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Evidences Sealed and Evidences Open
The placing of the deeds in an earthen vessel or vase was of course peculiar to this case. It was intended to preserve them from damp and decay in their secret hiding-place during the long years of the captivity, as Jerusalem ere many months would be destroyed by the King of Babylon.
I. Consider this mode of the authentication of purchase of property as an illustration of one of the evidences of the truth of the Word of God.
One of the great features of Christianity is that it is based on facts. What Professor Rawlinson says of the historical statements of the New Testament is equally true of the Old. 'When a shallow learning and a defective knowledge of the records of the past have led men to think that they had found a slip or a mistake, and a shout of triumph has been raised, profounder research has always demonstrated the veracity and accuracy of the sacred writer, and has exposed the ignorance of the assailant' Some years ago a Yorkshire clothier lost a bale of cloth. He suspected a neighbour who was in the same business, and whose character was 'none of the best'. He entered his neighbour's warehouse, and pointing to a bale which he immediately recognized said, 'That is mine'. The rogue said, 'Prove it'. The owner of the bale was in a difficulty and went home. He was convinced that he was right, and yet how could he prove his case? One night as he lay awake he suddenly said, 'I have it'. Next morning he took witnesses and said to his suspected neighbour, 'Will you let me take that bale to the drying croft?' The man could not well refuse. The croft is the place where the cloth, after being dyed, is stretched on long, strong needles attached to posts. In this croft no two posts were equally distant. Our friend, taking the cloth, fitted the first needle into the first hole on the edge of the cloth, the second needle exactly agreed with the second hole, and so on to the end. The distances between the holes in the cloth exactly corresponded with the distances between the needles. The case was clear the proof was certain. There are 1000 needles, so to speak, in the Bible, and there are 1000 holes in the land in which the Book was written and in the countries to which the Book refers. Take the cloth to the croft the Book to the lands; compare the narrative with the history of the world to which it continually refers, and in every instance the needle corresponds with the hole. The open evidence is one with the sealed. The mode of evidence which was used by the Jewish people to prove the certainty of purchase strikingly illustrates to my mind this mode of authenticating the veracity of the words of the living God.
II. My text is a striking illustration of spiritual truth. It is in redemption spiritual as it is in redemption literal; there must be two kinds of evidence, sealed and open, to make the title good; so that if either of these be deficient, the claim or title to the Divine heritage is invalid, and we have no manifested interest in the precious blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, through which alone there is forgiveness of sin and an entrance into everlasting life.
1. There are the evidences which are sealed or secret, which cannot be seen, and read, and known, of men. ( a ) The revelation of Christ to the heart in His person and work as adapted to our necessities is a sealed evidence. ( b ) A spirit of adoption is a sealed or secret evidence. ( c ) A secret love to God's people is an evidence that God hath 'sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts'. 'We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.' (d) I can only mention one other evidence of a like character, and that is the love of truth, the loyal allegiance of the soul to all revealed truth. From the time that the entrance of the Word giveth light, the soul loves the light, and continually craves for it.
2. Consider the open evidences. Remember that; this kind of evidence, in verification of the purchase by Jeremiah of the field of Hanameel, was open, that it might be seen, might be read, might be known. To make it manifest that we have an interest in that which Christ has purchased for us, there must not only be the secret evidence within the soul, but the open parchment of a godly and consistent life. A religion which begins and ends with emotion can give no real evidence of our title to everlasting life. We must look to it that we have open evidences as well as sealed, for both are equally needed to prove our title good.
III. 'Put them in an earthen vessel to continue many days.' I believe that the application of these words is to the final restoration of the Jewish people to the land of their fathers; but we are distinctly taught that the captivity in Babylon is a type and picture of the captivity of death and the grave. This thought runs through Psalm and prophecy. The earthen vessel seems to describe the Christian here, frail, of the earth earthy, at present unrecognized as regards his princely condition, and yet one for whom the inheritance is kept.
J. W. Bardsley, Many Mansions, p. 232.
References. XXXII. 14 Spurgeon, Sermons, xxxix. No. 2297. XXXII. 17. Ibid. vol. viii. No. 462. XXXII. 26, 27. Ibid. vol. xxxiv. No. 2020. XXXII. 27. Ibid. vol. xlvi. No. 2675. C Holland, Gleanings from a Ministry of Fifty Years, p. 92. XXXII. 30-42. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxix. No. 2316. XXXII. 39. Ibid. vol. xxvii. No. 1623. XXXII. 40. Ibid. vol. xxxv. No. 2108.
The Enthusiasm of God
God is telling His people the great things He purposes to do for them, and He declares He will accomplish all with His whole heart and with His whole soul. Here we are brought face to face with the kindling fact that God is a God of enthusiasm.
I. God is Enthusiastic.
Enthusiasm is an impressive element of Bible theology. It is God's quenchless enthusiasm which is to establish in triumph the ever-increasing kingdom and peace of Emmanuel. All Christian missionary crusades have as the guarantee of their victory the enthusiasm of God.
If enthusiasm be a quality which Old Testament theology ascribes to God, it is also emphatically accredited to Him by the theology of the New Covenant. It is revealed as an outstanding feature of Him to have seen Who is the Father. 'With My whole heart and with My whole soul' was the motto of His Incarnate life.
Enthusiasm must surely be an essential of a true theology. One cannot conceive of an impassionate God. The very idea and etymology of the word 'enthusiasm' involves God. An ancient Greek finely described enthusiasm as 'a God within'. And such all grand enthusiasm is, and must be evermore.
II. God is Enthusiastic Concerning Human Character.
God's 'people' represent character. And God's enthusiasm for character is shown in His enthusiasm for His people.
The fact is, nothing in man creates such enthusiasm on God's part as the instituting and enhancing of character. Your soul is that in you in which God is most interested, and He is interested in everything about you. Christ's cross is the measure of God's enthusiasm for character.
III. God's Enthusiasm is Beneficent.
There are those whose so-called enthusiasm is self-centred. No altruism irradiates them. Nobody is anything bettered for them. God's zeal is to help, to bless, to enrich men.
IV. The Enthusiasm of God is Exemplary.
All enthusiasm is contagious. The awful peril is that we imitate evil enthusiasms. God's enthusiasm is the true ideal for man. 'Be ye imitators of God.'
V. There are things which do not excite God's enthusiasm.
God has no spark of enthusiasm for much that man burns about. This is apparent in the objects of their respective enthusiasms. God has no enthusiasm for self-centredness. God has no enthusiasm for worldliness. God has no enthusiasm for indifferency. Stoicism is not sanctity.
VI. What a Claim God has on us by Reason of His Enthusiasm.
A God who, with His whole heart and His whole soul, seeks man's highest good, is a God who constrains our devotion.
Here is ground of trustfulness. Can I fear for the morrow when this God is mine? Here is ground of hope. All shall always be well, seeing such a God is mine. Here is ground of service. Too much one cannot do for such a God. Passion is reason in the service of such a God.
VII. We may safely Reckon on God's Enthusiasm, if we be His.
The mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but God's steadfast enthusiasm abideth. Pass through the wilderness gripping that beloved hand.
Dinsdale T. Young, The Enthusiasm of God, p. 1.
References. XXXII. 41. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxiv. No. 2036. XXXIII. 3. Ibid. vol. xi. No. 619; vol. xlvi. No. 2664. S. Martin, Comfort in Trouble, p. 161. XXXIII. 9. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Isaiah and Jeremiah, p. 340; see also After the Resurrection, p. 156. XXXIII. 9. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvii. No. 1636. XXXIII. 11. J. C. Hedley, Sermons in St. Edmund's College Chapel, p. 126. XXXIII. 15-26. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlii. No. 2472. XXXIII. 23. F. Lynch, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lv. 1899, p. 236. XXXV. 2. D. T. Young, Neglected People of the Bible, p. 147. XXXV. 12. A. Ramsay, Studies in Jeremiah, p. 137. A. N. Obbard, Plain Sermons, p. 71. XXXV. 16. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Isaiah and Jeremiah, p. 351. XXXV. 18, 19. A. Phelps, The Old Testament A Living Book for All Ages, p. 201. XXXVI. 3. C. Kingsley, Sermons on National Subjects, p. 316.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 32". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany