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Jeremiah 16:2 . Thou shalt not take thee a wife in this place. The prohibition implies the honour of the state of matrimony, because it respects the sentence against a devoted nation. Our Saviour gives the like intimation when the Romans were about to destroy Jerusalem. “Blessed is the womb that never bare, and the paps that never gave suck.” St. Paul, during the Neronean persecution, gives much the same advice. 1 Corinthians 7:26. If a minister at home, or a missionary abroad, shall see his call to a temporary celibacy, or a single life, let it be a consecration of himself to the Lord, and let him regard such a choice as sacred. The jesuits cite this text, but without a shadow of foundation, in favour of their chains. What has celibacy done for either Italy or Spain, where we see great nations covered with gloom, and destitute of strength.
Jeremiah 16:6-24.16.7 . Nor cut themselves for the dead. This custom was carried to great excess among oriental nations. 1 Kings 18:28. Neither was the Jew allowed to attend the funeral feasts, which attracted a vast crowd when a great man died. Of course provision must be proportioned to the company, and these feasts were usually attended with great excess.
Jeremiah 16:16 . Behold, I will send for many fishers. The Chaldeans, skilled in the arts of war, shall draw you out of the holes where Jordan after Easter overflows his banks. After that, I will send for many hunters, to intercept the fugitives on the mountains. The wicked ever sin in hopes of escape; but who can hide from an omnipresent God? Isaiah has a similar remark on the fugitives falling into a pit: Isaiah 24:17-23.24.18.
In this book we are frequently taught to view Jeremiah’s ministry as a long and arduous fight with incorrigible men. God strengthened him for the struggle as a brazen wall, fenced with ditches and towers; and it adds no small lustre to his character, that we see him in this chapter grow stronger and more terrible in the fight. He supported his doctrine by the vigour of his own example. Announcing death to three fourths of the nation by pestilence, (called death, Jeremiah 15:2) by famine and by sword, he abstained from marriage, because he would not involve a helpless progeny in the dire calamities of his country. It imposes silence on the gainsayers, and adds to the weight of divine truth when a minister lives in the spirit, and acts in the belief of his own doctrine.
The judgments of an avenging God are terrible in their character. The men who had feasted on the mountains, in the worship of strange gods, and committed all sorts of wickedness, must now fall on those mountains, and their sinful flesh must be a feast to the fowls of heaven. God’s eye was on all their secret ways, and he was resolved to punish them publicly, that he might be sanctified as Judge of all the earth, and that all nations might learn purity from his high example.
Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness. Jeremiah saw nothing but darkness, for the present; but his faith launching into futurity, he saw a blooming hope for the remnant whom the Lord would spare, as through the fire. He saw the Lord engaged to bring them back from all the lands whither he had driven them, and restoring them to their own land. But faith does not look at temporal mercies only; these are to spiritual blessings but as the shell to the kernel; and the land in Babylonia was as rich as the land of Judea. Therefore Jeremiah looked at all the good which the Lord would do to his people by the Messiah, the hope of Israel, and the Saviour thereof in the time of trouble: Jeremiah 14:7. The gospel hope especially can comfort the church at the worst of times, and cause Zion to rejoice even when she is compelled to weep.
Jeremiah not only saw Israel restored, but the heathen converted. Oh Lord, my strength the gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, surely our fathers have inherited lies, and the vanity of idols. This was in part accomplished by proselytes to judaism, whose number in our Saviour’s time was about one fifth of the Hebrew nation. It shall be more fully accomplished in the latter day, by the conversion of all nations to the Messiah, as is largely illustrated in the thirteen last chapters of Isaiah. Thus while anguish and despair await the wicked, hope and the perfection of glory attend the righteous.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 16". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany