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Verse 3

God shows here that he is not pacified by the vain excuses which hypocrites allege, and by which they think that the judgment of God himself can be turned away. We see what great dullness there is in many, when God reproves them, and brings to light their vices; for they defend themselves with vain and frivolous excuses, and think that they thus put a restraint on God, so that he dares not urge them any more. In this way hypocrites elude every truth. But God here testifies, that men are greatly deceived when they thus judge, by their own perception, of that celestial tribunal to which they are summoned; I, he says, know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me There is to be understood an implied contrast, as though he said, that they were ignorant of themselves; for they covered their vices, as I have said, with frivolous excuses. God testifies that his eyes were not dazzled with such fine pretenses. “How much soever, then, Ephraim and Israel may excuse themselves, they shall not escape my judgment: vain and absurd are these shifts which they use; I indeed am not ignorant.”

Let us then learn not to belie, by our own notions, the judgment of God; and when he reproves us by his word, let us not delude ourselves by our own fancies; for they who harden themselves in such a state of security gain nothing. God sees more keenly than men. Let use then, beware of spreading a veil over our sins, for God’s eyes penetrate through all such excuses.

That he names Ephraim particularly, was not done, we know, without reason. From that tribe sprang the first Jeroboam: it was therefore by way of honor that the name of Ephraim was given to the ten tribes. But the Prophet names Ephraim here, who thought themselves superior to the other tribes, by way of reproach: I know them, and Israel is not hid from me He afterwards expresses what he knew of the people, which was, that Ephraim was wanton, and that Israel was polluted; as though he said “Contend as you please; but you will do so without profit: I have indeed my ears stunned by your lies; but after you have adduced everything, after you have sedulously pleaded your own cause, and have omitted nothing which may serve for an excuse, the fact still will be, that you are wantons and polluted.” In short, the Prophet confirms in this second clause what I have before stated, that men, when they flatter themselves, deceive themselves; for God in the meantime condemns them, and allows no disguise of this kind. Israel and Ephraim gloried, then, in their superstitions, as though they held God bound to them: “This is wantonness,” he says, “This is pollution.” The Prophet indeed does here cut off the handle from all those self-deceptions which men use as reasons, when they defend fictitious forms of worship; for God from on high proclaims, that all are polluted who turn aside from his word.

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