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Bible Commentaries

Sermon Bible Commentary

Jeremiah 6

Verse 16

Jeremiah 6:16

I. We have in this text excellent general advice. Jeremiah says, "Stand and see and ask." I take these words to be a call to thought and consideration. Now, to set men thinking is the great object which every teacher of religion should set before him. Serious thought is one of the first steps towards heaven.

II. We have here a particular direction. "Ask for the old paths." The phrase meant the old paths of faith in which the fathers of Israel had walked for thirteen hundred years the paths of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the paths in which the rule of life was the Decalogue, and the rule of worship was that elaborate, typical, sacrificial system of which the essence was faith in a coming Redeemer. One chief medicine for the spiritual diseases of the nineteenth century is a bold and unhesitating inquiry for old paths, old doctrines, and the faith of the days that are past. Error, no doubt, is often very ancient; yet truth is always old. This age wants nothing new. What it wants is plain, distinct, unflinching teaching about the old paths. There has never been any spread of the Gospel, any conversion of nations or countries, any successful evangelistic work, except by the old-fashioned distinct doctrines of the early Christians and the Reformers.

III. Notice the precious promises with which our text concludes. "Walk in the old paths," saith the Lord, "and ye shall find rest to your souls." Rest for the labouring and heavy-laden is one of the chief promises which the Word of God offers to man, both in the Old Testament and the New. The rest that Christ gives in the "old paths" is no mere outward repose. It is rest of heart, rest of conscience, rest of mind, rest of affection, rest of will. Rest such as this the Lord Jesus gives to those who come to Him in the "old paths," by showing them His own finished work on the Cross, by clothing them in His own perfect righteousness, and washing them in His own precious blood. Faith, simple faith, is the one thing needful in order to possess Christ's rest.

Bishop Ryle, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxi., p. 200.

In what respect should we follow old times? Now here there is this obvious maxim: What God has given us from heaven cannot be improved; what man discovers for himself does admit of improvement; we follow old times, then, so far as God has spoken in them, but in those respects in which God has not spoken in them we are not bound to follow them.

I. The knowledge which God has not thought fit to reveal to us is (1) knowledge connected merely with this present world; (2) scientific knowledge.

II. The knowledge which God has given, and which does not admit of improvement by lapse of time, is religious knowledge. The inspired prophets of Israel are careful to prevent any kind of disrespect being shown to the memory of former times, on account of that increase of religious knowledge with which the later ages were favoured. As to the reverence enjoined and taught the Jews towards persons and times past, we may notice: (1) the commandment given them to honour and obey their parents and elders. (2) This duty was taught by such general injunctions (more or less express) as the text. (3) To bind them to the performance of this duty, the past was made the pledge of the future, hope was grounded upon memory; all prayer for favour sent them back to the old mercies of God. "The Lord hath been mindful of us; He will bless us" this was the form of their humble expectation. (4) As Moses directed the eyes of his people towards the line of prophets which the Lord their God was to raise up from among them, ending in the Messiah, they in turn dutifully exalt Moses, whose system they were superseding. Our blessed Lord Himself sums up the whole subject, both the doctrine and the Jewish illustration of it, in His own authoritative words: "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Plain Sermons by Contributors to " Tracts for the Times, " vol. v., p. 157; see also J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. vii., p. 243.

References: Jeremiah 6:16 . Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times, " vol. x., pp. 307, 317; Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes: Ecclesiastes to Malachi, p. 273; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons', p. 149; H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. vii., p. 170. Jeremiah 6:16 , Jeremiah 6:17 . Homiletic Magazine, vol. ix., p. 265.Jeremiah 6:16-19 . W. Hay Aitken, Mission Sermons, vol. iii., p. 163.Jeremiah 6:20 . Homiletic Magazine, vol. vii., p. 335.Jeremiah 6:29 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xv., No. 890. Jeremiah 7:5-7 . Preacher's Monthly, vol. viii., p. 58.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Jeremiah 6". "Sermon Bible Commentary".