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Lecture Second

We began yesterday to explain the passage where the Prophet says, that the enemies of Jerusalem had become the head and had been successful. It was a trial which must have grievously assailed the minds of the faithful, when they saw their enemies having fortune, as they commonly say, as it were in their own hand; for it appeared as though God shewed himself favorable to them. Hence the Prophet assigns the reason, lest the faithful should fall off from religion and the fear of God, and says that the whole of this proceeded from the just vengeance of God, it being his purpose to afflict his own Church; and he states not this alone, but adds, on account of the greatness of her iniquities For ungodly men sometimes acknowledge that they have to do with God, but yet they murmur and think that God is unjust and cruel. Hence the Prophet not only taught the Jews that God was the author of the calamities which had happened, but at, the same time reminded them that they were worthy of such a reward, not only because they had transgressed, but because they had added sins to sins; for this is what he means by the greatness of iniquities. But he will presently repeat this sentence and enlarge upon it: it is then enough now to state his object. It was for this cause, then, as he says, that her little ones went into captivity before the adversary.

It was, indeed, an indignity, calculated to embitter the minds of the faithful, to see not only their young men but also infants so cruelly treated. For men always think that they have some just cause to contend with God, and especially when the case of infants is brought forward; who, then, is not disposed to say that God’s vengeance exceeds its due limits? “If his purpose be,” say they, “to punish men for their wickedness, why does he not restrain his wrath as to the innocent? for how have miserable infants sinned?” But the Prophet here checks such audacity, and says that God had just reasons for extending his vengeance even to the little ones. 126126     
   5. Become have her oppressors the head,
Her enemies have prospered;
For Jehovah has afflicted her
For the number of her transgressions;
Her children are gone into captivity
Before the face of the oppressor.

   The word צר is not an” adversary,” but an oppressor, one who straitens and oppresses another. — Ed.
It now follows, —

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