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The lot of the prophet Jeremiah resembled that of most true prophets in that it was sad; but it was, perhaps, exceptionally sad. The age in which he lived was one which, in many particulars, recalls our own; it was an age of crisis, of decaying faith, of change impending and actual. Jeremiah was not naturally a man of strong fibre. Timid, shrinking, sensitive, he was yet placed by God in the foreground of a forlorn hope, in which he was, as it were, predestined to failure and to martyrdom.
I. In this chapter Jeremiah is striving to bring home to his people that things are not as they should be. The days were evil, alike among high and low; there were carelessness, unbelief, self-seeking, insincerity, and, amid all, men were completely at their ease, they were quite secure that no evil could happen to them. Jeremiah thought differently; he knew that greed, falsity, unreality, corruption cannot last. They may be long-lived, but doomsday comes to them in the end.
II. No one will understand the Hebrew prophets who does not feel that they are not uttering vulgar, material oracles, but impassioned, imaginative, metaphorical appeals to eternal principles. The first step in understanding them consists in knowing that they were mainly forthtellers, not foretellers; mainly moral teachers, not predicting seers. The certain doom of sin, the sure hope of a Saviour these are the two simple and awful principles which, on page after page, they set forth with so inspired a force.
III. A sneer has been made on the very name of the prophet of whom we are speaking, and the world thinks it has effectually depreciated any warning about present danger or future peril when it has called it a Jeremiah. Neither the world nor the Church can tolerate a prophet until they have killed him. One thing only can support him, and that is faith. He must see things as they are, see them steadily, and see them whole. For truth and faith the prophet will face death; he will gladly take his place by the side of God's victors, who have been earth's defeated. All men may hate him for Christ's sake, but he will be content.
F. W. Farrar, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxiii., p. 161.
I. In the search for a man look out, in the first place, for one who has a conscience. A true man will aim at having his conscience so healthily active, so acutely, yet not morbidly, sensitive, that it shall not be misled by any specious reasoning, nor deceived by any evil example; but will sharply recoil from what is evil, and sting its possessor if he dare to yield to it.
II. If you are hunting for a man, look out for a being that has a heart. I use the word in its popular sense, and mean a warm, loving, affectionate nature.
III. If you want to find a man, look out for a being who has a soul. I mean that is capable of earnest, serious, solemn thought.
IV. Do not forget to look for a being that has a mind. Our Divine religion is given us, not merely to save souls, but to save man man in the entirety of that complex life which Christ Himself assumed and redeemed. Do not be afraid that in cultivating your minds you will weaken the foundations of your piety.
V. In your efforts to find a man, you must further seek for a being who possesses a will. The brute is guided by its instincts and passions, it is the glory of man to keep his foot upon his nature, and to hold the reins of appetite with a tight hand.
VI. In your search for a man, look out for one who has a creed and a faith.
J. Thain Davidson, Talks with Young Men, p. 31.
References: Jeremiah 5:1 . G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 146; J. R. Bailey, Contemporary Pulpit, vol. iv., p. 166; W. M. Arthur, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxviii., p. 276; A. W. Momerie, Preaching and Hearing, pp. 197, 209, 222.
Commonplace belief in God.
I. Commonplace belief is the assent we give to something which is told us, because we see no reason for thinking the thing untrue in itself, nor yet for calling in question the trustworthiness of the teller; we see no reason why we should deny it; it would imply more interest in the subject than we possess to deny it. We assent to it, and forget all about it the next minute; we have other things to think about, other things to take into consideration, to arrange for, to be anxious about; but it makes no difference to us, whether it be false or true. It neither excites our intellects nor warms our hearts. But let a man believe that the dearest being in all the world is unfaithful to him, and mocks at his fondness when he is absent, and boasts how easily he is duped. Let a beleaguered garrison closed in by ferocious enemies, with food and ammunition spent, at last about to give in and take its grim chance, unable longer to resist let it for a moment believe that to-morrow help will come, let but the sounds of familiar notes be carried on the breezes to ears growing indifferent and dead, and men will start up, cry, and look strong wasted and gaunt though be their frames and beat the drums and shout defiance, till the waiting wolves around them, just ready to spring, are daunted. These are not commonplace beliefs; these are what I will call realistic beliefs.
II. Many of us believe in God in a commonplace way, and because we do so the sensualists around us, who only care to eat and amuse themselves, are right when they say that our belief makes us no better than they are. It is quite possible that to many of us it would matter little if there were no God. We should be neither much better nor much worse. We should do the same work, think about the same things. We should only have to give up our private and family prayers, and perhaps that might almost be a relief. But there cannot be any worth in such a belief. If you do not believe in God as much as you believe in your children, your office, or your horse, how can you think that saying you believe in Him is a virtue which will secure your everlasting salvation?
"First amend, my son,
Thy faulty nomenclature; call belief
Belief indeed, nor grace with such a name
The easy acquiescence of mankind
In matters nowise worth dispute."
W. Page-Roberts, Liberalism in Religion, p. 89.
I. Who is the rebel here spoken of? To rebel is properly to renew warfare. In this its original meaning the word "rebel" is applicable to every sinner. The war between man and his God was ended once for all when Christ suffered. Therefore, whosoever sins, also rebels renews a finished war, and breaks an established reconciliation. The rebel spoken of is, in general terms, a rebel against his God. He is: (1) a rebel against right; (2) a rebel against power; (3) a rebel against love.
II. Observe, as the text and the subject bid us, that even this rebel was not let alone. The hand of God is far-reaching. It is not only in the home of the son, it is not only within the paradise of the upright, it is also over the remote exile, over the wilful wanderer, over the obstinate rebel, that that hand is stretched out still, for correction, for control, if he will, for blessing. So long as we live, God is dealing with us; we cannot get away from His presence; we cannot really make our escape from His Spirit.
III. Note the use made by the rebellious of the Divine discipline. "Thou hast stricken them, but they have refused to receive correction." The correction is there, not for all only, but for each; only the rebel refuses to receive. (1) He misunderstands them. For a long time he does not connect them at all with the thought of God. (2) And when this cannot be; when the arrow fastens itself too deeply and too unmistakably within to leave doubt of whence it comes; then the misunderstanding of the Author changes into a misunderstanding of the motive. Then the man says, "Not because God loved me and would save, but because He hated and would destroy, is this misery come upon me; let me alone, that I may curse God and die." (3) He who has misunderstood the correction goes on to neutralise it by a slight and superficial treatment.
C. J. Vaughan, Voices of the Prophets, p. 272.
References: Jeremiah 5:3 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvii., No. 1585; Ibid., My Sermon Notes: Ecclesiastes to Malachi, p. 271.Jeremiah 5:5 . D. Moore, Penny Pulpit, No. 3401.Jeremiah 5:10 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. i., No. 38; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 148; W. M. Punshon, Old Testament Outlines, p. 244.Jeremiah 5:13 . G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 147. Jeremiah 5:14 . Preacher's Monthly, vol. vi., p. 156. Jeremiah 5:21 . Ibid., vol. iv., p. 206.
Notice the results of self-will as shown in the text.
I. Self-will in relation to the Divine government destroys the natural capacities and faculties of man.
II. Self-will in relation to the Divine government plunges the soul into irreverence.
III. Self-will dissociates the gifts of nature from the Giver.
Parker, City Temple, vol. ii., p. 246.
References: Jeremiah 5:22 . Homiletic Magazine, vol. xi., p. 201.Jeremiah 5:22-23 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iv., No. 220.
I. One of our besetting sins is the habit of overlooking God's hand in the midst of His own works. It is a sin of very old standing in the world, and it has its root in unbelief, because men will not trust God's word will not in their hearts believe that He careth for them.
II. Note the practical lessons brought home to us by the return of the season of harvest. (1) One lesson is a lesson of patience, of trustful waiting upon God, arising out of a conviction that He will not fail in anything He has said; that "whilst the earth remaineth seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease." (2) Another lesson which this season teaches us is a lesson of thankfulness. God has reserved to us the appointed weeks of the harvest. He has again brought food out of the earth, and bread to strengthen man's heart. Surely we should praise the Lord for His goodness, and lift up our hearts with our hands to Him in the heavens. (3) "The harvest is the end of the world." And why is it so? Because it shows forth what will happen in the end what will be the proceedings of the day of judgment. Everywhere we are taught that the day of judgment will be a day of sifting and separation. If the righteous scarcely be saved in that day, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
R. D. B. Rawnsley, Village Sermons, 2nd series, p. 80.
References: Jeremiah 5:24 Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times, " vol. viii., p. 185; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xv., No. 880; Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 179; R. Tuck, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 216; J. B. Heard, Ibid., vol. xx., p. 294; E. Blencowe, Plain Sermons to a Country Congregation, 1st series, p. 318. Jeremiah 5:25 . Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xiii., p. 140.
In more modern phrase the text reads: (1) People decline to look facts in the face; (2) No state of things exists anywhere but that it has its results as well as its cause.
I. You may read and know, if you will, that as our country advances, as we say, in wealth and the products of wealth, there is something else which is increasing too, and a very strange spectre it is, to be growing as it does under such circumstances. That spectre is poverty. Can we think on this and not know that there is the further question to be asked, "What will ye do m the end thereof?" Whatever might be the various ways in which the economist or politician might describe the working of the phenomena, the evil cause lies farthest back, of course, in our feelings on the subject, and in the thoughts of our hearts; and the selfishness of classes, which have the history of the country for the present in their own hands, is the real root of all.
II. I know not that there have ever been in the world any principles, save those of Christ, which strike at selfishness as the root of all evil in society; and selfishness is a thing that can only be cured from within. No rules can put a stop to it, and unselfishness must be learnt as everything else has to be learnt, by practising by beginning on a small scale, by going on to more difficult exercises; and the grammar of unselfishness is self-discipline and self-denial on a small scale. Any religion or religious sect which tells you not to trouble yourself about self-denial as a real discipline is an instrument of self-deception. It will not promote unselfishness; it will not in the end have any good or large effect upon society; and if churches become leavened into a general feeling that there is no special work for them in this direction, that it is not their business to teach self-discipline to each subject of their influence, the work of that church is nearly over, or at any rate it must make a new beginning.
Archbishop Benson, Boy Life: Sundays in Wellington College, p. 89.
References: Jeremiah 5:31 . S. Martin, Westminster Chapel Pulpit, 4th series, No. 4; Plain Sermons by Contributors to " Tracts for the Times, vol. x., pp. 258, 266. Jeremiah 6:14 Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vi., No. 301.
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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Jeremiah 5". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent