Lecture One Hundred and Seventh
10. Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke from off the prophet Jeremiah's neck, and brake it.
10. Et abstulit Chananias propheta ligamen illud (vinculum) e collo Jeremiae prophetae, et confregit illud.
11. And Hananiah spake in the presence of all the people, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years. And the prophet Jeremiah went his way.
11. Et dixit Chananias in oculis totius populi (hoc est, coram toto populo loquutus est,) dicendo, Sic dicit Jehova, In hunc modum confringam jugum Nebuchadnezer, regis Babylonii cum adhuc (id est simulae) fuerunt duo anni dierum e collo omnium gentium: et profectus est Jeremias propheta per viam suam.
It was not enough for the impostor to resist the holy servant of God to his face, without laying sacrilegious hands on that visible symbol, by which it had pleased God to testify that the Prophet's message was true. For such was the tardiness of the people, nay, their insensibility, that they could not be much moved by words; therefore God added a symbol, for Jeremiah carried cords or bands around his neck: and it was a sign of reproach before men, yet, in order to touch the people, he refused not to undergo that reproach.
The band then on the neck of Jeremiah was like a sacrament; for it was a visible sign to establish the credit of his message. And what did Hananiah do? After having insolently inveighed against Jeremiah, and promised deliverance to the people after two years, he violently broke and took off the cord or the band which Jeremiah had around his neck.
We hence see how great and how impetuous is the fury of those whom the devil impels: for when once they arrive at that degree of temerity as to dare to resist the word of God, and, were it possible, to cast him from his own throne, they spare no symbols of his power and glory. We ought especially to notice this madness of Hananiah; for he not only resisted God's servant, and endeavored to subvert his prophecy, but also snatched away the bands, that he might set up the falsehood of the devil in opposition to the true sacrament. This sign, as we have said, availed to confirm the prophecy of which we have heard; but what was done by Hananiah? he not only took away that sign, but by breaking the bands he attracted the attention of men, and by such a representation made them to believe that there would be in two years a deliverance. Then Hananiah displayed his furious zeal in two ways; for he profaned that symbol which Jeremiah had adopted according to God's command, and he also took it away, as though he aimed to be above God, and to overthrow his truth, and would triumph over it.
The same thing we now see done under the Papacy: for we know that what Christ had commanded has been either corrupted, or obscured, or blotted out by them; and they have also devised fictitious sacraments and innumerable pompous rites, by which they fascinate foolish and credulous men. The same did Hananiah; and therefore his disciples and imitators are the Papists; who not only reject or extenuate the testimonies which have come from God, but plainly dishonor his sacraments by arrogantly bringing forward their own devices and inventions.
We must also notice how craftily this impostor insinuated himself; for he seemed to imitate the true prophets of God, for he set a sign before the people, and then added a doctrine. The Papists have their empty signs, but they only delight the eyes, while yet they have no care nor concern for the ears. But Hananiah came still nearer to God's servants, so that he might deceive even those who were not stupid. What, indeed, could we desire more in this man than that he should set forth a sign? He also added the name of God and declared what was his purpose, in this manner will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar: nor did he speak in his own name, but assumed the person of God, Thus saith Jehovah, I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar.
But as we have elsewhere said, this preposterous imitation of the devil ought not to disturb pious minds; for God ever supplies his own people with the spirit of discernment, provided they humbly pray to him. And therefore whenever Jeremiah repeated the word prophet, which he conceded to Hananiah, as he assumed it himself, for whenever he spoke of Hananiah, he honored him with this name, even that he was a prophet, — the holy man was not ignorant what an occasion of offense it was, when a prophet, who is so acknowledged in the Church of God, is yet the minister of Satan, a liar and an impostor. But his object was to warn us in due time, lest novelty should frighten us when any boasts of the title of a prophet. So the Papists brag that they are prelates and bishops, and boast that they are the successors of the Apostles: but the devil is their chief, who calls himself the Vicar of Christ on the earth. Then Jeremiah designedly called Hananiah so many times a prophet, so that our faith, when any such thing happens to us, may not fail, as though some new thing had taken place. I cannot to-day finish the last part of the verse.