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Jeremiah 18:6 . As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in my hand. The sense is given in the next words; the exaltation, or the degradation of a nation, is wholly with the Lord. If they, under the warning, shall repent, and implore mercy, then the Lord will repent, or turn away from the judgments he was about to inflict, and will do them good. How strange, how lamentable then is it that any one should dream here of the personal and eternal election of each individual of the whole human race to happiness and misery! Oh when shall we see our theology purified from all those idle and painful dreams! See on Romans 9:21.
Jeremiah 18:14 . Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon? The supplementary words in the text destroy the sense. It should read, Will the snow thaw on Lebanon, while it covers the rocks on the lower fields? How absurd then must it be, as the prophet infers, for the Jews to leave the Lord for the worship of dumb idols. It is like fetching water afar, when he has a better fountain at his own door; sweet fountains springing at the foot of Lebanon, while the snow melts on its hills.
Jeremiah 18:17 . An east wind, an expression of God’s terrible anger. See on Psalms 48:7. It was connected with drought, and figuratively denotes the visitations of heaven on the land.
Jeremiah 18:18 . Let us smite him with the tongue; or on the tongue, as Pashur did: Jeremiah 20:2. The Chaldaic reads, “Let us bear false witness against him.” The hard lot of faithful men when called to deliver the denunciations of heaven against the guilty; and sometimes they have to seal their testimony with their blood.
Jeremiah 18:21 . Therefore deliver up their children to the famine. God had invested Jeremiah with the sentences of nations, which he held in his hands, Jeremiah 1:10; therefore he foretold in this instance by the Spirit, though not absolutely, what was coming upon them.
We have here the sovereignty of God described by the power which the potter judiciously exercises over the plastic clay. The Jews were marred by idolatry; but he rëorganised them as a nation under Zerubbabel. But St. Paul, the best of commentators, saw in this passage the calling of the gentiles, the new nation of kings and priests, and that every vase of that living temple must be made over again with his own hands.
Though God be absolutely powerful, yet he is unchangeably just. His sovereignty is not arbitrary, as many have supposed. God does not say, Because I have your fates in my hand, therefore I will break or raise you according to my will, without any other regard; but if a nation repent and become obedient, I will save them out of the deepest distress. If they go on in sin, I will destroy them when they think themselves most secure. God distributes his favours as he pleases, but he never punishes by prerogative, or where there is not guilt to deserve it; and in the final distribution of rewards and punishments, he will render to every man according to his works.
Let us lament the prodigious stupidity and obstinacy of sinners. No wonder that God calls the conduct of Israel a horrible thing. They would not give heed to any of Jeremiah’s words; they would not promise reformation, but would follow their own lusts and devices, and encouraged one another to do so. This is the case of many under a christian name; rather than part with their sins, they will smite with their tongue the prophets who reprove them. But God will bring upon them the judgments they despise, and overwhelm them with everlasting destruction.
It will be a great satisfaction to us, when censured and reproached, to be conscious that we have not deserved it; but that, on the contrary, we have wished well, and endeavoured to do kindness to those who have censured us. This is an amiable part of Jeremiah’s character, Jeremiah 18:20; and shows that his imprecations did not proceed from a malicious revengeful spirit, but were prophetic denunciations. Thus let us bless them that curse us, and pray for those that despitefully use us, rendering blessing for cursing. This will be our rejoicing in the day of evil. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 18". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19