Lecture One Hundred and Twelfth
The Prophet, after having denounced God's judgment on those who remained in their own country as well as on the exiles, subjoins this reason, because they hearkened not to the word of the Lord; and this was a most grievous sin. Though ignorance is no excuse before God, for those who are without the Law must perish; yet the servant who knew his Lord's will and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes. And the more abundant God's grace is in calling us to the right way of salvation, the more base is our ingratitude when we close our ears and disregard the concern and care which he manifests for our salvation. Let us then know that nothing is less tolerable than the rejection of the prophetic word.
And we must notice what follows, which I sent them by my servants the prophets The Jews might have otherwise objected and said, that they did not intend to be rebellious against God, but that there were many contentions among the prophets. Lest, then, they should seek an evasion by a pretense of this kind, he says that the word, brought by his ministers and witnesses the prophets, was worthy of no less reverence than if angels came down from heaven to them. And this passage serves to shew the use of external doctrine, which fanatical men despise, thinking the hidden word sufficient, that is, whatever they may dream. But God thus proves the obedience of our faith, while he rules us by the hand and labor of men. Whosoever then rejects the faithful teachers of the word, shews that he is a despiser of God himself. The meaning is, that God defines his word, not as an oracle of any kind, but as the doctrine which has been deposited with faithful teachers.
He afterwards adds, rising up early and sending The metaphor is taken from men who are sedulous and diligent. We indeed know that God never awakes and never changes place; but he could not otherwise express his paternal care toward his people, as though he had said, that he was sedulously engaged in admonishing them. And thus the more inexcusable was rendered the sloth of the people; for God hastened as it were to rise up early, as they who spare no labor, but willingly deprive themselves of some portion of their sleep, that they may complete their work or their journey. As God then manifested so much diligence in securing the wellbeing of men, the more shameful is the sloth of men, when they become deaf, or are not moved, but remain in their indifference. It now follows, —