“Fictitious invocations” vs cries from the heart

They do not cry to me from the heart,
they wail upon their beds;
for grain and wine they gash themselves;
they rebel against me.

From the John Calvin commentary on Hosea 7:14-

Now the Prophet says here that the Israelites had not cried to God, which is yet the chief thing in repentance. But this expression is to be noticed. They have not cried to me with their heart; that is sincerely. We indeed know that some worship of God had ever remained among them; though the Israelites devised for themselves many gods, yet the name of the true God had never been wholly obliterated among them; but they blended the worship of God with their own inventions; God, at the same time, could not endure these fictitious invocations. Hence he says, that they cried not from the heart. He accuses them, not that they performed no outward act, but that they did not bring a real desire of heart; nay, they only cried to God dissemblingly. We now perceive what the Prophet meant by saying, They have not cried to me with their heart As calling on God is the chief exercise of religion, and especially manifests our repentance, the Prophet expressly notices this defect in the Israelites — that they cried not to the Lord. But as they might object and say, that they had formally prayed, he adds, that they did not do so from the heart; for the outward act (ceremonia) without the exercise of the heart, is nothing else but a profanation of God’s name. In short, the Prophet shows here to the Israelites their hardness; for when they were smitten by God’s hand, they did not flee to him and supplicate pardon, at least they did not do this from the heart or sincerely.


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