos scattered words full of sedition, and made turbulent speeches,
the affairs of the king could not be carried on, except the king in
due time prevented him: and besides, the same Amaziah said, that
nothing could be better for the Prophet than to flee into the land
of Judah, as he might live in safety there; for he had incurred
great danger in having dared to prophesy against the king. It hence
appears that Amaziah was a perfidious and cunning man, but not so
bloody as to attempt openly anything serious against the Prophet's
life; unless perhaps he thought that this could not be done, and
gave this advice, not so much through his kindness, as that the
thing was impracticable: and this second supposition is probable
from the words of the passage.
    For, in the first place the Prophet saye, that Amaziah had sent
to the king. He then tried whether he could excite the king's mind
to persecute Amos. It may be that his design did succeed: hence he
undertook what in the second place is related, that is, he called
the Prophet to himself, and tried to frighten him, and drive him by
fear from the land of Israel, that he might no longer be troublesome
to them. But we must, in the first place, notice the motive by which
this Amaziah was influenced, when he endeavored so much, by any
means possible, to banish the Prophet from the kingdom of Israel. It
is certainly not credible that he was influenced by what he
pretended to the king, that there was a danger of sedition; but it
was a pretence cunningly made. Amaziah then had a care for his own
advantage, as we see to be the case in our day with cardinals and
milted bishops who frequent the courts of princes, and do not
honestly profess what their designs are; for they see that their
tyranny cannot stand unless the gospel be abolished; they see that
our doctrine threatens to become a cold and even an ice to their
kitchens; and then they see that they can be of no account in the
world, except they crush us. And what do they at the same time
pretend? that our doctrine cannot be received without producing a
change in the whole world, without ruin to the whole civil order,
without depriving kings of their power and dignity. It is then by
these malicious artifices that they gain favor to themselves. Such
was the device of Amaziah, and such was his manoeuvre in opposing
the Prophet Amos.
    "Behold", he sags to the king, "he has conspired against thee".
"Kashar" is to bind, but, by a metaphor, it signifies to conspire:
Conspired then has Amos against thee. But who speaks? Amaziah; and
the Prophet omits not the title of Amaziah; for he says that he was
the priest of Bethel. He might have only said, "Amaziah sent to king
Jeroboam", but by mentioning that he was a priest, the Prophet shows
that Amaziah did not strive for the peace of the public, as he
pretended; and that this was therefore a fallacious pretence, for he
fought for his own Helen, that is, he fought for his own kitchen, in
short, for his living: for he would have been deprived, with
disgrace, of his priesthood, and then reduced to penury and want,
except he had driven away the Prophet Amos. Since then he saw that
such and so great an evil was nigh him except Amos was banished, he
had this object in view, and pretended another thing, and sent to
the king and said ,Amos alas conspired; and he enhances the crime,
"In the midst of the house of Israel". "This is not done," he says
"in a corners or in some obscure place; but his doctrine is heard on
all the public roads, whole cities are filled with it; in short, it
burns like fire in the very bosom, in the very midst of the kingdom;
and thou wilt soon find thy own house to be all in a flame, unless
thou applies a remedy, yea, except thou extinguishest it." We hence
see how Amaziah acted, and the reason why he so earnestly persuaded
the king to give liberty no longer to the Prophet Amos.
    With regard to what follows, - "that the land could no longer
bear his words", the sentence admits of two probable meanings. The
first is, that he said, that the people, being offended with his
turbulent doctrine, did now of themselves hate and detest the
Prophet Amos, as a seditious man. Kings are in our day stirred on in
like manner, - "Why do you delay? Your subjects desire nothing so
much as to extinguish this evil, and all of them will eagerly assist
you: ye are in the meantime idle, and your people complain of your
tardiness. They think the princes in power are unworthy of their
station, since they thus suffer the ancient rites and ordinances of
holy Mother Church to fall into decay." So they speak: and we may
imagine the words of Amaziah to have been in the same strain, - that
he stimulated the king by this artifice - that the people were
prepared to do their part. The other meaning is this, The land
cannot bear his words; that is, "If he goes on here with full
liberty to raise tumults, as he has begun, the whole kingdom will be
on the verge of ruin, for many will follow him; and when an open
sedition will arise, it cannot be checked without great difficulty.
We must therefore make every haste, lest Amos should get the upper
hand; for there is already the greatest danger." As the Pharisees
held a consultation, and said, 'Lest the Romans come and take away
our place and nation,' (John 11: 48,) so also Amaziah might have
excited the king by causing him to fear, that the land, the country,
or its inhabitants, had been disturbed by the words of Amos, and
that therefore it was time to put a stop to him. Such was the
message of Amaziah to the king.
    Now our Prophet is wholly silent as to the answer of the king:
it is therefore probable, either that the king was not much excited,
- or that he dared not openly to take away the life of Amos; for he
had probably obtained some authority among the people; and though he
was hated, yet his name as a Prophet and his office were had in
reverence, - or that the matter was by agreement arranged between
the two enemies of sound doctrine, as flatterers often gratify kings
by putting themselves in their place, and by bearing all the ill
will. However this might have been, it is certainly a probable
conjecture, that the king did not interfere, because he was so
persuaded by the priest Amaziah, or because he feared the people, or
because religion restrained him, as even the ungodly are sometimes
wont to contain themselves within the bounds of moderation; not that
they are touched by real fear towards God, or that they desire to
embrace his true worship: they wish God to be thrust down from
heaven, they wish all knowledge of religion to be obliterated; but
yet they dare not pour forth their fury. Such fear then might have
seized the mind of Jeroboam, that he did not tyrannically rage
against the Prophet Amos. But if we regard the tendency of the words
of Amaziah, he certainly wished the Prophet Amos to be immediately
visited with capital punishment; for conspiracy is a crime worthy of
death; and then, fear might have impelled the king to put the holy
Prophet immediately to death. Amaziah therefore expected more than
what he attained: and then appeared his vulpine wiliness, for he
sent for the Prophet and advised him to withdraw to the land of
Judah. Hence, as I said at the beginning, it is very probable that
Jeroboam was not excited according to the expectation of the ungodly
priest of Bethel, who at first was a cruel wild beast; but when he
could not proceed openly to destroy Amos, he put on a new character;
he became a fox, because he could do nothing as a raging lion. Hence
follows his second attempt, "And Amaziah said to Amos", &c.
    I have passed over one clause in the last verse: "Amos says, By
the sword shall Jeroboam die, and Israel, by migrating, shall
migrate from their own land". These, in short, are two heads of
accusation. Some interpreters think that Amaziah had slanderously
perverted the words of the Prophet Amos; for he did not denounce
death on king Jeroboam, but only on his people and posterity: but I
do not insist on this. It might then be, that Amaziah did not
designedly pervert the words of Amos, but only wished to excite the
ill will of the king. Die then shall Jeroboam or his posterity with
the sword, and Israel also, by migrating, shall migrate from their
own land. We hence learn, that Amaziah was not impelled only by the
last address of the Prophet Amos, but that he then discovered the
hatred which he had long harbored. Amaziah therefore had been, no
doubt, on his watch, and had heard what Amos daily taught, and when
he thought the matter ripe, he sent to the king. Having tried this
way, and found that it did not answer, he came to his second
attempt, which we are now to consider.
    Amaziah then said to Amos, - that is, after his first
proceeding disappointed him; for he did not obtain from king
Jeroboam what he expected, - then Amaziah said to Amos, "Seer, go,
flee to the land of Judah!" By saying Go, he intimates that he was
at liberty to depart, as though he said, "Why wouldest thou
willfully perish among us?" At the same time, the two clauses ought
to be joined together. He says first, Go, and then, flee. When he
says Go, he reminds him, as I have already said, that if he wished,
he might go away, as no one prevented his departure: "Go, then, for
the way is open to you." But when he says, flee, he means that he
could not long remain safe there: "Except thou provident for thy
life, it is all over with you: flee then quickly away from us, else
thou art lost." We hence see how cunningly Amaziah assailed God's
Prophet. He proposed to him an easy way of saving his life; at the
same time he urged him with the fear of danger, and declared that he
could not remain safe, except he immediately fled. These then were
the two reasons which he used as mighty engines to depress the heart
of the holy Prophet.
    He afterwards subjoins, "And eat there thy bread". This is the
third argument. He might be allowed to live in his own country, and
be supplied there with sustenance; for Amos was, as we have said,
one of the shepherds of Tekoa. He must then have arisen from the
tribe of Judah, and he had his habitation and his relations in that
kingdom. Besides, Azariah was not an ungodly king: though not one of
the most perfect, he yet respected and honored the servants of God.
Hence, by saying, Eat there thy bread, Amaziah means that there was
a safe residence for the Prophets in the kingdom of Judah, and that
they were there esteemed both by the king and by the people, and
that they might live there. This is the third argument.
    Now follows the fourth: "If thou dost object to me, and say
that thou art a Prophet, and that it is neither lawful nor right in
thee to be silent, be a prophet there. Thou knowest that prophets
are attended to in the kingdom of Judah; thou mayest then perform
thine office there, and live at liberty, and without fear." We hence
see four of the reasons by which Amaziah attempted to persuade the
Prophet Amos to leave the people of Israel, and to go to his own
    But there follows a fifth reason: "But in Bethel prophesy no
more; for the sanctuary of the king it is, and his court". Here
Amaziah annoys the Prophet by another pretence, or he tries, at
least, to shake his courage, by intimating that it was unbecoming to
raise commotions in the kingdom of Israel, and also that, by so
doing, he offended God, because Jeroboam was a divinely appointed
king, and endued with the chief authority. Since then the king
could, by his own right, institute new modes of worship, Amaziah
here argues that it is not in the power of any one who pleased to
pull down those rites which had been universally received, and then
confirmed by a royal edict, but that they ought to be received
without any dispute. We then perceive now the import of the whole.
    But it must be noticed in this place, that we must be watchful,
not only against the open violence and cruelty of enemies, but also
against their intrigues; for as Satan is a murderer, and has been so
from the beginning, so he is also the father of lies. Whosoever then
wishes strenuously and constantly to spend his labors for the Church
and for God, must prepare himself for a contest with both: he must
resist all fears and all intrigues. We see some not so fearful,
though a hundred deaths were denounced upon them, who are yet not
sufficiently cautious when enemies craftily insinuate themselves. I
have not, therefore, said without reason, that God's servants have
need of being fortified against both; that they ought to be prepared
against the fear of death, and remain intrepid, though they must
die, and that they ought to lay down their necks, if needs be, while
performing their office, and to seal their doctrine with their own
blood; - and that, on the other hand, their ought to be prudent; for
oftentimes the enemies of the truth assail them by flatteries; and
the experience of our own times sufficiently proves this. More
danger, I know, has ever been from this quarter; that is, when
enemies attempt to terrify by such objections as these, "What is
your purpose? See, the whole world must necessarily at length be
consumed by calamities. What else do you seek, but that religion
should everywhere flourish, that sound learning should be valued,
that peace should prevail everywhere? But we see that the fiercest
war is at hand: if once it should arise, all places would be full of
calamities, savage barbarity, and cruelty, would follow, and
religion would perish: all this ye will effect by your pertinacity."
These things have often been said to us. When therefore we read this
passage, we ought to notice the arts by which Satan has been trying
to undermine the efforts of the godly, and the constancy of God's
    As to the first argument, there is no need much of dwelling
longer upon it; for every one can of himself perceive the design of
all this crafty proceeding. He says first, Seer, go. Amaziah
addresses Amos in a respectful way: he does not reproachfully call
him, either an exile, or a seditious man, or one unlearned, or a
cowherd, or a person unworthy of his office. He does not use any
such language, but calls him a seer; he concedes to him the
honorable title of a Prophet; for by the word "chozeh", he means
this "I confess thee to be God's Prophet: I grant that thou art a
Prophet, but not our Prophet; Seer, then, go." We hence see that he
left to him untouched the honor of being a Prophet, that he might
more easily creep into his favour, lest by raising a dispute at
first, there should be between them a violent contest: he therefore
avoided all occasions of contention.
    It might however have been asked him, Why he was blind? For the
office of a priest was to watch; and the Prophets were in such a
manner joined to the priests, that when God substituted Prophets in
their place, he indirectly charged them with idleness and
indifference. For why were the priests appointed? That they might be
the messengers of the Lord of hosts, as it is said by Malachi, 'The
people shall seek from the mouth of the priest my law, for he is the
messenger of the Lord of hosts,' (Mal. 2: 7.) Amaziah then ought
especially to have performed himself the Prophet's office, for he
was a priest. He was indeed, I allow, a spurious priest; but having
claimed so honorable a name, he ought to have discharged its duties:
this he did note and conceded that title to the Prophet. So now our
milted bishops are very liberal in conceding titles, "O, Mr.
Teacher, ye can indeed see and understand many things: but yet ye
ought, at the same time, to consult the peace of the community."
They call those teachers who have been invested with no public
office, but are yet under the necessity of undertaking the duties of
others, for they see that these milted bishops are dumb dogs. In a
like manner, also, did Amaziah act towards the Prophet Amos; for he
was content with his own splendor and great pomp, and with his own
riches; he lived sumptuously, and enjoyed a rich booty, and
superstitions well warmed his kitchen. He therefore easily
surrendered to others the title of a Prophet: in the meantime, he
prided himself on his priesthood.
    But as to the second argument, there was a sharper sting in it,
"Flee", he says. By flight he intimates, that it was necessary for
the Prophet to depart, though he wished to remain. So this second
reason was borrowed from necessity; for the Prophet could no longer
be borne with, if he proceeded in the free discharge of his office.
Flee then to the land of Judah, and there eat bread.
    With regard to this third reason, he seems to imply that the
Prophet Amos would be too pertinacious and too much wedded to his
own opinion, if he preferred not to live safely and quietly in his
own country, rather than to endanger his life in another land. Go
then. Where would he send him? To his own country. Why? "Thou art
here a foreigner, and sees thyself to be hated; why then dost thou
not rather return to thine own country, where thy religion
prevails?" Amaziah did not indeed address the Prophet Amos, as man
of profane men do at this day, who are less like Epicureans than
they are to swine and filthy dogs; for they object and say, "Thou
mayest return to thine own country; why hast thou come to us?" They
send us away to our own country, when they know that there is there
no safe place for us. But at that time pure religion flourished in
the land of Judah: hence Amaziah says, "Why dost thou not live with
thy own countrymen? for there are many there who will supply thee
with sustenance; the king himself will be thy friend, and the whole
people will also help thee."
    As to the fourth argument, we see what a crafty sophist is the
devil, "Be a Prophet there". Who speaks? Amaziah, who perfectly
hated the temple at Jerusalem, who would have gladly with his own
hands set it on fire, who would have gladly put to death all the
pious priests; and yet he allows to holy Amos a free liberty to
prophesy, and he allows this, because he could not immediately in an
open manner stop the holy Prophet in his course: he therefore sends
him away to a distance. We hence see that Satan, by various arts and
means, tempts the servants of God, and has wonderful turnings and
windings, and sometimes transforms himself into an angel of light,
as it is said by Paul, (2 Cor. 11: 14:) and in this place we have a
remarkable instance of this. Is not Amaziah an angel of light, when
he advises the Prophet Amos to serve God freely in his own country,
and to prophesy there, and to open his mouth in defense of God's
worship and of pure religion? provided he did not do all this in the
land of Israel. We have then in this chapter, as I have said, a
remarkable instance of the wiliness of Satan.
    Now as to the fifth argument, it is especially needful to dwell
on it. "In Bethel, he says, add no more to prophesy, for it is the
king's sanctuary, and it is the house of the kingdom". Here only
Amaziah shows what he wished, even to retain possession of his
priesthood; which he could not have done without banishing the
Prophet: for he could not contend with him in arguments. He
consulted then his own advantage by getting rid of the Prophet.
Whatever various characters therefore he assumed in the last verse,
and notwithstanding the many coverings by which he concealed
himself, the ape now, as they say, appears as the ape. Amaziah then
shows what he had in views even that he might remain quiet in the
possession of his own tyrannical powers and that Amos should no more
molest him, and pull up by the roots the prevailing superstitions:
for Amaziah was a priest, and Amos could not perform his office
without crying out daily against the temple of Bethel; for it was a
brothel, inasmuch as God was there robbed of his own honor; and we
also know that superstitions are everywhere compared to fornication.
Amaziah then now betrays his wicked intention, "In Bethel prophesy
not"; he would retain his quiet state, and wished not the word of
God to be heard there. His desire was, as we have already said, to
extinguish everywhere the light of heavenly truth; but as he could
not do this, he wished to continue at least in his own station
without any disputes, as we see the case to be in our time with the
Pope and his milted bishops. They became quite mad when they heard
that many cities and some princes made commotions in Germany, and
departed from their submission to them; but as they could not subdue
them by force, they said, "Let us leave to themselves these
barbarians; why, more evil than good has hitherto proceeded from
them; it is a barren and dry country: provided we have Spain,
France, and Italy, secured to us, we have enough; for we have
probably lost more than what we have gained by Germany. Let them
then have their liberty, or rather licentiousness; they will again
some time return, and come under our authority: let us not in the
meantime be over-anxious about them. But let not this contagion
penetrate into France, for one of our arms has been already cut off;
nor let Spain nor Italy be touched by it; for this would be to aim
at our life." Such also was this Amaziah, as it evidently appears, -
Prophesy not then in Bethel.
    And he spoke cunningly when he said, "Add no more to prophecy";
for it was the same as though he pardoned him. "See, though thou
hast hitherto been offending the king and the common feeling of the
people, I will not yet treat you with strict justice, I will forgive
thee all, let what thou hast done amiss remain buried, provided thou
'addest no more' in future." We hence see that there is emphasis in
the expression, when he says, Proceed not, or, add not; as though he
had said, that he would not inquire into the past, nor would accuse
Amos of having been seditious: provided he abstained for the future,
Amaziah was satisfied, as we may gather from his words, Add then no
more to prophesy.
    And why? Because "it is the king's sanctuary". This was one
thing. Amaziah wished here to prove by the king's authority that the
received worship at Bethel was legitimate. How so? "The king has
established it; it is not then lawful for any one to say a word to
the contrary; the king could do this by his own right; for his
majesty is sacred." We see the object in view. And how many are
there at this day under the Papacy, who accumulate on kings all the
authority and power they can, in order that no dispute may be made
about religion; but power is to be vested in one king to determine
according to his own will whatever he pleases, and this is to remain
fixed without any dispute. They who at first extolled Henry, King of
England, were certainly inconsiderate men; they gave him the supreme
power in all things: and this always vexed me grievously; for they
were guilty of blasphemy when they called him the chief Head of the
Church under Christ. This was certainly too much: but it ought
however to remain buried, as they sinned through inconsiderate zeal.
But when that impostor, who afterwards became the chancellor of that
Proserpina, who, at this day, surpasses all devils in that kingdom -
when he was at Ratisbon, he contended not by using any reasons, (I
speak of the last chancellor, who was the Bishop of Winchester,) and
as I have just said, he cared not much about the testimonies of
Scripture, but said that it was in the power of the king to abrogate
statutes and to institute new rites, - that as to fasting, the king
could forbid or command the people to eat flesh on this or that days
that it was lawful for the king to prohibit priests from marrying,
that it was lawful for the king to interdict to the people the use
of the cup in the Supper, that it was lawful for the king to appoint
this or that thing in his own kingdom. How so? because supreme power
is vested in the king. The same was the gloss of this Amaziah of
whom the Prophet now speaks: It is the sanctuary of the king.
    But he adds afterwards a second thing, "It is the house of the
kingdom." These words of Amaziah ought to be well considered. He
says first, It is the king's sanctuary, and then, It is the house of
the kingdom. Hence he ascribes to the king a twofold office, - that
it was in his power to change religion in any way he pleased, - and
then, that Amos disturbed the peace of the community, and thus did
wrong to the king by derogating from his authority. With regard to
the first clause, it is indeed certain that kings, when they rightly
discharge their duty, become patrons of religion and supporters of
the Church, as Isaiah calls them, (Isa. 49: 23.) What then is
chiefly required of kings, is this - to use the swords with which
they are invested, to render free the worship of God. But still they
are inconsiderate men, who give them too much power in spiritual
things; and this evil is everywhere dominant in Germany; and in
these regions it prevails too much. And we now find what fruit is
produced by this root, which is this, - that princes, and those who
are in power, think themselves so spiritual, that there is no longer
any church discipline; and this sacrilege greatly prevails among us;
for they limit not their office by fixed and legitimate boundaries,
but think that they cannot rule, except they abolish every authority
in the Church and become chief judges as well in doctrine as in all
spiritual government. The devil then suggested at that time this
sentiment to Amaziah, - that the king appointed the temple: hence,
since it was the king's sanctuary, it was not lawful for a private
man, it was not even lawful for any one, to deny that religion to be
of authority, which had been once approved of, and pleased the king.
And princes listen to a sweet song, when impostors lead them astray;
and they desire nothing more than that all things without any
difference or distinction should be referred to themselves. They
then gladly interfere, and at first show some zeal, but mere
ambition impels them, as they so carefully appropriate every thing
to themselves. Moderation ought then to be observed; for this evil
has ever been dominant in princes - to wish to change religion
according to their will and fancy, and at the same time for their
own advantage; for they regard what is of advantage to themselves,
as they are not for the most part guided by the Spirit of God, but
impelled by their own ambition. Since then we see that Satan by
these hidden arts formerly contended against God's prophets, we
ought to bewail and lament our own courses. But whosoever desires to
conduct himself as it behaves him, let him watch against this evil.
    It now follows, "And it is the house of the kingdom". Amaziah
contends here no more for the royal prerogative, with regard to
spiritual power. "Be it, that the king ought not to have appointed
new worship, thou hast yet offended against the peace of the
community." The greater part of the princes at this day seek nothing
so much as that they might enjoy their own quietness. They ever
declare that they would he courageous enough even to death in the
defense of their first confession; but yet what are the teachers
they seek for themselves? Even those who avoid the cross and who, to
gratify the Papists, or to render them at least somewhat milder,
change according to their wishes: for we see at this day that the
minds of princes are inflamed by these fanners, not to spare the
sacramentarians, nor allow to be called into question what is
asserted, not less grossly than foolishly and falsely, respecting
the presence of Christ's body, or his body being included under the
bread. "When we show that we contend against them, and that we are
separated from them, nays that we will be their mortal enemies, we
in this agree with the Papists; there will then be some access to
them, at least their great fury will cease, the Papists will become
gentle: they will no more be so incensed against us; we shall
hereafter obtain some middle course." So things are at this day
carried on in the world; and nothing is more useful than to compare
the state of our time with this example of the Prophet, so that we
may go on in our works employing the same weapons with which he
contended and not be moved by these diabolical arts; for we have no
enemies more hostile and open than these domestic traitors.
    "It is then the house of the kingdom". He now speaks of the
secular arm, as they say, and shows that though religion were to
perish a hundred times, yet care was to be taken, lest Amos should
pull up by the roots the kingdom of Jeroboam, and the customs of the
people. It now follows -

Amos 7:14,15
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:
And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto
me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.
    The Prophet Amos first pleads for himself, that he was not at
liberty to obey the counsel of Amaziah, because he could not
renounce a calling to which he was appointed. As then he had been
sent by God, he proves that he was bound by necessity to prophesy in
the land of Israel. In the first place, he indeed modestly says,
that he was not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet: why did he say
this? To render himself contemptible? By no means though the words
apparently have this tendency; but it was to gain for himself more
authority; for his extraordinary call gave him greater weight than
if he had been brought up from his childhood in the schools of the
prophets. He then shows that he became a prophet by a miraculous
interposition, and that the office was not committed to him by human
authority, and in the usual way; but that he had been led to it as
it were by force, so that he could not cast aside the office of
teaching, without openly shaking off the yoke laid upon him by God.
    This account then which Amos gives of himself ought to be
noticed, "I was not a Prophet, nor the son of a Prophet". Had he
said simply that he was not a Prophet, he might have been accused of
presumption: how so? No one takes to himself this honor in the
Church of God; a call is necessary; Were an angel to descend from
heaven, he ought not to subvert public order; (Gal. 1: 8,) for all
things, as Paul reminds us, ought to be done decently and in lawful
order in the Church; for the God of peace presides over us. Had Amos
then positively denied that he was a Prophet, he might on this
account have been thrust away from his office of teaching, for he
wanted 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;
and this is sufficiently evident from sacred history. As then these
colleges were instituted for this end - that there might be always
seminaries 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 indeed honestly confesses that he was an illiterate man:
but by this as I have already said, 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: "See, thou shalt
be my Prophet, and though thou hast not been taught from thy youth
for this office, I will yet in an instant make thee a Prophet." 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 skillful in the law. If then 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.
And to this refers the expression the Prophet uses, when he says,
"Jehovah took me away": for it intimates that his calls as we have
said, was extraordinary. The rest we shall defer till to-morrow.
Grant, Almighty God, that inasmuch as thou permittest reins so loose
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 assails them by crafts,
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
crafts which Satan spreads to deceive the inexperienced, until at
length 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 thy rest we may
enjoy the victory, which is to be daily obtained by us in our
constant struggles with the enemies of the same, thine only Son.

Calvin, Commentary on Amos
(continued in part 17...)

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